I saw Sam last Saturday….five days ago. It took me four days to think about what I wanted to say, and I’ve been flat out so – finally – here I am. A lot has happened, Sam’s friend and neighbor Elaine Dixon died after several days of being in critical condition from an accident, she was hit and run over by a car. Some of Sam’s good friends have arranged for him to get to the funeral this Saturday, bless them. I know its important to Sam.
He’s having a rough time. He won’t admit it, probably, but here’s my suspicion. The reality of the decay of the speech center and fine motor control muscles that produce speech is here. His mind is still as sharp as ever, but its harder to tell because it takes him so much effort to speak. Folks have to be more patient than ever, adjusting to his speed, and reading very small cues. I gave him a hard time about not giving cues sometimes when he thinks what he wants is so damn obvious any fool would get it (!) – but folks are trying to be respectful and be sure. I said he’s gotta give us those cues even when it seems obvious to him.
The flip side, is folks being in a hurry and not waiting for his response. An aide came in while I was there the other day and asked Sam the same question three times in a row with barely 2 seconds pause in between. Sam surely had the answer in his mind, but there’s some massive organizational process that has to occur to get his mouth to cooperate, and you’ve just got to hang in there with him.
i’ve been thinking about a communication board. A friend recommended a few places to look today – at VR, RSVP, the COA….it seems to me the social worker at Eden ought to be right on top of this, but maybe she just needs a nudge, or maybe we need to make it happen. If anyone has immediate knowledge of where, how, who please let me know, would you?
Meanwhile, I told Sam I’d be gone for the summer and he was downright sad. I hadn’t expected that, as avid a traveler as he’s always been, and as much as he’s encouraged me to leap on any opportunity that came my way. So that was my clue there’s a bit more going on in that ol’ geezer. His mood’s good, but I think visitors are more important than ever now, and especially those with the patience to let there be silences while Sam musters up the resources to articulate. I think because its so much work, he’s a lot more selective in what he tries to say also. If its a minor point, or a small misunderstanding, he’s likely to just let it go, because he’d rather focus on saying other, more important or meaningful things. Like the messages he wanted me to relay to all of you who responded to the last entry with posts and emails. 🙂
Ruth – Sam smiled big remembering our drinking! He wants you to drink in his honor; we couldn’t tonight because he’s still on antibiotics. Oh – he’s off the oxygen machine now, that happened sometime last week. And he looks tons better, must be close to finishing this second round of high-powered drugs.
Nona – Sam loved the joke you sent! He was a little surprised that you sent it! I guess he’s under the impression you didn’t share his taste in jokes?!! Anyway, he says, “Keep ’em coming!” He also wants to know what courses Kelly is taking. 🙂
Dick & Emily – Sam’s wondering how Emily is doing? He remembers college too. 🙂 And wants to know who you think you are teasing him about being in the warm weather while winter is still dumping 7 inch snows on us?!!!! Of course, its a tease. He hopes you’re both doing well.
Larry – Sam invites you to drop by anytime, with or without a movie or drink. He’d love to see you. 🙂 And I thank you for giving me the correct term. Paul Gustafson holds the Durable Medical Power of Attorney for Sam. If I’m lucky, I’ll get by tomorrow to talk with Shirley about being added to the list of people who’ll be notified asap if something happens to Sam and there’s time for folks to come and be with him.
Bea – Sam thanks you for thinking of him. Of course he’d love to see you, you and Alvino, you and a friend, in fact any combination of you solo or with others would make him quite happy. 🙂 Regardless, he hopes you and your family are doing well.
Ana Elisa – oh if I could describe to you Sam’s face when I read your message to him! He simply beamed with delight. 🙂 You made him so happy with just those few short lines! He misses his Brazilian family very much. Of course he’s glad you’re all doing well. He wants you to know that he was sick for awhile, the doctor came and gave him medicine and put him on an oxygen machine, and now he is all better.
David, Sam says hello. 🙂
Lee and Christine, Sam kept talking about the two of you! He’s really looking forward to the air purifier which should be arriving anytime now (maybe it already has). He thinks he’s got it arranged for one of the staff to set it up for him. Chris, Sam wants you to know how much he enjoys your wedding picture. He certainly enjoyed your visit. 🙂
Sam shared a bit about his routines in the nursing home. He goes to physical therapy three times a week to work on his eyes, hands, arms, and legs. his right side has kinda started to collapse on him, so he needs a fair bit of propping up. He kept slumping over this last time and I asked if I should just lay down on the floor so we could have easy eye contact while talking. It was a tease, of course, but it may come to that at some point, who knows? Anyway, Sam finds the PT enjoyable.
He needs to see a dermatologist, but otherwise, he was in really good spirits. As i said, he wasn’t too excited I’d be gone for the summer, and he wants you all to know I won’t be able to post these summaries for awhile. Maybe we can work out some alternative – actually, Sam suggested that Tom and Lou and I might be able to coordinate some way for me and Sam to keep in touch. If we work that out then I’ll still be able to share a little bit here.
For someone who can’t talk very much, Sam conveyed a lot of information during that visit! He told me how he used to run his leadership seminars and about his summer job working at the Carl Rogers Institute: “I gave good phone,” he bragged. (Can you imagine?!!) He also proudly described himself as a phd dropout. He completed all his coursework in organizational psychology but never took comps. Just stopped. Obviously other things were more compelling to him then, and frankly, he had quite the life without the title, can’t see as it hurt him much at all.
With that, I’ll call it a wrap for this evening. Hugs and love to all, you know Sam holds you close in his heart.