Rubber Chickens

Feb 12, 2013 11:26pm

We are down to the wire here at rehab; I may be going home soon. This does not mean that my healing is done, far from it, but my time living in the acute rehab center is drawing to a close. There is just some haggling with the insurance company as to when exactly I will head out (there is also the issue of an excruciatingly expensive week in intensive care that may not be covered by insurance, but that’s another story…) As it stands, I may be going home this week or the next.

Of course, I am excited about the prospect of going home but I must admit to some trepidation as well. I have only been walking unassisted for a week, so my stride is two parts Jerry Lewis busting for a pee and one part of a doddering little old lady with sagging underwear. This is far from the square jawed, heroic personification that was recently posted here :). So, as much as I want to get out out of here, a few more weeks practicing walking would be much better.

Anyway, in the event that I do leave this week, I would do exercises at home to build up my strength, while being watched over by an in-home physical therapist once a week, until I grow strong enough to make my way to the outpatient physical therapy center. Next, I would have 2-3 months of therapy, 2-3 times weekly until I am strong enough to continue mending on my own.

Every few days during my recovery so far, I have to readjust my estimates of how long the process will take. In my early days, with the flawed judgement of a recently severely traumatized and bruised brain, I thought I would be back to fighting trim in 6 months or so. Now I realize that it will be a process of years, will require some major adjustments, and that the best approach is to think of it one day at a time.

Thankfully, I do not have to do this all on my own. Right from the moment I was struggling for consciousness in a palsied tangle on the floor of our apartment, Julia showed up in the nick of time to call the ambulance. By doing so, she quite literally saved my life, and she has been by my side ever since. What a marvelous girl she is. How would I ever get through this monumental task without her? I’m so grateful that I will never know the answer to that horrifying question because I have Julia by my side. Dear Julia.

I have been extremely fortunate in my choice of brothers. My brother Jo was at my bedside within 24 hours of my stroke, in fact he was here before my mind was even remotely functional again. For the next few weeks he was with me as I clawed my way back to semi-lucidity. He now is back with his family in Virginia and I will always be grateful for the time he watched over me and provided a friendly face when I woke from sporadic sleep, or gave words of wisdom in the early days of my recovery.

Within a week of Jo departing, my brother Rob made the long trip from Australia and he is keeping me on target as we speak. At present, he is helping me with this newfound superpower of walking. At the end of February my brother Dom will take over. By the time he gets on a plane back to his family, I should be mobile and hopefully semi-autonomous. It is impossible for me to imagine getting through this ordeal without these tight-knit group of warriors and loved ones.

Now that my quad muscles have finally properly activated, walking is the priority and I hobble along hesitatingly with a cane. The neural pathways are being rewritten as we speak, so the walking is still very sporadic and broken-robot like, and takes every iota of my concentration, and a fair bit of grunting besides. Another problem is that my muscles have atrophied in the past month and I have a lot of trouble walking beyond a short distance. Hence the importance of AC/DC therapy.

My brother Rob has appointed himself as the therapist administering this powerful therapy; offering affirmations and exhortations as AC/DC music (Bon Scott thank you very much) blasts out of the stereo. I can only imagine what this might look like; me flat on my back on my hospital bed, sweating bullets, and doing a red faced bicycle maneuver, as my brother massages and supports my enfeebled legs, while yelling “it’s all you, bro” isms… judging from the expressions of startled horror from the nurses, who promptly slam the door and beat a hasty retreat, it must be bordering on pornographic.

I knew that I did not breathe properly and often forget to breathe altogether when engrossed in some task or other, so having my brother Rob on board as my full time breath coach and mindfulness guru has been invaluable.

In a significant gear change from ACCA/DACCA, one evening the three of us played CDs of Buddhist chants, and had a lengthy chat with one of our nurses who was once a Buddhist nun. Suddenly, a package was delivered to my hospital room that contained a fart machine and a rubber chicken amongst other wonderful, silly, paraphernalia. My old friend John Stevenson has his own approach to the mental health of hospital patients.

I have been lucky enough to get quite a few lovely cards and presents since my time in hospital. Movies, plush toys, books, food and personal artwork as well, all including some beautiful glass birds. I think my room is the most colorfully decorated in the ward, thanks to all my friends. Which brings me back to my earlier point; I’m so glad that I don’t have to slog this out on my own.

Thank you, all of you.

16 thoughts on “Rubber Chickens”

  1. Yeah, OK, so whenya comin’ to the farm? We’re having a Spring Break Blowout. Everybody gets chores. We’ll give you the assignment of getting the mail – a quarter mile walk from the front door!
    Love ya,
    — Jon McClenahan, February 12, 2013

  2. We are behind you all the way and in any way needed! I have also gotten a couple of Feldenkrais therapist recommendations that you might like for supplemental therapy at home. I noticed that Jill Bolte Taylor received a lot of benefit from Feldenkrais.
    So much love and appreciation for the grace that you and Julia bring to our lives!
    — Nina Hatfield, February 12, 2013

  3. Dearest Jamie! Love hearing your recent post! Thank the heavens you still have your sense of humor, a very important tool to have in your journey back to recovery:) I have NO doubt in my mind that you’ll come full circle & battle this battle. I know Phil feels the same.
    I think of you often, but giving you & Julia the space you need.
    And how about that Julia? what a true treasure you’ve got there.
    She’s an amazing, wonderful, super woman!
    We are here for you both when you’re ready. & along the guru theme, if you ever need a meditation teacher I’m your girl. I’m currently studying to be a certified meditation instructor. Yes……strange new twist I know I know……but it does help & there are studies that have proven that meditation can change how the brain works. Not to mention stress relief etc yadda yadda. Just say the word & I’ll be there. It’s actually very cool.
    & that’s all I’ll say about that stuff now.
    Just know I’m always thinking of you. I know this is a tough one on both of you, family & friends as well. I’m sure you’re realizing how loved you are. How great is that?
    All my love to you & Julia
    — Jennifer Livingston, February 13, 2013

  4. Jamie’s room in the acute rehab is THE FUN ROOM. AC/DC stretch sessions, Buddhist chanting, fart machines rigged under chairs for unsuspecting RN’s, rubber chickens, didigerdoo lessons, bad jokes, good jokes, long rambling stories, Christmas lights, silly sketches from friends all over the world! We are definitely on the HIGHWAY TO HELL! haha

    🙂 xoxoxoxoxo
    — Julia Lundman, February 13, 2013

  5. Jamie, I have an unanswerable question for you. I just read your latest posting and immediately I thought, “Oh good, Jamie is back. The quirky humor, the strange metaphors that no one else would conjure up…” And yet I know, medically speaking, that part of your brain has been damaged. How is it that you are still there? It would seem you have a backup copy of you. Where is the “you” part of you? What part (aside from the walking control bit) is missing? What the &*^@! is going on? Basically, what is all this like for you, being on the “inside”?

    — Pete Docter, February 13, 2013

  6. Hi James, well,….wow. Home. Now the real journey begins. How well you’ve done to come so far in such a relatively short amount of time, surrounded & supported as you said by the love of the lovely Julia, an
    amazing family & beautiful friends. You’re never alone. I can imagine when you have been so vulnerable that the acute rehab has provided a safety & security, so it must seem a bit daunting the prospect of heading home, but home will be the best place to heal now. With all your things & Julia, & friends can drop by. No doubt there’s much work ahead of you, but like you said, one step at a time. Doesn’t matter how you walk or anything. You’re here, & I for one am so grateful. Keep up the good work. We are all here for you because we love you, & we’ll all keep being here for you because you’re worth every inching of being loved. You’re a good man James Baker.

    I think there’s going to be a very happy cat waiting to see you when you get home too :0) love you lots, James xo
    — Janine Dawson, February 13, 2013

  7. hot Damn! that’s some good news Jamie! Not a shabby post there too. You make being awesome seem so simple. That’s the Jamie i know and love.
    never doubted for a second that you were one tough pain no gain, i know easy for me to say. i’m just frakkin’ pumped to hear of this progress. go baby go!
    Julia you are a Rock in the storm. I can’t say thank you enough for being there for Jamie. He has an angel looking out for him and she rides in a shiny mini cooper.
    — bosco ng, February 13, 2013

  8. Hi James! Tyler and I were so happy to get to speak with you last night. It was so wonderful to hear your voice!!! We are all thinking of you constantly here…well maybe not Tyler who has a new girlfriend so can be excused for lapsing in uncle-reflection. He is taking Aislin out for Valentine’s Day and has been doing chores for 5 days in preparation so he can whip out his new credit card and appear the dashing, chivalrous, wealthy, suave sophisticate that he is.
    And Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Julia!!
    Love,Priscilla et al
    — Priscilla Baker, February 13, 2013

  9. It surprises me not at all that your room is The Fun Room. Many many years ago I lived down the hall from another The Fun Room, and I made a point of finding my way there and knocking. The people I met behind that door are some of my very best friends to this day. You too may draw people to your The Fun Room. 30 years from now you may be telling people how you met… how the siren strains of AC/DC tunes and Australian- accented grunts and laughter gave someone the strength to hobble or roll up to your door… Who knows?! If I were your neighbor I know I would.
    So happy to hear about your continued accomplishments. So happy to read Julia’s thoughtful and inspired updates and your wry personal accounts. Keep up the hard work!
    — Stephanie Hornish, February 13, 2013

  10. Hey Jamie. I’ve been hanging on to each gem of information
    that you and Julia have been able to disclose. I’ve been drawn to tears and
    find myself dwarfed by the immensity of your situation, often frozen, not quite knowing how to respond. Awestruck by the
    journey of your recovery, I have come to comprehend how such little things that I take for granted are now such monumental achievements in your life. I take heart in the words that stream from your consciousness as I detect your untarnished, indomitable spirit shining through it all and I look forward to
    the time you physically come back just as strong or stronger than you were before. See you when i get back.
    Much love, brother.
    — wes takahashi, February 14, 2013

  11. WOW lucky you have a big family Jimmy and your girl is indeed marvelous. I think living in the moment is good advice for all of us, it’s how we should live anyway.
    It must be so frustrating for you but at the same time it sounds to me like you are leaping ahead. Gypsy is moving over to L.A. in 4 weeks time so if we get time to visit her we will definitely fly up to S.F and see you, I just hope there’s room for us you surely have a lot of people looking out for you, You know why that is don’t you it’s because your a good Joe. Keep up the good work I don’t think a day goes by without you in my
    239 / 305
    Lots of love and hugs galore. X Joy
    — Deane Taylor, February 14, 2013

  12. Happy Presidents Day, Jamie! I’m so glad to hear of all the support you have down there and so proud of you for your ongoing patience and perseverance. Lots of love to you and Julia. xoxo Anne
    — Anne Smith, February 18, 2013

  13. Jamie,
    I’m so glad you are well enough to go home soon…I can’t wait to pay you a visit soon! You’re a beast! You’ll recover completely sooner than you think — I know it! Take care, brother! I love you, man!
    You’re the BEST!
    — Steward Lee, February 18, 2013

  14. So great to keep hearing from you and all your strides forward in this, hope to see you soon. I have nothing dirty and/or offensive for this email, but don’t worry, I’ll be back with a Profanasauras update soon enough.
    — Jonathan Rosenthal, February 20, 2013

  15. The big hearted Phar Lap DNA is alive and strong in the Baker clan! How can you stop the rehab outlaw Jim Baker? Hell, if you try there’s a Baker waiting in the wings… and if you stop him there’s another … and ANOTHER! With a ‘he ain’t heavy attitude’, this is how the Baker boys roll.
    — John Dillon, February 14, 2013


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