Dear Friends, Dear Family,
If you ever find yourself in need of an acute rehab center for either yourself or a loved one, among the many points you may want to consider is whether or not the place has washing machine and dryer. While Jamie has been in acute rehab, I have been splitting my time between commuting to my job in Palo Alto and sleeping most nights at the rehab located smack in the middle of the Castro in San Francisco, while also taking some breaks in between to feed and love our cat Maggie and grab some new clothes.
I’ve found it it surprising during this health adventure that clothing has turned out to be such a big issue. Instead of wearing a hospital gown, Jamie is required to wear t shirts and sweat pants for his numerous workouts, plus a few sweaters for outdoor excursions. My needs are different; I require appropriate clothing for work and comfortable clothing while at rehab, all of which I pack into the suitcase that I gave to Jamie for his birthday last year for the many travels we have hoped to go on together.
Since the event happened, two enormous piles of clothes have been accumulating: one pile of Jamie’s dirty clothes at the rehab and one pile of mine at home. As luck would have it, earlier this week a fellow caregiver let me in on a secret: washing machines and dryers for the families of patients in the rehab!!!!!!!! Last Sunday as the Superbowl began, I joyfully geared up for a full afternoon of clothes washing, drying and folding in the rec center of our floor, accompanied by patients and their families who were all gathered around the tv watching as our 49ers played. As the game started, I threw piles and piles of dirty, sweaty, filthy clothes into the machine, finding a strange satisfaction in the sorting of greys, darks, whites, being careful about air drying sweaters, considering hand washing of my tights, whether or not to fold sweat pants… just happy that clothes were finally being washed and not washed at home.
As boxers were washed, hoodies were dried, and t shirts were folded, I stopped to savor the significance; we were all having a great time, I mean, a really great time! It is understandable that a lot of people might look upon a place like actue rehab as a terrifying place to end up; the mind easily conjures up images of misery and terror. While it is undeniable that there is a great deal of difficulty for all of us here as our loved ones have suffered strokes, severe brain injuries, and massive trauma, there is so much more going on. On a daily basis, Jamie, Rob, and I witness moments of sheer excitement, joy, happiness, and even laughter as breakthroughs happen in recovery and togetherness.
While the Super Bowl was on, a teenager who suffered a severe head trauma and subsequent brain injury was having a fantastic time with his parents, who were there by his side cheering our team, fellow stroke patients and their spouses laughed at commercials, and spinal cord injury patients were with their loved ones. We all had a happy day together watching the Super Bowl just like most families across our nation and the world. This weekend I opened up a favorite writer’s work and came upon this passage:
“I was eager ro reach the extreme verge [of Yosemite Creek] to see how it behaved in flying so far through the air; but after enjoying this view and getting safely away I have never advised any one to follow my steps. The last incline down which the stream journeys so gracefully is so steep and smooth one must slip cautiously forward on hands and feet alongside the rushing water, which so near one’s head is very exciting. But to gain a perfect view one must go yet farther, over a curving brow to a slight shelf on the extreme brink… To me it seemed nerve-trying to slip to this narrow foothold and poise on the edge of such a precipice so close to the confusing whirl of the waters… So glorious a display of pure wildness, acting at close range while cut off from all the world beside, is terribly impressive… the rainbow light forming one of the most glorious picture conceivable.” – John Muir, Yosemite
At the top of this rocky precipice together we see the most beautiful vision of love and care imaginable. It is a beauty that I had not anticipated, and one that has been imprinted on my mind forever.
Phillip Glass, from “The Hours”.