Tonight is the last night we will spend in acute rehab. Tomorrow Jamie will be discharged and move to our second apartment/office at Washington Street, which was Jamie’s original apartment for over 15 years before we moved in together. We’ve kept it all this time since it is affordably rent controlled, in an awesome location downtown, and serves perfectly as Jamie’s daytime office when he is not working at Pixar.
The reason for the move to Washington Street rather than our apartment on Arballo Drive has to do with stairs. The Washington Street place has an elevator with only three stairs outside the building and our place on Arballo Drive has two steps outside and then a rather daunting staircase inside. So Washington Street it is for now.
For the next week, Rob and a home-care physical therapist will be with Jamie during the day to work on strengthening his leg muscles and to practice walking up and down the hallways. When Rob flies back to Australia, Dom Baker, will arrive to pick up the baton. After Dom’s month long stay, we hope Jamie can move back to Arballo Drive and also start going to the outpatient clinic instead of in-home physical therapy.
While all of this is great and exciting progress, it also comes with some trepidation. Ok not some, but a lot – mounds, heaps, stacks, tons. Acute rehab has amounted to around the clock care and a huge support team of RN’s, Nurse’s assistants, Doctors, Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapists. The work performed in supporting us both physically and emotionally has not only been necessary during this critical time, but also incredibly comforting. At the same time, the entire point of acute rehab for a stroke patient is to move through the most debilitating early stage of paralysis and cognitive impairment into retraining the body and mind toward increasing independence, an independence that feels like standing at base camp looking up at the peak of Mount Everest – challenging, frightening, daunting.
It is in these moments that I come back around and feel so thankful for the presence of Jamie’s brother Rob. Rob brought not only his intensely focused presence, but also his Buddhist
meditation practice, his many books on Buddhist thought, and constant reminders to be “mindful”. He has been such an amazing brother to Jamie and a good friend to me also. His hard work in keeping Jamie focused has directly caused many breakthroughs and helped both of us move through difficult moments. As a creative person too, he has been great company – perfectly tuned to the kind of stuff Jamie and I regularly discuss and laugh about.
With each transition brings a new Baker, it seems – each with their own special talent, to help him through this difficult time. Maybe Mount Everest is instead more about a swelling of love and loyalty for Jamie than it is about scaling a cold mountain with little oxygen. This demonstration of love for Jamie has been written in my neural code forever, and I know, despite the stroke, it has never left Jamie’s even for a moment.