One of the last Case Conferences I had with Paul’s medical and therapy team before he was officially discharged from hospital was an absolute hoot. A Case Conference usually comprised of Paul’s neurologist, his Case Manager, the Physiotherapist, the Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist, Dietician, his LifetimeCare Coordinator (insurer) and, of course, me! We were huddled in this little meeting room at the brain injury unit. The meeting would commence with each individual going around the room giving their updates on Paul’s care. I would interject every now and then to give my opinion or state my observations. Before going into this particular meeting, Paul’s mum, the dreaded mother in-law ( just kidding, I know you’re reading this) had asked me to find out from Paul’s neurologist, what her opinion was on Paul regaining the ability to ever walk again. After everyone had their turn of speaking, I put the doctor on the spot.
“Do you think, in your opinion, Paul will ever walk again?” She clearly wasn’t expecting that question. I liked Paul’s doctor. She always was able to give me a straight answer, direct and honest. This question made her pause for an awkwardly long time though. I was pissing myself laughing (on the inside, of course.) I could see her brain ticking over, trying to put into words a nice way to say “Oh hell no. He ain’t never walking again, love.” Instead, she gave a sympathetic speech about how important it was for Paul to feel like he was the head of the family. We should allow him to sit at the head of the table during meals and include him in all our family activities. Never, in all my life, have I seen a doctor squirm and dance around a topic. To the outsider, I was actively listening to her every word. On the inside, I was laughing so hard I nearly wee’d myself. I knew she couldn’t give me the answer that my mother in-law was looking for. How could she? She was a doctor, not God. But I wanted to see how she would answer such a question and she certainly didn’t disappoint.
Looking back on that day, I appreciate the effort Paul’s doctor went to, to spare my feelings and soften the blow. It is a confronting topic for any normal person, except….. I’m not normal. By that time, I had already decided that Paul was going to walk again, even if he had to spend the rest of his life trying to do so. “Don’t get too attached to that wheelchair, Pauly. It is not part of our long- term plan,” I said to him one day. I often remind him that his girls will need to be “walked” down the aisle one day. Layla is 9 and Sofia is 7 so we’ve got some time.
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