We didn't set out to have Wayne in the early stages of recovery over Christmas. Wayne joked that he was looking for a date that would get him out of Christmas shopping and putting up the tree and the original plan was to have the knee replacement surgery right after Thanksgiving. That way the stay in the rehabilitation facility would be completed before Santa was due to make his rounds.
But life had a different plan. The doctor was on vacation the week of Thanksgiving. There were no openings in the pre-surgery class Wayne was required to attend until December 5. And while we had a date of December 9 at one time, it was pushed back as Wayne would have been the second case of the day. Given the length of the surgery, the doctor wanted him to be the first case so he'd get to recovery and eventually his room earlier in the day. If there were going to be problems immediately after surgery, it didn't need to be the middle of the night too. So December 16 it was.
It would be easy to fall into a pity party over the idea that Wayne wouldn't be home for Christmas. We're big traditionalists here, after all...savoring that sameness that has marked every December 25 for the 45 years we've been married. Most families probably are, I guess. But there are too many reasons not to. And while I think we try every day to be grateful for all we have in our lives, it's a little more evident this time of year. There are gifts all around.
Like the hard-boiled egg waiting for Wayne when he came back from his morning therapy session. When all the nausea and other issues arose the middle of last week, they put Wayne back on clear liquids. Chicken broth and jello three meals a day gets old, especially when your usual state of good health returns. One doctor told him on Friday they'd advance his diet as tolerated only to be overruled by someone else who thought more tests were needed today. When the Case Manager made her rounds today, she got right to the bottom of things. Get this man some food, she concluded and a second breakfast tray with things that required chewing was waiting when he returned to his room. Wayne pronounced the hard-boiled egg, which was the first thing he ate, as the best he'd ever eaten. Four days of nothing but liquids makes regular food seem like a gift, even if it is a lowly egg.
And one look around the therapy room makes one realize what a gift good health is. Wayne's limitations are temporary but even if this was the best he was ever going to be, he'd still be better off than many there working to regain mobility. Those with traumatic brain injuries and the lingering effects of major strokes have such a steep hill to climb to return to the life they had before. I've always thought no matter how bad off you think you are, health or otherwise, you can always look around and find someone else who is worse. Good health doesn't come wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow but it's a gift nonetheless.
I took this photo Sunday before I realized it would represent another gift. The OT guy suggested Wayne take advantage of the 75 degree temperatures and practice getting in and out of the car before cold weather returned. I'm afraid I got so wrapped up in seeing him accomplish this task that I failed to get a photo of him when he was completely in but he got there.
And he's going to get them there again...on Christmas Day, as a matter of fact. The doctor offered him a pass to leave the hospital and spend the day at home with family. We were surprised as we hadn't expected that to be a possibility but it didn't take us long to get over our shock and gladly accept the offer. Turns out Wayne will be home for Christmas after all, even if it is only temporary and that might just be the best gift under the tree.