January 17, 2010

Wayward Husband

When my brother was a toddler my mother kept him in a harness with a leash attached much like the modern version in this photo. The only difference was my brother’s leash was a lot longer and using them on a child back in the 1940s didn’t raise eyebrows like they occasionally do now. No one called them ‘cruel’ or ‘demeaning’ or thought they stifled a child’s nature curiosity. My brother needed to be leashed when my mom took him shopping. He was always getting into trouble doing things like prying up floor registers to shove the cat into the ducts. Once when he was three he got up early in the morning, stripped off his pajamas, put his Robin Hood hat on and went for a walk stark naked. A police officer brought him home to my still sleeping parents.

I was reminded of all this today when I took my husband to the bookstore. It’s one of those large yuppie places with a Starbucks inside and overstuffed chairs where you can curl up in front of a fireplace to read. It’s one of our favorite Sunday morning stops and I don’t ever want Don to get banned from the place like he was from a grocery store in the area. I knew we were headed towards trouble when we got to the door and several customers coming out held the double doors open for us. Don, in a deep bellowing voice yelled, “Oh boy! Oh, boy!” In aphasia speak that’s as good as saying, “Thank you for your kindness.”

As I often do when we go some place where he really wants to go I reminded him that he needed to use his inside voice and he sang his Okay Opera back at me: “Okkkkaaayyy! Okayyyyy! OH, oh, ooooh kay.

“Next time we’re planning to come here,” I teased, “help me remember to cut your antidepressant in half.”

He wanted a coin magazine. We found him a coin magazine. He wanted to look at a book in the art section. We found him the book. All the while he’s ‘oh, boying’ this and ‘oh boying’ that at the top of his lungs. People are looking at us. Don didn’t care. He was the center of attention and he loves that. I was thinking maybe next time we come to the bookstore, I’ll take Don’s antidepressant.

Finally I decided to take him to the coffee shop, get him a cappuccino so I could go off to the bathroom and maybe browse a few books along the way. When I came back Don had managed to table hop his wheelchair over to where two girls in their twenties sat.

“Are you lost?” I asked him.

“Beautiful, beautiful” he replied as he pointed to each girl in turn as if he was introducing a Marcia and Mary. Then he pointed to me and I held my breath until he said, “Wife.” He’s never done it, but someday I half expected him to introduce me as ‘homely.’ But his language problems still have him categorizing all women as cute or beautiful and he doesn’t hesitate to let strangers know which category he’s files them in.

On the way home I decided that rather than a leash hooked up to the back of Don’s wheelchair maybe I’ll see if steering wheel locks will work on wheelchairs. If they do I could say, “Sit, stay!” knowing when I come back my wayward husband will be right where I left him. ©



gugge1 said...

I also used a leash on my son when he was little - I did get some funny looks and finally had to tell one lady that I was keeping him safe because he would run so fast I couldn't catch him and watch his sister at the same time.
I caught my husband practicing his signature by himself a few months ago and couldn't figure out what he was up to until I opened the Home Depot bill. Apparently he has figured out how to go to that store all on his own and can now use his credit card and sign his name. There have been lots of new things that have shown up around our house lately. He can't seem to help me when I need to go to the grocery store but he can go between Menards and Home Depot all day long looking at what's new. Now that he's two years post stroke and totally disabled from working at all - he's decided that he needs to redo everything in the house. He started in the kitchen by reorganizing all of my cupboards especially the spice one and move everything that I use all the time from the bottom shelf to the top shelf. I have no idea how his mind works now - he put the things I use alot like the vanilla on the top shelf that I couldn't even reach. It's so hard to be upset with him because he really believes that he is doing the right thing and "helping" me. I could use less help! Then he decided that the corner that has held the same items for 23 years is no longer a good idea. Off to Home Depot and we had to get a shelf unit that would hold all of the things he thinks should be in the kitchen. The next day he wanted to move the Baker's Rack which is beautiful over to the other wall and get another shelf unit - are you kidding me? So not happy with his thought process on this one. I finally had him move it back by threatening to go out to the garage and rearrange his tools. His speech on some days isn't very good because I can't get him to talk enough. I'm very grateful that he can drive but seriously he needs to stay out of Home Depot. Glad to see that you & Don can at least go someplace together. I wish he would have any other interest than tools. Take care and keep blogging. It's so nice to hear about others dealing with aphasia and how they are coping with the change in lifestyle.

The Aphasia Decoder.... said...

Thanks for replying! I am so glad Don doesn't have a credit card because he always wants to buy tools as well when we go to Lowes. How he thinks a one armed man in a wheelchair is going to use power tools is beyond me. Don has hobbies that go in collector books and he's always wanting me to help him change things around. After reading your comments I'm glad he can't get in my cabinets. LOL

Anonymous said...

Reorganizing things is great progress for a stroke survivor.Think of the process involved in thinking about organizing something and then actually organizing things. Especially if there are shortages in the tracking process. That is a multiple step process, from figuring out what is needed even if you are comfortable with how things already are set up. To having the time and energy to perform the function and have it go from his head to actually completing the process.

The Bee Folks - Lori Titus said...

At least you were in a bookstore, and not the library!

Been thinking about you a bit over the last few months, but haven't had time to blog for a bit. Glad to see you and Don are still doing well, and that your sense of humor is still intact!