As Months Go By

It’s four months to the day since Charlie’s “episode” (the bleed that nearly killt him–7 weeks after falling from the bike and breaking a few bones).
Now that we’ve lived through a third of a year, we understand better that the healing curve is nice and Malthusian at first…Charlie went from a curled up ball with arms pressed to his heart (I think this is a sign of a really bad brain injury, according to the author of “Over My Head”) to a guy who can, with careful supervision, walk about 4 miles with small ‘balance disturbances’ and stumbles. He still doesn’t have a clue where he is–on which trail, how far, etc. Will the ‘inner compass return?
I discovered an unfortunate fact: I’ve become my sharp-tongued, overworked mother Doreen. She had six ‘accidents’*, one after the other, and we little Phelans were just so terribly inconvenient!
Mom and Dad were party animals, and we felt the sting of their resentful ‘parenting’ too often.
So I bark : “AUUGH!! WATCH your RIGHT FOOT–it’s too close to the trail’s edge” . I had chosen a single track trail up behind Deer Park School to hear all the little rills roaring down Bald Hill.
“I’ll be careful. Sorry”.
I cringe when I hear Charlie say “sorry”.
It’s ME who should be sorry for being shrill.
Yesterday we got in 90 minutes of walking, cleverly timed between rainstorms. Life is good. It’s also not-so-great. Then it turns great again.
Our friend R. M. lost two rellies this week. Our other friend Nick F. brought us a feast of roast bird, potato, brown rice and veggies…and withdrew politely to allow Charlie that Alone Moment that his royal Shyness so patiently awaits.
This is in direct conflict for my wish for MORE people to visit….my battery gets charged by visits, while his battery drains away ….Is this TMI?
I believe one of the toughest things for Mr. Do-it-Yourself-Depend-On-No-One (so you won’t have to engage socially) is the fact that now, since he’s ‘down’, he must allow his mechanically worthless wife to seek assistance around Off Hand Manor. Our 60 yr old shingled shack, like any home, requires constant vigilance…today was typical: a leak from the woodstove flue. Somehow the ‘hurricane cap’ allows rain to drip right down from the roof to the floor. It is black and creosote-pungent. It might not be doing the unpolished hardwood floor any favor.
I discovered all that, and a wet floor just when we were celebrating the first day with no doctor’s appointments in about 3 weeks….and now, partway thru making oatmeal, I had to change gears into “supplicant of support “, when I’d been such a helpful cook and housekeeper, chauffeuse and bed-warmer.
Mike Schultz came to the rescue (he and Scott Bowman are the only guys who wear as many hats , skill-wise, as Charlie).
By three this afternoon, there was enough slack in the sched that I could get out on my road bike and catch 2 hrs of fresh air, and upon return, Nick Fain was carrying a roast bird and pile of organic roast veggies, plus a bottle of rouge under his arm…so he spared me the hour’s dinner prep. We didn’t know what to do with the extra time so I had Charlie pen one of his patented thank you notes. He’s able to write, but unable to read. Must learn more about this “pure alexia” condition, where somehow part of the brain can generate legible (if badly spelled) text, but in no way can it be re-read. It’s like, as soon as it’s on the page, a mysterious substance scrambles it, and the only way Charlie can read it is to put a finger on a letter, then look it up on the 26 letter alphabet on a plastic sheet that he keeps at the dinner table to ‘decode’ the occasional word. Each word takes about ten minutes to de-cipher. It’s maddening, and he’s trying to be patient, but both of us pray that at some point, a ‘patch cord’ will allow free interplay between the writing and the ability (not yet there) to read.
And: don’t get us started about his ruined sight. There is only about 10% of his vision remaining and we don’t know if it will come back. Of course one must be cheerful but er…can we just hurry thru the next 3 yrs to see if the eyesight returns to 50 % or so? Then he could ride a bike (not on pavement but on dirt, where things don’t pull out in front of you suddenly , etc).

Ah…well, this is the day-in-the-life. Tomorrow Robbins Peek the PBP veteran tandemist will take Charlie round the county a little bit…and get him a schosh stronger.

*Irish term for “bundle of joy”

 Here’s a shot Charlie Kelly took of us at the local park last week.

~ by jacquiephelan on January 20, 2016.

9 Responses to “As Months Go By”

  1. Thinking of you all ways. Peace love

  2. Hey Jacquie,
    Hope everything works out OK. I guess it’ll be a slow recovery. I’m sure that everyone in the MTB world’s rooting for you both. I know it’s been a while since I saw you, but my thoughts are with you both.
    Big Love,
    Brett Mclinden.

  3. Do Jacquie this is Andrea from Gunnison Colorado where Andy and I are living now. I just read your blog and learned how your you and Charlie are faring this month. I had not heard of Charlie’s fall. I am with you in thought and wish I was closer so I could bring you over dinner and some female company. Improvement will come to Charlie and he will heal more everyday. Our brains are amazing organs and when they are hurt or have swelling they take a long time healing. My specialty in graduate school was visual impairment and call me anytime or text me and I might have some ideas that could help make daily living a little easier for Charlie with his low vision. When you are ready there is also a few different organizations in California that would help retraining or working with low vision for Charlie. There are some wonderful Technologies that are available just for folks who have lost sight. With a doctor’s signature you can get registered right away for books on tape they also can provide a special device so you can listen to books on tape if you don’t have anything that will play what they have tapes on now days. Just an added thing so if Charlie wanted to have books read to him it might give him some private quiet time where he could listen to some different things. Also there’s a lot of tricks on that can be learned to help increase his independence in daily living skills when he’s ready for that. He can also be trained in orientation and mobility which uses the long white cane and gives a lot of independence in traveling and walking and moving. Look up the National Foundation for the Blind they are in Northern California in San Francisco and they can give you a lot of connections when you’re ready. Even having sight and not being totally blind is considered low vision and falls under the category where there’s a lot of help for that. Sending you love this is Andrea I haven’t seen you in so many years but I’ll never forget you take care. My phone number for calling or texting is 970-596-4972.

  4. good to hear about charlie’s progress! ~ being caretaker is a big job with plenty of mental exercise ~ wishing you both strength and ease

  5. Wow Jacquie, tough stuff! I think about every time i see my wombats towel that u gave me years ago. Its in my office and comes in handy. Makes me smile.

    Hang in there! Sending positivity from SoCal.



  6. Nice Jacquie.

    Jeff Della Penna TRAINING PARTNERS LLC 505.231.5039


  7. Visiting my folks and heard of Charlie’s injury. Wishing him a full recovery. Hang in there!
    Jim Penrose (the younger)

  8. Hi Jacquie… won´t bore you out with “I am shocked” and that stuff. As many others I would wish to be in the vicinity to offer you some help, but it cannot be.

    It is good to see you have friends, and while you lose your patience once in a while it shows that you two are made for each other. You have always been my idols, and now I know you deserved all this and more. Words are cheap, of course. I wish you both all the best from my heart and hope the energy will reach you over the pond.

  9. Hi Jacquie after … what? … 32 years? My borderline personality disordered mother died recently, and I’ve been reviewing my life, as one does. There are two memories I have of you that are especially vivid: washing dishes at a place you were staying in Austin; and riding from Austin to San Antonio on the back roads … that little yellow duck on your helmet. What a great warm-up that ride was for the race in San Antonio! I screwed up my knees badly by riding up too many hills while pregnant (joints get looser when you’re pregnant, I think, and the ligaments in my knees tore), so I never raced anymore after 1983. Loved reading about the Wombats and all the inspirtation you’ve spread around to women. Your current situation … don’t know what to say except I can’t think of anything better for a person recovering from a brain injury than going for walks. Yeah, I sometimes notice myself saying something unpleasantly remindful of my mother. But as long as you notice it and stop yourself from doing it too often, it’s all OK. it’s just wonderful to know you still exist out there in the world!
    Bonnie Austin (aka Barbara)

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