"But even when the memories fade What we have is still ingrained It's written down inside" -Jon Foreman

Thursday, July 28, 2016

 Bob is thin, standing no taller than 5'10 when his shoulders aren't slumped over. He has eyes that look at you softly with real depth behind them that seem as if they could tell stories and express every emotion. This is almost impossible though because of Bob’s aphasia as a result of a stroke and because of his stoic personality.

The first time I met Bob, obviously, I changed his name for HIPPA reasons. I couldn't read or gage if he liked me. It was unnerving. Usually I can tell fairly quickly if a patient likes or dislikes me. Bob was indifferent. Right before leaving my first session with him I made a little comment under my breath "welp I don't know if you enjoyed this session... or me." I knew Bob wouldn't hear me due to the fact that I have to yell and exaggerate my mouth movements every time I talk to him. But his daughter heard me. She laughed and said if you get a wink before you leave you will know he likes you. So I finished up my treatment session and thanked him all the while staring him right in the eyes waiting for that confirmation. He winked and Bob was no longer indifferent but it still wasn't enough. I wanted to see him enjoy therapy. I wanted him to show me literally any emotion, anger, excitement. Anything!

Whenever I first meet a new patient I usually ask them about their hobbies or things they enjoy. With Bob I never really asked because he never spoke. As our treatment sessions went on over the weeks I learned that Bob used to enjoy golfing. I thought to myself "perfect!" I asked his daughter multiple times to pull out his old clubs and golf balls and each time she would eagerly agree but always forgot to follow through, which I don't blame her for. She had a lot on her plate. 

Over time I forgot to keep asking until today. Today was my last treatment session with Bob. I was halfway through my treatment session when I remembered my original goal: to get Bob golfing again. I mentioned it one more time to his daughter and left it at that continuing on with therapy. No longer than 5 minutes later I looked up and saw his daughter standing there with a club and a golf ball. My eyes lit up. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a recycled cool whip container I had seen on the counter and preceded to set up a putting green. When the course was ready I brought the club to Bob and motioned for him to golf. He motioned for me to "get out of here" in a playful way cracking a closed half smile. That half smile was all I needed. 

"Come on Bob. I need you to show me how to golf" I yelled, probably louder than I should have but I had all this excitement boiling inside of me. He stood up slowly using the club as his cane as he hesitantly lined himself up to hit his first golf ball in years. He stared at the club and then back at the cool whip container repeating this a couple times and then he ever so lightly tapped the golf ball and it went rolling across that carpet and into the cool whip container knocking it right over. Everyone in the house broke into cheering and clapping.

There are very few moments that cause the hair on my arms to stand up and my throat to knot up simultaneously causing tears to line my eyes, but as I turned and looked at Bob he had the most innate elated smile stretching across his face. Then he looked right over at me and winked. 

Bob stood there for about 15 minutes putting around his living room the longest I had ever seen him stand at one time. Golfing wasn't just good for his balance, activity tolerance or muscle strengthening; it was good for his soul. 

There are these big spaces between my mundane workdays and moments of pure happiness, but when those moments hit they are worth every mundane workday. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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