Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Regaining Consciousness

Jan is coming back!. She is regaining the awareness of herself, of others and of time and space. These are things most of us take for granted on our everyday life; for Jan these are major achievements in her recovery from her brain injury. I know a few that without any injury to their brains, go through life unconscious, working, resting, relating without really knowing who they are or who really are those around them.

The new label attached to Jan is an Acquired Brain Injury survivor. Labels help us know what is inside of cans, jars, boxes or files. They are useful shortcuts to know the content, but when we apply them to people, they have a strong "stickiness" that distorts in the eye of the public the real person who lives beyond the label. We just classify them easily using the label and don't bother understanding the person underneath. Jan is Jan even if the system classify her as an ABI.

The real challenge, as previous blogs have indicated, was not to visit Jan during the critical or intensive stages, but how to remain involved with Jan during the months or years that rehabilitation takes. Maybe this is another way of looking at miracles: that love is patient, it does not give up, it has staying power... And if Jan can be the recipient of such love in the long haul, that in itself would be a miracle! On the other hand, Jan may just prove all labels and prognosis wrong with her determination to heal and the concentrated faith from all her friends. Anyway, forgive my digression.

Today Jan entertained over a dozen visitors. In the afternoon, she went with Louise, Sarah and me to the cafeteria and ate a salad. Later she read her greeting cards, checked her mail and talked to people. In the evening Linda, LindaR, Joy, Marianne and Jeannie came to sing. Jan was ecstatic with the music. Seldom she laughs with such satisfaction. Then kept the conversation in her version of "Janglish". More words keep coming out, sometimes in the wrong order or with a different meaning, but the lexicon continues to increase and slowly the meanings become clear.

She will need to do more work with that R hand, and she knows it. But she also knows that it is alive and connected!

She has begun asking about the time, and when she saw this afternoon pictures of herself in the Critical Care Unit connected to all those machines, she was shocked at the realization that that was her! She was surprised to hear that she has been a month in the hospital! Genuine and appropriate reactions to the content of the conversations. Yes, she is conscious. This, hopefully will continue in the following days.

Today, also, she has a special visitor: William Wallace, her 8 month-old cat. She was thrilled to see him and cuddle him in her lap when she went on the wheelchair to the cafeteria. What did Willy William tell Jan? Nobody knows, but in a few minutes the two of them were behaving as if they have never been apart..

She is being prepared to be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital. This can happen at any time (in a few days or a few weeks) without much advance notice. Check before you come to visit.

If you are interested in learning more about ABI, there are a number of sites offering a lot of information on this group. Perhaps the most useful is the local to Toronto:

or the provincial site:

to learn more about survivors of ABI see the film in CBC Newsworld's "THE LENS". Saturday, March 18, 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. about Paul Nadler's rehabilitation.

With much admiration and love for your prayers and support to us all.



sharon said...

Dear Jan,

It was awesome to see you again yesterday. I too have noticed the improvement in your consciousness & awareness & understanding of yourself & others. I was there when Fede was showing you the photos what happened to you from when you were in critical care to present. I could definitely see your understanding, pain, appreciation by your questions & your communication. I was glad to be there for you. As I told you God has been with you the whole time & I know he has a special plan for you.

I continue to constantly pray for you & thank God for your blessings on you & your family.

Keep up the great progress. I know it seems like very small baby steps but I know with God's guidance & grace YOU CAN DO IT gradually in time.

I love you & miss you!
Love always

Paul from Oregon said...

Keep up the good work, Mrs. Beez!

Veronica said...

Dear Jan,

I have been following your pogress week by week and am so thankful that your recovery is steadily coming along. I think fondly of the nights we marched on stage in our Mission uniforms in MTE's "Guys & Dolls". Also, the great time we had at New Year's at Nina's home, singing Beatle tunes with our Russian friends.
Please tell your husband, Fede, that his updates are much appreciated. It is evident that he loves you very much, and between God, Fede, your close friends, and the wonderful medical staff, you are in very safe and capable hands.
Continue to rest and recoup your fearless energy. Keep up the good fight.
Our prayers are with you.
Veronica & Family

Ret said...

Jan! I'm so happy for you!!! I don't know what else to say for the time being but it is so exciting to know that prayers are being answered!