Monday, August 02, 2010
My Visit with Mosch
Saturday, I flew to Albuquerque and spent the day with Mosch in the rehab hospital. When I parked and walked up to the building, he was waiting for me outside, standing with his sitter and with Nancy and another friend. I was astonished to see this guy who looked kind of like Mosch and then have it turn out to be actually Mosch. He recognized me as I walked up, which was awesome.
Back inside the hospital, we walked around some. He asked me to tell him about what's going on with me right now, so I did, taking a couple of videos of him on my phone. He wanted to play cards, so we fetched some from the room and played a 5-person version of War. He was able to cut the deck, deal cards to each player when it was his turn, and determine which person won each round. (The only card he didn't recognize, at least before he got a little tired out, was the Joker.) When we stopped, he was able to count his cards in his head, and arrive at the right total (15).
Mosch is walking now, which is great. When he walks, he wears a wide canvas belt around his stomach, and his sitter walks behind him, holding onto the belt. His balance isn't perfect - he walks a little like a drunk guy, basically. But one of the great things about rehab, vs. the hospital he was in before, is that he can walk anytime he wants, and has a sitter 24/7 to go with him. Before he was apparently spending hours restrained and frustrated, trying to get out of bed, which was terrible and unhealthy.
Talking to him right now is like talking to someone who is mildly mentally retarded and/or has alzheimer's or has just woken up from a compelling dream. He talks just like Mosch, with all the verbal tics of Mosch, but sometimes the things he says don't quite make sense (they make, to me, "dream sense"). For instance, Saturday night he kept asking everyone for a screwdriver, which he said he needed to "unscrew his screwdriver."
He was at his best and most alert when I first got there. He was just realizing how impaired he is, and he said to me, "My brain isn't working right, and it's so important to me, it's such a big part of who I am." (It sounded so much like normal Mosch.) Upon my saying that he was doing much better, he said, "Better than what??" He wanted to know whether he had in fact been good (smart or with it or whatever) in the past. At one point he asked if he always walked like he was drunk.
After lunch, Nancy went to the library for a while to return some books, and I sat with Mosch in his room. I told him that I knew a lot about his life, and he asked me to tell him about it, so I told him basically his whole life story as I know it, and then some more little stories about himself. Through it all he had his eyes closed a lot and was nodding, smiling with recognition. Afterwards he said, "Wow. I had no idea you could tell it like that!" When I asked him if he remembered specific things, he would say something like "vaguely." I really enjoyed that whole conversation, which felt very natural and Mosch-like.
He gets frustrated and irritated a lot. They don't really do therapy on the weekends, so there wasn't much to do all day. He seemed to be looking for a purpose a lot. He would ask, "What's next?" We would go somewhere and he'd want to know what we (his visitors) wanted to do, and we didn't really have an agenda, of course, but that was annoying too. Why did we come out here if you didn't want to do anything? was what he seemed to wonder.
At one point we had a long (for him) walk and when we got back to his room, he said, "This is the same place we started out from hours ago. This whole place is BULLSHIT!" I'm sure it's very hard to have so much energy and restlessness without having any attention span or anything you're supposed to be accomplishing. I hope it's better for him during the week when "What's next?" can be answered with the different kinds of therapies. It's obvious that he wants to work. (When we were in the dining area looking at the TV, he said, "I'm waiting for him to take off his clothes so I can practice doing that." They've been doing that in occupational therapy, I guess. While I was there I saw him unbutton and remove a long-sleeved men's shirt, twice, which is pretty great for someone who couldn't use his left hand just a week or so ago.)
He's not so easy on the nursing staff, because he's often not cooperative and doesn't remember instructions. If he wants to get up, he is supposed to let the sitter know, and then s/he will help him with the belt, but instead he usually just starts clambering over the bed rails or bolts up. He often tries to remove the belt, which I'm sure is a little uncomfortable, sometimes over and over again while it's being explained why he shouldn't. He can't seem to hold information about that in his head, or else he just doesn't care. But the sitters have pointed out that having that drive and energy will help him get better faster than if he were more complacent, and I'm sure that's true. Mosch has always been careful to call a baby "easy" rather than "good" and that's kind of what applies here - Mosch isn't an easy patient but he's a good patient.
Overall, I really enjoyed being with him. Of course, with a person who is fully unconscious, like he was on my other visits, you can imagine that they'll wake up and just be normal, and you can't do that with a person who is awake and functioning but not normal. But you can still get some of the Mosch personality and it's much more interesting to interact with someone who is walking around and talking. He seems to be improving day to day and (vastly) week to week, so now it's just a question of how far he will come in his healing process. I'm feeling pretty optimistic about his future.