Feeling the Years
On the eve of my birthday, I am of course taking that annual inventory of where I am in my life and where I want to be in the next say two, five, ten, twenty-five years. It’s that second time in each year I do this. the other being New Years and of course I have already broken those goals. So time to do the inventory and set some more goals. Physically, well I am still reeling from the self-medicating with chocolate from the stress and pain of the past two years so still not back to my fighting weight, but making strong progress. But the aches and pains of aging are becoming less than subtle and beginning to rear their ugly heads. I can’t help but think of the lines from City Slickers where Billy Chrystal sadly describes the stages of life to his son’s class and he describes “in our forties we will have surgery that we will call a procedure.” So when my right shoulder was developing into a chronic ache, I went to see a dear orthopedic surgeon for a cortisone shot hoping to bathe the pain. When that provided no relief, I fear a surgical repair or “procedure” is in my future, just don’t want to take the time off from working out to do it so when the pain gets too much I will go for it.
However, yesterday I was really reminded I am no longer 21 or the gymnast I once was many years ago. Most days I take the dogs down to the wash (a desert gravel area that runs between the housing developments-for those who are not in the desert), and exercise the dogs. This particular wash divides our subdivision with horse property that has everything from cows to ostriches and every farm animal in-between. Mocha, my chocolate lab, is obsessed with the ball and Taylor’s Yorkie (who we have adopted) loves to run after mocha chasing the ball and biting her. I threw the ball and it rolled under the fence where the people with the white pony and 2 goats live. They are putting up new fencing that has small two inch by four in wire squares on their three pole fencing. Apparently, they are mid-project because the fence was not secured at the bottom. I decided I could easily jump over and retrieve the ball. Now I was a gymnast for 13 years and fell off the beam sometimes more than I was on it, so I know how to land. But that short term muscle memory is long gone and I rolled my ankle upon landing. So inventory for physical: right shoulder and right ankle ailing the rest a work in progress and not a lost cause so conclusion: not bad for being within sniffing distance of …..50.
Today I met with my dear friend Tammy Crawford, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Leadership Solutions, Inc. Her foundation hosts, The Desert Duel and she has grown this organization with such strength, integrity and passion since losing her husband tragically a few years ago. As we sat down for lunch, the familiar question can up, “How is Scott doing?” Here is this busy powerful businesswoman taking the time to meet with me and still taking such a personal interest in Scott’s condition—she is so kind and a true friend that always touches my heart.
Scott, I said, “Has good days and bad—and today he is OK.” Some days he may wake with a major headache or confusion-but today just woke early (3:30am) with a slight headache which thankfully subsided by mid-morning. Many days the stress and overwhelming feeling he experiences when thinking about re-learning his entire world or what he has lost by not having an autobiographical or historical memory of his entire 46 years is too much and turns into a physical exacerbation. He has lost so many coping skills and the thoughts keep playing over and over in his head until it sometimes becomes too much. It is almost like a bad reoccurring dream that you can’t get rid of or like when you see something horrific happen and the more you try to erase it, the more it remains and plays over and over inside your head. I give his so much credit for pushing forward most days to relearn or keep up on current happenings in our world. But he has so much more to give and want to see his voice and story of true hope and inspiration to be heard.
11/21/10 Pink Blanket
Yesterday our daughter Taylor went back to FIDM (Fashion Institute Design and Merchandising) in LA. We had a great long weekend together having her back home. We hit all of her favorite restaurants that she does not have in LA. Spent the weekend laughing, running errands, shopping and working on her homework just like HS days. It was amazing to see her tucked safe and secure in her own bed just like a little girl. When she left to get on the plane on Sunday, I cried for 15 minutes it was awful. I hate not being able to see her all the time to go shopping or to lunch. Once home, I washed her sheets so they will be clean when she comes back for Christmas break and that is when I discovered her childhood pink blanket still under her pillow. The pink satin trim was well worn from her daily caressing to sooth herself. I remember once we bought 6 identical blankets because leaving it somewhere was a devastating event—we would pull out a substitute blanket I would keep in the car or at home but that substitute never worked she would know that it was not the “original” and we would back track for it. Seeing it still tucked under her pillow made me cry again thinking that she is still such a little girl and how much I miss that girl who is trying to become a woman in LA. When I told Scott I cried more because Scott did not share in the memories of her childhood—that when it hits home and I realize I am alone again in the memory of raising our children.
The past two days I have tried to get my “fasting” lab work done. This simple task requires two things: 1) not eating and 2) going to the lab for a blood draw. Yesterday, I had the appointment booked so I did not have to wait at the lab but I failed this task because I simply ate—so much for the fasting test. Today I was ready—or so I thought—I made the appointment (again) I would drop Grant off at work (driving Grant to work is a whole other blog), then go to the lab. Today I remembered not to eat—so far an improvement from yesterday, then I dropped Grant off and realized that I did not have the address for the lab with me—it is probably still on my desk at work where I made the appointment.
I called the lab on the lab order sheet. I was feeling good that I was able to problem solve this without involving Scott and having no coffee in my system to aide in my resourcefulness. I asked the lab what the cross streets were for the lab they said 3rd street and Dunlop…. Dunlop that is so far from where I am. I started to search my brain for the location where I booked the appointment. I had put in my work address and it said the lab was 2.3 miles from my work but it also said JCL location which is (John C. Lincoln) the hospital that is way on the North side of Phoenix and I am in Central Phoenix . When booking the appointment I guess I didn’t take my stock in the name of the location since they said it was 2.3 miles from my work in Central Phoenix. Well it is clicking in now that I am not going to get my labs done again today and I am hungry. I drive up the unfamiliar streets of Central Phoenix in hopes to find a little family run café where I can eat and get my much needed coffee. When I realize I missed the street toward my office I do a quick u-turn an nearly miss another car who zipped in the median turn lane behind me –who I obviously did not see. She laid on the horn FOREVER…honestly I would have rather got flipped off
This is the most frequent question I am asked when people hear the story. Well, he says he fell in love with me all over again. I say he is “Scott forward” not many changes except for a little less intense at times and this whole public speaking idea and telling people our private lives stuff. The way he holds me and kisses me is the same. Is it instinct? I don’t know but it feels the same. He looks at me with the same caring and loving eyes. I guess the female in me wants to think that his heart didn’t forget the love but the nurse in me knows that the brain is where the love is stored and maybe it is kept in a different part that was not damaged. When we hold each other, I feel the same except for the loneliness that comes when I think of an embrace that he doesn’t remember. It’s so strange to think that he is the same yet he doesn’t know me. Many friends have said “look at it this way he doesn’t remember the fights or bad moods you had” and I say but it is the good times and the special moments that only we shared together are lost also. I have a dear friend that lost her husband suddenly and that’s what she misses most are those things two people in love share and know about each other—I have Scott to create new memories with but we lost so much.
I guess as he doesn’t know who he is and he really doesn’t know me as well, that’s so hard to think about. We have been together my whole adult life and our experiences that we shared have shaped me to what I am today but he only see’s today. He doesn’t know Joan the naive college student from a small town. He doesn’t know Joan who cried every day and night and wanted to die when she lost Taryn our first baby who was stillborn full term. He doesn’t know Joan who was so confident in herself that she came fresh out of college and started in the emergency room as an RN. He doesn’t know Joan who worried every moment of her pregnancy that Grant or Taylor would not make it.
He doesn’t know Joan who was the best mom, so dedicated to her children, their school and activities. He doesn’t know Joan who has loved and supported him with every financial and business challenge they have encountered. He doesn’t know Joan who went back to the emergency room to work after eight years at home to provide insurance and income. He doesn’t know Joan who dealt with so many of the kids challenges that he never knew about. He doesn’t know Joan who went back to school after 20 years to get her master’s degree. He doesn’t know Joan who cried and cried in disbelief and feelings of helplessness when their son dealt with addiction. He doesn’t know Joan who celebrated every business victory right by his side. I guess I will spend the rest of our lives teaching him who he fell in love all over again with.
So many people ask me if we had to relearn about each other or was it there in his subconscious. I find it ironic that Scott has the mannerisms that used to drive me crazy—some of those could have gone with the memory loss! You see he would make this sound by sucking in his mouth through his teeth that seems to let me know that he is annoyed or frustrated—usually by something that I am doing. Also he still gets frustrated by traffic or having to turn around the car because he missed a turn or we need to go back for something. The same goes for me as well, if I do something that use to annoy him prior to the head injury—it still does. I pick at my cuticles—nervous habit, I guess, and this still drives him crazy. So even if he doesn’t have his memory of me doing something the same thing drives him and me crazy. That is why he seems “no different” to most people because he walks, talks and responds like Scott always did just don’t “say remember the time”……
Scott and I were going to Oceanside, CA. to go to the boat. I asked him if he wanted to stop in San Diego and get something to eat and walk around a little before we go to the boat. We had our dog, “Mocha” a four year old chocolate lab with us and it would be nice to walk around with her after a six hour drive. I had not been in the area were ended up in years. probably since our daughter Taylor was 4 or 5. I knew the basic lay of the land but not exact directions or specific roads to take to the coast or food. Scott took a right off the main road. He had seen a sign that said “beaches” and pointed this way, I did not see the sign and I really only knew that we just kept on the main road to the beach area and where I knew. The direction we were heading I vaguely knew and we were both tired –mostly Scott since I napped on the way here and he had been driving since 5am.
Prior to Scott’s head injury, Scott and I would embark into unknown areas all the time when traveling trying to find a new unique place to eat or explore. But this was different for Scott; this was an unfamiliar journey creating anxiety for him that I was not aware of at the time. It was not so much of not having a plan but the “unexpected results” that concerned him in the new area. What could concern him? As a nurse I learned that the more we could prepare a patient by giving them information the more we could decrease their anxiety of the “unknown.” How could I not see that same pattern or need for Scott? I even wrote my master’s thesis on preparation of preoperative patients and how it decreases their anxiety. Wow, I am missing the obvious—it is just that Scott looks normal, sounds normal, acts normal but he has NOTHING NORMAL to rely on to reduce anxiety–no memory. How can I not see this and help him? I am going to be more aware that he needs that simple “here’s what to expect” talk when we are doing new things
THE MAN OF 46 YEARS WHOSE LIFE WAS DELETED
Scott Bolzan unfolds a compelling, inspirational and courageous journey through his life. He shares his drive to overcome obstacles with his ingrained values and learned discipline. With a “never give up” attitude Scott has persevered through the loss of his first daughter, drug addiction of his son, career defeats and challenges as an NFL player, pilot and owner/entrepreneur of a successful private aviation company and a devastating brain injury with profound memory loss. Hear how a man maintains a marriage of 25+ years while remaining fully engaged in the lives of his two children, successfully balancing career endeavors in light of adversity. With a strong emphasis on “family first”, Scott exhibits outstanding strength to move forward through extraordinary life challenges.