One Year.

One year ago was the happiest day of my life. For this one day everything was perfect. Everything was looking up.

***this post is going to be extremely hard for me to write because today(Wednesday 2/24/21) I talked to Treys doctors and got his medical records ... it’s hard for me to think positively about this memory....but, I know that Trey would not want me to forget everything I’ve been through ... he was so beyond belief happy for me to be out of the hospital. I believe making sure I was okay and got out of the hospital was so important to him, and I know that he would want me to be grateful, and appreciative of absolutely everything...so for now just remembering this day a year ago for what it was.***

February 26, 2020

I really don’t think I slept the last night in the hospital. I was so beyond ready and excited to be leaving. Normally I was woken up at all hours of the night by nurses, technicians, paper towel changers, random people that just turned on the lights...it was a joy. (Trust me. I complained to EVERYONE that would listen when someone woke me up-the flight attendant (my doctor) would always say ‘Mr. Sheppard V, who you got to complain about today? You always complaining, got me firing half the staff’)...I am not the best patient, at all). That last night NO ONE came in. I remember we watched a lot of Andy Griffith, King of Queens, and everybody loves Raymond(only shows on hospital tv) I was still on a thickened fluids restriction, but Connie(my favorite nurse) brought me ‘magic’ Ice cream...it was ice cream that doesn’t melt (thickened weirdness) that last night she brought me strawberry and creamsicle.


I remember staying up forever and asking Benton what time he was going to be picking up Trey. it had to be by 9. I was so convinced I’d be going home by 9. I wanted to make sure Trey was there and ready at 9 no matter what. Eventually I think I did fall asleep. But I was awake at 5. Showered and dressed waiting to go.

All of my bags were packed and ready to go the day before.


As soon as breakfast came I was telling benton to call Trey. Was he ready? What did he say? What’s going on? Well?

He didn’t answer. Twice. I knew he was doing it on purpose. I told benton to leave and go get him. It was barely 7am, but I was ready.


Trey called my room phone as soon as he left. Pretending like he was just waking up. I wasn’t buying it. I said well get your ass ready Bentons on the way....

Way before 9 Trey came walking in. Acting like they had changed their mind and I needed to stay. I said ‘hell no. I’ll roll home with my boxes.’ I was not having it...My room looked like I was moving out of the dorm it was all hospital white and plain.


I had no therapy scheduled that day. Nothing going on... but, Katie my therapist did come by and say my wheelchair and walker would be delivered.

‘Okay, don’t care...when will I be discharged?’


And she said ‘well that’s the doctors, but usually Around 11.’

WHAT???? No. That long? And I remember Trey saying ‘I told you so.’ And laying back In the bed like he was going to nap.


We sat there and waited FOUR hours. The whole time Trey kept saying I told you so...I didn’t care. I was going home, I wanted him there. I wanted to wait with him. And wait we did.


Walker and wheelchair were delivered. Basic...And my walker was blue. BRIGHT blue. We decided I could ask Tommy to paint it matte black when I got home. My wheelchair was this weird Annie Oakley looking thing...I just remember the seat sat up so high compared to my speed racer hospital chair...I never used it. At all - after leaving the hospital I have walked my ass everywhere.

In the month that I was in rehab it looked like I basically moved in. Trey joked we could never travel anywhere lightly. Which was true. We always traveled with basically 4 bags full.


I want to say something here....all of the luggage was never all me. My clothes fit in the one small bag. Trey traveled, and Trey had to have options...overnight bag was NOT an option. Heck, all of his toiletries needed their own bag.

Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t at all superfluous, he used his toothbrush, dental floss, glister toothpaste, hair pomade, razor, shaving cream, shaving cream brush, and lotion daily - not a lot, right?


Well...JUST IN CASE...all of the chargers have to be packed, an extra bar of glycerin & honey soap(in case he didn’t like the soap provided) the tweezer, nail clipper set(went EVRRYWHERE) back up shaving cream, back up dental floss, and toothpaste...and pack an extra towel just in case(sometimes those hotel towels are scratchy, and that’s not good for the skin) did I mention he didn’t use regular shaving cream? Had to pack his shave dish, the shaving cream had to go in a airtight container, and his razor stand. It had to stand upright so it would dry the right way. It took Trey FOREVER to get ready...and it took me forever to pack for him. I always wanted to make sure we had EVERYTHING he could possibly need. God help us if we had to go to the store for something...we would never leave. Something else to know about Trey...he LOVED TO SHOP. That’s another story for another time. But just believe it.


Anyhow getting out of the hospital it looked like I was moving out.


You have no idea how excited I was. I just wanted to go so bad.


Had my walker. We were ready. Nope. Had to sit and wait some more. Getting all my prescriptions ordered took forever. I remember taking a nap, I remember Trey sleeping in the chair. I also remember him telling one of my therapists that he was just Along for the ride-when it was time for me to get out he was ready, til then he was sleeping.


All he told anyone everytime they asked was ‘all I want is to make sure Thomas gets home’. That was his main and only concern that day. Get home.


Finally paperwork started coming through. My social worker came in. A couple times.


That’s where things started getting weird, actually they started getting weird on Valentine’s Day. But, I was totally oblivious to it.


I was drooling, or food falling out of my mouth, I don’t remember exactly. But Benton grabbed a towel and cleaned me up. Trey made a comment about he didn’t know where we would be without a Benton (because he had really helped take care of Trey during the whole process, he had basically run the company with April, and he had made sure I was taken care of the entire time) Trey was basically saying thank you and how much he appreciated benton, and how he knew he would always be there. No matter what...he talked about how grateful he was and how happy he was to know that we had become so close, and I had a friend that cared about me.


...at the time I think I made a joke about don’t be too nice or he will want a raise. Or something. I did not understand anything going on. But, there were glimpses of times like that where I know Trey was saying Thank you, and that he felt better knowing that I would be okay.


It’s taken me about half a day to write that last 2 paragraphs. It’s really hard to accept.


When Alicia, my social worker came in everything to do with home was discussed. Trey introduced her to Benton, and told her she needed his phone number and he needed to be added as proxy and caregiver. I had to sign all this extra paperwork. I just wanted to go home.


But, I do remember her asking if it was okay for her to still discuss all of my care with Trey. I remember thinking...that’s an odd question. Of course you can talk to Trey.


It was just all very weird and I asked Trey what was that all about, and he just said well in case he has to take you for something. I said we can still get around...Uber. And Trey said nothing...And then the drs walked in to release me. My flight attendant was not there that day...so I got a random doctor.


I was released. They pushed me down stairs. Benton wheeled all my crap, Trey walked along. I can’t even describe to you the feeling. I had been waiting for this for months. I had been practicing how to get in the car. I was prepared.


We had to sit at the door and wait for the valet to come around. And wait.


And wait.


I just sat there. Staring at the door. I wanted to go home. Still staring.

Trey took this last picture In the lobby.


Waiting.


I look over, Treys asleep in the chair. I need to remember this to tell his Doctor.


He’s Totally passed out.


Still waiting.


And then the sequoia pulls up. I drove myself out the door and to the back seat. Trey asked if I wanted to sit up front...nope back seat is fine with me...That’s where I had always sat for the past two years.


All I remember of the drive home is asking benton to slow down, and the smells. I had my eyes closed the whole way, Scared out of my mind with all the movement...but I was not saying a word. I didn’t want to go back.


Pulling into the driveway was different. I finally felt like I was home. I relaxed. A little. And I cried. The reality of the new ‘me’ hit me all at once. Everything was different. Everything.


I remember Brenda was here. Heating up lunch...there were balloons everywhere. I sat on the couch and Someone let the dogs out. I remember they were so excited, Bess less excited...but that’s normal. I remember Beauregard had this very very worried look ( a few days later I knew why)

Brenda had soup on the table. It smelled so good. Joeys beef stew. I remember that smell. I couldn’t eat any of the beef, but it was so good.


I don’t know what we talked about. Anything. I just know Brenda left right away. And said she was going home. She took the Prius home. My car. Well...Used to be my car.


Things had changed.


I wanted a bath. I was determined to get a bath, and not drown. I wanted PRIVACY for the first time in months.


I don’t know how long it took me. But I managed to get in the bath. Thank god I had all the grab bars installed for Trey. He never used them...but I cling to them daily.


I just remember sitting in the tub. Crying. I made it home. Why was I not feeling great. I was scared.


Scared of what was going on. Of what I was going to do. I had been so focused on getting out of the hospital and now I was hit with the reality of what good are you?


I can’t drive. I can’t see. I can’t even really walk alone. I can’t do anything alone. I realized I was worthless. I realized I needed to focus on Trey. I got out of the tub. SLOWLY. In order to dress myself I figured out that I had to cling to the door and ‘balance’ to get dressed.


It sounds like I’m fighting a wild animal because the door shakes snd knocks so much. I remember Trey yelling at the door if I was alright. I opened the door just like, yeah I’m getting dressed.


I remember he had a big smile. And was just so glad I was home.


I don’t remember anything else. I feel like we ate lunch, I took a bath, and then it was bedtime.


I hadn’t slept in the bedroom for awhile. I am massively allergic to dog hair, and the dogs had gotten so accustomed to sleeping on the bed....Bess. I couldn’t handle it, plus major sleep apnea, so I slept in the middle room, mostly the couch. I have had a bad habit of nightmares my whole life. Wake up in the middle of the night and off to the couch...was my normal. Golden Girls or I love Lucy and I’d go to sleep.


I remember going to sleep in my room and I remember waking up in the same nightmares in the hospital. I woke up screaming for help. I had to go to the bathroom and I was frozen.


Benton was asleep on the floor, well he was, he jumped up lunging the urinal at me and turning around. I was in a total panic. Nightmares. Freaking out about Trey. Something was wrong. Something was bothering me. I was in a full meltdown.


Moved to the couch. That’s where I’ve slept almost every night since the hospital. Still to this day. Right now I’m on the couch typing this at 3am....


My nightmares have continued, they still wake me up every night. They’ve gotten better, they’re being replaced by dreams of Trey...so now I’ll wake up totally lost, and expecting Trey.


It’s been a hard year. It’s been a hard 14 months...but somehow my stroke, and experience in the hospital and everything to do with me really pale in comparison to my last year...that started today at 11:11am.


Everytime I see a new doctor, which is often, they read all of my medical history over the past 14 months, and everyone says


‘WOW you’ve had quite a year’


And I think...haha... oh that, that’s nothing...Pull up a chair. Let me tell you about my year........

Just to leave this on a happier note there are some positive things that came out of the last year...


Benton has been here NONSTOP. literally every step of the way. He promised Trey he would always take care of me, and the dogs - and he has done just that. The friendship that we built working together, working through many many things, working together to keep Trey totally happy and calm, and fed, the house cleaned daily. The stress of work, the stress of everything...that friendship grew life crazy when I went into the hospital. He was there for everything. He took care of me, he took care of Trey, he took care of everything he could.


I don’t know how to say it. He’s just been there...and is the most selfless person I have ever known. Along with Trey he is my truly best friend. I honestly can’t even think about where I would be right now if he had not applied to be Treys assistant 4 or 5 years ago.

I have continued walking...the most important thing, according to my Grandad Jim(TJ3) he called me the day that Trey passed, and told me it was alright to take the day off (he was joking...kinda) he also called me the next afternoon(Thursday)and told me ‘TJ, I know it’s hard, and I know everything just seems a mess, but you gotta get out and walk’. I did. Benton and I and the dogs walked around the pond that night. (later in the year...and I’ll talk about it later my Grandad passed away on September 29 - NOT FROM COVID) but, I am still walking.

And this week I started walking alone(with the dogs, and my off-road walker) .... this week alone I will have logged 20something miles (I’m at 18 something now, and still have to walk after the drs)


I emailed my rehab therapist from the hospital this week since it’s my anniversary and she said this...


“Wow I can’t believe it was a year ago….seems so long ago and not that long ago at the same time....I know you aren’t where you want to be, but you’ve come an awful long way in the last year!”

And my first though was...where the hell would I want to be? I’m thankful I’m not ‘locked out’, I’m thankful I can even walk around. I’m thankful I AM. I’m not sure I would have ever walked 20 miles in a week...I’m not sure I ever would have been as grateful for everything that is.


I’m not sure where I thought I would be on January 1, 2020 - but one year ago today I NEVER thought I’d be here doing what I can do.


The last lesson Trey ever taught me was to be grateful. In the hospital he kept telling me over and over ‘to be grateful and always appreciate everything that anyone does for you’.


And I am. So Grateful, so appreciative, of every person that has done ANYTHING to help me this past 14 months.


Mostly Trey. He did everything he could for me, over the last 23 years...All the way until the end. He was not going anywhere until he knew I was going to be okay.

143...Thank You Trey.

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