Transferring to Teresa's care for occupational therapy meant changing facilities and a cross-town drive twice weekly. Teresa did not wrench my fingers open like the Witch OT, she caressed them until they unfurled like petals in her palm. As she stretched and massaged my arm on her desk, I talked of my despair and tears appeared in her bright eyes. Her compassion set her apart.
Teresa did not say my hand would return to normal, but she helped me believe it could progress if I worked at it. And I have worked – always diligent, but not always successful. One session Teresa dropped items on the floor for me to pick up. I wound up sobbing on the linoleum in total frustration. She crouched and held me.
"Am I your only patient who has breakdowns?" I asked.
"You’re the second one this morning."
That gave me some compassion for Teresa.
Teresa's been an OT for 17 years. She says most stroke patients don't do their exercises. One day I asked her about the difficulty of strengthening the muscles that open the fingers. "How have your other stroke patients dealt with this?"
"Marcelle, I've never had anyone come as far as you."
"Well, that doesn't give me much hope," I said.
She looked me in the eye. "You've restored my hope."
And so I have given her what I came seeking and found in the first place. Now as I struggle through the tedium of rehabilitation, I'm not doing it just for myself, but for Teresa.