Prior to his accident, he was a biker, which he loved, and he was on the brink of retirement. We loved to travel, so we were hoping to do some of that. We would have not been tied down by anything or anyone; that’s what we were really looking forward to – just being.
Oh, he was great. He used to drag me when I used to visit on trails and, you know, in the beginning I was a little resistant but it turned out to be so much fun and such a bonding experience. The last time I ever did something with them they were in Florida right before the accident, and he dragged my ass to go kayaking and I said, “Oh God!” but it was the best experience because it was daughter-father time, alone. It was great. He needed that energy. He needed to let go of that energy, sports-wise. I know that gave him a lot of joy – being active, getting out there and enjoying the outdoors. They used to walk on the canal.
It’s just difficult when somebody is cut down right at a time when they have the ability to really enjoy their life.
It stopped. Everything stopped short.
I’m just doing these to stretch.
All I remember, like my most vivid memory is my two cousins came in, my father’s sister flew in from Arkansas and we were sitting there with the doctor who told us he may never walk again. It was the saddest day of our lives, really was, because you can’t just imagine him being in such good shape and taking care of himself and just something, when it happens to you, it’s just different. It was just surreal.
He was in critical care for over a week, and I got very little information. By the time I saw him, he was a bloody mess and we really didn’t know much of anything at that point. It was a nightmare, it was a nightmare.
My name is Pat Bonner. I am a registered nurse and I am a certified life care planner, certified nurse case manager and certified legal nurse consultant. I have worked for 27 years primarily doing case management for catastrophically injured workers. Mr. Weinstein is a C5 spinal cord injured patient, which means he has very limited function in his upper extremities, usually in the biceps area, and can do some basic, simple tasks for himself with a lot of preparation and setup. He requires a significant amount of adaptive equipment to manage his level of care and also requires care 24/7. He cannot be left unsupervised or without someone around him simply because he needs assistance for most activities of daily living.
My father was a caregiver. He took care of financials. He took care of everyday, not that my mom wasn’t very instrumental, however, the old school “dad takes care of things.”
I take care of all his meals. I take care of all the laundry. I take care of all the paperwork. Angela is a tremendous help, she really is, but it’s very overwhelming for me.
When you have a spinal cord injury, you can’t just on the spur of the moment make a decision, “I think I’ll do this today.” It requires a lot of long-term planning. It requires cooperation from transportation, cooperation from the weather. If it’s too cold and windy, you don’t want to put yourself at risk. If it’s raining, you don’t want to go out into the rain because you’re running specialized equipment. He is essentially dependent on others for all aspects of his care, so they’re very limited in a lot of the things they did prior to this injury. From the first time I met them until now, which is almost a year and a half later, there’s significant increased depression and decreased hope.
My parents were such, are so in love. My parents were lovey-dovey. They loved to be together. They were best friends. They had an amazing sex life, which my mother has told me about; we talk about everything because my mom is one of my best friends. Basically, that’s gone by the wayside. I feel that my mom feels like she’s just in a roommate situation right now, that she is living with somebody. There’s still the kiss, there’s still “I love you,” but it’s nothing like it used to be and it’s really sad. Not a lot of life in him anymore, which is, unfortunately, a snowball effect because it kind of trickles down to my mom and then trickles down to the rest of the family, including me. Right now, I’m very worried because she’s at this place where she’s, basically, just given up.
It’s more difficult now than it was before. We had a lot of diversion in our life. We did a lot of things in our life. We’re very limited now as to what we can do, we do do and we’re in the house a lot. There’s nothing I can do to change that. I have people in the house from nine in the morning until nine at night, seven days a week. I have no privacy until everyone leaves at nine o’clock. I give my husband his first set of meds at ten, and then his second set at eleven, and hope and pray after that I have some freedom without being called, without having to come in. I sleep on the sofa, and that’s where my bed has been for the past five and some years because I just couldn’t be upstairs because I felt so very far away. When he needs something, I like to be there in order to address what he needs. But I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t know anyone who would trade places with me. So, if someone asked me if I would repeat these years, I would say absolutely not because I think that they’ve been the worst years of my life. I can only do so much. You know, he was one of the good guys; that’s a heartache. He was one of the good guys.
I am going to scream ten times. [And why do you do this?] Clears my throat and gets rid of this gargling that I get. Ready? What bothers you the most? Well, my life is now spent in two places: my wheelchair and my bed, and that’s very, very disturbing because I have no place else to go. My legs don’t work at all. The best I can do with the fellow that works on the weekends is sit on the edge of my bed and try to balance myself for a little while. It’s not a pretty picture just having to spend two places in your life. What do you think is the hardest part for your wife? Well, being stuck with me here. I’ve asked her many times to go away for a couple of weeks, to go down to Florida, and she tells me she doesn’t feel well enough to do it. I don’t think that’s entirely true because I think it’s just an excuse to stay near me. What are you most afraid of, going forward? That we’ll run out of money and I’ll end up in a nursing home. That’s something that I will never want to do. Like I said, if there was a way I could commit suicide, I would do it but I’m stuck here with no way to do it. The only thing that keeps me from wanting to commit suicide in the love of my family. I know they would miss me, but this is no way to live either.