I last saw Brandi when she was swimming with me in the VRRI pool. It was over the noon hour, January sixth, twenty eleven. She made the appointment for the swim at our last session just before Christmas twenty ten.
Brandi was the Recreation Therapist assigned to me by the CAR program. I still remember the first day I met her. Blonde. Bubbly. Bold. She charged into the room and introduced herself.
“Hi. I’m Brandi. I’m the Recreation Therapist assigned to work with you. I’ve read your chart from Foothills. It tells me a little bit about you. But what it doesn’t tell me is what you like to do for recreation. What did you do for recreation before your accident?”
“Not much. Walk, occasionally. I was really depressed”, I replied.
“Then before that what did you like to do?”
“Well. Bike. Walk. I used to jog but I gave that up years ago. I used to like to hike in the mountains. Sometimes in the winter I would cross country ski. And, of course, I used to love to swim. Pretty much anything if it was in the outdoors. Though I did like to play board games competitively.” I said.
Brandi said, “As you know the goal of a Recreation Therapist is to help her patients recover their health and functioning through the power of recreation. I am going to give you some homework. Would that be okay?”
“Sure. Not doing much right now. Other than coming here.”
“Okay. Here is a list of 75 recreationally related actitivies. I want you to mark an X next to the ones you’ve done. Then I want you to indicate the ones you want to do again by putting a plus sign next to them. Got it? I want you to bring it back for our next session.”
“Okay. Got it.”, I said.
“Well. Bye for now. See you next week.” She opened the door and held it open for me.
I limped along the corridor. Pushed the door to the waiting room open. Limped to the chairs along the windows. And, waited. And, waited.
Finally a voice said, “Are you Lyle?”
I looked up into blue, blue eyes. A face shrouded in blond hair. A face clearly belonging to a middle aged woman. “Hi I’m Sue your assigned Social Worker. Why don’t I show you the way to my office.” She waited for me to lever myself up from the chair. Then set off at a brisk pace out of the waiting area and through another door.
What the hell do I need with a social worker? I thought. I limped along behind her. She turned into a door off the corridor. Her office? Yes, her office. She sat down behind a government issue desk. The office was sparsely decorated. A calendar featuring mountain scenes graced the wall. A floral print occupied another wall. And, a bookshelf crowded with books, binders, and framed photos. The top of the desk was littered with papers, a telephone, and huge Himalayan salt crystal lamp.
“Close the door please. Sit down,” she said.
I eased myself onto an upolstered arm chair. I looked for a place to put my cane where I would not forget it. I was always forgetting my cane. I finally put the cane between my knees. And, clenched my knees together.
She began, “My job is to help you with the mental health challenges of reintegrating into your life. I’ll support you in any way I can. What kind of support do you need?”
Excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey – All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2017, Lyle T. Lachmuth