First of all... we had barely started out and Danny was already carrying on abt wearing his seat belt. He took it off... we told him to put it on... he put it on, he took it off... on and on. He also tried the door a bunch of times. Deanne told him over and over that she had child safety locks and the doors would not open until she opened them. That didn't deter Danny from trying anyway. We had drinks for him and a handheld game ready.... anything to keep him occupied and his mind off the hour trip. The drink distraction worked for a short time. He talked all the way... complaining abt being buckled in... abt the time it was taking... etc etc. Once out of the city and on the highway, he already wanted to get out "just to walk" or "stand up for a minute" At the first place we could safely do this, we did. A bank parking lot I think. His mom was in the front passenger seat and helped him get out. He was ok to just stand there a bit with her by his side, then get back in. Then it was the seat belt thing again. I remember laughing when his mom was telling him how unsafe it was for him to ride without his seat belt, all while she was hanging practically upside down between her front seat and his back one. He was full of comments and questions and endless chatter. Oh how I wish I could remember it all.
There were more stops along the way when he would become next thing to hysterical about getting out to "stand" Deanne would tell him if she was in a spot unsafe to pull over, and he would beg "please! Please!" Anxiety was mixed with light-heartedness...he flitted from nervous to comical. When I put my hand on his leg to comfort him, he told me he had a "big kielbasa" in his pants!
Along the way he started to say he had to use a restroom, and we stopped at a pizza shop. Deanne and I were going to stay in the minivan I think, but could see that Danny had taken off across the parking lot, his mom on his heels, and we could hear them loudly exchanging words. I think she was getting flustered. We got out. He wanted food. In we went, where he tried to decipher the menu. Amazingly, he had seen a sale sign in the window while walking past, for some sort of deal that included lasagna, salad and bread for 7.95 or something, and he mentioned it to me inside. I thought that was kinda amazing. I ordered his food, along with him... we kinda BOTH ordered... me helping him choose his words right. Then I showed him to the bathroom. Deanne had gotten pizza I think, and had it half eaten before he came out of the restroom. He was in there like an eternity!! I went in to help him a little. He was in there fussing about the hand sanitizer and papertowels and being silly...but just confused. Back out at the counter there was a statue of an Italian Pizza guy, and Danny asked him how the food was here...then he laughed and so did I. I still dont know if he was just being funny, or really thought the statue would answer him.
We took our food out to the van and got all settled in again. He was only getting puree food in the rehab, and altho I was pretty sure he was just fine to chew bigger food, I still sat, trying to balance the dishes on my lap, and cut up the lasagna with the plastic fork, into tiny pieces, which I fed him at first. He would barely chew and swallow and was asking for the next bite. I couldn't go fast enough. He was trying to grab the fork outta my hand and put huge bites of food into his mouth. I was thinking, "Just great...as soon as no nurses or drs are watching, he's just gonna do as he pleases" Same with the neck brace that he tore off all the time in the hospital. He loosened the velcro several times in the van and I put it right back where it should be, while his mom n I scolded him that he HAD to keep it on, especially while riding in a vehicle. He eventually got his way with the seat belt being off. We agreed to let that go so long as he stayed seated and since he was in the back seat. I had just a few bites of the food. He kept asking if I was hungry... told me to eat too. In all honesty I had no appetite. I just wanted to get home.
A long stretch of mountain roadway with no shoulder to speak of, was a nightmare. Danny was begging for another rest stop, but Deanne kept telling him it was unsafe to pull over anywhere there. I tried to keep distracting him with bites of food. Momentarily it worked... then the begging again. I dont remember how many stops we made for him all together, but it was several. As we got closer and closer to our town, then INTO our town, at each stoplight he was begging to either get out or else HURRY and get to the house. He told her to just go, even when she had a red light. Finally we pulled up in front of the house.
Inside he kind of just stood there looking around. No real signs of recognition. He acknowledged our dog, Angel, and family members one by one as he saw them...Nick, Shannon and Sarah. There was a lot of weepiness on his part. His mom kept saying "You're HOME Danny! You're HOME!" We pointed out all the welcome posters. He read some of them outloud. His sisters came shortly after we arrived, followed by Chris and his girlfriend. His sister Kim went up to our bedroom with him while he looked around the house. There was alot of noise and activity...talking...laughing...reciting the day's happenings to one another. Kim and Tara went to the store and later came back with puddings and soups for him, and burgers I think? I ran to pick up prescriptions at some point as well. Danny talked silly and was quite entertaining.
As day turned to evening I could sense agitation in him. The rehab staff warned me to keep this day, as well as a few days right after, quiet and with limited visitors. Not realistic. Of COURSE everyone wanted to be there. This was a day we didnt know for sure would ever happen...
When everyone was gone and the house was quiet, Danny sat down on the sofa and got calm in about a half hour's time. I was exhausted and he was too. I got everyone ready for bed and Danny willingly allowed me to change his damp briefs, and crawled into bed before I got there myself. I left most of the bags we brought, to be unpacked next day, and luckily I had the bed prepared with a plastic liner on his side.
We were back in our own bed together...finally. Although he was so very confused, his left arm went out like a reflex when I got into bed, just like it used to, to allow my head to lie upon his chest...and that arm went around my shoulder like it always did. We were home...