Month: April 2014

Janet, A Success Story. April 30. #TSJ

When I checked in with Janet at lunchtime today she was sounding quite cheery and energetic. Her morning had been good and included a long walk, Janet said to the gym, Jess corrected it was to the living room. The fact that Janet was excited about it is great and she continued to act positively when I got to Connect to take her to SheLife.

I arrived early thinking we’d go bathing suit shopping but an old pair of shorts and one top still barely fits Janet and will do for tomorrow so the shopping can wait for some rainy day. Tez wants Janet to wear her AFO in the pool with some water shoes on her feet and I forgot to take them to Connect so we went home to see if any fit and decided to stay for our first outside dinner of the year.

Al fresco dining in April. #whywelivehere

Al fresco dining in April. #whywelivehere


The water shoes will do for tomorrow. I mentioned Janet was in a pretty positive mood and one example was her eagerness to walk from her room to the car. It was if she expected to do that and never even mentioned her wheelchair. It was fun walking out in the sun with her and we did it again at church as Janet walked from the car to her table at SheLife, a distance I later stepped out as 215 feet. By far her longest yet and it included going up two ramps, one about 30 feet long. Her steps were strong and deliberate most of the time with a little more wobbliness than I’d like but that will change. The fact she had the energy to go that far is impressive.

With a big smile on her face Janet excitedly told me how she “actually contributed tonight”. She managed to talk about patience and how she could be really angry or sad about what’s happened to her but she’s not. It was a fun car ride back to Connect as Janet talked about the positive things in her life.

My time with Janet today was very refreshing and uplifting and a great antidote to what had happened earlier. My cousin and second cousin both work at the mill in Nanaimo where the shooting took place this morning and there were some anxious moments in waiting to hear if they were OK. They are but were shaken by what took place. We also received word that our friend Wendy in Nanaimo is in ICU after a botched procedure to remove kidney stones. Janet’s table prayed for her tonight and I ask you to do the same.

Janet, A Success Story. April 29. #TSJ

Another busy walking day for Janet with lots of time to warm up for it though. Jess took her and Angie to a nursery to buy some plants and herbs for the patio at Connect. Janet says it wasn’t fun but I’m sure it was better than being in the gym and it was sunny outside.

Tez had agreed to meet with Janet and I late this afternoon and Janet called me to confirm that appointment. I asked her to be rested up for that and when I got to her room she actually was asleep. Our meeting with Tez was quite helpful and insightful and hopefully gave Janet some confidence to keep working at this walking thing. She demonstrated walking with the cane, using me as the cane with me leading her and walking beside her. There was also a reluctant attempt at free walking so Tez could see first hand Janet’s entire repertoire. He was impressed and lamented that the sling at the parallel bars would be the best tool for Janet to use right now but she “hates” it and I don’t think we’ll get her in it but will try. In the meantime, Janet has agreed, quite readily, to meet Tez at the pool Thursday morning to do some walking in the warm water of the kiddie pool. A big part of Janet’s challenge is fear/confidence and Tez feels that a few falls with no risk of injury could help. Should be fun.

The few times Janet has used the Tilt Table she’s complained quite vociferously that it hurts and she’s not going on it again. I suggested she ask Tez if she needs to be doing it during today’s meeting and she did. Fortunately Tez had time to respond with “lets see you in it and we’ll go from there”. Janet walked to the Den with me leading and stepped onto the table reasonably well and Tez tried a few different positions to maximize the benefit for Janet. The end result is, yes, she needs to be doing it but now in a different manner than previous. Janet will be at ninety degrees with a safety strap at chest height and no support at her legs at all. In addition to no leg support she is to do some foot raises and side stepping while standing and stay in the thing for as long as possible. Tez wants to tire her right out with everything she does now, including walking. What was going to be a short let’s see what you look like session turned into a twenty minute workout for Janet and a good learning session for me and Jess. Janet rather smugly ended the session herself by undoing the velcro strap and stepping forward right to the edge of the table before grabbing me for her step down to the floor. She then impressed us all with a nice unassisted step to and turn to sit on the couch.

A tired Janet walked out to the lobby with me leading, got in her wheelchair and went to the gym for a Shuttle workout. I agreed to shorten the session based on all the walking and standing she’d just done and focussed on the right leg. Janet did well and never complained. After a toilet break we walked down to the dining area for dinner. Janet did complain a little along the way but persevered. With the sun still shining after dinner, Janet took a well deserved break in it’s warmth.

Ahhh

Ahhh


Games Night always produces a pouting session with tonight’s being much less than previous and Janet did very well with a lot of the questions given to her. She still came away saying “it’s stupid” but she’ll be back next week “just to watch”.

I meant to have Janet walk down to get her meds but she preempted me and arrived in her wheelchair struggling to find that word, meds, in her head. There has been an increase in her inability to find key words when speaking and it may have something to do with a high level of Dilantin in her system. Jess took her for a blood test this morning and Janet’s levels are very near the top of the therapeutic range for the second week in a row. I asked her doctor to seek the opinion of Janet’s neurologist, Dr. Adams and she agreed. No change in dosage until we hear from him.

While Curtis was getting Janet’s meds I had her get ready to walk back to her room and left her standing at the door to the med room while I parked her wheelchair. On her own, loosely hanging onto some shelving, Janet walked six feet into the room to get her meds from Curtis who was as surprised as me. Maybe she’s gaining confidence? Holding my hand to turn around to come back out of the room she forgot to step once and came very close to falling. A good lesson learned I hope. The walk to her room was very good considering how tired she was. Not tired enough to miss out on some Easter chocolate, some reading then ready for bed. It all caught up to her once she was tucked in and she was sleeping minutes later.

Praying for a night of healing sleep and lots of energy tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. Walking Video. April 28. #TSJ

My day with Janet was short but busy as I worked late at CedarCreek and showed up at Connect as she was in the gym with Chelsea for her after dinner workout. Janet was in a much better mood than she is with me in the gym and said her day had been pretty good. The one thing I was really counting on for today didn’t happen though. Last week I had arranged for the lady who built Janet’s AFO to stop by and talk to us about shoes Janet could wear in summer clothes and at Heather’s wedding. Janet was all prepared with a list of questions and waited “all afternoon” to no avail. Apparently she’s coming Thursday now. Not impressed.

After a good Shuttle session Janet wheeled back to her room to prepare for a walk to the living room to then use the Tilt Table. Chelsea suggested using the cane but Janet insisted on using me and I agreed as I think she walks better that way. That also gave me the opportunity to try walking side by side with Janet, something we haven’t done in almost two years. Here’s a brief look at it on video (thanks Karl) along with a little free walking that Janet doesn’t seem to want to do with an audience. I asked her last night with Karl watching and she refused and she initially did today as well. Hopefully as she walks more she won’t worry about who’s watching.

The Tilt Table is a real challenge for Janet as she is forced to use her right leg or else collapse. She managed thirty minutes and after a ten minute rest on the couch walked back to her room. Played out, she stretched out on her bed while we checked emails and played some Four Pics One Word, a game she doesn’t like playing too much but is getting better at and I think is good brain exercise. Tonight she was responsible for typing out the answers and she did a good job. Being the tyrant that I am I insisted Janet walk to the med room to get her meds, that of course required walking back as well, so Janet did four lengths of the hallway tonight! High five each time.

That was enough torture for one night and all Janet wanted to do was read the rest of the time. She put in a great effort tonight and I think if she can keep this pace going we’ll be walking side by side regularly soon.

Praying that Janet sleeps well tonight and is fully able and willing to participate in all of tomorrow’s activities.

Janet, A Success Story. April 27. #TSJ

A much better sleep for Janet last night so I’m at a loss as to how to explain her grumpiness that started the day. Every suggestion I made as to what to do was answered with “it doesn’t matter” or “I don’t care”. Not what I want to hear on a bright Sunday morning. It didn’t last long though and we headed out to get some ingredients for tonight’s dinner and some wine for our wine club gathering this Friday. To our dismay, two of the wineries we went to were closed. Oh well, we enjoyed the sunny drive by the lake.

Janet was warned she’d be helping in the kitchen today and she stepped up nicely. We made a lasagne for tonight as Courtney was coming over. Janet did well at chopping, stirring and assembling. She then had two pieces of corn on the cob for lunch. I thought it was weird to just have corn but she loved it. Before the lasagne was completely built Janet was fading so she went for a nap and woke up an hour and a half later in disbelief that she’d been out that long. That’s what happens when you sleep, time flies.

Courtney agreed to be camera operator so we could show you Janet’s new walking style as well as a bit of free walking. It’s hard to get a good angle on her as you never know when she’s going to agree to try but there is a pretty good look in this clip.

Janet remains unsure of the whole thing but very sure she doesn’t “want to be that person that can’t walk”. She is walking and will do so better each week.

We enjoyed visiting with Courtney this evening and the lasagne that Janet helped make turned out pretty good. I think having some company for the evening made the trip back to Connect more bearable as there was lots to talk about and Janet was in a happy mood. I had her walk more in the hallway there but she refused to free walk with Karl watching. Not sure why. Reading didn’t last long as the walk tired her out I think.

Praying Janet has a deep and healing sleep, a positive attitude and willingness to fully participate in whatever she’s asked to do tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. April 26. #TSJ

Thanks for complying with the new settings to the emails you receive for this blog, there was a nice spike in the numbers today and that is encouraging to me.

Our morning was leisurely today and Janet started off with a decent Skype chat with her mom. She seemed a little quiet to me in spite of a sleep in but she did toss and turn quite a bit last night so maybe the sleep in just kind of evened things out. Janet came outside with me as we met with the Gardening Committee from our Strata to discuss what shrubs we would like removed and who’s responsibility each one is. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that costs would be shared and most of what Janet and I want to do is likely to be approved.

It was just warm enough outside for Janet and the gardening ladies but not enough to stay out any longer than that so we scanned old photos into the computer until we were hungry for lunch. I made sure Janet helped as much as she could in the kitchen today and she did a solid job. I did give her a break from chopping duty though as she does that a lot at Connect so today was largely assembly practice and Janet is improving nicely.

After a decent nap we went to church this evening where Janet got her first real walking done today. She bravely walked the entire length of the aisle to her seat with me in front acting as her cane. Her steps were large and fast and wobbly at times but got praise from Tim who saw her without the wheelchair and came over to encourage her as did Randi and Wayne a little later. We had a nice long chat with Randi after the service that Janet chose as one of her highlights of the day tonight. He is a kind man going through some tough times and we are grateful we get to cheer him on a little. Janet then walked back up the aisle to her wheelchair more confidently than she did down. Soon I won’t have to be her cane. Walking around the house didn’t happen as much as I wanted to today but when Janet did, she did well. I’ll try again tomorrow to get some video.

Janet and I hadn’t watched a movie for a while so when I pitched the idea, Janet actually got excited. We chose Philomena, making sure the only options were Janet appropriate films. I only had to explain a couple things as the movie went along and Janet remembers seeing the great Judi Dench in other films but couldn’t name them. Unlike Noah, there was not a lot of discussion afterwards but Janet and I both enjoyed.

Praying for a night of uninterrupted sleep and a productive Sunday.

Janet, A Success Story. April 25. #TSJ

For some of you, yesterday’s post was delivered to your Spam folder and I don’t know why. I have in light of that made a slight change to the RSS feed for this blog. All emails will now be only a summary of the post, you must click on the title in order to view the entire update in your web browser. Making a change like this may have solved the problem from yesterday or maybe not but it should at least give me a more accurate picture of how many of you are reading this thing each day as when you only read in your email editor you don’t show up in the blog stats. I know, numbers shouldn’t matter, but they do, I’m human.

The first part of Janet’s day was “the same boring stuff” according to her and she was eager to come home. I encouraged her to nap before I picked her up and she was in bed when I got to Connect but nowhere near sleeping, so home we went. Along the way and for the first hour or so there I thought this would be a short night as she seemed to be fading. Dinner in the sunshine gave her a nice boost though and we had a fun night together.

In an effort to help Janet gain confidence in walking I intend on having her do more and that started tonight. Each trip to the bathroom and the couch was walked instead of wheeled and I find Janet’s technique and speed to be better when I am in front of her acting as the cane. Her steps are long and deliberate and she pushes down well with her right leg. Tez may have a different opinion but we haven’t seen him for a few weeks so I’m going with this until someone tells me different. Janet likes it compared to the cane saying “it feels more like me doing it”. I think she means her motions are more natural and it feels more like walking. We’ll try and get a little video tomorrow to show you.

Leading into The Voice we actually watched the end of a basketball game and quite enjoyed it. We haven’t done any of that all season and don’t expect to get right back into it but it was fun. The Voice was much more intense though as Janet’s pick was in danger of being eliminated in the first live show. Facing the prospect of owing me two Blizzards Janet was chanting his name as the results were about to be announced. He didn’t make it and Janet was quite upset at being bounced in the first round. Being the nice guy I am I allowed her to go double or nothing by picking someone from her top four so she could keep playing. If this is any indication of what the season is going to be like, wow.

Instead of begin all tired and asleep by nine thirty, Janet was full of energy after that intense session of The Voice so we read for a while in bed and had some laughs from Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Good way to wind down until almost eleven thirty.

Praying for a good night of rest and an energetic Saturday.

Janet, A Success Story. April 24. #TSJ

As part of the development of a homecoming plan for Janet, Interior Health is required to determine her eligibility for home care services. Part of that process is a series of minor tests that Janet was first given in hospital almost two years ago. Actually, she wasn’t really given them then as she was unable to respond in any coherent way the first time, which was July 2012, then in September 2012 she scored super low and wasn’t able to complete the test. Today was much different. Nurse Jill met us at Connect this morning and spent an hour chatting and conducting the tests. Janet did very well and I wasn’t at all surprised but for sure pleased. The next step will likely involve a lot of paperwork so I’ll wait for instructions from the ABI Coordinator before spending too much time on it.

Since I was spending the day at Connect I brought Janet her favourite wrap from Urban Fare and we enjoyed a lively lunch with a few other residents. Janet then walked from the kitchen to her bathroom, a little slower than previous but still pretty good and she made really good turns into her room and especially the bathroom as that one was better than ninety degrees but she nailed it. There was an attempt at a nap next but my best guess says Janet was out for maybe twenty minutes. I can’t fault her as it was quite noisy out in the hallway and the adjoining room for a large part of the time. When she got up she bravely walked to the bathroom and back to the bed. I’m trying to get her to walk every short distance opportunity now and also to try a few steps unassisted. Janet remains scared of that idea.

There are two groups that Connect works with to provide some outdoor adventure to residents and today Janet and I filled out registration forms for both. One will allow her to try sailing and the other does small hikes, bike rides and kayaking, all with special equipment that makes it possible for Janet to do. She of course is not excited about any of it but I’m hoping to convince her to try once the weather gets better.

Chelsea had everyone build their own pizzas for dinner tonight so Janet was right at home with that. She did say later that it wasn’t as good as we make at home but it was OK. The energy it gave her was certainly good as she set a personal best on the bike tonight. I think it’s now time to make the ride a little harder and I’ll have to do that without her knowing as she still says it’s hard. We decided to read a little early tonight so Janet could have her dessert in hopes she would sleep better. It may have worked as she was snoring at 9:20! Praying for a long night of healing sleep and a productive tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. April 23. #TSJ

Remember those toileting issues Janet was having recently? They appear to be gone, at least for now. Janet had just rung her alarm when I walked into her room this afternoon. She had been in bed for an hour and a half, not sleeping she says, and needed to go to the bathroom. Often this requires some pretty fast action but today she said there was time to put her AFO and shoes on and I actually had her walk to the toilet. She held it all the way and walked back out when finished. High five!

After a little chat and opening a very nice card made by our neighbour Bonnie, we headed out for dinner and SheLife and arrived at the church with lots of time for a bathroom break and some walking. Janet did the same distance she’d done the first time walking into SheLife and did it considerably faster tonight. I’m still not happy with her tendency to walk a little sideways but she’s working on it. Janet enjoyed the session tonight and was happy she got to share Willie’s story with her table. Other than that, she said she didn’t say much but enjoyed listening to the discussion.

Back at Connect while Janet was taking her meds and enjoying some Easter chocolate we watched another TEDx talk from Dr. Grahn. This one was on the myth that listening to Mozart makes you or your baby smarter. There is one line in the talk that I thought really pertained to Janet, watch it and let me know what you think it is.

Praying that Janet realizes full and complete healing soon.

Janet, A Success Story. April 22. #TSJ #firstrealsteps

This is one of those days where I could just post a video and let it speak for itself but there is more to today than that. Janet continues to amaze.

The first part of her day seemed routine and she was giggly and doing fine when I called at lunchtime. She was awake in bed when I arrived a few hours later and was happy to open a package from her mom while I did some light maintenance on her wheelchair. In addition to some Easter treats, the package contained info on a lecture Mary Gaga and Keith had attended given by Dr. Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist who studies music. Check out her talk at TEDx Waterloo, it’s fascinating and we’ll be checking into her studies more as we all know Janet has benefitted hugely from music during her recovery.

We spent our pre dinner time talking and learning and after a good dinner I challenged Janet to walk back to her room. Her acceptance was reluctant of course but for once there was no real complaining during the walk. She asked a few times to stop at the Den and complained once of feeling a little dizzy. I asked her to stop and stand tall and stretch a little then she was able to power on, reaching her bed in a record smashing thirty five minutes! Her technique has improved for sure, larger steps, much larger steps with her right leg, and managing to stay on a better angle. Janet was visibly pleased when it was over, both that it was over and that she had done it. Chelsea and Curtis stopped by and encouraged her a little and when Janet stood up for a reason I can’t remember, I felt prompted to ask her to step to me without hanging onto anything. Without hesitation she made three steps toward me in succession. Chelsea agreed to be camera operator and here’s what happened next.

So exciting!

Janet repeatedly said she was not going to Games Night but she did and she participated well and said it was OK afterwards. Willie stopped by to tell us he was able to share his story at his church this weekend. There seems to be a lot of that going on lately. Good stuff.

After Janet shared and ate more Easter chocolate it was reading time and we shared a lot of chuckles from Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Feeling very blessed for the gains Janet is making and praying for Janet to be a willing participant in everything she’s asked to do tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. April 21. #TSJ

Back to “work/school” for Janet today. She calls Connect by both names depending on her mood. Negative is work, positive is school. When I called at lunchtime today she was very positive and sounded confident. Her gym session was “OK” as opposed to the more frequent “terrible” and her voice just had a real nice tone to it that wasn’t diminished when I got to Connect later in the day. Janet excitedly told me she did some walking and it was “fine” but the nap thing didn’t work at all. She was pretty alert so we got on with the most important activity of the day. Her new Mother of the Bride dress arrived and she couldn’t wait to try it on. It took me a while to figure out how to get all the material over her head but we managed without much stress and here is the result.

Saying Yes to the Dress.

Saying Yes to the Dress.

To make sure all was well with the dress I asked Chelsea for her opinion and she raved about it. Later we showed Tiffany who also thought Janet looked great in it. Janet agrees but still needs reassurance from her peers (other women) before completely accepting any compliments.

Janet’s mood shifted a little downward after dinner as she realized she had some work to do. There was a bright moment before that though as she was able to have a nice Skype chat with Andrew. Janet excitedly reported on her SheLife speech and carried a good conversation. I think that chat improved her mood enough to where she actually enjoyed her bike ride. She sang a lot during it and didn’t complain once about the hard parts. Janet wasn’t up for any walking tonight so we did some Speech type work by filling out some customer feedback forms that Connect has going around. It was an opportunity for Janet to think about a few staff members and how they differ in their job strengths and to create comments on each of them as to how she feels they work for her. Good brain exercise.

To close out the night we got Janet onto the Tilt Table again and she was not pleased about it. Chelsea and I didn’t have her set up exactly like she was the first time and I think it was too late for Janet to get comfortable after we corrected her position. It was still a good stretch and weight bearing time.

As Janet got into bed tonight she ended up laying on her back with her right arm stretched out at her side. I’ve never seen that before and am not sure how she got it there but it is cool that she can do that with no pain.
JanetRightArmStraight
Praying for a productive Tuesday.