June left with a bang today as Janet showed amazing progress on the cognitive side of things. She called me after she’d finished her lunch and I got a sense that she was having a good day right away. She was laughing and speaking very clearly. Her first question was “did I catch you at lunch?” Usually there is no question at all, I am often expected to ask questions. She then launched into a speech about how she’d done all her exercises and been sitting in the sun and how excited she was that everyone from the house was about to walk over to the beach. All that with no prompting.
I fully expected to find Janet sleeping or at least about to get up from her nap when I got to her room at Connect. Not so, she was just wheeling out of it, saw me, and waved with a big smile on her face. She happily told me she didn’t have a nap and I figured that would come into play later. It did, as this was not Janet’s best night physically but that didn’t matter as it was stellar cognitively. She did manage a good walk to the kitchen to set the table. There was too much reliance on hanging onto things as she walked around but the job got done with just a few reminders along the way. We sat in the sun until dinner was ready and our conversation flowed well with Janet initiating sometimes. She did a great job in chatting with Andrew on Skype after dinner, sounding loud and clear and finding key words with a minimum of hesitation.
Janet continues to be a little frustrated with her reading skills and tonight did well as long as I helped her look all the way to the right. She definitely now lasts longer before the frustration sets in. The best part of the day came at the end when I always ask Janet to give me a rundown of her day. Most often she’ll get the first few things then kind of give up and say she doesn’t remember. Tonight she went non stop from getting up to going to the beach before I got there. Very impressive and encouraging. I’m praying Janet realizes the progress she has made and is continuing to make and that there is no stopping until she is fully healed.
For once I felt totally OK in not having anything planned for the day and allowing the goal to be relaxation and it worked well. After quite a busy Friday and Saturday Janet had a relaxing and enjoyable Sunday which of course made it really difficult to take her back to Connect tonight.
Janet had a great Skype chat with her mom this morning and as I listened in from a distance I noticed Janet needing a minimum of cueing in answering questions and she stayed on topic really well. She performed equally well as we chatted with Scott and Nora from Chicago this afternoon. Janet was thrilled to discuss the wedding and family with someone else and loved seeing and talking to two awesome people. She even thinks its cool there is technology that allows us to do such things. We are blessed.
Slowly I am gaining confidence in my ability to back off and let Janet walk around the house on her own. She did that a lot today with varying degrees of success but never a hint of falling. I’m trying to give her space in hopes she’ll feel more free and her confidence will increase. So far I’d say its working as each time she reached her target area there was a big smile on her face and I don’t even have to ask her to walk anymore, she knows to do it and even said tonight that she “makes herself” do it. Love it!
Our relaxing day ended at Connect with Janet accepting she needs to get back to “work”. The fact she will now be coming home for weekends on Thursdays helped just a little too. Praying for a fun, progressive and productive week.
Not much rest for the ever active Janet. After a late night, Janet was up at a normal time this morning and we were off to do some wine touring with our Wine Club. The only thing I had to help Janet with during breakfast was opening the peanut butter jar and I give her top marks for remembering its now kept in the fridge.
The Wine Club met at Tantalus Vineyards for a very informative tasting given by their Operations Manager, Jane. Janet went in thinking she wouldn’t know anything or learn anything but she drank all four tastings and agreed it was a fun experience and a beautiful facility.
Our next stop was CedarCreek Estate Winery where Candice led us through a good tour during which I tried to help with the few fun facts that I remembered from my days of working there. Thirteen of us sat down for lunch after the tour and enjoyed the great food, beautiful scenery and fun fellowship.
A great way to end the season for our club and although Janet felt overwhelmed at the gatherings sometimes, she is looking forward to reconvening in September for the social aspect of it all.
Arriving back home, it was supposed to be nap time but Janet really wanted to finish watching Genie Bouchard’s match at Wimbledon. She won and Janet happily agreed to attempt a nap. There certainly was no snoring to be heard but maybe a few minutes of sleep before leaving for church. Janet was seeming a little tired as we arrived so I held her hand as we walked all the way in. I’m trying to get Janet to focus on placing each heel down first when she steps and as long as I remind she can do it.
Janet really liked Tim’s message tonight and told him so after the service. Its really special when Janet “gets” what a speaker is talking about and I’m impressed by how she can communicate her feelings and thoughts about things sometimes. Its reminiscent of the former Janet.
All the wine tasting, touring and socializing combined with the very short nap made for a tired Janet tonight. It’s the good tired of completing an active day where there may not have been a lot of physical exercise but there sure was a cognitive workout. Praying for a rejuvenating sleep and a positive tomorrow.
To try and compare this to what will be a typical Friday at home for Janet wouldn’t be fair as we had a lot to do in preparation for the BBQ we were hosting this evening. Janet started her day with a shower which was no where near as easy as that awesome bathroom we had in Ottawa. We bypassed filling the tub up this time though and had Janet stand pretty much the whole time. It was faster but not any warmer as we couldn’t leave the water on as it would spray everywhere. If anyone has a spare 45 grand we could make our bathroom like the Ottawa one. Anyone?
Today was Mary/Gaga’s birthday and Janet remembered all on her own and called her mom just as her and Keith were heading to Toronto for a Blue Jays game. Janet’s memory continues to improve as does her cooking skills. She was a big help in prepping all the food for this evening and even did a good job vacuuming. Those activities took us right up to nap time save for a brief walk in the sun which was well deserved.
Janet didn’t sleep at all after trying for an hour so I got her up so she could set a few things out before people arrived. First on the scene were Brian and his daughter Olivia who Janet took an immediate interest in. Surprise surprise. Olivia didn’t take to Janet as quickly as she took to the bins of Barbie stuff Janet suggested we bring out. Good call.
Janet right at home
The evening was very enjoyable as we got to wait on some of the staff that have worked so hard with Janet the last year and a half. Janet has a hard time keeping up with the conversation in group settings but was happy to sit back and listen. We are blessed to be able to host good people in our home.
Praying for a night of deep and reenergizing sleep.
When Janet called me after lunch today I could sense right away where she was steering the conversation to. Yesterday she repeatedly asked if she could come home early for the weekend since its going to be such a busy one. I made her the usual deal of getting all her therapies done by lunchtime then we’d talk. She couldn’t tell me fast enough that she’d done just that then asked again if she could come home. How could I say no and why would I?
Janet agreed to a nap before I picked her up though and she was just getting up when I arrived. We are having some of the Connect staff over for a BBQ tomorrow so there was work to be done as soon as we got home and getting dinner was first up. Pizzas are a good project for Janet to help with and she loves eating them so that was dinner tonight. We are developing a good routine around pizza making. Janet, in her wheelchair, is able to get a lot of the ingredients and turn the oven on and she’s awesome and putting the sauces on before building the actual pizzas. It used to be that half of her toppings would end up anywhere but on her pizza. Not so now, she is creating masterpieces.
For the BBQ Janet was pretty insistent on having a dessert and wanted to make a carrot cake, her favourite. My baking past is not pretty so I was a reluctant participant in our effort tonight but I must say the end result looks pretty good and the icing is awesome. Janet broke eggs and mixed things together for the cake really well then decided to chat with Laurel for a bit while I figured out the icing. After catching up a little on our So You Think You Can Dance watching, Janet iced the carrot cake before going to bed.
Because of all the kitchen work, Janet was in her wheelchair more than I would’ve liked tonight but that is the best way for her to be able to help. She did stand to ice the cake and had to walk up the two steps from the garage when we got home today as I’ve taken away the wheelchair ramp. There is a grab bar on her left side and using that she effortlessly got up both steps. High five! I may not put the ramp back if going down the steps is just as good.
Praying for a night of reenergizing sleep and a fun Friday.
The lunch time phone call today came from Janet who said she had everything done including sitting in the sun a lot. I was glad to hear that and could recognize the energy that had given her. She said she wasn’t going to nap today and asked if I could come out a little earlier than planned as Jess wanted to talk to me. I arrived just after three, talked to Jess as she was leaving, went to Janet’s room to find Curtis helping her get ready for a nap. Now she was tired. Sheesh. Jess was giving me the heads up that there is an opportunity to go hiking on July 26. The CRIS Program would be leading the day and Janet would be pushed in a wheelchair adapted for rough terrain. She of course isn’t wanting to go but so far the calendar is clear then and I think I can convince her to try, she used to love that sort of thing.
It wasn’t much of a nap and when Janet woke up she immediately asked to go to the bathroom. I like it when that happens. After a little sun soaking Janet set the table for dinner then went back outside to warm up. We are having a hard time with the air-conditioning always blasting at Connect and don’t understand why people think its necessary. It wasn’t too bad during dinner but a nice walk in the sun afterwards made Janet feel good. Up until that point she had been walking freestyle the whole time and continues to do better than when holding my hand. A perfect example was going through the door to the patio with me and moving side to side so much she bonked her head on the door jam. Janet still wants to hang onto me for security sake but I’m trying to convince her to fly on her own.
Angie has a 3D TV that we moved out into the living room so people could watch Avatar in 3D. That was a new experience for Janet and although she didn’t really get the movie she enjoyed watching it in 3D and was impressed that it looked so cool. Unlike her.
Janet’s Ray Charles impersonation.
Unfortunately when she was done watching she habitually tried closing the glasses not knowing they don’t close. There is some damage to one arm that I might be able to fix. I hope.
Praying for a night of uninterrupted sleep and a happy Thursday.
Wedding day could not have gone any better from Janet’s perspective. She woke up too early but easily nodded off again for a good long sleep in. There was no way she would get a nap that day so I was glad she slept in.
After a shower and breakfast it was time to start getting ready. Courtney did a great job with Janet’s hair before I took her over to Heather’s where all the girls were getting beautified.
The plan was that Janet would hang out until Heather had her dress on so that the Mother of the Bride could get a sneak peak, but in true girl fashion, things were running behind schedule so that never happened. Laurel applied some make up on Janet, she totally doesn’t need it, and after watching the bridal party get primped it was time for us to gather some of the rest of the family and get out to the wedding venue.
The weather was perfect and the Britannia Yacht Club surprisingly beautiful. I had no idea there was such a beautiful spot in Ottawa.
The guys were on time and the girls fashionably late and no one seemed to mind as we took in the scenery. Janet had long set the goal to walk at Heather’s wedding and she achieved that in spades. I thought she might be able to walk part way down the aisle with Heather during the ceremony but there really wasn’t room to do that and Heather wasn’t feeling too stable in her shoes to support Janet if needed. The compromise was for Janet to meet Heather at the front and take a few steps with her to meet Allan. That part worked well and was all Janet really wanted as she got a nice hug from her new son in law and said “goodbye honey” to her daughter which brought peels of laughter from everyone gathered. A solid Janet moment.
I walked with Janet down the aisle after the ceremony so we could congratulate the newlyweds and Janet stayed on her feet for a good half hour after that as we took pictures and visited with family. The reception was held on the upper floor of the yacht club and since their elevator was not completed yet Janet had the use of a human elevator to get up the long flight of stairs. Four of us carried her in her wheelchair like she was Cleopatra and got her into the party where she wasted no time in getting a glass of wine going. The room was the perfect size and decorated nicely, the staff were very professional and friendly. Janet ate a good dinner and was pumped up to give her surprise speech. She wrote and had been trying to memorize a speech for Heather and Allan for about a month now. I was confident she could get it locked into her memory and practicing in a quiet room she was getting close. In a room buzzing with the excitement of a wedding there was no way. Even with the written speech in front of her Janet was too excited to stick to the script. She made her point well though and earned another standing ovation.
The highlight of this day for me in relation to Janet had to be when we got to dance together. The “official” first dance was just ending and no one had joined in as they had been invited to so I grabbed Janet and out onto the floor we went. Heather and Allan were thrilled someone was willing to get things started and Janet got more comfortable after the dance floor filled up. She was able to get a little hip action going as well as move her feet while holding my hand. It was very exciting and something I’ll never forget.
As the party got louder and the room hotter Janet called it a night around 10:30 or so. She did amazing all day and I know she will remember this day for a long long time as it meant so much to her.
Praying for a life filled with love and happiness for Heather and Allan and thanking Jesus for Janet and all she is able to do.
When we were in Ottawa last week there was an event on called Rib Fest. A bunch of world famous rib restaurants had food trucks set up competing against each other for who made the best ribs. It was fun to watch but neither of us eat ribs, or so I thought. Curtis made some for dinner tonight and to my shock Janet gobbled them up! Who knew she was such a carnivore? All she would eat at Rib Fest was corn on the cob but tonight she was licking her fingers with a smile on her face. Recipes anyone?
I had Janet walking a lot tonight including all the way up to Games Night. I found that she had better form when not hanging onto me at all. She stood straighter and her steps were more deliberate. She didn’t like having to freestyle walk as much as she did but smiled each time she completed a trip. There were a couple of stumbles when holding my hand and zero when she was on her own. Going to keep pushing her to do more on her own.
There was a bit of a delay before Janet could use the Standing Frame today so she wasn’t in it till after dinner. The timing actually was perfect as she got to watch the last part of Genie Bouchard’s round one victory at Wimbledon. That was probably the quickest forty five minutes Janet has spent in that machine as she really enjoyed the match and made some excellent observations during it.
Praying that Janet has a deep and healing sleep that brings lots of energy for a productive Wednesday.
The transition back to “work” for Janet seemed to go real well as when I got to Connect late this afternoon Janet gave me one of her best daily run downs ever. She seemed very bright and her memory was working almost shockingly well. According to her, all her exercises were done and the report she gave me was so good I didn’t feel a need to verify it.
By the time we were done talking and Janet was up and dressed it was dinner time. We ate outside in the beautiful 28 degree sunshine while the rest of the house sat in the freezing cold air conditioning. They think we are crazy. I think Janet may come home sooner if Connect is going to be so ridiculously cold.
In keeping with her increased brightness, Janet, on a number of occasions started walking around her room unassisted and without being asked. Her confidence level has never been higher I don’t think and it translated into me sometimes not even watching as she moved about her room. Considering she barely freestyle walked at all in Ottawa I was really surprised she attempted and did it so much today. Near the end of the night she relied on me more, even to the point of refusing to go to the kitchen from the living room for a cookie. Because I wouldn’t hold her hand she turned around in the middle of the floor and walked back to the couch, turned and sat all by herself. She thought she was depriving me of something I wanted her to do when in fact she practiced turning and sitting without hanging onto anything. I could not have gotten her to do that voluntarily and may have discovered a new strategy.
We spent some time reading and catching up on emails. Janet did a good job on all fronts especially typing where once she got warmed up was even hitting the space bar without prompting. A new thing for her.
The wedding of course is top of everyone’s discussion list with Janet and she was thrilled to sit and share some pictures with Chelsea and Karl tonight. She gets a little excited when doing things like that and sometimes skips over some detail she ought to point out and forgets names but all in all she did a good job describing each pic. She very smoothly recounted the great job Courtney did with her hair and laughed along with the rest of us at the pig tails that were put in to hold some hair out of the way for a bit. It’s nice to hear Janet laugh at things like that instead of commenting on how “awful” she thinks she looks.
Janet proved her trooper status again today, getting up in time for a farewell breakfast with Heather, Cam and Gina, Leslie and Gavin. The goodbyes didn’t produce as much tear water as I thought they might and we made it to the airport in plenty of time to start the long journey home.
I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with Janet’s stamina for flying and for the help we got along the way. Dare I say the Westjet ground crew in Toronto were even “too helpful” today. I had to almost argue with them to stop them from giving Janet a ride on their golf cart to our connecting flight. We had lots of time, she needed a bathroom break and we wanted to get some food. I know its fun riding a golf cart and all but.
Courtney’s car was parked at our house so that gave us the chance to go home for sushi before the dreaded trip back to Connect for Janet. The weather here is gorgeous so we ate outside and reminisced about the last few days. We all agree that it was a great trip and the best wedding we’ve been to.
Chelsea made Janet’s arrival at Connect pleasant by coming outside as soon as she saw us and giving Janet a big hug. Janet was too tired to really chat and was sleeping by 10:15. No surprise there as that’s 1:15 her body time.
Praying for a safe and on time honeymoon flight for Heather and Allan Monday and for lots of energy for Janet as she transitions back to “work”.