Month: July 2014

Janet, A Success Story. July 31. #TSJ Out in Style

The last day of July. Wow. Janet still thinks she has a long time at Connect and even knowing tomorrow is August she doesn’t really sense how quickly the time is passing. Maybe its not for her. Today went quickly though, while most of the other house mates were kayaking and swimming Janet was in the gym with Jess and complaining a lot, right to the point where Jess left her for a few minutes to get a grip on herself. When Janet called me and told me about this we had a good talk about how Janet needs to focus on her goals, try and achieve them as soon as she can then come home. She really seemed to get it but tonight when I asked her to do some stairs with me she started in the same way she had earlier with Jess. In the end she relented and walked to the stairwell.

Janet was confident she could do three steps up and down without assistance and very assertively told me to “back off” while she did them. The three steps up were way better than the other day and she got herself over to the other side of the stairwell easily. With me working hard at staying back, Janet descended three steps in style and unofficially, in my opinion, has now accomplished that goal. To make it official she needs to show Tez and that won’t happen until the week after next at the earliest as Janet gets a summer break starting tomorrow.

Janet usually comes home with me Thursdays for the weekend and was surprisingly cooperative about not doing so today. Laurel and Raj arrive tomorrow night for a few days then Janet and I are traveling to Nanaimo to visit my mom before bringing Brittney and Ethan back to Kelowna for a few days visit with us. Therefore, I wanted Janet to get her exercises done Friday morning before starting her nine nights away. Fair deal I think.

Chelsea gave Janet a few tasks in helping get dinner ready and Janet did them well and without protest. She was quite chatty with her housemates today, especially Wes, with whom she’s had a few “good conversations” the last couple of days. Good to see her stepping out more and more to start a conversation and even better that she remembers what was talked about a couple days later.

After the struggle of getting Janet to try the stairs and to reward her success I let her choose the activities the rest of the evening. She wanted to be out in the sun so we walked to Beasley Park and watched soccer for almost an hour. I remember doing that with Janet last summer and not being sure what she was seeing or understanding and now she’s telling me legitimate reasons why she’s cheering for one team over the other and making random but interesting observations like, “there isn’t a cloud in the sky”. Nothing to do with soccer but valid and it was pretty cool to look around the entire valley and not see any clouds.

More and more I am leaving Janet to get around on her own and she did really well with that tonight. I even heard her getting her meds from Chelsea and identifying them with only one hint. Praying for a solid night of sleep for Janet, a positive attitude and willingness to work hard Friday morning and for a fun nine days away.

In light of the visiting and traveling we will be doing, blog posts will be random and only as events warrant until sometime around August 11.

Janet, A Success Story. July 30. #TSJ Sky and Water

Summer is time for fun and Janet has had no shortage of opportunities at fun, even though she disagrees on what most would consider fun. Take sailing for example. I think most of us would consider sailing on Lake Okanagan on a warm summer morning to be fun. Janet went this morning but said the only fun part was going for coffee afterwards. Whatever it takes I guess.

Fun opportunity number two today came late this afternoon in the form of a trip back downtown to watch the Snowbirds perform. I know Janet has no interest in things like this but combined with a walk along the lakefront and some street food for dinner it had the potential for fun especially compared to a regular night at Connect. With that in mind Janet made the trek back downtown with a bunch of others from her house and I would meet them and the fun would begin. Well, as it would happen, they were late leaving Connect, traffic was bad, there was no parking in the area we wanted to go to, the plan B area is closed due to an extreme fire hazard so plan C was put into effect. Of course by that time people were hot, the show was about to start and the fun possibilities were limited as the walk along the lake and the street food options were now gone. I promised Janet a nice dinner after and she did her best to “enjoy” the show. She did like the giant heart the team made and sitting in the sun but that was about it.

On your left Janet!

On your left Janet!


I gave Janet the choice of dinner after the Snowbirds were done and she chose to go home and have sushi so we could watch So You Think You Can Dance. Good choice because I doubt we would have gotten into any restaurant this evening as it was super busy everywhere.

Janet was a little drained after all the traveling back and forth, her exercises and being out in the sun a lot today so it was nice to chill at home and watch both of our SYTYCD contestants make it into the top ten. We got back to Connect in time to read a little and Janet was snoring before the end of the chapter.

Praying for a solid night of sleep for Janet and a fun Thursday.

Janet, A Success Story. July 29. #TSJ Shot on Goal

To Janet, lately, her days seem to be pretty routine and uninteresting. In the past I’ve mentioned the perceived slowness of her progress. That seems to have flipped recently as I can see improvements almost daily and Janet is having a tough time recognizing them. The first part of today was routine for Janet with the exemption of having to walk everywhere. That appears to be paying off as her first trip down the hall with me was faster than any of her walks yesterday. It then took every bit of convincing I had in me to get her to leave the sunshine and try some stairs before dinner. I insisted because I think this is the goal Janet can accomplish before all others and pretty quick. Her goal is to be able to walk up and down three steps using only a hand rail for assistance. After the long walk down the hall Janet approached the stairwell with trepidation, then, as soon as she saw the nice wide steps and the handrail she easily climbed the first two and with an extra effort made it up the third one. I then helped her turn and walk across to the other side so she could grab that handrail and try going back down. Janet admitted she’s scared about going down so I stood right in front of her and had a hand lightly on her back for reassurance. She made it but needs to overcome that fear before marking that goal as achieved. Today was a great first shot on goal!

After her morning workout Janet said she practiced her hand writing for about an hour. She’s not happy with her abilities in that area but again, I’m seeing notable improvements. Tonight was Games Night and Janet was her usual enthusiastic self. Actually she’s gotten more accepting of the event and does quite well for the first forty minutes or so then tires. To give you an idea of what Janet’s longest walk at Connect is I recorded this time lapse video of her walking back from Games Night to her room. It’s too fast to see any improvement in her technique but you can sure see how much more distance she can cover. In real time this took five and a half minutes.

Praying for a great sleep and for Janet to be confident doing all she is asked to do tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. July 28. #TSJ

Today marked the beginning of Janet’s ramped up effort to achieve her move out goals. Other than the first transfer out of bed in the morning and a long walk with me tonight, the wheelchair stayed parked. One long term resident, Chris, commented to us this afternoon how impressed he was that Janet was walking everywhere with her cane. Chris has long been a cheerleader for Janet and she still values his opinion so his comments did her some good today.

By the time I got to Connect this afternoon Janet was waiting for me in the living room. She said she couldn’t nap and wasn’t sure why she was inside in the cold so we immediately went out to the patio where she recounted her day for me. Janet’s recall continues to improve to the point now where I no longer feel a need to verify her stories. The time soon came for Janet to set the dinner table and she needed no physical help at all but seemed to have difficulty in figuring out how many places to set and what to put with each one. I’ll blame the lack of a nap.

Our evening was pretty mellow as we took advantage of the hot weather and went for a nice long walk around the neighbourhood. Janet is so much more observant and conversant than when we did that last summer it blows my mind. There is one house we pass on this walk that has dozens of cats roaming the yard. Last year I’d have to spend five minutes guiding Janet to a point of seeing one of the seven or eight that were clearly visible at anytime. Now, she can even spot the ones hiding in the shade of the carport, which they all seemed to be doing tonight.

Janet realizes her walking pace needs to increase and I noticed a slight improvement tonight but more importantly it was obvious Janet was trying. She wouldn’t try and read The Hallo-Wiener to me though so I read to her and she laughed like a little kid at the end. Love it when she gets excited about silly things. Emails are still a chore for Janet but when she puts her mind to it she can churn them out pretty fast now using the voice to text feature and thats what she did for a few tonight, feeling a sense of accomplishment when done. Janet deserved to feel accomplished tonight as she had a good day.

Praying for a good long sleep tonight and an energetic and progressive Tuesday.

Janet, A Success Story. July 27. #TSJ

Another summer weekend comes to a close and it was a good one. Not a lot of activity as far as going out or having people over, just quality time together in the sun. Janet said the highlight for her was the salmon dinner we had tonight. It was yummy but I think the highlight for me was taking Janet out to see John today and having her lead the conversation after we stopped at a store and Janet walked with her cane the whole time there. It felt like she was more independent to me and I hope she’s feeling the same way. Janet is at least very willing to use the cane now and realizes it will help her become a faster walker and her memory has improved to the point where one tiny prompt from me can set her story telling for a couple of minutes.

Speed wasn’t really present all weekend as Janet is still nervous about walking. Her stair climbing improved each day and this is the least she’s used her wheelchair by far. It is still very much needed for walks to Menchie’s and such but not around the house at all. Janet cane walked into church but I had to lead her the last bit as she was going so slow we risked not being seated before the service started. We had lots of time as we left the building and Janet made that trip completely on her own. Slowly but she made it.

I pretty much dragged Janet to the pool today for a swim and she whined and complained until she got used to the water then I could hardly convince her to leave. Getting in and out was a little better today as she went with no AFO or shoes. The in part still needs work but getting out has been mastered.

Janet practiced her reading a fair bit this weekend and says she’s getting better and from what I heard I’d agree. There was even a little practicing of her handwriting which was nice to see, its getting better too.

The weekend ended up having lots of ways of suggesting to Janet that the goals she set last week are very achievable and I pray she has the attitude and ability to work hard at them all this week.

Janet, A Success Story. July 24. #TSJ

Janet and I met with her team at Connect early this morning and found it to be a productive time. Everyone is supportive of the idea of Janet setting goals to reach before leaving Connect as opposed to choosing a specific date and there was good discussion around what to set as goals in each area. The outcome is as follows;

– Walking- Janet wants to walk “like a regular person”. When asked to define that she said “being able to walk without standing there not knowing what to do”. Tez will use the 6 Minute Walking Test to measure Janet’s progress. The low end of “normal” for that test is 700 meters in 6 minutes. Today Janet did 27 meters. She likely will be tested a couple more times before setting a specific target to reach before leaving Connect.Tez recommends Janet use her cane to gain speed and confidence in walking. She is reluctant but was encouraged to hear that its a temporary thing. Janet used the cane for her last two walking trips at home tonight and although it didn’t speed her up she felt OK with using it.
– Steps- Janet would like to be able to climb and descend three steps on her own using only a handrail. Tez agreed she can likely do that very soon and will have the staff take Janet on the stairs at Connect next week.
– Reading- Janet wants to be able to read to three and four year olds with expression. Mary Lou says she’s making good progress and that is an achievable goal.
– Writing- Brian and I would like to see Janet be able to write her name, address and phone number on a form and be able to leave hand-written notes for people. Janet sees the value in that and will work with Mary Lou to get there.
– Home Chores- Janet would like to be able to load and operate the washer, drier and dishwasher as well as be able to operate the cooktop. Brian will come to the house one day soon to assess Janet and coach her on how to improve with those tasks.
– Toileting- Janet would like to be independent in her toileting routine. The staff have been training Janet and will coach me so I can help Janet at home.

Like I said, it was a productive meeting. The day only got better as Janet was able to come home for the weekend before lunch. We took advantage of the cool weather to stop and get Janet a couple new bathing suits and I think we did pretty well. You may see them this weekend. Janet napped while I went to the grocery store with the list she helped create then in the spirit of going after those goals I put Janet to work. We pitted two pounds of cherries for freezing, she pulled the stems off all of them and pitted some. She ordered quesadillas for dinner and chopped peppers, onion and mushrooms then built each quesadilla for us. After dinner she rinsed the dishes while I washed. She did all of this with no wheelchair in sight and standing for some of it.

Our neighbour, Bonnie came over for a post dinner glass of wine and a chat. She told us she had just baked three cherry pies and Janet got all excited saying that is her favourite pie. It must have been from her childhood because I don’t remember liking pie at all. Bonnie kindly agreed to bake one more. Smooth move Janet.

I’m looking forward to a fun weekend of involving Janet in as many household tasks as possible and walking a lot. Praying for an uninterrupted night of sleep and giving thanks for all we have been blessed with.

Janet, A Success Story. July 23. #TSJ

You all know about Janet and little kids, well apparently she has the same effect on little animals. Everyone in the house went to Kangaroo Creek Farm this morning and Janet quickly made a friend.

Cute. The baby 'roo is too.

Cute. The baby ‘roo is too.


They all seemed to really enjoy the outing with Janet being just as excited about stopping for coffee afterwards as seeing the kangaroos. The biggest laugh apparently came when they were told this Emu’s name is Larry.
I can see the resemblance. Can you?

I can see the resemblance. Can you?


I got two phone calls from Janet today, one to tell me about the kangaroos and the other later on when she had completed her exercises. She used that opportunity to tell me I could come out to see her anytime. Janet has really been focused on my visits and her time at home lately which is one reason we are having a mini team meeting tomorrow. I want Janet to set some goals to be reached before coming home so she has clear targets instead of an arbitrary date to shoot for.

Curtis asked Janet to set the table for dinner tonight but she declined based on it was her turn to do the clean up after dinner. Fair enough, Curtis and I made sure she followed through with that and to her credit Janet did great. Her ability to stand and work at something has vastly improved in the last couple of months.

Right where she belongs.

Right where she belongs.


Her freestyle walking tonight was solid but I notice a little difference when I helped her to walk fast. I think she’s so used to reaching for a wall or something that her upper body is now angled towards that support instead of where she’s headed. Minor but worth correcting.

Today was a bright day for Janet, she was talkative and “on” the whole time I was with her and she even did some singing as her and Angie attempted the Oscar Mayer Wiener Song. They got some laughs at least.

Praying for a dry night of sleep for Janet and a productive Thursday.