Hard to believe August is over. The home stretch begins now for Janet as her goals for coming home full time get closer and closer. September promises to be challenging and busy but not without some fun too.
This past weekend Janet worked hard on her distance walking, each day doing a 400 meter circuit that her legs told her they felt. We weren’t focused on the timing so much as getting used to the distance and Janet did the first 200 meters using her cane then the last 200 holding my hand so she could pick up the pace a little. I had to coax her out the door to do these walks but Janet felt good about completing each one. Her stride continues to improve and will do so more once her AFO gets adjusted. For the first time ever, I was able to bring myself to not supervise Janet as she walked from the kitchen, down the steps to the garage and into the car by herself. I simply told her I’d meet her at the car and when I got there she was in it with a big smile on her face saying “I did it all by myself!” High five!
Relaxing was the desired outcome of the weekend for Janet again but I managed to get her to help out a lot in the kitchen and do as much for herself as possible. She practiced the laundry machines and the cooktop as well as getting the dog a treat. Janet is getting very good at rinsing and stacking dishes while I wash and can do most of the emptying the dishwasher except for some things she can’t reach to put away. We have some tweaking to do still on where kitchen stuff should go so Janet can access it and will consult Brian as soon as he’s able to come over and do an assessment for us.
Janet was able to relax and watch a lot of tennis this weekend and really gets caught up in the personal stories and struggles of the players as well as the drama of a good match. It’s a great sport for her to watch as she can follow the game well and really see the players as they aren’t covered by helmets and stuff.
Returning to Connect tonight went smoothly probably because Janet knows she’ll be back home Tuesday so I can take her to her Botox appointment Wednesday morning then we are going to Seattle for a few days to watch the Seahawks play some real football. So, a little pain and a lot of fun this week. Praying for Janet to sleep well tonight and have lots of energy for a productive Monday.
Janet called me right at noon as she finished her workout and asked if she could come home sooner than planned. I obliged but she had to go grocery shopping with me on the way. Her morning was good according to her. Tez was away and sent a student to work with Janet and she liked him a lot. Not that he was that much easier on her but that he had a different approach to things. To help Janet take longer strides he placed markers on the floor and Janet had to hit each one as she stepped. A Tez idea but first tried today and Janet feels she did pretty well at it.
Grocery shopping was as fun as it can be and Janet enjoyed having a say in what we bought. She had another fun activity after that, a visit to the dentist. If they had automatic doors at the dentist office I could easily drop Janet off outside now and let her do the appointment completely on her own. Her cane walking is strong enough and she needs only the slightest bit of help lifting her right leg onto the dentist chair. Pretty cool. She was able to watch some tennis while in the chair and we watched more at home tonight treating this as Janet’s Friday especially since her mouth was frozen for hours. There are no specific plans tomorrow but I hope to have Janet practice some domestic activities as well as her distance walking. Praying for a restful night of sleep and continued improvement.
Today was rather routine for Janet. Speech with Mary Lou this morning involved practicing reading and Janet said Mary Lou was pleased at how Janet had read The Hallo-Wiener to the Games Night group. I convinced Janet to read it to me tonight and for the first time I noticed her realizing she’d missed a word or two then going back to read them. The improvement is not in her remembering to read all the way to the right but in recognizing that what she just read makes no sense without those other words. Janet has probably read this story enough now that she knows what its supposed to say so it’ll be interesting to see how she does with some new material.
Lots of walking was the substitute for the Shuttle during gym time today. Janet commented to me that she has a habit of reaching back at whomever is pushing her from behind when trying to get her to walk faster. She understands that its a trust thing and will try and learn to not react that way. Her cane walking to me is still rather slow but her gait is improving as she manages to get her left leg more forward each step. I hope we can work on the distance walking a lot this weekend.
Taking advantage of the hot weather we went for a nice walk after dinner and watched some soccer before treating ourselves to an ice cream cone from the little stand at the corner store. We stayed out on the patio until dark as it was so nice outside and so artificially cold inside.
Janet did a great job with her end of day report to me, getting everything right, even names of people, up until the late afternoon. Its odd to me how she can remember the morning so clearly but not a few hours ago unless I give her clues. Still getting better though.
Praying for a solid night of sleep and a productive Thursday.
Tuesdays are usually work with Tez days for Janet and she kind of dreads that. This morning she knew that AFO lady was coming to see her and that her session with Tez would be delayed. Well, AFO lady came rather late and Tez wasn’t feeling well so Janet had an easy morning. AFO lady was happy to see how much stronger Janet’s right leg has gotten and as a result has ordered some parts for Janet’s AFO so it can be modified to be more flexible. To further illustrate her increased strength Janet really impressed me with her bike ride tonight going farther and at a harder setting than ever before. She even climbed all nineteen steps very well on her way to Games Night.
Games Night was more of a story time with Janet night as she read The Hallo-Wiener to the group. Curtis couldn’t even finish introducing Janet and explaining what she was going to do before she started reading. There was no hint of nerves or anything as Janet jumped right into it. Like her previous public speeches, Janet tended to ad lib a lot instead of reading each word. That got her confused more than once and disrupted her rhythm. The good news is she knows she does it and agreed to work on stopping it. The group enjoyed the story and were very encouraging to Janet afterwards. Janet said it was OK but needs to keep practicing.
Storytime with Janet.
Praying for a good night of sleep that provides lots of energy for tomorrow.
Today was a pretty reasonable Monday for Janet. Curtis coached her through the gym routine and challenged her to read The Hallo-Wiener to the Games Night group tomorrow. A challenge that Janet readily accepted surprisingly enough.
She had just made her way down to the living room as I arrived at Connect this afternoon and was quite chatty. We hung out there visiting with Wes and his wife Roz and got a surprise visit from former resident, Fred. He’s hear for a week away from Connect Langley and it was fun to have him around tonight. Janet liked how he livened up the place.
Chelsea and Karl, both from England, decided to make the house an English breakfast for dinner tonight. Sausages, baked beans, potatoes etc. You may have already guessed that didn’t go over well with Janet so she ate my shrimp linguini and I ate her sausages and beans. She sometimes is referred to as queen of the house and lived up to that tonight.
Janet may not be queen for long as we were told that a new resident moves in across the hall from Janet tomorrow and happily she’s a girl. Janet is looking forward to meeting her.
One exercise Janet did not get to this morning was the Shuttle so tonight I gave her the option of doing that or climbing the stairs instead. She chose stairs and went up and down all nineteen in good fashion, with a little sweat and a minimum of complaining. When given the choice of what to do the rest of the night Janet very nicely remembered there was tennis on TV so we watched some first round action of the US Open broken up by some speed walking to the bathroom and freestyle walking to get meds. A strong day.
Praying for an excellent night of sleep for Janet and the desire and ability to fully participate in her Tuesday.
There may have been some intention of having Janet really work on her walking this weekend but reality was there was too much fun to be had. She was on a high from the radio interview on Friday, (still is), as Saturday got underway with the Mary/Gaga Skype chat which took place during breakfast in the sunshine. After a little tidying up before the arrival of our friends Nancy and Jim from North Vancouver, there was one chance to get some walking in. To warm Janet up we took the dog for a lap around the neighbourhood then filed him away so Janet could focus on walking. We parked her wheelchair outside the garage and I gave her the target of walking to the pedestrian gate and back. A distance of 100 meters each way. Janet started out without her cane and I reassured her she could use it if needed. She didn’t need it until the first leg of the trip was almost done. She then made it all the way back using her cane and walking on pace to do about fifty meters every six minutes, which is very good for her being outside where she is not as confident. I’m confident she can reach her goal of 400 meters in six minutes by sometime in November.
With the work out of the way and a good rest completed our guests arrived and the fun could begin. The rest of Saturday consisted of a glass of wine in the sun, a great church service, a very yummy dinner and good company throughout. Janet did well the whole time mostly listening to the conversation. She was more animated and vocal today especially during a leisurely breakfast that she got waited on for, and she was darn happy about it. We then headed out to a wine tasting at Sandhill Winery and were pleasantly surprised by the experience. Janet and I agreed on our favourite wine and brought a bottle home. Before Jim and Nancy took off on the next leg of their adventure we enjoyed a nice outside lunch with them. Janet and I came away from this visit with friends smiling, laughing and genuinely grateful to have such good people in our lives.
There was one last piece of work for Janet today and she willingly accepted helping prep dinner. The sun seems to be setting much sooner these days so dinner was inside after a lively discussion about Christmas vacation with the bulk of the family. Looks like we’ve settled on San Diego, now its a matter of locking down a place to stay. Janet is excited but mostly to hang with the family so where we do it doesn’t really matter to her. She was not excited about going back to Connect tonight but was greeted as a celebrity when she walked in and that brought a huge smile to her face. She really believes in and is excited about sharing her story.
Praying for a solid night of sleep and an energetic Monday.
This is a special edition blog post in case you missed the live broadcast of Janet’s and my radio debut. We were on CBC Radio Kelowna’s afternoon show called Radio West and it was a lot of fun. Janet was nervous heading in and put in a stellar performance when she got on the air. I was OK going in then got quite nervous for both of us but enjoyed it in the end. The host, Rebecca Zandbergen is very welcoming and professional and enabled Janet to be herself.
Tez put Janet through the ringer again this morning and she responded very well. The cold has all but disappeared and Janet was highly motivated today in contrast to the last couple of days. Walking a lot without her cane Janet showed improvement in her stride to the point where Tez feels its time to adjust her AFO so that its not so rigid. Currently it supports Janet just like a ski boot and I think we all know how difficult it is to walk in those, so for Janet to have progressed to where she can where a more flexible AFO is huge. When the lady who built Janet’s AFO was chatting with us I got the impression she didn’t feel Janet would get there. Well, this coming Tuesday Janet will get to show her it wasn’t a matter of if but when.
Back on July 24th Janet did her first six minute walking test and managed to travel 27 meters. Today, less than a month later she more than doubled that distance to 55 meters! Her goal for leaving Connect is now set at 400 meters, a number Tez is confident she’ll reach provided she keeps putting in the work. We have a busy weekend planned but will find time for lots of walking.
Before going home today Janet got to stop at the dentist to have more cavities filled. The dentist feels these latest ones are still related to Janet’s very long time in the hospital where she wasn’t able to brush her teeth and he’s not worried about the future as Janet has good brushing and flossing habits.
It had been a long day by the time Janet got home so she went for a late nap so she could better enjoy her first night of the weekend. A glass of wine and the semi finals of So You Think You Can Dance made for a nice relaxing evening and a satisfying one as both of our contestants made it into the finals. As a bonus, our tickets to the SYTYCD Tour arrived today and even though its not until February, Janet is excited about going. Me too.
Tomorrow we make our radio debut and Janet says she’s a little scared about it. I know she’ll do well and it will be an exciting experience. Listen live at 5pm PDT here on CBC Radio.
Praying for a restful night of sleep, a fun Friday and for our story to inspire, encourage and bring faith to others.
PS. I’ve added a new page to this blog, Video. On it you will find each video that’s been posted of Janet since this adventure began. Enjoy.
Happily Janet’s cold seems to be going away. She sounded much better today and had lots more energy. Enough energy to put up a ton of resistance towards helping Chelsea make a cake and for doing any form of exercise tonight even though all she had done during the day was the bike.
When Janet called me this afternoon she excitedly told me how she had just read The Hallo-Wiener to Garrett and Curtis. She was quite happy she was able to do it and admitted she was nervous about reading to an audience. Mary Lou had encouraged her to try as it would be good practice for reading at a pre school. That was the good Janet. Things had shifted dramatically by the time I got to Connect and the majority of our evening was spent “discussing” the many reasons why Janet is at Connect and what her responsibilities are while she’s there. I was disappointed with her seeming lack of desire to help out around there and the false expectation that she should be waited on all the time. Those are very un Janet like characteristics and this was the second day in a row I’ve noticed them. It’s good that Janet is able to assert her feelings and wants but I don’t think its acceptable combined with a complete disconnect for other’s feelings and wants. We reached a resolution when Janet admitted she didn’t want to help with the cake because she feels she won’t be able to help or do enough based on having use of only one arm. When reminded of the good help she’s provided while baking at home she felt better about her situation but in the end only watched Chelsea and cheered her on a little. As far as the exercise goes, Janet finally agreed to do the stairs after realizing that going home on weekends is a privilege that is earned by doing the required work during her days at Connect.
Through it all there was still time for sitting in the sun and going for a nice stroll to watch some soccer before the bedtime reading session which lasted a short twenty minutes tonight as I don’t like reading out loud to myself and a snoring Janet.
Praying for another good night of healing sleep and for Janet to have a positive Thursday.
PS. Janet and I will be on CBC Radio this Friday afternoon just after 5pm PDT. The programme is called Radio West and is broadcast throughout the BC Interior. Thanks to technology, those of you not in our area can stream it live here , if you miss it, I hope to post a recording on this blog over the weekend.
Still bothered by her cold, Janet fought through Tuesday valiantly. Tez worked her hard this morning for the better part of two hours and has now instructed the staff to have Janet walk without her cane as much as possible. They are to use his method of “speed walking” whenever they have time to assist her. That involved leading Janet by the hand but at a very fast pace. I did it a few times with her tonight and found her pulling back in a resistance posture too much but her steps with both legs were almost equal. The goal is to improve her gait so that she is taking long strides with both legs and is confident with putting all her weight onto her right leg. There is improvement on that for sure.
Janet had a good nap this afternoon which really helped her get through the evening well. We sat in the sun from as soon as she got up until she was finished dinner. The warmth did her good and after a speedy walk up to Games Night Janet participated reasonably well. We did a speed walk back to her room then I let her cane walk herself to get her meds. By the time she was done her meds and the requisite chocolate, Janet was tuckered out and happily listened as I read to her before saying goodnight.
Praying for Janet’s cold to disappear and for her walking to keep on improving.