She believes! Janet finally has some confidence towards getting to come home for good this week. Something clicked today and she made huge improvements in her ability to pick something up off the floor. Chelsea took her into the den at Connect tonight for a half hour and practiced with her. Janet says that helped a lot because she really likes Chelsea. I did a lot of the same drills with Janet this weekend but I guess she doesn’t like me. She seems well on her way now and I’m confident that tonight is her second to last sleep at Connect!
Our day started early today which was really good practice for when she’s home full time. I had to be out by 8:15 which meant Janet needed to be up and dressed before then. She had to be out by 9:40 which meant breakfast needed to be finished as well. There was no problem getting up, Janet did her own thing after I helped with her AFO, shoes and splint. When I got back from my appointment at 9:15 she was finished breakfast and was proudly emptying the dishwasher. Love it!
After Janet’s appointment we made the drive to Connect during which I tried to motivate her to try her best at making this one of her last few days there. She wasn’t sure she could do it but sure worked hard once there. Almost immediately Janet went for a bike ride and set another personal record and even acknowledged that she’s getting stronger about half way through the ride. I took her out for lunch after that and we enjoyed a real nice hour doing that where Janet walked well and talked well, ordering her own lunch and making a lot of decisions in the process. Never once did the server have to ask Janet to repeat or explain. Following a well deserved nap Janet took the initiative and set the dinner table then worked with me on making a salad.
I played a few tricks on Janet to get her to pick things up off the floor and each time she new I was being “mean” but she made strong and successful efforts each time. After working with Chelsea I can say that Janet can consistently pick up her cane from the floor as well as her jacket. She’s doing so well that we may not hold her to being able to pick up her phone but she may just get it anyways. To round out her evening Janet agreed to walking the stairs and commented as she was doing so that “I’m going way faster”. Yes she is.
Janet listened intently as I read from the book we are currently reading, A House in the Sky, then excitedly said “I’m coming home!” as I said goodnight. The light is very bright at the end of the tunnel and its not an oncoming train, its Janet’s bright cheery home that she is about to actually live in.
Praying for a good night of sleep and a day filled with confidence and accomplishment tomorrow.
Finally, there was a chance for Mary Lou to watch the video of Janet reading The Hallo-Wiener to the kids at Stepping Stones Preschool. She approved of Janet’s effort and officially credited her with achieving that goal!
Here is a video clip of Janet reading. I wasn’t able to upload the entire eleven minute story but this will give you an idea of how Janet did. The beginning was very strong then she struggled for the last two thirds of the book, keeping a smile on her face most of the way through and managing to keep the kids attention. Well done!
That was the biggest excitement of the day. Janet enjoyed SheLife tonight and was happy to be home this afternoon where she did a great job operating the cooktop and stirring our stir fry for dinner. Janet did have a little scare first thing this morning as she fell coming out of the bathroom. According to her, “I just lost it”, and there are no marks or real pain resulting from it. She is complaining of a sore back when she steps up or down a step though so we will monitor that. Janet told me she didn’t call for help or try and get up, she just lay there waiting. Garrett suggested that for the rest of Janet’s time at Connect they teach her how to recover from a fall and or call for help. Great idea.
The staff have been working on Janet picking things up from the floor and that paid off tonight. Janet tosses her PJs from the armoire to her bed each night and tonight she missed. That meant doing a serious squat to pick them up and she did! Janet was nervous of course and unsure of the technique so it took a little prompting from me for her to get down low enough. She was quite happy afterwards and should be.
Praying for the soreness in Janet’s back to stop after a good night of sleep and for a successful video shoot of her baptism testimonial tomorrow.
Today was the big reading day for Janet and she got herself pretty wound up about it. She called me before lunch sounding really anxious and wondering when I was coming to get her. I calmed her down and explained how the day would unfold and she agreed to try and rest a little before I got there. That’s where I found her an hour later and I helped her get ready to go. She was excited but nervous.
When we got to the preschool Janet met her first challenge, a flight of twenty stairs. Pretty steep too but Janet gathered her energy and using my hand as a railing because the real one was too low, she made it all the way up just fine. Inside, it was all very familiar territory for Janet. So much so that she didn’t really even want to look around saying, “its the same old stuff”. It wasn’t, but it was familiar. About twenty, three and four year olds were gathered at Janet’s feet, and with a teacher holding the book, Janet dove right in. She started off great! Nice and loud, engaging with the kids, then something happened that threw Janet off and she never really recovered. It wasn’t a case of going to fast or making it up as she went along, she just seemed to loose focus enough to take her out of her rhythm. She made it through the book and the kids were very well behaved the whole time so based on that I think she passed. We’ll let Mary Lou watch the video and decide officially.
Janet was very relieved when it was over and not too happy with the way she read but agreed that she did it and the kids didn’t tune out so that was good. The experience did take a lot out of her though and once we got home she called nap time and slept for a good hour.
Once up I put her to work in the kitchen where she did a great job chopping and stir frying stuff for chicken fajitas. I never thought it would feel as cool as it does to stand at the kitchen sink with Janet and wash dishes but it does and I told her so tonight. That got the predictable self doubt response but hopefully inside it told her how well she’s doing. Janet got to relax and watch The Voice with some ice cream before driving back to Connect tonight and didn’t even complain about that. A successful day for Janet and one she can build on for the future. She worked hard to get ready for that reading gig and can be happy with her accomplishment.
Praying for a restful night and a confident and energetic 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.
A very matter of fact Janet called me this afternoon to tell me she had “done the steps with Tez and he said it was fine.” Translation, Janet has officially achieved her first “get out of Connect” goal! I can’t explain her lack of enthusiasm and satisfaction, maybe she realizes its just the first of eight goals she set for herself. That would be her thinking only, as everyone around her has been praising the accomplishment.
Tez worked with Janet for quite a while this morning and will do so each Tuesday and Thursday for the foreseeable future. They will be working on improving Janet’s stride and walking speed. Janet admitted she was pretty tired from the Tez work and needed a rest so I was surprised to find her in the living room when I got to Connect. She really could have used more of a rest as she was a little grumpy most of the evening but agreed to demonstrate her stair climbing for you on her way to Games Night. This was her first attempt at all nineteen steps as she chose to go up them all instead of going up then down ten. Janet is a little scared of the down part still so I let her choose tonight.
Its difficult to say what the next goal to be achieved will be but some progress was made on the reading one tonight. Janet emailed the preschool she used to work at to see if she would be allowed to read to the kids near Halloween time. The response came within an hour and her former boss is all for it. We hope to meet to chat about it soon.
Praying for a long night of sleep that provided lots of energy for a fun Wednesday.
Return trips to Connect have often been difficult and unhappy for Janet and tonight’s was near the top of the list in unhappiness. There was no crying or pouting or complaining just a clear stating of the fact that Janet feels like her “vacation, was not very relaxing”. She’s right and that was never the intention. I think it all boils down to nine days going by too quickly and a little bit of Janet forgetting some of the things she did. We had a good talk about it all and I was able to leave her smiling and seemingly content. She has a chance to officially achieve one of her goals this week and I think she’s looking forward to doing that.
The final phase of Janet’s “vacation” started Thursday as we said so long to my mom and hello to Brittney and Ethan.
Not too sure is he?
We had no idea what to expect from this adventure and were impressed at how well Ethan travelled from New Westminster to Kelowna. Janet did too but that is becoming old news. Overall, our weekend went well and by the end of the day today Janet found a way to connect with Ethan a little more. You could probably guess it was through reading and teaching but even Janet was surprised when she realized she was using an App with Ethan that I used with her during her first year at Connect. Its a word association game that Janet now knows and Ethan is improving on.
Teacher at work.
The rest of the weekend Janet was pretty much the innocent bystander, she didn’t want to swim when we went to the pool but enjoyed watching Ethan and noted his improvement after day two. We spent a fair bit of time at various beaches and Janet enjoyed watching the goings on there, I just wish she could participate more.
With a two year old and a dog in the house our at home routine became a little chaotic at times so Janet got waited on more than usual and there was no protesting from her on that one. She still did well getting her breakfasts, it was lunch and dinner that lacked involvement. Her walking was great and even Janet commented she’s getting better at coming up the steps from the garage.
All in all it was a positive weekend and a productive if not relaxing time away from Connect for Janet. Praying for a restful night of sleep and an energetic Monday for Janet.
PS. Tomorrow, (Monday), our friend Gary goes in for open heart surgery which is scheduled for 1:45pm. Please keep him, Barb and the medical team in your prayers.
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 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.
There were no Monday blahs for Janet today as she bounced right back into her rehab routine. All her exercises were done by lunchtime and she was up from her nap by the time I arrived at 3:30. Not what I was expecting but nice to see.
After catching up on the day’s activities Janet knew it was her turn to set the dinner table so off she walked to the kitchen. I was really impressed with her walking today, the confidence level seems to be growing daily and I think she’s speeding up a little too. Her table setting session was excellent as she needed to physical assistance and minimal coaching on what she had to put out and where it all went. With that chore completed Janet had time to sit in the living room and chat with Wes who just returned from two weeks in Saskatchewan. She was quite excited to see Wes and hear about his trip. It was a good conversation.
Independence is creeping up on Janet whether she likes it or not. She verbalizes a desire for help with a lot of things but increasingly is becoming more assertive, like refusing to go swimming, and tonight not wanting to read to me. I thought she’d be open to reading The Hallo Wiener to me since its her goal to read it to some kids in October. No way. And not in a whiny pouty way, she just didn’t want to read it to me saying she practices it on her own and that is fine. I did kind of trick her into reading a paragraph from another book and she did extremely well with that. She read even the far right hand side of each line, something she often neglects. More improvement.
Part of Janet’s duties for the evening was to do a little laundry and that enabled her to get lots of walking in without it seeming like I was making her walk for no reason. She uses anything and everything she can hold onto along the way but like I said before it seems to be really building her confidence and abilities. I left her alone for more than half of her trip to the med room tonight and she had no problems at all and once again got all her med questions right with no hints. Janet also gave me another awesome recap of her day after getting into bed in addition to telling me whats on her schedule tomorrow. Brilliant!
Praying for an excellent night of sleep and a productive Tuesday.
Janet’s day was pretty routine for the first half. She reported to me that she “did everything and it was all good”. Her pendant alarm rang as soon as I got to Connect so I went straight to her room where she was getting up from her nap and needed to go to the bathroom. Without her AFO and shoes on it’s not possible for her to walk on her own so she needs help and is really good at asking for it now. Once dressed, Janet walked well all the way to the patio where we stayed through dinner as the A/C was too cold inside. I will admit I turned the A/C on at our house today for the first time, as by 11 o’clock this morning it was over 28 degrees inside and that’s too warm even for me.
I thought with the heat I’d be able to convince Janet to go for a swim in the lake but she wasn’t having anything to do with that. It was all I could do just to get her feet in the water. It’s a start.
We spent a lot of time planning things tonight. One thing I try to involve Janet in each week is the meal planning at home. She helps decide what the dinners will be and helps create a shopping list with me. Doing that could be a chore but thankfully Janet seems to enjoy begin involved in the decision making and appreciates each meal more when it happens as she had some input into it. We also try to plan some of our activities for when she is home and I think tomorrow evening we are finally going to get to try Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. MMMM.
You haven’t gotten to see Janet walk for a while so I thought I’d give you a quick peak. Last night she flat out refused to go get her meds without me, tonight she never even asked me, she just got up and walked away. This is her making the return trip in record time.
Impressive huh? For reference, that walk really took just under three minutes.
Janet asked to go to bed a little early tonight so we’d have more time to read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. We did and she laughed a lot and continues to really enjoy it which is maybe why she remembers it so well. Each night before I read I ask her to tell me what happened the previous night and since we started this book she’s been bang on.
Praying for a good night of sleep and an energetic Thursday.