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Janet, A Success Story. October 26. #TSJ

I’ve always tried to focus on the positives when writing this blog and most days there are many to report. There are today too but the negatives outweigh them unfortunately so I’m going to be honest about that rather than sugar coating things.

Janet is not happy and neither am I. She seems to be at her wits end as far as Connect is concerned and maybe about rehab in general. Her attitude is wearing on me and as a result this was the least fun weekend we’ve had in a long time. There were a few fun times, church was good, we watched a couple of good movies and we enjoyed visiting with Cam. Janet also did a great 200 meter walk on Saturday but despite the congrats from Cam and I, didn’t really accept the fact she’d done well and was very resistant to doing it today. When she did, she kept saying “I can’t”, “I’m exhausted”, “my legs are tired”, “I hate this”, the whole way through so of course her time was way off.

We didn’t really do much this weekend and that may be part of the issue. There was a lot of down time where I had no idea what to suggest and neither did Janet and the things I did suggest were dismissed abruptly. These are the times I dread for when she comes home full time as she can’t think of anything to do and I’m tired of being the booking agent for her. I don’t want her to be over scheduled but maybe spontaneity isn’t realistic either.

To cap it off, Janet scared the heck out of Cam and I at dinner tonight by choking on a piece of sweet and sour pork. She’d put a monstrous sized piece in her mouth, unbeknownst to us, then I heard her gurgling. Janet has “choked” on things before and has always been able to cough it out reasonably quickly. Tonight as I asked her to do the same she motioned repeatedly that she couldn’t. I did some mini Heimlich manoeuvres on her and she soon brought the chunk up. Cam was on the phone with 911 as Janet cleared herself and she was fine instantly. A very scary moment that I don’t wish to repeat and Janet has already blocked from her memory. During her bedtime recap of the day she correctly identified every activity of the day except that one and I didn’t bother to remind her of it.

Where this leaves or takes us I’m not sure. It may be that Janet comes home before the end of November if she’s not going to make an effort at Connect. Maybe spending this next week at home while my mom visits and we go to the Skate Canada International competition would be enough of a respite to get her through that last month. Maybe there’s not enough to be gained by keeping her at Connect another five weeks even with a good effort. Maybe my role needs to change. I don’t know but it does seem that something has to change real soon.

Praying that tomorrow brings lots of positive energy to Janet and me.

Janet, A Success Story. October 20. #TSJ

Grumpy Janet made a brief appearance this afternoon as she helped out with dinner prep. Apparently its good to help out at home because “that’s for us” but she shouldn’t have to help at Connect “because no one else does”. For some reason Janet thinks Connect is a hotel sometimes but I find the more she actually contributes the better she feels about it. Case in point, tonight, after insulting the smell of Karl’s dinner and pouting about making a salad, the compliments she received about her salad and the great taste of Karl’s dinner flipped her mood entirely. Janet admits she gets grumpy sometimes and doesn’t know why and it was interesting to see others at the table not admit to getting grumpy when we all know they do. Janet was praised for her honesty and used that to motivate her to put in a little walking practice later on.

Fear of “speed” is still holding Janet back but I watched her walk down the hall freestyle tonight at a very good clip for her so maybe things are starting to change. I pulled her to the gym quite quickly, then we learned that neither of us can do a proper sit up, so we quickly went back to her room. Her other walking adventures tonight were done while clinging onto whatever was nearby and Janet for sure does that more when she’s tired.

The bulk of her free time tonight was spent writing. Me typing, her dictating. Janet is now able to string four or five words together and with help staying on track with a particular thought she can actually tell a decent story. I’m seriously considering having her contribute to this blog once she’s home full time. She’s not totally opposed to the idea. Janet has decided to get baptized November 15th and tonight’s project was to write a testimonial that she will record to a video that could be played during a service or two. With some prodding along the way I think she ended up with a very good draft tonight and it’s nice to read something that is mostly her words.

Praying for a great night of sleep that brings lots of energy and confidence for Tuesday.

Janet, A Success Story. October 15. #TSJ

Talkative Janet was going strong again today. I went out to Connect for what I thought would be the end of lunchtime but Janet and the others were just getting going on their meals. Janet was excited to see me, knowing she was going home for the afternoon, but instead of rushing through her meal she kept jabbering away with Wes and Brad. She was having fun and was in good form, nice to see.

During the ride home Janet was able to accurately tell me about her day so far and in a voice I could hear easily over the car noise. She sure has come a long way. She braved a cool walk with the dog before calling her own nap time at home. After helping me make a salad we enjoyed an early dinner discussing SheLife and our Christmas trip to San Diego. I’m trying to get her to stop agreeing with every suggestion I have for activities there so she can pick some herself but I think its a little too far away yet for her to really focus on it.

SheLife was good tonight according to Janet. The most impressive part for me was her calling a bathroom break in the middle of it. Maybe she is making progress on that reluctance to interrupt something. Back at Connect Janet learned that it is not a hotel after all as even though her laundry was being done when we left this afternoon, it was not put away and her bed wasn’t made when we got back. She actually expected it would be but did a good job putting her clothes away and helping me make the bed. Dare I say, a little more confident on her feet?

Praying for a long night of sleep and a confident Thursday.

Janet, A Success Story. October 14. #TSJ

Through most of her stay at Connect Janet has never been that outspoken. She’s mostly waited her turn to say anything and often feels like a bother if she asks for something. Not today. When she called me after lunch she couldn’t wait to tell me how she’d worked most of the morning with a girl “that wants to get a job here” and they talked a ton and she read The Hallo-Wiener to her and it was good. Janet was speaking confidently and intentionally and it was clear she was on another level.

The increased brightness continued after I got to Connect, particularly as dinner was wrapping up. Big Country had just consumed a worthy meal and noticed Janet eating grapes, his favourite. To prevent him from becoming bigger the staff regulate what he eats closely and said he’d had enough. Janet, acting more like a grandmother, attempted to sneak some grapes to Big Country when no one was looking. He persisted in asking and Janet persisted in advocating for him, not understanding why he couldn’t have any. When it became apparent she and he had lost the battle, Janet defiantly told Curtis and Chelsea, “you guys are crazy”. It was an impressive display of Janet speaking her mind and standing up for someone she cares about.

Academics were the theme for most of my visit with Janet today. I helped her prep for SheLife tomorrow, Big Country even joined us for part of that, and the evening was taken up with Games Night. For various reasons Janet hadn’t been to Games Night for a few weeks so I was expecting her to be a little rusty. I was wrong. She was quite enthusiastic about it and participated well, in part I think because of the absence of one person who likes to blurt out answers inappropriately. One element of Games Night is a challenge to everyone to remember “the word of the week”. One of the residents suggested this week’s word be “morgen”, German for morning. That changed into “guten morgen”, which Janet took great pleasure in teaching everyone to say with her high school German accent. She’s still got it. Janet actually admitted afterward that Games Night was fun and told Curtis that she liked it better without “so and so there”.

With Janet being in a good mood after Games Night I got her to walk down the stairs on the way back to her room. She did great, as she did with all her walking tonight which was mostly speed walking with me.

Praying for a restful night and a fun Wednesday.

Janet, A Success Story. October 12. #TSJ

Janet was not at all thankful for going back to Connect tonight. She was the most upset about it that she’s been in a long time but once there and settled in all was as good as could be and we’ll pray for a productive week.

The weekend was enjoyable for Janet, not a lot of crazy activities but enough action to keep things interesting. Friday night, eleven of us from our wine club attended a dinner put on by the culinary students at Okanagan College. We live close enough that we were able to walk there with some of our neighbours and it was warm enough that Janet only needed a light sweater. Of the five courses presented, Janet liked the salad served first the best. Surprise! The wines were not as adventurous as I was hoping for and they proved a little too much for Janet but I’m always willing to help her out. Saturday, Courtney joined us at church and was surprised at how well and how far Janet is walking. Today, Courtney spent the afternoon with us on an unofficial Thanksgiving Day visit. She gave Janet a much needed manicure and having her around made coping with the Seahawks loss much easier.

There was lots of practicing the laundry machines and cooktop this weekend for Janet and she’s getting better at both. Passing her laundry test just seems to be a matter of getting enough repetitions in. As far as walking goes, there’s no noticeable decline in the fear level but left on her own Janet seems happy to make her way around wherever she wants to go. She just needs to do it at Janet speed.

Praying that Janet has an enjoyable week and that she stays focused on the positives.

Janet, A Success Story. October 8. #TSJ

As soon as Janet’s exercises were done this morning we met with Brian, Mary Lou and Jess to review Janet’s get out of Connect goals. There are only a few remaining, read to the pre school kids, operate the laundry machines, walk 200* meters in six minutes. There is an asterisk beside the 200 meters as Tez has not confirmed that as the number, in fact there is an asterisk beside all of Janet’s goals as even the ones she’s achieved don’t indicate mastery of any particular task. Everything is a work in progress and the target for Janet is to get a good baseline of abilities while at Connect. She’s well on her way to being home by the end of November.

Since SheLife was tonight, I took Janet home after the meeting. We made a stop at the grocery store on the way and Janet helped choose what to buy. She then helped make her lunch and did a great job helping with dinner after her nap. It was nice to be home for the afternoon and we realized that Janet now spends more time at home than she does at Connect. Hearing that, pleased Janet and I hope she can use that the next time she feels crummy about being there.

In trying to promote Janet’s independence I had her walk freestyle across the room to her table at SheLife tonight. She was nervous of course but did it just fine, in fact she didn’t use one piece of furniture for support along the way. Janet said she was able to contribute to the conversation and was all smiles when I picked her up. I’m really pleased she can be part of such a great group of ladies.

SheLife "groupie"

SheLife “groupie”


Praying for a good night of sleep and for a confident Janet tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. October 5. #TSJ

We are now another weekend closer to Janet coming home full time. There were not a lot of direct attempts at reaching the three goals she has left to achieve but Janet participated in many activities that helped her. Each day there was lots of walking, both freestyle and with me pulling her along. The cane was not used once all weekend and the wheelchair was used only for some long outside walks we took. Each day saw Janet do a 200 meter walk with today’s effort clocking her best time by thirty seconds. I’ve been pulling her along on these to try and get as close to the speed she needs to go but we’re still taking just over eight minutes to complete the route. Janet is still too scared to go any faster. Inside, Janet is showing signs of being less scared. She loves to cling onto whatever she can reach but hesitates much less now when approaching an open area and she has to let go of something. The confidence and stamina are building in the kitchen as Janet stood and helped there a lot this weekend. She’s also learning to get herself into better position before attempting a task. Previously she would start doing something the second she could reach it instead of getting herself strong and stable. Janet practiced her reading every day and continues to read faster and with more expression.

Friday night was the re start of our Small Group and we had a really interesting discussion with our three guests and Janet participated well and is looking forward to keeping this going on a regular basis. During our walk on Saturday we ran into a few of our neighbours along the way and had some interesting chats with them. Janet is getting to know more people around here and is liking them too. One of her KGH Rehab Pool partners was at Trinity Saturday night and spent some time reminiscing with Janet but she doesn’t remember much from those days. Tonight we enjoyed a yummy dinner and good conversation with Randy and Claudette, and Henrik and Sandi whom we haven’t connected with for a long time. Janet agreed it was a fun and interesting evening. All in all it was a fairly social weekend.

There were many positives for Janet this weekend, encouragement from others, recognizing improvement in herself and socially functioning at her highest level since this all started. Janet will still have long moments of silence where I wonder if she’s tuned in or not then she’ll contribute in a way that shows very clearly she’s been paying close attention and processing well too. Fun and encouraging to see.

Praying for a good night of sleep and an energetic and confident Monday.

Janet, A Success Story. October 1. #TSJ

A happy Janet called me this morning wondering when I was coming out to see her. Not sure why she was so happy as it had been a routine morning for her with the exception of no Speech with Mary Lou. Janet usually likes those sessions so it wasn’t like missing a workout with Tez. She wasn’t pleased that I would be a while as Cam and I were busy cleaning out his car and doing laundry. Janet fully understands what thats like though and so do some of you.

Janet was sitting on the edge of her bed when I got to her room, ready to get up from her nap. She had partially dressed herself and is getting better at that week by week despite complaining that its too hard. Still in a good mood she agreed to practice her six minute walk test before leaving for dinner and SheLife. The course that Tez had laid out in the upstairs hallway had been partly destroyed so I had to guess where the thirty meter turning point was before starting Janet on her way. I followed close behind her the whole way and in six minutes Janet unofficially traveled ninety five meters. Or ninety or eighty five, somewhere in that ballpark. A significant improvement over the last time and much better than I expected. Janet was going for it the whole time and was pleased with the result herself. Now she just has to give that same effort tomorrow with Tez and every other time she’s walking.

To kick off another season of SheLife Janet and I stopped for Chinese Food before going to the church. This was the first wheelchair free visit to the Asian Pear and Janet did a great job serving herself at the buffet and cleaned her plate with very little spillage. Quite a difference from the first time we went there. The welcome for Janet at SheLife was warm as expected and she was really touched by how caring the ladies there are to her. Tonight was more of a get to know each other night rather than study time so Janet was able to talk a lot about her summer activities and more. She had a good time and is glad to be back.

There was one more chance to see Cam before he heads to North Vancouver tomorrow and that just happened to include some frozen yogurt. We tried a place called Goji’s which is right close to the church and we all found it to be quite yummy.

Praying for Janet to have an overflow of confidence in her ability to do anything she puts her mind to.

Janet, A Success Story. September 30. #TSJ

Disappointingly, today’s appointment with Dr. Miller was postponed until next Thursday. Apparently there’s someone out there more important than Janet? That meant Janet could do her full workout this morning which she was actually ok about. Jess showed me a trick she’s been using to get Janet to walk faster. She puts her hands on both sides of Janet’s hips and gently pushes and without any resistance Janet speeds up dramatically. I’m not that good at it yet and Janet will only tolerate it for so long but I feel its better than me dragging her along.

Tez and I had a chat and agree that fear is Janet’s biggest obstacle right now and no one has any new tools to offer. He will assess her six minute walking test on Thursday then set a new walking goal for Janet to reach before leaving Connect. 400 meters just isn’t realistic in the time remaining. Janet is aware of all this and seems relieved there will be an easier goal set. Maybe that will lessen the fear?

After a couple of days delay, Cam made an appearance today and I brought Janet home this afternoon so we could have dinner with him. This was a cane and wheelchair free trip for Janet and she managed just fine. She was a big help prepping dinner again enjoyed the energy Cam brings to the house. There was a little complaining about going back to Connect tonight but that was tempered by knowing she gets dinner out and SheLife tomorrow then a quick trip to the coast and home for the weekend starting Thursday. Praying for a good sleep and an energetic Wednesday.

Janet, A Success Story. September 24. #TSJ

I picked Janet up today just as she was finishing her lunch and brought her home for the afternoon as we were going to the church this evening. Janet’s morning had been pretty routine and she was as eager as ever to get out of Connect.

To take advantage of our time at home and before she got too tired I asked Janet to get a pot of water boiling on the cooktop to see if she could do it without coaching. If I was grading her out of ten I’d give her an eight on this attempt. I’m not quite ready to give her credit for achieving that goal yet, she’d need a ten out of ten, but expect to this weekend. Next up was a 400 meter walk and although she did it, the speed is still slow and the nervousness continues to control Janet. I’m really pleased she agreed to do it and she didn’t argue about being cane-less in the house either. In fact she was also wheelchair-less for this entire outing. Pretty cool.

The coolness continued when we got to the church. The event was a Small Group info night and we hoped to recruit a few people into ours. Instead, it turned into a bit of a SheLife reunion for Janet as most of her table mates were there and hadn’t seen her all summer. Nor had they seen her walking around on her own. Very cool. SheLife starts again next week so this was a good teaser for Janet in what’s to come.

Back at Connect we got to meet the newest resident in Janet’s house, Brad, who just arrived from West Vancouver a few minutes ahead of us. Seems like a nice guy with a good support team around him. Should liven up the dinner table nicely.

Praying that Janet has a sound night of sleep and has lots of confidence to work hard tomorrow.