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Just Likes Riding a Bike. #TSJ

It’s been a fairly busy time since our last post. We have started attending a weekly seminar called Living With Stroke put on by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and lead by a former nurse and a stroke survivor. Each week focuses on a different aspect of post stroke life and attendees share their experiences with the group. So far it’s been quite positive and Janet has been willing to share when appropriate and is enjoying the conversation. This week’s session was on Physio Therapy and I thought Janet would have been all over that topic but I had to prod her to say something a couple times. The last two years of her life have been focused on physio so maybe she’s fed up talking about it. Understandable. One of the other attendees lives right around the corner from us so we’ve been giving her a ride during which she has shared a lot of her story and that has intrigued Janet and I think made her feel a little better about herself. It’s always good to be reminded that she’s not the only one out there.

That seminar is every Tuesday morning and Janet usually manages a trip to H2O every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning plus has SheLife Wednesday evenings so you can see how her weeks are pretty full. The outings to H2O are becoming more challenging to make happen. Partly because of the gloomy weather we’ve been having here and partly because it’s a whole lot of effort to get out the door then get changed then get wet and do it all again in reverse with Janet not really seeing the benefit and not having any fun unless there are some well behaved little kids in the pool with us. I’m seeing improvements in her walking, her left foot now comes more forward each step than previous. Janet doesn’t see that however and is complaining more and more about going. I’ve shortened the workout to just walking in the river as I think that has the biggest benefit to her followed by a stretch in the hot tub. Janet is now walking on her own both with and against the current as long as it’s not flowing too quickly.

Working out in the pool has its benefits for sure but the fun factor seems to have worn off and Janet is noticeably missing the cardio workout she got on the bike at Connect. We happened across a decent exercise bike for the house the other day and Janet has willingly ridden it a few times now. She can watch TV or listen to a podcast or music while she’s riding and best of all she doesn’t have to leave the house to do it. We plan on consulting with Alyssa at H2O next week and may shift the workout priority to the bike and reduce the visits to H2O. I don’t think its fair to keep pushing Janet to do stuff she doesn’t want to do.

Pedalling with Ellen and J Lo.

Pedalling with Ellen and J Lo.


Socially Janet is doing well getting reacquainted with the ladies at SheLife and we were blessed with an invitation to dinner at our neighbour’s house tonight. Janet contributed well to the conversation and is showing more signs of an improving memory. She bettered me today when we were talking with Debra at Connect. Debra has a tough time talking and was struggling to answer my question as to when her move out date is. In frustration she drew something in the air that Janet immediately recognized as the number 15 and knew Debra meant she’s going home February 15th. The air writing didn’t register with me at all and Janet is still laughing about that tonight.

Janet, A Success Story. December 22. #TSJ

Seems like forever since I’ve been here and I must admit the break has been nice. It was getting hard to find things to talk about on a daily basis for sure and now that Janet being at home is “normal” I have to dig deep for a weekly talking point. I think “normal” will be it for this one.

We are definitely into a routine around the house, not the most productive routine but one that has Janet responsible for some basic duties and helping out with others. She is improving with her abilities in the kitchen and has taken easily to building her own sandwich for lunch, all the steps, unassisted, with the exception of needing help to open the mustard sometimes. Janet is happy to put things away and do light duty cleaning but is reluctant to try the big things like vacuuming. Soon, I hope.

The exercise routine is ok and I hope will get better in the new year. Janet is doing really well in the pool, already graduating to walking forwards and backwards without the pool noodle. Today I took her into the River Run for the first time and she handled it better than I thought she would. The Botox has completely worn off now and I notice Janet losing some control of her right leg even out of the water. We didn’t make it all the way around the river as it got too deep for Janet at one point and she was not wanting to swim. Next time. Her attitude about going to H2O hasn’t improved much but once there she does good things and comes away telling herself she did good so hopefully with some more time and recognizable improvements for her she’ll be more willing to get out the door.

The best part of Janet’s new normal is the relaxing evenings she’s been enjoying. We’ve watched movies, The Voice and of course our beloved Seahawks. Janet looks forward to those couple of hours to be entertained and is far more engaged in what she’s watching than ever before. I will still pause and explain things to her periodically only now she actually gets what I explain and I love her reaction at the end of a good movie or game. It’s totally appropriate to what happened and often includes her patented fist pump.

The fist was pumping tonight after the Christmas Eve service at Trinity. Janet really really enjoyed it, more than any event I’ve taken her to lately minus the Seahawks game. The music was great and the drama portion easy for her to understand and see. We went tonight as we are off to San Diego for eight days tomorrow. Janet is super excited about this trip and the very un-normal Christmas this will be. Stay tuned for pics and other things.

We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and thank you for your love and support. Peace.

Janet, A Success Story. December 10. #TSJ #Independence

Its still too early to nail down any sort of routine for Janet living at home full time. Each week brings different appointments and responsibilities so in that regard Janet has been kept busy in various ways. Since the craziness of her homecoming weekend there hasn’t been a day without something significant going on.

I’ve backed off on taking Janet to H2O as often as I’d like as there is already some resistance developing and I want Janet to want to go. It’s not always fun working out but I hope to get her to the point where she sees the benefit and is willing to go without hesitation. The times we have been have taught us it takes a lot longer for her to go through every element than we thought. If Janet does everything on her list, it’s a good two and half hour outing, which is fine, we just have to figure out how to fit things into the rest of the day.

A friend of ours recently asked if we would meet with the mother of a young lady in KGH who is going through a similar situation that Janet did. Janet was all over the opportunity to share and encourage and has twice been to the young lady’s room to read to her or just hang out. It has been very cool to watch Janet in that hospital room knowing she was there two and a half years ago. She’s handling it very well and wants to go regularly, each time we are there also provides an encounter with someone who cared for Janet back then. She has received lots of “wow, look at you” and “you look great” and “I’m so happy to see you”. So much so that I think she’s actually starting to believe those compliments. Janet laughs each time we meet someone as it happens all over the hospital and she repeatedly comments that “we can’t go anywhere without being recognized”. Celeb.

Continuing in the spirit of sharing and encouraging, Janet went back to Connect today to sing with Debra. She dreaded the drive out there even though she was only visiting. Too many bad memories still. When she arrived though, it was all smiles. We spent a half hour with Debra singing Christmas songs and Debra would like to do it again next week and Janet is happy about that. Singing was an amazing tool for Janet and I can see the benefits to Debra already as she smiled and laughed a lot.

Christmas Sing Along with Janet

Christmas Sing Along with Janet


A major goal for Janet being at home is to be as independent as possible and she took a huge step in that direction today. I’ve left her home alone a few times so far for various lengths of time and with different projects to attempt. Tonight, at her request, she was to make chocolate haystacks while I worked at the church for a few hours. Never before have I even considered leaving Janet to cook anything unattended but she was really wanting to try this, so after dinner, a reading of the recipe and a walkthrough of the procedures, I left. To fill out the time I would be away Janet chose to watch a movie then do her baking. I fully expected a phone call anytime the whole time I was away and was tempted to call her myself but didn’t. When I got home three hours later Janet was standing at the sink with a huge grin on her face washing the pot she’d used for the haystacks. The house smelled like chocolate and a nice collection of tasty treats were cooling on the island.
MMMMM

MMMMM


She did it! She followed the recipe, except for the coconut, operated the cooktop and cleaned up after herself, all by herself! Amazing! So happy!
Success!

Success!


With all that said, things are going well at home so far. Our Christmas vacation to San Diego is approaching and that will become the focus next week I’m sure. Alyssa and I hope to get Janet in the pool Friday as well as find a way to make exercise more fun for her. Praying for Janet’s confidence to keep growing.

Janet, A Success Story. December 2. #TSJ #homecomingpics

That was quite a weekend of celebrating Janet’s homecoming! The house seemed to be buzzing non stop from Thursday night through Monday morning with Janet right in the thick of the action the whole time.

The out of towners arrived Thursday night in time for a visit with Janet at our house. Janet was excited to see Laurel, Heather and my mom, almost as much as she was for the Seahawks victory that night. Her priorities were clear though as she elected to stay home and watch the game while I went to the airport to pick everyone up. Go ‘Hawks!

Friday’s homecoming party was everything Janet had waited for and more. She said she “talked to way more people in one night than ever before”, and she was probably right. I had asked her to try and move around the house as much as possible during the party to prevent her sitting for hours on end. Janet made a great effort at doing so throughout the night but was hindered by always having a gaggle of people around her. It was funny to watch as Janet would sit in one area, a group would gather around her then she’d somehow break away to another area where a different group huddled around her. This went on all night and was exactly the treatment I wanted Janet to have as people showed their love for her. Everyone that came by is a valued member of the team and helped to reinforce how Janet’s hard work has paid off.

Here’s some photos of Janet with our guests. I know I didn’t get everyone but we do sincerely thank you all for being here.

Dr. Miller

Dr. Miller


Wendy and Tim

Wendy and Tim


Barb and Gary

Barb and Gary


Janet F.

Janet F.


Suzanne

Suzanne


Kalsie, Catherine

Kalsie, Catherine


Twyla

Twyla


Heidi

Heidi


Mary Lou

Mary Lou


Kiko

Kiko


Betty and Allan

Betty and Allan


Bonnie and Toly

Bonnie and Toly


Joel

Joel


Brian

Brian


Curtis and Katherine

Curtis and Katherine


Dave and Nicole

Dave and Nicole


Rod and Janice

Rod and Janice


Mom, aka Judy

Mom, aka Judy


Laurel, Heather

Laurel, Heather


Recovery time never really happened until Monday as “party mode” was in effect Saturday and Sunday. Janet bravely agreed to go for Indian food Saturday night, something that is typically way too spicy for her. She quite enjoyed her butter chicken which I’m thrilled about as now we can go for Indian more often. Since we didn’t get to visit much with Barb and Gary on Friday they joined us for dinner Sunday with special guest Heather. There was a booking problem with her flight home that afternoon so she got to stay for dinner which was really nice for us.

There were only a few moments all weekend where Janet was overwhelmed and she corrected her mood quickly and enjoyed everything immensely. There was a lot of walking including some laps around the house coached by Laurel and on Monday Janet never balked at going to H2O for a bike ride. She was tired after her ride and rightly so, it was a good one, especially after hiking up the long flight of stairs to the gym.

Home life has been anything but settled and routine yet and I suspect that won’t change until the new year. We are getting a little better at being in bed at a reasonable hour and getting up at a reasonable hour but there’s still room for improvement.

Praying for Janet to continue adjusting to living at home full time and thanking our Lord and Saviour for all the amazing people He’s placed in our lives.

Janet, A Success Story. November 27. #TSJ

Janet had her first official workout at H2O today. Alyssa had taken her through a routine yesterday to familiarize Janet with the equipment and see what she could do on each piece. The program’s focus is the same as Connect’s with an emphasis on building leg strength and the goal of improving Janet’s walking.

There is no Shuttle machine at H2O so that work will be done on two leg press machines that will be hard for Janet to use as they both pretty much require two legs to work them and Janet’s right leg doesn’t work that way. She’ll give it a try holding out hope that by helping the left leg a little bit the right one might kick into gear more.

The recumbent bike at H2O is way cooler than the one at Connect except for the pedals. This is a recurring problem as every other bike we’ve seen has pedals too small to strap Janet’s right foot onto. Alyssa came up with the idea of putting a band around Janet’s legs to prevent the right one from flailing outward like it wants to. This enables Janet to push harder with her right leg therefore keeping it on the pedal. So far so good and Janet likes the idea of being able to watch tv while riding. Now if there was only anything on worth watching.

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Another new piece of equip for Janet surprisingly is a treadmill. H2O has one with a couple of arm supports that let Janet concentrate on taking nice long steps without worrying about balance. It’s a brilliant idea that I think will really improve the mechanics of Janet’s walking.

IMG_1777.JPG

IMG_1778.JPG
One other surprise from our visits to H2O so far is that Janet hasn’t uttered the words terrible or awful once. She also accepted the challenge of taking the stairs today instead of the elevator and did great both up and down.

The at home routine is improving as Janet is going to bed at Connect type hours and getting up early enough to have productive mornings. There has been only minor complaining about helping out and no thought of using her cane. On Monday we did a Superstore run and Janet pushed the buggy around the entire store with minimal help. She was exhausted afterwards, it’s a big store, but I could tell she felt good about being able to do it. During her nighttime recap of the day she listed that in a very positive way. I like being able to incorporate therapy into daily activities.

Praying that Janet continues to adjust positively to being at home.

Janet, A Success Story. November 19. #TSJ #homesweethome

Nine hundred eighteen days ago Janet suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm that kept her in hospital then a rehab facility until today.
IMG_0448 That was then. August 2012

This is now!

This is now!

Janet is home!

I asked Janet if she was thinking of today as a day of lasts or a day of firsts and she quickly responded lasts. She couldn’t wait to get out of Connect and reminded me throughout the day that we don’t have to do this anymore and don’t have to do that anymore. There were lots of fist pumps, whoo hoo’s and huge smiles. Goodbyes are difficult for me so I was glad that Janet handled those today. I’ll be better at it next week when we go back for a farewell lunch. Janet gave everyone a nice hug and thank you as we departed this afternoon with the only emotion being happiness although she did admit in the car that it was a little sad to say goodbye as “they are good people”. Indeed.

This was not the start of any vacation for Janet, we had an appointment with Alyssa at H2O right after a quick lunch and she put Janet through a little fitness assessment so she can start building a program for her. Janet seems impressed with the facility and likes Alyssa so for the time being it looks like working out there a few times a week will be fine and may even include some pool time. Janet has agreed to try that once.

Tuckered out after the emotion of her last day at Connect followed by the fitness assessment Janet enjoyed a good nap before dinner then we took off for the church and the last SheLife session until the new year. Janet is grateful for the love and support she gets from her table mates and took a lot of compliments about her baptism testimonial tonight. She came away from the evening feeling pretty good and was quick to remind me that we were going home not back to Connect. Deserving of a treat, Janet stayed up a little late to watch The Voice and have some ice cream. Now she is snuggled up in her own bed in her own home ready to begin a new chapter.

Praying for a restful night of sleep and an energetic Thursday.