marriage

A Sunny Christmas. January 2. #TSJ

Happy New Year everybody! We hope you all had a merry Christmas. Ours was spent in sunny California with family doing mostly untraditional Christmas things. Since this is a new year and the start of a new season for Janet and I, we are going to change up this blog a little. I would like Janet to contribute more to the content so, each time she will be invited to either write, dictate or do a video report on the highlights of recent events. Either way the narrative will be more from her voice than mine. For this one, Janet is going to dictate her account of our Christmas vacation, you’ll see that at the bottom of the page.

Our flight to San Diego went through Seattle and since Janet uses a wheelchair in airports we received VIP treatment the whole way. We were met at Sea-Tac by a young man named Jama, who personally escorted us through Customs, helped us claim and re check our bags, got us through Security then took us on three train rides to our connecting flight. If it wasn’t for him knowing exactly where to go and getting us to the front of each line, we wouldn’t have made our connection. Big props to Alaska Airlines and a company called Bags for providing exemplary service. Janet travelled very well, even managing the five steps up and down for the little plane from Kelowna. She made only one trip to the bathroom on the flight to San Diego and managed most of it herself. Another couple of flights and as long as the ride is smooth she’ll be able to toilet solo.

The focus of the trip was to spend time with Andrew, Laurel, Raj, Heather, Allan, Cam and Gina as much as possible. The first five nights were spent at a rented house that turned out to be a poor choice for Janet. It was a little small, cold and dark with too many different floor types and a bathroom that was configured such that she needed assistance every time she went. The shower was not usable for her either so by the time we got to our hotel for the last four nights even Janet never argued about taking a shower. We tried not to schedule too many activities in favour of building each day as it came. Janet had maybe three naps the entire trip and was a willing participant for most things each day.

The big thing on everyone’s list was the San Diego Zoo so that’s where we spent Christmas Day. Janet loved the monkeys the most and even braved the skyride over the park. The wheelchair we rented for the trip was adequate and we could not have done without it. We were limited a little as far as start times for each day as Janet takes a fair bit of time getting dressed, fed and toileted and I stress a little about taking Janet out before she’s had a good chance at the bathroom. We missed a trip to La Jolla with the kids one morning based on that but ended up walking around Balboa Park for a few hours which was really nice. Everywhere we went on this trip we saw people with dogs and Janet couldn’t get over it. There was a Dog Wash close to our house and we saw many dogs on restaurant patios as well. If it wasn’t for the flight, Nash could have joined us.

Sunshine was abundant but the temperatures colder than anticipated. Janet never got into shorts and usually had a light sweater on too. She enjoyed the sunshine at the beaches but the breeze was cool enough to keep her from basking in the sun as she likes to. She was scared to walk on the sand but actually did very well when she tried and if it wasn’t for a one meter drop that split the beach in two Janet could’ve made it to the water in Carlsbad. Not that it was warm enough to swim in but it would’ve been fun to have her dip her toes into. Next time.

Janet ate well during the trip and there was lots to eat. That seemed to be the focus a lot of the days and provided some of the more memorable moments too. We all had a fun dinner with Cam’s fiancĂ©, Gina’s, parents one night as they braved a lot of traffic to drive from Costa Mesa to meet us. Janet seemed happy with every meal and especially liked the sushi and fish tacos.

All in all it was a fun way to spend Christmas and Janet and I hope to do it again with some modifications. Here’s her report on it all. Until next time,

In Janet’s words;

We went to the zoo and it was fun, although long. I spent a lot of time with Andrew and I don’t usually get to. It was good. I had lots of time to spend with my kids. The weather was good except for the end when it got cold. I didn’t need my bathing suit. The food was good, it was fresh and I had shrimp tacos that were really good. At the house we stayed at we hung out on the patio one night with a fire and it was fun even though it was cold. Balboa Park was pretty and it was big and it was nice to be out in the sun. We stayed to watch the sunset one time and it was pretty. It was fun being with my kids the whole time.

Christmas PJs. Cam, Raj, Janet, Andrew, Allan, Laurel, Heather.

Christmas PJs. Cam, Raj, Janet, Andrew, Allan, Laurel, Heather.

Heather and Janet on  the Zoo SkyRide.

Heather and Janet on the Zoo SkyRide.

A tropical Christmas portrait.

A tropical Christmas portrait.

California living?

California living?

Enjoying the sun at Balboa Park.

Enjoying the sun at Balboa Park.

On the beach at Coronado Resort.

On the beach at Coronado Resort.

Janet walked that pathway from those rocks behind her. Nice place to exercise. Carlsbad Beach.

Janet walked that pathway from those rocks behind her. Nice place to exercise. Carlsbad Beach.

Walking around in sunny Carlsbad.

Walking around in sunny Carlsbad.

Looks warmer than it was.

Looks warmer than it was.

Worth waiting for.

Worth waiting for.

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.

Janet, A Success Story. November 18. #TSJ

Homeward Bound!

This morning, Janet successfully picked up Garrett’s phone from the floor thereby earning herself an early exit from Connect. Tomorrow Janet is moving home!

Needless to say she is very excited, as am I, and most of our time together today was spent getting ready for her departure. Brian stopped by right after nap time and Janet attempted to show him her picking up technique but wasn’t quite able to get it so she will make another attempt in the morning at making it official. The result won’t affect her coming home as that’s already been awarded to her so there’s no pressure.

While we were packing we had a surprise visit from our friend John. He finally got into the care facility he was hoping for just down the road from Connect and seems really happy about it. His move plays into Janet’s plan to help Debra with her Speech quite well as now we can come out and visit John at the same time. Janet asked Debra this morning if she’d like to do a little singing with her and she though that was a great idea. I don’t think Janet will want to start going back to Connect for that too soon but she is quite excited about helping Debra out.

Earlier in the day Tez had Janet do two six minute walking tests. The first one was using her cane and Janet went 95 meters. The second was freestyle and Janet made it 101 meters that time. She is very pleased to have made it over a hundred and that is a nice result to take to H2O for the next phase of her physio therapy.

Packing her stuff and removing decorations from Janet’s room was a bigger project than anticipated but she was very happy to help and excitedly told Heather on the phone that everything was off the walls. She did a great job separating things and even managed to donate a couple of items instead of throwing them out.

We studied a little of Janet’s SheLife materiel before Games Night where Janet engaged more than usual knowing this was her last one. When I mentioned that it will be hard for me to say goodbye to the staff Janet instructed me to “just go, bye bye” waving your hand as you say it. I know she appreciates them all and will say proper thank you’s soon but all Janet can see right now is getting out of there. As I said goodnight tonight she was like a little kid on Christmas Eve, super excited that it was her last sleep there, so much so, I’m not sure if she’ll actually sleep.

Tomorrow is the day we’ve long been working for and Janet deserves it to be happening now. I pray that she rests well tonight and enjoys her last visit to the Connect gym in the morning and that her homecoming is as special as she believes it will be.

Janet, A Success Story. November 17. #TSJ

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.