Janet, A Success Story. April 3. #TSJ

Today was a bit of a roller coaster for Janet, starting with a down hill bit as Jess took her to the lab for another test of her Dilantin levels. They are still low so her doctor has ordered an increase back to the dosage she was on before. There is no obvious reason for the fluctuation and hopefully we can get it stabilized soon so Janet doesn’t have to get stabbed so often. Still going downhill as far as Janet is concerned, she went to the gym for a bike ride. The upper part of her right leg has been sore for a couple days according to Janet so the workouts have been light. She equates it with the stretching session she had earlier in the week and she may be right. If not, it might be off to the doctor, Janet’s favourite thing to do.

I think lunch started a bit of an uphill ride for Janet as she seems to be enjoying everyone’s company around the table and does like the new lady, Angie. When I spoke to Janet on the phone I got a little feeling I was interrupting something she was enjoying and she’d rather be doing that. First time for everything I guess.

The downhill part started again when I arrived and Janet was ringing her pendant to get up from a nap she never had. She was in good spirits and very chatty but you could tell she hadn’t slept and needed to. It wasn’t going to happen though so up she got and I had her walk to the bathroom and back. No real change there although she is using her right leg less now because of the soreness. To avoid more walking Janet asked to help Angie get dinner ready and she eagerly made a salad for everyone. This was the first dinner in a long time where the table was full and Janet enjoyed the banter. Things were looking up.

Facing the prospect of a long walk after dinner Janet elected to practice some hand writing first. Mary Lou has given her a lined workbook to practice individual letters in and Janet can do most, reasonably well. I have no idea how to teach her proper technique so I just point out where she’s consistently good and where she changed the appearance of the same letter and for now that seems fine. Writing seemed to ease her fears of going for a walk and after a little pep talk from Chelsea she set out for the living room and made it a little more than two thirds the way there, over fifty feet, before insisting she was “exhausted”. I believe she could have made it as I saw saw continued improvement in her steps but the drive just wasn’t there tonight.

The roller coaster went downhill fast after that and Janet was sleeping within minutes of hitting the pillow before nine thirty. She couldn’t even get her prayers out she crashed so fast. I’m praying that tonight she enjoys a deep and healing sleep so that tomorrow is a day of nothing but ups.

Janet, A Success Story. April 2. #TSJ

For the first time since Janet moved into Connect there is another lady in the house! We had heard this might be happening and Janet was getting excited about it and when I called her at lunchtime it was the first thing she told me. She said she’s kind of quiet but that’s to be expected first day in.

The female theme continued tonight as another session of SheLife began at Trinity. Janet had a good nap this afternoon and walked from her room to the Den on our way out for dinner. To warm up I had her walk from her bed to the bathroom and back when she woke up. Those trips were a little shaky but the later one down the hall was solid. I timed things wrong as far as Janet’s walking went and so dinner was a little rushed and we arrived at the church just in the knick of time. I had hoped Janet would try and walk to her table from the lobby but she wasn’t interested and we didn’t have time anyways. Janet was at a much higher state of awareness when I met her after the session and she clearly enjoyed being back with her ladies. She was talking with a couple of them as I came to get her and each time I thought there was an opportunity to say let’s go, Janet through out another nugget that kept the conversation going. She was very good and in the car she volunteered that she might try and walk in next week. Yay! I can’t say enough about how positive it is for Janet to participate in SheLife. Her table mates are so supportive and encouraging it really builds Janet up.

Without prompting Janet asked for her meds as soon as we got back to Connect. She’s getting pretty good about this now and probably doesn’t need the reminder on her phone anymore. Brian was working a night shift tonight and stopped by for a chat on his way out. Janet got his name right without assistance and told him she’d like more opportunities to walk so he will consult the staff on that. I’ve been encouraging Janet to ask for walking practice but her nervousness about walking has kept her from taking the initiative. I think the experience at SheLife tonight fired her up enough to ask Brian. Yay again!

Praying that Janet sleeps well tonight and that she maintains a positive attitude and is able to fully participate in tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. April 1. #TSJ

It was all serious business for Janet this morning, no April Fools jokes and a trip to the lab for some routine blood work. It was a good thing she went to the lab as it was learned that the levels for her anti seizure medication are on the low side. Her doctor agreed with my suggestion that we re test before changing the dosage again, so Janet gets to get stabbed again tomorrow.

One thing went in her favour this morning as Tez was not at Connect today so the usual Tuesday hard core workout never happened. Janet did go to the gym and got some stuff done so all was not lost. When I arrived this afternoon Janet was wide awake in bed and looking really tired. She couldn’t sleep and since we were going to a concert tonight I really wanted her to be rested so we just hung out and chatted in her room with me hoping she’d drift off but it never happened. A little happy hour time in the sun seemed to do as much good as a sleep would have and after a little walking session and dinner we took off for the concert.

Janet has never been much of a concert goer but she had a lot of fun at the Levite Summit a few weeks ago and said she’d like to go to a concert so I held her to it. We went to see The City Harmonic at Willow Park Church, a smaller version of Trinity. I had no idea what to expect or how Janet would react. The show was quite good and Janet enjoyed it although it was “really loud”. There were not a lot of sing along songs as this band is not too well known by us but they are excellent musicians and Janet was into it most of the time, especially when a three year old girl was dancing in the aisle beside her and looking at Janet like, “come dance with me”. Big smiles from Janet. Here’s a little clip to give you an idea of how cool Janet is.

We were back at Connect with minutes to spare before curfew and I said goodnight to a smily Janet, praying for a good night of sleep and lots of energy for tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. March 31. #TSJ

When I checked in with Janet around lunchtime she answered her phone on the second attempt and was very bright in talking to me. She reported that Humberto’s brother was visiting and everyone had enjoyed meeting and talking to him this morning. Janet said her bike ride was OK and that was all she had done and she knew that meant work when I arrived. She’s catching on.

Curtis did a little walking with Janet before nap time and when I got to Connect she was ready to get up and enjoy the sunshine before “going to work”. She chose the Shuttle first and did an admirable job with some slight improvement in keeping her right knee close to the left one. Janet of course hated every minute of it but persevered. That was the theme for walking today as well. She finished counting and rolling our jar of pennies before attempting a walk to the living room. That idea turned out to be too ambitious as fifteen feet into the walk Janet was complaining of being exhausted and wanted to quit. Perseverance prevailed however and she made it to the Den which is a little more than half way to the living room and about fifty feet from her bedside starting point. Her sit down onto the couch manoeuvre was one of the most controlled sit downs I’ve ever seen her do. High five!

After another big dinner and a little digestion time it was into the Standing Frame for Janet. I can sure tell when she’s done this exercise when I stretch her legs at the end of the night. They are so much more flexible after getting that good stretch that only the Standing Frame can provide. Another thing that is so good for Janet that she dislikes. She persevered.

When I left Janet last night she was sleeping and I thought headed for a good night. She said she woke up around four and was awake most of the time until Jess got her up. Nap time this afternoon didn’t include much sleep so Janet faded rapidly tonight and I’m actually impressed with what she accomplished considering that lack of rest. Praying for a solid night of sleep tonight and lots of strength and energy for tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. March 30. #TSJ

This morning Janet got the going to the bathroom thing done in the correct order and waited until a reasonable hour to do so. She was in full command of making her breakfast too and is much improved in the peanut butter spreading area.

Today was largely a talk to family day as Janet had Skype sessions with her mom and Leslie and a phone chat with Laurel. That wrapped up a week where she chatted with each of her kids and a few other family types. She seemed pleased in noting that. Her conversations today were outstanding I thought. I hung back and let her go with it each time and only helped her if she was way wrong on an answer or not able to come up with the right word and today that was rare. Both Skype chats were a good half hour long with Janet engaged in conversation the whole time. I’ve set up a Skype account of her own for her and started teaching her to answer her phone for a Skype call, its not as simple as a voice call but I think she can get it with some practice. She’s jedieno if you want to connect with her.

Once again, I had Janet walking around the house as much as possible today and after a bit of a slow start on the first session she really got it going good and improved notably each time. I was most pleased by her willingness to push through the desire to quit a couple of times and I’m seeing signs of a small increase in confidence. Her biggest trips were about forty feet from the dining table to the bathroom with some good strong steps coming from her right leg. Practice practice practice.

We got out into the sun again this afternoon with Janet finally getting to wear a Spring time jacket instead of her winter one. Janet enjoyed going for a walk and not having to walk. I told her not to get used to it as she will be walking outside soon. After another long nap Janet woke up hungry and ate a big dinner before the dreaded trip back to Connect. This time she was in fairly good spirits though, singing a little and talking the rest of the time. She enjoyed me reading The Artisan Soul before falling asleep after a darn good day.

Must be Spring!

Must be Spring!

Praying that Janet wakes in the morning with a positive attitude and the willingness and ability to work hard at all she asked to do. Thanking Jesus for the progress she is making.

Janet, A Success Story. March 29. #TSJ

Janet woke me up early this morning to go to the bathroom. Should have been even earlier though. Nice move anyways. After figuring out that the microwave doesn’t make good toast, we enjoyed a sunny breakfast and got caught up on some emails. I had Janet walking a lot this morning and each time she improved even to the point where she was bringing her right foot slightly ahead of her left one each step.

The sun was out for most of the day and we took the dog for a spin around the neighbourhood. Janet loved the feeling of the warm sun on her face. We could see black clouds off in the distance and sure enough five minutes after Janet went for a nap it got a little ugly out there. Good timing us.

I had visions of Janet walking down the aisle to our seats at church tonight but I think that would be pushing it too far yet. The floor is sloped and we sit near the front which is a long ways from the lobby so it would take awhile. Soon it will happen though. Janet stood for a record long time tonight and totally understood Scott’s message and was quite pleased that she did.

Our evening was sushi and a movie, The Dallas Buyers Club. Janet loved the sushi but is still complaining a little of a sore tummy. She found the movie hard to follow but said it was worth watching.

Praying for an uninterrupted night of healing sleep and continued improvement in Janet’s walking abilities.

Janet, A Success Story. March 28. #TSJ

My phone rang at 10:30 this morning while I was at the grocery store, Janet Dieno, it said on the call display. I’m grateful Janet has her own phone now as the few times she called me from Connect before, it would just say, Connect, and I would be nervous not knowing if it was a fun call or someone calling with bad news. She was laughing as soon as I answered, which made it even better, happy with herself for calling me. Curtis helped her make the call but it was her idea, rooted around her desire to come home for the weekend as soon as possible. Janet said she was all done in the gym and was ready. By the time I got there lunch was done and she had actually packed a shirt and was thinking of what else to bring in case she needed it. She doesn’t need to bring clothes from Connect but I let her continue packing thinking it was good therapy.

Walking was the only thing missed from her exercises today so I had her doing some pretty much as soon as we got home. Janet stood in front of a large mirror to see if she is standing straight and of course this time she was for the most part. She could really see her right leg was bent and skewed to the right though. Hope we can correct that soon. The walking tired her out pretty fast as she continues to be very nervous about it so she accepted a nap suggestion and slept for almost two hours.

We had no plans for tonight so took time to make a nice dinner and Janet did a great job helping. It had been a while since I really put her to work in the kitchen but she remembered where a lot of things were and followed direction nicely. Dinner turned out really well but Janet is still not a hundred percent and was lacking energy the rest of the night. We tried some more walking but Janet made it only about fifteen feet before konking out and it was onto the couch for a couple hours of TV after that.

Praying for a long night of uninterrupted sleep that provides lots of energy and strength for a fun day tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. March 27. #TSJ

Thank you to all of you that sent words of encouragement and praise to Janet after watching the video of her walking yesterday. I read them all to her and can’t overstate the importance of having her hear from others how well she’s doing. Janet is quite nervous about walking with her cane and that makes her less than enthusiastic about doing it so any encouragement thrown her way is valuable.

Jess put her through her paces this morning with the first full workout since getting that stomach flu last weekend. Included in the routine was a walk from the gym to the front desk using only her cane, a distance of about a hundred feet. Because of her nervousness Janet expends a lot more energy doing that than needed so to go that far is really good.

I arrived at Connect just as Janet was finishing lunch and we took off for the day with the first event being a little haircut. Janet is trying to grow her hair out a little so this was a quick trim to keep things in shape. No before and after pictures needed this time. I tried to get Janet to walk from the waiting area to where she’d get her hair cut but she was too chicken to try in public. The need for a nap once at home was not debated but Janet only slept for about a half hour and I was concerned she wouldn’t be at the top of her game for the evening. She managed to walk from our bed to the dining table quite nicely though. She’s doing well enough that my main concern is not of her falling but in trying to help her get her right leg forward enough each step. There still isn’t a huge amount of control over that thing but there is improvement. Janet walked to the bathroom after dinner despite “not feeling well” and was pleased she got to be in her wheelchair as we headed out after that.

The featured activity tonight was a trip to the Kelowna Community Theatre for a screening of a film called The Crash Reel. It is the story of U.S. snowboarder Kevin Pearce who crashed and suffered a brain injury just prior to the 2010 Olympics. It chronicles his life all the way through his remarkable recovery and is designed to give hope to others facing similar challenges. The event started with a talk given by Kelowna’s silver medalist, Kelsey Serwa, and we both found her to be interesting and a well spoken young lady. The film was a little long but very interesting, brought back a lot of memories for me, and Janet’s big take away was “to accept what has happened and make the most of it”. Awesome.

Janet worked hard today especially at walking. She gets quite emotional about it all, thinking she should be doing better. The film we saw tonight helped her visualize how far she’s come and I think it had a real impact on her. Praying for a big night of sleep that allows Janet to fully participate in whatever she’s asked to do tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. March 25. #TSJ

Those of you who have been on this journey with us from the beginning will be familiar with the name Houdieno. It was coined by our soon to be son in law Allan when Janet was doing everything in her power to escape from her hospital bed. She of course was physically unable to do so but was determined to try. This blog site is named in honour of that fighting spirit. Janet continues to work hard and desires to be better in every way. She hasn’t displayed Houdieno like behaviour in quite some time, until today.

I called Janet a couple of times during the day and each time she reported she was not feeling that great and wasn’t doing much. When I arrived at Connect I was seriously considering taking her home until she is rid of this stomach bug. As I discussed things with Jess, Chelsea arrived saying she had just helped Janet get her shoes on and that she was going to go to the bathroom. Janet routinely gets herself from bed to bathroom and out again using her wheelchair. You regular readers will remember I’ve mentioned feeling as though Janet is close to taking an unassisted step but has so far chickened out when asked. I guess she just didn’t want anyone watching because that’s exactly what she tried to do in getting to the bathroom. Janet stood up using the transfer pole, let go of the pole, took what must’ve been a couple of unassisted steps, grabbed the bathroom door for support and lost her balance as it swung open on her. I came into the room and found her laying on her back on the floor kind of upset and kind of laughing saying she hurt herself but not really. Chelsea and Jess responded and we helped Janet up and she confirmed she felt fine. Once sitting in her wheelchair I couldn’t help but high five her! Yes it was dangerous and she could have been hurt but as I asked her later, “how do babies learn to walk?” She said “they try and then fall down”. I had to remind her that they then try again and keep trying but hopefully with a little supervision.

That was an exciting start to my time with Janet today and her willingness to try other things earned her the right to stay at Connect. I didn’t mention the home idea to her. She was still feeling a little sick and had only eaten a piece of toast all day so I was surprised when she accepted the idea of a popsicle. Janet had always given her kids banana popsicles when they were sick and Laurel had suggested it over the weekend. When we got to the store the first thing we saw were banana flavoured popsicles and Janet laughed at the irony. She enjoyed it immensely and it got her started on a reasonably active evening.

Just what Dr. Laurel ordered.

Just what Dr. Laurel ordered.

Exercise has been out of the picture for four days now so I worked Janet pretty hard to get her on the bike for a bit. She agreed to five minutes, I programmed it for twenty and she went fifteen. Well done! That took a lot out of her and she lay down on her bed for half an hour until dinner was ready. I had to kick start her a little bit and once at the table she enjoyed a small portion of pasta and participated in the conversation nicely. She was also showing signs of grumpiness towards me so I know she’s getting better.

After a post dinner rest Janet went upstairs to participate in games night but wasn’t very focused and only answered one question. I did get to watch this time and think its a great concept that needs a little tweaking and with some coaching Janet can do quite well at it. Good for her for going tonight.

That was all the energy she had though and was sound asleep by 9:30 after we read for a little bit. Praying for the end of this stomach virus and continued determination to walk.