update

The Team Save Janet Report is Out. #TSJ # Nanaimo # blueberries #roadtrip

Day two of our Nanaimo blueberry roadtrip began after a decent nights’ sleep despite the never ending squawking of seagulls. Janet was nice and bright and looking forward to the day.

The blueberry farm is south of Nanaimo in an area called Yellowpoint and is home to some of the oldest blueberry bushes in the province. We arrived around 10:30 and got right to work. Our family friends, Wendy, Tove and Neils Nielsen were recruited by my mom to help us out. Good thing too, as by noon we (they) had picked 47.5 pounds of blueberries!

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Janet did a great job picking, getting nearly a bucketful in the time we were there.

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She had a little trouble in the quality control department and surprisingly I had to remind her occasionally she was allowed to eat a few as she picked. Overall I think it was a great experience for Janet as no one was watching over her shoulder while she did something. She was on her own with me checking for quality and quantity once in a while.

The group decided to go for lunch at Cherry Point Estate Wines, a winery in Cobble Hill. It was well worth the drive as we enjoyed a nice meal, conversation and sunshine together. Can’t say I’d recommend the wine we had with lunch (Pinot Gris) but their Sparkling Rose was quite good. The food was good and very nicely presented. This was Janet’s salad and yes the flower is edible.

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After being out in the sun most of the day, Janet welcomed a little rest time when we got back to mom’s. that recharged her for a long walk around the neighborhood where we saw up close, two young eagles and two bunny rabbits along with lots of very expensive motor yachts from the USA. Janet and I tried to convince mom to go for dinner on the docks where we’ve heard the fish tacos are amazing but seniority ruled and we enjoyed a nice home cooked meal. My cousin Brent and his partner Kaj dropped in for a visit all the way from Port Alberni. Super nice to see them and we were reminded of how good the Alberni crew is. Hope to see the rest of you soon.

Tomorrow is sail away day and the drive back to Kelowna to start freezing blueberries. Praying for a solid rest tonight and a safe, enjoyable journey home.

The Team Save Janet Report is Out. #phonecalls #cleaninghouse #chicago

Well here we are again, one week after the last update, so much for my plan to be more prolific with this.

In a lot of ways this was a fairly quiet week for Janet. No weddings, no road trips, no huge signs of progress that warranted an immediate blog update. When I look back at my notes though, its clear it was a good week.

Janet continues to show massive improvement in her cognitive abilities, especially with short term memory. She more frequently knows my name now although this week I’ve been Dennis, Bert, Julie, Ralph and Ted but mostly Larry. When asked now, I see Janet thinking before speaking rather than blurting out the first thing that pops into her head. A few times she’s even said “I forget” instead of calling me something she knows is wrong. We can now talk about events that took place in the morning with Janet able to describe a little bit about them and if the event was big enough she can even talk about something a day or two before hand. Her memory is not yet filing things in chronological order as evidenced by an emotional outburst one day when she thought for sure Laurel and or Heather were to be visiting her. She was so sure of it she called Laurel and me wondering why no one was there with her. She wasn’t able to reach Laurel but the call to me consisted of lots of tears of confusion and frustration. On the flip side, when asked what she wanted to do one morning, she remembered without prompting that she wanted to reply to an email sent from her friend Annette a couple days earlier. For some reason, probably old memory, Janet insisted on hand writing a letter so I gave her a blank greeting card and a pen and left her to it. Twenty minutes later she’d managed a decent note. I could read about a third of the words she wrote which is really good considering I couldn’t read much more of Janet’s writing even before she got sick. Janet has always had a strong sense of commitment and loyalty and so the obligation to reply stuck with her. She’s not great at filling a page yet but always has a good idea of what she wants to say and is improving her typing skills each time. I’ve noticed her vision is better the more awake she is and have noticed that applies to me too. The glasses are on now.

Janet was a big help in getting our house and yard cleaned up for a showing this past Saturday. For the first time she was able to vacuum on carpet and did a great job dusting some areas down for us. A sense of purpose is huge for Janet and I love seeing her eagerness to help with projects like that. Lorne had her vacuuming the living room at Connect this morning and said Janet had a smile on her face the whole time. I wish there was more I could get her to do. Yard work is great as long as Janet can reach what she’s to be working on and unfortunately most of our weeds don’t grow that tall. During the showing we went for a long walk along a route we hadn’t taken since Janet got sick. She remembered a lot of it and loved looking at all the nice homes. Nash was having trouble with the heat and distance and Janet was quite concerned about him. Thankfully he drank water from the lid of her water bottle and that comforted Janet. The thought of selling our house is dominating our time together and Janet both enjoys thinking of what the next house will be like and is somewhat reluctant to see the current one go. She’s very astute at recognizing how it doesn’t make sense to stay here much longer. My body thanks her for that.

Janet’s reading skills are improving as well. Laurel and Raj sent a thank you note following their wedding and Janet read most of it to me unassisted. I could especially understand the parts she read without crying. She’s had some real emotional moments lately, I think from a greater awareness of her situation. I sense a little bit of her feeling she needs to contribute more or be able to do more for her family and doesn’t fully understand the kids are all grown up and out doing their own thing. A few times when driving home and I ask her what she wants to do she’ll respond with “whatever everyone else is doing”. She doesn’t get upset when I tell her its just her and me but for a moment I think she was back in time and there were kids living with us. Janet is living more and more in the present though and confirmed that today when I allowed her to answer a stupid call from her bank. They asked why she hadn’t reviewed her banking needs with them for over a year and if something had happened to cause that. She told them flat out, ” something big happened with my health”. The guy on the other end heard that and repeated it but couldn’t deduce that maybe that was why he had been having trouble hearing Janet for the duration of the call. She was conversing very well with him just not very loudly. Hopefully it was enough to prevent another call.

The gym remains Janet’s nemesis and best tool at the same time. Her strength is gaining noticeably, especially on the Shuttle. Garret suggested a slightly different position for Janet’s legs on the Shuttle and it allows for a much longer extension, now up to thirteen inches, and Janet is able to push more weight too. She absolutely hates the Standing Frame but I think has resigned to knowing she’s got two sessions a day in it and as long as she feels she’s in control of how long she in it for she’s ok. There hasn’t been a lot of swimming lately but what Janet’s done has been good. The hot tub continues to be a happy place for her and the time when I get the best stretch of her legs and right arm. Noticing some nice improvement in her right shoulder and the Botox is working well with her finger flexors. We went to see Julie at the hand clinic for a follow up visit and she was surprised at how nicely Janet’s hand is doing. Julie did not expect to be able to adjust the splint yet but with Janet tolerating it well and her hand being nice and open, she was able to mold the splint to allow an even more relaxed position for Janet’s hand and said we don’t need to come back to see her unless something is wrong. Good news.

Team Save Janet has expanded into the Windy City!

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Thanks Brenda for carrying the colors there and if anyone else has a picture wearing your gear in a far away place I’d love to see them.

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Praying for Janet to keep getting stronger, especially her right leg. Praying for restoration of the use of her right arm and hand and complete restoration of her vision. Thanking our Lord and Savior for the healing he has brought and for all of you who continue to pray and support Janet and I.

Important Announcement. #TSJ

After a full year of daily updates (sometimes multiple updates a day) on Janet’s progress I am switching to a once a week format.

Janet continues to make progress and I have high hopes for the future. I think you can all appreciate from what you’ve been reading lately that most days are pretty routine and somewhat repetitive. Therefore blog updates will be published every Wednesday evening and as events warrant.

I will Tweet on a daily basis, with pictures and video, so if you wish to stay in touch up to the minute, follow me at @larrylatour In fairness to my Facebook friends, Twitter updates will no longer be posted to my Facebook account so my newsfeed will be much cleaner.

Those of you reading updates via email only will still receive the weekly updates and any special posts but will have to follow me on Twitter if you want more.

I thank you all for your continued support and hope this new format provides you a more interesting read.

Gourmet Puréed #TSJ

When I got to Connect this afternoon I asked Janet how her day was so far. She was happy to report that she “got up this morning”, had a smoothy for breakfast and did not go to the gym. I thought that was pretty good reporting on her part. Turns out she did go to the gym but shortly after arriving a new resident with some behavioral issues came in and disrupted things enough that Janet started crying so Garrett took her back to the “house”. She had some Speech therapy before Rikki made her a colorful lunch of green beans, carrots, cottage cheese and pork. I was surprised to hear about the cottage cheese as Janet had thought it pretty disgusting at KGH but apparently lapped it up today.

Our chat took place in the living room while waiting for Brian to come and meet with us. We talked to him in detail about the wheelchair and now have a plan in place to get Janet’s chair set up ideally for her so I can actually buy the darn thing. Brian offered a few accessories intended to make Janet’s day to day routine easier. Most of them I found to be too compensating and Brian agreed that we need to have Janet learning and re-learning to do things rather than having something do it for her. One useful item is a short easel that sits on top of her desk at an adjustable angle and allows a book or the iPad to be positioned in a more useful way for her. Some of the items were food related and we agreed to leave food prep out of Janet’s itinerary until she is cleared to eat real food. That brought up the question of the swallow X-ray. Connie had emailed today saying KGH has yet to receive the doctor’s order. I phoned her the doctor’s office right away and was told she had some things to do to it before sending it off. Translation, she forgot about it. Grrrr. We had a good long talk with Brian and Janet was very patient throughout and near the end she went off to explore the living room a little. She returned with a pillow on her lap so I invited her to a pillow fight. She thought that was great.

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Janet went for a shower before dinner and we hung out in her room for the few minutes we had before heading down to eat. Rikki made another colorful plate for Janet, carrots, mashed potatoes with a little yam in them, cottage cheese and chicken. The best looking meal Janet has had at Connect and apparently a tasty one too.

Since Janet missed out on the gym this morning I took her in for some leg stretching and got her on the Shuttle as well. I wasn’t able to set it up as well as Tez had it but Janet still got a decent go at it. She was reluctant to try standing so I tricked her a little bit into doing a standing pivot off the Shuttle. She did really well once I got her started towards standing.

Bob was leading a bunch of the residents in a poker game tonight and Janet enjoyed watching for a little while. She didn’t understand the game of course but liked the loud action. She also really enjoyed watching some YouTube before bed and after being tucked in agreed that today was a good day.

Praying for rest and healing and a productive day tomorrow with positive news about the swallow X-ray.

Month Eight #TSJ

Day 246 was a good one for Janet. Lorne and Garrett worked with her this morning in the gym and with some Speech. She didn’t fall out of bed or her wheelchair and ate well. When I arrived she was waiting in the living room to go back to the gym with Tez. The guys were updating Janet’s chart and agreed that she needs to be on a regular toileting program. I talked to nurse Jen about that later on and she will develop a routine so Janet gets plenty of opportunities to go to the bathroom. Today was much better in that regard. Lorne and Garrett also started making up a bunch of side dishes for Janet to eat so she gets more vegetables and then the only thing that needs to be cooked at meal time is the protein. Food has been a challenge and will continue to be until Janet passes that swallow X-ray. No word yet as to when she gets a chance but the word has been put out to Connie to see what’s happening.

Janet failed the “who am I” test again but caught on quicker today for sure. We played an expanded version of it at bedtime and she did really well naming family members except her own kids. Usually she nails those easily but tonight it was everyone but. Still waiting for Tez we played a naming game on the iPad and Janet did reasonably well after getting two or three clues. She definitely knows things once she sees the word the problem is in pulling that word out of her memory bank on its own.

Tez was finally ready for Janet around three o’clock and he worked her pretty hard again. This was another training opportunity for the staff and Tez wanted to add some more hand, arm and shoulder exercises so there is a solid routine for those in the mornings and one for legs later in the day. Janet’s right arm continues to be nice and loose and Tez got some good range from it and even though Janet cried you could see improvement from last week. Tez got Janet to hold her right hand with her left and intertwine her fingers then lift her arms up high. Janet was straining hard to touch Tez’s hand about a foot and a half above her chest but she did it!

Getting Janet on her tummy was a challenge today as she was pretty worn out from the arm workout she had. Tez only kept her there long enough to get her doing some pushing back with her legs as he applied resistance. From there we got Janet on her knees again and she really seemed thrilled once she got there. It took a tremendous effort on her part as Tez had everyone back off on supporting her so she was doing almost all of it herself. Excellent effort.

The next stage in transferring for Janet is going to be using a circular pivot board that Janet will stand on, spin, then sit. We tried it a couple times and its still really hard for Janet to do on a regular basis but will be incorporated into her workout.

Finally Janet got to try the Shuttle Machine. This is a piece of equipment I noticed as something Janet could maybe use when we first toured Connect. As you can see from the video she caught on real fast. Using this regularly will really help Janet build some strength in her legs.

After all that it was time for a bathroom break followed by a Skype session with Mary/Gaga and Keith. Janet was able to converse reasonably well and I think enjoyed the chance to see and talk to them both. Dinner was a massive bowl of puréed spaghetti and meat sauce. It looked disgusting but Janet gobbled it up then enjoyed a desert of “yummy” pears.

It is truly amazing to think back eight months and see just how much progress Janet has made. Seeing her “kneeling” and “standing”, working on that Shuttle Machine, talking, laughing and eating well is truly a blessing. Thank you Lord for every minute I get to spend with her and for the healing you are bringing to her. Thanks to all of you for the prayers, love and support. #Team Save Janet

Mixed Monday #TSJ

Janet’s day started strong with a good breakfast followed by a full body workout in the gym with Danielle. Her right arm and shoulder continue to loosen and her legs continue to be pretty tight. Garrett took Janet to the clinic for a blood test to measure the level of Dilatin in her so Janet got to go out today as well. When I got in Janet was watching TV in the living room. I gave her the “who am I” quiz and she failed miserably calling me everything but Larry. She only clued in after she got her name right but she did name all her kids correctly and I think that’s the first time she’s done that without assistance. We played match the Sesame Street characters and Janet did better than yesterday but you could see her struggling near the end. Lunch was a bowl of soup and some canned peaches, unauthorized apparently but no one was watching. I left for a while after lunch to finish selling Cam’s car and Janet was going to hang out in the living room with some of the others until I got back.

While I was away Janet decided she wanted to sit on the couch so without any assistance she proceeded to do so. Of course she missed the couch and ended up on the floor. Danielle said she was fine, a little scared but mostly smiling. She tried again later but Bob was watching this time and prevented her from getting too far. I like the determination.

I came back to find her watching TV again so we had a little chat about her couch surfing and she seemed to get the fact she needs help. The staff of Connect had planned a fire drill for this afternoon so we all had to go to our respective rooms and wait for that to happen. The alarm is quite loud and annoying but it was good to see them all go through the exercise and from what I saw they have a pretty good plan in place should a real fire occur. I took Janet for a little leg stretch n the gym before dinner and managed a decent result. Once again she doubted her ability to stand then proceeded to do quite well at it. Didn’t quite have the stamina today but still a strong effort. She was very hungry at dinner, eating a massive bowl of left over chicken and rice from Suzanne that I brought in just in case. Bob was making a stir fry but it would have to be pureed so he let me feed her the chicken and rice without him looking. Cool.

We had a nice Skype session with Laurel after dinner in which Janet was very loud and clear although sometimes speaking nonsense and other times completely off topic. She must have used all her energy during that conversation because thirty minutes later she was pretty much asleep and it was only 8:15. I don’t remember a more rapid decent into sleep mode. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised considering she had no rest time this afternoon at all and was pretty active all day.

Today was not a good bathroom day for Janet. She often asked me if she could go but it was always too late by the time she asked and she seemed to pee a lot today. Each time I’ve had her standing she had peed as well but this time she actually said she had to go just as she finished her second stand. Hopefully today was a blip but I will attempt to set up a proper schedule for the staff to toilet her in the future.

Praying for a restful night and readiness for an active day tomorrow.

Blue Sunday #TSJ

I got a really nice surprise when I arrived at Connect this morning. Bridgette from Janet’s 4B days was working in Janet’s house for the day and she and Garrett had Janet up early, fed her breakfast and had her to the gym. All by 9:30. Janet was all smiles as she was heading to the bathroom with Bridgette when I got there and it was apparent that they were getting along despite Janet telling me later she didn’t remember her. Janet was able to present Bridgette with a happy face lollypop on our way out and that may have contributed to Janet’s laundry being done and put away when we got back tonight. Or maybe it was just Bridgette being the good nurse she is.

By the time we got home the Seahawks were down 10-0 so we quickly got our jerseys and as many other blue things we could find on to try and start a comeback. They did indeed come back but couldn’t close it out. I’m excited for next year as this young team learned a lot in those two playoff games. Janet watched quite a bit of the game but she needs a lot of coaching to understand whats going on. She ate a football game sized lunch of soup, grilled cheese, dill pickle, chips and a bowl of fresh fruit. I managed to give her a little leg stretch before we Skyped Leslie. Her legs seemed rather tight today but she still has good movement in both and made a decent attempt at standing from the edge of our bed. During the call with Leslie, Janet was having a little trouble being loud and expressing her own thoughts but it was a decent conversation with Janet calling it off as she was getting tired. Nice to see her recognizing that and doing something about it. Now if she would only agree to an afternoon rest time.

We played match the Sesame Street characters a couple of times with Janet struggling with anything on her right and really struggling with the game in general the second time around. I need to give her a break in between. Spelling Bee Bingo was next and although we tied both games Janet really doesn’t understand this game yet and her vision is an issue as well. Dinner was in the football theme again for Janet. Two bowls of a casserole Suzanne gave us along with a bunch of fresh veggies then banana bread followed closely by hot cinnamon bread freshly baked by our awesome neighbor Barb.

A pretty good day despite the Seahawks loss. Janet seemed content to be home and judging by the amount she ate today must be feeling pretty good. I am noticing a little more difficulty in stringing together proper words to form sentences. She seems to be using a little more Klingon these days or words that have nothing to do with what she’s talking about. When Kiko and Joel dropped by this evening Janet’s response to a question from Kiko was to repeat what Kiko had asked her. She has been like that when she is tired but I think I’m seeing it more often now. Could still be recovering from the seizures or it could be the drugs or it could be me looking for the effects of both those. Time will tell.

Praying for rest and healing and a productive day of recovery tomorrow.