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.
For a Monday, and after her melt down last night, Janet was in a great mood today. Chelsea had her in the gym this morning where I think they did more talking than anything else but Janet enjoyed it. She was happy the whole time I was with her today as well, except for the few seconds I had her walking really fast and during her stair climbing stint.
I tried really hard to let Janet choose her activities today and that always seems to produce a better effort from her. Climbing the stairs was quick and speed walking was great with very little resistance. She can do it. Janet chose to work on her SheLife assignment tonight as well and enjoyed the reading and discussion that resulted. It’s fun when we can incorporate things like that into therapy.
It was a pretty casual day around Connect, you’d think it was a holiday or something. There were no major dinner plans and only four residents to feed so Janet happily made grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone. She stood at the counter and stove for a good twenty minutes assembling and cooking the sandwiches. No complaining about it and she did some awesome flipping too.
Praying for a good night of sleep and the confidence to work hard tomorrow.
The big “Fun Day” Connect had planned for today was cancelled at the last minute as Interior Health issued an air quality advisory due to a lot of smoke in the area. There are a number of forest fires burning in the province and we’ve had smoky skies for a few days but no fires in the Kelowna area until this afternoon.
Fire across the lake to the west of us.
Janet and I clearly could see this one on the other side of the lake from us as it started during our drive home. As I write, over 2500 homes have been evacuated and Janet and I have offered the spare room we have to anyone that may need it.
Janet was not at all upset with the cancellation of Fun Day and thought she might be able to come home sooner but I convinced her to stay and get her exercises done and Garrett said she did great at all of them. When we got home we took the dog for a walk and that must’ve convinced Janet it was hot enough to go swimming because she accepted my suggestion with no argument. It also helped that we met Bonnie on her way to the pool and Janet always feels more confident when friends are around. Getting into and out of the pool was OK, a couple of slips but that’s why I’m there. After the initial shock of the 30 degree water Janet got comfortable and swam really well both on her back and tummy. I’m the one that needs to regain confidence so that she can swim more freely.
First time in the pool!
Initially we left the AFO and water shoes on but I think next time we’ll go without to prevent the slipping and make it easier to swim. Janet really enjoyed the swim and it set her up for a nice cool nap before dinner.
Our evening was quiet as we monitored the fire situation and watched So You Think You Can Dance. Both of our contestants are safe and Janet’s continues to be a stand out.
Praying for a safe night for those in the fire zone and for restful sleep for Janet leading to a productive Friday.
After shoveling my way out of our driveway and avoiding all the stupid people on the highway I arrived at Connect just as Janet was returning from the gym with Marlisa. She complained that her arm hurt and that she cried during their stretching session but she was telling me all this with a smile on her face so I played it down and Marlisa didn’t seem too concerned. I then got Janet ready for the trip to the doctor with plans to go home after that as there was nothing planned for her at Connect and I didn’t want to be on the road if I didn’t have to be.
We made it to the doctor’s office right on time and waited just long enough for the snow to melt off of Janet’s wheelchair onto the office floor. That’s what they get for doing a crappy shoveling job. Our chat with Dr. Wiese was pleasant and she complimented Janet a lot on how good she looks and how well she’s done so far in her recovery. The doctor did seem to be up to speed on Janet’s situation and did not hesitate to order the swallowing X-ray and wants to see Janet once a month now to keep tabs on her. Janet said to me afterwards that she had no idea that was the doctor she just talked to but she was nice. That’s all that matters I guess.
At home it was lunchtime and Janet had a nice big bowl of tomato soup. Seemed to suit the day well. I also let her have some crackers and cheese just to keep the rebelliousness going. I went out and shoveled more snow after lunch and Janet spent that time exploring the house and getting herself stuck in our bedroom doorway. She thought it was pretty funny and couldn’t tell me why she had even gone down there as she said she was cold but it’s way colder in our room than the family room where I left her. She played with Nash for the rest of the time I was shoveling then we played the Sesame Street Memory game. Actually we played our own version of it as there was some setting up to do so I had Janet match all the character cards as we detached them from their holders. She did really well with everything on her left and struggled a lot with anything to the right.
A little later on we played a game of Spelling Bee Bingo and Janet beat me easily even yelling out BINGO when she got her last letter. I cued her but it was still cute. Joel and Kiko stopped by for a visit complete with a very yummy casserole and massive dessert. It was nice to sit and chat with them in our home as opposed to a hospital room. I just wish we could get Janet talking louder and more.
Janet ate another rather huge dinner and I carried her out to the car for the ride back to Connect. Praying for a restful and healing night and an active day of learning tomorrow.
A better start to the day for Janet than yesterday. She had two eggs for breakfast and then a nice shower and was all smiles as I met her coming out of the shower.
The gym was busy so we cut our visit there short and headed out for the day. First stop was Toys R Us to see if we could find some board games to play together. Chutes and Ladders was an obvious first choice and the Dora the Explorer version made it even more exciting. We also found a memory card game with a Sesame Street theme and a Spelling Bee Bingo game that looks like fun. All these games in theory will be good brain exercise for Janet and all in different ways. I’m glad we found some to try but was disappointed with Toys R Us. Quite the dump, reminded me of Zellers.
Despite the snow we held to our plan of doing a little house hunting and went downtown to cruise by some of the potential buildings. On the way we noticed there was a realtor in at the Remax Kelowna office so we stopped in. That franchise is owned by Cliff and Barb from KGH Rehab so I felt OK going in there knowing we are just kicking tires right now. The agent on duty was very nice and has already emailed me a list of potential properties for us so I guess the game is on.
At home it was time for lunch and Janet was all excited to try her first grilled cheese sandwich. I made sure it was toasted really well as Connie has mentioned bread is a big no no. Janet really enjoyed the sandwich and accompanying dill pickle and surprisingly added some potato chips to her plate. Never would have done that before. We watched a little football before Skypeing Leslie. Janet wasn’t too loud but did OK considering it had already been a busy day and she had not had a quiet time. She did have a bit of a rest after the chat with Leslie as I gave her a little stretch.
Since we are breaking all the food rules I decided to go for broke and have Janet and I make our own pizzas tonight. It was really fun helping her build hers and she devoured it faster than she would have before. I even let her have a glass of Pepsi with the pizza but she actually did not like it and was adamant there was “booze” in it. The little of it that she did drink she handled just fine as she did all the other food she ate today. My confidence is high for her swallowing X-ray.
Janet faded pretty rapidly after dinner so I quickly shoveled a path to the car and we went back to Connect and got her into bed. Another solid day filled with firsts. Praying for a restful and healing night and a productive day tomorrow.
Today was a bit of a test for me and Janet. I elected to stay home this morning and get some domestic stuff done and also to see how Janet and the Connect staff would handle things. Both Mary Lou and Tez have provided the staff with instructions as to what they need to have Janet do so I was curious to see how that all would go down. I told Janet last night that I would see her after lunch and she said she thought she could handle that. I had lots to do at home so despite my constant wonder of how Janet was doing I was not tempted to go in earlier than planned.
I arrived just after 1:30 and Janet was in her room listening to music, “waiting for you”. She was in a really positive and chatty mood and I saw no signs of her being too stressed or bored. She gave me a run down of her day which she thought was “terrible” but clearly by what she told me it was not. I went to get Lorne’s take on the day so far and he agreed with Janet on the getting up and refusing to eat breakfast part and the going to the gym then having lunch. Janet could not remember Christi’s name as the one who spent some time in her room writing and reading with her but she did remember someone had come in to do that. Lorne told me he toileted Janet after she asked to go. He left her in the bathroom with instructions to push the button on the call pendant if she needed help and walked down the hall about fifteen meters. His phone rang and it was Janet already. She had peed and was ready to get out of the bathroom. A first time successful call for help!
When I got back to Janet’s room after talking to Lorne, Janet was smiling at me kind of mischievously. I looked closer and could see she had something in her mouth. Turned out to be a candy from the bowl I left on her dresser. We used them as nurse bait at KGH but I haven’t told the staff at Connect about them yet. Janet was able to reach the bowl and help herself. I told her Connie would consider that a big no no and her smile got even bigger. As we talked Janet’s words got more and more scrambled and then she said “if I don’t rest it’s harder for me to talk and think”. Finally! She still didn’t want to lay down despite realizing it’s good for her but I offered to join her so she agreed. This time I think she actually slept for fifteen or twenty minutes and after an hour and a bit of quiet time she was noticeably brighter and we went to the gym for a pre-dinner stretch.
Dinner was a challenge as the staff won’t and can’t allow anything other than pureed. I offered Janet a choice of a few things and she chose the left over pasta I brought in despite my warning it would be mushed up. She ate maybe half of it as it’s no where near as good pureed. I plan on having her home for lunch and dinner tomorrow and Sunday so will feed her well then. The staff are aware of the challenge and everyone is hoping Connie will up the diet after the swallow X-ray. While I was watering her after dinner I remembered the Tootsie Rolls in her room. I offered her one and she was all over that idea. That was the first one she was “allowed” to eat without the chewing cloth. She really enjoyed it.
I encouraged Janet to stay out in the living area after dinner and we played a game of Monopoly Deal. First time for both of us and she beat me. We then watched America’s Funniest Videos and Janet actually laughed at some of them. We agreed that most videos were just of really stupid people. That took us to bedtime and the promise of a busy day tomorrow. Praying for a restful and healing night and thanking Jesus for the progress made so far.
Janet surprised me this morning by greeting me with a huge smile as she sat in the living room at Connect watching CNN. She said she had a good breakfast and was having a good morning so far. In anticipation of the appearance of Tez the Physio Therapist, we headed down to her room and had a little chat and played a math game on the iPad. Janet impressed me with her recognition of patterns and grouping from smallest to largest. I realized we forgot to weigh Janet yesterday so I asked Garrett if we could do that. Janet has gained again so I think it’s safe to say we are done with tube feeds. Next step is to get her drinking water well enough to get rid of the peg tube altogether.
Mary Lou dropped by to see if Janet had any time for a little Speech session. I left them at Janet’s newly installed desk and chair and when I returned a half hour later they both had big smiles on their faces and gave an encore performance of a vocal exercise they had just done. Janet was nice and loud and clear and was very much enjoying the singing aspect of this session. I will try and get music therapy man in soon as Mary Lou thinks that would be really good for Janet.
It was clear by this time that Tez was not going to appear before lunch so we headed to the kitchen and I blended and heated some vegetable soup for Janet. It was actually pretty good and she ate all but a few spoons full. We got word that Tez would appear between 1:30 and 2:00 so we hung out in Janet’s room for a while reading and talking. To speed the arrival of Tez I put Janet on the toilet and like magic he appeared. All I had heard about Tez before was he was an Aussie. Usually I know what that means and I was looking forward to ribbing him about being the last therapist to see Janet and being late today etc. He’s not your stereotypical Aussie and although I think I will eventually be able to give him the gears today was not the day as he was all business.
As the lone PT at Connect it is Tez’s job to create programs for all the residents there. This afternoon was his chance to see what Janet can do and can’t do and figure out what to work on to help her recover the most physically. He came in with pretty much a blank slate, not relying on Janet’s chart and only using a few key things that Moira had passed on to him. Since Janet had just gotten out of the bathroom and was sitting on the edge of the bed it was the perfect opportunity to watch her transfer using the sliding board. We then went down to the gym with Garret and Lorne in tow and Janet transferred onto the table mat. Tez talked to her for quite awhile about what she felt she could do, what she liked to do prior, what she wanted to be able to do and about a wide range of other things. I was very impressed with Janet’s responses to his questions and her engagement in the conversation. I only had to correct her a couple times and elaborate on a few things otherwise she handled it all remarkable well. It was then time for the let’s see what you can do test and after a thorough workout, sometimes painful, Tez said “your going to be fun to work with” and “I usually put together a program pretty quick for people but I’m going to give yours some long thought”. He seems truly intrigued by Janet’s case and I think sees quite a bit of potential for her. His short term goals are to protect the functionality she has now and start building strength in her legs and arms. Long term will be discussed at the coaches meeting next Thursday but likely will be similar to Brian’s. Independent transfers and walking short distances, maybe some use of that right arm. It was a very interesting session and a tough workout for Janet at times but she realizes the importance of it and I think will respond well to whatever program Tez comes up with.
We finished in the gym just after three and I decided to bring Janet home for the rest of the day. She enjoyed playing with Nash again and is getting really good at telling him what she wants him to do. He is learning to put the ball on the floor where she can reach it so they actually can have some decent play time. We sat by the fire and watch the start of the Fiesta Bowl and Janet remembered she was cheering for the Oregon Ducks as soon as I reminded her of their nickname. Dinner was a bowl of pasta and meat sauce which Janet ate with gusto. Ice cream followed and then after helping me fold laundry she had another dessert, one of Laurel’s Turtle Squares.
Bob and Chris were watching the game in the living room when we got back to Connect and Janet wanted to stay and watch with them for a bit. We stayed until the end of the third quarter then got ready for bed. Another busy day for Janet and I asked her to recap it for me before I said goodnight. She was able to tell me most of what she did in chronological order with a few names different than reality. Breakfast was lunch, our home was Ontario and her room was Bolivia. That’s still the best recap I’ve had from her and she is no longer giving the automatic “terrible”, or “nothing” answer to my questions. Nice.
Praying for a restful night and a productive day tomorrow.