On a high after her speech last night Janet had a good day today. Her morning consisted of a routine visit to the gym and some speech therapy work on her own. When I checked in at lunchtime she was waiting for lunch and not sure what she ought to do the rest of the day. I suggested walking or Shuttle which of course failed to excite her. When I got to Connect I noticed the large tilt table being used in the living room and went to sneak up on Big Country and say “hi shorty” but to my surprise, a real shorty was in it, Janet.
Not happy but standing tall.
Tez figured she may as well try it in an effort to get more weight transferring through her right leg and it appeared to be working. Janet was in it for forty five minutes like the Standing Frame and after a little coaxing simply stepped off and sat in her wheelchair. Much easier than the other machine. She had walked from her room to the Den and gave her usual rating of “terrible” to that experience but I’m sure she did fine.
Even though we weren’t staying for dinner, Janet agreed to help Curtis prepare it as he was by himself and running a little behind schedule and Thursdays are Janet’s days to help. She did a great job chopping peppers and onions for a stir fry.
We made our escape after that and enjoyed a simple but tasty meal at home during which I read all the messages people sent in regards to her speech from last night. Janet is amazed and genuinely pleased that so many people liked it. She was definitely a more confident person today, even willing to try some red wine with dinner and liking it. Nice!
Her confidence and good mood lasted through the evening and Janet had a nice walk from the dining table to the couch before laughing and singing her way through The Voice. It’s awesome to have her home and I’m praying for a positive and productive weekend.
Janet had a good start to today, waking with lots of energy after a good long sleep. She managed her own breakfast this morning and was quite chatty and excited about the day ahead. Our neighbour, Bonnie, came over to watch the Olympic figure skating with Janet as she had been in Mexico during the games. Janet enjoyed watching a speeded up version of what she’d already seen and was able to remember some of the performances. It was an awful lot of skating to filter through in a couple of hours but nice to visit and watch with Bonnie.
I got Janet up and walking a little before and after lunch. She complained of soreness in her left leg which I can only attribute to her over using it. We had a good long talk about that and I also had Janet stand in front of a large mirror so she could see how crooked she stands even though she thinks she’s straight. Her steps were good today but her confidence level remains the same, lowish. If Janet believed she could use her right leg more she would. Anyone know a good sports psychology book? Janet relates to sports and might be inspired by something along those lines.
After scanning a few pictures and a quick nap it was time to bake our cannelloni and watch the Oscars. Both were a little disappointing on my end and Janet agreed with me on the cannelloni but enjoyed the Oscars. That was a lot of TV watching today, something I hope we don’t repeat too often. We had the most wintery drive of the season back to Connect tonight and had time to do a little reading. We are through eleven chapters of Long Walk to Freedom and I think that’s it for Janet. It is too dry a read for her so I am looking for suggestions. Something personal, quick paced and funny.
Praying that Janet has lots of energy tomorrow and a willingness to work hard at whatever she’s asked to do.
As I drove to Connect this afternoon I was trying to analyze Janet’s progress lately. I was having trouble remembering any recent milestones or notable changes and was a little concerned. Janet proved me wrong within minutes of my arrival. She had been “sleeping” for almost an hour so I went in and of course she was wide awake and wanting to get up. In the spirit of promoting independence I stood back and let her go. Not only did she get to a sitting position quickly she motioned as if to get up and walk over to get her sandals. Confirming thats what she wanted to do I told her to go ahead. With a push from her left arm on the bed and a lean forward over her knees, she stood up without using the stripper pole! I had heard of this happening but never witnessed it until today. Janet was very happy with herself for doing that but upset she couldn’t walk to get her sandals. One thing at a time. The independence continued in the bathroom with Janet soloing in brake application, foot rest removal, standing and sitting etc. The only help she needed was in pulling down and then up her pants. Its kind of fun to observe and coach as opposed to aiding all the time and I can tell Janet is gaining confidence in doing these things.
Jess and I talked a little about Janet’s independence and she mentioned how she had caught Janet wheeled up to her desk looking at her Speech workbook all on her own. Janet had done the same today with the book we are reading saying she tried reading by herself but couldn’t make sense of it. Her “just get it done” attitude towards the gym continues and she did a great job on the Shuttle and had a good stretch with Curtis. With a few minutes to wait for dinner we read some Not a Fan and Janet continues to be intrigued by it and we had a good discussion about what we’ve read.
The dinner table was lively thanks to Kieran and Janet was cooperative in getting into the Standing Frame afterwards. I’ve noticed the last couple of days being able to get Janet really straight and her tolerance has increased. Usually as Botox wears off her tolerance diminishes too but not now it seems. Maybe we’re making some progress on those hamstrings?
We hadn’t played any iPad games for a while and since it was thunder storming outside I decided to see what she could do. Was I surprised! Janet has improved so much in naming pictures of things and in her math skills I could hardly believe it and I could see the confidence in her face as she answered question after question. She still needs a verbal clue for a lot of the pictures but she used to need every clue possible. With the math games she was almost perfect and was great at tapping and dragging on the iPad as well. Fun!
The evening ended with some YouTube laughs and Janet doing a very independent bedtime routine. I feel blessed to have hung out with her today and pray for continued progress.
Janet was hard at work in the gym when I arrived this afternoon. This was Simon’s first day working with her and he was getting some good results. Garrett had Janet in the gym in the morning to do a good stretching routine and now she was back for a more active workout session. Simon had her doing some leg exercises then Tez came in and helped get Janet onto her tummy for a hamstring stretch and some more on command leg movements. Then came the big test. Yesterday Tez had Janet kneeling on her own a little bit so he was going to try that again. With Garrett watching her back, Tez lifted Janet to a sort of push up position on her way to kneeling. We noticed how strongly Janet was pushing with her left arm so Tez decided to try and have her do a push up. The tears started immediately and Tez let her down a little and Janet responded by pushing part way up. You couldn’t call it a push up but there was an effort there for sure. On her knees the tears were still flowing as they would for the rest of the workout. Undeterred and knowing the tears were a lack of confidence rather than pain, Tez and Garrett gradually let go of Janet until she was kneeling completely on her own. She was able to lift her head and straighten her back so she was up nice and tall. Very impressive and according to Tez, much improved over yesterday. Simon held out some colored pieces of paper an arms length away from Janet and she was able to reach out, grab them and pass them off to me on her left side. Major high five! She cried each time she did it but again, not from pain. At least that’s what she told us. Finally sitting on the edge of the table mat, Janet could relax a little. But not for long. I had told Tez I was doing mainly standing transfers with Janet and he wanted to see her stand as he was surprised to hear she was “stepping” with her left leg. Considering how tired Janet was she stood really well with me, impressing Tez enough that he pulled out a couple of scales and placed them under each of her feet and asked her to stand again to see how much weight she was carrying herself. The left leg registered about forty five pounds and the right leg not quite half that. Pretty darn good and more than Tez thought she could do. One final task for Janet was to transfer herself from the table mat to her wheelchair using the sliding board. Janet didn’t understand how to get onto the board but once she was there it was an easy slide onto the chair. Visibly relieved, her gym day was over and she wheeled her way out and left me chatting with Simon and Tez.
I found Janet in her room ready for a bio break. Success. Our before dinner activity was reading a card and looking at some photos that Gillian had sent us as a thank you from her wedding. Janet surprised me by reading a fair number of the hand written words in the card and a little of the inscriptions on the backs of the photos. When she first started reading I noticed she was only reading the first two or three words on each line so I had her follow along with her finger and she was able to go seven or eight words before losing focus. She did a good job of identifying people in the photos, even Gillian’s husband Josh, whom she’s never met. There’s that improved short term memory again.
Dinner was a fail tonight. Beef stew which I knew would be a challenge and I tried to convince her she liked all the ingredients. No go. I rescued her with half a peanut butter sandwich and a bowl of pears. She is looking forward to making pizza at home tomorrow.
Back in her room it was time for a birthday Skype with Laurel. Janet very loudly and clearly sang Happy Birthday to her right off the top of the call and carried on a good conversation for almost half an hour. Janet is no longer rambling on about nothing. When she does ramble it’s because she is stuck on a word and she is clearly trying really hard to say something constructive. She is even getting mad at herself a little now when she can’t find the right word. So far it is all with a smile on her face. Speaking of smiles, there was another noticeable improvement today. Since very near the beginning of all this I have been randomly trying to tickle Janet, notably at her armpits where she used to be quite sensitive. Up until this evening I had gotten no response. Someone taught Janet to raise her left arm when she is coughing to help her cough bigger. She was doing that tonight and I tried to tickle her and got an immediate pull away reaction with her telling me “stop that, it…” she couldn’t find the word but agreed with tickles. Not sure of the significance but I’m taking it as a positive.
Janet did most of her bedtime prep herself and before I was half way through our prayer I felt her hand relax and she was asleep. Quite the day. Janet is showing signs of improvement in a lot of areas and I think gained some confidence the last couple of days. Praying for a restful and healing night and a fun day of learning before heading home for the weekend tomorrow.