cooking

Janet, A Success Story. October 28. #TSJ

The positive momentum continues for Janet. As soon as I got to Connect this afternoon Jess informed me that Janet had a good morning and they had worked her hard. Janet was sitting in the living room having just had her nails painted and she actually agreed or at least didn’t respond with the all too common, “it was terrible”. She knew I was there to take her away for the rest of the day and that contributed to the good mood for sure.

With her baptism fast approaching it was time to meet with Susan from the church to go over Janet’s testimonial and chat about it all. Janet likes Susan and their scheduled twenty minute meeting went at least double that and if Janet didn’t need to go to the bathroom they might still be talking. I sat in for the last ten minutes and Susan said a lot of positive things about Janet that I could tell made an impression. It’s been so good for Janet to meet people like Susan along the way as she buys into their comments more than she does people who’ve known her a long time. Kiko joined us for the walk to the car and also got to witness Janet’s first solo public washroom break. She had been in that washroom at Trinity before so I was confident she could get to where she needed to go and the grab bar is on the left of the toilet which is where Janet needs it. Kiko and I waited outside in case there was any yelling for help but a few short minutes later a smiling Janet reappeared to a couple of high fives. It may not seem like much to some of you but being able to do that completely solo is huge for Janet and a big plus for me too.

We got home in time for Janet to have a much deserved nap before dinner then she did a great job sautéing some veggies for us. The confidence around the cooktop is growing and her cooking skills are improving. I can see her cooking complete meals on her own one day.

Our evening was relaxed after dinner as Janet sang herself through an episode of The Voice before a reasonably positive drive back to Connect. She’s still not happy about being there but with lots to look forward to this week I think she’ll be fine and can put in a couple of good mornings Wednesday and Thursday.

Praying for continued growth in Janet’s confidence and understanding of how she’s recovered so well.

Janet, A Success Story. October 20. #TSJ

Grumpy Janet made a brief appearance this afternoon as she helped out with dinner prep. Apparently its good to help out at home because “that’s for us” but she shouldn’t have to help at Connect “because no one else does”. For some reason Janet thinks Connect is a hotel sometimes but I find the more she actually contributes the better she feels about it. Case in point, tonight, after insulting the smell of Karl’s dinner and pouting about making a salad, the compliments she received about her salad and the great taste of Karl’s dinner flipped her mood entirely. Janet admits she gets grumpy sometimes and doesn’t know why and it was interesting to see others at the table not admit to getting grumpy when we all know they do. Janet was praised for her honesty and used that to motivate her to put in a little walking practice later on.

Fear of “speed” is still holding Janet back but I watched her walk down the hall freestyle tonight at a very good clip for her so maybe things are starting to change. I pulled her to the gym quite quickly, then we learned that neither of us can do a proper sit up, so we quickly went back to her room. Her other walking adventures tonight were done while clinging onto whatever was nearby and Janet for sure does that more when she’s tired.

The bulk of her free time tonight was spent writing. Me typing, her dictating. Janet is now able to string four or five words together and with help staying on track with a particular thought she can actually tell a decent story. I’m seriously considering having her contribute to this blog once she’s home full time. She’s not totally opposed to the idea. Janet has decided to get baptized November 15th and tonight’s project was to write a testimonial that she will record to a video that could be played during a service or two. With some prodding along the way I think she ended up with a very good draft tonight and it’s nice to read something that is mostly her words.

Praying for a great night of sleep that brings lots of energy and confidence for Tuesday.

Janet, A Success Story. September 24. #TSJ

I picked Janet up today just as she was finishing her lunch and brought her home for the afternoon as we were going to the church this evening. Janet’s morning had been pretty routine and she was as eager as ever to get out of Connect.

To take advantage of our time at home and before she got too tired I asked Janet to get a pot of water boiling on the cooktop to see if she could do it without coaching. If I was grading her out of ten I’d give her an eight on this attempt. I’m not quite ready to give her credit for achieving that goal yet, she’d need a ten out of ten, but expect to this weekend. Next up was a 400 meter walk and although she did it, the speed is still slow and the nervousness continues to control Janet. I’m really pleased she agreed to do it and she didn’t argue about being cane-less in the house either. In fact she was also wheelchair-less for this entire outing. Pretty cool.

The coolness continued when we got to the church. The event was a Small Group info night and we hoped to recruit a few people into ours. Instead, it turned into a bit of a SheLife reunion for Janet as most of her table mates were there and hadn’t seen her all summer. Nor had they seen her walking around on her own. Very cool. SheLife starts again next week so this was a good teaser for Janet in what’s to come.

Back at Connect we got to meet the newest resident in Janet’s house, Brad, who just arrived from West Vancouver a few minutes ahead of us. Seems like a nice guy with a good support team around him. Should liven up the dinner table nicely.

Praying that Janet has a sound night of sleep and has lots of confidence to work hard tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. September 22. #TSJ

This Monday went quite well for Janet. Chelsea kept her very busy during the morning, exercising in the gym, walking all over Connect including up the stairs, and even making lunch. When Janet called me she didn’t complain about stuff like she often does, she did acknowledge a mistake with making lunch that she laughed about. Instead of pouring soup into a saucepan to warm it up she dumped it into a steamer pot, the part with the holes, you know what happened next. Thankfully Janet was laughing and she even seemed pleased with her physical therapies, at least pleased they were over with.

Chelsea had just finished painting Janet’s nails when I arrived on the scene. I could tell it would be an early night as Janet hadn’t napped and was not considering it then either. Knowing she’d done a lot already I let her set the pace for the run up to dinner. She checked her email, I read a newspaper column to her, she read The Hallo- Wiener to me then she walked cane free to the kitchen to set the table and grate some cheese. Her reading today was pretty good especially the first and last thirds of the book. There was a lot of ad libbing in the middle for some reason. Janet resisted the idea of walking cane free but was happy to help in the kitchen which was a nice change. Her reward was some time in the sun before dinner.

After a good after dinner walk up the stairs and through the hallways all Janet wanted to do was watch the football game. Thankfully Jess and Karl hung out with us for a while so there was good conversation to be had. As much as I love Janet’s interest in football, this game meant nothing to either of us and I don’t want her relying on TV to get her through her free time. We talked about things to do in the evening when Janet comes home and she agreed with Jess’s suggestion of a cooking or baking class once a week and Karl suggested getting involved as a Big Brother and Big Sister to spend some time out in the community with a kid. Good ideas and if any of you have other suggestions we are all ears, and eyes.

Janet enjoyed an extended phone call from Cam tonight that made her laugh and gave her a nice boost of energy and a lift of confidence before walking off to get her meds. She’s gaining more and more independence with her nighttime routine but doesn’t seem too motivated by it. We talked about Janet trying the Handydart to go from Connect to SheLife or to her Dr. Miller appointment at KGH. I know she could do it but she was very resistant to the idea tonight and didn’t buy into the argument for doing things on her own. We’ll keep working on it.

Praying that Janet rests well tonight and dismisses her fear of working with Tez so she can try her best at whatever she’s asked to do.

Janet, A Success Story. September 21. #TSJ

For a weekend with nothing much scheduled, it sure was busy, or at least seemed so.

Janet’s weekend was cane free. She is doing well enough without it that we even left it at home when we went to church Saturday night. There is still a fair amount of grabbing onto furniture and walls when possible, especially when Janet is tired. At her best she will go quite a distance completely free. Speaking of distance, I decided to push Janet this weekend with her 400 meter walk. I haven’t noticed much improvement in her speed and there is still a lot of complaining about being exhausted 200 meters in, so to try and increase her conditioning and to keep her walk interesting, I challenged Janet to do a complete lap of the complex. That worked out to 560 meters on Saturday which was completed in 32 minutes. Janet held my hand the whole way but I did not pull her along at all. Today the lap measured out at 510 meters and lasted 27 minutes. A nice little improvement. I’m not sure this is the right plan of attack and will hopefully consult Tez this week. At least it was something different to do on a nice sunny day and Janet knows now she can walk around the whole neighbourhood. High Five!

The one scheduled event was a visit Saturday morning from Janet’s former pre school boss, Carolyn. One of Janet’s “get out of Connect” goals is to read The Hallo-Wiener to a pre school class and we wanted to meet with Carolyn so she could get an idea of how Janet is doing and make sure its appropriate for Janet to pursue this goal. Carolyn was impressed with Janet’s reading skills and how well Janet is doing overall despite the read not being anywhere near Janet’s best. She was nervous all morning before the visit even to the point that her mom sensed something was wrong during their Skype chat. Janet passed the test though and is scheduled to appear at Carolyn’s pre school October 24th.

One goal may have been achieved this weekend and is awaiting Brian’s approval. To test Janet on the operation of the cooktop I asked Janet to make me a grilled cheese sandwich Saturday afternoon. I recorded it so we can show Brian and he can assess Janet on it. Janet still needs some prompting as to which buttons to press so I’m thinking she may need one more weekend of practice. Same goes with the laundry. We are still developing a good system for Janet to be able to load and unload the washer and drier but she’s learning the controls quite quickly. It could be a double gold medal weekend coming up.

We spent as much time out in the sun as possible this weekend as the forecast shows this to be the last of the sun tanning weather for the year. That included watching the first half of the Seahawks game outside today but I wasn’t able to convince Janet to go for a swim. It was more than warm enough and would have been fun to do on the first day of Fall but she was only interested in the game. Not that that’s a bad thing.

This was a weekend that saw Janet moving around the house and helping out more than ever before and I’m happy she is willing to do so. Her confidence is growing in household activities, we need to foster that same growth in her walking and she’ll be all set.

Praying for a deep and restful sleep and a productive and happy week.

Janet, A Success Story. July 24. #TSJ

Janet and I met with her team at Connect early this morning and found it to be a productive time. Everyone is supportive of the idea of Janet setting goals to reach before leaving Connect as opposed to choosing a specific date and there was good discussion around what to set as goals in each area. The outcome is as follows;

– Walking- Janet wants to walk “like a regular person”. When asked to define that she said “being able to walk without standing there not knowing what to do”. Tez will use the 6 Minute Walking Test to measure Janet’s progress. The low end of “normal” for that test is 700 meters in 6 minutes. Today Janet did 27 meters. She likely will be tested a couple more times before setting a specific target to reach before leaving Connect.Tez recommends Janet use her cane to gain speed and confidence in walking. She is reluctant but was encouraged to hear that its a temporary thing. Janet used the cane for her last two walking trips at home tonight and although it didn’t speed her up she felt OK with using it.
– Steps- Janet would like to be able to climb and descend three steps on her own using only a handrail. Tez agreed she can likely do that very soon and will have the staff take Janet on the stairs at Connect next week.
– Reading- Janet wants to be able to read to three and four year olds with expression. Mary Lou says she’s making good progress and that is an achievable goal.
– Writing- Brian and I would like to see Janet be able to write her name, address and phone number on a form and be able to leave hand-written notes for people. Janet sees the value in that and will work with Mary Lou to get there.
– Home Chores- Janet would like to be able to load and operate the washer, drier and dishwasher as well as be able to operate the cooktop. Brian will come to the house one day soon to assess Janet and coach her on how to improve with those tasks.
– Toileting- Janet would like to be independent in her toileting routine. The staff have been training Janet and will coach me so I can help Janet at home.

Like I said, it was a productive meeting. The day only got better as Janet was able to come home for the weekend before lunch. We took advantage of the cool weather to stop and get Janet a couple new bathing suits and I think we did pretty well. You may see them this weekend. Janet napped while I went to the grocery store with the list she helped create then in the spirit of going after those goals I put Janet to work. We pitted two pounds of cherries for freezing, she pulled the stems off all of them and pitted some. She ordered quesadillas for dinner and chopped peppers, onion and mushrooms then built each quesadilla for us. After dinner she rinsed the dishes while I washed. She did all of this with no wheelchair in sight and standing for some of it.

Our neighbour, Bonnie came over for a post dinner glass of wine and a chat. She told us she had just baked three cherry pies and Janet got all excited saying that is her favourite pie. It must have been from her childhood because I don’t remember liking pie at all. Bonnie kindly agreed to bake one more. Smooth move Janet.

I’m looking forward to a fun weekend of involving Janet in as many household tasks as possible and walking a lot. Praying for an uninterrupted night of sleep and giving thanks for all we have been blessed with.

Janet, A Success Story. July 20. #TSJ

You know its’ been hot when you think 28 degrees is cool. That’s what it was this afternoon as Janet and I strolled the beaches in our neighbourhood. We discovered this really cool ramp into the water, with hand rails, at Rotary Beach, so now I just have to convince Janet to “jump” in the lake. Wish me luck.

This past weekend was very relaxing and Janet and I had a lot of time together just hanging out. Friday evening was our Small Group meeting with Annie and Patrick, the only two that have persevered with us and we appreciate them for their openness and willingness to share. Saturday morning was a visit with John, who seems to be doing a little better, then church in the evening which got Janet’s brain wheels spinning and we had a good discussion well into the evening.

That was it for formal events, the rest of the time was spent walking around the neighbourhood, sitting in the sun, walking to do some errands, cooking and watching a little TV. Janet walked around the house a lot and is still doing great with it save for some overthinking when going down the steps into the garage. Going up seems to be much more automatic. She admits to being quite nervous walking still and that makes it more difficult and sweaty. Janet never was much of a sweater but she sure can get it going now when she’s walking on her own.

At home Janet does great in getting herself to the bathroom when she needs to, which is quite often lately. When we are out, she’s not doing so well and I think it’s time for a doctor visit to see what can be done. I don’t expect the GP to have much to offer but I hope we can get a referral to a urologist. In my opinion its definitely a neurological issue, not physical so it may be really tough to treat. It could also just be a temporary set back and that’s what I’m hoping for.

One of the highlights of the weekend was watching the movie Forrest Gump. I don’t know why, but neither of us remembers watching the whole movie before and we so enjoyed it. Janet said there wasn’t a dull moment in the entire film and she was in tears at the end. A strange reaction to liking a movie but touching just the same. Its a lot of fun and actually very special to be able to watch something like that and have Janet totally understand the storyline and get most of the jokes and even remember some of it the next day. Love her.

Praying for a solid night of sleep for Janet and a dry and productive Monday.

Janet, A Success Story. July 13. #TSJ Heat

Janet and I had a good weekend, mostly very positive with one lingering negative that I hope we can resolve soon.

We are in the midst of a heat wave here, 40C today, and not even Janet is complaining about the A/C being on. I still can’t convince her to go swimming though, she’s hung up on not being able to walk “like a regular person” and looking “weird”. Next weekend, if we have time, I’m just going to tell her we’re going and see what happens.

Friday, we spent most of our time getting ready for our dinner guests. Janet insisted on making a carrot cake for dessert and I agreed as long as she helped. Her confidence and abilities in the kitchen continue to increase and this cake turned out better than the first one. Heidi and Jack joined us for a very nice evening of conversation and food. Janet was engaged the whole time and was a huge help in getting everything ready. That seemed to make the evening even more special for her but begin able to host two people that have been a huge support from day one was cool. Thanks for being you, Heidi and Jack.

Saturday had us visiting John just before his lunchtime. Janet remembered he wanted us to bring him a “double double” from Tim Horton’s so we did and boy was he happy about that! I’m glad we could cheer him up. Church was the one negative of the weekend, not the service at all, but the “accident” Janet had with three minutes left. I was mad because she gave me the old “I didn’t want to leave in the middle of the sermon” excuse and I don’t know how to get her to stop thinking that something else is more important than going to the bathroom. A work in progress. We turned things back to the positive side after we got home by walking down to Gyro Beach for a picnic dinner then a walk along the lakefront before getting home for ice cream. Being out at the beach at 9 o’clock at night in 30C weather is why we moved here. Love it.

Today was a little extreme, I’ll have to admit. 40C, even Janet was sweating a little, but still loving it. After Skype chats with Brittney and Leslie I dropped Janet off at Wendy and Tim’s house where a bridal shower was being held for a family friend, Amy. Janet was excited to attend as I guess she likes hanging out with other women and I’m glad she got the chance.

Nora, Janet, Amy

Nora, Janet, Amy


She told me after that she spoke a little to the group and “everyone was really nice to me”. The relationships that Janet is building within our community are helping her rehab a lot. We are blessed.

With the heat and lack of time for a nap, Janet was pretty tired heading into dinner time but still managed to help and did a good chunk of her help standing at the Island. After the prep work was done Janet mustered enough energy to Skype with Andrew and they seemed to enjoy talking tennis.

I sometimes get a little discouraged and frustrated with the pace of Janet’s recovery but I can look back on this weekend and see notable improvements like her being able to stand and work at the Island. Her walking around the house was slower but she did way more of it and never complained or asked for help once. Her stair work is greatly improved and we went on our first outside walk together. Janet walked holding my hand for five houses away from ours before we turned around and walked back. I can remember back in the KGH days saying to her I wanted to go for walks with her again. It’s starting!

Praying for a cool night of sleep for us all and that Janet has lots of energy and a positive attitude for the week ahead.

Janet, A Success Story. May 29. #TSJ

Janet is getting too smart for me. As we returned from an evening walk outside she remembered it was time for her meds and as we passed the med room, Chelsea was in it, and got her meds for her, so Janet got out of her last freestyle walking trip of the day. I’m happy she remembered the meds without prompting and am OK without the walk as she had done a lot today as it was.

Earlier in the day Janet had worked with a student, Sara, whom she obviously liked because she introduced me as we walked down the hall to go do dinner prep. Janet rarely remembers to introduce me to anyone and almost always forgets their name, not this time. Lasagne was on the menu tonight and Janet did a great job helping Chelsea with it. By far her best cheese grating and veggie chopping she’s done yet. Getting stronger.

In the spirit of getting stronger Janet agreed to a Shuttle session before dinner to complete her daily physio work. I wasn’t expecting much after walking her all the way to the gym but to finish off her session she pushed a set with the most weight ever for her. High five!

Since the physical part of her day was done we spent the evening on cognitive stuff again. Counting and rolling quarters first, which showed me that Janet’s math skills and her dexterity are not lacking in any way. I wanted her to practice some writing and we looked at the daily schedule she had written out this morning. It was definitely not her best effort and she couldn’t even read most of it tonight. Her explanation was that she was eating breakfast and was called away to go and write it out so she didn’t want to do it. Looked like it too.

The book we are reading, Unbreak My Heart, is much more Janet’s style and she is enjoying it so far, even giving me a good summary before reading tonight. Its nice to hear her laugh and comment as I read instead of snore. Praying for a solid night of sleep for Janet that prepares her well for a fun weekend.

Janet, A Success Story. April 27. #TSJ

A much better sleep for Janet last night so I’m at a loss as to how to explain her grumpiness that started the day. Every suggestion I made as to what to do was answered with “it doesn’t matter” or “I don’t care”. Not what I want to hear on a bright Sunday morning. It didn’t last long though and we headed out to get some ingredients for tonight’s dinner and some wine for our wine club gathering this Friday. To our dismay, two of the wineries we went to were closed. Oh well, we enjoyed the sunny drive by the lake.

Janet was warned she’d be helping in the kitchen today and she stepped up nicely. We made a lasagne for tonight as Courtney was coming over. Janet did well at chopping, stirring and assembling. She then had two pieces of corn on the cob for lunch. I thought it was weird to just have corn but she loved it. Before the lasagne was completely built Janet was fading so she went for a nap and woke up an hour and a half later in disbelief that she’d been out that long. That’s what happens when you sleep, time flies.

Courtney agreed to be camera operator so we could show you Janet’s new walking style as well as a bit of free walking. It’s hard to get a good angle on her as you never know when she’s going to agree to try but there is a pretty good look in this clip.

Janet remains unsure of the whole thing but very sure she doesn’t “want to be that person that can’t walk”. She is walking and will do so better each week.

We enjoyed visiting with Courtney this evening and the lasagne that Janet helped make turned out pretty good. I think having some company for the evening made the trip back to Connect more bearable as there was lots to talk about and Janet was in a happy mood. I had her walk more in the hallway there but she refused to free walk with Karl watching. Not sure why. Reading didn’t last long as the walk tired her out I think.

Praying Janet has a deep and healing sleep, a positive attitude and willingness to fully participate in whatever she’s asked to do tomorrow.