Just Likes Riding a Bike. #TSJ

It’s been a fairly busy time since our last post. We have started attending a weekly seminar called Living With Stroke put on by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and lead by a former nurse and a stroke survivor. Each week focuses on a different aspect of post stroke life and attendees share their experiences with the group. So far it’s been quite positive and Janet has been willing to share when appropriate and is enjoying the conversation. This week’s session was on Physio Therapy and I thought Janet would have been all over that topic but I had to prod her to say something a couple times. The last two years of her life have been focused on physio so maybe she’s fed up talking about it. Understandable. One of the other attendees lives right around the corner from us so we’ve been giving her a ride during which she has shared a lot of her story and that has intrigued Janet and I think made her feel a little better about herself. It’s always good to be reminded that she’s not the only one out there.

That seminar is every Tuesday morning and Janet usually manages a trip to H2O every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning plus has SheLife Wednesday evenings so you can see how her weeks are pretty full. The outings to H2O are becoming more challenging to make happen. Partly because of the gloomy weather we’ve been having here and partly because it’s a whole lot of effort to get out the door then get changed then get wet and do it all again in reverse with Janet not really seeing the benefit and not having any fun unless there are some well behaved little kids in the pool with us. I’m seeing improvements in her walking, her left foot now comes more forward each step than previous. Janet doesn’t see that however and is complaining more and more about going. I’ve shortened the workout to just walking in the river as I think that has the biggest benefit to her followed by a stretch in the hot tub. Janet is now walking on her own both with and against the current as long as it’s not flowing too quickly.

Working out in the pool has its benefits for sure but the fun factor seems to have worn off and Janet is noticeably missing the cardio workout she got on the bike at Connect. We happened across a decent exercise bike for the house the other day and Janet has willingly ridden it a few times now. She can watch TV or listen to a podcast or music while she’s riding and best of all she doesn’t have to leave the house to do it. We plan on consulting with Alyssa at H2O next week and may shift the workout priority to the bike and reduce the visits to H2O. I don’t think its fair to keep pushing Janet to do stuff she doesn’t want to do.

Pedalling with Ellen and J Lo.

Pedalling with Ellen and J Lo.

Socially Janet is doing well getting reacquainted with the ladies at SheLife and we were blessed with an invitation to dinner at our neighbour’s house tonight. Janet contributed well to the conversation and is showing more signs of an improving memory. She bettered me today when we were talking with Debra at Connect. Debra has a tough time talking and was struggling to answer my question as to when her move out date is. In frustration she drew something in the air that Janet immediately recognized as the number 15 and knew Debra meant she’s going home February 15th. The air writing didn’t register with me at all and Janet is still laughing about that tonight.

Janet, A Success Story. December 13. #TSJ

Yesterday was the big day for Janet’s first venture into the pool at H2O and she was not looking forward to it at all. Her memories of pools are completely associated with cold and having to “work”. I promised her this time that if its not warm or fun she wouldn’t have to go again. Alyssa reinforced the fun aspect as soon as she saw Janet and thankfully there had yet to be any hint of cold.

The focus of pool work this time is to increase Janet’s ability to walk so the entire session was spent in the wave/kiddie pool, waves off of course and the water nice and warm. Janet entered without a wetsuit by walking down a ramp then out to about chest depth. Alyssa led her through a series of exercises that had Janet walking forwards, backwards and sideways, concluding with Janet stepping up and down with a pool noodle under her foot to provide some resistance. Janet was last in a pool in August and was unable to keep her right foot on the bottom even for a few seconds. Yesterday she was pushing that noodle down strong and never for a moment had any trouble getting her right foot down. Even Alyssa was impressed and happily took Janet over to the hot tub for some stretching to finish things off.

Things went so well in the pool that Alyssa recommended switching that to the primary activity for Janet now. Water therapy worked well before and she believes it can again. Janet is up for it and is happy to not have the leg presses or treadmill in her life anymore. Those weren’t fun or very effective. Janet will continue to ride the bike now and then.

The pool experience was a very pleasant surprise and set Janet up nicely for exercise being fun again. She enjoyed the water, was warm enough and really likes Alyssa. Praying for the fun to continue.

Janet, A Success Story. December 10. #TSJ #Independence

Its still too early to nail down any sort of routine for Janet living at home full time. Each week brings different appointments and responsibilities so in that regard Janet has been kept busy in various ways. Since the craziness of her homecoming weekend there hasn’t been a day without something significant going on.

I’ve backed off on taking Janet to H2O as often as I’d like as there is already some resistance developing and I want Janet to want to go. It’s not always fun working out but I hope to get her to the point where she sees the benefit and is willing to go without hesitation. The times we have been have taught us it takes a lot longer for her to go through every element than we thought. If Janet does everything on her list, it’s a good two and half hour outing, which is fine, we just have to figure out how to fit things into the rest of the day.

A friend of ours recently asked if we would meet with the mother of a young lady in KGH who is going through a similar situation that Janet did. Janet was all over the opportunity to share and encourage and has twice been to the young lady’s room to read to her or just hang out. It has been very cool to watch Janet in that hospital room knowing she was there two and a half years ago. She’s handling it very well and wants to go regularly, each time we are there also provides an encounter with someone who cared for Janet back then. She has received lots of “wow, look at you” and “you look great” and “I’m so happy to see you”. So much so that I think she’s actually starting to believe those compliments. Janet laughs each time we meet someone as it happens all over the hospital and she repeatedly comments that “we can’t go anywhere without being recognized”. Celeb.

Continuing in the spirit of sharing and encouraging, Janet went back to Connect today to sing with Debra. She dreaded the drive out there even though she was only visiting. Too many bad memories still. When she arrived though, it was all smiles. We spent a half hour with Debra singing Christmas songs and Debra would like to do it again next week and Janet is happy about that. Singing was an amazing tool for Janet and I can see the benefits to Debra already as she smiled and laughed a lot.

Christmas Sing Along with Janet

Christmas Sing Along with Janet

A major goal for Janet being at home is to be as independent as possible and she took a huge step in that direction today. I’ve left her home alone a few times so far for various lengths of time and with different projects to attempt. Tonight, at her request, she was to make chocolate haystacks while I worked at the church for a few hours. Never before have I even considered leaving Janet to cook anything unattended but she was really wanting to try this, so after dinner, a reading of the recipe and a walkthrough of the procedures, I left. To fill out the time I would be away Janet chose to watch a movie then do her baking. I fully expected a phone call anytime the whole time I was away and was tempted to call her myself but didn’t. When I got home three hours later Janet was standing at the sink with a huge grin on her face washing the pot she’d used for the haystacks. The house smelled like chocolate and a nice collection of tasty treats were cooling on the island.


She did it! She followed the recipe, except for the coconut, operated the cooktop and cleaned up after herself, all by herself! Amazing! So happy!


With all that said, things are going well at home so far. Our Christmas vacation to San Diego is approaching and that will become the focus next week I’m sure. Alyssa and I hope to get Janet in the pool Friday as well as find a way to make exercise more fun for her. Praying for Janet’s confidence to keep growing.

Janet, A Success Story. September 16. #TSJ

Rumour has it that Janet cooperated with Tez and Jess this morning and when she actually did what they asked she did it well. The exercise Tez is working Janet on is a step routine up and down on a four inch block. That’s less than any steps at home and Janet is easily capable of doing it, she still lacks the confidence to really attack it. I did manage to get her to walk down both flights of stairs this afternoon and she did really well with them even saying at the end that it felt good to have done it.

There was lots of walking the balance of the day for Janet and she probably put on more than a kilometre by the time she was done. All the trips were purposeful as opposed to exercise oriented and she walked beside me holding my hand most of the time. I can’t tell if she’s improved her pace much yet but she certainly hasn’t slowed down.

Janet went into Games Night convinced she wasn’t going to say much then ended up participating nicely. Same old story. Each week the group is charged with remembering “the word of the week”. Last week’s word was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Of course that was easy to remember and the whole group sang the song repeatedly to prove it. This week the word is a favourite of Janet’s, sunshine. Naturally everyone started singing You Are My Sunshine. Yikes.

Once again Janet didn’t really nap and paid for that as the evening wore on and come reading time she was asleep. Praying for a solid night of sleep and a happy Janet on Wednesday.

Janet, A Success Story. September 11. #TSJ

An anxious Janet called me this morning to say she was all done her exercises and could I please come and get her soon. How could I resist? She had had a good morning, working with a much better attitude than the previous day and she was thrilled to be heading home before lunch. We made a few stops along the way looking for new patio furniture to go with our new deck and that gave Janet a chance to walk around stores and parking lots using her cane. She was quite slow during each excursion as she is quite nervous in strange territory. Practice practice.

Once we got home Janet had a good nap after a late lunch before going for her 400 meter walk. We went a slightly different route today so she could stay in the sunshine and again I thought she was rather slow. I led her all the way but she really pulled back on my arm and didn’t seem too confident. At least she did it and if she can keep doing it she should find it gets easier.

Janet managed enough energy to help build pizzas for dinner and we enjoyed a quiet evening and an early bedtime ahead of a busy weekend.

Praying for an uninterrupted night of sleep and lots of energy tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. July 7. #TSJ

Getting back into her routine at Connect seemed easy for Janet today. She completed her exercises by lunchtime except for the Standing Frame and got some sun tanning time in before nap time. Yesterday I had asked her to check and see if Jess could drive her to the Dr. Miller appointment tomorrow and Janet remembered to do that. Her memory is steadily improving as is her walking ability. After helping her up from nap time I had her walk to the kitchen to set the table and she did so quicker and more confidently than ever. She did use the wall for security purposes a few times but it seems that letting her do that is actually building her confidence rather than making her dependant on that “crutch”. Janet got the table set in record time and made some really nice 180 degree turns in the process, something she has long struggled with.

Escaping to the warmth of the patio after her chore was done Janet and I hid out there until dinner was ready and Karl and Chelsea agreed to back off on the damn A/C. Janet continued her excellent walking after dinner before getting in the Standing Frame. After properly repairing her wheelchair we were able to go for a nice sunset walk around the neighbourhood. To end the day, Janet had one more round trip of walking to do to get her meds and even though she was getting tired she did very well. No signs of falling and a good steady pace. She was sweating by the time she got back to her room but I think happy with her accomplishments, especially naming the meds correctly with only minor hints.

We are reading a Judy Blume book now called Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I’m not sure where we got the recommendation but its working out much better than the Toni Braxton story. This one is funny and fast paced and full of young girl things that Janet easily relates to. She had lots of good giggles tonight and that always makes it a little easier to say goodnight. Praying for a good rest tonight and for a good visit with Dr. Miller tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. July 3. #TSJ

I got my phone call from Janet much earlier than typical today as she very excitedly called me right after Genie Bouchard won her semi final match at Wimbledon. Janet watched the last half of the match during her breakfast and was super excited Genie won, so much so that we are getting up early Saturday to watch the Championship live. Janet is liking both the game of tennis (“it’s played in a nice warm, clean place”) and the person that Genie seems to be (“a nice and intelligent good looking person”).

Another thing that got Janet all excited today was getting to come home for the weekend. Garrett commented that Janet really took the initiative in regards to her exercise routine this morning by walking up to him on a couple of occasions and asking if she could do something. According to Janet she was motivated by not only wanting to get them done but by the prospect of coming home. Whatever works.

Tez was in the building today and offered a few tips on walking. I’ve been nagging Janet to stop hanging onto walls and furniture while walking freestyle and Tez says not to worry about that as long as Janet isn’t leaning onto things for support. If it’s for security purposes its fine. I asked him about Janet walking barefoot for a few steps and he thought that wasn’t the greatest idea but if Janet wants to do so using her cane and carefully stepping out with her right foot so it lands flat on the floor, fine. We brought the cane home in case she wants to try. The motivation for this is to refrain from using the wheelchair as much as possible including first thing in the morning and when going to the bathroom after having gotten into bed at night or after a nap. Sounds like it may be a little too soon to really go after.

Janet was a big help at dinner time tonight, preparing a veggie stir fry by herself except for getting the very heavy frying pan out and turning on the cooktop. I could have sat back and drank wine while she cooked. Maybe tomorrow.

Praying for a long night of reenergizing sleep and a productive Friday.

Janet, A Success Story. July 1. #TSJ New Hair

There wasn’t much going on for Canada Day in Lake Country tonight so it was a good thing Connect took a bunch of residents over to the festivities in the park this morning. Janet was super excited to tell me she’d seen “some doggies doing a show”. Sounded like a Super Dogs kind of thing and she loved it.

They spent pretty much the whole morning over there which meant all of Janet’s gym work had to be done after her nap. She did have a nap today and was refreshed enough to not protest going to the gym. I did insist that she arrange it with Garrett by walking down to the kitchen area first and told her I’d meet her there. This was the first time I’ve left her unsupervised walking at Connect and I was more than a little nervous about it. Janet clearly was not though and made it down in good time, cheating a little bit by hanging onto the wall for the last few feet. Garrett and I told her if she keeps doing that she’ll have to wash the walls each day. I don’t think that will actually deter her but I do hope she stops doing that soon. Garrett ran her through the Shuttle and some stretching then I supervised the bike ride. Janet did well with them all.

The rest of the evening was pretty quiet with Janet walking a lot on her own, completing a Standing Frame session and watching a little TV. The most exciting thing today was the surprise I got when I went to get Janet up from her nap and saw her hair in a ponytail. I knew her hair was getting long and am glad we are now able to do something different with it.

Rockin the Pony

Rockin the Pony

She loves it too so now I have to learn some new tricks. If anyone wants to give lessons let me know. Praying for lots of sleep and a fun Wednesday.

Janet, A Success Story. June 23. #TSJ Back to Work

The transition back to “work” for Janet seemed to go real well as when I got to Connect late this afternoon Janet gave me one of her best daily run downs ever. She seemed very bright and her memory was working almost shockingly well. According to her, all her exercises were done and the report she gave me was so good I didn’t feel a need to verify it.

By the time we were done talking and Janet was up and dressed it was dinner time. We ate outside in the beautiful 28 degree sunshine while the rest of the house sat in the freezing cold air conditioning. They think we are crazy. I think Janet may come home sooner if Connect is going to be so ridiculously cold.

In keeping with her increased brightness, Janet, on a number of occasions started walking around her room unassisted and without being asked. Her confidence level has never been higher I don’t think and it translated into me sometimes not even watching as she moved about her room. Considering she barely freestyle walked at all in Ottawa I was really surprised she attempted and did it so much today. Near the end of the night she relied on me more, even to the point of refusing to go to the kitchen from the living room for a cookie. Because I wouldn’t hold her hand she turned around in the middle of the floor and walked back to the couch, turned and sat all by herself. She thought she was depriving me of something I wanted her to do when in fact she practiced turning and sitting without hanging onto anything. I could not have gotten her to do that voluntarily and may have discovered a new strategy.

We spent some time reading and catching up on emails. Janet did a good job on all fronts especially typing where once she got warmed up was even hitting the space bar without prompting. A new thing for her.

The wedding of course is top of everyone’s discussion list with Janet and she was thrilled to sit and share some pictures with Chelsea and Karl tonight. She gets a little excited when doing things like that and sometimes skips over some detail she ought to point out and forgets names but all in all she did a good job describing each pic. She very smoothly recounted the great job Courtney did with her hair and laughed along with the rest of us at the pig tails that were put in to hold some hair out of the way for a bit. It’s nice to hear Janet laugh at things like that instead of commenting on how “awful” she thinks she looks.

The process begins

The process begins

Funny but cute too

Funny but cute too

Final touches

Final touches



Praying for another outstanding day tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. May 23. #TSJ

Garrett knew Janet wanted to leave for home as soon as possible today so he had her working hard in the gym all morning long and even into the afternoon. Janet was really happy to get everything done and was in a great mood while finishing off the Standing Frame as I got to Connect. Its great to have the kind of help Garrett provides as he always seems to keep Janet talking while exercising which distracts her from the drudgery of some of the things she needs to do.

We made our escape and got home so Janet could nap before our Small Group meeting tonight. After helping make dinner she had a quick chat with Heather about some wedding thats coming up soon. The excitement is building.

Our Small Group was very small tonight with only one other couple showing up but we had a good conversation and Janet likes how honest and real they are. We had both been waiting all week to watch the finale of The Voice and Janet insisted we stay up and do so tonight, hence the lateness of this post. Janet really enjoyed and sang along to a lot of the last performance show but was too tired to really enjoy any of the results show so we pretty much skipped right to the results and were in agreement on the winner. No Blizzards owed by anyone this time but So You Think You Can Dance starts soon and the bet will be on.

There was a lot of sitting going on tonight but Janet did get in a few freestyle walking trips and did very well. She even transferred herself from wheelchair to sitting on the bed twice all by herself which I think is pretty big as that involves a lot of turning and backing up. Her confidence continues to grow and I can see her walking around the house soon without me hovering near, maybe Sunday?

Praying for a night of deep and healing sleep and a positive attitude for tomorrow.