family

Janet, A Success Story. August 4. #TSJ Swimming Video

It’s been a fun and active start to Janet’s mid summer break from Connect. Laurel and Raj were here Friday night till Monday morning and provided Janet with some meaningful and exciting family time. We all walked around the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning then stopped by to say hi to John. Janet is always quite proud to introduce her family to others and John was very pleased to have a larger audience to regale with his stories. It took a little convincing but we got Janet into the pool and you can see from this video, she hasn’t lost any strokes at all.

We arrived early to church on Saturday as I wanted Janet to walk all the way in on her own. Wouldn’t you figure, she walked so fast the whole way we had tons of time to spare. Ya just never know. Sunday was a day at the beach, literally. Janet was happy to sit in the sun and watch Laurel, Raj and I make our first attempts at Stand Up Paddle Boarding. We all did impressively well I must say. After a nap at home we walked back to the beach area for a nice dinner at Smack Dab followed by the now requisite stop at Menchies for dessert.

Summer Yummies

Summer Yummies


The good-byes this morning were not as teary as in the past and Janet and I had a productive day preparing for our trip to Nanaimo tomorrow. I even got Janet in the pool again and we are getting steadily better at entering and exiting.

These first few days have been quite vacation like for Janet with today being an exception as I put her to work with me around the house. Since she is using her wheelchair less and less we rearranged the kitchen so that the things she needs for breakfast are reachable for her when standing. She did some walk throughs of the new set up today with the first real attempt coming in the morning. I’m confidant she can do this.

Praying for a great night of sleep and a safe drive and ferry trip to Nanaimo.

Post dinner selfie

Post dinner selfie

Stand Up Paddle Boarding sure is fun to watch.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding sure is fun to watch.

See what I mean.

See what I mean.

Almost looks like he knows what he's doing.

Almost looks like he knows what he’s doing.

Janet, A Success Story. June 18. #TSJ Birthday

Full day in Ottawa number one didn’t go as planned mostly because of a late start. Janet didn’t get to sleep until at least 1:30 last night so I was in no hurry to have her get up this morning. We did need to get going on the missing wheelchair project though. The company I rented from apologized for their screw up and offered to drop one off today free of charge. Problem was, that wouldn’t happen until around noon and we wanted to drive to Montreal for the day. We decided to go pick up a wheelchair from their office and hit the road from there. Bad call. I selected the wrong location on my GPS and after getting relatively close to the right location we ran into a major construction project which had traffic backed up for miles. Rather than slog through it I hoped the GPS would find an alternate route, apparently there isn’t one, so by about 12:30 we finally had the wheelchair in our possession and decided it was too late to do Montreal as we were all tired of being in the car by that time.

Wanting to at least say we went to Quebec we opted to go to Gatineau and the Museum of Civilization. Janet loved the Children’s Museum and found some of the other areas interesting. We visited the museum when we were here four or five years ago, Janet didn’t really remember any if it nor has she any real memory of the other Ottawa landmarks so it’s like the first time all over again.

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It is field trip season so the museum was packed with school kids exhibiting every level of interest in the place imaginable and that was at times entertaining and at others annoying.

When in Quebec I feel you’ve gotta have some poutine and Janet agreed to pose with some as long as she didn’t have to eat it.

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Janet had hung in there really well for that first stint of the day and after a short rest at the hotel it was time for dinner out with the family. Mary and Keith arrived this afternoon as did Cam and we all met for a nice meal topped off for some of us by an Ottawa staple, Beaver Tails!

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There were limited opportunities for Janet to walk today and I notice that when she does she’s not as good at it so there may be a few trips up and down the hallways tomorrow as Janet has some serious walking to do on Saturday.

Today was Janet’s birthday and true to form, the older you get the more parties you have. We went out for a nice birthday dinner last Friday with Bonnie and Toly, today Janet received birthday wishes from some of you and tomorrow there is a big family bash at Heather and Allan’s. Janet doesn’t like a lot of attention for her birthday but she deserves it.

I have to end on a positive note and I want to start with a shout out to our friend Nora in Chicago. Cam’s girlfriend Gina is stuck there tonight due to severe weather that has cancelled dozens of flights. When we got in touch with Nora she already had a full house of “stranded” people but was willing to make room for another. Cam and Gina chose another option but I want you all to know how blessed we are to have friends willing to step up like that. Another shout out goes to the random customer who got up from his table at Starbucks to open the door and let Janet and I walk through on our way for a bathroom break this morning. A small act of kindness like that made a huge impression on us. Thanks random thirty something middle eastern dude in a suit!

Praying for a great night of sleep and for Janet to have lots of energy tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. May 4. #TSJ

Sleep in Sunday felt pretty good and because of the late start Janet was able to power through the day without a nap.

The weekly Skype chat with Mary/Gaga happened during breakfast and I thought Janet participated well. It was soon after that we decided to go for a little walk around the neighbourhood and good thing we did it then as the weather deteriorated rapidly after that. It’s not really summer yet.

During our walk I had Janet test drive her new clogs and quickly realized the left one was just a little too loose so we jumped in the car and went back to Hollywood Shoes in search of a solution. The owner came up with a good one and I will be taking Janet’s shoe to a guy that will install a velcro strap on the back to hold her foot in better. Should work. Since we had the owner’s attention we broached the desire for an “everyday at Connect” shoe for Janet and moments later walked out with another pair of shoes for Imelda, I mean Janet. Except for some sandals she’s all set.

Lunch was taken during the time Janet would normally be napping and was followed by some really good walking practice. I even got a few free steps out of her. The reward for the workout was to sit on the couch for a bit and watch TV. We thankfully stumbled across a TED talk given by Gabby Giffords and her husband in Vancouver this March. Very inspiring and Janet noted the similarities between her and Gabby. Check it here if you like.

The topic of Janet’s dad came up and she surprised me in agreeing to call him. He sounded good and the conversation was reasonable and I think it brighten the day for them both. Keeping with the family theme and in need of a laugh Janet placed a FaceTime call to her brother Mike which was full of smiles and included cameos from members of the family that happened to be home. Janet felt good about reaching out in that way and actually mentioned she was happy we have the technology to do so. We used that technology to track down a college friend of Janet’s whom she hasn’t seen in thirty plus years. Janet is excited to reconnect with Helen, and it’ll be interesting to see how the “reunion” plays out. I was impressed to read that Helen was aware of Janet’s situation and can’t wait to find out how she knew.

Janet was a good help in making dinner with me tonight and thanks in part to good music in the background the preparation for and drive back to Connect were pleasant despite my unwillingness to have her leave. Janet excitedly showed off her new shoes and talked about the wine club to Chelsea upon our arrival, while walking to her room. She then stood at her dresser and put some laundry away. This required her to free stand and bend to reach the lower drawers and she did it well.

Bedtime reading produced some giggles and insightful comments from Janet and I was able to say goodnight satisfied she was settled in and ready for a productive week ahead. I’m thankful for the long weekend we had together and praying for lots of rest tonight and lots of energy tomorrow.

Full House. A special week of family fun for Janet. #TSJ

Janet could not have been more excited this past week leading up to Laurel and Raj’s Christian wedding ceremony on Saturday. That excitement enabled Janet to accomplish a lot as she was almost forced to be on a high level of alert all day everyday. She sometimes found it hard to let go and calm down at night with Thursday being especially difficult as she hardly slept at all. To be able to not only witness but also contribute to the wedding was huge for Janet and it was very exciting for me to watch her take it all in.

Thursday started with a phone call from Janet just after noon wondering when I was going to be at Connect to pick her up. I reminded her I said I’d be there at two but she said that was too late. I managed to get there by 1:30 just as she and Jess were finishing making her bed. It had been a busy morning with good reports from the gym and an outstanding report from Mary Lou regarding Janet’s speech. Jess said she was out on the patio while Mary Lou and Janet were working in the Den, a good twenty meters away, and she could hear Janet from there. Impressive. After running an errand downtown, Andrew, Laurel, Heather and my mom joined us for a trip to The Flower Farm for a few decorative features for the wedding. We all were a little dissapointed with the selection and service but were very surprised and impressed by the lemon trees.

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Who knew? My mom was determined to serve us all a turkey dinner so despite the thirty plus degree temperature outside, that’s what we enjoyed. Thanks mom!

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So ended a very bright day for Janet, or so I thought. Her mind must have been working overtime as she was very restless all Thursday night, waking frequently to tell me she couldn’t sleep or was uncomfortable. It all peaked at 3am when she insisted on going for a walk. Noting that she wasn’t kidding and was half way out of bed I decided to go along with her crazy idea and got out of bed to assist. Once up, she very confidently took a good step with her left leg then followed nicely moving her right leg forward. That was not a step, more like a drag, but it was impressive none the less and she repeated it three or four times down the side of the bed. I held probably ninety percent of her weight but all the movement was her. When she’d had enough we got back to where she started from and she managed a little bit of sleep for what remained of the night. After regaling the household with her story over breakfast it was time for some wedding baking. Laurel and Heather allowed Janet to help them make some desserts for the big event and Janet loved being helpful and hanging out with her daughters. The house was buzzing all day and Janet really fed off that energy. We got into the pool for a good long swim where Janet did her best ever take off for swimming on her tummy and also took a breath while swimming. As long as the water is warm she continues to improve in the pool.

The big day finally arrived and after the prerequisite good morning, the first words out of Janet’s smiling mouth Saturday morning were, “Laurel and Raj are getting married today”. She was up and going by 8:30 and you could tell this is what she’d been waiting for. Again, the house was buzzing as Cam arrived then Mary/Gaga and Keith after their massively delayed flight from Toronto. The last bit of decorating involved cutting out some foam hearts to lay on the pool and Janet was happy to help with that before Heather and Laurel took her behind closed doors to get dressed. After I don’t know how many mimosas the ladies emerged looking stunningly beautiful.

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It must have been water proof makeup the girls put on Janet because as soon we sat down for the ceremony, the tears started flowing but her face stayed radiant. The ceremony was blessedly short due to the heat but very truthful, practical and personal. Thanks Roger and Carrie for being such special people to our family. Laurel and Raj each did a terrific job delivering their vows to each other and I can’t think of any better way for Janet to witness their “second” marriage. Janet’s short term memory is showing signs of improvement and I’m sure she’ll remember this day for a long long time. The “reception” part of the day was very casual with everyone invited to jump in the pool, play bocce or just hang out. Janet happily went for a swim and loved being in the water with a bunch of others especially Laurel and Raj’s niece and nephews. A few years ago Laurel and Raj dressed up as mustard and ketchup for Halloween LaurelRajMustardKetchup so in preparation for their first wedding Janet made bride and groom mustard and ketchup bottles that were to be placed near the cake in fun. She finally got to present them this time and got a good laugh for doing so.

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I thought Janet might be so wound up she’d never get to bed but she was lights out at 10:30 after a very very good day.

Up early again, the goodbyes started early Sunday morning with Cam running out the door first with Heather and Allan scheduled to follow after breakfast. Note that I said Heather and when you are talking about her and flying you can bank on a delay. Sure enough, they were able to stay for lunch before heading to the airport for a trip that ended up being four hours longer than planned and minus a set of luggage too. I don’t have to tell you who’s do I. It was nice to be able to chill and visit during their delay so that was the silver lining. As expected there were lots of tears when the time finally came but those were cleared up when Janet was reminded of all the fun things that happened over the last few days. Having only active seniors left to entertain we headed up to the Myra Canyon trestles for a nice walk. Unfortunately I turned too soon and we ended up at the wrong end of the park where the road is very bumpy and the trail to the trestles not exactly wheelchair friendly. It was still a nice outing and a good break from the heat for those that wanted it. After a nice swim and hot tub we all went to dinner at The Rotten Grape. Janet was a little uncomfortable in the backless bar stool this time so we switched to a tall stool with a back and that seemed to work much better. We said goodnight and goodbye to Mary/Gaga and Keith before winding down with a little TV and the lights going out at 11:15.

I think by this time Janet was starting to feel relieved that the craziness was over. She slept very well Sunday night and woke up happy and ready to start Monday at 8am. My mom joined her in watching Pick a Puppy and Janet picked the right one again and is now 4/5 all time. After a brief walk around the KGH neighborhood Janet had two very strong swimming sessions which included a first ever walk using the parallel bars. We had attempted this before but Janet’s strength and balance just weren’t there, now they are. Fun to watch. We had a nice chat with Moira on the way out and Janet was beaming as she told of Laurel’s wedding. We are so blessed to have so many caring people involved in Janet’s rehab and even though Moira is no longer directly involved she still makes time to connect with Janet each time we see her and the more that happens the more Janet connects back. Good stuff. My mom loves soup and sandwich places so we hit The Marmalade Cafe for lunch before dropping her at the airport for her on time flight to Nanaimo. Mom, we are grateful you could be part of this weekend and thank you for the turkey dinner, the huge amount of yard work and everything else you did for us. By the time we got to the Connect parking lot Janet was in tears and not wanting to go back. We worked it out, she had a nap then a really good dinner followed by a solid workout on the Shuttle. We couldn’t let a beautiful evening go to waste so we walked over and watched Karl and Humberto play soccer.

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Janet really enjoyed that and was in a good enough mood to do forty five minutes in the Standing Frame before bed. She timed her workout really well and drank an entire bottle of water during it with no nagging from me. A first!

Janet is getting to be more and more like the former Janet all the time now and when she called me Tuesday afternoon I heard her true voice for the first time since this all started. It was exciting and a little creepy at the same time. When I arrived she was very chatty and we talked in her room for a long while before going for a walk. Along the way we practiced the months of the year stating the special days that occur in each. Janet got most family birthdays right and shocked me by getting the first day of Spring in March. I hadn’t even thought of that one before she said it. With a very busy Wednesday looming Janet went to bed after her evening workout a little unsure of what to expect.

Jess brought Janet to KGH this morning where I met them for a chat with Dr. Miller. He reinforced the need for Janet to be at Connect for the forseable future and as long as she is improving. He noted a huge improvement in Janet’s cognition since he saw her a month ago and gave validity to my suggestion that the Baclofen was having a negative effect on her. Janet impressed him so much this morning that he told her “with your brain injury, you should not be talking to me the way you are now”. Janet accepted his compliments and praise almost completely today saying she “feels more alive”. Awesome meeting. On our way out Janet’s celebrity status took over as a bunch of nurses stopped to say hi. Janet spoke very clearly and smiled a lot this time showing her growing confidence. While she was in the bathroom over near the OT department, Erika, the head nurse came looking for us. She was about to interview Emma for a position on the Rehab Unit and knew we’d like to see her and vice versa. It was great to see Emma again, in my opinion the best nurse Janet’s had during this ordeal, unfortunately all Janet got was a peak through the bathroom door. I’m sure we’ll see more of Emma soon as I told Erika there’s no need to interview her, just hire her, and she agreed. Our next appointment was the hand clinic to see about a splint to assist with positioning of Janet’s right wrist and hand. Julie took a good look at Janet and fashioned a splint right before our eyes that is already helping. When I took it off at bedtime tonight Janet’s hand was very relaxed and I was able to open her hand with her wrist fully in a neutral position, something I haven’t been able to do since this started. For now Janet will wear the splint two hours on and one hour off with a follow up with Julie scheduled for next Friday. We rushed back to Connect for our team meeting and had a very productive session with the Connect team. Everyone is pleased with Janet’s progress with Mary Lou describing the difference in Janet’s speech like “night and day” over the last seven to ten days. I am very thankful for the hardworking and supportive group of professionals working on Janet’s behalf. Automatically thinking Janet would need a nap after a day like that I proceeded to get her ready to do so. She allowed me to lay her down but as soon as she realized what was going on she got quite upset and got herself right back up insisting she do the Standing Frame now because she hates doing it late at night. She did a full hour in it followed by a really good gym workout with Garrett.That left the evening free for a nice walk and an attempt at doing some video for this blog update. I wasn’t happy with it so you are stuck reading my words again. Maybe next time.

As long as Janet continues to improve she will stay at Connect and I’m grateful we have that resource. There will now be an effort made to get Janet busier around there and we will explore some volunteer opportunities in the community as well. It feels like another door to Janet’s recovery has opened and I pray we can take full advantage of that to push her to the next level. Thank you readers for all your support and thank you to our Lord and Savior for His Love, Mercy and Grace.

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Two Sleeps #TSJ

Janet met me in the hallway as she returned from a reading session in the Den. She was quite smiley and chatty saying she was having a good day. She mentioned going to the gym and having lunch and reading and while she tried hard to say what she had for lunch, just couldn’t get it out. Lorne reminded her it was grilled cheese and she smiled big when she heard that. Sensing she needed a bit of a break after reading I lead her to the living room to watch some TV before Brian’s scheduled session at three.

It was good to chat with Brian this afternoon so we could all get up to speed with each other. He reads this Blog daily so is well aware of what Janet has been up to and that enabled us to talk about bigger picture items such as the wheelchair, food and transfers. I requested a few tweaks to the chair before we purchase it and Brian is confident those will be done without problem. He had read about the beef stew incident and I was able to tell him about Garrett’s meal plan that is in writing somewhere and he said he’d find it and follow up on its implementation. He encouraged a discussion with Tez over which form of transfer Janet should be focusing on now. I’ve been using mostly a standing transfer where Tez would prefer using the sliding board probably feeling it’s too early for Janet to do the standing thing and he’s probably right. I paid close attention to our transfers today and although Janet is stepping with her left leg without cueing now I notice she is not really holding her body that straight, I’m doing most of that, and her right leg is taking virtually no weight at all. I’ll use the sliding board between her bed and wheelchair and other chairs and will stand her for toilet transfers.

Time for a bio break after Brian’s visit. Success again! I then had Janet put her laundry away which she seemed quite pleased to do and was happy when she completed that task. I need to find more chores like that for her to do as she is now not at all interested in the board games. The last couple of days she has demonstrated some real assertiveness and I can sense her wanting to do more constructive things. After a brief rest time she started getting up from bed and got a little mad at me for being in her way. I now realize that reaction came from a “I can do this myself” perspective and she did. I backed right off and said nothing and she got herself all the way to sitting and was quite pleased.

We headed down to see what was happening in the kitchen where Garrett was preparing a nice salmon dinner. Janet asked if she could help with anything but most of it was done by that time so we watched a little more TV until dinner was served. Janet really enjoyed the meal and was too full for dessert. We hung out in the living room for a little while after and I threw some family geography questions at her. She did pretty well, correctly answering where she was born, where Andrew lives and where we met. We had a heated argument over where her mom and Keith live with her finally relenting when she remembered we visited them in Collingwood a couple of summers ago.

I have been counting down until Thursday when Janet gets her peg tube removed and think I am more excited about it than she is. Only two sleeps to go! Originally I figured that was because I deal with it way more than she does but tonight it came to the surface that she’s afraid it will hurt when it comes out. I explained as much of the procedure as I know to her and then changed the subject to focus on the more fun things we are doing that day and she calmed down then. The time I’m spending with Janet is split pretty evenly now between moments of heightened awareness and real insightfullness and moments where she just isn’t processing things effectively. We had another talk on the importance of the afternoon rest time this evening as she lost her energy before 7:30 tonight where as when she has that rest she can go strong until 8:30. I got a little bit of a “so what” from her but I think deep down she knows the rest makes a difference. Before bed I read to her a Christmas letter she started writing a couple of years ago that I found while purging some cupboards today. Janet’s writing has always been very difficult to read and this was no different and we both had a good laugh trying to decipher what she had scribbled. Janet says she remembers writing that letter and I believe her as she wrote some things there that are true Janet things to say and I could see the recognition on her face before she even said anything. Cool.

Praying for rest tonight and an active day of learning and recovery tomorrow.