independence

Believing in Herself

The Superbowl hangover has worn off and the sun is shining making Janet’s spirits higher. Of course the hangover was not alcohol induced but caused by that devastating interception thrown in the final seconds of a great game. Being a pretty serious Seahawks fan Janet was a little down after that loss. Our friends Janice and Rod watched the game with us and having them around made it easier to cope for sure. Janet wisely observed that the game is just entertainment and we were greatly entertained all season.

Is this football food? Barely.

Is this football food? Barely.


JanetJaniceSuperbowl

Entertaining is not the word used to describe Janet’s visits to H2O, however her attitude and performance is improving. Yesterday the river was flowing very fast so it was a real struggle to walk in both directions. I assisted Janet the vast majority of the time as it wasn’t safe for her on her own in most places. The more she walked the better she got at it and for the last ten minutes walked on her own in a relatively calm side pool. Believing in herself seems to be a key component to her success and she seems to have to generate that belief herself or get feedback from someone she hasn’t seen in a long time. Case in point, today’s visit with Sandrine. It had been four months or so since they had seen each other and Janet was a little hesitant to stop by today. Afterwards, she was thrilled that we did, commenting on how nice Sandrine is. The two of them certainly do click and Janet’s energy level rose noticeably as soon as Sandrine appeared. Hearing how much she has progressed from Sandrine surprised Janet and I believe she accepted that feedback much better than from anyone else lately. Janet impressed us with the questions she asked and the way she conducted herself the whole time.

In the spirit of growing Janet’s independence as well as believing in herself I dropped her off at the library this morning for the Living With Stroke seminar. She was OK to give it a try on her own and had Shirley, the lady we give a ride to, for support if needed. Janet was excited to watch the little kids at story time before heading in for the seminar and told me later that someone had to come and get her as she was still watching the kids as the seminar started. When I arrived to pick her up almost two hours later she and Shirley were waiting in the foyer and Janet was all smiles feeling pretty good that she’d done that on her own.

For your information I am in the process of moving this blog to a self hosted website, brainaneurysmsurvivor.com which is up and running now although not at full speed. Check it out and stay tuned for the official launch. This site will likely be active for another week or so.

Praying for an increase in Janet believing in herself and to find some more opportunities for her to do things on her own.

Janet, A Success Story. November 17. #TSJ

She believes! Janet finally has some confidence towards getting to come home for good this week. Something clicked today and she made huge improvements in her ability to pick something up off the floor. Chelsea took her into the den at Connect tonight for a half hour and practiced with her. Janet says that helped a lot because she really likes Chelsea. I did a lot of the same drills with Janet this weekend but I guess she doesn’t like me. She seems well on her way now and I’m confident that tonight is her second to last sleep at Connect!

Our day started early today which was really good practice for when she’s home full time. I had to be out by 8:15 which meant Janet needed to be up and dressed before then. She had to be out by 9:40 which meant breakfast needed to be finished as well. There was no problem getting up, Janet did her own thing after I helped with her AFO, shoes and splint. When I got back from my appointment at 9:15 she was finished breakfast and was proudly emptying the dishwasher. Love it!

After Janet’s appointment we made the drive to Connect during which I tried to motivate her to try her best at making this one of her last few days there. She wasn’t sure she could do it but sure worked hard once there. Almost immediately Janet went for a bike ride and set another personal record and even acknowledged that she’s getting stronger about half way through the ride. I took her out for lunch after that and we enjoyed a real nice hour doing that where Janet walked well and talked well, ordering her own lunch and making a lot of decisions in the process. Never once did the server have to ask Janet to repeat or explain. Following a well deserved nap Janet took the initiative and set the dinner table then worked with me on making a salad.

I played a few tricks on Janet to get her to pick things up off the floor and each time she new I was being “mean” but she made strong and successful efforts each time. After working with Chelsea I can say that Janet can consistently pick up her cane from the floor as well as her jacket. She’s doing so well that we may not hold her to being able to pick up her phone but she may just get it anyways. To round out her evening Janet agreed to walking the stairs and commented as she was doing so that “I’m going way faster”. Yes she is.

Janet listened intently as I read from the book we are currently reading, A House in the Sky, then excitedly said “I’m coming home!” as I said goodnight. The light is very bright at the end of the tunnel and its not an oncoming train, its Janet’s bright cheery home that she is about to actually live in.

Praying for a good night of sleep and a day filled with confidence and accomplishment 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 15. #TSJ Wet

Monday, that dreaded first day back at Connect. Janet must have been really worked up about being back there today. How else to explain the three accidents she had this morning in not making it to the bathroom in time. She called me out of frustration after the worst of it seemed to have past and she was headed out to the sunshine in hopes that would make her feel better. I had a chat with Jess when I arrived later on and she was at a loss to try and explain it. I think Janet gets so anxious about being at Connect and having to do so many therapy type things that she loses some control. Maybe not, but she was fine all afternoon and evening.

On the bright side, Jess was really excited to tell me that Janet had dressed herself this morning. That’s not one of Janet’s goals but certainly would be nice for her to be able to do. All she needed help with was her bra and her AFO and splint. Janet thought Jess was being “crabby” in making her do that but she very matter of factly undressed herself tonight and put her PJ’s on so I think a sense of independence was breaking through and I saw a glimpse of satisfaction on her face when she was done.

The 400 meter walk tonight was Janet’s fastest yet. I’ve switched to holding her hand full time and having her walk beside me. I find this method to be as close to her walking completely on her own as possible as I’m not pulling nor is she gripping and pushing down. Instead of pulling her to walk faster I simply ask her to match my pace and within reason she does. Janet actually put on a lot of mileage tonight as she climbed the stairs and walked back and forth from her room to the patio multiple times.

The day started out with frustration and ended with satisfaction. Praying for a night of uninterrupted sleep and a successful Tuesday.

Janet, A Success Story. July 31. #TSJ Out in Style

The last day of July. Wow. Janet still thinks she has a long time at Connect and even knowing tomorrow is August she doesn’t really sense how quickly the time is passing. Maybe its not for her. Today went quickly though, while most of the other house mates were kayaking and swimming Janet was in the gym with Jess and complaining a lot, right to the point where Jess left her for a few minutes to get a grip on herself. When Janet called me and told me about this we had a good talk about how Janet needs to focus on her goals, try and achieve them as soon as she can then come home. She really seemed to get it but tonight when I asked her to do some stairs with me she started in the same way she had earlier with Jess. In the end she relented and walked to the stairwell.

Janet was confident she could do three steps up and down without assistance and very assertively told me to “back off” while she did them. The three steps up were way better than the other day and she got herself over to the other side of the stairwell easily. With me working hard at staying back, Janet descended three steps in style and unofficially, in my opinion, has now accomplished that goal. To make it official she needs to show Tez and that won’t happen until the week after next at the earliest as Janet gets a summer break starting tomorrow.

Janet usually comes home with me Thursdays for the weekend and was surprisingly cooperative about not doing so today. Laurel and Raj arrive tomorrow night for a few days then Janet and I are traveling to Nanaimo to visit my mom before bringing Brittney and Ethan back to Kelowna for a few days visit with us. Therefore, I wanted Janet to get her exercises done Friday morning before starting her nine nights away. Fair deal I think.

Chelsea gave Janet a few tasks in helping get dinner ready and Janet did them well and without protest. She was quite chatty with her housemates today, especially Wes, with whom she’s had a few “good conversations” the last couple of days. Good to see her stepping out more and more to start a conversation and even better that she remembers what was talked about a couple days later.

After the struggle of getting Janet to try the stairs and to reward her success I let her choose the activities the rest of the evening. She wanted to be out in the sun so we walked to Beasley Park and watched soccer for almost an hour. I remember doing that with Janet last summer and not being sure what she was seeing or understanding and now she’s telling me legitimate reasons why she’s cheering for one team over the other and making random but interesting observations like, “there isn’t a cloud in the sky”. Nothing to do with soccer but valid and it was pretty cool to look around the entire valley and not see any clouds.

More and more I am leaving Janet to get around on her own and she did really well with that tonight. I even heard her getting her meds from Chelsea and identifying them with only one hint. Praying for a solid night of sleep for Janet, a positive attitude and willingness to work hard Friday morning and for a fun nine days away.

In light of the visiting and traveling we will be doing, blog posts will be random and only as events warrant until sometime around August 11.

Janet, A Success Story. July 14. #TSJ

There were no Monday blahs for Janet today as she bounced right back into her rehab routine. All her exercises were done by lunchtime and she was up from her nap by the time I arrived at 3:30. Not what I was expecting but nice to see.

After catching up on the day’s activities Janet knew it was her turn to set the dinner table so off she walked to the kitchen. I was really impressed with her walking today, the confidence level seems to be growing daily and I think she’s speeding up a little too. Her table setting session was excellent as she needed to physical assistance and minimal coaching on what she had to put out and where it all went. With that chore completed Janet had time to sit in the living room and chat with Wes who just returned from two weeks in Saskatchewan. She was quite excited to see Wes and hear about his trip. It was a good conversation.

Independence is creeping up on Janet whether she likes it or not. She verbalizes a desire for help with a lot of things but increasingly is becoming more assertive, like refusing to go swimming, and tonight not wanting to read to me. I thought she’d be open to reading The Hallo Wiener to me since its her goal to read it to some kids in October. No way. And not in a whiny pouty way, she just didn’t want to read it to me saying she practices it on her own and that is fine. I did kind of trick her into reading a paragraph from another book and she did extremely well with that. She read even the far right hand side of each line, something she often neglects. More improvement.

Part of Janet’s duties for the evening was to do a little laundry and that enabled her to get lots of walking in without it seeming like I was making her walk for no reason. She uses anything and everything she can hold onto along the way but like I said before it seems to be really building her confidence and abilities. I left her alone for more than half of her trip to the med room tonight and she had no problems at all and once again got all her med questions right with no hints. Janet also gave me another awesome recap of her day after getting into bed in addition to telling me whats on her schedule tomorrow. Brilliant!

Praying for an excellent night of sleep and a productive Tuesday.

Janet, A Success Story. June 7. #TSJ

Another independent morning for Janet as she made breakfast, typed an email herself and waited in the sunshine for me while I showered. I still get anxious about her when I leave her in situations like that. She is unable to get back into the house on her own from the patio and I worry a little about her needing to when I’m not available. I finished my shower as quickly as I could and went to check on her, she was singing away to the music I’d left on for her. I need to have more faith.

Its a good thing we were up at a reasonable hour because we had an early lunch date with John. He hasn’t been out for a meal in months and was raring to go as soon as we arrived at his care home. We wheeled the few blocks over to Joey Kelowna and sat outside for a nice leisurely lunch. I didn’t arrange the seating very well so Janet had a hard time hearing John but we managed. I think he really enjoyed getting out and we enjoyed listening to his stories.

With lunch done early Janet agreed to brave the mall as long as we shopped for me not her. She was a big help in colour selection as I actually found clothes that fit me and I managed to sneak a few things in for her too.

After a nice little nap we headed off to church without the wheelchair. After getting out of the car and closing the door unassisted, Janet walked across the parking lot with my help then went by herself the one hundred plus feet to “our” door then demanded my help to walk down to our seats. Janet got lots of encouragement along the way from friends and even people we don’t know. I had to remind her that her story is out there and more people know about her and are cheering her on than she may realize. Walking out of church was similar and took longer as people stopped to chat and encourage and ask about the wedding. Even someone neither of us knows asked Janet if she was ready for the wedding. Kiko walked with us the last little ways to the car and for the first time got to see Janet walking freestyle and even opening the car door unassisted. She is always so encouraging and upbeat, it all made for a very positive evening.

Our time at home tonight was positive as well. We enjoyed some good sushi and the movie Son of God which spurred a good conversation afterwards with Janet feeling touched by the film and glad we saw it soon after church as it helped to see things acted out rather than just spoken about. I guess we were both so immersed in the movie we forgot Janet’s meds until she was tucked into bed. It crossed my mind once during the movie and I thought I’d prompt her during our ice cream break but forgot by then. Oh well.

Praying for a night of deep and healing sleep that helps to bring lots of energy and a sharp mind for tomorrow.