Hard to believe August is over. The home stretch begins now for Janet as her goals for coming home full time get closer and closer. September promises to be challenging and busy but not without some fun too.
This past weekend Janet worked hard on her distance walking, each day doing a 400 meter circuit that her legs told her they felt. We weren’t focused on the timing so much as getting used to the distance and Janet did the first 200 meters using her cane then the last 200 holding my hand so she could pick up the pace a little. I had to coax her out the door to do these walks but Janet felt good about completing each one. Her stride continues to improve and will do so more once her AFO gets adjusted. For the first time ever, I was able to bring myself to not supervise Janet as she walked from the kitchen, down the steps to the garage and into the car by herself. I simply told her I’d meet her at the car and when I got there she was in it with a big smile on her face saying “I did it all by myself!” High five!
Relaxing was the desired outcome of the weekend for Janet again but I managed to get her to help out a lot in the kitchen and do as much for herself as possible. She practiced the laundry machines and the cooktop as well as getting the dog a treat. Janet is getting very good at rinsing and stacking dishes while I wash and can do most of the emptying the dishwasher except for some things she can’t reach to put away. We have some tweaking to do still on where kitchen stuff should go so Janet can access it and will consult Brian as soon as he’s able to come over and do an assessment for us.
Janet was able to relax and watch a lot of tennis this weekend and really gets caught up in the personal stories and struggles of the players as well as the drama of a good match. It’s a great sport for her to watch as she can follow the game well and really see the players as they aren’t covered by helmets and stuff.
Returning to Connect tonight went smoothly probably because Janet knows she’ll be back home Tuesday so I can take her to her Botox appointment Wednesday morning then we are going to Seattle for a few days to watch the Seahawks play some real football. So, a little pain and a lot of fun this week. Praying for Janet to sleep well tonight and have lots of energy for a productive Monday.
Renovation Day Eight. Construction has begun! The demolition phase has pretty much come to an end unless we decide on something major for the ensuite. Randy laid the bases for most of the kitchen today so now we can actually see what the layout will look like.
The first piece to go down of course was for what will be the wine “cellar” slash liquor cabinet.
Jess had Janet very busy all morning today with a full workout, Standing Frame, shower and a trip to the grocery store before lunch. By one o’clock Janet asked for a nap and was sleeping still when I got in at 2:45. Her cold is lingering but hasn’t affected her willingness to do things and she got up soon after my arrival.
We started our time together with back to back Skype chats with Heather and Leslie. Janet talked well to both and rather confidently asked to end the one with Leslie. She’s almost always been scared to end a call out of fear of upsetting the other person but today she knew she wanted to stop and she spoke up. Nice.
Since Janet’s cold was still affecting her I gave her the night off from the gym and we watched a little football after dinner with the fire as its harder for her to stay warm when she’s feeling sick. Once she got warm we read some SheLife materials and Janet impressed me with her improved reading skills. She still lacks confidence but when following a pen pointing to each word she was going a line and a half without breaking and that is a huge improvement. Jess said she has noticed Janet trying to read more on her own during down times now and that’s good. One chapter we read was titled “lost that loving feeling” and as soon as I “sang” a bit of the song, Janet jumped right in nice and loud singing practically the whole song. Cool.
Reading filled out the time until The Voice started and we watched that with Wes, his wife Roz and sometimes Kieran. Janet interacted with everyone well and also had quite a lively phone conversation with Cam. At med time I encouraged Janet to yell at Jess, who was in the kitchen, to get her meds for her. Janet responded with the loudest voice I’ve heard from her and Jess heard her loud and clear. Not bad for a sicko.
Praying for a good sleep tonight and a fun day tomorrow.
It feels a little strange to be writing again after almost a week away from blogging. Thanks and welcome to all of you who have joined me on Twitter. That’s where you can now keep up to date with Janet on a daily basis.
This past week has seen Janet steadily moving ahead in a lot of areas, with Friday marking the beginning of the end of her BM challenges I hope. We finally got the medication started that Dr. Agnew said would work, and boy did it! Janet felt relieved afterwards and I still don’t understand how she never felt any pain or discomfort during the long period of time where she wasn’t going. That may be part of why she wasn’t going and hopefully while at her colonoscopy appointment, Dr. Nash will be able to explain what’s happening. As of today all is well in that department.
When I first met Janet she was challenging herself to become more assertive. As the years went by she learned to make sure her voice was heard very well. I’m starting to see a return of that strong personality now as she voices her opinion on things and has taken a few verbal shots at me. The funniest one being last night while watching basketball. I had been nagging Janet all afternoon about drinking water but hadn’t said anything for a while. Since it was nearing bedtime I casually suggested she needed to drink more water. She very quickly and sharply (smiling though) said “why don’t you drink more water”. Bob and I both laughed out loud along with Janet who promptly had a few big sips of water. I like what I’m seeing from her this way and although she still lacks confidence in her physical abilities she is clearly gaining a better understanding of her situation and the moment she is living in.
Speaking of physical abilities, Janet continues to impress not only me but her therapists as well. I’m praying she soon recognizes herself how well she is doing. Friday’s sessions at the KGH pool were strong with Janet doing some good balancing and “walking”. In our pool on Monday Janet “swam” on her back for ten seconds on two separate occasions. I’m calling it swimming because she continued kicking her legs and moving her left arm to keep her face out of the water. There was some propulsion but hard to measure in such a short period of time and I was so excited I kept thinking how I could get video of it all. No luck with that yet. Janet was pleased I was excited but doubtful she had done anything that exciting. The hot tub continues to work its magic on Janet’s stretchability and she looks forward to those relaxing sessions now. If we could get her that interested in the Connect gym we’d be set. Janet is performing well there but still argues against going each time. The staff and I keep emphasizing the benefits she is seeing from all her hard work and I think we’re gaining ground there. Should be easy to do as Janet is getting measurably better on the bike, the standing frame and the parallel bars almost daily. On Monday she set a personal best riding the bike for thirty minutes and traveling .82 miles. Janet is tolerating the standing frame for forty minutes to an hour now and it’s so weird having her standing tall I can’t sit beside her when she’s in the frame as I’m not used to looking up at her.
Meal prep and household type chores are something Janet strangely enjoys. She eagerly puts her laundry away and helps me make her bed. I still have to prompt her to look at the labels on her drawers to see where something goes and she needs a lot of guidance with kitchen duties but her willingness to try is cool and she really does concentrate fully when given a task.
Janet and I went for a nice long walk Monday evening to explore the neighborhood. We saw a nice development with some single level homes for sale but decided we don’t want to live in Lake Country. I tested Janet’s vision while we were out by asking her to read signs and find certain objects. She can see things for sure, her challenge is in sorting out what she’s looking at and zeroing in on the key thing. It was a fun walk and Janet seemed to enjoy the challenge of finding things to look at, kind of like eye spy.
The following is the first in what could be a weekly feature of the blog. This interview was shot this afternoon and its purpose is to allow you all to see and hear Janet for yourselves instead of just reading my words. We hope you enjoy.
Praying for continued improvement and acceptance by Janet in how well she’s doing.
Even with house guests Janet managed a nice sleep in this morning. Katie and Sarah took off for Calgary at 8 o’clock Connah(Katie’s last name)time which is 8:25 to the rest of us. Janet and I wish them well on their adventure.
Our morning was relaxing and stress free with Janet eating a big breakfast, Skypeing with Heather and doing a little online house hunting with me. We even managed a pretty good stretching session. During which we talked about how we could get her in and out of the pool and hot tub and I made a brief attempt at carrying Janet from her wheelchair down to the floor of our bedroom and quickly saw that there is no way I’m doing that because even if I got her down I’m not convinced I could get her back up. We read in Slow Dance where the lady was sliding out of her chair and landing on the floor butt first. Janet is not there yet and even if she was the getting back up part is still there. I’m open to suggestions y’all.
After polishing off a hamburger for lunch Janet fought me a little about going for a nap despite the fact she was falling asleep in her wheelchair. For the first time ever that I can remember Janet verbally threatened me. She said, “this will cost you a lot of money” as I was laying her down on the bed. She explained that if I loved her I would let her stay up. I got mad at her for the threat then laid beside for literally two minutes until she was sound asleep. Janet uttered another negative comment during the chat with Heather expressing her lack of confidence in her ability to stand. That one was familiar to former Janet and it could be that she is becoming more understanding of her situation. We got to keep focusing on the positives.
I woke Janet up a couple hours later and she was refreshed and recharged enough to play with Nash, drink half a glass of water then help me make dinner. We decided on linguine and clam sauce and Janet was the biggest help to me in the kitchen to date. With minimal supervision she chopped an onion, opened cans of tomatoes and clams, poured those in the pan for me. Added all the spices to the sauce, chopped peppers, tore lettuce and very casually broke snap peas in half with her thumb. She was very happy with her contribution and to celebrate we enjoyed a 2008 CedarCreek Pinot Noir which also motivated her to drink her water.
During a bio break after dinner I was having a tough time getting Janet’s pants down as she had gotten a little sweaty sitting in the sun. With no prompting she let go of my shoulder and reached down to push the left side of her pants over her hips. High five! That was a huge help and as she played it down I reinforced it as proof the visits to the gym and the stretching are paying off as she could not have done that if her legs weren’t so strong. At bedtime she did it again but in reverse as she helped pull her pants up. Very cool.
As we watched The Voice tonight Janet lounged in her wheelchair which gave a good stretch on her legs while she ate ice cream. Today was not an active day physically but I think Janet’s brain got a decent work out as did her fine motor skills. Praying for lots of rest tonight and a bright day tomorrow.
While reclining in her comfy chair in the living room watching Ellen, Janet gave me a pretty good report on her day so far when I arrived this afternoon. Once again she was very smiley and talkative saying she’d had a good day and that Mary Lou had come to see her and Brian did some awfully hard things with her and she was almost in tears. She mentioned she went to the gym and helped in the kitchen. The staff gave me a more accurate report saying Janet did go to the gym with Lorne then Tez showed up again and that’s where the awfully hard things and tears happened. From the sounds of it Janet had a very good workout again even getting onto her knees and balancing quite well. I notice Janet getting stronger in the legs despite the spasticity holding steady. Brian reported that he had a good session with Janet, taking her to the kitchen where she cut an apple for her afternoon snack.
Brian also mentioned how impressed he was with Janet’s speech volume and her overall alertness and ability to answer his questions. That was reinforced to me when we made a Skype call to Nancy to wish her happy birthday. Janet talked very loud and clear and made some good comments and observations. Probably her best conversation to date.
Continuing in her heightened state of alertness Janet asked if she could go and help with dinner. Garrett was very accommodating in trying to get everyone involved in the meal prep. Janet set the table with a minimum of assistance and seemed ready to do more but there wasn’t anything left to do but eat. She was happy I had some leftover skiing lunch with me and was eating with her. Usually part way through dinner she will ask me “where’s yours?” And I’ll have to explain I’m eating at home. But not today. She made quick work of her fish and chips and vegetables but was not too excited about drinking her water. Garrett has teamed Janet up with Fred and Humberto for dinner menus and prep. They will eat essentially the same meals at dinner and share in the making of them. He also put together a shopping list of groceries for Janet but she declined the invite to go to the store with him tonight.
Winding down to bedtime I read some of Slow Dance to her and she was able to recount the basics of what we read when I asked her right after I stopped. Good to know she’s paying attention and nice to see more improvement of her short term memory. I’m often tempted when reading this book to tell her that similar things happened to her but I don’t want to cause tears. I did ask if she thought any thing similar had happened to her and she said no. Probably a good thing.
Today was another really good day for Janet with a good workout in the gym, some good experience in daily kitchen type activities, good standing transfers and excellent conversational skills. Praying for more healing overnight and a good day of learning tomorrow.