Thorough Thursday #TSJ

Janet was hard at work in the gym when I arrived this afternoon. This was Simon’s first day working with her and he was getting some good results. Garrett had Janet in the gym in the morning to do a good stretching routine and now she was back for a more active workout session. Simon had her doing some leg exercises then Tez came in and helped get Janet onto her tummy for a hamstring stretch and some more on command leg movements. Then came the big test. Yesterday Tez had Janet kneeling on her own a little bit so he was going to try that again. With Garrett watching her back, Tez lifted Janet to a sort of push up position on her way to kneeling. We noticed how strongly Janet was pushing with her left arm so Tez decided to try and have her do a push up. The tears started immediately and Tez let her down a little and Janet responded by pushing part way up. You couldn’t call it a push up but there was an effort there for sure. On her knees the tears were still flowing as they would for the rest of the workout. Undeterred and knowing the tears were a lack of confidence rather than pain, Tez and Garrett gradually let go of Janet until she was kneeling completely on her own. She was able to lift her head and straighten her back so she was up nice and tall. Very impressive and according to Tez, much improved over yesterday. Simon held out some colored pieces of paper an arms length away from Janet and she was able to reach out, grab them and pass them off to me on her left side. Major high five! She cried each time she did it but again, not from pain. At least that’s what she told us. Finally sitting on the edge of the table mat, Janet could relax a little. But not for long. I had told Tez I was doing mainly standing transfers with Janet and he wanted to see her stand as he was surprised to hear she was “stepping” with her left leg. Considering how tired Janet was she stood really well with me, impressing Tez enough that he pulled out a couple of scales and placed them under each of her feet and asked her to stand again to see how much weight she was carrying herself. The left leg registered about forty five pounds and the right leg not quite half that. Pretty darn good and more than Tez thought she could do. One final task for Janet was to transfer herself from the table mat to her wheelchair using the sliding board. Janet didn’t understand how to get onto the board but once she was there it was an easy slide onto the chair. Visibly relieved, her gym day was over and she wheeled her way out and left me chatting with Simon and Tez.

I found Janet in her room ready for a bio break. Success. Our before dinner activity was reading a card and looking at some photos that Gillian had sent us as a thank you from her wedding. Janet surprised me by reading a fair number of the hand written words in the card and a little of the inscriptions on the backs of the photos. When she first started reading I noticed she was only reading the first two or three words on each line so I had her follow along with her finger and she was able to go seven or eight words before losing focus. She did a good job of identifying people in the photos, even Gillian’s husband Josh, whom she’s never met. There’s that improved short term memory again.

Dinner was a fail tonight. Beef stew which I knew would be a challenge and I tried to convince her she liked all the ingredients. No go. I rescued her with half a peanut butter sandwich and a bowl of pears. She is looking forward to making pizza at home tomorrow.

Back in her room it was time for a birthday Skype with Laurel. Janet very loudly and clearly sang Happy Birthday to her right off the top of the call and carried on a good conversation for almost half an hour. Janet is no longer rambling on about nothing. When she does ramble it’s because she is stuck on a word and she is clearly trying really hard to say something constructive. She is even getting mad at herself a little now when she can’t find the right word. So far it is all with a smile on her face. Speaking of smiles, there was another noticeable improvement today. Since very near the beginning of all this I have been randomly trying to tickle Janet, notably at her armpits where she used to be quite sensitive. Up until this evening I had gotten no response. Someone taught Janet to raise her left arm when she is coughing to help her cough bigger. She was doing that tonight and I tried to tickle her and got an immediate pull away reaction with her telling me “stop that, it…” she couldn’t find the word but agreed with tickles. Not sure of the significance but I’m taking it as a positive.

Janet did most of her bedtime prep herself and before I was half way through our prayer I felt her hand relax and she was asleep. Quite the day. Janet is showing signs of improvement in a lot of areas and I think gained some confidence the last couple of days. Praying for a restful and healing night and a fun day of learning before heading home for the weekend tomorrow.

Wonderful Wednesday #TSJ

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.

Month Eight #TSJ

Day 246 was a good one for Janet. Lorne and Garrett worked with her this morning in the gym and with some Speech. She didn’t fall out of bed or her wheelchair and ate well. When I arrived she was waiting in the living room to go back to the gym with Tez. The guys were updating Janet’s chart and agreed that she needs to be on a regular toileting program. I talked to nurse Jen about that later on and she will develop a routine so Janet gets plenty of opportunities to go to the bathroom. Today was much better in that regard. Lorne and Garrett also started making up a bunch of side dishes for Janet to eat so she gets more vegetables and then the only thing that needs to be cooked at meal time is the protein. Food has been a challenge and will continue to be until Janet passes that swallow X-ray. No word yet as to when she gets a chance but the word has been put out to Connie to see what’s happening.

Janet failed the “who am I” test again but caught on quicker today for sure. We played an expanded version of it at bedtime and she did really well naming family members except her own kids. Usually she nails those easily but tonight it was everyone but. Still waiting for Tez we played a naming game on the iPad and Janet did reasonably well after getting two or three clues. She definitely knows things once she sees the word the problem is in pulling that word out of her memory bank on its own.

Tez was finally ready for Janet around three o’clock and he worked her pretty hard again. This was another training opportunity for the staff and Tez wanted to add some more hand, arm and shoulder exercises so there is a solid routine for those in the mornings and one for legs later in the day. Janet’s right arm continues to be nice and loose and Tez got some good range from it and even though Janet cried you could see improvement from last week. Tez got Janet to hold her right hand with her left and intertwine her fingers then lift her arms up high. Janet was straining hard to touch Tez’s hand about a foot and a half above her chest but she did it!

Getting Janet on her tummy was a challenge today as she was pretty worn out from the arm workout she had. Tez only kept her there long enough to get her doing some pushing back with her legs as he applied resistance. From there we got Janet on her knees again and she really seemed thrilled once she got there. It took a tremendous effort on her part as Tez had everyone back off on supporting her so she was doing almost all of it herself. Excellent effort.

The next stage in transferring for Janet is going to be using a circular pivot board that Janet will stand on, spin, then sit. We tried it a couple times and its still really hard for Janet to do on a regular basis but will be incorporated into her workout.

Finally Janet got to try the Shuttle Machine. This is a piece of equipment I noticed as something Janet could maybe use when we first toured Connect. As you can see from the video she caught on real fast. Using this regularly will really help Janet build some strength in her legs.

After all that it was time for a bathroom break followed by a Skype session with Mary/Gaga and Keith. Janet was able to converse reasonably well and I think enjoyed the chance to see and talk to them both. Dinner was a massive bowl of puréed spaghetti and meat sauce. It looked disgusting but Janet gobbled it up then enjoyed a desert of “yummy” pears.

It is truly amazing to think back eight months and see just how much progress Janet has made. Seeing her “kneeling” and “standing”, working on that Shuttle Machine, talking, laughing and eating well is truly a blessing. Thank you Lord for every minute I get to spend with her and for the healing you are bringing to her. Thanks to all of you for the prayers, love and support. #Team Save Janet

Looking Up

Houdieno was at it again last night. This time she got out through the gap in the rails on the right side of the bed around 10:30. Bob found her and Janet thought the whole thing was pretty funny. When I asked about it today she tried telling me why she did it but I couldn’t understand what she was saying. Brian and I chatted about it and agreed that blockading her in even more is not the answer. We need to find out why she wants to get out and help her from there.

Lorne gave me a run down on Janet’s morning saying they let her sleep in till nine as she didn’t sleep very well last night. After breakfast Garret took her to the gym for some stretching and Lorne did some speech with her before Mary Lou happened by for another session with Janet.

It was a pretty busy first half of the day and that trend continued after I arrived. Damian was with Janet when I got to her room. He works with Dr. Miller and will be monitoring Janet’s cognitive and psychological improvements. I was able to have a good talk with him to give him a clear understanding of where Janet is now. We then headed off to the gym with Tez and Bob for a video recording session. The stretches Tez wants the staff to do with Janet are all recorded into a folder on the gym computer so each staff member can watch before working with Janet so they are all doing the same thing.

Tez really worked Janet’s right arm and shoulder and found significant improvement since her seizures and said sometimes seizures can actually change things for the better. Janet cried a couple of times but hung in there really well. When Tez was done his part he coached Bob through each stretch and I recorded the video. We moved on to Janet’s legs after that and found them to be unchanged so Tez decided to try and get Janet onto her tummy so he could stretch her hamstring better. With Janet doing most of the work, we got her onto her tummy surprisingly easily and she tolerated being there for a good fifteen minutes undergoing some really good hamstring work. Janet was doing so well that Tez decided to go for a big finish. From her tummy and with Bob holding the back of her knees, Tez and I lifted her to a kneeling position supported only by her left hand on my shoulder. We all were so impressed with her and I think she was too as when I asked her to look up at me she did so and started crying. She said she wasn’t hurting or anything and I think they were tears of joy. After a few minutes on her knees it was an easy flip and she was sitting on the side of the bed and feeling pretty good after a tough workout.

Deserving of a rest Janet chose to hang out in the living room watching TLC for an hour then having a late dinner. We stayed in the living room to eat while watching some basketball. Janet really was watching the tv I noticed and answered a lot of my questions correctly as to what was happening both in the TLC programs and the game. At one point I was in the kitchen talking to Bob when Clint motioned for me to come back to the living room. I saw Janet 80% out of her wheelchair and 20% onto the couch. I stood her up as straight as I could and she “took a step” towards to couch. I was holding most of her weight but she moved her left leg in a definite walking move and dragged her right one behind heading for the couch. It made me feel really confident she will walk one day and I told her so. Bob agrees and said we are still really early in all of this and Janet will improve a lot. She was so into the basketball game that she didn’t want to go for her shower until it was over. Nicole was working for the first time with Janet tonight so I helped get Janet ready for the shower which allowed me to see just how well she tolerates that task. The room is nice and warm and the shower chair is very comfy. No wonder she comes away smiling unlike at KGH.

Janet agreed it was a really good day for her and promised to get a good nights sleep in bed, not on the floor and she even told me she could push the button for help if needed. Good signs. Praying for rest and healing and thanking Jesus for the great day and all the great help from the Connect crew.