pool

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. May 31. #TSJ

Being up late last night didn’t deter Janet from getting up early this morning which was surprising to me but I’m glad she did. Mostly because the landscaping committee rang the doorbell at 9:30 and Janet got a say in where some new plants went. Shortly after that we got a call about something we are selling then we walked over to the pool to help clean and set up the furniture and stuff for it as today was opening day. Janet helped me put some stuff away from Wine Club when we got home and by the time noon rolled around it had been a very productive day which meant we could spend the afternoon in the sun.

I tried to convince Janet to go for a swim but she wasn’t buying it despite the air and water temps being right in her range. Hopefully tomorrow. She did do good work on her tan before nap time though.

Our outing to church this evening was Janet’s first without her wheelchair which meant she even walked down the ramp in our garage for the first time. She was a little scared at first but handled it very well. Guess its time for a hand rail.

Pizza, a movie and ice cream rounded out the night and Janet was in bed snoring at a much more reasonable hour. Praying for a long night of sleep that gives Janet lots of energy for a fun Sunday.

Janet, A Success Story. May 1. #TSJ

What a difference going to the pool in summer weather. So much easier as Janet isn’t wearing fifteen layers of clothes to change out of and into and she’s not already cold before getting near the water. There were even bigger differences in her abilities today as opposed to a few months ago when she last went, such as, walking down the ramp into the kiddie pool with me leading then walking up it on her own using the handrail all the way to seating herself in a wheelchair. Walking down the stairs into the hot tub and up again using the handrail with me supporting at the hips. I used to have to carry her into the hot tub. High five!

Today’s agreement was for kiddie pool and hot tub only and I stuck to that as the whole point was to give Janet a safe environment to walk on her own in. It took a little while to get loosened up and confident but after a few attempts and some coaching from Tez Janet walked on her own for five or six steps at a time. She fell a few times and didn’t seem to mind at all and I think that eased her fear a little. For the most part she did a good job of pushing down with her right leg. The experience was good and in talking afterwards Janet was receptive to trying the sling once to compare.

That opportunity came sooner than Janet expected when she walked from her room to the kitchen after a nap to ask Curtis if he would help her before he left for the day. To Janet’s dismay, Curtis agreed. The difference in Janet’s walking in the water and using the sling is night and day so I had to rescind my offer of her choosing one or the other as the sling is just a million times better for her. She is scared and pouted a lot the first attempt but persevered and turned in an excellent walk around the ten foot square the sling allows her to travel in. Janet stood on her own for over five minutes arguing for us to take the sling off not even realizing she was standing on her own. She thinks that somehow it is holding her up and affecting what she does but its all her and on the last lap I think she started to realize that. She put good combinations of steps together, made really nice turns and corrected her balance well a few times. She lost it a few times too and I think started to understand how the sling prevents her from falling and nothing else. After a lot of sweat and hard work Janet completed what will now be a daily routine at Connect for her and should help her to make significant gains in walking on her own.

Having worked so hard today I gave Janet a pass for good behaviour and brought her home tonight. Along the way we stopped at the mall to do some shoe shopping. The lady that built Janet’s AFO stopped by Connect this afternoon and gave some advice as to the types of shoes Janet can wear with the biggest rule being no heals. For casual shoes, pretty much anything that fits will be fine and for the wedding it’s a lot more complicated. Janet is wanting a dressy shoe for that but is restricted by needing pretty much the whole shoe to open up in order to get it on her AFO. We found some that were close, one pair actually went on but just weren’t stylish enough for her. We may try more tomorrow.

Praying for strengthening of Janet’s right leg and confidence to keep working hard.

Janet, A Success Story. April 29. #TSJ

Another busy walking day for Janet with lots of time to warm up for it though. Jess took her and Angie to a nursery to buy some plants and herbs for the patio at Connect. Janet says it wasn’t fun but I’m sure it was better than being in the gym and it was sunny outside.

Tez had agreed to meet with Janet and I late this afternoon and Janet called me to confirm that appointment. I asked her to be rested up for that and when I got to her room she actually was asleep. Our meeting with Tez was quite helpful and insightful and hopefully gave Janet some confidence to keep working at this walking thing. She demonstrated walking with the cane, using me as the cane with me leading her and walking beside her. There was also a reluctant attempt at free walking so Tez could see first hand Janet’s entire repertoire. He was impressed and lamented that the sling at the parallel bars would be the best tool for Janet to use right now but she “hates” it and I don’t think we’ll get her in it but will try. In the meantime, Janet has agreed, quite readily, to meet Tez at the pool Thursday morning to do some walking in the warm water of the kiddie pool. A big part of Janet’s challenge is fear/confidence and Tez feels that a few falls with no risk of injury could help. Should be fun.

The few times Janet has used the Tilt Table she’s complained quite vociferously that it hurts and she’s not going on it again. I suggested she ask Tez if she needs to be doing it during today’s meeting and she did. Fortunately Tez had time to respond with “lets see you in it and we’ll go from there”. Janet walked to the Den with me leading and stepped onto the table reasonably well and Tez tried a few different positions to maximize the benefit for Janet. The end result is, yes, she needs to be doing it but now in a different manner than previous. Janet will be at ninety degrees with a safety strap at chest height and no support at her legs at all. In addition to no leg support she is to do some foot raises and side stepping while standing and stay in the thing for as long as possible. Tez wants to tire her right out with everything she does now, including walking. What was going to be a short let’s see what you look like session turned into a twenty minute workout for Janet and a good learning session for me and Jess. Janet rather smugly ended the session herself by undoing the velcro strap and stepping forward right to the edge of the table before grabbing me for her step down to the floor. She then impressed us all with a nice unassisted step to and turn to sit on the couch.

A tired Janet walked out to the lobby with me leading, got in her wheelchair and went to the gym for a Shuttle workout. I agreed to shorten the session based on all the walking and standing she’d just done and focussed on the right leg. Janet did well and never complained. After a toilet break we walked down to the dining area for dinner. Janet did complain a little along the way but persevered. With the sun still shining after dinner, Janet took a well deserved break in it’s warmth.

Ahhh

Ahhh


Games Night always produces a pouting session with tonight’s being much less than previous and Janet did very well with a lot of the questions given to her. She still came away saying “it’s stupid” but she’ll be back next week “just to watch”.

I meant to have Janet walk down to get her meds but she preempted me and arrived in her wheelchair struggling to find that word, meds, in her head. There has been an increase in her inability to find key words when speaking and it may have something to do with a high level of Dilantin in her system. Jess took her for a blood test this morning and Janet’s levels are very near the top of the therapeutic range for the second week in a row. I asked her doctor to seek the opinion of Janet’s neurologist, Dr. Adams and she agreed. No change in dosage until we hear from him.

While Curtis was getting Janet’s meds I had her get ready to walk back to her room and left her standing at the door to the med room while I parked her wheelchair. On her own, loosely hanging onto some shelving, Janet walked six feet into the room to get her meds from Curtis who was as surprised as me. Maybe she’s gaining confidence? Holding my hand to turn around to come back out of the room she forgot to step once and came very close to falling. A good lesson learned I hope. The walk to her room was very good considering how tired she was. Not tired enough to miss out on some Easter chocolate, some reading then ready for bed. It all caught up to her once she was tucked in and she was sleeping minutes later.

Praying for a night of healing sleep and lots of energy tomorrow.

Stop and Go. A back and forth week for Janet. #TSJ

Early on in this journey I referred to what Janet and the rest of us were going through as a roller coaster. That analogy still applies but thankfully the peaks and valleys aren’t quite as dramatic or long lasting as they used to be and Janet’s rate of ascent is steady.

Her most obvious gains continue to be seen in the gym and during physical activities in general. Janet’s reluctance to go to the gym continues but her resistance to it is less dramatic and I’m hoping she’s starting to notice the positive results herself. I’m with Janet mostly for her bike riding sessions and can report that each day she sets a personal best for distance travelled. Today she made it .71 miles. Her rides are thirty minutes long with the focus on building speed in the hope of being able to add more resistance at some point as that would mean a significant increase in her leg strength. Janet’s tolerance for the standing frame isn’t improving much from what I’ve seen with those sessions maxing out at forty five minutes to an hour.

20130606-001609.jpg
There is tremendous value to it though and we saw a great example of that over the last couple of days. Monday night I was unable to get the frame set up optimally for Janet so she had a very short session. When I got her into bed and stretched her legs out as I always do they were very stiff. Tuesday night with Curtis’s help we got things set up nicely and Janet had a good long session standing nice and straight. Her goodnight leg stretch was a hundred percent better and I made sure she knew it. Since the installation of the stripper pole in her room Jess has been working with Janet on transferring from bed to wheelchair and vice versa using the pole.

20130606-001124.jpg
As Janet gains strength she’s getting better and better at the transfers. I still do a pivot transfer with her but no longer have to carry her weight as much as I used to and she can let herself down into her chair using the arm rest. My arms and back are liking this improvement. The team continues to work with Janet on sit to stands at the parallel bars and I’m noticing nice improvements in her ability to get up out of her wheelchair because of that work. All this exercise is paying off for sure and to prove it, Janet for the first time I know of rolled all the way over from one side of her bed to the other today! This may not sound like much but when you consider all the muscles you need to use to accomplish a move like that its very impressive for Janet. It wasn’t long ago that laying on her tummy would start her crying and she pulled off today’s maneuver with relative ease. High five!

Personal bests are also being reached in the pool with Janet now able to swim one length on her tummy. We haven’t yet figured out how to get her to breath so she can swim longer but its pretty exciting she can go that long holding her breath and propelling herself that far. Her right leg continues to mostly do its own thing in the pool and is impeding her progress for sure. I’m looking at ways to help her regain control of it but don’t see anything obvious. Janet’s attitude towards the swimming sessions remains positive but she is much more excited about hot tubbing, even asking a couple of times this past weekend if we could go. I feel truly blessed to have the ability to provide that for Janet as it is so therapeutic in so many ways. I’ve noticed and increase in the range of motion for her right shoulder and arm as well as her wrist and attribute that to the hot tub. Walking in the pool remains a challenge due to the uncooperative right leg but we practice each session and Janet is still willing to work hard at it. This past Monday after a good walking session I wanted her to swim on her back a little but she couldn’t. Seems she totally forgot how and it wasn’t till the next session that she figured it out again. Weird.

So far I’ve told you lots of positive things so let’s do some negatives now. Janet’s chronic constipation got to her again this past weekend and we ended up with a nice long visit to the ER because if it. The doctor was unable to get anything to move that night so put Janet back on the Resotran that had just run out a couple days prior. It works great and Janet is for now going regularly but the problem is not solved and we continue to wait for this illusive “urgent colonoscopy”. Restoran is not a drug you want to be on long term as your body can become dependent on it and you may not regain control yourself ever and that would not be cool. Pray for the colonoscopy and a visit to the GI unit soon. KGH treated us well that night although slow and I found it a little surprising to be driving home in the daylight at 4:15am. This past Tuesday we finally had our meeting with Dr. Adams the neurologist. He ordered an EEG for Janet just prior to our appointment with him and it was really cool to see how that is done. Janet had twenty nine electrodes on her head as they measured the various electrical discharges from her brain. Dr. Adams confirmed there are some epileptic discharges occurring so he is keeping her on the Dilantin probably forever. That’s not the news I was hoping for but at least now we know and we also know there is no other drug out there obviously better than Dilantin. My concerns have diminished as Janet is making cognitive gains and the side effects have diminished since she got into a therapeutic range with that drug. Dr. Adams described Janet as high risk for another seizure but is confident the Dilantin is working as she’s been seizure free for five months now. He does not see a need for Janet to visit or have an EEG on a regular basis but made himself available on an as needed basis. I liked him and was impressed he remembered us from five months ago.

Back to the fun stuff. On Friday we enjoyed a nice lunch visit with Jim and Nancy Church, long time friends from North Vancouver, always good for a laugh and intelligent conversation.

20130606-001246.jpg
We also had a voice call with my youngest daughter Brittney who lives in Edmonton and I was impressed with Janet’s conversational skills during that call. She was loud and articulate and seemed genuinely pleased to hear from Brittney. On Saturday we realized that only two of the dresses in Janet’s closet fit her and neither is wedding appropriate so Laurel has agreed to shop around for something Janet can wear to her and Raj’s “wedding” here in July. Janet is excited to finally be a part of her daughter’s nuptials.

20130606-001437.jpg
Sunday started late after spending the night at KGH then we had to try and get some Resotran for Janet and Jen from Connect was a huge help with that. While we were out there I put Janet through her paces on the bike and standing frame and she did very well at both considering how tired she was. Back at home she really wanted to finish watching Les Miserables after it was interrupted to go to the ER, so we did and Janet was surprisingly tuned in to it. She even caught a line that I missed. Impressive. We both were in tears by the end of course but thoroughly enjoyed it. Monday was a great outside day. We had lunch outside after swimming then went for a really nice walk that evening at Connect. Janet was able to play I Spy much better than the last time we tried and really enjoyed the warm evening. She went to bed very giggly in her new bed that night. Tuesday was Skype day with calls to Mary Gaga, Andrew and a special one to Heather on her birthday. Janet impressed me by explaining to Heather how sorry she was for not getting her a present yet and that she is getting one soon. She did that all on her own and with great conviction. Nice.

The week ahead is setting up to be fun and busy. I’ve switched Janet’s swimming from Friday to Thursday so we can go to Nanaimo for the weekend, then there is the usual Monday swimming followed by a trip to the dentist. I think I’ll have a very tired Janet on my hands by Monday evening. Praying for continued physical healing and cognitive gains and thanking Jesus for all we’ve been blessed with.

20130606-001748.jpg

A Fish Like Janet. Video of Janet swimming today. #TSJ

Many thanks to Joel and Kiko for hanging with us at the KGH Rehab pool today to cheer Janet on in her swimming sessions.

20130527-220941.jpg
Here are a few videos expertly shot by Joel so you all can see just how well Janet is swimming on her back. At the end of today’s sessions we tried a little face in the water while lying on her tummy action and she conquered that challenge easily. I was even scared a couple times at how long she was keeping her face in the water. The confidence continues to build.

20130527-221915.jpg

Water Baby. Lots of pool time for Janet. #TSJ

Janet must’ve known it was Monday as she was in no hurry to get up this morning which normally would be OK but we had an appointment before swimming today so up she had to get. Her right leg on the other hand stayed asleep most of the day. In the pool it was doing its own thing most of the time despite a real effort from Janet. She did manage some good balancing and floating and over all both pool sessions were worth the trip. Even more worth the trip was a reunion with nurse R J as we passed by the Rehab nurses station. He was very excited to see Janet and could not believe she was talking to him. He was as excited as a little kid on Christmas morning and Janet thought the whole thing quite funny.

Unsure of what to do for lunch and with Janet announcing she had to go to the bathroom once we were in the car, I decided to take her home for the bathroom break and a quick lunch. I really need to stop referring to meals as quick with Janet as they never are. It was three o’clock by the time we were done and Janet was clearly getting quite tired. She would have nothing to do with the idea of a nap either at Connect or home but I offered to lay down with her and she accepted that. Asleep within five minutes and still sleeping at 4:30 I called Connect to say we’d be back after dinner. When she woke up after five Janet was refreshed and totally up for a hot tub. That warm water worked its magic on Janet again as I was able to get excellent stretches on both legs and some good work on her right arm and shoulder. With the cooler air temperature and the fact we weren’t in the overheated pool before going to the hot tub we were both able to stay in longer than yesterday and Janet was very relaxed when we got out. Her right leg seemed a little more responsive towards the end of the session and while doing some squats I could feel that leg working a little. Janet later executed some really strong standing transfers that I think even she was happy with.

No longer rushing to get back to Connect we had a good Skype chat with Andrew then a decent dinner before making the half hour drive to Lake Country. Bob had a good basketball game on when we got there so we stayed up too late and watched that but Janet wasn’t really that tired until the end. Regulation time ended at around 9:15 or so and I tried to fool her saying the game was over but she knew it was going into overtime and so she got to watch the whole thing.

Lots of time in the water today, a fun reunion with R J, a nice chat with Andrew and an extended stay at home made for a fun day for Janet. Praying for a good night of sleep and healing and a productive day tomorrow.