This has been quite the busy week for Janet, full of accomplishments and adventure. Each day can show improvement in many areas but can also show the lack of progress in others. The trend however continues upward.
Speaking of up, Janet now has two stripper poles in her room and she is using them to stand up virtually unassisted. All she needs is some prompting to get started and once she’s up, some help in stepping or pivoting to her wheelchair, bed or toilet. The staff work with Janet daily both in the gym and her room practicing her sit and stand moves and its really paying off. Alana kindly trained me today so I can incorporate pole transfers into my time with Janet so she gets even more practice and I get less wear and tear on my back and arms. In the gym, the bike has been out of commission for a few days but Tez feels she’s ready to ramp up the leg strengthening program and has put her back on The Shuttle. Curtis took Janet there last night and reported a very successful return to the machine that caused so much stress before. Janet was able to do way more than previous, proving her increased leg strength. Hopefully she remembers that and continues to build on it. The staff continue to stretch Janet daily as well and I continue to do so in the hot tub with good results. The Botox does seem to be wearing off and I can see another dose or two in Janet’s future. Despite the diminished Botox affect, Janet is able to stand nicely in the standing frame although she doesn’t enjoy it one little bit. We try and get her in there every evening for as close to an hour as she’ll tolerate and she is being very cooperative about it. Again, I hope she recognizes the benefits and keeps it going.
The one form of exercise Janet continues to thoroughly enjoy is swimming. She tries to tell me she’s not excited about going but every time she hits the water there’s a big smile on her face and all the tension leaves her body. Swimming on her back is her favorite and with my help in turning she can do ten lengths before showing any signs of tiring. On her tummy she’s easily doing a length with no shortage of breath. Janet is turning into a bit of a celebrity at the KGH pool as she was being loudly cheered on by the folks waiting for their turn on Thursday and swam so well that even pool man Jim praised her when we got out and he hardly ever says a thing. On Monday I tried having her stand on her own, take a big breath, put her face in the water then push off with her legs. First time and every time she took off swimming like a fish no problem at all. The standing part only lasts a second of course but its long enough for her to take a big breath and go. High five! Walking with control of her right leg continues to be a struggle and I’ve switched methods to where I’m bringing her right foot along while she moves and steps with the left. At least she gets the rhythm of walking and we can make it the whole length of the pool like that. I’ve even had her try it on land a couple of times and its worked well but I want Tez to see it before I do it anymore with her just to ensure I’m not risking an injury. We haven’t been in our pool at home too much yet as Janet oddly enough prefers the hot tub and that’s fine with me as she benefits from that immensely.
I seem to spend a lot of time talking about Janet’s physical recovery so lets see if I can focus on the cognitive for a bit here. A couple of things stand out right away, most notably her conversational skills. More and more often now Janet will initiate a conversation either by asking a question or making an observation and she’ll often give very intelligent if not correct answers to your questions now too. The various Skype chats she participates in each week show this. One with Cam last week and one with her mom yesterday went particularly well. Janet even remembers portions of those chats now a couple of hours later. I find her to be less likely to converse when there’s lots of people around but she does enjoy listening to others chatter and I think will gain the confidence to jump in eventually. Her voice may be getting slightly louder now and she is talking more intelligently. As long as she is reasonably awake I can talk to her a little bit in the car where before there was no chance of hearing her. I was shocked to see how well Janet can write now. The last time I tried with her she was doing a lot of loop de loops for everything but when asked to write Heather’s birthday card she produced this on the envelope and an equally good job on the inside.
Janet was very determined to write the card for Heather and it was that determination that made her attempts successful. I had her practice only a half dozen times or so and could clearly see she had the idea. Printing is much better than writing for her and she needs to work on how she holds the pen. Janet says she hasn’t been practicing but obviously she has and its working. I took Janet shopping for Heather’s birthday present and she did a great job of looking at all the options and deciding what would be best for Heather. She even showed genuine concern for the amount of money being spent. That was nice to see and is very much the former Janet.
Along with the successes in the pool and gym Janet had a good adventure this past weekend as we took a roadtrip to Nanaimo to visit my mom. The four hour drive to Horseshoe Bay was easy as Janet slept most of the way.
The ferry ride to Nanaimo was alright save for a little toileting issue. We arrived at mom’s in time for happy hour and later enjoyed a nice walk on the pier where the yachts participating in the Van Isle 360 were tied up for the night.
We enjoyed the hot tub in mom’s building before lounging a little leading into bedtime each day so all weekend Janet never missed her leg stretching opportunities. Saturday saw us all head south to Duncan for lunch and a visit with our friends Terry and Joy formerly of Kelowna and CedarCreek Estate Winery.
Terry is now Vineyard Manager at Averill Creek Estate Winery and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit and the tastings there. Who knew the Island would have such a beautiful winery with some pretty decent wine?
A very enjoyable afternoon! Mom joined us for the ferry ride back to Horseshoe Bay on Sunday and we met Ashley for lunch before the long drive to Kelowna. What a nice surprise to be able to sit outside in the sun in North Van!
The drive home was good with Janet being quite chatty for the first couple hours and nice and sleepy the rest of the way. Janet went for her first hot tub in the dark when we got home and that was a very relaxing way to end a fun weekend.
Monday was back to reality day. I did let Janet sleep in and her pool sessions were very strong. Unfortunately for her she had a dentist appointment right after swimming but she was a good patient and allowed so much work to be done that her next appointment has been shortened as a reward. In between the pool and dentist Janet very seriously thanked me for “the grand program” I have us on. I wasn’t sure what she meant at first but she said it was for taking her to all these appointments and things. That was very sweet.
After a well deserved nap at home and with the dental freezing worn off Janet and I enjoyed a nice dinner outside then reluctantly headed back to Connect. It was such a beautiful evening and we were enjoying it so much it was very hard to get motivated and out the door. Janet very gamely got into the standing frame once we got there and lasted a decent thirty minutes. The stripper pole had been installed in her bathroom while we were away and on the first attempt Janet observed that “it’s too far from the dance floor”. I’ve no idea where that came from but it was hilarious. Saying goodnight that night was tough as I was enjoying being with Janet more so than usual.
Jess and the staff often have challenges getting Janet to nap in the afternoons still and they know Janet will only do so if I lay down with her sometimes. To make things easier for her, Jess made a drawing of my face and taped it to the extra pillow on Janet’s bed. I like the resemblance and Janet likes having me with her all the time.
Today was another solid day for Janet as was the whole week. I continue to pray for complete healing and for continued increase in confidence and strength.