There’s certainly been no lack of activity for Janet lately. The weather broke a little late last week and we were able to drive Courtney down to the coast where she left for Honduras yesterday after spending a few days with Ashley. We had dinner with them and Mike, Brittney and Ethan Thursday night then met my mom at Park Royal Friday along with Courtney and Ashley for a really nice visit and lunch.
Courtney, Mom, Janet, Ashley, Me
The ladies after a fun lunch.
This was the first legitimate road trip without the wheelchair for Janet! She did very very well walking everywhere we went, climbing two large flights of stairs at Stefanos and walking for about three blocks twice at Park Royal. The hotel we stayed at was easy for Janet to get around and I never once felt like we missed the wheelchair. She traveled well again and I look forward to our next adventure.
Around the house Janet has been helping out a lot and getting more confident in her abilities. We set some goals for ourselves and that has helped Janet overcome her resistance to a few things. Her big goal for 2015 is to walk without holding onto anything and since setting the goal I only have to gently remind her to let go now. She seems very willing to try for short distances and I hope she can get there but her strength and mechanics have to improve a lot to give her a chance. Janet would also like to be able to vacuum the house, “so you don’t have to”, her words, honest. We’ve yet to try this one but I think it’s achievable as are two others, walk out the front door to the street on her own and get herself ready for bed completely unassisted. The front door one will have to wait for the snow to be gone but the ready for bed one should be reached in a couple weeks. Janet shocked me the other night by managing to undo her bra by herself. That’s always been what I considered impossible but I should know better I guess.
The pool exercises are going well but I miss the workout Janet got on the bike before. I think the cardio aspect of that was a real benefit to her so we are keeping our eye out for a bike to have at home. There just isn’t time for another or an extended trip to H2O. Janet is often reluctant to go but pleased with herself after each visit and can see that she’s improving.
The calendar keeps filling and Janet seems happy with how things are going with the exception of the weather. Hawaii anyone?
IN JANET’S WORDS:
The drive down was fine and there was lots of fog on the road near where we were driving to. It was a bit scary. I managed to climb two flights of stairs at the restaurant we went for dinner at. It was hard work. The next day we met Judy at Park Royal and walked a lot there too which was not fun but the lunch with everybody was. I’m doing better with my exercises at the place I go to. The water was moving really fast this week and that is hard to walk in. Today we went to the place I used to go to and did a little sing along with Deb. I think she had fun and that is what matters. I was glad I wasn’t staying there and it was nice to visit people.
Janet had her first official workout at H2O today. Alyssa had taken her through a routine yesterday to familiarize Janet with the equipment and see what she could do on each piece. The program’s focus is the same as Connect’s with an emphasis on building leg strength and the goal of improving Janet’s walking.
There is no Shuttle machine at H2O so that work will be done on two leg press machines that will be hard for Janet to use as they both pretty much require two legs to work them and Janet’s right leg doesn’t work that way. She’ll give it a try holding out hope that by helping the left leg a little bit the right one might kick into gear more.
The recumbent bike at H2O is way cooler than the one at Connect except for the pedals. This is a recurring problem as every other bike we’ve seen has pedals too small to strap Janet’s right foot onto. Alyssa came up with the idea of putting a band around Janet’s legs to prevent the right one from flailing outward like it wants to. This enables Janet to push harder with her right leg therefore keeping it on the pedal. So far so good and Janet likes the idea of being able to watch tv while riding. Now if there was only anything on worth watching.
Another new piece of equip for Janet surprisingly is a treadmill. H2O has one with a couple of arm supports that let Janet concentrate on taking nice long steps without worrying about balance. It’s a brilliant idea that I think will really improve the mechanics of Janet’s walking.
One other surprise from our visits to H2O so far is that Janet hasn’t uttered the words terrible or awful once. She also accepted the challenge of taking the stairs today instead of the elevator and did great both up and down.
The at home routine is improving as Janet is going to bed at Connect type hours and getting up early enough to have productive mornings. There has been only minor complaining about helping out and no thought of using her cane. On Monday we did a Superstore run and Janet pushed the buggy around the entire store with minimal help. She was exhausted afterwards, it’s a big store, but I could tell she felt good about being able to do it. During her nighttime recap of the day she listed that in a very positive way. I like being able to incorporate therapy into daily activities.
Praying that Janet continues to adjust positively to being at home.
For a Monday, and after her melt down last night, Janet was in a great mood today. Chelsea had her in the gym this morning where I think they did more talking than anything else but Janet enjoyed it. She was happy the whole time I was with her today as well, except for the few seconds I had her walking really fast and during her stair climbing stint.
I tried really hard to let Janet choose her activities today and that always seems to produce a better effort from her. Climbing the stairs was quick and speed walking was great with very little resistance. She can do it. Janet chose to work on her SheLife assignment tonight as well and enjoyed the reading and discussion that resulted. It’s fun when we can incorporate things like that into therapy.
It was a pretty casual day around Connect, you’d think it was a holiday or something. There were no major dinner plans and only four residents to feed so Janet happily made grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone. She stood at the counter and stove for a good twenty minutes assembling and cooking the sandwiches. No complaining about it and she did some awesome flipping too.
Praying for a good night of sleep and the confidence to work hard tomorrow.
The dreaded day of Tez was upon Janet this morning but much to her relief Tez assigned his student to her and that lessened her complaining and she put in a reasonable effort. Janet’s attitude is becoming an issue however so Brian is sending an email to Dr. Miller ahead of Janet’s appointment with him next week to outline the four outstanding goals she is to achieve before coming home and asking for some strategies to help Janet through this final push at Connect.
Once again Janet didn’t nap today and therefore wasn’t that energetic this evening. Games Night was fun and Janet participated well for the most part. The best part of that was her agreeing to walk up the stairs on the way there and surprisingly back down them afterwards. I would have no problem allowing her to navigate the stairwell unsupervised now in either direction and I think Janet would do so going up but she’s still too nervous about the downhill trip. Today wasn’t filled with her best walking ever as she really seemed to be lacking confidence except that by the end of the night she willingly went cane free to get her meds.
In preparation for riding the Handydart one day I had Janet start to fill out the application form. After practicing on some scrap paper a little bit, Janet filled in her name, address and a few other basics in reasonably legible printing. There are some questions we weren’t sure how to answer so will talk to Brian before filling out the rest. I’m glad Janet is willing to try and do some printing now, it wasn’t long ago when her response was, “no, I can’t”.
Praying for an uninterrupted night of sleep and a Wednesday full of confidence.
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.
Happily Janet’s cold seems to be going away. She sounded much better today and had lots more energy. Enough energy to put up a ton of resistance towards helping Chelsea make a cake and for doing any form of exercise tonight even though all she had done during the day was the bike.
When Janet called me this afternoon she excitedly told me how she had just read The Hallo-Wiener to Garrett and Curtis. She was quite happy she was able to do it and admitted she was nervous about reading to an audience. Mary Lou had encouraged her to try as it would be good practice for reading at a pre school. That was the good Janet. Things had shifted dramatically by the time I got to Connect and the majority of our evening was spent “discussing” the many reasons why Janet is at Connect and what her responsibilities are while she’s there. I was disappointed with her seeming lack of desire to help out around there and the false expectation that she should be waited on all the time. Those are very un Janet like characteristics and this was the second day in a row I’ve noticed them. It’s good that Janet is able to assert her feelings and wants but I don’t think its acceptable combined with a complete disconnect for other’s feelings and wants. We reached a resolution when Janet admitted she didn’t want to help with the cake because she feels she won’t be able to help or do enough based on having use of only one arm. When reminded of the good help she’s provided while baking at home she felt better about her situation but in the end only watched Chelsea and cheered her on a little. As far as the exercise goes, Janet finally agreed to do the stairs after realizing that going home on weekends is a privilege that is earned by doing the required work during her days at Connect.
Through it all there was still time for sitting in the sun and going for a nice stroll to watch some soccer before the bedtime reading session which lasted a short twenty minutes tonight as I don’t like reading out loud to myself and a snoring Janet.
Praying for another good night of healing sleep and for Janet to have a positive Thursday.
PS. Janet and I will be on CBC Radio this Friday afternoon just after 5pm PDT. The programme is called Radio West and is broadcast throughout the BC Interior. Thanks to technology, those of you not in our area can stream it live here , if you miss it, I hope to post a recording on this blog over the weekend.
Attitude is everything and Janet had a good one today. As I drove Brittney and Ethan back to New Westminster Janet called me to say she had just done her stair climbing with Curtis and that she went up and down TEN steps! She seemed genuinely pleased with herself and she should be, her goal was three steps set only a couple of weeks ago and already she’s at ten. High five! After the call, Brittney said Janet sounded good on the phone and she’s right. I didn’t really notice it at first but there was a much more confident tone and lots of volume to her voice and she carried the conversation well.
It wasn’t until six o’clock that I made it out to Connect and Janet was sitting out on the patio waiting for me with a big smile and a fist pump. Fortunately for me, her dinner hadn’t been served yet so we had time to visit before dining together. Janet’s confidence level stayed high all evening which enabled her to engage in good conversation with the other residents as well as the staff. She dictated some emails and discussed in depth our weekend as grandparents. It almost seems like she’s reached another level and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues.
Thank you to those of you that prayed for our friend Gary. He made it through the surgery and will be in ICU “a bit longer than usual” so keep praying please.
Praying that Janet gets a good night of sleep and is able to officially check off her stair climbing goal tomorrow.