sunshine

Janet, A Success Story. October 9. #TSJ #doctorday

Thursdays are always interesting for Janet, mostly because its the start of her weekend at home. Today she also got to see three doctors before getting home. Jess took her to the clinic right after breakfast this morning to get meds for another UTI. They had to wait quite a while to see the doctor there but Janet said he was nice and she enjoyed chatting with Jess while they waited as there usually isn’t time to sit and talk at Connect.

The next doctor on the list was Dr. Miller at KGH. Since Janet might be attending a Speech Therapy program there after she comes home, we took the opportunity to see how familiar Janet is with the place and if she’s confident enough to make her own way around. I pulled up to the Rehab entrance and followed Janet inside. Erica, the head nurse saw us and came to chat as we were walking in. Janet doesn’t remember her but appreciated her encouraging words. Once inside Janet got a little confused and needed a prompt to head in the right direction. Rob, the physio guy saw her but wasn’t sure it was really Janet. He went ahead of us to Dr. Miller to make sure and was excited that Janet is doing so well. Dr. Miller was his usual upbeat self, although dressed down today. Janet seems to thrive off of his praise and although I was hoping for some detailed strategies to cope with her fear and self doubt, his reassurance to Janet and encouragement to keep doing what she’s been doing resonated with her and may be enough of a boost to push her through these last few weeks at Connect. Janet walked herself freestyle to the Rehab bathroom after the meeting then used her cane and lead me to the outside door where she waited in the sun for me to get the car. While I was gone she had a nice chat with an older lady who was out getting some sun. Awesome to be able to leave Janet do things like that and hope it grows her sense of independence.

Yes, I said weeks for coming home. Hard to believe but there is a very real possibility of Janet being home by the end of November which is only seven weeks away. She is aware of this and is willing to work hard for it. The last doctor of the day was Janet’s GP for a regular check up and to set things up for the lab near our house should Janet need to use it once home. Finally at home, Janet called her own nap time then stood for a long time at the cooktop helping me make dinner. Her stamina for that is growing and she really does appreciate the meals more when she helps out.

Praying for a healing night of sleep and a sunny Friday.

Janet, A Success Story. October 7. #TSJ

Seemingly a bit grumpy, I took Janet out for a nice long walk in the sunshine this afternoon. She didn’t believe me it was warm outside so she refused one last chance at wearing shorts. The sun did her a lot of good though and set her up well for the rest of the evening.

The morning consisted of an intense workout with Curtis that lasted into the usual lunch hour so by the time Janet called me it was after two and she was just heading for a nap. That may have been part of the reason for the grumpiness. Full of sunshine nearing dinner time Janet actually suggested she do her laundry and willingly walked to the laundry room where I coached her through most of the steps. Chelsea was working on her own tonight so while she was busy after dinner I asked Janet to help me clean up the kitchen. After some initial resistance she jumped in and did a good job. There was no Games Night tonight as no one was there to run it. Janet, of course didn’t mind. That time was filled nicely with the kitchen clean up and putting away laundry, things that Janet will do and not realize she’s doing therapy. Her walking tonight was less confident than usual but having to carry things to put them away and turn in tight spaces was really good practice for her and she did well.

Tired after all those chores Janet and I sat with Wes and Chelsea and watched a little of a baseball playoff game. That just made Janet more tired so she got herself ready for bed early. She used to complain when asked to undress and put her pjs on and it is difficult for her but she hasn’t argued with me for a while and is getting better and better at it. Its fun to watch her figure out ways to put things on. The wheels are turning and she’s getting good results.

Praying for a restful sleep and a fun Wednesday.

Janet, A Success Story. September 21. #TSJ

For a weekend with nothing much scheduled, it sure was busy, or at least seemed so.

Janet’s weekend was cane free. She is doing well enough without it that we even left it at home when we went to church Saturday night. There is still a fair amount of grabbing onto furniture and walls when possible, especially when Janet is tired. At her best she will go quite a distance completely free. Speaking of distance, I decided to push Janet this weekend with her 400 meter walk. I haven’t noticed much improvement in her speed and there is still a lot of complaining about being exhausted 200 meters in, so to try and increase her conditioning and to keep her walk interesting, I challenged Janet to do a complete lap of the complex. That worked out to 560 meters on Saturday which was completed in 32 minutes. Janet held my hand the whole way but I did not pull her along at all. Today the lap measured out at 510 meters and lasted 27 minutes. A nice little improvement. I’m not sure this is the right plan of attack and will hopefully consult Tez this week. At least it was something different to do on a nice sunny day and Janet knows now she can walk around the whole neighbourhood. High Five!

The one scheduled event was a visit Saturday morning from Janet’s former pre school boss, Carolyn. One of Janet’s “get out of Connect” goals is to read The Hallo-Wiener to a pre school class and we wanted to meet with Carolyn so she could get an idea of how Janet is doing and make sure its appropriate for Janet to pursue this goal. Carolyn was impressed with Janet’s reading skills and how well Janet is doing overall despite the read not being anywhere near Janet’s best. She was nervous all morning before the visit even to the point that her mom sensed something was wrong during their Skype chat. Janet passed the test though and is scheduled to appear at Carolyn’s pre school October 24th.

One goal may have been achieved this weekend and is awaiting Brian’s approval. To test Janet on the operation of the cooktop I asked Janet to make me a grilled cheese sandwich Saturday afternoon. I recorded it so we can show Brian and he can assess Janet on it. Janet still needs some prompting as to which buttons to press so I’m thinking she may need one more weekend of practice. Same goes with the laundry. We are still developing a good system for Janet to be able to load and unload the washer and drier but she’s learning the controls quite quickly. It could be a double gold medal weekend coming up.

We spent as much time out in the sun as possible this weekend as the forecast shows this to be the last of the sun tanning weather for the year. That included watching the first half of the Seahawks game outside today but I wasn’t able to convince Janet to go for a swim. It was more than warm enough and would have been fun to do on the first day of Fall but she was only interested in the game. Not that that’s a bad thing.

This was a weekend that saw Janet moving around the house and helping out more than ever before and I’m happy she is willing to do so. Her confidence is growing in household activities, we need to foster that same growth in her walking and she’ll be all set.

Praying for a deep and restful sleep and a productive and happy week.

Janet, A Success Story. September 14. #TSJ

As promised, this was a busy weekend and Janet handled it all very well. There was limited time for napping but lately it seems as long as she gets some sort of chance to rest a little she can recharge and function fine for the remainder of the day.

My mom arrived for a weekend visit Friday afternoon having hitched a ride from Nanaimo with her good friends Mo and Betty Ann. It was fun having them here for dinner and Janet really enjoyed the conversation.

Betty Ann, Mo, Janet, my mom.

Betty Ann, Mo, Janet, my mom.


It proved a good set up for our wine club gathering that immediately followed. Janet continues to show a minimum of interest in learning about wine but really enjoys the house full of people and the energy that brings. Saturday we took my mom to the Farmer’s Market and enjoyed roaming around in the sunshine for an hour before bumping into nurse Arlene from Janet’s KGH days seconds after doing the same with Kiko. Arlene reminded us as Dr. Miller has, how meaningful it is for them to see the progress their former patients make. It’s a real motivator for them and hearing positive things from folks like Arlene impacts Janet differently than hearing it from those of us around her every day.

Brian came to the house Saturday afternoon to assess Janet’s abilities with some key activities there and to provide suggestions on how to improve her situation around the house. Our new deck is pretty much finished so there is now just one step from the living area to the deck and Janet is able to negotiate it with a minimum of help. Brian recommends a railing to aid Janet on the way out and some sort of grab bar for the way in. Our handyman will do the railing soon and I’ll scope out a grab bar. Being able to come and go from the deck all by herself will be huge for Janet, providing her with more independence. Coming into and out of the garage is going pretty well right now and only needs one additional grab bar plus some minor adjustments to Janet’s positioning which we practiced with success today. I mentioned Saturday that the goal of loading and unloading the dishwasher has been achieved and operating the cooktop could happen next weekend. The washer and dryer will take a little more practice and maybe something to sit on while Janet transfers clothes from one to the other. Not her wheelchair.

The only long walk Janet got in on Saturday was at church and that went well. I have to remember she’s walking way faster than before so we don’t need to leave the house so early as we end up waiting too long for the service to start. Good problem to have. The evening was rounded out with dinner at home with my mom and Courtney. Janet for some reason got all upset about the idea of going to Menchie’s after, saying she doesn’t like it anymore. Not sure where all the negativity came from and it reminded me of her episode with Tez last week. As soon as she was half way finished her bowl of froyo, the smiles were back.

We drove my mom to Peachland this morning to meet up with her ride back to Nanaimo and enjoyed a nice chat with the ladies in the sun at Bliss Bakery before getting back to the house for the Seahawks game. It was way too nice to sit inside and watch football so we rigged things so we could sit on the deck and watch the game through the windows. Worked fine and also allowed Janet to sit outside to Skype with a bunch of family gathered at Leslie and Gavin’s today. It was cool for her to be able to connect with them all in one shot like that.

There was finally time for a 400 meter walk today and it came when Janet would’ve been better off napping. She pushed through like a pro and went for a nap right after. The rest of the evening seemed rather sombre as Janet knew she was headed back to Connect again. By the time I said goodnight she was virtually asleep and accepting of being there and thankful the week ahead has a routine schedule. Praying for a solid night of sleep that provides lots of energy for Monday.

Janet, A Success Story. September 11. #TSJ

An anxious Janet called me this morning to say she was all done her exercises and could I please come and get her soon. How could I resist? She had had a good morning, working with a much better attitude than the previous day and she was thrilled to be heading home before lunch. We made a few stops along the way looking for new patio furniture to go with our new deck and that gave Janet a chance to walk around stores and parking lots using her cane. She was quite slow during each excursion as she is quite nervous in strange territory. Practice practice.

Once we got home Janet had a good nap after a late lunch before going for her 400 meter walk. We went a slightly different route today so she could stay in the sunshine and again I thought she was rather slow. I led her all the way but she really pulled back on my arm and didn’t seem too confident. At least she did it and if she can keep doing it she should find it gets easier.

Janet managed enough energy to help build pizzas for dinner and we enjoyed a quiet evening and an early bedtime ahead of a busy weekend.

Praying for an uninterrupted night of sleep and lots of energy tomorrow.

Janet, A Success Story. August 24. #TSJ

There may have been some intention of having Janet really work on her walking this weekend but reality was there was too much fun to be had. She was on a high from the radio interview on Friday, (still is), as Saturday got underway with the Mary/Gaga Skype chat which took place during breakfast in the sunshine. After a little tidying up before the arrival of our friends Nancy and Jim from North Vancouver, there was one chance to get some walking in. To warm Janet up we took the dog for a lap around the neighbourhood then filed him away so Janet could focus on walking. We parked her wheelchair outside the garage and I gave her the target of walking to the pedestrian gate and back. A distance of 100 meters each way. Janet started out without her cane and I reassured her she could use it if needed. She didn’t need it until the first leg of the trip was almost done. She then made it all the way back using her cane and walking on pace to do about fifty meters every six minutes, which is very good for her being outside where she is not as confident. I’m confident she can reach her goal of 400 meters in six minutes by sometime in November.

With the work out of the way and a good rest completed our guests arrived and the fun could begin. The rest of Saturday consisted of a glass of wine in the sun, a great church service, a very yummy dinner and good company throughout. Janet did well the whole time mostly listening to the conversation. She was more animated and vocal today especially during a leisurely breakfast that she got waited on for, and she was darn happy about it. We then headed out to a wine tasting at Sandhill Winery and were pleasantly surprised by the experience. Janet and I agreed on our favourite wine and brought a bottle home. Before Jim and Nancy took off on the next leg of their adventure we enjoyed a nice outside lunch with them. Janet and I came away from this visit with friends smiling, laughing and genuinely grateful to have such good people in our lives.
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There was one last piece of work for Janet today and she willingly accepted helping prep dinner. The sun seems to be setting much sooner these days so dinner was inside after a lively discussion about Christmas vacation with the bulk of the family. Looks like we’ve settled on San Diego, now its a matter of locking down a place to stay. Janet is excited but mostly to hang with the family so where we do it doesn’t really matter to her. She was not excited about going back to Connect tonight but was greeted as a celebrity when she walked in and that brought a huge smile to her face. She really believes in and is excited about sharing her story.

Praying for a solid night of sleep and an energetic Monday.

Janet, A Success Story. August 19. #TSJ

Still bothered by her cold, Janet fought through Tuesday valiantly. Tez worked her hard this morning for the better part of two hours and has now instructed the staff to have Janet walk without her cane as much as possible. They are to use his method of “speed walking” whenever they have time to assist her. That involved leading Janet by the hand but at a very fast pace. I did it a few times with her tonight and found her pulling back in a resistance posture too much but her steps with both legs were almost equal. The goal is to improve her gait so that she is taking long strides with both legs and is confident with putting all her weight onto her right leg. There is improvement on that for sure.

Janet had a good nap this afternoon which really helped her get through the evening well. We sat in the sun from as soon as she got up until she was finished dinner. The warmth did her good and after a speedy walk up to Games Night Janet participated reasonably well. We did a speed walk back to her room then I let her cane walk herself to get her meds. By the time she was done her meds and the requisite chocolate, Janet was tuckered out and happily listened as I read to her before saying goodnight.

Praying for Janet’s cold to disappear and for her walking to keep on improving.

Janet, A Success Story. August 6. #TSJ Victoria

The last two days have been very full ones for Janet. Tuesday was travel day, as we drove to Nanaimo fearing we were leaving the sun and warmth behind. Turned out if followed us and we’ve enjoyed beautiful weather the whole time. Janet handled the five hour drive to West Vancouver very well, staying awake the whole time and requesting pee stops without prompting. I got a little nervous on one occasion when Janet asked as we were just motoring past a rest stop and I knew there wasn’t another for at least twenty minutes. She made it though. Trooper.

We had planned on being at Annette’s house in West Van around 1:30 but after leaving late, stopping for bathroom breaks and getting stuck in a traffic backlog from an accident it was three by the time we arrived. Annette presented us with a beautiful lunch on her nice sunny deck and Janet and I enjoyed a good visit before enduring the ferry ride to Nanaimo.

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Since Janet had been sitting for the bulk of the day I made sure she walked as much as possible on the ferry. Once we got to our seats the wheelchair was parked and Janet made a couple trips to the bathroom as well as one long excursion to find a warmer seating area. She did really well considering the number of people she had to maneuver around and the unfamiliar territory she was in. Janet said she was nervous about it but by the end of the ride felt much better about it. In fact she didn’t use her wheelchair at all going back to the car to disembark. Once at mom’s, Janet was happy to enjoy a drink on the patio watching the setting sun before calling it a night.

Wednesday morning came really fast as Janet didn’t sleep well and was up by seven. That was fine though as we were able to take our time getting dressed and having breakfast and figuring out what to do. We settled on driving to Victoria to visit The Butchart Gardens, something my mom hasn’t been to in like forty years, me in twenty eight years and Janet never. It was a beautiful day to be there and a very tired Janet managed to enjoy it and even walk a few times during our visit. Even though Janet was super tired she agreed to go to Victoria Inner Harbour for a quick walk about. It’s gorgeous there and we couldn’t have picked a nicer day to do that.

Showing great stamina and a healthy appetite Janet was all in for a fish taco dinner at Pennys Palapa, a funky little barge on the water right outside from my mom’s building.

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I was shocked Janet cleaned her plate but not surprised she still had room for an ice cream cone after. The fact it was Tiger flavour helped a lot.

So ends a very busy day with a prayer that Janet has a long and restful night of sleep and that we have a safe trip home tomorrow with Brittney and Ethan.

PS. Janet and I ask that you keep our friends Barb and Gary in your prayers over the next few days. Gary is scheduled for open heart surgery at KGH the morning of Monday August 11th.

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Janet, A Success Story. July 30. #TSJ Sky and Water

Summer is time for fun and Janet has had no shortage of opportunities at fun, even though she disagrees on what most would consider fun. Take sailing for example. I think most of us would consider sailing on Lake Okanagan on a warm summer morning to be fun. Janet went this morning but said the only fun part was going for coffee afterwards. Whatever it takes I guess.

Fun opportunity number two today came late this afternoon in the form of a trip back downtown to watch the Snowbirds perform. I know Janet has no interest in things like this but combined with a walk along the lakefront and some street food for dinner it had the potential for fun especially compared to a regular night at Connect. With that in mind Janet made the trek back downtown with a bunch of others from her house and I would meet them and the fun would begin. Well, as it would happen, they were late leaving Connect, traffic was bad, there was no parking in the area we wanted to go to, the plan B area is closed due to an extreme fire hazard so plan C was put into effect. Of course by that time people were hot, the show was about to start and the fun possibilities were limited as the walk along the lake and the street food options were now gone. I promised Janet a nice dinner after and she did her best to “enjoy” the show. She did like the giant heart the team made and sitting in the sun but that was about it.

On your left Janet!

On your left Janet!


I gave Janet the choice of dinner after the Snowbirds were done and she chose to go home and have sushi so we could watch So You Think You Can Dance. Good choice because I doubt we would have gotten into any restaurant this evening as it was super busy everywhere.

Janet was a little drained after all the traveling back and forth, her exercises and being out in the sun a lot today so it was nice to chill at home and watch both of our SYTYCD contestants make it into the top ten. We got back to Connect in time to read a little and Janet was snoring before the end of the chapter.

Praying for a solid night of sleep for Janet and a fun Thursday.

Janet, A Success Story. July 20. #TSJ

You know its’ been hot when you think 28 degrees is cool. That’s what it was this afternoon as Janet and I strolled the beaches in our neighbourhood. We discovered this really cool ramp into the water, with hand rails, at Rotary Beach, so now I just have to convince Janet to “jump” in the lake. Wish me luck.

This past weekend was very relaxing and Janet and I had a lot of time together just hanging out. Friday evening was our Small Group meeting with Annie and Patrick, the only two that have persevered with us and we appreciate them for their openness and willingness to share. Saturday morning was a visit with John, who seems to be doing a little better, then church in the evening which got Janet’s brain wheels spinning and we had a good discussion well into the evening.

That was it for formal events, the rest of the time was spent walking around the neighbourhood, sitting in the sun, walking to do some errands, cooking and watching a little TV. Janet walked around the house a lot and is still doing great with it save for some overthinking when going down the steps into the garage. Going up seems to be much more automatic. She admits to being quite nervous walking still and that makes it more difficult and sweaty. Janet never was much of a sweater but she sure can get it going now when she’s walking on her own.

At home Janet does great in getting herself to the bathroom when she needs to, which is quite often lately. When we are out, she’s not doing so well and I think it’s time for a doctor visit to see what can be done. I don’t expect the GP to have much to offer but I hope we can get a referral to a urologist. In my opinion its definitely a neurological issue, not physical so it may be really tough to treat. It could also just be a temporary set back and that’s what I’m hoping for.

One of the highlights of the weekend was watching the movie Forrest Gump. I don’t know why, but neither of us remembers watching the whole movie before and we so enjoyed it. Janet said there wasn’t a dull moment in the entire film and she was in tears at the end. A strange reaction to liking a movie but touching just the same. Its a lot of fun and actually very special to be able to watch something like that and have Janet totally understand the storyline and get most of the jokes and even remember some of it the next day. Love her.

Praying for a solid night of sleep for Janet and a dry and productive Monday.