It’s been a fairly busy time since our last post. We have started attending a weekly seminar called Living With Stroke put on by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and lead by a former nurse and a stroke survivor. Each week focuses on a different aspect of post stroke life and attendees share their experiences with the group. So far it’s been quite positive and Janet has been willing to share when appropriate and is enjoying the conversation. This week’s session was on Physio Therapy and I thought Janet would have been all over that topic but I had to prod her to say something a couple times. The last two years of her life have been focused on physio so maybe she’s fed up talking about it. Understandable. One of the other attendees lives right around the corner from us so we’ve been giving her a ride during which she has shared a lot of her story and that has intrigued Janet and I think made her feel a little better about herself. It’s always good to be reminded that she’s not the only one out there.
That seminar is every Tuesday morning and Janet usually manages a trip to H2O every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning plus has SheLife Wednesday evenings so you can see how her weeks are pretty full. The outings to H2O are becoming more challenging to make happen. Partly because of the gloomy weather we’ve been having here and partly because it’s a whole lot of effort to get out the door then get changed then get wet and do it all again in reverse with Janet not really seeing the benefit and not having any fun unless there are some well behaved little kids in the pool with us. I’m seeing improvements in her walking, her left foot now comes more forward each step than previous. Janet doesn’t see that however and is complaining more and more about going. I’ve shortened the workout to just walking in the river as I think that has the biggest benefit to her followed by a stretch in the hot tub. Janet is now walking on her own both with and against the current as long as it’s not flowing too quickly.
Working out in the pool has its benefits for sure but the fun factor seems to have worn off and Janet is noticeably missing the cardio workout she got on the bike at Connect. We happened across a decent exercise bike for the house the other day and Janet has willingly ridden it a few times now. She can watch TV or listen to a podcast or music while she’s riding and best of all she doesn’t have to leave the house to do it. We plan on consulting with Alyssa at H2O next week and may shift the workout priority to the bike and reduce the visits to H2O. I don’t think its fair to keep pushing Janet to do stuff she doesn’t want to do.
Pedalling with Ellen and J Lo.
Socially Janet is doing well getting reacquainted with the ladies at SheLife and we were blessed with an invitation to dinner at our neighbour’s house tonight. Janet contributed well to the conversation and is showing more signs of an improving memory. She bettered me today when we were talking with Debra at Connect. Debra has a tough time talking and was struggling to answer my question as to when her move out date is. In frustration she drew something in the air that Janet immediately recognized as the number 15 and knew Debra meant she’s going home February 15th. The air writing didn’t register with me at all and Janet is still laughing about that tonight.
Mary Lou was quite pleased with Janet’s speech abilities and participation level in their session this morning. I was surprised as Janet seemed to be quiet and talking a lot of Klingon with me. I came back to her room just as they were wrapping up and Mary Lou had Janet sing Row Row Row Your Boat for me and she did so nice and loud and clear.
Lunch was a bowl of vegetable soup and some med laced fruit lax. I was impressed with Janet’s ability to eat after the shape she was in yesterday. We then headed back to her room to wait for a visit from Brian the OT. Garret brought Janet’s laundry in while we were waiting so I had Janet try and put it away. She was definitely more confused than normal but was very willing to try and put things in the right places. Brian arrived in the middle of all this and watched Janet finish the job. We decided it would be good to label the drawers and cupboards to help Janet remember where things are. Brian then spent about twenty minutes with Janet trying to assess what her understanding of her situation is. He found it difficult to comprehend Janet today and I attribute that to still being in recovery mode from yesterday and hoping its not the anti seizure med. One of the side effects is confusion so we’ll have to see how this plays out over the next few weeks. Brian also commented on Janet’s vision challenges. I had planned on meeting with our eye doctor yesterday but that appointment got preempted so as long as Janet remains stable I will try and meet with him next week to discuss a vision test. I actual left to do some work around the house before Brian did his thing with Janet and before I left we agreed that he would put her into nap mode when he was done. We discussed getting rid of the hospital bed and decided that we would start eliminating bed rails to see if Janet can safely be in bed without them. Brian tucked her in and left the two lower rails down. He left the room at 2:10, Garret checked on Janet at 2:45, she was in bed but not asleep. Garret walked past ten minutes later and Janet was on the floor. Houdieno returns! She was fine, just a little scared and we had a good talk about it when I returned and Janet seems to think she can get out of bed whenever she wants to. She later demonstrated a similar feeling towards her wheelchair as she made two good efforts at getting out of it after dinner. Apparently our idea of a regular bed is a little premature. Oops.
Janet was getting up from her nap, she eventually did have one, when I returned at 4:30. She was being helped by Curtis who used a straight on pivot move to get Janet from bed to chair. I didn’t think it would work as it requires Janet to take a lot of the weight, she did it really well! She was also talking much clearer and I was able to get her to agree it was because she had a rest. One day that will really sink in. Dinner was a bowl of Clint’s chili that he made for everyone today. Clint is in his late twenties and has been a resident at Connect for seven months. He is very mobile and loves to cook so he runs the kitchen apparently. The chili was good. Suzanne stopped by for a visit and brought another care package with her. Thanks! Janet and her and a nice chat with Janet talking reasonably well considering the time of day and what she has been through. We said goodnight to Suzanne, made Janet’s bed and did all the other bedtime prep stuff before climbing in to start reading a book the Dr. Miller lent to us. Slow Dance by Bonnie Sher Klein, a stroke survivor who was just named to The Order of Canada. Interesting read so far.
Praying for more good rest and healing tonight and an active day of learning tomorrow.
These once a day blog updates are shaping up to be the norm as it appears the majority of my time with Janet will be mid afternoon through to bedtime. From what I can tell so far most of her heavy duty activities will be in the morning and early afternoon with things getting quieter by three o’clock. It’ll be a few weeks yet before the true pattern emerges but that’s what it looks like now.
Today started off busy as Sara had Janet in the shower when I arrived and it was after 9:30 by the time she was sitting at the breakfast table. Janet was offered two scrambled eggs for breakfast but chose to have only one. She gobbled it up and I know would have eaten more and I wish she would have as that’s one breakfast she enjoys. It was her call though.
Back in her room I was about to have her put away her laundry when Mary Lou hauled her away for a half hour Speech session. I declined attending as I want Janet to build a relationship with Mary Lou. Janet reported the session was boring but Mary Lou said it went well. She tried an app on her iPad that pops balloons every time you talk loud enough. She thinks this will be a good tool to get Janet’s volume raised and Janet was successful a few times. Mary Lou is concerned about the excessive saliva Janet has and I know Connie is too. We will be helping Janet become more aware of it. Not only did Janet put away her laundry, she also helped rearrange her clothes so it is easier for her to find them. That was a really good exercise to go through and she seemed to enjoy the challenge of remembering where things were and thinking about how to group them in a way that makes sense.
By the time we finished rearranging her stuff it was lunchtime. Garrett was all excited about his beef barley soup but it was a complete fail. I tried saving it by adding some carrot and broccoli and Janet ate a little of it then but I think I’ve spoiled her eating at home so much.
We made our way down to the gym after lunch with Brian and Rebecca promising to meet with Janet there a little later. I had time to give Janet a good stretch on the table mat and was finishing off a stretch of her hand when Brian and Rebecca came in. They spent over an hour with us talking wheelchair, accessible homes, Janet’s vision, the various equipment Janet can use in the gym and how daily activities will be incorporated into Janet’s workout plan. All this will come into better focus over the next couple of weeks. When asked about goals, Brian is confident Janet will become independent transferring from wheelchair to bed etc. and is hopeful she will be able to walk short distances, i.e. around the house. To gauge that possibility he had Janet sit on the edge of the table mat and hold onto a stripper’s (or fireman’s, depending on your gender) pole in front of her. On command Janet attempted to stand up and Brian acted as the muscle for her right leg. She managed to get up a fair ways both times she tried and was clearly frustrated each time that she couldn’t get all the way up. We all praised her effort and Brian was truly happy with her first attempt at that and hopeful he can get her standing relatively soon.
That was a busy day so far and being unsure of dinner I decided to take Janet home for a few hours for a change of pace and some food I knew she would eat. She played with Nash a lot, ate a good dinner followed by a bowl of fresh fruit and a relaxing conversation time. We headed back to Connect for bedtime in anticipation of a busy morning as Tez the PT has promised an early session with Janet.
Thankful for the productive day and praying for restoration of Janet’s ability to walk, use her right arm and hand, total restoration of her vision and the ability to talk loud all the time.