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. August 10. #TSJ No Relaxing Here

Return trips to Connect have often been difficult and unhappy for Janet and tonight’s was near the top of the list in unhappiness. There was no crying or pouting or complaining just a clear stating of the fact that Janet feels like her “vacation, was not very relaxing”. She’s right and that was never the intention. I think it all boils down to nine days going by too quickly and a little bit of Janet forgetting some of the things she did. We had a good talk about it all and I was able to leave her smiling and seemingly content. She has a chance to officially achieve one of her goals this week and I think she’s looking forward to doing that.

The final phase of Janet’s “vacation” started Thursday as we said so long to my mom and hello to Brittney and Ethan.

Not too sure is he?

Not too sure is he?

We had no idea what to expect from this adventure and were impressed at how well Ethan travelled from New Westminster to Kelowna. Janet did too but that is becoming old news. Overall, our weekend went well and by the end of the day today Janet found a way to connect with Ethan a little more. You could probably guess it was through reading and teaching but even Janet was surprised when she realized she was using an App with Ethan that I used with her during her first year at Connect. Its a word association game that Janet now knows and Ethan is improving on.
Teacher at work.

Teacher at work.

The rest of the weekend Janet was pretty much the innocent bystander, she didn’t want to swim when we went to the pool but enjoyed watching Ethan and noted his improvement after day two. We spent a fair bit of time at various beaches and Janet enjoyed watching the goings on there, I just wish she could participate more.

With a two year old and a dog in the house our at home routine became a little chaotic at times so Janet got waited on more than usual and there was no protesting from her on that one. She still did well getting her breakfasts, it was lunch and dinner that lacked involvement. Her walking was great and even Janet commented she’s getting better at coming up the steps from the garage.

All in all it was a positive weekend and a productive if not relaxing time away from Connect for Janet. Praying for a restful night of sleep and an energetic Monday for Janet.

PS. Tomorrow, (Monday), our friend Gary goes in for open heart surgery which is scheduled for 1:45pm. Please keep him, Barb and the medical team in your prayers.

Janet, A Success Story. July 27. #TSJ

Another summer weekend comes to a close and it was a good one. Not a lot of activity as far as going out or having people over, just quality time together in the sun. Janet said the highlight for her was the salmon dinner we had tonight. It was yummy but I think the highlight for me was taking Janet out to see John today and having her lead the conversation after we stopped at a store and Janet walked with her cane the whole time there. It felt like she was more independent to me and I hope she’s feeling the same way. Janet is at least very willing to use the cane now and realizes it will help her become a faster walker and her memory has improved to the point where one tiny prompt from me can set her story telling for a couple of minutes.

Speed wasn’t really present all weekend as Janet is still nervous about walking. Her stair climbing improved each day and this is the least she’s used her wheelchair by far. It is still very much needed for walks to Menchie’s and such but not around the house at all. Janet cane walked into church but I had to lead her the last bit as she was going so slow we risked not being seated before the service started. We had lots of time as we left the building and Janet made that trip completely on her own. Slowly but she made it.

I pretty much dragged Janet to the pool today for a swim and she whined and complained until she got used to the water then I could hardly convince her to leave. Getting in and out was a little better today as she went with no AFO or shoes. The in part still needs work but getting out has been mastered.

Janet practiced her reading a fair bit this weekend and says she’s getting better and from what I heard I’d agree. There was even a little practicing of her handwriting which was nice to see, its getting better too.

The weekend ended up having lots of ways of suggesting to Janet that the goals she set last week are very achievable and I pray she has the attitude and ability to work hard at them all this week.

Janet, A Success Story. July 17. #TSJ Smoke and Fire

The big “Fun Day” Connect had planned for today was cancelled at the last minute as Interior Health issued an air quality advisory due to a lot of smoke in the area. There are a number of forest fires burning in the province and we’ve had smoky skies for a few days but no fires in the Kelowna area until this afternoon.

Fire across the lake to the west of us.

Fire across the lake to the west of us.

Janet and I clearly could see this one on the other side of the lake from us as it started during our drive home. As I write, over 2500 homes have been evacuated and Janet and I have offered the spare room we have to anyone that may need it.

Janet was not at all upset with the cancellation of Fun Day and thought she might be able to come home sooner but I convinced her to stay and get her exercises done and Garrett said she did great at all of them. When we got home we took the dog for a walk and that must’ve convinced Janet it was hot enough to go swimming because she accepted my suggestion with no argument. It also helped that we met Bonnie on her way to the pool and Janet always feels more confident when friends are around. Getting into and out of the pool was OK, a couple of slips but that’s why I’m there. After the initial shock of the 30 degree water Janet got comfortable and swam really well both on her back and tummy. I’m the one that needs to regain confidence so that she can swim more freely.

First time in the pool!

First time in the pool!

Initially we left the AFO and water shoes on but I think next time we’ll go without to prevent the slipping and make it easier to swim. Janet really enjoyed the swim and it set her up for a nice cool nap before dinner.

Our evening was quiet as we monitored the fire situation and watched So You Think You Can Dance. Both of our contestants are safe and Janet’s continues to be a stand out.

Praying for a safe night for those in the fire zone and for restful sleep for Janet leading to a productive Friday.

Janet, A Success Story. July 9. #TSJ Video, Speed Walking

Janet’s day was pretty routine for the first half. She reported to me that she “did everything and it was all good”. Her pendant alarm rang as soon as I got to Connect so I went straight to her room where she was getting up from her nap and needed to go to the bathroom. Without her AFO and shoes on it’s not possible for her to walk on her own so she needs help and is really good at asking for it now. Once dressed, Janet walked well all the way to the patio where we stayed through dinner as the A/C was too cold inside. I will admit I turned the A/C on at our house today for the first time, as by 11 o’clock this morning it was over 28 degrees inside and that’s too warm even for me.

I thought with the heat I’d be able to convince Janet to go for a swim in the lake but she wasn’t having anything to do with that. It was all I could do just to get her feet in the water. It’s a start.
We spent a lot of time planning things tonight. One thing I try to involve Janet in each week is the meal planning at home. She helps decide what the dinners will be and helps create a shopping list with me. Doing that could be a chore but thankfully Janet seems to enjoy begin involved in the decision making and appreciates each meal more when it happens as she had some input into it. We also try to plan some of our activities for when she is home and I think tomorrow evening we are finally going to get to try Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. MMMM.

You haven’t gotten to see Janet walk for a while so I thought I’d give you a quick peak. Last night she flat out refused to go get her meds without me, tonight she never even asked me, she just got up and walked away. This is her making the return trip in record time.

Impressive huh? For reference, that walk really took just under three minutes.

Janet asked to go to bed a little early tonight so we’d have more time to read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. We did and she laughed a lot and continues to really enjoy it which is maybe why she remembers it so well. Each night before I read I ask her to tell me what happened the previous night and since we started this book she’s been bang on.

Praying for a good night of sleep and an energetic Thursday.

The Team Save Janet Report is Out! #TSJ #resistant

For quite some time now Janet has been getting increasingly resistant to the idea of going swimming each Thursday morning. She “hates” being cold and also doesn’t like all the preparation needed to get ready followed by the big production when finished. She was one of three residents that went to the pool this morning and only one of those went near the water so Garrett could spend the whole session with us. He got to see first hand how good of a swimmer Janet is and how quickly she gets cold, even with the wet suit. More importantly he saw how the cold affects Janet’s ability to control her legs. He agreed that other than “the outing” there isn’t much therapeutic value to the swimming if Janet isn’t really enjoying it. We asked Janet to suggest an alternative to swimming rather than just complaining about it and she wisely said she could do exercises in the gym. This is what she’s chosen to do Tuesdays instead of attending the group therapy session and I fully support that choice. That gave me justification to talk to Brian later today to suggest Janet no longer go to the pool as long as there is staff available to take her to the gym. He agreed, I told Tez and he’s onboard so Janet has been released from that “terrible” thing. The countless visits to various pools truly helped Janet’s recovery and we are blessed to have had the opportunity to work in the water as much as we did. Janet loves to swim and I’m confident she’ll be back in the water as soon as its warm enough.

After lunch and a nap Janet responded to some emails, this time electing to type them herself and she did really well, even hitting the space bar at the appropriate time a few times. She gave up a little quickly on her reading today and I had to really push her to follow through to the end. Her confidence level seemed quite low this afternoon and evening. Perhaps because of that she was very resistant to doing any exercise and we had a long and somewhat heated discussion about her situation. There hasn’t been a meltdown of this magnitude for a long time and I’m not sure what triggered this one other than lack of confidence. Janet has a hard time accepting that she’s doing well and making progress because it isn’t happening fast enough for her. At the end of our discussion she did her best one legged bike ride ever and got a great stretch in the Standing Frame.

Bedtime each night involves us praying together and we share lines of the Lord’s Prayer followed by a heart prayer that has always been at least 99% me talking. I often encourage Janet to start that prayer and up until tonight she’s only managed a few words before giving up in frustration at not being able to get the words she wants out. Tonight she said the sweetest most “honest”(her word) prayer yet, most of which centred around our earlier discussion. It was very moving and I pray she is now able to express herself that way not only to God but to me and everyone else who loves her too.

The Team Save Janet Report is Out! #TSJ #hectic

A cold but smiling Janet was waiting for me at the pool this morning just wanting to get “this swimming thing over with”. She was in a good mood in spite of not wanting to be there and as usual broke into a big smile and actual laughter as she started to swim her first length. She said she was laughing because it was cold and it was a little on the chill side today for sure. I kept her moving as much as possible and Janet swam strong today with nice rolls from tummy to back and a few fun attempts at treading water. Instead of being all frustrated, she laughed about spinning around in a circle because of her one arm. The kiddie pool was a welcome relief from the cold and Janet did some good knee bends and balancing before getting a really good stretch in the hot tub, the place she would like to start and finish and probably stay at forever.

Janet had another fun appointment to look forward to this afternoon, the dentist. She needed one small cavity filled and afterwards said it was an interesting visit. The folks there are very friendly and fun and Janet felt at ease and welcome and said it didn’t hurt at all. She couldn’t wait to get into bed for a nap as soon as we got home though and had a good little rest before the next event.

We met Suzanne for dinner tonight at Routes Grill which is near Connect. Janet and I had been once before and Suzanne never before so it was a good place to catch up with her. Janet says “its always fun with her” and it was. The menu is a little limited so Janet ended up with a seafood linguine that I try and have her avoid when we are out as its a messy eat. She did OK though and conversed well with Suzanne.

Today was a very full day for Janet and she held up very well. I found her memory to be slightly improved and her transfers excellent. I had her try and answer some emails before bed but she only managed a couple as I think she had just had enough for the day by then. Andre Agassi managed to get a few belly laughs from her as we read Open before saying goodnight. Praying for a solid night of sleep and a great Friday.

The Team Save Janet Report is Out! #TSJ #workinghard

It was back to the pool today for Janet after a couple of weeks off. Her complaining hasn’t changed and neither has her swimming ability except for the time she drank a little water from the deep tank and I had to pull her to edge so she could cough it up. Scarier for me than her. In the kiddie pool Janet did some great standing and knee bends with a decent amount of push from her right leg. There was a two year old girl in the pool at the same time as us and she made a point of staring down Janet every time she jumped in and she wouldn’t jump until Janet was watching. Kid magnet.

After a short nap Janet cooperated with me and did a good session on the Shuttle and a better one than yesterday on the bike. I’d say she’s making small gains on the Shuttle and the bike is going to take a while.

Ed Mitchell is a counsellor who comes in every Tuesday morning and facilitates a group discussion for the residents of Connect. Janet has been but is not really interested. Tonight Ed started a group for the spouses and families of the residents so I went to see what this guy is all about. Ed is a nice guy who is offering his services to help anyone who wants, unfortunately tonight me and Willie’s wife were the only two there. The intent is to meet once a month on Thursday evenings but I’m not sure I want to give up that time with Janet as all she did while I was there tonight was watch TV. Nice idea, but.

I convinced Janet to do forty five minutes in the Standing Frame before heading off to her room to plan meals for the weekend and read Open. She was disappointed we couldn’t watch any tennis tonight and didn’t last long with me reading either as she stared snoring four pages in. That’s a good thing and hopefully she snores all night. Praying for lots of energy and a positive attitude for tomorrow that enables Janet to keep working hard like she did today.

The Team Save Janet Report is Out! #TSJ #personalbest

Mom and I met Janet and the gang at the pool this morning and for once Janet was all smiles and laughing before swimming. Somehow they had gotten to talking abut helicopters during the drive in and Curtis had everyone trying their best imitation of what a helicopter sounds like. Janet tried hers as we met her at the car but she was laughing too hard to do it. A fun way to start the day.

Janet excelled in the pool today setting a personal best for swimming on her tummy and for the first time ever, she was able to tread water. That was pretty funny as she insisted on using her arm and of course ended up spinning around in circles. She thought it was funny too and tried a few times without her arm just to see and was fairly successful. I think the wet suit helps with buoyancy and Janet clearly has a lot of confidence in the water now. We did some standing in the kiddie pool as well as some leg exercises including bringing both knees up to her chest while floating on her back with my support. In the KGH Rehab pool she was never able to push her right leg back out on it’s own, she always used the left leg to assist. Today Janet did it routinely without assistance. That was a very nice and encouraging surprise and is a move she needs to have in order to walk well. High five!

After swimming we met Courtney at Urban Fare for lunch with Janet having her usual and propelling herself through the store really well. She called her own nap time once we got home and awoke an hour later refreshed and able to help with dinner. I noticed a couple of times when I gave her instructions she wasn’t following them very well and I’m not sure why. Usually I can tell her to get two or three things from the fridge at once and it won’t be a problem, tonight she grabbed things I didn’t ask for and didn’t get things I did ask for. Maybe she was more tired than I thought. Over all she was helpful and managed a decent transfer into a dining chair when we were ready to eat.

My mom likes to have her dessert right after dinner and Janet and I usually wait until close to bedtime. Tonight Janet eagerly accepted the offer of ice cream right after dinner and that apparently fuelled her up nicely as when we got to the gym at Connect she set a personal best on the bike after claiming she was too tired to do very well. We wound down the evening by watching a little basketball while Janet had her meds then reading a chapter of Open that spawned some good conversation afterwards and instead of putting her to sleep seemed to wind her up a little. Oops.

Praying for a night of deep and healing sleep that gives Janet lots of energy for a productive Friday.

The Team Save Janet Report is Out! #TSJ #workinghard

Renovation Day 73. Is this the last day? Could be! Randy was at the house today to complete the grouting on the back splashes in each bathroom and I can’t think of anything else that needs doing. I’ll wait to confirm with him before making it official but either way, Janet is able to come home for Christmas to a beautiful new home.

I met Janet at the pool this morning for the last swimming session of 2013. As an early Christmas present for her the water was notably warmer than usual and she had another strong session. We started in the deep tank again and did some lengths with Gillian whose doing a Physio therapy practicum with Tez. She showed Janet a few good leg exercises she can do in the deep water and told us how we can adapt them for at home too. Nice to have her there. Janet swam probably her longest times on her tummy today and is clearly getting stronger in the water. She also did a great job of getting her feet down so she could rest against the pool wall. In the kiddie pool Janet did some good balancing and sit to stands. It’s of course much easier to standup when your sitting in waist deep water but I think it’s still good practice for her. The hot tub as usual was a rewarding way to finish.

Janet returned to Connect with the staff for a house Christmas party that had just wound down by the time Laurel and I got there. I think Janet was on a bit of a coffee or sugar high when we got there as she was sitting on the couch with a big mug of coffee and a tray of cookies and butter tarts in front of her. She had way more energy than I expected her to have and it was fun to hear her tell of how it all went.

Knowing she had to get some exercise tonight Janet chose a bike ride first. I challenged her with level five and had her sit farther back than normal. She found it a little hard but still rode well and had a good workout. Dinner was lively tonight as Kieran and Big Counrty were in fine form with Janet in the middle of it all. She was quite proud of the fact she had two servings of dinner to Big Country’s one. To work that off we went upstairs with Dyllon, a part time staff member we haven’t worked with before, to do some walking. We took Tez’s advice and started slow to allow Janet’s right ankle to stretch out and after going about half way down the parallel bars she started to get into a pretty good rhythm with assistance. She was too tired to make it all the way back to her wheelchair so Laurel brought it to her to give her a rest. Her side stepping tonight was actually pretty good and she had one successful unassisted sit to stand from her wheelchair. High five.

Maybe pushing things a little too far I had Janet use the Standing Frame after her walking practice and fifteen minutes in she complained of a sore tummy. Fearing a repeat of that really bad pain she had a couple weeks ago we bailed out of standing and let Janet relax the rest of the evening. The three of us watched the finale of X Factor occasionally joined by some other residents. Janet said that watching the show was fun but I think she was a little too tired to fully enjoy. That should make for a good night of sleep and I pray she has lots of energy for a fun day with Laurel and Heather tomorrow.