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.
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.
That was quite a weekend of celebrating Janet’s homecoming! The house seemed to be buzzing non stop from Thursday night through Monday morning with Janet right in the thick of the action the whole time.
The out of towners arrived Thursday night in time for a visit with Janet at our house. Janet was excited to see Laurel, Heather and my mom, almost as much as she was for the Seahawks victory that night. Her priorities were clear though as she elected to stay home and watch the game while I went to the airport to pick everyone up. Go ‘Hawks!
Friday’s homecoming party was everything Janet had waited for and more. She said she “talked to way more people in one night than ever before”, and she was probably right. I had asked her to try and move around the house as much as possible during the party to prevent her sitting for hours on end. Janet made a great effort at doing so throughout the night but was hindered by always having a gaggle of people around her. It was funny to watch as Janet would sit in one area, a group would gather around her then she’d somehow break away to another area where a different group huddled around her. This went on all night and was exactly the treatment I wanted Janet to have as people showed their love for her. Everyone that came by is a valued member of the team and helped to reinforce how Janet’s hard work has paid off.
Here’s some photos of Janet with our guests. I know I didn’t get everyone but we do sincerely thank you all for being here.
Wendy and Tim
Barb and Gary
Betty and Allan
Bonnie and Toly
Curtis and Katherine
Dave and Nicole
Rod and Janice
Mom, aka Judy
Recovery time never really happened until Monday as “party mode” was in effect Saturday and Sunday. Janet bravely agreed to go for Indian food Saturday night, something that is typically way too spicy for her. She quite enjoyed her butter chicken which I’m thrilled about as now we can go for Indian more often. Since we didn’t get to visit much with Barb and Gary on Friday they joined us for dinner Sunday with special guest Heather. There was a booking problem with her flight home that afternoon so she got to stay for dinner which was really nice for us.
There were only a few moments all weekend where Janet was overwhelmed and she corrected her mood quickly and enjoyed everything immensely. There was a lot of walking including some laps around the house coached by Laurel and on Monday Janet never balked at going to H2O for a bike ride. She was tired after her ride and rightly so, it was a good one, especially after hiking up the long flight of stairs to the gym.
Home life has been anything but settled and routine yet and I suspect that won’t change until the new year. We are getting a little better at being in bed at a reasonable hour and getting up at a reasonable hour but there’s still room for improvement.
Praying for Janet to continue adjusting to living at home full time and thanking our Lord and Saviour for all the amazing people He’s placed in our lives.
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.
This morning, Janet successfully picked up Garrett’s phone from the floor thereby earning herself an early exit from Connect. Tomorrow Janet is moving home!
Needless to say she is very excited, as am I, and most of our time together today was spent getting ready for her departure. Brian stopped by right after nap time and Janet attempted to show him her picking up technique but wasn’t quite able to get it so she will make another attempt in the morning at making it official. The result won’t affect her coming home as that’s already been awarded to her so there’s no pressure.
While we were packing we had a surprise visit from our friend John. He finally got into the care facility he was hoping for just down the road from Connect and seems really happy about it. His move plays into Janet’s plan to help Debra with her Speech quite well as now we can come out and visit John at the same time. Janet asked Debra this morning if she’d like to do a little singing with her and she though that was a great idea. I don’t think Janet will want to start going back to Connect for that too soon but she is quite excited about helping Debra out.
Earlier in the day Tez had Janet do two six minute walking tests. The first one was using her cane and Janet went 95 meters. The second was freestyle and Janet made it 101 meters that time. She is very pleased to have made it over a hundred and that is a nice result to take to H2O for the next phase of her physio therapy.
Packing her stuff and removing decorations from Janet’s room was a bigger project than anticipated but she was very happy to help and excitedly told Heather on the phone that everything was off the walls. She did a great job separating things and even managed to donate a couple of items instead of throwing them out.
We studied a little of Janet’s SheLife materiel before Games Night where Janet engaged more than usual knowing this was her last one. When I mentioned that it will be hard for me to say goodbye to the staff Janet instructed me to “just go, bye bye” waving your hand as you say it. I know she appreciates them all and will say proper thank you’s soon but all Janet can see right now is getting out of there. As I said goodnight tonight she was like a little kid on Christmas Eve, super excited that it was her last sleep there, so much so, I’m not sure if she’ll actually sleep.
Tomorrow is the day we’ve long been working for and Janet deserves it to be happening now. I pray that she rests well tonight and enjoys her last visit to the Connect gym in the morning and that her homecoming is as special as she believes it will be.
No trouble for Janet today! Her morning went well, she never complained about anything and even ate some leftover fish for lunch. It was “yucky” of course but she kept that to herself. Gym time was good as was a brief session with Mary Lou.
I half expected Janet to be ready and waiting for me when I went to pick her up. Waiting she was but laying in bed no where near ready. I assured her she could nap at home and helped her get up. We stopped to vote on the way and were pleased the polling station was busy. It didn’t take too long and Janet was glad she participated. We use the type of ballot where you fill in a box beside the candidates name instead of writing an X and I helped Janet with that so she didn’t spoil her ballot. She was happy to read the names of who she was voting for from the list we made so didn’t feel left out.
Before nap time Janet agreed to try and pass the laundry test. I think she made it but we’ll let Brian rule on it tomorrow. Her nap went a little long so she wasn’t able to help too much with dinner as we had to get out the door for SheLife. Once in the church I let Janet make her own way to her table. Standing back and watching her I was really impressed by how independent she’s becoming. Her walk through the room was confident and as people said hi to her along the way I could see her genuinely smile and greet them back. It wasn’t long ago I’d have to prompt her to acknowledge someone. Janet even excused herself from the table to take a bathroom break all on her own again tonight. Nice! I waited a short distance away at the end and watched Janet not be in any hurry to leave. She chatted with people and was quite smiley. I didn’t offer any assistance in getting out of the building and Janet walked slow but steady, even choosing steps instead of the ramp to get down one part. That’s a first!
Praying that Janet sleeps well tonight and is willing to fully participate in whatever she’s asked to do tomorrow.
After what I believe was a good morning in the gym, grumpy Janet showed up at lunchtime today. On the menu was a pasta salad that Janet wouldn’t stop complaining about, its made with mayo you know, so much so that she got sent to her room. That’s where I found her later in the afternoon ready to get up from a restless nap. She was sticking to her story that it was the staff that was grumpy, not her, but with new staff on for the evening Janet was happy to go help with dinner prep especially since she could eat an apple while doing so.
Whatever had happened during the day was not evidenced this evening at all. We did some moving home planning, happily of course, Janet was a lively conversant at dinner and she agreed to go for a freestyle walk with me. That one surprised me, she even went up and down the stairs. There were minimal attempts at grabbing onto walls and furniture and the stretch down the hall to the living room was some of her fastest walking yet. Another surprise came when Janet accepted Chelsea’s invitation to practice picking something up from the floor. Janet can do this but is quite scared still so needs a lot of coaching. She wasn’t successful this time but Chelsea and others will keep working with her. Part of the plan is to watch Legally Blonde where there is apparently a scene that demonstrates how a lady is supposed to pick something up. Whatever works.
Praying for Janet to have a good night of sleep and to enjoy a positive Tuesday.
Only two more Sundays of taking Janet back to Connect, thank goodness. She handled tonight’s return well as her weekend was relaxing and entertaining and there was no time for a nap today so she was too tired to complain. A couple from our Small Group joined us today to watch the Seahawks game and that made for an enjoyable Sunday. Janet enjoyed the mixture of football talk and family talk and contributed well with both.
Neither day at home this weekend was too structured. Saturday night was different from the usual in that Courtney was home for dinner after church and we watched a movie together too. We are enjoying having her around and Janet is benefiting from having someone else to talk to. Friday we stopped by the church to do a walk through of the baptism tank. Janet did a great job walking up the steps, down into the tank then back out again. I’m confident she can handle it for real on Saturday and we thank Dave for taking the time to let Janet try that in advance. She was pretty pleased with herself for being able to do it. Our Small Group met Friday night and Janet participated well and even asked the group a question on her own for the first time. She wanted to hear everyone’s take on the Brittany Maynard and Lauren Hill stories and was rewarded with some good conversation. That was a good demonstration of Janet’s memory improving along with her confidence to initiate conversation.
Thursday night Janet recorded her baptism testimonial video. It was understood that she’d be able to use a teleprompter but it wasn’t ready when her time to shoot arrived so we tried feeding her two or three sentences at a time. That was a struggle for Janet but she made it through for the most part. By the time the teleprompter was ready Janet was tired of the whole thing so struggled reading from it too. Jody, the videographer, will work his magic and Janet’s story will come out loud and clear. There’s no magic needed to make Janet look good though.
Under the lights again.
Janet was a big help around the house this weekend as is becoming the norm. We didn’t take any formal time for exercise so all of Janet’s walking came associated with practical tasks. Talking with her tonight, she was happy about that but admitted she wasn’t moving around as easily. She disagreed that it was a result of a more relaxing weekend but resigned herself to the idea of using the indoor track at CNC sooner rather than later. Winter is supposed to arrive this week so the days of walking outside seem to be done and Janet needs to keep moving. I think she’ll be OK with it as long as we don’t overdo it.
Janet settled into her one full day at Connect just fine, working in the gym with Curtis and Tez this morning. She did a six minute walking test and was unhappy with her result. I don’t know the official result but Janet told me 90 something, which means little or no improvement over the last time. She recognized she hasn’t been working at it and said she does want to walk faster. Maybe this will spur her on a little, I doubt it though, at least not until she’s settled in at home. Tez had Janet walk up and down the stairs and Janet was very happy he didn’t get her to put her right foot first when going down them. It is the proper technique to use the weakest first in a downhill situation but Janet truly can’t do that yet so has to go with whatever works.
Overall Janet was OK with her workout and after a nap joined me in opening some snail mail and chatting with Jess and Chelsea. Games night was cancelled tonight due to a staffing switch. Janet was pleased with that and was more than happy to work on her SheLife workbook and watch some YouTube. We had some emotional conversation about two young ladies with inoperable brain tumours and the different approaches they are taking (took) to their diagnosis. The stories of Lauren Hill and Brittany Maynard brought a lot of questions to Janet’s mind and I think it was good to watch them and allow those questions to come out. I could feel Janet forcing her thoughts away after a while but I think the time we spent on that may have helped her realize her position a little better. I made sure we ended the YouTube session with lots of laughs courtesy of the Whose Line Is It Anyway gang.
Praying for a solid night of sleep for Janet and a positive and energetic Wednesday.
Grumpy Janet made a brief appearance this afternoon as she helped out with dinner prep. Apparently its good to help out at home because “that’s for us” but she shouldn’t have to help at Connect “because no one else does”. For some reason Janet thinks Connect is a hotel sometimes but I find the more she actually contributes the better she feels about it. Case in point, tonight, after insulting the smell of Karl’s dinner and pouting about making a salad, the compliments she received about her salad and the great taste of Karl’s dinner flipped her mood entirely. Janet admits she gets grumpy sometimes and doesn’t know why and it was interesting to see others at the table not admit to getting grumpy when we all know they do. Janet was praised for her honesty and used that to motivate her to put in a little walking practice later on.
Fear of “speed” is still holding Janet back but I watched her walk down the hall freestyle tonight at a very good clip for her so maybe things are starting to change. I pulled her to the gym quite quickly, then we learned that neither of us can do a proper sit up, so we quickly went back to her room. Her other walking adventures tonight were done while clinging onto whatever was nearby and Janet for sure does that more when she’s tired.
The bulk of her free time tonight was spent writing. Me typing, her dictating. Janet is now able to string four or five words together and with help staying on track with a particular thought she can actually tell a decent story. I’m seriously considering having her contribute to this blog once she’s home full time. She’s not totally opposed to the idea. Janet has decided to get baptized November 15th and tonight’s project was to write a testimonial that she will record to a video that could be played during a service or two. With some prodding along the way I think she ended up with a very good draft tonight and it’s nice to read something that is mostly her words.
Praying for a great night of sleep that brings lots of energy and confidence for Tuesday.