Sunday, November 18
Monday, February 8
Saturday, September 26
Sunday, July 5
Thursday, May 28
On the down side Dad continues to be shaky and unsteady. While he can tell me how to do daily tasks he is too shaky to complete them himself. We are all fearful that Dad will fall because the "steadiness" is just not there. Most importantly we are all coming to the understanding of how much the right and left side of a person's brain works together to define who we are. With the massive damage to the right hemisphere of Dad's brain we are getting to know a father who is so much the same but at the same time so different.
At this point Dad and Mom plan to return to Millboro on June 13, 2009. This will give us just enough time to get them settled at home before Mom goes in for hernia surgery on the 15th. Hannah and I plan to spend the summer in Millboro and with everyone's help hope to keep them at home during summer vacation. Mom and Dad are working hard on looking at options for their care on a more permanent basis when summer break is over.
Dad wants everyone to know how much he has enjoyed their cards, letters, telephone calls, and prayers during this time. He is working on sending cards to as many people as possible but we haven't been able to get a lot of them completed. We will get through them all slowly but surely. In the meantime please remember how much you all are appreciated.
Monday, May 18
The most significant recent event occurred last Friday, when Dad finished the 30-day outpatient rehab program he had been attending. He made a lot of progress in that program, and really liked the staff. He is now in the process of making the rounds of various doctors for various medical follow-ups.
The big question now facing us is "What's next?" At least for the time being, Dad continues to stay with Matt and his family outside Richmond, and will shortly begin attending physical therapy a couple days a week. (Matt has been doing a truly amazing job as Dad's primary home caregiver; we are all indebted to him for his selfless and tireless efforts.) In the meantime, we are researching and gathering information to identify the options for Dad's next steps.
Monday, April 27
Tuesday, April 21
His day right now consists of getting up around 0530, getting dressed, eating, morning meds, and preparing for his van which comes to pick him up around 0700. We've started to get into a pretty good routine, and barring any unusual happenings, he is ready to roll in an hour. He really liked his driver the first morning (Mr. Washington) who's nephew just happened to be Fontell Mines who was a UVA grad and now plays for the Redskins. He didn't like his afternoon driver too well though so I've tried to get him off the list. In the evenings after dinner, we watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (*In case you didn't make the connection to the title of the post). Amazingly dad is still able to beat me (well that's not so amazing) but he's also beating many of the contestants to the correct answers, which to me is pretty awesome. After that a little ice cream or something and off to bed. He is sleeping pretty well, most mornings he is awake when I go into his room, but today he was still snoozing. He seems to be getting a little more comfortable with things. The biggest problem so far is that he wont let anyone else do much for him but me so that's causing a few glitches, but were working through them.
I know Mark posted my address the other day but my home phone is (804) 746-1178. If anyone would like to call him please feel free. The best times are probably between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. or on the weekends. If anyone is in the area and wants to visit on a weekend I know Dad would love it. Just let me know your coming so we can straighten up (as required by my wife) and also if your from out of the area there's a Holiday Inn close by that works with me when there are rooms available.
Thank everyone who has written, called, or come to see Dad. The letters and visits have meant a lot to him. When he is in a positive mood it definitely helps motivate him with his therapy. I know he intends to thank everyone personally at a later date, but until then I would like to thank you all. I'll continue posting his progress every few days or if there is something new and exciting to tell. Dad has gone through a lot in the last two months and come a long way back in his recovery, but there are still hurdles to cross so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers as I know that means as much to him as anything.
Monday, April 20
Friday, April 17
Dad's new "school" is an outpatient extension of Sheltering Arms, in another part of Richmond, Bon Air, a little over 20 miles from Matt's house. A family member is required to go with every new patient on their first day and spend the day with them. I arrived at Matt's house a little before 7 a.m. and Matt had things well in hand. He was helping Dad get dressed upstairs, Dad's lunch was packed and in the refrigerator, and his medicine was out and ready. Dad came downstairs with little trouble, made it to the breakfast table and began telling Matt what medication Matt needed to get for him. While he ate breakfast I gathered up the belongings Dad would need for the day. When it was almost time to leave we realized the pharmacy had not filled the one prescription Dad had to have at lunchtime. Matt quickly called the pharmacy and got the situation straightened out but had to run out to pick up the prescription. This left me getting Dad into the car. I spent most of Monday afternoon in the family training, where the inpatient staff taught Matt and I how to help Dad up and down stairs, in and out of the car, help him with dressing, transferring, and getting in and out of the tub. It was all fine and dandy when you had therapists, aides, and nurses standing by but now I had to do it myself. I don't know who was more nervous, Dad or me. We did great getting to the back door, o.k. down the steps to the wheelchair, and I rolled him out to the car. Then it got more difficult. They had taught Dad to get into the car from his walker but Dad was in his wheelchair. I tried to talk him into going from the wheelchair to the walker and then to the car but he would have none of it. He was determined to go straight from the wheelchair to the car--something he had never done before. I looked out for Matt--no Matt yet-- stalled a few minutes--still no Matt. Dad was starting to get a little impatient so I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer and told Dad, "O.k." It wasn't the most graceful transfer but we accomplished it. Matt arrived with the medicine and we were off--as Dad would say-- like a herd of turtles.
The day went well. Dad met with each therapist to have a new assessment completed on his current level of functioning. It made me realize how far he has come when I saw three patients still on tube feedings. Dad's walking was wonderful and he even did a few new things such as walking up a ramp, going down a curb with only his walker and walking down steps backwards. He continues to be impulsive in the way he does things often starting out before given directions. Probably the biggest challenge still to come has to do with Dad's apraxia (Apraxia is where a person loses the ability to execute or carry out skilled movements and gestures, despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform them). Dad would try as hard as possible to complete fine movements, such as picking up small objects, with his left hand but you could see him struggle as his face would wrinkle with concentration. The good news is that Dad is able to pick these things up it just takes about three to four times as long as with his right hand. More good news Dad's hand grip is equally as strong in both his right and left hand. The strength of his finger grip is much less in his left hand which would go along with his symptoms. Another part of apraxia is difficulty or inability to coordinate activities with multiple, sequential movements, such as dressing, and bathing. Again the good news is that Dad can do this but it is a slow struggle. Finally, they did a very interesting test much like you would see on psychological testing. They would show Dad a symbol at the top of a page and he had to match that symbol with one of four at the bottom of the page. Dad did this well. He started to have difficulty though when they took out parts of the symbol. For example an arc in a circle was missing. Dad had to point to how the symbol would look if all the lines were filled in. Dad missed about 50% of these. What I didn't realize is that our brains "fill in the pieces" when we see only "part" of an object. For example, we can visualize our coat in the closet by just seeing the sleeve sticking out. Even more importantly, we see a child's head over the hood of a car and realize a "whole child" is behind the parked car possible getting ready to run out into the street. The implications of this in our daily lives was staggering to me. Well, enough of the details.
Just as in Mechanicsville, the staff at Bon Air were wonderful. They were very patient with Dad who had a new audience to tell all of his stories to. The nurse, who is a die hard Hokie, didn't even hold it against Dad for being a Wahoo. After getting a full history she explained to Dad that one of the main goals of intensive day treatment is to rebuild his energy and to work as hard as possible, even during down time, to regain his lost skills. To that extent they are only allowed two 15 to 20 minute breaks a day and their lunchtime. During the other times when they are not in therapy they will practice the skills they've learned. This is done through games and activities in the day room. They even have a Wii to play. I think we will probably have to teach Dad a little about it first so he doesn't throw the controller through the T.V.
Dad and I left about 3 p.m. tired but a lot less nervous. It was nice driving back to Matt's house, talking about the day, the weather, and those small things that make up our lives. These are the moments that remind me of the miracle we have seen over the past several months. My father is truly a miracle, surviving against all odds and now not only surviving but making progress beyond what any of the professionals ever believed. As for me, he's my Daddy and I still believe, just like I did as a child, Daddy can do anything.
Sunday, April 12
Thursday, April 9
Mom and I arrived on Tuesday around lunch time, and Dad was in the dining room. When he saw me come through the door, the biggest grin broke out on his face! I get misty-eyed just thinking about it. I didn't think his smile could get any bigger until I told him Mom was waiting in his room. (I don't know if he was quite as happy with me after I participated in his therapies for the next couple of days; he called me his "drill sergeant" and "slave driver," but he said it with a smile).
Dad is now eating pretty much anything he wants. For lunch the first day I was there, Dad had chicken and lasagna as well as vegetables and fruit. He even had a pork chop for dinner one evening. According to Dad, his speech therapist will sneak up on him when he least expects it to make sure he is cutting his food in small-enough pieces, is chewing thoroughly, and swallows twice. He says the food is great, and I'm sure just to be eating has got to be wonderful. Dad is now totally off insulin. His blood sugar levels have been good.
According to the speech therapist, Dad's short-term memory -- which was initially affected by the stroke -- is back to about 90%. I can't tell any difference in his cognitive processing skills from before the stroke. For instance, one day he was talking with one of the therapists about how the stock market is set up so that it will self-correct, but not if there are crooks taking everyone's money! (For those of you that don't know, Dad was an economics major.) His attention and concentration are still not where we would like them to be, but they are so much better it is incredible. Actually, Dad is "hyper-concentrating" at times, which can be a problem. When he is told to do something, he sometimes concentrates so hard he doesn't hear any further directions until the first task is done. For example, when they tell him to walk up a set of stairs he focuses so hard on what he is doing he misses further instructions on how to do it more safely and effectively.
Sometimes it is good to see for yourself how someone is doing. When I've talked to Matt or Mark in the past couple of weeks they would tell me that he walked 120 steps, or 150 steps. I had thought this was as far as he was capable of walking. What I found out this week was Dad could walk a whole lot more, but there is only so much time to get everything accomplished. So, they normally have Dad walk once around the small physical therapy gym. This gives him exercise and warms him up for his other tasks.
The therapists are concerned that Dad shuffles when he walks but, as Mom says, he practically wore the carpet out shuffling before the stroke so I don't know how much that will change. Dad does great getting from a seated position to standing with his walker. There are more steps in the process of going from his walker to a seated position, however; and while he can do this, he doesn't always do it as well as we would want. Dad has the most difficulty going from his bed to a wheelchair, as this requires a great deal of upper-body strength and a number of fairly complex moves with each hand.
In occupational therapy, Dad is working very hard on dressing himself. Watching Dad do this makes me realize how much we take for granted. Just to put on a shirt has so many steps, and takes more time and effort than you would think.
I cannot say enough about how wonderful the staff is at Sheltering Arms. They put up with my many, many, many questions and my watching over their shoulders to see everything they did. Every therapist, aide, and nurse appeared to be as happy as Dad was when he made progress. They all seem to care about him as a person, not just doing their job.
Finally, the staff is beginning to talk about discharging him, with a tentative date set for next Wednesday. Because of the amount of progress Dad has made, they are recommending he attend their day treatment outpatient program, where he will continue to receive intense therapy and, hopefully, continue to make progress. This program is at another Sheltering Arms facility about twenty miles away. Because it is a short-term program, Dad and Mom will be staying with Matt for the next few weeks, with the rest of us coming in to help out on the weekends.
Dad's room looks like a Hallmark store. Thank you all for the continued cards, letters and prayers. Dad talked several times about wanting to write everyone and thank them for everything they have done. He knows he is not yet capable of doing this much writing so we made a deal that I will help the next time I come to see him. We may only get to one or two a visit but please know Dad is thinking of all of you and you are in his prayers.
Saturday, April 4
Tuesday, March 31
Monday, March 30
As everyone is aware, mom has been a bit under the weather for the past several days and has not seen dad since last Wednesday. While that may not seem like much to you and me, to mom and dad it must be like an eternity. I can't recall in my lifetime the two of them ever being separated for more than a few hours; maybe a day if dad were gone on one of his school conference trips to Wintergreen Resort. Since retirement, the most time they've been apart would be when mom would skip church or dad would go to Hot Springs to work out. I've always been envious that two people could spend that much time together and yet still seem to miss one another when they were apart for just a short while. Anyway, back to today's events. I left work today about 5:00 and went to see dad before going to pick mom up. When I walked into dad's room I was met with a big grin; a "hello son"; and a "guess what I get to do tomorrow? I get to eat my first real !" That's the most excited I've seen my father since all of this began. He then proceeded to tell me that his speech therapist says he is doing great and she is fixing him some type of hamburger dish tomorrow. He then started telling about three stories that she read to him and he had to answer questions pertaining to each story. He said he got every question correct. Dad said the speech therapist thinks his mental awareness has definitely improved over the past few days... namely since his blood transfusion. Lets all keep praying for his improvement.
I told dad I had to leave but if mom was up to it I would bring her back to see him. I didn't think I could see dad anymore excited then I did when he told me about getting to eat tomorrow. Well I was wrong. When dad saw mom walk through that door after not seeing her for the better part of a week, he looked like I always imagined the coyote would have if he had ever caught the road runner... grinning from ear to ear and trying to hold back tears all at the same time. I just told mom I'd be back in a while and shut the door, leaving the two of them to their reunion. As my kids would say, "that was one of the coolest things I've ever seen."
I'll let everyone know how the meal goes tomorrow. We should also be receiving dad's team report around the same time. Lets all keep our fingers crossed till then. Good Luck Dad!!!
Sunday, March 29
Saturday, March 28
Mom continues to recover from the flu. From what Matt tells us half of Richmond seems to have come down with this stuff. We are very lucky that Dad has not gotten it.
Terry did not have a chance last weekend to see Dad so she is making the trip to Richmond today. It is still rainy and yucky so I hope she is VERYYYYY careful going over Afton Mountain. Hannah is extremely upset at her mother (me) for not taking her to Richmond this weekend. Since Mom isn't feeling up to company I didn't want to have too many people descending on Dad and, while I know it sounds selfish, I've used all my sick leave and I don't want to take the chance of getting anyone in the family sick and having to be off work. I have one more week of work and then I'm off until after Easter so I keep telling myself that it's o.k. to take one weekend to get some very sorely needed chores done.
I want to thank everyone who has called and checked on Dad and who are following the blog. I have a list of people who I feel I need to call personally and I apologize to everyone who I've not called this week. It has been a busy week at work and I find I am not working at my usual speed and efficiency because part of my brain is always on the folks. Some days I come home so tired and when the choice is a nap or the phone I have been choosing the nap. Sorry everyone.... I'll try to do better this week.
The blog this morning is rambling.... again sorry everyone. As you can probably tell, my part of the blog reflects my mood and current emotions, which are normally pretty close to the surface. This morning my mood is just like the blog, rambling...... I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and I will write more once I get a report from Terry today. God bless you all!!!!!!!
Thursday, March 26
They gave Dad two units of packed blood cells last night. His red blood cell count was below normal, his white cell count was slightly up, his hemoglobin was wayyyyy down, as was his albumin. Mom indicates Dad was anemic before he had his stroke but after everything he has been through it appears the anemia is much worse. They are running tests just to make sure he does not have an infection. Hopefully the blood will give him the energy he so desperately needs to get on with rehab.
Everyone in the family has had the stomach flu and now Mom has it. Mom is tired too from everything that has happened over the past couple months. Mom has been such a trooper and I think we have been so focused on Dad we sometimes forget about Mom. Please have Mom in your prayers too.
I will call this afternoon to check on Dad and will post an update on the blog as soon as I hear.
Thank you all for your prayers