Friday, July 24, 2015

He’s Walking!


He walked across the rehab gym, out into the hall, and from almost the far end of the hallway you see behind him. You can see how happy he is! His physical therapist Ashley is happy too, as you can see by her smile. It turns out there’s another Ashley who does occupational therapy, and the two of them are competing to see who can earn more brownie points from Don. Ashley the OT gave him his first shower and shampoo this morning, so she earned a lot of points. But Ashley the PT helped him walk for the first time. She earned extra points by helping him take a 2” step up on a platform and back down.


I think she was saying “awesome.” But at the end of the day Don said the two Ashleys were tied for brownie points. I think he’s just playing them against each other to make sure he gets the very best therapy he can!

Another milestone is that Don now has an “EDD” on his whiteboard.


EDD stands for estimated date of discharge. His is tentatively set for August 8th. At first Don thought this would be too soon. But after such great advances during the past several days, he’s eager to be able to climb regular stairs so he can make it up the 6 steps into the motorhome.

Remember the strange taping on his right hand in my last blog? Our friend Leslie Earnst sent me links to some articles on this therapy, called Kinesio Taping. It was invented in 1973 by a chiropractor, Dr. Kenzo Kase, in Japan. Here are the links in case you want to know more about it. Thanks again, Leslie!

After all the therapy was done, with approval from the charge nurse Brett, I took Don for a ride in his wheelchair down in the elevator to the first floor and showed him all the places I’ve been walking to get to his various rooms, the cafeteria in the basement, the front entrance, several courtyards, etc. We stopped in the chapel for a quiet time of thanks and inspiration.


We are both truly grateful for the wonderful support of friends and family through your prayers and positive thoughts. We’re going to get over this bump in our lives and have a stronger relationship both with each other and with all of you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Another Awesome Day!

Don is making so much progress, it’s hard to report it in a meaningful way. Today he made great strides in standing, moving parts of his body, getting into and out of bed, etc. I just want to report a few things of significance.

The first is this tape system that therapist Pam put on his right hand yesterday. The right hand was most affected by his stroke on the left side of his brain, and it has been tingling, sometimes painful, numb and swollen, and mostly unusable.


If you look closely, you can tell the tape has been cut into strips and wrapped around the ends of his fingers. After a day, the ends of the tape are starting to come loose. However, between yesterday afternoon when Pam applied the tape and this morning when I arrived, all the swelling has disappeared from Don’s hand! And he says it’s not nearly as sensitive. This therapy is from Japan, and I’m going to research it if I can to learn more. The hand is still numb, but during OT this afternoon, he was able to pick up items with movements he’s been unable to do before. What a step forward! We’re calling Pam the witch therapist, because this seems like witchcraft!

One of the first tasks he was given today by OT therapist Luis was to pick up pegs from a tub with his right hand, put them on the bench, then pick up one at a time with his left hand and place them into the pegboard. Notice he’s standing up to do this! And he was able to grab a handful of the pegs with his weak right hand, as well as help support himself while standing.


By the end of the session, he had put pegs in all of the outline of a cross pattern on the board.


He stood up more than 10 times today, sometimes without assistance. His legs are getting stronger and his core body strength is improving. And he later used his right hand to pick up bean bags and toss them into frames on the floor, and bat a ball, then a balloon back to the therapist. It’s amazing to see how much progress he’s making in such a short time.

But the best part is his spirit and sense of humor are back. He’s making jokes with everyone who comes into his room, telling stories, and generally enjoying being alive!

In the early afternoon our friends Ken & Jan Tilton came for a visit. Their timing couldn’t have been better, between lunch and another therapy session. Sharing hugs and chatting with friends we’ve met and traveled with in our RVs is great for both of us. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of Ken & Jan, but I’m so thankful for their visit, as it lifted both my and Don’s spirits. We really appreciate the support and wonderful HUGS!

Monday, July 20, 2015

First Day in Rehab

Don is showing improvement every time one of the rehab specialists works with him, and he’s so happy to be wearing real clothes! Holly got him standing up a few times and using both legs and both arms in just a 30-minute session today.


I lost count of the number of doctors, nurses, techs and rehab staff I met today. Don’s in no danger of being left alone for any period of time (like he was in Sierra Vista)! However, the philosophy of the unit is to aim for steady improvement which includes rest, to avoid a roller coaster affect on his improvement. He will have about 3 hours of rehab per day, with 30-minute to 1-hour sessions interspersed with rest. And he’s now on a schedule for dialysis on Tues-Thurs-Sat afternoons. So people interested in visiting can come M-W-F or T-T-S mornings or anytime on Sunday, just avoid the lunch hour 12-1.

Family members are invited to join their loved ones for lunch in the lunch room at noon. (Other meals are in their rooms.) I got to share this with Don today for the first time, and we met a few other patients. Don’s now able to have more choices for food, so he can avoid broccoli and carrots, but he’s learning that some of the things he wants are not on his diabetic-renal diet. He couldn’t have any cookies, whole-wheat tortilla wrap or lasagna – his first choices. But the meatloaf with gravy, dinner roll and sugar-free apple pie almost disappeared from his tray, with very little help from me. He ate more than he has since his surgery – the appetite is returning along with the improvements in movement and strength. Hurray!

Don’s roommate Gary has similar problems, as he also has diabetes, but he sadly has Parkinson’s as well and isn’t very communicative. His lovely wife Yoshi is a delight, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know them. Yoshi even offered to help Don with his dinner since I had a dinner ‘date’ tonight.

I left the hospital just before 5 pm to meet our SKP friends JerrieLea and Ron Hopf for dinner at Mama Luisa’s. They are just passing through after a long road trip with their dog Dakota (and without their RV), headed back home to North Ranch near Congress and Wickenburg. (No flooding at the North Ranch park, thankfully, although lots of washes flooded in Wickenburg yesterday.) It was nice to see them again after more than a year, and so happy they took the time to stop here. They plan to visit Don in the morning on their way northwest.

One day at a time. Lots of progress in just one day. We celebrate every small step forward!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

REHAB At Last!

Today Don insisted that I take a day off. But I said to let me know if they were going to move him to the Rehab unit, so I could pack up his computer and other electronic items, as well as to see Rehab and his new room.

Here’s a picture for Facebook to grab because it keeps wanting to post one from Jan & Chuck Moore’s blog!


Just as I was getting into a new knitting project that proved to be quite challenging (Entrelac, for you knitters out there), about 1:30 pm Don called to see if I could drop everything and get to the hospital. Of course I could – I wouldn’t miss it for anything!

The afternoon was quite busy, getting him moved and situated (next to a window again – hurray!), talking with nurses, techs and docs, reviewing his meds and having him examined for bumps, sores, bruises, etc. I stayed long enough to help him with dinner and make sure his phone, Kindle and Bluetooth headset were all charged up.

About 6 pm I left the hospital, stopped for a quick bite to eat at Burger King, went to Walmart for a few more items as he gets to wear real clothes now, and headed for home. I packed a couple of bags with shorts, shirts, underwear and socks. He has to wear sneakers for his workouts, so I bought him a cheap pair with Velcro fasteners – Old Guy shoes!

The afternoon seemed like it was a full working day. But I’m ecstatic that he’s beginning the last major stage of recovery!

Thanks again to everyone who has prayed, sent caring thoughts, and cheered both of us on during the past 47 days. It’s been a long haul and it’s not over yet. In fact we think this might be when the hard work begins. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s a great thing!