That’s not just what I’m calling him – the nurses, therapists, techs, and even the docs are calling him a star! Don has conquered several challenges during the past several days, including walking up stairs (which means he can climb up 6 steps into the motorhome)! His hand is blurry because he was giving me ‘thumbs up.’ And notice it’s with his weak right hand!
And then he said “Oh s**t, I have to go back down!” Stephanie, the therapist, was there to help him and he found it even easier to go down the steps.
He’s gaining more use of his right hand, even using a pencil with a foam tube that makes it easier to grip. Today he wrote out a lot of letters, taking the first letter from each word in a paragraph and writing it below, with the letters he wrote making a new sentence. He did pretty well on the first task. But the therapist was talking with me about the RV life, and he was too distracted on the next task, which was also harder because he had to write down the last letter from each word. This was both a cognitive and a physical challenge. When the therapist left and said she would pick up the paper later, I left him alone to finish the task and he did just fine because he wasn’t distracted.
Yesterday, he walked a long way with a 4-wheel walker, aka ‘rollator.’ Not everyone can manage this type of walker because it tends to be a little squirrely if you don’t have good balance. But Don did great after a little practice, and the social worker is investigating getting him one through Medicare. He did even better on it this morning.
With this device, he can walk with support, and also set the brakes and rest whenever he needs to.
We would like a rollator with not only the seat and basket but also fairly large wheels so he can manage varying terrain in different locations. As our RV friends know, every RV park has a different setting, with gravel of various sizes, concrete, pavement, or even the rough terrain on BLM land in the Arizona desert. We plan to go to Quartzsite again in January 2016, and he may still need this walking aid. As our friend Jan Mains knows – having met that challenge last year after shattering her heel – it’s tough to pilot a rolling support out in the wild! If Medicare won’t cover an adequate device, we’re willing to pay any upcharge necessary. Or we may just buy one from Costco.com or Amazon.com, both of which offer lots of options and pretty good prices – whatever it takes, we’re prepared to do for him.
In addition to all the physical mobility improvements, he’s only using 1/2 to 1 liter of oxygen, so we hope that he will be completely off oxygen when he comes home.
Speaking of coming home, Don’s EDD has been set firmly for Wed. August 12, exactly one month since he first arrived in the hospital rehab unit. It’s truly amazing to see this guy progress from barely being able to stand up between two parallel bars with help, or move his legs off the side of the bed, to where he is today. And every day brings new strength and mobility. I’m so pleased with his progress, and I know he’ll always be the ‘Star’ in my life!
I’ll close with a sunset and an alpenglow picture from last night. Both make me feel like someone is smiling down on us!