08/17/2012, Kingston, Ontario
When I arrived at St. Mary's yesterday Al was well into his therapy. He was on his second stretch of doing the corridor. On his third attempt a curling slider was placed on his right shoe to aid in his foot gliding better. The idea is when he gains muscle strength his foot will lift properly, but in the mean time this will help his brain get the mechanics of the intended movement. He broke into a sweat from his effort. Jenn and Dan his therapists are impressed with his efforts and the strength he is gaining daily. Each day he goes a bit farther than the next.
I had a chance to speak with Al's Doctor and he was in agreement that Al needs a sooner than later Urology work up.
In other news I will be beet pickling tomorrow. A friend brought me so much fresh stuff from her garden I almost need a second fridge. For the first time ever last night I made kale chips. Very yummy.
08/16/2012, Kingston, Ontario
I've made enough lemonade already.
I try to keep you light and positive. Many family and friends are asking privately how Al is really doing. So I thought I would pony up with the facts.
Al suffered a significant stroke. He has been very depressed but I do see this lifting, which is good. He is motivated in his therapies but he tires extremely fast. He is having much more movement in his right leg. He is standing and taking steps. They are small and labored but he forges on. I believe he will walk. I even believe next June he will walk his beautiful daughter down the isle for her wedding.
He has large gaps in his memory. An example is he does not remember us being in the Florida Keys, but he remembers us having a boat which he referred to yesterday as Fresh Knit. He remembers some of the friends we made, Pete , Pokey, Bob and Jane. He sometimes refers to Bridget as Mitzi who was his child hood daschund. He remembers his British existence. His Psychologist Dr. Nolte says this is normal as these are the older more engrained memories.
He is having continued difficulties with some bladder issues which I am going to push for some further investigations.
How am I doing? Well I'm no stranger to stroke recovery or medical challenges with a spouse. Having lost a terminally ill husband while in my own recovery 6 ½ years ago I am trying to get my head around what my life with Al will look like in the coming weeks, months and years. I am thankful I am the product of parents who lived during tough times and I have learned excellent coping skills. Knitting has been a gift and is meditative and soothing to my soul. I also have excellent family and friend support.
You may hear from me less frequently as Bridget and I learn to navigate this new life. And if you are chatting to the universe, please ask it to hold off on any more lemons coming my way. I don't have time or energy to set up a lemonade stand.
Most sincerely and with affection.
08/13/2012, Kingston, Ontario
I'm hoping Al's Karma is about to change. Yesterday he was feeling lousy and fevered and so another course of Antibiotics was started for a suspected UTI. This morning when I arrived I was disappointed to find him still in bed and very flushed and lethargic. I caught up with his physician and was told along with a UTI he also now has prostatitis.
So today he was constantly having bladder scans and when his bladder was full he would be catheterized to give him relief because he can't seem to empty himself with this new infection. He had been in a lot of discomfort but by late this afternoon he was starting to feel the positive effects of the antibiotics.
A private room became available today and it was offered to us. The staff were concerned that I may not want it because it had been my room in 2006 when I was there for my own rehab stay. I actually took it as a good sign and I think the room has good energy, it faces east and is bright and big. So I am hopeful this is good karma. A friend popped me home to bring Bridget for a visit. She is making quite a hit at the hospital.
08/12/2012, Kingston, Ontario
My mom was 1 of 13, and raised in a poor family where it was necessary to grow and preserve your own food. As a result my summer memories are of helping to harvest, wash, peel, sterilize Mason jars and preserve. Oddly as a young teen I enjoyed this. I still enjoy, the choosing, preparing and the delight in the finished product. This morning I made 2 jars of fresh pesto. Which is now in the freezer for future culinary delight.
I have put out an order for some fresh beets from a friends garden to make beet pickles, a favourite of mine. I love sliced pickled beets on the side with a garnish of crumbled feta.
08/11/2012, Kingston, Ontario
Yesterday Al took 8 steps in the parallel bars. He is doing amazing with his balance, during standing. His sitting balance is very good. Unfortunately I missed his milestone because I was discussing him with his covering physician.
Al's physician is on holidays, so his covering physician now was my boss at the time of my stroke and he is also a friend. We had some very frank discussion about Al's surgery and future prognosis. Having reviewed Al's pre and post chart and surgical record this Dr. said we absolutely made the right choice for surgery. We had an unfortunate out come plain and simple. In his opinion the size and position of Al's tumour was a fatal stroke waiting to happen. He also emphasized that it is too early to predict any outcomes.
Al's stroke was small but deep and historically these types of strokes can have surprising delayed results. The fact that the arm has not responded as yet is not a good sign. But I won't be discouraged by this because in my own experience my arm was the last to respond and at 6 ½ years post stroke now I still see improvements in my hand which has not yet had a full recovery. It doesn't hinder me from doing things, I just do things differently now.
Bridget and I visited tonight with the hope of staying to watch a movie but Al was just too tired so we left him to sleep. Healing a brain is exhausting and even more so when you add in all the new physical efforts.
08/09/2012, Kingston, Ontario
The last few days have been a struggle and I didn't know quite how to blog about it. Al has been in a serious funk. He has been feeling pretty hopeless. This morning when I arrived he just really wanted to go back to bed and his whole posture was hung low. I snagged his Communication therapist in the hallway and I told her I wasn't sure he'd be at his 11 a.m. therapy. We discussed a plan and some strategies and we wheeled him to his first floor therapy. Audrey in her soothing experienced voice lead the conversation in more of a psychologist type role. I added in dialogue where appropriate but for the most part I was in an observation position. Some kind of magic happened over the course of that hour. I can hardly explain it. I am not sure if it was the questions she asked, the seeds she planted or what exactly it was but at the end of that hour he seemed to have some spark back. His eyes were clearer and his head held higher.
I had packed a lunch so I could eat with him and at 1 p.m.we headed to Physiotherapy. I felt proud of him as I watched him work hard at his exercises, but his effort tugged at my heart when he pushed against gravity to struggle to a standing position with assistance. This was done several times. His therapist asked if he was up for the adventure of trying a couple of steps in the parallel bars. He was too pooped and did not wish to try. So that will be another day.
After Physiotherapy we had an hour until Occupational therapy. We went for a faux gin & tonic and to the sun room to watch some Olympics. I stayed to observe Al in OT where he learned and practiced taking weight through his right arm and shoulder. All these small exercises are building blocks and ways to make new pathways for the brain to make his body work. I remembered these exercises well.
As I sit here writing now I am amazed at how this day did a complete turn around. His village of very skilled and enthusiastic therapists totally rock. I think something clicked for him today and perhaps he is making sense that all these little things lead to the greater picture. Of course his therapists continue to remind me, its early yet.