Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Fish Out of Water

Sunday we had such a great visit. Gunnar just loves seeing his grandma and I think that affection also goes the other way. My mom just wants him right up there on her lap for hugs and kisses and Gunnar is pretty good at giving them. He loves to copy how she acts or what she says. Probably not the best thing when he thinks that all that she still says is "ba ba ba". Not so true anymore. Gunnar went up to the cafeteria with Mindy. Can't even remember what they were up there for and he saw the ice cream chest. Mindy informed grandpa (who my mom ordered not to come Sunday and he did) what he wanted and they started to head up there. My mom wanted to go so we all went and got icecream. I should have gotten a picture because Gunnar picked a chocolate ice cream bar and ate nearly the entire thing by the time I had eaten half of mine. He wanted to eat the very last bite but just couldn't do it. He had this look on his face like he had to eat it but Mindy told him he didn't have to and he looked completely relieved. It was pretty funny. His face was covered all over with the chocolate. We had a fun time together.

It was also fun to see Mindy. I see her a couple of times a week now and just love it. She is the best girl ever. She is super sweet and cares for all of us deeply. She is so compassionate and caring and I love her for it. I love spending time with her. Jeff and her also have this strange perfectly great relationship. She is his little sister that he never had growing up. Seriously funny. She is also such a perfect aunt to Gunnar. She brings the super crazy fun that I don't have. She does the funniest things with him. He loves it. Mindy, we love you so much!

Okay, so my mom has been improving so well so I always look forward to seeing her on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am always so excited to see what she does in Rec Therapy because it is always such a fun surprise and today was no different.
Before we head into that, my mom was headed to OT when I got there. Usually quite interesting. I stopped into her room to drop my stuff off and went looking for her. I found them working at a mirror box. What a simple concept but so useful. My mom puts one hand in one side of it and the other on the other side. Her good hand is in front of a mirror. What she does is flex it up and down and looks into the mirror. What it does is send the message to the brain that her other hand is doing the same thing via the mirror. Sometimes Barbara the therapist will move her right hand just like her left and sometimes not. Barbara said that a lot of this is more of making the connections in the brain than the physical part of it. It all comes down to the mental part. Barbara shared with us how she first heard about this mirror box from a book called The Brain that Changes Itself. The box was invented by a neurologist and was primarily used for amputees. What it did was help amputees in managing pain or tension just "seeing" their other hand in the mirror. It has proven affective for them. It has recently been used for stroke survivors and has shown positive signs. The data is still pretty new for stroke survivors but promising. Barbara today was flexing my mom's right hand up and down in the box and my mom was supposed to do the same with her left without looking. She copied her with 100% accuracy. That was pretty exciting because my mom was able to perceive what was happening with the other hand. She was also able to feel sharp pain (a fingernail in her skin) when pressed on some fingers (not all yet). However she was not able to identify with her left hand what finger it was on. Still improvement. She also used this air bubble thing on my mom's arm. What it does is help reduce swelling by evenly distributing pressure on her arm and hand. It also helps in getting more range of motion. For some reason I had a hard time grasping the purpose but that is what I got out of it.
After OT she had rec therapy and this is where the fun comes in. My mom went into the pool!! This is huge since my mom can't swim and really never, ever gets into the water. It is a very rare occassion to see her in the water. Actually I can't even remember the last time that I saw her in the water it has been that long. Anyway, she was in the water and had us just cracking up. She was hilarious. She would sing these funny songs to overcome her fears or to just relax herself. It was funny. She had dad, Christine, Jaime and myself just laughing. She worked on walking and balance and did some stretching exercises. After it was all said and done, she loved it. The plan is to swim twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After the swim, I helped my mom with a shower and we were ready for lunch.
My mom was pretty insistant that lunch was in her room now. I told her that dinner was but not lunch. She was pretty sure so I got things all prepared for lunch in her room. I figured if she was not right the nurse would tell us. The nurse comes in, asks her if she wants lunch in her room with her daughter, my mom said yes and sure enough they brought it. I ran upstairs to the cafeteria to get my lunch and ate with her. A little later my dad showed up I asked him if she eats lunch in her room and he told me no. Sneaky mom!

We went upstairs to finish lunch and then left for about a half hour to let my mom rest. We get back to find my mom missing from her room. Where could she have gone? We found her with a PT. They had her hooked up to the Bioness for the leg and started her walking with help (of course) and a cane walker thing. The Bioness is very cool. They put this thing in her shoe that will shut off the system when her heel is down and then send the impulse when her heel is up (walking). Very cool and hard to explain. The PT (not her normal one) is going to tell Kristi her normal one that she really needs to push my mom walking. That they really need to hit that hard. My mom is where she needs to be. They hope to get her on a treadmill, with sling supports, tomorrow. Like Barbara said, most if it is in the brain. Making that connection is pretty much all of the battle and the physical part will follow.

Every Tuesday a family conference is scheduled with the family, and all of the therapists, case manager nurse, social worker (the organizer) and a neuropsycologist. It is really informal. Really there just to share what they see and for us to ask any questions. Heidi was able to come. All of her therapists are really positive about her progress. They shared how she is exactly what they want to see. She is improving well. I am not really sure how long I thought that she would be there but I did not think that it would be as long as they said. They mentioned that her target discharge date right now is February 20th. I am actually really kind of happy with that. She needs as much acute rehab that she can get to be able to deal with challenges at home and become closer to being independent. They are hoping that at discharge, she will be pretty independent where she will be able to safely care for herself with someone nearby. It does not mean that she can be left along but that she can care for herself without direct help. It is unclear if she will need to use a wheelchair for a short time but of course the goal is to be past that. Elks has been doing a fantastic job and we are all very pleased. They also seemed to be very pleased with her progress.

Right after, she had her last therapy for the day. It was speech and Camber is so fun to work with. She loves that we drill my mom on her exercises and that we make sure that she does her homework. She recognizes that family support is so crucial in my mom's recovery and I love that about her. She is always more than welcome to have us tag along and learn as much as we can. My mom's speech is improving. She does not say ba ba ba or pa pa pa like she used to. She is now really trying to formulate words and sentences. Most of the time it comes out very jumbled and mumbled but she is trying and working very hard at it. She still struggles with recongition of basic items when out of context. Camber reminds us that all of this gets better with practice, pratice, practice. So, as a family that is what we do.

Shortly after this, we had my mom ready for a good long nap and I said my goodbyes. I really enjoy my time with my mom. It always turns out to be such a great day.

My mom is to the point that opening things up to all visitors would be okay. Please keep in mind that the best time to visit is after about 5:45pm and before 7ish pm. After that she is pretty much ready for me time and tv. This is Monday through Friday. Visiting during the day is pointless because she has therapy at all hours and her schedule changes daily. They will not stop therapy for anyone at anytime. And between therapy she is resting. Another good time to visit is on the weekends. Saturdays she does have some therapy but again it always changes what it is and when. So it really is hit and miss there. It definately is not as intense as the weekdays. Sundays she rarely has therapy. She may or may not. It is a big day of rest. And Sundays can get a little boring and slow. Please keep in mind the 40 suggestions in the book My Stroke of Insight. The majority of these still hold very true.

2 clever remarks:

Rachel C. said...

I am so glad to see your mom is improving, albeit slowly. Things take time!

That bubble arm thing looked cool!

Sharon/mom said...

I am so excited at how well she is doing! I can't believe how soon she will be home. That is the weekend we are planning on coming. I hope that is a good idea? You might want to think about that. I plan on getting that book you reccomend, someone else reccomended that to me also. So when she goes home, does she go back to the hospital at all for therapy on occasion? or does that all just happen with the family,or is it to soon to know that? I am so grateful that you blog all of this. I think there is a special bond between grandchildren and their grandparents. I know my grandkids love their parents more than me, but it is a unique relationship that is was not expecting but hoping for. You can see it in the pictures with Gunnar. I am grateful she has Gunnar. He has no expectations or dissapointments in his eyes, just lots of love. There is nothing quite like that. I know your mom has always been pretty, but she looks especially pretty in these last pictures. It is interesting to me. love you all!