Thursday, January 21, 2016


It has been a few days or so since I really wrote much on the blog.  I feel like we are all still trying to get into a routine and just about the time we find it, well it will change!  My dad has been working hard.  I was able to go with him to therapy yesterday afternoon.  The timing of his appointments has not worked for me to go with him prior to yesterday.  They started by strapping his right hand onto the bike that he pedals with his hands type device....he had such a look of pride and accomplishment, like he was showing off what he could do while I was there.  I loved seeing him proud of himself.  Strokes affect so much.  And as much as I try to give a lot of details about our day to day life and what we do to re learn and re teach and help dad, there are many details that get left out.  I try to remain positive.  He still has his rough moments, but a certain part of that is just life. It is hard to see him get frustrated when he is trying to tell us something and can't find the words to verbalize it.  You can tell by the look on his face that he knows what he wants to say, he just can't figure out how to get it out.  This has made us all a little more in tune with each other and also with him.  We have to really pay close attention to what he says, what we are doing when he tries to talk to us, what hand motions he might be showing us, all to try and figure out what he needs or what he wants us to know.  It is a labor of love that none of us thinks twice about, but it isn't an easy road to walk.  Anyways, after the bike pedal thing then they put his arm in an air cast and strapped his hand to a bar and had him lifting the bar.  They did some other exercises with his arm while it was in the air cast.  One big thing that he has to work on is continuing to breathe while he is trying to move his arm.  The occupational therapist said, "the last thing we want is you learning how to move your arm but holding your breathe every time you move it."  He gets to concentrating so hard on moving that right arm that he forget to breathe and has to be reminded to take a deep breath.  We found that if he says push or pull or whatever they are trying to do while it is in the air cast, him saying the word as he does it then forces him to breathe while doing the activity.  Every single day I am reminded of how much we do all at the same time without so much as a second thought.  I mean do you breathe while you lift your arm?  Can you imagine having to tell yourself to breathe when you do something so simple as lifting your arm?

Earlier in the day my grandma had come to visit with him and while I had walked my sister and brother out and talked with them before they left for school, the phone rang and my grandma in an attempt to find paper to take a message, found a coloring book and used the back page.  Well my dad didn't like that so we found paper and I had him copy the phone number and name of the person who called.  We set that paper aside and then I opened up the coloring book and asked him if he wanted to color...he told me no but I told him we had to do something and couldn't walk outside because it was so cold.  So we found a page and we colored.  He did the entire picture.  It took a lot of concentration.  He is not left handed and looking at this picture, I was impressed that it was so neat!  It took almost two hours to complete this picture.  We did take a few breaks in between to stand up and stretch and to put the dishes away. Coloring isn't just coloring though.  I had his right arm and hand on the table, as if it were holding the paper as he colored with his left hand.  This involved putting my arm under his to hold it up and also hold the paper, because even though his hand was positioned as if he was doing it, he isn't quite there yet.  I was so proud of him for sticking with it.  For the final circle he told me he just couldn't finish it, I told him he had no choice!  It was a lot for him to focus on and stay in the lines and pick the colors, but once it was done it gave him a sense of completion and something tangible to look back on that he did!  Sometimes he doesn't always remember what we do in a day.

 I told him yesterday that I would take him to see Uncle Jay today.  He was happy about that.  This morning I got back to the house around 9:15 and asked him if he was ready to go, "oh yes." He got his shoes on and his jacket on and we were out the door in about 15 minutes.  When we got to Shands we found that his brother had been moved to a different room.  When the nurse started telling me where that room was, at first I got a little nervous because while my dad can walk, I am not sure about his stamina and we have been warned that his leg is still weak. Our walk to his new room also included a ramp.  I kept asking him if he wanted to take a break and he said very clearly, "no!"  Once we got to his new room then we were told he was in the gym for his therapy so it was more walking.  The good news is my dad got a lot of physical therapy in today!  It was kind of neat to see my dad sitting beside my uncle while he was in therapy, it was like my dad was on the other end of it.  Usually people are with him in therapy and today he got to be with his brother!  I listened to my uncle encourage my dad and tell him about improvements he saw in him from last week to this week and just telling him that God has a plan and that everything is going to be ok.  It was nice to see him be so encouraging to my dad. He was even telling the other people in the gym that I wanted to be a physical therapy assistant and thus began a conversation about physical therapy and occupational therapy with the person who was working with my uncle. My uncle seems like a different person now, it is hard to explain and there are no words for it, but it is nice to see.  He and my dad both have fought back and defied the odds in their situation. It is inspiring and also makes me stop and think that some of that fighter blood is in me too!  My uncle was telling my dad how he is a good man and he raised good kids and has a good wife because we are all helping my dad through this.  He told my dad that what we are all learning by helping him, is that we are strong too! I enjoyed reading the ceiling tiles as we got ourselves all mixed up with where we were going....I found my heart for today!

 After leaving Shands we went to the bread store and then headed for home.  On the way home my dad said, "Rachel's house."  and then started shaking his head and pointing is finger towards the left and saying "go back."  I couldn't figure out what he was trying to say I thought maybe he wanted to go back to see his brother at Shands.  Eventually we worked together and figured out that he wanted me to park at my house and he would walk back home.  He told me to go inside.  I had to figure out how to let him walk home, but not really.  I didn't know if he would stop to look for cars before crossing the street or what if he tripped and fell as he crossed the street and then somebody didn't see him in the road and hit him or what if he got tired and tried to push it.....yeah...he isn't ready to walk home alone yet - even if that is only 400 feet away.  I told him I had to take Vaughn to class so I would walk back with him.  He agreed, and I was grateful!  I know he strives to be as independent as he can, but its hard when it comes to protecting him in the process. We got home and he put the dishes away and then my grandpa came.  They hung out and had lunch and watched a movie and did some arm exercises and then my dad walked the front yard while my grandpa trimmed the trees. I went to get Ivan and when I came back my dad had just laid down for a little rest so we put a puzzle together and then pop headed for home!

When he left I went in and told dad that his nap time was over and it was time to get up and do something else.  I asked him if he wanted to sit on the porch and watch Ivan play.  When the sun came out it felt really nice. Ivan had taken a penny outside and decided to use that penny to play basketball....after a few penny's got stuck on the roof my dad walked down the ramp and said, "I'll get the ball, throw it, you throw it back."  I agreed and said we would have to go in the shed and find the basketball.  He went right to it!  Once outside, with his old familiar basketball in his hand, he was determined to make the shot!  I didn't take too many pictures as I felt like I needed to stand guard and make sure the basketball didn't hit the rim and bounce back and hit his head.  He was so into it thought.  The look of concentration and how he would steady himself and aim....I told him he could not chase after the ball, he had to stand and not try to run the ball down.  He still has it though!  Even though he is shooting left handed and it was a little adjusting for him as his right side isn't all the way back.  Just by nature he kept trying to pull his right hand up so I encouraged that!  After about 12 minutes I told him ok, lets sit and take a break!  He really seemed to enjoy playing some ball!

While were sitting on the porch taking a break and drinking some ice tea, I got to experience his relaxed conversations....he told me about feeling down but that he was going to be ok and that he was coming back.  He told me it had been a while since he had chocolate cake and that he wants to go to college next year.  The sky is the limit!  I bought him his cake today!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love you and your blog! Your thoughts flow so beautifully from your pen. We have been on an amazing journey with this stroke...I feel like it has brought our family even closer together. We have found strength in each other and ourselves. A year from now we will be able to go back and read your blog to see how far, how much he's recovered and how much he is loved. <3 Mom