Saturday, February 6, 2016

A busy week

This week proved to be a bit of a roller coaster where we all wanted to get off, but somebody more in charge than we are, kept us on a little longer.  Sometimes we think we can't take anymore and God shows us just how much more we can handle.  Mental illness is just that - a sickness affecting the mind.  It tends to creep in at the worst time, well really no time is ever 'good' for it.  My family has been walking this difficult road and while we have much to rejoice about, the challenges and setbacks can be very discouraging. This week it seemed like my dad was losing his fighter spirit.  I noticed that it was more difficult for him to talk and then he seemed really discouraged.  I think progress comes in waves and sometimes, just like when a child masters something new they regress in another area, so I think its similar when you are talking about brain trauma. He seems to have bounced back though, and we finished the week up strong! 

I don't accept anything less than the best from my dad, as he always expected the same from me.  Just as he knew, as a parent - when I wasn't trying my I have learned, over time - when he isn't trying his best.  This week he wanted to lay in bed and he was not really wanting to keep fighting and keep pushing forward.  I stood beside his bed and would tell him that I wasn't leaving until he got up. My mom and brother and sister also had to do this, the evenings were even more difficult than the days  I reminded him that I had the best teacher when it came to learning about being stubborn.  Eventually he would get up, and I know, being one who struggles myself - sometimes 'just' getting out of bed is a big accomplishment.  I am glad that my dad and I have a good connection and we can read each other.

We spent time on his speech homework.  He has to say the word and match it to the picture.  He was able to read most of the words.  Matching the word with the picture was a little more difficult for him and even though it seemed like it made him a little sad sometimes that he couldn't make the match, he still pushed on.  The fact that he could read the words is huge progress, when he was at Brooks he was not able to read any words.  

Here is a video just to give you an idea of how much concentration goes into this task.

I didn't like to do too much speech work, with out a break.  It can be a bit discouraging for him.  In between work sheets we would stop and stand up and toss bean bags into a bucket - they are shapes and colors - so really speech continued just in a different way.  Other times we would take a break and do arm exercises.  It is amazing to put his arm on the arm skate we made him and see how much more he can move it on his own.   At one point during a 'break' he and my brother were arm wrestling!  I love the look on both of their faces - true personality! 

 The following pictures were taken almost one month apart - oh the difference your skull makes! And you can see how much more the muscles in the right side of his face are coming back!

We spent some time looking through photo albums.  We talked about the memories the picture represented. Just before this we were talking about birthdays.  It is interesting how my dad goes through the thinking process, sometimes out loud, to arrive at his answer.  We would ask him, "when is Vaughn's birthday" and he would say all the months and stop at November and then he would start at 1 and count until he got the right date.  He was saying all this though!  It is pretty neat to hear his thought process. He seemed to enjoy looking at the photo albums.  I would ask him point people out or just ask him who he was looking at, so he could point to the person and/or say who they were.  The week ended up on a much better note than it began.  I can't even begin to imagine how hard this is for him to live through.  Being a man that liked to be in control of situations and always be going and doing for others; I can't imagine how upsetting this is to him, that his independence has been greatly lessened. I see the impact that it has had on each of us who have been with him day in and day out - but we still can't really grasp it from his perspective. 
This afternoon we went for a walk.  Last night I was browsing the world wide web, and was reading the Brooks News section and saw something called a challenge mile. "The Challenge Mile is not meant to be a competitive race, but rather a way for people of all ages and abilities to celebrate their personal accomplishments." My dad, my family - we certainly have a lot of accomplishments to celebrate.  The date is March 12th and we are registered!  I can't wait!  By the time we participate in this even it will have been just about 4 months since my dad had his stroke.  My mom was telling me that today she was looking at statistics.  She said that 50% of people who have an ischemic stroke never walk again.  She told us this as we were just about back to our house, and had just finished almost a 2 mile walk!  

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