Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seven Down and still going

Several things are very hard to believe. One, that its been one month since our last post and I'm very sorry for the long delay. And two, that it has been exactly seven months today since we started on our little adventure. It certainly doesn't seem like its been so long. The time has flown by in many ways, and in some others, May 20th seems like an entire lifetime ago. This is Jon back with you by the way.

Things continue to progress. I have been driving for more than a month now and very much enjoy the freedom. I am feeling more comfortable behind the wheel and the kids have been riding with me this week and don't seem too scared to ride with me. So, I consider that a victory. I am still working hard in therapy and we see slow but steady progress in some areas. The arm won't come back nearly as quickly as we hope for, but I've been working on picking up small blocks and dropping them into a bucket. After going so long with no use of the fingers on my left hand, we have been thrilled to see that. I am also regaining strength in and use of my shoulder and can lift and place and hold it in positions I wouldn't have dreamed of a couple of months ago. My balance is also improving and we have done some light jogging in physical therapy. I've lost a couple of steps, but I am very encouraged by how that therapy is going as well.

Insurance wouldn't cover the botox injections in my arm, so that treatment is on hold for the time being as the doctor's office and insurance company fight it out. I was hoping to have some progress, or at least a good story to tell about that, but we will just have to wait a little longer.

The UMHB football team advanced to the national quarterfinals and played three home playoff games and now basketball is in full swing. I made it through the fall with few problems and hopefully did a fairly good job at work, so I am very encouraged by that, too.

We are very much looking forward to Christmas and spending time with the extended family. Thanksgiving was also wonderful. I don't want to sound hokey or cheesy, but I think each holiday has more meaning to each of us this year. I guess that also includes the 20th of each month now. I won't say we celebrate those days, but they are a milestone and take us another day closer to the goal of a full recovery and a return to the "old" normal life.

I've been asked a bunch of times for hints as to what I want for Christmas. I don't have any because I truly feel like I've been given so many gifts already this year. It is time for me to give back instead. So I say thanks again for all of the continued prayers, support and encouragement. Probably won't get you each a gift, but I do hope you know how grateful I am. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. (By the way, January 1st will be another milestone for us, too. It will be six months to the day that I came home from the rehab hospital. That doesn't seem possible, either!) Bye for now. This is the part where I say we will try to update more often, and that is probably hard for you to believe. Maybe we can make it one of our New Year's resolutions.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Six Month Mark

This is Brenda back at the helm for a yet-again belated blog update.

Even in typing the headline for this update I find it hard to believe that it's been six months since our lives changed so drastically. Six months ago today, Jon was in a bed in the ICU and we were all still reeling after learning that at age 41, he had suffered a massive stroke.

Now here we are, these few months later and he's back at work, driving himself around, walking, talking and driving me just as crazy as he always has! It's been a difficult Summer/Fall to say the least, but I'm still amazed at how far he has come in this short amount of time, and how hard he has worked and continues to work to ensure the healing and the progress continue. It's hard not to get sentimental and emotional thinking back to where we were just six months ago, and how quickly our lives had changed. But I have to say that our lives continue to change, for the better. Jon has learned to dig so deep and find the energy and determination to fight to gain back what was almost taken from him. And it's been exciting to watch his progress and to see him finally be proud of some of the progress he has made. It can still be a frustrating process, and I know if you ask him, he will say he's disappointed that he has not accomplished more in these six months. But I know those around him are proud and happy to see what he has been able to do. And I know there is more to come.

It's also nice to look back to those months and remember the outpouring of support we received and still continue to receive. I know the prayers are still being said, and we can't tell you how much that means to us. Jon still gets cards, and it's comforting to know that our support system is still out there pulling for us. So thank you again for the continued support.

Therapy continues, even during the holiday week. Jon has therapy again this Monday and Wednesday, and then we will let him have a break for Thanksgiving! I think he made some great progress last week, and I saw him do some things that he hasn't been able to do in the past. The therapist will lift his left arm up while Jon is laying on his back, and Jon has to try to hold the arm up without any help. He's been able to do it, but sometimes not for long and it will slowly begin to fall to his side. But the last few sessions, he's been able to hold it up steady and for a lot longer than I've seen in the past. So that was great! And there are a few other subtle things like that I see improvement on week to week.

Physical therapy is going well too. She has him still working on balance, which is getting much better. I think she also likes trying new things with him just because she thinks they would be fun to try. Last week she put a stretch band around his waist, held on to the ends, sat in a chair with wheels and had him pull her around. That was hilarious to watch, as he dragged her up and back and she just sat in her little chair smiling. I told them next time I'm bringing my video camera.

And yes that exercise does have a point. He does seem to walk better when he's concentrating more on something else - like pulling her along - than on how he should be walking. He had a lot of strength when he did that and his gait was much improved for the first few times. So it's nice to see that even many months later, they are finding new things to try.

The work and progress continue, and we are looking forward to sharing even more good news as we continue therapy through the end of the year. We hope all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving, and truly take time to take stock of what you have to be thankful for. I know we will! We are thankful for our loved ones, that Jon has made it so far and that the healing continues, and that God has blessed us with wonderful family and friends. So have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Just Checking In

Had some very rare down time on a Friday night, so I thought I would fill everyone in. This is Jon writing tonight as I guess I've kind of taken over. I will try to get Brenda to come back soon, just for a different perspective.

We saw the physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor again on Tuesday. It was our first appointment with him in three months. He seemed very encouraged by my progress, and I was very encouraged that he could see substantial progress. And then, he prescribed my next step in treatment. BOTOX! No, he doesn't want me to look younger or make my laugh lines disappear. Instead, I will get two injections of Botox in my arm next week. The idea is that it will help relax the muscles in my bicep and forearm and allow me to straighten my left arm more easily and turn my wrist over. Those muscles want to contract instead of relaxing when I try to make certain movements. First time I've ever been accused of having too much strength in my bicep. So, we will see how that goes. I'll be sure to let you know. One thing is certain, my intense dislike of needles is only growing through this experience. Immersion therapy to get me over that is NOT working.

It was another positive week of therapy, no real breakthroughs, but some steady and noticeable progress. As long as that continues, we will be happy. I am pretty sure we are past the point of major breakthroughs, but hopefully that is a testament to the progress we've made.

We officially make the move to a lighter therapy schedule next week. Down to twice a week for occupational therapy and just once a week for physical therapy. There will be a greater emphasis (and in my mind, perhaps a greater challenge) on exercising and working at home. For those of you familiar with my study habits and lack of discipline from my younger days know what a challenge that will be. I do hope that my motivation is a little higher this go around. (Sorry Mom and Dad, you got your money's worth from college, I promise.)

Jacob's first football season ended on Monday. They finished with a winning record and he really seemed to enjoy it. Brooke's fall soccer season is winding down with a chance to still go to the playoffs and she's is also enjoying it. I've enjoyed having more time to watch and share in those experiences with them.

UMHB will play its final regular season home football game this Saturday before what we hope will be a long playoff run. Some of the other fall sports are wrapping up and it is almost time to transition to basketball. So things continue to go well at work. I continue with a shortened schedule and will probably wait a little longer to push for full days again. Fatigue still sets in faster than I would like to admit and shorter days will also give me more of a chance to get some of that exercising and homework in. I consider myself blessed to work with such cooperative and supportive people who graciously allow me to work that type of schedule.

That should just about catch you up on the latest with us. Hope you are all doing well and we appreciate so much your continued prayers and support!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Five months in and still going ...

Hello everybody, it's Jon back with you posting. Sorry to start each one of these the same way, but I truly am sorry it has been so long since the last post. We have marked another milestone in our journey, as last Thursday was exactly five months after the stroke. I really expected to be farther along at this point, but most of that is probably due to our naivete (I prefer that word to stupidity) based on this being my first and hopefully last, serious brain injury.

We continue to make progress in therapy, although there haven't been any major breakthroughs in a while. Some of the highlights include: running (with a little assistance) in physical therapy, doing significant work on all fours in occupational therapy, and being able to use my left hand much more effectively and efficiently at home. It is also almost easy for me to get on all fours now, and to see why that is such a big deal, you need to go back a little in the blog and read about our experience the first time I tried it at Hillcrest! I don't get nearly as good of stories out of it now, though.

It was evaluation day in occupational therapy today and they actually put some numbers to my movements to compare with previous attempts. I don't know exactly how much I have improved, but it is substantial, just slower than I had hoped.

We go back to the physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor next week for our first visit in almost three months. We are hoping for good reports. And I know I've talked about it before, but we are expecting to cut back on both therapy schedules some following that appointment. We should drop to two days a week in OT and one day a week in PT with much more of an emphasis on homework and exercises between visits. I have mixed feelings about that because I enjoy the push and expertise we get at the appointments. I will have to get better about finding time at home to get it all done.

There has been some frustration at my progress over the past couple of weeks, and each time, God was there with a reminder of just how blessed I really am. Last week, I shared therapy time with a man who had a stroke similar to mine. His stroke occurred a year and a half ago, he is still confined to a wheelchair and has less use of his left arm than I have. But every word that came out of his mouth was positive about his situation and encouraging about mine. What a great message he delivered without even realizing it. Then today, during the occupational therapy evaluation, during my highest moment of frustration, I could hear the burn victim in the room next to me crying because of the pain he was in. But he refused to stop working and continued with therapy despite the obviously excruciating pain he felt. Please don't misunderstand me; I don't think God was showing me the misfortune of others to make me feel better about myself. That's not how it works or how I meant it. I think the message was that I can't spend time feeling sorry for myself because I will miss opportunities to improve.

I hope that last paragraph makes sense and my real meaning came through. Maybe that's why I don't update more often. :) I also continue to be blessed with amazing support from my family, friends, co-workers and people too numerous to mention. (Some of you probably deserve your own category anyways.) Thanks to all of you, I appreciate your continued support and interest in our progress and journey. We will write again soon, hopefully sooner than the last few times, but I can't promise that. Take care and God Bless!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On The Bright Side

Sorry it's been so long since we've updated, but we've been really busy with work, therapy and all of the kids activities. But that means, on the bright side, that life is getting back to normal. And that will be the theme of this update, with apologies to John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, we will call this one "On the Bright Side." By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, this is Jon posting again.

I had a really good day in therapy today and was able to do some things that I hadn't done before. For example, one-armed push-ups with my left arm and completely supporting my weight with that arm. It usually collapses at the elbow, so the increased strength today was very positive. My occupational therapist even told me to tell Brenda that I got an A+ for the day! It has been a long time since I got an A+ in anything. Big bright side there.

I'm still only working half days, especially on the days I have therapy. That makes for some stressful situations trying to get everything done. But on the bright side, I've been to every one of Jacob's football games and I've seen more of Brooke's soccer games this fall than the last three falls combined.

I've also been able to rely on other people at the office and have greatly improved in my ability to let some things go. That is another bright side and it has been something people wanted me to work on long before the stroke.

After our scare a couple of weeks ago and another stay in the hospital, I was very much afraid I would lose some of my progress. But not only did I keep what I had gained, on the bright side, I have more use of my left hand than before I went into the hospital. Also, I now know what seizures feel like and feel like I can handle it should that happen again.

I spent some time working on my golf swing in therapy the other day. I'm certainly not ready to get back on the course, but on the bright side, I don't swing nearly as hard as I used to and I may save a bunch of money because I don't think I can hit a golf ball far enough to lose it next time I play.

Therapy may not be progressing quite as quickly as we all hope, but on the bright side, there is constant progress and the therapists want to continue working with me. They are committed to me in the long-term, almost as much as I'm committed to it!

And perhaps most importantly, the big bright side to all of this is the understanding about how many people truly care about us. We continue to be overwhelmed by the support we've received. Thank you all for everything.

We will try to keep it from being such a long time before the next update. I also look forward to sharing more good news with you all soon. Take care and God Bless!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back Home!!

This time we'll start with the good news, we are back home!!! (if you couldn't tell from the headline).

We got home about 6:30 Wednesday night, and I know that having a good night's sleep in his own bed will make a world of difference.

So here's the scoop (at least for now). They have decided that Jon suffered a series of seizures, which according to the doctors is not too uncommon for people who have suffered a stroke. So they put him on medication to prevent any more seizures. They also did a battery of other tests, another MRI, ECHO and EEG. We're not sure about the results of the EEG, but the MRI and I think the ECHO looked good. They did not see any new bleeding, or any other problems in the brain (as Jon likes to say, they looked in my brain and didn't see anything!). The EEG will show if there are any other abnormal brain waves. It won't show previous seizure activity, but it should show if there are signals that aren't quite right, which will help them with any future treatment.

So while it was absolutely scary and unnerving, I think we are both feeling better knowing that at least for once, they seem to know what to attribute it to, and how to treat it. That's always a good thing. All the docs we saw (and there were a bunch, including one wayward hematologist who accidentally wandered into Jon's room, then realized he was in the wrong room!) were very positive about how he looked, about how the tests looked, and about the progress he's made. So that was reassuring.

We did cancel therapy for the rest of the week and he's going to stay home and rest. I did get a kick out if him asking the doctor when he could go back to work and the doctor looking at me and asking "what do you think." Good to know the docs know who's in charge!! Because it doesn't really matter what the doc says, once I get him home I'm not letting him leave anyway!

We have not seen any regression in his movement, which is what scared him the most. He can continue next week and I have no doubt will have more energy than before. So I think we just hit a minor snag, and after a few days we are back on track and back in action!

We can't thank everyone enough for the support and prayers. Once again, all of you help us. It's always good to know that when things go sour, we have so many people to lean on.

We will try to update again this weekend. Thank you again for being there for us!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Challenges

We haven't updated in a while, which we apologize for, but unfortunately we have a need to now. Yesterday was four months since Jon had his stroke, and he is back in the hospital once again. He had some issues at home yesterday afternoon. We are not sure if he's having seizures or what exactly is going on, but his muscles and his body froze up yesterday afternoon and he ended up going by ambulance to the ED. He had a few more "episodes" in the ED, including what I would consider to be some significant ones.

They did a CT scan in the ED and the good news is they didn't see any new bleeding, or any increase in size of the blood still on his brain from the stroke. So they don't think he had another stroke.

He spent the night in the hospital last night, and has numerous tests today, including another MRI, EEG and whatever else they decide to throw his way! He's in pretty good spirits, and has been completely lucid and conscious through everything. So that is more good news.

They have stopped short of confirming that he is having seizures until they have the results of their tests in, but for now, that seems to be the guess. He hasn't lost any movement in his body, and while his left side is still a bit weaker from the stroke, it doesn't seem to have affected any of the progress he has made in the last four months. So we are grateful for that. He has come a long way and had worked soooo hard, that he was incredibly worried this might compromise that. Knock on wood, we haven't seen that so far.

That is about all we know for now. We are hoping to know more later this afternoon once everyone has had a chance to review the results of the tests. And as always, thank you! We have already received so many nice texts and e-mails, and it just means the world to us. This is just a blip on our radar, and we will get back into action again soon. It's a bit discouraging for Jon, as you can image, and also very scary. But he is a trooper and he's committed to getting the rest he needs so he can start back up with therapy and hit the ground running.

The support he receives from his friends and family are invaluable, and we can't thank you enough for the continued thoughts, prayers and encouraging words. Even four months later, he was still receiving cards and comments and prayers, and that is a wonderful feeling to know we have so many people out there still hanging in there with us!

So please keep those prayers going, and wish us luck! I will try to update again later today or tomorrow once we know some more details.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

it's Baaack!

I guess we've kind of settled in to a pattern where the blog updates will come weekly instead of more frequently. There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day to do all that we'd like. This is Jon writing again as Brenda and the kids off at church. I would have gone, but today is our annual polka service. (Yes, that says POLKA service.) We agreed that with the large crowd, duration of the service and my late night at work last night, it might be best for me to sit this one out. I really think Brenda was afraid I might get caught up in the spirit and try some ill-advised dancing. So it is a quick blog update for me while I eat breakfast and then back to bed for some rest.

It has been a very busy, but productive week. On Monday, we went to watch Jacob's first 7th grade football game. His team won 6-0 and he played well in his opportunities and really seemed to enjoy himself. I know his parents did and were very proud of him. It was my first football game as a pure fan in more than 15 years. It seemed strange not to have any real responsibilities other than just watching and enjoying the game. That's a pretty good feeling.

We also had a chance to watch Brooke's soccer game, a 0-0 tie, on Saturday. She also played pretty well during her chances and we greatly enjoyed that.

UMHB hosted its first home athletic events of the fall last week. One home volleyball match down and I survived the first home football game last night. There were a few minor glitches, but hopefully no one noticed any major differences in the way things went. I struggled with fatigue last night and am really feeling it today, but as my strength continues to increase, I know that will get better. We do it all again this week and raise the difficulty by adding TWO home volleyball matches, four home soccer matches and the first golf and tennis events of the fall to this Saturday's home football game.

I was able to turn out all of the work we normally do for home events last week and I'm proud of that. I also recorded the halftime interview for the radio broadcast. I was wishing that Kayla, my speech therapist from Waco, could have heard it. We are not far removed from me not having the vocal strength or expression to have done that and to me, it was another indication of how far we've come in just over three months.

We are also continuing with our usual therapy schedule, three days a week for occupational therapy and two days a week of physical therapy. My PT decided not to cut back to once a week, hopefully because she continues to see improvement. There are no major breakthroughs to report this week, but more slow and steady progress, which I guess is a breakthrough in its own way. I get the chance to get in the swimming pool on Monday and she mentioned trying to run in the pool! I am excited about that opportunity and I will be sure to fill you in next blog update.

One side note that was a bit of an eye-opener for me this week. On two different occasions, someone referenced me as "disabled" and "crippled". There was certainly no malice intended and it wasn't said in a derogatory fashion. But it caught me off guard. I certainly don't think of myself as disabled or crippled. I just think I walk with a limp and struggle with full use of my left arm. But it did make me realize that some people think of me in those terms or see me that way. It will be a bit of a mental adjustment for me to fully understand that, and it makes me more determined than ever to keep working hard to get back to where I was before May 20th.

I think that should just about catch you up on where we are. Hope you all have a wonderful end to your weekend. I am headed back to bed for a little bit. God Bless and thank you for your continued support!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back in the Groove

Jon is taking the night off from authoring the blog, so it's my turn back in the writing saddle. It's been a hectic few weeks, and this past week was no different. Things are heating up for the family and for Jon. Now that the kids are back in school, their activities are kicking in to high gear again, which means football practice, soccer practice, piano and scouts. All good and fun things, but makes for some crazy schedules, as many of you know.

And Jon is back in the groove of football season. He's back to working weekends and some later nights. He's trying as much as he can to leave early a few days during the week so he can rest. Lingering effects of the stroke still tire him out and make a regular work-day pretty exhausting. But he's handling it like a trooper, and is making progress getting things ready for the seasons (football, soccer and volleyball), with the help of his co-workers.

In the midst of all of that, he's still finding time for therapy three days a week. He is still making progress. It might not be as constant as it has been in the past, but at least we are still making some headway. I think his walking has gotten substantially better. He really only uses his cane if he's in a big crowd. He doesn't use it at the office or at home, so that is coming along nicely.

His left arm continues to be a bit more stubborn, but it's getting there. He's still going strong in OT and they are working him hard. He passed the driving simulator, which mainly measures reaction time, so probably before too much longer he will be driving. We are still relying on the generosity of friends to get him places, and everyone is still being so great when we do need help.

He has been doing a lot of the e-stim in OT, the electrical stimulation that they use on his arm to get the muscles firing. We now have a home unit, and I was able to "shock" him for the first time tonight. I have to admit, it was pretty fun! The first couple of times it wasn't high enough so I cranked it up, and by the grimace on his face, I could tell I was moving in the right direction (and yes, I turned it down. I'll only use the high setting on special occasions:)

So while the progress continues, Jon still has a way to go to get back where he wants to be (back on the softball field for the next city league season next summer), and we can certainly still use the prayers and support. It's been more than three months since Jon had his stroke, and we are both still so thankful and grateful for the support we have. All of our friends and family are still so great about everything, and we truly appreciate it! It's not easy trying to get everything done and everyone where they need to be, and the help we have is priceless! So thank you once again to all of you out there who continue to read and comment, and who continue to hang in there with us!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rolling toward September

Hello everyone, my apologies for not following through on the promise to post more often. But this is Jon back with you after another busy week. The summer is officially over now, even though in many ways it never seemed to start for me. Brenda and Brooke are in San Antonio this weekend for Brooke's first select soccer tournament of the year.

The kids started school on Monday and are off to great starts to the school year. They really seem to like their teachers and we are happy to hear that. As I mentioned above, Brooke is in the midst of her select soccer season. Jacob started football and had his first practice in pads this morning. So things are getting busier in so many ways.

UMHB also returned to school this week. Our first official games of the 2011-2012 school year come this week, so work is really ramping up. I hope I am ready for what's coming. I am a little nervous about my first seasons "post-stroke" to see how I hold up under the increasing workload.

We met with the PM&R doctor last Monday. It was the first time we had seen him since leaving Waco. He was encouraged by the progress and saw improvement. That was encouraging to us. He also gave me the okay to extend my work days on those days I don't have therapy. So I worked a pair of six-to-seven hour days last week.

It was another busy week in therapy, too. Physical therapy continues to go well. I have two more weeks of twice-a-week PT sessions before we cut back to once a week. In her words, "We can start to phase you out. " I still feel like I have work to do and things to accomplish, but we will start to do more of that with at-home exercises and work.

OT will continue to be a three times a week affair. There is more work to do with the arm, so we will keep working it harder. The encouraging thing is that we will continue three sessions a week because I continue to make progress. If things were stagnant or "plateaued" we would back off some. We also did some testing to judge my fitness to return to driving. I did well enough to earn their recommendation. Now I will just have to convince the DPS that I'm safe to get back behind the wheel.

Now, I thought I would respond to Ellen's request to hear about some of the difficulties or challenges I face every day. I prefer to think of them as challenges because I don't want to put a negative spin on it. I am just going to be honest, so I hope it doesn't come across as complaining.

Probably the biggest challenge I face is having to rely so much on others. I'm not cleared to drive, so I have to catch a ride everywhere I go. I also have to ask people for help at work, at home, at church, and a few other places. That is not an easy thing for me to do. I am ready to be more self-reliant.

Another big challenge is dealing with simple tasks that become much harder with limited use of one arm. I can't fold clothes, dry dishes, stuff an envelope, open a jar, tuck in my shirt or button hings as easily as I could before. The frustration that goes with that presents another challenge.

At work, I think the biggest challenges are: typing with one hand, not being able to carry stuff and fatigue that seems to hit way too early. That is all getting better, but it is still something I will have to continue to overcome for a while.

I also know that I have an outstanding support system in place to help me deal with those challenges. And I am so blessed to be in the position I'm in. So many people face much greater challenges than I'm facing, I am a lucky man and I thank God for that every day. Hope you are all doing well and we will post again soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Three Months and Counting

I was going to be lazy and not post tonight, but thought I'd update everyone since its been a week since the last post. I also think it is a good idea since today marks another milestone. Three months ago today, my life changed forever. I won't call it an anniversary because that word doesn't really seem to fit here. But it is certainly a good time to reflect on where we've been and where we are.

By the way, this is Jon again. Brenda took the kids to see "Harry Potter" tonight since none of them had been to see it. I've never read any of the books or seen any of the movies, so I stayed home and watched my own little "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" marathon on DVD. (Don't judge me.)

That also gave me a chance to rest up after another hectic week. All of the fall athletes are back on campus at UMHB and that means work is really picking up. I would normally be very stressed and working 8-10 hour days this time of year. Now, I have to squeeze all of that stress into a four-hour day! :)

Our kids go back to school on Monday. I honestly can't believe the summer is over. Although certain parts just seemed to drag by at the time, in retrospect, this summer have been the quickest I've ever experienced. The kids seem to both have a mixture of excitement and nervousness (if that's even a word). I'm also not sure that either kid feels like they had a real summer.

As for me, we had three more busy days of occupational therapy and two productive days of physical therapy this week. I may not see the rapid progress I am hoping for, but as long as I and the therapists continue to see any progress, I know we are moving in the right direction!

Three months ago tonight, I was lying in bed in the ICU at Scott and White with no real idea what was happening to me. Much less an idea of what the recovery would look or feel like. At that point, just getting out of bed would have been a victory in my mind, so that tempers my frustration now. I know I have come a long way and I am very encouraged by the potential I have to move a long way from where I am now.

Three months in, I think we are past the point of major breakthroughs each day. But I also realize that even some things I consider minor are still breakthroughs. I carried a bag of groceries in from the car in my left hand today for the first time in three months. So I've got that going for me. I also hope we are past the point of any major setbacks. Everything has been so positive and encouraging to this point and I don't want to lose any of that forward momentum.

Classes also start at UMHB on Monday. I will have two interns and a work study student to help me this year. I am excited about filling those positions and getting more help. But it is also hard for me to let things go and rely on other people. I am praying for strength in that area, along with continued strength during my recovery. Your prayers are also still appreciated in all of those areas.

We go back to the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor on Monday. It will be my first visit with him since I left Waco. I am hopeful for the okay to start work toward driving again and maybe getting the okay to stretch out my work days a little on those days I'm not in therapy.

Thanks again for following along, I will try to answer Ellen's request in my next post. Hopefully in sometime less than a week from now. You have all been a big part of us getting through the last three months. Not quite sure how a person normally celebrates the three-month mark of their recovery, we are still learning through this. But none of us have any doubt that we have so MANY things to celebrate from this time-frame.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sorry for the delay

Just realized it had been almost a week since we had posted and I thought I'd better update everyone. This is Jon posting again as Brenda and the kids hit Great Wolf Lodge this weekend for an abbreviated version of summer vacation. We had planned to take a bigger trip this summer, but for some reason just didn't get it done. I am so glad they get a chance to spend some time away, they've definitely earned it! Would have loved to go with them, but I still don't think water activities are my best option right now.

So, I am here at the house with mom and dad stuck taking care of me. I appreciate the company and it sure helps having someone around in case I have to open a jar or something like that. (I've made substantial progress, but a few things like that still give me fits.) But I also like to think of myself as getting more independent and hopefully pretty soon I'll be ready to take care of myself for an entire weekend.

It is hard to believe that the kids start back to school in just over a week! The summers always seem to fly by and when you spend 43 of those days in the hospital, trust me, it speeds up even more. Things are also about to really ramp up at work. The football team reported to campus today and for the first time in 13 years, I didn't make it by to see them check in. Practice starts on Monday and I will be there to help with the media requests. I'm not sure I've gotten myself back into football shape, yet. I am also worried about cramming all of that work into my half days, but I have lots of people that are happy to help me and I feel so blessed to have such cooperative and understanding bosses and co-workers.

We had another productive week in therapy this past week. We've dropped one day of physical therapy as they seem to think I am making enough progress to do that. But I also have lots of exercises and stretches to work on during the rest of the week. I thought I was finished with homework!

I had three different therapists in occupational therapy this week. It was interesting to see the differences in approaches and exercises. But they all have something in common: they like to make me work! I enjoy that and it is certainly what I need. Each one saw progress and that is so encouraging.

The highlight of the week came on Thursday afternoon. Mom and dad picked me up from work and we went back to Hillcrest Rehab for the first time since I went home on July 1st. I had a chance to see all of the therapists I had worked with during my stay and thank them once again. It was gratifying to see the look on their faces when they saw me and the progress I was making. Everything looked very much the same, everyone was in their same places. It was almost a bittersweet experience having spent so much time there. It was great to catch up with the people in what for a time was our "home away from home." The smiles on their faces, the hugs and kind words meant the world to me. Everyone seemed genuinely pleased to see me. Apparently very few people come back on their own. No one leaves there as a finished product, and I hope it did them good to see how some of their hard work was paying off with me. I am no finished product myself, but I am glad they could see improvement. My physical therapist in Waco, Annissa, was leaving the next day to move back to her native Canada and it was important for me to say goodbye and wish her well before she left. My only regret was that Brenda couldn't go with me because they all asked about her and sent their best. I think seeing their reactions to my visit would have made her feel good, too.

That should just about catch you up on what's been going on since my last post. Thank you for continuing to follow the blog. If there is something you'd like for me to post about, I am open to suggestion. I like to give the people what they want. Thanks again to all of you, take care and God Bless!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What I've Learned

This is Jon, finishing up a relaxing weekend while Brenda and the kids enjoy themselves at a church swim party tonight. I've made a lot of progress, but don't think I'm quite ready for the pool yet!

We are about two and a half months into our adventure and I really still have no idea how long the recovery process will take, but we are certainly in it for the long-haul. I went back and re-read some of Brenda's posts and realized just how little I remember about the timing of some of those important milestones. Reading those posts was emotional for me, but it was also very educational. That got me thinking about the things I have learned so far, so please excuse my attempts at depth in this post.

I have learned that I am a little stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I went back to work 53 days after suffering what the doctors tell me should have been at least a "devastating" stroke. I am proud of that fact and also proud of how much I have accomplished since May 20th. I have also learned that there are a lot of things you simply can not do by yourself. I can't imagine trying to get through this without the support of Brenda, Jacob, Brooke, my parents, Brenda's parents, our work friends, our church friends and the prayers of people we don't even know and I certainly can't name here. My recovery to this point has definitely been a team effort and I feel like there is a multitude of people counting on me and invested in my full recovery.

I have learned that my family has in some small way touched the lives of more people than I could have ever dreamed. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of response and honestly never realized just how many people cared about us. That is a wonderful feeling and is also tremendously humbling.

I have learned that my children are incredibly strong and remarkably resilient. They have handled so much with such grace this summer. I am extremely proud of them and consider it a compliment that they have turned out to be such fine people.

I have learned how much a kind word, a smile, a card, or a prayer can mean to someone. That support kept us going through so many difficult times and I hope we can provide that same lift and comfort to others.

I have learned that the human brain is a complicated and amazing organ. The fact that I've regained so much after such a significant injury to my brain has also helped me realize how rarely we really push ourselves the way we are capable.

I have also learned that there are some easy lifestyle changes to make that will hopefully pay off. I've eaten more salads in the past two months than in the previous 40 years combined and I am also exercising regularly now. Of course, my exercise comes in the form of therapy, but I'm counting it!!!

I've learned (and hopefully I can stick with it) that I need to make and spend more time for my family. I took Friday morning off so I could watch Jacob's final day of football camp and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Probably much more than Jacob did :)

In therapy, they keep stressing the fact that I have to relearn the way to do simple tasks and I've relearned a lot this summer. I've relearned how special my wife is and just how important she is to my life. Brenda has been my biggest cheerleader throughout this process, but she has also been so much more: my strength, my best friend, my shoulder to cry or lean on, my confidant, my kick in the pants when I needed it, my scheduler, my driver, my personal chef and my soulmate. I know I am leaving some things out, but hopefully you (and she) get the idea.

I have also relearned the importance of focusing on the little things I can do as opposed to the bigger things I can't do yet. I still need to work on re-learning how not to get frustrated by those things, but I'm working on it.

I have re-learned the power of prayer and the strength we can draw from it. I know that we can't pretend to understand God's plan for us. But I know there was a reason for this and I certainly hope to make the most of my second chance.

We get back to another busy week of work and therapy this week and I look forward to the chance to share more progress with you in the near future. Thank you for letting me ramble tonight and thanks again to everyone of you for your love, support and prayers!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We're still here

First we have to apologize for not keeping the blog updated. Now that we are in somewhat of a daily routine, it's hard to remember that we need to keep everyone updated on how Jon is doing! Jon has done quite a bit since we last posted and has made even more progress.

Jon has been going strong in therapy still and is really doing well, especially in PT. Last week they gave him the green light to walk some at home without his cane, and this week they told him he could walk around some at work without it, just not long distances. So that's good news. I think he's doing very well with his walking. His gait is improving, with and without his cane, and they have been working hard on strengthening his left leg and helping him bend his knee more. This week he has been on the treadmill, which I know is much more difficult than it looks. Luckily his therapist stands behind him in case he decides to slide off the back! Luckily, we haven't seen that yet. Although I'm sure I could get us on America's Funniest Home Videos if he did!

Today she had him doing lunges, which are hard enough when you have two strong legs! I had not seen him do those yet, and I thought he did an awesome job. He could lunge with his left leg and hold himself in that position, most of the time without holding onto the rail. I thought that was very impressive.

I know he's still frustrated because the arm still has a long way to go, but I can tell he's making progress in OT. Each time he goes, they have him lay on his back, and hold his left arm up. The first few times we tried that, he couldn't hold it up. Now he can hold it up some, and each time, it seems like he can hold it longer and longer. The focus right now is on his shoulder. If he can gain some additional strength in his shoulder, that will help everything else. And I see some progress there as well.

Around the house we are really seeing some small signs that he's coming along. He was able to use his left hand to turn on a light and hold on to the laundry basket. These sound like such small things, but for us, those are huge milestones that are very encouraging. He's supposed to be using his left arm more and more, even if he can't actually do much with it, he's trying to do more and more with it. And one day, it will kick in!

Jon saw his primary care doctor this week, and it wasn't very illuminating. As usual, they still can't figure out what happened, but overall his doctor is very encouraged by his progress. He has one more MRI to look forward to in a few months, so that is our last ditch effort to see if we could find something. Jon hates those MRIs, so he's definitely not looking forward to it.

Overall things are going fine with the family. The kids are starting their activities again, so it's going to get even more hectic, but that's what life with kids is like.

We appreciate everyone continuing to ask about Jon and his progress, and the encouragement we still receive on a daily basis. Thanks for hanging in there with us!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another long and productive day

We haven't posted in a while, but Jon has still been busy these last few days. He's had two days of therapy so far this week, and they have been working him hard.

Both days in PT, they have had him on the stair stepper, which he has not done before. He's done one machine where he sits and the motion is more back and forth. But on this one, he had to stand up and take actual steps, which I know wore him out. But he did it! It's still hard for him to completely bend his left knee, but when forced, the knee can bend. He has also been walking more and more without his cane (hopefully only at home and therapy and not at work!). I think his gait has improved significantly. And people we saw this week who we haven't seen in days or weeks even comment on how his walking is getting better and better.

OT has been tough, but he's definitely been making progress. Each day this week he's done something he has not been able to do before. He can hold his arm up a bit more than he could, he actually had some movement in his wrist, and has had more strength in his hand and was able to hang on to cones, which he couldn't do. So I think he's made some great strides this week!

Jon also had an appointment with the hematologist this week, to see if there was something that showed up in his blood work that might indicate a reason for his stroke. So the good news is they did not find anything. Of course that means we still don't know what caused it, but we are both relieved that they didn't find anything that worried them.

Overall I think things are going pretty well. Again our friends at UMHB have been great about taking Jon to work and bringing him home. And our friends at church have been terrific. For two weeks, we've had wonderful people who have picked Jon up at the house and bring him to S&W for his therapy. That has been a tremendous help! It's tough for all of us to juggle working, kids, therapy and extracurricular activities, but with the help of some wonderful friends, we're getting through it just fine.

So thank you again to all who continue to help and offer support. After two months, we still need it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Another day of firsts

This is Jon, back in the "author's seat". I just wanted to post a quick update, as we close out another busy week. I had PT and OT today, and mom and dad gave me a ride and watched therapy for the first time since we came home.

It was a day of milestones, just one day after I was told I was lucky to be where I am today. I got the okay in PT to move full-time to a single point cane. And was also told that I could walk around the house without use of a cane at all - sometimes! That moves me one stop closer to walking without assistance, something that has been a goal for the last two months and two days. We also spent a lot of time on working on restoring strength to my left leg. And I definitely feel it - during therapy and after! More work means a bit more soreness and fatigue, but it's worth it all.

I also had a full day in OT. We worked on regaining movement and after almost a month of not seeing me in therapy, mom saw significant progress, which is another source of encouragement. I don't always see the progress, since I'm so close to the process. I am looking forward to a chance to rest up over the weekend before facing another busy week next week. And I feel blessed to have that opportunity in light of yesterday's news.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Good and Not-so-Good News

Brenda is back doing the narration today, and it's been another busy day in the Wallin household. Jon didn't have therapy today, but had an appointment with the neurologist this morning, so he spent the morning in my office with me before we headed over.

Overall the appointment went well, even though we did hear some good news and some not-so-good news. For the first time since the stroke, we were able to see the MRI results and see how big the bleed was/is. Both of us were surprised at just how big of an area it covered. The doctor told us it was a 6.5cm bleed (close to two and a half inches, ish!). When you think about the total size of the brain and how much room there is in there, that's a pretty substantial amount. All along we've been told he had a "substantial bleed," but we really had no idea what that meant, or how big that actually was. But today we definitely got an idea!

While the neurologist was encouraged by Jon's progress, he pretty bluntly told us he was more amazed that Jon pulled through at all. It's hard to sugar coat what he said, but he basically told us that many patients with that large of a bleed don't survive, or if they do, end up comatose. That one statement definitely brought tears to my eyes! I'm not sure we both realized how close we were to a much different outcome. And while all along we've been thanking God for His role in Jon's recovery, we are even more thankful that he was able to come through it like he did!

So to say the least, Jon's doctor was very impressed with his recovery to date, and very encouraged and encouraging that much more is to come. That was wonderful to hear! So the good news: the recovery continues - we continue to see progress and everyone around us is encouraged that much more is to come; the not-so-good news: they don't know what caused it and because it was such a substantial bleed, there is still a significant amount of blood on the brain, which means it might take a bit longer than we had hoped to recover. But we do know it's not an IF for recovery, it's a WHEN!

While parts of the appointment were scary and eye-opening, it makes Jon feel somewhat better knowing that because of the severity of the stroke - it will take some time before everything comes back, and we can't get too discouraged if it still takes longer than we hoped.

It's back to therapy tomorrow. Jon's parents are coming into town to take him, their first time since Jon started outpatient therapy. I know they are anxious to get a first-hand look at how he's progressing. Then I think we will all be ready for the weekend!

And while we've known since the day of the stroke that prayers and God's oversight have gotten us through this, it was made pretty clear again today just how much God has literally carried and blessed us. So again we have to say Thank You to Him and to all who offered their prayers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Two Months In

This is Jon back with you, but hopefully I can talk Brenda into taking over before I finish. Today marks the two month anniversary (although that really doesn't seem like right word to use) of the stroke. It seems hard to believe how much progress has been made in that time. It hasn't always gone quickly, but as we look back, I really have come a long way.

I've made it through my first week and a half back at work. I'm still working half days, but I've accomplished a few things in that time and it feels very good to get some work sent out of the office. I had a full day of therapy today, and boy can I feel it. We worked hard on restoring movement in my left arm during occupational therapy and saw some positive things. There was a little more movement than in recent days. That was encouraging and certainly makes the hard work seem worthwhile. I even got to make a few of what the therapist called my "Arnold"poses. Now I just need to get some muscles to go with those poses. He also used the e-stim unit and got some movement out of the shoulder that was new. For those of you who have followed the blog all along, I spent some time working on all fours and did without any "incidents" like the last time we worked on that in Waco.

In physical therapy today, we worked a lot on balance. There is still some work to do there, but I should be ready for a round of Wii Fit any day now! We also got the go-ahead to buy a single-point cane. That would bring us one step closer to walking completely on my own. I also consider that to be very encouraging.

We go to the neurologist tomorrow and hopefully we might get a few answers as to a cause. That will be the first of several doctors appointments coming up in the next few weeks.

As I look back over the last two months, in some ways it seems to have flown by. But in other ways, the stroke seems to have happened years ago. Not knowing what to expect going into this "adventure" has made it difficult to gauge progress. But I do know that I am encouraged by what we've accomplished and I certainly feel more independent. The therapists and doctors all know that we want and expect a full recovery and it is nice to all be on the same page, working to that end. Thanks again for your support, this has definitely been a team effort.

I've just about run out of things to say, and I couldn't talk Brenda into taking over. I'll get her back on line with her take on things soon. Take care and thanks for reading!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tag - I'm It!

Apparently we are now tag-teaming the blog! So the wifey is back in charge. It's easier for me to write than Jon, because I give more detail and talk more about how well he's doing than he will!

Jon has had a busy but productive week. He went back to work Monday (really Tuesday) and has worked every day this week. I think that's a pretty good accomplishment considering it's just about seven weeks since he suffered his stroke. Fortunately for us, he works at a great place and has great friends who are willing to pick him up at the house and bring him home every day at lunch! That helps me out a great deal, and we really appreciate the continued support.

I think work has gone pretty well for him. But in addition to heading back to the office, he's back in therapy, although not as often as we would like. We are used to the 3-4 hour/day schedule we were on in Waco. So to only go a few days a week is difficult. But they are definitely working him hard when he is there.

He had both physical and occupational therapy a few times this week, and they are definitely pushing him, which he likes. Even though the sessions are shorter, they are more intense, so we hope after a few more appointments, we'll start to see the results! In physical therapy he's working on refining how he walks. He strictly uses his cane now, hasn't been in his chair since we've been home, so they are helping him strengthen and "perfect" his gait. Next week he starts three days a week, so that will be good.

In occupational therapy, he's definitely working hard! His therapist is as determined to get him back to full function as he is, and that makes both of us feel great! He had a long session today and worked a lot on shoulder movement - which is coming along - and strengthening his elbow. We've only had a few sessions, and I know Jon wants to see big progress each time, but it will come. For now, once again, we're glad to see even some minor progress, and we are definitely seeing that! We have to keep reminding ourselves we are in this for the long haul - nothing is an easy fix - so we just have to hunker down and get through it.

Overall, I think Jon has had a great week. He's back at work, back in therapy and our little family is starting to get back into a routine. Our lives will still be challenging, but we can deal with that. It's easy to dwell on what we don't have, what we've lost, what we are facing, but when we truly look at our lives, it's easy to see that despite what we are dealing with, we are truly blessed. We have each other, we have friends, we have family, a church filled with members who stand behind us, and we have faith. With all of this, there's no doubt not only will we get through it, we'll be stronger and recognize how lucky we are!

So stay tuned. There's no telling who will be at the helm next post! But we'll keep everyone updated! Thank you all again for your continued support and encouragement.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Day Back

So, it's Jon here again. Just returned home after my second day of work. The first two days back in the office have not been my most productive, but it has been SO good to get back and see everyone. I am limited to four hours a day in the office right now, but I'm looking forward to being able to stretch that out some again soon.

We also went back to therapy on Monday and it was refreshing to be able to get back to "work" on my recovery. Most of the day was spent with evaluation. I must have done okay because the physical therapist felt like two days of therapy a week will be enough. We may push for more as we go along, but I saw that as a positive. The occupational therapist sounds much more aggressive. we will be going three days a week for what he called a "very aggressive" month of therapy. I am a little concerned by that, but am looking forward to some immediate or rapid progress.

We go back to the hospital tonight for another MRI and testing that we hope will reveal a cause for the stroke. I had to have more blood drawn this morning and I am tired of being stuck with needles. Hopefully, we are almost finished with that aspect, too.

Just wanted to give everyone a quick recap and I will keep working on getting Brenda to return to the blog soon. Thanks and God Bless!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

More New Beginnings

Once again, this is Jon typing the blog as I give Brenda another night off. Tomorrow (Monday) will be a really big, but we'll have more on that in a minute.

We had a nice relaxing weekend as we tried to rest up for a big week. The family went to church together for the first time since the stroke this morning. It was a great feeling to get back and say thank you face-to-face to so many people for their prayers, cards, support and encouragement. Then we went out to lunch and made it home just in time to watch the U.S. Women's Soccer teams incredible comeback victory over Brazil. It was so much fun to see Brooke's reaction and excitement. That probably sounds mundane to most of you, but we've come to enjoy the mundane since it gives us a chance to get back to the way things were before the stroke.

We will have more "new beginnings" tomorrow. I will return to work tomorrow morning for the first time since May19th. I will be on what the doctor calls "light duty" for the time being as I continue to build up stamina. Then we have my physical and occupational therapy evaluations on Monday. It will be nice to get back to "work" in that way, too. We also hope to get my therapy schedule tomorrow so that we can make some plans and get a better idea of what my days will be like for the next few weeks.

Thanks for putting up with another entry from me and I promise to turn things back over to Brenda soon. Sorry for the delay in posting, but there hasn't been a whole lot to report. Hopefully, progress will pick up again this week and we will have more good news to share again soon. Also, thanks to all of you for continuing to follow our blog!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jon takes over the blog

I have hijacked the blog from Brenda, so please bear with me. I can promise that this edition will not be as clever or well-written as most. But I will do my best to get you up-to-date.

We've made it through five days at home and I think we've adjusted pretty well. There haven't been any major problems, although I do feel a little lazy since I am not currently in therapy. That all changes next Monday when we go to Scott & White for my outpatient evaluations. A series of follow-up doctors appointments will follow in rapid succession as we continue to search for a cause for the stroke and check my progress from it.

We have spent a lot of time being a family again over the past week: We've watched a bunch of movies, played a bunch of games and just been together. That has been very nice, but the kids are going back to camp and Brenda goes back to work tomorrow, so another shot of reality is on the way.

We've also made a couple of forays out into the "real world" and those have gone well. We've been to a couple of my favorite restaurants in an effort to keep Brenda from having to do so much around the house. I am afraid I can only use the stroke as an excuse to get out of housework for a limited time.

I mainly took over the blog tonight because I wanted to say a few things about Brenda and she won't ever type them when I ask her to. She has been so amazing and so strong over the past 48 or 49 days. She's always been there for me, spent as much time as possible with me in therapy, has returned to work, organized someone to be with the kids when she couldn't be here, cooked dinners, cleaned the house, and so many more things that I know I am forgetting. But she has also faithfully kept this blog and has done an amazing job even when she typed through tears. I appreciate that more than I can ever tell her. I could never have made it through this without her and her reaction to our successes was the major inspiration for me to reach new highs. I definitely married up and feel so blessed to have her in my life.

I also hope to return to work on a limited basis next week, so there will be another step on our return to our new "normal."

Thank you for letting me take over for tonight and hopefully we will return to my ghostwriter soon. I apologize for any typos and for any rambling. I also want to express my thanks to all of you for following this blog and for your prayers, support and encouragement.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Day We Came Home

Day 43, and we finally made our way back home! It was the day we have been looking forward to for so long, and it's great to finally be back home.

It was an emotional morning, as Jon finished therapy on his last day. And they did not take it easy on him. He had a busy day in PT first thing this morning. He walked more without his cane and worked on balance. One thing they want is for Jon to become more steady when standing on surfaces that don't offer the same support as the tile floor he got used to walking on. So if he ends up on grass or in mud, he is learning how to keep his balance. That is another one of those things that sounds easier than it is. I think this is something we will do more of once we begin outpatient therapy.

OT and speech went as usual, and they sent Jon home with some tools that he can use to continue to build strength in his arm.

We finished therapy at noon, and by that time had already signed all of our paperwork to be discharged! So it was a surprise to be able to leave earlier than anticipated (and before lunch, so we could avoid another hospital meal).

Jon was able to say goodbye to each of his therapists, and before he left, they all came by to wish him well. It was an emotional farewell and I know that while they were happy to see him head home, they were sad to see him go. They've all become pretty attached to him and all take pride in the progress he's made. So while we were ready to get out, it was hard to leave the new "family" who adopted him for the last five weeks.

Our foray out of our hospital home was successful, and we had a good lunch in Waco before heading home. We're getting used to being out and about, and while it's not always comfortable, I think it will get easier the more we do it.

I'll let Jon give his account of what it was like for him to come home.

"As we turned the corner to pull up to the house, Jacob, Brooke and my mother and father were standing behind homemade signs they had taped to the fence welcoming me home. They were all waving and beaming, and I have to admit it was another pretty emotional moment. I was not expecting that and didn't even know the kids were home. But I can't imagine a better homecoming than the welcoming party waiting in my front yard.

We ate dinner at home as a family for the first time since May 19 (granted it wasn't a home-cooked meal, but those will come soon!). It was a great feeling to see our life beginning to return to normal. And while there is still plenty of work to be done before the recovery is complete, we have made such great strides already and have a great head start heading into outpatient therapy. Being at home together as a family can only help speed up the process.

And because we have been through so much and have been able to accomplish so much, some of the days seem to run together and it's hard to keep up with all we have done on each day. So I am thankful that we have the blog to keep not only you all posted, but gives us a record that we can look back on. And yes there is video of some of my accomplishments, but I'm fighting the 'release' of that footage for public viewing. But I know Brenda will show it at some point!"

We are looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home, and spending more time together as we adjust to life on the "outside". We hope everyone has a happy Independence Day, and thank you all again for the well wishes.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 42- Homecoming Eve!

Oh my where to begin! Today was a very joyous day as we celebrated Jon's birthday, even though it was tempered a bit because we had to celebrate in the hospital. But it was a big day! We FINALLY head home tomorrow, and as we've said before, we have mixed feelings. We have a little bit of unease on the eve of the day we have looked forward to for so long, but we are obviously excited about Jon being home and our little family being together once again.

Jon's next to last day of inpaitent therapy was another busy one. He had two full hours of PT with lots of walking, without the cane! (granted his therapist was by his side the whole time and made it frighteningly clear that it only happens when she's around!) Jon climbed stairs and went up and down curbs, getting ready for his foray into the "real" world. He is slowly realizing that the things we take for granted are more of a challenge than he ever expected.

OT and speech therapy went well as usual, and while the progress in OT might be a bit slower than what we see in PT, it's still progress! So we are grateful for anything we see.

Jon had a chance to spend his birthday with the family. His mom and dad brought the kids up so we could have a birthday dinner (which did NOT include hospital food) and his favorite - RED VELVET CAKE! We were able to spend some time together, play games and unwind and have fun. It felt like we were already getting back to "normal", which gives us the encouragement that although we've been thrown quite a curve ball, we're back on the path to normalcy and it's going to get even better from here.

As we get ready to head home, we have to mention that the staff here have been wonderful and have truly helped Jon achieve his goals. Their work and support, combined with the outpouring of encouragement we have received from our family and friends have also helped Jon achieve his number one goal - to WALK out of rehab.

And as we go through this and keep up with the blog, I keep thinking more and more about things that we haven't said and people we haven't thanked. And of course, I realize we haven't thanked enough those who are the closest to us - our parents. I know for a fact we could not have gotten through this without the love and support of our parents. Looking back, we wonder how we got through all that we did, and I can't imagine having to go through something like this without our moms and dads! And thankfully, we didn't have to. Jon's parents have been by our side since the night Jon had his stroke. They have made countless trips to Temple and Waco, have stayed with Jon in the hospital, kept our kids at their house and stayed at our house to help with kids and cats! And Jon's sister and her family have been there since day one! We can't thank you all enough, and we know it won't end when Jon goes home.

And my parents have been with us throughout it all as well. From the night of the stroke, when my mom rushed into town to keep the kids, to the day Jon gets to go home, they have offered love, support, encouragement and help with household chores! I know we can never repay what they have given, but it's important for us to share with all of our friends how much support we have in our own families and how much it means to us that even though we are grown (I won't say old!), we never stop being kids to our parents. We know they will do anything they can to help, which means more than we can ever express or show. So thank you to Jon's parents - Jimmy and Katherine, his sister Jennifer, my parents - Joe and Marilyn Hammer, and my brothers. We love you all and wanted to embarrass you by calling you out in the blog!!!

Tomorrow will be a busy day, and we'll try to update when we get home, but it might be Saturday before we get to post again. But one last thank you to all of you who have showered us with support for the last five weeks. We can never repay you, but please know you've all played a part in Jon's recovery, and he's fired up to get home and keep the momentum going!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 40

The Countdown Continues, Only Three Days Left! This week seems to be flying by, maybe because we know we are in the final days of our stay in Waco, but it's hard to believe after everything, we'll be home in three days! I've been in Temple since Sunday night, so I haven't been able to see Jon's therapy for the last few days, so I'll let him do the talking again. But as usual, he's a man of few words, so I'm thinking there was much more to his day than this! But he's making great progress and is determined to make even more. So here's Jon's account of his day.

"We are in the final days of rehab and things continue to go well. In PT we worked on recovering after a fall, which we hope we will never have to use. Then I walked 160 feet without a cane this afternoon, took a break and then walked some more. I played soccer with my mother, without holding on to anything.

I get another taste of freedom tomorrow, with a field trip to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, as they try to get us out in real life situations. Then I'll be back for two final days of therapy, then head home on Friday. I will have to celebrate my birthday in the hospital, but will be home the next day! I am still nervous about leaving and know we still have a lot of work to be done, but we are anxious to get back to our new 'normal' life, whatever that becomes."

I'm headed back to Waco tomorrow night so I can be there for the last two days of therapy. Hopefully we can inject a bit more "umph" into the posts:)

And we haven't said this nearly enough, but both of us are so blessed to work for such wonderful places! The outpouring of support from Jon's UMHB family has made him literally speechless on so many occasions. And through our many weeks in Waco, not a week has gone by that he hasn't received cards, visitors and e-mails cheering him on. That means the world to both of us. He truly feels blessed and valued because of the support he has received. So on behalf of both of us, Thank You to everyone at UMHB! We couldn't have done it without you.

And on my behalf, I have often become overcome by the outpouring of support for my husband, who many of my co-workers don't even know! I've been allowed to take the time I need to be with him, and that has meant the world to me. I don't know how I would have been able to handle it without that support. So again, on behalf of both Jon and myself, thank you to the S&W friends who have been there to listen, support and encourage me during this journey!

Please keep hanging in there with us and wish him luck as he finishes up a few intense days before heading home.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 38

It's been a while since we've updated, and we have had a lot going on! It's been a big weekend for Jon. Yesterday, he was given a six hour reprieve and we got to go home!! That was awesome. He's set to be discharged on July 1, so they wanted to give him his day pass a few days before he went home. That gave us a chance to look around the house to see what we need to do to make it a bit more "cane-friendly".

Yesterday was kind of a surreal day. I know it was strange for him to ride in the car, something he hasn't done in five months, and strange for him even just to be home - to sit on the couch, dodge the cats, sit on the bed, etc. And we admit it did make us both a bit nervous to leave here. We were leaving our safety zone, and going out into a world that he hasn't seen in nearly six weeks, and one that isn't as "safe" as the rehab center. So that did make us a bit nervous. But he did well. It wasn't all sunshine and roses, but we made it there and back in one piece, so for me, that's an accomplishment!

As we came back yesterday, I got the feeling someone far above me is looking down with a bag of popcorn watching my life and getting quite a kick out of it. Getting back to the room was a comedy of errors! I dropped him off at the door and got him back in his chair. Then I parked and headed back inside with my arms loaded with dinner, laptop, etc. I had Jon's "permission" papers in my purse, but apparently not in there very well. So as I crossed the street, they just blew right out of my purse and the wind took them from there! So I stood in the street watching them get farther and farther - with his name and medical record number on them! Then the oh- so-helpful Waco city bus driver honked at me, like I didn't know all our paperwork was blowing down the street! So I tried to chase them as well as I could, knowing there was a bus load of people watching and I'm assuming getting quite a kick out of it! I was able to chase two down and step on them and get them back, and watched as car after car drove over the last sheet, blowing it farther away. I wasn't quite sure if I was about to laugh or cry, but I think it was somewhere in the middle. All I wanted to do was look up and say "really??? hope you're enjoying it!!!" At that point, luckily the bus driver stopped in the road and picked up my last sheet. So I did get them all back. By the time I got back to help get Jon upstairs I was ready to just crawl under the covers and call it quits for the night!

So everything for us is an adventure, and when we get home Friday, I think we'll go straight home and play it safe.

But Jon continues to really improve and getting him home will be a huge deal for him. I think being in his own environment will only speed his recovery. He has outpatient PT and OT to look forward to - more than likely three days a week. But that will be good. He's making such good progress, we want to keep the momentum going!

Thank you all for hanging in there with us, and please keep the prayers for strength, determination and recovery coming. Jon still has a way to go in his recovery, and going home will be a new challenge for us, somewhat daunting at first, but one we are looking forward to.

And as always, thank you all for your love and support!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 35

The countdown is on! One week from tomorrow (Friday), we'll be headed back home. It's actually hard to believe we'll be back together all under one roof. It hasn't been that long since we've been together, but sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago!

Jon had another busy day today. I think they are determined to work him as hard as they can in the short time they have left. In PT, we worked on getting in and out of the van, which went better than we thought.

I had to leave right after PT to get to work today, so I missed out on all the afternoon therapies. But Jon said it all went well. He started today on his extra 30 minutes of PT. They cut speech therapy short and added that extra 30 to physical therapy, which is great. So by dinner time, he was definitely worn out!

He was able to make it to breakfast this morning using just his cane. And what a treat to be able to leave the wheelchair in the room. But for lunch and dinner, he was feeling the fatigue and resorted back to the chair, which is good. I'm actually impressed that he recognizes when he's tired and doesn't push himself too hard.

It's been a pretty exhausting week for both of us, but it makes it easier knowing we'll soon be home. I know it won''t be easy once we get there, but at least we will be more comfortable.

We have received the loveliest cards and well wishes this week, and you all can't imagine how much they mean to us. They seem to come when I'm having my low moments, and they make all the difference. So thank you all again for your support.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 34

As you can tell, I've been a bit off with my dates, but in looking at the calendar, today is 33 days since Jon had his stroke, and we never would have thought then how far he would come!

Today started out slow, but Jon had another good day. He didn't have any therapy until 2pm, and then went straight until 5, so he was pretty wiped out by dinner time.

He's been making progress in PT each day. Today she had him walking with his cane on carpet and back onto the tile, so he gets a feel for the differences in walking from one surface to the next. The first round on the carpet was a bit difficult I think, but after that he did great! He even walked up and down the ramp and up and down a few stairs. He's been working very hard on getting more movement in his ankle and toes and it shows! That helps when he has to go up the stairs, because he's able to pick his foot up a bit better and his toes don't drag as much on the steps when he lifts his foot up.

He's been using his quad cane more and more each day. On Tuesday, he walked 335 feet! He walked from the therapy gym to his room. That was a big accomplishment for him. Now the therapists are working less on distance and more on quality and form. He will be able to mainly use just the quad cane when we go home, so they are working with him on how he's walking, not just how far.

OT is going well, the arm is just slower in coming back than the leg. But it will get there.

And as we've said his speech therapy has been just wonderful and he's made tremendous progress. He took a test today that was a check of his cognitive ability. It was actually a re-test. He took the same test the first week he was here, and needless to say, his newest score was just a wee bit better! The first time, he scored in the 42nd percentile (which equates to the cognitive ability of a 13-year-old!). This time, as I'm sure all of you can believe, he finished in the 91st percentile!! His speech therapist told him today that he has made more progress faster than any patient she has had! And that does not surprise me a bit. I told her it was imperative he has all of his cognitive function back asap, because he's the brain for both of us, and I need to be able to rely on him for all of the useless information I never remember - and he always does!

But the best news of the day was that we get to go home sooner than anticipated! We were originally scheduled to head out on July 5, but because he's making such good progress, he gets to go home July 1 (after a full day of therapy, of course). So that is very exciting. It also makes us a little nervous, because this place has become our safety net, and we know that even though he's being pushed, he's also being watched over and protected. Once we get home, all bets are off! But we are both excited. It's been a long time since we've all be under one roof, and it's going to mean so much to the kids to have their Dad back.

But while we might be headed home, the work will not stop. He will most likely be in outpatient therapy - both OT and PT - three days a week. We will be able to drop speech, and just focus on the other therapies. So he will still be busy, but at least he can sleep in his own bed and eat our food (unfortunately with me as the cook, the quality will most likely not improve substantially! He will most likely get very tired of spaghetti and tacos!).

The day Jon gets home from the hospital will be a busy one, so once we get settled back in, we'll let folks know when they can start visiting. I think he will need a day or two to get re-acclimated. I know lots of people will want to visit, and we welcome everyone, but we will take a few days to get organized (so I can clean my house!) before we get to that point.

So all is well in Waco. We continue to get visitors and cards and that means the world to us. When everyone comes to visit, they are so encouraging that it truly lifts Jon's spirits and makes him feel like he's making progress. So thank you for the continued support!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

We haven't posted in a while, because it's been such a hectic weekend. But we hope everyone out there had a good Father's Day! Ours wasn't ideal - spending it in the hospital (the first of three special occasions before Jon gets to go home), but I think Jon had a nice day. Both of our dads were able to come up, so we got to spend a nice day with all of the men in the family!

We haven't updated since Thursday, and Jon has been doing well since then. He walked more on Friday, and even some on Saturday. He's getting used to his cane (even though the therapist won't let him have one to take back to his room - for some reason she doesn't seem to trust him - go figure!). But he seems to think he can talk her into it this week.

Jon had a good day in all of his therapy sessions Friday. He was finally able to put in his contacts, which was a big deal for him. For those who haven't heard the story (which can't be many of you ), he had them on when we he had his stroke and we tried to take them out in the ICU the night of his stroke, and at that point he had lost all movement in his left arm, so getting his left contact out was a chore. It took a brave nurse to go in after it! So he's been leery about putting them back in. But the occupational therapist worked with him on how to put them in with little or no help, and he's done great!

He also learned how to tie his shoes one handed! We're excited that he learned something new, but we're also looking ahead and are hopeful he will soon be able to use both hands for that type of thing. Sometimes it can be a bit depressing learning how to compensate for having the use of only one arm, but we keep telling ourselves it's only temporary, and as long as he keeps working hard, he won't have to do it that way much longer. But for now, he does like being able to do more things like that for himself. So it's a good thing!

During speech therapy, Jon did some actual work and typed up a press release that he needed to do for work, so he was able to combine some therapy with some actual work! And of course that made him feel great, that he's able to accomplish some things even while he's recuperating. And I think speech therapy is doing wonders for him. You could not tell by looking at him that he's had a stroke. All of the facial weakness has disappeared and I think his speech is back where it was, and his pitch and intonation are great! And up until the end of last week, his voluntary facial movements - forced smiles, raising his eyebrows, puckering his lips - were all one sided. His left side didn't move as much. But now, at least I think, he really has complete control of all of those involuntary movements, so both sides of his face move. So I think that's huge progress!

The kids came up Saturday and were able to watch him walk with his cane for the first time, and they were sooooo excited! They were just grinning from ear to ear. His gait is getting better, and he is getting closer to a more normal step with his left leg, instead of what he calls his "Frankenstein" step! And he set a new record for walking - walking 282 feet! And my new nickname for him is Rainman, because they keep asking him to guess how far he's walked, and he always gets it within a foot or two! Next thing you know he'll be counting toothpicks on the floor!

Today for Father's Day we had a rotating door much of the day, which is how he likes it. Jacob left for a week-long church camp and the youth stopped by to see Jon on their way out of town, and I know that meant the world to him. So we truly do appreciate the visits, the cards and the support.

I'm at home tonight and going back to Waco tomorrow night, so we will post again on Tuesday.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 27

I have to start out saying sorry and thank you! I just realized I had a typo in my title last night, and am reading through past blogs and seeing all the typos and random sentences I have. And so far, you all have been very polite to not bring those to our attention, so thank you!

As for today, it's been a day filled with progress and a lot of awkward humor! I've said before elements of my life would make perfect Seinfeld episodes, and today was a perfect example. We'll get to that in a moment, but overall Jon has had another good day. He progressed today to a "quad" cane, one of the canes that has the four legs on the bottom. He didn't walk as far or as much, but the cane is more difficult for him to walk with. It doesn't offer as much support, so it forces him to put more weight on his left leg (I've decided to quit calling it his bad leg - I don't want him to develop a complex!) and shift his weight more than he has before. In his words, it's still not very graceful, but as far as I'm concerned, any time he can get up on two legs and keep moving, it's great. The knee still doesn't want to cooperate, but it will get there.

And we had another big first today. Jon was able to move his ankle for the first time! They had him lay on his stomach (which was another first), and lifted his left leg so it was bent at the knee. Then she had him push his toes down, and he did! So the therapist was encouraged with that movement and actually had him do his walking without his ankle brace to see if he could get some movement when he walked.

The walking came towards the end of the PT session, which had a bumpy start! We'll set the story up by explaining that his therapist really rode him hard today! So they had him face down on the mat while she worked on his legs, which was going very well. They then decided that they wanted him on all fours so they could put a big exercise ball under his stomach and have him roll on the mat. Here is where you have to use your imagination to visualize how it went from there. With him on his stomach, his therapist stood on the table, straddling his body so she could help him pull himself up on all fours. Well, of course, he can't move his left leg, so bringing it up at the knee to get on all fours is not an easy task. So with some assistance from some other therapists, his therapist was able to slowly get him up on his hands and knees. The problem came when she underestimated how tall he would be on all fours, and she quickly realized she was sitting on his back, her feet at that point off of the mat, and it looked more like a "horsie" ride than therapy. She quickly realized the session was going down hill, but I think she was laughing too hard to move by herself. And at this point, pretty much the whole gym is quite interested in Jon's new "therapy", and we became the show to watch. It was by far the funniest thing I have seen in a long time, and of course I forgot about the Flip Cam I had in my pocket, or you would be watching it instead of having to visualize it (and this is where you can refer to the above phrase "his therapist rode him hard today).

The therapists know about our blog and quickly said they had no doubt they would be featured in tonight's blog! And yes, they are. Once they had him up (and her off!), it went swimmingly, but it definitely gave the "gang" something to laugh about.

So it's nice to know that in the midst of what is by far one of the most difficult and emotional times of our lives, there is humor and fun to be found. So again, we find things to be grateful for.

We will update again tomorrow, but after today, just about everything will be fairly anticlimactic! Unless he jumps up and runs out of his wheelchair - then you will hear us cheering from Waco!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 26s

Oh my what a day!!! I've been in Temple working since Monday, so I missed two days of therapy, and it seems like I've missed a week! I can't believe the progress Jon has made even in the short amount of time I was gone. He is working so hard and it is definitely showing.

He's been using his "hemi" walker since Saturday and really is improving on it. He still needs some help to steady his knee, but he's gaining so much strength and endurance that he can walk more and more each day. Today he walked 166 feet! He even walked up a few stairs. He can't quite bring his knee up to the step, but with the help of the therapist he could make it, even turn, then come back down. So that was great to see. I couldn't stop smiling at the progress he's made. He seems to have more energy, more enthusiasm and of course more of his "dare devil" streak, so he keeps doing things he's not supposed to be doing!!! So I told on him today, and he's had some nice lectures from his therapist.

He ended up having two hours of PT today, and didn't have OT at all, so that worked out well. His therapist worked with him in the room and was able to see that he can pretty much transfer himself in and out of bed by himself, so that is significant as well. And he can turn himself better in bed, so hopefully they won't have to keep turning him every two hours. In his second session of PT, he was on a NuStep, which is similar to an elliptical machine, but you sit down. And that is great for his leg strength. It helps him work his knees and keep bending them, but it really wears him out! He will keep doing that every day, so he should keep improving more each day.

In speech therapy he actually had to write a "story" similar to what he would do at UMHB, and he was able to do it in 13 minutes, which we think is pretty good for one hand!

So overall, he's having another good week. He's so determined to get back into shape and it shows, and all of the staff are determined to help him! I know it comes as no surprise that he's working as hard as he is, but I do have to brag and say how proud I am of him. His attitude is wonderful and it's amazing how much a positive attitude affects progress! He is so nice to the other "residents" and is so encouraging to them, and it's so touching to see him reach out and encourage those who aren't as determined and encouraged as he is. And that is the Jon we all know and love!

I have no doubt that all of your support and encouragement are helping him daily, and we continue to thank God for the love and support we have. And of course, we thank you too!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 24

Jon had another busy Monday, which is just how he likes them! He started bright and early again with PT at 8am, after spending part of the night without air conditioning. So he's definitely had better nights.

He was back on the walker today in PT, and walked 62 feet, rested and walked 61 feet. He also used the stationary bike for the first time, but after a few times of his foot falling off, they used an ace bandage to keep it tied to the bike. He's doing well, but I think he's getting a bit "cocky" about getting out of his chair! So all of those who come to see him remind him that he's supposed to stay in his chair!!!! I don't want to have to make them put the alarm on his chair and bed that goes off when he gets up!!

His therapist today was pleased with his progress. She spent the weekend in Vegas, and she put her money on 16 on the roulette wheel - since that was the first distance he walked - and she won! So we take that as a good sign that he's meant to get back up (even though we know most people don't condone gambling - but who are we to complain).

He spent more time on the mat in OT and is working hard on getting more movement back in his arm. He's now able to close his fingers a bit more. The therapist asked him to squeeze her hand, which he did, but still has a hard time opening his fingers back up again. In his words, he can hold someone's hand, but can't let go! But that will come.

In speech, he was able to actually work on some work-related projects, typing sports stories - similar to what he would do in his job. That's great progress too. So Coach Shipp and Dr. O'Rear will be happy to know he's getting some on the job training!

He was getting a bit tired of his regular soup and turkey sandwich for dinner, so we brought in some Chinese food for him - just had to sneak it past the nurses!

We just finished watching some video messages from our friends at church, which were great to watch. So thank you to everyone who sent their well wishes via DVD. We appreciate the encouragement and support!

Jon is making very good progress and is feeling much better about the accomplishments he's made. Every day he's ready to make even more. So thank you again for the continued support.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 22

The weekend rolls around again, and Jon sweet talked the therapists into allowing him to have some therapy again this weekend. I was at home with the kids most of the day, so once again I will let Jon do the talking, and I'll just type.

My walking continued but with at twist today. For the first time they had me use a "hemi" walker, which is a walker you can use with just one hand. I walked the length of the gym and back four times, with almost no assistance (they are still having to keep my knee in place so it doesn't give way when I walk)! I also did a few new arm exercises and feel like I am slowly developing more movement in my arm.

I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, since I don't have any therapy, but I should have some more visitors, and that is always nice. I had more visits from good friends already this weekend, which is always enjoyable. The kids and the in-laws are coming by tomorrow, so that will be fun too. I expect (and hope) to sleep well tonight after another strenuous day in therapy!

And we are enjoying our new and larger room!

Okay, now it's back to the Brenda narration. I need to tell Jon he needs to spice his comments up a bit! But overall it's been another good week. We found out this week that Jon's tentative discharge date is July 5, which seems like a long way off, but we need to stay here as long as he's making progress and improving. It does mean spending Father's Day, his birthday and the 4th of July here, but we can handle that.

We won't update again until Monday, hopefully with even better news. And we do appreciate all of our followers. We hope this blog is helpful in keeping everyone updated.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 21 - Three Weeks Later

Oh boy it's been a busy couple of days, and we're sorry we couldn't post sooner but it's been crazy since I've gone back to work. We have had two very good days, and now have a change of scenery. We will get to the details of therapy in a bit, but we want everyone to know we've changed rooms. Since we will be here a bit longer, we were able to get a bigger room, so we are now in 369. Same physical address, just a new room number. So if you come to visit, make sure you look for 369, not 367, or you will make one older man very angry (or very happy, depending on when you come).

Now to the really important info - Jon was able to take some additional steps this week, and move his leg on his own! That is absolutely huge for us. Before, the therapists have been pushing his leg as he put some tentative weight on it. But yesterday, for the first time, he was able to push his leg forward all by himself! Needless to say there were cheers all around. He's still having problems getting his knee to cooperate, it just doesn't want to bend to help give him that additional support, but he can lift his leg at the hip and move it. Yesterday he just kind of dragged it along on the ground, but today he was able to actually pick his leg and foot up so he could take a step! All the therapists had to do was keep him steady and keep his knee from buckling. They didn't have to help him move his leg forward at all! So his brain is sending the right signals, telling his leg to move forward. He walked 16 feet yesterday, and I bet at least doubled that number today, and really was able to pull his leg up off the floor. So we are very encouraged.

Occupational therapy has gone pretty much as usual, just working on strengthening his trunk and core and working on a bit more arm movement. He's had some movement in his shoulder, and we are working on keeping his arm loose and not cramped up against his body. When we leave it that way too long, it's harder to straighten out, and they don't want those muscles to tighten so much that he can't keep his arm extended out
Speech therapy is going very well. He's making great strides there, working a lot on the strength of his voice and the ability to change his pitch. She also has him working on additional facial movements, so ask him to show you his "angry" face, which ends up being more entertaining than "angry" looking.

Jon has developed quite a following in the therapy gym, amongst the patients and all of the therapists, even the ones who don't work with him. They all say he reminds them of Ken, of Ken and Barbie fame. I think that's the first time he's heard that! And apparently I remind them of Skipper (and for those who don't know who Skipper is, which I didn't, she is Barbie's dark-haired little sister). Apparently I'm too short and not blond enough to be Barbie (not to mention other physical attributes that I lack that would be more "barbie-like). When they first told me I looked like Skipper, my mind went to Gilligan's Island, and "The Skipper" isn't exactly someone I was hoping to resemble (no offense to him), so I must offend for about a day I was pretty offended, and pretty humiliated! But now, I'm not sure if I feel better or not, about being compared to a genetically inaccurate doll, but I guess I can live with it!