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!