Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A year ago today I was taken to the hospital because of my stroke. A year later I don't know whether to celebrate or mourn. My life has changed in so many ways and how can you endure something like this and not be changed. I can't begin to express the love I feel for my family and my friends. I started reading some of the cards that arrived as word of my illness got around. The outpouring of love is overwhelming and one constant that gave me the will and fortitude to push forward. The staff at Marion Joy (Wheaton and Oakbrook Terrace) nurtured me in ways that exceed patient/therapist/health care relationships. There are too many who touched me to name them individually but you always have my love and gratitude. My church and choir family have always helped me to see my progress not my limitations. The staff and board of the Downers Grove Library have been there for me in so many ways. And those friends from high school, Summer Place continue to push me to live with these limitations and go beyond them.

So how do I see Year Two? It's a year of possibilities. Social Security finally declared me disabled but I see this a temporary thing. I don't know when I can work again but I see options once all my strength returns. Improv class will provide a new way to express myself, develop talents and forge new relationships. And I treasure relationships that have grown deeper this past year. Dale G and Michael V you know I am talking about you. My two pieces of advice 1. Don't take your health for granted. Do what you need to do to make sure you don't ignore the warning signs. 2. Tell your family and friends you love them. If you let them, they can make a difference in your life. I love you all.

The Mighty Ted

Monday, November 23, 2009

We are so overdue updating the blog, but with the holidays life is very busy. Ted is working part time in the Junior Room through January 31, 2010.

He decided his full time job should be focused on getting all of his strength back. All of his various exercise programs including working out at the gym with his trainer Joey, doing Wii Fit, and acupuncture all take time. The acupuncture is paying off, there is a lot of movement in his left hand, but no motor skills yet. At the gym Ted was recently able to press as much as 60 pounds with his left leg quite an accomplishment for a kid who was always the last guy picked in PE in high school. Wii Fit 2 has some great new balance games. But Ted stills likes to feed the penguins. Our new friends Michael Vaughn and Ross Kennedy came by over the weekend. They helped carry things up from the basement. Ross fixed gumbo and potato salad and Michael sat down at the piano with Ted, taped his left hand over Ted’s left hand and played. It was amazing to start working those fingers again.

Work is very challenging and Ted is having fun reading the Wimpy Kid books. If you are an adult you will really enjoy the characters and the middle school situations. With Thanksgiving just around the corner Ted and Michelle are looking forward to all the festivities of the week. Tuesday November 24th is our 25th Wedding Anniversary. This had been the toughest year of our marriage but we are still going strong. Ted’s family : Betty and Rick, Nancy and Gary and Joe Ward, Laura and Jonathan Rehor, newlyweds Sarah and Joshua Morphew will be arriving in the Chicago area for the big turkey and wedding anniversary celebration. Ted finally converted his speech in church to an unloadable file for YouTube thanks to Dale Galiniak. The speech is in two parts and you can use the following link for part one and this link for part two We know we are blessed with the love of our family and friends and hope you are able to be with you loved ones this holiday season.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yes, it's been a while since The Mighty Ted Blog has been updated and a busy time for the Mighty Ted.

On October 2nd Ted "graduated" from Marion Joy outpatient therapy having met his goals with flying colors and a "can do" attitude second to none. We cannot say enough wonderful things about all the Marion Joy staff at both Oakbrook and Wheaton. I won't name names lest someone be omitted - suffice it to say we are so grateful for all their hard work and support.

The Mighty Ted "speaker's bureau" has ended, at least for the time being with successful presentations to the students of Midwest University, where Ted participated in the GPS stroke survivor study, and in our church on Laity Sunday. Ted has had several people tell him the impact his story had on both them and, in the case of church friends, their children. It's pretty cool when you can capture the attention of a 13 year old and that they are willing to admit to their parents that the presentation moved them to tears!

Look for a post of the Laity Sunday speech (text and video) on facebook soon.

Ted has been welcomed back to work at DGPL in a new position - well actually a very old position - in the Junior room where Ted started as a temp over 15 years ago! It's a perfect match - Children's Librarian and someone who loves kids, Disney films and Wii games. He is working 18 hours per week with the goal of being back to full time by the end of November.

Acupuncture is making a BIG difference in the recovery of Ted's left side - he is walking much, much faster and often forgets to grab his cane - leaving it across the room as moves around the kitchen / main level of the house. Upstairs on the carpet still requires the use of a cane for stability. Recently we saw movement in his left wrist for the first time. It's just a matter of time before all those muscles get connected to new brain cells and he's back to playing the piano, writing with the left hand and driving with both hands (and doing his own blog updates!)

Ted's next adventure is being a "bachelor" this week as Michelle is out of town for a "girlfriends weekend". Give him a call, send a text and keep him in your prayers as he continues to recover.

Closing, as always, with our continued thanks for all the prayers and support as we make our journey back to full recovery - to our family, friends, therapists, doctors and all the others we have forgotten to mention.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It has been pretty quiet this week -

Ted completed his second week of accupuncture and after only 3 treatments is feeling the effects as new parts of his body are waking up. A GOOD thing! He also completed his first speaking engagement as the result of the stroke - talking with College of DuPage Physical Therapy students last Tuesday evening. They were a good audience - both interested in Ted's perspective on the treatment he received / the experience of having a stroke and entertained by his talk. (The first speaker had been in a motorcycle accident and had NOT worn a helmut - "pretty messed up" guy according to Ted. Scary!)

Dr. Sharma, Ted's Marion Joy physician, gave to OK for Ted to go back to work (we already had the OK from Ted's GP, Dr. Nelson) and was pleased with the way we handled taking a vacation - getting things in place to go back to a "normal" life.

As the outpatient therapy winds down the focus is on walking without a brace, doing inclines and other somewhat tricky situations and using the left hand to grasp bean bags and other small objects. Though the control of the arm and fingers have not come back yet - the bean bag therapy works to keep retraining those brain cells!

When not at Marion Joy in therapy Ted has been busy at home using the Wii system and Wii fit to really improve his balance (Ask him about getting the fish in the Penguin Game!) and at the gym. He and Joey (the personal trainer Ted hooked up with before the stroke) work on parts of the body not stressed in the Marion Joy sessions including stretches of the left shoulder / arm and lots of squats (again without the brace). Ted was especially pleased at being able to go to the gym by himself and use both the upright and inclined exercise bikes and to navigate the whirlpool. (The swimming pool will have to wait until the left arm comes back - climbing up / down a ladder with only one arm doesn't seem to be a good idea!)

Speaking of bean bags (and we were a moment ago) all that practice came in handy at the 1st birthday party for Peyton and Jordon Bowen - the twin sons of our friends Susan (Place) and Jeff Bowen. The birthday party included a carnival with bowling, ring toss, Bozo Buckets and ... yes .... a bean bag toss. Ted scored great on the bowling, Bozo Bucket and Bean Bag Toss and shared his prize box including the tattos and pirate note pad with his assistant, Dale. We had a grand time and really enjoyed seeing how much our "adopted nephews" Peyton and Jordon have grown.

Ted continues to work to clean out his Tech Director office (15 years worth of work and other "stuff") as he gets ready to move to his new position at the library as part of the Children's Department. He says the finger play part of story time (can we say "Itsy Bitsy Spider"?) will have to wait until the left hand comes back to life.

Thanks to all for your prayers and support through these challenging times. We love you all more than we can say!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hi everyone -
Just an upfront warning - this is a long one as we have a couple of weeks to cover and lots of events in our lives.

First - the future
Ted's "graduation" date from Marion Joy's outpatient program is scheduled for Friday, October 2nd. Completion of the therapy paves the way for Ted's return to work the following week. He will start out part time in October with the goal of being full time in November. He has made a career decision to move from his long time role of Technology Coordinator (over 10 years) to the Junior Room as a Children's Librarian. We continue to be most grateful to all the support from the library board, administration and staff. You all are the best!

Getting back to work was just one of the goals set by Ted - another was to rejoin the bass section of our Downers Grove First United Methodist Chancel Choir. Though he does not process with the choir, Ted is back in the loft singing as his voice continues to grow stronger.

Ted is becoming a sought after speaker regarding both the experience of having a stroke and the journey back. This week he is speaking to a group of College of Du Page physical therapy students, later this month he will be talking to a student group from Midwest University in connection to the study he did earlier and to our church as part of Laity Sunday. (He's thinking of getting an agent).

As another element of Ted's recovery, he completed his first Acupuncture treatment - quite an accomplishment for someone with a strong aversion to needles. He overcame the fear and made the commitment to treatment based on the number of people who testified to the power of Eastern Medicines and what the treatment did for them - including Jerry and Michele who are fellow stroke recovery patients. Their recovery of fine motor skills is nothing short of miraculous and a convincing argument for giving the therapy a try. We were rather surprised by the discussion over diet as part of the treatment including the requirement to adopt a dairy free meal plan. (Ted is discovering the joys of alternate products including Rice Milk and dairy free "ice cream").

Now to what we have been "up to" lately -

In early September we took a much needed vacation to Baltimore including a cruise to Bermuda. (I think we told you we were planning the trip). Ted had an adventure prior to the trip due to Michelle's expired passport. Luckily Ted caught the fact that the passport was expired and made a trip into Chicago using the Blue Line and cabs to get him where he needed to be to expedite the passport renewal. He was very pleased with this accomplishment - his first "solo" trip into Chicago since the stroke and Michelle was very happy to have the documents needed to leave (and return to) the U.S!

We spent 2 lovely days in Baltimore at the Inner Harbor Residence Inn. It was our first but not our last visit to this beautiful area. We explored the inner harbor area by foot and wheel chair including a daytime visit to the Camden Yard home of the Baltimore Orioles. Though the team was in town we did not have time to go to a game but were able to "peek in" to the ballpark. (You can see pictures of the stadium and the rest of the trip on Ted's face book page). Our bargain of the trip was the Giapetto Entertainment Museum, also in Camden Yard. On game days the admission is only $1.00! We had such a good time we would have paid full price! The main focus of the museum is the history of cartoons and animation with exhibits arranged by decade. Included are a room dedicated to those comic books that we gave away / sold at garage sales after we "outgrew" them, Howdy Doodey, the Beatles and a lot of Disney posters and animation cells.

The experience was made complete with lovely meals at local seafood restaurants. We experienced our first steamed crab fest courtesy of our good friends Apichart and Trish Chalungsooth and their sons Sam and Sean. Since cracking crabs is a two-handed endeavor, Ted had to "settle" for being fed peel and eat shrimp and steamed crab by Trish and Michelle. As a late birthday treat / early anniversary event we treated ourselves to a special dining experience at "Charleston" (check out their website at for sample menus). Though it is rather an understatement of Charleston's service and cuisine, the closest we can come to describing our evening is to say that Disney emulates the experience in their Victoria and Albert's restaurant at the Grand Floridian. Charleston is multiple course gourmet dining at it's finest (at least in our experience).

Though we were reluctant to leave Charleston after only 2 days, we were excited to move on to the next part of our vacation - our Junior Suite (an upgrade courtesy of a great travel agent and platinum status with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines) for a 5 day cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas. Transfer, in spite of transporting the folding wheelchair and too much luggage, was made much easier courtesy of the terrific people at the Residence Inn and Apollo Transport service and the RCCL staff. Though you never want to need a wheel chair, using one certainly gets you to the front of a lot of lines (without asking!).

On board ship we were able to stow the wheelchair (except for one rough day coming home) and enjoy the grandeur of the Grandeur of the Seas. Our cabin steward, Alfonso, catered to Ted's every need including a bench for the shower and extra pillows for his left arm. The ship's personnel were very courteous in allowing us to remain inside in a comfortable lounge during the required mustering drill. Nice!

Our days at sea were filled with morning and afternoon trivia contests (we won some and lost some - it's amazing in name that tune how similar ALL 70's disco songs can sound!) and reading on our lovely balcony. Didn't make it into the pool though had some nice naps and reading time in the adult solarium and out on deck.

Evenings on the ship were devoted to lovely dinners followed by shows in the Palladium Theater or South Pacific Lounge. Our dining table for 8 was expanded to 10 due to a happy "error" by the cruise line seating 2 extra persons at our table. Lucky for us that Julie and Shelly liked our table group so much they decided to stay! Conversations were varied among Julie, Shelly, Jim & A.C., Scott & Kari and Mike & Paula (who we at first thought was Twala thanks to Mike's rather pronounced Long Island accent). Our waiter Ercan made sure we were all well supplied with lovely food including sufficient chocolate supplies. Between Ercan and our head waiter cutting up his food, Ted was easily able to manage prime rib, lobster, etc. including chocolate donuts for breakfast!

After dinner we enjoyed the ship's production and comedy shows - in particular the "adult" comedy late shows. Though each of the comics got a bit "blue" at the late shows we were more amused by their comedy around word play - including the creation of verbs out of nouns. In particular - the creation, in the Nancy Sinatra hit "These boots are made for walkin", of the verb "truthin' ". ("You been lyin' when you shoulda been truthin' ") After the show we shared our favorite example with him - Karen Carpenter's "Merry Christmas Darling" and the line "I'm Christmasing with you". Stay tuned on your next cruise - you may just hear that line in a show somewhere!

We spent two days in our only port, Bermuda. On the first day we used the free shuttle to take us around the Royal Dockyards and to the Maritime Museum. Lovely area and museum but we should have taken the wheelchair. Between the distance and the heat we both got a bit overtired and were very grateful to a cab driver kind enough to take us back to the ship (for no charge!) On the second day we went back to the Royal Dockyards (this time WITH the wheelchair) for a bit more exploration and some souvenir shopping. (We decided this was not the trip to do the adventure kayaking or snorkeling excursions!) We bought an early anniversary present to our selves - a limited edition print from a lovely local artist who paints scenes of the islands and their people. We fell in love with her painting of sailboats in commemoration of the 100th (I think) anniversary of Bermuda. (Ted will be posting a picture on his face book page soon). Ted did some solo shopping (looking for an anniversary gift for Michelle) while Michelle wandered around the dockyards trying her hand at some artistic photos of the old fortifications and the ship from across the bay.

All too soon we were docked back in Baltimore then headed back home to Chicago. As always with our cruises, too short, but a wonderful vacation full of wonderful experiences, memories and new friends.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go (soon)

As the summer winds down and students go back to school Ted is on target to go back to work in September - assuming his Doctors and the wonderful staff at Marion Joy rehab agree. But before going back to DGPL, since our summer was "interrupted" and we were not able to take a vacation, we have a short getaway next week. Thanks to "hoarding" of American Express and Mariott rewards points plus an unused Airline Ticket ( a trip that was cancelled due to Ted's stroke) we are headed to Baltimore for a couple of days before going on a Royal Caribbean (RCCL)Cruise (yes, for those of you who know us - ANOTHER cruise) to ..... Bermuda. Oh.. and thanks to RCCL's Platinum Membership and a great travel agent we are traveling in style - having been upgraded to a Junior Suite. (SWEET).

We leave Baltimore harbor on Saturday, have a day at sea (we LOVE sea days) then 2 days in Bermuda another sea day then back in Baltimore and flying home before the anniversary of 9/11. We are REALLY looking forward to some fun in the sun (please no hurricanes), spa time and being waited on.

For the past 2 weeks Ted continues his busy therapy schedule with Marion Joy, Wii Fit at home (Michelle occasional joins in - very fun) and working with his personal trainer at the gym. He is working with Janet Bowen, his yoga instructor, and took a class from her Master Trainer, Chase. Ted , Janet and the other instructors present at Ted's session learned a lot from the treatment given to Ted by Chase. Ted is looking forward to meeting with acupuncture specialists once we return from our trip. Chase and Janet are very strong in their recommendation that Ted begin acupuncture ASAP. We continue to hear great success stories from those who have used this therapy . We celebrated Ted's 56th birthday many times over (and expect a few more celebrations - on the cruise and we have a few more restaurant birthday club cards to use before they expire!) Ted's birthday week started out by attending Village Players in Oak Park's production of Sunday in the Park with George directed by our good friend Kevin Long. (Commercial: Don't miss this one - great actors and a wonderful production. The show continues through the end of September). Even Ted's assistant Dale G. (who we "dragged" with us to the show) loved it and is really starting to "get" Sondheim (or so he says). After the show we had a lovely dinner with Kevin, Gina and Adam Long at a nearby Italian restaurant. All in all a lovely afternoon and evening.

In true fan devotion, we made a journey to Evanston and Northwestern University ( a 2 hour drive thanks to both road construction and the fact that you cannot "get there from here" - the expressways don't connect in a logical fashion) for "Diva, Diva, Diva" starring 9 time Joseph Jefferson Award (the Chicago equivalent of a Tony for those of you from other areas) and very GOOD friend Alene (that's pronounce AL Lene) Robertson. She, Paula Scrafono and Hollis Resnick presented a wonderful program in which each performed the numbers that made them famous Chicago Divas as well as duets and trios. A great evening! (too bad it wasn't closer to our house!).

That takes care of Sunday and Monday -- whew! The rest of the week was lower key - Ted took treats (some chocolate chip cookies made by Michelle) to the folks at therapy.

We were entertained by friends - a lovely dinner hosted by Sharon Place enjoying the good company of Sharon along with Sandy Roberts (thanks for the birthday cake!) and Don and Sheila Jacklich and brunch with John and Marilyn Gillam after church on Sunday. We enjoyed entertaining our new friends Michael and Ross and Cindy and long time friend Steve Ziedler. (Another commercial - Steve and Mr. Z's Grocery in Lombard provided the meat - yummy chicken breasts. Go there and talk to the butcher. He will be your new best friend!)
On a final note, Ted has been making regular trips to the library including conducting interviews for the third member of their technology team in preparation for Ted's return to work.

We continue to bless you all for your good wishes, prayers and support.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Advantages of Floating in the Middle of the Sea

This week's update brings a couple of fun things relating to Ted's therapy.
Part of the work on regaining use of the left hand is to do various gripping and squeezing exercises with a soft exercise ball. We found the perfect item for at home therapy in a Christmas gift of a few years ago - the "Abby Normal" brain from Mel Brooks' musical "Young Frankenstein". Thanks Laura and Jonathan.
Ted was able to connect with personal trainer Joey at X-Sport Fitness (the gym where Ted has a membership) and they are working up a plan to have their sessions supplement those with Marion Joy and build on the exercises from the rehab sessions. Ted cannot wait to get back to swimming and doing regular workouts at the gym.

This past week also brought a checkup with Ted's neurologist. Dr. D (as we call him since we can neither spell nor pronounce his last name!) is pleased with Ted's progress telling Ted to keep on doing what he has been doing. We expect Ted's checkup in December to be their last meeting and for Ted to be fully transitioned to his regular physician at that time. By the way - Ted was pleased to be able to drive out to the appointment and back (in Warrenville) with no assistance from Michelle. That's the longest trip he has taken by himself thus far and quite an accomplishment.

Our social life continues to be busy. Ted and his assistant Dale try to "hang out" at least once a week to talk work and "other stuff".

This must be the week for parties on lakes. On Wednesday, we had a wonderful time at Cynthia and Jim Rogers' place on Third Lake with our Las Vegas friend Sharon Tiesdell-Smith who was in town. The night out on the boat for drinks and munchies and the brats off the grill were all just wonderful. (Though we realized we should have used a bit more mosquito repellant - itchy the next day!). Great friends and great fun! On Friday, we celebrated the 50th birthdays of our good friends Linda and Lou Carouso who threw a combined party in the Glen Ellen Boat House on the lake in the park district. Though we were in the boat house this lake was a bit small for anything beyond paddle boats! Again - a grand time with good friends.

The upcoming week is already very busy starting with church followed by theater on Sunday as we go to see Kevin Long's production of "Sunday in the Park with George". (Hm .. there's that lake theme again). Monday brings a trip up to Northwestern University to attend their production "Diva, Diva, Diva" highlighting the talents of Alene Robertson, Paula Scorfano and Hollis Resnik singing the songs that made them Chicago's greatest divas. While we don't look forward to the drive we love hearing Alene perform (along with Paula and Hollis).
On Tuesday night Ted and Kevin Long and some of the St. Patrick's High School Alumni with whom Ted and Kevin did shows at St. Pat's will be getting together for dinner before the boys head back off to college. Wednesday Ted's work group is celebrating the August Birthdays at a local Thai restaurant. As for the rest of next week - we will probably spend it recovering!

That's all for this week dear readers. Thanks, as always for all your support.
Tune in next week for the restaurant reviews and the latest adventures of the Mighty Ted.