Monday, November 23, 2009
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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8fUnUkUDRQ and this link for part two http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBByfFCKclE&feature=related. 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
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
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
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 www.charleston.com 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
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
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.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
This week marked the end of the Midwestern Stroke Study with Ted. He turned in the GPS belt with all the data for the last time and, on Wednesday, went back to Marion Joy for another 6 minute timed test. Ted almost doubled the distance he could cover since the first test though it was still very challenging for both Ted and Sara (sometimes known as "Drill Sergant Sara") to be quiet during the test.
Ted is really enjoying the fact that he is now free to drive, taking himselt to Starbucks, the barbershop for his summer "buzz cut" and the DGPL library (to visit, pick up more videos, books and some Wii games) and both of us to Church and out for lunch when we feel like a special treat. Note on the "buzz cut" - he came home with a totally shaved head figuring it would take longer to grow out than the buzz and feeling a bit like Yul Brenner and Daddy Warbucks! (Works for me).
Speaking of special treats, since August is Ted's birthday month he has been getting birthday cards from various restaurants (with a special birthday discount, thank you very much). On Friday night we took advantage of his White Fence Farm gift indulging in Fried Chicken, Corn Fritters and all the rest of the "fixin's". After dinner we headed out to one of our favorite first run movie theaters to see "Julie and Julia". For anyone who loves Julia Child, it is well worth the price of admission (even at first run prices!). Great film and some interesting insights about Julia's early career and some of her mannerisms on the early cooking shows. (We won't spoil it for you - just go see the film then go to your local library and pick up her early "French Chef" series on DVD. Great fun).
Therapy, both at Marion Joy and at home via Wii Fit, continues. The left arm is still very slow to come back with movement in the fingers and more ability to grip with the thumb and first finger but no piano playing yet. They tell us the fine motor skills are the last to come back and to be patient but it is very hard at times.
We continue to keep the faith and know that all of you do as well. Thanks for your prayers and your comments both via this blog and via Ted's facebook page. If you are a facebook friend, thank you. He absolutely loves your comments, notes, etc. (If you are not and are on facebook, please "friend" him. He would love to have you in his network).
I don't "do" facebook but am on Linked In so ... see you there.
Michelle (and Ted)
Monday, August 3, 2009
Ted passed his Marion Joy Driving Certification on Monday, got approval from his Dr., we got the Vibe equipped for one-handed driving (spinner knob and cross-over turn signal) on Friday and Ted took his first solo drive since April 26th. The folks at Starbucks are very happy to see him back on the road. (Of course those of you who are his facebook friends already know all this!)
As if that was not enough excitement for one week (or has it been 2 weeks since the last update?) we also became Cosco devotees last week. (For those of you who don't know about Cosco it's similar to Sam's Club and much closer to our house).
We joined a week ago Friday and have already made several shopping trips - the biggest purchase being the Wii and Wii Fit. It's a lot of fun (Ted enjoyed watching me make a fool of myself on the downhill ski slalom - he's getting very good at it) and Ted has been hitting new levels of expertize every day unlocking more and more fun balance games and other programs. He is getting to be quite the expert on Wii Sports bowling but baseball and golf will be a bit of a challenge until the left arm and fingers are more functional.
We are looking into acupuncture as a possible additional therapy - we have met several people who believe it has been a great help to them.
Excursions included the Naperville Summer Place production of Kiss Me Kate at North Central High School. It's a great production - both looking and sounding great. Hard to believe last night was only their 2nd performance. (Go see it next weekend if you are in the area - worth your time!) Ted, as board president, did the opening Welcome / Pre-Curtain Speech. Good to see him on stage again. His speech therapists would have been proud to hear him using the S.L.O.B (Speak Slowly, Loudly, Over Articulate and Breath) - he was easily understood all the way to the back of the house!
We plan to join the cast next Wednesday for their Kiss Me Kate Singalong. Expect it to be a lot of fun!
We had a delightful time this past week when our 10 year old Godson (Evan Weiger) spent the night with us (well .. with his Uncle Ted) before he and his family left on their vacation to Florida. Evan and Uncle Ted had a grand time down in the "man cave" staying up late, watching movies and eating popcorn. We were quite amused (and relieved) that Evan was more interested in James Bond's chase scenes than the "gushy stuff" in "Golden Eye". Both Uncle and Godson agreed they would do it again before Evan goes back to school in the fall.
Other visitors included our dear friends Tom and Judy Ringo, from Long Beach, Indiana, who were kind enough to come over on a day trip. We had a great time catching up on all their trips and just being good friends.
In between therapy sessions, which continue to go well, and our other activities we live and die with our Chicago Cubs (At the moment I write this they are tied for 1st place with the Cardinals -both teams lost on Sunday- but who knows what tomorrow will bring?). We continue to appreciate all the love and support we receive from all of you - those we see in church and other parts of our lives, those we "see" on facebook and those who keep up with us via the blog.
Though we may not say it directly, know that we are so very grateful to all of you!
Michelle and "The Mighty" Ted
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Therapy continues to get Ted ready to go back to work by having him do tasks that he will need to perform at work including pushing a cart filling it up with various items including lots of practice stooping to get items off low storage shelves and moving them to the cart. As Ted circled around the rehab center's main corridor he took on the persona of Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments (the cart has a tall rod on which to grab). Ted was heard saying he felt like he was parting the Red Sea. (Where's your Moses now?). Work on getting the left arm back in shape included working on an "arm treadmill" in which both arms had to work together to move a wheel. He was able to keep up the arm drill for 7 minutes - quite a long time for the first time using this device. Ted had his first meeting with the Marion Joy Rehab doctor (Dr. Sharma) who seemed pleased with Ted's progress and will, we hope, write the official prescription for the single tip cane this next week. (So far Ted has been using the cane during therapy and at home as a "loaner".) Ted is still "on track" to return to work in early September and we expect him to be scheduled this next week for the "behind the wheel" session in his progress toward being able to drive again.
As an additional part of Ted's rehabilitation he connected with Janet Bowen, a yoga therapist and instructor (and in case you noticed the last name - yes she IS related to Ted's boss - she is Christopher's wife). Janet and Ted are working on some breathing and relaxation exercises as a part of Ted's plan to rejoin our Downers Grove First United Methodist Church choir in the fall. Marion Joy does not have yoga therapy. We are hopeful that Ted's experience with Janet will lead to a connection between Janet and the rehab facility.
Outings close to home this week included the Summer Place's "Godspell" sing-a-long (lots of fun, wish the audience had been larger but a great time had by those of us who attended - Chicago area readers take note - there will be a "Kiss Me Kate" singalong August 5th - see you there) and the Friday night performance of the show. Wonderful cast and a great production. Congrats to all involved. It was terrific to see so many friends at the singalong and at the Friday performance.
Michelle continues her work with Kensington, International as she transitions to her next career. She is also doing a lot more cooking since her commute to work (yes - career transition is work - it's a full time job!) is much, much shorter. We have enjoyed grilling together when the weather has cooperated.
We've attached a few pictures from our adventures over the past few weeks -
Ted and assistant Dale with Ted's "pimping" cane.
Visit to Wrigley Field (great view - poor outcome)
Ted at Sarah and Josh's wedding reception (cooling off on the porch after "Wild Thing" karaoke)
The happy couple with Mom and Dad, brother Joe, sister Laura and brother-in-law Jonathan
Thanks to everyone for their continued prayers, good wishes and support.
Michelle A. Waltmire
1706 Fairfax LaneOakbrook Terrace, Illinois 60181
Home (Land): 630-792-0853
Sunday, July 12, 2009
No you did not misread this - the mighty Elmhurst Cubs (team members include our Godson Evan Weiger) won the Elmhurst Little League Championship game and Ted was there to see it! It was great fun made even sweeter by the fact that the game was initially rained out and had to be rescheduled. The game was followed by a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant where Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox fans put aside their differences to agree on one thing - the Elmurst Cubs ROCK!
Outings this past week included two Chicago Cubs games - unfortunately their performance when we attend is not as good as the Elmhurst Cubs. The first game, Zambrano pitching after Dempster's toe incident, was well pitched on both sides with Atlanta getting the best side of the deal in a 2-1 win. The second game, with a number of pitchers including Rich Harden as the starter, was exciting in the beginning with a DLee 3-run homer but got ugly when the Cubs "defense" decided that the St. Louis Cardinals deserved not 3 but 5 outs in the top of the 5th inning. (Our St. Louis friends may not see it that way but we were there!) The good news - in both cases we had WONDERFUL seats. The first game - right behind home plate and the 2nd game .. for the first time in our lives .. in the bleachers. Yes - Wrigley Field has wheelchair accessible bleacher seating. You don't have to stand (or sit) in line ahead of the game. There are actually reserved seats / places for the wheel chair. The Cubs even delayed the game by 35 minutes to give us time to get there and get settled. (They claimed it was due to the rain but we like to think they were just waiting for "The Mighty Ted".)
Speaking of wheelchair accessibility , we are learning that seeing a wheelchair symbol does not always mean that someone in a wheelchair can actually have reasonable access to / from the venue. Case in point - for the 2nd Cubs game, we (Michelle) drove downtown and we parked in the Monroe Street underground parking in Chicago then took the Red Line the rest of the way to Wrigley Field. (No way we are going to drive and park anywhere near the ballpark!). We have used the Grant Park South underground lot in the past and had no problems - the wheelchair parking is right by the elevator to the street. Silly us thinking the Monroe Street parking would be the same. After parking in the wheelchair designated spots we looked in vain for an elevator. Luckily Ted is now sufficiently mobile to walk from the car to the escalator and navigate getting on and off the escalator without getting tripped up (something that would not have been true only a few short weeks ago). Michelle followed on the escalator with the wheelchair. (An interesting sight to say the least). Once at (almost) street level we encountered yet another obstacle - a final set of steps leading from the garage up to Randolph Street. Again, we managed since Ted is mobile and Michelle could drag the wheelchair up the few steps but we cannot imagine the frustration that someone who is truly and permanently wheelchair bound would experience if in our shoes on that day. We suspect they would still be trapped in the garage! Getting onto the Redline, to Wrigley Field and pack to our car in the garage demonstrated how wonderful people can be as we had many offers to help including people to carry the wheelchair in those places where there were NO escalators (getting on the Redline at Lake Street and getting back to our car - escalators go up but not DOWN - only stairs). CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???
Therapy included the vision and written tests for the beginning of Ted's Driver Certification, measuring his progress against the rehabilitation goals - the insurance agency is looking to understand his progress against his last "test". He bettered his time from 47 second to 25 seconds to do 2 loops around the rehab center. (Watch out you marathon runners - here he comes). He received applause when he was able to get up off the floor by himself from a sitting down position (he has been practicing that one a lot at home - our DVD player is very low to the ground!). Ted continues to work at therapy with the single -tipped cane and has a "loaner" for practice at home. He should get the official prescription when he sees the doctor this next week.
Ted's stair climbing skills have been getting a workout (and not just in Chicago) as he has had a week of being able to sleep upstairs in our Master bedroom, eating meals on the main floor and watching TV and movies in his "man cave" on the lowest level. He still uses the downstairs shower as it has the bench and the hand held shower and feels more secure than our small stand up shower in the master bedroom.
The appointment with the orthopedic doctor at the Marion Joy facility in Wheaton (I'm not sure that is her official title - she's the one responsible for the leg brace) and her team went very well. The entire team was thrilled and very complimentary of Ted's progress since his dismissal. His next appointment is in three months. We expect this to be after his full time return to work.
While he will still be using the brace for ankle support they expect to be able to cut off the part of the brace that is no longer needed for the stronger parts of his leg. While at the Marion Joy facility Ted was able to visit with a number of the people who were so helpful when he was there as an in-patient including physical therapist "Drill Sergeant" Sara, occupational therapist Nancy, speech therapists Megan and Andrea, Nurse Laurie and assistants Ted, Nicki and Reggio. All were as thrilled to see Ted as he was to see them. It was a wonderful, if short, reunion. There will be many more as Ted continues to improve.
Ted has also graduated to "big boy" pants from "pull ons" having mastered the art of buttoning and pulling up zippers with one hand (the non-dominant hand at that). (I doubt that many of us could do that unless forced by circumstances - I tried. It isn't easy!)
Last, but not least, in this update is Ted's need to be at work while out on sick leave. He worked with his assistant Dale G. (sorry Dale - I'm never going to learn to spell your last name!) at the library to clone new computers and to prepare to attend the ALA (American Library Association) conference on Sunday. ALA is in Chicago this year giving Ted and Dale a great opportunity to go through the exhibits together and talk "face to face" with some of the vendors with whom the library works to provide services to the patrons. In anticipation of Ted's graduation to the single-tip cane, Dale provided Ted with a quite classy cane - complete with a Zebra top and carvings along the body of the cane. There was a reference made to "Dr. House" when the gift was presented but personally, I think Ted's cane is much classier than that of Dr. House (it's a TV show for those of you confused by the reference). (By the way, for those of you who watch the show - look at the side on which he uses the cane. It was pointed out to us by Ted's therapists that he uses it on the wrong side!)
Pictures of Ted and the new cane coming in a future update. Thanks Dale!
That's it for this week. Sunday brings church and Ted off to ALA with Dale. Michelle will be home working on her resume and the other work needed to be prepared for her next career after leaving WMS.
Thanks, as always for everyone's prayers as we travel the road to Ted's recovery and to Michelle's next career.
Michelle and Ted
Sunday, July 5, 2009
On the "rehab front", Ted's sessions continue to go well with Outpatient Occupational and Physical Therapy three times per week. The focus is on walking with a Single Tip cane (we hope to get the "script" for the new cane next Wednesday when Ted sees the doctor at Marion Joy). He continues to work on balance doing Wii Fit games (gotta love those Penguins. Anyone know a place where you can get a good deal on a Will console? So far the best price we have seen is $250 on Amazon.com and at Best Buy).
As Ted continues to gain control over his left arm and hand he is working on grasping items with his left thumb and finger (He was able to open a bottle of root beer with a bottle opener at home last week!) using cones, balls and other therapeutic devices. We have "homework" each session to work on stretches and other exercises to reinforce the work of therapy.
We continue to lead a very busy lifestyle with multiple "outings" - the most extensive being the trip to South Dakota June 19th - 21st to be a part of our youngest niece's wedding. The people at Southwest Airlines and on the shuttle from the airport to pick up our car at the offsite parking could not have been nicer. Ted took his own wheelchair and was driven all the way to the door of the airplane where they stowed his chair. First on / last off - what a great help to getting us around!
Wedding reception highlights include lots of Kareoke (spell??) singing by all including "That Ain't my Truck" (a family favorite of the bride's family including her Uncle Ted and Aunt Michelle) and a solo rendition of "Wild Thing (Thang)" by Uncle Ted. Michelle's favorite moment was the last dance of the nite with Ted - no chair or cane! It was wonderful and very special.
Once home from the wedding Ted reconnected with the team from Midwestern University continuing their study on stroke patients. (Too bad they were not monitoring him the week of the wedding!). During the time Ted was wearing the Pedometer and GPS he made it to Summer Place Board Meetings, to dinner with Steve Ziedler (thanks Steve), Starbucks and to the library a few times. Other outings include movies at our favorite 2nd run movie theaters, taking advantage of summer specials at favorite restaurants and lunches with Mary V.; the DGPL Administrative office and other friends. Ted had a great day with Nick McClure just being silly and yes, going out to lunch! Thanks to all for lovely lunches and great times!
On the home front, Ted continues to work on increasing his stamina and ability to go further without the use of his chair. He has walked into Starbucks and the library several times. Though he used the chair, he spent last Saturday (while the library was closed for Heritage Fest) supervising the upgrade of the DGPL computer network and reconfiguring the PC's for the changes that were made. Though still out on sick-leave it felt great for Ted to learn what he can do and what areas will be of focus in upcoming therapy sessions. It was fun working with his assistant Dale G. and Dale's brother Danny. Thanks Guys!
We have Michelle's cousin Steve (yes the one who had the stroke last year and has posted on this site) visiting with us over the 4th of July weekend. Steve was able to drive, alone, from St. Louis and is getting along nicely with his cane and a leg brace. He and Ted have spent time comparing their experiences as well as their medications and leg braces.
Ted is getting quite speedy at home, using the kitchen cabinets as a way to get his breakfast and lunch from the refrigerator to the table without assistance. He has even "shown off" by walking across the family with no cane. His biggest accomplishment has been mastery of the stairs from the main floor to the master bedroom. He is now able to sleep upstairs in "his own bed". We will leave the bed in the "man cave" for a while - Ted still takes his showers there and it gives him a place to sit and finish dressing - but he is quite confident in moving around in our bedroom and bath to do much of his morning routines. Great progress for which we are thrilled.
As always, thanks to all for you prayers and support. We could not do this without you.
We know others are going through tough times as well. Know are prayers are will all of you!
Michelle & Ted.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Out-patient continues to be an accurate description and Ted (and I) lead our busy lives – just a bit slower these days than in the past.
This week brought several changes including Ted’s brother Rick leaving on Thursday morning to go back home to Florida after first being in Nebraska for our youngest niece’s graduation and then straight to our house to be Ted’s driver and all around “home health care” provider. Thanks so much to Rick for all your help – we could not have made it this far without you!
Ted’s strength continues to improve and he continues to note things he could not do 3 weeks ago, a week ago and yesterday. Getting in and out of the car is much faster for him. When out and about and in the wheel chair, he leaves the cane in the car and walks the 3-4 steps from the chair to the car with no assistance other than the leg brace. For short distances, such as going into his favorite Starbucks location, he leaves the chair in the car and negotiates the journey via the leg brace and cane. Though I stay close by to lend an arm, he really doesn’t need it!
After Rick’s departure Ted was “Home Alone” on Thursday afternoon and Friday before getting a ride to his therapy session. He was justifiably proud of being able to get around the kitchen to get his lunch on Thursday and, on Friday, to get showered, dressed, put on his brace and shoes, get upstairs and deal with breakfast and lunch on his own on Friday!
Over the weekend we worked together in the kitchen to prepare various meals including yummy (and heart healthy) hash browns and grilled chicken. The stairs out to our patio are very similar to those into the house from the garage so getting outside to “man” the grill was not a huge new challenge.
Ted’s strength continues to build through his physical therapy work-outs. They use a treadmill, steps, a walker and various other tools to help build both left leg strength and to be sure Ted’s “gait” and follow through are correct. Drill Sergeant Sara would be so pleased. (We don’t want lingering hip problems down the road). On the occupational side, we see controlled motion returning in Ted’s thumb and the first two fingers of his left hand. Though he still cannot lift his arm without help from the right hand or play the piano yet we know it won’t be long until those other two fingers “wake up” and the whole gang is ready to sit down at the piano and re-learn those Broadway show tune bass lines.
The upcoming weekend brings a new challenge as Ted and I travel to Nebraska and South Dakota for our niece’s wedding (yes – the same one who just graduated from College). While the wheelchair is still a part of our lives, we are pleased that SW Airlines seems to have their act together re: how to check the chair, provide a “loaner” to get to and from the gate (and baggage claim). We (that would be Michelle) will also be learning how to drive an SUV (much bigger than our “normal” cars) – as the automobile of choice when traveling with a wheelchair.
When back from the wedding Ted is looking forward to beginning his “driver certification” to re-learn how to drive – pending approval by his new doctor.
If you happen to be in our neighborhood give a call and stop by. Ted has therapy on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons (though he will miss this week) but is generally available on Tuesday and Thursdays for visitors. (Afternoons are best – he is still not a morning person!)
As always, thanks to everyone for your prayers, your calls and emails, and all the support you provide us.
Ted and Michelle
Monday, June 8, 2009
During the week he connected with Dr. Glen Nelson and began a long term relationship as having a regular physician. They get along well and Ted is comfortable with Glen and his “Doctoring” style.
The outpatient sessions began in “full force” on Wednesday and Friday with intensive 2 hour sessions. In physical therapy focus is on improving the strength in his left leg including lots of work on stepping up with the left leg (reminds me of my aerobics step classes – too bad I gave away my old bench and the risers!). On Friday he worked to improve his “gait” using a walker rather than the cane. The walker should help to make a more even “swing through” on the left leg rather than a step-touch approach. (We want walking not 8th grade ballroom dancing here).
The use of electrodes continues to help stimulate both his leg and arm muscles. His left arm is much stronger and he can control how it behaves when he walks. Prior to this the arm just sort of “came along for the ride” and he could not easily keep it from bumping into things when he walked.
The weekend brought our usual busy schedule. Saturday afternoon we had a ‘road trip’ to Peoria to see the Corn Stock Players’ production of the Producers. Since Mary (as in our Blog Mistress) was our hostess on the trip and has, no doubt, already posted much about this trip I won’t give the details. We thank Mary and her son Bob as well as our good friend Carl for making the trip possible. Ted was in theater heaven regarding the trip and the production as well as dinner at Agatucchii’s (my apologies if I misspelled it!)
On Sunday we made it to church where Ted was, once again, the center of attention with many, many choir and church friends coming by to say Hello and see how he is doing. In the afternoon Ted, Sharon Place, Sandy Roberts and I went downtown to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to enjoy the last of our 3 concert “Beyond the Score” series. (So for you DGUMC Choir members, we were not snubbing you at the banquet – we had another engagement). The concert exceeded our expectations with a wonderful program in the first half that used a narrator, two actors, a wonderful Contralto and the CSO to set the context of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. The actors portrayed Dvorak and various people in his life, the CSO and singer played themes from music that influenced the symphony and from the symphony itself. The narrator pulled it all together helping us understand the meaning of each of the movements, why there is what may seem to some as repetition when in fact it is “remembrance” of the themes and the culmination of all the elements via the final movement. Magnificent! We highly recommend this series and have already renewed for next year. To celebrate our wonderful experience we dined at Rhapsody – the restaurant within the Orchestra Hall building. Wonderful Walleye, lovely surroundings, great company and a fabulous server (Ask for Alexandra when you dine there!). Rick took the “day off” from the crazy Waltmire schedule and stayed back in Oakbrook Terrace after church making sure the Cubs hung in there and got another extra inning win. Thanks Rick!
While all these good times meant we did not get home in time for the start of the Tony Awards DVR recorders are a wonderful thing. We did not make it through the entire ceremony so please don’t “give away the ending”.
Also thanks to Rick for all his support since Ted has come home from Marion Joy. Rick will be leaving us this week on Thursday to go back home to Florida and get ready for the trip to South Dakota for our niece’s wedding on June 20th. Ted and I will be attending as well – not as the wedding musicians as was originally planned but attending none the less. We have a bit of work to do to understand the logistics re: traveling with Ted’s wheelchair but Ted is confident this will all happen. We expect to have a grand time!.
That’s it for this update. Stay tuned for a request for assistance re: life after Rick goes home.
Thanks as always for everyone’s support!
Below: Ted and Karl
Below: Karl, Ted, and the blogmistress
Sunday, May 31, 2009
On Thursday Ted had his first meeting with the Marion Joy outpatient team. They affirmed that his goals regarding full recovery and being back to work early September are quite reasonable and he begins 3 days per week Physical and Occupational Therapy next Wednesday. Monday begins his series of doctor appointments - first with his new GP followed up by a meeting with the Neurologist from Central DuPage Hospital. From there - we'll see what other doctors need to be involved in his long term recovery and overall health care.
Friday was another adventure for Ted and Rick as they first ran (well, not literally) a couple of banking errands and got Ted his low maintenance summer buzz cut. He was pleased with his ability to make it from the car into the bank and into the barber shop without the use of the wheel chair. After that it was off to Wrigley Field (yes - again!) for a 1:20 first pitch.
Since the Cubs Express Bus does not run for weekday games until June, Ted and Rick had to find another way to get to the game. Thanks to very helpful CTA employees and courteous passengers they managed to successfully get to the ball game via the Blue Line (from Forest Park) to the Red Line (transfer at Jackson) and off at Addison right by the friendly confines. We are now MUCH more familiar with which stations have elevators (look for the wheelchair symbol on the route map in the train!). Michelle was able to take the afternoon off and meet the boys at the ballpark. We got a third ticket and off we went to the wheelchair accessible seats right behind home plate. Luckily we brought our jackets since the temperature at our seats was about 10 degrees cooler than that in the lower part of the park. The wind blowing in chilled both us and the Cubs - at least for the first seven innings. In the seventh the wind calmed down and the Cubs heated up. While they left a LOT of men on base they had just enough offense to win (Cubs 2, Dodgers 1). We had a grand time singing "Go Cubs Go". Leaving the park via the elevator we learned that the exit point is right by the entrance to the players parking lot and that you can line up and try to get autographs as the players exit the field to go to their cars. By the time we got there most of the "Big Time" players were gone but Rick did get a great picture of Ryan Theriot's back as he (Ryan, not Rick) was signing autographs. Outside the ballpark Rick also got several pictures of the players in their various very expensive cars leaving the park. I never realized how tall Derrick Lee is until I saw him standing beside his car. No wonder he can make some of those spectacular long reach catches and still keep his foot on the bag.
After all that excitement you would think our day on Friday would have ended and we would head for home but it was early on a beautiful Friday afternoon so we headed back to the Red Line (it took a bit more persuasion for people to be courteous when the train was so full but we made it) and downtown to the Bergoff Restaurant. (Yes - it closed. It is now open with a shorter menu and new waiters) Ted was able to get his Sauerbraten, creamed spinach and mashed potato fix. Rick and Michelle each had delicious fish (not the German specialties but quite good!)
Saturday brought more morning errands followed by the "Welcome Home, The Mighty Ted" party. Ted was bubbling with joy the entire time. He loved showing people how well he is able to walk, talking about his progress negotiating the stairs (he is much faster and more confident now though he still needs someone to watch him for a mis-step) and the level of control he has over his left arm. The fingers have still not decided to join us but we know they won't be far behind. Thanks to all of you who sent your good wishes to Ted but could not join us. We look forward to seeing you at our future gatherings and to all of you who took the time out of your busy lives to come by. (And to any of you who did not get the invitation - our apologies - we tried to get the email out to as many of you as possible but did think of others who were missed. We will have other parties and be sure you are invited!) Thanks especially to Steve Ziedler and Mr. Z's grocery store in Lombard for our beautiful party trays and the cake. Everyone loved the food and could not have been more complementary about all the yummies!
So... Sunday brings church followed by our normal "go out for lunch" and perhaps a run to our "yuppie grocery store" (Sorry Steve) looking for some seafood to grill.
As I said at the start, quite a weekend!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Though it was a rain-shortened game, Ted and Rick navigated the streets of Chicago (with the help of the Cubs Express Bus from convenient Yorktown Mall) and enjoyed a great evening at Wrigley Field. Cubs 6, Pirates – 1. CUBS WIN!!! I forgot to ask if they sing “Go Cubs Go” and hoist the Win Flag when the game is called due to rain. (Yes – there are pictures but we need to get Rick back to Florida to pick up the camera cable so we can send them on to Mary for posting on the blog.)
Earlier in the day he visited another target, checking in at the Downers Grove Library to visit co-workers and show off his “BMW” wheelchair.
Today has been low-key recovering from yesterday and getting ready for his first out-patient therapy session. We are looking forward to a new set of schedules and goals!
That’s all for now.
Thanks everyone for all your support. As the “mighty Ted” says, “It makes a difference!”.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Prior to Ted’s release, Ted, his brother Rick and I spent Friday continuing to work with the wonderful people at Marion Joy learning more about how to support Ted on the next part of his journey.
Ted finished the day on Friday equipped with his custom leg brace and his “BWM” wheel chair (a rental custom fit to his body and MUCH speedier than the “Chevy” he had at Marion Joy).
Our final therapy sessions with Nancy (occupational) and Drill Sergeant Sarah (physical) were focused on Ted’s routine at home and the exercises we will all be doing to enhance the outpatient therapy. (Motivation includes not having to go back to sleeping in the “Barbie Doll Toe Boot”!)
Speaking of outpatient therapy – his first session is scheduled for Thursday morning (yes – morning!). Ted is anxious to get started and this was the first available slot. He is scheduled to work on Physical and Occupational Therapy. Note that no speech therapy was prescribed. Between all the cell phone calls, regular room calls and personal visits Ted’s speech has rapidly improved – so keep those calls coming. (Probably best to use the house land line: 630-792-0853 as we get LOUSY cell phone reception in the house.) Text messaging to the cell phone and email to Ted’s work email (firstname.lastname@example.org) both work pretty well as alternate forms of communication.
Ted has been charged to continue to do his daily tongue exercises on his own (ask him about the “Big Z”). Now that the articulation is there and the speed of speech is coming back the last hurdle is to regain the inflections of regular conversation. Our choir will be pleased to hear that our vocal warm-ups are part of his “home work” as the best tool for helping Ted recover the “melody of speech”.
So .. we spent the weekend getting Ted (and us) settled in to our new routine. Ted loves his Mighty Ted headquarters with his big screen TV, full bath with grab bars, hand held shower and a fresh coat of paint (THANKS EVERYONE!) and is getting much better at navigating the stairs.
We were thrilled with the greeting of everyone as we did some grocery shopping at Mr. Z’s in Lombard (great steaks Steve!), went to church on Sunday (followed by brunch at one of our favorite spots – with healthy options on the menu) and relaxed on Monday (well.. sort of – there were several piles of laundry to be done!) before doing burgers on the grill.
This week brings a meeting with the team from Midwest University to fit Ted with his GPS and pedometer for the stroke study; going to Wrigley Field to TRY to bring the Cubs some luck after this terrible losing streak and starting the next phase of therapy on Thursday.
Updates to the blog will continue by Ted, Michelle or both of us as we have news to report.
Thanks to everyone for all your support and love. It really has, and will continue to, see us through this challenging time.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday Ted started off his day early, as usual, with speech therapy. He misses doing the group sessions with the other patient who had similar goals to Ted. Physical therapy continues walking the loop, climbing the stairs and riding the exercise back in an continued effort to both build endurance and reenforce good walking habits. (Keep that right heel down Ted). More Wii bowling and Wii-fit along with a game of Strategies (Ted actually lost this time) were the Recreational Therapy events. Occupational therapy spent time working with the skateboard, doing stretching exercises and doing stimulation of the muscles via massage and electrodes to continue to wake up the left arm. The day ended with the most challenging event of all - collection of data for the Midwest University Stroke Study. The hard part was not the walking, etc. (though that was challenging since Ted was pretty tired after all the other therapy sessions). It was the fact that both Ted and Sarah COULD NOT TALK during the 4 minute test! (Though Sarah, as an amateur actress, enjoyed delivery of her lines at each minute mark. I wish you could hear her delivery of "Keep it up. You're doing great!") Ted's brother Rick joined him for lunch and the afternoon therapy sessions so he got an early look of what Thursday would bring.
Thursday we spent the day with Ted participating in Family Education - meeting the Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy teams, the dietician, the psychologist and the nurse in charge of his medications. All are absolutely wonderful (as Ted has been telling us) going through the daily routines and helping us understand what Ted can do, where he needs accomodations and (thanks to Drill Sergent Sarah) where to get on his case (cutting no slack on bad habits). It is quite a lot of data to absorb but we have lots of notes and Ted's information book to help us remember the key points. It was great to see Ted getting himself in and out of bed, walking with his cane, going up and down stairs and in and out of the car. The support that is needed is minimal and referred to as "standby" - just to be there if he has a mis-step, over extends himself or gets too tired. We were too busy today to have any recreational therapy (maybe tomorrow we'll get to do one last Will Bowling session). In Speech Therapy we learned about SLOB (Speak Slowly, Loudly - as appropriate, Overarticulate and Breathe). He is doing great on the articulation (as those of you who have been able to call are well aware). They continue to work on regaining the rhythms of speech patterns (they say that singing is great for that part of the recovery) and strenthening the muscles in the throat and of the tongue to regain his former voice qualities. Occupational therapy brought lots of good tips on devices that will help Ted cut food on his own (rocker knives), take a shower and many (many) arm exercises to continue to wake up the right arm.
In the meeting with the dietician we learned that the diet, while low-fat and low-sodium does not appear to be as restricted as we expected. With all the care we take to meet my Weight Watchers diet we are actually in pretty good shape, diet wise! As long as we look for the American Heart Association check mark / seal of approval we are "good to go". Hei is also pleased to know that Starbucks (the coffee of the day - not the fancy mochas with all the cream and other goodies) is still an option. Caffine is not an issue - just the "bad" fats and the sodium. It was good to see the list of ongoing medications and to know the purpose of each. It's really a very short list - most of which are preventative measures against stroke along with the ongoing medication he takes for the gastro issue he had last fall. The psychologist was very informative as she explained the purpose of the anti-depressant and the studies that have been done regarding the healing power of SSRI (Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Bottom line - the brain needs more time to grab the seratonin, which helps the various brain processes and is the "happy" brain chemical. The SSRI family of drugs makes that happen - Non-addictive and a good thing.
Our day ended with Drill Sergent Sarah, walking the loop, doing the 16 steps and learning how to help Ted in getting in and out of the car. An educational and exhausting day for all of us.It's now time for a nap then dinner and the hopes for a Cubs win tonight. Friday will bring Ted's last day of therapy and getting ready to go home on Saturday. He begins his outpatient therapy a week from today. (They were booked up on Tuesday). In the meantime we will be working at home on practicing everthing that we learned today and having some well deserved sleeping in over the holiday weekend!
Signing off from Marion Joy. Thanks to all for your continued prayers and support.
Michelle & Ted
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
With the upgrade in his level of assistance the occupational therapy sessions will move from ADL to increased work on regeneration of muscles and movement in his left arm.
Ted met with a group of Doctors from Midwest University in Downers Grove, Illinois. Ted will be part of their case study regarding the effect and recovery time on younger stroke victims. Ted will be wearing both a pedometer and a GPS to record his movements and his progress. The money he is paid to participate in the study will be donated to research / support of other stroke victims.
Physical therapy included more stairs – he is now up to 16 steps in a session (the exact number of steps he needs to be able to climb when returning home on Saturday).
We are excited to have Ted’s brother Rick staying with us to support Ted’s return home and his transition into outpatient therapy. Thanks to our dear friend Sharon Place for picking Rick up at the airport and to Rick for changing his plans and coming straight to Chicago from a large family graduation ceremony (2 nieces and a future nephew-in-law) in Nebraska.
We are very blessed and continue to thank everyone for all their support (and the loan of wheelchairs, canes and other equipment Ted will need once he returns home).
(note from Blogmistress: In case you are wondering about some of the mysterious blog headings, they are all songs from musicals, mostly Sondheim.)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
He is hoping to get his assistance level upgraded regarding his ADLs (activities of daily living) to have no assistance with certain tasks (including using the washroom). Right now they are on standby to be sure he doesn’t fall but he is able to stand and “do his business” with no assistance. (Hopefully that is not TMI for anyone!).
Thanks to all of you who continue to shower Ted with fun Cubby gifts. You are way too generous!.
His latest are the “Holy Cow” from our friend Cynthia Rogers and Ted’s very own Number 14 Cubby Bear (A Vermont Teddy Bear in a Baseball uniform, cap and bat with Ernie Bank’s number and Ted’s name on the Jersey) thanks to our friends at Lighthouse Technology. (Thanks Cyn, Lou and company!) Ted’s ready to “play two” as Ernie used to say – we just have to get him back in shape and ready to go!
Thanks to everyone who comments on the blog. Mary is great to do the daily posts and it makes us so glad to know so many people are checking on Ted’s progress.
Michelle & Ted
Monday, May 18, 2009
Friday’s therapy introduced the exercise bike (yes with both legs!); continued work on stairs, including what Ted has named the Steppes of Russia (8 steps in the center’s exit stairwells – a pretty extensive climb up and down); and another session on the Wii – this time Wii fitness using the balance board. Saturday brought more walking, including the ability to walk without his cane when he was supported by a member of the therapy team walking on either side of him. He said it was very exciting to be able to walk at a somewhat normal pace without the cane. The therapy team told him that they would report to “Drill Sergeant Sarah” that he did very well. (High praise indeed!).
Saturday afternoon Ted attended the Dog Therapy session (even though Ted is a cat person). Since the dogs included Dobermans we thought of our niece’s dogs out in Nebraska (Hi to Gwen and Cody!) Though Sunday is an “off” day, Ted made progress in arm movement. He said when he was taking his nap after church he was able to move his lower arm in bed like he does on the skateboard! Welcome back to those lower arm muscles! Can the fingers be far behind?
Ted was measured for a leg brace on Friday. It will give his left leg more stability when he walks and will help his recovery as an outpatient. The clinic doctor estimated that he would be back to work in around 90 days after his release from Marion Joy. Exciting news indeed.
Ted’s brother Rick will be joining our household on Tuesday as we prepare to learn what it takes to be Ted’s caregivers over the next several weeks.
In getting ready for Ted’s return home our wonderfully generous friends from the Summer Place Theater came on Saturday to install grab bars, paint the downstairs bath and otherwise help turn our basement TV room into TheMightyTed Recovery Headquarters. (Part of his home therapy may be doing the blog updates!) Thanks Dave, Jeff, Gena and Steve!
Once Ted is home next week we will give you an update on his schedule and “visiting hours”.
In spite of the Cubs 9th inning play in the games over the weekend Ted’s blood pressure continues to remain stable and within acceptable limits.
Thanks to all the visitors over the past weeks and the weekend (Bob and Joanne, Sue & Justin, Dale G., Mary V. , Dale R, all the library friends and co-workers, Dick & Bonnie, our pastors, choir friends, Alan, Natalie, Evan; Jane, Ethan & Dillon and all the others that I have forgotten to mention). It is your thoughts and prayers and visits and phone calls and emails and texts that are helping us through this unexpected journey.
Michelle & Ted
Friday, May 15, 2009
While I don’t think the way too much fun is true, he has certainly made a lot of new friends as well as enhancing his / our connections with our “old” friends.
Yesterday brought more work on his left arm including skateboard sessions in which they applied a massage device and some electrodes to his arm to stimulate the muscles. It appears the stimulus “woke up” some of the muscles since he was able to do more / better work with his arm after the application.
The walking and building up his stamina continues. He told me that the sorting exercises are designed to give him something to do while they are timing how long he can stand at a stretch.
Recreational therapy introduced Ted to a new “toy”. He had his first Wii bowling session. He beat the therapist with a score of 147. (We don’t have a Will at home but I have a feeling a request may be forthcoming). He didn’t say what she scored but he was thinking she may not want to play with him again!
We continue to look at a release date of Saturday May 23rd. Our Summer Place friends have a “crew” lined up to come over to our house tomorrow (Saturday, May 16) to install grab bars, railings and anything else that Marion Joy believes Ted will need to continue his road to recovery once he comes home.
Thanks for all your help, support and prayers. We know we could not get through this without all of you!
Michelle & Ted
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday one of the highlights was a rousing game of Yatzee with the recreational therapist. Though the game is random throwing of the dice, Ted managed to achieve the highest score seen in the 6 years the therapist has been at the center – with THREE Yatzees.
Speech therapy continued with exercises, conversation and Ted helping one of his fellow stroke victims. Since she has memory difficulties Ted read to her from the newspaper and then she was asked by the therapist to recall facts from the articles read by Ted.
Occupational therapy is going well – Ted is now able to get dressed with very minimal assistance (just a bit of help in pulling on his pants – ooh – is that TMI?) He continues to work with the skateboard to improve arm strength and movement and to do sorting exercises while standing (several 4 minute stretches of standing before he would have to sit down).
In physical therapy the walking continues and he says that “Drill Sergeant Sarah” will not let him “get away with” anything – she calls Ted out when his left foot is lazy or the right foot is not in the proper position for optimum balance. Good for her!
Thanks to everyone for all your cards, phone calls and visits. They are much appreciated.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Monday and Tuesday were busy days with a lot of walking, mat exercises (for the left leg) and more work on the arm skateboard. Monday brought the first “auto-therapy” session – the facility has a full-sized car in the therapy gym! Ted is learning various new games as a part of his recreational therapy. Monday brought a rousing game of Tri-Ominos (think triangular dominos). Tuesday he did a sorting exercise while standing – working both the mind and the body. He said he was able to stand for 5 minutes before needing to sit down.
His left side continues to grow stronger – he had some involuntary movement of some of the fingers on his left hand and no longer has to wear the “boot” to keep his foot from drooping. The doctor says the left leg muscles are now strong enough to keep the foot in the proper position (no “Barbie Doll” toes).
Speech therapy has moved from exercises (not Ted’s favorite activity) to conversations with other stroke patients. Tuesday they played a game in which one of the group members had to describe a picture and the other members of the group had to guess the picture. (Sounds like reverse Charades – one of Ted’s favorite party games). Ted continues “unofficial” speech therapy burning up his cell phone. He was able to connect with the Chicago Cubs organization to determine how we can use our Cubs tickets for games the last week in May. It looks like we can exchange our “nosebleed” seats for tickets in the wheelchair accessible seats. (Ted says he’ll play the “handicapped card” if it gets him better seats!) Now we just have to figure out the part about getting him to the game. Disabled parking is available but driving to it … well – that’s something else again. Ted’s brother Rick will be coming to stay with us so the two brothers will have time to figure out the best way for both of them to get to the game.
The center has ongoing events with guest speakers. Tuesday was “Stroke Support Group”. Two stroke victims (both in their late 50’s) spoke about their experiences in recovery and the quality of their daily lives. They reminded the group that everyday will not bring victories and the progress is measured in small steps. Looking back to where you were a week ago is the best way to affirm your growth.
Tuesday evening brought an ice-cream social and a Cubs win. Overall an exciting but exhausting day.
Ted loves those visitors and is looking for people to stop by and help him eat all the goodies that folks have shared!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Therapy continued on Friday and Saturday (morning only) with much more walking and leg lifts. I arrived Saturday in time to see him take a couple of steps and he is regularly doing his leg and knee lifts both when sitting in his wheel chair and when resting in bed. He spends much of his day in the chair – using the bed for afternoon naps (a luxury these days) and sleeping (as opposed to the hospital and his first days at MJ where he was primarily bed-ridden).
His upper left arm gains more mobility each day though the arm below the elbow and his left hand have yet to “wake up”. As we are learning, there are a LOT of brain cells that need to be reprogrammed and it takes time to get everything back working again.
As noted last week, they are cutting the speech therapy down to once a day (could it have something to do with all the work he is doing talking to all of you via his cell phone? Keep those calls coming – we LOVE it!). They will use the extra slot for additional physical therapy.
Ted was pretty tired by the weekend but we did manage to get outside on both Saturday and Sunday – discovering the beautiful grounds of the facility and how much work it takes to push someone in a wheel chair uphill!
The staff stops by regularly to check on the Cubs score – they are very careful about the timing of taking his blood pressure (especially during a couple of the games this past weekend). Based on his popularity at the center we may have a hard time getting the staff to let him come home. All weekend I kept hearing them tell him and me what a great patient he is!
By the way – Ted is online now and able to get to both this blog (so he can read all your comments) and to his face book page. (He has asked me to continue posting the blog for now – he says once handed typing is very tedious!)
Thanks for all your support.
Michelle & Ted
Friday, May 8, 2009
Though the staff at the facility looked a bit amazed at first we had quite a crowd gathered by the end of the event.
Earlier in the day Ted had several therapy sessions continuing to work on daily living tasks, walking (doubled the walk from Wednesday by doing 100 feet!) and climbing stairs. He said he is doing so well on the speech therapy (you’d know it is true if you had heard him singing last night) that they are cutting one of the speech therapy sessions and replacing it with an additional physical therapy session. He also had a rousing game of Dice with the recreational therapist and cannot wait until the Scrabble Game day!
We are counting the days until he can come home and are working on figuring out how to get to as many Cubs Games as possible. Their website gives details about disabled parking and wheelchair access so … we’ll see what happens.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The therapy team believes that he will be sufficiently functional / self-supportive to come home May 23rd. Though this is a tentative date dependant on his progress we are very excited. He has daily assessments (and a lot of acronyms I am still learning to understand) regarding his trength and mobility. For example, his UE (upper extremities) level is 75-99% compared to the norm (100%). He continues to have more and more use of his left leg and, in true to Ted fashion, he beat his physical therapy goal yesterday by walking 53 feet (the goal was 50!).
His right arm is progressing with strength and mobility in both the shoulder and elbow. He still needs assistance in ADL (average daily living) when eating since it is difficult to cut up one’s food with only one hand, especially when you are left handed and that is the one that is not working (at the moment). He did ask that I include on the daily report that he was able to butter and jelly his morning toast with no assistance.
His case worker is very confident that we will be able to attend our niece’s wedding on June 20th – most likely without the aid of a wheel chair (though he was amused by the thought of wheel chair races through the airport!). We have a series of tickets to the Chicago Cubs home games, including a couple of games at the end of May. We are hopeful that, perhaps with some help since our tickets are WAY up in the nosebleed section, he will be able to attend those games as well! Talk about your motivator.
On that note, I will sign off for today.
Thanks to everyone for your support and … Go CUBS!
Michelle & Ted
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Ted was in good spirits when we spoke last night. Though everyone has told me how tired he will be he seems to be holding up well so far.
Yesterday he did a morning and afternoon session of Occupational Therapy concentrating on daily living tasks in the morning – get dressed, shave, brush teeth. In the afternoon he worked with a “skateboard” (he said it’s not the kind you normally think of – thank goodness!) that is a device that goes under his left arm. Though he cannot move the arm without assistance he was able to move it while on the “skateboard” – which sounds like the upper arm strength and control must be returning.
Physical therapy is moving along – in addition to the walking practice he has added learning how to navigate stairs. (They have a 3 step practice unit in the therapy gym – quite nice!) Speech therapy continues to work on exercises with the lips and tongue. He said his pucker still works!
Today we hear from his case worker regarding the assessment by the total therapy team and the doctor to determine an estimated discharge date.
Thanks for all the cards and phone calls. He loves to hear from people and will call you back when he is “on break” from his therapy sessions and at the end of the day.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
(All of us who know Ted know this is WAY earlier than he normally awakes much less has food).
Therapy consisted of three sessions – Occupational working with ways to get dressed, brush his teeth and otherwise do the tasks of daily living; Physical both worked on walking with a cane – he is able to put weight on his left leg and has some voluntary movement which apparently helps him in the walking; Speech – new exercises including sticking out his tongue and pursing his lips like he is kissing someone (I LIKE this last one). While the tone of his speech is still not the same as before the stroke the speed at which he speaks has increased / does not sound so labored and some of his normal inflections have returned – especially when the Cubs were winning the game last nite.
The therapy team is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to evaluate his sessions and to give us an estimated discharge date. Once home he will continue his therapy on an outpatient basis. They tell us there is a facility in Oakbrook, which will be more convenient to our home.
We continue to thank everyone for their cards, their prayers and thoughts. We would not get through this without you.
(note from Mary, the blogmistress: I think he would do better if they started therapy at around 9PM, and finished up at 2AM in the morning. He is definitely the night owl!)
Monday, May 4, 2009
Ted and I have a lot in common. We both love my Cousin Michelle. We both love music. We were both born left handed. And we've both suffered a stroke. It is important to note that each person's recovery is unique so Ted's progress my differ from mine. Here is my story.
On the afternoon of February 1st, 2008 I had a hemorrhagic stroke, a rupture in a blood vessel. I was home alone and unable to get to my phone to call 911. A worried friend with a key found me 15 hours later. This was a month before my 41st birthday. I spent the next few weeks edated in ICU.
On February 25th I transfered to a rehab hospital to begin therapy. On the 28th I had a birthday party in my room (Michelle & I have the same birthday).
My left side was the side affected. The good news in that my long term memory was completely intact, as will Ted's. Besides the lack of movement in my left side my speech and short term memory were affected.
Therapy is broken into 3 segments --- physical therapy for the leg & walking, occupational therapy for the arm and ADL's --- activities of daily living (brushing teeth, dressing, etc..) and speech therapy for speech & memory exercises. This initial therapy is big picture stuff --- getting Ted walking and moving his arm.
During the week the schedule is full with therapy sessions. Still the sense of time when spending weeks & months in a hospital can be weird. Not sure if it is the change in routine or the drugs or both. I wanted to nap all the time. Finally a nurse told me I needed to work on staying up later so I'd sleep better so I'd be good the next day. That worked wonders.
So although I was not always fully awake I loved having visitors. Check with Marion Joy, but I loved getting food from the outside!
I also loved getting my iPhone & laptop so I could resume blogging (my blog, http://www.urbanreviewstl.com, is the #1 blog in St. Louis). I had to adjust to typing with one hand but communicating with the outside work was great. Ted already has his phone so once we get him set up with a laptop we'll start to hear from him.
Ted very likely has "left inattention" Therapy will help him pay attention to the left side. Little things like keeping track of his left arm and watching how he is steering the wheelchair so he doesn't hit stuff on the left. Games like bingo help with looking to the left to check for numbers. Over time this isn't an issue like it is at this stage.
In the coming weeks I'll share more about what to expect in the coming months as Ted finishes rehab, returns home, starts driving again and goes back to work.
He received his assessments from the therapy team yesterday and has his first sessions this morning. We expect to hear an estimated dismissal date once they have had a chance to work with him.
For those who wish to send “snail mail” the correct way to address correspondence is:
c/o Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital
26 W. 171 Roosevelt Road
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
(No need for the room number – they know where to find him).
For those who wish to visit:
Visiting hours are 11:30 AM – 1 PM (during which time he also receives his lunch)
4 PM – 8 PM ( dinner is served at 5:30 pm)
The facility asks that we try to limit visitors to 2 at a time.
He is still “burning up” his cell phone and loves to pick up those messages. (630-776-6087).
We are working on getting the email / wi-fi access going sometime soon.