Sunday, July 19, 2009

This week's update begins with Ted's continuing connection with co-workers and the trip to the American Library Association's national convention. Luckily ALA was in Chicago this year so it was a short trip. Ted and loyal assistant Dale went to McCormick place meeting up with fellow librarian Rich Chartrand (from the East Alton, Illinois - near St. Louis). A grand time was had by all as they harassed vendors and became the center of attention for Paula Poundstone's stand up comedy routine. Why Paula Poundstone doing stand-up at a library convention you may ask (I did!). She is a staunch supporter of libraries and a friend of ALA (not to mention a big draw for the vendors to get people into the exhibit area). Amazingly enough, Ted's blood pressure remained normal in spite of the visit with one of his "favorite" library vendors (those of you who work at DGPL can probably guess the vendor!)

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

Now you know


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

I'm still here

We have been rather busy of late and are way overdue on an update so .. here are highlights from the last few weeks.

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 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.