Saturday, October 10, 2015

We’re in Lynden, Washington



I have been getting some folks telling me they are wanting an update to hear how Lorraine is doing.  I didn’t realize I haven’t written since the day she moved in here to this care center.  Even though there isn’t too much to report, I’ll do an update anyway.  

Last report I gave the name and address of where Lorraine is now residing, she is able to receive visitors and appreciates all that have stopped by, called, written or commented on Facebook.  I read all the comments and such to her and it makes her glad to know so many folks are wishing her well and praying for her recovery.

This place isn’t the same as Shuksan, nice but its bigger so it doesn’t have the “family” attitude.  Everything is more structured here.  Everyone seems nice although we have had some issues getting to know everyone’s mannerism and such. 

Lorraine starts her day off by getting up before 7am, she’s almost always awake before I get here at 6.  Two nurse’s aides come by to get her ready and in her wheel chair.  After that, I help her brush her teeth and hair, she’s learning how to do more things only using one hand.  Only change to that is when she gets a shower, they get her up a little after 5, give her a shower and lay her back in bed until the normal 7 get up time.  When I get here on those mornings, Lorraine is freezing so I bring her a hot cup of coffee. 

We usually head to the dining room around 7:15 for breakfast.  Lorraine fills out a weekly menu request for her meals but she is always asked when she gets there what she would like.  The food is good and they attempt to give some variables as wanted.  Of course, this being a nursing home, some of the residents need more attention/help to eat so most of the aide are at the tables during mealtimes.  After breakfast, Lorraine is ready to lay down and rest but has to wait until the last wave of breakfast folks are done, usually around 8:45.

Lorraine then rests until they help her get up for her scheduled therapy at 10.  Depending on what therapy they are doing, I am usually asked to leave the room, guess I’m a distraction and try to “help” too much.  They usually have her ride a powered bike for 15 minutes, mostly to keep range of motion in her leg.  Then they move over to the platform where they work on sitting.  She still has trouble sitting upright, she falls to her left still. 

They are working with her to transfer from her wheel chair to the therapy platform or her bed using a slide board.  Basically they position a board under her and bridge the gap between her chair and bed then assist her in sliding over.  If she has a handhold where she can pull herself using her right arm, she does really well but still needs two people to assist.  On these days when the weather is so gray and damp, her arthritis is a limiting factor in how much she can help using her right leg, her knee is so sore from arthritis.  

Then they move over to the parallel bars where they position her wheel chair between them and have her stand.  She can almost pull herself upright using just her right leg and arm but someone has to block her left leg so it doesn’t fold/collapse.  And she also can’t stand straight either, she falls to her left.  

Lorraine is still having some mental issue, sometimes she doesn’t know where she is and gets confused.  The speech therapist is working with her on that and every morning, first thing, I give her a calendar and have her mark off yesterday and we work on what today is.  We also talk about where we are (Lynden) and what building (Christian Health Care Center) and why she’s here (stroke).  That talk seems to help her be more orientated, at least for awhile.   

Lorraine really works hard at therapy and is usually pretty tired after they are finished, usually just over an hour.  She usually just rests in her chair until lunch at 11:30, once again she is in the first shift to eat.  If the weather is nice and it’s warm enough, I’ll usually push her around outside so she can enjoy being out too before lunch. 

After lunch she is once again tired and ready to lay down to rest so we wait for the aides and they help her get into bed.  She likes to get up and get ready to go again around 2:30 or so.  After she’s up and ready, we usually roam the hallways or go outside or check in with the activity room gals to see what’s happening there. 

Dinner is about 4:30 so we head over to the dining room for that.  Lorraine normally likes fish but she’s found the fish here is not very good so she doesn’t order that.  They always have an alternate choice or she can get one of the anytime meals (chef’s salad, grilled cheese, mac salad, hamburger, soup) if she prefers. 

After dinner we usually watch TV and talk for a couple of hours until she wants to lay back down and go to sleep, about 7 pm or so.     I hang around until she is asleep, we have a little routine that we go through when she is ready and she falls asleep pretty quickly after that. 

Lorraine is still getting terrible headaches all day, has lots of pain when as the nerves on her left side start waking up and her joints hurt her most days.  She is on a routine pain management schedule, pills every 4 hours except they give her a long acting one at night.  The aides do come in every two hours at night to change her position and place pillows under one side or the other so she doesn’t have uninterrupted sleep but she manages.  During the daytime she has some rest periods but usually doesn’t sleep much.

Lorraine will probably never be able to move from her bed to a wheel chair to a car by herself again.  Her left side is completely gone although she is able to move her left leg a bit but no strength there.  The therapist were hoping to get her to use a pole by her bedside to move but they don’t think she can do that with the diminished strength in her right side. 

We are still hoping she will be able to graduate to home health care within a few months and I’m going to have one of the therapist go by our house (empty at this time) to check it out with her.  We are also thinking of moving to other places that are drier (Palm Springs comes to mind).  I know I can’t possibly give her 24 hour care like she needs and will have to hire someone to help.  We haven’t even looked into filling that need yet but know these folks are out there. 

Mentally she is all here, she knows and understands what is happening except for a bit of confusion at times.  She is mostly upbeat about her condition although she does have a few down moments.  She is handling this a lot better than I would, that’s for sure.  She really hates being dependent on others, especially for her care but accepts the fact she just can’t do it for herself after the stroke.  And most of the nurses and aides treat the residents with respect and care, I’m glad to see that. 

Lorraine had to go to her regular doctor a few days ago, he checked out her meds, made a few changes and checked her over.  He told her he had heard good things from the therapists here, that she was working hard and showing some signs of recovery.  He told her to just continue on and work hard. 

She also had an appointment with the neurologist who treated her right after her stroke in the emergency room.  This is the guy that worked to send her down to Seattle so they could attempt to harvest the blood clot from her brain.  He called me twice while Lorraine was in the hospital in Seattle, wanted to be kept up-to-date.  Anyway, he checked her meds, made a few adjustments and wished her luck.  

I have been trying to find a wheel chair accessible van to purchase so we can go out on outings.  There are three main models that they do these conversation on, Honda Odysseys, Chrysler and Dodge minivans and regular cargo type vans.  The ramps can be installed in the back (the wheel chair is positioned in the rear row of seats) or the passenger side door (the wheel chair is in the middle row or either front seat area). 

After all my research, I want a converted mini-van with an electric, automatic ramp that goes under the floorboard, not the kind that folds up and blocks the door.  I also want the front passenger seat to be removable so she can ride in that position in her wheel chair.  Of course, this means the middle row of seats have to be out too but the back row of seats remain in position. 

I’ve researched everything I could find between here and South Seattle and found a few but most of them aren’t what I want for her.  I found one a guy in Bellingham was selling but it was in pretty bad shape, the ramp and the sliding door didn’t even work.  Granted, he only wanted $3000 for it but I don’t want something that I have to work on. 

I did find another one near Puyallup, an ‘08 Honda Odyssey, and made a deal with them to have it delivered to me up here.  But when it got here it turned out to be a piece of junk.  The check engine light was one with the associated buzzer going off, the brakes grabbed and stuck, the steering wheel didn’t return to center plus a few other items.  Beside the fact they had problems getting it ready, it was three days late, and didn’t do a good cleaning job on it either.  So once it got here and I took it out for a short drive, I just turned them around and didn’t purchase it.  I called the owner and told him I didn’t want it and explained why, his response was “You do know this is a used car?”  I’m sure I made the right decision on that one but Lorraine was really disappointed, she was really looking forward to being able to get out. 

I also had one that I found in Los Angles, yes, in California.  This was a 2012 Honda Odyssey that a guy had bought for his dad, had it converted but his dad only rode in it 5 times before he passed.  The guy kept this car in the garage until now, it only had 5,400 miles on it.  He listed it on Craig’s list where I spotted it.  We talked on the phone a few times and made a deal to buy the car.  I called and left a message on his phone one evening and he misunderstood what I said, I told him the money from my IRA hadn’t made it to my checking account yet.  He thought I said I wasn’t able to get the money.  Anyway, he sold the car to someone else, a dealer who will just turn around and sell it for a big profit. 

I’ve also been working with a dealer in Minnesota who do these conversation themselves.  They also take used models back, go through them and resell them.  I checked them out pretty well and it looks like a good company and they do a good job of checking out used vehicles.  I’ve talked with them quite a few times and finally decided to buy one from them, a ‘09 Honda.  I called the salesman and made a deal and they were to deliver it to us here. 

When I asked when the driver would head out, figuring a couple of days at the most, he said it would be 5 weeks.  WHAT, I wanted it now, not later.  I didn’t understand they have these used cars in stock but the don’t recondition them until someone purchases one.  The reconditioning process takes 5 weeks, they go through them pretty thoroughly, even to the point of replacing the carpeting and repainting them and they want to make sure they have it optioned out for the new owner. 

Once again, back to the fall back plan but this was my fall back plan.  I spent the night thinking about it and called the guy back in the morning to see if they could do the reconditioning quicker, like two weeks.  He talked with the production manager and said they would attempt to have it done in three weeks then deliver it here.  He also will be taking our car in on trade and the driver will be taking it back to Minnesota.  So we made the deal and they are getting it ready for us.  He won’t give me a firm date of when it will be delivered but we have a “good faith date” of Nov. 3rd. 

If you know of anyone who would like a good deal, I’ll sell our 2014 GMC Terrain for what we are getting on trade-in, $23,500.  It has a 4 cylinders engine and just over 19,000 miles with all recommended services done on time.  It is equipped with a Roadmaster tow bar and Air Force One auxiliary braking system so it can be towed 4 wheels down behind our motor home.   We bought it new in Yuma and it’s been a great car for us for the short time we’ve had it, hate to trade it in but we want a wheel chair van for our needs now. 

Lorraine has really been wanting to go to her sister’s house to see her and her husband, John.  Thelma has been by to see Lorraine a few times but John has some medical and doesn’t get out often so Lorraine wanted to visit with him.  That’s one of the major reasons I’ve been working to get a van as soon as possible.  So one day I signed up with the van driver from the center here to make an outing to her sister’s house.  We were only able to get an hour there but at least she made it to see them. 

I had a talk with the social service gal here, I want them to help me research the idea of Lorraine moving to a nursing home in Palm Springs area.  Lorraine really wants to get out of this area, especially during the cold, damp wintertime.  And if Lorraine graduates to home care, we could always get a place down there and hire help as needed.  I’m sure, with all the winter travelers who head to the area, there are places and people that will fit our needs.  But all of this is down the road, she has to have more/better recovery first.

Guess that brings us up to date. 


Thanks   Chuck 




Friday, September 18, 2015

We’re in Lynden, Washington



Today was moving day for Lorraine, she was moved from Shuksan in Bellingham to Christian Health Care Center in Lynden.  Basically, this move was because of insurance and therapy coverage, sure wish insurance companies would leave the doctoring to the doctors/therapists.

Last night was pretty emotional for Lorraine, she was doing lots of things for the last time at Shuksan ie, last dinner, last time with her nurse and aide.  Her favorite nurse and favorite aide were both working swing shift, both came by to let her know how sorry they were that she couldn’t stay there. 

When I got there this morning she was angry at me because she had been awake for hours and I got there at my normal time (6 am).  I think most of it had to do with the stress of her having to make this move today. 

We were scheduled to get transferred at 11:00 but they had their monthly pancake breakfast this morning so things were in a bit of turmoil and confusion.  But the breakfast was nice although Lorraine has been getting the early breakfast and was hungry way before they were ready.  They pancakes and eggs were cooked to order and had plenty of fixing to go with them. 

All morning long, people were stopping by to see Lorraine and wish her luck and hoping for a good recovery.  They all said she was a great patient and they hated to see her have to leave.  Sure wish they could have talked to the board or owner or whoever it was that made the decision to force her to leave.  

I think there were four residents leaving this morning so they were busy doing the paperwork for all of them.  There were three moving to different facilities and one moving to her daughter’s home.  But about 10:45 or so, the head nurse came in with the paperwork for Lorraine and we were able to get the 11:00 bus.  There were two ladies going so they dropped the first lady off at a place in Bellingham then headed we North on the Guide. 

I was following the van, had to get our car there with Lorraine’s stuff and if I rode with her, I would have had to just turn around and go back to get the car and I wanted/needed to be to get her through the first few hours in the new nursing home.  And as it turned out, I wouldn’t have left with the van, I needed to be there for sure. 

Lorraine said the ride was really rough, the wheelchairs are all the way in the back of the van and she felt every bump.  We pile pillows under her left arm to keep it in place and they had fallen out so her elbow was hitting the side arm and it hurt. 

Once we got here, there was the usual paperwork hassle, the gal said they didn’t send the right paperwork.  I told them it didn’t really matter, we weren’t leaving and Lorraine was tired and needed to lay down, NOW.  She tried to tell me they had to have the paperwork but I managed to convince her to change her priority to the patient vs the damn paperwork.  Not a good start at this place for sure. 

But once we got to the nurse’s station and they took over from the paper pushers, things started getting better in a hurry.  Her room was ready and waiting, they only had to find the proper lift to transfer her into bed, they use a completely different type here. The nurse said all the paperwork could wait until Lorraine was moved and comfortable.  Now we’re talking. 

The therapists showed up to check her out but decided to return later after she was more settled in.  The nurse and aide stayed with her for awhile to make sure she was doing ok. 

The therapists did come by later and did their initial assessment of Lorraine’s condition.  They were both pleased to see Lorraine had more muscle control than what the notes from Shuksan described.  The did range of motion and found where the movement caused pain, saw how much she could move her leg and arm and were really pleased to see how much muscle control she had over her left knee, very important in order to stand. 

In fact, they wanted to get her to stand before they were done.  Lorraine was able to sit on the side of the bed but still had trouble with falling over to her left.  I explained how they had worked it at the other place, they tried it and it worked again.  From a sitting position on the side of her bed, she was able to stand without a huge amount of help.  The therapist did have to brace her left leg so her knee didn’t fold but she was able to stand and hold her head up.  They had her sit back down then got her to stand again the second time. 

The physical therapist said she was pretty certain they would be able to get Lorraine standing and maybe even taking a few steps soon.  I must admit, I got a bit teary when she said that, luckily I was standing behind Lorraine at the time.  She is working so hard to get better, I haven’t (and don’t want anyone else to either) told her the therapist didn’t think she would ever walk again.  So it was really uplifting to hear a different opinion and this one was better. 

The therapist at Shuksan said one reason they thought it would be a good thing to move was to get a different set of eyes on Lorraine and she what they thought, really glad we did it.  It made the whole moving thing much better, for sure. 

I realize most people don’t know where these nursing homes are located so I will put the address and some directions here.  I think she will be here for quite awhile, months at least I’m guessing, so if you want to visit, here you go.

Christian Health Care Center

855 Aaron Drive

Lynden, WA 98264

Heading North on the Guide Meridian, go past Lynden and turn right on Badger Road (road to Sumas)

Go to the second roundabout and turn right on Bender road (at the mini-mart)

Less than a block later, turn left on Aaron (right after the mini-mart), it’s a small residential road

About 1 1/2 blocks, arrive at Christian Care Center on the left, just before the new senior care apartments.

Lorraine is in room 208B, bed next to the window.  She is, obviously, in a shared room so it may take some getting used to having someone else around but so far, the lady has not been in her room since we’ve been here over the last 5 hours or so. 

I’ll try to write a regular blog next time, really just wanted to let everyone know that Lorraine has moved and all is well, at least as well as can be at this time. 

Thanks  Chuck


Sunday, September 13, 2015

We’re in Bellingham, WA



Probably time for another update although there isn’t too much progress to report.  There are, however, a couple of road blocks in front of us that I’m working on with/for Lorraine, here’s hoping they work out well. 

Lorraine has improved her swallowing ability to where the speech therapists have upgraded her to a regular diet, no restrictions except to slow down and check her left cheek for pockets of food when she’s finished eating.  She remembers the feeding tube she had at the hospital in Seattle and certainty doesn’t want one of those again.  The speech therapists have actually signed off on her care, she is done with that therapy discipline. 

She works hard at her physical and occupational therapy but isn’t showing much improvement on that front.  Although she has stood up twice, it is only with lots of help and control from the therapists.  Most of her therapy has been trying to sit upright on the side of her bed or on the platform in the therapy room.  She still can’t sit straight, she will fall to her left quickly most of the time.  They are working on getting her to know and control what is straight while she’s sitting before they try going to the standing/walking stage.  Yesterday she was able to sit on the side of her bed, put her right elbow on a pillow and sat up straight for about 10 minutes, yea.  She was also able to lift her elbow without falling completely but she is really unstable and would fall over easily. 

The head therapist has made the decision that her last therapy will be next Friday as she isn’t showing enough signs of recovery.

Now an explanation about that, at least as I understand.  We have Medicare part A plus supplement part B as most retired folks have.  Medicare is good about paying for recovery after surgery or incidents like Lorraine’s stroke.  They will pay for up to 100 days of care as long as the recovery is going per their guidelines.  After Medicare benefits are finished, she will either have to go to private care or Medicaid. 

But to qualify for Medicaid, the family can only have $40,000 left in assets, that is in their savings, checking, IRAs, retirement accounts and such but doesn’t count their house and one car.  They even say you have to cash out any insurance policies that have a cash payout too.  That may effect whether we sell the house or not, if we sell it, they can take that money too.  Boy, the rules are complicated and I get different information from different folks so this is something I have to tread through carefully.  

The money is a big part of this for the nursing homes, I’ll use this nursing home as an example.  They charge $300/day for some one to stay here for long term care if they are paying for it privately.  After the family runs out of money, which doesn’t take too long in most cases, state Medicaid takes over and they get paid $158/day. 

But Medicare pays the nursing homes $600/day for the time the patient is here going through therapy and recovering per their guidelines.  So this place has made a decision to not allow anyone to go into long term care but have them leave after their Medicare benefits has been exhausted.  That means they get $600/day vs $158/day, at that rate, they can afford to have empty beds for a time.  The resident turnover will be much greater here and they will need to have more therapists but they are after the dollars per bed per day. 

So Wednesday we were told Lorraine will be finished with recovery therapy next Friday and just have therapy to maintain her status.  This is because she isn’t showing enough recovery even though she isn’t anywhere near the 100 day maximum allowed.  That means she will not be receiving Medicare benefits but will revert to private pay.  But if we can get her into a different nursing home before she has her last therapy here, she can continue with Medicare therapy and benefits at the new place.  I think these places are working together to get the most Medicare money as possible, it is a business after all but I hate the way they work it.  I would prefer the patient’s care comes first but those days are a thing of the past for sure.  

So, as I see it, not allowing any more long term care patients is just a money/business decision at this place.  Between that and the insurance companies’ rules, the doctors and therapist have to make decisions they don’t really agree with.  Everyone here says they would like for Lorraine to be able to stay but the decision was made “up the ladder” so I can’t talk with them. 

For the last three days, I’ve been checking out new nursing homes.  I’m finding most don’t have an empty bed right now but we are on the waiting list at two places.  I’ve found two places I really liked but they are only long term care, not nursing care and at this time, Lorraine needs round the clock nursing care.  I’ve also found three places that I wouldn’t move into for one or more reasons. 

Lorraine is still having some confusion yet and really doesn’t understand why we have to find a new home for her now.  I’m sort of pissed at this place and probably won’t stay here now if they changed their minds and gave us the OK to stay.  I am working hard to get her a bed at the new place before Friday next week and will update this blog to let folks know where she is when we move. 

The steps Lorraine has to go through is to continue with skilled nursing care until she is able to move from her bed to a wheelchair by herself.  Then she can go to long term care until she is able to go home with a home care nurse coming by once a day for a couple of hours or into a senior living place.  This will be a long process for sure but that’s just the way it is.  The therapist I talked with yesterday said Lorraine may never be able to move into a wheelchair by herself and may end up in skilled nursing home for the rest of her life but I don’t have any plans to give up. 

I sure haven’t given up on Lorraine’s recovery, that’s for sure.  Yesterday morning I was doing her range of motion exercises on her leg, arm and hand when she complained about pain when I moved her fingers.  That was something new, she hasn’t had any pain or feeling in her arm or hand.  I asked the therapists about it, hoping it was a good sign of recovery, being able to fell her hand.  They aren’t sure if that is the case or not but I’m saying it is. 

She is still moving/lifting her leg on command and I say that’s getting better too.  She is trying hard to get better and as long as she has that attitude, I won’t give up on her!  The experts say she isn’t meeting their guidelines but I’m with her much more than they are and I know her better too.  I’ve come to the conclusion she will not recover back to 100% of where she was but that’s what we’ll work towards. 

It’s hard for us to get used to this nursing home care, that’s for sure.  We both take showers every morning but most of the places I’ve checked only have showers for the residents twice a week.  At least that’s for those who are wheelchair restricted.  But this place, and the others that I’ve checked into, have a good kitchen and serve a good meal, not what I expected.  And this place also gives me a free guest meal too.  And all of the ones I’ve checked are clean and didn’t have the bad “hospital” smells. 

The nurses seem a bit overloaded but they take the time to know the residents and show they care.  The aides are busy too but they are also friendly and care.  Lorraine has a call button and when she pushes it someone shows up fairly quick even is they are busy somewhere else.  If they can’t work with her right then, they explain why and let her know they will be back when they can.  This works out pretty well but a few times she has had to wait longer than I liked. 

She has to have two people help her in order to get into/out of a wheelchair using a lift.  She also can’t get dressed by herself and requires assistance from an aide for that. She is still getting regular pain meds every four hours for her terrible headaches.  Items like these are why she needs to stay in a skilled nursing home vs going to a long term care place.  The LTC places don’t have as much help for the residents, they are more mobile and able to care for themselves than what Lorraine can do. 

I have been leaving every night, Lorraine is getting better with that.  One of the therapists explained to her that she can’t be calling me in the middle of the night unless she needs to, not just because she wants to.  But she is really glad to see me when I get here in the mornings.  I still try to be here for all her meals, she gets into her wheelchair before lunch and we go to the dining room for lunch and most of the time for dinner too.  But she still still has her breakfast  in her room. 

We had signed Lorraine up for an outing to the mall yesterday.  This would be her first outing except for a quick visit to see her doctor when we first got here four weeks ago.  She was really looking forward to shopping with her sister there.  But Thelma couldn’t go to the mall so she stopped by to see Lorraine here before she left for her outing.  Her daughter (our niece Kerri) stopped by too.  While they were having a nice visit, Lorraine still wanted to spend the afternoon with them so I asked if it would be possible to have the driver take Lorraine to the casino instead.  Lorraine’s therapist and nurse both said they thought it would be good and the driver said he would just stay until we were ready to return.  Both her sister and our niece agreed to meet us there too, winner. 

So that’s what happened, no mall but she did get to the casino.  Of course she was in her wheelchair but I was there to navigate around the place with her.  She was able to play the slots without any problem, anyone who knows her well would understand that, ha.  They all had a great time, I’m glad that’s the way it ended. 

But more important, she had a good time and when we were riding back, I asked about her pain level and she said she didn’t have any pain, yea.  It was a good outing for her, especially with the pain being gone. 

One thing this place has is a shuttle bus that they use to run the residents around, including wheelchair bound folks and some of the other places don’t have that benefit.  I understand it has an added cost but after yesterday, I’m a believer in getting out and about as therapy.  The city bus system does have specialized transportation available, only $1 one way I understand, but it can take much longer to get a bus and I don’t think you can reserve one. 

Lorraine is still getting lots of facebook comments, emails, phone calls and people stopping by to see her.  These help lift her spirits and when she is having a down moment, I remind her of all the family and friends thinking of and praying for her.  So thanks for all you do, I know how easy it is to forget someone if you aren’t around them often, I am as guilty as the next person on that front.   

I haven’t had any more work on the house, the guy doing the work was on vacation for a week.  Unfortunately, he pulled a hamstring while on vacation and had to take off this week too.  But it is listed for sale and a couple of folks have toured but no one has made an offer or anything yet.  As I said, I may have to rethink the idea of selling the place now but I’ll work on that this week, in my spare time.  And I’m keeping the option open that we may have to move back into our house, it’s a large house and with a little bit more work, it could easily be handicapped/wheelchair accessible on the bottom floor. 

Ok, guess that’s enough for now.  I tried to record how Lorraine’s recovery and prognosis is going so this may blog may not be as upbeat as the others but be aware, she is working hard and I’m here  by her side to help her all I can.  Plus with all the prayers and good thoughts from family and friends, we’ll accept whatever recovery she had get. 

Thanks   Chuck and Lorraine



Friday, September 4, 2015

We’re in Bellingham, WA



I guess it’s time for another update, at least I’ve had some people ask me for one.  I’ll try to keep this note shorter than the last one.

Lorraine’s condition is almost the same as last time, she still has no control/movement on her left arm and very little on her left leg.  She can sometimes move/lift her left leg on command and we continue to work on that. 

The speech therapists are pleased with her ability to swallow better.  She has a number of exercises she does to work the muscles in her mouth and tongue, say the vowels slowly, click her tongue, purse her cheeks and whistle.   We do these exercises a few times a day and I think her speech is getting better/stronger too. 

The therapists have upgraded her allowed food once again, this time she gets basically ground vs pureed.  She does get some whole foods, they said if it is fork mashable  that she could have it.  Plus she is now able to have bread although it does take much more chewing for her.  

She is learning how to better move food from the left side of her mouth to the right side.  She does still get some food hiding on the left side but has learned how to sweep that out with her finger.  And she has learned to take frequent sips of liquid and swishing it around her mouth, that helps to clear any food hiding in the left side too. 

Her occupational and physical therapist have been working with her every day too.  They are still getting her to sit upright without falling over to her left.  At first, she would lean over so far that she would fall unless held.  Then she was using her right arm to assist but her new normal upright was still leaning way to the left.  So they positioned a mirror in front of her to show her how she was sitting and that seemed to help. 

The last two times she worked with them, they said she is doing much better, using her stomach and back muscles more and not relying on her right arm so much.  She was able to sit upright for about 1/2 hour on Wednesday with less assistance but still not where she wants/needs to be.  The therapist told us she has to master this before they can move on to standing then to walking. 

She is still having a constant head ache on the right side of her head, where the stroke happened.  Her doctor has ordered enough pain medicine that she is able to bear the pain, sometimes she said it’s down to a three.  She has a standing order for the pain meds with the option of getting more anytime she needs it.  Of course, these meds cause other problems so it’s a balancing act to control the pain without causing the other issues. 

Lorraine is still in good spirits most of the time although she does have some bad moments too.  Yesterday she was having a bad time, feeling bad about being here and not out doing things we like.  She was really sad that she missed being with her sister for her 50th wedding anniversary. 

One of the toughest times for her was when our niece got married on Tuesday night.  I explained to her many time that we wouldn’t be going to the wedding but a few minutes later she was doing some sort of planning for us to attend.  She wanted to make sure I had her clothes ready and wanted to make sure mine fit.  She really cried when she asked to call her sister and I told her she was at the wedding and couldn’t talk on the phone while the wedding was going on. 

As I mentioned above, sometimes she gets confused.  I’ve been able to spend most nights in her room since her stroke but I got to where I had to go home and get some uninterrupted sleep.  So Tuesday I kept telling her I was going to leave her at night and would be back in the morning.  She seemed ok with that throughout the day but when it came time for me to leave, she tried getting up to get dressed so she could go also.  Once again I had to explain that she couldn’t walk therefore she had to stay here. 

I did stay around until she was asleep before I left and when I got back in the morning, she was fine.  I attempted to go home on Wednesday night but it was raining really hard and I found the streets downtown were flooded.  I guess after the big windstorm we had, all the leaves were plugging the sewer drains and the water was getting deep.  If it was that bad in town, I didn’t want to see what it might be on the roads back to the house so I turned around and went back to the nursing home and spent the night there once again. 

Last night I was able to go back home once again, I think Lorraine is getting better about me leaving her.  But when I do leave in the daytime, she thinks I’m gone way too long.  The other day she said if I am out gallivanting around, she was going to go to the casino, funny but sad. 

I haven’t been leaving too often during the daytime because I want to be here when she has therapy and I help her at mealtimes.  But we did just get the house listed for sale and I have some work I have to complete before we get prospective buyers through so I need to be leaving more. 

Lorraine does work hard on her therapy and is pretty tired when done.  She can sit in a wheelchair pretty well although she does tend to lean to the left then too.  She likes for me to push her around the place, it’s built in a big U shape with a patio/garden in the center.  It’s been too rainy and/or cold to spend much time out there but she can see the flowers and such through the windows. 

I talked with the activities director and her therapist when I heard they were planning another outing to the casino later this month.  The therapist said she could go if she could increase her stamina in the wheel chair and the activities gal said she could have one of the two spots in the van for wheel chairs. 

You should have seen the smile on her face with I told her I set it up for her to go to the casino.  She immediately started planning on what she wanted to wear and even wanted me to get her cloths out of the closet, even though there aren’t any there at the time.  She wanted to call her sister and ask her to meet her there too and it isn’t even happening for three weeks yet.  I know she will enjoy the outing and sure hope she is able to go, it would be a huge disappointment to her if she couldn’t go for some reason.

Another time she smiles is when she gets visitors.  She does like to have folks stop by for awhile although it does tire her out if there is more than one conversation going on in the room at one time.  So we really try to limit the number of folks in the room at one time. 

We were both surprised to have my brother from Missouri walk into the room the other day.  He had surgery in early August but he’s doing well enough to travel.  His daughter and son-in-law are at Fort Lewis in Tacoma and he drove out to visit with them.  They decided to make a day trip up to Bellingham to see Lorraine, very nice.  It was a complete surprise when he called and told me he was just a couple miles away from our house and wanted to know if I could “do lunch”.  Thanks for the visit Brad, Dude, Rachael and the two little ones. 

Lorraine also gets some emails and facebook notes and I read all the comments/notes to her.  She really appreciates everyone’s contact, it lifts her spirits.  When she is having a down moment I remind her of all her friends and family that have visited or sent comments and she starts to feel a bit better. 

On our house repairs saga, I did part ways with the contractor that was working on restoration after the clean up was complete.  I was unhappy with the painting job they did, the painting was ok but they didn’t even pull the nails left behind or spackle the holes.  When we got here they hadn’t even been to the house for three weeks and when I had the project manager meet me at the house, he told me they hadn’t even ordered the material needed to complete the work.  He said he didn’t have any work scheduled for the next few days.  So we agreed on their payment and they are out of the picture. 

But I did get a call from them yesterday saying they didn’t want to pay me the portion of the check from the insurance that we had agreed on.  I reminded him that we both signed the papers and I expected to get the check for the agreed upon amount.  Just what I need to worry about now, some contractor being an a - -. 

But on a good note, the guy I hired to do some other work at the house has agreed to take on and finish the fire restoration work.  We’ve made a couple pickups at Home Depot to get all the material needed and he is a good worker.  But he did have time off schedule for this week so when he gets back he’ll get going once again.  He is in great demand for others, especially our realtor who told me about him.  But I’m glad he’s getting it done and it’s done correctly too. 

Guess that ‘s enough rambling for now, I’ll close this and get it posted.  Lorraine wants to proofread this so I’ll pass the laptop over to her and see how that goes. 

Thanks   Chuck


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

We’re in Bellingham, Washington


Once again I’ve had some folks asking for an update on Lorraine’s condition so here goes.  I just checked and it’s hard to realize its been almost a week since the last blog update and 12 days since her stroke.

Last blog Lorraine was still in Settle at Harborview Medical Center, one of the 60 or so Certified Stroke Centers in the nation.  Lorraine was airlifted from Bellingham down there to have a medical procedure but when she got there it was deemed to be too much of a risk to attempt it so it wasn’t done.  

Lorraine did get excellent care while in that  hospital, the doctors and especially the nurses were very professional and treated her with respect as a person, not just another patient.  I would recommend Harborview to anyone if Lorraine’s treatment was normal, everyday treatment for everyone. 

Lorraine had been making good progress with her swallowing, the speech therapist had even upgraded her to a thinner drink.  This was a biggie as that meant her feeding tube could be removed soon.  She was eating so well that they decided to not even feed her via the the feeding tube on Thursday night but left in place just in case as it isn’t a pleasant experience putting it back in if needed.  The doctors were also wanting her blood pressure under control before she could be released too and had just started her normal blood pressure meds. 

I was trying to get a treatment plan from the doctors at the hospital and basically it was “When she is ready, we will transfer her to an appropriate facility”.  They weren’t sure if it would be to a skilled nursing place or a rehab center, it depended on how much she had recovered.  As I understand the level of care it goes from hospital, skilled nursing, rehab, long term care and assisted living.  In her case we are hoping to go from hospital – skilled nursing – rehab – home. 

I was told they have an excellent skilled nursing facility on the 5th floor at Harborview so that is where they really wanted her to go.  But I had been pushing for her to be transferred back to Bellingham so she would be able to see friends and family and I might be able to get away and work at our house some. 

Lorraine was having her headache pain mostly under control, she was receiving three pain pills every 3 hours on Wednesday.  In fact, I asked if we could reduce it to two pills if she wasn’t in pain as I wanted her more alert if possible.  They agreed to let the nurses, Lorraine and me make that decision, up to three pain pills as needed. 

I believe it was on Thursday that they changed her pain meds to three pills every 4 hours, as needed.  That seemed to be enough to keep her pain under control but she did start telling us that she had a pain on the right side of her abdomen.  They said they would keep an eye on this newly developed symptom. 

Friday they once again changed her pain meds,this time to two pills every 4 hours.  I thought this was just at the edge of not keeping her pain under control but she was more alert.  The doctors and I talked about this dosage and agreed to try it for a day or so and she how it worked although the pain in her side seemed to be getting a bit worse. 

But they did remove the feeding tube from her Friday morning YEA.  They were just coming by with the equipment to do this when Lorraine happened to snag the tube as she was moving about and pulled it out about 5”.  The nurse didn’t hesitate and pulled it out the rest of the way.  Boy was that a good improvement for both of us.  To this day Lorraine explains that it felt like they were using a ball peen hammer to insert the feeding tube into her nostril, it hurt her that bad.  

Our friends, Richard and Sandy, drove down from Bellingham to see Lorraine on Friday also.  His sister had been her for over 2 months last year when she had a brain aneurysm rupture.  She was in critical condition and was also airlifted from Bellingham for treatment so he had spent some time there and know his way around very well.  Lorraine was really happy to see them but was tired so they only stayed for a short visit.  Thanks Richard and Sandy.   

Our son, Rich, flew down from Alaska to see his mom on Friday.  He caught the red eye flight from Anchorage and had a screaming kid in the seat right behind his so he didn’t get any sleep.  He did get into Seattle early but couldn’t get to the hospital to see her right away, he had to have some rest first as he knew it would be tough.  But he did get there early in the afternoon. 

Lorraine’s room was directly across from the nurse’s station and when Rich got there, he just walked into her room.  Lorraine saw him and started crying, of course.  But within 10 seconds or so, the nurse came rushing into the room, I thought there might have been a check in procedure or something that I was unaware of.  But no, the nurse asked if everything was ok with Lorraine.  I told her she was fine, our son had walked in the room just moments before.  She said that explained the different action on her heart monitor, I guess the alarms started going off at the nurse’s station when Lorraine saw Rich, funny.  But everything was fine and seeing him definitely helped her.

The nurses were still putting Lorraine into a chair every afternoon for a couple hours or so.  The did this by lifting her onto a gurney type bed that could be folded into a chair.  She said she liked sitting up vs laying in bed all the time, I believe she actually had her lunch while sitting in the chair and Rich helped feed her. 

Susy was also on her way up, driving up from the Bay area.  She left early on Friday morning and had one overnight stop scheduled.  Every time we talked with her, she was making good time and everything was going good. 

I had been talking with the Social Worker at the hospital about Lorraine’s transfer and she warned me that most facilities in Bellingham might be hard to contact over the weekend due to the administration folks not working.  So it was somewhat of a surprise when I got a call from her on Saturday morning that she had found a skilled nursing facility in Bellingham and we could transfer to it that day.  I hadn’t completed my research on what was available or how they were rated but the one that she told me about wasn’t on my short list. 

In our last blog I had asked for information from anyone in the Bellingham area that might have personal experience about the nursing homes up there.  I had a number of folks reply to that request, some telling me which one was good or bad in their minds.  A special thanks to everyone who replied to that request, it’s nice to have friends who can and will help when asked!!

I got an email from  a good friend up there who was a very valuable source of information as she had worked with some of these facility with her job, before she retired.  She said the one they wanted to send Lorraine to wasn’t very high on her list and suggested that they would attempt to send her to the first one that would accept her, not necessarily the best one.  Based on that suggestion and some info I found online, I called the social worker gal and turned down that offer.  She was fine with that decision but once again told me it would hard to find another one on the weekend.  I said I understood and gave her my list and asked if she could attempt to get her into St. Joe’s Rehab Center.

I had earlier called St. Joe’s based on suggestions/recommendations from others and was highly impressed with my conversation with the gal I talked too.  She told me their goal is to get someone who needs rehab through an intense therapy treatment course and get them back HOME as soon as possible.  She said most folks are out and back HOME in 3 or 4 weeks, wow. 

She also said, based on my assessment of Lorraine’s condition, that they had an open bed and would accept her based on her medical record and information from the doctors at the hospital.  She did say that Lorraine would have to be able to do 3 hours of intense therapy per day, 6 days per week, not necessary three hours in a row but throughout the day.  I told her I didn’t think Lorraine was up to that but she said, don’t sell her short as they have had some show up that were in pretty bad shape and they went HOME within a few weeks.

So anyway, the social worker said she would send Lorraine’s medical records to three places in Bellingham.  I once again told her my ratings of these places and hoped to have something at St. Joe’s. 

As I was working on this, Susy got to the hospital once again Lorraine’s heart monitor took off.  But I had warned the nurse so they didn’t respond like when Rich showed up, forewarning is a good thing.  Susy quickly assessed what was happening and got “up to speed” with everything.  With both Rich and Susy there, I could see that Lorraine had settled down a lot. 

Rich has a friend in the area that wanted him to stay at his place as long as needed and Susy had made a reservation at a hotel so they both headed out that evening.  Once again, I stayed by Lorraine’s side, sleeping in a recliner chair at her bedside.  I sure appreciate the hospital allowing family to stay overnight but the other patient in Lorraine’s room sort of took advantage of that and had three folks stay overnight one night (and the guy snored like a chainsaw). 

That evening I got another call from the social worker and she told me that St. Joe’s had reviewed Lorraine’s record and decided she would be better served if she spent some time in a skilled nursing facility, until she could do the 3 hours of therapy.  They had contacted Shuksan Healthcare Center to have them accept Lorraine, work with her until she regained enough strength, keep them informed of her progress and transfer when she was ready.  Wow, great service and they would also be keeping up with her progress. 

So that’s what happened.  They said Lorraine would have to be transported via ambulance and would be leaving the hospital at 10 am on Sunday morning.  It would be about three hours from bed to bed so I worked with the nurses to get Lorraine’s meds set up on a schedule that would give her max pain meds between 9:30 and 10, hoping it made her trip better. 

Next morning everything went as planned, Lorraine had her breakfast, the nurses cleaned her up, gave her the pain meds then the ambulance guys called and said they had mechanical issues with their rig and would have to get a different one.  They estimated it would take about 1/2 hour and they would try to shorten the time as possible. 

It was about 11 when they actually got to Lorraine’s room to transport her to the ambulance.  They moved her over to a gurney and wheeled her out.  Susy was going to ride with Lorraine in the ambulance, Rick had to stay in Seattle for a short while, Mike and I would drive our cars and follow the ambulance.  Wow, another big step for Lorraine, discharged from the hospital one week after her stroke. 

Although the traffic was heavy, it wasn’t too bad and the ambulance and us arrived at here at Shuksan.  The entry door was closed and locked so I walked around to the normal entrance and got a nurse to walk down and open the door for us.  By the time she found the key and got the door opened, the ambulance guys had already wheeled Lorraine up to the same door I had walked in and got her into her room and in her bed. 

My first impression of this place was pretty good, it looked clean, I didn’t see anyone sitting in chairs in the hallway with no one watching them and Lorraine was put into a private room.  She had a couple nurses show up to check her out, they even called in a off duty therapist to check her too.

Everyone seemed very nice, explained lots of things and answered my many questions.  They said they are used to having folks who haven’t been around care facilities before and pretty much knew what I would ask, funny.  Lorraine was pretty tired although Susy said she did appear to sleep a lot on the drive. 

They asked Lorraine what she would like for dinner and even offered us to have a meal too, nice.  After dinner I had a discussion with the nurse and he told me that Harborview doctors had once again lowered Lorraine’s pain meds, down to one pill every 4 hours.  I asked for the on call doctor to review this with us but was informed that we would have to have Lorraine’s primary doctor here in the area write the change for her.  I called her doctor and, of course it being a Sunday evening, got their answering service.  The gal who answered the phone said I could do one of two things, leave a message for the doctor and they would get it on Monday morning or declare an emergency and she would transfer me to 911.  All I wanted was a prescription, not 911, really disappointed in this service for sure. 

Anyway, the nurse here worked some magic and got an extra pain pill for her which made her feel better.  She had a good meal even though it was once again back to the pureed food but at least it wasn’t formed into some dry patty.  Lorraine was able to eat probably about half of her meal that evening. 

I figured Lorraine would sleep deeply that night but she kept waking up about every 15 minutes or so with a question for me.  Mostly she was worried about her sister’s upcoming 50th wedding anniversary and wanted to make sure I knew how to make the salad she wanted, wanted me to get our clothes out of the closet so she could iron them and couldn’t remember if she had wrapped their presents or not.  She has always been a planner and was really worried that the party wouldn’t be a success if she wasn’t able to do her normal activities for this type party. 

Monday morning I continued to ask lots of questions about this place, wanting to know procedures, policies and whatnot.  I found every one willing to answer any questions I had as best they could.  I have not been exposed to a skilled nursing place before and wanted to know about doctor care (our family doctor is in charge and they have doctors come by on Wednesday and Friday), how many LPN/RN on site (no less than 4 at night and up to 7 during the daytime), how they handle prescriptions (they have a deal with a large pharmacy in town and they will make up and deliver meds any hour of the day/night) and other such questions. 

Once again, they ordered up a meal for Lorraine and offered a meal to us if we wanted.  They said they haven’t heard of another place that does this for family members but they wanted to make it as easy for us as they could. 

I called our family doctor as soon as they were open and explained the issue with Lorraine’s pain meds and they quickly sent new orders her to allow Lorraine up to three pills every 4 hours or reduced as needed.  Just what we wanted to hear.  The doctor had also ordered up a urine test to see if Lorraine may have a urinary track infection.  The preliminary results are that she does in fact have an infection and they’ve started her on an antibiotic series of pills for seven days to knock it out.   

Lorraine really likes this doctor, when we first changed to having him as her primary doctor, on the first visit he set down eye to eye with her and explained that he had spent 4 hours going over her medical file so he know her medical issues but didn’t know her.  He asked her to tell him what she wanted and everything she wanted him to know.  He spent about 45 minutes with her and really made her (and me) feel good about having him as her new doctor.  And they way he handled this situation is just about what I would expect from him, a good doctor.  He also wants Lorraine to see him in his office next Monday so that gives her a goal, being able to get into a wheelchair for at least 3 hours. 

This place has two dining rooms, one for folks who can feed themselves with no problem and one for those who need assistance.  Seeing as how Lorraine has someone with her basically around the clock, they have been bringing her meals to her room and we can assist her.  They also taught us how to make the thick water or juice that she can have, pretty simple once you know how. 

I made a few calls about our on going house repairs on Monday and had the contractor doing the fire repairs and our real estate agent meeting with me at our house on Tuesday morning.  The contractor was first and we sort of agreed on the amount of work completed and they will be paid for that, guess you can say he’s fired.  The remaining work will be completed by the guy I had already hired to do lots of damage repair and upgrades around the house. 

Plus I had to have a glass company come out to replace three broken skylight fixtures and two broken windows.  I still don’t understand how the skylight mechanisms got so badly broken that they can’t even be closed but whatever, they have to be completely replaced.  In fact, on one of them there is a 3/4 x 4” board that was broken width wise, I couldn’t do that if I wanted.  Sure glad the owner of the glass company is a personal friend of ours, I’m sure he will make sure the work is done right. 

While I was at the house, I also removed some more of the flooring that is going to be replaced along with a few other items I needed to do.  I also took a shower while I was there. 

I drove over to the Water and Sewer service folks and got everything changed back to our names and paid a couple months in advance.  They asked me if I had contacted the Tribes Housing folks to see if they had someone on their list that would qualify to buy our home.  Wow, a possible lead to selling the house.  I told them it would be donuts for the whole office staff if something worked out from their lead, ha. 

Rich had been with Lorraine while I was gone, from about 8:30 till 2.  As I was driving back to here, he called and said Lorraine wanted to talk with me.  When she heard my voice she started crying and wanted to know where I was and when I would be back.  Rich said that was the first time she had cried about it but she had wanted to talk with me for awhile before he actually called.  When I got back, she said she was afraid I had left her, really made me sad. 

When I got back, Lorraine had a couple visitors and for the next couple of hours had about 10 folks show up and visit for a short while.  She was really tired and didn’t participate in the discussions too much but did manage to thank everyone who came by. 

While I was out, the therapists had shown up and worked with Lorraine.  They had her sitting up on the side of the bed for awhile and it really tired her out.  Plus she had a good lunch except she couldn’t eat the hot dog even though it was cut up into small pieces reason.  Not sure if she just didn’t like it or what but Rich said she couldn’t/wouldn’t eat it. 

Anyway, once I got back and told here where I was and what I had done, she was fine once again.  I told her I had to run some errands once again on Wednesday morning and would be at our house for awhile too.  I wanted to make sure she knew when and where I was going to be and hoped she wouldn’t become upset again.  I know it’s going to be tough for her when Susy and Rich leave and I have to leave her side, especially overnight.  I plan on making small moves in that directions over the next few days to see how she handles it, don’t want her to get upset and have a major problem with me being gone when I have to be. 

I had asked for the speech therapist to come by and re-evaluate Lorraine with a new swallow test.  I thought she wasn’t having any issues with food/water going down the wrong pipe and wanted them to upgrade her food from pureed to finely chopped.  But after checking her out that evening, the therapist suggested leaving it as is for a few more days, better to error on the side of caution.  She did say that she understood she was seeing Lorraine at the end of the day when she was most tired but that would be when she would be most likely to have problems.  The speech therapist is also the one that works at St. Joe’s, our next medical center once we leave here.  She wants to check on Lorraine at least two or three times a week. 

Wednesday morning I met with the guy doing the repair work at our house at Home Depot.  We wanted to purchase all the material he needed to work on the house for the next two weeks.  We picked up new flooring material for three bedrooms, three baths and a hallway.  We also had to pick up enough wood trim for all these rooms too plus get a new door for the bedroom where the fire was.  And his wife is going to paint inside the garage for me so we had to get enough paint for that.  I was surprised that all this could fit inside his van but he said he does this all the time.  We then drove over to the house and unloaded all this material. 

By now I had been gone for about 4 hours and I was anxious to see how Lorraine was taking my being gone for this amount of time.  When I got back, I just explained what happened and she seemed fine, although once again, Rich was here with her the whole time I was gone. 

And while I was gone, the therapists had shown up again and this time they got her into a wheelchair.  Rich pushed her around and even took her outside to the patio garden area.  I asked him to take some pictures and Lorraine looked to be happy in all of them, even giving the peace sign.  Rich said she was flashing thumbs up to other residents as she passed them.  Too bad I missed that, she had just been returned to her bed just before I got back.  I think she had a couple of folks come by to visit today too. 

Ok, Lorraine’s condition report.  She knows what happened, where she is and what she has to do to get better.  I tell her everyday that she has to do three things, eat well, sleep well and do her therapy.  She can now repeat that phrase very well.  She has shown many small signs of recovery and that gives us all hope.  Of course, we can’t predict how much she will recover but if she doesn’t get back to 100%, it won’t be from lack of trying. 

She is mentally alert and sharp and still in good spirits considering what she’s going through.   She is usually in good spirits, especially if her pain is under control.  She hasn’t lost her sense of humor or her mothering instinct.  She still gets a bit confused at times, asks to go home to our rig often and a couple of times she has asked me why I’m being mean to her and won’t let her get up out of bed.  But her mental state is mostly good and I don’t think she is depressed. 

She is still unable to move her left arm or hand and very little movement on her left leg although we all have seen slight movement on command in her leg and toes every once in a while.  She does curl her left arm to her chest by herself but doesn’t move it on  command.  We can feel the muscles attempt to work in her leg on command when we are doing range of motion exercises with her.  The therapists are pleased to see that and say it is a good sign to see/feel that at this stage. 

Lorraine was suffering from what is called Left Side Neglect, at least she was suffering from it.  This is when someone doesn’t know anything exists on their left side, not just their body but no awareness of anything on their left side.  I mentioned in an earlier blog that some men only shave one side of their face.  Also, when asked to turn to their left, some people turn to their right all the way around.  But anyway, Lorraine is getting better in this regard too.  She now moves her eyes and head to her left, will point to her left arm and when asked to move her left leg, she looks at it and attempts to move.  Another good recovery sign for her. 

Her last two strokes were on the left side of her brain and affected her speech and vision but she didn’t have any lasting physical issues from either of them.  This time, however, the stroke was on the right side of her brain and appears to mostly have affected her physically. 

She is regaining her ability to swallow although like I said, she isn’t back to normal just yet.  Her speaking voice is very soft, I have to get real close in order to hear her.  She doesn’t appear to be grasping for what word she wants to say, she just has trouble saying it.  I think that is because the muscles in her mouth, tongue and lips don’t work right on her left side.  The left side of her face is still drooping and when she smiles its only on the right side.  She has talked on the phone but with the quiet voice and somewhat slurred speech, she is hard to understand. 

She really seems to enjoy getting up out of bed and can’t wait until she gets a full shower vs a sponge bath.  Susy is trying to talk to her about getting her hair cut to make it easier to take care of and she isn’t totally against that idea.  I know that will be a traumatic event for her if that happens and I would like both Rich and Susy to be here if/when that happens for support. 

She does have an appetite, even though the food is like baby food consistency, guess that doesn’t change the taste too much.  We are letting her sleep as much as she wants, that’s a good thing to do to help with the healing.  One of the nurses told me that her brain is now using as much nutrition as the rest of her body as it tries to heal itself and make new pathways for the neurons to flow.  He said he expects to see lots of recovery within the next 10 days, based on what he’s seen for the past three.  Sure hope he’s right!!

Now for my normal closing here.  I ask for everyone to keep her in your prayers and send all the good thoughts you can her way.  She is able to accept visitors here and because she is in a private room, there is no visiting hours to worry about.  The speech therapist told me today that we need to restrict visitors to no more than two at once in the room and try to keep the visits short and upbeat.  She was impressed with Lorraine’s attitude and says that will really be a good asset to her as we continue going down this recovery road.

So with God’s help, your prayers. good thoughts and visits, we will do our best to get her moving towards recovery as best we can.  I do tell her every facebook, email or phone call she gets wishing her well and she appreciates every one.  So please keep them coming!

Well, once again I didn’t finish the blog until late so I waited until this morning to post it, I was too tired to do a good proof read.  Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t find any mistakes here if you look, so just overlook any you may find. 

Thanks   Chuck


Friday, August 14, 2015

We’re in Seattle, Washington


Well, must be time for an update, I’ve gotten lots of calls and emails asking about Lorraine’s condition.  So I’ll try to get something down here for everyone to know what is happening and how she is doing. 

First, the doctors haven’t been able to determine what caused her stroke.  Like I said last time, this stroke was caused by a blood clot but she has been on blood thinning medicine since her stroke in March.  Plus her two aneurysms have been repaired/plugged and they were considered to be a probably cause of her prior two strokes. 

They have run lots of tests, CT and MRI scans to attempt to find the cause.  The latest suggestion is a PFO (I think that is the correct term) was found in her heart.  I was told most everyone is born with a hole between the two sides of their heart but in most people, this hole closes by their teen years.  But 20 – 25% of people still have this hole and it allows blood that normally would go to their lungs to re-enter the normal, oxygen rich blood stream.  Their suggestion is she might have blood clots that formed in her legs or somewhere and normally they would be routed to her lungs where the clot would be captured and absorbed.  But with the PFO, the blood clot could move through the chambers of the heart without being filtered thought her lungs.  This would allow the clot to travel to her brain where it would become lodged in one of her arteries.  They said it’s a very slim chance but don’t have any other ideas of something more probable.   I don’t doubt this but it seems like you have to find the haystack before you can begin looking for the needle. 

Ok, will put that aside for now as they are still looking at causes.  I’ll go with the PFO idea but they don’t think it is a big enough risk factor to do surgery to close the hole.  I’ve sort of pushed this issue to a back burner for now but I will pursue it with doctors somewhere down the line. 

Another issue that came up was her chest CT scan showed a mass in the middle of her chest.  Now what?  I asked what the plan was to follow up on this issue and they asked if she had other chest x-rays before.  Lorraine has been put under for one reason or another 16 times so the answer to that question was a big YES.  I gave them times and places and they were to check and see what they could find in previous exposures.  Turns out they found the same mass in a MRI in 2000 and another back in the ‘90s.  Best guess at this time is it may just be a small section that remains after she had her thyroid removed back when.  Whew, another one to put on the back burner until later. 

Now for her actual condition.  Last update I said she had her feeding tube put in place.  Without going into too much detail, this is a tube that is inserted into her nostril and threaded into her stomach.  Then they attach a liquid container of something to it and it is controlled into her stomach.  All this because she has been unable to swallow without some of it going down the wrong pipe and causing her to choke and/or cough.  If the food/liquid gets into her lungs she could develop pneumonia which could be a lift threating condition, especially for her now. 

The speech therapist had to preform a “swallowing test” he administers where he has her attempt to eat/swallow different consistencies of liquid.  Lorraine had trouble so they wanted the feeding tube and still wouldn’t allow her any food or drink by mouth except for a very small sip of water from a sponge on the end of a stick, about the size of a toothbrush.  Even with that small amount, sometimes she would still have trouble and it could cause her to cough. 

The day shift nurse inserted the feeding tube before he went home at 7 and they had to have a portable x-ray machine come by to make sure it was in her stomach and not in her lung.  Now this is something I don’t think I would like and for sure Lorraine didn’t either.  She was constantly trying to pull it out, saying it hurt and asking me to take it out.  Broke my heart to stop her and tell her no. 

That night I woke up about an hour after I laid down and saw where she had pulled the tube out about 8”.  I got the night shift nurse and informed her and she reinserted the tube, not pleasant.  She also put a glove on Lorraine’s hand, about like a boxing glove.  This was to keep her from being able to grab the tube.  But about 2:00 am the nurse came in to check on her and found she had removed the tube completely.  Somehow Lorraine had managed to get her hand out of the glove and grab the tube. 

They had to reinsert the tube because they were giving her her meds through it.  Lorraine fought it pretty hard, I even had to help hold her hand to allow them to work on her.  Finally they got it in place and got the glove back on then tied it to the side of the bed.  Lorraine didn’t fight that restriction TOO bad but sure didn’t like it.  She must have asked me 20 times to remove it so she could scratch her nose.  Again, broke my heart to tell her no and not untie her.  And once again, they had to have the portable x-ray check it out before they could give her meds through it. 

Next morning I did untie the restraints but kept her glove on in the morning.  By the afternoon I was taking her glove off while I was at her bedside which was most of the time.  She did attempt to pull the tube but soon gave that up as I was there to stop her every time.  But it was nice that she didn’t continue trying to pull it out, wasn’t as heart breaking for me either.  But we did put the glove and restraint on that night and even then she was able to pull the glove off during the night.  What an escape artist!

I was given the ok to continue with this small sips of water even after the feeding tube was in place.  And she has been getting better with this, in fact, I talked to the nurse and doctors yesterday and told them I thought she was ready to eat real food.  They wanted the speech therapist to do another swallow test and if she did well, they would consider allowing her to eat. 

I happened to catch the therapist at the nurses desk in the morning and asked for a time on his schedule, he is busy.  He agreed to see her in an hour, good deal.  But just as he was getting set up, he got called away and didn’t come by for 3 hours.  By now its been way over three days since Lorraine has had anything to eat or drink.  Her mouth was dry and she was hungry even thought she was getting some food into her stomach via the feeding tube.  But she did pass the swallow test and the therapist sent a note to the doctors to that effect. 

He also told me the doctors didn’t think she was going to pass the test and were considering putting a tube directly into her stomach, another operation for her that I would just as soon avoid if possible.  And besides, I would want to wait a longer period before I would allow them to do that.  But that will not be happening now as she is able to eat, yea.  .

The doctors did agree to allow her to eat some, they have what they call “thick water”, applesauce and yogurt that I could help her to eat.  But they didn’t even start feeding her through the tube until the afternoon, something about making sure she didn’t have any major problems with it.  But finally she was able to get food into her stomach and wasn’t as hungry.  Three and a half days without any food and very little water, damn that’s a tough way to lose weight. 

After she passed the test, the doctors did agree to let her have a dinner delivered.  It was some chicken thing ran through a blender, pureed and formed into some sort of dry patty.  Lorraine wasn’t as hungry but did eat about 1/4 of it, most of the applesauce and all of the yogurt.  I would have thought she would eat more but guess the stuff from the tube had filled her up. 

Wednesday night she had a fairly good night.  I did put her glove on but didn’t tie it down and she promised not to pull the tube out.  I woke up a few times and she had not attempted to pull it out even though once again she managed to free herself from the glove somehow.  She had a good night’s sleep, finally. 

Lorraine had been complaining of a headache, even in the emergency room here on Sunday.  The doctors don’t like to give a stroke patient anything that would mask them having more issues so they didn’t give her anything too strong.  By Wednesday it was so bad she was crying almost continuously.  Every time someone would ask her to put a number to her pain she would hold up five fingers.  By Wednesday, I figured out she was actually trying to show 10 fingers but couldn’t move her left arm/hand.  I finally saw one of the neurologist walking by and called her into Lorraine’s room and showed her how bad it was.  She agreed to give her a one time dose of something strong and if it helped, would put her on a maintenance dose. 

Boy, what a difference.  She has settled down even though she still says her pain level is at 5.  In fact, I’ve asked them to not give her the full dose during the day as she was sleeping too much, I thought.  But at night I wanted her to have enough to allow her to fall into a good, deep sleep.  So that’s where we are on her pain control.

She is still not moving her left arm or leg, in fact, she pretty much ignores anything on her left side.  She will not follow the doctor or nurse’s finger when they move it from right to left, she stops somewhere straight ahead.  Her eyes don’t appear to be focused, her left eye doesn’t look like it used to.  But she had passed the short eye test she was given and the doctors don’t seem to be too concerned yet. 

She has asked me numerous times when I was taking her home to our rig.  I’ve told her that she can’t go home yet and after this hospital stay she will have to go to a recovery place.  But she continues to ask anyway.  And a few times she has tried to get out of bed and go to the bathroom, of course all she can do is swing her leg out, the rest just doesn’t follow.  I can’t tell if she is disorientated or just what is going on.  In most everything else, she seems to know what is going on, what happened and where we are. 

She got her breakfast this morning but didn’t care for it, it was again something pureed and pressed into a patty.  She also had the feeding tube going on all night so she wasn’t too hungry.  The doctors said they would just feed her at night with the tube and let her eat all she could during the day.  But this afternoon, they decided she was eating good enough that they won’t even be feeding her through the tube at all, may even remove it tomorrow depending on how much she can eat, yea.  They are however, still giving her the meds through the tube as they don’t know if she can swallow pills yet. 

This morning Lorraine was very emotional and cried about most everything.  She also was scared when I when down to the car to get a clean shirt, when I came back she was crying and asking for me.  She said she thought I had left her.  This is the first time she’s been doing that although she has cried over the severe headache she had a couple of days ago. 

I mentioned it to her nurse today and she said it might be from a new medication the doctors have put her on, started yesterday.  No one mentioned this to me and I found out it is an anti-depressant but it can cause mood swings for the first couple of weeks.  I intend to find out more about this in the morning when the team makes their rounds. 

We’ve had lots of different folks come through to check on her during the night time and during the day too.  Today in walks this young girl who introduced herself as a psychologist or something.  She said the doctors wanted her to evaluate Lorraine and asked if she could as her some questions. 

Lorraine can’t speak too well so the gal asked what I term as leading questions.  She asked if she was sad, felt guilty, depressed and such type questions.  But when she asked her if she felt suicidal I stopped her and told her that was enough.  I didn’t want anyone coming in her giving her negative thoughts.  The gal got a bit snippy and said the doctors had placed an order for her to do this evaluation.  I told her to change this line of questioning or I would have her leave and she could call the doctors and explain why.  She said she would go to a different set of questions and only asked three more.  Guess what, she didn’t even shake my hand when she left, made me feel bad –not.

Later I saw one of the neurologist walking down the hallway and stopped her to discuss this and ask if it had anything to do with the anti-depressant medication.  I told her I didn’t want anything put in Lorraine's record about her being depressed or such.  I told her she had gone through lots of medical issues and always fought her way through recovery and I fully expect to see the same this time.  She told me that “modern day medicine” requires these questions to be asked and I told her I was still old school and didn’t want it in her records.  I fully expect to loose this battle but that doesn’t mean I’ll go quietly. 

Lorraine had a physical therapist come by on Tuesday.  She managed to get Lorraine up and sitting on the side of her bed for a short while.  She also noticed that the joints on her left side were already showing signs of getting tight, she was having “drop foot” also.  She ordered up a special boot that Lorraine is supposed to wear for two hours on/two hours off.  It is to designed and fitted to hold her foot in an upright position, trying to teach her brain the correct position once again. 

The nurses have also had her sitting up in a chair for two hours yesterday and today.  They moves her onto a stretcher that folds into a chair so it’s pretty easy to get her upright.  She was in the chair when lunch came today and it was nice for her to eat sitting up vs laying down.  

The nurses here have been, for the most part, really nice, friendly and well trained.  I have only had a couple of times when I’ve had to discuss things with them and they are quite open to my input.  They check in on her regularly and do their job willing.  All in all, I am impressed with the place. 

I am started to research some skilled nursing homes in/near Bellingham for what will apparently be Lorraine’s next transfer.  If anyone has any input, good or bad, on places up there, please let me know.  I’ve talked with the neurologist that saw Lorraine in the Bellingham emergency room and with her family doctor in Ferndale for advice too.  But nothing would be as good as what someone who has been, or had family members, to one or more of these places. 

Our son, Rich, is flying down from Alaska tonight, will be here early in the morning.  Our daughter, Susy, is driving up from California starting early tomorrow morning.  Lorraine is really looking forward to seeing them but I know she will cry when she sees them. 

I had intended for this to be a short note but here it is bedtime and I haven’t got it posted yet.  I’ll get it out in the morning after I prove-read it.  Without Lorraine able to do her proof-reading, no telling what I’ll miss but this is it. 

Sorry about the length but I wanted to make sure I got most of this down on paper so I can review it with her at a later time. 

Thanks   Chuck



Monday, August 10, 2015

We’re in Seattle, Washington


In our last blog I talked about us driving back to Washington so we could work on our house.  My buddy, Tim, got the necessary parts and made up a 50 amp hookup for us.  When we are plugged in, we are also able to get water but unfortunately, no sewer hookup on that side of the house.  But we wanted to be at the house instead of staying at 1000 Trails in Birch Bay, about a 45 minute drive one way. 

We moved the coach over on Saturday, finally got it leveled and set up.  Our friend, Richard, happened to be driving by and stopped to visit.  He was driving his pickup truck and also agreed to make a dump run, I have been removing stuff from the house.  We had a very good visit then went to Lorraine’s sister’s house for dinner with her and her husband. 

Once again we had a good visit with John, Thelma and their son Carl.  We headed out about the time it was getting dusk and sure enough, we saw a number of deer either alongside or crossing the road.  Maybe they are used to cars because we didn’t have any close encounters, that’s a good thing. 

Sunday morning I woke up earlier than usual and after my shower and taking Misty out for her walk, I decided to go into the house and start working on my to-do project list.  I managed to get a couple of items marked off the list and was heading to the shop to get a large garbage can to put some flooring material in when I saw Lorraine coming out of the coach.  She had recently got up and said she had a good nights sleep.  I talked with her for a minute or so then walked on to the shop and got the garbage can. 

When I came around the corner about two minutes later, I saw Lorraine standing in the driveway, moving her right foot but not going anywhere.  As I got closer I could see she was having some sort of issue.  I ran over to her to see what was happening and noticed she was showing signs of a stroke, her left side wasn’t cooperating, it seemed.   

Background here, Lorraine has had two previous strokes and during her recovery process from the second one, the doctors found and repaired two brain aneurysm.  When we saw the surgeon the last time, he said he didn’t think she would ever have another stroke caused by the two aneurysm as they were now plugged.  So based on that information, I was extremely surprised to see her in full stroke symptoms.  But the aneurysms were on the left side of her brain which controls the right side of her body and these symptoms were on the left side, indicating to me that the problem was on the right side of her brain. 

I got to where she was standing and grabbed her just as she was falling, her left side was failing her.  I was able to get her to the car, about 20’ away and into the passenger seat.  I closed up and locked the house and motorhome then headed out to the hospital in Bellingham. 

Bellingham has a very good hospital, especially well known for their heart department.  But it isn’t one of the 60 plus stroke certified care facilities in the nation.  We got to the hospital and they almost met us at the door to get her into the emergency room.  I first noticed the stroke symptoms about 9:03 and we were at the hospital about 9:45. 

They got her set up for a CT scan and called in the on-call neurologist.  By the time I was allowed back in her room, she was hooked up to IVs and monitors and ready for the CT scan. 

More background here.  Strokes can be caused by either uncontrolled bleeding into the brain or by blood clots in the arteries to the brain.  Both of Lorraine’s previous strokes are believed to have been caused from blood clots and she is on blood thinning medicine to help prevent blood from clotting as easily. 

The CT scan showed that Lorraine had indeed had another stroke, this time on the right side of her brain, caused by a blood clot.  There is a medicine they can give stroke patients who have had a blood clot caused stroke if they can administer it within 3 hours of onset of symptoms.  We were well within that window but I’m not a fan of this medicine, called TPA.  It is a powerful blood thinner and although it can help, when it has side effects they can be devastating.   We know of at least three people who were given the TPA and it made the stroke MUCH worse.  I have not allowed them to give Lorraine this medicine for her prior strokes and both times the doctors said it was a good decision, looking back at it anyway.  I did, however, ask her neurologist in San Jose about it and he said he is a big believer in it and would recommend its use if the symptoms were severe.  I never expected I would be considering this medicine but just wanted his input just in case.    

Lorraine’s symptoms were pretty bad, she couldn’t move her left arm or leg, her face was drooping on the left side, when she stuck her tongue out, it drooped to the left and she could only smile on the right side of her face.  She was pretty unresponsive to orders from the doctors and when she tried to talk it was very slow, quiet and slurred.  I talked to the doctors about the TPA, of course they wanted to administer it but I told them I had to be convinced first.  We talked about her recent aneurysm repairs and the doctor decided to call the specialist in Seattle to get their opinion. 

The neurologist in Seattle recommended against TPA therapy because of the recent aneurysm repairs just about the time I agreed to let them give it to Lorraine so that option didn’t happen.  They also reviewed her CT results with the Bellingham neurologist.  There is one more option they have to remove the blood clot and that is to go inside the vein in her leg with a camera and coil-spring looking deally thingy (a proper medical term for a layman).  They get to the blood clot, insert the spring thingy into the clot and mechanically remove the clot, allowing blood to flow normally through the arteries. 

The problem with this procedure is it had to be done within 6 hours of the symptom onset.  Also the clot has to be accessible from the inside and in a big enough artery for them to get their “tools” through.  The hospital in Bellingham doesn’t have a doctor trained in interventional vascular surgery so the local doctor called and talked to the one in Seattle.  They agreed that there wasn’t a good chance to gain access to the clot for removal so that option was taken off the table too.  I asked the doctor in Bellingham if the doctor in Seattle had seen the actual images or just taken his word about the blood clot and he said it had been just verbally so far but he would send the images to Seattle for their eyes on review. 

About 20 minutes late the doctor came back to Lorraine’s emergency room and said after reviewing the images, the doctor in Seattle said he thought he could get to and remove the clot.  By now it was close to 4 hours so things started moving rapidly, they needed to get her out of the emergency room, into an ambulance and over to the helicopter.  The trip down was about 45 minutes, giving them plenty of time to prep her for the procedure.  Unfortunately I couldn’t ride down in the helicopter plus I needed to go back to our coach to get some clothes for our stay in Seattle. 

I hung around just long enough to see the copter lift off then headed to our place.  I called my good friend Tim to see if he could/would go by and get Misty and keep her until we got back to town.  Our friend Richard also called and said he would meet me at the house where he hoped to talk me into letting him drive me down but that would have left me without a car.  He even said he could call his wife, Sandy, to see if she would be able to drive down and pick him up after he drove my car down.  I refused to allow him to go to that much trouble but he was still trying to talk me into that when I got into the car, ha.  Thanks to both of you two for jumping in to help, much appreciated for sure. 

I started driving and it wasn’t long before I got a call from the hospital in Seattle that Lorraine had safely arrived and they were sending her out for a new CT scan.  The doctor had a few questions about her care so far and needed to get more info and would call me back soon.  About 30 minutes later he called and said the new CT scan showed more brain damage than the one from Bellingham and they would not be doing the procedure to pull out the clot, shoot. 

They said they would keep her in the emergency room until I got there then we would talk about further care.  The doctor said she would be kept there for at least a couple more days.  I asked about sending her back to Bellingham, in fact, I asked about her riding with me.  I must say, he did a fairly good job of hiding his laughter when he said “NO”. 

I got here to Harborview just after 4 pm, the traffic was horrible.  I found a place to park and headed for the entry.  The security guy wouldn’t let me enter there, said I had to walk all the way around the hospital and enter through the emergency room door.  Well, OK then. 

I got to emergency room entry and had to go through a metal detector screening, which I failed.  The buzzer was going off as I walked through the gate and I was prepared to go around and do it again but the security guard asked if I had any knives or guns and when I said no, he let me go through.  Surprised me, guess I don’t fit the profile of a terrorist. 

I checked in at the desk and they escorted me back to Lorraine’s bed.  She was happy to see me, the nurse said she had been asked for me the whole time.  I did a quick check of what I could see and it appeared that Lorraine’s condition had worsen since I last saw her, three hours ago. 

I couldn’t get a doctor to come over and talk with me but I told the nurse about my observations and she said she would let the doctors know.  I sat with Lorraine for about 4 hours before they could get her a room in the acute care area of the hospital.

Lorraine was having a tough time communicating with them but I could understand her better so I acted as her representative.  She had pain in her right shoulder/neck and a bad headache on the right side of her head where the stroke had happened.  I told the nurse about this and asked what pain medications she had been given.  She said no one had given her any pain meds.  That’s when I asked (demanded) to see a doctor.

It didn’t take too long before a doctor came by, listened to me and left to order some pain meds for Lorraine.  That has been my only complaint about this hospital so far but I know they couldn’t understand Lorraine when she tried to tell them. 

The emergency room was a busy/noisy place and I was glad when they finally moved her to her regular, shared room.  We got her settled and I had a talk with the night nurses, three very nice nurses who took excellent care of Lorraine all night long.  They even found me a recliner chair that folds down into a semi-bed, not very comfortable but at least I was at Lorraine’s side all night.  I must say that I had almost forgotten that you don’t get much uninterrupted sleep in a hospital, they were in/out at least once an hour. 

So far, I could tell this stroke episode was very different from her two previous ones.  Previous symptoms were she couldn’t find her parts of her body, they would say touch your forehead and she would touch her nose or elbow.  She have speech problems but it seemed to be hard to come up with the correct words she wanted but her physical issues cleared up within a day or two. 

This time her speech difficulty seems to be more a function that she just couldn’t form the words with her mouth/tongue/lips, not that she doesn’t know the word she wants.  This time the physical problems are bigger and more severe although she has been moving her left arm and leg just a bit this afternoon.

The speech therapist came by this afternoon and ran a couple of tests.  They have not allowed Lorraine to have anything to drink or eat because they are worried about her ability to swallow.  Lots of times stroke patients have problems swallowing and the liquid/food gets into their lungs.  This can cause pneumonia and become a lift threating problem.  Lorraine does have difficulty swallowing so they still won’t let her eat or drink anything.  They said a doctor would come by later and talk to us about the next step, I assume a feeding tube.  

The occupational therapist came by too.  She worked with Lorraine for awhile and found that some of her joints on the left side are already becoming hard to move/stiff.  Also, her left foot is drooping.  My job is to help Lorraine exercise these her arm and leg periodically throughout the day.  She also gave Lorraine a boot to keep her foot in a more upright/natural position.  She is to wear the boot for two hours, off for two hours throughout the day.  And this is only after two days, wow.  She also was able to get Lorraine to sit up on the side of her bed, the first time she hasn’t been laying flat for two days.  Lorraine said it felt good to sit up. 

They are, naturally, running lots of test on Lorraine, CT scans, x-rays, an upcoming MRI, blood test, neurological test and such.  So far, they can’t tell me why Lorraine had a blood clot caused stroke when she on Plavix/Aspirin therapy since her last stroke in March.  These two are supposed to thin her blood so she doesn’t form clots as easily but yet here we are.  Tough trying to make sense of this one for sure. 

Lorraine seems to be taking this one in stride pretty well, she knows what’s happened, where she is and what her symptoms are.  She is sleeping quite a bit but that’s a good thing, her body needs to repair itself and sleep is a good help in that.    

The neurologist in Bellingham told me that Lorraine’s symptoms were not uncommon, in fact, he said sometimes patients don’t recognize their effected side, they call it “called neglected side syndrome.  He suggested that Lorraine may be in that category.  He told me of a guy who would only shave the left side of his face, he didn’t recognize the right side as belonging to him.  He said sometimes they won’t even turn to the effected side, for example, when asked to turn to their left, they would turn to their right 270 degrees vs turning to the left only 90.  Sure hope that isn’t something Lorraine has trouble with as I almost always walk on her left side.  We have seen that Lorraine doesn’t want to look to her left as readily as to the right.  

Not sure of how long she will be here but the doctors don’t want to transfer care to Bellingham until she can swallow on her own and her blood pressure and other signs are normal.  Then she will probably be in a rehab center for some time period, who knows how long.  I’ve told them I want her back in Bellingham for that, whenever it happens and they said they know of good centers there too. 

I’m thinking we are in for a long haul on this recovery and once we get our house sold, we will make the decision to stay in the Bellingham area or head back to the good doctors she had in the Bay area.  But that’s down the road, right now its almost one hour/thing at a time. 

Lorraine is out for an x-ray right now so I will check this over and try to get it posted. 

Well that didn’t happen, she got back before I finished.  We’ve had the nurses do a change over, night shift is back.  Two of the neurologist stopped by and we talked about probable causes for her stroke and they are still working on that.  But I did get them to increase her pain meds so hopefully that will help. 

The day shift nurse just left, he gave Lorraine a feeding tube so she can get some nutrition, she hasn’t had anything for two whole days.  The tube will stay in place until she is able to swallow and they are hoping that will only be two days but no promises. 

Once again I find myself asking for your good thoughts and especially prayers for Lorraine.  She certainly has gone through a lot in the past few months and it appears this episode could last for awhile too.  Here’s hoping she gets back to 100% and as soon as possible!

Thanks  Chuck