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


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