Tuesday, June 7, 2016

We’re in Sunnyvale, CA

Once again I’ve not updated our blog in quite awhile.  Can’t say I have lots of new stuff to report but will write something.

Short story is, Lorraine is basically the same and her therapists are still working with her on the same stuff although she is showing several signs of improvement.  Her mental condition is better although she is still having some  confusion at times and she doesn’t talk with folks too much.  She can talk just fine but for some reason she just doesn’t converse like she used to.  She has trouble keeping her concentration, especially if she is around two or more conversations going on at the same time. 

Her physical condition is about the same, she still can’t stand on her own but her sitting posture is much improved.  The place she is staying doesn’t use a slide board to transfer her, they are still using a sling and machine (Hoyer), not much fun. 

After Lorraine’s stroke last August she had lost all control of her left side even to the point where if I was sitting on her left side, she didn’t know I was there.  She has regained lots of that back, she now knows what’s happening on both sides.  She also lost her ability to swallow, even had a feeding tube for a few days but she has been on an unrestricted diet since a couple of weeks after her stroke. 

Lorraine did get therapy when she was in Washington, a month’s worth when she was at Shuksan then another 6 weeks or so at the place in Lynden.  I have described her therapy treatments there in earlier blogs.  She finished all the therapy she could get from our insurance (Medicare) then she was only getting someone to help keep her joints active by doing range of motion on her legs and arms. 

We moved Lorraine down here to California just before Christmas and she is staying at an assisted living facility.  She has made lots of friends there and likes the place.  They do have a very good dining facility with good food and she can order off a menu for all meals.  She is glad to be down here close to our daughter and grand daughter, that is a big moral boost for her. 

They have a basic plan (price) with extra amounts depending on the level of care the resident needs/requires.  Lorraine needs two aides to assist her whenever they transfer or attend to her needs.  She also is unable to handle her medicine as needed so they take care of that task for her also, she takes lots over a 24 hour period.  They do not have or offer any therapy however. 

After Lorraine’s stroke last March she started going to an outpatient therapy place for speech therapy.  She also had a battery of doctors that she was seeing down here.  This is when they found she had two aneurysms that needed to be repaired, I discussed these in a prior blog, back in May/June of last year I think. 

One of the reasons we decided to come down to California was because of her doctors and to get her some therapy at the same place she got speech therapy last year.  She did get a couple weeks of in-room therapy but that didn’t work well, I didn’t like the therapists plus they didn’t have the equipment they needed.  But we finally got Lorraine into the therapy place as an outpatient. 

Lorraine had trouble sitting upright, she thought she was sitting straight when she was leaning to the left about 45 degrees.  She couldn’t hold that position and would fall over without support or someone holding her.  When she was “forced” to sit in an upright position, she thought she was falling over to her right.  Of course, if she can’t sit, she can’t stand so that is one of the major things all of the therapists worked with her to correct.  There isn’t a magic thing to do, just work with her to sit upright over and over, physical repetition is the best way to build new pathways in her brain I’m told. 

Now Lorraine can sit straight without falling for long periods of time without assistance.  The therapists have her do things while sitting to make it feel more normal.  She reaches for things, bats a balloon, picks up and passes things to different locations and leans to both sides and forward.  The forward leaning is necessary for the next step, using a slide board better.

The therapists have also been working with her to stand in a lift machine.  They put a strap around her, attach it to a machine and lift her into a standing position.  She can’t fall as her knees are held tightly against a pad and the strap keeps her from falling backwards.  The first two times they attempted to use this, Lorraine was VERY scared, crying and telling them to stop as she was falling.  Also her muscles were hurting, they haven’t been used in many months.  

We had a talk later about this later and Lorraine said she was going to stop being afraid and would work with this machine.  Things started getting better thereafter, she wasn’t just not afraid but was actually working better with the therapists.  She has used this machine a dozen times now, her longest standing time has been 25 minutes. 

They also had her attempt to pull herself into a standing position using hand rails or the parallel bars.  It takes two therapists using maximum assistance to pull this off but she has stood upright this way about 8 times too.  She has lost a lot of her strength since her stroke, she hasn’t used lots of these muscles since last August so she can’t stand up without maximum assistance but even that is getting better. 

There are three different disciplines of therapy; speech, physical and occupational.  Lorraine needs all three but we found out her insurance (Medicare) will allow a certain amount of occupational but count speech and physical in the same bucket.  In other words, she was able to get 28 sessions of OT but only 28 sessions of both/either speech and physical.  Therefore, we elected to only have OT and PT work with her to attempt to maximize her physical improvements. 

She has been progressing a bit better, having both PT and OT twice a week but still not getting to where she wants to get to.  The therapy place is associated with a hospital and they have an in-patient therapy group that give acute therapy.  This place only has 15 beds and most people that are there have come directly from the hospital for therapy.  We were working with Lorraine’s therapists to see what it would take to get Lorraine into this program. 

They told us they very seldom accept someone in their program from outside, only one or two a year come in from outside.  The average person only stays for two weeks but due to the amount/type of therapy they mostly go to an assisted living facility or their home when they leave.  This is similar to the program the hospital in Bellingham has so I know a little bit about how it works.  We attempted to get Lorraine into the program in Bellingham but she just wasn’t up to the physical work needed and they didn’t think they could help her that much at that time. 

Anyway, we met with the assistant director who reviewed Lorraine’s records and talked with her therapists; she said Lorraine would probably be a good candidate for their program but we would have to get accepted from the head doctor.  We made an appointment to discuss Lorraine’s possibility of getting accepted.  He didn’t want to accept her as they have a very good record of showing great improvement and wasn’t sure if she would show that much improvement.  In fact, the week after we talked with the head guy, they were notified they were recognized as one of the top 5 in the nation in their treatment for stroke victims. 

Once I heard that, I doubled my attempt to get Lorraine accepted and finally got the head doctor to say if Lorraine could show improvement in her transfer into/out of her wheelchair, he would accept her.  So guess what her therapists were working on 4 times a week, yep, transfer, transfer, transfer.  She was able to help while using a slide board that they only needed one therapist (or me after I was trained) to assist her with her transfer.  Another visit with the head guy and we had a deal, they would accept her and see how much they thought they could help her. 

We moved over there on Monday (she stays there and is actually admitted to the hospital as an in-patient) and have high hopes to see much improvement.  Lorraine still has a long range goal of walking the beach in Hawaii with our grand daughter.  Anyway, they will be giving her all three therapy disciplines 6 days a week.  Lorraine has been getting therapy 4 times a week plus the transfer from her place to the hospital (about 30 minutes each way) so we figure she should be able to handle the work needed pretty well. 

The therapists told her that they will work her hard, won’t stop just because “it hurts”.  She is expected to work hard and she said she is going to do that.  They actually had a meeting about her already and decided to keep her there and give her therapy for three weeks with a possible fourth week depending on her progress. 

Yesterday morning I got her place and was met by her nurse in the hallway.  Lorraine didn’t remember where she was, why she was there and wouldn’t take her medicine.  She was also mad at me for “being in cahoots” with them, ha.  Once we got her up and I pushed her around the hallways, she remembered being there.  She just wasn’t ready to leave her other place (which we are keeping and will go back there after she is discharged). 

She did get her three therapy sessions yesterday and today and they are working on her transfers using a bit of a different technique.  I told them that Lorraine does better when they explain and show her what they are wanting her to do for each therapy session and they are working with her very well. 

They don’t even have a sling and machine lift (Hoyer) so Lorraine has to use the slide board for all transfers.  They are doing lots of transfers (repetition is necessary) in each session and Lorraine is already getting better.  In fact, the PT  today was trying to get Lorraine to stand upright by pulling herself using a handrail.  She didn’t quite get there but the therapist told us if she would have stood up, they would have attempted to get her to take a step or two.  Wow, two days and they are already talking about taking steps. 

I don’t have unrealistic expectations about her recovery but I sure hope she exceeds what I think she can do.  But if she can walk the beach in Hawaii, I’ll gladly buy the tickets for our family to go over there with us!!! 

Short update on Susy and Katie.  Katie is now 11 and was initiated in Rainbow, an organization for young girls that is associated with the Masons.  She finished up her school year yesterday and will be moving to middle school next year.  She had her graduation yesterday, unfortunately we were unable to attend as Lorraine is a patient in the hospital and we didn’t know it takes a couple of days to get permission to go out. 

Susy had shoulder and neck surgery last year and has recovered pretty well.  She still has a numb spot on her neck from the surgery, after a year now I doubt if it ever comes back.  She had a gall bladder attack a month ago and had it removed.  She has just returned to work after that surgery and of course found her desk pilled high with work. 

The wheel chair accessible van we bought has sure come in handy.  Without it, I don’t know how we would have gotten Lorraine down here to California and for sure couldn’t have got her to all the therapy sessions.  Plus she likes to go out somewhere a couple times a week, mostly shopping somewhere. 

The weather down here has been better for Lorraine’s arthritis, we’ve already had two days that got over 100, very unusual for this area, especially this early in the spring.   Most of the time we have sunny days with the high temps getting into the 80s.  We have had some rain, normal amounts but not enough for them to say they 5 year draught is over.  The water reservoirs are still not full but there is an above normal amount of snow in the mountains which should help as it melts. 

I’ve been granted approval to stay at the Elks Lodge’s RV park in Santa Clara.  They have 9 RV sites with power and water to each and a common dump site.  They normally only allow someone to stay here for a maximum of two weeks then they have to move out for at least three days before they can return.  I sure appreciate them allowing me to stay here without having to move, it allows me to spend all my time with Lorraine every day. 

Once again, I will ask for your good thoughts and prayers for Lorraine’s recovery.  She really likes to hear from her friends via phone calls, emails, Facebook or snail mail and I read each and every one to her.  She can’t handle her computer to “do” Facebook by herself and that is one of the things her speech therapist will work on with her. 

I know everyone has ups and downs in their lives and family but right now all my thoughts and actions are focused towards Lorraine.  I don’t necessarily contact our friends and family as much as before but I do think about them, just don’t follow through with contact.  Please don’t think you are forgotten, just ignored, ha. 

I’ll finish this and get it sent out now, without pictures once again. 

I just read this to Lorraine and she wanted me to add a HI from her to everyone. 

Thanks   Lorraine and Chuck

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I know its been a long time since I’ve sent out an updated blog so guess I’ll start one and see if I can get up-to-date on our happenings and Lorraine’s recovery.  Short version is we have moved Lorraine to an assisted living facility here in California, she has not shown much recovery since the last blog. 
Last time I wrote a blog Lorraine was in Lynden, Washington at Christian Health Care Center (CHCC).  She was in a shared room but her room mate wasn’t in the room very often except to sleep.  Sometimes she would be in the room when I wheeled Lorraine into it and she would start yelling at us to get out of her room, even threating to call 911.  Of course, she had dementia pretty bad so one of the nurses would come to get her out of our way. 
CHCC is a skilled nursing facility, has all the different type care folks need, from short term like recovering from surgery to long term to end of life.  They have two different types of therapy there, one is to attempt to help folks regain as much recovery as possible.  This therapy can be pretty intense but due to insurance rules, is usually less than 100 days or until no signs of progress is shown.  After that, they have recovery therapy, basically just move the affected limbs to keep the joints and muscles from getting stiff.
Lorraine didn’t get the 100 days of therapy due to her lack of progress.  The therapist all told us they thought she MIGHT have more recovery with more therapy but they couldn’t do it due to the rules.  I was told I couldn’t even pay for it out of pocket, not allowed either.  But if she could move into an assisted living home or even back into a regular house with care there, our secondary insurance would cover more therapy.  So that was what I was working towards, getting her out of the nursing home and into someplace where she could start getting therapy once again.
I was working on lots of different possibilities, keeping her in Washington State either in an assisted living facility, home health care or into our house which was empty.  I was also looking into moving her out of state into an assisted living facility.  I was looking into moving her to Palm Springs or somewhere in the South San Francisco Bay area to be closer to our daughter, Susy, and grand daughter, Katie. 
All of these options had plus and minus so I spent lots of time and effort to check out each one.  Finally, after talking with Lorraine to make sure she was involved in making the decision, we decided to go to the Bay area.  There are services that help put folks in touch with assisted living places so I contacted one to help.  I was given a list of 4 places and picked out one that said they could give Lorraine all the care/services she needed.   After working with them for about a month, they all of the sudden decided they couldn’t give her the care she needed and told us they could not accept her.  Damn, a lot of time and effort down the tube.  Besides being really hard to move from a care facility in one state to a different state, it’s double hard to do it via phone and email. 
I went back to the service folks and told them what was going on.  By now, it was the first of December and I really wanted to have Lorraine moved in before Christmas.  I really figured that it wasn’t going to happen based on how long it took the first place to make their decision.  I had the service place do some work on their end and find me a place that would be able to give Lorraine the care she needed without question, before I spent any more time on a wild goose chase. 
They finally got back to me with a place in Sunnyvale, Ca. that said they could supply all the care Lorraine needed and they had an opening.  I asked Susy if she would drive by and check this place out for me while I continued with the paperwork from CHCC and Lorraine’s doctors. 
In the mean time, I was still having some issues with the care Lorraine was receiving at CHCC but every time I complained something would happen to Lorraine, either she would get hurt or they would delay checking on her when she pushed her call button.  I was getting fed up with this actions and talked with other folks who had people there and they also were having problems but had the same reactions whenever they complained so most folks didn’t complain. 
Lorraine did make some friends there with some of the residents, their family members, aides, nurses and therapists.  There were only a few that I was having issues with but they were some of the long term folks and firmly in place. 
I was also trying to find and purchase a wheel chair accessible van and finally got one from Woodinville, WA., just outside Seattle.  Once I got that, it was much nicer for Lorraine as I could take her out on outings, see her sister and go to doctors as needed.  She really liked getting out and it helped her to have something to look forward too also. 
The van I got is a 2013 Toyota Sienna that has been converted to carry a person in a wheel chair.  It is a mini-van that has three rows of seats, similar to the Saturn Outlook we used to have.  To convert it, they cut the floor out from in front of the driver’s/passenger's seat all the way back to just in front of the back row of seats.  They put in a new floor that is lowered by about 10”, don’t reinstall the second row of seats because they install anchor spots so the wheel chair can be placed in the driver’s position, front passenger’s position or where the second row of seats would have been.  In our case, Lorraine rides in the front passenger’s position where I wanted her to be. 
The car has a “false” or double floor with a built-in ramp sandwiched between them.  With a push of a button the side door opens, the right side of the car lowers, the ramp extends and I can pull Lorraine’s wheel chair into the van.  With some maneuvering to get it in place and anchored down, we put on her seatbelt and are ready to go.  One thing I have to be aware of is it takes about 8’ of space on the right side of the car to get the ramp out and get Lorraine’s wheelchair out too.  This means the normal handicapped parking sites usually aren’t big enough so sometimes I have to park out in the back or block the isle when we are loading/unloading.  But it’s working out and we don’t have to rely on other folks or the handicapped bus. 
We were able to use this van about 2 to 4 times a week, like I said, Lorraine really liked getting out.  We heard about the senior center in Lynden, they have lunch 5 days a week and would be having a big Thanksgiving dinner for lunch the Friday before Thanksgiving.  We signed up and got there early to make sure we could find a place to park and get a spot at a table for her wheelchair.  We had a good meal and signed up for Christmas dinner in case we were to still be in town, hoping we wouldn’t be.
Lorraine’s sister was very busy being a care giver to her husband who was having some severe medical issues so she couldn’t come by to see Lorraine as much as she would have liked.  We did go by their house to see them a couple of times but their house doesn’t have a ramp so John would come outside and sit on their deck while Lorraine would be down on the patio.  Sometimes, her sister would just come and sit in our car with Lorraine and have a visit.  A couple of times I was able to talk her into meeting us somewhere for lunch, especially if she had to be in town anyway.  They both really enjoyed this visits and I’m really glad they were able to get together as often as they did. 
While Lorraine was at CHCC I was staying in our motor home at our house, about 45 minutes away.  I usually got to her place in time for breakfast and left after she was in bed.  Whenever I had errands to run I would let them know and ask them to spend more time with Lorraine as she was used to me being there. 
I don’t know for sure if that happened or not but the one day I was unable to be there at all, I got a call from the nurse letting me know that Lorraine had been sitting in her wheel chair in her room, alone, when she attempted to stand up so she could find me.  Of course, she can’t stand or walk and immediately fell.  Luckily the nurse happened to be right outside her room and heard her fall and call out for help.  They got her into bed then called me to let me know what happened.  I was driving back from Seattle (about 70 miles away at the time) so I told them to give her some extra pain meds and a strong sleeping pill. 
The next day Lorraine was really hurting, she pretty much did a face plant when she fell.  Her chest was really hurting as well as her left hand (which didn’t have much feeling in it).  I was going to take her to the hospital for x-rays but they have a mobile x-ray tech that can come by and do x-rays there.  I had them schedule him in that day and luckily she didn’t have any broken bones, just some bad bruises and lots of pain. 
I don’t remember for sure but I think it was on December 16th when I got the official word that this place in the Bay area would take Lorraine.  I talked with about 4 different folks there, explained the care Lorraine was getting, had her doctor send some paperwork stating the same and also had CHCC send the same info to them too.  I wanted a firm guarantee that she would have a place there when we got there, otherwise we wouldn’t head down. 
Finally we got everyone to agree everything would work out and we made plans to head out.  I had three days of running to get things in order at our house before we left.  We also were there for the Christmas lunch at Lynden senior center too, Lorraine’s sister was able to meet us there.  
We knew it would be a rough time for Lorraine to ride in the car all the way to California, I figured maybe two overnight stops.  I would have to transfer Lorraine from her wheel chair to her bed and knew it would be really hard, especially as she would be really tired and probably couldn’t help much. 
So I asked Susy if she would be able to come up and ride down with us to help me with Lorraine’s care.  Susy had a big project at work that was due in a week and couldn’t get up there on Friday.  But we worked out a deal where she would fly into Portland, Oregon about the time we would be driving through there.  I was to pick her up at the airport and she would ride with us. 
One the way to CHCC on Saturday morning, I got a call from Susy, she had got notice from the airline that they had cancelled her flight and she wouldn’t be able to get into Portland until 11pm, not something that would work for our schedule.  She was able to get them to put her on an earlier flight, one that would get her in a couple hours before we got there.  Whew, that was pretty close to being a show stopper for sure but she fixed it. 
Anyway, Lorraine and I started out right after breakfast and headed South.  Susy called to let me know she made it to Portland and would meet us at a mall vs the airport.  Well, all righty then, that would work out.  As we got closer, Susy called to let me know the traffic was getting pretty bad at the mall and suggested she meet us at the exit ramp vs the mall.  With a couple phone calls, we managed to get the timing down to where I was going to get there at the same time she would walk over.  But of course, I hit some bad traffic and that threw our timing off a bit.  Susy suggested we meet at a Christmas tree lot instead, she would wait there.  So that’s what happened and it worked out ok. 
We got back on the road after a quick stop for lunch and headed out.  Susy kept checking the weather forecast and it looked like the mountain passes we would be traveling would be ok on Sunday but would have snow on Monday.  We decided to continue on to Medford, Oregon, a bit more than halfway before stopping for the night.  Even though that was a long, hard day for Lorraine, she didn’t complain. 
We got checked into the motel and like I figured, had a difficult time getting Lorraine out of her wheel chair into bed.  She is unable to stand and turn, even with help so I had a slide board with us to do the transfer.  Basically this is a board that bridges the gap between her wheel chair and the bed and we use it to slide her over.  Lorraine was tired and scared and really fought us but finally we got her over and in bed. 
We got Lorraine changed and ready for bed and I figured she would fall asleep quickly but not to be, I think she was too tired to sleep.  Finally I gave her a sleeping pill and even after that it took awhile.  But once she fell asleep, she slept pretty good, I did have to wake her up and give her pills every four hours. 
Next morning Susy and I got Lorraine up and ready for travel in her wheel chair.  Susy checked to forecast for the passes and found it had changed some, snow forecast today.  We decided to head out quickly rather than stop for a good breakfast. 
As we started up the first pass, Siskiyou pass in Oregon, there was the sign I was dreading, chains required.  Susy had suggested we stop to pick up a set of chains before we left Medford so we pulled over at the chain-up area.  I expected to find some kids there who we could pay to put on our chains but no one was there.  There were lots of folks there who had no idea of what they were doing but with Susy’s help, we managed to get our chains on and back on the road in fairly short order. 
A few miles up the pass the rain started changing to snow.  We had lots of folks pass us, mostly they were 4 wheel drive type and pickups.  We did see three vehicles overturned alongside the road, none of which had chains on.  I think we hit about 3” of snow at the worse part but it wasn’t too bad.  As we came down the pass, we started getting more rain than snow and before we got to the inspection station just inside the California border the road was once again bare and wet.  I stopped at the inspection station to remove the chains even though we knew there were more mountain passes on our way but they were lower than the Siskiyou pass. 
Sure enough, on the next pass we started getting snow once again but never did have any chains required area.  I think the worse snowy area had about 4” of snow.  Once again, I was being passed by lots of cars and trucks, even some 18 wheelers going way too fast, I thought.  But we didn’t have to chain up and after about 30 miles of driving in the snow, we got back into the rain.  And rain it did, the whole rest of the way.  Heavy rain that they really need here in California but I would rather it waited one more day. 
We had told the place Lorraine was going that we would be there sometime around 4pm.  Of course, with the snow, heavy rain and heavy traffic we were running late.  We kept the place informed of our timing and the guy that was to check us in said he would be there whenever we got there, even if it meant he had to stay all night.  I assured him there was no way we would be that late, we would stop and get a hotel room before that. 
It was a bit after 6:30 when we got there and sure enough, they were waiting for us.  As we wheeled Lorraine in the front door, we walked into a meeting that was going on and a number of the residents knew who we were and that we had driving down from Washington.  Lorraine was a bit of a celebrity before she even got there, ha. 
I asked for them to attend to Lorraine as soon as possible as we had been traveling all day.  They did that while I signed some papers then they had the kitchen fix us all dinner.  While there, we got lots of our questions answered and I must say, I was favorably impressed with everyone we had contact with that evening. 
They had Lorraine’s room ready and waiting for her as soon as we finished eating.  Once again, it was a very long day for Lorraine and she handled it very well with little complaining.  But she was really tired and fell asleep as they were in the process of transferring her from her wheel chair to her bed.  Of course, they had to get her changed and cleaned, gave her the medicine and pills then she was out for the count. 
Susy was really tired too and I wanted everyone to head home so Lorraine could have a somewhat quiet night.  I got a pillow and blanket and slept in her room, I wanted to be there in case she woke up in a strange place and got scared.  One major difference between the nursing home and this assisted living is, in the nursing home all the doors were opened all the time so the nurses and aides could check out the residents whenever they were walking the hallways while here it’s more like individual apartments, the residents are even issued keys to lock their doors whenever they want.  I tell that to explain why Lorraine may have been scared plus it might be awhile before someone would actually check in on her if she work up and was scared.
Lorraine slept well that night, the nurse and/or aide checked in on her every hour or so, woke her up to change position or take meds.  Next morning I asked her how she slept and she said she slept well.  I asked her if the nurse coming in bothered her and she didn’t remember any of people coming in, she was that tired.  I was impressed with the nighttime nurses and aides, they were careful to introduce themselves and explained to her who they were and why there were there. 
Next morning they got Lorraine cleaned up and ready for breakfast.  We went down to the dining room and again a few of the residents knew who Lorraine was even though they had never seen her before, ha.  The dining room is open seating, you can sit anywhere you like although they warned us some of the residents get upset if someone sits in “their place”.  They gave Lorraine and I a table that was empty then asked her what she wanted for breakfast.  I was surprised to see that you could order anything you liked for breakfast, eggs any style, omelets, pancakes, waffles, hot cereals, cold cereals, fruits, melons, toast, wow. 
Later that day Mark and Katie came by to see Nana.  The look on Lorraine’s face when she saw Susy waiting for us at the Christmas tree lot in Portland was something to see but nothing compared to when she saw Katie in her room.  Katie seemed a little off, I guess she really didn’t know what to expect but that soon wore off and they were soon back to “normal”.  Katie had drawn some pictures for Nana and couldn’t wait to show them to her.
Susy, of course, had to work on Monday, her big project was coming down to the wire and she had to finish a few things but she did come by after work.  Lorraine was sure glad to see everyone, it really made me glad that we had made the decision to come here vs the other options.  
I had a few things that had to be worked out, one big one was to get a hospital bed for Lorraine as soon as possible.  This place furnished Lorraine’s room with a regular twin bed, chest of drawers, night stand, table lamp, sheets and towels but they were charging us $35/day for them.  I wanted to get a hospital bed so Lorraine could adjust it and wanted to get out of the daily charge as soon as possible too.  
Lorraine wanted to do some more shopping before Christmas but I told her I really didn’t want to fight the crowds and traffic.  We aren’t really into buying online yet so didn’t do that either.  I gave Susy the presents that we had bought in Washington and brought with us and asked her if she would wrap them for me.  Of course, Susy didn’t want to wrap her own presents, ha.  
I had made an appointment with Lorraine’s general doctor here so we saw her on the 23rd.  She reviewed all of Lorraine’s records and prescriptions.  Lorraine was in her wheel chair, of course, so she couldn’t really check her out as much as she would have liked but soon had everything under control.  She wanted Lorraine to see her neurologist and heart doctor as soon as we could so they could check her out too.  She express surprised that Lorraine had another stroke as they had done everything they knew of that would keep her from ever having another stroke and really wants to find a cause for these.   
Christmas morning Lorraine got up and had breakfast then I got her into our car and headed over to Susy’s house for Christmas morning.  Boy was Lorraine happy to be there, we had almost given up on the thought that we could pull it off yet here it was happening, yea.  We headed out later to eat then Lorraine had to get back to go to bed and have a nap, she was beat but very happy. 
Lorraine was still tired from the trip down, it took a lot out of her so I tried to make sure she got a nap either in the morning or afternoon, sometimes both.  She was also complaining of pain on her rights side, the nurses were worried about her appendix but she had that removed years ago.  I thought it was a pulled muscle from when we had to transfer her from wheel chair to bed in the hotel room on the way down.  The pain was really bad when she was laying down but mostly subsided when she was in her chair. 
I had a made an appointment with her heart doctor on Monday after Christmas.  He also checked Lorraine as best he could with her in the wheel chair.  He also expressed surprise that she had another stroke as he believed she was getting the proper medical care to insure she should never have had another stroke.  He does want to do do an echo-gram next week to check out her heart and talked about implanting a heart monitor at a later date.  He also wants to get to the bottom of the causes of her strokes. 
Susy was on vacation between Christmas and New Years so I took advantage of that to fly back to Washington, pick up our MH and drive it down here.  I left here on Tuesday morning, our friend Richard picked me up at the airport in Bellingham and drove me over to our MH.  He helped me get a few things taken care of before he had to get to a meeting.  Thanks Richard for picking me up and helping me, sure appreciate you doing that!!
I finished up with the things I had to do at our house, got it closed up then got the MH ready for travel and took off about 1pm, headed South.  I drove until about 7 that night, made it South of Olympia before I pulled over for the night.  I had winterized the water system on the rig and needed to flush the antifreeze out and get it ready for normal living use once again.  Only problem was the RV park I stopped at didn’t have sewer hookups so all I could do was flush the lines into the holding tanks.  But that was enough that I could have drinking water and could take a shower the next morning. 
I was in contact with Susy the next morning to check the weather in the passes, worried about snow once again.  I would have to detour to the coast if they had chains required because I don’t have chains and wouldn’t use them if I had them.  But I was able to get through the passes without any snow although I did have a few places where I had “heavy rain”, ha.  Whew, glad I made it. 
I had to stop one more time for an overnight rest and decided to stop at a casino near Corning, CA. that we have stayed at many times.  They have a nice RV park there and a good buffet, I was planning on taking in both.  But when I got there they told me at check in all the sites were taken.  They have 50 sites and my best guess is there were at least 50 more rigs in the parking lot of the truck stop, I was one of them.  So once again I was unable to dump and finish rinsing the water lines and holding tanks. 
When I got up the next morning, I drove through the RV park and found at least 6 sites were empty, either someone didn’t check in or they left before 6:30.  Anyway, I pulled into one of the empty sites and rinsed the whole water system and holding tanks.  I really needed to do this as I would be parking our MH at the Elks and they don’t have sewer hookups at each site but only have a dump station.  It would have been hard to do this flushing there so I really wanted to get it done before I got there. 
I made it to the Elks about 1, got semi setup then asked Susy to pick me up and went to see Lorraine. I was surprised that she wasn’t mad at me for being gone, she usually is angry whenever I’m not with her.  But we had discussed me being gone and I left her a note so someone could read it too her whenever she wondered where I was. 
Lorraine was still having the pain on her right side plus the nurse told me they had seen a red spot on her lower back.  I asked to see that spot and it sure looked like shingles again.  The nurse said she would have to be quarantined for 48 hours after she started taking anti-virus medicine.  Because of the pain and the shingles, I took her to the hospital that night, New Year’s Eve.  I expected it to be packed but guess it was early enough that it wasn’t too busy. 
They had a nurse call us back into an office to get paperwork started then back to the waiting room.  About 30 minutes later it was into another office to talk to a different nurse who wanted to know more about why we were there, then back to the waiting room.  About 15 minutes later we finally got escorted to a room but they weren’t prepared to transfer her, they didn’t know she couldn’t stand or walk, guess the early discussions didn’t make it back to the real emergency room nurses. 
Finally they found a lift that would work to transfer Lorraine onto the cot in the room.  They were checking her for appendicitis even after I told them she had it removed years ago.  I suggested they check her for a urinary track infection and kidney/gal stones.  They didn’t know how they could do the CT scan without Lorraine being able to stand/walk, I would have thought they had seen folks in wheel chairs before. 
But while they were working out a possible solution the results came back to show she did in fact have a urinary infection.  That would explain the pain in her side, sure glad we found the problem.  So they gave her some anti-virus and some anti-bacteria pills and prescriptions.  We were back in Lorraine’s room about 5 1/2 hours after we left, not too bad. 
Lorraine’s pain was much better that night, she slept well she told me.  I was sure glad to be back with her, I really missed being with her and worried about her while I was not there even though I knew Susy would spend as much time with her as she could and the nurses and aides would take good care of her too. 
I have taken Lorraine to her neurologist and her eye doctor this past week.  Once again, the neurologist said he couldn’t explain why Lorraine had this stroke, he was one that had told us that she was getting the best medical care possible before we left to head North last July.  But he too wants to get to the bottom of the cause and will work with her heart doctor and the brain surgeon that had repaired her two brain aneurysms last April.  
I also took Lorraine to her eye doctor even though she didn’t seem to be having any vision issues after this stroke, unlike the other two.  The doors at this place weren’t wide enough to get Lorraine’s wheel chair through but the doctor did come out to check her as well as he could in the hallway.  He told me that even if we could get her into the exam room she would have to transfer into the attached chair as they couldn’t work with her in the wheel chair, what ever happened to the American with Disability Act anyway. 
Lorraine is taking blood thinning medicines that require her to have a blood test every week and the doses changed as required.  Susy had to take Lorraine out to have this blood test while I was gone and had lots of trouble as Lorraine slid down in her wheel chair and Susy couldn’t get her upright.  I had to take her out for the test twice  and found a place that can do the test with a finger poke vs a blood draw, much better for Lorraine.  We have a standing appointment every Tuesday.  Plus she has follow up appointment with all of her other doctors too so we’ll be going out to the doctors quite a bit. 
But one thing good is happening, Lorraine has started getting some therapy sessions once again.  The physical therapist is working with her to attempt to get some more movement/control on her left leg, the occupational therapist is working with her left arm/hand doing the same.  The speech therapist is working with her to try to get her to converse better, she isn’t having the same issues trying to find the correct word but rather she is just not talking much. 
Lorraine is still having moments of mental confusion, especially when she is tired.  Sometimes she forgets she can’t stand/walk and asks for me to help her stand up so she can walk to wherever.  She wants to talk to folks on the phone but when I hand her the phone, she doesn’t speak much.  She does understand what has and is happening and can make decisions.  She gets tired and needs a nap every day, usually I try to work that in the afternoon.  She gets tired right after dinner and is ready to go to bed by 6:30.  She gets up before 7 every morning.  She gets emotional very easily, in fact, she cries for no reason often.  She likes it when I read her the facebook, email and snail mail notes from friends and family wishing her well. 
Guess I’ll close this by saying she is pretty well settled in here, likes the place and she told the therapists her goal is to be able to walk again.  I ask her what she wants to do and she told me she wants to walk the beach in Hawaii with our son, daughter and grand daughter, sure hope that can happen some day!!  I think it will take a miracle from God as the doctors all tell me that she will probably never be able to stand much less walk.  Please continue your prayers and maybe that miracle will happen. 
I have pictures on Lorraine’s phone but figure I’ll post this without any pictures as I don’t have the proper cable to download them. 
Thanks  Chuck and Lorraine