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