Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What do you know--2 posts in a week

I'm sure y'all all know I will only post when I have a meaningful update, so knowing there's a new post should be viewed as positive.

Pete had his appointment this morning for the ultrasound of his lower legs and feet. As I mentioned on Saturday, he's had some swelling in his lower left leg and foot. This has been accompanied by skin that is cold to the touch (not regular cold, but cold). The neurologist wanted to make sure he didn't have any DVT, and sent him in for ultrasound this morning.

We got there early, which I'm always excited about and filled out paperwork. There were some odd questions on the paperwork (like what color do you prefer red, blue or black) and a few minutes after I turned it in, some guy comes out with a tote bag (blue) with a little portfolio thing, a banana and a soft drink inside. We're spent how many weeks and half a million in services there and this is our first giv-y.

Anyway, we're sitting there and I'm mulling my good fortune when this huge guy walks up to me and asks if I remember him. I did not, but he reminded me that he was part of Pete's pit crew when he first arrived at Methodist. He had seen Pete's name on the list of patients for the day and it was familiar so he reviewed his chart. He called Dr. Volpi and asked if he wanted a repeat of any of the brain ultrasonography and if I had a little longer to stay at the hospital they could recheck his carotid arteries and some other things. Yup, we can stay as long as you need him! It didn't occur to me until later that the insurance deductible turns over on Thursday, so whatever tests need to be done under the old one would be great!

The extra tests added about an hour to his time there and it was certainly an hour well spent. Dr. G (not the M.E. the pit crew dude whose name I don't recall) came out and told me that the right frontal carotid is still completely blocked, and the left one is still completely clear. He said the ultrasound on the other arteries revealed the large one on top that had been blocked IS now cleared so he has additional blood flow to the part of the brain damaged by the stroke. This might account for some of the increased function in his left leg that was sort of sudden, but I do not know for sure. Any medical people reading this could certainly help me with that. Dr. G definitely found it to be something extremely positive.

The nurse told Pete that the scan on his legs looked just fine too and that he would be faxing reports over to Dr. Volpi. I'll call his office Friday to confirm. Any changes will be reported as appropriate.

Seeing a member of the original medical team that admitted Pete brought back a whole bunch of emotions for me. I'm sure those will come and go as time goes on, but positive thoughts in that regard would be appreciated.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It came and went so quickly! But it was the 4 month mark on Pete's stroke recovery, which in the grand scheme of stroke recovery is a long time.

He's come so far! This week, we had 2 rehab sessions at TOTS and finally got more sessions scheduled for next week. We have been working on his arm and shoulder and they are loosening up a good bit and he's got the ability to move his left elbow out (away from his body) a bit and that will help those muscles get stronger. He's also able to move his left ankle to lift his foot a bit and the wiggling toes are getting more wiggly. On the whole, I take this as excellent progress. He needs to work on his standing balance and work on standing on both legs, which he has not been doing much of, he's using the right leg for almost everything and that is really no way to walk.

We went to the the neurologist on Tuesday and he's quite pleased with Pete's progress. He has prescribed some medicines to help with the pain that is associated with the feeling returning to his left side. Pete is not one to take medication for pain, but that is not really something he has the option for right now. The doc also told him he needs to get out more, so we'll be doing that. There are some issues with intermittent swelling of his left hand and foot and the doctor wants to rule out any sort of blood clot in his leg by doing a test on Tuesday and otherwise, there is a study going on right now about edema and Pete will be enrolled in that study.

One other thing is that Pete's blood pressure and heart rate are completely under control. The BP at the neuro was 120/70 which is about what they say is "perfect" and his heart rate was in the mid 60's, also pretty darn good. Before the stroke, his BP was running in the "Oh my God" range and his heart rate was all over the place. He is taking no medicine to make that happen at all and the only change was quitting smoking. If you need any more encouragement, I'll be happy to give it.

Right now we have the plague in our house, so we're all sort of recovering from that. For all of you who have followed Pete's story, please know you have our many thanks for your support and prayers. His recovery is progressing well, but there is still a long way to go. We will need you all for a good time to come. I'll try to post more often, but know that if there is no post, it means the status quo is in effect.

If I don't post before then, everyone please have a happy and healthy new year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Now we have outpatient fun

I have been bad again. So, since we came home. . .

We had a wonderful weekend after Thanksgiving! I got the tree up and Anna and I decorated the front yard. She picked out a blow up Santa and wuv's him! We'll see how she likes sitting on his lap this weekend!

We went last Friday (the 5th) back to the neurosurgeon's office to have the stitches/staples taken out and OMGosh, he looks so good! There will be a couple of battle wounds that stay, but mostly, Pete looks like our Pete. I'll try to get a picture and add it to the blog for those who think I'm crazy. After that, we went to the TIRR Kirby Glen facility, this is their outpatient place. They call it TOTS, for Tirr Outpatient Therapy Center, and it looks a whole lot like the gym at the hospital, and the patients there are likewise in varying degrees of rehab. When we were touring the place, there was a man who was walking with very tentative steps and I told Pete to watch him, because that's what he was going to be doing before he knows it.

He has continued to get stronger and to improve in his cognition skills since his surgery. This sounds punny, but having the bone flap put back in has taken a load off his mind. The day after we got home, he was laying in bed and I told him he needed to move his left leg so I could adjust the covers and he lifted the darn thing right off the mattress! And here we were excited he could wiggle his toes, now he's wiggling all 5 of those little dudes and lifting his leg. He said his abs were weak and of course they were, it hurt every time he worked them. So, I've got him working on that too. He's been emailing like crazy and really his typing hasn't lost much only using one hand. The best thing is how much stronger his left arm is getting. I have a little 2 pound weight that I think he could hold. That's not much at all, but considering 2 months ago, he didn't know his arm was there, much less could he move it, that's pretty remarkable.

Today he went to TOTS for an evaluation. The speech therapy folks were much impressed. The recommendations they received was for 5 days of therapy a week, but they don't think it needs to be more than 3 days. The occupational therapist is going to work on reworking cooking skills. Sounds like a plan to me. The physical therapist has been tasked with getting him upright. Over the weekend, I told Pete that once that happens, I'm going to sit on the couch for 3 weeks and he can do everything.

His mom has been here during the week for like 3 weeks, I don't know for sure. It has been a wonderful experience for us all. Pete has enjoyed having her around and Anna sure does love her Oma.

I can't believe Christmas is coming up so fast! More later.