Wednesday, February 25, 2009

6 months, wow

That's not enough time to grow a baby, but look at all that's happened!

Six months ago tonight, I was coming home about this time, still in a pretty good amount of shock, that really hasn't worn off that much. Of those 180 days, Pete spent 21 at Methodist then a week at TIRR then a couple days back at Methodist and then 50 some days at TIRR. So about 85 days in the hospital and 95 at home. And it seems like he was in the hospital forever, and probably a little longer to him.

I would have never made it through as well as I have if it had not been for our family, friends and supporters who have followed this blog and otherwise prayed for us. Believe me, what strength I have, I know comes from above.

Since developments are much less common, I have not updated the blog very often. I know that many people check in regularly to see if there's an update. Be sure if something happens, you will know, even if it's a little delayed.

Last Saturday (Valentines Day), Anna and I went to The Little Gym like always and when I came home, I open the door and see Pete's chair, sitting there, with no Pete in it. Heart on the carpet already, I go over to where he is and he's laying on the floor, with no idea how he got there. I called a friend who had the good sense to marry a doctor and relayed his condition and he thought Pete probably had a seizure, which is a pretty common event after a stroke. He perked up very quickly, which meant we didn't get to spend Valentines Day at the ER. We went to see the doctor on Monday and were told yeah, around 6 months is about when the brain has done a bunch of rewiring work and sometimes seizures happen. Pete will take some medication for a few months to make sure everything is A-OK.

Last week, we had an appointment at the eye doctor. After doing a million tests, it's confirmed that Pete has no loss of visual field, what he has is a serious problem with neglect. He will not look at certain parts of a page of text. I hide things from him on his left side, including things like, well, part of his dinner that goes on the left side of the plate. I've been told to get on the "torture Pete" bandwagon.

On a sad note, over the weekend, Pete's dog Dusty went to be with his old buds, Max, Lizzie, & Sadie to run and play in the clouds, somewhere that he is young and frisky, with no grey in his muzzle and no hind leg that hurts when it's cold out. Dusty was a good dog and a good friend to Pete. Anna has not noticed, but she seems to understand being "in heaven" means not here. So, we have been asking God to bless Dusty in heaven.

Today, I picked Pete up from his outpatient therapy and he told me that on Friday, the PT wants to get him up and walking, but not on the locomat, not with the "moses stick" but with a walker. He went some today, but not for long.

The botox injections in his upper body have had a very good effect on the toning in his arm and hand. He has so much better range of motion, including being able to bend is wrist back about as far as I can. Tonight, I asked him to squeeze my hand and he was able to fold his fingers around mine. This is a new development. If he's done it before, it was more involuntary.

We keep moving day by day with the therapies and appointments and homework and exercise. Needless to say, between shuttling him hither and yon, taking care of Anna and the house and working, I'm getting pretty tired and just a little punchy sometimes. Your continued prayers for my fortitude would be appreciated, by more than just me.

I hope to continue to post developments and improvements over the next several weeks and months. What I said before about this being a marathon, not a sprint, was no lie.

Monday, February 9, 2009

More torturous events.

One of the serious problems Pete has been experiencing is muscle spasticity or toning. Think about when you've slept "wrong", you wake up all stiff, and your arm takes a while to loosen up. This is a much more serious version of the same thing. Pete's Achilles tendon, hamstrings, pectorals and arm tendons have gotten tight and short like I mentioned before. To describe how it looks, when he stands up, his left leg looks sort of like a flamingo's leg. Sort of bent at the knee with the foot up and hanging.

So, we go to the TIRR outpatient clinic at the end of January to get Pete shot up with Botox. When we started, his blood pressure was a little higher than I'm used to seeing, but I have to guess, a little apprehension is pretty normal. So while we wait (and wait and wait) I look at this poster on the wall. It has pictures of patients with various types of spastic muscles. The first picture is an older man (based on the picture of chest and arm) with an arm like in a sling across his middle. It goes all the way to people with arms and hands in very unnatural and painful looking positions. I pointed out to Pete the guy with the sling look and told him he was a lucky man, because that's as serious as his was.

The way this is done is pretty fascinating, I guess if you're the one not on the table. The nurse brings in like 15 syringes, and the doctor pulls over this computer. She takes the needle off the syringe and replaces it with a more flexible needle (kind of like the thing they use for an IV) and attaches it to an electrode that is attached to the computer. She says, "stick" and puts it into his pectoral muscle on the left side and you hear this crackling noise, and she looks for the spot that has the worst crackling, and starts shooting it there. She moves and goes from spot to spot on his left arm. You could tell when she hits someplace not toned, because there's no noise. She also got right into muscles and tendons going into each finger. She put some electrical stimulation onto the needle so his fingers moves and she knows when she's got it. There was just enough botox left to do a couple of shots into his left leg. He gets to come back for the leg stuff.

Botox takes about 10 days to get to "full potency". Over this last weekend, I could move his arm to about 90 degrees away from his body to the side. The bad thing is that the drug that releases the toning, also relaxes the muscles so he doesn't have much strength in that arm. I am able to do a bunch more stretching on him than I was before.

Last Wednesday, he went in for Phenol injections. Yeah, both of these medications are poisons so they're pretty careful how much they use, and they couldn't do both at one time. This time the left leg was the focus. The toning is much better, but the muscles are weak. The PT is working on that, and the OT is working on the arms. His wrists, which had no range of motion outward can now bend to about 45 degrees, I can bend his ankle much better than negative 10 degrees.

Tonight we ditched the transfer chair for Pete's shower. Let's just say we did some fancy dancing in the bathroom. He did take a few little steps, but really, those weren't real steps, more just moving inches at a time around in a circle. It's a start.