Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Update from David

Aloha to our Ohana,

Talk about turning adversity into a positive experience.  On the previous two tries, Theresa had difficulty remaining still during the MRI sessions because of the constant pounding noise inside the tube which resulted in incomplete scans.  On the third attempt, Theresa remained still as best she could however by mid-scan, she was beginning to fidget again.  But this time, something special happened; instead of just becoming restless, there was a noticeable rhythmic nature to Theresa's movements.  And when her leg and hip swaying became too pronounced, the MRI tech asked Theresa to try to remain still and low and behold, she was able to.  After the scan had successfully ended, Wanda asked Theresa what allowed her to block out the pounding noise and Theresa said she couldn't filter it out so she imagined the sound as that of the Ipu Heke, a percussion instrument used in hula.  Thus Theresa used her hula skills yet again as another form of therapy, this time to withstand the previously unbearable noise of the MRI.  That Theresa could be inspired to do this, I am most thankful to our Lord Jesus Christ for answering our prayers for reassurance and healing.

Weekends at Craig Hospital are mostly a time of rest for the patients and their therapists.  The nurses and aides are still about and performing their caring duties, as are the physicians on call that are rounding on the units, however the only scheduled therapy is in the form of recreation.  Last Saturday, it was baking cookies in the T-Rec room but since Theresa was still on a tube feed, there wasn't much appeal for baking when she couldn't enjoy the end result.  This weekend, I had just returned from my unplanned side trip and upon rushing back to Theresa's room, found a plate of beautifully decorated snowman cupcakes.  My loving wife had spent the afternoon making and decorating them, and watching me enjoy one brought a smile to her face.  Theresa lost interest as I consumed the remainder of the plate so using her stronger arm, she rotated the mobility chair to face away from me.

Other recreational activities include movie night (Inception was the feature film -- perhaps not the best choice for the brain injured patients already battling various delusions, but I'm not the cruise director here) manicures, facials & massages, gardening in T-Rec's own greenhouse, and weekly excursions that include the mall, pizzeria, and local sports and cultural events.  When Theresa is well enough for an offsite pass, we plan to partake of some of these outings.

Last night, some volunteers even brought their Newfoundlanders to visit the patients.  While our Canadian friends may see some humor in this as people from that region of the Maritimes can be funny without knowing it, I'm not setting you up for a Newfie joke.  These Newfies are of the canine variety and look like a cross between a St. Bernard and a Mastiff, except that they're all black and slobber.  Theresa had a great time petting a few of them and one Newfie, a 140 lb one was particularly curious about Theresa's foley line and even got his paw caught in it when he tried to shake hands; no harm done to either party.  Later on back in Theresa's room, she spent a good five minutes trying to wash the Newfie hair and slobber off her hands.  It's kind of interesting to watch because Theresa's right side is definitely stronger so she extends her left arm as far as she can and then uses the right hand to pull the left hand to reach the water.  The right hand then washes the left but that side doesn't reciprocate as well so the right hand ends up trying to wash itself.  The outcome is both hands are clean and for that, I am thankful to God for this small yet significant step in our healing journey.

Yesterday was full of surprises and definitely a milestone for us.  For the past week, Theresa has done well with her tracheostomy tube red-capped, allowing her to speak and swallow naturally.  As she refamiliarizes herself with these sensations, she is aspirating less often and so there has been almost no need for the respiratory therapist to suction out her lungs several times a day.  Thus the decision was made to remove the trach tube and let the hole in her throat close and heal by itself.  The pulmonologist and respiratory nurse practitioner came in for a final check-up and not a minute later, Theresa was free of anything in her throat for the first time in 9 and 1/2 weeks.  But the surprises for the day didn't end there.  At the joint OT/PT session, the goal was to put some weight on Theresa's left leg now that those hip and femur fractures and the torn knee ligaments have healed to partial weightbearing status.  So with Theresa sitting well balanced on the edge of an elevated mat, a walker with a left arm support was placed in front of her.  The therapists then aided Theresa in shifting her weight to her left leg as they held her up.  These repetitions were visibly tiring for Theresa as she struggled to complete them, getting up no more than halfway to a standing position.  For the last two reps, Theresa seemed to have almost nothing left but after finishing and catching her breath, she indicated to the therapists that she wanted to try once more.  And then, with a combination of perspiration and inspiration, Theresa pulled herself to an almost upright stance for a split second.  Both therapists and I were speechless, no one expected this on the first day and I think Theresa even surprised herself.  The effort certainly tired her out but it is yet another sign of the remarkable healing powers that God has blessed upon our dear wife, sister, daughter and friend.

The next few weeks will be a challenge for both Theresa and me as I am returning to Hawaii for work and to deal with various insurance, legal and household matters.  I left Theresa with a replacement phone (hers was damaged beyond repair in the accident, although it was at the bottom of her purse) and asked Wanda to show her how to use it.  Instead of needing a lesson, Theresa gave one by quickly recalling how to turn on the phone and look up the contacts so I expect her to ring me up regularly.  Wanda and Rosa are also leaving for Calgary today however Theresa will not be alone here.  Kelly, a local Denver friend of my former classmate Dawn is arranging a care chain among their friends so someone will visit Theresa every day.  In addition, throughout February we are expecting extended visits from friends and colleagues from out of town so Theresa will always have someone caring nearby.  This is in addition to the support and prayers of our friends worldwide for which we are truly thankful.  Theresa's healing continues at an amazing pace and we know in our hearts that it would not be so without everyone's support and the grace of God.



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