Sunday, March 27, 2011
Update from David
Aloha to our Ohana,
The past week has seen new challenges and rewards on our healing journey, all for which we are thankful to our Lord. Since our health insurer continues to deny coverage for Theresa's final few weeks at Craig Hospital, it has become necessary for us to move into one of the patient/family apartments. Over here, I care for Theresa on a 24-hr basis and bring her to the hospital for out-patient rehab therapies during the weekdays. While the first few nights were a learning experience (as it usually takes 2 aides to assist with some duties), Theresa has made me proud by helping me to help her as much as she can. Working together, we're successfully caring for each other and as a bonus, Theresa now gets a shower every morning as opposed to the once every 48 hours evening shower at the hospital. As alluded to previously, the luxury of sharing a bed is wonderful and just having Theresa beside me and listening to her talk and breathe is a gift from God.
In anticipation of leaving the hospital, the past week's OT and PT sessions concentrated on teaching us skills we would need to live apart from their support system. Theresa did everyone proud by pushing herself hard to master toilet, bed and car transfer techniques. She is especially adept at using the slider board and just loves the downslope glide from bed or car seat to the wheelchair. I'm almost afraid she'll slide right off the board but she always catches herself in time. We took full advantage of these skills on the weekend when Theresa and I took a road trip to Colorado Springs and the top of Pike's Peak at 14,110 feet, just slightly higher than Mauna Kea volcano back home. Seeing that the conditions were below freezing and extremely windy with very thin air, I can't blame Theresa for not wanting to get out and have her photo taken beside the landmark sign. On the way down, we were both concerned as the Chevy Suburban ahead of us was riding their brakes to the point of smoking them. Being flatlanders from Missouri, they probably weren't used to gearing down so we said a prayer for their safety. Fortunately for all of us, they pulled off at the 11,000 feet brake checkstop but we could smell their overcooked pads for another mile.
In addition to the daily living skills taught by the therapists last week, Theresa also underwent some repeat speech and cognitive testing. The results show improvement in memory, logic and problem solving, and in the pictogram test, Theresa scored 90% correct as compared to 60% in February. Observing the complexity of these tests, I would be hard pressed to do much better. Also, more diagnostic imaging was ordered for Theresa's neck, ankle and major arteries and the good news is she is now cleared of most weight bearing restrictions. Dr. Courtney Brown, one of the top orthopedic spine surgeons in the country personally delivered the good news to Theresa about her neck. ASIA testing to measure the level of feeling loss throughout her body due to the spinal cord injury showed some impairment but that should improve as Theresa becomes familiar with interpreting the new sensations. Right now, Theresa describes it as pins and needles in her extremities however we are grateful that she has regained some feeling in those parts. Even in the therapeutic recreation sessions, Theresa continues to impress by beating both the therapist and me at Uno and Super Scrabble (winning with a 92-pt word!) Finally, Theresa kept the best surprise for last Friday during the PT session. The goal was to get her standing with support from the parallel bars and perhaps try to take a first step if she felt confident. Well, Theresa amazed all of us by slowly walking a total of 10 feet -- really a miraculous achievement for her first time on her feet moving forward in over four months. We continue to praise our Lord for His gift of grace and healing for Theresa.
There were also visits from medical staff from two of the three transitional rehab facilities we are considering for the next path on our healing journey. We are most grateful and humbled that these specialists took the time to fly out to meet Theresa and me, and after long and careful consideration, we have decided on the Center for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield, California. The move will take place later this week and once we're settled in, I'll provide the new mailing address. This rehab facility is much more of a residential setting (with nursing care as needed) and the patients will continue their therapies while also learning how to master the skills of daily living to reintegrate into their lives back home. Among the goals is for Theresa to be walking, if not dancing the hula, by the time she is ready to return home and that should take another 2-3 months.
This morning, we attended our final chapel service at the hospital, listening intently to the pastor speak of thanksgiving during this 3rd week of Lent. Theresa gave a heartfelt testimony and even played "How Great Thou Art" on the piano. Later on we drove to the Mexican/Vietnamese part of Denver for some good and inexpensive dim sum. Theresa's eyes were bigger than her appetite as it looked like she wanted to order just about everything that passed by. We settled on a few of her favorites and as I watched her enjoy the dishes, marveled at her healing progress. Back in the apartment, I was beginning to take a nap when Theresa asked about the people in the car that hit hers and how they had fared. I directed her to the web links for the numerous news articles and TV coverage which Theresa reviewed with rapt attention. Not long after, she asked if we could return to the chapel as she had this irresistable need to write down a prayer request, a copy of which I am grateful to share with our ohana. After going through all that she has, it truly is a blessing and a miracle that Theresa retains the Love of God inside of her and continues to do His Work as she heals through His Gift of Grace.