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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Subtle touch

We discovered this week that Linda can't buckle her seat-belt in the dark. She always does the buckle with her stronger right hand. However, the sensation in her right has always been a bit "off" since the stroke and that makes it difficult to do things by touch.

The OT was glad that we thought to mention it, and he had an exercise to work on her touch. He placed lots of different objects in a bowl of uncooked macaroni and the had to retrieve them by touch. The easiest object was a clothes-pin, but she did well with a variety of objects. She has good sensation (if not normal) and he expected her to improve with similar kinds of practice.

There were a couple of funny moments during the exercise. When she was asked to identify a pencil by touch, she couldn't. The therapist asked her to describe the shape, and she said, "Well, it's shaped like a pencil." We laughed at that. She also couldn't identify a crayon by touch (she thought it was a dowel). I suggested that she see what it smelled like, but she said, "It smells like food."

In other news, her walking in PT was dreadful. I guess you can't expect every day to be a step forward.

What makes a girl cry

It's funny what makes a girl cry. As always, Linda cries big when she cries. Today it happened very unexpectedly while she was thinking about moving. When she pictured the move, she realized that she will have to be watching rather than doing. It's such a big life moment, and she has to be a spectator but not an actor.

We talked about it later this evening, and I encouraged her to think of the move as a big gift. People have been wanting to do things to help, but they don't know what they can do. Here is something that people can do for her, and they want to. It made her feel better.

It's been a long time since she has felt disabled. It's funny how quickly the realization can come crashing back though.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Officially new homeowners

Thank goodness there are huge life-changing events to come around from time to time to take the mind off from insurance companies. We closed this afternoon on our house, which meant nearly 3 hours of not dwelling on things.

I had trouble renting a truck, but we have decided to move on Monday anyway. Two people have offered to let us use flat trailers. Given that the move is only 0.9 miles on a nice straight road, I daresay we will be all right.

I know at least a few people have been eager to learn the moving date. If you want to help, we plan to start at 9am on Monday. I'll get everything started, and leave for a bit to drop Linda off at therapy at 10am. I figure we can grab pizza whenever we're done. It's sure to be close enough to lunchtime.

Now, if you haven't taken time to jot down our new address, this is your moment:

Linda and Don Bindner
22463 State Highway H
Kirksville, MO 63501-8052

Our phone number will remain the same, and it's in the book. The phone may be unreliable on Monday itself as the phone company will be moving the number from our old address to our new one.

For the move, you'll still want to show up at our old address, 23192 State Highway H.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Fool me once, shame on you

They do not market blood pressure medication strong enough for days like today.

Mary S., you were right.

To quote from our benefit catalog, p. 47:

Speech Therapy, Speech therapy provided by a speech therapist if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. The service of a speech therapist if required to restore a speech disability that the patient lost as direct result of an Illness or Injury.

  2. The services of the therapist are prescribed by a Physician who continues to control and direct the overall treatment of the case, as Medically Necessary to improve the specific defect.

When I read that to the case worker (G.O.), she said, "That sounds exactly like Linda." If you don't understand why discovering this little clause made me livid, review kicked out. Notice where I state that "Apparently we don't even have an outpatient speech therapy benefit, and they feel they have been generous in paying for what they have already." This is precisely what G.O. told me on that date.

Most of you have never heard me yell. G.O. has heard me yell. "You told me I didn't have an outpatient speech benefit! That was completely inappropriate!" Her story is that she was just relaying what the insurance company told her.

I told her that she had been negligent in her duties. She is supposed to protect the insurance company from me defrauding them, and she is supposed to protect me from them--and she didn't. You wouldn't believe this possible, but the case worker assigned to me by our own insurance company has no idea of what our benefits are and has no way to look it up.

I told her that they are going to pay for Linda to continue speech therapy as well as her other therapies. She said she would pass my feelings on to the insurance company. I told her, "You can tell them, 'I'm awake now.'"

She said she had not yet received information from yesterday's Rusk visit, so I had Linda's current prescription for 3 months of continued speech therapy faxed to her along with a copy of p. 47 of the benefits booklet. I also re-enrolled Linda for speech at the earliest convenience of the therapist, which is Monday.

G.O. apparently did pass my comments on because the insurance company immediately ordered an independent inquiry into Linda's case by a physician "expert in the field." I learned this later in the day, after G.O. gave me numbers where I could confirm our benefit and get the word directly on why I had been misled about the benefit.

Customer service did in fact verify that the benefit is as stated on p. 47. They asked why I needed to know, and I replied that there had been a discrepancy between what the book says my benefit is and what I was told. I asked the name of the customer service tech and got a first name only. I asked "Is that first name unique?" She asked what I meant by that, and I explained "Usually at a customer service number, the first names given out are unique. No two techs use the same first name." She asked why that mattered, and I told her, "Because if I have to sue you, I want to know that you are the only first name in customer service so I know who I talked to." That got me immediately transferred to a supervisor.

The supervisor also wanted to know why I was requesting the benefit information. I told her, "I need to know whether I should sue you, and I need to know precisely what my benefit is to decide that." She was very diligent and double checked for me. The benefit on p. 47 is in fact our benefit. She also told me that first names are unique.

After my run through customer service, I called the second number I had been given, for G.O's direct contact the insurance company, T.T. According to T.T., Linda was denied for her speech benefit on the sole basis that it was no longer medically necessary. I told her that G.O. had relayed the message that Linda did not qualify for an outpatient speech benefit, that it was not a benefit of our insurance, and I also read p. 47 of the handbook to her.

T.T. seems to have a deficit in the kind of English that most of us speak. She speaks a kind of bully English dialect. Numerous times she asked, "Can Linda speak?" as if this yes/no question is the end-all be-all of "medically necessary." I explained that the question is not pertinent because the benefit is for a "speech disability" and Linda has a speech disability. She did not seem to want the discussion defined in these terms, insisting on her little non sequitur "Can Linda speak?"

That I had the professional opinion of an "expert in the field" and a prescription for continued therapy seems to carry little weight. "You can get a prescription for anything."

In the end, I said I was re-enrolling Linda in speech and they would pay for it because their independent review will correctly find her therapy "medically necessary". I fear this may drag out and involve attorneys before we finish.

So, in the end, the scenario is this: G.O. says she works directly with T.T., and also that she got her false information from the insurance company and simply passed it on. In contrast, T.T. says no one in her office would have said that, because it is false and further their office doesn't actually comment on benefits (that's another office).

So it seems that as the insurance professionals would have it, Linda was the victim of a tragic game of "telephone". What I want to know is, what does one insurance professional say to another insurance professional that starts at one end as the truth and comes out at the other as a bold-faced lie?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

60-day followup

It's hard to believe that it has been 60 days at home.

Linda had her two month followup with Dr. Rupright today, which meant we were back at Rusk this afternoon. Linda took her canes which impressed everyone greatly. Unfortunately her gloating was slightly tarnished when she fell on her behind in the gym. Everyone was pretty shaken up by that, except Linda. Lyndsay half caught her, so she didn't actually hit the ground hard. Linda was a bit frustrated since she hates to fall, and laid her head on the floor. Unfortunately that made it look like she hit her head, and that shook them up even more.

Dr. R said that Linda is the best-of-class recovery he has seen in his entire career for the kind of stroke Linda had. She had achieved twice as much since she left Rusk as what he expected. At one point, when he asked her to stand up from the bed she was sitting on, she did it without pushing off. He said he had never seen a locked-in patient progress to do that. (Linda has been practicing that particular skill like mad lately, trying to get it perfect.)

All in all, he was completely delighted by her progress and expects her to continue to improve. He jovially commented that pretty soon we'll be seeing her without the canes, and Linda told him he could plan on it.

I told the doc about the insurance company's intention to declare Linda's therapy not medically necessary. He was not particularly impressed by that, and stated that she will require anywhere from 6 to 12 months of ongoing therapy. I expect that professional opinion to be pretty helpful with things. Thankfully, Dr. R has about as much confidence (some might say arrogance) as Linda has determination to make a recovery, so don't look for him to be cowed by any mere insurance company.

He will order 3 months of therapy to take Linda until her next followup visit, and he specifically wrote an order for her to continue speech therapy. I think he was particularly unimpressed by the way they did a "bait and switch" on Linda, offering to cover outpatient speech to coax her home and discontinuing it a month later as a non-covered expense.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Medically necessary

I keep thinking about my conversation with the case worker. If this were really about medical necessity the question wouldn't be, "Which would you want to keep?" Both would be a valid option.

Why people hate insurance companies

Linda's case worker told me this morning that the insurance company wants to discontinue her physical and occupational therapy in the next few weeks. She asked me to prioritize them so we can do the most important one the longest.

This is such a load of shit. If Linda had known she would be cut off, and stayed at Rusk two weeks longer to think about it, the cost would have paid for all three outpatient therapies until the end of the year.

Asking a person whether they would rather have help learning to walk or being able to use their hands is a crock. People deserve to walk, and they deserve to be able to use their hands.

Little lost sheep

Linda tells me that for the last several days Ellie has told her, "I want my mommy back." Linda understands this to mean that Ellie wants her old pre-stroke mother again.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Blue Monday

Ugh, what a day. It started innocently enough. Ellie and I had a fight about what she was going to wear to day care, and I won for a change. Linda and I stopped to pick up coffee, and I walked some final paperwork over to the bank. We even stopped to get boxes from the recycling center before heading over to therapy.

Linda's therapy sessions went well. I declared that I was going to do errands during her therapy, but I stayed instead. She walked with her canes again, and it went well. Interestingly, her left leg gets tired with the canes. Forever it has been her right that was the trouble-maker. Go figure. The PT had some ideas about it.

In the afternoon, I went out to do errands. We signed the contract for our house, and the bank has everything they need. We close Friday.

The big hangup this afternoon was Linda's medications. I realized on Friday night that we don't have enough medication to last until Linda's followup on Wednesday in Columbia. No problem, her physician in Kirksville said she would write for Linda's refills. So I stopped at the office with Linda's medication calendar around 2pm and asked them to call scripts into the pharmacy.

At 4pm they hadn't called. The pharmacy called the doctor's office, but things were hectic and they were waiting for a call-back. At 4:30 I realized that my stuff would probably get done faster if I went there in person. It's harder to ignore a human person than a note. Not much harder. I think half of Kirksville must have been sick today, they were so busy. My stuff was OK'd at 5:30pm, at which time I picked up Ellie (1.5hrs late--I called) from day care and proceeded to the pharmacy. We were home just before 6:30pm.

We packed tonight, as usual. I found some special things. You sometimes do when packing. I found some junk, too (more common). Among the neat things I packed tonight were a few handfuls of Linda's handwritten manuscripts. Some date back to high school. When Linda was in the hospital last February and everyone expected her to die, I had started to make plans for these manuscripts. None of them are any good, but you learn a lot about Linda when you read them. They can't be replaced, so I prepared to get a larger safe deposit box to save them for Ellie.

I mentioned that to Linda tonight, and she said Ellie wouldn't have cared about anything silly like that. Somehow I doubt Linda is right about that.

I found journals and diaries from both of us. I kept a dream diary for a while, with really elaborate recordings of dreams I had (one even had a diagram of the setting and objects from the dream). Linda kept a teaching journal one semester. I found letters that Linda wrote to me when we were courting (Linda commented, "Wow, my handwriting was good then.").

Linda went to bed a little while ago. I helped her stretch and then sat down to fold the remaining socks from yesterday's washing. Neither of us like doing the socks, but Linda hates it way more than me.

Linda spontaneously started to cry in bed, which is to say she started to weep. Linda doesn't cry small, because of the stroke. She either doesn't cry, or she cries with gusto. She told me that she's tired of the whole stroke thing. She's tired of things being hard. She's tired of therapy. She's tired of not being able to speak and be understood. She's tired of not being able to walk, and not being strong enough to do tasks like open the door on a public restroom. She's tired of there being another hard thing right behind every skill she masters. She hates her canes, her walker, and her wheelchair.

People are amazed when they learn that Linda went from completely paralyzed to her current state in less than 6 months. It doesn't matter where you've come from. Where ever you are, you look ahead and see what you want, and it's more than you have right now.

Come to think about it, I don't think that attitude is particularly unique to stroke recovery.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Wobbling around

Linda has switched to using her canes for most of her at-home walking as well as her walking when out. Personally, I thought it was a bit too soon to be doing that (because she risks falling), but I have learned that she will do whatever she wants anyway, so I just try to help her do as well as possible. The truth is, she has done better than I expected. I take care to spot her pretty carefully when we go out, but at home she is pretty darn stable, if slow.

She is getting better at keeping her balance when distracted. Several of you may have noticed that she tends to fall over right when you say "Hi" to her. It's no coincidence. This weekend, though, I noticed that during several distractions she was fine. She did well when people talked to her, and she did well when walking through a crowd (which is particularly challenging because of all the movement around her).

I offered to count backward by sevens with her to improve her balance under duress. She wasn't interested.

On the house front

Linda is really looking forward to those wide doors.

I'm really looking forward to a dishwasher.

We're packing things away steadily each day. It's a lot less nerve-wracking to run the turtle's race than the hare's when you move.

If you are interested in fantasy, I have a couple of David Eddings series that I don't intend to keep; The Elenium (three books) and The Tamuli (first two of three books). I enjoyed both, but it just isn't that likely that I'll read them again. I also have some of the later Terry Brooks novels in the Shannara series. I have some other odds and ends. Come help pack, and you can rummage through my stuff.

Oh, and if you are interested in buying the house we currently rent, I can put you in touch with the owner.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Happy Anniversary

Don and Linda have been married for 11 years today.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Full Friday

What a day. We started off with therapy sessions a bit early today. Linda brought her canes. She can walk reasonably well using two canes, one in each hand. We bought them some time ago, and she has practiced walking short distances in the kitchen. She didn't really think her PT would approve of the canes, but she was also told to be more assertive, so she brought them instead of the walker. It turned out pretty well. As it turns out, the PT was going to suggest something similar.

Working with the therapist showed up one glitch. I trimmed Linda's canes a bit too short. They start out quite long, so I shortened them when we bought them. They were still too long, so I shorted them again. Too long. I shortened them a third time and got them close but slightly too short. Luckily canes are about as cheap as medical supplies ever get. So I bought two more canes and we'll make them longer. Ellie will want one to play with anyway, and this way she can have one.

We also used the canes when we went out. She walked for the first time at Wal-mart (rather than the wheelchair). We didn't browse the store, we went in and out for a single item. Still, it's a milestone.

I talked to the sellers of our new house, and it looks like we are going to be able to close on Friday the 30th. We will be able to move as early as Monday or Tuesday (Aug 2-3). That means a bit more earnest packing for us I suppose. I know many people are interested in helping us move, so I am open to feedback. Any preference for Monday or Tuesday (I see classes will have ended in any event)? You can leave comments or email me.

This afternoon I took care of the last detail on my end, insurance. Getting a good premium on your homeowners insurance is a black art. I know. I sat with the agent for an hour and a half putting data into form fields and generating quotes. You can make essentially a cosmetic change on the form and change your premium by $40. It is less expensive to insure my house for 125% of its value than it is to insure it for 87% of its value. That's just weird. It's clear that there needs to be a "truth in insurance" law like the truth in banking laws.

The insurance agent laughed when I told her to hit reload and see if we got a different premium (it was a web form). I explained that airlines often sell tickets for different amounts at different times of day. Our quote-generating experience today was so random that I would be quite unsurprised to find out that insurance companies do the same thing. In any event, I have insurance. I can always cancel the policy if I find something cheaper.

Linda went all day without spitting food on her shirt in a coughing fit. How about that? She really hates when that happens.

Every night when I put Linda to bed, we do dexterity activities with her left hand. Usually that has been thumb wars, but tonight I had the inspiration to make her finger spell. That was an excellent (and hard) activity. We'll definitely be doing that again.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Broken patterns

Today started out a bit tearfully for Linda. She accidentally let the drain on the bathtub get closed, and once it had water on it, she wasn't strong enough to let the water out. Combine this with one other fact: she can't turn off the water completely. When I walked into the bathroom to see why she was crying, the bathtub was full up to the reserve drain. To add to the frustration, she accidentally dipped her bra in the water while dressing.

It just goes to show how hard things can become if you make one little change in your routine.

Ellie was a handful this morning. She is often cranky in the morning. I heard her cry a few minutes before I had to wake her up. I went to her room and asked her if she had had a bad dream. When I got there, she was grumpily crossing over to the bedroom door to shut it. She was apparently just crying because she didn't want morning to come.

Ellie was having such a fit that when we left in the car, that I left Linda's walker parked in the garage. At least I didn't run over it. But we didn't have it when we were out. I asked Linda if she wanted to go back and get it, but she said no. So we spent the morning practicing our walking without. We walked at the coffee shop and then at Violette because I wanted to do a bit of work.

And at Violette, we really worked. As usual, we did the stairs up and down. But I also let her walk a little bit entirely unaided to see how far she could go. She can generally take 4 steps before she loses her balance. Her best was 10 steps. She says that was just luck, but I figure that if next time her "just luck" distance is more than 10 steps, she'll have improved.

Tonight we are packing boxes. Ellie is screaming for a Band Aid because one of the cats scratched her microscopically deep. I suppose I'll have to go save her.

Just be social

One thing Linda mentioned recently was that she would enjoy visiting people just to be social. People invite us for dinner from time to time, but she would also just enjoy talking. She's less likely to spill all over herself if there isn't food involved. So if you wanted to visit but not cook and that has been holding you back, consider yourself encouraged.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Moving closer to moving

We signed what seemed like a hundred papers at the bank yesterday, although I'm sure we're still far from done there. Things seem to be falling together well for our new house.

We've been packing, although that makes things harder for Linda. It is hard to pack up a house and not have boxes and things get in her way. She's a bit frustrated about it.

Ellie keeps asking to go to her new house. I told her that we have to pack all of our stuff in boxes and get a truck and then we can go to the new house. She told me, "I don't want to get a truck. I want to go to my new house."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


We had a good day yesterday. Linda's therapies went particularly well. In PT, they worked on reducing the tone in her legs so she can walk more fluidly, and she did some neat balance exercises. In OT, they did some electrical stimulation to work on getting out her left index finger better. It seems to be helping.

We have started packing boxes. Ellie isn't all that helpful, big surprise there. She is excited about the move, though. All evening she kept saying, "I want to go to my new house."

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Ellie comes home today

We are driving to Ottuma to meet Linda's parents for lunch and to bring Ellie home. She's had fun with Grandma and Grandpa, but she's ready to come home. On Friday, she said to them, "I want to go to my house." We'll have to take her over to visit our new house, so she can see the inside.

Walking update

We went to the Great Wall with friends yesterday. Linda took her walker, as usual, since it is generally easier than the wheelchair. The sidewalk there is a bit overgrown with hedges though, so it was a bit of a challenge getting in and out anyway. On the way out, we dumped the walker and I helped Linda. I held her jeans at the belt to help her keep her balance, and she slowly walked back to the car. In some ways, she does a better job without the walker. She stands taller and walks more fluidly when she isn't leaning on it.

We don't generally walk without the walker when we are out, although we do sometimes practice at home that way. She has really improved over the last few weeks. Sometimes her walking is very natural.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Cool cats

We have a working air conditioner again, much quieter than the old one. Whew!

Random pieces of life

On Thursday, we stopped for lunch at McDonald's on the way to Columbia. As usual, Linda used her walker, although we had her wheelchair in the car in case she got too tired. While we were eating, she commented, "I don't feel handicapped any more."

Yesterday, Linda was tired. She slept well but woke up tired anyway. Apparently it got her down in her physical therapy session. Linda is prone to crying when she gets too tired--she always was. Actually, it's the first time she has cried in quite a while, which is really good given the lability left from her stroke. Her PT suggested that maybe she should be more assertive. I told Linda she should have said, "OK. I want a new physical therapist." We laughed quite a bit at that.

I took her to the coffee shop in the afternoon where we met her sister, and we visited with friends all evening. That made her feel a lot better. We told her stories from the hospital; some were real belly-laughers.

Mary (Linda's sister) talked to their mom, who told her that Ellie has been sick all week. Sounds like Ellie has an ear infection or possibly strep. Poor kid.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Fun in Columbia

It was nice to visit at Rusk. We saw most of the therapists that Linda had worked with frequently when we were there. They were appropriately impressed and full of grins for us. Linda left her wheelchair in the car and used her walker througout, a pretty good bit of walking--and she did a good job. Boy did they notice that.

Everyone commented on her speaking, which made her feel good I think. More than the other skills, Linda has trouble measuring that her speach is improving. She still feels like no one ever understands her.

A chance to show off

Today is the Mid-Missouri Stroke Association meeting. It is being held at Rusk in Columbia. Linda and I are going to go. She is especially looking forward to seeing her old therapists so she can visit and show off her new skills.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Steamy evening

The fan motor on our air conditioner unit decided to burn itself out last night. We happen to have another very small unit, which we use in the living room. It can't cool much more than a room, so last night around 9pm I was moving it to our bedroom. Luckily Ellie is with grandma, so we only needed one room cool for the night. I had to put the door back on our bedroom (remember that I removed it to make for easier access with the wheelchair). Linda uses her walker mostly in that room now, so it shouldn't be an inconvenience.

I guess part of today will be pricing air conditioners (or seeing about a short rental).

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The great give-away page

Ok. I made a page to list some of the stuff I'd like to give away. No, it isn't gold or jewels (or why would I give it away?). But you might want something anyway.


No place like home

We have decided to buy the one piece of equipment that Linda needs most, a new home. Many of you have seen us around lately and already know, because we've been too excited not to tell you. Our new home was built about a year and a half ago by a physical therapist and her husband. When a PT builds a house, she knows how to make it accessible. It is one floor, with big doors and spaces that are easy to navigate whether you are in a wheelchair or a walker.

It looks like we'll be moving in about a month or a little less. In the meantime, you'll be welcome to bring boxes over and help us pack. Apparently the university recycling center is a good place to pick up boxes.

We'll also be giving a few things away, and I'll post a list or a web page with pictures or something. As always, people are welcome to a kitten. I also have a computer desk with a hutch--it's 10 years old which means a bit beaten and so on. But it is still solid. We'll have a microwave to give out on a microwave cart (but not until we're about to move). There will be more I'm sure.

I should thank everyone again for being so generous. We would probably have been able to move anyway, but the outstanding support that people have already given us will make our move much more comfortable for us.

Kindred spirits

We ran into a fellow at the coffee shop yesterday that we didn't know. Actually he ran his electric wheelchair into Linda (gently). He greatly admired Linda's ability to get through the door with her walker, saying, "I wish I could do that." He has multiple sclerosis which means he can't walk and he can't speak well, so he probably has a very good idea how Linda feels. We chatted for just a few moments about the frustrations of disability and wished each other well. Interestingly, I had to translate for Linda. She couldn't really understand him.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Odds and ends

We have two kittens left, if someone wants to adopt them. We also have one red tricycle. Ellie likes to ride her "big girl bike" now.

Ellie is staying with Linda's mom for the next week or so, so Linda and I have a bit more freedom right now. We went to Spiderman 2 this afternoon. I didn't bring Linda's wheelchair, so she walked all the way from the car to the theater with her walker. She reports that her ankle didn't turn out, and she didn't lock her left knee (behaviors which cause discomfort for her).

Friday, July 09, 2004

Seeing clearly again

It turned out to be a very good day. I got the vacuuming and the dishes done, and our lawn was mowed as if by magic. It wasn't really magic. We happened to arrive home before the "secret volunteers" were finished, so they were caught in the act.

Linda's new prism came in today and we went to have it fitted. You'll remember that we went back to the eye doctor because her double vision had been improving. What a fitting means is that they hold the prism in front of one of her eyes and turn it until they find the orientation that is best at reducing her double vision. Then they glue it to the inside of her glasses and trim it so it fits nicely.

Linda's double vision has almost completely lost its left-right component (i.e. her eyes track left and right more or less correctly now). She still sees one image slightly above the other. Her new prism does a beautiful job of correcting it. At first the change made her a little uncertain on her feet, but she had adjusted completely within a couple of hours.

Friday update

Sorry there isn't more to update. I'm behind in everything today. I have loads of laundry, a pile of dishes, and vacuuming to do. For some reason this doesn't stress me out.

Linda and I practiced the stairs again yesterday in Violette. She climbed them completely on her own. I helped her still going down.

Wednesday evening, Linda declared that she would like to try walking with canes. So I went to Elliot's and bought her a cane for each hand. She does pretty well. She is not as confident as using her walker, and it challenges her balance a lot more. It's not the kind of thing that she would do without a spotter, but she still does impressively well. We can only expect her to get better.

PT is cancelled this morning (the therapist is sick). Linda was disappointed. She said she wanted to gloat.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

No speech until fall

I called the speech clinic today. They told me that Linda won't be able to start until the fall term begins, so if Linda wants to be able to speak clearly before then she's going to have to figure it out on her own.

Climbing new heights

I had been thinking recently that Linda hasn't been doing the variety of physical activities that she did when she was at Rusk. So today we went to Violette Hall to do the stairs.

She did great. Phenomenal. You'll remember that the stairs are the hardest PT activity she did at Rusk. They have a practice set of 5 steps, and sometimes going up and down would be most of a session. Today, Linda scaled the 25 step circular staircase in the Violette common area. What's more, she did it in the "normal" fashion, alternately stepping with each foot, and without her air cast for ankles support (just her boots). At Rusk she always took each step with her best foot.

We rested at the top on the couches and came down (which is a bit more difficult). If you count the 6 steps outside, Linda successfully navigated 31 steps both up and down this morning.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Bad computer experiences

Slashdot is running an article on worst computer experiences. I thought you might like to know Linda's. It's here.

First steps

Linda reports that she took her "first steps" this morning, i.e. her first steps without the walker. She was standing at the counter getting a bowl and did it without thinking.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Out of titles

I'm running out of things to title my posts. Maybe it is because life is becoming routine, fewer surprises. Linda keeps working hard. She is probably walking about 75% of the time now (always with her walker). She walks almost everywhere when we go out, and she walks most of the time at home.

Lately it seems (to me) that it is taking forever for her to walk (unassisted). She walks so much, I feel like she should be seeing faster improvement. There were patients at Rusk that I saw improve very fast once they began to walk, and it is hard not to compare. Linda is improving. She can walk pretty long distances without her air cast. In fact, she can walk pretty far distances in just her tennis shoes (which don't support her ankles like her boots do). So she is getting better and stronger and faster.

And yet it is going to be a long time before she can walk around Wal-mart or Hy-Vee. It's going to be even longer before she can do it without assistance.

She's keeping her humor somehow. This morning, she fell soundly on her butt in the living room. I expected her to start crying, but she just laid there on the floor laughing. Ellie came in to try to help her up, which was funny too.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Signs of improvement

Today was a "measurement day" in OT. She's been home about a month. She has improved on everything they measured but most dramatically in the amount of reach of her left arm. She could lift it about 60 degrees when we came home, and she can raise it around 100 degrees now. She's done a lot of hard work to make that improvement. Her grip is stronger in both hands. She has better coordination in her fingers. And she still has a lot of work to do.

Her OT told her that he thought she could go to 3 days per week. We're going to do PT and OT both on MWF now, leaving TTh free. I think we will take that time to see about speech therapy at Truman. Or maybe we'll just live. Nah, I'm pretty sure we'll do the speech.