Friday update -- end of week 3
In case you haven't guessed, Karen Smith found a ride back to Kirksville.
It's been another good week. Linda continues to make good progress. I thought you might be interested in knowing what a typical day looks like by describing today in detail.
Our day never really ends. Nurses come in at night and check vital signs, reposition Linda, give tube feedings, etc. Often they are kind enough to turn on all of the lights, so you can't really miss them, but they usually don't stay long. Things kind of pick up in the morning around 7am.
7am: Things start to pick up a bit around this time of day, with people in and out. Linda generally gets a breathing treatment around this time of day. That means she inhales a mist of albuterol (an asthma drug) for about 5 minutes. She doesn't have asthma, but they do it to keep her lungs open and working well.
7:30am: The doctors' rounds occur around this time. We see the head doctor for a few minutes and he answers questions and evaluates her. We usually see the internal medicine doctor as well.
7:30-8:00am: Linda gets dressed. Two people assist, usually me and a nurse. This morning we had a nursing student, so I taught her how to dress a person who can't help and transfer them from the bed to the wheelchair.
8am: Breakfast. For us this takes a long time, so we try not to get started late. This morning it took about 2 hours.
9:30am: Speech therapy. All therapy sessions last 30 minutes. We are often still eating breakfast at this time, so we just work on swallowing. Then speaking skills when we aren't eating.
10:30am: Physical therapy. Today Linda stood in the standing frame (with her upper body essentially free) for 25 minutes. They worked on wrist and finger movement while she was standing. Linda is starting to get various weak and a few stronger forearm and hand movements.
11:30am: Lunch. We ate until about 1pm and went back to our room to rest.
2pm: Occupational therapy. This therapy typically focuses on skills related to living. That might mean working on vision, upper body, sitting, or something specific. Today we worked on doing transfers (lifting Linda) to and from the wheelchair. For obvious reasons it's an essential living skill, and having me able to help enhances our personal independence even here at Rusk.
2:30pm: Speech therapy. Today the therapy consisted of Linda reading her Monday menu preferences aloud well enough that we could understand and mark her food selections. It doesn't sound like much, but it took the whole time and left Linda exhausted.
3pm: Occupational therapy. Today we did an electrical stimulation therapy to bring out wrist movement in Linda's arms. They used electrodes to contract the muscles in her wrists. She did it yesterday too, and she seems to have some new skill as a result.
3:30pm: Physical therapy. Today she walked with the therapist between the parallel bars. Monday they are going to try walking while suspended from a harness that can hold her weight with a focus on bending her knees (which tend to stiffen when she fears a fall).
4pm: It was nice outside, so we went out on one of the smoking decks for a while to enjoy the sun.
4:30pm: Dinner. Another hour and a half eating and hanging out with the speech therapists.
Linda was wiped out after dinner, so we laid down for a while. We had done a rocking chair therapy on Tuesday, so I asked her if she would like to go back to the gym. Strangely this offer made Linda cry, which I didn't expect. I finally got Linda to spell what was wrong and she told me that the therapists (both the PT and the OT) give her options for what she wants to do, but both went past the rocking chair option faster than she could say yes. She's been wanting to do it again all week, but missing her chances.
So around 7pm we we rocked for about 40 minutes. She was too tired to go long, and I brought her back to the room to nap. At 9:30pm I helped one of the nurses give Linda a sitting shower and dressed her for bed. She's sleeping so soundly now that she's snoring.