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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

School gossip

I was visiting with one of the teachers this morning. She told me that she overheard the kids talking at lunchtime. Ellie was talking about Linda, My mom is soooooooo beautiful.

The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning

Linda and her speech therapist discussed ending formal speech therapy. Kellie had looked through Linda's chart. Most of the things Linda would like to work on are sounds that have essentially been classed as succeeded.

No one will argue that she can't stand to improve yet, but from an is-insurance-going-to-pay perspective, she has achieved the goals she has set (at least to some reasonable degree). If they want to continue, she needs some new quantifiable and achievable goals.

Linda has a good home practice routine, and she basically does at home what they do in therapy. So to some extent, a therapist isn't so essential at this point. For next week, Kellie is going to put together a master set of exercises for her. We'll be seeing the physiatrist as well, but I suspect he will be inclined to agree with the recommendation of the therapist.

You might wonder if Linda is disappointed or pleased. She's happy, believe me.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturday summary

Tuesday Linda tried the treadmill in physical therapy. Its slowest speed is 1 mph; not really suitable for therapy. Linda's fastest speed on the autoambulator had been 0.6 mph. Still, I'm glad we tried it. Linda had been pushing to get a treadmill at home (and I didn't really want one). We're thinking about a wingback chair instead now.

The pedals on the bike are working well. She's tried the bike a couple of times this week, and it gets easier each time. The most challenging part seems to be getting off now (i.e. getting her feet out of the pedals). I'm going to put a small step under the bike to make it easier to mount and dismount.

Thursday meant driving to Columbia for the autoambulator. Our appointment last week was canceled because they stripped a gearbox and it had to be repaired. This week they tried some supporting braces with Linda. They helped at first, but then hurt a lot when her tone increased.

Next week, we're going to try not taping Linda's feet at all--it makes her tense. As long as she can stay relaxed, she does fine. When she tenses, then the machine starts to trip off. The intent is to turn off the robotic legs when Linda gets to that point and just try to go (slowly) as long as she has endurance.

It was a bit frustrating, but the up side is that her maximum speed was better than the first time. I don't know how much better because I forgot to check. But I know I saw it over 0.6 mph and they increased it some yet after that.

We bought fabric for bedroom curtains while we were out of town. They'll probably be the least expensive in the house. The material we liked was $2/yard. I expect to have them finished some time in the next five years.

Classes are picking up for me. I already have lots of homework to do (i.e. grading, paperwork, etc.).

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Virtual biking

Linda's new bike pedals were in the mailbox yesterday. I'm not sure if I got the mail on Saturday, so they might have been there for a couple of days already. I wondered why they were taking long.

I put them on last night, and Linda consented to try them out despite being tired. They work great, and we were very pleased. The best surprise was that the pedals are weighted on the bottom, so they stay right side up when you put your feet in. So many strapped pedals flip upside down from the weight of the strap on top.

The is one glitch with them though. When she's done biking, the straps still do a good job of keeping her feet on the pedals. It's harder to get off the bike and not be trapped in the pedals. Like everything, I'm sure it will get easier.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thursday updates

Rusk called to cancel for today, so we didn't go down for the autoambulator. We could have gone down for the Mid-Missouri stroke support meeting, but I forgot about it until this morning and Linda was already used to the idea of being in Kirksville.

So I finished painting our bedroom instead. It is a pretty little lilac color. It's good to have it done. I'm a bit tired of smelling mostly-dry paint. Of course, now it needs curtains...

Classes have started, and I already feel like my time is booked solid.

Ellie gave me her chest cold. She's been coughing for several days. I'm sort of prone to chest colds, but I'm hoping it will be milder for me. It doesn't hurt to hope.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

In lieu of something interesting

... I'll tell you what I made for dinner. I don't know what other people make for dinner when they don't want to expend a lot of energy but they don't want to order delivery. One thing I make is chicken pot pie, almost. It's easy.

1 can Healthy Request cream of chicken soup
(or cream of anything-you-like)
1 bag HyVee frozen stir fry vegetables
1 can chunked chicken breast
1 cup low fat Bisquick
1 egg
1/2 cup skim milk

Preheat the oven to 425F and thaw the vegetables in the microwave. Spread the soup, chicken, and vegetables in the bottom of a metal pie plate. Add a bit of black pepper if desired.

Mix the Bisquick, milk, and egg. Pour over the vegetables.

Bake for 30-35 min.

It's not too novel. A lot of Bisquick boxes come with a recipe a lot like it printed on the outside or inside of the box. It's easy. It doesn't take too long and it's pretty good for you.

Ok, on interesting thing

We tried the bike again today. Like everything, Linda was much better on her second try. I tied her feet to the pedals with some extra shoestrings, although we both agree that looking for new pedals is probably a good idea.

She ran the bike for about 5-6 minutes. Not a dreadfully long time, but we'll work on that.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

12 minutes

We went to Rusk today to do the autoambulator. It was more challenging than I expected it to be for Linda. I'd say that's a good thing. It means that the long drive there and back isn't wasted on something she doesn't need.

She did 12 minutes of walking on it. It has robotic arms that attach to your legs and move them. So although 12 minutes doesn't sound like very long, it was 12 minutes walking much faster than she usually walks. By much faster, I mean something like 0.6 miles per hour.

Yes, that's slow. But don't kid yourself. She felt like she was running the whole time.

Working toward that triathalon

So how do you top the autoambulator? You'd think by spending the rest of the day sitting quietly in one place. Or maybe napping. But I took advantage of the after Christmas sales to buy a bicycle trainer for Linda. It came today, so Ellie and I attached it to Linda's bicycle (so she can bike at home).

Well naturally, we couldn't resist trying it out. It's probably not very surprising that it was very hard. We had to make two tries at just getting on the bike, but after a bit of experimenting we got things situated and the seat lowered so she could get up (with help).

It's pretty hard for her to run the pedels. She works like the devil to bring her toes up enough. If she doesn't get her toes up, then her feet slip right off. After a bit, she was doing it pretty successfully, but I suspect we'll be tying her feet to the pedels for a while until she improves. That's nothing new; we always tied her feet to the bike at Rusk too.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Ellie has a toy compass from somewhere (I think a prize at school for being good). She knows what a compass is, which is something that surprised me. One of her friends thought it was a clock.

Well, her toy compass isn't really a compass. So I asked her if she'd like to see a real compass. I showed her how the little bar always points north if you hold the compass still.

Now she's watching movies that have compasses in them. She started with Little Bear and the North Pole, and now she's watching Pirates of the Caribbean.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Ellie and I watched the Serenity movie this afternoon. It's based on my current favorite television science fiction show of all time Firefly.

Linda and I had watched the movie earlier in the week, so this was my second time. I took the time to watch the extra scenes, bloopers, and other bonus material. There was an introduction by Joss Whedon, who noted just how unlikely an event this movie is.

Firefly was almost immediately cancelled by its network. There were only 13 or 14 episodes ever filmed. Failed TV shows don't become movies. Period. But this one did.

Fans bought the shows on DVD, and they fell in love with the world. Somehow, improbably, that blossomed into a movie. That's really something.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Is this cool?

So, everyone knows that I have several lights in the house that are controlled by remote, because I've written about it before. We try to get in the habit of turning on the bathroom and bedroom light for Linda before she goes to bed, just so she doesn't have to walk in the dark. But we forget.

She almost always checks her email before she gets ready for bed. So the solution? If it is after 9pm when Linda closes the lid of her laptop, the laptop tells the lights to turn on. She can't forget.

I'm still here

No blog posts in a while. You might say I took a vacation from blogging. That's true, but it's about the only thing I took a vacation from. I've pretty much been as busy during break as when school is in session (at least the less hectic weeks of school).

New Year's eve

We went to Des Moines for the day on New Year's eve. Linda was against it, because we'd already seen everyone at Thanksgiving and traveling is a pain. But we went anyway.

Traveling was a pain. Most of it is OK, except stopping to go to the bathroom. We're always stiff after sitting in the car, and accommodations vary in terms of convenience. People don't go out of their way to make things easier, like the woman at McDonald's who grabbed the only handicap-accessible bathroom stall even though she saw Linda walking to the door. I hope she gets boils on her ass.

Ellie enjoyed playing with her cousin Gwyn. They are almost the same age, and, being 4, the quality of play can be good or bad. But this time it was good. Ellie didn't want to go home. She suggested that I take Linda home first and then come back and get her. It would have been a very reasonable suggestion if we hadn't been so far from home.

The turbine in Violette hall

Room 2220 in Violette sounds like it has heavy machinery in it. It is the new computer that Math and CS ordered. When I turned it on for the first time, it reminded my strongly of a Hoover. I had it in my office for a couple of days while it was being set up, and two different people called me at home to say that something might be wrong in there. I feel bad for my student worker who will work in that office.

The server came on Thursday, and I've worked really hard to get things running perfectly on it. I wanted to have it ready before classes start. It was originally scheduled to arrive when I still had the help of students, but it was delayed. I felt much better after Tuesday when I had it all running smoothly.

The auto-what?

Linda and I went to Rusk yesterday so she could be evaluated to use the autoambulator. That's a big sort of exoskeleton that attaches to your legs and moves them in a natural walking motion across a treadmill. Linda had tried it when she was still at Rusk as an inpatient. At the time, she didn't feel like she was far enough along for it to be as helpful as other things.

Now that she's stronger, it seems like a more reasonable therapy. So we'll be making the drive to Columbia once a week to do it.

As always, it was nice to see the nurses and therapists that we know. Linda remarked that it is much easier pushing a wheelchair around than she remembers (we used her chair so she wouldn't be tired out before she did her eval).

In the eval, the therapist asked Linda what kind of equipment she uses at home. He was astounded to learn that she has her own set of parallel bars. Our girl takes her rehabilitation seriously.

The eval went pretty well, I think. In many ways, it was just to set a baseline. If you measure improvement after doing the therapy, that justifies during more if you think it would continue to help.

It was also useful to be evaluated by a different person, because they ask you to do unusual things. Some of them were easy for Linda, but a few were hard and she has new ideas for practice.

Last big project

I completed my last big winter break project. I updated the software in our classroom computers with the help of one of the members of ITS. I had it very streamlined, but there are inevitable glitches, so it still took a while. It was good to get around in the classrooms, because we discovered several that had non-working equipment in them. I do a lot of my work via the network, so those kinds of issues aren't always apparent.

It was tiring work. Tomorrow I think I'm going to do something that doesn't require being in the office.