Checking off milestones
Day three of rehab was upon us. Jackie woke up hungry so we dove into our new normal routine. We hoisted him out of bed into his chair. He had a big breakfast, still eating double portions of the puréed meals. You always hear how good nutrition can make such a difference, I am seeing that first hand. We struggled for so long with Jackie’s nutritional intake. Now that he is consuming what he should, it is amazing the positive impact it has on his body.
After he eats, we need to keep Jackie in a sitting position for at least thirty minutes. Today we moved him back in bed and sat him up in preparation for another milestone. Our doc came in and within minutes Jackie’s pic line was out. PTL. He had just finished up his last of many antibiotics so keeping the pic line in any longer was just creating another risk for infection. It is so nice not to have the double IV ports hanging out of his arm. The site had to constantly stay sterile and could not get wet. Day by day, mile by mile we are getting there.
His Speech therapy was going to be split into two half hour sessions today. His first session started at 10:30, so it gave Jackie a little extra time to rest after his pic line was pulled. Before we knew it he was back in his chair and working with Becca. His new helmet still seems to be a point of focus for Jackie. This helmet is still much better than his original. I think the fact that his head still itches doesn’t help. His session went by quickly but ended up with some singing and snapping to YouTube videos. Becca would be back at noon with a chicken salad sandwich for Jackie to try.
Erin came and got Jackie right away and we headed to the gym for PT. To our surprise, she had reserved Magee’s therapy dog to start out Jackie’s session. To say the least we were all thrilled and so happy. If you remember, the therapy dogs were not permitted to come into Jackie’s room in the hospital, so the opportunity for Jackie to fully engage with a dog was wonderful. The gym is a busy place full of many voices and noises. Erin took us back to the quiet room and Joey and her Mom followed. Joey, like Visa the therapy dog from the hospital looked like a small black lab, but she also was part Golden Retriever. Once we got into the room, the magic happened. Jackie was moved from the wheelchair to the mat and Joey laid in Jackie’s arms right beside him. I cried. We have all been missing our Golden Retriever and to be able to see Jackie actually touch and feel a dog made a world of difference, you could see it in his face. It was like for that moment his injury was nonexistent and he was happy and relaxed. We ultimately had to say goodbye, but plan to see Joey again. We are also hoping to bring our Golden for a visit soon. There was work to be done, so Erin finished out the session with stretches and getting Jackie to a standing position.
Next up, back to the room for a chicken salad sandwich. Jackie was tired, but ready for the chance to eat real food, He successfully ate all of the sandwich and also ate a sliced pear. He is scheduled for another swallow test Thursday morning at 9:30am. The result of the test will determine if Jackie can advance off the puréed diet, After Becca left, Jackie ate almost his entire regular puréed lunch tray of food. Jackie’s back was bothering him so we moved him back into bed to rest.
By 2:00 he was up again, in the wheelchair and headed to the gym for OT. As we were wheeling into the gym, Paula was starting to come out to find us. Paula is really working on Jackie’s neck, he favors one side and it is weak, each day we are seeing improvements. Jackie then experienced another milestone, he released and threw a ball. Knowing Jackie played b-ball, Paula gave Jackie a small ball and had a net. He made a couple baskets while sitting and then Paula moved him to a standing position to shoot again. Even though assisted, seeing him stand brings such wonderful hope for recovery. We had been working on this for a couple weeks. Another milestone was reached and this time there was a new pair of sunglasses on the line. They can now be ordered and shipped to Magee.
It was getting close to dinner, but we still moved Jackie back to bed to catch a quick nap. After eating a good meal, we wheeled Jackie into the community room. Jim and I are a quick bite for dinner. Not long after, we went back into Jackie’s room and got him ready for a shower, we used the same shower table as last time. Jackie was comfy and clean. We moved him back into bed and after getting some meds and trach care he was ready for the night. His trach is still capped, so he was prepped for a pulse ox study. A probe was taped to his toe for continuous recording of his oxygenation level throughout the night. The results of the test will determine next steps and timing of trach removal. It can’t be quick enough for any of us.
Setting and defining goals are important and can play a role in all of our lives, the key is staying strong and on course. There will be many milestones we strive to achieve during Jackie’s marathon to recovery and Magee will help us check them off the list one at a time.