Friday, May 23

Week One

Today marked one week that we have been at Magee.  With new admissions coming in throughout the week, we have already lost our new patient status.  Over these past couple of months we have become used to transitions and change.  The transition to Magee has been wonderful.  The staff is knowledgable, caring and truly enjoys working here.  Jackie’s treatment is uniquely catered to him and the importance of routine and daily schedules is key.  Jackie has always done well when there is a ‘plan’ for the day, so this environment is just what he needs.

Jackie woke up ready for breakfast.  Not a surprise as his appetite has been very healthy.  Much to his excitement, there were 4 large freshly made pancakes under the cover of his breakfast plate.  With the help of extra syrup he ate all of them.  Jackie and I like to joke that just like in the movie ‘Elf’, syrup is one of our favorite food groups.  The plate of pancakes also reminded me of the times his buddies would sleep over at our place and I would make them pancakes when they woke up. I know it is good to stay focused on the present, but it felt good to think back to those wonderful memories.

Jackie had an eye exam this morning at 10:00am so his Speech therapy was going to be split into two half hour sessions.   Because Jackie is still having some pain while sitting in his wheelchair, we decided that it was best to have the first half of his session in bed.  While Becca was working with him, I was sitting close by.  As I heard him struggle to answer some of her short term memory questions, my mind started to wonder down the path of ‘why’ and sadness.  I quickly had to change my mindset as I knew if I didn’t tears would start to flow and that would not be good for Jackie.  TBI recovery is a marathon not a sprint.  We will get there!

Shortly after the session was over we hoisted Jackie back into his chair and  headed to the eye exam in the gym.  There is an office there where eye docs come in for visits,  it was confirmed that one of Jackie’s eyes is lazy.  We are working on correcting it by placing a special lens cover on his glasses.  This should hopefully allow the brain to start using the eye more.  We went right from the exam to PT.  Jackie is getting stronger at going from the wheelchair to the PT mat. This is still all assisted by the therapists, but I can tell he is starting to use more of his strength to assist.  One goal of the session was to stretch out Jackie’s back by getting him on his stomach.  A challenge with that is his feeding tube; however, with the help of pillows Jackie was comfortably turned over.  He stayed that way for a couple minutes and then was turned again for more stretching.  Jackie has been verbalizing that he wants to walk, so Erin and Paula got him into the main area of the room, took a side and with their help Jackie took more steps than he has ever taken.  PTL.  Granted, he is far from walking on his own, but every baby step gets us closer to the real thing.  Even though Jackie was exhausted and sore, he keeps trying hard and I know this little stroll was just what he needed to mentally keep pushing in a positive direction.

When we got back to the room, lunch was waiting.  Actual chicken salad sandwiches awaited consumption.  Jackie finished almost one of the two sandwiches on his tray when Becca came in to finish up his Speech therapy for the day.  To Jackie’s surprise she had purchased a Philly soft pretzel at the train station on the way in and assisted as Jackie ate the entire thing!  As he was eating he said the words ‘Jim Junior’, this did not make sense to Becca but made us laugh.  Jim absolutely loves Philly soft pretzels so Jackie now felt that since he finally ate one he could be Jim’s Jr.  Jackie finished up a little bit more of his lunch and then went back to bed for a short nap – definitely needed.

Before long it was back out of bed, in the wheelchair and back to the gym for OT.  Paula sat him on the side of the mat and with help from another therapist, he sat on the edge and engaged in some motor skill and mind exercises leaning on a table.  This position helps to strengthen his torso and neck. Erin stopped by and together with Paula, brainstormed another chair option for Jackie.  The pain he was experiencing in the chair needed to be resolved.  We headed back to the room and moved Jackie back in bed.  He fell asleep quickly.  During his nap, Paula came back in the room and switched out his old wheelchair for a different one.  They moved Jackie out of bed and it seemed to be less painful for him.  He went back to bed and fell sleep quickly.  We let him sleep a little past his dinner time in order to get some needed R&R.

He was still tired after he woke up from his nap, but managed to eat a large portion of his dinner.  We wheeled him into the community room for a half hour after eating, then it was time for a shower and bed.  We used the shower table again.  Jackie seems to love the feel of warm water on his body.  Who wouldn’t after having so many bed baths. We got him back in bed for the night.

The marathon for Jackie continues, and we consistently feel your love and support at each mile marker.  Thank you for everything – the positive thoughts, prayers, support and love.