Wednesday, June 4

Historic Hump Day

Jackie slept well Tuesday night. Not having the nutritional tube feeds running enabled him to sleep in a much more comfortable position.  We still need to alternate wedging his body from side to side every couple hours so that his weight is shifted and not putting pressure on one side of his body for long periods of time. Despite the shifts, he still rested well.

Jackie’s doc stopped in as he usually does first thing in the morning.  As he was talking with Jackie and asking him questions about the Flyers, he quickly took out the feeding tube.  PTL!!!  We knew we were getting close to this day, but did not know it would happen today.  The removal process can feel like someone kicked you in the stomach, but is tolerated better and is less painful if you are not aware it is happening.  If you are aware, typically a patient will tighten their ab muscles and that is even more painful.  Jackie definitely felt pain, but the worst was over and just knowing that the tube was out made things feel better already.  Just like the trach site, a gauze bandage will be worn until the opening gradually heals on its own.  In the last day or two, Jackie was complaining about pain near the site, so the timing of removal could not be better.  Based on the fact that his appetite is strong and he proved he could take his meds orally, it was time to come out. Time for celebration once again!!!  I was able to connect with the art therapist and she helped me create a poster for the door that said, Dr. K made my day…on hump day.  The balloons from Trach out Tuesday were still inflated and I had some fresh Hershey candy to share.  It was going to be a great day!

To put the cherry on top of the day, Jim’s Mom who is temporarily taking care of Jovie, our Golden Retriever, brought her in for another visit.  Today Jovie would be attending speech and physical therapy with Jackie.

Becca came to the room at ten for ST with small dog treats in hand.  The funny thing was that Jovie only took the treats if Jackie gave them to her.  As the therapy session continued, Jovie jumped on the bed with Jackie.  I swear he answered questions better when he was touching her.  The hour went quickly and before we knew it Erin came in the room to take Jackie to the gym for PT.  She was able to get the quiet room in the gym.  This way we could keep Jovie isolated from other patients, in the case of allergies, but Jackie could still enjoy her company.  Just like with Joey the Magee therapy dog, Jovie jumped on the mat with Jackie and watched over him the entire hour.  She sat right beside him as he worked through exercises with Erin.  Of course during rest breaks she snuck in a few kisses which helped fuel Jackie to continue to do his best.  At the end of the session, Jim stayed with Jovie in the room when Jackie went out to the therapy floor to practice assisted walking. Erin even had Jackie try a wheelchair that he could push on his own.  Since Jackie’s left side is still very weak, it was a lot of work for Jackie to move the chair and steer it with only one side of his body.  Since you also need strong torso and neck support this will be something we can work toward.

It was time for lunch after PT.  Jovie stayed In the room while Jackie ate and then after a visit with Nana and John she left.  Nana is going to bring her back for Jackie’s OT session on Friday and then for another short visit on Saturday before heading back home.  We are hoping to have her visit another time or two while Jackie is still at Magee.

As you can imagine, Jackie was exhausted.  He went back in bed to rest and fell fast asleep.  Paula his OT was not going to be able to make his session so another therapist and a therapy student came to the room to pick up Jackie for OT.  This session was going to be a challenge as Jackie was still tired from a very busy morning.  The team of two managed to get Jackie engaged in a game of bean bag toss tic tac toe.  The game kept Jackie awake and also stretched important muscle groups and worked on his sitting balance.

He was now done with all of his therapy for the day and once again got back in bed for a well deserved rest.  Grandma and Grandpa were able to sneak a short visit with Jackie before he fell asleep and then again once he woke up before dinner.  The therapists have explained to us that TBI patients get tired very easily in ways you wouldn’t think of, like just visiting with friends and family or being in a room that has a lot of stimulation or multiple conversations going on.  In order for Jackie to be able to maximize his therapy sessions it is very important to keep the visits to a minimum until after his sessions are over each day.

Dinner was next and Jackie was hungry.  He ate very well and then we decided to go up to the sixth floor terrace to get some fresh air.  It was a wonderful change of scenery and helps to make time go faster for Jackie. When we got back to the room Jackie wanted to get in bed, but it was shower night so we convinced him to shave first.  Jim wheeled him up to the mirror so he could watch.  His helmet was off so Jackie had questions about his appearance.  Jim answered them truthfully and Jackie took it in stride. We told him after his final surgery the shape of his head will be back to normal and his hair will grow back in certain spots as well.  I’m sure we will have more conversations about this until his short term memory begins to improve.  This was the first time we had this conversation and it went well.  There are so many facets to TBI recovery, this is just one of them.

After the shave and shower Jackie was in bed for the night.  It was truly a historic hump day!  Hallelujah!!