Saturday, November 8 – Sunday, November 9

Weekend Update

It was a busy weekend. Jackie had therapies and visitors both days. Saturdays Rec therapy with Jenna was pushed from the morning to the afternoon so Jackie could play Wii with the other patient his age. We have a lot in common with his family and both Jackie and him have been on school golf teams. The two played Wii golf and a little bit of bowling. It was a great session. On Sunday, Jenna and Jackie had their bowling rubber match. Jenna won by just a couple pins, but Jackie rallied back when they versed each other in golf.

Jackie’s therapy sessions focused on stretching and checks on his cast. He had two sessions on Saturday and one on Sunday. He ate well, napped and of course watched sports. He managed to stay awake until the end of the Flyers game on Saturday night and then fell asleep.

Between both days Jackie enjoyed the company of many relatives and a few friends. I love seeing him sit back and listen to the banter of family conversations. Even though it is tiring, I can tell he loves it as it keeps his mind off of where he is and the routine days he has come to accept. As with most of our visitors who haven’t seen Jackie in a while, they are pleasantly surprised to see his progress. PTL Jackie still has many miles to go on this journey, but is finally taking positive strides that I believe he can even see himself.

Sunday night was a busy one. Jackie needed a haircut and Jim decided to try out his barbering skills. Considering it was the first buzz cut he has given, it turned out really well. It was like a full service shop as Jackie also got a shave from his Dad. Then it was time for a shower and bed. It was the end of a very good weekend and was time to get some rest for the start of an even busier week.

I hope you could enjoy some laughs with family or friends this past weekend. I also hope you continue to appreciate even the smallest things in your lives. As Jackie continues to struggle with purposeful movement in his left arm, he often needs help scratching an occasional itch on his right arm. This makes me think about how I used to lose sight of the simple joys that we experience every day and just don’t notice. Like being able to scratch our own itches or get dressed without help. Every minute of our lives is a gift, sometimes we just move too fast to realize it.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
~Lao Tzu


Friday, November 7

Appetite For Recovery

Jackie’s appetite continues to increase.  PTL This morning he ate oatmeal and then ate some pancakes and three homemade chocolate chip cookies.  I really didn’t think Jackie was going to be able to have any of the cookies, but Becca decided to give them a try and Jackie did well.  They are still not approved for his diet, but tasting ‘real’ food is  such a wonderful treat for him.

After breakfast and speech Jackie had an art therapy session and then headed to PT.  Once again limited by his cast, Erin did a lot of stretching and made sure the cast was ok.  She put the walking boot on which made things easier to transfer Jackie from place to place.

Jackie ate a big lunch, in fact he ate double portions of soft meat. PTL  Keeping Jackie on the soft diet, may be a little boring for him but it has allowed him to build up his eating endurance.  Soft foods take less energy to chew and they have allowed him to regain confidence in his swallowing function.

He rested after he was done eating and then headed to OT.  Paula did a lot of stretching especially on Jackie’s left arm, which was very, very tight.  She also made a new custom brace to bridge Jackie until the one that is ordered comes in.

Jackie watched some ESPN and ate a magnum prior to dinner.  He then ate a good meal, got a shower and went to bed.  I feel that not only is Jackie’s food appetite increasing but so is his appetite for recovery.  PTL He is getting stronger with each day and I hope he is starting to believe that some day there will be a finish line that he will cross, not in a wheelchair but with his own two feet.

“It is often your deepest pain which empowers you to grow to your highest self.”
~Karen Salmonsohn


Thursday, November 6

Cast Back On

It was one of those mornings that I wish I could have let Jackie sleep in. He is woken up three times during the night for nursing checks or meds so getting him up for the day is hard especially if he is sleeping soundly, and today was one of those mornings. By the time he dressed, received morning meds and talked with Dr. K it was almost time for speech. He had jut started eating when Becca came in. She finished breakfast with him and then worked with him on clear pronunciation. She gave him pictures and without her looking, he had to describe the picture so she could guess what it was. Becca could understand most of what Jackie was saying and coached him to speak clearer and louder for the words she couldn’t understand. This may seem somewhat elementary, but is proof that Jackie’s verbalization is coming back. PTL

It was now time for PT and the team decided another cast was needed to continue to stretch the muscles in the left leg to the proper position. This cast will stay on until Tuesday and then will be cut off and used as a brace. We were now back to using the power lift again for the first 24 hours as Jackie was not to put any weight on the left leg.

Jackie was hungry and couldn’t wait until the lunch trays were brought up to the floor so he had a Magnum ice cream bar as an appetizer and then ate his lunch. He rested but did not sleep and then got ready for OT.

Paula finished her evaluation of the new left arm brace and decided to move forward with placing an order. The brace will really help Jackie’s left arm and hand stay in a position to help relax the muscles that continue to be tight and pull up the arm. Paula also worked with Jackie on his fine motor skills as they worked on a writing project together.

Back at the room Jackie wanted to watch ESPN prior to dinner. After he ate we helped him get in bed early since we wanted to elevate his new cast. Jackie fell asleep watching the Flyers.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”       ~Helen Keller


Wednesday, November 5


This morning Jackie saw Dr. K, got dressed and ate breakfast all before Becca arrived for speech. The two went to her office and continued to focus on everything speech related. I remember when Jackie told me in his neurosurgeon’s office that he wanted to talk but he couldn’t. There are many things contributing to his renewed speech and Becca is a big part of bringing back his voice. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be able to hear and understand what Jackie is saying. PTL

After a week hiatus Jackie was able to work with Lori again, Magee’s Art Therapist. The last time Lori worked with Jackie he did not feel like doing anything so they sat at the big bay window and looked outside with Lori doing most of the talking. Today was different. Jackie chose to use watercolors and was back to painting a fishing scene. PTL Jim and Jackie fished a lot when Jackie was growing up and the fact that he creates this scene over and over again tells me how much these times meant to him. Lori was amazed at Jackie’s voice and participation in the conversation. It was a great session!

PT with Erin was next. As with every session, stretching is key. By the end of the session Erin helped Jackie walk in the gym without the help of the wall. PTL Lunch and a rest were next on the schedule.

During OT, Paula tried out a new brace for Jackie’s left arm which will replace both his elbow and hand brace. She wants to ensure it will work and be beneficial before ordering one that will be made specifically for Jackie. She also stretched some of Jackies muscles. Keeping his muscles loose is an ongoing battle. As with everything time should help. Reinforcing my three Ps, prayer, positive thoughts and patience.

Immediately after OT Jackie had his meeting with his mentor. She surprised Jackie and brought some frozen yogurt from the cafe. We left the room so they could spend some time together. Jackie seems to enjoy talking with her especially because she can relate to most everything he is going through. After her visit Jackie had a big dinner and then showered and got in bed early.

Jackie’s marathon to recovery continues. His perseverance gets him through each day and is turning into positive progress. PTL

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”
~Newt Gingrich


Tuesday, November 4

Keeping Up With The Pace

Today started with ADLs. Paula and Jackie worked on getting dressed and getting ready for the day.  Jackie continues to improve, but is still limited by the lack of purposeful movement on his left side.  Becca stopped by to check in.  She decided to have her session with Jackie at lunch since Paula had already assisted him with his meal set up. Jackie finished his breakfast in the room and then we went to the terrace for fresh fall air and Vitamin D.

Jackie spent his PT session on the Vector.  He really enjoys these work outs and pushes himself each time.  His left foot movement is still sluggish.  He is getting close but still cannot purposefully move his left foot past the right foot.  On a positive note his posture and trunk control are getting much better.  PTL

Lunch was next and Becca continues to test different foods with Jackie.  For now he remains on his soft food diet and seems to eat more with each meal. PTL  After taking some meds he laid down for a short rest.  The time went quickly and before long he was in OT where stretching was a focus.

Within minutes of getting back to the room, there was a knock on the door, it was Visa and her human mom Jane.  They had spent a good part of the day at Jefferson and were finishing up with us.  One of the places Visa visits is the surgical waiting rooms.  As we know all too well, these rooms are filled with many anxious and worried people.  Jane said she usually walks Visa around the room and can sense who would like to pet her. Then they circle back and provide needed canine comfort and conversation. Jackie always enjoys her company and just petting her relaxes him and always makes him smile.

Dinner was next then ESPN then bed. Jackie was tired, he worked hard and now it was time to rest and recharge.  As you go through your day, take a moment to realize and be thankful for your blessings, both physically and emotionally.  You just may find that many days that you think are bad, are actually good.

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”
~Charles Spurgeon


Monday, November 3

Cast Off

This morning Jackie was awake earlier than usual. I think his hunger was getting the best of him. We helped Jackie get out of bed and I made his oatmeal. Dr. K stopped in and introduced us to his new resident. They switch every couple months. This will be the third resident we have worked with during Jackie’s stay, so far they have all been very good.

Jackie ate his oatmeal quickly and was almost finished by the time Becca came in the room. They moved to Becca’s office and they worked with Jackie’s phone and did other speech exercises. He spent some time with other patients after speech and Jim and I also had a couple minutes to hang out with him prior to PT.

Jackie went into the gym with his cast on and came out with it off. The therapists carefully cut the cast off in two pieces. The pieces are then used as a splint during the night. This helps Jackie’s muscles stay stretched in the position originally forced by the cast. Depending on how Jackie’s PT sessions go the rest of the week, another cast may be put on to stretch his muscles so his ankle can get to an even better position for walking.

Since Jackie already had his speech session, Jim, Jackie and I ate lunch in the room together. Jackie receives four main nutritional supplements a day. Two of the supplements can either be reduced or eliminated based on how well he eats his lunch and dinner. Daily caloric intake also comes into play. Today Jackie ate enough during his lunch and dinner that he did not need two of the four supplements. PTL

Paula was off site teaching so Jackie had OT with Kate. Jackie worked with her once or twice before. She focused the session on stretching. Since Jackie knows mostly all of the therapists, they sometimes come over and say hi or strike up a small conversation with him while he is in the gym.

We decided fresh air would be good, so we went out to the second floor terrace for a Magnum snack. The ice cream treat served as an appetizer before dinner. Jackie ate a decent amount of food but with each passing bite got more tired. We decided it was time for a shave, shower and then bed. Jackie fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Sunday, November 2

Working Hard Through The Weekend

A recurring theme is starting to occur every morning. Jackie wakes up hungry and is ready for his oatmeal or should I say brown sugar with a little oatmeal. He has acquired my elf like cravings for sugar.

The day was packed with three therapies all before noon. Jackie was able to finish his oatmeal just prior to the start of his first session. Brian, OT, came to pick up Jackie. Brian said they played the NBA matching game and Jackie did well. His reaching and balance were good. Brian also noticed that Jackie is starting to initiate and verbalize more. PTL

The music started playing over the intercom in the hallways as it always does at the top of each hour at Magee. It is a signal to the nurses and therapy staff that sessions should be ending and new ones beginning and that meds may possibly be due. We did not see Jackie so went to the gym to check on him. We saw Brian and he said that Jenna had already taken him for his Recreational therapy session. We have always tagged along, but today we decided to stay back. Jenna took Jackie to the fifth floor to play pinball. Jackie had a fun time and when we asked him if he wanted us to go with him anymore, he said no. This is a great sign of independence. PTL Jenna and Jackie’s bowling rubber match will have to wait until next weekend.

Jackie had a small break and then it was time for PT. One of the full time staffers was working today and came to the room to pick him up. Jackie has never worked with her before but we know she is good. They had a great session with most of the focus on stretching. The therapists all know Jackie by now and she was prepared to play some tunes during their workout.

As it was noon, Jackie received some meds and nutrition. Jim also ran to the cafe and bought some soft serve frozen yogurt. Jackie enjoyed a large serving before going to bed for a nap. Initially he was watching the Eagles game but then started to nod off. We were happy to see him sleep for once during this time of day and we let him stay in bed longer than we normally would on week days.

Once awake Jackie was hungry. After meds and nutrition he ate a good portion of his dinner tray. PTL He also finished his banana whip from last night. After watching some football, Jackie was back in bed. We took a break from watching sports to talk with Lindsay and Florent.  He is starting to speak a little more during the conversations.  I love his new laugh and could listen to it over and over again.

Jackie then continued watching football for the rest of the night before he fell asleep. He had worked hard this weekend.  I think he is starting to realize that he is getting stronger and wants to keep moving forward. PTL

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”
~Gail Devers


Saturday, November 1

Wii Good Time

Jackie woke up hungry. PTL He was ready for breakfast and the start of the day. At 10:00am he had Recreational therapy and once again chose to play the Wii. Jenna always offers other options, but the Wii wins out every time. Last weekend Jenna beat Jackie in bowling, today Jackie won so the rubber match is on for the next time they are together.

The day was cold and rainy. We couldn’t go out on the terrace so decided to stay in, watch some TV and snack. Jackie enjoyed some soft cut up fruit and of course a Magnum bar. After his nutrition and meds he rested in bed and watched some of the PSU game.

Before long it was time to get up and ready for PT. Since Jackie’s cast decreases his mobility, the session was focused solely on stretching. We enjoyed seeing and catching up with Karen, Marks wife who occasionally works on the weekends. There was just enough time to play some Wii after the session and prior to dinner. We took our system over to the big family room and the boys played bowling, golf and tennis while I finished up some laundry. Jim and I teamed up against Jackie for the last game of bowling and he ended up beating us with a strike and a spare in the last frame.

Jackie’s dinner tray had arrived and he ate a little bit. He gets some nutrition and meds at 4pm so his appetite is not that big. Jackie was starting to tire out so Jim helped him in the shower and then we moved him to bed. While Jackie was showering our take out food arrived. Part of the order was banana whips. Even though Jackie was already in bed, he wanted some. We elevated his bed position and gave him a couple bites to satisfy his hunger and desire for the treat. After watching a little bit of football and the Flyers, Jackie fell asleep.

Weekends can sometimes seem long, but today went quickly. It was a busy but good day. PTL

“The utility of adversity is to draw inspiration, wisdom and strength from it.”
~ Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha


Friday, October 31

Happy Halloween

The fourth floor of Magee looked like a fairy tale land. Many of the staffers and some of the patients dressed up in fairy tale costumes. We decided to join in the festivities. With supplies from Grandma and Grandpa and crafting help from Nana we created t-shirts depicting the Three Little Pigs. We ordered pig noses online but two never made it on time. The one that did broke within a couple minutes. It didn’t matter, we wore our shirts and had some fun.

Becca stopped in with Jackie’s breakfast tray. Much to Jackie’s surprise, when she opened the lid, the plate was filled with bugs and a rat, plastic of course. We all had a good laugh. It was a great Halloween prank and also got us back for the silly string gag on her. They went to Becca’s office to finish the session. Becca had a bucket of candy and on the way to her office, she wanted Jackie to loudly ask people if they wanted any. They hid the plastic rat under the candy pile and shared even more laughs.

Erin was dressed as one of the three blind mice. She picked up Jackie and they had a good workout in the gym, despite the fact that the cast limits what they can do. Jackie worked up an appetite and ate a good lunch with Jim and I in the room. He was definitely tired from all of the mornings activities so we helped him into bed for a nap. He did not sleep but rested well and enjoyed listening to the conversation between Jim and I and a good friend of Jim’s from high school who stopped by for a visit.

Paula was off so another one of the Three Blind Mice, better known as Natalie, came to the room to pick up Jackie for OT. They stretched and also had a good workout. As the weather is getting colder, we decided to head to the second floor terrace for a Magnum snack. Even though we had hoodies and blankets, the fall air felt nice. When we returned to the room we talked with Lindsay for a short while. It is always a highlight of Jackie’s day and ours!

Jackie had a dinner tray delivered to the floor and he decided he would rather eat in the room than down in the cafeteria. I’m thinking a big part of his decision was due to the fact that he was tired. It had been a very busy, but fun day. He went to bed early and watched TV before nodding off.

I hope you were able to put the stressors of the day behind you and find some type of Halloween fun. Relish each day and laugh often.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
~Dr. Seuss


Thursday, October 30

Enduring Determination

Today Jackie was able to stay in bed longer than usual. He was having a routine test done that required him to be laying down. Because he has been through so much, minor tests, that would cause all of us to get anxious, don’t bother him and he completes them without complaining.

Erin popped in a little before her PT session with Jackie was supposed to start. She had a new tool for Jackie’s bed that would help us position him easier and would also benefit his skin. We will be able to take this home with us when that day comes. As soon as we were done testing it out, Erin took Jackie to the gym. Besides the normal PT workout, Erin put a walking boot on Jackies cast. Then it was time for lunch. Jackie ate a big lunch and Becca even let him have a Krispy Kreme donut for an appetizer. PTL The donuts were a treat from Jackie’s cousins visit the day before.

It was too late for a nap so Jackie stayed in his chair until it was time for OT. The session went well with Paula and we helped Jackie get in bed for a late nap. He was tired.

Becca had ordered a dinner tray for Jackie, so the three of us ate in his room. He finished his meal with a Magnum bar thanks to a new supply dropped off by one of Jackie’s college friends Mom and her sister. They live close and have been picking up some things for us. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful family and network of friends that continues to grow. PTL

Jackie got a shave and shower and then went to bed. We all watched a little TV and then Jackie said, “I have a craving for a Magnum.” Jim and I laughed and laughed.

A little bit later, when Jackie was falling asleep, he and I started talking about the future, which is something we don’t do very often. In reality I was talking more than Jackie but he would interject a word or two every now and then. We talked about working to move his left leg more so that he could walk and then we talked about someday transitioning from a wheelchair to a walker and then to walking on his own. A couple minutes passed and then Jackie clearly said, “I can’t wait for that day.”

“Life, like classical music, is full of difficult passages that are conquered as much through endurance and determination as through any particular skill.”
~Sheri L. Dew