Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr. AOW Is Coming Home!

(This post stuck here a few days. Please scroll down)

Previous posts about Mr. AOW's stroke of September 15 are here, here, here, here, and here.

After ten long weeks!

Mr. AOW and I know that we have a lot of difficult times ahead of us. We must keep in mind how bad off he was just a month ago, when he couldn't sit up or swallow thin liquids or even consistently know where he was. Both of us would like for recovery to be more rapid. We'll just have to be patient and persistent in our efforts.
Our living room has been converted into a sick room, complete with a hospital bed expected to arrive this week. Everything else is in place. And Mr. AOW is on fewer medications now than before the stroke!

For the past several days, I've been receiving training at the nursing home, especially as to how to transfer Mr. AOW from wheelchair to bed and vice versa. I use a gait belt, and my weak back is surviving the physical strain without frequent changes in my medication.

Transferring in and out of the car is well nigh impossible for the two of us to accomplish at this point, so we'll be relying on handicapped taxi and other similar services to go on outings, including but not limited to doctors' appointments. Mr. AOW needs to know that there is indeed a world outside a medical-care facility! It's so very easy for a patient and the family to get sucked into the vortex of a medical-care facility. Talk about another reality and disorientation, particularly in a nursing home!

The doctor expects that Mr. AOW will walk again, but "not for a long time." At this point, Mr. AOW is doing special exercises to recover sitting and standing balance, the steps necessary before walking upright. The recovery of use of the left arm and hand is less certain but not impossible. The stroke began in the hand, so the hand would be last to recover.

Both Mr. AOW and I are so grateful for the excellent care he received while in the nursing home! I fought to get that facility for his care, and my efforts paid off. I even fought with the nursing home as to getting him released: having power of attorney and advanced medical directive in place prevented the health-insurance company and the nursing home from forcing us to keep him there as a long-term care resident. A word to the wise: take care of getting those papers in place before the unexpected illness strikes.

We are trying to get into place some services from a home health care agency. Mr. AOW still needs more therapy and an occasional checkup from an RN.

He is worried that he'll have to stay alone, trapped in the living room while I'm at work Tuesdays through Thursdays. One of my friends will do tactile-sequencing therapy every Thursday, but I need to get the other two days covered with regard to checking on Mr. AOW's status and giving him his lunch.

The doctor does expect that Mr. AOW will sleep a lot. The brain needs that sleep for rewiring.

The past ten weeks have seemed like a lifetime for both of us.

Life is good! My husband is coming home in time for Thanksgiving!

Update on November 27 @ 6:00 AM

Yesterday, I wheeled Mr. AOW four doors down our street for our traditional Thanksgiving feast with our dearest neighbors. The folks there lifted Mr. AOW and transport chair up the few steps and into the house. For the first time in over ten weeks, Mr. AOW sat at a formal table and ate a formal meal, complete with china, crystal, and silver flatware. He was able to participate in some of the table conversation without going off track and cracking unrelated joke after joke.

I cannot express how much being able to take part in yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner meant to both of us!

I admit it. I cried afterwards, as did Mr. AOW. For weeks, we thought that a day such as yesterday would never come again.

Both of us slept like logs last night. His first night home, neither Mr. AOW nor I got much sleep.

As for Mr. AOW's recovery, the nursing home and the health-insurance company dropped the ball, and we have no home health care coming in until Sunday, if then. An RN is supposed to pay a visit to check Mr. AOW's vital signs. I'm glad that I had the foresight to buy a glucose meter and a blood pressure cuff. So far, so good.

I will need to venture out today on "Black Friday" [Ugh!] to buy a new arm sling. The sling we were using broke yesterday in one of our struggles from commode chair to bed.

I will also need to call the medical-supply company to come to the house to repair the hospital bed. The part which raises the foot of the bed quit working within a few hours of Mr. AOW's arrival home. **sigh**

Update on November 30 @ 3:37PM

The home health care agency has begun doing evaluation visits. Yesterday, the registered nurse came, today the occupational therapist. The latter is going to focus on the arm and hand. At long last! Previously, therapists have ignored the arm and hand! The physical therapist is due to come on board soon. Once all the therapists are in place, Mr. AOW won't be home alone so much. That coverage will come as a blessed relief.

Also today, thanks to information from one of my homeschool clients, I've found a nearby, just-opened pharmacy which delivers and specializes in home care. This pharmacy carries most of the supportive medical supplies we need, and I've established contact there.

To be honest, the past five days have been exhausting and an emotional roller coaster for both Mr. AOW and me. The biggest stress for both of us is the bathrooming, resulting in the constant humming of washer and dryer. One of my homeschool clients has graciously offered to get us two more sheet sets so that my back can get some rest from the constant treading up and down the stairs to and from the laundry room.

Update on December 7 @ 9:09 AM:

Although I'm still exhausted, Mr. AOW and I are getting into a better routine now. Mr. AOW is also getting stronger, i.e., showing more use of the left leg and having less pain from muscle spasms in both the arm and the leg.

Best of all as far as I'm concerned, bathrooming skills are coming back on board.

Mr. AOW didn't get his outing yesterday to watch the Redskins vs. Saints football game at our local VFW because of the snowfall on Saturday. The ramp was simply too treacherous until late in the day.

One of my former clients stopped by yesterday afternoon and brought us some banana-nut cake as well as some groceries I requested. After shoveling off the ramp and cleaning off the cars, I was too exhausted to venture out to the grocery store.

One matter of great concern: Mr. AOW's blood pressure has started running too high. This morning the top number was 190! I am now waiting for a call back from the family doctor to see if these medications can be tweaked. When Mr. AOW first came home, his blood pressure was under control better than it is now.

Update on December 12 @ 5:30 AM:

On Monday, following my phone call, the family doctor prescribed an additional medication for blood pressure. Mr. AOW's blood pressure is now under control! His pressure was running dangerously close to stroke level, but no more. We are grateful to have an excellent, long-standing family doctor who responds immediately to our calls for help!

Mr. AOW had a breakthrough session with the PT fellow on Thursday and was able to sit unsupported on the edge of the bed for thirty minutes. He also was able to stand with a quad cane, shift weight to the left leg, and keep his balance. These achievements were very emotional for him, and he teared up with tears of joy. Maintaining standing balance with the dangling left arm is difficult but not impossible if the left arm is cradled in a sling. Walking is a complex neurological process, but a few shuffling steps are on the horizon. Once those shuffling steps take place, Mr. AOW can get into the shower chair.

Bathrooming bedside is still an issue. I'll spare readers the details. Suffice it to say that the Brat Diet was necessary because the washer and dryer were running overtime. One of my clients will be bringing yet another set of sheets today so that I have a supply of clean sheets for quick bed changes. I've had a few meltdowns myself in the wee hours of the morning when I've had to do load after load of laundry just to keep up with decent hygiene.

Mr. AOW has some vision issues. On Tuesday, December 15, we'll venture out to the ophthalmologist via handicapped taxi. Mr. AOW is long overdue now for another glaucoma check.

Mr. AOW is staying awake a lot more now. He is getting stronger! He still has some difficulty knowing what day of the week it is; once he sleeps for a while, he awakes thinking it is the next day. His alertness and cognizance have improved enough now for him to play along with various game shows on the Game Show Network, Mr. AOW's favorite TV channel.

Today, one of my former clients is coming over: fried chicken with sides and a fiber-optic Christmas tree for the end table. Mr. AOW has insisted on our having some kind of Christmas tree with lights here in the living room. We don't have room for our usual big tree trimmed with all the many ornaments we've accumulated over the years. Of course, this year I won't be hosting the annual Christmas Eve family buffet and sing-a-long. Weather permitting, Mr. AOW and I will go to a cousin's house for Christmas Eve and our neighbors' house for Christmas dinner.

Mr. AOW's biggest psychological problem: almost all of his friends neither call nor visit. Both he and I are disgusted with their lack of attention. He and I were always "there" for them!

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posted by Always On Watch @ 11/25/2009 12:01:00 PM