Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update, Nov. 4, 2008

Paul's hard work is paying off and he is now practicing walking with a platform walker, which is a regular walker with an attachment that serves as a forearm rest for his right arm. Until now, the therapists had him using an EVA support walker, a larger walker with wheels that supported Paul's weight and helped more with his balance. The platform walker is forcing Paul to really balance. While he is progressing during his theraphy sessions, the reality is that outside of his therapy sessions and practicing walking, he requires a wheelchair.

I also am including this photo of Buzz and Paul during a visit to Pate last Saturday. I am so proud of Buzz. He is always excited to visit Paul, gives him lots of hugs while we are there, and cheers Paul on when he is practicing his walking and talking.

I also want to thank the staff and parents at St. Patrick's (Buzz's school) and everyone from Buzz's soccer team. The outpouring of generosity and kindness from the school and the community, in general, has been overwhelming and made such a difference in helping us get through this. I feel like almost everywhere we go, people go out of their way to look out for Buzz. Buzz seems oblivious to all of this but I know it has helped all of us cope.

Thank you again,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October 22 - Paul Moves Up

Paul has been promoted to Hilltop, another building within Pate Rehab. Most of the residents at Hilltop are self-sufficient and don't need as much care as Paul, who still requires supervision and maximal assistance. However, it definitely is a step forward for Paul and very positive mentally and emotionally. The house is bigger and cheerier and, instead of just a bedroom, Paul now has an efficiency-like apartment with a sitting area, washer and dryer, mini-refrigerator, and his own bathroom.

He seems very happy about the move and already has started entertaining, with visitors last night. He even did a little disco dancing from his chair to some '70's soul music.

He continues to vigorously work on his walking. On Sunday, we took him to the park and he insisted on walking so, with assistance from my brother on one side and my brother-in-law on his other side, he walked probably, all together, half a block. Balance is still a major issue but he continues to get stronger and improve his cadence. I was so proud of him though because he kept wanting to walk farther, even though it was obviously very difficult and exhausting.

We invite you to come visit on the weekends. Now that Paul has two-hour passes, there are times when we might be off campus so if you plan on visiting, please let me know via e-mail (patty.jerde@yahoo.com).

Thank you, everyone, for accompanying on this journey.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pics from the Mexican restaurant outing :-)

Pete and Paul and a chip.

Yum. Where are my enchiladas?

Peter, Paul and Mary. Oops, I mean Patty, Paul and Mary.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Update - Oct. 14

Paul took his first official outing from Pate on Sunday and it went great. My sister, Mary, Willie Baronet, Pete Lacker, and I all accompanied Paul to a Mexican food restaurant in "downtown" Anna. We were able to go as Paul now has daily two-hour passes that allow him to leave the Pate compound. I was a little nervous because I wasn't sure how Paul would react (prior to this we had driven around and gone to Sonic but never actually taken him out of the car). He is getting stronger every day so transferring him from the wheelchair to the car was very easy. I think he was a little nervous but we got to the restaurant early so we were the only customers, the service was quick, and the food was good. He was in a great mood and laughing as we talked. I think he was sad to have to go back to Pate but, eventually, the passes will be for longer and, when he is ready, we can bring him home for visits. I hesitate to do that now because I think going back to rehab would be really hard for him. In time, I expect that he'll have a better understanding of why it is important that he stays there and continues to work hard.

Although his ability to speak is slow in coming, Paul has gotten better about spelling out words on a laminated letter board and by writing on a dry erase board, both of which we keep with us at all times. He doesn't always spell correctly but so far has communicated with the board both by spelling out one word or whole sentences. On Thursday, Beth was visiting with him, they were sitting outside, and he spelled out "jacket" to let her know that he was cold. On Friday, he spelled out, "How long will you be..." and before he could finish, I guessed the last word was "staying." I was so happy (for both of us) that he was able to communicate because I can't imagine how trapped and scared he must feel. In fact, he has spelled out "fear" when we've asked how he is feeling. He still is sad a lot though he also, more and more, gets that determined look on his face, makes a fist, and seems ready to take on the world. In addition to walking in his daily physical therapy sessions, the staff at the house helps him practice walking every night. This seems to ease his agitation, calm him down, and boost his confidence. Each time, after he walks, he insists on giving everyone involved a big hug and seems very proud.

We also constantly give Paul pep talks to keep him focused on what he can do and on what he will do, instead of what he can't do. Please keep praying for him and thank you all for your support.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday, Oct. 3

Life at Pate continues for Paul. He is really working hard on building up his leg endurance with several therapy sessions daily that include pedaling exercises, a standing frame (which assists Paul in standing for long periods of time), exercises in the pool, and walking with assistance and a walker. On his own, he also builds strength by using his legs to mobilize his wheelchair.

He also recieves occupational therapy daily, where the focus is on his right arm and hand. Unfortunately, the movement of his right arm and hand are affected by ossification of the muscle, which means some of the muscle tissue has ossified (turned to bone cartilage). His therapist continually works on the range of motion and has made progress but, right now, Paul is not able to use his right hand. As he is right-handed, this can be a problem but he seems to be adjusting fairly well to using his left hand.

Paul's biggest hurdle right now is the apraxia and his inability to talk. He can often repeat words but has a hard time communicating his own thoughts and messages. This is very frustrating for him as he seems to know exactly what he wants to say but, as soon as he begins talking, the words that he wants to come out, don't come out. At least that is what we believe. The obvious solution would be to write down his messages, however the aphasia has affected his ability to write as well. His speech includes repeating words and sounds, practicing writing, and even exercsises and programs on the computer designed specifically for patients with brain injuries. Of course, he has to maneuver the mouse with his left hand (akward) and left click, since it is a PC as opposed to a MAC. I'm pretty sure that he has an aversion to working on a PC because he almost always seems disgruntled during his computer sessions, although he succeeds well on the exercises.

All around, he is making progress but it is a slow process and we expect him to be at Pate for awhile. We feel that Paul is beginning to realize the bigger picture in that something drastic has happened to him. He gets very sad at times, which is to be expected, and angry. However, he also seems to realize that his hard work helps his recovery and will accelerate his being able to come home. As we've all known about Paul, determination is one of his greatest traits and it is beginning to show through once again.

We encourage people to come on the weekends as Paul has a lot of free time and seems to benefit from visiting with friends. Please send me an e-mail if you plan to come out.

On a related note, Paul's sister, Beth, has moved to Dallas from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to help me take care of Paul and of Buzz. (My mother and sisters helped with Buzz all summer but once school started and Buzz and I moved home, things became a little more complicated.) It has been wonderful having Beth here. She is great with Buzz and makes the drive to Anna almost as often as I do, which has allowed me to spend more time with Buzz as well. Now she is looking for work. She has an extensive background that includes program management, teaching, training people, grants administration and PR. So, if you hear or know of any openings (full, part-time, or even seasonal) she is immediately available and open to almost anything, please e-mail her at bjerde55@hotmail.com.

Thank you again for all of your support,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Paul's haircut #3

Patty, Paul, Jim (Paul's brother) and Beth (Paul's sister, shortly after Paul got his 3rd haircut since the accident. And yes, I'm the one using the clippers. :-)

Keep sending cards and letters!

Love and blessings,