Friday, November 21, 2008

Update, Nov. 21 - Paul Gets Closer to Home

Paul took his first trip back to Dallas last Saturday night on an outing to my sister Katie's house in North Dallas. It went great! He seemed to enjoy the drive and appreciate being back in familiar territory. Transporting him was easy as there is only one step to get into the house. From the car, he got in the wheelchair but when we got to the step, we helped him walk up the step, into the house, and to a chair in the living room.

Not everyone in my family was there but we still had 7 adults and 5 kids. We figure this is good practice for Thanksgiving, when the head count will double. It was a nice visit. He had a long conversation (via the letter board) with my sister about William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury." I'm not really sure how it came about, sometimes the topics he wants to cover come out of nowhere, but he definitely remembered reading the book and all the details and meanings behind the plot. Dinner went well too but shortly after we ate, the kids started to get a little rowdy and the noise level rose quite a bit. Paul let us know that he was ready to go.

As I've said before, he still gets confused and often spells out that he feels out of it, scrambled, or scared. The neuropsychologist at Pate has said that this is a good thing because Paul is moving toward comprehending the bigger picture, that something has happened and his life is out of whack. Apparently, many traumatic brain injury patients never even reach that point.

Little by little, Paul also seems to be getting his short-term memory back as well. For a while there, Paul would ask me every 15 minutes how long I would be staying at Pate that day. It actually got to be a little bit comical. He now seems to remember for the most part but he still acts a little surprised when I do say I am leaving. He also can forget what happened earlier in the day or that he had recent visitors. The doctor feels this should get better but may always be somewhat of a problem.

We are excited about Thanksgiving (Paul's mother will be here for a week) but we are even more excited (and nervous too) that Paul has been given a discharge date and will come home Dec. 12. However, his rehab will continue as he'll have out-patient therapy through February, if not longer. We are preparing the house for his arrival by renovating the bathroom to make the shower larger and by adding grab bars. We also are installing French doors in the front of the house that will allow Paul easier access into the house. We continue to be very hopeful and optimistic about Paul's walking but the reality is that, by December, he still will be using the wheelchair.

Both Paul and Buzz have countdown calendars to Paul's homecoming and we mark off the days as they pass. I cannot believe that five months ago I didn't know if Paul would ever be returning home and now he will be here for Christmas. What a wonderful gift for all of us.

Thank you again for following our story.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Lunch and a haircut

Last Sunday Patty, Pete, Jim (Paul's brother), Jason and I went with Paul for some good ole Mexican grub.

Here's a pic from after lunch.

Then it was time for haircut number 4 since Paul's accident. Here's Paul getting prepped.

Here we go!

Paul approves.

Jim soaks in the sun and listens to the buzz of the clippers.

And we're done! Paul forgets to tip the barber. :-)

It was a great visit, and Paul showed some progress in spelling out some longer sentences using his alphabet sheet. He also was eager to do some walking, so with some support on each side he walked several times across the patio. He is getting stronger, but it's still quite a task for him to lift his right leg. Paul is such an inspiration, and I am so grateful to be his friend.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Update - Nov. 13, 2008

Paul continues to struggle with the aphasia and his ability to talk. Until now, we've been using a message board, which is just a laminated sheet of paper with the alphabet on it. He spells out words and we write them down on a dry erase board. He has gotten much better at communicating this way, however it can time consuming and exhausting for both Paul and the person he is communicating with. So, this week, we met with reps from a company called Dynavox and have ordered a touchscreen device that will assist Paul in communicating. It includes a keyboard, word prediction, and voice activator that articulates the phrases for him. Of course, we do not want this to take the place of him talking and we, and his speech therapist, will continue to push him to talk.

Again, Paul is progressing, grasping and expressing more complicated thoughts yet he still gets confused and needs to be reminded of what has happened and putting the pieces back together. We continually try to fill in the gaps from pre-accident until now. He seems to have stronger memories of significant people and events from the past. For example, wanting to call an old friend from high school that he has not spoken with in 10-15 years or even thinking that he recently saw that person at Pate.

That said, he does continue to progress and things change weekly. This is a good thing. Today, I am going out to Pate earlier than usual to watch Paul's physical therapy treatment in the pool. He walks on a treadmill underwater and, as of last Thursday, insists upon walking up the steps to get out of the pool as opposed to using the lift chair. His determination continues to show up in every task.

I'm off to Pate. Thank you for your support and interest in Paul's recovery.