Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24, 2009

It has now been about six weeks since Paul got the baclofen pump and, although we do see a decrease in the tone, he still is not where we want him to be in his standing, walking and balancing. The amount of baclofen he receives through the pump has been increased twice now and we'll go to the doctor again this week and, most likely, the dosage will be increased again. This is called titrating the dosage, is normal and could take a few months to figure out the optimal dosage for Paul.

His physical therapist also has said that Paul has to now, in a way, relearn how to use the muscles on the right side of his body, not just physically but mentally as well. It is complicated but, for someone to make the smallest movement, it takes a lot of neurons sending messages through pathways to the muscles. The therapist explained that, basically, up until now, Paul was using many, many neurons to send messages through many pathways with the goal that he'd be on target and eventually something would trigger his leg to move or him to be able to pick up his foot. This is not only exhausting for him but also counterproductive as Paul ends up using opposing muscle groups to perform simple tasks. For example, he may be using the correct muscle to lift his leg while an opposing muscle is pushing it back down. As I said, it is all very complicated and I think I only understand it enough to know that Paul still has a lot of work ahead of him. He'll need to retrain his brain to only use the correct neurons he needs for specific movements. The therapists plan on trying biofeedback, a computerized technique which will measure particular muscles being used during certain movements, to help determine where he is "misfiring." He'll then be given certain exercises or thought processes to utilize to try to help him use only the correct muscle groups. Again, this will be a challenge for Paul as he still has a severe memory deficit. But, as I have said in the past, this continues to slowly improve.

His speaking continues to slowly improve as well. His speech therapist, Megan, is great with Paul. She makes him speak as often as possible, works vigorously on his writing, and she has a great sense of humor too. She and Paul joke around and I know that helps him stay motivated although he is in the last place that he would have ever choose to be.

The really good news though is that cognitively Paul is getting better and better all the time. I feel like his mind is improving and his body just can't catch up. In fact, Saturday night, some of Paul's friends (Ed Schafer, John Hampton, John May, Tom Dennis, and my brother-in-law, Dave Proudman) brought dinner over and the group played several rounds of blackjack afterward. Ed even brought his professional blackjack kit, which is something he also brought on annual golf trips Paul used to go on with the same group. Paul had a great time Saturday night and everyone commented on how well he was able to play and how he held his own against the other players. The idea of a night of blackjack was Ed's, who reminded us that Paul was so into blackjack during the golf trips that he once showed up at Ed's house for a private lesson. As silly as that is to me (I don't ever remember any big "winnings" after the golf getaways) it is another reminder to me that Paul will go the extra step to succeed.

Paul has been sketching more and more, watches golf constantly, and also has been reading quite a bit. He also maintains his sense of humor. The other day, he, Beth, and Buzz were talking after watching the movie Surf's Up. Beth commented that she wondered where the term "Holy Mackeral" came from and why no one ever said "Holy Sardines." Then Buzz started saying "Holy Sardines" and Paul spelled out, "C-o-d D-a-m-m-i-t." Of course, we told Buzz that he couldn't repeat that phrase but we all got a good laugh out of it.

Although my updates haven't been regular (I think I was avoiding updating it until the "miracle" baclofen pump started working but I found that, with most things following a traumatic brain injury, progress is very slow), I hope that you will continue to check the blog often and keep Paul in your thoughts and prayers.



Caroline said...

Thanks for keeping everyone posted! So glad to hear that, although it's not as quick as you would have hoped, Paul is making strides. We think about you guys all the time. Keep going and God bless!
Caroline Bouldin

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update - I have been thinking about you guys everyday - I'm excited Paul is continuing to improve and has his sense of humor - I laughed out loud with "Cod-dammit." You guys might be on to a whole new wave of lingo - just wait till you hear from Buzz's teachers :) Keep working hard, laughing, and enjoying each other!

kyle farley said...

As your progress continues, you are proving, far & away to be worthy of the nick-name "Tenacious-P"! Hey....It works for y'all too "P"atty & "B"uzz! Frustration not withstanding.....Slow & Steady.... Your Winning This Race!

"Cod"-speed, Paul!

Anonymous said...

First of all there is nothing more enjoyable than watching a golf tournament falling asleep then waking up and seeing that it is still on. Second the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. Enjoy the Masters I will be watching it with you.

An old friend.

Bea Garcia said...

Hi Paul - i just caught up on your adventures these past few months. (Thank you Patty for telling the story.) I am so impressed that you have come so far and pray for patience for you since I KNOW you will reach your goals and kick everyone's ass in that rehab place. I also laughed out loud with the cod joke. Maybe a little too much Sponge-Bob, eh? Thank God your taste for Mexican food has prevailed. Food of the gods, man... food of the gods ; )

Glad you are back at home with your loving family. Soak up Buzz's energy... children seem to have an endless abundance.

Thinking of you all the way from Houston.

Love, Bea

Anonymous said...

Cod dammit and holy sardines, eh? Good ones! I laughed so hard. You guys are so funny.

I'm going to have to use these on my yankee friends.

Keep on keepin' on!


Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, Patty and Buzz,

It is great to hear about your success, Paul, and I always look forward to hearing about how your humor and wonderful personality shines through.

We are praying for your continued improvement.

Much love
Audrey and James Harrell

Jason said...

Holy Cod! Love it. Keep up the fun & hard work, Paul.


Amy, one of the sister-in-laws said...

I love the blackjack story! I think of you guys everyday and you all are in Jonathan and my prayers every night. I love you all and look forward to spending some time with everyone on Easter.

jtate said...

It was soooo awesome to talk with you at the crawfish boil this past Saturday. I've kept up with you via this blog the past several months and that was the first time I saw you since the truck ran into you. You're an inspiration to me, and I'm glad to see how far you've come. I'll come visit you and the rest of the men in i-group sometime soon.
Patty - it was good to finally meet you in person. thanks for keeping up this blog. I come back to it often.

Jonathan Tate

Anonymous said...

Love the update. I know progress is slow and not on our timetable. But it's going to happen. Every day brings new hope to his journey to recovery.

Paul, you keep working hard and giving it your all. I know you will. I see amazing progress everytime we all get together.

My folks really enjoyed seeing you at the baptism. My parents have not seen you since the accident happened and i gave them regular updates. When they saw you in person, they were both so pleased at how far you have come.

You have so many people pulling for you. Keep working hard.

We love you! Karen Hatfield

Megan said...

YOU are the prime example of why I love my job--you work hard, you have made great progress, and you are such a joy to be around--you keep me laughing all the time. You touch so many peoples' lives at Pate, both patients and therapists. I am so proud of you each and everyday. Keep workin hard and being you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update - you are always close by in my thoughts and I check the blog often. I have a good friend who has a baclofen pump and it has helped her so much. I hope they can find the right dosage for Paul and tha it gets the results you are hoping for.
Donna Rainey

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the amazing updates Patty. It's great to read about Paul's progress. As always we are keeping Paul and Buzz, you and your families in our thoughts and prayers. I just got the cod joke. Awesome!! Keep up the good work and the humor coming.
--Lori, Mike, Ivy and Lily Walls, Austin

Brad said...

It's Masters time! A tradition unlike any other. I hope you get to enjoy watching some golf this week. Thinking about you!

Dena said...

Hi Patty, every blog entry is packed with Paul's progress (congratulations on your hard work, Paul!) but I'm sure it seems much faster to those of us who don't see his daily milestones. The strength you and Paul have in your relationship, family, and commitment to rehab is such an inspiration. When time permits, will you email me offline... wondering if you'd like to grab lunch or a cup of coffee. I know you must stay so busy but I would love to see you if you can squeeze it in. Hugs, Dena

Anonymous said...

It was so nice to see you on Easter. I know you enjoyed some good food, good company and most of all...golf! Keep up the hard work. I look forward to seeing you guys again soon. The afternoon went by way too quickly.
Love, Karen

Cassandra said...

Hey Jerdes,

Just thinking about you and wishing you well. What's going on lately?

Big Hugs,

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