Monday, December 20, 2010

We're back in Minnesota! Our third day here, and we're already being bombarded with more snow! (As if 2 feet weren't enough!)

We left Plainfield, Illinois Friday morning and split the drive into two days. Early Saturday afternoon we arrived at my dad's mom's house, where we'll be living for the next few months.

Huge improvements have been made with my dad's speech. He continues to improve, literally every day. No improvement could be fast enough for him, but it's so wonderful seeing the progress he DOES make. He is able to say full sentences sometimes, and is almost always able to answer us with a one word answer for questions we ask him (i.e. Delicious! Fantastic! Good night. Thank you. etc.) It's so much fun and great encouragement to see the improvements he has made with his speech.

His walking continues to improve. As mentioned earlier, strengthening his hamstring is the most important thing to be working on with his leg right now. My dad does not like the cold weather, so is working on walking fast to avoid any unnecessary time out in the bitter cold! He does enjoy walking though, and we never use the wheelchair anymore.

The electrical stimulant that we have been using on my dad's arm and hand has been a huge success. He can now bring his arm out a bit, and squeeze our hand quite firmly! It takes a lot of concentration but it's a great workout! My dad was one of the first people to whom they had used the electrical stimulant on for so many hours, and were just amazed with how beneficial it was. They even entered him into their books, so they can use this on more patients!

Today my dad had an appointment at the Sister Kenny Institute to figure out the routine he will have there. My mom was very impressed with the institute, and we look forward to having him work there. He'll have a nice Christmas break from therapy for a bit, but right after Christmas he'll start back up again.

It's looks like Christmas outside with all the snow. We're going to decorate our tree tonight and watch "It's a Wonderful Life." It is certainly the most wonderful time of the year! Merry Christmas!

"The LORD will guide you always." -Isaiah 58:11

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

well, we're into the holiday season now, and our last couple of weeks here in Chicago.

we spent a wonderful Thanksgiving here in Plainfield with family and friends. some of Geoff's family came down for the holiday, and Sam and Etty were able to fly down for the weekend as well. thanks to the generous, kind friends who hosted us, we enjoyed not one, but two freshly cooked turkeys! we spent the holiday weekend together as family by spending a night in downtown Chicago and watching a Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre.

my dad checked out his first book at a library since the stroke, one called "American Moments," in his attempts to further improve his reading/comprehension abilities. his mind continues to feel 'foggy' at times, but we've found that his memory and comprehension is still sharp and in tact, he often just needs us to slow down when we communicate with him or even write down ideas for him, often the visual aid is helpful. he admits that although it feels frustrating, he's coming around . . . it's just a part of the healing process.

his physical rehabilitation is going well. his balance continues to improve -- at rehab now he can keep a balloon in the air by hitting it back and forth without any reliance on his cane. they're also putting him on a bike machine and having him pedal backwards in order to get strength back in his hamstring (on his right leg). the grip in his right hand is quite strong now, so the big challenge is getting him to be able to release and relax it.

and the words keep coming! today at therapy they are taking him out to Baker's Square. i asked him yesterday evening what kind of pie he was planning on ordering when he went, and he said, "peach! or blueberry! or cherry!" his accuracy with word use is really getting much better, he doesn't struggle so much with trying to find the right response. for instance, the other night we were watching a TV show and my mom thought perhaps we should stop the show early so that we could all go to bed. so Clara turned around and asked dad if he wanted to stop or keep watching the show, and he thought for a minute and then said, "WATCH IT!" (so of course we finished the show, no more questions asked!) anyway, that kind of response is amazing, because he was able to vocalize exactly what he was thinking, whereas a couple of months ago he would not have been able to come up with the right words at all.

soon we had back to snowy MN! dad has less than two weeks here and then we'll drive back to St. Paul. he'll meet with a rehabilitation doctor at Sister Kenny at that point, and start therapy again soon after.

P.S. i've posted an updated family picture! it was taken in downtown Chicago just a couple of weeks ago.

"now FAITH is the SUBSTANCE of things HOPED for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen."
-- Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, November 18, 2010

sorry for this very belated post, guys!

well, it looks as though we'll be here in Plainfield, IL, for another month or so; my dad is planning on continuing rehab at RIC another four weeks or so at which point we'll move back to MN where he'll then start up with rehab through St. Kenny in Minneapolis for two-three months. we thought that being closer to family would be good, as well as just a nice change of atmosphere for my dad.
we've been VERY happy with RIC though, and are considering coming back to Chicago area in the spring time to have my dad participate in some more RIC rehab programs.

we've been seeing some neat progress in my dad's speech; he surprised us all the other day by ordering his own meal in a restaurant and has also been able to read a few words aloud to us. he continues to plug away at his communication/speech every day, practicing on repeating and reciting words and phrases to us.

the physical therapists have been occasionally taking my dad's leg brace off at therapy, something we don't do at home, but it has been helping to strengthen and work his ankle so that eventually the brace will become unnecessary.

his right arm has also shown visible improvement. whereas before the therapists could only stretch the arm to attempt to keep it flexible, my dad can now lift his arm a good ten inches or so, and has more hand and finger movement. the other day i gave him my hand and he reached out with his right hand and gave it a good ol' squeeze! we're continuing with the electrical stimulus on his arm and shoulder as well.

still no snow here in Plainfield, but it's definitely beginning to taste of winter!

the wonderful encouragement and support from all of you always makes us happy and helps keep us going! thank you!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Once again, it is Clara narrating.

We have had a busy couple of weeks here with lots of friends and family visiting us. We were able to head downtown Chicago with some dear friends of ours from Montevideo and see the musical 'The Lion King.' It was such a fantastic night, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. This past weekend, MEA, two of my dad's siblings and their families came for a visit. It was great spending time with them, and enjoying the perfect autumn weather.

Rehab has been going well. My dad no longer brings his wheelchair to therapy, which means great progress! He hardly ever uses his wheelchair anymore. He uses a cane, and his walking skills improve everyday! Today in therapy, the therapist had him walking with no brace on for an hour! That was very exciting.

My dad got into the research study at the main R.I.C. branch in downtown Chicago, and we decided to go ahead and be a part of the study. We feel it was a good decision. He goes downtown twice a week, and for a couple hours therapists stimulate his arm/wrist, and his ankle with electrodes and vibrations. The muscles react to these, and send messages to the brain that they're still there! It's a cool study. My dad says that it also feels very relaxing.

Speech and communication remain the hardest and most discouraging things for my dad, though the past couple weeks have been an encouragement. He is saying so many more things! Often if he works really hard, he can say a word or two that he really wants to say. He can also watch our lips, then repeat what we just said. At this point, I think we get more excited about little things like this, because we notice it right away! But I think it's encouraging for him, too. My dad's writing skills are improving a lot, as well.

Leaves are finally starting to fall here. We've found a perfect nature park reserve right on a lake where we like to take walks. We typically walk about 1/2 a mile, sometimes more. My day walks the whole time, and enjoys the fresh air.

(FYI- All the pictures that we post on the blog are not new pictures. They are pictures from previous times. Sorry for any confusion.)

"So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him." -2 Corinthians 5

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

my dad has just begun his fourth week here at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and things are going well. the therapists love my dad's cheerful, hard-working personality, and he never fails to make them laugh. Geoff has been doing some preliminary studies to see if he can participate in some studies through the main RIC facility in the downtown area, so we're excited to see how that progresses.

dad continues to walk about 1/2 mile daily, and often takes on the bike or treadmill at therapy; we've been digging around to find new trails and parks in the area that we can stroll through for a more scenic walk! the weather here has been beautiful, so we try and take advantage of the outdoors as much as possible.

Etty and our aunt drove up this past weekend to visit us, which was such a treat! it was wonderful to catch up with them and to get a little update on life back in MN!

this past Wednesday my dad had a scan done revealing that the clot that had been in his lower right leg since the stroke had healed enough that a vascular surgeon could attempt to remove the filter that had been inserted during his time at North Memorial. it will be removed this upcoming Thursday.

RIC has also given us an electrical stimulation kit to take home and hook up to his right arm. studies show that use the stimulation 6 hours a day has aided in activating the nerves which trigger muscle movement again.

dad continues to work on writing/speech as much as possible, writing words, lists, and continuing to try to speak as much as possible, a constant challenge and the biggest hurdle in the healing process.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sam came to visit us this past weekend from New York City . . . we took the metra train into downtown Chicago on Sunday, and spent an afternoon browsing the art institute, walking through Millennium Park, checking out the shops, and of course, taking our necessary coffee shop detour!

dad's therapy has been going well. we're very happy with the therapists he interacts with daily, and find my dad challenged to continue to push himself every day. although speech/communication remains an extremely frustrating aspect of my dad's healing, he has been making daily progress that always keep us hopeful; his writing skills, especially, seem to be getting better and better. this evening he was able to communicate something to us just by writing! we also hear more accuracy with spontaneous speech . . . for instance, if he wants my attention, he's much more likely to call out "Maggie!" than he would have been a few weeks ago. we try to work with him outside of rehab as much as possible as well -- identifying food at the dinner table, naming his kids, repeating certain words and sentences, etc. -- as a way to keep him working and thinking outside of the rehabilitation facility. his walking is looking very good, much more steady and even. every afternoon after therapy one of us will go out for a walk in the neighborhood with him, and the improvements are becoming more and more obvious. the therapists at RIC are also talking about putting my dad into some stroke study programs/research projects, which might be a neat opportunity!

we continue to be blessed here in Plainfield, IL, and daily receive love from all of our friends and family -- THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH, no act of kindness has gone unseen. we're happily adjusting to our new home and surroundings here, and it has been a new adventure for all of us:)

"i have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. in this world you will have trouble. but take heart! i have overcome the world."
--John 16:33

Friday, September 10, 2010

the next BIG STEP!

hey guys, it's Maggie again! looks like there is a little updating to do since the last blog post!

my dad ended up getting discharged a few days early from Mayo Clinic at our request -- he was getting a bit restless on the rehab floor -- so he left Rochester this past Friday, and spent the weekend in St. Paul with family. he and my mom even made it over to the Minnesota State Fair for some sunshine and food on a stick!

but this past Tuesday morning we packed up our bags and made the road trip down to Chicago, IL, where my dad has begun his new therapy sessions at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

yesterday was his first day of therapy; he and my mom (she wanted to go along the first couple of times to check out the place) were picked up by a transport service around 7:45 AM and my dad went through a full six-hour day of therapy before coming back home a little after 4 PM. he'll have 2 hours a day of occupational, speech, and physical therapy. the therapists spent most of the day just getting to know Geoff, and to see how far along he was with his therapy. my mother was very impressed with all of the therapists, and they, in turn, were so impressed with my dad! they remarked on what great progress he had already made . . . his speech therapist remarked on the fact that his ability to read phrases and his ability to comprehend so well already put him ahead of the game!

it will be hard work for my dad, but hey, we're not ABOUT to let him take it easy:) the first thing he wanted when he came home from therapy yesterday was a big cup of coffee! so he kicked back on the couch and sipped his cup of joe while all of us girls pestered him with questions about his first day of therapy!

after today, he'll have the weekend to rest up -- and then his first FULL week!

also, here is our new address:

24108 Walnut Circle
Plainfield, IL 60585

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The final discharge date for my dad is set: September 7th, at 10AM. From there, we head straight to Chicago, where some dear friends of ours have offered us their home to live in while we are there for therapy. This is such a relief to not have to look for a place to stay! It will be an easy drive to where my dad will be at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It is unknown how long we will be there, but we are very excited for this change. We keep hearing great things about the RIC, and can't wait to get my dad started there!

For the past week during occupational therpay, the therapists have been using electrical stimulus in attempts to activate muscle contractions in his right arm and hand. Lately these have been proving successful, and my dad has been able to lift his arm up and down and move it from side to side with the stimulus. It's amazing.

In physical therapy, he's walking farther and farther every day. (And faster!) He uses a stationary bike, walks up and down stairs, and even walks backwards.

This weekend, some family took my dad out of the hospital to see the movie 'Despicable Me,' which he had been wanting to see for a very long time. It was so great to get him out of the usual halls of Mary Brigh, and in a different environment. The movie was very much enjoyed by all of us. Before heading back to the hospital, we made a much needed stop at Dairy Queen!! It ended up being a very pleasant day.

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,And with my song I will praise Him" Psalm 28:7

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today in therapy, my dad walked. No cane, no therapist, but ALL BY HIMSELF!! I keep telling him that next week he should start running. We'll see! He's improving so much!

He is also strengthening his muscles in his shoulder and upper part of his right arm a lot. He is able to move it slowly in a direction, with just a bit of help. (Today, the therapist even gave him an 'A' for improving so much!)

Thursday evening, Rose's and my choir, Partners in Praise, came to sing for my dad. There were about 20 girls who came, plus Rose and I. It was SO neat and wonderful to have them come down to Mayo, and sing several songs. We had a small crowd, with my dad sitting in the front row! It was a great little concert, and so much fun for the choir and my dad.

We found out last week that my dad was accepted at the RIC (the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago)! It is considered one of the best rehabilitation institutes in the country. We are going to head there to start therapy early September. We are very excited about this! It will be very rigorous work (6 hours a day), and he'll be working on all three areas of therapy; Occupational, physical, and speech. We've heard that they also have aqua therapy there, which I think will be very cool...!

"Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.'" -Matthew 21:21-22

Monday, August 9, 2010

Not one day goes by where my dad doesn't surprise us or amaze us in one way or another! Every day he improves, and every day he becomes more and more 'Geoff.'

My dad is completely back on the rehab floor now. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when we went from ICU back to our 'home' on the rehab floor. The nurses and therapists have been commenting on how good he looks with his bone flap back in (and a nice battle scar to show off.) The biggest frustration for my dad right now is his speech. He has made SO much progress, but of course not enough for him. Yet. It's definitely coming, although we'll have to wait a while. He can consistently fill in the blank for opposites, such as 'black and ____,' 'up and ____,' 'in and ____,' etc. He's doing really well. He can also say 'love you,' and finish it off with one of our names. It's so sweet.

Yesterday was the first day that my dad finally admitted it was hot outside. With 95% humidity, and a temperature of 90, we were all very grateful that he did! We took a short walk, then went back inside for an afternoon snack at a restaurant across the street. He said 'whew!!' several times. It was hot!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -Galations 6:9

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze." -Psalm 18:32-34

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sorry for the delay in writing! Maggie left, and now it is I, Clara, who is taking over for the time being.

The past few days of therapy have been great. It seems that just in the past week or so, great progress has been made, especially in speech. The other day we were able to take him out to a restaurant, where we ordered a coconut cake. I was telling him that I was super excited for it, and he said 'I am more!' Often times when we're chatting with him, he'll say something sporadically. Sometimes it's 'oh,' other times it's 'woops!' It's so encouraging for us, and I think especially for him to be able to hear this!

Yesterday afternoon is when my dad had his bone flap surgery. The swelling of the brain had gone down enough, that the doctors felt it was safe to replace his left bone flap. We spent the morning before surgery watching 'I Love Lucy,' and chatting about how great it will be to have a normal looking head again!
The surgery started at 1:30PM, and finished a little after 4:00PM. It went longer than expected, because the brain had adhered itself to the scalp. The work was long and meticulous, but the bone flap fit in perfectly, and the surgery went very well. We didn't get to see him until close to 8PM, when they brought him to ICU, so that they could keep a close eye on him through the night. He was in much pain from the surgery, so was given some pain killers and went straight to sleep.
He was in much pain throughout the night, but is feeling better today. He is currently listening to classical music, and eating chicken noodle soup.
He'll have one more day of rest, then it's back to 5hr. days of therapy! They are all eager to get him back on his feet!

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken." -Psalm 62:1-2

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

as we greeted my father this morning, i asked him how he slept last night . . . he turned to me and said, "pretty good". WOO-HOO! these are the little miracles we see every day as my dad continues in rehab here. his speech continues to be our big focus, and probably his biggest challenge, but just these last few days, we've seen a huge improvement in his ability to shape and repeat word sounds. and every now and then, we hear him say something spontaneously in response to a question, like what we heard this morning. those are so exciting! he can now say some words quite easily, such as 'love you', 'thanks' and (much to my delight) 'Maggie'. he still isn't able to speak much on his own, it usually requires some prompting and visual assistance, but his ability to shape new words is steadily improving.

he continues to do better and better in physical therapy, walking more and more every day. today, for the first time, they actually put him on a treadmill for an hour! his energy level is up, but we still try and get him to take naps whenever possible because he does a lot more physical work than before. his right arm is still an area of slow progress; although the doctors see muscle movement up near his shoulder, we're still waiting to see him gain control of the lower half of his arm.

his reading is also doing well. he can now read full sentences at a time, and is good at multiple choice questions and true/false statements. his speech therapist also works with him on unscrambling words and phrases, which he does great on.

we recently had a neurosurgeon stop in to tell us that it looks like my dad will be able to have the piece of skull that was removed put back in again, hopefully sometime next week. after his surgery, he'll need a day or two to recover before he can start back up with rehab, but we're excited to know that he'll soon have his head all put back together! so we're waiting on the next update regarding that surgery.

Sam flies in this afternoon! he'll be able to spend a couple of days with us girls and my dad, so we're all excited (especially dad!) to see him today:)

also, my mother asked me to include this note (below) in my post:

Janet here. I haven't been very good at thanking all of you for your tremendous
kindness, concern, and support. Please know that it means so, so much to our
family, and really is helping us get through this very difficult time. Every
you post is noticed, every card you send is read (and Geoff can read them
himself, which is wonderful!) and is an encouragement to us. We have
lovely and inspiring and humorous books from you, gift cards for coffee and
restaurants, care packages, games, beautiful flowers and plants, and even a
cheery yellow ukelele! All of these things help to cheer Geoff's days and
ours, and I think Geoff is beginning to realize how many people are behind
him... :)

Most of all, thank you for your constant prayers...God hears them all.

"On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you
us by your prayers." 2 Corinthians 1:10-11.

Monday, July 19, 2010


this news is too exciting to postpone, so i had to share it now.

today in therapy, my dad WALKED!

as he was heading to physical therapy today, his therapist encouraged me to come with. she said there was something i had to see . . . so i tagged along, and when we got into the therapy room, she had my dad get up, and with only minimal support on his right arm, my dad was able to walk, step by step, to the other side of the room! literally overnight, he was able to move his right leg in a way that yesterday wasn't possible! new muscles had kicked in, allowing him to pull his right leg forward, and he was able to control EACH STEP. it required complete concentration on his part, his gaze was always fixed on the wall ahead of him, but imagine the JOY in being able to know his body was finally starting to do what he's been trying to tell it to do for weeks! he walked back and forth across the room with the therapist at his side, slowly but with consistent steps, getting stronger as he went along!

so . . . an EXCITING, HAPPY day!

"it does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'i raised you up for this very purpose, that i might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.'"
--Romans 9:16-17

Saturday, July 17, 2010

happy Saturday everyone!

weekends are always quite leisurely here at the Rehab Unit . . . my dad has 1-2 hours of therapy tomorrow, but besides that, nothing! this morning all of us went out for coffee across the street from the hospital, and this afternoon we're going to kick back and relax and watch some TV.

Etty came back from her travels in Europe a couple of days ago, so the Rehab Unit will get to see yet one more Hathaway girl roaming through the hallways now!

speech continues to improve . . . one thing that really seems to help my dad is when we cue him with certain words, such as "two peas in a ____", where we leave the last word for him to say. obviously, he's not always able to pronounce the word, but he's getting a LOT better. the other day we were practicing, and i said, "three strikes and your ____", and my dad finished the phrase with a slam-bang "OUT!" . . . so we're learning techniques like that to help trigger his speaking/communication abilities.

we've been encouraged by some muscle movement in his right arm . . . during therapy, he's been able to minimally use his upper-shoulder muscles to complete a few exercises, and today after a nap, he gave a big stretch . . . and his right arm flexed a little as well! his walking exercises are getting better and better as he is able to walk for longer amounts of time (up and down the hallways) and with better balance, still aided by the therapist supporting him on the right side.

"For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."
--2 Corinthians 1:5

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ugh, sorry for the belated update! people are always so kindly telling me how great it is to get the latest news on our dad, and here it's been DAYS since we've last posted . . .

well, my dad's speech continues to be the big focus for all of us -- we know that above everything else, that is what he will want to master the fastest. he already has an hour of speech therapy a day, but my sisters and mom and i challenge him outside of therapy as well. we've learned that it's good to start with word/song patterns that are familiar to my dad (like the Happy Birthday song he sang), because they're a sort of automatic response which allow his brain to process them more easily . . . we say our days of the week, the names of all of us kids, we sing simple songs, and also work on opposites (hot and cold, tall and short . . . ). my dad repeats them along with us, and it's a great way to see his lips start to make the right shapes, and hear his words match the sound of ours. on his own though, it's still rare that he'll be able to say anything except for a few sounds he is able to consistently produce. AMAZINGLY enough, a few days ago all of us girls were sitting with my dad, trying to help him pronounce the names of everyone in his family . . . my mom challenged him to say 'Janet', a name he had not yet been able to say. but all of a sudden, he opened his mouth and perfectly echoed her name! we were so excited! so we decided to try my name . . . and again, he pronounced 'Maggie' perfectly! my mom shrieked right there in the middle of the hospital lobby, and we all started crying a little bit because we were just so overjoyed! even my dad was impressed, although i think most of his joy came from seeing us so happy.

writing is something that has progressed a LOT with my dad . . . he can read words and phrases very well (though it requires much concentration), and he can write quite well, too, although he is not able to express himself well through writing on account of the aphasia, this difficulty to communicate to us the thoughts going on in his head. but it's still a great way for us to get a point across. if we're trying to figure out what my dad wants to do, we write down three or four options on a piece of paper and then have him point to the one he is interested in.

we found out there is still minimal bleeding in the brain, so they have taken him off of the blood thinner they had him on (as a way of preventing new clots from entering the body) and are monitoring the bleeding closely. it is not at all abnormal for the brain to continue to bleed, but it's something they want to keep a close eye on.

therapists are also working hard to help my dad regain movement on the right side of his body. he is not able to use either his arm or his leg at this point, but the physical therapist has worked on getting him up and out of his wheelchair, assisting him in walking and stretching the right side of his body to 'wake up' the muscles . . . the therapist said that she can feel a very minimal amount of control starting to come back to his right upper hip, which keeps us hopeful that the healing will continue to spread to throughout the rest of his body!

today, for the first time, we took him out of the hospital (fresh air!). we went across the street to a Caribou Coffee, and enjoyed some Saturday morning sunshine and iced lattes. my mother and i took him around the neighborhood a bit as well, and i learned it is no slight feat to push my father uphill in a wheelchair! (note to self, don't volunteer to push the wheelchair next time.) it was so refreshing to show him a change of scenery and to enjoy the noises and chaos of everyday life.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

it's about 6 PM right now. my dad is eating dinner in the third room he has been in since moving to the Rehabilitation Unit . . . which means we still get lost on this floor on a daily basis thanks to all of the relocating.
speech therapy has been very exciting for us; every day we see improvement and greater fluency in his communication abilities. he is able to read quite well, though it is a process that requires a lot of focus and concentration, and he can also write well, although not always the right words to express what he is trying to tell us. the other day the therapist helped him use a computer, maneuvering the mouse and beginning to type letters . . . it was difficult, but it got easier as he went along.
we play games together on a daily basis -- number games seem to come especially easy for him, so we play lots of cards and Yahtzee. my dad loves the sunshine, so we make sure to take him out for strolls out in the courtyard as well, which means we often stop for a dry decaf cappuccino for my dad as well, since the Starbucks is right by the courtyard entrance:)
after a CT scan yesterday, the doctors notified us that the bleeding had completely stopped inside my dad's brain, which was great news.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
--Ephesians 4:6-7

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

today was my dad's second FULL day of therapy . . . he's had more than three hours of therapy daily, and it definitely keeps him busy. he's on a much more strict schedule here, and he's worked quite vigorously by the therapists. with assistance, he has climbed up some stairs, begun walking, learned to balance his body and be more aware of the inactive side, the right side, begun speaking new words, and learned to maneuver a wheelchair. by the time he has finished dinner he makes it VERY clear to us that he just wants to head to bed!
even though we know this will be a long process of healing, it's been AMAZING to see the daily progress my dad makes. this morning, while my sisters and i were out for a bike ride, i received a text from my mom saying that during speech therapy my dad had counted to four, shook his head, and said the word YES!
this evening, however, was so great. my dad was sitting in bed, with all of us around him. he was obviously not tired yet, but we didn't quite know how to keep him occupied (cable TV just doesn't always cut it). my mom pulled out a deck of cards and suggest working on numbers with my dad -- laying out a few cards and having my dad identify which number was largest/smallest. i laid down three cards, and said, "dad, which card is the HIGHEST?" . . . my dad raised his eyebrow and stared at me with a look that obviously said, "can you REALLY not answer that question yourself?" i obviously felt much less intelligent than he at that moment. "okay . . . new card game." Clara and i decided to try 500 Rummy with him. we dealt the cards and began to play . . . to our amazement, my dad played along FLAWLESSLY, not only keeping up, but beating us by a landslide! at the end, we all added up our points. we weren't sure how my dad was going to tell us how many points he had. i began by holding up some fingers, but he didn't quite like that idea. instead, he pulled the pencil and pad over, and wrote the number himself! he then proceeded to add up his previous scores and present to us the added total! and all of this done with his left hand. we all tried not to show our complete awe and amazement because i know my dad doesn't necessarily like us ooh-ing and ah-ing over every small achievement, but as soon as my sisters and mom and i left the room, that's all we could talk about! it was so mind-blowing to know that he could perfectly comprehend, write, and add numbers.
we continue to take him outside when we can -- today was a perfectly sunny, beautiful day for a walk around the Mayo courtyard. we're starting to import food from OUTSIDE of the hospital to keep my dad well fed . . . cappuccinos (extra dry, of course!), cookies and desserts, fresh fruit . . . all sorts of little goodies.
we changed rooms today -- the Rehab Unit is so full that most patients are doubled up. so my dad ended up switching rooms and now has a roommate named Ron, who is quite delightful, but will most likely be leaving some time at the end of the week (which is probably all for the better -- my mom and sisters and i tend to make the room feel quite crowded, i think!).

Sunday, June 27, 2010


hey! we've had some people ask about a mailing address here at Mayo, so here it is:

Geoffrey Hathaway
Patient Care Unit -- Mary Brigh 3F
Saint Marys Hospital
1216 Second St. SW
Rochester, MN 55902

Saturday, June 26, 2010


sorry about the belated update, guys! somehow these things just keep getting put on the back burner . . .

yesterday my dad was transferred from the neurology level at Mayo to the Rehabilitation Unit; in fact, today, for the first time, he had a full morning of rehab! when my mom and sisters and i walked into the room this morning, he was fully dressed with his tennis shoes on, maneuvering a wheel chair! this afternoon he'll have some more therapy. he'll have a total of 3 hours of therapy a day, and it will be split between speech, occupational, physical, and recreational therapy. the weekends are normally a little more leisurely, but they DID decide to put in a full day's work today.

a couple of days ago, we took my dad outside for the first time since the stroke . . . we got him all set up in a wheel chair and took him to a little outdoor courtyard that they have at Mayo, and we just walked around and let my dad soak in the sunshine and the fresh air. it was so nice to let him enjoy a change of scenery:)

my dad is completely off all IVs now, and grows stronger day by day. he doesn't have any more diet restrictions -- now he can eat whatever he wants, thank goodness! he always turns his nose up to the hospital decaf coffee, so i think we'll have to make a coffee run at some point, so he can enjoy a TRUE dark roast! the staples have all been removed from his head (40 staples!) and the scar is healing nicely . . . he had a helmet made for him as well just to protect his head while the piece of skull he had removed remains out. he doesn't wear the helmet all the time, but while he is up and about and working with the therapists he puts it on.

communication is our big focus right now. his continues to try and speak to us, but we usually only hear the same word, YOU. he gets frustrated with himself, knowing that he cannot communicate his ideas, but as he continues to get better, we find other ways to communicate -- hand squeezing, pointing, motioning -- and he also tries writing. it will be super exciting for him to begin working with a speech therapist, and see what results will come of it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

i'm writing right now from my dad's new room in Mayo Hospital. actually, at this moment, Clara has her guitar pulled out and is about to perform for us . . . some of my dad's favorite songs:) we all just ate lunch together (granted, my dad ate pureed hospital food, and we ordered Chipotle), and my dad is happily reclined in his chair.
he was transported yesterday morning from North Memorial by ambulance. my mom got to ride in the ambulance with him, and they arrived a little after one. we like being here at Mayo, and we have some absolutely WONDERFUL family members who work here at the hospital who have been so supportive and helped accommodate us here in Rochester. my dad is getting wonderful care, and therapists have been coming in and out all morning, evaluating his speech and right arm movement.
he is on the neurology floor right now to be evaluated before moving him on to therapy, but we're hoping that within the next couple of days he'll be ready to move out of neurology -- we want to get him into rehabilitation!
something so exciting happened today. the speech therapist came in to check up on him, and at first he was not very responsive, he could only make one word sound ('you') and didn't quite seem to follow with what she was asking of him. but finally, she said, "Geoff, let's sing together, okay?" and she started singing Happy Birthday . . . and just like that, my dad opened his mouth and started singing along with her . . . soft words, but he sang right along, and it was just so beautiful to sit there with my mom and watch him sing. they sang the song twice together.
he continues to do better day by day . . . he is much more peaceful and not nearly as sleepy as he was earlier. his brain swelling continues to improve each day, and we love just sitting and interacting with him. earlier today my mom and i looked through Sam and Joanna's wedding album that we had brought, and he loved that.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


a big HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all of the dads out there! we're celebrating our own Father's Day here in room 528, although my dad is a bit of a party pooper and has decided to sleep through the majority of the morning:)
my dad becomes a little more like himself a bit each day. yesterday, for the first time, he was able to speak new words! he isn't yet able to articulate what he wants to say, but just the fact that he is making new letter sounds is super exciting for us.
he is able to stay awake much longer as well, and seems much more attentive to what is going on around him . . . i think with this new awareness also comes a new frustration, and we often feel so helpless watching him try to tell us what he wants or is thinking when he doesn't have the words to share it. he uses a lot of body language, and we're slowly learning to understand what different actions mean.
he has a pretty obvious dislike for hospital food, which is definitely a good sign that he is coming around . . . we've done some browsing in the cafeteria and the deli to try and find him some better food options. he can't yet handle pure liquids (such as water) or very harder, tough solids (like crackers or meat) because his ability to swallow isn't the best, although it's improving rapidly.
we're also seen some great improvement in his ability to respond . . . he's nodded his head, held up four fingers when asked how many daughters he had (thank goodness he got that one right!), and smiles easily at our constant jokes and conversations.
the brain swelling has gone down a LOT, and we know that we're out of the critical period now, which is such a wonderful thing to know. his vitals remain steady, and he hardly requires any medication. we're hoping to be able to transfer him sometime early this week to Mayo Clinic, where he will begin therapy. of course, all of us will tag along and spend those weeks in Rochester with him!


Friday, June 18, 2010

my mother spent the night with my dad in his new room . . . Etty and Rose and i met up with them around 10 this morning. my dad now has minimal therapy throughout the day, workers who come in and work on both physical and speech therapy. after breakfast a neurologist came in to check on the right side, the inactive side, of his body. he noticed some swelling and thought it best to do an ultrasound . . . when the results from the ultrasound came back, we found out that my dad had clotting in his blood. there was a minor clot in his right arm, and a larger one (obviously of greater concern) in the lower-half of his right leg. the problem with this is that the clot could travel up to his heart, creating even more damage to his body. so this afternoon they did a small procedure to prevent this clot from traveling up to his heart -- a filter was inserted through a catheter in his neck into a major artery to prevent the clot from making its way to his heart. it was a very quick, painless procedure, and soon enough my dad was back in his room resting again. the other more minor clot in his arm was not an issue, the nurses decided to just keep an eye on it and give him some blood thinner.
we have a beautiful display of flowers in the room from so many lovely people, and they just make the room look that much happier -- even the nurses have told us how wonderful it is to walk into a room full of such colorful flowers!

also, my family wanted to me to share something on this blog . . . just that this is going to be a long haul for my dad. he will need your support in prayer and in thought, but at this point he needs as much rest as possible before rehab can begin. we have found that it is both exhausting and a bit frustrating for him to receive visitors right now when he is so weak and cannot communicate. so, we sadly would ask that you save your visits for when he is more able to handle them . . . we appreciate ALL of you, his dear friends, SO much, and want you to continue to walk alongside us during this time. we only ask that until he feels more ready to take visitors, that we hold off on hospital visits for a while.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


just wanted to update you guys and let you know that Geoff was just moved out of ICU! he has a lovely new room all to himself one floor down with a nice window view . . . as i write, he's currently enjoying a wonderful fruit smoothie with Etty, my mom, Rose and i looking on --
we're on the road to recovery!

HELLO! it's so exciting for me to be able to wake up every day and write you guys the next update, the next batch of happy news we've received since i last posted something. early this morning i drove Sam to the airport so that he could catch a flight back to NYC, where his job and acting career await him . . . of course, it was hard to say such a fast HELLO and GOODBYE, but his support was SO wonderful, and we know it was great for him to take off for NY knowing that my dad's healing is in progress.
last night and this morning, my mom has heard my dad speak . . . although he is only able to utter the same word, which is normal at this point.
he continues to be more and more responsive -- the left side of his face lights up if we tell a joke (or make fun of him, which is much more enjoyable) and he waves and acknowledges the people around him to the best of his ability.
he's completely off of his IVs, except for the occassional antibiotic that they're giving him due to the fact that he contracted a mild form of pneumonia while on the respirator (which is not uncommon, according to the nurses).
this afternoon or tomorrow we're hoping to move my dad out of ICU, which would be great. we have to wait on some test results before we'll know if he's ready or not, though.
the next step, like we mentioned in the last blog, is to look into a rehabilitation facility. right now it looks as though it wouldn't be wisest to transport my dad anywhere very far from here, but there are a couple of good places in the Twin Cities and then Mayo Clinic in Rochester, so we're just kind of evaluating options and looking into what would be best for my dad. since he is so young and fit, and his brain is still so healthy, we're looking for a very intense program that will challenge him daily to improve and get his body up and running again. it could be that after a few weeks in one rehab facility that will help him regain basic abilities, we will look into moving him to an acute therapy program to really get him going again.

"Do no be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 4:6-7

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

last night Etty and Sam manned the night shift at the hospital . . . Etty called my mom in the morning to share the next batch of good news -- my dad, at some point during the night, had pulled out his respirator (way to show a little spunk!). the nurses, who had already been weaning him off the respirator bit by bit yesterday, decided that they could just leave the respirator out. they also took him off the sedatives and decreased the saline solution used to stop the swelling in the brain. the results of this morning's CT scan also showed a continued decrease in swelling. his blood pressure and heart rate are now at a healthy, steady level.
this morning he was awake and responsive, squeezing our hands and looking at us. he pointed to some food he saw, so this morning, for the first time since before the brain surgery, he was able to eat a bit!
the nurses are hoping that if things continue at this rate, that he will be out of ICU tomorrow sometime, which would allow us all to breath a little easier . . . these last few days have been SO encouraging for all of us, especially as we get to see my dad come around again, and show signs of being himself. keep the prayers up! pretty soon we'll be faced with the decision of where to take my dad for rehabilitation, a big decision for us. but right now we're just moving a day at a time, excited with the great progress we've been seeing.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
-- James 1:17

Monday, June 14, 2010


well, another good morning!

we have more positive news to share with all of you. since yesterday, my dad's condition has just been steadily improving bit by bit. by late evening yesterday, his blood pressure had dropped to a very healthy level, his other vitals were holding steady, and the bleeding we had been seeing as a result of the neurosurgery had finally stopped. the swelling we were seeing as a result of the surgery (which had developed on the left side of his face, the side the surgery was done on) had subsided as well. my mom, Rose and i were able to head to my mother's parents house for the night (finally, a REAL bed!) and Sam and Etty faithfully managed the night shift in the hospital.

this morning we received even more happy news . . . my dad has opened his eyes (although he remains minimally sedated) and has begun to respond to the nurses -- squeezing their hands and even lifting his head up as he got a haircut! this morning's CT scan results also showed further reducement of the swelling of the left hemisphere of the brain; we're hoping this trend indicates that the healing process is beginning to take place, and that we are moving out of the critical phase. the neurologists continue to speak cautiously about everything, they know that we need to just take everything a day at a time; the nurses, however, are amazed at his progress and have expressed how happy they are to see even these minor improvements . . . as are we:)

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
-- Matthew 10:29-31

Sunday, June 13, 2010

good morning.

well, my mother and i spent last night in the hospital with my dad . . . he remains minimally sedated and on the respirator, but hopefully that will not last too much longer. a CT scan was done this morning to check up on the swelling. what the doctors have explained is that the left half of his brain, the affected half, was pushing into the right half, endangering the healthy part of his brain as well as potentially damaging other arteries, so when the CT scan comes through, what the neurologist checks up on is if that swelling is continuing to push into the healthy, right half of the brain. and this morning we received wonderfully encouraging news -- the swelling has reduced in the last 24 hours! his other vital signs are also holding steady, and the neurologist was positive and did not see the need to step in for further prevention at the present . . . the nurses will keep a close eye on him and try and see him through this peak swelling phase.

so we are all greatly encouraged and have new hope . . . we're not out of the woods yet, but we hope this is the turning point. our family remains by his side 24/7 and continue to pray in faith.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
-- Hebrews 11:1

Saturday, June 12, 2010

hey everyone. this blog is our best attempt to keep all of you, dear friends and family, updated on the life of Geoff. right now it's Maggie writing, although i'm sure that i won't be the only Hathaway child to be posting comments here throughout the next few weeks. i just want to thank you guys personally for all of the beautiful support and love you have shown our family this past week; it is honestly so overwhelming and gives us so much strength to carry on.

i'll bring you guys up to speed on some of the details of this past week. my dad was rushed to the Montevideo Hospital on Monday morning after he showed signs of having suffered a severe stroke. within the hour he was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis, MN, and rushed to ER and then the ICU. after an MRI was done, we found out that my dad had, indeed, suffered an ischemic stroke. he had what is known as a 'dissected artery', a tearing of the carotid artery that ends up clotting the brain with blood. he currently does not have control over the right (dominant) side of his body or speech.

the danger with this stroke lies in the fact that the blood in his brain can cause swelling -- an anticipated but scary reaction to a stroke. this potential swelling can prove fatal if the swelling continues to put pressure on his skull, which has no room for expansion of the brain.

the first few days after the stroke, we thought we were seeing steady improvement -- and we were! -- but yesterday morning after the latest CT scan came through, we learned that the swelling had suddenly increased, and we would be forced to do surgery -- to open up a portion of the skull to allow for the brain to expand a bit more without putting so much pressure on the inside of his brain. with the surgery completed, my father remained in critical condition -- the surgery did not FIX the problem, it only eased the intensity of the swelling.

throughout yesterday and today he has remained under sedatives and a respirator . . . the swelling remains, and the doctors have been continuing to put all of their efforts together to pull my wonderful father through this phase, the critical phase.

both Sam and Etty have flown home from their travels in New York and Europe, and are here supporting my dear father and mother in this ordeal along with Clara and Rose and i. there are always at least two of us spending the night in the waiting room so that we can keep loving and watching over my father, and we are all here during the day. we have had incredible support from family and friends, who have helped us through each day. but of course, our greatest source of STRENGTH comes from our Lord, and we rest in His arms and TRUST in His faithfulness and goodness. our prayers remain full of FAITH and HOPE, and we PRAY often.

we hope to keep you updated frequently so that you, too, might be able to walk with us on this journey of faith and prayer. i could write for hours about my father and what a wonderful, faithful, passionate man he is, but i know that your hearts already abound with love and respect for him . . . as many have told us, if there is anyone who can pull through something like this, it is my dad -- a man of great courage, discipline, and determination. and we BELIEVE it.

"One thing God has spoken, and two things I have heard; that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving."
-- Psalm 62:11-12