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