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.