Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mom and Dad over Thanksgiving weekend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

<--- Dad doing his "mirror therapy"

It's been a long time since I updated my Dad's blog! Now that we're back home,
things just seem busier!

Dad is doing great back in Monte. He goes to speech 4 days/week, and PT and OT
2 days/week. He was first set for just two-months' worth of PT and OT, but has been doing so well that it has been extended- hopefully for another two months.

In OT, he is slowly working his way down his arm: beginning with his shoulder, then
his upper arm, and now concentrating on his lower arm. Progress seems to keep
happening, and he works real hard on this at home too- doing "rowing" exercises (a rowing movement mid-air), weight-bearing, e-stim on his wrist and fingers. It's cool because for a long time he was able to do the arm movements only in the pool therapy when supported by water. Now, he is able to do a lot of
them in the air, unsupported!

In PT, his therapist is really concentrating hard on his ham string and hip-flexor. It's still difficult for him to lift his leg. His therapist is great and very imaginative, and is trying all sorts of things to get that movement to kick-in. The therapist is also working with Dad on swinging his arm while walking. Even though he is getting a lot of movement with his arm, it doesn't swing freely while he walks.

Tonight for one of the first times, he was able to go up on his toes. That was exciting! He is also doing "mirror therapy" now. This is done by doing movements into the mirror with your good leg and arm, and trying to trick your brain into thinking that the reflection is the affected limb. Sometimes, this can actually initiate new paths in the brain to really move those limbs. My dad tries to do this for an hour each day. Dad's therapist did warn us,however, that since he is so smart, it may be hard to trick his brain.

In speech, his therapist is working mainly on apraxia drills. Dad has learned a
"key word" for almost every sound now (Maggie for the "mm" sound, key for "k," cheese for "ch", etc.), and is slowly able to sound out words. He is working at reading two-syllable words and short sentences out loud. He picked out one of our children's books the other day, and for the first time was able to read part of it out loud. His brain gets real tired doing this, but he has been able to read 12 pages at a sitting. At night, he is slowly making his way through Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms" before he goes to sleep. My brother thought this was one he could tackle, since the sentences are quite short. He reads this silently, not out loud. He is about halfway done!

Many people have commented on how much improvement my dad has made with his speech. Sometimes it's harder for us to tell, since we are with him every day. But other people notice a lot of changes. It's so wonderful, and we are encouraged by every little improvement he makes!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My dad with his siblings and mother in October.

Friday, September 30, 2011

We have been in for Monte over three weeks now, and it has been wonderful. We arrived at our house on a perfect summer's day, and were welcomed inside by the smell of fresh flowers-- there were vases of flowers in every room. It was so beautiful.

The first day back, Dad went into work to check up on things. I think he could have felt discouraged heading back and realizing everything that he cannot do yet, but instead he jumped right in to what he can work on and was encouraged by that. Of course it was still hard for him because he can't do everything he used to, but he will get there- slowly, but surely. He goes in to work once or twice a week.

The therapy program in Monte has been wonderful thus far. The Monte hospital completely redesigned the rehab area, and just finished in time for Dad to use the new facilities! The therapists have been absolutely wonderful! They have different ideas of how to go about working on his speech, arm, and leg and the exercises they are working on are great. The therapists are working Dad very hard!

Once Dad gets home, he doesn't take a break. He is constantly working on his therapy. He has many speech exercises, arm stretches, and leg muscle flexibility practices that he works on all the time.

We feel that just since being back in Monte Dad has made progress- especially in his speech. We think it is partly his rehab therapy at the hospital, and also the practice in speech that Dad is constantly doing as we see all of our friends and Montevideo folk! My dad and I went to the grocery store to get a few items, and we saw over 10 familiar faces- a five minute trip turns into 45 minutes. It is so great seeing everyone again. It's great practice for my dad, as well as encouraging for him, too. Everyone is excited to have Geoff back in Montevideo.

After a long day of therapy exercises, Dad likes to sit down to a game of Solitaire on his iPad. He will often spend an hour or two trying to win the game. He is becoming a master, and wins a good amount of the time! I am sure many cells and new paths are being built in his brain when he plays the game, so we consider that a therapy exercise, too!

We have gone down to the Java River Cafe many times, taken plenty of walks, visited the local apple orchard, and are constantly enjoying the fresh Montevideo air- it's definitely good to be back! Progress is only speeding up right now, and we are all encouraged daily with the progress that Dad makes.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:6

Saturday, August 20, 2011

September 5th we are headed back to Montevideo- just in time for school. Dad is already planning a schedule for himself! He has not been home since June 2010, so he is getting excited about heading back.

We find that my dad's aphasia is improving a lot, but the apraxia is what is hard for him right now. Apraxia is knowing what to say(or do), but not knowing how to say it. (i.e. He knows he wants to say "tomorrow," but he just can't think of how to form the word.) If we give him just the first sound of the word, he knows how to say it from there. He can also 99% of the time write the word or sentence, even if he can't speak it. Rarely is there a time now where he just gives up on what he wants to say. It still takes time, but the speech is becoming more constant and is always improving! New vocabulary comes nearly every day!

One activity that Dad does at home is reading several paragraphs aloud. The paragraphs are about 5 sentences long. He started working on this about 5 weeks ago, and every week he adds a new paragraph. My dad now has a piece of paper with 5 paragraphs on it which he is supposed to read aloud. One of us will read the paragraph with him, then he reads it on his own- pointing to each word as he reads. This started out very difficult for him, but it keeps improving! With each new paragraph, it becomes easier for him. It's so fun to hear his voice reading aloud for a couple minutes, and it's always getting better!

He also seems to be comprehending a lot more things lately, and tries to join in on conversations more often. He used to just sit back, since it was so hard to speak. Now as he keeps improving, he is starting to join in and say a little bit. This is encouraging not only for us, but for him, too. I can only imagine how much he wants to say, and now is finally starting to be able to say some of it. I know that what he wants to say is much more complicated than what he can actually say right now, but we are all very confident that his speech will just keep improving!

We have heard from several people and/or websites that typically the first 6 months after a person's stroke is when most improvements will be made. We have found this to be incorrect. Dad's progress has not slowed down at all!

Dad also seems to have more energy for his therapy at home. A few days ago he went on an hour and a half long walk, and came back and worked on his paragraph, apraxia drills, and other therapies!

The early part of this week we all went up to the family's cottage for a few relaxing days. My dad won our game of Scrabble, after he played a 7 letter word and got the 50 point bonus!

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." -Psalm 32:8
"...the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him." -Psalm 32:10

Monday, July 25, 2011

Every night at dinner, we go around the table and ask Dad a question that he has to answer in a full sentence. Tonight, one of us was taking so long that he started asking himself his own questions and answering them. "What is your favorite music?" "I love opera!" "What is your favorite movie?" "Oh, a lot of movies!" etc. He was on a roll! He is always making progress and always surprising us with new words and sentences. And, of course, he is just as humorous as always!

One thing that is hard for my dad to do is do 2 things at once. Eating and talking, or walking and talking is difficult. We talk to him while he is walking and try to get him to say something back. A few months ago it was too difficult, but now he does it much more easily. It is still hard, but getting better!

My dad continues to work on therapy at home, despite the hot, humid weather! He works on it several hours a day and is very dedicated. He has probably 20 different exercises that he works on daily and rarely complains about the work.

Dad still has lots of time to do fun things during the day. Things such as coffee breaks, a pontoon ride on Lake Minnetonka, and evening walks to ice cream shops!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dad has been keeping busy these past few weeks. He is going to Sister Kenny several times each week for speech therapy and pool exercises. He also has gone a couple of times to meet with a personal fitness trainer, to figure out a routine that he can work on at a gym.

Aside from the therapies at Sister Kenny, Dad continues to keep busy at home with even more therapy. He has so many different things to be working on, that we finally made a list so that he can keep track of what he has done for the day. He is very diligent about working on it on his own now, which is great to see. He has speech exercises (working especially on his speaking, but also writing and reading skills), arm and hand exercises (working on things such as holding a ball and swinging a tennis racket), and leg exercises (working on strengthening his ankle hamstring).

After not working much with the arm for over a month, we've started several new exercises with him to try to improve his right arm and hand. One of the things we started a few days ago is tennis. We had a tennis ball attached to a string and hung it so that it is just above the waist. We got a neat mitt for the hand that helps Dad hold something by wrapping around his wrist and hand. This helps him hold the tennis racket, then Dad has to hit the ball! The first day was difficult, but now he is hitting the ball nearly every time. He has to work on raising his arm and then moving it forward. It's very tiresome for him, but he is definitely improving!

My dad surprises us every day with new words and phrases. When he says a single word, he often works at putting it into a sentence. It is difficult to think of the right verb, but trying to find the right verb is something he didn't even think about a couple months ago. I can only imagine how amazing it must feel for him now to be able to express himself at least a little bit. We are quite convinced that he will continue to regain his speech.

One new thing that my dad has been able to do is whistle. Because of the apraxia, Dad was not able to whistle. About a week or 2 ago though, he started whistling again!

Last weekend we went up to my dad's family's cabin. Most of the family was there and it was great to see everyone and enjoy the lake. Dad has always loved the hot summer weather, and spent most of the time sitting in the sun.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Well, we're back from Costa Rica! It was a wonderful trip and it was so great being able to spend 2 weeks all together!

The last week at therapy in Chicago wrapped up well. My dad was very happy to be done with therapy and receive a long break! Mom and Dad were home for one day to pack and the next day we left for Costa Rica!

Dad received quite the workout while in Costa Rica. Walking in the jungle, walking on the beach, walking up to the volcano, walking up and down stairs with no railing, and just walking in the busy downtown San Jose streets are just a few of the challenges he had while walking. He did amazingly well! Nothing was too hard for Geoff! On our first day back home he kept on saying how easy everything felt to him now. Of course, this was no surprise to us as he made a lot of progress with his walking!

Speech also improved while in Costa Rica. I think that my dad ordered his own meal at nearly every restaurant we went to! Sentences are so much more frequent now with Dad's speaking. The length of the sentences are also increasing. We'll go around the table and all ask him a question. He has to answer the question with a full sentence. Maybe 1 out of 4 times he needs a little assistance, but otherwise he does great! He takes a minute or 2 to think about what he wants to say, but when he says it, it comes out very clearly. It's amazing looking back just a month and a half ago and seeing all the progress he has made. Dad will be continuing speech therapy this summer at the Sister Kenny Rehab. Institute, and we will continue working with him at home, too.

Right arm therapy was mostly put on the hold for the past month or so, but we're starting to work on it again. He continues to use the E-Stim on his arm every day. Progress is being made, even though we haven't been working on it so much. We all notice more movement, and a more relaxed position when at his side.

For the summer we'll be working with him on everything. As mentioned, he'll be continuing speech therapy at Sister Kenny, and also continuing with the aqua therapy there as well. Dad takes a walk every day that is always at least a mile long. He works hard, and tries to remain positive through everything.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rose and I took a bus over to Chicago to visit my mom and dad. After not seeing him for 3 weeks, we were looking forward to seeing what progress my dad had made. It has been so wonderful this week to see all the improvements!

To start off, Dad seems more himself. He is so much more relaxed and confident with his walking and actions. Although he hasn't been working on his right arm and leg so much this month, I have noticed improvements with both. His walking is smoother and his pace is quicker! With his arm, his wrist is stronger, and so is his upper arm.

His speech is of course what has impressed me the most. One night at dinner he said "hard work, but better and better" and then paused. He thought for a moment and corrected himself by saying "hard work, but I'm getting better and better!" He is starting to put his words into short sentences. He will often say the main word or phrase (better and better) and then form it into a short sentence (I'm getting better and better). It's so cool for me to hear this progress! And so cool for him, too, to realize that his phrase needs more and is learning to put it into a full sentence.

Besides the sentence forming, his vocabulary has always grown immensely. He almost always has something to say, and is always coming up with new words. This intensive speech program has truly been wonderful!

Just a few more days left, then back home to Minnesota for one day, and on to Costa Rica! Dad is very ready for a long break from therapy and to just relax! Of course, just because he won't be going to formal therapy over the summer, that doesn't mean we won't be working him hard every day with therapies of our own!

"I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." -Acts 2:25

Thursday, May 12, 2011


hey guys, it’s Maggie writing this next blog update!

the day after Easter my mom, dad, and i took off for Chicago. the intensive speech program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago started the following Wednesday, which means my dad has completed just over two weeks of the month-long program.

the program consists of ten patients, the youngest being a 19-year old football placer, and the oldest a gentleman in his 80's. all of them are amazingly brilliant, motivated people, planning on returning to their CEO position, college studies, private business, or simply life back home. it’s an amazing group to be around, there is such determination and strength, and it really is humbling to see them commit themselves to a way of life they had never planned on.

my dad works 7 hours a day, plugging away at speech drills, grammar, conversation skills, group chats and discussions, and one-on-one with his therapists. they’re constantly pushing him to increase his vocabulary, work on independently holding a conversation with other patients, and rely only on his speech skills to communicate (no writing, motioning, or visual cues). every day he tells us it is ‘hard work’ but ‘better and better’, or ‘bit by bit’. but we have truly seen great improvement in his speech in the last few weeks . . . we’re hearing more complete sentences, new words every day, and the ability to participate more in conversations. his accuracy is so much better, he can almost always get out the correct word or phrase right away, and there is no need to plan or rehearse words. of course, good is never enough, so my dad continues to push himself and not let himself rest, despite the great changes we’ve been seeing.

his arm is doing well, though right now, it is not taking priority in his therapy work. we try to work on exercises at least once day, though it be only 10 minutes, and we’re seeing more muscle flexibility and control. we continue to stimulate the muscles and keep his arm in a brace.

being in the city, we do a LOT of walking – every day my dad walks to and from therapy, almost two miles in all, and besides that we’ll often taken an evening stroll or a walk to the coffee shop. his gait is smoother, straighter, and more stable, and continues to improve. he has a very confident walk now, and he enjoys the chance to get out and stretch his legs.

Chicago has been treating us well! our apartment is perfect, and ideally located right off of Michigan Avenue. we’ve definitely gotten to know the city quite well, lots of long strolls along the lake and up and down Michigan to check out the shops and restaurants. the weather has treated us well, though it’s been quite bipolar. on the weekends, my dad likes to just take it easy, but we always find something to keep us busy, a matinee, a walk through Navy Pier, or an adventure to a new coffee shop.

my dad has two more weeks left in the program. his persistence is quite amazing, and we’re happy in his progress.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

<-- Easter Sunday

We had a wonderful few days together as a family. The warm, sunny Easter Sunday we had was a wonderful change from the cold and rainy days preceding. On Easter we went downtown Minneapolis after church and took a walk across the old Stone Arch Bridge. First day in a while where my dad was able to take a walk outside again. It was quite wonderful.

My parents and Maggie left Monday afternoon for Chicago for the intensive speech therapy. They stopped halfway in Madison to rest and meet up with some friends, then arrived in Chicago the next day. They are staying in an apartment near where Dad is heading to therapy, right in the downtown. Their apartment is on the 47th floor! They do have elevators, but I think it would be good therapy/exercise for my dad to walk up the stairs. Maybe 47 flights is a bit much, though.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was the first day of therapy. There are 10 other people in the program. There are a few who have done the program before and feel they made so much progress that they want to do it again. Each person has their own schedule for the day. They are all there for 7 hours. My dad has specific itinerary that he does every day: a couple hours of individual therapy, an hour of computer speech therapy,an hour of group therapy, an hour "break" for lunch (the people in the program are supposed to talk and interact with others), an hour of reading and writing, and an hour of constraint induced therapy for communicating. Very intensive, but everyone we've talked to has been super pleased and encouraged with the program.

My dad isn't quite sure of the whole thing yet. Therapy at Sister Kenny was great, but he was able to do a lot more out of therapy, too. We would head out for excursions all the time. Now though, his therapy lasts from 9AM- 4PM, and when he gets home he just wants to sleep. He is up for dinner then heads to bed. He liked the feeling of living a fairly normal life, instead of therapy taking up his whole day. We are all real certain, though, that as the days pass he will realize the progress being made. He is definitely giving it his all and will work as hard as he can! The program is until the end of May, and then he'll have a nice long break.

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." -2 Timothy 1:7

Monday, April 18, 2011

For those of you wondering, it looks like fall 2011 we will be living in Montevideo. This is subject to change, but as of now this our plan. We'll stay in the Twin Cities for the summer and head back in time for the start of the school year.

One week until Chicago. I think that my dad is looking forward to this more and more, and is looking forward to putting all of his energy towards improving his speech. Not being able to speak and say what is on his mind is definitely the hardest thing for my dad, so putting all of his energy towards improving it will be great. We're all excited to see what progress he makes!

Like mentioned before, the program is one month long. After coming back to the Cities at the end of May, we all head to Costa Rica. We are all very excited for this trip- especially my dad. He'll get a nice break from therapy and just be able to relax.

All therapies have been going real well. Speech is continuously making progress. Every other day or so there are noticeable changes. My dad has been more positive about his progress, too. He is realizing that although it is coming back very slowly, there is significant progress being made.

The right arm continues to make progress. Dad has surprised us a couple of times by putting his right hand out for us or guests to shake. When relaxed, his hand is usually in a fist. We're working with him on tightening it and opening it. Opening his hand is pretty hard, but it's slowly coming along. There was a motion that my dad's occupational therapist had been trying to get my dad to do with his arm, but Dad was never able to do it. The therapist needed him to raise his arm straight in front of him, but my dad would always bring it out on the side. For the first time a couple of days ago though, my dad raised it in the direction the therapist wanted him to! This motion is the key motion in getting more muscles to kick in and more everyday activities doable.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The days seem to be flying by now that the weather is finally starting to feel like spring. Both yesterday and Thursday my dad and all of us went on a long walk- just under 2 miles both days! My dad seems to have had a sudden burst of energy about 2 weeks ago and has been wanting to work extra hard and do more things.

Our walk yesterday was great- we walked along the Mississippi River in 63 degree weather. It seemed like the longer we walked, the better Dad's walking became. He doesn't swing it out much anymore, which is great. Therapists are still working with him on getting his hip flexer to kick in. The hip flexers are the muscles that help the leg lift up and make it easier to walk. That is one thing that my dad has been working on a lot in the pool. It's improving, slowly but surely.

The extra energy my dad has had has made him want to do more homework. At therapy the other day, his speech therapist asked him if he wanted some writing homework. "BRING IT ON!" was my dad's response. So, he's been adding more writing homework, arm therapy, and walking into his afternoons. Less naps and more action! It's so much fun to see him getting more enthusiastic about doing therapy.

Dad has just about another week and a half left at Sister Kenny, then on to Chicago! Sister Kenny has been a wonderful place to be, but my dad is very ready for a change of pace. The intensive speech therapy in Chicago is right in the downtown. We've also been in contact with someone at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago who wants to put Dad in another research program with his hand. My dad is very interested in this, so he might be doing that, too.

Over Easter, we'll have the whole family together. Maggie, Sam, and Joanna will all be flying to the Twin Cities a few days before Easter. It will be great to all be together.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My dad's occupational therapist said the other day that my dad's right arm is at the point where he should start using it in everyday activities, such as turning the light switch off and on. For a while progress seemed super slow with his right arm, but they've been trying out new techniques and exercises with him, and certain muscles are starting to kick in. This is definitely encouraging.

Speech has come a long way-- these past few days, especially! He continues to say things that surprise every day! We went to see the King Tut exhibit at the Science Museum last week and on our way home when we asked him what he enjoyed, he answered almost instantly: "Tutankhamun!" He is saying many new phrases and new words every day. "I think I can," "we'll see," "I think so," etc. are just a few phrases he has started using recently. My dad didn't always realize he is saying these things aloud, as he has been thinking them for so long, but never was able to say them. Now that he's able to say them more often and frequently, he is realizing it. It's super reassuring, but it can also be frustrating for him. He's making all this progress, but he's still not perfect. He's improving, but not fast enough. As always, slow and steady.

Outside of therapy, we've been keeping busy. Tuesday was my mom's birthday, and my dad picked out a special meal for us to make her. We all, including my dad, helped prepare the Hungarian Chicken Paprikash and the Budapest Pecan Cake. I think Dad liked working in the kitchen. Definitely a good thing- maybe he'll starting making his amazing pies again soon...!

Less than a month until the intensive speech therapy in Chicago. My dad is very ready for a change. It will be very tiring and hard, but the outcome will be huge and it will be good for him to do something new. The program is just a month long (end of April to end of May), and we'll be back in Minnesota for the summer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Water therapy has been good. Dad has been working hard, doing both arm and leg therapies in the pool. He can do things in the water that he can’t do on land, and seems to be getting more arm movement through water exercises. With his arm supported by two floats, he can now move it straight out, across his chest, and to his side. He can also take a weighted float and pull it under the water and down by his side. It’s a lot of work, but getting easier. It's so cool to see the progress he's been making. The improvements are moving over to normal activities as well, and it's fun to see what new things he can do!

We bought him a ball the other day for work on his hamstring. He sits in a chair, and with his right foot/leg on top of it, he pushes the ball forward and back. This, too, is a lot of work for him and takes a lot of concentration. The physical therapist has told him that the movement is all there; it’s more of matter of helping the brain sort out when it needs to use which muscle. This is a great encouragement!

The PT (who works specifically on my dad’s leg) also told my dad the other day that with his positive attitude and ability to correct himself, and the fact that the movement really is there still, he feels my dad has the potential to keep making lots of gains and progress with his leg.

One of the hardest things to do with his leg is lifting it into the car. He tries to lift it up, and it lifts up, but it lifts up straight and then catches on the door. This is one of the reasons we need to get that hamstring and hip flexor to kick in!

My sisters decided to get out our board game, Catan, for the first time since my dad’s stroke. This is a game that they, especially my dad, were all pretty hooked on last year. Amazingly, my dad did really well -- only the trading part was a little confusing for him. Still, by the time they decided to quit for the evening, he was winning!

He also plays Bananagrams with my grandmother every other night.

In the midst of this tough time, my dad insists he is not suffering as much as others. He seldom complains, and continues to be his gracious -- and often funny -- self. He makes us all laugh everyday.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
-James 1:2-4

Sunday, March 13, 2011

(Rose doing some arm/hand therapy with my dad.)

My dad is in a very regular routine now: speech therapy daily, PT and OT twice/week, and pool therapy 3X/week. That doesn’t count all of the extra therapy he gets at home: writing therapy with me, arm/hand therapy with my sister Rose, speech therapy in the evenings with some of my aunts, and lots of walking- in the house and at malls. My dad had us to measure how many times he would have to walk a circle inside the house (through the living room, dining room, kitchen, etc.) to make a half mile. We measured it: 27 laps.

Sometimes it’s hard to get in all of our extra “home” therapies, because my dad is exhausted and needs lots of sleep. Every afternoon he takes a nice long nap. Then there’s his pre-dinner nap, and his mid-morning nap on weekends. Recovery from a stroke seems to not only be a lot of hard work, but it’s also a lot of fighting tiredness. We let him sleep all he wants, and encourage him to sleep a lot because we keep hearing about how beneficial sleep and rest is.

I think as my dad’s thinking and speech improve, it sometimes seems even harder for him, because he is more aware of what he can’t do right now. Probably the most difficult part is his speech, especially because it is so up and down. For every three steps forward, there seem to be two steps back. It's hard for us, but especially him to see so much progress one week, and then have it disappear the next.

Still, my dad continues to make progress, and uses words like “tolerable, vague, and exhausted” instead of simpler terms that would probably be easier to say. His “apraxia” is probably the biggest hurdle of all, because most of the time he knows in his head what he wants to say, and even knows the words. It’s forming them that’s the hard part.

He fights to remain positive, and repeats “Better and better, day by day,” several times each day.

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you;he will never let the righteous fall." -Psalm 55:22

Monday, February 28, 2011

"One day, I will conquer," said my dad this morning. And this is something we truly believe.

If we hadn't before, we certainly would now. Within these past couple of weeks, huge progress has been made. I feel like I'm on repeat, saying the same things every post. But it's all true! I forget how much progress has been made, then I look at a previous post a realize that the improvement is great.

Speech continues to be the most visible change every day. He is speaking so much more. Whole phrases and sentences are becoming much more consistent. It still takes time and much concentration, but it's coming! He has many phrases and sentences that he can consistently say, and many more sentences just pop up out the blue. It's so fun and wonderful seeing this progress. My dad is also understanding and comprehending things more easily now. We love watching movies, but with all the conversations going on and jumping around it was difficult at times for him to understand everything. Last night though, he was laughing with the movie and making small comments. After church yesterday he was talking about the sermon and writing down things he remembered. It was quite amazing. His comprehension is definitely improving.

We found out last week that my dad was accepted into the RIC (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) Intensive Speech/Aphasia program. This program is 6 hours every day(M-F) and works very intensely on just his speech and aphasia. This will be great for him. He'll have to work very hard, but it will definitely be worth it. We've heard only wonderful things about this particular program.

Geoff can now raise his right arm to just below shoulder level. It's really cool to watch. It takes most of his concentration, but it's becoming stronger. We have him shake our hands. It's hard work because he has to work super hard on raising his arm, but then has to try to relax his hand. It's not perfect, but it's getting there!

At therapy last week, they tested my dad on several reaction activities, and then worked with him a bit in a practice car they have in rehab. The therapist worked with him on several things that had to do with driving, and said that soon he could take a test to drive again. My dad was never a big fan a driving, so I don't think he necessarily wants to rush into this, but it's cool knowing that the therapist thinks he is soon ready to try to drive again. Maybe someday he'll decide to get back to work on his pilot's license again...

Friday, February 11, 2011

When my dad came home from rehab today, I asked him how his therapy was. "Good," he answered, "and speech was excellent!" Geoff improves all the time even though we may not always notice it. Looking back just a month ago though, we realize how much progress he has made. He is so often able to contribute his thoughts to our conversations with words or small phrases. It's so wonderful and amazing to see all the progress he has made. He has homework that he does, where he reads a sheet of paper that has about 20 three-word phrases. He can now read all of them, and rattles them off as if he has always been able to say them! I think he gets bored of saying them over and over again, so has now started acting out the phrases, too.

My dad's walking is continuing to improve. I feel he has become more confident with his walking, and is now starting to walk faster. He takes strolls around the house to practice walking everyday. Now we have to hurry and step out of the way though, because he's walking so fast! He's a man on a mission! One day he even went up the stairs by himself when no one was watching. Typically we are with him just in case, but not this time! (The photo posted is of my dad on the LokoMat. It's really cool to watch, because it makes his leg walk perfectly.)

My dad's arm is probably one of the slowest things to come back, but nonetheless makes progress. He is still wearing the electrical stimulator 6 hours a day. The therapists are very encouraged by the progress that he is making with his arm and wrist. He is getting closer to being able to open a tight fist, which is something we've been working on. Once he can do this, he will be allowed to be in a special therapy session where they tie his left(good) arm to his side and force him to use his right(weak) arm.

We're trying to stay warm in this cold Minnesota winter weather. With the nice new wool mittens my dad has, it's easier to stay warm. I guess that means more coffee runs!

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." -John 14:27

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bearded Geoff and Clean-Shaven Geoff

Sunday, January 23, 2011

(Geoff with his fancy new beard)

Since my last update, my dad has grown a beard to help keep him a little warmer in this bitter winter weather. That's not the only change since my last post. On the contrary, that's one of the smaller changes!

The first bit of exciting news that has happened is that doctors were finally able to get my dad's IVC filter out that was in his leg. Two previous attempts in Chicago would make this try #3. Third time's the charm, right? It wasn't a big deal if the filter had been left in, but it's a relief to know that we don't have to deal with it anymore.

In therapy my dad is continuing to work with the LokoMat. It's very cool to watch the way it works. It makes him walk perfectly. The therapists work him hard on it, putting him on the top speed! (We'll try to post a picture of this in the next update.) He never uses a cane while indoors anymore. He uses it outside to be safe and in busy public places, but is becoming more confident all the time. My dad has also started water therapy at Sister Kenny. He says he enjoys the therapy.

Speech is continues to slowly improve. He can read out loud more and more. We'll often have him read signs that he can see from the car, which he can do a lot of the time. He is speaking more and can so much more often say what's on his mind. Often times it's just a word at the start, but he'll say phrases and every now and then a full sentence, as we ask him more questions. He has an amazing sense of direction and always knows where we are. We've been working with him on saying 'right turn' and 'left turn' so we always know where to go!

We continue with the electrical stimulation at home on his arm and wrist, as well as his ankle now. His continues to make substantial progress. The one thing we're working on specifically right now is releasing his hand. He can squeeze it into a fist quite easily, but needs to practice releasing the squeeze. He's getting closer!

"Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." John 16:22

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just a quick little update!

Today was my dad's third day of therapy at Sister Kenny, and both he and my mom agree that it is excellent! Yesterday in speech therapy, the therapist had him do a Test of Higher Thinking and Logic to see where he was in his thinking skills. My dad got 100%- a perfect A! The therapist said that his score was above average for people his age, with his education who hadn't had a stroke! Woohoo!

Tomorrow in therapy they are going to try my dad on a LocoMat- a robotic leg. There are not a great amount of these, so it will be exciting to use it and see how it works!

(The picture is of my dad with his 51st birthday cake- a Czech Honey Cake that he first had on his bike trip in Europe with Sam.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year everybody!

Our Christmas was wonderful, and it was great getting together with family. My dad has had a nice break from therapy these past 2 weeks, but he seems eager to start up again.
He'll be starting therapy at Sister Kenny this upcoming week, and will continue to work on physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as aqua therapy.

Although he hasn't been going to 'real' therapy, we've been keeping him busy with our own projects. My dad will walk around the house, or we'll head to a mall so he can get some walking in. We feel that his hamstring has strengthened these past few weeks, and his walking keeps improving.

We work his right arm and hand quite a bit at home. He continues to wear the electrical stimulant 6 hours a day. He has gotten to the point now where he has enough strength to pull out a chair from the table with his right arm/hand! It takes a lot of concentration, but it's great progress!

His speech is always improving. Research says that you will have days when your speech seems great, then it falls back to where it was the day before. These 'down' days seem to occur less and less. He can read single words aloud. Yesterday we were looking at a children's dictionary and for the first time he was able to read over 50 words aloud to us! This is huge progress! The accuracy of his words and the sentences he's able to say is improving every day!

Today is my dad's 51st birthday! We all sang him 'Happy Birthday' this morning and he sang along too, singing every word with perfect accuracy! No big plans for today, except for as my dad says, 'PARTY!' So party we will, and enjoy the new year!

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." -Zephaniah 3:17

(picture is from this Christmas Eve)