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.