Monday, March 3, 2014

Here's an update from my mom:

Because our Minnesota winter is lasting far too long, Geoff and I decided to leave. We
are now in Costa Rica with our daughter Maggie and son-in-law Victor for three months.
We picked a great winter to leave, it sounds like!

Our first week here, Geoff began every day by announcing: “Eighty degrees and sunny,
AGAIN!” It really is wonderful to be here, and the change in environment and weather
help keep Geoff motivated to work hard.

When Maggie and Victor were out running one day, they passed a little heated therapy
pool just eight blocks away. It was almost too good to be true! There are actually about 6
big pools within a mile of our apartment, but this one is small and warm and private.
Victor has learned Geoff’s pool exercises and has even thought of new ones. He and
Geoff go nearly every day and work for an hour at a time. Geoff feels that his
movements in the water pay off on land. Especially, he feels it in his knee control.

But that’s not all--
Several months ago -- as we mentioned in our last blog entry, Geoff’s wonderful speech
therapist back home suggested they try and keep up their speech sessions over Skype
(or similar program) while we are gone. Apparently our health insurance company had
never done this before and initially said no. We appealed it, which required a lot of
hurdles and paperwork and meetings (for our therapist, that is). One of the hurdles
even required her to be listed as a registered speech therapist in Costa Rica! In the
end, amazingly, it was all approved, and Geoff is once again the trail blazer.
This has been a HUGE plus for us. Geoff is on a good recovery path with his speech,
and even though it feels painstakingly slow, it is continuing steadily and really, he has
never had a lull with it. We didn’t want to have to stop therapy while we were here, and
now we don’t have to. Geoff continues to meet with his ST four days/week, just like he
did in Monte.

One thing (among so many) that we have learned about stroke recovery, is that you
have to fight for every improvement. There is not much that is re-learned “passively,”
which is I guess what I was hoping for at first. It seems that if you do not actively work
at it, probably it won’t happen. So, being able to continue with therapy down here is a
very important aspect of our being here.

Geoff is continuing to read I Am Malala, just completed Matilda (a less challenging read
but easier to follow), and spends a lot of time browsing various newspapers on his iPad.
(I remember at one year after his stroke, he first began reading newspaper headlines --
just the headlines -- although I don’t really know how much of them he understood.) He
also spends time on a website that allows him to read AND listen to stories at the same
time. It’s helpful to get this double input, and to work on his listening skills. Listening
and following conversations -- catching all of the sounds and words -- is a lot of work but
is also slowly improving.

We take lots of walks, and have found our favorite coffee shop two blocks away that
roasts its own coffee beans. We also go on lots of picnics, and next week we’ll be
driving to the beach for the weekend and staying at a motel surrounded by monkeys.
We’ve seen several movies since being here, all of them with Spanish subtitles.
Interestingly, Geoff can usually follow the Spanish when he sees it on the screen, or at
least get the gist of it. (He used to be fluent in Spanish.)

Many family members either have or will be visiting us while here -- we feel really

I’m adding some photos: one of the therapy pool, another of Geoff doing his daily
speech therapy over the internet, and another of our apartment for those wondering
where we are...