Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday, October 31 - Another transition in sight!

Mom's case mgr. at New England Rehab called today to talk about discharge plans!! Woo-hoo!

Mom has made great progress, but she will continue to need full-time care for awhile. After some discussion, we decided that the most logical next step is a transfer to a skilled nursing/rehab facility near home. We will be applying to St. Vincent de Paul Rehab and Nursing Ctr. in Berlin NH, and she could arrive there next week!

The timing is excellent, as our family plans to leave Florida on Monday and will also, God willing, be arriving in Berlin/Gorham next week. :-) We are so thankful for how He is working everything out.

You have been so faithful to pray and care for our family during this ordeal. Thank you . . . and now, as we look toward the future, may we ask that you pray for that as well?

To be very frank, Mom and Dad may never be able to live independently again. My father continues to resist the idea of selling their house and moving to somewhere more manageable. I would love to have them near us, where I could be the assistance in their assisted living! My mom would be willing, but Dad says "never."

So would you please pray that God will work in his heart and help him to see that this would be the best for everyone, including himself? Thank you . . . again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday, October 29

Jack & I went yesterday morning to vote (Florida has early voting) and when we got home, there was a voice mail message from . . . Mom! It was so awesome to hear her dear familiar voice on the machine!! There was a period of silence while she hunted for words . . . but she was able to give her bedside phone number so we could call her back!

Which we did, and had great conversation. She sounds so like herself now! Some words still get mixed up or can't be located, but she manages to be understood.

Aunt Betty called us yesterday evening also, because she had visited Mom during the day and was delighted. Mom understands what happened to her, where she is, and knew Dad had been to visit, but she wasn't sure where he was yesterday. Aunt Betty told her he is waiting for her at home.

Our friends Pastor John and Rosalie Holliday visited her today. Here is his account:
"As we walked into Mary Jane's room, she was lying on her bed . . .
She rolled over, put her feet over the side of her bed, stood up, with NO difficulty -- and with more agility than I have - PTL . . . gave Rosalie and I both hugs, and then sat down again on her bed.

We chatted for about 20 minutes and then we had a word of prayer and left. I found Mary Jane, in my opinion, GREATLY IMPROVED since I saw her 6 days ago.. Most of her facts were clear -- or clear enough that we could understand what she was saying or meaning to say.

Mom did admit yesterday that she still feels confused. When I told her we are thrilled with how much she is remembering and able to say, she said "Well it's a lot of mixed-up mess to me!" :-) I asked her if she had her Bible, which Lois and I had taken to her near the end of her stay at Dartmouth, and she didn't think so. I don't know if it was left at Dartmouth and mailed back to Gorham, or if it's in her room somewhere. She is reading a little bit now, but that may still be too much for her. She can read her own cards though! :-)

Please keep praying that God would bring her ALL the way back, if that would glorify Him. And thanks for also praying for my dad, as he waits for her to come home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday, October 25

We called Mom today!!

Mom had called Lois this week, so I've been hoping she might call me too. Then I realized Lois must have left her phone number with the nurses, but they didn't have mine . . . they do now! :-)

Our conversation was lengthy, lucid, laughing . . . wonderful. Mom is expressing herself so much more clearly than she was a week ago! She understands why she is where she is, and remembers who has been to see her. Names and details come hard, but she realizes the reason, and is good-humored about it. She called me "Jack" and we both laughed. I told her I knew who she meant! She said she has to go through everybody's name before she gets the right one.

She talked with Danielle and Evan too. (I think that was enjoyable speech therapy! :-) They understood that her words would get mixed up, and they were very patient, and helped her with words she couldn't think of.

We talked a little bit about how I would be there to help her when she can go home. She is looking forward to that!! She said "That will be great!"

Physically she is doing well also. She ate 100% of her breakfast this morning! And she is walking down the hall and back with a walker now. My dad got down to visit yesterday, with George Melvin . . . thanks George!!

So we continue to be very encouraged by her rapid progress. THANK YOU for praying!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday, October 23

We have more encouraging news about mom's progress! My sister Lois, who is now in Virginia with her family, told me that Mom called her yesterday. :-) Someone helped her dial the numbers. Lois mentioned Mom's walking with a walker, and Mom said "Yes . . . it's a . . . process." She had to think about it, but she found the word she wanted!!

Our friend Pastor John Holliday visited her today. While he was there, Mom also chatted with John's wife Rosalie on the phone, and did very well. Pastor Holliday said Mom did great with her therapy class, keeping up with about 90% of the movements!!

Pastor Holliday took Mom's shoes to her, as well as her elastic sleeves needed for lymphedema in her arm. That was a blessing.

Dad is going to be able to visit her tomorrow, thanks to friends who are taking him. We really appreciate all the help he is receiving!!

Thank you so much for praying. We are so encouraged by Mom's progress, and know it is the Lord answering our prayers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October 21 - Mom is retaining information!!

Aunt Jane called this afternoon with great news. She had been in to see Mom, and Mom greeted her clearly, by name. But wait, that's not the best part!!

Aunt Jane mentioned that I (Alice) will be there in a couple of weeks, and Mom told the therapist who was in the room, "That's my daughter. She and her family are coming to stay awhile!"

Not only was that a long, clear sentence . . . but it is our FIRST indication since the accident that Mom is retaining the new information that she is being told!! This is a great sign that her brain is healing well.

Thanks so much for praying for her! Please keep on!!

Dad told me yesterday that he would like to go visit Mom this week. Also, she needs her shoes--I forgot to pack them for her :-( If anyone would be able to give my dad a ride to Portland this week, and bring Mom's shoes, that would be a great help.

Thank you Lord, for Your goodness!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday, October 19

Lois hopped on a plane yesterday and is now reunited with her family in Virginia. I (Alice) am still in Florida, for two more weeks. So our Mom updates have to be gleaned from the nurses, and friends and family who are able to visit in person! If you get to see Mom, we would love a phone call to share how she was doing while you were there.

Her nurse today reported not too much change. She answers some questions appropriately, and other things she doesn't seem to comprehend.

She has become quite attached to an adorable little stuffed dog that Lois got her. She likes to put him on her shoulder, and she told the nurse that his name is "President." Hmm . . . maybe I'll write him in on Election Day!

Mom's vital signs, blood sugar levels, and other physical indicators are all good!! We are thankful for that. She continues to receive supplemental feeding through her tube, at night and also when she eats less than 50% of her meals.

Thank you for your prayers, concern, and support! Our family appreciates it so much!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday, October 17

This morning Lois said Mom wasn't feeling so well, but she seemed to get stronger as the day progressed, and was quite chipper when I (Alice) talked with her on the phone this afternoon!! It was wonderful. She sounds like herself, and she called me "Sweethaht" with that great Maine accent. I told her that our family is planning to drive up there soon, and she replied that the whole group of us is coming! That was a long sentence for her to get out, and I was so excited.

I asked her how the weather was there, and she said it was "falling." That was pretty close, since it is fall! She tried to say some other things that came out garbled. Then she laughed ruefully, and said "Oh dear!" It is so wonderful to hear her laugh.

Physical therapy worked with her today also, having her lean over on each side, then forward and back, and raise herself back upright again. Lois said it was obviously very difficult for her, but she worked hard and did it! We are so proud of her.

Dad likes the Senior Meals he's been receiving, and says he's doing fine. Thanks so much to all who are helping and checking on him!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday, October 16 - More progress!

A big step (consisting of several small steps) for Mom today is that she was able to get to the bathroom ON HER OWN, using a walker!! :-)

Her speech therapist tried having her read the days of the week aloud. But instead of staying on task, she tends to drift off, look away and begin speaking of other things. Though much of it is unintelligible, Lois heard the words "Gorham" and "Canadian," so she was probably talking about the 100th anniversary celebration of the former Canadian National Railroad station in Gorham, to which she devoted countless hours last year.

The therapist says this inability to focus is typical of apraxia. According to Wikipedia, "Apraxia of speech may result from stroke or be developmental, and involves inconsistent production of speech sounds and rearranging of sounds in a word ("potato" may become "topato" and next "totapo"). Production of words becomes more difficult with effort, but common phrases may sometimes be spoken spontaneously without effort."

We see this is true, as Mom can say things like "I'm doing well, thank you." Today she was listening to someone on the phone, and responding appropriately with short syllables, and although she wasn't volunteering any information, she sounded quite like herself!

Another encouraging sign is that she seems to recognize when her speech isn't coming out right. (Not all patients do.) This is important, because it gives her motivation to work at improving.

When Lois arrived at the hospital this morning, Mom was participating in a class, with two other patients, involving arm exercises. At first she was just watching, but when Lois started helping her initiate each movement, she continued the rest of the repetitions on her own. Her right arm range of motion is more limited, but therapy will continue to work on that too.

Visitors today were Aunt Becky, Aunt Betty, and our cousins Ginny & Debbie. Thanks for coming!! Lois is planning to fly back to Virginia on Saturday, and it will be 2 1/2 more weeks before Alice is back up there. We are hoping someone will be able to give Dad a ride to visit during the weekend.

Thanks so much for all your prayers, love, concern, and help during this time. God's love is being shown to us through you, and we are very grateful!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday, October 15

Lois reports that Mom had a busy morning of therapy and evaluation on her first day in Room #111-B at NERHP, as the different therapists sought to determine her current abilities in each area. In no particular order, here are a few tidbits:
  • For the first time since the aneurysm 27 days ago, she got dressed in her very own clothes!
  • Mom can read! In fact, at times she seems to process info visually that she cannot process audibly.
  • She was talking quite a bit today. Single words and short sentences are good, but when she attempts a longer sentence, it comes out mixed. . . a few understandable words, and gibberish. We have been assured that her speech will continue to improve as her body reabsorbs the fluid in her brain.
  • Physically, she is standing and supporting about 75% of her own weight, with therapists on each side carrying the other 25%. They were helping her move from bed to chair and vice versa.
  • Occupational therapy had her combing her own hair!
  • It seems that she comprehends some things more than others. She needed a lot of help when asked to "point to the clock." She finally did, after being shown what to do, but Lois wasn't sure whether she was responding to the audible instruction, or just copying what she saw.
  • Aunt Jane & cousin Stephen stopped by today! Thanks!! We know it is a blessing to Mom, and will help her recovery, to see familiar faces and hear familiar voices.
  • Dad is doing OK too, thanks to folks being so kind and willing to check on him and help him in areas where needed. We thank God for you!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A New Chapter - New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland (ME)

Mom's care coordinator at Dartmouth-Hitchcock announced this morning that she was going to Portland today! CMMC (in Lewiston ME) refused her because after reviewing her charts, they do not think she is ready for rehab yet. Her DHMC care team believes strongly that she IS ready, and we find it puzzling that CMMC would disagree . . . how could they, not being with her, know better than those who are?

At any rate, we have been praying fervently that the Lord would direct our steps, and so we must trust Him that Portland is indeed the best place for Mom.

In all honesty, today was stressful, especially for Lois who was alone on the "front line" because Alice is back in Florida at the moment. DHMC informed us that because Medicare would only cover 30 miles of the ambulance transport, it would cost $1,200. (discounted!) And they needed all of that money today, up front. And if Mom stayed at DHMC another night, Medicare wouldn't cover it, which would cost even more than the ambulance.

We opted to use credit cards, not seeing any other means of procuring the money in half an hour. And we told DHMC, as kindly as possible, that advance notice would have been helpful. We are grateful for the discount, and for all the wonderful care Mom has received. And we know the Lord has it all under control.

At least Lois, and her luggage, were able to ride in the ambulance too!

So Mom is now safely at the New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland ( The address is 335 Brighton Avenue, Portland, ME 04102-2374. Phone number is 207-775-4000.

Tonight, Lois is staying at a hostel nearby. She is planning to travel to Virginia, probably via Amtrak, to join her husband and children within the next few days. She is eager to begin their homeschool year!

Jack and Alice and our children are planning to drive back to NH on Nov. 3, and stay three months. God has worked out many details to confirm this decision. We are praying Mom will be able to return home and resume life as before. But even if that will be possible, there is much that needs doing in the meantime.

Dad is set up with Senior Meals, his Medical Alert button, and good friends who are checking on him, doing his laundry, helping him with rides, etc. We are grateful for this support, and are praying that God will keep him safe.

Thank you so much for your prayers!!! God is answering--Mom is steadily improving, and He is guiding our steps and providing all we need. So please, keep on!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Colgate and cups

Well, Mom just finished impressing her occupational therapist. She had been sitting up in bed eating lunch, while chatting with her nurse. Complete thoughts are not there yet, but words are clear. Speech is returning rapidly!

So then Tina, Mom's occupational therapist, came to the door of Mom's room and asked if she could join the party. She first had Mom hold her cup of yogurt with her right hand and take a spoonful with her left, then switch. Mom had more difficulty using the spoon with her right hand, which we knew to expect, but she did it! Tina said that the scientific term for this difficulty is called "apraxia." I looked it up on the Internet:

"Apraxia (called 'dyspraxia' if mild) is a neurological disorder characterized by loss of the ability to execute or carry out skilled movements and gestures, despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform them. Apraxia results from dysfunction of the cerebral hemispheres of the brain, especially the parietal lobe, and can arise from many diseases or damage to the brain."

I am getting quite an education at this hospital!

After Mom finished lunch, Tina got out the toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste. She handed the toothpaste to Mom, who took the cap off with her RIGHT hand. Then Tina and Mom put the toothpaste on the toothbrush together--that's a little more complex action, and one even my six-year-old has problems with occasionally. Then Mom picked up the toothbrush with her RIGHT hand, and proceeded to brush her teeth, very thoroughly, rinsing and spitting and the whole nine yards. It was so different from a week and a half ago, when Tina had offered her the toothbrush, and Mom had just looked at it like it was a creature from Mars! I was doing a little jig of celebration over by the window as Mom finished up. Tina said, "You are SO ready for rehab!" I said, "At this rate, Mom, you'll be back at home in three months!" Tina added, "Or less!" It is amazing and absolutely thrilling to see God's healing hand at work. I wouldn't have missed this part for anything!

Monday October 13

I took a day and a half off to go up to Gorham for church--that's why you didn't hear anything yesterday, because we weren't here with Mom.

When we walked into her room this morning, Mom was awake and smiling at us. She looks great! She's alert, although her eyelids slide shut frequently for little "cat-naps." Her speech is getting a little more clear, too. We see baby steps, but definite improvement over Saturday.

This morning they are removing the tracheostomy tube and also the Foley tube that empties her bladder. So now the only things left are the feeding tube and the PEG-line, which is the semi-permanent IV-line. They want to see her eating more before they take out the feeding tube, through which they are feeding her during the night to ensure that she receives sufficient nutrition. The nurse today told her that although she is lying in bed doing practically nothing, due to the nature of her injury the effect on her body is as though she is running a marathon. So she needs to eat! They are considering removing the PEG-line, but were going to do a little more research to see if she will be needing blood draws in the near future; if so, they will leave it in so they will not have to keep poking Mom with a needle. So thoughtful and considerate!

Mom is getting the best of care here at DHMC. It's not surprising, since this hospital was rated among the top 50 out of a study of over 5,000 hospitals in America for the year 2008. I guess that would put it in the 99th percentile! New Hampshire may be a tiny state, but it certainly doesn't lag behind in excellence.

We still do not have any concrete news about where Mom will be going for rehab. Keep praying about that, please. I know God has it all arranged and just hasn't let us know yet, but He told us to ask, so we are. Thanks so much for standing with us.

Ali is returning to her beloved husband and children this afternoon. They are anxiously awaiting her arrival! She will be there for about three weeks, then they all will drive up to Gorham and live there for three months. Ali wants to get the house on School St. cleaned out and cleaned up more so it will be a healthy environment for my Mom to return to. We are becoming more and more confident that she will be going back there! God is so very good to us.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 11 - Quiet Day

Today was rather uneventful. Mom sat up in the chair for awhile, but her caregivers opted for the Vander Lift to move her there. (It seems she didn't do as well as they had hoped yesterday when they assisted her to walk to the chair.)

It was a glorious, golden autumn day today, and Mom has a beautiful view of colorful trees and distant mountains from her chair by the window.

She was delighted to see 9-month-old Joshua Ross, from her nursery Sunday School class, and his parents. The feeling was mutual--big smiles all around!!

Mom said a couple of words, but not too much today.

Dad and Alice came down also, and picked up Lois to go back up to Gorham with us so she can go to church tomorrow. When she told Chris that, he said "Maybe you'll get spiritual one of these days!"

Friday, October 10, 2008

October 10

Three weeks ago today Mom was in the ICU on the ventilator, with who knows how many IV medications going into her, in a coma, and the doctors were saying they did not know when she would wake up, if at all. Today she got out of bed (with two people helping) and moved over to a wheelchair, without the assistance of the VanderLift! She is breathing on her own, and so far has had no complications with it whatsoever. She has no IV's, and the feeding tube is turned off during the day to encourage her to eat "real" food.

Of course Mom is still on the pureed diet, but this hospital food service goes to great lengths to mold the pureed food so that it looks as much like the original form as possible, and the plate actually looks appetizing. She ate about 90% of her supper last night--the nurses were really proud of her. This morning she was not very hungry, but since her tube feed has been off all day long there is hope for tonight.

I spoke with the Physician's Assistant working on the neurology team with Mom, and she said that Mom is doing fabulous. She is following commands much better than at first, and it is clear that she truly understands what is being said to her. The PA said that they are talking about removing the tracheostomy tube on Monday, and Mom would be ready for discharge on Tuesday if she continues to do as well as she is right now! She also said that the removal of the trache tube would expand her options for acute rehab facilities. So keep on praying about that! The one in Concord has been highly recommended to us, and that may be the one God wants her in; but we are just thinking that Lewiston would be much less distance to travel for her family who live in the Oxford Hills, Maine area. We know that the Lord will guide because He has promised to do that over and over in His Word.

We were able to get Mom's glasses replaced, and they have been completely paid for due to the generosity of God's people. Thank you so much!! The oculist who made them for us said that if there is a problem with them, if the bifocal height is off or if her prescription has changed due to the aneurysm, that they will re-make the lenses at no charge within a two-to-three-month period. Isn't God good?! (We had asked if her vision was likely to be affected due to the aneurysm, but the nurses said that the visual center of the brain was not involved at all with the bleeding--so her sight should be unchanged.)

It is so neat to hear everyone say how great Mom is doing, and be able to give the glory to our wonderful Lord. We tell everyone that she has hundreds of people praying for her all over the world. Of course my prayer is that God would choose to glorify Himself by completely restoring Mom to health. It's awesome to see Him answering!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October 9

Mom is breathing normally now for the first time since the accident three weeks ago! The speech therapist came in today and put a cap on Mom's trache tube, so she would breathe through her mouth and nose only. Not even a flicker of an eyelash to indicate it made any difference to Mom! Her oxygen level remains very good, usually between 95-100%. The speech therapist said that if she continues to do well for 24 hours, they will talk about removing the thacheostomy tube altogether. Yeah! I said to Mom, "Wow, Mom--one more step toward being normal again!" She gave a great big smile.

Mom got a dose of "grandchildren therapy" today, because my (Lois's) husband, Chris, decided to drive through the night last night from Michigan to get to New Hampshire today. The kids and he all arrived just after noon, and Mom gave a great big grin when she saw them all troop in! Of course, I was thrilled to see them too! Chris is sleeping in the hotel right now while I watch the kids. We just left "Nanny's" room to come down here to the computer lab, so that she wouldn't get distracted while the nurse was trying to get her to eat some supper. At this point in time, grandchildren are a whole lot more interesting than pureed green beans!

We received word that the Central Maine Medical Ctr. in Lewiston, ME turned down Mom for admittance for acute rehab, so they are going to re-submit it. "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again!" If it gets blocked again, the next choice would be Portland, ME, followed by Concord, NH. I am praying that God would get her in where HE wants her to be. Thanks for praying with us on this.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October 8

Mom was a little tired today--understandable I guess after her hectic day yesterday. When the Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist were trying to get her to brush her teeth and feed herself applesauce, Mom didn't seem to be all that interested. Of course it didn't help that they woke her up out of a sound sleep to work with her! Mom did a little bit, but seemed to lack either strength or motivation--maybe both. I try to remind myself that in a patient with an injury like the one Mom's got, "up" days are bound to be interspersed with "down" days.

They changed Mom's tracheostomy tube today, because the one she did have had metal in it and they could not do an MRI if it was in her. I heard that Interventional Radiology wants to do an MRI, I am not sure what for but I imagine it is a routine follow-up exam. We will keep you posted.

Ali and I are so grateful for the cards, words of encouragement, and the gifts of money you have given. We are especially thankful for your prayers! We can see God's hand at work and it is really special seeing Him do the things that we are incapable of doing. Thank you for being there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October 7 #2

Well, Mom continues to astound me. Or rather, God continues to astound me with how He is working in Mom. Today I heard her clearly say, "Good morning!" to the physical therapist, accompanied of course by her trademark smile. Sounds turned into single words, and single words are rapidly being replaced by short phrases. Later Cal Hayes stopped in (Thanks, Cal!) and asked Mom how she was doing, and she responded with, "I'm good, thank you!" So far more complex thoughts are a little too much for her--a couple of times she tried expressing herself to different people, and just couldn't seem to get the words out. Both times she sighed, shrugged a little, and said, "Anyway..." I know it's frustrating for her not to be able to communicate the way she wants to, but at the rate she's progressing, I don't think that day is too far into the future.

They took Mom on her first wheelchair ride this morning, which she seemed to enjoy. She went down to the "gym," or the rehab/physical therapy room. There she actually pulled herself to a standing position, holding onto the walking bars, and stood for about 20 seconds! Of course the physical therapist was holding onto her, but Mom was supporting her own weight with her legs and arms. WOW!! A second attempt a few minutes later didn't quite turn out so well; Mom was all tired out by that time. She couldn't quite make it to her feet. But she tried!

The nurse who is the care coordinator for Mom informed me that she is sending a formal referral to the Central Maine Medical Center today for Mom. She told me that once the ball gets rolling towards moving a patient into a rehab facility, things tend to move quickly. So it may be only two or three more days before Mom leaves Darmouth Hitchcock Med. Ctr. here in Lebanon, NH. When Mom heard that, she gave one of her biggest smiles yet!

We have been able to order new glasses for Mom, as her old ones seem to have been destroyed or at least lost in the car accident. She seemed quite enthusiastic at the thought of being able to see properly again. She has been spending a large amount of time with her eyes closed, possibly because things look all blurry to her and it is disconcerting. Today, though, a lot was going on. Between different therapy sessions (physical, occupational, and speech) and visitors (Dad came down with his friend George Melvin, and as I mentioned Cal Hayes stopped in too), Mom spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon with her eyes open. I think it was good for her!

Mom can hold a cup now and sip out of it, both with and without a straw. She also chewed a bite of cookie--her first piece of solid food since the accident! The therapist said she was going to request that Mom be put on a soft diet--soups, pureed foods, and the like. She said that although Mom can handle the chewing mechanism, her attention span is still not back to normal and she is afraid that Mom might take a bite of something hard and then get distracted, and the food would become a choking hazard.

I can tell that Mom has lost some weight--how much, I have not asked yet. Her hands are looking much thinner than they were. I tell her this is NOT the approved way to lose weight! She just smiles.

Thanks so very much for your continued prayers for us all. It is neat to see God answering! We are so grateful to Him and to you.

October 7

Sorry for the couple of days with no update. As several of you have guessed, no news is indeed good news.

Lois came up to Gorham on Saturday and stayed two nights with Dad and I. It was good to be together in church on Sunday--Lois was going through "church withdrawal." :-) She and I were able to do a little organizing. We tackled a few shelves in the pantry . . . our winner was a 1979 jar of pickles! :-)

This afternoon when we returned to the hospital, Mom was sitting up in her chair. She still nods and smiles, and said TWO words today--"Hi" and "Yeah." Woo-hoo!!

For the last several days she has been very reluctant to open her eyes, and has indicated several times that her head aches. When asked if the light is too bright she shakes her head "No." So we think it is because her glasses are missing. We surmise they were destroyed in the accident, because she was not wearing them when the emergency personnel reached her, and they were not found in her car. So we are going to try to get her a new pair as soon as possible.

She was moved OUT of the Neuro Special Care Unit and into a REGULAR room this evening!! Next stop--rehab center!! Not sure when, but probably in a week or two.

Thanks so much for all your concern, prayers, love, cards, and gifts. They are such an encouragement and give us strength to go on. God bless you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

October 3

Today when I arrived they had Mom sitting up in a chair so she could look out the plate-glass window in her room. They had used a Vander-Lift to hoist and move her. The view out her window is beautiful, and the nurse said she spent several minutes just looking out at the scenery with the changing colors of the leaves.

The occupational therapist came soon after I arrived, and the speech therapist right after, so they were sort of working together which I gathered is a common practice of theirs. They had Mom sucking on some more ice chips, feeding herself applesauce from a spoon (she seemed unsure of how to hold it with her left hand), and holding a toothbrush and brushing her teeth. Mom seemed to be doing a little of the action herself. She is getting a little better at opening her mouth for spoons, thermometers, mouth sponges, etc.

A technician from the neurosurgery department came this afternoon and removed the drain from Mom's head. It had been clamped off for over 24 hours, and Mom was doing just fine, so they have ascertained that the swelling has gone down sufficiently in her head to no longer require the drain. At about the same time they removed all of her IV lines, so the only tubes still connected to her are the feeding tube, the catheter, and the respiratory line. The respiratory line may be going away soon, since they told me that Mom is no longer receiving oxygen, only humidified air. I can conceivably see them removing her tracheostomy within the next week or two, at the rate she is progressing. And if she continues doing well with the ice chips, applesauce, etc., then she could be moving to a soft diet soon and no longer need the feeding tube.

Some physical therapists were in this afternoon and had her sitting on the edge of the bed again. She was able to support herself with her hands on both sides again, and today she lifted her left hand to scratch her throat while still balancing with her right hand--another step forward. Then they "stood" her up, supported by a person on each side, and Mom said her first word--"Ow!" The speech therapist had said that spontaneous words would come first, with premeditated ones taking longer to master.

Right now the course of action they are planning to pursue is moving Mom to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, ME when she is able to leave the hospital here. There is an Acute Rehab Center there where she could get about three hours of personalized rehab/therapy a day. She may not be able to withstand quite that much just at the beginning, but I am sure that it will not take her long to work up to that. It's exciting to see what God is doing! Thanks so much for your continued prayers. And to whomever sent the Visa Gift Card to me, THANK YOU! May God bless you for your thoughtfulness and generosity.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

One more tidbit

Lois asked me to also share that Mom swallowed some purple ice chips today! The color is added so it will be obvious if they don't go down the right way, and appear in the tracheostomy tube.

When the therapist tried feeding them to her, she was not eager to open her mouth. (Probably wondering what on earth those wierd-colored crystals were!) But once they got the spoon in, she closed her lips around it nicely, and did very well swallowing. Another good sign!!!!! Thank the Lord.

October 2

Wow, I don't know where to start today! Should I begin with the fact that Mom is no longer in the ICU? Or that she was sitting up by herself on the edge of the bed for over five minutes? Or that I heard her voice today for the first time in two weeks?

As you can tell, I am really excited at the progress Mom is making. I can tell God is on the verge of showing Himself magnificently mighty on Mom's behalf, and I am just thrilled.

Mom was moved early this morning to the Neuro Special Care Unit, which is right above the Intensive Care Unit. This is a step down from the level of care given in the ICU. Still in the north wing of the hospital, same entrance to go in the hospital, just punch "5" instead of "4" on the elevator. She is in room 523. One must stop at the nurses' station before entering the NSCU ("Niskyew," in 'Nurse-ese') and use the black phone on the desk to call in to the unit to get permission to visit. Scheduled visiting hours are 10 AM - 2 PM, 4 PM - 6:30 PM, and 8 PM - 10 PM. They ask that only two people go in at a time because of the limited space available.

When I arrived in Mom's room today the physical therapist and occupational therapist were there giving Mom a workout. They got Mom sitting up on the edge of her bed, and as I mentioned before, they let go of her (while staying right behind her for safety of course) and let her sit on her own. They were pushing her gently forward, backward, and to each side to see if she could compensate by working her muscles to stay sitting upright, and she did a great job! Then they tried some finer motor skills with a toothbrush, lip balm, and a comb. Still a lot of work to be done there. Mom would not pick things up, but would hold them when they were put into her hand. Then she did not seem to know what to do with them. The therapist would guide her arm and hand with the appropriate action, but Mom could not repeat it on her own.

Later the speech therapist came in to start Mom in the process toward speaking again. The first thing she did was to "sit" Mom up in the bed by raising the head of the bed to a sitting position. Then she deflated the donut-shaped bubble that is inside Mom's windpipe, surrounding the trache tube--its purpose was to make sure that nothing went down the airway that wasn't supposed to be there. Once that was deflated, she put a one-way valve on the outside stub of the trache tube which allows Mom to breathe in through her tracheostomy but forces her to breathe out through her nose and mouth. That went well too. Then the therapist, Claudia, got Mom to make a sound with her vocal chords--the first one in two weeks! Words are still a bit of a challenge for Mom. I could tell that her brain was working and she knew what she wanted to say, but the process of making the words come out through her mouth is still a bit too complex for her. I tried to explain to Mom that the nature of her brain injury is such that things that seemed so simple before are going to take a lot of work to learn how to do again, but that this is normal and that she WILL get it! She nodded as though she understood, and I really think she does. I plan to work with her some as well on my own, which Claudia encouraged me to do.

Mom still has her lovely smile--several people have commented on how sweet she seems. When I told them that Mom has people all over the world praying for her, that she communicates regularly with many missionaries and they have all been notified to be praying for Mary Jane Ames, Mom got a great BIG smile on her face! Her heart still beats for missionaries just as much as it always has.

Thank you so much for your faithful prayers. God is answering, so don't stop! :-) We appreciate you so much, and Mom does too.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another encouraging sign

Alice here . . . Dad and I drove down to visit Mom today also, and saw something special. Grace (4) said "Hi, Nannie!"--and Mom mouthed the word "Hi" in return! No sound came out because of the tracheostomy, but that is the first time I've seen her attempt to speak. I thought it was exciting. Her precious little ones are great therapy!!

October 1

Mom is tired out today! The nurses had her sitting up on the edge of the bed, and then they actually got her into a standing position! They were supporting most of her weight, of course, but she was upright for a few seconds. They have been doing other therapy as well--especially moving arms and legs.

Chris and the 4 kids came down today, and for the first time we allowed the children to go in and see Nanny. You should have seen the smile beaming from Mom's face when she saw them! The kids were of course filled with questions about all the paraphernalia surrounding Mom's bed and all the tubes and hoses and cords. I told them that when a person has a big bruise inside their head like Nanny does, the rest of one's body does not work quite right, so it needs a lot of help.

The plan is for Mom to move to the step-down unit (which actually is a step-up because it's the next floor up) as soon as a bed becomes available. Mark, Mom's nurse today, said that the neurosurgeon told him that Mom would be moving there about 5:00 this afternoon. But when Mark contacted the nurses in the neuro special care unit about it, they said, "Um, I wonder who he plans to move out to make room??" So it remains to be seen whether Mom will actually be moved today or not. If she stays in the ICU tonight it will be only because they don't have room for her yet in the other unit.

Mom's IV medications have been discontinued, with the exception of an antibiotic every 8 hours which she will continue to receive as long as the drain tube in her head is in place. They have also discontinued the regular testing for vasospasms, as the last several have come back negative. They may do a follow-up test in a few days just to be certain.

Please be in prayer for Chris and the four Tignor children as they travel out to Michigan for a missions conference tomorrow. Pray for me as I miss them terribly! And please pray also for Jack and the three Corbett children as they are really missing Ali, and vice versa. Pray for decisions that need to be made, that we would have the Lord's clear leading in all matters. Thank you so much for holding us all up in your prayers! We really, really appreciate you and all that you are doing.