Get your tissues ready!
It’s a phrase that brings several memories to my mind. When I would be down from time to time growing up, I can remember looking up into Dad’s eyes when he would say it to me for encouragement. In basketball as a child, I can remember my coach admonishing my friends and me to keep our heads up while dribbling, instead of looking down at the ball, so that we could see what was going on around us. After today, I have a new memory.
My mom keeping her head up in physical therapy.
She struggled to do it. She kept it up with a slight quiver and a noticeable grimace, but she kept it up. Dad and I cheered her on. When we did, she opened her eyes a bit wider and showed us a small half-smile. I took a picture.
Mom really had a good morning. When we got to her facility, her roommate had been moved to another room. We weren’t thankful Mom was alone in the room, necessarily. The other lady had been very, very sweet. She told me every time I was in there she was praying for Mom. However, because of some special needs, she had an oversized bed. Like REAL BIG! Dad could hardly be wheeled into the room, there was such little extra space.
Her bed took up so much room, that the physical therapists had elected to do Mom’s therapy in her bed the last three days, rather than lifting her out of the bed, into the wheelchair, and rolling her down for more in-depth therapy in the training room. We were not pleased with that, because Mom had been making progress. We didn’t want that to slow down, unless something related to her health caused it. So, we asked if they could for sure get her up today. When we got there, they were preparing to come and get her up. Her roommate and her oversized bed had been moved to another room.
The speech therapist came in first. Then, the nurse came in. A bit of speech therapy and some medicine, and the physical therapists came in. Charlotte, the speech therapist, paused her therapy and said she would rather finish it with Mom sitting up in the wheelchair in the training room. She could do more with Mom there. We were cool with that. More is better right now, because Mom seems to be catching some momentum therapy-wise.
They lifted her out of the bed and into the wheelchair with that special lift. Mom seemed kind of sleepy and out of it at first, but she began to awaken as we neared the therapy room. She kept her eyes closed a lot. She mouthed they were dry. We asked for eye drops, which they ordered. In the meantime, they got to working with Mom.
Dad and I sat outside the door watching. It was quite a show.
The physical therapist, Rosalie, got Mom situated and then took turns working with her with Charlotte (the speech therapist). When Charlotte tried to give Mom thickened cranberry juice, Mom didn’t seem to like it much. I told Mom that if she would get all those muscles and systems going again to swallow and talk, I would go get her a Venti Black Iced Tea, sweetened with classic sugar, light on the ice. Charlotte looked up and told me I could go get her one right now, that she would thicken it and give it to Mom.
I headed to get her one. While I was gone, Charlotte plugged Mom’s tracheotomy. When she did, she did talking exercises with her. She got her to say “ahhh” again. And then, she moved beyond “ahhh.” She repeated a few other sounds, while Dad cheered her on. Then, Charlotte asked Mom, “What’s your husband’s name?”
SHE SAID, LIKE MADE THE SOUND THROUGH HER VOCAL CORDS, “Jimmy.”
You can only imagine how much that meant to Dad. To hear her say his name – what a relief to her that word and that sound from that woman!!!
Mom went from there, saying a few sentences. They were muffled, though, so Charlotte nor Dad nor Rosalie could understand what she was saying or asking. They didn’t care. All three were thrilled that Mom had “talked.”
When I returned with the black iced tea (I didn’t get a Venti – Charlotte said she could only have a little bit), they were still chattering with excitement. “Yay Mom!!!” I exclaimed.
Rosalie worked her hard. It was great. I asked Mom several times if she was okay and thankful to be getting the workout. She nodded yes each time. She expressed pain and discomfort from the time to time, but when asked affirmed it as evidence of stiffness, not warning sign of an issue. Rosalie worked her arms and hands and fingers. She worked her toes and feet and legs. Then, she asked Mom to sit up.
Mom couldn’t on her own. She didn’t have the strength. She tried, but she couldn’t. So, we helped her lean forward to sit up straight. At first, Rosalie stretched her forward, leaning her forward with her elbows bearing the weight sitting on top of her legs. She kept her stretched there for a while. Then, she asked her to sit back up straight on her own. Again, Mom tried, but struggled to do so.
So, Rosalie got some help. She put her right foot up in Mom’s chair with her right leg behind Mom’s back. She and her training partner then helped Mom sit up straight, using Rosalie’s leg to lean Mom back and straighten Mom’s back and shoulders up. Then, she worked out Mom’s shoulders, trying to stifle the stiffness with assisted up and down movements. Mom seemed to enjoy it.
She had worked her for a while in that position, when she asked Mom to try staying in that position on her own. Remember – the trainers helped her get in the position in the first place. She’s not there yet to sit up on her own. But, this was a big step! If she could stay in that position once put there, then that meant she could work toward getting to that position on her own. They asked her to keep her head up.
You can see it in the picture. They then held up her up, letting her rest. They asked her to do it again. She did. They rested her again. They then set her up and asked her to do it one final time for the day. She did. Then, they leaned her back into the wheelchair.
Everyone, including Mom was both exhilarated and exhausted. What a great indication of her progress! We were pumped!!!
They got Mom ready to head back down to her room and lift her back in her bed. We waited with her for a while. She went to sleep. We left for a late lunch.
I am sure Dad has told himself to keep his head up on many occasions since the accident. Today, Mom not only kept her head up, she lifted Dad’s, as well. And mine. And all of yours who love her and have been praying for her continued healing.
Answered prayers everyday. God is so near.
We are going to keep Mom in the LTAC she’s currently in for now rather than moving her. One of the reasons for that decision is due to limitations insurance-wise. Another reason is because they’ve responded to us. They’ve been more communicative and attentive and clean since we communicated our concerns and brought to their attention our frustration about their lack of cleanliness and lazy care. We’ve decided to stick it out to see if the changes stick it out, too.
And we really appreciate the therapists. They have been great all along. They were amazing today, tearing up and cheering like Mom was a part of their family.
Please keep praying for Mom and Dad’s healing. Please pray for Mom’s infections to be eradicated. The meds and the prayers I know are hard at work. Thank you.
I pray that Mom’s progress and Dad’s courage and God’s nearness through all of this inspires you to keep your head up, too. I know it has had that effect on me. That’s an infection worth spreading.
We’ll post at you later.
Posted in Praises, Requests, & Updates