Derry is working very hard in rehab even though it is a struggle. Physical therapists have been amazed at Derry’s determination and strong will to recover. The therapists have been applying electrical stimulation on his left side. The Speech therapist has been using Vital Stem Therapy on his throat which increases his ability to chew and swallow. He successfully swallowed ten sips of water on Friday without aspirating. Occupational therapists are working on training him to do personal daily tasks. His cognitive ability and memory are incredible. Sequencing is one area that stroke patients find difficult, but Derry could tell the speech therapist every step in driving his truck beginning with getting the keys off the key ring and remembering to raise the garage door. One interesting observation that I had was when the OT was teaching Derry how to wash his hands, Derry washed and dried his right hand. The OT asked him if he had another hand. He picked up his left hand with his right hand and carefully washed and dried it. He has never forgotten to include the left hand. When the body’s left side is affected by a stroke, the patient does not see his left side. This also affects his ability to read at this time. As the left side recovers, he will become conscious that there is something to his left. This is why we ask visitors to always go to his left side to help force him to look to the left.
On Saturday afternoon, after Derry had been transferred to his wheelchair, his left arm began to shake for a second. I wondered if he were having some kind of attack. I also became excited that his left side might be “waking up.” One thought by a family member was that it might be a seizure since he was administered seizure medicine when at St. Joseph Hospital earlier. At some point Saturday, I observed Derry lying in bed holding his left hand with his right and massaging the left hand and arm with eyes closed. The speech therapist had shared with Derry and me some results of a research that used the MRI on three occasions to show how the brain was able to become activated when the patient imagined doing a task. In the first MRI, the patient was asked to do nothing during the hour. During the second MRI, the patient was instructed to continuously do a task during the hour (saying a word or moving a finger, etc). During the third task, the patient was asked to only think about doing the task that he performed in the second MRI. At the end of the third MRI, they found that the brain responded the same way as it did when the patient performed the task during the second MRI. As Derry was massaging the hand with his eyes closed, I am sure he was praying. He tells everyone that God is healing his left side. His words were, “It is a miracle.”
After lunch on Sunday, Derry was lying in bed when all of a sudden his left foot and ankle began to move. He called for me and stated, “Dora, look at my left foot!” It was moving back and forth. I ran over to him in the bed. We embraced , CRIED, and thanked Jesus for this healing. We immediately began to call our family members to tell them the good news. Derry was so emotionally moved that he could not to talk. I talked to our family members crying tears of joy. Later Derry called them and was able to talk to them.
As word spread throughout the Isle at Watercrest on Sunday afternoon among the nurses, aides, assistants, and the Director of Nursing, they all came one at a time to see what had happened. They were very moved with tears also. Many believed from the beginning that Derry would be healed because of his strong faith in God. One aide stated, “I knew that he would be healed because he asked that each morning at 7:00 a.m. we turn on his TV to Channel 14 so that he could hear Chris Osborne’s sermons “Verse by Verse.” He plays one of his favorite CD piano hymns during the day and in the evening while he is sleeping. Derry was very excited when Troy and his family came Saturday afternoon to visit, Troy downloaded his sermons that are on line now. We were also very blessed to have our niece Jennifer, Conner, Kathryn, and friends Gerald and Sandra come for a visit. Every day, he has had faithful visitors who have come to pray with him, encourage him, read books to him, and help him with his I-Pad. Dr. Steve Wikse, a former colleague from the LAMS Department at the TAMU School of Veterinary Medicine, continues to remain committed to come on a regular basis to read and discuss veterinary articles and other interesting topics with Derry. Steve is ministering to Derry through these readings and discussions that they both find stimulating. Other veterinarians have come to visit and share common experiences in the practice of veterinary practice. Steve’s wife Bonnie is a dear friend of ours and comes for a visit when her schedule allows.
On Tuesday, February 7, Derry appreciated having the entire McDonald’s Coffee Club (14 plus visitors) come to visit him at the Isle at Watercrest . The Isle prepared an array of goodies which they served to the men in the Club Room. We were all very pleased that Dr. Gene King (age 94) was able to attend. Tom Gibbs brought him to the coffee. Dr. King and Dee Dee have a very special relationship.
Grandson Bill Johnson’s Mia (our four-year old great granddaughter) made Dee a beautiful piece of artwork which he has mounted in his room. Troy’s children’s artwork is hanging on the wall along with the other artwork mounted. Patrick’s family came by for a visit on Saturday and brought him the biggest Valentine card we have ever seen. Other friends brought Valentine cards and candy as they came for a visit. Several SS friends came by during the weekend bringing book CD’s for him to listen to. He and I listened to three CD’s from Tom Brokaw’s book. Another set of CD’s that we will listen to are from one of Rick Warren’s book. I brought Derry a large vase of red roses. I placed a new bouquet of flowers in the vase after the roses wilted.
We were blessed to have long time friends, Dick and Libby Day from Shreveport, La., come for a visit. They joined us for lunch in the private dining room at the Isle. During and after lunch, they helped set-up his I-Pad. That evening while at our house, Dick did some clean-up work on our home computer. They knew about the I-Pad through an e-mail and just knew how to help. Also, a week later, Mike Beggs and his wife came by for a visit. Mike gave Derry some pointers on the use of the I-Pad while I had a delightful visit with his wife. They were the ones who helped us at Reed Arena when Derry had his stroke. We will always be grateful to them for knowing what to do.
We were so blessed to have our only child, Juanita Johnson (Nita) from Miami, FL, come to spend some time with us from February 15-19. She was to arrive at Easterwood Airport on Wednesday evening at 10:45. I managed to drive to the airport in one of the most dangerous fog situations that I have ever experienced when going to pick up her at that time. We waited several minutes for the plane to land, but we received the message that the plane had circled over CS for about 30 minutes trying to land. Because of the dense fog, the pilot could not see the lights on the runway to safely land. They returned to the Houston airport and were made to believe that there might be another late night flight to CS, but that did not happen. Nita tried to get a hotel room but without success. At 2:15 A.M., she decided that she would make a bed on the seats in the baggage area and get a few hours sleep before the first flight out on Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. She was able to arrive in CS at 11:45 a.m. and was in her dad’s room by 12:30 p.m. Even though she went through that ordeal, she only missed 3-4 hours of time being with her dad.
Nita was truly amazed at her dad’s progress. Someone asked her what she thought about his progress. She stated, “I am pleased 100%.” She spent the four days literally taking care of him as much as she could. She attended his therapy classes and assisted him in transitions in the room from the wheelchair to other places. She also had him doing some of his therapy exercises when he was not in therapy. She even had him doing some facial exercises while we were waiting for our lunches to be served. She wheeled her dad down to the first floor for lunch for three days in the beautiful spacious dining room with lots of windows. She was very pleased as she flew back to Miami on Sunday. She did not have any glitches in her flight home.
On Thursday, February 16, approximately 20 members of the Louis Bonds Men’s SS class came for a time of eating and visiting with Derry. The Isle at Watercrest staff prepared a table with all kinds of goodies, coffee, and punch in the large dining room on the first floor. Derry has a great love and respect for these men that he has known for over 20 years and was very honored that they came. Three of the wives who accompanied their husbands have been close friends of mine for these 20 years. Nita enjoyed seeing these friends whom she has met from time to time when she came for visits.
On Friday, February 17, Nita pushed Derry in the First Heart Walk at IAW. She pushed him around the perimeter of the Watercrest campus. I followed behind with Cindy the activities director who was walking Dr. Turner’s dog, Zora. It was a fun time for everyone. Many residents from the other Watercrest buildings participated in the Heart Walk. On Saturday afternoon, Nita took her daddy for another stroll on the sidewalks around the beautiful areas on the Watercrest campus. He really enjoyed the outings being pushed by his daughter. He loved being with her every minute that she was around. After she left, he looked at me and stated, “She is tough!” I told him that she did that because she loves him and wants him to fully recover.
We are so blessed to be in a facility with such an effective administrator, David Armand, who expects and sees that his staff provides the very best care for the Isle’s residents. Derry’s speech therapist, Jane Colbert, has done an incredible job in rehabilitating his chewing and swallowing through the use of the Vital Stem Therapy. She also taught us so much about how the stroke affects victims and the importance of therapies for them. She continually cited research studies on strokes. She reported that Derry is doing well with a regular diet and can independently tell you what strategies are used for swallowing safely. Because water travels so fast when swallowed, it is usually the last beverage that a stroke victim can swallow successfully. He continues to take his pills with thickened liquids, but drinks water in small sips throughout the day. As he is successfully swallowing water, they have reduced the amount of water that they put in the feeding tube. Because his appetite is back to normal, and he can eat regular food, Dr. Turner stopped the midnight feeding in the feeding tube. Today, February 22 his weight was 222 lbs. and a gain for the week of 6 ozs. They do not want him to gain back the 30+ pounds that he has lost since his stroke. Derry will continue the Shaker exercises which will be a part of his home program (facial massage, the Elvis snarl, and smile on left side). His cognition is excellent as he read ads and answered correctly 14/15 questions from this exercise. He can do problem-solving activities with no cues. Peripheral vision is affected on the left side which is why we have visitors go to his left side to force him to use that side for vision. Scanning will be a very important skill for him when he begins to walk independently.
Bridget, his occupational therapist, is so pleased with his progress. He can perform all grooming procedures independently. As of this day, he can make a transfer by standing and pivoting with moderate assist (50% self and 50% assist). He can lift his left leg up on the therapy bed from floor with 50% assist from OT. He has more left finger extinctions and more wrist movement. He did five to 20 reps with each muscle in arm.
Alicia, the physical therapist who is assisted by Sylwva, put him on the Nu-Step for the first time on Monday. He averaged making 73 repetitions per minute during ten minutes on the machine. At the end of 10 minutes, he asked for water. He then asked if he could do five more repetitions because the exercise felt good to his left thigh. He felt that this activity was strengthening his legs. He can now stand with minimal assistance.
We were told on Wednesday by the therapists that their goal for him is to walk out on his own from the Isle at Watercrest. He told them that he is no hurry to leave IAW because he likes the facility, the administration, staff, and therapists.
Many of you have been concerned about my well-being. I am doing beautifully. I go up to IAW around 10:00 a.m. and return home around 5:30 p.m. I am in the process of preparing our income tax return and use my time maintaining the home and keeping up with our mail and business transactions. I attended the B/CS Christian Women’s luncheon at Pebble Creek Country Club on Tuesday and enjoyed being with Christian ladies from my church and community. I will go to the Isle early today to have lunch with Derry in the large dining room on the first floor. The weather is to be warm with the sun shining which will allow us to take a “short” stroll outside.
Again, we want to thank you for your PRAYERS, thoughts, cards, calls, e-mails, and other support. He can read his e-mails on his I-Pad in his room.
February 23, 2012