April 16, 2008

We're Training at the YMCA

Life has been busy in the past few weeks since my husband and I joined the YMCA. They've got him on a three day a week program of weigh training for his left arm---his right one is totally flaccid with not an ounce of movement. And he's doing a series of standing and sitting from his wheelchair, using a weigh machine to pull himself up. While standing, every third time he tries to stand on his neglect leg (right) for a few seconds. Supposedly this will to help wake up the nerve endings. Already, I can see an improvement in his transfers in and out of his wheelchair. This winter after his aorta aneurysm surgery it was taking as many as fifteen tries for him to stand up enough to transfer and today he did it several times on the first try. Strong transfers can make the difference between staying at home or going to a nursing home so this is a worthy goal, believe me.

Don is walking some at the YMCA, too, and also working on leg exercises---some of which are trying to wake up the muscles that can help him kick his right leg out and up. When Don was in physical therapy last fall, they isolated the muscle groups that aren't working for him so those are the ones we're hoping to fire up now. All the "normal" people coming and going from the Y are encouraging and positive to Don as they pass by. It's a heart-warming and upbeat place to go.

When Don finishes up his routine, I leave him at the Y's coffee shop and then I go do the bike or treadmill for fifteen or twenty minutes. The original plan was for me to do the swim classes on Tuesday and Thursday, which are early in the morning before Don gets out of bed. (I loved those classes when I took them last summer.) But so far, our weekly schedules have been so crazy-busy that it just hasn't worked out that way. That will change soon. At least I hope so because I just signed us both up for a sit-and-fit group class, also at the YMCA. It will probably be a little low key for me but I have to be there with Don because of his language disorders, so I decided I might as well take it too. It's an opportunity for him to interact with other people with physical limitations which I figure will be better for him than the exercise.

On the speech front: A month or so ago I mentioned that Don---for the first time since his stroke 5/21/2000---spontaneously tried to spell a word he couldn't say. This past week he couldn't say 'celery' and I ask him to write it and he was actually able to do it without any help at all, misspelled but still recognizable. His language is still mostly nouns-only with a very few two and three words phrases thrown in and virtually no written abilities, not even the alphabet. The professor who oversees the speech group we're still going once a week recommended working on writing, since Don's brain seems to be ready for it. So we're back to doing homework at the kitchen table again.

There you have it, the reason why my real life is taking time away from my virtual life. ©


Jack Payne said...

I think where my heart bleeds most for you, Jean, is with something I can identify with--constant transference, in and out of a wheel chair.

I spent a year in a wheel chair after a near-death motor vehicle wreck on the highway 40 years ago.
The memories are so vivid of what it did to my family--in trial, tribulation, strain, and stress--that I can't empathize with you enough. Your constitution must be made of barbed wire, rawhide, spikes, and crazy glue to withstand what you are going through.

The Aphasia Decoder.... said...


Most family caregivers grow into the job and they are able to do things they never thought they were cut out to do. It helps that my husband has a great attitude and is rarely down or depressed which is remarkable, given his situation.

My heart goes out to family caregivers who deal with survivors who are angry at their circumstances and they take it out on their families. That's rather common in the early months following an accident or illness, until they pass that acceptance threshold.


parlance said...

Jean, it's so exciting to think of that first word!! I have a disabled niece who is sixteen and has not said her first word yet - much less spelled one - it will be so exciting the day she says something. On the other hand, if she never says anything, that's okay too, of course.

The Aphasia Decoder.... said...


It's hard for some people to understand how happy you can be over something so small as a misspelled, first written word. I know you do. Thanks for the comment.


Anonymous said...

Stand strong. Sit strong. Smell strong? I don't know how we get by, but we do. That damned '70s bumper sticker, "Keep on Truckin'" is stuck to your butt, ain't it?

BookingAlong said...

Jean - Reading your blog is my daily therapy, even if I don't always find time to comment. The person I help nurture suddenly couldn't walk yesterday, a wake-up call for sure! I rushed to read your latest and it got me out of my tendency to feel gloomy and just...get on with it.

Also, what Jack Payne said...rawhide, spikes and crazy glue. That works for me.

BookingAlong said...

The prognosis yesterday? It is time for a wheelchair. That suggestion did not go over well. We're still working on getting her to use a walker. Okay, I've gotten my daily fix of your work, sorely needed today. I can understand the joy of a first word, however misspelled. After triple bypass surgery, I was perfectly happy to see my father write, "I lv ooh" Astute business person but never could spell. However, the above writing sample was a combination of anesthesia affecting the brain.

BookingAlong said...

P.S. I had no idea about Cooper till just now. I'm truly sorry. Levi is a cutie :)

Jake of Florida said...


This is from the Barkalot Boyz'"mom," Joan.

I knew when I read Cooper and Levi's blog at first, and saw how you dealt with Cooper's going to the Rainbow Bridge, that you had to have some very special abilities to deal with loss.

Now that I've read a bit of your diaries amd this blog -- I see that I was correct.

Ironically -- if you believe in serendipity, which I do -- I found an unexpected connection when I read your blogs. My aunt, who is 88, had a stroke a few weeks ago, and is now paralyzed on her right side. This is the second in three years -- the first left only a few traces. This time, unfortunately, she waited a day, Her speech is recognizable, and her mind is sharp -- but there she is in this situation that you know all too well. She's at a rehab facility -- but the prognosis isn't all that great.

I will send her daughter, my cousin, the info you left on your blog about hard-to-find information.

But I just wanted to take off my doggie mask and say hello in person.