Today was the first day my mom was back from her weekend away back in Appleton. She spent some time with friends and family and headed back to the cabin for about half the weekend as well. I had talked to her Sunday night on her way home and she was excited to see me early Monday morning. breakfast came as usual right around 8- I had already been dressed at about 7 by the night nurse who was just finishing his shift. So when my mom arrived at 8:30 I was fully dressed and sitting up about halfway done with breakfast. She told me all about her weekend as I finished up and then spotted me as I transferred into my chair.
Like usual, my first activity was OT Hand Group where I started out by placing these small little pegs into a series of holes, pretty darn simple. After I was done with the pegs the group leader handed me a flannel button down long sleeved shirt and asked me to unbutton and rebutton all of the buttons going down the front. With my hand function that I have, I basically had to use the palms of my hand to pull the buttons out of the holes which worked pretty well. Now, buttoning the shirt back up was a totally different animal. You really need to hold onto that button in order to shove it through the slit in the shirt for each one. So after struggling for about ten minutes trying to even get one I came up empty handed and a bit frustrated. So the therapist dug into her box of magic tools and pulled out a device for buttoning. It was a type of holder that slipped onto your hand and had a wire piece coming out of it that created a little loop that you first put through the slit and then grabbed the button and pulled it through. This device worked great and in about two or three minutes I had the whole shirt buttoned. It's pretty amazing, all the little tools, whether it's a knife for cutting your food or a wire handle for buttoning your shirt, that have been created for people with low-functioning hands to do normal everyday activities. After the shirt was completely unbuttoned, OT Hand Group was pretty much over and it was time for OT one-on-one with Diane.
We headed to my room where she wanted to work on a couple different things in my bed. I transferred over into the bed which again I need to mention, keeps getting better and better- seeming to be less and less effort for me every day. The first thing that we did was testing me on my balance in order to cross off one of my goals which was five minutes sitting on the edge of the bed without assistance with my balance by using my hands. So she had me holding my hands in the air and then swinging them from side to side over my knees without having to use them to correct my balance. This was totally achievable but definitely wore down my abdomen because afterwords I felt a bit wobbly having worked my core so hard. After achieving the sitting on the edge test, Diane had me lay down in the bed and begin taking off my shoes and then my socks so as to put them right back on and try tying my shoes. I was able to take everything off with ease, but then when it came to putting on my socks and tying my shoes- there's a little higher difficulty level there. I did get both of my socks on and eventually had my shoes completely tied, but it was crazy- with the first shoe I tied the laces in probably 6 or 8 minutes and the second shoe I had tied in no more than 2. Talk about learning quickly! My roommate Joey was actually sitting in the room watching because he was bored and didn't have anything going on at the time. Both Diane and him were quite amazed how quickly I was able to tie my shoes with the function I have in my hands. Joey even said, "Boy, RIC should have video-taped that. That would be good for one of their learning sessions."
Once the shoes were tied our time was up and it was time to hurry up, get in my chair, and out by the reception desk for my exercise group. Since I've been here Kate, one of the full time PTs, has had an intern in which she has allowed to take over and run the exercise group. Now Kate has been telling me for over a week that she is excited to get rid of her intern and get her exercise group back. Just simply because it's boring for her to sit back and watch and not be leading the show. I had heard rumors that Kate really works you hard but as hard as Stacy, the intern, was working us and making us sweat, I just assumed that it couldn't be much worse. Boy was I wrong! Kate is some sort of animal/incredible hulk that doesn't let up for a minute. Truthfully, I couldn't completely keep up and every once in awhile I had to lay my hands in my lap and take a couple deep breaths while she just kept pumping along apparently trying to kill some of the people in our group. She kept asking Mr. Crocket, "Mr. Crocket did you fall asleep?" but we all knew that he was just pretending to fall asleep so that he wouldn't have to keep up with her intense work out. He's probably one of the sweetest old men in the world and quite comical too. At half time we took a break, got some water, and strapped on weights to our wrists. The second half is always pumping iron along with the arm motions. I did a little better with the weights as far as keeping up, but my god, was i soaked in sweat by the time the hour was over- and thoroughly exhausted. After exercise group I had lunch and a total of three hours before my next activity. So I went into the Canary Room, gobbled up some food with mom and decided to hop back in bed for a little nap. Not very often do I jump back in bed and take a little break, but truthfully, this morning took it out of me. I knew I had a physical therapy still to go at 3 and I wanted to be fresh for that because I had a couple of things that I had been wanting to do again and I figured a nap would be just the right way to recharge my battery a bit. I slept for about an hour and then in walked my good buddy and number one blogger, David Endow along with another great friend, Kevin Wilson. The two of them of course, came bearing gifts: the newest Dave cd, ESPN Magazine with an article about a 17 year old who is sailing around the world alone, and some cheese curds but really they certainly didn't need to bring a thing. It's pretty amazing that Endow and Wilson had come all the way from Long Beach, CA, and Albuquerque, NM. We all hung out, shared some stories and got me out of bed for my 3:00 PT. The two of them joined me into the gym where we found Carey and I let her know what I wanted to work on today. Over the weekend, for some reason or another, I got excited about trying to load myself into the beautiful '92 Dodge Spirit practice car on the 12th floor again. WIth all the other activities I've been doing, it's so obvious to me the strength I had gained, and I hadn't done the car for at least two weeks and was eager to try. We headed upstairs and of course it wasn't really too hard. Not saying that I didn't battle and struggle to push myself in and out of that car, but compared to last time, it's so much easier. We headed downstairs and the second thing on my agenda was to practise transferring onto a tub chair that sticks out of the tub and you slide yourself across to get into the shower. My wheelchair was able to line up pretty close to the tub chair so I asked Carey if she minded if I tried to transfer without the slide board, which is really the next step in transfers to eliminate that board. She said, "heck yeah- if you're ready and feel like you can make it, let's do it." So I went and gave it my best, throwing my body as hard as I could from chair to bench- and sure enough, I was able to do it! Now, I need a little bit more strength to get a bit of lift so as to be doing that type of transfer 100%, but boy, it felt good to be that close already. These two activities gobbled up the hour quite easily and my time was up. Endow, Kevin, and I headed back to my room to hang out and talk about everything that's going on. We came to the conclusion that Endow wasn't willing to come to Chicago without trying Gino's pizza so Wilson and him headed out to bring back supper for all of us. This worked well because it's been a month and I've been counting down the days til they need to take my catheter out. The catheter and bag are supposed to be changed after a month of use. Today just happened to be that lucky day. I wanted to wait until I was done with all my therapies to yank that puppy out. So while they were gone, the nurse came in and let her rip. Surprisingly, it was virtually painless, which was a huge relief- for I had been dreading it for somewhere around a month. The next question now is whether my body is ready to start peeing on it's own, or if I need to start a cathing program where I get on a schedule and start cathing myself, which is much safer than having a full time catheter and foley bag for my urine. With a catheter in all the time, there is a very high risk for infection so this is the best option and the smartest step to stay healthy.
Once Endow and Kevin returned, we all mowed down on some deliciously amazing pizza which is full flavored and piled with meat to the max. Once we were done eating, my sister Laura also arrived for a day and a half visit. We all sat around organizing my room, cleaning out my closet, and talking about anything that came to our minds. It started getting late and it was time to start the nightly routine. Today was definitely a great exercise-filled day and I will sleep like a baby tonight. Truthfully, I sleep like a baby every night. My mom has said I was always a really great sleeper- able to shut my eyes and be clocked out within minutes. Today is no exception. Good night, and farewell.