Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday March 30, 2009

Sorry to all of the followers of the blog as we were not able to post anything last night.  We were not able to get in touch with Donald and there was not much going on yesterday as Christy is not scheduled for any sort of rehab on the weekends.  Anyhow, this post is not going to be very positive as Christy had a pretty tough 24 hours.

Christy was startled late last night, around 2am, by a noise in her room.  Not having the best vision right now, Christy called out asking who was there.  There was no answer, so she called out again hoping that someone would respond and put her at ease.  Still, no answer.  Christy's anxiety began to increase because she could tell the sound was coming from the room, but no one was answering to her calls.  So, the nurses immediately called Donald over from the apartment and he of course came running.  When Donald arrived, he was able to calm Christy down and assure her that there was no one in the room that was not supposed to be there.  Of course, Christy not wanting to seem like she was hearing things, pointed out right in front of Donald when she again heard the noise.  It turns out it was Christy's roommate Wendy who is also recovering from a neurological injury.  Donald assured Christy that is was Wendy and that she had nothing to fear, but the damage had already been done and Christy had a hard time dealing with the anxiety.  After a few hours of Don comforting her, she was finally able to relax and get some rest.  Little did Donald know, Christy's anxiety was going to carry over to the next morning in the PT/OT center.

Somehow, there was a mix up in the scheduling of Christy's rehab this morning.  From what I gather in talking to Alan, Christy was taken to the PT/OT center for her daily work.  But, for some reason, there were no therapists there to assist her.  Christy was left in the PT center for upwards of two hours with no one helping her.  As you can imagine, Christy's anxiety only grew throughout the time that she was left alone.  She is not seeing that great, she is having a tough time walking and she is completely dependent on the support of Don and the therapists.  Unfortunately, Don had gone to catch up on some rest during her daily therapy session because he was so exhausted from the night before.

Long story short, once they realized that Christy had been unattended for an extended period of time, it was too late.  Christy was pissed and she let everyone know about it.  So, not much rehab occurred today due to the temporary mis-scheduling of Christy's rehab.  Christy was too upset to work this afternoon, but did feel pretty bummed that she had gotten so upset.  Honestly, I don't blame her for losing it as I would be just as scared if I were in a similar condition.  She plans to apologize to her therapists in the morning and will make everyone love her again.  We all know she possesses that incredible skill that no matter how much she pisses you off, you can't stay mad at her.

Christy, if you are reading this, you did much better than I did when I was  in the hospital with a brain bleed.  You have been there three weeks and have only blown up once.  I was in the hospital three days and verbally abused just about everyone I came in contact with.  You should be very proud that you have held it together so well and have remained positive throughout this struggle to regain control.  You are, without a doubt, a stronger person than I and I only hope to develop the same level of fortitude you display on a daily basis.  We are very proud of you and love you with everything we got.

PS-  Christy posted comments to the last posting from Saturday night.  Read the comments going forward because Christy plans to pop in every so often since Donald has the laptop up there now.  Gabby will be back on duty tomorrow night, I promise.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hi everyone!  Having some technical difficulties getting the pictures from Don today.  But we'll have them up tomorrow!
Don and I talked about Christy's progress on Friday, too.  The newest thing she's doing is with
the ballerina bars.  Since she's doing so well on the Mat standing and moving (left), she's 
advanced to the bars.  They have her strapped at the legs in two places to hold he steady & supported.  She has to do the rest of the balancing
 and stabilizing to stand in front of the bars! Fabulous!   She was having a combo OT & PT class, and OT worked on her vision at the same time.  They had a color "toy-like" thing.  They tell you to put the cup on "green", then when you get it, they tells you "now 
put the cup on blue".... and so on.  Christy is awesome with all the colors, especially blue, red, orange, & purple... yellow and green gives her a hard time sometimes, but that's OK.  Christy is standing and concentrating on her color exercise at the same time.  

Christy was on "skype"with the  kids tonight!  Skype is like telephone on the computer with webcam video.  You can see each other on the computer screen.  Christy was pulling herself up to a standing position to show the kids how well she's doing!!!

It's the weekend, so Chirsty & Don hang out and enjoy each other's company- no therapy.  They spend time at the apartment and get some R&R in to get ready to tackle another week of therapies!  

March 27, 2009

Got some more pictures for you of the snowy snowy Denver city!  This is a picture of Chris & Don on the skybridge.  Look at that snow outside!  What a trip!  Everything is white!  Christy has her glasses on in this picture!
This picture on the right is some poor guy trying
 to get into his frozen car.  Look at the tires, 
they're partially buried in the powder!  That's gotta be cold!  These pictures are taken from Christy's window in her room.  At one point, they said that they couldn't see very far because the snow was creating a fog-like
This is a picture that kept getting erased & blocked on yesterday's post (right).  It's Christy's first trip to the apartment in the blizzard snow!!  She's got her new wheels too.  Having the apartment is a blessing.  It brings some normalcy to the routine.  Being in the "hospital" setting on a daily basis gets boring.  The apartment is so close that it's an easy trip over, but you get to take in the fresh air for a short ride.  Christy and Don both enjoy their time together just hanging out in the apartment.  Cooking, eating & just enjoying each other's
 company, relaxing.  This is a sweet picture of Christy just chillin' out on the couch.  She's got all of her pillows surrounding her... Chris is the pillow queen!  It's kinda like going HOME after a hard days work.  Craig really thinks of their patients as a whole person.  It makes the therapy that much more tolerable.   

Tomorrow is the weekend  and that means time to kick back until Monday!  We love you Christy! 

Continue sending all the love and prayers to Denver... it heals Christy daily.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today was another WONDERFUL day at Craig!  The exciting event of the morning was the Colorado BLIZZARD that they experienced today.  The snow just kept coming down.  Don was explaining how HUGE the snowflakes were!! At it was the first time for Don seeing falling snow.  Not sure about Christy, but she was freezing cold, too!  This picture is Christy's first time going to the apartment in the Denver snow. she's getting pelted with huge snowflakes blizzard wind!  Burr!   There are more pictures of the snow storm adventure today! Christy's  new wheelchair is shown in these pictures and has smaller wheels so her feet can reach the ground and she can push herself forward or backwards!  Don was telling me how cute she is when she "thinks she's funny" and pushes herself away from him and he turns
 around wondering where she is... they both start laughing!  Christy even drove her wheelchair back to the room from the gym today!!! ALRIGHT! Go Christy!  Her vision seems to slowly be improving every day as well! Really happy about that!

This night picture in the snow is of Luis and Don's trip taking Christy back to the hospital from the apartment.  Alan made dinner and they got done late, so they had to go around to the west wing the long way.  The doors shut down after a certain 
time, so you have to a further entrance to get in!  Don was saying how funny it was to see how deep the snow got.  They got stuck and couldn't push Christy any more... Luis and Don had to carry Christy across the street.... they were rolling
 laughing the entire way and were having a blast "playing" & getting stuck in the snow!  Don sent this picture of Christy with her grip tightly around the Diet Coke she wouldn't leave in the apartment.  Don called her the Diet Coke Queen because she refused to leave that cup of soda in the apartment... she just had to bring  it with them.

Today was rounds day.  The team does rounds together ("Rounds" are a mini-meeting where all the disciplines (PT, OT, speech, etc.) come and talk about Christy).   When Dr. Ripley was asking Christy to do some "la la la la" and "ma ma ma ma" sounds, she did them so well! She even impressed Malea, the speech therapist!  Remember Christy's tongue was uncomfortable and she had a little lapse in progress with the discomfort.  Christy is such a hard worker that she was able to overcome that discomfort and practice some tongue strengthening exercises Don found on the web.  She was even able to Puff up her Cheeks when she couldn't ever do that before!  This was the first thing in the morning when Christy has all of her energy stored up from sleeping at night!  Later in the day Chirsty gets tired from all of the mental concentration and physical activity.

PT & OT did a combo session once today & then Chris saw PT & OT separately in a second session. Sorry that part of the picture is being cut off.. but Eva and Kate (PT) have Christy sitting in an Indian style sitting pose!  YAY!! That's so so wonderful... Christy is just getting so so stretched out and back towards normal!  Very Cool Chris!  All the therapist really enjoy working with Christy's positive and hard working personality.  It's great.  Christy is making great progress!  Christy had standing frame again with Dan today.  They are trying to fit Christy into standing frame more times a week.  It's really paying off, because Christy is so much more flexible.  PT brings that measuring tool to measure Christy's leg angles.  Today they were so impressed while measuring because it showed that she' at -7 degrees.  This means that Christy is only seven degrees away from having her legs strait!! Yes!  That was a measurement from her "good leg" the right leg.  The good news is that the Left Leg is only -10 degrees away.  This means ten degrees away is a completely strait leg. They are also trying to lay Christy flat on her stomach to fully stretch her better.  Slowly but surely!

Occupational therapy tested some skills today. They had Christy pick up the cup and drink from it.  They started Christy on trying to feed herself.  She had some yogurt and was able to stir it up herself.  She had a harder time trying to feed herself, but we'll be working on that more!  The other exercise was grabbing the ball and putting it into another container.  Then grabbing the ball from the container and taking it out.  Christy was accurate in her aim for the ball and used a delicate touch which meant she really had control over what she was seeing and doing! Yay!

One of the coolest things Don saw today was the Barium Swallow test.  This is the exam in radiology that takes a moving x-ray video of her swallowing various foods.  There is a dye called Barium that the food is soaked in so it shows up on x-ray.  Various textures and consistencies of foods & bread were tested, one at time.  They fed Christy the food and watched it being chewed and swallowed!  It sounded real cool to watch!
Don learned that a couple of Christy's wisdom teeth are still in! HA!

The blog is starting to erase my pictures one at a time, and is refusing to upload them as well, so I think i have to share more pictures in another bog entry! much love, gabby

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You guys are in for a real treat tonight as I am going to take a stab at explaining some of the medical stuff that Gabby does such a good job of explaining. Bear with me, I will do the best I can with the explanation, but I have Donald-itis. It's a male condition to where we can sum up an epic event or story in very few words. Just kidding, well, sort of.

Anyhow, Christy had a pretty full day as it got started with a standard cardiology test. It was to scan the function of her heart, more specifically the movement of the valves and the heart itself. According to Don, it was routine test that unofficially looked good according to the cardiologist performing the exam. It was unofficial because the cardiologist has to thoroughly review the scans once they are done ensuring nothing is going on that is not caught at the first glance. The cardiology exam did cause Christy to miss her OT this morning, but Chris and Don did not seem to worried about it.

After the exam, they worked with Melea on her speech therapy. They said that her tongue seems to be healing from the bite and her swallowing is getting a lot better. She should be back to eating as she was before the bite within the next day or two. It will also allow her progress in the clarity of her speech.  Next, Christy spent some time in the rocking chair working on her vision. Neither Gabby or I are very sure on how this helps with her vision, but that is what we were told. Unfortunately, Christy is only able to tolerate around 15 minutes before he begins to get nauseous. They are working towards getting her to be able to be on the rocking chair for a half hour. Not sure what the significance of the half hour is either.

Finally, rounding out the morning of events, Christy did spend some time in physical therapy. In viewing the pictures, you'll see that she spent time on the bike, standing frame and the Swiss ball. She pedaled for 15 minutes and did very well according to Donald on the bi
ke. Not sure how long she was in the standing frame, but I do recall Donald mentioning that she was in the complete upright position. I cannot remember what he called it, but she is pretty much straight up, with frame support of course. Her time spent on the Swiss ball was progressive as well. She was supporting herself for the most part. The Swiss ball works at strengthening the core muscles of your body. 
Once they strengthen her core, they can begin to work on the extremities of her posture. It is a common practice in weight training as everything starts with the core (abs, obliques, lower back, etc.) muscles.  By the way, you can really tell who Dylan takes after when looking at the swiss ball pic.

As you can see, it was a pretty full morning. I am sure they took a break to eat and rest before moving on to the af
ternoon tests. Christy went to see a rehab optometrist this afternoon that focuses on helping to correct problems with people's vision. Through the tests, Amy (Occupational Therapist) said that three things stood out. First, they found some issues with her visual field which is basically our entire view. Like Dr. Ripley stated in the conference call on Monday, they think that Christy has some holes in her vision. Imagine Swiss cheese here and think about how spotty your vision would be if you were looking through Swiss cheese. The technical talk is that she has cortical visual impairment that is caused by the damage that she received in/on her occipital lobe. The occipital lobe is a region in the back of your brain, right above the neck that controls and maintains vision. The Doc's are not sure if it is going to get better, but they are going to attack it with exercises just like they have everything else. The second thing noticed during the visit to the vision clinic was that her vision becomes vertically misaligned when she is required to look up. She experiences double vision and becomes nauseous. They are treating it with a new pair of glasses that have a light prism on them that are supposed to help. The only feeling I can think of is how you feel when you have drank too much and you try to look up. People fail the field sobriety test on this one all the time and I am not speaking from first hand experience. Third, Christy continues to have problems moving her eyes when they are planned movements. The second and third findings are not new and they are going to continue to work on them.

Quite a day, but as you can see in the pics, Christy was working hard and seemed in very good spirits. Donald also received the laptop that he ordered. If any of you know about Skype, you can video conference with them. Just got to www.skype.com and download the free program. The video conference is also free as it is transmitted over the Internet. You would have to call them first to tell them to set up.

Keep the prayers and energy coming. It is working!

PS- Gabby added some pictures to last night's post. Check em out! Also, if you want t-shirts, send your orders to gouveia44@hotmail.com. They are taking orders until April 1st (Gabby's &  our sister Cathi's birthday).


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Today was a great day! Christy is still working on getting full function of their tongue.  It's so difficult for her to chew and speak well with the discomfort.  Christy had an entire yogurt today, so she's starting to get back to eating and can  leave that tube feeding behind again!  

Occupational therapy utilized the rocking chair again today.  Christy sits on the rocking chair during her 30 minute reserved time slot in the morning.  Christy can tolerate about twenty minutes and uses her feet to control her rock and to stabilize herself.  Christy also has some custom glasses.  The glasses are not prescription, they are just lenses.  These glasses have scotch tape on specific angles on the nasal end  to try and block part of the visual field in hopes of  a clearer visual picture.  Other patients state that they can tell "where things are for the first time".  Christy had these glasses a few days previous, but they added another piece of scotch tape over the right eye across the top today.  
With the tape on, the eyes could be forced to focus and not deviate.  The tape over the top of the right eye is related to the fact that Chrsity closes her right eye when she looks up.  The therapist feel that Christy gets double vision when she looks up and that is why she closes the eye.  It also makes her feel sick to look up.  So far the glasses haven't been extremely affective, but we'll keep trying.  (i couldn't find a picture of glasses with the tape going the other direction, but wanted to show some with occlusion-- these probably help another disorder of the eye)

Christy went to the repositioning clinic today to help make a better seat for her wheelchair.  
The room is full of all kinds of wheelchair accessories & parts ... more than we can imagine! When Christy switched to her upright chair from the Tilt chair, Christy battled nausea.  We don't really know  why.  Today Christy got a new back on her chair to hopefully decrease the nausea.  Christy's nausea is preventing her from getting the full work out at therapy & is very uncomfortable.  That's why this is an issue.  They want her to progress to the upright chair instead of staying on the tilt wheelchair.  They are continually concerned about Christy having the right position and posture.  They want Christy to be sitting correctly so her spine doesn't curve.  

Other than that, just a lot of lovin' going on! Until tomorrow.  

p.s. Kaeo may be helping me blog on days when I work to help me out- so stay tuned!

Monday, March 23, 2009- FAMILY MEETING DAY

Today was filled with a lot of information.  The family gathered by phone in a conference call.  Alan, Luis, Don & Chsristy were meeting with Dr. Ripley, the rehab doctor, Dr. Shraa- Psychology, PT, OT, Speech, Nursing, & Family Service to discuss Christy's rehab plan.

Dr. Ripley began by showing the MRI done at Craig.  He explained that a MRI is a 3D picture that they can cut into slices.  He said a lot of things that we had heard before  but it was good to hear them again, explained a little differently.  Dr. Ripley told us that Christy suffered from hypoxic (lack of oxygen) Ischemic (lack of blood) Encephalopathy (disease of the brain).  He explained that with this injury you can have subtle or no injury noted on the MRI.... Christy has 
some differences.  There are areas of her Cerebellum (part of the brain nearer to the neck) that have grey areas where a clot prevented the tissue from getting oxygen.  We're concerned about the lack of blood flow here. Higher in the "Occipital lobe" where the vision center is also had damage from lack of oxygen.    Christy is having problems with her vision.  Dr. Ripley explained what he thought was missing.  The eyes are receiving the information but the screen is missing to project the picture on.  The picture can not be realized by the brain.  Also, they feel that
 Chrsity is having trouble controlling her eye movements to focus on one thing.  She's having a hard time seeing the whole environment around her.  Dr. Ripley things that if Christy could hold her eyes focusing on one object she would see holes in the picture, like Swiss Cheese.  Christy will be seen by two eye doctors that specialize in two specific parts of vision and the brain.  On Wednesday, Christy has an appointment with the rehab optometrist Dr. Pauletzer (not sure I have these names right) Dr. Peltz will also see her soon.  He is a Neuro-Opthomologist (brain eye doctor).  
Dr. Ripley continued past the Occipital lobe to the Hippocampus which looked a little different color but very subtle.  He did say there was any specific injury.
Further up from there he pointed out some lesions in the Basal Ganglia and Thalamus.  These parts affect feeling and sensation.  This is why they are doing all of those sensation tests on Chris with the safety pins.  Christy's sensation seems to be pretty intact for the most part.  
Dr. Ripley also noted that Christy's blood vessels delivering blood to the brain didn't look damaged.  This is good.  He didn't feel that the blood clots that damaged the brain came from damaged vessels.  
Dr. Ripley then stopped talking about medical anatomy and said to us that Christy's Memory is MUCH better than other patients who have come through with this same injury in previous years!! Having a good memory is going to help her rehab better because she can remember the rehab techniques and learn the theory.  Dr. Ripley also made it very clear not to compare Christy to the other brain injury patients on the floor- there isn't a fair comparison.  He explained that the progress is slower with Ischemic Brain Injury (what Chris has) verses traumatic brain injury (most other patients on Christy's floor have traumatic injury).  He also explained, although slower, the progress can continue for a longer amount of time.  He said there is a misconception that recovery will be finished after 6 months to a year-- with anoxic injury it can stretch out much longer.

Dr. Ripley explained that right now there are drugs that we will wait one year to give.  They help with the ataxia (the lack of coordination of muscle movements)  This Ataxia is probably from cerebellum damage.  They are not useful yet because they are known to inhibit Dendritic sprouting.  This is when the nerve cells put out fibers to other nerve cells to reconnect.  The benefits do not outweigh the risks, so it's  can wait. They have other drugs they can try to get her in the best shape possible, but one step at a time right now.

Each member representing their specialty spoke at their turn:

Nursing (Karen) spoke about Christy's positivity and pleasant sense of humor.  The entire team feels that this is helping Christy's recovery.  She talked about getting Christy on a good day and night schedule as a priority.  She wants her to have lots of rest so she doesn't use up the energy that could go into therapy for too much socializing.   

PT spoke about Christy's wheelchairs.  They need to problem solve with the upright chair to 
get is all just right.  They will continue stretching and the standing frame which she does 3-5 times a week.  Stretching on the side works best for Christy & Once she's on the mat, she moves well!  Christy is going to the spasticity clinic next week.  This was the first appointment available for her.  She will get an evaluation and they will address loosening her up!  Christy is doing well with transferring & Don too!  She no longer uses a sliding board, but does a pivot.  Christy is doing really well with the standing and squatting exercises.  The PTs are planning to trial Christy on a wheelchair bike to go to the gym! Fun!  Christy is just faking her "pain face" as a joke! Alan just took the picture right before she laughed at her own joke!

Malea from speech commented on what a hard worker Christy is, even when things are uncomfortable and not fun.  Christy bit her tongue recently and it's been really soar.  Christy had to go back to a puree diet while this is healing.  Malea talked about how Christy has a hard time planing the movements of the muscles used for annunciation and resonance.  This is part of her challenge with her brain injury.  She did say that Christy is able to put her tongue in the right place with verbal cues and sometimes with using a mirror, so that's great!  The Apraxia (not being able to carry out muscle movements) is affecting her breathing at times as well, she notices.  Her memory is SO much better than they had expected and Christy passed one of the milestones on Monday dealing with memory.  Christy has learned all of her therapists and their names! AWESOME!  On Thursday they plan to do a video swallow.  They go to the radiology suite and use a dye called Barrium, and take a moving video of her swallowing!  This will help them learn more about what's going on inside!!

Occupational therapy stated that their goal was to help Christy be as independent as possible.  They help rehab the vision as well as the upper body.  They have been dressing Christy daily in the AM.   They also talked about Praxis which is described as slow motor planning. Christy does better with automatic things to get the hang of how to do things again verses verbal directions.  So while getting dressed, asking her to put her arm in the hole might trigger her to use the wrong arm or put the arm in the wrong hole, etc.  Things like drinking her diet coke is automatic... pick it up, drink it, and put it back down!  As far as the eyes go, they found that she is moving her eyes much better since admission, but looking up makes her sick!  Eye movements are linked to the ear, so hat could make her dizzy.  They sat Christy in a rocking chair to take advantage of the movement to rehab the eye. They also talked about maybe using "rolling stimulation" to help her!  Very cool!  I never would have know this stuff! It also seems like her vision is inconsistent.  What  helps sometimes is for Christy to touch something so she can focus on what she wants to see.  They need to assess what Christy sees more, and continue working on the eye movements and getting a clearer picture of what's around her.  
The other big issue for them is that Christy is getting Tired.  Her energy reserves are low.  Christy becomes emotional- mad and frustrated- with therapist, Don or herself.  They are going to work on signals that tell them Christy has had too much.  They don't want to tire her out too much!

Dr. Shraa wanted Christy to slow down a little and try to relax.  Try not to hurry to each appointment too fast.  Being 5 minutes late is OK.  He was very complimentary of Christy's personality and the support and love of the family.  He said Christy's personality is helping her do better.  Christy has a good "personal style" that's getting her ahead!

Melissa of family services said that the rehab is right on schedule.  For now Christy's "last day at Craig" date is May 13th.  They also explained that Hawaii does not have NEURO-REHAB, which is what Chris is getting and needs.  They will have to continue rehab at a regular basic rehab area.  They may keep Christy till May 26th when insurance covers till, just so Christy can benefit from the full neuro rehab advantage.  They talked about video taping the therapy sessions to give the therapist that follow a better idea of what Craig was working on and the Theory of the rehab.  

We love you Christy and are all behind you every step of the way!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today was very much similar to yesterday in which they spent the day at the apartment hanging out. Some napping, but no eating today as Christy bit her tongue pretty bad. It is causing he some pain and discomfort, so they decided to tube feed her for the day and let the tongue heel up.

Tomorrow is back to work for Christy. She will be on her normal routine for OT and PT keeping her on a pretty tight regimen. I forgot to mention last night, but Donald shared with me the fact that Christy is one setting away from standing completely erect in the chair that aids her. Donald said that she has almost no pain when doing so and foresees her accomplishing a completely upright posture soon, if not this week.

That's all for now. I am sure you guys will be happy to know that Gabby will resume her blog maintenance tomorrow night. I may stop in from time to time to give the wifey a rest, but probably only on weekends where there is less technical explanation needed.

Keep sending the prayers and energy! Good Night.

PS- Shirts are still available. Please send requests for sizes and quantity to gouveia444@hotmail.com. I am pretty sure they are $10 now and available in black and white.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Alright, I am sure you guys will be able to tell the difference right away, so I am just going to tell you now that Ka'eo is writing the blog tonight and tomorrow. Gabby had to work crazy hours at the hospital over the weekend, so I followed up with Don and told Gabby she can have the next couple of nights off. I do not possess the same skills as Gabby does in explaining the medical details, so bear with the fact that tonight and tomorrow will be brief and to the point.

Today was a cruise day for Christy and Donald. She did not have any PT or OT scheduled and only needed to check in periodically for some drug treatments. She was allowed to spend the day in the family apartment that Donald has been staying in. Donald cooked up quite the feast for his wife, Alan and his boyfriend Luis. We all know that Donald is a good cook, so rest assured that Christy had some grinds and ate until her hearts content. She suffered from "kanak attack" immediately following because both Don and Christy took a nice long nap during the middle of the day.

Sunday plans to be similar to today. They are going to spend the day at the apartment again where some of Donald's co-workers family plans to stop by with Olive Garden for lunch. Alan and Luis plan to join them again tomorrow. So, I am sure there will be a lot of eating, sleeping and cuddling for Christy and Donald. Christy is very happy about getting to crash in a normal bed and sleep in the fetal position like she normally does. That has always been her favorite way to sleep and it has to have been killing her having to sleep on her back all of the time.

I promised brief and to the point. Sorry there were no pictures, but we should have some more to post tomorrow night. Until tomorrow night, sleep tight and continue to pray for Christy's recovery. She is making progress every day and has only been at it for a couple of weeks now. The doctor's and nurses at Craig continue to be amazed by her progress. Donald keeps telling the Doc's that the prayers/energy coming from Christy's family and friends is what has pushed her this far and will continue to push her all the way to complete recovery.

PS- T-shirts are still available for purchase from mom. Just send size and quantity requests to her email at gouveia444@hotmail.com.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 20, 2009

Got some pictures that I didn't have before for blogs, wanted to share! 
Remember we were talking about exercising Chisty's tongue!  Here she is with Malea showing the lollipops! (right).  

In these pictures Christy in the standing frame.  We have seen more recent photos, but this is at the beginning in the standing frame with PT!

Christy has come a long way and is on the road to walking !  We're so excited for the daily
 progress she makes each day.   Physical therapy does all kinds of stretching and Range of motion every day. This is another picture of the stretching.
  The blog site didn't turn the picture right side up for the first time.  It must be because I'm only getting some of the picture on all of
 these.  Something with the download from email or something.  I see the whole picture on my desktop, but it doesn't all upload! sorry!
The weekend is here and Christy will be resting and relaxing all weekend.  Luckily she has the free pass to go to hang at the
 apartment with Don & Alan guys!

This is a picture from the day that Christy got her Chest tube out.  The chest tube that Christy had this time didn't need to be big- It's about 1/8 in diameter from the original chest tube.  When Christy first collapsed her lung after the accident, she needed the big  chest tube.  They just clean the area, cut the sutures and pull out  the tube!  Christy was probably tender in that area for the day, but she was able to do therapies like a champ still!!

Don't forget, your I heartChristy tee-shirts are for sale for $10.00 if you order before April 1, 2009.  You can send checks to Gail Gouveia and contact her by email which is gouveia444@hotmail.com.  The twins are wearing one's in BLACK. The back says I heart Christy. I think the shirts for sale are white.... just my guess.  The immediate family wore black ones at the fundraiser event!

Loving you Christy! Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Christy had another great day at Craig!  Occupational therapy visited first to help Christy get dressed.  Christy is doing more and more every day. Today she was able to lift her arms and pull her clothes over her head!  

Physical therapy did more Range of Motion and stretching.  They helped Don learn an alternative technique to transfer Christy from Chair to Bed.    Pt did more stand up exercises in the second session today.  They utilized the work out table to move left and right- putting pressure on Christy's feet to slide back and forth. 
Christy's tightness in her legs is still a problem.  The Doctors are feeling it's either spasticity or tone.  Those are rehab/PT terms listed in the book that Craig gave the family to read.  They can use some drugs to help her, but it sounds as if they want the brain to have the best chance possible to heal and send out it's healing signals first.  They don't want to slow the progress or stop the brain's own healing process.

Dr. Shraa had an appointment today with Christy.  He did show more picture cards with things like "dice" on them!  Not sure all the things that are on the cards or why he shows them.... but that's ok.  He's just finding out more about Christy.  

Don's been stepping out of sessions so Christy can concentrate more and focus on the therapist and the task at hand.  Christy's therapy sessions ended early today, about 1pm because the original family meeting was scheduled for today.  The meeting has been rescheduled for Monday March 23rd.  Don has gotten the official pass to take Christy around with him.  They spent some QT at the apartment today just relaxing.  They no longer have the privacy of the room to sit around, talk and joke around.  They have a roommate, Wendy.  So, to be courteous and quiet, it works better to just go to the apartment.  

Christy's having dreams that seem so real.  Sometimes too real.  She wakes up believing it happened and it affects her emotionally.  She can even feel Heat in her dreams!  

Selena's uncle Joe came by to visit today! That was so sweet of him.  Alan and Luis were hanging out tonight making everyone laugh.  Forgot to thank Niki Kenny, a high school classmate of Don's, for the ONO curry and mixed BBQ plates from Colorado's L&L Drive-In.  

until tomorrow! gabby

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009- Two weeks at Craig!

Maybe you've already got an update from Jody Leong tonight on the 10:00pm news!! There was so much public interest in Christy's story that Jody Leong contacted Donald so she could do another story on Christy!! Wow!!

This morning started out with therapeutic recreation or what Craig likes to call "T-Rec"!  It is the downstairs recreation room I mentioned before where Christy can do all the fun things!  This morning's discussion was to get a better idea of what Chrsity enjoys!  What they found out is that Christy likes Camping, arts & crafts, generally!  Fun!

At the am session with speech today, Melea asked all the same questions.  What day is it?  How long have you been at Craig?  What do you remember after your accident?, etc...  

After the second speech therapy session, Melea left me a message herself.  It was pretty complicated speech pathology talk, but I listened to it a few times, and found some pictures to get a clearer picture of what Melea was talking about.  What they found was that Christy has Velopharyngeal Incompetence that is consistent with her Apraxia.  I told you it was a lot to swallow! ha!  Ok, seriously what this means is that they pinpointed something abnormal with portions of her voice.  Her ability to make nasal sounds like "M" and "N" are affected by her  (Apraxia) loss of the ability to carry out learned purposeful movements, despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform the movements.  It is something that she has acquired from her neurological disorder, and just needs to relearn.  So, Nasal sounds ("m" & "n") are made when the pathway to the nose is left open-- air comes from the vocal cords and passes through the nose. nasal sounds- goes through nose- makes sense, right? The same pathway stays open when you are breathing through your nose as well.  The soft palate can shut the pathway to the nose or to the mouth so air can not get through.  This mechanism or job of the palate is called Velopharyngeal function.  For the rest of the sounds during speech, we don't want a nasal sound, so the soft palate closes the air pathway to the nose, and all of the air comes out of the mouth from the vocal cords.  This makes the sounds clear.  With Christy, they noticed that sometimes the pathway to the nose stays open and air gets through to the nose (when it isn't supposed to) and that's Velopharyngeal incompetency.  Also the reverse is true.  Sometimes she wants the air to go through the nose more but it goes through the mouth more.  It's inconsistent.  That matches the nature of this
 loss of ability to carry out purposeful movements even though nothing is wrong with her parts or her ability to make the movements with her palate.  It's illustrated in the picture here on the right.  The arrows are the air passing though both the nose and the mouth.   This is just something Christy has to work on over time.  She needs to re-train and re-learn & re-coordinate!  She's got the experts to teach her!  Thanks Malea for your very detailed insight on Christy's speech.  I hope I broke it down right for you guys.  This is how I understand it.  The air flow isn't being controlled well when she speaks even though she may want it to and all the parts can function.

OK, Physical therapy!  So Christy spent a whole hour with the therapist doing all kinds of movements on the mats in all sorts of positions!  Christy's biggest, most impressive accomplishment today was standing up about 3/4 tall!!! Christy just has the little bend in her knees to go!  So close! Chrsity started in a sitting position on the mat tables.  She grabbed on to the shoulders of the physical therapist and stood up 3/4 of the way from a sitting position!  And she did this about 5-6 times!!!  Donald caught it all on video, too!

Christy sat at the side of the bed/mat table with each hand at her side.  She was instructed to pick up her butt and scoot her okole to the right.  Then she was instructed to pick up her okole and move it to the left!  Her arms at her side pushed up against the mat table and lifted & supported her body weight!

PT also did a lot of Range of Motion.  It's so important to stretch the arms and legs and muscles & joints out.  Today they put Christy into all kinds of positions.  They even had her laying on her stomach.  This range of motion, stretch is like someone doing Yoga positions on you!  Soon, I'll be blogging about Chrsity doing Yoga poses on her own!!  

We're so so happy and excited to see such progress after two weeks!! Christy is definitely on her way!!  The Craig therapist are wonderful and SMART!  Thank God for each wonderful day!  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today's blog is comming directly via Donald...

"8:30 OT- Well I didn't read the schedule right this morning. I got chris up early so we could eat and be ready for class which I found out that OT was supposed to get her dressed and ready. So when OT came in all they had to do is help her put on her jacket and brush her teeth"

"0900 PT- All we did for PT was range of motion. Chris was not really into it today.

0930 OT- They had some questions last time about Chris's left arm so the re-did the test for sensitivity. They did the Q-tip and then the safety pin and she did well.

1000 Speech- Melea did more exercises with her tongue. She did the exercise with the wooden stick and pronouncing letters. Remember when I told you that her tongue was weak going to the left, well Melea got a Q-tipp and placed vanilla pudding on the outside of her left lip and she asked chris to try and lick it. This was great because she would force her tongue to go to the left, it was hard but she eventually did it. Melea wanted to see Chris eat so she can upgrade her food, but like I said earlier chris was not feeling it today so I doubt we will get the upgrade.

1400 PT- PT upgraded Chris's wheelchair they gave her one that she will have to stay more upright. It took the whole session to change out the wheelchair, you Know how technical they get with that. But Chris is adapting well to the new chair.

1430 Standing Frame- We did not have this on our schedule but since chris was not having it today, I asked them if I could put her in it. Once she was in it, I pumped her up to about 3/4 with no pain. We stayed their for a while and then she insisted that we go up more and more until we were about 6 inches away from standing straight up.

Well that was our day. Christy's attitude is still positive and her will is still strong. SHE WILL WALK OFF THAT PLANE. The power of prayer and my FAITH in the lord is way too strong! "

Thank you Don! We're all behind you Chris, stay strong and we love you so much!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009- 13th day at Craig

Monday is back to therapy!! This morning Dr. Shraa came into do some more visual testing.  He had a lot of different cards & puzzle-type things to look at.  There was one that Christy had trouble with.  It was something like this picture to the left full of colored dots (from what I gather) except it said "24" instead of "page 5".  When reading this one site it mentioned that this was testing for color blindness.  Dr. Shraa is continually trying to put together some sort of picture of what Christy really sees!  Remember, Christy is having ongoing evaluations of her status for the future meeting!  The meeting is where the ongoing evaluations will be broken down to explain what we'll be working on during Christy's stay at Craig. Dr. Shraa is very appreciative of Christy's good spirits, and cooperative, sweet, attitude.  It's refreshing for him to work with our Christy. 

Speech therapist melea had two sessions with Christy today.  She is still working with writing words down on paper and showing them to Christy to read.  Christy is able to break down the words with two or three letters to just letters.  For example, the paper says "dog", Christy can go D.... O..... G.... Oh! "Dog".  Reading the letters separately, one at a time, on the paper are too hard to recognize still.  Melea also asks questions for Christy's memory on a daily basis.  Questions like "What day is it?  Where are you?  How long have you been here? How old are you?  Do you remember your accident?  Christy remembered the entire story of the accident today.  Don wasn't sure if she knew the sequence of events because he's been telling her, or because she actually remembered it.  Either way it great that she remembered on her own.  Christy did get emotional while telling the story, though.  She was saying that she was calling for someone to help her & cried a little.  I think it is good to talk about the accident and get out any sadness & come to terms with what happened, but it's not easy to hear that Christy is sad while talking about it.  
Christy's speech is getting better every day- clearer & clearer.  She moves her jaw more up and down in a controlled fashion.  It looks more coordinated than some of her previous side to side jaw action.  Melea took a tongue depressor and  had Christy push against it to test tongue strength.  Christy had good strength when she pushed right.  She felt weaker with she tried to push left with her tongue.  Melea left Christy & Don with some tongue depressors to work Christy's tongue when she wasn't around.  Donald said that they would just do some major french kissing for exercise instead! hee hee!  Donald was brainstorming about what other things, in case they got tired of french kissing,  Chrsity could do.  He asked if lollipops would be good.  Malea said "YES" and she pulled some out from her pocket!  Good thinking Don!

Chris & Don headed for the gym next.  they had a session in the standing frame with Dan.  Today, they didn't have to stand Christy as slowly.  They used to pump her once, then have to rest because of the pain in her legs.  Now they could pump faster and she wasn't uncomfortable! yay!!  The session was cut short because the x-ray technician came by to take a chest x-ray of Christy.  She had been doing her morning routine with the Chest Tube still in.  This was the x-ray that would determine if the chest tube could come out.  
PT & OT continued to work with Christy on more stretching and moving around.  They felt that she was making progress in her movements and stretching out more! yay!  

Lunch came next and Christy was able to eat 100% of her meal- that's awesome!  It is wonderful to see Christy eating and having a bigger appetite!  She drank all her milk shake & enjoyed the yummy ribs that they had cooked up!

Christy was cut short on OT in the afternoon session because Dr. Ripley and the Nurse Practitioner came in to take the Chest Tube out!  Don saw the whole thing!  He saw where it was going in, and he saw them pull it out of her!  Christy is still Soar on her left side (where the chest tube was), so she wasn't able to move & use that hand as much (that's her strong hand). After the tube was out, Christy continued OT!  Not being as comfortable using the left hand encouraged her to start using the right arm more!   OT's exercise was supposed to be the light board that we did before.  This is the one with the buttons that change location every time you push them.  It was too uncomfortable with the incisional pain, so they did an alternate method.   The OT picked up a green & pink paddle.  She asked Christy to touch the paddle each time she moved it around.  Casey (OT) would move the paddle again after Christy hit it.  Christy used the right hand to go for the paddle much more during this exercise! That arm needs to work out!

Don has access to use the "staff" gym downstairs.  He "joins" the gym by paying a membership fee.  This will allow him to exercise- do some running and lifting to keep his stress levels & Blood Pressure under control.  This hospital really thinks of everything!  They are marvelous! 

The Doctor who was communicating with Queens to bring her over introduced himself to Don today.  A different doctor than Dr. Ripley.  He has ties to Hawaii-- if I remember correctly, he used to live there.  Thank goodness for him!

Another day in the books!  Good Work today Christy!  Hope you have a restful sleep for another productive day tomorrow!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Today was a day of rest and relaxation for Christy and Donald.  No rehab on the weekends, and Christy still has her chest tube in place.  They did another follow up x-ray this morning of her chest.  The result was that everything is as it should be! Yay!  The plan is to take the chest tube out tomorrow & continue onto rehab.  I never got clearly why Christy developed the pneumothorax (air around lung collapsing it).  I am also not sure if being a mile high had anything to do with it, either.  Some people who are tall and thin get spontaneous pneumothorax for no reason or maybe a strong cough.  They just pop a lung! Isn't that crazy?  The treatment is the same- chest tube.  So a little blessing is that it happened on Friday, and Christy didn't miss out on much therapy.  She got to rest all weekend and just cruise!!  

Christy and Don just spent some quality time together enjoying each other's company!  Christy
, your in our thoughts and prayers daily.  May you have a wonderful day tomorrow, free from Chest tube discomfort.  May it be an easy transition getting back into therapies! love you!

As a side note, there are "iheartchisty" tee-shirts available for $10.00 now!  There were quite a few people who were asking about them at the fundraiser!  They turned out so awesome! Please contact Gail Gouveia if you are interested in purchasing one at gouveia444@hotmail.com! Aloha!

Saturday March 14, 2009

I got some pictures and some dialogue from Alan about the last few days with Christy, I'll let him explain in his own words what went on:

"The first one is from the Boston Market feast that Christy, Luis and I shared Thursday night.  Christy had rotisserie chicken, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy AND the best damned sweet potatoes ever!  She finished her meal by whacking a whole small container of Haagen Daas coffee ice cream.  Donald had a much deserved break and went to dinner with his friend's parents who live in
 Englewood (Craig is in Englewood, Denver).  They also took him for a brief tour of downtown.  When he told us about it, Christy said that she wanted to see downtown too!  We assured her that she could and that it would be sooner if she works hard. I can't remember what she called us in response, but it was probably, "A**holes!"

The second picture is of PT/OT/RN Donald Huddy practicing some visual recognition exercises with Christy.  He held up a bunch of objects to see if she could recognize them and if she couldn't he had her hold them to try to recognize them by touch.  She had  hard time recognizing them (it was right before her surgery to place the chest
 tube, so I think she was a little anxious and distracted).  She couldn't recognize the pair of shades she was holding by touch, but when Donald asked her to describe a pair of shades, she could do it exactly.  It was a neat example of how her brain needs to be retrained, but that the foundation is there.

The third picture is from last night. (Friday night).  Christy had just woken up when Luis and I arrived.  We brought Donald dinner and Christy was a little out of it, but still talking a lot.  Podagee!  Christy complained frequently about the pain near the chest tube and all over her legs.  Donald massaged her legs while I rubbed lotion into her feet and gave her a foot massage.  She kind of looks like she's in pain, but she said that it felt good :)  She had some nausea, so the nurse, Marge wanted to give her medicine to settle her stomach  before giving the Motrin.  Because Christy had to wait the fifteen minutes after getting the first medicine, we told her to focus on the massage treatment that  Don and I were giving her.  It seemed to work and before long, Marge was back with the Motrin.  After that, Christy started to fall asleep and it was time for Luis and I to call it a night."

Today is Saturday and there isn't any scheduled therapy for today.  Don still manages to get some in to get Christy on track.  Today Christy's hip range of motion was around 45 degrees. Stretching and getting the muscles loose is our #1 priority right now.   Plus with the chest tube, Christy should just rest for a few days.  Christy's #1 issue is still the discomfort from the Chest tube.  Christy can't even eat well.  Chest tubes are always uncomfortable.  In addition the area that the chest tube has to go through is the rib cage area.  I've had patients in more pain with incisions on or near the ribs than open heart patients who have had their sternum sawed open.  The first and only other chest tube that was placed in Christy (at Queens) was under her arm pit.  The current chest tube sounds like it's still in the left lung but it's higher and more toward
 the chest area.  It was hooked to suction yesterday and they placed it on water seal today.  No more suction.  There is water in the pleuralvac (container collecting the drainage from around the lung- picture on right side).  The water seal is to protect Christy from getting any atmospheric air into her chest.  The water actually seals the pressure in and doesn't allow water to get into the system.  The nurse practitioner (between a doctor and a nurse) checked the x-ray today and all looks well. Christy's oxygen saturation is about 97% (out of a 100%) with two liters of oxygen per hour going through her nasal cannula.  The staff at Craig reminded us that Denver is the city a mile from sea level.  There is naturally less oxygen in the air at this height.    We hope that the next x-ray shows the lung completely up and healing.  This way they can take out the chest tube tomorrow.  We'll see!

Christy's speech is clearer.... it's been more and more clear everyday.   

Christy is using the right hand more and more as well.  Christy's right wrist (weak one) was bending up into a claw-like position to get it going today.  She is having more fine motor movement and coordination with the right arm & hand!  

Christy still doesn't have a roommate yet, Yay!  Don slept with Chris last night and tonight just so Christy is comfortable and sleeping.  The Chest tube can be so uncomfortable.  Christy is getting Lor-Tab, Motrin, and massage to treat her discomfort.  Let's pray that the lung can heal and re-expand.  We can pray for Christy to be comfortable and relaxed.  Tomorrow is their last day of the weekend.  Christy and Donald are just kicking back and talking stories!

Talk with you tomorrow!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

First thing in Christy's day of Rehab today was Occupational therapy.  They were working on dressing herself again.  Christy still needs help, but is trying hard and progressing a little more each time she gets dressed.  Today, Christy lifted her left leg and put it on the right leg!  Her left leg is the weak leg, too!  Christy was moving her left leg on top of the right to get her shoe on!  Occupational therapy also tried to have Christy brush her teeth on her own.  She already has the spit down from at least a week ago.   Today she was working on actually brushing her teeth independently.

Christy had that triple series x-ray today that we talked about in a previous blog.  They shoot dye into Christy and do a series of shots to see what's going on.  This took a little longer than expected, probably because they wanted to get a perfect picture.  

Speech with Melea was next.  Melea did a little word game with Christy.  Melea would name objects mixed with numbers..... Dog, Seven, House, Four, etc.  Christy's task was to put all of the "things" first and follow them by the numbers.  Christy did really well, so they kept on adding amounts of things and numbers.  They got up to about 6-8 words total, and Christy was a superstar at putting the things first and the letters following the things!  Melea even commented "Way to go Christy!  Show all those Doctors wrong."  Apparently, Christy's performance put her ahead of where the Doctors thought she was at.  Christy has been constantly impressing the Doctors and having only success upon success!
Christy and Don were waiting for their PT appointment at 11:00am Denver time.  They were in the computer room and Don was reading Christy the comments on the blog.  The Tech came by and explained that Dr. Ripley didn't like what he saw on the triple series x-ray.  They wanted them to get back to the room for an additional portable chest x-ray.  Once the x-ray was done and read, they found something they didn't like.  Christy has a pneumothorax again.  When Christy was first admitted to Queen's Hospital, they saw that the accident had caused the left lung to collapse.  She had a Chest tube in for several days at Queens until they felt the lung was 
re-explaned. The picture of this scary guy shows a lung with a pneumothorax and the lung re-expanded after the chest tube was placed.  Christy went to Swedish hospital so a surgeon or interventional radiologist could put in a chest tube under CT scan.  They have it hooked to suction to drain any extra air or fluid.   there is a suction connected to the actual Chest Tube that connects to a pleuravac (collection system), that connects to the suction from the wall.  The lungs work on a negative pressure system.  We expand the muscles lungs and the air is kinda "sucked in" by negative pressure.  The pleura surrounds the lungs.  If the integrity of the pleura is compromised (if get one puka in the sac holding the lung), the lung can not expand.  The Chest tube will allow the air to leave as well as some other fluids.  The lung will heal itself, and we simply remove the chest tube in a few days.  Craig nurses were having some issue with the suction, and they took a second x-ray to recheck the placement of the chest tube.  The second x-ray showed the lung almost perfectly re-expanded already.  It's Friday and the weekend is a time to rest, so Christy will have the chest tube all weekend, and probably get it out on Monday.  They think that this just happened recently, because they didn't see the pneumothorax on the CT scan previous.  They had put a pulse oximeter on her finger to check her oxygen status and it was not a problem.  Christy did well during the procedure and rested the rest of the evening.  She didn't have any respiratory distress or symptoms that were scary.  The Doctors weren't terribly worried about it and could have just watched it with daily x-rays of the chest and lungs.  Because Christy has a history of pneumothorax, the doctor decided to place the chest tube for safety sake.  Christy enjoyed a hand, foot, body massage from Don, Alena, and Luis after the procedure.   Christy braved out another task of healing!  We wish her sweet dreams of days relaxing on the beach, playing with her kiddies again! That's what I'm visualizing because it's cold! burr!
Until tomorrow, xoxo, gabby

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009- 9th day at Craig

Another day of progress and Healing for Christy at Craig!
8am brought a dental appointment!  Christy had a dentist scheduled to come and see her teeth! He said every thing was good! Smile for that!

Occupational therapy was scheduled for 8:30.  They worked on getting Christy to dress herself. It was hard at first because Chrsity was tired, but progress was made. The big emphasis was to bridge her body so she could pull up her pants over her booty!  Although Chrsity's left arm is stronger, and she can't help but want to use it more, Christy was initiating with the right arm.  Christy is working the right arm more and more (her weak arm) and getting it back a little more each day! yay!

Dr. Shraa, psychology, came to visit next.  He did some memory games with Chris.  He would name off a bunch of things... hat, shirt, peaches, hammer, drill... etc and Christy had to repeat back as many as she could remember.  Out of 11-12 words, Christy would remember about 4-5 words.  They repeated this game about four times.  Then he started to show a bunch of everyday items to Chris.  First was a stapler.  Christy could recognize the color, but not what it was.  The next thing was a paperweight,  which was too difficult for Christy to get.  Finally he
pulled out a book and she knew it was a "book!" yay!

Melea from speech had a bag full of things.  Melea would pull things out of the bag and Chris would touch them and try to look at them and name them.  Christy had the objects about a foot away from her face.  When Melea pulled out a flower, Christy got the color first.  She felt the flower and then knew it was a "flower!"  When the toothbrush came out of the bag, Christy felt it and with some help got that it was a toothbrush, too!  That continued with more items in the bag of tricks.
Next, Melea had a paper and wrote letters on the paper & showed it to Chris.  Christy could see the paper, but not the letters.  Then Melea decided that she would put the letters together and write words on the paper.  Chris could recognize the words now that all the letters were together!  Melea explained that as an adult you don't really read words, you recognize them.  When we are in kindergarten, we look at each of the letters.  It's so interesting how the brain works.  Melea wrote her name and wrote Christy's name on the paper and asked Chris which one was which.  Melea went over the letters that spelled the name.  Christy got each name correctly!  And Melea doesn't spell her name like we know it (Malia), so Christy really got it!  
After writing on the paper, Melea got color cards.  She tested Christy on each color, and she got them all right! 
Christy was practicing how to bend her tongue around to say the hard letters.  Melea coached Chris on where to put her tongue to enunciate more.  Christy is moving her tongue way better now than ever!! It's so amazing how she picks up more and more each day! Love it!

Physical therapy tested more sensation today with the pin for "sharp" and the rounded area for "not sharp".  They were questioning the sensation in a few areas still, but it turned out that everything was ok! Sensation is intact!
PT made Christy try to sit up on her own (picture to the right).  This means that she had to pus her own legs off the mat and push up with her left arm (stronger arm) to get into a sitting position.  Once Chris was up she had to stretch side to side, and hold herself up with each arm on both sides.  That means she had to work that right arm to hold herself up during the right lean.  She's getting stronger and stronger each day!!!!
Christy did really well dunking the little purple basket ball into the
 hoop!  The therapist asked her to grab the ball from her, and Chris snatched it right up!  Then they told Christy to dunk it in the hoop, and she went right for it and slam dunked it!  That's the picture on the left!  After the basketball game, they had some color cones that Christy stacked up.  Physical therapy checked Donald off on transfers today.  He has to get cleared from OT next.  Last, Dr. Ripley has to clear him, and then Don and Christy can cruise at the apartment together, and get out of the hospital.  This way Chris can enjoy Don's home cooking and feel more normal again! yay!  This could be as soon as the weekend!
The last thing they did in the PT session was stretching out Chris by putting her in a standing frame which is similar to the standing frame that Queens used but way more advanced.  This standing frame has a chair, Chrsity was belted into the chair, and PT techs used a hydraulic pump to lift Christy into a standing position.  When they started pumping, the back rest would push Chrsity up and the chair would relax down until eventually Chris would be in a perfect standing position.  Although they had this machine, they didn't want to force her all the way up the first time, but she came very close.  

We all see what hard work you're doing, Chris!  We're all behind you, rooting you on as your biggest fans! We can't wait to hear what you'll be up to tomorrow!  We miss you so much, and every day you are working so hard and pushing yourself so you can come back home ASAP! Thank you Don for supporting and loving Christy.  You are in our daily thoughts and prayers! Love you!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009- 8th day at Craig

Christy's day started out with speech therapy.  When Melea isn't around, Laura comes to see Chirsty.  Speech therapy brought a bunch of pictures (of a house, a toothbrush, a comb, every day things).  She showed them to Christy but Chris couldn't recognize what they were.  Either Christy couldn't see them or her brain isn't recognizing the objects.  I often see the neurosurgeon (brain-surgeon) at Straub test patients on everyday items to see if they know the names of them.  It was frustrating for Christy, being that she's so intelligent, but it's not about smarts.  She's still smart, just wounded.  She can re-learn the names of things, it will just take time.  Later in the day Laura from speech did a hearing/thinking test.  The first thing that Christy had to do was push the button every time she heard the number 2.  It was a recording speaking and there were just random numbers spoken.   The next task got a little harder and Christy had to press the button if the number in the sequence was one number less than the previous.  For example, the recording would  say random numbers like 7, 5, 4, 2, 6.  Christy would have to buzz on the number 4 because it was one less than five.  No other numbers do this in this small sequence.  Then there was a harder one after that.  Christy did very well, getting most of the questions correct! yay! The next phase had to do with numbers as well, but repeating them in a specific order.  The therapist would say 12 and they wanted Chris to tell them back 21, and so forth. She got all of the two number sets.  Once they went to three number sets, it was harder for her to grasp, but we're working on it!  

They were also introduced to the recreation area today by Lori, from therapeutic recreation .  This is all the fun stuff to do.  Remember me mentioning that there is a schedule of cool events to do for the month.  The recreation room has movie night, ceramics, and all kinds of arts and crafts.  It's downstairs in the EAST wing of Craig, right across the apartments.  Donald just has to be cleared by PT and the M.D. to be able to take her off the unit & eventually outside.  Right now Don just has to be cleared one more time by PT on transferring Christy and he can take her places.  

Dr. Schraa came by to visit Christy today as well.  He's the psychologist.  He brought pictures with hi as well.  He wanted to know what Chris could see and what she couldn't see.  In the last session, he talked to Don about the family, and just getting to know Chris, Don, and the family.

With Occupational therapy today, they worked with flashlights.  Christy had one and the therapist had one.   Casey from OT would put her light in one direction and then asked Christy to point her flashlight in the same direction as hers.  Christy had a difficult time with this exercise, but it was just the first attempt.  The next part of the flashlight exercise was with the same Velcro wall of alphabets and numbers from yesterday.  Casey would point her flashlight on a number or letter, and Christy would read it.  Christy was sitting about 5-6 feet away from the wall.  Christy did recognize the number right above the area that the flashlight was pointing at & read it at this distance.  That is better than she did the last time.  Christy is making constant improvements every single day!  It's exciting.

There will be two eye specialist seeing Christy so we can decipher exactly what is going on with her eyes.  They mentioned one Doctor K. today to Don.  There are many training exercises that will go on to pinpoint exact vision problems.  
Also, to address Christy's muscle spasms & tightness, there will be a Doctor coming to examine her on April 2nd.  That's the earliest date I think they could get for her.
By the way, the family meeting got bumped to March 23rd now.

Finally, at the end of her day, There were 4 therapist working on
Chris.  PT & OT joined forces today.  Alan says that from the look of it, Christy was having just as much fun as work, which is nice to see.  There are pictures to go with this session!  They did more stretching today which will loosen up the muscles to 
move more.  They even used this
 big yellow cylinder object to roll Christy on it.  (Sorry the pics aren't finished uploading, gotta check on what happened) One time, Christy's stomach was soar, so she pushed off the object and stood up on her knees by herself!! Chris is getting stronger by the minute! The second half of the therapy was spent practicing moving in & out of the bed.  Christy was having some discomfort with her she she catheter, and they were taking care of that for her tonight as well. 

Alan filled me in on the yummy, delicious enchiladas that Luis made for their dinner.  The meal included refried beans, guacamole and sour cream.  I'm so jealous.  Christy said that she "loved it" and ate nearly all of it!  Christy is eating so well now.  I gotta get the pics from Alan of dinner tomorrow, so stay tuned.  

Alan also talked about Christy showing her ever-improving ability to grasp and hold her soda cup.  The first day she did this, it was rather slow and deliberate.  Today, she grabs it quickly and lifts it easily to her mouth to take a sip before putting it back on the table.  It's amazing to watch, Alan says.  

Luis not only cooked a delicious meal, but gave Christy a manicure, complete with a new coat of shimmering gold-pink nail polish.  Christy kept telling Don that if he, "f@&*s up her nails, she's gonna punch him out!" According to Alan, "It was too funny :)"

Tonight is the first night that Don will be sleeping at the apartment!  Today was another wonderful, therapy filled day down in the books! much love!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009- 7th day at Craig

It snowed in Colorado today!!  First time Don is seeing snow FALL!  It was a chilly 25 degrees as well!  Burr!  This is a picture taken from the window in Christy's room.  It over looks this street, and across the street is Craig EAST side!  Thought I would've seen some snow while I was up there, but the sun shone bright!
It was a busy day for Christy today!  Speech was the first to come and visit Christy today.  Melea had Christy pronouncing some letters.  She had Christy say "la la la la la la" to exercise her tongue.  

Occupational Therapy had Christy in a room with a wall of letters & numbers on it.  They were Velcro and about 6 inches high.  They had Christy about 10 feet from the letters and were asking her what each one was.  Christy had difficulty reading the letters until she was about 3 feet away (maybe less).  Then she could start to recognize the letters.  The next exercise they did was with a light.  They dimmed the lights in the room and asked her to reach out and touch the light.  Christy could reach out and touch the light well when it was on her right side.  The left side she struggled with a little more.  This is sorta like the exercise we did before but on a different scale.  They had Christy follow the pencil with her eyes and it's the best that Don has seen her do ever.  Doctors had asked Christy to follow their finger before and it was very difficult for her.  I remember seeing it once at Queens.  This means that Christy is making improvements constantly!  Go Chris!!

Donald and Christy were hanging out on the bridge... and there is a bunch of caution tape up for this weeks "survivor week" competition.  There is a week long event where the teams try to earn points to win. 
The team captains are the Doctors, so Christy is on the Ripley Rockies!  As in the Colorado Rockies baseball team.  Craig does activities throughout the hospital and in the activities room.  Christy 
still needs to clear for a pass to go off the floor.  They did tie dye shirts on Monday, there was a field trip to go eat "smash burgers" (for those who can), there is going to be a "pimp my ride" competition (pimping out one wheelchair on the team for an obstacle course), decorating a float, and more.... Anyway, there is caution tape up right now along the bridge way (just for fun) to mark the area for decorating.  Don asked Christy if she could see it.  Christy said that she saw something yellow.  He asked her what it said, and she couldn't tell.  Don covered
 Christy's left eye just to see if it would help her to see it better, and she said "it says caution".  Christy's site is getting better every single day! And she can read. Yeeha!  The woman in my book who suffered brain damage from a stroke could type out a letter, but not read what it said.  Weird, huh?  The brain holds different functions all over the place!  Each function that remains untouched is a step in the right direction!! yay!

Speaking of Dr. Ripley, on his visit today he was talking about dealing with Christy's spasms in her legs and all of the tightness Christy is having trouble with.  He was saying that it would be helpful  to do a 3 phase x-ray of Christy's lower body.  They would use x-ray dye during the test to see more clearly.  With this test, it sounds like they would be able to identify any new bone growth. The reason I think they want to see if there is new bone growth, is that this means there was a fracture once and it is healing now.  Dr. Ripley wants to make sure that he can identify any lingering fractures so we can treat it wisely.  He told us at the beginning that we'd be shocked to know how many people don't have fractures identified until rehab. He discussed this with Physical therapy and they agreed that doing this test would be beneficial.  There is no set date for the test yet.  

Occupational therapy had another session with Christy this afternoon.  They were concentrating on sensation this time.  The first test was with a Q-tip swab.  They went from the face down to the arms and asked Christy if they were pressing light or hard.  They would alternate how hard they would press. Christy had good sensation everywhere except the right arm.  That is her weaker arm, too.  After the swab they took a safety pin and asked if it was sharp or not.  They poked with the needle edge for sharp, and used the rounded dull side for NOT sharp.  In the right arm Christy could distinguish each sensation in certain parts but not others.  It wasn't like she lost sensation from the elbow down, her sensation was sporadic.  They haven't explained well what everything means.  They are still collecting data to discuss the entire picture together as a team.

They have told Don that on March 19th, they will discuss in detail all of the test and assessments that have been going on.  They also told Don that they plan to have Christy in Rehab at Craig until May 13th.  Things can still change, but we want whatever is best for Christy.  We will wait and see the information unfolding as time goes on.

Physical therapy saw Christy again, and took her into the gym where the big exercise
 balls live.  They were trying to stretch her hips to get them to move more.  They had Christy on her back & rolled the exercise 
ball under her legs in a small range of motion to try and loosen her up.  They also tried her stretched over the ball with her knees on the floor to see if she could balance to stay on the ball.  Finally, they had her sitting up with her hand planted
 down to support her & had her stretch side to side.  This is a picture (left) of Christy and Jody, physical therapist,  stretching out the torso and hips.  The therapist get down on the mat with the patients and stretch with them and move around safely but effectively.  It's impressive! 

Christy enjoyed another shower and washed her hair again tonight.  It must feel so good to be taking real showers with real water and real "rinse out" shampoo.  The only thing they have to cover is her PICC line (IV) in the right arm so it doesn't get wet.  They just take a medical Ziploc bag, open the bottom, slip it over her PICC like a sleeve and tape it around the top and bottom against her skin.  Sometimes Christy wears the hospital gown to bed like a night gown because it's comfortable and non-restricting.  Luis,  Alena's boyfriend, is doing her hair in this picture (right).  Christy wanted a ceramic flat Iron for her birthday this year and Luis is going to get one for her so we can do her hair!

Off to work again tomorrow! Till the next blog!