I am happy to report good news at The Pink House this week. First, the case management meeting on Wednesday went very well. All three therapists recommended that Bob's therapy continue. (Yesss!!!) Bob told the case manager, "I am strong!" He did this while raising his left arm like a muscle man. I was very proud of him (such a change from his "wilted flower" routine a few weeks back). Then, on Thursday, he began to walk. A miracle, if I don't say so myself.
Prior to Thursday, and after that first step he took about a week ago, the therapists had been doing an exercise on the parallel bars where Bob would step forward with his left foot, then the therapist (sitting on a wheeled stool in front of him) would grab his right foot and move it forward. In this way, they hobbled the length of the bars to the end where an assistant (sometimes, yours truly) would scoot the wheelchair behind him and he could sit down (more of a plop down, actually) and rest. After a few minutes rest, the wheelchair would be rolled backward to the beginning of the bars and the exercise would start over. They would do this anywhere from three to five times, depending on Bob's stamina. But on Thursday, as I sat watching from a distance, I heard the therapist shriek: "Oh My God!" Because when she reached for Bob's right foot, he was one step ahead of her and had moved it forward on his own. After that, with much coaxing ("Do it again! Come on!") Bob was able to go the whole length on the bars moving both feet, with the therapist only catching his knee to "lock it" in place. His right knee is still very weak and tends to buckle when he puts weight on it. And, of course, he's holding onto the bar for dear life with his left hand and his gait is horribly wobbly, but..... whoo hoo! He has definitely "turned a corner" here, as the therapist said. News of this travelled like wild fire around the therapy room and several of the therapists came over to congratulate him afterward. You should have seen him, bursting with pride.
And boy, I'd like to see Dr. C., the surgeon who performed the surgery that caused Bob's stroke. I last time I saw Dr. C. was in the corridor of the hospital in late December and, at that time, he told me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't get my hopes up about Rehab because "Robert will never walk again, not after that massive stroke." Ha ha! If only that doctor could see him now!
Other news and a special thank you to Jenn for sending the book The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. I just finished reading it and found the chapter on "mirror box therapy" quite interesting. So, I asked Bob's Occupational Therapist if she knew anything about this type of therapy which consists of using mirrors to trick the brain into thinking a paralyzed limb is moving and hence starts to move it. She had heard of the therapy, but didn't know much about it and asked if I would bring the book in for her to read. Well, I brought the book in on Thursday, but when we came in, I saw that she already had a mirror box on her table (borrowed from another in-hospital therapist) and, I guess, my questions had sparked her interest and she had asked around and had looked it up on the internet the night before. She had already tried mirror therapy with another patient that very morning (that patient also had suffered a stroke, but has some movement in his arm) and had seen some amazing results. At Bob's therapy, she put his arm in the box and though we didn't see any amazing results, you could tell that he was quite interested in the therapy: he kept waving his left hand at the mirror as if saying hello. Later, when she was massaging his right arm, she thought she detected a slight movement just above his elbow but wasn't sure. She was pretty excited and has taken the book home to read this weekend and plans on constructing her own mirror box and a second one for me to take home. So, Jenn, thank you! Your gift has already helped another patient and hopefully will help Bob as well.
Oh, and two more little milestones we have reached this past week: first, Bob has been finally able to wear shoes for the first time since his stroke. He couldn't wear them before because of pressure sores on his heels from being bedridden, but finally the sores have cleared up. I think wearing "real shoes" instead of slippers helps him to feel more normal and for some reason, seeing him in shoes just thrills me. And second, we've graduated to "pull up" Depends underwear instead of the diapers with tabs on the sides, as he is finally able to arch his back.
So, it's been a good week here at The Pink House and I do pray it continues.