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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Busy Busy

Last week was a pretty busy week here at The Pink House on the Corner. First, Bob was approved for four more weeks of therapy, and believe it or not, I think we finally found the right PT who understands the need for Bob to continue therapy if only for "maintenance"! The PT actually said that "with Bob no progress is progress" otherwise he will backslide.  Hmmm... isn't that exactly what I've been saying for four years now??? ST is still going very well.

All week, we were pushing toward a tentative closing date on the new house, which was originally scheduled for Thursday but the bank (who owned the property) kept stalling, and ultimately closing was rescheduled for Friday....

On Thursday, we met with a new contractor at the new house. My plan was to take Bob with me and, with help, pull him backward up the steps into the house. But after I got him loaded up and strapped in the Bobmobile, the darn van wouldn't start!!! (dead battery) GRRR!!! So I had to unload him, pull him back into the house, back into bed and jump in The Green Machine to meet the contractors. I tell you, I was harried....

On Friday, we closed on the new house! The closing took three hours because of a contractor's lien still on the title and we had to get that cleared up.  The closing was bittersweet. Owning and moving into a new house is both scary and exciting, and I am, at the same time, happy but sad to leave our beloved bungalow....  and very very busy, with starting to pack and organize (it's going to take forever, me alone! ga!) and all the normal caring for Bob stuff.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Twenty Years & Still Going Strong

Tuesday was our 20th wedding anniversary, and I asked Bob what he wanted to do to celebrate. Last year, we skipped our anniversary as he was still recovering from his second foot surgery. The year before I took him to the Dali Museum. It's always hard to think of something to do for a celebration, as Bob can't eat (feeding tube) or dance! So the usual celebration stuff is just not possible.  Anyway...

This year, we have The Bobmobile and can go anywhere! Anytime! Which is really liberating, to say the least.

So Bob decided he wanted to go antiquing. Of course, he didn't actually say "antiquing", he said "shopping!" and I said, "shopping for what?" and he said, "you know!" and you know, I figured it out.

Antiquing was something we used to do frequently and haven't done since the stroke.
Bob at the Antique Mall

Mostly we haven't done this as it's hard to schedule a shopping trip with the transport service, I mean, you had to give them exact times for pickup and how does one really know how long you'll spend at an antique store? Then, we used to "shop hop", you know hit a bunch of shops in an afternoon, which is impossible to do with the transport. Also, so many antique shops/malls are just not wheelchair accessible, with stairs and small spaces...

But I called around and found an antique mall that opened up in 2011 (after Bob's stroke) and they told me on the phone that they were wheelchair accessible.

So we went. And indeed they were, they even had an elevator to the second floor!

Though some of the booths were crowded and I couldn't get his wheelchair in them.

But the place was huge with, I think they said, 99 dealers.

So there was plenty for Bob and I to look at. We spent three hours there!

We found and bought a vintage mailbox for our new house. Which we need as the new house has one of those slots in the wall for mail and, the last time we had such a slot, Boomer went absolutely freaking nuts trying to tear up both the mail and the mail carrier's fingers....

Then Bob found this:

An antique pedestal sink. And he wanted it. He called it "faucets" for "my bath". I was actually surprised he remembered that we do need a sink for the planned bathroom remodel, the one that will actually be wheelchair accessible and allow Bob to take a bath. But I said no, because I was worried about hooking up such an old thing. Though, truly, it's a very cool antique sink! Then the dealer showed up and while talking with her, she dropped the price from $495 to $125 and offered to store it for us. I still was uncertain about could we actually use it. so told her I'd think about it and when we got home, Bob kept saying "faucets! faucets!" So yesterday, when I talked with a contractor and showed him the picture of Bob and the sink, and the contractor said "no problem" hooking that up, that it would be "easy", so long story short, I called the antique mall and bought it over the phone.

So Bob has his "faucets", and when I told him I bought it, he said "Yay!"

And we had a really great anniversary! Though I was utterly exhausted by the end of the day. All that wheelchair pushing. Can't wait to get that power chair...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Outpatient Rehab Continues

We are still going to Outpatient Rehab twice a week, though now, I drive Bob there in the Bobmobile, which is so much easier, I must say, then pushing him there six blocks!

Therapy days are Mondays and Wednesdays, and Bob starts with an hour of Speech Therapy. The ST has really been challenging Bob and he really loves the process. They are now working on getting Bob to form complete spontaneous sentences, instead of his usual one or two words. She works with photos and pictures and a chart reading "Who" "Action" and "What", basically trying to get Bob to come up with sentences like "The guys (who) are playing (action) football (what)". She is also working a lot on "categories", having Bob say as many words in a category as he can think of, example: "animals".  Speech Therapy is fun, filled with lots of laughter, and Bob tries really hard to impress the ST.
Singing on the NuStep!

After Speech, he has an hour of PT.  Starting with 10 minutes on the NuStep, during which Bob entertains the whole therapy room by singing. Yes, singing! And I mean, he is belting them out. Starting with 1970's classic rock songs like Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple) and I'm 18 (Alice Cooper) or old show tunes, like Singing in the Rain and once, that Seven Dwarves song that goes "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work we go".

He has made a hit with all the therapists who egg him on and ask for song requests!

At the parallel bars
After the NuStep, it's to the parallel bars where he does some weight bearing, some squatting and is able to, unfortunately, still only take about four steps, but he really does try.

The Shuttle
This past week, they got him on a new piece of equipment, called the shuttle, where Bob has to push a weighted platform with his feet.

I was a bit worried he might not be able to do this one, but he managed to pull it off! That, without toppling on the floor!

PT ends with some neck stretching and upper body work.

Neck stretching

All in all, Bob is feeling much better and enjoying both therapies very much. I do hope we can keep it going for awhile...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Surprise Anniversary Gift

Next Tuesday will mark our 20th wedding anniversary, hard to believe it's been that long!
September 16. 1994

When I was transferring our computer files over to the new computer, I found a document titled "Diane and Bob" and, when I opened it, I was surprised and amazed to find Bob's account, in his own words, of the day we met!  I never knew he had written this, and just reading it so much brought"old Bob" back to me, the way talked, his sense of humor, etc. And I tell you, this is the best surprise anniversary gift ever!

I know I shared the "how we met" story before, but this is Bob's version, written 20 years ago, in 1994 shortly before we were married and I thought I'd share it here, unedited, complete with typos and grammatical errors, and oh, he sort of just trails off mid-thought at the end.... (thought I'd warn you)!

Handsome DM Seeks...

The ad read: Handsome DM, 34, 6'3", blond, mild-tempered, good sense of humor. Seeks attractive, slender SWF, 25-38 who enjoys romantic times and intelligent conversation–short and to the point. I had spent my life looking for someone who was not only attractive and slender, but who had a brain and who’s only thrill in life was not lamenting for hours on the great prices in the Target ad in the Sunday paper but to talk about things that really mattered (other than the weather and how bout them Bears? Eh?).

It was the day of my cousin Brenda’s wedding. Talk about a screwed up wedding. I was an usher–a second class wedding position if there ever was one. At the reception I was wearing a gray tux complete with all the usual non-utilized accessories such as pain in the ass buttons, this waist band thing that apparently was there to stop your guts from falling out in the event we all had to commit hari-cari and a bowtie that was installed to make sure that you would not swallow more than your fair share of food.

Ah yes, the reception! That was a treat in the finer category of useless social events and traumatic experiences. I wasn’t allowed to sit up in front with the rest of the tuxes and dresses because after all, I was only an usher–in a second class wedding position. Thank God I spent $60 for the tux. I should have worn jeans or just bikini briefs and a bowtie for all it mattered.
Time for dinner, oh boy! Dried out sirloin tips, something resembling some type of potato product, and stuffing that even a taxidermist wouldn’t use. The corn was good. Try screwing up corn.

After dinner as the food relentlessly went straight for my organs, I decided to go to the bar for my own sanity.
For the next couple of hours I watched as the lovely little couples did their little lovely couple things, while I did my lovely little single person thing, which was to sit there and wait for relatives to swim slowly close to the bar and I would snatch them at the last second and make small talk, just to torture them slowly, ever so slowly. It was around 10:30 that night and I decide that it was time to go someplace I felt more comfortable–Downtown!

Sue and Jeff, my sister and brother in law, were on the first caravan leaving the reception from hell. They dropped me off at my apartment so I could get out of the patented fake leather shoes that were relentlessly killing my toes, and slip on some genuine honest to god real shoes. They waited while I changed. I thought to myself, well I paid $60 for this tux, I might just as well use it. When I came back to the car they asked me why I wanted to get downtown and leave the reception. I told them that I felt lonely at the reception and just wanted to go somewhere where I felt more  comfortable. Downtown.

They dropped me off at Spanky’s bar. Hard rock and drugs! Go’s great with a tux I thought. The bar was hopping and I started noticing that a tux wasn’t all bad, because it made all the difference as far as conversation. Did you just get married? the women said. Who’s the poor guy? the men said. At any rate I felt dressed to the max, a lean mean dressed up machine. Back to my environment, the last bastion of sanity for a DWM.

The next bar was the Helm. My place. They knew my name and I wouldn’t’ even have to ask for my rum and Coke, they just gave it to me. I walked in all dressed up and had many comments about my tux as I went down the bar. I stopped at the far end of the bar to wait for my drink. As I stood there waitng for my drink, I noticed a blond lady sitting next to a letch (one of those decrepped men who sits there waiting for next available women to fall in, black widower revisited). She turned around and nudged the woman next to her. The woman next to her turned around and gave me a really wonderful smile. She recognized me. It was a lady that was working at the local college that I had gone to called W.W.T.C. the year before.

At W.W.T.C. while I was a student there, I had noticed her one day out smoking cigarettes. At the time I thought that she was a very beautiful woman with an air of sophistication, but at that time I was going out with Cherry, a girlfriend that I had been dating for about a year (without a brain). I had broken up with Cherry last year because she was, I felt, too old for me. I was 34 and she was 46. I had visions of Depends diapers, heart monitors going Beep! Beep! Beep! (Not to be confused with the road runner going Meep, Meep, Meep! And the slight Poof that a coyote makes when it hits the bottom of the canyon after using ACME road runner killer.), and a turbo charged wheel chair with a fuel injected 5.0 liter, dual over head cam, fuel injected milti-port engine. She couldn’t remember who I was. I then told her that I had smoked cigarettes with her at W.W.T.C. Last year and that I graduated the year before in Commercial Art. I didn’t feel that she was interested at that time. There was a time while going to school there that I had finally gotten up the courage to ask her out but I never saw her again. When I first met her I had really wanted to ask her out, but I tend to be very shy and didn’t even try. She had class.

Back to the Helm.

After she had turned around, I noticed that she was a very beautiful lady, brown hair, large blue eyes, and a smile that just pierced my soul. She was gorgeous! I could feel the eyes, the eyes tell all and there was a deep attraction. As we talked I found that she was extremely intelligent and was just not another bimbo on the roadway of life. She had class. As we talked I realized that this was not the type of person that I wanted to have a one night stand with, this was someone too special, the type you spend your life with,
As we talked I found out that her name was Diane, and we made small talk about things, I noticed that we could carry on a conversation without effort. (Handsome DM seeks...) I felt at that time that  Diane deserved better than a one night stand, she was a lady and deserved to be treated as such. Through conversation I had mentioned the fact that I had placed a Date Line ad. Diane thought that I was obviously a recovering alcoholic or a snake charmer without a clue. She gave me a hard time about that and wondered what my ad said. I said that she would have to read the ads in the Sunday paper in the morning and try to figure out which one I was. I gave her my business card and told her to call me in the morning if she figured it out. It’s safer that way because, if Diane felt interested she would call, If not I would never hear from her again, but at least it would not be one-sided

Sunday morning. The phone rings. Hi, are you the handsome DM, 34, 6'3", blond, mild-tempered, good sense of humor. Seeks attractive, slender SWF, 25-38 who enjoys romantic times and intelligent conversation? Halfway through the conversation I realized that the call was from the night before. I forgot her name, what a schmuck, I’m bad with names, I hope she understands! We talk for hours and we’re never at a loss for words, like last night. We talk for hours on end and I finally ask her out. I think she’s gorgeous! I forgot her name! She forgives me. We make plans for next Tuesday to go out. I find out later that I had other plans. I hope she’s not pissed. We reschedule for Thursday night at 8:15. I’m looking forward to it.

Thursday night we meet at the Casino Bar. Diane comes in wearing a mohair coat and a wonderful hat that really shows her beauty

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Diarrhea, Pneumonia and Other Fun Things...

Things have been chaotic here, not only trying to buy a house (inspection on Thursday pointed out some other problems i.e. roof, hvac and we have more contractors giving bids and I have until Thursday to decide to go ahead or not) but meanwhile, Bob is cold/clammy/sweating and coughing a very wet cough, plus blood pressure a bit high, and chronic diarrhea -- but no fever.

And we had to run (quite literally) out of two therapy appointments and one doctor's appointment because diarrhea was leaking down the wheelchair..... GA!

And have you ever tried to change a Depends filled with diarrhea on an immobile, 6'3" guy who can't stand up, heck, can't even breach up his butt while sitting in a wheelchair?? Doesn't work so well. I know -- I tried last week and ended up with poop on my arms, hands, shirt and even in my hair! and I still didn't succeed....

Later that night, I could still smell it and found poop smears on my wrist watch.... aaaargh!

So, Friday, off to the primary care doctor who thinks it might be pneumonia and wants a chest x-ray and I'm saying, what? on Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.? Before a holiday weekend? When I have to leave there and run to the bank because the seller (bank) who owns the house we have an offer on will not accept a check for escrow but wants a bank wire transfer before Monday --- grrr.... So doctor decides to just put Bob on antibiotics and see what happens -- at least this is what I understand, until Tuesday when I get a call from an "imaging center" wanting to schedule Bob for a chest x-ray after he's been on antibiotics now for four days -- huh? Which I declined... as what's the purpose of that??? Anyhoo, Bob seems better but is really tired, but has stopped the coughing, though is still sweaty but then, hell, I'm sweaty -- it is still summer here in Florida...

Speech therapy is going well, but the ST is giving Bob harder and harder problems to work on, trying to get him to say spontaneous sentences etc.  and at one point Bob was in tears as he couldn't think of the words... but still, ST says Bob is "graduating" and saying more and more words!

PT not so well, especially since last two sessions interrupted with diarrhea...

But Bob did get the go-ahead for four more weeks for both therapies...  Yay!

Meanwhile, I took Bob to Best Buy to look for a new computer --- our computer is OLD, do you remember the E-Mac shaped like an big egg??? Was popular around 2003??? Looks like this:
Well, that's what we got and I tell you, it's been on it's last legs for a long long time. In fact, I can no longer access popular sites like YouTube as the E-Mac software is no longer supported. (And that explains why no new videos of Bob speaking!)  Well, went there with Bob and got a new computer (Bob pointing to the one he said was "nice!" though, I don't know, seems the monitor is a bit big for me, but he was always the computer geek of the family, so I let him make that decision) now, I'm trying to set this whole thing up and transfer all my files over, which is, to say the least, not as easy as it sounds, but I am getting there and am trying figure out how this new system works....

Add to this, the usual stuff (laundry, bed baths, dressing, catheter changes, lifting, etc) and add pharmacy screw ups and insurance not paying for things, and still glitches in setting up the trust fund and many phone calls trying to get everything figured out -- plus I've been trying to get ready for a move and so spent a day cleaning out one closet and threw out some stuff only to find myself up at midnight digging through the dumpster retrieving the stuff I threw away, because ga! It's hard to throw away stuff, especially Bob's stuff... and I don't know, I should be happy now but I am truly stressed and really overwhelmed and not doing so well, right now... And yeah, I should sell The Green Machine! I am truly overwhelmed, and just want to crawl in bed and hide under the covers....

So this blog has been quiet --  as things have been really horribly chaotic here at the Pink House on the Corner....