It’s been quite the last month. Since the last update, Thom’s gone through about 10 sessions of each OT and PT, several online speech therapy sessions, a couple events thrown by Berkeley in his honor, several visits from friends and family, and much more.
Last month, Thom started OT and PT at TGH again. Thankfully the intensive therapy at The Aphasia Center in St Pete really helped his cognition and he’s trying to help himself more which has aided his recovery with both these therapies. Starting with OT, he has a much better understanding of what the therapists are suggesting. Whether it’s continually trying to stretch himself, dress himself, brush his teeth, or other daily activities, his awareness is just so much better. We just need to continue to stretch and keep him loose, I am also very pleased he’s much more receptive to this now.
While OT has been pretty good, PT has been great. I’ve seen more gains from physical therapy, especially in the form of walking! PT has been putting in the extra time and effort with Thom, way more than I’ve ever seen from before as the timing has matched up perfectly, and it’s seriously been showing. Recently, after watching a movie one afternoon at home, Thom wanted to stand for a good stretch, so naturally I helped him stand up and he grabbed his hemi-walker. He then indicated he wanted to take a few steps, nothing out of the ordinary. I positioned myself where I could hold him up while walking and would help his right leg move as we have numerous times in the past. After walking a good 5-7 feet, he had me step away. I thought he just wanted to stand on his own, no big deal, he’s done it plenty of times recently. Instead this time, he started to move his right leg on his own! Thom was walking on his own in our living room with ZERO assistance from me. He would mimic the movements that he and I would make while practicing... Moving the walker forward, swinging his right leg, weight shifting on to that same leg while he took a quick step forward with his good left leg. I was totally speechless the first time he did this. He must have walked a good 10-15 feet on his own that day!! It was truly extraordinary to see this. Right now, it’s up to us to stretch him more and more to get this leg totally straight so he can walk a bit more naturally.
Speech therapy continues to be wonderful. It’s worked out so well that we are doing it online and during the days he doesn’t go into TGH. They also continue to work on his writing and such. He still needs to practice speaking more, he’s still a bit shy regarding this as he is a perfectionist and he knows it will not be faultless. I keep trying to push him to speak more, he just has to break down this barrier and then get that ball rolling again. Thankfully though, there are other aspects of this therapy to work on, like cognition, and he’s been rocking that.
As mentioned at the start, Berkeley had a couple event celebrating Thom. Thank you to everyone that had a hand in organizing and helping. The first one was during Alumni Reunion Day at Berkeley and it was such a great way for Thom to reconnect with alumni, including some who took a last minute red eye flight from the other coast just to see him. It was truly special to see him so happy again and I know he was absolutely grateful with each and every person that came by. I’m unsure of the actual number but it felt close to a hundred. The other event was a breakfast at school to reconnect with faculty followed by an end of year celebration where they also had a tribute to Thom.
As far as other activities and events, we have had a number of visitors recently, from local friends to family from other parts of the country. All of which brought such joy to Thom. We also purchased a new recliner to replace his 25+ year old very well worn one. The only downfall of this recliner is that the handle is on the right side so I will try to see if I can make an attachment for him so he can possibly use it with his left hand. We also went to a friend’s birthday gathering at the beach which was exciting as it was the first time we’ve gone to the beach since the stroke and thankfully they had a beach wheelchair so we could get him on the sand. Needless to say, Thom felt like a king on this pvc throne. As mentioned in an earlier post, our great friends at Pi Meadworks are auctioning off some bottles of their fantastic mead with all proceeds going toward therapy for Thom. Their mead is incredibly tasty, so if you like mead and want to help Thom out, please check it out. All the proceeds will go to more therapy for Thom since Medicare doesn’t seem to want to pay for anything else regarding that this year.
As far as what’s next: I need to call around to schedule to get Thom a new wheelchair as the current one is a bit difficult for him to use on his own. Also need to explore intensive physical therapy some more. There is a place in San Diego that was recommended and I’m waiting to hear back but I’m hoping to find one a bit closer. We will also be near Boston in mid July so if anyone would like to meet up, I know Thom would enjoy it. We will be there from the 18th to the 24th. As always, if anyone in Tampa wants to stop by or meet up, we are generally free and I’m sure Thom would enjoy getting out of the house.
Thank you as always for following along and until next time!