While this is only the fourth post of the year but that doesn't mean Thom has stopped making progress. His progress is slow but steady. To no surprise, his walking is the strongest as he has the most confidence in this. His cognition is very good overall, a few lapses here and there but that’s totally understandable given everything that has happened. He is slowly gaining back some words as well, it's all a matter of practice, practice, practice. Being the perfectionist that he always has been, he still doesn't want to try something unless he knows he can meet his standards so we still need to break down that barrier and just try. Even if he will not be as successful as he hopes, something is better than nothing at all.
Since the post in May, Thom was invited to a class reunion for Berkeley and he saw a number of his former students. I do want to give a big shout out to Chris Dickey for reaching out and making it happen! It definitely made Thom’s day to see so many familiar faces again, both students and co-workers! Hopefully it’ll happen again. We also had dinner with some folks from TGH’s outpatient speech therapy. It was great to see these people again and some of the other patients’ progress since he was last there. It was even better to see the look on the faces of his former therapists as we walked in rather than me pushing him in his wheelchair.
We have had a few visitors here and there, the majority from out of town (either visiting Tampa, home on summer vacation from school, or even just a quick trip for lunch from Orlando or Ft Myers). We have had a couple locals as well. To those that have come by, I cannot thank you enough for coming by. It really does mean so much to him. Whether it’s hearing about the impact he had on a student to just shooting the breeze with Thom, the fact that they came by took time out of their day to say ‘hello’ really means something to him, even if it’s just for five minutes. It was also pretty great to see some other teachers at a get together back in early August, some that haven’t seen Thom in a couple years.
In July, we flew back to California for two more weeks of therapy, in part by another very generous donation to help with physical therapy. This time, Thom made quite a bit of progress overall as usual, even with such a long break between sessions. Before, it would have been simply amazing for him to walk around the therapy studio out in Foster City, CA. This time, they had him walking from car in the parking lot, into the building, riding the elevator, then down the very long hallway to therapy, all as just as a warm up. Then, after 3hrs of therapy, they would have him walk all the way back to the car. After a quick 3hr lunch and break, the process would repeat for the afternoon session. In total, he must have been walking almost half a mile, daily! For someone who had a massive stroke and hemiplegia, this was absolutely incredible. The other incredible part about Thom’s walking is that he is not wobbling or putting straining his muscles and bones too by leaning toward the extremes. He is walking, while very slow, it’s correct, unlike the dozens of videos I’ve seen on YouTube or from hospitals.
If everything goes according to plan and finances are in order, I’m hoping we can get back out in January. If it doesn’t, then the next time likely wouldn’t be until next summer, but we shall see. We would go back sooner but I do have to work both jobs, find the time, energy, etc. While both of my jobs are incredibly supportive and are more than willing to let me take the time off or work remotely, it’s just mind boggling how insurance refuses to pay for therapy. The other obstacle is getting hyped for going back out. I am starting to think that Thom would much rather travel and see new things than do more therapy, and who can blame him. His inquisitive mind and wanderlust made him travel for so many years and he still has many more places to see.
From June through September, Thom has continued with speech therapy over in St Pete. His overall goal for the month was to accurately produce 45-50 single words in response to a question/speech after practice, which he did meet each time. With more repetition, he will only get better at this. But again, he needs to get over that hump of just trying, regardless of how bad it’s going to be. They have also tried to work more on the facial muscles with various exercises to help him get used to shaping his mouth for certain words. Also during this time frame, we walked into our pool over, which was outstanding. It was great for him to feel that weightlessness while attempting to walk. It was even more fascinating to actually watch him really move his leg as much as he could without having to worry about gravity or anything. His range of motion, his balance, everything, was truly extraordinary.
If you’d like to see Thom, please do not hesitate to reach out in whatever way is most convenient: text, email, here, facebook messenger, or even surprise visits. Whether it’s stopping by the house, grabbing lunch/dinner, or something else, I will do my best to make it happen. Even if it’s just for a few while passing by on the way home from work or wherever, it does mean more than one can imagine that some do stop by to say ‘hello'. With the Bucs and Lightning seasons already in full swing keeping me busy on game days when the teams are at home, there are a few things to juggle, but it’s definitely possible to make it happen.
Hopefully the next post is sooner than later. Until next time...