Happy New Year everyone! Today officially is the two-year anniversary of Thom's massive stroke. This stroke almost killed him but thankfully he has the will to live and fights every single day to get better. This last year for Thom has been a wild ride cross-country ride, between two rounds of outpatient therapy at Tampa General Hospital to two intensive sessions at five days a week for ten weeks total of speech therapy at The Aphasia Center in St Pete, to three and a half weeks of hardcore physical and occupational therapy in California. Sprinkle some home therapy in there too and it has been quite the year.
During December, we went back out to California for a week of intensive PT and OT and it was incredible on how well Thom did. He didn’t lose nearly as much as I was expecting. We were not able to do many exercises between visits as he was having a very nasty reaction to the smoke from the terrible fires in November in California. Between lack of sleep, a couple visits to urgent care (I actually couldn’t even touch his arm at one point he was in so much pain), and finally a visit to his primary doctor, Dr Cruse, him FINALLY kick whatever he had.
Back in Foster City, CA, Thom and the therapists picked up right where they left off. From the first couple hours back, they had him doing some of the same exercises and more. Each day, they had him up and walking around the facility for anywhere from 45 mins to almost an hour. At the very beginning, they had him holding on to me again while Thom would try to move his right leg and the therapist would correct his right side (hip, leg, and foot). During the previous visit, when walking with me, Thom was leaning on me so much, he might as well have pulled my arm out of its socket. This time though, he was barely holding on to me. His walking gradually got better as we were there too, I was replaced by a walker and eventually the therapist would just walk in front of him and just correct his foot placement (as seen in the picture). Watching this in person was out of this world. I think back to when Thom was at TGH doing the gait training and how that was fantastic but that pales in comparison to this. Thom was walking with just a little bit of help!
I’m really looking forward to the next three visits: two weeks in January, one week in February, and then two more weeks in March. Five more weeks over three months will do wonder for him. After March, I’m not sure when we will be back as there are a couple hurdles to overcome: money and availability for me with the NHL playoffs starting in April (and hopefully ending on a good note for the Lightning in June). Between the cost of therapy, flights, and hotel, it’s a very pretty penny per week. I don’t want to publicized any names as I did not ask permission before writing this, but to those who have helped out recently, either with flights, funds for therapy, or even taking Zuri every single time we go out of town, we cannot thank you enough. We are so incredibly grateful for your generosity. I know Thom yearns to have some sort of independence again and this is the right track to get him on his feet again.
I do have a small favor to ask regarding hotels in California: does anyone have (or know someone) with government state ID? There is a conveniently located hotel which offers great prices but only with an ID. I'm tempted to book it as is but if they do ask for ID, I would be out of luck and likely have to pay the full rate. It would essentially involve that person making the booking and me paying for the hotel. Most hotels range from roughly $150-250 a night from what I'm seeing and this is $125 with a state government employee rate. The reservation needs to be under that persons name and they would just need to be there for checking in. When staying for as long as we are, it would save a bundle that I could put toward actual therapy.
As far as other updates, we will start speech therapy up again next week, online twice a week again with the Aphasia Center. We were also able to get Thom to his first Lightning game in two years (thanks Scott!) for a very entertaining win. The holidays in general were very quiet with only family visiting though Thom did enjoy the number of holiday cards we did receive. A few former students were able to meet up with us during our extremely quick California visit in December which was awesome! I know Thom always loves to see and hear from each and every one.
Until the next update!