It’s been quite month to say the least. From the numerous visitors to gait training to starting speech therapy in St Pete, it’s been a struggle to find time to write an update, in fact that this is my tenth attempt. So like the previous month, buckle up because there are several updates.
Starting off with visitors, I can’t thank everyone enough for coming by. We must have seen 20 or so people in the last month, including many from out of town who would just to stop in to see how outstanding his progress has been. It was great to hear how much he’s changed between visits, whether it was just a couple weeks, months, or even a year between visits. Each and every person was stunned with how far Thom has come. We all remember that if it wasn’t for the perfect alignment of those medical professionals and Thom’s strong will and hard headedness, we could be visiting a gravesite instead. In typical Thom fashion, he has been very nonchalant about the entire journey, though he was brought to tears a few times during visits just from the sheer love he felt from those coming by and the kind gestures.
His therapy at TGH went well overall. He made some significant progress with PT and OT. His progress was going so well that they even introduced him to gait training on the last day. They finally had enough confidence that he could withstand a good ten minutes of walking on a treadmill. He built up enough endurance that they were able to get him to walk about 950 steps! The only thing holding him back from doing even more was getting his right leg to be fully straight. This comes down to me attempting to find time to stretch him when he will allow me.
One MAJOR reason he was able to walk is he has built up a bit of endurance for physical activity. For example, he’s been pushing himself more and more on the walks with Zuri. Recently, he was able to make it a solid 1,500 feet by pushing himself on his own in the middle of the day in the Florida sun. He was able to correct his mistakes while wheeling himself down the winding sidewalk (such as running off into the grass) or when he would get caught in a rut (he was literally pushing me away to prove that he could do it on his own, and of course he was able to pull himself out).
Now for the big update on speech, by far the most difficult aspect of this entire journey. After just a week at The Aphasia Center in St Pete, I’m very pleased with the progress so far. He’s gone from saying just a few words here and there to a few dozen words. Now are they perfect? Of course not, but he’s honing in slowly on each and every word and always trying to correct his mistakes. They have been working on a wide variety of words and sounds to help him communicate. Dr Lori and the other therapists are hoping to work more on using these words in a context than just being able to say words In general. The short term goal is him being able to indicate what he wants with a couple words. They are also working on writing but more importantly, working on a keyboard. In addition to the more traditional therapy, they have introduced transcranial direct current stimulation for about 20 mins a day. There is, however, a current lack of consensus between studies, with many results suggesting that polarity-specific effects are difficult to obtain, but I figured it was worth a shot. Anything to help Thom speed up his recovery is obviously my number one goal. On top of all the therapy, Thom is finally been given homework on a daily basis. All this being said, during the first week, he has been able to order his own lunch each and every day (and STILL as picky as ever!!!), talking more and more, participating quite well in the group therapy activities like bingo, his cognition seems to be improving, and overall just seems happier and more alive.
I know I am forgetting a few things as it’s been that crazy of a month but I just want to say thank you again to everyone who has been following along, dropping by, reaching out, providing support and advice, and of course, continuing to send the good vibes toward Thom. I do encourage him to read the comments and cards that come in as I know he enjoys them all. If anyone wants to visit, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Weekends seem to be better at this point due to the therapy in St Pete.
Cheers and until next time (hopefully sooner than a month!)