Today we embark on our fifth visit to California for therapy with the Neuro-IFRAH clinic. This place has been worth all the time, effort, money, hassel, and everything in between to say the least. I first started this blog about Dr. Thom Morris’ journey almost two years ago to the day. During the first week, I was incredibly hopeful for Thom and thinking in a matter of months, he would be up and walking about and talking a bit. Little did I know how slow this journey would actually be, and also how much patience and extra effort would be needed from me. It’s taken almost a year and half to find therapy that truly made an impact for him. With no offense to Tampa General, it just was not enough looking back. When someone has 90 minutes of therapy a week, how can a person expect to make significant progress when damage was that significant. Also, how can someone expect to gain anything when either the therapists yell or have generally negative attitudes (yes this happened, often, yet nothing was done), cause pain (each and every time), or just seem to give up because the patient isn’t progressing fast enough (they blamed it on Medicare for cutting Thom off but still mind-boggling). Between the folks at both the Neuro-IFRAH and The Aphasia Center, Thom’s physical, mental, and vocal states are seemingly light years ahead of where they would be if he were not part of these programs. What fascinating is that these two programs are so relatively unknown, and one is right in our backyard. It’s crazy to think of the butterfly effect regarding one simple recommendation: To see a Neuro-Opthamolgist. Thankfully, there was one therapist at TGH that recommended a this simply because Thom’s vision for his right side was not particularly strong. This led to meeting Dr Drucker, who recommended the University of Michigan’s Aphasia Program, which lead to The Aphasia Center, then to Neuro-IFRAH, who have Thom walking again! “Hey, have you seen a Neuro-Opthamologist? If not, you should, he’s really neglecting his right side. Let’s make sure he can even see out of that side clearly” Who knew?
So back to today. Today, we fly out in about 4 hours of me writing this (8am flight but I had work tonight with the Lightning and then finish packing). As mentioned above, this is our fifth trip out to CA. First was in August, which was just to get a good idea of where Thom was at physically. The next three trips were to really push Thom like he never has been pushed before. The first week was great overall minus the smoke from the fires about 200 miles away. Round two was another wonderful and rewarding week right before Christmas. In January, we went for two weeks as the Lightning were on an extended break. Thankfully we were able to squeeze two weeks in because the first few days were dedicated to making up lost ground. I try my best to work with Thom daily but the week leading up to that trip, I got very ill. I ran myself into the ground by being Thom’s sole caregiver and burning the candle at both ends. It finally caught up to me after 18 or so months. I could barely even move, let alone transfer Thom to his wheelchair and recliner, forget doing any exercises with him. I tried to call into my main job but that didn’t work as I had no one to cover for me. Needless to say, I was sick AND miserable. I even spoke with family on the phone who sounded more genuinely concerned for me than ever before. After getting back on my feet some and getting Thom out to CA the next week, the therapists were able to get him up and walking again but they definitely noticed he took several steps back. Thankfully, since we’ve been home over the last two, I have been able to work and walk with Thom daily and he’s been absolutely amazing. Am I expecting some minor regression with this trip? Of course, I cannot work with Thom 30hrs a week like they do. On top of my regular job and working the Lightning games, it would be impossible without burning myself out again. I truly believe that this time the therapists will be very pleased that he is very close to where he left off last time. I will try to take some pictures while there to post with the permission on the clinic. For some strange reason, they don’t want the free advertisement via photos and videos but hopefully I can persuade them as I know there are many followers of Dr Morris’ journey from this terrible stroke.
As far as what’s going on next for Thom after this coming week, the next time we will be out in Foster City is in March for two weeks, March 10-22. After that, I hate to say it, but who knows. Selfishly, I hope we cannot get out there again until July as that would mean the Lightning make an incredibly deep run. I need as many games as possible, both as an employee but also a fan, as each week in California in incredibly expensive between flights, hotel, food, and the actual therapy. It’s pretty depressing how much it costs to get someone to walk and/or talk again simple due to a burst blood vessel. If anyone has any hotel points or airlines miles they could donate to Thom, it would be most welcome. Speaking of which, an absolutely MASSIVE thank you to the three families that helped us out this coming trip (hotel and therapy) and in January (plane tickets and therapy). I will not name any names as I did not ask for permission prior to this post, but to these families, thank you so so so much from both Thom and myself, we are eternally grateful for your generosity.
I would also like to say thank you to the few people who came and visited Thom in the last couples months, especially those who came from Savannah and Vero Beach, we know it’s a haul, so the fact that these folks make the drive just to spend even just a few hours is incredible. It’s always great to see Thom light up as well. Please, if you are local, reach out. We have seen more visitors from outside the State of Florida than we have instate. If you are in the general area and just want to stop by for even a short time just to say hi, Thom (and I) appreciate it. It motivates him, helps him know that he isn’t forgotten, and it breaks up the monotony.
Until the next update…. Cheers, Sonny