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Archive for the ‘Katie’s Story’ Category

Where Do We Go from Here?: Katie’s Story, Part Twenty-Five

Helping Others

Katie’s Motto

Katie’s life before her TBI was full of profoundly meaningful activity.  Katie was dedicated to helping others in a multitude of ways.  (See “The Plan” Katie’s Story Part Six.)

Katie’s life now revolves around her daily care.

Additionally, however, there has been significant improvement in her social interaction.  She is able to go to church.  Friends come to visit, and together they enjoy activities like dinner and movies and games.

But I’ve been thinking about ways to rekindle the element of altruism that was once integral to Katie’s objective in life.

I asked Katie if she would like have a pen pal, and suggested
Gabrielle Giffords http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabrielle_Giffords  or
Sharon Budd http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/10/victim_of_i-80_rock-throwing_s.html
The idea did not pique her interest.

I talked to Sam about joining a support group so that he and Katie could have the opportunity to both give and receive encouragement by sharing common challenges with other brain injury patients.

Sam did not discount the idea entirely, so I think I will bring it up with Katie at our next visit.

Sam did say, however, that he is not personally under a lot of stress, and although that is probably not entirely true, I will say that his demeanor has improved greatly.  Sam appears to be doing better than I have seen him for more than two years.

When I asked Sam specifically if life has improved for him since Katie came home, he replied, “Yes.” This I was obviously pleased to hear.

NO BIG NEWS is a GOOD thing!

NO BIG NEWS
A GOOD thing!

I’ve been struggling somewhat over continuing to blog Katie’s Story.  There is no longer any “big” news to report—and that is a good thing.

So, although I will leave the door open for future posts about Katie, I would like to sum up Katie’s Story with the following observation.

Life is unpredictable and sometimes catastrophic.  What happened to Katie was tragic and overwhelming.  Although Katie’s life will never be the same as it was before her brain surgery, it is better.  Arriving at this place was improbable, but every effort has been worthwhile.

I would recommend to others in crisis to think creatively, to be optimistic, and to have perseverance.  Sometimes you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible.Success

 

And finally—

Don't Listen

A Movie for Katie: Katie’s Story, Part Twenty-Four

Movie

Judene and I couldn’t visit Katie last week.  Sam called and cancelled our date because they were having other company.  Sam was apologetic, but I told him that was great.  Re-establishing a social network is one of the objectives of bringing Katie home.

We were able, however, to visit Katie yesterday.  I brought the movie The Theory of Everything which is a biopic about quantum physicist and scientific genius Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed with a devastating neuromuscular disease in 1962.  While he was given a life expectancy of two years—Hawking overcame all the odds and is still living more than fifty years later.

Biopic

Katie Identifies

In one poignant scene, Hawking fantasizes about getting out of his wheelchair, walking down the steps, and picking up a pen that a young woman has dropped.  Katie has, on a number of occasions, imagined that she, too, has walked.  We were able to talk about how intense desire can make such an illusion seem so real.

Popcorn

…and the popcorn, too!

At the end of the movie Stephen Hawking’s character states, “Where there is life there is hope.”  I think Katie enjoyed the movie and the message…

An Opportunity to Say THANKS: Katie’s Story, Part Twenty-Three

Thanks

In my  November 18th post:  The Plan, Katie’s Story Part Six, I recounted that when Sam decided to pursue the idea of bringing Katie home I e-mailed the social services director at Aging with the request that she facilitate the agency process.  She told me that she was retiring in a few months, and that the nurse (who I really wanted to do the assessment) was leaving the agency in a couple of weeks, but that she would do what she could to help.  Because she followed through with her commitment and got the ball rolling at the agency, everything fell into place as I have reported throughout Katie’s Story.

I recently invited this lady to join me for a visit to see Katie.  I wanted her to be able to witness how “The Plan” was working (which none of us expected to come to fruition) and how her efforts contributed to the dramatic improvement in Katie’s living condition and outlook on life.  She was duly impressed.

I’m betting that what she saw will be a highlight for her whenever she thinks about those last days winding up her career.

At the top of my TO DO list I have added:

Thank All

On Katie’s Team

Mundane is Magic: Katie’s Story, Part Twenty-Two

It’s been a cold snowy winter, but…

Change is in the air and

spring is just around the corner.

Spring

Sam took Katie to church.

Sam took Katie for a walk outdoors.

Judene and I took Katie out to sit on the deck.

A couple of neighbors stopped by.

Does this all sound:

Commonplace or

ordinary or

routine or

uneventful?

Well, maybe so…but in this case it is:

Exceptional and

extraordinary and

unusual and

exciting.

Mundane Magic

Dinner with Friends: Katie’s Story, Part Twenty-one

Indian Food

Last Sunday Manny, Judene, Dave and I joined Sam and Katie in their home for a dinner and game night.  We had done this a few times at the nursing home, but as you can imagine, this was SO much better.

Sam had set the table with the good china, silverware and crystal.

Dave had a hankering for Indian Curry, and I worried a bit because everyone had professed they didn’t like curry.  But this dish had always been a winner for us, so they all agreed to give it a try.  Curry is served over rice with condiments:  onions, tomatoes, bananas, coconut, peanuts and chutney.  Thankfully, it was a big hit, especially accompanied by a nice Riesling White Winefrom the Finger Lakes.  Judene brought Manny’s favorite spice cake with caramel icing for dessert.  Dinner together—like times gone by.

We played Sequence, one of Katie’s favorite games, and although she has a lot of limitations, she was able to do pretty well and had a good time.

Sam enjoyed talking to his buddies.  We were all happy to get together again in familiar surroundings.

When I visited Katie again later in the week I asked Sam, “How’s it going?”  He replied, “Pretty good!”  That’s his most positive response to date.  I am encouraged.

Encourage Empower

An Optimistic Update: Katie’s Story, Part Twenty

OptimismFor the first time, I am reporting to you with a sense of confidence.

The problem with funding has been rectified.  The only major item remaining to be acquired is the shower wheelchair.

The change of caregivers has taken place. “Faith” started last Sunday, and already she is a comfortable part of the family.  Faith is a take charge individual.  She sends Sam out of the room when she performs Katie’s personal care.  Moreover, she is a task-master with Katie’s exercises.  This is important since Katie has lost a lot of her inherent drive.

Faith Building BlocksThe experience with Grace was an opportunity to learn and a sturdy building block for a successful experience with Faith.   Sam has learned that he can step back and let Faith do her job—he is in fact, eager to do so.  It is obvious that Sam is relaxing as stress decreases.

Faith stones

With Faith, I hope to believe:

THIS PLAN WILL SUCCEED!

Success ahead

Ideas: Katie’s Story, Part Nineteen

Idea balloons

 

When Judene and I visit, we listen and observe.  Later we brainstorm to identify obstacles, needs, potential solutions, and how we can help.  But at this point, we have tabled our thoughts until the more immediate fundamentals are taken care of.  Sam doesn’t need more on his plate than he can handle at one time and right now his plate is full:

 

  • First of all, there has been some progress since funding has AGAIN been approved, but there is still no green light on the flow of funds.
  • Secondly, Gloria has decided that the physical aspects of providing care are too difficult for her to handle. She and Sam have made good progress at working together as a team. But the fact remains that it is essential that Gloria is able to work independently so that Sam has the ability to come and go more freely. Katie has gained 50 pounds since becoming disabled and has almost no ability to assist with her own movement. Gloria is not a young woman and she is small. The concern that she will lose her own health and well-being is undeniable.

Some ideas for Sam:  You are spending most of your time at home in the role of caregiver.  You need to learn to step back and try to reconnect with Katie as her husband.  I know that’s quite a challenge because Katie has changed.  It’s like forming a relationship all over again, and learning to do things differently the second time around.

  • Start with small things like: having breakfast together at the kitchen island; discussing the news of the day; planning for an outing or two each week.
  • Find free time to go off by yourself, especially when Katie is napping; reconnect for dinner and TV or a movie during the evenings you do not work.
  • Hire another caregiver to assist with getting Katie ready for bed.

Some ideas for Katie:  You would like to walk again and are frustrated that every day is the same as the day before.  You need to learn to take control over your life again by speaking up, taking responsibility, and making choices.  Work on developing the perseverance to do things that are difficult for you.

  • Set small / short-term goals.
  • Establish a routine to do cognitive and physical therapy, and then DO it.
  • Read on your Kindle.
  • Get help to work on picture books on the computer.
  • Write to Gabrielle Giffords to share your experience.

Some ideas for Sam and Katie:

  • Go to church services.
  • Join a Stroke Support Group so that Katie feels like she can make a contribution.
  • Try other community outings.
  • Attend the grandchildren’s sporting events.

Ideas

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