Friday, July 28, 2006


Thanks for all the comments about Max.  He was definitely “one-of-a-kind” and though Mike will miss him, he hasn’t let it get him down.  We’ve laughed lots about Max’s antics.  Even though he was small in size, I’m sure he thought of himself as big, strong and invincible.   He’s had a leg amputated, been hit by a truck, gotten lost a few times, tried to make friends with a porcupine and even been attacked by a Rottweiler.  Mind you, that doesn’t scratch the surface of the things Michael has tried or encountered in his life so the two had much in common!  

Mike continues to progress.  He has a new roommate and though Ron’s injury level is similar to Mike’s, it is much earlier in his rehab.  It’s easy to forget how far along Mike has come.  Some mornings have still been a bit “slow” but his afternoons and evenings show steady improvement.  Mike has never been a morning person so it’s not surprising that he struggles with the rush to go through his morning routine.  It’s just another reminder that Mike is still Mike and some things never change.  Thankfully!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Some Sad News

We had some sad news today – Max, Mike’s little three-legged dog, died today.  We were so glad that Max had come for a visit last week and we were able to soak up a little of his energy and joy of life.  How quickly pets become part of our lives.  Max and Mike certainly had a unique connection and especially of late, had many things in common! He was a wonderful companion and we will miss him dearly.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Up and About

Mike and I “walked” to the mall this weekend for some retail therapy. Being careful not to let his shopping skills slip while going through rehab, Mike tried on a few items and settled on a hoodie for his purchase. Clearly no decline in his shopping expertise!

It was great to see Mike feeling better. He spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening in his chair without feeling nauseous. Up to now, Mike has spent most of his free time in his room, usually in bed but yesterday Mike spent time visiting with other patients and their families in the atrium. It’s so encouraging to see him “up and about”. This could be attributed to the increased medication or that his body is finally starting to adjust or even that he has a chance to sleep in on the weekends. But I think it’s quite possible that getting a hair cut made all the difference.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Good Things About Today

Good things about today:
  1. The higher dose of medication seems to be helping and Mike felt much better.  He hasn’t thrown up for a number of days.  It seemed that we’d have a few steps forward and then a step back but this has been the longest stretch where Mike has tolerated longer times in the wheelchair.  

  2. Mike ate tons of food!  Though he hasn’t seemed to add much weight, he looks like he’s getting stronger.

  3. Mike’s getting faster at doing transfers.  He’s learned how to transfer to a number of different areas i.e. cars, hospital bed, regular bed, tub, etc. so now he’ll just perfect his skills!

  4. Mike mastered the power chair in 30 seconds (I guess video games do have a purpose!) but once he was out of my sight, he felt the need to verify the top speed.  Some things never change…

  5. Through Mike’s accidents we have recognized the strength of family, the support of friends and made some amazing new friends.  Thank you.

  6. Max (Mike’s dog) came for a visit.  One thing you have to say about Max and Mike – they are both resilient!  They may not look or do things the same as when they were “able-bodied” but they’re still both irresistible!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Mike got a new wheelchair to try out and this one seems to fit him better than the last one.  The hand grip on the wheel is easier to grasp which makes it easier to wheel.  He also has a power wheelchair waiting for him to try.  Who knew there were so many options!

OT was spent transferring to a regular bed instead of a hospital bed.  Tomorrow he practices transferring to a shower bench.  Things we take so for granted are hard work!

However, dialing for pizza take-out was not impaired in the accident and that has been exercised a number of times (including tonight!).


Today Mike did his first car transfer which means he can go out for short trips in the car. And he did it without throwing up! I learned how to take apart his wheelchair and I’m sure with practice I will be able to do it in lightening speed. Of course, just when I master this wheelchair, he will try out another, although I’m sure if I keep pushing levers and buttons, I’ll get it apart. Sometime next week Mike is hoping to try out a motorized wheelchair. Guess I shouldn’t attempt taking that one apart…

The doctor removed some of the dead tissue around Mike’s graft site this morning. Hopefully this will help to speed up the healing process. This procedure resulted in Mike missing his physio appointment but not surprisingly, he didn’t seem all that disappointed! Mike was able to shower both Saturday and Sunday in order to wash off his graft sites. This was a treat considering that patients are only scheduled for two showers a week until they can shower themselves. (Little do they know that Mike would have extremely long showers at home until all the hot water was gone. Leaving him to shower on his own could be problematic for the hospital!) Mike has an appointment with his plastic surgeon at the University Hospital on Wednesday so we’ll see what they have to say.

Mike was able to go onto the computer today. Though he can go on the internet on his phone, this was the first time he sat down at a computer since the accident. Needless to say, his fingers don’t work the way they used to and it will be an adjustment for him but it was good to see Mike at the computer keyboard.

Though Mike takes these “firsts” in stride, it never ceases to amaze me how positive he remains in spite of the fact that everything he does takes enormous effort. It really is inspiring!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Slow Start

The day did not start off so well. Mike was feeling rather ill and did not make it to PT or to an information class that he was scheduled to attend. Because he took Gravol with his other nausea medication, he ended up sleeping most of the morning. By lunch time he was feeling better and was able to attend his hand strengthening class and worked again on transferring from his wheelchair to his bed in OT. He is going to work on transferring to a car tomorrow.

Neil and I did some house hunting this evening. There are so many things to consider:
• The entryway – how will Mike be able to get in into the house. Can we build a ramp? Put a lift in the garage (if it is an attached garage)? Is the entry way big enough to maneuver a wheelchair?
• Flooring – is there carpet that will make it difficult for a wheelchair? We may not notice the transitions between carpet, tile, hardwood, etc. but a wheelchair might!
• Stairs – is everything on one level or will we need a lift? Are the landings big enough to accommodate a lift? Do the stairs go straight up and down or do they curve or take a turn? Are they wide enough to use a lift?
• Doorways and hallways – are they wide enough for a wheelchair? Do the hallways take a turn which might make it hard for a wheelchair?
• Bathrooms – a wheel in shower is ideal but not always possible to modify. If not, can you make other modifications? Is the bathroom wide enough? Is there enough room by the toilet? Can you change the vanity so that a wheelchair could go under the sink?
• Deck or patio – will you have to build a ramp to go out the back door?

These only cover the basic items and don’t even touch things that would matter to Mike if he lived alone i.e. modifying a kitchen to put things at his level and at his reach. There are many challenges and it is extremely difficult in this “seller’s” market. But we’ve assured Mike that if all else fails, the garage here is heated and he can set up camp there. If he’s lucky, I may even bring him food!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I wanted to clarify some comments I made on yesterday’s blog about money. Please understand that in no way are we asking for money. I meant only to express gratitude for those funds which have already been received. When we were approached about setting up a trust fund for Michael, we were already aware of various fund-raising activities that Mike’s friends had initiated. Having a trust fund seemed a logical decision. I was asked to put the information on the blog to make people aware since there had been inquiries about what to do with donations. I meant only to pass on that information.

Mike’s medical needs will be provided for and we are confident of his bright future. Yes, he will have costs over and above what WCB will cover and as parents we want Mike to be able to be independent. We also have the desire to be independent ourselves and not accept help so the subject of money is difficult. Most importantly, we want you to know that we are overwhelmed by your generosity and are deeply grateful. God has been teaching us much about giving and receiving through your kindness.

After talking to Mike’s social worker today, we are hoping that Mike will be able to leave Glenrose early in October. The biggest thing holding him back right now is his feeling nauseous but the new medication seems to be helping. We couldn’t find his “kidney bowl” to bring to PT this morning but fortunately he didn’t need it then, nor did he need it for the rest of the day! The staff is confident that as soon as this “stage” is over, Mike will progress by leaps and bounds. He can already transfer by himself and no longer has to use the lift to get himself into bed. Still haven’t managed that hair cut though….


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Steve Goes Home

It was wonderful to have all three boys back together. Between “retail therapy”, watching movies, playing pool and simply hanging out, it was rewarding for me to see the boys be together again. We took Steve to the airport this morning, grateful for the chance to see him again and appreciative of the kind gesture of the person who paid for his ticket. As much as I loved having him home, I know that it meant the world to Mike.

The days certainly have their ups and downs. We are trying a new drug to combat the nausea and it seemed to make a huge difference for the first few days. Yesterday Mike threw up in both PT and OT again so the dosage may need to be increased. This seems to be his biggest hurdle but in spite of the set back, he remains positive.

Mike’s days are filling up with classes, therapy and appointments, gradually eating away at the nap times! How exhilarating it is to anticipate 4 pm and know that his “work” is over for the day. Mike continues to practice his transfers and today will start his hand class and arm strengthening. He needs more muscle mass but you need exercise and calories, something that isn’t helped by “losing” his meals or feeling sick while sitting in the chair.

People have generously set up a trust account for Mike at ATB Financial in Lac La Biche (The Mike Barker Trust Account). Anyone can donate to the account and if they wish to leave their name, they will be issued a receipt. People have already donated funds to Mike and they have been deposited to the account. Your generosity overwhelms us and I know that each dollar that is donated will go to making life’s tasks simpler and more enriching for Mike.

Thank you again for how you have shown your love and support in such tangible ways.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Having Too Much Fun

We must appologize for leaving such a break between entries but we have been having too much fun this weekend. Mike started a new nausia drug on Friday and it is working very well. In fact it worked so well that we had a chance to roll over to the mall a block away. Matt, Mike and I roled around them mall, had lunch and bought Mike some shoes. It was good! Today we finally got the correct adaptors to get his DVD player up and running again, so we basically chilled for the majority of day.

I must say it has been good. I have missed him! I can't wait till he can come visit me (and meet all of his Detroit family!).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Mike survived the first two days of “work”! Sadly, he threw up at each therapy session except today’s OT. He carries on with a smile and simply tells the girls that he’s “breaking them in” but I know how tired he is of feeling nauseous. He was doing so well. The good news is that he isn’t feeling as light-headed when he gets in the chair so we’re hopeful that this is a good sign.

Other highlights:
- Mike is getting better at doing transfers.
- We hope to try out a new wheelchair tomorrow.
- Mike is thrilled that he hasn’t had to eat many hospital meals since I bring in sandwiches, veggies and dip, fruit and something to heat up for supper. I’ve almost exhausted my supply of “meals” so I’ll have to start being more organized and creative!
- Mike was able to do some things in OT today that he was unable to do at the University Hospital. (Mary and Kerstin, you must tell Helena that Mike was able to put the little metal rods into the board, while he was being timed, no less! No doubt she’ll be as excited as I was!)
- Steve is coming tomorrow to spend the weekend. We can hardly wait. The last time Steve was here was just after the accident while Mike was in ICU. Mike is a little more alert these days and the boys will be able to spend lots of time together on the weekend.
- Mike’s “hand” sessions have been postponed so he’s been able to get a little snooze in the afternoon. Who knew that sleeping would be such a highlight!


Monday, July 03, 2006

Calm Before the Storm

Tomorrow is the big day, the day Mike starts his gruelling schedule! He took it relatively easy during the long weekend, taking naps during the day and though he got up in the chair a couple of times each day, he still spent a great deal of time lounging in bed. BUT Tuesday is a whole other story:

8-10 am – breakfast and personal care routine
10-11 am – physical therapy
11-12 am – dressing changes on his burns (and if he’s lucky, a little snooze!)
1-2 pm – working on hands
3-4 pm – occupational therapy

And then finally he has supper and free time. No doubt it will take him a few days (weeks!) to get used to the activity but perhaps now he will start sleeping during the night instead of during the day! Mike and I talked about the impending “gloom” of rehab but he is trying to look at it as simply being a work day. It wasn’t any fun getting up for a 10 hour shift but he did it. This won’t be “fun” but the payoffs will be rewarding.

Mike looks forward to getting a better fitting wheelchair (hopefully early this week) which might make sitting in the chair more comfortable. His tolerance is improving although his blood pressure still fluctuates but the good news is that he hasn’t thrown up for the last couple of days. (Except for when he threw up in bed last night but we won’t count that!)

The nurses are already warming up to him (are you surprised?) and a few times they have asked, “Is he always this nice?” They keep waiting to see his “dark side” but they’ll probably have to look for a long time! However, we haven’t seen Tuesday yet...