Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Things are becoming normal

Life is actually starting to feel normal again. We have more of a routine and have been adventuring out to do more things. Some of the highlights over the last week…

  • Mike went out on Friday night with a friend. Though getting around is a little more complicated, some things never change. I’m sure it wouldn’t take you long to figure out which movie they went to see…
  • We had a mini reunion on the weekend while my brother and family were here from Vancouver. More people to witness Mike beating Grandpa at arm wrestling!
  • We went for retail therapy yesterday at West Edmonton Mall. Not only did Mike find some hoodies, I think I discovered how to get him to sleep at night instead of during the day – shop ‘til we drop!

Mike and I are definitely finding our way through the transition. Though it is hard for a morning person to be patient when the days seem to begin painfully slow, I am learning to let go of my schedule. It is obvious how much Mike is trying and how difficult it is to make his new “body” cooperate. He does this without complaint and without resentment. I was amazed at his character as I watched him recover in ICU, make progress in the University Hospital and then grow stronger and more confident at the Glenrose but seeing his attitude as he struggles through his daily tasks humbles me and makes me proud. Now if only I could get him to clean up his room…

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Digging Deep

Sorry for the delay in writing but we don’t have the computer set up at the apartment so it is difficult for me to keep you updated regularly.  Hopefully that will be remedied soon!

Mike’s out for good!!!  What a treat to know that we are finished this leg of the journey.  The long anticipated day did not go as smoothly as planned...

…I had to wait for Mike’s commode and tub bench before coming to the hospital.
…Mike’s wheelchair has not arrived so we had to make adjustments to a “loaner” before we left.
…I couldn’t fill Mike’s prescription at the drug store because they didn’t have WCB approval so I had to go back the hospital for enough meds for the day.
…Meanwhile, the drugstore got approval so I had to return to the store to pick up Mike’s meds for the month.
…We had to coordinate sticking around the apartment because the adjustable bed was to arrive in the afternoon.

But, in spite of the hurdles, it was rewarding to know that we didn’t have to go back to the Glenrose.  That’s not to say we won’t miss the staff and other patients there.  We made many friends and it was hard to say goodbye.  We were excited to find out that one person we’ve come to love and appreciate will be our neighbour!  What a blessing to have someone living so close who understands intimately the struggles our families face.

Today Mike and I shed a few tears.  Some of the equipment that Mike planned on using isn’t going to work or will need some adjustments.  Nothing seemed to go smoothly and it appeared that everything had a glitch or hiccup.  Maybe it was just pent up emotions over the last few days but it was good to talk things through. As positive and optimist as Mike is, it is hard to face the fact that nothing is easy, everything takes longer and it’s hard to find the balance between doing it yourself and asking for help.  There are days when you really have to “dig deep”!

(Thank you so much for your encouraging words.  They definitely lighten the load!)

P.S.  Mike wasn’t able to do his driver’s test because they couldn’t fit him in but we’re hoping to do it soon.  I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


As Mike’s discharge nears, I know we will enter a new phase.  Until now, weekends have been a welcomed retreat from hospital life.  We lounge around and though we often have a few items on the agenda, we do not have a demanding schedule.  However, being at home “for good” will probably bring up issues for us to wade through.

Before the accident, Mike was living on his own but will now be living at home.  That alone can bring up challenges in relationships.  When you’ve been independent but now have to rely on others for some of your basic needs, it can be difficult and depressing.  What should be my role as a mom?  My natural tendency in the past few months has been to look after Mike but I have to be careful not to create a dependency.  I have to find that balance of helping to provide a safe comfort zone and yet still continue to prod and push one out of the nest.  Many of these things we have talked about, trying to anticipate those hurdles but we will learn as we go!  One positive thing about this experience is that we, as a family, have always been able to talk openly about our feelings.  (Hmm…I’m even talking about it online!)

Just one more of the challenges to come!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Keeping You Posted

Thank you for your encouraging comments.  I even received some supportive phone calls (though getting ahold of me can be a challenge!).  Matt showed me this morning how many people view the site each week and I was humbled and amazed.  We feel blessed!

Only 8 more days to go!  Today Mike is having another session with the driving instructor and hopes to do his driver’s test at the end of this week.  He had no problems adjusting to the hand controls but part of it is being comfortable with the whole practice of driving after being in the hospital for so long.  It will still take months to get a vehicle but we should be able to start the process soon.  It will certainly bring much more independence to Mike because, at this point, he can only transfer to our car and must depend on us to be driven anywhere.  Once Mike builds up more upper body strength, he may be able to transfer to the van (the height of the seat makes it difficult for Mike to transfer) and that would mean we wouldn’t have to take apart his wheelchair each time.  We haven’t tried public transportation yet but we’ll attempt that adventure once Mike is discharged! Mike will still be getting a power chair and at that point it will be important that he has a vehicle that will accommodate both chairs.

Last week Mike and I watched the wheelchair rugby team practice at the Glenrose.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Murderball, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This is not a sport for the weak of heart!  Only quadriplegics are allowed to play and you are assigned a point depending on your hand function.  Only so many “points” are allowed on the court at one time so it becomes very strategic.  During a break in the game, the players came to meet Mike.  As soon as they found out that he was a quad, they no longer looked at his face but eagerly examined his hands and his hand function.  It was hilarious!  I was ignored and they enthusiastically tried to recruit him, although they did say that he should wait until a year after his injury to make sure that he was “stable” and they did mention that his doctor would probably not be happy about him playing at all.  Small matters when you love to play competitive sports and it was evident that these guys loved what they were doing!  

We went bed shopping on the weekend.  Mike will be getting an adjustable bed.  This will make night-time “caths” so much easier when he can raise the top of his bed. Though the bed was for Mike, Neil and I, as responsible parents, made sure we also tried out each one.  Needless to say, they were starting to look more and more attractive as the afternoon wore on and we may be fighting for the use of the bed once it’s delivered!

Thanks again for following this site.  I’ll keep you posted…

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thank You

I want to say a special thank you to those who comment on the blog because it is certainly an encouragement to me and to our family.  I often wonder what to write on the blog and I also question whether people are really interested in those minor details with Mike’s progress.  There is a part of me that wonders what makes us so special and do  people really care about what we did on the weekend!?

I also want to thank you for your prayers, cards, financial support and especially the outpouring of love which has been so evident.  We feel so blessed.

People have asked me if I tend to leave out the negative or difficult issues that Mike encounters but we truly do face each day with humor and optimism.  Never a day goes by that Mike and I don’t laugh ourselves silly over something ridiculous.  That is not to say that we don’t delve into the difficult issues and talk them through and there is no doubt that we are on a steep learning curve but we have many things in our favor: the strong bond we have as a family, our faith and our desire to see the cup as half full but most certainly, the love and support that we have from you, our friends both new and old.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Weekend

We had a wonderfully relaxing weekend at the apartment.  Mike does more and more things unassisted and is certainly gaining some independence.  A friend of Mike’s lives close by and Mike wheeled over to his condo on Saturday night.  This entry into the “real world” makes it difficult to be patient for discharge!  However, we did discover some basic issues that will constantly creep up for wheelchair users.  

Doors – the doors to the apartment do not open automatically nor do they have a wheelchair button.  They are heavy doors and Mike can not open them unassisted.  Though we checked to make sure the room would work before moving in, we didn’t realize the importance of being able to enter the building easily!

Flooring – though the carpet is not plush, it is still difficult to wheel on.  Thankfully we have little carpet on the main floor and none in the basement at the new house!

Heights – the height of the bed or couch can make it more difficult for transfers.  The height of the table can mean his legs won’t fit under!  These are things we took for granted before the accident.

Some of these things are workable but things like doors become a huge barrier to independence.  We actually looked at a different suite on the weekend and found one that is much more wheelchair friendly and will move into it before Mike’s discharge.  It seems we have much to learn…