Friday, December 31, 2010

December 30, 2010 was "dog day" at TIRR

Volunteers showed up last night with dogs. They came in to visit Jim. The dogs were so well behaved and very cute. I think I enjoyed their visit more than Jim.

The dogs made Jim itchy. He was able to raise his arm to his face and scratch. It was just a delight to see him be able to do such a simple thing. Just last week he would have been unable to do that simple motion.

Liza showed me some exercises to do with Jim to strengthen his wrists. I'll work on that over the weekend. Right now he can only control his wrists when he is wearing splints.


My son Kevin added some ads to my blog. It would be nice to earn a little income from them. I apologize to my friends and family for the distraction that the ads cause.

December 31, 2010

What a year! Lots of ups and downs. Jim was having a wonderful year up until November 24th. He started his own business. He hadn't started earning money yet but he was working hard learning and planning strategies. He was almost ready to conquer the world.

I spent the summer having surgery and recuperating. My torn left achilles tendon was repaired in May. It feels great now. Before the surgery every step I took caused pain. Now I am able to walk down long hospital corridors. In July I had a total knee replacement in my left leg. It is doing well. It could be a whole bunch better if I could continue my physical therapy. I had to give it up to take care of Jim. Now when I am in TIRR's gym watching Jim's therapy I do leg lifts, knee bends and the other exercises that I can remember.

Jim's accident caused the worst tragedy in my life to date. I could have never imagined such a catastrophe. I am so grateful for antidepressants. Without them I would not have made it so far in life. The pain was overwhelming. I have this great imagination. Now I can think of even worse tragedies so it seemed pointless to keep on living. I was sinking into deep depression. Luckily I had the presence of mind to increase the meds. I really hate taking an increased dose because of weight gain. But, if I don't keep up the medicine I will not be able to live and continue to care for Mom and Jim.

I just had the worst birthday that I've ever had. But, I got through it and even accomplished a lot yesterday.

I visited 3 nursing homes yesterday. 2 of them would be okay for Jim. The third one was just horrible. I should go shop around some more next week. I wish there was a nursing home that specialized in rehab. It just sucks that Jim has to leave TIRR so that the insurance company can save money. He is getting so much better there. I worry that he will backslide in a nursing home.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010

The weather gave me a good excuse to not look at nursing homes yesterday. Instead I decided to get to the hospital before the roads flooded.

I got to see the tail end of Jim's occupational therapy (ot). Liza had Jim in the bathroom learning how to groom himself without being able to move his fingers. He was even able to shave himself a little.

Annette had Jim on the standing table during physical therapy (pt). He was able to tolerate being almost completely upright. Annette checked his blood pressure every time she moved the table upward. She got him to hold a racket by wrapping his hand with an ace bandage.

Jim also started a group exercise class yesterday. THE BIG NEWS: Jim was able to kick out his feet. His right leg is much stronger than his left. The group therapist, Jamie put a mirror by Jim. He was able to see that his legs were moving. This gave him feedback that he was engaging the correct muscles and encouraged him to try harder. He kicked out his foot (as seen in the photo) all by himself. The leg movement is controlled by the lumbar region of the spinal cord. This is great news because his injury is way up in the cervical (neck) section of his spinal cord.

We continue to look forward to Jim regaining the use of his wrists and fingers. Jim's injury is at the C5 section of the spinal cord. Finger control is at C6. Finger muscles are slow to return because they are so small.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010

I finally had to take a vicodin to get to sleep last night. My face is all swollen this morning and the tears are still flowing.

Holidays really are SO difficult. I just had no idea how hard they could be. I thought my first holidays alone back when I was going through a divorce sucked. Now, I wonder how much worse life can get. I wish I could turn off my brain for a day and just vegetate. I need a holiday from reality.

Jim needs me. Mom needs me. I have to stay strong.

It's a crappy rainy day today. I still am planning to visit 3 nursing homes. One of them is next to the Wellness Center and is part of Memorial Hermann. That might be a good one - Jim could do pool therapy. Pool therapy really helped me after my knee replacement.

I wasn't going to write about another one of my problems. But it is a big part of my pain right now. I've managed to estrange my older son and his girlfriend. My stupid sense of humor got me in trouble with them. That was back before Jim's accident. I can't go back in time and take back my words. I won't do dumb jokes again. I'm not the same person anymore. I used to see humor in everything - not anymore.

Nina, if you ever check my blog, please know I'm sorry I upset you. I'm glad that you are in Andy's life. I used to find humor in everything. I made a thoughtless joke. It was just that - a joke. Andy and I always joked around with each other.

My mother always told me to think before I spoke. I'm still working on that advice.

No worries - life doesn't seem very funny to me anymore.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28, 2010

I'm too stressed out to sleep. I shouldn't have gone to the same restaurant for my birthday this year. It was just too difficult. My sons came and so did Jimmy and Lupita. But still it was just too hard. I can't stop crying tonight.

Tomorrow I'm going to visit "skilled nursing facilities" so I can begin to make a decision of where Jim should go next. It's just too much to bear. I can't believe I'm shopping for nursing homes for my husband and not my 89 year old mother. Life is too hard.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Today Jim got to do new exercises. His hands were tied to the hand bike and he could make it go round & round. He still can't grip anything but his arms are getting stronger. Then he did a rowing exercise. His therapist signed him up for an exercise group. He'll be doing these kinds of exercises but without individual attention.

There will be family rounds tomorrow instead of Wednesday. So, I have to get to the hospital early tomorrow. Liza, his OT therapist wants me to participate tomorrow also. She has him at 10 AM.

He was able to feed himself quite a bit today with the fork in his wrist support.

He can move his right knee now. His left knee muscle is activated. That means he can't move it yet but the muscle is responding. You could see it twitch a little.

He is worried about getting bowel & bladder control back. The doctor said he is still in the early stages of recovery so there is still hope.

We spoke with the hospital shrink about our options for the next step. Jim will probably go to a skilled nursing facility. There he will be able to get more pt and ot. It won't be as intense as TIRR. Unfortunately, the insurance company won't support his staying at TIRR much longer.

His care and therapy won't be as good. But I'd just hate to see an insurance executive have to take a cut in his multi-million dollar paycheck.

December 27, 2010

Magda is coming at 11 and I will leave for hospital. Jim was pretty good yesterday. His muscles were really stiff so I did leg and arm lifts for him to stretch him out. Today he will be having pt again. It's amazing how fast muscles stiffen up.

I just made reservations for my birthday dinner tomorrow night at Rivas. Guess it will be a "blue" birthday, too. We went there last year. The restaurant is crazily decorated for the holidays and the food is good, too. My children will be with me and that will be wonderful!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010-12-25 Hospital Christmas

Kevin and Tomoko went with me to visit Jim on Christmas. The hospital gave us a nice Christmas dinner together in the cafeteria. Then we went back to Jim's room and opened gifts. We had to do it quickly. Tomoko had a terrible toothache so the dentist was going to meet us at his office.

Jim and I got coordinating bathrobes from Tomoko and Kevin - something fancy from Burberry. Andy and Nina gave Jim a beautiful cashmere cardigan sweater.

Just as we were leaving Jimmy and Lupita showed up to visit Jim. I was glad I didn't have to leave him all alone.

December 25, 2010

Andy and Nina brought over a delicious brunch to start our Christmas day. They made tofu "eggs with sausage," potatoes, fruit, waffles, avocados, orange juice. Woodie brought his girlfriend, Zaida.
Then we started opening presents, starting with stockings. Andy and Nina gave Grandma a custom portrait of Grandpa. It made Grandma very happy. Then she got lots of candy and start eating it up. I had to hide a bunch so she wouldn't make herself sick. Kevin & Tomoko gave her chocolate from Japan.
I knitted a blanket for Tomoko & Kevin. I made pj bottoms for all 4 kids. I had to just purchase tops since I couldn't sew after Jim's accident.
Andy & Nina gave me a warm hat with earflaps and hot pink gloves.
There were just too many gifts to list them all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010-12-24 Blue Christmas

It's going to be a "blue" christmas without Jim tomorrow. I'm thrilled that Kevin and Tomoko are here. Andy will be here, too and will make us a great brunch. I was so looking forward to Christmas this year. We will still have a jolly ole time but for me, it will be bittersweet.

Every Christmas Eve I take a picture of my tree with all the presents. There are a lot fewer this year than usual - mostly because I don't have a big bunch of gifts from Jim. I couldn't shop anymore after November 24 either so I didn't buy everyone all the gifts that I wanted to give them or finish making several of the gifts.

I couldn't get the decorations out of the attic so I made do with what I had available. I usually put up lots of little trees. This year Lupita helped me put up just my little pink trees. Then I brought in my pink poodle collection. I also used some sparkly pink balls that I kept in a glass bowl in the china cabinet. It looks pretty darned cute, if I do say so myself.

So, maybe I should say we're having a "pink" Christmas. Just looking at my pink trees lifts my spirits. "Doesn't everyone like pink?!"

2020-12-24 PM

I spent the morning with Kevin. Tomoko was sleeping. Kevin climbed into the attic and brought down a bunch of boxes. Jim loved storing things up there. He said he would bring things down as I needed them. That's not going to happen anymore. I'm putting everything in the garage until I can sort through it. I need to get rid of stuff and start downsizing.

Jim missed his PT this morning. They changed his schedule and didn't tell the nurses. So, no one got him dressed and in the chair.

He was in pretty good spirits today. He didn't need any pain meds last night so he was clear headed. He went to the cafeteria with me and helped me eat a hamburger. He was able to bring fritos to his mouth after I placed them in between his fingers. It is amazing how much you need to use your hands. His right thumb is moving pretty good and his left thumb is starting to respond a little. I hope his other fingers will follow their lead. He can't do anything with his wrists but the muscles are starting to wake up.

Yesterday a volunteer came to the hospital and gave him a haircut. He looks much better. You can see how long his hair had gotten in the picture of him on his stomach. The therapist put him on his tummy to help strengthen his back and neck muscles.

I had to get home by 6 PM tonight so Mom's sitter, Magda could get back to her family. I actually got a little housework done.

I'll get back to the hospital in the afternoon tomorrow.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010 PM

Jim was wide awake when I got to his room at about 12:45 PM this afternoon. He finally is getting over the sleepy side effects of the pain meds. He went to PT at 1. Today they rolled him on to his stomach to stretch his shoulders. He also did some back exercises.

I told Annette that he could do a little with his legs. She said he had a "1" on his right quads but "0" on his left. Maybe the nerve connection to his left leg will come back but maybe never will. He needs to work on his legs while he is in bed. He worked with his right thumb and it is now moving.

He made it all the way through functional group playing farkle, a dice game.

He got a new power wheelchair today that is easier for him to operate.

Kevin and Tomoko came to the hospital to see him. Then I brought them home with me. They have BIG news - Tomoko is pregnant! The baby is due in August, 2011.

December 23, 2010 - Kevin & Tomoko are safely in Houston!

Kevin's plane was 4 hours late last night. It didn't land until 12:30 AM. They have to be so tired today.

Kevin said he would find me today - wherever I am. I'm so looking forward to seeing him.

I will probably be able to leave the office early today. But, then I go to the hospital and do more work. My only time off is when I finally fall asleep at night.

I at least I have some "normal" things to hold on to - like sleeping in my own bed. Poor Jim has not had a normal moment in almost a month now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22, 2010

Nothing good to report. I'm totally exhausted. I got to the hospital by 9 AM and got home around 8 PM. Jim did make it through his therapy sessions without incident today.

He has moved to the side of the room by the window - there's more space there. I could actually use the chair that folds out into a bed.

I started the application process for social security disability insurance. I did it online but still have to wait for a call back.

I just read an information booklet on spinal cord injury. It has Christopher Reeves on the cover. According to this booklet, the spinal cord continues to get injured for days to weeks after the original injury. The initial trauma sets off a secondary wave of damage to the nerve cells and causes inflammation.

So, Jim may still be getting worse even now a month later. It is very disheartening. I thought the injury would be getting better as the swelling of the cord went down.

My eyes are tearing up and I'm just too tired to write any more tonight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 20, 2010 PM

I got home around 8:30 tonight. Jim just didn't want me to leave him and I hated to go. Today is the anniversary of the day we met and our first date. It's been 13 years today. Unlucky 13, I guess.

Jim is starting to get pretty depressed. Who could blame him? One day he's walking around and the next he is a quadriplegic. He was always so concerned with being safe. We had handrails put in our shower. He was a careful driver, never participated in any risky sports. He just walked into the bathroom and then had to be carried out.

Tomorrow I'm going to spend the day with him. He has OT at 9 AM. Then there are family rounds at 10:30. All his doctors, therapists, etc. go into a conference room and give us a 15 minute review of Jim's progress. At 1 PM he has PT then functional group.

He'll probably fall asleep after all this. I'm going to bring my laptop with me and work on his social security disability claim while he naps. It has so many questions.

One good thing today - my son, Andy called me. He feels stressed out because of this catastrophe, too. And tomorrow my son, Kevin and his wife will be flying in from Tokyo. We will still celebrate Christmas morning together.

Rice University Holiday E-Card

Just got this card in my Rice email and it cheered me up a little.
Rice University Holiday E-Card
I'll be on my way to the hospital in an hour. I was feeling pretty upbeat today and then I got a wave of the blues. Oh well, I certainly have every right to feel blue.

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20, 2010

I'm using the fifth floor's computer again while the aide cleans up Jim. I got to the hospital today in time for his PT. He was working on his shoulder muscles. He did well but he got tired, of course. His PT is scheduled from 1 - 2 and then he has functional group at 2. He's just too tired after PT to participate very long.

I spoke to Worth, our social worker, about getting Jim onto social security. He says there should be no problem since Jim has a covered injury.

Then I got a turkey burger from the cafeteria. When I came back, Jim was sound asleep. I woke him so I could feed him his dinner. The swallow specialist said that Jim could get off a "chopped" diet anytime. But, she didn't give me her card and I don't know who to call. This afternoon's nurse, Yvette, doesn't know who to call either. I'll try again tomorrow. Tonight he was served dry chopped chicken breast that was too dry to eat. I tried to get him a burger from dietary. They would only give him the patty chopped.

After he ate, I did some of his arm and leg exercises with him. The exercise is me lifting his arms and legs, bending them and keeping them flexible. It's amazing how heavy his skinny legs are!

Then I brushed and flossed his teeth, put on skin cream, chapstick. I have to leave soon because I have to work a full day tomorrow.

He is scheduled to have his stitches removed tonight and to get another shower.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19, 2010 PM

Jim was extremely sleepy this morning. They had to shake him and blast the TV to wake him up. The nurse removed one of his pain med patches and that helped.

We went to the TIRR's Peers' meeting at 2:30 in the cafeteria. There was only one former patient (peer) at the meeting. We did find out some info on Social Security disability for Jim.

I still have high hopes that Jim will at least be able to use his arms in the future. Then he could lift himself up, do personal hygiene, feed himself and use a computer. Today he was able to move his right thumb.

I guess I'm not going to wake up from this nightmare. This is our new life.

12-18-2010 PM

Jim got his second shower in 3 weeks yesterday. His tech even shaved him. He looks a lot better. I hope it makes him feel better.

I got home about 7:30. Lupita had all the ingredients to make cookies ready to go. So, we made the batter for "easy christmas cookies." Lupita loves these cookies so much that I've renamed them "lupita cookies." They are made with candied cherries and walnuts. We made 6 logs out of the batter and put them into the freezer. Tomorrow I'll show her how I slice the logs with an electric knife and bake them.

It was fun to do something "normal" last night even though I was worn out from a day in the hospital.

Jim learning to feed himself again

Last year my friend, Mary gave me a "car bib" that she made. In the photo Jim is wearing it while he learns to feed himself again. A fork fits into his wrist support and he stabs the food and puts it in his mouth. He ate 5 pieces of okra before he got worn out.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18, 2010

Happy Birthday to Little Buster and Twinkle kittens! They are 2 years old today. Last year Jim played "happy birthday" to them on his piano.

I'm using the computer on the fifth floor of TIRR. The tech is busy cleaning Jim up. Whatever the doc gave him yesterday has really been working today.

I went with him to functional group. The patients were playing "apples to apples jr." Jim got all worn out trying to push the cards around. He is very weak. If his nausea gets better, maybe he will be able to do his exercises and get stronger.

The tech tilted his chair back and he was able to make it through the rest of the group session.
Then we went to the cafeteria and I got a turkey burger. Jim tasted it and wanted it so I bought him one, too. We came back to his room for him to eat. He was put back into bed. I'll try to feed it to him when I go back into his room. I bet he'll be sound asleep already. If so, he can have it for dinner.

I guess I should go do my shopping while he's asleep. I'd rather take a nap, too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17, 2010 PM

I went back to the hospital at 4:30. Jim was in bed sound asleep. He got nauseated again and the doc gave him a shot. That medicine just knocks him right out. The doctor says that the nausea could have been the result of an increase in metformin. Plus, his colon probably already had nerve damage from diabetes and now the paralysis is compromising it more.

Since he was sound asleep and his nurse, Barbara was with him, I went home. I'll go back in the morning.

The doctor (Wenzel) thinks that she can get it under control. I'm worried but there is nothing that I can do for him tonight.

December 17, 2010

I wish I could type in some good news for a change. I got to the hospital around 9:30 AM today and found Jim doing OT in the gym. He said hello and then got sick. He was very nauseated again. His blood pressure was okay but his pulse was 48.

He seems very weak and is still losing weight. He says that it feels like a lot of work for him to speak. His lungs are okay, though. The doctor came in and will try adjusting his meds again.

We came back to his room and I had the tech put him back in bed. He fell right to sleep. He has PT at 1 PM today. I hope he will be well enough to go.

I am back at my office putting in a few hours to make up some of the time I missed.

I picked up his repaired glasses this morning so at least he can see now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December 16, 2010

I worked a full day today. It felt good to do something "normal."

I got to the hospital around 5. Jim was finishing up his will and other papers with our lawyer, Pat Bunch. Pat brought a notary and witnesses with her so Jim could complete the papers. He needed witnesses since he can't sign his own name yet.

Jim is learning to feed himself. He wears a wrist support with a slot in it to hold a fork. I supported his elbow while he fed himself 5 pieces of okra. I fed him the rest of his dinner. He got into bed and I brushed his teeth, washed his hands and face, put chapstick on him and moisturized his face. I also gave him his meds and a big glass of some horrible laxative.

He could barely stay awake so I left at 7 PM. The nurse was coming back later to give him a bath. I think he'll be up later in the night when the medicine starts working in his stomach.

Tomorrow at 8 AM I'm getting my hair cut. I look so shaggy. Then I will pick up Jim's glasses that were repaired. Then on to the hospital. I have to go to the office around 1 and work a few hours. I still have about 5 benefit hours left but I feel like I should pay back some of the time that I missed.

Then back to the hospital again. Maybe I'll sleep in a little later on Saturday morning.

Map to TIRR

Keep the good vibes coming.....

I'm feeling blue again today so I went to Lucy March' blog again this morning and it has made me feel a bit better.

Just click on the title of this post and you will be redirected to her blog and the post about me and Jim.

I'm not sure why reading it makes me feels better. I'm just thankful that it does.

Thanks Lucy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 15, 2010 10 PM

Jim's night nurse, Barbara called me. She said that Jim had his tummy x-rayed and that his colon is very full. She said that causes nausea and vomiting. So, tonight he's getting another round of enemas. I hope he will feel better tomorrow.

I'm working all day tomorrow and then heading to the hospital. I have to go over my timesheets and see if I've used up all my benefit time. If so I'll have to work on Friday, too.

December 15, 2010 PM

We experienced our first family rounds today. The therapists and doctors, case and social workers spent 15 minutes talking to Jim and me about his progress. His pain is much better. His planned discharge date is 1/20/2011. Somehow by then I will have to get a vehicle with a wheelchair ramp, get a special wheelchair and put a special bed in the house. Plus, get caregivers for him and Mom. It is so overwhelming. The doctors tell me to take one day at a time. Unfortunately there aren't that many days left to make all these preparations.

Jim had a really crappy day today. He had diarrhea, got dizzy and vomited. He was just miserable.

He is using a motorized wheelchair now and learning to drive. It's just so incredibly difficult to see him so helpless.

I got my first lesson on how to catherize him today. My poor Jim.

December 15, 2010

I worked until after 4 yesterday afternoon trying to finish a report for a professor. I was just too tired and stressed to figure it out.

Jim was awake when I got to his room. I fed him dinner, brushed his teeth, washed his face, hands and feet, clipped his fingernails & toenails, put moisturizer on his face. Then I was just too tired to do one more thing. I left at 7, came home and was in bed before 8 PM. I slept 11 hours.

My cleaning lady is supposed to come this morning. I have stuff all over the tables, floor, etc. I have to go put things away so she can do a good cleaning.

The doctors' rounds are at 11 AM today. I plan to get to the hospital by 10:30.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14, 2010

I'm sitting at my desk all weepy again. My eyeballs are so sore from all the crying. I know eventually I'll come to terms with my new life. It will always be sad but the pain will not be so fresh.

I haven't called the hospital yet today so I will have to update about Jim's status later. I will probably get to the hospital between 4 & 5 this afternoon.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13, 2010 PM

I got to the hospital at 1:30 today. Jim was in PT. He had a substitute therapist. Jim was just letting her move his legs around. She didn't know that Jim could wiggle his toes or lift his arms. He needs to communicate with the therapists and make the best use of the time that Aetna will allow him to stay at TIRR. I can't be there with him all the time.

After PT I took Jim for his first trip to the hospital gift shop. We returned to his room and he got back in bed and fell asleep.

I can't leave until the afternoon tomorrow so I'm going to try to work till 5. It was difficult to keep my mind on my work today. It was like when I came home in the beginning days. I would feel frozen and just stare. I couldn't think about anything but Jim.

Hopefully, I will get over this feeling at the office soon. I have lots of work to catch up on. Life has to go on even if it is a sad, lonely life right now.

Jim slept okay last night. He was in much better spirits today.

December 13, 2010

I'm in my office at Rice University now. I thought I was over the tears. But, every time I touch something on my desk, I think "last time I touched that I was still living my old life, Jim was my big strong, supportive husband." I haven't even spoken to anyone here yet today. It will be difficult to reconnect.

I tried calling the hospital desk but no one answered. I hope Jim was able to sleep last night. I wish I could call him and ask him. But, he can't pick up a phone yet.

I need to catch up in the office. It's hard to stop thinking about Jim. I need to keep my job and keep our health insurance.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thank you for sending your positive energy!

Today I received an email from a follower of another blog, She wrote me that Lucy March wrote about me and Jim. Her followers are praying and sending us positive energy.

Tonight as I was saying good night to Jim he wiggled his thumb! Thank you all for caring about us.

Jim's incision

Here is a photo of the incision on Jim's back. He should be getting the stitches out this week.

December 12, 2010

Jim wasn't dressed when I got to the hospital this morning at 11 AM. He was in terrible pain and nauseated. The nurse took a long time in getting his pain med to him. She gave him norco and that made him vomit. He was just miserable.

I got the nurse to give him dilaudid and an anti-nausea med. His pulse only gets to around 45 when he's on dilaudid. By 2 PM he was ready to get up. We went to the hospital Christmas party. We got our picture taken with Santa and listened to the Salvation Army choir. They had hors d'ouevres and desserts. We met Jeff who worked in food service. He got Jim some sugar free pudding and jello. Jim got a stuffed cat with reindeer antlers, 2 little Christmas trees and a poinsettia plant. He said he was happy that he went to the party. I hope he meant it. He has to participate in activities at the hospital. It's part of his therapy.

I went to a newcomers' meeting where I learned that 80% of TIRR's patients have brain injuries. There is only one floor for spinal cord injuries. I'm so glad that Jim does not have brain damage. It would be terrible not to be able to talk with him.

Laura & Kevin came to visit tonight. They brought us eggrolls! They were so nice to come to see Jim. We really enjoy visitors.

It is extremely difficult to be with all the patients and families who are suffering so much pain. Theoretically we all know that something could happen to us and forever change our lives. It is very stressful to come face to face with that reality everyday. Many of the patients at TIRR can't even move their fingers. It is scary to know how easy it would be to lose even simple bodily functions.

I'm returning to work tomorrow morning. Normally I don't work on Mondays but I want to be able to stay with Jim on Wednesday. The doctors make family rounds on Wednesdays.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11, 2010

I left the house at 9:15 today and went to Target. I shopped as fast as I could so I could get to the hospital. I bought Jim some more XL t-shirts & pants. Plus, I needed some wrapping supplies. I bought another cd/cassette player for Jim. I still can't get it to play cassette tapes. I'll try to get it to work tomorrow again.

Jim was sleeping in his chair when I got to the hospital. He didn't sleep well again last night. We went to the cookie & craft class at TIRR. Pretty much of a dud. We went back to his room and he was too tired to eat his lunch.

At 1 PM Jim had a functional class. It was a group game playing session. We played "apples to apples jr." Jim tried to pick up the cards. He was able to push them around a bit. He's not as bad as some of the other patients. It's sad.

I brought Jim back to his room and we got him into his bed. He fell right to sleep. I even napped a little bit. Then Jimmy & Lupita came to visit. Lupita fed Jim his dinner. We had a nice visit.

After they left I cleaned up his room. Kevin called and talked to Jim. That was sweet.

I left the hospital around 7:30. I'm exhausted. Tomorrow I need to get some stuff done at home before I go back to the hospital.

Best visiting days

My friend, Alice is familiar with physical rehab hospitals. She advised me that the best days to visit are on the weekends because there isn't much going on. There is no phys therapy or occupational therapy on the weekends.

Today there are a couple little craft hours that I am taking Jim to. Tomorrow there is a patient Christmas party from 2 to 4.

I'll do some exercises with him over the weekend. We need to keep taking those baby steps forward.

12-10-10 Jim in the gym

This is Jim's second day at the gym in TIRR. His physical therapist, Annette is helping him to sit up. Sitting up uses lots of muscles for balance.

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10, 2010

The big news of the day: Jim wiggled his toes!! This is a major milestone. I also saw the muscle by his thumb twitching when he tried to move it. The physical therapists say this is getting the muscles to fire.

He won't be getting phys & occupational therapy over the weekend. That sucks. There are some activities tomorrow that I'll take him to - some games and crafts. Sunday there's a party.

Jim got his first shower tonight. 2 techs put him on a plastic sheet lined table and wheeled him into the shower. I stayed with him to protect him. So, Jim got washed by 3 women. He said it was not a dream come true at all!

I have to wash his clothes now. He doesn't have many since he's supposed to have larger than normal sizes. One of these days I'll need to go buy him some more.

I think that since I do his laundry, feed him, help exercise him I should at least get free parking. It's $12/day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9, 2010 PM

Jim had another bad night. The pcas (personal care assistants) wouldn't help get him comfortable after he woke up with leg spasms. Then they decided that he had chest pains so they did blood gas tests on him in the morning. The tests were negative so he's okay. His leg ultrasounds were also good - no deep vein thrombosis.

The nurse and a pca got Jim into a big sling today and weighed him. He's lost at least 25 pounds in just these last 2 weeks.

His hips and kidneys were x-rayed today. We haven't heard the results yet. They took him to x-ray when he was supposed to have occupational therapy. I did some exercises with his arms.

The physical therapist came later. She can't weigh more than 120 lbs. but she was able to get Jim to sit on the edge of the bed. A pca had to hold up his back. Then she fitted him with a wheelchair that can be tilted back. He has to be tilted back every hour for at least a minute to prevent pressure sores.

He had more feeling in his feet today. He also was able to move his thumb slightly. We are told that these are big milestones for a spinal cord injury.

December 9, 2010 AM

In a few minutes I need to start my day and get ready to go back to the hospital. I slept pretty well last night. I hope Jim had a good night also.

TIRR keeps the patients busy with rehab and group meetings. Since Jim will be occupied I think I can return to work next week. TIRR is near where I work but is farther from home. I will plan my trips there to avoid rush hour. TIRR is in the medical center which is a huge mass of hospitals and medical offices.

The best way for me to get there is to take Braeswood all the way to Moursund. The parking lot is on Moursund. If you want to visit Jim. stop at the front desk and they will direct you to the correct elevator to get to his floor.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8, 2010 PM

Jim had a bad night - lots of pain, especially in his left leg. He never thought to ask for pain meds. Today I got him a dose around 4:30 PM. Hopefully, that will see him through the night. I told him he could ask for more at 8:30 PM. I sure hope that he can sleep tonight.

He had lots of evaluations today - from physical therapists, occupational therapists and a speech tester. The hospital wouldn't let him have any liquids until the speech lady evaluated him. They wanted to be sure that he could swallow. He had lots of liquids at the southwest hospital. But, even though both hospitals are part of Memorial Hermann, they wouldn't accept the first hospital's test results. I gave him some water. Otherwise he would have had to wait until 2:30. Then the speech tester came and said that he could have anything that he wanted.

He had a chest xray, legs & hips xray and ultrasound for thrombosis. He has a bladder infection that's getting treated with antibiotics. His creatin levels (kidneys) are too high also.

Last night they gave him a fleet enema. Tonight they gave him milk of magnesia and will do another enema later. Guess they want to really clean him out.

He will start his exercise program tomorrow. I have to go to classes, too so I can learn to care for him.

December 8, 2010

Jim was moved to TIRR last evening. The ambulance picked up from Memorial Hermann Southwest at around 5:30 PM. He is in room 502A. I don't know the visiting hours or much of anything about the hospital.

There were lots of questions last night during the admissions process. It's a good thing I've been taking notes. His new doctor specializes in spinal cord injuries. Her name is Dr Wenzel.

I am finding this new move very emotional. If people weren't counting on me to keep them updated, I would find writing about this too, too hard.

Last night as I was driving into the medical center I kept thinking about how Jim would have insisted on driving me right to the door. He'd say it would be too hard for me. I felt so terribly alone. I guess that's the worst thing right now. We were always together. He's my best friend ever. I try to get the tears out before I visit him. He couldn't even wipe away his own tears if he were to start crying.

I will have to come up with a plan for myself. I'm getting exhausted. Once we get used to the new hospital I hope I will feel more comfortable with leaving him on his own for longer bits of time. I need to go back to work and keep our health insurance.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

12/07/10 PM update

This morning Jim was in too much pain to be moved. The ambulance is coming to pick him up to transfer him at 5 PM today. That gives me 30 minutes to feed him and pack stuff up.

At least he won't have to exercise tonight since he'll be arriving so late.

I hope to have good news about the facility tomorrow.

moving day - December 7, 2010

I won't be carrying my computer into the hospital this morning. Jim is supposed to move to TIRR hospital sometime today.

I'll try to make any update later today on my kindle.

I hope Jim was able to sleep well last night without his IV pain meds.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More explanation

I got to speak to Dr Mimms, the neurosurgeon this evening. He said that Jim had a bone spur in his neck that had narrowed the space for his spinal cord. This helped to make his injury more severe.

It is just such an freak occurrence. I've fallen and broken bones. Jim falls one time and becomes paralyzed.

We have a lot of hope that he will recover much of his functionality after several months of intense physical rehabilitation at TIRR.

12-06-10 evening news

Jim needs to stop taking IV pain meds and TIRR will accept him. He will probably be moved tomorrow morning some time. TIRR's phone #" 713-799-5000; website: TIRR is part of Memorial Hermann, too.

He worked very hard doing OT this morning. Then they started giving him less strong pain meds. So, it was a difficult afternoon for him.

He has started on 10 mg vicodin now. He ate his dinner and looks like he is sleeping comfortably.

I have to go home and pack up some clothes for him for the new hospital. He has to be dressed and participate in 3 hours of therapy a day at TIRR. I'm excited that he will be getting the rehab that he needs in the new hospital.

Now I'm waiting to meet his night nurse so I can go home and do a little housework.

December 6, 2010 update

I got to the hospital early today. I don't want to miss talking to the neurosurgeon. Also, the old volunteers will be returning today and they take up all the handicapped parking. I can walk pretty well now but I don't like trudging through the parking lot at night.

Jim got put into the neurochair this morning. The PT guy, Jose, moved his legs around for him. Then Sorwin and Alysson came to do OT. Jim worked very hard. Then it just got too much for him. He's back in bed, on pain med and sound asleep.

I'd go home and come back later tonight, if I didn't want to see the doctor.

He had a crummy night nurse - Nena last night. She put the wrong bedding back on his bed. He's on a special air mattress to keep his skin in good condition. I've requested that Jim have a good nurse tonight.

Today Asha is his RN She's very nice.

I've also requested to see his case worker today. I still hope that Jim can go straight to TIRR to get the best rehab treatment.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5, 2010

Not much to report today. It's Sunday and you're not supposed to be sick. No occupational or physical therapists showed up today. Tosha was Jim's day nurse and she's very good. She was stretched very thin today though. There's a lady screaming next door to Jim's room, another one has got the TV at full volume.

Only one elevator is functioning today, too.

No big changes, good or bad today.

A friend of mine, Nancy Abrams, came to visit me today. That was nice. I feel like I'm just as much a patient in the hospital as Jim is.

Maybe tomorrow we'll find out when Jim will be moved to Kindred Hospital. I need to work at least one day next week and that depends on what's happening with Jim.

I'm just tired. Jim is sleeping again. He sleeps most of the day and night.

Hopefully he'll get some good therapy tomorrow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December 4, 2010 evening

I left Jim in good hands tonight. His night nurse is Arnold. He took good care of Jim on the first night on the neurology floor.

I feel bad leaving Jim alone at night. But, I have to get home and take care of things at home. Tonight I'm answering his emails and going over bills. I'm using his computer right now - a pc, yucky.

I have to spend lots of $ to have a caregiver with Mom for 12 hours a day. She is really nervous right now and can't be alone.

I only have about an hour a day to do stuff at home. When I leave the hospital, I'm just drained of energy. Perhaps when I'm not so upset I'll get more accomplished.

I drove by pretty Christmas lights on my way home and realized Jim will still be in a hospital at Christmas. Fortunately I am looking forward to my son, Kevin and his wife, Tomoko coming to visit soon. I wish I could show Tomoko how we really celebrate Christmas. I love to decorate and bake lots of cookies. At least I have most of the presents made or purchased. Hopefully, we will be able to celebrate a fun Christmas in the future.

December 4, 2010 more baby steps

The picture shows Jim with his 2 occupational therapists yesterday. The therapy is working because this morning Jim is able to feel me touch his hand and fingers. He can't differentiate which finger that I'm touching yet. At least I can hold his hand and he is aware of it.

The nurse, Tosha, just cleaned his mouth. They have a gizmo that suctions and brushes his teeth and tongue.

The PT doctor (John Anigbogu) ordered Lyrica for him this morning. It is supposed to help with nerve pains. His nerves are sometimes randomly firing and he gets pains in different parts of his body.

It's 11:30 AM and I'm letting him nap until the physical therapists arrive to mess with him. Before I tried to keep him awake by talking and turning on the TV. The doctor thinks he should be more alert. Jim requires less pain med now, too.

Today is one of my ASG parties. It's the city-wide party. I miss seeing all my friends. Next Saturday is our neighborhood group party. Hopefully, life will deal us a better hand in 2011 and I can participate again.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Further Update

Since I can only reach facebook (while in the hospital) through my blog, I will provide more info on my blog.

The nurses were worried about Jim staying in the fancy bed. They couldn't see his back to check the skin or check the incision on the back of his neck. Now he is on an air bed and can be sat up more. The nurses are moving him manually.

The neurosurgeon removed his neck brace. Jim wanted it back on because it felt better to him.

I missed the neurosurgeon by minutes today. My understanding is that he will follow Jim's care when he is moved to Kindred Hospital He has to get stronger in Kindred where he will get some rehab. Then he will move to TIRR, the rehab hospital where he will get more intensive rehab.

He was able to move his wrists and arms today. The therapist said that the strength usually returns from the shoulders to the fingers. He can't really move his fingers at all. He moved his feet by using his leg muscles, not really his toes.

12/03/10 update

Jim has been moved down the hall to a room closer to the nurse's station. It's 727. His room phone is 713-778-7727. I'm feeling a bit better right now so maybe I can talk on the phone a little while. But, I really do prefer email.

Jim is out of his fancy bed. Now he's in a fancy neuro chair. Then he will be in an air mattress bed. This way he can at least sit up higher to eat.

He did his first occupational therapy today. The therapist's name is Sorwin. Jim worked hard to try and raise his arms and move his wrists. He is so exhausted right now.

I took a photo and if it doesn't look too bad I'll post it here.

December 3, 2010

The hospital wants to move Jim. Or, I guess I should say that the insurance company wants to move him.

He is going to be evaluated by TIRR and Kindred Hospital. They do long term care and rehabilitation. But, TIRR requires that Jim be able to do more for himself. If he doesn't get into these places, the next step would be a nursing home.

He is getting wonderful care now at Memorial SW. I am so distraught thinking of Jim in a nursing home. My big strong husband in a nursing home - it is unbelievable. The tears are starting up again.

I'll post again after I get to the hospital this morning.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 2, 2010

The physical therapy staff picked up Jim's back today and held him in a sitting position for a couple of minutes.

baby steps............

He moved his left foot ever so slightly today, too.

His appetite is improving. He is on a pureed diet. He had pureed fish for lunch. It looked really gross but it didn't taste that bad. He ate the whole thing, plus mashed potatoes, tomato soup and applesauce. I ordered double portions for his dinner tonight.

I'm still in a state of shock. I think it's easier being the sick person, not the caregiver. Live & learn.

Taking a short break today

I'm staying at home this morning. Got to clean out the refrigerator, pay bills, general clean up.

I spoke to Jim's nurse a few minutes ago. He is still in good spirits but no change in his condition.

Please contact me via email. I start crying when I'm on the phone and crying makes me feel really crappy.

Jim's daughter came to see him. He was so happy to see her. She had to take time off and travel to visit him. We really appreciated it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jim is in his fancy bed.

We are lucky that one of the ICU nurses, Erica, thought about ordering a special bed for Jim. It rotates every 15 minutes to help keep away bed sores.

They have other paralyzed patients here but they don't have the special bed.

Today's Update (12/01/2010)

Jim has been moved out of ICU and to the neurology floor - room 723. His room phone is 713-778-7723.

The doctor said that yesterday's MRI showed that his spinal cord is now decompressed so he won't need any more surgery. He still says Jim may or may not get some return of his body functions.

Jim is keeping a positive attitude. He is now in a specialized bed for paralysis patients. He can still only move his shoulders and turn his arms a little. He cannot feel his fingers but he can feel his legs.