September 17, 2012

Good Things

Well, what can I write today about our Erik?  There is much for me to be thankful for.

-- Erik has been moved to a private room.  The staff in the new hallway has taken to Erik well, I think they liked him right away.

-- he's still receiving the strong antibiotics via his PICC line twice a day and the meds seem to be getting the job done.  Only has TWO more doses to go.  
here's Erik last week, receiving his meds, in his new VIP private room. :)
-- Over the past weekend, Erik's PICC line entry site somehow became agitated and it got all bloody.   He got new bandages and dressings and endured it like a champ.


--  Erik was shaved today and I didn't have to do it.  Someone did it while I was home for lunch and he looks great.  Whew.

--  We haven't noticed any new seizures. 

--  Before church yesterday I was blessed enormously by a woman who's a patient in the rehab.  I first saw her last week when Erik was residing in the other hallway.  She was sitting in a wheelchair, just being still.  Her face was bruised everywhere and there was a large swollen goose-egg on her forehead where she had fallen, truly heart-wrenching.   Yesterday as I was wheeling Erik around the building I heard a woman quoting Bible verses out loud, purely for her own benefit -  promises from God.  It was her, the same lady, her bruises still there but much less visible.  I was amazed, kept walking but then doubled back and went over to her, leaned down asked her to tell me her verses.  She proceeded to quote verse after verse: of God's faithfulness to answer when we ask Him, of believing and of His goodness.  I'll never forget that. 

-- Another wonderful thing happened this morning.  I got there later than I wished due to some workers in our home. On arriving I noticed Erik wasn't in his room, so I looked in the therapy gym and he was there.  He was at a bike machine, but his therapist immediately, excitedly pointed to another therapist nearby and declared that I HAD to go see her video of Erik.  I was eager because clearly something good had happened.  I went over and she showed me a short video of Erik WALKING around the halls!!!  Not just a few steps but a long walk. He was going going going! Wow! They video'd it for me since I missed it.  Oh~yes!  With his helpers at each side, Erik walked around 2 and half hallways, got tired, sat down and made those therapist's day.  And ours.  Erik hasn't really walked upright since before Labor Day.   Let's hope for more mornings like this for him.
here he is (sorry, I know it's blurry):
video


-- Erik's future has been so uncertain to us in these past few weeks, much mental anguish going on in our minds.  But after his therapy this morning we were in his room while he was getting his IV meds and the nurse from his assisted living facility walked in.  Wonderful to see her!  She told me how much everyone missed him and that they all want him back.   She helped me to not be so worried about where he'll be when he leaves the rehab, shared with me with options that are available right in current assisted living facility and I felt better.   She also told me about a woman who lives there who lives down the hall from Erik. A woman I really don't know at all, she doesn't leave her room much.  But she has really taken a liking to Erik, it seems.  She would DOTE on him, I was told today.  She'd help him at mealtimes, making sure he had all he needed.  Ah, so sweet, and I never knew.  Well, since Erik's not been there for over 2 weeks this woman is missing him so much she's sitting IN his chair at meals with 3 old men -- who are not the cleanest of eaters.  Well, we need to get Erik back there so his adopted mom can give him ALL her love.

still to work on:  Erik's not having the best appetite.  We think he's losing some weight.  Some meals he's interested in food and others he just wants to sleep through, even when bribed with chocolate ice cream.  

All for now.  Thank you again for your care for Erik. We know many of you are praying and we value that so greatly.


September 12, 2012

Rehab

I last left you when Erik was getting adjusted to life in the Rehab nursing facility.  He's been there 5 days and it's a busy, focused place.   Some impressions:

Wheelchairs.  I wish they could recline like Lazy Boy chairs.  Erik would like to nap.

Therapists.   They are sweet people.  Sweet Sweet Sweet.  They want you to improve and patiently nurture you to try.  They are becoming dear friends.

Nurses.  They have been our comforters and friends too.

Doctors.  They appear and help and get things done.

Favorite hats:  Erik was a little out of sorts until I brought his Dallas Cowboy hat to him.  He holds it and looks at it most of the day and it makes him happier.

Rehab Residents:  Those who need healing are all around us.   Whether their wounds are visible or not. 

Location:  Having Erik 5 minutes away from our house is a God-send.

My Heavenly Father:  The One on Whom I lean all day long.  We need Him.

When Erik first entered the rehab I wasn't sure I liked it at all.  It was so busy but no one was helping us learn the ropes.  I know now that there were many people being checked in that day and only so many people to go around.   After a few days there I've seen how Erik is being cared for my opinion has changed.  A speech therapist helps him eat his meals.  An occupational therapist does too.  A physical therapist helps his muscles work.   Even when Erik's in pain, they find a way to help him progress.  And he was in pain yesterday.   A skin infection developed an abscess on it.  That's not good.  I was in Erik's room when a new doctor came in, looked at it and made things happen.  Erik needed stronger antibiotics and quick.   A PICC IV was put in his arm, threaded close to his heart and medicine administered.  He'll continue to get it for 7 days.  This morning when I saw him I already noticed improvement.  Praise the Lord.   

He is reluctant to feed himself.  He gets tired. Or can't remember how. It's sad.  But that's a goal to work on.  He's having a hard time holding his head up.  Heads are heavy, especially when you're tired.   Many people there spend their days in wheelchairs, like Erik.  I understand now why they look so tired.  They are working hard just to be sitting and their body healing.  When I see other elderly people using walkers to get around, I find myself thinking, "Wow, that person's so strong!!".

Erik is becoming a sweetheart to the staff.  Sometimes when they walk by you can hear him say "Hi!"  He smiled at me more today than in the past 5 days. That was a treasure to me.  

  

September 9, 2012

A Labor Day I won't forget


I have meant to write for a long time but there has been no time.  One week ago, (as I was told) Erik was sitting in his dining room around lunch time and it seemed he started feeling strange.  He rose up from the chair as if he was going to stand and then fell, full force, face-down and started to have a 30 second grand mal seizure.   A little background:  This was his 3rd seizure in 5 weeks.  It followed one 8 days previous where he, again, fell on his face and possibly fractured his nose.  All three seizures have necessitated trips to the Emergency Room.  Cat Scans were done each time with no problems found to his neck or skull.  Since these seizures began I'd started noticing that Erik wasn't mentally as present.  Eating became confusing for him.  Walking began to be a chore.  It has been hard to know if Erik's in pain except by visual clues.  If you ask him "Erik, do you hurt anywhere?" he always answers "no" or won't answer at all.  As you can imagine, our desire to get to a neurologist was high.  I had 2 different appointments for him lined up - with 2 different neurologists, trying to find one who could see him the soonest.   Then came the strong seizure the day before Labor Day.  The next morning all he would do was sleep deeply.  We could hardly rouse him.   Something just wasn't right, he had no interest in food.   So we drove him to the ER to see if there was any chance a neurologist could see him.  Thankfully they admitted him and he was seen the next day.

Here is a picture of him that first day in his hospital room.   His head was very scraped by his fall and he had tubes and noises all around his hospital bed.  He put up with it all amazingly.  Better than I would have, for sure.  He was in a special bed that was filled with air constantly -- so the noise was like sitting next to an engine in an airplane.

The following day he was given an EEG in his room.  The technician had to attach a ton of sensors on his head, face and chest.  Erik was supposed to lie still and not move his head.  If only he'd been sleepy during this test!   He moved his head quite a bit but they still got the readings.  Results came back normal.  The neurologist had already decided that Erik needed anti-seizure meds, just as we hoped.  The initial dosage made him extremely drowsy so the dose was lowered and we're now watching to see how he does on it.   
So then it seemed like weeks passed, but really it was just 5 days/nights in the hospital, waiting and watching.  We were blessed with exceptional nurses and staff.  Family took turns staying with him all day and night, except for the last night...we knew by then that he'd be cared for very well and he was.  Finally it was time to be transferred to a rehab nursing facility that happened to be near my home.  Erik got to ride on a stretcher in an ambulance. 

sitting up after laying in bed for 5 days feels good.
We're so eager for therapy to begin so Erik can hopefully regain his strength.   He seemed to lose so much of himself after each seizure.  Erik fed himself a little bit while in the hospital but mostly we had to feed him.  Also, he seemed so weak.
First day at the Rehab center,  getting settled in.
That night dinner was brought to his room and he made me so happy by taking the ham and cheese sandwich and actually lifting it to his mouth and biting it.  Hadn't seen him do that in so long.  Erik entered the rehab on a Friday afternoon and sadly, the therapy won't begin until Monday so we spent the weekend of checking on him, trying to make him comfortable.  I feel like I'm not succeeding at that very well.   He's usually sitting in a wheelchair when he's not napping in his bed.  Tonight my daughter and I tried to shave him.  We will never be able to earn a living shaving men's faces.  We ran out of shaving cream so he ended up with patches of skin and patches of whiskers everywhere--oh my goodness.   
save me from my sister's shaving

I hope you can't tell what a terrible job I did, but I know Erik forgave me.
A male care-giver came to the rescue and took care of the mess we made.  He finished the job for us but I forgot to take a picture of his whisker-free face.  You'll have to take my word. 

Ahhhh, deep breath.  Rehab starts tomorrow.  Please pray Erik responds well and his body and mind heals, for good rest and that we know what to do to give him the best quality of life going forward.  So many friends and family have kept Erik in their prayers.   How can we thank you enough?  The Lord keeps reminding me of His love for Erik, of His constant protection and provision.  Erik is his child and He is his Good Shepherd.  Thank you for reading and caring for my sweet brother.