Helen's Most Recent Picture

Helen's Most Recent Picture
What a great smile!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Dave did the honors of picking Mom up from rehab and I met them at Olive Garden for a celebration lunch. Mom informed me then, "I had a stroke" and giggled. We heard that quote throughout the day and night! We reminded her that "that excuse" would not work for long. Japher, our cat, was spooked by the walker and Dave, but finally did come around and even sat on Dave's lap. (We have had Japher for 15 months and Dave had seen him a couple of times, as he usually hides). We all rested most of the afternoon and evening. In general, the day and evening were rather uneventful and fairly quiet UNTIL she started singing the OSU "fight song" for 20 minutes last evening. I used to like that song!! Evening seems to be her primary time of getting stuck on a song, activity, or whistling. I had noticed that in rehab and it is nearly impossible to move her on. Hallelujah she slept all night and did not rally this morning until 10:15. I know I needed that down time. I have seen already that a routine is a must with times and details, otherwise she will just sit on the edge of the bed or chair at the table. She did share this morning that her head is clogged with shapes, colors, and trying to fit so many shapes into a certain size object or the same song over and over. She is working on her Bible study right now as that was always a part of her morning routine. More later. Overall, coming home has been a rather smooth transition.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Big Day

Tomorrow is the big HOMECOMING for Mom. I spent the morning in rehab to get any final instructions from the therapists. Rest and routine are the keys, according to all the therapists. I can certainly handle the rest part. Oh wait, I think the rest is for Mom! Dave received the okay from his supervisor to work from our house two days a week (Monday & Wednesday) and I received the okay to work four days a week so I will be home on Friday. Aunt Betty and friends will cover Tuesday and Thursday. We will do some creative rotation for nights and pray that Mom finally gets some sleep so that we can sleep too. I told her that Japher, our cat, needs his sleep!! I plan to cover the weekends with help from family and friends when needed. Now to finish the homecoming plans and develop that schedule to cover the routine part. Outpatient therapy starts on Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully, therapies can be scheduled on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after the initial session. Please stop in to play games as Mom still loves the games and will need new players. Some of us, okay it's me, get tired of playing games continually. Cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc will add extra activities to the routine.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Making progress

Not a lot to report the last couple of days except that mom is continuing with therapy and doing well. Deb & I have been trained on helping mom get around while in the hospital and this helps free up the staff for when its time to get her to/from bed to wheel chair to therapy. She and I walked the entire length of the hall yesterday. (I was a little winded but she seemed to do fine.) We (Aunt Betty, Deb and I) are also attending daily lunch time "Stroke Education" classes they offer and we have learned a lot.

Mom probably will get to take a field trip tomorrow nite. Hannah (Aunt Betty's next door neighbor who has become a family friend and has even vacationed with mom and Aunt Betty) passed away yesterday morning. Calling hours are Thursday nite so if the hospital staff grants permission (which I think they will) then I will take mom to the funeral home in Sunbury after dinner and take her back before bedtime. Therefore, if you were planning to visit her in the hospital on Thursday nite you may want to plan your visit for another day. The plan is still for her to go home on Saturday altho nothing has been finalized yet.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rehab Progression

Wow, what a difference a couple days makes! I spent the day with Mom as she went through the different therapy sessions. I was trained on assisting so that Mom can walk to the bathroom and around the unit with the walker when I am present and with me holding the back of the gait belt for balance. Otherwise, she is in a wheelchair for safety with alarms that sound when attempting to get out of the wheelchair or out of bed. The response time to alarms on this unit is merely seconds. Physical therapy is decreasing to 30 minutes tomorrow so that additional time can be spent on speech therapy. A major part of speech therapy is thought processing and memory. Short-term memory continues to be a major problem as well as initiative. Occupational therapy is working on many of the same issues and activities of daily living. Progressing to the kitchen is planned for this week. We had a family meeting this afternoon with the therapy team and DISCHARGE plans are being made for Saturday with outpatient speech, physical, and occupational therapy. The recommendation by all therapists is for 24 hour supervision and strict routine/written schedule to follow. It is hoped that the short-term memory and initiative will continue to improve. She has come a tremendous way in just under two weeks. Today she was talking about getting back to alterations, but I think that one will have to wait for several months. Visits will definitely be appreciated when she returns home. So far, Mom does not have any interest to speaking to people on the telephone. I will be back on the unit for therapy part of the day tomorrow and will return to work for Wednesday and Thursday, then back for continued therapy on Friday. I expect to see lots of progression in this time period.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

She's Come So Far...As you Can See...

Drake and Grandma
The light in the eyes is back!
Check out the progression of pictures! The big one at the top is the first picture from the experience. This one was taken today! What a lapse of time! Can't wait to see another in a few more days!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ho Hum

I spent the afternoon and evening with Mom and attempted to keep her entertained. The only therapy today was recreational therapy. She played Euchre with two other ladies and the recreational therapist. Mom did pretty well with following and playing correctly. One lady kept giving the cards to Mom to cut and Mom would try to deal them. Cutting cards is not a way that we play with any card game so that concept was a bit confusing to her. Two of our Fairdale neighbors came for a visit and cousin Bob. It was pretty quiet and I ran out of stimulating activities and conversation. We played several games of Racko and Quiddler as well as put several puzzles together. Mom participates in conversation more when she is listening to those around her, then will add comments. Hopefully, she will sleep tonight as I talked both to her and the nurse about using the trazodone. Mom doesn't like to take anything and now is on a lot of medication. Kelly has some cutting projects in store to keep Mom busy when not in therapy. There is a piano in the dayroom and I am going to take some of her music in tomorrow to see if she would like to play the piano. Visits are encouraged any time on Sunday and during the week primarily after 3:00.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More assessments

Day two of rehab kept mom busy. Aunt Betty spent the day with mom today to see what some of us missed. Deb had a few appointments and I spent some time at work. Since mom's temporary home is only a few miles from work, I popped in while mom was doing some Occupational Therapy in the late morning and continued my visit thru lunch. From what I saw and from what Aunt Betty reported, mom was handled everything thrown at her! She is becoming a challenge to the staff because she is improving everyday and they're gonna have to keep up with her!

I went back to visit mom after work and arrived at 3:40. She was suppose to be resting but she still doesn't do much of that (some things never change). Anyway, Deb arrived shortly thereafter and the three of us visited with Mom while she ate. Mom gobbled up her tray again as her appetite is as strong as ever. Deb and Aunt Betty left so that left time for mom and me to play some games. We stayed in the dining hall (patients are encouraged to eat in a special dining hall instead of their rooms). We chatted for a bit and while she isn't remembering everything from her day's activities she is doing pretty well. She also is remembering upcoming events such as doctor appts, scheduled visits to friends/families that she had scheduled in advance several weeks ago, birthdays etc. This is a GOOD thing because she is started to worry about those things. You know her...she is worrying about missing something and heaven forbid if that ever happens! Again, this is a good kind of worry, she is on her way back. She may not get all the way there tomorrow or next week but I think she's gonna get there (or pretty darn close).

So, since all of the other patients had left the dining room, I decided to raid the game closet and pulled out RACKO and FLINCH. We quit playing Racko after game 5 because mom beat be 4 out of 5 times! We then played one game of Flinch. While she did a perfect job at Racko, she only did a good job with Flinch. She got on a role of playing her cards from her hand and regularly forgot to play from her Flinch pile (sound familiar to some of you other old timers?). I Flinched her the first time and then realized she may not be quite ready for Flinch yet. She missed playing from her Flinch pile a few more times but I reminded her each time (after she missed playing it) and she immediately thanked me and then played from the Flinch pile. Anyway, with me 'helping' her this way, she also beat me at Flinch so I decided it was time for me to push her back to her room and go home cuz I don't like to lose that many times in one evening! Plus she likes to always likes to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune and it was almost 7:00.

In summary, mom is doing pretty doggone well for the condition she is in. Thanks for all the cards, visits, snacks, food, gifts, thought & prayers that so many of you have given us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First day of rehab

The inpatient rehab unit at Mount Carmel West (MCW) specializes in stroke rehabilitation. Helen is settled in and began her first day of work. She has progressed in her first day to using a wheeled walker and up with staff assistance to the bathroom. Unfortunately, her memory does not allow her to report her progress to us. Due to us all being exhausted from the stay at St Ann's, we all "took the day off" and went in to the rehab unit at 3:00. We found Mom to be very tired and resting on her bed. She had several family visitors and was upbeat before closing her eyes after eating dinner. Sister Betty, sister-in-law Ruth, and I were still there and asked if she wanted us to leave so that she could sleep. She shook her head yes. This was very telling as to how tired she was today. We could not be happier with the safe and upbeat environment and look forward to the daily changes. Sister Betty will be present tomorrow to observe the therapy sessions as I have several appointments. The therapy schedule changes on a daily basis and we have no idea yet about the weekend activities. The rehab team will meet on Monday and let us know the projected time line for length of stay and home needs. Helen enjoyed looking at all the cards that I took in today. Thank you to all who have sent them. They are greatly appreciated and she has been able to tell me who some of you are... Thank you Vintage Voice friends for putting what section you sing in as it helps me connect a name and a face. Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Matty, Ishkabible, and Aunt Helen

Matty (Helen's Great Niece), Ishkabible (the important mouse), and Helen

Helen and Ishkabible

Aunt Helen and Ishkabible the VERY important mouse!

New (temporary) Home

Prayers were answered today when the insurance company came to their senses and agreed that mom could go to Mt Carmel Med Center(West) for rehabilitation. Therefore, after everything got finalized this afternoon, Deb and I loaded up mom and I transported her to her new (temporary) home. The RN in charge of her floor met us at the entrance to wheel her up and provided a tour. Deb and I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER with what we discovered. They appear to be an incredible staff and this seems to be the perfect place at this stage. Thursday (and future days) will bring a lot of work for mom but more so tomorrow because of all of the assessments they need to do on her. In a nutshell, tomorrow's day looks something like this:
  • 7:30 - 8:30 Occupational Therapy (OT) working on dressing
  • 8:30 - 9:00 Breakfast
  • 9:00 - 9:30 Recreational Therapy (TR) (yes, for some reason it is TR instead of RT)
  • 10:00 - 11:00 Physical Therapy (PT)
  • noon - 1:00 Lunch
  • 1:30 - 2:00 Audiology
  • 2:00 - 3:00 Speech Therapy (ST)
  • 5:00 - 6:00 Dinner
Future days will be similar. Family and friends are welcome to visit anytime. However, my preference is that the best time for friends to visit would be at dinner time or evenings after dinner. But if you are in the neighborhood (and trust me...it really is the 'hood') you are welcome to stop during the day but keep in mind that your visit may be cut short due to the therapy activities that are so necessary for mom to be participating in at this time.

Her room is 770 in the West Entrance (as opposed to the East or Main Entrance). She has a nice roommate who ironically enuf is from Sunbury and has played bridge with Aunt Betty and Uncle Carl in the past.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts and prayers. I'm not much of a blogger but wanted to share this great news about mom's new (temporary) home...
We are moving to Mt. Carmel West. 7West is her floor. :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Insurance is great when you fit neatly into criteria. Unfortunately, Mom does not fit neatly into the "typical" stroke pattern and the criteria for inhospital rehab. Fortunately, I am a social worker and can advocate strongly for my mother just like I do for my clients. The hospital social worker, Brenda, has been awesome and spent all day working on a possible discharge to Mount Carmel West inpatient rehab. Insurance denied coverage and doctors are fighting for us as Mom's potential to learn is now and needs to be intense. It was finally decided that the rehab team will come tomorrow to do an assessment (they were to come today). In our favor for inpatient rehab is that Mom has regressed and is very quiet and still today. She had a terrible headache yesterday afternoon and a CT scan revealed no new bleeding. EEG was abnormal. We, of course, were not surprised by that finding. The physical therapist (PT) and occupational therapist (OT) found significant change today that should qualify her for inpatient rehab. Her balance is very off when they walked with her and OT assessment for cognitive skills revealed that she will need 24 hour supervision, cannot follow written instructions, will need hazards removed from the environment, and will not be able to set up or administer her own medications. The OT worked on a sewing example and Mom was not able to follow the pattern, recognized it was wrong, and did not care! Definitely not Helen's perfectionistic sewing. She talked a lot at 4:30 when I came in this morning but has not talked much since that time and has been sleeping off and on. She has not slept much while here so definitely needs it. We continue to have hope that tomorrow is a new day and that the assessment team will find that she qualifies for the inpatient rehab as it is an intensive program that is our best hope for improvement.

Monday, August 16, 2010


She passed the stress test! She had an EEG and a CAT scan. We do not have the results back from those two yet. Her head was hurting this afternoon so she got some medicine to help with that. The medicine made her a bit drowsy and her tummy upset. Dinner was not well received (aka She didn't eat it.).  Now she is a bit more awake and is working on some crackers. 

Tomorrow will bring an evaluation from Mount Carmel West in patient rehab facility. We are all excited about the prospects of the rehab. Helen has amazing potential--this is nothing new! She may never be the old Helen but the new Helen is still awakening and we are sure she will be fabulous as she is such a ball of love and light!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Neurologist Update...

Tonight the neurologist told us that the pathways that were/are hurt from the stroke can be repaired with use. This is exciting!  It doesn't mean that it will necessarily all be able to be healed but it does mean that things can get better as the pathways recreate themselves. Time will tell... With the new growth that we have seen today, we are all very optimistic about the situation! Considering Helen's strong personality and her need to GO GO GO, we are sure that we will see even more growth and are excited about what each moment has to bring us.  It is enlightening to know from everything can come a smile, a moment of aha, and a remembrance that life is truly grand! We are working to remember to "Do all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are!"

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. 
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Thank heavens we have each other as a source of peace and comfort!

Today's Daily Word from The Daily Word....COMFORT


In the quiet, I know great comfort.

As I close my eyes to pray or meditate, everything becomes quiet. The simple act of closing my eyes opens my heart to God. And as my heart opens, I am filled with deep love, compassion and comfort. I need never look for someone or something to comfort me. I need only to remember my oneness with God and the ever-present nature of God's love.

I let go of all worries, knowing that the very best answer will be shown to me. I let go of all insecurity and doubt. As I feel God's love, I know that all is well. I am safe, and I am fully protected. Each day I take time to become quiet. In the silence, I feel the comfort of a love that endures.

Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.--Psalm 107:30


Here is a picture of Asher (her great nephew) and Helen snuggling in bed.

Today is a day of rejoices in SO many ways!  After a mid morning nap, Helen woke up at lunch time and seems like her "old self". TODAY OUR CHATTY HELEN IS HERE! :) She has had MANY visitors and been talking away! The President today is actually Obama (instead of Washington, Clinton, or Bush). She is remembering things that have been discussed the last few days.  She recognized Seneca, a FABULOUS technician that has been caring for her. She also played a few games of Bananagrams with Betty. Once the doctors come in we will know more. Tomorrow there will be a few more tests which will hopefully offer an even larger glimpse into what we are doing. The prayers are working fabulously! Please keep them coming! Today is giving us all hope and comfort for all of the GOOD that is to come! Prayers are working here and we can see the progress each and everyday! Blessings upon all of you! Thank you!!!!

Precious moments

What a joy to spend the evening quietly with Mom. Yes, she is impaired, but there is still so much beauty and charm. She talked on the telephone with special friend, Ruth Shannon. Yes, she really talked to Ruth and responded with smiles and appropriateness. We sang the alphabet song with Connie from church. She sang to and initiated conversation with Ishcabibble, our special mouse friend. He has become our constant companion. I think he may have an identity crisis going because his name changes frequently as well as what kind of critter. Sometimes a pig, mouse, rat, etc. He is the very soft friend from the book "If you give a mouse a cookie..." She has gotten up twice totally on her own to go to the bathroom. Hooray! Needed some help and reminders but mostly on her own. She has slept for two hours so far tonight and is resting comfortably now. I asked Mom tonight if she knew what was wrong with her. She responded, "I had a stroke." Are you scared? "No." I told her that we were going to take good care of her and she responded, "because you love me." She understands but doesn't. She read tonight outloud from the Reader's Digest. We played a couple hands of "Quiddler," a word game we love. She made words and remembered mostly how to play. I told her that she was cheating! We have some new rules for the game... and that's okay. All this tells me that there is hope and I am trusting in God, therapists, and medical team. God is so very good!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reality and Hope

Today the Neurologist came in and gave us a disheartening dose of reality. He said that the new MRI showed no changes from the last MRI. We were hoping for changes. This let us know that there is no reason for the spinal tap to happen on Monday. The medication that she has been given should've shown some progress and a change on the MRI had the stroke happened from an infection. Nothing has really changed in how Helen is, but our perception has changed. Our hope is still holding though--as are our prayers. She is not very talkative but certainly is able to talk. She does not sleep to amount to anything. She is content and at peace. There is not a lot of emotion as that is part of the stroke results.

Her heart is out of rhythm (afib). This is something that she is getting medication for and we hope this helps.

The Occupational Therapist (OT) came in today and gave us a better understanding of what is happening with some of it.  She said that she should be able to go to an in house rehab facility to get more intense therapy (speech, OT, and PT).  They will give us help in deciding what will work to hopefully create an environment where she can do things on her own.  She will be able to go there until her learning plateaus. Then she will be able to step down to another place.

I asked the OT how they know it is a stroke and not something else. The OT explained that it takes the MRI, the symptoms, and the ruling out of things to show that the stroke did happen. The stroke affected the whole frontal lobe and the thalamus. She has watershed type of damage.  (Something to google search later to see what we find out about it.)

She seems to remember who had been here today. That was a lot of fun! She has a new mouse friend thanks to Asher and Matty (her great niece and nephew) named Ischkabibble. (Spelled by Helen too!)  Ischka, for short, has a very prominent place in our lives right now! (If you know the book If You Give A Mouse a Cookie then you know the mouse!)  And the best news is Ischka is a great singer--something the Helen still LOVES to do and enjoys!

Stop by and visit if you would like. Room 231 at St. Ann's hospital.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Updates

Today they came in and did the TE where they put a scope down her throat to check out the back side of the heart. All is well-nothing is wrong with the heart. Hip hip hooray!  Cardiologist discovered that she is VERY physically strong so she had a great sleep all afternoon from the sedation! These are all good signs for recovery. She was supposed to have a spinal tap today, but that has been moved to Monday because she has to be off of Plavix (blood thinner) for 3 days first.  Tomorrow she will have another MRI to be able to compare those results with the previous MRI. She has also begun an IV to hopefully get rid of infection that might be floating around in her body. (A possible cause for the stroke and the reason for the spinal tap.)  We are hoping that the IV medication will help with some recovery. The doctors are suggesting that she might not ever have a full recovery. The prognosis is still out so we are waiting for the specifics.

Her communication skills are not up to par. For Helen she is very quiet and reserved. She listens to everything and responds to little. She answers most of our yes and no questions and sometimes offers other responses. It is all just a moment by moment, day by day journey!

Thank heavens for ice cream as it is one of our joyous occasions recently! We go down to the cafeteria and bring it up. Today she said that she thought the ice cream cup looked like a "communion cup". (A phrase that she used to use meaning that the serving of ice cream was too small!) She thought that a gallon bucket would be better! This was fun as ice cream has been such a part of our lives!

Prayers are fabulous as are all of the positive words and actions! They are a source of strength for all of us!  We appreciate you all!

(PS We are operating on lack of sleep so please disregard any typos.)

To get you started....

Hello Everyone! Here is the way that we are going to keep people updated on what is going on with Helen. Please share this with anyone that you know that we might have missed! This will be an easier way for us to get the news out to everyone. Feel free to post questions, well wishes, etc here as the family will be able to get back to them!

Here is what has already happened in a short abbreviated version:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Helen's fabulous friends found her disconnected and not quite right when they showed up at her house to play some games about 1pm. They called Dave and Monica who called Betty, Helen's sister, and the ball got rolling to get Helen to St. Ann's Hospital ASAP! She was very quiet and reserved (which you all know is NOT the Helen Addis that we know!). Some testing was done to show that she is healthy and strong! She was admitted to St. Ann's to figure out what was making her language skills decreased and her short term memory gone.

Thursday, August 12, 2010
She has had a stroke.  The neurologist came through and let us know that she has damage to both sides of her frontal lobe. This is atypical for the normal stroke.  Normally a stroke affects one side of the body or the other. Hers has affected both sides of her body.  She is physically strong!  She can walk, got to the bathroom, wash her hands, feed herself, sit up, etc all on her own. She is however sketchy on information from the short term memory. She recognizes people that she has known in the past when they come to visit, but later doesn't remember that they were there. She can remember last names of friends, remember ice cream flavor names, and sing words to songs from a zillion years ago. Yet she doesn't show much emotion. She has no fear. And is VERY quiet. She mostly only talks when spoken to. When Drake, Asher, and Matty left today she showed the most emotion that we have seen. Tomorrow we are looking for more answers to help us understand what is going on in more detail as she is in store for tests: spinal tap, heart check (TE), etc. We will keep you posted as more develops.