The past two weeks have gone by very quickly because there's been a lot going on. First off, Brad is being very well cared for, attending therapy daily and maintaining a positive attitude. The neuro stimulator meds he's been taking have helped him to be more alert and active. His blood pressure is stable and they've taken him off of baclafen (a muscle relaxant). He's drinking thin liquids and eating everything except his vegetables.
We learned on Thursday that the VA will continue to work with Brad because he's showing some important gains with Physical Therapy. And, that they are actively pursuing neurosurgery to replace his bone. They've contacted his neurosurgeon in Miami and his bone can be shipped within 27 hours notice. The head neurosurgeon has agreed to do the surgery, so, we're waiting to hear from them, hopefully in the next week or so. It's preferable to do the surgery now while Brad is inpatient rather than releasing him only to readmit him later. This is all very, very positive news!
After much praying and talking with Susie and David, I've decided that it would make good sense for us to stay here and take up residency for the foreseeable future. Both Brad and I will benefit from the resources available here and Susie has offered me an opportunity to work with her in her growing business. And, since Brad is already here, I wouldn’t have to subject him to the stress of traveling back and forth to Montana.
On Thursday, we had a family meeting with the entire interdisciplinary team to talk about Brad's progress and future with the VA. The overall evaluations were encouraging except for the speech pathologist. She assessed Brad's aphasia as "global" meaning that all the functions which go to make up speech or communication are damaged. Due to the extent of the damage to his verbal and written communication abilities, her recommendation was that no further speech therapy from the VA was warranted, however, that doesn't mean that's where it ends. I met with a friend of my sister's who is a speech pathologist by training and now the board chair of a non-profit that provides assistance to individuals with disabilities. Although they don't fund for stroke, she's a great resource who knows the community and has a great network for us to tap into. I'm very, very encouraged that we can navigate the right path for Brad to be able to communicate effectively and fluently. Options that I'll be actively pursuing include melodic intonation, acupuncture, and with the University of Colorado right in Boulder, there's a speech pathology program that is always looking for patients! I believe that we'll find something that'll work.
The VA also has several day programs where Brad could go for up to 8 hours daily and continue to receive therapy as well as the opportunity to receive in home PT/OT, and outpatient PT/OT as he gets stronger and more communicative. There's a big network of contract therapists and a variety of alternative therapies that I'll be investigating further.
Now that we know where Brad will be for the next four to five weeks (one or two in the rehab unit) followed by up to four weeks at the VA's Community Living Center (CLC) - just like the one in Miami. The CLC is in the same building that he's in right now, so it's still Denver. During this time, I'll be locating a place for us to live (apartments, houses) in the area north of where the day program is (some 25 miles) - a big area with several smaller towns and larger areas like Boulder. Once I get the local place nailed down, I'll be coming back to Montana to pack up the house. Both my brothers - Lindsey and Jim have let me know that they'll be coming to Montana to help me with the move and drive the truck with me to Colorado. I'm so very thankful that they'll be able to help. It'll be great family time!
And, speaking of family time. My parents - Jim and Marie - arrived in Denver last Tuesday evening and we've been spending some really nice time together. Brad recognized them and was happy to see familiar faces. In the past two Sunday's we've ventured out with Brad a couple of times - once to Starbucks for coffee and chocolate treat - Brad loved that! And tonight, we took him to dinner at Chipotle. Each is located within walking distance of the hospital. Tonight it was terribly hot, nearly 100 degrees and the walk from the hospital was bumpy, so it was really a big deal for him, and he was plumb tuckered out, but I think he had a good time.
Susie and I introduced Mom & Dad to Angry Birds! They sat here at the table for the past hour playing and giggling - it was fun.
I'm going to be incredibly busy for the next month or two as change will be ongoing with so many things to do. The move in general will be tough on me, as it'll be yet another loss of what has been familiar, comfortable and safe. It'll be hard to say so long. What I've learned from this journey thus far is that there are many silver linings, and making the move to Colorado has to be one of them. I do believe that things do happen for a reason, and although the meaning may not be revealed right away, I choose to keep an open mind. And, like someone said to me recently "be like water, and just go with the flow". Still taking it one day at a time!
Will have more updates as they develop.