Dear Family and Friends,
Sorry it has been awhile since I posted. I'll try my best to summarize what's been happening and the plans for this week.
Last Sunday was the first time Joe was able to go to Mass since the incident. I know Father Phil and the other parishioners were happy to see the family at their home parish of St. John's in Madison.
Appointments with occupational, physical, and speech therapists filled much of last week, and though the therapy is tiring for Joe he really likes all his therapists. The PT challenged Joe, having him step over 12-inch hurdles, and he was a bit frustrated by how out of shape he was. Patience was never a strong suit in our family! The week culminated in Joe's first appointment with his Rehab doctor, Dr. Keith Anderson, who will oversee much of Joe's care as I understand it. Joe and Ginny really liked Dr. Anderson and appreciated the thorough evaluation he performed and how well he listened. One of the mental tests required Joe to remember three words: cube, ball, paper. After talking for another half hour, the doctor asked Joe if he remembered them, and Joe did correctly recall the words. However, Ginny and Mom Leahy report having had difficulty remembering them! Dr. Anderson also did some med adjustment so that Joe could sleep better--always a delicate balancing act between neuro-stimulators to help Joe make connections and stay attended without over-stimulating him so much that he can't sleep.
Upcoming Medical Appointments
Ginny's last email to me indicated that Joe is scheduled to have appointments with the endocrinoologist and neurosurgeon "next Monday" so I assume that means tomorrow, April 26. Hormonal imbalances continue to be a challenge so we are all relieved that the endocrinologist at Huntsville, Dr. Bobby Johnson, will be on board now, as Ginny has had to communicate with the endocrinologist at Shepherd during this transition. Dr. Tau, the neurosurgeon who did the original surgery on Joe, will be following up with Joe and perhaps discuss whether he and/or Dr. Knolls, the oral maxillofacial surgeon, will be putting in plate over the injured site on Joe's skull. I have no idea how much of a priority that particular surgery is. The next surgery scheduled is with Dr. Knoll who will remove the external mandible fixator and surgical braces on May 4. This is great news as Joe will be able to shave and eat more. He has graduated to soft foods rather than just pureed, and though he has a feeding tube, he no longer is using it--Ginny just has to flush it out regularly. Also on the schedule for the end of this week are appointments with a neuropsychologist and a neuro-opthamologist, both in Birmingham. These appointments are very important due to Joe struggling with not going to work and not seeing very well out of his "good" eye--still not scanning left too often.
Though Joe sometimes complains that he feels like a third grader and is frustrated by his disabilities, he still has maintained his sense of humor. After the Mass last Sunday, Joe commented: "You know, Gin, I am kind of disappointed that my name was only mentioned 3 times at church, kind of used to being the center of attention!" After Dad informed Joe that he now has a handicapped placard with an expiration of 2010, Joe responded "It doesn't make any difference, Dad, the Mayas say the world will end before then." Joe was grateful for all the gift cards the family had received and commented, "you know me getting shot may have helped spur on the economy."
General Observations from Family
Dad reported that when Joe is alert, his long-term memory is outstanding and can carry on an interesting conversation; however he also will sometimes forget something recently mentioned. Everyone is amazed at how strong Joe is getting. He is now going up and down the cul de sac a couple times a day, and he goes up and down the stairs more regularly now as he prefers to brush his teeth upstairs! (Joe could be the poster boy for the American Dental Association--he is so conscientious about brushing!). Also good news is that Joe's stamina, despite the strenuous therapies, is improving and he's not wanting to fall asleep quite as early in the evening.
Some Thoughts for Our Beloved Aunt Joyce
Catching up with email last night, we just learned that our Aunt Joyce Leahy died on Friday night (Was married to Dad Leahy's brother Tom from Clinton, Iowa but they more recently lived across the river in Fulton, IL--Tom dies earlier this year).
Our Aunt Joyce was a great baker and I have never eaten such great chocolate fudge. She was always great for hugs and generous with her fudge, always pretending to not see you when you reached for another piece! An avid reader, she was one of the adults in my life who modeled such a great habit. Kerry, Karlyn, Kristy, our prayers are with you as I know how much you will miss your Mom. But now I must go as our 18 year old called and wondered if we had any chicken nuggets I might make for him--it's 11:30 pm. Joyce, I remember all the late night snacks you would make for cousin Kerry and me when I was there overnight so I guess I'll carry on the tradition!
Love to all,