Tuesday, May 25, 2010
May 24, Lisa
Dear Family and Friends,
It has been awhile since I've posted due to all the preparations for the graduation party for our youngest son, Phil, who recently graduated from Creighton Prep. Mom and Dad Leahy traveled by car from Alabama to Nebraska to celebrate with us--was great to see them--they are now back in Ohio (Ginny's mom and sister Mary I believe going down to Alabama at the end of the week). Also was great to see Mark's mom and dad and brother Gary and sister-in-law Debbie who all came in from Ohio to help out with the party preparations and celebrate Phil's big day. They were all a huge help! We are so blessed to have such great families on both sides. Congratulations to Devon Leahy who was confirmed on the same day as Phil's graduation and congratulations to Stephen who was recently confirmed as well. We heard you and the family were personally greeted by Bishop Baker who told Joe that he was surely a miracle and that God must have plans for him. Totally agree! Congratulations also to Stephen for getting a varsity letter in track as well as cross-country as well as doing well academically! Happy 50th Birthday to Ginny! We hope you had a chance to enjoy it! Rumor has it that a pack of plastic pigs were left in your yard and Joe wished the pigs had been real so he could cuddle one in bed--too funny! Keith, happy birthday to you as well--19so you are legally an adult in Nebraska at least! 3 classes in the summer--yikes! We're so proud of all your hard work and making this transition to UAH. Good luck and don't work until they're done!
Again, sorry it has been so long since the blog updates. After the party I was out of town on a silent retreat so just getting back into all the emails that have been piling up in my absence. This update will be in no particular order, but I will attempt to cover the major news.
Joe is doing amazingly well--I talked to both him and Ginny on the phone today. Joe was quite excited to tell me that he walked 1 1/4 miles on treadmill and lifted weights--this on top of all his therapy and his nightly walks with Ginny. UAH provided a membership to the gym for both Joe and Ginny. Joe has a personal trainer named Katie who was, of course, one of his former students! (they're everywhere!)
Also improving is daily functioning. Ginny has to help Joe less and less in the shower but she does engage in "quality control" and examines his left side which he typically neglects. According to Gin, Joe laughed about not being sure about wanting to be completely independent of Ginny but he has set a goal of June 23 (their wedding anniversary) to be able to successfully do all his shaving, etc without Ginny's help. Another milestone was Ginny feeling safe enough to allow room on Joe's side of the bed so he can exit the bed. Ginny had up to now been too worried about Joe falling out of bed but feels more comfortable now. Joe is learning the habit of reaching for his glasses rather than trying to put in contacts. He is also more aware of the dangers and limitations of his injury, even more than last week. They've set up a baby monitor so Joe can be monitored and ask for help when he needs to.
Joe's eyesight, recall, is limited as he is blind in the right eye and can only see the right third of a paper or screen--this is called left side neglect. However, due to the continued generosity of Dr. Amy Sanderson who provided Joe with 2 sets of glasses for free, Joe is doing better seeing, particularly close up. At mass this weekend Ginny was elated to see Joe for the first time following along the text of the Mass readings with his finger. He also typed his first letter on the computer--had many typos as he drags his left hand due to his brain injury but Ginny could tell what he was typing. Ginny told me she has Joe hold the left side of the monitor with this hand and then scan left to find his left hand. When he does this he is very successful reading everything on the screen but he often lets his left hand drop and Gin has to remind him to hold on to the screen again. In fact,the biggest challenge for Joe is remembering to scan left. Everything on the left side is weaker than the right side due to the injury location although his left leg is pretty strong according to Gin.
Joe's short-term memory shows improvement. Yesterday he reminded Ginny about a prescription list that was needed for the UAH athletic center which had not been discussed since last Thursday. Ginny had forgotten so she was impressed Joe remembered. The short-term memory is spotty but improving.
Joe and Ginny have been to UAH several times and Ginny reports they are always greeted very warmly and with great excitement. Last Thursday, Joe had lunch with PJ who had covered one of Joe's classes and after some struggle Joe finally realized that PJ had finished Joe's class, given exams, etc. and posted grades on time. It finally seemed to click for him that he could relax a bit and not worry so much about his teaching commitments. After the lunch about 10 other students hugged Joe, and Joe recognized all of them and even inquired about their work, spouses, kids, etc. He did not miss a beat. So many told Joe what a difference he made in their lives.
I've posted many pictures Dad Leahy emailed. One is Ginny and the young man she sponsored (Daniel Conforti). Another is Joe's award and yet another of Stephen giving it to him. There is a picture of Mom Leahy, Joe and family friend and occupational therapist, Nikki Craver (sp??). There is also one of Keith's birthday celebration and his favorite-banana cream pie as well as one of just Joe and Ginny.
"Progress" seems to be the theme. Joe repeatedly told me he was making progress and Ginny told me she is so proud of Joe's hard work and patience in dealing with...well... everything! The first thing I read on my retreat was an article by a friend who will be ordained as a priest in the Society of Jesus in a couple of weeks. The theme of the article is that we are all "works in progress"
Keep praying for us and we'll keep praying for all of you.