Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13 11 am Lisa

Dear Family and Friends,

Having a few computer glitches here including power cord going dead on me! Also, took the day yesterday to visit Univ. of NE-Lincoln with our sone Phil (senior)who is still trying to decide where to go to college. Brother Paul updated me late last night so this is the first chance I've had to blog so here goes!

Well, yesterday was the 4th week anniversary since Joe's injury, and I cannot believe how well he is doing! We all have our eyes wide open and realize that this healing will be a long process, but we are so encouraged by what we have witnessed thus far.

With a PT person in front and behind Joe, he was able to walk about 10 feet and then sit in his wheelchair. He then walked another 10 feet and rested. I started cheering on the phone when Paul then said, "I've got more! He walked around the therapy room and down a hall--walked over 50 feet but less than 100." Isn't that fantastic! I'm sure that walking cast on his left foot is helping with this. He also was able to sit in shower and help wash himself, which is, of course, also huge. Lastly, though he has "a ways to go" (quote from therapist)in consistently swallowing water, he ate a bit of pudding twice yesterday! They cut the second of the two front wires yesterday so that helped a lot. The therapists are also doing all sorts of cognitive tests which Paul and Ginny were able to observe yesterday. One of the tests was to repeat a series of random numbers; the therapist started with 3 number series and then advance to 4 numbers, 5 numbers, 6 numbers and 7 numbers. Joe was accurate through 6 numbers but struggled with repeate 7 random numbers. We all chuckled that we would have difficulty repeating random set of 7 numbers. Another test that made us smile required Joe to name the category that 3 nouns belonged to. One of the prompts was: pants, shirt, dress. Paul thought to himself "clothes" but Joe said "apparel" at which point Paul laughed, reporting that even with a major brain trauma Joe still had a better vocabulary than he did!

Paul left this morning, and Ginny's bro Ed is on the way to Atlanta with sons Keith and Stephen. I chatted briefly with Ginny this morning who was in Joe's room. I heard Joe ask about Keith and Stephen, and he was so happy when Ginny explained that they were on their way to see him. Joe also told me over the phone that he was looking forward to seeing me. I told him I loved him and he replied that he loved me too (quiet but massive amount of tears ensued). These little moments are so touching and give all of us strength to bear the frustrations we experience as Joe has to relearn basic functions such as swallowing and walking that we all take for granted.

And so, since Joe is working so hard, and given we all can't be there with him and Ginny as much as we'd like, we can be inspired by his example. I was touched by one of the blog comments, apparently from a UAH student, who reported that the following message was written on some of the classroom boards in the Shelby Center:"I'm working hard so you work hard too. Dr. Leahy" Isn't that awesome! So when we don't feel like working out, we should do it anyway. We should eat more fruit and vegetables as Ginny does. We should all brush our teeth more often, even after lunch, as Joe and Ginny do. But most of all, we should all praise our Lord for all the gifts He gives us and trust that He is the Master of making lemonade out of lemons.

Blessings and Hugs to All,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11 4:30 Lisa

Dear Family and Friends,

I might not be the most coherent as I'm piecing together various conversations I've had with Ginny and others but here goes.

Joe is getting 30 minutes a day of PT, OT, ST twice a day with rest in between. Respiratory therapy is there quite frequently, and the neuropsychologist will see Joe 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. Family can be in Joe's room but typically don't follow him around to therapy. Yesterday, however, Ginny and Mom and Dad Leahy were able to follow him around to therapy, and then they had a late afternoon meeting with Joe's primary doctor as well as the neuropsychologist.

One of the primary goals (again, apologies to any medicos out there), as I understand it is, to close off the trach (also refered to as buttoning the trach or capping the trach--think these all mean the same thing). I think Joe made through last night with it closed off. This is good news.

The therapists are continuing to work with Joe on swallowing, and they put some thickener in the liquid--maybe apple flavor. This is also an obvious important goal so that Joe can ultimately take more and more nourishment through the mouth and ultimately wean off the feeding tube--this will be a long process, however.

Today they put a cast on Joe's left leg that covers his foot and comes up to this knee and it is fitted with a walking boot. Though Joe has no broken bones this is apparently a pretty common practice. Joe's left leg is weaker than his right and this will help him with walking. Yesterday, once Joe got his bearings sitting on the side of the bed, he stood up and even stretched his back.

I think I forgot to note that Joe has to wear a helmet to protect the soft part of this head where the neurosurgery took place to remove the bone fragments and other damage caused by the bullet. He may have to have a plate put in at some point from what I recall from the docs at Huntsville Hospital.

The endocrinologist has been monitoring Joe's blood pressure, sodium, etc. Sodium level is a point below normal so starting to ease off the medicine to help with that. On blood pressure meds as it had crept up a bit. Always a delicate balancing act but the endocrinologist is all over it.

Joe is generally in good spirits and very talkative when he is laying down; Ginny thinks that when he is sitting in his wheelchair, all his energy going to the physical aspects of sitting up and he is less chatty then. At some point Joe asked where he was and when Gin told him, he clarified his question, saying, "no, I mean where are we metaphorically?" Gin said Mom was quick on her feet responding "on the road to recovery." Good job, Mom!

Mom and dad left this morning for their condo in Florida. We hope they take time to rest up but know taxes need to be finished and other annoying life chores. Paul (Joe and my brother from Indianapolis) arriving tonight from a business trip in Orlando. He will stay until Saturday morning and then Keith, Stephen and Ginny's bro Ed will arrrive on same day and stay until Wednesday. After that Mark (my husband and fellow blogger) will stay with Ginny for a few days. Don't remember after that.

I'm sure I'm missing some details but that is all for now. I think I'll try to post more often with briefer reports as Ginny is able to fire off a quick email or text.

Please, please, please keep up the prayers for Joe and family

Blessings and Love to All,


Joe has a cast on his left leg with a walking boot

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10 10:30 Lisa

Dear Family and Friends,

Joe continues to make progress as he is put through all the therapies every day. There is evidence that his short-term memory is improving as both Ginny and Dad Leahy asked him the same question within 10 minutes of each other, and Joe gave the same response. Both Gin and Dad, unaware of each other's identical question, queried him about physical therapy, and Joe replied "they asked me to act like a robot and then they moved my parts."

Ginny also shared that she made up a prayer spontaneously about Joe's recovery, Keith, Stephen, all the family and friends everywhere, the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc, and when she finished Joe asked Ginny who had written that prayer. When she informed him that she had just made it up, he said, "that was very good!"

Ginny also reported meeting some other people with loved ones at Shepherd and finding that their faith was a "great common denominator."

Today at 3:00 Ginny and Mom and Dad will be meeting with a team of people overseeing Joe's care to answer questions and provide information about Joe's treatment plan. I will post after we know more.

I know Ginny is looking forward to seeing Keith, Stephen and her brother Ed this Saturday as both boys are on spring break next week.

As always, please keep praying for Joe and everyone who has been touched by this "event"--at a loss for words to describe...

Love and Blessings,


Monday, March 8, 2010

March 8 10 pm Lisa

Dear Family and Friends,

Mark and I talked with Ginny last night, and Joe continues to adapt to the Shepherd Center and show progress. Therapists of various kinds are with him most of the day, and though it has been very tiring for him, he is settling into a much better day versus night rhythm and thus appears to be sleeping better. One priority is to re-teach him to swallow, and he is steadily improving. Hopefully the wires on his jaw will be cut by Thursday and that will certainly facilitate his ability to drink and talk. Due to the extensive surgery on his mouth and jaw, however, he won't be able to eat solid food for a several weeks. It's amazing how well he can speak even with his jaws wired shut; apparently he has been quite chatty. He talked with Ginny and Mom and Dad Leahy about his days a football player at Circleville (he remembered they were the Tigers as well as his offensive and defensinve positions), memories of Ohio State days and even a baseball game between the Reds and the Phillies. He really liked his nurse Mary as well, remarking after she conscientiously brushed his teeth and cleaned him up that "she does good work!" The UAH biology faculty know how much Joe cares about his teeth, noting that he would daily trek down the hall after lunch, toting his tooth brush and tooth paste! Thank the Lord his teeth aren't damaged! By the way, I will shortly be mailing several tooth brushes and tooth pastes for each of the UAH biology faculty as well as PJ and Diana who are teaching Joe's classes--Ginny will be doing teeth inspection when she and Joe return from Atlanta!

Another story from today that tickled me is that Joe told Ginny and the folks that they needed to shop for Mark (my husband/Joe's brother-in-law/fellow blogger) as his birthday was coming up. Though Mark's birthday is not until September I was amazed to hear that he knew the exact date of Mark's birthday--the 22nd! Just for fun, I asked Mark when Joe's birthday was and after two chances he guessed the correct month but then was off 5 days--so I guess Joe is doing okay cognitively in many respects.

Another piece of good news is that Joe was able to open his left eye today more regularly so he is getting stronger and muscle tone returning little by little--even in his eyelid. Hopefully Joe will soon be strong enough to make the trip to the nearby hospital to get a thorough examination by the neuro-ophlamologist.

Last bit of news is a friend (Peggy) of Madision, AL friends brought over supper on Sunday-they actually bumped into her so it was lucky-Dad Leahy was happy as mashed pototoes were included which he had been craving. Great meal and great day as cafeteria closes at 2:30 on Sundays!

Ginny was going to email me more updates but then ran out of time before it was time to see Joe again. I decided to blog anyway and I'll catch up with Ginny later. Remember Ginny and Joe are now on Eastern time and I'm on Central and I don't want to risk waking her up or the folks. Please be patient with the blogs as Mark or I will post as soon as we are able to get information form the folks in Atlanta and they are very busy with Joe.

Again, please keep praying for Joe, Ginny, Keith and Stephen.