Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30, 10:00, mark

Today was a "training day" for Ginny as much as for Joe. She worked with the therapists in learning how to help Joe with his daily tasks and in transferring him from bed to his wheelchair, etc. He is making great strides in his walking (pun intended) and Gin is learning how to safely assist him with that as well.

It was a beautiful day in Atlanta, providing a great opportunity for another landmark event -- Joe's first "outing" away from the hospital. Accompanied by two therapists (she said one for Joe and one for her) Gin pushed Joe in his wheelchair to a CVS drugstore a few blocks away. All went well.

Joe's respiratory problems are greatly improved. His coughing and congestion have lessened a great deal, enhanced by the reduction of his trach from an "8 to a 6" (whatever that means). They've also been able to "plug" his trach (not sure if it's plugged all the time or just occasionally) -- meaning that, at those times, he is breathing normally as if there were no trach at all.

Perhaps most significantly, Joe's mental "sharpness" continues to improve steadily. He is asking lots of questions and seems to be remembering answers on both a short-term and long-term basis, although still with some inconsistency. In response to his questions, Ginny has now told him about the events of Feb. 12. He has no memory of the shootings, but did express his dismay at what happened, repeatedly saying "that's horrible" as he contemplated the murders of Gopi, Adriel, and Maria, and the woundings of Stephanie and Rogel. A poignant moment for Ginny, as she crossed that threshold with him.

So, all in all, a very eventful day.

Love and thanks to all. Charge on.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28 Palm Sunday noonish, Lisa

Dear Family and Friends,

Lots of news to report but needed to wait until family had been notified before blogging it.

Many of you have asked about visiting Joe, and though we appreciate your friendship and support, Joe isn't ready for visitors at this point. Rest assured that a family member is with Ginny most days, with a break here and there as she needs. Mom and Dad Leahy were with Joe and Ginny last week, and yesterday left Atlanta for Madison where they will stay until Joe and Ginny return. Thanks to all the wonderful neighbors and friends in Madison for keeping an eye on the house and helping out Mom, Dad, Keith and Stephen. Brother Paul arrives today in Atlanta and will stay until Tuesday, and sister Patty will arrive on Holy Thursday. Patty will help Ginny move out of the Shepherd apartment efficiency as the 30 days allotted to patients' families are up on Good Friday. Mark helped Ginny find a nice apartment across the street when he was in Atlanta last night. Mom, Dad and kids will come back to Atlanta on Saturday and leave Sunday. Stephen will be competing in the state science fair on Friday so congratulations on getting to state, Stephen, and good luck! We are so proud of both you and Keith for all you have been able to accomplish during this ordeal.

Now for the updates on Joe's condition. I will heavily quote from Ginny's email to the family. Again, apologies in advance for anything I might say that is not technically correct from a medical perspective.

This last week has included some amazing things. After a change in Joe's medication to help his brain make connections more easily, Ginny has witnessed major progress in Joe's level of awareness and attention span.

Physical Updates
He has been able to feed himself pudding and applesauce, brush his teeth and perform basic hygiene. He is getting his appetite back and craved tomato soup the other day, which Mom Leahy retrieved from the apartment and brought over for Joe. Due to his jaw fracture and until the follow-up surgery in Huntsville, Joe is only allowed to eat soft and pureed foods It is so wonderful for Ginny and family to see Joe feeding himself with utensils, but his vision from his left eye is inconsistent as is his tendency to open or shut the left eye (note the left eye is the uninjured eye). The Neuro-ophlamologist will see Joe this Thursday about his eyes.

Joe is still experiencing some respiratory issues. Cat scan doesn't show any reason to be alarmed, and though the mucus is greatly decreased the docs still don't feel he's quite healthy enough to plug the trach yet.

A major improvement is Joe's ability to get around. We were first pretty happy that he is pretty facile in walking his wheelchair (he uses his feet to move the wheelchair forward), but even more exciting is his improvement in walking. He walked pretty well with only the support of Stan, one of Joe's favorite nurse techs. from the gym to his room, and then e hsat in a regular chair while Stan retrieved the wheelchair. Of course we were all elated by this news.

Mental/Emotional Updates
Joe strung large wooden beads onto a string with color identification,e also wrote some "microbiology" formulas and related information for his therapist Allison who
was very impressed with his "brain work and organizational skills", commenting that she would have enjoyed having him for a professor.

Joe has recently requested to use Ginny's laptop to google various things. He asked Ginny to search for Building DNA Computer Models and even added when she should add a space between words. After sharing the results with him, Joe indicatdthat none of the hits were what he was looking for but he would do more research later. (Lisa note: I can't remember what Stephen's science project is, nor do I begin to understand it, but I wonder if these search parameters are relevant to Stephen's science fair project??).

According to Ginny, Joe is less content, perhaps even melancholy, compared to a week ago. He often wants to go home, indicating that he has work to do. Ginny has explained to him that he is injured and needs to stay a little longer in the hospital. Despite Ginny's relief that Joe understands and accepts the situation, he nonetheless is sad that he is away from his home, his sons, his friends, his work. So many of the books on brain trauma indicate that increased self-awareness is certainly a reason for celebration,yet the sobering reality can cause sadness and even anger. Though we are aware of this, it doesn't make it necessarily easy to deal with so please continue to pray for Joe and all of us.

We are nevertheless filled with much hope and optimism, and we are continually grateful for the miracle of Joe's survival and the generosity of so many friends and even strangers who have fed both our bodies and souls since this ordeal began on Feb 12. The generosity witnessed in Madison and Huntsville has continued in Atlanta, as Peggy, a sister of Kathy Bradford of Madison, has organizred a group of ladies in Atlanta who have provided a steady stream of food and have alleviated Ginny's concerns about shopping and food for Easter. Thank you Atlanta ladies!

Ginny's thoughts after Palm Sunday Mass
I went to early Palm Sunday Mass today at Christ the King. A Father Lopez presided. He gave a wonderful homily about trying to be like Jesus. He reminded those folks who currently are suffering to avoid being whiny as surely Christ was not a whiner! Instead he urged us to unite our sufferings with Christ and rejoice in having something in common with our Lord, and he asked us to remember that the Resurection is a just a short week away. When I returned to Joe's room I displayed the palm branch, and I reminded him of the reading of the Passion in today's Mass. He seemed to appreciate it. So happy Palm Sunday to all of you. I had not idea this is what "family" means. Love, Gin

Well, folks, that's all for now. The enire family thanks you again for all your prayers and suppport. God Bless All of You!