Dear Family and Friends,
The last six weeks, wow have they been something. And mostly just great from the recovery standpoint.
But before all the medical stuff, here are the fun parts.
When the MRSA infection came on in October, and the plate had to be removed, one of my first thoughts was that the "Big" game was off but Joe's IV was removed the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and we were a go. Dr. Spera, Infectious Disease, indicated that OSU has an excellent ID department, meaning that if we see any hint of infection, to get there right away!! Well, I kept watch and no recurrence. Two weeks ago, Dr. Spera said, "Well, call me if you need me otherwise you are good to go". Yet another wonderful physician with a great capacity for care and most especially kindness and respect.
We did run the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Crazy but a beautiful day and lots of friends were about wishing us well. Stephen ran too. Keith slept in like a normal 19 year old. It was a fun event and finishing allowed that second piece of Pumpkin Pie! Then it was packing for the weekend.
When Joe started regaining his mental capacity several months ago, one of the first things he said was I just have to take Stephen to the OSU vs Michigan game, like I did with Keith several years ago. Joe said, "You never know what might happen". Well, it was incredible an adventure for Joe and Stephen. We flew in the Friday after Thanksgiving. John, our Best Man, gathered up Stephen and Joe and enjoyed a wonderful pizza and sub lunch, (yes both) and my sister Patty rescued me from all the testosterone and we went to lunch with Mom and my sisters Mary and Angie. What a great treat for me too and then it was back to Black Friday shopping then on to the Warnecke farm.
Back in Columbus, John had arranged a tailgate trip to a local restaurant to see two former OSU players and Joe even met Earl Bruce, a former coach. John and Lisa then hosted a party for Joe with several high school friends on Friday night. Saturday was game day and the weather was frigid but John, and his wife Lisa, took incredible care of all of the details to insure Joe's comfort and care. Saturday night a large group of Leahy's and Warnecke's met for dinner, again at John suggestion. Joe and Stephen then returned with me to my folks for a peaceful Sunday. My brother Ed and his wife Debbie served a chauffeurs and got us to Columbus to fly back to Alabama. Joe and Stephen had a thrilling weekend and I enjoyed a wonderful break.
We have made a few changes in Joe therapy regimen. Because the Low Vision Clinic in Birmingham, and specifically the Dynavision exercises, have proved so effective, we have decided to go once a week to Birmingham rather than every other week. So each Monday, probably for at least the next several months, we will make the drive. This therapy is designed to increase visual field by head movement strategies. The bonus effect I have noticed is increased reaction time and concentration in all areas of processing. Last month we also met with a driving therapist, Karen, to get an overall assessment. Quite to my surprise, the therapist found that Joe compensating techniques were amazing and there may be some limited opportunities for driving in the future. Certainly there are no guarantees but there is hope. Safety can never be substituted, for Joe and others on the road. Karen also works with patients on developing back to work strategies and she is excited to start working with Joe after the first of the year, twice a week. Both Karen and Shemetra, Joe's speech therapist, understand that Joe's primary goal is to get back to work. Practice lecturing, using PowerPoint software, tracking data, and managing student needs are all on the agenda. Plus, after the first of the year, Dr. Moriarty at UAH has asked Joe to regularly attend a Friday class which she supervises. Joe's role will be simply as a participant but being back in the environment will be so wonderful. The energy of students is so infectious.
Joe is now recognizing difficulties in several areas, especially the "executive functions", which are managed in the right frontal lobe of the brain, Joe area of injury. Just the "recognition" of this problem is fabulous in and of itself. Of course, I know he has problems in this area but his own ability to know of the problem is the first step to compensating behavior. Executive functions include organizing, sorting and keeping track of things, events, and even the day of the week. All of these items were impossible for Joe to manage several months ago but now he is understanding the problem and we are starting to find solutions for constant annoyances like misplacing personal items. It is miraculous for me to see his progress but there is a long road ahead.
But the very best part of the last six weeks is Joe's new driver. Well, a friend, of a friend of a friend, knew of a fellow who would be interested in managing Joe's transportation needs. This has been such a source of anxiety for me and for my return to work. Hup, our new driver, is already a good friend. He is kind and considerate, treats Joe with respect and is attentive to Joe's needs. UAH sponsors the driver so even that is managed. In such a difficult situation, all we had to do was ask for help. Though I still fret about many things, I feel confident that we have found an answer to this problem.
So Christmas is here. Presents are wrapped. Travel plans are finalized. Joe and I talked yesterday of those who lost their loved ones that dreadful day last February. We grieve with you and for all of the children so dramatically changed by this tragedy. And for all families, who have lost a loved one, this past year or before their time. May the Spirit of Christmas allow peace and the comfort of memories to fill your heart now and always.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
With gratitude and love, Ginny