Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Gettin' Somewhere

This is my Dad's brother, Kenneth; his wife, Billie - whom Mom loves from way back when they were both newly marrieds into the Cotharn family, and they could hang out and chat together; and their daughters: Debbie, Rhonda, Lisa, Kenny Beth, and Kerry - whom Mom has always had soft spots for - as they were sort of surrogate daughters for a Nancy who was trapped in a house full of men. Growing up, these five girls shared one bedroom in Robinson, TX. Worse, they shared one bathroom - with their Mom and Dad! Petticoat Junction and The Brady Bunch haven't got a thing on these girls. Peeking into the corner of the picture is Kendyl - the less loquacious half of Kendyl and Shelby.

Debbie left a sweet comment in a post on the Nancy Update:
Your mom is and has always been my role model for years. I wanted to raise my 3 boy just like she raised hers. She is my Hero. Tell her I am always thinking about her.

Debbie has said she fixed her sons' hair like Mom fixed our hair - and the hair got mussed up. She dressed her sons in white shorts, like Mom dressed us in white shorts - and the shorts got uncleanably dirty. She taught her sons good manners, like Mom did with us - but it didn't seem to take in quite the same fashion.

Of course, Debbie's sons are, now, much more polite than Bruce and Bradley...

Meanwhile: Mom's balance is progressing!

A week ago, Mom graduated from her walker, and began using a quad cane. A quad cane has four little legs at it's base. This week, Mom has been turned loose on the quad cane. She is allowed to use it without a therapist at her elbow. She now canes her way - steady as she goes - up and down the slope between Hilltop House and the Therapy Center. As Jerry Seinfeld observed about "No calls the next day":
"Well, now we're gettin' somewhere!"

Friday, September 22, 2006

Neuro-Cognitive Progress = Outstanding

Pate sets neuro cognitive goals for Mom to meet - by certain dates. Mom is exceeding the neuro-cognitive goals Pate recently set for her. She is, now, where Pate hoped she would be by the end of October.

At this point, all therapists and Doctors are geared towards Mom making a full recovery. It looks doable. Hopes and expectations are sky-high.

At a later date, will write more detail about the neuro cognitive therapy processes.

(More new posts below.)

View from Hilltop House

If you see a red square, where a picture should be, click on the red square. You can also click on the pics to see a larger pic.

This was taken in the evening, while standing on Mom's back porch, and facing towards the left. The white buildings are offices for Pate staff. The 200 yard distant house - at the top of the crest, is "West" house. It is the original residential house for rehabbing neuro patients. The nearest brick building is the therapy house. These houses can also be seen in these pictures. Since these pics were taken(early August), Pate has begun construction on a second therapy/office building, on the slope between the Temporary buildings and the West house.

Pivoting a bit to the right, and looking north, we can see the driveway leading from the therapy house to the road. The road runs east and west at this juncture. It is 140 yards from the road to the porch I am standing on. I sometimes imagine hitting a golf shot from the road, and up the gentle slope, into the prevailing southerly breeze, onto the porch at Hilltop House. I would hit a full 7 iron, and would try to keep it low, where it could bore into the breeze, and up the slope. If the wind caught too much of the shot, I would hit 6 iron during the following round.

Still looking above: across the road is "Main" house - the first house ever built on the property. Main house shelters residents who have permanent neurologic problems, and have no hope of getting better. They live at Main house for life. Main house has a lovely pool in the trees just behind it.

Pivoting further right, towards the northeast, we can see the Hilltop porch which would be my golfing green. The barn below is used for repairing equipment. Behind it, unseen in this pic, is a goat yard . Peeking just around the barn is the Recreation Barn - which also houses Pate accountants, et al. Peeking around the Rec Barn is a tiny barn for the horses Mom can see from her window - though not in this particular photo. The sculpture looking figure is the red tractor featured in the above linked photos.

Living at Hilltop House is lovely, and quietly peaceful.

Blood Pressure Update

This is a lot of technical info for Bruce and Bradley and Jane. You might want to skip this post - unless you are a health care professional - or unless you like details.

50 mg Toprol is equal in strength to 10 mg Lisinopril.

Doctor Johnson came onto Mom's case on Monday.

Three weeks previously, her blood pressure had (75% of the time) begun shooting very high(over 200 systolic) in the early morning hours(4 am ish). Over 200 systolic is stroke danger level. Her BP would go to normal levels when she got up and started moving around.

Her BP also (40% of the time) begun going very low(under 100 systolic) in the early evening hours( 8 pm ish).

Before her BP went wacky, Mom was taking:
5 mg Lisinopril @ 7a
25 mg Toprol @ 7a

This dosage slowly increased, and changed around in timing, from 9/8 through 9/18, eventually becoming this dosage:
10 mg Lisinopril @ 7a
50 mg Toprol @ 8p

Despite the changes in dosages and timing, Mom's wacky BP numbers never leveled off.

Dr. Johnson ordered this for Monday:

10 mg Lisinopril 7a(already taken when he saw Mom)
5 mg Lisinopril 8p
50 mg Toprol 8p

7a Tuesday: BP was 171/73. Yea!

Dr. Johnson ordered this for Tue and Wed:
5 mg Lisinopril 7a
25 mg Toprol 7a
5 mg Lisinopril 8p
25 mg Toprol 8p

Mom's BP went extremely high Wed 6a, and Wed 10p(she had been sleeping since 7:30p). Thursday 6a was better: 184/80.

Dosage for Thus:
5 mg Lisinopril 7a
25 mg Toprol 7a
10 mg Lisinopril 8p
25 mg Toprol 8p

Mom's BP for Fri morning was perfect. She will continue the current dosages through the weekend.

No one knows the origin of the problem. The problem is not a clogged shunt - Mom would be experiencing headaches if that were the case. The problem is unlikely to be cardiac: Mom had cardiac testing done at both Harris-Methodist, and at Baylor. Her cardiology is normal for a 70 year old woman.

Mom has been taking low doses of BP medication for some years. To me, it is disturbing that the problem suddenly arose - after her BP had been staying in the normal range for months. It is further disturbing that the BP would go both very low and very high. It is further disturbing that the BP goes high when she is sleeping/laying horizontally.

I don't know if the genesis of the problem will ever be diagnosed. It could be an undetectable abberation which is generated in her brain. I will, when next I speak w/Dr. Johnson, question him more rigorously about the genesis of the problem, and about whether he believes he will ever determine what the genesis is -- versus simply jiggering with the medication, until the BP readings are under control.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Got Nuthin

Computer is goofing up again.

Digital Camera is broken.

All this equals yuck for the Nancy Update.

Plus, I got nuthin. My playtime - instead of being spent with the Nancy Update, has been spent daydreaming about effective offensive and defensive schemes for the 2nd and 3rd Grade Fitchburg(WI) NFL Sponsored Football League. They play 5 kids on a side; outlaw blocking, shotgun snaps, and pitchouts; can only rush from a start 7 yards off the scrimmage line; and rotate kids through every postition on the field. As you can see, coaching in this league presents a challenge!

Mom got to her beloved Internal Medicine Dr. yesterday. He is tweaking her blood pressure medication over today and tomorrow, and will reconsider his course of action after seeing her BP readings over these days. Her BP has been mysterious: too high in the mornings, too low in the evenings. I'll let you know how things go.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mascots and Blood Pressure

Thursday night, Mom and I ate delicious catfish in Howe, TX, which is just north of Van Alstyn, which is just north of Anna. We saw football games and football practices all along our drive to the restaurant - which got me wondering about the mascot of Howe High School - which clearly ought to be the "Now Brown Cows", as in:

"In other scores: Celina Bobcats - 21, Howe Now Brown Cows - 24. Congratulations, Now Brown Cows!"

What is the Howe High School mascot?
wait for it...

Sigh. There may not be a bulldog within a 30 mile radius of Howe High School. OTOH, now brown cows are all over the place.

Mom is experiencing high blood pressure: over 200 systolic, when she sleeps. When she sits up, her blood pressure goes back to normal levels. Her medication has been tweaked, but has not yet reduced the sleeping/horizontal systolic readings. We don't know what physical condition is causing the problem. Worrisome.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Debutant Ball

(Cook Children's Hospital, circa 1959, corner of present day Henderson St. and Lancaster Ave. Mom worked at this hospital.)

Like a 70 year old debutant, Mom presented herself to the public on Saturday night, at Jeremy's Friends' Charity Auction, benefiting Cook Children's Hospital.

Mom arrived fashionably late. As a heartfelt story about loving care was related at the front of the room, Mom made a slow-motion, grand entrance from the back of the room, accepting hugs and kisses along the way. Resplendent in fresh coif, pearl earrings, black blouse with bangles, and black pants, she maneuvered her walker through the crowd, and to a chair at one of the family tables. Stuffed mushrooms were consumed. Charity money was raised. A good time was had by all.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Milestone Shifts

Several mornings ago, when Mom awoke, she began to watch out for her own safety in a way she had not before. No longer did she impulsively, if only occasionally, act in ways which endangered her. Something shifted - as seamlessly as it had weeks before, when Mom began swallowing effectively. Mom has since demonstrated, over a good number of consecutive days, that she can function independently and safely. If she is still a threat to make dangerous action choices, I cannot see it.

This is an improvement in short-term memory. It is tangible evidence that Mom's neurology is improving in that area. It is encouraging that Mom has made this improvement less than 5 months out from her injury.

Further, though the post below mentions the amazing, infallible chocolate sheet cake, it does not mention Mom's command of the kitchen as she cooked it. She did not meekly implement the recipe. She ruled the kitchen, with self-assurance and mastery. It was gratifying to watch.

Further further: as she ruled the kitchen, Mom stood for long minutes - maybe 10-15 minutes total, without holding onto anything for balance. She was holding onto spoons, bowls, and spatulas - but she was not using them to prop herself upright. Her balance is improving.

I've said Mom's physical strength is returning, and that her biggest remaining obstacles are short-term memory, and balance. There are smaller, subtler neurological obstacles to overcome - but they are just that: smaller. With her short-term memory and her balance showing good improvement, there is no reason to think the smaller obstacles will not also be conquered. Mom's outlook is quite bright. Gleaming, even.

Heartfelt thanks for: the prayers, God's grace, the body's ability to heal itself, 4 1/2 hours per day of neuro-cognitive therapy, 1 1/2 hours per day of physical/occupational therapy, the supportive and loving staff at Pate Rehabilitation, and supportive and loving family and friends.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Infallible Cake

Mom baked a chocolate sheet cake for the Pate Rehab Dessert Contest. The cake only rose to about 2/3 proper height during baking. Mom said, "This is a cake failure. This happens sometimes. I guess I'll go ahead and put the icing on anyway." Her cake failure still earned her the contest's second place ribbon, out of about 25 entrants. Her entire cake failure was devoured during the contest party, with none left over for me. :(

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Jake Report

Jake will be marching with the UNT Marching Band, at Royal Memorial Stadium(above), tomorrow morning. The Austin game is a road trip hors d'eouvre. The real meat comes in trips to Akron, Lafayette, and Monroe!

Note: ESPN II will broadcast tape of the DCI Finals on Tuesday, Sept 5, beginning at 7:00 PM CDT. Jake marched with the Concord Blue Devils, who finished in Third Place, out of 24 Division I Bands.

Jake is in a weird marching band place. He loved his summer, but he doesn't have the competitive band drive to do drum corps again next summer. Meantime, he is accustomed to the precision marching which is achieved by practicing 8 to 10 hours per day, and he is impatient with the UNT Marching Band's inferior level of excellence. So, Jake doesn't want to practice 8-10 hours a day, but he wants his band to display that level of excellence. He has set himself up for dissatisfaction.

Jake says it's difficult to explain to people what he did during the summer. They tend to think he is exaggerating his storytelling. He's left to protest: "No, really, we travelled all over the nation, and we played in front of tens of thousands of people. It was major cool. I swear." Audience: "Suuure it was. We believe you. Suuure we do." Jake: "No, really, we had high school groupie girls and everything!" Audience: "Suuure you did."

Jake's backpack, containing his MP3 player, was stolen during a tour stop early in the summer. As he travelled all over the nation, playing his drum corps instrument: Euphonium, this is what he missed the most:

1) His trombone
2) His guitar
3) His music(CD's + Computer/MP3 collection of music)

Oh, and wait, his Mom, his Grandmothers, and his family!! Wouldn't want to leave those out! Whew.