Look what was in my mailbox yesterday! This is from my health insurance company. They had sent me a questionnaire a few weeks ago, wondering if I was still quit, how many setbacks I had (zero!), whether and how I used their services. I never expected that I'd get a Certificate of Achievement -- and a gift!
Take a closer look (click for big, as always) -- it's no gold watch, but have you ever seen a more adorable keychain calculator? What is it about miniatures -- miniature anything -- that appeals so much? I doubt that I'll put it on my keychain, but it will fit perfectly into my knitting tool/gadget box.
* * * * *
Michael was with it even more last night. He passed swallow test #2 with flying colors, so the trach has been removed and he is on a diet of soft foods, which apparently includes chicken breast (lunch), meatloaf and green beans (dinner), along with the usual suspects (applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes). His diet is supplemented with tube feedings yet, 'til there is no question about his tolerance for solid food and to make sure he's getting the nourishment he needs. He's lost at least 20 pounds these last few weeks.
There was a full day of therapies yesterday, with a slightly reduced schedule today. He was able to recall and tell us about activities during the day and who visited or called. He's also becoming more and more frustrated with his situation -- he referred to the hospital as a prison yesterday, and is very uncomfortable in the brace/collar -- and what a pain in the ass to get in and out of that full brace. One of the worst parts and a huge frustration is that he can't look down. When dinner was brought in last night, Mom asked him if it smelled good and he said that it sure did, but he wished he could see it. He also complained of a stiff neck. Poor little brother. I'm afraid the biggest challenge in the next few weeks is going to be keeping his spirits up. Any and all suggestions for making this phase more tolerable are most welcome. ; )
Posted by: Lauren | 25 March 2006 at 10:11 AM
Congrats on the attention from your health insurance company! We don't have to deal with stuff like that here in Canada (don't know if that is bad or good). Mike sounds like he is doing well. Perhaps you could get him an I Pod with his favourite music on it; then he would lean back (instead of forward). Could you bring in movies for him to watch (perhaps the TV can be high enough he doesn't have to strain). Or even books on diskettes. It is going to be mind numblingly boring for a bit for him and the restraints and restrictions he may never get used to. Think of things to string from the ceiling - mobiles, airplanes, anything so he doesn't have to look at a white ceiling all the time. I would also arrange hand and foot massages (around whatever impediments there are) with lavender scented oil (or some other soothing type). Hope these help...good luck!
Posted by: Cynthia | 25 March 2006 at 10:16 AM
Congrats on quitting! And that is the cutest little calculator!
I just can't believe it every time I read about how much better Michael is doing! How wonderful! Cynthia above has so many good suggestions...and I can't think of anymore at the moment. Perhaps reading to him? Can he have sweets, that are soft? Like chocolates?
Posted by: jillian | 25 March 2006 at 10:53 AM
That really is a nice little gesture from the ins. co. !
I'd say the biggest thing for Michael would be what you guys are already doing -- keeping him company...and letting him complain when he needs to, while at the same time not letting him fall into a habit of being a chronic complainer, you know? You wouldn't want his personality to become THAT. ;-)
So exhausting for you all.
Posted by: Norma | 25 March 2006 at 11:03 AM
Hi- I've been following your brother's story since the accident. I am so happy that he's doing so much better.
Norma's comment is exactly what I would recommend. My brother broke his back in a rappelling accident, and was stuck in a brace for a few months. We called it his turtle shell. It was extremely hard for him to go from being a very active, athletic 21 year old, to not being able to do his normal biking, running, playing football with the guys... His accident happened the weekend after I started college. We were living in the same dorm, and I found that just being there for him, to hear his worries (which were many), to physically helping him (with the brace, the dressings on his injured hand), to just letting him know that everything would work out, helped him get past the accident and move on to healing.
My brother fully recovered from his accident, and once again is worrying our mom with his love for scuba diving, snowboarding and biking. No more rappelling, though. We did become closer after his accident- I met the ambulance at the hospital, and just held his hand when he was on the backboard, scared, waiting to find out if he would be paralyzed. Not the best way to build a relationship, but he knew that I would be there for him. That's one of the best things you can do.
Sorry for the novel- I just have been thinking of those scary weeks for my family, even though it's now been almost 14 years. Love the massage idea Cynthia had; maybe choose some essential oils that he likes, or that can be relaxing/calming for him. That might feel heavenly.
Best wishes for his recovery!
(Oh, congrats on the one year milestone! Way to go!)
Posted by: Gretchen | 25 March 2006 at 12:30 PM
Go Vicki! Go Michael!
Posted by: Leslie, Richmond, Va. USA | 25 March 2006 at 05:10 PM
How cool to get a present! As for Michael, I'm not sure. The music idea is good but the books on CD might be overwhelming for him right now. How about stuff on the ceiling for him to look at? It sounds corny but maybe it would help.
Posted by: Carole | 25 March 2006 at 05:46 PM
Maybe some posters of warm vacation spots taped to the ceiling, or high on the opposite wall. Maybe some travel videos from the library? Otherwise, what everyone else said. Especially the massages. Personal touch can help the healing process so much!
I don't know if your brother really likes kids, but when my grandparents were in the hospital/nursing home, the lit up so much when the little ones came to visit. Maybe that too?
Oh, this is so exciting! I'm so glad he's doing so well! We're still praying!
Posted by: Amy Lu | 25 March 2006 at 07:05 PM
Calculaters are a must in the knitting notions. It is cute and how nice of them to acknowledge the accomplishment.
The challenge will be doing what he needs to do (rest) to let his body heal. Clearly he needs to learn to knit...kidding. Would an iPod with books and/or music help. Can he play a game boy?
Posted by: margene | 25 March 2006 at 07:27 PM
Read him these comments and all the things people have wished for him. Have him dictate stories or thoughts to you for later. Books on tape. DVDs of his favorite (uplifiting) movies. All the things you would do for any one of us if we were in this situation.
As for the gift from the insurance company - those are some "good hands".
Posted by: Deb | 25 March 2006 at 08:32 PM
what a great calculator - and yay for the insurance company for recognizing your achievment!
Posted by: ann & cara | 25 March 2006 at 10:13 PM
I am glad he is improving. I hope he continues to do so rapidly!
Posted by: Stacie | 25 March 2006 at 10:56 PM
You could take funny pics and post them on the ceiling. Keep them regularly swapped out so that he has a surprise when he wakes up. When my grandfather had a stroke, we took a big white posterboard (but how fun would a cool bright color be!) and put pics of each of us along with a message written in big Sharpie so he could see it across the room.
Books on tape are awesome if he's into that type of stuff...if he's never read Harry Potter, get those on tape. I promise he'll enjoy them even if he doesn't think that he will.
Posted by: Melissa | 26 March 2006 at 08:48 AM
There must be support groups for people in Michael's situation, where you could find ideas for keeping up one's spirits. I'm sur e that everyone in his situation goes through this. Have you considered books on tape/CD for him? If he can't look down, he can't read. But books on tape/cd might be just the thing. He seems to have made fabulous progress that he probably doensn't understand or appreciate. Congratulations to him on his progress and to his loved ones for being such good support team members.
Posted by: gail | 26 March 2006 at 03:58 PM
Getting a certificate is so great! Tangible evidence of your achievement (other than...well, you know...breathing better).
I was catching up on your posts and I am so happy to see the leaps and bounds your brother is making in his recovery!
Posted by: JessaLu | 26 March 2006 at 10:13 PM
Get your brother a grabber. While he is in his turtle he will need one. My dad broke his back last fall and wore his brace for several months. The grabber is an metal pole extension with pinchers on the end so he can get things for himself. It will give him the ability to get things for himself not only in the hospital room, but when he's home and he drops something. Take care!
Posted by: Cindy B | 27 March 2006 at 10:17 AM