Happy New Year’s Eve, to all of you close family and friends!
Robbie and I woke up early to get to the hospital in time to have breakfast with dad (~8am), before Hunter came around 11. We’re all catching on that my dad is most “with it” in the morning. By the early afternoon he’s drowsy from all the pain medicine, and tired from the day of rehab, tests, bad food, and meetings with the hospital staff.
As his neurologist, Ky remarked today, my dad’s facial paralysis has improved from earlier in the week. He’s feeding himself more successfully, and has been spilling less and less each day. His speech has also improved considerably, and he’s no longer mumbling as indecipherably as he was in the days following his surgery.
Because of his move to the ICU from rehab, he hasn’t received as much speech therapy, PT, and OT as we imagined. I asked his nurse, Nothi (my dad’s favorite RN at the moment) if it was possible for him to get in some PT/OT/speech therapy time in today, and he was able to meet briefly with these specialists throughout the day. This is really important for my dad to establish a sense of normalcy after he leaves the hospital. Right now, if he were to go back home, his physical support would have to compensate for 75% of his deficit. We’re all hoping that he’ll be able to transition smoothly, but at the moment we don’t know how that will play out, as he’s spending the recovery time reserved for rehab in the ICU (due to his brain swelling).
His physician mentioned that the swelling likely decreased due to the steroid they were giving him, as well as the IV saline solution. She mentioned that she recommended a decrease in the saline to try to get him out of the ICU and into transitionary care, to be returned to rehab as soon as possible. Unfortunately, later this afternoon my dad complained of pain worse than he had experienced in the ICU. This period was intense, according to my mom who was there during this time. The team took another CT scan of his brain to determine how the swelling had changed since his last scan two days ago, and determined that it was likely due to the fact that his saline levels had dropped too low today (my dad naturally has relatively low saline levels, which explains the need to supplement). Back to the saline drip, it is! If and when dad moves back to rehab, they can give him saline supplements to make up for his low levels.
While Hunter and Shingo were visiting, my dad had a session with his physical therapist. They spent about five minutes working on his walking. These were definitely baby steps – my dad has significant loss of nerve control on his entire left side, and his balance is thrown off from the tumor and surgery – but he took small steps, with Hunter and his physical therapist supporting both of his sides. We’re optimistic that one day he’ll be able to walk with the support of a cane.
Each day my dad notes his emotional state on a scale from one to ten. Today, he was a “solid eight”, at least until his pain increased dramatically in the late afternoon.
On the home front, we received a bountiful and generous delivery of local produce and other groceries from Good Eggs thanks to my dear friend, Gavin. With these gems, Robbie, Hunter, and I prepared a colorful NYE dinner. More and more thanks go to Shingo for the continued visits and time he spends with my dad, as well as the rest of us. Thank you to Stevie, Melanie, Matt, and Will for the upcoming dinner coming our way – we wish you were close enough to share your company. Finally, to Aden, Dan, and Britton: wow, humbled and spoiled by your generous gift of a spa visit (!).
Everyone, I cannot emphasize enough how important and nourishing this community is for my dad, as well as the rest of us. We are so grateful for your daily efforts of concern and support.
Wishing you all a warm, happy new year.
Mikaela & co.