Care Givers Blog

Familiy Care Givers Now - Caring for Family

Keep Hope Alive

My Mom had a stroke in 2005 and from that time to the present, she has shared with me that she wants to walk again.  You see, she lost the ability to control her left side in her stroke.  The doctors went as far as to say that she has 'left-side deficit" - she doesn't notice that her left side is there.  over the years, she has made a conscious effort to recognize her left side.  And we do exercises and techniques that make her use her left side in her daily activities.

Her CNA's love her and they have for years.  They see my Mom as a sweet, gentle, funny old lady who needs help with her chocolate addiction.  I know my Mom is all of these things but I also know that she is more.  She is tough.  She is determined.  She is wise, cunning and highly intelligent.  When she worked for the US Government, her bosses boss was the Attorney General of the United States.  You don't just coast by on good looks and a smile at that level of the government.  I knew her when.  So, I can push her and I can motivate her.  And she can do the same for me. Even though most of her attempts to support me seem like sabotages to what I am trying to accomplish (but that's for another blog). 

My Mom gained some skills in rehab after her stroke.  She was able to walk with a hemi walker.  A hemi walker is like a cane but it has 4 legs that fold out on the bottom.  But when she came home from rehab, no one got her out of bed to practice walking with her and she lost the ability.  Her leg atrophied.  Her muscles got tight.  Her left foot won't touch the ground.  Daily stretching can help loosen things up.  But it hasn't brought her back to where she used to be.  And with her CNA's being so in love with her, she gets little to no practice at things that will help make her stronger.  As a group, they think it is easier for her to get dressed laying down.  When she sits up, they whisk her into her wheelchair.  I take a different approach.  I have her sit on the side of the bed to get dressed so that she gets the practice of holding herself up unassisted.  Building up her stamina.  And when we do a transfer from the bed to the chair, we stand, pivot and sit.  If she doesn't help in the process, the process stops and we start over.  Even sitting back in her wheelchair is different.  The girls will lift her from behind, under her arms.  I will stand in front of her and support her back while she pushes herself back in the chair.  We leave one foot rest off of the chair so that she can propel herself through the house.  But the girls will still push her from room to room.  So the cushy life that she leads is taking away her ability to do things for herself.  At this point, she is winded after standing for 10 seconds.  Her brain tells her "You have to sit down!!!".

So, she gets a shot at rehab about once a year.  She sets a goal.  She gets 30 days to try to make progress towards that goal.  And in 30 days if significant gains are not made, her rehab has to end and she can re-apply in 6 months.  It's very disheartening, frustrating and very sad.  It's hard to frame it up for her too so that it doesn't seem like a failure.  This is what it is like when using Medicare benefits for rehabilitation services.

For years, I have been trying to find a physical therapist who would work private.  Or one who would work private and make home visits.  Or a personal trainer who would help at home with strength training.  Because of her cushy life, my Mom really does like getting some good physical activity in.  She enjoys the foot and hand bikes.  She enjoys practicing standing using the kitchen sink.  But she will fight you on a walk around the block.  She will say she wants to go and by the time we are 2 houses away, she's ready to come back.  There's nothing better than a busy day when she can fall asleep by 10pm because she is tired from doing things all day.

So, this past week, we attended a luncheon for stroke survivors and there was a presentation by a company called CORE.  They specialize in helping people get back from paralysis to walking unassisted and other improvements in daily living.  They believe that with lots of practice and cues being sent to the brain from a number of different sources, the body will remember how to function in it's original state.  So, every visit to CORE is work!  Work that leads to a goal.  A goal that is attainable.  And you can work at it as long as it takes. They are private pay at $90 per hour-long session.  Mommy can see the benefits of going.  She has agreed to take a tour.  But she hasn't decided whole-heartedly that she is ready to do it.  Because she can see that it will be work.  But once she sees all of the buff physiologists there, I think she will be on board.  She responds so much better and will try harder if she knows a cute guy is counting on her to succeed. Go figure!

I am so hopeful for her future.  I would love to see her reach her goal.  Most of the time, when there is big change, there is big resistance from some area to try to stop the big blessing from happening.  I am on the lookout.  But this time, she can have her dream.  She will have to work for it.  But it can be hers.  I have had visions already of her standing and taking steps again. This will help all of us who come in contact with her.  It will make some areas of care easier.  It will make her world bigger again with fewer limits.  It may mean that I will have to hide the sugar-free chocolates better in the house too.  And she will be a walking testimony to encourage so many.

I look forward to sharing her journey with you.