Saturday, December 29, 2012

#LICENSE TO DRIVE

SHHEEEEE's BAAAACCCCKKK! Watch out world, Elaine is back. Today she received official word from her driving instructor that she is authorized to drive.

What a HUGE day! Driving is something that we take for granted. A freedom to which we have grown accustomed. That all changed for Elaine on January 27th. Priorities shifted. It was more to important to survive. Then the focus was on getting her brain to work. Then she mastered walking. Everyday, there was a new challenge. Of course, driving remained implanted in the back of her mind as the one thing that equaled independence. That independence could easily be boiled down to the freedom to go where she wanted when she wanted. Well, now she has that freedom, that independence.

If she wants to go the grocery store several times a day (like she used to), she can. If she wants a coffee, she can jump in the car and drive over to Starbucks. If it is workout time, she can head over to the gym. She is unencumbered. The chain to her house is broken. We cannot overstate how proud of her we are. This truly is a huge achievement for Elaine and represents one of the largest, most concrete steps toward recovery that she has taken.

Congratulations Elaine! We are so proud of you! Be safe out there!



Thursday, December 27, 2012

#308

Unlike the night before, the Smith household was sleepless in Newport last night. That is a tough way to start the day, but they fought through it. Elaine was able to drive her OWN car today for the first time in almost a year. She was SO excited and she drove great. After three or four more lessons, she will be ready to drive on her own. They practice by driving her most likely routes - the gym, Starbucks, the mall, the grocery store, etc.

After driving, Fred came back home to take Elaine to lunch but she was too tired. So, instead she took a much deserved nap. Then, she headed to Pilates. Unfortunately, her arm was incredibly sore today after yesterday's intense workout. She spent the time stretching, a little STEM, and some lower body exercises. The Pilates instructor LOVES working with Elaine because she loves how hard Elaine works and how hard she has worked to get where she is today. The instructor is big on tough love so she wants Elaine to be more independent (and not have Fred help her so much).

This afternoon, Staci and the kids came by to visit. As usual, they were so happy to see Nammie and Ampa. They noticed that Elaine looks great - more like herself than ever before!




Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#307

The Smith house slept well and had a good day! Elaine and Fred were up early to do Elaine's arm exercises and balance work. She continues to improve, and she sees the improvement!! Then she headed out for her last day in the "student driver" car. She did great and went out on the freeway again. Tomorrow, the instructor has decided that they will go out in her car, which she hasn't driven in almost a year. She is feeling really excited. Her biggest challenge is incorporating her left hand into the action. She still reaches over to use her right hand to hit the turn signal, but today she actually recognized that she was doing it, which is a big step. Elaine is really excited to be out on the roads and anxiously awaiting her freedom behind the wheel!

After her morning of driving, she relaxed for a few hours before going to Pilates. She worked a lot on her arm, increasing her mobility and doing weights and pulleys. The instructor told her she was in for a big day, and Elaine was feeling sore after it. She was excited to do more challenging,  "advanced" (Elaine's buzz word) exercises. We are hoping she won't be to sore tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

#306

Merry Christmas! We hope everyone had a wonderful day spent with family and friends. Fred and Elaine spent the afternoon at the Francois house, and we had a wonderful day. Elaine was a bit emotional, going from laughing to crying quite often. We are all so grateful to be celebrating Christmas with her, and so proud at how far she has come in this year. She continues to make huge strides towards getting back to normal. Each day she is moving a little quicker, walking more confidently, being more independent, and getting and closer and closer to "normal." She is certainly our Christmas miracle and blessing!

This week, she continues on with therapy and more driving practice. Her driving instructor, like everyone else, loves working with her and is very surprised by her progress. We have learned by now that nothing she does surprises us.

We are counting down to 2013, anxiously awaiting its arrival! Our thoughts are prayers are also with Ben's dad tonight, who went into the hospital with pneumonia tonight. We are sending our healing thoughts and love to him for a speedy recovery!


Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Monday, December 24, 2012

#305


It was like old times today at the Smith house. Elaine spent the past couple of days preparing her traditional Christmas Eve meal. We all stuffed ourselves on homemade brisket, rolls, twice baked potatoes, corn, and the Smith family traditional Peppermint Ice Box dessert. Elaine took it one step further and cleaned up after dinner! She is back in action - driving and cooking and cleaning. It was exactly what we wished for Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Smith and Francois families! We hope you are able to spend this time with your friends and family. We are certainly grateful that we are able to celebrate Elaine for being here and Fred for being her champion!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

#304

December 22, 1978. Christi T. Smith was born 36 years ago today. December 22nd is always an emotional day at the Smith house. This year was no different. Fred and Elaine spent this day (as they do everyday) thinking about Christi.

There is no appropriate transition from Christi, so we will just move on awkwardly to the next subject: Elaine driving! First, we want to give a big shout out to Fred who took the initiative and found the driving instructor (in the yellow pages, no less). That is what really started Elaine back on the road to the . . .well, the road.

Elaine was a star on the road today. She made significant progress and even drove on the freeway. What a huge accomplishment after only few hours behind the wheel. After her time with the instructor, Elaine took Fred for a drive around the neighborhood. No surprise, he was extremely impressed.

Elaine also spent time at Pilates today. Her teacher was so impressed with how well she is doing. The teacher speaks from a position of experience. Her son had a stroke when he was 34 so she knows the struggles that stroke patients go through. So, it was even more encouraging to hear her supportive words. The teacher also Elaine know that her shoulder was looser than ever and even achieved the elusive 180 degrees!

Elaine showed the Pilates teacher what toughness is all about today. At one point, Elaine had a what is known as a stinger in her shoulder - literally scar tissue tearing. Elaine fought through the pain to continue her workout. She added another person who she will inspire with her determination.

After all that, Elaine morphed into Betty Crocker for the afternoon. Elaine has always hosted Christmas Eve at her home and this December 24th will be no different. She worked non-stop in the kitchen this afternoon to prepare the brisket and the world-famous peppermint ice box dessert. We are all so proud of her resiliency (and we are excited for the brisket and the dessert)!

In Fred news, he went to the doctor for his pre-op consultation. Everything is on track for his procedure on January 3rd. We will keep you updated if anything changes.

Quick note on the bracelets. Thank you to Pat who has dropped off a few orange ETS - FLS bracelets at the fitness center at the Vintage for those of you who were requesting new ones!





Thursday, December 20, 2012

#303

It has been eventful several days at the Smith house. Fred had a pre-op MRI the other day. All went well (even if there was a little surprise for the patient).

The big event of the day was Elaine's driving lesson. Although the instructor didn't plan on leaving the gates of Big Canyon, he was sufficiently impressed with Elaine's driving that soon they were cruising the streets of Newport. She was (almost) an expert driver! She need to work on keeping both hands on the wheel and using her left hand for her blinker (as opposed to reaching across the steering wheel with her right). The next lesson is tomorrow and we expect Elaine to excel again!

After driving, Fred and Elaine went to Taylor's Christmas show then were off to Pilates and Gyro. They are certainly connected at the hip!



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

#301

Today's post is about Elaine's continued exceptional progress with therapy and Pilates. Her Pilates instructor is so encouraged by Elaine's determination. They worked hard today at getting Elaine's left arm (Little Darlin') back into the mix. The instructor thinks that Elaine needs to continue move her arm and shoulder in regular daily life.

With that in mind, Elaine will be wearing a splint at night while she sleeps to prevent her arm from folding toward her body. While she is awake, she will focus on keeping her arm straight while walking and working to continuously spread out her fingers.

All of this will help Elaine achieve her instructor's goal of getting Elaine back on the golf course this summer! We know that Elaine will work harder than anyone toward that goal!

Thanks to all of those who requested orange and pink bracelets. We will send a few to the fitness center at the Vintage for those of you down in the desert. They should be there by Friday or Saturday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

#300

We have a new shipment of bracelets in that celebrate Elaine AND Fred. Orange bracelet (for Fred) and pink writing (for Elaine). If you want your own FLS / ETS bracelet, email Staci at stacifrancois@mac.com.



Elaine and Fred came over for dinner tonight. After they left, we were talking about just how wonderful Elaine looks. She looks more like her old self than she has since January! It is great to see her looking so beautiful.

Her strength is coming back extraordinarily quickly as well. One of her exercises is to stand up from a chair only using the muscles in her legs. Two weeks ago she literally couldn't stand up without using her arms. Today, she did 21 reps in one minute. Then, she showed off some more after dinner (check out the video below).



Sunday, December 16, 2012

#299

This is a week when we have tragically been reminded of the fragility of life and how the world can be suddenly and violently upended. In 2012, we learned important and permanent lessons that are worth repeating following the tragedy in Connecticut.

1. Never take life for granted. It can be taken from you in an instant and when you least expect it.
2. Since #1 is true, use the time you have wisely. Make sure that your family and friends know you love them.
3. Those family members and friends can and will provide remarkable levels of support and love whenever you need them.
4. You can choose to let your situation rule you or you can choose to rule your situation. It takes time and exceptional levels of determination and pain, but things can get better.

Of course, we recognize the significance of this tragedy. The wounds inflicted on the families of Sandy Hook will not heal quickly or cleanly. All we can do is offer our thoughts and prayers to them as they mourn and gradually make an attempt at recovery.


Fred and Elaine are back from the desert after a very fun and busy week. They enjoyed seeing so many good friends for dinners and Elaine had several lunches with the ladies. We are so grateful to all of their friends for caring. They feel so lucky to have you all in their lives. The Francois family was happy to see them today and give them hugs. We had fun playing games and then joining them at True Foods for their Sunday dinner. It should come as no surprise that they are loved at True Foods too. The car pulls up and the valets are racing to get to Elaine's door first and walk her into the restaurant. The hostess lights up when she sees them walk in the door. Fred and Elaine are very loved, and very deserving of all the love.





Monday, December 10, 2012

#298

A quick update. Fred and Elaine are both doing great. Fred is recovering from what turned out to be an infection from his biopsy. He has a very uncomfortable and painful last week, but is finally feeling better after some intense antibiotics. As to be expected, it is quite rare to get an infection from the biopsy, but the Smith's manage to get those rarities. Never a dull moment!

Fred and Elaine went to the desert on Friday after therapy for a week. Elaine is doing great. Her mobility is increasing and even better news, she isn't having much pain in her shoulder. Fred is as dedicated as Elaine is to the exercises, making sure she does them correctly, twice a day. She has started up with some piliates as well and is really enjoying that. She especially loves her independence in the desert when she can jump in her golf cart. Fred and Elaine had a chipping and putting contest yesterday. Fred edged her out in the chipping after Elaine mounted a major comeback, but Elaine got him on the putting green. Get those dollars ready ladies! Elaine was thrilled to be out there chipping, and chomping at the bit to get on the course again. We have no doubt that she will be out there again, sooner rather than later.

Elaine's Coumadin level has been a bit of a challenge over the last month, since her hospitalization. It appears to have stabilized. It has been trial and error but it seems that her diet, and eating green leafy vegetables might be wreaking havoc on her levels. She has been avoiding salads and it seems to be working. Fred doesn't have to prick her very tender fingers again until Thursday, which thrills them both!

I know people are having some trouble getting in touch with Fred and Elaine. Their email address did change a few months ago.
fred@fredsmith25.com
elaine@fredsmith25.com




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#297

Elaine had another good day. They woke up this morning and went right to work on her new exercises. It took her about 45 minutes to complete them, both times they did they. It went really well. Fred felt like it was even better than yesterday with the therapist. Fred also was feeling much better this afternoon, so all is well in the Smith house. Elaine was very busy decorating today. She has their beautiful tree up, the stockings hung by the chimney with care, and the sweet smell of Christmas in the house. She is even getting antsy to make Christmas cookies already. You can tell she is feeling better:)

The Smith Family hosted the Francois Family for dinner tonight, Taco Tuesday. It was delicious and the kids were so excited to be over at Nammie and Ampa's house. Elaine showed us how she is able to walk on her toes, her left foot too. It was great to witness, especially since we have seen the drastic improvements first hand. Elaine even went upstairs to play with the kids. When she was at the top of the stairs ready to come down, she paused. Christi said, "wait, mom will help you!" She didn't wait, though. She made her way down the stairs very easily on her own. Yet another encouraging sign. Those stairs looked so daunting so that long ago! Elaine was sore from all her new exercises tonight but excited.



The Francois Family is headed to New York tomorrow through the weekend, so don't be alarmed if you don't see a post, actually just know that things are going well. No news is good news in this case:) We thank you all for your continued support. We were all overwhelmed by the emails and texts we received about missing the blog. So, despite our threats to tone it down, while it might be less frequent, we will be updating. Our deepest and most sincere thank you for caring to you all!

Monday, December 3, 2012

#296

Elaine has had a good week. She really got a lot of rest over the weekend, and that helps her out so much mentally and physically. Sunday morning, Ben and Brian dropped off bagels and coffee. Brian reached for Nammie and she grabbed him and held him. He was so excited that she was holding him. He cuddled on her shoulder and just laid there. It was really neat. We all went back over later in the afternoon and Elaine was dancing to Christmas music with Brian and transferring weight to each foot. It was so much fun to watch! We all feel like she has had a week of noticeable improvements.

We aren't the only ones that felt that way. Diane continues to be impressed with Elaine's shoulder and arm. She is able able to do so much more with her arm and her shoulder is much more mobile. Her muscles are still weak, and she needs to work on her muscle tone now that she has such an increased range of motion. Elaine also has some new exercises to work on independently at home to strengthen her lower body, especially her left leg. This week she is going to focus on bridging, and sitting in a chair and standing up, not holding on to anything. This is something she was doing really well at before summer, and then she lost her confidence.

Today Fred and Elaine went to the orthopedic doctor. He gave Fred a shot in his knee. He couldn't believe how much Elaine had improved since last time he saw her. She is able to get weight on to her toes now when we walks. She still struggles with putting weight on her right heel. We know she will get it though. Its truly remarkable to see how far she has come. It seems like forever for Elaine, and we understand that, but she has made so much progress and continues to work so hard! She certainly has the most dedicated caretaker! Fred is going through a lot right now, and he continues to focus on Elaine. He has yet to feel sorry for himself. It is something we all think about daily, but Fred's courageous attitude keep us all calm. In a time when he should be leaning on us for support, he is the one keeping us calm as he continues to call himself "indestructible."

It always seems that we couldn't be more proud or impressed by Fred and Elaine. They keep us in awe everyday at their love, their commitment to each other, and support for each other. They are people we learn from daily and draw so much inspiration from. Life is constantly put in perspective. We all get bogged down by the day to day of life, but despite the challenges this year has presented for our family, we have learned so much about each other! We are inspired by the way Fred and Elaine have handled the hand they have been dealt, their unconditional love, the endless determination of Elaine, the ultimate cheerleader in Fred! When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

#295

We want to again say thank you so much for all the emails, calls, texts, prayers, and love we have received since Fred was diagnosed. He went to the doctor with Elaine and Richie (who is a prostate cancer survivor as well). Fred's Gleason score is a 7. It appears to be confined, although they won't know for sure until the surgery, and they will biopsy the nodes. The doctor is very confident that it is treatable and that Fred will be back to living his normal life soon.

Fred has scheduled his surgery for January 3rd. This is all much easier to digest, having more information, as well as a plan. The confidence that the doctor had put everyone more at ease as well. Fred has continued to handle this with bravery and courage. He is just like his wife!

We will continue to update the blog with any new information, and progress we have on either Fred or Elaine! It might not be daily, but don't be concerned that something has happened if we don't update. The best thing to do, if you haven't already, is to subscribe to the blog and then it will automatically email you when there is an update. If you have any problems, or aren't able to subscribe, please email me at stacifrancois@mac.com and I will try and help you. Thank you again and again for caring. It means to the world to us all and helps Fred and Elaine get through the bad days, and love celebrating the good ones!


Monday, November 26, 2012

#294

Elaine had a good day at therapy today! The therapist continues to be impressed with her progress and especially her hard work. Elaine was very tired today after getting to bed late last night. Her arm was also really painful and sore today. They came over to the Francois house for a quick and early dinner. Hopefully they are in bed sleeping soundly.

Fred goes to the doctor tomorrow afternoon,  so we will have more information tomorrow. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

#293

Fred and Elaine had a great last day in the desert. Elaine came out to watch Fred, Staci, and Ben play some very mediocre golf, and then joined them (and the kids) for a quick lunch. After that, it was back to work for Elaine. She has been pushing hard to get better and today was no exception - Sunday is not a day of rest for this champ. She headed to straight to the gym for some time on the bike and then Pilates - she really is a trooper!


After the workout, Elaine headed back to the house, not to get some rest, but to get packed up for the trip back to Newport. After getting her things together, Shirley dropped by for a visit. It was great to catch up! In fact, it was great for Fred and Elaine to catch up with many of their desert friends. They absolutely love being down there and being around such dear friends. Hopefully, they will get back down there soon!



Saturday, November 24, 2012

#292


Elaine and Fred felt much better today. They were able to take her blood this morning. Her Coumadin level is stable, so they don't have to take her blood again until Tuesday. She rode around with us on the golf course and even hits some chips around the green. She hit some great shots! We enjoyed a nice lunch with Hayley and Mynda before they left town. Hayley even drove Grandma to the gym in the golf cart. Elaine rode the bike and then went to pilates. She was feeling much better after stretching her body out. 



















Elaine's bruising on her right leg looks so much better as well. It was a good day, and we are always happy for the good days. We are all anticipating the week ahead, and what is to come for Fred. We continue to be very optimistic, and Fred is calm and collected.  Again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support for them both. It is appreciated so much!




Friday, November 23, 2012

#291

Yesterday was all about being thankful for the good things in our lives - oh yeah, and for overeating turkey, mashed potatoes, and desserts. Well, all that thankfulness can make a girl (and a guy) very tired.
Unfortunately, tired didn't mean sleepy for Fred. He was up most of the night and got out of bed very tired. Elaine was also tired from several days of entertaining grandchildren. Here they are making an attempt at drawing blood this morning. Due to Elaine's dehydration, they couldn't get a usable blood sample. It was just one of those days.



So today, they spent the day relaxing (with a golf cart ride with Brian mixed in). They even decided to eat in tonight; ordering pizzas to go and eating in their pajamas. They certainly deserve the rest. We hope they get a solid night of sleep tonight!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

#290

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and know that we are so thankful for all for your friendships, thoughts, prayers, and love!

Elaine had a wonderful day, although she was exhausted and in bed by 6:30 tonight. The day started with the morning blood draw in which Dr. Fred pricks Elaine's finger for her Coumadin level. It was 3.3 today, so its getting thicker. Ben and Christi headed off to turkey trot around the neighborhood, and the rest of us got ready. Elaine came out to watch Fred, Staci, Ben, and Freddy play golf today. She even walked 6 holes! She did great and it was so much fun to have it out there, although she wasn't very impressed with our games. She was coaching us all on our swing flaws, and reading Ben's putts for him. It was like the good old days seeing Elaine out of the fairway walking side by side with us. Fred was so sweet, never leaving Elaine's side, knowing that she could walk alone but so thankful that they were out there together. It was a wonderful way to start off Thanksgiving. Check out this video of Elaine hitting her first chips since June, and since her shoulder unfroze.




We hurried home so she could relax a little bit before we indulged in our Thanksgiving feast. We went over to the club for dinner and had a wonderful meal with Freddy and his family. We ate until we felt sick, and until Elaine could barely keep her eyes open. She looked stunning tonight, and hopefully sleeps well tonight.

It was a wonderful day spent with family. We have so much to be thankful for, and to celebrate.









Wednesday, November 21, 2012

#289

As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. Well, the Smith house has been on Storm Watch 2012 since the year started - and (unfortunately) the hits just keep on coming! We received Fred's biopsy results back yesterday, and he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

It is early, and the doctors are very optimistic. Fred, not surprisingly, has been incredibly courageous and strong. He is prepared to meet this head on, and there is no doubt will beat it! We are all together in the desert for the Thanksgiving holiday, and feel so lucky to be together. We are a force to be reckoned with, and no matter what they throw at us, we will beat it!

It's not something that Fred or Elaine needed right now, but we feel very fortunate that it was found so early. Fred has had an increasing PSA level over the past 6 months. The the doctor felt it was important to look into due to his family history. Thankfully Fred listened! We don't know much else. After Fred received the diagnosis, he didn't know what questions to ask or numbers to pay attention to. You hear that "C" word, and everything else turns to fuzz for a few minutes. He is going into on Tuesday to have more tests run, and to talk about options.

The truth is that Fred could have raised the white flag and surrendered to feelings of self-pity. It would be understandable if he wanted to ask, "Why me?" But he didn't do any of those things. Instead of focusing on the problem, he focused on the solution. He lined up the right doctors and went about educating himself so he knows what to ask and what the answers mean when he has his next appointment on Tuesday.

We could not be more proud of the way Fred has handled it, as well as Elaine. It wasn't the news we expected, but it is what it is. He still continues to shy away from any attention, or sympathy, saying that its nothing compared to what Elaine is going through. He said, "she is my inspiration." Elaine said, "I need to hurry and get better so I can take care of Fred, he needs me!"

It is inspiring and humbling to be around them. They draw strength from each other and their love is so pure. We aren't sure why bad things happen to good people, but we are choosing to see the good. The cancer was found early and it is curable. Elaine's stroke, along with all the other challenges over the past 10 months, could have gone very differently.

There is no doubt that I am not only blessed with the two best parents on earth, but that they are also fighters. They are my true heroes! They always have been, and they always will be! We will be here for them both, as we know all of you are, too. They are so grateful for their friends and family.

Fred and Elaine haven't sat around and felt sorry for themselves. We had a wonderful dinner with the whole Francois family last night. Today, Elaine rode around for 9 holes and watched us play golf. She spent the afternoon with their dear friends, the Brownsteins. They co-hosted a jewelry show for Callae, who is very talented, and also the doll we talk about who battled (and beat) brain cancer. It was a wonderful event and very fun afternoon! Tonight, the Smith family (Fred's son) came into town, and we had a nice dinner with them. Elaine is exhausted tonight, but she did rest this afternoon!




Monday, November 19, 2012

#288


Elaine is feeling good, but tired. She had a really fun day. She spent the morning with Mary. They went to get their hair blown dry and to lunch. They have been best friends since we moved to the desert! Elaine was so excited to be spending time with her. Elaine relaxed this afternoon. She was tried and a little confused today. She is having a very difficult time keeping track of time, or acknowledging time. She has always been so punctual, and Fred always runs 5 minutes ahead of time. They had dinner tonight with the Furman's!

Elaine's Coumadin level is still low, in the 1's. It needs to be between 2-3, and they prefer to error on the side of higher than lower. She is still on a double dose of blood thinners, but she is doing well! Hopefully they can get off "hospital" time and sleep past 5:30am this morning!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

#287

Elaine's Coumadin level fell all the way to 1.9 today. It was a rapid decrease from yesterday, but they treated it aggressively. This meant that Elaine and Fred were able to go home today! Elaine is feeling really good, still very bruised on her right leg, but she has good energy and is in great spirits. She said again tonight how happy she is to be in the desert.

She spent the afternoon with Mary. They walked to the Palm Court and back, enjoying lunch and some quality time together. Elaine was true to her word, and rested this afternoon as well. Its been a wild few days, but we are grateful that she is doing so well, and very thankful to her wonderful doctor! Fred's back is especially grateful to be sleeping in his own bed tonight!

They will test Elaine's blood every day to make sure that it gets back in the normal range of 2-3. She started her Coumadin again today as well as the Lovenox injections to thicken her blood up, and will take it a day at a time. She is doing great though! Thank you for all your care and concern!



Saturday, November 17, 2012

#286

First, thank you to all of you who are sending prayers and positive thoughts to Elaine. She is actually doing pretty well despite the thinness of her blood. Unfortunately, her INR level only dropped to 10 today (from 12; supposed to be 2-3).

The doctors decided it made the most sense to stay in the hospital another 24 hours to see if her INR level would drop to a more manageable level. Despite her condition, Elaine sounds great and is in remarkably good spirits - as are we knowing that she is alive after such a crazy day!

We have said it a lot of times, but we hope that both Fred and Elaine get some rest tonight at the hospital and that they get home as soon as it makes sense!

Friday, November 16, 2012

#285

Elaine woke up this morning ready for a "normal" day. Today was anything but normal! Fred was going to play golf, but there was a golf tournament at the Vintage so he took Elaine to her mammogram appointment this morning. Yesterday, Elaine woke up with this huge bruise on her left left, covering her thigh to her knee. We tried to figure out what happened, and nothing came to mind. They had a lovely dinner with the Blackmores last night, and went to bed. This morning the bruise was bigger and Elaine's leg was swollen. She also started have a little blood in her urine. She was having this pain in the back of her head for over a week now as well. We had gone to the doctor to check her head, and he said it was fine, but it was still weighing heavily on her mind.

Thankfully, Fred has his superhero cape on today and was VERY proactive! They went to the mammogram, and in the meantime, he had called her Newport internist to discuss what was going on with Elaine. Fred was settling for nothing less than seeing a doctor. After the mammogram, they headed over to the ER at Eisenhower. They did a blood panel and a scan of her brain. Thankfully, the brain scan came back completely normal. Unfortunately, the blood test showed that her Coumadin level was 12.9, which is considered critical. They immediately admitted her to the hospital, and started to thicken her blood. Her blood was so thin that had she bumped into anything, even softly, she could have internally bled to death. They have started her on vitamin K, and taken her off the Coumadin. They will check her levels again in the morning, and hopefully they will be able to go home tomorrow. I say "they" because Fred will not leave her side and insisted on staying with Elaine in the hospital. He undoubtedly saved her life tonight! I am personally so grateful for his unconditional love, her proactive behavior, and being the most unbelievable caretaker that anyone could possible ask for!



Make no mistake about it, today was very serious, however Elaine is stable and in going to be fine. Thank you Fred! Elaine is also fortunate to be under amazing care. Dr. Hackshaw once again came to our rescue! He was the doctor that talked Ben through the first few hours of Elaine's stroke over the phone, an opinion we value and trust.  He is a rarity in the medical field, someone who truly cares, and we are forever grateful to have him on our side as part of our team! Thank you so much!

A special thank you to Pat, who came to stay with Elaine while Fred went to change out of his shorts he started the day in. She is a true friend!  No one knew this day would bring this, but we feel so fortunate with the outcome. As we usually talk about progress, today we are grateful for Elaine to still be with us! She had many angels on her shoulder and we are so thankful!

Our deepest thoughts and love are with Mike and Diana tonight as well. Mike suffered a minor stroke today. We send our love, thoughts, and prayers to them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

#284

Elaine had another good day today. She and Fred drove down to the desert this morning. Elaine was exhausted when she got there. We are so proud of her, taking it upon herself to rest this afternoon. They got settled for the next week, and Elaine took a nap, gearing up for therapy. She had a great session with her new desert therapist. His main focus today was multitasking. The therapist talked to them about the importance of engaging both sides of her brain. He set up cones in a figure eight and had her walking around them while looking at a picture of a palm tree straight ahead (not at her feet) and singing. This had both sides of her brain working and she was able to do it, which was very exciting. Her then had her walking and counting; forwards, backwards, by 2's, still staring at the same picture. She is going to practice this at home as well. Visitors beware of the obstacle course Fred will likely have set up:)

Elaine's shoulder and arm were very sore today, so they didn't do any arm exercises. Her bunion is also sore again and very red. The therapist encouraged her to wear the shoes they cut a hole in. He stressed the importance of her being comfortable, letting her vanity go, and taking care of herself. Her also encouraged her to drive her golf cart (using both hands) and to go out and follow her friends and family around, walking around the green and different undulations to get used to different footing and surfaces. It is imperative she gains her confidence back. The longer it takes, the longer her recovery will take. He wants her to balance on her left leg, barely holding on to a anything 10-20 times a day for 10 seconds.  He told them that Elaine has been very task oriented since her stroke. She had been asked to do things, or exercises, or told where to go and what to do. She needs to start thinking on her own and allowing herself to decide what she needs to do. The more she can engage her brain, and the more it works, the better. She needs to be aware of where her left arm is, and how she is walking. He encouraged her to draw, or paint to get her creative side working. He threw a statistic at them stating that the brain can do 24 things in one second. Elaine was able to do 5 today, which surprised us all, considering we have hadn't anything traumatic happen to our brain and we find it hard to do two things in a second! Nothing Elaine ever does should shock us. She is truly one of a kind!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

#283

Its hump day, and Elaine had crossed over a major hump. It had been confirmed that her shoulder is no longer frozen! Staci took Elaine to therapy today, and witnessed first hand the mobility of Elaine's shoulder. Aside from the flare ups of her arm (the mixed messages the brain is telling her that she is feeling pain and burning when she shouldn't be, but the pain is very real), she will face another challenge.

She will be continually fighting the hypertonicity from the stroke in her left arm. That means that she will have to fight against her arm curling up to her stomach and her fingers curling into a ball. This will take time and repetitive exercises to break this habit, and allow her arm to "hang freely." She is also working hard to isolate movements, which is really difficult to do after a major stroke.

It was incredible to see how well she was doing in her exercises today. Its hard to really appreciate these photos, but please take our word for it. Elaine has never been able to straighten her arm and elongate her fingers at the same time. She has also worked very hard to get her arm over her head. Elaine has worked tirelessly to regain her shoulder mobility, and Fred has not let her cheat even once. He had been there to encourage her progress and wipe away her tears. It is so rewarding to see her hard work pay off. She has been cleared to start putting, working up to chipping - but slowly because its important to manage the pain and the swelling.




Another important thing Elaine is working on is balance. It is going to be one of the things she is really going to focus on the next month. As her fear reared its ugly head, she stopped trusting her left side. Her left side obviously lost all of its strength as a result of the stroke, but Elaine also lost faith in it supporting her. She is constantly shifting her weight to her right side, before she takes each step, when she sits or stand from a chair, and every opportunity she has. She is stable and she will not fall. She has to trust it again, break the weight shifting habit, and strengthen all her muscles. You can literally watch her do it each time. We are all going to drive her crazy with our reminders, but it's what has to be done. We acknowledge that it is annoying to hear, but it's in her best interests and only because we care, especially Fred! She agrees and is appreciative, most of the time anyway!

This photo is Fred helping Elaine balance on one leg. She can't hold on to anything because then she cheats by shifting her weight, so he supports her so she feels secure, while stepping up onto her left leg. Fred stops at nothing to help Elaine get better, and she is willing to do anything! They are an unstoppable duo! They also have their little angel Christi watching over them, a proud daughter for sure!



The single most important thing Elaine has promised to us is that she will lay down and rest for at least one hour every day. The doctors have been stressing the importance of this for months and she has resisted, mostly because she feels guilty for laying down, thinking she should be doing other things. This rest is an important part of her recovery. After a traumatic brain injury, rest is absolutely critical. She will wear herself down throughout the day, doing therapy, running errands, more therapy, and household chores, etc. By the end of the day, she is exhausted! She ends up doing more harm than good and prolongs her recovery. Her brain needs to rest and reset, as it is trying to keep up with her. She finally agreed and made a commitment to us that she will rest every day! We are holding her to this, and hope you all will too! Elaine knows she owes it to herself. She has made such remarkable strides, and she herself sees real progress.

It was a really great day for Elaine. She is optimistic, positive, and excited. We made a quick unexpected stop to see the doctor this afternoon after Elaine expressed some concern about some head pain she had been having the last few days. The doctor doesn't believe it to be anything to worry about and will watch it over the weekend. She had a massage this afternoon to try and relieve the tension in her neck, thinking that could be related. It was a load off her mind knowing it wasn't a sign of another stroke. He also scheduled another CT scan on her lungs just to make sure those pesky mystery spots are continuing to shrink or have gone away.

Thank you for the prayers and concern for Fred. He is feeling good and the biopsy went well. We won't know anything until Tuesday so continue to keep those positive thoughts and prayers coming! We all continue to be humbled by the genuine care, concern, and love shown by all of you. We hope you know how much it means to us all, especially Fred and Elaine. They are so lucky to be surrounded by so much love, but then again, they are impossible people not to love:)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#282

Despite an early wake up for Fred and Elaine, they had a pretty relaxing day. I guess you are bound to be tired and feel like relaxing when you get up at 5:30! 

Please send an extra prayer this way for Fred who has a biopsy tomorrow. We think it is nothing serious, but we will take all the prayers and good thoughts we can get! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

#281

It was a back-to-work kind of Monday for Elaine. She started with some intensive therapy from Diane where she and Fred heard some great news. According to Diane, Elaine's shoulder is essentially unfrozen. Her mobility is almost all the way back which means that the scar tissue has been broken down. Of course, she still has the burning pain, but we will take victories where we can get them. This photo really demonstrates the extent of Elaine's recovery!


Following the success at physical therapy, they went to see the neurologist. He was really happy with how well Elaine was doing, compared to how miserable she was last week. The pain patch is working! Things are definitely headed in the right direction, which is exciting for us all!

After the doctor, Elaine headed to the mall with Fred for some retail therapy. They helped the economy along by stopping by Lulu Lemon for a while. Then they headed to find some new Ugg boots now that the weather has turned. When we think about normalcy, we think of Elaine at the mall - we guess that today was a nice return to normalcy!

After shopping, Fred and Elaine headed over to the Francois house for their regular Monday night dinner. Tonight was special with Richie and his son Nick in town. The kids had a blast with everyone over - and the night ended with Brian throwing a dance party for himself!



It was a long day and we are sure that Elaine is exhausted. Hopefully, she gets some sleep tonight!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

#280

Elaine and Fred had a great trip to the desert. Elaine really felt like going to the desert helped her and will continue to help her heal. She never felt very comfortable driving around Newport since they had  not spent very much time here. She came back in January, in the late afternoon and had her stroke the next morning. She has spent the last nine months, initially being confused as to what happened, going from hospital to rehab hospital, to Pelican Hill, to her new home. She hasn't driven since her stroke and basically been getting in the car to see a doctor or go to therapy, with a few trips for burgers and shakes:) Elaine said she felt so comfortable in the desert, her  brain felt more at ease, and she knew exactly where she was going, never feeling lost of confused. The desert is healing! She loved seeing so many friends, looks forward to seeing more, and was so happy to see Fred getting out as well. She also learned from the new therapist, that when her left leg or arm start to shake, and she can't help it or stop it, its a good sign. It is the brain creating new passage ways. It was a wonderful few days for them both and they are so grateful to have such incredible friends down there. They can't wait to come back down there!



Tonight we were so excited to see Richie back in Newport! It are thrilled that he is back for the next few months and we are anxious to see Julie too. They have always been such an important part of our lives and we all love spending time with them! The kids are especially excited to see Bella! We went to dinner at Big Canyon for pasta night. Elaine walked up and down the stairs tonight, not using the elevator at all! She looked beautiful, as usual. Elaine is working really hard to gain her confidence back. She was doing so well and then one day, without reason, she woke up fearful. She is fearful that she is going to fall, and she won't! She is very stable and very strong. She, on her own decided to walk the stairs tonight and walked at a swift pace and used both legs to step. Her courage and determination is incredible and inspiring!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

#279

Today was a fun day for Elaine and Fred. They saw a ton of friends throughout the day. Two of those friends were Herb and Dana Pollack. Dana has been battling cancer over the past couple years, and it was so wonderful to see her on the road to recovery. Despite her own battle, Dana has been incredibly sweet to Elaine since her stroke in January. Dana is truly a selfless, generous friend - and she looks incredible! It was so nice to see these two brave women who have walked such difficult roads eating lunch, enjoying each other's company, and looking forward to bright futures!

Fre and Elaine went back to the Palm Court for dinner, and they saw a bunch more friends over there. They have had a great trip down to the desert, and they are grateful to have found a therapist down there. That means that they will be able to spend more time with their friends there. Fred and Elaine will make the trip back to Newport tomorrow, but will be planning their next desert visit soon!






Friday, November 9, 2012

#278

Today was the day that Elaine was meeting her new therapist in the desert. This was the appointment that would determine if Fred and Elaine could spend some more time in the desert. Well, it was a success. Elaine liked the therapist. He has a very positive attitude. He in not convinced that she has a frozen shoulder, but thinks that she should continue with her traction and cane exercises.

In other desert news, Elaine was scheduled to go watch Pat and Sally play golf today. Unfortunately, it was so windy that they all went in. Instead of golf, they met up with Marty (who is feeling better since her knee replacement) and had a nice lunch at the club.


We also wanted to give a shout out to Pat's grandson Brian who won the Lucas Oil 150 (NASCAR-affiliated truck race). Nice work Brian!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

#277

Fred and Elaine are happy to back in the desert - and we know all the folks in the desert are happy to see them there. Fred played in a golf tournament with Ron today over at Toscana. They had an absolute ball on the golf course.

While Fred was out on the golf course, Elaine spent the day with Pat. They ran a bunch of errands and even mixed in a trip to the doctor. A big thank you to Pat for being such a wonderful friend!

Elaine has her first session with the new desert therapist tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that is goes well!





Wednesday, November 7, 2012

#276

Elaine had a rough 24 hours, and so did Fred! She had a bad reaction to a mix of medications and was sick all night and through this afternoon. They did make it to the desert for the weekend though. Elaine spent the remainder of the day at home relaxing and resting. She was not feeling very good- groggy, tired, and uneasy.

In better news, Fred was very excited to see his brother Richie, who met them in the desert. We are hoping that Elaine will feel better tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

#275

Elaine was feeling better today. She had a good therapy session. Diane agreed that her shoulder was doing better, still has a ways to go, but definitely in the right direction. She was exhausted this afternoon and took it easy this afternoon, or as easy as Elaine knows how to take it. Tonight, Fred and Elaine went to Christi's soccer game and then we went to a quick dinner and home to watch the election:(

Monday, November 5, 2012

#274

Today was a very long day for Fred and Elaine. They spent most of it meeting with doctors. The good news is that the pain medication worked and Elaine woke up in a lot less pain. She was a little groggy this morning though. She went to therapy and had a good session. Diane was careful with her, not wanting to further aggravate her arm. After therapy, they went to the neurologist. He offered up some explanation as to why her arm and shoulder were hurting so badly. He had mentioned before that the pain might be a side effect from the stroke, but didn't focus on this because of her frozen shoulder. Some victims of right side strokes experience on-and-off intense pain and burning sensations. There isn't a known reason for why this happens. The brain has been damaged as a result of the stroke, it feels pain when it should be feeling a sensation that is not painful. It is commonly referred to as a hyperactive autonomic nervous system. It does get better over time, but unfortunately it is again an ailment that doesn't have a timetable. It does require some medication as the common painkillers don't help relieve the pain at all.

On to some great news, her frozen should is actually getting better! The orthopedic doctor couldn't believe how much she has improved already. It is definitely unfreezing. It is very painful to have, but it is not the source of the intense pain that she has been experiencing. If its not one thing, its another! It was very encouraging news to hear that the frozen shoulder is getting better and her range of motion is increasing. The doctor was really impressed. It was wonderful to hear that all of the hard work that Elaine, and Fred, have been putting in is working. Her foot is also looking and feeling better, as well. In other exciting news, Elaine's left calf muscle has grown a centimeter. This is also from her relentless work ethic, calf raises, balance exercises, and riding the bike. He was shocked to see so much muscle growth for someone with all she is battling. The doctor was excited to see Elaine continuing with such measurable progress. That is not very common, but then again no one is more dedicated to getting better than the Smith team!

Fred and Elaine had Monday night dinner at the Francois house. We love having them over! Elaine is still recovering from a rough weekend of pain, but she was encouraged by her progress and by what the doctors told her. Brian climbed onto Nammie's lap tonight as dinner, almost sensing that she could hold him tonight. It was really cute, and Nammie loved every minute of it.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

#273

It was a busy weekend for Elaine. On Saturday, she went to watch Taylor play soccer. Following the game, Taylor headed over to Elaine's house to hang out for the afternoon. Elaine had a great day with Taylor playing and watching a movie. Just what the doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, Sunday was far less pleasant. Elaine is experiencing intense pain in her shoulder again (still). It is really hard on Elaine to suffer through this type of debilitating pain. Her frustration level correlates closely with her pain level, and she was pretty emotional today fighting through the pain. This evening, she took some medication to alleviate it a little. They had plans to have dinner with Tony and Pat tonight, but unfortunately had to cancel. It had been a frustrating day, and one that makes you angry too. We wonder why do so many bad things happen to this incredible woman who is clearly not deserving of them. Fred is overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness. He has done everything he could possibly do to help her. This was an unplanned bump that has certainly set her back. We are confident that she will get through this, however, it doesn't mean there can't be days of frustration and emotion along the way. Fred and Elaine are human after all, although sometimes that is hard to believe. Hopefully, she will be able to get some sleep tonight and get out of pain. Its heartbreaking to see her like this.



Thursday, November 1, 2012

#272

Elaine went to the gym for her third day in a row! We are so impressed. She goes to the gym more regularly that we do! Her legs are feeling stronger as well. She did all of her arm exercises today as well. Unfortunately, her shoulder was very sore by the end of the day. They are still working trying to get the right dose of medication. Elaine continues to battle through the pain and push through.

Next blog update will be on Monday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#271

Elaine had her best day of therapy! Her arm/shoulder moved incredibly well! Elaine is FINALLY noticing a difference in herself, which makes us all so excited! She was doing an arm exercise today that six weeks ago she couldn't do at all. Elaine noticed the difference (which never happens) and started to cry! They were tears of happiness fortunately. Diane then started to tear up too. Fred was there and immediately started with his strip tease music, which made them burst into laughter. Her walk was better and she was able to make her left leg completely straight during pilates today. It was a great day and Elaine left feeling great about her progress.


Elaine went home to rest and then did her stretcher and cane exercises. Staci and the kids picked her up from the gym so the kids could trick or treat at their house. Elaine was looking as beautiful as ever and the kids were so excited to see her! 



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#270

Elaine woke up feeling much better today. She slept really well and her pain was much more manageable today. She relaxed at home today. Staci was fortunate to watch Elaine do her afternoon home cane exercises, and could understand Fred's excitement! Her elbow was straight and she is able to reach her arms all the way behind her head. It really was one of those moments that you experienced goosebumps watching her. She has worked tirelessly, and to see results like those was incredible! Here is a photo taken on August 23, compare it to the one take today. Its hard not to notice a difference! Please keep in mind that mid-July, she was not able to even lift her left arm to shoulder height. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't quite do it justice, but her arms today were all the way back touching the bed. Even Elaine, her own harshest critic, has to see improvement.

August 23rd

October 30th.


This is another photo showing off her increased mobility and ability to straighten her left elbow! 

Elaine we are so proud of you!



Monday, October 29, 2012

#269

Elaine started today with therapy. The Smith'\s both slept well and headed to see Diane this morning. Elaine still had a lot of pain in her arm and shoulder. The good news: Diane said Elaine's flexibility continues to increase and she thought this was as loose as Elaine has been. The bad news: she can't get better if she stays in the intense pain she is in because it will continue to cause more swelling. After therapy, they went to the doctor. They are trying some different medications, and hopefully this will get her out of pain. She looks incredibly beautiful and she is so tough. Just by looking at her, you would never know how much pain she is in!

Elaine received a bracelet and special letter in the mail today from Jessica. Below is a copy of the letter that Jessica wrote to a non profit that is selling these bracelets that say "I can Not be replaced." We know much Elaine is loved by so many. She was so touched by this letter Jessica wrote. Thank you Jessica. We are thinking of you and your family as you are riding out this storm. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Elaine's brother Deno and his wife Peggy, and all of our east coast friends, and everyone out there braving the storm.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

#267

It was a lazy Sunday for Elaine today. Fred left early to play golf, while Ben, Brian, and Christi dropped off some coffee for Elaine. She was a little emotional and had some pain in her arm  which wasn't helped by the stretching machine. Thankfully, Christi was there to comfort her!

We are also thankful that both Fred and Elaine had much better nights of sleep. Let's hope it continues so this week can be as productive as possible. Elaine is mentally much sharper the last few days as well. They are going to the doctor tomorrow after therapy to alter the dose of the medicine, because its not strong enough, but Elaine is much clearer. Elaine had her best day ever doing her cane exercises. Her range of motion was the best is has been since her shoulder became frozen. After her second round of doing them so well, Fred got tears in his eyes to see her progress. Elaine's voice is stronger and louder as well. She celebrated all her progress with a massage this afternoon. It was earned and deserved. We are so proud of Elaine and Fred, and how well they have handled the ups and downs of this journey.

Elaine had the TV on all day today, watching the storm prep on the East Coast as Hurricane Sandy approached land. Our thoughts and prayers are will all of those affected! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

#266


It was another busy Saturday for Elaine. As usual she mixed in soccer games for Taylor and Christi which in and of itself is amazing. Definitely more amazing when you consider that she probably walked a mile between the two games. Even more amazingly, she did this without really sleeping the night before. To top it off, her biggest supporter (Fred), also has not slept for a three straight nights. Well, they were great sports to go to the games to see Taylor score on a dramatic coast-to-coast play and see Christi save the game with three huge saves at goalie. Then, they even had the stamina to go to lunch with Ben's parents, Vicki and Larry, who were in town to watch some soccer.





Later in the day, Fred and Elaine's old friends Sam and Nan came by for a visit! It was a great time to catch up!



Update

Hi. We wanted to apologize for the surprising (and offensive) word in the blog this morning. Ben wrote last night's blog on his iPhone which added the word through an autocorrect function (which may mean that he has used that word on his phone before :) ). Normally, one of us edits the blog, but Staci was not  feeling well and went to bed early.  Again, we are sorry that it happened and certainly didn't want to offend anyone!


Friday, October 26, 2012

#265

TGIF. It was a great day for Elaine. Who doesn't love Fridays? At therapy, her arm was sore, but looser  than it was on Wednesday! Elaine is such a star fighting through the pain to continue to make positive steps despite the obstacles!

In other news, Fred and Elaine hired a new housekeeper today. She should be a big help keeping things in order and run some errands. Let's hope she sticks around!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#264

Elaine went to bed late last night, and she was tired this morning. The nurse came to talk to them about the stretcher. She adjusted the setting. It was not in the right position and that is why is was causing Elaine so much pain. Her arm was straining to stretch, in a way it shouldn't, and it caused the tissue to swell. She should be headed in the right direction now after the correction

Elaine ran some errands this afternoon and finished off the final interviews this evening for their new housekeeper. A good night of sleep is hopefully in store tonight and back to therapy tomorrow. Hopefully her swelling with continue to go down and her pain will decrease. We hate seeing her in pain!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#263

Elaine was very tight today. Her arm and elbow were tighter than they have been in a long time, and her arm, from her elbow to her shoulder, was swollen. She spent a lot of time on her feet yesterday, which also caused a lot of swelling in left leg and foot. Staci picked her up for therapy this morning and she still had a good session. Elaine did some pilates on her lower body and just did some stretching on her arm. The therapist told her to continue to work on her arm exercises, but not to push it or overdue it. It is important to do the exercises, something is better than nothing, but to do so in moderation and not to have pain.

Elaine had a massage this afternoon which also helped with her pain and her swelling. She switched pain medications on Monday, so it will be a week or so of trial and error trying to find the right combination and dose to keep her comfortable. Unfortunately, we haven't found that dose yet and she is in pain and was exhausted tonight.

The day ended by watching Christi's soccer game and dinner at Taco Rosa. The soccer game was a little chilly and a lot of walking. It has been a long day for Elaine and she was understandably worn out tonight!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#262

Despite a very sore arm, Elaine went to work today. Her first task was to interview housekeepers. Tedious, but important work. Her last stop of the day was dinner at the club. In between those two jobs was what mattered the most!

Elaine went to work on setting up and hosting a Halloween treasure hunt for Christi, Taylor, and Brian. This has been a pretty serious endeavor for Elaine. She has been collecting "treasure" for the last SIX weeks. She had clues for the kids to figure out. She had Halloween toys and trinkets all over the house. And, of course, she had candy absolutely everywhere. She also dressed up in her Halloween bat headband (see below) as an active participant in the day. The kids had so much fun running around the house, laughing at every clue and every turn. They had the time of their lives finding treasure everywhere. Fred and Elaine may have had more fun watching them tear through the house at million miles an hour! It is probably why they need a new housekeeper!




Monday, October 22, 2012

#261

Today was a good day! Elaine went to see the therapist this morning and she had made significant progress with the range of motion of her arm. Optimal range for her shoulder is 180 degrees. Today, Elaine measured at 165 degrees. Pretty darn good for someone who could barely move her arm. The therapist wishes Elaine could see how far she has come! She is still not completely trusting her leg when she walks. She has been ordered to focus on balance while she is at home. Also, she is going to lay off the arm stretcher until the nurse can come by and do an assessment. After therapy, the neurologist altered Elaine's medication. She is switching to a pain medicine program that will have the same palliative effect with less side effects.

Then, it was onto Monday night dinner at the Francois house!





Sunday, October 21, 2012

#260

Elaine and Fred enjoyed a nice day today. It was a nice day to be inside, and they spent the day getting organized and doing some "fall" cleaning. Elaine's elbow was very sore and swollen this afternoon, so sore that she wasn't able to even raise her arms over her hear to do her cane exercises. She took the rest of the day off of the stretcher and is going to see the doctor in the morning. On Friday, she was told to reduce the time she was spending on the stretcher, going from 3 times a day for 20 minutes, to 2 a day for 15 minutes. Typically people aren't as diligent with the machine, and Elaine rarely misses a session so she is going to reduce the time she spends on it. After a nice, and productive, afternoon, Fred and Elaine headed over to their favorite Sunday night spot, True Food. Elaine was in bed early and resting up!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

#258

The weather certainly changed today in Newport. There was some drizzle. The air was slightly cooler. It felt a little more like Autumn today. Well, the wet weather could not deter Elaine from watching her granddaughters play soccer.

Elaine's first stop was Taylor's game requiring a long walk to the field. Following the success of the Butterflies, Fred and Elaine headed over to check out the Green Machine. Elaine was a trooper sitting in the rain watching Chirsti's game! No one said hat being a grandparent was go to be easy.

The rest of the day was spent as you would expect given the gray skies! A little bit of relaxation and rest!

Friday, October 19, 2012

#258

Quick medical update on Elaine. She continues to make great progress in her therapy sessions. In fact, her therapist Diane has now told her that she no longer has to wear her boot! Huge move for Elaine.

More importantly, Elaine had a great day with friends. Shirley and Colette came to pick her up and take her out to lunch. They enjoyed their time together at Sabatino's down by the water. It was a wonderful day with wonderful company, and it was exactly what Elaine needed. After all the fund and laughs, Elaine was tired and is home relaxing - and hopefully getting bed to early and getting a full night of sleep.






Thursday, October 18, 2012

#257

The Smith house slept great last night and everyone woke up feeling great. Elaine even dreamed about a shock running through her body, and she woke up feeling completely normal. When she actually woke up, she was so eager to get out of bed. When she realized she wasn't quite, "back to normal" yet, she said, "well sh*t!" In time Elaine, you are getting better every single day! We can't possibly understand your frustration, but we are so grateful that you are alive, and continuing to improve daily!

Staci and Brian met Elaine and Fred for lunch today. Elaine looked so cute! She was wearing clothes and didn't have to wear her leg brace, which really made her happy. She finds out tomorrow at therapy if she break with the brace in indeed permanent. She will be dreaming about that tonight, and sleeping with her fingers and toes crossed:) Her elbow is quite swollen too. We aren't sure if its from the stretcher.  Another question that will hopefully be answered tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

#256

Elaine had a good day today. It was VERY hot and she was a little tired but, not surprisingly, she plugged through it. Staci and Brian picked her up for lunch this afternoon and then went to pick up Taylor from school. Elaine didn't have a official therapy appointment today,because the therapist was out of the office. Elaine still worked very hard. She did her shoulder, all her extra exercises and worked on her balance exercises. She also walked down to the gym(in the heat) and rode the bike! She looks as beautiful and normal as ever! We are hoping the Smith's get some rest. They are still playing catch up!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

#255

The tables have turned for Elaine. Usually, this blog is about Elaine and her battle to get back to a normal life. There is nothing more normal for Elaine than thinking about her grandchildren. That is exactly what she did today. Elaine has been worried about Brian and his little broken foot all day. All she wants to do is help the little guy out! As for Brian, he is doing pretty well. Of course, it has only been a matter of hours and he is ready to get his cast off. Unfortunately, he has to wait to 2-3 weeks! 



Monday, October 15, 2012

#253

Elaine and Fred didn't sleep well again, and they are both exhausted today after a few sleepless nights. They got up and went to see her internist. He was thrilled with Elaine's progress, especially her shoulder. He could feel and see her actual shoulder for the first time today. He said she must be working really hard to have these results. He also said that the noticeable progress will start to slow, but that she is still progressing. She is doing amazingly well. Elaine was quite emotional today as well. Fred has come up with a new way to make her laugh instead of cry. When she starts to cry, he threatens a strip tease. This quickly dries her tears:)

Next stop, a trip to therapy. The therapist reminded her of how well she is doing. She told her when she first came in, her arm was so severely frozen that she really wasn't sure how long it would be before they saw progress. She could have never imagined Elaine would make so much headway in such a short time. She admires and respects her dedication so much and loves working with Elaine, who doesn't!

This evening, Elaine was off patient duty and back on caretaker duty. After a quick trip to urgent care, we learned that Brian broke his big toe bone after a fall. We will know more tomorrow. We tried to get him to have the same appreciation for ice as Elaine has, but he didn't like it. We will know more tomorrow after he goes to the doctor. Fred and Elaine came over to give Brian a hug and have some dinner. Elaine cleaned up the kitchen while Staci bathed Brian. She was so helpful!


We really wish them a solid night of rest. They are absolutely exhausted!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

#252

Last night was relatively sleepless for Elaine. Today, she tried to make up for it by really getting some rest. She was able to get some extra sleep and spend the day relaxing. Elaine did mix in some arm therapy, but she opted to skip the gym. She is looking forward to another productive week starting tomorrow!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

#252

This picture tells the story of how well Elaine is progressing with her shoulder! Its amazing. Her shoulder was sore today, but seeing how well it is moving, its understandable. We are so proud of her, and being over there for the morning round, it is evident how dedicated Fred is as well. He is in there encouraging her, cheering her progress, and making sure she does everything right! He found a new neck wrap for her while she's icing, and she likes it too. She skipped the gym, she was sore from yesterday and her arm was sore.



Fred and Elaine came to cheer on the butterflies(Taylor's team) this morning as well. The walk from the car to the field isn't a cake walk. They even dressed in the teams colors! Christi and Ben are away this weekend camping, so we missed the Green Machines game. Taylor was so excited to have everyone at her game though. Thank you Chirsty for the yellow hair clip and thanks Plote's for the shirt:)



Fred and Elaine enjoyed a relaxing afternoon of football and being home. Elaine even started her Christmas shopping this afternoon! Yes, she is still Elaine:) Don't we all wish we could be so organized!

Friday, October 12, 2012

#251

It was a restful night of sleep at the Smith house! Elaine had another great day of therapy as well. She used her arm for the first time today during pilates. This is an event even Elaine was excited about, and acknowledged that she couldn't have done a few weeks ago. It's wonderful when Elaine is able to see progress too! She rested this afternoon, did her stretcher and her home exercises.  Elaine went to the gym this evening before dinner. She is being very responsible about getting some rest too, even if she doesn't sleep, she is at least laying down. Admittedly, it is because she gets to take the brace off her leg when she rests, but whatever it takes to keep her down:)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

#250

Elaine had a fun day today. She went to lunch with Shirley and Maureen. They took her to lunch at the Dock on the water. Elaine had never been there and loved it and was so happy to be out with her friends. After they finished lunch, they headed to Rogers Garden to look at the holiday decorations. Elaine was very tired and asked them to bring her home after that. They did forget to take a picture too!


She had a wonderful time and is so grateful for such great friends. The pain in her shoulder was a little better then its been the last few days today and she did her torture stretcher all three times today. She has grown to love icing her shoulder as well. It was definitely an acquired habit, that now she depends on. She skipped the bike after 40 minutes yesterday though! They were in bed early, watching the debates and heading to sleep!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

#249

Elaine had another very productive day! She woke up this morning feeling a little down, and discouraged after someone telling her that it would take three years for her to recover from her stroke and her frozen shoulder. All of us that know her, and have watched her closely over the last 10 months, were quick to remind her of how far she has come. We have thrown stats and statistics out the door since the day this happened. She has defied all odds from the beginning and she continues to. There is no one that works harder or more diligently than she does!

Staci picked her up for therapy this morning and witnessed a great session. Her arm/shoulder are doing amazing and she continues to be able to move it more and more. Watching Little Darlin' move is truly a incredible. They worked a lot on her walking today. She is trying to keep her left arm straight as she walks, since it wants to curl up. It seems another revelation was discovered today. She is not confident baring significant weight on her left leg. She is going to work a lot over the next few weeks on balance, balancing on one leg, balancing on one leg while bending her knee, and balancing on one leg while kicking the other on in and out. The first few times she tried it, she was very unsteady, and she was gripping on to the counter with all her might, even with her left hand! As they practiced, and become more comfortable and confident, she eased up and also became much more balanced. As Staci watched, she was reminded again of how lucky Elaine was to have been in such good shape before this happened. Her muscle memory comes back as it gets triggered more and more. She works so hard, and never says no to an exercise.


After her workout, Staci and Elaine went to lunch. Elaine truly doesn't remember that literally her "dummy arm" was just that, and it didn't do anything! Elaine picked up a straw today and opened it with BOTH hands. Staci stopped her, to notice this accomplishment. Elaine didn't think much of it, but it was awesome. Its the little things we notice, and she really does get better and better. Elaine helped pick up Taylor from school today and even had a tour of the classroom. Taylor's teacher shared with her that she once had a frozen shoulder too and related to the pain!

Elaine went home to relax, do the stretcher. She then went to the gym and rode the bike for 40 minutes! Yes, you read that correctly. Fred is definitely wearing off her. It seems that the word, "moderation" doesn't apply to them!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

#248

Unfortunately neither Fred nor Elaine slept very well last night. It didn't slow them down today though. They still made it to the gym, and also to the doctor. Elaine went to see a psychologist today as well. The doctor works in the same office as her neurologist. It was Elaine's idea to meet with her. Elaine has been offered to see one since her stroke, and decided not to. Last week, she decided to give it a try. 

Elaine really enjoyed her session, so much so that she is going back next week. The doctor lost her first husband to a stroke, and also had a frozen shoulder, twice. She can relate to the pain and frustration Elaine is feeling. She sympathizes and empathizes with her. She also encouraged her to cry, telling her that a recent study showed it is a way to release toxins from your body. Elaine feels so much better, getting to release some of her feelings and speak freely. She told Elaine to hang in there, that it is not an easy road, and that it is definitely a long one but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It won't happen as fast as we want it to, but with her dedication and work ethic, it will. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

#247

Elaine woke up feeling rested and ready to take on the world. She had a great night of sleep and was in a great place mentally, and physically today. Fred and Elaine went to see the therapist today and she had a great session. She continues to be very excited by Elaine's progress. Pilates went great, and she also had her best day of walking as well. Fred and Elaine walked out excited and encouraged.

They went to lunch, and a movie today, Taken 2, which they highly recommend:) They came over to the Francois house for tacos and football. Elaine was singing nursery rhymes on the couch with Brian. You can see that the kids notice Elaine is improving and they continue to engage her and get her more involved her their antics:)


Sunday, October 7, 2012

#246

Elaine had a good day today and she is feeling good. She is still recovering from her lack of sleep Friday night, but she slept well last night. I am sure having Fred back home definitely helped:) She headed back to the gym this morning to ride the bike and was feeling good. Vangie left this morning after an eventful few days. We are so thankful to her for coming down to spend some time with Elaine. She has been such a great sister and friend, especially the eight months! Thank you Vangie!

This afternoon, Elaine had some special visitors. Pat, Kris, Brendan, Sean, and Jerry came over to see Elaine and Fred. They are spending a few days at Disneyland, and stopped by to see them first. She was really looking forward to seeing them, and so appreciative of the effort they made to visit. The Smith house was buzzing with people, the Francois family also come over to see them as well. Fred and Elaine had their quiet house back this evening and were going to get in bed early tonight and get ready for another busy week.