Thursday, May 31, 2012


Some days are better than others and today was a great one. Elaine made a major move toward independence today. It was mostly her idea with pushes from Fred, Paul, and her therapists at Hoag. Everyone has explained to her just how remarkable her improvement has been, and that now it is time for her to take control of her life. For example, at one point today she asked the therapist to help her put her hair up. The therapist said, "No, you do it yourself." And guess what? Elaine did it herself without a problem. It is often the little things that give you the confidence to forge ahead. After that victory, Elaine decided that she WOULD be more independent. She is working on getting dressed on her own, managing her medicines on her own, and getting up and down stairs on her own. She is amazing, and we love when she sees in herself the progress that we have all seen.  Here is the photo of the hair clip.

The therapists and the Smiths have made a decision to focus exclusively on walking correctly. That means that they are going to work very hard on getting rid of the "hitch" in Elaine's gait. It will take some serious effort to get it moving more naturally and in sync, but we know that Elaine has just the personality to tackle this challenge. 

After the confidence from the therapy session and the move toward independence, Elaine felt like tackling another challenge. She headed over to the driving range to hit some golf balls. You read that right. She went to hit some balls. All told, she went through two pyramids of balls at the range! Be sure to watch this video of her!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Elaine is doing well! Little Darlin' and her shoulder were sore today, and no one is quite sure why, but she was definitely uncomfortable. Based on her therapy session today, you would never know that was the case. She had a great workout with Paul and did quite a bit of walking as well. She is working hard to eliminate the "hinge" she walks with. Elaine also admitted to Paul that she is nervous about the stairs. Paul was very surprised by this considering she hash't even shown fear of anything, until now, which is extremely rare. He filled her with confidence and expressed that she has no reason to be fearful. She is very capable of handling the stairs. She even carried a glass of water down up them today for practice. She is really progressing. He told her that he also believes she is capable of driving, however his biggest concern is her concentration, or rather her losing it! All signs are pointing in the right direction and with her continued hard work and determination, she should continue to get better!

Staci picked Elaine up this afternoon to go see her local cardiologist. He was thrilled when he walked in the room and saw her. He could tell just by looking at her that she had made some drastic improvements from just a month ago. He also saw her in the hospital and agreed its hard to believe that she is the same person. A miracle indeed. Her heart is doing well and his biggest concern is to keep her INR between 2.5 and 3.5. It dipped to 2.2 this week but the doctors are thinking it is from the stem cell procedure. She hasn't been in a-fib since the last time she saw him and he said stay the course and he will see her in three months! It is wonderful when the duration between visits continues to grow. Also a good sign:) The only downside to the day for Elaine was when she had to get on the scale. The nurses all want to punch her when she complains about having to stand her skinny little body on the scale. She doesn't get any sympathy in that department!

Elaine ran a few errands and even got out of the car to come in the stores with Staci. Usually, she is pretty content to stay in the car. She is so sweet and smiles and says hello to everyone she sees. They smile back until she breaks into "the giggles":). You never know when one of those giggle attacks is going to happen and there certainly is never a rhyme or reason for it. We are so grateful to giggle with her, even when we don't know what we are laughing at!

The kids played with Nammie and Ampa for a little bit this afternoon and helped make the "June" calendar. Elaine had great energy today and was in really good spirits. Brian knows just the person to come too for a cookie, too. Brian is going to attend a therapy session with Nammie and Paul soon, since another one of her goals is to be able to hold him. That will be an interesting session:)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Elaine had a wonderful and productive day! It started off with a fun lunch with their dear friends Jim and Sue, who drove up from San Diego to see them. They celebrated friendship and Fred and Elaine both really enjoyed being with them and feel so lucky to have such caring, loving, friends! Sue visited Elaine when she first went to the rehab hospital and has been a consistent visitor since. They have enjoyed Elaine's progress, each time more impressed than the last!

After lunch, Fred and Elaine headed to Hoag for therapy. Fred, Elaine, and Staci have all been frustrated at the Hoag therapy sessions the past few weeks. Elaine has seen a different therapist most of the time, all focusing on different things. The common goal is always to improve her walking, however they each tell her a different way. Its confusing for Fred and Staci too, who know how to walk. We can't even imagine how poor Elaine is feeling, trying hard to do what they are telling her, yet so confused with their directions. Fred and Staci compared notes over the weekend and Fred was going to talk to the them.

Luckily, they were very receptive and understanding of our concerns. Fred expressed to them that we want goals set so that Elaine can work to achieve them, and be able to have a better sense of ALL that she is accomplishing. They identified a list of personal goals Elaine has for herself too, and they are going to work on those as well. Each time she will have one of two therapists, all working on the same things with a consistent message. We are very excited about this! Elaine is so lucky to have such an incredible advocate fighting for her every day! Fred has continues to amaze us with his ongoing effort to help Elaine get better. He never leaves a stone unturned or lets anything slip through the cracks! His genuine love for her shows every minute of every day.

Some of the most important personal goals Elaine has set for herself on her quest towards independence are:

-being able (and confident enough in her balance) to shower alone

-She would like to be able to dress herself

-She wants to be able to drive again. They are going to bring in someone from the DMV that will give her some computerized tests, then take her out in a car. They will then assess where her weaknesses are, if any, and work on those so that she will be able to safely drive a car again.

-She also wants to get back on the golf course. You can see in this video that they worked on that today as well.

Elaine has many goals, all of which include having her old life back. The wheels continue to be in motion and she is a step closer each day. She is determined, working her GGA (Great Greek Ass) off, daily and pushing herself harder than anyone can imagine. She is surrounded by love, is self motivated, and has Fred! That is a lethal and undeniable combination. Hopefully a restful night of sleep tonight since last night was not a comfortable one for either of them.

On a side note. Recently people have said they didn't know the blog could be emailed to them daily. You can view the blog in it's entirety from the email, the only thing you can't do is view the videos. We always state in the blog if there is a video so if you do want to see it, you can go to the website. Its very simple and there isn't any spam. A disclaimer, it does arrive at 3:30 am in your inbox and that is not because we are up writing at that hour (anymore). Just type your email in this box and click submit.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Happy Memorial Day! A special thank you to all those that serve and have served our country and protect our freedom. We are so grateful to you!

Elaine had a wonderful day today! She spent the morning and early afternoon at the pool with Ben, Staci, and the kids. They are always so excited to have Nammie there watching them and she was excited to be out in the sun, enjoying the day. When we asked her what she wanted for lunch she said, "a milkshake and a ice cream sandwich!" You can imagine how quickly the kids jumped on that bandwagon. We settled on a milkshake and a turkey burger! She got a little sunburn and then went home to rest because she had an exciting evening ahead at the Francois house.

Jessica, her daughters Chole and Emmy, and her sister Jennifer, were coming to Newport just to see Elaine! Elaine was so elated to see them and couldn't believe the effort they went to just to see her. They flew across the country to Sacramento to visit their Grandma and then flew down here for the afternoon and dinner, then back east tomorrow morning, catching a 6 am flight with a two and a half year old and an 11 month old. We were all excited to see them and really enjoyed catching up and watching the girls all play (while Brian ate rocks). They couldn't believe how great Elaine looked and Jessica was so excited to give her a hug. We enjoyed a BBQ al fresco at home and are so touched that they would make such a special effort to see Elaine.

Elaine had another fun surprise. George, Jodi, and Joe stopped by to drop off some delicious grapes, fresh from the ranch. George is a very good friend of Staci and Ben's and he has known Fred and Elaine for over 26 years. Fred and Elaine were excited to see them, catch up and hear about the wedding planning-  and we polished off a bag of grapes in no time!  Thank you for going out of your way! We certainly appreciate the grapes but were especially excited to see you.

Another exciting event happened today. Elaine, for the very first time after many months of working on it, successful performed an exercise we call cross country skiing. You can see in the video that she maintains her balance, took perfect steps and alternated her arm and leg with her step, in sync and perfectly. This is one of the exercises that has given her a lot of trouble and she hasn't been able to do it. It has been very frustrating. Fred and Elaine worked on it over the long weekend and she got it!! Check it out:

The long weekend is over and it is back to therapy tomorrow. She is ready and was practicing and pushing herself this weekend. Fred and Elaine even walked to the club for dinner last night. She is looking as beautiful as ever and we are so proud of all her progress. Hopefully they sleep well tonight afar an exciting day!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Aloha! It was a pretty quiet day for the Smiths today. Fred played golf early while Elaine stayed home to catch up on some rest.

While she was at home resting, Elaine came to the realization that she would love to go to Hawaii with the Francois family. They had already booked an extra bedroom in hopes that Elaine would accept their invitation. Staci and Ben are so excited that she is coming, and when the kids find out they will be over the moon!  Just another example of how Elaine takes life by the horns. She is so incredibly tough and we love that she wants to enjoy herself and the change of scenery that comes with a trip to the Big Island!

This evening, Fred and Elaine went to dinner with Jack and Gloria. They went to pasta night at Big Canyon and enjoyed the beautiful weather as we head into Memorial Day and the start of the summer.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


We got our wish from yesterday. Fred and Elaine finally got a great night of sleep. Around mid-morning, Staci and Brian came to pick up Nammie for lunch and some shopping.

The three of them went to Canaletto and enjoyed some pasta. They were carb loading for the serious shopping ahead of them. Brian was very attached to Elaine today. He absolutely insisted on holding "Nana's" hand everywhere they went.

He held her hand through the shoe department. He escorted her to the cosmetics counter. He was the hit of Neiman Marcus. Ladies came from across the store just tell him how cute he was.

At one point, he was a bit aggressive in his role as hand holder and nearly pulled Elaine right down on the ground! Thankfully, Staci was right there to grab the both of them before they hit the floor.

After the mall, they packed into the car and headed to Bristol Farms where Elaine baby-sat Brian while Staci picked up a few things. Then, they went to the Francois house to surprise Christi and Taylor. Everyone had a great time with Elaine and the girls were so excited to show off the garden and the growing strawberries, cucumbers, and squashes.

Fred came by a little later to pick up Elaine and they headed home for a quite night. We wish them two nights in a row of peaceful sleep.

Friday, May 25, 2012


After a very restless night, Elaine (and Fred) woke up very tired. Elaine was able to catch a much needed short nap before lunch that allowed to build up some energy for a visit from the Staci, Ben, and the kids.

Before the visit, Staci and the kids headed over to the bookstore for a few games and mind-exercisers for Elaine. They brought over Sudoku, word games, and activity books all with the intent of stimulating Elaine's brain. Elaine has been so focused on physical therapy and now she is working on mind therapy to keep those neurons firing! The docs say it is crucial to her continued progress for her to work on her mind and body. Everyone got in on the action and played word games around the coffee table.

After playing games, we all went to the upstairs balcony to watch Fred come in on the 18th hole. While we were up there, we looked down and saw a wonderful sight on the patio. There was Elaine using Little Darlin' to tie her shoe. Fred told us another great story from the stem cell day. The nurse was having trouble getting a band aid after the IV came out. Elaine just reached over with her left hand and held the band aid without even thinking about it. Pretty remarkable progress from where she was not too long ago!

Fred and Elaine are enjoying a quiet take-out dinner at home. Hopefully, they get in bed early and stay asleep for the entire night.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


In what is becoming a somewhat regular occurrence, Elaine woke up this morning with giggles. Likely, she was dreaming about something so off the wall that we probably couldn't even print it here. After shaking off the morning giggle, Fred and Elaine made their way back to Newport.

Elaine got back and went right to work with Paul. She had a solid session that eventually wore her out. Then, the kids came by for their Nammie fix after missing her while she was in the desert. Most of the rest of the day was spent letting those stem cells swim around finding damaged tissue to repair or regrow.

It was an exciting and action-packed couple of days, and Elaine went to bed absolutely exhausted. We wish both Fred and Elaine a very restful and peaceful night of sleep! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Today was all about science and technology. Fred and Elaine checked in this morning at 8:30 at the California Stem Cell Treatment Center in Rancho Mirage. We were all excited and anxious to see what the day would bring.

Elaine went first. The docs at the clinic took her back to harvest stem cells from fat cells. They get the fat cells through a mini-liposuction process. Of course, they had a lot of trouble finding any fat on Elaine so it took a little more digging that anticipated. After they found enough fat, Elaine went back to the waiting room to hang with Fred while the scientists did their work.  They were in the back separating out the stem cells from the fat cells and preparing them to be intravenously injected back into her body. They were able to harvest over 200 million stem cells (which is 180 million more than they expected). The doctors explained that Elaine's stem cells were in perfect condition and ready to go back to work in her body. They attributed the condition of her cells to the healthy lifestyle she has maintained all of her life. The fact they were able to get so many stem cells is very exciting and leaves everyone very optimistic!

Once the stem cells were prepped, they brought Elaine back for the IV drip. As we mentioned, the stem cells were injected via IV directly into her bloodstream.  The strategy was to put the stem cells into a blood vessel in her right arm which would carry the cells into her brain so they could start rebuilding damaged tissue right away. The idea is that the stem cells can identify the damaged areas and attempt to regrow the tissue (arteries, etc). If the tissue is deemed irreparable by the stem cells, they may be able to find alternate pathways for blood and nerves.

Other stem cells that don't stop in the brain will continue on their path through Elaine's left arm into her hands and fingers, as well as into her left leg all the way down to her toes - finding and hopefully repairing damaged tissue on the way.

The doctors are optimistic that Elaine remains a good candidate for improvement from the procedure, and they were pleased with the sheer number of stem cells they were able to pull from her. If this works, there may be visible improvement in the next 3-6 weeks and even more progress in 10-12 weeks. It will be an anxious time for all of us, though we know that Elaine won't give up on her therapy waiting on this miracle. It is very important that she continue on with her therapy, they work together and the stem cells won't work without her continued hard work! For now, she is in some pain from all of the digging as they were searching her little body for fat.

Fred also went through a similar digging process. They were able to extract 90 million stem cells during the harvest. He had a different procedure to get his stem cells back into his damaged knee. They separated the stem cells, then spun them together with his blood trying get the right vehicle for the stem cells to ride into his knee. Then, they took a large needle and injected the mixture right into his damaged knee. His expected timeline is the same as Elaine's - about 10-12 weeks for full effect.

It was quite a day on the cutting edge of medicine for the Smith family. We remain optimistic that today will lead to great progress for Elaine and great relief for Fred. Thank you to everyone who called, texted, or gave their support in person. Everyone one of us had tons of well wishers over the past couple days! Special thanks to Fred and Elaine's visitors today. Pat came over to spend the day with the Elaine while Fred was in his procedure and brought her lunch. Mary came by to sit with Elaine this afternoon as well. Rockee also stopped by to check on Elaine. Thanks again for all of the love and support!

Fred and Elaine were certainly beat after their long day of get poked and prodded. Fred stopped by Mama Gina's for take-out and they were enjoying a quiet dinner at home before heading to bed to dream about the miracles of modern medicine! They are heading back to the beach in the morning because Elaine has therapy with Paul at 12:00! She never stops! Hopefully the cars all get out of the way for Fred and the carpool lane remains free of cars for the entire drive home.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Over the past few months, you have likely noticed that we are an optimistic bunch. We are always looking forward to tomorrow because we know that tomorrow brings continued progress and takes Elaine one day closer to normalcy. That said, we also focus on today because it is today's hard work that makes tomorrow's progress possible.

However, today is a little different. Almost all of today has been a focus on tomorrow. Today Fred and Elaine drove to the desert because tomorrow they are both undergoing the stem cell treatment we wrote about previously. We are thinking a lot about tomorrow, but it doesn't mean that we think it will be a miracle. We are realistic that there could be some benefit, and then again, there may not be. But Elaine hasn't made miraculous progress because she is pessimistic. 

So, she is going into tomorrow with hopes high but eyes wide open. This is a great time for all of you to send more great thoughts and prayers Elaine's way! We will provide a detailed run down of tomorrow's events  . . . tomorrow. 

Tonight they enjoyed a wonderful dinner and lots of laughs with MJ, Bud, Larry, and Barb! They are so lucky to be blessed with such wonderful friends! Tonight was just what the doctor ordered! 

Monday, May 21, 2012


Elaine continues to achieve new milestones! Today she walked up their flight of stairs at home without help or holding on to the rails! This is very impressive and really helped Elaine build confidence. It wasn't long ago that she got "stuck" upstairs and had to wait until Fred could help her down. Here she is walking unassisted!

After therapy, Fred and Elaine went to see her doctor. He was so thrilled with her progress. An even bigger surprise, her neurologist, who is quite tight lipped, had called him to talk about how incredibly well she is doing and what a fighter she is. That made us all smile! She truly is incredible. A funny story. They were checking out and scheduled her next appointment:

The nurse said, "ok July 6th, you are in the book."
Elaine said, "now wait, what day of the week is that?'
Fred burst into laughter and said, "Elaine are you busy that day? Why does it matter what day of the week it is?"

A glimpse into the daily laughs of Fred and Elaine:)

They came over to the Francois house for dinner. Its always  an argument as to who gets to sit by Nammie and Ampa. We had a nice dinner and enjoyed the company, as always and are so grateful we are so close and get to see each other daily.

They are heading to the desert tomorrow. Their stem cell treatment was moved up to first thing in the morning Wednesday. We continue to hear great things about the results and are very excited. The doctor put Elaine at ease today, reassuring her that everything will be fine. She is the perfect candidate for the procedure. We are optimistic for both Fred and Elaine! They both deserve it great results!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Elaine was exhausted after a busy Saturday. That didn't stop her from doing therapy though. Paul came over and they had a great session. He even had her playing badminton. She isn't comfortable with it, yet, but she will be. She rested a little this afternoon and then Staci, Ben and the kids came over before we all went to dinner together.

Elaine was exited to wear jeans for the first time since her stroke tonight. She looked adorable. She dreads wearing anything other than her workout clothes because she has to wear tennis shoes. Elaine has always preferred style to comfort, and was willing to sacrifice at any measure. After last New Years Eve, she couldn't walk for 2 days and had to call for an "emergency" foot massage because her feet hurt so badly.

Elaine is looking beautiful and anxious for the stem cell treatment Wednesday. She is a little nervous about bleeding because they don't want to take her off the Coumadin, but it isn't a huge concern. She is going to see her Physician tomorrow for final clearance.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner together and the kids all fight to hold Nammie's hand. Staci helped Elaine get ready for dinner tonight and is always amazed to see what Elaine goes through to get ready and how difficult it is for her to simply get dressed. We put on her shirt tonight and realized she needed a tank top under and it. Again, the things we take for granted but for Elaine, not only is it difficult to put a shirt on but also extremely painful moving Little Darlin' around. She is so amazing and didn't complain once. She is pushing herself every day to get better, and she is accomplishing that goal!  She is our walking miracle!


Fred and Elaine had a social Saturday. They went to Randall's memorial service this morning to celebrate the life of a great man and to support Cece, a dear friend. They both said that is was an exceptionally nice tribute to an exceptional man.

After the service and the reception that followed, Fred headed to the club to play golf. Elaine went home to get some rest. After all of that, they reconnected for dinner with Ron and Joannie and Ron and Michelle.

Here's hoping for a very restful night of sleep for Fred and Elaine tonight.

We hope everyone everyone who reads this will keep Randall and Cece and family in their prayers.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Elaine had a nice quiet day today before a busy weekend! She has not had much time off her feet this week and today, with a day off therapy too, seemed liked the perfect day!

She is feeling good and knows that rest is an important part of her recovery. She has had an incredible week, filled with lots of marked progress and some exciting things ahead.

A therapist said to us yesterday, "a day without laughter is a day wasted." We are sure if you are in the Newport area, you might even hear  Elaine (or any of us with her, its contagious) giggling!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Elaine had another great day! The morning started off well, she and Fred laughed a lot. Ben dropped off Starbucks, and then Staci picked Elaine up for therapy and a visit to the neurologist. When Staci arrived, Elaine was walking around holding a red piece of paper:

Obviously, Staci knew exactly what Elaine was doing. Since the minute she arrived at the ER, as a part of the series of neurological questions they ask, they ALWAYS ask to spell "world" backwards. She was bound and determined to get it right! They arrived at the doctor's office. After the nurse asked her questions and said, doctor will be in to see you in a few minutes. She hadn't even finished shutting the door before Elaine reached for her purse to study!

She put the paper away just in time. He came in and smiled to see her looking so beautiful and clearly doing even better than when he last saw her. She was telling him about the pain in her left arm and in leg, especially her foot. Her left foot and toes cramp up and her toes scrunch up, causing her a lot of pain. We will sneak a picture of the tape job she does on her foot each morning. He explained that it is the brain sending too much energy to specific spots (her upper shoulder as well as her foot). The brain is still trying to figure out how to compensate for what was lost. It is doing a remarkable job because of Elaine's hard work, forcing her brain to work. He prescribed a new medication to try and help alleviate some of the pain. He also encouraged her to give massage another try. She is much stronger now than she was a few months ago and he believes it would be very beneficial. He continued on with his evaluation and was impressed with her arm mobility, as well as strength. We knew the time was coming and here it goes:

D: "say no ifs ands or buts about it."
E: "no ifs and or buts about it."
D: "say the word world and spell it backwards"
the moment she has been waiting for all morning and...

Elaine gets the giggles and can't stop long enough to even get the "d" out. Staci goes on to explain why she is laughing so hard, and how Elaine frequently gets the giggles and laughs uncontrollably. We all agree is much better than crying! Needless to say, this got a slight laugh from even the doctor (who doesn't laugh). Elaine even gave him her pink bracelet! He will see her again in 8 weeks. He is thrilled with her progress and hopeful that the medicine will help ease the pain. 

They quickly hurried off to therapy for the next two hours. She spent most of PT walking on the treadmill and working on walking. Her hip has been hurting her and they think its because of the way she is walking. It seems like every time she goes there, someone is telling her a different way to walk. They all fight to work with her and it seems they all want to take credit for her progress. We know, without a doubt, that Paul is the one responsible for her progress and without him, she wouldn't be doing nearly as well. 

After PT, she had OT. They decided on some stretching for Little Darlin' and a neurology test today since her arm wasn't feeling very mobile. The therapist took her in a quiet room to eliminate all distractions today. As you can imagine, Elaine wasn't pleased. When you walk in there, she knows everyone's story and why they are there, and not just because they personally have told her:) Her radar is as strong as ever! 

She gets ready for the test, and this is her least favorite part of therapy, and it goes very well! Staci has been there for many of the tests since the beginning and was so proud of Elaine's improvements. A brief overview of the test. They give you 5 words (increased from 3 last time) at the beginning and then you are asked to remember them by the end. Elaine remembered 3, remembered that there were two more and with very small hints, remembered the other two. This was a HUGE improvement from last time. 

They ask you to remember a series of numbers and sentences (intended to trip you up) and she did excellent on that as well. The hardest part for Elaine is the math. They start at 100 and ask her to subtract 7 each time. Its tricky, try it! Again, it was the best she has ever performed! We all got a good laugh when she was asked to come up with as many "F" words in 1 minute, as she could. No proper nouns or numbers. Her first word, "fart." You can imagine the look of surprise on the therapist face coming from little Elaine. You can also guess that the giggles were soon to follow. Even with that diversion, she still was able to get 4 more words than she did last time. Her score went up by 3 whole points, which doesn't sound like a lot, but by the way its scored, it is a drastic improvement since April 5, which is when she took her last one. 

After therapy, Staci and Elaine met Fred and Taylor for lunch. They had a wonderful lunch together and continued laughing! Fred and Elaine then headed to the bookstore and then to pick up Elaine's new medication. They relaxed at home the rest of the afternoon after a very busy morning. 

We are so thrilled with Elaine's improvements. It has been such a great week and even Elaine can see a difference in herself. She is always her toughest critic. If for one minute she could look at herself though our eyes, she would be moved to tears and be in complete amazement. Keep it up Elaine!! We are so proud of you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Elaine had a great day. She is still excited from the noticeable progress from yesterday. She was very excited to share the news with Paul. She gives him almost all of the credit for helping Little Darlin' come back to life. He was thrilled to finally see her excited, too. He has been telling her how well she is doing, though its hard for her to see. She had a wonderful session and continued on her advanced course. Everyone is very excited for the stem cell procedure next week!

She rested this afternoon and then Staci picked her up to come watch the kids swim. The weather has been beautiful and she is enjoying the vitamin D, as well as watching the kids play. Staci noticed a major breakthrough today. Today was the first time that she saw Elaine pick up a drink with her left hand. Elaine was on the phone and picked up her water with her left hand. Not only was she multitasking, but incorporating Little Darlin' into her life without thinking about it. This was something that Staci clearly remembers Paul saying several months ago, that once Elaine starts incorporating her left arm into her life, we will know things are getting even better! Staci's heart started beating faster! It was a memorable moment. It is the little things we look for and we are so thrilled to see continued progress!

Elaine and Fred had dinner at home and are getting ready for a solid night of sleep. Elaine has therapy and a visit to her neurologist tomorrow. You remember, the one that told her she would never walk again. Wonder if he wants to watch the videos of her on the treadmill or putting?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Tuesday was all about progress. Elaine had therapy at Hoag and went incredibly well. She kicked ass at every task they there at her. The therapists all stopped to watch her amazing effort!

Here are some of Elaine's accomplishments from today (some of these are on video at the end of the blog).

1. Throughout this process, the therapists have been measuring Elaine's grip strength looking for improvement. Two weeks ago, Little Darlin' squeezed out 9 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure - not bad. But today, LD put 26 psi on that meter. That is an 88% increase in pressure. To put in perspective, her right hand applied pressure of 52 psi - meaning her left hand is at 50% strength. Pretty remarkable progress.

2. Remember the exercise when Elaine was putting the pegs in the holes? Elaine previous best time to complete the task was more than 2 minutes. Today she completed the task in 58 SECONDS.

3. Take a moment to watch the third video of Elaine walking on the treadmill at high speed with no hands. Unbelievable profess from where she was just weeks ago.

We are so proud of Elaine and her hard work. We are not at all surprised that Elaine has come so far. She is the bravest and most determined person we have ever met. We are so proud of her and her effort!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Elaine had a nice day. She was back to work with Paul this morning and had a good session. They both agreed that she is walking differently, having a little more trouble the past few days. Her feet feel heavy. As we know, things change and she has good and bad days. No one is concerned and we don't view it at a setback. She is still trying to catch up on rest and Little Darlin' has been causing her a lot of pain the past week, more than usual.

After therapy, Fred took Elaine to have a cranial sacral massage. It was not what they expected but Elaine felt like it did help Little Darlin'. She is going back next week again. In very exciting news, Elaine and Fred are both going to try the stem cell procedure. They are scheduled for next Wednesday in the desert. They will be in the office a total of 4 hours. Her doctors all agreed that it would be a great idea to try. They have seen very exciting and positive results. We are all very excited and optimistic!

This afternoon, Staci picked Elaine up to come and sit by the pool while the kids swam. They don't get to talk much since Brian is a wild man, but Elaine gets some sun and certainly is entertained:) After that, Fred and Elaine came over to the Francois house for dinner and more entertainment. As you can imagine with three loud kids and Fred in the house, well, its loud! We had a nice evening and are excited about all the new treatments Elaine is trying on the road to recovery!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Happy Mother's Day! We had a wonderful day. It started with breakfast and gifts in bed for Elaine. Then we headed over to brunch at the Vintage and celebrated with Marty and Rich before beating the heat and heading back to the beach!

This post is dedicated to the most wonderful mother in the entire world, from the most proud daughter there could ever be!

Today is Mother's Day! It is a day to honor your mother, do something special for her, and remember all the sacrifices she has made for you. Until the last two years, when we lived in Philadelphia, I had never missed spending a mother's day with my mom. I typically took that for granted. Every year, without question, on the second Sunday of May, I would be spending the day with my mom. I often times found myself taking for granted all the time I am fortunate enough to spend with my mom. I took for granted that she is without a doubt one of my most treasured gifts in life!

That all changed on the morning of January 27! I promised myself that if she would live through the day, I would never take a minute that I spend with her (or any of my loved ones) for granted. I have kept that promise.

Today was an extra special day because I think of how different today would have been for us had things gone differently a few short months ago. My mother is the most incredible, honorable, courageous, loving, caring, admirable, sincere person I have ever known. She has been so supportive of me since the day I was born. She never missed an activity I participated, an opportunity to be involved at any of the schools I attended or a chance to volunteer in any of the clubs or organizations I am or have been affiliated with. We often joke, although it wasn't a joke because she never said no, about how when I was growing up, whenever we needed a volunteer; whether is be a driver to Calexico, a person to chaperone us picking apples, an adult to stay up for 24 hours and sleep in a tent on the football field, the official taste tester during our cooking phase (which was short lived for a reason), the mom that would take us to the amusement park when no one else would. Our house was always the one where all my cousins wanted to be, too. She was the host of all the parties, big and small, and embraced the open door known as our front door where our friends would enter and were always welcome. She was "the cool mom!" She was the mom that everyone wanted to have and I was the lucky one!

My mom is someone I have always looked up to and admired. She has endured so much in her life and still managed to be the best mother, wife, friend, and grandmother that has ever been. She is without a doubt the most selfless person on this planet. She has always put those around her ahead of her and has bent over backwards to make people happy. She has the purest heart that has ever existed. She is loving, she is kind, she is everything good in this world.

I have come to realize over the past few months that I am not the only one that feels that way. It has been incredibly humbling, almost surreal, to see how many people care about the real Elaine. She has truly touched the lives of every single person she has ever met. She brings out the best in people and makes you want to be a better person.

I feel so lucky that I know I could fill an entire book talking about the fun things we have done, the countless ways she has changed my life, her endless list of attributes, the things big and small she has done for people. She truly defines the phrase, "to know her is to love her."

People often say, "I don't know how you are doing all you are doing right now." For me, or any of us, its not work at all. It really is an honor and a privilege to give back to someone that has spent her entire life taking care of us. Given the situation that is what it is, there is no place that we would rather be, and that is taking care and helping the greatest woman that has ever walked the face of the earth!

Mom, I honor you every day and there is not a single day that passes that I am not grateful to have been blessed with the world's greatest mom. These past few months have been some of the most challenging you have ever faced. You have handled them with so much grace and so much courage. You have done what very few, if any, could ever do. You have met this challenge head on and you are beating it. I am so proud of you and so proud to be your daughter! I love you with all of my heart and will forever idolize and adore you. I thank you for being the incredibly special person that you are and the person I am privileged enough to call mom and my best friend.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Saturday started out slowly for Elaine. She had such a great time at dinner the night before with her close friends from the desert. That made her pretty tired this morning. She thought that the optimal plan would be for her catch up on some much needed rest.  So, Elaine and Christi relaxed in bed this morning while Fred, Staci, and Ben played golf in the heat. After golf, Ben and Staci took the girls out on a shopping expedition so Elaine, Fred, and Brian could get some rest in peace!

It was a good thing she was able to rest up because the remainder of the day and night were incredibly busy! Her dear friend Barbara stopped by the house. They had a terrific visit talking about old times they had and good times ahead.  It was great for everyone to catch up with Barbara!

A little while later, Pat came by to check on Elaine and say hi to everyone. We all always love to see Pat. Elaine absolutely cherishes their friendship and enjoys their visits. 

After a couple of nice visits, Elaine had to get ready to receive a very special honor. Fred and Elaine were honored this evening by Palm Desert High School as the inaugural recipients of the PDHS Supporters of the Year at the high school's 25th anniversary function. Teachers, coaches, and alumni thanked them for all of their support over the years. 

The best part of the evening was when Fred was saying a few words to the audience. He made a nice donation to the newly formed PDHS Foundation and announced that he had created The Elaine Smith Courage Award to honor the courage that Elaine has shown over the past 100 days. The idea is to give a scholarship award to a student who has shown extreme courage in the face of adversity. It was an incredibly moving speech about Elaine and her inspiring battle that stirred the emotions of entire gymnasium. 

Here is a video of a portion of his speech where he begins to speak about Elaine. 

Friday, May 11, 2012


Fred and Elaine had an interesting day. They said goodbye to Mike and Diana after a really fun-filled two days. They were very sad to see them go. After an early morning drop off at the airport, Fred and Elaine packed their bags and headed to the desert. Elaine and Fred had a bit of an emotional drive down. We are all still shocked and saddened that this happened to Elaine. It doesn't seem fair and we don't understand why. She is doing so well and trying so hard. Fred is equally as incredible as they have both been thrown this major curveball and are facing it head on! They wouldn't be human if they didn't feel like that once in a while.  We all have a good cry now and then. It is a lot to process, even three and a half months later. They have each other and a support system that will do anything for them. They know how fortunate they are and appreciate it so much.

Elaine and Fred arrived safely in the desert. They had lunch and then drove over to a doctor appointment. One of their friends, Jim, called Fred to tell him that he had heard about some doctors doing some work with stem cells and stroke victims. Fred and Elaine had very high hopes!

The appointment went well. The doctor called Elaine, "a perfect candidate" for the procedure. They would try and find some fat on her little body to suck a syringe full of stem cells out. They would just use a local anesthetic, and apparently the whole thing is relatively quick and painless. They suck out the fat and separate the stem cells from the fat. They would then inject the stem cells back in to her body intravenously. Stem cells have been known to seek out damaged tissue and repair it. She would need to stay at the doctor for about three hours.

There is very little risk involved in the procedure. The biggest risk is that she would bleed because of her coumadin. If that were to happen, it would be a quick fix while they are at the hospital. It is not a big concern. She would need to continue on with her intense therapy and it would take up to three months to see results. There is no guarantee, as with anything. It could do nothing, BUT it could improve her condition up to 30%. Its very exciting! We still need to discuss it with her extensive team of doctors, however we are all very optimistic and excited.

Fred is also thinking about using the stem cells to help his knee. If they do the procedure, it will happened within the next few weeks. Timing is also critical and they have seen the best results doing it soon after the stroke. Again, they believe Elaine is a great candidate for this. They were very impressed with her attitude and determination. They can tell that she is working really hard and has the best chance at results. It is uncertain if she will try this but we wanted to share this exciting news! Please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers!

After the doctor, Elaine was exhausted. She watched a movie with Christi and Taylor and tried to get a little rest. She has had a big week. She even wore Diana out! Tonight, Fred and Elaine are having dinner at the Reserve with some of their close friends!

We hope they have a restful, pain free night and that they dream about stem cells.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Today was another great day for Fred and Elaine with Mike and Diana today. Elaine performed well at her therapy session with here audience. She was able to bounce a ball with both hands - a huge accomplishment that really impressed Diana. Then Elaine dominated the bike at rehab. It was a very progressive day!

Fred and Mike went to the club to hit some golf balls and play some cards. While the guys were doing that, Elaine and Diana headed to Fashion Island to do some damage. They started with a nice lunch at Canaletto where they ran into Staci, Taylor, and Brian.

After lunch is when things got a little goofy. They drove around the mall from the restaurant so they could do some shopping at Nordstrom's. They parked outside the store, and headed in.  This is about how it went:

Elaine: "Here we are. This is Nordstrom's"
Diana: "Great!"
D: "Are you sure this is Nordstrom's It doesn't look right."
E: "Yes, I am sure. This is definitely Nordstrom's."
D: "It doesn't look like Nordstrom's."
E: "Well, it is. Let's look around."
D: "Elaine, the tags on these shirts say "Forever 21". This is not Nordstrom's."
E: "Oh, ok. Maybe this isn't Nordstrom's"

Once they realized they were in Forever 21 (a teen girls' clothing store), they decided to actually go to Nordstrom. Unfortunately, they were too far to walk so Diane volunteered to run and get the car and pick up Elaine up.

Diane gave Elaine strict instructions, "Don't move from this spot. I will be right back to pick you up."

Elaine waited awhile. And waited some more. Finally, she figured that Diana must be lost so she walked over to the shuttle stop to get on the trolley at the exact moment Diana pulled up.  They were both cracking up (and all the way through dinner). Remember, this all happened before they even started shopping!

Finally, they made it into Nordstrom where Elaine did her part to get the economy back on track while she was shopping for shoes! She will be wearing those Blahniks in no time!

Tonight, Fred, Elaine, Mike, Diana, Staci, and Ben went to a great dinner at Mastros. There were a ton of big belly laughs for three straight hours. Diana told Elaine that these laughs are better abs workouts than any therapist can prescribe!

It was such a treat to have the Ditkas in town for a few days. It meant the world to Fred and Elaine that they would fly out here from Chicago. They had such a great two days full of love and laughter! The Smiths are so grateful for their friendship with Mike and Diana!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Elaine had an exciting day today! Staci popped in early this morning to drop off groceries and heard Fred and Elaine laughing up a storm. They spend so much time laughing during the day, and as the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine! Elaine had a great session with Paul. He was so pleased with her progress. 

A big break through today: she has a little machine with foot pedals. It has always been very difficult for her. Initially she started out sitting in a chair trying to push them down. Movement was minimal at best. Well, today she stood up, pushing them ALL THE WAY up and down without even holding on to anything! It was very exciting to watch. She continued to improve on all her exercises. 

Mike and Diana flew in from Chicago this morning to visit Fred and Elaine. They were excited to catch the end of therapy and see how great she looks. They are both so impressed with her dedication as well as how well her recovery is going. Elaine was especially excited to have Paul see Mike wearing his pink bracelet. Paul has a problem with a guy wearing a pink bracelet. She told him even Coach wears it every day. Paul carries it in pocket.  We don't think Paul believed it until today! See Paul, real men do wear pink, just as Elaine has been telling you for months!

Coach is the second best motivator (only behind Fred) we know and it meant so much to Elaine to hear from two of their oldest and best friends just how incredible and inspirational she is! Fred and Elaine had such a special day and feel so blessed to have Mike and Diana in their lives. They are so appreciative that they would fly all the way out here to see them and it really means the world to them. They are so really touched and so lucky to have such great friends. 

They went to Big Canyon to have lunch and then the guys went to play cards and the girls were going to get a manicure and pedicure. Elaine was tired and Little Darlin' was really hurting after the manicure. The ladies at the nail place understand the pain she is in. Its always hard to remember what she is going through because by looking at her, you simply can't tell! They went home to relax and sit outside. The Ditka's and the Smith's are going to have a war of the thermostat. The Smiths like it 90 and the Ditkas like it 50. Diana was dying to sit outside today so she could breathe. It was 80 and Elaine was laying outside with a blanket. It was pretty hilarious. Diana made Elaine laugh a ton this afternoon and they talked about some of the many fun times they have had over the 25 plus years they have been friends.

They met the guys at the club for dinner and finished off what Fred said was a "very special day!" We wish them all a restful night sleep and hope they can find a temperature that fits them all:) 

An update on Ashley. She is doing really well. Her HCG levels are at 2, down from 1 where is stayed for a while. She is feeling good, looks beautiful, and most importantly is cancer free! She has weekly blood draws to continue to monitor her HCG. She is as busy as ever with her crafts and all her projects. If you knew all she had going on, you would never guess she has been in a long battle with cancer!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Elaine had a great day! Apparently, the telling of a few personal stories didn't go over as intended, which was to get a few laughs. Elaine is in sound mental health and there is nothing to be alarmed about. It was just a story, a true story, but nothing to raise questions about:)

Elaine had a great two hour therapy session at Hoag. She actually walked on the treadmill today!! You can see the video. She hasn't been on a treadmill since her stroke. It is really cool. Fred and the therapist both noticed that the faster she walked, the better her stride was. It was amazing. It was an exercise that is reserved for only the "advanced" patients. She loves to hear that!

She also practiced buttoning and unbuttoning. She questioned why she had to do learn to do this, "I have Fred to help me", she said!

Fred quickly jumped in and said, "honey I like to unbutton your shirts, but I have no interest in buttoning them!" The therapist literally almost fell off the chair from laughing so hard. The session was awesome and she was able to put pegs in the board even faster than last time. They are going to reassess her on Thursday so we will have more details on her improvements. Its very exciting!

After therapy she came home to relax. She is saving all her energy up for the rest of the week. Mike and Diana are coming to town tomorrow for a few days. Both Fred and Elaine are extremely excited to see them.

Staci called this afternoon to see if Elaine wanted to come watch Brian and Taylor swim while Christi was at tennis. Elaine definitely wanted to get out and enjoy the sunshine. The kids were so excited to have Nammie there watching. Brian would look to Nammie after everything he did and smile yelling Nana, Nana. He was so desperately trying to hold Nammie's hand when were were crossing the street, too. It was so cute!

Fred and Elaine are having a nice dinner at home and getting to bed early! We are hoping they both sleep well as Fred was up again all night with her restless legs and Little Darlin' was in pain last night too!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Disclaimer: This will make you laugh and might change your perception of the Smiths:)

Elaine is definitely feeling better today. She was out and about and looks great. Her sense of humor is back as well:) She had a great therapy session with Paul where she did some new things and some old tricks even better!  At one point she said she was going to cry and Paul said, "Neither Fred nor I are going to get you a towel. You are doing so well and making such incredible progress."

So she decided to laugh instead of cry. She had the giggles today! Ben and Staci met Fred and Elaine for a quick lunch and Elaine was cracking us, and herself, up! She would remember funny stories or things that happened. A funny story to share. When Staci talked to Fred this morning he was laughing so hard about a story from yesterday:

F: "Yesterday mom came out of the bathroom and showed me her new "stroke bra."
S: (interrupting) "What is a stroke bra?"
F: "I have no idea but she wanted to try it. She was so wrapped up and we couldn't figure out how to get it on or off. We spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how she was so twisted and finally got it off."
S: "That is funny, where did she get a stroke bra?"
F: "I have no idea."
Elaine yells into the phone, " A SPORTS BRA!!! Not a stroke bra."

Yes, these are conversations and occurrences that happen multiple times during the day. It would make for a hysterical book!

Elaine also finally let Ben in on a couple secrets today at lunch. The first secret is that there is a snake that lives in a tree outside her house. We haven't seen it yet, but we are more careful when we are outside.

The second secret is a big one! Elaine told us that Baby Jesus also lives in a tree outside her kitchen window. Ben asked her how He stays up there, and Elaine responded that he sits there all day straddling a branch. Of course, she says it while giggling! We obviously laugh and Paul (the therapist) tells us not to encourage her antics (they have a great rapport ), and explains how she is always up to something during their sessions. In all seriousness, Elaine believes He is there watching over her, and there is no doubt that she has many watching over her and certainly He is and has been involved from the beginning.

After lunch, and many laughs, Fred and Elaine went to see the movie, "Safe." We are pretty sure both Fred and Elaine only go to the movies for the popcorn (and Elaine a nap). They both loved the movie and it kept Elaine awake the entire time. They then went home to relax.

Fred and Elaine laugh their way through the days and the silly things they both do. This afternoon, Fred was outside enjoying the sun and Elaine went to ask him a question while he was outside and she was on the couch. A little while later, Fred went to come inside and the door was locked. He started banging on the door. She heard him and got up.

E: "Fred, what are you doing?"
F: "You locked me out!"
E "No I didn't, I've just been sitting on the couch the entire time."
F: "Well how do you think it is possible for me to lock the door from the inside when I am outside?"
E: "Hummm, well I guess I did then." and they both bursted into laughter.

Its amazing that during such a challenging situation, they have grown closer than ever. They are able to laugh with each other and at each other too.

Tonight, Fred and Elaine come over to the Francois house for a quick dinner and then to Christi's school to watch Christi perform in the Wizard of Oz. It was really cute and Christi was so excited to have them there. When Taylor heard they were coming she, "Nammie is coming even with her stroke?" Christi looked at them throughout the show. She was so proud that they were there!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Elaine had a quiet weekend. We aren't quite sure if she had a little flu bug or just overtired. She spent the weekend not feeling well and sick to her stomach. The good news is, this means she spent a lot of time resting and laying in bed. She is feeling better tonight, and you can hear it in her voice. Now that she is on the road to recovery, Fred and Elaine are happily at dinner with the Rountrees.

Elaine continues to be in the thoughts and prayers of so many. We are so grateful for the support and she needs her wonderful friends and family as she continues on this journey. She is working so hard and fighting through this like a champion. Ben and Staci were in the desert this weekend. They saw several of Elaine's friends, all whom are so concerned yet so happy to see her progressing so well. She has inspired so many people, many of whom she doesn't even know. It is such an honor for us to hear people talking about Fred and Elaine with so much love. The tremendous amount of people that are supporting her, from all generations, is incredible. It is a tribute to two of the world's greatest people. It is not the ideal way you want to find out how many people care about you, but it sure helps get you through a very tough situation.

The relaxation can't last forever. Elaine is back in therapy tomorrow ready to take on the challenges that come her way and continue to make progress toward a full recovery.


Quick post today! Elaine had a great day after a very restful night of sleep. She went to sleep at 7 last night!  That led to a very productive day of therapy at the house!

Look forward to a more comprehensive report after Staci and Ben get home from the desert!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


After a very big week, Elaine was exhausted today! She needed a quiet day, filled with staying off her feet and relaxing. Staci took Elaine on a few errands in the morning and then even Elaine said, she wanted to go home. We were hoping she would get some sleep, no such luck but at least she was home!

We feel like Elaine had made huge strides this week and we are so proud of her. She pushed herself when she could, and also knew today that she needed to have some downtime. We noticed improvements in her physically and mentally just this week. She showed confidence in herself as well. It is hard for her to see how well she is doing but she amazing and we are so incredibly proud of her. There is no doubt that only someone with Elaine's courage, determination, attitude, and will would be where she is. She also has Fred, who is so loving, supportive, encouraging, and helps her get better every second of every day.

Back to therapy tomorrow so we hope she gets some rest tonight!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Elaine had an incredible day and just keeps looking and acting more and more like "Elaine." Elaine and Staci went to Hoag therapy today. She worked exclusively on her walking. Elaine is in the habit of walking with a "peg leg" on her left side. They are trying to get her working on heel to toe and especially focusing on putting weight on her toes. It was a great sign today, her toes, especially her big toe were very uncomfortable. This means they are waking up! Another sign pointing towards recovery and a reward for her hard work! This picture shows the exercise they were doing and then they put her on a block, bearing her weight on the block. She did it so well, the therapist was amazed!

Elaine finally said, "why I am the only one that is walking around doing laps all the time?" The response, "because you are the only one that can!"

After lunch, Staci and Elaine headed for burgers, fries and shakes! Yes, we are meal oriented and we don't miss a meal:)

Elaine was determined to go putt some more this afternoon. They headed to the putting green after lunch and putted for about an hour. Elaine's leg was real shaking by the end. She had a crowd of fans coming over to watch the walking miracle. She was putting with one arm and was incredible. She made 80% of her putts. Natalie met us there and she was so helpful and encouraging. She even chalked a line for Elaine to putt on. She did awesome. We were going to try and chip but with all the talking and her success on the putting green, we didn't quite make it! This video is just a small glimpse into how well she is putting!

Katherine stopped by for a visit too and to witness this incredible putter!

Elaine had to hurry home to meet Barbara and MJ. She was thrilled to see them. They have both visited her so often from the beginning and are amazed to see how far she has come. Elaine was so touched to see them and visit with them! Thank you! We have said it before but it is worth repeating: Elaine is so touched by her her friends making such an effort to be supportive during these past few months. Thank you! Thank you!

Elaine finished the day off by watching Christi during swim practice. The weather was beautiful out and she relaxed by the pool. Fred and Elaine had a delicious dinner at home. Elaine was looking forward to bed after her very busy and active day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Elaine had a wonderful day! She looked like Elaine of old this afternoon. We wish the hospital staff could see her now!

She started the morning with her usual two hour therapy session. She did really well and of course worked very hard. Paul was impressed with how much she focused today and more importantly how hard she worked to not get distracted. He blames her wandering mind on her stroke. Anyone that knows Elaine, knows that she has always one ear listening to everything else that is going on. She did her exercises well and is walking with an even stronger leg and at a swifter pace.

After therapy, Staci picked her up to take their friend Jennifer to lunch for her birthday. They had a nice time and did a a little shopping. When Staci went to take a picture of them eating cake, Elaine joked that she only takes pictures when Elaine is eating and people must think that is all she does:) They wandered around the mall for a bit and then went to pick up the kids from school.

When Staci went back to drop off dinner, she was amazed and surprised to see Elaine looking like, well herself!

This evening, Fred, Elaine, and Natalie went out to putt and chip. Natalie said she had talked to Butch about Elaine and he said to start with just using her right hand. That is how you putt anyway and the left had just gets in the way. She is doing really well and felt so good to be out there. Don't be surprised to see Fred out on the course putting with one hand now either! They practiced some putts and chips and she made more than she missed! Although it feels so foreign to her, she looks like she hasn't lost a beat. These videos show her putting and chipping. It was really cool! Thanks Natalie for spending some time with her and helping her out.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Today was a GREAT day! Elaine had a great night of sleep and awoke to a latte at the door that Ben had dropped off. It was a wonderful start to the busy day she had ahead. Elaine had therapy at Hoag today. She had her best session to date. Fred was with her and was moved to tears by what she was able to do today. She did her exercises well and correctly! She even laid on the table and essentially made a "T" with her body, BOTH arms extended out wide and up high. Elaine was excited today, too.

She had an skip in her step today. Four of her best buddies drove up from the desert to see her. Pat, Marty, Cindy, and Beverly were at her door when she got home from therapy! She was so thrilled to see them. She is so humbled by the love and friendship her friends have continued to show, even months after her stroke. You guys lift her spirits so much and so thank you for making such an effort. Her therapy didn't end until later today so they even had to sit in traffic the whole way home. Elaine was so appreciative and just sad it had to end! They shared lots of laughs and enjoyed seeing Fred and Elaine's new home. Beverly even dressed for the house today. She could live right in the closet and no one would know she was there! Its hard to notice her since your eyes go straight to the bright background known as Fred's pants.

They went to lunch at Big Canyon and Cece joined them as well. It was a fun afternoon and just another pre-stroke activity that Elaine was able to do. Fred and Staci both felt Elaine was ready to step out without either one of them. While Elaine was a little hesitant, she also knows how well she is doing and how much we trust and believe in her progress. We also knew she was in great hands:) Don't let Fred fool you, he just went to the driving range a few yards away. Thank you girls for making the trip up and for loving Elaine. All of her friends give her so much strength through your texts, emails, calls, visits, prayers, reading the blog, and your love. Make no mistake about it, you all are responsible in helping with her recovery and being part of a miracle! Elaine is a VERY loved women and very deserving of the love too!

A funny note about something that happens daily: We all have our phones set with a reminder at 4:45PM for Elaine to take her Coumadin. Her cell starts ringing daily at the time and she answers, "I took it," but in a appreciative voice and with a laugh! She is not lacking for caretakers!