Saturday, June 30, 2012


Elaine slept well but woke up with a swollen left foot. By about noon, it was even bigger. They decided they better call the doctor. First he had them test her INR (Coumadin level). It had been pretty consistent at 2.8 and it was up to 3.1, which means her blood is getting thicker. It is still at at a level that her cardiologist is comfortable with, so no need to panic, but they did adjust her medication. She is on bed rest for the next 24 hours, with her legs elevated and we will see how it looks in the morning. Elaine was also told she needs to watch her salt intake, and she tends to have a very heavy hand with the salt shaker in her hand.  No cause for alarm and she is still feeling good! She clearly had a very busy week and continues to increase her activity, doing things she hasn't done for several months!

Here is a look at her foot tonight. We wish them a restful night and that the swelling is gone by morning!

Friday, June 29, 2012


Two bits of big news today for Elaine. The first piece is that Elaine was not sore at all following her golf excursion. That is a huge improvement from last time when she felt it for a few days.

Also, it was such a treat for Elaine that Maureen drove all the way up from San Diego for lunch. We were all so happy to see her and have a chance to say hello! Elaine was so appreciative of Maureen's company and loved hearing continued encouragement from her! Elaine is blessed to have such great friends who expend considerable effort to show support and just be around Elaine!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


We saw flashes of the old days today. It was so exciting! Elaine had a massage this morning to continue to loosen up her tight muscles, especially in her back. After that, she joined Fred and Staci on the back 9 and played 8 holes with them. It was simply awesome and amazing to watch. It was impossible to imagine that we thought Elaine would ever play golf again. Today she was out there, teed off with her driver and hit every club in the bag! She hit them in the air, which Fred and Staci were surprised to see. She consistently hit the ball at least 100 yards and even banged a few 125 yards. Elaine drove herself in the cart, but we had to remind her to step on the peddle and floor it. She said it still feels so foreign to be out there but we kept reminding her that she is out there and it will only get better from here. She walked a ton, with all the unevenness of the grass, greens, curbs, and all the hills,  it was exhausting but she never complained and kept pushing. Fred and Staci were thrilled beyond words to be out there with her and to see her actually hitting the ball in the air and staying balanced was just a bonus. We are all so proud of her grit and determination. She truly is inspiring, because it would have been so easy to give up on doing any activity again. She drove the cart, drove the ball, chipped and putted. We are saving the sand for another day, but we know that day will come. It was such a fun day and made it much easier for Fred and Staci, as they both hit it out of bounds on 18, to walk away with a smile! Check out the video of her swing and be amazed at this incredible lady's courage!

Fred and Elaine had a quick lunch on the patio and then they went back to the range where Elaine tried to help Fred with his swing:) They went to Lido Isle tonight and had a wonderful dinner at the O'Donnell's house, where the Sage's also joined them as well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


It is utterly amazing to see Elaine's toes today. We are VERY frustrated by the fact it took us this long to get the botox shot and that it wasn't suggested to us sooner. We are however, very grateful that it is working and Elaine's foot is feeling better. Now she is to learn a new way to walk away but fortunately, this is the right way and her body is able to physically cooperate with her! It is very exciting and Elaine is much more comfortable. Now we just need a solution for Little Darlin'.

Elaine had therapy with Paul, who was also thrilled to see her toe and her increased mobility. He continues to see improvement. It seems that her weakest area is her rotator cuff. This is something she must improve on to continue on towards her recovery. It seems some days are better than others, with no rhyme or reason - other then the stroke, of course. It is amazing to see her strength and the way her left arm is getting involved in her exercises. We keep reminding her that not that long ago she referred to it as her "dummy arm" and it was just that. It didn't even move! Now its bearing weight and making cookies! She works diligently and hard, and it is inspiring to watch her go day in and day out.

She continued on with her busy day, having Franny take her for a manicure and some errands. Then she came to watch Christi race in her first swim competition. She even walked down from her house to the club. She enjoyed lots of attention in her bright yellow shoes and shirt from all the well wishers. Will sat down to cheer on Lucy and Christi with her. Fred and Elaine were definitely the best dressed at the pool! They were also the loudest cheering section during the parent/child swimming relay! Ben and Christi made us very proud! It was a very fun day and we love to see Elaine pushing herself to getting back to her daily life, never sitting home feeling sorry for herself!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Betty Crocker is back! The girls all came by today to bake Elaine's chocolate chip cookies. Although Taylor and Christi felt like it was a team effort, Elaine was definitely running the show and doing the hard work. She cracked the eggs. She ran the mix master. She even took the cookies out of the oven with one hand (much to Staci's dismay)! It was a fun day for everyone! 

As for Elaine's toe, she noticed some improvement and it felt a little better. She canceled therapy for the week because the pain in her toe has altered her gait and she doesn't want to ingrain bad habits. 

Debbie came by today to check on Elaine and offered to take her to the Match Play Party. It was an incredibly generous offer and so sweet of Debbie!  Elaine decided to hold off and enjoy dinner at home - delivered by Staci and Brian!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Elaine had an exciting day. Her toes have continued to cause more problems and are really affecting her walking ability, as well as causing a lot of pain. Fred decided come hell or high water, he was going to find a doctor that would give her botox. He didn't disappoint!

Elaine did her two hour therapy session, pushing her way through it. Paul tried to loosen up her toes without much success. Fred called at noon with the great news that they were heading to Hoag shortly. He was in San Deigo with Ben for a meeting and they were racing back. Below is a photo of her toes. You can see how crooked her big toe is and completely covers her other toe. It is even more painful than it looks.

They got in to see the doctor and they loved him. He is a neurologist and had wonderful bedside manner and was very caring. He spent a lot of time with them, going through her history and especially the last few months. He was amazed at how well Elaine is doing and believes that she will make a full recovery! That is music to our ears! He also believes that the botox will help! He said it will take a few times to really make a difference. He injects the nerve that runs up her leg. Today he started at the bottom of her leg, just above her ankle and each visit will continue to go up her leg. He also believes the botox will help the spasticity in her leg, which is really exciting for Elaine too! Spasticity is tightening and stiffness of her muscles that she can't control. She goes back again next Monday. The visit continued to get better. He had some extra botox left so she asked him to put it in her face. It was a great day and we continue to be very optimistic! Here you can see the injection spots as he begins to work his way up her leg on this nerve that controls her toe. 

Fred and Elaine came over to the Francois house for some stuffed peppers and to see Christi, who returned home safely this afternoon after a very fun filled weekend. She shared stories and videos and kept Nammie and Ampa very entertained. It was great to have a family dinner tonight! 

Thank you Fred for continuing to fight for Elaine and thank you Elaine for inspiring us daily! You are both amazing!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


We are back. Did you miss us? If you answered yes, you are in the minority. Taylor asked if we could stay gone for more nights, and Christi wants to move in with Wes and Mona.

It was a milestone weekend for Elaine. One of those times that we will be talking about for a long while. "Remember the time that Staci and Ben went out of town and left the kids at Elaine's house for the first time since the stroke?"

Elaine stepped up and stepped back into her old life as Nammie with responsibility for a 4 year old and a crazy 21-month old. Not surprisingly, Elaine excelled and played her role to perfection. Taylor told us that Nammie was up early making breakfast by herself. That sounds like the Elaine we know. We are sure that nothing makes her happier or motivates her more than being able to handle her grandchildren on her own.

The past couple of days were filled with non-stop snack making, swimming at the Big Canyon pool, trying to get kids to sleep, and trying to get kids to eat. Luckily, no one had to deal with kids who missed their parents!

Speaking of Elaine getting her life back, SHE ACTUALLY PLAYED NINE HOLES OF GOLF THIS WEEKEND!!! Like we said, it was a milestone weekend!!!

We are sure that Fred and Elaine (and Franny - a big thank you to her) are all very tired from the past few days. We hope everyone sleeps well and all the way through the night!

Friday, June 22, 2012


Okay Team Elaine. Short post here. It is going to be a wild weekend. Staci just put Christi on her first solo flight. She is heading to San Jose to stay with our close friends, Mona and Wes (good luck up there). Christi is SOOO excited. Take a look!

Earlier in the day, Staci dropped off the smaller kids for a Weekend at Nammie and Ampa's.  Taylor and Brian are incredibly excited about that!

Last night was not exactly a restful sleep for the Smith household. Today, they stayed at home skipping therapy in order to rest up for what will likely be a tiring weekend!

With that, Staci and Ben are off to Vegas for the weekend! Next post will be on Sunday!  Good luck to the Smiths and Wes and Mona - and to Staci and Ben!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Elaine woke up feeling better and her posture looked much better after her massage today. She was looking forward to some answers about her toes and hopefully getting botox. The first stop for Fred and Elaine was Haog for some therapy. It was cut a little short because of her doctor's appointment but she still did great and impressed everyone!

After that, they went to the see the neurologist. He was running very late, which you can imagine didn't make Fred very happy. After an hour, they finally got to see him. He went through his usual series of questions, "What is this?" pointing to his watch. "What is this" pointing to his elbow. "What is this?" pointing to his finger?"
Elaine: " a pointer."
Dr: "WHAT?"
Elaine: "pointer."
Dr: pointing to his finger again, "what is this Elaine?"
Elaine: pointer. see, point and she points to his watch, point as she points to her elbow. At this point even the man who rarely smiles actually laughed and Fred and Elaine were hysterical. Elaine is a character. She undoubtedly has to be his most colorful patient.

He did look at her toes after and was surprised to see them. We will get a photo tomorrow so you can understand her discomfort. Oddly enough, he personally doesn't do botox in her foot but his colleague that is out of town does. He is going to get back to her next week. It is something that definitely needs to be done by a neurologist.  We will continue to search for answers. She is doing so well and if we could find a solution to her toes and foot pain, it would make such a huge difference!

Fred and Elaine went to lunch after the doctor and did some retail therapy. They enjoyed being outside in the beautiful weather. Fred felt that the massage helped him a little yesterday, so he had another one this afternoon. Staci and the kids stopped by after for some Nammie and Ampa time and to sneak some cheetos, though the orange fingers don't make them or the grandparents look very sneaky though!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Elaine had an exciting day again today! She had a great therapy session with Paul. He is also on board of her continuing to gain some independence. He feels that soon it will be time to eliminate a few days of therapy and allow her time and energy to live. She is taking her driving test on July 17th and we will evaluate everything after that. It is all very exciting though and huge steps forward, milestones we weren't sure she would ever physically be able to accomplish. She is such an inspiration to us all!

After therapy she had a massage and it felt great. She is also going to try some acupuncture from someone that works exclusively with stroke patients. She is hoping to get some relief in Little Darlin' as well as her foot. She is also going to see her neurologist tomorrow and hoping to get some botox in her left foot to ease the foot and toe pain.

Tonight was a HUGE step for Elaine mentally and physically and we are so proud of her! This week is the ladies member guest, and she went to the opening party. We are so proud of her for going and she had a great time. Everyone was so welcoming and excited to see her and she was so happy to be out and about. Of course she looked beautiful too! She did forget to take photos though!! A very special thank you to Gloria for picking her up and bringing her home tonight. That was so sweet and thoughtful and Elaine (and all of us) really appreciate it!

Fred also had a massage tonight hoping to help with his leg pain. The therapist said he has the highest IT bands she has ever seen or worked on. It was a painful massage but hopefully well worth it!

A big day tomorrow with doctors visits and more therapy. Elaine is amazing and to see where she is today is nothing short of a miracle. She has pep back in her voice and is excited by her progress!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Last night, Fred discovered that Elaine accidentally took her night medicine in the morning. This explains why she was so tired yesterday and felt very out of it all day. Her medicine box was upside down and Elaine opened it as she usually would and grabbed the pills. It was a lesson learned and Fred has now marked the box as an extra reminder. The therapist said it will take another day for her body to regulate. Needless to say, she still plugged through the day today!

Staci picked Elaine up to go to Hoag. She still managed to have a really great session despite being a little out of sorts. Staci didn't go with Elaine last week and was amazed to see such noticeable progress in just a week. Her left knee is now straightening on its own and when she steps, it doesn't stay bent. She is really walking incredibly well and making great "strides" towards a normal walk. It is easy to see why she had the hitch. If you are standing, bend your knee and try and walk. You will feel how your opposite hips pops out. This was something Elaine was doing every time she was on her feet, and she couldn't help it. Through all her hard work, she has retrained her leg and also gained the necessary muscle strength to support it. It was really exciting. They are continuing to work on her taking equal strides with both her left and right leg and to have her heel hit the ground first on her left leg and get up on her toe. The therapist has also encouraged the rest of us to not remind Elaine of specific things to work on while she is walking but simply suggest she feel her walk. They are working hard on her proprioception, which in simple terms means her ability to understand where her feet are without thinking about it and knowing they are going to be in the right place.

After PT, Elaine had OT. While Staci and Elaine were waiting for the session to start, Staci suggested that Elaine try and put these tiny (and they are tiny) pins in the board. The even trickier part was that they are key-shaped so you have to figure out how to make them fit. Elaine even surprised herself when she was able to do it. The therapist even walked over open mouthed. It was really cool!

After that Elaine worked on her hand-eye coordination with the therapist shining a laser pointer against the wall while Elaine chased it with her hands. She did it really well so they decided to make it more challenging by having her count backwards by 4s from 100. That proved to be quite tough, but Elaine did well. She also used the arm machine and had her best 5 minutes on it yet!

Staci, Elaine, and the therapist then discussed how well Elaine is doing and that it really is time to start incorporating her daily life into therapy. Staci explained to Elaine that no one thought she would be doing as well as she is, and have the ability to do so many things. The next big hurdle is her gaining the confidence to be able to do things consistently without worrying or wondering if she is able. Next week they are going to practice cutting fruit and vegetables, opening cans and jars, and continuing to do normal activities. Elaine is going to go to the grocery store this week and push a cart as well as find her list by herself. These are all tasks that Elaine can do, but hasn't done in five months so they seems a little intimidating  -  she just needs to practice. We are also going to work on her math skills to continue to wake that area of her brain up.

It was truly a remarkable day, especially for Staci. We know how courageous and brave and dedicated Elaine has been throughout the process.  But it was so exciting to actually see things really coming together for her and for her to see her progress. She really is able to do things we never thought she would be able to do again, and she has so many things to look forward.

Elaine: remember, just because you CAN cook, doesn't mean you have to every night:)

We are so proud of her and feel fortunate to see her making such measurable progress. We are on to the next step of getting her life back. Christi, Taylor, and Brian will now become an active part of her therapy as well as she discovers that she can get their snacks and drinks, change Brian's diaper, play their make-believe games, and get back to being Nammie. Nothing would make any of them happier, especially Nammie. We are so grateful!!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Elaine was exhausted after her big day yesterday. She did muster up the energy to do her two hour therapy session though. It went well. Paul has been working on her foot and trying to massage it as well as do some exercises for it. She did very well in therapy despite her exhaustion. After she went right to bed and laid down, without even being told to do so:) She fell asleep and spent the rest of the day relaxing and resting. Fred was exhausted too from another sleepless night and played golf in a military event today (a 7 hour round!). Staci dropped off the tired house some dinner.  Hopefully, they are sleeping quietly and soundly.

Paul told Elaine that he thinks she is nearing the end of physical therapy. She will continue to do therapy but her therapy will become living her everyday life and trying to get her body to her old life. He said in about a month she should plan to start returning to her old routine and see how her body adapts. She is doing incredibly well and she will continue to improve but that her therapy will be about living. Elaine is excited but a little apprehensive about what exactly that means and how much better she will get. We all feel she will continue to improve and the more she is able to continue to gain independence as well as do activities she used to do, the better. As we reminder her all the time, she has come so far in such a short period of time and she will continue to get better. Unfortunately we can't snap our fingers or no one can give her a timetable of when she will be better or to what capacity. She is able to do more now than we ever thought she would be able to and with her determination and hard work, things will just continue to get better!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Since it is Father's Day today, it seems like a fitting day to pay tribute to an amazing man, who just happens to be my dad!

The past five months have certainly been some of the toughest my family has faced. The constant rock that has held us all together is without a doubt, my dad. I have seen a side of him that I never knew he had, and the greatest display of patience one person could have. He has become the most selfless person I have ever known. He has displayed, through his actions, what true unconditional love is all about and what is means to love someone, "in sickness and in health." My mom has made incredible progress and is truly a miracle. I know there is no way she could be in the position she is now without the constant love, support, and encouragement from my dad.

He has never complained, he has never asked why, and he has never balked at taking care of my mom. She has continued to grow increasingly more independent, but it hasn't always been like that. He rarely left her side the entire time she was in the hospital, logging in more hours than anyone had ever seen in a hospital. The instant he saw her in the ICU, he cried, tears of joy that she was alive, and said to her, "you have never looked more beautiful to me in your entire life" and he meant it. When I saw her eyes light up when he walked in the door and this immediate level of comfort that she suddenly felt, knowing he was there, made my heart swell. She knew that he would help her make the best decisions possible and you could see the complete trust she had in him. He sat there and held her hand for almost 48 hours straight and you would see her looking for him and his hands at all times. She was terrified for her life, literally, as was he, and together they drew so much strength from each other. I have been fortunate enough to have a front row seat for the past few months and I marvel at my dad's strength, love, and dedication. He scours the earth for anything that could potentially help her get better, and leaves no stone unturned.

My dad has been so selfless, and would never tell a soul all he does daily. He has sat through countless hours of therapy, trying to learn with my mom so that he can help her and correct her. He has held every doctor and therapist accountable and made sure they were doing their best to help. He used to get up with her in the middle of the night as often as she needed to and helped her to the bathroom, help her cut her food, he helped her shower every single day and get dressed. He learned to cook, started going to the grocery store, followed her morning and night routine, without complaining. He brushed and dried her hair, tied her shoes, and even learned to draw blood. We are so thankful that my mom is now able to do most of these things herself, however my dad was fully prepared and willing to do them for the rest of her life. He never complained and always reminded her that it was a privilege to take care of her. It was been incredible for me knowing that my mom was being so well taken care of and is so lucky to have my dad as her husband.

I am so incredibly proud of my dad and I feel so honored to be his daughter. I never get tried of hearing people say how lucky I am to have such a great dad, what a great guy he is and seeing how loved he is by so many. I am overwhelmed with emotion at the man is he and the example he is to me and my family. He makes us want to be better and achieve great things. He is kind, generous, loving, honest, and you will never in your life meet a more loyal friend. I have the honor of calling him my best friend and I know I can always count on him. As we are reminded all too often how precious and short life is, I am so grateful to have such a special and close relationship with my dad. I am so blessed that my kids and my husband are able share such a close relationship with him, and how important he is in their lives as well.

There is only one Fred Smith in this world, and how I was lucky enough to be his daughter, I will never know. Dad, I love you! Thank you for being you, thank for for being such a great example to us all, and thank you for taking such good care of mom. We have heard it from the first day in the hospital, Elaine is so lucky to have such a strong support system. You are the foundation, and there is no way she, or any of us, could have gotten through this without you. You have a heart of gold and you will always be my hero. I hope you know that every day I am grateful to have you as my father, and my friend. Happy Father's day!

And a happy day it was! Fred has still not slept and is absolutely exhausted, although he won't complain, because as he says, "its nothing compared to what mom is going through." Fred and Ben wanted to watch the golf today and relax. We went over to the Smith house and walked into a house that smelled like Elaine's house! She had a ham and a brisket in the over, the rolls were rising, and the table was set beautifully. The shocking part: Elaine was home alone and did this on her own! Little Darlin' was being put to the test today! The meal was delicious and Fred and Ben were very happy.

After lunch we left Fred to nap and the rest of us headed to the pool. Elaine didn't want to be dropped off or picked up in the front, she wanted to park and walk with us. She got her own water and picked up Brian all by herself. These are huge improvements and accomplishments for Elaine personally. She started yesterday picking up Brian without someone handing him to her and helping her hold him.

Elaine got hot and decided it was time to get home and rest. Staci offered to let Elaine drive home and Elaine jumped at the chance. Staci's car is big, and Elaine hated driving it before she "got stroke." She jumped in the car, put the car in reverse and off we went. She is gearing up for her driving test in a few weeks. She did amazingly well, and Staci wasn't even nervous. She does need to remember to drive with only one foot, but she did great! It was the first time she has ever driven to her house. It was very exciting!

Fred and Elaine are headed to bed early tonight and ready for another week. Her progress continues to amaze us and she definitely didn't lose her touch in the kitchen. We hope they sleep and that Fred gets some much needed rest

We wish all the Father's a very happy Father's day and hope that you had a wonderful day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Elaine had a very busy today. It all started with a serious therapy session. There was a ton of focus on her left hand today. One of he key drills was to crinkle a piece of paper with Little Darlin'. This exercise requires several different movements and commands from the brain to the hand. Elaine did great almost willing the messages from her brain to her hand!

Then, the therapist took an interest in Elaine's toes which have been overlapping with one another. He said that it will take some work and some massage, but that they can make progress on keeping them straight.

After therapy, Elaine headed out to the golf course to watch Ben and Kevin. It turned into an occupational therapy session as she was driving Staci and Allison around in the golf cart!  She did a great job (Ben and Kevin, not so much).

Elaine and Fred finished the day with a great dinner at Mastro's with the Hatfields who were in town to see the Smiths.


Elaine got a great night of sleep last night. A night of sleep she definitely needed to rest up for all of the activity on today's schedule. She had a very busy day at the mall with Cindi. She started at Dry Bar. Then, Cindi and Elaine moved on to some more serious business - hat shopping at Neiman Marcus!

Later in the day, Elaine and Joanie joined Fred and Ron who were watching the US Open at the house. Fred and Elaine feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends! Of course, it wasn't all about the golf as Elaine spent some serious time looking after all the kids.

It was a nice break to have a day off from therapy for Elaine. Of course, it all starts right back up tomorrow!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Elaine had a slight medicinal change that really paid off. She was able to get a FULL night of sleep last night for the first time in a while - a much deserved night of sleep. Fred said she conked out at 8 PM and was asleep when he left in the morning.

Later in the morning, Staci, Allison and whole gaggle of kids stopped by the house for a visit and to drop off some coffee for Elaine. Elaine had a little bonus when Allison volunteered to be her new stylist. Check out the before and after shots below.

This gave Fred a nice break to enjoy watching the US Open on his wall of TVs with Ron.

After all the visiting, it was off to Hoag for some serious therapy sessions. The physical therapist focused again on walking and Elaine was a star. She is getting closer and closer to a steady unhitched step with her left leg. It is is incredible to see her progress from just a short time ago.

Then it was on to occupational therapy where it was all about incorporating her left hand into some everyday tasks. They had Elaine working on hanging clothes, folding clothes, carrying groceries - things you and I may take for granted, but take a remarkable amount of willpower and strength to accomplish. She performed exceptionally well, though she is not sure she really wants to be hanging or folding clothes!

Get some rest Elaine! Another big day tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Elaine had a fun day today. She had another great day of therapy and continued to work on her walking "without a hitch." It is slowly but surely getting better! After therapy, Grace, Carol, Cookie, and Sarah come up for a visit and to have lunch with Elaine! Elaine was so excited to see them and so touched that they would drive up from San Diego to see her. They had a fun filled lunch and lots of laughs. They were all so impressed with the progress Elaine has made and how wonderful she looks. Grace brought Elaine some of her favorite chicken burgers from the Rancho Santa Fe. Elaine was thrilled to be having one of her favorite dinners tonight! It was a wonderful and special afternoon for Elaine! She is always humbled but the effort that people go to, to visit her and think of her. We are all in agreement, she is a very special lady!

Elaine continues to battle getting a restful night of sleep and being able to nap in the afternoon. At night she is able to fall a sleep, but doesn't sleep very soundly. We are sure part of it is due to the fact that she can't get comfortable and that she is in constant pain. It is so important that she gets rest and we are trying to figure out ways to get her little body more sleep to heal.

Back to Haog tomorrow to continue to work on Little Darlin' and her walk!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Another wild night at the Smith house. Unfortunately, Fred had a tough time with his legs and neither he nor Elaine had the best night of sleep. Well, as they say, no rest for the weary.  .  .

Elaine was off to therapy at Hoag today. Her vacation was definitely over. The therapist once again focused on independence. This entails having Elaine use her left hand to complete daily tasks. To force her to use Little Darlin', the therapist put an oven mitt on Elaine's left hand and had her work on a few specific tasks with just Little Darlin'. Those tasks include cutting food, shampooing her hair, brushing her hair, and brushing her teeth. The therapist suggested that Elaine try the oven mitt at home to encourage the use of Little Darlin' everyday!

They also worked hard on walking with a steadier gait. It is not easy work, but as you all know, Elaine never gives up and wants to improve every single day. Take a look at this video of her walking! 

Monday, June 11, 2012


The week is off to a great start. Fred made it home safely, and Elaine was sure happy to see him! She slept well, although she is continuing to battle a very painful Little Darlin'. Elaine had yet another superb therapy session this morning. She continued to amaze Paul and her walking is getting more normal and requiring less prompting from us. She was hoping that with a few days away from Fred, she would have a break from those courteous reminders - keep your left leg strong, use Little Darlin', stand up straight. That wasn't the case, but she knows it comes from place of love and wanting her to get better. All of her therapists encourage us to reminder her often. They also remind her how lucky she is to be surrounded by people who care!

After a productive and exhausting therapy session, Fred and Elaine decided to see a movie. I think they were both hoping to catch a little shut eye and indulge in some popcorn. Then they came by the Francois house. The kids were anxious to see Fred and he had brought them a few Philadelphia souvenirs from his golf trip. Elaine has a busy week and continuing to work towards the goal of getting back to normal. Fred was only gone a few days and noticed a difference even in that short of a time. She literally continues to improve daily.

Elaine did hear back from her neurologist about botox in her foot. He is going to see her in a month and they will decide then if and injection is a good course of action and would help relieve her foot pain. Back to Hoag tomorrow for more therapy!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


The slumber party was crazier than expected with Brian climbing out of bed two more times in the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, Elaine was able to sleep through (most of) it!

Following a breakfast of champions consisting of bagel and Starbucks, Elaine and the Francois family said good bye to JT, Lisa, and their girls. It was so much fun to have the Sizemore clan here and we loved spending time with Samantha and Mackenzie. The Francois kids had so much fun helping with the babies and Elaine was so happy to hold them. She even got down on the floor to "play" with them. It was a wild 24 hours but so much fun and Elaine was such a trooper!

Then, Staci and Elaine saddled up and headed out for some important appointments. First stop: nail salon where Elaine got her fingers and toes done. After that adventure (its always an adventure with Little Darlin'), they went over to the mall to visit Dry Bar and Lulu Lemon. Definitely a successful excursion.

Elaine had some downtime in the late afternoon, then the whole crew hopped in the car for pasta night at Big Canyon. Elaine even walked up the stairs on the way out. Christi said, "Nammie you are walking so fast and doing it by yourself!" She is amazing and always surprises us with her spirit. We had some laughs about the weekend, and talked about how great it was to have Nammie at the house for a few nights. The Francois clan is wondering when we get to do it again!!

After dinner, we dropped Elaine off at home (her peaceful, quiet home). It may take her a few minutes to get used to the lack of noise! Fred gets back tonight from Pine Valley. He was missed by everyone - especially Elaine! She is looking forward to having her partner back in town. We are sure that they are both very tired and hope that get caught up on much needed rest!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Big time Saturday for Elaine. She was awakened nice and early by the Francois kids as they "whispered" in the kitchen. Brian and Ben headed out to grab bagels and coffee for those who needed it. Brian was so excited when he got back that he went get "Nana" out of her room. She surprised us all by walking out with Little Darlin' holding a nearly full glass of water. Pretty darn impressive for someone who could barely move their left arm not that long ago.

Following breakfast, the crew took Elaine back to her house for a therapy session with Paul. Keep in mind that Paul sees her several times a week, and he is as up to date as anyone on her progress. Well, today even he was so impressed with Elaine's ability to excel at therapy. He truly believes that there is nothing she can't do now that she used to do. She just needs to keep believing in herself and have the confidence to keep on gaining more independence!

One of the drills she does that really shows how far she has come in terms of mobility and demonstrating that her brain messages are getting through to her arm is when she uses the roller on the wall. Take a look at how high she gets this roller. This photo is about halfway up. It is amazing to see her get that thing up above her head.

We had a great night and a great dinner at the Francois house with our old friends JT and Lisa and their twin girls all of whom were in from San Francisco. JT hadn't seen Elaine since she was at Hoag, and he could hardly believe how far she had come. He actually said that if he hadn't seen her then, he may not have been able to tell that anything had happened. It is a real tribute to her work ethic and never-give-up attitude.

Friday, June 8, 2012


First full day at the Francois house was a full day, indeed. With Brian waking up from 3-5 am, Elaine had a real jump on the day. At some point, everyone was able to go back to sleep  . . . until the girls woke up. Then we were moving and shaking getting ready to go watch Christi as she was Principal for the day at Andersen Elementary. Christi was amazing, and EXTREMELY comfortable in front of the whole school with a microphone!

At the morning assembly, it felt like we attended with a celebrity. About a thousand people came by to say hello to Elaine and wish her well and tell her how inspirational she is. We could barely take a step toward the car without someone stopping Elaine to talk.

After the excitement, she had a spa appointment then came back to our house to get ready for lunch with the girls. Shirley came to pick up her up and they met up with Barbara at Javier's for Mexican food in the sun! They had a great lunch and the girls could not have been more impressed with Elaine's progress and independence!  They were absolutely flabbergasted at how great she looked!

Following lunch, she headed back to the house for some mandatory rest time while the house was quiet - a rare occurrence. After some down time, Elaine was back up and ready for a meeting with Ben and Staci's architect. They met in the dining room where Elaine added plenty of much needed and much appreciated expertise to the process. We are so grateful that she can help us as we make these decisions. We know it couldn't have been easy for her to concentrate on the task at hand because every 30 seconds one of the kids would come in yelling "Nana!!!!" or "Nammie!!!" Elaine is getting plenty of attention over here, that is for sure.

We all sat down together for a delicious home cooked meal including fresh squash right from our garden. It was mostly peaceful for Elaine except when we reminded her to use two hands to eat her corn. She said, "I thought Fred was gone." We politely reminded her how nice it was that she had people around who care :). Of course, everyone broke into giggles after that.

Everyone is settled into bed early after a long week. We miss Fred and hope he enjoys himself this weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Elaine had a busy day and is absolutely exhausted! Fred left bright and early (6am) this morning for Pine Valley on a golf trip. Elaine was so happy for him to get away with his friends and do something fun, but she is missing him! The Francois Family is excited for her to stay with us, especially the kids. Its been like Christmas all day waiting for the princess's arrival:) She had two hours of therapy to do first!

Staci was impressed and surprised at how well Elaine is doing her exercises and how natural things are starting to look. Staci had flashbacks to a few months ago when Elaine couldn't get on or off a mat without assistance, much less pull herself into downward dog! She even picked each arm up and held her weight with one arm and two legs. Oddly enough, it was much easier for her to hold her weight on Little Darlin' than her right arm. Of course Elaine couldn't help but bark when she was in this position. Always keeping us laughing!

During OT they focused on on external rotation of Elaine's shoulder. When you have a stroke it naturally causes you to internally rotate all the time. The brain doesn't send the external rotation message so her muscles have gotten weak as well. It is very painful working these muscles and trying to pull her scapula together and down. Elaine descried it as her scapula feeling like glue or rubber cement and very difficult to pull apart. She is still sore tonight from all the moving around of those muscles. She also is working to be able to straighten her elbow on her left hand. She is trying to walk with her palms facing forward as a reminder to keep her shoulders back. As Elaine was walking to PT, the OT therapist watched Elaine walk away and said, "you are such an incredible patient. You do everything we ask of you all the time and never forget all the little things!" Staci did notice that Elaine is scared of her OT and every time she passes her in the gym she is sure to have her shoulders and arm in the right place!

Elaine headed to PT where it was time for a few routine assessments. They started with walking a straight line and she shaved a whole second and a half off her previous time, which was pretty remarkable. Next she had to so as many squats in 30 seconds as she could. Last time she did 8 and three weeks later she did 13, and these aren't cheaters squats either!

Next they tried something new. She had Elaine walk at a timed pace in a circle counting by 2's. This was something she did not feel she was capable of even two weeks ago. Today, she dual-tasked perfectly! They worked on some more challenging walking exercises, including having her walk and take directions (look left, look up, look down, look right) at the same time, and did the field sobriety test walking a straight line. She was amazing! We continue to be humbled by her progress and dedication. She truly is one in a million. Whenever she walks in the gym, the therapists all light up and run over to talk to her. You can also all see them keeping one eye on Elaine, marveling at her progress. She is definitely a celebrity in there!

After a hard workout (and Elaine was tired before it started), Staci and Elaine grabbed a quick lunch and then Staci had a mandatory nap time for Elaine. She took her back to Elaine's house for some quiet time, hoping she would get some sleep. Staci and the kids picked her up around 4 and brought her to her new home for the next few days. You can tell how excited the kids are from the pictures. They literally were arguing over who gets to help her do this and that. Brian kept saying Nana, play play. Being the incredible sport that she is, she even got down on the floor with him and played, not quite sure how she was going to get back up, but she did! 

We are hoping she gets a really restful night of sleep. She was tucked into bed by three little people who adore and love her so much. What an inspiration and role model they have, a true hero!  They are thrilled to have her here and looking forward to a fun weekend. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Elaine was tired today and a little confused, but that didn't slow her down from a very busy day. She had therapy this morning for two hours and still managed to have a great session. They continued to really hone in on her walking. It is a lot of work for her to learn the "correct" form but like everything else she does, she is putting all her effort into it and will master this in time. Each day continues to be better than the last!!

After therapy, Barbara picked her up and they went to lunch at the club. Louise was in town from the desert and wanted to visit with Elaine as well. Elaine, Barbara, Louise, Cece, and Pat had a great lunch together. Elaine was so thrilled to be spend the afternoon with them and so happy they called. Louise said "she is sharper than ever and getting so independent." Louise offered some perfectly worded advice. She said, "when you get down, talk to someone that hasn't seen you in a while. They will be blown away, just like I was." We have said it many times, Elaine feels so fortunate to have such great friends that care about her so much! Unfortunately, they did forgot to take a picture:(

Staci arrived shortly after Elaine got home to take her to hair appointment. She was ready to go and even remembered to bring her Coumadin, without needing to be remind. Staci dropped her off for a few hours with Laura at Textures, and she worked her magic! Elaine wanted her hair shorter and brighter. Laura did a great job and showed her how to make her hair curly. Elaine is trying to hard to be independent. Trying to do your hair with essentially one hard is tough enough, but when you pile on the thickness of her hair  into the equation, it really complicates things. Laura was kind enough to show Elaine how to do it. Elaine was excited!

Fred is leaving in the morning for a much deserved golf trip to Pine Valley. We hope he enjoys every minute and doesn't worry about what he can't control back home. The Francois house is buzzing with excitement about who gets to help Nammie do what, and who gets to lay in bed with her and tuck her in. We are excited to have Elaine with us for a few days and thrilled for Fred to get away with her friends and play golf.