Sunday, September 30, 2012

#239

Elaine was very tired today. She definitely wore herself out this week. Today is Dee's birthday, and also the anniversary of Ida's death. She died 6 years ago today. Dee and Ida are Fred's parents. Ida was also Elaine's very best friend. Ida battled many different illnesses over the course of her life, nothing more devastating than the loss of her husband at the very young age of 59, to brain cancer.

Ida, like Elaine, was very fortunate to have a family close by that took excellent care of her. Elaine spent the most time with her. I was lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with Grandma Ida, and learned so much from her. She was like my other mom. I spent a lot of time with her when my sister was sick, and then after Grandpa Dee died. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her and miss her. She was an amazing influence on all of our lives, and nothing came before family. She was a woman of values, morals, principals, and her word. She lived her life on her terms, and lived every day to its fullest, no matter how she felt. She also lived alone, despite my parents begging her to move in with them as she got sicker. She wanted her independence. We have talked of her often, and don't know how she managed to do all that she did all those years, alone and sick for a lot of them. She rarely complained, cherished every minute with her family and friends, and no matter what, wasn't going to spend her life in bed or feeling sorry for herself. She will always be one of the most important people in my life, someone I miss every day, and someone I will always look up to and hold in the highest regard.

I have thought about Grandma Ida a lot today. I have thought about how much my mom reminds me of her. Elaine has such a strong fight in her, she refuses to let this, or any number of setbacks beat her. Elaine has bad days, (who among us wouldn't?) but she keeps fighting through them. I have reflected back on how far she has come. This was a woman we were told would never walk again, and two nights ago, she walked with my kids, from my house, to the park. That isn't something she would have even attempted to do two weeks ago. She has been superhuman though all of this. She has accomplished more than we ever thought possible. Sometimes, we lose sight of just how far she has come!

She could easily hole up in her house and feel sorry for herself. She definitely pushes herself too much - in physically therapy and in life. At times, we think she should rest more, which she should, but given the choice, I admire her so much for choosing life! She makes a decision every single day that no matter how much pain she is in, how much her arm or leg hurt, how hard it is to get herself ready, and how much it hurts to just walk, she is going to do it. She isn't going to sit in bed all day and cry, or feel sorry for herself! She cries, but she laughs too. She wants to live life, not sit and wait for the next thing to happen. Grandma Ida was the same way, and while it is not for everyone, I get it. I wish she rested more, but I wish a lot of things, and at the end of the day, Elaine is here with us, she is of sound mind, and is a part of our lives!

As I have had this day of reflection, I have also thought about Fred. There is nothing harder in the world than watching the person you love suffer. They face different challenges every day, both with the same goal of getting Elaine better. I think of how lucky Elaine is to have Fred: her rock, her knight in shining armor, and her caretaker. I think of how lucky Fred is to have Elaine, fighting to get her life back, wanting to take care of him again, and working her butt off to get to be the best she can be.

It is frustrating, and they have been on this roller coaster of ups and downs. At the end of the day though, both Fred and Elaine are better off now than they ever both thought was possible right after the stroke happened. Life is full of ups and downs, and given the alternative of what could have been, I feel so grateful that we are where we are. I know it is because of Elaine's determination, and Fred's love that Elaine has continued to progress and get better every day! It is also thanks to the love and prayers of her family and friends. Thank you!

I have been blessed to have been raised by people of strength, and love, as well as been instilled with a true appreciation of family. I know, Christi, Grandma Ida, Grandpa Dee, Yia-Yia, and Papu are watching down on both of you guys with so much pride and love! It is not possible for two daughters, and two sets of parents to be more proud of you both, than all of us are.

No one ever said the road would be easy, and it certainly hasn't been, but Fred and Elaine continue to travel down it everyday.  Their goals are unchanging: they just want to travel down the road making forward progress. Sometimes, it feels like the road is a treadmill and you work so hard to get nowhere. But other times, you finish the New York City Marathon - exhausting work but measurable progress.

Since the end of January, every day hasn't been perfect, but we all know that those days could have been much, much worse. We all know that Elaine and Fred give 110% every single day. There is a proverb that says, "To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, BUT WE MUST KEEP ON STEPPING." That is what Elaine and Fred are doing - they keep stepping. None of us are sure what the destination may be, but we know that the journey (and our spirit along the way) is what defines us.




Saturday, September 29, 2012

#238

Elaine did a lot of walking again today with two soccer games, at two different locations, in the heat! She had a great day, and was tried and ready to relax in the air conditioner after her busy past few days. Hopefully, she was able to spend the afternoon watching the Ryder Cup and resting!

Friday, September 28, 2012

#237

Elaine has had a week off of officially going to therapy because her therapist is out of town. That hasn't slowed Elaine down though and her are wheels turing about when she can return to the gym, the treadmill, and full body workouts! Most people would be thrilled to have a week off, after the intense 9 months Elaine has had. Elaine is not like most people though, we have learned that!

Fred and Elaine had to be out of their house for 4 hours today while it was sprayed for bugs. Fred golfed, and Elaine ran around with Staci. Staci finally dropped Elaine off to relax at the Francois house while she took the girls to tennis. Instead of relaxing, Elaine took this opportunity to play with Brian alone and chase him around. Staci returned home to Elaine insisting on getting home to have another date with the stretcher, even though she was returning an hour later for a birthday dinner celebration for Brian.

Once Fred and Elaine arrived at the Francois house, the action continued, playing outside with Brian's new golf clubs, watching the kids ride bikes, and even walking with Fred and the kids to the park. Needless to say, Elaine was exhausted tonight. It is so much fun to see her becoming an active part of the kids life again, and the kids have caught on quickly. They are so excited to see Nammie on the move again, and even they are impressed with her progress. You can see how proud they are when she achieves milestones in their minds. It was a fun day and night, complete with birthday cake for Brian, who turns two tomorrow. Hopefully, they sleep well since soccer is only house away:)



Thursday, September 27, 2012

#236

Here is a quick photo from lunch today. Staci and Elaine met Alex at the halfway point in San Clemente. They had a great time, and, as always, Elaine appreciated seeing a friend (and Elaine also appreciated Alex bringing all those burgers).

That is a perfect segue into what is next. We have a guest blogger today: Elaine! She wrote the letter below to all of you! Enjoy.




Dear family and friends,

I realize how blessed I am to have you all in my life. Thank you for bringing love, warm thoughts and prayers into my life. The passing of time has given me a book of memories to hold dear. The journey of life with ups and downs has been appreciated. 

The treasure in love is very overwhelming.  Thank you Staci and Ben, for writing the blog every evening to inform everyone how I am doing.  I know everyone appreciates it.  

Staci and Ben, thanks for there being for there with me every step of the way.  Doctors appointments, meals, groceries, tears.  Thanks to all my dear friends, family, grandchildren.

Thanks Christi, Taylor, and Brian for coming to see me every day. Your love is cherished and appreciated.  Thank you all for all your treasures, hugs, kisses,and making me laugh. 

My fantastic husband, how could I have done it without him? Taking me to the doctor, reminding me to take my pills, reminding me to keep my left arm straight, and stand on my left leg. Laughing together. Crying together.  I am so fortunate to have a husband that has given me the gift of love, concern, prayer, and patience.  He has not left a stone unturned.  

Thank you to each and everyone of you.  I feel so loved because of all of you!  You all tell me that I am your inspiration, but truly you are my inspiration!

My journey has been a long one. I know that without Fred, family, grandchildren and dear friends, it would have been harder. Thank you again and again from the bottom of my heart.  

I pray for you all every night for good health and  happiness.  I thank the lord for for all of you. 

Hope to see you all soon!

Love,
Elaine

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#235

Elaine woke up this morning to find something extra special in her inbox! Her granddaughter, Lexy, sent her a copy of a paper she had written. The topic was, "Someone who had inspired me." Elaine and Fred read the email with tears in their eyes. Here is what she wrote:


Inspiration is “something that arouses your desire to take action” (www.vocabulary.com).  This means a person is inspirational when they do something amazing that makes you want to work harder to achieve bigger things.  Inspirations are important because they drive you to achieve bigger and better things in life.  Without inspiration we would all just settle for being good, but not try for the excellence that inspirations make you want to achieve. My Grandma Elaine is an inspiration to me because she overcame the horrible affects of a stroke through hard work determination, and never giving up. 

Last January my Grandma Elaine was at the gym working out and had a stroke. Thankfully, her trainer at the gym noticed the signs of the stroke immediately and called 911 for help.  While in the ambulance she received a trial drug which the ER nurses were convinced saved her life.  She also got the ER quick enough to receive a clot-busting drug which less than 3% of all stroke victims are lucky enough to receive. While these miracles may have saved her life, she still had a long road to recovery ahead of her. 

The next day Grandma Elaine woke up being completely paralyzed on her left side from her head to her toes.  The doctors were not optimistic about her chance of a recovery, but Grandma Elaine would not accept this diagnosis and was determined to make a full recovery.  Less than a week after having the stroke she was able to squeeze the nurse’s hand and slightly move her left leg.  This was a huge achievement because it happened so quickly and showed everyone what a fighter she was.  She spent 4 weeks in the hospital filling her days with therapy, tests, and doctor visits, but all this hard work paid off because she learned to walk again with help.  They decided to move her to a rehab facility so that she could work more on physically healing the left side of her body.  She knew that if she wanted to recover 100% she was going to have to work harder than she ever has in her life.

Grandma Elaine eventually moved out of the hospital back into her home with the determination to make a full recovery.  In order for this to happen she had to work countless hours in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.  All of this therapy took up most of her day leaving her exhausted, but she took every extra therapy session available because she wanted to make a quick, full recovery.  During these sessions she had to relearn tasks that we think of as simple like picking up a fork, step up a curb, sit in a chair, say certain word, and brushing her hair.  By the end of February she was able to walk unassisted around the neighborhood with just the use of a cane.  The doctors, all of her family and friends were amazed by her quick progress and knew at this point that her fight to make a full recovery would be a success. 

Grandma Elaine has been working hard towards her goal of a full recovery for almost 9 months.  She is a true inspiration to everyone who meets her and hears her amazing story.  She is a living example of someone whose determination, will to succeed, positive attitude, and fight to never give up paid off because she through her hard work she relearned to do almost everything she was able to do before her stroke.  My Grandma Elaine is an inspiration to me because whenever I feel overwhelmed or like I can’t accomplish something I think about her and her motto, “Never give up” and know that if she could accomplish her goals so can I. 


This really started Elaine's day off to a great start! Thank you Lexy for sharing her story!

Soon after, Elaine received another email. This one from an unknown friend from Canada. She began following the blog after our dear friend, Ashley shared Elaine's story on the her blog. Elaine is so moved to be helping and inspiring people. It brightened her day and made her feel like maybe this happened so she could help other people. Thank you for reaching out, thank you for your prayers and thank you for caring.

It seemed to set the tone for a good day. The nurse that adjusts the stretcher/torture machine, come over for an evaluation. She was absolutely amazed by Elaine's progress, and how well Little Darlin' is doing. She credited it all to Elaine's diligent, consistent, work ethic. Elaine didn't need to tell her how often she is doing it, she could tell.  The nurse did remind Elaine, how rare it is to see someone with her dedication! She said Elaine is headed in the right direction, and soon will be able to ease of some of her pain medication, which was the best news of the day for Elaine!




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#234

Elaine and Fred were out and about town today. They went to a nice lunch with Staci and Brian at R+D Cafe then headed to an afternoon movie (they highly recommend Trouble With The Curve)



Before lunch, Elaine went to the foot doctor for an update. The doctor explained that Elaine has to continue to wear the brace. They will go back and see the doc in 6 weeks and he will take another look to determine if progress is being made. There is a chance that, at some point, Elaine will require surgery to replace/repair a tendon. However, it would be premature to go forward with that until we see what the next few months bring.

The long day meant an early night. Fred and Elaine (thankfully) hit the hay at a reasonable time and should rest up for another big day tomorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2012

#233

Elaine is battling headaches right now. They started a few days ago. We aren't sure why. Staci thinks it is because her brain is waking up:) In the last week, I have noticed such a difference in her brain and her alertness. It is very exciting!

Fred and Elaine had a technical day today on top of the usual therapy Fred runs. They both have new emails address's. Fred is fred@fredsmith25.com and Elaine is elaine@fredsmith25.com. Please make note of their new contact information.

They came over to the Francois house for another crazy Monday night dinner. The kids were so excited, as usual. It was enjoyable to have them over and Elaine in good spirits


Sunday, September 23, 2012

#232

Elaine did her best to relax most of the day after a very eventful and active Saturday that included time as a golf spectator and a wonderful dinner party at the Bones' home. The non-stop activity caused some swelling in Elaine's legs so today's activity was to keep her feet up and get the swelling down.

Elaine is gearing up for another great week in which she continues to progress toward normalcy and independence!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

#231

We continue toward our goal of full recovery. That means that Elaine wants to live her life independently and in a way that is similar to what she had before her stroke. That is certainly what she did today. There was one thing that made this day feel so familiar - Fred was playing in the horserace (finals) of a big golf tournament. 

Fred and his member-member partner Lou battled through five hard fought nine-hole matches to win their flight earning them a spot in the final four hole alternate shot playoff. Just like she has always done, Elaine wanted to be out there cheering on her man. She hustled down to the golf course just in time to see Fred tee off on the first hole, and she watched every shot on the way in (which is saying a lot because there were nine teams playing every hole). We all proudly watched from above the ninth green as Fred and Lou won second place in the entire tournament (missing victory by only a half a shot). Nice work guys! 

We also watched with pride how Elaine continues to succeed in her hard fought battle! She is one tough woman! 


#229

Watch out world! Elaine is on her way back, baby! Elaine continues to make measurable and visible progress on so many levels. For Elaine, this is all about a journey towards her normal life. Look at this photo; she is back at Pilates. Can you believe she is back doing Pilates? You probably can believe it. We can, too. Elaine truly is amazing and is working so hard to get better.



Some of that hard work is (unfortunately) very painful work. It was only a few short weeks ago that Elaine could barely move her left arm - and that was mostly by overworking her neck muscles. They say a picture is a worth a thousand words. That seems to be true in this case. Look at Elaine's incredibly improved flexibility in this photo. Keep in mind that, even with force from the therapist, Little Darlin' could hardly move. Elaine is an inspiration! Keep on fighting.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

#229


Elaine slept well and her INR level is staying steady, which is great news. She is in good spirits today as well and continuing to feel better! In an effort to explain her foot issue and why she walks with a hitch, try thinking about it this way. When we walk, we all walk heel to toe, and we naturally roll to our toe. She gets her weight on her heel, and as she tries to get to her toe, she simply can't. Imagine your toes frozen to the bottom of your shoe and being unable to bear weight on them. That is what happens to Elaine, and therefore she has to pick her foot up to take a step. We believe that once this is corrected, she will walk without the hitch! This is also exciting news for Elaine!

She continued to do "normal" today, she went to a beauty appointment and the grocery store! She is trying to really focus on her rest, her shoulder stretcher, and not getting to tired over the course of the day. We are so proud of her and so pleased with her progress. She absolutely deserves it! 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

#228

Just a quick update. Elaine had her best day of therapy yet! She told us that her tone was better than it had ever been! The therapist could see huge improvement in her arm AND leg! She was so happy for Elaine, and Elaine was over the moon excited!

Huge news! Great improvement! We are so happy that Elaine's body is healing and that her hard work is paying off. In typical Elaine fashion, she is not letting up and this improvement only encourages her to work harder!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

#227

Today was Tuesday. Sounds pretty normal, right? That's because it was normal. Elaine felt (for the first time in a while) like she had a normal day - the kind of day she used to have before January.

First of all, she didn't have therapy. Second, she didn't have any doctor appointments. Third, she spent the day out and about with her great friend Cindi. They went to get their hair blown dry, they want to lunch,  and they shopped. Somewhere along the way, they stopped and took this funny picture.

They talked. They laughed. They had a blast together. Today inspired Elaine and made her believe yet again that she is getting her life back. She is too strong and she has fought too hard to accept anything less than that. Also, she is so grateful that she has a friend like Cindi who is so sweet with whom to share the day. Elaine looks forward (never backward except to see how far she has come) to tomorrow - her next NORMAL day!




Monday, September 17, 2012

#226

Elaine started the day off at therapy. She actually did pilates today for the first time! She loved it. The therapist thinks it will really help her foot too. Her shoulder is continuing to improve as well, and she was able to raise Little Darlin' even higher today! Elaine is excited with the progress, though understandably frustrated with the pace.

Elaine did get some more good news today! Fred and Elaine went for the nerve conduction study. It didn't show any nerve damage to her foot, which is wonderful news. We know how hard she continues to work and soon, she will be back!

Fred and Elaine came to the Francois house for dinner and MNF. It is always an exciting time when Nammie and Ampa are here and the house if full of energy! Elaine is looking forward to her first official day off in months! She doesn't have therapy or a doctor appointment.



Elaine is hanging tough and certainly being tested. She truly looks beautiful and is staying optimistic, and continues to make incredible progress daily. She is emotional, but who can blame her. She has been through so much. She feels so lucky to be alive, have such amazing and loving friends, and have such a loving, dedicated, loving husband!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

#225

Elaine was happy to see her grandkids arrive at her door this morning with coffee. Elaine looked beautiful and well rested! The kids were so excited to see her. It was an especially exciting morning because Elaine ventured upstairs to play toys with the kids for the first time. They all played together for a long time, while Ben and Staci enjoyed the quiet downstairs and watched football! The kids were thrilled to have Nammie playing with them again, and Nammie was thrilled, too. After they played, they all came down and Nammie made lunch. It was such a fun afternoon and was a positive look into the future!



Elaine's arm was sore this afternoon. They cranked up the intensity on the torture machine. Fred said she had her best day with her cane exercises today as well. Elaine was resting this afternoon, after her big morning. Tonight, Fred and Elaine had dinner with the Allumbaughs at Big Canyon. They had such a nice dinner and really enjoyed the company.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

#224

Today was about celebration. First, we all celebrated Taylor who was playing in her second soccer game ever and scored goal. We were so proud and we were all so happy to celebrate that.

Then, everyone, including Elaine and Fred went to Christi's soccer game. As we have previously mentioned, it is never easy to get from the car to the field but Elaine is more than willing to willing to fight that battle! Christi did great and we all cheered her on! We CELEBRATED with a gourmet lunch at Islands. We celebrated even more since Elaine battled through the day with her new leg brace / orthotic (pictured below) - it certainly didn't make it easier for her to get around. There is no doubt that she is a trooper! We followed up soccer with another celebration lunch at Islands!





Tonight, we celebrated Elaine in a different way. We were watching our photo albums scroll by on Apple TV. We were happily reminded of the many great times that we (and our kids) have had with Elaine over the years. It was an emotional roller coaster to see Elaine over the years with her grandchildren, golfing, and with Fred over the past decade. Our realization was that we are SO HAPPY that she is around to see Brian grow up, to see her beautiful granddaughters as they grow, and to see us every day. We know now, more than ever before, that each day and each moment is precious. We know to never take a moment or a person for granted.

Friday, September 14, 2012

#221

Elaine had a nice day today with Staci and family. She enjoyed a nice lunch al fresco at Big Canyon with Staci, Ben, Brian, Taylor, and Fred. It was certainly warm out, but everyone enjoyed being outside!

To all of our delight, Elaine announced at lunch that her eyes are feeling, and working, much better. She can actually tell the difference - which is obviously huge especially since it has been such a relatively short time since she started working on her eyes. We are so proud of her continued effort and desire to get better despite the obstacles (which she leaps right over). Elaine is definitely amazing!

A lot of readers know that she is amazing, as well. Many of you have continued to actively send prayers and happy thoughts to Elaine on a daily basis. You know who you are and we appreciate you so much. You are truly the engine that drives Elaine toward a full recovery!

One of those people is one of our closest friends, Jackie, who ran an amazing race in honor of Elaine (Ashley,and Jackie's dad Vern - who happens to have been one of Fred's best friends). Jackie and her team alternated to run from San Francisco to Sonoma. Amazing! Nice work Jackie!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

#220


Elaine had a very restful afternoon and night of sleep yesterday. She felt more rested today. Fred and Elaine went to the eye doctor this morning. The doctor was impressed with Elaine's improvement. She still had some trouble when she would look at the same object for a period of time. One of her eyes would just tire out and stop looking. She is going to hold off on more eye therapy until her shoulder is better and her mind is clear. The progress was exciting though!

She did her shoulder exercises well and really stretched out her calf a lot today. Elaine had some beauty appointments this afternoon and was going to rest and get in bed early tonight. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#219

Elaine was exhausted today after her late night out last night! She was a little emotional this morning and frustrated! Fred was very compassionate, and kind while she got it out. Staci picked her up to take her to arm therapy. They asked the therapist what she thought about Elaine's foot.  Immediately after the stroke, she was paralyzed. While Elaine was in the hospital, and the rehab hospital, they had her wearing a boot. The boot would engage her foot and help keep the foot from "flopping" forward. Towards the end of her rehab stay, they told her to stop wearing the boot. We aren't sure why or why this issue wasn't caught before.  Staci, and Fred have both pointed out numerous times to the therapist, that she was not able to put weight on her toes. She was never able to walk heel to toe, only heel to the ball of her foot. The explanation we consistently got was, "the brain is trying to send the message to the foot, but needs to find a new path to get it there." While we are disappointed the real root of the cause was not diagnosed sooner, we are happy that it finally has been. Her foot and leg are so tight, that is the reason she is having so much trouble. It will take lots of stretching but she will come out of it. It is in a sense "frozen" but not like her shoulder and she will stretch every day to loosen it up. She is not able to get her ankle to 90 degrees, but she will!

In exciting shoulder news, she was able to raise Little Darlin' about 90 degrees today, which is an improvement even since Monday! She is doing it without using her neck muscles as well. This picture shows the improvement. Four weeks ago, she was barely able to raise it to her belly button. We feel like we are on a good path and heading in the right direction. Fred is driving the ship and Elaine's determination will get her through the rough waters. There isn't anything she can't accomplish, no matter what they keep throwing at her!



Staci and Elaine ran a few errands, had lunch, and picked up Taylor from school. We delivered a very tired Nammie home this afternoon to rest, and rest she did. We hope she has a restful night. Tomorrow, she is off to the eye doctor. Hopefully, this is the last week of daily doctor appointments for a while!

#218

Elaine and Fred went to the foot specialist today to figure out a solution for this bunion that is giving Elaine so many problems. She went there with the intention of scheduling a procedure to lop it off, but the doctor had other ideas. Apparently, it is too early to simply remove the bunion as it is still growing and would just grow back if removed now. Instead, the doctor has prescribed a custom orthotic with the goal of easing her pain. 

The doctor's other concern is Elaine's inability to flex her foot up at the ankle (point her toes up). The doctor plans to get to the bottom of this through some tests to determine cause which may be a frozen ankle or cause one. We'll know more next week. 

Enough of that medicine and onto the best medicine - laughter. Fred, Elaine, Ben, and Staci drove up to Hollywood this evening to enjoy an adult dinner and to watch the musical Book of Mormon. The play, though certainly offensive to some, was very funny and enjoyed by all four of us. More importantly, we had a great time out on the town together and it was so nice to Elaine walking down Hollywood Boulevard all dressed up! 




Monday, September 10, 2012

#217

Elaine and Fred enjoyed a nice leisurely morning, knowing they didn't have to get out of house early today. They enjoyed a visit from Staci and Brian, and Ampa taking Brian for a ride in his car! Elaine finally conceded to Fred, allowing him to cut a hole in her shoe to try and help alleviate some of the pain from her bunion. Fred was right, it did help a little and Elaine was happy to have some relief. They are going to see the doctor tomorrow so hopefully they will have some answers!




Fred and Elaine went to see the arm therapist this afternoon. They did a few exercises to show just how frozen her shoulder is. The good news in, in four weeks, it has improved significantly. The bad news is, it went undiagnosed for so long, and continued to get worse. This could have, and should have been corrected by now, or at least close. Its unfortunate and not fair. In Elaine-style, she is staying strong, not looking back, and very much looking forward to putting it behind her. If it wasn't for Fred's persistence and being unsatisfied with the answers they were getting, it would probably still be undiagnosed. Elaine remains dedicated to getting it better! We are hopeful there is a non-surgical option for her bunion! The big picture remains bright, and we are thankful to all of you who continue to love and support Fred and Elaine along this journey!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#216

Elaine woke up with alarms buzzing everywhere! An alarm to wake them up, an alarm reminding her to take her medicine. She slept well though. Her pain is better than it used to be, but she is still uncomfortable. Ben and Brian dropped off coffee while she was getting ready and then Staci and Brian came and picked her up for another morning of soccer. She is certainly getting her exercise in going to the soccer games. The parking lots and the fields are never close, and today it was hilly and uneven. Elaine did great though. Staci offered her arm and Elaine declined, saying that she needs to get her confidence back!

We watched Christi's game and had a lot of fun cheering on the "Green Machine." After a victory, we headed to Island's for a celebratory lunch. The kids were so excited to have Nammie with us this morning. Nammie graciously ran a few errands with Staci and the kids before they dropped her off to rest. Fred and Elaine relaxed the rest of the afternoon and watched sports. They have a very busy week ahead with some doctor appointments and arm therapy. Elaine continues to be an inspiration to us daily.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

#215



It was a nice Saturday for Elaine. She and Fred had a great time at Taylor's soccer game this morning. They were so proud to cheer on the Butterflies! Elaine was a great sport taking the long walk from the parking lot to the farthest soccer field. She was the only grandmother in attendance! Taylor loved having her at the game. 

Taylor was the star of the game, but Fred was the star after the game. He took all of the kids for a quick ride in the convertible. Here he is with Brian, Christi, Taylor, Maggie and Regan. They made some serious noise in Eastbluff today. 

The rest of the day was spent relaxing for both Fred and Elaine - they can certainly use as much rest as they can get!





Friday, September 7, 2012

#214

Elaine showed her human side today. It was actually a great day. The day started bright and early with a visit to the neurologist. They discussed what is going on, how she is feeling, and mentally how she is feeling. We haven't mentioned this before, but Elaine has a bunion on her foot. It has continued to grow during the last few months. It has gotten to the point where it hurts her so badly to walk. It is affecting her physical therapy and her walking. She is going to see a podiatrist next week, and will consider her options.

She is tried of spending 6 days a week at the doctor and or with a therapist. She is angry that all of this has happened and new ailments seem to just continue to pile on. The doctor was quick to point out that, first and foremost, this is a good sign. Her brain is really waking up. It is realizing what happened, what her limitations are, and more aware of her situation. This is an incredible sign for the future, but makes the present more real for Elaine. We have all noticed Elaine becoming less confident in her abilities, especially Fred. There is a combination of reasons for this, according to the doctor. It all does suck, there is no question about it. There is no explanation as to why she has to have all this major ailments. Its the hand we have been dealt, and as Elaine has shown that she will do whatever it takes to get better!

Elaine is going to focus completely on her frozen shoulder and her foot. She will see the doctor on Tuesday for her foot and continue to work on her shoulder daily and with a therapist three times a week. She is going to take a break from Paul and her eye therapy, where she has made massive improvements, which is incredible considering the pain and medication she is on. It feels like we have a plan and Elaine can also have a break from doctors and therapy taking over her life. She has also agreed to rest daily, and truly rest, for at least an hour. She felt so good on Monday after sleeping for almost a whole day. We all know, Elaine's personality is not the kind to want to just lay quite and sleep. This is an essential part to her getting better. She knows it, and has agreed to try!

Our hearts break watching all she continues to go through daily. We wish there was something we could to do help. We watch Fred in awe at how dedicated he is to her and how much he loves Elaine, and demonstrates that through his actions. They are amazing people and examples to us all. Love knows no limits, and there is not a challenge they can't overcome. Elaine will continue to fight the fight, and she will beat this.

Staci, Taylor, and Brian picked up Nammie for lunch. Ben snuck away to meet us as well.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

#213

Elaine slept well last night, and her pain was more manageable today. Unfortunately, they are still having trouble drawing Elaine's blood to check her INR level. One of the problems is, she is not drinking enough water. Fred is going to have the nurse come and give him another "lesson." After pricking Elaine three times this morning, they decided to wait and have the doctor do it in the morning.

Elaine had another great session with her eye therapy. Everyone is very excited and encouraged by the progress. Her eyes are working very well together and she has drastically improved. Watch out for her eagle eyes, reading putts on the green soon!! She meets with the doctor next week for an assessment. We are anxious for those results.

Elaine relaxed this afternoon, resting up for a delicious dinner tonight with Bud and MJ at Big Canyon.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

#212

Elaine had some arm pain today, unfortunately. It's such a fine line trying to find the right dose of medication, her pushing herself to much, or not enough(which is never the issue). Elaine had arm therapy this morning. The therapist was amazed at how far she has come in just one month. She truly couldn't believe it. She definitely understands how dedicated Elaine, AND Fred are to her getting better. She never misses a session, never cheats on her exercises, and always does her homework! Fred went to play golf this afternoon and wanted to make sure Elaine waited for him to get home before she did her stretcher and arm exercises. He doesn't like to miss a thing and wants to make sure she does them correctly!

Elaine was picked up for a special lunch with Shirley and Carole today. They took her up to Pelican Hill for lunch. She had such a wonderful day and was so grateful to them for spending some time with Elaine.

Staci and the kids stopped by this afternoon to give Nammie some hugs and spend some time with her. She tried to hide the pain she was in, and it breaks our hearts to see her hurting! She still smiles and laughs with the kids, still sneaking them Cheetos! Elaine took it easy tonight. Fred is trying to get her in bed by 7:30. Rest is so important and especially when she is in so much pain. They decided to skip the night round of the torture machine, not wanting to aggravate Little Darlin' anymore. Hopefully she gets a restful night and wakes up in less pain tomorrow. She is such a trooper!

As I loaded this picture onto the screen, my eye was immediately drawn to the bronze statue in the background. The stature is of a girl licking ice cream, holding balloons. It instantly made me think of my sister Christi, our angel in heaven. It appears that she is almost standing on Elaine's shoulder. There is no doubt that she has been all long. I know Christi is watching out for her and has been giving her mom, and dad, strength during these last several months and will continue to do so. Our friend Ashley often talks about hidden meanings or messages when you need them. Seeing the statue reminded me that Christi is with us too. It gave me strength and hope! It gave me a sense of comfort that things will get better and just another reminder of how thankful and lucky we are to have Elaine still with us! Christi was brave and courageous, the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

#211

Elaine is coming off two of her greatest days in a long time. She has made marked improvement, gaining more mobility in Little Darlin', and having her best eye therapy session yet. Elaine heard some popping and cracking today during the stretcher, on her own. She is able to raise her arms higher during her cane exercises and little by little, incorporating Little Darlin' into her life. Her arm is able to participate in Elaine's daily life more and more. Fred notices it the most! He was like a child on his birthday when he was bragging about how well Elaine has done the past few days. Its so rewarding for Elaine to see all of her hard work and dedication paying off. She certainly deserves it!!

Elaine celebrated a productive eye session by meeting Staci, Taylor, and Brian at Islands. Elaine's eyes were working together better than ever today. She was able to accomplish all her tasks and saw "what she should be seeing." It is really exciting. We are pretty sure she is also the only one that practices her "eye homework" at home. After lunch, they rushed home to have another round with the stretcher and the ice, then it was off to the movies!




Fred is back on his diet and showed such will power staring at us eating burgers and fries at Islands. He had his temptations tested even more, when they meet the Lanes' for a movie, and he wasn't able to enjoy popcorn!

Monday, September 3, 2012

#210

The Francois family stormed the Smith house this morning with coffee and bagels. We were a tornado through the house eating, spilling, and helping her get dressed - and then we were out of there when Paul arrived for therapy!

Christi, Taylor, and their friends Kate and Emma decided they all wanted to look like Fred and Elaine for after their last swim of the summer. Check out these pants!



Sunday, September 2, 2012

#209

The Smiths truly enjoyed having Mike and Diana around for a few days, and they truly appreciate all of their unending love and support. After a such a great visit, Fred and Elaine both used today as an opportunity to catch up on some much needed rest.

Elaine was definitely tired today! When the Francois kids rang the doorbell at 5 PM for, as Taylor put it, "just some hugs and kisses," Elaine was sound asleep - and she had been asleep since about 2! Hopefully, the rest continues through the night and both the Smiths wake up refreshed tomorrow.

We wanted to share a photo of one of the great hats that Freddy and Mynda sent to Elaine - a nice reminder of just how Exceptional, Tough, and Strong Elaine has been since the day of her stroke!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

#209

Check out Elaine! She looks so great tonight! The Smiths had a fabulous dinner with a couple of Chicago couples  - Bud and MJ and Coach and Diana.


We are so proud of Elaine. She is a true inspiration to all of us. We love to see her out and enjoying time with her friends - especially when we know what she goes through every day. She really is amazing and deserves all the good times that come her way!