Its hump day, and Elaine had crossed over a major hump. It had been confirmed that her shoulder is no longer frozen! Staci took Elaine to therapy today, and witnessed first hand the mobility of Elaine's shoulder. Aside from the flare ups of her arm (the mixed messages the brain is telling her that she is feeling pain and burning when she shouldn't be, but the pain is very real), she will face another challenge.
She will be continually fighting the hypertonicity from the stroke in her left arm. That means that she will have to fight against her arm curling up to her stomach and her fingers curling into a ball. This will take time and repetitive exercises to break this habit, and allow her arm to "hang freely." She is also working hard to isolate movements, which is really difficult to do after a major stroke.
It was incredible to see how well she was doing in her exercises today. Its hard to really appreciate these photos, but please take our word for it. Elaine has never been able to straighten her arm and elongate her fingers at the same time. She has also worked very hard to get her arm over her head. Elaine has worked tirelessly to regain her shoulder mobility, and Fred has not let her cheat even once. He had been there to encourage her progress and wipe away her tears. It is so rewarding to see her hard work pay off. She has been cleared to start putting, working up to chipping - but slowly because its important to manage the pain and the swelling.
Another important thing Elaine is working on is balance. It is going to be one of the things she is really going to focus on the next month. As her fear reared its ugly head, she stopped trusting her left side. Her left side obviously lost all of its strength as a result of the stroke, but Elaine also lost faith in it supporting her. She is constantly shifting her weight to her right side, before she takes each step, when she sits or stand from a chair, and every opportunity she has. She is stable and she will not fall. She has to trust it again, break the weight shifting habit, and strengthen all her muscles. You can literally watch her do it each time. We are all going to drive her crazy with our reminders, but it's what has to be done. We acknowledge that it is annoying to hear, but it's in her best interests and only because we care, especially Fred! She agrees and is appreciative, most of the time anyway!
This photo is Fred helping Elaine balance on one leg. She can't hold on to anything because then she cheats by shifting her weight, so he supports her so she feels secure, while stepping up onto her left leg. Fred stops at nothing to help Elaine get better, and she is willing to do anything! They are an unstoppable duo! They also have their little angel Christi watching over them, a proud daughter for sure!
The single most important thing Elaine has promised to us is that she will lay down and rest for at least one hour every day. The doctors have been stressing the importance of this for months and she has resisted, mostly because she feels guilty for laying down, thinking she should be doing other things. This rest is an important part of her recovery. After a traumatic brain injury, rest is absolutely critical. She will wear herself down throughout the day, doing therapy, running errands, more therapy, and household chores, etc. By the end of the day, she is exhausted! She ends up doing more harm than good and prolongs her recovery. Her brain needs to rest and reset, as it is trying to keep up with her. She finally agreed and made a commitment to us that she will rest every day! We are holding her to this, and hope you all will too! Elaine knows she owes it to herself. She has made such remarkable strides, and she herself sees real progress.
It was a really great day for Elaine. She is optimistic, positive, and excited. We made a quick unexpected stop to see the doctor this afternoon after Elaine expressed some concern about some head pain she had been having the last few days. The doctor doesn't believe it to be anything to worry about and will watch it over the weekend. She had a massage this afternoon to try and relieve the tension in her neck, thinking that could be related. It was a load off her mind knowing it wasn't a sign of another stroke. He also scheduled another CT scan on her lungs just to make sure those pesky mystery spots are continuing to shrink or have gone away.
Thank you for the prayers and concern for Fred. He is feeling good and the biopsy went well. We won't know anything until Tuesday so continue to keep those positive thoughts and prayers coming! We all continue to be humbled by the genuine care, concern, and love shown by all of you. We hope you know how much it means to us all, especially Fred and Elaine. They are so lucky to be surrounded by so much love, but then again, they are impossible people not to love:)