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Old 01-27-2020, 02:17 PM
 
Location: Texas Hill Country
1,173 posts, read 670,296 times
Reputation: 3453

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Our military buddies moved to be near us when they retired. They are more like family than just friends, so we refer to them as "Framily."

Well, on Christmas Day, Tall Friend had a stroke, right before Christmas dinner was to be served. Since then, it's been a wild up and down ride, as we help his wife, Short Friend, deal with his situation. Neither have family within 1500 miles, so we stepped in to help.

TF has very little control over his left arm, left leg is so weak he can't walk without a lot of assistance, and he's sleeping most of the time. At least his slurred speech has improved to barely noticeable, so at least one area is improving.

Problem is, the rehab facility is sending him home next week. We did a ton of research and found a guy who will widen their master bath door so a wheelchair or patient transport device can get through the door. Spousal Unit is installing grab bars in TF's shower, a new shower head with an additional handset and extra long hose, and grab bars at the toilet. Lots of experience doing all this at Mom's house... Luckily, there's plenty of room for that door to be widened and eventually a sliding barn door will replace what's there. That will look so very much nicer than the crummy 24" wide door currently in place. Whoever decided 24" doors into bathrooms was a good idea needs to be dug up and hanged. I had forgotten about narrow doors, since Mom's and my own house had/have wheelchair access sized doors. What an incredibly stupid idea...

To get him into and out of the house, Spousal Unit will build a ramp inside their garage. SF has already added wooden planks to make a level access from garage through laundry room into house, but that step up in the garage has to be dealt with. The regular front and back doors are simply not wheelchair adaptable without major construction and making the house ugly, which I'm sure the other area homeowners would be "thrilled" about.

We will go to their house every other day to force TF into additional therapy sessions beyond the ones the therapist does with him. TF has been blowing off his "homework," in favor of just sleeping, so he's not been improving as fast as rehab expected him to do. As a retired first sergeant, TF knows very well what physical fitness requirements are and what is expected, no matter how one feels about it. So between SF and us, all former officers, we're not going to be near as kind as the physical therapist. No whining allowed! He WILL do his therapy homework, and then if he doesn't improve, he'll have to go into long term care. Just that knowledge alone may be the impetus he needs to get working.

After dealing with Mom and her car accident, this will seem like more of the same, only with a grumpier patient. But SF needs help and we're going be make sure she gets it, plus enough her time so she doesn't get sick or go bananas. I know what that kind of alone feels like, and she's not going to be alone like I was. Not happening. Well, I wasn't totally alone, as I had this forum to vent on and get good advice, but the doing everything by myself was the loneliest thing I've ever done -- not letting that happen to SF.

So today we opened packages of water proof covers and washable piddle pads to put everywhere, since TF can't always hold it during the complicated process of getting from bed/chair/wheelchair to toilet. A very nice bib scarf came in, and it looks so stylish and practical (and not like a bib) that I'm ordering one for myself (can't take me to a restaurant without food landing on my shirt front), especially salsa). The patient transport thingie hasn't arrived yet, but when it does, we'll assemble it immediately.

TF is looking forward to sleeping in his own bed and not having vitals taken at o dark early. But if he thinks he's going to just sit around and vegetate, he's got another think coming...
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:35 PM
 
Location: Under the Milky Way
1,227 posts, read 915,642 times
Reputation: 4934
You and your spouse are wonderful friends. I hope TF and SF realize what a blessing it is to have you guys. It's encouraging to hear about caring people like you, when I see little of that in my daily life. It reminds me that there still are good folks who are out there.
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:38 PM
 
2,827 posts, read 1,069,882 times
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You are a wonderful friend! We helped a couple remain in there home together for a couple of years. They both had cancer and she also had Alzheimer’s. Eventually she had to go to a nursing home and he stayed with his son while dying. I became her guardian until she died 2 years later. I wouldn’t do it again but not sorry I did it once.
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Old 01-27-2020, 03:36 PM
 
8,206 posts, read 4,009,255 times
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I commend you for your principle concepts. Now slow down and stop being a commander. Im currently dealing with a relative with two strokes within a six month period. You are encouraging a second stroke. Being hard core in therapy is NOT going to reduce the probably of another stroke. When a patient needs to rest. Let them!
Strokes are in part reduced thru slow increments of therapy. Rest is in itself necessary . This military style will not work . This person knows their body better then you. Respect their limits.
With that said,educate yourself with the guidance of a professional therapist advisor. The home modifications are great aides for safety.
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Old 01-27-2020, 04:37 PM
 
Location: N.Sierra Nevadas (California)
61,713 posts, read 4,652,927 times
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I applaud you for insisting on the extra therapy. I am a stroke survivor, & I know how much all the physical therapy helped me. I spent a month in a rehab facility & when they let me go home, I had to go twice a week for outpatient therapy, Once that was finished (insurance) the therapist, told me to keep going for therapy, by joining the senior center & doing one of the low impact classes. I continued that for up to a year post stroke. It paid off, as I now look & walk normally. If he doesn't attempt some therapy, he will only lose more movement. Fatigue is normal after a stroke, so let him rest up too, but push the therapy, as much as you can.
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Old 01-31-2020, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
27,237 posts, read 17,613,090 times
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Good luck with all if this. I am sure you will find the right mix of tough love and compassion.

Your friends are lucky to have your help and support.
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Old 01-31-2020, 10:13 PM
 
Location: Texas Hill Country
1,173 posts, read 670,296 times
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Boy, was I glad that Mom's house was specifically built to be wheelchair ready. When the time came, all we needed was a ramp from garage into house, a few grab bars and a bath seat. No extra construction was necessary. At least this stuff has all gone smoothly at TF and SF's place. So far.

We got the patient transport thingie assembled and tested, then took it over to their house. Spousal Unit installed all but one grab bar (he'll finish that tomorrow), and the new shower head. I helped Short Friend move furniture around and test the sliding bath/shower seat. Tomorrow we'll get one of the recliners out of their Fifth Wheel and put it in their house, as it will work far better for Tall Friend than their normal furniture.

The bathroom door has been widened and the floor tiles replaced, and now looks like it was always that way. The laundry room floor is now level between the garage and house, thanks to some scrap boards and plywood. Spousal Unit built the garage ramp, but it's a couple inches too narrow, so he'll fix that tomorrow, as well.

Evening Sun, appreciate the reminder about the low impact exercises at our senior center. We have a pretty lively and good sized choice of appropriate exercise programs, if we can convince him to participate. I don't know how long he'll be in prescribed physical therapy, but I'm certain it won't be long enough to bring him back to walking normally, as bad as the stroke was. The continuing therapy via senior exercises should help his brain build new pathways. But that's not the immediate thing.

I believe we're as ready as we can be for him to come home. Short Friend already has plans for every Wednesday, which is the night I volunteer at the library. She wants to come back and volunteer the same night, to get some time away and do something not caregiving. Spousal Unit would stay with Tall Friend, and make dinner for all of us at their house. I like this idea.
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Old 02-03-2020, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Texas Hill Country
1,173 posts, read 670,296 times
Reputation: 3453
Tall Friend comes home today, right about now, I guess. Short Friend said she wants to get him into the house by herself, so she can prove to herself that she can do it. We'll go over in a bit to see how she's faring, and to return some valuables she wanted us to secure while he was hospitalized. Their across the street neighbor has been alerted and will be on hand to provide immediate assistance if she needs it.

We're all trying to not hover, which she appreciates, yet be ready to help.

His at home physical therapy begins tomorrow. Not sure when Short Friend will want us to start coming over regularly, so we'll just stay out of the therapist's way until alerted. Should know more this afternoon, when I take the valuables back home.

I'm not sure how to approach it, but plan to ask Short Friend if the rehab folks have mentioned couples counseling. We know he's dealing with some depression, and she fights depression every single day, hence a regular dose of drama. But this is having such a drastic effect on them both that they could use some help there. I may just ask my nurse sister, on whom Short Friend is relying for a lot of medical advice, to suggest it. Might take a while to turn it into one of their ideas, as both are retired military. He still has PTSD from Vietnam, but has gotten VA assistance to keep that under control, to the point that few folks knew he had it. At least it's not triggered after the stroke so far. So if he or she decides it's a good idea to get counseling, they'll both be receptive to it.

Meanwhile, we'll be Simper Gumby (always flexible)...
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Old 02-04-2020, 12:31 PM
 
17,804 posts, read 22,197,639 times
Reputation: 36125
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkay66 View Post
Tall Friend comes home today, right about now, I guess. Short Friend said she wants to get him into the house by herself, so she can prove to herself that she can do it. We'll go over in a bit to see how she's faring, and to return some valuables she wanted us to secure while he was hospitalized. Their across the street neighbor has been alerted and will be on hand to provide immediate assistance if she needs it.

We're all trying to not hover, which she appreciates, yet be ready to help.

His at home physical therapy begins tomorrow. Not sure when Short Friend will want us to start coming over regularly, so we'll just stay out of the therapist's way until alerted. Should know more this afternoon, when I take the valuables back home.

I'm not sure how to approach it, but plan to ask Short Friend if the rehab folks have mentioned couples counseling. We know he's dealing with some depression, and she fights depression every single day, hence a regular dose of drama. But this is having such a drastic effect on them both that they could use some help there. I may just ask my nurse sister, on whom Short Friend is relying for a lot of medical advice, to suggest it. Might take a while to turn it into one of their ideas, as both are retired military. He still has PTSD from Vietnam, but has gotten VA assistance to keep that under control, to the point that few folks knew he had it. At least it's not triggered after the stroke so far. So if he or she decides it's a good idea to get counseling, they'll both be receptive to it.

Meanwhile, we'll be Simper Gumby (always flexible)...
First off you and your husband are amazing friends.

Do they have any children? Even though they're long distance they can take FMLA and help their parents. even taking turns. Being 1,500 miles away isn't a good enough excuse, that's what airplanes are for.
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:32 AM
 
Location: Minnesota
2,361 posts, read 1,196,206 times
Reputation: 4222
Just a small suggestion. With my dad when he started to have mobility issues. I was able to add some height to his recliner, not a rocker recliner. With some spare wood, plus some stain to make it look nice, I added an extra 5 inches to it's height. It made it easier to get in and out of. With your friend being tall it would probably help him even more.

Usually a physical therapist that comes to the home will give patient a list of exercises to do on off days. Just keeping them motivated to do those are, at least at first, is more than enough. But doing them several times a day will help, encourage him to do one additional set. Instead vif 2-3 , do 3-4, but don't overdo!!! Being home can motivate them to move around more than they had when impatient.

Wow, you are a very good friend.
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