Update from Jenny (Stewart’s sister)

20 Sep

This is Jenny’s summary of her visit with Stewart. Jenny is Stewart’s younger sister and lives in Ottawa.

Thursday, Sept 15:

Arrived at the hospital in the morning, and saw Stewart for the first time since his accident. He looked well, but was extremely tired as he had not slept much the night before.

Unfortunately, Stewart has been having a great deal of trouble sleeping, and getting enough restorative sleep. This is a chronic problem in the hospital environment and Stewarts’s Dr’s are trying to address this issue by adjusting his medications and routines. However, they do need to turn Stewart over every three hours and do other things that interrupt his sleep.  While Stewart has his own room, there is a lot of activity on the ward.

I was able to see Stewart being transferred to his temporary hospital wheelchair in preparation for his Rehab meeting.  I also attend the rehab meeting. 

This rehab meeting was held with Stewart & his family with the Rehab Team to review Stewart’s overall rehabilitation plan. There are approx one dozen rehabilitation specialists who will be working with Stewart, to develop a recovery plan for him that is unique to his particular recovery needs. The family was introduced to them at this meeting. This group of specialists will be meeting on a regular basis to review Stewart’s progress. The goal of this phase of Stewart’s recovery is to get him ready to re-integrated back into the real world.

For instance, one of the specialists, the occupational therapist’s (OT) has already visited Stewart’s condominium, to conduct a “site” visit. Recommendations to the condo board to add ramps and allow easy access though a garage has been made (and later I understand that the condo is proceeding with these small changes which would allow Stewart to live there if he is in a wheelchair.)

They also said they would modify his schedule so he is doing more of the physio and rehab activities in the afternoon, so he can sleep and rest more in the morning.

Unfortunately, Stewart did not attend his physio on Thursday (it was then in the morning) as he was absolutely exhausted.

Later in the afternoon, I took Stewart for a walk in his wheelchair outside for fresh air and a bit of sunshine. It seems Stewart does go out everyday and is very familiar with the entire hospital and the grounds now, and he directed me to all the places he wanted to see. I am told that I drive too slow. (However, in my defence it is a heavy chair that has no hand brakes and there are some really large hills he likes to go down!).

We also visited all the other wards where Stewart has stayed as Stewart wanted to chat with many of the people he has met and who looked after him. I cannot believe how many people Stewart knows already in this place.

Learned how to brush & floss Stewart’s teeth. We did the air breathing exercise for his lungs. He breathes into this device and tries to push a ball up with his breath. He is pretty good at it.

Note – Stewart is still working on recovering the ability to swallow. He has an exercise recently now that he does where he is suppose to imagine a ping pong ball going down his throat?  (who would do that anyway?). Apparently, his “swallowing” therapist (sorry I cannot recall the actual name of the swallowing therapist discipline), says the muscles are behaving correctly in the swallow so he is heading in a good direction with this.

In the meantime, all of Stewart’s nutrients and fluids and medications are given to Stewart through a peg that is directly into his stomach. He tells me that he enjoys when they flush the peg line with cold water directly into his stomach as it gives him the sensation of having a large glass of cold water. Stewart is also asking if he could get a cup of coffee into his peg in the morning to help wake up. The Dr’s are considering that (politely) but I think it will be a “no” as they told him that no one has ever done that before.

Since Stewart can not yet swallow, he has something called a “younker” that he can use to suction liquids out of his mouth. This is positioned next to his head so that he can easily reach it on his own.  He also has a triangular device on his pillow that he can use to call the nurses by moving his head onto it. They answer him through a two way speaker that is positioned above his head. In this way he is able to get any nurse services that he needs.

Friday, Sept 16

Stewart did not sleep at all on Thursday night. He was absolutely exhausted again on Friday and was unable to do any physio. He says it was the worst night he has had in the hospital so far. Not surprisingly, Friday was not a good day for Stewart.

Luckily, a friend of Stewart’s, Daniela, in town for a few days visited in the late afternoon and joined us in some walking. I say luckily, because she was able to push his wheel chair at a running pace which Stewart enjoyed.  

Saturday, Sept 17

On Friday night, during the night Stewart requested and was given some subcutaneous morphine (a needle) and was able to sleep.  The Dr had arranged earlier that Stewart could request this if he was still unable to get to sleep. Having not slept for previous two days and two nights, Stewart finally made the request and was finally able to get some much needed sleep.

 Saturday was an excellent day for Stewart. He was able to stay in his wheel chair for the entire day.  

We went for a long walk in the morning outside. On the way back into the building Stewart was able to swing his right arm and activate the handicap open door button on his own, with the back of his hand. And he was able to return that arm to his wheelchair table, again on his own. This is a huge progress and the first time he has been able to do this. He also did it again on the second walk of the day.

In the afternoon, after Stewart had a good nap in his wheelchair (It goes completely horizontal for that), we went on the internet as Stewart wanted to explore purchasing some additional physio-therapy device used to electrically stimulate muscles. Stewart directed us to what he wanted to look at on the internet and found a device that met his required specifications.  We ordered it on his behalf and he will get it soon.

Stewart also practiced his exercises for his arm movements.  As it is the weekend there are no structured rehab activities.

After that my cousin Alex arrived for a short visit, and my brother James arrived a bit after that. Stewart wanted to listen to some tunes so we turned on his ipod and attached some speakers (on loan from another friend) and had a small short social gathering. And then went for another walk.

Sunday Sept 18

Stewart had a good night’s sleep, and did not request any morphine to help him sleep.

He spent the morning outside, and again activated the handicap button in the doorway and then a long nap in the afternoon in his wheelchair again.  

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