Progress Report: Week 5

Last week I was very concerned about Dennis. His behavior was as if he had “checked out”. He wasn’t answering when people talked to him. There was a lot of vacant staring and, even by his own report, his perception was altered. I wondered whether there had been another stroke, or possibly, the dementia had taken a turn for the worse.

It all made sense to me when they told me that Baclofen, a muscle relaxant that he had been given, was being discontinued. I did not know that the doctor had prescribed it to see if it would help his rigidity. There are side effects associated with that med that can really mess with the head.

At the same time he had a bladder infection that was pretty significant and was being treated for that. Both the med and the infection could have caused the change in his condition. I was hoping when I saw him on Wednesday that he would show recovery.

Wednesday was a good day.

– He talked to me ALL DAY. What a difference. He participated in conversations with therapists and was so much more like the Dennis I knew.

– Therapies went well and he was able to show progress in several different tasks.

– He was alert and not napping all the time.

– Speech therapy decided to do another swallowing evaluation, scheduled for the next morning, because he seemed to be coughing less and swallowing better. He was so excited about this.

– He wanted to watch TV so we followed Hurricane Ian as it went through our former home area in Florida

Thursday was not as good as we had hoped.

– The swallowing evaluation, 8:30 am seemed to go okay, but when we reviewed the results at noon, we were disappointed. No progression to a diet yet. He is still losing the fluids down his airway and is risking aspirations pneumonia. Therapy will be continued along with tube feedings.

– However, the other therapies went well, so there were enough interesting moments to be thankful for. I was surprised to see him successfully guard himself from a beach ball tossed in his direction. He can move his hand quickly enough and with good aim to bat it away.

– He has become very emotional. I can tell when the “cry face” is starting and it just about breaks my heart to see him affected that way. This is a long, tiring road and the ups and downs are like a roller coaster.

We pray together each day when I leave and that is his most emotional time. The tears flow when I remind him that he heard God say “That’s my boy.” And for now, we are still at Miller Dwan where he has come to know and love the staff members who work with him. They are still looking for a long term facility where he can continue therapy but none has been found. On to week 6…

He looks at this lovely poster made for him at our family reunion. All the staff like it too and some have started calling him Uncle Bus.

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