I wish I had kept a running list of all Joanne's doctors appointments up to this point. Since leaving Spalding on May 13th I would guess that Joanne has had about 50 appointments. Between PT, OT, speech, physiatry, GP, orthopedics, orthotics, ENT, accupuncture and massage therapy Joanne has been through a seemingly constant series of appointments. Fortunately there is a team behind Joanne and between her mom, dad and I we have managed to get here there and back to all these appointments. I tell you what, I am thankful for Joanne's iPad which gets a lot of use in waiting rooms around the city of Denver.
Today we have two appointments: accupupuncture and cardiology.
Joanne hates acupuncture, and I can see why. I always though acupuncture involved tapping a needle just through the skin to make contact with the nerves that run through our bodies. Not so. The needles go deep! Some of them are up to four inches long and go a 2-3 inches deep into Joanne's muscle tissue. They are very, very fine needles, but still...
And then after the needles (up to 40) are all in place, Dr, Fan (the acupuncturist) hooks some of them up to a little box that pulses electricity through the needles. I honestly thought that acupuncture would be a kind of peaceful, Zen like experience. But it isn't.
The first time I took Joanne to Dr. Fan I made the mistake laughing because she looked sort of like a porcupine. Joanne was not amused so to make up for it I asked Dr. Fan to hit me with one of those needles...which he did...right between my eyes. And he really dug it in there too! It didn't feel Zen-like. It felt a lot like having a needle jabbed into your face. So at least I have a tiny little sense of what Joanne is going through. Not pleasant.
But it is having some positive effects. It seems like with every visit Joanne recovers a little movement. She can move her arm a little and I have noticed a lot less constricture in her shoulder. She has also been able to move her fingers some. That is very cool! The needles are working to connect her brain to her should, arm and hand to remind her brain and appendage that they are supposed to have a relationship with each other. She has also been able to wiggle her toes. And when she does these things we cheer! If you had told me a year ago that I would be applauding someones toe wiggle I wouldn't have believed it, but a toe wiggle gets quite a response these days.
The cardiologist: this will be our first visit to one of these. To this point no one has been able to figure out why the stroke happened. So we have see a LOT of doctors to try to find out why and if there is any risk for something like this to happen again. I think we all live with a little niggling though in the back of our minds that not knowing means we are susceptible to another one of these. There is the logical part of the brain that says, "surely this couldn't happen twice!" but there is another part that says, "if we don't know what caused it we can't be sure if it'll happen again."
So off to the cardiologist we go. He is a good friend of a friend and is going to see if Joanne's heart has anything to do with what happened. Turns out that Joanne has a very small hole in her heart which is suprisingly not uncommon. And other doctors have ruled it out as the cause of the stroke--the hole is too small to make a clot of that size. But we want a second opinion on that. No one who has given us this opinion is an actual cardiologist. So we're going to check this box on the list of people who might give us some insight.
The last appointment of the week is the best: massage therapy. Now getting a weekly massage may sound delightful, but Brooke (the massage therapist) really works Joanne over. They identify the problem areas and then Brooke digs in. Don't get me wrong; Joanne loves Brooke and her massage sessions and they do "bliss her out" but they are incredibly therapeutic as well as pleasurable.
Other news and notes: Audrey is going to Spokane with my folks to see Bethany for Parents Weekend at Whitworth. Audrey is so excited she can hardly stand it.
Emma is going to the theater with Joanne's dad on Saturday. They are going to see the sequel to the play Annie. They get to dress up and everything. Emma is excited to go.
As for Joanne and I, I expect we'll take a walk/roll or two, drink some coffee, have some conversations, do some reading, play around on the computer/iPad/iPone, and generally pass the time in each others presence.
That's a whole other experience that deserves a post--the power of just being present.
1. Joanne is having surgery on December 5 to elongate her achilles tendon. Bummer! She will but in a cast that can't get wet of can't bear weight. Think about that for a minute. No walking and no showers without getting a trash bag and some duct tape involved. This will be a challenging time for Joanne and the rest of the family. She'll be in that cast for 6 weeks! Not sure how we are going to make it work but I know we will. This experience has proved that we can rise to the occasion as a family. But pray that the result is worth the pain and discomfort and that at the end of it, Joanne will be able to start to walk normally again.
2. Joanne is still in pain much of the time. We are looking for a non-narcotic solution. Please pray that the doctors will be able to figure something out to relieve her pain.
3. Please pray for a super-natural peace and energy to come over us. It is so easy to get downright discouraged and depressed. We need a boost to get us through these days!