Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mack's New Trick - April 14, 2007

We hope that everyone is well and happy even though Spring has fizzled out on us this past week. Don't worry, we'll be complaining about the heat and humidity soon enough.

Here is another picture of Mawmaw's visit with Mack on Saturday before Easter where he's holding her hand tightly with his right hand. He was listening to her tell him the latest news and how he needs to get better so that he could help her with her "boxes". It's been a running joke between them for a couple of years about her craft boxes that either need to be brought up from the basement or be taken down to the basement. Mack used to come by her house to help her with her craft boxes and to check on her.

UPDATE: Mack's newest trick as of this past Wednesday, April 12, was to give Richard a thumbs up on command. He did this several times and the staff at Trinity Mission saw him do this as well. Of course everyone cheered when he did it again and he continued to do it three or four times in a row on command, without a pause after each command. That means he processed what he heard almost instantaneously, as a normal person would. It was documented into Mack's chart at Trinity Mission that he followed a command several times in a row. If Mack continues to follow commands regularly, he will be brought back to MCV to go through their extensive physical therapy rehabilitation. Richard has contacted and had several discussions with Dr. Bullock and neuro specialists to get advice on the best treatment for Mack now in order to get him back to being as normal as possible again. The most recent discussion was with Dr. Harvey E. Jacobs, Ph.D. LLC Licensed Clinical Psychologist / Behavior Analyst, who also has written a book that includes info on TBI's (traumatic brain injuries).

I remember Richard telling me about one conversation he had with one of Mack's doctors at MCV around the end of December. It went something like this - if Mack continued to progress at the rate that he was going (in December - eating ice, ice pops, etc.) that we might see a miracle in about 6 months. Well, it's been about 3 1/2 months since that doctor made that comment - and look how far Mack has come since December. He's eating regular food for two meals a day and is starting to follow commands.

Jenny, we do have Magic here at the house. After your request, Richard took Magic to visit Mack the next day, and as you guessed, Magic brought a smile to Mack's face. Richard said that since Magic is one of Mack's favorite things, he would rather keep him here at the house for safe keeping and take him down there now and then. We would really feel bad if Magic came up missing.

That's all the news for this evening. We encourage anyone who keeps up with Mack's progress to add your comments to the blog, if you'd like to do so. One day Mack will read this and know that we were all thinking about him and praying for him. Please don't forget to keep sending little prayers up for Mack, 'cause he still needs all the help he can get.

Have a good weekend,
Ruth & Richard
(Don't forget that you can click on each picture to make it larger.)

Monday, April 09, 2007

April 9, 2007 - Easter visit from Mawmaw & Dale

Mack was pleasantly surprised on Good Friday when Richard and Dale (his step brother) came to see him. He didn't see Dale at first until Richard told him that he brought someone to see him and then Dale stepped in front of Mack. Mack started looking at Dale beginning at his feet and then, as he looked up, he recognized Dale's face and broke out in a huge grin as he reached for Dale's hand .
On Saturday, Richard, Mom (Mawmaw) and I went to visit with Mack for several hours. Even though Mom hasn't been feeling very well lately, she was determined to make the trip to visit Mack for Easter. You can see the surprise on Mack's face when he saw her in the picture above. As she sat with him and talked to him, he clung tightly to her hand like he didn't want to let her go. She massaged his feet and told him that he needed to start moving and stretching his legs so that he could start walking and come home. Next thing we knew, he started stretching his right leg to nearly a right angle several times over, pushing hard against Mom's hand to let her know he was trying. Then, he started moving his left leg as much as he could, over and over, until he got tired. Of course, she praised him to let him know that his efforts were spectacular. He loved all the praises and continued doing his leg exercises for several minutes for Mom. Mack has come to understand everything that is being said now. We need to keep his spirits up, give him goals to reach, and the hope that he will be able to come home once he can walk again.
To all of Mack's family: If you can, each time you visit with Mack, please help keep him encouraged and engaged in doing physical therapy, whenever possible. It's the key to getting him moving and walking again.
Mack is eating really well now, without any complications other than missing his mouth once in a while. We brought him a smothered pork chop, mashed potatoes and gravy, and broccoli for dinner, which he ate. He also ate some seedless grapes and strawberries, and two small chocolate eggs for dessert. I know if given a choice that he would rather have homemade food rather than eating sandwiches. Although, he does like his "burnt" hot dogs from the grill and my homemade barbeque.
We hope that everyone had a wonderful, peaceful Easter.
Thank you for the beautiful Easter card, Uncle Kenneth! We love you.
Happy Spring,
Ruth & Richard

Friday, April 06, 2007

April 6, 2007 - Mack's Progress

Group picture in the nursing home courtyard at Mack's birthday party on March 11th, 2007.

Standing from left to right: Diane and Henry Manor; Carol Sue and Kevin Bennett with Kaitlyn and JJ, her boyfriend; Kim and Ronnie Grubb; Richard & Ruth Manor and Terry Grubb on the right.

Down in the front row are: Belinda Morales; Mack in the chair; Mack's close friends, Jason Bailey and Kristen Reibsamen. Mack's friend and former neighbor, John, had to work and wasn't able to join us in person but he sent a card and gift for Mack through Belinda.

Doesn't Mack look "kool" wearing Jason's sunglasses? The swimsuit edition magazine is one of Mack's favorite birthday presents as it has Beonce' on the cover.

UPDATE: Mack has been eating about 2 regular meals a day and tries to mostly feed himself. Richard takes food like fruit, cookies, homemade beef stew, string cheese sticks, and chocolate pudding for Mack to eat when he goes to visit him during the week. Mack sometimes misses his mouth when feeding himself and will use the napkin in his right hand to wipe his mouth. If he missed a spot, Richard will tell him to do it again or get the other side of his mouth and Mack does it. Last Tuesday Mack deliberately folded the napkin in half and used the folded napkin to wipe his mouth again. That's something he hasn't done before. He also puts his chapstick on his lips himself when told to. He usually puts it on his upper lip and we have to remind him to put it on his bottom lip too - and he does.

Last Sunday we took Mack out into the courtyard since the weather was warm, fed him and afterward, gave him his mini keyboard to see what he would do with it. He took it from my hand with his right hand and started playing a key or two with his right thumb. After pushing the auto-play on it so that he could hear some of the songs, we encouraged him to do it. After a few tries, he finally took his little finger and his thumb and started pushing keys deliberately with those two fingers without any assistance. I reminded him that he used to be play and that he could do it again, that he just needs to keep trying.

Richard and I try to stimulate Mack by telling him what's been going on at home and engage him with some type of activities whenever we visit with him to keep him interested and hopefully, progressing. Sometimes he is tired and doesn't want to cooperate, so Richard tells him a joke or a little limerick and gets him smiling, then, most of the time, he will humor us and try to do what we ask him to do. Mack is showing emotions again. If he gets angry or frustrated, he will grab you and hold on really tight to let you know that he's had enough. That's happened to us a couple of times in the past three weeks. One particular time he looked like he was upset as tears started welling in his eyes. I tried to figure out why, but I really don't know what triggered it.

We've noticed that Mack has been moving his mouth like he is trying to say something and sometimes it comes out as a very light whisper or even a slight whistle, but we can't understand him yet. Every now and then he will even make a single loud grunting sound, but that's not often. The key is to keep talking to him and asking him questions to make him want to communicate. He has a resident friend named Shirley at the nursing home who talks to him frequently. She told us that the reason she does it is that one day he may want to tell her to "shut up". Richard told her to call us if that happened.

Easter is almost here. Holidays always make me think of our entire, wonderful family - those that are living near us and also those who live further away. We want to thank each of you for the love and support you have shown through e-mails, cards and letters. We want you all to kow how much we appreciate having such a big, wonderful caring family. Also, a huge thank you to all of our friends, neighbors and co-workers who have given us their caring support. We love you all and wish you a wonderful, Happy Easter.

All our love to all,
Richard and Ruth