Since her shunt surgery and the operation to replace the pieces of her skull, Libby’s abilities seem to have grown by leaps and bounds.
Two Caring Bridge posts from her sister Sarah today:
Libby is having a SUPER DUPER Sunday! Yesterday’s rest has proven to be a great thing. She is alert and giving 1-3 word answers to questions very clearly- Yipee. Lester & Bill stopped by and she smiled alot and spoke with them. Sometimes it takes a while for the word to be spoken but she stays at it and then there it is clear as a bell. She even stuck her tongue out at Lester. Told her she is going to have to practice swallowing with Amy (Speech Therapist) so she could have a Margarita & boy did she light up and smile. When leaving, she told them “Ta Ta for now”. We had been encouraging “bye” but she came up with Ta Ta on her own! Called Bill by name. Today our Libby is very present, happy and wanting to talk. Totally different from yesterday. Just couldn’t wait to share the good news with everyone.
Ok know I already posted about today, but there is more good news to report. Today temp is normal and BP is fabulous (finally). Now the fun stuff. We were working on phrases and she was doing really good so asked if she want to say those to Cathy & Ellen and she replied “Yes, right now”. So called them each on the cell phone and no kidding folks she told each one of our sisters…. “I love you” and then “bye” – loudly, slowly and clearly!!! Afterwards she was smiling big grins and an expression that conveyed she was very proud of herself. And she should be. Happy tears were streaming down my cheeks. Her sincere declarations to both of them pulled hard on my heart strings. Can’t help it but when I am overflowing with such strong emotions of joy, I leak. Then after composing myself (during which time big sister Libby just kept squeezing my hand) asked her if she wanted to listen to music or watch DVD. She said firmly “practice”. I asked “keep practicing talking?” and she replied”Yes”. So for about 45 minutes we practiced 1 word responses and 2-3 word replies for questions people might ask her. She did great. You have to have lots of patience sometimes as it takes her awhile but she got there 95% of the time. Then I role played different family, friends, therapists & nurses strolling in and asking her questions so she could practice her responses. Well I’m not a good actress but evidently quite entertaining because she chuckled pretty loudly at a few of my feeble attempts to be other people. All this fun & games left her pretty tired and she decided to nap. In typical Libby fashion she is wanting to succeed and all with a great sense of humor. Oh what a glorious day!
May she continue to make such wonderful progress so that we can break out the salt and lime for those margaritas!
Update for 7-29-13
An early morning report from Libby’s sister Ellen:
It was Fantastic! to see Libby this morning after being gone for a week on a church mission trip. What wonderful progress she is making! Praise the Lord! She had already visited with Lester earlier in the day and was waiting for Therapy to start when I arrived about 9:20am. She was sitting up on the cushioned therapy table with very little assistance from Bolla – good for you, Libby!!!
We had a short conversation, with Libby providing plenty of smiles and a few appropriate comments. My favorite was when she told me, “I’m crazy”, with a smile. I assured her that she was not, that she was only having difficulty talking, not thinking. She smiled again at that, but when I added, “or at least you are not crazier than you’ve always been”, she burst into laughter and her sweet Libby smile. What a beautiful moment to see our “old” Libby back again. Then when she told me, “Love you”, the occupational therapist Lenora, Bolla, and I all fought back tears of happiness.
Libby is working hard with the therapists on sitting on her own, picking up things with her right hand, trying (with little success so far) to “wake up” her left side, and today she even stood briefly with Lots of help from a harness machine and the therapists Pia and Bolla. I don’t think you could call it standing on her own – Yet.
Tomorrow I will try to observe and report on the speech therapist’s session, although I try to stay out of Libby’s line of vision when any therapist is working with her, so she can focus on their instructions and encouragement. Libby is trying so hard! You can’t help but admire her courage and determinaton! You Go Sister!!!
Yes, indeed. You Go Libby!
Update for 7-31-13
From Cathy Arnold:
What a wonderful way for Libby to end a turbulent month – stronger, more verbal, and great sense of humor still intact. Libby, please blast into August and take flight!
Lester reported the following today:
Libby was extremely alert this morning. She had her glasses on when I got there. Meredith Schroeder who is one of Libby’s best quilting friends had sent Libby a small magazine which had Meredith’s favorite quilts in it and one of Libby’s was in the mag. Libby looked that magazine over for 20 minutes and she told me whose quilt it was and would also comment on each quilt. If you want to get her going just bring the mag out and start asking her questions about the different quilts.
I went and got some coffee and when I came back she had found the controls to her bed and was holding it up against her ear- she thought it was a cell phone. I called Les and she talked to him off and on for about 5 minutes – Les was delighted he had talked to his mom – first time he had heard her speak.
Cathy and I were talking to Libby yesterday afternoon and out of nowhere Libby says that Delores Melton was a “bad driver” (meaning driver of Libby’s wheel chair). Delores had taken Libby outside Monday and Libby also said it was “hot”. We thought it would be a great treat. Libby had obviously not enjoyed the experience. Delores called me this morning and was telling me how impressed and optimistic she was about Libby’s recovery. Then she tells me that when she was taking Libby outside that they had gotten in the elevator and she had pushed Libby into the wall. There was another person in the elevator and Delores said Libby looked at the other person and said “she’s a bad driver”. Delores said they fell out laughing.
Update for 8-1-13:
From Libby’s sister Ellen:
Libby passed her barium swallowing test today! It’s not the sort of test you can study for (other than with practice and instruction from a therapist), and the ability to swallow is something most of us take for granted. In spite of the yukky barium, we are thankful Libby conquered this gateway to eating “normally” again in the future. Bring on the juice and applesauce!
The test was given to Libby at the Memorial Hermann Southwest hospital, which is a Very short van ride from University Place. Lester rode with her in the UP van, with Libby strapped in her wheelchair in the van. Lester reported that she seemed to enjoy the ride, and he was very relieved that this will now be her mode of transportation to doctor’s appointments and tests, instead of a gurney in an ambulance – a big improvement in “wheels”.
This afternoon Libby enjoyed a long chat in Spanish with the nurses and assistants at UP, and it seemed to Lester that Libby spoke better in Spanish than English, (but since Lester’s Spanish is mostly Mexican restaurant menu driven, who knows?) In any case, she certainly has made a Lot of friends at UP, and we appreciate any remembrances of former skills and talents.
Amy, the Speech therapist, gave Libby a 24 piece puzzle to work this afternoon, and Libby was soon engrossed and captivated by the challenge. She did not care to be distracted by Anything or Anyone, as she picked up pieces carefully with her right hand and tried her hardest to put Pooh and Tigger in their proper order.
Libby was not very successful, but she worked at the puzzle for over two hours. She gave a “don’t-you-dare” look to any of us who tried to help or wiggle a piece in for her. She was determined to do it on her own! It was hard to watch her struggle with a problem she used to solve so efficiently, but it was Wonderful to see her able to even tackle a task that would have been impossible last week or the week before. Her determination and improvements remain amazing answers to our prayers! Thank God!