Making Progress, But Not Out of the Woods

I am encouraged by the progress that Kate has made in the past week. One of the areas in which she has improved significantly is eating. She is now eating more “regular” meals and in greater quantities than she did the two weeks before. We went from one scrambled egg to two in addition to yogurt in the morning (actually close to noon). We had been relying heavily on soups for lunch and dinner. Now, we are getting her the same takeout meals that I get, and she is enjoying every bite.

Just as important to her caregivers and me is that she is protesting much less when changed. That doesn’t mean she likes it, far from it. She still tries to push us away from her, but her screaming and yelling has almost disappeared. It only comes at the moment we move her. For example, once moved to her side, she is quiet. It still helps that I am almost always with her. I continue to hold her hands to which she holds tightly. Two or three times I have put my arm around her and asked her to give me a hug while the caregiver pushes her over with one hand on her thigh and the other in the middle of her back. That way Kate turns very easily and we continue hugging each other until the caregiver finishes.

I must admit to a touch of sadness when I see her submit to us like this. She doesn’t like what is being done to her but has just given in. I wouldn’t like it either. It doesn’t take a long time, perhaps 10-15 minutes. Yesterday, however, the caregiver bathed her and also changed the sheets. The whole process took almost an hour. I think Kate and the caregiver may have handled it better than I did.

We are making the most of the Christmas season. As I did last year, I called on the woman who attends to our shrubbery to decorate the inside of the house using the decorations Kate has collected over the years. In addition, we have tuned in to YouTube much more than we have before. Yesterday, for example, we played Christmas music on the TV in our bedroom from noon until 8:00 last night. One of our caregivers also found a more beautiful fireplace video that shows a large portion of a nicely decorated seating area of a lodge with a large tree and a grand fireplace. I don’t know that Kate likes it any better than the one I had found before, but I do.

Our daughter, Jesse, was in town Saturday through Tuesday morning. It was a good visit for all of us. She felt Kate was much better than she had expected. She also had time to get acquainted with the caregivers who were here during that time. She was impressed with them and felt I was in good hands.

We had an especially touching moment on Sunday night when she joined us as I read The Velveteen Rabbit. I don’t believe I had known the book is a favorite of Jesse’s. As I read, Kate took Jesse’s hand in her right hand and mine in her left. She squeezed them periodically as I read. She still doesn’t talk a lot, but she is feeling and expressing her emotions.

Over the past week (until last night), we’ve had other wonderful evenings after the caregiver leaves. Kate has been relaxed and enjoyed the Christmas music and an almost nightly reading of The Velveteen Rabbit. Two nights I also read Love You Forever.

Not everything has gone the way I would like, but I think that is natural for someone who has experienced the kind of trauma she faced. The most significant thing is that she still has not gotten out of bed. We have talked about it, and last week, the physical therapist was able to get her sitting up for a few seconds. She came again on Tuesday, and Kate was too lethargic. That wasn’t too long after the caregiver had changed her. It sometimes takes her a while to recover. She is coming today, and we will try again.

As I mentioned above, our nights have gone very well until last night. She was a little upset when we changed her, but she seemed cheerful afterward. After the caregiver left, we watched a band concert in San Antonio in which our youngest grandson was playing. Her mood changed during that time, and she didn’t talk to me the rest of the evening. I even read The Velveteen Rabbit and didn’t get much response at all. When I reached the end, I thanked her for letting me read it and that I like the story. I was hoping to get her to say the same thing, something she almost always does. This time, she was silent.

This morning around 9:30, I noticed that she was running her fingers through her hair and went to see if she was awake. She was, but she didn’t speak to me at all. I went back to the kitchen and mixed her morning meds with yogurt and took it to her. She took it easily. Then I brought her some mandarin oranges. She ate a good serving of those. I took the dish back to the kitchen, and when I returned, she was asleep and still is at 11:30. I hope when we wake her shortly that she will greet us with a smile.

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