The Best Laid Plans….

March 14, 2013

Brain Injury Rehab, Gardening, Home

Well, I promised pics of the desolate backyard and delivered Arpege (remember those commercials?)  There are, of course, excuses.  Yesterday was the day all 4 doggies went to the beauty parlor.  They go monthly right now due to the mud in the yard, and I get about 4 hours off those days…it’s ordinarily quite peaceful on those days with no demands to run to the door to let them out yet again.  This was my planned slot for taking pics.  Yesterday, not so much peace and quiet.

When we returned from taking them to the groomer, I parked at the curb as usual, Mike got out of the car and the next thing I knew he was on the ground, wedged between the car and the curb.  SIGH.  Got him up, dusted him off, helped him to the porch and he seemed no worse for the wear…but this was a huge deal.  He’s a big guy and it’s not easy getting him up off the ground.  By the time I got him checked out, settled, coffee in hand and finally down for a nap, it was time for the doggies to come home.

Mike’s balance seems whacky just now.  There’s a couple things going on I think.  First, it looks he starts out to walk and his upper body moves forward.  Suddenly, he is running with these quick little steps to try to catch up with his upper body.   It’s like his upper body begins to walk but his legs and feet walk later.  I think (could this be possible?) that his brain tells his legs to walk and his brain thinks he is walking, his upper body gains momentum, but the message takes longer to get to his feet and legs so he is always trying to catch up to the momentum over the top of his legs.  The second thing going on is that he has more things in his mind at one time now…yet the processing is not 100% so some of those things get sacrificed.  If he tries to multitask…which might be something as innocuous as sipping his coffee while walking back to his chair, some task must be sacrificed.  Walking, carrying, sipping are not sacrificed, but a bit of balance is.  So he staggers.  And often trips.  A third dynamic is lack of core strength and leg strength.

All of these tell me that the plans I have for the house and yard are well in line with what his needs are going to be.  Outside, steps need to be eliminated and exchanged for ramps.  The curbing needs an opening like you have at a driveway so he doesn’t have to step up from the curb.  Hard, level surfaces need to be available for him to walk on that will make it easier for him to balance.  As soon as the outside is done I need to move to the inside and concentrate on accessibility and further aging in place changes.  A kitchenette in our suite so that if he is confined to one level we can still manage.  Opening up the kitchen so I can keep an eye on him no matter where on the first floor I am so he can maintain some independence while he is able.  PHEW.  Lotsa work.   Lotsa budget.  All I can do is take it a day at a time…a project at a time.  Back yard this year, front yard in Spring…kitchenette thereafter, open up the kitchen last.  Wonder where those Cousins On Call are when you need them???

Yesterday, as Mike napped, I did some research at the Trex site to find a new post cap to replace the one Hurricane Sandy ate.  While I was there I noticed they now do Trex pergolas…and new for this year, Wall Pergolas!  Yep.  Attach it above a door or window and grow over it…or not.  This was neat news to me because the landscaper likes the patio under our deck…the one our bedroom/living suite opens out onto…as a wonderfully shady, private, intimate space for Mike and me to enjoy the backyard living space.  She mentioned wisteria twice to me and I think in the context of growing it on a structure right  in front of that deck/patio.  Imagine sitting there and racemes of wisteria blossoms are drooping down in front of you…luring hummingbirds and butterflies and affording you front row seats.  Heavenly!  That it smells good is a big plus.  That I ADORE wisteria doesn’t hurt!  I hope she DOES incorporate it into the design plan!!  Meanwhile, those wall pergola images tell me that it might be the perfect solution.  Mounted on the deck 4×4 uprights with the pergola part perpendicular to the facing board…or even mounting the ledger braces on the facer and running the pergola part perpendicular to the deck floor might just be the ticket to support for wisteria!  Oooooh.  I hope it makes it into the design.  That would definitely be garden eye candy for me!!

I promise you…pics tomorrow.  Plugging in the camera’s battery charger as soon as I stand up.

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2 Comments on “The Best Laid Plans….”

  1. Dann Bennett Says:

    Does Mike have ongoing physical therapy? Has he had a consult/evaul for the walking-balance thing recently? Mike IS a big guy . . . has to be a challenge to get him safely vertical. You guys are in my prayers daily.


    • rsmallen Says:

      Hi Dann, thanks for the prayers, we appreciate them! No, PT discharged him long ago. His inability to remember, his impulsivity, his impaired ability to multitask mentally all precluded making further progress in PT. The VA PCP had him re-evaluated by their PT to see if a cane or something would benefit him and prevent the falls…they agreed with the private folks. A walking assist such as a crutch would make him more likely to fall…too many things to coordinate and too little processing power to do so. I am hoping this is just another phase. Sometimes he gets into phases where he seems to digress, then one day it stops and he makes tremendous progress. Keeping fingers crossed!


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