Journal entry by Steven Lewis

Hi all. Here are some highlights from my week. On Monday morning before Danny and I met with my primary OT and PT for a so called "family meeting". This is where the team discusses my progress with any family members wishing to be present and addresses any questions or concerns. Dan came well prepared with good questions that led to useful discussions, one consequence of which is that I no longer take my wheelchair with me to rehab. For some time I haven't been using it while at rehab, but going to and from rehab I used it—that is, until Wednesday.  Now the only times I use my wheelchair are when I go out in public to places where walking with my cane would be too cumbersome or unsafe. And speaking of walking with my cane, this week in PT, we began practicing walking with a straight cane. Up to now I had only used a quad cane. A straight cane is definitely more challenging and less stable, but I'm getting the hang of it. I predict I'll be using only a straight cane within a few weeks.  Walking with a straight cane is much faster than with a quad cane, because I take a "step" with the cane and my left foot simultaneously.  With a quad, the cane, my left foot, and my right foot are each separate steps.  The other advantage of a straight cane is that it's a better prop when I want to do a Fred Astaire number. 😉

On Tuesday my primary PT finally cleared me to walk indoors (with quad cane and wearing foot/ankle brace) unaccompanied.  This is huge as it means, for example, that I can go to the bathroom whenever I damn well please without having to get someone to walk with me.  It also means that my balance and stability have improved enough for my PT to feel I'm safe without an escort.  And the more I walk, the better I get at it!  On Thursday a PT and an OT took me and one other patient on a field trip to Abt Electronics and Appliances. Chicago-area people will know what that is, but for the rest of you, it's a HUGE electronics and appliances store in the area, more like an indoor mall than a store.  The goal of the outing was to have us do a lot of walking in a public setting. And we were given tasks to complete, like finding the most expensive item in the store (which is an uber fancy, sophisticated home theater setup for $500,000).  It was exhausting and challenging but fun.

Lest you think I ignored my hand and arm this week in rehab, I made progress there too.  One of the things we worked on was holding things in my lef (weak)t hand while walking (my right hand being too busy holding the cane).  This is important for gaining more independence. I'm pleased to report I've gotten better at that, even for fairly heavy items, like a gallon of milk. However, I still wouldn't trust myself with something heavy, awkward, and breakable, like a dinner plate loaded with food.  (Alas, I think I'm going to need assistance at Thanksgiving!). My nimbleness with my left hand, and ability to coordinate it with my right hand in a two-handed task, is getting better too. On Wednesday in an OT session, I practiced tying shoelaces. Several weeks ago when I tried this in OT downtown, I could barely do it, and my left hand did little more than grasp laces. This time I had no problem tying the shoelaces. In fact, in a 15 minute timed test, I was able to tie shoelaces 42 times!

i had a few fun plans this weekend. On Friday, Danny andI went to lunch with my cousin Amy.  For the Chicagoans reading this: we went to Walker Bros. Original Pancake House. Mmmmm!  On Friday evening, my brother, sister, niece Cassie, nephew Parker, and I went to see my niece Lora in her high school's production of Shrek The Musical.  It was terrific, with really good acting, singing, and production values for a high school show.  And on Saturday, I had lunch with one of my college roommates, Roger—who I hadn't seen (except on Facebook) in nearly 30 years. It was so much fun catching up with him! 
This coming week of rehab is shortened because of Thanksgiving; I only go Monday thru Wednesday.  Not sure yet whether or not I'll post an update next weekend. If I have any big news, I'll post it.  Meantime, I wish you all a Happy (and yummy!) Thanksgiving!!
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