Terry’s Story

Site created on September 26, 2019

May 29, 2020: Terry is home!

3149 Park Ave. S., Mpls, MN  55407
Home phone: 612-824-5157

Terry's cell phone: 408-406-3609
Voicemail is not enabled, but if  she doesn't pick up, she might see your number in the missed call list and call you back.

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May 17, 2020 update: Terry was scheduled to come home on May 4. Unfortunately, on April 21, she fell while getting out of bed in the middle of the night and broke her hip. She has now had a partial hip replacement and is well on the road to recovery, though the incident has set her back a bit re her memory issues (why she's there, what's happening). She is now scheduled to come home towards the end of May.

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January 11, 2020: The Story, as told by Denny. A summary of events

During the summer of 2019, Terry started being lethargic, spending most of the day lying down, reading and petting cats, eating almost nothing (mostly yogurt and saltine crackers), drinking the usual amount of (watered) wine, and cancelling a couple of medical appointments because (she said) she had quarreled with her doctor. I suspect she also was missing some of her daily prescription meds and was failing to monitor her blood sugar, which (if so) I didn't realize until later.

This included being too tired to interact with visiting friends, and by mid-September had progressed suddenly to being unable to stand up and walk unless I helped her. A week or so later, she couldn't do so even with my help. (We worked, not very successfully, with adult diapers; I also rented a wheelchair but it's not practical in our house, and even if it were, I couldn't get her into and out of it. Terry also twice fell out of bed, trying to get up, and I had to call 911 for firemen to get her back into bed.)

On 21 September, urged on email by her brother, I finally gave up and called for an ambulance to take her to the local hospital (Abbott-Northwestern, about six blocks north of our house). She was diagnosed with a "massive bladder infection" and (a bit later) with a bleeding ulcer, and staff there supposedly combatted both, so that a few days later (24 September) she was transferred to the Walker Methodist Medical Center for rehab.

But after a few days at Walker, she regressed (notably in no longer being able to speak understandably) and was sent back to Abbott (28 September) for further treatment, including several days in intensive care. On 12 October, she was sent back to Walker; by this time she had a feeding tube inserted through her nose (for nutrition and medicine).

For most of the next month at Walker, she was at first mostly a comatose lump in the bed, staring at the ceiling, taking meds and food via feeding tube, with self and friends grasping at any small improvement (facial expressions, an understandable word) as a sign of progress. Slowly she got better (in spite of further setbacks including full-body spasms and constant hand trembling, both of which eventually went away).

On 26 October, she pulled the feeding tube out of her nose; she was sent back to the hospital for re-installment, but pulled the next two installments out as well.

On 27 October, staff opinion seemed to be that, since the nasal tube no longer worked, she would have to have a tube surgically implanted into her stomach. I argued that she had been displaying progress on many fronts, and that she should have a chance to see if she could start eating and taking medicine by mouth again.

For the next day, she had no meds or food. On 28 October, Nurse Practitioner Patty S.; speech therapist Kathryn (also the "swallowing expert") and I gathered in Terry's room, where Kathryn gave her ten small bites of applesauce. All of which Terry swallowed without incident.

On 29 October, a conference with the above plus Walker medical honcho Doctor Duncan resulted in decision to try to move Terry over to eating and taking meds by mouth, and also to living in the wheelchair most of the day (including all mealtimes), way up from the hour or so a day she'd been logging.

At first, Terry needed specially chopped-up food, and Kathryn or I fed her. After a while, she began feeding herself, using utensils, and she began routinely spending many hours and then most of the day in the wheelchair.

Along the way, there were moments when it appeared that the physical/occupational therapists would have to stop working with her for a while because she "wasn't making enough progress to justify the expense." The most serious threat started on 27 November when she came down with persistent cold/flu symptoms which pretty much stopped all progress for over two weeks (she spent most of her time either dozing or coughing, largely for that time uncooperative and unresponsive), but she rose to the occasion at the critical moment with the p/o therapists and managed to convince them to continue. Kathryn did stop working with her for one month for the same reason, but has since resumed and is now impressed.

In the past three or four weeks, Terry has made amazing progress. She has transitioned from needing to be hoisted out of bed into the wheelchair to using an EZ-stand machine, and it looks like she may soon be able to transfer to the wheelchair under her own power. She has managed to stand for minutes at a time and take steps using the parallel bars. She can speak clearly and fluently, is taking interest in the world and activities, and is displaying her very Terryish personality. James, one of the aides who saw Terry two-plus months ago as an inarticulate comatose lump on the bed staring at the ceiling, and who now interacts with her as a funny and snarky lady (with, admittedly, some memory issues) who makes all of the aides laugh and cheer her on (even if she does get to be a problem on sleepless nights) has twice come up to me to volunteer that he thinks he is seeing "A miracle."

I think he's right.

Terry got rather distraught from the latest retelling (and will probably forget most or all tomorrow), but for the moment is at peace with how far she has progressed (and how many people are caring about and cheering for her).

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O.K., that went on WAY longer than I expected. But aside from catching up newcomers on this site, it does represent "The Story" -- which is what I try to tell Terry (minus or plus an extra detail here or there) whenever she seems able to deal with the "what am I doing here?" question.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Karen Schaffer

Summary: Denny & Terry are fine and weren't disturbed at all by the, uh, festivities last night. But they've been warned that the riots could move into the residential neighborhoods tonight, so they are being wary. Flammables moved out of the alley, fire extinguishers handy, staying alert. Apart from that, Terry is settling in well and has even sent a test email or two.

Denny's report: We're O.K., but neighborhood watch guy was by a bit ago and says there's a rumor rioters will switch over to residential neighborhoods tonight, so everyone is on high alert. (So far as I know there was no violence/damage on our block or adjacent ones yet). Everyone encouraged to move all flammable stuff from the alley, secure gates and doors, keep fire extinguishers handy if available, add phone numbers to an alert system, and if possible stay awake for stretches of the
night. (And we'll be sleeping in our clothes.)

We didn't even hear disturbances last night, other than a police car or ambulance or two, which I heard most nights anyway. But smell of smoke was strong in the air when we got up.

Aside from fear of riots and fire (how quaint the fear of mere pandemic of a few days ago sounds now), it was a fine yesterday and a fine today, with Terry settling in, me making meals and playing
personal care attendant, and today, after a lot of swearing, managing to get Terry's new laptop to recognizing her email account. She'll need some time getting back up to speed on email and such, but did manage to send out a one-line welcome to a couple of friends just for practice.

The friendlier of the two cats is however still put out and refuses to come down from the second floor (and of course the feral cat in the basement remains a ghost).
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