So......... it's been a long time! WAY too long!! To be fair, I have a good excuse. The internet was down at the hospital because they were doing construction. And we've been BUSY! Michael has actually been getting on to me for not updating lately!! The good news is that's how well he is doing!! He can actually check the blog and get onto me for not doing it. I suppose that's a good thing. ;)
Anyway, back to the story. Michael continued to progress with his daily therapies. He got off the ventilator with no issues at all. His numbers remained incredible, and we haven't looked back. He also got this little cap that allowed him to talk and start eating food. That was a huge improvement. His first real meal was soft tacos and he was so excited even though he could only eat 1 taco. Then, one morning I came in to ICU as usual, and there was some stranger in his bed!! I just stood in the door and stared. There was a woman in there, and she asked if she could help me. I just stood there and shook my head because I wasn't sure what to do. I finally found a nurse that we were familiar with and asked where he had gone. Turns out, they got 5 new ventilator patients during the night and decided it was time to move him to the regular floor. By the time I found him on the 5th floor in the Senior Specialty Unit (that's the only open room they had at the time), he was a wreck. He did not like that they moved him in the middle of the night with no one there. They were supposed to call me, but they did not. He was uprooted at midnight, and he just didn't like it! After I got there, he calmed down some. Turns out, he liked his new room, and he did well there.
After he mastered sitting on the side of the bed, they moved on to standing. That was harder as his legs were just not coming back as fast as his arms. He struggled with that for about a week or so before they realized he was actually using the wrong muscles. He had been cheating with some of his movements by using his trunk muscles instead of his extremity muscles. Once they realized that, they could target the right muscles, and he started to progress again. They had also skipped a step in the standing process because he had been moving so quickly. But they decided to go back and add that step in too. He was strapped to a table (called a tilt table) that raised all the way up so he was standing, but it was supporting him. This allowed him to feel what it was like to stand again and let his muscles realize what they needed to do. He could practice walking by moving his knees back and forth while he was upright. He only had to do this for 2 days before it all started kicking in, and he was able to stand. They also started getting him into the wheelchair to work his arms and get him mobile again. Then, next thing you know, he was walking!! Just a few steps with a walker, but that's a start!
Since everything else was going so well and he was progressing so quickly, they also started removing all his extraneous tubes & wires. First, he got his catheter out. There was really no reason for it anymore. Then, they changed his trach to a new smaller one with a solid cap on it. If he tolerated this one well, he could get it out soon. He did fine with it and said it felt great. He passed his swallow study and was advanced to a regular diet with no restrictions. Then, they decided to take the trach out for good. They also finally took out his feeding tube but not without some persistent complaining about it. With him all this new-found freedom, they started talking about moving him to the rehab hospital during the week of Thanksgiving. We finally talked them into waiting until the next week because he wouldn't get much therapy during the holiday weekend. So he finally made the move on Wednesday, November 30th. By the time he left the hospital, he had walked 80 feet in one stretch with his walker!!
He has now been at the rehab hospital for 1 full week. He gets at least 3 hours of therapy every day but Sunday. He loves his main therapists, and they are doing great things with him. He's learning so much and becoming so strong and more independent. He can now walk over 300 feet at a time with his walker and only someone to supervise him. I can assist him from his bed to his wheelchair and to the bathroom now. He really just needs me to steady him because he is still a little wobbly at first. He's doing so well that both the doctor and the physical therapist have granted him furlough this weekend to go eat dinner with me for my birthday. It will be the best birthday present ever!!