Jeff has made great strides today . . . literally! His left arm is beginning to work and I have a feeling his leg is not far behind. He can move his fingers on his left hand and by 6:00 p.m. this evening, he could lift his arm high enough to push his glasses up on his nose. It was awesome to see!
Yesterday, Jeff was officially discharged from the neurology floor and admitted to the hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation floor where they expect he will recover for the next couple of weeks. He will undergo intensive physical and occupational therapy. Who knew that the hospital would give Jeff job training in a career of his choice! What? Oh. Jeff says that’s not what occupational therapy is all about. He says occupational therapy is intended to teach him how to live independently. At occupational therapy they help him re-learn how to put on his socks and brush his teeth. Wow, if that’s all you need to know to be independent, then Jack and Regan should either find an apartment or pay me rent. Freeloaders!
Jeff’s recovery will be a full-time job: he has occupational therapy at 9:00 a.m.; physical therapy at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.; and speech therapy at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Jeff’s speech is actually unaffected by the brain surgery, but they want to do a couple of sessions with him to make sure he hasn’t lost any cognitive function. He told me that the speech therapy was actually pretty intense. He had to remember a list of several random numbers and recite them back to the therapist in order from smallest to largest and simultaneously remember to tell the therapist in five minutes what the months of the year are alternating backwards from December. Then he had to order Chinese food with a French accent and do an imitation of Elmer Fudd with a lisp. (Just kidding). The therapist was impressed with Jeff’s extremely high level of mental function and said what a pleasure it was to work with someone so advanced. I tried a few of the tests and based upon the results, I am either a 6 year-old or I have Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Mueller continues to manage Jeff’s care. He shared the results of Jeff’s DTI-MRI today and he told Jeff that it showed no evidence of melanoma where he removed the tumor, so he was confident that he got everything. Once Dr. Mueller signs-off on Jeff’s surgery and removes his staples, he will be discharged to the care of his radiologist-oncologist for Gamma Knife radiation on the remaining small tumor and Whole Brain Radiation. Dr. Legha will also determine whether he wants Jeff to simultaneously start some chemotherapy to complement the radiation treatments. The Gamma Knife surgery will likely be done while Jeff is still an inpatient at the hospital. However, the Whole Brain Radiation will not likely start for another couple of weeks. They have to wait until his scar has healed from surgery and until the Gamma Knife surgery is complete. We are so thankful that Jeff is in Milwaukee for these treatments and does not have to travel to Houston. It has been so wonderful to be close to the kids and my job. It has also been great to be in such proximity to the support of so many friends and family members.
So, today has been a good day. Jeff can partially use his arm again which is very encouraging and exciting. The difference between today and yesterday is almost immeasurable. Yesterday, Jeff was largely immobile, frustrated and discouraged. Today, he is wearing his own clothes, he has been out of bed and active all day, and is joking and talking light-heartedly with the nursing staff and visitors. I can’t wait to see what improvement tomorrow brings!
A personal addendum from Jeff: much has been made in recent days about the voluminous mane of chest hair I exhibited in the picture with Aubrey (below). Unfortunately, three months of biochemo could not tame the beast. But I take hope in the knowledge that manly chest hair will one day make a comeback, along with mustaches, Camaros, and white leather belts. Just you wait and see.