28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Happy 8 weeks since the accident occurred! Thank you for reading, loving, and encouraging us along for 8 weeks. I cannot believe how quickly these weeks have gone and also how much can change for the better and also for the worst. Obviously 8.1 weeks ago, life was "normal". I just came home from buying an overpriced jean jacket that Derek gave me a hard time about. We watched a couple of episodes of Friends while playing Yahtzee. Derek was on the Military Diet, so he had a hard boiled egg and 3 oz of grilled chicken for dinner. We made plans for that weekend which included heading to the golf course for the first time this summer. And then, BAM (literally). Life changed directions and here we are in Chicago, moved out of our favorite place, and sleeping in separate locations. I've eaten more deep dish pizza than I share to admit and Derek laughs more frequently at my jokes. Our days and weeks have started to smear into one giant hospital stay. Weekends are strange because there really is no "weekend" but nor is there 12 hour work shifts. As they were checking Derek's mental capacity last week, they asked him what day of the month it was...and we both had no idea!
He has really shown some really great improvements over the past week. They have started to measure his strength through a squeeze test and also a few hand maneuverability tests. We saw his strength points go up by at least 10 in this week alone. The average strength squeeze for a guy his age is about 100 in the left hand. Derek's is 12. As you can see, he has a long way to go in order to regain his strength but we have no doubt he will get there! His right squeeze is more in the 80's now.
The other big goal has been to help him regulate his blood pressure. You know the feeling when you stand up too fast and get light headed? Well when you sit as long as Derek has, those little blood vessels get lazy and don't push the blood up to help with dizziness. Since he has lazy blood vessels, they have started working with Derek on a tilt table and a standing chair. The tilt table is basically a long board which they strap him too and then raise him up to a standing degree. They have to do this slowly to ensure he doesn't pass out. We have been working with the tilt table for the past week and they have recently upgraded him to the standing chair!
The standing chair has the same concept (get that blood pumping & don't pass out) but it is easier to operate and mimic's standing a bit more. I will admit, the first time he was in the standing chair I felt like someone punched me in the gut. I was so emotional seeing him up and be able to have his arms around me in an ALMOST hug. We would like to get a standing chair once we move home to help him keep that progress going. I will say, this by no means is a sign of him walking again but it certainly doesn't hurt!
As many of you know, he was chosen to do the Exo-Skeleton research project. He has to be able to withstand the standing chair for a certain amount of time before they will put him into the exo- skeleton suit. Once you are in the suit, you are very much strapped in and it would be hard to get him down to the floor and in a safe place if he was to pass out. He should start the skeleton suit next week!
Emotionally, things have been going as you can probably expect. We have our great hours and our bad hours. We get super encouraged and then very discouraged. Overall, I have been incredibly impressed with Derek's attitude during this process and can only pray that as things continue to move in a positive direction, he will only continue to feel more encouraged. We have started to see a counselor that is here on staff and we are hopeful that discussing the last 8 weeks will help us move forward.
No funny stories or tragic mishaps. His heart rate continues to be very high and they are keeping an eye on it. Please also be praying for our next roommate. Derek's current roommate heads back to the real world on Monday and we are very bummed. I have actually threatened to trip Ryan just so he will stay with us a few more weeks. Really praying we get someone just as great!
PS. We met with our Recreation Therapists and have been able to some really fun things! Tonight? Derek is heading to a driving range to learn how to golf in a handicap accessible golf chair! Don't worry, I will take pictures.