Names, Pickles & Hot Dogs

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. -Isaiah 43:7-9

October 27-29/ Day 134-136

Over the weekend, Dean exercised and visited with family as he continues to verbalize his needs. He has been sitting on the edge of the bed with assistance and once he told me, "Let's go!" and "Come on!" The phrases he uses are priceless and I wish I could remember them all. Once he told me he wanted a drink and when I give him a choice he let's me know which one or tells me no. We talk about everything and his responses are getting better. Sometimes, he will just say, "I don't know or whatever you want."

On Sunday, family visited and he said the names of his siblings, nieces and nephews. He was very clear and he recognized some of their voices. He also repeated them when asked and shows consideration of others. When asked his name he will say, "Dean or spell D-E-A-N or Shenberger." When anyone greets him his response is, "Hi, How are you?" whether on the telephone or in person. He will either say, "I am fine, great, awesome, good, or not bad." He also waves goodbye along with saying, "See you later, Goodbye, Have a fun!" In the morning, he will appropriately say "Good morning or morning." He talks about time and gives specific numbers. When we ask him his age or someone's age he appropriately responds with numbers. If he doesn't know he will start guessing within range. When asked about the age of his 10 year old niece, he started out with 19, then 26, 21, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10. He actually counted down backwards until he arrived to 10 as the entire family applauded. Later on he said it correctly. Even though his vision is currently indefinite, at times he seems to recognize where certain objects are, points, or names the correct colors of objects. He named the correct color of two shirts by saying, "lavender and light blue." He is very specific with his words and phrases. No one has practiced his colors with him and he just says them. If he doesn't know, he will start naming colors and then he say, "I don't know or I can't see." I have lots of colored foam cards and felt sheets to practice his colors. I placed a felt sheet in his hand and asked him, "What color is this?". He said, "This piece of junk?" I ask him if he can see me and he will say no. In the mornings, when I set him on the edge of the bed I'll say, "Good morning" with a smile and he will smile back at me. I'll ask him to put his chin up and he follows. He also turns his head towards people talking to him and shakes their hand.

Sunday night, he told me, "I want to have fun tonight!" I asked him what he wanted to do. He wasn't sure but around 9:30pm he wanted to sit at the edge of his bed. I assisted him in doing this and it requires me holding him the entire time as he strengthens his core muscles and learns to maintain control and balance. I've also practiced standing with him in the context of asking him to stand on the count of 3 as he uses his leg muscles to rise off his seat. I can feel him trying and putting weight through his legs. He only comes about a foot or more off his chair but I remind him soon he will be walking so we keep on trying. On Monday morning around 2 am, Dean said, "I want to get out of here" while we were in the process of changing him. I just smiled in agreement and asked him, "Where do you want to go?" I always let him know I'm ready and the car is waiting for the moment he is ready to go home.

Today the speech therapist gave him a sudden drink of water after some lemon swabs and he did aspirate for the first time since taking fluids by mouth. His response reminded me of the swallow test given at Kessler on September 17 and after today it seems to be from a lack of explanation especially since it was only a small amount. He has only coughed a few times over the past several weeks for me due to a tickle in his throat and I feed him throughout the day. I always explain and describe what I am going to give him and tell him needs to slow down, chew more, swallow,  this is thinner or thicker and ask him questions. Dean and I have come to place of understanding  as I constantly study him. If I'm feeding him at a slower pace he tells me "alright or okay" for the next bite. I believe it's crucial for everything to be explained to Dean as he is relearning and remembering how to do even the simplest things of life. It's also important to explain things because his vision is unknown and he is completely dependent and trusting others to treat him right. Think about living a day without your sight and memory. His vision and memory are coming back! We thank God for all the progress Dean is making and continually put our trust in God for his complete healing!

This evening, he spent several hours sitting in his wheelchair as he played with some objects on the table. He blew a train whistle, harmonica and hammered on a block of wood. My mom got me a jar of dill pickles which are the best I've ever tasted. I thought Dean should try one and so I asked him and he bit off a small piece. His face was priceless as it depicted complete disgust. I asked him, " Do you like it?" He said, "Nasty." (It's not the first time I've heard him say this word along with "gross.") After a moment of chewing, I asked again to see if his opinion changed and he said, "It's horrible." When I transferred him back into bed he actually stood up enough that I could pivot him back into bed. I lock the wheelchair parallel to his bed and a transfer requires me to lift and turn him. 

Around 4 am, he was awake and was biting at my hand. He usually kisses my hand but there have been a few times he bites. I believe he does it out of frustration and is either hungry or needs to be changed. So he had an early morning snack of some cheese, keifer and two beef hot dogs. He always loved hot dogs and told me he could eat them everyday. I try to feed him through the night with protein shakes or other snacks as to help him gain weight and extra nutrition. We also give him 3 supplement drinks throughout the day with lots of vitamins and nutrition. He has gained almost 12 pounds since September 18 and we still have about another 12 pounds to meet his standard weight before the accident. 

I still sleep next to him in his bed and I have found he does better. I am able to tend to his needs quicker this way especially if he needs changed or is restless. He doesn't really go to sleep at night until I lay down next to him and hold his hand or lay my hand on his chest or face. I started typing this blog after I gave him his hot dog. I asked him to sleep since it was still night as I sat in the chair next to his bed. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him vigorously scratching his head where his stitches have healed. We've been working on rubbing and not digging as he has picked open several scabs on his body. I've been saying stop scratching and he says "Okay" within minutes his hand is back digging. This went on for awhile until I crawled into bed with him. Now I'm holding his right hand as he is kissing it and typing with my left hand. 


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