So, what has happened in the past year....there is so much to tell that I don't know where to start. Our lives have changed in so many ways. The most joyful change was the birth of our beautiful grand daughter, Isabella Anne. She was born last July and we were so fortunate to be there for the birth. We drove our motorhome from AZ to WA and spent the summer camped along the Snoqualmie River. Denny was so happy to be outdoors for the entire summer. He amazed me with all he accomplished. Internet access was poor at best and thus began my drifting from being so active on Stroke Net. We had campfires most evenings, ate a TON of wonderful fish and the dogs and I explored the river daily. Of course, much of our time was spent enjoying Isabella and helping Carrie. I was delighted to find the blackberries all along the river and did my best to pick them every day. The dogs loved them too and would bite them right off the bushes. We had blackberry cobbler often and in spite of all my walking, I think I gained several pounds. I even made balckberry jam - my first time!
After labor day we drove home down the Oregon coast and camped along the way. It was so nice to be traveling again. Then it was back to reality and the heat of Phoenix. My daughter and her husband moved back to Scottsdale in August so coming home was not as difficult as it could have been if they had chosen to stay in WA. They live within a short bike ride of our house and we get to see them often.
Once we were home, I began the plans to purchase Denny's custom made trike. It came from Germany and was made just for him with all the controls on one side and a special calf support for his weak leg. It was a surprise and was supposed to be for his birthday. We made plans to go to California to pick it up and I told him we were going to celebrate our birthdays and enjoy the ocean. We were in the car and not quite out of town when I received a call that my father was very ill and they suspected he might not make it through the day. So we turned the car around and heading to his care home. He was in septic shock from poor cathater care and a severe bladder infection. I won't go through all the details, but suffice it to say, Dad was sent directly to the ER and never went back to that place again. He is amazing and recovered well. I can't beileve he is 90 years old and so strong. He has not had one incident since he was moved to a new facility.
Once we knew Dad was going to be ok, we planned our trip again. It rained the entire time we were there. I was lucky to get us a room right on the ocean WITH a fire place. So we ordered room service, watched the waves and just enjoyed our evening and days. On the day we went to get the bike, I told Denny I just felt like taking a drive. The bike shop knew we were coming and had the bike sitting outside with a big red bow and a sign on it that said Happy Birthday Denny! He was so excited! He took off in the parking lot and I was afraid we wouldn't see him again.
When we got home it was raining again and he couldn't ride for several days. Finally the sun came out and he got to ride. After making sure he had his cell phone, plenty of water and some snacks, I kissed him goodbye. Mind you, this is the first time in nearly 2 years this man, who up until his stroke rode his bike or ran every day, was on his own and making his own decisions on where to go and when to come back. After about an hour, I saw him sitting on his bike at the curb. He called me on my cell phone and told me he was going to ride some more. I was so happy for him. When he came home an hour later, he was SO tired. I asked him how it was. With the biggest smile I have seen in a long time, he said, "FREEDOM.! YES!"
This bike has been better than any therapy or medicine. He is riding all over. He is using the time on his rides to take photos for his blog about traffic and bike saftey. His blog is pretty neat - and his vocabulary is growing each day. He is mentally and physically stronger than ever. I am so thankful.
The other big change is I took a full time job. I ended up closing my consulting business due to the fact that I couldn't travel and leave Denny home alone. The cost of private health insurance was killing us - we were spending over $20K just on insurance, deductibles and copays. So I started to look for work. God smiled on us again. A friend of mine was at our annual Christmas Eve party and had just started a new job earlier in the year. I asked her about her job and told her I was thinking about going back to work. She stopped dead in her tracks and said, "I think we have a job that would be great for you." But, they were not going to fill the position until May. I didn't think much of it, but told her to keep me in mind. Meanwhile I started working on my resume. About three weeks later she called and asked me to send in the resume. Long story short - I was hired and started work on Feb.18. I was so worried about Denny and afraid that he would get depressed or bored if I was gone all day. We made plans for him to go to a couple support groups and tried to schedule some routine tasks around the house so he had something to do every day. I don't know why I was worried - he has jumped again in growth. Not only does he find plenty to fill his days, he has started cleaning the house!!! Yes, ladies - even the bathrooms. He knows how much I love clean sheets - so every Friday, he strips the bed, washes the sheets and remakes the bed. Granted, sometimes the sheets are on the wrong way, but they are clean! I don't know how he gets all those pillow cases on with one hand, but he does it.
The Denny who always loved taking care of me, the one I thought I lost to the stroke, is coming back day by day. He is still the romantic he once was. For valetine's day, he rode his bike to the store and bought me flowers, champagne, strawberries and chocolate to dip them in. For our anniversay, he had the champagne in a bucket of ice and sitting next to the tub, candles lit and music playing when I got home from work.
So what's next? Denny is still part owner in a river rafting company. So, we have plans to go white water rafting next week with our kids. It will be our first time on the river since the stroke. Denny won't be able to run the boat like he used to, but one of his partners is going to come along and captain the boat for us. We are really excited to go. I will be sure to post some photos.
Thank you again to all my dear friends here who cared enough to keep in touch. I hope this novel didn't bore you. For those of you who don't know us, maybe this post will encourage you if you read my earlier blogs and see just how far we have come in Denny's survival. Don't give up hope, it really can and does get better.
I posted some photos in our gallery of his new bike and of beautiful Isabella.