Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Week Begins

Dad continues to improve. He is walking more every day and is basically able to get in and out of chairs and beds on his own, which is a huge step towards independence. And how lucky that there aren't really stairs at our house! I spoke with the physical therapist, and it's not possible for them to simulate rows of grapes and plowed earth for Dad to walk on to equip him for normal life, but he said he would do his best!

His attitude continues to be great. In addition to everything else, Dad must now start getting acclimated to a machine that will help with his sleep apnea problem. Having been diagnosed with sleep apnea two years ago, getting the breathing machine, and pronounced it "smarmy" with some disdain (can't say as I blame him), now he HAS to use it. Once he gets accustomed, he should feel a lot more rested and have more energy for physical therapy. So if he seems kind of tired when you call/visit, that's part of the reason why. But, as he said with a firm voice and vigorous thrust of his left (!) fist, "I'm gonna beat that machine." Bravo, Bill! The nursing staff couldn't be more awesome. Smart, funny, attentive, caring. We're very fortunate.

As for me, I'm getting used to dealing with all the ins and outs of running Montedulce. In fact, this morning was rather nostalgic; our groundskeeper, Carlos, informed me that the pump had ceased working and we had no water (which happened all the time when I was a child, usually before a dinner party). Luckily, the problem was susceptible to an easy solution. I've also had to take some charge of my father's divorce proceedings, which is one of the more unusual aspects of my new job/life.

Thanks to all of you for your interest about the end result of the lawsuit in Texas. The short answer is that we won't likely have a decision for about a month. Post-trial briefs are due next Thursday, and then the replies to said briefs are due a week after that. So, please continue to keep the good thoughts!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Can't Keep Bill Down!

The last two days with Dad have been almost miraculous. I spent the morning with him, first at speech therapy and then at physcial therapy.

Speech therapy: he did a fantastic job with the following exercises: 1) taking random letters and rearranging them into real words; 2) adding up varied amounts of change (e.g., 4 pennies, 5 dimes, and 3 half-dollars) and telling us the total (this works on recall and higher-level cognition); and 3) doing some reading comprehension. In the latter case, he read an article about some Indian gaming and proposed changes enlarging the casino by threefold, which he had one or two opinions about, as you might guess!

Physical therapy came next, and he more or less dressed himself! He had the aid of one of those metal-and-plastic "grabbers" with the little pincer on one end. THEN he used both legs (right more than left, but still) to maneuver his wheelchair out into the hall, and then he got himself up into a walker and walked all the way down the hallway! I couldn't be more pleased with or excited about his progress, and the wonderful Dr. Neel shares my optimistic enthusiasm. Looks like Bill is on track for an August 6th discharge and return home.

Thanks again for all the good wishes, and there's no need to bring anything if you visit the hospital (please remember to check with me first), but if you do fresh fruit seems to be high on the list. Also, feel free to send any mail to the house in Kenwood as I will bring it to him daily. Onward and upward!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Update on Dad, Update on Texas Arbitration

Dad continues to improve by the day and is doing very well. When last I saw him, he could barely move his left arm and his small-hand motor skills coordination were limited. Now he seems to have close to full mobility and his motor skills are much improved. And this is only week one! His left leg continues to be the biggest weak spot and will require a lot of work for walking, transferring (getting in and out of chairs and beds), and so forth. He was so active that this is all frustrating for him, I know, but his overall attitude is good.

He is having VERY intensive therapy three times a day: physical therapy (learning how to walk again), occupation therapy (shaving, dressing, etc.), and speech therapy (in his case, actual speech is fine and so the focus will be more on memory, which has been affected by the stroke--short-term memory in particular). The main focus now is getting him well, and he tires easily and the right answer is for him to focus his energy on therapy and not on being a good host in his rehab room. Therefore, I would like to respectfully request ALL readers of the blog to check with me before making a visit. They need to be scheduled rather than drop-in. Having "too many" friends/well-wishers is a good problem to have, but let's be sure not to tire him out.

I am in California for 32 hours on a brief reprieve from the country song my life has become, entitled "I'm Gittin' Sued in Texas." I'm so relieved Dad is looking so well and feel that we have a good treatment plan in place. The bad news about the arbitration is that I spent last week listening to what a lyin', cheatin' sonuvabitch I am. The good news is, we think it went well for our side. The plaintiffs looked at best inept and at worst dishonest (both true), and we have lots of great evidence for our position that they got me into a bad real estate deal and refused honor their obligations to a) run the property well and b) pay me rent on my aparment complex. However, one never knows in these situation, so please (when you're not sending thoughts and prayers for Dad's recovery, which is by FAR the primary focus) send good thoughts and wishes that the judge will understand what really happened and decide in my favor.

Thanks again to all for your love and support!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update on Bill's Condition--We May Have Dodged a Bullet

I don't know whether it's modern medicine, the incredible prayers and support from friends, the strong iron will of William M. Schlangen, or luck (likely all of the above). But, the news from his doctors and his own improvement yesterday were very encouraging.

Sunday night, even early Monday morning, he couldn't lift his left leg. Later that morning, he could and (albeit entirely dependent on help) was able to stand up and pivot over into a chair. His speech is very good to excellent, and his strength and mobility in his left arm are returning rapidly. We are blessed to have wonderful doctors, attentive nurses, and a Memorial Office of Development staff that spoil us. The neurologist believes it was an ischemic (interruption in blood flow to the brain, likely due to a blood clot), rather than hemorrhagic (the bleeding on the brain kind), stroke, which is the kind you "want" to have. He's being treated with blood thinners (for obvious reasons) and possible medicine to prevent arterial plaque (the other major source of a blockage) from becoming dislodged. The neurologist feels that, with lots of work, a return to where he was before the stroke is possible. Hooray!

So what's next? His doctor in charge of physiology/physical recovery wanted him released to acute rehabilitation yesterday, that is, at least 5 days earlier than anticipated. This is a good thing. However, Dad spent one more night at Memorial Hospital and this morning (Tuesday the 15th) is headed over to the Fulton Road campus of Memorial Hospital for what is probably a longish slog through rehab. Basically, the brain cells that died during the stroke will be taught how to perform their functions (esp. walking) again.

My thanks go out to all our wonderful friends who are looking out for him while I am away in Texas (shall update you about that as well). If you have specific questions, I will try to respond via e-mail.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dad Had a Stroke Yesterday

I got a call from our housekeeper yesterday morning that Dad had fallen and couldn't get up. It sounded from the symptoms he was exhibiting that he had had a stroke, and indeed that was the case. The good news is that we got him to the hospital in under three hours and he is now resting reasonably comfortably at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa in the East Wing. However, he has slightly slurred speech, limited mobility in his left arm, and his left leg is currently paralyzed. As many of you know, it is often the case that these symptoms can reverse themselves relatively rapidly, and he does seem improved over yesterday, so please fashion your thoughts/prayers accordingly. The good news is that he is cogent and "there" mentally and in pretty good spirits, albeit very tired.

As many of you know, I was scheduled to head down to Texas yesterday to start my arbitration that has been looming for almost two years on Monday. At Dad's urging, and assuming the doctors don't see any reason that his currently stable condition will change, my current plan is to go there tomorrow, start the arbitration Wednesday, get the damn thing overwith and focus on getting Dad better.

I will do my best to post regular updates, and I may very likely be slow to respond to e-mails or phone calls for the next couple weeks. Thanks in advance for your forbearance, but if it's really urgent feel free to bug me and I will get back to you. And please wish us both luck!