posted by Mary Lello, Sunday, November 15, 2009, 4:45 AM
"Jim-nasium" is the term Jerry Sanders has come up with for our living room. To fill everyone in, Jerry along with our friend Steve, have turned our living room into a rehabilitation center now. The magic is if you walk into this living space you don't see it. There is a treadmill in one corner that folds up out of the way pretty nicely. Over this treadmill is a pulley system that attaches to a climbing harness that Jim wears while on the treadmill. This is arranged perfectly so that there is a tension on Jim that keeps him safe if he should trip while on the treadmill he won't actually fall down but rather sit dangling from his harness .
There is another set of hooks in another spot. A massage table is set up under these hooks. Jim lies on the table and we put his ankles through these padded stirrups that are attached to climbing ropes that hook into the hardware in the beams over the table. This allows a person to swing Jims' legs easily, to get his hips rocking and swinging in order to relax his whole pelvic girdle.
Jerry and Steve have made a video of all these different exercises so anyone can see how to do it with him. One of my favorites is the 'rowing' exercise. Jerry has Jim hold 2 longish, light weight, plastic bars - one in each hand - and Jerry holds the other end of these bars. Then Jerry starts a rowing motion with Jim to get his right arm moving .... and the 2 of them will sing "row, row, row your boat" in an exaggerated opera - very manly - style! Very fun!
Singing uses both sides of the brain so a person can sing when they can't talk. I witnessed this one day while Jim and I were out for a drive. He has been using "preservative language" which is a phrase or word that the brain seems to resort to when he can't find the word or phrase he REALLY means to say. For Jim that phrase is "how long...." This is NOT what he wants to say, nor is he always asking a question about time but it may be the only phrase that will come out - much to his frustration (and mine).
On this drive we took Jim was stuck on the "how long ..." phrase so I started to help him remember some other ways to start a question - "how old", "how many", "how much". With the "how much" I launched into that children's song "how much is that doggie in the window" ... and Jim started to sing it with me pronouncing all the words almost perfectly! WOW! So we tried another song "Jingle bells" .... WOW, WOW! It's true - he can sing close to perfect even when he can't speak. So I've told him he should just launch into his own little opera when he needs to say something!
I don't think it works this way though.
Some good news - as I feel we ALL need some of this! - I think Jim's speech is improving a little bit. There is still a huge struggle but he is NOT saying "how long.." nearly as much. Friday he looked at me and said "I want to talk to you" perfectly. It was a very emotional sentence because he and I really miss being able to talk with each other, but I was cheering with that perfect sentence being said! And at times he'll just talk ... I might not be able to understand what he said as his words are jibberish since his tongue isn't working so well but his mind is working in complete sentences and in his mind those words are THERE! I've told him, just talk, just go for it, who cares if I can't understand it? Just let it rip through your mind and connect to your tongue because eventually, someday soon, it's going to start coming out so that we all can understand you!
I think the steroids are doing their job is what I'm saying here. As much as I hate them - they are a good right now.
This gray morning I will go into the hospital to see my friend, to offer support to her with my love as it's all I can give her right now.
But it's enough,