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Monday Update: 06/19/06

Well, we had ourselves a good first weekend. Matt and I ventured out on Saturday to Wal-Mart to get a few things for his room. We hung up some of his favorite Pontiac signs and some other things I had brought from home…making his room feel a little bit more like his space. That night we went out to dinner and a movie…it was our first time out to a movie in a long time! We enjoyed the time alone together and also doing something that we always loved…going to a movie. Sunday was another low-key day, spent hanging out with his family.

Today’s meeting with the staff that will be working with Matt went really well. They all went over their individual assessments of Matt’s abilities and their plan of action. It was really, really helpful for us to gain insight into how they all work together, incorporating all aspects of his therapy together. They talked about how the various therapy techniques and strategies will be applied in everyday activities. For example, the speech therapist will outline what things she wants Matt to work on with his speech. Those things will then be communicated to all the other therapists as well as the staff in his house, so that they can help him continue to work on them in all different settings. They will work on his speech in various places/situations; like outings and trips to the store where he will need to communicate with others, in classes with other residents where they discuss different topics, as well as communicating his needs etc to the people who work in the house. It will be good for him to keep focus on the speech skills he needs to work on in all different kinds of settings, not just in a structured therapy session.

They also explained that the physical therapist and occupational therapist will be working together with Matt. The PT will focus more on strengthening his legs and balance, while the OT will focus more on his upper body and coordination with his hands. They will work on adding in more walking throughout the day, to the bathroom and to meals etc…as well as working on having him transfer independently so he can wheel himself to and from the bathroom and meals on his own at times too. I think it’s going to take a while to find the right balance between Matt doing thing independently and challenging him to work on other things. We both feel good that he is working on getting around the house there by himself, but we don’t want him to be too dependent on the wheelchair. Obviously wheeling himself around the house here at home won’t get him very far. He could get in the kitchen and fix himself a snack, but getting in and out of the bathroom is still going to require some walking. So…we’ll just see how things go and take it step by step. Matt will also be attending several different group classes on various subjects; life after an injury, assertiveness, and self esteem. The other people in these classes will be more on Matt’s functional level, so the conversations and dialogue should be more engaging and appropriate for Matt. He was worried that he wouldn’t really get an opportunity to talk with and get to know more people with his level of cognitive function – there doesn’t seem to be too many people there with brain injuries like Matt. Most of the others with brain injuries have more cognitive issues to overcome, whereas Matt’s issues are more physical and deal with motor skills. I know he was really struggling with trying to find how he fits in there…and now hopefully he is on the right track. It was reassuring for him to hear the professionals discuss his capabilities and acknowledge his intellectual strengths. Matt knows he’s all there, and we know it too…but it was very good to hear it from the professionals as well.

Apparently there are 3 guys there who have classic cars, and a real interest in them. So, the rec department is going to see about getting them together and going out to various car/cruise nights there in Omaha. It would be great for Matt to hang out with fellow gear heads and enjoy some good, quality shop talk! There is also the fishing group we went out with last week, and a group that goes golfing. They really try and give people a chance to be involved in things that they’ve always enjoyed. I hope Matt can find some common ground with a few people and enjoy some of these types of activities.

Matt is very motivated to get going on his rehab there in Omaha, and now that we know everyone is on the same page, I think he’ll be more able to deal with the emotional drawbacks of being so far from home. It has been hard to be apart…and I’m sure this week it will really hit us both. I was so happy I could spend those first 3 days with Matt. I didn’t worry about work, the house, the dogs, or anything…I just focused 100% of myself on Matt…and it was wonderful. I wish I could be there with him all the time. I wanted him to know how invested I am in his recovery…and how much I believe in him. I look forward to spending time with him every weekend…and hoping that with each visit I see more and more glimpses of my Matt.

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