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Tuesday Update: 06/13/06

We have a few minutes in between things this afternoon, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to jot down a few notes on how things have been going so far here in Omaha. The past few days have been a jumble of meetings, assessments, and general ‘get acquainted’ type activities. I think both of our heads are still spinning. The time is flying by…and we are both starting to think about my leaving tomorrow night. No doubt we both have mixed emotions about that. Yesterday I had a hard time even thinking about letting go and trusting others to look after and care for Matt…but today that uneasiness is starting to subside somewhat. The more we get to know the staff, the more at ease we both feel. There are so many people who have worked here for several years who will be working closely with Matt on his day to day activities. It is good to see such compassionate and caring people working here…that is so important to us.

Most of this week will be spent meeting with the various departments as they assess Matt’s skills and functions and talk about what he wants out of his time here. It will be so good for Matt to work even harder than he already has been on certain things. They’ve installed a transfer pole beside his bed which he can use to get from his chair to the bed and visa versa with ease. He can also use the pole to stand up and get dressed. (We teased him that he’ll have to work up to dancing with it!) Matt also has a private bathroom that is big enough for him to wheel around in! It’s great for him to wheel up to a mirror and work on shaving, brushing his teeth etc…but we talked with his Occupational Therapist today about working on doing those things while standing. It will be even better for him to be able to do that! We did some of that at home, but time was always an issue. Here, they will allow time for him to do it…which will be GREAT!

There are folks here with all kinds of injuries and disabilities. It is quite humbling. Matt has been emotional at times, talking about the extent of others’ disabilities, as he reflects on his own. Though I try to explain to Matt that there are major differences in the types of injuries here, he can’t help but compare himself. On one hand, it makes him so grateful that he has come as far as he has…on the other, it forces him to take a hard look at his own limitations and uncertain future. He admits to romanticizing about his life prior to the hemorrhage. He thinks he was a pretty big ‘stud’ before…and while he jokes about it, his heart aches to have that old life and persona back. He looks at pictures of us and says he ‘misses that guy’. I just tell him that I believe he will recapture so much of his old self again…in time. It is so hard to see down the road, but I hope he continues to stay strong and focused on his goals. I just know he is capable of so much and has the potential to inspire so many people. I wish he could somehow grasp how much I truly admire him…and how much I love him. I know he has times when he fears that my love will somehow change or buckle under the enormous pressures of dealing with this situation…when in actuality, my love continues to grow stronger. This experience has brought out the best qualities in Matt. How can I not acknowledge them with love and admiration? I look around and I know that his time here will be quite challenging both in a traditional rehabilitation sense, but also emotionally. I think here is where he will have the chance to work on acceptance and optimism. He can only benefit from being here…and in so many ways. I believe the sky is the limit on what Matt can attain, and I am so thankful that he has this opportunity.

I guess I should try and describe the facility more. Matt is a part of the main campus, in a house with 7 other residents. Each house is staffed with several people…a nurse, a counselor, and various assistants. They each partner together to help the residents with their day to day functions, getting around to their therapies, preparing and eating meals, etc. There are at least a few people in the house 24 hours a day, so if Matt needs something in the night, there is someone to help. The nurse is going to set up Matt’s medications here in his room, so he can control when he takes them on his own. Matt’s OT is going to work on getting him in the kitchen to prepare his own breakfast soon! We thought this would be the easiest meal to start with. He will also be working on cleaning his own room and doing his own laundry in time. Now that, he’s excited about!!

Matt’s daily schedule will be pretty full most days with therapies and various activities. They will be setting up his regular schedule beginning on Thursday…then we’ll have more of an idea how his days will go. Weekends are usually more laid back, and they will be good for visitors. They will also allow Matt to come and go from campus during visits. So if I want to take him out to dinner sometime, or to the zoo, or something I can. That freedom is wonderful! I didn’t want him to feel like he was forced to be here all the time.

They also have groups of people with similar hobbies that do things together on a regular basis. They have a group which goes fishing once a week and they have invited Matt to go tomorrow. So tomorrow morning we’re going to load up and go with them to a park near by and do some fishing. It will be a good chance for Matt to meet some other residents, and to enjoy some time outdoors. He was a little unsure about whether or not he wanted to go, but ultimately decided go out of his comfort zone and give it a shot! Tonight they are showing a movie over in the rec center, so after supper we’re going to head up there and check it out. They have a big movie screen to show movies on. Should be a good time!

Matt’s address here will be:
Matt Karwoski
6321 N. 70th Plaza
Omaha, NE 68104
Feel free to send letters and notes, I’m sure he’d love that! I will write more soon…


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