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Eastern Europe Trip

A year of adventure and misfortune - the story of our Eastern Europe trip, the accident and subsequent recovery, and our lives up until September 2008... For the latest blog, click on Blogs in the header...

Friday, 15 February 2008


My Valentine's Day Present...

An appropriately titled blog entry, but you’ll need to read a while before we get to that, as quite a lot has happened since I last updated the blog.

In my last entry, I reported how Tracy was making excellent progress with the movement in her right hand. This has continued to the point now where, whilst the fingers are stiff when not used for a while, she can move them pretty freely and no longer needs to wear the “Freddy Kruger” glove to bend her fingers. She can now hold a cup, although she can’t then drink from it as her elbow movement is still limited. Her thumb and first finger are pretty much back to normal, and the other fingers are not too far away. All the hard work she’s been putting in to stretching them and working them almost continuously has certainly been worth it. Her shoulder has also shown further signs of increased movement, and attention has now shifted to her elbow. Up until recently this has remained pretty much locked at a 90-degree angle, but now there is a fair amount of movement both up and down and rotationally. She still has someway to go to get to her target of being able to touch her head, but she’s delighted to be able to see the palm of her hand again! In addition to the restricted movement in her elbow, she is still hampered by restricted movement in her wrist – she can’t lift her hand back from being level with her arm – but the impact of this is pretty small.

Whilst all this is great news, the news regarding her forearm is not so good. The skin graft she had way back in October has still not completely healed, and her arm is still “wet” although not through infection. The skin that looked like it was drying out on top of her arm has now broken down again, and looks very red, although it’s not sore. The specialist plastics nurse came to examine the arm a week ago and has advised that they change the dressings more frequently and wash the arm at the same time, removing any scabbed skin before redressing it. They’ll be looking at it again next Wednesday to see how it has progressed, but if it doesn’t start improving soon she’ll have to undergo another skin graft, which is something she was hoping to avoid.

But that’s not the most significant thing that’s happened in the last few weeks. On 1st February we had the “full team” review with all of Tracy’s care team present. Listening to them describe her progress was extremely reassuring. The doctors, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and nursing staff we all very positive about how she’s been doing and all complemented her on her attitude and effort. When I asked about what she would need to be able to do before she could be discharged and come home, we were told that they would only discharge her when she no longer needed medical care (such as is being done on her arm) and when she’s been able to walk unaided. However, they said that it was likely she’d be transferred to another hospital (Rochdale) and into a non-medical rehabilitation unit where she could continue her care. This did not go down well, as Tracy is determined that when she is able to, she’ll walk out of Hope Hospital and come home for good – able to look after herself and not being reliant on external support. We'll have to wait and see who wins that battle... (my money, as always, is on Tracy!)

Then, in the afternoon, I was able to watch her in one of her physio sessions… and one in which she was working on standing up!

Tracy standing without a back brace, but still with help…

It was really fantastic to see her standing again, even if she needed a little help from her physio and occupational therapist. Since then, she’s been working on building up her strength and control over her leg muscles, and is making excellent progress. Which brings me on to my Valentine’s present. It was a text message from Tracy announcing that she “has been stood up, unaided, and taken 10 steps!” – the steps were with a little support, but she’s walking again! That evening when we visited the hospital we took Tracy, in her wheelchair, down to the Plaza (a small shopping centre in the hospital) and when it came to get her back into bed, she stood up out of the chair with only a little help from me… and as I went to help her manoeuvre herself round to sit on the bed we had our first cuddle for over 5 months!! Quite some Valentines’ Day gift…

We’re now optimistic that she’ll be able to come home in time for Easter, so we’ll be able to combine our Christmas and Easter celebrations!

As for other news, I’ve managed to recover from the chest infection I mentioned last time, and now have an ear infection instead! This is a lot more painful, and is driving me nuts. I went to see the doctor this morning and he’s put me on some strong anti-biotics and told me to take plenty of pain killers, so once again I’m under doctor’s orders.

I have had some good news, though, as my company car came up for renewal recently and my new one, a BMW 120i SE, was delivered to me with just 3 miles on the clock! What, with ordering a new fridge to replace the old one that has stopped working, and having painted the kitchen ceiling since Tracy went into hospital, when she finally does come home, things are going to be quite different!!

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