After arriving in Utah, the string of appointments began. My dad needed to get established with new care-providers to continue his recovery. I spent a while looking through his provider directory and mapping things out in relation to my home. I was concerned about location because I knew I needed to balance the needs of my kids with the needs of my dad the best I could, so I was hoping for things close to home.
Within days of our return, we met with Dr. Ling. She would be my dad's primary care provider and help to manage his stroke recovery as well as his diabetes, blood pressure, and other health problems. At our first appointment I tried to explain my desire for home health as I still had a newborn and thought it would be helpful so I wasn't spread so thin. I envisioned a physical therapist coming to work with him in his own environment, along with a nurse to help monitor him occasionally. She thought it was good for my dad to get out of the house and denied my request. I should have realized that this would be the beginning of negligent care as our questions and needs seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Because home health was no longer an option without doctor's orders, we met with a physical therapist, a kind, practical man named Jerry. Over the coming months, he worked with my dad to improve his balance, mobility, and strength. Gradually his appointments lessened from three times a week to twice a week to just weekly until sometime that summer Jerry told me he felt that we'd probably come to the end of the road with physical therapy. Any progress that would continue would be more of a blessing than something we could expect.
After getting into a routine with doctor's appointments and physical therapy, we added speech therapy to the mix. The problem was that the only speech therapist in the provider directory was about 30 minutes away, but we decided it was worth a try. It only took a few visits with the young, curly-haired hippy before we realized that this therapist was lacking the experience and skills necessary to help my dad.
It was difficult to watch my dad try to improve. In the beginning we were so diligent about his stretches and exercises. We'd sit at the dining room table as he would stack cups or put quarters into cups or reach items that we'd place barely out of reach. I bought hand weights and ankle weights and balls and puzzle books and mirrors and anything that anyone seemed to suggest may help. We kept a crazy pace going to appointments 3-6 times a week. My in-laws and kind friends helped watch my kids as I figured out which appointments I could bring them to and which ones they couldn't attend without being too disruptive. As we got more relaxed about helping him to do his exercises, I gained a lot of guilt about any lack of progress. I was sure it was my fault because we weren't helping as much as we should. We really did see a lot of progress until the first weekend in April. Then everything started over.
In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better. You can find all posts in this series under the label "the dad story". I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience. If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.