Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We're so glad when Daddy comes home!

Today was full of preparation for Chris' homecoming this Friday.  Yes, you heard right!   This Friday!  Yeah!  He is so excited to be out of the hospital and back home with the kids.  

Lots of cool things that happened today.  
1. He was able to briefly control a muscle on his right forearm
2. He had a sensation in his ankle (once again, briefly, but we are thrilled nonetheless)
3. He got to play fetch with a service dog and take him on a walk (And swears he walks better with the dog.  Nice try, Chris.  No more dogs at the Kang house for a while.)
4. Chris had a visit with a man who had a stroke about 3 years ago.  We got to talk with him for a while and just see a live case study.  He has fully recovered and remembers being in Chris' shoes not too long ago.
5. I got to see Chris walk with and without his cane.  He actually gets a little bit of speed, but I am still worried that he will fall every time I see his leg start to buckle.  Please, no falling.
6. The Dr. told Chris that he should be able to drive an automatic in a month or two.  This is good news, but it doesn't get rid of that little problem of a stick that Chris bought a week before his stroke.

I think there were other things that went on, but I really can't remember at this point.  Brain dead.  Maybe tomorrow I will remember and update with any additional cool things that come to me.  Tomorrow a bunch of guys from our church are coming over to help get Chris' room ready downstairs.  Thank you, muscles.  I don't think I could carry all of that scrapbooking stuff upstairs.  Yes, Chris had the nerve to take over my scrapbooking room. :)  He says that this stroke was all part of his plan to make sure I didn't have a "crap" room. (His nickname for my craft room)  I guess I'll forgive him.  Just this time.   Only because I am so dang happy that he is alive.

Reflections on Faith

I am rushing off this morning to see Chris walk.  Because they are very careful with their patients and don't allow any "practicing" outside of PT, I haven't seen Chris walk in a few days.  He always does it in his early morning PT and I am normally there around 11.  Rumor has it that his speed has increased big time and that he can walk without his cane pretty well.  Can't wait to see it! I'll let you know how it goes today.

Reflections on Faith: I have always wondered if I am lacking faith.  I have a firm belief that God's will is not always my will, thus faith alone does not mean that all will go my way.  I hear these people that firmly believe that they can pray for any result and it will come and it has always made me feel like I lack faith.  It has always been this inner dilemma for me.  Part of me feels like I am right and then the other part has always wondered if I am just lacking in faith.  

On Sunday, they sang a song that put me at peace with my faith.  It is called "When Faith Endures" and I found it perfectly summing up how I have felt since Chris' stroke.  
I will not doubt, I will not fear;
God's love and strength are always near. 
His promised gift helps me to find 
An inner strength and peace of mind.
I give the Father willingly
My trust, my prayers, humility.
His spirit guides; his love assures
That fear departs when faith endures

So here I felt like I lacked faith because I don't necessarily believe that Chris will get back to 100% just because I want him to, but this song describes exactly how I have felt.  I feel this overwhelming peace of mind and know that whatever does come of this, we will be ok.   Faith is what has been my saving grace this past 2 weeks.  

Monday, September 29, 2008

The finger is back!

Right after Chris' stroke, he could very slightly move one finger.  Within a week, that movement went away.  Yesterday, he found that if he has his right arm across his body, he is able to move that finger again.  Yeah!  It seems easier to think the other fingers will regain movement if there is that small glimmer of hope.  

Last night we went to see Chris with all of the girls.  I felt like we were at home again with everyone being together again.  Elise found that she really likes to sit on Daddy's lap in his wheelchair.  We went to take Chris on a walk and she refused to put on her shoes, saying "No, Daddy lala!" (Lala is Elise's strange way of saying sit)  So she rode on his lap. (I am still wondering if that is against all of those hospital rules.  We'll probably find out next time we do it.)  This was great because she has been a little aprehensive about interacting with Chris at the hospital.  She is normally stuck to daddy like glue, so I think this has been a little hard for Chris to swallow.  It was nice for Chris.  Thanks, Elise.

My sister, Lia, came to help with the girls this week.  I think it should be a pretty easy job for her (relatively) because she brought play friends for each of the kids.  Elise saw her cousin, James, and immediately got on the floor and started barking like a dog.  I am off to take the girls to piano, buy Chris a bed for downstairs and then head off to the hospital for the day.  

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our attempt at picking apples

During the weekend, Chris has a lighter rehab schedule, so I sensed a slight boredom setting in yesterday.  I suspected it was coming a few days ago when he was so excited to go on a walk through the hospital, but yesterday it seemed a little more severe.  I am hoping that getting his laptop out helped a little, but it can't be fun being stuck in the hospital for so stinking long!  Thank you to all of those visitors that help break up his day a little.  Tonight all of the girls are going up there, so he might be wishing for a little more boredom pretty soon.  

Physically, nothing has changed.  One day, he is going to go to move his fingers and they will actually move.  Just wait. Soon. :)

While Chris' dad was here, Chris really wanted us to go apple picking with the girls.  He kicked us all out of the hospital telling us to take the girls to a place we picked apples at a few years ago.  After packing up all of the girls, we discover that our beloved apple farm doesn't do u-pick anymore, so we were stuck with picking our apples from boxes instead of trees.  As a bit of a consolation prize, the owner let the girls feed the goats.  This seemed to even things out for the girls, especially when they figured out that the goats liked weeds more than goat feed.  

Elise: Look! Daddy goat!
Me: Nope.  That is a llama.
Elise: Mama goat?
Me: Nope. Llama.  Mommy llama.
Elise: Mama goat? 
Me: Yep. :)
Yes, my kids like making silly faces for the camera.  Where's Lilly? Sleeping.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Who will crawl first?

As part of Chris'  PT (physical therapy) they are having him learn how to crawl.  Easy for you and me, but not so easy for him.  He was able to balance on all fours today, but maybe tomorrow he will get farther.  Lilly is scooting like nothing else, but we will have to see if she can beat daddy to crawling.  And walking?  The race is on. :)

On a little bit of the fascinating side of a stroke, we figured out that Chris' english requires a lot more thinking (for saying the words) than his Korean does.  He still thinks in English, but forming the words takes a little more effort.  He did learn Korean first, but he has spoken Korean with a bit of an English accent for a while.  Strange stuff.

We are venturing on our own this weekend as my mom and Rachel are visiting their patient families back in Seattle.  Chris' mom and I are just going to trade off at the hospital, which might have Chris sighing in relief.  Only one person to make sure he is doing his exercises and eating right.  

Basic Progression: More shoulder control and strength, better walking with a brace, no ankle movement, no lower arm/hand movement, better independence in dressing and what not, improvement on speech

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quick Update

This will be quick.  I just got Lilly to sleep and want to get there myself.  Tired. 

There wasn't any more ankle movement today, but Chris' shoulder was strong enough to lift up the right arm in a "healthy" motion. (They don't want you just raising your arm willy nilly or your shoulder will start to always lift your arm like that.  Make sense? Its late.)  Chris is free to wheel himself (with his feet) around the unit.  Not free to leave the building quite yet.  We brought Rachel up to the hospital and played some rummikub with her.  It was fun to see her and Chris jab at each other and be silly.  It was just like old times.  So great.

For those of you who don't know me that well, I have a major tendency to "sweat the small stuff".  Basically, I stress about everything.  I have been stressing about my girls being teenagers since they were born.  I don't even need anything to stress about.  I will find it.  That is where I really am feeling God's hand in all of this.  I have to say, beyond the first day or two, I really haven't felt stressed.  I feel so assured that everything will work out and that whatever the outcome, we can handle it.  Because this is SO unlike me (Actually, for our first Christmas together, Chris bought me the book, Don't sweat the small stuff.....yes, a not so subtle hint)  I feel like this has been such a huge blessing.  Especially with not really knowing what the long term results of this stroke could be, I should be stressed.  But I am not.   It will all work out.  

Real quickly.  Could Chris work for a better company through this?  I LOVE NIKE!  I think of some other companies that he has worked for and....wow.  Everyday they do something that just knocks my socks off.  Amazing.  Today?  I found out that some amazing people are sending us dinners from Dream Dinners.  I was thrilled.  Then I found out that they are sending a month of dinners.  That was when my socks were officially knocked off.  Chris and I both are so grateful for all of you.  Every visit.  Every call.  Every prayer.  Every card.  Every act of service.  Everything.   You are all the reason why I feel such peace in what should be such a crazy time.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

encouraging day

Two good things today at rehab:  Chris was able to do "bed angels" with his arms today!  His therapist said that without gravity in play as much, he has a lot more movement of his arm.  She is going to keep doing this with him, but she warned us not to get discouraged because that doesn't translate to movement when sitting up.  But it is a good sign.  Second thing: Chris was able to push with his ankle (briefly) during physical therapy.  This is the most movement his ankle has seen since the stroke.  Yeah!  

I thought I would share the different ways the girls have handled Chris' stroke today.  Since there are 6 of them, I will do some today and some tomorrow. :)  Hannah seems like the same crazy 4 year old that she always has been.  She is loving having her cousin, Luna, here to play with.  Whenever anything goes south around the house, she ultimately ends up crying about how much she misses her dad and wants to go see him.  Chloe seems to be the most affected.  She  told my mom that she keeps praying for her daddy, but everytime she does, she ends up crying.  She wrote him a note saying that she wished he had never had his stroke and she wants him home so she can cuddle him. (You and me both, girl!)  Rachel is one that I worried about more.  I remember worrying a lot at her age, but she knows Chris will be better.  I asked her how she was doing and here was her response.  "Yeah, I wish you both were home, but I am really having a ton of fun with Aunt Rachel and grandma!"  Thanks, Rach. My theory is that if she is able to have an easier time by bonding with family, more power to her. 

Thank you to everyone who has sent Chris cards.  I just realized today that I haven't checked the mail for a week, but I will deliver them to PARC tomorrow.  I was about to post this when I got very sad news.  A girl I knew in high school woke up this morning to her 1 year old having passed away.  My heart is breaking into a million pieces for her.  Wow.  I can't even find words for it.  Just when I thought we were dealing with tough stuff.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Slumber Party Time!

I didn't get to update yesterday because Lilly and I had a little slumber party at PARC with Chris.  Think slumber party without...the yummy snacks, staying up late, OR having access to a shower. :)  But it was nice to spend a little more time with Chris and to be there for all of his therapy today.  

Chris is in good spirits, which I think comes from the empowerment that you feel when you are tackling life's challenges head on.  He is busy working on his arm and his leg all day long and it seems to be making him feel a little better.  No improvements in his arm and leg, but he is getting better at doing things one handed.  He can put on his shirt one handed and put on tube socks.  He even learned how to tie his shoelace one handed.  (It was that or elastic shoelaces, which he refused.)

Side note:  Lilly is scooting her little self across the closet right now to get paper.  She even spent a little bit of time on her knees.  GO, Lilly! Yeah!  Don't worry, folks.  Chris got to see her crawl/scoot at the hospital yesterday.  

I came home a little early today to make it to Chloe and Hannah's soccer game.  They both scored a goal, but the real highlight was when Hannah was chasing down the other team for the ball.  I cheered "Go, Hannah!  Get the ball!"  When she heard me, she stopped running after the other team and turned to me, waving.  "Hi, mom!"  Hannah likes soccer, but she is more on the field to chat.  I had to include that because Chris just cracks up when she does things like that out there.  Skipping to the goal, chatting with her friends....She keeps the game fun.  The whole time I watched their game, I was feeling guilty because I was going to break it to them after that our soccer season was being cut short.  It was just too much for my mom to get everyone to games 5 days a week. (Yuck!)  When I told their coach the situation, he arranged for rides within minutes and now the kids will never know that their soccer season was about to be cut short.  Thank you to people out there that are helping keep my girls' life that much more normal.  I am counting my many blessings right now for those many acts of kindness that we've seen over the last week.  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chris' first day of school

The first day of "school" for Chris. :)  Each day, he has speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. 

 The speech therapist was very encouraging, telling him that she sees him getting back to normal with his speech.  She said we will probably see a big difference just in the next week.  He can say all of his sounds, but he has to talk slowly right now.  

The occupational therapist teaches him how to do those things like getting dressed, brushing his teeth, typing....daily tasks.  He said that as much as it is important for him to learn how to do everyday tasks, the real benefit is that it is normally through doing these tasks that your brain reconnects.  He said that Chris has the ability to move his arm and his leg, but his brain's wiring is messed up from the stroke.

The physical therapist helped Chris walk and they worked on his arm a little.  She said that he will only stay there for about 7-10 days because they basically get them to a point where they can go home safely so he can do the rest of his rehab from home.  She suggested getting our room downstairs ready for him, which will keep us busy for....7-10 days. :)  Move craft stuff upstairs, get a mattress for him....

Overall, it was a very exciting day because the therapists at the rehab center are quite informative and we feel like we are getting some more answers.  I think Chris' darkest day was when they weren't telling him what to expect with regaining use of his arm.  When you are in bed all day, your mind starts imagining all of the things that could go wrong.  Not good. :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

A new home away from home

I am sorry to make this short, but I am exhausted.  Thank you for your help today.  I did get Chris a pretty groovy pair of glasses.  He looks down right handsome in them. :)

He was transferred to the Providence Acute Rehab Center (PARC) today and is in room 4k 12.  PARC is located right in Providence Hospital, right off of 84 on Glisan.  Tomorrow he starts all of his therapy and his new "full time job".  (Getting better....FAST)

Chris needs some eyes. :)

I am about to run off to the hospital and have this problem that needs fixing.  I had the idea to ask if any of you might have an idea of what I should do instead of me going to the hospital and making a bunch of phone calls.  

Chris is pretty blind without his contacts and doesn't own a pair of glasses.  Not only is putting contacts in pretty tricky with one hand (although they said the nurses could do it), but he is on his last pair of contacts and they are starting to rip.  I would like to get him glasses and some new contacts, but he needs a new prescription.  Do any of you know of any eye doctors that actually do "home visits"?  I figure someone out there has to serve those people that are homebound, right?  If you have any help us out with some info, you can e-mail our home or Chris' work and we will be able to get it at the hospital.  The hospital didn't have any info for me and I was going to start searching this morning.  Thank you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On to rehab tomorrow

If all goes as planned, tomorrow Chris will be transferred to the inpatient rehab at Providence. (off of 84, east Portland)  I asked Chris if he was excited and he said "Its not home."  Yep, definitely not home.  But we are both excited for him to work hard on his rehab so he can get home.   Plus, I don't think he should brave the lego death traps until he is a little bit lighter on the feet. 

The neurologist told us today that although Chris will regain use of his arm, he doesn't think it will ever be 100% again.  As discouraging as this was to hear, I think it was better to deal with than letting your imagination do the work.  He was able to work on his walking and moved up to cane.  (My dad is going to start carving a cane for him.  He asked Chris what animal he wanted on it.  Any guesses?  Yep.  A swoosh.  Is that an animal?)  He keeps reminding us that his walking is still his left leg working really hard, but he is getting his right leg to do some of the motion of walking.  As soon as that ankle starts working again, it will be like he was never down.  

Today we started working on decorations for Chris' new room.  We are making him some pillow cases (a sushi one and a dog one) and we are getting 12 x 18s of all of the girls making silly faces.  We figure those silly faces will help him not get too serious.  (Especially Hannah with her fingers up her nose....Yuck!)

Someone remarked at how "amazing" we are for handling this so well.  I feel like all of those prayers out there have really helped us in making this easier.  Yes, there are a lot of moments of frustration and tears.  If you would have asked me how I would have handled this two weeks ago, I don't know if I would have thought us up to the task.  We feel all of the support and love of those around us and can't do anything but go one and get things done.  Thank you for being such great friends and for helping us in so many ways.  You guys are awesome! 

Making life interesting

I have decided to try to do our Chris updates via blog because it will be easier and then I won't have to worry about missing people when I send out my e-mails.  (And you can opt out if you don't want to hear every detail, right?)

Today was....interesting.  We found out that as long as the cardiology side goes ok, Chris will be discharged on Friday or Saturday.  Hopefully, he will be sent to a inpatient rehabilitation clinic in Portland. (Not everything is settled, but this is what will most likely happen.)  This will allow him to work, work, work and get better quickly.  Once again, this is good and bad.  He will be further away and a little bit less accessible for the girls and me.  BUT he will be working hard and getting better!

Autumn got her braces put on and came to hang out with Chris a little.  She was a cheerful spirit to have around.  She gave him some good cuddling and then had some thumb wars with him.  Chris enjoyed seeing Autumn's pink and blue braces....and really just being part of one of those everyday things that don't seem so exciting until you are missing them all.

Chris is being put through all sorts of tests to figure out why he has such high blood pressure at age 32.  They are looking at his kidneys for some of those answers, so keep your fingers crossed.   Until then, the nagging wife is ruining Chris' life with a low cholesterol  and low sodium diet.

Today was a little frustrating for Chris, since he does have a little bit of an impatient streak in him.  He has never been one to wait, which is why he is very frustrated that things aren't getting better already.  His right arm is the most discouraging since he feels as if it isn't responding to anything he does.  He can move his arm, but his shoulder is doing all of the work.  I have been trying to remind him that we are only three days into our recovery!  

He was able to walk (with his geriatric walker, as he calls it) into the hall today.  This was done, of course, sporting the swoosh and a brace on his right leg.  The funniest part of the day?  When the physical therapist suggested he buy "any cheap shoe" in a larger size for therapy.  I kindly let her know just who she was talking to and within a few hours, Jake had brought over some bigger Nikes for his afternoon therapy.   

Today has been full of people visiting Chris, helping with the homefront, sending well wishes and flowers and just being great friends.  Thank you everyone for your thoughts and friendship.  Chris loves hearing all of the messages as I pass them on.  Thank you!  I'll try to have some pictures for the next post. :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moving Update

We are still living out of boxes, but I thought I would send a quick update.  We love our new house and having our space double. (from the town house, not from our old house)  There is still so much to do and I am starting to wonder if things will ever get back to normal.  Today we are going back to the townhome to clean and tomorrow will be back to unpacking.  So basically, we are alive.  As I get the girls' rooms all done, I will post pictures of the different decorating that we did.  Rachel and Autumn are going with a brown and pink.  Chloe, Hannah and Elise are following a little 30's style.  Lilly has green, brown, pink and blue in some fun-funkery style.  They say color is stimulating for babies, right?  Well, she will be stimulated!  (If she ends up having issues with add, we will know why.)  As much fun as it is to do this post on the floor of our closet, I am going to get ready for some major cleaning.  We'll see you soon!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quick Hello

This is going to be quick because I have to get up early for the big move tomorrow.  Yes, it is finally here.  

The girls and I did a little show of the democracy in our house in regards to the hair bag naming. Actually, this might just really show how much democracy (I keep accidently typing in democrazy, which I think is a little ironic.) is alive and kicking in our house.  I decided which one I like best and am going with it.  Normally, we do a little more of a democratic process, but everyone is asleep and I want to get this done.  The prize goes to Meg for "Piggies in a Pinch".  It doesn't surprise me that she had great ideas because she is the one that came up with our favorite bath apron.   Chris is running over her "Piggies in a Pinch" bag tomorrow when he goes over to pick up our massage chair that they kept for us.  (Now it is on record that if the bag doesn't make it, it is all on Chris!) 

And then we move on to the dishes.  The winner is.....Corelle Cafe Black.  "What? That wasn't even an option!", you say.  Yes, I know.  I really appreciate everyones' opinions and your opinions helped me work out the decision on my own. :)  How is that for another display of "democrazy"?  I decided to go for these somewhat retro looking ones that have a black rim around them.  Why?  Because I started holding up all of my cute napkins to the images of the other plates and it just wasn't working.  I have all of these napkins (9 sets) made out of all sorts of cute fabrics and these dishes matched them all the best.  Yes, I am saying that I chose my dinnerware so they will match my Bend the Rules Napkins.  My mom said I am silly.  I think she may be right.  I think she might say the same thing again if she saw the egg molds and bento boxes that I just bought for the girls.  Silly Sarah.  Hey, I like it.