From Barbara:

This was a red-letter, high-fiving, fourth-of-July celebration day. The headline: The casts on BOTH of Bob’s legs came off!!

We arrived at the orthopedic surgeon’s office this morning, as planned, for a check-up of Bob’s legs. Dr. Jebraili had told Bob three weeks ago that if things looked good, he’d probably remove the cast on his left leg. But Bob had been terribly disappointed to learn, at the same time, that the right leg was still in such bad shape that there was no telling when it would be free of its cast. (It has an artificial bone, bolted in place in an extremely difficult surgical procedure, and an ankle that had been shattered in the accident.)

Then, this morning, after looking over the x-rays, the doctor thought a bit, and said to Bob, “Tell you what – I’m going to take off both casts.” He pointed to the pictures. “The left leg has healed nicely. Plus, the right leg is healing – and I think it will do better if you start using it.”

Both Bob and I began to cry with joy. We watched as the doctor opened the casts, removed cotton and bandages, and then – there were his legs – much thinner, the right one somewhat askew, pale but real. Bob gazed at them with amazement, as if he’d never expected to see them again.

He will get new casts that can be worn to give support as he starts to put weight on the legs, and removed when he’s resting. The doctor wrote out his prescription for rehab, shook Bob’s hand in congratulations, agreed that this was a terrific step forward, and told us to come back in six weeks. Wheeled back to the waiting room, Bob gave his news to the assembled patients, and got a cheer.

The news makes a tremendous difference, as you can imagine. Bob’s rehab had entered a kind of slow-down. Because he was unable to put weight on his legs, he was reaching the end of rehab eligibility (circumscribed by insurance regulations), yet was still in need of a program providing medical care, assistance, and enough exercise to keep him moving forward. He was in a holding period, waiting till he could really make progress. With the casts off, the windows of life are now open again.

Bob’s smiles were radiant as we waited for the Para-Med van to drive him back. As always, he tried to express his feelings in words. “All my hopes are validated.” You could see in his face that he was searching for a way to define the moment. “I can see the power of family and love. Now I’ll count my blessings and step up to the plate.”

We give thanks.
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Ups and downs...and ups...and downs...

It’s been almost two weeks since the last update, with more ups and downs on the planet of the Bob. But one thing that's remained in the up category has been Bob’s steady emotional and cognitive improvement. With a few understandable exceptions, he’s remained philosophical, if not downright sunny, tipping a little but never losing his balance as he’s processed each new wave of information.

Also in the up category:

Bob was moved to a room with a regular bed - no more “boondoggle” of a confining tent!

As his swallowing has restored itself, his appetite has improved.

He’s begun to be able to navigate in his wheelchair and to help a little with his transfers from wheelchair to bed.

All these things have been real progress - rehab! So his expected transfer to a nursing home was put on hold for awhile, and this delay has given him two extra weeks in the same excellent program at the Shady Grove Adventist Rehab Hospital, with its talented staff. We feel great thanks for their caring and dedicated work. The delay has also given him the gift of consistency of place, so important after the massive displacement and disorientation brought on by his accident. Now he knows many of the staff, and they greet each other by name when they meet, as familiar friends.

He’s become more conscious of his surroundings. At supper in the dining room the other evening, he mused, “One of the things I love about this place is how many different kinds of people there are here - the patients and the staff.”

There are things he loves about this place.

And down:

A CT scan of Bob's chest last weekend, to try to locate the source of his persistent cough, revealed a pulmonary embolism in one of his lungs. His doctors have prescribed blood thinners to dissolve the clot and prevent others from forming.

At his visit to the orthopedic surgeon this past Monday (made possible by Mom’s heroic calling, conferring, cajoling, and last but by no means least, couriering of the x-rays), Bob was told that while his left leg will probably be healed sufficiently to bear some weight in about three weeks, his right leg, with its very injured ankle as well as broken tibia, will take much longer - no date projected. That was a blow for him to process, which he did with loving help from the aforementioned Mom.

And down AND up:

That news also prompted Bob’s rehab team to decide that he’d reached the end of the rehab line for now - till the legs can bear weight. Mom & Dad visited two recommended, Blue Cross-approved, nursing homes with “sub-acute rehab” and felt strongly that the Hebrew Home’s rehab facility in Rockville is the best choice for now. A transfer was worked out, and he’s moving there today (Monday). One exciting prospect - the sunny recreation room with a beautiful piano. The entire rehab program at the Hebrew Home looks wonderful, and we’re looking forward to the next chapter in Bob’s recovery.

We write this, as always, with enormous thanks for the words and thoughts of support that have been flowing from all of you. Bob sends his love to all - and we hope he’ll be writing soon himself. (He was actually in a writing group at Shady Grove, and though he still isn’t able to get many words on paper, his ideas were described as inspiring.)

- Susie & Barbara
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