Mariah’s First Full Day on the Job

July 17, 2008

8:30 am – Mariah awakened by Dad. She’s positively glowing and reports having had a good night’s sleep. Nurses take over to feed, bathe, dress, etc. Her team of seven has already met and set short term goals for her. One is to start using head nods and shakes for “yes” and “no” with at least 75% accuracy. This will be pursued consistently in all her sessions. It’s part of Dad’s job to do so, too, and to let nurses and others know to encourage Mariah to use her head as well as her toe wiggles.

9:00 am – Stewart arrives for physical therapy. Nurses are still with Mariah, so she’s already running late.

9:10 am – Mariah is dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and helps Stewart move her from the bed into the wheelchair. One floor down, she gets a tour of the Lokomat,

The Lokomat robotic walking device.

The Lokomat robotic walking device.

a high-tech robot that she’ll use next week to help her start walking again. Then she chooses to work out in a clinic setting rather than in private. Stewart helps her sit upright on the edge of the platform, and she’s able to do so unaided for a few moments. Watching in a mirror, she adjusts herself and looks as elegant as ever. Lots of work with arms, legs, twisting, etc. She’ll start using electrical stimulation in a few days, too. Unit Medical Director and physiatrist Dr. Shane McNamee catches up with us and does some brainstorming with Stewart on other approaches to be tried.

10:00 am – Occupational therapists work with Mariah sitting before the sink and mirror in her room and help her wash her own face with a washcloth. Lots of coaching and encouragement for hair and tooth brushing, etc. Mariah struggles mightily and successfully to bring her hands to her shoulders and face several times, garnering cheers from onlookers.

11:00 am – Marsha takes Mariah to her office/lab for speech therapy. She correctly answers a couple dozen questions with head movement, already nailing the goal. Including a couple of trick questions like “Did Columbus discover America?” (Turn your computer upside to read the correct answer: ON.) Mariah made sound shapes with her lips, tongue and mouth, and successfully swallowed ice chips and spoonfuls of water. She’ll take a swallow test tomorrow using barium laced foods while being X-rayed. Sounds yummy.

noon – Mariah and Dad chat in her room and then move outdoors to sit in the shade and enjoy the sun and breeze. Mariah snoozes for 45 minutes, then gets a quick tour of the mall in the hospital and helps Dad purchase a salad to take back to the room.

1:30 pm – Recreational therapy is trumped so ENT (ear, nose & throat) can take Mariah away for an evaluative exam. Dad is corralled by the military liaison  to fill out forms and answer questions, then by the social worker to answer questions, then by the psychologist who just wants to note that it seems very difficult to get time with Mariah.

2:00 pm – JT, Mariah’s kinesiology therapist and her team lead, takes her to his clinic to exercise her limbs, trunk and neck. After 15 reps of her shoving him across the room on his wheeled stool with her powerful leg thrusts, he tells her that she’ll walk again, prompting a skeptical smile.

3:30 pm – Mariah gratefully moves from her wheelchair back to the bed and naps. Dad gets the oil changed in her car and grabs a 30-minute snooze at the motel.

6:00 pm – Mariah and Dad watch “Austin Powers – Goldmember” on the VCR in her room. Lots of hearty laughs are a nice tonic. (Last night Dad put “Animal House” on and was surprised that it isn’t funny any more. One of the older nurses offered sympathy. Sigh.)

8:15 pm – Mariah says she’s ready to be alone and rest. Night nurse Brooke materializes to work her bedtime magic. (Brooke gave Mariah a real shower last night and washed/conditioned/shaved/brushed away the detritus of over four long weeks of hospitalization.)

I hope Mariah doesn’t get bored and lazy from laying around all the time.

– Mark

5 Responses to “Mariah’s First Full Day on the Job”

  1. Natalie Thompson said

    Stay strong Cpt. Kochavi!! You can do it, we believe in you !!!!

    Andrews AFB Vet Clinic

  2. Hello, I know Mariah through our husbands company Hawaii trips. I just heard about her stroke today and wanted to send her a message of love and support! Though I only know her from the few trips we’ve been on over the past few years, I have such great admiration for her warmth, kindness and love of life! Please let her know that my husband Adam and I are thinking of her and are remembering her (and all of you) in our prayers! I look forward to hearing of her progress through your blog.
    Sincerely,
    Marilee Christofferson

  3. Rochelle Mishkin said

    I have no doubt, Mariah, that you will make the best of this. You have such a passionate, determined, intelligent approach to life. I’ve admired you in the past and will continue to admire you through your rehabilitation. Don’t give up! Rochelle Mishkin

  4. Lou Jones MTA Police K9 said

    To Cpt. Kochavi glad to hear your getting stronger. You and your staff were there for my K9 Brix when we needed you, you are in our thoughts and prayers every day.

  5. Zula Smith said

    I am one of your many cousins who reads the daily blog from your father. Your dad writes beautifully. Each word seems to radiate the love which surrounds you. The pictures tell so much – your smile reveals your courage and the way the sunlight sparkles on your face tells us you are making progress daily. You were a favorite child of my mother’s. Even though she passed away eleven years ago, I know her spirit is with you.
    Though we live in FL our family is spread across the U.S., some in CA, PA and VA. You, your mom and dad are in our prayers daily.
    Thank you ao much for keeping us informed. We rejoice with each movement you make.
    Zula Smith

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