Postcards from Mount Everest

Journal entry by Julia Lundman

Hi Friends, Hi Family,

It’s been about a week since my last update. We’ve had a lot of things going on in the past week which has made it difficult to take a break to write. It’s a quiet Saturday night at the acute rehab, Jamie is in bed messing around on his iPad, and I finally have a moment to write. Phew!
This week was eventful in many ways. It has been Jamie’s brother Jo’s last week here. Jo was able to stay several weeks since his arrival on December 27th, which happened to be during winter break at Virginia Tech where he is a Professor. While I needed to go back to work, Jo was able to be with Jamie during the day assisting with the various therapies and staff at the acute rehab while also being a tremendous comfort to Jamie. To say that Jo’s presence was helpful to me really is an understatement; Jo has been a lifesaver for us both. I can’t imagine how I could have kept it together had Jo not been here to help.
While I have all of next week off from work, we will be expecting Jamie’s brother Rob, who is flying in from Australia Friday and staying for a month. After Rob departs, another of Jamie’s brothers, Dom, will be coming over to stay for a full month too. It will be so great to have family support here with all that we need, especially when Jamie transitions from acute rehab to outpatient therapy at home. I wish it had been under better circumstances that I would be meeting a few more Bakers, yet, this is what it’s all about it, isn’t it?
The week has continued to also be eventful in recovery, too. Because Jamie is able to stand unassisted for a bit and is able to take a few steps, the team has decided to graduate him to a motorized contraption on a track on the ceiling that goes all over the acute rehab floor. I believe it’s called a Likorall. The whole operation is fascinating actually. The team places a harness on his trunk, which hooks up to the ceiling device. The harness helps to center and support his body while Jamie tries to get a sense of his own gravity while taking steps. 
We’ve learned that it is unusual for a stroke patient to begin therapy for a leg and hand simultaneously. Our Neurologist has told us that it is rare for a hand to begin to gain movement at this time. Often in recovery for a stroke patient, the leg will begin to show signs of movement first and the arm/hand much later, most of which has to do with the leg being more weight bearing than the hand. In many cases, the shoulder and elbow show signs of recovery long before the hand itself due to the fine dexterity required for a hand to operate. Therefore Jamie’s doctor has felt that because Jamie is not only intelligent but also uses his right hand to make a living, he probably has many more pathways in his brain to the hand, far more than the average person. 
These developments have caused the team to think differently about Jamie’s unique recovery and try new ways of approaching the situation. In addition to adding the harness and likorall ceiling device for standing, the therapists have added electrotherapy stimulation to his arm and hand in an additional attempt to stimulate the nerves and wake up his neurons. He has also begun to work on learning to draw with his left hand using pen and paper trying to increase dexterity and fine motor skill. Hey if Frazetta can do it…
But wait! The eventful week has not stopped there! 
We have also been receiving lots and LOTS of cards with photos and notes from friends. I have been decorating Jamie’s room with the cards which I tape up on the walls. They are a comforting reminder of the love and support from our community that sometimes can feel so far away when in the hospital. Thank you!!!!! In addition to the many cards and photos, Jamie received the most incredible gift from Pixar, thanks to Matt Jones, in the form of personalized sketchbook! We’ve been pouring over it at every moment we can, in awe, laughing, smiling, and telling many, many stories. This gift has been powerfully inspiring in helping Jamie recover. Wow…thank you!!!!!!! Thank you so very much!
Love, Hugs, Kisses and even more love hugs kisses and tears. 

5 thoughts on “Postcards from Mount Everest”

  1. HI there Julia and James,
    Wow, way to go James!!!
    I love the sound of that harness thingy ( technical term)…sort of like a bumper car,eh? I wonder if that’s how the nurses get around the place, by riding and jumping from one patient to the other. Do they have low riding jeans and mullets? packet of Craven A rolled up under their shirt sleeve? That’d be a bit of a giveaway I think. It sounds like you have a super duper family there, and when you run out of brothers, a whole heap of friends who’d like to drop by and help keep the momentum up.

    Yay! Keep up the great work with arms, legs, everything. Don’t stop. Keep going. It must be tough for you, but you’re doing so well. Thanks Julia for the latest update, you’re one of a kind. Sending lots of love and hugs to you both,Janine xoxoooo
    — Janine Dawson, January 20, 2013

  2. Hey Jamie!
    You’ve never met us, but you’ll be crashing in our guest room when you two come to visit Vancouver (or Surrey, rather. But honestly that’s not a selling point so we don’t mention it often). We’re following your progress and sending huge hugs with lots of love to both you and Julie. Keep working hard with your harness- you’ll be Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible in no time. Hot. Seriously crazy, but hot. And short.
    Love, Adelle and Steve. And Maddie and Morgan. And a couple Angry Birds, Monster High dolls, and the opposum in the garage.
    — Adelle Caunce, January 20, 2013

  3. Great news! Thank you so much for your insightful updates Julia. You are amazing.
    It is really good news that Jamie is making such splendid progress and so interesting that his progress has caused the therapists to consider different methods for his recovery. What a journey you two are on.
    Wonderful news that Jamie’s brothers will be able to come and spend quality time with Jame. That is so fortunate.
    Keep it up. You have a lot of folks thinking of you every day.
    — Lou Toft, January 20, 2013

  4. Hi James and Julia
    Great news on the recovery. After reading Julia’s last entry, the image that immediately sprang to mind was of you, James, at North Sydney Pool, 1985ish goggled up like a underdressed superhero about to do a few laps.

    I honestly can’t remember if I actually went swimming there with you one day and saw this particular scene or not. Maybe it is pure fantasy. Maybe I did see it and suppressed it. Maybe I saw it and liked it so much I really, really suppressed it! I’m married now, with a kid, so I’m not going to dwell on why I have a picture in my minds eye of you on a starting block in budgie smugglers, but I thought it worth letting you know that this is the positive image I’m sending your way today.

    Aurélie sends her love.
    Lucille said her first sentence yesterday- “All day long!”
    — Peter Sheehan, January 20, 2013


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.