Diff'rent Strokes is your source for information about Todd Thelin and his stroke recovery. Please feel free to add comments about posts, add new information in the comments, e-mail new information for me to post, or ask questions that we can answer. Keep in mind that posts are moderated, so they will need to be approved before they show-up. This helps fight spam.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 17

Brief updates again today. Todd is still sedated from his activities yesterday and as of early this afternoon was only brought to a low state of consciousness so he could have nurses feed him. He didn't have any therapy today so he could rest and try to recover. The doctors changed up his medications and hope that this new mix will help him to better control himself.

Again, don't plan any visits yet. From my understanding, tomorrow will be the first time my dad or Amy will be back to the hospital. My mother will be arriving on Sunday afternoon to help as well.

I know there will be many who will want more details. Unfortunately, I don't think it is my place to give any more than I have. I want to keep the Todd community updated, but I also don't want to delve too far into the negative. Over the course of his healing there are going to be days like this. For those who can't be here, knowledge is a way to stay connected, but without the continuity or context of involvement, details can lead you to wrong thoughts or assumptions.

What I am trying to say is that I want to keep things positive, but real. I want to show the whole picture, but not get into the brush strokes. I want to help each of you understand, but not be so keenly aware that it haunts you.

I also don't want to sensor or edit anyone else. This community is a fantastic way to help each of us heal as well. Todd may have suffered the stroke, but each of us has suffered something too. Coming together and communicating will be our recovery. So please, continue to express yourselves here, positive, negative, or in any way.

Over the weeks and months to come, you will hear from at least four of us. Amy, Sue (Todd's mom), Al (Todd's dad), and myself. Sue and Al will start to add more soon. I am sure you will enjoy their perspectives.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 16

A call from my dad indicated that Todd had a tremendous amount of difficulty today. Because of that difficulty they had to remove items from his room and sedate him. After talking to the staff psychologist, he found out a few things.

First, basically this is an extension of his no-filter problem. Except in this instance, it means no brakes on his emotions or physical temperament.

Second, this isn't the first time, nor the last time these kinds of difficulties have or will occur with patients on their floor. It is not uncommon, nor outside of the healing process.

Third, they indicated that while they wouldn't allow Todd to leave without a better probability that these types of difficulties won't happen, it may not impact his anticipated release from the hospital next week.

They will work on his medication and treatment to include this type of behavior, but for now, visitors are not a good idea and will probably not be allowed.

Wonderful Insight from Suravi

Suravi, a friend of my mother's in India, sent me an e-mail this morning.  It was a welcome perspective and it helped me in my thinking so much that I wanted to share it with everyone else reading the blog.

Well, let me introduce myself- I am Suravi Mukherjee and I work with Sue from India.
I heard about Todd from Sue and believe me, I was taken aback.
I make it a point to read the blog about Todd, of what you write every day.
Trust me you are doing a great job.

I also kept the-“Fasting Sunday”, with your entire family member for Todd and our prayers have been heard.
I was a silent reader of your blog till date but today when I was reading the blog, I thought I should speak up, because my suggestions may help you guys to cope up these kind of situations.

My mother-in-law, also had 5 strokes, 3 years back which was much worse than Todd, she was in COMA for more than 16 hours and had an operation much serious for 7 hours. Doctors had given up all hopes of her surviving and said us very clearly that if she survived she will never the same person.

That was 3 yrs back but today she is just the same person what she was before.

I have seen it all. What emotional busters Todd is having is a GOOD sign. That means his thinking ability is coming back slowly he has not lost his mind J
Bear with him please and these will continue 2-3 months. Let him think on his own.
That’s what I wanted to share, with you...

Don’t stop writing……

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day what ever. It was a bad one.

Todd is really starting to struggle. He has a lot of anxiety that is both brain injury-induced and environmental/emotional. Meaning that some of it is real, and some of it is "imagined," if you will. He gets facts and conversations confused, and even the smallest innocent comment can leave a lasting, hurtful impression on him, even if the speaker was only making a joke or teasing in fun, and trying to communicate how he feels leaves him frustrated.

After a rough afternoon with his dad, I was at the hospital with him for the rest of the day, and it went downhill from there. He had a couple of visitors, and was getting more and more visibly agitated, and after I hurried them out, he asked for a coke. I thought drinking more caffeine was not a good idea, considering his level of agitation already (legs bouncing around and fingers tapping uncontrollably) and I told him so, which apparently was the straw that broke the camel's back. He began arguing with me, and his arguments kept changing, and when I pointed that out, he just got more and more worked up, until eventually he told me to leave and asked the nurses to take me off all of his charts. The nurse came to try to get him to take his medication, both his regular meds and something for the anxiety, and he refused. The massage therapist came hoping that a massage would help reduce it, and he refused. Finally they advised me to take a break and give him some space. After a little while he fell asleep, and the nursing staff told me to go home and get some rest. (And here I sit at midnight typing instead of sleeping.)

His nurse put a request in for the neruopsych to see him tomorrow, and see if his medication needs adjusting or what can be done to help. I have been advised not to take any of it personally (easier said than done) because as they said, it's not really him. He may or may not remember even being like this later. And they have also said that his behavior is mild compared to some stroke paitents, who have been known to hit, kick, slam doors and fling urine, so I suppose I should be thankful.

Please when you visit, resist the urge to speak for him, to finish his sentances, and to make decisions for him or talk down to him. He needs to feel like he is a grown up, and this is HIS therapy, and take ownership of his recovery. So the lesson here is for visitors to keep their visits VERY brief, like less than 15 minutes, and for all of us to take a deep breath and renew our will to be patient with Todd as he struggles through to recovery.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 12

Today I went up and stayed with Todd for an hour and a half while my dad had his hair cut and Amy was picking-up Oliver for a visit with Todd. I was also able to be there for two of his therapy sessions: speech (ST) and occupational (OT).

The speech therapy revolved around helping him reconnect with his vocabulary. Todd did very well and was only off a little by things that probably would have stumped me. Occupational therapy had Todd playing a game of checkers with the therapist. Todd was able to move the pieces well and understood the rules and strategy. A couple times we had to ask him if he really wanted to make a certain move, but I do that with my kids and they do it with me all the time too.

We also walked around and Todd introduced me to his "gang" of nurses and therapists. He also brought me to the dinning hall where we got a soda and some crackers. Back in his room we talked about the view out of his large window and worked on playing with a PSP. He had a little trouble, but was understanding it very well. In my opinion, playing games like that could probably help. But that would be later, after he gets the basics down. The good news for me is that I might actually have a chance to beat him at some games; for now.

Looking Out the Window

Another video for those who want a little more multimedia experience with Todd's recovery. Keep in mind that I had the camera down and away from my face so he wouldn't be self conscious.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Are we still on day 10?

Adding to what Brett wrote below, I have a few comments.

In regards to the therapy of today. Most of what Todd did today was more on the evaluation level than actual therapy. They were establishing baselines so they will know where he needs help more, and also as a means of seeing progress. You gotta start somewhere, that that somewhere is what they were looking for today.

The speech therapist is Emily (not Oliver's OT Emily, though I think she works at IMC somewhere) and Todd thought she was "really pretty" and apparently had a hard time concentrating on her questions, so he kept closing his eyes (then he got smart and looked at me instead.) She did ask him "easy" questions like the month, who is the president, etc. She also tested him on "story" problems, where she would read a story, and then ask him questions about it to establish language comprehension, grouping questions, like "what would you call water, paint, and cream?" (Answer: liquids) She did them in groups, to show pattern (What would you call a camel, a chicken, and a dog? Answer, animals) She asked him problem solving questions like "what would you do if you were driving and ran out of gas?" She also checked his oral motor skills, which as Brett reffered to, are fine.

I missed PT, so I can't give any more details on that, however I was there for OT. The OT who saw Todd today will probably not be his premanent person, so I didn't bother remembering his name. He was great though. He started out with sequencing puzzles. He gave Todd cards that had pictures which told a story, and had Todd put them in the proper order. Todd really struggled with this, but got it right with help. Next was a peg puzzle, which was timed, and Todd had to complete it with each hand seperately. They checked his hand strength, and found contrary to what PT found, it appeared that his left side was the strong side. They established this by having him squeeze various aparatuses that measure how hard he is squeezing, in various positions. He made the therapists day when he was asked, in order to establish how they could gear his therapy toward Todd's interests, "WHta do you like to do?" and Todd thought about it, grinned, and pointed to me. I told you, NO filter. We all blushed, and of course Todd had to go into more detail.

After OT he was exhausted, and had a nap, and a shower. He had some visitors then, the Taylors from our old ward stopped by, Bobi's grandfather is in the room next to Todd's. Todd did remember them, but not their names. They stayed for a few minutes, then he had dinner, and was ready for some more rest. I left to go get Oliver at just after 6:00. He has his cell phone to call me if he needs me, but hopefully he'll have a quiet night. He is still under 1:1 care, so his CNA will be with him through the night, but I anticipate (and hope) that that will not be needed soon. His balance is improving all the time.

Day 10

Since my wife was sick with a stomach flu, I didn't head up to see Todd today. However, a call from my dad brought some news.

Despite what I said in my last post, today was the first day of Todd's aggressive therapy. I guess the holiday didn't phase the therapists after all. So early this morning (9:00 a.m.) Todd was walking up and down some stairs by holding on to railings, walking for about 20 minutes, and doing other activities.

During this therapy, they found he does have a side that is weak. This means that the stroke did affect one side of his body, but it isn't very pronounced. His left side is the weak side. Another problem is that even though he can't walk well on his own or do other physical tasks, he thinks he can. This basically means that he can't be left alone at nights and there is a "fall risk" sign on his door.

He also had speech therapy, occupational therapy, and something like everyday living therapy. Some of this therapy consisted of four pages of questions. My dad said these weren't questions like, "Who is the president?" and "What is your son's name?" They have asked those questions, but these questions were like riddles. Things that could tell the therapist how Todd's brain was processing information.

I don't have a lot of detailed information from the therapists, but I'm sure when Amy checks in again she will have that kind of information.

I do know that the doctors and therapists continue to be amazed at his progress. Physically, mentally, and with his speech. He also has continued to sleep a lot. This should be standard now. The mental, emotional, and physical drain from the therapy will be rather immense.

Another positive side is that Todd eats a better breakfast than I do. This morning he had bacon, eggs, and potatoes with onions. He is on the "advanced" diet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finally checking in

Transport to IMC. We got to ride in the van this time.
Hopefully that will be a little cheaper than the 2 ambulance rides.
The "Hilton" of hospitals. Todd's new digs.

Oliver's visit with Daddy yesterday.
He said "ba" then just wanted down on the floor to play with his cars.

Hi family, friends, ward members and random blog readers. I'm finally home, first time in weeks, and able to check in.

Several people have asked about Todd's prognosis, now that he's in rehab, so I thought I'd fill you all in on that.

As previously mentioned, Todd has been recovering and healing at a remarkable rate, even to the doctors. From what I understand, a faster recovery at the outset is a good indicator of how far his recovery will go toward completion. And if this is any indication, we should all be able to look back on this experience and laugh (with greater wisdom and humor) in no time. His dad is convinced that he'll be a few weeks in the hospital and some time at home, and be back to work and daily life very soon. I'm currently leaning on his faith on that one, and remain very hopeful.

It must be remembered, however, that Todd has had not one, but three strokes. There is tissue in his brain that has been killed (my word of the day, Cerebral Infarction.) The brain has amazing, and not fully understood powers to heal, reorganize, and repair itself. Todd is very lucky to have no paralysis, or even much discernible weakness in his body. Those are very good things. Where Todd is struggling now is from the neck up. He is experiencing some very common effects, such as:
  • aphasia - problems remembering words, names, finding the right word, etc. He gets caught mid-sentence, and gets stuck until he is reminded of the word, then can continue on. He can't remember new names well (like names of nurses etc) or people's last names, and replaces them with a similar sounding name (like Becca=Brooke, Terry=Ted, etc)
  • emotional liability - sudden and sometimes inappropriate emotional outbursts. Like his emotions don't have any brakes
  • sensory deprivation - because he can't see well, his visual sense is somewhat deprived, causing him to get overwhelmed when exposed to multiple conversations, or too much going on. This can also cause anxiety, hallucination, depression, and bizarre thoughts. I mean more bizarre then the pre-stroke Todd.
  • cognitive problems - memory problems, abstract thought/reasoning/problem solving
  • inappropriate social behavior - where Todd didn't have much of a "filter" before, he is completely lacking one now. He is apt to say and do things that he would have previously only joked about doing
I tell you all this not to make discourage or worry you, but to give you a more realistic picture of what he and our family are and will be dealing with in the months, and even years to come. Knowing that he can walk, talk, eat, and toilet with less and less assistance are all wonderful things, but they are not the complete picture. These will have much more far reaching effects, and to the casual observer, and even to himself, he may appear to be fully recovered and capable of doing things when he's not. Like driving, for example.

As Brett mentioned, they expect him to be in in-patient rehab for approximately 2 weeks, and will then release him to go home, at which point he'll begin in home therapy, similar to what we do now with Oliver. Todd is a survivor, and he has come an incredible distance so far, but the journey is not yet over. Please be patient with him, and with those of us who will be helping him on his way to full recovery.

I have a lot more to write, but as usual, the day isn't nearly long enough, and it's already midnight, and I need to be at the hospital early again. Thank you everyone for your prayers. Believe that they are being felt constantly. I'm still standing, not a puddle on the floor, so that should be proof. All my love.

Day 9

I have a quick update and will post more later.

Todd is in his new room (1203) and apparently it is even bigger than his old room that held two people. There is a couch and plenty of room to move around. This is good because now Todd is up and getting around the room on his own.

It has been an emotional morning for Todd. He has shed some tears and felt pretty tender. This doesn't mean you shouldn't come visit if you are planning on it. I am feel confident that he would still like to see you.

Speaking of visiting, the reason he won't start the aggressive therapy until Friday is today was his transfer day and tomorrow is a state holiday. This means that the post 4pm visiting hours won't take effect until Friday. So if you can only get away in the pre-4pm hours, come today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 8

Those who don't know, I have been at Cub Scout Country for the last two days. While the first day was fun, it wore me out. The second day of Cub Country, after being worn out from the first, just cleaned my clock. So I didn't make it to see Todd. But I do have updates from Amy and my dad.

Aparently, while Todd is still sleepy and slept quite a bit today, he is doing even better than yesterday. Since according to my experience, yesterday was pretty amazing, I can't wait to go visit him again.

They moved him to a new floor today. Now he is on the 6th floor. Aparently they received a bunch of urgent patients, so they transfered the healthiest patients.

As my mom added in her comments to yesterday's post, Todd is now disconnected from all of his tubes. So the change from yesterday is the removal of his catheter. Man, that even feels painful to write. So when you go to visit, only the heplock will be on his arm. The heplock is an IV needle and a little attachment wrapped on his arm so if an IV is necessary, they can just plug it right into the attachment, and not waste time putting in an IV needle and affixing it to his arm. For just about anyone in a hospital it is required until discharge.

Todd was also taken him off the soft diet today and can now have "regular food." The quotes mean that regular food is healthy food. No pizza, hamburgers, fries, etc. Food within healthy reason. That means no sneaking milkshakes people. If you really must bring a milkshake, make sure I'm there and order chocolate-banana please.

The LDS hospital representative came in today and after an evaluation said they will transfer Todd to the IMC hospital tomorrow at 10am in an IHC van. IMC on 5121 S. Cottonwood Street (maps and directions) and the building he will be in is 12 stories high (Todd's room will be on the 12th floor). He will have his own room and it should have a pretty good view of the valley. IMC is a new facility with new equipment and some of the best doctors in the area.

There is a new visitation policy to go with the new hospital, so everyone should note this if they plan to visit. Since he will be in the physical therepy area, they will be working with him in the morning and early afternoon. Therefore, visitors can only come after 4:00 PM. It is a pretty vigorous program and they will work him pretty hard. In fact, they have said that by evening he will have dinner and probably fall right asleep. Amy said this new rigorous therapy will start on Friday (7/25).

The LDS hospital representative also said that by looking at how fast Todd is progressing, they believe he will stay at the new hospital for between 5 and 14 days. After that, there will be some home care. Overall, they are totally amazed at how fast he is recovering.

Todd is now able to wear normal clothes, like underwear (thank goodness; no more flashing), loose-fitting t-shirts and pants.

He had a long walk today. He looked out the windows and really enjoyed that. He tried walking on his own, but he still has a balance problem. The doctors say it is common with this type of injury.

During his walk, Todd passed by a Coke machine. He leaned over to Amy and said in a soft voice, "Hey Amy, quick, distract them while I grab a coke." Amy said, "I'm not going to do that you crack smoker." Todd said, "Okay, I'll distract them and you grab the Coke." When the doctors heard about this later, they said it was okay for him to have a Coke. When he got it and had a drink he said, "Oh, that tastes so good." Now lest you think Todd is craving Cokes and want to bring him some, keep in mind that he didn't even finish half the can. I think for the most part it was good just to have a taste of normal life.

I'll make a plug for visitors here (those than are in the area). I'm not saying we should flood Todd with visits, but I am saying that when he is in physical thereapy at IMC, he would love to visit with you. There are a few that come pretty regularly, this isn't for them. They'll go regardless. This is for those who may be waiting for the right time. I think you'll have a good visit and it will help Todd feel connected to his world again. Stick to the new visiting hours and don't all come at once, but do drop by.

Have Dinner With Todd

One of the main goals of this blog is not just to report events and milestones, but also to give you images and video so you can feel like you are able to be here. I know how much better I feel once I couple knowledge about what is happening with a visual confirmation. Many of you aren't able to have that opportunity. So let me help.

Below is a video of Todd during our visit today (Day 7). We showed up at dinner time, so you, if you choose to watch, will get to have dinner with Todd. I hope you enjoy it. We surely did.

When Todd was eating his beets, he said something I think is pretty funny. He told Amy that he "...Bites 'em like he loves it." We made that the catch-phrase of the evening, "Bite 'em like you love it." It may not even seem funny to you, but at that moment we were roaring.

All the humor may seem like Todd, but he said something interesting today that echoed the way we all felt after our grandpa passed away a few weeks ago. "We try to stay comedic because if we don't, we'll lose it." So don't mind the crazy things he says or his very "Todd" brand of humor. For both him and us it is a way to deal with a real world that seems unreal.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 7

Alicia and I ended up going to see Todd today. Wow, what an amazing visit! It was essentially Todd, the Todd we all know and love, sitting and joking in a hospital bed. I say essentially because he is still under the influence. So there were elements of "drunk" Todd. I will show you what I mean in a later video post.

Todd was taken off the food IV today. Now he is only on Nurontin (sp?) for the phantom neurological pain and another medication for his high blood pressure. While we were there they took him off the Heprin (blood thinner). They will put him on a new blood thinner that is less powerful and easier to monitor soon.

An international stroke specialist saw Todd this morning and said he is amazed at Todd's progress. Because Todd is doing so well, they were going to move him to the physical therapy section of the hospital. However, now that he no longer needs the special attention of stroke doctors at the University Hospital, the insurance company wants Todd to be in a network hospital. So tomorrow they will transfer him to either LDS Hospital or the new IMC (Intermountain Medical Center) and put him in their physical therapy unit.

During our stay, Haily (Amy's sister) came for a visit. Todd thought Oliver was with her, so he asked Amy, "Where is the one that doesn't work at all." We all thought that was pretty funny. There were many instances like that, where Todd couldn't remember a name, word, or phrase. But this isn't uncommon, even for me. Quite often I forget names of things as common as a broom and I describe them in a similar way, "The thing that you use to clean the floor." With the pain medication this is probably even more pronounced.

As we talked today I wanted to probe Todd's mental condition in regard to technical knowledge. He actually has a good grasp of the concepts, engaging in discussions that show his understanding. The only limitation seems to be his ability to grab the right words. Throughout our conversation he was talking about things that possessed all the right elements, but had some mixed-up words interspersed. The important thing is that as he is getting more lucid, he is getting more accurate.

Since this was the first time I have seen Todd remembering things so clearly, I asked him if he remembered what happened on the day he had the stroke. He said that he remembered having the attack, when he vomited and was loaded into the ambulance. He also said he remembered not being able to talk and writing on Amy's hand to communicate that he felt like his heart was beating double.

He also told me that while he was being loaded into the ambulance and during his time in the ER, he felt like he was going to turn into a demon dog and tear people apart. He said, it just goes to show how video games can mess with your head. This is a personal reference to the Silent Hill video games Todd and I played where often you have to go into a hospital that turns into an evil hospital and bad things happen.

Right before we left, Todd made me promise to "Tell grandma it's not her time to go. I've seen her. Tell her it's not her time to go. I've seen her." I should note that at this point, he was pretty tired from dinner and our joking around. So his words had more of a tired, dream-like feel to them. But I wanted to note them here anyway.

At the end of our visit I could tell we had overstayed our welcome. Todd was getting agitated. He started to proclaim that he was so tired of not being able to leave the hospital and just be a part of the normal life he had lived; playing video games, hanging out with family, and being able to express himself clearly. It was very hard not to be overwhelmed by that expression because it was so easy to understand and feel in an empathic way.

But I still view all of this, including the exasperation, as a good thing. Todd has made amazing strides over the last 24 hours. I was able to look into his eyes and talk with him. He was moving around, eating, joking, and showing signs of happiness. I am not sure of the religious background of all who read this blog, but I believe that the continual prayers and special fasts have not gone unheard. For your part in that, we are all grateful. Don't forget Todd in the weeks and months to come. This will be a long journey and he and his family will need all of you at some point or another. Don't ignore that feeling when it comes.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 6

This morning, Dad called and gave me a very positive update.

The physical therapists were in and got him out of bed. The two therapists told him he had to keep his eyes open while he was up and Dad said he kept them open for the most part. They had him stand by his bed and then walk in place to help him get his balance. He didn't have any problem there, so they had him walking around the halls, dad following with his IV. This wasn't a hunched over or dragging walk, but a walk standing-up straight without incident.

Todd's sense of humor appears to be coming back more and more. As they were washing him in preparation for his walk, one of the nurses said, "I'm washing your back now." Then when finished there said, "I'm going to be washing your bum now." Whereupon Todd said, "Hmmm, this is great, I'm going to have to come here more often."

Another time he didn't recognize Amy, and after being told it was Amy, the nurse asked Todd if he knew who she was. He said, "That's the first one I married."

While walking, the therapists were having him do all kinds of tests to check his physical level and ability. One of them told Todd to squeeze her hand. When he did, she said, "Geez, I said squeeze it not break it. I want you to gently squeeze the other hand now." Dad also made sure Todd knew that his two therapists were rather small and if he fell, he would take the therapists with him.

Apparently all of the doctors, nurses, and therapists working with Todd have agreed that once they can get Todd off from all the drugs, he should be able to start talking and thinking more clearly. Right now he still slips between dream-state and reality in his conversations. While this is a little fun from an older-brother point of view, especially when he decides to start singing, I'd rather have him lucid.

Tonight, Mom said that she talked with Todd and could understand most of what he said. She also reported that he ate a plate of mac & cheese, some yogurt, and drank a glass of juice and milk. My dad said that they will evaluate his eating progress after breakfast tomorrow and if things are staying in his stomach, they will take the feeding tube out of his nose.

After dinner, my dad reported that he and Todd watched Oceans 11. Watched? That's right, today my dad said he kept his eyes open 80-90% of the time. I can't wait until tomorrow when Alex and I go for a visit.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 5 - Update from Mom

As of 8:10 Sat. night MDT Amy told me that Todd is tolerating the food well that he's receiving in his feeding tube. It will be a constant drip. It started at 20 cc and every couple hours they increase it. After a struggle with Todd pulling the tube out the first time, his dad explained to him today the importance of it, and so far Todd is not fighting the tube this time. The heart monitor is off him, and he only has one IV.

Thanks every one for your prayers and your love for each of us.


Day 5

I just finished a phone call with Todd. Alicia took Maddie and Alex to go walk in the Pioneer Day parade downtown while I watched Oliver until Amy came to freshen-up. So I haven't seen him today and I probably won't. Tomorrow I will check before I go in since Sunday is the day a lot of people try to visit. It is a tiny half-room and a lot of people visiting make it difficult.

I talked with Todd on the phone because he was talking to Dad and told him that he was going to kick my butt (well, it was stronger word than that) because I hadn't called him back yet. So my dad called me up and had me talk to him. His first words were, "What's your problem?" When I told him I didn't know what he was talking about, he informed me that I haven't taken care of the 500 humanoids yet. I told him I was busy lately with Oliver, but I would get right on it.

We then had a pretty good conversation where some of it was dream-state and some of it was very real. At the end he expressed how upset he was because he knew this wasn't only hurting him, it hurt many people and they were crying, saying they didn't know what to do. I assured him that no matter what we feel, we were there for him, would take care of things, and it was more important that he forget about how we feel and focus on getting better. He said he understood. Of course he also gripped about the doctors.

From my perspective, the doctors have been fabulous. It could be easy to treat patients like pieces of meat, especially after they have had strokes and are not all that responsive. However, these doctors and nurses take the time not only to talk to Amy and whoever else is there and explain what is going on, but they address Todd and talk him through what is happening, even if he seems to be asleep. These are even more reasons the University of Utah Medical Center is listed in US News and World Report's list of best hospitals in 2007 (link).

By the way, while I was looking at the link to US News and World Report, I ran across and article that lists music as medicine for the brain, especially for stroke victims and for those who have involuntary tremors. Todd has been asking for music and today was listening to some. The link to the article is here.

I think the only negative thing I have heard so far is my dad fear that Todd's convulsion episodes are getting more pronounced and frequent. The explanation I remember for the episodes is that the phantom pain from the pain centers induce a kind of circadian rhythm. This is similar to when some people tap their fingers or hands onto something when they have a headache or feel nausiated. This kind of rhythm helps us cope with the pain. These are just big circadian rhythm patterns.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 4

I hope no one views this little bit of footage as me making fun of my brother. Much of my family lives far away from here and while news and talking on the phone is good, some images and even video may be a way to keep from going crazy wondering what is really happening.

Today I saw Todd as clear and animated as I have seen him yet. In this verbal exchange, he even initiated conversation. The thing to keep in mind is that the doctors have Todd on some pretty heavy drugs for the phantom mental pain (two of the strokes hit pain centers of his brain; this has caused his brain to believe there is pain where no injury exists).

The video is a small except of a larger conversation which really was more of a protracted interaction with one of his dreams. He was asking us for a set of tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny keys that secured some music in a car. He didn't feel we would take care of it properly. At the end of this segment he is talking about not wanting a scary woman to come back. We're not sure if this was a nurse, or someone else from the dream state he was in. Overall we were all glad to hear his voice pretty clearly again. Both Dad and I think it sounds like Todd when he was about eight. Amy said this is his sleep-talking voice.

The other good story from today came from an instance when Amy asked Todd for a kiss. When Todd gave Amy a little kiss, she said she wanted a "real" kiss. Todd then put his arms around her and gave her a long kiss.

Todd still isn't opening his eyes much. He has for doctors and upon request most of the time. He is also sleeping a lot (which again is very good - see post on 5/15 for details and a link).

The problem today is that Todd needs to get real food into his body. The doctors said they have studies that show the earlier they get real food into a patient's body, the faster they recover. Todd can't eat on his own, so they tried a feeding tube in the morning. That didn't last long. Soon after they put it in, Todd sat up and when he raised his arms, his thumb caught the tube and yanked it right out. They were going to try again tonight or tomorrow afternoon. If that doesn't work, they may put a surgical feeding tube in his side that heads straight to his stomach.

By the way, in case anyone out there has forgotten or doesn't know, family, friends, and any who wish are fasting for Todd from dinner Saturday night to dinner Sunday night (don't eat dinner Saturday and don't eat until dinner Sunday night). Remember that the power of fasting comes along with the prayer and faith exercised during the fasting.

Amy also wanted to let those who wish to help know that the two things that would help the most right now are 1) freezer meals that they can use over the coming months and 2) donations at any Mountain American Credit Union (they have set-up a fund in Todd's name, just ask for the Todd Thelin fund). By the way, if you go to the web site, recognize that what you see is Todd's handiwork.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 3

I didn't make it to the hospital today. Mainly because I didn't leave work until 7pm and I needed to get some sleep.

I found out from Amy and my dad that Todd opened his eyes today. Not for very long, but both my dad and Amy asked Todd to open his eyes for them and he did. He was also able to focus on them for a few seconds and said he could see them.

There were also some conversations. Todd talked over the phone to his mom and some siblings. He didn't initiate thoughts from what I understand, but he did respond to words and questions and even added some of his sense of humor. While still slurred, his words were not random or parroted.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 2

The stroke team at the Univeristy of Utah Medical Center has determined that Todd has had three strokes. Each of them in a very critical area of his brain. The good news is that these strokes were not very deep into his brain. This team has run their own CT scans, MRIs, chest x-rays, and now EEGs. This is Todd hooked up to the EEG machine.

Todd has again been sleeping most of the time. While he still hasn't opened his eyes, he has said a few words with a little bit of slur still lingering in his voice. He has also been able to make his body do what has been asked of him. He can raise and lower limbs, move around, or perform other motor control functions. Just as important to me, there isn't a paralysis of one side of his body. For some reason this seems like a very good sign.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 1

On Tuesday, July 15th, Todd experienced a stroke. We understand that in the morning at work, his co-workers heard him vomit at his desk. When they arrived, they saw him sitting with his head in his hands. He was unresponsive to any questions, but was breathing normally. They called 911 immediately and he was rushed to the Jordan Valley Hospital.

At the hospital, he was responsive, but had slurred speech and would not open his eyes. His mouth drooped to one side for a little while and he talked about taking care of his work responsibilities. He also had convulsions where his arms and legs flailed in the air, but were not full-body seizures (his tongue was not out of his mouth, it was only certain parts of his body, and he seemed to keep some degree of control).

They ran a bevy of tests including a CT scan, chest x-rays, an EKG, and an MRI. After all but the MRI they ruled out a stroke and from x-rays and a doctor listening to his lungs, diagnosed him with pneumonia. The admitting doctor said that pneumonia had commonality with things like meningitis and could cause brain injury symptoms. This didn't make sense to us and we said as much and continued to emphasize our opinion that it was a stroke and the reasons why we thought it was a stroke (slurred speech, drooped side of lip, and obvious mental impairment). I even asked the emergency room doctor after looking they looked at the CT scan if they were sure this was not a stroke. They said they were sure it was not a stroke, especially after looking at the CT scan which she said was "clean."

The next morning, they finally agreed with us (probably after the MRI showed some indications) and wisely determined they would send him to the University of Utah Medical Center where they have a stroke center and a stroke team.

The biggest problem in my mind is that along with the large number of drugs they pumped into him during the first two hours he was there to combat viral, bacterial, and other possible problems, they did not administer any stroke medications, despite our constant admonitions that we believed he had a stroke. Therefore, the vital three hours passed without the key help he needed despite being in an emergency room.

Todd has been sleeping most of the time. I have learned that this is good. Jill Taylor, a neuroanatomist was recently on Fresh Air on NPR and talked about what it was like to have a stroke and map its progress as it was happening, but more importantly, what key elements are most important for recovery. Instead of keeping the brain engaged as much as possible, Dr. Taylor argues that sleep allows the brain to heal more fully. A link to the site so you can listen is here.