On the thirteenth day of April the Hospital shipped her off to Sunset City supposedly for rehabilitation.
And rub-a-dub-dub she did get rehabilitation from three therapists at this hub, The Physical, The Occupational and the Speech. Speech is a bit of a misnomer for my mother's talking wasn't at all affected by her stroke. She could speak as well as ever. But Speech Therapy apparently covers all things mouth and throat and this therapist was there to help her regain the ability to eat real food again.
These therapies were doing some good. My mother was regaining movement in her left leg, to the extent at least that she could move it back and forth and reposition it in bed. The left hand was the stubborn part. From the beginning she could raise that arm, but her hand stayed immovable with the fingers squished together. The best that had happened after 39 days of therapy was a slight wiggling of her fingertips.
However, her swallowing was quite another story and in some way the swallowing was the most important of the therapies. If my mother could regain her ability to eat real food it would increase her quality of life immensely even if she did remain handicapped in her extremities. If she could not walk again she would at best be able to enjoy the taste of her favorite foods. This would also allow her to be more mobile, albeit with the use of a wheelchair. It was difficult for her to be moved with the feeding tube. Without it she could be taken to have meals in the cafeteria with other residents, enjoy a meal and perhaps some conversation.
By the 39th day she was eating selected foods such as yogurt and pudding. However, on the 39th day there was a great leap forward. On that day Sunset City took her to a Distant Hospital for a video digital scan of her mouth and throat. Distant Hospital had a far greater reputation in this field than This City Hospital, although my mother complained about them taking her so far rather than across the street.
The next morning I had an email from one of her friends that they had visited that night and she was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Whoa, I thought. If she can swallow a PB&J then can't she swallow everything? I have difficulty sometimes swallowing peanut butter.
When I visited the next day it was lunch time and mom was sitting up in bed being fed normal food, the menu item of the day for the noon meal, macaroni & cheese and a fruit salad. (She said she passed on the chicken as it was a bit chewy.) She was also eating this straight up, just as you and I would eat. Prior to this to sup on a cup of yogurt she had been forced to turn her head to the left and down with her chin practically on her shoulder. This was to help force the left muscles of the esophagus to push the food along.
What they saw on that video scan changed things. My mother has a pouch in her throat. It is a pre-existing condition. Her personal doctor has recommended surgery a couple years or so back, but she refused because she didn't want to leave dad home alone while she was in hospital. Somewhat ironic as things turned out.
It is my opinion this pouch was more the culprit with her swallowing situation than her stroke. Nonetheless, on the 40th day of her rehabilitation she had made great progress within the last 10 days. Her left leg had become mobile again. She still couldn't "stand and pivot," meaning she couldn't walk, but the Occupational Therapist told me the problem was her right leg was too week to support the left. It was certainly possible with continuing therapy this might be strengthen enough to allow her to stand. If it couldn't she would be limited to a wheelchair, but people can propel a wheel chair with their feet and at this point that seemed a possibility. And she was now able to eat normal meals portending a time when she might actually be rid of the feeding tube.
Everything was looking good.
Then on the 42nd day A-As-In-Hole Insurance Company cut the strings.
On the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend they sent notice that they would no longer provide coverage for her therapy because she had plateaued, as they called it, and no progress was being made.
The insurance coverage ended on May 28 and so did her therapy and so did her eating of any real food.
TO BE CONTINUED