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I Need a Vacation

We’ve been home almost a month now, and are slowly getting into the swing of things and a routine.

Here’s a list of the top 10 things we’ve learned since being home:
10. It’s HIGHLY important to make sure the locks on the chair are engaged…especially on hills.
9.  You can actually chase a pea around your plate for 20 minutes.
8.  People stare in stores.  It’s a moral imperative to scare them.
7.  Tickle therapy works wonders!
6.  Ice cube therapy not so much.
5.  Fear-that-you’ll-be-dressed-like-a-James-Bond-girl-for-the-rest-of-your-life therapy works too!
4.  Never watch anything with a split timeline (15 minutes of the first episode of Lost nearly sent us back to the hospital)
3.  Throat punches are an effective anti-therapy
2.  It is not appropriate to yell, “I am Cornholio!” in your best Beavis voice when she gets stuck taking her shirt off.

And the number 1 thing we’ve learned since being home is:
1.  No matter how disabled they are, never, EVER, ask a woman to give up some of her closet space even if she can’t get in there in the chair.

Anissa’s spirits are still as high as ever.  I think mainly due to the constant variety of things going on.

If you sat in a hospital bed for 3 months, and the only thing you wanted was to get home, do you think you’d be happy if all that was going on at home was the TV?  So I guess it’s a good thing that the TV broke before the super bowl, and it took them 3 tries (and a month and a half) to get it fixed.  BTW, I don’t recommend a Samsung…companies should stand by their products…Geek Squad was fairly helpful, but the whole process was just frustrating as heck and one less headache I didn’t need.

Thankfully, the weather broke here some last weekend.  That allowed the kids to get outside and play.  Apparently our house is going to be that house that the neighborhood kids congregate at.  I’m more than good with that.  Last weekend, there were kids here all day every day.  Running in and out, climbing trees, riding bikes, playing tag, and buying ice cream from the ice cream truck (it was THAT nice out), prompting Rachael to say, “This was the best weekend since we’ve moved up here!”

They need to relieve stress too.

They don’t need schedules.

They don’t need parents nipping at them to get their chores done.

They need fun.

They need laughter.

They need skinned knees.

They need to just be kids.

They are helping out big time around the house, and being very thoughtful of what mom can and cannot accomplish just yet.  They’re making their lunches at night before school.  They’re involving mom in their homework and playing some board games with her.  Rachael is probably the most help, because she can actually cook!  More on that in a moment.

Cognitively, and I’ll go into more detail a little further down, she’s doing remarkably well.  Conversations with her are similar to what she was before.  She’s lost some things, but nothing that I’ve found yet that had any emotional weight to it.  For example, she forgot what ice cream was.  Some may think that’s sad, but think about being able to experience THAT again.  Also, once she experiences it, she’s remembering what it was.  She may struggle to remember a name, but that’s getting better all the time too.  Think of when you want to describe something, and it’s on the tip of your tongue.  She has those moments more than most people these days, but even that’s decreasing.

Her humor is still unparalleled.  She’s still funnier than Margaret Cho!

Physically, she’s progressing, but it’s slow.  She’s now able to transfer herself from her chair to the couch.  Try it some time.  One sided.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  Actually, while you’re reading this, pick your right leg off the ground and try to stand up from a sitting position using just your left leg and arm.  Then try to pivot 90 degrees to sit on something else.  Then try it with shoes on and while on carpet.  Then try it with a couple of drinks in you to throw off your balance (the effects of the injury and her meds).

Then put your right leg in.

And now pull your right leg out.

Put your right leg in and shake it all about.

Yeah, that’s me making it harder on her.  I’m constantly cracking jokes or asking questions while she’s doing this.  I’m trying to work on her multi-tasking at everything, because, in my opinion, sometimes you’ve got to run before you crawl.  If our goal was to just be able to move her leg, then I’d let her concentrate.  But our goal is for her to be able to walk and talk at the same time.  Once she shows me that she can do something, I try to up the level of difficulty.  The therapists can let her focus.  The kids need more.  Our family needs more.  In our house and life, there isn’t all that much time to concentrate, so I’m trying to simulate real world activities.  So, EVERYTHING becomes therapy.  Everything.  She doesn’t need comfort now.  She doesn’t need pity.  She needs help and guidance.  She needs Burgess Meredith pushing her harder.

Next week I’m planning on tying her legs together and making her chase a chicken.



Yep.  I’m becoming a therapist.

Her right leg is getting stronger daily.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of fine control yet, but just last night, from a sitting position, she was able to lift it up a few inches.  When she lays down for a nap or exercise, she’s able to bring her leg up with her, avoid the chair with it, and use it some to help scootch her up in the bed.  Minimal ankle movement/stability so far, but I’m the eternal optimist.  When she does a big yawn and a stretch in the morning, that ankle tightens up and the toes point, which is similar to how the top half of her leg started waking up.

The best analogy to all of this that I can think of is probably if you were to leave your house for a few months, you’d probably turn everything off.  When you came back, you’d have to systematically go through and turn things on again.  One by one, things are turning on for her, just very S-L-O-W-L-Y.

She’s now able to activate her right shoulder.  She has more power pulling it down/back but can also push it forward, bend SOME at the elbow and we’re starting to see SOME random/uncontrolled movements in her fingers.

In her face, the left side of her jaw is so tight she can’t open her mouth up more than 9 millimeters.  They’re going to try botox to loosen that up this week.  She’s starting to slur her words because her mind is finally moving faster than her mouth is.  I keep envisioning that there’s a magic button that will make that work.  I’ve been having this recurring dream.  In that dream, her mouth just starts working normally again, and I keep asking her what we did to get it to work, but she’s so damn excited that it’s working, she doesn’t stop to tell me.

Kinda frustrating for it to be just out of reach…daily.  But, at least it’s starting to be within sight, and that’s what keeps me going.  Those little baby steps here and there.  The other day, I did actually get to see her walk about 10 feet with the help of 2 people and a walker.  One was making sure she didn’t tip over and the other was helping straighten her right leg when she brought it down.  Not all that graceful just yet, but definitely progressing.

I do need to share one funny thing that happened this weekend.

This weekend, the weather was not so nice, but Rachael had a friend, Katie, sleep over.  There were late night movies and pillow fights and the only casualty that night was one popped air mattress.  The next morning, however, was a different story.  The girls, both 8, did the sweetest thing.  They made breakfast for everyone.  It was so special.  They were hopping around the kitchen doing things without much supervision and having a ball.  The goal was muffins and pancakes.  The result was something different.  The muffins were awesome.  The pancakes were made with love and chocolate chips.  They even made a super special big one for Anissa.  Whatever I write about them simply won’t do them justice.  They were awful.  The consistency of the sole of a shoe, and probably not much difference in taste.  You could literally play frisbee with them.

I couldn’t keep a straight face and had to keep looking away to not laugh and crush their effort.

Anissa, however, thanks to the facial weakness kept a straight face and looked me dead in the eye and said, “These are wonderful!  You girls did such a great job, why don’t you give Peter two.  He’ll be happy to eat them.”

Like I said…she’s doing pretty well cognitively, and EVERYTHING is therapy.

80 Comments on “I Need a Vacation”

  1. #1 mommabird2345
    on Mar 15th, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Yay for progress!! SUPER BIG YAY for seeing Anissa on twitter again!!! 🙂 God Bless you all. *Hugs*

  2. #2 Chibi Jeebs
    on Mar 15th, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Another awesome update – love it! 🙂

    My brother was in a car accident and broke all four limbs. Mom and I had to transfer him from hospital bed to wheelchair to couch using a transfer board (they wanted us to use some sling deal, but we’re both just barely over 5′ and he’s 6’2 and weighed 230lbs). I can only imagine how difficult it is for Anissa to do it with only half of her body.

    That being said, if anyone can do it, I have no doubt it’s Anissa. <3

  3. #3 Janine (@twincident)
    on Mar 15th, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Best update ever. I giggled my way through the whole thing.

  4. #4 Jennifer
    on Mar 15th, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Every time I read an update I remember back to this post she wrote on Aiming Low about how you wanted her to learn how to light the pilot light on the water heater and she asked you if you knew how to make a pot roast. I smile every time I think about it because she was right and she survived and is getting well and will one day make pot roast and you really should get her to teach you how when she does.

  5. #5 melody
    on Mar 16th, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Loved reading this update. *big smile*

  6. #6 The Stiletto Mom
    on Mar 16th, 2010 at 8:51 am

    “I am Cornholio!” **SNORT**

    So glad you guys are doing well. Keep it up Anissa!!!

  7. #7 Mary @ Holy Mackerel
    on Mar 16th, 2010 at 11:30 am

    So wonderful to hear about all this amazing progression!! Yay!!!! Can’t wait for the next instalment, when Anissa will surely be turning cartwheels in the grass! Big hugs!

  8. #8 Mrs. Schmitty
    on Mar 16th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I love how you are using humor to help you. I guess there is a reason they say it is the best medicine!! I am so happy to hear Anissa is progressing so well and also that the kids have been able to be just that-KIDS! P.S. I spit out my drink after I read the Cornholio bit!

  9. #9 mamikaze
    on Mar 16th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I love the “I am Cornholio!” I say that all the time when my daughter (who is 5 and had a perinatal stroke, so we have similar issues) gets her shirt stuck. No very many other people find it humorous. But you have to do it for the sake of everyone’s sanity. It’s a service you provide as the caregiver.

    As far as the Botox, there are also cranial-sacral therapy and massage options that help with no toxic side effects for hypertonic (super tight) muscles. The benefit:risk ratio is sketchy. This is my mother of a special-needs child talking. I humbly suggest a consultation with a chiropractor. Soon you’ll be spouting therapeutic info like a broken fire hydrant, too!

    I am so happy that things are improving, for all of you. I wish you all the best! Give Anissa a kiss from me.

  10. #10 Zakary
    on Mar 16th, 2010 at 3:44 pm


  11. #11 Michelle
    on Mar 16th, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    it makes my heart so happy to read your posts! Anissa, i am so glad you are doing so well and am looking forward to you writing your own blog in your own time (not that Pete’s blog isnt fantastic!)..

    Hang in there guys. We are all pulling for you!

    Anissa…YOU GO GIRL! GO GET ‘EM!


  12. #12 lceel
    on Mar 17th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I was involved in a little meetup this last weekend – Mishi and Nap Warden and a few others were there. You have no idea what a hero Anissa has become. You have no idea what a hero YOU have become, Sir.

  13. #13 Jessica (@ It's my life...)
    on Mar 18th, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Sounds like it’s therapy for you too!
    Hey! Maybe chewing those pancakes is what makes that mouth start working again. Order up a whole new batch and make Anissa eat em’ all! 😉

    Can’t tell you how heartwarming it is to “hear” you all laughing again.

  14. #14 Karl
    on Mar 18th, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Way to go, Anissa. By the time I get there next month for a visit, you’ll be dancing the cha-cha.

  15. #15 Bill
    on Mar 18th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    First … WOW! But from everything I’ve read and talked with you about, I doubt you expected anything less from Anissa. But still, WOW!

    Second … I totally didn’t get the Burgess Meredith comment until I saw the reply from Cindy W. Duh …

    Third … Cornholio is my idol!

  16. #16 Janet
    on Mar 18th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    why don’t you give Peter two. He’ll be happy to eat them

    Hahahahaha…she got you good! And I love it because that’s our girl, through and through.

    Anissa is so lucky to have such a wonderful family standing beside her. Cheers to all of you and cheers to her for fighting each and every day. Love to all xoxo

  17. #17 Janet
    on Mar 18th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    HAHAHAHA…awesome, Steph!

  18. #18 Roxanna
    on Mar 19th, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Hi there Peter and family!

    This is the first time that I’ve left a comment on your blog, but today, I needed to.

    I’m not sure how I can across your blog. I know it was after Anissa’s stroke – I think Redneckmommy had a link… yes, that’s right, she did. Anyhoo, as one of her regular readers I followed the link and since then have kept up with you all.

    So anyway, I just have to say that you are doing a great job. You have a lovely family, and I am so thrilled that Anissa is doing so well. It makes my heart happy, and quite often you make me laugh out loud – literally – with how you write (Cornholio!).

    Take care, and with good thoughts and prayers from my part of Canada to you and yours,


  19. #19 mayhewp
    on Mar 20th, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Ok, but Denzel better play me in the made for tv movie! Seriously..more like Jack Black…

    Thanks for the kind words, but I’m just a normal guy doing whatever I can to fix my family.

  20. #20 A'lis Richardson
    on Mar 20th, 2010 at 11:56 am

    So wonderful to read about all of Anissa’s progress. And it’s AWESOME to see Anissa posting on Twitter again!!! GO ANISSA!!!

  21. #21 Jennifer Quinn
    on Mar 21st, 2010 at 6:08 am

    YAY! I cannot imagine the journey you have all been on, but how amazingly wonderful to read this post! May God continue to bless you indeed! <3 Jenn

  22. #22 Karen Hartzell
    on Mar 21st, 2010 at 11:40 am

    LOL I hope you enjoyed your two pancakes. What an amazing family you are. The love is beautiful and I appreciate you putting everything out there to keep us all up to date on Anissa’s progress. Your posts are a joy to read, even when the subject matter is difficult.

  23. #23 Diana, The Doggy Mommy
    on Mar 22nd, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I have been away for a while taking care of some major renovations at my house. I couldn’t wait to get back here to learn of her progress!

    I am so happy for you Mayhew family! Thank you God for the miracles! Keep em coming!

  24. #24 John Darrow
    on Mar 24th, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Number 8 is my favorite!

  25. #25 Shawna
    on Mar 24th, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I just found your blog and I’m truly amazed by you and your family.

  26. #26 Kaza
    on Mar 24th, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Amazing, just amazing. I finally saw an Anissa tweet the other day and nearly cried w/ happiness. Praying for more of the same, every day for you guys.

  27. #27 Will Fitzgerald
    on Mar 29th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Having a sense of humor, I’ve found, is one of the best medicines around. It really does make people feel better. And Anissa you are so right about rediscovering ice cream!! Stay strong!

  28. #28 bluecottonmemory
    on Mar 30th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Humor, Hope and Faith are an awesome combination! Besides ice cream, you need to try I Love Lucy shows! I’d love to be able to see them for the first time again! You are an amazing family:)

  29. #29 anymommy
    on Mar 31st, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Pulling for you out here in Washington!! Always.

  30. #30 Aimee Greeblemonkey
    on Apr 1st, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Closet space fighting is a good thing. 🙂