Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday March 29th, 2011

Hello Dear Friends,

Mike was away on business in San Fransisco the past week. Sorry for a much delayed written update.

Josh has continued his positive progress, labeled as "the hardest working man in rehab" by his therapists. He is still working on standing, sitting, stretching, and bending. He is playing memory games, bingo, and trivia. It is paying off! His memory improves daily, but it is still drastically dependent on his energy level. He is beginning to recall important things more reliably and refers to a journal, his memory log, many times during the day to remember the more mundane happenings.

Today, when we were trying to remember the actor from Cocoon that resembles his doctor, Dr. Long, Josh was the first to remember "Wilford Brimley"! He also knew the Flinstones address in Bedrock during a game of trivia. He has created some sand art in Recreational Therapy and is practicing some newly learned jokes with everyone here.

He and his wonderful speech therapist, Jessica, did a survey project about the seasons last week to practice conversation and interaction. Now everyone in this complex knows him by name and greets him wherever we go.

Josh has begun to move his right hand and wrist! At first it was just the thumb, now he is squeezing an exercise ball, rotating his wrist and elbow very well, and completely nonplussed by our excitement about it all. "I don't see why it is so exciting." This is a fantastic improvement and means that his right arm, so slow to wake up, has begun to recover!

Josh has begun to talk about his dreams, to show signs of his signature wit, and to initiate conversational topics. But Josh still has some questions that he asks repetitively, "How old am I?" "What year is it?" "What happened to me?" Sometimes he knows the answers already and sometimes he wings it. He has told us twice he was in a snowmobile accident and today he asked if he had been in a plane crash. Luckily, when we remind him that he has asked these questions five times in the last few minutes, he thinks it is funny.

Josh also told us today he had a dream in which "He was almost addicted to grapes!"

We are so thankful for his positive attitude and sense of humor. It is a blessing
to see him shift in one week from his first Facebook status update of "Unhappy and at Rehab" to his second, "I am remembering everything"!

A heartfelt thank you to all the extra support this last week while Mike was away. It made the week do-able for Darling, Rose, and Josh. As always, a sincere thank you to all the blog followers, comments or no comments. Just knowing that you are thinking of Josh makes us so happy!

Josh will be at Bryn Mawr Rehab at least through the end of April.

Peace Out,
The Bonjos

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday March 28th, 2011

Josh has movement now in 3 places in his right arm.

We are consulting with a doctor tomorrow who will perform a
procedure to release the spasticity in Josh's ankles, probably next
week. After a week of healing, they will be working to get Josh
up on his feet again.

We are still working on his short term memory issues.

Thanks everybody for the cards and letters.

The Bonjos

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday March 17, 2011 St. Patrick's Day

Art courtesy of Alex Grey

Josh is still working hard in therapy. He is learning to use a slide board
to be able to slide in and out of bed to his wheelchair.

Josh was transitioned from chopped food to whole, soft food yesterday.
They served him a vege burger for lunch and he was very happy. He also
can drink thin liquids, under supervision, using a special straw that
limits intake.

Josh is struggling a bit with the short term memory retention that is
very normal with TBI. Some days he has trouble remembering what he ate
for lunch or who visited earlier in the day. We are combating this issue
by keeping a "memory book" logging all the events of the day and by
documenting visitors with photographs. It is a very emotional and trying
time, but we hope it will pass quickly.

Josh loves getting mail. Please send him magazine articles, jokes, pictures,
or whatever to:

Bryn Mawr Hospital
Attn: Josh Bonjo
414 Paoli Pike
Maple Ward
Malvern, PA 19355

Thanks again for all the prayers, love and support
and for bringing the trash cans down from the road!

The Bonjo Family

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thusday March 10th, 2011

Josh has been recovering very rapidly in some respects. That is what we have
been focusing on in the updates. Every new accomplishment, no matter how
small lifts us all up another inch out of the mire of this tragedy and gives
us the renewed hope and energy to face this challenge for another day.

At this time, we wanted to explain some of the challenges Josh is still facing, despite his rapid advances in speech and cognition.

Josh is able to help with his grooming, washing his face, brushing his teeth and other necessary tasks. He can assist with getting dressed a little bit. But his right side, especially his right arm and hand are still rebooting. He is using a cast-like splint for several hours a day to keep the arm extended and stretched. This week, his OT person Ann, thinks she is detecting voluntary movement in his thumb and shoulder. This type of one-sided temporary paralysis is common in the type of brain injury Josh has and we have all hope that his arm and hand will heal completely.

Josh is beginning to wiggles his toes. The doctors have asked us to encourage this "exercise" to strengthen the newly re-established neural pathways to his legs.

Josh's hips have a hard time flexing and bending which makes the wheelchair uncomfortable. That flex to a sitting position is getting better every day and he is much more at ease when in the wheelchair now.

Despite his rapid improvement with speech, Josh is really struggling with his
short term memory. When he is tired, his memory can last as little as
15 minutes with some things, which can be quite confusing but quite normal with TBI.

Despite these struggles, Josh remains polite and cheerful most times. It is great
to see him belly laughing at Rose doing a silly dance or at his roommate cursing
up a storm for no good reason. (That lifts us up 2 inches at a time.)

Josh will be at Bryn Mawr at the least for another month, maybe two or three. We hope he can stay long enough to overcome the larger hurdles of his recovery. After discharge, many months of outpatient therapy and family coaching will be necessary to get him further on down the road to self sufficiency.

We thank you again for your prayers, support and for just following Josh's
progress on the blog.

The Bonjos

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday March 7th, 2011

Not much new to report on. Josh is working hard in therapy.
He is tearing up the halls in a borrowed Jazzy Power Chair.

Thanks for the continued prayers and support!

The Bonjos

Artwork courtesy of Toshi.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Things are going well and Josh's abilities are improving daily. He is talking much more each day. Sometimes easily and spontaneously, sometimes much more effort is required. He is asking questions, asking for help, initiating conversations, and interacting with other patients. He sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in group pet therapy yesterday and remembered every word.

Josh has shown an easy ability to read,(including in Japanese!) but focus and stamina will continue to be an issue. He can only do a sentence or so before he needs a neural-rest. He got some new glasses and they seem to be aiding his vision. Most TBI patients have vision issues and Josh has said he is suffering at times from double vision.

Which just makes his every accomplishment so amazing. At every waking moment, Josh is working as hard as he can to communicate, assist himself, and connect with others. Just feeding himself a meal (he graduated to chopped foods this week!) is a strenuous process. He is exhausted at the end of the day and is sleeping well at night. His long-term and short-term memory is still foggy and will remain so for quite a while but his sense of humor is alive and well. Josh is laughing at family jokes and other silly spectacles. He is laughing at our clumsy attempts to understand what he is trying to communicate. And today he came cruising past his room, driving an electric wheelchair. He was running into one thing after another despite the help of PT and laughing loudly the whole time!

Many people have inquired about visiting. Please know that we are honored that you would like to visit, but Josh's needs must come first. Everything written about TBI patients reminds us that their capacity for coping is diminished. Just an extra visitor or two can make him anxious and stressed. Right now, his only visitors are his closest personal friends and immediate family. Their familiar faces and shared history make these visits enjoyable. A time will come when anyone and everyone can visit but it will be a while from now. For the time being , feel free to send cards or short letters in lieu of visits:

Josh Bonjo
Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital
414 Paoli Pike
Malvern, PA 19355
Maple Ward

Thank you for following his progress!
Much love,

The Bonjos