Formerly "Neil Stone Updates"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Like Riding a Bicycle

A few days before Christmas found us uncharacteristically ready for the big day, so Scott suggested a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Poconos to ski/snowboard.  This was a major event as it would be Neil's first time back on the slopes since the accident.  His doctor had told us that after 18 months his brain would be just as physically stable as any one's, and if he wanted to try snowboarding again, he could.  Well, the 18-month mark hit in the middle of summer--not a particularly good time for winter sports, so this was his first opportunity.

I can't tell you how excited Neil was as he anticipated being up in the snow, participating in his favorite sport again.  We arranged for some time with an instructor--just to get him started back in the right direction, and gave him plenty of pep-talks about patience and lowering his expectations.  After all, his balance isn't what it was, and his left side is still showing signs of impairment.  But he insisted he was ready.

So we watched anxiously to see if snowboarding would turn out to be another lost skill--another disappointment for him.  The first ten or fifteen minutes were shaky.  I guess things didn't feel the same and he took a few spills.  But it didn't take long for the old familiar moves to come back and he figured out how to compensate for lost abilities.  He was soon on the lift and going down the easier paths.  I insisted he stay on green circle slopes, but I think his dad accidentally took him down a blue square path on the second day, and apparently, he did okay.  

Probably, the most difficult thing Neil found was that he tires very quickly, so building strength and stamina will be key for future outings.  But oh, what joy that he has this back in his life again!

If any friends want to invite him for a day on the slopes, just letting you know, he'll need a little help tying his boots, but he'll do fine on the mountain...and he'll love you forever!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In My Opinion

Nothing says Christmas quite like a frog in a Santa suit.

This one's for you, Amy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Tux

There's something about a man in a tux, isn't there?    

Eric wore the awesome outfit for his performance with the school's symphony orchestra last Wednesday.  He'll be wearing it for his Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band concerts as well.  Guess it will be hanging in the closet now, along with his Marching Band uniform.  Never mind how he plays, I think this is what makes him a real musician at last! :-)
Funny how a tuxedo seems to bring out one's inner James Bond...
Live and Let Die--Oh yeah!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What We Like About Kansas City

Cool architecture and fountains

Dogs on laps ...

On leashes ...

And in beds

BBQ at Oklahoma Joe's

Gluten free pizza at Spin 

Hand brewed root beer at McCoy's
And lest you think we only ate out, I submit the following evidence of real home cooking:

Preparing roasted tomatoes

Everyone helped

Brandon's turkey masterpiece

Butternut squash soup (Cute apron Alison!)

Enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving feast!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finis...For Now

CRP Therapists Jane and Julie

When Neil opened the door to his CRP class on Friday, all the patients and therapists shouted, "Surprise!"  There were balloons and a large poster that included his course completion certificate on it, along with notes and well-wishes from fellow classmates and therapists, both current and past.  Even though he knew it would be his last day, the big to-do wasn't expected.  You see, it is kind of a big deal that Neil is now finished with therapy at Kessler.  He's been there longer than nearly everyone.

Occupational Therapist Doug
Neil understands that he may be back for some more therapy in the future, but for now, it's time for a change.  His new schedule opens the door for better opportunities for work study.  So far, he's only had time to volunteer at the YMCA for a short time two days a week.  He's hoping soon to get a paying job.  We're also looking into other helps for him.

You can see from his smile in the pictures above, that Neil was feeling pretty good about the celebration and the tributes.  I was quite moved myself by the things that were said about him.  He is admired for his dedication and persistence, for his wonderful attitude, and for his cheerful and kind nature.  A mom couldn't be prouder.  

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Neil's Pumpkin

Neil's idea, Mom's execution.  He wanted it to have a craniectomy.  
I think a hungry squirrel got to his eyebrow.  Either that, or it's a scar from his auto accident!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Through a Glass, Darkly

Neil's Summer Beard
Since March of 2009 (two months after the accident) Neil has been wearing some kind of prism lens attached to his glasses.  Because his vision was changing relatively rapidly, the lenses were made of stick-on vinyl with fresnel prism lines running through them.  The eye doctor could easily change them out for a new prescription when needed.  We knew his glasses were an old correction as he had been wearing contacts most recently, but that was the least of our worries.  Correcting the damage to optic nerves and muscles was the more pressing issue.  You can enlarge the picture above by clicking on it and see the prisms.

For the last several months his vision hasn't changed.  As you can imagine, little sticky vinyl pieces can become worn and scratched in a short period of time.  Combine that with the tiny prism lines across his field of vision and you can understand how hard it might be to see much of anything.

A Visit to Dr. Vicci
A couple of weeks ago, at our trip to the eye doctor, the decision was made to get Neil some glasses with the prism ground into the lenses and a correct prescription.  Great news for Neil's current visual problems, but it does mean we accept that his progress has come to a bit of a stand-still.  He'll continue with his exercises, and some time down the road he may have some surgery.  I'm still hoping for improvement without the surgery.  In the mean time...

...he looks good and he can finally see!  It's like a whole new world for him.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When Does He Sleep?

Here's what Eric has been doing almost every day since August 30: 
Summer Band Camp - Photo by Dave Moore
Eric is in the red t-shirt and hat just left of the middle
Band camp lasted for ten hours each day for a week.  After school started they cut back to three hours a day.  

Leaving for a performance - photo by Mom

John Basilone Parade - Photo by Dave Moore

Football Game - Photo by Dave Moore
Eric is playing the baritone to the right of the color guard

BRHS Marching Band - Photo by Dave Moore
Eric is top right, just below the Sousaphone 
Among their many competitions this year, the band will be capping their season with a national championship contest in Indianapolis in November!   Eric loves the band experience, but with Seminary at 6:00 every morning, school by 7:00, practices, football games, competitions, trombone lessons, Scouts, and lots of homework, we don't see him very much.  I'm so proud of him, but I can't wait until November 15th when it's all over...unless the football team makes the play-offs.  Oh boy!

Monday, September 20, 2010


*Constraint-Induced Therapy

Neil signed a contract.  For five hours a day, five days a week, for ten weeks, he has agreed to cripple himself.  In the end, we've been promised a nice pay-off:  improved use of his left hand.

From the beginning Neil has had multiple issues that make his life difficult.  We've tried to address them all with a "little bit of everything" approach--Physical therapy for walking, balance, and strength;  Occupational therapy for his hand and arm, vision, and cognition;  Speech therapy for speech, social skills, memory, and more cognition; School for academics; volunteering opportunities and social groups for well-roundedness; and of course, church, prayer, and scripture study for spiritual growth and comfort.  As physical therapy was no longer needed, we added more cognitive therapy.  Although improvement and progress has been phenomenal since the accident, Neil has plateaued in many areas.

We're not ready for that yet.  We won't accept that this is all we're getting.  So now we're going for some more direct, intense therapy in just one or two areas at a time.  Although we're still including some of most of the aforementioned therapies and helps, we are going to focus right now on getting his left hand back.

His new constraint therapy requires a lot of time and commitment, and it's exhausting.  For those five hours each day, his right hand becomes immobile so that he has to rely on his left only.  Along with that, he has specific exercises that he has to complete--100 thumb stretches, 100 arm raises, 100 finger touches (X5--thumb to each finger), to name a few.  They may sound easy, but watch him touch each finger with his thumb, and you'll be tired yourself.  He must open each doorknob left-handed, eat with a fork (nearly impossible!), brush his teeth, and take off his t-shirt.  Wow!  Neil is my hero once again as I watch his determination and stamina.

Here's a link to a video of Neil's first day of therapy.  We're looking forward to some contrasting video at the end of the ten weeks to see how much he's improved.

Coming soon, we will be making decisions about his vision, and then trying some neurofeedback and psychotherapy.  So much to do, so much to do!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

When Food Talks

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Community Garden

Open Door Policy:  If the door isn't open, just make a new door.

Who needs the actual carrots when the greens are so tasty?

Yes, we have picked many for our own consumption, but in case you've forgotten, this is what the carrot greens used to look like:

You don't even need to wait until the tomatoes are ripe to eat them!

And if you enjoy it here that much, just move right in.  There's a lovely burrow under the zucchini hill.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where Have the Stones Been?

Here are some picture clues.  You might think a Terracotta Warrior would mean we were in China...but, no.
Well, here's my dad in the library.  And all dressed up, too.  I guess that's not much of a clue.
Here's me and my two moms.  Aren't I lucky?  But again, not much of a clue--we could be anywhere.
You may not know where we are, but I'll tell you what we're doing:  this is a game of Team Trivia.  You'd think, since our team was captained by the three-time Jeopardy! champion herself that we'd kick...well, you know what.  But we didn't... except one time.
Okay, this ought to make it easy for those who've been here before.  The monkey in the middle (as opposed to the two on the outsides) is made of towels.
Shuffleboard, anyone?  Hey, what's that you see in the background?

Here's a biggie:  The big white patch in the back is a glacier.
You've surely got it by now, but I'm not quite through showing off my pictures, so here's just a few more.
Sunset in the Last Frontier.
Approaching Juneau.
Exploring the ship.
Schmoozing with the cruise director.
Dancing with my honey.
Enjoying my family!

And if you're not tired of seeing my family enjoy a vacation of a lifetime, stroll on over to Alison's blog to see some more pictures :-) (Plus, see a really cool video of a glacier calving and hear me cry out excitedly to Eric!)

Sunday, August 8, 2010