Thank you all so very much for all your prayers for our brother, Tim Klenk. It has been awhile since we have gotten an update from the Klenks, but we wanted to share this final update of great news with you:
Dear Family and friends.
When I wrote our 7th update, Tim had just started outpatient therapy at Lee Memorial Hospital in Florida which he continued from February - April. The therapists were excellent and he made good progress with his leg becoming stronger, his gait better, his arm having greater range of motion and flexibility, and his speech making slow but steady improvement .
We left Florida in late April and made our way home to Wheaton . Our main reason for coming back was to complete the process of getting our house ready to sell since we have decided to change our state of residency to Florida. We expected our house to be nearly ready when we arrived since we had some work done on it during the winter. However, we discovered that we had had hail and wind damage to the exterior and it took our insurance company eight weeks to determine that they would cover new siding, roof, and gutters. Even though it was a big setback time wise, we thought it was worth doing. We are now expecting to put our house on the market in the next couple of weeks so the pressure is on for us to get our personal possessions out as soon as possible. This is especially challenging since we will be downsizing to a small apartment from a four-bedroom house where we have lived for our entire married life (43 years).
Tim started outpatient therapy here in Wheaton at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital again as soon as we returned. (He was an inpatient there for the first month after his stroke.) Since he was starting a new routine, I was planning to send out an update then. However, Tim wanted to compete in the 5K "Run for the STARS" which our church has every year benefiting our STARS Disability Ministry. We have always enjoyed running in it each year as it's a personal challenge to just see if we can still do it. Tim asked therapists in both Florida and Illinois if they could help prepare him to walk the 3.2 miles. Despite some misgivings, they were willing to try. So with their help he prepared and completed the race. He was the last person to cross the finish line in a "blistering" one hour and 35 minutes. He got a a standing ovation from the awaiting crowd and a gold medal which he promptly and proudly dubbed his "Last Place" medal. He was pretty tired at the end but very happy to have done it. I was very proud of him! Click here to see a video of Tim crossing the finish line.
Shortly after we arrived back in Illinois, Tim took a driving test at Marianjoy to determine if he would be physically and cognitively able to drive safely. He passed the test just fine. Then he had another goal in mind about which the therapists were very negative - to be able to ride a bike again. One day he found my old girl's bike which does not have hand brakes and got on it. He found he could do it and since then we have taken several five and six-mile bike rides. So far, there have been no broken bones and the doctor says that since he hasn't killed himself so far, he guesses it's okay to continue riding. You can see a video of Tim riding the bike (after he returned home from his first ride) by clicking here.
Most of you know that one hobby Tim and I have always enjoyed is flying small airplanes. Tim has a flying lesson scheduled for tomorrow. As he puts it, he really wants to see if he can still take off and land. He has no delusions about flying but, whether he can or not, it will be fun for him to go up again and just get the feel of the airplane.
Tim's last official day of therapy was last Friday (6/15/12), so now it is up to him to do his home exercises to continue to make improvements. He has so many exercises he can't possibly do them all in one day, so we are trying to come up with a plan for each day of the week to spread them out. The goal of these exercises is to increase his strength, flexibility, and motor control.
Tim continues to have weakness on his right side, but he is walking quite well and has no trouble going up and down stairs. His arm still needs a lot of work to regain mobility, flexibility, and usefulness. A couple of weeks ago, he was given several injections of botox in his arm! Botox causes the muscles to relax which in turn help to give him more flexibility. He works hard on stretching exercises, especially the ones for extension of his elbow, wrist and fingers. The natural tendency of the body following a stroke is that the muscles want to draw up or flex so it's a battle to make them extend. He hopes to regain more use of his fingers in time so that he will eventually be able to type and write. He's right-handed but has had to learn to do almost everything with his left hand. The therapists tell us that the fine motor control is always the most difficult to regain.
Tim's speech is still difficult but he can usually be understood. If you talk to him, I encourage you to ask him to repeat anything you do not understand. That way, he can keep improving and do what it takes to make himself understood.
This will probably be our last update as we don't want to fill your inbox with unnecessary emails. We both want to thank you all for your kindness, interest, concern, cards and prayers. They have meant a lot to us. We are grateful for a supportive community of friends and family and for a loving God who gives us much joy in the midst of many challenges.
P.S. from Tim-
Jo has done such a good job of updating you that I hesitate to jump in but I want to personally thank you for your love and care and for the many cards you have sent. You will be glad to know that I am typing with all ten fingers. However, I often have to hold my right hand up with my left and it is taking 50 times as long to type with all my fingers, so I think I will go back to my one-finger method for the rest of this P.S.
Those of you who have spoken to me recently will know what I mean when I say I have a long way to go in the speech department, but most say that with some difficulty, they can generally understand what I mean. I may have told you that the muscles in my face aren't working well which makes it difficult to get my lips in the right shapes to articulate the different sounds we use when we speak. Recently, I also found out that my soft palate doesn't always lift appropriately. So it is hard to separate the nasal and oral sounds. Did you know that it is possible to measure the strength of your tongue? The average for a man my age is 55 (psi?). Mine is now about 28 which is okay, but it sometimes interferes with my ability to move my tongue quickly enough to change from one sound to another. The excess of saliva in my mouth doesn't help either.
Jo also told you that, last Saturday, I walked the "Run for the STARS" 5K. I had practiced walking that distance to see if I could do it and found that if I walked 30 minute miles I could make it. Our daughter Lyn walked with me (Jo ran ahead and came in second in her age category). Lyn and I did the miles in exactly 30 minutes each. I'm continuing to practice though and this week I cut more than four minutes from my time for a mile. I figure that, if I can do that each week, I will be unbeatable! So next year, watch out for rocket-man!
After going flying tomorrow, I have to stop testing the limits of what I can do, and get down to serious business like getting the muscles in my arm and wrist to loosen up so they are straight--and like trying to type with all ten fingers. My formal therapy is now over and my improvement is going to depend on how hard I work.
I thank you all for your kindness, interest and concern. I cannot tell you how much your thoughts and prayers have meant to us and the importance to me of God's care and Jo's love and care. Tell her congratulations for hanging in there with me. She has been a tremendous encouragement and help.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends and supporters in Philippi from jail (his letter became the book of Philippians in the Bible), he told them to "rejoice in the Lord always." (Philippians 4:4) There have been some challenging days for us and I expect there are more ahead, but I honestly can't think of a day when we haven't felt overwhelmed by God's love - and yours. We have been rejoicing in the Lord every one of them since my stroke.
Please continue to join with us in praying for Tim's full recovery and Jo, as she walks through this with him. They are both extremely grateful for all your prayers.
May the Lord bless and keep you in His perfect. . .
Grace and Peace,