Next up on Team JM is Shannon Vogt - John Michael's AMAZING Speech Therapist. Shannon has also been with us since the day after we came home from The Shepherd Center. Not sure where to even begin. We are beyond grateful for Shannon and all she has done for John Michael. He has made, and continues to make, tremendous strides with Shannon.
For those who may not know. John Michael could not move his tongue or even open his mouth on command after his stroke. He was also on a feeding tube. A few weeks before leaving The Shepherd Center I asked to use Vital Stim (electrical stimulation pads) on his face and throat. Two weeks later he passed his first swallow study and was cleared for soft foods - pudding, mashed potatoes, yogurt, etc. When we came home, Shannon took the course to become trained - you need a certification to be able to use Vital Stim. We used it 5 days a week for months. He slowly began eating more pureed foods (actually anything I could puree I did). Five months later he was off the feeding tube! Which by the way I was told he would never be able to do! I am happy to say John Michael eats a normal diet. I'm not sure exactly when he was first able to, but he can open his mouth freely and stick his tongue out. In the last few months he has started being able to move his tongue laterally! Yes, after 5 and 1/2 years his tongue waking up! This may not seem like much, but he needs this for chewing to be able to manipulate the food around his mouth. When he eats, we have to put the food in his cheek so he can begin to chew. The tongue moving laterally means we can put the food midline - again, it may not seem like much, but it's a big deal!
As for as his speech, he is talking! Again, for those who may not know, we had a crazy, but very efficient, spelling system so John Michale could communicate with us. We haven't had to spell in a very long time - probably 2 years. It is a lot of lip reading due to lack of breath support, so if you are not around him often, it can be challenging to understand what he is saying. Some days and times are better than others - he might say a whole sentence that is completely audible and articulate! Shannon and John Michael work very hard on this. We have a tub full of breathing devices. Shannon is another out of the box thinker, constantly researching and trialing products. She indulges me when I ask her to try something and is extremely dedicated to getting John Michael speaking so everyone can understand him. They do a lot of reading aloud - sometimes poetry, sometimes lyrics to their favorite country music songs. Shannon has so many devices, therapies and techniques that it is hard to fit them all in. Sometimes she combines multiple things at one time. In the picture where John Michael is reclined in his chair, he is doing the EM Scuplt on his abs, reading aloud while wearing red glasses, lasering and vibrating his vocal chords and holding another Rezzimax for vibration in his right hand. The EM Scuplt helps with vocalization and the vibration in the hand and red glasses help stimulate the brain. Crazy stuff, but it's working!
What can I say about Shannon - she is humble, kind and very flexible when it comes to our schedule! She and John Michael have a special bond. Shannon had actually met John Michael years ago in Costco with her husband. John Michael was probably 9. Who would have known then that she would be such a big part of his life. She loves to give John Michael fun gifts that so often make us laugh. John Michael has turned her into a big lacrosse fan - he has taught her all about the game. They share Netflix recommendations and are fierce competitors at online Scrabble. They are more than client/therapist, they are friends.
Thank you could never be enough for ALL she has done for John Michael. Keep the prayers coming for more breath support for a louder voice - they are working!
So during my prayer time I always read scripture. Sometimes a verse just hits me and I find it interesting to look up the different biblical translations. In the gospel of Mark there is a story of Jesus healing a deaf and a mute man. Here is the short version - some people brought this man to Jesus and begged him to place his hand on him. "He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to the man 'Be opened'". It goes on to say .."his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly". This is from Mark 7:35 in The New International Version. Here are a few other translations.
...he was able to use his tongue so he spoke clearly. EXB
...his tongue was made loose and he spoke clearly. NLV
...his tongue was untied and he began to speak normally. TPT
Prayer request - that John Michael would be able to use his tongue and it would be loosened, loose, untied so he will begin speaking plainly, clearly, normally - AMEN!
Love to all,