These days, Michelle has been put on a schedule Monday through Friday at home to help improve her memory skills and keep her occupational and physical therapy going.
Her sister-in-law, Jennifer Gaines, helps her in the mornings, while family friend Leslie Laningham helps her in the afternoons.
In the mornings, Michelle exercises on the treadmill and does other physical therapy exercises the family learned from when she was in the hospital. Then, she has regular “brain” games she does on her Nook™ that improve her memory and critical thinking skills.
“She plays Happy Neurons, Lumosity and Bookworm,” Jennifer said. “Then she plays with playdough, one of the exercises they used to do with her which helps with her motor skills. When they stopped paying for it (physical therapy), we continued on with that to keep her on her toes.”
She also has a dry-erase board where she writes down the day of the week and date every day three times, five times a day. She also writes down when she has to take her medicine and keeps a notebook where she writes down everything she does during the day. She also keeps track of when to take medicines on her phone.
“I don’t remember what I did the day before if I don’t write it down,” Michelle said as she explained her routine at home Wednesday. “It’s like the movie ‘50 First Dates’ but not that bad.”
In the afternoon, Michelle exercises with her Wii™ fitness games and if she has time, reads a book on her Nook™.
“I think it works because it’s a routine for me. But we change it up a little so it’s not the same every day,” she said.
In the free time in the evenings when her dad is home with her, Michelle enjoys watching television, playing on her phone, going out to eat and shopping.
“I like watching ‘NCIS,’ ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Law and Order.’ I want to try Duck Dynasty too,” Michelle said.
Her remaining friend Liz Smith enjoys spending time with her.
“She’s my best friend, my only friend to stay by my side,” Michelle said.
Liz, who lives in Fairfield but owns Three Peaches shop in downtown Palestine, recently took Michelle to pick out her family’s Christmas tree at a Christmas tree farm in Fairfield.
“We had a great time. She let me pick out the tree,” Michelle said.
Since bringing the tree home, Michelle has decorated it herself, including hanging her favorite Texas Longhorns orange ornament on it.
“I’ve always liked the Longhorns, they are my favorite team,” Michelle said. “In NFL, I like the Minnesota Vikings because Adrian Peterson was in my grade in school.”
At Christmas, she is looking forward to spending time with her family, including her father; sister, Amanda Stanley, 29, of Gilmer; her brother, Jimmy Gaines, wife Jennifer and his family of Palestine; and others.
Ask Michelle about the future, and she’s hopeful. She would like to go back to school to take college courses. Her dream job would be to become a hyperbaric oxygen chamber nurse, as part of Michelle’s treatment was spending time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
In the spring, her father hopes to put her into some college classes.
“We will try to get her in at least one class and see what she does. I’ll never give up trying,” Mike said.