Praise the Lord for good days and bad days! Dale had a very good day Monday. PT was great! The therapist has quickly become dear to my heart because she did not even in the slightest way treat Dale like a small child. She treated him as a twelve-year-old boy who is trying to grow into adulthood and struggling with typical body changes as well as non-typical problems. She was soooo good with Dale, even though he cried nearly the whole time we were there! (I believe his crying was simply his way of expressing how frustrated he was at his body, his situation, and his lack of control over his surroundings.) She just ignored the tears and kept trying one activity after another until she found one that took Dale's mind off his problems. She had him getting down on the floor and crawling on his knees a bit, putting magnets in various metal places. (Those magnets were super strong; she said she got them at the NASA store.) I was the one flinching and trying to keep my hands off Dale, wanting to "help" him down and up. She was great; she told Dale to do something, then waited to see if he could do it before offering help. Even then, she asked Dale, "Do you want some help?" and explained to him that she believed he could do it on his own, but if he needed help, she would only give just a tiny bit "until you re-learn how to do this." She was so matter-of-fact about Dale's ability to move and think (at one point when he was interacting with her, she turned to me and said, "Oh, his brain works just fine, doesn't it?") that it was obvious he was gaining confidence in himself just by being around her. Everyone else---including me---tends to treat Dale with kid gloves, always acting like there is something wrong with him; in essence, we constantly remind him that things are different now and expect him to fail. This therapist told Dale, "If you show me you can do something once, I'll never ask you to do it again"---and then proved she would keep her word. She had Dale tapping on each leg with his hands, then added tapping the same foot as the hand. He cried, but he did it! He had never been asked to do that before, and I was pleasantly surprised to see he could do it. We walked out to the gym area where she introduced Dale to the treadmill. He took to that just great, pressing the button to start/stop and staying on it for four minutes. Then she had him try a cardio bike. In rehab, he would work on the NuStep (a "bike" with handles to pull and flat pedals to push). He always did this half-heartedly, needing constant reminders to keep going. We tried once to get him up on an adult tricyle in rehab---he screamed bloody murder. We didn't repeat the effort! But now, Dale swung one leg over the bike, settled onto the seat, and allowed her to help him with the pedal straps. Then, he began pumping his legs as if he'd been riding a bike every day for years!!! I was so happy to see this that I couldn't help crying. You know what they say: you never forget how to ride a bike! Dale proved this wonderfully well. Thank You, Lord!
We now have PT appointments tentatively scheduled for once a week through the end of the year. Twice a week would be even better, but we have to wrestle with our bank account for that. Plus, we hope to schedule SP appointments once a week as well. No OT appointments right now as Dale does not seem to need them quite as desperately as SP and PT. He does alot of OT at home just through everyday life---practicing tying his shoes, getting dressed, brushing his teeth, etc. Please pray that one of three things will happen: 1) God will lay it upon the heart of a wealthy benefactor to pay all our medical bills, 2) a financial aid program will come through to pay our co-pays (or more), or 3) we will discover a rich uncle who just died! I'm just kidding; we don't have any rich uncles! We are trusting God to supply this very great need, just as we trust Him to supply our everyday needs. And, frankly, with as staggeringly high as our medical bills have become and continue to grow, our everyday needs have become increasingly hard to meet. My husband is working steadily (thank You, Lord, for his job), and we have cashed out every possible retirement/savings account we could think of. The Bible tells us, "The just shall live by faith," and we intend to do just that. It isn't always easy, but we truly thank God for this opportunity to show Him how much we trust Him. Not many people get the chance to ever do that; we are blessed indeed.
Yesterday (Tuesday) was just a day. Not good, but not bad, either. Except for bedtime when I leaned over to give Dale a kiss, and he told me, "I hate you." THAT was bad moment for me. I tend to take things very personally, and that hurt. Thank God, my husband was there to hear this. He maintained his calm and explained to Dale that words can hurt. He further said that the word "hate" means more than just a feeling; it implies a desire to be rid of the person toward whom the hate is directed. Chad firmly but lovingly explained to Dale that he should never use that word in relation to a person, just sin and Satan. Dale understood and closed his eyes to sleep. I left the room and cried a bit---my son has always been very loving toward me, and it really hurt to have him express such a feeling about me. I know he didn't mean it quite the way it sounded (he was probably just expressing his feelings about the situation, his helplessness, and the fact that I am the one who makes him do things he doesn't want to like exercise, think, brush his teeth, work hard), but it still hurt. Yet one more thing I will be happy to look back on, once these ultra tough days are behind us.
Dale got to attend home room at school today. I didn't even go in the room with him (aren't you proud of me?), just informed the teacher he was there and walked away. I had a few questions for the school office, so I was able to distract myself while he was in class. Home room only lasted for about 10 minutes, and then I went back and got him. I picked up a copy of his class schedule; maybe tomorrow Dale can attend one or two of his classes and get used to being back at school. I think at this point that it is I who is hesitant to send him to class, just because I'm worried about his inability to sit still for long periods and his tendency to scream at the top of his lungs whenever he doesn't like something. We have been working with him to stop the screaming, but so far he seems to think this is his only recourse. Usually his screaming is directed at a specific action like someone else crying or everyone talking too much. In a family with five children, there is alot of talking! Still, we are reminding Dale that they have as much right to talk as anyone else, and he needs to control himself. In regards to school or church, his peers and teachers need to know what Dale is struggling with (standing up/sitting down repeatedly, screaming, etc.) so that they can better help him fit back into his life. He may get some looks from some people, but I think everyone is willing to help him and willing to overlook some behavioral quirks, too.
By the way, Dale is doing much better again climbing the stairs and getting in/out of the van. We have been doing extra leg exercises and practicing stepping, so that his muscle strength as well as his confidence has been improving. He now drinks from a cup without the use of a straw; he is getting up off the floor much more easily than before; and he is following the lists posted in the bathroom more readily. Yea!!!
Romans 15:5-6 "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."