Why does it seem that we get less done when we have "days off" than when we are madly scurrying about following our usual busy schedule? Does that happen to anyone else, or am I just incredibly lazy when I don't have to get something done? On the heels of our snow days off school, we had a planned two-day school week, giving us Wednesday through Friday off. Unfortunately, Dale had PT scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, so neither he nor I got to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in. PT went well; Dale performed his usual exercises and even got some practice in falling. The therapist laid out a padded mat and proceeded to show Dale how much fun falling can be. She pretended to trip a few times, causing herself to sprawl on the mat, which, of course, set Dale laughing. Then, it was his turn. He willingly rolled off the Total Gym machine onto the mat. It took him a few seconds to stop shaking, realizing that, once he was down, there was nowhere else to go but up. She then had Dale stand and repeat the falling procedure several times, just letting him flop prostrate and then steady himself before getting to his knees. By the time he was done with that exercise, Dale didn't fear falling quite so much---although we've noticed that the fear still shadows his every movement.
We got home Wednesday in time for an early lunch (I keep typing the word "munch" by accident!). The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing about, then taking the girls up to church for teen soulwinning. We, of course, headed for church later that evening for the service. By the way, last week's service had to be held in one of the portables behind our main auditorium building because of the power outage. We were homebound due to ice and snow, but there were a select few who managed to get there. I imagine that time together will be a precious bonding memory for those who were present.
By Thursday, Dale had forgotten the therapist's instructions about not needing help around the house. He was back to whining and crying if he had to take any steps without holding on desperately to someone or something. By the time Chad got home from work that afternoon, I had had enough. I felt like Dale was no longer listening to me---I could talk until I was blue in the face, but his mind was made up; I felt like Dale had given up, was not willing to even try to walk any on his own; I felt like Dale had decided that this was as good as it gets and there was no need to try to improve past this point. Chad took over then, relieving me in many ways! He took Dale for a walk, giving him assistance for most of the time but making Dale walk on his own from the end of the street back to our driveway. It was then that Chad saw how Dale acts, hunching over, always reaching out for anything to grab, taking only a couple of steps before halting, constantly thinking he is going to fall. Chad gave Dale a good pep talk and laid out some guidelines for Dale to remember to follow on future walks. The rules are: (1) keep your arms down, not up around your shoulders because this is a sign of fear, and (2) walk foot-over-foot, not scooting crab-like because this is also a sign of fear. Chad even had Dale write these two rules down ten times each to firmly plant them in his mind. We are attempting to target the signs of Dale's fear and point them out to him so he can see when he is fearful and what he can physically do to overcome that fear. Chad further said that Dale needs to take a walk every day whether or not he had PT already. He's right---this should help Dale recover his ability to walk properly, confidently, and surely.
On Friday, Dale and I went to SP where he proceeded to work hard despite the numerous distractions that the therapist deliberately set in motion.......she turned on a cartoon; she set her computer to beep whenever she got a message; she tapped her pencil frequently. She is working with Dale to improve his ability to shut out distractions, keep his mind focused on the task at hand, and increase his endurance. Dale can usually work steadily for about 35 minutes before his brain begins to tire. She explained it like this: When someone first starts to run, they tire easily because they are out of shape. They must run for a short time at first, then gradually increase the time until they are able to run steadily for an hour or so. This does not come easily; they must work hard and endure being worn out to accomplish their goal. So it is with Dale's brain because of the injury. His brain is "out of shape" and must be exercised in order to get it back in shape. This takes a lot of hard work and leaves Dale tired mentally (and physically!), but the results will be worth it. It's interesting to watch Dale in SP. He starts out so well, listening and answering questions with minimal interruptions. When he hits that 35 - 40 minute mark, you can almost see the energy drain out of him. He slumps more in his chair; his eyes take on a slightly glazed look; he blinks more slowly. He'll listen to a question but take longer to respond. It's almost as if he has to catch himself, take a deep breath, and deliberately make his brain form the answer. But this is all good for him; he needs this mental exercise to get his brain back in shape. Even though he is responding well in SP and, in fact, is doing so well that the therapist is dropping him down to one session a week now, Dale still has a long way to go to be "back to normal."
I was really proud of him for keeping on with his routine even though, Friday morning, he woke up super shaky. His legs gave out twice just getting into the bathroom. Considering the bathroom is not that big an area, he had quite a workout getting off the floor! It was indeed a challenge for him to get dressed and groom himself. Then he had to face the dreaded stairs. We took our time and let him step down carefully one step at a time (as usual), but I think we were all relieved when he reached the bottom. Once we were in the van headed for SP, Dale was able to just sit for 40 minutes, and this helped steady him some. Maybe the medication is doing some good after all because, even though he was very shaky and had to deal with jerking limbs, Dale did not have a seizure. He hasn't had one in a week and a half. Yea!!!
***PRAISE POINT****Dale walked down the first flight of stairs in our house (seven steps) by himself this morning!!! He did not hold my hand at all; he used the handrail for support and took his time. On the last step, his leg weakened and he sat down heavily on the step behind him, but, when he was ready, he stood, regained his position on that last stair, and stepped down by himself. I'm so proud of him!!!
This afternoon, I took Dale for his walk. I teased him that we needed to put a leash on him since he was "going for a walk." He rather resented that! It took Dale about ten minutes to settle down and actually walk without jerking to a stop every three steps. Chad had said that Dale took about 30 steps without pausing the day before, and I was secretly determined to beat that record! So I like a little competition---what's wrong with that? Well........ Anyway, once Dale stopped over-thinking it, he was able to walk naturally, still needing to stop if he felt out of balance or got distracted. The simplest things distract him like a child riding her bike, a crack in the sidewalk, or litter. I finally realized that, the less attention I give the distractions when he mentions them, the less important they become, allowing Dale to resume to motion of walking. And the winner is.......DALE!!! He took 60 steps in a row without pausing! I was holding his hand, but he was not gripping my hand tightly or jerking along. He walked beautifully! When we reached the end house's driveway, I let go of Dale's hand and told him to walk on his own back home. I pinched the back of his jacket with two fingers which apparently gave him enough confidence and support to walk carefully back to our driveway. He was still hesitant, but he did it without complaint. Sixty small steps for Dale, one giant leap for his excited mama!!!
A couple of prayer requests: (1) On Monday afternoon, Dale will have an MRI done. The neurologist ordered the test, desiring to compare the results of this one with the MRI Dale had done back at Doernbecher in August. (I think he just wants to be sure Dale actually has a brain! :-} ) (2) On Tuesday afternoon, Dale will see the doctor to begin his neuro evaluation. The doctor wants to meet with him to get some idea of the tests that should be performed; I have no idea what to expect, so I cannot "prepare" Dale for this appointment. Please pray, not only for wisdom for the doctors involved, but for Dale's performance during these tests as well. I'm not sure Dale can hold still for the hour needed to complete the MRI, and I'm already worried that he will not "do well" on these neuro tests and seem less improved than he really is. I know these tests are not the pass/fail kind and are designed to best demonstrate how much Dale has healed and where he still needs help; I guess I'm just being a mom---I don't want anyone looking at my child and thinking he is slow, you know? I still cringe a bit in public, waiting for some unkind person or unknowing child to say, "Why do you have to hold his hand? Isn't he a little big for that?" This has never happened; in fact, just the opposite is true. We have gotten nothing but kind, caring glances and smiles from those who realize Dale's condition and see his need. We have even received offers of help from complete strangers in the elevator, going through a doorway, at the pharmacy. I know this is just the devil, that old snake, taking my fears and worries and magnifying them beyond proportion. I talk to God regularly about this, verbally giving Him my worries and then mentally shouldering them as I walk away. Eventually, when I 'm old and gray---or dead and in Heaven!---I will have learned to trust God implicitly without hesitation. For now, though, I'm still in the choose-to-trust-Him-every-day (every-hour!) phase. And, really, that's not a bad place to be, is it?
I Peter 5: 7 "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you."