Whoo-hoo! Score one for the home team! Or, at least, Mom and Dad. Today at PT, I explained to the therapist how shaky and unsteady Dale is and how he has no confidence in walking on his own at all. I was rather concerned because we used to take walks around the neighborhood (before he started school) or at the store, and it seems he can no longer do that. The more his legs feel weakened, the more he feels the need to hold on---tightly---to someone for support and the less inclined he is to even try. He seems to focus so much on falling instead of focusing on succeeding. The therapist first made sure that this was not something new that the neurologist was unaware of---and it's not; this has been going on for some weeks now---before she decided to test Dale a bit. She had him demonstrate the "homework" exercises he has been doing for a week or so now. He gets on all fours, then extends one leg back and the opposite arm forward for three counts before lowering those limbs back to the floor. This is repeated ten times before switching to the other opposite limbs. Next, Dale lies on his back with his knees bent and his feet flat on the floor. He lifts his pelvis for three counts, then lowers himself back to the floor. Again, this is repeated ten times. Next, Dale sits up and extends his legs straight out. After adjusting a long belt around the ball of one foot, he will pull back on the straps of the belt, pulling his foot forward. This helps gain range of motion in his ankles. He performs this exercise on each foot ten times, for a count of three each time. Next, Dale will stand up and lightly hold someone's hands for support. He will raise up on his tiptoes, hold for three seconds, and then lower his heels back to the floor. This, too, helps strengthen his ankles. We also added an exercise in which Dale holds his slingshot and pulls back on the sling past the inside elbow of the arm holding the slingshot. This, hopefully, will strengthen his arms and hands.
The therapist asked Dale to stretch out on the padded "mat table" to show her these exercises. She motioned for me to step back and let Dale figure out how to get into position on his own. (She knows I tend to be over-helpful at times; I seem to have been brainwashed by my loving son into thinking that he cannot do things when, to be honest, he is able to do them just fine! Case in point: Dale can stand up, position himself, and play the Kinect whenever he wants; he can walk to the table to pick up his own cup when he's thirsty and no one is around to bring him his drink; he can stand, walk to the X Box, and load a movie or video game when he wants to. I believe more than half of his lack of confidence and fear of falling is ALL IN HIS HEAD!!!) She observed Dale grunting a bit but managing to get into position and perform the exercises with astounding ease and decided it was time for some "tough love." She told Dale that there will be no more hand holding at PT, that he needed to walk around the PT gym on his own, and that he needed to do the same while at home. He immediately began crying and saying, "No, I can't do it." We spent nearly the entire time proving to Dale that he could walk on his own.......he just had to be made to do so. She promised Dale that she would not let him fall. She told him, "If you fall, what do I owe you?" He decided he wanted a whole pad of stickers (he usually gets a couple each time he goes; the dresser in his room is where he displays them---it is almost completely covered now!). Then began the task of forcing Dale to walk on his own. Truly, we were not trying to be mean or cruel; he needed to be shown that he could do it. Chad and I have been trying to encourage Dale to do more for himself, but he insisted he couldn't. You know how, at home, your child cries and says something is too hard---but, when they get to school, the teacher says, "You must do this," and, somehow, they manage to get it done? That's exactly what happened at PT today. I stood in front of Dale, walking backwards (something I learned while teaching K4!), and the therapist stood behind Dale, lightly grasping the back of his shirt. He cried and snivelled---BUT HE WALKED! Every few steps he would try to grab hold of something.....my hand, her hand, the wall. She explained (and demonstrated) to Dale that reaching for something to hold onto actually puts him more off-balance, increasing the chance of falling. I've been saying that all along!!! We had to constantly remind him to stand up straight (he likes to hunch over---she began calling him an old man) and step foot-over-foot instead of shuffling---BUT HE WALKED! We started in the main PT gym, turned left into and through the children's PT gym, turned left and walked down the hall, turned left and walked down the next hall, then turned left back into the main PT gym. The whole way I was saying, "Come on, Dale; you can do it. I believe you can do this!" By the time we got back to our starting point, he was a reluctant believer!!! We advanced the length of the PT gym into the small entrance hall where stands a skeleton named Mr. Bones. Dale enjoyed shaking Mr. Bones' hand. I tried to have Mr. Bones give Dale a kiss, but Mr. Bones was not so inclined. Turns out, everyone has their limit. (Just kidding.....I almost broke the neck in the attempt, though!) When Dale sat down to rest finally, we were all tired but happy.
The therapist then announced that Dale had more "homework." He is not allowed to hold anyone's hand inside the house. He must get his own drinks; he must walk down the hall under his own power to go somewhere; he is not an invalid. He accepted this news with more groans, but, inside, I believe he feels more confident in his ability to move on his own. In fact, when we got home, I called Chad and told him the therapist's report. When Dale heard me tell Dad and could tell that Dad agreed, he groaned again! :-) But, when I next went into the living room, Dale had gotten up from the couch, walked to the X Box, loaded a video game, and sat down in the recliner---all by himself. I was excited to see it and praised him for his efforts. His reply: "Well, you said I had to." I'VE BEEN SAYING THAT ALL ALONG! It just took the "teacher" repeating what Dad and Mom said to make it official. After lunch, I was (frankly) napping in the other room when I heard Dale walking down the hall. He said he needed to go to the bathroom. I was a good mom; I stayed on the couch until Dale had walked into the bathroom, closed the door, and (judging by the sounds!) sat down on the toilet. I can't say I was not tied in knots waiting for a thump that never came, but I stayed on the couch. He has been taking it easy the rest of the day, with the exception of walking on his own to and from the table for meals and drinks. I am very pleased by his new-found willingness to move.
Well, hopefully the President's State of the Union address is over by now so I can go back downstairs and watch TV. I know, I know.....I should pay more attention and listen to what he has to say. It's just hard to hear him speak without snorting in disagreement every other sentence. What's that Bible verse about "....whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just...."? All right, fine; I'll head for my prayer closet about it!
An update on the injured basketball player: He is continuing to heal. He still wears the big black brace on that arm. He is going to PT and, from some reports, is getting a bit frustrated because he is not progressing as quickly as he would like to. It will take time for his arm to get back to the range of motion and ability that he remembers. I'm sure he would have loved to be able to get back to playing basketball in time for the Presidents' Day Tournament which closes out our season. Please, if you would, continue to pray for his healing. I know he and his family would appreciate it greatly.
Thank you again for all the jokes and riddles that are posted. My whole family is getting a kick out of them!
Isaiah 40: 28 - 31 "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."