Yesterday Dale saw a pediatric neuropsychologist to begin the six-month assessment. (I am so not typing that label out ever again!) Dr. Crain is very nice, and Dale liked him.....which is good because Dale will be working with him over two three-hour appointments to assess how well Dale is doing, how much he has progressed, what still remains to be improved upon, and how well Dale and his family are coping with the injury and resulting challenges. Dr. Crain talked with Dale and I about an hour in his office, dividing his time between asking me questions and giving me information and asking Dale things and explaining the assessment tests to him. He was also helpful in telling Dale why certain things are still hard for him (like walking) and giving him practical tips to use to aid his brain in commanding his body. Basically, he told Dale to "PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!" When Dale said that the biggest problem he has is walking because sometimes he falls, the doctor questioned him as to why he falls. Dale responded, "My legs sometimes just give out." Then the doctor used this illustration: When you touch a hot stove, your fingertips send your brain information (about the temperature). This is called "bottom up" communication. Conversely, when you want to reach for something on the desk before you, your brain sends information to your arm (about direction). This is called "top down" communication. Dale's brain needs to work on the "top down" communication because his body doesn't always respond immediately or correctly to what his brain is saying or how his brain is directing it to move. And, as with anything worth doing, the way to improve those lines of communication is to......practice. Dale seemed to understand this explanation fairly well, although he didn't seem pleased at the doctor's suggestion that Dale help out with more chores in order to get in good practice. But, the doctor backed up the PT and Chad and I on the issue of walking daily in order to practice making the body listen to the brain. The doctor gave other good suggestions and ideas, but the main idea was to help Dale find ways to improve that "top down" communication and so improve his balance, walking, shaking, learning, attention span, etc. After the office visit, I was able to schedule those two appointments for February 14th and 21st; at these appointments, Dale will be in the room, going through the assessment tests (whatever they may be) while I stay outside. Studies have shown (and I have witnessed as a teacher) how different a child's performance level can be with a parent present as opposed to without---usually the test results drop because the child responds differently while Mom or Dad is in the room. My first reaction was to throw up a wall of defense. I do not like leaving my child of any age in a room alone with anyone I do not know well. However, when I voiced this concern, the doctor was kind and understanding, offering me his credentials to examine, his work record, and listing the various security background checks he had to undergo to be licensed in the state of Washington. He then added that I was welcome to sit on the bench in the hallway right outside the door and peek in the window every once in a while to make sure all was well. (Initially he had said I could sit in the waiting room or go to the nearby mall.) I appreciated his kindness and acceptance of my concerns; of course, I was the only one with those concerns. My husband, upon hearing of this out-of-the-room stipulation, merely remarked that "Dale is 13 now; he'll be fine." I know that! I am not (terribly) over-protective of my children, but I can be a mother bear if I feel my children are being threatened or treated unfairly or made fun of or looked down upon or........maybe I do have a problem!!! :-) Truly, I'm not that bad, and I do believe Dale will be fine during these tests. The other concern is about Dale's medication. Usually we up the dosage on Tuesdays (only for another couple of weeks until he reaches three pills twice a day), but the only three-hour blocks the receptionist could find were both on Tuesdays! So, after
Something else the doctor said yesterday that made me know God is still working in Dale's brain: He mentioned that, having worked in some big children's hospitals and having read many different MRI results in his career, he noticed that usually the MRI comes back normal. If the scan results show a problem, then the doctors know what specific injury has occurred and what they can/can't do to help. In Dale's case, the MRI came back normal but Dale still has issues ---which means his issues are not damage-related but rather working pathway-related. These are things we can help with; these are things we can work with. I don't understand much about the brain, and every doctor we've ever talked to has said the same thing: With as much study of the brain as there has been, there is still so much the doctors don't understand about the way it works and connects and communicates. BUT......I know the God Who made the brain, and I have direct access to Him at any time of the day or night. He knows my desires for my son, and He knows what is best for Dale. He knows what is wrong in Dale's brain and what is right. He knows what is still injured and what is healed. He will make "every thing beautiful in His time." And, for this moment, that's enough for me. I can rest.
Ecclesiastes 3: 11 "He hath made every thing beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."