“AA”, “Double-A”, Awesome Abbie! It has been an amazing day, and it’s only lunchtime!
Abbie woke up with smiles and in a good mood, so I knew we were going to have a pleasant day. In the bathtub she was so relaxed and really enjoyed the massage I gave her as the jets bubbled the water around her. I always wash her hair in the sink because it’s easier to keep water out of her still-open trach stoma. As I laid her on the counter, her little legs started going. It’s not unusual to get a left-right-left (or vice versa) movement in her legs, but three lifts in a row is about all she will do. Until today. She looked like she was going to walk off the counter, I lost count of how many times in a row she’d lift alternating legs, with her hips rotating a little as well. She would stop and grin at me, as if to say “Do you see what I’m doing??” I would heap the praise and admiration on her, and we’d start the whole cycle again. She must’ve done at least six rounds of leg lifting, and I was giggling with joy by the time her hair was washed.
I brought her to the family room to massage her and get her dressed for PT. I sat her up to put her hair in a pony tail, and was busy brushing it when I realized she was sitting up, holding her head straight and still for me as I brushed. It was so normal!!! I was using both my hands to fix her hair, instead of having to support or balance her. Even just one moment of doing something the way we used to has a sweetness I can’t describe. (Trust me, I sat here for a while trying to think of the words, and can’t find any)
On the way to therapy I just felt like everything has changed somehow…my thought was. “this feels like a prayer has been answered that I didn’t even know I prayed. I don’t even know what I prayed for specifically, but God has answered.”
Excited words tumbled out of my mouth as soon as Lynette came into the PT room. We decided to work on the recently-set goal of Abbie helping with transitions from sitting to standing, or helping with her legs when being lifted out of her wheelchair. Step one is making sure she can bend her knees so she can put weight through her legs and feet. Lynette sat her on a bolster, and held her from behind while I had knee and foot duty in the front. It didn’t take long for me to get her feet flat on the floor and her knees bent to about 90 degrees. Then Lynette helped Abbie to reach down and touch her toes. I am so glad she still has the flexibility to do things like that.
Since she did so well, we wanted to take it to the next step – seeing if she could bend her knees on her own. This requires her to work against the high muscle tone in her quads and has never been easy for her. I lifted her thigh off the bolster and told her to bend her own knee…slowly, slowly she began doing it. The more repetitions we did the further and faster she went. She bent them until her feet touched the floor on their own! Much, much more than we were expecting to see.
We noticed that when she wanted a break Abbie would straighten her legs. So, since it was such a great day already, we decided to push it a little farther. While her knees were bent we asked her to straighten her legs…she did…then we asked her to find the floor with her feet again…and she did! She was following the commands so quickly!!! She did this a few more times when we asked her to. I silenced my yelp of joy, so I was looking at Lynette with my mouth agape, when she said, “I am about to cry!” That’s a sure sign it’s been a great day in therapy!!!
Abbie’s body is starting to listen to her more and more, and her cognition is more easily displayed through her movements now. So thrilling for me, and I can assure you, she is quite proud of herself!
After PT I took Abbie to the cafeteria to feed her and get some lunch myself. As I returned to the table with my tray, the truth hit me. All this isn’t an answer to some unknown prayer I prayed, it’s an answer to prayers that you have prayed for Abbie!! You have prayed for her when I ‘ve been too tired, too sad or too discouraged. You’ve prayed for her when I couldn’t find new words and couldn’t bear to repeat the old ones. You’ve prayed in faith when mine was flickering. You have prayed in hope on days when I was focused on doom-and-gloom tests. You have prayed in joy during times I felt my heart was shattered. You have prayed with perseverance and persistence even though many of you have never had the chance to meet or hold Abbie. I wish you could see what my eyes witnessed today, and feel what my heart felt…because YOU are the reason that my sweet girl is smiling with satisfaction and pride. “Mahalo” will never be enough, but I say it with all my heart!