Riding the Same Ol’ Train

If you’ve read the recent purple board updates, you know we’ve been thrilled with Abbie’s academic progress lately. Over the years I have learned the lesson, though, of not taking what she is currently doing, or the speed at which she is progressing, and projecting that into the future. You have to celebrate the victories for what they are in the present, not as precursors of future gains. Most of this past week reminded us once again, that we are riding the Brain Injury Train, and let me tell you, it is certainly not an Express!

Abbie didn’t have a lot of interest in school work last Saturday and was giving random answers just to get through it (as many kids often do.) We thought perhaps she was distracted by excitement over that night’s plans to attend the symphony. You should have seen her….all dressed up and riding in the van late in the evening, she was all grins – knowing she looked beautiful AND was up past her bedtime. The symphony was a wonderful experience for her, since we do many of her exercise sessions to classical music. Abbie was so excited to hear real violins, cellos, flutes and horns! It was an especially appropriate performance for Abbie because one of the actors from Lost narrated The Story of Babar (delightfully, I might add), with musical accompaniment and enhancement. Although she konked out at intermission, Abbie had a memorable experience. Once again, it was made possible by the generosity of caring people! A woman that has never even met Abbie, but hears about her from Genevieve, purchased tickets for our entire family. Since the boys had plans, Genevieve’s family came with us. Amazing. At eight, having already been to the ballet and symphony, Abbie is becoming quite the cultured girl.

Her disinterest in school, and most everything else continued through the week, and she just seemed very far away. Those kind of days are difficult for me, and when they pile up I begin to wonder if the good days were just a mirage I dreamed up

I started focusing on some specific interventions on Thursday, and she had a pretty good day in PT and Speech on Friday. Even better, she was smiling all day long. And then today, I arrived home from a very long day today to find this note from her nurse, Rae. I love it when someone writes an update for me!!

“Hi Tiffany-

Since we didn’t get much of a chance to talk today, just wanted to fill you in on how smart our Abbie really is. She is using her eyes, and working hard, as usual. When she has a good day, she really has a good day.

She was able to look at the purple board and do the following math problems by herself. I didn’t say anything to her about what the numbers were or anything, except asking her to find me the answer. She did 9+8=17, 9+8+10=27, 23+2+5=30. I can’t believe how far she has come!! I’m so so proud of her, and I can’t imagine what you must be feeling.

OK, so if you think that was amazing, she just did 23+12=35, with choices of 35, 31, and 50. Correct!! 23+27=50, with choices of 35, 31, and 50. Correct!! 23+27+12=62, with choices of 62, 30 and 75. Correct!! There is no stopping this girl. She is on her way to college! Unbelievable. And, all by herself without any help from me at all! I honestly did not say anything to her at all. I am speechless!!

23+31+[picture of four dots] = 58 Correct!!
23+31+30 +[picture of three dots] = 87 Correct!!

Now I’m puzzled as to how she is figuring out the answers! She can’t be counting because those numbers are way too big. All I can say is WOW!! AMAZING!!

23+31+30+[picture of three dots]+26 = 113 CORRECT!

I wish you were here to see this because you probably think I am crazy — but she really is adding!

And the problem of the day:
31+11+25+[picture of three dots]+24= 94, with choices of 110, 94, and 86. CORRECT!

I tried to call you to let you know how she was doing and to put a smile on your face…

Abbie is unbelievable and is going to continue to thrive if we push her!”

I was stunned when I looked at the purple board, and saw that last problem there. I have not one clue how she can accurately add up numbers in a problem that spreads over two rows of flashcards. When her brothers saw the problem they said, “Whoa…I would need a pencil and some time to get that right!” They were then silent for a moment, as the depth of Abbie’s intellect finally sunk in.

“Mom, I think she is brain child,” said RJ without a trace of irony in his voice. “I think maybe her brain injury worked backward. Instead of killing cells, it created a whole bunch of new ones.” His precious still-childlike logic made me smile.

Matt added a very observant, and I think, accurate, assessment. “I think that since she can’t move her body, she is able to focus her brain very, very well.”

The clickety-clack of the Brain Injury Train wheels always sings out the same song: “Who really know? Who really knows? Who really knows”

No one — not about why the frustrating, heartbreaking confusing things happen, and not about why the incredible, hopeful, confusing things happen.

We just have to keep on riding, taking the valleys with the hilltops, ever trusting the Conductor, and celebrating when His grace is shown in such amazing ways.

2 thoughts on “Riding the Same Ol’ Train

  1. Wow, Tiffany! What an encouragement to you and everyone who lovingly invests in Abbie. Rejoicing with you in Abbie's terrific progress and accomplishments. She is truly wonderfully and fearfully made!
    God bless,
    Keren & Family

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