Full Steam Ahead

Today was another big day for our driver-in-training.  At therapy, we seated her in the power chair, headed to the elevator and went downstairs, to a broad, uncluttered hallway.  Then, we said, “Go!”

And boy, did she.

She controlled the forward motion of the chair with a sensor placed directly behind her head.  As she was almost down the entire length of the hallway, I began to wonder if she either didn’t understand how to stop, or couldn’t do it it.

Has she taught me nothing?

Of course she knew how to stop, she just didn’t want to.  Once we assured her that she could stop and start whenever she wanted,  she showed off her stopping skills.  As the minutes of practice added up, she became able to start and stop in rapid succession.


I played a game with her, by standing in front of her a ways away, and letting her drive up to me and stop before she hit me.  Let’s just say that it’s still a work in progress, but I did tell her that it was the best “first day of driving” in our family so far  (no offense, Chase and Kyle).

At one point we all stepped away and let her really feel independent as she drove.  I was in front of her, and an image from several years ago flashed in my mind.  A couple of years after Abbie’s injury, we were in the hall waiting for our therapy session.  A young girl and a therapist emerged from a room, and the therapist placed large, colored plastic dots on the floor.  The girl, an emerging walker, had to practice walking from dot to dot while keeping her balance.  Oh, how deeply I longed for Abbie to progress to doing therapy in the hall, from dot to dot.

I felt again today, that our prayers are often answered in ways we could not have imagined.  Would I rather have Abbie walking?  Of course.  But, I realized what I truly desire for her is independence, and I saw a glimpse of it today — doing therapy in the hall at long last.

As far as her power chair request goes, I was notified last week that the insurance company had contacted a local vendor to see if they could put together a chair like the one we had requested, and they replied that they could.  This is not possible, because there are only four authorized vendors for the seating system Abbie needs, and none of them are in Hawaii.  The seating is critical to making everything else work, so I became anxious when I heard this news.

Then, I thought,  “Wait…back up for just a second.”

If the insurance company is negotiating about what vendor is going to supply the chair, and they haven’t pushed back on any components of the chair…well, it sure looks like the actual request has been favorably reviewed.  Wow!!  I am still holding my breath until I hear something officially, but I am very encouraged.

One other update, regarding the ABR therapy I wrote about recently, and for which we continue to raise money.  The original visit from the ABR team was scheduled for later this week, but at the beginning of February it became obvious that there were too many loose ends and too little time to ensure a successful initiation of ABR in Hawaii.  So, we have postponed it.  But, we are thrilled to be welcoming the inventor of ABR, Leonid Blyum, and the principle investigator (lead researcher), Mark Driscoll to Hawaii, for the Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities, April 18-19.  We will also be conducting follow-on meetings with stakeholders in the community to see how we can best launch a community template for ABR in Hawaii.

If you are in Hawaii and interested in learning more about ABR, the presentation will be on Monday, April 18, 8:30-12 at the convention center.  There will be special pricing of $85 for family members wanting to attend only  the ABR portion  of PacRim.  Professional registration is $165 for one day.

You can register here:

http://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=879207

Note:  the family special is not yet available at the PacRim website.  If you are interested in the special pricing, please email me at varasix@aol.com

May God bless you!

2 thoughts on “Full Steam Ahead

  1. Dearest Abby…. good thing you decided on an electric vehicle… gas prices are crazy right now!!!!

    Your ABR buddy! Dominick

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