Saturday, November 16, 2013

Discharging tomorrow!!!!

Well another leg of our journey is coming to an end tomorrow.  Exactly 12 hours from now we will pack our bags and head home to begin the next leg of Cameron's rehabilitation and new lease on life.  Throughout our stay here we have taken some amazing strides in the right direction, met some amazing people and learned so much about Cam's true strength and determination.  We cannot thank the therapists enough for what they have given Cam and us over the last 19 days!  They truly are an amazing and very talented group of individuals that come to work everyday in hopes to make someones life just a little better, and let me tell you they did just that.  Cameron gave them all he had each and every session.  He never told them he couldn't do something or wasn't willing to try, he never questioned an idea or concept they had before testing it out and he did everything they asked with 110% and usually ended with a smile on his face.  Each therapist had a little something different to offer and appealed to Cameron in a unique way.  We are leaving here with a new found sense of Cam's independence and not only are we excited about this, Cameron is confident in what he can do, he has never been so open and willing to participate in daily routines such as getting dressed.  Now he has discovered that if his clothes are in reach he can get himself dressed head to toe before getting out of bed!!!!  It's things like that that really enrich the lives of someone with a disability.  Think about this for a moment.......

What if you had to ask someone for help for everything everyday?  What if you had to wait for someone to come help you when you wanted to get dressed?  What if every time you had to use the washroom you had to ask for help and then have someone stand there and watch?

This is what a normal day for someone with a disability is like if no one gives them the confidence or tools to do it themselves.  I can only hope that Cam never feels like a burden because I know that if I was in his shoes I certainly would!  I hate even asking for help when I really, really need it ( I know that is so hard for some of you to believe) let alone asking 5, 10, or sometimes 20 or 30 times a day for help.  What they have given him is the ability to do things on his own so that he doesn't have to ask for help for a lot of things that he did a month ago.   It's an amazing feeling for me and I can only imagine how great it must feel for him!

From here we are heading home to try to get some, and I use that work cautiously, normalcy back to our lives.  Cam will be going to the RIC day rehabilitation program 3 days a week as well as coming back here on Tuesdays for hydrotherapy.  On the days he has therapy he is going to try and go to school in the afternoon if he is not too tired and then he will also be going full days on some Tuesdays and every Thursday.  Things for Kevin and I are about to become very hectic.  As most of you know my work schedule this time of year is less than desirable, but hey it's my favorite time of year at work so I'll take it, and then trying to squeeze in all of the therapies, homework and daily exercise routines it will be insane!  I am so glad that he is transferring to the day rehab program though instead of straight to outpatient therapy.  I think he needs the intensity for his body to keep moving in the right direction and I think it motivates him to keep working hard and pushing, rather than doing things an hour here, an hour there and driving him all over the world everyday.  This way I only have to drive him to half of the world almost everyday :)  

The other part of the story after being here is the kids that we have met......WOW!  I've seen and met some amazingly courageous kids, some lazy and ungrateful kids who don't see how lucky they are to be here.  Some of the kids here have the same zest for life that Cam does and don't let anything get in there way.  Everyday you pass by them in the hallway and they smile from ear to ear as you pass and it's the best medicine!  Cam has staked his claim on a few of them along the way with his warm heart and endearing smile.  He has gone out of his way numerous times to make sure that the shy kid down the hall knows he cares, given a "lift up" to our roommate who is often lonely and in desperate need of attention to always giving the girl on the floor that happens to have a thing for him a hug whenever she wants (she's quite the little hugger).  We have watched other kids progress in their therapies, but everyone seems awe struck at the amount of progress Cam has made in 19 days.  Even as we were finishing our last session today the OT said "I remember the first day I met you and you were in so much pain Mom was the only one who could move you to today you don't need any help to do anything!"  He went from not being able to tolerate any weight or movement on his legs and ankles to riding 2 laps unassisted on the bike, standing in the stander for 50 minutes, getting dresssed head to toe, walking 2 laps in the gait trainer, transferring from chair to table/bed/toilet using his new slide board, moving from laying to sitting quickly and efficiently and even standing with minimal assistance using the parallel bars.  Wow, I got goose bumps all over again just writing all of that out, and I'm sure I'm forgetting things!  

I can't say that I expected this experience to be so moving.  I am happy for everything he accomplished, ecstatic to be going home to my own bed, sad to be leaving a great group of people and therapists, excited and sad to be going back to work ( I love what I do, but I have really enjoyed my time with Cam) and nervous for what the next leg of the journey will bring.  I can only hope that we find another set of amazing therapists at the satellite location, which I'm sure we will, and that Cam continues to find joy in learning new ways of doing things for himself and that his confidence grows more and more each day.  I am still holding on to the hope that he can reach his ultimate goal of taking a step on his own, I feel like we are leaving here set up for success and that's an amazing feeling.

This is Cam riding the bike completely unassisted this morning for 2 laps!  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Emotional to say the least

If anyone ever told me how emotional and hard going through the rehabilitation process was going to be and I laughed and said it will be no big deal, I'm sorry...........I should've listened!

Don't get me wrong, Cam is making great progress and this place is amazing.  Cam is regaining his strength that he had lost since the surgery very quickly and is able to do some things on his own again like go to a sitting position from laying down and rolling over.  He is not as quick and swift at these as he used to be, but we are happy to see him doing them again.  He is also learning new techniques and "tricks of the trade" to help with daily living things like putting on his own shoes.  Although the independence is great for Cam and I know these things will make his life so much better in the long run, it's very hard for mom and dad to sit back and watch him struggle, it would be so much easier to just do it for him.  That my friends is where the emotional part comes in, well amongst other things but we will start there.............

As you watch Cam in therapy you go through a crazy range of emotions over a short period of time, his sessions are usually 30-60 minutes at a time.  In the beginning you are totally excited to find out what he will be doing to overwhelmed by what he can do, most of the time to tears, to heart broken watching him work so hard to do what we consider the simplest of tasks to finally trying to cover them all up and focus on what's important.....celebrating the wins with Cam.  Wow, I know right!  And we do this 3-6 times a day everyday, no wonder I'm exhausted by the time we lay down at night.  Some of the hardest things seem like they would be the easiest, like for example, Cam is realizing that he can do things for himself like cut up his own food.  So there him and I sat eating breakfast as usual and I reach for Cam's plate to spread the butter and cut up his pancake and he says "no mom, I got this"  At first I was like awesome, good for you!  Then he worked and worked and worked to get two bite size pieces cut up and with every stroke of the knife the knot in my stomach grew larger and larger.  I basically had to sit on my hands to stop myself from reaching over and saying "let me help you"  I knew in that moment that I couldn't do that, nor would I do that!  Cam was expressing a need to be independent, the therapists have given him so much confidence that he wants to do things for him self.  He looks up at me, after getting those two bites cut with a light in his eye and smiles, AMAZING!  He continued cutting and eating, cutting and eating all through breakfast and as we were walking back to the elevator he says, "wasn't that cool mom, I did it myself!"  All I could do in that moment was to hold back the tears that were brewing over 1,000 emotions and celebrate with him.  People getting on the elevator probably thought we were a little nuts because we were excited, high five-ing, you name it we did it!  It was in this moment that I realized it did not matter how small his accomplishments were, it was my job to be excited about it.  We lay in bed at night and he says "mom" about 200 times between the hours of 8am and 8pm and most of the time he needs a position adjustment in the middle of the night, but other times it's to show me what he can do.  I can't begin to tell the the number of times he says "mom, look I can move my toe" "mom, look I can bend my knee" and each and every time I take a deep breath and celebrate with him!  It is hard, sometimes I'm exhausted and will have just sat down and the thought of getting up to watch him wiggle his toe is down right miserable, but I keep telling myself it's not about me, do it for him.  Then there are the times when the things he does are down right incredible, like using the gait trainer and walking.  Holy Crap!  Let me tell you that was so emotional I was nauseous and I would get up out of my seat any day anytime to watch him experience that feeling again and again.

Cam at his first hydrotherapy
Today really made me aware of exactly what it was that I was feeling as I sat opposite of Kevin while Cam did his afternoon PT session.  I watched as his facial expressions showed every emotion I was feeling.  I even watched as the therapist, who Cam has only worked with in the pool so far, got a little emotional as well.  He had Cam do a few things and then offered up a couple suggestions for Cam to try, of which he did and very successfully.  Then at the end he asked Cam to show him how he could go from laying to standing and asked him if it was going to amaze him.  Cam responded with "yeah, check this out, I'll show you what I can do!"  So we have excitement right, then Cam works and works and works to get to sitting, using a technique that he came up with on his own, and BAM he was sitting.  I looked up and saw the therapists face turn red and I'm pretty sure he may have swallowed down a few tears.  He looked at Cam and said "now that's why I love what I do, that was amazing" 
Cam using the gait trainer for the first time!

Very happy after his first hydrotherapy session

When Kev left tonight he apologized for getting emotional, to which I replied, don't be sorry for being emotional it's a very emotional process.  Just be sure that Cam doesn't see the look of wanting to help so badly that you look sad or disappointed that he is working so hard when it used to be easy.  Ugh, when I read his message I wished I had a closet to go to and have a good cry, and maybe a little scream because I too had realized today how emotional this was and, sometimes reality sucks.  But instead I lay here in the dark in my not so comfy chair/bed and write. (probably the healthier of the two options)

 It's a rough rocky road right now and we need monster suspension when we are with Cam to be sure that we are continuously supporting his wants and needs to be independent as hard as that may be.  I only hope that Cam can fulfill whatever wants and needs he has and be happy being him.  

So I will leave you with this..............

Never, ever take for granted what you consider the simple things in life.  The small simple things are the ones we should hold near and dear to our heart and feel blessed each and every day that we can do them. What you may think is easy, may be near impossible for someone else and you never know who that someone else might be so you should always be prepared to celebrate.  The only thing I can be sure of, for that person who sees it as impossible, it feels like a million bucks to have someone show you a way and to do it just once!
Cam laying flat on a table before surgery

Cam laying flat after surgery, his knees are almost completely straight!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Turning point

And the trek through the mountains continues..........

Let's see, since last I wrote we have experienced the full gamut of emotions.  We went from completely ecstatic getting the casts off to extreme disappointment at the amount of pain he had afterwards then we went onto anger/sadness about checking into rehab.  From there we continued with the sadness after we checked in and were less than overwhelmed with our temporary "home" and I think in that was a bit of nerves about the days to come, then onto the evaluations we go.  Thursday morning rolls around rather quickly after a short night on sleep and he is already worked up about PT coming in first thing in the morning.  He had a lot of pain in his ankles but that didn't stop PT from doing their thing.  Within a matter of 20 minutes she had him sitting up on his own and then onto his feet (with her help of course).  It was at that moment that I knew it didn't matter what the room looked like or how comfortable (or not) my bed was but that we were in the best place possible for Cam to have a shot at a successful rehabilitation!  Cam was still a bit unsure at this point if he was "all in" on this place and the plan for rehab.  They convinced him to participate in Trick-or-Treating, which he was not at all excited about, but he faked it good :)  He saw lots of therapists and kids in a variety of different places in the rehab process and I think it helped to open his eyes, and mine, a bit to what we had going for us.  Cam has done this before and has a good shot at walking again, some kids are not so fortunate but they were all so happy and it warmed my heart to see how caring and dedicated all of the therapists were.  No matter how much "work" it was they ensured that every single kid got to experience the same thing and hit every floor with bags and buckets in hand.  Simply amazing!
On our way to RIC, not so happy.

Sitting up for the first time since surgery

Cam feeling his weight on his feet for the first time in a long time!    
His amazing Halloween costume

Cam raising himself up on the tilting table

We had yet another rough night on sleep, they have been giving him some melatonin which seems to help him fall asleep but the knee immobilizers are still pretty cumbersome and uncomfortable so he is awake a lot.  This morning we woke up and got the day started bright and early with PT at 8:30am.  It was off to the tilting table to get some weight on those legs, ankles and feet.  The therapist was quick to tell me to go get my coffee and relax so she could see how much she could get out of him without mom around :(  Much to my surprise when I got off the elevator he was almost all the way up and chatting away with her so I stood back and watch the rest of the session from a distance.  Cam had no idea I was behind him and on more than one occasion I could feel my eyes welling up with tears and had to pull myself together.  You have no idea what it feels like to see your child go from so much pain and struggle to finally be in a standing position carrying on a conversation with a smile on his face.  I didn't care if he was strapped to a table that was helping him or not.  All I saw was my baby boy on his own two feet standing tall.  He worked hard all hour long and then came back to the room to relax before another session.  

We had new inpatient orientation followed by what was to be the most amazing moment of rehab we've ever experienced.  This is where the light bulb turned on for Cam and his whole attitude and outlook was forever changed.  His goals are set high and determined to leave here doing WAY more without assistance than ever before!  So here's how it went........

He had a new therapist named V(going to only go by letters for privacy) who was a guy, brownie points with Cam right off the bat.  Then he started asking Cam about comic books and super heroes, now he is in!  I sent them on their way so I could get cleaned up for the day as the morning was quite busy.  Shortly after I get out of the shower there is a knock and the door and I opened it only to find Cam standing up in a wheeled stander, and not just any wheeled stander.  This was the same exact stander we tried to fit him for before we decided on surgery and Cam could not even get close to being able to stand up in it..........and now he is in it comfortably, standing tall, legs straight AND wheeling himself down the hallway!!!!!!!!  Now the tears are welling up for sure, but I 'm trying not to embarrass him totally so I suck it up and just smile on through.  I quickly sent them on their way so I could gather myself, inside I was jumping up and down like a little kid on Christmas.  I was so excited I forgot to get a picture or video until he was almost around the corner, but I got a little video that I will attach so everyone can enjoy the moment with me.  When they returned from their session I had my Cam back, he was happy, excited, positive, determined and sitting up in his chair with the legs down and a big ol' smile on his face!!!!!  I haven't felt this good in a very long time.  

Later on in the day the Psychologist came in to do her thing and he talked openly and was very positive about everything she asked.  He was very chatty and answered all of her questions thoroughly, he even volunteered information and stories (now that's Cam!)  He then had OT which at first he wasn't looking forward to because he was a bit sore from all the PT work that he did, but once he got going it was great.  He sat up in a chair, crossed his feet, raised his legs and even took off and put on his own shoes.  I know these things may seem small to some of you that read this, but in our world that we have lived for the last year these things are huge!  Cam had really taken a nosedive in being able to do things for himself and to watch him push his way through some of the pain to reach the end result all on his own was incredible.  They then took off in his chair and went off to work out his arms and he once again returned smiling from ear to ear.  He now says that he really really likes PT and OT and that this place is pretty awesome.  Tonight we had dinner together in the dining room, took a nice long hot shower and now he is relaxing and getting ready for bed.  He is very tired tonight but says he feels good about what he accomplished today, as do I.  

Cam has set his goals high and I have no doubts that he will do everything in his power to achieve them.  His determination and spirit are back and I LOVE IT!!!!!  This weekend we will get to go out on pass a little bit and get him some fresh air and good food. 

I stuck my flag in the ground at the top of Mt. Everest today, I intend to stay there with him as long as I possibly can and watch it wave in the wind.  We are so blessed to have an amazing support system of family, friends and even friends of friends and I hope that you too will continue to stand with us because this is one heck of a journey!

Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep the faith. It will all be worth it in the end.