Sunday, December 09, 2007

Look (OUT) Who's Driving!

Earlier I shared the "Look Who's Walking" poster that English Oaks put up about David's progress.

This morning David DROVE to church, and I was asked why I had not shared THAT news, so I guess it is time for the "Look Who's Driving" update! (He's progressing so fast I can hardly keep up!)

Yes, David is once again on the roads - LOOK OUT! - just kidding. :-)

We had a lot of conflicting advice about this. One PT advised not doing so for a month or two, but the neurologist had told him to just try on a quiet street and see how it went. He is in no danger of seizure activity, and the Coumadin is protecting him from another stroke, so the only issue is whether his body is going to cooperate with him, whether his awareness of all sides is intact and if his response time is appropriate (given that his brain is busy with trying to reintegrate his left side). Well, it looks like we have all systems go in those categories, so he's back behind the wheel as of this past Friday - first time on the highway this morning.

Not only is he driving a car, but, what I think is more amazing because it involves balance, is that he is RIDING A BIKE! We went for a family bike ride yesterday. YEA!

In other good news he is also walking without a cane!

He is still wearing an AFO (brace). He walks with a pronounced limp and yet has to be careful, but he's doing great! We're so glad he is still under the guidance of physical therapists, however. On Friday one of them decided it was time for David, the runner, to try sprinting. David tried, and he promptly fell down - well, nearly - the physical therapist caught him before he hit the floor. He tried to take off sprinting, but his left leg was totally clueless and didn't cooperate.

They work him hard, and he comes home exhausted and sore but grateful.

It's a bit tough to know where the boundaries are between what he can do and what he cannot do.

While he was talking with a friend this morning at church he was using his hands to gesture as he spoke. He was talking about how tPA is the ONE drug that is effective for administration after stroke. To emphasize the word "one" he lifted his left hand to stick out his index finger and TWO fingers, rather than one, extended. We all had a good laugh. David is very able to laugh at himself.

The BIG PICURE is GREAT, but there are things that are more difficult to describe that remain frustrating. Whenever David's body shifts position while sleeping it wakes him up, because there is just something so different about that left side.

There are a lot of things he can't hold quite right that cause some problems. For instance, when we were washing dishes together last night he was holing the metal lid of a frying pan in his left hand, and the lip of it was cutting into his hand, because he cannot figure out how to hold things. He can hold it. He can see what he is doing. It comes absolutely naturally on his right side, with no thought. But he just can't get his left hand to do it quite the right way.

He also has a tendency to drop things.

One piece of his homework is having someone put a block in his left hand while he is not looking; he then needs to identify the shape of the block, triangular, cylindrical, etc. It is nearly impossible for him to tell the shape; in fact, it's nearly impossible for him to tell there IS something in his hand at all if he is not looking. Caleb was really messing with David the other night by putting the same shape in David's hand over and over (David, of course, assuming it would be different each time, thus making different guesses). Caleb would also mess with him by putting two blocks in his hand rather than one, and David could not tell that this was the case.

There are uncomfortable sensation issues too. We wanted to go to a movie as a family yesterday, but David could not go, because it is far too uncomfortable for him to even consider doing such a thing. He feels this very strong discomfort when trying to sit in a movie theater or when trying to sit in church. His arm still kind of does its own thing if he is not consciously moving it or looking at it, and the sensation he has in it is such that if it is against the back of a pew or seat it's extremely irritating.

I'm not explaining this well. I don't understand it well. I'm not sure David could explain it well either were he writing.

I'm writing in so much detail, because people are asking and want to know, and I'm being told I'm being derelict in my duty, so there you go - lots of details! :-) Thank you for wanting to know! Thank you so much for caring so deeply! We remain aware of what yet is not right, but mostly we are just so grateful he is making the progress he is - that he can move, that he has strength, that he CAN walk, that he CAN drive, that he can BIKE, that he is at a point where the PT would even suggest TRYING a sprint!

One of the passages mentioned in church this morning was about the paralytic that Jesus healed by telling him to take up his bed and walk. That passage hit us so strongly today in a way it never had before. What hit us was not what normally would capture our attention, the fact that Jesus healed him; that is, Jesus allowed whatever was wrong with his body to be healed. What hit us this morning was the fact that AS SOON AS HE WAS HEALED HE GOT UP AND WALKED. The second issue of the learning to walk was also immediately taken care of. We consider David's healing miraculous. He has been recovering well ever since being given tPA on November 2, but we have seen how long recovery and relearning after paralysis can take (and we're told David is progressing quickly!). When Jesus healed the paralytic, the man just got up, picked up his mat, and walked home right then! No walker, no cane, no brace, no relearning - just straight from paralysis to walking. WOW!

OK, now I need to get back to my OTHER writing. The finish line of MY individual piece of this autumn marathon is in sight (OK, maybe I shouldn't push the metaphor so far!). I'm finding, however, that the finishing kick is like "Heartbreak Hill" in the Boston Marathon. I was up until 2:30am last night (this morning) working on a paper, nowhere near the end . . . will spare you the rest of the details of what yet remains in my race to the finish line at this point but rather will just get back to running this part of my race now.

On the one hand I'm so grateful David encouraged me to finish, but . . . this was hard enough without trying to do it with my mind divided in its focus and without having to play catch-up after falling behind. I'll be much more grateful a week from today.

All of us are SO eager for the quieter times together as a family that, God willing, are coming soon.

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