Corey typically relies on hand signs and writing to communicate with us. I’ve mentioned that we are trying to sing and encourage her as often as possible to use her voice. Each time I tell her she can talk, she shakes her head NO; but then grins. When we have our quiet time in the evening we will “chat” on a number of subjects. Skype and phone calls have been useful tools as well. We spoke to Aunt Marjy a few days ago. I hold the phone to Corey’s ear and as Marjy talks to Corey, she tries to respond. Marjy was teasing Corey that she hasn’t spoken in over a year…it must be torture from the kid that never shut up! We used to play the “quiet game” in the car, especially on long car rides. Corey wouldn’t last the first minute declaring the game boring and stupid, ‘lets play another game’.
This morning I shared a conversation we had last night with Diane, her speech therapist. As I described the interaction between us, Corey smiled. I was sitting to Corey’s left, Diane was to her right. I would begin the reenact the conversation but insisted that Corey finish the sentence. Diane was very surprised and became excited…Corey was happy, relaxed and vocalized! Her voice came through smoothly and with volume. Diane literally jumped up and walked to Corey’s left. She asked Corey to repeat vowel sounds. She clearly and consistently vocalized each of them. Diane was ecstatic. This was the first time Corey used her voice for the length of the session.
When a patient is diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury, there is no way to know what will reconnect. Nine months ago, her Doctors had a concern that if Corey didn’t start speaking, it may be an indicator that she may have to find alternative means to communicate. The use of her vocal chords and ability to ‘speak’ my have been lost and may not come back. Then there are TBI survivors that share their experience of speaking after 36 months. Today’s session is exciting; however, there is no way of knowing if Corey will be one of the ‘lucky one’s’ to clearly pronounce each of her words or if her speech will be understood by others. We haven’t settled for the usual or the average expectations so far so why start now…her accomplishment this morning proves that she still has a voice! God help us all when she starts to really use it!!
PT went very well today. Corey pushed through her stretches initiating the start, timing each repetition using her hand to count and signaled when the stretch became too much. Her ability to sit for almost a full minute without falling forward or to either side is improving daily. Each session we try to work with Corey to stand and gain strength with weight baring exercises. A friend of ours in the community loaned us a walker. We have also borrowed a “platform” from the local Lion’s Club. The platform is a special arm rest attached to the walker. Corey’s left side is still developing. Her left arm sits on the platform and her hand grasps a vertical handle elevated above the walker positioning her arm at ninety degrees. Her right arm holds the walker in the traditional way; elbow extended. Today’s focus was to practice standing and rocking side to side shifting her weight. In addition to weight bearing, this develops Corey’s ability to stretch, fully extend and touch her heels to the floor as well as try to keep her ankles firm and straight (no rolling to the outside). Corey may not have taken any steps forward physically, but her progress reflects the tremendous strides she’s gained over the last month.
We closed the day with our cooking class ~ Chicken Vegetable Soup. Until Corey’s new knives arrive; I pre-cut all the vegetables (carrots, string beans, corn and onions. She chopped the mushrooms) as well as cooked a roasted chicken. Christa and Brittany worked with Corey on measuring and carving the chicken. She told me that this was her favorite part of the day.
Corey has been doing very well. We see her progressing physically making it through her therapy sessions and we are also seeing a change in her cognitive processing as well. We are watching her think before she responds. As she progresses we are also seeing her fatigue increase. She is now taking naps through the day especially between sessions. She is wiped out by 5:30pm and prefers quiet evenings where she can doze in and out before she sleeps through the night. This is only a mild concern. If she were not participating in her sessions it would be a huge concern. We are reminded by other families that the effort it takes for Corey to respond to a “simple” question is not so simple. Each physical exercise lasting 30 mins to an hour is our equivalent of working out for 3 hours…without a break! Rest is also vital to the healing and recovery process.
Corey I feel so fortunate to witness your progress. I love to watch you as you concentrate and then smile when you are aware that you’ve responded accurately to the questions asked of you. I watch you tire, hold your hand to your head, close your eyes and then when asked to answer ‘just one more question’; you pick your head up, open your eyes wide and vocalize your response. I want to cheer out loud. Your strength, stamina and motivation are the driving force to your success. You are an amazing athlete. I would place you in the same category as an Olympian! Goin’ for the Gold kiddo. I’m so proud of you, xoxo