Milestone – an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.
Corey often challenges me to list her accomplishments.
C – Am I really getting better? what was even wrong with me?
M – Well…you were almost dead, so the fact that you’re sitting in the front seat of the car, talking to me, re-learning everything and doing an amazing job that not many people thought you’d ever be capable of doing, I’d say you’re definitely better!
All joking aside, I’ve actually begun to write each individual change in Corey’s development. This exercise has been very cathartic and has helped me reassure Corey (and myself). I remembered my first champion, Nick; our inpatient nurse, trying to reassure me in the beginning.
It was Corey’s 18th birthday. She was in surgery at Christiana hospital to repair her broken femur and I was touring the floor of the brain injury unit (not the expected plan for her milestone birthday). Nick saw my sadness, fear and disbelief as I stood processing this surreal experience. He confidently confided, “I’ve worked here for 31 years. I’ve seen a lot of miracles. Our motto is; (speaking about the patients) they roll in and we walk them out”. I have held onto those words for strength when I thought I had no strength left.
Looking back at Corey’s incremental progress has renewed my motivation. Rereading what practices we’ve used stimulates new creative strategies to try in the present moment. Our focus is not only her physical healing to regain independent function but strengthening her cognitive and emotional development to live life to her best potential as well.
Today was one of those days we tried something we’ve never attempted before. Today’s accomplishment would be significant without recalling the past achievements but quite honestly, looking back makes today’s success more rewarding.
June 1, 2010 – Corey completed her Junior year of High School. She enrolled in the ‘Culinary Arts Exploration Weekend’ at Johnson & Wales University.
June 1, 2011 – Avon Grove HS graduation postponed…Corey was discharged from Bryn Mawr Rehab after 7 months of acute inpatient care. Corey could only move her right pointer finger and thumb for inconsistent YES/NO responses. She could move her right leg from the knee down and wiggle her right toes. She could not open her mouth to eat, drink or speak. She could not hold her head for more than 2 minutes. She could not sit independently. She was 100% dependent for all her daily needs.
June 1, 2012 – Back in Bryn Mawr after Tendon Lengthening surgery, assisted by Natalie and a PT tech – walked 318 feet with a cast on each leg. While in the hospital, she began eating solid foods and drinking thickened liquids. Her voice was no longer ‘breathy’, she began to speak and with volume behind her words. Disoriented, severe memory loss and unable to appropriately communicate her thoughts or emotions.
June 1, 2013 – Typing, texting, reading and appropriately responding to Caitlin via the Ipad. Emotionally, Corey was beginning to emerge. Cognitive therapy began to include board games. Corey began to initiate her desire to stand from a sitting position.
June 1, 2014 – increased focus and effort on walking independently with a walker for Corey’s High School graduation, as well as walking with 2 male escorts for JohnPaul and Jackie’s wedding. Memory loss, emotional challenges and added separation anxiety were escalating and nearly broke our spirit and stamina.
(this was the beginning of a tough summer…pre-Washington DC team)
June 1, 2015 – Corey’s short/long term memory continues to be a deficit but we are beginning to see retention of new experiences. She is consistently and appropriately communicating her frustrations. She is beginning to instinctually use both hands to manipulate a task. Weekly home therapy includes practicing her culinary knife skills chopping vegetables, standing and balancing for 40 minutes and riding an exercise bicycle 3-4x per week for 1.5 miles. Cognitive therapy includes computer games, recipe dictation and music therapy.
Today…June 1, 2015
Driving to therapy, Corey looked at me and said, “mom, I can’t wait to get there and show them I can kick butt”.
We parked at the entrance of the rehab.
Balancing and utilizing her forearm cane,
with my guidance holding onto her gait belt;
COREY WALKED INTO BRYN MAWR for therapy…no wheelchair!
Life will not ask our opinion as challenges present themselves. Life will demand something of us every minute of the day. The more willing and positive we are in accepting the challenges we’re assigned determines the value of what we gain from the experience. Each experience has hidden gifts within them.
Today’s Milestone was an amazing gift, xoxo