The GoBabyGo Cafe is already proving the theory neuro-plasticity will advance given immersion in the workplace environment.
The last two weeks have been subtle yet huge accomplishments for Corey.
Devina has been focusing on Corey walking within the Cafe (supported by the harness system) without her cane and without holding onto the counter tops as she moves between stations. She framed it as a personal challenge. ‘How many steps do you think you can take without holding on to anything’? That’s all Corey needed…
Trial #1 last Wednesday = 10 steps
Trial #2 last Thursday = 43 steps
Trial #3 last Friday = 101 steps
Trial #4 this Monday = 111 steps
Trial #5 yesterday = 205 steps
Another goal: increased use of her left hand and arm incorporated in daily tasks. So far this week Corey lifted a gallon container of ice cream up/out of a freezer chest. One of those times she yelled out to me in excitement, “MOM, I just pulled this out with my left hand”! Her face was amazing; I don’t think her smile could have been wider.
M – did you surprise yourself?
C – I DID! I didn’t know I could do that!
Yesterday, Caitlin drove Corey to the Cafe.
C – “Caitlin, LOOK”
(she held up her right hand, she was wearing a glove. Normally that is not a big deal for us because she has figured out how to shimmy and wiggle a glove on her right hand using her right thigh and teeth)
C – “I put this on using my LEFT hand”!
Another highlight from yesterday’s shift; Corey used her right hand to shake open a plastic pastry bag. Using her left hand, she reached into the display case to pick up/remove and package a blueberry muffin. She repeated this task 3 times (without mutilating the pastry). She turned to Devina and said, “my mother is not going to believe I did this on my own”! Caitlin was more than happy to be the witness for her achievement.
This past weekend, Jackie invited Corey to have a sister’s day (giving Caitlin and I a chance to spend the afternoon together). The girls made dozens of Christmas Cookies. Jackie was very impressed with Corey’s improvement in walking, standing and use of her left hand; in fact she credited Corey with 90% of the mixing, molding and baking process. With Jackie’s grandmother’s recipe and Corey’s help, they were delicious.
Although we are over the moon about this opportunity, Corey’s filled with mixed emotions. Her anxiety has actually heightened rather than lessened with this experience. She has been short tempered, more argumentative and seems to be perseverating more…fixated on one thought as she has multiple small temper tantrums throughout the day.
Her memory of the Cafe is inconsistent. Although she has been working there 3-4 days a week, she doesn’t remember it or the people she works with once she’s left the building. We make a point of using her daily accomplishments to try to comfort her and help her with her recall. Our examples and replay of video doesn’t seem to comfort her.
We believe that subconsciously, the experience is making an impact and the anxiety is heightened due to the disconnect in short term memory. Her emotional response about the mere mention of the Cafe is based on her fear of independence. As much as she wants to be ‘doing things on her own’, she’s terrified to be ‘on her own’. Like a toddler being separated from her parent, she hasn’t developed her sense of autonomy and she’s not emotionally mature enough to feel empowered. All of this is due to her short term/long term memory loss. Sadly, some days it’s been feeling more like regression than progression for us.
We are trying to practice and develop new strategies to help her but we could use a few prayers. Caitlin and I are working hard on reassuring her but it is a daily fight and struggle. Please pray for Corey’s anxiety to lessen, her short-term memory to strengthen and her emotional maturity. Please add a few extra prayers for Caitlin and I. Our strategy is to use comic relief and a tag-team approach to step-off the hamster wheel. As I’ve said for years, “when we stop laughing, that’s when you should really begin to worry”!
Everyday is another step forward. The rest is a Matter of Time…xoxo