Last night our ‘little chef’ was back in the kitchen. Corey draws quite a crowd, Not Your Average Joe’s called in extra staff to handle the 160+ reservations. By 6pm there was a 45 minute wait for walk-ins!
We arrived at 3:30 and Corey was hard at work with Chef Mike by 4:00. This week the team prepared Mexican food; homemade guacamole, poblomo cream sauce and lots of enchiladas. Corey stood for 90 minutes before I insisted she take a water break and rest her sinking legs. She agreed to 15 minutes. Chef Mike wanted her in the pizza station but the orders were adding up. Corey agreed to switch roles and work the front of the house walking around greeting our family and friends for an additional hour before we sat for dinner.
The evening was a success for the research program and brain injury awareness. There were actually 5 families we are currently working with and/or know through our journey that came out to join us including a survivor that happened to see Corey’s story on CBS.
The evening’s greatest success was revealed today.
Corey’s first visit to NYAJ’s was March 8th. Although she was in her element and exuded intense joy, she had no memory of her experience the subsequent days or weeks after. When I show her the CBS television spot she likes it but can’t quite connect to it, then she is sad she doesn’t remember it.
This morning she slept in (not a surprise after such a busy night). She commented her left leg was sore.
M – That’s normal after a busy night. You stood for a long time. You worked really hard.
C – What did we do last night?
M – Try to tell me. Take a guess. Can you picture anything?
C – (after a long silence) there were lots of people. (pause) I can’t remember.
M – (excited at the glimpse of clarity I encouraged her) yes you can. What were you wearing? (each answer from this point on, took several minutes to recall)
C – a white shirt
M – that’s right! it was actually a Chef’s coat. Can you describe anything about where you were? What did it look like?
C – there were big stoves with doors
M – close; they’re called ovens
C – haha, I forgot the name.
M – picture where you were, what can you see? What were you doing?
C – (corey mimed a rocking motion with her hand)
M – That’s right! Can you tell me what you were doing with that motion?
C – it reminds me of Papa…lots of vegetables
M – Chef Mike was showing you how to keep the tip of the knife on the cutting board. Every time you lifted the handle up and down you would move the knife forward making a fluid, smooth cut instead of lifting the knife like a samurai giving a rough chopping cut. He called the motion “Rocking the boat”.
M – can you picture the cutting board? What were you doing?
C – JULIENNE!
M – Yes!! You were chopping lots of vegetables and Chef Mike was working with you on using your left hand to steady the vegetable while the right sliced Julienne style.
M – This is so exciting…what else can you see?
C – I hate that I can’t remember everything.
M – I know but today you remembered so much! You didn’t remember any of the details from the first time.
C – did I work there before?
M – yes, last night was the second time you were there
C – OH MAN…
Corey was silent on the walk from the chairlift to the kitchen. We entered the kitchen; she put the harness on and began to walk towards the pantry to get her cereal box. She stopped and with great pride and some surprise, she said, “I can’t believe I remembered Julienne, that’s huge”!
M – Yes it is!
Conversation in the late afternoon brought more memories of some of our friends and some new introductions. No memory was precisely described, more of a foggy description with a few details that helped me know who or what she was describing. I would casually bring up a leading question to see if her memory of the night was sticking. As the day/night wore on, Corey’s fatigue increased and she had no recall of the event…but it’s in there, somewhere deep down inside, the seeds of her memory are starting to take root.
The HARNESS HOUSE research study is based on the theory that immersion in a real world environment will help a survivor strengthen all aspects of PT, OT, Speech, Cognitive and Emotional/Behavioral therapies. The whole body working together; moving, thinking, reacting and problem solving with each step, each reach and instinctual thought. We build on this with living life as it should be; every trip to the grocery store, each therapy session, any social event and even the tedious household chores.
The moments we shared today doesn’t lure me into a false sense of hope that magically Corey will “wake up” but it does help me regain confidence that eventually that symbolic root will stand firm. Corey will not only continue to strengthen her abilities she will begin to truly flourish. Never Give Up and Never Give In, the Lotus flower is growing, xoxo