Sunday, March 30, 2008

Yes, I'm Guilty

Bennett had a physio appt. this past Friday. Jim and I felt so guilty because we hadn’t done much physio with him while we were on holidays. It was impossible to do during the 8 days of driving and then he was so miserable in Florida that we were just concentrating on trying to keep him happy. Anyway, we confessed our negligence to the therapist and she was very understanding and sympathetic.

He has made some progress though – especially with the amount of time he can spend on all fours and with getting back into a sitting position. We have another appt with the physio tomorrow and our first visit with the occupational therapist. I’m mostly looking forward to starting another therapy but also have some mixed feelings. I know from experience that physio is hard work and that most of the time progress is very slow. It can be hard to stay focused on the long term results when you don’t see immediate progress. We celebrate every thing Bennett does with his right hand because we know that it is hard for him – and we have seen some progress as we continue to push him. However, here is where my mixed feelings come in - I also know from experience that while therapy helps it doesn’t “fix” anything. No matter how much we cheer and how hard we work, therapy will not “fix” Bennett anymore than it has “fixed” me. It has without a doubt improved the quality of my life and my ability to do some things but it hasn’t made my injuries go away – I will live with the pain and effects of the car accident forever just like Bennett will always have cerebral palsy. Even though I know that, it is so hard not to get carried away with therapy. I find myself falling into the trap of thinking that with therapy and time Bennett will somehow be “normal”. I think a lot of people think this way – not only when it comes to me but when it comes to Bennett. The truth is, he’s not going to be “normal” – he’s not going to be “fine”. He has cerebral palsy and will have it and will struggle with it for the rest of his life. That truth is hard to face and I must say I prefer to stick my head in the sand sometimes. There is such a fine line between hope and accepting reality.

This morning Jim and I were struggling with trying to tape Bennett’s hand and arm. He was not happy with us at all and just screamed and squirmed. I found myself getting very angry – angry that we have to do this to him at all, angry that every day I feel guilty about not doing enough therapy, angry that he can’t be just a normal little boy and we normal parents with normal worries, angry that my leg aches so much that it makes it difficult to do stuff with Bennett and angry that all this work won’t “fix” him. That’s a lot of anger for a Sunday morning. It’s times like these that I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and take things one day at a time. Therapy is important but it’s also important that Bennett has time to just be a little boy and I have time to just be a mom – and I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, right?

And just because I feel guilty about being a bit negative in this post, here is a short video of Bennett at his last physio appt. He's doing great isn't he?!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Poppa!

I thought a picture of me in the green stroller would be appropriate considering how much time we spent together recently - you pushing and me fussing - ahh...good times in Florida. Have a wonderful day and I look forward to seeing you when you get home.

I think I might have to get you a bigger hat for your birthday!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lexington, Kentucky

Well, we've made it this far and we're officially half way home. Bennett got off to a bit of a rough start yesterday but by dinnertime he was back to stuffing his face and flirting with the waitresses. We had a good day today - almost 800km. It started snowing in Atlanta and snowed off and on until Kentucky. Jim was sure glad he wore his shorts today. We should make Ontario tomorrow - hopefully Mississauga but at least London.

Bennett was good pretty much the whole way but had a bit of a meltdown when we got to the hotel. Jim was getting ready to get the stroller out and start walking the hallways. Both boys are asleep now and I'm here in the lobby updating the blog. We had a late dinner - we had ordered a pizza but they were more than an hour late. As a result there was no charge - that has never happened to either of us before. Certainly no Great Lakes Pizza - they are always on time and remember our dipping sauces!

Grandma & Grandpa - we'll call you when we get to Ontario. Mummu & Poppa - thanks for your kind words below. Despite our few problems we had a great holiday too. Enjoy your last week!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mr. Grumpy is Heading Home

We've decided to cut our holiday a day short. Bennett is quite grumpy and mommy and daddy are pretty much at the end of our rope. Mummu and Poppa and Uncle Ed have been so patient and have all put a lot of miles on stroller duty - we are grateful for their help. I'm sure they'll have to have some quiet time when we leave. As of right now, mommy doubts that she'll ever travel again. That will probably change though.

Big thanks to mummu, poppa and uncle ed for taking such good care of us. We'll see you again when you get home. The second picture was supposed to be first. We were in such a hurry we forgot Bennett - haha!

As for us, keep your fingers crossed that Mr. Grumpy shows us some mercy.

Oh Yeah, Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Still on Vacation

We're still here in Florida on our holiday. Jim and Bennett have both been sick but are feeling better. Unfortunately, our normally happy baby has been a bit grumpy but is coming around. We're having a good time - spending a lot of time in the pool and enjoying the company of our great hosts! Bennett has been swimming most days and has started a daily ritual of walking around the block with his great uncle Ed. We leave Monday - another 2600 km!

Here are the pictures you requested Grandma.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bennett's on Holidays...

...or holiweeks as my French-Canadian grandfather used to say. Last Monday Jim and I decided to travel to Florida to visit with his parents. So, three days later we packed up Bennett and our swimsuits and started the 2600 kilometre drive to Florida. I was so worried about travelling that far with a cranky 15 month old baby that I didn't sleep for the 3 nights before we left. My worries were unfounded as Bennett proved to be a wonderful traveller. We drove about 700 km a day with a break every couple hours. The only problem was that mommy and daddy had to listen and watch the same Diego video for 2 days. By the time we were in Kentucky we were desperate to find some new ones.

We arrived yesterday and were all in the pool within an hour. Our timing was good too as I understand that we were getting another 15cm of snow and freezing rain at home today. The house here is beautiful and the pool is warm. As you can see in the pictures Bennett is having a wonderful time and loves the water.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Using both hands....

AT THE SAME TIME! With a little help and a lot of encouragement from mommy and daddy. We've been working on this for a while.

Monday, March 10, 2008

March Break

Sorry for the long break between posts. Jim and I took advantage of a physio free friday to go away for the weekend. We went to Toronto - yes the weather was terrible! However, we went to see Dirty Dancing at the Royal Alexandra - it was quite enjoyable. So, we had a nice weekend but Bennett probably had a better one. He hung out with Grandma and Grandpa and got spoiled for two days!

Here are two videos of Bennett. One shows him getting from a lying position to a sitting position. He can do this mostly on his own as you can see. Parents of "typical" children will think this is no big deal but to those with kids with hemiplegia it is a big milestone. Regardless of how you sit up, you need to use the muscles on both sides of your body - this is really hard for kids with hemiplegia - hence the grunting you hear in the video (the grunting is not Jim - HA!)

The second video is just of Bennett and daddy playing ball and having fun.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Our Story: Part 2

Finally, Part 2 of Our Story.

It was September. Fall has always been my favourite season – the cooler temperatures, the misty mornings, the changing colours, and some quiet time in the park. Having worked in parks for 17 years, I always enjoyed this month the most after the hectic rush of July and August.

Jim and I were camping quite often – he would enjoy watching movies with the dog and sitting by the campfire – I would work. I remember one weekend, lying in our trailer, watching a movie. I don’t even remember what it was - but I do remember Jim and I being more entertained by the display of gymnastics taking place in my belly. Finally, at 5.5 months pregnant, I was beginning to believe that we might actually end up will a real live baby!

We discussed names that weekend too and had pretty much settled on Bennett. We liked the name Ben but didn’t like Benjamin. After reading a bit more about the origin and meaning we liked it even more. The Latin meaning of Bennett is “Little Blessed One”. We thought it quite appropriate considering everything we’d been through. The name is also a variant of Benjamin – which means “Right Hand Son”. Interesting how prophetic that would be!

Anyway, I was driving to work – it was Tuesday, September 19th, 2006. It was a nice morning and I was looking forward to getting to work and meeting with my boss who was returning from a well-deserved vacation. It was 7:30 am. I was listening to the news on the radio when suddenly an approaching car swerved in front of me – not a mere cross of the centre line, but a sharp turn. There was nothing I could do but slam on the brakes. I don’t remember anything from the moment the car swerved until the moment I woke up hanging upside down in the van. After that I remember everything. Like one of the police officers explained – this is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is I don’t have sudden unremembered flashbacks. The bad thing is I remember EVERYTHING.

Rather than describe everything that happened next, I’ll list a few of my “memories” from the accident.

Ø I remember not wanting to wake up.

Ø I remember it being dark and smokey in the van – mainly the result of a deployed air bag.

Ø I remember a young man named Adam who crawled inside and did his best to hold my hips up to take the pressure off my pregnant belly. I remember him holding my hand as we talked about his teaching career. I remember him being told to get out of the van when one of the many volunteer firefighters smelled gas. I remember him crawling back in a couple minutes later.

Ø I remember begging them to let me undo my seatbelt and get me out of the van.

Ø I remember people shouting about the fatalities in the other vehicle.

Ø I remember someone telling me that soon my adrenaline would wear off and then I would be in A LOT of pain. Boy was he right.

Ø I remember feeling a light mist on my face as they strapped me onto the stretcher before putting me in the ambulance.

Ø I remember the paramedic who held my hand for the drive to the hospital that seemed to take forever. I remember when we arrived and I finally let go of his hand and how he said he would have a fun time trying to explain the fingernail marks to his girlfriend. I remember telling him that it would be easier than explaining fingernail marks on his back. (Even through all this I remain a smart ass).

Ø I remember hearing screaming in the emergency room and then realizing that it was me as they tried to straighten my foot.

Ø I remember a nurse asking me if it was alright for her to call Jim and tell him that I had been in an accident and just had a broken ankle so he wouldn’t be too freaked out. (Remember what I told you before, in Part 1 of Our Story – whenever someone uses the word “just” – be very suspicious).

Ø I remember being so grateful to be alive but so scared that my baby wasn’t. I NEVER want to feel that kind of paralyzing fear again.

Ø I remember seeing our baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound and feeling such relief but still so much fear that it wouldn’t last.

So, those are some of my memories of what I thought until recently, was the worst day of my life. My injuries included a severe, open subtalar fracture/dislocation of my right ankle. My surgeon would only tell me six months later how close they were to amputating my foot. A distal femur fracture, a broken left wrist and a number of abrasions and bruises that would last for months, including the imprint of a seatbelt rounded out my most serious injuries.

After almost two weeks in the hospital, I returned home to a life that had changed forever. But at least I was still pregnant and hopeful that everything would be ok.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Mummu!

Happy Birthday Mummu! Bowser and I were wondering - where are you and when are you coming back? I think Bowser is really worried that he may have to eat dog food for the rest of his life. Don't worry, I'm still feeding him whenever mommy doesn't see. We all miss you and look forward to you coming home. Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Happy Birthday to my best friend and breakfast partner! Do you notice I'm wearing the new pajamas you bought me the other day? For your birthday I even agreed to wear my Toronto Maple Leafs bib - I just hope no one else notices!
Hope you have a great day - see you for breakfast!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I Think We Need a Kleenex

Today was Bennett’s second physio appt. Once again it went well despite the fact that our boy was not at his best. He is currently getting over his first chest cold and tired about 40 minutes into the session. The therapist reminded us that it is still a great accomplishment as many babies his age have a hard time making it to 40 minutes.

She noticed a definite improvement with him taking weight on his hands and knees and in rolling back and forth into a sitting position, so I guess this week’s work has paid off. We are to continue with this exercise and the stretches.

We have been given two more exercises to do over the next couple of weeks. The first one is a modified baby sit up that consists of us laying him on outstretched legs and pulling him up slowly, letting him do most of the work. This will help strengthen the arm and trunk muscles on the right side. Bennett enjoys this as it closely resembles a favourite game. The other exercise is in the video. This one will strengthen his leg and hip muscles and help with standing. Jim will be responsible for this exercise as we cannot figure out a way for me to do it as it requires kneeling behind him.

The place Bennett goes to for physio is located in an old school. They do outpatient treatments as well as regular classroom activities for children that are not ready to join a mainstream school yet. While we were there yesterday an announcement came over the P.A. system. My first thought was “oh, oh, someone’s in trouble and getting called to the principal’s office”. However, after listening a little more carefully I quickly realized that it wasn’t that type of announcement at all. Instead this is what we heard:

“We would just like to congratulate Sophie from Mrs. Smith’s class. Sophie can now get dressed and undressed all by herself. Congratulations Sophie!”

With that announcement, we stopped to clap and could hear clapping and cheering coming from the other rooms as well. Needless, to say my eyes quickly filled with tears as I thought of how proud she must be along with her parents and therapists and how wonderful it was that we all stopped for a moment to help celebrate this wonderful accomplishment!

I think I need a Kleenex.