Eleven and End of 4th Grade

Ren has had a busy six months, which is the last time I wrote on here!  So, here it is in a nutshell:

January:  Ren had a minor bladder procedure, where they inject Botox – yes, Botox – into her bladder.  This helps relax the bladder, which lessens the pressure in the bladder.  Too much pressure there causes urine to go into the kidneys, which can lead to bigger problems.  So far this procedure, along with some daily medication, seems to be keeping that all in check.

 

February:  The PT at her school brought in an adaptive sit-ski for her since her class was in a cross country ski unit.  She loved it, even when she went so fast on the very slick snow that she rammed into a fence.  The poor weather limited her use of it, but it was a great experience in trying it out.


March: 
Ren was invited to a birthday party at an indoor waterpark.  I went along this time, and she had a wonderful time playing in the splash pool and floating along the lazy river for like four hours.  She wanted to stay longer.

 

April:   Her birthday – She turned ELEVEN!  She had a party with friends at the bowling alley and had a great time.  She used the ramp to roll the ball down the lane, mostly independently. Her friends would help her out as needed.

 

May:  Ren’s PT at school also brought in an adaptive handcycle for her to try out.  She did really well and had a lot of fun, despite the amount of energy and work needed to do it.  She only had it for the last couple weeks of school, but hopefully they will be able to use it more next school year.   At the end of the month, she had her piano recital.  Oh, she loves that kind of thing!  She was so excited for this event, and she did a really nice job.

 

 

June:  The school year ended; her fourth grade year is gone….she just refuses to stay a little girl!

One more significant happening:  Ren has been scheduled to get a new wheelchair.  Her current one is on its “last legs” – the front castor wheels bearings are shot so they wiggle constantly, preventing her from going at any decent speed, the wheels’ alignments are off so she is always compensating for that, her brakes are being held in place by a hairband, and it is way too small for her – her knees are way up when sitting.  She’s had it since she was FIVE.  Here’s the thing —- We started this process on January 4th.  SIX MONTHS, and we are still waiting to for approval from insurance.  This is SO frustrating and upsetting.  I have no words to describe how I am feeling about all of this.   Sadly, this is normal for all wheelchair requests.  People have to wait months even to get a repair done.  These wheelchairs are their LEGS, their mode of getting from here to there, and the fact that this happens all the time….is really, really wrong.

Well…That is it for now.  The summer has begun, and she has already been involved with some activities, but I will save that for an end-of-summer blog.

 

 

12/31/17 Wrap up

On this last day of 2017, I just wanted to write up a quick update and some miscellaneous regarding the end of the year for Ren:

Leg Surgery:  On my last post, I mentioned that Ren would be having leg surgery.  She did in fact have this surgery in mid-October.  It was a “simple” outpatient surgery that involved placing some hardware on her growth plate on her knee, in order to stop growth.  What?  Stop growth, you say?  Yes.  The purpose of the surgery is to hopefully straighten out her right leg (see pic below).  The theory is that stopping the growth on the inside of the knee will allow the other side of the leg to continue to grow, thus straightening out the leg.  This has like a 99% success rate in “typical” children.  I did some research, though, and did find a case of a 4-year-old child with spina bifida having a similar surgery that did have success.  It takes a long time to see results, though, as we are waiting for the bones to grow.  For this one child, it took 2 years for it to be corrected.  So, in not less than 6 months, the doctor will take a look to see how things are going.  Pray that it is successful – that her leg will straighten out and that no complications will occur!

 

Halloween:  We did not do a creative costume this year, despite my good intentions.  Due to lack of time and energy, I dug through our bin of old costumes, and pulled out a Packer outfit which she also wore when she was like 4.  Somehow we made it work, though this will be the last time she can squeeze into it.  We did a short run of trick or treating — Trick or treating in a wheelchair in the cold weather is not a lot of fun.  And, let me tell you, it is on this night each year that I REALLY notice all of the NON-wheelchair friendly homes out there.  There were only 1 or 2 houses where Ren could go all the way to the door.  All of the other houses had steps, which made it impossible for her to go up to.  Thankfully most people were nice enough to bring the candy to her, or allow her brother or dad to bring it to her.

Christmas:  Ren’s school does a Christmas music program each year.  I have always been happy with the school’s intention of making sure she is fully included.  By this I just mean that they have always made sure she is standing up with her class – not separate on the floor while the rest of the class is on the risers (this happened in a previous school she attended).  Sounds like a little thing, but it is really big, and it means a lot.  This year she again stood using her walker – other staff carried her up and down the stairs to the stage, again something I am grateful for them doing.  It’s great to see her doing some singing too….in her earlier years, she just stood there looking cute.  OH!  And, this year she played “Jingle Bells” on the piano for pre-concert entertainment along with a few other kids.  They rotated at the piano, each playing a couple of times.  SO proud of her for doing this in front of the audience!

For the last couple of months, Ren has been telling T that she wants to learn how to play the guitar.  Her dad does some playing on his own, so he was very excited to hear this.  Since she was persistent in this request, we relented and found a mini-guitar to give her for Christmas.  She was VERY excited.

 

God is Good:  This last event is just something I wanted to share because it is pretty awesome.  One November day in church, Ren was filling out the “I Wish” pamphlet.  This is what I discovered Ren had written – all on her own – for why she wants to thank God:

I love this because in the recent past, she has lamented to me about her having spina bifida.  She would ask, “When am I going to be like my friends?”  “When am I not going to need my wheelchair?” “When will I be able to walk?” and was feeling quite sad about it all.  This made ME feel sad, and I tried to comfort her, saying that she is working on walking – that her surgery will hopefully make her leg stronger, and she will hopefully be able to walk with crutches some day.  But, then these words came in my mind and I shared with her: “But, what matters the most, is that God made you. And he does NOT make mistakes, and what He creates is always good, which means you are made good, and that you are the way that He wants you to be.”  She seemed satisfied with this last answer…so, to see her write that made me think that she too believes this.

It’s not that we are happy with or wish this disability on her, nor would we reject any opportunity of healing, as it of course brings its challenges for her.  But – It’s more of being okay with it because God created her, and there is purpose in it.  God does NOT make mistakes.  And He is good, all the time.

 

10/1/17 – A Real Princess! And, New Braces & Shoes

So, Ren is part of our town’s royalty. She is 1st Runner Up for Little Miss of our town!  Before you get too impressed, please know that this is not a competition for the little ones. It is literally a name drawn out of a hat.  There were four little girls at the ceremony, and three were randomly drawn to represent our town’s Little Miss royalty.  Their job?  To ride on a float in parades with the older girls royalty.

Late this summer, while at a local parade, Ren made the comment to me that she’d like to be in a parade someday.  So, as the royalty float for our community rode by, I said, would you like to do that?  And, she said, “Yes!”  So,  I filled out the “application” for the Little Miss of our small town (which was just a set of basic questions:  What is your favorite subject, Do you have any pets, etc) and handed it into the city hall.  On a Saturday morning in September, her name was drawn for the 1st Runner Up.  She got her sparkly crown and her long sash, and rode on the float later that evening, waving to everyone, and LOVING it.    I have to admit, I was a little nervous how she would do, if she would like sitting on a float waving to strangers, and hanging out with unfamiliar girls of all ages at the Queen’s Tea, which I learned is a traditional gathering of royalty before the parades.  But, she has been in three parades and LOVES it and can’t wait for the next one.

The other news we have, which may seem like something little to those who have normal feet, is that she got new shoes!  These are not any regular shoe, but a specially designed shoe by NIKE, called Fly Ease, which has this cool zipper going around the shoe and Velcroing (is that a word?) closed.  We have tried out other orthotic shoes, and some work okay, but none have really looked “normal.”  These shoes make it so easy to put her shoes on and off, AND they look cool.  LOVE them.  She also got new braces at the end of summer.  It took awhile for her to be able to wear them regularly, as they had caused some sores on her leg and so we had to get them adjusted, and she had to stay off them for awhile to allow time for the sores to heal, but they seem to be good now, and they are nice and colorful.

 

In a week and a half, Ren will be going in for leg surgery.  I will update you on this as this happens.  But, prayers for a successful and safe surgery would be great!

 

 

8/20/17 Summer Fun

Another fun-filled summer is coming to an end.  Ren stayed pretty busy, which means I stayed pretty busy!  She again had horse back riding, swimming, dancing, and summer school.  But, new this summer was trying out water skiing!  Twice this summer, in June and August, she was able to attend an adaptive water ski event, where two water skiing teams and an organization called NASA (North American Squirrel Association) partnered in providing this opportunity for individuals with physical and other disabilities.  The first time in June, the weather was awful ~ cold, rainy, and a storm coming in resulted in a shortened time with only one ski run in.  But, she loved it so much she wanted to go again in August.  So, a few days ago, she attended again ~ once again in colder rainy conditions, but no storms so she got in three runs this time before she decided she was too tired and cold to go anymore.  What a great thing though for organizations to provide (at no cost) and for people to volunteer in order to give these kids this chance to try something they normally would not be able to do.  I’m so thankful for them.

 In July, she again attended a week long dance camp.  Last year was ballet, this year was a musical theater.  She had fun, but when the recital came, she had stage fright!  Whenever she looked at us, she froze!   She had three dances.  Two of them she was in her wheelchair, and one she used her walker.  Thanks again to the dance studio for making accommodations for her!

We have a trampoline that she bounces around on, and the horse riding that she has been doing helps her balance and core strength, which is needed to eventually walk with arm crutches.  One day this summer, we traveled to meet a man who is paralyzed from the chest down and in a wheelchair, yet still owns and runs his own horse ranch and rides independently.  The day we came to see him, he and his wife were in the midst of packing for a several week trip out west to ride on trails.  He took time to show us how he is able to do everything, with some modifications and accommodations here and there.  It was good for Ren to see how someone who is like her is able to do things.  We are hoping to see him again, perhaps at a horse show in September.

 

The swimming she did over the summer also benefits her entire body.  She has had two 1:1 lessons at the YMCA, and for the first time in a long time, she has an instructor who is actually teaching her how to swim.  She has ALWAYS loved the water, but she has always been hesitant at going under water, and not many instructors have actually worked on helping her to learn how to swim in a way that does not require the use of her legs.  It’s possible to do so, we’ve seen it – but finally she now has someone helping her do this again.  She has made huge progress just in this short amount of time. I’m so excited for her!  Besides the lessons, Ren was at a couple of pools this summer and showed me once again how independent she can be and wants to be…so much that she scares me a little bit!

Along with all of these activities were some trips to some zoos and playgrounds and time with relatives.  OH, yes, and a big trip out east with our family!

 

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So, only a couple of weeks before summer is gone and she goes back to school….and in fourth grade.  Why do our children have to grow up so fast?!   We are looking forward to a great school year, and hoping to see great progress in all her skills.  Please pray for her to grow cognitively so she can keep up with school, socially so she can grow in friendships, and physically so she can be strong enough to learn to walk with arm crutches.

John 9:2-3:   As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

 

 

 

4/22/17 TEN!

Ten.  Our daughter Ren turned 10  years old this week.  TEN!  Ten years ago, we brought into this world a beautiful little girl with spina bifida.  We had no idea what our reality would be.  I still remember the night of her birth.  As I was lying down preparing for the C-section, I put all trust into God’s hands.  I was nervous, but at peace.  I remember saying, “Thy will be done, Lord.”  Well, His will is pretty awesome.   It has been ten years of some challenges, some extra work, some scares, some hospital stays, some disappointments, some sadness, but mostly….JOY.  She brings so much JOY into our lives.

Ren enjoyed three celebrations of her birthday.  One at her grandparents with cousins, aunts, and uncles; one at our house with just our family; and one with her friends from school.  She was happy with every single one of her gifts, as usual.  She had just a pink birthday cake, because she could not think of any theme to have.  Apparently she is too old for that.  I asked about a Frozen theme, and she cocks her head to the side, chin down, gives me a look and says, “Mo00mmmmmmm!” as in – are you kidding me?  TEN!

She received a little extra surprise gift for her birthday too.  We had gotten this toy ATV about a year ago.  Since it is difficult for her to roll around in her wheelchair outside in our yard, we thought this would provide a way for her to be able to ride around the land in a faster, more efficient way.  However, it was foot-powered.  She had to press on a pedal with her foot to make it run.  She is unable to do that.  She needed it to be hand-powered.  T attempted to start the task, but….it didn’t happen.  So, I contacted an organization that does these things, and through them made some connections with the engineering department at a state university, but they were 3 hours away and it just never worked out to meet up with them.  Since it’s now (finally) spring, I started thinking about it again, and on a whim the other night, I put an ad in a Facebook “for sale” area group, asking for help in modifying her ATV.  I received 3-4 responses within a half hour.  One of them said, “My husband can do it.  He will do it for free.”  Wow!  I bring the ATV to him Friday evening, they tell us late that night it’s ready and we can get it the next day.  Wow!  We went last night to pick it up, and it works perfectly, and Ren LOVES it!  She was SO happy and giddy trying that thing out.  In watching her, the man said, “Oh, that just made my day!”  He did it out of pure generosity and kindness.  Just a nice guy wanting to help someone out.  We gave him some pure maple syrup as a token of appreciation, and in their conversation, T also offered to set up his business website for him.  On the way home, Ren says, “Can I practice riding that ATV every day??”

Since it has been 8 months since my last update (!), here’s a quick recap:   In September she started school. She is in 3rd grade and still loves school.  For Halloween, we made her Vanna from Wheel of Fortune and she won first place in her age group costume contest.   In December, she stood up with her walker and sang with her class during the Christmas program (sadly, no good picture of it). In January (well, all Dec-Feb), she was at a lot of her brothers’ wrestling meets, making friends with strangers.  In February she played in a piano recital, which she was so excited for and did a nice job.  I played a duet with her…..we messed up….and laughed about it.  And in April, she turned 10!

This girl is our little miracle.  Our bundle of joy – literally.  Happy 10th birthday, Ren!

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8/7/16 Festival Fun

This last week, my husband organized a festival, called Athanatos Arts and Apologetics Festival.  It is a Christian festival, focusing on the arts (music, film, literature, art, etc) and on apologetics (defending the faith).   There was a speaker from Thailand and an author from Egypt.  There were presentations on education, human trafficking, zombie apocalypses,  confederate soldiers, arguments for God, and much much more.  There were authors from around the country who talked about their books and writing experiences.  There was music ranging from Celtic, to classical guitar, to pop/soul, to Christian rock.  There were screenings of movies, including one which gave its first public showing by its producer there.  There were workshops on writing and music, an improv comedy show, and a DJ.  There was a vendor tent and of course a food tent.  And more.  There was exceptional fellowship and fun while building faiths and relationships.  It was its first festival, and one of the best ones I have been to.

Now, why do I talk about this festival on Ren’s blog?  Because the birth of Ren is one of the factors that led Tony to formally creating his ministry organization…which led to his prolife involvement….which led to his publishing company…which led to his writing contests…which led to him wanting a place where his authors could have a platform…which led to this festival.

And, Ren had a great time there too.  She and another girl became friends, playing together and giggling their heads off.  (See pics below) I checked on her occasionally but she was left (happily) on her own for much of the time, and I was okay with that knowing she was in a safe environment and knew she had others checking her too. She ate a lot, rolled around in her wheelchair, walked around in her walker, listened to the music with us, and laughed…a lot.

If you are in the Wisconsin/Minnesota area next August, I strongly encourage you to look into attending this festival.  I am not being biased, either.  Well, maybe a little.  But, everyone whom I talked to who had attended had a great time and insisted it repeat next year.  Here is the website to his ministry organization:  http://athanatosministries.org/  and the festival, though it will change for next year, of course:  http://christianartsfestival.us/ There is a Facebook page as well that has photos and videos of the event:  https://www.facebook.com/ACMArtsFestival/?fref=ts

Thank you to those who came to show your support for either Tony, our family, or the ministry in general.  Your presence was appreciated beyond what you will know.   Even those who could not come but at least gave simple words of encouragement.  That too we are thankful for and appreciate.  Really and truly.

“He has set eternity in the hearts of men.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

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Ren’s new friend helping her put on her braces

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7/28/16 Summer Fun

The summer has been flying by, and this partly due to Ren being in so many different activities.  She has worn me out!  She started out the summer with Summer School, which was in the mornings for 5 weeks.  On one of those days, the elementary school took a field trip to a trampoline park. I came with as a staff member, and so I was able to see this girl-who-cannot-walk crawl around and “jump” on the trampolines, and dive into the foam blocks all on her own.  Well, scratch that, she COULD do it on her own, but bless all her friends and schoolmates for taking care of her when they thought she needed it.  I watched her for awhile, but wandered away most of the time after I realized she was just fine on her own. She had a blast.

For the last two weeks of summer school, she was able to participate in swimming lessons through the school.  They provided her with a 1:1 instructor, and she loved it of course.  We just literally three days ago put up our own pool in the backyard (I know, a bit late…but better late than never, right?), and she has enjoyed that the couple of times in there so far.  Hopefully there will still be plenty of weeks left to enjoy it before fall weather approaches.

A few years ago, Ren was in horse therapy.  I had read that it is really good for the rider’s core and balance.  So, I looked into it a bit around here, but in the end, we found the next best thing.  Some friends of ours have horses, and so about once a week, she goes riding for about an hour.  Not formally horse therapy, but I know that just riding on the horse is good for her core and balance.  They have her do some activities, like throwing a ball into a bucket throughout the session, so that gives her body a good workout and somewhat therapy related.  We are still doing that; in fact, we just went again today.  I’m thankful that we are able to do this, and so close by!  She always enjoys going horse riding!

Every two weeks, Ren has also been going to physical therapy.  The therapist is introducing her to walking with forearm crutches.  It is and will be a slow process, but if we can strengthen up her core and balance, and other muscles, then maybe it can start working for her.  I really would like her to be able to walk with these crutches for even just short distances, really just so she can at least walk around the house.  If she could do that someday, that would be fantastic.  Now, if only we could remember to do the exercises that the PT tells us to do…..

Ren has always, always, always wanted to be in dance.  In the past she often talked about going to her “dancer place,” and though it was an imaginary place, it was a real dream for her.  So, I decided to check into this too.  I corresponded with an area dance studio, inquiring as to whether or not they would be willing to accommodate for her in one of their week long dance camps.  They were happy to oblige, and so we signed up for the ballet camp.  I figured this would be easiest for her to be a part of, and it worked well within our schedule.  She had her wheelchair, and she wore her KAFO (tall) braces, so that she could stand at a ballet bar for part of the time.  I drove her the 40 minutes to get there and watched through the window as she worked so hard to move her leg around in the different positions, and I saw her do her own modifications of the movements that she was unable to do.  I watched her make things work for her, even if she did not keep up totally with the others.  I watched the other children look at her curiously for first day or two, and then quickly see her as just another girl who was a part of the group and did things differently.  The dance instructor incorporated her well into the three dances they practiced; with her at the bar for one dance, and then in her wheelchair for the other two, and there was a high school dancer nearby to help when needed.  I watched Ren soak in this wonderful opportunity, enjoying every second.  She LOVED it.  I am so thankful for the people who recommended this place, and for the staff who worked with her.  I am sure we will be looking into it again next summer.  Because for one week, she got to be a real dancer, in a real dancer place.

I guess that is it!  Below are some pictures and a video (please ignore my frantic request at the end for a student to go check on her; it was the first time she had gone, and she freaked me out.  She came out laughing, of course) of her having summer fun.  Until next time!

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5/10/16 Spina Bifida Clinic

Today, Ren had Spina Bifida Clinic.  This means we left our home at 6:30 to be at the clinic by 7:20 for a day of appointments with many of her doctors.  It is great because we meet with all her specialists in one place, in one day.  It is hard because we we meet with all her specialists in one place, in one day.

The morning started out with an ultrasound on her kidneys and bladder.  It’s important to check the health of these organs regularly; if there is any reflux (the backward flow of urine from bladder to kidney), then we need to address this to prevent more complications.  When we met with the urologist later that morning, he relayed that everything looks good, so yay!

Ren then met with the speech pathologist to have a speech evaluation this morning, as she is going to receive speech therapy there during the summer months.  Nothing new here; all her weak areas we already knew about.  She then had an OT evaluation.  The therapist saw nice improvement in some areas since the last evaluation.  Yay!

We also met with the physical medicine/rehabilitation doctor, the orthotist, and the physical therapist.  Ren had her white straps on her KAFO braces changed to black (per my request!), and the inside bracket on her left brace taken off, to lessen the chance of her braces knocking into each other while she walks.  They had her do some walking and they decided she is looking pretty good, and it seems like they feel that moving onto working on using forearm crutches is the next step.  Ren will also receive some PT this summer, and that skill will be worked on during those sessions.  Yay, again!

The neurologist came in for a visit, mainly to make sure things are going okay.  And, guess what?  Ren has been off of seizure medication for 5 months now, seizure free.  So, yes, things are going GREAT!

A social worker met briefly with us as well, and she gave us information about a couple other resources that I had either forgotten about, or had not heard about.  Then, we met with the OT again and a rep from a medical equipment supplier, whom looked at her wheelchair and set up an order for a new, bigger seat cushion for her, as well as replacing a few parts that were chewed up by our annoying cute puppies.  And, finally, we met with the new pediatric neurosurgeon to “establish care.”  He reminded us of the symptoms of shunt malfunction or infection to watch for, and he is having us set up an appointment for her to come in for a CAT scan and x-ray of her brain and spine, so he can have a baseline to compare to if there are issues in the future.

Finally, approximately 8 hours after we had arrived, we were finished for the day.  But, it was a good day, with lots of good information, and good prognoses.  And, Ren, of course, was happy throughout the entire thing (first pic).  The hymn “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow” comes to my mind, and Psalm 136:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”  God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  On good days, like today, but even not-so-good days.

Here are a few pics to end with:  See descriptions below pics for more info on each 🙂

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2nd pic:  Ren working hard being independent on the playground.  I have seen nice improvement in her ability to lift her legs up steps!

3rd pic:  Ren practicing walking at school with an aide.  This is most likely the reason for her growing leg strength, as she does this everyday for 10-15 minutes.

4th pic:  Ren with her cousin on a stroll.  Sweet memories!

1/19/16 No Limits, Please

This is just a short one, but it has been on my mind for quite some time, so I am sharing it here.

I am not going to go into detail, but there have been times where we have been told certain things about what Ren will and will not be able to do…or be.  If there is one thing that makes me upset, it is when people put limits on our child.  I think the problem is that people think that we do not have a realistic view of Ren and her abilities.  The thing is:  we do.  We are VERY aware of her weaknesses, we realize how delayed she is in areas, and we don’t need people reminding us of this. HOWEVER, we also know that if we limit our expectations, our hope, of what she can do in the future, then we are limiting HER potential.   Why put limits on what has no limits?  Who are we to limit her?  Who are we to limit GOD?  I remember hearing about a study where parents who had a child with spina bifida, no matter their “level” of the disability, were told either positive or negative futures about their child.  Those who were told negatives, many of those children did not thrive.  Those who were told positives, they thrived.  If people BELIEVE that the child can thrive, can progress, can achieve, can succeed, then there is more of a chance this will happen.  Though WE believe this, no matter what anyone tells us, we also expect OTHERS to believe this about our child too, if they are to be involved in her life.  Otherwise, she WILL be limited.

Here are some No Limits memories:

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No limits

No limits

No limits

No limits

No limits

1/19/16 Inpatient Therapy

Ren has returned from her inpatient therapy program, a few days early.  She stayed for one week in the pediatric wing of the hospital, with the goals of getting her physically back to where she was from before her leg surgery in a shorter amount of time compared to doing outpatient therapy once/twice a week for weeks or months.  Each weekday was filled with a few hours of physical and occupational therapy, and the rest of the time filled with either school work with a tutor, speech therapy, music therapy, with a Child Life Specialist, or playing with a volunteer.  She was kept busy from 8:00 until about 4:00 each day, sometimes later.  I was only there over the weekend, from Friday evening until Sunday evening, and her schedule was extremely light on those days, with PT and OT just an hour each on Saturday, and only 1 hour of PT on Sunday.  T was with her two nights, and Grandma three nights, so she had someone with her every night.

Though our feelings about the experience are mixed, here are some things that came out of it:

  1.  It has been determined that Ren needs to go back to wearing KAFOs (the longer leg braces) on both legs, as she just does not have the leg strength to wear only the AFOs.   They fitted her for these braces, which will be ready in a couple of weeks.
  2.  The PTs were instructed to try out “loft strand” arm crutches, to see if she could learn to use these this week, and again, she is just too weak to be able to use these yet.  Perhaps a long-term goal.  Nothing new there; it’s been a long-term goal for, a long time.
  3.  Ren has been using these power-assist wheels with her wheelchair, and we recently got new manual wheels for her to be able to use as well.  We have decided to switch to using these for the winter, as it seems her arm strength has decreased a bit from not having to push the wheels.
  4.  They are going to recommend to the school to set up a walking program for Ren, where she walks for a certain amount of time each day with someone, to help increase her leg strength.
  5.  We were given some stretches and exercises to do with Ren at home, to continue to get her strength and flexibility back.

So, we are so glad to have Ren home; she is so happy to be back to school.  (She CHEERED when she realized she could go back today).  We are hoping for things to slow down a little again for her, as she has had quite a bit going on since October.  A few more appointments to check in on her orthotics and on her recent bladder surgery…..and then hopefully she can take a break for awhile!  We had a good run – almost two years – before all of this, so we are grateful for that, and hope to have another run like that again soon.