Thursday, November 20, 2014

There's Always Room for Hope

© Jules315 | - Superman Photo

I love these kinds of surprises.

"I think he can do much more than he's doing now," the physical therapist said as she helped my thirty-six-year-old son through a series of exercises. "I've seen people with a lot less do a lot more."

Music to my ears.

It's been over seventeen years since my son Kevin suffered a spinal injury in a fall. He was originally paralyzed from the neck down and was on life support for two years.

Today he can walk with help, run a computer, feed himself some foods, and feel or move nearly every part of his body.

Not paralyzed, just really tired.

His older brother Erik likes to joke that Kevin's not actually paralyzed, just "really tired."

He worked very hard during the first years to wean off the vent during his sleeping hours, move his body again in small ways, and fight off the regular complications of a high-level spinal cord injury.

Then his progress seemed to plateau. He and the family, now full-time caregivers, got too tired and discouraged to keep on fighting for a return to a normal body.

Kevin turned his attention to building a new life. We fell into a new kind of normal, accepting and enjoying the life we have. We've just been thankful to have each other and the good health to be home together.

Then a recent succession of injuries in the family forced us to reconsider transfer options. The Hoyler lift was out. Kevin can sit and walk to and from the wheelchair with help. An online search revealed that a lot has changed since Kevin was first injured in 1997. There's some awesome adaptive equipment out there.

A different kind of super man.

So Kevin has been traveling to an outpatient facility in a nearby city. There, we've been encouraged to believe again in what we've suspected all along: Kevin can do more. What amazing news for a man who was dubbed by one of his original surgeons as "another Christopher Reeve." For those of you who don't know who that is, Christopher Reeve was an actor who played the part of the comic book hero Superman in the movies. In 1995, Reeve was thrown from a horse and suffered a spinal cord injury that nearly killed him. He was totally paralyzed from the neck down and spent the rest of his life on life support. He died in 2004 from complications of his injury.

Today, Kevin is healthy and working hard on his exercises to awaken the old muscles and strengthen the ones he uses now. We're cautiously optimistic. The physical therapists want to try out the Rifton Tram in a couple of weeks and see if it will work for transfers and increased ambulation. We'll let you know how it goes.

Here's the link for the company.

Don't you love surprises?

As a caregiver, have you found that it's easy to fall into a routine and forget to push for new progress with your loved one?

What adaptive equipment have you found that makes your life easier as a caregiver?

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