Labor Day Weekend Update

The triple digit weather in north Texas has seemed to finally broken. Our resolve has not. Shaken, yes, but not broken. The daily battle to remain positive, patient and persevering continues to wage; with each passing day, it becomes a little more difficult. We find ourselves hoping to see something new, something that will bolster our resolve and give us strength for the next day. We were warned about these dry spells of little improvement, times when it seems Claire’s recovery would start to plateau. We knew they would come; we were still ill-prepared. When Claire is making progress and reclaiming pieces of her former self, our operational load is bearable: we work hard through each day knowing that we’re seeing improvement. During these times of seeming little to no improvement, we begin to wonder if were spinning our wheels. “Why isn’t she getting better?” we ask. Bill Murray said it better than I can in What About Bob: “Come on. I’ve come so far. I’m doing the work. Gimme, gimme, gimme. I need. I need. I need.” It’s a roller coaster. And it’s the worst ride I’ve been on and I want to get off. But I’ll stay on as long as Claire has to ride it too. I’ll stay on it for the rest of my life if it means she gets better. I wish it were that easy and transactional.

Since we hit this slower period, we’ve evaluated whether there are additional strategies we could employ. Last night I dreamed that Claire pushed up on her arms into a crawling position. I woke up from this enjoyable imagery thinking about what was missing from Claire’s routine. One thing I feel has been lost over the last few weeks is the testing of Claire’s limits. For the first few weeks after we got home everything was still new. We were trying new exercises and stretches and Claire was working hard. She was uncomfortable and she was challenged. I think we’ve retained the first part of that equations – Claire is still uncomfortable – but we lost the second part: the challenge is missing. I’m borrowing a page from kinesiosology and musculature: variety is better for muscle-building. Exercise routines typically hit a plateau period as the body becomes adjusted to the routine. The body requires a shock after two to four weeks of routine in order to increase metabolic process efficiency and become stronger. We’ve found that Claire’s body is still sore from general atrophy and the brain shock, but we’re not seeing real progress in muscle strength. Her arms have good range of motion, however, they are very weak and cannot support her body weight. We have no reason to expect that they would after an injury like this. But it’s our job now to get them back into shape. They won’t with our existing routine. So we took steps to augment that routine today.

Claire will start doing more challenging exercises this week. We bought a peanut ball this weekend so Claire can strengthen her arms and shoulders under her own weight. We’re also going to begin incorporating more strength building exercises for her legs and core. We’re going to take it slow enough to avoid strain, but push enough that Claire gets a workout. We hope that with the increased strength will come additional control and purpose.

Aside from those changes, the weekend was uneventful for Claire. My dad arrived yesterday for a short visit and that has been the weekend’s highlight. We’re sad that it’s such a short visit, but happy to see him.

We hope your weekend was wonderful. We thank you as always for your support. Enjoy your short week!

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