That's Heath checking out the vantage point atop Daphne's glorious momo and looking like a very big boy indeed. Daphne is a fabulous and far-out nurse who has been coming over to do massage and energy healing with Heath for a few months while he chills out to Raffi videos. This week, she commented that he seems more solid in his neck, arms and shoulders, as well as his hips and legs. I can feel it too! For the first time, actual triceps have been detected! In other words, his intensive training at Rehab Without Walls is making a difference we can all see and feel.
His walks to the corner are getting easier. He can stand up in his high chair and bend waaay over the table to grab food and come up again without a hitch. He is pulling up to the coffee table and getting down on his own routinely. He is even throwing himself down on all fours for fun! Heath is terribly excited about having a little more strength, and loves to show off his muscles by sticking his arms out straight in front of him like Superman. He then says "Dada! Hun'ner!" reminding us to compare his guns to those of his favorite heros (Hunter is his first and only male therapist -- see last week's post for more on Heath's passionate affection for him).
It's been hard work and we're only half way through the three-week program but his therapists are really impressed with his progress and determination. Heath has increased his glute-building weights from 10 reps with 2 kilos to 40 reps with 3 kilos (thanks in part to motivation provided by a giant stuffed Elmo). Not bad!! He made similar gains in swinging his legs out to the side against a weight. Studies show that this type of training will give him a faster gait and a longer stride.
Here's a video of him trucking down the block by himself for the second time ever. He's wearing a splint on his weaker right arm, which will eventually come off.
Does he want to turn around and go home? No way!
In between intense bursts of weight lifting, walking, standing, assisted crawling, and other tough tasks, Heath works on improving his posture and balance while coloring, tossing a ball, or playing with occupational therapist Amy. Here he is sitting straighter than I usually do....
Despite the hard work and occasional upset, Heath continues to talk excitedly about Hunter and Amy on a semi-constant basis. He experienced some minor devastastion when he realized we weren't going to the clinic on Saturday and he freaked when we drove past the exit on Sunday. The jump-start to his strength and intense focus on movement tasks might be spilling over into other developmental areas. He is saying new words every day ("nostril," "elbow," "mole") and poring over a set of magnetic letters handed down to us by friends Maria and Michaela. He hunts for the few he knows, crying out "EMMM!", "ELLLL!", "OOOOOO!", etc. and begging me to spell out ELK, DADA, and -- you guessed it -- HUNTER.
Last but not least, our boy was weighed this week and lo and behold, he had leaped 8 percentage points on the growth curve since October. I was stunned, having half expected him to be still paddling around in the realm of dragons and sea-monsters that lays in the void beneath the curve. Nope -- he's gained a pound and nine ounces. We knew he was chunking up because his ribs and shoulder blades vanished sometime around Christmas, but it was incredibly affirming to see this wonderful gain after the weight loss he experienced while adjusting to becoming an oral eater. We knew in our hearts it would just take time -- eight months to be exact -- but now he truly is a regular kid in the eating department. He even munches corn dogs on special outings, just like I did when I was a kid.
We have another week and a half of intensive therapy left, about 100 boxes to pack, and then Heath and I will fly to our new home in Missoula on February 6! Peanut and his dad will drive our stuff over the pass and meet us there. Many thanks to Doug and Daria for putting me up during a 24-hour whirlwind house-hunting trip and finding us this sweet house, which is walking distance to the distillery, Heath's preschool, the park, cafes, and Doug and Daria's place....
It will be great to see Heath walk down those steps some day and play in the snow!
Daria and her 18-month old daughter Gia are headed to Seattle on Saturday to begin a two-week intensive tube weaning program at Seattle Children's Hospital with Karen Quinn-Shea. We are looking forward to cheering them on, throwing a few baby picnics, and celebrating the fact that Gia is getting her shot at becoming an eater! Keep your fingers crossed for her!