What a Difference a Week Makes

August 4, 2008

I’ve returned to Richmond after 9 days in Boston and the changes in Mariah are remarkable.

The flight from Boston to Richmond was delayed by several hours, so KT at 2:30 was the only session of the day I was able to attend. 😦 (Didn’t flying used to be fun and occasionally reliable?) Her therapist, JT, warned me she had made a lot of progress. They began with some basic strength and flexibility work, then moved on to sitting up. Ten days ago, sixty seconds was about her max. Then something would distract her; she’d turn her head and lose her balance and slowly twist into an eccentric orbit that took her down onto the mat. But today she was able to sit up for well over two minutes. During which she moved her eyes and turned her head and torso to see what another patient was up to. The movement made her sway a bit, but she made small controlling movements and pulled herself upright again and again. This was new.

Next came sit ups, three or four sets of ten reps each, again with no muscle assistance from JP. Less than two weeks ago, sit ups were jerky and rapid. Today they were controlled and smooth in both directions. At the top of each sit up, Mariah leaned forward so her lips were near JT’s ear and she mouthed the number of the rep – one, two, and so on. More than once, we could all hear her small, breathy but clear voice as she triumphantly announced her own progress, often with a big smile.

Finally, after “relaxing” with some strength work, she stood erect with a minimum of guidance and support. Again, making small adjustments with her shoulders, hips and legs to maintain her balance and keep herself erect.

Before dinner, Mariah, Ramon, and I retired to the patio for some gentle Virginia breezes and readings from Viktor Frankl’s Holocause memoirs “Man’s Search for Meaning”, including a bit of Nietzsche in the original German that only Mariah understood: “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker” (What does not destroy me, makes me stronger).

Back in the dining room, Mariah devoured a dinner of pureed pork, rice, broccoli, apple juice, and butterscotch pudding, then demanded rather emphatically to be put to bed and left alone.

You’re the boss, Bunny. Sweet dreams.

– Dad

Support for Mariah still comes in many forms. Here are T-shirt designs done by Mariah’s Army buddies at Ft. Belvoir for an upcoming Army 10 Miler. The first three designs are being voted on by the Soldiers of the Vet Command as the T-shirt to buy in support of a speedy recovery for Mariah. The fourth design is the T-shirt the runners will wear in the race. (Click to enlarge.)

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