The Whoopee Challenge

August 5, 2008

Therapy is an interesting experience. When you master something, it’s time to do something harder. Take sitting, for example. Mariah’s able to sit upright without support for minutes at a time. So rather than simply sit upright for even more minutes, thus wasting precious time, her PT coach challenged her to sit upright on an unstable, tilting surface – a solid disk attached to a compressible rubber hemisphere. Uneasy about the prospects, I accused the therapist of trying to get Mariah to perch on a whoopee cushion. Laughing, Mariah mouthed the appropriate sound effects.

The whoopee perch was indeed a huge challenge, and Mariah focused like a laser on the task. Of course, she succeeded, gave her coach a satisfied smile, and settled back against her coach for a moment of rest. (Click to enlarge.)

By the way, the shirt says “Coca Cola” in Hebrew, both of which Mariah likes.

That reminds me, she ate four large meals, and tried to chomp a nurse’s watch when her wrist got too close to the eating machine mid-chew. The nurse playfully pulled back complaining, and Mariah laughed out loud but suddenly lunged forward and licked at the crystal with a maniacal look in her eye. Maybe nearly two months of an all-liquid diet does funny things to a person. Or maybe it’s the drinking water in the hospital.

🙂 – Mark


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.)

Chocolate Therapy

August 2, 2008


It was a joy spending my last day of the week with both Mariah and our mom, who came in last evening to spend the weekend with Mariah.

Mariah has been pretty down the past two days. She let me know through my questioning that she is dealing with some of the difficult feelings and heavy moods that come with the devasting struggle she is working through. I am happy to say that other than keeping to her room and kicking me out a few times yesterday, she engaged in her rehab sessions to the best of her ability and is picking up a bit here on Saturday.

At the moment, she is visiting with dear friends Frank and Jane Greeves. She lit up like a lightbulb when we popped two Kron chocolate truffles in her mouth. Frank and Jane are the big hit of the weekend with their chocolate surprise. She had the biggest smile of satisfaction on her face that I have ever seen in my life….no lie. Her mood has picked up a little today and her recovery continues forward…

Thanks to everyone for their continued prayers and support.

Love and Light,