Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Best Doctor's Appointment Ever

Lizzy had an appointment with the neurologist on Monday, and it is the best doctor's appointment that I have ever been to.  More about that later (I believe that is called a teaser). . .

Lizzy's therapy is coming along really well.  She was given permission this week to go up and down stairs with only one foot on each step (the way most people do).  Before, she could go upstairs, but she had to put both feet on each step.  It was slower but reduced the stress on Lizzy's right leg.  She didn't like it, so this is a great event.  She isn't much faster, honestly.  But she feels better about it and it is one step closer to being back to normal.

Her hand usage continues to improve.  However, she is starting to battle 'tone'.  Tone is when the muscles contract on their own.  In Lizzy's case it affected her fingers.  So, her right hand would be clenched into a fist all of the time.  It is a sign that more functionality and control are returning.  Ironically, though, it also slows down progress because you can't work your hand as you want.  For example, we had to stop a number of times during her night time exercises to straighten out and massage her fingers.  The therapists figured that this was coming so they had already taken some steps to fight it a little bit.  This last Friday she was fit with a Saebo brace.  It's like an ironing board that runs from her elbow down to the tips of her fingers and we strap her arm and hand in (with the fingers straightened out).  She sleeps in that every night, although she moves so much that it slips off some during the night.  Still, it already seems to be having some effect.  Also, this Friday, Lizzy will go in and get botox shots in her hand and wrist (yep, same botox, different purpose-- original purpose actually).  That will keep her muscles from spontaneously contracting and put them more under her control.  According to the therapists, it should be a great help.  So, we are looking forward to it.

Lizzy's speech and cognitive abilities continue to improve.  She is reading more and more on her own and out loud (each night as part of homework she reads aloud).  In fact, the last couple of weeks we have caught her reading on her own a couple of times.  This is big.  Before the stroke, Lizzy would disappear into her room for a couple of hours at a time to read.  Since the stroke, though, she has trouble staying on the right line as she reads.  As a result, she will skip sections of the text or insert words from the line below into what she is reading.  Couple that with the difficulty in maintaining the necessary concentration to understand what she reads and you can see why she kind of stopped reading.  She is getting back in the saddle, though, and everyday is better.  So, this last week when I caught her reading the Reader's Digest while she was waiting for us, I almost squeezed her stuffing out, as Hannah would say. 

Well, for the big news.  Lizzy met with the neurologist this week.  This is the same doctor who oversaw her care in Children's Mercy and we really like him.  He examined her and talked with her.  He was really impressed with her strength and said that her strength was not an issue at all.  All we are waiting for is the brain to learn the way to her arm and foot again.  He was especially impressed with the top 80% of her arm and leg.  Her wrist, hand, ankle, and foot still have some distance to go, but he said that she was AHEAD OF THE CURVE in terms of recovery.  Also, he took brain surgery off the table.  It might be put back on the table at some point, but only if things radically change.  NO TRIP TO HOUSTON for us.  Lizzy is a little disappointed in this, because she thought it would be kind of cool to have some metal in her head, but she is over the disappointment.  :) 

Well, as you can see, the prayers are working.  We are so grateful to have such a warm group of friends and such a caring, giving community.  Thank you to all of you for all of your kindness and thoughtfulness. 

Tom and Julie and Lizzy Smith

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