Day 12 – Some New Sight…And New Speech

Caleb's Dad ~ 22nd November 2010

Wow!  I can tell this post is going to be really long if I am not careful.  If some of Caleb’s last progress reports were like an hour long sitcom, what we’ve seen today would be like watching a three hour epic drama.  There’s so much to talk about!

Caleb’s day of rest really paid off.  He woke up this morning chipper and ready to go.  We began the day with John, one of our occupational therapists. The first thing we worked on was Caleb’s vision. Caleb was sitting in what is known as the small gym—a smaller room filled with toys, a practice mat, and a table with a few chairs.  He was sitting in his newest piece of equipment—a high chair, for eating. His hands were resting on the white tray attached to the chair in front of him.

John pulled out one of those powerful little massaging vibration devices, one of the ones that have four little legs on it, with red colored light up balls on the end.  He turned it on full throttle and placed it on the plastic tray.  The buzzing sound was so intense you could hear it out into the hallway. The vibration of the tray immediately caught Caleb’s attention.  “This is something we can use to work with his vision,” John said.

“What we want to do is start it Caleb’s middle line of vision…and give him something to center on, like this red light here on the end of this massager.”  “The idea is we want to start in the middle and then work our way with it over to the left side of the tray, to try to get Caleb to turn his head and look at it as it goes to his weaker side…the side that he favors less.”

The hope is, as it was explained to us, that since Caleb’s blindness is not due to his actual eyes, and due to being what the doctor’s call cortical blindness, (meaning the brain center which controls his sight is damaged), then there is the chance  it will come back over time.  If we can stimulate his vision, just as we are stimulating everything else on his body through the many different therapies, then perhaps his vision will improve as well.

Caleb looked intently at the curious vibrating object as it buzzed and shown it’s red light around him.  He started in the middle, as John had hoped, and the slowly as he moved it out of his mid line of vision to his left, it was apparent that Caleb’s struggled to track it.  But, then Caleb moved his head, slightly to the left, his eyes catching the light yet again.  He moved his head and followed the light!

Exciting for sure, but we also have to bear in mind that it is not an indication that he is actually seeing out of his left eye.  It may be that he is simply turning his head in order to see the object out of his right eye.  What we know for sure, is that he is seeing something.  What yet, we don’t know.  John has guessed he is seeing shadows, at least out of his right eye—sometimes a little bit more.

I know there have been times I have purposely came up in front of him and made a funny face, just to see if he would react without hearing me. And, lo and behold, he would.  Just about every time I do that, he smiles. So again, we know he is seeing something, but what and how well…those are the questions that we ask daily.

In the rest of our therapy sessions, Caleb got to play with his dump truck again…a new favorite toy of his. One of the things we are working on with the dump truck is, in the back of the dump truck is a few variously shaped and colored Lego blocks.  What the therapists are wanting Caleb to be able to do is pick up blocks from the back of the dump truck, take them out, and then put them back…all on command.

So far, Caleb has to be prompted in order to pick them up.  He then proceeds to put them in his mouth and has to be guided to put them back in the dump truck and prompted to let them go. It is so cute to watch him though,  even with all the guidance and prompts, when he places them in the truck, his face lights up with a smile as if to say, “I did such a good job.” And indeed, he did in my book, and getting better all the time!

In physical therapy, he worked on strengthening his body as the therapist placed him in on all fours, prompting him to get into a crawling motion. Tiffany got in front of him to encourage him to crawl, and with the assist of the therapist, he did! He took four steps with his knees making his way to mommy.  Mommy congratulated him with lots of hugs and kisses—Caleb’s favorite prizes.

Another thing we saw Caleb do, that was completely unique, was the therapist had Caleb work on standing up from a low kneel position.  She firmly places her hands on Caleb’s hips, giving him a little extra boost in his pivot point in his hips, and with a prompting motion, he strengthened his knees, pushed with his feet, and stood…all the way up…on his own!  Another notable thing he did was push a chair a little ways across the floor.  So, so proud of our little man!

In speech therapy today, we were focused on much the same as occupational therapy, namely getting Caleb to follow commands, and use his hands and fingers to do more fine motor type skills.  The therapist lay in front of him one of those push/pull types of toys—the kind where you have an animal under a spring loaded door and with the twist of a key, push of a button, the pulling of a lever, or the moving of a handle, the door pops open and reveals the animal.

Caleb loved moving his hands over the toy, feel all of its varied surfaces and buttons.  With prompting, Caleb can almost push the button and pull the lever.  One thing we did notice however, is how well he did with closing the little lids once they were all opened.  When he caught  onto the idea that he could close one, he got very excited, quickly running his hand down the toy, moving his right arm up and down in a slapping motion, happily closing each of the lids all by himself.

I nearly forgot to mention the big news for today’s speech therapy!  As the therapist was singing songs to Caleb at one point, she was doing the exercise where you sing part of the song and then stop at a crucial word, like “spider” in Itsy Bitsy Spider, or “me” in Jesus loves me.  We had tried this a few times before in previous days, but today he did something different.

By the time the therapist got to “spider,” Caleb let out an “ahhhh” sound.  He knew there was not supposed to be a silence there and he tried to fill in the missing word! This was the first time we had heard him really vocalize on queue.  He did this a number of times with the therapist as she reiterated to us that what we are seeing with Caleb, with his intermittent speech, is perfectly normal and that she expected him to get better over time, and hopefully get back to the point of actually walking and talking again.

During our break today, as Caleb was taking his mid day nap, I had the joy of being visited by an unexpected old friend and mentor—George Goldman.  Dr. Goldman had been my first year Greek professor at Lipscomb and he had been in the area attending a biblical conference and decided to bring his family by for a visit.

It was great to see him and his family.  He came bearing a number of gifts, one of which was the Oxford Book of Prayer.  I thought it was fitting gift being that prayer has been such a part of everything we have been going through.  I was grateful for the gift and for the encouragement I expect it to bring, but I was even more encouraged to see an old friend.

On a side note, (I thought of this as I was thinking of George’s gift), we got a shipment of mail today that blew my mind away! A lady came to the door pulling a red Radio Flyer wagon full of packages. I answered the door with her saying, “I have some mail for you.” I fully expected her to reach down, grab a package and give me one. She said “Here you go…” and proceeded to give me the whole cart!

Every single package, letter, and postcard was for Caleb.  We were beyond ourselves.  We will never be able to administer proper etiquette and send out thank you notes to all the people who have literally showered us with their love.  So for all who have sent toys, books, financial donations, and more…please accept our deepest heartfelt gratitude.  We truly do thank you from the bottom on our heart.

After midday break, we were off to see John again for occupational therapy.  One thing I want to point out in today’s session was not so much the exercises, (as the therapists are beginning to hone in on the areas that need the most work and are using much of the same exercises ), but of how Caleb reacted to John.

I may have mentioned before that Caleb was always our more reserved child.  Colby has always been our cuddler—always wanting to crawl up into your lap and hang out with his head buried in your neck, cuddled up in fetal position against your chest. Connor right now is Mr Curious, wanting to look, feel, and put everything in his mouth.  And Caleb has always been our more reserved to himself kind of child.

He is the type who likes to cuddle…when he wants to be cuddled.  But, when he doesn’t, he will let you know as he likes to be about his own business.  It’s funny also to watch him with other people.  With women he is great.  He is a little flirt with the ladies, often cutting his eyes toward them as he turns his head away from them, giving them a half crooked smile in between.

With men however, it is another story.  Caleb will often turn his head and his eyes, giving the classic “cold shoulder” technique.  We’re not sure where he picked that up, but he’s always been that way.  And, really even with women, he would be ok so long as they didn’t come up to him and start engaging with him.  As soon as they did, they would get the cold shoulder too!  And if you invaded his space too long, the next reaction would usually be accompanied with a very red face and lots of tears.  He is very much a momma and daddy’s boy, and very much likes things to be the same and not change all that much.

I say all that to say, that we got to see a little more classic Caleb today when John positioned himself behind Caleb on the mat as he was about to begin his therapy session. John, with his deep voice, queued Caleb verbally as to what he was about to do and then placed his hands under Caleb’s arms to lift him up a bit to move him over.  Caleb responded in kind by slightly glancing his head over toward John, cutting his eyes, and then looking back, giving John the cold shoulder!

He shrugged his little shoulders, pulling his arms forward and then back toward John in a “leave me alone” kind of motion.  It was funny to see, but at the same time we were like, “Uh oh, he’s becoming more familiar with his surroundings and he’s probably not going to let John do his therapy!”

We worked on things a little longer, but after a somewhat lengthy cry by Caleb and consistent reluctance by Caleb, by the time we got to the end of the therapy session, mommy had to be in front of Caleb and John had to coach silently with his hands to make it all work. It’s good news that Caleb is becoming more aware of his surroundings.  But how that is going to fare with Mr. John that is yet to be seen.

In our final physical therapy session for the day, Kristen worked on some of the same kinds of routines—walking, crawling, sitting up, getting into high kneel and low kneel, etc.  Caleb really seems to like practicing his walking and sitting up.  But when it comes to working on his crawling and low and high kneel…not so much.

He fought against her every step of the way. These are the kinds of things  we are going to continue to work on.  I am very encouraged though, that he likes to work on his walking.  He is very motivated to walk.  You can see it in his eyes. Every time he places his feet on the floor and begins to put one foot in front of the other, his face elatedly lights up.

We are hoping  by the time we leave to go home and begin outpatient therapy in a few weeks, he’ll be able to walk on his own.  It’s a lofty goal for sure, but one I believe is attainable given how well he’s doing and how bad he wants to do it.

After the day’s therapy was done, as we were lounging around in the room about to eat dinner, I playfully held Caleb in my arms, sitting in the chair near his bed. You have to understand…there is rarely ever a time in our home where we are not playing with each other in one way or another.

Either we are playing with toys, tickling each other, poking at each other, making funny faces at each other, or what have you. We have upheld that family tradition here as well.  So, as we were laughing together in the chair, I noticed Caleb beginning to pull at the Velcro straps of his little black and red stripped tennis shoes.

Hey little man, you wanna take your shoes off?” Immediately, I thought of another great little fine motor skill exercise.  So I picked up his hand and got him to feel the partially pulled up portion of one of his straps.  “Here you go buddy, pull here.”  With that he took a moment to adjust his grip, and then he pulled.  It was a success!  I said, “Hooray! You did it!” Of course, he was smiling all the way.  We did the same for the other 3 straps, one right after another.  And with each one he was able to grip the strap and then pull them open.

With the shoes now off and with us already having so much fun, I decided to have a little song time (also known as speech therapy), with Caleb.  We sang all of Caleb’s favorites….Twinkle, Twinkle….Jesus Loves Me, and Itsy Bitsy Spider.  I left out key words as we went, prompting Caleb to finish out the important words.

He did the same thing as he had done earlier in the day, which was to make all kinds of attempts to speak, but then he actually did speak when he made the sound “Ahhhhhhhhh,” again right on target when we got to the important parts of the song. He is beginning to make more and more attempts at speaking  I have noticed.

The therapist has noticed this too and is confident  we are beginning to see the precursor to Caleb actually learning how to form words again.  Oh we are so excited about the hope we have to one day hear our sweet little boy’s voice again.

After song time with daddy, I threw the mat on the floor and began to have our evening play time. In the course of our play time, I incorporated all the routine therapies  we have been doing. Things like practicing walking, getting into low kneel and high kneel positions, working transitions between positions, working on his sight and fine motor skills with play time with toys.

After I wore him out with play time, Tiffany took over and got him all ready for bed.  However, before she actually got him in the bed, right after I had been on the floor working and playing with him, he did another couple of things that were new to point out.

For example, during one of the songs she was singing to him, “Sticky Sticky Bubble Gum,” every time Tiffany would act like she was about to put the imaginary bubble gum on Caleb’s face,  he would smile and let out a laugh with that “Oh no you’re not” kind of grin. As she would place her finger on Caleb’s nose, he would then touch his nose on his own.  As she touched his ear, he also touched his ear, and so on.  He was able to touch the various parts of his face on his own—another victory in the area of fine motor skills!

One last thing to mention and then I am calling it a night.  As Tiffany was playing with him on the floor, at one point Caleb was in a face-down, near sideways position. Tiffany supposed he had had enough of laying down, and so he decided that he wanted to get up.

He did all the following completely on his own….he pushed up into a low kneel position, then he transitioned into a high kneel position.  Again, this goes to show that Caleb wants to be moving, walking, and engaging with the people around him.

And now it is time to wrap up a whole new day.  Today was a really good day for Caleb.  It’s time for some shut eye and I hope everyone has a wonderful day today.  Please continue to spread the word and remember Caleb in your prayers, and pray specifically for his sight, that he be able to see again.  We pray also for his speech, that he would be able to eventually talk.

Blessings.

094Would you consider adding Caleb to your church and personal prayer lists? Also a fund has been set up to help offset Caleb's ongoing medical expenses and related costs. Thank you for your love and support! Donations via PayPal can be made by clicking here: 

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20 Comments

  1. Leesa Wright in Hixson Tn

    November 24th, 2010 at 3:58 am

    Another wonderful day! Oh how God has blessed us! Caleb is going to have quite the story to tell! And the mail! Wow! I have a card for him that I need to send! Gotta get on that!

    Praying for his sight, speech and that all of yours and Tiffany’s prayers will be answered.

    Much love
    The Wright Family

    • Darlene Stansell

      November 25th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      What wonderful news! It sounds like he is on his way to recovery! I am so Thankful for his healing. Will continue to pray for your request and your family. This is Darlene Brodys grandma. Brody is continuing to heal daily. God is so good!
      Darlene Stansell

      • Tim Brown

        November 27th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

        So glad to hear bout Brody! He is getting better by the day and we are so thankful to God. Blessings!

  2. Chuck Payne

    November 24th, 2010 at 4:49 am

    Tim,

    I know that writing to us each day must take a great deal of your time, but I just can’t thank you enough for keeping us informed and for the way you bring your day to light for ALL of us. I am SO proud of Caleb and I am VERY thankful for such wonderful news today.

    I know God is Working to restore Caleb’s little body and mind, as our Prayers continue to be known to Him. God is SO Good!!

    As always, PLEASE let me know if there is ANYTHING your family needs or if there is ANYTHING we can do to make things better for your precious family. May God’s Blessing Continue to rain down upon you all.

    - Chuck P.

  3. Amy Briggs

    November 24th, 2010 at 5:17 am

    hey t.j. :) i am so so proud of Caleb :D And if you want “thank you” notes sent out then tear off the return address labels on the things you get and send them to me, i can send em out for you, i really would love to do that for you :) I love you guys and I hope to see you guys in about a week in a half if thats ok and if everything goes as planned money wise, i miss yall and i love you so much-Amy

    • Tim Brown

      November 24th, 2010 at 11:11 pm

      Hey girl…sounds good. And you guys coming up is good too, just know that our tentative discharge date is close to that date as well, so keep that in mind in case you don’t want the long trip. Love you!

  4. Heather Centracchio

    November 24th, 2010 at 6:58 am

    I am also sooo proud of Caleb! I can not wait until the post where he says his first real word! Sounds like it will be soon.. Stay strong and remember all the prayers that are being sent your way! Have a great time this Thanksgiving with you family. I imagine this will be a very special holiday for you.

  5. Nicole Lester Russell(Murfreesboro, TN)

    November 24th, 2010 at 7:28 am

    I am so happy to read this wonderful news about Caleb’s progress. You all are doing such a wonderful job with him. I am also happy that you’ll be able to spend time with your other children soon. I can’t wait to read how Caleb gets to interact with his brothers. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’ll be patiently awaiting more posts.

  6. Nicole Lester Russell(Murfreesboro, TN)

    November 24th, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Oh yeah…we’re still praying several times a day for Caleb’s complete recovery!

  7. Randy/Patsy & boys

    November 24th, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Bro: Tim

    In regards to your post of day 11 ” not sure how people in church feel ” I and my family can’t wait for Caleb to run (barefoot) to you have Colby playing in the pews and Tiffany looking at books with Connor, and most of all you in the pulpit preaching the gospel with the knowledge and understanding you have. Not a service goes by without countless prayers for Caleb and you all, and yes the boys have brought life into “daddys” church which has been a blessing long needed, so that should answer any questions about that. Patsy and I have had nothing but you guys on our mind since the first visit in Chattnooga and will continue till you are back with us, read your post daily want you to know we are with you as well as countless people worldwide, this “little guy” has brought christianity together for a special purpose. Love you’all and plan on coming down this weekend if that’s OK. ” KEEP PRAYING for CALEB “

    • Tim Brown

      November 24th, 2010 at 11:10 pm

      Randy/Patsy, so good to hear from you all! Of course we would love to see you! So you were there when little man came forward? The second time he did it, I sent him back to mommy as I had seen him being defiant with her (he felt that he could get away with it…lol) Anyway, he cried when I took him back to her. I think about that often, wishing I had just corrected him later. I just miss it so much. Love you all and look forward to coming home and finishing that series on faith!!! :)

  8. Tammy Cagle

    November 24th, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Thank you for taking the time to update us. So glad he is still making great progress. I still pray that his sight and his speech will come back. Also for his ability to walk. I am so thankful that he is able to interact with you more. I know this is a blessing to see him make these improvements. I love all the pics that you post of him. I will have to say the last one on this post brought a tear to my eye. He is so peaceful and innocent. Children are such a miracle and blessing from God.
    Still praying in New Johnsonville

  9. Tonya Baker

    November 24th, 2010 at 9:36 am

    We are glad Caleb is getting better everyday!! You, and your family have been an inspiration to everyone who reads your blogs!! We know you have so much to be thankful for this year! God bless, and we are still praying for your sweet Caleb!! God is so good!! :)

  10. Richard Russell

    November 24th, 2010 at 9:56 am

    He is Great! May He be glorified through Caleb’s struggles and may He grant you all love, healing and peace beyond understanding.

  11. Mary Miller

    November 24th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Caleb! God bless you and may this be a wonderful holiday! I pray for you all daily! Stay strong and keep up the good work!

  12. Kevin Thompson

    November 24th, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, dear Browns!

    love and prayers,
    Paige, Kevin and Kara and Luke

  13. Rich Trimble

    November 24th, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    So glad to hear about the progress! Thanks so much for the updates. We think of you all often.
    Much Love,
    Rich, Gini and Kati Trimble

  14. Robin York

    November 24th, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    I am a speech therapist myself and have been praying for Caleb’s speech. You all are doing such a great job as parents, and you are providing so many opportunities and motivation for him to communicate. I pray it is just a short time until all the “work” (I know it’s play, but it’s definitely play with a purpose) will pay off…also, I see God’s hand healing him every day, and I pray it would be the same with his speech. He is going to have a MIGHTY testimony to God’s grace, and I pray that he will be able to share every word with his own lips.

  15. Kim Wheeler

    November 25th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Still praying and giving thanks for all of God’s healing in little Caleb. It is so uplifting to read about his daily progress. Thank you for taking the time to write these posts. What an amazing little boy! When I am on the floor tickling my own little boy David, who will be three years old December 5th, my mind always goes to Caleb and I appreciate the moments with my David even more. I so much related to the story about Caleb at church. My husband and I are always a little on edge about David being too loud and disruptive at church. Everyone always reassures us he is fine, but of course, you never know if folks are just being polite. Our pastor told me one day that he very much enjoys hearing all of the sounds of children in the church. He said it is such a blessing to hear the children, as that is where they should be at church and how sad it would be if they were absent and we didn’t hear the laughs, cries, etc. Thank you again so very much for sharing your journey. God bless you all and I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.

  16. Dusty Knotts

    November 27th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I heard about the accident in the news but until Thanksgiving dinner, I didn’t know who the child and family were! Our prayers are later than others but perhaps that is as God ordained and we can join where others may be weary. The journey you are on is one familiar to us. The world of hospitals and daily/hourly/ and sometimes prayer needs that change by minutes is one we know well. Through our journey, we learned to depend on Him for every need as though we were in the wilderness. He was faithful in ways the world has never understood but you will know. Allow others to minister to you and lift you up when you are tired.
    Love you guys and appreciate the grace you brought into the lives of BJ, Jamie and Kira. We will pray for Caleb and each of you.
    Dusty Knotts (Kira’s Grandma)

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