Tiffany had been a little jealous that Caleb had said “dada” the other day. We have always played a bit of a game with each other, as to what the first word of our child would be—whether mama or dada.
So far, we had been 1-1 with Colby first saying dada, and Caleb first saying mama. However, this time around, as we have been waiting patiently to hear Caleb say his first words, a few days ago Caleb said “dada”. I was elated, (and not to mention I HAD to give my wife a hard time), and said “How many people do you know get to have a do over, and this time…I WIN! 0-2…haha!” I actually lucked out, because it is yet to be seen what Connor will say, so had Caleb said mama, it would have been 3-1, a pretty decisive victory. HAHA.
Tiffany had gotten Caleb ready for his morning PT and he was positioned in his wheelchair over by the door. With his hair neatly combed, clothes and shoes on, he was ready for a whole new day. Tiffany had gone into the restroom to comb her hair and as he was waiting for her, he apparently had a moment of impatience. He yelled out, “Maaaaaa.” Mom was ecstatic! “He said mama!!!!” I was so glad for Tiffany to have that blessing for her. I know that had to have just melted her heart when she heard that.
Also, it goes to show something I have been thinking for some time now, and that is, I believe Caleb still remembers most, if not all, the words he did before, but his ability to think and process and formulate the words is just much slower. What’s interesting is, it is in those unexpected times, like when he was about to go out the door, that he tends to say things. So yet again, we were surprised and praising God for yet another little victory.
In his PT we got to see Caleb try out his new walker. As she positioned the tiny device in front of Caleb, at first he wasn’t sure what to do with it. He thought it to be a toy at first, as he tried to pick it up by the two waist level handle bars.
Kristen trained his hands on the handles and then instructed him to start walking. It took him only a couple of seconds to realize that instead of holding on to one of our hands, he can simply put his hands on the handlebars, push, and walk on his own. He did great.
Kristen stayed close behind and worked to guide him and spot his weight when he got off balance. But overall he did excellent—placing one foot in front of another, not scissoring his feet, walking with balance and correct posture, etc. He walked with it all the way up one hallway, and then about half of the way down the other.
It’s hard to quantify exactly how far he walked and describe it here in words, but essentially you would pass about 8 patient’s rooms going down the hallway, about 4 rooms as you turn the corner coming back, and then about 10 coming to the place where Caleb stopped, just past the turtle aquarium. We were impressed.
We took the walker away at that point and Tiffany and I both grabbed his hands and we walked him the rest of the way, freestyle, back to the gym. He LOVES to walk like this with us. As we walked back, you could tell there was a little pep in his step—a little excitement that accompanied each step. His steps after we took his hands were playful, and often it was so cute because, as we were walking he would try to bring his mouth to one of our hands as we were holding his hand, so he could put his mouth on it and do his little “Wa wa” thing. So so cute!
In between therapies today, we heard back from the therapist who was going to be in charge of our outing and we found out that instead of going to McDonald’s for our time away from the hospital, we were going to go to a place called The Sensory Gym.
We weren’t sure what that was, but according to the therapist, it is a learning/activity center where kids can go and experience different things that engage their sense of touch. It definitely sounded better than McDonalds so we were pretty happy about that!
In OT, after refusing to work on his all fours position, we sat on the mat as the therapist worked with Caleb on trying to put pieces of a large wooden puzzle in their rightful places. The large Melissa & Doug puzzle featured imaged cutouts and inlays of various food items—an ice cream cone, a hamburger, a hot dog, etc.
The therapist wanted to see if Caleb could match up a puzzle piece with its proper corresponding image in the cutout. As Caleb sat in mom’s lap contemplating the game, he seemed to mostly not pay attention to it, banging on it and rubbing his eyes.
The rubbing of his eyes has been something that we have seen him do ever since we noticed that his vision was starting to improve. The way it was explained to us, one therapists told us that they thought Caleb rubs his eyes because of how strange it feels when his sight comes in and out. It seems in the morning his sight is better, and then after he has been up for a while and working on various things it gets worse and then he starts rubbing his eyes.
As far as the puzzle was concerned, I’m not sure if he just wasn’t interested or if he genuinely didn’t know what to do with it. Every time the therapist moved Caleb’s hand and helped him grasp the puzzle piece, and then move it over the cut out depressed area where it was supposed to rest, he typically threw the piece down, opting to bang on the puzzle board.
This is one of the things we have to work on in the weeks ahead, that is, working on his fine motor skills, i.e. his ability to pick up and put down, and to put things down precisely in intentioned places.
One other thing that may have contributed to Caleb’s disinterest in the puzzle is the fact we were in the main gym. We have noticed since we have been here that Caleb tends to do better when we are in one of the adjacent “quiet rooms” rather than the larger general gym, that is often crowded with children going through many various rehab exercises. Caleb tends to get distracted by all the noise, crying, etc. and he easily loses his concentration.
It was very cute to watch as we were wrapping up therapy that, as Caleb was reclining in mommy’s lap, he reached up with his hands and grasped mommy’s cheeks. He then opened his mouth and gave mommy one of the biggest and sweetest kisses I had ever seen. I tell you, that little guy has been through so much, but one thing he never lost was his tender little heart that loves to love and be loved. I have always loved that about Caleb and it makes my heart so glad to see that still present in him.
By the time we got to language therapy today, Caleb was tuckered out. Our speech therapist sat down with Caleb and tried to engage him in singing some songs. He did make the motions of “The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round,” which was a huge first that we hadn’t seen before, but after that, Caleb was done—he was a very tired little boy!
Caleb’s mid-day break came at just the right time. It wasn’t very long after I got him back to his room that he was in bed out like a light.
During break we got a call from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. The woman on the other end of the phone was a representative from the hospital calling to set up Caleb’s initial evaluation for outpatient rehab. Again we had another one of those feelings of “Wow! This is so real. We are really going to be going home soon.”
As it is scheduled so far, we are going to be arriving in Nashville Wednesday. We wanted to drive up and stay in Chattanooga Tuesday evening after our discharge that morning. We plan to stay at Paige and Kevin Thompson’s home—a family we met while at Fall Creek Falls, (they were right behind us when Caleb was struck by the rock).
The next morning we are going to be attending a general reception for the public at Springcreek Road Baptist Church, between 11:00am and 1:00pm, with a press conference to be held at 1:00pm. After the press conference we plan to head over to T.C. Thompson to see some of the doctors and nurses who helped save Caleb’s life. After that, we plan to head the rest of the way home.
After Caleb woke up from his nap he was in pretty good spirits. We got him dressed and into his wheelchair and ready to take him to his afternoon OT therapy. As I pushed him along down the hallway we were having a good time with each other, laughing, cutting up, and being silly. A few times on the way I would stop his wheelchair right in the middle of the hallways, bend down in front of his face, and say, “Ok Mr. Caleb…are you ready to race? On your mark…get set…”
Immediately, I was reminded of a recent Sunday evening when my family and I were leaving to go home from church. After preaching and being among the last to leave the church building, I was walking with Colby and Caleb out to the car. Tiffany was getting Connor ready to go in his car seat while I went ahead to get the boys in their car seats.
When we exited the back door of the church into the parking lot, the light cast a perfect view of a large crack in the asphalt that extended from one side of the portico to the other. Right under our feet was the perfect starting line to a Piston Cup race to the old Oldsmobile parked out in the parking lot. I said to the boys, “Hey guys…wanna race?”
Colby immediately caught on, seeing the line on the ground about the same time as I did. Caleb of course just wanted to do what his brother was doing, and we were happy and excited, and so in turn, was he. He too, lined up his little feet on the imaginary starting line.
“On your mark…get set..” I said, building anticipation and excitement in my voice as I readied all the racers. “Gorilla!” The boys took off and then abruptly stopped erupted into laughter. “Haha! Daddy didn’t say go.” I laughed with them as they came back to the line.
“Ok, here we go. On your mark…get set…” Colby yelled out, “GO!” We all took off running. Colby took off like a lightning bolt. I ran two steps behind Colby (ensuring a decisive victory for Mr. little man). Caleb didn’t care anything about the race, so much as just running in the parking lot with Dad and big brother. He was laughing and clapping all the way to the car. I love memories like this.
So I looked at Caleb, after saying “Are you ready….get set….” Watching to see if he would remember what came next. I whispered in his ear…”go…say go.” Immediately Caleb yelled, “Go!” I thought, “Yes, another word!!!” I took off with the wheelchair, moving briskly back and forth down the hall. Caleb of course loved every minute of it. I did this a few times. I couldn’t get Caleb to say “go” but about two or three times. He did however, in the midst of all the joviality, say “da” again, which sent my heart to the moon. Yet again, it’s more evidence of the fact that he is getting his language back.
Once we got to Caleb’s OT, John had him sit up on his knees in a low kneel position and play with a three tiered car racing toy on a small bench in front of him. It was a toy Caleb would most likely be familiar with because it is one that we have played with at home a few times before—an old toy of Colby’s.
As I have mentioned a number of times before, what we are working on in OT, is fine motor skills. So, for today it was more of the same kinds of things, i.e. using the toys to help Caleb do things like reaching for cars, picking them up and putting them in the correct place on the race track, picking them up and reaching across his center to place them somewhere else, etc. Overall Caleb did pretty well. He understood where the cars were supposed to go, and what he would do is he would reach up with his weaker hand, grab the toy to steady himself, then bring the car up to place it where it needed to go.
He still has trouble with his right eye, so it seemed to John that he was using his left hand to compensate, feeling around a bit and then using his right eye to place the car. He also did pretty well reaching across his center line. You could tell that he wanted to transition and just use his right hand. But once restrained, he would use his left to play with the toys.
After his OT time with John, he had another OT session with another therapist immediately following. He did much of the same thing, working on his fine motor skills, however instead of working with toy race tracks and cars, the therapist filled up a small bucket with little foam alphabet letters (the kind you buy your kids to stick on the walls in the bathtub).
She showed Caleb how to pull them out and stick them to the large roll away mirror she had positioned in front of him. He caught on pretty quick as to what to do, picking up the letters and placing them on the mirror. Again, he did pretty well. There is obviously more work to do with his fine motor skills, but for where he is, he is doing great.
Tiffany walked him all the way back to our room, again practicing with his walking as much as we can. I can already tell just from the time she has been doing that with him that his walking has improved dramatically. I am so proud of my wife stepping in and working extra with him with that. I had not thought to walk him back and forth to his therapies, and as it turned out, her smart thinking has really paid off.
After we returned to our room it was time to change the dressing on the back of his head. One of the things that has been ongoing, ever since Caleb was able to have his C collar off, was we have had to deal with treating and helping his pressure sores.
When he was in his coma and unable to be disturbed because of fear that his intracranial pressure might go too high, he was left in the same position in his bed for nearly a week, causing a bad pressure sore on the back of his head and one on each of his ankles.
The two on his ankles healed pretty quickly once they were treated here at Scottish Rite, But the one on the back of his head is only now starting to look normal again. Caleb has a bald spot now about the size of an egg, right on the back of his head.
The wound care specialist said Caleb will most likely not be able to grow any hair there. I jokingly said to the woman in reply, “Well, I tell you, after everything he as been through over the past two months—we come out of this with only a bald spot on the back of his head—we’ll take it!” She amusingly agreed.
Tiffany worked with Caleb tonight as I sat down to work on getting caught up on posts. During his play time, she worked on his legs, engaging him in the stand up/sit down game on the bench. One really good thing I witnessed as I often glanced up at what they were doing was I noticed that he was doing a really good job following commands. Tiffany would ask Caleb to do something in regard to his play with the toys, and he would for the most part do it. Another thing I noticed over and over again was how affectionate Caleb was tonight.
It seems that today Caleb, one of the things we have noticed is, he really wants to initiate hugs and kisses. That is very much like the Caleb before the accident. He LOVES to give hugs and kisses. After each hug and kiss Tiffany continued to work with him playing, working on his fine motor skills with puzzles, games, and toys of all kinds.
After they were done playing Tiffany stood him up and walked him over to where I was, still typing away on the lap top. As Caleb got near me his face lit up with a smile. As I looked over toward him, watching with pride my son taking steps toward me, only holding on to mommy’s hands. He stopped and then proceeded to throw his hands up, wanting me to pick him up and give him a hug and a kiss. Needless to say, the laptop had to go away for a while. It was time for some Caleb lovin!!!!
After some time Caleb took a bath with mommy, again loving the water just as before when he had his bath in therapy. He splashed the water, yelled and vocalized in excitement, and played with the little water spray nozzle, shooting himself as well as the wall with water.
Again tonight, as we were coming to the end of another day, when we looked at Caleb, he looked just like any other normal two year old. It has been such a blessing to see so much of his personality come out over the last two or three days. He really has improved with his therapy.
In closing, I would like to ask you to continue to pray for our other children tonight. Please pray for Colby, as well as Connor. Continue to pray for Caleb’s eye sight and speaking. The prayers are participating in a miracle that is truly unfolding in front of our eyes. Thank you.