Saturday, March 31, 2007

Prosthetic Boot Camp

We just returned from a week in Erie, PA at Shriners Hospital for Children (same hospital where Elias had his amputation) where Elias attended Prosthetic Boot Camp. It was an intense week, but our trooper made some good progress. The big area of focus was helping him gain confidence in balancing and using his prosthetic leg to stabilize. This was accomplished through 473 different creative activities that changed every few seconds, depending on the whims of a particular 2 year old. PTs have a tough job!

Here are a few video snapshots of Elias in his PT sessions.

Taking a few steps on his own:

Elias got a sweet new ride- a bright yellow walker. This one has 4 wheels, 2 that swivel, and he can get around easier and his gait is more smooth with it.

Riding on a scooter:

Elias LOVES the game room at the hospital where we spent all our free time. I couldn't pry him away from the train table.

When Elias is concentrating on something, he can stand unassisted for quite a long time.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Day in the Life of Elias Brown and His Mommy

I'm sorry we're so lame and haven't posted in so long. Actually I'm not even sure if anyone ever even reads this ol' blog anyway. Oh well, for what it's worth... here is a day in the life of Elias Brown and his mommy.

(Word of warning: This detailed and LONG post may only be interesting to the grandparents or perhaps those of you who have some pressing matter to take care of but are procrastinating by wasting time on the internet. If you're in one of these two categories, read on! Otherwise, no hurt feelings if you just skip this post and wait for the next one. ) :-)

7:40- Wake up time. Elias has been sleeping in more ever since the time change. I am ever-so-grateful for this as I am NOT a morning person. Being the mean mother that I am, I usually let him play in his crib for a few minutes when he wakes up so that I can at least get my clothes on, face washed, and coffee brewing. Chase was just getting ready to leave for work and heard Elias make a sound so he bounded up the stairs and into Elias' room so that he could have just a few minutes with him before work. I think this is incredibly sweet and kind of Chase. Only at that moment I was just sitting down with my hot cup of brew to read my Bible for a few minutes. Oh well.

7:45- Elias and I sit in his rocking chair for a few minutes and he squeezes his little arms around my neck and presses his face against mine. Squeezing is his new thing and I love it. (Except for when it's his oatmeal at breakfast time). We sing our "morning song" too many times to count and open the curtains and say hello to the outside and Audrey's house, our neighbor. We do these things every single morning.

7:55- We head to the bathroom to brush our teeth. Elias has a little electric toothbrush which he loves and will sit on the bathroom counter as long as I let him and dip his toothbrush in the water and back into his mouth again. I went to the potty and Elias told me "Mommy candy!" This week was a turning point when he went poop in the potty and now talks about potties and candy all the time. I was glad that he thought I should get rewarded too.

8:00- we head downstairs and fiddle around, Elias plays with trucks while I get trudge around downstairs with coffee in hand. We always just hang out for a while in the morning because Elias is on medication that prevents him from eating for one hour after taking it. He takes it as soon as he wakes up so we have to wait an hour before breakfast time.

8:25 Elias tells me he wants to poop in the potty, but alas, he really means he already pooped in his diaper. Although he asks repeatedly, he does not get rewarded with candy (fruit chews).

8:45 Elias poops again (this is his morning routine. I know- TMI) and this time I plop him in the tub for a quick bath. He LOVES his bath time and promptly asks for his cups, his favorite bath toys.

9:10- After his bath Elias loves to be wrapped up tight in a towel and held like a baby. We did this with him when we were with him in Ethiopia and he still asks for it to this day. I love that he lets us nuture him like that.

9:15- Finally we eat breakfast- grits. Oh... yeah... I love my grits. Actually corn grits are one of the few breakfast foods that Elias is not allergic to, and I have rekindled my love for this meal and eat it with him on many mornings with a slab of melting butter on top. Yum.

9:35 Clean up from breakfast and get Elias' leg on. This takes a little time because I'm still not very good at getting his leg on so that the foot is straight. He wears a suspension belt to help keep the leg on and that tends to twist the leg a bit so that his foot turns inward too much if we don't put the leg on just right.

9:45-10:45- PT! Danielle is our wonderful physical therapist who comes twice a week with lots of fun and strategic games to play with Elias. Danielle usually brings a basketball hoop to play with so now Elias equates Danielle with basketball. As soon as she walks in the door he yells "Baggyballlllll!" This morning Elias does two major things. 1- he puts his hands on a stool and then rises to standing all by himself. We've been working on this for several weeks so it was really exciting that he finally did it!. And 2- he took several steps all by himself across the floor! This was of course the highlight of the day. It was a LOT of work to get him to that point (PT with a rowdy 2-year-old is not easy) so Danielle and I were really pumped about this. And of course at the end of the session we played basketball for a while. Elias stands on his own with no support and tries to make baskets. He can stand unassisted for quite a long time as long as he is distracted.

11:00- Danielle is gone and Elias is hyper so I let him walk outside for a little bit. It has been warm enough one other day this year for Elias to walk outside, and now he asks to walk outside several times a day. Unfortunately we've had a lot of snow and cold weather lately, but finally the snow has melted and the temperature is creeping past the freezing mark.

11:10- Chase forgot his lunch so we get in the car and drive over to his office to drop it off. It's fun to see him for a few minutes. The sun is shining and I just cannot go back home, so I decide to go to a do-it-yourself car wash. Even though the sun is out, it's still in the 30's. A little too cold for car washing, but oh well- Elias had a great time watching me race around the car trying to wash it as fast as I can because I didn't have any more quarters to extend my time. I'm really a stickler about efficiency and after my 3 minutes was up I seriously stood for a while longer looking at the car wash machine and all the settings trying to plan how I could do it faster and better next time so that I could wash the whole car with only 8 quarters. I am such a nerd.

12:20- We get back home and eat lunch. I made my first Ethiopian food this week after watching my wonderful Eritrean friend show me how to do it step by step. It's really spicy but Elias loves it and wolfs it down.

1:00 - 4:00 Elias takes a nap and I work for a couple of hours. Then I prepare dinner (Chicken Parmesan) until he wakes up.

4:05- Elias is awake. We rock just a couple of minutes (again, the routine thing), put his leg on and get ready to head out the door.

4:30- We arrive at Chase's office and Chase and I do the ol' car switcharoo that we do every Wednesday. I head to work and the boys go out and do their regular Wednesday thing: fries at Wendy's and a stroll around Gander Mountain. Chase later reports that Elias insisted on walking around the whole store by pushing the shopping cart by himself. He did not want to stop for anything. Unfortunately the cart isn't designed well for pushing by 2 year olds so Elias fell down a lot because his leg kept hitting some bar sticking out. But that didn't stop him from walking.

7:45- I arrive home to the sounds of the men in the basement workshop- hammering, grunting and squealing (Elias, not Chase). Elias is thrilled to be there in his second home with his Daddy.

8:00 Chase puts gets Elias' pj's on, reads a couple books, sings a ton of songs ("more sing" "more sing" "more sing" "more sing" is the most popular nighttime request) and finally puts him into bed.

8:20- Chase comes and joins me for a quiet dinner with just the 2 of us. Aaahhhh. We hear Elias yelling and chatting upstairs. He has a hard time winding down these days. I think it's the excitement about the new monster truck leg.

9:00- I read an article about how to make perfect meatloaf (why oh why?) while Chase graciously cleans up the kitchen.

9:50- Elias starts talking again (did he ever go to sleep?) and his chatter turns to angry yelling which turns into crying. "Mommy rock rock. Mommy rock rock." How can I resist? I rock him for a while and sing lots of songs.

10:10 Chase and I are engrossed in LOST when Elias cries again. We banter back and forth trying to decide who will go up to get him back to sleep. I'm ashamed to say that I kept watching the show and Chase went up to comfort Elias.

11:30- Night night!

11:40- Oops, not yet. Elias is up again.

11:55- Night night!

12:30 am- Ha ha! Tricked ya again. I rock Elias some more, this time with no singing because I was just so darn tired. (Quick note- nights like these used to be the norm. It was SO hard to get Elias to sleep and to stay asleep. Thankfully, nights like these are few and far between now.)

12:47 am- I don't feel guilty anymore for watching LOST while Chase was comforting Elias. That was 2.5 hours ago and I'm still awake with our sweet yet wide awake kiddo. Finally though I can creep back to my bed and fall fast asleep for good.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

New Monster Truck

Elias has a new favorite thing to talk about... his new monster truck leg! Chase finished it this past Friday and the fitting went really well. We got some good pictures of Elias checking it out for his first time and then walking up and down the "prosthetic gym" hallway. The difference between this fitting and his first one, just 8 weeks ago, was huge! Those first pictures have tears in almost every one. And now he's laughing and smiling in almost every picture. The transformation has been amazing.

In my mind, getting his final prosthetic leg marked the beginning of a two-leg life. Meaning, I put the leg on in the morning and Elias would wear it all day long, even outside of the house. So far, that's what we're doing, and it's working out great! The awesome thing is, Elias hasn't asked to take it off a single time.

The library was our first public outing. Elias did great of course. It was also my first experience to realize that now we are noticed by others even more than before. Kids ask a lot of questions about the walker. I try to give them straightforward, short answers that will not make Elias feel uncomfortable as he gets older and understands more.

Our best moment of the weekend was taking Elias to church and letting him walk through the doors on his own. We attend a Saturday evening service of about 60 people. Our church family has been a huge support of our adoption of Elias. No one had seen him wear his leg yet, so it caught everyone by surprise to see him walking with his walker. Everyone crowded around and cheered Elias along. It was like a parade, and Elias took his time walking by everyone just smiling and saying "hi". He kinda had this look on his face like, "What's the big fuss about!?! I don't know, but I like it!" Later, Chase and I were hit with strong emotions as we thought back to 15 months ago when our church surprised us by giving us money for our adoption, prayed fervently for us through the process, rejoiced when we got our referral, and then prayed for us and supported us as we made preparations to bring him home. Elias was deeply loved before he ever even walked through the doors. His life is a testimony of God's faithfulness, love and redemption. Seeing everyone cheer for Elias like that was so humbling and made me feel honored to be his mother.

Here are a few pictures of his new leg. Stay tuned for the next post from the Dad/Prosthetist perspective.

M. Chase Brown, CPO presents the new leg

Elias inspects the new monster trucks

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