We started with the ‘routine’, built up to a deafening crescendo, and ended the day with a robotics session, as usual. Usual?
The ‘routine’ was speech therapy, followed by cognitive therapy. I’ll write about that some other day because today, I want to focus on something I felt was sensational. Look at this picture:
And now look at it again. I am supporting Pádraig’s head. Daniela is holding his arm. BUT – no-one is holding his upper body except the man himself. He has his left arm on the red cube, but he is not leaning agains the cube. And look at the gap between his stomach and the standing table with the black padding. He is not leaning against the table either. This is the very first time he is standing whilst maintaining his upper body himself. – This is a ‘selfie’ I took. I am sure someone not checking on Pádraig at the same time and looking at us from a bit of a distance would have done a better job taking a picture of this than I did. (And look at Daniela: how proud and happy she is! She wouldn’t dream about complaining of me taking a picture of this brilliant moment, and of sharing it with you here. To the contrary!)
And this is someone who, according to consultants, is not worth ‘investing’ in because there is not ROI, no return in investment – given our health system with limited resources that cannot be wasted on such cases, according to the same consultants. If you took away our accommodation and food costs here in Pforzheim, and just looked at the cost of the treatment, that cost of therapy is not significantly higher (if it is higher at all) than the cost of the care at home. And if you asked me, I would prefer intensive therapy any day over intensive care hours for Pádraig. The reason why intensive, ongoing, and sustainable therapy is not available in Ireland, has nothing got to do with resources. It has everything to do with a health system that is not geared up to deliver what research has demonstrated to be the best, if not the only, appropriate treatment for a severe brain injury.
The standing bit wasn’t all. Pádraig also walked across the room with the help of two therapists and myself. – No mechanical aid. No risk assessment for the therapists. We walked him across the room, turned him around, and walked him back. In Ireland, they do not even allow injured like Pádraig to use the one and only Lokomat in the NRH, because that is reserved for those who can already stand by themselves. Never mind ‘walking’ him across any kind of distance. At home, we were told that three carers were needed to transfer Pádraig from his bed to the wheelchair using a hoist – here, three people walked him across a room and back without any mechanical aids.
In between, I practiced with Pádraig an exercise one of his therapists in Dublin had shown to us. While sitting in the wheelchair, Pádraig lifts up both of his legs, and then lowers one after the other.
He did this four times today and I only managed to get the camera out for the last time…
And, finally, here’s the straw – not the one that broke the camel’s neck, but one that prevents the fluid from running back down when you let it go; it has a little valve on the bottom. Again, look at the picture. You can see that Pádraig managed to pull up some of the drink almost to his mouth.
There is still a bit missing but this was the first time he pulled up that much using a straw. What is so easy for us, closing our lips around a straw and pulling up the air and with it a drink, is still tremendously difficult for him – but he is getting there. It’s a really good exercise for his lip closure and breathing.
He’ll keep going, and he’ll be getting there. With the help of all of you! Go Dreamboaters. This ain’t no dream. This is real life. This is nothing, but absolutely nothing else but an ROI, a return on investment. Because: Pádraig wouldn’t have got anywhere without it, without the ‘investment’. He could have but never did give up. He kept investing and he is still putting all his energy, all his will power, and all his defiance of logic, physics, medical knowledge, and predicted outcome onto the table. And you know what? He has started to cash in. And I know as well as you do that there’s more where this is coming from! Watch this space!