It was last year, on April 26th, that our world was forever changed. Turned upside-down really.
If you’re new to this blog, here’s the very abridged version: Ava unbuckled herself from the back seat of our John Deere Gator (we think) and rolled out. She suffered a freak injury, with nerve damage that left her unable to use her right arm or hand.
I have tried to think this post over and over again in my mind. It has been a day that I have, in so many ways, dreaded. One year.
Here’s the last photo I have of Ava alone where she can use her arm.
And this photo is the very last one I have of her before the accident.
While this day ended with so much worry and concern, we still didn’t even have any idea what we were dealing with…the extent of her injuries wasn’t discovered for 3 more days.
If you’ve read the devotional Jesus Calling for long enough, you can understand how some days the words on the page can be just jolting in how specific it is to what is happening right now in your life.
Problems change perspectives. I was sleep-walking through my days with Ava, so busy worrying about her problems with speech, late motor development and everything else that I had forgotten that she was a child of God. Created by God, to bring Him glory. Not created to be a fantastic preschooler. Not created to make me feel like a great mom. Created by Him for whatever He wants for her life.
I am working so hard to view this arm injury as a “light and momentary trouble”. We are doing everything we can to help Ava to be able to navigate this life with as much function in that arm as possible. Yet it will never be even close to the same. I cry to think of her at prom in 12 years with a shorter, skinnier arm. To think of her trying to change diapers, soothe infants, and do laundry as a mom. To think of her looking in the mirror and asking, “Why me?”.
I feel certain of this: Ava will always be a child of God and her difficulties are part of God’s plan for her. Yes, her injury in this life must just be a light and momentary trouble.
Joe and I have changed a bunch this past year. Really for the better, but we’ve certainly aged. We feel older. The weight of the decision of where to bring Ava for nerve transfers and grafts was so heavy on us.
I want to update on Ava’s progress. I think I’ve cried enough tears for a blog post by now!
She has been putting in some serious work at home each night. The photo above shows her “tickle machine” that we use each night to send stronger signals between her arm and brain, moving the electrodes to specific places for each movement. There are six basic arm movements we are targeting:
- Arm up. Like raising your arm in class. We are a long way from being strong enough to go against gravity but this one is more like a marathon than a sprint.
- Arm out. Like making a snow angel. This is her best one! While she is on her back, I help with one of my hands at her elbow, and one on her hand, with her elbow bent at 90 degrees. She wiggles it, in and out, in and out.
- Bending at the elbow. Bringing her hand to her face. We were told the nerves would reach these muscles about 9 months post-surgery and we are only 8 months out right now. Still, we practice it and are seeing glimmers of strength developing. We do most of the motion and she tries to help as she can.
- Straightening the elbow. Same as #3.
- Elbow back. As if she were laying on her side, but using her arm to run in place. This one is becoming stronger all the time.
- External rotation. While bent at the elbow, laying down, taking her hand off her stomach and rotating her arm around so the hand is on the floor. This one is coming along quite nicely.
I need to add that the ultimate goal for all of these is simply to have enough power to overcome gravity. It will never be anywhere close to normal, even if they took every possible nerve they could steal and directed it to a certain muscle group, it never could be. So, we aim and work so hard to hopefully see each muscle group do it’s job. The surgeons were fairly confident they could help with these types of movement — they said whether or not she will gain wrist and hand function is really unknown and they were certain to make no promises.
We still pray with bold confidence that Ava will gain a “helper hand”. Oh dear, now I am crying again. Please keep praying for her (and me).
We visit great therapists here in town, too, and hope to see big gains this summer. I strive each day, to not feel sorry for myself, sorry for Ava, or sorry for Joe or our other children. I believe our attitudes are our own choosing.
For now, I rejoice that she can give me a TWO-ARMED HUG! That will never grow old.