One-year post-surgery

It has been 365 days since Ava’s nerve transfers and grafts in Cincinnati. Here’s what she has gained:

1.  Shoulder stability. Less of a gap to her shoulder socket.  We work every day at lifting her arm up as well as out, but she cannot do it much yet on her own.  Gravity is a strong force.  

2.  Elbow bend.   She can lift it as much as perpendicular to her body quite easily (see photo below).  Any further, like up to her mouth to eat, is still a work in progress. 

3.  (Insert drum roll….) Finger Flexion!!

She can squeeze her hand shut!  She doesn’t have any sensation past the middle of her forearm, as her nerves haven’t grown all the way down.  However, finger flexion is an extrinsic hand function meaning the movement starts outside of the hand. If you make a tight fist yourself, you will feel the muscle that she is using. It isn’t much — but she can carry this ball with some assistance to get it placed.  Here she is working in Occupational Therapy. 

Initially, we were told to hope for some shoulder function at 6 months, bicep/elbow bend at 9 months and hand perhaps by 2 years. She has always been a bit ahead of those guidelines and we give God all the glory. 

We remain hopeful that if her nerves grow all the way to her fingers, it will be natural for her to use her right arm in everyday situations.   Right now, she will only use her arm if told to do so, so that is why we need to work hard and yet be patient. 

To my prayer warriors:

This is quite heavy on my heart the last few weeks. Ava has innervation to the muscles that work to supinate her arm, but not any to pronate as we had hoped would come. So, what this all means, is that her arm is always palm up, and super tight to turn it back to a normal resting and functional hand position (think of how your hands would be if you were sitting at a desk or trying to pull a glove on.) 

Palm up. We’ve just started using some kinesiotape to help pull it back to palm down.

I stretch her arm at least 6 times a day and ask you to join me in prayer for this issue. We are also getting some special straps for her daytime and nighttime braces.  If all these things don’t result in change, she will have a surgery (a super-invasive one) in a little over a year. 

When I think back to what Surgery Day was like a year ago, with it taking much longer than expected, with trying to nurse and care for baby Violet, with trying to update people on the progress so they could pray in specific ways — well, I am exhausted just thinking about it. HOW FAR WE’VE COME!!  Things get better all the time. Ava is here, she’s our girl, and we are doing everything we can for her and trusting that whatever function she gains will be enough for her to serve God day by day. 

Here’s a small farm update:

Joe harvested some corn silage for some people who were preparing to build a wind turbine and the corn was much drier than one might expect. (69% moisture). Crazy busy time  may be here sooner than expected. 

My garden is extremely productive.  Even the weeds are flourishing!

The building crew is finally setting posts for what was supposed to be a ‘summer’ building project but was delayed over and over due to rain. 

Kids are excited and not excited about school.  They love the social aspect but also enjoy summer days. Vince will be in 5th grade, Liv 3rd and Ava will be a kindergartner.  They grow up so quickly. 

Thanks again for all the support. You make my load lighter. 


One thought on “One-year post-surgery

  1. I am thankful for Ava’s progress and pray for continued healing for her. I admire you (and your hubby) so much in all the everyday things you have on your plate plus being therapists too. And I know you wouldn’t do it any other way. PTL for His continued leading and strength He gives you to carry on.


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