Today was our three week follow up with Melissa. We have had such a nice few weeks "off" from therapy and school. Amaya has been off track from school and we've all enjoyed the extra "free" time. Amaya has been enjoying trips to visit grandparents, play dates, trips to parks and libraries, visiting cousins, a trip to a farm, birthday parties, watching movies, staying up late.
On the drive to therapy Amaya wore her 1.5 lb. ankle weight to help the leg stretch a bit. When we were almost there Amaya said that she was so excited to be seeing Melissa again. We've all missed seeing her on a regular basis. She's been such a part of our daily life that it feels weird not seeing her. I got a bit emotional once Amaya said that. For many reasons. Because of how much Melissa means to us, for how grateful I am to her for all her help, because I can't believe how far Amaya has come in such a short time. And in some silly way because driving to therapy reminded me of the reality of this past year. These past few weeks "off" has given a chance to not think or worry about Amaya's leg, therapy, etc. Although we've done nightly physical therapy homework, somehow it wasn't the same. I haven't had to deal with the daily stress or worry. Driving into therapy reminded me that Amaya has a PFFD leg, that she had a major surgery this year, that she's completed a year of physical therapy, that she will have another lengthening in a few years. Ugh. Its hard. Somehow not going to therapy these past few weeks let me forget all of these realities. I was also emotional because I was overwhelmed with pride in Amaya. She's been so amazing through this whole process. She's endured so much, never given up, and managed to do it all with a smile.
When we checked in the receptionist remembered us and didn't need to ask our names. As we sat I got a it nervous. What if Amaya's leg still need some improvement? What if we would need more therapy? What if we didn't do enough these past three weeks? I can really be a worry wort.
When Melissa came out she said she read in our blog that Amaya has been doing gymnastics and asked how that was going. Amaya has gone for three weeks now and is really enjoying it. Its nice because she gets to have fun while doing stretches and exercises that help her leg.
Melissa began by asking Amaya which of the exercises have become easy for her. She showed her a picture of each exercise and asked how it felt doing it. Melissa had Amaya do her hip lifts then showed her a new way to do it at home. She said while her hips are up she can lift her right leg then the left one.
Next she had her do the side leg lifts with the weight on. These were hard for amaya to do. She couldn't' do any without Melissa's help. At this point I got nervous that we might have to come back for more therapy sessions.
Amaya did really well with the leg lifts on her tummy! Melissa added the 1.5 weight above her knee. She said we can add it there first then lower it to the ankle. She said that once an exercise is easy with her leg at thirty repetitions then to add the weight at the knee and do fifteen repetitions. Then as they get easy add five repetitions until we get to thirty then move the weight to the ankle and add repetitions there.
Then Melissa tied a blue band around Amaya's legs (it looks like part of her skirt) and had her side step. She did pretty good with this one but lost her balance a couple times. While she was doing these Melissa pointed out that its five weeks until Amaya's triathlon!
Next we went in the hall for some running. You can see Amaya still runs a little different. She has a hard time bending her left leg, lifting it and pushing it back. Sometimes when she's not thinking about it she does it really well, but other times when she's tired she has more of a limp.
Then she did some high knees and did great! She got her knees up so high!
Here she is doing leg lifts on her back. This is her right leg (non-PFFD leg). You can see that its bent because she can't lift it up as far as the left leg.
Here's her left leg. See how straight her leg is at the same distance up. Amaya's left leg is more flexible than the right one. Isn't that great? She was even able to lift it up to where Melissa's hand is.
Then she did some jumps on the trampoline. Amaya told Melissa about the jumps she does at gymnastics. After a few Amaya complained of hip pain so Melissa stopped and massaged it for her. Then she returned to jump some more. Amaya told Melissa that at night it hurts to lay on her left hip. Melissa said that since she lost some muscle from there she doesn't have much "cushion" there so it isn't very comfortable.
Amaya worked on the elliptical for five minutes. I noticed that she wasn't using her hands to push the bars, only her legs. She was able to do .32 miles in that time!
Then it was time for knee bends. Her starting number was 138! Can you believe it?! 138! Melissa had told us a few months ago that 135 degrees is what's needed to walk, climb stairs, etc. with ease. So we've been working towards that these past few months. So to have her start past that number is huge. When she was at 145 degrees Melissa asked her if she wanted to stop there, but Amaya said no. She gave another push and got to 146 & 1/2 degrees. She said she wanted to push to at least 147 since she's seven. But she pushed and went to 149. Melissa asked her if she was done, but Amaya decided to do one last little push and got 150 degrees! Wow! Her right let can only go to 154 degrees so that's only a difference of four degrees! And in the three weeks that we've been off from therapy she's jumped from 145 degrees to 154 degrees! Melissa smiled and said she doesn't have to worry about Amaya's range of motion anymore.
Melissa went to get us a new blue band to use at home and printed out exercise instructions for us to do at home. I asked her "what happens next?" "Are we done?" She answered, "you are officially done with physical therapy!" I asked her if Amaya had done okay while she was off and Melissa said, "amazing!" And that's all I had to hear to calm my nerves and know that all our hard work had paid off! We still will continue to do therapy homework at home for a few months, but other than that we are done! For now. We'll be back in a few years for the next lengthening. And I'm really hoping Melissa is still working there.
Before we left we saw Jay. He was so happy to hear Amaya got to 150 degrees. He remembers all to well the many days Amaya struggled to get to 90 degrees. You can truly appreciate what 150 degrees is once you've witnessed a thirty minute tear filled session to get her knee to bend to 90 degrees. I'll never forget that. Jay said that I should be thanked as well for my efforts at therapy. I was very appreciative of his comment. Its been a heck of a journey. We also saw Jeremy on our way out. He said he recognized me first but not Amaya since she was walking so well. Lidie bragged to him that "she got 150!" Jeremy was happy and congratulated her on how well she was walking. I'm so grateful to the therapists for their kindness, smiles, encouragement, patience and genuine care. They helped make this year go by so much easier.
We gave our last good bye's and hugs. As I hugged Melissa I told her that I could never fully thank her for all she's done for us. Its true. Words don't do it justice. We'll be seeing her in five weeks at the triathlon and then try to hop in and visit when were in the neighborhood.
To all of you who read along, who care, who send love and prayers and cards and well wishes, thank you.
The girls waiting for Melissa to print out new therapy papers for us. She made minor adjustments to the stretches.
A last swing into the ball pit!