Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Firsts.........Part 2.

For those of you who read The Firsts....Part 1, here is the second installment of another milestone passed, a proud mummy and a huge sigh of relief.

For those regular readers of the blog, you will remember that FD had major spinal surgery back in September 2012. Prior to her surgery, FD was very into sports. She was a very competitive member of the local Special Olympics Athletics team, a member of trampoline club, had regular riding lessons and was involved in every school sporting event, at one time being a member of the tag rugby team. However, her declining health and mobility problems soon put an end to all of this. FD got tired very easily, was unsteady on her feet and was in a lot of pain. So, regrettably she had to give up all her beloved sports.

Now over a year after her surgery, I was keen to get FD doing some of the things she had once loved. Her health was in a state of limbo and she was still unfit and tired. However FD herself had lost all confidence. She was afraid that everything she tried would hurt. FD was also struggling with the fact that some of her health problems had not left her. My main fear was that she would suffer emotionally if she lost all contact with her groups of friends. She had once really enjoyed the social aspect of competing alongside her peers. She was becoming a permanent attachment to me and this is not healthy for any teenager, never mind one with very specific needs. 

Well, I am so happy to report that over the last few weeks FD has made magnificent progress. After much bribery from me, and the fact that some of the volunteers at the sports groups are good looking teenage boys, FD agreed to try a number of activities. FD has made a return to Special Olympics with the proviso that I remain with her the whole time. I was happy to agree to this as by this point I was desperate for her to get back to her athletics group.

When we arrived at the group we were instantly greeted by a number of its members, all thrilled to see FD back with them. I have to say, I was completely overwhelmed and shed a tear or two. Here was a large group of special needs kids and young adults who were genuinely happy to see their friend return to them. Their sentiments and expressions of love and warmth were so genuine. I could not help but be moved by the experience. 

The coaches were brilliant with FD and let her take part in the activities at her own pace. She's been back about 4 times now and whilst she still struggles to run any distance and at any speed, she is thoroughly enjoying herself. She just kind of limps along at her own steady pace. Now and again there is a spark of a competitive streak and I can see FD pushing herself that little bit harder. After the group she is totally exhausted and falls into bed when she gets home. But, she is enjoying being 'back to normal.' And as for me.............well one of the young athletes at the group told me I was very beautiful and asked me out on a date. I had to let him down gently but he seemed to take it well!

The most positive thing about getting back into her Special Olympics athletics group is that FD's confidence has grown. She has now joined a disability badminton group and a multi-sports group for kids with special needs which is run by social workers and nurses from the disability social work team. Unfortunately she'll never be able to return to her trampoline group due to the risks but we hope to begin her horse-riding again soon. And, what has this meant for me? Well, apart from being out of the house 3 nights per week, its also pushed me to get myself fit again. For two of those nights whilst FD is taking part in her groups, I go to the gym. She is confident not to have me with her for her other two groups and I am confident that she is well cared for.

To see my beautiful and talented daughter push herself towards fitness again makes me proud. No longer can I myself avoid the gym and getting fit when she is fighting back so bravely, despite the pain and exhaustion! And yes, I am one of those really annoying mothers who stands on the side of the sports track and jumps up and down screaming 'encouragement.' Both FD and I are on a fitness journey together and proud to wear our Superwoman knickers. Go FD!!!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Firsts............Part 1.

Well, these last few weeks in the Jonty household have been interesting . It's been a time of 'firsts'. Trying new things are fab! I love it that FD pushes herself, despite her fears, to get something done. Yes of course we have the 'pre-first meltdown' and then we have the 'post-first meltdown' and then I drink wine! All in that order! We are very predictable!

So, just what has FD been getting up to that has had me reaching for the wine bottle more in celebration than in an 'oh God beam me up Scotty' way? Gosh, there is so much to tell you I don't know where to begin so I'll do it in separate blog posts! (Sneaky plan to keep you coming back for more!)

Well, a few months ago we learned that FD would need braces on her teeth. We did not relish this prospect because given that FD has some sensory issues, we knew that having the brace fitted would be difficult for her. That, combined with the fact that she suffers from regular and severe mouth ulcers would further complicate how she would cope. Of course, we still had to get over the huge hurdle of her actually lying on the dentists chair long enough to get the thing fitted in the first place. 

So, the day of her appointment it was with some apprehension that we arrived at the orthodontist. However, once in the chair, FD was given the option, by the dentist, to have me wait outside in the waiting room. I nearly had a heart-attack. But, obviously the woman knew what she was doing. She had enough faith in FD's ability to cope that I realised that I had to have enough faith in her ability to read the situation correctly. To my shock and delight FD ordered me out of the room! So, for the next 30 minutes I sat in the waiting room. I tried to read my book. I couldn't concentrate. I tried to read the newspaper. I felt sick. I asked the receptionist to switch off the radio so I could hear if FD was getting distressed. Finally, I was called into the dentists room. And what sight was before me..............FD sitting up and smiling a big smile with a pink and purple sparkly brace on her bottom teeth!

Words cannot describe how proud and slightly overwhelmed I felt. FD was looking suitably smug. As was the dentist! Not only had my daughter undergone a procedure, albeit a minor one, but she had done it without me hovering over her worrying. What the experience has taught me is this............sometimes we just have to trust someone else to make a judgement call and shove us out of the room!! Quite often, as parents of our wonderfully special kids, we find it hard to let go. Hard to give them some ownership of a situation. Hard to let them grow up. But, in the wee dark recesses of our brains and our very fragile hearts, we know that we have to. It just hurts to have to!

So, how is my little superwoman doing? Well, she did find it very hard to adjust to the brace for the first few days. Her poor mouth hurt a lot and she got upset. She is taking all the instructions she was given about looking after the brace very seriously. It now takes us half an hour to brush her teeth every morning and every evening! We have to go back and get a brace fitted to her top teeth in a couple of weeks so I get to do this all over again! I'll be wearing my super strong superwoman knickers that day too!