It’s a rare occasion that we celebrate firsts, now more than nine years later. With change so gradual, almost invisible to the untrained eye, it’s a challenge to be able to pinpoint progress and to see it consistently.
Yet, and I’m so glad there is a yet, Danny still has firsts.
As we mark firsts with our children and their growth, we have marked firsts in Danny’s recovery; first words, first movement, first bites of food, first time standing, first steps and the list goes on. Praise God! The list goes on.
This year, Danny has grown very independent in his self-care; handling almost all his dressing and daily living needs. For those going through a similar recovery, and in hope I’m not embarrassing Danny too much, I’ll say I haven’t had to wipe his bum in months. Let’s face it; we’re all thankful for that to be on the list of firsts!
In August, Danny started some occupational therapy sessions at Shepherd Pathways, Shepherd Center‘s outpatient brain injury facility. Our main goal was that Danny would be able to get his shorts or pants on and his shoes independently; these were the only two steps he still needed assistance with in the mornings. We also wanted to work on shower transfers to a bench rather than using the rolling shower-commode chair he’s been using for nine years; I will not shed a tear to see that thing out of our lives. Danny’s goal was to work towards driving again-with this thought, my heart rate increases dramatically, as will our insurance.
After several attempts, it was determined that Danny’s issues with his right leg will keep him from getting his own shoes on for now, but we’re still trying and praying through those issues. After many different tests, it was also decided by the occupational therapist that Danny just isn’t ready to take the next step towards driving (and a calm peace settles over my heart rate).
Yet, he was cleared to start trying to use the shower bench at home and over the weekend, Danny added another first to his list.
For the first time in more than nine years, Danny took a shower standing up on his own two bare feet.
I asked him how it felt and he emphatically replied,
It feels so good.
That’s all I got, but it’s all I needed to pull me back in time to his first shower after the accident.
It was October 20, 2005; the first time Danny came home post injury. I assisted his inpatient occupational therapist in getting him on a tilting, rolling shower chair and pulled the chair into the shower stall in his shared hospital room.
His eyes were open, but they were empty; his spirit still sleeping.
I shaved his head first, since that is the way he wore it and then I soaped his hollowed 159 lb., 6′ ft. tall frame down from head to toe. I had to lift his arms for him, ever so gently since the left shoulder was already damaged.
He said nothing. Made no noise. Didn’t move on his own except to turn his head towards the right; the only way he could turn it at the time.
I close my eyes and open them again to see a much different scene in the present.
Standing on his feet, knees straight and legs strong, a hand on either grab bar, Danny bows his bald by choice head into the stream of warm water, letting it wind it’s way down the length of his body. I can only imagine how good it felt.
After so many years of recovery and countless questions on how far Danny’s progress will go, I’m so full of gratitude that we still have firsts.
In Danny’s words, it feels so good.