I know I shouldn't dwell on it, and I don't, but I'm always very aware when the anniversary of Mia's accident is. It's today, by the way - on 18 April 2003 she was in the car accident that damaged her. As I have done before, if you're wondering what exactly happened to Mia, go here
and read all about it. I have also linked to pictures of her in the hospital before, but I'll do it again - but with the warning that they're not particularly fun to look at. See here
if you like.
I like to reflect on how far she's come in the past year when this anniversary comes up instead of thinking about it. She has made wonderful progress in the past twelve months, and we remain optimistic about her long-term prognosis. Pre-school has helped her over the past two years, and especially this year, as she is interacting much more with her classmates and learning to repeat more and more words. She is difficult to understand when she speaks, but once you spend a little bit of time with her, the words become much clearer (this is common with children, I guess). She's becoming very good at repeating what we say to her and retaining more words, and we hope that she will begin speaking in more sentences in the next year. Right now she says "I want _____ please" and that's about it for sentences. But she does string more than two words together occasionally, even if it's "Sit Mama please" (a common request; and no, she never says "Sit Daddy please") or "Sit chair please" or "Now up please" (yes, she really does end every utterance with "please"). She has also begun to come out with words that we didn't realize she knew, but has heard many times. She's also doing better with paying attention. We read her "big people" books at night before she goes to bed, and we often think she's not listening because she's drinking milk and we're reading a story that's too complex for her. Then suddenly I'll read a word she knows and she'll either repeat it or, in some cases, connect a word or action she knows to it. If I read the word "heart" she'll pat her chest and say "Buh-Buh!" (Like a heartbeat, you know.) So we know she's paying attention!
We're also very proud of her physical progress, even though I think that's going a bit more slowly. She is doing pretty good with fine motor skills, even though she can't use her left hand. She can grip a pencil the correct way and use it for rudimentary drawings like straight lines and circles. Her OT is working on that and cutting with scissors, which she can also do pretty well even though she can't stabilize the paper with her left hand. She does enjoy doing those sorts of things, so we hope that once she's doing it more often in kindergarten it will become easier. She's still not walking or standing on her own, but her PT is working with her without any kind of support, and that's going fine if very slowly. Whenever she takes a step, her hips fly out the opposite way, which of course causes her posture to collapse and inhibits her stepping motion. He's been working with her and trying to get her to keep her hips aligned, but it's hard because she doesn't like it. Like most tasks, she can do pretty well when she's not thinking about it, but because she hasn't internalized the muscle action and because her brain doesn't send the correct messages to the right places, once she pauses to think about what she's doing she gets really messed up. But she's still working hard. We think her hippotherapy
will help a lot, because she works on her balance there. Her therapist is very happy with her progress, and we expect it to continue. We're still not sure if she'll ever walk without help (probably not), but at least if she could be able to use a walker, that would be something.
So she's made great strides over the past year, and we don't doubt that she will continue. I'm going to visit some of the special education classes they offer in kindergarten
over the next few days, and we'll begin to formulate a plan of action with regard to her education over the next year. She's such a wonderful child and can learn a great deal, but at a slower rate than most kids. I don't have any doubt that she will be able to do well in school as long as we can find a place that goes at her speed. In four years she has come a long way, and we're proud of her every day. We just hope that she continues to make progress, because her therapists told us when she first started with them that with kids with brain injuries, there's no telling how they will do month to month. They might plateau or even backslide. Mia has plateaued occasionally, but we don't think she's ever gone backward, and that gives us hope. The nice thing about even her PT is that she really wants to do things. Even when her PT is making her walk with very little support and she's bawling her eyes out, she continues to work, albeit very reluctantly. And most of the time in PT, she works fine - some days just aren't for walking, apparently. This desire to learn can only help her in the future, and we hope she doesn't lose it. There's no reason why she shouldn't.
Four years ago today our lives were changed completely. It's astonishing to think how different our lives would be if Mia hadn't been in the accident. It's no use to fret over it, and we're trying to do the best we can. Mia makes it a lot easier, because she is such a happy and strong kid. I'd just like to thank everyone for reading this and saying such nice things about her, because I really appreciate the support, even if it's over the Internet. I know that there are people I know who read this who still haven't met Mia, and I hope that changes some day. She's a people person! Just ask anyone who's ever met her: she smiles, sticks her hand out, and says, "Hi!" She just loves life, and that's what makes it all worth it. It certainly hasn't been easy (raising any child is hard!), but it's been a joy to watch her grow into a beautiful and wonderful little girl.