Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Contessa Bionessa


Cortical Reorganization.

This is like learning a whole new language!

I went to Methodist Rehab today to be trained on how to use the BIONESS H200 nerve stimulation device. It's our fancy new "toy" that will help retrain Nicole's brain to communicate with her hands so that she can eventually regain more function.

The actual medical definition of neuroplasty is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

As the BIONESS rep explained to us today, "think of it as a road that runs from Point A to Point B. Suddenly, the bridge is out, and you can no longer use that road. But you still want to get from Point A to Point B. So, you must find an alternate route--a detour. That's what Nicole's brain is trying to do right now.

She started wearing the device this evening. She has to do two 20-minute sessions per hand. Then, she'll add five minutes a day, until she's worked up to two 90-minute sessions per hand per day. That's alot of time, and she can't do the two hands simultaneously, as it will confuse the brain. And it's not a passive activity. She has to focus, because her brain is learning something new. It's like learning to ride a bike, swim, drive a car, or even to dance! If you do any of those things enough, you don't think about it...it becomes second nature.

So as Nicole sits propped up in her big orange chaise lounge wearing her BIONESS device, I'll greet her as "Contessa Bionessa." If she doesn't like it, she can use the newfound function in her hands to give me a swat...or the finger, whichever she thinks of first!

We are grateful we have this wonderful device. The chain of events that led to us having it were no accident. Looking back, it was all too perfect. His plan. Thank you, God!

Tonight we are sending prayers up for Betty Moore, aka "Dirty Betty," Josh's grandmother. She fell and broke her hip last night and will now need hip replacement surgery. That means another stint in REHAB! I know a little cheerleader who can make sure she gets the most out of her physical therapy...

Blessings to all who read this!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day!

As we celebrate the birth of our nation, we are all reminded of how very blessed we are to be independent. We live in a country where we are free to think and speak the way we want and not be worried about repercussions.

Today, I'm reminded as well of how blessed most of us are to be independent in how we move our bodies. I've been around so many wheelchair-bound folks in the past several months in rehab, so I am all the more grateful for the legs I have and that they move my body so well whereever I want to go. As I watch Nicole slowly regain her independence, I'm so impressed by her will to move forward each day. Things that once came so easily, like opening a container or holding a Q-tip, are now so difficult. Where she would have once danced down a hallway, she moves ever so slowly, one step at a time.

But last night, she walked down a hallway without the use of a walker or cane. We were heading back out on the roof of the Fondren Corner building and Larry and I were with her. On a whim, she took off down the long corridor, taking a few steps. They came easier to her than ever before since her accident, so she took a few more, until she made it all the way down the hall. It was a triumphant moment for us all!

Later in the evening, Nicole was standing at the karaoke microphone, and she looked so "normal" and natural. She even moved her hips a bit as she sang, and it was so great for Larry and I to watch her.

Many months ago, Dr. Winkelmann warned Nicole not to put her life on hold. He said that she should live her life to the fullest each day with what she's got right now. It's so good to see her doing just that. And it's certainly affected the way Larry and I live our lives now. We live each day now to the fullest, because we realize each day is a gift.

So, we look at independence of all kinds today and count our many blessings. Larry is working, Joe is in Orange Beach, so that leaves Nicole and I to spend the Fourth of July together. I'm not sure how we'll spend the afternoon and evening...but whatever it is will be fun and we'll have a good time doing it together.

Blessings to all who read this!