Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Does Recovery Look Like?

When I watch David on the table with an ABM practitioner, it reminds me of a potter working with clay. At first, things are stiff and immobile, but gradually, and through attention, they start to become malleable, fluid, aware.

David's movement in general (globally) has changed. Whenever I see him moving in new ways, I think to myself that he is "happening." There are new movements happening in his feet. His toes are moving, curling, spreading apart and flexing. He is differentiating between his toes, evidenced by separate movements. His feet are moving side to side, up and down. These are all tiny movements to the naked eye. However, think about all the connections being made in the brain to go from tense, spastic feet that pretty much stayed in one position to feet that look like, well, feet.

New movements!

Beautiful feet, exploring.

David's hands for the longest time stayed clenched. Now the norm is changing. His palms are open and his fingers relaxed, moving and very importantly, FEELING. It makes me think about how many things we touch touch to gain information. He is receiving vast amounts from this physically minor (but neuroligically major) change. This has resulted in his ability to form a grip on objects: my finger, his blanket, faces of those close to him.

Look at that hand!

Those are the exremeties. What about the core? It seems that there was nothing happening there before. Now sensation in one area of his body can travel through his spine, pelvis, etc., and trigger a response somewhere else. The profundity of this is still being registered in my mind, and I'm sure his.

David feeling his body in a new position. He now gets into this with a little help and finds it quite comfortable.

Another new amazing position. This was an emotional moment!

Coming from his core, he can sense that his arm is there. This simple realization opens up endless variations on how he can move it now that he knows it is there. He can lay on top of it. He can swing it. He can look at mind is buzzing with things that I can show him. Ultimately though, I know I need to listen to David. What does he want to do? What is too much? And back to that central realization that allows him to do all these things, is the potential for all other areas of his body.

Arm in his mouth. More learning.

Look mom, no ATNR

For instance, breathing. David's breathing changes remarkably during a session. One day on the table, I saw David take a deep breath and immediately his posture improved. He is also trying to manage his saliva. I think Jeremy correctly termed it "growing pains." This is because now he is so aware of the saliva and he sometimes responds to it with gagging. It is not pleasant for him, but it is part of the process. Instead of me suctioning it from various places, he is learning that those places are there and that he can use them.

During sessions, David responds to this vocally. I learned that his diaphragm is connected to this area.

Watching him with a new awareness, I have come to the conclusion that the ear-nose-throat area is one of the most complex in the human body. Everything related to David's face has become dynamic. His eyebrows are moving, his lips and chin are moving, and he is using his VOICE. Before ABM, I would hear him when we used the Passy Muir valve and outside that, just on occasion. Now he voluntarily makes sounds. They are beautiful. Not only that, they are full of variation in volume, pitch and inflection.

Watching David "happen" makes me think of Malcolm Gladwell's book, "Blink." We can receive enough information in the blink of an eye that it can be life-changing. For David, it means multiple new possibilities in every area of his body. In thinking about recovery, there are things that I would not have even thought of, but I see him discovering these things on his own.

I told Anat that I have begun to wonder about the distances between neural connections. Just how much is needed to make one of many. And there are many many many. Her response was, "We don't know!" That is the beauty and the sublimity of it. We don't know how many or how close the connections are that will result in new things for David. But they are happening.

So what does recovery look like? It looks like me  communicating with David on a deep level. It looks like David making tiny new movements in all areas of his body. It looks like it will take time.  And during that time, all these things are taking place on a spiritual level, and emotional level, and a neurological one.

Before ABM, I had some obscure picture in my mind of David automatically sitting up, or David running, etc. The frightening leap of realization that has happened for me is knowing that there are so many little tiny steps on the way to those things. Like I mentioned though, we don't know how many. Ultimately, it is in God's hands. All I can describe is what I am seeing him do right now. I refuse to stop believing that David will heal. I know in my heart that he will recover, but I still don't know exactly what that will look like. For now, I will be thankful that it is happening, no matter how slow or instantaneous.


  1. Thanks for sharing David's journey to California! He is beautiful! Praying for healing for him!

  2. have you seen any vocal cord healing since doing abm? My son's vocal cords were paralyzed as a resul of birth trauma...wondering if abm would help,