Taking the First Step

 

I am sure it is pure joy to watch your child take the first step. Surely, there must be a deep sense of pride and fulfillment to watch your child learn to balance and stand up; developing physical independence and self-sufficiency. Those moments must bring tears in the parent’s eyes. Tears of joy. I hope one day I feel it too.

On the 12th of July, in his new life, Jitish stood up for the first time! With 100% support. But he stood up. Watching Jitish forced to stand up was pure agony. But it meant there was hope. Right?

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I had submitted to the expertise of the doctors and therapists at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. There was a reason I believed that Jitish needed to be there. It was the highest ranking rehabilitation institute in the entire country. I hadn’t expected that Jitish’s first physical therapy session would have involved him standing up. Jitish was still being lifted by the crane from the bed to his wheelchair. So it shocked me that the first thing they wanted to do was make him stand!

Their principle: to shock the body back to reality. To force the brain and body to coordinate and relearn to balance.

Rehabilitation is hard. Monumentally hard. Is it torture? Yes. Absolutely. Is is necessary? More than you think. The rigor and discipline of rehabilitation is enforced to bring the body and brain back to its old self. Time is not going to be on your side. When your insurance approves your rehabilitation only two weeks at a time, pending weekly progress reviews, you can see the sand slip out of the hourglass.

I couldn’t stop crying watching him struggle. Watching him resist the therapist and slump back into his wheelchair. I wanted to just let him sit and just be able to rest and sleep it off. But that would have been a big mistake. He needed the push. He needed to get himself his independence back. And this was the first step. While he struggled, I hated being able to limp. I felt guilty of having the ability to use crutches and move around. That guilt never left me. It would never leave until Jitish could walk independently along with me.

Jitish, is an alpha. The guy had the determination of a Spartan. If  he had his mind set on accomplishing anything, he would work hard and get it done! Gladiator Rock n’ Run or biking 150 miles for Bike MS or learning to skydive solo, he had the spirit and the focus to do it. My man!

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After a brain injury, it is medical opinion that a person’s determination, spirit and view of life could drastically change. There was one thing that could get Jitish back to himself, and that was his determination. His will to survive. And we were left to hope and pray that the accident and the injury take that away from him. What a crappy draw of the short straw.

 

After all that he worked hard to accomplish,  watching him lose his freedom and independence shattered me. I wish I could tell him how proud I was watching him stand up against all odds. How broken I felt forcing him into submission. I hated torturing him. Making him follow therapy 4 hours a day!

Dear Jennifer and all of his physical therapists, so much gratitude and respect to you. We owe you!

You will begin to hate yourself for doing this to your loved one. But early therapy and rehabilitation means a faster recovery and an independent life for you loved one. You will lose yourself each day and feel a part of you extinguish. But persevere on. It is about them!

There is no freedom without liberty; no independence without free will.

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