Our Journey To Recovery

Our Journey To Recovery

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tuesday March 11th

Christopher continues to amaze us, two weeks ago Dr. Seiler injected Christopher's left arm and wrist with Botox once again. The Dr. Seiler and the staff at Georgia Hand are so wonderful. We went in for the pre-op visit on a Monday and they did the procedure on the Wednesday.

We were met by Doug and Dennis (pre-op & post-op nurses) on arrival at the new facility, on Peachtree Rd. just down from the Shepherd Center. Dennis and Doug used to work with me at Piedmont a few years ago, they also cared for Christopher during the first procedure Dr. Seiler preformed last year.

Another familiar face was that of Dr. Jim Beatty who monitored the anesthesia for Christopher. Dr. Beatty and I worked together on the Perioperative Governance Committee at Piedmont Hospital. He is a great guy, ask for him if you are having surgery at Piedmont Hospital, he is a great person and even better anesthesiologist.

Most of y'all know Christopher has continued to have issues with his left arm and wrist. He still has very limited use of his fingers. We are trying the Botox again because we are just not ready to have him undergo another surgery at this time. Also if he does have to have surgery to correct the spasticity, he will most probably lose any chance at regaining the use of his hand and fingers. So we are trying everything possible before making that decision.

The injections in the past have helped some. So far, we are seeing better results than before. His range of motion has been increasing, it seems daily, and he is so proud. I have been trying to encourage him while we are riding in the car by getting him to try and put his hand out the sunroof as we are going down the road. He thinks that is so funny.

This past Monday night we were all sitting in the living room talking and watching TV. Christopher was showing us how he could raise his hand above his head. All of a sudden I heard Debbie say " do it again, do it again, show me your fingers". He was able to wiggle his fingers on his left hand. This is the first time he has been able to do this in over a year and a half. So exciting.

Tuesday morning during his speech therapy session, I was showing Jenna (his speech therapist) how Christopher was doing with the horn exercises, both Jenna and Cathy Zingler (teacher at Lassiter High School) have been working with him on. He has homework each day practicing to close his lips around the horn mouthpiece, once he can do that he will progress to blow the horn. He has to be able to blow the horn 25 times to move on to the next horn. The progression through the various horns will help strengthen his tongue and lips, and help him to eventually talk.

Well sorry or rambling on, to much information. The exciting thing was, while trying to get him to close his lips, he stuck his tongue all the way out of his mouth, this is another first. He got so excited because we were excited. He just laughed, we were pretty much done with the session after that. He had to show everyone. We even drove down to Debbie's office to show her his new trick.

Christopher's walking continues to get better, I was able to get a new walker for him to use at home. He continues to get stronger, we joined the local Lifetime Gym to help with his strength and conditioning. They also have an indoor pool which has been great for him.

I have included a short video of him walking with the new walker below, I hope you can see the improvements he is making.
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Feburary 2014

Our therapy sessions at Shepherd Pathways are coming to an end. We have already had our last OT session and we will be finishing up with PT and the pool sessions soon. Between Jeanne, Brian and the snow and ice we have still been able to have two pool sessions most weeks.

Waiting to get in the pool.
The water at the Aquatic Center is like bath water, at the Shepherd Center it has what I will call, a refreshing quality. Christopher has really been enjoying the sessions with both Jeanne and Brian.


Today we were able to get Christopher to float on his back while kicking his legs.
Stretching out his left arm.
I wish I had some photos of Christopher in the snow. I took him outside to throw some snowballs, he thought that was hilarious, he laughed and laughed, especially when I let him throw some at me.


What a beautiful day.
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If you compare this video with his first pool session look at the difference in the amount of support Christopher needs to walk up the ramp. Here Jeanne is walking behind him with just an arm on him at times to steady him. Notice that ever present smile.

Winter is finally coming to an end and the spring sports are underway, we have made it to several baseball games to watch Lassiter play and to the first couple lacrosse games to support Davis.

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Dancing to the music at lacrosse halftime, sorry about the angles, not sure what I was doing. All I know is Christopher was having a good time. We were getting killed in the game, but the music was great.

January 2014


The holidays have been so good, the weather has been so crazy. Debbie has been outside chipping ice out of the birdfeeders to be able to put out seed. The birds are having a party at the Heitzman house.


Notice all the tracks on the deck, between the birds, dogs and squirrels it has been a party.

Sporting new shirt received for Christmas
Christopher has continued working with the therapist at Shepherd Pathways and with Jenna the speech therapist at Dynamic Therapies. He is still making progress, ever so slow for Debbie and I. But it is miraculous the progress he continues make. 
 
We are so blessed to have such a wonderful group of people who continue to support him. Our strength continues to grow each day through the your love and prayers. We THANK YOU.
 
On January 10th we were finally able to meet with Jeanne Green regarding getting Christopher in the pool for some aqua therapy. Jeanne is the aunt of Tyler Seaman and has been interested in getting Christopher in the water for months. We are so thankful for this opportunity. I believe he will really benefit greatly from this type of therapy.
 
Posing for the camera.
On January 16th Christopher finally got in the pool with Jeanne at the Mountain View Aquatic Center. He did very well, he walked down the ramp into the pool where Jeanne worked with him for over an hour. The activities she is working on will help to strengthen his core and his balance. As you can see in the video below he was able to walk up the ramp, of course he was showing of for the
camera the whole way. 

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One of the best thing this month is Christopher will finally be getting out of the heavy walking boots he has had to wear since the first week in Dec. He was been fitted for his AFO's (Ankle-Foot Orthotics) at Shepherd Pathways, they will take two weeks to custom make the braces. He will were them during the day while walking and exercising.
AFOs finally arrive, high tech carbon fiber. He was so excited, he could finally wear his new shoes.
Here is a better picture of his shoes.
 
Well he has definitely fallen in love with the ability to wear his new shoes, it is one of the first things he is asking for each mornings. He was in casts or some type of orthotic shoe for nearly 3 months. So now he is back to making a fashion statement again.
 
We are continuing to build his leg strength by using the standing frame. While he sometimes spends over and hour or two in the frame, we very often listen to music. During these times we encourage him to shift his weight back and forth, from his right leg to his left. He still is not very confident in putting weight on his right leg, so the music has been a great way to get him move his hips and shift his weight.
 
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He has such a great time with the music, but I am sure he is going to kill me for putting this to video. Sorry Christopher, it is just too cute not to share.

There are so many things starting to happen right now, Since we have started with Jeanne in the pool we have also started pool therapy at the Shepherd Center pool with Brian one of the PTs who has been working with Christopher since the surgery.

We have also seen Dr. Seiler regarding the contractures in his wrist and spasticity in his left arm. He has recommended we try another round of Botox injections before we think about surgery. We will be scheduling this in the next few weeks, either with Dr. Beniga at Shepherd or back with Dr. Seiler.
Making progress, THANK YOU LORD!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Years Eve 2013

Over the next several days we have continued to work and stay out of the cold. Debbie and Robert have been putting in some late days in the office.

Christopher has been working hard to get stronger. He is walking each day with me as much as he can. He still needs support, I'm not sure he is confident enough to put his full weight on his right leg yet. I know he can do it, it is just getting him to believe he can do it.

One night this week we were all sitting in the family room watching TV when Debbie started teasing Christopher. She was trying to get him to nod and shake his head for yes and no, we were laughing so hard we forgot to video it. Here is a little clip I was able to get a couple days later, he is concentrating so hard he is cracking himself up.

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Here we are sitting at the kitchen table.
We have been trying to get him to do this for over a year now, this is remarkable. Something new to keep us going, thank you Lord, for reminding us our work is not done.

Debbie, Robert and I decided last minute to go out for dinner tonight. We were able to get into the Stem which has just opened as part of the restaurant Seed. They have a seven course meal, with wine and champagne to celebrate the New Year.

I have to say food was great, the atmosphere was awesome, the night was frigid. Still a great night. HERE'S WISHING YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Christmas Day 2013

We had such a late night last night at the Panosian's we were late getting up this morning. It didn't much matter, the boys are old enough now that the surprise of Christmas morning has long past.

Anyway we had a leisurely morning with a late breakfast. We were in slow motion until we finally rolled Davis out of bed. It was so cold none of us really wanted to get up.
Here's Deb and Christopher waiting patiently for Davis to come downstairs. 
Finally the frenzy begins.
Robert holding on to his bounty.
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Christopher's new shoes, he has been asking for shoes for week.
 
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At this point Christopher has tried on nearly every piece of clothes he received for Christmas.
 
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Typical boys fighting over their clothes.
Sweet Christopher showing his true colors.
 
We had a great day; we didn't start worrying about dinner until late in the evening, we started making baked three cheese jalapeƱo oysters, a la Hunt's Oyster Bar in Panama City. We had such big plans oysters, shrimp, lamb and all the trimmings for a typical Australia meal. Because we were so late the shrimp never made to our plates, so they will have to wait for tomorrow.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Christmas Eve 2013

We have had a great day, it started out with a late breakfast and being lazy around the house. We have been very relaxed today. Just waiting to get ready for church. We are going to the evening service at our church in Smyrna, The Smyrna First United Methodist Church.

After a lazy day we are all now running around like crazy to get ready for church. It is so cold outside, we will have to bundle up to keep warm. The plan is to got to the Panosian's after church, can't wait.
Christopher standing during the reading of the scripture and prayer, and of course catching Debbie with the camera on him.
The service was great, Christopher stood up each time we did, which was a good thing, there was a young couple in the pew in front of us with a baby who hit if off with Christopher. They where making noises at each other during most of the service. So funny.

The food and fellowship at the Panosian's was fantastic, all the kids were there sitting around the kitchen table. The Hempel's also joined us for the evening. What a great way to spend Christmas Eve.
Brian thanks for the photo, great looking group.
I don't think we left until after midnight, the  kids were all sitting outside around the fire until it got too cold, Christopher's teeth were chattering. Must be time to go.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Merry Christmas

These past several weeks have been nothing more than a lead up to Christmas. We have been going to Shepherd's Pathway program two days a week, speech therapy once a week, as well as working with Cathy and Gary Zingler, all is well.

We have been working to get the decorations up for Christmas, Debbie is decorating the inside, I finally got the tree up and looking like a real tree again and then started on the outside. It is looking a lot like Christmas at the Heitzman home.

Debbie had to fly up to Toronto for a few days, they are moving the Canadian office and are packing everything up. Robert will be coming down to spend Christmas with us once they get everything squared away. Looking forward to having him here again, we have such a great time.


Christopher supervising the decorations.
Still cracking the whip







We are working hard to decide what we are going to have for Christmas dinner. Turkey and dressing just isn't going to work again so soon. Looks like it is going to be an Australian dinner. Roast lamb, shrimp and oysters, yum! Decision finalized.
I bought a oil less turkey fryer for Thanksgiving it was fantastic, looks like we will be using it again for the lamb.
 
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                             Christopher and Davis opening a Christmas package from Nana just arrived from Melbourne, Australia.
 
Christopher is still working at Pathways, looks like they will release him at the end of the year. I have included a couple of short videos of him during an OT session. Watch him as he tries to use his left arm to activate the lighted buttons.
 
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                                         He did really well with his right hand in these videos he is trying to use his left hand.
 

Looks like only a few more visits in the works for Pathways. Here we are waiting for the therapy session to begin.