It happened last Wednesday, and I’ve been dying to tell the world ever since. But I needed to be sure it wasn’t a once off thing, a fluke, a happy accident. I also needed to be sure I wasn’t dreaming, because when you want something so bad for so long, sometimes you see what isn’t really there.
Carys came home from school, and as I was helping her walk across the room, something just made me let go. I don’t know why. Carys was babbling at me in a very loud and determined manner; maybe she was telling me in her own way that she was ready, and on some level I was able to interpret that.
So I let go, and she took a very stiff awkward step forward. BY HERSELF. I held my breath. She was very aware I was not supporting her, hence her sudden clumsy movements. She obviously felt vulnerable. I very calmly and quietly urged her on. Inside I was screaming and doing a little tap dance of joy, but I held it all tightly in check so as not to distract her.
She took about 10 steps all on her own and then stopped by her toys. It was quite clear she was done for the day. I put on her favourite DVD, and left her to it.
And then it hit me. The enormity of it. The wonder. The gratitude. The future. And what her true potential might be. Suddenly, my own legs went wonky, and I had to sit down quickly and let my emotion vent.
The irony is, just that very morning, I had had a phone call from her HSE physiotherapist. “You know why I’m calling, don’t you?” were her first words. Bearing in mind the HSE’s fixation with AFO’s, clearly the answer to all non-walker’s problems, it wasn’t difficult to guess.
“She had her fitting a few weeks ago. I’m just waiting to find out when they’re ready,” I replied.
“Good, because she’s just not getting enough support with her shoes,” she said. What she really meant by that was the orthotic insoles I had bought for her shoes, which my privately employed physio had recommended. And following which her standing, walking and confidence had rocketed.
Carys has had AFO’s for seven years, and never showed any signs of walking independently. Four and a half months of wearing the insoles in her shoes instead of the AFO’s, using the Walkolong instead of the walking frame, and working on developing her core for strength and balance, and she is already taking her first independent steps.
Excuse me if my confidence and belief in the system which is supposed to help children like Carys has taken a sudden and complete nose-dive.
Every day last week, she walked a few steps, but never in front of Daddy. By the time he got home from work, she was too tired. I began to wonder if it was all in my own head.
Then on Monday, a note came home from her teacher saying she had walked on her own at school too. I was ecstatic!
And I learned that you can never give up hope, no matter how impossible a task seems, nor can you ever give up trying. Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the box, and try new therapies and treatments… they might just work.
My special little girl has started walking. Isn’t that just amazing?