September 18, 2009
Over the last week, we've had a houseguest. Heidi is an old friend and a "physiotherapist", what we would call a physical therapist, in Denmark. We haven't seen Heidi in about seven years - since Lauren was smaller and lighter. Lauren received PT all through her school years...in school. No one ever came to the house and said this is how to do this or do that. We just figured out things the best we could as she grew. Lauren has been receiving PT at home twice a month since she left school. The therapist comes to us via a home health agency and Medicaid. Her physician has written prescriptions for physical, occupational, and speech therapies. But, we have only been able to get PT provided and at a frequency far less than the prescription indicates. I shudder to think of how much Lauren's physical condition would have deteriorated if she was not receiving at least this much therapy and try not to think about how much better she might be if she was receiving all of the therapy the physician advises.
The therapist who had been coming to our home for the last two years (we have a new one now) saw Lauren's environment and watched us do transfers and utilize equipment. We were never told, "There's an easier way", or "That needs to be adjusted." Since Heidi arrived she has gently guided us into signifiantly easier methods of doing transfers, and adjusted equipment. None of the changes themselves were dramatic - just the results. I also believe they will ultimately result in safer transfers for Lauren.
How often as parents of children with developmental disabilities have we had to be the "experts" in areas we really know little or nothing about? How often would our children have benefited from the help of someone who could, with respect for our singular knowledge of our own child, have offered knowledge or assistance in meeting their needs? This past week has been a revelation in gaining knowledge in easier, safer, and smarter ways of meeting Lauren's physical care needs.
This not only benefits Lauren but has an impact on the health and safety of everyone of her caregivers. I sit here with an ice pack on my back and concerned that I will not be able to make it through the outlet mall that Heidi is all excited about visiting tomorrow, (prices in the US seem to be about a third of what they are in Denmark). I really don't want to disappoint her. I did not have to be in this pain. If a competent PT had spent even one day every year, or, be still my heart, every six months, with us as a family, we may have been handling Lauren very differently. My, now chronic, back pain might not exist. It would certainly have prevented the necessity of doctor's visits, x-rays, MRI's, chiropractors, and my own physical therapy.