Catching up with Ioana

The holidays have now passed and we are back in the full swing of things.  Ioana’s schedule has changed slightly regarding her physical therapy.  On Monday and Wednesday she goes to Aurora to the main Children’s Hospital facility to work on the FES bike.  She is riding for 30 minutes at a time and tolerating the electrical stimulation well.  In fact she is doing so well with the electrical stimulation that at home she is often conducting it on her own!  We are so proud of her and more importantly she is proud of herself.  She goes to the local Broomfield physical therapy clinic on Tuesday and Thursday.  Katie, her physical therapist thinks that she doesn’t need to come to the clinic for formal therapy on Friday because she is doing so much at home.  Below is some footage of Ioana working at the clinic with Katie.

Over the holidays Ioana and Pam worked diligently on her exercises, e-stim and heading to the pool almost every day.  Only on Christmas day did she have an entire day free of exercises or treatment.  Otherwise, it is a seven day program for her. 

December 28th was a very big day for Ioana.  A month prior at Ioana’s first therapy appointment she went through a series of tests to determine her baseline assessment.  A few treatments after that on a particularly challenging day Katie confided in me that Ioana would have to show progress in order for her treatment plan to continue with Childrens Hospital.  I never informed Ioana of this because I knew the pressure would be an unnecessary distraction and stressor for her.  I confided in Pam and a few other people and prayed that she would hit the mark.  I wasn’t sure what we would do if she didn’t show evidence of progress in her treatment program.

On the 28th she had to conduct the tests again.  First she walked 10 meters as fast as she could and then she walked for six minutes continuously and Katie measured the distance that she covered.   During her first attempt she walked with carbon braces that she has been using.  The braces insert into her shoe and then attach below the knee to offer her additional stability.  She then took a break and walked again without the braces.  She went a further distance with the braces than without, but both times she went further in six minutes than she had a month before in ten minutes!  She hit the mark and blew right by it!

So we were overjoyed and thankful to God for this success.  When I told Ioana later in the day what was at stake it overwhelmed her.  I didn’t want to scare her but I wanted her to understand the gravity of the situation and why it is necessary to work hard every day and find the boundary of what she can do and that it is necessary to bump into that boundary.  That is a hard thing, because quite often finding that edge involves falling down, both literally and figuratively.  It also involves discomfort, exhaustion and occasional tears.  But I told her that it makes it all worth it when success is achieved.  Ioana listened to me as she was on the floor doing her e-stim with Pam.  Then she began to break down in tears.  “I want to continue, I don’t want to have to stop and go home” she said.  Pam and I both assured her that she wasn’t stopping and that her tears should be of joy, not of fear.  We are so proud of how hard she works.  I don’t believe that she has ever worked this hard in her life. 

As a family we have moved past the honeymoon period into the reality of everyday life.  It has become more mundane and less exciting.  In short it is a lot of hard work; not just for Ioana, but for Pam, Ben, myself and countless friends in the community that take Ioana to therapy, ESL classes, the local recreation center and various other engagements. 

Last night at 10:30 Pam and Ioana were sitting together on the couch reading a book in English.  It was a children’s book called Thank You Mr. Falker.  They’ve been working on it for a few days now.  Ioana reads a paragraph in English and then she and Pam work through it with Ioana telling her in Romanian what was being told in the story.  They work through the words that she doesn’t yet know and then repeat the process.  As I muddled about in the kitchen I was amazed.  I thought about the fact that in every part of a person’s life they need to find a good starting point.  As I see Ioana being tutored in math, reading a book in English and going to therapy it is challenging for me, that because of her course in life thus far, that she has to be behind on many of those starting points.  But then I see the determination that she has, the commitment she possesses and her work ethic to do her best no matter what.  And through it all she just wants to succeed.  She just wants to be told she has done a great job and above all she wants to be loved.

Next week will be about the halfway mark of her journey here in America.  Already I grieve the fact that she will be going back to Romania.  We have just begun to really find our groove as a temporary family unit.  It hasn’t been without challenges.  There have been days where I wasn’t sure I could handle another day with a teenage girl.  All of this pushes me to find that boundary as well.  I’m so grateful and thankful for such a wonderful, loving, incredible teacher of life that I have in my wife, Pam.  Ben and Ioana get along like good teenage siblings.  They kid and joke, but don’t ever really argue.  Each one of us takes a turn at bat with Ioana and then the pinch hitters come in the form of community and friends.  It has been a most wonderful, blessed experience for us. 

Blessings to all of YOU for all that you have done for this young lady.  Have a great weekend and GO BRONCOS!    

Because Ioana isn’t strong enough to do a squat with gravity she uses this machine to build strength in her legs.