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The Path to Discernment – Part 2

Back in December, Katie, Ioana’s physical therapist, asked if Ioana and I would be open to coming to the Children’s Hospital clinic in Broomfield for an FES bike demonstration.  Currently, the only FES bike is in Aurora.  Restorative Therapies was putting on a demonstration for the Broomfield physical therapists to see how the FES bike functioned and worked.  There were maybe a dozen therapists there and Ioana got to ride for 30 minutes or so free of charge.  We were happy because we currently pay $220 twice a week when she rides the bike in Aurora.

Somebody, I can’t remember who, asked how much an FES bike would cost if purchased outright.  It might of even been me but I can’t remember for sure.  The representative told us that most people with spinal cord injuries are able to obtain one and insurance will often reimburse them in part or in full.  “But how much does one cost?”  Answer- $16,400.  I thought about that and realized that I participate in a recreational sport where I see people riding bicycles costing $5,000 all the time and they don’t blink an eye at that.  For $16,400 the FES bike does some incredible things.  Especially when it comes from Cochlear implant technology and data can be retrieved remotely half a world away.

Then Katie asked another question.  “Do you have any of these in Romania?”  The answer was no, but that they do have a European division of the company.  At this point I think the wheels in both my brain and in Katie’s began turning simultaneously.

Over the next few weeks there were some discussions about the bike, possibly finding funding through grants and how we could ever get one to Romania.  Largely, it was a pipe dream.  I asked Ioana about it and she wanted to know if it could really happen.  I told her that likely it would not happen but that we were looking into the possibilities.  “Ioana, this would be a dream come true if we could get an FES bike in Arad.”

A few more weeks passed and sometime late in January a person who knew about Ioana and had observed her wanted to ask me some questions.  “I’ve seen her progress.  I don’t know if I’m more impressed with her English or how much better she walks since she has been here.”  Many people have stated the same about Ioana.  “But what happens to her once she goes back home?  How will she maintain what she has gained here?”

Ioana is slumped over the FES bike after a workout at Children’s Hospital in Aurora, CO. She works so hard she gets “spaghetti legs” as she calls them!

I replied that we were still trying to sort all of that out.  One thing that I was certain of is that her past regimen of physical therapy was not effective.  We would look to implement a home program thus alleviating time wasted traveling back and forth to a local clinic twice a week.  Additionally, we could get her a membership to Activ Club, a local health club with a pool where she and her foster mom, Lumi, could go together.  This would replicate the work that she has been doing at Paul Derda Recreation Center with Pam and our friend Karen, who take her there two to three times a week.  But it will be challenging for her to maintain all that she has gained.  I then shared that there was a potential additional option but it was costly and we were not sure how it might all come together.

“Matt, our family would like to help out with a gift for Ioana.  Are her current costs covered for remaining treatment here in the United States?”  I shared that indeed, those costs had been met by many generous donors.  “Well, we’d like to really see that she continues her work in Romania.  Let us know if you could use our help.”

The amount of the contribution that this family was willing to make would cover almost a third of the cost of the FES bike.  I was humbled by the offer.  I shared that I would do some research, talk to Katie, her physical therapist, and begin a discussion with board members of Global Hope about what they wanted to do.  

But that night  instead of exuberance and excitement I had cautious reserve.  I shared with Pam our discussion and decided to sleep on it.  However, I could do anything but sleep.  A lot of questions rose in my head about this possibility.  I tossed and turned until about 3:00 in the morning and sleep did not come easy.    

Over the next few days I would begin to dig deep and think seriously about what this would all involve.  I had serious reservations that led to lengthy conversations with Pam and also with my colleague Jacci.  All three of us have had extensive experience with the mission field and projects, etc.  I really wanted us to learn from past experiences but also seek out God and our hearts.