Friday, August 07, 2009
#6 - I’m too old to run with you
I was warned that he can't talk and that he might hit Sadie. It's one of those stories that just make you want to cry. His parents had locked him into the crib for his whole life (3 years). He spoke his own language, but his grandmother seemed to understand. He only felt comfortable in his locked crib so they had to make a modified one for him while he was in the hospital. Ann warned me and asked if we still wanted to visit him and we, of course, said yes.
Being a "pet therapy" team isn't just about bringing in your dog and letting the kids just pet it. It's really about working with the staff and finding out how you and the dog can help the child with their healing.
So Ann said that they were hoping that Sadie's visit would get him to try to walk, to see if he could speak any Spanish or English (instead of his own language) and if he could try to pet Sadie without hitting her. I told Ann, "yeah, no problem, and would you like us to walk on water at the end of the visit too?"
So, I was a little bit cautious going into his room and tried not to have Sadie pick that up from my body language or energy (sure…).
His grandmother was resting in a hospital chair and Jake was in his so called crib. I knock before I enter the room and my little knock stirred the grandma. She only spoke Spanish and when I told her our names and that we were there for a visit (my Spanish isn't too great but she understood me, whew). So, she got up and opened the crib, took Jake out and sat him on the floor as I put Sadie in a "down" on the floor near him. There were some toys on the floor but he really just wanted to stare at Sadie.
I put myself between the two of them because I wasn’t sure what either one of the them was going to do. Jake seemed to get very excited after starring at Sadie for a couple of minutes. While Jake was starring at Sadie, Sadie was starring at Jake. It really was the most amazing thing. He started to talk with his high pitched squeal language and that made Sadie cock her head back and forth at him. It seemed to me that the two of them were doing their own set of talking to one another.
Once Jake started squealing, his grandmother started to get up out of the chair and that distracted me. Jake was quick. He jumped up with a toy truck in his hand and I thought he was going to try to hit Sadie on the head with it. I turned it time to see that he was just showing her his truck. He held it up to her face and was explaining something to her. I moved so that I could grab it if he should start to bonk her with it. He never did.
He put the truck down and sat next to her. He was somewhat spastic in his movements because of the time that he spent locked in his crib, but he did his best to try to pet her. He got his face very close to her face and when that happens I have to very, very quick. See, Sadie will absolutely give the kid the biggest kiss on the face every single time and sure enough, Jake got one.
He seemed surprised for a second and then let out a huge squeal and started to try to laugh. I’m really not sure if Jake had ever tried to laugh before but it seemed like a laugh to me. I took a quick look at grandma and see had the very biggest grin on her face and a single tear coming out of her left eye. I guess it was okay that Sadie kissed him and the four of us were enjoying the moment.
The next thing he did was to grab at Sadie’s leash as a lot of the kids do. (I need to let all of you know that I constantly have a death grip on that leash when the kids get close for that very reason. I don’t need to have Sadie get spooked, stand up and pull the kid across the floor. Of course, that has never happened but the kids do grab the leash.)
Jake stood up and was pulling at her leash. When Jake stood, Sadie stood.
Jake’s eyes got big as saucers because he didn’t realize just how big Sadie is. He tried giving her a hug around the neck but Sadie was nervous with his spastic movements. So, I asked the Grandma if it would be okay if Jake took Sadie for a walk down the hall. I assured her that I really would be the only controlling the leash even though Jake currently wouldn’t let go it.
Ann had come back to the room and told her what we were about to do and she said to try it and she and the grandma would watch from the door.
I looked at Jake and figured I’d try both Spanish and then English and asked him if he walked to walk Sadie. No language was really necessary because as we were walking out of the room, he had her leash and a smile and that’s all that mattered at that point.
So, off we went down the hall with the Jake-Sadie experiment. The pediatric ward (PEDS) is configured in a "t" shape so we were going to walk from one end of the hall to the other and not try to make any turns. So Jake was ahead of me with his hand in the leash but I had it wrapped so that I took all of the tension. We started of walking but that didn’t last too long.
Once Jake discovered his "freedom" from his crib and the room, he thought it would be great fun to run down the hall. Of course, Sadie liked that idea too. So, we started running Jake style. He began to really laugh now that he knew what that sound was.
WE run up and down that hall for over 20 minutes. At several times, all of the nurses at the main nursing station stopped what they were doing to watch Jake and Sadie. People were in shock, were amazed and then the happiest that I had ever seen them. They were poking each other, pointing and then going and getting staff and doctors to watch.
I know that I kept thinking that I am way too old for this but it was absolute joy. Joy for Jake, for Sadie, for his grandmother, Ann, the nurses, and the entire Peds unit and me. It was one of Sadie’s greatest miracles and if I had the stamina, I would have liked to have never stopped.
I wish that I could have captured Jake’s laughter and put it in a bottle. It was the absolute greatest sound that I had ever heard in my entire life. It was the sound of freedom, fun, joy, experimentation, and healing all rolled in to one great laughter.
Jake was didn’t want to stop.
I knew that this was hard on both Sadie and me and we didn’t want to stop either.
His grandmother called to him and he knew it was time so he tried to take us down the other hall with a quick turn. I had to put the brakes on. Man, that was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do during one of our visits. I told Jake that I would let him pet Sadie but we needed to go back to his room. Grandma came and got us and we headed back.
Jake and Sadie sat on the floor again and this time Jake just hugged her and let her turn and kiss him.
When the time was up and Jake had to go back to the crib, I thought my heart was going to stop. We took a Polaroid with Jake and Sadie and gave it to him. Since Jake didn’t know what that was, he preceded to crumple it into a ball. Good thinking Donna! So I handed him his truck and asked if I could trade the leash for the truck. Again, no way!
So, grandma came over, told Jake to let go and then said the best thing that we could do was to turn and quickly walk out the door and she put him back in the crib. She took the leash out of his hand, picked him up and we turned and walked out of the room.