Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gabriella's Stem Cell Surgery... FIFTH month post-op findings

Gabriella had stem cell surgery on 12/12/12... 

Her original and complete post was posted 3/31/2013... read that on her blog for complete details and a photo. 

But, what has happened since... this post includes the 1st, 3rd and 5th month findings:

What has happened POST stem cells for Gabriella the FIRST MONTH:
·        Gabriella (and her newly adopted sister of 6 months- age 2 yrs. 11 mo.) both began speaking in sentences 2 weeks post stem cells.
·        Gabriella’s reading has increased in speed and accuracy. She is reading phonetically.
·        Gabriella can actually now read THREE books in the time it took her to read one.
·        Gabriella took 10 consecutive steps on week 4 post stem cells, walked up the stairs yesterday holding the rail with one hand… one step at a time (not alternating feet).  Today  (1/11/13), she walked up the stairs with one hand and alternating her feet.
·        She is migrating more around the home… crossing hallway walls and corners to get to the bathroom or her room.
·        She has greater balance… she stands and talks to me much more often and for longer periods of time, even removing clothing such as a jacket or shirt.
·        Today her physical therapist at school said the following:  “I can see she’s been practicing her outlining – it’s getting more steady.” (uh…. no, she’s not practicing much at home)
·        Her recent “fits” that began in November  are now subsiding.
·        She has GAINED WEIGHT… Holy cow… this is huge… she weighed 25 pounds as a 3 ½ year old coming home from China and COULD NOT GAIN WEIGHT for an entire YEAR. The second year and a half home, she gained 12 pounds. SHE HAS GAINED 3 POUNDS POST STEM CELLS… in ONE MONTH!
·        And, my favorite… she is no longer repeating herself like she did. She NOW might ask me 5 times in a day “What’s for dinner?” 

What has happened POST stem cells for Gabriella THREE MONTHS later:
·        Gabriella can now read the same Bob books that took her about 15 minutes to read, pre stem cells, in two to four minutes.  
·        She continues to want to read several books in one setting, a minimum of three books each sitting.
·        She is able to read these books now without having to sound out the same words on the same page. Once she knows a word, she generally knows it for the rest of the book. She has at least 10 words in her reading knowledge that she can now see and say rather than actually sound out and read.
·        She is beginning to ask questions… “Why?” is her new favorite question.
·        She can stand AND DANCE in place… even for minutes.
·        When her sister whacks her, she is often able to tell me how, why and where.
·        She is now able to speak with pronouns: he, she , you, me
·        She is negotiating more productively with her newly turned 3-year old sister… there are fewer fights and fits.

What has happened POST stem cells for Gabriella FIVE MONTHS later:
·        Since we started homeschooling the second week of February 2013, I have had her read almost all of the directions to all of her homework pages. She does anywhere between 6 to 12 pages in a day… Most of the time she does about 10.
·        At times, I still find her guessing a word or two… but, she can sound out the words, with short vowels and long vowels (silent “e” and 2 vowel words). She is also learning about the letter “y” and the sounds it can make in different words such as “my”, “many”, etc. She can read words with “ing” and use them in a sentence as well…”walking”.
·        Her sentences are becoming much clearer, and while I still don’t always know what she is saying, my girlfriend mentioned the other day that she can actually understand Gabriella for the first time. It was exciting to hear that from someone outside our home.
·        Gabriella is beginning to write more than just her name now. Her homework includes writing numbers, letters, words, and now sentences. In fact, the first week of May, her very first job was to write a sentence using the words that she was learning: “cat, sat, and mat.” She told me the sentence, wrote it, spelling each word by herself correctly, though I helped her with “the” because she had a brain blank at the moment… “The cat sat on the mat.” She read the sentence afterwards. And, she remembered the sentence for the rest of the day and shared that with everyone she could. She was so proud of herself. It took her 15 minutes to write it. It is still a very slow, tedious process. But, she is doing something that doctors believed she would never do. On Mother’s Day (today), she wrote “Mama” all by herself… sounding it out.
·        When she is communicating with me, I have her repeat sentences in proper English (don’t mention this to her speech teacher though… she wants Gabriella to speak sentences like: I want color” instead of “I want to color.”)
·        Her balance is developing… just how much, I still don’t know. But on 5/5/13, while in Sunday School at church, I videoed her while they sang. She stood for 5 minutes and 27 seconds before being distracted. I had called over one of the leaders and asked if they could sing one more song. While I was talking to the leader, Gabriella sat down. Ugh.  She did get right back up, within 2 seconds, and stood some more… a LOT MORE! In fact, when she finally sat down the second time, the running time was 20 minutes and 27 seconds. Which means, she stood for 15 minutes… exactly DOUBLE what she stood the day after her stem cell surgery on 12/12/12 when she stood 7 ½ minutes. The only other day I have timed her standing.
·        One thing I have noticed is that she is starting to repeat herself again when she wants to talk but has nothing to say. This was one of those things I prayed would stop. I am hoping as our next little ones join our family through adoption in 2013, that she will learn how to communicate and play pretend play without repeating herself or using “baby cries”.
·        She is zooming through the Bob Books, a reading curriculum… but, we probably only sit down to read them 2 times a week. I feel horrible about that… because she wants to read… but, she also likes to do worksheets. She loves worksheets. And, now they are getting challenging enough that I actually have to sit with her for most pages… rather than clean the kitchen or iron clothes.
·        I started her on some emergent books. I really do not like this idea… but, I will see what happens. It’s the kind of book that made me pull her out of public school. “I see a horse.” “I see a cow.” She loves them though.
·        She is just beginning to add objects with numbers (ie. 2 cars with the number 2 = 4 trucks and the number 4). She is also adding 2 cars plus 3 cars = how many cars?
·        She is walking in the upstairs hallway with a plastic grocery cart with really no weight in it. She would have never been able to do this before stem cells. This makes me nervous. I did give her, her helmet to put on… but I prefer to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich… pretending she is not really doing it… then, my nervousness subsides. I fear she will fall and hit her head. Sometimes she walks too fast for mama, but she walks with joy and confidence.
·        Her ability to “cruise” along the walls has become more stable and she moves from wall to wall or hall to hall and through doors with greater ease.
·        She can also “catch” herself if she falls forward… something that didn’t seem like would happen for years.

As I am watching Gabriella, I would like to see the following…
·        Her confidence blossom.
·        Fewer looks for constant affirmation or permission to speak or do something with another person or teacher. If someone asks her to do something (anything)… including Baba, she always looks to me to see if she should answer them or perform for them.
·        That she reads to others.
·        Fewer “fits”.
·        Take more than one independent step as she crosses hallways.
·        More dramatic play with her sister, with real words that match the play.
·        Less repeating.