As 2013 comes to an end and we prepare to welcome in the New Year, it is a good time to reflect on how far we have come and how far we still want to go. Since Isabella’s Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) I have written yearly goals for us. Our goals are made with the intent to keep making forward progress on this journey and to find some “normalcy”. I started making goals after that first year post ABI. I remember thinking that we were a year out and yet we seemed stuck in the exact same place as the prior year. Goals help me see the forward progress and we celebrate how much has been accomplished in the year.
I generally set up 12 goals (roughly one per month) and I make sure that they are realistic. We need to be able to attain them or we set ourselves up to fail. Isabella is a part of the goal writing. Our ideas are often very similar.
In 2013 some of our goals were:
Isabella will be able to ride a bike. Since Isabella’s ABI, she had not ridden a bike. Part of that was a physical strength issue and part was safety regarding behavior. On July 21st, Isabella rode her bike for the first time. It was an amazing success. The smile that was on her face is something I will never forget. When Isabella is having safe behavior she can now ride her bike. Before the summer ended she could even make it riding around the block.
Isabella will be in an appropriate school program. While going into a school system did not work out for Isabella, she is in an appropriate school program. That program is home schooling. While it is not what I had planned, it is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. Since starting home school Isabella has begun to read! Her handwriting has improved as well. Sometimes our goals are made with one intention and yet things work out different than planned. That is ok. We still achieved the goal and really success is what matters.
Isabella will be able to go swimming. Isabella started doing Aquatics “pool” Therapy. This form of therapy was used in addition to Land Physical Therapy. Isabella made tremendous progress once she started “Pool” Therapy. As a result she was discharged from Physical Therapy all together! This is the first therapy that Isabella has graduated from. For now, her body is strong enough to be without Physical Therapy. Now Isabella and I try to swim once a week as it was something we both enjoyed long before her ABI.
Isabella will be able to play soccer. Prior to Isabella’s ABI, she loved to play soccer. Since her ABI, that love for soccer has never left. Isabella has worked so hard to get strong so she could eventually play again one day. When Isabella graduated from Physical Therapy, I contacted the soccer program that she was a part of prior to her ABI. The coaches have generously donated their services. Isabella is receiving a private soccer session every week. In that half hour, there is no brain injury, there is just a little girl enjoying the sport she loves.
Isabella will be able to go to the beach. Isabella and I use to go all the time prior to her ABI. She really wanted to go to the beach. I worked closely with Isabella’s team to plan a trip that would be successful. This past summer, every weekend night I would pack beach stuff. This way I was prepared to go if Isabella woke up in a good place. Finally she woke up one August morning and I knew that this was the day. We were in the car on the road by 7:30am. We got to the beach before anyone was even there. The plan was stay for a half hour or less. This would insure that we would be on and off the beach before people arrived. We were literally in the parking lot, on the beach, off the beach and back on the road within 30 minutes. It was perfect. Isabella was able to accomplish something she really wanted to do and we were able to make it successful for her.
While there has been success and progress in 2013, there have also been goals not met and regression. Having goals helps me appreciate the success and to see the forward progress. I choose to focus on the successes rather than dwell on regression. I have learned that this journey is often two steps forward and five steps back. I see Isabella fighting so hard every day to regain her life back and that alone gives me hope. As the year comes to an end, I am thankful for all that Isabella has achieved and for the personal growth that I have had. I am so very proud of the survivor that she is. As we gear up for 2014, I encourage you to have some goals too. I am excited for the New Year and I am ready to start the next chapter on this journey.
Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. – Walt Disney