The prize was two seats on a special field trip with some very popular teachers, headed up by Elena's first and second grade teacher (he looped with the class for one year). Matt knows Elena very well, and knows how to balance her needs and empower her at the same time. The trip was to the National Zoo.
So, eight kids (all E's schoolmates, except Vivian who was allowed to go as one of the 8), several teachers as chaperones, in passenger vans. Jason and I got to stay home, having the day completely to ourselves!
I'll admit I was nervous. I broke the news to Vivian a few days prior (who was very excited about the trip) that parents were not going with them, and she sobbed and said she didn't want to go. We dropped it to see if she'd change her mind, which she did. Elena was not phased by us staying home. That is new.
I spoke to the teachers in advance and on the day of the trip what to expect (very little was news to Matt). I had confidence she would last most of the day, and be able to keep up with a slower group if given some time to rest off her feet. I wasn't sure what would happen at the end of the day, so I suggested a piggyback ride if she wasn't going to make it back to the van on her own. Elena had foot support during the van ride (about 2 hours each way), and to take off her shoes/braces on the way home. Snacks were packed, kids were sunscreened, and off they went!
|Girls are ready!|
Elena had one important accessory, and two early birthday presents. She wore her "Adventure Vest", and although it runs large (it fits across my chest, but it's for kids) it's a very accessible way for her to carry and collect things while on the go with her crutches. She wore her new sunglasses (sunglass clips for her new prescription glasses; that was one of her gifts) and a digital camera of her own (very few buttons, lightweight). Her camera fit in her pocket (lanyard carabiner clipped to her front vest in case it fell during one handed operation), and her sunglasses case (along with some lunch money) were in the back pocket of her vest (shown below--cinched at the back so it didn't fall off her shoulders).
|"Adventure Vest", rear view|
Jason and I went on a long walk, went out to lunch with friends, and then relaxed. It was such a fun, free day! The weather was perfect, and we figured if there were any issues we would be notified.
Elena and Vivian arrived back in town close to 7 pm, just a little later than we expected. They were bright eyed and very happy! There were two major surprises from the day. Even though I had given Matt the handicap placard, the closest place to park was about a mile (!) from the zoo entrance. He carried Elena part of the way--something Elena doesn't really want, especially in the beginning of the day when she has energy--but he wanted that energy to be spent at the zoo, not just getting there. I appreciated that. Second, Elena's feet started to hurt near the end of the day. We just got new AFOs, and I should have anticipated some discomfort since she is just getting used them; I probably should have put on her old pair for her to wear. Overall everyone said she kept up well (except for the very end of the day).
She is still (three days past) a little "crouchy"; we see this after a lot of physical activity sometimes. I think the new braces also have a lot to do with the weird stance...my guess is since she weight-bears on the left more, and did so much walking at the zoo, that explains why her "left foot hurts" (even though there isn't any pressure points visible after taking off her AFOs) and she crouches more. We're now alternating her old/new AFOs and watching for pressure problems, while giving her extra massage/stretch and see how long it takes for her to reach her regular stance. My guess is another day or so.
Elena was extraordinarily thankful for the opportunity to go on this trip; the chaperones were excellent, her schoolmates were wonderful company, and she was able to guide and help her little sister on a big girl type of trip. Wins ALL AROUND!