So, on Thanksgiving weekend, we did our first trip down to Southern California to see the family since the accident. Needlenoggin did really well, all things considered, and we arrived in SoCal so he could have dinner in the hotel with my folks:
There was ONE hotel in my folks' city with ONE roll-in shower, and my parents rented it for Needlenoggin, which meant that for the first time since July, he got to take a shower by himself (they hosed the patients off at SCVMC and he's been sponge bathing, but still). He told us he hadn't realized how dirty he'd been until he was finally clean. Oh, and the bench they'd installed (so you don't have to shower in your wheelchair) wasn't ACTUALLY attached to the wall, so he did have to shower in his wheelchair.
So, first shower.
Then we had a first birthday for Little Monkey/Glad you're alive party for Needlenoggin, and had awesome cake. Ninja themed? Yes it is.
Lots of friends who we haven't seen in ages (and who live far, far away) came to celebrate with us. More pictures are here and here.The best visitor for Needlenoggin though was his favorite high-school teacher. The guy came from a family celebration and sat and talked with Needlenoggin. Now, my brother has always been rather taciturn, and doesn't talk at great length, but since the accident we've had entire days that consist of two or three three-word sentences. So, to see him and Mr. P yukking it up was heart-warming, especially when he took an hour talking to us about the guy afterwards. If you're reading this, thank you so much for investing in my brother. You are a shining example of what teachers are supposed to be.
So. Fantastic teacher visit.
Anywho, the party went well. We also got some great progress in getting Needlenoggin into a car sans wheelchair. No, he can't do it by himself and yes, it involves multiple people and a lift, but hey, check him out:
So, riding in a real car. Cool.
Then we got home and had Little Monkey's check up at his surgeons' office. They poked him, squeezed him, measured him, and pronounced him healthy. "He may still need a corrective surgery or two to fix the outside of his skull, where it is all bumpy and dented, but that won't require any more cracking it open," we were told. "So, good. See you in six months."
Awesome. Minor neurosurgery, maybe, in a long time. Cool.
Oh, and we're figuring out our lift. We managed to get Needlenoggin into one of our recliners to watch a movie, which he said is way more comfortable than his wheelchairs. It's a half an hour process getting him in and out, but he REALLY seemed to enjoy it, so rock on.
Then, mid December, we took family Christmas pictures:
And made Christmas cards:
Later that week we went to the doctor's office for Needlenoggin to find that his doc had actually received the records and was a much, much nicer guy. Talked to me about Little Monkey, admitted that spinal cord injuries aren't his thing, but was willing to talk to us and get it all sorted out. Wrote correct Rxs.
Then my folks arrived for Christmas. Minor miracle in and of itself, really.
They hung out with Needlenoggin on Christmas Eve and came back to our place for Christmas dinner. On Christmas morning, Needlenoggin was situated (in his awesome new Batman jammies) in the reciner nearest the tree. I went to go let the kids in (they were playing in our room), and came out to find that he'd (intentionally) slid down the the floor so he could open stockings with Rorysaurus. "I want to celebrate Christmas morning like a person," he said. "Take that thing," pointing to the wheelchair, "away."
It is a huge workout on his center, since he doesn't have complete control over that area, but how cool is that? (Getting him back up is less fun, but whatever). He's even found he can snuggle Dingo better from on the ground.
So, sitting. Score.
He's also trying to use his manual wheelchair more and more as his once-broken wrist gets stronger. We're still waiting on his permanent wheelchair to come (he's in an ill-fitting loaner), which we hope will get him out and about more. Still no social services (they said maybe in April), but we've been blessed to have a wonderful dog trainer volunteer her time to work with Dingo and a volunteer dog-walker come several times a week as well.