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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 30

Rhonda Learns to Read

If I had been in a war before with the former therapies this one was of something like an ice cream Sunday compared to jalapeno peppers. We moved into Motherís rent house because Rodney took a big cut in salary. The house was really old with only one bedroom. Rodney put a floor into the connecting garage, opened up the wall and gave us space for a dining area and another bedroom. The tiny kitchen served and that was all. I had grown up living in the apartment at times because this was originally my grandmotherís property. The space, or lack of space, didnít bother me. Once in a while now I will dream of having to move back into the place. In my nightmare Iím trying to decide what to do with furniture, floor coverings, windows and such.

This new therapy was taught to us and every six months we were to go back to one of Doman-Delacatoís offices for evaluation. The daily, seven day a week program taxed me to the limit.

Five thirty in the morning at the fire station where fire men could help us with "patterning" was tough. A mother of one of the children was a nurse and had to be at work very early. That alone was a daily grind. The men of Ponca Cityís fire department volunteered to help us, and we had to have them.

The exercises required five people, at least. Rhonda was to be flat on her stomach while in rhythm each person moved one of her limbs and head alligator fashion, one side in opposition to the other to simulate a crawl. Probably some evolutionist had come up with the method in a belief it was a basic step man must have programed into his development. It didnít matter where or what the theory was to me. The fact being it was exercise and this is what Rhonda needed. The plus of having her out of the useless braces brought us to a sane way of life.

Systematic training exercises were performed every hour for eight minutes. So, instead of the few stretching repetitive push and pull work-outs I had practiced before this was in no way compared to that.

One person could do maybe thirty stretching exercises on each limb twice a day with the previous therapy. This new method was about four stretching motions on each limb every five seconds. Or approximately 48 strokes every minute, or 384 in eight minutes and it was done for each limb in unison. This was a far cry from the exercise therapy Rhonda had before. Each session now was just for one eight minute length. She had 8 sessions a day, one every hour. Rhonda seemed actually to enjoy this new activity that relaxed her rigid muscles.

After the eight minutes were up Rhonda was put on a long rug where she had to crawl on her belly much like the army maneuvers where men crawl under barb wire. For some reason she never rebelled as she had done with the braces. One of the new therapy requirement was to totally take the braces off. There was no love lost in that.

After crawling on the rug we went into a dark room to try to stimulate her brain activity by using the muscles in her eyes. A machine with a light bulb was timed to come on and off for five minutes. This exercise was, of course, painless.

After we finished that we went to the academic part of the program when Rhonda was taught words according to categories. There were white houses, green houses, tree houses, ice houses, hill houses, big houses, little houses, brick houses, chicken houses, farm houses, and so and so forth. After she learned these we went to another category such as bicycle, tricycle, motor cycle, unicycle, bicycle for two, and so on. There were books to learn to read. The first one read: Nose is nose and toes are toes but nose is not toes, and so on. This was before Dr. Seuss so it was fun and Rhonda learned to read right away. I was amazed and unbelieving.

There were tactile exercises, too, we did at this time. I sewed her a bag and put small objects in it. She was to reach in and identify the objects without looking at them. This was to create a picture in her brain teaching her to see the object with her hands as so many women do daily when they riffle through their purses to try to find a lipstick or their car keys. After these were finished it was time to go back to the 8 minutes of physical therapy, which was called patterning.

We kept this therapy up for four years, finally exhausting the men at the fire department. Some were true blue and came to our home on schedule. The churches found volunteers. I had 40 people a day go through my home of 280 persons a week. Rhonda made great strides. Her appetite improved and she would eat. She was enjoying reading, though haltingly. The child no longer woke at night screaming with leg cramps. This alone was a blessing and well worth the work involved.

We used up all our volunteers as we finished up the forth year with my sister exercising a leg and arm and myself her other leg and arm. Rhonda was strong enough by now that she could turn her own head in rhythm.

Debt for medical expenses and other expenses was well over 30,000.00 dollars and we took bankruptcy. The judge granted our filing with not even a comment or question. I kept my head up high while I was on the stand in the courtroom as we faced our creditors. The judge seemed to have a look of unity with me. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do other than the therapy itself.

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