Stretching Our Faith
From her very first therapy sessions, it was obvious to me that the main obstacle in Jian’s mobility was the contracture in her left hip. I kept telling Daniel that we were going to have to get her pelvis into alignment before any huge progress could be made with her walking. I committed to stretching her legs every day for probably a year, and it helped some. Then, as we began to deal more with Jian’s emotional needs, I felt that I could not keep doing everything and was told by numerous healthcare professionals that the stretching would not be effective, so I stopped. Fast forward a year, and the contracture had gotten worse. We looked into getting the splint that she would sleep in, but ended up being denied for it. Jian was very happy and had been praying every night that we would be able to get her “legs straight, no surgery, no brace.”
Her therapist had been working and brainstorming, and a couple weeks ago when we went in, he said that he had heard a presentation about a special program that made him think of Jian. When he told me about it, something clicked in my brain, and I knew this was going to lead us somewhere. This was a program developed decades ago in Germany to help kids with scoliosis gain alignment without surgery. There are a few people throughout the country who are certified, and one happends to be 2 hours from us! I called the next day expecting there to be a 6 month waiting list. They said we could come the following Friday! The sessions would be 3-4 hours each. We would come 1-2 times per month. I showed Jian some pictures from the internet of the success of the program, and she was happy to go.
The therapist is a gentleman from Iran who has a doctorate in physical therapy and has been practicing for 35 years. He has every type of specialty certification I think that you can get. He is hungry for knowledge, loves to solve a problem, and loves to teach. When he walked in, he asked for a CD of Jian’s hip Xrays. He didn’t really talk to me or ask for any other therapy notes, didn’t ask about Jian as a person or about our story. He studied her Xray for a few minutes, then began pointing at the screen and explaining exactly what was going on with her body, what the problems are, and started discussing a step-by-step plan of how we should be able to correct it. The same step-by-step plan that has been in my mind since the day after I was told by the Rehab Medicine doctor that she didn’t know what else we could do to help the situation. I realized that next morning when I was alone and quiet that God had preserved everything that Jian needs to be independent. Her brain is as sharp as a tack, her upperbody strength is amazing, all the nerves and muscles in her right leg are functioning, and the muscles in her left hip have nerve innervation. Even if the bottom part of her left leg is not innervated, we can easily correct that with a knee brace and shoe lift. We just need to unlock those left hip muscles.
So, back to the therapist in Atlanta. He was not perplexed by our case. He took the next several hours working with Jian and showing us everything he could think of that could help. I took videos of tons of different stretches, and learned lots of different, more effective techniques with the stretches than what I had been previously doing. He told me that I would be doing this daily for at least 4 months, up to an hour and a half each night. He recommended purchasing a massage table, bolsters, wedges, etc. to have everything set up well and to protect my back in the process. It was a lot to take in. If we had found this man a year ago, there is no way Jian could have emotionally tolerated all the changes he was recommending. But now is the right timing.
Jian has been completely compliant at home with our nightly routine. Even one day when she had therapy for a couple hours after school, we went home, ate dinner, and started getting ready for bed. She said, “Wait! I thought so we gonna stretch my legs.” So we did. I am taking pictures, which she is shy about wanting people to see, but there was an obvious improvement in just one week’s time. We have now gone back for our second appointment. This time, he focused a lot on teaching her to feel her body in space and to learn to get it lined up correctly while she is standing. He could tell an improvement in her left hip. He did acupuncture to help relax a knot in her left hip. This visit, both he and Jian loosened up much more and are starting to have a better rapport. The process is exhausting, and I am watching her closely to make sure I’m not pushing her too much, but overall I know that we are on the right track.
We are specifically praying for:
- Jian’s left hip to unlock and be in alignment
- Stability and bone growth in her right hip (as it didn’t form properly due to the position she was in for so long at the orphanage)
- Jian to emotionally be able to endure these next few months of hard work and multiple trips to Atlanta
I know for sure that as an adult, Jian is going to be fine. I know the road may be bumpy between now and then, but I know we are going to get there. Once again, thank you all for your prayers during this pivotal time.