Well, on Friday morning Avery and I took the long drive down to Radford to her Physical Medicine Doctor's new office. He used to come to Roanoke twice a month, but apparently there wasn't room at that office for him anymore, so now we have to drive an hour, which I know isn't that big of a deal, but when we've been so blessed to be within a five or ten minute drive from most of her medical appointments, an hour seems like a long time! Especially with gas prices being the way they are. I filled up with gas on Friday morning before we left, and with the appointment in Radford on Friday and then her hippotherapy out in the boonies on Monday, by Monday evening I had clocked almost 200 miles in the minivan... fun times!
But! That's not what I'm here to write about! So this appointment on Friday was with the Dr who had administered Avery's Botox back in November, and we just love him. He is a great doctor, and - just as importantly in my opinion - he's a great guy. He really listens to you and your concerns and observations, and he really takes the time to communicate and get to know you and make sure you completely understand what's going on - and that is a quality which is sadly lacking amongst many of these specialists I've discovered! So we really like him and trust him. Last time we saw him it was back in February, and at that point Avery was still not interested in walking and had to be really pushed to use her walker for even a couple of minutes. It seemed that the botox had begun to wear off, and he told us that we really needed to make sure we were doing her stretches faithfully to avoid having to do more botox and/or valium. Yep, valium - this is not a word which excites us. Anyway, Avery has actually made huge progress since February with regards to walking. We've been working really hard, and when the weather started getting nice I started taking her out for almost daily trips to various parks to help motivate her to walk, and I'd get her to walk to the park from the car. We put on her braces before we leave the house, and then once we get there I find a bench and put on her belt (I just use a soft belt of mine and put it around her chest and hold the end of it so that she's a little bit protected from falling) and put her in her walker, and most days she'll walk all the way to the park. It takes a long time - sometimes it can take almost 45 minutes to walk about 200 feet, especially if it's a nice day and everyone and their dog is out enjoying the weather - she gets distracted a lot! But the important thing is that she's been getting used to walking places. We've taken her to the mall to walk, and we've started getting to church early on Sundays so that she can walk in, and we've just been trying to make her understand that walking should be her primary mode of transportation - not crawling. It's hard work, but she's doing well, although there are of course still days when she just won't do it. And it's only been in the past couple of weeks that she's started to feel motivated to use her walker at home - before that it was like pulling teeth because she didn't understand why she should have to walk at home when she can get everywhere by crawling, which for her is much easier and much faster. So it's been really exciting that recently she's not only begun to be compliant when we ask her to walk at home, but she also occasionally even ASKS to use her walker! So anyway, on Friday they did the usual measurements and exercises to see how she's progressed since her last appointment, and it was pretty interesting. Her adductors (which were the ones which were botoxed) are actually tighter than they were last time, but she's actually doing more functionally. Dr Brown was saying that this must be because of how much we've been pushing and encouraging her, and she has motivation now which she just didn't have before, but he said that it's still really hard work for her, and you can see her fighting that muscle tone with every step she takes. So he wants us to start her on a baby dose of valium. We are very concerned about this, and he says we wouldn't be normal parents if we weren't concerned, but that we should really think about it seriously for her sake because he thinks the benefits would be more far-reaching than those of another round of botox. So we have the prescription sitting on our desk, and are now in the process of researching and weighing pros and cons and hoping and praying that we make the right decision, because of course we want to do the right thing, but of course with a drug like valium there are always risks. Dr Brown says though that he feels certain that it will make Avery's life easier and get her walking sooner because she won't be having to fight against her own muscles the way she does now. So I'm still not sure what we're going to do. But he also wrote a prescription for something called TheraTogs, which she has tried twice with her physical therapist, and they were WONDERFUL! I'm super excited to get those! The first time Lisa (PT) put them on her was the first time I've ever seen Avery walk with her feet pointing out instead of in - it was like a miracle! So I am really excited to get those for her, and maybe we'll wait to see how she does with those before we make a decision about the valium. I don't know. We're going back to see Dr Brown in 3 months. We may need to change the appointment since that's when this baby's due to be born. Actually, he was saying that was another reason that he would choose valium over botox because the botox would require intensive stretching and exercising again to be effective, and since I'm getting less and less able to do that stuff with her as I get bigger and more pregnant (which is true - I've barely been able to pick her up without killing my back recently, and I'm just in pain all the time), but the valium would do it's job whether I stretch her every day or not, basically. So, you know, if anyone's had an experience with any of this, I'd love some opinions....!!