Friday, September 14, 2012

Micah's Milestones (a.k.a. Micah's Miracles)

According to Micah's CT scan, he has very little brain and a whole lot of fluid inside his skull.  The untreated hydrocephalus caused massive damage to his brain for the first four years of his life, and the profound neglect  did not do him any favors, either.  His neurologist is amazed.  I am amazed.  According to his CT scan, he should not be able to do the things he is doing.  Like feeding himself:

and coming to me when I call him (well, I am actually signing and beckoning and smiling big at him too, in addition to calling him, since we know he is very hearing impaired) and he is climbing up onto furniture, and back off again, and sitting up beautifully (although he still always has to keep one hand on the ground for support):

He is not quite crawling, but he is Army-crawling now:

and scooting himself around the house on his bottom:

He drew today, for the very first time:

although he still is not sure how excited he is about this coloring thing.  But Mommy was so, so excited that I think he may have wondered if coloring is not so bad after all.  Still, I think he was way more excited about the marker lid.  He absolutely LOVES toys that fit over his fingers.  LOVES them.

I have not yet caught him signing on video, but I will have to try to capture it, so I can show you that this boy is UNDERSTANDING the concept of sign language!  I was starting to wonder when/if the lightbulb would ever come on.  He is now signing "please," "all done," "sleep," and "more."  I can't even tell you how excited I am that we are communicating!  Gideon has been signing for quite awhile now, and I am so giddy with Mommy excitement that Micah is joining in!  I am working on a few other signs with Micah, showing him and doing hand-over-hand, signs like yogurt and oatmeal and diaper and . . . well, a whole bunch of other ones!  We are also starting to introduce picture cards for communication, so I will keep you posted on that fun, as well!  

He is beginning to play with toys instead of just throwing them or hitting himself in the head:

He is standing up so nice and tall:

And even starting to take little tiny steps when supported:

And he has become such a lovebug!

I have been reading a book called 
The Brain That Changes Itself.  

Fascinating.  I don't find a lot of spare time to read these days, but what I have read so far is HUGE.  Inspiring.  Hope-filled.  Challenging.  Confusing.  Miraculous.  I wish I could make this book required reading for every doctor, therapist, and teacher my kids come into contact with.  

Here is a brief description of the book:

An astonishing new science called "neuroplasticity" is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.

And here are some reviews:

From Publishers Weekly

For years the doctrine of neuroscientists has been that the brain is a machine: break a part and you lose that function permanently. But more and more evidence is turning up to show that the brain can rewire itself, even in the face of catastrophic trauma: essentially, the functions of the brain can be strengthened just like a weak muscle. Scientists have taught a woman with damaged inner ears, who for five years had had "a sense of perpetual falling," to regain her sense of balance with a sensor on her tongue, and a stroke victim to recover the ability to walk although 97% of the nerves from the cerebral cortex to the spine were destroyed. With detailed case studies reminiscent of Oliver Sachs, combined with extensive interviews with lead researchers, Doidge, a research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Columbia and the University of Toronto, slowly turns everything we thought we knew about the brain upside down. He is, perhaps, overenthusiastic about the possibilities, believing that this new science can fix every neurological problem, from learning disabilities to blindness. But Doidge writes interestingly and engagingly about some of the least understood marvels of the brain. (Mar. 19)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 
"Mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff with implications for all human beings."
-The New York Times

"A remarkable and hopeful portrait of the endless adaptability of the human brain."
-Oliver Sacks

"The power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility."
-The New York Times

Anyway, I am always researching and trying to learn more, and this is my latest discovery.  Anyone else read this book?

It seems that a lot of people lately have asked me, in a hushed tone, "So how is it really going?"  And I can tell them, and tell you, that it is really going just as great as you see here.  I am not just saying that things are great.  They truly are.  Sure, these kids are busy, and expensive, and complicated.  They are a lot of work to get from here to there.  They are noisy.  They have a lot of appointments.  They have anxiety issues that still make it tricky to go anywhere without panic attacks and screaming fits.  And even with all of that, I can say, completely and without hesitation, that I am blessed more than I know how to express.  


Kathleen said...

Praying! Amazing progress. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't been following.

{ MELBOURNE ROAD } said...

I am so excited for you and your boys! What miracles are happening and will continue to!
We learned a little about neuroplasticity(sp?) in my Psych Program this past year...amazing!

Sarah said...

AMAZING. That little boy truly is a miracle!!!

rosedel said...

I watched a documentary about Dr. Ben Carson once. He has removed half of a child's brain in order to cure epilepsy that medication didn't help. The child was able to walk and talk after with few negative effects. It was truly remarkable.

sonja c. said...

Hi, I'm sonja. I've been following your blog since you began the process to bring your boys home. I just wanted to say how inspiring you are. You and your husband do the hard work with such joy and love. It's truly beautiful to see. I am amazed each time you post at how wonderfully these boys are doing! Your love for life and for all your beautiful children makes me smile. Just wanted to let you know. Blessings to you and your family, Sonja

Anonymous said...

Woweee! Updates on both boys are amazing! They are both so handsome and getting so strong. It is beautiful to see the wonder, joy and peace on their faces! Michah's dimples melt my heart every time...

Judee in Iowa

Marilenne said...

I just picked up that book a few days ago from our local library - haven't started reading it yet (too busy...) but hoping I'll get to it soon. Inspired to read it by my daughter who has CP and who has made such amazing progress - her brain is truly remarkable. Micah is so cute and so impressive and such a little miracle! What amazing progress!! You've got an awesome son!!

Milena said...

Micah is amazing! And that smile :-).... I'm just thrilled to read about his progress! And I also love your attitude. I'm so happy that everything's really great!!

I was wondering if you could give an encouraging word to Daniel's mother at ?
I read your post and hers right after each other, and I somehow felt that maybe some of Micah's achievements despite his challenges might brighten her day? (Or I could be hopelessly wrong, just having put my foot in my mouth, I don't know. That's just what I felt after reading your posts...)

Susan said...

Your children are beautiful! I notice that Micah has right sided microtia/atresia. Has anyone ever talked to you about a BAHA softband hearing-aid for his type of hearing loss? I am a teacher for hearing-impaired children and often even their audiologist is not aware that this is available for young children:) Your family is amazing......

Susan from Boston