Most days, we totally forget that we're the parents of a special needs, developmentally challenged child. It even takes some effort to remember that something horrible happened to this little girl. But a recent doctor visit stirred up latent sadness.
Allie's doctor, the one who supervises the physical therapy unit, comes up from the San Fransisco area every six months to meet with patients and their families here in the remote Redwoods region. During his visit on Thursday, he expressed grave concern for Allie because she has been so slow to sit or crawl. He ended the appointment early so I could take Allie to have her hips x-rayed. The x-rays show that her hips are severely turned. One side is worse than the other, but the doctor is concerned that Allie may not be able to walk without a series of surgeries.
Here's the thing I've learned about the way a child develops: a child is not born with hips fully formed. The child's hips finish forming as the she grows and walks. In Allie's case, her brain injury has prevented proper use of her hips and legs and, thus, her hips are growing in a way that is not useful, in fact, could become painful. "Use it or lose it" definitely applies when it comes to proper child development and growth.
I told my dad this news. The cool thing about my dad is that ever since I was a little kid he's always encouraged me to look for the up-side in bad news. As he tried with this news, he couldn't. He said with emotion straining his voice, "I'm sorry, son, I can't think of the up-side."
I said, "Dad, Allie is the up-side."