Yesterday afternoon we had Joshua’s first appointment with Occupational Therapy, a week after he had botox injections in his arm. I was relaxed about the appointment and collected the happy boy from school at 2pm, driving him through to the hospital. When we arrived at the ‘Therapies Centre’ Joshua got excited when he heard me ask for O.T and he asked for ‘tea?’ , thinking that I had brought him out for something nice to eat. But how wrong he was….
The therapist took his cast off , that had been on since last Monday and it revealed his thin, pale arm beneath. She decided to make a ‘resting splint’ so that his muscles and tendons were under a constant stretch. As she stretched his arm out to see how far it would go, he told her off ‘No, no, no’ booming out in his deep voice. She carried on, as was her job to be fair, so he progressed to his next level of protest which was ‘no, no, no’ with a finger pointing at her, right in her face so there was no mistaking who he was talking to. Then, she apologised but continued to wrap warm molten plastic around his arm.
Actually what happened next was unprecedented and really took me aback : a really pained expression came over his face and then he shed a single tear. Now that may not sound like much, but put this in context of a boy who has not cried since he was a toddler. Devastatingly, when his epilepsy was at its worst, his seizures threw him across rooms and he cut his head open several times and split his chin on a china public toilet as he was thrown face down into it. On none of these occasions did he cry,there were even no tears after his brain surgery in 2014. Now to see my brave, dry-eyed boy weep, shocked me and I found myself hugging and reassuring him as best I could, but it made me cry too at my helplessness.
And of course I quizzed the OT and she explained that it would not hurt as such, but feel uncomfortable, as they were stretching muscles and tendons that had not been worked for a long time, so it was like when we strain a muscle that we do not normally use. Though I listened, I am sorry, but I do not believe that is all it felt like to Joshua, to generate a tear. And so what really made me cry was initially the shock. But then the overwhelming sadness that he could not express himself, could not tell me what it felt like. Likewise, he had tried his best with the only words at his disposal ‘no’, but had been ignored – it may well have been sheer frustration that made him weep.
Eventually,we both recovered ourselves of course and resumed our laid back facade – he was soon flirting with another therpaist in the room but one who had not hurt him – but my real disappointment that Joshua can no longer express himself, is always with me. I love words and language, and cannot imagine not being able to express myself or tell people how I feel.