Before leaving America I found out that you can sometimes pick up cheap tickets to go and see The St Louis Cardinals, the town’s baseball team play.
I went down to the ground last Monday and picked up some $10 tickets for the 7pm fixture against the LA Dodgers.
Chatting to people near us as I tried to figure out the rules everyone quickly realised we weren’t locals – and when they knew we were from London they were excited about the Olympics being in our home town.
By chance, one of them was a guy whose child had craniosynostosis – where the plates of a child’s skull fuse too early causing a brain injury and frequently cerebral palsy.
His son had had surgery at the same hospital as Rhys and he told me how the surgeons there have pioneered a new, less invasive technique to separate the plates. It means the child only needs one round of surgery instead of the repeated operations to divide the plates using the old method.
It was another reminder of the genuinely remarkable things the surgeons at the children’s hospital are achieving.
As the match got underway the temperature was still in the ‘triple digits’ and it was clear that the boys were going to melt before too long.
They managed to last about half of the game which was fine – it was a nice thing to have been able to do before we travelled home.
As we came back through Heathrow airport on Thursday it was a moment to think about where Rhys is at. A few weeks ago I’d hoped that Rhys would be back to himself before we boarded the plane. Now though, achieving parity doesn’t feel enough (it’s that thing about progress again) but you can see some clear changes in him. His posture is better, he’s more upright and he’s standing and walking with flatter feet.
What’s also now clear is that his old pattern of walking (in toeing & tip toeing) is going to take a bit of time to revise. Having walked like that for 2 1/2 years it’s not going to disappear over night – though it has improved. What the physio’s call ‘the motor plan’ is going to need to be re learned over the coming months which means lots of physio sessions.
I guess what he really does have now is potential. His legs are much softer than before, he has greater control over them and he has greater range of movement. Maximising that potential will take time. It’s one of those ‘get out of it what you put in’ situations.
Coming home to the start of the Olympics feels very apt. I’m taking Rhys to the Paralympic Games in September and I hope that as he grows up he’ll remember them. I’m not assuming that Rhys will want to do that or that he’ll be any good at sport (he’d much rather be a singer right now anyway) but why shouldn’t that be within the realms of the possible for him?
Having watched the opening ceremony over the weekend the games motto of striving to be ‘Higher, Faster, Stronger’ couldn’t be more appropriate right now.