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.

10 thoughts on “Potential

  1. Rhys you are a fabulous little boy who has come so far! Keep going with all the good work. love Alex xoxoxo

  2. Welcome home all. Great to see Rhys doing so well we know you working together will maximize his potential. Gareth your reports were inspirational and we all looked forward to receiving them. Lots of love to you all.

  3. Your blogs have been amazing and taken us along Rhys’s journey almost as if we were there with you. All the very best to all of you from all of us, Halesowen Labour. xxx

  4. Wow ! What a journey you have been on since we all met. You have been amazing Gareth and your blogs truly inspirational. Rhys is a wonderful, determined little boy who has progressed so well with the support of his wonderful family. Would be lovely to see you all when you can pop in.
    lots of love to you all xx

  5. Dear Sally, Gareth, Rhys and owen,
    WELCOME HOME. Its great to have you home – and just in time for the Olympics.
    The progress that Rhys has made has been absolutely amazing and it’s been great to keep up with it, via all your blogs. We hope to come and see you soon – and perhaps the football that we left with Marion will inspire Rhys to start kicking again. Love Anne and Portland Bill xx

  6. Welcome home Family Heal! Wow, what a journey you guys have been on and as a couple of others have said, I feel like I’ve been on part of it with you. No doubt you’ll start to see the time go quicker now you’re in a less focused environment and maybe you’ll start to see that progress speeding up. It’s like a watched kettle where you’ve been and the boiling just doesn’t happen fast enough but now you’re here, on your homeland, I’ve no doubt that kettle will boil a whole lot sooner! Saying that though, these things do take time, to think where Joy was 5 years ago and to see her now, on the eve of her 8th birthday, she’s a different girl. Maturity seems to play a good part in how someone handles cerebral palsy I think (and weekly trampolining, physio, swimming, wii fit, wii dance etc etc!). Not to say at ‘8’ that she’s mature!!! Farrrrrrrr from it! Anyway, really hope to see you guys soon. Big big love xxxxxx

  7. Hiya! Just thought i would let you know, especially Rhys, that I have been listening to Katy Perry on the radio lots today – the song Wide Awake was played most! Excellent taste in music Rhys! Everytime I hear any Katy perry song I think of you! You have done so amazingly well – keep it up! Go Katy Perry! lots of love to you all Alex xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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