Spike checked out of the Cleveland Clinic with a clean bill of health this afternoon.
It sure felt good to type that sentence!
As expected, his departure was delayed for several hours by the usual administrative issues so we hit the road late, knowing we would not make it home to North Carolina in one day. The drive takes about ten hours and that can be a challenge with just about any four year old.
Yeah, well the new Spike is not "any four year old." All the way through Ohio and into West Virginia, he simply sat quietly either looking out the window or playing with his iPad or an iPhone. No complaints, no hyperactive movement - just a great little boy.
Stopping just outside Parkersburg, WV, we found that Spike is now able to walk unassisted. He is still a bit unstable and we hold him at all times but we do not support him - he does it all himself. He has also found his voice again and was chattering happily while eating dinner. His sense of humor was on full display and he just seemed as happy as could be.
Over the past week, we have gotten used to his rather dramatic surgical scar. However, tonight was the first time that he saw himself in a mirror and he was surprised and perhaps a bit worried about it. I told him that the scar marked where the doctor performed the operation and that it would fade quite a bit in the next couple weeks. I then told him, and I believe this from my heart, that he should always be proud of the scar as it shows just how brave and how tough he was when he still just a little boy. He seemed happier after thinking about that. It's great to once again see that smile just creep onto his face as he thinks through something.
We've all played the game : how many things can you see in this picture. Time to try it out with the latest picture of Spike.
1. That's not a hospital bed he's sitting in
2. He's sitting unsupported
3. There are no wires or tubes anywhere
4. His hair is growing back
5. That's not a hospital gown he's wearing
6. He is focused
7. His left hand is gripping the iPad
The left hand grip is a big deal. The poor little guy could not properly grip the iPad in the car so he had to prop it up and try to control everything with his right hand. That's tough to do while playing fast paced video games.
Fortunately, he is regaining more function and coordination every hour. I mentioned him walking earlier. That demonstrates both strength and coordination on the disadvantaged left side. At dinner tonight, we challenged him to pick up grapes with his left hand. That's a fairly complex maneuver and he had to concentrate intensely but he did it. With each subsequent grape, the task became noticeably easier. The grip on the iPad in the picture came naturally to him, without any coaxing. Hugely encouraging.
Before leaving the hospital, I sat quietly with him on the bed and played Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home" on the phone. He listened while staring off into the distance, obviously thinking about something. When I asked him if he wanted to go home to North Carolina or to Chicago, he finally looked at me and said, "California."
"Why California, Spike?"
"That's where grandma and grandpa are. I think they need to see me now."
And they will, Spike. Grandma and grandpa are headed East for the best Thanksgiving any of us could ever imagine.