The past months have been industrious since Amy’s move to The Marillac in Brentwood, during the early part of the year. She settled into her new environment quickly and well, all staff there being extremely welcoming, kind and encompassing from the moment of arrival, not only to Amy and her family but to the stream of loyal and lovely friends who visit and entertain Amy with their sense of fun and their circuits around the grounds and corridors of the Brentwood facility. The staff are receptive to having enjoyable and entertaining activities going on, from bringing in the PAT dog Bunty (Pets As Therapy) to visit, to agreeing to welcome in the band ‘You Little Thief’ who came along and played one Saturday afternoon for over an hour for Amy, for the rest of the residents and for as many staff who could work their shift to be there to watch. It was a memorable, uplifting and moving afternoon. Louise and Steph, care staff from The Marillac have taken Amy out for a ‘girlie shop’ at Lakeside twice, returning with plenty of shopping bags.
Most importantly, Amy’s move closer to home has allowed her to fully undertake the various intensive therapies will enable her to forward her progression. Each session that she undertakes she clearly not only enjoys but engages fully with her therapists and the tasks set. Nigel Kimpton of Benfleet Physiotherapy Clinic is leading Amy’s physiotherapy programme. Four times weekly she is fully engaged with a schedule of exercises and intensive stretching of both her lower and upper limbs. Her head control continues to improve, now allowing periods during the day when the head rest on Amy’s wheelchair can be removed. Sessions upon the Tilt Table lasting from 45 minutes to an hour each time are a regular part of her visit. Increasingly upright degrees are activated with supports on the chest, hip and knee areas, this allow Amy’s body weight to be equally distributed and her blood pressure to adjust, her choice of music is playing whilst treatment is going on and she will join in with the singing. Occasionally as a treat – or maybe as a bribe after a hard working Friday session, a few spoonful’s of ice cream or coffee are enjoyed. All great therapy! Weekly, Amy enjoys a Hydrotherapy session, the good acoustics in the pool area allowing her to be extremely and very loudly vocal!
In July Amy was treated at a specialist clinic at St.Thomas’ Hospital as an overnight patient where she received an intensive Botox administration. This treatment will be repeated at three monthly intervals by Dr.Julian Harriss and will allow Amy to maximise even more the physiotherapy that she is receiving. When a person has received a brain injury it creates a tonal pattern which greatly increases stiffness and spasticity. Botox allows the muscles to relax a little so therefore enhancing the benefit of the exercise and stretches which take place afterwards.
Prior to her session with Dr Harriss she was visibly distressed by the anticipation of the procedure, having experienced this twice before at other venues, but the day passed with no upset at all due to the kindness, skill and expertise shown by the team treating her. This bodes well as the quarterly sessions will soon come around.
Dr.Sylvia Taylor-Goh is Amy’s speech and Language therapist whom she sees twice weekly. Her vital role in Amy’s development takes many forms. Sylvia has worked intensely on Amy’s tongue and oral movements, these actions imperative to allow communication and drinking and eating to progress. Amy’s swallow, an automatic function which we all take completely for granted has improved immensely. Swallowing allows us all to take liquids and food and to communicate with ease, in short so many actions that we all take for granted each and every minute of both our waking and sleeping life. It is a year since Amy had her tracheostomy removed – a process which was doubted by some medical professionals would ever take place. Since then, Amy has progressed from taking tiny sips of fluid from a teaspoon to now daily managing and enjoying a ramekin of emulsified food that Sue has herself prepared and is happy to help Amy to savour.
Amy has recently been fitted with electrodes to be placed on her face and throat which are to be used daily to assist and strengthen her swallow. Amy is clearly comprehending and is trying very hard to respond to conversation, and whilst at present her words are not clear the gist of her responses are understandable. This is a massive progression.
The therapists now engaged for Amy’s rehabilitation have without exception been key to the progression and development that she is making. The very intensive therapy that Amy is experiencing is all undertaken within the private sector and is being funded entirely by the wonderful support that is being made to the Amy May Trust.
As we have learned from the professionals that have been employed to help Amy to progress in all areas, the journey from a brain injury is very long and arduous, but each tiny development is to be celebrated and appreciated
Other changes that being nearer to home have allowed is a social aspect outside of The Marillac. The enjoyable visits to her parents home being one of the most special. Very welcome hours spent in a relaxed environment where Amy can be in surroundings that are familiar and are quite simply ‘just home’. It’s where she can catch up with her animals and where when the summer weather permits sit in the garden and enjoy the sunshine. A couple of weeks back Sue and Roger surprised her friend Kelly by bringing Amy along unexpectedly to her birthday BBQ. A memorable day was had by all. Back at the end of April, Amy and 5 friends joined family in a box at Southend United Football Club, to join the atmosphere at one of the busiest matches of the season. In July, Amy visited a fundraising tea party organised at the home of her aunt, where she was the most welcome of all the guests.
This Saturday is a most special day for two dear friends of Amy, Emma and John. It is their wedding day. This weekend a long promised commitment will be fulfilled when Amy along with Kelly will be their bridesmaid.
Two years ago this may have seemed unimaginable, but with commitment, hard work and tenacity, along with love and a strong and willing spirit – it is happening. Tissues at the ready, photos to come!