I've spent so much more time emphasizing what has gone wrong and the negatives since surgery, it's time to share the wonderful changes we've seen.
First his smiles...I cannot get enough. I keep taking photo after photo after photo! There are never enough smiley photos for me. Before surgery, I was lucky to get a real smile (not seizure associated) very seldom. VERY seldom. A vibrant smile where he's not only smiling with his mouth, but his eyes too.
And that LAUGH! Oh my goodness. I don't think many people even knew what an Austin laugh sounded like. They were extremely rare. I'd get giggles or chuckles from time to time and the very very occasional belly laugh. Always short-lived though. Now? I hear them ALL THE TIME! A silly face or sound is enough to get him in stitches. Absolutely amazing!
The walk. I didn't fully realize until just this weekend (exactly one month after surgery to be exact) just how much his walking/balance has improved. We were extra cautious with his free walking (putting the helmet over his incision and of course because of the seizures), so we were walking him by hand this whole time. Even then I knew there was improvement because it was so much easier. Instead of dragging his feet, hanging, and wobbling all over killing my back, he just walked. Like a feather. Also, before surgery, he'd run back and forth across his playroom with his head down making noises and balance was so bad. Tripping, stumbling, and just generally wobbly. It's like a night and day difference. He walks with his head up looking for things to explore. The video I shot doesn't do him justice. I think he's over stimulated in his playroom now (I need to get cleaning some of that stuff out), but it's the only place I felt comfortable letting him go without being right beside him (so I could hold the camera). Typically, he likes to stay out of there and likes to take his time walking and looking around. Like a different child, I swear. I think the improved balance has also made the difference in climbing on the couch too. He started doing that late Oct or early Nov. It was difficult for him though and he actually quit doing it altogether before surgery. He doesn't have an overwhelming desire to get on the couch most times, but I can put something he wants up there and he climbs with ease up to get it.
Then there's the attention span. Devon, you can vouch for this. Unless he was mouthing a hand held toy, he would give something 10-30 seconds..tops. He had very little interest in anything anymore. He may try to work it briefly, but then he was up ready to move. He has puzzles that we couldn't get him to finish. Now, he can sit there and take every piece out. And that Leap Frog barn toy. I cannot count the time he's spent playing with that thing. I'm not kidding when I say he can sit there completely content playing with it for 10-15 minutes. MINUTES!!! Probably longer if I could handle it. It has removable magnets and a push button chicken that plays music. He first started just trying to take out the magnets. Then he'd rub it over and over (typical pre-surgery Austin move). Then, just like he always knew, he started pushing the chicken instead of rubbing it. Now he pushes it with one finger. I think we've been working on that for over TWO YEARS! He's done it before, but I don't think it was intentional. There's absolutely no doubt now. Trust me, he does it over and over. And over! And just to test out the consistency, I've introduced other toys with push buttons. He's not quite as interested in that many other ones, but his new skill is consistent. And the barn toy has found a rival...the steering wheel (although not quite as pleasant to listen to -lol).
Let's not forget the increased vocalization. Seems like every week he takes on a new persona. One week he was affectionately called Goat Boy for his crazy goat sounds. He's been the emphysema patient (he'd cough to get our attention and to tell us "no"). He was the gasper last week -thank goodness that one's played out! It sounded like he was gasping for air and he'd do it over and over. I even took him to his pedi. You should have seen some of the looks I'd get when we went out. Imagine a kid laughing really hard and trying to catch his breath with a loud gasp (only subract the laughing). He wasn't used to laughing so much, it was like a new sound. A new sound that he wanted to experiment again and again and again. lol Laugh or no laugh, the sound just stuck. He was my hummingbird -humming all day it seemed at times. And here lately, he's the snob. His "emphysema" has been refined into an arrogant sounding "A-heeem" or "A-hmmm" or "A-huuuum" (with just the right amount of snobby undertone). It's not just the new experimentation of noises but the increased vocalization to express himself as well. He cries when he doesn't get his way (and he definitely knows what he wants and doesn't want by the way). If I'm walking him by hand and steer him in a direction other than what he wants, crying. If I put away his barn toy, crying. If I steer him away from his barn toy, crying. If I offer him a sippy and he doesn't want it, crying. If I give him peas on his tray without grilled cheese, crying. As terrible as it sounds to be applauding crying...it's not. I'm just happy to get his opinion and I can deal with the fits. :)