Usually during therapy time they prefer parents not be there. Neil needs to focus on the task at hand. Today, he worked on the treadmill and they needed an extra hand, so I stepped in. I've somewhat described the process before. Neil is secured with a harness as he walks so that he can't fall and injure himself. One therapist stands behind him and holds his hips even. Another one sits on the floor and helps his left leg move correctly. I get to stand in front of him and keep him looking forward. Right away, Neil noticed the big red emergency shut-off button on the control panel. As soon as it caught his attention, he wanted to push it. That gave me another job--standing in front of the button so he couldn't see it. But he knew it was there. After just a few minutes of a pretty intense work-out, his short attention span and his fatigue got the best of him. Neil wanted off. "Stop," he said to me several times, knowing I had the button close by. I encouraged him to keep going, extolling the virtues of hard work and exercise. He wasn't buying it. He asked me to push the button. He tried to pull me out of the way so he could. I tried to change his focus.
"Every time you want to say, 'stop,' say 'I can do it' instead," I told him.
He said, "you can do it."
"No, I'm talking about you. You can do it."
"I can push the button," he said.
"No, you can walk. You can work hard. You can get better."
Then he told me to sit down. And no, it wasn't because he thought I might be tired.
After ten minutes, the PTs let him sit down to rest and cool down. He admitted he was proud of himself for sticking it out and said he understood how important it was for him to work hard to build up his strength.
When we began round two of the walking cycle, it didn't take long for him to forget our little discussion and he was ready to quit again. "Stop it," he said again. When I tried to encourage him, he just said, "Please stop." Okay, now I was feeling pretty bad, but I knew he could do this. He'd shown he had endurance before. When he could see I wasn't budging, he gave me a very earnest look and offered, "I'll give you five bucks!"
I honestly don't know if he was kidding or not. I laughed it off and told him his health was more important to me than his money, but I think he was serious. Just goes to show you how hard this job is for him. It's hard for us, too. I'm glad we can find occasional moments to chuckle ;-)