Day Three

Day three. Pretty similar to day two. I imagine most days are going to be quite similar.

Skype with aba in the morning, that made Tova's day.

Breakfast, dressed and handed Tova over to the class room. They must be nice to her in there because she is happy to go in. I do feel a bit worried about the hands but I have seen them carry the bucket with a jug and water for hand washing, so at least there is that.

Two kids are sick today. I have forbidden Tova to get sick. One has a temp and one was vomiting in the morning (no fever or anything, so it was probably just one of those things). The poor parents had to spend the day in their room. Poor kiddies. Everyone is hoping that no one else gets sick. There is nothing we can do now.. Just wait and see. This is the life of communal living. I am worried but am not going to stress too much about it as it won't achieve anything. Anyway, Tova won't get sick.  I have some pred with me in case.

At lunch time a chiropractor visited the camp. He comes every Wednesday. Tova and I had a session, it costs extra but is only $18 for Tova and a bit more for me.

I worked during the 4.5ish hours that Tova was in her therapy. I am also doing heaps of eating.. not much else to do while trapped in the middle of nowhere in cold Canada. It started raining today, it looks and smells absolutely beautiful outside. We are in the 'bush' so everything smells so fresh out there. And it is all misty, I guess because we are near the lake (the same lake that feeds into Niagra falls actually. It is a 15 min walk from here).

Tova was keen to do Hyperbaric today. I am not sure why as she spends most of the time trying to get out. She handles the sessions quite well. I think we are in there for about 1.5 hours a day. I am also pretty sure it is bad for my skin being in that pressurised cabin, something is making my skin very dry, and Tova's hair too. She looks quite funny with her space-girl helmet on in the chamber. We can't take photos, but I will try and get someone to take a pic through the window perhaps.

There isn't much else to say. We didn't go outside or anything today, it is too cold and wet. Bring on summer... Then back home to winter.. :-(

Here is a photo of some kids (not this group) doing Hyperbaric therapy. I just want to show anyone that is interested the super space girl helmet that Tova has to wear during the therapy. It is funny.


same same

Day Two

This morning I got up to my alarm at about 7ish. Yuval messaged me good morning. He really wanted to talk to Tova, but she was still sleeping. After a while I put the Ipad on Skype with the volume set to low, in the cot/crib/porta-cot with Tova. Yuval woke her and both their reactions were priceless. They are so in love. They did lots of songs together and were both lovely!

Then, breakfast, dressed and organised for the first part of the day. I passed her over to the therapists and ran away as fast as I could!

One of the other mums invited me to join her and her hubby to the shops in Picton. So, even though I have a mountain of work to do, I took them up on the offer as I need some food for my little Tova. I'm not really comfortable buying non free range chicken, but I feel that Tova needs some flavour so got some.. I did find some free range eggs thank goodness.. I think they were only $3 too for 12. So that is a bonus. The supermarket is very similar to ours but I don't recognise brands so it was a bit frustrating yet very entertaining at the same time. As I was going to the check out I realised that I had forgotten the pin number to the travel master card.... *sigh*.. ooops. So had to use an Aussie credit card..

Back to the camp to do some work for a few hours then Lunch with the kids. Tova was happy enough, so I guess she had a good morning in her class. The therapists said that Tova was upset a few times because she wanted to do her own thing and wans't allowed. That is fine and to be expected. The other kids were all happy and waiting for their parents and lunch. Tova is the smallest, eats the most and finishes before the other kids. Tova is the only one that doesn't chew. A few of the other kids need some form of help eating but really are very capable eaters of regular food. Come on Tova!!!

In the hyperbaric chamber at 2pm Tova was watching one of the other children eating one of those fruit roll up type things, Tova was fascinated. So hopefully she will continue to watch and eventually TRY some solid food, any food, I don't even care if she wants to live of maccas or chocolate. .. The chamber was boring and frustrating for Tova, but towards the end she started to play with a blocks type toy with her friend Little Miss K. I hope that behaviour continues. It is so nice to see them play so well together and Tova to play without me or another adult assisting her.

We went outside to play on the swings after that. It was nice to have some fresh air. Especially for Tova whom is on something like day 3 of no outside.. for no reason, just that she is so busy in here.

I made Tova a yummy dinner, then bath and bed. Not much to say really. She is tired. She is doing great.

This ability camp is for adults too. So there are a few adults wandering around and we all share the kitchen, which means we all get to talk. Everyone is lovely. There are people here for all sorts of brain injuries. It isn't really my business to talk about their stories, but wow, some people are amazing. And they aren't amazing for any out of this world reason, they are just amazing because they are and probably don't even know it. This entire camp is exceptional. The owner started it when his daughter was involved in this type of therapy growing up with CP, she is now married and has a new baby. The owner is generous and kind. I am quite overwhelmed by the kindness of the people here.
There are two dads here for the first week, then they go back home for work until the last week. They are both very helpful, not only with their own families, but with everyone. Today one of them did all the dishes for everyone and tidied up the entire massive kitchen. He is such a great guy, and their son is adorable, always happy and smiling and just a big bundle of cute.

ability camp canada

ability camp canada

Day One

Day one was fine. I have only one issue which I will talk about somewhere in this post.

The morning started at 8.30 after breakfast. Tova, the other kids and all the parents went to the 'class room'. We were shown the types of things the kids will be doing for the 5 hours a day over these 5 days a week.

The most interesting part of this is that Yuval and I had been inventing exercises with Tova over the past year or so. We have been doing these in the evening before bed (mostly Yuval recently as I have struggled to find the motivation). Things like doing the bridge, touching toes and so forth. Well, this therapy here is similar. I felt encouraged and grateful that Yuval and I have been open minded enough to figure these things out for ourselves mostly. We did have some small guidance from Bec, who was Tova's physio a while back, but Beck resigned and wandered off into another line of work the last I heard.

I was thankful that the day didn't go as slow as I expected, and I was very impressed with how Tova behaved and listened to instructions. She is amazing. I think school back at home has already had a very big impact on her. I feel bad that we are missing so much of this semester. But...

The therapy is good. The therapy is going to change Tova for sure, as Tova is so very motivated AND the therapists spend most of the time singing.. Tova is in her heaven. The therapists are all very nice too, which helps.

Things that I found a challenge are that all the kids are put on potties a couple of times during the 5 hours (that bit isn't' strange, that bit is good), but after 'toilet time' is over, they don't wash the kids hands. I was HORRIFIED and had to fight back tears. I really don't know what to do about this. It is so strange to not wash hands after going to the toilet I don't even know where to begin to think about what to say about this. How freaking revolting and strange. Of course I had to say something. They were very nice to me about it and have told me that they will wash the kids hands using a bucket and jug and won't put the kids hands in the dirty water. I don't understand why they don't' just wash their hands in the basin around the corner from the class room. So unusual and dangerous. I hope with all my heart and soul that Tova doesn't get sick, I can't even imagine how horrific it would be to have to go to hospital here, alone, so far from home. So yes, i am very scared about this. I also hate being the one that has a problem. It makes me so uncomfortable. But what can I do? It can be a matter of life and death if someone gets sick from gross stuff like gastro. gawd.. how strange. I just can't believe it.

So other than the no washing hands, which to me is actually HUGE, the therapy is good.

After therapy we had a break for half an hour then into the hyperbaric O2 therapy chamber. Tova was very interested in it all, she happily put on her collar thingy and came into the chamber. We drank heaps of water to stop our ears from hurting and then it was time to put the helmety thingy onto Tova. She let me.. She was ok. But she didn't like it. One of the other families was kind enough to provide Tova with a Winnie the pooh dvd as ours doesn't play on American players. So that was good, but Tova was too focused on the hood-helmet thing to get into the movie. Hyperbaric therapy is b  o  r  i  n  g for us adults, and for the kids too really. It goes for about 1.5 hours. Tova will have it once  a day during the week and twice a day on the weekends. If it does amazing things we will probably try to continue with it at home. There is a center in Toorak that does it.. with the toorak price...

Tova and I are pretty sick of each other. Tomorrow morning I hand Tova over at 8.30am and get her back at 12.45 or something (I can't remember the exact time). So when they told me I had 5 hours off a day, it wasn't true. But anyway. I will work around her and I have the electronic babysitter with me so I can work.

Everyone here is friendly and kind. Everyone has an accent. There are quite a few conversations about Coffee, which is fun as I am a new coffee drinker.

We miss our boys. I miss having a car.
We haven't even been outside today for one second. The gym is going to love me when I get home, or I am going to love it.. for sure.

I have been told about a cheese factory nearby.. YUM. They even have maple cheese.. I wonder if I can take that back to Aus.. I will google it..

Last night Tova was awake from about mid night to 4 am, but she was in good spirits all day and now put to bed and fast asleep by 6.30pm. I hope so much that we don't wake up tonight. It would be nice to be over jet lag..

I wish Tova's friend Taylah was here.. she would be amazingly helpful. The only thing is that I don't think the other mums would let me take her back home with me. If we come back I am going to find a way to bring Taylah. There are a few dads here for the first week, helping out.. it makes a huge difference having help. Especially for the Hyper chamber. So Taylah, get ready for a trip to Canada one day.. and just 1.5 hours of work a day! Pretty good deal right? Or come here now!

I cooked amazing food for the first few days, but tonight couldn't be bothered.  I have to go to the shops and get Tova some free range chicken n stuff.. Hopefully I can find soy yogurt too..

Very happy Tova on a swing in Ontario
Tova on the swing at ability camp canada

Getting to Camp

Ok. We made it.

The flights were all good.

Melb - Sydney was no problem, that is a quick flight.

Sydney - LA was long. Almost 13 hours. Tova was amazing. She ate, watched movies and slept. She didn't sleep much, at about 9.30pm Melbourne time she passed out on 2.5 chairs (we had 3 to ourselves). She slept for 5 hours.

When we first got on the plane the girl that was assigned the seat next to Tova took one look at where she was going to sit and looked horrified.. YAY!! haha. That was my plan. I was hoping that would happens so they would ask to be moved and we would get the three seats to ourselves.. and she did and we did.. It was great. She was all "oh no, but I want to sleep for this entire flight, I have to sleep for this entire flight... ".. haha. I said "oh yes, you don't want to sit here then".. I didn't want to tell her that Tova is non verbal, therefore QUIET.. haha. see ya lady!

We made friends with the 2 men in the seats in front of us. They were on their way to a crazy American road trip, and are quite possibly on the same plane home with us. I hope so, they were lovely. It would be fun to compare notes about our experiences over the 5 weeks. Josh and Cameron! Hi guys! I hope you are recovering well from the jet lag. I think Tova and I should be recovered by tomorrow. I hope.

I also slept little bits on the plane.. I think. My memory is a bit hazy now. We ate stuff, and shared the food we wouldn't eat with Cameron and Josh. It was almost like having Yuval and Nissim with me.. :-)

The flight attendants weren't very nice. Well, sometimes some of them were. It was a bit confusing actually. There were a couple of older flight attendants that looked like they were completely over working and that the flight was long and they were tired at the beginning of the flight. I heard one snap rudely at a passenger right at the start, even before we took off. I was thankful she wasn't on our isle.. But they wouldn't let me put the Growth Hormone anywhere cold. That was very disappointing. I don't know if it is damaged now. The cold packs were completely defrosted by the time we got to Toronto, but it was still coldish in the cold bag. I think the pressure in the plane made some leak. The bag is a bit wet (could be from the ice packs too), but also smells like that hormone. Yuk. AND when I gave Tova her injection last night, I had to do 6 clicks of air.. so perhaps 6 days worth of hormone leaked? I don't know.. well I am still going to give it to her. I just hope that it isn't damaged. It was such a big decision to even give it to her in the first place. I don't think there will be any left to keep cold on the flight home, so I may not have to worry about that.
So, I am pretty unhappy with the flight about that.

We got off at LA. We had to collect all our bags and pass through customs. That was a bunch of lines and waiting. But we had fast track cards because we were connecting flights, so we were in the quick lines.. they were still very slow. Tova did well. Nothing much happened, I was asked a bunch of standard questions, got finger prints scanned and photo taken. We check our bags back in and went on our way to find our next flight. We had to go back through security checks to get to our next gate. A security person noticed me with the pram (my pram was given to me almost the second I got off the plane, NICE!) and ushered me off to a special very short line (that still took ages). I was looking all worried and probably quite horrendous by that stage, the people in the line behind me were lovely and told me I had heaps of time and didn't need to worry. That was nice.
I took my shoes off, which also felt nice, as everyone else had theirs off and eventually Tova and I went through the security scanner. I think it is full body xray in U.S. Anyway, we went through uneventfully and found our way with help from everyone we asked to our Gate. Near our gate there was a charging booth. So Tova and I sat next to that and she watched her pooh Dvd for an hour.

The DVD player only lasted for a few hours on the flight from Sydney. It was the only thing Tova really wanted to watch. The movies that I had purchased on Itunes the other day and set up on the ipads didn't actually load onto the ipads, so they couldn't be watched. It was very stressful! That is something I have to fix up for the flight home.

LA-Huston Texas. Another flight. I was pretty fragile by then. Tova not so much. I don't understand, she was amazing for the flight to LA (except just before she passed out at 930pm on the plane, she cried then, but she was just tired). Then she was amazing in transit, amazing on this next flight. No fussing, no crying. She was a little annoyed she couldn't want her DVD player, but really, she was just so angelic.
The lady sitting next to us asked me where we were going and all that, and when she asked me if I had any other children, I almost burst into tears. I was so fragile. When I asked her for her story, she told me she was going to her best friends funeral.. Fabulous. We were the pity party seats at the back of the plane and we had a laugh about that.. That flight was pretty quick, I think 3 hours. I'm not sure.

When we landed we had to find our next plane. The staff were NOT helpful. I walked off wondering where the f I had to go. I found a board with the flights and gates. I found where we had to be, but had no idea how to get there.
I asked someone that looked like staff walking along near me. WHAT A LOVELY GUY! He re read the boards for me, to ensure I was correct, told me I had to catch a train and noticed my freaked out look. He took my bag ( we had no pram this time so I was carrying Tova) and took me to the train, he got on the train with me and walked me right up to the front of the gate.. I then realised that in America people tip.. omg, I had no money.. I hope he knows how much I appreciated his help.

Texas-Toronto. Teeny tiny plane. I think it was a 40 seater. Tova was again amazing. No fussing about anything other than the fact that I couldn't let her watch the DVD player. We made friends with the guy in the seats on the other side of the isle. He was good to talk to. Tova liked watching me talk to him too. So that was entertaining for a while. At one stage I looked over and the Tova as asleep. So cute. She slept for about an hour. The flight attendants on this plane were lovely. Perhaps because it was such a small plane.

We arrived in Canada. I was pretty emotional by now. Tova not, she was happy and cute. I thought that I could burst into tears at any stage. I am not even sure why. I was very tired and worried that I have made the wrong decision about going to Canada and spending so much money and missing the boys.. My beautiful boys.
Customs here in Canada was a little bit more eventful. I had collected all our bags and walked up to the customs dude. He asked me the normal questions and then asked me what I was doing in Canada for 5 weeks. I said "holiday".

Customs "where are you staying"

Me "near picton, I don't know the address...."

Customs "Who with?"

Me "Kevin someone, omg I can't remember his last name".

customs looking very surprised and physically jumped "What?"

Me "the place is called Ability camp".

Customs "do you have a letter from your husband saying you can bring your child into Canada?"

Me: "what the... a what? No, but I have her birth certificate, my marriage certificate and a letter from the camp"

Customs "you do understand why I am asking you right?"

Oh my goodness, I looked like one of those people on the TV shows about border security. It was pretty funny and not so funny at the same time. In the end the customs guy was really lovely and helpful. He did have a few odd things to say about children with special needs, but only had good intentions.. so all good.

We made our way with all our bags out into the freezing cold air and waited for the shuttle bus to the hotel. It arrived after about 15 mins and took us to the hotel. We slept. I slept very badly because I was sharing the bed with Tova and even though she is small, she seems to take up the entire bed. I will attach a photo of how she was sleeping, which shows how much room I had next to her. So, we went to bed at about 1.30am Toronto time. I woke up to my alarm at about 9am. I ate chocolate to give me a sugar rush. Tova wouldn't wake up. Even with the tv on, music on and curtains open so the room was light, she was just totally out. I had to wake her at 10.50 so we could get downstairs and meet our ride at 11am.

We were picked up at 11am by a friend of the Camp. He drove us via Walmart to the Camp. It took something like 3 hours. Walmart was like Kmart, but had a food section. No free range eggs, no free range meats. BUT $17kg fresh Salmon. I got $22 worth. YUMMMMM.. I don't think much of food from Walmart, so I will try and find a better shop next week when we need more food.

Apparently there is a farm down the road from this camp that sells farm fresh eggs, so we will buy them.

Last night Tova went to bed at 7.30 and went to sleep almost straight away, in my bed. I went to bed at 10ish and would have slept through perhaps if a Tova didn't wake me at mid night. She couldn't sleep, we got up, I fed her a banana and gave her a drink. Then I set up the portacot and put her in it. I listened to her cry for a while then I guess we both fell asleep. UM, we woke at mid day!

When we arrived yesterday, we were the only ones here. Everyone has arrived now. There are going to be something like 5 other families and 3 adults. The adults are in different sessions and only one is staying here, the others will come for their sessions and then go where ever it is they live or are staying. The adult that is staying here is lovely! She is with her mum, they are both lovely. Nice to talk to and friendly.

Tova has made friends with a little boy and his big brother. The big brother is great, he is about 12 years old and really polite. Tova likes them both. The little brother is here for therapy too.

So, I haven't met everyone yet. All the other families have been here before, one even 5 times. I need to win the lotto if we are going to have to keep coming back.

Sessions start for Tova tomorrow at 8.30am. I have to join in with her for the day tomorrow. I am not sure how I will cope with that. 5 more hours of Tova and Ima time. I hate therapy, I really find it boring and I struggle. But then for the rest of the time she is with them for 5 hours a day 5 days a week! woohoo. .

Tonight is going to be interesting. We have only been awake for 7 or so hours. So even though it is bed time, it isn't. Maybe I will put Tova to bed at 8.30 and see what happens.

It is so confusing. At least there is the baby jail to put her in so I don't get crawled all over during the night, and she doesn't fall off the bed.

That is that for now.

Oh, two things I forgot to mention. First when we woke up in Toronto the first morning, it was snowing! Not impressed! The second thing that is quite astounding is that on the way to the camp the guy driving us stopped for coffee. I got a coffee for me and wholemeal carrot muffin for Tova. The cost of those two things together was...... $2.60. Amazingly good! So, if we were actually staying somewhere close to shops, Tova and I would be living off Coffee and muffins.. Lucky we aren't. The coffee isn't very good, Tom or Tim something is the name of the cafe chain.. not that I know anything much about coffee..

Ability Camp Inc.

In 2011 I found this:

I have been receiving their emails for the past few years and kept it in the back of my mind as something that Tova could benefit from.

BUT It always seemed so expensive and so far away.

Their last newsletter stated the amazing specials they were offering for their April Sessions. So Yuval and I had a talk about it, and yesterday we purchased a ticket for Tova and I.

We leave on Friday, yes in 8 days.

Ummm, I would have to say that I am not at all organised. But what do I need to sort out? I need to pack clothes. I need to organise carry on luggage. I need to print tickets and that's pretty much it. All I really need is money, tickets and passports.
I must be forgetting something.