Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Boy's Back in Town

Tom and Kaz enjoy open motoring in an English winter

Somebody seems to have slipped nearly a year past while I was looking away.

The world looks very different from the way it did in June. Back then, the laptop you'd bought for a fortune was worth 30p two months later. Now that's true of your house. A four-bed detached house is about fifty quid, but you can't buy it because you put yours up for sale back when people still had jobs. Nobody wants it anyway, because the rolling fields that provided a fecund outlook from your front window have been replaced by a new housing estate. Those houses are unaccountably going for half a million, despite having Growbags instead of gardens.

But you want to know about Tom, don't you? I know you do, because of the bollockings I've been getting by e-mail.

Tom's house doesn't have downstairs facilities. Fortunately it has a 30ft garage, so plans were laid for converting it into a bedroom and en-suite bathroom so that he could go home and start the process of building a life.

The expense was to be met by Social Services. Great news, except for Catch-22. They wouldn't schedule the conversion until Tom went home. And he couldn't go home until the work was done. Our wonderful welfare state once again demonstrates the rules that make all such schemes so much worthless window-dressing.

So we started the job ourselves. How hard could it be? Tom's brothers, Daniel and Adam, and I were the core team. Based on known abilities with Lego, Plasticene and embroidery (strange chap, Daniel) we set to work.

In November, just under a year after his operation, Tom returned home to a room that's still standing, and a bathroom that's still working. We've had tremendous help from a host of great people, but I still get a big kick every time I walk into the place. From Tom. You'd think he'd be more grateful.

Tom never stops getting better. He's noticeably recovering his balance and posture (the cerebellum is principally responsible for these two factors). His daily walking exercises now involve a Zimmer frame with minimal support from helpers.

One breakthrough in Tom's recovery has come from the Bobath therapy supplied by Manchester Neurotherapy Clinic. Anyone who needs a miracle would do well to investigate these guys. Before Tom's first visit, walking required the full support of three physios. Within an hour, Lynne Fletcher had him walking across the room with nothing more than steadying from her alone.

Meanwhile Tom's speech therapist, Barbara Molteno, continues to bring more coherence to Tom's talking and writing. He can now speak at more or less normal speed, but slowing down a little brings clarity, and we're starting to hear his old voice reappearing.

Tom's never lost focus on where he's going. He works without let-up on beating what could have been an appalling level of disability. And it's working.

He's going to get it all back because, in his own words, "This is unacceptable".