Katie had two days to recover followed by two days of tests. She was a real trouper. She never complained from the moment she woke up from her surgery.
Arf did his job well. He alternately comforted her and made her laugh with his antics. He also had passed the test and got to sleep in Katie’s room at night. The only time he left her was when Sam took him for short walks outside. Arf couldn’t wait until he and Katie could start training together. He was really excited about helping her learn to walk.
Steve was more than a little nervous as he made his way to Dr. Philip’s office. Both doctors would be there. He hoped he could remember all of his questions.
“Hello Steve, thank you for coming. Please have a seat ,” Dr Philip’s said. “We won’t wait for Dr. Jones to arrive. I know how anxious you must be to learn the results of Katie’s tests.”
“Please go on.” Steve hoped he was prepared for whatever he was about to hear.
“I will start by saying that Katie’s condition is a puzzle to us. I know she was just an infant when she was thought to have polio. Am I right to assume that the diagnosis has never been questioned by any other physicians?”
“Katie had the same pediatrician for years. He was the one who made the diagnosis, and no, we…I should say I, didn’t question it. That doctor recently retired and when I took Katie to the new doctor for her yearly exam, he suggested I bring her here.”
“I see.” Doctor Philips was reviewing one of Katie’s tests. “The first thing we did was check Katie’s spine and there appeared to be very little nerve damage. Also, her legs, although she most definitely cannot walk, seem to have gained some muscle strength over the years. Does she engage in some sort of physical activity that would involve her legs? Swimming for instance.”
“I have never seen Katie move her legs,” Steve answered. “We tried braces when she became old enough, but we gave up after it became apparent she wouldn’t be helped by them.”
“She seems like an otherwise determined young lady. Although I’m sure she suffered from a virus that damaged her spine to some degree, there is no physical reason that with a lot of hard work, Katie can’t learn to walk.”
Steve didn’t know how to feel about what he had just learned. Had his little girl lived in a wheelchair all of these years when she was capable of walking? He could feel the tears sting his eyes. He should have known. Afterall, he was her father.
Doctor Philips could read the expression on Jack’s face.
“Don’t blame yourself. You’re a wonderful father, Steve. It was a reasonable conclusion for a doctor to reach back then. Dr. Jones and I were convinced it was another polio like virus that caused her paralysis. The important thing now is to establish where we go from here? I would like to keep Katie and her therapy dog here for one more week.” Doctor Philips went on. “They seem to be a great team and I want Sam to have a few days to work with both of them before Katie goes home. In addition, we will see her for one week out of each month.”
The next morning, Sam and a nurse went to Katie’s room. They decided that some fun along with their training was in order.
“Come on Arf. Are you ready to rock and roll?
***I remembered the command and balanced on my back legs in front of Katie.
“Come on, Katie. Arf is asking you to dance. Take his paws and he’ll show you how it’s done. Nurse Smith, do we have some rock and roll music?”
***When the music started, Katie reached out for my paws and I danced… first pushing her arms back and forth and then carefully picking up one of her feet at a time. Lifting and lowering them five times each.
“Arf could use your help, Katie. His tongue is hanging out. We’ll have to work to even this out,” Sam said.
Katie was laughing and Arf was loving the entertainment he was helping to provide for her. He had practiced with Sam and he knew he must let Katie try to push. “Just prompt her to try,” Sam had said. And then he said the magic words. “Katie needs you.”