Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The wonderful things about visits

"A room with a view, an office with some sun"

Influenced by the weather

I was feeling a bit under-the-weather this morning. Added to that I was, I admit, just a little disappointed by the fact that the client who should come at nine o’clock for his individual speech programme was also under-the-weather and wouldn’t be coming. We had planned to start a speech programme but due to the weather, either being under it or snowed in by it, the first three of our six planned early-morning sessions have had to be cancelled.

I am convinced that, with lots of encouragement and hard work, both together in the group and with the extra individual sessions, we can greatly improve the communication abilities of this client. But we are hitting a wall called winter. Along with winter come a selection of “free gifts”: coughs and colds and travel problems.

We hope for better weather and a clean bill of health on Thursday.

I trudged through the greying snow and along icy pathways to work. I must admit I would have enjoyed another cosy hour in bed but I tried to breath in lots of fresh air and get myself in the mood to put on some of my different hats for the day.

We were expecting visitors to the stroke group

Visitors, now this is something very interesting to experience in my stroke group these days.

Several years ago, when the average age of the group was ten to fifteen years older than it is now, whenever possible I had to start preparing the group for a visit several weeks beforehand. They were very nervous when strangers were about and the spasticity in their limbs increased manyfold. This has changed with the changes in the group. The group has got younger and the reactions to guests has changed too. They now love having visitors.

This in turn makes it all a lot more relaxed for me, and I love having visitors too. Almost as much as I love having students or young conductors to teach.

I have often thought about what it is about the visitors that makes the group so different. I think that I hit this on the head today. The group like the visitors being there as they love to hear again and again from me why we do certain things, how we rediscover tricks to make movements easier and learn all about conductive living and upbringing.

They don’t ask me much when we are alone, I try to explain as much as I can as we work but a visitor in the group makes a difference as a visitor has to be told it all from scratch. This is what they like, especially those with aphasia who perhaps forget quite quickly what they have been told, but also those who just need the reinforcement and reminders of why they are doing what they are doing.

And added to this is their eagerness to show visitors how well they are progressing. The strangers in the room no longer have the effect on this group of increasing the clients' muscle tone. Now the visitors are motivation and an opportunity for learning relearning and questioning.

I suspect that how I behave also has an influence too and that, as I too have learnt to love visitors, our whole environment has become much more relaxed, so that we move like the well oiled team we also are even when there are strangers in the camp!

It seems that now we all enjoy putting on show! Sometimes it is an impro-show, especially if we have a guest trying out the work on a plinth with us. This will mean that I have to move around from one to the other a bit more than normal, that less individual assistance will be on hand and that I will be explaining a bit more than usual, but it always works extremely well.

Back to today

An occupational therapist who has been to see us before was bringing one of her stroke clients with her this time. This therapist is very keen to get her clients working in my groups and even more keen for me to work with her.

We are trying to organise a group in the town where she works, an hour away from us by road or rail. In this town there is a small group of enthusiastic people, including a social worker, a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist, plus several parents and children and many potential adult clients. There is even a doctor, a neurologist, in the group. This group is rallying together to get Conductive Education out there in the sticks.

I am really keen on developing this work even though there seems to be very little time for it at the moment. I have afternoon groups to attend in Nürnberg, which means that timing would be impossible without the beam-me-up-Scotty machine that I long to have on cold, dark nights when I work very late!

Cheery faces in the grey morning light

Droopy mehad arrived at work this morning where I was immediately cheered by the children who met me at the door. The children from Kindergarten were all dressed in their odd costumes. There was a nurse and a clown and some unrecognisable creatures, and just as I was squeezing past to get to my room Fireman Sam arrived complete with hose.

It is Carnival Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras! That day of the year when we herald the coming of spring, beat off the winter spirits, and for some it is the day that precedes the beginning of a six-week long fast.

Today is a day to be crazy and have fun, to dress up in funny clothes and paint noses red. And for us Brits it is a day for running around with and then later eating our pancakes.

But I still wasn’t in the mood for quite that much fun.

It is funny how things change so quickly

Once I was in the group room I made a quick change of clothes, shoved a few plinths here and there, placed everything that I would need strategically beside, on or under plinths, had a cup of tea and a bite to eat, and the hats got changed.

My droopy and grey start to the day had now completely vanished into thin air. I was now in stroke-group mode, carnival mode and visitor mode, and having fun.

This is my absolute favourite group of all and they know it. They can just about get away with anything, although today I was just a little stricter than usual as I had a new potential client to concentrate on.

About half way through the session I realised that it was flowing better than it had done in a long time. The group were moving so well, talking and even being very witty. We really could have gone on the stage with our performance today.

At 13.45 my last clients and visitors from the stroke group went out of the door and I stood there and thought about the last few hours, about the changes that had taken place and the changes that may still take place because of the visitors. Maybe a new group member, possible new work elsewhere, the old clients newly motivated to develop further, etc. etc.

That session had been one of the best sessions that we have had for a long time, possibly since the blind man came to visit us with his dog.

Actually during the session, as I had been working the group, moving deftly from one plinth to the other, from a left leg to a right leg then back to a right hand, my thoughts dwelt for a second or two on my teachers at the Petö Institute. A fleeting image came to my mind that they were watching me and I realized what they had taught me. To be ready to change just anything at all and to accept just any changes as they happen. I also though that they would have been proud of themselves and their wonderful teaching if they could see my group working together this morning.

And what do you know, the seasons changed too

At 2.30pm the sun came out. This was too good to miss. I had no littlies, as they were all on skiing holidays but I had office work to do, so I set myself up a make-do office so that I could soak up some of the sun's warmth as I write.

PS

I wrote this posting on Shrove Tuesday, it is now Ash Wednesday. It seems as if the weather knew that the winter got chased away yesterday, since this morning the sun came out as it got light and went down again as it got dark. That is the first time that the sun has honoured us with its presence for a whole day since before Christmas and I can tell you that it made the world of difference. There were many instant changes. The sky was blue and so was the snow! The light changed, it reflected of the windows opposite into my flat, it seemed like we were living on a different planet.

It is still minus-something but the rays of the sun had enough strength in them to make it very dangerous once more to be walking on the sunny side of the streets. Icicles are once more crashing down from four of five storeys above.

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