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Derek Grabast's Chinese journey

Derek enjoys therapy 'buddies'

POSTED August 26, 2011 9:08 a.m.

By Brenda Grabast

BEIJING, China — Derek’s therapy was tough today.  But, he pushed through okay (and the therapists bribed him with a sucker).
Derek’s friend, Ahamad, is such a sweet little boy. Every time Derek and Ahamad bump into each other, we have to hang out for a little bit.
Derek and Ahamad understand each other in a way we will probably never fully appreciate. “D” will roll up to Ahamad and try to give him knuckles. Ahamad kind of lifts his arm and pokes at Derek.  It’s cute to watch.
There’s also two patients from Pakistan, two from China, and one each from Dubai, Russia and Singapore in the north ward. There are several other patients in the south ward.
Derek may have an MRI in the next couple of days, so the doctors here can get a better picture of what’s going on inside. When they get this results, we will meet with the neurologist to review and also discuss the EEG results.
Derek has been doing great in therapy. 
He can now sit with both legs out in front of him spread apart a little and straight without his knees turned in, and sit straight up without any assistance — well, we have to help him get into that position first, but that’s still great.
Don’t know if it’s the therapy, or the stem cells doing their work. He used to be able to sit up straight, but his little legs would turn in. The minute you tried straightening his legs, he would slump at the waist.  He doesn’t hold this position for more than a couple of minutes, but he didn’t do it hardly at all before.
The MRI that we thought Derek would get in China is not going to happen here. Derek’s pump is made of metal, but they can work around that. 
The issue is that the MRI will shut off Derek’s pump, and Dr. Shah has the control to turn it back on in Wichita. Without the little computer that is matched to Derek’s pump, it is best to wait until we get home to have the MRI done. 
That way, Dr. Shah is not too far from The Neurology Center in Wichita to have the pump turned back on. So, we will continue on as planned with the current treatment path for Derek. 
I may try to have them sneak in an extra therapy session or two before we come home. The therapists get a kick out of watching Derek giggle and laugh during the “fun” part of therapy.
For those of you who know Derek, you know about his hand gestures. For those of you that don’t, let me explain. 
The doctors call it an autistic ‘tic.’ 
He will hold his hand out in front of him and move them around, as if he’s saying something with them. Then, sometimes, he will end what he is ‘saying’ by kind of clenching his hands into a claw-like shape. 
Today during physical therapy, he was working hard on moving his legs. He was lying on his back and moving his hands around. 
Then, when Lily, the therapist, pushed his leg a little far, “HI-YA!”
He made the claw fist. Lily laughed and asked if he knew Kung-Fu. I chuckled, and Lily told Derek that Kung-Fu classes started next week. She spoke to the other therapist in Chinese and said, ‘Kung-Fu Derek, don’t make me mad!’
Now we have a Kung-Fu fighting, tooth losing, balding cowboy who is spoiled rotten — he will never be the same!
We have the next stem cell treatment tomorrow. Grace comes and sits with me while I wait for him to come out of the operating room.
As many times as Derek has been taken into an OR you’d think that I would be used to it. But I’m not. I still pace right outside the door, waiting. Grace is right beside me, pacing too. 
The minute the doors open, you would think it’s her child. You can tell she genuinely cares for his well being. He did great after the first treatment. Let’s hope the second is just the same.
On another note, I would like to thank everyone for making this possible. I cannot wait for Derek to start improving, so you can see what you have done for him.
• Note to self — whisker burn from a shaved head, hurts.
• Tea here is strong — they don’t make it like at home.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Great Bend Tribune will follow the journey of Derek Grabast of Hudson for innovative stem-cell treatment in Beijing, China.

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