Jonathon's Story

Jonathon's Story  
Bruce Springsteen sings about faith, courage and love, and a song called the "Nothing Man", about an ordinary guy who through circumstance becomes a hero, particularly struck me. In it, he says "you want courage, I'll show you courage you can't understand" and it made me reflect on a lot of our clients and their families and the courage, faith and love that they show in their everyday struggles.

I think particularly of John who is 21 and has a severe intellectual disability, with no speech, very limited understanding and requires full care with feeding, dressing and toileting. It is difficult to know if John comprehends much that is going on around him. He is also barely able to use his left side and has very poor balance making him a very precarious proposition when walking. He leans heavily on Cath for support with most of his body weight. All this is due to cardiac surgery complications when he was a baby. As you would expect, John has a very different focus in his physical education program to most of our clients and he is a challenge to work with.

John attends his sessions twice weekly, usually transported by his mum Cath, who battles the early morning traffic to drive the hour it takes her to get to our facility. Despite his limitations John loves the involvement of balls, and bats and hoops and has been making great progress in throwing and catching and on a treadmill, where with assistance he can now walk for up to ten minutes. John smiles, claps his hands and stamps his feet when he is happy and does this a lot during his sessions. He doesn't talk, yet I talk to him throughout and sometimes he can be cheeky and I'm sure there is a glint of mischievousness in his eyes.

Cath hugs John and wants to hear about his progress. She comments on how well he is doing, in terms of mobility and function. John leans heavily on Cath as she walks him to the car and straps him in. She tousles his hair and asks him how his session went. John sometimes smiles and other times shows little interest. I wave Cath goodbye with a promise to see John later in the week for his next session.

I see John for 45 minutes twice a week and some times think the going is tough. Cath and her family are virtually with John 24/7 and when I see Cath she always has a smile and is always cheerful.

"You want courage, I'll show you courage that I can't understand".

Written by Scott Taylor


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