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Ariane Zurcher Headshot

Out of the Woods

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I hesitate to say this as there is always the chance something could go horribly wrong, but it does seem for the moment that we have been sufficiently placated as far as the stem cell therapy we embarked upon for our daughter, Emma. See to read my husband Richard and I's last five posts on the conversations we've been having with various stem cell researchers weighing in on the treatments we began for our daughter Emma this past March and again in August.

It is easy, in the midst of the maelstrom of opinions, to lose sight of what is directly in front of us - Emma. I do not pretend to know a great deal about stem cell treatments, though I am learning. However, I do know a great deal about my daughter Emma. And it is Emma who takes front stage on this blog. The following are some examples of the progress we have witnessed in the past few days.

At the fountain in the center of town, Emma loves to push her stroller - often with her green stuffed monster, Muzzy - through the sprinklers. The other day, Muzzy having gotten thoroughly soaked, was drying out in the sun while Emma contented herself by pushing the empty stroller through the sprinklers. On several occasions the water came on just as she was running through it, soaking not only the stroller, but Emma too. In the past Emma would have torn her clothes off, despite our protests. We would have had to pick up a struggling, screaming Emma and carried her to the car in order to stop her from running naked in a very public fountain. On this day though, Emma said, "Emma take off skirt?"

"No Em. You have to keep your skirt on," I said.

"Okay," Emma said. "Oooh, it's so cold," she added, laughing.


Thursday morning I asked her, "Hey Emma, where do you want to go today?"

"Go horseback riding and then go swimming at the ARC," she replied without hesitation.

Typically Emma would have answered, "Horse." Or she would have said, "Swimming?" as though she were asking a question. Either way it would have been a one word answer. Not only was this a complete sentence, it was a complex sentence giving me a great deal of information.

Later in the day as we were drying ourselves off after taking a shower at the pool, I asked her, "Should I brush my hair first or yours?" Normally this sort of question would cause problems for Emma, as pronouns are daunting to her. But on this day she pointed at me and said without prompting, "Brush your hair first."

Still later I asked, "Do you want to go home or visit Claudy?"

"Visit Claudy!" Emma squealed in delight.

When we went to visit Claudia, Emma looked up at Claudia, gave her a huge smile and said, "Hi Claudy!"

"You know, she's different," Claudia said, watching Emma.

"In what way?" I asked. Claudia had been out of computer range for a while and I knew she had not read our blog, nor had we had a chance to speak, so I was curious to hear her opinion.

"Her eye contact, she's looking at me," Claudia said.

When Claudia's husband Murray appeared with their two Rhodesian Ridgebacks in tow, Emma screamed, "Pick me up!"

"It's okay Em, stay here on the coach, they can't get to you," I said, blocking the dogs from her.

"No! Stay down!" Emma yelled at the puppy.

When we'd gotten the dogs outside and shut the door, Murray went inside to get some water. I could hear Murray's voice and then Emma saying, "Dogs bite."

"No, they won't bite you," Murray reassured her. "They're tuckered out. I took them on a long hike. They won't be bothering you."

"Keep the door shut," Emma said.

When Murray reappeared, he said, "Emma and I have established the door will remain shut."

When we were getting ready to leave, I said, "Okay, Em, we have to go now." A typical response from Emma would normally be:

A) Screaming
B) Shouting, "No! One more minute!"
C) Going with me to the car, then once in the car demanding to go "Downtown."
D) All of the above.

On this particular day however, Emma said goodbye to everyone, followed me to the car and got in without protest. When I told her we had to go home, she said, "Okay."

All of these examples demonstrate progress. Perhaps on another day it will not be as profound, but for today, it is progress and for that I feel tremendously grateful.