It was not so long ago that Namine still had difficulty climbing into the car from her wheelchair. Now, she can do it with little assistance.

I say “little assistance” because her wheelchair needs some work. To be precise, its brakes are not what they used to be; standing up in the wheelchair tends to make it slide, which requires someone to hold it still while Namine climbs in. Still, she does all the real work.

I suspect we have Jordan from basketball camp to thank for this newly invigorated independent attitude. Namine has never before been around an older person who’s in a wheelchair, so I think she perhaps did not understand her own potential.

Namine is a hard worker, of course, and she always has been. But until now all she’s had for motivation is our (by “our” I mean not only Jessica and myself, but our families, friends, and Namine’s own therapists’) encouragement and her own will and desire. They say seeing is believing; Namine has seen what can be, and it has given new strength to her vision of a stronger self.

Something else that Namine had not been able to do without assistance until recently is climbing onto the toilet. It’s always been a struggle for her, even with a step-stool, to get herself to the point where she’s sitting correctly on the seat. (In fact, she’s almost fallen in a few times.)

But again, Namine has seen her own abilities increase, and as a result, her desire for independence has been renewed as well. Shortly after she found that she can, after all, climb from her wheelchair into the car without assistance, she told me she wanted to try getting onto the toilet by herself again, too. I stayed in the bathroom, just to keep an eye on her, but she did all the work. With every attempt, it takes a little less time.

This hard work is not without its difficulties, of course. Last night was Namine’s first attempt at climbing into the bathtub by herself, and it frankly did not go well. The surface of the tub wall and floor is meant to prevent slipping, but that’s precisely what Namine has to do in order to climb in.

Even if her legs were strong enough to walk without aid, Namine is not tall enough to step or climb over the tub wall. I figured the best way would be to stand up to it, lean over so that she was laying on her chest on top of the wall, and swing her body. The only problem with that is that the surface of the tub is not conducive to sliding (and for good reason).

When Namine started crying, I thought it was because she was in pain. “No,” she told me once she’d calmed down. “It’s taking too long!”

So I asked her to think back to how long it took her to be able to climb into her wheelchair. And how long it took her to be able to climb into the car. And up onto the toilet. None of these things were immediate. In some cases, it took weeks. In some case, months or even years since the first attempt. And since last night was the very first attempt, we just have to be patient. Namine agreed, and said she would try again tomorrow.

Try again she did, for yesterday’s tomorrow was today. Having learned from last night’s experience, we laid a towel over the tub wall. Namine stood up against the tub using the step-stool and leaned over the edge.

She pulled herself up, nervous about falling over. I assured her, I would not let her fall. I helped her lift up her legs, and she pulled herself, swinging her body around the tub wall. Once Namine had gotten her legs over, she was able to lower herself into the tub on her own.

We both cheered loudly. This was a huge success, and Namine was rightly proud of herself.

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