Tina Schmidt

Clinical picture: premature birth (at 34 weeks), rigid spastic tetraparesis, cerebral epilepsy with myoclonic twitches, distinct mental developmental disorder

Tina´s mother, Petra Schmidt writes:

Dear „dolphin aid” members,

it’s been important to me for a few days now to remind me of you and send you a big thank you after coming back from Curaçao, 28th May 2004 until 13th June 2004.

I just wanted to wait to get some assessments, independently of each other, from persons that are important to me.

I have already told Mr. Evers on the phone that my low expectations have been more than exceeded and that my thoughts are still with the wonderful dolphins.

I believe it has been two weeks in which I kept on dreaming about dolphins at night.

Unfortunately, it isn’t my great strength to keep things short, especially when writing about something like dolphin assisted therapy.

Well, where shall I start? There is so much to talk about that it keeps bubbling out of me and I want to share my experience with just everybody. You might imagine what my letters to countless foundations or everything/everyone that is in the range of the feasible look like. I enthusiastically write to them about our experience on site, I don’t want to leave anything out and create a realistic image with all the information – be it to name the books of Kirsten Kuhnert (and, and, and) and to ask for another donation.

In my closest circle of friends and family, everybody is horrified when seeing the countless pages printed from my computer. They give me a dodgy look, trying to tell me that nobody is going to read this and they want me to understand, great, that you put in so much effort for your Tina, but doesn’t this probably go to the bin? Maybe you should shorten this a bit. Well, maybe, but as I mentioned above, I can’t.

Anyway, one of my first attempts to get granted a dolphin assisted therapy has been successful. Who still wants to ask then for pages, work, money for stamps, countless copies etc.? I, respectively my daughter, was rewarded immensely. My heart warmed when I read Kirsten Kuhnert’s first book. And I just started reading her second one.

So many things written in these books touch me and are familiar to me from my own experience and everyday life as a single mother, but not just me, all of us. If you think you have the time to breathe, there is a guarantee that I receive a letter from welfare service or that the health insurance company puts a spoke in my wheel because they won’t grant the aid that would be the most suitable or they’re going to cut a service, you’re constantly moving to file an objection etc. Déjà vu.

It was so nice to read about the everyday life of us mothers, parents with special children in such a true-to-life manner, because I often want to scream out my thoughts about this hare-brained fight and the wasted energy with welfare services and institutions.

But now I’ve always been a person who has, for whatever reason, enough self-confidence, energy and endurance. I’ve grown even more thanks to my daughter Tina, sometimes even beyond myself. Tina is my best friend and closest confidante, my angel.

I have learned not to agree to just anything, to check everything thoroughly, true to the motto by Che Guevara, let’s make the impossible possible. (Hasta la victoria siempre), which means something like always until victory. Or to use the words of Hermann Hesse: For the possible to arise, the impossible always needs to be tried.

My gut feeling often proves me right, and I’ve always walked my way, which is Tina’s way as well, following my feeling, and dear Lord, it hasn’t always been easy. Some fights lasted for four years, up to the appellate court, but I sweated it out, never gave up and in the end we have won. In the moment when the judge spoke his verdict and the pension office finally realised that they didn’t have a chance, I wanted to cry for joy and emotion, we made it, made it against the absurd claims and the bigotry of the welfare offices. Often, when I start reading the dolphin aid news, I notice that parents often write, Kiki, now you’re certainly going to cry. I actually notice that with myself when reading the sentences. Just the way a mother feels who has experienced it herself, maybe not the exact story, but it’s similar in so many ways.

Dear dolphin aid team, I have to say feeling a certain regret – with those, starting to sweat because of my lengthy lines, whose heads start smoking and who hope that I will finally get to the point.

Which is the leading character, Tina, my daughter, who could experience the wonderful therapy on Curaçao.

When Tina came to the new environment with strange attachment figures, meaning the therapists, she appeared to be a bit alienated. Tela, the dolphin lady of the squad, seemed suspicious to her. Little by little, she started to like the new situation, the meanwhile known persons and especially with her new friends Tela.

After a certain amount of time, I was often asked which kinds of improvements I could observe about my daughter. I honestly was a bit insecure about that, because Tina seemed to be very focused in the water, an element she likes, but it appeared to be almost dogged.  I observed everything and let it sink in. I followed the therapist’s every step and literally absorbed her instructions. In general, Tina loosened up, and keeps her tiny hands open more often, she makes sounds and cheers which she has already done before, but now it feels that her expressions are more specific.

She made me a beautiful present on our last day. Tina sat around 1,5 meters away from me in her orthosis under a sunshade. I called her name and it felt like a lightning went straight trough me. She looked at me consciously, really consciously and smiled at me. What a beautiful feeling, for whatever reason, who wants to ask about this, so be it, it just happened.

I wanted the therapy to have a good influence on Tina and give her the time to progress what happened. Like Peter (editor’s note, Peter Drißl) already said, our children do high-performance sport during therapy, compared to an adult. Tina appeared to be relaxed and cheerful, she laughed a lot and made sounds.

The senior physician of the local clinic with whom Tina had her regular check-up of her EEG on 30th June 2004 noticed that Tina seemed loosened up and balanced. He actually said: „I really like her that way.“ Even the EEG was better than the previous ones.

I learned the most from speech therapist Kerstin, what doesn’t mean I want to diminish or devalue Lisa’s and Marie’s effort. It’s just that I’m better involved in the physiotherapeutic field than in speech therapy, something that Tina’s never had at home. This is why I attach importance to continue speech therapy in the same manner. Tina gets physiotherapy three times a week, since July it unfortunately has been shortened from 90 to 65 minutes, but I’m still grateful for this, I mean who gets such efficient and intense treatment. I conduct several physiotherapeutic exercises at home.

The paediatrician, who usually doesn’t get thrilled easily, was pleased with the detailed report about Curaçao and said, after I asked him for a speech therapist for Tina, that he didn’t know if there were any in the area. It would be enough if I kept on doing the exercises I was shown. My resp. Tina’s physiotherapist said the same, their very few speech therapists are fully booked.

Thank you, Curaçao, for the excellent therapists, thank you dolphin aid, thank you Kiki, thank you whoever was or still is part of this wonderful concept.

But now I’m coming to the end, Tina is starting to scold me and grumble. Anyway, she says hi.

Our next appointment is set for May 2005. I’m sure that I, we are going to make it. Let’s make the IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE (Hasta la victoria siempre) are going to end my long letter.

Many kind dolphin regards
Petra and Tina Schmidt

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