Written by Tina & Len Kuhn
Maxi’s second dolphin therapy in Antalya, Turkey from 16.6 until 7.7.2008
After the positive experiences from last year (Sept. 2007) we decided to do another dolphin therapy. In the months after the last therapy, Maxi showed great progress with his head control.
Some info about our Maxi
Maxi was born on the 07.01.05 as a healthy baby and stopped developing when he was 6 months old. He is still like a “big baby”-rolls, but cannot sit, crawl, walk or speak. He has problems with coordination and perception. We also do not know how much he can see. A diagnonsis/cause for his mental and motoric developmental block has not been found yet, despite numerous medical examinations in and out of the country.
New Location of the therapy center
We arrived in Antalya full of expectations and our first impression of the new location was very positive. Especially the benefit of not being trapped in one hotel away from the city. You can walk along the beach promenade into the city center, or look at shows nearby (there is also a pharmacy nearby!!!). Or you can walk into the other direction towards the quiet Icmeler. With buses and taxis in front of the hotel or a tour with the taxi boat-also with a Reha-buggy-it is no problem.
One disadvantage however is that it is quite loud here. Especially in the club Hotels (we were in the Turban) the animation starts at 10am (with loud music) and ends around 11pm. Depending on the location of your room within the hotel, you might be exposed to loud music all day. We had a family room in the main building (because of the elevator! Bungalows usually have stairs), very spacious, very clean and somewhat hidden above the restaurant, it was acceptable with closed windows and the noise was not too loud. Another family had a room a bit further up and at the front of the hotel, and it was louder in their room, so that they thought about switching to a room in the back of the hotel.
The start of the dolphin therapy on Wednesday 18.06. went well! Even if our therapy dolphin Daisy was sick, Maxi reacted to Frosia the same way. He enjoyed the therapy and had a lot of contact with the dolphin. Our daughter Laura (six years old) was also involved in the therapy and was allowed to swim with the dolphin at the end of the therapy. She had been very excited about this and it was also important to us, as she had a surgery 2 months ago in her mouth and was hospital-bound for 2 weeks. She is still recovering from this and has been having problems with sleep walking and nightmares. In the morning Maxi had already bin to physical therapy.
On Thursday, 19.06, we went to the hippo therapy to Feliz at the Dörtnal ranch and had an interesting and varied riding program. With Feliz and Salih you can see their love for their work, the children and their horses. Despite the 30min bus ride and the waiting time on the ranch, as 2-3 families always go together, it is always a great experience.
After lunch (Buffet at Hotel Turban) and a nice midday nap, we go to the platform to dolphin Frosja, therapist Barbara and trainer Dean. Today Maxi also has intense contact to the dolphin, which he really enjoys and he becomes very calm and balanced. He is very concentrated and participates very well. Laura is also very happy as she is allowed to go in the water as well.
Unfortunately, our luck changes in the night. Maxi has severe cramps at 3am Friday morning, which I could only stop by administering the double dose of Diazepam (20mg). He then sleeps and seems to be fit in the morning. I was alarmed however, as Maxi only has epileptic seizures when he is getting sick or missing a lot of sleep! During the riding in the morning he got tired really quickly and did not want to lift his head. Feliz checked his lungs, but could not hear anything out of the ordinary. At the dolphin therapy his concentration broke after 30min and he was whiny and weak for the rest of the day.
So we were happy for a therapy break on Saturday and hoped that Maxi could recover until Sunday. He slept a lot on Saturday and had high fever in the evening, but we gave him medicine and he had a temperature of 36.5°C the next morning so that we continued with the dolphin therapy at 9:00. He was calm and paying attention, so that I thought he is all fit again. In the afternoon he had Cranio sacral therapy and Birgit, the therapist, said that he was very unbalanced and hypoton in his body.
Monday, 23.06. Maxi wakes up around 3am-is very uneasy and starts breathing weirdly and moving weirdly. I watched him for a while and tried to calm him down, but I did not succeed. His movements and breathing continued to be out of the ordinary, so that I thought it was a different kind of cramping seizure. I gave him 10mg Diazepam. Nothing changed within 5minutes. I tried it again with Diazepam. Still no change. Now we started to get scared. I quickly got dressed, put Maxi in his buggy and called for a doctor at the reception. A nurse from the hotel appeared immediately, who, over telephone orders from the hotel’s doctor came running with an injection of Diazepam. Maxi stopped in this moment-thank god-with his cramping and I could stop the nurse from giving him the injection. Then everything went very quickly. The hotel doctor came. Then the ambulance. Maxi threw up. All of us together drove with the ambulance to the hospital. During the drive he got oxygen and the doctor stayed with him. Emergency entry to the hospital with blood draw, infusion, … while I took care of the formalities behind the curtain. Then we got to a room where there was already a family with a baby and 5min later an English lady with stomach cramps and her husband joined us. I tried to get Maxi to sleep (which did not work until 8am), then had breakfast served. Then at 9am Suna from the dolphin therapy team came by to translate.
We went together to the paediatrician and he explained to us how he wanted to proceed. We still believed that it was a cramping seizure.
The private hospital AHU Hetman is very clean, nurses and doctors are very keen and everything went very smoothly (no waiting times!!!). The only difficult part is the language. Besides the doctors, not many spoke English or German. And to try and communicate medical terms in English is very difficult. That is why we are so grateful to Suna for her translating help!!
Towards midday Maxi started to breathe funny again and to twitch. I called for the nurse. She gave him Diazepam again! Again, it did not stop and I demanded the paediatrician to come. He came quickly and said that it was not an epileptic seizure and ordered a lung x-ray and for Maxi to be moved to a single room (In the mean time the young family has moved out and a new patient with family and translator has arrived). Suna came by again in the afternoon and we looked for the paediatrician. Diagnosis: Lung infection!!!
Recommendation: Stay in the hospital. Don’t go into the water (and the therapy???), lots of rest and relaxation. Antibiotics and inhalation of water vapour. I was despaired. Then came the story about our medical insurance. As we had landed in a private hospital, our foreign policy would not cover it. Credit card insurance is good for everything except children staying at a hospital. The paediatrician was very nice though. When we told him about the dolphin therapy he said: “ As a doctor I have to advise you not to go in the water, but as a father I would tell you to continue with the therapy-maybe cancel the riding and the physical therapy so it does not get too exhausting.” He recommended that we stay for the next night so he could watch how Maxi was doing and gave us the hope that sometimes within just 24 hours children’s health can dramatically improve. After a horrible night at the hospital (first Maxi did not want to and then he could not fall asleep and then I could not sleep and was thinking too much) Maxi’s health was a bt better the next day. We left the hospital in the afternoon.
After some discussion with my husband we decided to cancel the therapy for one week and stay one week longer-at least Maxi and me. A therapy with a sick and weak child was not imaginable for us. After several phone calls with our travel agency (who had already been informed by the hospital!) we could delay our flight for another week, but the hotel was already fully booked. Mr. Linke then organised a wonderful room for us in the neighbour hotel Mares. Me and Barbara made a new therapy plan for Maxi, so he had a few days to get better and then started slowly with just one therapy a day. The whole dolphin therapy team was great. Very flexible and so willing to help, that is was no problem to make a new schedule.
We then stayed in our air-conditioned room for the next few days and only went out to get his antibiotic injection from the hotel nurse and went for evening strolls after dinner.
On Friday, 27.6 we carefully started dolphin therapy again at 10am. Maxi was very calm and was looking for a lot of contact with his mouth. Afterwards he slept a lot.
Saturday, 28.6. therapy break. We slowly start acclimatizing Maxi to the climate. It is extremely hot some days (over 40°C during the day), which really exhausts maxi. In the early morning he has a short cramping seizure that stops itself after about 1 minute.
Sunday 29.6. 10am dolphin therapy. Maxi is very quiet and enjoys the contact with the dolphin a lot. His body and head control are slowly getting better.
Monday 30.6. Early at 5am Maxi cramps again. I stop the seizure with Diazepam. We cancel the therapy for the day. Secretly, I regret staying longer. I am afraid that he will get sick again and I will be alone in Turkey with him while my husband and daughter fly home tonight.
After the move to the hotel Mares, I say goodbye to my loved ones and go back to the hotel room with Maxi. We enjoy the new buffet (the food is better! Even though the management is the same). I realize that eating at a buffet with a child and reha-buggy is not easy without a partner. Due to his many cramps, I do not let Maxi out of my eyes for one second and am very stressed when I go get food for us at the buffet.
Tuesday, 1.7. After Maxi has not gotten fever or anything else we continue the therapy at 10am. He is pretty active, relaxes quickly though when he touches the dolphin. After the therapy Maxi always eats a banana on the platform and we slowly stroll back to the hotel where he falls asleep again. Usually for 3 hours. We are then a bit stressed to get to lunch, as it only goes until 2pm. Unfortunately it is not possible to go and get something to eat in our room as I cannot leave him alone in the room. But for the worst case I still have a few jars of Hipp food with me. In the afternoon we go to get a cranio sacral therapy. The therapist says he is still very uneasy compared to the first day.
Wednesday 2.7. At 10am we go to the platform again. Maxi is happy. I also pet Daisy at the end. As usual, Maxi sleeps afterwards, but is awakened by noise in the hotel after 15minutes and cannot fall asleep again. We go to lunch and since we had nothing to do in the afternoon, we went to the beach. I thought he can always sleep later. It seemed impossible to get him to sleep. Once we found a nice shady spot at the beach he started to cramp again. I needed 2 tubes of Diazepam to interrupt this seizure. Maybe I was just also too nervous to wait a few minutes. But my nerves were very strained at this point. He then relaxed and only for about an hour-he did not sleep, but was very happy and active afterwards. Hard to believe! I felt the opposite way and wanted to go home.
Thursday, 3.7. Maxi is his old self at the dolphin. Very active, is keeping eye contact a lot better and his head control is great today. I also relax while watching and pet Daisy a lot. At the physical therapy/cranio sacral therapy in the afternoon, Maxi is calm and is working well with the therapist. Oh, I can finally see him getting better!!!!
Friday, 4.7. Today is our last dolphin therapy. It’s a shame. I think about booking an extra hour, but costs-benefits (10 instead of 11 therapies) and also the fact that Maxi has already had so many new things to process and was ill stops me from doing so. Maxi really enjoys the last therapy, is squeaking full of happiness, as Daisy pulls him and Barbara through the water. I also get to swim with Daisy today. Very exciting! Unfortunately, he sleeps past lunch and we have to eat a Turkish pizza.
In the afternoon we try to do one more Hippotherapy. On the way there, I feel like he is getting nauseous. Once we arrive at the ranch he starts screaming and holding his stomach, so instead of riding Feliz and Salih give him a tummy massage and Globuli. During the ride back he has to throw up several times. Once we were in the hotel room and showered he was active again and complaining about hunger. What to do? Go eat and risk him throwing up and having an upset stomach? Or have him screaming because of hunger? I decide to go eat (mashed potatoes)- he throws up again- we flee from the dining room-but the rest of the night was ok.
Saturday, 5.7. Riding in the morning. Unfortunately we left at 10am and were 3 families. Feliz was happy to see Maxi so well and he was allowed to go first onto the horse. The rhythm of the horse seemed so pleasant, and he just shut his eyes and fell asleep!!! On the horse!!! So he is taken back off the horse and woken up. He is tired for the rest of the morning. Am happy when we get back to hotel (at 1:30pm). A quick lunch and Maxi goes off to bed.
Sunday, 6.7. Last try for Hippo therapy. We leave at 3pm. Three families were planned but one has their own car and drives to the ranch at 5pm. So we are only two children in the bus which is very pleasant. Maxi is the first and he is so fit that he does 45 min. on the horse in every possible position. Great.
I then pack our suitcases, meet up with friends at the Turban Club Hotel for dinner and we go shopping along the front of the hotel. I want a big handbag, as my husband took all our hand baggage with him and I cannot fit 3 baby bottles, milk, tea, hipp-jars, diapers and sanitary towels, flight tickets, passports etc. in my old handbag! I spend the last few Lira on a new handbag and childrens’ t-shirts. And go back to the hotel. Think a lot about the flight back (alone with child, Reha-buggy, hand baggage and suitcase!?!), pay the hotel bill and fall into bed.
Monday, 7.7. Maxi seems to be completely healthy again, even though we did not sleep very well. The room neighbours were very loud in the early morning, the room boy brought a new bedsheet at midnight… At our last Physical-Cranio therapy, Maxi shows himself from his good side to Birgit. Then we empty our room, say goodbye to the nice dolphin therapy team and had our final meeting with Barbara. At lunch Maxi showed signs of cramping and I again fled from the dining area. We spent the afternoon at the beach and got on a bus to the airport at 4pm. Everything went very well, even alone with Maxi and all the luggage. The flight was not full and the crew from Tuifly was very helpful!!! I already noticed this on the flight to turkey.
I was asked several times: Hotel Turban Club or Mares?
I would choose the Turban Club. It has a nicer “beach” that is easily accessible even with a Reha-buggy. In the Mares there is an artificial gravel beach with stairs and all the beach chairs in the shade are already taken at 8am!
The food is better in the Mares (and drinks are served to the table, which was great for me as I was alone, so I did not have to get up to get them).
The rooms in the main building have a great view over Antalya and the ocean.
It is also not as loud in the Mares as in the Turban.
In the Turban there are a lot of green spaces (and 2 huge hammocks) and a flat sand-gravel beach with sun shades. I like this personally.
Tip for Mr. Linke
It would be nice if only 2 children go riding at once. It is too exhausting with 3 children. Maybe also use Saturdays for riding?
Therapy start for families who have already been there would be nice on the second day, then you also have a bit more time if a dolphin or child gets sick. Otherwise you have no day to fall on to if something happens.
Thank you again for the great organization and help with re-planning our therapy schedule and for Laura’s unforgettable adventure on the ship!
10. July 2008
Maxi is doing well at home. The frequent cramping as ceased.
Maybe it really was because of the heat/climate…
I will try and get a medication plan for travelling with our hospital and will avoid coming in July/August.
Any first developments???
What I have noticed in the last few days is that when I carry him over my shoulder he does not like to face backwards, he wants to see what is going on in the front and tries to get into a position to see better and look in the same direction as me. Especially at windows!!!
He also tries to feel things with his mouth or tries to grasp things with his hands (we have been waiting 3 years for this development!!!).
He can also stand on the trampoline very well. I almost do not have to support him, only find his balance with him.
THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT THERAPY!
Even if I was very stressed out as a mother-the intensive dolphin contact seems to have had an amazing impact and we are excited to see what the next months will bring.