Saturday, December 31, 2011

Update Saturday afternoon 12/31

Dale is one tired puppy today---and so am I!  On Wednesday, we received a surprise phone call from Group Health's neurology department.  We had an appointment for Dale scheduled for February 1st; this was just to be a follow-up neuro evaluation with the same neurologist who saw Dale when he had a seizure at Good Sam (inpatient rehab).  We had made the appointment a few weeks back and were disappointed that Dale couldn't be seen any earlier as we really wanted to talk to the neurologist again.....just to be sure that there was nothing else we could do for Dale during his seizures or anything other signs we should be looking for.  Our wonderful case manager called and, as a result, the neuro doctor said he could see Dale as a follow-up patient rather than a new patient (since Dale has never been seen in the neuro office, he was being viewed as a new patient).  Anyhow.....the neuro office called and said that Dale's office visit was moved up to January 5th---this coming Thursday!  Then, two days ago (this Thursday), we received another call informing us that the neuro doctor wanted Dale to have another EEG conducted since (1) Dale has not had an EEG since mid-September, (2) they were never able to get a sleep-study EEG performed, and (3) Dale has improved so much that it would be good to "see" how his brain is functioning and what areas are still showing signs of damage and need further healing time.

All that to say---Dale had to be deprived of sleep Thursday night so that he would naturally fall asleep during the EEG on Friday.  This caused a small uproar in our household schedule---namely, MOM had to go without sleep as well!  I had to keep Dale up until midnight Thursday (this was not too hard although he did start getting tired about 10:00 p.m.) and then awaken him at 5:00 on Friday morning.  He actually did very well all day Friday without much sleep.  He was not cranky and irritable (I was!) and didn't complain about the lack of sleep, even going so far as to inform me that he could stay up two days if he needed to.  (I didn't need to ask how he knew that; he's been to sleepovers at friends' houses where they probably had contests to see who could stay awake the longest!)  In fact, he seemed so awake that I was concerned that he would not be able to fall asleep for the test.  Throughout the day, Dale was rather shaky at times, undoubtedly due to his brain and body being extra tired.  When we arrived at the building complex, we parked in a garage across the way from the EEG wing.  It was only a short walk through the complex and across a driveway to the correct wing, but we barely got half-way there before Dale began seriously shaking and needed to sit down.  I thought he was going to have another seizure right there in the hallway (the doctors told us that lack of sleep can trigger one), but taking a rest break seemed to help and we were able to get to the EEG department without further problems.

When we arrived and had checked in, Dale and I sat in the waiting room for a bit.  We looked around in some alarm because the entire wing seemed to be deserted except for us and the EEG staff.  I'm telling you---the place was empty and, frankly, rather freaky.  It looked just like those scary movies where the person wakes up and the hospital is silent and deserted and they stumble out into the hall to find the nurses' station abandoned and everyone has vanished.  This was probably due to the holidays, but still.....I'm glad Dale was beside me or my imagination would have shifted into overdrive!

Once Dale and I were in the testing room, everything went great.  The technician was able to run the complete test, performing more detailed testing than I had seen Dale undergo yet.  (He's had three or four other EEGs.  We are both becoming pros at this---except he doesn't remember any of the others!)  When it was time for the sleep study, the tech left the room and turned out the lights so that Dale would not be disturbed by any typing she had to do during the test; Dale fell asleep quite naturally, I think, and slept for about thirty minutes.  He had a bit of a hard time waking up afterwards; he was still soooo tired.  I'm so glad that the nurse and technician were able to stay with Dale for the short minutes it took me to get back to the van; they walked with him to the elevators, then down the hall to the side door where I was able to pick him up.  I don't think there was any way he would have been able to make the walk back to the van.  His brain was tired and his body had had enough!  He revived some on the way home, entering the house in time to eat dinner and relax.  I had already assured Dale that he could go to bed as soon as he wanted to that night; he still stayed up until 9:00.  Once in bed, he slept for twelve hours straight!  Even today, Dale has been shaky some but doing well.  He wants assistance to walk down the hall or to the table, but he can get up and take his turn playing the Kinect just fine!  Either he's pulling the wool over our eyes or he can move better than he thinks.  I know that playing the video game (Kinect sports) is automatic to him; thus he doesn't have to think about his movements, making him comfortable in his own skin.  However, walking outside or down the hall reminds him that his body doesn't always respond like he remembers it doing, so he feels like he needs help.

Every day, in so many ways, Dale is improving and making excellent progress.  Chad and I have decided that Dale is ready to attend more school, so we (Dale and I) will be up at school until lunchtime each day.  This means that Dale will be able to attend 3rd hour (math) and 4th hour (Bible) now.  We believe that Dale's endurance levels have increased to this point, although we are being careful to introduce extra class time slowly so as to be sure that he is not overwelmed physically.  I believe his brain will handle the extra listening and learning time just fine.  He will be attending classes but not taking tests yet.  Maybe we can extend Dale's school day to include all his classes by the start of the fourth quarter!  Wouldn't that be amazing?  Chad and I were discussing this yesterday, and we know that Dale will have a good bit of make-up work ahead of him, but he doesn't need to tackle that just yet.  We can order PACEs for him (work-at-your-own-pace learning booklets and tests) to help him learn what he has missed; that may be during summer school this year and possibly throughout next school year, even into next summer---we'll see.

God's blessings are numerous and overflowing in our lives, and we cannot thank Him enough for what He has done.  Dale's drowning, his rescue, and his not-just-survival-but-amazing-comeback is almost too incredible for words.  Our Heavenly Father has shown His mighty hand to the world.  We are awed every day at His power to heal and are humbled by His using us as His instruments by which He chose to show that power.  Our hearts are so thankful, Lord, for Your generous gifts whereby our lives are made richer and for Your people who have allowed You to work through them to bless our family.

Happy New Year from the Ostranders to all of you!  May God become as real to you in this next year as He has proved Himself to be to us.  God bless you!

Numbers 6: 24 - 26  "The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:  The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:  The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Update Wednesday afternoon 12/28

We hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as our family did.  We opened our gifts Christmas Eve; everyone got a few nice gifts and at least one thing they were ecstatic about.  Of course, our present-opening was made more precious to us because we had our whole family still.  Many times over the course of these holidays have we given thanks to God for sparing our son's life and for restoring Dale's brain to nearly full function.  We opened our stockings and had our treasure hunt (family tradition) after the morning service on Christmas Day.  We don't have any special plans for New Year's Eve/Day except to attend church and watch football.  (And, of course, begin a diet!)

We were supposed to do our stocking/treasure hunt Sunday morning before church, but I got delayed and had to move everything to after church.  This turned out to be a good thing because, about 15 minutes later, while getting ready for church, Dale had a seizure.  He seemed to try hard to avoid this one, but his brain apparently needed to reset.  He was in his room, having just finished getting dressed.  For some reason, instead of sitting back down in the chair, Dale tried to perch on the edge of his bed.  His mattresses sit a little higher than normal; if you try to sit on the edge, you tend to slide right off.  When he began sliding, he got scared.  I had my arm around him, keeping him from falling, but Dale still felt like a fall was inevitable.  I said, "Dale, just sit down."  He replied, "I can't!  I can't!"---and then stiffened as his brain shut down for a moment.  I'm telling you.....that kid is a dead weight!  Katie came in and helped me hold him until the seizure ended.  As soon as we were able, we eased Dale fully onto the bed and covered him with a blanket.  I made sure he was on his side so that any excess drool (or worse) would not pool at the back of his throat and cause problems.  Dale slept for a good bit afterwards, causing him and I to miss the morning service, but woke up just fine and has been doing well since.  I'm thankful these episodes are merely reset buttons and not set-backs.

Dale had PT this morning.  The therapist challenged him with a few new exercises which Dale performed willingly and well.  She is trying to get him (his brain and body) to separate his leg movement from his trunk movement so that he can balance better and move better.  Imagine having to turn your whole body, not just your arm, to reach for a glass of water.  Dale's movements are not nearly that bad, but subconciously he overworks his body when he could simplify his movements.  The therapist also had Dale do some stretches with a gate belt for a strap positioned around the ball of his foot; he needs to pull back on the belt to pull his foot forward towards his knee (while sitting on the floor).  This will eventually stretch out his ankle muscles, allowing his feet more freedom of movement which will, in turn, adjust his center of balance.  All these changes will help Dale to walk more confidently and catch himself more easily if he stumbles.  Speaking of which, he has been doing better with that.  It is obvious that Dale is thinking things through more now, instead of just letting nature take its course whenever he stumbles or loses his balance.  This morning, for the first time, Dale was able to put his feet into the stirrup pedals on the stationary bike by himself.  He also swung on the platform swing a bit, being willing to have his feet not touching the floor constantly.  He was visibly shaking by the time PT was done but only because his muscles received a good workout.

We don't see SP again until next week, so we have been working some on the language worksheets I brought home.  Every little bit helps; every week we see improvements.  As Chad recently told a reporter, when you're "in the moment", it's not easy to see progress; but when you look back over a week or two, the improvements are definitely visible.  Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!

A couple of weeks ago, a reporter from the Tacoma News Tribune came over with a photographer and held an interview with Dale and me.  The photographer took several nice shots as well.  The reporter called Chad the following week and spoke with him, getting "Dad's" insight into Dale's therapy and the family's general welfare.  Last Wednesday, the same photographer attended PT with us to take some pictures of Dale in action with his therapist.  The TNT ran the story on Christmas Sunday on the front page (!!!) with several nice photos of Dale, me, our dog Peanut, and our PT therapist.  If you get a chance, look at the story on their website......just Google "TNT" or their paper's name and you should find it with no problem.  We appreciate the good job the reporter did.

Thank you to those who sent Christmas greetings---we enjoyed each card and letter we received.  A special thank you to those who sent gifts to our family.  Please know we sincerely appreciate your generosity and kindness to our son and to all of us.  Dale remarked this morning, "If only my accident hadn't happened, then we wouldn't have to do all of this stuff (PT, SP, etc.)."  Yes, life would be different right now if August 5th had been a normal day.  But I truly believe that life would not be as sweet, our children would not be as close, God would be Someone Who only did miracles "back in Bible times" if not for August 5, 2011.  God's plan has indeed far surpassed my own meager, fanciful dreams for my family.  Dale is a different person today than he was six months ago---but he's a better, different person.  He is calmer, kinder, sweeter, less likely to get angry with his sisters, more obedient than before.  Our family is closer now, more aware of the fragility of life, more compassionate toward others, more humble, accepting, forgiving, caring than before.  And other our church, across the country, around the world.....have grown closer to the Lord, have opened their hearts to us, have been used repeatedly to bless our family, have become part of our family because of this past August.  You are almighty, Lord Jesus.  Your will and Your plan is always best.  I thank You from the bottom of my undeserving heart for allowing August 5, 2011, to unfold according to Your purpose.  May we always remember You first when heartache comes, when tragedy strikes, when blessings shower down, when trials multiply.  Thou art worthy, O Lord.

I Corinthians 15: 10  "But by the grace of God I am what I am:  and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all:  yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Update Friday afternoon 12/23

I praise God again for His amazing grace and miraculous healing of Dale.  This morning, Dale reached another milestone, albeit one he may have to convince his body and brain of a couple more times before he is officially past it.  He fell off his chair while getting dressed.......and he did not go into a seizure!  This past week Dale has not wanted me in the room while he is changing his underwear and pants (something new---the not wanting me present, not the changing his clothes part!), so I will set out his clothes within reach of his chair and leave him to it, telling Dale to call me if he needs help.  This morning, I stopped outside his door a couple of times and asked if he was all right; his response was always, "Yes."  A minute later, there was a muffled thump, followed by Dale's rather irate voice saying, "I NEED HELP!"  Amanda, Katie, and I burst into Dale's room to find him lying on his side on the floor.  He was shaking and upset, more irritated than anything else.  His irritation increased when I simply commented, "Oh, you fell."  (I think he was expecting me to baby him or show more sympathy.)  I continued, "Let's get you up."  This was when the real problems began.  Apparently, he had been trying to get his second tennis shoe on when he overbalanced and fell off the chair onto the floor, smashing a couple of his (cheap) wooden airplanes when he landed.  When he tried to get up on his knees preparatory to standing, Dale began shaking badly and had no muscle strength in his arms (to push himself up) or in his legs (to stand).  He began crying a little in frustration and a bit of fear.  It took us a couple of tries with rests in between to get him kneeling; then he was able to stand fairly well with my added support.  I comforted him, reminding him that it will not always be this hard and that his body will eventually be strong and reliable again.

The blessing in all of this?  Three weeks ago, two weeks ago, falling off the chair followed by shaking would have brought on an immediate seizure.  Today, Dale worked through it, enduring the shaking and even exhibiting stronger emotions than just fear.  There were several moments where he was shaking badly enough---and scared enough---that I was concerned he might go into a spell, but I kept reminding him of what Alison (PT therapist) had said about "the worst that could happen."  I reminded Dale that, now that he had fallen, all he had to do was get back up.......all he needed to think about was getting up again, not falling more or shaking more.  Praise the Lord!  This may be just what Dale needs to help him work through the next fall or stumble or shaking episode; this may be what he needs to prevent himself from automatically seizing.  I praised Dale for thinking through the fall and shakes, for calling out when he needed help, and for staying as calm as he could and continuing to try.  Thank God for my son!

Now, to all of you who are feeling sorry for Dale and sniffling on his behalf, STOP!  Your feelings toward him will change when I relate the awful trick he played on his sister yesterday.  This was a very mean thing to do; it was also 100% Dale.  Amanda and I had gone to the store to purchase some groceries so that we would have a more varied menu than bread.  Ever been there?  :-)  Katie was in charge while I was gone.  Dale said he had to go to the bathroom, so Katie helped him up from the table and walked down the hall with him to the restroom.  When he was done, Katie kindly assisted Dale back to his chair to finish his lunch.  (Bread, remember?  Just kidding; we had beans and cornbread---Southern food!)  As they reached the table, Dale began shaking and half-fell into his chair, landing poorly on the seat.  He continued shaking badly; then, he stopped, his head lolling to one side, his eyes open.  Katie, fearing the worst, anxiously questioned him, "Dale, are you all right?"  Dale then sat up, looked at her, and said, "Ha-ha!"  THE LITTLE STINKER!!!  He was playing a joke on her!  All in favor of his immediate and everlasting punishment, signify by alternately gasping in disbelief and laughing.  The "ayes" have it.  He will be banished to his room for at least a nano-second.  Can you believe he did that?!  If he truly had any idea the anguish we have been through because of him, he wouldn't tease like that.  Of course, he remains unrepentant and chortles gleefully whenever he thinks about his horrible joke.  Shame on him!

Today at SP, Dale had a shaking episode just as we walked in the door.  He is finding more and more that these shakes do not have to stop him, just make him take things a little slower at times.  We arrived at SP on time (a miracle in itself) and got up to the second floor.  (No, we did not walk up the stairs; are you crazy?)  As we entered the SP office door, Dale's feet and brain seemed to disconnect for a moment.  He began lurching rather wildly, crossing the five feet from the doorway to the first available waiting-room seat in a somewhat undignified fashion.  He managed to drop sideways into the chair, still twitching occasionally.  Lisa (SP therapist) and the receptionist just stood there and watched in consternation.  It seemed like they weren't sure whether to rush to his aid or hold up a scorecard.  The whole time, I was asking Dale, "Are you all right?  Are you going to make it?"  The concern lacing the questions was completely cancelled out by the laughter gurgling through each word.  It really was a funny sight!  Dale attempted to answer me but couldn't get two words out before the next one got strangled by his recurring twitch.  It sounded like he had a bad case of the hiccups; it looked like he was undergoing recurring electro-shock therapy.  To make matters worse, Dale kept trying to right himself in the chair, getting halfway through the re-seating process before the next shake jolted him right back to where he was to begin with!  Finally, he was seated properly, at which point I told him, "Just sit there for a minute, okay?"  After he calmed down, we were able to join Lisa in her office and had a great hour of SP therapy.  ***BLESSING UPDATE***  Dale is doing so well in SP that, after January, he will only need to have one SP appointment per week!  How many of us thought back on August 5th that by the end of January Dale would be talking so well as to be able to decrease his SP therapy?  I have trusted God all along to know what's best for Dale and to do what's best as far as his healing is concerned, but I underestimated His timetable.  Again, thank You, Lord.  You are incredible!

Mark 9:23  "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

Luke 1:37  "For with God nothing shall be impossible."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Update Tuesday evening 12/20

Merry Christmas to all of you!  We are excitedly preparing for the upcoming holiday.......actually, that's not true.  We are enjoying doing pretty much nothing during our break from school with all its joys and not-so-joyous moments (otherwise known as tests).  This extreme laziness rather irritates my husband who believes that a minute not spent engaged in an activity that is wholesome, educational, or at least chore-related is a minute wasted.  I, on the other hand, am what I like to call efficient---which means I work fast and furiously to accomplish my chores as quickly as possible so that I may laze around the rest of the day doing as I please, usually reading or napping.  I am productive in spurts; my house is not eligible for a Mr. Clean commercial but neither is it going to be on the next "Hoarders" episode.  I use the "I have five children" excuse to explain any and all messes, piles of laundry, unwashed dishes, and the war zones that are, in actuality, my children's bedrooms.  Our house has that "lived-in" look that some people call homey.  It's really just the result of six (sometimes seven, if Chad forgets to take his shoes upstairs) people dropping things in the most convenient spot.  I'm not as bad as the kids are about this, but I do contribute.

So, today, since we all had a day off (girls---from school, and Dale---from therapy), we were out of real reasons not to clean and we spent a good deal of time straightening up and wading through the stuffed animals (we really could start a zoo), trying to decide what to get rid of since we know they'll get more when they open their presents.  (Who started the whole stuffed animal idea anyway?  Chad and I will sign the petition to have their name removed from history.)  Please pray for the structural integrity of our house; it may not stand the strain of all the toys bulging its walls much longer!

(On a side note, Dale has been saying that what he wants for Christmas is more Legos.  Since he doesn't remember all the boxes of Legos he received in the hospital after his accident, can we just wrap those up and stick them under the tree?  They'll be just like new---to him, at least!  Would that be unethical?  Just wondering..........)

At PT yesterday, Dale's therapist said something interesting that I have repeated to Dale off and on since then.  Dale's confidence level has been alot lower since his last seizure, and he is unwilling to walk on his own.  He asks for one of us to hold his hand at all times, even into the bathroom.  He's told us that he is afraid he will fall.  I was relaying this to his therapist who turned to Dale and said, "Dale, if you stumble, what's the worst that could happen?"  He replied, "I might fall."  She said, "Right!  That's the worst that could happen---you might fall.  That's all."  She was trying to get him to see that, even if he did fall, he could get back up and keep going.  I've reminded Dale of this a couple of times, talking it through with him, wanting him to realize that falls are a part of life and all he has to do is get up again.  Hopefully this will eventually sink in and he will be more willing to walk on his own, but for now we give him that added support.

Also at PT yesterday, his therapist brought her own small cotton candy machine, and she and Dale made cotton candy together.  I'd never seen a cotton candy machine that small; I've only seen the big ones like at the fair.  She and Dale had fun making and eating cotton candy.  While waiting for the machine to warm up, Dale did some exercises:  the treadmill (it's easy for him), the rebounder (he throws a ball at a propped-up trampoline and catches it on the rebound), and the stationary bike.  Dale almost fell trying to catch the rebounded ball once; after he regained his balance, he simply asked, "Could you get that (the ball) for me?"  This was a good step for him, not focusing on the near-fall but instead on what to do to keep working.  His PT therapist is so good at making Dale enjoy physical exercise and feeling like a success at whatever exercise he chooses to do.  I thank God for her!

(You know I'm just kidding about the Legos.......right?)  :-)

After PT, Dale went on to SP.  The SP department is located inside the Tacoma Mall Office Building.  When we reached the mall parking lot for Dale's 2:00 p.m. appointment, I was tempted to turn around and go home.  That place was packed!  We literally circled the building's parking lot (which is adjacent to the mall parking lot) four times trying to find a place to park.  We finally headed to the side of the building where, frankly, the lot is not as smooth in order to find a spot.  I parked the van on the outside edge of the side lot; the pavement was cracked and full of bumps where nearby trees had spread their roots a bit too far.  This gave Dale a bit of a challenge walking, but he did fine.

SP went great.  She had Dale working extra on listening to a story, answering questions about the plot, and repeating the story with all the main details.  He really did well the first time (repeating the story after having just heard it).  She went on to something else for about ten minutes and then returned to the previous story.  Dale repeated the story again with all ten main details.  If you had sat in SP a few weeks before during the testing and heard how hard it was for Dale to repeat a story at all (and how impossible it was for him to remember it ten minutes later!), you'd realize what an incredible improvement he has made in such a short time!  THANK YOU, JESUS!!!  His SP therapist is helping Dale improve his short-term memory and learning attention span, while at the same time showing him again how to listen and study for quizzes and tests.  Yes!

Then came the challenge of getting out of the mall parking lot.  I'm telling you---I am not one of those people who thrive on big crowds and elbow-to-elbow contact and fighting for parking spaces.  I heaved a sigh of relief just exiting the parking lot!  Not thirty seconds after we pulled onto the main street, Dale and I heard an announcement over the radio of a car accident on the freeway just outside the Tacoma Mall.  Yeah, we were glad to be headed home.

To answer someone's question:  Katie's headaches come and go.  She is not suffering constantly with them as some people do, and we are learning what causes them so that she can be prepared for and possibly prevent their occurence.  Thank you for your kind concern.

Do you know what Dale said to me yesterday on the way home?  He said, "I'm glad I'm a boy."  I asked him, "Why?"  He told me, "Because Jesus was a boy."  I, being a girl, had never thought of something like that.  I'm glad to know my son is thinking about his Saviour and wanting to be like Him---even though it seems like he has an unfair advantage already!

God bless you all during this holiday season and all throughout this next year.  As full as our hearts are with the love and prayers you all have offered, we wish for more......we wish you to know our Saviour more fully this coming year than you have ever before.  God is faithful; God is true; and He always keeps His promises.  Christmas is a promise kept.  God bless you!

Luke 2:11  "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Update Friday morning 12/16

This will be quick as we have a home game starting in about twenty minutes!  There are alot of little improvements and blessings to report that have occurred since the last update; I will only list a few right now (see previous sentence!).

Dale seems to be "waking up" more and more nowadays.  Not that he's been walking around in a dream-like state---just that he is asking more questions now about his accident and remembering things somewhat better now.  I say that cautiously.....Dale still is struggling with short-term memory loss even about events that have happened in the last month.  For instance, our school secretary handed me Dale's school picture this week.  Dale took one look at it and said, "I don't remember having my picture taken."  Mind you, the picture was taken the last week of November.  But we are still too close to the accident date to determine if Dale will have lasting memory deficits; he's improving daily in so many areas that it is impossible to predict what lasting effects he may suffer three, six, twelve months from now.  Praise the Lord and Yeeee-Haaawww!!!

Did you notice Dale's new picture for his profile?  That is the aforementioned school picture, the most recent shot we have of our son.  Isn't he handsome/cute?  He's still young enough that I can call him cute.....just not to his face!  I also updated his profile, although most of the information you already have gleaned from this blog.

Daily, it seems, Dale is returning to his normal saucy self.  Yesterday, Chad and I encouraged him to get up and play the Kinect for exercise.  Dale didn't want to at first.  I said, "You need to get off the couch and get moving."  His reply?  "I'm walking!"  Clearly, this was not enough, so Dale and Amanda played Kinect sports games for a while.  She said Dale did really well, lasting through two games before asking to take a break.  Of course, he attends PT twice a week and does walk, climb stairs, etc. all the time---he just wanted to be lazy!

Thinking back to that first traumatic weekend, waiting to see if Dale would live or go on home to Heaven, watching each time the nurse or doctor performed "responsiveness" tests on Dale, our hearts breaking a little more each time Dale didn't respond, hearing the doctor's pronouncement that in reality there was no hope.........and seeing my son play the Kinect, hearing him tell jokes once again, knowing God is still using His indescribable healing power on Dale's brain, watching Dale "wake up" a little more each day.......I can only say:  We serve a living God.  We don't worship a dead Saviour Whose power ended on the cross.  We serve a risen Saviour, a powerful Creator, a miracle-working Almighty God Who is showing each day just how BIG He really is!  Chad and I have said from the beginning that God is good no matter what and we trust Him no matter what.  God has decided in His infinite wisdom to allow our son to recover from the accident; I believe it is so that everyone may see His mighty hand at work.  He is truly wonderful, awesome, majestic, and always right.  Thank You, my Father, for what You have planned for Dale and our family and, indeed, all Your children.  I love You, Lord.

Romans 5: 1 - 5  "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:  knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Update Monday afternoon 12/12

My husband, children, and I wish to express our gratitude to all of you who have been continuous in prayer for our son Dale and our whole family.  Every day we feel the love and care God's people are showing to us, and we see the definitive benefits those prayers are bringing forth.  To those of you who may not be Christians or do not share our faith in an all-wise, all-powerful, loving God but are following this story because of its human appeal, thank you for your concern and your thoughts toward us.  We have been so overwhelmed by everyone's kindness and continued generosity in time, money, love, and gifts.  Thank you for making our family feel special and constantly bathed in prayer.  What a tremendously uplifting feeling to know our names are always in God's ears!  We cannot thank you enough and only hope that some day---maybe not even until Heaven---we may personally thank each of you for all you have done and are doing.  To those who read this blog daily (or, at least, every time I update it!) but have never commented, we covet your prayers and continued thoughts of us Heavenward.  You will never know how much you all have meant to this family through this God-sent blessing-in-disguise.  He is the Master Planner, the One Who knows how everything will work out best and what is needed most in our lives.  If we only trust Him fully, allow Him free rein to guide our lives, He will "work all things together for good."  He can and He is.

We have had several people both in person and on the blog ask if they can do anything for our family this Christmas.  I realize our family's name comes to the minds of most people who wish to do something a little extra for someone at this time of year, and we sincerely appreciate each and every gift we receive.  As you are probably aware already, we do have significant needs stemming from Dale's accident---loss of my teaching income, hospital bills still coming in, spending more than usual for gasoline to go to/from Dale's increased therapy appointments, etc.  But please do not feel as though you must do something for us just because our name has been in the paper alot!  There are alot of needy families out there, in your home church or in your neighborhood, who would love to have a little extra something this Christmas.  God through you all has blessed us so much recently that it seems greedy to tell folks, "Sure, you can give us some money for Christmas!"  Having said that, if you would like to send a Christmas greeting, you may send things through our church:  Chad and Kirsten Ostrander, c/o Bethel Baptist Church, 524 E. 176th Street, Spanaway, WA  98387.  (I did ask our pastor's permission first before re-posting our church's address!)  And, as always, thank you from the bottom of our hearts just for being you.  God bless you, every one!  :-)

On Friday, Dale went to SP and finished up the testing.  These tests have been very helpful in showing us just how much Dale has improved in SP and what areas he still shows weakness in.  We discovered that Dale's visual memory is much better than his language memory.  On one part of the test, she had Dale copy a geometric shape with lots of lines and dots.  About ten minutes later, she had Dale draw the same shape from memory---and he did very well.  I would've remembered literally only half of the drawing.  She and I were surprised at how much Dale remembered visually.  However, in one part of the test, she read Dale a list of words (ten or so) and had Dale repeat as many as he could remember.  She did this three times in a row, then set that part aside.  About ten minutes later, she asked Dale to repeat as many of those words as he could remember.  He couldn't remember any!  She then asked him if he recognized any words from the first list in the list she was now reading; again, he couldn't recognize any.  So, we now know that Dale's visual memory is quite good while he needs definite work in language memory.  That is now one of SP's new goals for Dale to work toward before the next testing in a couple of months.

Unfortunately, again this Monday morning, Dale had a seizure.  It has been exactly one week since his last episode, and again this spell didn't seem quite as long as before.  He fell asleep afterwards as usual, but he woke up completely within about twenty minutes.  He used to sleep for a couple of hours afterward.  Something new about this spell:  he remembered having it!  I asked him, "Do you remember the seizure?"  He nodded his head.  Surprised, I asked, "What do you remember?"  Dale replied, "I remember falling down and then blacking out."  WOW!!!  That has never happened before.  Usually, he doesn't remember anything, and this time he remembers falling (half-falling onto the couch before sliding to the floor) and then everything going black.  I was with him the whole time, even tried to prevent the seizure by helping him sit better on the floor, but I guess his brain just needed to shut down for a brief time.  Praise the Lord, Dale has been fine since and attended PT and SP as scheduled.  Last Monday, he had an episode, after which he had two or three good days in a row.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were not so good; he was shaking badly and very unsure of his ability to walk, insisting on someone holding his hand even to sit down on the toilet.  Since the spell this morning, Dale has been walking better and willing to let go of my hand to move.  Amazing!

Did I mention he fell in class on Friday?  Like I said, he was pretty shaky, and, while going to his assigned seat, his foot caught or something and down he went.  I had just escorted him to the bathroom and back to History class; I glanced back through the door as I was walking away and saw the teacher lunge to try to grab Dale before he hit the floor.  Poor Dale!  He wound up on the floor with a lump on his chin where he connected with the desk on the way down.  He didn't bite his tongue or go into a seizure though.  We gave him a minute to calm down (he was crying in pain and fear), and then I helped him up and walked him back to my classroom.  He was able to still attend SP later that morning, as you know, and that helped take his mind off the fall.  In the car this afternoon, I mentioned that he has no therapy scheduled tomorrow; I told him he could go to school in the morning and then we could go buy Dad's Christmas present together.  He said, "No."  I asked him what he meant.  He told me, "No school, only shopping."  When I questioned him as to the reason why, he explained, "Because I don't want to fall."  So I volunteered to walk with him to class and make sure he was seated safely each time.  He agreed to this!  I told him I didn't want to embarrass him by walking to class with him (you know.....mother walking her seventh-grade son to class!), but he said he didn't mind.  It's kind of nice to have my son still want me near him at school even though I could wish for a different reason for doing so!

So, all things considered, Dale is doing well and still plugging along.  (Is that even a phrase?)  God is good, as always, and He will continue to be though our feelings on the matter may change or falter.  Isn't it amazing how God created us in His own image and yet we turned out sooooo different?!  Maybe Star Trek's Data had it right:  human emotions are highly overrated!  It's reassuring to know that even when our personal lives are stormy and our thoughts are in a tangle, God remains steady and sure, unchanging and eternal.  Have you ever said, "It's a good thing I'm not God!"  I have, many times.  We would be in "a world of hurt" if I were in charge!  Thanks be to God for giving us free will to choose our own paths and then flooding His path with brilliant light to show us the way in which we ought to walk.  Thank You, Lord, for Your Word to direct us and guide us daily.  Once again, You have made life so simple for us---just trust and obey.

Galatians 6: 7 - 9  "Be not deceived; God is not mocked:  for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  And let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap if we faint not."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Update Thursday afternoon 12/8

Each day brings new things to be thankful for---and new challenges for both Dale and myself.  Yesterday, Dale went to SP.  On the way, he said, "I don't want to go to physical therapy."  I replied, "We're not; we are going to speech."  After a few minutes he said, "I don't want to go to speech."  I explained how much speech therapy is helping him improve his vocabulary and voice longer sentences and such.  He seemed to accept that, staying silent for several long minutes.  Then came the sweet sounds of "But I speak fine."  Oh, thank You, Lord, for allowing my boy to regain his speech to the point of being able to say, "I speak fine."  This is actually what I have (recently) been praying for:  that Dale would recognize his abilities and begin to wonder why he has to attend therapy sessions.  I have been careful to explain to him in basic terms the accident he had at the beach and how it affected his brain and body, trying to help him see his need for continued therapy.  (He'll go whether he agrees or not, but I believe he'll continue to work hard at each session if he personally sees the need and increased benefits.)  After his "mouthing off," I told him that he should tell Lisa (SP therapist) that; he grinned and said, "No, no, no!"  Of course, I did tell Lisa on him, and he got to grin some more at her offended sniff.  She was just playing along!

THEN---She finished up with Dale some of the tests she had begun last Friday.  At the end of one set, she had Dale use certain phrases in a sentence.  He did really well and even got a little sassy with her.  She gave him the phrase "even though" to use in a sentence.  Dale thought for a moment, then began to grin.  I asked him, "What are you going to say?", having seen that expression before.  Dale's sentence was "Even though I already said sentences, you are making me say more!"  The little snot!  He was very pleased with himself over that one---and so were we.  The next phrase was "as a consequence"; Dale's sentence was "If I don't do my chores, I get punished as a consequence."  (Who says his memory is faulty?!)  Lisa countered with "As a consequence of making you say sentences, you can speak more easily."  Even Dale had to acknowledge that was true.

Dale scored pretty well on the speech tests.  He scored right in the average range for speaking longer sentences and following instructions.  He scored in the low average range for understanding how words relate to each other (like "water/fluid" and "hot/cold") and grammatically forming sentences correctly.  Did I even put that right?  This sounds better:  forming sentences that are grammatically correct.  Maybe I need SP therapy!  Overall, she was pleased with how well Dale is progressing and now has new goals for Dale to work toward.  I am thrilled with the progress and improvements that I can see just in the last month, and it is obvious that Dale loves being able to express himself.

Oh---Dale told me another joke.  What did five say to six?  Seven eight (ate) nine!

Dale had PT this morning, and he got to tell his first joke to the therapist.  She loved the "fungi" punch line.  Dale was shaky again getting up this morning, but that is partly due to his not going to bed until nearly ten o'clock last night.  Amanda, Katie, and I stayed after church to help set the stage for the school Christmas play which is tomorrow, so Chad took the other three kids home with him.  I assumed that he would put them to bed......silly me!  When we walked in the door at 10:15, my two youngest girls were still sitting on the couch, watching some show on TV; they informed me that Dale had just gone to bed.  I, being the gentle, submissive wife that I am, very kindly and lovingly explained to my dear husband that the children have a bedtime during the week of 9:00 p.m. and that this bedtime is set and observed so that everyone gets the proper amount of sleep to awake refreshed and eager to begin a new day.  (And, if you believe that, I've got some lakefront property in the Sahara to sell you!)  Soooooo, everyone was rather tired this morning when Mom came around, waking everyone up and dragging them out of bed to get ready for school.  Once Dale got going, though, he seemed to perk up a bit.  ***GRAND ANNOUNCEMENT***  Today, for the first time since August 5, 2011, Dale put on both socks and both tennis shoes by himself!  (I had to tie them for him, but that's beside the point.)  And, for the past few days---in fact, ever since his seizure spell on Monday, he has been walking down the stairs with ease, needing only my hand to hold and taking each step at a time.  His PT therapist noticed this today, commenting on how much improved Dale is over the last time she got to be with him.  Dale has two PT therapists who work with him, but the other one gets more time with him than the one today.  He worked hard in PT, accepting challenges and not crying once even though he stumbled a few times.  Just a few weeks ago, if he stumbled or felt scared, he would cry.  But not today!  Dale tried one thing after another, taking short (60 second) breaks in between activities.  He worked steadily for the full hour and left cheerfully, knowing he had done his best.....and knowing he had nothing else scheduled for the rest of the day.  So we came home and he played computer games for a while before lunch.

I mentioned that there are new challenges for me.  I have to purposely hold myself back from doing everything for Dale.  He does not need that, neither will it help him.  Not until Chad put Dale to bed the past two nights (insert small frown here) did I realize I've been doing too much for Dale at bedtime.  Chad told me, "Dale took off his uniform pants, put on his sweats, took off his shoes himself."  I didn't know he could put on his sweats and take off his shoes by himself!  So, this morning, I let him try putting his own socks and shoes on and voila!  I've already backed off in the bathroom, which is good for Dale.  When we approach the van, Dale opens the sliding door, climbs in, pulls his seatbelt around and fastens it, and closes the door all on his own.  I've learned to stand back and watch, ready to help if needed but keeping my hands firmly at my sides otherwise.  Dale dresses himself in the mornings; I only help if his shirt gets stuck or his zipper won't pull up.  This morning, when coming out of the bathroom, Dale got upset with me.  I was in his room, sitting on the bed, waiting for him to come out so he could get dressed.  Dale opened the bathroom door and said, "Mom!  I need help!"  I rushed out into the hall---only to find him standing in the bathroom.....just fine.  I asked, "Why do you need help?"  He shrugged his shoulders.  He didn't really need help---he had finished up fine; he just wanted me nearby in case there was a problem.  I gave him a bit of an exasperated look (after all, he had caused a significant jump in my heart rate), but inwardly I was pleased that he spoke up when he wanted something.

In this month of rushing around, preparing for the church Christmas cantata, the school Christmas play and program, the teen Christmas banquet, Christmas General Store at church for the elementary Sunday school kids, planning activities for Christmas break from school, and addressing a million Christmas cards---stop.  Take a moment each day......just a moment because you may not have more.....or you may choose to forgo this advice if I asked for ten whole minutes!......and thank God for being Him.  He is Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.  Thank Him for the greatest gift of all, the most amazing gift anyone could ever give or receive......His Son, Jesus.  God the Father could have said "No"; He could have said, "I won't give My Son.  I won't give that gift.  You'll just waste it anyway."  But, instead, He said, "Yes."  Fathers, think for a moment.  What if someone was dying and their only chance to live was if your son donated his heart---but he had to die to do so.  Would you be willing to allow your son to die so that someone else might live?  Mothers, imagine for just a moment what it must have been like for Mary.  She was so young, so pure.  I don't mean she was sinless, just fully dedicated to serving God no matter what.  She gave birth to her firstborn son, knowing He was only hers on loan from God the Father.  She knew she would one day watch Him die for the sins of the world.  This sounds so noble, but, in reality, Jesus' death was excruciating, humiliating, horribly painful, and in the end agonizingly alone.  Could we as mothers stand at the foot of the cross as Mary did and willingly let our son die for a world who didn't care, didn't want Him?  God.....Father, Son, Holy Ghost.....paid an immense price for our salvation.  Please don't let His gift go unnoticed in the whirlwind frenzy of "Christmas"; stop and thank Him for His gift, for His love, for His goodness, for His care, for all He does, for all He is.  He is Jehovah, the Great I AM.  He is all we truly need.

John 3:16 - 17  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Update Tuesday morning 12/6

Dale is getting a little extra time off from his busy schedule, though not by his choice.  Yesterday, he had another seizure episode just after getting up in the morning.  I could sense he was shaky getting out of bed, but he walked into the bathroom just fine and closed the door.  It has been a few weeks since I have needed to be present in the bathroom with him to help cue him what steps to take.  I walked down the hall to the girls' room to get my littlest one clothes for the day.  There was a loud thump (which we think was the toilet lid), then Dale cried out, "MOM!", and I raced back down the hall.  By the time I got the door open, he was already on the floor in a seizure.  By all appearances, Dale lost his balance while bending down to lift the toilet lid and fell; in trying to catch himself, his brain went into seizure mode.  This one was different, though.  First, he called out to me; he's not done that before.  Second, the spell didn't last as long as the others, shaving off ten to fifteen seconds from the duration.  Third, Dale "woke up" from this one sooner than usual.  This could be because we put a pillow under his head to make him more comfortable on the bathroom floor while he rested and recuperated.  Unfortunately, the pillow was directly over the vent while the heater was on.  Within ten minutes of the spell ending, Dale pushed himself upright with his arms and began retching.  He never actually threw anything up (he hadn't eaten breakfast yet), but he acted like he needed to.  I think the heat made him feel sick to his stomach, and his body reacted like it would under normal circumstances, seizure notwithstanding.  The poor guy was still half in/half out of it; he couldn't keep himself sitting upright---his body looked as boneless as a cat's!  When I asked him to look at me, he could do it; it just looked like he was drugged.  Finally, Amanda and I got him standing; Dale moved his legs properly to walk into his bedroom; and I put him in bed.  At last he could rest comfortably.  A friend of mine came to take the girls to school since I could not leave Dale---and there was no way we were going to carry him to the car!  Fourth, Dale recovered more quickly from this episode than any other.  He slept just a short time afterward, waking up easily and getting ready for the day as if nothing had happened.  I asked him if he remembered even getting up the first time, and his answer was "No."  Amazingly, he seemed even better after the seizure than before.  I can't wait to ask the neurologist about this because Dale was not shaky at all getting ready.  Usually he has a hard time keeping his leg from jumping around while trying to put his foot into his shoe.  After the seizure, his legs were steady and he moved with ease.  Could it be that the seizure actually helps his brain reset?  It's kind of like when we feel sick to our stomachs---we generally feel better after we go ahead and throw up.  It seemed like Dale was able to get dressed, move his limbs, and even walk down the stairs more readily after the spell than before.  This may be a case of "the cure seems worse than the illness." Dale gets even more time off.  We got a call this morning canceling his PT appointment because his therapist called in sick.  It is cold and flu season after all!  So Dale is at present in history class, after which we will head home for some extra relaxation.  I tried to interest Dale in doing a thousand push-ups, but he wouldn't take the offer!  :-)

Dale's speech is improving with incredible speed.  At SP last week, the therapist had him look at a picture and describe it in a sentence using a specific word.  (For instance:  there might be a picture of kids playing on the playground and the specific word might be "slide.")  The picture was of a man and woman gardening with a cat and dog racing around in the background, and Dale needed to use the word "and."  He stated his sentence, "The woman is not working as hard as the man," and sat back, finished.  The therapist looked at him and said, "I don't think you used the word 'and'."  Dale replied, "Yes, I did."  She had him repeat the sentence.  Dale said, "The woman is not working as hard as the---oh, I guess I didn't!"  You see how he caught himself just as we would?  He has begun speaking more and more, and, personally, I think he is both thrilled and relieved to be able to express how he feels and what he wants.  This morning, in the chaos of trying to get out the door, several of us were talking at once, including Dale.  I stopped and asked him, "What did you say?"  He said (with short seconds-long pauses in between sentences), "Nothing.  I'm not talking to you.  I'm talking to the dog."  These are just a couple of examples of how well he is speaking now.  Oh, thank You, Lord, for Your wonderful blessings and for implementing Your perfect plan in Dale, both in the past and in these last few months!

Our school secretary just came in and asked if we wanted Dale to take the Stanford Achievement Test in February.  She has to order them in the next week or so.  PRAISE GOD!!!  My first thought was, "February is still two months away.  We have no idea how progressed Dale will be by then."  And, to think that four months ago, we were standing by Dale's bedside in the hospital, weeping and asking God to spare Dale's life if it be His perfect will.  Just three months ago, the SP therapist in the hospital was telling me that, once Dale began speaking and pulling words out his mind, his world would change.  Just two months ago, Chad and I were concerned that Dale was regressing because of the lack of therapy.  Just one month ago, I had to stand in the bathroom with Dale to ensure proper steps were taken, including cleaning him up afterward.  And, today, I'm watching my son work a computer, speak naturally, attend classes, play video games.  The English language does not contain words descriptive enough to express my feelings, my joy, my thankfulness to our God, my contenment.  Not that I don't want more, but I'm so very thankful for my son and God's goodness.

Isaiah 43:10 - 11  "Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen:  that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He:  before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me.  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside Me there is no Saviour."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Update Saturday afternoon 12/3

Whoo-hoo!  We are floating on cloud nine here in the Ostrander household!  Friday was SUCH a good day for Dale.  The day began as usual---dragging our eyelids open to face another school day (thankfully the last one of the week), rushing to get out the door on time (we managed), sending each child their separate way to their classroom (which means Dale went to Jr. High/High School boys homeroom), and then "tutoring" Dale in my classroom during 1st hour.  Dale worked through a couple of different types of worksheets:  reading comprehension---improving well, identifying true/false statements and correcting the false ones, listening to and following instructions.  We finished up a stack of "instructions" worksheets with Dale whipping through the last three sets of ten questions each with ease.  What a difference a month makes!  (Yeah, I know I butchered the song title!)  When we first began those worksheets, Dale could only listen to and complete three instructions before "breaking down":  crying, bending forward in his chair, standing up/sitting down repeatedly, closing his eyes.  Now, for him to breeze through thirty (plus) questions accurately is, well, nothing short of---you guessed it---a miracle!  I cannot express our delight in Dale's progress, his improved speech capabilites, and his general health.  God's name be praised!!!

At Dale's SP appointment Friday morning, the therapist took Dale through a series of tests to determine how much he can do.  These were the exact same tests she gave him the first day we saw her four to six weeks ago.  The first part of the test was "listen and follow instructions."  Alot of the questions seemed repetetive, changing only one or two words, and I was concerned that Dale would protest or get bored, but Dale did great.  He worked steadily through FORTY-FIVE instruction questions before the therapist asked him if he needed a break; at that point, he gratefully nodded his head!  Usually, when she asks him if he's ready for a break, she will pull out a game or something for Dale to mess around with---something that doesn't require him to think too hard and gives his brain a rest.  This time, she simply flipped the test booklet to the next section and kept going.  Again, I thought Dale would protest, but he didn't seem to mind.  For the next part of the test, the therapist had Dale look at a picture and give a sentence about it that included a certain word.  For instance:  the picture showed a person eating an ice cream cone and Dale needed to use the word "creamy" in the sentence.  Get the idea?  Again, he did great!  She has been helping Dale to use more words, more details in his sentences, and he proved he could do this during the test.  He averaged using eight or nine words each sentence; one sentence was fourteen words long!  And, up until the last three pictures, his sentences made sense, both realistically and grammatically.  He continued working steadily for thirty-five minutes!  Dale has gone as long as an hour before with SP but only by interspersing work with play.  This time, he endured thirty-five minutes of testing without a single game break.  This shows Dale's increased endurance and ability to concentrate.  What an improvement!

One more thing I want to share, and this is the best of all.  On the way home from SP, we were listening to Christmas music and occasionally talking.  At this moment, however, we had both been silent for some time.  Dale spoke up from the middle seat of our van.  I expected him to ask if we could go to the library or watch something on TV.  Instead, the sweetest words came to my ears.  Dale asked, "What did the orange say to the mushroom?"  It took me a split second to realize my son was TELLING ME A JOKE!!!  Of his own accord!  I quickly replied, "I don't know---what?"  He responded, "You look like a fungi (fun guy)!"  Oh, the joy that flooded my heart.  It was a good thing I was firmly strapped into my seat while driving because I wanted to get up and dance!  What music to my ears!  God has been flooding our family with blessing after blessing lately, and this is just the latest example of wondrous blessing we have received.  How many times before Dale's accident have I, in exasperation, said, "Dale, please---not everything has to be a joke."  And now, I am thrilled to hear a simple joke told by my son.  Thank God for second chances.  And third chances and fourth and............

Psalm 115:1 - 3, 9 - 11  "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth's sake.  Wherefore should the heathen say,  Where is now their God?  But our God is in the heavens:  He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.  O Israel, trust thou in the LORD:  He is their help and their shield.  O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD:  He is their help and their shield.  Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD:  He is their help and their shield."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Update Thursday evening 12/1

Just a quick note:  I talked today to the young man who was injured playing basketball.  His surgery, as far as they can tell, was a success.  His arm is in a cast of sorts (I'm used to seeing the big plaster things so anything different looks strange) and will remain so for a month, I believe.  He has to keep his arm at a certain angle as well, which makes life in general---and sleeping in particular---challenging.  He told me he will have to go through physical therapy after the cast comes off, but that he should heal up fine.  Praise God!

Psalm 107:43  "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update Wednesday morning 11/30

It's going to be another busy day today!  First, Dale has school from 8:25 - 10:25; then, we get to go home for an hour (I'll be tending my sick Katie); it's off to PT at 12:30, followed by SP at 2:00; we rush back to school to pick up my girls; home for a few hours to clean, fix dinner, and get ready for church; we'll attend the church service from 7:00 - 8:30 or so; and finally, back home to collapse gratefully on the couch!  I am thankful for each therapy session Dale gets to attend; however, they definitely make a full schedule.

Dale had a pretty rough day on Monday.  I realize he had several "days off" in a row due to Thanksgiving Break, but I don't think that was to blame for his severe shakiness.  I allowed him to sleep in Monday since I had to leave Katie and Emily home sick anyway.  When I went to help him get ready for the day, I was almost shocked by the extent of his jerking movements.  I have not seen his limbs jerk quite that badly since he started this improving trend.  I helped him quite a bit with dressing; he combed his hair and brushed his teeth by himself.  Then it was time to tackle the stairs.  Dale has become quite fearful of walking down the stairs.  It seems all he can think of is falling.  At one point, I could simply hold his hand while he kept the other hand on the rail while stepping down carefully.  On Monday that was not possible.  Dale kept stumbling, almost as if his legs kept giving out on him.  I tried several different "holds" that didn't seem to help at all; he kept needing to sit down on the steps to avoid falling backwards.  (Falling backwards going downstairs is obviously not as bad as the opposite, but it still undermines Dale's confidence.)  We made it to the landing between flights, Dale crying and saying, "I wish I was downstairs already."  I just about carried him down the next flight, standing beside him and pulling him up against me with my arm around his waist.  Even with this added support, Dale was jerking wildly and scared stiff.  He even told me, "I'm terrified!"  We stopped repeatedly to allow him to calm down before attempting the next step.  Finally, we were once again on solid ground.  I guided Dale around the corner of the couch so he could sit down.  He was stumbling badly by now with every step; I was so afraid he would go into a seizure.  He half fell/half sat down on the couch, crying hard.  I stayed by him for a few minutes, reminding him over and over, "Dale, you're safe now; you're sitting down.  You're safe."  I waited until he had calmed somewhat, then handed him a pop-tart (comfort food) to enjoy while relaxing.  Thank the Lord, we didn't need to leave for PT for an hour.  Dale just sat, relaxed, and watched TV.  This time allowed him to lose most of the jerking behaviour, as well as restore his confidence that he could get through the day.  He continued to be very shaky the rest of the day, but he did well overall.

PT went well, especially considering the rough start to the morning.  Dale struggled a bit while getting on/off the exercise bike and other equipment, but I stayed close enough that he felt safe enough to keep trying.  That was the important thing.  Eventually the therapist took Dale into the smaller pediatric gym to work on OT stuff.  Dale didn't think twice when she had him get down onto his knees to work at a low bench; she and I shared a grin about that!  When she and Dale were playing catch (still standing), I was absolutely amazed by how well Dale released the ball each time!  Always before, his left hand would almost fight with his right to hold on to the ball, causing him to have trouble throwing a ball or dropping a bean bag.  On Monday, his left hand worked beautifully with his right; he threw the ball or bounce-passed it just fine---no hesitation whatsoever.  I have not seen that since his accident!  (I know it seems like I say that alot, but with each improvement, the statement holds true!)

Overall, Dale is doing quite well.  I was talking to my husband the other day (something I try to do regularly!) about Dale's progress.  We were excited in looking back at just how far Dale has come in less than four months.  From not even knowing if he would wake up, to seeing him scratch his nose on his own, to watching him throw a ball with ease---there are not enough words to express our joy and thankfulness!  Our God is miraculous; there is healing in His very breath; He has chosen to heal Dale and bring him through this "re-becoming" process, and we are awed by the chance to watch Him work.  The six-month mark since Dale's accident will be the first week of February; imagine what we will be thanking God for then!  I can't wait to look back at the one-year mark and see just how incredible our God's healing of Dale will prove to be.  Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!

Guess what I discovered in a corner of the dining room?  Three boxes of Christmas decorations!  It looks like one of the girls wanted to "help" me by clearing off the dining table.  Unfortunately, their help did not extend to actually putting the decorations where they belong---around the house.  They simply stashed them in a corner for later!  Oh, well---thank You, Lord, that someone at least tried.

John 4:35 - 36  "Say not ye,  There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?  behold, I say unto you,  Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal:  that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Update Saturday morning 11/26

Our family has enjoyed this holiday season very much.  Chad has/had Thursday - Sunday off work; this has never happened in the history of our family before!  He has gotten to sleep in (until about 6:30 a.m.---somehow he never can sleep much past this), get to some projects around the house (clean out the garage), and in general relax.  I have enjoyed sleeping in and having extra fun time with the kids playing the Kinect.  I think the children have enjoyed being out of school and playing around more.  The girls get a chance to relax instead of the usual rounds of school, volleyball, homework, odd jobs, etc.  Dale has even enjoyed the break from school and therapy, and it seems he's getting better at tolerating his sisters!  I wondered if he would spend the entire Thanksgiving break screaming at the girls, but it's not been too bad.  He still screams, but, when asked what is wrong, is willing to tell what is bothering him.  This is much better than the general screaming and pointing, although it will be wonderful when he learns to control the screaming and just speak.

My girls and Dale have been playing video games alot this break, something the girls rarely have time for and Dale was not able to do just a month ago.  Do I have to be thankful his thumbs and coordination have improved to allow him to sit and play a video game?!  Just kidding.  It is so good to see this kind of improvement in our son after not knowing what to expect.  Dale is also improving in his bathroom skills.  He is getting more independent, not needing me to cue him which steps to take or even to just get up and go.  It's been three or four days now that he has gone by himself with no help!  Praise the Lord!

We all consumed excessive amounts of turkey, stuffing, pie, and veggies these past few days.  It's amazing how jam-packed our refrigerator was prior to Thanksgiving Day---and how empty it is now!  There used to be a time when Thanksgiving leftovers stayed around for a while, causing people to groan, "Turkey again?"  Now, the remaining food is gone by the next evening.  Could be because we have seven people in our family now, not counting the dog who eats whatever she can steal off an unguarded plate!  We thank our wonderful Lord for so generously providing for us at Thanksgiving and always.  I don't think it would be fair, though, to blame Him for the extra pounds we are now carrying!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too, only without the extra weight.  We are now entering my favorite time of year---Christmas!  We have already begun listening to carols on the radio; tonight we will put up our tree, rearranging the furniture to fit the tree in a corner somehow.  Each year my husband and I make a vow to only buy "a few presents" for the children.  Each year by December 25th, the Christmas tree with its surrounding presents seems to have spread to take up half the room.  About the second week of December, we abandon the attempt to "organize" the placing of presents under the tree and just start shoving them under wherever they will fit.  Of course, our curious dog, Peanut, feels the need to regularly go on snooping missions around the tree, ripping holes in the gift wrap and knocking off ill-placed ornaments dangling too low.  Then there are the questions:  "Mom, can we please open our presents on Christmas Eve?"  "Dad, I don't see any presents for me.  Didn't you get me anything?"  "Can we open just one right now?"  (This one coming about December 2nd.)  "Are we having a treasure hunt this year?"  Each year---just as my parents did when I was young---we open our stockings Christmas morning.  The stockings are filled with goodies, including one clue.  This leads them to a present and another clue.  Four or five clues later, they have extra gifts.  These are usually just small, fun items....maybe earrings for the girls, candy, a stuffed animal (we have enough of those but somehow we always end up with more!).  Each year they ask, as if we would ever skip the treasure hunt.  The replies to these questions are always the same:  "Yes, you have some gifts" or "No, we are not opening our gifts early" and "Do we ever open a gift on December 2nd?" and are accompanied by various emotions ranging from compassionate and understanding to exasperated and fed-up.  Eventually the threat is issued:  "Stop asking me or else!"  Or else what?  We'll cancel Christmas?  Take all the presents back to the store?  As many times as I have been tempted, I have never taken a present back just because the kids are overexcited and/or annoying.  Somehow, each year, we get to the end of Christmas Day with all five kids and our sanity still intact.

And that brings me to my point.  Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, a reporter from KING 5 news stopped by for an interview with our family.  She said she had been trying to think of a family in the area who had much to be thankful for this holiday, and she immediately thought of ours.  And she was right.  God has blessed us so much this year, as He does every year.  The blessings and gifts are just more evident this year.  As we told the reporter, we are very thankful that our son is doing so well, that our girls are healing and moving on, that our family is still intact.  God has been good.  I say that as if it's something new I have discovered or something no one else has ever experienced.  Of course, God is good; did we expect anything else from Him?  But, in a real sense, we have experienced anew God's goodness, His grace, His mercy, His compassion, and His miraculous healing power.  We truly can say from our thankful hearts, "God is good."

James 1:17  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Update Wednesday afternoon 11/23

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!  In the rush of preparing turkeys, dressing, pies, and the rest---and the resulting fog of overstuffed gluttony!---let's be sure to give abundant thanks to our wonderful, loving Heavenly Father for all He has given us.  Each of us, I believe, has at least one thing to give God thanks for and most of us have much for which to be thankful.  I fully believe in enjoying Thanksgiving dinner (and leftovers) and watching football and upcoming Christmas movies, but I personally want to be sure I thank the Giver of all life and blessings before I take even one bite of turkey or green bean casserole.  Thank You, my Father, for simply being You.  Without You, I am nothing.

On a side note, the young man who broke his arm during our basketball game (which we WON!) underwent surgery yesterday to repair the nerves and such in his arm.  I have not heard an update on him since I received this information, and, since Thanksgiving break began today for our school, I probably will not have an opportunity to find out how he is doing until Monday.  I'll let you know how he fares.

Dale was supposed to have PT yesterday morning, but just before we were to walk out the door for school, he had an episode/seizure.  I had noticed his leg shaking more than usual while helping him get dressed.  I made sure we slowed down a bit and took our time.  He had some trouble on the stairs---nothing new---and we walked into the kitchen to get breakfast.  Some unnamed individual (this means no one would 'fess up) had eaten the last pop-tart, so I handed Dale a lunch-sized bag of chips to eat.  I know, I know.  This was highly unhealthy and showed an alarming lack of parental concern for his nutrition, but we were in a hurry.  (That's really no excuse; we're always in a hurry, it seems, on school mornings!)  When Dale went to eat the chip, his hand jerked wildly, causing him to smash the chip against his mouth.  I decided he should sit down to eat his chips.  He headed for the couch, but I redirected him to the table.  Somewhere between the couch and the table, he began falling.  I don't think he stubbed his toe or anything; it seemed like he couldn't make the transition from "go to the couch" to "go to the table" easily, and, in trying too hard, his brain glitched.  I was standing behind the chair, ready to help him be seated, so I was close enough to catch him as he went down.  Praise the Lord!  I couldn't hold him up, but I could make sure he didn't hit his head on anything as he fell.  By the time I eased him down to the floor, he was already in the seizure.  He may have begun seizing on the way to the table, which would have caused him to fall.  Dale wound up lying on the floor between the table and a bookshelf (our house is filled with books, it seems), where he remained while enduring the full episode.  I was able to comfort him, letting him know he was safe and it would be all right.  When the spell finally ended and he began breathing deeply, I made sure he wasn't going to choke on the bit of moist chip still in his mouth and made him comfortable.  My oldest, Amanda, was already going to stay home because she was ill; I called her downstairs and told her to keep an eye on him while I ran the other girls up to school.  We were by now horribly late, but we had a good (bad?) excuse.  I dropped the girls off, told the office why they were so late, and hurried home.  To my surprise, when I walked in the front door, Amanda and Dale were sitting side by side on the couch, watching TV!  What a lovely surprise!  He had apparently awakened; Amanda had helped him up; and Dale was busy changing channels when I showed up.  I called and canceled PT since our appointment time would have had us leaving the house about ten minutes after I got home---too soon for Dale to have fully recuperated.  However, Dale and I were able to go up to the school at noon for the Thanksgiving Lunch they provided.  He ate turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and two pieces of pumpkin pie.  He was fiiiiiine!

Thank God for my son's zany sense of humor!  Monday at SP:  the therapist asked Dale to "name just one thing you did this weekend."  Dale's answer was, "Breathe."  She and I laughed so hard; Dale just sat there with a goofy grin on his face.  After giving another answer that was more personal (!), Dale went on to work hard for an entire hour!!!  He has never been able to work steadily for that long.  Of course, she mixed things up some for him, going from activity to activity, but she stayed with one activity at a time long enough for him to have to work to concentrate and answer her questions.  Dale shows definite improvement in his speech.

Something we learned today:  Dale has not forgotten how to navigate a computer or what his library card number is.  Yesterday, Dale asked repeatedly to go to the library.  We told him we would go the next day.  This morning when he woke up, he asked me if we could go to the library.  So we made sure we went to the library before going to the store for last-minute Thanksgiving items.  Our library has two computers in the children's section, one for the kiddies to play games and one to access the library system.  Dale sat down, clicked on the correct heading, and began typing in his library card number to access his account.  Ashley and I were smiling and hugging each other behind him!  Just one more thing we've discovered that he can still do.  Dale can also close the van door from the inside.  I didn't think he could until he did it yesterday without any urging on my part.  So I made sure I told the girls and Chad about that so we don't do things for him that he can do himself.  Dale has also not forgotten how to play video games.  He is downstairs right now, having lots of fun directing a car all over the place.  He seems to enjoy way too much ramming the car into buildings and running other drivers off the road.  (Remind me to be thankful he is nowhere near old enough to get his license!)  This morning, Dale got up by himself, walked into the bathroom, shut the door, and used the toilet by himself.  This is a huge thing!  He cleaned up, pulled up his pants and underwear, and closed the lid---all without my prompting.  Unfortunately, he couldn't get the bathroom doorknob to turn, so he had to knock on the inside of the door and wait for me to let him out!!!  Just another tidbit from the Ostrander nuthouse!  If we are not all certifiable, we soon will be.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!  May you enjoy this day of celebration and festivities with a thankful heart, as we will.

Daniel 6:25 - 27  "Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.  I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:  for He is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end.  He delivereth and rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, Who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Update Saturday afternoon 11/19

To let you know:  We received a report from the oldest sister of the young man who was injured during last night's game.  He both dislocated and broke his arm.  He dislocated his elbow (painful enough) and also broke the humerus above the elbow joint.  He may need surgery to ensure proper use of his hand.  This, however, was not the same arm he injured previously, nor do we know if asthma played any part in his treatment.  He is definitely out for the season!  Thank you for praying.  Kirsten

Update Saturday morning 11/19

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!  Our God is wonderful, omnipotent, gracious, and always ready to save.  He saves us from hell; He saves us from our past; He saves us from our mistakes; He saves us from ourselves.  He is above all things, in all things, before all things, and will be forever in Heaven.  Yes!

Dale had SP and PT on Thursday.  I was a bit concerned about PT because we were going to work with a new therapist.  We had met her once before and she seemed nice, but we had really only spoken a few sentences to each other.  She followed Dale and the other therapist around, just watching to see what works best for Dale.  Plus, Dale was really tired Thursday.  We had special meetings at our church this week; Dale had attended church Sunday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday night.  You know how exhausted you feel just from the extra physical effort to go to church several nights in a row (as my husband put it, "I had to shave two days in a row!"), not to mention being spiritually drained from the preaching, conviction, and general "stirring up."  So, I was unsure how PT would go.  Dale surprised me by cooperating very well and performing all the tasks the new therapist laid out.  He got up and down off the floor for various exercises; he played catch with her; he got on the swing for a short minute.  He walked on the treadmill at a speed of 1.1 for almost three full minutes!  We were all impressed.  He only balked at remaining in a kneeling position while inserting bolts into pre-drilled holes in a box (OT); he said this hurt his knees.  Once he got up and sat on a padded table/mat, he was able to finish the bolts.  He even got himself a cup of water twice from the dispenser.  The therapist and I talked for a few minutes afterward and agreed that PT was a success!

Then Dale had SP.  Lisa is so good with him, praising him for doing well, encouraging him to keep going even though he may be tired, and being firm yet kind with him about using his words instead of screaming.  At the end of SP, Lisa said she was impressed with Dale's improved endurance levels (able to think and answer ten or more questions in a row) and comprehension levels.  She stated that it seems obvious that the comprehension was always there (we knew this!) but that his speech difficulties kept Dale from expressing that comprehension.  Now, Dale is able to answer questions better, reiterate some ideas, and even give answers to "I have to think" questions (like "Why do you think the dog barked at the frog?").  On that note, Chad asked Dale the other day a question which Dale wouldn't answer.  Dale just kept shaking his head and half screaming with his mouth closed.  Chad asked him, "What is keeping you from answering?"  Dale replied, "My tongue."  As humorous as this is, it is probably a very accurate answer.  Dale is having to fight with his tongue, his brain, and his memory to get out even the simplest words.  But, if anything, he is a fighter.  He has proven that from the beginning.

On Friday, we got to go back to Good Samaritan Rehab for a follow-up appointment.  Dale got to see the same physiatrist who oversaw his care in the hospital, and this doctor was pleased to see how well Dale has progressed since being discharged.  He mentioned he saw definited improvements in Dale's walking, speech, ability to move on command ("Touch your nose; lift your left leg; hold your arm straight out; etc."), and overall demeanor.  After the appointment, we walked around for a few minutes and visited the OT and PT gyms to see Dale's former therapists.  It was good for them to see him and good for Dale, too, I think.

Last night, our school hosted our first volleyball and basketball games of the season.  Dale and I got back from his appointment in time to watch his sisters playing volleyball.  They both played very well---and that's not just "proud mama" talking!  Our girls' JV team lost but actually played well as a team; our girls' varsity played two different teams and won both games!  At this point, Dale was drooping, so Chad decided to take him home.  I stayed to watch the rest of the games.  Now, the boys' varsity basketball game got underway.  Mind you, we were playing our rivals, a Christian school from over the mountains, so this was an important game.  All in all, it was a really good game with points scored by both teams and fairly decent calls by the referees :-) until we got about halfway through the game.  I don't recall exactly when this occurred; I just remember the emotions rolling throughout the gym.  One of our boys went racing down the court, setting up a pass play under the basket.  The ball sailed too far, and he valiantly leaped after it, attempting to sling the ball back into play before it bounced out of bounds.  He was successful in whacking the ball back into play, but the force of his efforts propelled him into the wall at the end of the court.  He hit the wall pretty hard, the high-speed impact bouncing him off the wall and straight to the floor.  He immediately began writhing and yelling in pain.  If you've never heard a young man yelling in agony, consider yourself lucky.  I don't think I ever had before.  The referee blew the whistle, the coaches came running over, and then the call went out:  "We need Mrs. Goltiao!"  She is a wonderful, godly lady in our church whose own boys played basketball for us not too very long ago, and she is an excellent nurse.  Anytime something happens on our church or school grounds and she's around, she hurries to help.  The gym went silent save for the whispered prayers circling the building.  One of our coaches pulled several teammates over to form a human wall, shielding the injured young man from the curious and the concerned alike.  His father was present as well as his sisters; my oldest, Amanda, went over to comfort his oldest sister who is a classmate of hers.  An ambulance was called; when they finally wheeled him out, he was breathing through an oxygen tube but not intubated.  I believe he suffers from asthma which may have complicated matters.  The report came back:  his arm is possibly dislocated, possibly broken.  Please pray for this young man to have complete healing with no growth plate complications.  Did I mention he had broken this same arm already, within the last year, I believe?  I cannot imagine the pain he was going through.  God bless him.

I recounted all of this because it affected my girls somewhat.  Amanda and I were crying and praying together for him.  He sits by her in one class and is always joking with her.  After what happened at the beach with Dale, now she was the one hugging the sister of the injured young man and comforting her.  Katie said as well that hearing the prayers around her and hearing people say "I hope he's all right" threw her back to that day on the beach with people all around saying that same thing about Dale.  She was trying to be strong last night and not cry, but it was hard on her.  Praise the Lord, we are not still at the beach or in the hospital, begging God to spare Dale's life, or even at a grave site, asking for God's comfort and strength.  We are still beseeching Him daily to continue His marvelous work in Dale's mind and body, but there is definite light at the end of the tunnel.  Dale has made incredible strides in these three-and-a-half months---imagine what the next months will bring!  We do have an amazing God, One Who is mighty to save and strong to heal.  And you know this would be true if God had chosen to take Dale on Home or have him live out his remaining days in a hospital bed or revert to a small-child mentality and never "grow up."  God is good.  Our hearts are overflowing with love, praise, glory, and honor for our awesome God.  The Lord be praised!

Psalm 91:1-4  "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress:  my God; in Him will I trust.  Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust:  His truth shall be thy shield and buckler."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Update Wednesday afternoon 11/16

Just a quick post this time...I'm operating under the philosophy of "It's now or never!"

First, THANK YOU to those who commented after the last update.  Your feelings, your thoughts, your prayers brought me to tears.  I do try to keep Christ's perspective in all this (and everything!), but our family is most definitely human and we do struggle every day with doubts, fears, and temptations.  The prayer that was posted---thank you so very much for that.  You captured what my heart cries out each day.  I appreciate all of you who lovingly and thoughtfully comment, who have followed our son's miraculous story from the beginning or perhaps just found out, who never comment but pray along with us each day.  You are allowing God to touch you, mold you, change you through Dale---and we will never be the same, will we?

Second, let me give a short (but, praise God, ever-growing) list of Dale's recent accomplishments.  (1) Dale is able to speak more now and more clearly as well.  He still screams some but can express his feelings or needs verbally better now.  We still have to remind him to use his words!  This morning on the way home from school, we decided to stop and get some tomato soup for lunch (nasty weather outside, grilled cheese and tomato soup inside!).  Dale said something which I didn't hear, so I asked him to repeat it.  He said, "When you get to the library, stop."  He hasn't been inside the library--family favorite---since his accident.  You know I had to let him!  We only spent a few minutes, but it was worth it.  (2) Dale is doing well with the worksheets we use at school.  Some are reading comprehension; some are math; some are "tell me about the picture."  He really does verbalize more now.  SP has been working with Dale to lengthen his sentences, using five or more words instead of one-word answers.  (3) Yesterday, Dale surprised me twice by getting out of the van by himself!  He unbuckled his seat belt, opened the sliding door, and slid out to his feet.  The first time, I unbuckled myself, got out, walked around the back of the van---only to find Dale on his feet outside the van!  I nearly jumped out of my skin.  The second time, I was ready.  (4) Yesterday, during our walk, I asked Dale, "If you could be any character on Regular Show (cartoon), which would it be?"  He answered, "Either Mordecai or Rigby."  These are the main characters and pretty cool---to a kid.  I then asked, "If I were a Regular Show character, who would I be?"  Dale answered, "Benson."  Benson is the boss.  I said, "Why Benson?"  Dale very easily replied, "Well, he's always yelling orders."  Dale was punished severely for his impertinence---just kidding!  We both got a good laugh out of it.  (5) Dale sits by Dad in church now.  This enables Dad to poke him whenever he tries to slump over; thus, Dale is encouraged to sit up straight and listen properly.  This also means Dale is at the other end of the pew from his sisters, which means peace and quiet during the service.  Also, I get to focus on the sermon more and not on Dale's quirks like standing up, slumping over, leaning on me, etc.  We all win!  Except maybe Dad.  At least he's not complaining.  :-)  (6) Dale's teeth brushing techniques are improving.  He used to brush well on the right side, upper and lower, and that was it.  I began brushing his teeth at night after he had tried, just to try to prevent cavities because Dale was not quite doing a good enough job.  Now, Dale brushes well on both right and left sides and even the front teeth!  If you think this is not a big deal, try switching your toothbrush to your other hand and brush for a while.  It's hard!  Dale is re-learning this as well as many other things; it's good to see improvement in this vital area.  (7) I saved the best for last!  When we got home this morning after school, the library, and the store, I made sure Dale got out of the van safely, then helped him up the one step to our front porch.  I then said, "Dale, wait a minute.  I've got to get this stuff out of the front seat."  By the time I had leaned insde, gathered up the books and bag of groceries, shut the van door, and looked up, Dale was at the front door, trying to turn the handle.  I hurried up behind him, saying, "Are you trying to open the door?  It's locked."  Then I looked at the lock.  Dale had found the spare house key (I won't tell you where we hide it, but obviously Dale knows!), inserted the key into the lock correctly, and had turned the key.  I reminded him to let go of the key and turn the doorknob, which he did, and the door opened.  Dale had remembered where to find the key, how to insert it into the lock (I still have to remind myself if the teeth go up or down!), and just needed a bit of help remembering to turn the doorknob!  WOW!  All of these seemingly small bits of progress add up to such big improvements over the last few months, few weeks, even few days.  Thank You, Lord, for letting us see Your miraculous work in action!  Like those time-progressed photographs that show a milk drop splashing up, we can see God's hand working in Dale's brain and life.  And, by simply being here and being near, we are touched as well.  Amen!

Luke 1:77-79  "To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins,  Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us,  To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."