Friday, September 30, 2011

Update Friday morning 9/30

Once again, God is demonstrating that His will and His timing---not ours---are perfect.  In mid-June, my husband changed jobs.  Our old insurance under that employer ended immediately, and the new insurance under his new (now) employer could not start for three months.  We were willing to wait for the new insurance to kick in, but then Dale's accident happened.  Thank God, we were able to reinstate our old insurance under COBRA and have been seeing doctors and neurologists through MultiCare.  Of course, we were paying a healthy fee each month to use that old insurance since his former employer obviously wasn't paying any portion of the cost.  As of October 1st, we qualify for the new insurance---under Group Health.  This means that, while our out-of-pocket expenses will be (slightly!) cheaper, all of our medical care---espcially Dale's---will be handled by new doctors and neurologists.  Oh, the joys of finding new primary care physicians and neurologists and dentists and optometrists and so on and so forth!!!  This is yet another challenge our Heavenly Father has put before me, believing that I will make the decision once again to completely trust Him to know what and when is best.  This is never easy for me; I do not handle change very well.  My first instinct is to get red in the face and scream.  My second instinct closely follows the pattern of the first!  But after I take a deep breath, I deliberately choose to let the stress go.  After venting to my husband who is so good and reminding me to calm down, I am able to say, "All right, God.  Whatever You choose is what I will accept."  His sovereignty is supreme; His ways are unsearchable; His plan is perfect.  Still, please pray for us as we make the transition in insurance that all will go as smoothly as possible.

This also, sadly, means that this is our last day with Rehab Without Walls.  Group Health does not usually contract out with programs like this one, so we are not holding our breath that they will get to continue therapy with Dale after today.  I have been watching their therapy sessions with Dale so that I can learn as much as possible, knowing that a great deal of his recovery now depends on me.  I do not know what our new therapy schedule may be like, where it will be held, or how long it will take before we get it set up.  But "I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12b).  And that means I can trust Him to make sure Dale gets just as much medical care and therapy as he needs to be just what God wants him to be.

My husband has been saying that all along.  God is holding Dale in His hands, and Dale's accident was no accident to Him.  Dale will be exactly who God intends for him to be, and we can trust Him with that.  I am so thankful God gave me Chad for my husband.  That man is so steady and strong, so godly, committed to serving God no matter what.  Chad draws daily on God's strength; I draw strength from his strength; thus, we both are leaning on God for support and guidance.  Another of God's wonderful plans in action!

There have been a few large and several small improvements just since Dale came home from the hospital.  Sometimes it seems we trade one skill learned for another---two steps forward, one step back!  Dale is doing well going to the bathroom (even staying dry at night), but now he forgets to pull his pants down before sitting.  He has not yet had an accident; he just sits there on the toilet wondering why it feels like something isn't right!  I have to cue him to do things in proper order.  He seems to be talking less since coming home, but I think that may be because he has six other people always jumping up to do everything for him.  I have been asking him more to say what he wants rather than point or just answer yes-and-no questions.  His balance is really steady, even going up and down the stairs.  Walking outside (on uneven surfaces) is not much of a challenge for him anymore.  Standing up and sitting down is easily done as well.  He still needs to be cued when feeding himself; he'll take one bite and then sit there until someone tells him to take another bite.  Then, he tries leaning forward and attacking the plate or bowl with his teeth!  We remind him to use his spoon or fork and to chew one bite before taking another.  The other "problem" with food is that Dale is becoming a thief!  He'll walk into the kitchen, pick up whatever looks good, and walk away with it, usually with someone following him saying, "Dale, no---that's mine!"  Sometimes he gives it back; other times, it's just too late.  His sisters have not yet gotten to the point of actually being offended by this, but I'm sure that time is coming.  His mental skills are all still there (reading, writing, math, etc.), but his ability to conentrate on a task until completed is very small.  As my husband said, "He has the attention span of a gnat!"  This is why it takes him (us!) half an hour each morning to get dressed, comb his hair, and brush his teeth.  He winds up having to wait until we get back home after taking the girls to school to get any breakfast.  During the day, I work with him a bit on math or focus skills, but he spends alot of time just resting.  His brain is working so hard to do even the smallest tasks that he tends to feel spent a great deal of the time.  He has been able to attend church with us, but we sit in the overflow room because he cannot sit still.  Even at home, he is continually standing up, then sitting down, lying down on the couch, then sitting back up.  I make sure he gets a short rest break after lunch, having him lie down on the couch and close his eyes.  I'll put a blanket over him and have soft music playing to give him some downtime.  Usually he falls asleep---until the dog barks at some innocuous neighbor and wakes us both up!

Praise the Lord!  We are blessed to have our son alive, healthy, healing, and home.  I appreciate each of you who keep reading this blog and praying along with us for Dale.  Your thoughts and prayers have made a difference in our lives, and we thank you for it.  God bless you!

Romans 11:33-36  "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!  For who hath known the mind of the Lord?  or who hath been His counsellor?  Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?  For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things:  to Whom be glory for ever.  Amen."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Update Monday morning 9/26

Oh, the small---and big---things that make our hearts smile!  Dale has acquired a new trick that keeps us all in stitches.  He gives us "the eyes."  He widens his eyes soooo big when he looks at us; then his expression returns to normal, and he sits back and watches us laugh.  Sometimes he adds a small smile to the huge eyes, and, frankly, that looks a little creepy---which just makes us laugh harder.  He controls this expression at will, so that we do not always know when he will give us "the eyes."  Oh, my crazy son!  We are enjoying seeing the silly side of him come out.

On Saturday morning, we all got to go to the Puyallup Fair again.  We got some extra tickets at the hospital, so the whole family got to go (except our oldest who was working a concession stand/fundraiser at the Husky game).  We walked around for about 2-3 hours and enjoyed some family time together.  And, of course, we indulged in that absolutely delicious and equally unhealthy fair food.  We got some curly fries drenched in ketchup---that was very hard to clean up.  Later, I bought a Blooming Onion for the family to share.  As we were getting ready to go, Dale pointed to an ice cream booth and indicated he wanted some.  Chad bought Dale a double dip of cookies-and-cream, and he managed to eat the whole thing.  This, of course, made the girls feel that Dale was getting special privileges, so I got them some cotton candy.  I realize this sounds like all we did was eat at the fair, and that is pretty much accurate!  We did walk through the Hobby Hall again; I got to see the dollhouses (incredible detail!) and Dale looked at the Legos displays.  We walked through the draft horses barn but soon were overcome with the need for fresh air.  All in all, I'm glad we got to go on a family outing.

Sunday morning started with a surprise.  Chad and I were downstairs in the kitchen talking; the house was quiet because no one else was up yet.  Suddenly, Dale came walking around the corner into the kitchen.  Chad and I both were shocked---he had walked down the stairs all by himself!!!  Dale had made no noise getting out of bed; he had not stumbled or anything coming downstairs.  We were both excited and scared!  Part of me was thinking, "That's wonderful, Dale!" and the other part was screaming, "Don't ever do that again!"  He was fine, of course, and looking at us as if wondering why Dad and Mom were rushing to his side.  Things proceeded normally from there---we had breakfast; Chad and I helped Dale get ready for church; the girls got ready as well.  Chad had walked Dale halfway down the stairs to the landing when he realized we had failed to put any shoes on Dale!  I handed him Dale's shoes; Chad asked Dale to lift his leg to put his foot in, and Dale stumbled backwards a bit.  He was in no danger of falling (the wall was behind him to lean against), but I think being off-balance shook Dale up.  Then Chad had Dale sit on the stairs to put his shoes on, and this may have further agitated his brain.  Everything probably would have been fine, except Dale's brain was presented with one more challenge---trying to get into the truck.  Usually, Chad has Dale brace one hand on the seat and one hand on the grip to help boost himself into the truck.  Dale planted both hands on the seat this time and tried to get into the seat.  Chad could see this would not work and was trying to get Dale to stop, step back, and try again.  But Dale was stuck in the "get-into-the-truck" mode and kept trying.  After a few seconds of throwing everything it could at the challenge, Dale's brain had another spell.  The process was described to us as a "trickle-down" effect; one part of the brain gets over-excited, and this spreads all over the brain, effectively shutting it down for a short while.  Chad was there to hold Dale during the episode and kept telling him over and over, "It's all right now; just rest; I've got you."  He carried Dale back into the house and laid him on the couch.  Dale was fine afterward, just breathing a little heavily, but not scared and crying as at other times.  He went to sleep almost immediately and slept for about an hour; when he awoke, he was fine.  The girls and I went on to church, and Chad stayed home with Dale.  It was good for Chad to see this episode, as he now knows what goes on during the spell, what may have caused it, and what to do afterward.  Dale took it easy the rest of the day, even going to Sunday evening church.  We sat in the overflow room again, and that seems to be the best course of action for now.

Today's therapy session with OT was not as intense due to her concerns that we not overtax Dale physically again so soon after yesterday.  However, she still worked with him on posture, making both hands work together, doing two or three different tasks at once (balancing on the exercise ball while cutting out pictures at the table), and even had him take out the garbage.  This is the only therapy we have today.  I will probably do some things with Dale later on today (maybe read together, work a puzzle, etc.), but I'm glad he was able to participate in OT today.  He works hard each time, even when he is so frustrated or tired that he starts to cry.  He's a tough guy!

The road ahead seems long and uncertain, but we have a God in heaven who cares about every detail of our lives.  Whether we're having a good day, a bad day, or just a day, we know that He is watching us, loving us, helping us, cheering us, encouraging us, shaking His head at us, and holding us.  His grace is sufficient for all our needs.  Yesterday, I was getting bogged down with worries because I had not taken the time to deliberately stop, bow my head, and give those worries to God.  So, naturally, I felt I had to bear them.  After all, there is simply no one else better or more suited to the handling of Dale and his challenges and life's curveballs and my girls' rearing and Chad's needs and the world at large than me---right?  Wrong with a capital W!  My oldest daughter finally took the lunch plate from me and shooed me off, saying, "Mom, go pray."  Thank You, Lord, for letting her see the need for prayer.  Our Lord loves us and hears us.  Just as an eager mother or father will stop everything when their baby begins to babble and will listen with a smile to each incoherent word that baby says, so our Heavenly Father stops everything and bends close and listens to each fumbling word I pray.  What a comfort to know that even when I cannot form a complete sentence, He knows exactly what I mean.  I love you, Lord.

Speaking of complete sentences, Dale caused me and his SP therapist to laugh on Friday when he looked at me, pointed at her, and said, "Can you get her out of here?"  She was not at all offended, simply glad he had put his thoughts into words.  I had to play the heavy and scold him (gently) for being rude, even though she and I both thought he was really just tired and ready to end the session.  I should have told him to give her "the eyes."

Psalm 136:1-26  "O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good:  for His mercy endureth for ever."  Read the rest of the psalm; every verse ends with "for His mercy endureth for ever."  Amen!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Update Thursday morning 9/22

We are HOME!!!  What an indescribable feeling---to finally be home after these weeks of uncertainty, ups and downs, and "side trips" from one hospital to another.  We arrived home Tuesday afternoon around 1:00 p.m.  It took us a while to actually leave Good Sam because ABC called and wanted to do another "quick" interview and film us leaving the building and getting into the van.  As glad as I was to have the opportunity to show again God's healing hand on Dale, I reeeeally just wanted to GO HOME.  However, the interview wrapped up; we were driving home; then, about one minute from our driveway, ABC called again and asked if they could take a few shots of us entering our house.  Dale and I got to drive around for an extra 20 minutes, waiting for the camerman to get to our house!  Finally, all was finished, and we could close the door (literally) on that chapter of our lives and get ready for the next.

On Wednesday morning, the Rehab Without Walls supervisor came by to introduce us to the program.  It was very heartening to talk with the man because he reinforced what we have known all along---that, medically and scientifically, Dale should not be here.  He should have died that day at the beach, and only divine intervention---our amazing, miracle-working God---brought him back.  The water was chilly that day but not cold enough to induce the body-saving-itself technique that some people have been citing.  The rescue workers themselves will tell you that, when they pulled Dale from the water, they believed him to be dead already.  Even during the Life Flight to Portland, the nurses did not believe that he would make it.  They had never seen someone with so low a Glasgow Coma scale number.  It is intensely obvious to those of us who trust our Heavenly Father that His hand has been at work throughout this entire time.  It is even obvious to those who do not believe in God that something (or Someone) supernatural happened at the beach that afternoon and is continuing to happen in our lives.  Our God, Whose hand is mighty to save, listened to the prayers of His people and decided to show the world just what He could do.  And we thank Him every day for His death-defying touch!

Back to Rehab Without Walls---we met the Speech therapist yesterday.  She was able to conduct a short session with Dale but spent more time talking with me, getting a feel for where Dale is and what she can best help him with.  We also met the Occupational therapist.  That session went quite well, I thought.  She had Dale show her what some of his regular chores would be, and then she had him do some of them.  He took out the garbage and unloaded some of the dishes.  He showed her his bedroom, and she was excited to see some items she could use to help Dale coordinate his hands and his thinking, like his Etch-A-Sketch and his modeling clay.  We get to meet the Physical therapist today.  Each therapist will come out about three times a week, and each of those sessions will be about an hour to an hour-and-a-half long.  This schedule gives me time to get the girls to and from school, go shopping if I need to, go to doctor appointments, etc.  We get to work with Rehab Without Walls for a month probably, maybe longer, and then start outpatient therapy, probably back at Good Sam.  We are also looking ahead to getting Dale ready to go back to school, but that will depend on his ability to sit still for longer periods and concentrate more fully on one thing at a time.

Dale got to go to church last night for the first time since August 5th.  So many people came up to shake his hand or give him a hug.  My husband took him to church a few minutes early so that folks could see him; then, right before the service started, I took him into the overflow room (a side room with a speaker so we could still hear the sermon).  This turned out to be a very good idea, because Dale had a hard time sitting still.  Then about five minutes after the sermon started, Dale curled up and went to sleep!  He had had a long day and was rather exhausted.  This nap did not interfere with his night's sleep, either; about an hour after we got home, Dale indicated he wanted to go to bed.  He has slept so well since we got home!  Yet another thing for which to praise the Lord.

It definitely feels great to be able to get back into the "normal" way of life for us---church, ministries, school, homework, extracurricular activities, sleepovers, shopping.  Thank You, thank You, THANK YOU, LORD, for your goodness, your plan, your grace, your people, your love.  I will close with these verses; I may have used them before, but they are so fitting and heartfelt.

Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21, 31  "Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Update Monday night 9/19

Dale's "Performance Day" went fairly well.  He was tired from all the inactivity (!) of Sunday and thus did not perform to his best capabilities, but the therapists have all seen him work hard and know he is well able to go home.  Everyone here has asked us to please come back for visits so that they can reconnect with us and see just how much Dale has improved.

We are scheduled to leave Good Sam around noon tomorrow and head home.  Can you feel my smile zinging through the computer?  We hope to spend tomorrow morning "doing the rounds" and saying goodbye to everyone, staff and patients alike.  Then, it's out the door to breathe free air!!!  Of course, I'm exaggerating just a little, but it certainly is wonderful to know that we are leaving the hospital because Dale is well enough to go home.  Isn't God amazing?

Tonight, I got home just in time to see the finished product of a church family's imagination and love.  They bought a whole bunch of pink flamingos and had fun decorating our house and lawn with them!  I just know Dale will smile BIG when he sees them.

We won't stop updating this blog just because Dale will be leaving the hospital.  I know there are countless people who have been reading these updates and crying and praying right along with us.  We want you to be able to continue rejoicing over God's ongoing miraculous healing of our son just as we will.  Again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the thoughts, prayers, love, meals, gifts, money, and more that have been so generously and consistently sent our way by so many.  You are as much a part of this miracle as those we see every day.  And, lest I seem remiss, I want to say a big, heartfelt "thank you" to each doctor, each nurse, every theraptist, every aide, and all who have been a part of Dale's recovery.  Without you, we would have been at a loss to know what to do to help Dale gain this much ground.  I believe God put you all right where we needed you so that you, too, could be part of His incredible work in our son.  God bless you all over and over.

Luke 15: 22 - 24  "But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:  And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  And they began to be merry."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Update Sunday night 9/18

Only two more days until Dale gets to go home!!!  We have been housecleaning like crazy, trying to get everything ready for Dale's homecoming.  Do you know how much stuff you acquire just being in a hospital?  And he's been in three!  After we get Dale home and our new schedule starts (with in-home rehab), we are going to have to seriously get rid of junk.  Not, of course, any of the wonderful cards and gifts people have so thoughtfully provided for Dale and his sisters---just some of the regular, piled-up, "we've had this stuff way too long and what does it do anyway" junk!

I know we've stated that every day Dale is getting better and better, but it's true.  On Friday, Dale actually told his SP therapist, "Bye, Erina," without being prompted.  The only other time he has used her name is after he and I practiced it.  He also made the OT therapist's day.  All week in SP Dale has been practicing making faces in a mirror.  This helps him see how straight his face normally looks and how he can change it to show pleasure at seeing someone (or sadness, anger, surprise, etc.).  The OT guy, Kirk, has been asking Dale every day to show him a smile.  He'd say, "Dale, I'll let you out of class early if you'll smile for me."  Dale never would, even shaking his head in response to Kirk's plea.  On Friday, Kirk tried his standard line.  Dale looked at him and turned the corners of his mouth up a little.  We both thought that was nice---then Dale widened his mouth in a full smile!  Kirk was thrilled!  Praise God, I get to see my son smile again!

Tomorrow is Dale's "Performance Day."  The day before a patient is discharged, they get to have Performance Day and show off how much they've improved since they've arrived.  I've seen other patients who, when they arrived, could not walk on their own, had difficulty feeding themselves, etc.  As they get closer to their discharge date, they begin walking into the dining room under their own power, their faces get brighter, and they obviously are feeling more confident about going home.  Tomorrow is Dale's chance to shine.  Other patients, nurses, and staff have been commenting on how well Dale is doing and how good he looks.  He still shakes some when he's concentrating on doing something, usually with his hands (brushing his teeth, feeding himself), but I think he's learning to steady himself.  He initiates speech voluntarily more now; his balance while standing, walking, and bending over is great; he is spending time building muscle tone and strength; and he is working on improving his concentration level.  I think he's ready to go home!

We were informed that our insurance has approved Rehab Without Walls, so the next step in Dale's rehabilitation is in place.  He will be discharged from Good Sam on Tuesday and Rehab Without Walls will begin on Wednesday so that there will be no disruption in his therapy schedule.  I'm not sure exactly what our new schedule will entail, but I'm looking forward to it!  Being able to have in-home rehab therapy is convenient for us (to say the least), but it will also enable Dale to work on PT, OT, and SP while surrounded by the wonderful familiarity of home.  What a comforting word that is---home.  If I'm this calmed just by thinking of being able to be in my own home here on earth, how much more complete will I feel once I am at home in Heaven?  'Tis a powerful thought.

This morning, Katie (second oldest) was with Dale, and he asked her a leading question.  He asked, "How did I get here?"  She wasn't sure at first what he meant, so she asked, "You in the hospital?"  He nodded his head.  We have at various times told Dale bits and pieces of what happened, basically telling him that he had had an accident at the beach but that he was safe now and in the hospital.  This morning I guess he wanted more information.  Katie did a fine job of answering him without panicking him.  She told him they were all on a teen activity in Long Beach, WA, having fun, when he had an accident in the water.  And since he was under water for so long, he had had to be taken to three different hospitals.  She went on to tell about the different hospitals, effectively changing the subject for the time being.  Later, when she told Dad about Dale's question and her response, Chad was able to talk to Dale more.  Chad told Dale that he had been in the water for a long time and the rescue response team had had to do CPR before taking him to the first hospital.  I believe Chad also explained in simple terms what each hospital did for him (breathing, urgent care, basic medical attention, rehab), and Dale was able to listen, I think, through the whole explanation.  This will probably not be the last time Dale wonders where several weeks of his life went, but, with God's grace, we will be able to answer his questions and retell the tale of God's goodness, His healing power, and the miraculous answers to prayer that are evident each time Dale draws a breath.

Psalm 150: 1-6  "Praise ye the LORD.  Praise God in His sanctuary:  praise Him in the firmament of His power.  Praise Him for His mighty acts:  praise Him according to His excellent greatness.  Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet:  praise Him with the psaltery and harp.  Praise Him with the timbrel and dance:  praise Him with stringed instruments and organs.  Praise Him upon the loud cymbals:  praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.  Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.  Praise ye the LORD."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Update Thursday afternoon 9/15

We had alot of fun today!  The TR therapist, Dale, and I went to the Puyallup Fair---which just happens to be located right across the highway from the hospital.  We were able to go and walk around for about 2 1/2 hours, and going first thing in the morning meant that there were fewer people at the fair.  Dale seemed to really enjoy being out of the hospital and in a fun environment.  He got to pet a 3-day-old piglet and a goat; we walked around the Hobby Hall with its interesting collections of Legos, Star Wars figures, and china (that one was mine); we shared an elephant ear with raspberry jam.  Dale did so well walking around even though the terrain was uneven; he even climbed up onto one of the giant hand-shaped chairs.  We got a picture of that!

But the best part of the day came as we were headed for the exit gate.  We passed by a concert in progress featuring "Billy and the Hillbillies" (true hoe-down music!) and stopped to listen.  Dale started grinning and clapping along with the music!  He kind of bobbed up and down and tried stomping his foot, smiling all the while.  This was the happiest I have seen him in a long time, and his pleasure was our joy to behold.  I'm sure people around us were wondering why the therapist and I were egging Dale on to act silly, but we were loving it!!!

Even though he was soooo tired from his morning at the fair, Dale really tried to work hard during his therapy classes this afternoon.  He was extra fidgety and had a difficult time concentrating during Speech, but he still did great.  PT had him walking down stairs and working out with the weight machines, building muscle tone.  OT wanted him to draw a shape and then cut it out.  He made things harder on himself by drawing small shapes which were, of course, harder to cut out, but he finally managed it.

He is right now enjoying a well-deserved and much-needed rest of both body and brain before dinner.  Praise the Lord for His goodness!  Six weeks ago, we were certain we would have to say goodbye to our son, and today, we walked around the fair with him and saw him smile!!!  God is so good---six weeks ago and today and always.

John 14:27  "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:  not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Update Monday night 9/12

Well, it was definitely Monday today!  Dale seemed tired and somewhat "off" all day.  He didn't actively rebel; he just didn't fully participate in some of his therapy classes.  I think this is partly due to Sunday being such a lazy day and partly due to his digestive tract acting up.  (Read what you will into that!)

Speech went well, though.  Dale's therapist had a few computer games for him to try.  Whoo-hoo!  These games are set up to respond to Dale's voice only; he had to make the effort to speak into the microphone in order to get the characters to move.  What a brilliant and fun idea!  Dale really liked doing this, even to the point of sustaining his voice through a long sound ("aaaahhhhh") and increasing the volume ("AAAHHHH") while trying to move the character to win the game.  Ever since we got here, Dale has been trying to get to a computer to play some games; it's been comical to watch him grab at a mouse or try to type on the keyboard (which is key-code locked).  Today, he got his wish---and loved it!

PT was pretty uplifting, too, because the therapist had Dale practice getting into our van.  We were unsure how Dale would do climbing into the van and adjusting his seatbelt.  How silly of us!!!  Dale climbed right in, settled himself in the seat, and looked at us.  You could almost hear him thinking, "Was this some kind of test?"  We then instructed him to fasten his seatbelt which he did with ease.  I had to quickly remind him that this was just practice because he looked so expectant.  He is sooooo ready to go home.  We keep counting down the days---8 more to go!

The van practice time also assured me that getting Dale home and in his natural environment is definitely the next, right step in his rehabilitation.  I believe that, once Dale is home and surrounded by familiar things, he will progress so much the more.  I can't wait!  Having said that, I pray daily that the Lord will help me be patient and trust Him and His timing.  Not only are we here at Good Sam for Dale's sake, but God may have us here for someone else's sake.  I do not have the time or space to tell you of all the people whom we have had tell us that they have been praying for Dale and our family---not knowing us, but having seen his story on TV or in the papers.  Just today during PT, we were walking down the hall and a lady on her phone started to pass us.  She stopped, told the caller to hang on, and said to me, "I just want you to know that we are praying for you."  I had never seen her before and may never again, but she blessed my heart with her words.  The other day in the PT gym, one of the therapists told us that an outpatient had seen Dale in the gym earlier in the week and wanted to do something special for him.  This person made some (excellent!) baklava for us and left it with the other therapist to give to us.  How incredibly kind!  We enjoyed every bite of their thoughtfulness!

Wherever we are, whatever we encounter, we are in God's hands---and there's no safer place to be.

Ephesians 3:20 - 21  "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Update Saturday afternoon 9/10

Dale had a really good day on Friday.  In Speech, he made his therapist very happy when he looked at her and said, "Hi, Erina."  She broke out in a huge smile and said, "Hi, Dale!"  His Speech class went very well after that; he seems to do his best when he gets Speech first thing in the morning (when he is freshest).  He was writing things down as well---in cursive!---for the times we could not understand the word he was using.  He was also upgraded to thin liquids!!!  This is the last step toward a regular diet for him.  Last week during the swallow study, Dale would allow thin liquids (water) to penetrate his airway without noticing it.  Today, he took several small sips of water easily, only coughing on the last one.  But he gave a good enough cough that the therapist felt that he was now noticing if something went down the wrong pipe and would continue to cough until the airway was cleared.  YES!!!

In PT, the therapist and I were pleased by Dale's control and balance.  He seemed to have an easier time releasing the bean bags during the session, something that has been plaguing him for a while.  Today again his release mechanism seemed to be working better and he seemed to be able to stay on task a little longer without prompting.

During OT this afternoon, Dale was working at the "assembly line" task project, picking up a metal pin and fitting it with a black piece before capping it with a white piece.  Then he needed to put the assembled project into one of a series of holes on a turntable.  At first, the turntable was still, and Dale could somewhat easily put the completed set into the hole.  Then, the therapist had Dale turn on the machine, causing the turntable to rotate.  Dale was supposed to assemble the set in his hands, then fit the metal pin into the moving turntable holes.  Instead, he actually managed to put a metal pin in a hole, fit a black spool over it, and cap it with the white piece before the turntable rotated out of reach!  Although we all laughed over Dale's way of getting around the rules, the therapist made Dale do it correctly before he called the project a success!

For me, the biggest joy was actually getting to see my son smile and laugh!!!  Chad came into the room yesterday afternoon while I had Dale doing a connect-the-dots worksheet.  I had told Dale that, even though the puzzle was rather simple in nature, the concentration required to complete the worksheet would help him.  He had to connect the dots from point A to point Z.  When Chad asked if Dale was too tired, I replied that he needed to concentrate and finish the task.  Chad responded, "Hey, Dale.  You can even cuss if you want.  You can FO-CUS."  I just looked at my husband, but Dale got a huge grin on his face and LAUGHED!  He sobered up for a few seconds and then grinned and laughed again.  Was I ever delighted!  I had just a few days ago said that I was so looking forward to when Dale could readily smile and laugh again, and then God blessed my heart with seeing him do just that.  What a wonderful God we have Who cares about the small things as well as the big things.  He truly is awesome.

I know we've said this before, but we are truly thankful to all of you who have been thinking of us, praying for us, sending such thoughtful cards and letters, providing us with meals and goodies, and making us feel God's love through you.  You have helped make this event-filled time one of love and hope by your care.

II Corinthians 2:14-15  "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.  For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Update Thursday night 9/8

Dale had a good day today although he was rather tired.  From what the doctors say, having any kind of overactive brain activity causes exhaustion.  The neurologist came to see Dale at breakfast this morning.  He performed all sorts of visual and sensory tests and asked pertinent questions.  He informed us that the EEG results were normal; there were no signs of seizure visible on the readout.  He reiterated the decision not to formally call it a seizure because Dale has not been diagnosed with epilepsy, nor does he have a "history" of seizures.  The doctor said he likes to call them "events" and that this is indeed just a result of the traumatic brain injury Dale sustained.  He said the event is just a symptom of what the brain is going through while Dale is healing; the seizure itself is not doing further injury to Dale's brain.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!  We asked for them not to put another IV in Dale or begin anti-seizure meds because we feel these are just isolated events, not something worth the side effects that anti-seizure meds may cause.  At first, the doctors were going to insist on beginning meds just in case, but this morning the neurologist agreed with our decision, saying he did not want to medicate just yet.  Of course, should Dale suffer another episode in the next few days, that would change how we proceed.

Today, despite being somewhat tired, Dale got to go on an outing to Baskin Robbins!  This had already been planned and was actually a bit of a reward for continuing to work hard today after yesterday's drama.  He stared at all the choices for a long time but was finally able to decide on mint chocolate chip---which he managed to say (mouth) to the server!  Again, praise the Lord for small/BIG things.  We are looking forward to each day just waiting to see what our God is going to do next.

Galatians 1:3-5  "Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father, To whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen."   

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Update Wednesday afternoon 9/7

The past few days have been filled with ups and downs.  Anyone who has been in rehab or has had a loved one in rehab knows what I mean!

On Saturday, they took Dale's PICC line out!  Whoo-hoo!  We were very happy to see this big step forward.  This means that they do not anticipate needing an active port any more.  Sundays are the rehab center's "day off"; to Dale, this meant he got to sleep waaaay in and just laze about.  He seemed to like it!

On Monday (Labor Day), the Theraputic Recreation therapist (TR) took Dale and all of us on an outing to the nearby park.  Dale, his dad, sister Ashley, and the TR walked along the trails enjoying nature while I took the youngest to the little playground and the older girls just hung out.  It was beautiful weather and a most enjoyable outing for us all.

Tuesday was filled with the usual:  waking Dale up and helping him get ready for the day (OT does this), lots of PT, watching for any signs of "he couldn't do that last week", enjoying talking with the different people also at rehab, and praising God for His goodness.  I've had several people tell me the Good Morning America interview looked very good---I haven't had a chance to see it yet!  Don't worry; I DVR'd it.  (Is that even a word?)

Wednesday started out fine.  Dale ate breakfast and went to Speech.  He did well getting his voice out when he tried, sometimes after three tries and sometimes after just one try.  Then, for PT, we were outside walking around the grounds and climbing up and down stairs.  We were headed back to the rehab floor and just needed to go down one more set of stairs.  About halfway down, Dale locked his hands around the rail and wouldn't let go.  It only took the therapist a few seconds to realize he was having an episode like he's had a few times before at Doernbecher.  The doctor is technically terming it a seizure although I know that tends to have a negative connotation.  Thank God, the PT had hold of the gate belt and Dale's hands were gripping the rail pretty tightly so that he did not fall.  This only lasted a minute and then he became aware of things again.  He was pretty shook up, and, once back in his room, the doctors ran blood tests to check everything out (all looks well).  His oxygen level was good; his breathing was a little rough at first, but then he began to cry and naturally took in big gulps of air which helped.  After a while he fell asleep and slept for a short time.  Upon awaking, he was fine---got up, walked to the bathroom, sat in a chair afterward, answered my questions.  We took things easy the rest of the day, but he seems to have no ill effects from the seizure.  This may or may not affect his medical team's discharge date (currently 2 weeks from now), but we would certainly covet all prayers for Dale's continued recovery.

It's hard to see or understand God's perfect plan at times.  I prefer having my future all mapped out and carefully charted.  I thank God for the episode today reminding me to leave things to His control.  We have been so focused on getting Dale home that we sometimes forget God's timing.  Dale is at Good Sam for as long as God wants him there.  I told God today, "I'm handing you back the pencil, the paintbrush, the scissors, the glue of Dale's life.  YOUR will be done."  I'm sure I'll have to repeat that all over again tomorrow morning---or even tonight!---but it's good to know HE is in control.  Because I can trust safely in Him, I can let go of my tomorrows, Dale's tomorrows, my girls' tomorrows, my husband's tomorrows.  He is God, and He is good.

Psalm 72:18-19  "Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.  And blessed be his glorious name for ever:  and let the whole earth be filled with his glory: Amen, and Amen."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Update Thursday afternoon 9/1

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for our son.  We know God is hearing your prayers on Dale's behalf and is answering them daily.

The past few days have been busy and wonderful.  Some days it seems Dale's improvements are tiny and some days they are huge.  We are thankful for both kinds!  On Tuesday, Dale's occupational therapist (from now on OT) wanted to test his memory skills.  She brought out a game that had big cards with objects pictured on them and smaller individual cards that matched the big cards.  Dale was supposed to look at the big card for a moment; then the OT put the card face down on the table and told Dale to pick the smaller cards that matched the big card.  He absolutely refused to do it!  The picture was a "See Jane run"-type of drawing of a girl and a boy.  Dale would not pick up the girl card; he kept choosing the boy and a dog.  When the OT tried to show him the difference between the girl on the big card and the dog card he was holding, Dale simply put the dog over the girl on the big card!  At first we thought he was having trouble recognizing the objects, but he made it obvious he considered this beneath him.  The OT conducted another activity with Dale, and he did great.  She then pulled out the first game and he again routinely chose something other than what was pictured---he simply changed the picture to what he wanted!  He can be a stinker!

On Wednesday, the doctors conducted another swallow study with Dale.  He was tested on all types of food and drink, and he passed everything except thin liquids (water consistency).  So his meals now look and taste more appetizing, and he can drink nectar-thick liquids using a straw!  This helps him want to eat and drink which shows the speech therapist (SP) improvement just in the week that he has been at Good Sam.

Today our schedule was completely rearranged because Good Morning America was here filming Dale as he went through his therapy classes and interviewing us afterward.  My husband and I prayed about the interview before even agreeing and also to ask God's help in our actions and words today (and every day).  I believe the taping was successful and will give people a chance to see God's miracle in progress.  We were asked what one thing we have been most excited to see as Dale progresses.  Our answer:  There's simply no way to choose just one thing.  Less than a month ago, he was carried lifeless from the ocean.  Today he dressed himself, brushed his teeth, and fed himself.  He can climb stairs, walk up and down the hallways, use the bathroom properly (usually!), build Legos, read, write, count, speak (some words), and countless myriad things we take for granted every day.  Each of these things is exciting and we praise God continually for all He does.  By the way, if you want to see the interview, it will air Tuesday morning.

Again, thank you for all your prayers, love, support, cards, letters, gifts, and more that you have poured out to our family.  We are so blessed to have been the recipients of such care and concern.  May God always be uplifted and glorified in all our hearts, every hour of every day, rain or shine, good times or bad.  After all, He is Lord---and He is good.  Kirsten

Psalm 18:46  "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."