First, let me say a heartfelt "thank you" to all who read this blog and have been following Dale's story. It is impossible to express fully how deeply we appreciate your care, your prayers, your donations, and your comments. I read each comment posted and thank God for each one of you wonderful people. I know how busy life can get, and the fact that you take the time to check for updates and pray for us and leave encouraging thoughts means so much to our family. God bless you from the bottom of our hearts.
Second, I feel I need to apologize for whining as of late. A preacher once said, "Stress is caused by thinking about yourself." I have been indulging in way too much self-pity and self-concern over the past few weeks, and it has been coming out in this blog, in the way I care for Dale, and in the way I treat the rest of my family. Yesterday and today I have been down with a migraine (at the moment it is being held at bay with lovely medicine), partly caused, I believe, by my focusing on my circumstances and not on my God Who is bigger than my circumstances. I guess I feel like Peter did, looking at the waves crashing around me rather than at Jesus Who is bidding me to trust Him and walk by faith. We have a great, big, wonderful God Whose arms are mighty to save---and yet sometimes we choose to pull all our burdens down onto our own shoulders and try to stagger through our days without Him. He has shown us that He is able to carry us and our burdens easily, and we fail to accept His offer. No wonder I get depressed! God did not create me with the ability to handle, carry, manage, or orchestrate my own existence, yet I try (and fail) to do just that. He created me with the ability---nay, the need---to lean on Him through life's calm seas and wildest storms, trusting Him as the wise Captain of my vessel. Once again, I choose to trust Him. Once again, I deliberately relinquish all control to His capable hands. Once again, I feel like crying in relief as I feel the burdens being lifted off my bowed shoulders so that I can straighten fully, breathe deeply, and use His strength to keep walking this path that God, in His unsearchable knowledge and wisdom, has deemed me worthy to tread. Thank You, my Lord, for letting our family be a part of Your wonderful design.
Saturday: Dale had a small accident. Not the "he did't make it to the bathroom in time" kind but the "he fell down the stairs" kind. Chad and I were downstairs in another room, and Dale was on the couch watching TV---we thought. Next thing we know, we hear this thump-thump-thump coming from the stairway. Now, on occasion, the girls have felt it necessary to drag their laundry hampers down the stairs, step by step, thumping the basket all the way down. This is what the noise sounded like, and this is how we responded. My husband called, "Girls, get off the stairs!" Then, we heard feet pounding down the steps, and Ashley called out, "MOM, DAD, COME QUICK!" This, of course, propelled both of us into high gear, realizing the thumping hadn't come from the girls. We found Dale at the bottom of the stairs, lying on his side, in the middle of another seizure-like episode. What we think happened is that he attempted to climb the stairs on his own and only got part-way up before missing a step. Maybe his toe caught the next step going up, and he couldn't get his balance and so fell. Our stairs have seven steps and then a small landing before turning to go up seven more steps, so we don't think he was all the way up the stairs before he fell. It seemed like Dale was trying so hard to get his balance while falling that his brain glitched and produced another spell, although it is possible that he began having the episode on the stairs which caused him to fall down them. At any rate, Chad and I sent the girls back upstairs until Dale was stable again. We made him comfortable on the floor, putting a pillow under his head and holding him until the shaking stopped and his breathing resumed normal patterns again. Once the episode had stopped, Chad picked Dale up and laid him on the couch so that he could rest. Dale slept for a while, his usual after-episode response. When he awoke, we asked him if he hurt anywhere; we had already checked for any lumps or broken bones, of course. He was sore, I think, and a bit teary the rest of the day, as well as extra tired, but overall I think he fared okay. My next stop was Wal-Mart where I bought a child safety gate to go at the bottom of the stairs when Dale is downstairs and at the top of the stairs during the night---just in case. Dale was well enough to attend church Sunday, even sat in his Sunday School class for the first hour before Chad brought him in the auditorium to sit with us for the main service. (The teens attend the auditorium service at 11:00 a.m. anyway.) The rest of the day went well: Sunday evening service and Jack-in-the-Box's pumpkin pie shakes for a special treat afterwards!!! If you have not yet tried one, you don't know what you're missing. They are outstanding!
Today, Dale has his first PT appointment with the new therapist. I'm hoping and praying she will be exactly what Dale needs to keep him going. This morning Dale woke up very well and was very alert while getting dressed. However, teeth-brushing time was rather loud. His vocals, not mine. He finished and was able to eat breakfast. I took advantage of the fact that he was already seated at the table to work on a bit of SP (identifying various items in a picture by clues given or questions asked) and also to play with some dice. No, I did not teach him to gamble (kidding); I asked him to pick out which dice would equal a stated amount. After rolling the dice several times and picking out answers, Dale stood up---he was done! At least now he is answering verbally (short answers) sometimes as well as showing the answers.
Last but not least, here's a funny for you: Friday, I think, we were in the van and I was getting the girls home from school. We had to stop at the library so my second oldest could run in, return an overdue item, and pick up a book for a book check on Monday. To quiet the younger ones who felt having to sit in the car and miss the splendors of the library on this particular occasion was simply unbearable, I fished around in my purse for some candy to give them. I gave Ashley and Emily each a piece, then unwrapped a Tootsie Roll for Dale to chew on. After a minute, Ashley said with some alarm, "Mom, is that blood on Dale's mouth?" I couldnt' be certain and was in no position (literally) to physically check if he bit his tongue or cheek, so I opted to wait until we got home to see. Once there, I asked Dale to open his mouth so I could look. When Chad and I looked inside, we saw a white object kind of washing around in there. Chad said, "Is that a tooth?" I grabbed a tissue and fished it out, thinking with dread that one of Dale's teeth had cracked and was falling out. No sooner had I fished out the one piece when Chad said, "There's another one!" I managed to get that one, too, without Dale biting down on my fingers. Now we were really concerned. You know those dreams you have where your teeth fall out for no reason? Yikes! Upon examination, we determined that these were both baby teeth (molars) and were ready and waiting for something to pull them out of Dale's gums. Tootsie Roll to the rescue! Talk about a scary event. I've been concerned about the health of Dale's teeth anyway, just because he spent so long in the hospital, unable to properly brush his teeth (although the nurses did a good job of using a germ-fighting mouthwash). I checked his mouth again this morning after he brushed his teeth, and, sure enough, both adult teeth are already growing in. So, praise the Lord for Tootsie Rolls---a dentist in a wrapper! HA! And the dentist says candy is "bad" for your teeth! :-)
Psalm 37:23-25 "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."