Monday, November 14, 2011

Update Monday morning 11/14

Thank you to everyone for your patience while waiting for updates.  I'm sure you are tired of hearing my poor excuses for not updating more regularly; please accept one more apology!  I keep thinking, "I need to update the blog"---and that's about as far as I get.  It's not that nothing has been happening; it's just that (1) I don't think you want to hear every excruciating detail of our lives (you know, like when the dog throws up from eating off someone's plate illegally or when the dryer screams because a shoelace got stuck in between the tub and the wall) and (2) I want to be sure to share more positive news than negative.  Mind you, it would be very easy to state only negative thoughts.  Our family's struggles with Dale's condition and Dale's struggles with learning to think and move again are constant.  There are no "days off"; there are no days where we forget what happened, mainly because it is still happening.  This is his life and our lives now, and we are still adjusting to the challenges each day brings.

My second oldest, Katie, broke down last night in tears, saying, "I miss Dale.  I miss his stutter while trying to talk too fast."  This, of course, brought me to tears, so we held each other and cried for a bit.  The simple truth is Dale is different, and, as a result, we are different.  I don't mean to sound whiny or complaining, but it's true---things are different now and we are still uncertain if things will ever be normal again.  I know in a very real sense that life will never return to the same state as before.  Mine and Chad's awareness of our children has been heightened, and that will never go away.  They thought we were overprotective and cautious before!  My girls are lucky I let them even out of my sight now.  Our daughters will always remember that day at the beach and the subsequent days in the hospital.  Their outlooks are permanently changed because of Dale's accident.  They no longer have the innocence of believing no harm will ever befall them simply because it hasn't yet.  Their lives, their faith, their inmost beings have been impacted, and there is no going back.  My oldest daughter, Amanda, who is seventeen now, felt the brunt of the guilt and remorse over Dale's being injured.  She, being the oldest, felt she should have protected him and kept him safe.  She told me she had kept an eye on him all day, and then, the minute she relaxed and let herself get involved in a game with some friends, he got pulled under.  When she heard the shouting, she immediately scanned the area for Dale and could not find him.  She will never get over the feeling of lying prostrate on the sand, begging God to find her brother.  My second daughter, Katie, who is fourteen, was also present that day at the ocean.  She described to me how her friend's brother came running over to them, screaming at them to get out of the water.  They looked at him in confusion because they were not that far out; they thought he was overreacting.  He was the one who told Katie, "It's your brother who is missing!"  She stumbled out of the water, looking around wildly for Dale, realizing he was nowhere in sight.  She, too, began praying and begging God to save Dale.  They watched as the rescue personnel began criss-crossing the waves, looking for any sign of him.  Agonizing minutes ticked by, hope trickling away, a knot in their stomachs as the knowledge pressed in on their frightened senses---it was taking too long.  Then the jet skis converged on one area, and they saw Dale's body pulled from the ocean.  My girls watched Dale's lifeless body be carried ashore, watched the EMTs begin working to find some sign of life.  They will never forget how cold Dale looked, how pale his skin was, how desperately the EMTs performed CPR, trying to restore Dale's breathing and pulse.  They will always have these memories emblazoned into their subconcious.  My third daughter, Ashley, who is ten years old, did alot of growing up this summer.  She was the one so scared when Dad picked them up from our friend's house in the middle of the night.  He told her there had been an accident at the beach and Dale was in the hospital very ill; she wanted to ask him more but was afraid it would hurt her Daddy to have to talk about it.  She could tell something was seriously wrong.  Not until Chad brought them to Doernbecher the next morning could I talk to her and explain what had happened.  Tears burned in her eyes as she asked me, "You mean Dale could already be in Heaven?"  I had to answer honestly, "It's possible."  At that point, Dale was still in a coma and unresponsive.  During those next hard days, it was Ashley who drifted silently in and out of the PICU, sitting quietly by Dale's bedside or holding his hand, then returning to the waiting room where she assumed responsibility for helping Emily, our youngest and only five, to pass the time by coloring get well posters for Dale or playing games with her.  Even Emily, young and unable to process all that had happened to Dale, understood that he was very ill and needed lots of prayer.  She still wants to be the baby of the family and sometimes gets frustrated because I have to spend more time with Dale now, thus limiting my time with her.  I have put effort into making Dale's routine workable for the rest of the family.  My husband, the tower of strength that he is, struggles daily with the fact that his son, his only son, may never leave home.  Dale might be with us the rest of his life, never fully able to care for himself, never holding a job, never marrying.  And, while we thank God for giving us back our son, the thought of the unknown future weighs heavily on both mine and Chad's hearts.  This "accident"---for we know nothing is accidental with God---has most definitely changed our lives forever.  We know "all things work together for good"; some days we can see that more clearly than others.  Please continue to pray for us---all of us---as we step forward into this new future God has prepared for us.

On a happy note, Dale's increased therapy times (we are now up to four a week, two SP and two PT) seem to be helping him already.  He is more willing to speak to express his needs and desires.  He still screams some, but that has decreased in the past week.  SP therapy is working with him to increase his endurance levels and concentration.  She started him off with just a question or two to answer, then increased the amount to five questions without taking a break.  Dale is now working up to answering ten questions or doing ten simple activities without stopping or crying.  He is reading more now in SP and thinking of correct answers very well.  He is also doing well in PT.  His physical endurance level is increasing, as well as his ability/desire to continue working at something even though he is tired and wants to stop.  These signs are indeed positive and encouraging.  Our case manager has done an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes work to arrange all the therapy Dale needs, as well as appointments with the doctor, neurologist, physiatrist, etc.  Praise the Lord---I would be sunk without her!

You know, God is good no matter what.  He is good if the sun shines; He is good if the wind blows; He is good if the crops fail; He is good if the harvest is bountiful.  Our God deserves our praise, our love, our devotion, our honor.  I am so glad God chose to save a sinner like me!  HE IS GOOD!!!

Proverbs 3:5-6  "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."


  1. Hello:
    Thank you for the update. I had assumed that your too oldest where there, and that they must have had an overwhelming sense of guilt. Since Dale is 12, I also assumed that this was probably one of his first (if not his first) youth group outings. I can just imagine the guilt the entire youth group must have felt, from the leaders on down.
    Just remember, don't underestimate the power of The Lord. If he can save this worthless sinner, he certainly can heal Dale completely.
    My prayers continue for you and your family.
    Here is another joke for Dale:
    "Why did God make Gorillas' nostrils so big?"
    "So their fingers can fit."

  2. I hope you will continue to post updates. Dale (and your family) have been an inspiration to everyone. I hold my kids close every night and appreciate them each day more than the day some ways because of your story.
    My family will continue to pray for yours.

    The Reicharts in S.C.

  3. Hi, last night I was watching 20/20 and saw the Gabby Giffords story, she was the congress woman that was shot in Tucson. It has been 10 months since her accident and she is still making amazing progress in her recovery. I know that God has a plan for Dale, he is a very special young man, being raised by an awesome family. It gave me hope for you all after seeing her story, I keep you all in my prayers every day. <3

  4. I read every post you write and am very touched by many of them. But this one really got me. I can relate with your daughters on a certian level. My brother passed when he was 16, I was 18. He had cancer that progressed very quickly. He was my best friend and not a day went by that we were together. I was thrown in to a deep depression after his death because he was that one constant in my life that I knew I couldn't live without. I did not grow up in a Christian household so I didn't know that God could comfort me. I pray that your girls will allow God to use them and what they've been through to bring Him glory. One day they will be on the other side of all the feelings they have now and will be able to share their story with someone and possibly change their life! God is so good and while we don't know why He allows certian thing sto happen we can trust that He DOES know what He is doing :)

    You're doing a great job!!

  5. Father, help these wonderful girls and this dynamic Dad and Mom to remember that life isn't about being "safe." May they be freed from the second-guessing that Satan would use to cripple them. May they be free to focus on "what" has happened and "how" to walk with you through it rather than becoming imprisoned with the dark drumbeats of "why" and "what-if" and "if-only." And, Father, if it would best represent you and your Kingdom, would you pass your Spirit over this boy who brought laughter when he stuttered when he talked too fast and cause him to waken and come back home to those who love him and who are ready to walk with him even if you choose to say "no" to my plea. Let them see the "I'm here and I'm glad" sparkle in his eyes. Let them groan again at his jokes and be surprised at his insights. Please, let him live to take new risks of great importance for the Name of Jesus.

  6. I love Mr. Comings' prayer. I love to hear that Dale is improving. My prayer is, every morning, that God will restore Dale to the same conditon he was before the accident. The people that have seen God more clearly and are prayer more ferverntely because of this means God is working through Dale, we will all see our prayers answered in their fullness and Dale will once again "stutter" and be a special person blessed and chosen by God for something we might not now or ever, fully understand. And the faith of Dale's family, God using them in His plan too,because it is helping me to accept WHATEVER God sends my way because in the end, through my struggles on earth, the reward is eternity with HIm, and I feel stronger because of Dale and his family. God bless you all!

  7. Thank you soooo much for sharing this emotional post! For the first time since this blog was created I feel like you weren't just giving a play by play but you were actually speaking from your heart and soul. I ask that you consider doing this more often as it really teaches us all that even with Gods love its okay to have human feelings and emotions. It is okay to be angry, sad, depressed, worried, and even happy! Rejoicing in your son's survival has always been the context of your blog but to see the mourning of the parts of Dale you lost is a human reaction and I am sooooo proud and thankful that you were able to share these tough emotions with us. You have proven that you do your best to stay positive and to keep the Lord's will first in your life and that you walk in your faith and now you have proven that even though you have these strong Christian convictions that you are human and it is okay for each of us to feel, that we arent failing our Lord, or our families by having less grateful emotions. He did not plan for Dale to be pulled under, God does not injure His children or bring sickness to them, but when these things caused by our own free will happen, He is there to hold our hands and to keep us on the path He already had in mind for our lives. His vision for us does not change. It was created when He created everything else. Dale will heal, he will become independant once again. I agree with the person who posted about Gabby Giffords, she had a brain injury and she is doing very well, it takes time and when you look at a calendar Dale is really a "baby" in recovery. As time moves on Dale will go through the mourning process of losing parts of himself and growing old overnight, but he will also rejoice in that growing and continue to follow God's light! God is so good! Allow yourselves to feel and experience and be human and do it all in His name!
    Thanks again for this beautiful, raw, post!