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 people.....in 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."