Praise be to our God! Nothing but good news on this front. Allow me to enumerate:
(1) We have had almost no school this week! YES!!! :-D Due to the wild and scary weather we've had this week, almost all schools in our area have been closed for most of the week. We had a 2-hour late start on Tuesday (groan, complain); then, school was cancelled Tuesday night for Wednesday, Wednesday night for Thursday, and Thursday night for Friday. And there was great rejoicing heard across the region! Seriously, the roads have been bad or worse since Tuesday night. Snow, snow, and more snow, followed by ice, ice, and more ice. We figured they would cancel school for Wednesday due to the weatherman's predictions. Then, on Wednesday, the roads, which were already slick and snowy, iced over and became layered with ice and more snow. We couldn't even make it to church because the roads were impassable. On top of that, around 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, our power went out and stayed out for about 2 1/2 hours. We had some great family fun time, gathered in the living room, reading Mad Libs and scary stories and answering trivia questions. When we finally got through to the school hotline (even our cell phones wouldn't work for a while), we discovered that school was cancelled for Thursday. Finally, the power came back on and we had a snack and went to bed. Thursday morning about 6:00 a.m., the power went out again and didn't come back on until 10:00 a.m. I let the kids sleep in a bit, then woke them up and instructed them to dress warmly because there was no heat in the house. My husband, brave soul, cleared off the driveway, then took his heavy truck to Safeway to get some much-needed groceries so we wouldn't starve. He got stuff like bagels, fruit, and such that would not need to be cooked---in case the power stayed out for a long time. When power was restored, we immediately began cooking and doing laundry in the hope that we could beat the next power outage. Though the lights flickered several times and actually went out completely for a few seconds, we never fully lost power for any length of time, even through the night. The weather, to our understanding, was supposed to warm up some, raining throughout the day Thursday and causing the ice to melt off. This never happened. It actually did rain a bit, but that only froze as soon as it hit the ground. We knew we could get freezing rain, but I didn't expect it to actually happen. Sure enough, Thursday afternoon, we called the hotline and found they had cancelled school for Friday. Again, there was much rejoicing and (figuratively) burning of uniforms. I couldn't believe they had actually cancelled school again, especially so early on Thursday. I'm glad they did, however, as the roads are still very icy and driving could be treacherous. We stood on our back porch and just listened to the tree branches giving way under the weight of the ice and snow with loud gunshot-like cracks. This morning when we awoke and looked outside, we saw tree branches down everywhere and fresh wood showing on the unfortunate tree trunks. Our backyard butts up against a wetland preserve. My wise husband regularly trims the branches that attempt to overhang our fence. This morning, there are several offenders now lying draped over that same fence; they'll probably lift back up once the ice has melted off of them. So many trees are bent over from their heavy burden of ice and snow that there appears to be a gaping hole through the wetland. Again, we are supposed to get more rain and southerly winds to help eradicate the ice and return this area to its normal state. Here's hoping!
(2) We have been enjoying this surprise break from school. The kids and I have gotten some chores done (cooking, cleaning, laundry) but have taken time to play some board games and the Kinect as well. Dale even gets involved with the Kinect; he likes to play boxing, bowling, table tennis, etc. Yesterday we sat at the table playing Careers......I have never had a Careers game go that long! By the time Amanda finally won, tempers were frazzled, certain parts of our anatomy had gone numb, and it was with relief that we congratulated her. We also, for the first time in family history, had a huge family snowball fight on Wednesday. The teams consisted of Dad, Mom, and Dale against Ashley, Katie, and Amanda, with Emily randomly attacking whomever she thought she could sneak up on. There were, of course, a few head shots, though none on purpose, and quite a lot of fun. When Dad and Dale had had enough, they went inside; the girls and I stayed out and built a snowman (which has now taken on a glazed appearance due to its covering of ice!). I'm so glad our family plays together and that we have had this extra opportunity to have some fun---without having to spend any money!
(3) Even though Dale's therapy sessions for the week each got cancelled, he has been having some great PT and OT here at home. By playing the Kinect, doing the exercises PT gave him, and rolling the game dice, Dale has been using his muscles to good effort. He even gets down on the floor and crawls when he wants to go somewhere and no one is available to help him walk. He says he feels more comfortable crawling because he is already on the floor---if he falls, he doesn't have as far to go. Chad scolds him for this, but I don't mind, really, because of the great exercise that crawling affords. I mean, Dale is strengthening his arms and legs, right? No, I know he needs to get up and walk, but he's making an effort to move on his own and I welcome that.
(4) Dale has been taking the anti-seizure medication since Tuesday, and we haven't noticed any side effects as of yet. Thank You, Lord! In fact, Dale has been the one to remind me that it is almost time to take it. This morning, he was really shaky; he asked me to go downstairs and get the medicine because he believes it makes him less shaky, less unsteady. I suppose time will tell if the medicine is truly having this effect or if Dale is just hoping/believing it is. I am already fearful that Dale will mentally depend on the medication so much that he will be resistant to the idea of ever stopping it. (Yeah, yeah, I know.....worry is a sin. I'm working on it!) If Dale's reaction to this medication is to be less shaky and more steady, maybe I will be the one reluctant to take him off of it! Anyway, so far, so good.
(5) I spent a good hour on the phone this morning setting up more appointments for Dale. The neurologist ordered an MRI, so I got that scheduled for Monday afternoon, January 30th. That appointment will take at least an hour, not including travel time---which will include rush-hour traffic afterwards. I've already begun preparing Dale for the experience. He had an MRI done at Doernbecher less than a week after the accident, but they sedated him for that. This time he'll have to lie perfectly still for the entire hour. They said they can play music for him; I think I'll request classical music---maybe Dale will just fall asleep! I also set up an appointment for a big neuro/psych evaluation for Dale. This will take place on Tuesday, February 28th, at 3:00 in the afternoon (of course!) and will last at least two hours, probably longer. I'm not even sure what all the doctors will do or have Dale do, but I'm sure he will be mentally, possibly physically, exhausted once it is complete. He has PT scheduled for that morning at 10:30, then the neuro/psych evaluation at 3:00; I think we'll come home, eat dinner, and put him straight to bed. Or maybe I'll do that! That day is my birthday; according to Mandie, I'll be turning 83 on that day, so I'll probably not be able to do much after such a full day! =*) All kidding aside, please pray that Dale will hold still during the MRI and that he'll perform properly during the neuro/psych evaluation. I know the purpose of the evaluation is to see how he does even if he's having a bad day, but I'm concerned that he might become too tired for them to get a proper reading. Frankly, I don't even know what I'm talking about......I have no idea what they are expecting from him. Yet another area to give to God and TRY to let go of.
(6) In case I haven't mentioned it as much as I should, I really appreciate everyone's posts and comments, as well as the prayers I know are daily being uttered for our son. Dale is thriving and growing and returning to the sometimes-ornery, sometimes-sweet now-teenager that we know and love. His progress now is measured in smaller but none-the-less important increments, with each step forward being less and less hindered. We love sharing the posted jokes and stories with him, his smile and goofy laugh blessing our hearts daily. (Side note: yesterday he almost choked on a piece of orange because Mandie kept making him laugh while he was trying to chew! Once he expelled the offending lump, he was fine, but Mandie got a scolding for that!) Every day, I check this blog, wondering who may have commented or which new person will remind us that there are prayers for Dale going up all over. Thank you for being part of this wonderful journey through God's mercy, grace, and healing power. We are blessed to have Him as our Father. Dale just asked me yesterday why God even made us. I reminded him that God made us to have fellowship with Him and to bring glory to His name. Dale said, "But why? All we do is sin!" I responded, "Yes, but God was willing to take that risk. God made man knowing he would sin, knowing we may choose to turn our backs on Him---but He loves us enough to take that risk." I love having these small conversations with Dale and encouraging him to remember just how big and wonderful God is. This morning I reminded Dale to thank God for the doctors who developed the medicine that helps him be steadier but to trust God for the healing results. He assured me he does.
(7) I got to talk to Mr. Damian Mullinix recently, the photographer who was on the beach that day and took the pictures that captured the world's attention. I really enjoyed talking with him and getting his perspective on the day's events. To relay everything that was said would take another blog posting, so I'll just state what I told him: I believe God put him there that day on purpose to record His plan in action. He said that, when the call first went out, the way it was worded made it sound like things were under control, that a parent was with their child in the water, and that the rescue would be over before he could get there. Then, the tones sounded again, and Mr. Mullinix realized that this could be big. He grabbed his things and hightailed it to the beach, being lucky enough (!) to swing in behind one of the responding fire trucks for an "escort" out there. He, of course, used his long lens to scan the waves; he believes he sighted Dale for a split second, even alerting a nearby fireman, but by the time they focused on the spot he pointed out, Dale had already been carried somewhere else. Mr. Mullinix took many shots of the water and the rescuers in action; when he looked over those frames more recently, he found, blurred and in the background, what he believes to be Dale's head behind one of the rescue skidoos minutes before they spotted him. Amazing, huh? Mr. Mullinix took pictures of everything that caught his eye, from the rescuers in the water to the teens praying on the beach to that incredibly graphic and beautiful shot of Dale being carried from the ocean. He told me that, for a while after that Friday afternoon, he didn't even look at the pictures he had taken, believing Dale to have drowned and not really wanting to view pictures of his death. When he heard Dale had survived and was improving, he was able to pull out the shots and, together with his editor, decide which ones to post. And the rest, as they say, is history. I told Mr. Mullinix that I thank God for him, and I do......I thank God that he was there to record the beginning of a miracle. What an amazing event of which to be a part! He told me he would send us copies of the pictures he took. I can't wait to see them.
I am signing off for now, having exhausted my ability to hunch over a keyboard. God bless you today and always. You are each special to us and Him.
Philippians 3: 13 -14 "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."