Saturday, January 28, 2012

Update Saturday afternoon 1/28

Why does it seem that we get less done when we have "days off" than when we are madly scurrying about following our usual busy schedule?  Does that happen to anyone else, or am I just incredibly lazy when I don't have to get something done?  On the heels of our snow days off school, we had a planned two-day school week, giving us Wednesday through Friday off.  Unfortunately, Dale had PT scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, so neither he nor I got to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in.  PT went well; Dale performed his usual exercises and even got some practice in falling.  The therapist laid out a padded mat and proceeded to show Dale how much fun falling can be.  She pretended to trip a few times, causing herself to sprawl on the mat, which, of course, set Dale laughing.  Then, it was his turn.  He willingly rolled off the Total Gym machine onto the mat.  It took him a few seconds to stop shaking, realizing that, once he was down, there was nowhere else to go but up.  She then had Dale stand and repeat the falling procedure several times, just letting him flop prostrate and then steady himself before getting to his knees.  By the time he was done with that exercise, Dale didn't fear falling quite so much---although we've noticed that the fear still shadows his every movement.

We got home Wednesday in time for an early lunch (I keep typing the word "munch" by accident!).  The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing about, then taking the girls up to church for teen soulwinning.  We, of course, headed for church later that evening for the service.  By the way, last week's service had to be held in one of the portables behind our main auditorium building because of the power outage.  We were homebound due to ice and snow, but there were a select few who managed to get there.  I imagine that time together will be a precious bonding memory for those who were present.

By Thursday, Dale had forgotten the therapist's instructions about not needing help around the house.  He was back to whining and crying if he had to take any steps without holding on desperately to someone or something.  By the time Chad got home from work that afternoon, I had had enough.  I felt like Dale was no longer listening to me---I could talk until I was blue in the face, but his mind was made up; I felt like Dale had given up, was not willing to even try to walk any on his own; I felt like Dale had decided that this was as good as it gets and there was no need to try to improve past this point.  Chad took over then, relieving me in many ways!  He took Dale for a walk, giving him assistance for most of the time but making Dale walk on his own from the end of the street back to our driveway.  It was then that Chad saw how Dale acts, hunching over, always reaching out for anything to grab, taking only a couple of steps before halting, constantly thinking he is going to fall.  Chad gave Dale a good pep talk and laid out some guidelines for Dale to remember to follow on future walks.  The rules are:  (1) keep your arms down, not up around your shoulders because this is a sign of fear, and (2) walk foot-over-foot, not scooting crab-like because this is also a sign of fear.  Chad even had Dale write these two rules down ten times each to firmly plant them in his mind.  We are attempting to target the signs of Dale's fear and point them out to him so he can see when he is fearful and what he can physically do to overcome that fear.  Chad further said that Dale needs to take a walk every day whether or not he had PT already.  He's right---this should help Dale recover his ability to walk properly, confidently, and surely.

On Friday, Dale and I went to SP where he proceeded to work hard despite the numerous distractions that the therapist deliberately set in motion.......she turned on a cartoon; she set her computer to beep whenever she got a message; she tapped her pencil frequently.  She is working with Dale to improve his ability to shut out distractions, keep his mind focused on the task at hand, and increase his endurance.  Dale can usually work steadily for about 35 minutes before his brain begins to tire.  She explained it like this:  When someone first starts to run, they tire easily because they are out of shape.  They must run for a short time at first, then gradually increase the time until they are able to run steadily for an hour or so.  This does not come easily; they must work hard and endure being worn out to accomplish their goal.  So it is with Dale's brain because of the injury.  His brain is "out of shape" and must be exercised in order to get it back in shape.  This takes a lot of hard work and leaves Dale tired mentally (and physically!), but the results will be worth it.  It's interesting to watch Dale in SP.  He starts out so well, listening and answering questions with minimal interruptions.  When he hits that 35 - 40 minute mark, you can almost see the energy drain out of him.  He slumps more in his chair; his eyes take on a slightly glazed look; he blinks more slowly.  He'll listen to a question but take longer to respond.  It's almost as if he has to catch himself, take a deep breath, and deliberately make his brain form the answer.  But this is all good for him; he needs this mental exercise to get his brain back in shape.  Even though he is responding well in SP and, in fact, is doing so well that the therapist is dropping him down to one session a week now, Dale still has a long way to go to be "back to normal."

I was really proud of him for keeping on with his routine even though, Friday morning, he woke up super shaky.  His legs gave out twice just getting into the bathroom.  Considering the bathroom is not that big an area, he had quite a workout getting off the floor!  It was indeed a challenge for him to get dressed and groom himself.  Then he had to face the dreaded stairs.  We took our time and let him step down carefully one step at a time (as usual), but I think we were all relieved when he reached the bottom.  Once we were in the van headed for SP, Dale was able to just sit for 40 minutes, and this helped steady him some.  Maybe the medication is doing some good after all because, even though he was very shaky and had to deal with jerking limbs, Dale did not have a seizure.  He hasn't had one in a week and a half.  Yea!!!

***PRAISE POINT****Dale walked down the first flight of stairs in our house (seven steps) by himself this morning!!!  He did not hold my hand at all; he used the handrail for support and took his time.  On the last step, his leg weakened and he sat down heavily on the step behind him, but, when he was ready, he stood, regained his position on that last stair, and stepped down by himself.  I'm so proud of him!!!

This afternoon, I took Dale for his walk.  I teased him that we needed to put a leash on him since he was "going for a walk."  He rather resented that!  It took Dale about ten minutes to settle down and actually walk without jerking to a stop every three steps.  Chad had said that Dale took about 30 steps without pausing the day before, and I was secretly determined to beat that record!  So I like a little competition---what's wrong with that?  Well........  Anyway, once Dale stopped over-thinking it, he was able to walk naturally, still needing to stop if he felt out of balance or got distracted.  The simplest things distract him like a child riding her bike, a crack in the sidewalk, or litter.  I finally realized that, the less attention I give the distractions when he mentions them, the less important they become, allowing Dale to resume to motion of walking.  And the winner is.......DALE!!!  He took 60 steps in a row without pausing!  I was holding his hand, but he was not gripping my hand tightly or jerking along.  He walked beautifully!  When we reached the end house's driveway, I let go of Dale's hand and told him to walk on his own back home.  I pinched the back of his jacket with two fingers which apparently gave him enough confidence and support to walk carefully back to our driveway.  He was still hesitant, but he did it without complaint.  Sixty small steps for Dale, one giant leap for his excited mama!!!

A couple of prayer requests:  (1) On Monday afternoon, Dale will have an MRI done.  The neurologist ordered the test, desiring to compare the results of this one with the MRI Dale had done back at Doernbecher in August.  (I think he just wants to be sure Dale actually has a brain!  :-} )  (2) On Tuesday afternoon, Dale will see the doctor to begin his neuro evaluation.  The doctor wants to meet with him to get some idea of the tests that should be performed; I have no idea what to expect, so I cannot "prepare" Dale for this appointment.  Please pray, not only for wisdom for the doctors involved, but for Dale's performance during these tests as well.  I'm not sure Dale can hold still for the hour needed to complete the MRI, and I'm already worried that he will not "do well" on these neuro tests and seem less improved than he really is.  I know these tests are not the pass/fail kind and are designed to best demonstrate how much Dale has healed and where he still needs help; I guess I'm just being a mom---I don't want anyone looking at my child and thinking he is slow, you know?  I still cringe a bit in public, waiting for some unkind person or unknowing child to say, "Why do you have to hold his hand?  Isn't he a little big for that?"  This has never happened; in fact, just the opposite is true.  We have gotten nothing but kind, caring glances and smiles from those who realize Dale's condition and see his need.  We have even received offers of help from complete strangers in the elevator, going through a doorway, at the pharmacy.  I know this is just the devil, that old snake, taking my fears and worries and magnifying them beyond proportion.  I talk to God regularly about this, verbally giving Him my worries and then mentally shouldering them as I walk away.  Eventually, when I 'm old and gray---or dead and in Heaven!---I will have learned to trust God implicitly without hesitation.  For now, though, I'm still in the choose-to-trust-Him-every-day (every-hour!) phase.  And, really, that's not a bad place to be, is it?

I Peter 5: 7  "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you."


  1. Despite what the the tests may or may not say, from reading your posts it would appear Dale's biggest weaknesses are a lack of confidence and fear. I shall concentrate my prayers on those issues.
    Here is a joke for Dale:
    A small boy sits in church next to his mom. All is quiet except for the sound of the preacher. Suddenly the boy yells out, "Mommy, I have to go pee." His mom calmly, gently and quietly tells her son that one does not shout in church and that the next time he has to go pee he is to whisper. Next Sunday, the boy is in church, only this time sitting next to his dad. As before, all is quiet as everyone listens to the preacher. Suddenly, the boy bursts out, "Daddy, I have to go whisper."
    His dad calmly, gently and quietly tells his son that one does not shout in church. Then he says to his son, "Whisper in my ear."

  2. Thank you Kirsten for yet another wonderful update, I have your blog on my Google page. It's always a pleasure when I see a new entry. I do love your ideas about putting your trust in God; it would be wonderful to put all of our trust in him without question at all times, but we are human. Choosing to trust him every hour of every day is perfect, I feel the same way.

    I'm happy that Dale is making progress each and every day, and of course I will pray that the new tests will go well. I do have a joke for him, hope you guys haven't heard it. A family was sitting around the dinner table on Sunday after church, and Mom asked her son how Sunday School went that morning. He answered "Fine Mommy, we learned more about Harold today." "Harold, who is Harold?" asked Mom. "Why, God. That's his name, Harold" said the boy. "Oh dear, you must be mistaken" said Mom "God's name isn't Harold" "Yes it is Mommy" said the little boy "We even pray to Harold every day at church". Really? said Mom, How do you pray then?" The son proudly stood up and said "Our Father, who art in heaven, Harold be thy name".

    All my best to you and your family Kirsten, and thanks again.
    In his name, Eric

  3. Oooooookay...first... Ahem. My first name is Harold :-) Just sayin' ;-) I never did get a satisfactory answer as to why. I assure you, though, I'm NOT God. However, I sometimes forget that when I think I need to know everything, do everything, be everything others or I want me to know, do and be.

    As for the lack of achievement on days off. I forget the name of the principle, but it goes like this: A task expands to fill the time allotted to it. If we have two weeks, it takes two weeks. If we have two hours it takes two hours. I am inclined to think that no matter how much time a job has, it gets the most attention in the last hours.

    Tomorrow I will preach on Jesus' wilderness experience. I have come to see that event as his preparation for servanthood. It is right after that (Luke 4:18) that Jesus claimed the promise of anointing in Isaiah, and in so doing he highlighted ministries of service. Since the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness in the first place, it is not a stretch to think His goal in our lives is servanthood and his path will take us through some kind(s) of wilderness. That being the case, I have all confidence that somewhere down the road Dale will say to someone(s) that he has a burden to serve in a particular area and it may be as a result of the path he has walked during these days. I hope I'm still around to hear about that.

    HAROLD Hamilton Comings :-)

  4. When I was a youngster around Dales age I used to get frequent and painful ear infections. My favorite Aunt would come by daily to have coffee with my Mom and my Aunt would always let me sit on her knee and lean on her shoulder. Each time she came over she would ask how I was and I would instantly cry a river. On the odd day she did not come for her visit I was crushed and cried a river then too. The pain was no worse but I was counting on the comfort of her knee, shoulder and hugs.
    Maybe Dales falling is a subconscious way of getting his hugs and shoulder and not necessarily fear as much as he thinks?
    Maybe rent one of those big padded suits and have him spend an hour falling once a week...make it fun for him.

    Your description of Dales progress seems like you are describing my nephews recovery from a brain injury from a bad car accident. It's a slow, deliberate process of relearning and overcoming obstacles like the fear of falling.
    You'll be happy to know Aaron is 98% back to his old self, back to work, living on his own (he's 30 now, the accident was when he was 24). His journey is still in progress but his confidence that he can overcome the obstacles placed before him is enormous, whether or not the obstacle is from the brain injury or just a life obstacle...he knows now he can overcome it and deal with it Dale, he's a miracle.
    Dale can do it, too
    Read about Aaron here:

    Watch Aaron here:
    Part One

    Part 2

    Part 3

    The previous episodes of Season 7 are also on YouTube but this is the finale of the show, filmed in summer of 2011.
    Aaron is on Facebook as well.

    I have no doubt in my mind that Dale will make a full recovery, but there will be a bump or two along the way. Don't be discouraged at all, they are only bumps!!!

    And now the joke:
    A wise old gentleman retired and purchased a modest home near a junior high school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment. Then a new school year began.

    The very next afternoon three young boys, full of youthful, after-school enthusiasm, came down his street, beating merrily on every trash can they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action.

    The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. Stopping them, he said, "You kids are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. In fact, I used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favor? I'll give you each a dollar if you'll promise to come around every day and do your thing."

    The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the trash cans. After a few days, the old-timer greeted the kids again, but this time he had a sad smile on his face. "This recession's really putting a big dent in my income," he told them. "From now on,

    I'll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans." The noisemakers were obviously displeased, but they did accept his offer and continued their afternoon ruckus. A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street.

    "Look," he said, "I haven't received my Social Security check yet, so I'm not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?" "A lousy quarter?" the drum leader exclaimed. "If you think we're going to waste our time, beating these cans around for a quarter, you're nuts! No way, mister. We quit!" And the old man enjoyed peace.

    Praying for you all daily


  5. Paddy! That is CLASSIC. I'll post it on my blog, with full credit to you on this one, and highlight with the twist that it pictures the penchant of our culture to turn fun into profit and then make it a chore. Anthony Esolen speaks eloquently to this in his book "Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child." No, I'm not in favor of beating on trash cans :-) BUT what the old fella did to relieve a problem we sometimes do, unintentionally, to kill a joy. Thanks for the insightful points you bring into the life of Dale and his family and into other lives as well.

  6. help with your schoolwork, here's a definition for you:

    Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller