We have much for which to be thankful on this day. It has been six full months since Dale's drowning at Cranberry Beach, WA, and our God has, indeed, shown Himself mighty and powerful to save. First, He saved Dale from the waters; then He saved him from permament brain damage; and even now He is still saving Dale from a life of fear and confusion. Chad and I wish to express our thanks and gratitude to everyone who has followed our son's miraculous healing and continued progress in prayers, in tears, in support. You have all meant more to this family than we can ever hope to tell. God bless each of you.
Dale has been increasingly shaky over the last week. This is nothing new; usually he will have a seizure, then spend a few days nice and steady, and then slowly the shakiness comes back. Yesterday, while my husband and Dale were out for a walk, Dale had what he calls a "half-seizure." Chad was assisting Dale somewhat during the walk, but we have both been certain that Dale simply needs to "get over" his fear of falling and strike out in faith. Yesterday, we were both taught a vital lesson: to listen to our son when he speaks! We have been telling Dale to make his brain boss his body, tell his legs to stop shaking, tell his feet where to step next. Dale told us that he is trying to tell his legs what to do but that they are not responding. To us, it looked like Dale was just unwilling to try hard, that all he needed to do was make it happen. Chad was doing this again on the walk, telling Dale to make his legs obey him. Dale's leg had buckled under him; Chad was supporting Dale while saying, "Dale, stand up. Just stand up!" Dale tried so hard to obey his father that he had a seizure.......but this one was much different than the others. Dale was awake and aware the whole time! Chad said the episode lasted only about 15-20 seconds (much shorter than the others); he got Dale down onto the sidewalk and called me. Since he and Dale were only walking around our neighborhood, I was able to find them easily. I pulled up to the curb to hear Dale crying at the top of his lungs. I assumed that this seizure was like the others and that Dale was unaware of what he was doing. I began trying to calm him down and assure him that Mom and Dad were here and he would be all right. To my surprise, Dale began talking to me! He said, "The reason I'm crying is I'm scared. I think I'm dying!" I was shocked to hear him speak, but I had to push aside that feeling and hasten to tell my son that he was not dying, that this had all happened before. He was terrified. Chad hoisted Dale up, but Dale could not even get his feet under him. He began crying again, saying, "Why won't my legs work?" We quickly realized that, even though Dale was awake for this seizure, he was having the same effects as before: limp limbs, inability to move of his own accord, etc. Chad was able to get Dale into the van---no small feat as Dale is no lightweight!---and we drove home. Chad then carried Dale in and laid him on the couch where we were able to make him comfortable so he could rest. Dale was still fearful and confused because his movement was restricted, although, by the time we got back to the house, he had regained movement in his arms. Leg movement followed soon after, relieving Dale considerably. We were able to explain to Dale that all of his symptoms had occurred before but that he had always been asleep through them and so did not know. After talking further with Dale, asking him questions, we were surprised to discover that he had, indeed, remained conscious and aware during the entire episode. He did not suffer the usual "blackout" and so could see and hear everything going on around him. He explained that he was trying to do what Dad said (stand up properly) but that his legs simply would not obey his brain. This helped us realize that we should have listened more closely to what Dale had been saying all along. He has been trying to get his body to respond correctly; it just doesn't want to sometimes. We had Dale rest on the couch for a good bit afterwards, but he never fell asleep---something he usually had no choice but to do. I teased Dale, saying that, once he was rested, he needed to get up and finish that walk since Dad had carried him into the house and all. He grinned, knowing full well an empty threat when he heard one!
The rest of the day passed in a leisurely fashion. Dale got a bath as usual Saturday night, and we were able to practice some new techniques that make him feel more secure in the tub. He maneuvers himself so that he is able to get up on his knees before standing up after his bath. This makes him feel more in control and less likely to fall or feel like he might fall. Also, for the first time since his accident, Dale was able to do 99% of the bathing by himself! Again, we are establishing habits and routines that will help him at some point be able to bathe on his own (I'm sure he doesn't want Mom present by the bathtub for the rest of his life!). Dale even was willing to bend his knees and lower his upper body into the water in order to rinse his hair. All of these things sound like something a mother might go through while teaching her four- or five-year old how to bathe, but, in many ways, that is precisely what we are doing with Dale. He is having to relearn many things even still, six months later. Reteaching how to brush his teeth, how to bathe, how to use the toilet and clean himself, how to dress......each step must be taught and then reinforced daily until they, once again, become habit.
This morning, to my pleased surprise, Dale buttoned his whole shirt by himself! He has had especial trouble with buttons because his fingers will shake so much sometimes that buttoning is almost impossible. Usually I just automatically button his shirt. Today, we were talking when Dale reached for the first button and began trying to get it into that small buttonhole. I noticed this but just kept talking, and, before he even realized it, he had gotten the first one done! It took him about four tries, but he did it. He then began on the second one but got tired and asked for my help. Again, normally I would just do it for him, but this time I said, "No, Dale. You go ahead and keep trying." He grimaced but attacked the button again. Steadily he made his way down the shirt, needing four to six tries on each button before accomplishing the task. When he got to the end, I called his dad into the room and presented to him Dale's success. Chad was suitably impressed, and Dale was pleased with himself. Of course, this means that I will be less hands-on with the buttons and allow Dale to try more before offering help.
Thank You, Lord, for all You do, but especially, thank You, Lord, for healing my son. Dale has come so far in these past six months. When I think back to that day in August when we were unsure if Dale would survive or just go on home to Heaven and compare his prognosis then to what he can do now, I am amazed at our Lord's unspeakable power and might. He alone was able to show the water rescue team where Dale was; He alone was able to wake Dale up and have him speak; He alone has been able to so heal Dale's brain that speech is no longer a problem; He alone has the ability to reestablish those needed connections to allow Dale freedom of movement once again. Our God is able and willing to do wonderful works in our lives. We must be willing to allow Him to lead us "through the valley of the shadow of death" in order for His glorious light to illuminate our path. Thank You, my Father, for leading us. May we always follow You closely and trust in Your will.
Psalm 119: 105 "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."