Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Update Wednesday afternoon 5/30

God be with Dennis and Dawn and all of young Denny's siblings as they grieve the loss of their boy.  I can't imagine the kind of pain they must be in, nor the gaping hole in their lives right now.  Please, Father, wrap them in Your arms and give them extra comfort while they go through this tragic time of sorrow.  Our hearts and prayers go out to this family.

Chad and I were spared having to say goodbye to our son last August.  Our girls faced the possible loss of their brother but never had to lose him for real.  We looked death in the face, but God kept us from needing to wait until Heaven to see our son again.  Dennis and Dawn are hurting so badly right now, I'm sure, and yet---I truly have no idea what they must be feeling, what thoughts are swirling around in their heads, what images they see when they close their eyes for some much-needed rest.  We were very blessed to have loving family and friends gathered round us; never, at any time, we were ever alone through those first weeks.  I pray this family has someone who will stand there with them and listen to people for them, as we did, so that they will not need to focus on anything at this time but their own family, their little ones and each other.  It was such a relief to know that there was always someone else nearby who could "handle" the small stuff or listen to the nurses' advice and relay what they thought we needed to know.

Though I do not know this couple and do not know how each of them will best get through this tragedy, I do know that everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to handle grief.  Katie and I wanted to stay by Dale's bedside and never budge; Amanda, our oldest, needed to be "doing" in order to work through her stress; Ashley and Emily, our youngest two, wanted to be close by but needed to be distracted from the drama so as not to be sucked under by it.  Chad.......there are no words to describe the awesome man I married.  During the most intense, stressful, traumatic time of his life, he was solid as a rock.  He cried and prayed.  He joked and grieved.  He sat by his son's bedside and then went out the waiting room to be sure each person who came felt our gratitude for their support.  He even faced, with manly decision, the need to return home that Sunday night, not yet knowing if Dale would survive.  I thank God for our pastor, who decided to pay Chad's salary for the week, allowing him to remain at Doernbecher with Dale and our family.  Chad determined to keep the family together, driving back to Washington late Friday night in order to pick up our girls, snatch a few hours' sleep, and drive back to Oregon to be at the hospital.  He was absolute strength for me during those hard days, and I will always hold in my heart the way he looked when he said, "There will be a tomorrow.  We will still serve God."

On a lighter note, we had a great Memorial Day weekend.  Contrary to the weatherman's dire prediction, it is still fairly nice out with no rain to speak of.  (Here in western Washington, that equals less than three inches!!!)  Chad, me, Emily, and Dale started out Saturday morning intending to look for a couch to replace the one that didn't survive five years with our kids (!).  During the course of the morning, we picked up the other three girls and all managed to crowd into my husband's truck---which really only seats six, but don't tell anybody!  We drove to the Old Cannery Warehouse furniture store and looked around.  We'd been there once before (five years ago, but the broken couch didn't come from there!), and the kids were excited to go back again.  The warehouse is decorated "old-timey" style with talking mannequins here and there and a miniature train that runs on a track above the heads of the crowd.  And it was crowded!  Not enough to be elbow-to-elbow, but enough to cause Dale to have to focus more.  He, Katie, and I only made it through about 1/3 of the store before Ashley and Dad came ambling back to say they had found the right couch.  (To my credit, not until this very moment did I even realize I didn't get to do any actual shopping!)  Dale sat down in a convenient chair and commenced eating some (free) popcorn while Chad and the saleslady took me back to see the couch.  (It's deep brown with a burgundy tint; it reclines on both sides of the loveseat; it doesn't push my head forward when I sit in it.  In other words, it's fine!)  Once we filled out the necessary paperwork, our family wound our way back through to the front entrance where we found Amanda and Emily, who had been on their own tour, finishing up their (free) hot dogs and (free) soda.  We all grabbed some and enjoyed the Memorial Day sale's perks!  It was a fun family outing for us all and one that served to remind us again how good God has been to us.

Sunday was a great day, as usual, because we got to go to God's house and be with His people.  But also, after the service Sunday night, we all went out to the gym and had cake and ice cream in honor of our pastor's birthday, which was yesterday.  Dale even had two pieces because his friend, Aaron, got him a second piece!  It was a relaxing time, fellowshipping with our church family and adding to our waistlines.  What a blessing to be a part of this incredible church!  We are surrounded by good, godly, giving people who inspire us to be the best Christians we can possibly be for God's service.  Thank You, Lord, for our church and body of believers.

Monday was spent lazing about the house.  (Did you really expect anything different?)  The kids all enjoyed Dale's new video game---which he wanted to play non-stop all weekend.  We finally put a ban on the game just to get a little quiet cartoon time!  The older girls went to a friend's house and then to the mall.  They had a good time and returned stuffed to the gills with good Samoan food.  They also got new look-alike shirts at the mall, so they were happy.  Ashley tried her best to convince me to take her to the mall so she could spend her Claire's gift card, but I resisted.  I spent my day off doing as I pleased......which meant doing pretty much nothing of importance.  I did fix the meals and drove the girls to/from their friend's house, but I drew the line at going to the mall!  Seriously---the mall on Memorial Day?  All those crowds and people wall to wall?  That's like going shopping the day after Thanksgiving!  No way.

I have to close for now although there is so much more to tell.  Suffice it to say, God has been good to us.  He is all wise and completely trustworthy.  It is our pleasure, to say nothing of our duty, to live for Him.

Psalm 37: 4 - 5  "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Update Friday afternoon 5/25

I post this update through tears and sniffles........tears because of young Denny's condition, so like Dale's last year, knowing God weeps along with this family and longs to comfort them and hold them through these long days and even longer nights.  I have been praying for Denny and his family and would like to hear updates on his and his family's conditions.

The sniffles, I'm afraid, are due entirely to the fact that I have most definitely caught the girls' colds!  Pleeeeeease feel sorry for me.......that way I won't be the only one!!!  I started feeling ill Tuesday, if you remember, and that feeling only worsened as the day wore on.  By Tuesday night my chest hurt each time I coughed, and I spent the night on the couch in order to spare my husband my germs.  'Twas only by the grace of God that I made it in to school Wednesday morning, and that only because Dale had therapy that morning that I felt he really should get to.  (Since I don't teach a full class this year, I was not infecting the entire school---just my classroom!)  I was so miserable that, when we left around 9:50 to go to PT, I took everything with me and told Dale we would just go straight home afterwards.  I was fighting sleep all the way there and most of the way back.  (I know, I know---dangerous.)  The only thing that kept my focus on my driving on the way home was the fact that Dale had a dizzy spell towards the end of PT that grabbed my attention.  He had completed all the hard work---walking, stairs, balance---and was standing at a counter doing OT (playing with play-dough) when he mentioned feeling sick.  All at once, his hands dropped down and he began swaying.  Alison and I both caught him and held him up.  It looked like the beginning of a seizure because his gaze was unfocused and his fingers curling just a bit.  But, within ten seconds or so, Dale began softly crying---which actually was a good sign because usually crying indicates the end of a seizure.  She got a chair and we eased him down into it where he remained upright but slumped, still crying.  He talked to us, answering our questions and telling us the room was spinning and that he felt queasy.  (Who wouldn't?)  By Dale's answers to our questions, we were able to tell that he had not fully lost consciousness, just felt dizzy and ill.  If we had not been close, he probably would have fallen, but he was not dangerously ill---just feeling faint.  After sitting for a few minutes and drinking water and wiping his face with a cool cloth, Dale felt better.  He still got a wheelchair ride to the van (for safety's sake).  We had barely exited the parking garage when he asked for a snack, so obviously he was feeling better!  He hasn't exhibited any other symptoms of illness other than a slight sniffle (wonder where he got that?), so I'm thinking he's just fine.

Because I was so sick, though, we missed church Wednesday night.  (I really hate missing church at all and especially two services in a row; I feel backslidden even though I had a good excuse!)  I didn't feel much better Thursday morning and decided to take a day off.  I drove the girls to school, leaving Dale in bed until I got home.  Upon arriving home, I discovered Dale almost fully dressed (love that independence!) and simply stood by while he brushed his teeth and walked down the stairs.  I got him breakfast, assisted him to the couch in the living room, handed him the remote, and went off duty!  I am so thankful that Dale is at the point now where I can "check out" for a while and know he is safe and able to handle himself.  I spent the day dozing on the couch downstairs while he watched TV and played video games.  Yeah, that's not very good parenting, is it?  I'll make up for it some other time!!!

All that rest Thursday really helped me.  We were able to get to school today as well as SP this morning.  My nose is so stuffed up and running at the same time.  I feel like I'm taking in half the normal necessary amount of oxygen and talking underwater!  My ears are plugged, too, making it difficult to understand people.  My brain feels like mush which makes teaching fraction-decimal equivalents rather challenging!  I have an inkling now of what Dale faces when he tries to focus when his brain is tired.  Speaking of........he did so well at SP today!  He pushed hard and kept thinking even though it was long past his usual 10 minutes' strong thinking time.  He used the trick of repeating the key words or question over again to refocus his brain and keep himself on track, and, in so doing, impressed both me and Lisa!  I can honestly say I've not seen him focus so well and continue to give correct answers for such an extended period of time before.  It helps him if he has some visual aid to help him concentrate on the question, but he does fairly well with the auditory learning as well.

At PT on Wednesday, I stayed put in the waiting room area since I was feeling so yucky, and Alison and Dale went to practice the stairs and such.  (I joined them for the latter part of PT.)  There was a nice older couple sitting nearby, watching Dale and Alison as they made their way to the stairs.  The wife kindly asked me what caused Dale's condition, and I replied that he drowned last August.  She immediately said, "Oh, was he one of the boys......?"  I replied, "Yes" with a smile.  She said, "It's good to see him doing so well."  And, yes, it is!  She then confirmed, "He was the one down in Oregon with his church group?"  I again replied, "Yes."  She said, "What a miracle!"  She and her husband and I began chatting a bit; they were so nice and friendly, mentioning that they had seen Dale on the news and were glad to see how much he has improved.  She asked how his walking is each day, and I told her that he has good days and bad days but shows steady progress.  I said something about Dale's being able to run again some day, and she immediately said, "Oh, I'd bet on that, seeing how well he's doing now!"  That was very encouraging to hear, from a complete stranger who was just stating her observations.  Sometimes I think I'm too optomistic, reading more into Dale's progress than is really there simply because I want to see it.  But to have someone unbiased say so too, well, that just made my day!

In SP today, as well, Lisa was pleased to note that Dale was using his working memory and not just his hearing to give correct answers.  She had a recording playing which instructed Dale to click the button when he heard numbers given in ascending order.  Sometimes he would miss a couple of numbers but would click the button a few seconds later, showing that he was listening to the new numbers given while, at the same time, replaying the old numbers in his mind and checking for any ascending numbers he may have missed.  (Did you get all that?!)  Today's score:  25/30 total!  This is much better than he has ever done before!!!  So, you see, I'm not making this up!  :-D

And, last but not least, we have only one more week of school left with a day off on Monday!!!  (And there were great cheers heard throughout the land.......)  I probably should make my kids work hard all Monday, scrub the house from top to bottom, and study for at least eight hours.........but this is me we're talking about.  We'll likely sleep in till ____:00 a.m. (I'm not about to divulge that weakness!) and just enjoy the break from school with (hopefully) no one sick.  I think Chad has the day off too, so that will be a big bonus.  If the weather's nice, we may even use our grill.  (I have begun to think it's just a lawn ornament!)  So, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and remember to take some time to thank our veterans who have helped shape this great country of ours.  Freedom isn't free; it's actually quite costly.

Galatians 5: 22  "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Update Tuesday morning 5/22

We're back at school today after a bout with illness over the weekend.  Amanda had a bad cold early last week but recovered within a few days.  Katie caught it and was down for a while---Saturday afternoon through last night.  She had an incessant cough which began to hurt her chest.  We got her some tussin medication, and she noticed things start to break up once she began taking that.  She was too sick to attend church Sunday or school yesterday, but she is on the mend today.  I'm sure she still wishes she were home today, but she needs to finish the school year........and there are only one and a half weeks left to go!  Emily began running a low-grade fever Friday night, nothing to worry about but enough to make her miserable.  She complained of a very sore throat (Katie did as well) for which we gave her Tylenol and ibuprofen round the clock Saturday night/Sunday.  Saturday night was pretty bad; Emily could only sleep a couple of hours at a time and woke up crying long before the next dose was due.  She fared better Sunday, although I didn't even try to take her to church.  No need to expose her to more germs or infect her entire Sunday school class!  She took long naps Saturday, Sunday, and yesterday to make up for the sleep she lost and slept better these past two nights as well.  She, too, wishes she didn't have to be at school today, but I think alot of that is simply "mommy withdrawal."  Sometimes I swear the umbilical cord is still attached!  The waterworks have been flowing freely and continually since she realized she had to go to school this morning.  I have reached the end of what little patience I possess and am now considering boxing her up and attaching a label for Timbuktu!  To make matters worse, now I have a nagging irritation in the back of my throat which is causing me to cough frequently and consume numerous cough drops.  I don't even want to be here today; this attitude makes it difficult to display kindness and patient understanding when Emily begins crying over the (stupidest!) tiniest little thing.  Once again, I am left in confusion as to why God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me, less-than-outstanding mother that I am, five children to rear for Him.  It is a well-established fact in our household that, if the kids ever turn out warped, it will be my fault.  Any good character traits come from Chad; all bad ones trace directly back to me!  Heaven help us!  :-)

As yet another example of my unworthiness as a parent, I messed up my son's medication Sunday morning.  I could use the girls' illness as an excuse, but the truth is that I just plain forgot.  I got Dale up and ready for church (that sounds like I dressed him and brushed his teeth, doesn't it?  He got himself ready; I just played overseer) and saw them out the door ("them" being Chad, Amanda, Dale, and Ashley), never once remembering Dale's meds.  I spent Sunday morning caring for Katie and Emily and starting a big pot of wonderful potato soup (I can say that because it's true.......and because I came up with the recipe all by myself, and it's gooooood!).  When everyone arrived home, I concentrated on dishing up lunch and continuing to care for the sick ones.  By the early afternoon, I had developed a migraine which only worsened as the day progressed, negating any possibility of even driving the healthy kids to the evening service (Chad had to work).  It wasn't until 7:00 Sunday night that I realized I had completely forgotten Dale's morning meds!  By then, it was too late to administer them.  I simply made sure he took his evening meds on time and put him to bed.  Since there were two girls home sick yesterday and Dale had no therapy scheduled, I kept him home as well.  This allowed me to keep a closer eye on him since his body was adjusting to the lapse in medication.  He did fine, of course; I mean, was I really expecting something drastic?  But, referring to the previous paragraph, if Dale had had a problem, whose fault would it have been?  MINE!  :-)

I was kind of thankful for an opportunity to see how Dale would do, doing school work at home with his sisters providing distractions.  When I dropped off Ashley and Amanda yesterday morning at school, I ran in and grabbed Dale's books from my classroom.  Once Dale was awake and ready for the day, we sat at the dining table and proceeded with his lessons for the day.  Dale did very well blocking out distractions and concentrating on his work.  Emily did her best to bother him, insisting on laying out her collection of Littlest Pet Shop creatures right next to him at the table.  Plus, the TV in the other room was on, and people were going in and out of the dining room.  These distractions are very similar to what SP sets up each week to teach Dale how to focus, so I allowed them to a certain extent.  And Dale stepped up to the challenge, getting as much work done at home yesterday as he would have at school.  He worked on math, science, history, and vocab (quiz) from about 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with a short break in between.  Once he ate his lunch, he sat down in front of the TV and watched cartoons before switching over to a video game.  I think the "see how Dale will work at home during the summer" experiment was a success.  (Do I get to take credit for that?)

Speaking of video games, Dale has this sneaky? encouraging? pull-the-wool-over-our-eyes? habit of maneuvering himself around the living room to attain a personal goal:  loading a video game into the X-Box.  He will stand up and walk to the TV stand or sit on the nearby couch and reach over to turn on the X-Box, load the game, grab the controller, and return to his seat.  He does this at school, too, finding a way to either walk over to the student computer in my classroom or scoot himself in his chair over there so he can play games when his work is done---or when I'm out of the classroom too long!  He's even learned to deal with falling during these times.  If he falls (and he has), he'll wait until his trembling and jerking stops before getting to his feet again.  To do this, sometimes Dale will simply balance himself, get up on his knees, and push to his feet; sometimes, he will use a nearby chair or desk for balance.  Either way, his desire to play a game exceeds his fear of falling---which is exactly what we want him to learn!  Dale's desire to achieve some goal must outweigh his fear of possibly falling in order for him to keep striving to get better and better.  And he is, thanks be to God!  Every day we see God's hand of healing on our son; every day we have reason to be thankful.

Do you realize that, even though Dale is doing so well now and showing progress regularly, we could be in a much different situation?  Dale could be dead, having never recovered from his drowning in the Pacific Ocean.  Dale could be in a hospital bed, his mind in a vegetative state, unable to control his own body, never to leave the hospital again.  He could be severely retarded, needing constant care and protection, unable to feed himself or dress himself.  He could be in a wheelchair for life; he could be on a ventilator for life; he could be unable to speak or eat or breathe or live.  But, in a way, we would be in the same situation we are now:  trusting God to know what's best and serving Him regardless of the circumstances.  We would still have godly, faithful, praying teenagers who got God's attention by throwing themselves to the sand, disregarding onlookers' stares, and begging God for Dale's life.  We would still have a loving, praying, giving church who, I am convinced, were the ones who directed God's hand of healing by their fervent prayers for His will to be done.  They were the conduits by which our family was blessed, comforted, and held together during those first dark days when only God Himself knew what the outcome would be.  We would still have a close circle of dear friends and family who did whatever we needed them to do, regardless of time sacrificed or sleepless nights spent at the hospital, so that we could stand watch over our son.  We would still have the godly heritage and Biblical training in our backgrounds which laid the strong foundation of our faith in an almighty, all-loving, all-wise God.  And we would still have God, the great I AM, the Creator of the universe, Who listened when we prayed "Father, whatever You see to be best, do.  But, O Father, please, if it be Your will, spare our son.  Restore him to us whole."  He has promised never to leave us, nor forsake us.  He is with us when the sun shines; He is with us in the shadows.  He cares for us more deeply than we will ever know.  He hurts when we hurt, and He holds us when we cry.  He stands by patiently when we stray, and He welcomes us back when we repent.  God is all we will ever need.  We will always have Him.

Before Dale's accident, I prayed, "Lord, Your will be done.  If You take one of our children, so be it.  If You take my husband, so be it.  Please let this family bring glory to You."  When Dale's accident occurred, I prayed, "Lord, Your will be done.  If You take Dale now, we will serve You.  If You take my husband, we will serve You.  Please let our family bring glory to Your name."  Even now, I pray, "Lord, Your will be done.  If You see fit to take Dale now, so be it.  If You take one of the girls, so be it.  If You take my husband, I will serve You.  Please let this family glorify You always."  I state this, not so I get any praise or so I am thought of as some great powerhouse Christian; I state this so that God knows I am sincere.  I want my faith to be public so that, in times of despair or backsliding, I will be brought back to Him by the encouragement of fellow Christians who will remind me of my prayer today.  And, please, don't get the impression that I am in any way the spiritual glue that holds this family together.  That would be my dear husband, Chad.  He has always been the godly pillar of strength and guidance that keeps our family on track.  (Remember the first paragraph?!)  I simply have voice here to express what we both feel:  that God is God and, as such, can be trusted implicitly, no matter what the circumstances or how painful the grief.

Psalm 91: 4  "He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust:  His truth shall be thy shield and buckler."

Hebrews 13: 5c  "For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Update Friday afternoon 5/18

Busy, busy, busy!  There's no other way to describe these last few weeks of school.  Teachers are racing to try to get the most out of their lessons and prepare their students for finals; the kids are doing their best to stay focused on school work instead of the beckoning sunshine and playground; parents are trying to decide if they should continue to push their children to attain every passing grade possible or just let it go until next year.  The school-age children still consider summertime to be "vacation" time with no responsibilities until fall, while their parents heartily wish they could take three months off and just lie around!  Within a week, the kids will be whining about being bored and the adults will be counting the days until school starts again.  Isn't summer great?

My children (with the exception of one or two subjects) will finish the school year with good grades.  I've had to speak sternly to one of my girls about letting her history grade slip, and another of my daughters has really struggled with algebra this year.  Hopefully, next year will bring a better understanding of these subjects.  Dale is doing well with his books, too.  I've been counting down the weeks/days left of school so much with my children while emphasizing Dale's need to work through the summer that I'm sure he's thoroughly confused by now!  He'll figure it out eventually.

Tonight, the drama class will put on the Spring Play.  They've been working hard on this since January or so, but things have happened just in the last few days to throw a big monkey wrench into the works.  The paint that they used on the car prop turned purple instead of blue, so they had to quickly redo that; one of the main players missed a key practice; and there's been an outbreak of whooping cough in our area, causing several students to be out sick for a couple of days---including two members of the cast.  There was some talk about postponing the play, but we're at the end of the school year........there's really no other time to do it.  So "the show must go on"---although I'm sure the drama teacher is about ready to pull her hair out.  Parts have been shuffled and reassigned; Amanda has been upgraded to a bigger part due to the illness about and has been studying her lines and practicing the (surprise!) solo she must perform.  She's been in different productions and is aware of the demands of putting on a play, so I believe she'll be just fine.

Our K-5 Graduation/School Award Ceremony will be held on Friday, June 1st.  Our youngest, Emily, will be walking across the platform to receive her "diploma", which is really just a blank piece of rolled-up white paper tied with sparkly ribbon.  Their teacher took pictures today of all of them dressed up in their caps and gowns.  We have saved Amanda's cap and gown (which she and Katie both wore at their graduations) and Ashley's cap and gown (which she needed because she and Emily are much shorter than the older two at this age!), so we didn't have to purchase a new cap or gown.  Thank God for one less expense, at least.  We saved Dale's cap and gown as well, but, since the boys wear blue and the girls wear white, we couldn't reuse Dale's.  Elementary school achievement awards will be handed out at the same time, I believe, giving parents an incentive to attend the K-5 Graduation even if they do not have a child in that class.  High school awards will be handed out in their last chapel service (next week, I think).  Lots of cheers, clapping, proud smiles, relieved sighs, envious looks, and general hoopla will abound.  Senior Graduation will be held on Monday, June 4th.  Refer to previous sentence for how service will progress!  This is always an exciting moment for all students, those taking a break from school for the summer and those leaving their childhood behind.  God bless each of our kids and guide them through their lives.

Dale attended SP today and, as usual, did an outstanding job.  By this I don't mean that he excelled at every task and walked away whole; I mean that he applied his mind to the best of his ability and succeeded a bit better than the week before in keeping his focus on the task at hand despite numerous distractions.  Some of these distractions are on purpose (music playing, computer beeping, cars driving past) and some are accidental (cell phone ringing, horns honking, Dale cracking his knuckles).  He is learning through each SP visit to block out those distractions and keep thinking about the story, question, or problem stated.  A tip Lisa gave today:  Dale should repeat main words to himself to refocus his attention on the question.  For instance, if the question is "How to the words 'doctor' and 'office' relate to each other?", Dale should repeat "doctor" and "office" to himself if he cannot think of the connection right away.  Sometimes he can; sometimes he can't.   As the hour wore on, Dale's brain got more and more tired.  We could see him visibly wilt in his chair!  It was then that we noticed Dale doing things that wound up distracting himself even more, like cracking his knuckles or fidgeting in his chair.  When he is more alert, he stills himself better; when he's tired, he doesn't catch those movements to still them.  But, over the last several months, Dale has shown definite progress in the areas of listening, focusing, thinking when tired, and settling himself.

One more thing:  Since Sunday morning, Dale has been able to walk down the stairs by himself (no assistance) going step-over-step!!!  He has been shaky on some days, causing him to sit down several times, but this has only served to help him realize he can walk downstairs even when shaky.  Yesterday and Wednesday, he was rather shaky all day, but today Dale has been alot steadier.  He is thinking (keeping his wits about him) through the shakiness and the falls, as well.  When his legs buckled or he stumbled on the stairs, he used to just let go and fall.  Now, Dale will grip the rail more tightly or attempt to strengthen his legs to prevent falling.  Plus, he doesn't panic as much when he starts to fall.  Today, when he was getting into the van after SP, he didn't sit down all the way on the seat---he was half on and half off---and, as a result, he began to shake.  Before now, this situation would cause Dale to panic and possibly go into a seizure.  Now, Dale listens when I tell him, "You're okay"; he trusts me when I tell him, "You're not going to fall; just get your legs in the right place and adjust your seat."  I braced my knee under his bottom and waited until he got both feet into the van; he was then able to reposition himself in the car seat.  This thinking while shaking is so good to see Dale do.  Praise God for His goodness!

Matthew 20: 30 - 34  "And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.  And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace:  but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.  And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?  They say unto Him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.  So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes:  and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Update Monday morning 5/14

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!!  I just erased the part of this update that I had begun and started over.  I was attempting to be sarcastic and tell everyone just how hard life is right now because of Dale's accident---but I couldn't.  God has been far too good to us to downplay any of what He has done, and it is our goal in this blog to detail His wondrous healing of Dale and give Him all the glory for the great things He has done and is continuing to do.  We simply have an almighty God!

Another note of progress:  Saturday night as I was helping Dale down the stairs after his bath, he told me he thought he was ready to walk down both flights of stairs step-over-step.  Usually I have him walk down the first flight by bringing both feet onto the same step, alternating which foot steps down first; then, when we reach the landing, I'll have Dale walk down the second flight step-over-step.  Since he was the one volunteering to try both flights, I quickly agreed.  So, Sunday morning, even though he was shaky and had already fallen once, I reminded him of his decision.  He did great!!!  He walked down both flights of stairs step-over-step with no problem, only scuffing his heel on a step towards the end.  He even caught himself on that one and pushed back up to stand instead of plopping down on the step behind him.  This morning:  same thing........except I tricked him.  I usually walk backwards down the steps in front of him, holding his left hand with my right and using my left hand as an extra support under his left armpit.  This morning, I simply held his left hand and made no attempt to offer that extra armpit support (sounds nasty, doesn't it?).  Dale walked down both flights of stairs just beautifully!  Once we reached the bottom, I told him about the no-extra-support trick I had pulled.  He was shocked to realize that he had done just fine without it.  Just one more thing for which to praise our Maker!

Last Wednesday, Dale had PT and SP back to back.  Dale did great in both therapies, of course.  PT has been playing a game (which also qualifies as work!) in which Dale stands opposite the therapist with me close by just in case.  He holds a hula hoop and tries to spin it forward in such a way that will cause it to roll right back to him.  This requires him to properly flick his wrist as he spins the hoop---kind of like the right way to throw a frisbee as opposed to the way which causes the frisbee to careen wildly all over the park before crashing into the side of some unsuspecting picnicker's head!  (Yes, that's how I throw it!)  The first few times Dale tried the hula hoop trick, he really struggled with both keeping his balance and spinning the hoop.  By Wednesday, he had mastered it.  He spun the hoop correctly about seven times in a row, and Alison said, "This is way too easy for you."  One of the "rules" of PT is:  Never say something is easy because we'll just make it hard!  So, Dale showed that the hoop was no longer a challenge; it was time to move on to something else.  He did some swinging and other exercising and, in general, had a great day.

SP, as I have mentioned, has been really pushing Dale to think hard for longer periods of time, and I have been using that same technique in school as well.  Dale gets especially tired in the afternoons (don't we all?), and he groans each time I bring out another subject or activity for him to work on.  His response time when he's tired is slower but not so much that I feel we're overtaxing his poor, battered brain.  It's good for him to push farther than he wants to; this helps him know he can do it and encourages him to try harder when he knows he's tired.  I, frankly, get a bit discouraged when I look at how much work Dale is doing each day compared with how much of his curriculum books he has left to wade through.  Sometimes it seems like we'll never catch up!  But then I remind myself that (1) God planned this and is using it for His glory, (2) Dale is working hard and steadily and doing well, and (3) we don't need to cover every little exercise in the books as long as Dale is getting the main idea and demonstrating his ability to use the lessons learned.  He really is doing well.  I'd say he's earning a solid "C" average in each subject; some quizzes are a bit lower, but his knowledge of the material is good.

I hope each of you mothers had a special day yesterday.  I say that knowing that, for many of you, the day resembled every other day before it, with the possible exception of folks wishing you "Happy Mother's Day" every other second which you accept and return with a smile that hides your desire to scream loud and long!  I actually got spoiled by my family.  Usually they just sign a card and my husband gives me flowers.  Yesterday, however, I was served breakfast in bed by my recently turned 11 year old and my husband.  (Amanda was not feeling well, although she went to church, and Katie had to get to buses.)  Ashley wound up cooking the pancakes which Katie mixed, scrambling eggs all by herself, and pouring me tea.  What a wonderful surprise!  (The food even tasted good!!!  You mothers know what I'm talking about!)  Then, after the morning service, my husband took me out to lunch.  THAT was completely enjoyable!  I only had to "fix" one meal yesterday---and that was giving Dale a bowl of cereal.  Tough work, don't you know?

Mothers are special people:  sacrificing, hard-working, praying, loving, chastising, underappreciated people.  And, sometimes, we let everyone know just how much they owe us!  Our preacher gave an illustration yesterday that perfectly explained this point:  A man arrived home from work one day to an unexpected scene.  His three children were dancing around on the front lawn, still wearing their pajamas.  It was obvious that their hair had not been combed nor their faces washed all day.  There were empty boxes of cereal and various food containers littering the yard.  The door to his wife's car was standing open, as was the front door of the house.  Upon entering, the man discovered even more chaos.  The living room was a disaster:  cushions thrown on the floor, all the lights on, the TV blaring on the cartoon channel, and an unpleasant "present" left by the family dog in one corner.  Growing more alarmed by the minute, the man raced upstairs to find the same state of confusion in each room:  beds unmade, toilets unflushed, and toys scattered everywhere.  Bursting through the door of the master bedroom, the man was astounded to see his wife, whom he thought must be seriously ill, lounging on the bed, still clad in her nightclothes, sipping some hot tea and paging through a magazine.  He cried out in astonishment, "What is going on?"  His wife glanced up and nonchalently replied, "Well, honey, yesterday you asked me what in the world I do with myself all day long.  Now you know!"

Happy Mother's Day to all the deserving mothers out there........and the rest of us, too!!!  God bless you!

Proverbs 31: 27 - 28  "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Update Tuesday afternoon 5/8

Dale had a super-duper day yesterday!  He was really steady the whole day long; he focused well on his studies; he did great even though I was two and a half hours late giving him his morning meds!  I almost always forget to give Dale his medication Sunday mornings before we leave for church.  Somehow I can't see my mental sticky note reminding me about that!  But, on school days, I rarely forget.  He takes his meds each morning around 9:00; at this time M - F, he is with me in my classroom, so it's easy to hand him his pills with a glass of water.  Somehow, due to adverse weather conditions or sunspots or brain freeze on my part, I completely forgot his morning dose.  We were in the car and halfway to PT when I remembered.  I told Dale we would grab a paper cup of water from the drinking fountain once we got to the waiting room, and he could take his medication then.  I wasn't expecting them to be out of paper cups!  And it would have been very hard for Dale to try to put a pill in his mouth, hold it there while he bent down to take a drink, and manage to swallow properly---without half drowning all over again!  (Don't look at me like's just a joke!)  So, I decided to wait until we entered the PT gym to get a paper cup from there.  But........we didn't go inside the gym right away!  Alison decided that, since Dale was having such a good day so far, that we (she, Dale, and I) would walk down the stairs (which he did step over step the whole thirty steps with his legs buckling on only one), turn the corner, walk down the short open hallway to the front doors, veer right, go down another short flight of stairs, walk down the sidewalk halfway, practice walking up and down a grassy incline, practice sitting down and getting up without much help, and then reverse our steps back to the PT center.  (Now, if that wasn't the world's longest rambling sentence, I don't know what is!  That almost beat Esther 8:9's record!)  This wonderful exercise, which Dale passed with flying colors, took the entire hour appointment.  We walked inside the PT gym in order for Dale to grab a sticker (reward) and for Alison and I to talk for a few if we hadn't been yakking the entire hour anyway.........when something she said reminded me, "Dale!  Seizure meds!"  So, he finally got to take his morning meds when there was only about half an hour left in the morning.  He was fine though---no adverse effects noted.

The rest of Monday went well, too.  He is really coming along in his school work, complaining mildly when I expect him to do more than he wants---which is standard procedure for a seventh grade boy.  Dale even walked a bit by himself at home.  These days are treasured and encouraged, giving all of us something to look forward to on days when he is not so Tuesday!

Dale woke up this morning with almost none of the steadiness of yesterday.  This seems to be the norm; if one day is really good, we can expect the next day to be rather shaky.  We were almost late for school due to Dale's need to go a bit more slowly and road work on our school's backdoor street.  We made it on time, though, and I didn't even speed!  (Not today, anyway.)  Today alone, Dale worked two English grammar lessons (compound subjects/verbs and diagramming), took a grammar quiz (sentence review, simple diagramming---he got a 100% A+!!!), took a spelling and vocabulary quiz (on which he missed only one), worked three math lessons (adding and subtracting fractions), and finished a page and a half in his science pace.  Not bad for a young man who, nine months ago, doctors said wouldn't make it!  Isn't our Lord amazing?  He works best when we have nothing else to help us because then He gets all the glory.  He waits until we get to the end of our rope and then says, "Watch what I can do without rope!"  I am so thankful that God has allowed us to experience firsthand His wonderful goodness and mighty power, and I know that God is not done yet---there's definitely more to come.

Today marks four and a half weeks of progress in a most important area:  the tub.  When Dale first came home from the hospital, he had GREAT difficulty getting into and climbing out of the bathtub.  Bath time was hard enough with having to wash Dale personally again as I did when he was little---except now he's a grown boy---and having to undress and redress him each time.  Plus, Dale was, for a time, afraid again of getting water in his ears or eyes or lying down in the water.  This made bathing him quite a chore, one I'm afraid I reduced to once a week for reasons of convenience.  As his mind progressed out of its haze from the drowning, I was able to reteach him the basics of personal cleanliness and bathing routine.  Eventually, I was able to get him into the tub and leave him to wash himself, staying just down the hall in case he needed me.  Dale would "freak out" over the most trivial things:  the shampoo bottle falling into the water, his leg slipping out of his grasp while he was trying to wash it, being unable to right himself if he felt he was slipping to one side in the tub.  But, for the past month, most of that has simply faded away.  Dale still gets upset when the bottles won't stay on the shelf and he still doesn't like soap in his eyes (who does?), but now he rather calmly grabs for the washcloth to wipe his eyes or tries again to put the bottle upright on the shelf.  Getting into the tub has required almost no assistance on my part other than being close "just in case", and getting out of the tub has gotten easier and easier for Dale.  Today's bath:  Dale needed almost no help getting up on his knees and then standing up to get out.  Praise the Lord for this needed and obvious improvement!

As always, God is good, more than we often give Him credit for.  He is to be desired above all else.  He is I AM.

Psalm 18: 46  "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my Rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."

Friday, May 4, 2012

Update Friday evening 5/4

I apologize for not updating everyone sooner.  Events have conspired against me to not allow me to access a computer in order to provide an update.  Our internet has been down at work where I usually update the blog; my time at home has been filled with things more pressing than my computer time; and our laptop died which further limited my ability to get online.  In other words---I just plain couldn't!

Our week has been ultra busy with school, appointments, and stuff too numerous (and boring) to tell.  Dale had PT on Monday; he did his usual fantastic job of working hard and not giving up.  Monday was a somewhat shaky day for him, but things improved as time went on.  We made an extra stop at the pharmacy downtown to pick up more meds for Dale.  I had called the automatic refill line two weeks before in order to have Dale's next refill delivered to our house.  We had not received the order by mail as of last Friday, so I called to check on it, only to be told that they don't stock that particular dosage level and had to special order it from their warehouse.  They had just shipped it the day before (last Thursday) and estimated its arrival sometime the end of this week.  I asked them to call the neurologist and ask for a seven-day prescription to be filled so Dale would not have to skip any doses; he's had to do that before, and this medication is not something one should go off cold turkey.  They told me that they couldn't have it to the pharmacy before Saturday, necessitating an extra trip downtown (45 minutes one way) to pick it up.  Since I counted and knew there were enough pills to last Dale through Monday morning's dose, I chose to wait until Monday to pick up the prescription.  When I arrived at the pharmacy counter, to my surprise there were two separate prescriptions waiting:  one at the regular dosage level and one at the next largest dosage level (something they said they could not give me since the doctor had written the script for the smaller size).  I didn't mind; I knew I now had plenty to get us through until the ordered meds arrived at the house.  Was I ever shocked/annoyed when we got home that afternoon to find the mail-ordered meds waiting for us at home!  Soooo, we now have more than enough pills to last us a while.  Dale has been taking the larger pills at night (four small pills equal two large pills) and having no trouble getting them down; he takes the smaller pills in the morning since the dose is three and a half pills.  At least we know we won't run out any time soon!

Tuesday was just a school day for us.  Things are a little weird since some teachers and the principal are gone with the seniors on their Senior Trip.  Other teachers are filling in for them but some classes are simply turned into study halls, so I've kept Dale with me to continue his schoolwork.  He's doing well, plodding through history (interesting but rather full of facts), enduring English (he gets it, just isn't his favorite subject), understanding math (making mistakes like we all do---or is that just me?), and reveling in science (looooves it!).  He took a math test recently, and I had him correct his mistakes after I graded it.  I'm hoping this will help him realize he needs to be more careful in his calculating.  He also took a grammar test and did okay.  His science check-up:  great!  History test coming up, though, over three chapters.......we'll see.

Wednesday was, by far, the hardest day of this week.  Dale's and my day began extra early since we had to be at the neurologist's office at 8:00 a.m.---meaning we had to leave the house by 7:15, meaning we had to get up and get going by 6:30!  Dale was doing all right until it came time to go down the stairs.  He had already fallen three times, due to his legs buckling and him not being able to catch himself.  I thought he was going to have a seizure right there on the stairs (wouldn't be the first time), but, thank God, he pulled himself back from the brink of the seizure in time.  Amanda wound up going down the stairs behind Dale (I was in front) and catching him each time his legs buckled.......which was on each step.  When we got to the second flight of stairs, Dale asked if he could just scoot down on his bottom.  I was absolutely fine with that, but, even then, Dale's legs kept jerking and he was having a hard time all around.  It took us ten minutes just to get down the stairs and then another ten minutes to get Dale from the front door into the van.  He just didn't have the strength to stabilize the jerking or catch himself whenever he would fall.  I honestly thought he was going to have (another) seizure trying to get into the van.  We have been practicing the routine needed to get him into the front seat, but Dale's hands and legs wouldn't cooperate.  Katie stood behind us, ready to help grab him if he went into a seizure; again, thank the Lord, that crisis was averted, and Dale was eventually settled in the front seat.  By this time we were running about ten minutes behind schedule.  Unfortunately, things didn't get better.

We hit some traffic while heading to the neurologist's office and pulled into the parking garage about fifteen minutes late for our 8:00 appointment.  I immediately called the office to tell them we were on our way up.  Would you believe I was on hold, waiting for someone human to answer, for fourteen minutes?!  During this time, Dale and I slowly made our way from the parking garage to the elevator, down the hallway, across the lobby, down a second hallway, out the side door, across a short walk to the next building, down that hallway, around the corner to the elevators, and up to the second floor........only to find we were in the wrong place!  I had mistakenly gotten us to the EEG department---a legitimate error, since we had been there the end of December for Dale's EEG and then at the neurologist's office a few days later in the beginning of January.  FINALLY at this point, someone answered the phone!  I explained the situation, and they said they would call up to the office to find out if we could even still be seen since we were by now sooooo late.  Within a minute, she had gotten back on the line with the information that we could still go up to the office (and she gave us proper directions) but would have to wait until the doctor was free before Dale could be seen.  Doing our best to maintain smiles, Dale and I made our way laboriously from the east wing (EEG) to the west wing (not the White House) where I thankfully deposited Dale on a waiting room chair and went to check in.

The receptionist who checked us in was kind and nicely efficient, something I greatly appreciated since I was on the verge of a total meltdown.  Unfortunately, the other receptionist did not weigh her words quite as carefully as did the lady dealing with me.  When I asked if they knew how long it might be before Dale could be seen (we had an hour to spare before SP), the other receptionist replied, "We don't know.  The patients who were here on time need to be seen first."  I wanted to boil over!  I wanted to really let her have it.  After all, if she had any idea just how hard I had worked to get there that morning, she would have felt terrible.  Every fiber of my being wanted to rip her face off.  Somewhere deep inside, the Holy Spirit said, "DON'T YOU DO IT!"  I think the Spirit Himself held my tongue and only allowed me to say, "Well, that was a little rude, but it's okay."  She immediately responded, "I'm sorry."  She truly hadn't meant her words to be mean, and I could tell she wasn't trying to reprimand me for my being tardy---we were forty minutes late to the appointment!  By some anti-natural force, I kept the tears from filling my eyes and managed to get through the rest of the check-in process, even responding with grateful words when the other receptionist volunteered some other bit of information.  Dale and I sat in the waiting room for only a few minutes before the nurse called us back to take his vital signs and weight.  They sent us back out to the waiting room to wait for the doctor to come get us.  This was actually a blessing, allowing Dale and I some much-needed time to decompress.  There was a small kiosk with pre-loaded video games that Dale played until we were called; I got to read a magazine.  We only had to wait about twenty minutes for the doctor to call us---which is a really short amount of time, when you think about it.  This visit was much shorter than the one in January, really just a check-up on Dale's condition.  The doctor was impressed with Dale's progress and enjoyed the humor Dale displayed while there.  In January, Dale was still in his "waking up" phase and had not fully regained his mental faculties.  This time, he was talking and laughing and making jokes.  The doctor did run through a few of the tests he had done last visit, noting the ease with which Dale performed these tasks.  He observed Dale walking (just a few steps on his own), touching his nose with his fingers while keeping his eyes closed, etc.  He asked about Dale's latest seizure (now almost five weeks past!) and asked about any problems.  He was able to download the MRI Dale had done and show us the results.  I had never seen an actual MRI (do medical TV shows count as real?) and really didn't know what to make of it.  Obviously, this was Dale's head being imaged, but I couldn't see the things the doctor was seeing.  The doctor, however, was impressed with the results, telling us that, usually in the case of a drowning victim, you can see changes in the brain where the damages occurred.  (I believe there might be areas of discoloration or signs of damaged tissue or blockages where brain matter died and connections had to be rerouted.)  In Dale's MRI, everything looks normal........NORMAL!  There are no signs of damaged brain tissue, no problems.  To clarify, I asked the doctor, "You mean, if you or I were to have an MRI, the result would look like this?"  His answer:  "Yes."  I said, "Praise the Lord!"  I didn't even ask him to try to explain how this could be; I knew---it was God!  The doctor just kept looking at the images and kind of shaking his head, half smiling, knowing this was a miracle.  I then asked him if he had any idea if or when we could expect the jerking and shaking to settle down, and he again smiled when he replied, "We don't often get cases like this (where the patient recovers so well after drowning).  I really don't know; I can't predict what will happen."  Dale is a one-of-a-kind miracle case to the doctors, but he's just another example of how great our God is.  We walked out of the doctor's office that morning---slowly and shuffling some!---grinning from ear to ear.  Our God is showing Himself to be powerful beyond imagination.  Nothing is beyond His reach!

Our day wasn't over yet.  We had to rush to get to SP on time, walking in only one minute late.  Lisa worked Dale rather hard, pushing him deliberately to keep thinking even after he was showing obvious signs of slowing.  This is good for him; it teaches his brain to keep connecting when it's tired, and it shows Dale he can keep going even when he thinks he can't.  From SP we went directly to PT where Alison took no pity on him, just directed him to the stairs.  Dale surprised himself, I think, by doing well walking down the stairs and even walked down the last flight step-over-step.  He sat down on a convenient bench for a quick rest before walking back up the entire flight of stairs step-over-step.  When we went inside the PT gym, Dale got to get on the swing for a bit before standing at the bar for some jumping practice (he did 20 jumps in a thirty-second period!) and practicing on the balance board (wobble board).  By then, he was more than ready to be done, and so was I.  Once we finally got in the van, he and I were very glad to point the car home!

Dale has good days and bad days.  Thursday at school, Dale worked hard and got a lot done.  His shakiness comes and goes, and he is learning to deal with it.  I am deliberately trying to let him do more walking on his own with me just gripping the back of his belt or his shirt instead of holding his hand.  Today has been a day off school, so our pace has been rather slow and lazy all day.  Dale surprised me this morning by getting himself dressed before I even got to his room to wake him up!  We take each day as it comes and thank our Heavenly Father for everything, good and bad.  We wouldn't be in this position to publicly praise Him if not for August 5, 2011, and His clear hand in our lives.  Praise be to God for His unspeakable goodness and mercy!

Ecclesiastes 3:1  "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."