Our first week of summer vacation is coming to a close, so why don't I feel rested? It must be because each day has been filled with activities, dental visits, and youth functions. Monday---Dale had PT and Emily graduated K-5. Tuesday---we wound up running errands. Wednesday---the girls all had dental appointments: then I had Buttons and Bows; Amanda and Katie went to teen soul winning; and, of course, there was the mid-week service. Thursday---Dale and I went to the dentist; Amanda had a cleaning job; we got some groceries before picking up Mandie again and heading home (I think we got lunch around 2:00!). Friday---Dale had SP; the girls came along so that after SP we could all walk around the mall......we spent two hours there despite my best intentions; we were home for a few hours before I took Dale, Katie, and Amanda up to church for a youth activity. So here I am on Saturday morning wondering if I can just stay home today! :-/
Dale was supposed to have PT Wednesday morning, but he woke up feeling rather sick. He said he felt like he did at PT a couple of weeks ago when he kind of "checked out" for a few seconds and began swaying. I tried gently pushing him to finish getting ready, thinking that the 45-minute trip to get to PT could help settle his stomach and calm his shaking (it has before), but he was really in distress. So I called PT and canceled the appointment, deciding to give Dale a proper breakfast before taking him with me to the girls' dental appointments. He seemed to be doing all right as the day wore on.........and Dr. Knox and his staff were all pleased to see Dale (and us!) since we hadn't been able to go to them for some time due to insurance difficulties. We enjoyed catching up and rejoicing again over God's continuous healing of Dale; plus, my kids have always enjoyed going to the dentist. Dr. Knox is superb with children, although he is not just a pediatric dentist, and my children, though plagued with some cavities, don't kick and scream at the thought of getting their teeth cleaned and examined. There were a few reported cavities, though none serious, and some orthodontic references we may pursue if we wish. (You know, if we suddenly inherit several thousand dollars!) A friend of mine once put it like this: "If they can still eat, they don't need braces." I like that opinion, but we'll have work done if we feel they truly need it.
Thursday's dental visit went well for both Dale and myself. I was a bit concerned for Dale's teeth, since he went through a period of a few weeks without brushing. While in the PICU, the nurse used some kind of anti-bacterial swab of mouthwash on Dale's teeth and gums. This may have been because they wanted to prevent tooth decay, or it may have been to combat the various nasty bacteria Dale picked up when he swallowed half the ocean. Then, at Good Sam rehab, part of Dale's OT was brushing his teeth in the morning. It was truly comical watching this poor boy, who had only the vaguest idea what was going on (his brain was still quite foggy), trying to go through the normal motions of oral hygiene. He couldn't figure out how to squeeze the toothpaste onto the toothbrush; his brushing motions were only half-hearted; he wasn't yet cleared for thin liquids so he wasn't supposed to drink any water (he would allow liquid right into his trachea without realizing it or coughing it out), so rinsing his mouth was "allowed" but not condoned; and his ability to spit properly was completely absent---he wound up with most of his spittle, toothpaste, and drool down his front! Of course, the OT therapist was right there beside him to help, but still, looking back, that was both funny and scary. At that point, we still weren't sure how much Dale would get back. We believed God would heal him fully, but everyone was telling us it would be a long process. I took to brushing Dale's teeth at night before bed so as to be sure his teeth were clean at least once a day; I continued this practice for a few months after we got home until I was certain he could handle it on his own. Even then, I worried that his teeth were going to develop major cavities, but the dentist reported only a small one in a back molar; he said it can wait until the tooth in front of it falls out (baby tooth) so as to give the dentist the best angle possible at which to fill the cavity. All in all, our dental appointments went very well!
Dale got to go to a youth activity last night!!! I don't think he has attended one since his accident. For the first several months, Dale was not "awake" enough or steady enough to allow him to go, but he's made such great progress in his balance and walking that attending this activity seemed the right move. Amanda and Katie agreed to help Dale whenever he needed it, and Chad approved of the idea, so off they went! The teens had a cookout at Bro. Jon and Mrs. Whitney's house. Everyone met at the church and boarded a bus to go over to their house; Amanda helped Dale up the bus steps and into a seat. I have to say---I was expecting a phone call saying there had been an accident and we needed to come get Dale. Considering my overactive imagination, I could foresee every possible problem arising........but nothing too bad happened. Dale did fall on the sidewalk, even while holding Mandie's hand, and managed to acquire quite a lump on the back of his head. He said he cried a little but stopped soon. They didn't even apply ice, and the swelling is almost completely gone this morning. This apparently happened on the very short walk from the bus to the front door of their house, and Dale still had a good time at the activity. He even walked from one room to the next to play a video game (are we surprised?) without any help. This made his sisters and Mrs. Whitney gasp when he suddenly appeared in the next room, but Mrs. Whitney recovered quickly and told the girls not to be mother hens but to let Dale be with the guys if he wanted to. ***Dale has been gaining independence more and more lately. We don't give him any assistance walking around the house, down the hall to the bathroom, or getting to the table for a meal. This encourages him to take little walks like the aforementioned stroll from one room to the next. In fact, Wednesday night after the service, Dale walked from the front pew where we sit all the way out to the van by himself!*** They all had a great time and came home relatively unharmed. I was actually relieved to get the "Dale got hurt" episode over at the first activity so no one would be constantly worried something might happen. Now they know that it already did and all was well, so they can breathe more easily from now on.
Amanda and Katie are getting excited about their upcoming Youth Conference trip to California. Every year, North Valley Baptist Church holds a giant conference for teenagers; they play games, hold music contests, have skits---but, most importantly, preach to the teens about doing God's will, making right decisions, and setting standards. This will be Mandie's third year going but only Katie's second. Last year, Katie had earned all the money and was set to go but began having those severe headaches that were finally diagnosed as migraines. Unfortunately, the diagnosis didn't come until after Youth Conference, so Dale went in her place. He had a great time, despite being accidentally left on the bus one night. He was tuckered out and had fallen asleep on the bus ride back to the hotel; when they reached their destination, no one bothered to wake him up! The adult chaperones should have checked the bus to be sure everyone got off, but they were probably too tired themselves. Dale slept on until about 1:00 in the morning when he awoke, somewhat confused about his surroundings. He got off the bus, stumbled into the hotel, found his room........and couldn't get in because he didn't have a key card! He knocked on the door several times, but his roommates didn't hear him, being dead asleep. The guys across the hall heard him, though, and went with him to the office to get another key card. Dale said they made it fun, pretending like they were on some secret spy mission and avoiding the security officer patrolling the lot. We were rather upset when we found out what had happened, though thankful that Dale was all right; Bro. Jon was very apologetic, and Pastor Minge assured us that steps had been taken to ensure no one would ever be left on a bus again like that! If Dale had not had his accident and could have earned the money, he would still be going this year. Considering the circumstances now, we won't send him until he is able to take care of himself better.
Praise the Lord for His continued goodness to us through hard times and easy. We are blessed to call Him Father and rejoice in our difficulties, knowing that He is working in our lives and will continue to do so as long as we let Him.
Ezekiel 34: 11 - 12 "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day."