Saturday, September 17, 2016

This is it---Dale's senior year!

Wow! It's so hard to believe that Dale is a senior in high school this year! It seems like just yesterday he was a toddler in the nursery while I taught my first year of school, and now he's finishing his high school courses and preparing to graduate.  How time does fly!

This is a big year of changes and new horizons for all of us.  On August 23rd, we saw Dale's pediatric neurologist for the last time. (Sniff, sniff.) This is the same man who came to see Dale when he was in Good Samaritan Rehab about three weeks after his accident.  Dale had spent about 2 1/2 weeks at OHSU in Oregon, slowly making progress after the drowning.  He was transferred to Good Sam where he would undergo extensive therapy to try to establish how badly injured his brain was and how much of his natural abilities he would be able to regain.  We had only been there a couple of days when Dale had a full grand mal seizure, scaring the physical therapist and me half to death! We were on a cement staircase outside in the garden, and I was so thankful that she had already had a solid grip on the therapy belt Dale was wearing (worn for that specific purpose), for that was the only thing that kept my son from tumbling down the stairs and sustaining further injury. Dr. Al-Mateen was called in to assess Dale's neurological status, and our relationship with him was born.  He is the kindest man, very wise and respected in his field, always ready to listen to the ramblings of this mama when trying to explain Dale's symptoms (or jokes!). We've had the privilege of seeing Dr. Al-Mateen twice a year or so for the last five years, and it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye without crying.  I feel like we're losing a member of the family, one whom I could trust with the details of my son's condition.  But, since Dale will have turned eighteen by the time of the next six-month appointment, he can no longer see a pediatric neurologist; instead we were given a referral to an adult neurologist whom Dr. Al-Mateen works with to transition his patients to when they become adults. Another door closed….

Before we left the doctor's office, I was able to meet with a sweet, helpful lady whose job it is to answer all the myriad questions exploding in my brain---like "Does Dale qualify for some sort of disability that might help him take college classes online?" or "How do we know what paperwork to fill out?" She gave me a healthy sheaf of papers to read through which should help us when Dale turns eighteen.  We can't actually do anything until then, so I'm already planning on taking some time over Christmas break and getting ready to send in whatever forms are appropriate.

Please pray with us for Dale's future.  We honestly don't know what is going to happen, and there are so many unanswered questions right now.  I'm not one of those "go with the flow" people; I like order and answers and preparation.  This time of waiting is seriously causing me (and, thus, my family) stress, but it's also pushing me to my knees.  I need God's mindset and timing, but most of all I just need to trust.  Never easy to do but always the right idea!  So much remains up in the air, including any possible future online classes for Dale, job opportunities for him, my job situation, and so on.  Just pray that I, especially, will be willing to do what God wants when He says, not fight for what I think is best when He may have something better in store.

Dale's senior year started off with a bang.  Dale's neurology appointment was the same morning as the start of Teacher Orientation for this new school year.  Naturally, I could not be in two places at once, so I missed that morning's talk. Chad and the two youngest girls, Ashley and Emily, left to go camping for a few days that afternoon, leaving the house strangely quiet….and clean. Dale and I wound up staying until 8:00 that night at school, trying to get some work accomplished.  The following morning, Wednesday, Dale and I were getting ready to head for school for the next Teacher Orientation session.  Dale had not had to get up too early on Wednesday because my meeting didn't start until 9:00, which was a blessing since he had had to get up at 6:45 the previous morning to get to his doctor appointment! He seemed to be a bit unsteady on the stairs going down to breakfast, and when he reached the dining room, things absolutely fell apart.  Instead of turning and sitting on the chair, his foot caught and he landed awkwardly sideways on the chair.  His bottom was almost sliding off the chair, and his head was jammed up against the table.  I was trying to steady him, keep his head from hitting the table, and prevent him from sliding off the chair onto the floor when it happened---the dreaded seizure.  His brain couldn't handle the overload of panicked messages it was being flooded with, and it couldn't correct the problems, so it just shut down for a moment.  I had hold of Dale the whole time, but I shouted for Katie to come stand behind him, since I was really scared I couldn't keep him on the chair.  This seizure wasn't any longer than the others, but it was frustrating for Dale since we had just been able to tell the neurologist the day before that he hadn't had any seizures for a long while! Anyway, once the seizure released its hold, I was able to brace Dale better in his chair and wait for his senses to return.

Any time Dale has a seizure, he loses all abilities and is virtually paralyzed for a time until feeling returns.  His involuntary functions work steadily (lungs, heart), but he can't move his limbs, he can't see, he can't do anything except cry.  Having a seizure is scary, and Dale gets so upset about having to go through another one that he spend a few minutes crying at the top of his lungs in fear and frustration. Imagine how you would react, knowing all control was being forcibly wrested from you, plus not knowing what you might not get back.

So Dale's senior year (actually the week before school started) got off to a rough start.  Yesterday, also, Dale struggled in the morning.  He fell twice in the bathroom within a five-minute time period.  After the second fall, he just lay on the bathroom rug and had a short pity party---and I let him.  Everyone needs a feel-sorry-for-me time, even if just to get it out of their system.  I made the decision to slow things down, not continue the rush to get out the door to school, for Dale's sake.  He already knows that our family arranges our schedules, activities, and lives around him, for necessity's sake; this time, he needed to know that we do it because we love him and want what's best for him.  We took it easy getting down the stairs and made sure he got a good breakfast before actually heading for school.  The rest of the day was easier, since we had a home Football Jamboree, and the seniors (Dale included) got to man the concession stand all day.

I'm so excited about this next announcement!  We are currently working out the details/arrangements so that Dale will get to go on his senior trip!!! Chad and I didn't think this was possible until Preacher approached Chad and said he didn't think it was any great difficulty.  He referenced another disabled student who had been able to go on his own senior trip; this other student simply needed help getting into and out of cars and such, but the chaperones and other students made it happen.  So, we talked to Dale and the chaperones for this year, and we're working toward the goal of Dale getting to go.  I'm so excited for Dale!!! He's concerned that he will not be able to raise the kind of money it will take to go (because they've chosen Disneyworld as their destination), but he's working every concession booth he can to raise money, and he's going to participate in as many fundraisers as possible.  Praise the Lord!

Since this is Dale's senior year---and, as such, a major turning point in his life, I want to make this year as great as possible for him.  He already put lots of effort into making this year easier for himself academically by working so hard during summer school to get caught up so that he has started this year a full senior.  He's no longer making up lost time in English or any subject, just working toward passing the subjects he needs to graduate in June.  This meant he worked for several hours a day, five days a week, clear through the end of July, to get caught up.  His PACEs this year include Bible, English, Business Math, Health (1 semester), and Government/Economics.  He also takes choir in place of Bible one day a week, and he'll get to take Yearbook next semester once his health PACEs are complete, plus he gets to sit in the Government/Economics class hour with his fellow seniors.  I'm thankful he gets to be in at least one class hour with his classmates. I think Dale's mind is still in catch-up mode because, at the pace he has set for himself and as hard as he is already working, it seems like Dale is going to be finished with his PACEs in March!!!

So, as you can tell, our lives are just about as busy as always. It's amazing how much that one day five years ago has affected our lives, and yet time didn't stop for us. God's plan is not to get frozen in one instance or one situation, but to keep moving forward and keep growing and learning and adapting to life.  We were just discussing this in the car on the way (finally) to school yesterday morning: This world is not our home.  Everything we experience in this life, whether good or bad, is only temporary.  Those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour have an eternal home waiting for us which will make this earthly time seem so unimportant.  This is all we know for now, but God tells us to be patient, keep trusting, and tell as many others as possible about His Son, because one day, hopefully soon, we're going Home. The joys, the trials, the failures, the achievements of our time here on earth will pale with one glimpse of our Redeemer. So we keep living, we keep striving, we keep going, so that one day our Lord will be able to say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  Treasured words, those.  God bless each of you.

II Corinthians 4: 16-18  "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."