Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My dad is home!

Ok, bear with me because this blog might be longer than others but it will be worth your time. Today was the big day - my dad came home today!  We went up to Brooks this morning and got one more visitor sticker and helped bring all this stuff down and put it in the suburban so that when it was time for him to leave, it would be easy for him to get in the car and go!  The "It's your time to shine" gets put on the patients door on the day they are being discharged and they also get a neat little ribbon that says "Brooks Rehabilitation Graduate"....

I thought it was nice that each of my dads therapists came by to tell him good bye and tell him how great he has done and that he will continue to improve, that he hasn't even plateaued yet! From left to right there is Johnathan - who encouraged my dad to eat when he didn't have much of an appetite, here lately my dad started telling everybody that he would go to dinner alone and 'eat with the guys.' Susanna was my dads occupational therapist.  She helped him learn how to get dressed, brush his teeth, wash his hands, the every day things that you and I take for granted. I feel bad that I don't know the name of the next person in the gray shirt - I wasn't there for as much of his afternoon therapy sessions as I was for the mornings but I am told that she helped with Bioness in the afternoons which is what they put on my dads right arm and it stimulates the muscles to open and close his hand.  The next picture is with Vince, another one of the 'guys' that my dad would eat with and also somebody who worked side by side with the physical therapist.  Next would be Michael - my dad's physical therapist.  He helped to get my dad walking again, but will tell you it isn't about what he can do for my dad, but only helping my dad with what God has given him, he says the he is the instrument that God uses to help people get back to life.  Then there is his speech therapist.  He showed great improvement, even though speech has been the most difficult so far. I can't even begin to name all the nurses who have been there to help him and encourage him.  Even if they didn't have my dad, some of them would come and check on him because they were so inspired and uplifted by his progress. I am grateful for the nurses who also looked out of my mom and encouraged her when she needed it.  It is about so much more than just taking care of my dads physical needs to these people, but also listening and encouraging my mom and our family.  My dad would not be where he is today if it weren't for the kind hearted, patient people who worked with him day in and day out - and who truly believed in him and that he could overcome this.  

 As I peeled off my visitor badge from Brooks, I thought this chapter closes at Brooks with my dad, but somehow I don't think that book is finished for me yet.  I hope that when I go to Brooks again, it is to gather observation hours towards becoming a therapy assistant.  I'm not sure if it will be occupational or physical therapy, but my dads physical therapist was very encouraging and told me if I have the means to go forth and purse it then I should.  He pointed out my heart and compassion and desire to see others succeed.  He also told me that maybe my dads accident was to show me my calling. That probably wasn't the first time I heard that. He then told me that he was in school to be an elementary teacher and his father had a similar situation as my dads, and he ended up becoming a physical therapist.  He has been doing this for 13 years and says he has found his 'niche' and has never regretted the choice. He views his job as a labor of love. 

I got the call from Vanessa at about 11:15 that they were in the car and heading home!  I was actually out running errands with my brother and my boys and trying to find some last minute things.  When we got home he was eating some lunch, but I told my sister to make sure she took pictures of him as he was coming into the house!  At one point he stood up from the couch and said he would be back and went to walk out the front door.  He can not just get up and go by himself, somebody needs to be with him since his leg is still weak.  He kept telling me to stay but I said no I didn't want him to fall or get hurt.  So he walked out the front door, down the ramp and around the front yard and then went and looked at the truck and then stood by the ramp and was doing some squats and lifting his leg and knees up and stretching them out and then he went to walk around the yard again and I told him we should sit on the porch for a little break.  He agreed! When we went back inside we thought he was saying, "I missed you" to my brother and then he turned to me and said, "I will miss you."  He thought he would have to go back to Brooks so we had to explain to him that he was home.  He took a little nap, today was a big day for him.  He woke up when grandma and pop stopped by to help fix a light that was literally burning up and smoking...

 My dad got up from his little nap when grandma and pop got there.  Pop took some measurements and checked what was going on and then he and my mom went to the store to get what he needed to fix it.  They ended up having to replace the entire thing.  When we took the old one down we realized that my dad had drilled a lot of holes in search of the stud in the ceiling to mount the four foot long light.  And we didn't mark where the screws were or where they needed to go in the new we had to find the stud finder and extra wood and then Vanessa and I got schooled by pop as to what wires go where.  It is really hard to hold your arms above your head that long but it did give us a pretty good feeling when it was all done!  Grandma spent some time talking to my dad and we were singing some songs while we waited for my mom and grandpa to get back from home depot. When it was all said and done and the new light was all installed and tested and everything worked, then Pop and dad were sitting on the couch talking about it afterwards!  

Shortly after grandma and pop left, we were outside and getting ready to head home when my dad was sitting on the porch and he said, "I'm back, I'm home. We are the home team." I am thankful that he remembers this 'home team' that he has helped to create and that we don't leave any of our team mates behind!  I walked home with the boys, and a really big smile, and an incredibly happy heart.  It is a really good feeling to be able to look down at my parents house, see the truck and the suburban and know that both my mom and my dad are home.  I never could sleep when I was little until I knew my dad was home.  There was just an uneasiness and inability to sleep.  Some things never change, I didn't like that I could look down and see his truck but he wasn't there, one more reason that I am glad he is home. Tonight I imagine that we will all sleep really well, perhaps the first time in 40 days.

Which brings me to the next point of reflection.  I recently completed a bible study by Angie Smith titled "Seameless Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story."  Last night as I was writing the blog about my dads home coming, I looked at the calendar and started counting how many days it had been  since he was last at home, how long all this had been going on.  Honestly some days it just felt like it was all running together and hard to keep track of how long he had been at each place and how much longer until he would be home.  So in this bible study it pointed out a little "tidbit of bible trivia - every time the number 40 is used in scripture, it indicates a time of testing."  How fitting, that God would show us, in one more way ---just how much He is in control of all this, that it is part of His plan, and that He isn't finished with my dad yet. Today marks day 40 since his stroke....

Enjoy these videos -- the first one is my dad and my sister and my grandma singing Amazing Grace - my dad always loved that song and enjoyed singing it.

This video - well, it is the other side of my dad!  

I love my dad so much!  I love my mom so much!  I am happy that they are both home tonight!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


It is the night before the day that my family and I have patiently waited dad is coming home tomorrow!  It has been 39 days since my dad had his stroke.  Some days it feels like it has only been a week and other days it feels like it has been months. I am proud of all that my dad has accomplished in such a short amount of time.  I am confident that he will continue to improve, especially being in the comfort of his own home.  I haven't blogged much about him the past few days,  I haven't even been up to see him yesterday or today.  I have been helping my brother and sister get things in order at home.  After a day like today, well lets just say they are probably happy that I am home now and they get a break!  We deep cleaned the house to get it "company clean," only this time it was all about welcoming dad home, not trying to impress people who only come occasionally or for a specific purpose!  After a day of cleaning like this my dad would say, "hold on let me get out my white glove."  It was a joke to see if things were clean!  I allowed my siblings a break for lunch, wasn't that nice of me?  On my way back from lunch I stopped to pick up some essentials that my dad would need to make his transition to home a little easier, and save my mom some time from having to go get these last minute items.  After finishing the house I then pushed the lawnmower down and cut the yard, making sure all the lines in the grass are even and straight....because I have nothing better to do with my time!  Half way through cutting the yard one of the wheels fell off the lawnmower, but I didn't let that stop me...I pushed through it and cut the rest of the front yard while holding the mower up and pushing it forward since it had one wheel that was dangling.  I got a good workout that way.  Unfortunately I think I might have to start looking into buying a new lawnmower...I don't really think cutting three yards with a lawnmower with only 3 wheels will work out too well....I try not to think about the fact that this would be easy for my dad to just swap out the decks since the motor still works great....there is so much that I miss about him, and so much about what he did for me that I took for granted.  Life changes so fast. 

I am glad that he will come home to a yard that has been kept up with and a clean house and of course all of us!  I have so many feelings though - anticipation, fear of the unknown, will we be able to understand each other? This is where the new normal becomes more real for each of us.  We have adjusted and been there to encourage him every step of the way, but have also known that a nurse is taking care of most of his needs - now we have to help him transition to being home and be his own personal nurses! What will that look like?  Will he be more stubborn about the helmet at home?  Will he understand the limitations right now?  Will he try to over do it? Will he be happy?  How will therapy work?  How will we coordinate schedules so somebody is with him?  I know we will make it all work out.  I love my dad so much and I am so happy that he is coming home!

Special thanks to his physical therapists for the pictures in today's blog....I think my dad pointing to the Brooks sign should be used by Brooks somehow....

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Every day is a gift...

I can't tell you how great it is to know that the people who work with my dad every day, really truly care about him.  Yes they show up because it is their job, but they truly go above and beyond. They cheer him on with every milestone and really stand in awe of all that he has accomplished in such a short amount of time.  I got the video above, in a text message from my dads physical therapist this morning.  He tries to grab my dad for extra therapy when ever he can.  I can't tell you how surprised I was when we pulled into the parking lot at Brooks this afternoon and saw my mom and dad walking back from the fountains outside, with his physical therapist behind him.  He wasn't even having to walk beside him to catch him.  We parked the car and were hoping to catch up with them, they took the stairs, we parked the car and took the elevator and they managed to beat us!  My dad walked up 3 flights of stairs.  The look of pride and accomplishment on his face was priceless! He's got this! 

We brought him a milkshake and he ate some fries and then he had physical therapy.  When they came to get him for therapy he said something about it being 'man time' to my mom and told her to stay.  Seth really wanted to see him walk and see what he did, I told Dennis well I can't go because he clearly said it was 'man time' Dennis and Seth went and hung out with him while he did his therapy.  Seth got to see him walk three laps around the floor!  At one point the therapist was telling Dennis stuff to do with him as well.  I thought it was kind of neat that they were there for that today. 

After a cup of ice, we headed back outside.  It was a nice day and the breeze was great and the boys were ready to play some golf.  They have a healing garden and duck/koi pond and a little nature walk and a little putting green.  We brought my dad one of his clubs today and what do you know, he managed a hole in one, left handed!  He played the three holes twice and then we looked at the colors of the flowers and finally were able to get some ducks to come eat the bread that we brought along to feed them.  It was a nice afternoon.

My mom asked Seth to borrow his banana grams because the speech therapist recommended scrabble letters so that my dad could start relearning words and sounds and speaking.  This is probably the most difficult therapy for him right now.  I am confident that it will come back, that he will talk again.  Right now he is repeating a lot.  The goal is to put the letters out, see if he can make the word, see if he can say the word, if not we give him the beginning sound of the word, and then if he can't get it we tell him. Then we try another word, not very long words, and try to go between the two to see if he remembers. Lucky for my dad, he is married to a teacher!  I will be more than happy to sit with him at home and go over words and pictures and help in any way that I can.  When we came back up to the room after being outside, he went to the tray of letters and my mom had set aside the letters of his name but they were not in the right order, he put them in the right order and said Vaughn. Another win for today! 

We left for home shortly after this, still had some stuff to get done before dinner.  Wanted to make an early dinner and enjoy the movie War Room that we picked up yesterday.  Dennis had to fix a leaky faucet in the bath tub and got that done while I was working on dinner.  He tried it, and it worked, mission accomplished.  After I got out of the shower I noticed the hot water was like a steady stream, when it was turned off and that wasn't good.  Dennis said yeah I know what I need to adjust so I might as well get it done now so that I don't wake the boys up trying to fix it because we don't want the hot water to be constantly running.  In the process of trying to fix it, well it somehow got stuck when he was testing it at one point and he couldn't turn the water off, so we had a valve completely opened and hot water that we couldn't turn off.  He ran out side to cut the water off, I should also mention at this point that Ivan REALLY likes to help, so when Dennis went outside to turn the water off he wanted to go with and hold the flash light, Dennis has a lot of patience so he had Ivan helping him.  Then as he is lifting the lid and looking for the thing to turn, Vanessa drives by and honks the horn, so Ivan turned his light towards the road, while Dennis is now in the dark trying to get the water turned off, that mind you is going full force in the tub!  

I was sitting inside having a moment, thinking if this was how things used to be, I would have looked to see if dad was home and called him to come help us, he would have come and walked Dennis through what to do to fix it.  At about this time Dennis turned to me and said, 'hey why don't you call your dad and see if he can come down and look at this.'....he knew what I was thinking and I never said a word.  Times like this make me sad, makes me think about what I have lost.  Makes me think about the wealth of knowledge that is within my dad. Makes me think about how much progress he has made in just over a months time.  Made me think that things will never be the same....and then I was stopped in my tracks later when I was reading a book that said, "they cried out in desperation, 'things will never be the same' to which he responded ' maybe God doesn't want them to be the same."  Maybe that was my message from God tonight.  Maybe God doesn't want things the same, maybe he doesn't want things how they used to be.  I remember my mom saying, when my dad was going through some mental health struggles, that she felt like God was closing the Sears chapter, and just clearing some things out of the way for my dads next mission.  I see how the elderly gentleman he used to take care of, got into an assisted living facility, my dad was medically retired from his job, he was finally finding some solid ground with his mental health.  I remember my mom and dad taking a trip to South Carolina recently and my mom telling me how her and my dad were talking and especially about how good he was doing with his mental health.  I remember my mom telling me that my dad said he would see how good he was doing when some crisis situations came up.  Almost a week after he said this his brother was in a horrible car accident, they had to use the jaws of life and he spent 53 days in  ICU because of how bad his injuries were.  My dad was handling this well, sad at moments, just like anybody would be.  But he was still able to do what he needed to do every day and that difficult situation did not push him back with his mental health progress.  Then about one month after he was talking to my mom about dealing with a crisis situation, he had a stroke.  I guess maybe we should be careful what we say, because God will make a way.  After all, "He permits what he hates, to achieve what he loves. (Randy Alcorn)"  

I think about all that we have gained and learned and how we have grown as individuals and as a family since all this happened. I think about the connections we have made and the people we have met.  Everything happens for a reason.  Don't take the 'simple' things for granted.  I love my dad.  I am happy that he continues to improve.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas was very different this year.  I don't really like change all that much. But sometimes you just have to be grateful for where ever it is that God has you in this time of your life.  I would have rather spent Christmas at my mom and dads house, eating a big breakfast after they came down to watch the boys open their gifts.  Even though I didn't get things exactly the way I wanted them today, I am still grateful that we were able to spend it as a family.  Everybody met at Brooks this morning and hung out and hand lunch together.  After lunch we went back up to dads room and made a gingerbread house. One of my moms teacher friends bakes these and decorates them every year.  This year she brought a baked one to the hospital so that my dad could work on it with the boys.  My dad was intrigued, and watched us as we put all the decorations on. The boys were interested in putting the roof on and that was about it. It turned into me and my mom and my sister decorating.  It was different but fun.  

After finishing the gingerbread house we we went home for a rest and then went to see Dennis' mom and step dad. It was a nice visit.  In an odd way my dad having a stroke has brought about a different connection between my mother in law and I.  While I would never wish something that drastic to bring improvement to a relationship, it is a positive that I can't ignore. Her father had a stroke 20 years ago and has no use of his right side and can not talk.  My husband also has a new appreciation for spending time with his family.  Never really being a fan of his family functions, and getting together for the holidays, seeing my dad have a stroke and then his bosses dad had a heart attack and another guy he works with, his mom had a stroke, he told all the guys he works with that they should take time to go spend with their parents because life can change so fast.  I don't know that he would have told them that if it hadn't been for my dads stroke.  So that is another positive to take from all this - my husband reminding others of the importance of spending time with their parents.

We all met back up at Brooks for a family dinner.  The backdrop was the family waiting room, but it had a big table that we were all able to sit around. If I had to choose between the rehab family waiting room and the ICU waiting room, where Thanksgiving dinner took place, I am happy to be in the rehab family waiting room - and be all together! (well for the most part, Becca and Uriah are in Oregon) It felt nice to eat together.  I also ordered a gingerbread cake for my dad, well for all of us for dessert.  Gingerbread used to be one of his favorites, we have been told that tastes can change after a stroke. He ate a few bites but I think he was just overwhelmed and tired.   I love this picture of my dad and my brother that I got while we were decorating the gingerbread house.  I tell you every time I ask my dad to smile it looks like that right side responds a little more!

We passed out gifts.  I can honestly say that the gift I received from my parents this year, will stand out in my memories, and just might be one of my all time favorite gifts.  I am not a fan of 'stuff' and it is really hard for me to see pictures that people post of all their stuff they receive for Christmas, which in most cases they will either out grow or throw away when the next best thing comes out. I get irritated and sad because some people are so caught up on the stuff, and they take so much for granted. The material stuff of this world is so fleeting, what can't be wrapped or physically put on for the world to see, makes a much more meaningful gift.  I love knowing that my mom, despite all that is going on, still found time to make each of us a card for Christmas with a handwritten message and then she and my dad signed it!  I will treasure it forever!  Oh, my sister also surprised me with a bag that she had made with pictures of me and Dennis and the boys.  It was a total surprise! And my other sister gave me a heart.  I love that small meaningful stuff. Life is so fragile and so much can change in the blink of an eye.

How great it was to finish this Christmas by seeing my dad walk!  Seth had been wanting to see him walk.  After we left he said that it was pretty cool to see grandpa walking again!  Sometimes I get frustrated by how much people take for granted.  Would you ever consider your dad being able to walk, a gift?  I do! 

Regardless of what is going on, we stick together as a family, but that doesn't mean it is always easy.  It was very hard having to leave him, just didn't seem right, not any day really, but especially on Christmas day.  Seemed like all day he was just saying that he wanted to go home.  We want him home too.
I love my parents so much!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A "walking" miracle...

My dad is officially a "walking" miracle. This morning when I went up to see him, he wasn't in speech therapy where I thought he would be and he wasn't in occupational therapy which was another place I thought he might I went to find my mom and as we walked up and put the food in the room and got ready to go find a nurse to find out where my dad was, we turned a corner and found that his physical therapist had pulled him for some extra therapy and had him walking.  When we walked into the gym he said, "Let's show them, go ahead and walk to her."  He then told my mom to back up and my dad walked across the room to us - all by himself - no assistance - they were only there to catch him if he needed it.  He is still weak, and this is not something he is cleared to do all the time, only something that he can do with the therapist, for now!  It was an amazing sight to see. He also was practicing walking up and down stairs and then even got to go outside to an obstacle course that allows him to practice walking on different terrains. He walked across gravel and sand and a board walk before walking over a hill.  The therapist and therapy aide were with him and he did require help going up the hill.  His progress and growth has been phenomenal!  Doctors said he would probably never talk or walk normally again, that if he did it would probably be about a year or more.  In one months time, he is walking and trying his best to speak more and more each day, he is eating on his own and relearning his everyday tasks like brushing his teeth and getting dressed and washing his hands.  I guess it goes to show the power of prayer and that the doctors don't have the final say in his healing.  I am grateful that they saved his life, but the long term loss and troubles they said he would experience is based on statistics and we don't serve a God that plans a life for us based on what everybody else has done. It was nice to talk with his therapist some today, (well my mom was doing the talking, I was just listening) he was telling us that it says a lot about our family and his progress is partially due to our commitment and love to him and the fact that somebody has always been with him since he has been at Brooks. He also said he wished more patients had my dads mentality! Then a little later when we were walking outside my mom was telling my dad, during a moment of frustration, that God has a plan for him and that he isn't finished with him.  About that time the therapist said, "You know that's really what it is all about, people like to give us credit, but it is God who has the plan, we are just the instruments that he uses for this part of his plan."  To know that people like this are working with my dad everyday, and truly believing in him, is really an amazing feeling, that no words can adequately define.  Every time I leave Brooks, it makes me want to spend more time there, I just wonder if it would be possible for me to work at a place like that, helping people all sounds like the dream job.

This is also note worthy - it was sweet to see my mom and dad eating breakfast together and while eating my dad just randomly said to my mom, "You beautiful."  I love the love they have for each other and how they never give up on one another.

Check out these videos of my dad- our "walking" miracle!  I love my dad so much!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A grateful heart...

It is hard sometimes during the difficult times to see much good.  The good is all around, but the pain feels like more than we can handle at times.  I must say since my dad had the stroke, I have seen a lot of people come out of the wood work to be there for me or my family.  And I know there are countless others who are thinking about and praying for my dad and our family on a daily basis.  Today I was thinking about how people have stepped up - I know I am missing some things on this list but I will continue to add to it as we continue on this journey....

The friends and family who showed up the day we sat and waited for my dad to come through the life threatening surgery to clear out most of the blockage in his carotid artery. 
The snacks and drinks brought by one friend.
The pastors who showed up to pray with us.
Church friends who showed up to pray with us.
School friends who showed up to just be there for my mom.
People we didn't even know, praying for my dad.
He made it through surgery - we rejoice!
Then another surgery is needed. 
The skull is removed and the swelling on his brain begins to go down.
The texts and phone calls and facebook messages continued.
My mom received a nice card with cash in her teacher mailbox.
A friend of my moms showed up with a complete Thanksgiving dinner for us - even if it took place in the ICU waiting room on the fourth floor at mayo - and yes we invited everybody in that waiting room to eat with us. 
Blood clot is found in my dads arm. It's in a vein, not an artery - we rejoice!
He recognizes who we are.
The texts and phone calls and facebook messages continue.
His charity application is accepted at Brooks - we rejoice!
The occupational therapists teaching my dad how to dress and clean his hands and brush his teeth.
The speech therapist teaching him how to communicate with us. 
The physical therapist teaching him how to walk again.
The teacher who quietly put a card on my moms desk one day, to encourage her.
My grandpa for keeping up with shaving my dads face.
My grandma for keeping her home made vegetable beef soup made.
The people who call to check on my mom.
The stranger in South Carolina who gave my cousin a power wheel chair for my dad.  
The Thursday morning ladies group leaving giftcards and gifts and notes of encouragement on my front porch one day.  A day that had been rather difficult.
A friend of the family and her church who donated the resources and some of their friends who donated their time and showed up to build a ramp for my dad for when he comes home.
The neighbor across the street from my parents how makes sure the garbage is taken out each week.
The texts, phone calls and facebook messages. 
This list is incomplete but it is quite a list - and really just skims the surface of the good things that have happened, in spite of this crisis. 

So many times we want to do something to help others during their time of suffering when the best thing we can do for them is just show up, just be there.  

There are so many things that I took for granted and never thought twice about but are things that my dad has to concentrate on in order to achieve. Talking. Walking.  Looking forward while walking. Eating. Clearing out his right cheek. Brushing his teeth.  Washing his hands.  Getting dressed. Getting his shoes on. Rolling over in bed. Sitting up.  Standing up. Reading. The ability to go where I want to go without a second thought. The ability to voice how I am feeling or what I am thinking. 
Today I enjoyed listening to my husband and my father sing the national anthem together!  I love how my husband cares for my dad. I enjoyed watching my dad play some golf with my boys.  Dennis put a real golf ball and a real golf club in his hand and it was nice to see my dad participating!  Seth gives my dad hugs now every time we get ready to leave.  And today, for the first time since everything happened my Ivan gave my dad a high five!  He was also playing peek a boo with my dad.  Everything is going to be ok. We stick together.  We never give up on those we love. We've got this. We are never promised an easy road to walk, but the blessings that come from the pain, we wouldn't ever get to experience if it weren't for the pain.  And there have indeed, been many blessings that have come out of all this. 

I love my dad.  He is a fighter. Everyday I see him do things they said he probably never would.  I love my mom.  She is a fighter. Everyday I see her encourage my dad and believe that he can and will do things that they said he probably never would. 

"...if you focus on the needs of others you will discover that you have more than enough..." Mark Batterson 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas decorating at Brooks

I took Ivan to school and then made my way up to Brooks.  It seems to be my new routine, but it is one routine that I will be happy to change when my dad is cleared to return home!  By the time I get there at 9:15 he has already had breakfast, speech therapy and occupational therapy. I was setting my camera up to determine the best place to get a family picture when my dad wheeled over to the camera and said 'cheese'...of course I have no problems taking a picture with him!  Then he heads into physical therapy where everyday the therapist just look at him with complete awe over all that he can do in such a short time period.  ALL the therapists, not just the ones that are assigned to my dad.  It is pretty neat to see how my dad gives them hope and encourages them to continue working hard, because it does make a difference, and he is the proof.

After spending the morning with my dad, I made my way towards Ivan's school, a little earlier than usual so that I could watch his Christmas performance.  It was so adorable! Ivan was one of the three wise men.  I am grateful for the love and dedication poured into my Ivan by Mrs. Liz,  Mrs. Sharon and Mrs. Martha - they are great!

Then as the sun set and evening hit, it came with some cooler temperatures and a lot of emotions. What my family has had to endure has brought about positive things in our lives, that all of us would be willing (at this moment in time) to forego if it just meant that Dad could be back to his normal self.  But don't let my encouraging, uplifting blogs cast any doubt as to how difficult these days are for us. There are many trying times, but my dads accomplishments far outweigh the difficult moments we endure.  He can't even begin to understand how far he has come or how incredible it is that he has made so much progress in such a short period of time.  But we can see it.  I do believe that my dad will overcome this.  Nothing has ever been easy for him but that has never stopped him.  If anything it has made him work harder.  This afternoon was his first follow up appointment - just about a month since his surgeries.  Let me just remind you that the doctors told us, as he was hooked up to machines and in ICU that it would be quite a while before he walked, and that he would probably not comprehend or understand things and that he would probably never talk.  If he did talk it would probably be a year and maybe only a few words.  Every times the doctors would say 'if' then my mom would say 'when'...she corrected them a lot. Today they informed my mom that the swelling on his brain was still there and that they could not yet put his skull back in.  They went on to say that my dad might not walk again, and that what he says now is probably all he will say, that we shouldn't hope for much more.  I know doctors have to be realistic - but stop and look at what he has done in this short amount of time, stop to look at the fact that he is doing things you didn't think he would ever do, and then DO NOT say in front of him what he will 'never' do again.  That was very discouraging to my dad, he has been working so hard.  It was discouraging to all of us. Meanwhile, we were all gathering at Brooks so we could set up a tree and decorate it for his room.  He definitely wasn't in the spirit for that but we stayed anyways.  I told him that he needs to listen to the doctors and therapists at Brooks who see him every day. Rebecca and Uriah were passing out Christmas gifts since they will be heading to Oregon tomorrow and my dad picked up the card, and it looked like he was reading it but couldn't say the words and he got really upset and started crying, we all told him it will come back in time and that we just have to practice.  Most people at Christmas gatherings pass around chocolates and cookies, we were passing around a Kleenex box.  It hurts all of us in a different way, and the powerless feeling and intense hurt sucks. More than a few nurses have commented on his progress.  One even stopped tonight after we had all left to tell my dad not to lose hope, that he is a strong man and that the doctors don't have the final say - God does.  My heart is hurting tonight.  I love my dad so much and the last thing he needs now is any discouragement. I still believe he will make a full recovery.

 On the way home we heard this song on the radio.  It is so hard to believe.  "The more broke you are the more the light gets through...." Others have told me I am an inspiration during a time that it feels like all I am doing is moving through the days, trying to keep it together and keep going.  I know this is part of a bigger plan, that I can't comprehend at this moment in time, but I do trust that God will reveal bits and pieces when I am able to understand it. In the mean time, I will continue to show up and be there for my dad (and my mom) because I love them so much! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Head up!

Another amazing day! The progress that my dad is making is great. At his team meeting today the therapists each started with, "wow!"  What he has accomplished in such a short period of time gives them all hope.  They are eager to work with my dad.  Today in physical therapy they did not have to wrap his foot while he was walking because he was able to move the ankle in a walking motion and take good sized strides. His balance is a lot better.  Vince was only holding his hand but he wasn't leaning on him like he used to. The physical therapist actually had to tell him to slow down because he was moving too fast her.  She said, "Mr. Evans you aren't quite ready to run just yet but I am sure you will be one day." She worked up a sweat while working with him and she had to stop for a breather and a drink of water.  Today's big accomplishment - at least while I was with him - was seeing him hold his head high and look forward when he was walking.  That is a first.  I stood in front of him and walked backwards as he walked forwards and he kept his eyes on mine! Prior to today he would look down at his feet or struggle with balancing his weight on his right leg.  Also the therapist told my mom he is having to think about everything- engage the hip, bend the knee, lift up your foot, bend your ankle, move your leg forward, put your foot down, put you weight on the foot, now left side, lift up your foot, bend your ankle, etc...The fact that he could look forward as he walked and still keep walking means his brain is processing that he is walking without having to look at his feet.  Isn't that amazing? I love my dad so much and am so proud of him!  He always told me that he was so proud of me, now I get to tell him how proud I am of him!