Ramona Andrews – Caregiver

My name is Ramona. I am a mother to 3, grandmother to 6, and great-grandmother to 2 (so far). I said good-bye to my husband in 2005 as he made his transition. He was a VietNam Veteran and died from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That is another story in and of itself. I love my family, and my children have always been my greatest accomplishments. The below documentation is a part of my recorded documents kept as a homage to my daughter Caren and our family.

A day, much like any other started with the morning being full of hope, excitement, and a sense of pending accomplishment. We could never know that in a matter of moments, time would stand still, and our lives, as we knew them – would be changed forever. BAM! Head-On Collision – and seemingly and without warning, time ceased to exist.

Saturday – January 4, 2014

Saturday, January 04, 2014, we’d just finished a brunch of biscuits and gravy, and Caren was leaving with Austin (her youngest son) to pick up Katie (Rick and Caren were her Legal Guardians) and Mary (daughter to Rick and Caren) had spent the night at a friend’s house – a girls’ night out before Katie left for college that next Monday/Tuesday. Rick had left for work at the same time Caren left to pick up the girls at around 11am. Rick had gotten called in to work unexpectedly, so he ended up taking their vehicle, and Caren asked to borrow mine to go pick up the girls.

At approximately 1 pm, Rick called to ask me if the police had called. He said Caren had been in an accident, removed by ambulance, and he had to leave work to pick up Austin.

At this time, we had no idea what had happened, or the extent of Caren’s injuries. We didn’t even know she had been ejected from her vehicle.  We learned later that her seatbelt had failed/malfunctioned, as she had seatbelt marks on her in the hospital. She had been ejected several feet from the vehicle.

What we also later found out from Austin (Caren’s 5 year old son at the time), he had unbuckled himself from his car seat, left the vehicle after discovering that Mom wasn’t in the driver’s seat, as he “saw her fly out the window like Superman”.  Austin opened a damaged sliding van door and let himself out to search for his mom. He wanted to help Mom.  He found her face down, her head and body surrounded by blood and “asleep and not answering” his frightened cries to her.  He said he was cold and alone and no one would stop.  He was afraid to touch her, because he didn’t want to hurt his mommy. He recounted much later that she was gurgling and making a “growling sound” and would not open her eyes for him. He was afraid that the traffic would run over his feet and he didn’t know what to do.

Austin speaks of a man calling 9-1-1.  He describes his truck and the man in detail.

At that moment an angel of a couple also happened on the scene and kept Austin safe and warm in their vehicle until the police arrived.  This couple would later tell us that a woman, who seemed to have medical knowledge was asking Caren questions at the scene, but Caren was unresponsive.  We were unaware who that woman was at the time, or how long Caren was unconscious. There was also apparently a plow truck stopped on the side of the road as well, according to witnesses.

The ambulance and fire department arrived. No one told the ambulance that a child was involved in the accident. Then the police arrived, and the couple handed Austin over to the police. The police then interviewed Austin. Austin was smart enough to tell them where his daddy worked.  So the police contacted Rick at work, and kept Austin in their car until Rick arrived. Rick rushed to the scene, called me (Caren’s mom) on the way to the scene of the accident, and once there brought Austin home to stay with his older siblings; Rick and I then left immediately for the ER. Caren had already been taken away by ambulance by the time Rick got there.  We would find out later, that EMS (ambulance) never even knew a child was involved because he was in the police cruiser.  We are still amazed that Austin didn’t end up with any obvious physical injuries (not even seatbelt marks from his car seat). 

Little did we know this was the beginning of a journey we couldn’t even begin to fathom.

I remember us arriving at the hospital (Rick and I) and I remember seeing her clothes on the floor by the bed she was in. There were many people around her. I remember standing outside the Trauma Bay while Rick was trying to calm down and console Caren. She was not responsive to my voice. She was however, responsive to his. A lot of the time in ER, how we got to the ER, and specific details in that time frame are all a blur to me. I felt like I was sinking into the ground and cannot even begin to describe the emotions I was going through.

Once Caren was admitted to the hospital and she was somewhat stabilized I went home to be with the kids, and Rick stayed at the hospital until he had to return to work that coming Monday.

January 5, 2014

Rick’s birthday today. Any previous plans ceased to exist today. Police visited the hospital and spoke with us. Caren unable to remember anything and kept asking repeatedly what happened. Family up to see Caren. Austin was scared to go in and see his mom at first. He heard her voice and went in, but then he saw that she was unrecognizable to him because her face was injured. He stopped where he stood and did not go any further at first. We didn’t force him. All the kids eventually made their way over to see their mom.

January 7, 2014

Created Blog to keep colleagues and family up to date on Caren’s recovery https://posthope.org/caren-robinson

PRAYER PARTNERS. We are very grateful that Caren and Austin survived the crash.  For whatever reason, the seatbelt broke, and Caren was ejected from the vehicle, which is usually fatal. We are also eternally grateful for all our prayer partners who are upholding Caren and her family during this ordeal.  Your kind thoughts, love, and prayers help sustain us. Thank you so much!

The folks at Unity of Greater Grand Rapids have prayed over and blessed a prayer shawl, sending it to the hospital to Caren, and in her favorite color – blue.  She refuses to be without it, keeping it with her always. All of us covet your continued love, light, and prayers. Thank you

Since Saturday, these are the injuries that have been discovered:

severe concussion

scrapes and contusions of R forehead/face/neck area  (the scrape on her forehead enters the hairline about 3 inches)

R eye on Saturday was the size of a golf ball, and as purple as a plum, an unable to be opened; now it is black and can partially open

R scapula has been shattered

R wrist is broken; as of 01/07, it has been splinted

transverse processes, 6-9, are broken (the part that attaches to the ribs)

[we later learned that it was 5-10 that were broken]

ribs 2-11 are broken

there is a quarter-size hole in her lung

there is a very large, bad contusion on her lung (at first Drs. thought there was fluid in the pleural sac, and that they’d have to insert a chest tube)  After yet another CT, they discovered the lung contusion, and cancelled the chest tube

there is a hairline fracture of the pelvis

on her R thigh there was a laceration that took 9 stitches; in various and sundry places all over her body are abrasions, cuts, and bruises

Caren is tired today.  They’ve splinted her wrist; Physical Therapy has been in to discuss rehab, and had her sitting up, which made her dizzy; the concussion continues to mess with her thinking (although when she is awake, she is lucid); and there are always med changes to cope with.

Today Mary gave Mom a mani/pedi, and Mom sports lovely blue nails, as per Katie’s request.  When her meds are late, Mary was right there to advocate for Mom.  Way to go, Mary!

The pain is constant.

For those who have inquired, Caren is at Spectrum/Butterworth.

January 7, 2014

We are very grateful that Caren and Austin survived the crash.  For whatever reason, the seatbelt broke and Caren was ejected from the vehicle, which is usually fatal.

We are also eternally grateful for all our prayer partners who are upholding Caren and her family during this ordeal.  Your kind thoughts, love, and prayers help sustain us. Thank you so much!

The folks at Unity of Greater Grand Rapids have prayed over and blessed a prayer shawl, sending it to the hospital to Caren, and in her favorite color – blue.  She refuses to be without it, keeping it with her always.

All of us covet your continued love, light, and prayers.   Thank you.

January 7, 2014

Caren is tired today.  They’ve splinted her wrist; Physical Therapy has been in to discuss rehab, and had her sitting up, which made her dizzy; the concussion continues to mess with her thinking (although when she is awake, she is lucid); and there are always med changes to cope with.

Today Mary gave Mom a mani/pedi, and Mom sports lovely blue nails, as per Katie’s request.  When her meds are late, Mary was right there to advocate for Mom.  Way to go, Mary!

The pain is constant.

For those who have inquired, Caren is at Spectrum/Butterworth.

January 8, 2014

Caren’s personal goal today was, “Move forward, not backward.” First thing when I arrived Caren said, “Mom, I keep saying that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s my girl! Determined and positive. So many people have been in today, yet Caren has difficulty staying awake – because of the meds. Caren had the desire to help with getting out of bed, but by the time the team was ready, Caren was too tired as of 3-ish. Apparently Caren was moved to a sling chair later in the evening after we’d gone home. The main accomplishment today: Anesthesiology talked to Caren about pain management choices – a nerve block or an epidural. It has been decided that Caren is to receive an epidural for pain management. They will not be able to do a nerve block because of the broken transverse processes. We MUST avoid getting pneumonia, so it is imperative that Caren be more mobile. Since Caren was given blood thinners this morning, the epidural will occur on Thursday. Also, Rick and I were concerned that her L eye was also becoming black. I knew that injuries, by sheer force of gravity, usually drained downward. The trauma doctor explained that it would also drain to the L eye (from the R) through the sinus cavities. There is a specific name, but I don’t recall it. We appreciated the explanation, and felt less anxious. Oh! Caren was seeing the dr.’s jacket as green instead of navy. That gave the trauma team something to think about as far as concussion care, 🙂 So much for Wednesday. Each day is a gift. I look forward to progress on Thursday.

January 9, 2014

Hooray! The epidural is in. We are now awaiting the pump of meds to attach to the epidural pic. Caren and I read today in Job, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Ezekiel says, “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.” We are trusting that the sustaining breath/Spirit of God will be Caren’s sustaining life, and the epidural will give her enough relief to breathe deeply. Caren is now getting a shampoo. Ah, the luxury. Thank you, Rachel for the beauty treatment. It is now 2:30 pm, and time to make the school run. I’ll post any further updates for here, after I return. Thank you for your continued love and prayers. When I returned at 5:45, the epidural pump/meds still had not been delivered, and the pain level was through the roof. It has taken all evening to get the the pain back under control to where it is tolerable. I do know that most of the time her team has been exemplary. Letting the pain get out of control to the level Caren experienced – that was difficult to handle. Rick is here now, so I can run home and get her C-pap. We’ve made it through another day. Thank you, God.

January 10, 2014

Today, the pain is more under control.  We are grateful for progress.  Caren was up in the recliner today X2. Since Saturday we have had a wonderfully caring and knowledgeable Trauma Team, nurses, assistants, doctors, therapists, housekeepers, nutritional staff, resp. staff, and probably too many people who should be mentioned.  A special thanks to all of you.  Whoever didn’t make our ‘A-list’  –  you, too have reminded us to continually release and let go those things that are too small to worry about.  You’ve also reminded us how important it is to lay aside our personal issues, and treat others more kindly, with compassion, with respect and dignity – as we ourselves would want to be treated.  We include you in our prayers today. Today’s Daily Word reminded us that, “An accident . . . — these are situations many of us would deem unfortunate or even disastrous. Yet if we stay open and available to a good outcome, we find great blessings ready and waiting for us to receive.”   
Even when our body feels tired and irritable, Ruth reminds us that, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out.”   At first I thought this would be such a good reminder for Caren.  The still small voice within my own heart gently whispered that I, too, should wait in the void for great expectations. Continue having a blessed day, all ya’ll!   

PS  I haven’t learned yet, how to do multiple posts in one/w all the pics we wish to share, so there will be more than one accompanying post, 😀 

January 10, 2014

Saturday evening, when we were still in shock, Jordan and Rachel stepped forward to loan us a car until we could get wheels.  A HUGE thank you!   (There is a possibility of another dear friend donating a van, which would eliminate double trips to schools, appointments, and the hospital.  So far, Nich has been gracious to be the one who stays at home, 🙂 )  Dar, Rick’s Mom has been a constant source of strength, and a great help and comfort to Austin.

Balloons (card was for Rick’s Sunday birthday, from the kids), cards (from our kids, friends, and co-workers),  flowers (orchids from Kane, specially blessed angel and lilies from Candice; small bouquet from Mary/Kane/Nich especially chosen for its cheery colors; mixed bouquet from Brittany), books (made by Austin, 12 Days of Giving;  Angel Touch from B-man), and stuffed animals (frog from Katie, pink bear/Mary, and Bacon – B-man’s most favored and loved friend), Sue’s daily messages of hope, and Jesse, who is in touch with/about his sister daily – what an awesome Support Team!  All these expressions of love Caren can see, and that love sustains us all.  Thank you to all, seen and unseen in our Support Team!

To those I’ve failed to mention, the oversight was not intentional.  Any oversight was the product of a very long day yesterday, and a very short night.  We love and appreciate all of you!

January 10, 2014

Saturday evening, after the accident, before Austin saw Mom, he insisted that Mom needed a stuffed animal with her.  Sunday was the day the kids first got to see Caren.  On the way to the hospital Austin became extremely agitated that he had forgotten his stuffed animal.  We stopped at the dollar store.

Austin insisted Mom had to have the larger white bear AND the smaller one.  He wanted BOTH.  We waited.  He explained, “It’s me and Mom.”  The bears stay.  

The blue prayer shawl is a very special gift from the Unity of Greater Grand Rapids Prayer Shawl Ministry, and is always close.  “Shawls . . . made for centuries universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving God, . . . wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter, and beautify. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles.” (Written in 1998 by: Janet Severi Bristow Copyright ©2014)

This is Caren, new and improved.  Saturday she was still covered in blood, and the R eye was swollen the size of a golf ball.  It looked like someone had placed half a plum where her eye had been.  The abrasions to her forehead, that extend into her hairline, are also smaller, and not as intense.  They had been from eyebrow to two inches into the hairline.  The bruising from the R eye is draining into the L eye.  Thankfully the Trauma Team explained that one, 🙂  They are awesome!

Rick, her most favorite lovey,  has been with her the whole time, holding her hand, whispering words of encouragement, helping her to stay focused, positioning her, and believing for her. 

January 10, 2014

Our boys are blessed beyond measure with the most amazing teachers.  Austin’s teacher and class

(Fantastic Fives), and Benjamin’s teacher and class (Fabulous Fifth Graders)   [I hope this is correct]  came together to send this gorgeous bouquet.   Caren so appreciated the flowers, and they cheered her up. Thank you friends, for your loving gift, prayers and support.

January 11, 2014

Silent Unity,  the 24/7-prayer ministry:  Call: 1-800-NOW-PRAY (669-7729 )
                                                                        International: 01-816-969-2000

Under this particular tab I’d like to post Caren’s specific prayer requests as they become known, that we may hold sacred space for her.  Sacred Spaces evoke a feeling of a sacredness of space and time, where Heaven seems to touch Earth and we find ourselves aware of the Holy, and filled with the Spirit.  . . .sacred spaces encourage an attitude of spiritual oneness, [and] becomes for us a “window to the Kingdom of God” .

January 11, 2014

With a gait belt, three-pronged cane, and assitance – Caren took her first 16 steps today! What a trooper! I am so proud of her determination. By evening she was one tired girl.

Oh!  BTW, the stitches were removed from her upper thigh lac.  Not good!  It gaped open like it did Saturday.  Don’t push the river, folks.  Us low-thyroid people heal slowly.  The Trauma Team had to return this evening to re-stitch it.  I forgot to ask how many stitches this time.  The trauma docs were gentle, kind, and efficient.  I am/we are grateful!

Benjamin brought Mom a whole handful of cards his classmates had made; AND, brought her a lovely calendar/w his picture.  Way to go B-man!  

After Caren’s giant leap for posterity, I couldn’t resist presenting her/w a small, hanging air plant, 😀   Dang it – so much activity stole my thunder.   However, Kane and Nich got it right away.  We still chuckle over it.  CAren did call me a weirdo. Happy to contribute, darlin’!

Rachel and Jordan visited.  Also, Sue from Caren’s work, came up to see her.  The outpouring of love is a healing balm.  Dar has a plan to Austin p/u.  Thanks, all!

Today I was draggin’ butt home/w a raging sinus headache.  Our neighbor across the street, Sandi, had made crock-pot chili and pumpkin bread.  Yum, yum!  So grateful, ❤

Rick the Mage worked a miracle and got our cells back on.  Yay, God! Tomorrow is yet another opportunity for miracles!  Night.

January 12, 2014

From Silent Unity, received today:  “As we pray together in the days ahead, we will be united with you in the faith that the healing love of God is strengthening and renewing every atom of the body temple.  We will hold this prayer in our hearts, and we invite you to join us as we affirm:

“You have the healing love of God flowing through you now, restoring energy and vitality.”

Abundant miracles continue to amaze me everyday as this healing journey of Caren’s continues.  I shouldn’t be amazed, for I truly believe not only in the healing power of prayer, but I also believe in angelic presence.  Perhaps what truly is amazing to me, is the unique way that the miracles are manifested every single day, often many times a day if we only have the faith and spiritual sight to acknowledge them. Today, Sunday, is yet another day of miracles and answered prayer.  As Pastor McFall would say, “‘praise reports'”

Well, back to the reporting:  The swelling in the brain has ceased!    Hooray, God! AND the gnarly bruise on the lung is showing signs of improvement. Hallelujah! Just a reminder:  Baby steps are still progress as long as we are moving forward.

“Every thought I hold of health and wholeness is a prayer. I visualize my loved ones healthy, vibrant, and vitally alive. I look beyond appearances and behold their Divine Perfection. I am confident in the power of Spirit to bring healing, guidance, and new insights to every situation. In my prayers, I behold Divine Perfection.”  (Daily Word)

January 13, 2014

We have all been blessed by the flowers Austin’s and Benjamin’s classes sent.  This evening I wanted to share something else special from this wonderful group of young people.

Saturday, Benjamin presented a handful of cards to Caren, lovingly prepared by his classmates. The artistry is amazing, and the words of comfort deeply touches our hearts.  Caren cried, she was so moved by the outpouring of love represented by each unique card.  She read each and every one of them.

I promised Benjamin that I’d hang them up on Sunday, and I wanted his friends to see how valued are their contributions.

Thank you all so very, very much!

January 13, 2014

Special Colleagues. Sunday, when I entered Caren’s room, a brilliant, sunshiny bouquet immediately caught my attention. What also caught my attention was the special elephant pick in the bouquet, and the cute, little elephant mug.  Elephants are Caren’s medicine animal, her spirit totem, present with her since she was an infant. Rumor has it that a Krysta bird knew this about Caren. What a loving, thoughtful gesture to honor Caren’s healing journey in this very extraordinary way!

Yay, team!   Way to go, Krysta.   Thanks a million, 🙂

Watching someone you love suffering unbearably in unabated pain – is like watching a big, bad bully beleaguer, beat, and torment that person to tears of desperation – while you can do nothing because the bully is bigger than both of you.  There are not enough tears to wash away the combined pain.  Helpless is an impotent word.  My heart cries to God, “That is my baby!”

Then, my baby’s baby comes forward in love and compassion.

Such is our Monday.

January 14, 2014

Yet another CAT scan, yet another diagnosis, yet another time of waiting. Chest tube/no chest tube. Time for rehab/not time for rehab.  Hurry and make decisions while you have an acute concussion/no TV, music, internet because it exacerbates the concussion.  Rest and get well/time for PT, OT, and WTF – the R arm cannot yet be moved by Caren.  

Yet more endless pain.

The duplicity between the teams is maddening, infuriating, frustrating, and confusing. Besides the pain, most of her team of nurses and aides continue to be compassionate and helpful.

Ty for continued prayers, cards, and visits.  So much healing depends on attitude, and Caren has plenty of attitude and determination.  Main request:  encouragement.  The more encouragement she receives, the better she feels.

Again, thank you all!

January 15, 2014

Being in the hospital nearly daily with Caren, seeing/hearing her pain expressed, listening to her thoughts – causes one to pause and reflect on many things.  Today Caren was genuinely discouraged.  It was that lull we experience when it feels like we are alone with the constant agony that has invaded our life like a plague, when that agony seemingly becomes bigger than our belief system.

Probably the same platitudes run through your head as ran through mine, like admonitions to take heart, etc.  Wondering what the right words could be for Caren as she apologized yet again for being weepy (hurting, needing something, . . . ), something occurred to me.  Here is what that ‘still small voice’ whispered in my ear, and I shared with my daughter.

“No apologies are necessary.  You go right ahead and weep, complain, hurt, holler, whatever you are experiencing, moment by moment.”

“But, Mom – I’m really trying to believe.”

“Caren, that is our job.  As your prayer partners, it is our job to be your strength when you are feeling most weak; to believe for you; to intercede for you in prayer; to hold that sacred space for you.  You are busy right now with pain management . . .”  Rick has been in the hospital daily/nightly, upholding her.

As I pondered that thought even this morning, I wondered how our relationships would be impacted if we allowed the people in our lives to be what they were experiencing, in that moment, without trying to change them or proselyte them to some other way of being, doing, saying, or whatever.  What if we were just loving, accepting, and holding sacred space?

I personally wonder how lives would be changed.

A special thanks goes out to all Caren’s prayer partners.  God bless all of you!

January 16, 2014

The days are beginning to run together.  Yesterday I was home with Austin.  Jesse stayed with Caren all day, until Rick returned from work.  Thanks, Jesse!  You have been such an immense help.  Love you, bud!

The concern has increased that Caren’s breathing is insufficient and dangerous. So many teams have been up to assess her situation.

The cardio/vascular surgeon visited Caren today, and informed her that her ribs are not just cracked, they are totally displaced by 1-2 centimeters.  This is what is causing the excruciating pain of breathing.  Also, every time she is moved, it causes tiny pricks to the lungs, causing even more pain.  The idea of a drainage tube/chest tube is a distinct possibility.  It sounds like a terrible movie line, “They’ll be back [to confirm].”

We had the joy of a visit from Candice today.  While we were visiting, Joel came in and FINALLY, after several days, got an IV in place for Caren.  It will be used to sedate her for the chest tube procedure. Thank you, Candice, for being with us at just the perfect time.  To us, it was significant that Candice was present while a ‘Joel’ got a viable IV site.  We believe!

We got word that the tube would not happen Thursday.  It will be ‘sometime’ tomorrow.  Since we had to wait, why not get a shower, under a real shower head, in the real bathroom? Those ‘Shirley Temple’ finger washes in bed just aren’t adequate.  The nurse calls the Trauma Team.

Yay! We got the verdict around 7-ish.  The shower is on.  (Once the drainage tube is in, there will be no shower allowed.)

Just as we were getting Caren into the shower, Rick walked in from work.  I’m too short to reach Caren’s hair.  All three of us entered the shower – Rick cleaned and untangled Caren’s hair while I took care of the rest.  The very warm shower was so delicious, Caren sat there and cried.   It came to my mind how much we take for granted – the simple joys of having warm running water available in the convenient form of a shower, for example.

Today’s activities have totally zapped all Caren’s energy.  She was arranged in bed for the night.  As I leave for the evening, Rick was getting something for Caren to eat.  She would be NPO as of midnight.

When I got home to update Caren’s blog, it was physically impossible to put two words together to make a cohesive thought into a sentence. I remember falling into bed, and the alarm ringing a short time later.  At least, that is how it seemed.

Meantime, along comes PT, puts a gait belt around her [go figure, broken ribs/gait belt], and she walked from bed to bathroom.  I snapped a picture of her return walk from the bathroom.  Her very long hair was piled on top of her head in a huge ‘fro.  In respect to Caren, that pic isn’t made public, 🙂   The above picture is Caren’s Badge of Courage.  Caren is one of the strongest women I know.  There are so many facets to her courage and the levels of her commitment to accomplish on whatever she sets her mind.  I am blessed and honored to be her mother.

January 17, 2014

When I entered the room Friday morning, the very first thing I noticed was Caren’s lovely hair.  Rick had brushed it and braided it.  Ain’t he somethin’!

Rick treated me to breakfast.  On the way downstairs, we met Jesse, who joined us.  Rick headed to work, and Jesse and I went up to see Caren. 

The chest tube procedure was supposed to happen Friday morning.  There were too many emergencies at the hospital, and Caren’s procedure kept getting bumped.  Understandable.  Friday she remained in bed to conserve her energy for the procedure. The IV site had been compromised, even though the arm had been placed on an IV board.

All day waiting is taxing.  Jesse was hesitant to leave, because none of us wanted Caren to be alone.  I had to leave to pick up Austin at 11:15, then Nich and Benjamin at 3:20.  

At 4-ish Jesse called and said it was time.  He put me on speaker, and I was able to speak to Caren before she left the room.  She was calm.

While in Intervention Radiology (IR), her IV site was reestablished.  It seemed like we waited forever.

Most chest tubes, only from what I know, are put in the side between the 2nd and 3rd intercostal spaces.  IR was unable to put in a drainage tube.  They had to move up to a medium size chest tube, stitching it in place.  AND, it was inserted into the back!  Now, I know the lungs can be accessed from the back, it just surprised me that they entered from that direction.  Dr. Z must have had concerns about all those broken ribs.

After being in place, 800 cc, about 4/5 of one liter, of red fluid was drained.  It is no wonder her breathing was hampered!  

For the first time since January 04, Caren took a full, deep breath.  Thank God, for Dr. Z and the Thoracic [something] Team for placing that tube!  Caren said that they were all good to her, even though the pain was over the top. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worse pain imaginable, Caren’s was a 12-13.

I called Rick with the good news.  The song he heard immediately was, She Talks to Angels, by Black Crowes:  “Yeah, she gives a smile when the pain come’, The pain gonna make everything alright, Says she talks to angels, They call her out by her name, Oh yeah, she talks to angels.”

As he told me this, I smiled and said that the one I heard was: Overcomer, by Mandisa.  At this point I hadn’t seen Mandisa’s video of her song:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8VoUYtx0kw  My, oh my! It is a must see!

God bless you, all you overcomers!  Yay, God! – for all Caren has overcome!  Amen

January 18, 2014

Caren did not go through the passenger window, as first thought.  The whole passenger window frame was bent outward through the blunt force trauma of Caren’s ejection.  And, a million times yes!  Caren was wearing her seat belt properly.  Her body bore the extensive injuries of seat-belt injury. The seat belt broke.

It has also been determined that Austin was sitting behind the driver, and exited the sliding door closest to him, into traffic. Thank God, for guardian angels!

Yet more pictures of this gruesome accident. Yet more testament of the abundant miracles we have seen unfold. Please to continue praying for the other lady involved.  She suffered a fractured femur, and has no family in the area.   We have been unable to visit her because her name remains unknown to us.  
Thank you for your continued prayers for these ladies.  Also, especially when I view these photos, I am again and again reminded of Caren’s gift of life.

Thank you, God; thank you, God; thank you, God!

January 18, 2014

When I entered the room Friday morning, the very first thing I noticed was Caren’s lovely hair.  Rick had brushed it and braided it.  Ain’t he somethin’!

Rick treated me to breakfast.  On the way downstairs, we met Jesse, who joined us.  Rick headed to work, and Jesse and I went up to see Caren. 

The chest tube procedure was supposed to happen Friday morning.  There were too many emergencies at the hospital, and Caren’s procedure kept getting bumped.  Understandable.  Friday she remained in bed to conserve her energy for the procedure. The IV site had been compromised, even though the arm had been placed on an IV board.

All day waiting is taxing.  Jesse was hesitant to leave, because none of us wanted Caren to be alone.  I had to leave to pick up Austin at 11:15, then Nich and Benjamin at 3:20.  

At 4-ish Jesse called and said it was time.  He put me on speaker, and I was able to speak to Caren before she left the room.  She was calm.

While in Intervention Radiology (IR), her IV site was reestablished.  It seemed like we waited forever.

Most chest tubes, only from what I know, are put in the side between the 2nd and 3rd intercostal spaces.  IR was unable to put in a drainage tube.  They had to move up to a medium size chest tube, stitching it in place.  AND, it was inserted into the back!  Now, I know the lungs can be accessed from the back, it just surprised me that they entered from that direction.  Dr. Z must have had concerns about all those broken ribs.

After being in place, 800 cc, about 4/5 of one liter, of red fluid was drained.  It is no wonder her breathing was hampered!  

For the first time since January 04, Caren took a full, deep breath.  Thank God, for Dr. Z and the Thoracic [something] Team for placing that tube!  Caren said that they were all good to her, even though the pain was over the top. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worse pain imaginable, Caren’s was a 12-13.

I called Rick with the good news.  The song he heard immediately was, She Talks to Angels, by Black Crowes:  “Yeah, she gives a smile when the pain come’, The pain gonna make everything alright, Says she talks to angels, They call her out by her name, Oh yeah, she talks to angels.”

As he told me this, I smiled and said that the one I heard was: Overcomer, by Mandisa.  At this point I hadn’t seen Mandisa’s video of her song:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8VoUYtx0kw  My, oh my!  It is a must see!  

God bless you, all you overcomers!   

Yay, God! – for all Caren has overcome!  Amen!

January 19, 2014

Today, special thanks goes to Benjamin for staying with Mom.  This gal was too sick to be up there, and Bman stepped in.  He stayed until Dad got home from work.  THEN, so Dad could spend time with Austin, Benjamin spent the night.  Thank you!  Thank you, Benjamin!

First thing Saturday morning, another 200 cc of fluid was drained from the R lung.  We’ve been told that Caren can be in the hospital from one to twenty days while the fluid drains.

Also, on Saturdays, it appears that the weekend crew has more challenges truly caring for patients.  The weekday crews have spoiled us.  Just for now I think of kicky Abby, the nurse who makes you want to dance in the room – she is exuberant.  Also, I think of Rachel, quiet Rachel who exudes true compassion – a nurses’ aide.  Speaking of aides, we MUST mention Tyler, who is 19 years old, has the goal of becoming a nurse, and is truly gifted at caring for patients.  He has truly been a joy and help to CAren.  (Please note, if your name has not been mentioned, it has nothing to do with your exemplary care; but, has everything to do with this sinus headache thrumming in my skull, 😛 )

Thank you to all the staff, doctors, aides, teams, housekeeping, and others who are making this hospital stay bearable.  Two weeks seems like such a long time.  In the grand scheme of things, time is but an illusion.

January 19, 2014

 From James Dillet Freeman, spoken by James Dillet Freeman, I AM There.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgyHVf8n9JA

Caren, this is especially for you.  Through your healing journey, the I AM, the God Presence of the Universe, is with you – through it all!

I’ve been reflecting:  I’ve worked in the medical community for a number of years.  I’ve worked for a D.O. at a good-sized clinic.  Off and on since high school I’ve been a CNA (certified nursing assistant).  I’ve done hospice care, and home care.  I am well acquainted with good, really good patient care.  This weekend Caren has been ignored, and her pain meds either withheld, forgotten, or whatever excuse was given for shoddy patient care.  Caren was in the chair most of the day, which is good for her lungs. However, it is not acceptable that a patient or a patient’s room smell of urine.

Jesse and Benjamin cleaned the room, and readied it for Caren for the night.  Caren called for assistance to the restroom.  She’s currently not strong enough to make it on her own.  God bless Nick and the young woman who assisted him in walking Caren to the restroom.  These two angels totally bathed Caren with her Olay body wash, assisted her to the bed, showed her a new way to enter the bed that was less painful, and helped her to get settled.  Caren called Rick and me.  We were at home.  

Caren was crying because these two aides had been so nice to her.  She was just so grateful.

Folks, I gotta tell you, these aides deserve a medal.  This level of patient care should not be so extraordinary.  This should be the normal level of care for all patients.  I am so grateful when the nurses and aides step up and do their job in such a way that the patient is left with their dignity in tact, feeling secure and cared for, and safe.  Nick and partner, thank you so much for taking the time to share your great gift of compassion with my daughter!

From our hearts, we all thank you!

Aside to Mary:  You would do well to learn from your aides.

January 20, 2014

How exciting!  Caren walked from her chair, to the restroom, back into the room, and out into the hall, across the hall to touch the door on the opposite side!   It was with assistance, but she is learning to walk again.

Then, Monday evening, she did it again – the kids were cheering, I was holding her injured arm, and I was so proud.  Even though she had assistance, it was like watching her take her first steps – all over again.

I’m not sure if two weeks in bed, or an acute concussion is the cause of her weakness to walk, but walk she will!  And does!  And will do again. Go CAren!

January 21, 2014

Chest tube out.

January 22, 2014

Caren still unable to walk on her own. She mostly sits in a special chair or wheelchair. She is still in unbearable pain that they cannot seem to get under control despite numerous attempts to do so.

PRAYERS:  The doc said they transport Caren today to a rehab facility. We don’t feel she is ready for this. Lotta pain and trepidation.  Prayer partners unite!

Gotta run.
More updates later.

January 24, 2014

The door closes on the Butterworth leg of the journey.  Nurses, aids, and staff call out well wishes and good-byes to Caren as she rides by in the wheelchair that will transfer her to another facility.  All packed up and ready to go – it’s scary to leave a caring, comfortable, safe environment where you and your team know how to care for you.  Jesse calls just before Caren leaves Room 4024, her home base since January 04.   His call is comforting to his sister. Another arctic front moves through Michigan, and PTSD kicks in as Caren prepares to ride in a vehicle to the new facility.


Blessings Caren, on the next leg of your journey. Abundant blessings, and many thanks to everyone at Butterworth who made it possible for Caren to proceed this far. Congratulations to Nicholas on passing your Nursing Boards.  You are terrific.

January 24, 2014

Caren is exhausted after the ride in the ambulance, and falls asleep immediately.  Her room is all set up.

Today the sutures were removed from Caren’s R leg.

Today the facility also installed a whiteboard in Caren’s room, which makes it easier for her to track her day’s activities.

Today the aides and her charge nurse did a lovely job of caring for Caren’s needs.

Today, PT mapped out some exercises for Caren to accomplish.

I AM grateful for every step forward.  Even a baby step is progress.

Thank you, God.

January 24, 2014

Ms. Crump and the children in Fantastic Fives, and the rest of the Cross Creek family have contributed in a huge way by sending home food they’ve collected.

Thank you for your abundant generosity.   These wonderful children and their families have enormously helped our family during this time of crises;  AND, helped Jesse, Caren’s brother.  We shared with him the cheesy popcorn and pretzels so he would have snacks on his ride home of approximately 2400 miles.

 Friends, thank you for sharing your love and prayers with us!  We are indeed very grateful!

These folks have thought of everything imaginable from apples to the zinc in antiperpiran.

Special thanks to all who have given this gift of love, and for sharing your gift of compassion.  We all appreciate your generosity in so many ways.

Sue, Caren’s supervisor from her work – what a special gem you are, to come out in this nasty weather to deliver these ‘presents.’   BTW, the kids especially loved the Lucky Charms.  What a treat!  God Bless You. Please continue to pray.  

Rehab will not be an easy road to conquer.

January 24, 2014

Today the sutures were removed from Caren’s R leg.

Today the facility also installed a whiteboard in Caren’s room, which makes it easier for her to track her day’s activities.

Today the aides and her charge nurse did a lovely job of caring for Caren’s needs.

Today, PT mapped out some exercises for Caren to accomplish.

I AM grateful for every step forward.  Even a baby step is progress.

Thank you, God.

I AM grateful for kind, compassionate care.  

January 25, 2014

Wednesday I was on my way to the hospital to prepare Caren for transfer.  The first song that played on the radio that morning was Oceans:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI-Z0lq-LIE
    

That set me to thinking: about the oceans of emotions raging through Caren to learn that she was laughing one minute/w Austin, and in torrents of unexplained pain the next moment as she realized she was in the hospital.

That set me to thinking about the depths of my own emotions and the lessons presented; about the turmoil of emotions affecting the children, as they come close to drowning in confusion; about the unfathomable gratitude that Caren is alive.

From gratitude sprang a fountain of love deeper than all the oceans: love of family, healing, reconciliation; love of church community as they reach out in love and assistance; the levels of intercessory prayers from so many compassionate, caring, giving, abundantly generous folks who have supported and helped us during this time of crisis in our family.

Truly this is a testament of the limitless Spirit in which we abide as one.

When we exercise faith, keeping our eyes on the prize of our greater good, our mind to God Mind, we truly walk on the Waters of Spirit. 

“When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace.”

Caren, you are loved and supported.

January 25, 2014

Today has been super busy for Caren.  By 9:30 am, she walked across the hall to sit in a shower chair ( a few steps and sitting, a few steps and sitting) for a good head to toe warm shower and shampoo.  After that, she walked back to her room (walk, sit, repeat) and we got her all comfy in bed.

Just as Caren was relaxing in bed, PT showed up with Caren’s Cadillac, and we got her up and secure in the recliner.  I was able to push her around the facility to get the ‘lay of the land’.  🙂    Caren also got to see the gym – both the regular and the low stimulation gym; sit in front of the windows and see all the snow; then, relax in the dining room beside a faux tree. It was truly wonderful for her to actually leave the confines of an institutional room setting.  Notice the street clothes!  We take so much for granted.

Imagine the joy of wearing street clothes for the first time in nearly a month, and ditching the hospital gown. All this may seem at first rather elementary, until one remembers her injuries.  Every movement, every new twist or turn, moves those broken ribs, or hurts that broken scapula, or stabs her in the back from the broken vertebrae.  Muscles spasm and ache, and the pain sky rockets.  So many days are bittersweet: the joy of leaving the room in her Cadillac, the pay back of suffering and pain.  It’s all like riding a roller coaster.  Today was a descent on that roller coaster.

Caren is my hero.  I don’t know if I could accomplish her victories.  She is determined, she is goal-oriented, and she possesses the desire to move forward, sometimes moment by moment.  In her situation, I think I’d sit and cry a month before attempting to walk or sit or move.  Saturday was a good day for me.  Although Caren was expecting more family to visit, we did enjoy the intimate time – just the two of us.  This is the first day since the accident that we’ve shared such precious moments together.

Thank you for your prayers that uphold and support her in her endeavors, and keep us all uplifted.

January 26, 2014

For the second time in five days Caren called me, in tears.  She was left wet in bed this morning after using the bed pan.  The aide insisted Caren was dry.  The nurse came in with Caren’s meds, and asked why Caren was wet,  Caren told her.  

When we came into Caren’s room, pillows were on the floor at the foot of the bed, Caren was uncovered, ill positioned, wet, and in pain.  Do the CNA’s not realize that urine is very damaging to the skin. . .and the effects of these excretions [urine and/or feces] causing skin breakdown and is similar to a rash or chemical burn?  (Nursing Assistant: A Nursing Process Approach – Basics By Barbara Hegner, Barbara Acello, Esther Caldwell)

Negligence of any patient is unacceptable.  When a patient asks for toileting, and is told to wait, that is unacceptable.  When a patient is forgotten in the bathroom to the point of panic and told they were forgotten, that is unacceptable.  When a patient is told that basic needs can not be met because the facility is understaffed, that is unacceptable.  When a patient who can not move without assistance is left in the same position hour after hour, that is unacceptable.  When a patient is toileted and not dried, that is unacceptable. When a patient is told there is no time to be taken to the bathroom, use a bed pan, and left wet, that is unacceptable.  When a patient explains they are wet, and the aide argues that they are dry – and left in that condition, that is unacceptable. When a patient puts on a call light, and that call light is repeatedly ignored, that is unacceptable.  Perhaps some CNA’s require further training.  

Finally, Simone returned from dining room duty, and I told her, “Someone left our girl all wet, and didn’t position her.”  Simone was kind enough to apologize for their actions, and asked if she could help.  By this time, Mary and I had the situation well in hand, so Simone went to help Caren’s room mate.

Mary and I gave Caren the bed pan, and removed it; removed her soiled clothes; gave her a full bed bath, removing soiled linen; and got her dressed in a clean caftan from home. Simone helped Mary and me to transfer Caren to the Cadillac (special recliner chair), and Mary and I positioned her, and brushed her hair.

By this time, lunch trays were being served, and Caren had missed breakfast time.

Mary and I pushed Caren to the dining room for a change of scenery, bringing along her food trays.

On a positive note, when Rick brought the boys this afternoon to see Mom, they were ecstatic to see her in a familiar caftan, and in a setting other than a hospital-type room or bed.

Pain is very debilitating, and as soon as I left with the boys, Caren was totally worn out and Mary and Rick were transferring her down the hall in her special chair and to her room.  

Thank you for your loving prayers and support.  We are all so very grateful.

January 27, 2014

This is Caren’s new card wall, just to the left of the bathroom door.  Her mailing address: Spectrum Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility, Room 417, 4118 Kalamazoo Ave., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49508.   She would love to hear from you.
     Thank you!

January 28, 2014

The scapula is the attachment site for 18 thoracic, spinal, and upper extremity muscles (Goss).

The scapula is actually the shoulder blade.The scapula actually connects the humerus and the clavicle (the arm and the neck), ultimately creating a strong joint. Many muscles connect at this point and have a great amount of influence in upper body mobility. 

More than a dozen muscles are involved with the ribs. All of your ribs attach to your spine, but only the top seven pairs or ‘true ribs, connect to your sternum or breastplate.

When PT comes around and wants Caren to walk, these are the bones and muscles involved – many are fractured.  Then PT wants her to ‘walk her hips’ back to position in the chair.  Her buttocks are bruised from the car wreck.

January 27, 2014

 Nelson Mandela has said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

PT today was teaching Caren how to get out of bed by herself, using just her left arm (as opposed to the injured side).  Caren not only got up and out of the bed, PT wanted her to walk – WITHOUT the walker.  Scary stuff!  Our courageous Caren walked out to the hall, into the hall holding just the railing along the wall, past the nurses station, and back to her room again.  Barely, but she did it. Wow!   

She was so exhausted when she called to tell me that her words were slurry.  No, you sillies, not from the meds.  Caren was tired out from the sheer exertion!  Remember that roller coaster descent we were talking about?  Well, I think we are just at the bottom of the ascent, slowly but steadily making progress upwards. She still has trouble with her speech and making sense with her sentences sometimes.

*standing ovation*  You go girl!

When I got to her room today she had finished lunch, and was sitting up in bed and on her computer. She struggled to focus and stay awake. I just sat watching her and grateful she was alive and breathing, even if she was sleeping.  We will see what adventures still await Caren today, for the day is young, 🙂

By the way, last night before she left Mary decorated Mom’s room with all these wonderful affirmations. The “Wish it, Dream it” is above the bathroom door.  Every where Caren looks whether in bed or out of bed, she’ll see messages of hope and encouragement.

AND, for those who have asked about visiting, Caren is ready to receive visitors.  Visiting hours are 9 a – 9 p, every day.  

Today PT took away the hemi walker, and Caren had to hold her carriage upright to walk. She was in so much unbearable pain and cried with each intentional step. We noticed she is still dragging her left foot and struggles picking it up.

What a brave woman!  What pain she endures, 😦    What a looong healing journey ahead!
I’m reminded of Caren’s determination in the hospital, only days away from being admitted, and her affirmation:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Please remember when you see pictures of Caren up in the chair, or up and walking.  It ain’t over yet!  Those bones are still broken.  Pain, excruciating pain is something she lives with every day.  It is physically taxing.  It is emotionally draining.  Sometimes it is downright discouraging.  The acute concussion still bothers her.  

This leg of the journey will be from 6-8 weeks.  After the bones have mended, Caren has Occupational Therapy for 4-6 weeks after that, perhaps from home.

Your prayers uplift and support her.  Your cards and visits will encourage her, if you have time.  She is ready to socialize, even if she dozes off. 

You are an integral part of this healing journey.  From our hearts, we thank you!

PS  Continued prayers for the other lady involved.  Also, continued prayers that my transportation issue is resolved.  Time has run out on our loaner car.  Rachel and Jordan have been a godsend, and more than generous in loaning us a vehicle.  Ty!

once a person is determined to help themselves, there is nothing that can stop them ~Nelson Mandela

January 28. 2014

The scapula is the attachment site for 18 thoracic, spinal, and upper extremity muscles (Goss). The scapula is actually the shoulder blade. The scapula actually connects the humerus and the clavicle (the arm and the neck), ultimately creating a strong joint. Many muscles connect at this point and have a great amount of influence in upper body mobility. 

More than a dozen muscles are involved with the ribs. All of your ribs attach to your spine, but only the top seven pairs or ‘true ribs, connect to your sternum or breastplate.

When PT comes around and wants Caren to walk, these are the bones and muscles involved – many are fractured.  Then PT wants her to ‘walk her hips’ back to position in the chair.  Her buttocks are bruised from the car wreck.

Today PT took away the hemi walker, and Caren had to hold her carriage upright to walk.
What a brave woman!  What pain she endures, 😦    What a looong healing journey ahead!
I’m reminded of Caren’s determination in the hospital, only days away from being admitted, and her affirmation:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Please remember when you see pictures of Caren up in the chair, or up and walking.  It ain’t over yet!

Those bones are still broken.  Pain, excruciating pain is something she lives with every day.  It is physically taxing.  It is emotionally draining.  Sometimes it is downright discouraging.  The acute concussion still bothers her.  

This leg of the journey will be from 6-8 weeks.  After the bones have mended, Caren has Occupational Therapy for 4-6 weeks after that, perhaps from home.

Your prayers uplift and support her.  Your cards and visits will encourage her, if you have time.  She is ready to socialize, even if she dozes off. 

You are an integral part of this healing journey.  From our hearts, we thank you!

PS  Continued prayers for the other lady involved.  Also, continued prayers that my transportation issue is resolved.  Time has run out on our loaner car.  Rachel and Jordan have been a godsend, and more than generous in loaning us a vehicle.  Ty!

January 29, 2014

From the police report:  “UPON MY ARRIVAL, WYOMING FIRE AND AMR PARAMEDICS WERE ALREADY ON SCENE AND IN THE PROCESS OF TREATING BOTH PATIENTS. I NOTICED THE DRIVER OF ONE VEHICLE WAS LYING IN THE MIDDLE OF GEZON PKWY WITH A LARGE AMOUNT OF BLOOD NEAR HER HEAD. HER HEAD WAS ALSO COVERED WITH SEVERAL BLANKETS AND HER FACE WAS CONCEALED.

“When you arise in the morning think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”  (Marcus Aurelius)  

Life, being alive, is such a precious gift.

Today was shower day for Caren.  First thing this am we had a fashion show, to decide which clothes would accommodate her cast, and be easy to wear with all her injuries.  Then, Caren was to walk to the shower, again.  In came PT, and took away her hemi-walker. *gasps*   There goes security, for it truly is a very steady aid to walking.  Today PT presented Caren with the prettiest, blue-patterned mobility cane.

Those who know Caren will recognize the significance of a blue cane.  I’ve got to say, Caren and I both wondered if the cane would be sufficient.  Like the champ that she is, Caren was willing to try it out.  Off we went to the shower, as I supported her R arm.  PT also put a wedge pillow at the back of the shower chair to support Caren’s broken back and scapula.  Ah!  Sweet bliss, such simple amenites!  We bagged the pillows in plastic so they wouldn’t get wet.  Hey, we’re getting this showering down to a science, 🙂

Can you only imagine how delightful a nice, warm sudsy shower can feel?   After the shower, for the first time since January 04, Caren put on a pretty blue shirt and matching slacks.  Clean, and feeling more normal, and a tad more dignified.  What a day!  Somehow it made the pain more tolerable.

Early tomorrow morning Caren is being transported to a doctor’s appointment – a orthopedics doc (doc of the bones).  We’ll have to see how that goes.

I’m not sure if I can convey what I want to say next.  My thought, my reminiscence is of a little tow-headed baby girl toddling across the floor taking her very first steps.  My very grown up big girl/wife/mother/aunty is again toddling across the floor – learning to walk all over again. Words cannot convey all the emotions whirling around in my heart as I watch her struggle.  I can no more help her now than I could when she was a baby learning to walk, only now, the victory is in something lost and regained – not a first adventure of discovery.  *tears*

I am reminded again and again just how precious a life is.

Thank you, God!

January 30, 2014

Today we went to the doctor’s office from rehab, which required transporting Caren. Ugh!
Michigan roads are truly dreadful this winter.

The above picture of a scapula is similar to the 3-D image we saw today of Caren’s scapula – except Caren’s scapula is broken in four places.  The black space you see in the above image is similar to today’s image, only Caren’s space is larger because of the severity of the breaks.  The doctors were excited, stating that they rarely see the severity of this injury on a live person.  With this type of damage, there are often torn muscles which further exacerbate the pain.  Good news:  The ball and socket joint are intact, and none of Caren’s movements can do any further damage.  Also, we now have an image in our mind – a whole scapula and a shattered one – to visualize healing in the R scapula as whole and well.

The broken wrist is still broken, and remains in a cast.  Good news:  In about two weeks the cast can be taken off, and weight bearing on the wrist will be “as tolerated.”

We also saw a 3-D image of Caren’s ribs.  Boy, howdy!  They are displaced and fractured, for sure.  Good news:  Again we have a visual to meditate on wholly restored ribs. There is greater understanding of the damage, and the time element usually involved in healing these injuries.

Truly we were encouraged by the doctors’ enthusiasm for Caren’s progress, by their reassuring words, and by the images they shared.  Today was an amazing day – tiring, painful, exhausting – but filled with hope and heartened by the news we received.

For the scapula – probably six months before the pain is resolved.  Probably another six months just for range of motion.

The ribs – probably another 6-8 weeks for healing. The lungs still have diminished capacity/volum

Austin’s friend’s family sent a card. Caren also received a card from Judy, Sandy (our neighbor), Dick and Betty, Dar and Bill,  friends at work, and from Benjamin’s class.  Those are the ones I can think of right now.  Thanks ever so much for your love and support.

Today Caren received red tulips, and a lovely African violet – perfect tokens of her bravery.  (Red Tulips: love, prosperity, belief; Violets: healing, love, family)  

Thank you for continued prayers.

Yep, today was an amazing day!  Thank you, Spirit of Heaven!   

January 31, 2014

Caren said she woke up with a goal in mind.  She would test her limits, she would push herself to achieve.

When PT came in, even though she hadn’t eaten breakfast, Caren was wheeled in a wheelchair to the gym.  Without the R shoulder arm support, she walked 65 steps.  We barely made it to a chair to sit and take a breath – for 15 minutes.  Drawback: no suctioning machine at the gym.  PT asked Caren if she was done for the morning.  Caren’s response, “No, I’m not done.  I have a goal.  Let’s walk back.”

After another 60 steps, Caren was ready to be wheeled back to her room.

Until Speech Therapy came.  Caren insisted on doing her Speech Therapy.

By the time everything was done it was lunchtime, and Caren was ready for bed.  She was ‘plum tuckered out.’  Caren was sleeping by the time I left.

I took Austin in to visit Mom briefly, but she was still so tired, she slept.

Then, THEN PT came back again!  Apparently it was time for Caren to ‘socialize.’  She was to join a group making tostadas. Now, anyone knowing our family and Rick’s heritage has gotta laugh at this.  Caren and I laughed as she explained that those folks really had no idea how to make tostadas.  Besides, she was still too tired to deal with all the noise of a group of people and noise.  Noise and confusion still cause her a lot of anxiety.

But, today she had a goal.  She believed she could, so she did.

Yay, Caren!

Jehovah-Chatsahi 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     Friday Evening

(Rewind to Friday afternoon:  One of the nurses/w a very heavy accent came in to Caren’s room, asking her medication questions, which dumbfounded Caren.  She looked at me and explained that she couldn’t understand the nurse’s language.  The nurse, professional that she wasn’t, got in a huff and chastisingly [if that is indeed a word] corrected Caren by announcing, “You mean MY accent?”   In my head I thought, “Well!  Someone is having a bad day!”  And, then I dismissed it.

Little did I know that the offended nurse was not yet done.

Later that evening, thankfully Benjamin was with his Mom, she again entered Caren’s room.  In the process of waiting on Caren, this same nurse yanked the pillow out from under Caren’s R arm, throwing it to the floor.  Caren screamed in pain, as Benjamin hollered, “Don’t be mean to my Mom!”  Several times the cell phone call was dropped as I tried to make sense of what was happening in Caren’s room.  Caren kept telling me to wait, because other people were coming in to help her.

It definitely ‘got my Irish up’ and I was ready to bundle Nich and Austin into the car and fly down the road and pull me some nurse hairs.  *breathing*   I’m not clear how it all settled, but Nursie Dearest never came near Caren’s room when I returned on Saturday.

Where does administration get some of these people?  KGB rejects?  [a tad unkind, I know – but WTF!?]

God, God, it truly is a challenge to see the Christ in some people.

February 1, 2014

 A slight mix-up in scheduling.  Note to self:  Saturdays be at the facility to shower Caren by 8 am so Rick can take care of the boys!

So, today was shower day.  That is not an exciting update to most.  To Caren, it is huge.  The whole process takes well over an hour.  It starts from Caren’s getting up, a huge endeavor; preparing toiletries/towels/washcloths, etc.; setting up the shower chair with wedge pillow, bagging a bed pillow in plastic, and positioning it to support Caren’s R arm; showering process; drying process; . . . till finally we are assisting Caren with dressing, and returning to her room.   This process, this whole process of bathing/dressing is not what bothers me.  I can be objective about this natural state of affairs.

What bothers me most, as caregiver, is the immense amount of mental anguish Caren endures being cared for, losing the dignity of independence, feeling mortified and frustrated with her weakness – and her sadness over the whole affair. She is so very grateful for the smallest nicety.   And the pain.  I have the greatest challenge with the constant, carnivorous pain which eats at her every moment.  Today, it was almost too much, and I burst into tears, which caused Caren further anxiety.

Some days I think if I ever start really crying, that I’ll never stop.  How catastrophic it has been – this whole head-on collision.  What a roller-coaster ride.

People tell me, “Remember self-care.”   What does that really mean?  How does one even find 20 minutes alone.  How does one justify ‘getting away’ when Caren can not get away from her anguish and pain?

I just guess, on this roller-coaster ride, that today was a downhill fall.  

Caren definitely is not alone on this healing journey.  I believe we are all on the same journey, in different ways.

I never did like roller-coaster rides, LOL

Well, tomorrow is another day.  We’ll cherish the ‘up’ moments, and count our blessings!

Night!

Jehovah-Mephalti

February 2, 2014

Today was a day to regroup my thoughts, and recharge my batteries. My heart overflows with gratitude for the folks at Unity of Greater Grand Rapids, Ada. We were blessed this morning with a lesson facilitated by Jeanne Keller. It was just what the Great Physician ordered – – trusting the process. It is really true that when you are busy looking all around, it’s challenging to raise your sights. As a caregiver, it was important for me to re-center, for Caren and for the whole family. I AM open and receptive to “hear with the ear behind the ear, and listen with the heart behind the heart.” Dealing with a concussion, Caren does a lot of out loud self-talk to help her process. Now, Caren said I must share a ‘funny’ with all ya’ll. As most of you know, narcotics can really ‘stop you up.’ Broken ribs are a real deterrent to successful elimination. This morning Caren was in the restroom doing her self-talk, “Release and let go.” She was totally unaware of the nurse entering the room. All of a sudden the loudest ‘thunderclap’ echoed through the bathroom. Ah! Sweet success,*Cstill chuckling* Caren got a new roomy today. Also, Caren has been having the worst trouble ever with her ribs. Nothing helped. Pain meds weren’t working. Repositioning didn’t help. An icepack did nothing to alleviate the discomfort. Simone, Nicole and I went to assist Caren to the shower room for a freshening up and a change of clothes. You know, it’s amazing how much the release of gas helped those ribs not to hurt! Release and let go! There’s a lesson there for me, for all of us!

• Jehovah-‘Ez-Lami

February 3, 2014

Caren had a goal in mind today.  She was going to push herself to achieve.  She wants to be home.

Sadly, I missed witnessing these accomplishments.  Although I was in touch with her by phone, there was just so much business, and so many errands – I was not with Caren today.

Monday morning I left at 11 am to p/u Austin.  I didn’t walk in the door with the kids until 6:03 that evening.  Then I made supper.  Tonight was an early-to-bed night for all the boys.

I AM grateful that the mortgage is paid; the auto insurance is moving smoothly, albeit slowly, :-); and I have an appointment with my tax lady tomorrow.  To accomplish all this – my bank account is now way overdrawn, *sighs*   Nonetheless, *cheerily*, we are making progress and our home is secure. 

One of the many things I admire about Caren is her resilience of spirit.  My daughter is an achiever, an overcomer, she makes progress.  Any time I spoke to her today, she was either with PT (physical therapy), speech therapy, or listening to the CD’s provided to her by RT (Recreational Therapy).  Not having any physical reserves, all this activity wears her out totally.  How she works through the pain continues to be a miracle to me.

Jehovah-‘Immeku

February 4, 2014

Today was the day I met with Marie to file taxes.  What a wonderful woman, a new grandma, and a trusted prayer partner.  Thank you, Marie.

After taking care of this yearly chore, I was up to see Caren by 11-ish, with clean laundry, a Valentine wreath for her bulletin board, and replacement toiletries.

Caren was sitting on the edge of her bed, waiting.  I was so happy to see her!  Just one day can seem like such a long time.

Maybe I am OCD, or maybe I’m just organized and tidy, but after only one day her room (or small cubicle, *chuckles*)  was a total mess.  Food product and med products were mixed together on the counter; my glorious placement of items in little trays was all moved around (truth in jest); prayer shawl was on the floor; and various other annoying little messes.  To me, chaos breeds confusion.  I do know by experience that chaos in the form of clutter and messes also makes Caren anxious.  Well, there is work to be done today, 🙂

The first project to to help Caren to the restroom, where we freshened things up, and helped her put on a clean outfit.  She is looking amazing!  Next, Paula (one of our wonderfully caring and compassionate aides) helped me to position Caren in the recliner.  Amber, Caren’s nurse extraordinaire, brought Caren her meds.  

By the time Caren was all settled in, it was lunchtime, then Caren and I were able to organize some of her paperwork.  Sue reigns over the front desk and has been at the facility nearly twenty years, so I went to her for a folder.  I really liked her idea of using a large envelope to contain frisky papers that would otherwise escape a manila folder.  Thank you, Sue!

Sitting in the recliner, in a busy hall, near the nurses’ station was a bit too noisy and congested.  It was time to take Caren for a ride.  I had a treat in mind for her – a very quiet place one of the PT gals had shown me.  Caren and I traveled to the far end of long-term care to a small living room setting near an aquarium. The stillness was palpable.  Caren loved it!  One of the nurses who knew Caren supplied her with a deluxe version of a hospital tray table.  I set out her computer, phone, and paperwork.  We were ready to work. She spent a lot of time being confused and distracted. She was struggling with finding the words she wanted to use when talking with me and was beside herself with pain.

Then, sad reality steamrolled us.  Caren was making numerous calls to figure out her FMLA.  She’d been applying for short-term disability.   While she was doing that, I left briefly to p/u Benjamin.  I was back in approximately forty-five minutes to Caren in tears.  What had happened:  Apparently, two weeks ago Caren had talked with a woman about FMLA, and the woman was attempting to relay old information to Caren.  Also, Caren’s boss, Sue, had texted Caren some pertinent phone numbers.  Caren had absolutely no memory of either incident, and could not recall either one.  She was scared and worried about her brain, and the severity and duration of her brain injury/acute concussion.  It makes me cry now, for I had no easy answers.  Gotta’ love the internet.  I had been researching acute concussions but did not realize the severity or continued presence of amnesia.  I knew she didn’t remember the crash, but did not realize how that amnesia would overlap and impact her life. Why has not one provider educated us about this? Why has not one provider addressed this with Caren?

When Benjamin and I stepped away from Caren, to go back to her room for something she needed, we talked about Mom’s upset.  God bless Benjamin’s heart!  He said, “Nana, at least she remember us, she remembers her family.  That is most important.”  Buddy, yes it is!  When we returned to Caren, I shared that with her, which made her feel better.  Just writing about this particular incident makes me cry.

Here’s what I discovered on Medscape:  One definition of concussion is a condition in which there is a traumatically induced alteration in mental status, with or without an associated loss of consciousness (LOC).[1] A broader definition is a traumatically induced physiologic disruption in brain function that is manifested by LOC, memory loss, alteration of mental state or personality, or focal neurologic deficits.  Also, Post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) is a state of confusion that occurs immediately following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in which the injured person is disoriented and unable to remember events that occur after the injury.  Longer periods of amnesia or loss of consciousness immediately after the injury may indicate longer recovery times from residual symptoms from concussion. (Wikipedia)

These are things doctors and staff do not thoroughly explain or teach the families about.  Speech Therapy and others keep saying, “This is normal.”   Gosh darn it!  It is not normal if compared to a person’s ‘former life’ – as in ‘before accident’!   Maybe a less frustrating explanation would be, “. . . typical for a traumatic brain injury.”

Nonetheless, all ya’ll – all our prayer partners – let’s particularly affirm and pray together, sending love and light specifically to this condition of the concussion called amnesia.  God does indeed answer the prayers of his righteous (right-use-of) – and we are all the righteous heirs of the One who holds the Universe.   Thank you! Jehovah-Nissi                       

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxgw6pbW59E 

February 5, 2014

 The love of children, their sincerity, their authenticity – is soul touching and healing.

After the steamroller of reality ran over us Tuesday regarding Caren’s amnesia, I had returned to the rehab to p/u Benjamin.

I had to leave to p/u Austin from grandma’s and Nich from bowling. I had asked Benjamin to do me a favor, and take care of Mom while I was gone.

Caren said Benjamin had been the most attentive ever, loving and gentle.  Even when the nurse couldn’t figure out how to operate Caren’s recliner, Benjamin politely fixed the situation and wheeled his Mom back to her room, helping to get her settled. He helped her fix her supper tray, and was an excellent go-fer.  I think our Benjamin is growing up, 🙂

As I was leaving the rehab facility for the evening, the young lady at the receptionist desk asked me if “that young man” was with me, pointing to Benjamin as he exited to go to the car.  I explained that he was my grandson.  She was delighted to tell me how polite he’d been, speaking to her and conversing with her.  She also stated that none of the young people his age had ever spoken to her, or acknowledged that she was at the desk.  I really appreciated her kind words and Benjamin’s mature attitude.

Before I left, I stopped to read the cards for Caren Benjamin’s friends had made in class.
Each child, each card was a loving work of art and sentiment.  Just reading their notes made me cry, the notes were so genuine.  Each had a healing word, a word of encouragement for Caren.  Some expressed prayers.  Some sent her the gift of laughter by saying these cards would cheer her up, and help her heal.  I was deeply moved to tears, and immensely encouraged and blessed.  What mature posts each person shared.  Perhaps I underestimated fifth graders.  Oh, Benjamin is a fifth grader!  *chuckles*

Again, let me express my abundant gratitude to Benjamin’s fifth grade class for their gift of time and love. Thank you, Benjamin for delivering these treasures to Mom.

Young people, thank you, also, for reminding me of unconditional love!

God bless these children who are such precious teachers!

February 5-7, 2014 (posted February 9, 2014)

WEDNESDAY, 02/05:   We had yet another snow day.  It was a day I couldn’t come in to see Caren.  She walked 66 feet today.  Caren was sad because Speech Therapy is becoming more and more difficult as she struggles with the acute concussion which still is unresolved.  Stress exacerbates the symptoms of an acute concussion, and she becomes more forgetful, and more stressed . . . and so goes the cycle of Caren’s healing journey. 

 “A brain injury can change the way people feel or express emotions.   . . .  This is called emotional lability..
In some cases the brain injury can cause sudden episodes of crying or laughing. These emotional expressions or outbursts may not have any relationship to the way the persons feels (in other words, they may cry without feeling sad or laugh without feeling happy). In some cases the emotional expression may not match the situation (such as laughing at a sad story). Usually the person cannot control these expressions of emotion. Anxiety is a feeling of fear or nervousness that is out of proportion to the situation. People with brain injury may feel anxious without exactly knowing why. Or they may worry and become anxious about making too many mistakes, or “failing” at a task, or if they feel they are being criticized. Many situations can be harder to handle after brain injury and cause anxiety, such as being in crowds, being rushed, or adjusting to sudden changes in plan. Some people may have sudden onset of anxiety that can be overwhelming (“panic attacks”).

  • Difficulty reasoning and concentrating can make it hard for the person with TBI to solve problems. This can make the person feel overwhelmed, especially if he or she is being asked to make decisions.
  • Anxiety often happens when there are too many demands on the injured person, such as returning to employment too soon after injury. Time pressure can also heighten anxiety.
  • Situations that require a lot of attention and information-processing can make people with TBI anxious. Examples of such situations might be crowded environments, heavy traffic or noisy children.”  (Emotional-Problems-After-Traumatic-Brain-Injury)

THURSDAY, 02/06:  Hooray!  School day!  Wednesday’s shower was moved to today.  Especially after her shower Caren was feeling much better today.  It’s amazing what a good shower, shampoo, and pretty outfit can do to lift a woman’s spirits.  Then, THEN PT comes in for her daily exercise.  While Caren and PT head down to the gym, I clean up after the shower and tidy her room.

Today Caren would like to exceed her best walk of 66 feet.  She pushes herself to achieve.  The therapist and Caren had fun joking around, which is also a boost to spirit.  Rex pulled out the wheely-measuring-tape-thingy, and told Caren that she had only walked 62 feet.  Jovially she said, “That’s okay, I’ll make it next time.”  Rex showed Caren the tally on the rolling measure.  Caren looked confused, so I leaned in to read it.  Caren quipped, “That doesn’t look like 62!?”   Caren, today, walked a total of 256 feet!  What a successful day for her!  This was her best PT ever.

Friday, 02/07:  “Friday’s child is loving and giving.”

Nich and Austin missed school today because of illness.  By 11:30 Benjamin called from school, and was ill.  Well, three down, and two to go!  No visits to Caren today.  Blessed Mary did talk to Caren about her struggle with the acute concussion.  What a gift of compassion Mary, the social worker, always brings to Caren.  When someone suffers a brain injury, the entire family is affected. Studies show that caregivers of people who have suffered a brain injury may experience feelings of burden, distress, anxiety, anger and depression. If you are caring for a partner, spouse, child, relative or close friend with TBI, it is important to recognize how stressful this situation can be. Information about brain injury and support can make a great difference.  

Brain injury rehabilitation is a marathon and not a sprint.   . . .  An individual with a brain injury may not be fully aware of the impact of his or her injuries until he or she resumes old routines (personal care, for example). It can be very upsetting for the person when these realizations set in, and behavioral problems can surface. Although this increased insight is a sign of recovery, the family may need to provide greater support and be more vigilant to ensure safety and ease the person through this period.  (Brain Injury Association) Mary scheduled an appointment for Caren to meet with a counselor on Tuesday. Jehovah-Rophe

Love, not time, heals all wounds. ~Andy Rooney

February 9, 2014

I had a date with Caren today.  I promised to be with her early for Saturday’s shower so she would be all fresh to spend time with family and friends.  I walked in at 8 am.

Shower time was fun and relaxing.  Before your naughty minds can razz Caren – you must know that she “oh so innocently” held the shower head, and deliberately sprayed me!  That’s my girl!  It reminded me of “water fights” we enjoyed as a family.  I must have looked totally surprised, and we both burst out laughing so hard that Caren’s ribs hurt!  Our allotted time was up, so we wrapped Caren in a sheet as we scuttled across the hall.  While getting clothes out of the suitcase, I teased her by asking what shirt was her choice, the one in the left hand or the one in the right.  We laughed again at the way it sounded when she was a little girl and I gave her choices.  It was a much more lighthearted day.

After lunch together, I went home to trade places with Rick and Mary.

Rick informed me that Rachel would be by in 2 hours to pick up her car.  When Jordan came in to retrieve the keys, I shared with him how immensely grateful we were and what a gift of love they shared with us by loaning us a vehicle.

What a challenge now faces us as we keep kids in school, Rick to work, and Nana to take care of Caren.  “And all is swell!”

Mary had a homecoming dance Saturday evening, so she was able to get dressed for the dance with Dad AND Mom available.  Mary had a stunning new dress and Mom got to see it. Mom also got to see how gorgeous Mary was for her dance. What a gift of time and love Mary shared with her Mom today.

Mary also found time to polish Caren’s fingernails and toenails.  They look lovely!  Mel came a little early to p/u Mary and was able to visit with Caren.

Until you are stuck in a hospital bed, with each day droning on, you’ll never know how much visits can mean to a bed fast person and how it can uplift them.  Thank you, Mel!

I believe love is healing, and I believe laughter is healing!

Jehovah-‘Ori 

February 10, 2014

Hooray!  Kane visits Mom today!  Kane plays Uno with Mom.  What a brilliant idea! Caren said that it was probably the longest Uno game in history – two hours.  She kept falling asleep.

Sometimes nurses can be so inept.  Caren had NO pain meds from 8 pm Saturday until nearly 8 am Sunday.  She was nauseous and the pain was raging out of control.  If I knew the nurse’s name, I would post it.  Shame on you, nursie!  No gold star for you today.

Oops, I digress.  The fact that Caren had difficulty staying awake reminded me of the atrocity of the night before.  Thank God most of the people helping Caren have been loving and compassionate; professional, and knowledgeable!

Today Caren’s speech was more slurred, she had more hallucinations, and that dang concussion dragged her down.

Tomorrow is a brand new day!  Saturday I shared with Caren a ditty Austin and I made.  Although childish, it is catchy and helped Austin and me at a time when we needed it most:  There is no spot where God is not – Thank you, thank you, thank you!  There is no spot where God is not – Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you, thank you, thank you God; thank you, thank you, thank you God; thank you, thank you, thank you God!  There is no spot where God is not!”

Kane definitely had fun with Mom, and was astounded with her progress as she put herself to bed! Jehovah-Mephalti

What a topsy-turvy life!  Personally, I’m tired of all this dreary winter, tired of transportation challenges, tired of missing yet another appointment for Nich (which throws me out of the program),  tired of illness, tired of waiting – just tired.  A person can know all the platitudes, know principle, have faith, be positive (I have no known negative thoughts, unless ‘tired’ is negative) – yet feel totally inept, out of control, and brain weary.  Some days I am surprised I know my own name.  I wonder, is feeling overwhelmed negative?

Moving forward:  Today the phenomenal Ashley, PA, met with Caren and me to discuss pain management.  If you remember earlier posts, the first major pain management hurdle was to remove Caren from all intravenous pain meds, and to control the pain with oral medications.  When this was accomplished, she could be moved to rehab.

As of yesterday, CAren was receiving pain meds about every two hours, especially after PT.  She was taking Oxy Cont as the long acting pain med.  The next pain management hurdle, and a necessity for home rehab, is to eventually eliminate the meds for break-through pain.  Therefore, the dosage of the Oxy Cont will be increased to give longer lasting pain coverage, the Valium for the muscle spasms of the ribs (can you imagine a charley horse in the ribs X 10?) will continue, and the Xanax will continue as Caren recovers from the concussion.  What will stop will be the Oxy for break-through pain.  Also, blood work shows that Caren is almost totally depleted in Vitamin D.  Vitamin D and calcium will also be added.

An integral part of this whole pain management procedure is the role the CNA’s play in Caren’s care for they observe her 24/7 even when family can not be present.  These gifted, compassionate individuals deserve medals of honor for they fight valiantly for their patients and their care.  The CNA is trained to safely bathe, groom, dress and assist patients with their activities of daily living. They are also trained to safely assist with ambulation, transfers, and bed mobility.   We have met many wonderful people who have contributed to Caren’s care, get her up and laughing, and treat her with dignity and integrity. I’ll attempt to list those CNA’s who’ve impacted our lives: (Folks, please forgive any misspellings or omissions. The negligence wasn’t intentional, 🙂 )  Simone, Paula, Tawally, Tameeka, Nicole, Molly, and other unnamed aides who came to help.   Thank you, and God bless each of you!

The nurses who come to mind: Amber, Sarah, Sara, Rosemary, and Alyssa. I am unfamiliar with the night nurses.  I’m sure there are others who also deserve recognition, like the lady on the long-term end who brought Caren a tray table from the dining room.  These are wonderful, reliable, and compassionate individuals who I remember at this time, and who I appreciate immensely. Thank you for sharing your gift of love and your talents with Caren.  Abundant blessings to each and every one of you!

Jehovah-Shalom

February 12, 2014

With heartfelt gratitude Caren and her family would like to say THANK YOU!  The incredible outpouring of love, prayers, and support have blessed us, and continue to uphold and encourage us during this difficult time.  We have a long journey ahead of us this year, and together we can only proceed one step at a time – together in prayer!

Yesterday Austin was home sick with a gnarly cough.  His doctor’s appointment was at 1:45 pm.   Rick’s car had been acting rather funky due to the ice build-up on tire wells.  It was no surprise to me when the car was shimmying and shaking – until it became noticeably different.  Austin and I pulled into the 76th Street Truck Stop.  Flat tire!  Really?!  Flat tire!!

First I had to call the doctor’s office to cancel Austin’s appointment, then I called Rick.

Miraculously I was able to contact Anna Maria.  Hooray, she was at home!  Anna Maria came to our rescue, even picking up Nich and Benjamin from school and driving us all home.
Anna Maria stayed for tea.   What an incredible blessing!  I’ve truly missed our times of friendship visits and fellowship.  We enjoyed after-school snack with the boys.

THEN, THEN – Anna Maria went to visit Caren, taking some items with her that I couldn’t deliver.  What a joy it was to Caren to visit with an old friend (no pun intended, Anna -LOL) Caren told Anna Maria that she felt forgotten, and how blest she was for Anna Maria’s visit.
By the way, yesterday Caren walked from the gym all the way to her room, over 500 feet, with her cane and not her walker!  That girl is working hard to get
home, 🙂 

Anna Maria, thank you for sharing your special gift of love and compassion and comfort with Caren!

Today the boys and I are hanging out downstairs while I post on Caren’s behalf.  Bill and Dar have arranged to have Rick’s car towed in, and repaired.  Thanks a million, Bill and Dar!

Wednesday shower day is postponed again.  There is a difference this time.  Personally I feel that I’ve been granted an extra measure of grace.  I am in a space of peace and harmony, no upset, no frustration, no exhaustion.  Thank you, God!

“Life after brain injury can be like a scene from the movie “The Parent Trap.” You look like the same person, but you are not.

  • Cognitive changes may affect memory, judgment, reasoning, learning, processing speech and vision. 
  • Physical changes may affect gait, vision, hearing, . . . , energy level, weakness, smell, taste, etc. 
  • Behavioral and psychiatric changes may include mood swings, . . . agitation, sadness, depression, anxiety, . . . ; life very difficult and feelings of isolation often occur.


The topics, ideas, suggestions, and information listed throughout this website are being provided as a look into the life of a person after brain injury. It is important to remember that the person is as unique as the injury and life post-injury will be as well.

The “what now” works both ways; how does the family make it work and how does the survivor make it work.”  (https://www.facebook.com/BIRCofWI)

Thank you for your continued love, prayers, and support!

Jehovah-Misqabbi

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today Caren walked from her room to therapy.  Also, she’s been changed from a 2-person transfer to a 1-person transfer.  Speech therapy still troubles her.  Apparently Caren was playing Uno with the therapist, lol

February 13, 2014

Caren, this poem from Deb Montgomery is dedicated to you.  The sun will shine again, as the clouds dissipate that obscure your vision, and you will feel whole again –  – as you go within where there is perfection and health and wholeness. 

 WARMTH OF A TEAR

Sometimes the words don’t come
yet within
the storm rages over and over.

The emotions tumble over each other
seeming never to end.

I sit motionless, 
watching the light fades
nothing but shadows seem to appear before me.

Swelling up around me are the clouds, 
growing darker
the air becomes harder to breathe,
my heart feels as though it will explode.

Silently I scream, never hearing a sound.
Mute are the screams from within.

Where has that laughter gone,
where has those feelings of joy, 
pain, 
happiness 
disappeared too?

How I long to capture those feelings again.
Yet, in this moment they escape me.
Why does this darkness surround me?
When does it end?

Silently I wait, for those moments to feel again.

Looking out the window I see the trees.
The limbs that are full of new life, 
the leaves filling the branches.

I see the clouds as they roll across the skies,
dancing magically, aimlessly rolling 
across the horizon.

I see the children playing, not a care in the world.
Their laughter, their joy, not a fear one do I see.
I long for that child to be in me again.

Silently I watch, wishing my heart was this free.

I sit and watch as the sun breaks free 
from behind the clouds,
no longer held captive behind the shadows.

The warmth that pours thru my window,
the streams of that sun begin to enter my world slowly, 
the sun caresses my face.

Closing my eyes I begin to feel, 
it envelops my whole being.
The peace that floods thru every fiber of my being.

The light trickles across my face and silently 
my tears begin to fall.

The tears streaming down my face, 
slowly,
I feel the darkness slowly fade.

I begin to see in that moment 
a part of me has been freed.
Emotions come flooding thru my veins, 
awakening every part of me.

What I thought was lost was for a time 
like that sun hidden behind that cloud.

As I had sat there silently looking out that window, 
I knew in order to truly see that 
which was before me, 
I had only to look for that which was within me.

That which I had allowed to be hidden 
by the clouds and storms of my life, 
now I was able to set free.
In the warmth of my tears, 
now I can see.

~Deb Montgomery~

February 14, 2014

Wheels!  We finally have wheels!  Rick’s car is repaired and safe ( Huge HUGS and thanks go out to Bill and Dar.) Austin and I get to visit Mom.  Hooray!  Shower day!

AND Happy Valentine’s Day.   Austin gave Mom a valentine card he’d made, and shared his bag of valentines with her – showing her all his treasures.  Austin also got snuggle time with Mom when she put herself back to bed after her shower!

Today, Valentine’s Day, is the anniversary of Rick and Caren – when they first met.  Their love continues still and has blossomed into this wonderful entity called a family.  We are one.
The past few months have been especially trying.  House fire, head-on collision/Caren ejected, loss of income, loss of vehicle; Katie left for college and Mary and Kane went for six months to their other house.

Through it all, we are abundantly grateful to be a family, like a “tree of many branches we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”

No matter which direction we grow, regardless of the changes we face in life – be they small changes or catastrophic changes – we are still family.

And we are abundantly grateful for the enormous love we share.

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

A little birdie told me that Justin and Kelley and Rick and Caren will have a double date/Valentine dinner tonight at the Rehab facility 😀 I’m excited for them!  This is an Anniversary date for both couples.

February 15, 2014

Our family would like to especially thank the FAMS family of workers, specifically Sue and Deb’s team who have supported us throughout this journey with Caren.

Last night Sue came over with a Valentine gift for all of us.  Deb’s team held a Baked Potato Sale, ‘Caring for Caren’ – and brought the proceeds to us as a gift.

Thank you, team! When you use the last washing detergent, and Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is nearly bare, you realize the miraculous way God inspires these angels to step forward.

THANK YOU!  All the planners, all the participants, THANK YOU! It is a special gift of love you give, and we know we are not alone nor forgotten in this journey. Again, from Caren/Rick and our family to yours, our hearts are grateful!

February 16, 2014

Justin and Kelley, Rick and Caren = a very special Valentine’s Dinner.  Thank you Kelley for sharing your love to make this celebration of love a treasured moment.

 “Your truest friends are the ones who will stand by you in your darkest moments because they’re willing to brave the shadows with you; and in your greatest moments because they’re not afraid to let you shine.”  (copied)

February 16, 2014

Early Friday morning, Anna Maria dropped off the pretty lavender bouquet of daisies (Daisies represent purity, loyal love and are symbol of innocence. It also can symbolize new beginnings. The flower is also said to be the ultimate symbol of inner sanctity.)  The pink carnation is from the kids, the beautiful carnation bouquet is from Rick (Carnations symbolize especially fascination, distinction, and love.)   We added her Valentine cards to the wall. Happy glorious day of love to all who shared this special holiday with Caren. Jehovah-Kabodhi

February 17, 2014

Stairs.  Do we think about them, or climb them from memory?  Do we stop to think how many muscles it takes to climb each step?  Caren is re-learning to walk stairs.  This is her current goal in PT. It is interesting to watch her wobbling and trying to maintain her balance and focus on each step she makes. She is determined.

The shortest stairs above are the ones Caren uses to practice walking up curbs with her cane.  There is an art to it.  The tallest stairs are the ones she uses in the gym to build stamina climbing stairs.  

The long staircase, taken from the front door, all thirteen of them – lead to Caren’s bedroom at home.

This is her goal. Tomorrow we have a meeting to see what is required at home, required from us, and required from Caren to come home. Thank you for your continued prayers. Jehovah-Misqabbi 

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When I left, Caren was still in Speech Therapy.  I thought she was doing a fantastic job, better than I would have done.  She was given a picture to look at for one minute, then had to recall what she’d seen. Also, she listened to a short story, and had to answer questions from the therapist.  I was happy to be present and see Caren’s progress.  Proud mama here!

The inimitable Nurse Amber had ordered an air mattress for Caren’s bed.  As I leave for the day, the bed is still unmade.  I’m wondering about this mattress.  Caren and I had joked about getting a step stool to get into bed.    *chuckling as I leave*

February 18, 2014

 5 a.m. I get a phone call from Caren.  She rolled to her left side.  No pain!   She rolled to her tummy.  No pain! FIRST time ever since the accident that she has had a ‘drug-free’ pain-free moment!  What jubilant news!  She is full of hope for normalcy.  She even sat up in bed to adjust the back of her shirt. Glory be!

Granted, the scapula throbs when she is out of bed, or walking to the bathroom, but what a blessing to have this relief when pain has been her constant tormentor.

The incomparable, unsurpassed, Madame Amber, I could hug your neck right now!   Thank you for truly being an awesome Nurse extraordinaire!

Rock on, Caren!  See you at our meeting this morning!

February 20, 2014

The orange bouquet above was from Ms. Crump’s Young Fives and Ms. Galloway’s Fantastic Fifth graders.

It was the first bouquet received at Butterworth when Caren was in the hospital.  She adored that bouquet and all the love it represented.

With Shadow’s help today, we made it into a forever bouquet.  Dar and Benjamin delivered it.  Love is forever, and Caren can now have a forever bouquet from this giving, loving, compassionate group of children.

Caren is still receiving Speech Therapy, but has no scheduled Physical Therapy today.  She is mobile, and we are waiting for bones to heal and for the doctor’s appointment on the 27th to know how to proceed.

Today I start rearranging her room, hopefully to accommodate a hospital bed with the magical air mattress.  We are waiting to hear about other modifications that home care will require.   As Caren said when she was a teen, before it became popular, “Onward and Upward!”

February 24, 2014

Never, ever, ever quit!

 Empowerment–You must be in charge of your healing in every way to counteract the effects of the trauma where all control was taken away from you.

Validation–You need others to listen to you, to validate the importance of what happened to you, to bear witness, and to understand the role of this trauma in your life.

Connection–Trauma makes you feel very alone. As part of your healing, you need to reconnect with others. This connection may be part of your treatment.

If you feel the cause of your symptoms is related to trauma in your life, you will want to be careful about your treatment and in making decisions about other areas of your life. The following guidelines will help you decide how to help yourself feel better.

Have hope. It is important that you know that you can and will feel better. In the past you may have thought you would never feel better—that the horrible symptoms you experience would go on for the rest of your life. Many people who have experienced the same symptoms that you are experiencing are now feeling much better. They have gone on to make their lives the way they want them to be and to do the things they want to do.

Take personal responsibility. When you have been traumatized, you lose control of your life. You may feel as though you still don’t have any control over your life. You begin to take back that control by being in charge of every aspect of your life. Others, including your spouse, family members, friends, and health care professionals

will try to tell you what to do. Before you do what they suggest, think about it carefully. Do you feel that it is the best thing for you to do right now? If not, do not do it. You can follow others advice, but be aware that you are choosing to do so. It is important that you make decisions about your own life. You are responsible for your own behavior. Being traumatized is not an acceptable excuse for behavior that hurts you or hurts others.

Talk to one or more people about what happened to you. Telling others about the trauma is an important part of healing the effects of trauma. Make sure the person or people you decide to tell are safe people, people who would not hurt you, and who understand that what happened to you is serious. They should know, or you could tell them, that describing what happened to you over and over is an important part of the healing process.

Don’t tell a person who responds with statements that invalidate your experience, like “That wasn’t so bad.” “You should just forget about it,” “Forgive and forget,” or “You think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” They don’t understand. In connecting with others, avoid spending all your time talking about your traumatic experiences. Spend time listening to others and sharing positive life experiences, like going to movies or watching a ball game together. You will know when you have described your trauma enough, because you won’t feel like doing it anymore.

Develop a close relationship with another person. You may not feel close to or trust anyone. This may be a result of your traumatic experiences. Part of healing means trusting people again. Think about the person in your life that you like best. Invite them to do something fun with you. If that feels good, make a plan to do something else together at another time—maybe the following week. Keep doing this until you feel close to this person. Then, without giving up on that person, start developing a close relationship with another person. Keep doing this until you have close relationships with at least five people. Support groups and peer support centers are good places to meet people.

Moving Forward on Your Healing Journey

If you are now about to begin working on recovering from the effects of trauma, or if you have already begun this work and are planning to continue making some changes based on what you have learned, you will need courage and persistence along the way. You may experience setbacks. From time to time you may get so discouraged that you feel like you want to give up. This happens to everyone. Notice how far you’ve come. Appreciate even a little progress. Do something nice for yourself and continue your efforts. You deserve an enjoyable life. ( http://unhcc.unh.edu/dealing-effects-trauma-%E2%80%93-self-help-guide )

Caren, you are a strong woman.  Before you is a fresh canvas.  Re-create your life.
Even your loneliest ‘alone’ times are sacred and part of the healing journey.

Jehovah Shammah

February 27, 2014

Waiting.  Are we such busy people that waiting is a challenge?  I guess we just want answers.  Today we are at the orthopaedist’s office.  Caren has been taken into x-ray. And, I wait.

Wrist break has mended.  CAst removed.  Hooray!   Scapula has knitted together, and needs to be strengthened – as tolerated (we would later learn that we were told false information; her scapula remained shattered).  Pelvic fracture is not visible on latest scans. Rib fractures – still in the process of healing (we later learned this was also false information give to us based on the average healing time, not based on what was actually happening with her lack of healing).  Caren has been released to OT, and Restorative Therapy.

Everywhere there was a fracture, there are also torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons which have scarred. These injuries are known as soft tissue injuries and will  be painful as they heal, and as Caren exercises to gain mobility, and flexibility.

Baby steps = progress.

Go, Caren!

February 28, 2014

 Last night this gal was just too tired to finish the thoughts on ‘waiting’.  Yesterday, Caren and I found a quiet spot at Spectrum Rehab to share lunch – and discuss goals, and waiting.

Waiting isn’t necessarily a negative thing.  It is the pause before moving toward greater things.  One of Jesse’s poems states, “Your goal must be bigger than the obstacle that you face – If you plan on overcoming any feeling of graven haste. You can achieve the highest level of any given goal, If at all you have the inner Will, To surpass the Ways of Old.”   

Perhaps this waiting period, this pause, is a rest from putting away old things and old ways that no longer work in our life.  We pause to rest, before progressing.

It reminds me of the quote about the arrow:  “An arrow can only be released by pulling it backward. Before the arrow is released, there is a pause, as you wait – taking careful aim at your target.  So, when life is dragging you backwards with difficulties, it means you are soon to be launched forward into something even greater.  Remember to stay focused, and keep aiming.” 

One of the attributes I’ve always admired about Caren is her ability to focus, set goals, and strive for the goals she’s set.  Caren, onward and forward to victory!

February 28, 2014

A special thank you goes out to Ron and Roadbed Ministries for the gifts they provided today.  Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was nearly bare, and God provided in a big way!  What is not seen here is the chocolate cake mix.  Austin and I will make cupcakes and share them at church this evening.

Our hearts are full of gratitude. Thank you God for prospering us in unforeseen ways. It brings to mind, “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” Abundant blessings to Ron and Roadbed Ministries.  Thank you. Thank you, God!

February 28, 2014

Caren’s first post recited to me to type for her happened today. This was what she wanted to say:

“The appointment today with the Ortho guy plus still having this concussion equaled me in an equally emotionally weepy disagreeable mess because I wasn’t understanding his terms and jargon. He was saying I was healed and released. I was like “I can’t wipe my own butt (admittedly not the word I used),, raise my own arm lay in bed without pain, or hug youngest child and you call this healed????” Why was everyone looking so okay and calm by this? Then even with further explanation from the nurses and mom..it took me almost the whole ride in the ambulance back to the rehab center to get it. Seriously this brain needs to catch up a bit faster or I will be crying a lot more. However, I got the cast off. I can begin Ortho therapy because the scapula and ribs are solid enough to do so – but to keep in mind another 3-6 months for the ribs to be in pain and another 6 months to a year for the scapula to cease the pain. More later about Insurance, work, and anything new and exciting…..thanks you all for your love, prayers, and support.”

By the way, late Friday OT swooped into Caren’s room to start ROM (range of motion) on her R arm/shoulder coupled with relentless pain and trouble taking a deep breath. She is determined though.

(we would later learn her scapula was still shattered and she had flail chest with no healing, and therapy actually made her injuries worse).

Saturday afternoon is fill with OT exercises.  Just try telling the Universe how badly you want to go home.

Your desires will be abundantly fulfilled!  Caren now has OT, PT, and ST – and, we’re not talking vegetable soup!

*shaking pom-poms and cheering, “You can do it, Caren!”*

March 2, 2014

This morning I had the delight to reconnect with Judy Grimes, a ‘retired’ Unity minister and our guest speaker at UGGR. Today, Judy’s lesson gave me a different perspective of ‘waiting.’ I believe it is the same idea Rev. Jim shared with us on ‘pauses’.

As we encourage Caren on her healing journey, we are all frustrated at times during the times of waiting, during the times of seeming inactivity, during the days of unscheduled therapies, when it appears that nothing is being accomplished. While logically we acknowledge that sleep and rest are vital to Caren’s well-being, filling in the blank times with meaningful explanations seems somewhat trivial.

Our ‘aha’ moment comes when we see the beauty of the space between, that pause before the next step, the threshold to greater awareness and accomplishment. Judy calls this space ‘liminality.’ It is not meant to be a time of anxiety.

“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”

In ‘Grace for the Journey’, by Beverly and George Thompson, we are invited to ” to see transitional times as an opportunity to develop deeper spiritual awareness of God’s call on [our] life—a call that opens up fresh potential even as it calls us to consider what familiar things may need to change.”

Thank you for your continued love and support, for your affirmative prayers as Caren explores these transitional changes. Thank you for your love and prayers, for that extra measure of grace that manifests as peace and harmony in Caren’s heart, in the hearts of all of us, as we evolve through this concept of liminality – “betwixt and between.”

Jehovah El Emeth

March 2, 2014

Caren has had only two (2) OT appointments – one with range of motion. While waiting approval from the doctor for OT, Caren had started working on her R arm on her own initiative, moving it. With extremely great effort (you can see the pain on her face), she raised her arm today by grasping the fingers of her R hand with her L hand, using her L hand to uplift the R. So far she hasn’t been able to lift the R arm on her own or hold it up at all without screaming out in pain. It is still weak. Baby steps is progress! Here is what she showed me! Wowza!

March 6, 2014

Prayers for Caren: Infection – probably a UTI – awaiting results. Seems like some CNA’s need a refresher course on peri-care. So far we have avoided pneumonia, colds, flu, etc. As a family, we stay away if ill, or wear a mask if questionable. I’d hate to think that someone else’s negligence could present a set-back for Caren. Also, when just becoming a little more mobile, and having to trot to the potty every 20 minutes – not fun. Especially when the nurses are not answering the call light and she ends up soiling herself. Sighs. Gotta pray this girl home, 

Urinary Tract Infections may be particularly dangerous because they can lead to bacteremia − bacteria in the blood stream − and may result in transferring the patient to a hospital temporarily. 

“Unhygienic Practices. Most of the time, UTI reflects the hygiene of the person [doing the peri-care; ie, CNA’s].  . . .  Many women [aides]  fail to understand the proper way to clean the perineum. The correct way should be from the urinary meatus/ vagina down to the anus, and not the other way around. The reason why it should not be the reverse is because the causative agent for most cases of UTI, E. coli, is found in the intestines including the anus. With direct transfer of these bacteria from the anus to the urinary meatus, UTI is most likely to happen.”   

As personable and capable as these CNA’s wish to be, I pray that someone’s negligence hasn’t caused Caren undue trouble.

March 10, 2014

UTI confirmed.  As Caren fights this infection, she suffers a setback. All pain is worse than before and now she has the pain of this UTI on top of everything. It feels, in a way, like we are starting over and all previous progress seems lost. The headaches she has been having have also increased in duration and length. She is struggling and it breaks my heart.

March 11, 2014

Caren is dealing with a setback.  Right now, it takes all her energy as her brain injury goes through the process of healing.  To experience a raging UTI – has caused a major setback for Caren.  Her speech is more slurred, her responses slower, and it takes her longer to process thoughts.  She is experiencing more loss of balance since contracting the UTI, meaning she is more unsteady.  The body has not yet built up reserves, so having an infection along with a concussion means that she tires more easily and sleeps even more.

‘Brain fog’ explains Caren’s increased difficulties the last few days.

Prayers appreciated.

The most difficult scars are the ones we cannot see. ~ Unknown

March 12, 2014

I have been trying to understand the changes Caren is displaying with her thinking process. Her communication is off and she is having trouble understanding what she sees on paper. We are not understanding why none of this is being addressed by her providers. A mother knows when her child is different. I keep mentioning my concern and am told to just give it time. Rick and I want educated on how to help her, not just sit and wait it out.

“Brain Injury is a puzzle. All the pieces are there, but they are in the wrong order.”

I found this article that was helpful to me and I wanted to share it

Lost & Found: What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

Barbara J. Webster, Lash & Associates

I need a lot more rest than I used to. I’m not being lazy. I get physical fatigue as well as a “brain fatigue.” It is very difficult and tiring for my brain to think, process, and organize. Fatigue makes it even harder to think.

My stamina fluctuates, even though I may look good or “all better” on the outside. Cognition is a fragile function for a brain injury survivor. Some days are better than others. Pushing too hard usually leads to setbacks, sometimes to illness.

Brain injury rehabilitation takes a very long time; it is usually measured in years. It continues long after formal rehabilitation has ended. Please resist expecting me to be who I was, even though I look better.

I am not being difficult if I resist social situationsCrowds, confusion, and loud sounds quickly overload my brain, it doesn’t filter sounds as well as it used to. Limiting my exposure is a coping strategy, not a behavioral problem.

If there is more than one person talking, I may seem uninterested in the conversationThat is because I have trouble following all the different “lines” of discussion. It is exhausting to keep trying to piece it all together. I’m not dumb or rude; my brain is getting overloaded!

If we are talking and I tell you that I need to stop, I need to stop NOW! And it is not because I’m avoiding the subject, it’s just that I need time to process our discussion and “take a break” from all the thinking. Later I will be able to rejoin the conversation and really be present for the subject and for you.

Try to notice the circumstances if a behavior problem arises. “Behavior problems” are often an indication of my inability to cope with a specific situation and not a mental health issue. I may be frustrated, in pain, overtired or there may be too much confusion or noise for my brain to filter.

Patience is the best gift you can give me. It allows me to work deliberately and at my own pace, allowing me to rebuild pathways in my brain. Rushing and multi-tasking inhibit cognition.

Please listen to me with patience. Try not to interrupt. Allow me to find my words and follow my thoughts. It will help me rebuild my language skills.

Please have patience with my memoryKnow that not remembering does not mean that I don’t care.

Please don’t be condescending or talk to me like I am a child. I’m not stupid, my brain is injured and it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Try to think of me as if my brain were in a cast.

If I seem “rigid,” needing to do tasks the same way all the time; it is because I am retraining my brain. It’s like learning main roads before you can learn the shortcuts. Repeating tasks in the same sequence is a rehabilitation strategy.

If I seem “stuck,” my brain may be stuck in the processing of information. Coaching me, suggesting other options or asking what you can do to help may help me figure it out. Taking over and doing it for me will not be constructive and it will make me feel inadequate. (It may also be an indication that I need to take a break.)

You may not be able to help me do something if helping requires me to frequently interrupt what I am doing to give you directives. I work best on my own, one step at a time and at my own pace.

If I repeat actions, like checking to see if the doors are locked or the stove is turned off, it may seem like I have OCD — obsessive-compulsive disorder — but I may not. It may be that I am having trouble registering what I am doing in my brain. Repetitions enhance memory. (It can also be a cue that I need to stop and rest.)

If I seem sensitive, it could be emotional lability as a result of the injury or it may be a reflection of the extraordinary effort it takes to do things now. Tasks that used to feel “automatic” and take minimal effort, now take much longer, require the implementation of numerous strategies and are huge accomplishments for me.

We need cheerleaders now, as we start over, just like children do when they are growing up. Please help me and encourage all efforts. Please don’t be negative or critical. I am doing the best I can.

Don’t confuse Hope for Denial. We are learning more and more about the amazing brain and there are remarkable stories about healing in the news every day. No one can know for certain what our potential is. We need Hope to be able to employ the many, many coping mechanisms, accommodations and strategies needed to navigate our new lives. Everything single thing in our lives is extraordinarily difficult for us now. It would be easy to give up without Hope.

Created with the assistance of the “Amazing” Brain Injury Survivor Support Group of Framingham, MA.”

March 13, 2014

Caren, remember:  People who care don’t matter, and people who matter don’t care. 

You are amazing, and I am in awe of all that you accomplish – through the fear and through the pain.

“Keep on keeping on!”

March 16, 2014

(not a pic of Caren)

Caren, sorry you don’t feel well today.

Remember, you are stronger than you think.  You are not alone.  Sending you love and hugs!

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Caren has temporarily fallen into the slough of despond, that bog of despair when illness and circumstances appear greater than one’s faith to overcome.  One must be pulled forth from the slough of despond, and we can reach out to Caren with prayers, love, and word/s of encouragement to pull her out of the slough.

She is concerned about coming home with how she feels, yet has voiced concern of dying if she stays in rehab and really wants to come home at the same time. They are talking about perhaps moving her to a nursing home to recover. This is not an option for Caren or our family.

Thank you all for your continued support.

March 17, 2014

All my daughter wants at this point is to not have pain. She wants to be heard. She wants to have a voice in what is happening to her and yet she is realizing more and more each day how much she is not able to do on her own anymore. She really tries to be strong and positive for me, for her kids, for Rick, for herself. She is struggling. This is what she wants you all to know:

I fear every night will be my last and that somehow I won’t wake up – somehow my second chance was a mistake. I don’t fear death. I fear losing the only battle I never new I was going to have to fight and escaped its loss. I fight against the fear and tell myself that it is ego talking and that weak part of me that I never let anyone see because that part of me isn’t worth giving attention to….that part that tries to pull me into the depths of such deep sadness and lack of hope that now my fear is that the concussion might win and leave me in a puzzle where I get to see and feel all the pieces, but don’t get to put things back together. I cry constantly, I feel week in body and spirit, Some days are a fight just to exist.

Here’s the deal. I choose life. I always have!! There is too much I have earned and created to give up on. I am damn near fighting for it as each moment passes – and I feel so alone. I know I am not and my family and this blog helps a lot, but sometimes the strength to keep going seems invisible when you look around for it .I focus every day on the potential and gloriousness of what was….. and what can be after I have overcome all the fears. I struggle with this…the overcoming part, where I didn’t before. I feel I have always had the strength to accomplish things, to push the boundaries and succeed and get anything I put my efforts to. I have always felt successful…..until now. Now….I feel….invisible.

I won’t give up. I am just trying to get rid of the physical pain in the body and find where I went in the midst of it all. I know I am here….and yet it seems like I’m missing,

Thank you for your belief in me and your encouraging words. Some days, it seems, they are all that get me through.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – hail to the Irish whose fighting spirit lives on a bit in all of us.

March 18, 2014

FROM CAREN:  (Comment to Sue)   .  .  .  . I see my children’s faces and I wonder how I survive this…..and I know it’s for the love of each and every one of them. because I have more work to do with them. I have a life with a man that I love with such intensity, and he needs me too.. It’s because I love so much that there is hardly time to grieve. Grieve we must though, grieve we must. Doesn’t this give us the strength to release it and move on – or we just move on despite of it all?
6:54 pm

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Hang in there, darlin’!   Lots of love and prayers your way.

Just because one cries does not mean they are depressed, and require continually higher dosages of meds.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~ Washington Irving

March 19, 2014

Those who love much and love deeply, grieve much and grieve deeply.  Tears are healing,   

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops… at all.”  ~Emily Dickinson

March 21, 2014

Caren is home!   

I have a thought to share, and it totally erased from the board.  This is to be continued, have errands to run. 

What a glorious journey – just beginning.

March 22, 2014

FROM CAREN:

NEVER GIVE UP HOPE….Today is the first day of Spring and the National Day of Happiness. I am laying in a hospital bed looking at all the things and feeling all the things around me. I am Hope…..TODAY IS THAT NEWS….NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!!!!

I want to share one of the most important things in my entire life with all of you today…..please watch this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88fh-gFstWg

I will keep up updates….your prayers, support, and love continue to envelop my heart mind soul and healing experience…….you have all helped made me a being filled with Hope

March 25, 2014

Here is a little peek into the space Caren has entered for continued healing.  This is her bedroom.  It is a space of beauty.  It is a space of comfort.  It is a space created by love and filled with love.  This bedroom

has become her sanctuary, her place of safety.  She has a circle to receive visitors and family who want to sit a spell.  Caren has an amazing bed in which to rest and recuperate.  

This is but one space where Hope resides.   Hope  pours forth from our hearts, and is reflected in this sacred space called her room. Here Caren can thrive – surrounded by beauty.

March 27, 2014

Today Caren sleeps.  Yesterday her medication schedule was totally off-kilter.  She refused her pain medication in order to stay clear-headed and supportive, supportive of her kids.

When kids are in crisis, parents want to be there to support them.  Little do the kids realize the peril they often cause by their choices.  The teenagers are too embroiled in their own self-created dramas and lack of foresight to see the damage they do to themselves and to others.  God help these kids to make better choices, before they do irreparable harm.

So, Caren was there when Mel came over to the house, when Rick came home, “when the fit hits the shan.”  With no reserves, she is exhausted today, playing catch-up, as we again 
re-establish a schedule that works successfully for her health and well-being.

Your continued love and prayers, your continued support and kind words are greatly appreciated.

Hope springs eternal, through all the morass.

March 29, 2014

Yesterday, Caren and Rick had to admit one of their children to residential care. It was a grief-stricken day for all the parents, to realize that this child was beyond their help, and needed professional intervention.  One thing, though, none of our children are ever beyond our love.  Caren had a very emotional day, and the concussion only exacerbated the tears.

I observed, I consoled, I supported – and Lord, I prayed.  But, there were no tears.  It is not that I am unfeeling, nor is it that I didn’t care.  I just felt all cried out – years of cried out.  This is my second time around, raising kids.  My kids went through some rough times. At one point I held my son’s wrist together while my husband summoned the ambulance.  I sobbed, I wept, I beat my chest in anguish.  So, I understand the sorrow.  Also, I am not unaware of the healing property of tears. Maybe I’m just prolactin, andrenocorticotropic, and leucine enkephalin challenged.  LOL  Perhaps I understand that one day the child will no longer hate the parents. The child will come to understand the loving sacrifices made this week.

One day.  Right now, teenagers are seeking self-gratification in a hurry.  It’s the way the brain is wired, so the Doc explained.  Many of our teens have the faulty notion of entitlement. We’ll not debate this.  When raising my kids, the first time around, an old preacher once told me to cry in my pillow at night, wring it out in the morning, and go with God.  Joy comes in the morning.  
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Caren has had another med change.  As she weans herself from the narcotics, there have been subtle trepidations, and challenges. Nonetheless, Caren has been triumphant. She has now discontinued the Tylenol with Codeine, and replaced it with 800 Ibuprofen – for breakthrough pain.  Right now she is taking Valium for rib spasms, and Oxycontin for pain, but only twice a day.  From no pulse at scene, to learning to walk again/etc. – what a miraculous journey, what a miraculous young woman!

Thank you, God!

And, thank you prayer partners for your loving support and prayerful watch with us.

PS  *yawns*  How exhausting!  A nap would be lovely indeed, 🙂

April 3, 2014

While visiting with Caren’s doctor Monday, I had a wee ‘Aha!’ moment.  It was a simple statement she’d made when Caren was explaining her anxiety while riding in the van.

All anxiety that challenges Caren is not only concussion/TBI related – that anxiety is also a product of PTSD.

Here I’ve been focusing on life/death issues, wounds healing, emotions healing, and an acute concussion.

Monday I was handed another piece of the puzzle – PTSD.  But, of course!

Thank you, Maker of the Universe, the One who causes the moon to reflect the sun – thank you for knowing all the pieces to the puzzle, how they are arranged, how they work together.  Thank you for orchestrating Caren’s healing, and sharing with us the pieces to her puzzle – in the divine order in which we can understand.

I AM grateful!

April 5, 2014

Let me say that an acute concussion has the potential to cause the patient to say things not usually spoken in polite society.  Stress, rushing, and hurrying the patient may induce this strange phenomenon.

Monday, Caren had a doctor’s appointment that we rushed to make on time.  Her body was awake, but the mind was not.  Caren was very stressed riding in the van, in traffic.  The things she said!

I laughed so hard I could hardly drive.  Nich laughed all the way to school, into the school, and was chuckling still after school.

With all that laughter, Caren ought to be pretty healthy by now!

At least, that is our goal.

Thank you all for your loving support.  We cherish each and every one of you.

” There are so many voices of a brain injury: the voice/feelings of grief, despair, loss, regret, fear; the voices/feelings of comfort, support, love; voices/feelings of hope, peace, love – and anger.  Anger is, perhaps, the most confusing of all.  A post concussive individual can become temporarily stuck on any of these experiences, and be unable to control the voice/feeling of those emotions as they seem overwhelming.

Fortunately, eventually, the feelings calm, and the emotions are again manageable.

It is then when TBI (the traumatic brain injury) can once again gain inspiration from the experience.

Together BInspired!”

April 10, 2014

Spring is one of my favorite times of year.  Flowers are struggling toward the light, to share with us their glory.  This past Sunday the kids and I visited Meijer Gardens to see the butterflies.  How extraordinarily exquisite!

Quite ‘by accident’ I recently received a copy of the July 02, 2013 Daily Word. “Among God’s creatures, the butterfly is one of the most stunningly beautiful! Its gentle flight, colorful wings, and amazing migratory patterns are traits that make the butterfly a masterpiece of the natural world.   .  .  .  For instance, the majestic monarch butterfly can travel 3000 miles . . . by a brain the size of a pinhead.  Or consider the monarch’s metamorphosis.  After the caterpillar builds a chrysalis around itself, it releases a chemical that turns its insides to mush — no perceptible parts.  Somehow from this emerges the brain, internal parts, head, legs, and wings of a butterfly.   . . .  a miracle!”

As I ponder these things, I am constantly amazed at the miracle that resurrected Caren from that horrific auto accident.  I stand amazed and grateful that Austin was unscathed. I am daily observant of the miracles of love and life manifested all around us.  I stand aside and watch Caren’s metamorphosis.  In my heart of hearts I fully believe that Caren will enjoy a full recovery,  absolutely healthy and well, more than fully restored.  There is no room for other than the miraculous.

We stand amazed, God, at the awesome creation You allow us to enjoy.  From distant galaxies to beautiful butterflies, You have given us a world that speaks loudly of Your love for us.  Thank you, God, for creation.

April 12, 2014

Friday night we all were watching Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. It broke to a commercial about driving while texting.  We were all kinda visiting, and not paying too much attention.  When we looked up, a young woman, the driver who was texting, ran a stop sign. The crash was loud, horrific, catastrophic, and the car was mangled. The occupants, in context of the commercial, died.  Caren was traumatized.

It wasn’t the memory of the crash.  She still has no memory of it.  It was the memory of the sound.  She teared up immediately.  The sound of the crash pushed her into an upset, and it was soon after that she headed upstairs to bed.  I was her spotter.  The impact (pun intended) of the commercial left her so weak, she could barely make the journey upstairs.   A couple of times I thought she was falling.

PTSD – It is not only memories of incidents.  Sounds, smells, and feelings can also trigger PTSD.

Most Americans will be involved in a motor vehicle accident in their lifetime, and one quarter of the population will be involved in accidents that result in serious injuries.1 Annually, more than 3.5 million persons in the United States are injured in a motor vehicle accident, and nearly 42,000 die as a result of their injuries.2

Vehicular accidents sometimes lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms.39 Traffic accidents have become the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the Vietnam war.10 It is estimated that 9 percent of survivors of serious accidents develop significant post-traumatic stress symptoms and that many other survivors have PTSD-like reactions.

Thank you, prayer partners.  This is but another hurdle to jump victoriously.  Together, we will believe for Caren that full health is restored – body, mind, and spirit.

April 22, 2014

Well, Caren has seen her PCP.  Dr. Ann is amazing!  She told Caren we’re in this for the long haul, probably two years.  

Also, Dr. Ann expressed to Caren the importance of resting, body and mind/brain.  When the brain is exhausted, concussion symptoms are worsened.  When the brain is tired, the signals are ‘weakened’ or confused making signals to the body erratic – body temperature difficult to control, emotions more out-of-control (crying, laughing, extreme fluctuations, etc.), walking becomes more difficult, headaches more frequent, forgetfulness increases, and dizziness more prevalent.  Cognitively, Caren is slow to process conversations, and sometimes has a challenge understanding.

Caren expressed concern to Dr. Ann that she is being accused of faking her injuries, especially her brain injury.  Dr. Ann kinda’ laughed, and told Caren that those judgmental people really aren’t important in her life, to “invite them over on one of your bad days.”  She explained that people are just ignorant, and only go by outward experience. Dr. Ann also explained that there is documented medical proof of her TBI, not to worry, and to be easy with herself.  She explained that Caren’s physical injuries are healing nicely. Brains, on the other hand, are unique and each brain injury is different.  The key is time, and rest.  

We are excited that Disability Advocates have been here to the house, Caren has a Case Manager, insurance is slow but sure, AND we are excited for Caren to start therapies.

Thank you, each and every one of you, for your love, support and prayers.

April 30, 2014

Answer To Requests : Whether this is your first time here, or you are here every day – thank you for coming. After much family discussion and prayerful consideration we are opening up another vulnerable area of our family life……to you…. our real life and online friends, family, supporters and those who have chosen to follow the recovery process of Caren.

Many of you have asked directly, or wondered how you can help. The “Donations” button in the top bar of this site and has just been added to Caren’s page, or the link that led you to this site – will spell out the allocation of those donations, and how they will be applied, and how you can help more directly, quickly, and confidentially. We will change the needs in that bar as her needs are attained and goals are reached. This is for sure a labor of love and we appreciate all you can do..

We are in the process of taking steps to make it possible to have a dedicated bank account set up just for such donations. We will keep you informed, here on this site when that becomes available for those that choose to use a Debit/Credit card. We are also going this route so we can track and have accountability with receipts attached for each donation to show how it was utilized. In the meantime, we have also listed an address to send personal or business checks or guaranteed funds to (such as a cashier’s check from the bank) in the Donation area above. Please do not send money orders.

We will also continue to keep you informed of the progress and how your donations assisted Caren in this journey to recovery.

If you are unable to send a Donation. You are valued no less. Your presence here, your prayers, comments, your support, are just as valuable and just as impactful. We thank you for staying with us through all of this and hope we can inspire others through opening our hearts and experiences to you, and in our worldly community, as well. Please pass this link on to others you know. Perhaps they themselves, or someone they know may be helped or touched by the posts within these pages. 

You can also use the same address listed under the “DONATION” bar to send cards. letters, or positive comments to Caren. These will be given to her directly.

Again, thank you, and remember HOPE is Helping One Person Excel.

May 1, 2014

Just a reminder of what the van looked like after the wreck.  This is just a couple of pictures of the front of the van.  The third picture is where Caren was ejected out the passenger side window from when her seatbelt failed.  She again, was the driver.  Her brave little Austin, 5,  escaped with no injuries.

She has come a long way since this day. Please continue your support and prayers, as we head into the next turn of this journey through her recovery. 

Thank you for your positive energy, your continued prayers, words of encouragement, and support.  We couldn’t do this without all of you.  

This site is to keep you informed and is our labor of love and a way to cope through it all.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” – Richard Bach

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” – T.S. Eliot 

May 2, 2014

Today Caren and I had a coupla’ errands to run, which also included picking up the boys from school.  I thought she was very brave, because I know riding in the car still makes her very anxious.  She was doing pretty good, until a crazy driver pulled out in front of me, and I glanced over to check on Caren after I quickly avoided a disaster.

This pic reminded me of yesterday.  Yep, that’s a pretty accurate depiction of me driving with Caren , lol

Have a great day, and thank you for being on our team.  Your love and support are greatly appreciated.

HUGS!

5/9/2014

As a caregiver, today I am sad and tired.  It feels like the kind of day to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head.  Rick brought me home a bag of Lindt chocolate balls in appreciation for what I am doing as a caregiver.  Today is the day I feel like taking that bag of chocolate under the covers with me.  Tears feel seconds away.  Instead, I’ll wash my face, go pick up the boys, and look for something fun for us to do – but only if it doesn’t involve money  *sighs*  – hating being broke with no remuneration and nothing hopeful from the insurance company.  Today I’ll have to keep reading encouraging and inspiring words – or maybe lie down and take a nap.

Remembering that we are not alone in this journey.  “Out there”  just beyond our vision and knowing are prayer partners supporting us.  Thank you!

May 12, 2014

I laughed so hard!  The ‘favorite’ foods I used to cook for Caren she no longer likes. Many food choices are different.  Now, here is a real conundrum: at this stage in the TBI Caren doesn’t like to be given too many ‘choices’; yet, since her tastes have changed and her likes are different, I have to ask her, or give her choices, so I know what to do.  Go figure, LOL

From Facebook:

TBI Hope & Inspiration

There seem to be some Universal Truths to life after a brain injury.

While no two brain injuries are alike, common to many of us are new friends like memory challenges, mental exhaustion, a dash of occasional vertigo and perhaps a pinch of aphasia.

But there have been some odd and completely unexpected twists on this new road I now travel as a traumatic brain injury survivor.

Some “brain injury quirks” have surfaced over the last three years that defy logic.

“How so?” you might just be wondering.

Well, since my brain injury, I have developed a new love for seafood. Before my TBI, seafood and I were not even casual acquaintances. This one irks me a bit as I feel like I missed out on half a century of crab. I am pleased to report however that I am indeed making up for lost time.

How about the whole temperature thing? Mentioned here before and most likely to be mentioned again, since my TBI, I have lost close to 100% of my ability to feel cold. It’s freakish. Early on, I “felt” cold as the color white. These days, it feels like a dull ache. But the feeling of being cold? Gone since 2010. I don’t miss it as I never really was fond of the cold.

And my new ability to time travel is still a novelty. Linear time has no more meaning to me. Sarah and I flew home from Florida to New Hampshire just yesterday. Our first leg of the trip, a two hour flight to Philadelphia “felt” like 15 minutes. The second leg of the tip, an hour to the non-injured, was only a 5 minute flight inside this damaged brain.

I actually said to Sarah that I missed the feeling of being on a plane for a long time. Go figure.

So, this is not a monologue today. How about you?

Do you have any new TBI quirks that you’d like to share?

Peace to all trying to understand life after a brain injury,

David

May 14, 2014

Caren, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”   From first steps, to standing alone – You can do it!  Keep the faith, keep hopeful – you have the potential to ‘walk on water.’  I heard this song this morning by Britt Nicole, and thought of you:  

I love you!  I’m proud of you and your progresses!  You inspire me.

(Sidenote To ‘walk on water’ interpretation to consider:  “Walking upon the water is a symbol of making progress against a tide of astral desires and passions. . . . the astral plane in which are errors and illusions, – – the inverted or distorted reflections of truths.  In essence, limited or ineffective thinking.  (Gaskell)

May 16, 2014

[While I realize that there comes a point when a person no longer refers to their injury as a concussion, I found the following site helpful and full of information about managing syptoms of traumatic brain injuries.]

From: Healyourconcussion.comConcussions and Rest

May 17, 2014

Caren, believe that you can do anything – your mind to God mind.  Believe how wonderful you are.  “Keep on keeping on!”

For more than 25 years your motto has been, “Onward and Upward” — even before it became popular, 🙂

Be encouraged, and keep up the good work!

Hope you feel much better.

May 24, 2014

Nich and I are back from his class trip to D.C.  Austin recovers from pneumonia, Kane has bronchitis, Caren has something wrong with her lungs.   Doctors are alarmed.  At first they were treating broken/hurting teeth from the wreck, but they noticed that BOTH lungs are ‘patchy’.  So far only the right side, the side of impact, was affected.  Antibiotics were changed.  Back to doctor’s next week.  TV is off, no internet or home phone. Mortgage is now past due. Caren truly is not alone in this battle.  We are all affected.

Insurance still has not paid for anything.

Thank thank you for the continued outpouring of loving prayers!

May 28, 2014

Rough day today.  We are all exhausted.

Doctors still concerned about lungs, and fractured tooth. Third round of antibiotics. Going on levoquin now. Yet more pain for Caren.  CAT scan of lungs after this round of antibiotics.  Three hours of therapy today.   No funds for expensive meds, or gas for yet more appointments. .

Only by the love and compassion of a donation today can we pick up antibiotic tomorrow, and put gas  in the van.  We are ever so grateful.        

Thank you dear angel of a friend for being an integral part of our miracle. Tears of gratitude stain my cheeks.   I am grateful for my pbone so we can all stay in touch. 

Thank you, friends, for your continued prayers and gifts.  Where would we be without each of you?

God bless!

May 30, 2014

Today was, for caren hideous — hope blooms eternal even in adversity — caren (beloved, and magic) nowell (birth, or life) — my beautiful flower

The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful flower of all.

May 31, 2014

I want to sincerely thank all of you for your prayers, wishes, positive vibes, and support through my family’s difficult situation.  It really means a lot to me knowing that I have all of you here when I need a virtual shoulder to lean or cry on.  I feel your hugs and love. From our heart to your heart, please know how dearly you are loved and appreciated.

Happy June first!  We have a whole month of opportunity available to us!

June 2, 2014

Hello Folks,

The Rustic Resort is hosting a Fundraiser. “We have a very dear friend, Caren Robinson, who was in a very bad car accident January 4, 2014.” See more information about this Sponsored Event Below.

Caren was in the hospital for nearly 4 months. She has 6 kids ranging from 5-18 and is now recovering from her injuries at home and has no income coming in as she is on FMLA leave from her Job. Caren and her family are needing some help in meeting their needs and providing for things that insurance will not cover. She lives in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. 

http://www.rusticresort.net/FundRaiser.html

www.facebook.com/rusticresortnet

Call
 the Resort for more information to participate in this event.

A portion of the reservations for June 27, 28, 29 will be given to the Robinson family. This is a family friendly event. 

On June 28th the Resort is having a fish fry – all you can eat for $10/person. The fish fry will be from 6pm-9pm. The fish fry will have
fish, hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, various salads, various desserts, soft drinks, tea and coffee. There will be a bonfire after the fish fry. All proceeds from the Fish Fry will go to the Family.

There will be a bounce house, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle too. The Resort is hoping for a live band, but not sure yet. They are getting a bounce house for the kids; they have a basket hoop, volleyball, horseshoes, fishing, canoes and kayaks. 

They are hoping to get a PSA (Public Service Announcement) radio spot/tv spot. They are going to go to businesses and ask for donations and door prizes. Once they get the raffle tickets they will send us some so you can help in that way if you choose, as well. They will be a $1/each. 

***************************************************************************

If you would like to make a direct donation to the family and are unable to attend this Fundraising event, or would like to know more about what the Fundraiser is sponsored for…

Please check out the fundraising link at the top of the page here or to get more detailed donation information – the Fundraiser Link below.

FUNDRAISER LINK: http://gfwd.at/1iWYVib

If you would like to host your own Event on behalf of the family, please contact the Family with details, before doing so, so they can confirm the legitimacy of the event with anyone who has questions.

Thank you and please feel free to Copy this message and send on to everyone you know!

June 6, 2014

“Today is a new day. Don’t let your history interfere with your destiny! Let today be the day you stop being a victim of your circumstances and start taking action towards the life you want. You have the power and the time to shape your life. Break free from the poisonous victim mentality and embrace the truth of your greatness. You were not meant for a mundane or mediocre life!” 
― Steve Maraboli

Excerpts from “How to stop worrying and start living” by Dale Carnegie

 “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” Thomas Carlyle

 • Christ’s prayer: Give us this day our daily bread.

 • Have no anxiety for tomorrow. 

• Live in day-tight compartments.  

Good thinking deals with causes and effects and leads to logical, constructive planning; bad thinking frequently leads to tension and nervous breakdowns.  I want you think of your life as an hourglass. You know there are thousands of grains of sand in the top of hourglass; and they will pass slowly and evenly through the narrow neck in the middle. Nothing you or I could do would make more than one grain of sand pass through this narrow neck without impairing hourglass. You and I and everyone else are like this hourglass. When we start in the morning, there are hundreds of tasks which we feel that we must accomplish that day, but if we do not take them one at a time and let them pass through the day slowly and evenly, as do the grains of sand passing through the narrow neck of hourglass, then we are bound to break our own physical and mental structure.  

“Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means.” Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Every day is a new life to a wise man. 

June 7, 2014

Rough patches? Get Up!

June 9, 2014

Wow!  Today I feel so much better.  I have been SO sick all weekend.  I am blessed to feel human again.  Now, I can help Caren.

Today I sit at the desk to take care of yet more “insurance business.”  Yet another adjuster, yet more emails, yet more scanning – it seems endless.  When will it become open and billable. So, before I begin, I was seeking inspiration, something to lift my spirits.

From Monday’s Daily Word:

Envision

AS I BELIEVE, I GRATEFULLY RECEIVE.

The power of imagination is an amazing gift from God. With faith, I visualize what I want to manifest in my life. Sending forth a powerful affirmative prayer, I picture in detail what I seek to create. My vision is specific, broad-reaching, and impactful.

By seeing the result first in mind, I generate the feelings that accompany success. I may feel a sense of pride, relief, or joy as I envision a favorable outcome. I am grateful for what I know will be achieved. I internalize that sensation, and whenever I imagine my goal, the positive feelings return.

When my good comes to fruition, I welcome it with appreciation and joy. As I believe, I gratefully receive.

Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.—Mark 11:24

June 10, 2014

The Dragonfly of HOPE.

Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little community of water bugs called nymphs. They lived a simple life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions. Once in a while, sadness would come to the little community when one of their fellow nymphs would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened that their friend was dead, gone forever. One day, a little water nymph felt an irresistible urge to climb up a stem. However, she was determined that she would not leave forever. She would come back and tell her friends what she had found at the top – on the other side of the sparkling water. When she reached the top of the stem and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, she was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that she decided she must take a nap. As she slept, her body changed and when she awoke, she had turned into a beautiful yellow dragonfly with broad, transparent wings and a slender body designed for flying. So, fly she did! And, as she soared she saw the beauty of a whole new world. To her, this was a far superior way of life to what she had known before. Then, she remembered her nymph friends and how they must be thinking by now that she was dead. She wanted to go back to tell them, and explain to them that she was now more alive than she had ever been before! Her life had been fulfilled rather than ended! But, her new body would not go down into the water. She could not get back to tell her friends the good news. Then, she understood that the time would come, when they too, would know what she now knew. So, she raised her wings & flew off into her joyous new life!    (copied)

June 11, 2014

 Bah! Humbug!  So there!

I’ve been censored and skewered on a spit and roasted over the hot coals of hell fire and damnation.

Now, let the powers-that-be put that in their peace pipe and smoke it.

IMHO

June 15, 2014

What is dragging you down?

Our newest challenge in this TBI journey – treating fractured teeth.  With life threatening injuries being treated, teeth fractured during Caren’s impact were missed.

Another surprise: finding a report saying that Caren had a flailing chest.  As Gomer would say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

June 18, 2014

Regarding the auto accident of 01/04/2014:

It is 1:50 am, before the new day of Wednesday, 01/18.  Austin insists a tall black man stopped and helped him at the site of the wreck, before anyone else could arrive.  No one can find any evidence of this ‘person’.    This sighting takes nothing away from the heroic gestures of Mr. L.  But, I gotta wonder.

. . . . I’m wondering if Austin saw an angel.  We’ve spoken of the miraculous events of that fateful day.  We are eternally grateful for our “human angels” who stepped forward to help.

Austin was truly, unequivocally, and miraculously protected during that whole horrific ordeal.  I wonder – did Austin see his guardian angel?

June 20, 2014

Legal business first thing Friday morning.

June 23, 2014

Truly, thanks to all of you for continued prayers.  We trust the legal issues of Friday will be quickly resolved, with Caren’s best insterests fulfilled, with no harm to anyone.

Currently, I am creating a story board for the fundraiser in Benzonia, Michigan, this Saturday, June 28.

Please continue prayers and affirmations that the fundraiser is a huge success.  Angel has lovingly prepared this special shindig, and we are affirming a win/win event.  It will be fun for all, and we are trusting that our mortgage will again be current.  Thank you, Angel, for all your hard work.

Caren continues with therapy.  Your prayers continue to give her stamina for her 3-4 hour sessions of therapy twice a week.

When we feel exhausted or discouraged, knowing we have prayer partners refreshes us and renews our hope.

From our heart to your heart/s,  God bless you all, and thank you so very much!

June 26, 2014

June 28, 2014

Here is this dear lily – beaten, stem broken nearly in two, and it buds.  Not only does it bud, it bursts forth in glorious, triumphant flower.

Several times I almost removed the broken stem; however, I just didn’t have the heart for one more injury.

I waited, watched, and hoped for the best.

Yesterday this dear lily had a bud on its broken stem, and today it shines in glorious full bloom.

Regardless of the circumstances, always maintain hope and a sweet attitude.  Things will get better.  Oh, they may not manifest in the ways we’d like, or in the ways things used to be.
It may just be different  —  but it will be better.

June 30, 2014

TBI – how frustrating – – more so for Caren than us.

It feels like each day is “Hurry up!”  All the while our days move by quickly – – in slow motion.
Waiting for excited kids, to be still; waiting for responses from insurance, while they demand more information, NOW; waiting for brains to process, while we have to hurry.

In all my years of experiences, hardly anything has prepared me for this TBI journey. 

Oh! Wait! Maybe this is where faith comes in.  Let’s hurry up and believe, while the Universe takes its own sweet time to manifest at just the right moment.

*Sighs!*  Yep, it’s okay to be frustrated, angry, anxious, expectant – – but put on a smiley face.  

*Bigger sigh!*

July 2, 1014

BRAIN INJURY POEM 2: DON’T TAKE AWAY MY HOPE

Things may be bad sometimes and to some may seem hopeless, please just let me accept my life in reality and love my life anyway.
But I am pleading with you not to steal what keeps me going…Hope.

There are those times that I am quite aware of how bad things are,
those temporary moments when I can not see through my streaming tears.
But I am begging you to let me hold on to what I know I need…Hope.

Please do not ever say you could not stand to live the life that I have,
you could not possibly know unless my life were the life you were living.
I am asking you to let me have what I need most for the moment…Hope.

Do not make false promises or paint false dreams, let me have my own dreams.
Please do not as a professional, ever say there are no more answers or help.
I am pleading with you to allow me the life luxury I need most…Hope.

Always there are more answers, it may be just you without those answers.
When you say discouraging things,it makes it hard to hold on to my hope.
I am telling you that all patients need that one joint component…Hope.

If you have not walked in someone else’s shoes, do not be too quick to judge.
All of us at times face adversity, just some have to live with it all of the time.
We are somehow able to find strength and endurance through our…Hope.

No matter how grave the situation or how serious the medical problem,
remember that miracles and things not quite understood by man do happen.
Do not ever be so cruel and heartless as to take away someone’s…Hope.

Do not ever say we will amount to nothing or get no where in this life.
As long as we are alive, we can share with someone else what we have.
In giving to others the survival tips we have learned we give…Hope.

by: Debbie Wilson, 7-24-96

– See more at: http://tbilaw.com/brain-injury-poems.html#sthash.ZtsM34Hb.dpuf

July 3, 2014

BROKEN DREAMS

Life flies by, we make plans, we chase after dreams and goals.
We think we are indestructible, that nothing will stand in our way,
then is a split second of time, life changes and the future with it.
If you have not had a brain injury, I do not expect you to understand,
the feeling of loss, loneliness, and the insecurity of who I really am.

I have spent years trying to make the best of a bad situation.
There were many hours spent believing everything would be mended,
by smiling, learning, hoping someday my life would magically change.
I was waiting for anything, that gave me back what I knew I had lost.
The only change that will happen now has got to come from within myself.

Reality is, I have had to come to terms with many broken dreams.
I have to depend on others, something I would have never dreamed of.
Time has taught me to let go, the broken dreams have taught me humility.
Now time is spent planning a new future,developing new dreams and goals.
I am never sure if dreams will come true, but hope is a gift that I give myself.

The disappointment is always there just under the surface, of what could have been.
The years have not taken away the wounds, they have just taught me to deal with them.
The internal struggle everyday to do the things that were once so easy makes me sad.
But then I look around me and I know that it could be much worse, and I feel thankful.
I still believe broken dreams can be mended, and I choose to spend my energy there.

I have many broken dreams, but I am learning to replace them with new realistic dreams.
There have been many disappointments, but I am learning to replace them with hope.
No, I will never be the same, but I have learned to be satisfied with who I am now.
I do not have to like the changes fate has made in my life, but I do have to deal with them.
Yes, the broken dreams are still there, but new plans and dreams now keep my mind busy.

Sometimes I wonder if broken dreams were meant to be, to change the course of our life.

by: Debbie Wilson, 8-19-96

– See more at: http://tbilaw.com/brain-injury-poems.html#sthash.ZtsM34Hb.dpuf

July 4, 2014

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.

http://www.caring.com/articles/caregiver-burnout-quiz

http://secondopinion-tv.org/episode/caregiver-burnout

July 7, 2014

Only One Like Me…

July 13, 2014

Caren is home after four months in the hospital.  She is supposed to be resting.  Caren came home on Thursday, the first day of Spring,  The following Monday Mary attempted suicide, and was admitted to the hospital on suicide watch.  She has been on suicide watch since coming home from the hospital.  Caren, who is herself still recovering from life threatening injuries from her car wreck, has been worrying over Mary. Mary is on a much needed antibiotic, and other medications necessary for her well being. Mary is seventeen, which is a minor here in Michigan.

This has been a major blow to our family, who has not yet recovered from the reeling news that Caren was in a head-on collision in January.  One blow after another.  We go to bed with Mary on our minds and hearts.  We wake up wondering if Mary is okay. We are all praying for Mary.

Below is a copy of the Facebook posting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our daughter is still missing. If you see her or have any leads, please let the Grand Rapids Police Detective Unit know about it. You can contact them at 616-456-3403 and ask for the Detective Unit. She is listed as Mary-Elizabeth Robinson.

Please circulate this freely. We need to find her so we know she is safe. She was last at home Monday night, July 07, and left in the middle of the night.

She was last seen getting into a truck with someone that looked like a man at her work this past Wed between 1:40 and 2pm.

She may have cut or dyed her hair in an attempt to change her appearance. We are very concerned for her safety in all aspects. Her younger siblings are also very upset about her being missing. 

July 16, 2014

UPDATE:

Mary-Elizabeth has been FOUND. Thanks to the unrelenting dedication of all her parents, networking, work and collaboration of the Police and tips we received she is where she should be and is safe. Thank you for your “shares”, tips, and prayers……..enormous relief to have her back….and now the REAL WORK BEGINS.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Continued prayers, please, for all of us – as Caren mends, as Mary finds herself and heals.

July 18, 2014

July 21, 2014

 Caren is in a rough place in her journey of grieving/recovery.  Please continue praying for her as she arises from this space of darkness and despair, that she will regain the joy of hope and possibilities.

Thank you!

August 9, 2014

Moving On…..in many ways.

August 25, 2014

Caren goes for yet another ortho appointment.  This journey is like “the song that never ends.”  *sighs*

Maybe this journey is like being in a downpour, we will grow through this into an even more glorious, gorgeous flower.  We are all affected.

May we continue this journey together in love and compassion.

August 26, 2014

Caren’s ortho appointment:  Doctor is perplexed.  MRI has been ordered.  Some things are not going as expected. Caren may be facing extensive, serious surgery.

It is comforting during these scary times to know our partners in love and prayer – are always near and supporting us.

More information to follow.

August 27, 2014

For months my child suffered in pain. For months she continued to try and push past it. Her effort is awe inspiring. I hesitate on what words to choose that can represent my feelings of shock and anger at the providers who were supposed to be caring for her this whole time. How do you not realize she still has broken bones and not follow up on a trauma patient? How do you keep dismissing a patient that tells you continually that something is wrong?

It turns out some fractures have healed and 7 months later some have not.

Pelvic Fracture – healed and resolved

Wrist Fracture- healed and resolved

Spinal Thoracic 5-10 Transverse Process Fractures – no comment from doctor, wants CT Scan first

Ribs 2-11 fractures look fresh with 2 cm displacement still with no healing whatsoever, Orthopedic doctor stated that no healing was “very unusual and we need a CT Scan Right away so we know how to proceed”.  This could include different type of therapy or surgery to plate and screw each rib to fill the gap.  So CT Scan ordered to see why no healing has occurred at all.  

Shoulder and Scapula not healing correctly and excruciating pain all the time. She is losing function of her arm.  She has a “dropped shoulder” that slants down to the right. He decided he will finally order a CT Scan

September 1, 2014

Dedicated to Robin Williams—Rest in eternal peace and love and to all those who experience the crisis of living. 
noun: crisis, plural noun; crises

  1. a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger, the current economic crisis
  2. synonym: emergency, disaster, catastrophe, calamity; predicament, plight, mess, trouble, dire straits, difficulty, extremity, etc.
  3. a time when a difficult or important decision must be made. a crisis point of history
  4. synonym; critical point, turning point, crossroads, watershed, head, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return, doomsday, the situation as reached a crises.
  5. the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.

I have been reflecting lately on the way the word crisis is striking me when I hear it. A friend called and said she was away out of town for a holiday weekend and received a crisis call before she got to the edge of town. After hearing her describe the situation, I could not relate to the request as a crisis. I heard another friend say that her daughter was in a crisis and I asked what it meant, to which she replied “her life just doesn’t work”. I got the notice of the death of Robin Williams and was as deeply affected by this news as I’ve ever been by the death of a celebrity. I was shocked at just how much I was affected by his death. I was filled with gratitude for his life and work and astonishingly awakened by the depth of the suffering of souls that have all the ways and means to get help and there is no way for them to help themselves or for loved ones to help in many cases. That seems like a crisis to me.

What is crisis to me? In considering a response to this, like most, I first refer to some very personal experience with what I believed crisis to be, for example, ruptured appendix, gangrene, peritonitis, coma at age 14. My baby brother died at age 40 suddenly from a massive heart attack. My dad had perforated bleeding ulcers and collapsed lungs routinely during his last couple years of life that required emergency transport and ICU care. I’ve had friends commit suicide and failed attempts to suicide. In each case, the thing similar about the crisis, I thought was—it had a beginning and an end. I’m beginning to question whether it does or not. Death seems to mark the end—certainly of the physical. However, the crisis that causes the death, depression, despair, apathy, rage, disease, etc. does not seem to end. Where does that leave us?

I’m also thinking about the survivors of the crisis. Are they/we the ones that are stuck in crisis mode? What about when we can’t help? When attempts fail? When the end means death? What about the survivors? The caregivers? When or does it end for them?

What is your experience with crisis? Is it true crisis, or like me, is it a crisis when the plane doesn’t take off on schedule? Or when I get a diagnosis I don’t like? Or when the city floods and the basement leaks? Or when a loved one goes into rehab again? Or when my company fails and I’m unemployed? Or my partner has an affair? Or someone doesn’t pay back the money I loaned in good faith? Or when the treatments are not working anymore? Or when they simply don’t want to suffer anymore?

These questions come to my mind and perhaps to yours. Can we find peace in the mystery, the uncertainty and the questions, unanswered?

In support of World Suicide Prevention Day September 10th, a topic which affects people worldwide, regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status, this publication is offered as an inspirational source to help those who feel despair, distress, sadness, or loneliness. If you or a loved one is suffering, ask for support and talk with someone who can be present with you through your struggle and pain. 

Inspiration can come in many forms… and if words can offer a means of insight, here are some favorites this month:

  • “Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.” 
     —Joseph Addison
  • “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” 
     —Harriet Beecher Stowe 
  • “I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” 
     —Joseph Addison 
  • “One cannot change the past, but one can ruin the present by worrying over the future.”
     —Anonymous
  • “It is not what we get. But who we become, what we contribute… that gives meaning to our lives.”
     —Anthony Robbins 
  • “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”
     —William Arthur Ward 
  • “Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don’t even remember leaving open.” 
     —Rose Lane 
  • “Happiness is not having what you want. It is wanting what you have.”
     —Unknown 
  • “Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.”
     —Osho
  • “Happiness comes from spiritual wealth, not material wealth… Happiness comes from giving, not getting. If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it.” 
     —John Templeton 
  • “Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.”
     —Author Unknown 
  • “Think of all the beauty that is still left in and around you and be happy!”
     —Anne Frank 
  • “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
     —Alexander Graham Bell 
  • “One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”
     —Jack Penn 
  • “When things get tough, don’t move. People and pressures shift but the sail remains the same no matter where you go.”
     —Unknown 
  • “Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage, and determination.”
     —H. Jackson Brown 
  • “When it is darkest, we can see the stars.”
     —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Any idiot can face a crisis—it’s ‘day to day’ living that wears you out.”
     —Anton Chekhov

Here are some suggestions from an experienced friend for us:

From: A Person Living with Chronic Depression
To: Normal Americans
Re: Five Things I Would Ask You To Stop Doing

As someone who has lived successfully with low-grade chronic depression my entire life, the news of Mr. Williams’ suicide seems to have a different effect on me than it seems to have on you. The flood of facebook posts, tweets, and more formal news commentaries embrace a singular point of view which appears to represent the way “most people” react to such news, but that is not my reaction. His passing has led me to five ideas with five requests:

  1. Please refrain from using language that equates the suicide as the inevitable end of a life-long battle against “demonic possession.” Depression and addictive behaviors have causes but to keep using medieval language for the sake of colorful copy is cynical at best and not helpful. The causes of depression, like all effects in life, are over-determined. There is no one reason or cause. It is, most likely, that depression is a flaw in internal chemistry. Simplistic observers like to think it’s about a lack of maturity, resolve, or character. It’s not that easy.
  2. Please refrain from glorifying celebrities who terminate their lives with hyperbole such as “genius, greatest actor of his generation, or greatest writer of his generation” (I am thinking of Mr. Williams as well as Philip Seymour Hoffman and David Foster Wallace). While these accolades may have merit, it only sensationalizes the event and that leads away from an appropriately mindful and compassionate response. The user of hyperbole seeks to express their cleverness and validate their own opinion. (I know that, because I am guilty of it!)
  3. Please refrain from expressing exaggerated emotion over accomplished or privileged folks’ sorrows while ignoring others who might be right in front of you. As I drove about my Los Angeles neighborhood today, I counted nine men and women living on the sidewalks. Please, make sure you see them also as people, right in front of you, who have spiritual, mental, and physical needs that are not being met. If you have emotional energy to spare, make sure that while “your heart goes out to…” you save some for the woman living in a shopping cart, a child without a home, or the veteran who left his or her soul on a battlefield.

For the complete list click here.

I send you love and blessings for peace that passeth understanding. I would love you to join theJourney Within and to experience “who we are” outside of the crisis and the physical form for yourself, and find ways to be with day-to-day living in a new way. See calendar below for details. “Ready for a RETREAT?” Certified “Loving What Is” event? Pilgrimage to Unity Village? Click here for details. 

Thank you for all the love and care you provide for so many and the sacrifices you have made and will make in the name of love.

September 10, 2014

On the struggle bus here.  We find out this week if Caren will have surgery on ribs that still, 8 months out, have not mended.  They remain 2 centimeters apart with no signs of remodeling.

Thanks for hanging in there with us. Your prayers are so valued.  This is such a lo-o-o-o-ng process/journey.  One of my dear friends who has been through so much, said it’s like “digging your way out” and crawling forward.

Calm Spirit. Be gentle with yourself, with your healing.  Know that I love you.

September 16, 2014

what if you have a surgeon who is not interested in consulting with other surgeons about various procedures because they feel they know best about what they are doing? I have ribs 2-11 fractured. Also, is there a difference between using titanium and stainless steel plating and screws?  Please contact me with an answer to these questions

September 24, 2014

September 25, 2014

Be A Human Being…not Human Doing or Human Lingering in the Past..Human BEING!

There are many things that touch my life on a daily basis.  This is something that I feel is so important and so imperative that we don’t lose that inner touch with ourselves as Human Beings with Boundless Love.

We can be mindful of all our Human Interactions.  Change Ourselves and give true LOVE to others.  The real gift…IS the gift of GIVING.

https://fb.watch/chNLV6x4po/

September 26, 2014

Caren’s right shoulder droop can be seen.  It is far more pronounced now, and compromising spinal alignment.  The shattered scapula will be treated with double plates/modified Judet approach.

Also, the ribs have never healed, and they will be treated with Matrix rib.(The illustrations
above are not of Caren.)  The surgery, at minimum, will be four hours, on a special table that allows maximum access to the scapula.

Depending on pain management, Caren will be in the hospital from several days, to several weeks before coming home.  At home, it will be like starting all over again with meds, pain management, lots of sleep, brain fog – hopefully toward healing this time.

Our kids are profoundly affected.  We all covet your continued prayers and support.

Thank you!

October 8, 2014

Major Reconstructive Surgery

October 08.  Just before 2 pm surgery began on Caren’s unhealed ribs and scapula.  Titnium plating for ribs, stainless steel for scapula.  Surgery is approximately 4 hours.  We will keep ya’ll informed.

Ty for continued prayers

October 9, 2014

Surgery Notes from family:

8 am, 10/08 Going on my fourth cup of coffee to stay awake – and I’m a tea drinker, LOL

Well, today is the day. At 9 am Caren checks into Spectrum Butterworth, and her surgery is scheduled for 11 am. The ribs will be plated with titanium, and the scapula with stainless steel. We teased her that she’ll have to carry around an oil can like Dorothy’s Tin Man, 

Thank you for your continued love and prayers – for all of us.

Caren is resting tonight. She came out of recovery around 9-ish. Ad soon as my phone charged, I let ya’ll know. All ribs are plated. I will share more as I know more.
Abundant thanks for love and prayers. Night!

Caren is up and walking – with an IV pole, epidural, drain, cath, pain pump, and sling. She has 3 therapists accompanying her, following with a wheel chair. Wow! What a champion!

Visiting Caren this afternoon, the room was filled with numerous therapists, nurses, and maintenance. Apparently her bed malfunctioned. The fellow fixing it said it was something wrong/w its ‘brain’. So, now we have a bed/w a TBI (traumatic brain injury). We all laughed. Then he said it was most likely a CHI (closed head injury). Humor – gotta love it!

So, here sits Caren awaiting maintenance on her bed, 

BTW, she did eat a bit today.

91/53, BP kinda low; and she has a slight temp. Thank you for continued love and prayers.

Yay!  Caren got a new bed, 😀

Fentanyl, given for pain, is giving Caren an adverse reaction.  It makes her feel itchy, or like bugs are crawling all over her.  Apparently this happens to some people, and there is an anti-itch medication they will be administering.

October 9, 2014

Hmmmm.  During surgery, the scapula wasn’t plated, as discussed.  We are being told that it may require yet more surgery.

If I understand, a piece of broken scapula was removed, and spurs and/or rough places were ‘ground down, and made smooth.’  This is supposed to give pain relief and greater ease in mobility. We are wondering about the obvious shoulder droop on the right, as seen above, and how the decision not to plate will affect ‘le droop.

Picture was taken on the morning before surgery.

October 12, 2014

Caren’s back, just before doctors removed her epidural (on the left ).  So far I haven’t seen any of her incisions.

God, the Healer, the Perfection of Spirit, “Heals the brokenhearted, and bandages up their wounds.”   Glory be, and so it is.

October 12, 2014

My eyes popped open and my heart raced when my phone buzzed at 1:00 a.m.. Good news isn’t usually delivered at that hour. I hopped out of bed and grabbed my phone.

“Mom, police have my dorm on lockdown and are running up and down the hall shouting. I don’t know what’s going on but I’m scared.”

It was from Ashley, my college freshman daughter, more than seven hours away from me.

I tried calling her but the reception was so bad neither of us could make out what the other was saying. Texting was my only option so I asked a series of questions trying to get a better handle of what was happening.

My hands were shaking. My heart was racing. And I felt intensely helpless.

When she was a little girl and cried out in the middle of the night, all I had to do was run upstairs. I could sit on the edge of her bed and rub her back. I could let her see me. Calm her with my touch. Be there to whisper reassurances.

But now that little girl was a college girl very far from me.

I couldn’t sit on her bed and she couldn’t see me. I couldn’t calm her with my touch. I couldn’t whisper those reassurances with my voice.

All I could do was text her.

And that felt completely inadequate in light of this situation.

Scary images assaulted my mind with all the possible scenarios a completely shaken mama conjures up in moments of frightening uncertainty. I sank down to my knees and begged God to clear my head and give me the words to text that would help.

This is one of those times I was wishing God would appear in a way my eyes could see Him and give me clear step-by-step instructions written down of exactly what to do. But I couldn’t see Him. And no Spirit Finger wrote instructions on my wall. Instead, I felt this gentle nudge to pay attention to what He’d already given me that week.

A set of verses a friend texted me and that I’d passed along to another friend.

Psalm 91:1-2, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

I love that these verses give us a script to say out loud, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

Quickly, I texted Ashley these verses and instructed her to say this out loud over and over until she felt some relief with her fear. And you better believe I was saying it out loud over and over as well.

Isn’t it interesting the two words God is called here are refuge and fortress?

A refuge is a quick place you duck into to find shelter. A fortress is a place that is built intentionally for the purposes of exceptional security. The Hebrew word for fortress is metsudahwith one of its definitions being an “inaccessible place.”

God is not just a quick refuge from the storm but He’s the place where fear no longer has access to me.

Fear can’t catch what it can no longer reach.

It’s not that bad things won’t happen to me or my kids. We live in a broken world where broken things happen every day. But as a child of God I don’t have to live with fear taunting and terrorizing me.

We still don’t know all the reasons why my daughter’s dorm was on lockdown. Thankfully she and her friends were safe and we all eventually got some sleep that night. I understand that other middle-of-the-night calls don’t turn out so well. I’ve sadly lived through those times as well.

But I’m determined to make some imperfect progress with processing fear.

I now know I can feel afraid but I don’t have to live afraid.

I can say out loud, “God, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” And then close my eyes and picture Him lifting us to a place where fear can’t catch us.

By Lysa TerKeurst

October 13, 2014

Into The Free – TBI song with pics

October 14, 2014

Same song different verse. Caren is on the road, by herself.  No one loving with her, strangers packing her personal belongings, no one with her to take pics and make her laugh – what a crappy deal.  

DTE was supposed to come for repairs this morning.   They came while Rick was leaving to p/u kids. Austin has viral bronchitis.  I’ve been/w him all weekend, and caught the crud.  I would make Caren sick, so stayed home in bed – what a crappy deal, feeling crappy.

What does one do with a crappy situation?  Make crap-ade, crappy stones to step on?   Ewwww!

No, one gets a call from a friend who loves and listens.  Gotta love divine intervention.

Thank you, God!  Thank you that, “Caren is in God’s hands, enfolded in God’s love, protected by God’s power, and guided by God’s light.  Wherever Caren is, God is, and all is well!”

October 16, 2014

Caren – from surgery, to arriving at Mary Free Bed, an acute care facility.

Even baby steps is progress.  We are grateful for each step forward on Caren’s journey.

Well, folks, I have tried for two weeks to scan the view of Caren’s ribs and scapula before surgery.  It has been a fruitless effort.  Windows 8 has no drivers for my Canon scanner, and it won’t recognize my Epson scanner, *mumbles, grumbles*

On the upside, Candice,our very dear friend, visited Caren Wednesday evening and caught Caren with a couple of unexpected, and rather furry, visitors.  Besides loving the visit with Candice, Caren also enjoyed pooch smooches and poodle coodles.  Ahem, that should be cuddles.

It reminded Caren of our own Minuit, a black French poodle. 

Gotta love this Mary Free Bed!  Thanks for the visitors.

Caren, new beginnings. New You.

written in 2014.

October 16, 2014

Progress.

Caren – from surgery, to arriving at Mary Free Bed, an acute care facility.

Even baby steps is progress.  We are grateful for each step forward on Caren’s journey.

October 17, 2014

To all the people who said Caren was faking or pretending, getting hooked on pain meds, failing to put forth enough effort or not trying hard enough, just making excuses – to all ya’ll I say, “Shame on you!”  Caren was in pain, genuine pain.

For ten months these ribs, two through eleven, had not healed; and, neither had the scapula healed.  Doctors do not know the reason why.

One therapist at MFB advocated for Caren, but was repeatedly renounced and ignored. Caren’s PCP listened to Caren.  To find out where all this pain was coming from, she ordered CT scans. The IME doctor wanted CT scans.  God bless these folks.

Her osteopath was horrified, and ordered immediate surgery.  Caren now has plated and screwed ribs, and pieces of her scapula removed.  It may still require surgery later, doctors still don’t know. Besides the flailed chest, Caren’s chest was more crushed that they at first realized.  How painful!

What we do know is that Caren feels like she is at square one – starting all over again.  What we do know is that she is in agony, and has been sent to an acute care facility for pain management, and to start therapy – again.  What we do know is that, according to the doctors, Caren will probably never regain 100% use of her right arm.  Caren is struggling to come to grips with “the new normal.”

You know what?  I am so very glad some peoples ignored the many quips and quotes about the negativity of looking back, of dwelling in the past.  Had the past not been reexamined, perhaps Caren would have gone the rest of her life with unhealed fractures, a flailed and crushed chest.

We pray this recent surgery will do much to correct and heal Caren, and that she will once again live a life free of pain from these injuries.

Thanks to the therapist, the doctors, the Great Physician for sustaining Caren through these troublesome times.  It is often in our seemingly darkest hours we appreciate most our Inner Treasure.

Am I less man because I believe in a man?

The barriers of flesh and bone fell down when the Poet of Galilee spoke to me; and I was held by a spirit, and was lifted to the heights, and in midair my wings gathered the song of passion.

And when I dismounted from the wind and in the Sanhedrin my pinions were shorn, even then my ribs, my featherless wings, kept and guarded the song. And all the poverties of the lowlands cannot rob me of my treasure.  ~Khalil Gibran

October 21, 2014

Caren has been so sick today that Zofran barely works. She has been vomiting.

 It has happened yet again.  Another CNA didn’t do her job correctly. Soon after surgery, an NCA did improper peri-care, and Caren has a raging UTI.  Today she was so ill and dizzy that bed seemed her only comfort.

For the last 4-5 days Caren has done her best to tackle all the PT, OT, and Speech Therapy – hours a day, every day – and today she could barely walk. Her bone surgeon has the right arm in a sling and totally immobile for up to eight weeks. How frustrating.  How constraining.  Therapy is stymied as to what to do next.

Yeah, I know many adages about not giving up.  But, after so many setbacks, one tends to feel a little lost. There is no way that I can even imagine how Caren must feel, other than what she tells me. * huge sighs*

Continued prayers please. 

Thank you.  God bless!

October 22, 2014

It feels like every waking moment I am consumed with thoughts of Caren, her successes, her setbacks, her triumphs, her challenges.  And, I’ve prayed.  I’ve prayer not only for Caren, but for our whole family and how this healing journey has impacted our lives.  I am open and receptive to answers, to dwelling in that sacred space within – where my treasures of hope and glory, love and understanding, compassion and patience – all reside.  

Today, as I took mental and spiritual inventory, I found the following devotional to be an inspiring blessing.  I share it with you, and trust that you are blessed as well.

As my friend Lauren would say, “Holy Shift!”

Shift

I SHIFT TO A HIGHER SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE.

A car with a manual transmission cannot move if it is not in gear. If I find myself pressing my foot on the gas pedal and spinning my wheels, shifting the gears will propel me forward.

Likewise, holding on to an attitude of insistence or resistance in my life will keep me stuck. Through prayer, I access the wisdom and clarity to know how to shift gears and change.

To rise from blame, upset, or frustration, I adjust my attitude. I let go and forgive. I use my energy in positive ways—uplifting, encouraging, and looking for the best in myself and others. These shifts help me gain a higher spiritual perspective and move me steadily forward.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.—Zechariah 4:6

October 23, 2014

We are all so happy to have Caren home again.

November 4, 2014

Caren is fatigued. Now she has two boys home sick.  

Through all this, today’s devotional from Unity’s Daily Word – has blessed me.

Bob Jones, Sr., used to say, “Keep on keeping on.”

And, so it is!  Continued blessings to you this day.

Healing

I AM WHOLE AND WELL IN MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT.

When electrical equipment malfunctions, I first check to see whether it is plugged in. Similarly, when I experience dysfunction or disease in mind or body, I check whether I am “plugged in” to God. If I have harbored faulty ideas, I let them go. If I have given power to beliefs of disharmony or sickness, I disconnect from those thoughts and reconnect to Truth.

Established in right thinking, I allow the light of Truth to heal and transform me. As I experience healing from the inside out, I feel great ease and aliveness. I deeply trust life’s divine and perfect unfolding. No matter where I am in my healing process, I know that perfection and wholeness are my Truth. God is my health and well-being.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light.—Luke 11:34

December 6, 2014

A Birthday To Remember – and Other Mini Updates up to Nov 30, 2014

UPDATE 07/2014:

Great news. Caren’s AutoClaim approved after 7 months of waiting.  We are grateful.  We picked up her first prescriptions without having to pay for them on July 24, 2014.  This will be very helpful.

Caren is still trying to regain her stamina, memory, balance, walking distance, and fatigues easily. She faces therapy twice weekly and her pain is intense.  She has lost strength and ability in her R arm, yet perseveres. Caren has a long road ahead of her, but her determination to overcome is remarkable and, with our love and support, her continued efforts in therapy and at home, and your assistance, her future progress, we believe, is limitless.  We are still unsure how much of a recovery she will make…but baby steps are better than no steps.

You can follow the blog here…..Blessings to you all.

UPDATE 9/28/2014:

Caren is scheduled for surgery on October 8, 2014.  It is a four hour surgery minimum.  She has several fractures that have not healed AT ALL.

There are ongoing challenges  Caren continues to cope with in the best way she knows how.  It is helpful knowing she has the support of her family, friends, other survivors, and community.

It has been 8 months since the wreck and though she has come a long way, there is still a long journey ahead of her.

UPDATE 10/8/2014:

Caren went in for what was supposed to be a 4 hour surgery.   It ended up lasting nearly 7-8 hours beginning to end plus recovery time.  Caren had ribs 5-10 plated with Titanium and locking screws.  They had to be pulled apart, repositioned, and then put into proper place before plating.  Her R Shoulder was not able to be repaired with the Modified Judet Approach as originally planned by Surgeon, due to the extensive and overwhelming shattered bone and unhealed fractures.  She ended up having part of her shoulder blade, all shattered pieces, and part of her wing bone removed.  Caren spent a week at a Level One Trauma Center and then was tranferred to an Acute Rehabilitation Center for another week. 

It turns out that nearly all of Caren’s ribs remained fractured with no sign of healing as did her scapula.  In fact, it was worse.  This was not noticed until after she underwent 12 weeks of Outpatient Therapy and began to lose even more function and feeling in her R arm and hand.  The fractures were not discovered until a CT Scan and Caren’s tireless efforts to be heard in September of 2014.

UPDATE 10/23/2014:

Caren released from Acute Rehabilitation Center to continue recovery and therapy from home.  Caren is ecstatic about each new opportunity and going through a LOT of emotions during this time of transition.  She could use your support……..even still!!!!  She continues with PT, OT, and Recreational therapy at home through a magnificent program called “Home and Community Rehabilitation Program” through MaryFreeBed.

UPDATE 11/30/2014:

Caren lives to see her 41st Birthday and continues to fight for each days progress and never gives up.  Caren is a champion.  She has started Counseling in addition to her Therapies. She is brave, committed, and powerfully driven to survive and move forward.  Caren is a SURVIVOR!!!

December 6, 2014

Share this page with as many people as possible.  Continue to offer Caren support through your words of encouragement through writing, letting her know you are out there, etc.

The family is raising funds to purchase things that will support Caren, their children, and entire family through this time of transition that the insurance covering Caren’s medical care does not touch.

A major goal is a dependable, minivan (NOT a Chevy Venture please) –  that can hold 8-10 people comfortably with decent leg room, room for a wheelchair in the back, etc. Another major goal is paying off Caren’s student loan, a repair loan on the home, materials for home repairs, and various other items that have been put on hold due to this situation. 

If there are other ways you would like to help, or other ideas you have – don’t hesitate to contact the family directly, or post a comment under “Posts”.  

Nothing will go unnoticed, without thanks, without recognition, without enormous appreciation.  We are doers, givers, and go-getters.  It is difficult to ask for help – but we are also humble enough to know when we need to reach out for that help.

Thanks.

January 4, 2015

One Year Anniversary.
One year ago today, Death came for my daughter. The angels entered that horrific wreckage, and saved her from the slaughter. In her body she bears the scars of that battle won – While angels wrestled from the jaws of Death, Caren’s little son . . .

Pondering today God’s goodness, God’s love, the infinite mercy of Spirit. This is the one year anniversary of the head-on collision that spewed Caren onto the pavement, miraculously sparing Austin. No driving today. This is a holy day of remembrance. Tearfully, with immense gratitude, my heart overflows as I proclaim, “Thank you, God!”

On this holy day of remembrance – remembering all that has been devoured this past year and seemingly destroyed; and in contrast, all that has been restored, made whole, or is in the process of healing – I was drawn to this verse from Joel, “God will restore the years the locusts have eaten.” When meditating on all the implications of the year past, I share some of my thoughts.

Locust trivia:  singularly, locusts are their divine insect selves, always leaping forward, enjoying the bounty of leaves and vegetation. En masse, when locusts perceive lack or fear starvation, they panic – turning nearly black to absorb light and conserve energy, they become weapons of mass destruction as they level fields, trees, and all vegetation in their paths – until either their greed is satisfied, and/or numbers of them die off. While in this fearful state, locusts have often been referred to as, “destruction, devastation, punishment” . . . or, in medieval times, they “symbolized the torment and ruin of the soul.”

From the book, Insect Mythology, locust is listed as a symbol of cosmic disorder, that the order of the cosmos had been disturbed.  There is much more that I will leave to your discovery.

To me it feels like the locusts of destruction this past year, the year since January 04, 2014, the year of Caren’s auto accident:  has robbed a husband of his best friend and lover, giving him in exchange a somewhat stranger confined, mostly, to a hospital bed – incapable of once enjoyed intimacies special to husbands and wives.  The children have lost a mother who laughs, and runs, and bakes cookies, and works, and intercedes for them at school – for a mother who is sequestered in hospital rooms, rehab facilities, and embroiled in numerous therapy appointments, who is always tired and sometimes unavailable. As her mother, it feels I have lost a daughter who was a confidante, one with whom we could have numerous, often humorous conversations all at the same time while kids ran around being kids with their interferences – for a more fragile daughter who eschews raucous kid noises, and can sometimes only hear one thing at a time, if she remembers.  My son has lost a beloved, patient aunty.  My grown son has lost a sister – so much the year of the locusts have devoured.  No, there are not literal locusts of destruction here, although the head-on collision felt like so much devastation.  The lesson here is far greater.

I must concur with Dr. Pusey in stating that the more serious locusts plaguing us last year were the locusts of the heart.  Those thoughts of poverty, lack, desertion, devastation, and loneliness were far greater within than without.  As metaphysical students, folks will realize I mean no malice in my solitary observations, nor are these personal thoughts meant as judgments.  I suffered my own illnesses, broken bones, and heartaches as I cared for sick children.  These are my intimate thoughts.

If one considers the aftermath of a locust scourge, what is left but the greening of new leaves, the restoration of new life, and a brand new chance to rebuild what had been eaten away?

Therefore, during this one-year anniversary I am reminded that a husband has instead found a new wife returned to him, one with whom they can discover new vistas together – where he has had to become the caregiver, and she has had to learn how to be receptive to receiving loving assistance. (Side note: in the ER, Rick’s voice was the only voice to which Caren responded during her delirium of pain and trauma). The children have rediscovered that their mother loves them still, they have learned more patience and a compassionate, protective caring – knowing that Mom is injured, she always returns home, and there is hope of recovery as they watch her progress, and struggle, and determine to be well.  I believe there is more respect than fear, now.

 As a mother I have watched my daughter who truly is NOT fragile – learn to walk again, learn to eat, learn to compensate, learn to live, learn to accept a new normal, overcome surgeries, learn to live again, displaying her strength of character and purpose – how proud I am of her accomplishments, how she inspires me! My son has become gentler with his aunty, is learning to process difficult emotions, and is learning to be a kinder person.  Caren’s brother, my grown son, has been home twice last year to be a support and comfort to his sister.  Through great personal sacrifice he has traveled from Oregon twice, not knowing whether or not Caren would survive, since her chances were so slim.  I believe, through great hardship in coming some three thousand miles, he has rediscovered the beauty and reconciliation with family, experienced safety and security while home, and has come to appreciate anew the miracles and machinations of Christmas, being an uncle, reacquainting with Nich, and the miracles of love.

I believe we have been given, “new eyes to see the best in each other, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad or ineffective, a spirit that is mindful moment by moment, and a soul that never loses faith in God.”  I believe we all embrace Caren’s vision of HOPE, and we can resoundingly proclaim with Joel that God has indeed restored the years, for yes – it feels likes years – that the locusts have eaten.

I affirm with Joel, “God can restore what is broken, and restore it into something amazing and miraculous!”

Happy Anniversary!

January 12, 2015

What would I do today, if I were brave?  

January 14, 2015

Congratulations, Caren!  We’ve made it through a whole year.

I am so very proud of you in “your new normal”, and your love and patience with us as we get to know the new you.

You are amazing! Phenomenal! Inspirational! An over-comer! You are you, wonderful you!

I love you,
Mom

February 23, 2015

Attempting to communicate with a TBI patient can be like talking to a foreigner who speaks no English.  A simple statement that should only take fifteen minutes takes much longer, with numerous repetitions, and can sometimes even last the whole day long.   A once congenial conversationalist can still be intelligent and talk to you, and carry on many every day tasks, but not on the same level once enjoyed.

A “new normal’ is not just an adjustment for the patient.  Families are also casualties in these calamities. No one comes away from a horrific accicent unscathed.  Not the patient, not the family.

Regarding Caregivers. The term “burnout” is personally annoying.  It indicates, to me, a surrender or a ‘”giving up”.  I find it distasteful, and find it often used as an accusation, or a reflection of one’s character, or a lack of character.

Perhaps, instead of burnout, the caregiver is angry, confused, frustrated, and disappointed – not in the patient, but in the horrific crash that caused such chaos.  An earthquake would pale compared to the magnitude of suffering endured by the patient and family in the aftermath of the accident.  The patient has come to inhabit a body that looks like someone we once knew.  For me, this stranger looks like my daughter.  Every once in a while, she sounds like my daughter, but my daughter would not be so cruel with her words, or verbose and repetitive in her conversations.  If it is difficult for me, how is it for her?

Perhaps, just perhaps, it is time for my to change my perspective – again.

from a Caregiver

March 9, 2015

  Today my daughter sat down with her kids, handed them a bunch of spoons, and used the Spoon Theory, authored by Christine Miserandino, to explain my daughter’s TBI.  Christine was describing her battle with Lupus, but the visual was phenomenal to explain to the children, ages 6 – 16, what mom is going through with her traumatic brain injury.

You can read the Spoon Theory here:   www.butyoudontlooksick.com/the_spoon_theory

It helps to be understood.  Later, after the explanation with the spoon bouquet, the 6 year old asked mom, “How are your spoons, Mom?”

‘Nuff said!

March 9, 2015

Sometimes, when tragedy strikes, we just don’t have the answers.  People struggle, we struggle with them.  People are hurting, we hurt with them.  We share the burdens of their agony.  It is alright to be content in your discontent – because, sometimes, just sometimes there just are questions with no answers.  “Why” is insufficient.  

March 17, 2015

My grandson was five at the time of Mom’s wreck.  He was with her in the car when she was ejected.  He told his Mama, later, that the song playing in his head was “Say Something” – 

Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you
Anywhere I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you

Just a few seconds, and all our lives drastically changed.  We are, all of us, still in recovery.  There is not a day goes by that we are not thankful for the miracles that transpired that fateful day last January.  Our Caren is with us still.

Although still untitled, I’ve penned a poem, trying to express my heart.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The metal screamed, the crash was so loud –

Her head hit the pavement, she slid on the ice

The bones, they were broken, the flesh was torn

As he called his mother from realms unknown

And claimed her as his very own.

The snow had turned crimson, and Death had grown proud.

“My mother’s dead! My mother’s dead!”

“Mother, Mother!” The frightened child wailed.

But a mother’s heart again beats stronger

To calm a child all hell she will conquer

For Love is greater and Death had failed –

Her child’s sorrowful tears were like prayers that he said.

The mother must make the boy understand

“Do not cry, son.  Do not cry. I am here!”

The mind would not respond, the words would not form

And whimpering was the only sound

The son was confused, as he knelt on the ground,

When he heard his mother the sound was so grand.

Father arrived and gently cradled his son

And took him home where he was lovingly welcomed.

There were so many miracles that fateful day

When angels kneeled as a young son prayed

Love was greater, and joy was conveyed

In hearts filled with gratitude,  Hope had won!

March 25, 2015

Caren,

You are not invisible.  I hear you.  I know you have headaches. I know you have pain. I know the energy drops out from you, like a trap door opening and swallowing you into the depths of exhaustion.

I just don’t know how to help, or how to fix it.  We will never be “normal” again.  I wish all this was behind us.

I do love you. You are not alone.    

March 30, 2015

Keep on keeping on.  Caren, keep staying between the shores!  Love you!

Just imagine.  You have come so far, accomplished so much. Be encouraged. Just imagine.

Hope matters.  Love matters.  Forgiveness matters.

Because we may not understand, may not say the right things, and can’t fix it – –

Hope matters.  Love matters.  Forgiveness matters.

Peace.

Caren, you are extraordinary.

March 31, 2015

Because of the unusual characteristics of each brain injury, no one knows what to expect – not the doctors, not the therapists, not the survivor, not the friends, not the families.   No one.  Each brain injury has it own special journey to wellness.  Some injuries leave behind its own unique signature.

“We have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike. Each snowflake takes the perfect form for the maximum efficiency and effectiveness for its journey. And while the universal force of gravity gives them a shared destination, the expansive space in the air gives each snowflake the opportunity to take their own path.  . . .  there are so many transitions and changes that take place along the journey of the snowflake. But, no matter what the transition, the snowflake always finds itself perfectly shaped for its journey.” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Thoreau has said, “Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”

You are full of the divine.  Allow that thought to sustain you for there are so many transitions and changes on this journey of healing from a traumatic brain injury.  The Universe has given you expansive space on this path of wellness and recovery.  Believe in your inner wisdom, in your own special, sacred potential towards victory each and every day.  Recovering from a brain injury, and the myriad other injuries from the car wreck – – none of those experiences were expected.  There will be no guidebook, no manual, no treatise or lists of “what comes next”; because, like snowflakes, no two brain injuries are the same. 

Please remember, “The part you are to play is as unique and beautiful as a snowflake, and one only you can fill.” Princess Sassy Pants

Andthrough it all, I believe in you, I’m proud of your accomplishments, and I love you!

http://www.brain-injury-online.com/

April 9, 2015

Sticking It Out. There have been so many new developments in the last month.  More on this in some further posts.  However, for this one, here is a bit of something that just touched me immensely…..

” I am gonna let you in on a little secret.  The Universe isn’t against anybody. I know it feels that way right now, but I’m telling you that’s not how it works.  

Life is a mixed bag…..we all get some good, and we all get some bad.  The more time that you spend trying to figure out all the ways the world is trying to screw with you – well….. the more you’re going to find.  

Listen, this sucks, I know….BIG TIME; and I do not know how this is going to end.  I don’t know how this is going to play out….but I know YOU!

I know when it gets hard that you want to run; but I’m telling you that you gotta fight that.  Sometimes you gotta stick around long enough for your luck to find you.”

~The Fosters TV Program

April 25, 2015

As we speak, Caren is in an MRI, full contrast – from head to hips.  Rick was told that it would be approximately 4 hours, and sent him home.

Nearly 15 months out and head injury has not been properly addressed, internal injuries still being discovered, there are fractures that still have not healed.  Polytrauma – I feel that doctors are not properly educated.  On the plus side, we finally have a neurologist on board, a gyno-urologist, and other specialists who can view what the original trauma team missed as they dealt with life/death injuries, 

Prayers, plz, for Caren during this arduous process, and for the doctors to have eyes to see and intuition to know how to help her completely and properly heal.

Thank you for your love and affirmative prayers!

Dieu répond aux prières .

May 2, 2015

More MRI’s, an EMG, more blood work, more referrals – the list goes on in this journey of Caren’s.

As we all discover Caren’s new normal, may we embrace the magic of her new life.

Love you.

June 16, 2015

18 months later

Grateful for the miracles.

Anxious for each new injury discovered, each new challenge to overcome, each owie not mended

Impatient for complete healing

Hopeful for brighter tomorrows

August 16, 2015

You are more than a princess, you have slain dragons, and you have re-entered life – making it ever more beautiful.  Through the last year and a half, you have accomplished so much!

I love you!  Keep on keeping on.

August 25, 2015

symbol of the cactus

With each of your victories, you inspire us, edify us, lift us up in faith, and renew our hopes of better times ahead.  I salute the new life you live.  May you also be encouraged.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To you I give this cactus flower

A symbol of your beauty

With grace you have survived the worst,

 ‘Twas more than just your duty.

You see, the cactus grows in deserts

In very harsh conditions

It will bloom and thrive in faith

With bravery its mission.

The ancients held the mysteries dear

Of healing and protection.

The strength of inspiration –

Treasured in introspection.

A mother’s unconditional love,

All her victories impart

Undying warmth and passion

Swelling in each childish heart.

A symbol of your beauty

This flower to you I give

Hidden treasures of your heart,

As you find new ways to live.

Love, Mom

September 27, 2015

Caren faces yet another IME, and yet another surgery, this time with a bone graft.  We are down to one vehicle – the one that takes the kids to school.  A ride has been grudgingly provided.

Yet I am encouraged. Through my own sickness, doubts and impatience; regardless of the naysayers and the toxic people who wish to infect our lives with their ignorance and begrudging assistance; and, regardless of the fear that crouches in the shadows demanding audience – I am encouraged.  We seek out the beautiful, and we are forever blessed with beauty.

A doctor in Minnesota does the type of scapula surgery/bone graft Caren needs to continue her journey of healing. 

We covet your continued prayers as we take this next step.  Prayers are the light of encouragement that helps to fuel our hope.  Thank you, all.  We love you and appreciate your support.

OCTOBER 2015 – Everything caught up with me. I was unable to post or do much of anything. I had gone to get a pneumonia vaccination. I had a bad reaction and became very sick. I felt helpless to do for Caren as much as I had before. It turned out that I would be fighting for my life. The blog I created for my daughter sat silent. In December of 2015, this was her post on the Blog and when she officially took it over.

Well what an amazing and harrowing experience we have just endured.  My mom is the one that created this blog after I was in the hospital after my wreck.  What a labor of love that must have been during such an overwhelming time.  I realize this blog is about my medical journey and a coping outlet. I would be remiss not to share about the woman who made this coping outlet possible…..

We almost lost my mom over the past couple of months.  My mom had developed pneumonia which progressed to a double pneumonia over a month’s time, which has been attributed to a pneumonia shot she received.  This progressed into something more exacerbated.  Mom went into the hospital November 6th and was further diagnosed with ANCA Vasculitis (which they are presuming was triggered by the vaccination), her kidneys started shutting down and her lungs started hemorrhaging; after being in the hospital for for nearly 6 days she was transferred to ICU and put on a Ventilator November 11.  This was when I thought I could not take any more.  I jut couldn’t lose my mom. It just wasn’t time.  The next few days would feel impossible.  I never gave up HOPE though.  After all, mom has never given up HOPE on me in my whole life.  Eventually after great care from a lot of amazing providers, the fighting spirit of mom herself, dedication of her family, and an amazing social support  – mom was miraculously removed from the Ventilator and LIVED (on November 17/18) and moved to a Rehabilitation Hospital on Thanksgiving Day.

She survived a kidney biopsy, plasmaphoresis, and two rounds of chemotherapy.  She beat all the odds.  She had acquired this rare condition and survived it all (at least for now).  She is not back to 100%, but she was home by December 10, with a walker and on the road to recovery.  She has ongoing therapies….but she is home.

Reflection on the similarities, reflection on my emotions through this whole ordeal, puts a different perspective and allows me a different level of humility for my family.  

Welcome home mom.  Welcome Home.

Everything paled in comparison to our focus on mom during this time.  The pain in my body never stopped, my forgetfulness and struggle to find myself, the world didn’t end, life kept going on. The reflection on how my family must have felt when I was in the hospital for 3.5 months was a sobering reality for me.  Since I had no recollection of all my time there it has always been hard to really conceptualize how they must have felt.  It always felt like a story about someone else.  There was no emotional attachment to it because there was not much memory attached to it.  I now value more than I could ever begin to originally understand, there patience, tolerance, faith, and strength as a family unit.  Not knowing if I was going to live or die – my injuries were horrific.  Mom’s situation was horrific.  It has helped me appreciate the providers themselves….It helps me appreciate proper documentation overall.  It allowed me to see with new eyes how mistakes are made in a hospital setting and how the advocacy of family can be the difference between shortcuts taken or not.  

We are fortunate.  We are blessed.  To be educated, to have each other, to have the freedom to express ourselves openly and without abandon.  To have amazing providers, therapists, and Doctors who will advocate for their patients.  Thanks especially to mom’s PCP who caught all this from the beginning with blood labs and x-rays. Thanks to mom for fighting for her life and blessing us with more opportunities to create memories together.

Welcome Home Mom.  Welcome Home.

January 14, 2016 my first blog post since getting out of the hospital. Caren was entering surgery. She had travelled to a different State (Minnesota) for the specialist there who was going to transform our beautiful girl.

January 14, 2016

It is 1:00 pm.  Caren is one hour into a four hour surgery, the first step in reconstruction of her scapula.  We covet your continued prayers and support.  By our self, we are only angels with one wing.  Our friends make up the other wing, making us whole.  We are nothing without you.

“Caren, I’ve lit the candles, I’m burning the smudge – no negativity allowed, 😀

You are in good hands. The Great Physician is right in league with Dr. Cole, his colleagues, the nurses, the staff, and all involved in your successful recovery. Abundant miracles abound.”

Godspeed indeed!

Thank you God!

February 9, 2016

Caren and Rick leave tomorrow for her follow-up appointment with the surgeon.

I AM so glad for a big, BIG God to provide the way.

May 5, 2016

Our bionic woman is broken yet again.  Finally, I made it to the blog to tell you about Caren’s latest adventure, and I see she has already updated you. She even used the pic I had found on my end. This makes me happy.

     It makes me happy that Caren has found time to share her heart with you.  Since last September, as she struggles to heal, I was diagnosed with pneumonia, and in October with double pneumonia.  Things went downhill from there.  Bottom line, I was in the hospital for thirty four days – one of those weeks was spent on life support. Caren and my family have lovingly cared for me through all of it.  It has been a long road to recovery, and I have missed visiting with all of you.  Thank you for supporting us for the two years through Caren’s healing journey.  

We sincerely desire your prayers yet again as Caren undergoes surgery tomorrow.

My lovely daughter is yet more precious the way she has suffered so gracefully.  God has great things in store for Caren – although broken, yet more beautiful still.  I can only hope this will be her last surgery, the surgery to end her pain.

Thank you for your prayers.

February 19, 2018

Whether your New Year starts January 01, or in February like the Chinese New Year – you are a new beginning, you are a new person!  You have come so very far.  I am proud of you Caren!  You are excelling! 

There is only room for improvement – on your timeline, in your own special, unique way.  HOPE always.  It is the glue that holds faith together.

I love you!

Mom

July 16, 2018

WHAT IS A HOPEster?


A HOPEster is anyone who is interested in helping one person succeed to be independent – even if the person they are currently helping is themselves (specifically related to Polytrauma and Traumatic Brian Injury – though can apply to anything other than these two things as well).

A HOPEster is someone willing to share information, offer support (whether that be emotional, mental, physical, or just by sharing awareness information), and encourages advocacy (self-advocacy, medical advocacy, advocacy awareness).

A HOPEster is someone that thinks outside the box, is passionate, idealistic, and believes in the inherent goodness of others and our collective responsibility to each other as human beings.

Caren is still on the road to recovery. I do my best to try and be encouraging and take on tasks as allowed to ease the burden (ie: doing laundry, cooking, taking/picking up kids from their schools, run errands, etc). In the very beginning I started a Blog for Caren at posthope.org; over time she became more aware and interested in saying on paper what she couldn’t find words for in her speech. Blogging for Caren was as much therapeutic as it was an opportunity to educate and bring awareness to her experiences and the system as a whole.

Nothing can really prepare a person for the level of care their loved one will need during a trauma like this. I do count myself fortunate to have, in another life long ago, acquired my license as a Certified Nursing Assistant. However, even that did not prepare me for the level of care that would be needed or the duration of time it would take, and continues to take. On the other hand, I am a mother. Being a parent makes me a willing caregiver by default, though in this type of situation it also strips you of your sense of identity if you don’t keep things balanced in your life as much as possible. I continue to be a cheerleader to my daughter. I am delighted and rejoice with every victory and all progress made. There is a part though, where even for the most prepared, burnout can cloak like a wet blanket dragging you down. This I have worked at avoiding and have learned to establish boundaries, even for myself, with myself.

The only support we had in our community was some of the family around us and shared resources (schools, church, good Samaritans, referrals). After the initial shock and after the patient goes home, people tend to move on though and forget that there is still a struggle to contend with. If they aren’t living it, it doesn’t exist anymore to them. If you are living it yourself, it feels like the only thing that exists and it feels like there is no time for anything else. You eat it, breathe it, feel it, and it becomes so much a part of you that it can be hard to remember a time before it. Time management is definitely a skill to hone as a caregiver.

In this whole process, if I were to summarize what my biggest struggles have been as a caregiver, I would say lack of stamina. Since having been in the hospital myself, lack of stamina and energy has taken a huge tole on me. In addition to that, while they were intubating me in the hospital to put me on a ventilator I sustained encephalopathy (acquired brain injury). This additional medical hurdle has caused a great deal of fatigue and thrust me on my own recovery journey. Guilt weighs heavily on me that I am not doing enough. That in and of itself is exhausting.

In January/February 2022, we all ended up getting COVID 19 that ran through the house. What a crazy ride that was and continues to be in various ways. I still don’t think I am back to 100% from that one yet.

I do make efforts to take care of myself. To escape a bit. To take time out. I truly enjoy reading, gardening, and apparently sleep. I say sleep because it seems I cannot quite get enough of it.

The relationship with my daughter since her injuries has been like a roller coaster. She has endured more than any parent should see their child endure. I am immensely grateful for every moment she is still alive and with us. She continue to amaze and bless me.

What I hope that other takes from my story – our story – is that if we can make it work, then so can you. You will have to sacrifice. You will suffer financially. You will feel scattered, inept, and completely lost at times. Time will slow to a point that it feels that it isn’t even moving at all on some days, weeks, or months. It is important though to stay focused on the progress that happens, no matter how small. Remain victorious. Utilize positive affirmations or prayers to support the sheer exhaustion and unknowns you will surely face.

Above all else, never, ever give up. Hope and Love are the best medicines. Always be gentle with yourself and the one you care for. The person who sustained the trauma will not be the same as before their accident, not in every way. Let me assure you, the caregiver, and those associated with that person won’t be either. Trauma changes people. You must be willing to face this together. You must be willing to have enormous amounts of patience, and be willing to learn.

H O P Ehelping one person excel, even if that person is yourself as a caregiver.

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