I realized that when this new site is finally introduced, I had better have an update written and ready to post. Plus, I have really missed writing, so let that serve as a warning that this post may be rather lengthy.
So, what’s been happening? Well, remember those new leaves I wrote about? We’ve been turning more than one.
In October, we were able to visit Danny’s brother in south Georgia as a surprise for his nephew’s birthday. It was a trip filled with many firsts; first road trip, stay in a hotel, and nights away from Corbin as he stayed with his cousins.
The trip down was fun and uneventful. The most difficult thing being that I had to squeeze as much in my car as possible. Thankfully, Danny’s parents also made the trip later in the day and were able to bring what I couldn’t fit.
The hotel was alright; not exactly what we needed, but it worked. First of all, it was a handicap room which meant little more than there were grab bars around the toilet, it had a roll in shower and only one bed. So, without the conveniences of home, Danny and I were transferring from his chair in/out of bed, on/off a regular toilet and on/off the shower bench.
A little background might be necessary so you ladies can get the full picture. I know you men just want the headline. Anyway, Danny is typically hoisted into the air by a sling attached to a hoyer lift. The lift has wheels and you simply wheel him over the bed or over his chair and then release the valve lowering him wherever you need him to be. While he is capable of transferring with the walker or holding onto you, lifting him is sometimes safer for him and for you.
Also, Danny has a combination shower/potty wheelchair so it’s easy to just wheel him over the toilet or into the shower.
Thus, being without the hoyer lift or the shower/potty chair made things a bit more time consuming. It was a learning experience and we learned that a toilet seat is not so comfortable when you have no butt and it makes cleaning difficult (sorry, honey). We also learned that we don’t sleep when we’re laying in a queen size bed. Since Danny can’t scoot himself over, it just doesn’t work.
But, the most important thing we learned is that we CAN go places and make it work. It was exciting considering the Christmas vacation from hell a couple years ago.
When we returned from south GA, we had two fundraisers to attend; the golf tournament and the benefit ride. The tournament went alright, but to be honest, it was our poorest attendance to date. I think we had about 14 golfers and raised about $1000. However, we did thankfully receive donations from people that could not play, but wanted to contribute and that made up for the lack of attendance at the tournament.
The coolest thing though happened at the benefit ride. During registration, Danny sat near the table while I ran after Corbin who was busy finding sticks and leaves. A friend who was nearby called me over to Danny where a man was speaking to him. This man turned out to be the first officer on Danny’s accident scene. I burst into tears and introduced myself and fell all over the place thanking him for his help. Officer Bill said he remembered everything from the scene, but the most impactful bit of insight he had was that he told Danny that he didn’t think he was going to make it. And, for some reason, while Danny has heard how serious the accident and his injuries were from me and his parents, it hit him harder coming from Officer Bill. Officer Bill and Danny are now email buddies and we even got a great picture of the two of them at the ride. See the photo gallery from October.
Another first at the end of October was that I got roped into training at Beyond Therapy. One Friday, during Danny’s walking session, I became his therapist. Basically, he controlled the walker and I walked behind him with a hand on his gait belt that is around his chest. I coached him in straightening his knees, when to shift his weight and how to mind the walker. The therapists were still right there, but they were impressed with how well we did. So, we got another green light in life.
In early November, we lowered our bed foundation so that we could transfer using the walker rather than the hoyer lift. Danny uses the walker to walk about six steps to the edge of the bed and then pivots to position himself to sit down. To get out of bed, he uses the walker to walk about seven steps to the wall and then I place the shower/potty chair mentioned earlier behind him. The mornings are a bit difficult as his body is still waking up and the legs are a bit tight. Come to think of it, I’m a bit off balanced in the morning too. So, Danny does a few warm up stands before he is ready to walk to the wall.
It’s kind of a relief to know that we might be able to get rid of the hoyer
beast lift soon especially when you read what other leaf Danny turned over.
On Monday, the 14th, Danny used the walker and walked a lap around the basketball court without ANY assistance. Don’t fret as the therapists were there if he needed them, but it was awesome to hear. I asked Danny if he was a little bit excited and he answered me with about an inch between his thumb and forefinger. Personally, I was very proud of him and think he should be excited.
Turn, turn, turn, turn. Last Friday, the 11th, Danny was put through a ringer of testing and not physically, but mentally. We met with the neuropsychologist who explained the purpose of the testing and what we hope to learn from the results. Basically, they admininstered tests revolving around problem solving, decision making, listening and comprehending, reaction time, etc. The results will show where Danny’s strengths and weaknesses are and how to play up the strengths and work to improve the weaknesses. He told us it was to help us think about what lies beyond Beyond Therapy; how can we take the results and place them into work/life experiences to help Danny find his new place in the world.
As my faithful readers will know, Danny is his own worst critic and worst enemy. He is self discouraging and feels less than valuable. Dr. M feels that Danny needs to place himself out there and find something outside of our family, outside of therapy and something that would help him feel like he is contributing. I don’t have a degree, but I could have told him that. We meet with him and Dr. Kaelin in January to hear the results. It should prove to be quite interesting.
Dr. M told me a few things that I honestly didn’t want to hear and that I really don’t know what to do with. I don’t have a file for these things, these predictions or suppositions. Most of us going through stress tend to take it out on the ones closest to us and Danny is no different in that regard. The difference though is that he sometimes says things that really hurt me or he says inappropriate things in front of Corbin or acts inappropriately. And, the hardest thing for me to try to cope with is that this is considered normal behavior following a brain injury. And, while I call it the happy psycho place that Danny goes to in these outbursts, the reality is that he isn’t crazy at all. He is just without filter and at times, without reason.
Like I said, I don’t have a file to put this in my brain and accept. Where is the line? Is there one? Where do I draw it? I get hurt and try as I might, it seems impossible to separate the head and the heart. If it were only me, it might be different, but Corbin is in the midst and he is now old enough to remember and to know that something isn’t right. How do I teach him that Danny is his father and authority when there are times that I have to mother Danny like I mother Corbin? How do I teach Corbin that it isn’t right for him to yell or to be disrespectful when Danny is those things at times? It’s inconsistent and I don’t know how to create the consistency that Corbin needs.
At times, I feel like I’m being pushed towards a choice; a choice that seems impossible to make. Do I stay or do I go? And, I know that these feelings are coming from the darker corners of my mind but as time goes by, they are there more often and getting closer to the surface. Like I said, it’s like I’m being pushed.
Danny asked me the other night if I was unhappy. I told him that if I look at the circumstances of our reality that I can easily be unhappy and scared. That is why I have to look to the Lord and keep my eyes on Him. I know that is the good Christian thought process and although true, I can admit that there are a lot of times that my eyes are not fixed on Jesus. Remember that pit I wrote about months ago? I still feel like we’re stuck there, even with all these new physical improvements, we’re still there battling Satan for Danny’s mind. Like I have written before, I can deal with physical stuff, but the behavioral and cognitive stuff is the worst. What if Danny’s behavior doesn’t change? What do I do?
Danny told me that if I had known it was going to take this long, I probably would have left at the start. My answer to that is this; that in the midst of such tragedy, you put your head down and push through with new hope that each day would bring change and that one day you realize it’s four years down the road and you still need to keep your head down. There is no way that anyone can know how long this journey is going to last. What if I leave and miss the blessing of Danny’s restoration? I don’t know when it’s coming, but with faith, hope and love in my heart, I have to believe there are better days ahead. I don’t have a choice but to put my head down in prayer and believe in the One who created me, who created Danny and most importantly, created the greatest blessing of Corbin and trust Him that He is going to finish the work that was started. When I don’t have any answers to any questions, there is but one; Jesus.
Please continue to pray for Danny’s FULL restoration body, mind and spirit. Also, pray for Corbin that through all the confusion, he would learn right and wrong and have the security of his parents’ love. Lastly, as always, pray for me as I deal with all the issues that come with life on a normal basis and in our not so normal lives.
God bless all of you this holiday season and thank you for all your support throughout the year.