Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Updates On The Atlanta Trip - Road Trip 2!!

What a two weeks!  I did not realize that the dryer does not fold clothes and put them on my rack!

First off, Rachael has been working so hard.  Anyone involved with Rachael at the Shepherd Center is encouraged and motivated by Rachael’s desire to work.  There are times where she is near tears working out some of the activities in occupational and physical rehab.  The first time she supported weight on her arms, holding her torso up at a table, YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT she could only do it for 10 minutes.  By week’s end now she did it for almost an hour!  Not only that, things like how she should place her feet, one day it takes her a few minutes, within the week it is nearly instantaneous!   She is standing even taller now with the aid of gear but holding the weight on her foot!  Look how tall she is now!

[caption id="attachment_835" align="alignleft" width="225"]Rachael, sitting up at the table, head up and supported by her arms. Rachael, sitting up at the table, head up and supported by her arms.[/caption]

Today she had a speech therapist review her for communications gear.  Rachael is not yet able to form many words.  She works very hard to do so but the words don’t make it from her head to her mouth.  She is always VERY patient with us figuring out what she says.  Sometimes she just makes a noise to mess with me as I run down a list of questions only to find out from her guffaw that there was nothing said in the first place.  She did this at night when she was not ready to go to bed.  Upon her return home we will be contacting a company about her gear for communications


Nancy is doing great.  She made it home for  the weekend to take Hanna to Secret Keeper Girls at Sarasota Baptist.  It was great for Nancy and Hanna.  On this night they dispelled many of the lies young girls buy into.  They talked about modest attire, how Hollywood makeup fakes such a huge difference by showing stars with and without makeup.  They demonstrated the Photoshop modifications done on pictures of celebrities to remove wrinkles, weight and other things.  Hanna came back so enthused.  It really reinforced what we have been training her up on and provided encouragement to her that we are not “uptight parents” but really care that she continues to present herself as a child of God and not a victim of fashion.  Now if Walmart would sell modest clothes instead of summer shorts that might as well be underwear!  Pay more for less at Walmart.

Thanks to Mary and Mark for endevouoring to take care of Rachael for the time Nancy was gone.  I know she enjoyed her fudge icecream brownie thing from Chille's.

[caption id="attachment_836" align="alignleft" width="225"]Rachael standing with the aide of gear (she does not yet have the 'core strength' to support herself standing. Rachael standing with the aide of gear.  She does not yet have the 'core strength' to support herself standing.[/caption]

Hanna and I will leave Thursday and head out to Atlanta with Aunt Mary’s car. ROAD TRIP!! Mary lives in NC and we are saving her the trip back down here just to go back up there.  Nancy, Rachael, Hanna and I will travel back to Venice.

So to all of you that have prayed, to all of you that have donated, your care is being demonstrated in Rachael’s opportunity to go to Shepherd and the amazing results!  Thank you ever so much for being the vessel God used to be glorified through Rachael!



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updates On The Atlanta Trip

First off I uploaded the pics yesterday with no explanation. My apologies as I was so excited and sent them right from my phone.  The iPhone app did not let me type text for the picture. 

 One of the milestones that will assist Rachael in her healing is if she can bear weight on her feet.  Being that her upper body strength is weak due to 2 years of either being in a wheelchair or in a bed, she needs support to begin to bear the weight on her feet.   The contraption she is in provides support for her upper body and support for her knees so that she does not slip out of the device.  in the pictures, her body weight is not supported at the knees, most of the weight is on her feet!

So, she is bearing weight on her feet.  This is a major deal.  You will notice a sneaker on her right foot in the pics.  That is the first time that she has had a sneaker on since the accident.  We wish to thank Dr. Oneil at Kennedy White for his artistic work in straightening out Rachael's feet.  He really did and incredible job. 

We are all very excited about what Rachael is learning at Shepherd.  They often speak directly to her and not through her mom.  Nancy has already been given some helpful information. 

They use the ball to stretch out her muscles and help her to regain some sense of place and balance.
They use the ball to stretch out her muscles and help her to regain some sense of place and balance.
To Nancy's merit, they praised her for taking care to stretch Rachael's legs out so that she did not contracture or permanatley stiffen up. They have told her that Rachael's healing window is wide and slow. She is still on the mend.

Today they did some ball work with Rachael, stretching her out on a ball.  Tomarrow she will get intense botox therapy which should help losen up the muscles. 

They are working on the best avenue for communication.




[caption id="attachment_828" align="alignleft" width="225"]Using stretch techniqes including adding a light weight to her lower legs, the gang at Shepherd have gotten the both legs nearly straight. Using stretch techniqes including adding a light weight to her lower legs, the gang at Shepherd have gotten the both legs nearly straight.[/caption]

Her legs are straightening out well in therapy.  Normal practice is to push down on the knee.  At Shepherd what they do is put weight on the feet or calves and the leg lowers to a straighter point much more easily. 



Her eyes are the big question.  It is again not known exactly what she can or can not see.  They are attempting to find a 'low vision' opthamologist.  They work with folks like Rachael to learn just what they see.  We do know she can tell light and dark as well as objects passing in the front of a light.  We are not sure what else she can see.

Hanna and I will be traveling next Thursday Lord willing.  Aunt Mary, who lives in NC, left her car here so we are going up to take it to her and then drive Nancy and the girls home. 

Tonight they had a great time hearing Sweet Brown on YouTube and Rachael thought it was hilarious. 
So Rachael is doing great and working hard.  Not a lot of down time.  'Ain't nobody got time for that!'

Rachael's Legs After Therapy


Rachael On The Ball


Sunday, February 17, 2013

"We Are The Norm Here!"


" I am excited to be somewhere where we are the norm."  That is what Nancy said after settling in from the trip.  The place is like "handicap Disneyland" with easy access and no awkward glances.  "No body is staring at you because everyone has someone like Rachael."

They just got a taste of it tonight but the full course is served up tomorrow when they go to the center.  She has already met another family there, a newly married couple that just celebrated their one year anniversary.  A few months ago, the young man, age 22, had concrete fall on him an broke his neck.
In a place like Shepherd, every anonymous greeter passing in a hall, every back you face at the coffee shop, every car in the lot that brought them here represents some association with a Traumatic Brain Injury.  Though strangers, there is a hidden tether tied to tragedy that connects to each heart, forming a community of commonality whose members have no creed, no handshake or secret code, they simply know.

Awkward glances are left behind with the ambulatory, moving about with the blessing of options and the choice to look away from the harsh realities that limp or wheel by them in public.  They so quickly take the thought captive of how very fragile a human life is.  Such a thing as mortality and health are worthy to ponder.

13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. 
James 4:13-15

Left behind are those glances, in exchange for a compassionate and knowing glance.  A glance chiseled from the experience that brought them to the Center.

Most at the Center are familiar with that few days after the incident, not knowing if there loved one was to live or die.  They recall the hollow fear and foreboding darkness that strikes when 'reality' sets in as to the extent of the injury.  They are familiar with that crux of faith where it is determined if their faith is real or not or if it is just then being defined.  They are familiar with the cataclysmic realignment of 'the norm'.  All plans change from the point of injury and there will no longer be any real days off for the family.  Even when away it is present in mind and heart.
These folks know this.  It is their lives, TOO!  Nancy, Rachael and Mary will be a part of this special population on Monday.

Think about this...  To simply scratch an itch, click a mouse, turn the head, all are miracles.  Yet, to the failing of our race, most of these gifts of sight, of movement, of walking, are used for Godless diversions, the result of their ability to choose.  The majority of our fair land would rather play a video game with their phalanges than turn a page in the Word of the creator that made the thumbs on their hands.

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

If you want to be thankful for the voluntary movement of your limbs, for speech, for sight, meet someone who has a broken brain.  Hang with the caretakers for a few days to see what is involved with the 3 hour ritual of getting that person that "looks good in spite of their condition" prepared to look good in spite of their condition.   Help them clean that person up after the normal bodily function of elimination.  Listen to the moans of pain from cramped muscles just to get a shirt over their head and a foot into a pant leg.  It is not something the average person will see in their lifetime and praise God for that.  Yet, it is the path chosen for some.  At the Shepherd Center, they all converge.

There are enough people suffering from TBI to put someone on a 2 month waiting list at Shepherd.  In Sarasota alone there are several new cases a week that enter the ICU with a brain injury.  What a blessing for Nancy and Rachael to see so many others that really know what it is like.  Both Nancy and Rachael are excited for the week ahead.  I wish I could be with them, Hanna too.  Yet we have our job here.

Last weekend we went to Special Touch Ministries a ministry that reaches out to those suffering from a variety of brain damage issues and their caregivers.   They gathered at Nokomis and it was a blast.  In that room for a few hours I felt that we were the norm.  Like a brother or sister in Christ, you know the people that you have not met yet.  That was a precursor, a sample really, of what Nancy and Rachael are getting this week.

In Atlanta, a city filled with the choice of so many things to do with your limbs, your eyes and ears, there is a place where the purveyors of diversion have no marketplace.  Where the mundane to the families of the patients would be crisis to someone on the outside.   There is a place where people bound to wheelchairs, with limited to no movement and reliant upon total care by another and their family can go and say "We are the norm here"  Thank you Jesus for this opportunity.

To the praise of His glory we have seen many things along this path so far.  We have see our deepest sorrows removed, our anger dissolved with peace and joy as the backfill.  We have found a renewed strength and purpose behind what is viewed as tragedy but like the story of Joseph, all that he went through was for the good.

That is a small test of faith right there.  Can you see where this tragedy like Rachael's is for the good?  Can you really feel the Glory to God in all of this.  Read back over the events that led up to today.  Look for the nuggets, they are there.  My Lord promises that what the enemy met for evil is for the good to those who believe.  Remember, just saying you believe is not enough.  Believing that really good people go to heaven is not true.  Their is a response that God does require of us to His offer of grace.  Even the option to believe is grace, but limited to the grave.  Acceptance of His grace is eternal.  Jesus Christ can change a heart!  Jesus Christ can turn sorrows to joy!  Jesus Christ can renew strength and spirit as a way of life and not a temporary uplift like a spiritual cup of coffee.   There are so many riches in life from Christ that we spend our lives chasing with better jobs, investments, purchases and plans.  The only plan, the first plan is Jesus Christ.  He will fill the needs in us that we try to fill ourselves.  Then your feet will walk up to the suffering and bless them, then your eyes will have a knowing glance even if you do not go through 'it', then your hands will open that love letter from God, the Bible.  Then you will see that our bodies are made to worship in all we do.  Put down the game, put down the remote and open the book that contains the very thoughts of God, your creator!

Please pray again that there will be enough response from Rachael to keep her up there for a few weeks.  I don't want my wife to be away.  I don't like the lack of added life Rachael brings to the house.  Yet, we want to see some neat things happen.  Pray for the opportunities to share Christ to those whose hearts that God has already prepared to hear.

To His Glory,




On The Road Again! - Shepherd Center

We got the call!  On Wednesday, firmed up on Thursday, we got the green light from Shepherd for Rachael to go up for rehab.  Nancy's sister Mary drove down from NC to ride up to Atlanta with the girls.  They left today at about 12 noon.  They will be there for at least a week.  Then week by week they evaluate Rachael's progress.  We are able to take this step in a great part due to the generosity of many people over the past 2 years.  Rachael has a trust fund and the monies in it are used for her quality of life.  This is not a low cost venture and praise God for folks that helped along the way.  Thank you!

I just spoke to Nancy and they are approaching Atlanta.  It is chilly up there tonight!  They had a great trip up and Rachael is having a blast.  She loves a road trip.  On Friday she wanted Nancy to go over all the details of what was happening and when.  Rachael likes to know where and when she is going someplace.  Once she has that info we all better be on a path to an early arrival of whatever the destination or our sweet Rachael will let you know you need to pick up the pace!  Before the accident she was always early where she had to go and the first one ready to leave if we were going as a group.

Please pray for great success for Rachael and opportunities to share the Lord with some new folks.

This morning our house was an adrenaline factory.  Loud, fast and structured chaos.  Tonight, Hanna is at her cousins and I, our dog Joy and Cuddles the Cat have the quiet run of the house.  I don't like it a bit.  All that stuff about how great it is to be alone,  "hey, you got some time by yourself.." is a lie from the pit.  To me anyway.  Probably due to my many years of bachelorhood, I have seen the other side and I love it here!!  I miss Nancy already and it has only been a few hours.  This place is so quiet you can here the pin fall before it drops!  The quiet...I realized I have a ringing in my ear.   Probably self inflicted!

So please keep them in your prayers.  Rachael will go through intensive 1/2 day rehab sessions as they decide on what area's to focus on for her best benefit.  As long as she continues to show growth she will be up there.  She could be there for as long as 3 weeks.  As I get photos and updates, I will post them here.

Praise God from whom all blessing flow!