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Thread: Triumphs and "Our Story"

  1. #1

    Triumphs and "Our Story"

    Just wanted to share a bit of my family's story. I have two messages I shared with friends - one that explains the "what happened" and one that has my "best moment" with my dad since the accident. I know they probably have a lot of similarities to what many of you are going through or have already been through. I have learned so much in going through all of this. While I would "give it back" in a heartbeat, it helps for me to look back on the events to date and see just how far we've come.

    For those of you working towards healing and regaining movement or those who are pretty settled into their "After SCI" lives, enjoy the read, and know just how much the "rest of us" appreciate every little gain you have.

    First one, sent July 7th, 2005:

    For those of you who have asked - I'll answer everyone at once....

    Two and a half weeks ago, my dad was in a horrible
    car accident - the garbage truck won, and the driver of it who felt the
    need to cut the corner and come across to the wrong side of the road
    came out of it without a scratch.............. walked out of the truck...

    Papa on the other hand had the entire driver's side of his brand new
    pickup truck for work sheared off like a buzz saw sliced the edge
    off..... he hit forward into the truck, backwards into the mountain, and then sideways into the trailer the trash truck was towing down the mountain, and had to be cut out of the truck with jaws of life.... when people from his work went to take pictures of the truck, they said they don't understand how a person could even come out of the truck in one piece, much less alive...... we asked his co-worker what the truck looked like, and he said "I will tell you one thing, and one thing only. Your dad
    had Someone with him that day."

    On top of all that? Jeremy (my little brother who's 21, an EMT and
    volunteer firefighter) worked the crash scene..... thank goodness they put
    him on traffic control and didn't tell them it was Papa until he was
    stabilized in the ambulance, and gave him only a second with him before
    taking him to the launch pad for the life flight helicopter to take him
    down the mountain.

    Just so you have some idea of what we're dealing with.... Papa is very
    active in the community. He volunteers with the Lion's Club and also
    does Civil Air Patrol with Jeremy. They join search and rescue missions
    for anyone whose plane goes down - it doesn't matter how sick he is,
    how much sleep he's had, or how he's feeling, what's on his schedule...
    if a plane goes down and that beeper goes off, Papa gets up and goes,
    sometimes even taking time off work to do it. He also teaches teenagers
    and adults across the U.S. how to do Search & Rescue as well as Recoveries - his accident happened five days before he and Jeremy were to fly out to Indiana to teach this year's Search And Rescue school for Civil Air Patrol.

    So far, here's what we're working with:

    His left arm is broken in six places. They've done surgery to set,
    pin, and plate the bones.

    He has a broken neck. A few nights ago they put a "Halo" on him, and screwed it into his skull to immobilize his spine.

    He's had a grand mal seizure and a stroke. Half of his brain stem is
    damaged, the part that controls motor skills, heart rate and breathing.

    They've told us he will most likely never walk again, or move his
    arms/legs, be able to care for himself, and may be unable to talk - the
    doctors are saying he is most likely paralyzed from the neck down.

    He is on a ventilator and so far still can't breathe independently -
    this, too may be permanent.

    So far, his heart is going strong, without any artificial assistance.

    They've put a permanent Trach. in, as well as a Gastro tube to feed

    As for his mind/personality, he is totally "there".... the same Papa we
    know and love, the same gentleness and sweetness and love shining in
    his eyes, which is both a blessing and a curse. We're so happy he's
    there, and so sad that he's dealing with all of this, that he is in so much
    pain, and that he may never again have the lifestyle he has loved so

    His spirit is strong, and his will to be here is amazing - I have no
    doubt that if he didn't want to be here, we would have lost him days ago.
    He is still fighting hard to live, and we are not giving up on him. It amazes me that even now, he can get me laughing by something he mouths to me, or an expression on his face.

    My mom is having a very tough time - Papa has always been the provider, and she has always stayed home to raise and teach the children - my littlest brother, Gabriel, is only 8. My parents are in their early-to-mid 50's, so they're still pretty young too.

    We have so many people praying, and I think that is what is getting all
    of us through this very difficult situation right now.

    Ever hear the saying "There are times we unknowingly entertain angels among us" ?

    Well, the other night a lady came up and asked if I knew my dad, or was part of the family.... she was a tiny little thing, probably in her late
    60's..... I told her yes, it was my papa........ she mentioned that she lived
    near Palm Springs, and agonized over whether she should come over or
    not, but finally decided she really needed to come. She told me that
    when her husband's plane went down, my dad was the only one who never stopped looking. Long after everyone else gave up, my dad found her husband, and even though he wasn't able to bring him back alive, it meant so much to her that he still brought her husband home to her, so he could be at peace. She told me she would never stop praying until my daddy was home, gave me a hug, and left...... I don't know who she was, I
    don't know her name.... she just needed to tell me that before she went to
    bed. I can't even begin to tell you how much that meant to me. It makes me cry every single time I tell the story.

    There have been so many ups and downs, and I am constantly on the verge of bawling. Through it all, I feel the power of prayer and the comfort of knowing we're not dealing with this alone, and that my dad is
    fighting hard because he wants to be here.

    Hug your kids and your loved ones closer, spend a little extra time with your parents..... you just never know.

    ~ Moe

    Second one, sent August 6th, 2005:

    Hello loved ones,

    Time for another update - I have a feeling this is going to be a long one. My thoughts are full tonight...

    They haven't done Papa's pacemaker yet - the medical team working with him decided to do their due diligence and make sure it wasn't the different medications he was on that was causing his blood pressure and heart rate to drop. After a few days of studying him without those medications known to cause low blood pressure and heart rates, they've decided (99.8% sure - hehe) that they're going to be transferring him to another hospital on Monday to install the pacemaker. After he's stable, they'll bring him back to Rancho Los Amigos - we'll keep you posted if and when it does happen.

    I had my "Papa Day" today - the last few Friday nights, Mama has been heading home after visiting hours are over instead of coming to my house like she usually does. She runs her errands in the morning, checks her mail box, goes to the bank, and does all the little things she puts off all week while I get to visit with Papa and have the early half of the day with him all to myself.

    Last Saturday went well until midafternoon, and then was sheer hell - there are no other words to describe the pain and the agony Papa went through, or my terror in watching him slip and the halo come off his head, or the helplessness I felt when I couldn't do a thing to save him or fix it. (It happened when I was there, and Mama arrived shortly afterwards.)

    Well, this Saturday started out wonderfully, and the afternoon was a polar opposite of last week. As soon as visiting hours started, I traipsed up to the SCU to say good morning to Papa. He was looking well, and smiling when I walked in. I had my arms full - I came loaded with letters and emails, his laptop, cd's full of pictures, and some movies I thought he might enjoy.

    We spent the morning reading through emails and looking at pictures new and old. I found nine rolls of film in a box I was sorting through; I had them developed last night onto CD-roms, and it was like opening a time capsule. There were pictures of Gabriel when he was under a year old, and Papa, Mama, Jeremy, Kris, Missy, Uncle Bill and girls, Dalton and Carson as babies, Grandpa and Grandma, and pictures of my two as babies in Germany. We had fun looking through them. I read the latest emails and letters from everyone a few times, and we had a great talk going through the morning.

    Papa spent quite a while exercising - he can "pedal" his feet up and down, open and close his knees, and is getting better at moving his fingers and arms. With support, he was able to flex his arms a few times - when I held his forearm up he was able to bring his hand towards his face and was being silly with me pretending like he was trying to suck his thumb and he had me cracking up, I was laughing sooooo hard. He has such a great sense of humor! He is also working on picking up a rolled washcloth - exercising completely wears him out, but he pushes himself and works really hard. It is great to see, and I keep telling him how proud I am of him, and what a fantastic job he's doing.

    I am soooo impressed with his progress so far. He told me that he gets frustrated that he can't do more sometimes, that he wants to be able to walk and talk already, and wants to start more intense therapy. I reminded him that he has already made incredible strides - when this whole thing began, there was a time we didn't know if he would ever wake up or move at all, and that it has only been a little over six weeks since the accident. He just nodded and smiled - probably a good thing to be reminded of now and then.

    Right around lunch time, Papa's nurse came in and asked if he'd like to sit in his wheelchair for a while. (He sat in his wheelchair yesterday, for the first time since the mishap last Saturday.) He mouthed to her that it would be fine. After she left, I asked him if he was worried or really wanted to try it again - he told me that he wanted to, and if I would stay in there with him, he would try it. I commented that it was how he's always been - never one to stay off the horse if it throws him, he tends to get right back up in the saddle and try it again. He grinned and said we'd do it together.

    The transfer went beautifully - the staff was careful and cautious and took every precaution to make sure that no mistakes were made. Papa sat in his chair for two hours (wooohoooo! that's a long time for him, he gets tired pretty easily), and while he was there we watched golf together and talked a little more. I told him I have a friend at work who said his daughter never really talked to him about her thoughts or anything else that was private, and how glad I was that I could always talk to him about anything - it's never mattered what it was, he has always been there to listen and offer advice if I wanted it.

    Mama and Gabe got there about halfway through the "chair time" and we all sat with him, visited, and caught up on the morning's events.

    After they transferred him back (perfectly again, no problems YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I was, and I'm sure Papa was too), we looked at some more of the picture cd's and showed Gabriel what a cute baby he was. We had a great visit and even managed to get Papa laughing a few times.

    About half an hour before visiting hours ended, Papa said he wanted to hug Gabriel. Mama lowered the rail on his left side and helped him pick up his left arm, and Gabriel laid across his chest. Papa brought his right arm over to Gabe's shoulder and patted him slowly with his left hand - I had to step behind Mama to wipe moist eyes. Both of them were just soooo happy to be hugging. I guess yesterday Papa told Gabriel he wished he could hug him, so Mama told him she would help, and yesterday was their first hug.

    After Gabe it was Mama's turn - as he held her and gently patted, I had to step around to the other side of the bed - tears streaming uncontrollably at this point at the simple beauty of my parents' embrace. I know how much they have missed the hugs they usually share every day. I don't remember a single night growing up that Papa didn't bend to kiss Mama's forehead and hug her when he came home after work and she met him from wherever she was in the house - something they have always done.

    In one of my self-pitying moments early on before Papa woke up, I remember some of the thoughts and worries I had - that I would never see his eyes, or his smile again, or be able to talk to him, or hear him laugh, or hug him, or all of those things that I so love about my daddy. My cousin Carl doesn't know this, but the first time he hugged me in the hospital after the accident it was a mixture of overwhelming grief and joy for me, because Carl hugs like my papa does. It was such a gift for me, and he hugged me tight and I cried on his shoulder and knew I would always have Papa's hug in a small way through him, no matter what else happened.

    Mama stood up and told me it was my turn - I hedged, wiping my eyes, pretending to be strong and tough and told her I would tell him goodbye in a minute, but that wasn't to last long. Papa mouthed "come on, come over here" and that was all it took. Just like when I was a little girl, I leaned over him, rested my head on his chest, and he brought his right hand over to my head and softly rubbed my hair, squeezed me with his left arm and patted my back as I sobbed in his arms - it was uncontrollable, and I couldn't stop crying - tears of sheer and utter joy. Let me tell you, that is the best, most incredible hug I have ever gotten in my whole life.

    Hope you had kleenex handy.

    That's the best news I've been able to share with you yet.

    My papa hugged me tonight.

    Love you guys,

    ~ Moe

    "LIVE every moment.... LAUGH every day.... and LOVE beyond words...."

    Last edited by Mrapunzel; 09-26-2005 at 02:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Thank you Moe. That was very heart-warming! It sounds like you have a wonderful family and I hope and pray that your Dad gets through this ok. What a great and caring daughter you are too! I know that your Dad and your Mom appreciate all that you do for them.

    Good Luck to all of you, and I wish your Father a good recovery.


  3. #3
    Senior Member Obieone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Thank you for sharing your story Mrapunzal ! Such powerful emotions we feel when we are launched on this sci journey ... it's good to read a good news story. I hope things continue to improve for your Dad and you all ... and yes I believe there are Angels among us both seen and unseen .. sounds to me like maybe your Dad earned his own set of wings many times over during the course of his career .. perhaps some of that is coming back to him now. Stay strong!


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