|11-30-2003, 08:42 AM||#1|
Ensmingers count blessings everyday
Ensmingers count blessings everyday
By ANGELA M. HAUSER
The Ensminger family is grateful this Thanksgiving not only for the progress Cord has made since his accident this summer, but for the outpouring of love from the community.
Cord and Candice Ensminger credit their trust in God, family ties and prayer to help them weather the past few months.
Cord has always worked on the family farm with his father and grandfather, Bob and Buck Ensminger.
"Dad, Grandpa and I met at Dad's house that morning," Cord remembers. "We ate breakfast then went to work. I was cutting trees. We took a water break, then went back to work. I cut a tree and something went wrong. I didn't get out of the way when the tree fell. We had a cell phone in the truck and Dad called Mom and told her to call an ambulance. Dad told Grandpa to get the truck. I felt my legs but I could not feel them. I thought they were broke and I told dad not to move me."
Candice was at home with their 18-month old son, Drew, when Cord's grandmother called.
"I was shaking and I stopped to pray," said Candice. "I went to see Cord and his feet were laying against a tree. I was thankful his life did not end, and he was still here. He was very calm and we prayed together until the paramedics arrived."
An ambulance and a helicopter arrived. Candice rode with Cord in the helicopter to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. Cord was conscious the entire time.
At the hospital Cord had an MRI to determine what was wrong.
"They put me in traction as there were no broken bones," said Ensminger. "The C7 vertebrae had shifted forward and the hospital hoped traction would pull it back but it did not work. On July 4 I had back fusion surgery so it would not slip forward again. All they did was wire it in place, there was no bone fracture."
Three weeks later Ensminger was sent to the Institute for Research and Rehabilitation in Houston for therapy.
"TIR was originally used to treat patients with polio," said Candice Ensminger. "Now they treat patients with spinal or brain injuries or stroke."
"I has basic intensive rehabilitation," said Cord. "I could not get up and it was hard to lift my legs."
"They taught Cord the requirements for daily living so he could be as independent as possible," said Candice.
Cord was on a respirator at first while in physical therapy. A spinal cord injury can keep one from using the stomach muscles and diaphragm to breathe properly. He got enough muscle back to breathe without help but he still had no feeling in part of his hands and arms.
"He had one hour of occupational therapy and one hour of physical therapy every day," said Candice.
Cord practiced fine motor skills people use every day with their hands. He exercised every day to build back muscle.
"I only had 20-pound grip strength," said Cord. "A normal man my size has 120. When I left I had 75 pound grip strength. I could not feel my back, shoulders or neck. When I left I had 100 percent above injury level and I could feel some things. I was depressed at times, it was so overwhelming just to get out of bed. There were educational classes on dealing with depression. TIR is a faith oriented hospital. On the first night a doctor told me to depend on God to do the healing, and they will send the bill. I turned to God to help me deal with it, and I also had a lot of family support."
Ensminger said the periods of depression or sadness were brief as they turned their problems and their trust over to God.
Family members and friends came and went constantly so there were always shoulders to lean on and people to help. The Ensmingers received cards and letters daily from people in Beauregard Parish. Many of the churches had prayer chains going that began when news of Cord's accident began to circulate.
The helicopter ride to the hospital was 15 minutes and by the time it arrived friends in Lake Charles for the day had heard the news and went to the hospital immediately and began to pray.
"There was a crowd there within an hour," said Candice. "My twin works at US Unwired and watched for the helicopter to see what hospital it would go to. She got into her car and was there before I could finish dialing her number. Friends from church and neighbors came. My Dad is a Gideon fellow and the Gideons came.
"It was overwhelming," said Cord. "There was such an outpouring of prayer, concern, love and food. So many people asked to help."
People brought food, offered to clean their home, help with the farm, offered money, churches held auctions, and the prayer chains continued. DeRidder High School, where Cord has been assistant principal the last three years, sold 2100 barbecue dinners.
"They had to stop taking orders at that point," said Candice. "It took them 12 hours to cook it all. People from all over Beauregard and Vernon parishes bought dinners."
The Ensmingers were awed by the response of the community.
Cord has pool therapy two days a week at Physical Therapy Services in Leesville. He continues his rehab at home thanks to his family.
"My Dad built a stand with with a frame I can stand in," he said. "he also built a wooden mat to stretch on. I can now do push ups on my knees and leg lifts. I can sit and pull my legs up but it takes me 20 minutes. I have to rest my muscles. The doctors said there is an 18-month timeframe where I could get a lot back. I go back to TIR on Dec. 9 for a checkup to determine the therapy. I have completed Phase 1 and there are two more phases. We'll have to wait and see what happens. My Lake Charles surgeon said the sky is the limit, but no one can tell what will happen."
At first Cord could not cough or sneeze without a doctor pushing on his stomach. Now he can do this on his own. He said this has made the small things in life important, and he is thankful.
The Ensmingers will drive to Candice's grandmother's house in Alexandria for Thanksgiving dinner.
"This is a tradition for the three of us," said Candice. "My cousins, aunts and uncles have been keeping up with Cord's progress through e-mail. We are looking forward to seeing everyone."
There is much to be thankful for this year for the Ensminger family.
"On the day of the accident when we were waiting to hear news we were comforted by all the prayers we knew were being said on Cord's behalf," said Candice. "It was encouraging to hear of the prayer circles. Our faith and fellowship are what gets us through."
"The people of Beauregard Parish have been loving towards our family," said Cord. "People have really reached out in any way they could. This is a very special place to live."
"Yes it is," agreed Candice.
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