6th Anniversary: Traumatic Brain Injury

AJ

 

Today I celebrate because today is the 6th anniversary of my son, A.J. being released from the hospital after suffering a severe traumatic brain injury.

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Those eyes. Those cheeks—that I never tired of squeezing when he was little.

A severe traumatic brain injury rocked our world and almost claimed A.J.’s life.

(Original Post is here.)

 

A.J., at age 7, was supposed to be in the P.I.C.U. for at least two weeks…whatever! He was released from the hospital on day 6! This was due to the power of prayer. I placed medical problems on Facebook or his Caringbridge page with specific prayer requests…and then I sat back and watched God answer! Requests such as:

January 1, 2012 – We are still waiting for A.J. to wake up from his surgery that went through the middle of the night to the wee morning hours. (Little did we know; his score on the coma scale was so low that he should not have awakened the same A.J. with the same mental and physical abilities.) It took a couple of days, but he woke up with the same personality and intellect as the boy we took to the New Year’s Eve party before his injury happened just before the stoke of mid-night.

10:30 a.m. January 3, 2011
Please pray for the next half hour to prepare the way for the doctors and techs who will be removing the breathing tube. Pray that the swelling is down and that AJ can breathe on his own so he won’t have to be reintubated.

11:30 a.m. Tube successfully removed

Next up: Please pray for the inter-cranial pressure monitor to be removed. This surgical procedure will take place in A.J.’s room and the environment needs to be sterile. Pray for his vital signs to remain steady and in good range.

Another answered prayer: Removal went well and A.J.’s vitals were super!

Around 2 p.m. – A.J. is crying for a drink of water but due to just having his intubation tube removed; he can’t drink anything for 1-2 days.  (The doctor in the E.R. intubated with an adult size tube which did some temporary damage to A.J.’s throat; and we just noticed, knocked one of his baby teeth out.) The P.I.C.U. doctors said A.J. could asphyxiate on the water so we can only allow him to suck water off of a small sponge.

Late afternoon – A.J. talked the doctors into allowing him water. He’s now allowed sips of water. He is so grateful.

January 4, 2011 – Moved to the neurology floor.

January 4, 2011 – Speech therapist wants to begin therapy; however, A.J. can’t stay awake past the couple of bites of cereal she fed him. It take so much energy to chew. Please pray for him.

A.J. informed me  that he’s ready to start back to school if I’ll take him home from the hospital. Sweet happy tears running down my face.

The physical therapist came in the room to attempt to have A.J. move around, get out of bed and walk. A.J. can’t hold his head up on his own and can’t begin to move his legs around to sit on the edge of the bed. He cannot possibly walk…yet. He needs to begin walking. Please pray about this.

P.M. A.J.’s surgeon came in and with some incentive and motivation A.J. held his head up on his own, swung his legs around to the edge of the bed, and took a walk in the hallway with his doctor who held A.J. under the arms. I could barely see through my tears. There was no explanation for this; except, God answered prayers.

January 5, 2011 – A.J. ate over 2 full bowls of Lucky Charms that his speech therapist gave to him. He was talking like normal, but she was a bit concerned about how he was rapidly changing subjects. We assured her that was perfectly normal for our talkative, verbal to the max. son.

P.M. – A.J.: “I just love talking. I’m in word heaven. I just think a word and it happens.”

January 6, 2011 – Released from the hospital to go home; at least 2 weeks earlier than what doctors anticipated.

Aspects of A.J.’s healing that should have taken weeks or months were, through the power of prayers going up and answers coming down, happening in minutes and hours. Never before had I witnessed anything like it.

I asked God to show me His glory through what He chose to do in A.J.’s life that night while A.J. was on the life flight helicopter.

And our Great Physician did!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ll never tire of it.

Praising God, that is.

He has answered so many prayers in huge, glory making ways! (Original Post is here.)

God is so wise not to allow us to know our future. I cannot imagine how this child would have lived his life had I known what was in store for him. Would I have allowed him out of the house? Would I have bubble wrapped him? I most certainly would have made him wear a bike or baseball helmet AT ALL TIMES!

A.J. 001
Baseball 1 1/2 years later

Today my joy abounds as I recall snapshots my heart has taken of A.J. over the last six years. Snapshots of answered prayers, therapy appointments, fun times, teachable moments, frustrating moments, caring moments, ornery moments, giggles, spiritual growth, church moments, friend moments, a deep thinker who I do not always have an immediate answer for, a boss man who has great potential as I teach him to become a servant leader,  an avid debater (pros and cons), brother moments, tender moments, a young man on his way to only God knows what. My heart if full!

Our family benefited from McDonald’s charity, through the Ronald McDonald room in Children’s Hospital. A.J. ran in a 5K fund-raiser for them three years later and was able to speak to the crowd after the event.

 

 

 

 

 

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Freedom Run for Ronald (McDonald House)

Run-for-Ronald-logo-2014-300x194

A grateful heart…

 

family room

Ronald's kitchen
Ronald’s kitchen

I wish I could find the pictures of our family using the Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The room, staffed by volunteers, offers the families of patients a comfy home-away-from home setting. Friends can drop off meals, marked with the patient’s name, for the patient’s family in Ronald’s fridge; these can be warmed and eaten at the family’s convenience.  The Family Room provides computers with internet access, a T.V., beautiful sofas for lounging, a kitchen, dining table, fully stocked snack and refreshment bar, laundry facilities, toys, books, board games, phone and an immaculately clean bathroom with a hot shower for family members to use.

Family room
Family room

Bleach and a pair of flip-flops could not entice me to use the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit’s shower for patients’ family members. I don’t know how anyone can manage to spray the walls, floor and the outside of the toilet with human waste of almost every kind, but someone did. And did it every day. Nasty!

Don’t get me wrong, we were and are grateful for the hospital, doctors and staff. Some of the best in the world! But some of the visitors had not been taught good bathroom etiquette and the importance of good hygiene.

January 1, 2011- Day after middle of the night brain surgery

 

Our family benefited from McDonald’s charity when my son, A.J., had a severe traumatic brain injury three, almost four, years ago.

Blessed Beyond Measure briefly chronicles A.J.’s hospitalization.

Celebrating an Answered Prayer Again was in celebration of A.J.’s 11th birthday.

Improving by the hour. Day 4
Improving by the hour. Day 4
Day 5
Day 5
About three months later with his puppy, Clancy.

Fast forward to October 2014.

A.J. has been on a mission convincing me that he needs more opportunities to serve others so he can become more like Jesus. He’s looking for ways to be involved in helping, serving and learning. He, better than anyone besides me—his dad—his brother (poor little brother)—and his sister—maybe add a few close friends—okay anyone who knows him, understands his bossy side. But he wants to become a servant leader.

A.J. and Colson have enjoyed participating in the local 40 Days for Life prayer chain the last few years. Recently they began preparing  food platters for Parent University, classes offered to parents who have chosen life. Our church hosts classes where parents can learn positive ways to parent, run a home, and build relationships.  Because of his heart for the unborn, A.J. wanted to run in the pro-LIFErunners 5K on the Katy Trail in Jefferson City, Missouri, but found out he had to be twelve to enter; he’s only eleven.

This led to looking for a local 5K for his first ever running event. I found the Freedom Run on the internet, sponsored by Missouri Baptist University. It was in honor of veterans, and his dad served in Desert Storm as a Marine. Plus it was benefiting the new Ronald McDonald House at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. Perfect! He already held a warm affection for Ronald McDonald because of the Family Room at Children’s Hospital.

Farm Boy signed the two of them up and they began walking and running to prepare for the race. Their goal was for A.J. to finish in under 45 minutes considering the short training time for his first 5K race.

Signed in? Check. T-shirt and bib number? Check. Streeeetch and stretch some more. Check.
Lost in the pack at the start line
Lost in the pack at the start line
Start!
He’s so excited that he runs 13 minutes without walking.
Excited! Feeling nothing but positive thoughts about running this for the Ronald McDonald House.
Excited! Feeling nothing but positive thoughts about running this for the Ronald McDonald House.
Colson and I are waiting at the finish line. The race began at MOBAP and finished at the new Ronald McDonald House.
Introducing the Ronald McDonald House at Mercy Hospital.
Introducing the Ronald McDonald House at Mercy Hospital.
36 minutes. He beat his goal.
36 minutes. He beat his goal.
Carbs and fruit for the runners.
Carbs and fruit for the runners.
He said he never once regretted the race, was only happy, and wants to help out next year.
He said he never once regretted the race, was only happy, and wants to help out next year.

He also hopes to run without walking next year.

One last surprise of the morning. He was put on the spot and invited to the podium to briefly tell his story about being in the hospital. It was purely by chance that the organizer found out about A.J.

A.J. had his serious face on as he explained he had a brain injury and that the Ronald McDonald room and staff helped his family while they stayed with him in the hospital. He ended by thanking them.

A.J. made me promise that I would not post the video on social media.

I promised.

 

Happy Veteran’s Day to the brave, honorable and loved men and women who have served and presently serve our beloved nation, the United States of America. Thank you!

Oorah! (For Farm Boy)

 

 

 

Celebrating an Answered Prayer—Again

AJ

And He did!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ll never tire of it.

Praising God, that is.

He has answered so many prayers in huge, glory making ways! (Original Post is here.)

Today is a reminder of one of the answers because today is A.J.’s eleventh birthday.

004

Those eyes. Those cheeks—that I never tired of squeezing.

A severe traumatic brain injury rocked our world and almost claimed A.J.’s life.

God is so wise to not allow us to know our future. I cannot imagine how this child would have lived his life had I known what was in store for him. Would I have allowed him out of the house? Would I have bubble wrapped him? I most certainly would have made him wear a bike or baseball helmet AT ALL TIMES.

A.J. 001

Tonight I will watch AJ. play baseball with his brother for their season opener.  What a cute catcher he is; #4 for his favorite catcher, Yadier Molina, of the St. Louis Cardinals.

If you think I’m comfortable with him catching; think again!

It happened like this: Last year at the beginning of the season, Farm Boy, who was one of the coaches picked up the baseball gear from the association. Everyone on the team was new to baseball, except my boys, and since we had the gear A.J. suited up and practiced catching at home. That is how it happened.

I have informed A.J. that I want this to be his last season of catching. Each year will become more physical and I DO NOT want him being plowed over as the other team tries to score a run; not caring if they slam him to the ground in an attempt to make him drop the ball for the R.B.I. at home plate.

I think he should concentrate on bowling. Ha! I’m only half joking.

Today my joy abounds as I recall snapshots my heart has taken of A.J. over the last three years. Snapshots of answered prayers, therapy appointments, fun times, teachable moments, frustrating moments, caring moments, ornery moments, giggles, spiritual growth, church moments, a deep thinker who I do not always have an immediate answer for, a boss man who has great potential as I teach him to become a servant leader,  an avid debater (pros and cons), brother moments, tender moments, a little man on his way to only God knows what.  My heart if full!

Happy Birthday my co-chocoholic and fellow lover of Tex-Mex food.

I am thankful to have you and I love you; even at 4:12 a.m. when you wake up ready to celebrate the day!

I think birthday lunch will be served at 9:30 a.m. since we will have been up for five hours. Yawn…

AJs birthday

 

Update on A.J.