Tag Archives: severe traumatic brain injury

6th Anniversary: Traumatic Brain Injury

Freedom Run for Ronald (McDonald House)

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Grateful Beyond Measure025A.J. and his Neurosurgeon – first steps

When I have been in the midst of difficult circumstances and did not know if, when, or how I would make it through; I was able to make thankful lists. I would literally cry all the way through the lists as I talked to God telling Him of my heartache and difficulties while being reminded me of His words in Isaiah 61:3, “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor…” (NIV)

It isn’t easy to remember gratefulness when you are in the middle of pain that feels like it could take your sanity, life as you know it, or the actual life of a family member.  About two years ago I was gently reminded by our pastor during one of his sermons to make another thankful list.  By the time I finished the list I was able to thank God for allowing me to go through a particular difficult circumstance. The treasure I gained by going through the mess, the pain, the darkness—was worth it, and I would do it all over again to receive the provisions God granted me in the struggle.

Since there is nothing in this world that I need, want or love more than my Savior; He will remain number one on my ‘Thankful List’ forever.

I am thankful for my husband and children. We have been through a lot but we know without a doubt that God placed us together to be a family. Through my family God provides me opportunities to agape (selfless love of one person for another; especially love that is spiritual in nature) and God allows me to make a difference in this generation for the Kingdom of God.

My list is long but some entries stand out amongst the others. They have to do with my children’s safety and well-being; some of which I am not at liberty to share because of the personal nature of the issues.

God’s timing was not always my timing or my way. No. And I did not understand God’s timing. Even now tears of remembrance overcome me. Here’s the thing: In hind-sight, my way would have been a temporary band aid but God, in His sovereignty, had something permanent in mind.  I will never forget, I will never be able to say thank you enough, and I will always fall short of giving God the praise due His name for His goodness.  Every day I remember how God brought us through. Every day. I cannot forget. I am thankful.

AJI am at liberty to share one of my entries: My son A.J.’s healing of a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury; two, almost three, years ago. There is not a day that goes by when I do not think of the accident and the healing. I suppose I remember it daily because I home school him and know his struggles, and when I look at A.J. I remember how blessed I am to still have him with me. What God did is so dear to my heart that even now—I am overcome with tears of joy.AJ in hospital

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I will be blogging more about his injury in future posts for the purpose of sharing how I prayed for him and how God responded. For now, here are some pictures which tell a much abbreviated story.

Intercranial monitor & breathing tube have been removed.

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Facial swelling & discoloration were supposed to increase over the days to come but were instead diminishing hour by hour.

002The way a nurse explained the incision to us led me to believe  there would be a scar behind the temple area 3-4 inches long.

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“I can eat this all by myself—thank you.”

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Imagine my shock when I saw the incision for the first time.

013 Yes, it was brain surgery after all. His skull plate was put back in with small titanium plates and screws.

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Dad was holding one of many applesauce cups. A.J. was CRAVING applesauce.

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Brotherly love.037 041A.J. had just found out he was being released. First thought: Call his brother, “Colson, Colson, I get to come home today!”

022 A nurse wheeled A.J. from Children’s Hospital across the walk-way to Barnes-Jewish Hospital so he could have the other side of his head shaved before going home. The young woman who shaved his head sweetly refused payment so A.J. gave her one of his silly-band bracelets.

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Nell – a St. Louis Children’s Hospital visiting therapy dog

THANKFUL! THANK YOU, GOD!

A.J.’s 11th Birthday

Update on A.J.

DIY PRAYER BOARD: Pass it on       

At this point in history, on our timeline, one way God shows proof of His existence is through individual believers. I have witnessed God beat great odds and do the impossible in my life on multiple occasions.  I must pass my testimony on which is the reason why I write on this blog.

I long for the return of Jesus when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; but until then, some of the prayers of my heart are: “Allow Your word to become accessible to all people in our generation. Let me be found faithful. Empower my offspring to be found faithfully loving God and loving others. Come, Lord Jesus, come.” The wickedness I hear and read of in the news causes me to frequently ask for the return of Jesus.

I want to make God known for who He is to people in my circle of influence but most importantly I must make Him known to my children by teaching them how to have a daily relationship with Him. I can joyfully say that all of my children have asked Jesus into their hearts and proclaim Christ yet there is more for me to do. My calling as a mom is to pass my spiritual heritage on to my children which is to include the stories of God’s deliverance, protection, provision and healing in our lives through prayer and fasting. I consider this heritage rich beyond words because there is no measure for sufficiently telling about God’s great works nor is there any way to adequately describe Jesus to them. Any attempt always falls short because there is no perfect way, on this side of heaven, to convey in words the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If my children are going to be found faithful with the life God has given them, and be found fulfilling their God-given purpose they must be comfortable praying to God, their Father. This cannot be left up to chance so I have provided ways of helping them with their prayer life and below is one of the tools we use daily.

PRAYER BOARD

 I made this Prayer Board out of an old picture frame I no longer used.Prayer board

Adoration, Confession Thanksgiving, Supplication

A.C.T.S.

What is your heart and will in this matter, Lord? _______________ I petition this in the name of Jesus.

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“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

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“I believed; therefore, I have spoken.” 2 Corinthians 4:13

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Box of blank paper on which to write prayer needs.

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A.J. added the below request to the board tonight. The National League Championship Series now stands at Cardinals 2, Dodgers 1. Go Cards!

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Praying for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 2013 NLCS. Go Cards!

Answered Prayers:

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There is relief, sometimes unexplainable, that only comes through prayer. So we pray for those we know and love and for those who ask us to pray for them.

My kids enjoy reading through the envelope of answered prayers.  Colson was just doing so and noticed that most of the prayers were answered in the way for which we had prayed. He also took note of the prayers that were not answered with the healings for which we had prayed. These were almost exclusively traumatic brain injuries.  Three of those were answered with complete healings in heaven. One did not have the complete healing A.J. received after his severe traumatic brain injury and another waits, after more than two months, to again be able to speak or move his body.

I do not understand God’s sovereignty regarding these T.B.I. prayer requests especially since I know there are no coincidences with God. He has for some reason brought to our attention the need to pray for several T.B.I. patients in the last year and a half.

We are thankful for the opportunity to storm the gates of heaven on behalf of others.

How I made my Prayer Board:

My nature inspired house is decorated with rustic and primitive style furniture in the colors of perpetual autumn so my goal was to make the Prayer Board blend with my other home décor.

  • I sanded, wiped clean and painted the frame the same pumpkin color as my wall.
  • After the frame dried I rubbed an old candle on the edges and in groves followed by two coats of flat black paint, allowing dry time between each application.
  • After drying, I used my Pampered Chef scraper to scrape off the candle wax revealing distressed pumpkin, then lightly sanded and wiped clean.
  • I sealed it with two coats of matte polyurethane.
  • I covered the original mat-board with coordinating fabric and measured where to place the twine in each direction (ribbon could be used).
  • I wrapped the twine all the way around the board and tied it in knots which are part of the overall presentation.
  • I used a hot glue gun on the back to help keep the twine in place then I stapled the twine along the edges for long lasting hold.
  • I cut an allergy medicine box to size then covered it with scrapbooking paper.
  • I folded and tore (or use scrapbooking scissors) brown paper grocery sacks into note size papers and placed them in the box for quick use when someone needs to add a prayer need to the board.

The Prayer Board hangs next to our table so every time we eat we can glance at it and pray for people and situations that we would otherwise most likely forget. This helped my, reluctant to pray child, become a ready to pray child full of confidence. We use the Prayer Board during our Bible study and prayer time in school also.

A chalk board, magnetic board, marker board or bulletin board could just as easily be used. My favorite part of writing the needs on paper is that when the prayer has been answered we write the answer and the date on the piece of paper and place it in an envelope to be kept for our future boasting in the Lord.

PROOF POSITIVE:

  • Create an atmosphere of prayer in your home with an easily accessible type of Prayer Board.
  • Date the prayer need when you place it on the board and date it when you know it has been answered. It will be your turn to brag on God!

WE ALL HAVE CHAPTERS WE WOULD RATHER KEEP UNPUBLISHED
-downton abbey

What’s a girl to do when God prompts her to write a book?

I had no idea so I just didn’t do it. I’m not a writer and I have deplorable grammar. I did not know where to begin and besides, who would even care about the story of my life? And if I did start…oh the things people would find out about me.  Why God would want my testimony or lack thereof recorded I could not understand. So I decided He must have wanted me to journal my life as a record to pass on to my children. What I would write about is not exactly fitting for a child’s eyes or mind; not even for my eighteen year old since some of what I have to write about involves her and a very difficult time in our lives.

Over the weeks I began to sporadically journal past and current events in my life and my family’s life.

Months later, after the writing prompt from God, on the last night of 2010 my seven year old son had a severe traumatic brain injury while playing at a friend’s house during a New Year’s Eve party. It was a freak accident. An accident requiring a life flight helicopter.  A Caringbridge.org type of accident which led to daily journaling his condition for family and friends. Caringbridge.org was an avenue for me to praise my God and declare His goodness to others for what the Lord was doing on my son’s behalf.  A declaration of the prayers prayed and the answers received. It was also an account of the body of Christ taking care of my family’s daily needs.

After my son’s accident life became even busier for this wife and homechool mother of three. We had so many new issues to address in our home and in our schooling plus multiple doctor and therapy appointments week in and week out. I did not feel like writing anymore. I was overwhelmed to the point of mental, physical and relational exhaustion. I had no strength left, no creativity and not a moment to spare.

Four months after the accident, in April, I received a call that rocked my already upside down world. A blast from my past; from Riley’s past was resurfacing by way of an investigation in the state of Kansas. The raw emotion that emerged caught me off guard; nonetheless, I knew I had to commit to seeing this problem through to the end. It was a gut wrenching, difficult easy decision. For the sake of little children.

After I received the phone call, God showed me that my writing was for women living in difficult circumstances. Women who need to learn to pray to the One who created them, cares for them and wants to bless them. The God who can make life not just bearable but good. Productive. A life of purpose in the middle of pain. If we allow God access He can make the pain worth the while. Who else would do that for us? He is so good.

During this time God spoke to my heart, soul, mind, and strength, “Child, if you do not want to write this book for me I can find another woman to do the job. You are not the only woman living in difficult circumstances and I can easily find someone who wants to write a book. You; however, will miss out on the answered prayers and the blessings. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. I know you have no strength left. Now you will know it is your God working through you.”

My heart desired to obey Him.

So I write. I sit at the computer and God floods my memory with details which I have not thought about for years. Because life is hard, and so many of my memories are bitter, I find writing emotionally draining which has meant learning to function on less sleep than I prefer, having less time to talk on the phone with family in Texas and cutting back on get-togethers with friends. I have learned quickly that every time I say ‘yes’ to an activity, request or friend I am saying ‘no’ to God’s calling on my life, to my husband and to my children. I love and obey God first; love and care for my family second and attempt to take care of my physical and spiritual needs so I can enjoy the life I have been given while still finding time to serve others.

I have felt the whisper of God on my very being remind me, “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3 NIV 1984)

If you do not believe in Jesus Christ, the one and only son of God, my hope is you will see how He took me, a broken messed up woman living through difficult circumstances, and worked impossible situations for good, for purpose…to show the world how amazing He is to those who show faith the size of even the teeniest tiniest mustard seed.

We step into a relationship or circumstance with a heart full of expectation and sometimes even Biblical promises of God, get wacked on the head with pain and reality… then have to choose to believe the two can be reconciled.

They can…through prayer.

*Note: This is just the audio with the image from the album. Below are the lyrics to the song.

“After the Last Tear Falls”

After the last tear falls
After the last secret’s told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves
And the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that’s just too hard

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

After the last disgrace
After the last lie to save some face
After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
After the last dirty politician
After the last meal down at the mission
After the last lonely night in prison

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

And in the end, the end is
Oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

‘Cause after the last plan fails
After the last siren wails
After the last young husband sails off to join the war
After the last “this marriage is over”
After the last young girl’s innocence is stolen
After the last years of silence that won’t let a heart open

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

And in the end, the end is
Oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales
‘Cause after the last tear falls
There is love

LivingWell

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