Monday, August 06, 2007

Final Post, From Sandy

Hello Friends and Family,

It’s time to do one final update and draw this blog chapter to a close. When Sarah initially began this blog, she focused on the positive, which I think was a wise thing to do. So that you can understand all that God has done, though, I need to give you what I now know to be an accurate picture of my original situation: I didn’t even know this until fairly recently since John and the kids wanted me to be moving positively toward recovery.

- I was completely paralyzed – both on my right and left side
- I was in a coma-like state for almost a month
- Doctors told John that I might not live (50% of patients in my situation don’t make it to week 4. When I made it to there, my chances started to improve.)
- When it became apparent that I would live, they suggested that he find me a room at a convalescent hospital because that might be all the improvement I would see
- I had four brain surgeries
- I first moved my right hand on December 9th ... about a month into this "adventure."
- I have no memories of anything that occurred between the car ride to the hospital with Jennifer and Christmas Eve.
- My first memory is a sweet one ... a Christmas Eve lessons and carols program that Sarah put together for our family. We sang and read Scriptures by a Christmas tree that Jonathan and Christopher had set up in my hospital room. Little Jonathan (our grandson) crawled on the foot of my bed. Yes - a very, very sweet memory.
- Once I began to "come to," and make sense of my situation, nights were the hardest. I so dreaded those long, somewhat sleepless times without my family around me. I knew they had to get sleep also, but nights were really long, tough times.
- When you have been paralyzed for a while, every joint in your body stiffens and tightens. We are still working to re-establish the range of motion in all of these joints – from my fingers to my vertebrae to my knees and ankles, etc.
- Also, your brain has to relearn how to do things. I have had to think my way through relearning the most simple things ... steps, crawling, sitting, standing, getting in and out of a car, writing, rolling over in bed, and so much more. It really makes me appreciate our complexity – how "fearfully and wonderfully made" we are.

When we made our second attempt at coming "home" (to the rental home John secured for us rather than our home on Lazy Dog Road):

- We used a lift to get me from one place to another. John had to get me into a sling, hook up to the lift, then lift and wheel me to a new location and lower me into place. Each step was painful. We had to spend a few minutes ranging my legs before trying to move, in order to reduce the pain.
- It was hard to sit for longer than a few minutes.
- I was extremely uncomfortable in a wheel chair, or in a bed, in fact, most of the time.
- I was taking an amazing number of meds; slowly we sorted them out and reduced the number to the minimum necessary.
- I was able to move my right leg and right arm, but was very weak. I had on negligible movement on my left side at that point.
- My peg tube (through the abdominal wall, directly to my stomach) was still in.
- I was often very confused, especially at the end of the day when tired.
- We were getting up every 45 minutes to one hour during the night to move, reposition, go to the bathroom…all through tremendous pain.

Next steps...

- As I got stronger, we started to do a few manual transfers from chair to wheelchair, or back, using a gait belt.
- I started to move my left arm soon after we got to the La Barr Meadows house.
- Over the next month, I started to move my left foot a few inches.
- We spent our days doing as much therapy as I could stand – about 4-6 hours.
- From what we read or heard, you have to learn to stand before you can walk, so John built a standing frame. I spent as much time standing up in it as I could tolerate.
- With the generous help of my parents, we purchased a used wheelchair van, so that we could get ourselves to the best neuro rehab person around, Carme. It was a brilliant decision.

So, that’s a summary of my "history." Where are we now?

- No more gait belt (affectionately called my "tail"). I wore it around my waist so John could hold on to me and prevent catastrophic falls. My balance now is good enough that I move around on my own.
- I walk mainly with a single prong cane, even in crowded places like church and stores.
- We have moved back to our Lazy Dog house!
- Most folks have a living and dining room in their home. The Palmers have a physical therapy room full of special equipment.
- I am cooking simple meals, and cleaning the kitchen and downstairs of our house.
- I am reading, writing, and typing again.
- I can walk a very short distance without a cane!
- I continue to do lots of therapy each day, but also lots of "life."
- As Sarah’s blog mentioned, I walked down the aisle at Jonathan and Jenn’s wedding... this July, which had been a very specific prayer request.

My most sincere thanks go:

- to my Creator, who knows the innermost workings of my brain, and who alone can open new pathways there.
- to those of you who helped with Christopher – especially the Fay family who made sure he got to every single mountain bike race, giving him a fabulous junior year in high school.
- to those who visited at the hospital and/or when we got home
- to the Davis family who opened their Roseville home for our family to stay in, which greatly helped them. They came to affectionately call it the "EGG House" – Extremely Generous Gift.
- to those who stayed with me so John could get much-needed breaks and get in to Autometrix, often cleaning our home while you were there.
- to those adults and children who sent cards, posters, notes, "bouquets" of Bible verses, and more. They were such an encouragement to me.
- to all our fabulous co-workers at Autometrix who have taken on extra loads so John could stay home with me and help me get well, and who have continued to reach for the goal of excellence in his absence. And to those involved in making the p.t. equipment that I needed ... it is a big reason that I’m walking today. (And, not to rub it in, but I won the race!)
- to all the nurses, therapists, and doctors who played a part in my recovery. In particular, to Carme, my incredible physical therapist, who was the first person to acknowledge the goal of walking as a reasonable goal; who not only worked me hard, but also prayed for me. And to Dr. Jensen, who practically turned cartwheels in his excitement over my progress!
- to all of you who brought incredible meals and other yummy things. (My family has higher expectations now!) Your generosity meant that John spent his time doing therapy with me rather than feeding us. Thank you.
- to all the TLC ladies who picked up the balls I had been juggling and added them to their own juggling routines. I am thrilled that it all continued so well … a tribute to your skill and dedication.
- to all who prayed ... I sincerely believe that God heard and responded to your requests. I truly think those prayers are a significant part of why I have had such an amazing recovery.
- to my incredible sisters who came to help out – and kept us "afloat."
- to my parents who, as they have done throughout my entire life, made me think I could do anything – even walk again, against all odds. And to my "second set of parents," my in-laws, who were continually encouraging me along. (Dad, I won every single "walker race"!) And perhaps the biggest thank you to you is for raising the wonderful son who has walked through this at my side.
- to my four wonderful children who all came right away. I have no memory of your visits, but I treasure the knowledge of them. Christopher homeschooled himself for the balance of the year (including trigonometry and physics – well done!!) Jonathan, Sarah, and Emily came to visit as often as possible. Sarah and Nathan got married twice within two weeks – the first time in a garden at the hospital so I could take part.
- to my best friend / husband who has fully demonstrated the fulfillment of the vow he made 29 years ago – "in sickness and in health." He has never complained – not once. He has been my companion and encourager throughout all of this. He helped me see God in the midst of everything. He fought for my best care as I was moved around among four hospitals. After we finally came home, he was up at night every 45 minutes with me for months. Again, without complaint. He has kept me laughing, while helping me do the hardest work I’ve ever done. When I’d get frustrated about something I couldn’t do, he was always there to remind me of my progress. He has designed special physical therapy equipment for me. He’s been mom, dad, husband, friend, housecleaner, taxi-driver, nursemaid, cook, housecleaner, organizer (John? An organizer? Yup! He’s learned all kinds of new things!) and so much more. He was content to take a sabbatical from Autometrix to help me recover. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without his incredible contribution. What an example of devotion in marriage you have given our kids. Thank you, Friend.

Each of you was Jesus in the flesh for me ... His hands and feet, so to speak. The words "thank you" seem almost trite. Know that they come from the bottom of my heart. I am deeply grateful.

We would sincerely appreciate your continued prayers. We still have a long road ahead, but like the Israelites, we can remember what God has done while we look forward to what he will do!

Once again, our deepest thanks. We look forward to the day when we can help you. (But no aneurysms allowed!)



At 7:12 PM, Blogger Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Good post, Mom. Are you going to start your own blog now? Once you write that first post, the bug can really bite you! :)

I'm proud of you. You've worked awfully hard for this recovery and showed me (once again) what you can do if you put your mind to it.

We all love you and continue to pray for you. Jonathan adds you to his prayers all the time.

At 5:06 AM, Blogger Sarah Marie said...

I love you, Mom! Nathan and I will continue to pray for you - and to thank God for all He's already done in your recovery!

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Camiva Mom said...

My dear friend~

I give all praise to Our Father, what a truely wonderful gift he has given you and others through the miracle you have walked through.

My tears if you could see them sums up so much of how I feel right now for you.

We all love you Sandy, and we will continue to pray for "restoration", that which was given to us as a word of comfort and promise way back in November when we asked God how to pray for you.

Yeah God, Yeah God!!!!!!!!!!

In Christ,
The Owens Clan

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Like I said the other are such a woman!! God has given you abundant Grace and perserverance...and a wonderful husband and family!

You are so loved!

Cheryl G.

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sandy,
Did you know our children (Jonathan and Rosalyn) got married the same weekend? Obviously, not to each other, (which I once had sort of hoped) but I think they both did well.
Blessings to you, Amazing Lady. When I came out to see you, you grabbed my hand and said, "I have so much to learn." It blew me away how focused you were in your trial to see good.
My family loves you all and will continue to pray for you. His mercy endures forever.
~Michele Nunnink

At 5:00 AM, Blogger Rick said...

What an incredible final story, though of course not final final. Thank you for sharing the journey with those of us too far away to do anything besides pray.

If you ever want/need a get-away in Nova Scotia, there are beds and friends waiting.

Rick and Debbie

At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Lilly said...

Dear, dear Sandy:

Well written, well spoken. Thank you for taking the time to complete the picture of God's wonderful mercy and grace on your life. You are so loved, so admired. I look forward to many sweet times together dear sister.

Love, Lilly

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Brooke said...

Hi Sandy,
You have always been such an inspiration to me and good example for me of how to be a Christian women, just by being you and doing what you do. That has only been magnified through this amazing journey. You have been and will continue to be in our prayers. We love you!!
Brooke and Lindsay Betz

At 9:09 PM, Anonymous carol simmons said...

Hi Sandy,
God is good, not because of the good things He does, He is just good!
He has used you to be such and example in not only my life but in my families as well. I see His work in you and through you, through your children. What wanderful gifts they are.
I thank you for your friendship and example. You hold a very special place in my heart forever. I promise to continue to pray for you and your family. I sure miss you. I love you so.
Carol Simmons

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous charis simmons said...

Hi Sandy!
I am so glad that you are feeling better! Thanks for being such a great teacher, friend, and leader! I miss you and love you! See ya.
Charis Simmons

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was so good to see you at Michael's wedding. You look wonderful! We will continue to pray for you, and to praise God for all He has done. I am amazed and in awe at your recovery. Thank God.
--Holly Fike

At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can be said as I sit here with tears streaming down my face?
You are precious and loved!
The Hough Family

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