Saturday, January 31, 2015

Steps Forward

As I sit in the family room while Jackie naps, I find myself counting my blessings. I know that seems hard to believe after all we have been through. Would I change things if I could, absolutely, but that is simply not possible. Instead the best way to live is day by day, not looking back and not looking too far forward. Feeling grateful for all that we do have is our daily approach to life. Our faith, family, friends and community continue to make this doable each and every day.

Since I am no longer posting on a daily basis, I have many updates to share. The biggest ones are a result from our one day trip back to Philly. Jackie had follow-up appointments with both his neurosurgeon at Jefferson and Dr. K at Magee. The morning started with a CAT scan. It surprised me, but Jackie said he did not remember any of his countless other scans. Many members of the radiology staff remembered us as we were quite the regulars. After the scan we wheeled Jackie across the street to his Neurosurgeons office. To say the least, the doc was very pleased with Jackie’s progress. Our next follow-up is scheduled for July. PTL

I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to get in our own vehicle to drive Jackie to Magee versus waiting for sometimes hours and then loading him up in a transport vehicle. Walking into Magee was like going back to our temporary home. Jackie put it best when he said it was the people he missed the most. We agree. We didn’t get to see everyone, but did see all of his therapists. They became our friends and were so instrumental in getting Jackie to where he is now. Tears were shed as they witnessed Jackie’s progress. We also spent some time with Dr. K. He has always been positive about Jackie’s chances for recovery and was happy to see all of the changes in just two months. Just as he had done once before, he got Jackie involved in a conversation and then removed his peg tube. PTL. Jackie wanted it out so badly, but knew there was a chance it may have to stay in. Needless to say, Jackie was stronger than I ever would have been when it was removed and barely flinched. He is now tubeless and could not be happier. It had been an incredibly long but awesome day. Jackie had his best night sleep yet as he could now move freely in his bed. We are scheduled to go back to Magee in April.

We are currently working on getting Jackie involved with as many therapies as possible, always keeping his energy level in mind. His therapies at Penn State Hershey Day Rehab are going well. Jackie’s PT knows how desperately he wants to walk. She reminds us of Erin from Magee, in tune with everything that needs to come together in order for him to take his first independent steps. She and the PT staff work with him on many things to get him there. At the end of the last couple sessions she helped him walk with a cane. A huge step forward for Jackie! PTL Granted without her support he would fall but each session he gets closer and closer to his dream. Speech, OT and Recreational therapy are also going well. Jackie is now back on a regular diet and continues to work on activities of daily living. Jim and I still assist him with mostly all daily tasks, but similar to PT, each day brings more improvements. Next week we are adding aqua therapy to Jackie’s schedule. He will be going to The Hetrick Center and will be using one of their HydroWorx pools. Two therapists will initially be in the water with him. The pool floor raises up to allow him to transfer via wheelchair into the pool. Then it lowers and the floor becomes a treadmill. The warm temperature of the water and the fact that he will only feel 30% of his body weight should help engage his left side even more than land exercises. Starting with just a half hour session will be extremely tiring, but will be the only therapy he has that day.

In reference to TBI awareness, a good friend of mine from college told us about Kevin Pierce, an Olympic hopeful snow boarder who fell and suffered a TBI. He was right on Shaun Whites heels in fact, he beat him in many events leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics. An HBO documentary, “The Crash Reel” is about Kevin and his accident. Jim, Jackie and I watched it and even though each TBI is different, it is amazing how some of the daily struggles post TBI are similar. Kevin and his family started the LoveYourBrain Foundation in hopes to help improve the lives of people affected by brain injury. If you are interested, check out the documentary and Kevin’s site,

Our thanks continues to flow to so many, for fundraising events, dinners, visits, words and books of encouragement, shoveling snow, and continued prayers. Watching the national news can be depressing and even thinking back to what happened to Jackie makes you wonder what the world is coming to. But we can tell you from our experience that there are a multitude of really wonderful people still out there. We are truly blessed to know and have felt their love.

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
― Jay Asher