Brian Gapp's Journal
Summer is here for awhile longer...
Written Jul 24, 2013 7:01pm by Tina GappWe are thankful for so much. I am happy for the summer sun, a garden, and a simple smile from the 17-year old Brian.
He has conquered driver's training as of today. With his new glasses, adjusted for the double vision and a new prescription, a new FM device from a scholarship at Gillette (courtesy hard work from our audiologist), and from efforts to "relax" behind the wheel, he had all the right tools to get the "green light" on driving again. $$$ though
Brian not only made it through last semester of Junior year, but he was on the A-Honor Roll. He really earned those grades. Staff and students alike are much appreciated.
It seems as though we are in a summer play right now. It's "take 2" on starting over at Inver Hills Community College. Brian is going to take a few courses online through PSEO and will repeat his attempts at covering HHS course requirements at the same time. The feeling that we have been here before is strangely and delightfully familiar....progress is still happening in recovery.
Brian's ears remain the same. He works the hardest at "hearing" everyone, and sometimes that seems to result in headaches. Headaches might be caused by the brain injury, but hearing is hard work and requires extra focus, so it's difficult to say either one is the root of the problem.
Two really cool things happened as of late. Brian is employed! He is working 5-10 hours per week at the YMCA in the children's area. We are grateful for this employment. Brian was working closely with a vocational rehabilitation counselor and is getting help with vocational planning, interviewing strategies, and much more. He recently took an exam called CareerScope to facilitate career placement. I haven't been able to help Brian much with regard to hearing loss and career choices, but he really wanted to know more about the whole post-secondary planning process, and beyond. Brian's counselor is awesome.
The other neat thing for Brian's summer is that he will be able to take time to go to Canada with the Ventry's for a summer cabin week. It's difficult to see him go away for a week, but everyone needs a change of scenery, right? Passport- check!
Sometimes, Brian's personality peeks through and little by little is returning, along with his dry sense of humor. He will tell you he has had a near life experience instead of a near death experience. He feels dead to the old self. This is the new Brian. It's not worse or better, but different. Life is going to be different. The journey is new.
I imagine Brian's hearing to be better than mine within the next 20 years. Right now, there is a 3D printer that can duplicate the cochlear hairs in our ears and replicate sound precisely for perfect, crisp hearing. If that is something Brian could look forward to, it would be worth the wait. Technology is our friend (most of the time).
Continued thanks to all who help us on this journey.
God is good!
May 2013 -signs of spring!
Written May 18, 2013 12:23pm by Tina GappSchool is almost finished and we are proud of Brian's progress there and at taking his days "one at a time". He is really taking life in stride, knowing himself, and knowing that his efforts are worthwhile.In April, we were again amazed at the healing process he continues to experience. Brian's eyes are improving. Right eye torsion is gone. Right upper quadrant vision is healed in both eyes (he had lost vision field in both eyes for a time), and his double vision has cut in half, improved both horizontally and vertically. He will continue to see the eye surgeon every 3 months. Brian has a prism in his lenses. If the double vision persists, he can have eye surgery and/or get prisms "ground" into a new pair of glasses.At Gillette, the neurologist gave Brian the "green light" to drive again. On June 10th, Brian is going to take an adaptive driving assessment. This assessment is three-pronged, with an interview, an assessment by an occupational therapist who will review cognitive/physical readiness, and a driving component. After that, he may need some practice behind the wheel, prior to going to the DMV for the road test....again. Brian is way more excited than this writer.Amazing thing...Brian has a fantastic outlook on his life. We went to the audiologist yesterday and he explained that he wants to be just like everyone else and treated like everyone else. He needs some equipment to make it all happen. He "needs" an FM device to hear across a room. The blue tooth microphone has purpose, but the signal can be blocked when a solid object gets in the path of the signal. An FM device is not affected the same way. The audiologist is so pleased to work with Brian because he presents unusual positive challenges for her. She embraces his situation because she "understands" him, and we are really thrilled to have her help. So, Brian was able to review FM devices available and to look into a receiver that is built into his hearing aid, so he doesn't have to wear the obvious necklace-type receiver. The next step is to find out if we can get approved for insurance coverage for the assistive devices. They are medically needed, if you asked Brian. His audiologist tested the hearing performance again. There is no change. He will be going to have ears checked annually in the future. One thought that Brian hangs onto is the theory that one day, he may be one of those individuals that is able to re-grow the hairs in his middle ear that would allow him to hear again. Apparently, there is research going on in this area of science as you read this note. Seriously!Brian would truly enjoy working in the field of engineering associated with bio-medical devices, maybe. Time will tell.Whatever you do, remember that he takes the hearing aid off when he runs. If he sees you he may wave, but he won't hear you. Some friendly gesturing would be effective.Keep praying. Your efforts are much like watching the flowers bloom.
So, can I drive now?
Written Apr 8, 2013 9:32pm by Tina GappYep. Any soon to be 17-year old is likely to ask this question, after they have been grounded. "Can I take the car...."? Boy was I surprised when Brian asked what would be involved to regain his driver's license. It is actually quite a process for him, and begins by passing a vision test. He goes to the eye specialist on this Wednesday, so may I just request a special boost for prayers for healing?Each day, Brian talks about how his eyes start out with mono-vision and slowly change to double vision - not ideal, and he says he can feel it happen and he tries to resist. His vision is slowly improving. Our occupational therapist is waiting in ready position to help if we need to pass a balance/vision test with her. The Neurologist has to give the seal of approval. A road test is mandatory. As his mother, I am in no personal hurry to get Brian back into the driver's seat. Still, the fact that he feels ready to drive sets my heart ablaze with joy and thanksgiving at the same time.We also share that he has graduated from all outpatient therapies: Occupational, Physical, and now Speech therapies! I actually started to cry on his last day of rehabilitation services. He is a young man with a great attitude. We are proud of Brian.His hearing is a pain, no doubt, and he has gotten used to the hearing aid. Last week, his blue tooth microphone broke. It's under warranty and is being repaired. It appears to be a transmitter issue, according to the audiologist. So, at home, we have to get within 3 feet or less to have a decent conversation....until next week. We are looking into a special device with an FM adapter- but it's not an insured piece of equipment. Brian really wants this device. He is looking for work to help pay for it. So far, applications have gone to the YMCA and he has applied for a job through a Tree Trust Grant - and his favorite job would be to work at the Pleasant Hill Library. Reach for it, Brian!He is amazing. A's and B's are hard earned. He is working to improve his focus and cognitive skills. He practices balance exercises. He is committed to improving and healing and it continues to happen. Believe it or not, there is a Deaf and Hard of Hearing day at the University of MN on April 18th. Brian is taking time off school to attend a college day. He is a junior this year, though vocational goals are already spinning in his mind. At the U, he will be focusing on self-awareness and how to "illuminate your path" though disability of hearing loss.His IEP (individualized education plan) is coming together. Traumatic Brain Injury is not easily seen to the naked eye. It's seen with mood swings and tough emotions, cognitive processing changes, changes in inhibition, headaches and fatigue, and a strangeness of knowing you aren't quite who you were. Add physical problems to this, and you get more reasons to have symptoms...I guess I am trying to say, it's a process. Brian has about 1 1/2 years left to "recover" from TBI. He will be over 18 by then.Thanks to all of you who are unfailing in cheering Brian on. I am very happy to report that his teachers and those staff providing special services at HHS are really helping him out this semester and I continue to appreciate the genuine interest and mentoring in his success - as a man in the making, as well as in his academic achievement. You deserve this acknowledgement for everyday effort and I hope you can see your work fulfilled through him someday. Pay it forward... I believe it matters.Love, Mom