Dale Stetina was involved in a car-bike accident in Lefthand Canyon on August 31, 2013. He was airlifted to Boulder Community Hospital in critical condition with a Traumatic Brain Stem Injury. He is showing signs of strong recovery but this is going to be a long road back with heavy rehabilitation. **** We have set up the Dale Stetina Trust fund. Please scroll over to https://rally.org/dalestetina to donate. Donations through Caringbridge dont go to Dale. Don't feel obligated to give more than a nice prayer. We are so humbled by the outpouring support so far, and it is a little embarrassing to have to promote this, but we know the world we live in; medical bills pile up fast. Plus there have been lots of questions regarding donations already.
It sure has been a strange holiday season trying to get our whole family together, with Claire & Levi and Pete & Dyanna out in California, Dale in hospitals, Kate in school, and Anne working. I took a trip to some Utah deserts over Thanksgiving, and celebrated Thanksgiving very humbly a few days late with my parents in a hotel room near Craig. It was wonderful and full of gratitude, nonetheless!
A major highlight lately was the opportunity for Dad to visit home last weekend. Claire and her sweetheart, Levi, were here all weekend. Claire hadn’t seen Dad since entry to Craig and was so impressed with his improvements! On Saturday, we all took him first to buy a Christmas tree, then to the house in Boulder to decorate it. Man, was he excited to see our kitties!! He watched us decorate and loved on our two cats. We also received a wonderful surprise“treasure chest” gift basket from an old cycling family friend, Marcella, with so many goodies that excited the health nut in Dad and got us all excited for the holidays! Thank you Marcella! Overall it was so special to have him home for just a few hours.
Dad has been still making progress lately, just a little slower than the first 2 months post-injury. This is because many major milestones in terms of brain recovery are met, and we are now “fine-tuning” more specific areas of his brain affected. His major challenges include his vision,which may or may not improve, only time will tell. Also his ability to add structure to his life– in thought processes, conversations, and daily routines. He is learning tactics to add this structure in his occupational and speech therapies.
We have an exciting announcement!! THIS MONDAY, 12/16, Dad will be LEAVING CRAIG!! After a long time of the discharge date getting pushed back and navigating complications figuring out post-Craig arrangements, we have a final plan. Dad will fly to Omaha, Nebraska and enter the therapy program at a facility called QLI. I know it sounds crazy! But QLI is a very, very good “residential transitional living facility” for brain injury patients and provides post-acute neuro-rehabilitation care. The idea is that at QLI, he will continue with his therapies and integrate them into a more real-life setting so that when he does come home he will be more independent. He no longer needs the doctors and structure of a hospital setting, but is not ready to return to the home setting. Dad compares it to being at the Olympic Training Center down in Colorado Springs training for the big event – being independent at home. He will hopefully stay at QLI for a few months before returning to live with my mom and me in Boulder. We are SO thankful for this opportunity for Dad!! It will give him the best outcome for his long-term functioning!
I have been spoiled getting to see him 4-5 days every week, and although I certainly don’t like him moving so far away, everyone involved feels confident this will give him the best outcome. The plane flight over from Denver is relatively quick and the distance from family may actually be therapeutic for both him and us. It is a bummer that Dad will miss out on Christmas in Boulder with the whole family. Guess it’ll just make next year’s holiday season that much sweeter!
Some cool insight from Dad this week - He and I were talking the other day about the challenge of letting go of control in the situation we find ourselves in. Dale has always been in control in his life – he managed his own training during his cycling career,and has since been self-employed. This is the first time that he must rely on direction from others in regards to his current life goal. His loss of control has been even more extreme since he often doesn’t even have control of his body or the things he says due to the brain injury. I can’t imagine! How humbling it would be… to rely fully on others for so many tasks that you have self-managed for your entire life, to be told that your abilities are even lower than you perceive because your brain doesn’t think correctly, to not be able to provide for your family for the first time, to trust other’s knowledge about your own body after a lifetime of being an accomplished athlete... It is a lesson in letting go of control. And most importantly in giving total trust of these things to God. His provision, as we are seeing (or sometimes challenging ourselves to see), is always so wonderfully enough. As we stumble through these hard but fruitful times, Dad and I are seeing how our attempts to control and stand by our own strength are so meager.
One of the hardest parts of all this has been all the unknowns. For now, a major two are resolved: Dad will continue in another several months of therapy post Craig at QLI, and Dad will be independent given enough time and therapy. Further unknowns include the timeframe of these things, and his final outcome. For now, I guess we will work on relinquishing control and worry about those things.
Thanks for reading! We will let you all know how the move to Omaha goes next week :)