Dale Stetina's Journal
Holiday season changes!
Written Dec 12, 2013 11:30am
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 :)
Written Nov 30, 2013 4:38pm
Dale has been laying low all week with a stomach bug so he wasn’t able to enjoy much of Craig’s Thanksgiving buffet. He did walk to the dining area with me and sat with me while I enjoyed stuffing myself:) Later he was able to eat some soup and potatoes and his energy level is pretty good so he will be able to get back to therapies.
Several people have asked about his eyes since there is an obvious problem. He sustained nerve damage that has affected the muscle in both eyes. He cannot abduct or turn out either eye and the right eye is turning inward more than the left. Eye exercises have been prescribed in an attempt to help but it will probably be several months before we know the outcome. There might be a surgical option but, as with everything, we will have to wait and see.
Kate will return Saturday from her Moab adventure so we plan to have another Thanksgiving dinner in the family apartment at Craig with Dale. We’re all set for a great feast (BIG thanks to Jennifer for the turkey and side dishes, Risa for dessert, and Charles for a nice bottle of Red!!)
Kate (in her true ever-optimistic style) started a list of "1000 Blessings and Things to Be Thankful For" right after the accident and taped it to the wall of Dale’s room in Boulder Community Hospital. People added to the list over time and it traveled with Dale to Craig. It is pretty dog-eared now, and we’re still not up to 1000, but reading through the list reminds me of how far we’ve come. I’ll be adding a few new ones today.
Thankful for Dale's improvements, the growth of our family, and all the fine people sending encouragement, support, and prayers,
Written Nov 21, 2013 12:44amHi everyone,
A highlight this week was Dad cooking a huge lunch today for all his therapists, nurses, docs and family. He has been working on this meal for a full week now by planning, walking to Safeway two blocks away to shop, and finally spending most of the morning cooking. The menu was some of Dad's classics - salmon, potatoes, millet cheese (an original Dale creation), and veggie stir fry. He did well, but much help was needed from his therapists/sous-chefs. Perhaps the most awesome part was to see how much he worked for planning this meal in the last few weeks, and to see the excitement of it actually coming together. He was excited to show some appreciation to all the most important ladies in his life right now pictured here (except for Anne of course!) ... daughter Kate, recreational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist. The staff here at Craig is wonderful and we are always so thankful for them!!
Dad has about 3 more weeks here at Craig probably, and he is always improving and learning new ways to function better given his limitations. In his own words, he is learning more here than he ever has before!
One thing that has really encouraged me this week is to see him being more considerate and loving to my mom and I (not that he was unloving before...just often too distracted to think about our well-being). He tells us to be safe driving home, and loves giving me back and head massages everyday since he knows it helps me so much (and I'm certainly not complaining;). He even encouraged me to take off all next week and miss Thanksgiving with him to go backpacking (which I was cautious about since it is by far the longest I've been away from him yet. Also last time I went I came out of the woods to find him in critical condition). I am so excited to see his improvements by the time I get back! I think we will even be able to get a day pass to take him out of the hospital and celebrate a few days late with a big Turkey dinner.
As always, my family continues to be humbled by Dale's communities loving on us from around the world. The pic of him on the trainer generated much enthusiasm, thanks for being excited with us as we celebrate steps in this recovery!