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Kellen’s Story

Dear family and friends,

Let us first begin by thanking you all for your love, support, encouragement, calls, texts, visits etc ...but most especially for your prayers.

Here is what happened: Thursday evening at about 9pm we were packing and preparing to head to Pullman the next morning for Mom’s Weekend w/the whole family, when we received a phone call from WSU student health informing us that Kellen was hit in the head with a softball during an intramural game with his fraternity brothers.  Kellen touched home base and someone on the other team was going to throw one of Kellen’s fraternity brothers out at home and it hit Kellen in the head as he was on his way to the dugout. We found out later that Kellen finished the game & even struck someone out.  Initially he seemed ‘ok’ but when his friends were driving him back to the fraternity they realized they should take him to the hospital because he was unable to communicate. The decision his fraternity brothers made saved his life. When he got to the hospital, the doctor called us & said that following a CAT scan he had severe bruising and bleeding on the brain and would need to be air-lifted as soon as possible to Spokane. They said it was serious and that we should get to Spokane right away...he would need emergency surgery to relieve the pressure so as not to cause brain damage.  We began praying as soon as we received the news and didn’t stop for the next 5 hours to Spokane; tears combined with our pleas to God for our son. We tried to text or call as many people as we could to ask for prayer for Kellen and we felt the effects of that immediately. Your love & prayers made the drive and the next few hours bearable.

 During the drive we received word from the hospital in Spokane (Sacred Heart) that Kellen was about to go into surgery. He would be in for 2-3 hours.We also heard from the helicopter crew who said Kellen was in“critical but stable condition.” Upon arriving at Sacred Heart, we waited a half hour more for Kellen to get out of surgery.  When the surgeon walked towards us I held my breath as he explained the severity of his condition. 

The good news was the surgery went well. He stopped the bleed but Kellen had a large bruise that went deep into his brain affecting his motor skills and he also had a couple small bruises that they would have to keep an eye on for swelling. The surgeon also explained to us how there is a time period of 72 hours where the swelling could increase. Dad was concerned if he was in a ‘life-threatening’ situation & he told us that we shouldn’t be worried. The surgeon didn’t know the outcome but explained that his left side wasn’t moving at all but had the potential to return in some capacity. We waited for another 30 minutes and finally got to see him.

Although it was difficult to see him intubated, we were grateful that he was still with us. We were up all night praying and trusting in God.The next 24 hours he progressed better than expected. The right side of his body was fine and even the left side improved. When they pinched his left toe,his leg would twitch and move up. He recently showed a little sign of movement in his left hand, which made us all smile and gasp for joy with this sudden improvement. We are rejoicing in the baby steps; the squeeze of his hand, the tiny twitch of a finger or simply listening to him breathe instead of the noise of machines helping him. 

We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support…grateful for the texts and phone messages, the visits, the words of encouragement and the prayers. It is what keeps us going and gives us hope. His recovery will be more like a marathon rather than a sprint, and we will continue to update you on Kellen’s progress in the days/week/months ahead.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Kellen. We love you all.

John, Jennifer, Kellen and Brendan

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 
My times are in Your hand” Psalm 31:14-15


Latest Journal Update

Fourth Brain Surgery---Check

OK, it is November. Four months post 4th surgery and 1.5 years post brain injury. I hadn't even realized that I didn't send my 'draft' after surgery...and i really want to apologize as I know how many of you continue to pray for Kellen and ask how he is doing. So much has happened...especially this past month as the McCauley family said goodbye to our beloved Ann. Blessed wife of Frank, Mother to Teresa, Mark, Matt, Mary, Jim, John and Joe. Amazing mother-in-law, sister, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother.  Thank you for your prayers and condolences. She is truly loved and missed. Here is the journal entry I wrote a couple months ago:

'When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.'  Barbara J. Winter

Forty-eight hours after surgery and ICU stay, we left St Petes with kellen and his beautiful round head :)  Dr. Lazio showed us pictures of his 'new skull' and also of the skull piece that had been disintegrating, being 'resorbed' by his was sobering to say the least, and difficult to imagine that Kellen's body had been working overtime for more than a year to be rid of it.  Even though a year ago his skull piece looked 'really good,' it wasn't 'viable.'  After removing his white turban, the one that makes him look a little like a Q-Tip, his head was back to its 'normal' shape.  It blows my mind how this was done with modern technology.  Just a week and a half before surgery, kellen had a CT Scan that circled his head.  They took 3D imaging of his skull and uploaded it to a disc that was then transferred to a young man in his 20's named Nate, who was patiently waiting in a room next to x-ray. He is the northwest sales rep for the 'skull company' that manufactured Kellen's skull piece. He works mostly at trauma hospitals like Harborview, but traveled down to Olympia for Kellen specifically.  (He told us he would be in the operating room with Dr. Lazio.) He then sent the image to a person on the east coast who was waiting for it.  When they determined they had a good picture we were then able to go home and wait for surgery the following week.  With the 3D imaging, they were able to make an almost exact replica skull piece out of hard plastic which included holes for ventilation (sort of resembles a hockey mask). It would fit like a puzzle piece. Apparently the plastic is hard enough that it wouldn't break even if you stood on it...I hope no one ever stands on Kellen's head. As Aunt Shawni says, 'That would be a 'bad one.'

On a scale of 1-10, Kellen's pain had fluctuated between 3-5 that first week home, depending if he had tylenol or not.  Not too bad for the type of surgery he had, where oxi-codone is typically prescribed.  The first two nights home, Kellen had some difficulty with nausea and numbness on his left side.  I reread the 'take-home' sheet they gave us from the hospital which indicated that if he had persistent nausea, increased numbness or pain (just to name a few) to call the doctor immediately.  I asked myself as I have throughout the past year, 'Do we call the doctor now, or is this 'normal?' Since nausea wasn't 'persistent,' we decided to pray first, act second. Within 10 minutes, at 3am, he fell back to sleep. Nausea gone. Dr. Lazio asked that he come in before his 2-week post surgery check-up to look at his swelling that felt 'liquidy' to the touch. There was some concern it could possibly be cerebral spinal fluid leaking as it was 'throbbing' with his heart beat. We were told to 'wait and see' if the swelling became worse or if there was increased redness or oozing to call immediately as infection risk was high. We persisted in our prayers...and the swelling subsided.

We were given the 'ok' to travel to San Diego for therapy 3 weeks after surgery.  Although he was scheduled for 5 hours/day, his therapist quickly determined that Kellen was only able to endure 2 hours/twice daily.  John and Brendan joined us for a long weekend, but due to Kellen's continued recovery and fatigue, we stayed close to the hotel and pool :))  It was good to be together. 

On the last day of therapy, after two weeks of stretching and repetition, Kellen moved his middle two fingers in an 'I love you', 'rock on' sort of way. :) It was a moment we won't forget. We all erupted as it was so unexpected!  To give you an idea, when Kellen attempts to move his fingers, he is told not to work too hard or his grip will be too tight, but to work hard enough to get them to move! His brain has difficulty 'planning' how to do a particular task. He knows how, but there is a gap in fine motor planning. When he tries something new, it exhausts him! He becomes even a little dizzy or nauseated as his brain tries to accept and plan new skills. Repetiton is needed so he doesn't have to 'think' about moving, he will eventually do it automatically...think newborn baby trying to grasp a rattle and then attempting to put it in his/her mouth without smacking their nose or eye. The movements are a bit jerky, unbalanced and not very smooth. You get the picture...

Kellen had fully planned to return to WSU this Fall to room with his brother in the fraternity. However, after this last surgery and subsequent therapy, he realized a greater intolerance to noise and commotion. It just wears him out. He will take a couple classes online and continue therapy as often as he is able. People ask if he continues to see progress...YES!! Even though brain injury recovery is like 'watching grass grow' as his therapist says, progress is being made and that is what helps kellen push through the plateaus. He really does hope to get back to college as soon as possible...we make plans, but we also take things one day at a time. He even came to the realization that it might be best to have his own dorm room where he could have quiet time when he needs it. 

Lastly, Brendan has been trying out for the WSU golf team this past week after practicing all summer.  It had been a year since he played and finished his high school golf season.  He dedicated his summer to working and practicing at the golf course.  There were 6 trying out. He was leading the tournament after the first 2 days. On the 3rd day he was one back after a 71, 74, 74.  The last day he and a boy named Austin both tied and shot another 71 but he was 1 stroke shy of making the team.  He was hoping he would at least be able to practice with the team as he is friends with more than half of the players!  They have all been so supportive. :) Such a blessing. 

Sorry the post was long-winded and maybe a bit dated.  As I prepare to press 'send' on this beautiful November morning I am reminded of the blessings throughout this journey, especially God's love and care for Kellen and our family. Kellen spends his days diligently and patiently doing therapy on his own....sometimes more than 4 hours each day  Repeating certain movements over and over again. I have never heard him complain. His friends are not in town so he is by himself most days. What seems to stand out to folks is that even in therapy he has a smile on his face...he jokes & chuckles about being a 'recluse' at 21 years old...but he remains positive and hopeful in the recovery process. He is able to rejoice when he hears of his friends' successes and joys...he NEVER feels sorry for himself, or never verbalizes it anyway...We are so thankful as we continue to see the gift and love of God in the small joys as well as the difficult moments.  Quite frankly in the moment, i enjoy the positive, happy times more than the trials. :) BUT I am learning to find the 'blessing in suffering' as scripture talks about and like Kellen seems to do... It is helping me to rely completely on God who continues to be the source of strength for Kellen and our whole family as our faith and TRUST in His plan for our lives unfolds. We love you and are grateful for you all.

12 people hearted this



Mike and Jessica Juergens
By Jessica Juergens
Sending all our love. We are greatful for an update. We've been thinking about you guys. Hugs and prayers for you all.
1 person hearted this
Sister Mary Eucharista
By Sister Mary Eucharista, SMMC
The Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church are all still praying for you, Kellen! You remain on our prayer list, and we love you! Praise God you are doing well, and you have a fantastic mom, dad and family!!
1 person hearted this
Angela Stone
Kellen your life is unfolding not as you planned, but your future isn't going anywhere. Your perseverance and healing will bring you to something amazing. Your indomitable spirit has changed so many lives by its example and each stage to come will only positively impact this world more than the last. We all crave for you to have all the goodness life offers, without doubt great things are to come.
2 people hearted this
Steve Clovis
By Fr. Steve Clovis
Thanks for the new post. Deacon Cody--awesome guy that he is- keeps me updated. We are looking forward to your next visit to Mount Angel!
Prayers for all.
1 person hearted this
Charles Armentrout
By Charlie Armentrout
Keep on pushing forward, Kellen! Prayers still coming your way!
-The Armentrouts
1 person hearted this
Amy and Mike McDermott
By Amy and Mike McDermott
Thank you so much for this update! We love you and are with you in prayer, cheering you on. Kellens good humor and your rock solid faith are an inspiration! Peace! Love Mike n Amy
2 people hearted this
Crystal McDonald
By Crystal & Shawn McD.
Jen & John,
Your family is such an inspiration! We are very happy to hear that Kellen is doing well after his fourth brain surgery! He is amazing!! We are so thankful that you have such a wonderful medical team and that you continue to be surrounded by love from your beautiful family & friends. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.
We love you all! <3
1 person hearted this
Alice Budge
By Alice and Ken Budge
God bless you all and thank you so much for sharing Kellen's progress. I can see by reading your touching and inspirational update that God is guiding and blessing each one of you with His assuring and comforting love, strength, wisdom, patience and never-ending hope. You are such a beautiful family, full of thoughtfulness toward others. We all fall short of God's glory, but your testimonials make us realize evermore so how God is always with us through suffering and trials, blessing us with His wisdom and joy that surpasses all understanding. This too shall pass and you'll all be the better for it.
God bless you, Kellen. You're a fighter and determined and blessed with a lighthearted sense of humor. God's Word has taught us, 'All things work together for good for those who put their faith and trust in Him'.
Below are some inspirational quotes:

"I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne'er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me."

Robert Browning Hamilton

Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. -- Isak Dinesen

The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
2 people hearted this
Jason & Katrina Lewis
By Jason & Katrina
What a powerful journal entry and journey you are on!! We continue to keep your family in our prayers and to rejoice for the top notch medical team, technology and therapist you have to help Kellen with his recovery!! Special love and prayers as your hearts grieve the loss of beautiful Ann. Her love lives on forever in your precious family and she is smiling down from Heaven on all of you. <3
1 person hearted this
Terri Rincon
By Terri Rincon
What a beautiful read this morning, and a wonderful testimony! Thank you for the update and know that you're in our prayers. We love you!
1 person hearted this