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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

'A time to heal'.......Six months

As I round the bend on the trail, jogging behind Kellen, I hear, 'C'mon mom, you can do it!' I'm huffing and puffing...feeling tired, worn out, exhausted from it all...He cracks a joke sarcastically, 'Is that a little burst of energy?' As I barely speed up...' Nice, mom! I like it!' Haha I can't stop laughing through the forest of trees. He has become MY personal trainer...pumping ME up...encouraging me...Kellen is helping ME to heal...Wasn't this supposed to be the other way around?...but as we round another bend on the 'journey' he is behind me now, 'C'mon mom, I'm getting closer....closer still....even closer...' I hear him laughing, egging me on....'I guess I'm a little weak, Kel.' ' No you're not mom. You're strong! Let's go.'

Kellen had his final neurosurgeon appointment 3 months post 3rd surgery and 5 months post 'traumatic brain injury' and Dr. Lazio who put Kellen's skull piece back said she is so impressed with Kellen's recovery. She noticed how well he was doing considering the short time since he was hit. He is free to exercise, but still needs to listen to his body, slow down or stop, if he feels any pressure or pain. It takes a minimum of a year for his brain to heal; and most of the time the brain will continue to heal even after 2 years and beyond! The brain is Amazing! It is the most complex 'computer' on the planet! Doctors and researchers have learned more about the brain in the past 5 years than in the past 500! 

So John and I took Kellen to see his neurologist, Dr. Bell on Sept. 5. We look goofy coming with our 20-yr-old son but we justify this 'family' visit first because we all just love Greg, but secondly, John is learning by listening and watching Dr. Bell as this is the product he 'promotes' to neurologists in the northwest to help with spasticity in patients who suffer strokes or other brain injuries....like Kellen's.  Dr. Bell begins the appointment by asking Kellen how he is feeling and if he had any side effects from the previous Botox injections... any pain or bruising? 'no'....shortness of breath?....'no' and then Kellen adds, much to all of our surprise, 'I did have some trouble going to the bathroom afterwards.' Huh?.....pause....with a sheepish grin we realize he is joking. Dr. Bell just as quickly responds with, 'You know I can fix that with a catheter.' Haha (touché) :)This is the real reason we all want to go to his appts. There is always so much joy! 

Before Kellen began classes at SPSCC we traveled to Pullman to visit Brendan and cousins for my birthday the weekend of the 12th. Those few days were also about freedom. Kellen did not have to spend almost every moment with John or me. He was a college student once again, minus any temptation to partake in beverages that might impair the ability of his brain to heal. Just say 'no' to killing off much needed neurons. He was able to talk to his fraternity brothers and to thank them for supporting him through the BBQ fundraiser as well as through prayers and visits. He also saw and thanked his 'brother' Reece who was the driver on April 10. After noticing that Kellen was 'not himself,' he ultimately determined they would head straight to the hospital after the game without going home to shower first etc. Thank The Lord he made that decision as 'time is brain.' We try not to imagine the 'what ifs' had they waited. Thank you Reece and Sig Eps for your quick thinking. Thank you for saving Kellen's life. We are eternally grateful.

Kellen is taking Statistics daily and Economics twice/week. He was happy on the first day of class Sept. 22 as it made him feel more 'normal.' He got a B on his first Stats quiz and a 95% and 100% on his most recent ones. Off to a great start! His twice weekly Seattle visits have stopped due to class schedule. He's currently doing Pilates at OT twice/weekly at Emilie Gamelin and just passed his 'driver's testing.' He will have an evaluation within the next couple weeks at 911 driver's school to make sure he is safe to drive. 

We rejoined the local athletic club so not only is he jogging just over a mile most days, but Kellen has also started swimming laps and lifting light weights. We are making a drive to Junction City, Oregon on the 15th for a PT visit which will be like 'advanced-turbo PT.' So much to share on this but I have already over-shared and apologize for the already 'long read.' (I use these 'quotes' a lot I've noticed) 

Today, Friday October 10, we are celebrating 6 months since Kellen's TBI. We continue to give thanks each day for his miraculous recovery. We also wish to thank all of you for your continued prayers and support, for being the hands and feet of Christ. We feel comforted and encouraged on this journey. Kellen still has a way to go in his therapy to regain full movement in his hand and wrist but we are hopeful that in the next 6 months he will continue to make positive strides in that area. If his effort is any indication of the end result he will do well despite times of discouragement. That is when we are thankful for your prayers which strengthen him and us along the way and keep us going. He has also had a couple minor incidences with short term memory loss, but once his brain reconnects with the thing he 'forgets' (like turning off a water faucet) his long term memory kicks in and he remembers the next time. Studying something new may take greater effort and repetition to learn and retain. BUT he has a great sense of humor about it as I ask him, 'Kellen, are there any other times you forget things?' 'Yah mom, I forget where I am everyday,' he smiles. For a 20-year-old he mostly handles his mom's questions with sarcastic humor instead of frustration which has helped our home environment tremendously! We anticipate Kellen will return to WSU in the spring to retake the classes he was unable to finish this past semester (He just came back from Pullman for Homecoming with uncle jimmy and aunt shawni, although this time much more tired upon his return as he commented, 'I'm glad I stayed home this semester because it would be difficult to find time for OT, to work on my hand and wrist, with studying and everything else.') Yes Kellen, you are blessed in this 'season' after your injury with ...'a time to heal...' Ecclesiastes 3:3 

'O Heavenly Love how precious still
In days of weariness and ill,
In nights of pain and helplessness,
To heal, to comfort and to bless.'


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Comments

9 Comments

Alan Arpin
By
Wow, six months, what an incredible journey you are on. One of great faith, miracles and hope. You all continue to be in our daily prayers. So excited for you Kellen that you are back in class...a little at a time and before you know it.....God has touched so many people with your story, your journey. Thanks be to God for his healing mercy. Big hugs and all our love and prayers,
The Arpin Family
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kateri neal
By The crazy Neal Clan
We love you all McCauley's and thank God every day for the gift of Kellen's renewed life and spirit!!!!!!!!
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Lynne Fairbanks
By Lynne Fairbanks
Thanks for the update! I was asking Nancy just the other day how everything was going!
Soooooo glad to hear how well you are doing, Kellen! (and family ) :) HUGS!!
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Laurie Karjalahti
By Laurie Karjalahti
Again beautifully written. Your faith has been amazing on this journey and Kellen's attitude is so fantastic!!
Continued blessings to all of you.
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Amy Ormiston
By Amy Ormiston
Thank you so much for this post, Jen! Congratulations to Kellen and the whole family for this amazing progress - it's truly a miracle! As I read these posts or speak/text with you, I am so inspired and so thankful! We love you so much and can't wait to see you again soon!
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Anne Highsmith
By Anne Highsmith
Thanks Jen. You're the best mom!
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Janet Feliciano
By Janet and Alisa
To heal, to comfort, and to bless. ❤️
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Kristi Lin
By Kristi Lin
Thank you for your beautiful update! CELEBRATING 6 Months of Miracles and recovery! Continued prayers for Kellen and your family. Cheering your family on....walking (running ;-)) on the path with you.
* A JOY to see you in person in Pullman.
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Jenni Boyd
By Jenni Boyd
McCauley family, praise God! We're so glad to hear how well Kellen is doing! We'll keep praying for his hand, wrist, and short-term memory loss... until then, he can always pretend to be Dory, right? :) Thank you for the updates, we are so blessed and inspired by your family. Love to you all.
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