Tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary since Payne's car accident. On one hand, it seems like so much has happened since that fateful day, yet at the same time, the memories of those first 8 weeks following his injury are still very fresh. We thought it is an appropriate time to give everyone an update on Paynes' life and recovery, especially to those of you who live out of state.
Payne is starting his second semester at Trine University (see posted photo). He did very well in the fall semester earning good grades in all of his classes (3.33 GPA). This semester he has a very heavy course load taking 18 hours that includes Calculus 2, Chemistry 2, Physics, Technical Communications and Intro to Bio-Medical Engineering. He is already very busy with studying and completing homework. He has done a great job of taking care of business such as ordering textbooks, organizing his schedule, meeting with professors, etc. This can often be difficult for freshman, let alone students with injuries like Payne's, but he seems to handle it fine. He has also gotten very involved with The Christian Campus House which is a large student organization at Trine.
Payne still works with Dr. Hauser when he comes home during breaks from school. Dr. Hauser and all of his office staff have been incredibly dedicated to Payne's continued recovery. He gives Payne exercises to complete at school. These exercises are not like the typical kinds of exercises. They are designed to help Payne map his brain to overcome the remaining injured areas and result in improvement in his walking. Many of these exercises require someone to provide resistance to Payne while he does various movements. Therefore, we have hired a student who is majoring in exercise science to work out with Payne several days a week. Payne has reported that these sessions are really productive and helpful. When I last posted in July, Payne had just run 2 laps around the high school track. His form was not great, but he gutted through it. Since summer, we have noticed that Payne's walking pace continues to improve. However, he still has issues with his left big toe wanting to curl under when he walks barefoot. The progress has been slower than Payne would like, but the good news is that he is still improving. He continues to work very hard on this because he wants to be able to run and walk with perfect form.
On Labor Day weekend, Mark was able to get Payne in with Dr. Zelinsky, a neuro-optometrist located in Chicago. We found out about her through a local family whose son suffered a similar injury as Payne. She is also featured in a book called "A Ghost In My Brain". Her internationally known work is getting more and more attention because of what she is able to do with people suffering from traumatic brain injuries. I can write several pages about what she does, but will instead try to sum it up in a few sentences. She is able to re-map brains through special lenses placed in eyeglasses. As the brain re-maps itself, the lenses will need modified. Eventually the patient will not even need the glasses as the brain changes. When Payne had his first appointment with her, Mark and I must have looked like fools with our mouths hanging open. It was unbelievable how she could make changes by simply putting lenses in front of Payne's eyes. Even with his eyes closed, the lenses changed his abilities because the science is related to how light hits the retinas. For example, when she rang a bell near Payne while his eyes were shut, she would ask him to point to the bell. He was way off with some of locations without the lenses. Other areas he was spot on. It was really bizarre to watch This would explain why he would get fatigued so easily when in class because his brain had to work overtime in sorting out the various inputs. However, when she put the corrective lenses in front of his eyes (while they were still closed), Payne could point to the bell every time with complete accuracy. Payne is currently on his third set of lenses (just arrived on Saturday). The changes we have seen since September has been significant. Dr. Zelinsky is very pleased with how well he is progressing. Although visiting her office in Chicago can be a challenge, it has been well worth it. Dr. Zelinsky says that this new pair of lenses should even help Payne's walking...we are eager to see if that happens. Please say an extra prayer for that outcome.
The Play 4 Payne Foundation is still active (thank you to the board members--Beth Rogers, Dan Bennett, Rocky Phillips and Mike Kirchens). In August, the Bellbrook soccer team held the 2nd Annual Play 4 Payne Foundation game with Centerville and raised over $2500 for the Foundation. We also had several people donate in memory of Payne's paternal grandmother, Lorie, who passed away suddenly in September. In addition to providing Young Life Camp scholarships to students each year, the Foundation has helped out other traumatic brain injury patients and their families. Given the great success Payne has seen with Dr. Zelinsky, the Foundation is now going to help fund others to be evaluated by her and pay for their initial glasses and a follow-up pair. The first recipient is a girl from Minnesota who is the same age as Payne. She had her accident in November 2014. On January 4, she had her first appointment and received her first pair of glasses. Payne and I were able to be there the same day as her because he had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Zelinsky.
We know that we are very fortunate that Payne is able to successfully go to college, drive a car, and basically live a normal life. We are encouraged because so many people have shared with us that they feel like Payne's personality and wit are so similar to what he was like before January 19, 2014. He would love to see the rest of his physical challenges go away completely, but the good news is that they are still improving and he is able to get around campus with no issues. Thank you again to everyone's continued support.