Tanner’s Story

Thank you for visiting our CaringBridge site. We created it to keep family and friends updated on Tanner's condition. We will also use it post any prayer requests. Please feel free to sign our guestbook and leave an encouraging word. 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. 

Carol, Travis, and Tanner Underwood were in a serious car accident on I-35 Friday, March 23. Carol and Travis had minor cuts and bruises, but Tanner was flown to Scott and White in Temple to treat head injuries. He was sedated in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where doctors monitored the swelling in his brain and brain activity. After several weeks Tanner began to experience partial consciousness, opening one eye and making a few gestures in response to our commands. He stabilized.

One month later he was transferred to a Baylor-affiliated rehab in Dallas called Our Children's House where they specialize in treating pediatric victims of traumatic brain injury. Rather than focus on rehab here, we fought "storming" for multiple weeks. When this was finally brought under control, Tanner faced some significant GI tract inflammation and infection. At the end of six weeks, we were able to arrange through our insurer for Tanner to move to Cook's Children's Hospital in Fort Worth in it's rehab unit where we stayed for another four months. While at Cook's Tanner had surgery, got off some of his powerful (but inhibiting drugs), obtained a Baclofen pump (implanted in his abdomen), increasingly displayed more alertness and responsiveness.  In short, he finally emerged from his coma. He began to answer questions with signals from his eyes, hands and feet. One of the most glorious days was when he demonstrated that he still had the ability to read.  Then he showed he could still do math, even algebra.  He began to work with an in-hospital school teacher and even was able to write messages to us. On October 3, 2012 we had a glorious homecoming parade awaiting us in our neighborhood and we brought Tanner back home--his first chance to be home since the late afternoon of that fateful day in March. We were able to hire a full-time (M-F) nurse and this has been a huge blessing, allowing Carol to return to work.  In January, 2013 Tanner began to return to school, on a very limited basis.  He has been doing significant therapy at Hope Therapy in Waco.  And he returned to school on a M-F basis in August 2013 attending regular classes each morning and then doing therapy at Hope each afternoon.  He has also been blessed with speech therapy through Baylor University.  He still must use a wheelchair as his left side body movements are very minimal (the leg and especially the arm).

Tanner speaks with friends (labored but still speaking), he laughs, he shows his old wit, he plays video games, he watches his favorite Seinfeld episodes on t.v., he goes to Baylor basketball and football games again.  There is laughter in our home where once our lives were filled with tears, sorrow, grief, horror, and fear.  We have Hope.

Our path is long, non-linear, and full of intimidating challenges still. But we have already known joy and experienced celebrations.

We are in a place where angels (posing as nurses, doctors, school teachers, and therapists) serve as the hands and feet of God making miracles happen. And so we await our continued miracle, letting Tanner's mind continue to heal and his cognitive thoughts re-emerge as God knits him back together again.

Please join us on this journey of faith and healing. Please pray for our family (Tanner, his parents Carol & Jim, and his older brothers Travis &Tyler). We are asking God to heal him as we learn to trust in His goodness and love for us all.

Tanner's life is God's glory.

Latest Journal Update

Emerging from the Valley of the Shadow of our Fears

Though it is often increasingly hard to remember what life was really like before Tanner's accident, we are all stunned that today is the 3-year anniversary (if that's an appropriate word) of Tanner's life-changing accident.  Tanner agrees that it does not seem like 3 years have passed, but of course he was in a fog for a big chunk of that time so that is understandable.

In Years 1 and 2 the anniversary happened on a weekend and we took extra steps to commemorate Tanner's life.  I'll never forget going out for breakfast at the Olive Branch and sitting right in front of the wall scripted with words of Hope (from the story of Noah receiving the olive branch).  Today it happens on a Monday and we are all doing very ordinary things.  We have a new routine and we are simply living this new life.

I haven't posted recently because there is not always something newsworthy to report at regular intervals.  But life continues, recovery occurs (often very subtly), and I want to take this brief moment to express gratitude to God and all of you.

Since our last post, we travelled to Macon, GA for a great Thanksgiving. Just being able to travel there again was a huge milestone to pass.  We enjoyed the Christmas holidays at home and then got to spend six wonderful weeks with Carol's Mom visiting us.  Tanner loved playing Yahtzee and other games with his Mammaw regularly.  Tanner has maintained exceptional grades in all of his classes (somehow) and increasingly demonstrates an ability to absorb new material.  We are so thankful for these things.  Tanner has also continued with a steady dose of therapies, both formal (at Hope and Baylor) and informal (at home, especially on the weekends).  He received a recumbent exercise bike at Christmas and has demonstrated some terrific potential at pedaling that bike (he broke the first one within 48 hours; the second model has proven sturdier).  Last week he received from Hope a new actual recumbent bike for use on the streets. I'm attaching a picture of him riding it the first day in our driveway.  The recent rains have precluded opportunities to try the bike again but on the first day of use he surprised us with his ability to pedal and steer and brake on his own so easily. We even recently were finally able to wrap up a legal proceeding involving our under-insured motorist coverage.  The incredibly gracious lawyers, paralegals and staff at Harrison, Steakley & Morrison were just wonderful to us (in ways that would shock most of you) and hit a home run for Tanner.  (My unsolicited advice for all of you is to buy as much under-insured motorist coverage as your agent will sell you.)  We also have a new nurse named David who shows great enthusiasm for Tanner's progress nearly every day.  Transitioning to a new nurse causes worries but we know that God brought David to us at the perfect time.

Life continues to roll on.  Travis is finishing his second year of law school and already has his first post-law school job lined up with a federal judge in East Texas.  This summer he will be clerking at two firms, one of which I worked at for ten years.  That is very exciting to see.  And Tyler is weighing offers from four incredible Math Ph.D. programs that will, regrettably, take him thousands of miles from Waco, Texas for the next five years.  So we are trying to absorb as much family time together as possible before Tanner's brothers leave Waco.

There are days that are filled with enthusiastic shrieks of joy when Tanner demonstrates something wonderful.  And still dark days filled with Carol and I feeling defeated and losing our minds.  But the overarching Truth is that Tanner continues in his recovery.  And momentary glimpses of his old self portend for a still miraculous recovery from these devastating injuries. We will never give up Hope; doing so would be irrational and unfaithful.  

We are so thankful that today we need not visit a gravesite and pretend to talk to our son. He will be home awaiting us at the end of the day with a big smile, tales of his day, and living a life of hope for a better tomorrow.  Thank you God for the life you give us and for sustaining us and walking with us even when we detour needlessly (though inevitably) through the valley of the shadow of our fears. And thank you all for continuing to lift all of us up in your prayers.  Even today we've already had multiple people reach out to us and share they they steadfastly pray for us.  Keep those reminders coming because they still mean more to us than you can every really understand.

Please pray for us to not grow weary, for us to gain wisdom from our visit with a Houston rehab doctor on Wednesday, for continued strength in Tanner's legs and core muscles, for Tanner to turn the corner in terms of becoming more self-motivated with his recovery, and for us to remain close to God under all circumstances.  

Tanner's story continues.

"I will give you My strength to help you stand in high places." II Samuel 22:33-34
18 people hearted this



Andrea Sulak
By Andrea
Thrilled to read an update. As I'm typing this message, and seeing the Houston skyline from my office, I realize you are in Houston at your appointment. God's riches blessing to your whole family. Your updates inspire me and help me to remember to keep you in my prayers.
Deborah Warren
By Deborah Warren
I'm inspired each time I read your post. Your love for your Lord and for your family shine as you tell about Tanners recovery and the everyday struggles that you are faced with. There truely is HOPE! God is holding us in his hands. Continue to embrace God's love as you enter each new day. I love you all.
Kris Gammage
By Kris Gammage
So good to read your update, see progress In Tanner's life and get a glimpse of what God has done and continues to do in your lives
1 person hearted this
Jerilynn Zwier
What an update and a great reminder that we can continously pray for the Underwood family in this journey. Thanks for sharing. We will continue to pray.
1 person hearted this
Roy Hulse
By Roy Hulse+
Your word's are very encouraging, and I pray for all you ask for. Your family deserve's everything that are great God delivers to you all. Never give up HOPE, because where there is life there is HOPE, and as you know as well as I do that with God all is possible+
1 person hearted this
Ella Snodgrass
Tears as I read of miracles and God's ever faithful, abundant grace & mercy extended to us. Continuing to pray for specific needs and so excited to see how the answers arrive. God be praised! You all are deeply loved.
1 person hearted this
Julie Corley
By Julie Corley
So grateful for the update--thank you!
1 person hearted this
Pam Robinson
By Pam Robinson
I also continue to pray for your family and especially for Tanner. Your statement of thanks for having Tanner sure hits home with me ~ life is so precious and every moment together a gift. Blessings to you all. love - Pam
1 person hearted this