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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.
Giving Thanks for Our Reality
Nov 28, 2013 9:30amHappy Thanksgiving!
We have learned this year how essential it is each day to give thanks for our blessings. This is how we grasp hold of hope and allow God's joy to fill our souls. It is our best defense against the Enemy. God always has a way to create good out of bad, if we only allow Him. As we have been advised, "Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God's Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy." (1 Tim. 4:4)
Since our Home Coming update we have had more celebrations. For awhile (after Tanner's last Botox injections) Tanner suffered from significant fatigue, enough so that we are wary of continuing any additional Botox treatments. In the last week or so, however, Tanner seems to have regained energy and alertness. We have reports of him being engaged in the classroom at school and participating with his fellow students. Tanner's nurse and therapists have been very excited about how well he has been doing the last few weeks in his therapy sessions. Tanner participated in a demonstration show on his horse at REACH and did well. Lately his posture in his stander has been so strong and erect. He has given a speech in his speech class. Last night he performed well at Scrabble with our family gathered around the table. We have had the joy of cheering together at many blowout victories by our Baylor Bears in the luxury of the Skybox with Tanner's frequent (and mostly accurate) predictions that "we will score in three plays." Perhaps the most consistently positive emotional times are just watching him sit in church and participate in singing songs to his Creator and Sustainer. (I've attached a pic of him being annoyed with my taking his picture at church.) These are all wonderful things to see.
There are also subtle but significant signs of continued emergence. These tend to come at unexpected moments. One night recently after we had prayed with Tanner and were saying goodnight, Tanner wouldn't let Carol leave as he began to share with her. Tanner said something like, "Yesterday I was in my own reality, but today I am in your reality. I want to stay in your reality." Several days later (and again at bedtime) after we had prayed with him, Tanner said "I want both of you to pray for me to stay in your reality." We aren't exactly sure what to make of these statements. Carol wonders if it relates to Tanner sometimes seeming to be in a zone, in his own world, but then other times being more engaged with us. I have speculated that it relates to him forgetting things. He has stated that he feels like he is still in 8th grade (when the accident occurred) though he knows he is now in 10th grade. But I think he is constantly wondering what on earth has happened and how to make things go back to being right.
In any event, I believe these comments are indicative of increased mental alertness, greater awareness of his struggles, and a desire for a return to normalcy. We are so thankful for this. I believe that as this process continues that it will be a significant catalyst for turning another corner and speeding up his process of return. I know that God is not yet done with the work that he began in Tanner and trust that He will be faithful to continue these miracles.
We all sometimes find ourselves emerging from a fog. We go about our routines and our little worries with little awareness for the greater drama in which we exist. We are each performing in a small corner of a larger stage. We have momentary glimpses of the bigger picture at times and these peeks at reality provide perspective on our momentary struggles--like standing on a summit and seeing the ant-like people slowly moving about a town far below our feet. Paul expressed a related observation: "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" (1 Corinth. 13:12)
So we have much to look forward to experiencing, both today and in our tomorrows. We celebrate the love of others for Tanner, recognizing how significant each of you are to Tanner. Today we will feast with family and friends. And hopefully stay grounded in a common reality with occasional clearing of the fog and appreciation for the beauty of what He is doing in our midst. Please pray that these good moments continue.
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