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March
26
2021

March 26, 2021

It has been a little while since i have posted an update on Josh's progress, which has been amazing.  He is doing very well, and rather than give you an update about him, I am going to allow Josh to update you himself.  This may be our final installment for awhile, but from Josh:

Hey everyone,

 

              I want to pen something to thank everyone who has reached out to my parents and me in regard to my brain injury that occurred last month. It was overwhelming to know how many people were worried about me. I want everyone to know how thankful I am for every comment and message, letting me know that prayers were coming my way. While I read over my dad’s Caring Bridge posts, I was blown away by the eloquent words he used to paint a vivid picture of the reality of my injury. In that moment, I just wanted to tell everyone “hey it’s all good,” because scaring anyone is the last thing I ever want to do. This injury allowed me to have alone time to reflect on the fragility of life. It was confirmation that I am lucky to have so many people who care about me. I hope that my actions and words will let everyone know how grateful I am for every person who has reached out to my family and me. We serve an awesome Almighty God who answered the prayers everyone sent up.

 

              As many know, I’m not the most patient person. I wanted to beat any problems that the TBI brought on as quickly as possible. I worked as hard as I could to “get back to normal.” I looked forward to appointments with my doctors, and anticipated being cleared and returning to my normal way of life. I was completely blown away by the first visit. Being exactly one month after the fall, I was hoping to get cleared upon arrival, and am so relieved to tell everyone that has happened.

 

             Prior to the visit, I thought being cleared was the most important information I would hear that day. However, my Neurologist left me with even more profound words. I want to share a tidbit of what he said to me with all of you. After handing me a letter of clearance, Dr. Capel began to dive into something that will stick with me forever. He began by telling me there are four pillars of faith to take away from this experience. The first: You have been given a huge gift and you can recognize that God has a plan for your life; Two: You have suffered and can now empathize with others who suffer, especially Jesus who suffered on the cross for your sins; Three: Recognize the people who God has put in your life to care for you in times of need; and Four: You are called to share your story and your gifts with others. After going through all these pillars, I was completely moved. It helped open my eyes to being as intentional as possible with all of my actions. Another piece that motivated me while I was with Dr. Capel was a reference he made to a verse from the book of Isaiah 64:8, stating that “we are broken cisterns, we all have leaks and cracks, but God is our master potter.” It really stuck with me. I found a little humor in it due to my cracked head, and a lot of truth due to the fact that we are all part of the Master Potter’s plan.

 

Beyond Grateful,

Josh

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March
26
2021

March 26, 2021

It has been a little while since i have posted an update on Josh's progress, which has been amazing.  He is doing very well, and rather than give you an update about him, I am going to allow Josh to update you himself.  This may be our final installment for awhile, but from Josh:

Hey everyone, 

              I want to pen something to thank everyone who has reached out to my parents and me in regard to my brain injury that occurred last month. It was overwhelming to know how many people were worried about me. I want everyone to know how thankful I am for every comment and message, letting me know that prayers were coming my way. While I read over my dad’s Caring Bridge posts, I was blown away by the eloquent words he used to paint a vivid picture of the reality of my injury. In that moment, I just wanted to tell everyone “hey it’s all good,” because scaring anyone is the last thing I ever want to do. This injury allowed me to have alone time to reflect on the fragility of life. It was confirmation that I am lucky to have so many people who care about me. I hope that my actions and words will let everyone know how grateful I am for every person who has reached out to my family and me. We serve an awesome Almighty God who answered the prayers everyone sent up.

 

              As many know, I’m not the most patient person. I wanted to beat any problems that the TBI brought on as quickly as possible. I worked as hard as I could to “get back to normal.” I looked forward to appointments with my doctors, and anticipated being cleared and returning to my normal way of life. I was completely blown away by the first visit. Being exactly one month after the fall, I was hoping to get cleared upon arrival, and am so relieved to tell everyone that has happened. 

             Prior to the visit, I thought being cleared was the most important information I would hear that day. However, my Neurologist left me with even more profound words. I want to share a tidbit of what he said to me with all of you. After handing me a letter of clearance, Dr. Capel began to dive into something that will stick with me forever. He began by telling me there are four pillars of faith to take away from this experience. The first: You have been given a huge gift and you can recognize that God has a plan for your life; Two: You have suffered and can now empathize with others who suffer, especially Jesus who suffered on the cross for your sins; Three: Recognize the people who God has put in your life to care for you in times of need; and Four: You are called to share your story and your gifts with others. After going through all these pillars, I was completely moved. It helped open my eyes to being as intentional as possible with all of my actions. Another piece that motivated me while I was with Dr. Capel was a reference to a verse from the book of Isaiah 64:8, stating that “we are broken cisterns, we all have leaks and cracks, but God is our master potter.” It really stuck with me, found a little humor due to my cracked head, and a lot of truth due to the fact that we are all part of the Master Potter’s plan. 

 


Beyond Grateful,

Josh

March
10
2021

March 10, 2021

Yesterday marked one month since Josh’s unexplained fall at work. February 9, 2021, is a day none of us will soon forget.  One minute we are celebrating our son-in-law’s birthday over dinner in Lagrange, Georgia, and the next we are racing to Birmingham because we learned of Josh’s fall.  So much has happened since, and we have the benefit of answered prayers to reflect upon -and there have been so many.  I’ve always appreciated the wisdom of former New York Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra, like “hindsight is 50-50,” but today it is 20-20 when reflecting on so many answered prayers.

So many things had to go right for Josh to be where he is today.  First, his best friend and co-worker saw him fall and rushed to his side; he stayed with him, saw Josh was seriously injured and called 911.  If it weren’t for Carson witnessing the fall and having the good judgment to call 911, it’s certain Josh would be facing a different outcome.  Thank you God that Josh fell in front of friend that cared enough to make that call, and to make it quickly.  

Thank God for the tremendous medical staff at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, from the ER staff, to all the nurses, therapists, doctors, food service folks, and the folks that cleaned his room, they always had a kind word no matter the mood Josh was in - and head injury patients are not always the most cooperative or pleasant people when their injury, and not reason, are controlling their behavior.  But a special thanks to Drs. Capel, Sharma, Miller, B (Belotserkovskaya - go ahead, try and pronounce it for fun), and Dr. Rourke.  And so many good nurses. One I will never forget, and who I only crossed paths with twice - Shiela. She wasn’t Josh’s nurse, but on a night when Josh’s injury left him particularly anxious, and a bit combative, and just “out of it,” he proclaimed he’d had enough of the hospital and was leaving.  He packed his bag and started walking for a door to freedom.  I tried to coax him back to the room, but he would have none of it. Cutting to the chase, the announcement of a code gray was called over the intercom, and for our exact location!  Hmmmm.  Out of nowhere a dozen or more nurses - one the size of a defensive tackle - appeared out of thin air and created a soft surround.  Nobody came to grab Josh to force him to do anything. Then Sheila talked to him in a soft, respectful and loving voice. She was never rushed or instructing.  She just talked like a wise aunt or a grandmother; she talked about all the people that loved Josh and that were praying for him.  Ultimately she put her arm on his shoulder and walked him back to his room.  I only saw Sheila one more time in the hallway the following night.  If it weren’t for COVID restrictions I would have hugged all the breath out of her. But I just thanked her and asked how she hid her wings while working. The woman is an angel.  Thank you God for Sheila that night.  

A few days later Josh started progressing so well that the doctors started discussing discharging Josh to an in-patient rehab facility.  Another couple of days later we learned that Josh was “too high functioning” for an in-patient facility.  That was a shock for parents that still saw so far to Josh to get all the way back. But again it was a blessing.  On February 23rd, Josh was discharged to receive ongoing occupational and speech/cognitive therapy on an outpatient basis.  After only two weeks in the hospital they were telling us to take Josh home because he was too high functioning.  Again, while we feared whether out-patient care was the appropriate choice, and questioned why the professionals thought Josh was “too high functioning,” it was another blessing in disguise. Josh first came to stay with us in a house offered to us by James & Karen Pittman (what a blessing to have a home to come to instead of a hotel room.  We can’t thank you enough.)    Simple things like sitting around just talking to Josh about life, Auburn football, music, and so much more just opened up opportunities for Josh to engage, talk, read and watch tv.  And all of that is helping Josh’s injured brain continue to connect dots and make connections.  Everyday we see more of our son.  Thank you God for putting wise professionals in charge of directing Josh’s care. 

I don’t want to paint too rosey  of a picture.   Josh’s  days still have challenges, and he has farther to go in his recovery.  He gets impatient and anxious to go farther faster, but the success thus far breeds greater hope for a complete recovery in due time.  But looking back over the last month, and hearing the very realistic thoughts of his physicians that recovery could take 6, 9 or 12 month, or longer, it is nothing short of a miracle that Josh is doing as well as he is.  Nine days into his hospitalization his care team was amazed that he could control his bowels well enough to use a bedside commode.  Twenty-one days later (yesterday) he walked 5 miles with Suzanne and me.   Thank you God for the strength and recuperative power that so often comes with youth. Given what we feared about how long recovery could be, I recall Pastor Larry Patton’s recent use of another Yogi Berra-ism: “the future ain’t what it used to be.”  Or better said, it doesn’t look like we feared it would.  Thank you God.

And last night we celebrated Josh’s birthday (a few days early).  We sat in a great restaurant in Birmingham and enjoyed a meal together that only two an a half weeks ago seemed like an impossibility, a dream.  But miracles do happen, and prayers do get answered, and we are so very thankful for both of these in Josh’s recovery.  But if the recovery were different, or if God’s will were for it to be different in any way, God would be just as great and we would be praying for greater strength still and deeper understanding. So thanks and praise for Josh’s ongoing recovery, and prayers that it continue, and that God reveal for Josh why he has been granted this great gift of recovery, and guide and direct his path.  Thank you God for family and friends, and a faith community that prays without ceasing.  

Thank you to all who have offered prayers.   Please keep it up - they are being heard and answered!
David and Suzanne


March
4
2021

March 4, 2021

Hello all.  Thankfully I can say I don't have to apologize for not posting because so much has been happeing. Instead, while a lot has happened, it has been a week of slow and steady progress.  As a good friend of mine tries to remind me about getting in shape, "by the inch it's a cinch." (Thanks Cliff Harris!)   That admonition works well for Josh in his recovery.  He has made great strides in both physical and occupational therapy, with his gross and fine motor skills returning nicely.  He is going to work with a personal trainer to make sure that his strength returns as well in those areas.  We learned that one week in bed can cause the average person to loose 20-25% of their overall strength - core strength and extremities.  This is why PT and OT are so important when a person is in the hospital. Josh spent 8 days in ICU, and 6 on a medical floor, with limited movement, but PT and OT started early and continued throughout his stay.  And it continues out patient as well. 

Speech is the same way.  But it's a little more difficult to notice. But Josh is doing regular speech therapy to increase his cognitive function and ability to complete words and thoughts.   To talk to him when he is "on" it would be difficult to notice any problems at all; writing and reading comprehension lag a little behind speech, but he is getting better every day. And his medications effect his speech as well.   Please keep his recovery in your prayers. He is doing great for being just three weeks out from a very serious injury that left him with two bleeds/hemorrhages in his brain, but he has a hundred small but important steps to go before he is fully recovered.  We give praise to God above for the progress made, and continue to pray for the recovery to be complete.  Thank you to all of our friends, family and strangers that have kept Josh in your  prayers.  Please continue to keep his recovery in your prayers while he runs the race that is set before him.  Hebrews 12:1.      And please continue to meditate upon  Isaiah 40:28-31 as you pray for Josh.
David and Suzanne

February
26
2021

February 26, 2021

Hello friends.  We wanted to provide a quick update on Josh's progress in therapy.   The updates may become a little more spread out going forward due to Josh begining his out-patient therapy. He will only be receiving his OT and ST twice a week each, and both on Mondays and Wednesdays.  He will be doing some work from home as directed by his therapists, and in using a really neat app: Advance Language Therapy.  Think of this like a home-gym for the language centers in your brain.  They seem basic at first, but when you think of how we exercise our muscles in a workout program, it is the same.  Repetative expercises to strengthen certain muscle groups.  Speech and cognitive therapy is much the same - repetative exercise will strengthen the portions of his brain that have been injured from his fall, and will work those parts to hopefully regain the "brain-strength" the same way you would strenthen an injured muscle.  Josh's verbal skills are advancing far ahead of his comprehension, word and concept recall, and written communication.   It is a process, and he is and will continue to work through these areas.  

The process of regaining cognitive/brain strength is something that can take some time, we have been told.  Depending on which doctor or therapist we talk to the predictions range from 3-6 months, to 9 months, to even a year or more.   We are praying and hoping for the fullest and quickest recovery possible.  We just want our son back in body, mind and spirit.  So please keep Josh's recovery in prayers daily.  We will be working with him on his off days, and continuing search for further options to hasten his full return.  

Isaiah 40:28-31

David

February
24
2021

February 24, 2021

Hello Friends.   Today's post is the first in three days.  Not a lot happened Sunday to Tuesday afternoon, then a whole lot happened at once.   Josh continued to progress in speech, occupational and physical therapy well from Friday to Sunday, and Monday began the efforts of finding him an in-patient cognitive and occupational therapy center to transfer to.   Josh's physical deficits, which were originally limited to his right arm/hand, resolved fairly quickly, and fairly soon thereafter as his frustration began to grow about being in the hospital grew, he took to taking walks all around the floor he was on.  

Then late yesterday afternoon we were informed that Josh was ready to be discharged. We were informed that Josh is too high functioning to be admitted in-patient.  Our first night out of the hospital was good.  Josh was much more relaxed. Sat up talking to us late into the evening. We went to bed around 11:00, and he is still sleeping at 9:00am. The real challenge is getting ready to begin.  We need to get him into a speech and occupational rehab program as an outpatient -  quickly - to keep his recovery moving forward. That process has already begun, but we will be our own care coordinators, with a TBI patient and a prescription for OT and ST in hand.  The hospital care coordinator is willing to assist and guide us, but as Josh is no longer a patient of the hospital, she cannot coordinate a transfer/admission.  The doctors have been great and their offices will provide whatever is necessary to help us fascilitate getting Josh into a program for treatment. 

We are not upset with Josh being discharged, quite the opposite, but I can definitely see gaps in the system. The rehab facilities say Josh is too high functioning for in-patient rehab, but he can’t just stay in a hospital on BC/BS’s dime; all of his doctors and therapists say he needs continuing ST and OT, yet all in-patient rehab centers say they can’t take him because he’s too physically advanced in his recovery.  He doesn’t need to be wheeled from room to room.  (My frustration, not their words) So he’s left to seek out-patient care on his own, with a prescription in hand for 6 weeks of ST and OT, then will be reevaluated. If we weren’t here to assist, at some point, Josh would have been discharged on his own, and sent on his way.  He wouldn’t understand the discharge documents/instructions, his prescriptions (or how to fill them), or how to get the therapy set up.  And he would do all of this while not being allowed to drive a car.  It is easy to see how people fall through the cracks in the healthcare system. It is not for want of care from the providers. It is a product of an imperfect system in an imperfect world.   But it's also a reason to remember to be empathetic and sympathetic to people when you don't understand their circumstances, or what life events have left them in the place they currenlty occupy.  Thank God we are able to help, thank God we have a great support system of family and friends, and that God Josh is cooperating with us. 

Josh has his first evaluation from an out-patient rehab center tomorrow, and has his first f
ollow up visit with his neurologist and neurosurgeon in 4-6 weeks.  We, of course, hope that Josh makes a quick and complete recovery, but the but doctors and therapists are saying to be prepared for more like 3- 9 months. 

The doctors and therapists have said that Josh has plateaued, and now needs more focused attention on speech and occupational therapy.  They may describe where Josh is as a plateau, but we are ready to start climbing the mountain.  Please keep the prayers coming!

Isaiah 40:28-31.

David and Suzanne

 

February
22
2021

February 21, 2021

Hello friends.  I am thankful that today (thus far) has been a pretty uneventful day.  Josh remains on a medical floor as he continues receiving therapy and treatment in the hospital while we prepare for an eventual move to a rehab facility.  The time on the floor is being spent mostly balancing and figuring out his correct meds to keep him seizure free, yet coherent enough for meaningful therapy and cognitive rehabilitation.  This has been interesting.  Josh has progressed more in his verbal skills than he has in his cognitive and reasoning skills.  So while he understands that he hit his head and is in the hospital, he wants to get out and go home right now, and voices this thought often and with force. He has no real concept of how badly injured he truly is. The doctors are talking months-long recovery, or longer, and Josh believes he can go home today. And he truly believes it. It is not like a mistake in a calculation, he believes it with every once of his being.  It is the nature of his traumatic brain injury. And it can also impact his cooperation with treatment and therapy, which will be critically important to a full recovery. Last night and today he attempted twice to undergo an MRI, but could not complete it.  It is so hard to understand without experiencing it, and then it's still hard to understand, and even harder to explain. It's a bit like watching someone struggling to keep their head above water, telling you that they can swim, while they are sinking.  And it is why continued prayers are needed for Josh.

Please keep the prayers coming. He and we will need them in the weeks and months ahead.  There will be trials and bumps along the way, but there is no option.  We will move forward day by day, hour by hour.   Thank you again for your continued prayers.  Isaiah 40:28-31

David and Suzanne

February
20
2021

February 20, 2021

Hello all.  A short message from a very tired parent this morning.  Josh's move out of the ICU and into a room on a medical floor is a big sign of progress, but it brings with it new stresses. I spent 14 hours with Josh yesterday - much of it watching him sleep.  When awake, at times, Josh's verbal skills show some real improvement, but memory, reasoning and cognition are still a big issue. The doctor's are going to be "tweeking" his meds to find the right balance between preventing seizures and keeping him alert enough for meaningful therapy, and later rehabilitation.  The challenge for Josh is that he is with it enough to know some things very well, and to verbalize beyond what you might expect from a brain-injured patient, but he does not grasp the seriousness of the injury he suffered, nor the road ahead of him.  I am not sure Suzanne and I fully understand it yet, and we are (I hope) above average in our abiity to understand what the doctors are telling us.  So prayers for patience and and understanding are what we need; that we have a loving and caring tone when times get frustrating. It will be harder for Josh, but it will be difficult for all, but Suzanne and I need prayers for strength in the storm.  I have heard it said before the a pessimist curses the wind, an optimist thinks the wind will change, but a leader adjusts his sails.  We will have to have our hands on the ropes to trim the sails often on this journey.  All of Josh's successes bring great hope for a full recovery, but seeing him struggle with things that he could -- and we all do -- every day is a reminder that there is a lot of work to do, and recovery to be gained back.  Please stay strong in your prayers. Thank God EVERY day for the gift of life, health, family, and a community that will hold you up when your own legs fail.

There are so many silent angels that have lifted us up and covered us with their wings of Christian charity, offered their homes, and most importantly offered their prayers.   My son-in-law did me a favor and brought me some note cards so that I could write some thank you notes to our friends and family that have offered so much. But I learned one thing very quickly - I don't have enough cards, nor do i have the time to write more than these posts. I'm not even sure I have enough ink. So until our lives normalize a bit, please let this post and every post that I write be a shout of thanks and praise to the wonderful friends Suzanne and I enjoy and that are holding us up now.  From SanDiego to Springfield, OR, to New Orleans, and on and on; to all over Georgia, Florida and Alabama, but especially our Carrollton (City of Dreams is an accurate name, and dreams in friends come true) and Birmingham (Jack, Mags, Dana, Kari, Krissi; Daisy; and so many others); and to my "lawyer friends" all over the country - this inludes you, Linda Golkow and your great group (go Bills - you know who you are); and friends I have never even  met, Stephen D.(an angel in his own right, but that's for another day).   Please just know that we are, will remain and forever be eternally grateful for the prayers, best wishes, notes of encouragement, and gifts of food, flowers, and necessities that show up everyday. Thank you.    

I want to end today's post with the same verses I have been including - Isaih 40:28-31 - and add Hebrews 12:1-2.  "Let us throw off everything that hinders  and the sin that so easily ensnares, and run with perseverance the race that is marked out before us. . ."  The race back to Josh is getting ready to begin, pray for perseverance for all involved in the running. 


Thank  you, in Him, 
David and Suzanne