Journal

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

Didrik has been a part of our family since August 8, 2018. Just two weeks before that, we learned about him, and we knew it was God's plan for him to live with us for the year.

We had great times together...seeing the sights in the Los Angeles area in September, hiking the Grand Canyon & Carlsbad Caverns in December.  We introduced him to our schools, sports, church, food, and more.  Undoubtedly there were aspects of American life that he wasn't so fond of, but hopefully there were many other things that he found endearing. 

He taught us about some of his Norwegian ways, too. We were able to experience Pinnekjøtt (steamed salted lamb ribs), brown cheese, and Nisse around Christmas. Countless conversations about everyday life helped us understand his perspective on things. We were also blessed to get to know his parents when they came in March.

He liked to mow, which was perfect for Kim...she didn't have to climb on the mower once while he was here. He also helped out with odd jobs around the house, including helping Morgan tear apart the upstairs so she could catch a mouse!

Caleb started talking about how much we were going to miss Didrik even before the wreck. It was nice they were able to say goodbye to each other a few days before Didrik had to leave. They were often found doing "boy things" together like airsoft wars, going to air shows, & shooting hoops.  Being more fit than the rest of us, I remember seeing them as dots ahead and above us climbing up the South Kaibab trail at the Grand Canyon.

An interest in aviation is what prompted us to choose him, and we hope that he continues to enjoy it throughout his life. We certainly made memories...some good & some bad, but our lives were enriched by having him here...hopefully he can say the same. Until we meet again, so long, Didrik!
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Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

A Happy Father's Day Weekend, Making Joyful Noises.



We had a nice, slower weekend, with Caleb having both a lighter therapy schedule and a great visit from Grandpa and two of his teachers from Clearwater!

This weekend we passed the 100 days mark.  Many thanks to all who have sent Father’s Day well-wishes our way.  Nobody ever thinks they’d be happy to be spending holidays in a hospital, but indeed we are… as the worse alternative was all too near too many times in the last 102 days.  Not just grateful to be spending these days in the hospital, but praising the Good Lord for all he has done to get us here, and excitedly awaiting what is yet to come. 

A few milestones with pictures from the past few days:
- Caleb passed the 300 ft mark walking in a single PT session, so we know he's good for a full football field now.  He has also started stairs, car transfers, & bathtub transfers, and is doing great!  
- Dad may not be a Speech Therapist, but he is an expert at eating ice cream...giving Caleb an A+ on spooning up the orange sherbet!  Not only tasty, but a big step helping move him toward learning to eat normally, and eventually getting rid of the feeding tube.

Here are a few snippets of some of the Joyful Noises we got to hear this weekend: 

  • Caleb is becoming more aware of others around him that are also working hard on their rehab.  In the therapy gym Friday, one 16 yr old boy was taking some of his 1st steps after a brain injury, and we started cheering him on.  Joining right in, Caleb belted out the loudest voice we’ve heard from him yet, with a series of “GO, Jackson, GO!” shouts.  Very exciting to both see Caleb’s lungs and voice growing stronger, and another young man making strides in his recovery from such a challenging injury!  

  • When Caleb was in the PICU, Grandpa spoke many times of how much he missed hearing Caleb’s “Hi Grandpa” greeting.  Immediately upon hearing Grandpa’s voice when he arrived Saturday, Caleb responded with an unprompted, hearty “Hi Grandpa,” bringing instant tears of joy!

  • Just as many have taught their children to say their “ABC’s” or sing “Happy Birthday” while washing their hands, we’ve been doing that the past week with Caleb trying to reconnect the hand-washing parts of his brain as well as speech elements.  Having done a pretty good job with both ABC and Happy B-day songs for a couple days, I suggested this morning in jest that he could do the Star Spangled Banner as a 3rd option.  Vwalla!  Without hesitation, he launched into reciting the National Anthem while scrubbing his hands, and with the exception of one repeated line, he rattled it off completely as the nurses and I stood by astonished!  The next time we were at the sink scrubbing paws, I offered him 4 options, with the 4th being “Rock Chalk, three times”.  I couldn’t get my phone out fast enough…he dove right in with 3 very strong “Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Go KU’s”, I managed to catch the last one on video!  National Anthem…check, Kansas “Anthem”…check.

  • In addition to playing traditional percussion instruments in band, Caleb could often be found plinking on the keyboard trying to teach himself a few songs, when his iPad screen time had been exhausted.  While cruising the halls of the hospital this weekend, Grandpa spotted a piano in the chapel and suggested letting Caleb try to play a bit.  Sure enough, in short time, he was finding familiar keys, and at least trying to key a chord or two and a simple tune.  Never really being much for scripture memorization, I couldn’t help but hear the words of Psalm 100 in my head as Caleb keyed the piano.  The scene of the vertical piano in the chapel and its sound reminded me of when I was about Caleb’s age, singing with the Kansas Boys' Choir.  One of our favorite songs was Psalm 100 (Clausen): https://youtu.be/bbh6mJyrPYE which starts out with “Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord”…what a Joyful Noise the Lord is making through Caleb!


While I’ve relied on songs & acronyms to try to remember things, Caleb has always been a sponge for memorizing scripture (and everything else, it seems), and we know from Isaiah that God’s word will not be returned empty:

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)


Thanks to one of the kids’ songs they used to sing for scripture memorization, within seconds of learning of the accident, I found strength and focus from the Holy Spirit found in Joshua 1:9 which got me home from Germany, and helps get me through each day still:


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)


This Father’s Day, know that:


Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. (Proverbs 14:26)

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

While there haven't been any new breakthroughs in the last week, plenty has been happening with our family.

Didrik is able to enjoy the sights of Washington DC, New York City, and Philadelphia thanks to one of his Norwegian friends who is also an exchange student.  We can't wait to hear all about it when he returns.

Morgan has been working hard around the house and at summer league softball.  She loves playing catcher.

Kim has been hobbling around the house without her cane!  The physical therapy that she's attending three times a week has made a huge difference in how well she's able to get around.

Caleb has been continuing to walk, gaining more strength and endurance daily.  He's also speaking more and doing well with speech therapy.  For him, the recovery has been slow but steady, with breakthroughs every now and then.  The attached picture shows just how tall Caleb's growing...he looks a bit shorter in the picture, but his legs are slightly bent.  Mom's getting to be the short one in the family!

This week I've been challenged by 2 Corinthians 5:7, where Paul talks about walking (living) by faith and not by sight.  While we have no idea what the future holds, God does, and he's been working this entire time. It's tough sometimes to trust His promises because we can't see what's in store, but living by faith means that we can rest in Him and not worry about how things seem to be going right now, or what tomorrow brings.

Thanks to those who have been approaching the throne of grace on our behalf.  God continues to walk with us through this challenging time.  Please keep up the prayers...we have a few requests:
  • Pray that Caleb will be able to sleep better at night.

  • Pray for restoration of Caleb’s vision.

  • Pray that Caleb's upcoming facial reconstruction surgery will go smoothly.

  • Pray for Didrik's return to Norway coming up this month.  We will definitely miss him.

  • Pray for safe travels for friends and family going to and from Lincoln.

  • Pray for our family's continued separation during this time.

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

What significance does the number 110 have?


A. Voltage required for the RV that a good friend is letting us borrow to stay in the hospital parking lot while Caleb is at Madonna! 

B. Approximate number of minutes it takes for family & friends to travel from home to Madonna, thanks to our pilot friends & angelflightcentral.org !

C. Approximate number of days until the Corvette for Caleb Raffle winner is announced!

D. The number of feet Caleb walked on his 1st day of trying!

E. All of the above!

 

 

Answer: E, ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!!  On his very 1st try walking during PT this afternoon, aided only in balance by the therapists, Caleb stepped his way from the therapy room all the way down the hall to the nurses station, a total of 110 feet!  Red Shoes are back in action!


Once again, thank you to everyone for the continued prayers and support, another miraculous day for our boy.  We, along with many nurses, therapists, and doctors have huge smiles in awe of how the Lord is answering prayers and putting this incredible young man back together!


Please note that while CaringBridge is a terrific site, and we encourage folks to support it, be aware that any contributions on the ‘Tributes’ page go to the website company, not the family.  

For those who are looking to help the family, the “Ways to Help” button at the top of this site has a few ways you can help: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/tobiasfamily/support



 

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

Today marks 3 months since the accident, and Mom's 1st full day with with Caleb & Dad at Madonna. 

Per doctors orders, Caleb was cleared today to put weight on his legs, with his pelvis fractures having healed.  Not wasting any time, Caleb was able to stand for the first time.  Even though he was pretty sleepy, he was awake enough to activate the leg muscles required to keep him upright. He was shakey at first, but the muscle memory seemed to come back fairly quickly. 

It's a huge milestone that will enable him to become more mobile. It reminds Mom of the old hymn "Standing on the Promises of God." Without God, we would be nowhere. His promises keep us going, especially the promise to be with us always, no matter what!

Today truly was amazing as we were able to walk & roll through the Madonna Summer Family Festival. There were many booths with games, info & freebies, including ones with ice cream, service dogs, and even horses! Caleb loved tossing bean bags, petting the animals, & feeling the warmth of the cloud-filtered sunshine. We even sat on a park bench together, enjoying the sound of a fountain and the birds chirping.

You might notice his Einstein surfer shirt in the pictures from today.  If you've seen him wear it before, you'd know it's on backwards...that's because he put it on 100% by himself this morning, and we weren't about to take it off to fix it!!!

We're so much enjoying the conversations with Caleb. Sometimes he gives us glimpses of the pre-wreck Caleb, such as giving Grandma a Happy Birthday call this morning, giving Mom a big (much needed) hug, and responding to us with a good "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" this morning when asked how to cheer for the best basketball team.  Other times he humors us with big vocabulary in sentences that don't make a lot of sense.

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

Music has always been a love of Caleb's.  He could be heard singing his favorite songs everywhere: in the shower, in the car, and could often even be heard singing over the lawnmower as he cut the grass!


Yesterday the nurse aide told me he was singing along to the radio we have playing in his room...I was bummed to have missed it, having stepped out for a few minutes.


Later in the day we were sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for the next test, and after realizing how quiet it was, I asked him if he wanted to sing a song to pass the time?  “Sure, which one?” he replied.  Knowing his favorite song for a couple years now was Matthew West - Mended, I suggested it.  “Ok,” he says, then immediately starts speaking the lyrics to the chorus!!!  


“When you see broken beyond repair


I see healing beyond belief


When you see too far gone


I see one step away from home”


Stunned, I raced to get my phone out to record it, and managed to catch a bit before he wore himself out!


With a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, the nurse came in and off to the next test we went...Mended!


Here’s a link to the song & full lyrics, if you don’t know it:


https://youtu.be/-Otg-5p7qug


How many times can one heart break?


It was never supposed to be this way


Look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you'd be


Oh, but I can still recognize


The one I love in your tear stained eyes


I know you might not see him now, but lift your eyes to me


When you see broken beyond repair


I see healing beyond belief


When you see too far gone


I see one step away from home


When you see nothing but damaged goods


I see something good in the making


I'm not finished yet


When you see wounded, I see mended


You see your worst mistake


But I see the price I paid


There's nothing you could ever do, to lose what grace has won


So hold on it's not the end


This is where love's work begins


I'm making all things new


And I will make a miracle in you!








 

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

It's undeniable that God is healing Caleb.  A few of our friends have commented that they envision angels standing over Caleb's bed, slowly but surely putting his brain back together.  We see evidence of that daily now.

Madonna has given us informational literature about TBI (traumatic brain injury), which is the medical term for Caleb's condition.  It discusses the Rancho Scale, which defines identifiable stages of recovery, and goes from Level 1 through Level 10.  Caleb has been currently classified at Level 4: Confused Agitated.

In a nutshell, people in Level 4 may attempt to remove medical devices like tubes and wires, be agitated, and speak incoherently.  Caleb has indeed been showing some of these signs.  For example, he told daddy that chapstick is for international finance.  He has also stated that we live in Norway, that he works for a company named Charles Doug, and that he doesn't want to call Mommy right now because "an astrophysicist wouldn't have to."

Not all of his dialogue is confused, though.  He was able to state that of us 4 that were involved in the car wreck, that everyone was okay now "except me and Mommy."  He also knew that he was in the hospital, even though he thought it was back in Kansas.  So there are definitely glimpses into the pre-wreck Caleb, especially the vocabulary (he's always had a large vocabulary), even if it doesn't quite make sense.

The literature on the Rancho Scale does have some suggestions for friends and family at every stage, and for Level 4, it recommends that we handle confusion matter-of-factly, create a calm, soothing and predictable environment, limit the number of people visiting at a time, and doing things at which Caleb can succeed.  In fact, he's able to do more every day, like helping dress himself and brush his teeth.

We don't know how long he'll be in this Level, and while there are challenges that are associated with him being in this stage, we will continue to treasure the moments and interactions while we can, all the while looking forward to the more recovered brain that God's angels are working toward.

Today we are headed to Omaha to see the specialist facial surgeon to consult on how they will start to surgically repair all the fractures in his face.  With his continued strength and awareness, getting this next, and hopefully final, phase of surgeries started (& finished) will be another huge milestone in his recovery.

A good friend sent us this verse this morning, and it is fitting to our situation: 

Psalm 94:18-19: When I said, “My foot is slipping, ” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
  • Caleb loading an arrow to shoot at a target.
    Caleb loading an arrow to shoot at a target.
  • Balancing balls
    Balancing balls
  • Headed to Omaha
    Headed to Omaha

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

The past day has brought such tremendous progress with Caleb’s voice and ability to interact and answer more questions, which has brought many tears of joy, but also confirmed a key concern we’ve had.
 
With a few nice days of weather in a row, we’ve been making many laps around the hospital on the sidewalk getting fresh air, and helping keep dad from getting too “well rounded.”  When a helicopter flew over on our Friday afternoon walk, I asked him what that was, and he responded “it’s dark”.  
Although he has yet to show any consistent vision capacity, I didn’t want to put too much thought into that & let it go.  Then on a walk last night, it looked like he had turned his head to look at a dog across the street.  Hopeful he was indeed locked in on the dog in the yard across the street, so I slowly made a U-turn with his wheelchair to see if he would turn his head to stay focused on it.  Unfortunately, he didn’t.  As he had been much more interactive yesterday, I stopped and asked what he saw over there, and he replied “it’s dark” then I held up 2 fingers in front of his open eye (left one is sewn shut for now), then asked him if he could see my fingers and tell me how many I was holding up.  He just responded, “no, I can’t see them”.
 
Doctors 2 months ago had told us his brain CT & MRI had indications of damage to vision processing areas, and expected he would have vision impairment...but they also said those scans showed he had “no chance for a recovery or meaningful life” & wouldn’t breathe on his own, talk, interact, hear or almost everything else he’s been doing the past month as the Lord mends his body and mind back together in response to so many prayers being raised up for him.  The most salient thing one of those doctors said was “I’ve been doing this for 22 years and have never seen anything as bad as his MRI and his chances of any kind of recovery are very poor.  That having been said miracles can happen, but I’m not in charge of those.”  

Fortunately Caleb knows who is in charge of those very well, and HE is hearing our prayers!  As Caleb continues to gain strength and make profound progress, please continue praying for his healing, and specifically for his restored vision.  

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.  (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:29‬ ‭NIV‬‬) 

Not wanting to let that get me down, I decided to call and talk to Morgan & Kim, and was then shocked with tears of joy as I held the phone for Caleb and watched as he was able to share a very special time on the phone with them, responding to them for the 1st time by saying things such as: “Hi Morgan, Hi Mommy, Good Night, and I love you too!”

Caleb must have known today was Grandpa’s birthday, because when I asked him if he wanted to call grandpa last night after talking to Kim, he said “um, no...not tonight”. Then I asked "maybe tomorrow?" and he answered “yes.”  Instead, he wanted to call Pastor Rodney last night to say “Hi Rodney,” which was terrific too!
 
Up bright and early this morning, Caleb was ready to go, after getting his pants and shirt on about 80% without help.  We then called to tell grandpa happy birthday, but got his voicemail instead, so Caleb left him a message of “Good morning and good afternoon grandpa.  Happy birthday grandpa!”
 
Yet again, the Lord brings brilliant light into moments of darkness.  

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

It's been a rough road, and like we mentioned in the last post, we treasure the little blessings God provides, it helps us to keep a proper perspective. 

One of those blessings this week was Caleb saying, "Hi Mom" and "Hi Dad." Even though he's being prompted to say that, it's much like when he was a toddler learning to talk. It still warms your heart.  

God has a way of lifting us up when we need it most. I was struggling this afternoon with grief, when a friend showed up unexpectedly with a t-shirt quilt she had made for Caleb. Her visit was just what I needed that moment. 

Our Honda Pilot had been acting up lately, & Aaron took it into a Lincoln shop to have it looked at. Someone from the shop took Aaron back to Madonna & along the drive, he explained why we were here. They diagnosed the problem and fixed it, then refused payment for it, as one of the men who worked there had a bad accident and brain injury 11 years ago & spent a long time at Madonna himself. Again, God showed up.

At every turn, God sends someone or something to remind us that He is with us. I can't imagine walking through this trial...no, more than that, through this life without Him.

In the meantime, when I feel overwhelmed, I reach out to God, and play the video clip of my sweet son saying, "Hi Mom."

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

There's so much to be thankful for this Memorial Day weekend, especially for those who sacrificed themselves in service to protect our freedom!  

While it's easy to get discouraged by fatigue and the worries of trying to get back to "normal," God reminds us to be still & know He is in control. 

One of the ways we become still is to recount the blessings in life, and reflect on how God continues to answer our prayers and provide for us thru the good times and the bad.

Answers to prayer that have happened this last week that we are Praising Him for:
  • Caleb had a successful eyelid surgery on his left eye Friday.

  • Despite a weekend full of thunderstorms and rain, when we needed it, the weather improved and the logistical hurdles all lined up so that Kim, Morgan, Didrik, Grandma & Grandpa T, and Pastor Rodney, with key help from friends Steve & AJ, all made it up to Lincoln to visit Caleb!

  • Although Caleb still rarely speaks, we keep seeing encouraging glimpses of his personality from within his broken body, such as when he giggled at Pastor Rodney's joke, or gave daddy a much needed hug!

  • Aaron was able to make it home for a couple days to take care of a few things & recharge his batteries.

  • Caleb got to play Connect Four during his OT session with mom while she was visiting on Monday.  He has been working hard at his therapy sessions, and the Madonna staff have been great at helping him progress as much as possible.  We are grateful that he has been getting a little more sleep at night so that he's more alert during the day for his sessions.

  • Kim has graduated from the wheelchair to the walker.  Her physical therapy has been making a huge difference in her strength, flexibility, and balance.


Thank you for your continued prayers for us, especially praying for our family's separation during this time.  Also continue to pray for Caleb and Kim's healing and rest.

Journal entry by Aaron & Kim Tobias

38 days ago (7 days after the accident) we had to move to the largest room in the PICU because they had so many machines, monitors, & tubes hooked up to keep Caleb stable: 18 different ones. Today, all but 2 are gone, and there is plenty of space for an updated family photo!

Caleb's eye surgery looks to be on track for a good recovery. He appears to have fought off the infection, & started putting some weight back on in preparation for the next series of surgeries he will need to have, slated to start in about 2 weeks.

Kim continues to struggle with severe nerve pain in her uninjured foot, and the results of her testing last week suggest another major surgery will be required. Her doctor has to consult with a colleague to put a clear plan together for her & we hope to have that plan identified this week. 

Didrik continues a steady build-up of physical and emotional strength, and is even back to being able to run. Morgan continues to power thru a few lingering aches, but is otherwise doing well.

Once again, thank you all for the tremendous support and prayers. Wishing you a Happy Easter, as we rejoice in Christ's defeat of death! 

Just as the disciples must have been feeling lost on this Holy Saturday, we continue to pray and look forward to what we just haven't seen yet for all of us fighting thru this dark time: 
https://youtu.be/X1eMZiOJ0a0

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Aaron, Kim, Morgan, Caleb, & Didrik’s Story

Site created on April 27, 2019

On the morning of March 6, 2019, Clearwater school teacher Kimberly Tobias, daughter Morgan (14), son Caleb (13), and foreign exchange student Didrik (17), were on their way to school when their Toyota Corolla was T-boned by a Ford Expedition, leaving them severely injured.  The Ford Expedition had been traveling at a high rate of speed when its driver failed to observe a stop sign.  (News Article (https://www.kwch.com/content/news/Emergency-crews-working-crash-in-southwest-Sedgwick-County-506758231.html)) Meanwhile, Kim’s husband, Aaron, was overseas when he learned that his entire family had been in the accident and then endured 32 hours of travel to get home. 

Kim, Caleb, and Didrik sustained critical injuries and Morgan had serious injuries.  By God’s grace, all of them survived the accident.  Morgan was able to transition her recovery from the hospital to home after just over a day in the hospital, while Didrik required an extensive surgery and a week-long stay in the ICU.  With sixteen different broken bones, including severe compound fractures requiring three reconstructive surgeries so far and six blood transfusions, Kim has exceeded all expectations and after 23 days in the hospital is now on the road to recovery at home with the help of family and friends.  Kim still faces at least one additional surgery and the challenge of learning to walk again after more than three months in a wheelchair.

While Kim, Morgan, & Didrik make solid progress in their recoveries at home, Caleb remains in the Pediatric ICU (PICU) fighting for his life, as he has yet to regain consciousness. After sustaining massive facial and cranial injuries and pelvic fractures, a series of miraculous interventions, eight blood transfusions, five surgeries (with at least two more planned), and many answers to prayer have lifted him to a slow, steady improvement as he continues to show signs of progress. Although his prognosis is uncertain, what is certain is that the road to recovery is very long.  While we look forward to Caleb returning to his vibrant spirited young personality, he is expected to remain in the PICU for another few weeks, then he will likely transfer to a pediatric neurological rehabilitation hospital hundreds of miles away for an unknown length of time.

Please pray for the Tobias family, as they continue to be sustained through these extreme trials by the restorative power of prayer through our Savior Jesus Christ.

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