Monday, August 31, 2009

2 Sweet Giveaways!

I couldn't resist entering these 2 giveaways!

Check out Whimsy by Victoria for an awesome Gold Canyon Candles giveaway!
I love Gold Canyon stuff!

And also, Make it Work Mom is having a sweet giveaway of her own!
I've had Sweet Tooth Fairy on my TBT (To Be Tasted) list for a while now!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hallmark Doesn't Make a Card for This!

Today is the 3 year anniversary of Curtis' car accident.

(This Post contains some pictures detailing that event, which may be unsettling or disturbing to some).

What do you say for something like that?
Happy Anniversary of Your Traumatic Event?
Congratulations on Surviving the Crash?
Good Luck With That TBI?
Nothing seems fitting, know what I mean?

Some people call it a "Re-Birth Day". We just call it the Anniversary. It's one of those dates we'll never forget, no matter what we call it.

Here are some pictures of the car before the crash. Sorry they are so small!

And here are the "after the crash" pics...

He was in a partial head-on collision. He was doing about 80 mph (yes, the accident was his fault). He hit the other car, flipped up over the top, then rolled 5-6 times down the street. He was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. We think the initial damage to his noggin occurred when his car piggybacked on top of the other car before rolling down the street. The sunroof caved in with the force of the impact, clipping him on the right side of his head, breaking his skull in 3 pieces and shattering his right temporal lobe.

He hit his head again, on the left side, when he was ejected from the car...he then slid along the pavement and came to a stop, lying in the road, face down and alone. This is probably the most disturbing image we have (luckily, no photos!).
When the emergency responders arrived, he was not breathing, but had a faint pulse. One of his pupils had "blown" (that basically means it was non-reactive...) a sure sign of head trauma. He had a faint pulse...the EMT crew "bagged" him (artificial respiration, not a body bag :) and rushed him to UVRMC.

(The other driver received only minor injuries, thank goodness, and is fine)

A Neurosurgeon, whom Curtis would soon be in desperate need of, was just leaving the hospital when the call came in that a head trauma was en route. He stayed, and saved our son's life.
Meanwhile, we are in Arizona, totally unaware of the events that were unfolding.

This is a picture of Curtis taken a week or two before his accident.

Curtis was stabilized in the ER/Trauma and given a blessing by his Uncle Gary and the Trauma Surgeon.
By this time, we have been notified, have called the rest of our family and are anxiously awaiting word from the hospital as to what to expect.
So much happened, in such a short time period...and I honestly thought I could write it all, but I am getting a little too emotional, so I'm just hitting the highlights.
Curtis needed emergency surgery to save his life. He had to have a craniotomy, where they remove a piece of the skull to allow room for the brain to swell. Additionally, he had his right temporal lobe removed as it was extremely damaged. He was then taken to MICU where the waiting game began...would he live? Or would he die? No one knew...
We arrived at the hospital the next morning, about 16 hours later. Gary & Amy arranged and paid for our family to fly from Arizona to Utah...It was the longest night of my life!
When we entered the ICU Room,
this is what we saw:

He was on a ventilator, and was hooked up to numerous other tubes and lines and monitors. He had tubes in his lungs, and an ICP line in his head (intracranial pressure monitor). A few days later, he had a PEG tube placed in his stomach (feeding tube). He was battered, bruised and very, very sick. He was covered with lacerations, bruises, road rash etc.
He was in the MICU in a coma for 3 weeks.

When we first saw Curtis, the only thing that we could recognize was his feet! He has really ugly feet, and that's the only way we knew it was really him!
He had to be restrained at all times, so the blue bands on his ankles are leg restraints. I think he broke 3 or 4 of these! I'm sure he'll be thrilled to know I've posted a picture with his sexy catheter tube showing! :)

This is a picture after he was taken off the ventilator. He is wearing a CPAP mask to help him breathe on his own. This is also during a physical therapy session (In the ICU, while still in a coma!) They move the bed into a sitting position and see how he responds. He grabbed the side of the bed and tried to right himself...which was awesome. At this point, he is also opening his eyes, but is not responding to commands.

This is a picture from the first day in Rehab. He was in the inpatient rehab at UVRMC for a little over a month. He is seen here wearing an attractive blue helmet to protect his head, which is still missing that skull piece. He also sports a plaid restraining jacket, and a brace on his just recently fixed broken nose! If you could actually see his would recognized the "the lights are on, but no one is home" stare that is common with head trauma!

Sorry for the red eyes in this picture. They are from my camera, not from the accident! You can kind of see how the right side of his head caves in a bit, rather than being rounded. This is after the swelling in his brain has started to reduce, but the skull has not yet been replaced. The 3 puzzle pieces of his head have been stored in his abdomen, just under the skin and fatty layer. They will stay there, alive and well until the Dr. is ready to replace them.

These are some pictures after the surgery to replace the skull flap. He had some minor complications at this point (before the surgery) but everything went fine and he recovered well. In fact, before the surgery he hadn't started talking yet, and after the CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) was drained, he started talking! It was all weird, hallucination sounding stuff, but at least he was talking!

He ripped the bandages off his head at the first opportunity. He has a very scarred head! We tell him he looks like a baseball!

He was discharged from UVRMC in October 2006 and returned home to Arizona with us, to resume therapy there. He spent a little over 9 months in outpatient rehab at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. And another 16 months in a comprehensive Neuro-rehabilitiation program, also part of St. Joe's Barrow Neurological Institute.

I wish I had the words to explain what it is like learning to live with TBI, for Curtis and for us.
He is doing really, really well...but he will always be disabled. He doesn't have many physical disabilities, but rather has cognitive disabilities (memory, reasoning, judgement, impulsivity, etc.) He isn't able to drive, because of his vision issues, and that is probably his biggest disability. But he is doing amazingly well, and for that we are grateful.

I wanted to write more, include more detail, and overall be more eloquent, engaging, interesting...but once I got started I found it much more difficult than I thought it would I apologize for the harried, somewhat choppy tone...I have left so much out...but wow, it would be pages and pages and pages long!

I do want to express thanks for all the help and love and support along the way.

Firstly, to our family. Both my family and Rick's family were and have been incredibly helpful and supportive.
Our Friends, from work, from former wards, we appreciate the outpouring of love and support.

Our church family, 5th Ward here in Utah~ really took care of us and stepped right in to love and nurture us just as if we were still ward members there! Most of the woman I admire most in the world and count as my dearest friends live or have lived in this ward!
And McQueen Ward in Arizona...they fed us, prayed for us, helped me shuttle kids and did everything they could to help us once we returned to AZ

URVMC in Utah...I thank Heavenly Father every day for the dedicated, talented team of doctors, nurses and therapists that worked with Curtis. They gave us a firm foundation and stable footing on which to build. I think they are the best in the world!

St. Joseph's Hospital...Again, wonderful team of doctors and therapists that have helped Curtis and our family along the road of recovery. They were a perfect match to our beginning at UVRMC. We are so thankful that we lived in Arizona and could take advantage of the wonderful rehab opportunities there.

VR Counselors, who funded much of Curtis' rehab.

TBI Support Community...I have met some truly remarkable people throughout my association with the brain injury community. I have made some dear friends through the 2 support groups I attended.

My Heavenly Father...for all the countless blessings and tender mercies, all came from Him.

And to Curtis...for always keeping positive, for pushing forward, for always fighting and working for more!

Here are some pictures I took today:
He has been going to school, and has 30 college credits and is waiting to start classes again next week. He has volunteered 100+ hours, working in both inpatient and outpatient PT at St. Joe's. He's currently looking for a part time job.

When he was discharged from his last therapy program, his Neuropsychologist said that she has never seen anyone with such a severe injury make such a remarkable recovery. She's been working with brain injury patients for a long time, and is not one that says something unless she really means it. He really is lucky and blessed!

There is so much more to the story...but this will have to do for now!

Quite a handsome, young man!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

We Have Arrived!

We are finally "moved in" to the new house, as of last night. Right now, it looks like a moving truck (2 actually) threw up in my house! Boxes everywhere! Despite the fact that I very carefully labeled every single box...I have no clue where anything is! Things got broken, things got lost...but we are "in" and that's all that matters right now!

I won't have computer hook-up for a while, yet...but I will be back and can't wait to catch up with all my blog reading!