Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Final Curtain

Hi. We have just had a chat as a family and have made the executive decision that this will be the last blog up date. We are very grateful for your prayers, encouragement and the financial support that many of you have given while we have walked this journey. We are also forever grateful and thankful for the grace and mercy that our Lord Jesus has shown to us.

Since being home Joel has been progressing slowly and the improvements now are slow but steady. He is really enjoying being back at school even though it is for only one subject. His OT and Physio are very pleased with how he is going and are very encouraging. The neatest thing of late is that he nearly has full movement back in his left foot but they are still working on strength and muscle tone. Fatigue is still an issue but will be something that Joel will have to manage for a long time ahead and slowly he will buid up stamina.

Joel was really excited with the turn out for the Celebration Service last Sunday evening. His mates in the band did a fantastic job at playing and leading us in some of Joel's favourite songs and we hope that our story has encouraged you all. It hasn't always been easy to be so open with our lives, struggles, pain and triumphs but we are so glad that we have done the blog as it has meant that we did not at any time walk this road by ourselves. One of the things that we wanted to do at the service was to take up an offering for the Rescue Helicopter Trust. We wanted it to be part of our celebration and thanks but sadly we were not allowed. So can I encourage you to consider givng to them as a thanks for the work they do... not just for helping in saving Joel but for the ongoing work they do as they serve our community. Much to my shame I have often seen them, but never given as it never crossed my mind that we would one day need them. If interested you can find their details at: http://www.rescue.org.nz/

So it is goodbye from us and thank you all so, so much!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Memories..........and emotions

We had a very interesting day on Thursday. Joel wanted to go and visit Waikato Hospital and we also wanted to keep our side of a bargin that I made with one of the Doctors...that Joel would walk back into see them and that he would be well on the road to recovery! And that's what happened. We started our visit at ICU and were greeted very warmly by the nurse who looked after Joel on his first night back on the 6th of Jan. They were so happy to see him and those that knew him came out and talked at length with Joel and they were real excited and thankful that we come to visit. Then they asked if he wanted to have a look in the ward...there happened to be 2 young men in the ward both with head/brain injuries. One was where he was and the other in the bed next to that. Joel did not like it at all...and just wanted to get out as fast as he could. He said it was horrible and he couldn't stand being in there. Man was he sober at that point...it was good to see some strong emotion from him. Then a couple of his doctors came out into the hall and were amazed at how well he was doing. It was neat hearing Joel thank these staff members who did so much and again they said that not many people ever come back and they were stoked! Then off to Ward 8 and we met with the nursing staff there who gave another very warm welcome. Joel thanked the bloke nurse for wiping his butt... to much laughter. One more doctor and yep he greeted him with a hand shake and "ah it's the kid who woke up like Lazarus!" Again confirming that they never thought he would be so far down the track. So an eventful day and a good one.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hi.......celebration service

What a welcome back! Went to our home church and were overwhelmed by the welcome we received. I think Joel is lapping up his new found celebrity status! He found it funny that so many people have taken an interest in him and he doesn't even know them... but they now know him.

For a while we have pondered the idea of having a church service to celebrate the goodness of God and to share a little deeper about the acts of God in our lives over the last 3 months. So we were rapt when we approached the chief honchos in the church and they were thinking along the same line. So it's all on! This will be a time when corporately we can thank and praise God for His goodness to us as a family and us as a gathered community. Joel has asked some of his best mates to play together in the worship band so that will be special... but he isn't up to playing his bass yet so he asked one of his oldest mates to cover for him. YAY! Go Busty! We will share some of our story......and yep Joel will be there as well and we would be privileged to have you come and join us.

Celebration Service
@ Bethlehem Baptist Church, Tauranga
@ 6-30 pm
On 25th April

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It was 3 months on Tuesday...

Well it seems a very short time and also a life time ago that we got the dreaded phone call...and yet it was only 3 months ago, Tuesday the 6th. We had planned to go out to the orchard where Joel had his accident on the 6th but due to the rain we cancelled... however this afternoon we went. Joel wanted to go and have a look as he can't remember anything about his visit out there.

So we had a very warm welcome from Phil, Lyn and family...drank tea...ate baking...and talked. They talked us through the events of the day and we got a much clearer picture of what happened. Also a better understanding of the horrific events that the 3 friends of Joel went through dealing, not only with Joel, but the paramedics, police and the likes. We will be forever grateful to these 3 and all who were involved in those early hours of Joel's accident. Joel wanted to see the bike he came off and couldn't believe it was such a small bike and not a big grunter like he had been thinking! Then we drove down to the site and looked...and are even more grateful for a loving God who gave us our son back. We saw the bank he went down, the fence he flew over and where they had to rescue him from. Thankyou! It would have been a very sobering time except Joel kept cracking jokes... but tonight as I said goodnight when he went to bed he was so thankful and sober about what had happened.

Thanks for everything Phil, Lyn and Christie... we really appreciate what you have done for us.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter

It's great to be home! I have been away since the middle of November when I first ventured forth into the mission field of Hamilton and the rest of the family have been away since that fateful day of Wednesday 6th of January. How things have changed. So what's happening...

Joel has had a steady flow of visitors which has been fantastic. The first night back 10 had arrived by 7 o'clock and Joel was whacked by 9 when I 'shut down' the party. As a result he slept through to ten the next morning and also had to have a 3 hour sleep in the afternoon just to catch up...we were warned that fatigue would be more of an issue when we got home. But it was so good to see Joel home yaking and interacting with his mates. We have said it all along ... we have been very grateful that Joel has had such great mates who are prepared to hang in there with him through his recovery. Their encouragement and visits have been instrumental in keeping him focused on coming home but their willingness to understand and work with what is happening has been so helpful over the last 3 months.

We have had visits from his 'team' here in Tauranga, the physio and OT. After spending time with Joel and assessing where he is at they have recommended that he starts back at school, picking up one subject at the beginning of the term. Usually they organize outings during the week to help with recovery but they think that Joel is ready and motivated enough to make school work. He is over the moon as school is where he wants to be! He also had a visit to the hospital to the blokes who make splints. The idea was to get one especially fitted for Joel so that it was more comfortable for him. Well the fella there made Joel walk around a bit and hey presto announces that he doesn't think Joel needs a splint as such. When he saw the 'modifications' I had done on his old splint he immediately threw it in the rubbish bin...ha... he obviously didn't appreciate my fine engineering skills with a stanley knife! He fitted Joel with this little gismo thingy...a strap around his ankle and a hook that is laced into the toe end of his laces with a rubber band connecting them both, thus giving the foot a little help up as he walks. The end result of this is that Joel is walking with his left foot doing a natural heel toe movement for the first time in 3 months. Since being home he has walked around the park next door every day and it is getting easier with this new band thingy. The other thing we have noticed is that he is getting so much more natural movment in the left foot as a result. He still wants prayer... for his left foot, side and stamina and that his walking becomes more natural and fluid.  Thanks heaps.

Yesterday arvo we went to the church and walked around the Easter Journey presentation. Moving! Facing death is still a bit raw for us all and to think that Jesus went through all He did so that we can have a loving relationship with God...sobering. Without hesitation Joel wanted to write a postal note of thanks prayer for the large wall towards the end of the journey. Then out the end to be caught up in the warm greetings of friends we haven't seen for a while.

With most of his mates away at Easter camps it has been reasonably quiet here which has been good. Thank you for your prayers and we will keep you posted...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

HOME!!!!

Yep we got to come home! And have had a great welcome home from friends, neighbours and the family (and the dog). The house was done out with 'Welcome Home' banners, balloons and lollies... thanks heaps to those who did it. Then our family all got together...then Joel's friends started to arrive! We didn't break up the 'party' till nine, and by then Joel was starting to wilt. He got to bed by ten then slept right through till ten...and had a two and a half hour sleep in the afternoon. When there are heaps of people at one time he tires quickly but he has had a great 'welcome home' and is rapt that the next step in recovery is here. Saturday evening we had a family celebration... and in our family that means FOOD! So we ate. It was real neat to have all the kids... Logan, Amie Sienna, Hannah and Joel around the table as we gave thanks to God that we are still all together. 

Today (Sunday) he has had a couple of friends and neighbours to visit and this afternoon he walked around the park once with Dan and the dog. I think both were happy to be with him! A sleep in the afternoon before another close friend arrived for the late afternoon and evening.

Through some kind offers we have both a treadmill and exercycle for him to start on so thanks very, very much.

This week is shaping up to be busy for him. Appointments at the doctors and the hospital... and then on Tuesday with the new physio and OT team etc. It is so much more relaxed for all of us now that he out of the 'institution' but we are ever so grateful for the team that has worked with him up in Ranui. And yes I'm calming down my driving habits.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Last night in Ranui

Here we go on the next stage of the journey! Back home tomorrow... so this is our last blog posting as Westies. I will have to go through a reformation of sorts...not driving through orange lights...not speeding up to get through the lights before they turn red...not using the horn so much as a warning device...getting a hair cut that is not dated in the seventies etc. Also have to trade in my old falcon 500 for something more appropriate. Good bye West Auckland.

Just about had to tie Joel down tonight, he is so excited. People are asking him how he feels about going home... the answer is always the same, "words cannot describe how I'm feeling inside." He has a final physio session tomorrow at 10:00 and then we are outa there.

We will continue the blog for awhile when we get home to keep everyone up to date but it will only be about once a week. I might miss it...even been thinking of starting another one just writing stuff for the heck of it...but then I realised I would be the only one reading it.

Well the next time you read this it will be from Tauranga... where the only people with mullets are crazy young teens who are trying to worry their parents.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2 to go

Yep thought it was time to up date all you lovely blog followers. It is 2 sleeps to go till home time and we have one very excited boy! He can't wait and to be honest neither can we.

Yesterday Cheryll brought Joel over to Carey Baptist College for chapel and lunch. One of the reasons was to stick him in an unknown 'social' environment to see how he handled it...which he did. And we also wanted to thank the Carey community for their prayers, encouragement, friendship and giving. He even wondered if he will end up there doing study at some stage. Today was the normal physio and stuff and this avo we went down to the pool for his hydrotherapy. I went along and coughed up my money for a swim...so ignoring the encouragement from a certain person yelling, "wow, a beached whale," and "who's got a harpoon" I slipped gracefully into the pool and did a few lengths. Then tonight I went back and spent the early evening with him. Joel commented that his workout in the pool was far less tiring and reckons that his stamina is building.

We are making plans for our return and we are aware that there will be new challenges as we try to return to a more normal routine. Joel is so looking forward to seeing all of you 'Taurangaites' again!  Just give us a phone call if you're popping over for a visit as we have to schedule in rest/sleep periods for him during the day. One of the things he is looking forward to is walking Sam, his dog. He should be able to do one circuit of the park every day as a start and build up from there. One little thing that would help him in his fitness...has anyone got an exercycle that they aren't using that we could borrow for a few months? or a treadmill? These two exercises are very good for him as they provide a very even and constant pattern which helps strengthen his weak left side.  Logan, Amie and Sienna are coming up from Gisborne to see us this weekend so that will be neat to have the whole family back together in one piece.

Monday, March 22, 2010

4 sleeps to go

It really is count down time now ... Joel is ready to come home!  He is allowed to walk around the house as well as outside now by himself, he is independent with all his showering etc, he doesn't get so tired after every activity and he's up to speed with his 'one liners'! Today he walked down to the diary and back up the hill again with Stefanie the physio.  He managed it fine ... although he did have a little rest outside the dairy while he ate his ice cream.  He's doing well during his physio sessions ... he's able to do his arm exercises with 3kg weights now (including his left arm), he does 15 minutes on the bike no sweat, and is doing all his balancing and strengthening exercises with much more ease. That left foot continues to improve and he has even more movement in it this week ... not enough to give up the splint yet but it's definitely getting there.

This afternoon he had his 'Wii' session with the caregiver, Leo.  Well, it started off just him and Leo ... but he attracted quite a crowd and by the end there were a heap of people having turns versing him in bowling and boxing.  It was great fun with lots of laughter. Poor Leo ... the session that was supposed to be around 1/2 an hour, turned out to take 1 1/2 hours.

Kevin was at college today so he went up to visit him tonight and has just walked back in the door now ... so I'm going to go make him a cuppa and catch up with his day.  Good night :-)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Challenge???

Joel and Steven, that's them together in the bottom photo, are cuzzies and they want to challenge any MEN to a mullet growing competition. Mum ain't happy but boys will be boys. Any takers?

The weekend...a time for pics!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Back to the olds...

Yep I took the computer into Joel this afternoon thinking that he could take over the duties of blogging but the response was, "Dang just coz I'm a little bit better I'm not doing all the work, remember I have had a brain injury!" I'll let him off this time but he won't be using that excuse for too much longer. After his big hike around yesterday Joel is a bit more subdued today. He is counting down the days like a kid waiting for Christmas! Still had to set goals for the coming week and still doing his physio etc. All still slowly improving but we are still waiting for his left foot to kick in (no pun intended).

Ages back I mentioned that we as a family have been praying for another client here. Well we have been taking things slowly but have continued to pray. I have had some good talks with the mum and she has asked if we could get others to pray for her daughter! So if you want you could add Jody to your list. Jody was in Waikato Hospital at the same time as Joel...in fact she was wheeled outa ICU as Joel was wheeled into her bed. Her accident was at the beginning of December and she suffered a similar injury to Joel, but recovery has been very slow. She is just now approaching where Joel was when he left hospital. Eating a little and saying a few words, and the odd smile. I teased her today that she won't be able to make eyes at Joel during physio after next week and she smiled!  Mum wanted us to first of all pray that she would be at peace...and she was...then she wanted us to pray that she would communicate and say those precious words, 'I love you'... and she has just done that. Mum is calling it a miracle and says she now believes in miracles! Let's keep praying for this young lady and her family.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hi its Joel writing this blog update.

I would just like to start by thanking God for saving my life and to thank you guys for praying for me. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!! Well my day has been a pretty good one. I have been a busy little boy. I have had my physio today and I have also gone out with Leo into Henderson. Now that was a monster hike. I had to walk out of rehab and up the hill to catch the bus. Then we got to the mall and so we walked around for a bit and of course we got some lollies. Then we walked to catch the train back to Cavit and I had a long walk up the hill to get back. Then luckily enough my dad (the little pregnant roller-skate was fixed by then)[this is Joel’s name for his mothers little car] came around and picked me up. We have gone out to dinner at kings roast (dads lil favorite place were we are scared to see how big the large meal is) and thank you Mr King, cause the roast was rather good. And that brings me to right now. Um just a little prayer request can we pray for more movement in my left leg. Thank you guys so much.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday

Yay ... Joel moved his left foot upwards twice today by himself!!  It wasn't that long ago that he started being able to move his toes ... and remember when that first started he could only do it every now and then ... and now he can wriggle them whenever he wants.  So we're really excited that a movement that requires different muscles is starting to kick in. 

He had a great physio session and Steph was really pleased with his progress.  By the end of physio today his left thigh muscle was shaking uncontrollably just from all the exertion. She spent a bit of time trying to work the electrode thingy that makes his foot flex upwards.  It wasn't really working properly ... something that she put down to his hairy legs not letting the electrodes sit firmly on them.  So his job tomorrow morning is to shave some patches on his leg ready to try it again.  

Please keep praying for his left side to continue to gain strength and that he would get more and more upward movement in his foot. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support ... look how far he's come!

A Few Days

It's been a few days since our last update, not because nothing has happened, but we did forget to take the computer with us when we went north. Sometimes it feels like we are part of the Truman Show or some reality cyberlink show where you get to look at snap shots of what we are doing...How are you doing?

At the end of last week I shot down to Tauranga to have a meeting with ACC who organise the team to look after Joel when he returns home. They have been terrific to work with and have things actioned already. Hannah and I also had the privilege of meeting with a family who are praying for a miracle for one of their children. What an amazing couple who have for years prayed in faith for their child's healing. This is what the body of Christ is all about... praying, believing and supporting each other in our time of need. It was an eventful 24 hours back coz I also had the privilege of speaking with the Year 13s at Bethlehem College. This school community has been incredibly supportive of us since Joel's accident. I said to the students that I was training as a pastor and that if I led a church that cared, prayed, encouraged and gave like the Bethlehem College Community has, I would consider that church successful. We were blown away to receive a cheque from the proceeds of a Mufti Day ... thank you seems inadequate but what else can we say! It was great to share with his peers what Joel has been through and also a small part of our faith journey.  He can't wait to get back to school. When he starts back he will probably only cope with one subject, as fatigue will still be an issue.


We went to Nana's and Poppa's for the weekend. Cheryll, Joel, 3 friends and myself. This was a fantastic time especially in that Joel was so much more independent than last time. The only time I really had to watch his walking was when he was going down stairs to watch a movie and have a shower. Other than that he now has the freedom to move around ... although he still thinks we are his slaves at his beck and call. That will change! Saturday morning we ended up at Omaha where we decided to walk half the length of the beach (concrete pathway). Joel walked a little way but was happy to be pushed in the wheelchair by the old fella for most of it, ate a trumpet, then slogged our way back to the car. Having some friends with him was very encouraging and there was no way he wanted to return to the rehab Sunday afternoon. Next trip will be back to Tauranga!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,
and that you, O Lord, are loving.

In the early days of Joel's injury these verses from Psalm 62 were ones I clung to and they still come to mind every couple of days ... it's mind blowing to meditate on God's immeasurable strength and love and to be able to rest in the knowledge that there is nothing too hard for him and to trust in his loving kindness. I know we've said this before ... but we're just so grateful for his mercies!!

Well, we had the family meeting this morning, instead of Friday, so that Kevin could be there as well before he drove back to Tauranga.  It was a very encouraging meeting where all the different staff involved in his rehab gave feedback as to how he was progressing.  He just continues getting better and better.  They seem happy enough for his discharge to be on the 26th of this month, even though they really would have liked to keep him a little longer ... but hey ... I can teach him how to do the laundry at home if he misses out on having to do it up here :-)

So Joel is really excited about coming home in 2 weeks and we'll be pleased not to have to live out of suitcases ... it's been awhile.  His walking is coming along.  I have to remind him to relax his left arm as he walks and try to swing his arms gently instead of holding them rigid at his sides ... at which he starts swinging them in a very exaggerated way as if he's marching in the army ... just to annoy me.  We're still praying for that left foot ... his toes are wriggling well now and he can push down with it ... but he hasn't got the upward pull so he still needs to wear the splint in his shoe.  He walks around the house with bare feet but we've noticed that he will sometimes catch his left foot on the carpet and lose his balance, because of course he has to lift the left foot up that much higher in order to have his drooping foot clear the floor.  The hard plastic splint is still hurting him (even after Kevin's flash modifications) so they're going to see about getting one custom made to suit his foot. Hopefully his foot will be working soon though and it won't be needed.

YAAHOOEEE!!!!

JOEL'S GONNA COME HOME ON THE 26TH MARCH!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Today

Cheryll has a meeting with the staff here at rehab on Friday morning and at the same time I will be in Tauranga with our ACC Manager looking at what happens when we get home. So hopefully we'll be able to make some decisions soon re Joel's discharge.

One of the other clients in Joel's house is leaving for home tomorrow and he has asked if he can give Joel a small present and a hug when he leaves..why? Coz he said that he has so enjoyed having Joel in the house because he has been friendly,  he has enjoyed his sense of humour and that he is willing to share serious stuff as well. It seems the boy is having an affect on those around him.

As far as Joel's progress...he is now allowed to walk around the house without a 'minder' watching his every step. This is what I have been waiting for as it means he doesn't need 24/7 attendance.

This coming weekend we are heading away again to Nana and Poppas so there is no point in any pilgrims making plans to visit Joel. His weekend trips help prepare him for living 'normally' in a family situation but there will certainly be a need for visitors when we get home!

Another day closer...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday

Kevin was off to college again today so it was just Joel and me for most of it.  I didn't go in 'til after lunch as his morning was pretty busy with the speech therapist and then going to Pak n Save to shop for his lunch items like he did last week.  He said it was a lot easier walking around Pak n Save compared to last week.  I think his walking continues to improve and he is getting more movement in that left foot ... it seems slow ... but bit by bit.  The physio is going to try the electrode thing again but this time have it all attached while he is walking so that it jerks his foot up each time he takes a step.  He had his hours physio this arvo and also attended the 'Wii' group ... of which he is the only member! 

The physiotherapist (who is also his key worker) casually mentioned to Joel and I that they were thinking that he should be there for another 4 to 6 weeks from now!!  Joel was not too impressed with that idea as we had been talking with him about being home by the end of the month.  She said there was the possibiblity of moving him to another house in 3 or so weeks time where he could share the cooking with the other two inmates and do his own laundry.  Hmmmm ... he was a little vocal about doing his own laundry ... he could not be convinced that there was any need for him to learn to turn on a washing machine at this stage of his life.  At our last family meeting they had said 4 to 6 weeks and that was 2 weeks ago.  So we're in two minds ... on one hand we don't want to leave here earlier if Joel is going to receive benefits that he wouldn't at home ... but on the other hand we're not convinced that at this stage of his rehabilitation he is actually doing much more than we could continue at home with him anyway.  (And he will continue to get some physio, speech language therapy and occupational therapy at home through ACC ... just not the same frequency). So can you please pray that we have wisdom when making the decision about when to bring Joel home.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday...a day of rest

Well Sunday has come and just about gone. Joel had a lazy morning with us and then visitors in the afternoon. This lovely brother and sister duo made the trek up from Tauranga and were excited to see Joel for the first time since the accident.  He is very blessed in having such loyal and loving friends. After their great visit ... which included the young lady having to push him down and then up the hill in the wheelchair to get an ice cream ... they left for home. A wee while later I get a txt, "we have just got to Huntly is that close to Matamata?" A quick txt back put them on the right track ... first timers to Auckland!

Nothing much else happened for the day. A few people have asked re the maths test he was given a few weeks ago...he got 100% and didn't use the calculator that was offered. I know we keep saying it ... but he is doing real well. We are all getting a little impatient to get home but hey...another 24 hours closer!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Today

The poor boy had to put up with just mum and dad today. Joel had slept in so we picked him up at 11 and headed for the local mall (yuck). Pushed him around, had lunch, then returned to our 'flat' and relaxed through the afternoon. Due to the blister on his foot he walked today without the splint and it went well. He was back at rehab for dinner then afterwards we went for a walk around the streets. And that's about it!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday

Just got home from being with Joel...a real late night for him but he insisted that we should watch the Chiefs game. He wilted towards the end and the fact that the Chiefs lost didn't help!

The boy reached another mile stone today... he did 10 minutes walking on the treadmill with a speed greater than 3. Not sure how fast '3' is, but it is what the physio had set as a challenge and goal to stretch him... so he is feeling chuffed. Part way through he complained that the splint was hurting but he continued on...his competitive nature is returning. When he got back to his room he took his shoes off to reveal a nice long (1 inch) blister on his instep from the plastic splint in his shoe. So being a good kiwi bloke I have attacked the plastic splint with a stanley knife and made a few modifications. Not sure what the physio will think of the new look splint, but at least over the weekend he can continue to walk. Talking about walking... we have all noticed a huge improvement in his walking since getting rid of the stick. Another day closer to coming home!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

8 Weeks!

Yep its 8 weeks since I got that terrifying phone call...but we have a God that loves us and is still active in this world.

Today Joel managed to cross off a few more goals that had been set for the week. He managed 15 minutes on the exercycle without having to have his left foot man-handled into position. Secondly he has walked up and down the stairs unaided, and thirdly his walking stick has been extracted from his grip and he is now walking... "look mum no hands!" This is a big move as now his walking action or style will start to settle into a more natural gait. He still holds his upper body, arms and hands quite rigid, but without artificial walking aids, I saw his arms swing for the first time today. He had a couple of lots of visitors today, which he enjoyed. It was encouraging when 3 visitors this afternoon (up for Paramore concert) dropped in and were amazed at the changes they saw in Joel's speech and demeanor. Sometimes we don't notice changes due to seeing him every day. He also cooked his lunch twice this week... Tuesday was pizza and today the bacon and eggs flipped outa the pan. It is encouraging to see him begin to do ordinary things that normally he would manage as second nature. One day closer to home!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The day after Tuesday

Do you notice how when we have nothing much to write we slap up another photo? Well as Joel makes more and more progress the steps forward just seem to be small and roll into each other... leaving us wondering if change has taken place. But for me after not seeing him for a couple of days due to study...I could see changes. But before I get to that let me share with you what a wonderful, beautiful, caring and loving wife I have and last night we shared a lovely nosh up celebrating 25 years of 'perfect' married life! Funny how TV affects you tho, Cheryll's snapper had a fish scale on it...an absolute 'no-no' on Master Chef!

Oh that's right... this is about Joel. While I was away a package arrived from Carmichael House at Bethlehem College and it was the first thing he started to talk about when I walked into his room this morning. He was on a real buzz about getting the photos and the poster with all the greetings on. He was trying to convince the speech therapist that when he returns homes he wants to get back to school full time. He doesn't want to accept that his school days will be very short as fatigue will still be a major problem for some time. He misses the school community and the social interaction with other students..oh yeah and the teachers and learning stuff too.

His mobility has improved and often when he is walking he now holds his walking stick in both hands and twirls it pretending to be a big band...whatever they are called... you know the blokes who walk out the front of the band with the stick thingy. I think his walking is smoother when he isn't using the stick but he relies on it when tired... but his days with it are nearly over. His walking is still stilted and takes effort, but improving. He is also rapt with being able to move his toes on his left foot even more and again we keep praying for the whole foot to start moving freely. We are really encouraged with the work that the speech therapist has been doing. Socially Joel seems to be nearly back to how he was before the accident but still occasionally comes out with some clangers...it all takes time.  Today he went for what is technically called 'hydrotherapy', which means doing some exercises in the swimming pool. He did very well and also enjoyed it so it is now part of his routine on Wednesdays. He is also very keen on the notion of coming home in a few weeks and we are trying to reinforce that he will be there as long as it is beneficial for him. So that about wraps this blog up.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday

Cooking his masterpiece for lunch... (the blue belt thing around his waist is just something he puts on when he walks around as it gives whoever is with him something to grab if he should lose his balance)

Monday, March 1, 2010

1st Day of March

The days keep marching on...it's been left up to me to write the blog tonight as Kevin has had his first day back at Carey Baptist College ... he txted me before saying he just finished a lecture on, 'what is the ontology of being human'?  I can't help thinking we've been finding that out in the last 2 months! (Well ok, I did have to find out what ontology meant.)

Joel did seem a little tired today, probably the aftermath of a weekend away.  But he still managed a session with the speech therapist, one with the OT, an outing with the physio to Pak n Save to buy supplies to make a couple of lunches (walk not wheelchair) and a session playing 'Wii' this arvo.  I thought his walking was a little smoother today... his sore ankle has settled down which probably helps. He was really pleased to get a bundle of photos and messages from students in Carmichael House at Bethlehem College ... thanks guys.

He asked me what I had got Kevin for our wedding anniversary (tomorrow), to which I said, 'nothing ... his present is being married to me'.  He replied that it would only work if I painted myself in silver body paint. Hmmmm ... I was a bit slow cause I was horrified... until I clicked that it is our Silver Wedding Anniversary!

Thank you everyone for your continued support and prayers ... we are just so grateful for everyone who has prayed and helped us out during the different stages of this journey.  The wonderful people in Hamilton who got us through those first few weeks in hospital... our family, friends, church family, neighbours and many people we don't even personally know... thank you!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Have you been waiting?

I had just yanked Joel outa the car and helped him shuffle into his wheelchair, and we were setting off on a walk down the board walk at Snells Beach. Nana and Mum were in tow and off we went...then some bloke drove up to us to ask if we had heard there was a tsunami warning and in that it was obvious that Joel was not into running away from such an event he advised us to leave. So we did a 'uey' in the chair and headed back to the car. Much to my surprise the 'two woman' suggested that I push Joel along the waterfront and then up the hill...while they drove!  Joel and I did a bit of brainstorming and speculating as to their motives... did they want the tsunami to take us both to a watery grave...or was it just to see the fat boy run pushing the chair with wheels if a 'big wave' came...or was it yet another weight loss ploy to see me push Joel up a hill while they watched from the safety of the top?

Joel is back in the rehab after a visit up north. It was a relaxing time in some ways, as it was familiar ground being back with family and yet demanding as well because Joel needs someone with him whenever he needs to move or do anything. All good. He enjoyed Nana's cooking and 'milked' it for bacon and eggs, and lamb roast etc etc. We watched rugby Saturday evening and we watched rugby on Sunday morning! Joel had cousins visit and managed to fit in his afternoon nap, which is needed as fatigue is still an issue.

The most exciting thing for us all is that Joel has been able to wiggle his toes on his left foot often. When he tries he can manage 3 or 4 wiggles and then can't do anymore for a while. He describes it like waiting for the batteries to re charge. When he has relaxed for a while he can manage some more twitching... then another relax for half an hour or more. It was neat to have him 'at home,' but we would like him to have more independence before we bring him home to Tauranga. All in good time... but we are encouraged by his progress. More tomorrow...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday

Not sure that there is much to wirte about tonight. Joel has had a reasonable time with OT and Physio and set new goals for the week ahead. One of these is that he is going to be taken out shopping next week to do some grocery shopping coz he has to make his own lunches for a few days...all a part of his rehabilitation we are told...and it has to be bacon and eggs as far as he is concerned. He had some visitors which he enjoyed and managed to scare the wits out of his two and a half year old cousin with his 'bed that moves.'  We'll let you know how our trip away goes. Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday

Joel's really enjoying this new house ... there's more action going on and people to interact with.  He was really impressed that on the first day in House 5 he got dessert after lunch and after dinner ... and was served bacon and eggs in bed for breakfast the next morning!  And here we were thinking that this new house was all about him becoming more independent and making his own breakfast and the like. I think he's pretty good at turning on the charm and not above using flattery to get some perks :-)

He had to be ready for an early physio session at 9 am with his new physio, Steph.  I'm sure she's going to be just as good as Anne has been.  His walking is coming along although it's a bit jerky and his left arm has a tad more muscle tone than normal so he tends to hold it stiffly as he walks.  Steph was explaining to him that  the messages from the brain to his muscles should flow smoothly like a river but in his case it's as if there are dams and blockages in the way, so it spurts over all at once sometimes and makes things jerky. Please continue to pray for smooth muscle responses and for the nerve impulses to consistently reach his left foot. 

In the afternoon he enjoyed having a go playing 'Wii' against his new OT, Mandy and his sister, Hannah.  He was really pretty coordinated (and competitive ... I don't know where he gets that from?).  He won the tennis, it was a draw with Mandy in baseball (0-0 - they were both pretty bad) and Hannah pummeled him in a boxing match.  For those of you who have no idea what 'Wii' is ... we're talking 'virtual' sport that gets your arms and body moving, not just a click of a mouse!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mid-week

We’ve got twitches! ...ok before you all think I've gone nuts and haven't taken my medication let me explain. Today I squeezed out a couple of tears of joy as I saw Joel's left foot twitch. Well... not his whole foot, but as Anne started to work with him a few muscles in his left foot did some twitching and as she continued there were a little more and a couple of times he moved his toes...on his left foot! It's a great start to what we have been hoping and praying for. Now to watch the whole foot come into line with the rest of his body. His left side continues to be weak but with persistence it is improving. He continues to walk slowly with his 'stick.' Next week he goes down to the local pools for a session so that could be fun. He is settling in ok to the new routine of his new house but there is a young bloke there that  hangs around Joel all the time which could become a bit much.
We are moving on Friday. We will still be based at Laidlaw College but we are shifting outa the single woman’s accommodation block and heading into a studio unit. Some wonderful saint has paid for all our accommodation here and we are very grateful for their generosity.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moving Day

Today was the big move with a few surprises. We got Joel into House 5 and it was a bit daunting for him but he will settle in. It's just that in his previous house it was very quiet and where he has moved to there are 6 clients and it is run a little more like a 'family'. What we didn't realise is that when you shift house you also have a change of OT and Physio. Now that ain't all bad but he was responding very well to the last ones, so it's just something more to adjust to. Yesterday, because he isn't allowed to use his wheelchair in the complex, he had to walk a heck of a lot more than he had all the rest of the days put together. Now he is complaining of very sore joints in his left knee and ankle...can you please pray that this doesn't become a set back to his walking.

The psychologist gave him a test this morning to check his reading and responses to certain social situations by watching, and then answering questions to, some short movie clips. She wasn't surprised that he scored 100% in recognising sarcasm and come backs!

We took Joel out this afternoon up to Westgate Shopping Centre. I got the job of pushing him round and he had been given a gift voucher for a cd store. This gave us both a little insight into what some people have to deal with on a daily basis. Firstly to push a wheelchair into some stores is almost impossible. The above mentioned cd music store was an interesting obstacle course... just to get in I pushed some of their displays sideways. After some tight maneuvers that would have gone down a treat in Top Gear, and some umming and ahhing by Joel, a selection was made. With a cunning 3 point turn I managed to position Joel next to the counter and he put on his best 'look at me I am sick' face...and proceeded to get a 5 dollar reduction in the price of the cd! After getting him out with some dexterous backing maneuvers, Joel announces to the 3 of us that he has learnt a new trick. He reckoned that if we continued to shop he would say, "excuse me but could you give me 50% off this item coz I'm sick and don't have long to live". Arrhhh...Joel! Pushed him in the shade to a well known coffee franchise just to find the footpath narrows to the point that a wheelchair can't pass! Quick wheelie out onto the road...you get the picture. Then the ladies headed to a craft shop... yuk... so us men went for a trek elsewhere. Now this is what I found interesting...we went into 5 different shops where normally you would be harassed by sales people, but all we got was a quick quiet 'hello' and then they would turn their heads and look busy doing nothing! It was that obvious and I would never have known this had I not seen it and felt it for Joel. Which of course left me with some questions: do those who use wheelchairs all the time have to put up with this... and do we treat them the same as anyone else or do we also turn?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday...the day when it all happens

Righteo... not sure where to start. The ladies are back from their break away and it's great to have them back! We have gotten over the rush of visitors who made the pilgrimage from Tauranga to see the man and have settled back into the rhythm of physio and speech and stuff. It has been a day for facing changes. Firstly Joel's walking is being pushed to the next level and they have taken his walker off him and handed him a walking stick as a replacement. He is only allowed that for 3 days and then he will have to 'fly' solo. He had speech therapy in the morning working on his tone and facial expressions to get them functioning appropriately for what he is trying to communicate. Lunch next and then off to physio. This is where the switch of walking styles took place and Anne did more work on strengthening his left side. Then we all trooped off to a family conference with all his key workers. Wow - they are pushing him forward quickly! Tomorrow he is moving house! Yep from house 3 to house 5! House 3 is where most clients start life at rehab. House 5 is the next step towards freedom in that the clients have to take more responsibility for themselves and their welfare. And house 5 is where younger clients (like Joel) leave rehab from....and....they are predicting about 4 more weeks!!!! It might be extended if for some reason his progress slows but if he keeps going at the rate he is, then about 4 weeks and we come home! Shall I say it again? About 4 weeks to go! But wait there is more...he gets his first trip away. Saturday morning we head to Nana and Poppas and come back late Sunday. So if you are thinking about a journey north to see Joel in the weekend... he won't be here. Although this is all great news there is still a lot of work for him to achieve between where he is and where he wants to be. Every visitor that arrives is now conned into laying hands on his left foot to pray that it might start working. Joel has continued to change since leaving PTA behind. He is far more positive and makes extra effort and is starting to really focus on coming home as an acheivable goal. Anyone for a party?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Did Joel enjoy his Sunday????

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday

As you know the weekend is a little quiet for Joel as far as physio and stuff goes but it wasn’t in regards to visitors. Joel was pretty stoked that Eric and Joel came to visit and then the 3 boys from town arrived, then his uncle and aunty! So it was full on for a while... then they peeled off and the ‘3’ filled in his afternoon and went out for dinner with him. McDonalds was the choice -wouldn’t have been mine, far too healthy! He gets a real buzz when he gets visitors. It is also neat to hear the 3 talk about all the changes they see as they only come up every couple of weeks or so. They were excited to see so much more facial expression and to see him hobbling along. When I prayed with him tonight his first prayer was thanking God for such great mates! Ones that will go through thick and thin with him. And that's not just the ones that have been able to come visit but all that have prayed, written and visited, you mean a lot to him and he says 'thanks'. Notice Joe's new mullet, Donna will be pleased.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today...and a bit of yesterday

How to start? I am here holding the fort while my two ladies are away having a break... so there will be a few spelling mistakes and typos in this blog. I might even try to find a photo so that I don’t have to write so much! Joel had a full day today. Might not sound too strenuous for us but it was very tiring for him. An hour of OT, lunch, an hour of physio, an hour of speech therapy and then a goal setting meeting with all three…by 3.30 he was bushed. Other than the long term goals that roll on he had achieved all that was set for this week and now they are going to push him a little harder. There are a multitude of tests that they are running him through to try to work out if there are any areas of his brain that have weakness or have dropped out the information that he needs to function. So they look at his thinking patterns, memory, logic, problem solving and a host of other things. Some of these I have sat in and to date he has shown very few areas for them to have to work in...Haha wonder why! But the job isn’t done yet so we’ll see what they dig up. Mary said she was going to test his maths to which he said, “I hope you’re good enough.” The other big announcement was that from next week he will have his trusty zimmer frame taken from him and he will have to walk with a walking stick for a few days... and then no support except someone walking with him! This is huge even though his left foot isn’t working yet. Once he is getting around with no devices they will probably shift him to the next house which will start preparing him for the level of independence he will need before coming home.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yahooee!!!

Yep you guessed it; Joel is now officially out of PTA! …And this on the 6th week anniversary of the accident. We are rapt about this as his progress will improve even more (apparently). He is very excited about it coz he doesn’t get asked the ‘questions’ again. Anne got him all wired in the physio session. Not as bad as it sounds… she put electrodes on his leg in the appropriate place and when the button got pushed, hey presto up came his left foot. This proves that the nerves and muscles all work properly and it’s more an issue of brain power telling his foot to move… but early days and we continue to pray. She did this with him for 20 or so minutes with his left foot flicking up every time the red button was pushed down. Weird to watch. Then some more time on balancing and walking properly finished off a good session.

Yesterday I alluded to Joel having to re learn some social skills. Often in brain injury patients some of the ‘social screening’ that we use to be appropriate in our speech etc is affected. This is sometimes evident with Joel in his dealings with staff and others. Sometimes we think things but don’t say them as we know we shouldn’t…well brain injury patients sometimes just blurt them out. Now Joel ain’t too bad in this area but he is seeing everything very ‘black and white’ and taking most comments very literally. This also makes him a bit argumentative when he has reasoned through something and he doesn’t always accept that others have a different point of view.

We went out for a coffee this arvo …wheelchair in the boot, wife and daughter relegated to the back seat and we are away. All goes well till we come to what was supposed to be road works. You know the type, where there are a few scattered road cones, no workers, no machinery, no obstacles and no reason for the 30 signs placed on the side of the road. Any way I slowed down and hit the 30 area doing 40 (I won’t need any comments bout my driving if that’s ok). Well Joel takes exception, “dad the sign said 30, slow down” “ok,” “dad you’re doing 35 slow down to 30,” “I think this is alright son,” “no dad do 30,” “how’s that?” “Dad that’s 32, slow down to 30.” I slowed to 30 and by the time we got out the other end to the 70 sign and my literal friend next to me gave me the all clear to accelerate… there was a large queue of traffic following us at snail pace. Hmm this could be interesting. [He was just joking around but it’s sometimes hard to tell if he’s kidding or serious.]

At the beginning of the week the three ladies that do all the work with him, physiotherapist, speech therapist and occupational therapist, gave him a list of goals to reach for the week. Some of these were more long term like his speech goals, but of the remaining 10, he only has one to achieve and that is to stand for 3 minutes with no support. He will do it tomorrow. Gosh my son I’m proud of you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today

Hi... I hope you don't get bored with good news, if you do you might have to follow a more depressing blog! Joel has done very well again today. He managed to go up and down a small set of stairs 3 times with support, changed his walker from the large one to a smaller more racey model and switched wheelchairs from the large heavy dunger to a modern one that he can move around slowly by himself. He got his second 12 in his PTA test. We found out some more info today about this PTA thing...Post Traumatic Amnesia. Cheryll and Joel went to a meeting which is an educational class for the clients. They explained the PTA like this...after a brain injury if you are in PTA for 24 hours or less you have suffered a minor brain injury, if PTA lasts up to 7 days you have a moderate brain injury and if it lasts over 7 days then you have had a serious brain injury. Joel is not yet out of PTA but it will be the 6 week anniversary of his accident tomorrow. Sobering to say the least. Anyway if he gets 12 tomorrow he is officially out of PTA... so here's hoping.
Joel had the house manager in hysterics today. If you don't like toilet humour don't keep reading. He has now been assessed and given the all go to not use the commode any more but sit his butt on the loo like the rest of us. When the house manager asked him if he was happy about this step of progress he answered no. Then she made a big mistake and asked him why he wasn't happy... to which he replied, " well actually I liked using the commode because it was quite interesting letting it go from such a height." She shouldn't have asked!
So what are we praying for:
Still need heaps more improvement in his left leg and foot.
Some of his social skills are having to be re learnt.
But we are very happy with how he is doing and thank God daily.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday

3 weeks today since we arrived at the rehab ... Today at physio Joel spent 10 minutes pedaling on the exercycle. This was a huge improvement on the last time as he kept a far smoother action. He also spent time stepping up and down a step which helps with his balance. He is getting a bit frustrated with himself when his left foot doesn't go where he wants it to. After a bit of a walk he practiced getting in and out of the car. That accomplished, I whisked him away for a drive down the road for the mandatory ice cream. At first he felt motion sickness, all to do with the brain and balance and stuff, but that soon came right. A small drive in what Aucklanders would call 'coutryside' and then back for lunch and bed.
In the afternoon the speech therapist talked with him about getting different tones and expressions in his face and voice. At the moment the majority of his speech is still monotone and it can cause trouble when he is being humerous or sarcastic, as it can come across fairly pointed. All stuff for him to re-learn. He is taking a wider interest in things happening and talking future stuff at times which is all good. We are also back up to a 12 for his PTA and he seems a little more determined to remember so that he gets rid of the test. 
After dinner, the ladies escaped to watch a chick flick down in Henderson and I was going to walk Joel back to his bedroom from dinner and asked if he wanted to walk a short distance outside. He agreed! Usually he has taken the option of least effort... wheelchair over walking and certainly no more than what is asked for by the professionals. Well we walked out of the house (dont forget walking frame) and started down the drive. I sugested a turning point which he blew off with the comment that, "he wasn't that much of a cripple" and suggested twice as far...which he did! This was great to see coz it was self motivated. Long may it continue.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mates

Valentines special

Just come home for dinner and when leaving Joel he said, “I’m wasted but I have had a great day.” 13 visitors today (not counting his olds): some Tauranga Boys’ College mates, some Bethlehem College mates, some mates of mum and dad and another friend. Chocolates, card, poem, hugs, hand shakes, ice creams, pineapple and laughter all made for a great Valentines Day for our battler. The only official thing of the day, other than food intake, was his PTA test where he scored 10…at least he is being consistent.

So Valentines Day is a day to celebrate ‘love’… or ‘like’ for the more bashful. And while I went for my walk this morning I got to thinking about the people I love and like. Didn’t go down the track of the dislikes but hey none of you are in that category. I don’t want to be defined as the ‘father whose son had a nasty accident’ but more as a ‘father that loved his wife and kids.’ It is going through an event like Joel’s accident that you start to look at priorities and what really counts. It’s not stuff or money or position or fame or possessions; these are worth nothing. This life is about people and relationships. My mind wandered…as it does as you get older…and I thought how some have said how strong our faith has been through all this …but we are the same as you; it is just that God has allowed us to put our faith into action in an extreme context. We would never put our hands up to go through anything like this. And it has not been our faith alone but very much a partnership with all of you who have stood in faith with us and prayed for us and Joel. Well I continued to think of Valentines Day and love and romance and that sorta stuff and I started to think of God’s love for us and I reckon He is a Valentines fan. He gave us the ultimate gift out of His love for us… his son Jesus. I saw a gift being given today and it took two… one to give and one to receive. God has given us all a gift…as receivers what do we do with the gift?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Weekend Again

We arrived today to be met by Joel walking down the hall using his gutter frame (the tall version of a zimmer frame).  He was on his way to the kitchen for morning tea.  Once he had finished his yummy Milk Arrowroot biscuits he hopped into his wheelchair and we went out for quite a long walk down the road ... and just for a change we turned right instead of left.  The most interesting part of the walk was coming across the local Naturist Club ... well just the entrance to their site :-) We took the laptop in today and he spent a bit of time scrolling through his Facebook pages and added a heap new friends.  He also discovered he had 106 emails on his hotmail address which he was pretty impressed about ... but he was too tired to look at them by then.  He had a big sleep this arvo and another walk down the road after that ... this time via the dairy for an ice cream. A little thing I found interesting this evening when he was trying to shake his carton of flavoured milk and it started squirting over his singlet ... was that he got a bit grumpy and then stopped and said, "sorry, I'm just getting a bit frustrated with myself."  I thought this showed some quite good insight on his part into his feelings... which we've been told can take some time to come back / relearn.  He also whispered to me when I was giving him his good night cuddle ... "sorry for giving you this scare, mum."

Friday 12th

Yesterday was another full on day for Joel with lots of lying on the bed and sleeping. Oh and he had a strenuous physio session. Not anything that would tire us out but he was whacked at the end of it. Anne did a lot of work with him standing, walking, stepping and even hitting a ballon while standing. Now that sounds not too hard, but for Joel it was all about strengthening his legs, moving his left leg and mostly about balance which is still a big issue. But… he did a few steps between the bars without support or holding on! Agony to watch. We had a friend with us during physio and I made the comment that watching is sometimes very hard coz there is the excitement that he is achieving new things and also the reminder how sick he was and still is, compared to his ‘normal’ health. But mostly deep felt gratitude to our God who is loving and powerful and restoring him. They have set new goals for Joel for next week including going up stairs and in and out of the car. The look on Joel’s face when Anne was talking about his goals showed that the stairs scares him a tad, as he doesn’t think he has the balance or the strength to do it…watch this space. My goal is to continue to ask God to reconnect brain and left foot!

Now for something a litle different…Joel has one of those fancy beds where you hold down a button and it lifts his head, and also for the legs and up and down. Mother decides to have a play…mmm…manages to get Joel nearly folded in half and then pushes the up button and when about one and a half metres off the ground the bed decides to stop. Everyone thinking that this was the full extension of said bed were all reasonably happy until… mother pushes the button to bring him down from such heights…and nothing happens! He is stuck in this elevated position and father realises that it is far too high for the hoist to lift him off the bed… but father keeps this to himself. So after mother has a panic and a nervous giggle and Joel has some interesting questions and statements re his predicament, father is despatched on a search and rescue mission to find out why the bed is not cooperating. After climbing under it and mother coming to help, we find that a power cord had been caught on the foot thingy and slightly pulled out a plug from the ‘black box’. And so Joel came down from his lofty position much to the relief of mother, father and a protesting Joel who was asking why she had done it in the first place. (Now I won’t say anything here about woman drivers, whether it be beds or any other mechanical device)

Had my blood pressure done by one of the nurses and it is all good … so don’t worry about me.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A comment on comments

Lots of people have had difficulty placing comments so last night I had a look around the ? whatever it is and found a thing called settings. I clicked this and wow to my surprise there is this other thingy that says that comments have been restricted to intelligent people only. No, it was restricted to...I'm not sure what it was restricted to... but it said it was restricted...so I clicked the thingy that said comments were open to all comers. So that might make a differance! Have a go... you might be surprised. Sometimes when making comments it will reject the first attempt but accept the second or third, so I hope this all helps.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today...

I have just polished off a very nice sirloin steak courtesy of my lovely mother in law! She’s the best! I wasn’t allowed chips with it…I think it might have something to do with Eamons comment, but I ate my salad then ate the steak!

Joel has continued to improve. He is taking a keener interest in things and his reasoning has improved a little. We have now talked him through the accident and the month that he has no recollection of at all. Last night he was asking about the blog, how we got to start it and why and how many people are looking at it and praying. This is the first time I have seen another emotion other than humor/smiles. He hasn’t started laughing out loud yet but does smile at funny things but when he realized how many have been touched by his accident he had tears well up in his eyes. He was a little overwhelmed by your guys love, prayers and the interest you have shown. This morning I took in my lap top and showed him all the pics that we have taken as a record of his recovery and I think he is starting to gain some perspective on the severity and seriousness of what happened. It is like watching someone coming back to life in slow motion.
The physio had another good session with him today. First he ungainly managed to perch himself on the exercycle. This is the second time for him...  the first time I found so sad to watch that I didn’t write about it. This time he was sitting more upright, still supported on both sides and he pedaled for 5 minutes. Because of the lack of brain messages going down his left side every time his left foot came to the top it would stop and he would have to concentrate to get the circular motion going again but he did his 5 mins which earned him an ice cream later in the day. He then did his exercies and to finish his hour session went for another walk. This was even better than yesterday as nobody had to guide where his left foot went. Sometimes he has to have a second go at placing it in the appropriate place to keep moving in a straight line but we are very proud of him. Anne (physio) has now trained the caregivers about his special needs re walking and he is allowed to walk in his house with 2 caregivers for support. This is huge for him as now he can get to the loo in a little more dignified manner. Cheryll and I have also done our ‘basic training’ and are allowed to help him from his bed to the wheelchair and back again after a walk or whatever.
This has all been so promising that they are now saying that in a couple of weekends we may be able to take him out for the weekend. Sadly Tauranga is out of the question due to the distance but Nana and Poppa live under an hour away so we might venture north to give him a change of scenery.
PTA test…after scoring a 12 then 11 then 12 they changed the flash card pics and he was down to 9 today missing the 3 picture cards but that is normal and ok. He is also getting a little annoyed with himself that he can’t remember and keeps asking us. We aint telling coz we aren’t allowed to... and can’t remember! But this is showing that his motivation and reasoning, even if small, is coming back!
When talking about the blog and mentioning how we have been putting prayer requests on it for specific things, Joel has asked for people to pray for something. He has asked if everyone could pray that his brain and his left foot could start talking to each other. He has no control of it at all and would love to be able to walk and lift it while walking instead of relying on a splint. Thanks so much for partnering with us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Day...

Today Joel excelled himself with a 40 metre walk...please refer to photos and previous posts for a description of 'walk'! He was nearly about to give up after 20 metres until one of his mates arrived and so he turned around and walked all the way back again. The doctor has given him a check up and has discovered that he has double vision in his right eye just when looking down and slightly to the side... something to do with a muscle that isn't working yet. He (the Dr.) is reducing his anti-seizure drug so that's good and he is very pleased with his progress. Joel is getting more interested about what's going on and gets a bit demanding when tired... he's doing a lot less sleeping during the day now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Some snaps of our Joel

Tuesday

Just a short blog tonight ... we were back to an 11 again on his PTA score ... but I found it interesting today that he now and then asks me out of the blue, "what were the three pictures I have to remember Mum?  Were they a toothbrush, keys and ...?"  I, of course, can't tell him (and by the way I actually can't remember the third one myself even though I saw it when he was doing the test!!) but it does show that he is now remembering that he has these pictures to remember and he is trying to recall them off and on to keep them in his head.  Hannah reports that physio went well (I was taken out for coffee with a friend during his physio time and Kevin was in Tauranga today) and he is now allowed to transfer from the bed to his wheelchair with 2 people helping him instead of using the hoist.  This is great news because it makes it a whole lot easier and quicker for both him and the caregivers.  Hannah and I gave him over an hour of foot massage this evening (one on each foot) and he was lapping it up ... we'll have to watch that he doesn't start enjoying the sick role :-) 

Just want to say thank you again to all of you who have been praying, sending cards and letters, offering help and support, given, cooked meals and yummys, visited, phoned, txted, read the blog, posted messages ...  and more!  We have been truly blessed and please know that we are so grateful for everything people have done for us and Joel over the last month :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Who loves mondays?

So where to start? I am starting to enjoy Mondays coz after the weekend rest we can see what has happened with Joel during the rest time. To start with...after having a string of 11 out of 12 for his PTA test, today he scored 12! Now the trick is for him to do it 3 times in a row. But what we didn't know is that when he hits a 12, the pictures on the flash cards get changed making it a little harder for him. But hey he got a 12!
And yet again we have to report that he is a little more alert than yesterday.

Then off to the gym for his physio and he now moves with less support and no slide board from the wheelchair to the bed. They work with him to stand and with zimmer frame in place and only two support people he goes for his walk. Slow, ungainly... but they are called steps! A big improvement from Friday was that he was able to swing his left foot through by himself even though at this stage it is still what they call a 'drop foot'.  Out onto the deck and then the slow struggle to the other end of the deck...the 8 metre walk. But this time he sits in a chair for a while for a rest and then stands again and walks back... 16 meters today. So he started Thursday with 8 steps, Friday 8 metres and today 16 metres...discounting weekends, I wonder how many days it would take him if he keeps doubling his output to walk a very slow marathon?

After that it was back onto the bench bed thing to do more exercises especially for his left leg to help strengthen it and the brain responses to get it moving properly. After this the poor man was whacked so off for lunch then back to bed for a 2 hour sleep. Normal afternoon and evening... but overall a great day.

Another real highlight is that he all of a sudden finds that he can read more clearly close up! Eyes functioning properly! Thankyou Jesus.

After 2 days away for work committments, Hannah returned and was really delighted to see that Joel was 'more' Joel than she had seen, so she saw a real change in 2 days. But it is not just about us as there are others here that we see and talk to...and pray for, and one family have seen changes in their child which are answers to our prayers that we have shared with them! So we have asked them for the next thing they want to see in their daughter and it is that she might start communicating! So we pray.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lazy Sunday...

A lazy Sunday? Or a great opportunity to be with your son! Joel and I have spent a bit of time together today discussing his accident and what has happened since as he has no recollection of any of it. He even asked if we have been visiting him all the way through…and he remembers no visitors at the hospital. So today he asked to look at his scar for the first time. He had a gork at it in the mirror and said, “That’s pretty radical.” The word ‘radical’ sorta rang in my ears for a bit. Coz Joel for several months while talking to me about his future had often commented, “Dad I don’t want to just be an ordinary boring Christian but want it to be radical and count for something.” Made me start to wonder if this was the beginning of the answer to that sorta desire and prayer. During our conversation today Joel has started to acknowledge that he feels that God has been with him and looked after him…and also said that the last couple of days he has been thanking Jesus for what He has been doing in his life! His reasoning is slowly returning and he has commented that his eyes are ‘behaving’ a lot better. So even though it was a lazy Sunday it was also a very rewarding one and I’m thankful for the ‘more of Joel’ that I saw today.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday...the weekend

Now I thought this whole thing about 'Bogans' and 'Westies' was all a bit of an urban myth ...but it aint. Now that we have lived out here in the west of Auckland I can confirm that it is not myth.  Grown men with pony tails and mullets and tatoos of  'I love Mom' and Fords and Holdens and Valiants and all that stuff is everyday life here. And the other thing is that out in the wild west the traffic light rules are very different...red seems to be the new green! If you slow down for an orange light you risk cars entering the rear of your vehicle or at the very least honking of horns and odd hand gestures...

Why have I written all that? So that you had something to read. Nothing much happens here in the weekends as the physio's and OT's don't come in, so it's just routine stuff... breakfast, wash, back to bed, up into chair, lunch, back to bed for rest, up again for dinner then back to bed for sleep preparation. To relieve the monotony Joel had the delight of another 3 great mates arriving. Like the last lot these 3 are legends...driving up from Tauranga to spend what could be seen as a dull, boring day and then driving back again. We thank God for such neat friends for our son and that they are so committed to encouraging him! Another day similar tomorrow probably...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday

Kevin, Hannah and I started off the day with a meeting with Joel’s ACC case manager from Tauranga. She was very lovely and helpful. ACC gets a lot of flack at times but we’re very grateful for all they’re doing for Joel’s rehabilitation.

Yesterday it was 8 steps … today Joel walked 8 metres. As Kevin stated yesterday, don’t think of walking as striding on out … it is slow and deliberate and he uses a frame that he rests his arms on for support. His left leg is still quite a bit weaker and he is still unable to move his left foot up and down. This makes walking difficult as he can’t lift his foot up to swing through. His physio put a splint into his left shoe to help keep the foot up when walking. He was pretty keen to walk to the end of the deck as Kevin had promised to push him to the nearby dairy for an ice cream if he tried really hard during his physio session.
This afternoon he was pretty chatty and instigating quite a bit of the conversation. He is showing a lot more expression on his face and his smile is much more natural looking now. He gets a bit grumpy after a while of sitting up in the wheelchair as it tires him out and all he wants to do is get back on his bed.
Please can you pray for Joel’s left foot … that he starts to move it up and down. Also that he would be able to see things that are close up clearly. Thanks team :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday & Thursday

Thanks so much for all the birthday wishes that got sent to Joel via texts and mail :-)

Joel was really tired on Wednesday so he slept a lot of it and had a mediocre effort with the physio.

But after his day of sleeping he bounced back, today, very well. It was the first day that he put in a whole hours work with the physio in the gym, did all his exercises and to cap it all off, proudly took his first steps in a month. Now before you all sart having visions of him prancing round...it took 3 of us, plus an oversized zimmer frame to get him there. The physio Anne was on his weak side making sure his left knee didnt pop sideways and also supporting him, Mary the OT on his right supporting and moving the walking frame forward, and me bringing up the rear pushing his bum in so that he stood straight rather than slumping forward. 8 steps, not overly glamarous and only about six inches long but 8 steps never the less! Then lunch and back to bed for a couple of hours sleep as he was bushed again. The last 3 days he has scored 11 outa 12 for his PTA test so he is close to the magical number...and so we prepare for another round tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What happened yesterday

Big day for us all yesterday. Joel had a great visit from his great mates. These guys are legends, the sorta friends that you want your kids to have. His 4 best (male) mates have all visited in the last 2 days and it has been very good for him. Joel still gets tired quickly with visitors but we are sure it will help in his motivaion to get better and I think they all get excited when they see the changes in him. 

The last few days he has scored 10 for his PTA test but yesterday got 11. The staff are happy with this but as we have already said his improvment will be much more rapid when he has reached the milestone of 12 x 3 days. But wait there's more...Joel did a 55 minute session with the physio and stood up (with help to get up). He actually stood on his own two feet for 2 minutes with a physio behind him and in front of him to help support him.  There was a bit of swaying as he concentrated to stay upright but they clocked him for 120 seconds. The 2 main reasons for his lack of drive and motivation is his fatigue level and due to frontal lobe damage in his brain. He is still struggling to see close up but his distance sight is good...although he sometimes squints one eye in order to focus.

Yesterday we had a 'round the table' family confrence with the staff that are involved in his care. They are all very encouraged and excited about how much progress Joel has made in the first week here. Although the speed at which he is improving is extremely good they emphasised that we are still looking at about  3 months before he will be ready to come home.  The thing that hit me was how encouraging and positive this meeting was about the future. The time frame is a calculated test as it all depends on Joel and how he is responding.

Prayer points:
That Joel's eye sight would be healed
That his intrinsic motivation would start
That his legs would continue to strengthen (especially the left side)
12 for 3 consecutive days in his PTA
Praise and thanks for what has and will happen!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday

Joel had a lovely birthday albeit not what he had planned for his 17th.  He had pizza and more than his share of lollies.  He said it was ok to put a couple of photos up so there's an early one and one from today.  It's hard to believe that the photos are only 3 weeks apart. Thanks Shelley for the yummy birthday cake you brought up :-)

17th Birthday

Happy birthday Joel
we all love you


Sunday

Hope you had as gooda day as us. Joel was served breakfast and up till now someone has fed him... but one smart nuse yesterday morning stuck it on his table and said he was to feed himself and he did! Now that may not sound much to you but to us and the staff it was 'one small step for Joel and one giant leap towards full recovery.' Lunch, dinner and drinks are all now self fed! While in his wheel chair he managed to self propel it 10 meters which is also a great acheivement. On his PTA test today he scored 10 outa 12 and so they continue until he gets 3 days scoring 12. While sitting with him up on the deck he stated to wheel his chair but got frustrated coz the front wheels twisted sideways and he couldnt budge it...he was frustrated and when I asked why his answer shocked me. "I was heading for the steps to go down them." Flip... I was wondering what was going on in his head...then he said, "I was only going to go towards them to see how fast you could move." Ratbag!

If you start to wonder if God is still doing healing in Joel you gotta believe it.  There are 3 patients with similar injuries, one of them being Joel. Neither are yet talking, eating by mouth or moving around as much as Joel. (We're praying that they catch up to him soon).  Prayer is powerful.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday

Another day of sitting with our boy. I think he would prefer to be at Parachute rather than sitting on a bed in a room with his parents. Progress today?...well it seems every day that we see a little bit more of Joel as he was. He scored 12 out of 12 on the PTA [Post Traumatic Amnesia] test that they give him every day ... this is the first time he's managed to do this but he needs to get them all right for 3 days in a row before they say he is out of this stage. He is moving around stretching on his bed a lot more and he is managing to move his left leg while on the bed without asking us to move it for him.The spot rashy thingy on his leg has just about disappeared and we think it is probably a reaction to something in the strapping of his leg brace which they have still been using to stop his tendons shortening. In that there is no physio or OT in the weekends, it was all a bit of a yawn for us all. To break the day we had some rellies come in and visit which was great and Cheryll and I gave him a hair cut. A #2 was the order of the day so that it sorta matched the real short side where he had his surgery. The scar can still be seen so he may have to go to a longer hair fashion style in the future...perhaps the mullet should return? if any of you are out West Auckland feel free to come for a visit, just contact us re time and day.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday

3 sleeps to go until Joel's birthday :-)  The physio wants Joel to be able to stay up in his wheelchair twice a day for 2 hours a shot. He can't quite manage 2 hours at a time yet as it is pretty tiring sitting using different muscles and keeping his head up.  Still he did an hour and a half this afternoon before demanding to be put back to bed ... politely of course ... the staff are all commenting on his manners and think he is the politest boy ever!  He did 45 minutes in the gym today.  Remember that isn't bench pressing 120kg!  He just manages 1 kg arm curls.  He was put up on the tilt bed thing so that he can stand while being fully supported.  It was pretty painful for him as it stretches all the tendons and muscles in the backs of his legs and after a while he was begging to be released from the torture.  The physio had to bargain with him to get him to cooperate and mentioned that this was important for him to get him to walk ... and if he didn't walk, that the girls might not be so interested in him.  His reply was that he would cross that bridge when he came to it!

One thing I noticed today was a red area on his leg that is painful to touch.  The staff are going to monitor it tonight and watch that it doesn't get bigger.  So could you please pray that it is nothing of concern and disappears.

Kevin arrived back tonight and Joel enjoyed being with his old man again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday 28th Jan

Well it has just been me and Joel today as Kevin and Hannah have been sorting things out back in Hamilton and Tauranga. Every day now Joel is able to stay up for longer without nodding back off to sleep soon after waking.  He is also sleeping through the night so it is great that his body clock is getting back to normal. There's been more progress with his left leg today ... the physio was really impressed with the improvement :-)  He managed 40 minutes in the gym with Ann, his physio.  I was so proud of him as he put in a lot of effort to do things that most of us can do so easily and just take for granted. 

Something I've just noticed in the last day or so is that he is often closing one eye when he is trying to focus on something in the distance and he also told me tonight that he sometimes sees double.  I haven't checked this with anybody on the medical team yet ... but that is something to add to your prayers ...

He's becoming familiar with his surroundings.  We thought it was funny yesterday when Kevin was pushing him outside for a walk around the complex ... as we were coming back to the house that he is in he said, "and here we are back at my little slice of paradise!"  Yeah, what ever Joel :-)

He's scheduled for a haircut on Saturday at 11:00 ... performed by me with the clippers ... followed by a shower at 11:30.  It's all officially written up on his timetable they do for him so I guess I better not be late. The half of his head that was shaven is starting to grow now, so if I give him a 'number 2' all over it should make him look a tad more handsome.  I said to him the other day that I was going to give him a haircut and he said no thanks ... until I told him that one side of his head had been shaven and the other side had quite long hair.  He felt up around his head and said, "yes, there is quite a difference"...and agreed that a haircut would be good.

We're so excited with his progress and so, so grateful to God and to all you guys who are standing with us in faith believing for his complete restoration

The day after the 21 day mark

Joel had an interesting day yesterday. He was fairly awake all morning and then after lunch was hoisted into his wheelchair which I pushed up hill to the physio gym. Then he was hoisted out of the chair and onto a bench bed thing where they started working with him to get him to sit upright without leaning or falling over. Again it became obvious how much energy he was using just to concentrate on sitting unsupported. He did crack the physio and OT up when they asked how he was doing, to which Joel replied, “great, I could do this all day.” After about 15 minutes you could tell he was tiring. The good thing is that he tuffed it out in his chair till 4-00 in the afternoon, which is all good for him. He seems to be retaining more info from a day to day basis which is also good news. And what we are really excited to see is that he is managing to move his left leg around a bit while on the bed. The weight of it is too much while sitting, but it is moving.

Can you please remember us in your prayers as we start building relationship with the other families with kids in the unit. I was chatting to one yesterday and when asked if I could pray for them and their teen, it was a resounding yes with tears! God is opening doors to minister to some very hurting families and we need wisdom above all.

I’m heading back to Tga today with Hannah and so that leaves Cheryll here holding the fort while I’m away.

We’ve now also got accommodation for the next 3 weeks out at Laidlaw College (the old Bible College of NZ campus) in a self contained student flat. So God just keeps providing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

21 days…or 3 weeks later

Yesterday I had to swallow hard. Not because I had never pushed someone in a wheel chair before but I hadn’t pushed one of my kids in one before. Joel was fitted out with a racey little number and given leg exercises and stretches to do while sitting. All progress… all be it too slow for a father who wants his boy back. I wonder what God the Father went through while He watched His only son die…and had to wait patiently for 3 days before he was raised back to life. I know my Joel is coming back and we see small glimpses of that every day… he is off his slop diet and onto chewing stuff now; not being fed as much as in hospital, but it’s all good. He is starting to remember short term memory stuff like names of staff and where he actually is and Joel is managing to move his left leg while lying in bed. Still can’t move it while sitting but the physio says she can feel the muscles twitching which means the message is getting through but isn’t strong enough yet to get the desired response. Patience! Joel has his 17th birthday next Monday so that will be a quiet celebration… but a celebration indeed! Now that he is more responsive we are praying with him rather than just for him. He knows his God.

If you want to come and visit could you please just arrange it with Cheryll or myself and limit it to a couple of people at a time. This is to give his brain as much ‘down’ time as possible.

Hi Cheryll here… When I look back at the photos I took nearly 3 weeks ago I am amazed at where he is now. Back then we were so delighted when he would squeeze our hand on command and here he is having small conversations. Last night Hannah asked him what he was thinking… he gave the right response …he told her he was thinking how pretty she looked … and how annoying the fan was!
We are still blown away by all the prayer that has gone up for Joel (and is still going up) and all the emotional and practical support we have received. Specific things to continue to pray for…

Left leg and side to gain more strength and movement

Determination for Joel to put in the effort during physio sessions etc

That he would be more awake in the day and sleep well during the night

That he would get through the stage they call PTA [post traumatic amnesia]

Patience for Kevin