Hope Like A Champion…

Welcome to March. A month of madness, mayhem, and myriads of potential.The epic struggle between winter and spring causes massive weather battles. We see ice storms one day and 62′ and sunny the next. Last night I sat on my couch and listened to the wind rattle the windows and shake the trees as it blew in a spring snow storm. In a few days it will warm up to 65′.  In the snow, I see flowers coming up in spite of the cold. I LOVE the spring because of its wildness and unpredictability…not so much my life.

This month here in America is Brain Injury Awareness Month. We use this time to help people to learn about brain injuries and their survivors and families. A green ribbon is the symbol and color used to spread the message…of hope.Ribbon

Let me tell you the story of how brain injury affected my life and changed my family forever…

IN May of 2009, on Friday the 15th at 11:30 at night, I received a phone call. It was from a family member. They said my husband had been injured and that I should come and get him. I drove 20 minutes not knowing what I would find. When they opened the door, he was there sitting on the couch. Everyone was upset and trying to remain calm. I looked at his face and it was swollen and obviously beaten. I couldn’t get him out of there fast enough.

He kept saying that something was wrong. As I drove out of the driveway, by myself, I was debating and praying. Should I take him to the closest hospital, even though I didn’t know the way, or drive 30 minutes to the hospital near our home?  I choose familiarity and speed over wandering around for who knew how long. Those 30 minutes were the longest I have ever lived even after giving natural childbirth to 5 full-term babies. He was going into shock so I would crank up the heat and talk to him so he would respond then he would get warm and sleepy so I would turn off the heat until he started to shake again…

I just didn’t want him to die before we got to the hospital. For some reason I was resigned to the possibility he might die from shock or trauma …I just didn’t want him to die with me all alone. Why didn’t you call for an ambulance you say? Good question. I guess I didn’t realize how bad he was until we were well on our way.  The needle never went under 90 as I prayed for grace and protection…

Fast forward through several surgeries for his left upper jaw and eye socket repairs: 7 plates and 28 screws, hospital stay, bringing him home with his jaw wired shut, face grotesque and swollen almost unrecognizable, purée all his food, dispense a multitude of medication, etc. We are now 6 weeks into healing. He looks great. The plastic surgeon was a true artist and genius. He gave me back someone I recognized and for that small thing I was grateful. I would have taken him any way–just for the record.

A few weeks later, he is released to go back to work. My husband goes to look for a job (his old job was no longer an option) and in the process of that realizes that something is wrong. He couldn’t follow the simplest of instructions. The symptoms exploded from there: loss of balance, struggling to find basic words, stuttering, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, loss of awareness of self and the time-space continuum…

Back to the doctor we go. The initial diagnoses was post-concussive syndrome which led to neurological testing which led to a diagnosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. I hate the mild part but I guess that just means he is still functional and able to care for his basic needs.

Physical therapy, speech therapy, hearing tests…

He got back the ability to walk straight (it took months and a lot of hard work). He has recovered a lot of his cognitive abilities and is able to do some basic chores…on good days. Some symptoms have never left, he has learned to manage them.

I would later find out that he was assaulted and stomped on by some guys who were just bad news-he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We pressed charges but without any witnesses, we could only get a misdemeanor charge but it was something…

Fast forward to now…we are in the 7th year and define our lives as pre-injury and post-injury–not to be morbid, as we have most definitely not let ourselves be defined by this tragedy, but because we as a family and as individuals have changed, grown, adapted and continue to do so everyday.

We grieve the loss of the man/father who was and are learning to know this new guy even as he is learning to know and accept himself. We are forever changed. We are a family that has chosen to pull together, support and love through an unimaginable situation and learn the power and art of unconditional love. It is not easy and some days we fall really short but I have noticed that we, generally speaking, are pretty stubborn.

As always, in making a long story short, this is but a drop in the bucket of our journey of hope.hopeinsunlight

For years prior to this incident, I had filled the house and my heart with the word HOPE. There were other issues in my life that needed hope and it became such a part of me that when the rubber hit the road, I had a large resource to draw upon. I have learned so much and I hope that I have passed that on to my kids and through this blog have been able to encourage you and provide some substance to the wispy idea of hope. I have learned the power of hope to endorse faith and love in seemingly hopeless situation that may or may not ever change.  I have learned to hope like a champion…

I have tried to end this post without an invitation for you to join me but I can’t so here goes it…

I invite you to join me. Life is hard and wonderful, chaotic and beautiful, wild and unpredictable. I don’t claim to have all of the answers but I have learned some valuable tools along the way that I would like to share with you. Please invite others to join if you think they would like to join us on our journey–that’s what Crafting Hope by Heidi Mull is all about: intentionally crafting, creating, and cultivating a more HOPE-full life.

 

Heidi Mull, still standing, hoping like a champion.woman-warrior2.jpg

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