Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ancestors by Maddi

I have told many of you about how I saw some of my ancestors while I was in my coma. I thought it would be nice to share all that I can remember about those loved ones. Of course, I didn't know any of them personally because they went to a better place when I was just a baby or before I was born. And let me tell you that the "better place" is so much better than here. I know because I was there.

When I was in that place I felt happy and loved. It was filled with family and people who love me. Jesus and Heavenly Father were there and they love us! It isn't in the clouds like people think. When I was there it was like being in two places at once. I would be hovering over my body but surrounded by my ancestors. I was there with my body at the hospital but I was in Heaven too. I don't know how it works but that is just the way it was for me.

The ancestor that stayed with me the most was Grandma Beth Prince. My mom's maternal grandmother for those who don't know who I am talking about. I call her my guardian angel but she didn't have wings. When I saw her she was tall, not hunched over, and she was healthy and beautiful. She wasn't old but not exactly young either. It was a wonderful sight to see! I felt loved when I was with her.
  • She told me that she wanted me to get better and that she wanted me to have a happy life.
  • She told me she loved me and that a lot of people on earth love me too.
  • She said she wished she could have known me on earth.
  • She told me that I was very, very blessed.

I feel close to Grandma Beth now even though I never knew her on earth. I still love her and I am glad she watched over me. Thank you Grandma Beth!

Daisy, Dorothy and Margaret also visited me for short times. They must have had other people to take care of but that is OK. I love them too and they were beautiful! I don't know which Great Grandmother I know and love the best but I love them all. They all wanted me to get better and they said that they loved me. They all said that I needed to go back to my family and I understand why.

I didn't want to come back because I couldn't move or talk and I felt really loved. It was a different love than here. I tell you this Jesus is the best hugger in the world and he loves us all. When I was with Jesus, it was the best feeling in the world. It wasn't that I just felt loved but it felt like LOVE. I can't explain the difference but I know it's there. It was like every cell in my body believed in him and that he loved me. Why wouldn't my body want to believe? It is true!

Jesus told me:

  • That I needed to go back to my family because it was not my time.
  • He loves me.
  • The Gospel is true.
  • My family loves me.
  • It takes FAITH to live.
  • He wanted me to succeed and I believe he still does.
  • He wanted me HOME but it was not my time at all.
  • He told me that I have a job to do but he didn't tell me what it was.

When I had to say good-bye to Grandma Beth and the other family members it was like that feeling was coming to an end. I didn't want to forget that feeling. It felt like happiness and love. I still remember the feeling, that is where hugs came from. Hugs here don't compare but they are close enough. I went through a sad stage when the ancestors left because I didn't want them to leave. It was the same feeling I have when Maryanne and Katelyn leave every summer.

After having this experience I want to help people understand the gospel and for them to have hope! I want to help people feel loved here like I did there. It makes me want to go on a mission to share the gospel and the love that I felt. I am trying to figure out how to do something small everyday to help people feel loved and not just wait to serve a mission.

If you are feeling bad don't worry; The Church is true, Heavenly Father and Jesus love us. Our families love us even if they have past on and everything happens for a reason.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hands of Love By Maddi and Mom

Mom-We thought we would share some of the videos taken of Maddi during her recovery. Like the photos we didn't want to post them earlier because we wanted to get Maddi's permission to send them into cyberspace. We figured that we would post them one at a time with a bit of commentary.

This first video is the day that I had imperial proof that Maddi was there and that she was trying to interact with her environment! It was such a happy day! It was a great soothing moment for me as a mom to have her purposefully using her body to communicate. I had no doubt that she was there and I knew she was stuck in this broken body. I was longing to hear the voice of my girl. I wanted some reassurance. I was granted that in the 25 seconds that you will see.

It is important to note that at the time that the video was taken Maddi was unable to walk, talk, eat, or move in anyway on her own. We were still repositioning her every 2 hours to prevent bedsores. During this time she was moved to a transitional care facility with the hope that she would continue to recover. Some patients recover quickly and others never do. At that time we didn't know which would be our outcome.

I know many of the people close to us had a "feeling" or were given inspiration at that time that Maddi would completely recover. John and I were not among those given that reassurance. We were really good about not spreading the gloom and doom that we were facing each day with those around us. We were in a position to hope and pray for a miracle but prepare for reality. I am glad the miracle was our outcome.

With that background, as you watch the video put yourself into our shoes of not knowing and the agonizing longing to see Maddi find her way out of the maze in her head. It will heighten your appreciation for this teeny, tiny miracle.
I know that I described this moment in an earlier post but seeing it truly gives appreciation for something that words were inadequate to describe.

When Maddi did the interlocking of the fingers my interpretation was that she loved me and that she wanted to let us know that she was still in there. After talking and asking her about that time, she confirmed that I was correct.

I count that day as such a blessing. I am so grateful for Maddi's recovery. I don't know why she was chosen to have such a miracle but I am so grateful and feel responsible to pay it forward and find a way to help others in some way.


During that time I was thinking, "I cannot communicate. How can I tell my mom that I love her?." " I couldn't make the words come out of my mouth!"

By that time, I was pretty good at moving my arms. I had to really think about it but it wasn't too hard to get my brain and body to agree.

When I was able to make the connection and interlock our fingers I was excited that I could " kind of" communicate!

Here are some of the things I wanted to say then that I couldn't:

  • I love you Mom and Dad.
  • Thank you for being there with me and for loving me.
  • Please take me home to Mason and Brooke then I can be there when Jacob comes home.

I am so glad that I am able to communicate now! It is so much better! Now I can send out a thank you to all of the people that helped me.

  • I am grateful that Jesus came to visit me.
  • I am grateful for my family and for all the tease therapy!
  • I am grateful for doctors: Dr. Murphy, Dr. Meyers, Dr. Such-Neibar and Dr. Niedzwecki, Dr. Hubbard and the other Neuro Docs in the PICU, Dr. Morgan
  • I am grateful for the Occupational Therapists: Teirra, Tera, Catalina, Stormy and Dave and now Darin.
  • I am grateful for the Physical Therapists: Lisa, Matt, Danielle
  • I am grateful for Speech Therapists: Melanie, Dana, Leeann and now Harmony.
  • I am grateful for the many nurses that helped me too. There are too many to name and I know I would forget someone but you know who you are!
  • I hope I didn't forget anyone. My mom and dad have tried to keep a good record but even they forget. Thanks to anyone who helped me as I recovered.

Then our fingers were interlocked temporarily, but now our hands and hearts are interlocked for all eternity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Remembering By Maddi

I remember................ many things. I said, "I remember all things." when I first started talking but that is not really true. I do remember that I was scared when the accident happened. I remember taking my first breath in the car because my mom told me that I needed to breathe and that is the truth.
  • I saw my life flash before my eyes.
  • I saw happiness, family and love.
  • I saw my mom and I crying when Jacob left on his mission. They were a mixture of tears of happiness for him going to serve the Lord but sadness because we would miss him a lot.
  • I saw our family trip to Yellowstone and how much fun we had together.
  • I saw Brooke and I at the annual cousin sleepover that my second cousin Shannon hosts.
  • I saw my dad and I in friendly bantering over who loves each other the most. I win with Eternally, After All, Forever, More!
  • I saw Mason and I playing in the "spaceship" wagon.
  • I saw myself cross stiching with Grandma Sanders.
  • I saw our family camping at Tabby Shadows with the Scotts.
  • I saw Sam and I getting really hyper off of perfume that we call "highspray".

After all the reminiscing, I remember riding in the ambulance with my dad. I remember my dad saying that it would be OK. I felt good to know that dad thought that I would live through it and that he was with me. I felt loved.

I remember the helicopter ride. I was thinking, "Am I going to die or am I going to live?" It was cool being in a helicopter for the first time but not the best circumstances.

The answer to that question is... that I lived. My dad was right and I still love him Eternally, After All, Forever More. I love my family the most, no matter what anyone says!

I have always been a little quirky but now I am really quirky. I just feel different, not that it is good or bad, it is just different. I am Maddi 2.0 ( That is what my dad calls me. I think it is kind of cute.)
  • I find myself staring off into space a lot! Before staring off was rare but now it is not only common but easy and often.
  • Before I could eat and drink without thinking, but now if I don't think I choke.
  • It takes a long time to eat and get dressed. Those things used to be automatic, like my OT (occupational therapist) Darin said. Now they take work!
  • Doing school work and getting to sleep are a lot harder now. I can remember how to do my math, history, science and language arts but now I have to work and practice to be able to do them. Again, before.........automatic, now................not so much.
  • School work before I didn't even have to try, it was a breeze! Now..........not so much. I will have to work at it to get good grades.
  • Before I never thought about my back hurting but now it hurts all the time!
  • If there are t00 many conversations and any background noise I can't follow what is being said. It is frustrating.
  • Where before I could watch TV, do my homework and talk on the phone all at the same time. Sure miss those skills!
  • As Darin (OT) says, I now have a guy's brain that can't multi-task at all!

As you can see I am different now but I can still do many things. All the memories that flashed before my eyes in the accident are the most important and I can still do ALL of them. I look forward to making many more new memories to add to flashback list.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Maddi 2.0

Getting the homeschooling started this week has been much better than the last. I think I am adjusting to Maddi's new rhythm. We have been working on multiplication and increasing processing speed for basic skills. It is so interesting to work with Maddi and her new "motherboard". As a teacher it has always been so fascinating to figure out how someone learns but I find it doubly fascinating to have a front row seat for this relearning. Interestingly enough, Maddi is following the same patterns of learning that she did when she was young. So time........ is what it is about.

Maddi has brainstormed for an essay comparing and contrasting Harry Potter and Percy Jackson as heroes. She has been reading Percy Jackson and we are definitely Potter fans. It has been interesting to see her organize and make decisions and analyze character traits. I am pretty impressed! That being said it takes SOOOO much work! She can do it but we just take it one bite at at time. We started with brainstorming about each character. The end game is the rebuilding of each step of the writing process

It may seem silly and unnecessary in comparison to other skills but when you consider how much time Maddi spent writing, it makes complete sense. Maddi loves to write and her ideas are still there, they just need a way out. She wants to write about her experiences during this life changing journey. This is just one step to complete that goal. It is amazing how much we take for granted.

There have been some hard things and learning to understand Maddi 2.0 is an adjustment. Eating is probably to most time consuming task. I totally understand, sometimes it is just too much work to eat. Organization and follow through are both issues when it comes to any task. It takes so much more time to get anything done but I tend to be a hyperactive type anyway, maybe this is the Lord's way of helping me simmer down. There is definitely the mourning for what has been lost but the joy is so sweet for what has been retained.

I am completely amazed at Maddi's attitude. Under the circumstances, one would expect some resentment or anger but all I have seen is humble acceptance at this life altering situation. Her focus is on how to do the job she was sent back to do. She wants to be able to help people feel hope. Her deepest desire is to be who the Lord needs her to be. She often says, "God gives us trials for a reason."

This is one area that she and I differ. I don't think God gives us trials, I think he is an opportunist and provides a way for good to be a result of all things, good and bad. I would not be as calm if I thought God was up there pushing the buttons, controlling every bad accident, challenge, or trial. I believe that our Heavenly Father is constantly aware of our situation and is in our cheering section sending blessings and help our way! He knows we can make it and wants what is best for us even if we can't agree with him at the time.

I believe that God knows us and has endowed us with the ability to rise above every challenge we are faced with. That doesn't mean that it will be easy or fair, it just means that work, faith and enduring to the end will be a constant companion as we work through it. Sometimes I want to scream that it isn't fair or that it shouldn't be this hard but really, how does that better the circumstance. Everyone has hard things to deal with and no one has a monopoly on the worst of it. Fairness and level of difficulty are completely irrelevant factors.

Attitude, Determination and Faith are the key factors for success. The success I am referring to has nothing to do with a bank account, retirement, security, achievement or status. This situation by necessity has required us to let go of any and all attachment to any of the above packages. Any goals or plans we had are no longer even pertinent in our life and we have no recourse to change the outcome except with our Attitude, Determination and Faith to move forward and accept the new course we are on.

I believe that a side affect of agency often times is that bad things happen outside of the control and/or intent of anyone. The real test is whether you can get through the dark times focusing on the blessings and tender mercies. There is a God and he does love us.

It has been so fabulous to be home! The smallest things are such a luxury! Here is my newest luxury list:

1. Home cookin' baby! Soup, Roast, Stir Fry, Salads.
2. Indexing! How I have missed that sacred therapy!
3. Just hanging out with my fabulous kids and amazing husband!
4. Reading. I haven't had time to read for fun for so long!
5. Being at home when my kids FIRST get home from school. I love that!

Anyway, life has changed drastically for us. I expect more changes as the additional burdens and issues emerge but overall I still feel so truly blessed!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My First Week Home - By Maddi

Home is wonderful but it is kind of lonely and boring being home all day long. I like to branch out and talk to other people. I work hard and I am doing lots but I kind of miss school because I miss my friends.

I like it when my friends come over. It makes me feel normal again to hang out. I know I haven't learned everything that I need to learn but it is nice to feel normal again.

I like going to my therapies. I met my new Occupational Therapist, his name is Darin. He seems nice. I like him a lot. Darin told me I needed to do this bean bag game to improve my reaction time and eye/hand coordination. It seems silly but I kind of like it. Darin is great but here is a shout out to, Teira, Lisa and Melanie, thanks for helping me relearn everything at Primary Children's. I miss you!

I like goofing off and joking around with my siblings, Mason and Brooke. I missed them a lot when I was at the hospital. I really looked forward to them coming on the weekends to visit me. It made me happy when they would come to visit. It helped me work hard during therapy during the week. It gave me something to look forward to; going home and seeing them on the weekends. It has been great TT (Tease Therapy) to be with them. Thanks Mason, Brookee,Mom and Dad!

I went to lunch with Dad and Brookee and I found out that I like the Italian Place. The sandwich I like to eat is called the Manhattan. I ended up trading sandwiches with my dad. We traded my ham sandwich for his Manhattan! It had steak, eggs and cheese; Yummy!

We went to Wal-mart twice and saw Brooke's Ballroom coaches both times. What a coincidence, the woman is pregnant and she must be nesting.

I went with my dad to pick up Josie from the groomer. Here is a conversation we had.

I said to my dad, " I almost stepped in doggy doo doo."
He said, "You have to be careful of that here because there are a lot of dogs coming and going. " I said,"Especially going!!"
We had a good laugh at that!

So now you know what my week has been like. Hope you enjoyed the story.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Being home has been everything I hoped for. Sleeping in my own bed and using my own shower has given me a new feeling of peace. Exhaustion has caught up to me mostly though. I think it too has something to do with a familiar bed. I don't think that two months of high level stress is considered a health benefit.

Maddi is doing very well being home. The daily therapy work that we are doing is going well. She is working through 4th grade curriculum to develop stamina and attention for completing tasks independently. She is doing great. The thing that I think is so remarkable is her willingness to do this mundane work. Her memory is amazing but being able to keep her attention is difficult but she doesn't ever complain about doing this "easy" stuff.

I am grateful that she has a good attititude about this whole process. She works hard and she is really dedicated to relearning the skills she needs to go back to school. The high achiever in her hasn't dimmed at all. She is highly motivated!

We went to Sacrement Meeting on Sunday. We were late in arriving. Having not been home for so long I was unaware that our clocks are about 10 minutes slow. We ended up sitting in the foyer. It was Ward Conference and there were no seats in the back and we didn't want to walk up to the front.

It wasn't quite what I wanted our first Sunday to look like but it was still fabulous for all of us to be together in our home ward. Brooke was so kind to join us. It was almost like a time warp before Brooke's graduation.

It was a strange feeling to be there again. Maddi was sitting between John and I, it seemed like the last 65 days were just a complete nightmare and that all was as it was before. We were seeing friends and neighbors that have been following via the blog. It was a feeling of being deeply cared for.

I have been so humbled by the many people saying how much hope and inspiration this blog has created. I started this blog as a way to spread information and in my attempt to do that I also spread my feelings all over cyberspace. It has been hard to keep those things seperate.

I was reading in the biography of Thomas S. Monson and he was quoted in the book as saying,

"Those who have felt the touch of the Master's hand somehow cannot explain the change which comes into their lives. There is a desire to live better, to serve faithfully , to walk humbly and to live more like the Savior."

He made this comment after his sweet wife had surgery and they had come face to face with the possibility of life being different than they had planned. The Lord blessed them and us with a positive outcome. As I read this statement in the frameowork of our most recent journey, I completely understand what he was talking about.

We have been so greatly blessed. It is truly a miracle! While at the hospital we talked to many of the trauma doctors and other staff and most of the people that were involved with Maddi's case were haunted through the month of December. From what they said they are really good at separating their emotions from their work. Many people said that there was just "something" about Maddi that drew them in and touched their hearts.

Part of that haunting was because they understood the grevious nature of Maddi's injuries. More than one of the doctors told us that if it had been their own child they would have refused any assistance. That definitely would have changed our outcome. The other reason for the haunting is that any other possible outcomes were all less than ideal. Most of those doctors spent the month of December worried that Maddi would be unable to recover the most basic levels of conscienceness.

John and I had "that" conversation and had to make "those" decisions. We talked of organ donations and possible outcomes. Not many parents ever come face to face with those decision and those that do most often don't stay married. I prefer for that part of the journey to stay deeply buried and never revisited. However, one of the side effects of this blog has been the detailed account of Maddi's recovery and that part of the story needs to be recorded.

Writing on that terrible day was impossible but that day makes her recent recovery all the more profound for us. I happened to get a call from a dear friend the morning after our agonizing night. I am a terrible liar and cannot pretend, her call put her in the unfortunate place of hearing the truth of how bad it really was. I feel bad that she had to hear it but it needed to be spoken and my need to let all of that out was great. A heartfelt thanks goes out to that friend for being inspired to call at the time I could actually open that part of my heart and my fears.

I have been completely envious as people have said that "always knew" that Maddi would be OK. John and I were not given that confirmation as we prayed for Maddi and it wasn't a lack of feeling the spirit. The Spirit was undeniably strong and we were carried on those dark days. We were planning for the worst and praying for the strength to accept the Lord's will, hoping and praying for a miracle.

Part of our journey was the acceptance of our inability to do anything to change the outcome. Jesus, Savior Pilot Me has always been a favorite hymn. During this time the words to this song, strengthened me and helped me find peace and perspective. I could do an entire post on the symbolism of that song in regards to this experience.

After that terrible day and she lived, we knew that the quality of life then became the worry. We didn't want her stuck in any way. We wanted her to recover completely! We didn't have any gaurantees or any say in the matter, about the degree of her recovery. Even now the doctors cannot explain it. We haven't come to the end of this journey but Maddi has recovered so much that we can see a happy life in the future. That is more than we were ever prepared for.

What the future holds for Maddi is still unknown but the future is just that, in the future. We will take each step of recovery as a beautiful mercy.

To quote Maddi's first complete sentence; "We are so very, very blessed."