It has been interesting to have Maddi reading the blog post from the accident. She wants to understand what happened to her during the time outside of her narrow view of the events. As we read, I recognized how much of the story I left out of the blog posts. At the time, I purposefully only told part of the story to maintain hope in those around us. We needed to see the hope in the eyes of our visitors because the world we were living in didn’t allow us much hope at the time.
When I wrote that Maddi opened her eyes for the first time, we were ecstatic! That was true but what you didn’t know was that the only way we could tell whether she was “awake” or asleep was by watching a machine. Her vital signs told us any and all information about her status not her eyes or her body. She was still in a coma at that time. Coming out of a coma is completely unlike what is seen on T.V. It takes weeks, months and sometimes years to make that journey. We called it coming out of the maze.
When we took Maddi off the ventilator she had a terrible case of pneumonia and there was actually some hope that the pneumonia would take her to spare her the life of a full time invalid. So, though we were giving the positive spin about taking the ventilator off early and her breathing on her own, we also knew the great possibility that she wouldn’t have the strength to fight the pneumonia and it could result in her death. That was a terrible time for us. We did not want Maddi to leave mortality but we didn’t want her trapped here either.
The choices we had to make during that time still give me pause and I am grateful for the strength provided by the Spirit. Until you have actually been in the horrific position of making a decision that could result in the death of someone you love dearly, it is impossible to even begin to imagine that moment and the agonizing time spent in search of a different answer. That journey creates a spiritual and emotional change that permanently marks you soul.
We weren’t actually praying for a miracle. We were praying for enough strength to accept God’s will regardless of what that meant. We knew that the chances of Maddi having a truly miraculous recovery were very slim. We saw the scans that showed that her entire brain had been injured. We knew that the thalamic storms she suffered for weeks were not a good indicator for success. We also knew that every day she remain unresponsive increased the likelihood that she would stay that way. We didn’t have the strength to share all of that information with the world or even our families because we needed them to keep hoping. If we had given all of the information, in the eyes where we needed to see hope, we would have seen defeat.
Our other children KNEW the truth but we as a family decide we would not allow the negative or fear to infuse our minds and hearts until we truly knew outcome. We focused on the moment and didn’t worry about the past or the future. They knew the possibilities; they also had a lot of faith in God but also the resiliency of our family to handle our future but also knew we would handle it then…….. In the future. The planning and preparing the details of our new future was and still is the responsibility of John and I, together as a team.
We purposefully didn’t give a lot of details to Jacob who was serving a mission because we didn’t think he needed the daily worry. There wasn’t anything he could do about it anyway. We figured by July we could prepare him for what Maddi was like at that time. We sent him photos as a file he could open when he was ready. I don’t know at what time he took a peek but from talking to Jacob since his return, we handled things well for him.
We were excited by any and all movement Maddi made early on but it wasn’t until Christmas time that we could definitely tell the difference between her spastic, reflexive movement and those that she initiated with purpose. The first time I truly thought she was moving with purpose was when she had her first bath and she used her left hand to stroke her left leg. It seemed like she was trying to find out if her legs were still there. That was the beginning of her recognizing that her body was still available to her. She didn’t “find” the right side of her body until much, much later.
She scratched her head, compulsively. I don’t doubt that her head itched but it was not a voluntary action. She couldn’t stop; it was like a cyclical pattern that had a definite rhythm. She spent four weeks repeatedly scratching her head over and over again and then another four weeks working hard not to. For the less than frequent visitor they would rejoice seeing her “take care of an itch”. While we knew that if she didn’t continue to recover she would be stuck repeating that action like a puppet on a string with no conscious choice involved.
When Maddi finally took an orange out of my hand we were able to truly hope that she would regain some mastery over her own body. The orange was followed quickly by drawing, coloring and writing and eventually she moved from her upper body to her legs. Many, many days of “dancing” with her to develop strength in her legs began to pay off.
The blog as it was written only covers about one third of our journey. What was omitted was intended to keep hope alive but I also chose not to write out our fears, worries and anguish in an attempt to minimize the focus on the negative. I held to mantra with vigilance; “What you focus on expands!” It was a daily task to “Keep it on the Sunny Side”. Some days we did very well and others we were not as successful but from this vantage point we did a pretty good job!
Maybe, little by little, I will fill in the gaps but we are just so grateful for the blessings given during that time and for the miraculous recovery that Maddi has made. We are so busy pursuing our new normal and figuring out the next steps in our life that we don’t have much time to dwell on the past. Only during reflection or in my attempt to record those things that haven’t been written but have been kept close to my heart do we find ourselves reminiscing. Forever changed but seeing life as bright!
We will never be able to repay the kindness that was extended to us. Thanks to all! How blessed we are to be surrounded by such great friends and family! We live in a fabulous area with wonderful neighbors and dear friends. We have such gratitude for the simple things…..sunshine, beautiful mountains, evening walks, time with family, abundance from our garden, our Dearest Savior, each breath of life!
Life is good and is getting better every day!