Thursday, March 29, 2012

back on the ice...with the biggest smile!

I have so much to write! Oh man…it’s only been a few days, but in that few days, it’s been packed! Yikes! Get ready for a boat load of pictures and some good video! :o)

To start off, Tuesday I experienced every emotion in the book, at least it felt like it! The first 3 nights I didn’t sleep at all. Around 11pm on Monday night I fell asleep and was out! Around 2 am I woke up to Cale tapping me and when I opened my eyes I saw his finger. “I got a big booger” was what broke the silence. I have to say, at that moment I felt like I could kill a chicken with my bare hands. Once we were all situated and the booger issue was under control, all I could do was laugh! We were both up until the alarm went off at 6:15am. Cale was miserable all morning and I feared for a really hard day.

We loaded onto a bus and drove to a hockey rink and on the way Cale was teaching me all about the game of hockey. This cheered him up a bit!


The last time Cale played hockey was a week before the accident happened. He had been playing in the evenings with his buddies from work. It was a blast and Cale hated leaving after having so much fun with all of them!




On March 26, 2012 Cale got back on the ice. It wasn’t the way we thought it would look like, but it happened! He played hockey! He smiled from the moment we walked into the locker room and didn’t stop!




I cried. There was no holding back. As he was getting all geared up they started to fall and at the point they were still controllable, but once he was on the ice, the flood gates opened. He didn’t wait for instructions or anyone to explain anything. They pushed him out on the ice and off he went! It was so awesome!






It felt amazing to be back on the side lines cheering him on. There’s no way to explain it. Everything felt so right and Cale seemed so at home. It seemed like a whole different life. Cale’s team lost by one point and quickly our moment was back to reality. All the excitement and love for being back on the ice disappeared as he announced filled with defeat that he didn’t win and it was a dumb game.

The balloon that had filled and started my drift to another land popped and suddenly I was comforting my husband wishing that the game had gone a different way. It was never made into a huge deal which team won or lost, but he knew. It mattered to him.

The rest of the day was so hard. Cale couldn’t pull out of the funk that he fell into and I was heading in that same direction. All I wanted was to go back to the moment with him on the ice and his glowing smile. Thankfully I had witnessed it and had our moment of the week, so almost nothing could bring me down!

That evening was a support group for people with TBI and their families. Cale didn’t want to go at all, but I couldn’t leave him by himself so he came along. At first he did really well, but after about 20 minutes (which was a big deal already!) he was done. Done with it all! At one point I leaned over and told him that everyone in that room that was sharing had a brain injury like him. He replied with, “I don’t care. I’m freakin’ tired!” Hello brain injury! Haha!

That night was indescribable for me. Each person had 5 minutes to share their story. There were people of all different ages and they all had at least one thing in common; each of them had a brain that isn’t whole. There were times that someone would be having a hard time as they told their story or mentioned at all about how lonely the journey had been and around the room others would start cheering them on and reminding them that they aren’t alone, we’re all in it together. Simply amazing.

Wednesday didn’t start off too much better. Cale was tired and it was the day for sit ski. Trying the adaptive snowboarding still didn’t seem like the greatest idea because of his knee, but also because he had in his head to snowboard like he did before his injury. There was a lot of waiting around that made him grumpy but as soon as he was on the sit ski, he was all smiles! On Monday he did four runs, but this time he only did one before being done. When he finished he still had his big smile though!



If you look to the left on the video at one point, Cale passes our cheering squad we had set up! :o)



There wasn’t a long break before it was time for our team meeting. One of the team leaders asked Cale about doing the Macarena in the meeting so we had to practice a little. I wasn’t sure that he was actually going to do it, but he did!



We went to dinner with some friends and the rest of the night was pretty chill. I had an awesome opportunity to talk with a couple that had children after the wife suffered a TBI. I have wanted to have that chance for a while now. Her TBI isn’t as severe as Cale’s, but a brain injury is a brain injury and each stage and each level of severity comes with challenges. They were an awesome couple and very honest with all the struggles and blessings. I’m so thankful they even took the time to talk with me!

We were supposed to go snowmobiling today, but with no snow, we were able to switch and play hockey again. Cale was excited and after loading on the bus again he was ready to go. This time I was joining him on the ice! Eeeeeek! They start off with drills and practice shots. Cale wasn’t impressed today and for some reason struggled a lot more with it. At one point I honestly thought I had lost him because he had that look in his eyes when a meltdown is near. They started the game just in time and that changed everything! He was back in his element and ready to play! He scored two goals and lasted the entire time! On Tuesday he got off the ice before the full game. They play a short game with half ice and teams broken up and then the second part is full ice, for both games our team won!







Although…I can’t say I was ANY help! Every single time the puck would come at me, it would either fly right by me, under my sled, or I would tip over and miss the whole thing. If you know me, and you know how I am…please take a minute to picture me playing sled hockey…oh.my.word.

And in case you were wondering, while tipped over on the ice while a game is going is NOT the time for a case of the giggles! If you’re laughing you can’t get up! When someone is gracious and helps you up the giggles cause you to fall right back over. Oh and more than once I was spread out and twisted on the ice like a squid thrown to the ground-not pretty. But oh so fun!

Right after getting back to the hotel, we unloaded and took on one more challenge…the rock wall. My arms and legs were tired so I knew Cale’s had to be, but he went for it! I didn’t know how it would go because of his depth perception problems mixed in with lack of strength and coordination, but he did it! He went all the way to the top and rang the bell!!!!!! He was shaky on the way up and a few times he was stuck and had to problem solve, but he did it! He did it! Oh my goodness I’m so proud of him!




Before I gave it a try the guy running the wall linked us together! Oh goodness…so much more laughter! To make the moment even more memorable, they started to swing us…Can you say Tarzan and Jane? Ha!



Then it was my turn. I was nervous, but made it to the top. The best part was hearing Cale cheer for me. He kept saying that I was doing a good job and to keep going. Is there anything better?!


Our afternoons have been filled with naps! Tuesday afternoon was the only day I took one out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, but Cale has had one just about every day except for yesterday. He’s been working hard!

Today he even got a free 30min massage to ease is muscles from all adventures this week! :o)

me&him...


{around the mall area}


{having a snack and enjoying the sun}


{on a walk}


{on the gondola lift}


{on our way to the rink}

The week is coming to a close. Tomorrow is the last day of the clinic and then it’s time to get back on the plane and head home!

We're going to be leaving with new friends and I have a determination to find a way to get sled hockey in the Tri-Cities! I've already talked with a couple people about it...and well, it just needs to happen.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Story.


Hello from Colorado! Yes! You read it right…we’re on another trip! We left home Friday to attend the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. Cale had gone to the Summer Sports Clinic and had the opportunity to try out events like surfing, cycling, and kayaking back in September and this time we’re in the snow…well, what’s supposed to be the snow!


On Friday when our flight landed in Aspen, it was sunny and dry! That’s kind of the way it’s continued to be. The snow hill behind our hotel does have snow, but it’s packed and icy from it being so warm. I’ve heard the top is slushy as well. I wouldn’t know how the top is, but Cale does!


But I’ll get to that…

First, it’s super exciting to be here and have this amazing opportunity for Cale. Not only is it challenging him in new ways and a blast at the same time, but it’s so good for me too! Incredible is the word that keeps coming to mind. These events and all they do for these veterans is just incredible, and we get to be a part of it!

When we arrived in Denver, we were greeted with a group of vets that escorted us to a room that was full of goodies for us to munch on and a nice place to relax until our next flight to Aspen. Everyone was so helpful and friendly and it gave Cale some time to play cards and recharge. While there we met up with a group from the Seattle VA and all caught the next flight to Aspen. From Aspen we took a bus ride until we ended up in Snowmass Village, CO. It’s beautiful, but not what we were expecting! I had heard that it was going to be covered in snow and to make sure to back warm clothes, but instead it’s been warm and sunny!



We had some time to chill in our hotel room before heading to dinner. I had mentioned to Cale that we should get ready to meet up with our Seattle group for dinner and when I came out of the bathroom I found him completely undressed and wearing the bathrobe!


Our first night here neither of us slept at all. It was planned for the Seattle group to meet up and take a bus into Aspen for shopping. I was gung ho to go, but Cale was so tired and so was I! I knew we weren’t going to be “shopping” and Cale doesn’t enjoy it one bit in the first place so we just stayed back and rested. At one point Cale woke up and asked where we were. I tried to reply with an excited voice that we were in Colorado, but all he said was, I miss Basil and then rolled over and went back to sleep! He didn’t get up and out of bed until 12! After that we walked into the little area that they call the mall which is full of shopping and restaurants. It’s tiny and cute and this clinic takes over!




After we came out of the restaurant from lunch, Cale started to sing, “Zippity doo dah, Zippity aye, My oh my what a wonderful day Plenty of sunshine coming my way, Zippity doo dah, Zippity aye.” I have NO idea where that came from, but I laughed so hard! When I asked him where it came from he said, “I don’t know. My head?”

Today was the first day of events. Cale had planned and really wanted to try adaptive snowboarding, but yesterday his knee was swollen so we took a trip to the medical room to get it checked out. The doc was super great with him, but couldn’t really do anything because nothing looked out of place. I had some pain meds Cale’s doc had prescribed for knee pain that wouldn’t mess with his seizure meds, so that was the solution. Cale hasn’t complained anymore about it. Actually, the only reason I knew about his knee was because during registration, the noise and commotion was way too much. Cale was starting to tell people to shut up, so I talked with the coach that’s with the Seattle group and we came up with an escape plan instead of waiting in line the entire time. I had grabbed a chair and was taking Cale out in the hallway and he couldn’t sit down his knee hurt so bad! When I lifted his pants his knee was swollen and warm, so off I went to get the team nurse. Yikes! No wonder he was grumpy!


Since the knee had been giving him issues we decided the safest idea would be doing the sit ski. I was actually pretty happy about it because I know he really wants to snowboard and I don’t want to be the one to stand in the way of a goal, but I know in his mind he thinks he can do it like he used to. I feel like the adaptive part of it and the reality of the change has potential to make him really frustrated unlike the sit ski which was something he could succeed in. Wednesday is his next ski day so we’ll see what happens! With the sit ski, he has two instructors that ski down with him and one is teathered to the back of his sit ski to help him with the control. Cale loved it!

Here are some pictures from today, but I know I’ll be getting some better ones from other people soon!









Before he was in the sit ski, I asked if he was excited and he said he was scared! I wasn’t expecting that as a response from him, although I totally get it and it makes complete sense, but he doesn’t too often admit it! I’m so proud of him for doing it; for trying it even though he first said it was dumb because he wanted to snowboard instead, but also because he was so scared and he didn’t let it stop him! Once he was sitting down and getting buckled he was ready though! One of the guys asked if he wanted to go fast like Ricky Bobby and he said, “No! I want to go fast like Dale Earnhardt!” He was ready and the smile wasn’t leaving his face!

These clinics are tough. They take a lot out of him and a ton out of me. For Cale, everything is such a challenge and all the talking, meetings, noise, and unfamiliarity zaps energy out of him. His brain is already working double time while we’re at home and everything is calm and normal. When he’s doing things like this, the miserable side comes out a lot more often than the not-so-miserable side. Of course when Cale is miserable…well, it just drains me! BUT, when the moment comes when he is feeling like a man and like he’s about to conquer the world and that smile spreads across his sweet face, man, that makes all of the hard moments so worth it. I don’t get to see that look like I used to. I don’t get to see Cale truly happy about something like I used to, but getting to come to these clinic lights up his world when he’s doing whatever event is at hand. It.is.the.best.thing.

A few more things to add…

Every morning when Cale wakes up and we’re not at home, he is confused. It takes him some time to figure out where he’s at and what’s going on. Normally, this is when some really funny stuff comes out because he’s just at a funny place with his brain rebooting. This morning one of the first things he asked was, “Where’s England?” I mean, that’s what I’m always wondering about! ;) hehe!

What do you do at a Winter Sports Clinic with no snow?! You bring some in! Ha! No joke! One of the events that we get to do is snowmobiling, but they need snow for it! Apparently they’re bringing in a ton, but there was some talk of it being cancelled. This is the first time ever that I’m praying for a snow storm! We’re not supposed to be getting any, but who controls the weather? I’m going to Him! I just really don’t want to have to miss out on one of our events! They did say if they had to cancel they’d move us to the hot springs, but Cale isn’t going to enjoy that one bit!

As I’ve been walking around and talking with the other participants here, I’m reminded more and more how everyone has a story. There are people of all ages here trying to make something of their life and to enjoy what life they do have, and before their injury; whether it was getting blown up while deployed, getting diagnosed with MS, waking up with a stroke, getting shot at during war, being in a car accident, falling off a building-whatever it may be, before they were injured, they took care of themselves. They walked, ran, jumped, swam, worked, and did most likely whatever they wanted. Now many of them at this clinic are dependent on someone else to take care of them. Someone else to help them daily with simple life skills that I daily take for granted. On top of what they go through, there are so many people that don’t have anyone to love them back. One of the guys here had his injury over 10 years ago and longs desperately to find a woman to love him despite his injury. Woman after woman that he starts a relationship with, he’s left hurt and deflated as she walks away. Another guy just wants to work. His brain injury and speech leaves him in a position to work, but it’s a challenge to find the work that he wants to do. Another guy was an officer in the Army and 6 years after his injury he just longs to be normal again. My heart breaks for the people that have no one to hold them at night and help them through whatever it is they’re facing. Just today we sat with a lady that had a stroke several years ago and she’s alone. She commented on how lucky Cale was to have me to be by his side every day and while she spoke the slurred words, I could feel her pain. This week gives her a reason to keep pushing through and smile.

As I was looking through my profile pictures on Facebook the other night with Cale, I instantly became overwhelmed with thankfulness for him and for how blessed our life is. Yes, it’s so hard some days and yes, I miss how things used to be, but I don’t love him less. I don’t hate our life. I have never felt so blessed in my entire life!

I’ve been reminded multiple times lately how it’s only been a little over two years and how fresh Cale’s injury is. For me, at times, it feels as though it’s been ages since we had a life before brain injury, but reality is that we are still so new into this journey and although we’ll have days that feel like we’re backsliding, we’re only moving forward!

I’ll post as often as I can with all the exciting pictures of Cale’s adventures!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Facebook!

Ok. I know. WE KEEP SWITCHING. I'm a silly girl and had to get to the point of figuring out how to make it the way we wanted. Third time is a charm! We’ve created an open group on Facebook for The Darling Project and we’d REALLY love it if you joined! It’s created to be a place for you to be up to date on the Project and all the happenings. I’ll be posting more on our daily lives as well even though it’ll have nothing to do with a house. :o)

I met with September this afternoon to discuss the Project and how it’s all going. We’ve been able to come up with a few plans we’ll be working on over the next month.

If you haven’t already, we’d love to hear how you want to be involved and ideas that you have with fundraising!

Our heart is to see how this project would be used to glorify the Lord. He can do more than we can imagine! It’s not just about building a home, it’s about changing lives.

Please be praying on how you might be a tool!

Thank you ALL! We love ya!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our trip...

...can be described as wonderful!

We had the best time! And visited with the best people!

Simply...

...wonderful.


On Monday we started our trip with a drive to Spokane. The couple that we stayed with, blessed us MEGA by gifting us all of their Southwest points to fly down to CA. Wow! Unfortunately, flying out of Pasco was a no go for Southwest. We made it into a date night and had fun staying at a hotel and going to dinner. We actually had a ton of fun together and laughed until our sides hurt. Well, I know mine did and I'm pretty sure Cale thought I was just plain ol' crazy with all of my giggles!


The next morning the hotel shuttle picked us up at 4am! It wouldn't have been too terrible, but Cale woke up around 2:30am and wasn't able to fall back asleep until around the time I was going to be waking him up! So...we didn't get hardly ANY sleep. Cale is a wise man though and took care of his needs during our layover in Denver. I found chocolate to eat while I read my book. :o)


When we finally arrived in San Jose, the visiting started! We stayed with Dave and Barb and the whole time they were AMAZING! I didn't realize until on the flight home that the ONLY picture I have of them is one that Cale took one night at dinner and it's not even with us in the picture. I'm sure Barb is going to love me for showing it...


Here are some of the lovely faces we spent time with...


{J was one of the RT's while Cale was inpatient on 7D}


{Nicola is a great friend whom I love dearly! If only we lived closer to each other...}


{The family that became like my family while in CA. They were also the family that put up with Basil while we couldn't have him!}


{Our faithful prayer warriors Glenn and Sharron! We spent the day with them and drove up to Mt. Hermon...beautiful!}


{All of our friends on 7D!!!! I absolutely LOVED getting to see them! I only wish I would have had more time to talk with all of them...maybe next time? It's a must!}


{Of course we can't forget our buddies the RED WINGS!!!}

Some other ramdomness...


{we played Yahtzee}


{we played cribbage}


{Cribbage with teams...the boy team.}





{We were silly}


{Cale won at arm wrestling ;o)}


{Barb made us breakfast in bed (that we ate at the table for Cale) complete with our very own menu! This seriously made me cry. It was one of the sweetest things...}



{We went to a Red Wings game for our anniversary. Yes. Yes we did.}



{I made a little video of our special day}

Again, the trip was completely wonderful. I kept hearing from different people and not all around each other about how Cale seemed more "mature" than a year ago. Music to my ears. Not only was it observed by everyone, but Cale even blew me away for most of the trip! He came out with the funniest things and was mostly always engaged with the conversation. He is constantly changing. My brain is getting to the tired point, but at some point I'm going to have to write some of the things he said and would do! Barb, you're going to have to help me with this!

Being back home...

We pulled in a little after 3pm yesterday and our biblestudy is at 5:30! I had enough time to get showered, set up, and chill. Cale was past done for the day, so he spent the evening in the room which was totally fine!


{these packages were waiting for us! Thank you ladies for the anniversary goodies! I haven't opened all of them yet as my head is still spinning, but I know when I do I love whats inside!}

We had a neuropsych appt this afternoon. It all started well and Cale was even being funny. Dr. L was discussing the possibilities we should try for Cale when he goes grocery shopping with me. The thought is that one reason he says he doesn't like to go (hates it!) is because it's boring. If we challenge him and have him go and find an item (like a box of cereal) and come back to me, how would he do? The reality of him getting lost, panicking, and getting really angry are all there, but, since it's in a closed in environment, I can be right there quickly. Cale asked about him getting lost and Dr. L told him I wouldn't leave the store without him. Cale then replied, "She better not lose me, I make the money!" Hahahahaha! Oh. my. goodness. He cracks me up!

Laughter faded and frustration filled the air when the conversation kept going and Cale finally yelled to Dr. L to shut up right before storming out of the room. It was so hard to see because when the frustration very first started, I knew what was coming but hoped that it wouldn't end that way, but it did. It always does. I chased after Cale as soon as we heard the ding sound from the outside door opening. I didn't say a word letting Cale have "space" and wanted him to talk when he was ready. Most times he forgets that he was upset and we can move on, but this time he said, "You didn't have to leave too." I told him that I did because it was an appointment for both of us. When he asked why it was for him too, I explained that it was to help us process and work through his brain injury and work through us having a baby (when that time comes). Cale very firmly replied with, "I'm not injured." I brought up his brain injury and once again he firmly said, "I can't see it! I can't see my brain!"

Sometimes, him being out of his wheelchair can be a bit more challenging to understand that something is different. That something is hurt. That healing needs to take place.

Thankfully Dr. L has his job for a reason and he understands, and thankfully Cale wasn't being angry with me; just angry.


{Cale's mom came to visit and Cale decided to switch their shoes around.}


{When we unpacked all the stuff from our car a couple weeks ago, we found the Wii that Cale had gotten me for my birthday about a month before the accident. We put it together and today it was used! Mama and Cale played, I played with Cale, and then when his mom came she played with him!}


{A couple months ago I was online and had clicked on a website that has a bunch of baby stuff. I couldn't help myself when I saw this adorable little onesie. I put it in the cart and checked out. I've had it hanging on my desk reminding me that when the time comes and I hold our baby in my arms...I'll know our little baby was SO worth the wait. As is all of the treasures the Lord gives to us!}

side note...
The pictures from the last post were from a spot in Redwood City that Barb showed us. It was gorgeous and I couldn't leave without having our picture taken! She did a swell job and I love them! :o)