I logged onto my blogger account this morning and realized it was all a bit foreign! I haven't logged on since my last post so there were several comments that I hadn't even read.
Sorry to be so distant and slow about updating. Life has been a wee bit involved. ;) Not in a bad way...just...definitely a change!
It's been a long time since I've written a good update on how everything in our home is going other than giving you little snip-its here and there. I'll be honest that because of a specific event today (not because of anyone in our home) my heart is distracted and heavy at the moment...I'm going to try to set that aside and be as open and in the moment as I can be!
Since it has been so long since I've given a good update on how he's doing, yikes! I don't even know where to start. I know that sometimes I get on here to post and because my posts are so few and far between, it may come across that Cale hasn't progressed and changed as much as he has...and for this I'm sorry! It's kind of hard to allow you into our lives through a computer screen as easily as if you were all gathered around in my living room with coffee (or other beverage of your liking! Ha.) and seeing me face to face.
This will have to do!
FIRST, this may not seem as big of a deal as other growth subjects in this post but know it's HUGE for us! Cale has (for the most part!) stopped drinking Mt. Dew! Say WHAAAAAT?!?! No joke. Can I also add that it was his decision! Again...WHAAAAAAT?!?!?!
He wasn't sleeping good for awhile and over several weeks he kept saying, "no more Mt. Dew after..." and insert whatever time. The issue was that he would either forget or decide that he didn't care and then drink it anyway. After a span of time without saying anything about it after that, he all of a sudden one day said, "I give up Mt. Dew." I think that was about 3 weeks before Easter. We then had a few weeks of him drinking a mass ton of Root Beer and Cream Soda. Now, they don't have the caffeine or the radioactive look of the Dew, but have you seen the amount of sugar in those drinks? We had been given some Hansen sodas to try and he did love those but they still had a lot of sugar for how much he was drinking. Although Cale can be very child-like at times, he is not a child. Very much a man and I'm not able to just control everything he eats and drinks-unfortuantely. Ha. Jk.
So...after Nora was with us, I had gotten some flavored carbonated water from the store. I love them. But...at one point I was questioning if it was giving Little Lady gassy issues so I asked Cale if he wanted them. He tried one...and then drank the rest of it...and the next morning said, "Um, this is better than pop. Don't buy me anymore pop. I don't need it."
Now, he does still drink soda when we're out to eat but we haven't purchased soda to have at home in a long time. And, I know that the carbonated flavored water isn't the best option, it's waaaaay better than what he was drinking. AND, he actually has been drinking more water with the Mio flavoring stuff lately...and took a sip of my water one day and said it was actually good.
I would ask you to dance and celebrate with me...but maybe that's not needed.
All joking aside, this has been a prayer of mine for SO many years-way before the car accident. Basic Training for the Army couldn't even break him of drinking Mt. Dew. No friends, only Jesus can do something like that!
Although, he does still love this sign which hangs in his man cave...
I've been asked some questions and have been made aware of some questions so I thought I'd just go ahead and answer some-
Q. Is Cale still doing any therapy?
A. Yes and no. Let me explain. When we came home from Walter Reed last year, it was after about 2 weeks I think, I was on the phone with our Case Manager from the VA discussing when to start therapy and getting those appointments set up. After hanging up, Cale looked at me with a desperate expression, "Can't we just live life?" Whoa.
That was a very deep thought for him at that time. Even now, I look back and those words slowly unravel in my mind.
Can't we just live life?
I was quickly reminded that this is Cale's life. He doesn't get a do over or a second option. As wonderful as it is to watch him make progress and continue to heal, I didn't want our lives to revolve around hospitals and therapy appointments any longer. Not that those are bad things, but I felt for the season we were/ are in, we needed to live life as Cale had asked. I feel that making that decision for us was the best we could have made. Our "just" living life has become the best therapy possible!
To add to that though, he does have a speech therapist once a month that comes but she even hangs out with him and takes him places rather than a typical speech session. In fact, he has no clue she's actually doing therapy with him!
Q. Does he still get really angry?
A. This would be another yes and no answer! Haha...
He has a severe brain injury and because most of his injury is his left frontal lobe, there will always be a lack of control with his emotions. Not completely uncontrollable, but...more of a challenge for sure. We went through a period of time where Cale became violent when he would get angry. I didn't post too detailed about this but I'm pretty sure as you read my posts during the time we were back in the hospital you could figure it all out...
Was it scary? Yes. Did I get help? Yes.
We went inpatient for 5 months and with medication changes and with learning (for both of us) how to better handle outbursts, Cale came home and the violence stopped. That doesn't mean that it will never ever happen again, but, it hasn't yet and if it does, we at least have help in place.
Let me expand on this.
When Cale gets angry and has an explosion or outburst, it's not an all of a sudden random grabbing and hurting someone. The times that he has hurt me in any kind of way was when I tried to prevent him from doing something; mostly escaping.
Taking off is Cale's way of dealing with his anger. Before when he would try, it wasn't safe for him to just take off down the road by himself. I couldn't just let him leave and so I would try to stop him. Once this was made aware and realizing what his needs are, we created the man cave so that when we came home, if he got upset (which he still does) he can flee to the man cave and we don't have to get in his way. There have been times since being home that he's chosen to ignore the direction of the man cave and has gone out the front door. Do I stop him now? Nope. I let him go. I follow after him and try to talk him down until we can head home.
If this happens and I can't just leave, for instance, if Nora and I are the only ones home and Cale takes off but Nora is in her crib sleeping, we've already set up with the police department that I can call them and they can look for him. They have his picture and a statement with his needs which is not coming at him in a aggressive manner. They know that he needs to be redirected. We also had dog tags made for him to wear that have all of his information in case he was for any reason in a position to not be able to communicate.
For the most part, when Cale gets angry nowadays, it's just him yelling and maybe slamming a door. He's really learned how to channel his anger in a more positive way.
We all get angry and have to learn how to control our emotions...it's just a little more challenging for him. I'm so thankful for all the resources we've been given and have learned!
Q. What age is he functioning at?
A. Hmm...so very difficult to answer this question. I typically try to give an honest picture so I'll respond to that with saying between 13 and 18. Everyone is so different and it's so hard to paint a clear picture of this. In some of his thought processes and the way he responds or acts, its very much like a young teen. In other things its an older teen behavior. This is just the age group that he seems to connect better with and fit in more with.
I'll just make an obvious statement that I'm sure most of you wonder about, you are reading that my husband sometimes functions as a 13 year old...and now we have a baby. Oh goodness. It's just not an easy thing but can I tell you something? Although he may function in life like a teen, he was 18 when we decided to get married. He was a man. Was his thinking as mature as a 27 year old man...probably not. But he was still very much a man with manly thoughts and needs. He was man enough to marry me knowing the commitment as well as join the Army.
Does that make sense?
Cale is now very much able to express his own opinions and even join in on a discussion. He gets lost and confused sometimes and often ends up playing his iPad because he can't process what's being talked about quick enough, but if you want to sit and talk with him, he is very much his own person with his own thoughts and ideas.
He clearly isn't able to make all the decisions that need to be made for our family or be in charge of our finances or lead our family the way he once was able, but I have tried from the very beginning of him emerging from his coma to continue to give him the roll of being my husband. For example, while in NC (oh wait...you don't even know we went! I'll post about that soon....) last month, I was about to get my nose pierced with my niece. I've already had mine done twice and had it taken out each time but thought third time would be a charm. Right? Well, Cale for whatever reason did not want me to get it done, He made it very clear and even voiced his reasons.
I didn't agree with all his opinions and ultimately I could have just decided I was going to get it done despite what he thought but he's my husband and I totally respect what he says. I didn't get my nose pierced or anything else for that matter.
He is very much my husband...it may look different but he's very very much my husband.
Q. Does he drive?
A. Nope. And, this will probably never be an option...but all things are possible right?! ;)
Q. Do you have help?
A. I do! Thankfully I have an amazing Mama who lives with us and is very willing to hold a baby when I'm needed elsewhere :) Cale also has a guy (someone from our church actually!) come hang out with him M-F. The idea is that Cale would be out in our community. This allows him to have more social opportunities, do things he enjoys and have his own time away from me like he normally would if he was working. This has been such a blessing for us! In the evenings we're able to talk about what each of us did for the day. Sometimes he remembers...sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he mixes up what he did but either way, we're talking about it and enjoying being together again. And...lets be honest, I get a break from being a "caregiver" and get to be more of a wife when he comes home.
He also has been going to the gym working with a trainer that is provided by Wounded Warrior Project. This has been one of the best things to happen for him. His trainer is incredible! At first the gym was really difficult. Cale hated going because it wasn't a part of his routine. Once it did become a part of his routine after a few weeks of going consistently, he now loves it!!
I've gone with him a couple times and he always shows off.
If you happen to see him out and about around town, feel free to say hello! He used to get weirded out, but he loves it now ;)
Q. How is Cale doing with Nora and sharing your attention?
A. I absolutely love answering this question. I'll start with a conversation I had the month before Nora was born. I was talking to a lady at church about Cale's progress and how he was doing. She was asking several questions and at one point said, "I'm so glad that Cale was able to father a child." My response was, "I'm so thankful that not only does he get to father a child, he gets to be a daddy." He is very much a part of raising her. Her first few weeks were a little more challenging for him, but like everything, he needs to have time for something to become a part of his routine. Change good or bad is difficult for him. Not to mention, like most men, a newborn baby just isn't that interesting. They're like a blob...except they eat and poop.
Now that she is smiling in response to us (she is! I'll have more to share on this...), Cale is head over heels for her! He adores her. I've never seen a baby loved so deeply. Is it a cake walk with no challenges at all? Not in the slightest. It is however beautiful.
Actually, there have been several things that I have been talking to a friend about referring to something that had been hard to deal with as far as Cale and the new baby and their response would be that it was totally normal for men! Their husbands had the same challenge. Brain injury adds a different dimension and often can be more extreme but nothing new to life with a new baby in the home.
The last couple weeks we've gotten into a nightly routine and he reads children's books to her. It's the sweetest thing listening to him talk to her. He tells her all about random things and even told her the other night about how she doesn't speak English yet.
I know her growing up will come with it's many adventures and challenges. I know that sometimes having a daddy with a disability will bring so much joy and fun...and I know that sometimes having a daddy with a disability will bring questions and tears.
I know he's already been an amazing daddy who is so tender and concerned. He's protective and loving. I pray that as she grows up with a daddy who has a severe traumatic brain injury that we can help raise her to love Jesus the most and see everyone around her the way God sees them and not the worldly view of whatever disability, color or race they have or are. I pray that we as her parents can together invest in her life in a way that instills in her a passion for the Kingdom and that she will grow into a radiant godly woman.
I know that so often Cale is teaching me. Teaching me to be more honest; to laugh more, think more, learn more. He encourages me in being me rather than trying to act a certain way. He continually helps me find joy in the small mundane things. As a daddy, I know that he'll constantly be teaching Nora. He'll be able to spend more time with her and invest in her life more rather than being away from home working all the time.
It's all exciting and crazy to think about.
I know that I am thrilled to get a front seat look at the two of them bonding. If it's this sweet now...how much sweeter once she can interact with him more?
I think this just about covers the questions I've been hearing lately referring to Cale. I would need to spend more time looking through emails that I've received lately. If you have any other questions or had asked one that I forgot to answer, I would love to receive an email from you! I think I've said before on here, I'm not always the best at responding to every email but I do read every one!
And, lucky for you...I'm going to be posting a lot more over the next week. I want to say it'll happen the next three days but I know that may be stretching it! The next post will be more about me and where I'm at and the one after will be about Nora more and I'll be writing about her birth story. The last will be an overall update on everything that's been going on in our lives!
I know it's long...thanks for taking the time to read!