Kari is exhausted. She put in a hard day which included going to two physical therapy sessions, weaning from the ventilator for almost five hours, and sitting up in her wheel chair for about three hours. There's a glassed in bridge connecting the two wings of the Craig Hospital, so we spent considerable time out there looking at Pike's Peak in the distance. Linda took some good pictures of us which we'll send to the photo section of the website soon. Then when we left the bridge we came to the large family education room where Kari wanted to look at a world map. You guessed where her focus was? Ethiopia, of course. While we were talking about that a young girl and her boyfriend came in the room. She was in a wheel chair, and though she had no trache tube, she had a large halo collar encircling her head. She and Kari (and all of us) had a great time talking. At times it might get discouraging looking at all the people in wheel chairs. Yet it's also inspiring to see how much they too are working on getting better, and how much everyone is pulling for each other. Like Kari's room mate, this young girl was 17 and also named Brittany. She initially came up to Kari because she thought Kari was Brittany. In fact, several people today called Kari Brittany, and when they got her up to go to physical therapy they initially put her in Brittany's wheel chair! "I'm way too old to be a Brittany!" Kari said. Anyway, among the many things that impressed me about this Brittany who came up to talk to Kari was her cheerfulness and openness, and how much control she had managed to get over her arms. Like Kari, she too had been injured in a rollover. She too was a C5-C6, and had gained so much control over her arms even though she still could not feel her fingers or thumbs. Kari can now consistently feel both thumbs, especially her right one, and this morning as I was scratching all over her arms and hands Kari said she could feel the top of her hand running towards her index finger. In fact, she suddenly said in her whispered shout, "I feel my index finger!" and began to cry. Rejoice in this as we all do here, and keep praying over her arms and hands. Her right shoulder continued to cause tremendous pain today as well, so her therapists have taped it. It feels much better, and as tone returns to her shoulders and her collar is removed and she can actually turn her head more and really move the shoulder area things should improve. For now, though, pray for the shoulder pain.
Everyone here is so encouraging and they tell Kari all the time how great she is doing--which she is. In fact, we had originally thought, as I reported recently, that they would begin a phased step-down in size of the trache tube. But today one of her doctors said that she was doing so great on her weaning that he might just skip most of that step-down. He said we might as well keep her on the large trache, get her weaned really fast--because he thinks she's capable--then just go to one of the smaller trache tubes right away and just be done with everything that much sooner, the ventilator the trache and all. Stayed tuned. Things change day to day, but on the whole, despite the pain and extreme fatigue and setbacks here and there, they're moving forward faster than most people had expected. She's already looking forward to being back in some home in L.A., but when I told her last night that her real home was in our hearts, she understood that immediately. "I feel that," she said. "I know that that's the best home there is."
--Richard R. Guzman