I was just talking with my friend Nathan on the phone before I started writing this and when I told him that I was (finally) going to do another blog update, he joked that I would have to start it by writing “I apologize that I haven’t done an update in a while, but…” So………I apologize that I haven’t done an update in a while, and I know that this one will be lengthy, but it’s been a really tough week. I’ll start with the good news though. Our outing on Friday went well, and Kari got her first opportunity to drive around in a public place. The movie theater we went to was in a mall, and she did the ramps and elevators by herself most of the time. It was very scary for her at times, but we made it. She had a pretty good crash today though, when she accidentally blew into her straw instead of inhaling and she accelerated into a wall in the hallway. Her toes didn’t seem to be hurt, but it scared her a bit. Overall though, she’s getting pretty good at driving. She’s using her emergency kill switch less and can go faster through tight spaces. She even drove outside down a curvy ramp and around a fountain. I’ll be putting up a few video clips of Kari driving on the website soon and also a bunch of pictures that I’ve taken of all the people that work with Kari at Craig. This past weekend was also a lot of fun with Kari’s brother and sister out here. John and Cyndi and I took a powerchair out for some test driving (a little off-roading too!) and Dustin and his kids all got a chance to see what it was like too. Kids are so adaptable to these kinds of situations. Colton, Sierra, and Savannah took everything in stride and thought the powerchairs were way cool (which they are!) Health wise, Kari’s condition looks good and Kari is allowed to take her collar off most of the time now. In PT and OT, Kari has shown a lot of determination when she is able to stay awake with all the medicine she is taking. We also ordered her wheelchair today, which looks like it will be totally covered by insurance.
Like I said, though, it’s been a rough week; well, really the last two weeks have been bad—probably the hardest for me and the most painful for Kari since the accident. Since the last update, Kari’s has been in constant pain. Her medications work sometimes for an hour or two, taking the edge off and making it bearable for her, but then attacks of pain come on so quick and strong that they overwhelm her. Her spasms in her arms, neck and jaw are also getting much worse. When I put my hand on her neck, her muscles are so tight that they feel like bones. Spasms can come on so strong that it is difficult for me to hold her arms down if I don’t have a good grip or position. Dr. Balazy has increased her doses of neurontin and baclofen, for nerve pain and spasms respectively, but it hasn’t seemed to help yet. We’ve heard from some people that when you get the collar off it can lead to increased spasms. Last night, I stayed at the hospital because her spasms were so bad that she would wake up every 20-30 minutes screaming, most of the time not really making any sense with what she said. She has needed so much attention too—adjusting her arms, holding her when she spasms, finding her nurses for her pain meds, scratching her face, etc., that I haven’t been able to get a lot of things done and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. Right now she has been having intense spasms in her arms for about the last 6 hours. I went back to the apartments to eat dinner and take a nap because I didn’t sleep much last night, and when I came back (a little before 10:00pm) Kari was delirious. She’s been crying “help me, please God, help me, Jesus in heaven help me” for the last 3+ hours a few times every minute. In between, she’s been yelling out various phrases that don’t make any sense. Usually she just repeats whatever she heard last with “it hurts me” and some other random words. I can still get her to tell me who she is and who I am and why we’re here in Colorado, but past that, she can’t make coherent sentences. Its probably the most worried I’ve been. I know that her medications have a huge effect on her ability to process, and baclofen can make people confused, but she’s been on these drugs for a while and it’s never been this bad. One of the things that I’ve been able to hold on to for the past 12 weeks is that Kari is still the same person and we’ve been able to spend some good time together, so this is really stressing me out and trying my patience. Actually while I’ve been writing the last few sentences, Kari has been still-about 5 minutes-which is the longest all night. If you’re reading this, please pray that Kari’s muscles would relax and for a clear mind for her so she can rest.
One of the other reasons why I haven’t written this week is that I’ve been afraid of what I might write. I’ve been so angry and frustrated with God that I’ve been tempted to write some bad things, maybe to “get back at him” for not helping Kari when she cries out. When you are all by yourself in this little hospital room, your mind can race a million miles and hour and sometimes our thoughts have spiraled downward. Thank God for our friends back in Cali that listened to our frustration and prayed and talked with us the last few ways. Although we don’t have any more understanding of what is happening or how God’s holiness applies to this situation, we’ve been able to get back to a more truthful image and picture of God in our hearts and minds. If you know me well enough, you know that I like to ask lots of questions and know how everything works. I have a thirst for understanding. God has always “made sense” to me and his plan for salvation and everyday living empowerment I have always appreciated for their beauty. Not being able to understand God at this time has been the most difficult test for me spiritually. Right now the words that I lean on are just “I am.”
“I am the LORD and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45.5)
I also wanted to say a few things about the comment I made about Kari and I feeling uncomfortable about being an “inspiration.” I never meant to make the impression that I didn’t appreciate people saying that. We do get a sense of greater purpose when we hear people say that this whole thing has caused them to go deeper with their spirituality. I guess the best way to say things is that we don’t feel that different from anybody else. We don’t really have any choice but to go forward. You have to because the other choice is death. We still get angry, we still get frustrated. We have had our times of questioning God and wondering if he still cares or if he is even listening. “It just plain sucks,” Kari told a friend on the phone the other day. We aren’t really doing anything special—just trying to keep going. What else can you do? I used to wonder how I’d handle something like this, and weather I’d be able to make it through something really hard. Now I know I can’t on my own, so we just rely on God, no matter how much it doesn’t make sense. That’s all anybody could do.
“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love ceased forever? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" Selah and I say, "It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed." I will call to mind the deeds of the LORD; I will remember your wonders of old. I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is so great as our God?” (Psalm 77.7-13)
P.S. Thanks for reading this long entry. Kari has been asleep and still for an hour and a half. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.