Please Help

A fund has been set up through Paypal for Mark, Scarlet and the girls.

Go to http://www.paypal.com/. Login to your Paypal account, or just click on the send money tab. You don't have to have a Paypal account to donate.

Email account required to donate:
ourelectricpunk@gmail.com

If you have any questions or don't want to donate by Paypal, please email us at
ourelectricpunk@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for love, concern and prayers on their behalf.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fa la la la la...la la la la

I would love to post some pictures from Christmas day, but I don't have any. First off, I had strep over the Christmas weekend. And when you feel THAT bad, photos are your least important item to think of. Second, the memory card on my camera was full. This in turn became the most lackluster Christmas we've ever had.

Which is sad really. We were all so looking forward to it as we didn't get to celebrate together last year. Mark barely remembers Christmas last year, so we wanted it to be pretty special. But when you mix depression in with strep...you get a pretty unexciting event. Although the adults were lacking in Christmas enthusiasm, the girls enjoyed it thoroughly.

We were also visited by some of Santa's elves. When I opened the door and they just kept bringing in bag after bag of gifts, I was quite overwhelmed. It's amazing to me that even a year after our life changing events, people still want to help and serve if they can. It's truly humbling to be on the receiving end. Still.

Mark was pretty depressed this Holiday season as he felt worthless and unable to provide the kind of Christmas he would have liked. He did manage to get me two special gifts from his heart. I enjoyed some time off work as my mom was enjoying the last two weeks of December on the farm in Texas. Despite the sickness and depression...it was wonderful to be together to celebrate this very glorious season of our Savior's birth.

Blessings of the Week: Jesus Christ and penicillin

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha......

You know that scene in Money Pit where Tom Hanks is filling the bathtub and it falls through the floor and he stands there for a second and then starts laughing hysterically because he's had it? Well that was me, yesterday, on our way to the emergency room. Mark was a little freaked out and all I could do was laugh and look Heavenward and say to the Lord, "Really?"

Mark was up all night the night before coughing. I thought he had acid reflux, so I went out to sleep on the couch. Not even an hour later he was waking me up because he was shivering uncontrollably. He was freaking out that he was going to have a seizure. So we got in the bed and snuggled together until he warmed back up and the shivering stopped. He started snoring so I went back out to the couch. I think I was out there for two hours this time and here he came again. So we got back in the bed together and I was rubbing his neck and thinking, "He feels kind of hot." Well he WAS hot...102 degrees of hot. During his coughing fits he had said he was nauseaus and wanted a vomit bowl. He never thew up but was spitting out what he was coughing up. It was brown. I've never seen that before, my mom who worked in a doctors' office for more than 20 years had never seen that before. She said it didn't look like blood, but it definitely wasn't normal. So we dropped the girls off at church and headed to Instacare. We took a sample of the brown phlegm and when Mark showed it to them they said they couldn't take care of him and he needed to go to the hospital. So naturally, this made Mark a little nervous. I just started laughing. Not quite as hysterically as Tom Hanks, but laughing none the less. I'm sure Mark thought I was losing it. I probably was.

But this little trip to the hospital comes on the heels of a very sleep-deprived, stressful week. Remember back in October when we tried to go to the neighbors cabin and Mark had an anxiety attack and then couldn't control his muscle spasms for a few nights? That happened again this last week. Only it was worse. This time I videoed him laying in the bed and doing these full body twitches. I wanted to show the doctor exactly what we were dealing with. These twitches lasted three nights, the third night being the worst. We went to see the neurologist and all he could say was that it's because of the brain injury and it's induced by stress from his anxiety attacks. He gave us a prescription that should work to calm his body and brain down enough to be able to sleep. It worked. But we were hungover for a couple of days because we were trying to catch up on sleep. When these sorts of things happen and Mark has to spend a lot of time resting and sleeping, it does a number on his mental and emotional state. The feelings of worthlessness and depression set in.

So now you can understand why I was laughing. It's not funny at all. But at that time it seemed to be my only coping mechanism. The docs took a chest x-ray and drew blood to run tests. The x-ray didn't show anything, his white blood count was normal, but he did have some inflamation. So they loaded him up on Rocefin and saline and sent us home. They initially thought they were going to admit him, which REALLY frustrated me as I didn't want to spend another Christmas in the hospital, but after looking at all of the test results, they couldn't find a medical reason to keep him. They don't know if it's pneumonia or influenza. Most likely influenza because it just started the night before. So we're keeping a close eye on him and bathing in sanitizer.

If you haven't seen Money Pit, I highly recommend it. If for nothing more than that scene in the bathroom.

Blessing of the Week: sleep

Friday, December 2, 2011

Modern Day Miracle

I was told by one of the medical professionals helping us through all of this that the anniversary date of the injury would be a difficult and emotional day. I told him I had been preparing for a while, knowing that it would be difficult, and had been trying to find a way for us to get through it without it being TOO difficult. As I posted earlier when my mom was in the hospital, we decided that I would make a cake and deliver it to the ICU as a thank you to all of the nurses, doctors and therapists that helped save Mark's life.

Guess what....the doctor was right! But what I did notice is that for two weeks preceeding the anniversary date, I was downright ornery. I wasn't particularly emotional. I was just ornery, angry and bitter. All of the feelings came rushing back in a tornado of emotions. But as I worked on the cake, the feelings would subside. I took today off so I could finish the cake and we could deliver it to them. Here it is:


Funny story: This cake was so heavy that by the time I got inside the hospital I couldn't carry it anymore. Mark grabbed a wheelchair and I sat down with it on my lap as he wheeled me up to the ICU floor. We went during shift change hours of 5-7 so that we could catch as many people as possible. It was amazing how many of the people that worked on him were there and COMPLETELY remembered him. At first they looked at him, then looked at me, then looked back at him. They recognized me, and then realized who he was, as he looks a great deal differently than he did the last time they saw him. They kept referring to him as Rm 203. You know you're bad when even the nurses that didn't help you knew who you were because everyone talked about how bad Rm 203 was and that he wasn't expected to live. Mark made a grand speech about how grateful he is for all of their help. He told them that even though they are just doing their job, it meant the world to him and his family. They were amazed by the cake, taking pictures of it, pictures of Mark & me with the cake. Then they thanked us for coming back. They told us that they get their patients well enough to move to another part of the hospital and then never know what the outcome was. They couldn't believe that Rm 203 was walking and talking and able to express himself so adequately. They were thrilled to see that he was doing so well.

As Mark rolled me out of the ICU, I felt much joy in my heart. I wondered if it would be difficult for me to be there, to see the hallways, the room, to smell the odors, to hear the sounds. But it wasn't. I was grateful that we weren't there anymore, and we have a grand success story. I was grateful that we had an opportunity to give something back to them, even if was just our gratitude and cake. I believe it meant the world to them. And that's all we wanted out of this gesture.

I will now take the opportunity to thank all of YOU for your generosity. Without your prayers, fasting, monetary donations, sacrifices of your time, your friendship and love, your prayers...and did I mention prayers?...we would have never survived this past year. We know that the Lord performed miracles on our behalf. And He did that through all of you, and the doctors and nurses. While He was not able to reach down and stop the free agency choices of those that nearly killed Mark, He WAS and IS able to bless him beyond measure to recover and regain some level of quality of life. We have hurt and lost much. But have gained a lot in return. And most of that gain will go with us beyond the veil. We thank you, we appreciate you, and we love you.

Blessing of the Week: Miracles

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Priceless Gift






One year ago, today, I almost lost the most important person in my life. I created this blog in order to keep our friends and loved one abreast of what was happening, as a record of our lives, and an outlet for my emotions, thoughts and feelings. As friends and loved ones posted our blog information on their Facebook pages, perfect strangers to our little family came out of the woodworks to help in any way that they could. One of those people is Amanda Livingston of Livingston Photography in Nephi, Utah. Her gift did not come immediately...it came almost one year later. And we are so very grateful for it. There was a time in the long dark hours between December 1st and 2nd that I didn't know if I'd ever have another complete family picture. After the horrific year we have endured and continue to endure, we were give the priceless gift of another record of our lives in her gift of a photography session. She does a wonderful job and I recommend her to EVERYONE! Thank you Amanda. You will never know what this gift means to us. It truly is priceless.

Blessing of the Day: permanent records

Check out Amanda's work at www.alivingstonphoto.com

Friday, November 25, 2011

Traditions


(Alan, Mark, Kassi, Madison, Mallorie, JoAnna, Olivia, Court, Avery, Jake)

This picture was taken last year as we were getting our Christmas Tree. We have been cutting our tree from a lot in Alpine for the last 10 years. Our dear friends, the Taylor's, are the ones who introduced us to this great place. And inevitably, every year we run into them. We were all standing around waiting for the next available tree cutter when Kim decided she needed to snap a picture. I for one am very grateful she felt prompted to do so.



This picture was taken today. One full year apart. I could never have imagined that five days after taking the picture above, we would have been thrown into the most horrific 30 days of our lives. I could never have imagined that 365 consecutive days could carry with them so much heartache, loss, miracle, triumph, sadness, pain, devastation, faith, blessings and love. We have truly been put through the ringer since the first picture was taken.

The Taylor's are practically family. We have been together since we both got married. We have been together through vacations to San Francisco and Lake Powell, births, baptisms, birthdays, moves, deaths and now a major tragedy. I truly do not think I would have survived the last year without them. We were sad when we found out they would be in Arizona for Thanksgiving and we wouldn't be seeing them at the tree farm. That's almost as much a tradition as getting the tree the day after Thanksgiving. There are special people given to us by our Father in Heaven to help us endure this trying mortal life. I know the Taylor's are a special gift. We love them and cherish their friendship. And we really missed them this year.

Blessings of the Week: traditions

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From the Mouth's of Babes


I was cleaning up the girls' room last night and came across this. The illustrator is Madison. The person that knows right from wrong is Madison. The person that understands that when you make a choice that there are consequences, is Madison. That is evidenced in her plea to not be a "bad person". She understands that it's a CHOICE. The person that understands accountability is Madison. The person that will have the hardest time understanding and accepting that justice may not be served for her dad that she loves more than anything....is Madison. Shame on them. Shame on all of them.

Halloween!



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where, Oh Where, Are You Tonight?

I have been procrastinating this post. For one reason, I can't ever remember my camera cord so that I can upload the Halloween pictures. For the REAL reason, sometimes it's just too hard on my mental & emotional state to sit down and analyze everything.

But I feel bad that I'm not keeping everyone in the loop, so I will try to do better, regardless of how I feel.

Halloween was great. On Friday night we went to the Ward party and Madison won an award for her costume. She was a mummy. She wore white clothes and I tore a flat sheet into strips and between Grandma and me, we got them attached to her clothes. Olivia was a vampiress with full make-up (of course), and Avery was a knight. I made a 3-tier monster cake for the party. We carved pumpkins on Sunday afternoon and trick-or-treated the ENTIRE ward. Mark was pretty tired so he stayed home and handed out candy. The weather was glorious and it was one of our best Halloween's ever.

For the last two weeks Mark has battled some pretty severe depression. We've changed his meds around and decided he may need a "cocktail" in order to receive some relief from his negative thoughts. We may have finally figured out the right combination. Just wish it wasn't so expensive!

On Wednesday, the 2nd, my mom had surgery. We went to the hospital to visit her that evening. When I turned the car off in the parking lot, Mark turned to me and said that he felt weird being there. He said it reminded him of when the nurses would say his name really loud and ask him to do things. I looked at him with what must have been quite the look because he asked me why that was a big deal. I told him it was because he was in coma when they were doing that. He wanted me to say it just like they did....so I did. He just smiled and got out of the car. Holy cow!!!

As we were standing in my mom's room, he suddenly became overcome with emotion. He had a sudden realization that he received the BEST medical care available and his heart was filled with gratitude. I, for one, hate being in that hospital.

On Thursday we went to the TBI support group. A neuropsychologist was speaking about memory. It was really interesting. The whole time Mark was nodding his head and smiling as he recognized much of what the doctor was saying related directly to him. Everyone was happy to see us there again. We're looking forward to next month.

We are inching ever closer to the anniversary date. I have been unsure as to how to approach it. I have decided that I have a certain talent with cakes, so I'm going to make a medical themed cake and we're going to deliver it to the ICU on December 1st. I'm hoping that this will be a positive spin on such a negative event. We are truly grateful for all of the medical personnel that helped save Mark's life....from the ambulance EMT's, the ER docs & nurses, Dr. Gaufin (the miracle worker), Dr. Cook who put Mark's face back together, the minute-by-minute care from all of the ICU nurses, the respiratory therapist that was so patient in answering all of my questions...the list goes on and on and on. All we have to offer them is our heartfelt thanks...and cake.


I took this picture last night as we were reading scriptures together as a family. At one point Mark had a daughter on each side of him, helping him when he needed it. This fills my heart to the brim. My girls love their daddy and are always right there when he needs them. Whether it's hugging him when he's crying, warning him not to do something dangerous, reminding him to take his medicines, or helping him read. They are there for him and love him so much. We are truly blessed.

Blessing of the Week...daughters

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Power of Prayer

Things have been crazy busy. I've been busy with work and the family has been busy with multiple things, which means I've been CRAZY BUSY!

After our experience with the support group, Mark was feeling better about things. It really seemed to make a difference. I took care of another wedding and we met with vocational rehab. Mark struggles with them because it's such a slow process. He really wants to open his business back up, but I'm absolutely terrified of it. I don't know if I can deal with the stress of it again. It was overwhelming. Anyway, she gave us some tasks to do and we're going to meet back with her in a few weeks.

Since the girls were out of school on the 20th & 21st for Fall break, we decided to take advantage of it. My mom has some neighbors that own a cabin in Mt. Pleasant and they offered it to us. So we loaded up after work on Thursday evening and headed out. We got there about 8:30, just in time to get a fire built, get the girls beds put together and get them to bed. Mark had been struggling with things that week and was kind of an emotional mess. He didn't really want to talk about it because he said it was the same thing it always is....life. We're convinced that the adversary is really working him over. He vulnerable not only from the brain injury, but because of the general state of things. Our lives have completely changed and it's difficult to deal with at times. As we tried to get comfortable to go to sleep, Mark had a severe anxiety attack. He couldn't sit down, couldn't get comfortable anywhere, was pacing the floor, couldn't breathe and his heart was racing. I had taken something to help me sleep, and I was tired anyway, so I wasn't being so compassionate. But when he said the we needed to go home I realized he was in bad shape. So at 12:45 we loaded everything back in the car, gathered the girls out of their warm beds and headed home. As soon as we got on the road...Mark crashed. He was out. Needless to say I wasn't too happy about that. I don't want him to be miserable, by any means, but asleep? We hadn't even come off the mountain into town and he was GONE! Since I had a car full of sleeping people, I had to chew on a straw and on some gum to keep myself awake. We got home at 2:00 a.m. and Grandma looked at us as if we were crazy. But one of the girls had told her that Mark wasn't feeling well, so just like me, she took it in stride. Mark's had these episodes before, we just haven't ever been able to figure out what they were. On Friday he still couldn't get comfortable in his skin. His heart was still racing. When he would finally fall asleep from exhaustion, the left side of his body would twitch. So he would wake up, try to get comfortable again, and start it all over again. Friday night was a long night. Finally, Saturday night he was able to get a little sleep after about 1:00 a.m. It wasn't much. He'd had so little sleep in the last 3 nights that he was considering skipping his talk in church. But he figured it was the adversary trying to keep him from it, so he said he wasn't going to let him win and we all went to church Sunday morning.

My mom was the first to speak. Our topic was "The Power of Prayer". She did a great job setting the scene for me to talk about our lives. I've given a lot of talks in church in my life, but none have been quite like this one. I went to the pulpit armed with only my scriptures and my testimony. I do believe it was the BEST talk I've ever given. No notes. No outline. No fancy stories or quotes. Just one scripture (Mosiah 29:20) and my testimony of prayer. And a few tears. I even kept it short enough for Mark to do more than just bare his testimony. He was worried that he wouldn't be able to find the words he needed, so I went and sat behind him on the stand. I want you to know that Mark stood up there and spoke as if he had no brain injury. He bore powerful testimony, shared experiences, and only missed one word. As I sat behind him I think I witnessed a tender mercy. Those of you that know Mark well know that he has a tendency to talk ALOT! He went over, but there wasn't a dry eye in the room. It was powerful, powerful, powerful. And we're glad it's over! Although, the Stake President lives in our ward and there was a member of his presidency sitting on the stand. He came over and shook our hands and thanked us for baring such a strong witness and drawing the Spirit into the meeting. I hope we're not getting roped into a future speaking engagement. Sacrament meeting is one thing.....Stake Conference is a whole other ball game!

As Mark prepared his talk, he received some powerful revelation and inspiration from his Father in Heaven. We feel as if it was personal manna from Heaven reserved just for us. He enjoyed so much being able to stand before the congregation and share some of that. Most of it we feel is too sacred to share publicly. But what a blessing it's been to our spirits!

I fear I have run on and on. We're headed into the Halloween weekend and what fun it's going to be. We wish you and yours well and thank you for all of your love and support. We surely would not be where we are today without it.

Blessing of the Week: friends and family

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Strength In Numbers

Last week we tried out the TBI support group again. Our first experience left something to be desired, but I got an email that said the speaker was going to be a recovering TBI patient. I figured we could use a little education from the source.

The lady that was speaking suffered a brain injury from a 30 foot fall off a cliff when she was 14 years old. She's now 41. Along with hitting her head, she broke her pelvis and 5 vertebrae. The medical staff were more concerned with treating her broken bones, than dealing with a head injury. A lot of that had to do with the fact that they didn't do MRI's back then, and they still weren't as educated and knowledgeable as to the effects of severe brain injuries. She has suffered a lot in her life. She's been diagnosed as being bipolar, skitzophrenic, manic depressive, and just plain crazy. She didn't understand for a lot of those years what was happening. Recently she had an MRI and they discovered that she in fact suffered quite a brain injury from her fall and all of the things she'd been experiencing over the last 27 years were the result of this injury. They could now diagnose her correctly and get her the medications she needs. She still suffers from the effects, but she's at least moving forward in the right direction.

After she finished speaking, the floor was open for a discussion. Mark is not a social butterfly and usually doesn't like to speak in groups until he's comfortable with them. I think he understood that he has something very much in common with these people and he began to talk about his injury and all that goes along with it. He was emotional, raw and open. We were able to ask questions and get some answers as most of the people in the room had been dealing with their injuries for many years. We are relatively "new" as we're not even a year out from the initial injury. So it was very helpful to Mark to hear their experiences and gain some understanding. It was good for me to speak with the family members that are the help and support of their families. It was overall a very good experience. And we look forward to attending again. I would never wish this kind of injury on anyone....but it's comforting to know that we're not alone.

We attended the baptism of the son of some of our best friends. We almost feel as if we're a part of their family. Same family that I did the wedding cake for. It was interesting to hear some of them talk about Mark. Some hadn't seen him for a few months and they were astounded at how well he's doing. For me it's kind of like watching your children grow. Because I'm with him all the time, I don't really notice it. But if they haven't seen him for a while, they get the full picture of how quick his recovery has been. It's wonderful to hear. It's a wonderful reminder for me to stop and pay attention.

Mark saw the neurologist on Monday and has his driving privileges restored. He couldn't be happier about that. He's been driving a little hear and there. He's just legal now. Barring any other issues, we don't have to see him for six months. That's good news to me!

We visited with the new doctor yesterday. He wanted to speak to us about the upcoming "anniversary" of the injury. It's been on my mind as to how to handle it and what we should do to get through it. He wanted to prepare us for what may be a very hard time. He said it usually affects people in ways they never dreamed it would. I suspected it was going to be hard. But it's going to come whether I want it to or not. We're just going to deal with it as best we can.

He ran Mark though a quick test that he'd given him in the Spring. Though Mark still struggled a little bit, he did much better. He is improving. It's just very slow. The doctor described like this. If we wanted to go to Salt Lake, the quickest direct route would be I-15. But when there's traffic delays such as construction, weather or an accident, we can still get to Salt Lake, we just have to go up Provo Canyon to Heber and get on I-80. The end result is the same, it just takes a little longer. That's what Mark's brain is doing. He can't go up I-15 anymore. It's not there. He has to go up through Provo Canyon to Heber. The neuropathways are being reconstructed, so expect delays.

We talked about Mark being ambidextrous. Because of Mark's missing pectoral muscles, his brain has already created neuropathways on the right side of his brain that affect language and reading. They are just being awakened and put to use. I tried to compare his situation to me, and the doctor said that female brains are wired differently. Female brains bilateral and their recovery from brain injury is usually quicker and more complete. The male brain is unilateral, so it can take a little longer for the neuropathways to find their way. Hmmm....very interesting. But his missing pectoral muscles are now a blessing to him. Who would have ever thought.

I've set up an appointment with vocational rehab. We received notice that we qualify for their services. I'm hoping that Mark can find work in another field. I hope he can get training and find something that will fill a large void in his life. I hope he can regain his self confidence and purpose in life, as he helps to take care of his family. I hope he can gain some peace. I hope he can be happy again.

Blessing of the Week: experience

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Been There...Done That

Flashbacks. Have you ever had one? For some reason I've been having them a lot. It mostly happens in the evening as Mark and I are lying in the bed. His favorite thing to do is put head in my lap and have me rub his back and run my fingers through his hair. Lately as I am performing this ritual, I have focused on the concave curvature of the left side of his head. I watch as his pulse beats in the spot that has no bone to protect his brain. And I cry. I'm taken back to that ugly, dark night and the many dark days that followed. I can see his swollen head and face, the staples covering each side of head, the sweat that is pooling on his face, neck and chest, the drains that are coming out his head filled with blood and spinal fluid, the respirator keeping him alive. I can smell the "cerebral odor" that comes with brain injuries, the alcohol from the many injections he gets. I can feel the chill of the room trying to keep his body temperature down. I can hear the beep of the monitors as he pulls off his pulse oximeter and the leads come off of his chest from all of the sweat. It's as if I'm right there in the ICU again. And it's horrible. It's overwhelming. It's heartbreaking. And I cry.

Last night as I held him close to me, my heart ached for him. He's so discouraged, unhappy, depressed and lost. And there's nothing I can do for him. There's no way for me to help him. "I love you" only goes so far. He feels helpless from all that has happened to him and our family. I feel helpless that I can't do anything about it. It's been 10 months and I'm not sure we're any better off than we were 8 months ago. It's all just too much sometimes. I'm ready for the roller coaster to stop. I need to get off.

Blessing of the Week: eternal companions

Friday, September 30, 2011

Life Happens

Okay....between the pretrial preliminary, bouts of depression, this,


this,

this,

and this,

it's been a crazy couple of weeks. That being said, here goes.

The trial has been pushed out to February. Ridiculous...I know. Stupid...I know. Insensitive...I know. But there's nothing we can do. At least there's going to be a trial.

Periodically Mark will have a severe bout of depression. It's not a little moping around, sleeping a lot kind of depression. It's full blown. Crying, worry, fear, confusion, torment, despair. And it breaks my heart every time it happens. Mostly because I have nothing to offer him but my love and support. I struggle to help him work through his feelings and emotions. Mark is a thinker and when his mind isn't busy working on other things, it takes a turn for the worse. Mark wants to plan our future. Mark wants answers that I can't give him. He doesn't want to accept the Lord's timeline. He thinks he's been patient enough. Mark always comes out of these depressions pretty quickly. They just seem to be happening a little more often.

When I haven't been working, doing laundry, taking care of kids, taking care of Mark, or anything else for that matter, I've been very busy making cakes. A wedding cake for a special family that took VERY good care of me during Mark's hospital stay...and still going strong. Thank you so much for your kindness, service and love. I'm honored to give this gift back to you.

The Luigi cake was for Avery's birthday. And the cookies on a stick were her classroom treats. Anything Mario Bros will win her over. Her favorite is Luigi, but she's kind of sweet on Sonic the Hedgehog, too. But while I was baking the cake on Sunday, Auntie Paige decided to take the girls to the park in Pleasant Grove that has a fork (no Avery, they don't have a spoon), a fort. Avery was going down the monkey bars and couldn't finish them, so she dropped. When she hit the ground, she wobbled a little bit and caught herself with her hands flat on the ground. She wasn't overly concerned with pain, but as the minutes passed, she decided it hurt a little more than she was letting on. Paige rounded everyone up and headed home. Avery came in and was crying and holding her arm. But once we got the ice on it for a bit, got a little ibuprofen in her, she was ready to play again with her cousin Parker. I looked at it a little further and it was pretty swollen, but I thought we'd see how it looked in the morning. When I checked it before I went to work the next day, she kept telling me it didn't hurt and she was okay. But it was still swollen and I watched her going about her morning ritual and not using it. So when I got to work I made her an appointment to see the doc and took her in at 4:00. Sure enough...both bones were broken. Fortunately, nothing had shifted so it didn't need to be set. She got the splint on Monday and the cast on Thursday after the swelling had gone down a little. She was a champion the entire time. She would get a little teary-eyed but never really cried too much about it. She is one tough cookie!

Now, we're trying to settle down from a whirlwind couple of weeks to watch the LDS General Conference this weekend. It's such a great thing to renew your spirit with counsel from the Lord's elect. I am so thankful for my testimony of Jesus Christ and His plan for me. I don't think I would have ever survived these dark months and days without His loving, encircling arms around me.

Blessing of the Week: testimony

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baby Steps

We've had a milestone in the Davis Family this past week.

Mark was going crazy with nothing to do to occupy his time and energy. So when his brother Alan called and asked if he wanted to go on a trip to Texas and back, Mark jumped at the opportunity. Alan is a truck driver.

Mark's been invited in the past, but it just hasn't worked out with his therapies and such. And of course, we've been a little skeptical about being separated since the seizure. Okay...more than a little skeptical. More like A LOT freaked out about it. But after much contemplation, worry and what-if scenario's, we decided it would be okay for him to go. There was a checking and re-checking of his bag to make sure he got all of his meds. There was a checking to make sure he got his phone charger. There was a checking to make sure I had some Valium on hand in case I had a nervous break down. Okay...not really. But I did consider it. I was actually still at work when he left, so we had to do our goodbye over the phone. I felt like I was giving away my first born. It was difficult, to say the least.

He left at about 5 p.m. I knew I was going to worry about him being able to get enough sleep. He doesn't have the best sleeping habits when he's home in his own bed, much less in the sleeper of a semi rolling down the highway. Since sleep deprivation is a huge seizure trigger, this was my biggest concern. At 9:00 he called and said he was tired and going to bed. So instead of laying awake all night worrying about whether or not he was sleeping, I took something to knock me out, slept hard, and paced the next morning until I got the call that he was okay and slept great. Whew!

After that, I was pretty much okay. I did think about him ALL day for the next couple of days, but that's not really any different than any other day. The girls kept asking when Daddy was going to be home. Madison asked me if he took his seizure medicine with him. They love him so much. It was really good to see him last night when I finally got home from work. He was crashed in the bed, but I went in and hugged and kissed him anyway.

This morning when we got up, Mark was kind of emotional. He was reflecting on his blessings and how truly lucky he is to have a wonderful family. He missed us greatly and said he doesn't ever want to be gone that long again. I'm sure he'll change his mind in the next few weeks...especially the next time he's really bored or the girls are really noisy. But it's nice to see that he appreciates the love he has in his life. And it's nice to know that we can handle these "firsts". Baby steps....baby steps....

Blessing of the Week: peanut patties

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thank You For Playing...Please Try Again

Well....we didn't get the little house. Mark was pretty disappointed. But I just told him that Heavenly Father must have something better planned for us. It was pretty small, anyway. Don't really know how we would have made it work. But you know that old saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Our time will come. Just wish we knew when.

We've been going over our bleak financial situation. It's kind of discouraging, considering where we were 5 years ago. Between the economy and this injury, we've really taken quite the hit. But you know what? I really don't care. It really bothers Mark a lot more than it bothers me. I understand why....he's the provider and he can't provide. But I try to look at this mess as a simpler way to live. When you don't have anything, it makes your finances really simple.

The house phone rang this morning at 7:30 and my mom was at Lee's getting Parker ready for school. I answered it because it was a Texas area code. This lady starts talking to me like I'm my mom. I figured out who she was just by the way she was talking to me. When I told her it was me, she laughed and said I sound just like my mom. She was my mom's best childhood friend. She had called to say that she was reading an article in the paper about the best fried chicken, and she thought of a time when she went to my grandma's house with my mom and my grandma had killed a chicken and was frying it up. She said it was the BEST fried chicken she'd ever eaten. And she wanted to share that thought with my mom. After she related that, she asked me how Mark was doing. I gave her the usual, "He's doing pretty good. Wishes he could go to work. Still struggles with his words and lack of energy." Then she told me that she's on the prayer council at her local church and that Mark's name has been on the prayer list ever since she found out about it. She said, "There are a lot of people in Saledo, Texas, praying for your precious husband." I truly get overwhelmed when people tell me these things. I'm always amazed at people's thoughtfulness and generosity. Perfect strangers that reach out and offer what they can to help bless our lives. I'm sure that's why Mark is doing as well as he is. There have been SO many prayers offered on his behalf. If there's one thing in this life that I have a profound testimony of....it's the power of prayer.

Blessing of the Week: humble offerings

Friday, September 2, 2011

Diamonds May Be Precious...But Daughter's are Priceless

We now have all 3 girls in school. Avery thinks it's the best thing since Luigi. (notice her Mario Kart backpack...a boy in her class was awed by it)


It doesn't get any yummier than this. The best thing in this world is that my girls love each other. You can't ask for more than that as a parent.


We've just been busy living life this last week or so. We've been looking for a house to rent and may have found one. They had a lot of interest, so they're going to pick an applicant sometime next week. We're crossing our fingers it's us. I'm still not so sure it's time. I want to be on our own, but wonder if he can live up to his side of things. For instance, can he get the girls going everyday, get them to school on time, manage some of the household duties, get himself to his therapies, and be alone. Some mornings he bounces out of bed and does great. Then there are mornings like today where he tells me he needs more time to sleep. So I get them started and grandma finishes so that I can get to work. He also struggles with time management. Most of the time he doesn't even know what time it is. The girls would walk to grandma's house after school, but he really struggles with schedules. And since he can't drive until October 10th, we'd need some extra help until then. I just don't know. Definitely needs to be a matter of prayer.

Spoke to the Crime Victim's Advocate yesterday and she informed there is a pretrial preliminary hearing on September 21st. This hearing is standard in that things can sometimes change that may affect whether or not the trial happens on the days they have scheduled. While I've informed everyone that the trial is on October 3rd, 4th and 6th, that may change. Won't know until the 21st. So all who are interested, keep that in mind.

On the day that we went to look at the rental home, Mark said that he hadn't had anything to eat all day. He'd been laying in the bedroom watching T.V. and hadn't really thought about food. He noticed his hunger when he got up and moving around. I was trying to talk to him about houses to rent and he just stared at me and told me he didn't understand a thing I was saying. I would ask him simple questions, like what he'd been doing that day and where did he want to eat. He would just look at me, shake his head and say he didn't understand. I stopped talking to him as we went and got him a hamburger. He only had time to eat about half of it before we met with the landlord. But with only those few calories in his bloodstream, he did a complete 180. He was able to carry on a conversation and understand what was going on. I've now started sending him texts during the day to remind him to eat. Can you imagine....having to be reminded to eat? It's no wonder he only weighs 180 pounds fully clothed. Interestingly though, every night he eats a pint of ice cream and several Creamies. But still no weight gain. The human brain uses 1/3 of all the calories you consume. I guess it's really working overtime to heal and make new neuropathways to replace those that were severed, and burning through any and all calories he consumes.

Blessing of the Week: independence

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School

We've been relatively busy, but not with much excitement as far as Mark is concerned.

He has been driving me to work on finding us a house to rent. I've been looking, but so far have had no luck. I'm pretty sure I don't want to move until he at least has his driving privileges back. And my mom read him the riot act about being able to get the girls up and out the door for school on a consistent basis. He needs to work on that, as he has a really hard time getting going some mornings. I'm checking in with the neurologist about a medication that helps stimulate the brain in the morning to get moving a little earlier. So for now I'll just keep looking and he can practice his "Mister Mom" duties.

We got 2 out of the 3 girls off to school this week. Avery can hardly stand not going to school this week. She's bored, for one, misses her sisters, and really feels left out. I'm sad my baby is starting kindergarten. I tell her everyday that she wasn't supposed to get any older than two. She just laughs and tells me she loves me the mostest. Further evidence that I am truly blessed.





I've been giving Mark Flax Seed Oil capsules to take every morning and night. They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids that are VERY good for the brain. He said that if he takes them consistently he really thinks they make a difference. And they're cheaper than salmon.

We're going back for more cognitive therapy. He'll be working on this for some time. He's been enjoying his speech therapy because they've geared it towards the electrical industry. He loves coming home and telling me how much stuff he remembered and how some things were difficult. It energizes him to work hard. I don't think he'll be able to handle running another business, but if he could at least get back to work it would be a tremendous boost to his self esteem and worth. He's been told from the beginning that he needs to be patient because healing of the brain is a LONG process, but patience is NOT something Mark Davis possesses. Another thing he needs to work on.

Blessing of the Week: return to schedules

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Here Fishy...Fishy

Oh my goodness....no, we haven't been taken from the planet. But seriously, I either have time to post 3 times a week, or every other week. Thus is my crazy life.

So much to report on. Let me begin with Sunday, August 7th. Mark has never really been a good sleeper. So much so that he has anxiety about it and stresses about it ALL DAY. On Saturday night he didn't sleep well and was anxious all day on Sunday about not being able to fall asleep. So, he decided to take an Ambien. Now, I must preface this with a little history. There is a warning in the Ambien literature that states some people have a tendency to walk around, eat, and even try to drive, all while being in a drunken state, and then not remember anything about it the next day. We have experienced these happenings a time or two (Mark ran into the door a few years ago and wondered why his face was sore the next morning), but it's been so long since he's taken it that he wanted to give it another try. He took a half of the tablet and didn't feel anything. So an hour later he took the other half. And the games began. I couldn't get him to stay in the bed. He was stumbling around like he was drunk. And because of the head injury, I couldn't just let him do what he wanted. I had to stay with him at all times to prevent a fall and possible increased head injury. He would get really sleepy and try to lay down, but the left side of his body would constrict and wake him up. When I tell you that we were up ALL night, I mean ALL night. We didn't get ANY sleep. He ate 3 pints of Hagen Daaz, 7 popsicles, a plate of melted cheese, half a bag of Muncho's chips and half a bowl of Frosted Flakes. A lot of the ice cream melted and spilled into the bed, one of the popsicles melted onto his shirt, and I had to keep him from spilling his cereal all over because he wanted to walk around while he ate it. At one point he was in the living room opening and closing the drapes and he tried to go down the back stairs off the deck and nearly crashed through the sliding glass door. Needless to say...I was pooped from running that marathon. And his last seizure was partly caused from sleep deprivation, so I was a nervous wreck all night that at any moment he was going to start seizing. It was awful. And he doesn't remember ANY of it.

Whew...okay. Now onto Monday. When he finally "woke up" at 6:00, he wanted to go to Maverick to get a soda. We jumped in the car and went over in our pajamas. I didn't even care. I was still walking around with him because he still wasn't too sure on his feet. Then he started complaining that his back was killing him. So much so that he couldn't sit still. I thought it was because of the pain, but then I started to really watch him. He was somewhat okay while he was walking around, but the moment he sat down his whole body would twitch. And not just a little twitch....a full body spasm. We had to wait until Costco opened to get his pain prescription. Once the pain started to subside, he calmed down a little and was acting more like himself. At first I wondered if he was having withdrawal symptoms, but it had been over a week that he had been out of pain meds and he only takes one if he's absolutely dying. They have to dissolve under your tongue and evidently they are disgusting, so he only takes them if he has to. Anyway, I think that because his pain had subsided and the Ambien was out of his system, he could relax enough to go to sleep. I was worried about the spasms, so I made an appointment to see the Neurologist later that day. We both took a nap until it was time to go. The neurologist didn't seem too overly concerned. He said it could be pre-manifestation of seizure activity. Mark was on the lowest dose of anti-seizure meds, so he upped his dose and told me to watch him to see if there were any changes. He prescribed a muscle relaxer so that if he was having the muscle constrictions at night, he could take one and relax enough to get some sleep. We will NEVER take Ambien again.

So, things quieted down from there. He was working in the yard that evening while I was staring into space. I wonder if he was actually "sleeping" during some of that wandering around. I know I didn't get any sleep. It was awful and I don't EVER want to do it again. But I will say that it took him a few days to recover. He was really tired the next few days and didn't do much of anything. Almost to the point that we were going to cancel our camping trip. But I had taken 3 days off and wanted to get in a long pre-school "vacation" with our girls. So we did.








It was one of our best trips. The girls were kind of bored so we went to Ephraim to Walmart and bought some fishing gear. We took the girls to the lake and over the next 2 days they caught 5 fish. The only reason we didn't get more is because on Sunday a thunderstorm started rolling in. Mark went back to camp to get our jackets and came back with the little pop-up tent and some dry clothes. By the time he got the tent set up, the storm was upon us. After we piled inside with all of our gear, the hail started. It was LOUD! Madison and Avery were loving it....Olivia not so much. She sat in my lap and cried until it stopped. By then everything was wet, we were cold and it was time to go home. We had experienced a few "technical" problems with the trailer and truck this trip. Mark had fixed a water leak on the trailer and it succombed to the pressure. If we turned the water pump on, water would spray underneath the tub. The generators were running to charge the batteries and run the TV so the girls could watch a movie during the rain storm. But the batteries weren't charging. So Mark went out and investigated and found that the plug head on the trailer cord had melted. So he cut it off and hard wired it to the generator. Voila...the batteries were charging. Then, we tried to open the tailgate on the truck and the handle would go all the way up, but the gate wouldn't come down. So he took the handle apart and realized that one of the latches had come undone. He put it back together and ta da...the tailgate worked. It was at this point that we decided it might be time to pack up and go home before something SERIOUS broke and we couldn't fix it. I must say that I LOVE being married to a handy man. I swear this man can fix almost anything. And I am amazed now to watch him do a lot of the things he used to do. The human brain is truly a work of God.

Blessing of the Week: my eternal family

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sundance

We took the girls to Sundance tonight to see The Sound of Music at the outdoor theater. There isn't a more beautiful venue to enjoy the theater. It's carved out of the mountain with seats made from logs. It's a professional setup, with all the lights, sound and a stage. It's just a spectacular setting in the mountains amongst the pine trees and wildflowers. It's tradition for us now. We go every summer as a treat for my birthday. It was the girls' first visit. They loved it.

While we were waiting for the show to start the girls and I headed down for a potty break. As I was waiting for them, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, walked right by me. When I was telling Mark about it he was pretty excited. I wanted so badly to shake the hand of an Apostle of Jesus Christ. During intermission Mark made me go down to where he was sitting. I stood about three feet from him, watching him interact with his family. I decided it was better to admire him from afar. I didn't want to disturb the outing he was enjoying with his family. But it was pretty cool! That's the closest I've ever been to an Apostle of the Lord.

Mark doesn't eat very regularly. When we were at the neurologist's office on Tuesday, Mark stepped up on the scale, fully dressed with belt, shoes and really thick heavy jeans. A meager 179 pounds. I just about died. He's really skinny. Anyway, he's not really good about eating. So when we got up to Sundance he was complaining that he was feeling kind of weird. And now that we have the seizure issue to contend with, he gets a little nervous when he feels anything different than normal. I told him he probably needed to eat. Once he got a BLT in his stomach he was feeling much better. Don't know if this man will ever listen to his wife of 18 years. I'm hoping he'll remember that experience and try a little harder to remember to eat. I don't seem to have that problem. Wish I did.

Blessing of the Day: Apostles of God

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Post Traumatic Brain Injury Seizures

In an effort to educate myself on the new trauma in our lives (seizures) I decided to do a little research. Something interesting for your gee-whiz collection.

Approximately 5-10% of individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience new- onset seizures. The risk of seizure increases with increasing injury severity, depressed skull fracture, intracranial hematoma, and penetrating trauma (Mark has all of these). The risk is greatest in the first two years after injury and gradually declines thereafter. All types of seizures may occur as a result of trauma, but the most frequent are focal or partial complex seizures. Generalized complex seizures (what are commonly called "grand mal' seizures) occur in approximately 33% of cases. (Mark's was a grand mal)

Immediate onset seizures, those that occur immediately or in the first few hours after a brain injury, do not suggest a chronic seizure disorder. Early onset seizures and those which develop within the first 7-8 days after trauma require prophylaxis for up to one year. Spontaneous resolution of seizure activity has been noted in this group. The highest risk group for persisting seizures are those individuals who experience seizure 7-8 days or longer following injury. Current recommendations for seizure prophylaxis suggest that patients who have not suffered a seizure within the first 7-8 days following a closed head injury, probably do not require prophylaxis. (Which is why Mark wasn't prescribed medication until he had an actual seizure)

Penetrating trauma is another issue entirely, particularly if involving the temporal or frontal lobes. (Mark has substantial temporal lobe damage) The guidelines with respect to early onset seizures and medications do not apply in this group. Current thinking is that prophylaxis with anti-convulsant medication is not necessary if seizures have not occurred. It should be kept in mind that most seizures do not result in increased brain injury and status epilepticus is a rare event. The protection afforded by medication must always be balanced with the effects on cognition and other side effects, such as bone marrow depression, liver toxicity, or diminished motor coordination.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Worry Warts

The last time I said it had been a quiet week Mark had a seizure. So this week I'll just talk about all the stuff we have on the calendar and maybe we can avoid catastrophe.

Mark has been VERY busy in my mom's yard. The yard needs it, but Mark needs it more. It's the only way he can keep his sanity. And things are really starting to shape up nicely. He's doing a very good job. He does overdo it a little. He works until dark every night. He's not very fast, but he's putting in lots of hours. He says he's not really working "hard", just for a long time. And since the seizure we've all been a little paranoid that he'll trigger another one. Especially Madison. She is constantly worrying about her dad. She asks him if he's taken his medicine. She checks on him frequently so she knows where he is. She asks him to take breaks while he's working so that he doesn't overdo it. It is precious to see how much she loves and cares about her daddy. But it makes me all the more angry that she has to. A 10-year-old shouldn't be burdened with such a heavy load.

Mark and I are paranoid, as well. I worry about him going anywhere alone. What if he has another seizure and I'm not there to help him? What if he has another seizure and he falls and hits his head? What if he has another seizure and I don't call 911 and he stops breathing? What if...what if...what if...

We saw the neurologist today. He didn't seem overly concerned about Mark's seizure. He said that the temporal lobe is "seizure central", and with the amount of damage Mark sustained to his temporal lobe, seizures are very likely. We already knew that, so I guess the fact that he's only had two, we're counting our blessings. We did find out that he only has to be seizure free for 3 months (not 6) to get his driving priviledges back, and we're almost done with one. That made Mark very happy. We're doing okay working around it, but it's more frustrating for him than anyone. It's difficult for a very independent, self-sufficient person to have to rely on others. But he's muddling through pretty well.

He has been suffering with depression recently. It's kind of like a roller coaster. Some days he's happy and working well, others he's really down, crying a lot, and wondering where God is and why He's not blessing us. We've had a lot of talks about the nature of God and what He can and can't do. I try to empathize with him, but truly I have no idea how he feels about all of this. I know how I feel, but I can only guess at how he feels and try to help him in any way that I can. I would give anything to take this burden from him. I love him so much that sometimes my heart hurts it's so full. And sometimes I don't have any other answer than, "I love you and we'll get through this somehow."

Blessing of the Day: good medicine

Monday, July 25, 2011

Get Away

We had a fantastic camping trip. It was too short as we were all loaded up on Friday night ready to pull out and Mark couldn't find the keys to the trailer. He was the last one to have them. We ended up taking out a window, Madison crawled inside and could only unlock one of the locks. Mark crawled inside and had to take the door handle off. By this time it was 10:00 and we called it a night. On Saturday morning we went to the RV store, installed a new door handle, and off we went. Since Mark had the seizure, he was instructed not to drive until we can see the neurologist. So I had to pull the trailer for the first time. I was nervous, but competent. Still haven't found the keys.

Normally Mark is the one to load the 4-wheeler onto the back of the truck. But I had to step in this time and do the boy job. It freaked me out. I don't like that. He did, however, unload it. And he even took the girls for a couple of short rides. I was a nervous wreck the whole time he was gone. But he took his time, was very careful and all arrived back safely. Overall we had a great weekend.

Mark's really been struggling with our life changes. As much as I try to empathize with what it must be like to be him, there is no way I can understand. And it's not just his deficits from the injury. It's the last 3 years of our lives. We were prayerful and did what we thought the Lord wanted us to do, yet we've lost everything. And because of the injury, we have no way to really pull out of it. Extremely frustrating on a temporal, as well as spiritual, side. In talking to my mom about it she said something that I've never really thought about before. She said that sometimes understanding doesn't come in this life. That's part of the test.

Mark asks me at least once a day, sometimes more, if we're ever going to get our lives back. I tell him the same thing everytime...we WILL get our lives back, but it's going to take a while. We worked 18 years together to get where we were. I hope it doesn't take another 18 to get back.

Blessing of the Day: hope

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Checking In

I have been working 12 hour days for 2 weeks, so I've been a little out of commission. Thought I'd better at least check-in.

Things have been relatively quiet since the seizure. Mark went through a terrible bout of depression and anxiety. I was told I have post traumatic stress disorder lying just below the surface, waiting for an opportunity to rear it's ugly head. I'm trying to get into some counseling. I think it would do us both some good.

Mark's driving priveledges were taken from him because of the seizure. That is terribly discouraging and debilitating. He hates having to ask someone to take him places. I'm not there all day. He's been trying to stay busy working in the yard. I'm scared to death he's going to overdo it and have another seizure. It all just sucks.

But we're going camping again this weekend. So here's to some much deserved family and relaxation time.

Blessing of the Day: sleep

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Love

I love this man so much that I would willingly give up my life to ease the fear and hurt in his heart. Things have changed drastically since Tuesday nights seizure. We may never be the same. Please, please continue to pray for us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Have Become...Comfortably Numb

It's been a traumatizing couple of days. I don't know if I jinxed us because of my post about things being quiet, or if Mark needed a wake-up call that he's nowhere near ready to go back to work. Either way, it was horrible.

Last night I was folding laundry in the bedroom and complaining to Paige that I seem to be the only person in my family that notices the mountains of laundry. Mark was in the kitchen and I thought I heard him fall. At that exact moment of thought, Madison came running in and said that Daddy was crying. I went out to the kitchen to check on him and he was laying on the floor, hands and arms curled in towards his body, eyes rolled back into his head, his head banging against the floor as he convulsed. I screamed as I ran for the phone to call 911. My mom took over the call with 911 as I slid my legs underneath Mark to keep him from banging his head on the floor. Paige had gathered the girls into the bedroom to try and keep them calm. She thought Mark had died because there was no color in his face and mom and I were trying to figure out if he was breathing. Paige had gone outside to get Tye and he came in and gave Mark a priesthood blessing as he lay there convulsing. Mark's breathing was very ragged as he sucked air in though his nose and out his clenched teeth. There was saliva and blood blowing out of his mouth as he had bitten his tongue. After the blessing, Mark started to calm down and relax his extremeties. We had to keep him on his side so that in case he vomited, he wouldn't aspirate into his lungs. We laid his head on a pillow and let the EMT's come in and take over. They were taking his vitals and his blood pressure was extremely low. Mark opened his eyes and sat up. He was looking around at everyone, not really knowing what was going on. I tried to get him to look at me so he wouldn't be frightened, but he didn't really see me. He looked through me. The EMT's got him on the backboard, out into the ambulance, and then took him to the hospital. I followed them in my car.

When I got to the hospital they were just bringing him into the ER. Mark was fully awake and aware of what was going on. He was hysterically sobbing and repeating, "I don't want to die! I don't want to die!" In the car on my way to the hospital, I was very emotional as I plead with my Father in Heaven to bless Mark and help us get through this situation. I had called Kim and Alan and asked if they could come down. But when I saw Mark laying on that gurney, terrified and pleading that he wouldn't die, my emotions flipped a switch and I became the strong one. I got right into his face so that he could see and hear me, and got him to focus on me. He recognized me right away and kept sobbing and pleading. He said over and over again, "I'm so scared. I'm terrified I'm going to die. Please don't let me die." Sometimes he was sobbing so hysterically that I couldn't understand him. After a dose of Adavan and some comfort from me, he was able to calm down. He didn't know what had happened, he couldn't remember that he'd been assaulted and spent a month in the hospital. It was truly the most terrifying experience of his life.

Madison had seen him convulsing on the floor, heard me screaming to call 911, and evidently I had pushed her out of the way as I ran for the phone. She was the most upset and before I left for the hospital she said, "Why does this have to happen to my Daddy?" I hugged her tight, told her Tye had given Daddy a blessing and that she should say a prayer for him. After Mark was calmed down, he asked about the girls and I told him Madison was pretty upset. He called her right then and I know it was what she needed. He was able to talk to her and tell her he loved her and that he was going to be okay.

We stayed at the hospital until 12:30 so they could monitor him and we could have the frank discussion of starting him on anti-seizure medication. This means that he won't be able to drive until he's had a 6 month stint with no seizures. We scheduled an appointment to see a neurologist and they let us go. I got him home and put to bed, even though he said he was afraid to go to sleep because he didn't want it to happen again.

We had an appointment with the new doctor already scheduled for today, so we went. As he is an expert on the brain, Mark wanted to get some answers. He described a seizure as an electrical storm passing through the brain. There's nothing you can do but make the person comfortable to keep them from injuring themselves, and let it pass. I described the seizure to him and he said it was a Grand Mal seizure. I found the following information about them.


Grand mal seizures have two stages.

Tonic phase.
Loss of consciousness occurs, and the muscles suddenly contract and cause the person to fall down. This phase tends to last about 10 to 20 seconds.

Clonic phase.
The muscles go into rhythmic contractions, alternately flexing and relaxing. Convulsions usually last for less than two minutes.

The following signs and symptoms occur in some but not all people with grand mal seizures.

Aura. Some people experience a warning feeling (aura) before a grand mal seizure. This warning varies from person to person, but may include feeling a sense of unexplained dread, a strange smell or a feeling of numbness.

A scream. Some people may cry out at the beginning of a seizure because the muscles around the vocal cords seize, forcing air out.

Loss of bowel and bladder control. This may happen during or following a seizure.

Unresponsiveness after convulsions. Unconsciousness may persist for several minutes after the convulsion has ended.

Confusion. A period of disorientation often follows a grand mal seizure. This is referred to as postictal confusion.

Fatigue. Sleepiness is common after a grand mal seizure.

Severe headache. Headaches are common but not universal after grand mal seizures.

I consider it a blessing that Mark only experienced 3 of these symptoms.

The Aura: he said he remembered standing in front of the pantry and then the food started to go up as if floating in the air. He said he felt strange and then remembered waking up in the ambulance. I believe he was falling to the floor when he described the food as floating.

Confusion: he couldn't remember the assault.

Fatigue: he was exhausted immediately after and all through today.

We were told that being on medication didn't mean that he wouldn't continue to have seizures. They have particular triggers that can set them off. Some of them are hunger, sleep deprivation, fatigue, light sensitivity, etc. Mark hadn't gotten much sleep the two nights before, I don't know when he had eaten last, and he had been working hard all day on several things, just having mowed the front lawn and half of the back. In assessing Mark's situation, he's only had 2 seizures, both with definite triggers. They are common among brain injured patients, so it's not a shock to anyone that he's had them. But they have been few. We're hoping that they can be controlled by the medication and we can continue on with as normal a life as possible.

I worry about my husband every minute of every day. I'm trying very hard to not let his disabilities debilitate us and keep us from living. If seizures are going to be a part of our lives, I guess I need to get some thicker skin, educate my girls and pray that we can keep them at bay. I do know that I don't ever want to witness that again. As terrified as Mark was, I don't know if he was as afraid as I was. It's a horrific thing to watch. And as more and more things such as this infiltrate our lives, the thicker my skin gets. The harder I get. The only way I can continue to go on after so much pain, fear and sorrow is to become numb. I have become...comfortably numb.

Blessing of the Day: priesthood blessings

Monday, July 11, 2011

Incognito

I apologize, again, that I've been a little sporadic with my posting. I seem to be a little grumpy about things, and I've also been working a lot. It's been a relatively quiet week. We have several things coming up this week that will be "postable", so you'll probably see me a little more.

Mark's been busy working at my mom's house. He's been fixing the sprinklers (splinkers as he calls them), he hung a new microwave/hood, and had to put up a temporary fence yesterday after the wind blew down the other one. It's so good for him to be busy. Both physically and mentally. Mark doesn't do well when he has time to sit and think.

He's been contemplating his family dynamics as of late. He's recognizing some very disturbing things. Attitudes that were always there, but weren't brought to his attention until such devastating actions forced them out of hiding. See, Mark has always been the peacemaker in his family. He has always seen the good in people. He's always the one willing to give others the benefit of the doubt and a second chance. It's difficult for him to cut ties with those who are showing their true colors, because he has a generous heart and wants to "fix" what's wrong. Which is why we go so well together. I have no problem cutting ties with those who give lip service. You know the old adage "Actions speak louder than words." Well their actions are SCREAMING! And it's time to accept them for what they are and move on without them. This late in the game it's not going to make a difference. He's starting to realize that you can't help people who don't want to change themselves. It's really sad. Because he loves them.

Blessing of the Day: little girls

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Discovery

I wish I had a photo to post from our AWESOME camping trip, but Murphy's Law claimed the battery on my camera.

It was a rough start to get out of here on Friday, but we finally left around 5:00. It took us forever to get there because we had to make a few stops along the way to gather things we had inadvertently forgotten. The first trip out is always the roughest as we forget at least 50% of the things we need. You would think after all these years that we could get it together, but we can't. We were worried that because we left so late that we wouldn't get a good spot. We have certain "spots" we always go to, and low and behold, ours was still available. I think because of all of the late spring snow and rain that people were leery of heading up those roads. But not Mark! They actually weren't bad. We had the usual mud holes to go through, but they were pretty easy to get through. It was such a great trip. It was quiet, peaceful and stress free. For just a few days we were able to escape from the world and all the ugliness it has held for us as of late. We didn't want to come home.

On our way in we almost hit a deer, and from then on we were counting all of the wildlife we saw. We ended up seeing 54 deer, 1 elk and 2 russet colored cranes. At least I think they were cranes. We even saw a doe and her twins. We adopted a chipmunk we named Charlie, and we fed him bread and graham crackers. The mosquito's were too numerous to name.

We sat around the campfire, built mud pie volcanoes down by the creek, went on hikes, counted deer, slapped mosquitoes, slept past 8:00, and laughed together as a family. It was a much needed break and felt really good to do something normal. Something we did before our lives fell apart. Something we will continue to do, as a family, for the rest of our lives. It felt really, really good. We're counting down the days until our next trip.

I did discover something, though. The girls were in the camper watching cartoons and Mark and I decided to go for a walk. We were talking about "things" and I had a breakdown. It's all still so raw for me. I think that I've been so busy handling everything, doing everything, that I haven't dealt with any of the emotions. I've crammed them into a jar labeled "December 1" and stuck them on a shelf. I think I probably need to get some counseling...by myself. I can talk to Mark about anything in the world, but I need this for ME. Talking to him used to be so easy and comfortable. It's just not the same. I think I need "professional" help. But I'm not sure I'm ready to start dealing with it. I feel like if I do, I somehow give away the accountability of the guilty parties. I don't know if that makes sense to all of you, but it's why I hang on to the anger. But Mark did say something to me that was profound. And I will try to heed his counsel and move on. For me. For Mark. For our family. For our future.

Blessing of the Day: helpmeets

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tender Mercies

1 Nephi 1:20
...But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

Mark came to my office today to talk to me about how he's upset with his Father in Heaven for abandoning us. Mark is frustrated that everything has to be so hard. We were doing well with our business 4 years ago. We were able to meet our needs and even enjoy some extras, such as a camper, motorcycle, 4-wheeler, etc. I had quit my job, had our little Avery, and we were happy and busy with work. Then everything seemed to just fall apart. We moved to Salem and the trials became overwhelming. Then he was assaulted and we spiraled downward to where we are today. We had it all....now we have nothing. And since I've been in my own melancholy mood, I wasn't able to give him the peptalk he needed. So he left me at work to try and finish getting ready to go camping.

Shortly thereafter the phone rang. It was the Social Security Administration. Mark's disability was approved. We were told by EVERYONE that he'd get denied the first round and we'd probably end up hiring an attorney, who would then take most of the backpay. But we didn't have to hire an attorney and lose all of that money. Tender mercies.

Blessing of the Day: tender mercies

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Have Overcome The World

Not a whole lot has been happening here with the Davis family.

But we are getting ready to go camping this weekend. It'll be our inaugural trip that breaks in the camper and the campers. The first trip is always an interesting one, as we inadvertantly forget a lot of things. I haven't had a chance to go through the girls clothes, so I'm sure they'll all be wearing floods and half-shirts. We'll be looking like the Clampett's, for sure. I must admit I'm a little nervous. Mark has hooked up and pulled the trailer just fine....on paved roads through town. It'll be interesting to see how things go. We're going alone so I'm going to try and camp somewhat close to some other people just in case I need them for something. Mark wants to rent a side-by-side, but I just want to get out of Dodge and relax. We'll take Madison's motorcycle and the kids can motor around camp and Mom and Dad can just sit enjoy a few days of nothing but our cute little family. We're going to Fairview, so if you haven't seen a post by Wednesday of next week, come looking for us!

I got to have lunch with two of my great friends today. These two ladies were by my side during much of Mark's hospital stay. And when they weren't there, they were calling me, texting me, and making sure, at the very least, that I had something to eat. I told them that through this nightmare I have come to recognize who is "real" to us, and who's not. Those who really care and those who are only surface friends...or family for that matter. I am truly grateful for these ladies and their help. I wouldn't have survived without them.

I've been feeling a little overwhelmed by everything, lately. Worried about everything I have no control over. I'm always amazed at how in-tune Mark is with my feelings. I am so grateful that's not one of the things he lost. He has such a gift when it comes to counseling others. Any of you who have been on the receiving end of one of his "come to Jesus" talks know exactly what I'm talking about. After a good long talk with many tears shed on my part, I went to bed feeling a TINY bit better. This morning I got up to eat some breakfast and sat down with the July issue of the Ensign. One of the articles listed on the front cover is "Choosing Happiness". Hmmmm....see where I'm going with this? I opened it up and engrossed myself in some very inspiring words. Mostly in the scripture of John 16:33. I am always in awe of the power of the Lord in my life. It's as if He inspired the publication of this article just for me. I encourage each of you to read it, if for nothing else than to draw you closer to Him.

John 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Blessing of the Day: Jesus Christ

Sunday, June 26, 2011

He Walks With Me and He Talks With Me

Mark had his Vocational Rehab orientation last week. He was concerned that it was going to be a waste of his time. The orientation video was a little cheesy, but ultimately the program should be a blessing to him.

He was looking around at the people in the room before it started, and was wondering if it was like the Dept. of Workforce Services, where people go when they need help to find a job. After the video he realized it was for people who had a disability and needed more than just a little help. He looked at me and said, "This place is for people with disabilities. Scarlet, I don't have a disability." I told him he DOES have a disability because he was assaulted and suffered some major brain damage. He was quiet for a minute and then said, "Am I mentally retarded?" My heart broke into a million tiny little pieces.

We don't actually get to see a vocational counselor until July. They will do an assessment of Mark's abilities, combine it with the testing he's done with this new doctor, and then determine what is available to Mark in terms of being able to work. He's excited at the prospect of being able to do something other than be an electrician, but nervous about what it will take for him to learn a new skill and whether or not he'll enjoy whatever new line of work is presented to him. He's even thinking that he might want to go to school. College school. I know he's far from being able to handle something like that, but if he eventually wants to get a degree, I'm all for it and will help him achieve that worthy goal. I worry so much about him trying something, failing, and becoming so discouraged he doesn't want to try anymore.

When Mark was in the ICU he had difficulty moving the left side of his body. The epidural bleed he had on the right side of his head was massive and put quite a bit of pressure on his brain. He's able to use his left side just fine, his left leg just gets stiff and uncooperative sometimes. He told me yesterday that sometimes he feels upset that it doesn't work like it used to. But then he said that when he starts to think like that he remembers that he almost died, that the doctors didn't know if he would even be able to walk at all, and then becomes grateful that he's alive, able to walk and talk, and able to spend the rest of his life with his beautiful family. For someone who has endured much physical trauma including the loss of an eye, and lost everything temporal except the shirt on his back, he is surprisingly upbeat. More so than I ever would be or am. He is a great example to me of courage, strength and faith. I love this man so much.

Blessing of the Day: counting your blessings

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Then Will I Make Weak Things Become Strong

We met with the new doctor and Mark had to finish one last test. The doc did a preliminary review of Mark's results. I'll give you just a little of what he went over, as we'll have the full report at the end of next week.

First the good news. The doc could not be happier with the results of Mark's non-verbal tests. Mark is well above average (the average being healthy people with no brain injuries) for his visual memory and motor skills. In a nutshell, his right brain is working great. We even gave Mark a little round of applause for having done so well. We were both beaming.

Then it was the dreaded bad news, of which we were fully prepared to hear, as we are well aware of the deficiencies. Just not aware of how serious the deficiencies actually are. The doc showed us a bell curve that measures how the average person performs on these same tests. Then he drew the lines for where Mark is on the bell curve for his performance on these tests. His right brain results are far to the right, meaning very good. His left brain results are FAR to the left, even into the negatives. I must admit that I didn't think he was THAT bad. Mostly because Mark can speak and carry on a conversation, albeit sometimes very slowly and with much repetition on my part. But as we sat there discussing things, the doctor had Mark do some things that demonstrated the results. He asked him to repeat the following: The Ragged Rascal Ran Rapidly. Mark couldn't remember the first word. If you go word-by-word, Mark can do it. But if you give him more than that, he has no memory. The doctor got out his rubber brain model and showed us, again, what was missing and how all these things are playing out in Mark's brain. I wish I could do justice to the explanations, but I can't remember everything, nor do I have a clue about what I'm trying to explain. Basically, because of Mark's injury and subsequent brain tissue removal, he is severely impaired in his cognitive language skills. But we found there is somewhat of a silver lining in all of this.

In some of Mark's testing the doctor had him do a "squeeze" test. He held a meter in his hand and squeezed it as hard as he could. He did this with each of his hands. His right side was weaker than his left. The doctor started to explain that because of the severity of the injury to the left brain, Mark was suffering some weakness on his right side. I explained to the doc that Mark's right pectoral muscles never developed and that the only thing he does with his right hand is write. Anything physical he does left handed: bat, golf, arm wrestle, shoot. The doctor was very encouraged by this news. He said that tests have shown that people who are ambidextrous show language capacity int he right side of their brains. This gave the doctor much hope that Mark may already have some language pathways on the right side of his brain that will aid in his cognitive recovery of his language skills. Who would have thought that a physical impairment that Mark has hated and been ashamed of his entire life would end up being a blessing to him. We have to look at each and every tiny plus on our side as a tremendous blessing. Especially if it gives us even the slightest chance of any improvement.

Because of Mark's severely impaired cognitive language skills, he is unable to acquire, maintain or effectively retain work. So, we move on to the next step for him, which is vocational rehab. We will be meeting with them on Thursday for an orientation, and then they'll assign us to a counselor who will do additional testing, look at the doctors' reports, and make determinations as to what kind of work Mark can try to train for and attain. This is a difficult thing to accomplish. It takes much work on Mark's part, additional training to learn new skills, and a benevolent employer that is willing to work with someone like Mark. We have much work to do that is going to take quite some time. And all the while we have to try to sustain ourselves financially, emotionally and mentally. Once again the challenges seems overwhelming. But I wish you could have heard Mark talking about all of this. He thanked the doctor profusely for his willingness to help us. He told the doctor that he wants to be able to work again, but if he never does, then that's life and we'll just deal with it when it comes. His attitude has improved greatly over the last week or so. It has much to do with prayer and a benevolent Father in Heaven.

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

Blessing of the Day: weak things made strong

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Can Do Hard Things

I have been trying to post the following for 3 days and there's been a problem with Blogger. I'll get another posted probably later tonight.

I'm sorry I've been incognito for a few more days than usual. I had to prepare for and run the Ragnar Wasatch Back this last weekend. For those who don't know what that is, it's a 192 mile relay race from Logan to Park City, Utah. We have a 12 person team that shares those miles. It starts on Friday morning and we run through the night and into Saturday evening. It's the craziest thing I've ever paid money to do. But it's truly the greatest achievement.

So, it's a little hard to go back to what happened this last week. But I'll try. Mark finished up his testing on Thursday morning (4 hours), and we'll be meeting with the doc tonight to go over his results. He'll be giving us the good and bad news. We're both nervous and excited. We want to know where we stand and what it's going to take to get Mark back to his regular life. We've been warned that it's going to be a slow process, and we know that, but we're very excited to start that journey. No one more so than Mark. I hope he's not discouraged by the test results. The tests were very difficult for him, so he already knows he didn't do very well. I just keep reminding him that it doesn't matter because we have to know what we're dealing with and where we're starting from. We can only go up from here since we're praying there won't be anymore seizures or issues.

Mark did really well without me this weekend. He had a lot of help from my mom, but he still managed pretty well. He took the girls to the movie by himself. I'm sure that was a bit of a challenge, but he did it. He missed me terribly. Sent me several text messages. I'm glad we had this seperation. It was good for me to get away. While my "vacation" was not relaxing in the least, it was time for me to do something just for me. And it felt really good, if not extremely exhausting.

One of the girls in my car hadn't heard about the assault. So after everyone had asked how Mark was doing and how things were going, I had to fill her in. She was, of course, completely astounded. And after talking about it for a few hours, we were lying in our beds at the hotel on Thursday night and she asked me what I had learned the most from this experience. At the time I couldn't really give her an answer because I've learned so many different things. After giving it some serious thought, Saturday morning I told her it was that I can do hard things. This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and if I do say so myself, I think I've handled it pretty well. I have my moments that can sometimes turn into days, but overall I know that as difficult as it's been, I've dealt with it and endured it well. I'm still enduring it well. I've had so many people tell me they don't know how I've been able to get through. And I used to think that I really had no other options. But each and every one of them has said, "Yes you did. You could have curled up into the fetal position in the corner and chosen not to deal with it at all." And you know what...I'm starting to believe them. I'm proud of what I've done. It's hard and I'm doing it. I can do hard things.

Blessing of the Day: support of others