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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Our Family Is Forever

Do you ever get to the point where you just want to run away? Run away from everything and everyone? I suppose that's the feeling that drives people to drink or do drugs. The escape. Don't worry....I'm not ready to plunge into either of those things. I just wish sometimes I could run away. Not because I don't love or care about my family, but because I just can't take it one...more...minute. Sometimes it all just becomes too much. Too much stress. Too much worry. Too much hurt. Too much work. Too much...too much...too much.

I got on the Brain Injury Association website this weekend. They have posted some interesting statistics.

•Every 23 seconds, one person in the U.S. sustains a brain injury
•Over the past 12 years, mortality from brain injury has exceeded the cumulative number of American battle deaths inclusive of all wars since the founding of the Republic.
•Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a silent yet serious epidemic currently leaving 5.3 million Americans with disabilities. This represents over- 2% of the US population; 40,000 victims in Utah alone!
•50% of brain injuries are caused by vehicle crashes, 26% by falls.
•In September 2000 alone, 8600 children under the age of 15 suffered a brain injury from scooter accidents... almost 300 children per day!
•Every 7 minutes, someone dies of a brain injury
•One death every day and one brain injury every four minutes can be prevented by the use of helmets in recreational activities, including skiing and biking.
•80 % of brain injury victims end up in a divorce
•75% of persons with TBI who return to work will lose their job within 90 days if they do not have supports.
•The estimated lifetime cost for each survivor of a severe brain injury exceeds $4 million.
•According to a study conducted by The National Foundation for the Brain, the cost of brain injury in the United States was $48.3 billion in 1992. Hospitalization accounts for $31.7 billion, and fatal brain injuries cost the nation $16.6 billion each year. We estimate that this figure may be substantially higher today.

These are fascinating statistics. But the one that really caught my attention was "80% of brain injury victims end up in a divorce". What I'd like to know is of that 80%, how many were initiated by the victim and how many by the caregiver. The reason I wonder is that Mark has said to me several times that he should have just died and that the girls and I would be better off with someone else. I know that it's the Adversary talking, the depression talking, the desire to be "done" with all of the stress, worry, hurt, work. But I take those ramblings for what they are...ramblings. They are not his true feelings for us. And no matter how much stress, worry, hurt or work it's US against the world. And we will continue to fight the battle...together...for as long as it takes.

I read to Mark a wonderful talk by Pres. Thomas S. Monson titled "Finding Joy In The Journey". He's having a hard time accepting that this recovery not only to his brain, but our lives, is going to take a long time. He's slowly realizing that he can't just sit around and be unhappy. This talk helped him. I've posted the link.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Truth Hurts

It has been a difficult day for me. I guess it's time for a breakdown.

Mark had his testing with the new doctor this morning. The doctor told us there is a connection between the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe. Mark's injuries were only milimeters from that connection. Had this connection been severed Mark would not be able to speak at all, among other problems. He showed us how the brain had been shifted from the midline due to the massive epidural blood clot on the right side. I learned that the brain is covered with a layer of sinew-type tissue called the dura. The dura has blood vessels, as well as the bone. There was bleeding from the dura and the bone that created this blod clot, that sat between the bone and the dura. Once the clot from the right side had been removed, the pressure on the left side had been relieved causing the bleeding to resume on the left side. This bleeding was actually occuring in the brain. I posted before about the brain tissue having been removed. I can't believe the size of the hole in Mark's brain. I can't believe my husband has survived such devastation.

We got good news and bad news about his tests. Good news is that the right side of his brain is functioning almost perfectly. According to the tests that were administered, Mark's visual memory and comprehension are in tact. The bad news is that he's functioning below the 5th percentile on his left side. I was surprised it was this low. I thought it might be higher since he can speak and communicate to a certain extent. Audiologically Mark suffers a great deal. He has great difficulty understanding verbal communication. He has great difficulty producing the words he needs. We have a long road ahead of us.

After leaving the doctor's office, I was overcome with gratitude, again, for such a blessing in our lives. This doctor will be able to help us in ways that no one else can. I know he is one of the Lord's ministering angels. Throughout the day I pondered on everything we've been through so far, and what labors we will be asked to perform from now on. I'm tired. I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm hurt. I'm spent. I'm overwhelmed.

But life doesn't goes on.

Blessing of the Day: reality

p.s. Formal arraignment was yesterday and the trial date has been set for October 3rd, 4th, and 6th. Read about it here:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Anger, Love, Sadness, Compassion and Gratitude

As we sit together and read our scriptures every night, I experience several extreme emotions. The first is always anger. Anger towards the bastards who almost killed my husband, and by so doing have belittled him to the reading level of a first grader. Anger as I watch him struggle to not only read the words, but comprehend what it is he's reading. He's lost his sense of where the emphasis should be placed and the composition of a sentence. He runs on without it making sense. He struggles through his few verses, and then embarrassed looks at me and says, "Ok. That's enough." And almost nightly he will express how embarrassed he is that his 2nd grader reads better than he does. Anger that we have lost everything. Anger that we are required to give so much. Anger over the senselessness of such a horriffic act. Anger, anger, anger.

The second emotion is love. An overwhelming rush of love for this man who has endured so much. The man I have spent the last 19 years loving and caring for. Love that has seen us through so much in our time together. Love for a generous Father in Heaven for answering my fervant prayers that my husband would live. Love for my beautiful girls. Love, love, love.

The third is sadness. Sadness for all that we have lost as a family. Sadness for all that Mark has lost as a man. Sadness for all that will not be ours due to the tragedy. Sadness for all that my sweet husband must endure in order to try and recover. Sadness as I watch him struggle to do things that were second nature before the injuries. Sadness for his sadness. Sadness for his struggles. Sadness for what my girls have lost. Sadness for what I have lost. Sadness, sadness, sadness.

The fourth is compassion. Compassion that allows me to forget myself and focus on helping my sweet husband. Compassion so that I may give more to my family than I've ever been asked to give before. Compassion, compassion, compassion.

The last is always gratitude. Gratitude to my Father in Heaven that he spared me more heartache than I could handle. Gratitude to Him that He spared my girls that same heartache. Gratitude that we are an eternal family. Gratitude for the miraculous recovery Mark has had. Gratitude for all those who have helped us to endure this journey. Gratitude for the love and support of my first family. Gratitude for the years ahead and the opportunities that they hold. Gratitude for the Plan of Salvation. Gratitude for the righteous examples that we read about in the scriptures, and the hope that they give me. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Blessing of the Day: scriptures

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel

It's been a relatively quiet week. The highlight, of course, was meeting with the new doctor.

Mark was trying to keep himself busy this week. He tends to get a little crazy if he doesn't have anything to do. We put bunkbeds together, he worked in the yard, ew went to see Pirates. He even tried to rewire a hair dryer for my little brother's projects and ended up blowing up the motor. After that happened, he looked at me and said, "Well now I know what I did wrong." He was embarrassed. He said, "I should have known how to do that. I can't believe I screwed that up." I think it scared him a little as to whether he can be an electrician. Not that he won't be safe, but that he'll be able to make things work. It was a real shot to his confidence.

He's been really tired lately. He's also been more active, so I figure the two go hand-in-hand. One of the doctors at the rehab center told me that their patients biggest complaint one year after a brain injury is the fatigue. I have to keep reminding him to be patient. His brain is what runs his body and if his brain is tired from trying to heal, then his body would be tired and need to rest. It frustrates him because he thinks he's being lazy. He's laying in bed while his kids go to school and his wife goes to work. But I think I finally got through to him this weekend. He's going to try and spread his workload out so that he doesn't overdo it one day, and then have to rest it off the next. Consistency. He needs consistency.

This week is full of lots of appointments. He has speech therapy, a trip to see the opthamologist, and a two hour test with the new doctor. I have a wedding cake due on Thursday, Olivi'a baptism invitations to finish, and a baptism dress to finish. The Davis family is going to be busy this week.

Blessing of the Day: work to do

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Will Go Before Your Face. I Will Be On Your Right Hand And On Your Left.

We had our first meeting with the new doctor tonight. We took him the digital images of Mark's first and last CT's and MRI's. He loaded them onto his computer that has special software that can look at even the most minute detail. Mark did a quick cognitive test that they use as a baseline, so that in two months when he takes it again, we can all see how he's progressing.

The doc showed us an actual human skull from a woman that had donated her body to science. He took the top off of the skull and held it up to the window so that we could see the light coming through the bones. He told us that the brain tissue is very soft, which is why it's so susceptible to injury. We looked at the fist CT scan when Mark had arrived in the emergency room. He pointed out the fractures and the very obvious hematoma's. He noted that the hematoma on the right side of his brain was the size of his fist and was pushing the left temporal lobe towards the brain stem, which is in the inner portion of the brain. He took apart a rubber mold of a brain and showed exactly how close Mark came to death as the temporal lobe was encroaching on the brain stem. The brain stem runs the central nervous system (breathing, heartbeat, etc.). He reiterated what Dr. Gaufin has said from the beginning: It's truly a miracle that Mark survived and is doing as well as he is. We then looked at his most recent MRI which showed the gap in bone where the shattered portion had been removed. He then showed us that the right side of his brain had healed really well and showed no tissue damage. We then looked at the left side and you could see the obvious absense of brain tissue. The space where the brain tissue had been has now filled with cerebral fluid. It's a dark space on the image, where the brain tissue is light gray. Mark asked him if he was ever going to be able to be completely healed. The doc said, "Your damage is permanent. But that doesn't mean that you can't rehabilitate and even retrain your brain to be able to enjoy the rest of your life. But know that this is a long process. It's not like when you break you leg and in 3 months you've healed and are back to normal. Rehabilitating the brain takes months and months. You need to be patient with the process and yourself. I'm going to sound like a broken record as I keep reminding you to be patient because this is a very long process. But it will come." I was fascinated and awed by what I was hearing and seeing. Mark sat back quietly in his chair and didn't say much. Later I asked him how he was doing and he was overcome with emotion. I think he's finally starting to understand just how close he came to death and the reality that members of his own family could do something so uncomprehensable to him.

Before we left the doctor's office I expressed my gratitude for what this doctor is going to be doing for us. He told us that he normally just oversees the department and on occassion he will take on his own case. "You are my new case." I told him that there are no coincidences in this life. The circumstances that we've found ourselves in and that his occupation and life's work has been in the field of brain injury research is a little unfathomable. The only explanation I have to give is the obvious hand of the Lord in ALL things. He has been ever present in our lives.

Doctrine & Covenant 84:88
And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

Blessing of the Day: modern medicine

Monday, May 16, 2011

Continue In Patience

Mark had a busy day today. He was very excited to go to the Center for Change and go over what minor things they had for him to do, electrically. He was also very nervous that he wouldn't be able to remember how to do everything that needed to be done. Before the injury, Mark was a great electrician. He was knowledgeable, proficient and efficient. He is very worried that he won't be able to do the only thing he knows how to an electrician. It really scares him. Through tears and sobs he said, "If I can't do electrical work, how am I ever going to be able to take care of my family?" His confidence and self worth are really suffering right now. And the Adversary is taking great advantage of his vulnerability. I don't have any answers for him, other than to tell him to remember the Lord in all things, count his miraculous blessings, and trust that if the Lord saved his life there must be work for him to do, and He will help him do it.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, stated: "Having faith in the Lord means also having faith in His timeline." This is a difficult thing to do. But even more so when you have a brain injury that keeps you from doing what's normal. When I get down while trying to wait patiently on the Lord, I remember those dark, difficult hours filled with much fear and prayer, and replay the memory video of Dr. Gaufin walking out of the OR with a smile on his face. It can sure dispell the fear, doubt and worry pretty quickly. I wish I could adequately share those memories with Mark so that he could understand just how miraculous he really is. But I guess it'll just be the beautiful miracle for those who witnessed it personally.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, spoke in the October 2010 General Conference on patience. His words are profound indeed. And a much needed balm to our aching hearts. Take a few minutes to read the words of a modern-day prophet.

Blessing of the Day: witness

Sunday, May 15, 2011

All's Well That Ends Well

It's been a relatively quiet weekend. An emotional one, but quiet.

We celebrated our Olivia's 8th birthday on Friday. We went to dinner at Olive Garden and then to see Seussical the Musical at the Hale Center Theater. It felt really good to laugh and play with our kids. If you're in the area, I highly recommend seeing it. Our girls have begged us to see it again. We just might have to do that.

Mark had a very busy Saturday. By the time he got home around 3:00, he was ready for bed. He laid down and napped until bedtime, then went to sleep. Today he was very emotional. While he was busy this week getting some things done, he didn't "make any money". This has got to be his greatest emotional challenge right now. A man's self worth is tied directly to his ability to provide for his family. It's humiliating for him to watch me go to work while he's here trying to keep himself busy and handle the home front. Our Bishop has counseled him to not run faster than he's able. I'm hoping this new doc will shed some light onto what we may be able to accomplish for him vocationally. I know there's a vocational rehab that works with brain injury patients, so I'm going to look into that this week. He needs to feel at least like he's trying to move forward.

All's well that ends well. We had Olivia's family party tonight and did the Hello Kitty cake. She is such a blessing to us. Family is truly the greatest blessing our Father in Heaven has given us.

Blessing of the Day: our little ones

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Errand of Angels

I had the most AMAZING conversation with a new doctor that can help Mark. He told me that brain injury rehabilitation services in the state of Utah are deplorable. Practically non-existent. But because of his education, background and place of employment, he has plenty of resources to help us further Mark's recovery. And they're all free to us. I felt like when we got discharged from the hospital that we were on our own. Now I feel like our prayers have been answered.

I will be taking him the digital images from Mark's MRI's and the neuro/psych evaluation. He will input the information into his magic equipment and be able to design a program to help Mark for the best benefit. I can't tell you how thoroughly excited we are about this. He was amazed at how far Mark has come already, but knows that the recovery process is not over. It can stretch out as long as 3-6 years. We have our work cut out for us.

With the good news from the hearing and the new developments with this doctor, this has been an exceptionally good week. We are filled with a new hope for the future. And we get to celebrate our beautiful Olivia's 8th birthday today. Off to Olive Garden and the Hale Center Theater to see Seussical the Musical.

Blessing of the Day: instruments in the hand of God

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Mind May Forget, But The Heart Always Knows The Truth

Mark did really well testifying at the hearing. He was nervous, but handled himself well. The neurosurgeon testified and even I learned some things. It was emotional for me to listen to his very descriptive testimony of the surgery. I've read the OR reports so it wasn't that I was shocked by the description. It just took me back to those long, dark hours of December 1st and 2nd, and back to the reality that I almost lost my husband in a senseless, brutal attack. Dr. Gaufin said again, "Most people with these similar injuries die. I didn't expect him to survive the surgery." He talked about the 3 surgeries and that he finally finished early in the morning on the 2nd of December. I closed my eyes for a second and relived the moment when Dr. Gaufin walked out of the OR at 7:30 a.m. with a huge smile on his face. My heart was full with gratitude for this very special man that saved my husband's life.

My happy heart didn't stay that way for very long. While Mark was testifying and struggling to understand some of the questions he was being asked, people in the courtroom were laughing. Laughing at his obvious deficits and talking to each other as if they were at a social gathering instead of a very serious, formal proceeding. It's hard for me to comprehend how some people can be so callous and heartless. It says a lot about their character, or lack thereof.

But I had the opportunity to be happy again as the judge gave her synopsis of the evidence brought before her. There will be an arrainment on the 25th when the trial date will be set. I'm sure it won't be until early Fall. My friend described this whole process like being on a merry-go-round that we can't ever get off of. We look forward to having closure and getting this all behind us. We have already moved on to some degree. It will just be the final chapter finished.

Blessing of the Day: truth

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Won't Let Go

It's a good thing we both have enough to keep us busy. Mark moved some boxes around in the storage unit today while I was at work. It took our minds off of tomorrow.

We're not so much stressed about testifying to the's mostly about being in the same room with the people that tried to kill my husband. But as I sit here and type this, there is a song playing on the radio by the country group Rascal Flatts. It has particular meaning to me as it came on one night when I was alone in the car. It gives me strength to keep going. If you ever get the chance to listen to it, you'll know why.

I Won't Let Go

It's like a storm that cuts a path. It breaks your will, it feels like that.
You think you're lost, but your're not lost. On your own, you're not alone.

I will stand by you. I will help you through.
When you've done all you can do...and you can't cope.
I will dry your eyes, I will fight your fight.
I will hold you tight...and I won't let go.

It hurts my heart to see you cry. I know it's dark, this part of life.
Oh, it finds us all...and we're too small
To stop the rain. Oh, but when it rains...

I will stand by you. I will help you through.
When you've done all you can do...and you can't cope.
I will dry your eyes, I will fight your fight.
I will hold you tight...and I won't let you fall.

Don't be afraid to fall.
I'm right here to catch you.
I won't let you down.
It won't get you down.
You're gonna make it.
Yeah, I knowyou can make it.

'Cause I will stand by you. I will help you through.
When you've done all you can do...and you can't cope.
I will dry your eyes. I will fight your fight.
And I won't let go.

Oh I'm gonna hold you.
And I won't let go.
Won't let you go.
No, I won't.

Blessing of the Day: bishops

Monday, May 9, 2011

Put On A Happy Face : )

Mark has been very distressed about the preliminary hearing on Wednesday. So stressed that he wanted to meet with the prosecutor. We sat down with him for about an hour and went over how things were going to play out. Mark will have to testify about what he can remember. Should be a short testimony, huh? We'll see. We did find out that the neurosurgeon that saved Mark's life will be there to testify. I can't wait to hear what he has to say.

Anytime we have to discuss the assault or any kind of legalities regarding it, it puts a certain amount of strain on us. We don't dwell on it day after day, but it obviously is a huge monkey on our backs, so to speak, that we have to try and manage as best we can. We try not to let the stress come between us, but sometimes it does. And today it did. All of this legal stuff needs to hurry up and be done. It's the closure that we need to help us move forward.

It's quite the balancing act I am required to perform. Mark's heart is very tender and impressionable right now. If he senses even the slightest bit of tension from me, it sends him into a tailspin. He thinks I'm upset with him because he's "too dumb to understand everything that's going on", or "you're getting sick of having to take care of me", or "this is all going to be too much to handle and you're going to leave me". So whether I'm happy, stressed, sad, angry or just sick and tired of everything I have to do, I put on my happy face for him. And even when I'm feeling like it's so unfair that I have to DO that, I remember how he's feeling and how all of this has affected him and his life, and I do it again. The only opportunity I have to express my true feelings is here...on this blog. So I apologize if it seems that I've been "Debbie Downer" as of late, but I have to vent somewhere and to someone. Fortunately for y'all, I don't vent EVERYTHING I'm thinking or feeling. But thanks for listening, anyway.

Blessing of the Day: outlets

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pay It Forward

I had a successful first week of work. Well, first 3 days, anyway. And Mark did quite well in my absence. He kept himself busy working in the yard, and wore himself completely out. He is overly emotional as he feels that he's letting his family down. I know he'll eventually get back to work, it's just not happening on his timetable. And that's extremely difficult for him.

I must admit that it feels a little weird to be at work. I feel so disjointed and disconnected to everything that is my life. You would think it would be very natural for me to go back to doing something I did for so long, but my life is drastically different since I last worked outside the home. I enjoy my work, don't get me wrong...and I'm so very grateful that I found a good job so quickly. It's just weird and a little emotional for me. I guess I'm feeling as if another period in my life is over that I worked so hard to earn. There seems to be a lot of that going on in my life as of late.

Today's lesson in Relief Society was on Charity. I've been having a particularly emotional week and church was no different. As the lesson started, I pondered on all the charity I've received in the last 5 months. The word charity tends to have a negative connotation to it. But that negativity comes from the prideful that are too stubborn to accept an angel from the Lord. As I sat there thinking of my particular situation, I became overwhelmed with grattitude for all those who have come to our literal rescue. I was overcome with emotion as I recognized that my Father in Heaven is over all, and must rely on each of us to take care of His children. I have never been in true need as I have been recently. I was taught in my youth how to work hard and be independent and self reliant. I have never asked for help from anyone, for anything. And when my life fell apart on December 1, 2010, one of my dearest friends told me that I needed to say "yes" to all those that offered help. She knew it would hard for me and that I couldn't handle all of this on my own. I am so grateful for her candor.

And I will be forever in the debt of those who served my little family. To all those who watched my girls, brought in meals, visited me at the hospital, fasted and/or prayed for us, donated money, donated time and energy to help us move, offered well wishes, put our names on the rolls of the temple, etc., etc...Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I feel like it's a little trite in that it's all I have to offer you...but thank you, thank you, thank you. I suppose my payment for the many blessings I have received will be to pay it forward.

Blessing of the Day: ministering angels

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Name Is Mark...And I Have A Brain Injury

We went to a support group at BYU tonight for traumatic brain injuries and stroke. It was not what I expected it to be, so we will go again next month and give it another chance.

There were a lot of people there, about half of them were students. There was only one other TBI and all the others were stroke. There was a guest speaker from the Utah Valley Specialty Hospital. He gave some interesting information, but he talked for way too long. By the time he was finished with his presentation, we were ready to leave. I thought it was going to be a forum like AA where you state your name, your injury, and discuss things that are on your mind. I thought it was going to be an opportunity for Mark to see others who have not only survived a severe injury, but have made great strides to get their lives back.

We got there early and were able to talk to a guy that had an anurism and a stroke. He was doing really well. We did have to go around the room and introduce ourselves and give a brief reason for our attendance. That was difficult. Mark tried to do it, but he was a little embarrassed, so I took over. We didn't talk about WHO did this to us, but just that he was assaulted and all that he's gone through. I started to get emotional, which kind of shocked me. I think I'm doing pretty well and then there will be a moment when I realize it's still pretty raw. And I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that we'll be seeing our attackers for the first time on Wednesday. I'd like to think that I can be strong and hard and not let it affect me, but I don't really know for sure how I'm going to react or how it's going to affect me. It's a little overwhelming to think about.

Blessing of the Day: strength in numbers

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Back To The Grindstone

It's been a crazy few days. Much had to get done in anticipation of my return to the workforce.

I continue to see miracles in our lives everyday. I was given a Priesthood blessing in the OR waiting room the night of the assault. I was told by my Father in Heaven that he was aware of my little family. He was aware of our financial trials and He would take care of us. My Bishop in our Salem ward told me that the Church would provide for us until Mark had recovered and was back to work. I am humbled to say that we never needed that assistance as we were so tremendously blessed by our generous family, friends and neighbors. I asked the girls last week to ask Heavenly Father in their prayers that I could find a job. Literally two days later I interviewed for and was offered a position at a local CPA firm. I wept last night as I sat and pondered that Priesthood blessing and all that has come about since. I can see the literal hand of the Lord in my life.

I witnessed another miracle last night, as well. I was the fortunate recipient of another Priesthood blessing...this time from my sweet husband. It's the first one since the assault. I remember sitting in the OR waiting room as my brother prepared to give me a blessing and thinking, "My husband is the one that is supposed to do this. I hope he will be able to again."

My heart is so full of gratitude for the multitude of blessings that have been poured out on my behalf. I am so unworthy to be the recepient of these beautiful blessings. I am in such debt to my Father in Heaven for all that He has done for me. It will take the eternities for me to earn these sacred blessings.

Blessing of the Day: answered prayers