Monday, December 14, 2009

One Year Later...

Yes, to the date. It was this day, 2008 my mom & dad got the 5:00am phone call that Brian was in the Carolinas Medical Center Trauma ICU & this part of life's journey began.

It's been a tough week for Brian & our family, I guess, though no one's really said too much about it. The memories flood back--like things we last did together "before the accident," where we spent Christmas, & the like.

I have meant to post before today as this tragedy continues to give way to so many wonderful outpourings of support. Yet, somehow day-to-day tasks manage to steal any time I might have to do so.

Anyway, giving these folks the more than overdue thank you they deserve, the Cary High Basketball Scrimmage Benefit for Brian was such a tremendous success. Over $3,000 was raised that day for Brian's uninsured needs--though if you ask my son, he'd tell you the highlight of the event was the super cool green CHS basketball he got & watching a basketball game. The staff made a great presentation of their efforts to our family during the game. Standing on the court where Brian once played, we saw so many wonderful & supportive faces in the stands.

What amazes me even more about the funds raised was how half of them were pledged before school was even out by students & staff alike. Moreover, former CHS graduate & now head basketball coach of Cardinal Gibbons, Marque Carrington, discreetly presented my dad with over $300 for Brian raised by his team alone.

I used to work in the schools. It's a hard, thankless job. More so each passing year, I think. The fact that these folks still managed to make time to organize & show up in support of such a successful event is overwhelming. The whole event & the spirit of it was amazing.

Thank you to all of you.

Some of you also might like to know that we had a nice change of pace for Thanksgiving this year. The couple of times Brian has come to Raleigh, he stayed in a hotel because private residence doors are not large enough for a wheelchair, particularly bathrooms. With NTAF monies, we purchased a small transfer chair that fits through standard doors, allowing Brian to stay at our house, both saving the cost of a hotel & well, just making things a little less difficult & a little more familiar. We look forward to having him back for Christmas, right Brian?

We ate Thanksgiving dinner with some great families at the Town of Cary Fire Station #1 that Myra helped organized since she & others were on duty that night. We brought some food, making a point to come early to help set up (I mean, they are the ones on duty, missing Thanksgiving at home.), but our efforts were moot. They were busily preparing turkey, ham, stuffing, & more--ending up doing the waiting on us rather than the other way around.

Most often, they don't get their calls until night. This year, we had the special treat of witnessing them jump up from what they were doing & take two calls. Really. Jump. Up. They can move. I couldn't believe how quickly they were out the door & down the street, sirens blaring. Jumping up from serving us dinner to take calls. Folks just like them rushed to the rescue of my brother this very day last year...

Thank you to all of you.

There just continue to be so many of you helping in such different, yet, vital ways--rides home for holidays & visits just because you sense Brian might be down that day. Even requesting that in memory of a beautiful life lost, donations be made on Brian's behalf.

Thank you to all of you.

God made us for good works, you know:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

It's not what gets us into heaven but He made us to help others & to glorify Him in doing so.

It's also not just good works that helps others & glorifies God. Suffering can do that too. How much more does it help to hear encouragement, advice, or support from someone going through or having made it through what you are enduring than someone who hasn't?

I liked this commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:3-11.

I am always amazed by those who have endured life's wrongs yet all the while remain firm in their belief that they were made by a kind and loving Creator who will one day remove those hardships & restore their loss (Revelation 21:4).

Suffering does so many things. Suffering helps a believer stay kingdom-minded. When things go well, we tend to forget that this life is vanity. When tragedy comes, we don't have to even try to block out daily distractions. Tragedy strips all the frivolity clear out of the picture for you. Instantaneously you know what doesn't matter to you as much as you know what does. Those things we think make us content, we see how vapid they are & we remember what matters.

But for many, suffering also is the age-old stumbling block in his or her belief in Our kind & loving God.

The God who made Himself human to help us grasp eternity within our worldly constraints, a baby even, who willingly endured death on a cross so that we don't have to...

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

Anyway, Brian continues to truck along with therapy at Race to Walk (check the link for a couple of shots of Brian in action). Though this week has been a little rough, he has mostly good days.

Andy & his wife, Dawn, have done more than provide a state-of-the-art physical therapy center for Brian (As if that wasn't enough, right?). They have helped him with a couple of errands here & there & just befriended him as people who, first hand, know what he's going through. Brian's also starting a new medication this week that has shown some success with helping nerve sensation return for patients with spinal cord injuries. We are hopeful that it will do the same for him.

This time last year, he was brought to the ER with staff thinking he wasn't going to make it. Many of the attending doctors thought he'd be paralyzed from the chest down. He left the rehab hospital in March paralyzed at the navel. He now feels all the way down to the middle of his hips.

Hang in there, Brian. I know it's so hard, though only as someone who sees what you & those like you daily endure.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

Be encouraged that one day the restoration you'll gain won't even compare to the pain, devastation, & loss you've endured thus far.

For those of you reading, please continue to pray for my brother. I quickly glanced back at the posts I wrote this time last year & it reminded me so clearly of all of those praying for his survival & healing. I'll admit, prayer is not my strong suit but I've seen & felt it work. When you have others praying on your behalf, worry diminishes & a sense of peace takes its place.

Brian could use a lot of prayers for his physical problems. Even more, being able to go through this uncertain process with diminished worry & increased peace would be of tremendous help to him & his family for that matter too (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cary High Scrimmage Benefit This Tuesday

We just wanted to let everyone know that this Tuesday, November 10th, Brian's (and his three sisters') alma mater, Cary High School, will be playing their first men's varsity basketball scrimmage of the season. The ever-supportive network of CHS parents, families, friends, and staff, known as the Imp Club, have helped organized a "Brian Keeter Benefit" around this event.

(And who knew that when Sports Illustrated earlier this year ranked the top 15 most unique mascots for high schools and the Cary Imp came in #4!)

Unfortunately, Brian will be unable to attend due to therapy appointments in Mooresville, but we all look forward to being there to cheer on CHS basketball and to thank you all for your ongoing prayers, love, and support.

We'll see you at Cary High at 6:00!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Thank You from Brian

First of all, I want to thank everyone that attended the Red Rally basketball event a few weeks ago. It was good to see a lot of folks that I had not seen face-to-face in quite a while. Admittedly, I was very nervous about attending, as I am still trying to adjust to my new appearance and the way I have to get around for now. It all can be pretty overwhelming, honestly.

One major adjustment for me is being so low to the ground--and a few former teammates who came out to show their support sure did not help me feel any better about it that night! However, the night went well and I am glad I was able to come. It was great seeing all of you and being able to show a little bit of thanks to all the people who have been so supportive.

I also wanted to come in order to show NC State my appreciation for their help. To date, I am told that the Red Rally raised approximately $1,800 to help pay for direct medical and therapy expenses not covered by my insurance, in addition to insurance co-pays and deductibles.

Again, I am so fortunate to have such great support from all of my family and friends and I am encouraged by the recent efforts of NC State on behalf--including some very supportive emails and letters received from people I do not even really know personally. I thank all of you for your support. I truly feel like the more support I get the more motivation and momentum I carry into my upcoming recovery efforts.

About a week ago, we completed my move from Charlotte to Mooresville to began the recovery efforts I have been looking forward to starting for a quite sometime. I will be here for the next five to six months, spending most of my days at Race to Walk. Simply beginning this phase of the journey has already really made me feel better about things--I am finally able to be proactive and see what can happen with some hard work. In a few weeks I will have better idea of the type of training program I will be following and I will be sure to share how things are going with all of you.

My new address is:

175 Carriage Club Drive

Apt. 3-105

Mooresville, NC 28117



Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Brian!

Okay, so this is just one of those days that will probably never be the same for me again--at least not this year so I just wanted to quickly post--

Today is Brian's birthday.

Dare I tell how old you are, little brother? Well, of course, I'm the big (albeit older, yes I know) sister...

Happy 30th Birthday, Brian!

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

Again, I just have to say that it's one of those days where I am reminded of how fortunate I am to even have the possible opportunity to annoy you with this post (assuming someone tells you I did it in the first place).

We almost lost you last year. We should have--by vehicle extrication and emergency hospital standards. I remember a Christmas Eve nurse assigned to you on the trauma intensive care unit who told us she was also in the emergency room the night they brought you in. She, too, remembered thinking that she didn't expect you to make it. She also told us, as a traveling nurse who usually worked with patients with spinal cord injuries, that she'd seen many a God-given miracle that doctors just couldn't explain.

Speaking of--look at you now...alive, moving one step closer to full independence, & wholeheartedly committed, with excitement even, to the upcoming months of an intensive, grueling physical therapy quest to make some gains to what you have lost.

I thank God for having you here with us, Brian. For inspiring me not only in your determination but in being a daily living example that our God is a loving God who does, in His perfect timing, answer prayers.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

We love you so much and are so strongly reminded, as we were when He spared you on December 14th, 2008, that as you continue to commit this journey to Jesus Christ, He will bless you & He will keep you.

So, little brother, Happy Birthday...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Few Words from Brian

A GREAT article, Keeter Time, by Dave Pond is a featured story this month on website. Please be sure to check it out.

Also, some of you may have received the below message from Brian in an email. We thought those not on his contact list might like to hear from him too so we've posted it below:

Hey Everybody!
I want again to thank everyone that has & continues to reach out to me following my accident. I continue to be amazed by the tremendous amount of support I receive from family & friends.

Unable to be proactive in my recovery has been very tough both mentally & physically. I am extremely excited that I have finally recovered from secondary issues that have prevented me from taking a very aggressive & proactive route in my recovery. I am ready to get started & confident that nobody will work harder then me at the therapies I am about to begin!

October is going to be a busy & exciting month. I will be moving about 25 miles or so north of Charlotte to be close to the Race to Walk therapy gym in Mooresville. At Race to Walk, I plan on building strength working with therapists & on my own 4-5 days a week. I hope to build up as much strength as I can & make as many gains as possible to maximize the time spent at my next stop at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The Shepherd Center has a wonderfully renowned outpatient therapy program, Beyond Therapy, which helps people with injuries like mine attempt to recover function. They have many success stories from people with injuries similar to mine. My father got me admitted & on the waiting list shortly after getting injured. He also toured the facility a few months ago. There was an eight month wait when I signed up & I anticipate beginning there in early 2010.

As most of you know, NC State has offered to help raise money to cover the tremendous out-of-pocket expenses associated with spinal cord injury therapy & recoveries that are not covered by insurance. I invite & encourage everyone to attend the Red Rally this Friday, October 16th. I definitely plan to come out in support of NC State family & hope also to see many of you there.

With the Red Rally coming up, I thought I should address one concern. Some people inquiring about donating to NTAF on my behalf have expressed some confusion regarding where the monies go. Just to be clear, approximately 98% of tax-deductible donations received in my honor go into my personal NTAF account to be used towards paying for progressive therapies such as Race to Walk & Shepherd Center, modifications to a vehicle so that I can begin driving again, & other vital expenses that insurance does not cover (The other 2% goes towards administrative costs & salaried patient fund coordinators.).

I appreciate everyone that has donated & please know that every little bit helps so much. I know times are tough for a lot of people but I cannot tell you how the small donations from many add up to be such a tremendous help to my family & me.

Again, I look forward to seeing you all at Reynolds Coliseum this Friday!

Brian Keeter

As always, thank you so much to all the family, friends, & supporters who continue to encourage & assist Brian & our family through this! Please also be sure to check out Kermit's blog--he's been able to post some GREAT news as to how Brian is doing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

NCSU Red Rally @ Reynolds

Come out in support of NC State Athletics & Brian--We'll see you there!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meeting Uncle Brian

As many of you may know from my dad's updates, Brian has been hindered from overall recovery by a rather persistent pressure wound since March. Though receiving regular care for this obstacle in Charlotte, its inexplicable persistence prompted my dad to seek a second opinion from a wound care clinic here in Raleigh.

Admittedly, I saw one perk in this frustrating situation: We got to have a visit with Uncle Brian! He & Faye met for the first time & though he loves Owen just as much as the rest of us, he too, was shocked that Faye was as calm & quiet as she was (& this was with no nap!). She enjoyed sitting next to her uncle as well as laying in his lap, sitting on his shoulder, his head, & any other place I stuck her. ;)

Traveling was so difficult for Brian, particularly given the need to stay off the wound, all the stuff he has to pack to be away even for just one night, & most of all being a passenger while his mom drove all the way from Charlotte to Raleigh--yikes! :). Given all these obstacles, I thought we had a pretty nice little visit. Well, till Owen got stung by that hornet thingy or whatever it was (He's still got a knot on the side of his head from that thing but I think it hurt Grandmommy to see him get stung just as much as it actually hurt him.).

Oh & Brian, those small ramps we made to ease your entry into the house (In quite a nice upgrade of a chair, might I say? I agree with you--the florescent green bars on the loaner just weren't your style.)? Well, Owen thanks you--he's got a couple of pretty sweet starter ramps he went up & down on his Strider bike the rest of the afternoon.

For those of you who haven't seen Brian in quite sometime--he looks GREAT! He doesn't see it but I tried to explain it to him like this:

In December, you really were almost dead, saved from a car crash by a miracle & some amazing first responders, machines performing most of the vital life functions for you. By March, you were alive (Breathing & eating on your own--hey, hey...) but you still really looked like you were almost dead. When we saw you last in May, you were, well, alive--though I'd have to say with a look that said barely. August 2009, you look almost really healthy. Really.

(I know he's not buying my observation but it's true.)

He's gotten so strong despite such limitations to what he can do physically, once again, because of that pressure sore--to see him lift in & out of the car, up a steep rise in our walkway to get to the house, to & from the sofa. He's so quick at it all now. His upper body is probably the bulkiest (in a good way) I've seen in quite awhile. I swear, even his legs looked more muscular to me than they had since he was released from the hospital in March (He says it's because he has a tan. I say, the jokester's on the come back!).

After a quick stop at our house, he went to meet up for dinner with a few friends kindly hosted by a friend & his wife, who, like so many of you, have been quite wonderful to our family through this whole ordeal. Brian also stayed the night there, as their house is wheelchair accessible. Though my family (aka "the nursery" as Brian so lovingly calls it--Told you, he's back.) did not attend, my sisters were there & said that Brian somewhat seemed himself...a bit more relaxed than usual & even joking around (Oooh, & I'm not the only one!).

So, all in all, I thought it was a great visit. Brian, though handling things so matter of fact, continues to remain so frustrated by it all. There are just so many countless problems that come with a spinal cord injury & a relentless pressure wound. So many adjustments, especially for a young single male with no ties who woke up facing paralysis-- so much equipment, a continual need for assistance, things you just cannot reach, doorways you can't even fit through---all constant reminders screaming in your face of all the things you now cannot do. It hurts to see him going through this.

Without actually being in his position, we all do the best we can to understand. One of the things I pray for constantly is for God to give me the words Brian needs for comfort, encouragement, & hope. Almost immediately following his visit, I got the answer to that prayer.

The night after Brian's visit, I read in one of my devotionals:

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those you know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You (Psalms 9:9-10).

A couple of days later, I was struck by this short commentary on Psalm 23, written by David (the King David, the David of David & Goliath, etc.) when he was a young man tending sheep:

The Lord is my shepherd...He restores my soul (Psalms 23:1,3).

I can't be that source. Only God can provide that refuge & hope to Brian. When I start wanting to be the one to fix things, I know that the best way to do just that is to keep trusting Him & praying...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Reminder: Brian's Dad Now Blogging

Just wanted to remind you all to continue to check Brian's dad, Kermit's blog, for updates:

Thank you for following my brother's story & supporting our family with your love, prayers, & financial contributions.

We do not have the NTAF contribution letter available for download at this time; however, if anyone is interested in receiving a copy for distribution, please send us an email at & we'll email it to you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Welcome Baby Faye!

Just wanted to let everyone know that Brian's niece, Faye Julia, was born at 12:39 pm on June 10th--her due date & her paternal grandmother's birthday!

She was a healthy 7 lbs., 6 oz. & 21 inches at birth--though she's grown so much these past couple weeks already.

She is such a wonderful little girl & best described as the needed piece that our family was missing. Thank you all for your answered prayers for a healthy baby & a smooth delivery.

Every good gift & every perfect gift is from above...James 1:17

Accordingly, Brian's dad has taken over updating you all on the ins & outs of Brian's recovery journey. Though we will continue to update this blog, please be sure to bookmark & follow Kermit's blog also: Brian's Recovery--Through the Eyes of a Dad. As I said, he's got a Facebook page, so he's gotta have a blog now too, right?

Brian's Dad: Standing Upright

For the first time in nearly seven months, Brian is able to be in an upright position with support from a recently acquired standing frame (see photo). He has already increased his tolerance in the frame to a couple of hours per day. Perhaps, being in an upright position will assist in healing his serious pressure wound. For two months now, this troublesome wound has dominated his time and prevented him from getting into recovery therapies that would put his paralyzed limbs into motion. While healing does continue, the Wound Specialist has not yet ruled out plastic surgery should the healing process stall.

The pressure wound prevented Brian from accompanying me on my visit to Beyond Therapy, a recovery program for spinal cord injury victims located at Shepherd Hospital in Mid-town Atlanta. Brian is on a “waiting list” to enroll. Meanwhile, he is anxious to go to Race to Walk which is located near Charlotte. Trainers at both programs will collaborate. They will use state of the art equipment and vigorous exercise to improve Brian’s overall health and possibly restore some function to his paralyzed legs.

I’ve been able to open channels with some of those involved in research who are seeking a cure for paralysis. There is truly an explosion of activity involving a variety of promising approaches. The findings presented at the latest international conference of neuroscientists were so promising that researchers were gathering in the hallways at break, sketching out their plans for clinical trials.

Our plans and strategies for Brian’s healing are well in place. We just didn’t realize how prolong, troublesome, and at times even scary those issues would be. Brian knows that the recovery road will be long, but he also understands that his goals for acquiring more function can be obtained. Only GOD knows when and to what degree. With faith, Brian, his family and supporters will stay the course.

On behalf of our family, I extend special thanks to those who are donating to Brian’s recovery fund, keeping his recovery efforts (e.g., acquisition of standing frame) on track while our family presses on with the rehabilitation and medical treatments that are necessary and vital. Some of you have given of your time and energy assisting us in helpful and loving ways – looking after our 3 rescue dogs; cutting the grass; sending phone cards; donating items for Brian’s apartment; planning fund raising events; obtaining auction items from the “Canes” (Thank you Carolina Hurricanes!).

Brian has two great friends from Cary living in Charlotte who consistently visit him. Several of you have visited him from out of town. He does so much better in the company of his friends. While it has been wise for him to stay in Charlotte for treatments, his opportunity for interaction with others is much too limited. Your visits are making a positive difference in his life.

Several images from the past several months have been etched into my mind. One of the more vivid just recently occurred at a rehab therapy session. From nearby, I watched Brian lying in a prone position on the floor; rise to his knees; elevate, while rotating his trunk; and then land into his wheel-chair in one nearly continuous motion. I pondered, how could he have possibly done that? By this time, Brian had spotted me. I didn’t wait for that slight wave of his hand, the signal that my young son began using as an eight year old at ball practice to tell Dad it was time to give him space and move on. On this occasion, the tears pooling in my eyes was more than enough to send me on my way.

Thank you each and everyone for your prayers and support,
Kermit – Brian Keeter’s Dad

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thank You from Brian

I apologize that it has taken me so long to add to Kara's blog. Honestly, its been quite an adjustment dealing with the things I have to face for now. Sometimes I feel like it is a bad dream I have not woken up from.

I just wanted to thank you all for the tremendous amount of support I have received since my accident in December. I have been out of the hospital for a couple of months & continue to be pleasantly surprised with the amount of visitors, cards, & financial donations I receive.

I am working hard everyday with outpatient therapy appointments, my own trips to the hospital gym, & with the hopes to start some new recovery therapy soon. It really does continue to be a major adjustment to not be able to do many of the active things I have enjoyed for the majority of my life.

I still remain confident that with a positive attitude & the ongoing support of my friends & family that I am going to get through this challenge & even come out of it all a better person. The road to recovery is going to be a long & challenging one. The wonderful support group I am so fortunate to have in you all is so helpful in providing me the strength to continue working towards it.

Thanks again for your continued prayers, kindness & support,
Brian Keeter

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brian's Dad: Pressure Sore Preventing Recovery Therapies

For seven weeks now, Brian has been in treatment for a severe pressure sore which has him largely confined to bed, lying on his side & stomach--& understandably frustrated. We still do not know if he will be able to avoid plastic surgery or how much longer it will be before he can participate in recovery therapies at Race to Walk, where his paralyzed legs will be put into motion. We do know that severe pressure sores are very slow to heal & can be dangerous, so Brian must abide by the restrictions placed upon him.

Despite this, Brian’s attitude & demeanor are remarkable. I truly have my son back. He rolls with one punch after another with a quiet assurance, taking charge. The dry wit is back, often targeted on me (& I do give him plenty of material). Thankfully, he & his mom have a lot in common. Louane is able to stay steady & confident while helping him gain his independence. Her presence & demeanor are invaluable. As they always have, she & Brian make a great team.

Soon we hope to have a standing frame. The medical literature is well-documented with the health benefits that occur as a result of placing a spinal cord injury patient into a standing position on a routine basis; yet, insurance seldom helps. To some degree, so much of this seems to be common sense. Getting the body into an upright position & putting paralyzed limbs into motion all have well-documented health benefits. Dr. Wise Young of the Spinal Cord Institute at Rutgers University, neuroscientist & former principal physician to Christopher Reeve, commented on the importance of a using a standing frame. He said that the most important singular activity a paraplegic can do to keep their bodies readied for taking advantage of promising emerging therapies is to routinely get into a standing frame--& so Brian will.

Thank you for following this blog & for your continued concern & support for Brian. We will keep you posted. I also find it very encouraging receiving comments from you; thanks very much Sara Ficken for your recent note.

Kermit – Brian’s Dad

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Child-Like Faith

I have to admit that I've been struggling to feel a personal connection with Jesus these past few weeks for reasons I just can't articulate. I've been praying about it, really just asking God to help me feel His presence & His love for Brian, my family, & me. Honestly, the genuine plea of the father of a suffering child in Mark 9:24, "Lord, help my unbelief!," has just constantly been running through my mind.

These past few days, God has really answered this plea by showing His love through the outpouring of generosity of the women at my wonderful church in the surprise celebration of the any-day-now arrival of my daughter (Thank you all!) & the way he touched my son's heart as I have narrated for you below.

Also, as always I have to thank all of you not just for your support of my brother but for the entire family, mine included. Those of you sending notes of encouragement, etc. have no idea how much of a blessing there has been in your timing. Whether you meant to be or not, you were used to answer a prayer!

Anyway, yesterday Owen took a big spill chasing one of our poor dogs down the hall resulting in a big, fat, bloody, busted lip. After consoling my hysterical toddler, I went to start dinner while Owen & his dad crashed Matchbox trucks off of various household items. Here's the dialogue I'm told ensued:

O's Dad: When trucks fall, they don't get hurt. But people & animals can get hurt when they fall. Like Uncle Brian has a pretty bad "bump-bump."

O: Pray for Uncle Brian.

(O's Dad, slightly surprised as we do pray for Brian with Owen in most of his bedtime prayers but honestly it's been quite sometime, as in months, since either of us have prompted Owen about this specifically, proceeds to say a short prayer for Brian.)

O: (Nodding assuredly to his dad) Amen. Uncle Brian feel better.

O's Dad: (Walking into kitchen) Let's go tell Mommy what we just did.

Me: (Putting on my best I'm-so-excited-high-pitched voice while expecting, hoping for "pee-pee in the potty," quite honestly.) What did you do?

O: Pray for Uncle Brian. Uncle Brian feel better.

Wow. It was such a sincere moment, I felt my eyes well up with tears. I guess that's what the Bible means when we are told to have the faith of a child (Matthew 18:1-4). Who cares about that stupid potty anyway?

So, I'm not one looking for signs & wonders (Matthew 12:29), but I'm going to take this touching of my young son's heart as confirmation & answer to my prayer that Brian, life will get better.

Thanks to God & for how He uses so many of you in helping my unbelief!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Guest Post from Brian's Sister, Myra

Myra, Owen, & I had a great visit with Brian late last week & Myra, Brian's youngest sister, wanted to share some reflections on that visit with all of you...

Kara & I visited Brian this week. It was during this particular visit Kara & I made it our mission to arrange for some good ol' family time via a picnic dinner at Carmel Road Park. To prepare for this outing, we headed to the nearest grocery store to pick out an assortment of food. My dad decided to accompany us on this grocery trip to ensure we picked an appropriate dessert; I mean help watch my nephew, Owen (well, he did give Owen a few firm no's when he started punching each & every potato chip bag ;).

Earlier that day, a bunch of us had been talking about what defines people as people. One notion that came up was “walking & standing upright." Although I neither agreed nor disagreed with this statement at the time, I felt something tugging at my heart to scream out "No!". It wasn't until today that I understood why I wanted so strongly to disagree.

When I returned home, I thought nothing of the conversation & went about my business. That night as I prepared for bed, I felt a strong urge to continue with my current studies in Proverbs. Feeling tired & lazy, I chose to ignore that urge & instead opted to close my eyes & go to sleep. As I began drifting off for what I felt was going to be a great night of sleep; I was abruptly awakened. I would lie awake tossing & turning the next thirty minutes wondering why I was struggling to fall back asleep. Unable to fall asleep, I finally decided, okay, fine I will continue reading in Proverbs. Not feeling particular thrilled with my decision, I obligatorily opened my Bible to Proverbs. I began my studies “conveniently” where I left off last in Chapter 6 (For those familiar with Chapter 6, you might understand why I place quotation marks around the word conveniently. Part of this chapter explains how God expects us to use our time. He makes several references to sleeping. Specifically:

Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids (Proverbs 6:4).

How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep (Proverbs 6:9)?

(Well God's to answer that apparently was right now.).

Over the year, my relationship with God has grown. I have developed a more personal relationship with Jesus. It has been through this growth, that I have come to realize God is a funny guy. I find when I least expect it, God reveals himself in ways that make me laugh. To me, this is a strong testament to how God so desires for us to develop a personal relationship with him. God knows that for me personally, humor is a great tool. He knows that I respond well to it & sometimes uses it to teach & motivate me. He also knows that sometimes I need very literal examples to understand the deeper meaning of his words (Hence the irony of Chapter 6). Do I think God expects me to sacrifice sleep? No. But because of this literal example I now better understand what He really means.

I lay awake reading & studying Proverbs for about an hour, reading to about Chapter 15. As I closed my Bible, I began to thank God for all the wisdom He revealed to me through my studies. I also asked him, as he commands in Proverbs 7:1-3, to help me remember His teachings, to be able to use His teachings to uplift others, & bring them into a relationship with Jesus. No sooner could I say amen, my new found wisdom brought me back to that conversation about what makes us human. I, now, undoubtedly understood why I felt the way I did about standing upright & walking as a requirement to be human. I thought of Proverbs 2:6 & 10:

For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding...For wisdom will enter your heart & knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

It is with unwavering confidence I can say “walking & standing upright” does not define us as humans. All one needs to do is look at a monkey, a gorilla, or even a lemur to see they all have the ability to walk upright & yet they do not live as humans. Rather, it is our ability to make choices, to feel an array of emotions, to think, & to communicate that defines us as humans. No other creature comes even remotely close to having the ability to think & communicate with such a freedom & capacity as we do. But God knew this when He created us. That’s why He created a Bible & He's constantly showing us how powerful our own words are.

I know I still have a lot to learn & study, but nowhere in the Bible have I found where God talks about or even emphasizes the importance of walking. Instead I find over & over again how powerful our words are. Our words represent who we are, what is important to us, & how we think of others. Words have the ability to hurt people, to uplift people (such as those kind, encouraging, hopeful, & prayerful words which so many of you have graciously provided for Brian & for us), to bring people closer to or further from God. Proverbs is full of such reminders:

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (12:18).

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up (12:25).

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (15:4).

In this world, I agree walking & standing are important. Our infrastructures are designed based on that functionality. I see this especially as I witness the struggles my brother will face with a wheelchair & I am excited about some of the technological advances that will make mobility more of a reality for him, hopefully in the very near future. However, just as my brother's paralysis is not made for the kind of world we live in neither are we. We are worth more & made for so much more. God shows us that we are to live our lives based on His teachings & not on what the world values (2 Corinthians 1:12). However, in order for us to do this we must have faith in His Son & His promise. Webster defines faith as "something that is believed with strong convection, without question." Unfortunately for many of us our desire to want to have all the answers to our questions before we will believe & the desire to have complete control are the biggest obstacles to faith.

Loyal blog followers will recall that as Brian still struggled to survive in ICU, my dad clung to God's instructions in Proverbs 3:5, ones that continue to be relevant to our coping everyday of this journey.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart & lean not on your own understanding.

God doesn’t expect us to understand everything all at once. He doesn’t want us to waste our time trying to find the answers in life without Him or for us to put hope into things that don’t involve him. God wants us to instead use our time to work on developing a personal relationship with Him & to learn to trust Him. That's why Proverbs 3:6 tells the rest of the story:

In all your ways acknowledge Him & He shall direct your paths.

God teaches us over & over again, particularly in Proverbs, that only through this kind of commitment will we gain the wisdom needed to understand.

To close, I leave you with Proverbs 10:25:

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.

God never promises us a life here free of disappointments & struggles. One look at the indescribable suffering of many innocent that surround us will confirm that; however, what He does promise is an eternal life free of all the horrible stuff.

As I closed my Bible that night, I asked God, “Do you think You could spend some time teaching me a little bit more about Proverbs 3:24?

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down your sleep will be sweet.

A literal example of this teaching was very much needed for my understanding... ;)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Guest Post from Brian's Dad, Kermit

Below my dad wanted to share a little bit more about some of the day-to-day experiences on the road to recovery with Brian (Brian, if you ever read this post please note that these comments are totally unedited--so any & all eye rolls, etc. should be directed specifically to Dad. Thanks. ;).

However, before the below-misadventure begins, on behalf of Brian & the entire family; thank you so much to all of you for all your generous support through gifts made directly to Brian, my parents, & through NTAF.

We have made the PDF of Brian's appeal letter available for anyone interested in printing & sharing with others who may have an interest in helping or soliciting financial assistance for Brian as well.

I am also discussing with my Dad the possibility of starting his own blog to continue sharing some of the day-to-day encounters of this ever odd couple. I mean, heck, he's on Facebook now, why wouldn't he have a blog, right?

So, please stay tuned...

In no way can I come close to duplicating Kara's writings in this blog. Not only did she pen Brian's initial steps on his long road towards recovery, but she's provided a testimony for our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.

Kara is nearing the projected date for Faye's (our granddaughter) arrival. So for the time being, I (Brian's Dad) will share with you Brian's recovery efforts. I do so believing that others seeking hope for recovery from paralysis will find this epic beneficial. My belief of at least partial cures for paralysis is not emulating from a grieving father desperate for hope. Rather, it is based upon hours & hours of research, venturing into the worlds of neuroscience & bioengineering. God willing, Brian will be successful in his recovery efforts against tough odds as will others via emerging therapies. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

First Father-Son Outing:
As Brian & I neared the entrance to Harris-Teeter, I wondered if he would cling close to me. The answer came quickly--it was as if the checkered flag had been waved. I barely caught a glimpse of him as he wheeled deep into Aisle 2. A glimpse of my reflection in a mirror offered a reasonable explanation. Was it me or Christoper Lloyd ("Back to the Future") staring back? I had dressed for my best impression of a crazed scientist or an old man recently escaped from confinement. Unkempt with much too long white hair was accented by my attempts to pass off bedroom slippers as real shoes. I much prefer sweat pants to slacks and yes, pulled well high as was the custom in the 1960s. My t-shirt read: "in the absence of horizontal thermal advection, diabactic processes determine precipitation type" - "geek speak" for will it be rain, sleet, or snow?
Okay then, I would keep my distance. However, Brian's whereabouts were easily traceable from his dropping items into our grocery basket--Fruity Pebbles, Vienna Cream Cookies, Edy's frozen lime Popsicles. As his items continued to fill the basket, the thought occurred to me--was he testing me in public? Would this crazed looking old guy tell the well-kept & nice looking young man in the wheel chair, enough already; put it back!

For our next outing, maybe a remote public park where no Fruity Pebbles are in reach would be a better venue? Maybe you all have ideas for Brian & Kermit's next outing on Brian's road into the future & on toward recovery?

Friday, May 1, 2009

In Memory of Savannah

Just wanted to inform you all that little Savannah passed away early Thursday morning.

Thank you so much to so many of you who inquired about her periodically & prayed for her & her family.

Please continue to pray for Savannah's family as they process such a tremendous loss.

If you have moment, I encourage you to read her mother's post about Savannah's passing:

What a comfort to know that this special little girl is in no more pain & with her Savior...

What an amazing testimony of faith this family is for all of us during such a time of grief & tragedy...

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Asking for Help

First, I am sorry that it has been so long since my last post. My family & I have actually been down to Charlotte to see Brian a lot these past couple of months, trying to fit in as many visits as we can before the baby comes early June. I honestly don't know where the time has gone.

Brian continues to hang in there. About a month ago, he really seemed to be processing that a wheelchair may be part of his life for quite sometime. Obviously there is a lot of grieving involved in a loss such as this (or the gain of a necessary & cumbersome piece of equipment, rather). He continued making good efforts at physical therapy & was even getting out more--he's visited a biblical, loving church near the apartment, Church at Charlotte, a couple of times, made it out for a few meals, & even went for an appointment with the stylist that cuts his hair. One weekend we also hit Sports Connection, where he watched his nephew tear up some kiddie arcade basketball hoops. I even remember a close game of air hockey (I think Owen let Brian, I mean, Brian let Owen win. :). We even got him to the Charlotte Spinal Cord Injury Support Group that meets monthly. All of the people there are so wonderful in their willingness to help, share experiences, & positive attitudes in spite of their tragic stories. I know they are a tremendous support for my parents also.

Unfortunately, the momentum Brian was slowly starting to build kind of came to an abrupt halt. He's continued to hit setbacks that come with the territory of paralysis that temporarily keep him in bed more than we'd all hoped. It's been pretty frustrating for him & for all of us that love him to see him still facing such physical hardship. Admittedly, medical care, amazing as it is in this country, continues to be slow at times but with his dad's persistence, we are hopeful he's finally got the equipment & services he needs to heal & get on with life.

He is able to still do some minimal therapy & be up for short periods of time. This & a portable ramp built by my husband (which also doubled nicely as a great Matchbox car accessory for the kids), allowed us to have a nice Easter brunch last weekend at our wonderful aunt & uncle's home as a family. Don't get me wrong, Brian's one bedroom apartment is really nice--but it was so great to be in the beautiful home of some amazing family to celebrate Easter this year. Who knew his sister Leah could bake such a wonderful coconut cake & Myra actually knows how to work a stove?

Going through something like this made Easter so much more meaningful than ever before. There is so much pain, suffering, & sorrow in this world, no doubt, but we are so blessed to serve a God who loves us so much that he sacrificed Himself & conquered IT ALL for us to never have to experience it again.

These verses were part of my pastor's reading last night & for me just sums all this up:

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, & He will dwell with them, & they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them & be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha & the Omega, the Beginning & the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, & I will be his God and he shall be My son (Revelation 21:3-7).

Knowing this just makes spring blooms that much bolder & brighter too.

We have so many people to thank as well, I just don't even know where to start. The generosity we've been shown is endless--from my parents being given a second car (A 1995 Ford Taurus that honestly runs like a champ & has a personality to boot!) to ease the sharing of one car for driving back & forth split shifts to stay with Brian to weekly meals by families from another wonderful Charlotte church, Forest Hill Church (Their timing is always a blessing too as they usually seem to deliver a meal when it's Brian & his dad :). Brian's also been given many items needed to furnish (& clean) an apartment. Really the list is endless. We are so thankful for all of your assistance & I know Brian himself plans to communicate that & how he is doing with all of you soon.

Yet in spite of all so many of you have already done, you ask to do more. So many of us have such a hard time admitting when we need help & being willing to take up others on that offer. I think that's why God advises us so much against pride. He honestly didn't make the rules outlined in the Bible to take the fun out of life (though I too, used to think that...). He made them to protect us from being hurt & unfilled. Pride keeps us from accepting the help we need--from Him, from others.

I remember one of the SCI support group attendees telling the story of being so excited she got her license & vehicle modifications to drive again. She loved the freedom of being able to just go to the grocery store. So she couldn't reach the cheese she wanted from the wheelchair? She simply waited till someone walked by & asked them to get it for her (Did I mention that the Bible also tells us that going through trials produces patience? James 1:2-4 ;). She got what she needed & often she found people enjoyed being able to help her in a way that was needed, real, & appreciated.

I see that same willingness in all of you & in so many strangers when we do go out with Brian (In his "scooter," as Owen calls it--we read a lot of Go, Dog. Go! around here.). We know & Brian is learning that in order for life to go on in spite of this loss, it's okay to ask for & accept the generous offers of others to help.

The overall financial hardship associated with spinal cord injuries is overwhelming. First year expenses alone average $283,388 and life expenses for paraplegics cost over $700,000 (National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, 2009). We have set up a fundraising campaign for Brian through the Catastrophic Injury Program of the National Transplant Assistance Fund (NTAF). This money will be used for recovery therapies, medical equipment to lead to greater independence, & therapies that promote Brian's health.

Brian's NTAF page can be accessed directly or by visiting & typing "Keeter" in the box on the lefthand side of the page. In the near future, we also will be starting a website to keep you more regularly posted of Brian's progress in addition to some periodic updates through the blog. On the webpage, we will also include a pdf copy of the letter posted on Brian's NTAF page that you may download to pass on to those you know who might be moved to give in Brian's situation. I will be sure to let you know when the webpage is up & running.

We are so grateful not only for any financial, tax-deductible donations you make on Brian's behalf but also any volunteer fundraising efforts with which you would be able to spearhead or assist. If you are interested in facilitating a fundraising event, please feel free to call Brian's parents at 919.413.3563 or email us at Part of NTAF services include a personal representative (Susann Reiher, 800.642.8399, to also assist in ideas & materials for fundraising purposes specifically for Brian & his situation with whom you may also speak directly.

Again, thank you isn't enough to express how indebted we are to all of your love, support, generosity, & prayers. We thank you for continuing to be so interested & concerned with Brian, even four months after this life changing event first transpired.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Digs

Well, Brian's officially had his 1st week or so out of the hospital & in the apartment. For those of you wanting to continue send him well-wishes & making the effort to visit, both of which are always much appreciated & encouraging:

Brian Keeter
4441 Mullens Ford Road
Apt. A
Charlotte, NC 28226

He will be based in the apartment the next few months while he pursues intensive outpatient therapy. We will be visiting him next week but I hear from his sister, Leah, who spent last weekend with him & his parents (who are staying with him temporarily while he continues to adjust & becomes more independent), that it is a nice place. It is also close to the hospital.

Again, thank you to those of you who help with the move in the many ways that you do. I also want to let those who have inquired know that we still plan to start an NTAF fund for Brian to allow those interested in donating financially to facilitate his medical care & rehab expenses not covered by insurance or Medicaid. Brian's dad very much wants everyone to understand exactly what it is they would be contributing to & continues to work to compile materials to help explain what physical therapies, equipment, & other expenses with which Brian could use assistance. As soon as he is ready, I will share the links to those materials here.

Brian's currently doing therapy three times a week at Carolinas Rehab but supplements this by taking advantage of the "free" work-out times without a therapist or appointment to work out on his own as well. Next week, he will take an official tour of Race to Walk in Mooresville, where he also will have therapy while in Charlotte. Finally, he's officially on the approximate month-long wait list to start the well-respected & intensive therapy program at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Brian is fortunate enough to have some great family & friends in that area as well to help keep him company when Shepherd has the space for him to attend. All three of these places have graciously agreed to coordinate together to streamline Brian's therapy routines, maximizing even more hopes for a strong physical recovery.

As for apartment living, Brian, being Brian, won't tell you much, though he will say it is a lot harder than he ever thought it would be. He needs help with a lot more than he realized (Note this is also coming from someone with a spinal cord injury who left the rehab hospital significantly stronger & much more capable than many other patients in similar circumstances do, according to many of the therapists with whom he worked closely.).

Just prior to his release, they discovered an atypical bone growth in his hip, for which he is receiving therapy & medication that has unfortunately hindered his progress. Apparently, this sort of growth is normal for such circumstances; however, it will take some time before medicine & therapy combat the stiffness it creates in his leg, making it that much harder for him to maneuver.

His spirits are understandably up & down as can be expected & he remains in a lot of pain. He has been told by many sources that the sooner you start recovery efforts, the greater the chances are for more recovery. We won't know for quite sometime what mobility benefits he'll regain from intensive therapy but for now he has committed to making this his focus the next few months--as much as resources & time allow.

I'm going to be blunt & say that I know many of you honestly think that life in a wheelchair would be worse than a death sentence (including Brian at times), but I firmly disagree. Not only have we learned of so many personal stories of hope, success, & perseverance in spite of from volunteers at the hospital & some notable public figures, but I know that God saved Brian's life for a purpose & that he's not finished here (Romans 8:28). I've really seen Brian working hard, trying to be more positive & to trust in the Lord, particularly in the last few days. These are, for me, some answered prayers.

He did exit the hospital with what I think is some exciting news though (He'd probably roll his eyes to read this--but, that's Brian, right?). You may recall that he started in the rehab hospital with an injury at T-10 & T-11. They did one final assessment before he left & determined his new injury at T-11 & T-12, one step down from the initial diagnosis! He also experiences some tingling in his legs & feet following his sessions on the functional electronic stimulation bike. Hey, no one said this would happen overnight, & it may not happen here, but we know it will happen someday (Isaiah 35:6).

With all Brian has been going through & the other personal accounts we see around us of people we know, love, or admire experiencing unimaginable suffering & hope (I'm sure many of you read the recent news article on Rodney Rogers), I've been reflecting a lot recently again on prayer. I'll be honest. I'm not good at praying. I'm easily distracted & I sometimes just don't know what to ask, just to name a couple of issues (So I really love that the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf, Romans 8:26 & that God, in His infinite knowledge, also knows my needs, Matthew 6:8--there's actually a bunch of great stuff on praying in this chapter.). As such, God's just really spoken to me personally through some daily studies, sermons by my pastor, & teachings by his wife that tell me I need to make it more of a priority.

I attempted (via texting, of course) to try & explain prayer to my brother a couple of weeks ago. I know God answers prayer, not just from my experience when pregnant with my son, being told he may not survive the pregnancy (He's a thriving 19-month old now!) & not even knowing if my brother would live (He's recovering!), but also from the Bible. In 1 John 5:14-15, we are told:

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Prayers are how we talk to God. God always hears our prayers, I mean, He's God! The bigger issue & I think is when we confuse God's ability to hear with our ability to hear & accept His answers.

Just as we talk to God through our prayers, He talks to us through His Word (John 1:1-3, 14). God also is a gentleman who respects our free agency. Though always possible, I think most Christians would say that He rarely speaks to us personally with a booming voice preceded by thunder & lightning. It makes me think of the story of Elijah. He'd done all these amazing things for God & for whatever reason, threats on his life from Jezebel sent him running for the hills, praying for God to take his life. When God spoke to Him to find out why he was hiding, it wasn't through the strong wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, it was in "a still, small voice" that came after all of these things. Thankfully, Elijah had been in the mountains long enough that he was tuned out from the cares of the world enough to hear Him (1 Kings 19:12).

We, too, have to block out the distractions of the world to both speak to & hear God. That can be really hard to do. We also have to be willing to accept the answers to our prayers. It might be no when we want yes. It could be wait, when we want answers now.

Bottom line, there's nothing wrong with asking for a miracle. God hears that request & loves for you to speak with him not matter what. You just have be prepared to listen for His answers & trust that they are in His love. Some people get their miracles (such as the many miracles of Jesus that are just too lengthy to list) & some don't (2 Corinthians 12:9). Even Jesus asked God for another way to save us all from our sins, though when told no, he accepted God's answer & that His will would be done. I think it's also interesting to note, that even though God said no, he still sent an angel to comfort & strengthen Jesus as that dark & painful hour approached (Luke 22:42-43).

I am also finding that God uses the testimony of others in suffering to also strengthen my desire to be more diligent in prayer. Take for instance, Savannah.

I know her mom has been so busy dealing with the day to day doings that follow being told your sweet, innocent, beautiful nine year old daughter is going to die, perhaps any day now, from an incurable mitochondrial disease that may also affect your other small children as well, that she hasn't kept the blog as frequently updated. I've been blessed to get some emails that more regularly update me about her situation. To sum it up, that initial medical prognosis was about a month ago.

Well, just last week, her family has been learning how to take care of her at home so that she may be released...not in perfect health mind you, but in good enough shape to receive care at home, & spend some quality time with her family before she returns to her heavenly home (2 Corinthians 5:8). Please keep praying for them as they continue to hit roadblocks such as infections & fevers that seem to hamper the progress Savannah is making to allow her some quality time with family & friends before she passes. Please also know that her family repeatedly asserts they know this quality time with the Savannah is an answered prayer from God. Even more amazing, they commit themselves to enjoying every minute of it before she returns home with the Lord rather than dwelling on the understandable hurts & the whys. I cannot tell you how their unwavering faith so strengthens me.

Thank you as always for your continued interest & support in Brian's journey & please continue to pray for him, for Savannah, for Rodney, their families & the countless others we know enduring...

Monday, March 2, 2009

REVISED Release Date: 03.05.09

So, with the weekend rain & early morning snow, Brian's release has been postponed to Thursday, March 5th.

Many thanks to all of those working around the weather to help move in some heavy furniture this week.

Will be sure to let you know how it goes...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Release Date: 03.03.09

Assuming nothing monumental happens over this weekend, Brian is set to be released from Carolinas Rehab on Tuesday, March 3rd, marking the end to an 80-day hospital stay. Though he's understandably daunted by leaving a world where wheelchairs are the norm for one where they are anything but, I think at the same time he's grown weary of the hospital setting.

Again, I have to constantly remind myself to look back to day 1 of this 80-day journey so far & thank God for even getting us here. It doesn't hurt to remind him & all of us, especially when we feel so bummed out by what he's facing & how he's feeling, that he shouldn't even be alive. God has been so faithful in answering our prayers & giving Brian outcomes greater than ever anticipated by so many medical experts thus far.

I pray everyday that Brian will come to see how God has interceded in Brian's life in answer to our prayers (he honestly has no memory at all of more than half of this extended hospital stay) & encourage Brian to experience first hand what God will do for him--not just physically but even more importantly, spiritually--as he comes to lean more on Him as well.

[Through] the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. [They are] new every morning; Great [is] Your faithfulness. "The LORD [is] my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" The LORD [is] good to those who wait for Him, To the soul [who] seeks Him. [It is] good that [one] should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD (Lamentations 3:22-26).

I really love those verses. Really, really do.

Next week, Brian will be moving into a small, one bedroom apartment not far from the hospital to try life in Charlotte the next few months. His dad & other family members will most likely be spending a good deal of time with him initially (yes, in a one bedroom apartment--yikes ;), helping him adjust & get settled. From what I understand, with the help of one of the doctors, his dad arranged for the complex to install an iron gate that will close off the apartment's small patio so that Rocco (his Rottweiler mix--the dog that was supposed to be so tough but is about as dopey & lovable as they get, sorry Brian, had to say it ;) can spend some time there with him also. It's been a long time since Rocco & Brian have been together--reunited & it feels so good, right?

Thanks, as always, to those of you who have already been so helpful in securing some much-needed items for Brian's apartment. Though he had been planning to move in with a friend before the accident, he had been staying with family in Charlotte for awhile trying to secure more steady employment in commercial real estate, so he definitely appreciates the assistance in equipping a place of his own.

This move truly marks a new phase in Brian's journey, one we can expect to be rocky, at best, for quite sometime, particularly for the first year. The hospital stay was all about rehabilitating him from the trauma of the accident & learning how to live with paralysis--no easy tasks, no doubt--but also nothing compared to the recovery journey that lies ahead.

Once released, Brian will be taking part in ongoing outpatient therapy meant to help him regain as much use of his lower body as possible given the severity of the spinal compression--the true initiation of recovery. Most of his therapy will continue at Carolinas Rehab in Charlotte. Unfortunately, insurance & Medicaid only pay so much of this process, most insurance companies consider their responsibilities complete with the discharge from rehab & successful transition to life in a wheelchair. Thus, the rest is often left up to the patient to find a way to cover.

Thus, he & his dad also will begin looking into what programs are available both locally & nationally to help him really recover what he's lost. I'm sure Brian's dad could tell you a lot more than I can, but in summary, for now they are leaning towards exercise-based therapy programs founded upon the premise that the spinal cord is a much more intelligent organ than given credit & that getting people with paralysis out of their chairs & moving in ways they used to helps it remember how to do a lot of the things it forgot.

For those interested, here are some examples of programs & facilities that offer the sort of things they would be looking into:

Project Walk (San Diego, CA)
Shepherd Center (Atlanta, GA)
Race to Walk (Mooresville, NC--& just a cool story about an NC family who recently started this program after experiencing their own paralyzing catastrophe).

Brian also will need access to some rather expensive & specialized equipment, once again, not often covered by insurance. Once he & his dad get settled this week following his discharge, I hope to post more specifics on all of this for all of you so generously wanting to help.

Of course, I also will be sure to let you all know how the "roomies" are doing.

Finally, I must say thanks once again to all of you for your ongoing support & prayers for Brian, these gestures are so incredibly integral to his difficult recovery journey.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sprung for Valentine's Day

This weekend was another visit of ups & downs, I think. Probably the unexpected course to expect for the next few months (at least) as Brian & those who love & support him continue to adjust to life with a spinal cord injury.

Initially the rehab center planned to release Brian mid-February; however, last week they decided to keep him until sometime next week. I'm hesitant to state dates because they are constantly changing (& he hit a couple minor health snags that should be resolved before that time but if not, will postpone his discharge) though I'll be sure to let everyone know when that release date does actually seem approaching & concrete.

In the meantime you can continue to reach him through the Carolinas Rehab Hospital though be sure to check with the front reception desk for his room. He was moved to another room last week (One they first planned to place him & three other patients in--he & his dad quickly advocated for that situation & were able to secure him another private room.) as they begin massive construction in this part of the facilities.

Owen, Brian T., & I got in to Charlotte in time to get Brian out for dinner in the main hospital cafeteria along with a high school friend of Brian's who stopped by on her way out of town Friday evening. Brian seemed in decent spirits, it doesn't hurt to watch 18-month old Owen go screeching, toddling, screeching, running, screeching, falling, screeching, & jumping through the long tunnel you take to reach the main hospital building (It's those great echos, I think.). And though a rehab gym isn't high on many people's most exciting places to be list--let me tell you--it's a veritable gymboree heaven for a toddler, especially playing with his grandpa.

Brian had planned to spend most of Saturday morning apartment hunting in Charlotte with my parents & aunt. He was understandably pensive about how it was going to go--getting in & out of the car for frequent stops & for the 1st time with a wheelchair. Unfortunately, some pretty severe pain issues (more severe than he'd experienced in quite sometime though his upper body muscles are in a lot of tight soreness from working them all the time) that morning kept the doctor from feeling comfortable to release him to go.

Though he was daunted by the realities of this outing, I think he ended the day more frustrated at the pain & setbacks than anything, which I think can be seen as good progress in his recovery & adjustment. Just last week, I don't think he was ready to leave the familiarity of the hospital setting, this weekend I noticed a much more intense desire to just get out of there & get on with it, even though he's not anywhere near the physical healing he'd like.

Given the cabin fever, Eliana, Brian T., Owen, & I--with Brian's full cooperation--sprung him for Valentine's Day dinner out. The rebels we were, we didn't even check him out (& funny enough when we got back so many staff who've grown so found of Brian were all quite excited to hear that he'd gone).

Given our limited options within walking distance of the hospital, we made our way to Outback. After an hour wait, we got a perfect table & had a very nice dinner, one where I think all of us sorta forgot all we've been through two months ago to the very day. Logistically, it wasn't even that bad to pull off. Admittedly, I found the glances at "that disabled guy" as Brian so poetically expressed it much more minimal & friendly than I honestly expected. I guess it helps that we don't see him that way anyway, I mean, he's our Brian.

All in all, I consider it a great success. I mean, we picked his 1st non-rehab related outing to be at peak dinner hour, on a Saturday night, on Valentine's Day no less! I think it was a confidence booster for him. If that went as smoothly as it did, maybe he just doesn't have so much too worry about after all...

(I do have a confession to make though--we left with a few items we did not start with: Owen stole the waiter's pen & Brian unknowingly lifted his table linen. We didn't notice the linen till we were clear out the door! Oops. ;)

Typically, I must admit that I do not care in the least for Valentine's Day, but this one was quite an exception. When your son comes toddling in out of nowhere, hands you a card & a box of candy, well, that's just heart-warming (Thanks, Daddy.). When you have the opportunity to go to dinner & witness the genuine love between your shouldn't-even-be-alive brother & his absolutely-amazing-&-adorable girlfriend, well, that's heart melting. Even Owen was so touched, I think he literally crawled across the table at least twice to kiss his "Uncle Sad." (Long story, reference the Said No Better post :).

It makes me think to of how there are so many references to God's love in the Bible--not just the New Testament. He repeatedly begs those in the Old Testament to turn back from their sinful ways & into His loving arms, that he'd forgive them but for whatever reason, we just can't do it. We can't do it but he loves us even still & so He's done it for us. That's why God provided us the sacrifice of His Son.

I know Brian is trying to reconcile his new life with the concept of a loving God. I think a lot of us impacted by Brian's accident, believers or not, struggle with the same thing. There are so many wonderful ways to explore this concept:
  • To seek out others experiencing suffering but also believing in God's love & purpose. For example, I read the FAQs on the Joni & Friend's web page in the car home yesterday (I previously & mistakenly identified Joni Eareckson Tada as becoming a quadriplegic from a car accident, it was actually a diving accident.). If not able to read the whole thing, please scroll down to the Disability & the Subject of Healing section. She's a powerful testimony for us all, no doubt.
  • To attend a church or listen to pastoral teachings that will help motivate & grow your faith. Any church that focuses on Biblical teachings is a great place to start.
Just to name a few.

The simplest one though? Just remember the cross.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends...No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you (John 15:13, 15).

When you feel you've been dealt a rough hand in life, that life doesn't matter, & no one cares, all you have to do is bring yourself back to that cross.

Thank you all again for the love you continue to show Brian & our family. Please check back soon as I will be updating with information about Brian's potential upcoming discharge once we know more.

Also, so many of you have been insistent about wanting to contribute to Brian financially (& so many of you already have so generously given, especially considering economic circumstances right now). We are in the process this week of setting up a tax-deductible, medical-expense based account in Brian's honor with a highly recommended organization that will also work with those creative, ambitious, & wishing to facilitate various fund-raising events. The link to that information will also be posted here.

Finally, some of you may recall the little girl, Savannah, I mentioned earlier in the blog. She had started to show some signs of improvement & the doctors were appearing to possibly be closer to a diagnosis. However, I just learned that she is showing some more serious symptoms once again that has warranted replacing the breathing tube & putting her back into pediatric intensive care. As you remember & pray for Brian, please also pray for her health & for the strength of her family. Like Joni Tada, they are another amazing testimony of faith in God's will during incomprehensibly difficult situations.