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.


  1. good for you kara

    thanks for the update

  2. Earlier today I sent the following in an email to the Webbs (Kara and her husband Brian, who is my nephew). Kara wrote back saying she thought others who are following this story of her brother's recovery might be interested in the story I wrote. So here it is:

    Dear Kara and Brian,

    I just read the Brian update. Kara, you are a marvelous writer/reporter! I was interested that you are getting inspiration from Joni Tada. I was with her about 20 years ago. There are a bunch of coincidences: six degrees of separation kind of thing between the Keeters and Joni. John and Elizabeth Sanden, with whom you had coffee when you visited me in NYC, put on a large conference about painting about 20 years ago, and invited me to give a talk about the history of painting. The event was in a hotel in Chicago. It had a Christian thread woven through, and one of the keynote speakers was Dr. Bryant Kirkland, Pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church (where the Sandens and I were members), whom the Sandens also brought to Chicago for the event. The other keynoter was Joni Tada, who learned to paint with her teeth after she became a quadriplegic.

    Although I met Joni, I did not have an opportunity to talk with her for very long. What I remember is how absolutely helpless she was from the neck down, yet she overcame that to participate fully in the complex task of speaking to a large audience. She was strong, interesting and inspiring. That was a long time ago, yet based on her website that I just looked at, she continues at full pace. What an inspiration! Her strength is, of course, in the Lord - as is all of ours.