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.