31 January 2011

Birthday party!

Saturday my brother Daniel turned 29 on the 29th!  He was living it up in Hawaii so we had his birthday party yesterday.  Daniel is #2 of five for my parents.  It is always a lot of fun to get together with the family and always fun to see Daniel and my Dad!  (Happy Birthday Dan!)

Last week when we went to Provo to see the Carl Bloch exhibit, we turned out stirring renditions of "Stars and Stripes Forever" the whole way home in the car, which was about an hour drive.  We had such a great time with that and we have been scooby-be-do-be-do! Ba-do-ba-do-bah-ing every song we can think of.  Last night we started with the military songs singing "From the halls of Montezuma" and "Anchors Aweigh!" It was so much fun!  It was real sweet because as we were singing and having a good time with it, he got serious and said "Are you teaching your children these songs?"  I said I wasn't, but I teach them other good American songs (when Charity was not even two she was singing "You're A Grand Old Flag!" the whole way through!) but that I would start teaching the military songs.  He told me how he thought it was really important for me to teach my children about the military and to be thankful for the people who serve.

Oddly enough I had been telling Charity earlier about children who have moms or dads in the war.  I was telling her how we should be thankful for the children and the parents who serve our country and work to keep us free.  I really do appreciate the military folks, so much!  I get so choked up when I think about the men and boys in the revolutionary war.  (By the way Johnny Tremain is a great read)  Even School House Rock has a song that gets my eyes misty!  "Take your powder, take your sons, report to General Washington!  Hurry men, there's not an hour to lose!"  I feel so thankful for people who will send their husbands and sons to fight for our freedoms.  I love living in America. Now my Dad is about to send a son off to the Navy.  I am so happy and really proud of my brother John.  It  means everything to me to have people risk losing everything for me and for my children.  Really, that is what these people do.  They risk their opportunity to grow old with the person they love.  To hold their children, to play games with them, to read and to teach them.  They risk it all because of the love of freedom they have.  I know their sacrifices will not be forgotten by God and they should not be by man.  I thank Heavenly Father for allowing us to live in the unprecedented freedom that we have here today.  I know it has been better, I don't pretend things are great and perfect, but this still is the greatest place to live and I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have been born in America into a Christian family.

What this all has to do with my Dad is that he and I were talking about this last night.  It still means so much to him and I am glad he took the time to teach me to pause and reflect on the gifts so many others have given me and my family.  My Dad's dad was in the Navy during WWII and my Mom's dad drove tanks in the Army.  I have always loved the 4th of July.  It is my favorite!  I know that love began at the feet of my Dad, observing and watching the reverence and respect he has for those who keep us safe.  We sincerely and earnestly thank God for these awesome people!

Because of my little brother, my bumper sticker reads:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of all who threaten it.
                                 The Navy

Dance party!

Need I say more?

No, but I will!  These impromptu dance parties are a Smith favorite!  We would crank up the radio and dance wherever we were.  Once one of my brothers got a strobe light and we had so much fun with that!  I don't remember if we ever danced to Zap and Rogers (and  I know about them from forced listening by Ammon when we were in high school together) but we always had a great time!  I'm just sorry I missed this one, but obviously our old Dad has still got his moves! 

27 January 2011

Great day with Dad!

Dalton and Dad (with an Austin scowl in the back :)
Yesterday my brother in-law Dalton (19) left to serve a two-year LDS mission to Independence, Missouri.  Before he was dropped off at the MTC everyone went to lunch.  My Dad and I got to go together and we had so much fun!  My Dad definitely has not lost his sense of humor.  It is fun to me to watch him interact with friends and how he still loves to make people laugh!  It is great to see his personality shining through all the confusion.  He is awesome!

Afterward we went to the BYU Museum of Art to walk through the Carl Bloch exhibit.  It was incredible!  I have long admired paintings I didn't know he created.  It was an incredible experience!  We were able to stand in front of many of his original alter paintings and sketches.  I enjoyed being there with my Dad so much.  It was wonderful to take in the beauty and the depth of feeling in these marvelous paintings.
Dad standing on the balcony at the Museum of Art. Below us was the Carl Bloch exhibit.
Years ago, I decided on a favorite religious painting.  I didn't know it was a Carl Bloch.  The original is owned by the BYU MOA and I have seen it before.  The title is Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda. I was really touched while we were standing in front of this painting, my Dad and I.  I thought back to the reason I had decided on this painting as my favorite.  It touched my heart to think of the hope in this painting.  Observing a scene as the Savior took up a man, sick for 38 years, and healed him.  I am touched to think that after 38 years of waiting and hoping that this man had enough faith still to be healed by the Savior.  So as I looked at it, and my Dad looked at it, I thought of us all.  How all God's children will be blessed.  Because of Jesus Christ we have the hope of having resurrected bodies that won't have diseases or deformities or strokes or anything else.  I am so grateful for the Atonement and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for the Holy Ghost which makes the truth of all things known unto all who ask.  I so love the Savior, and knowing what He has done for us just makes me want to be called His friend.  I want to defend Him, I want to talk reverently about Him and help others to know of the wonderful blessings we have from Him.  He truly is wonderful!  He is indeed the Prince of Peace.

I am so thankful I was able to spend over two hours walking through the exhibit again and again.  It was fun to see my Dad so drawn to the beauty of the paintings and so interested in their creator, Carl Bloch.  My Dad actually has a favorite painting as well, and it was done by Carl Bloch.  I don't know the title of it and they didn't have it on display, but I am glad we got to do something together that my Dad and I really enjoyed doing together.

24 January 2011

Good, bad, and ugly days

As I have written, right after my Dad's hemorrhagic stroke, almost everything was up in the air.  One day would be good and the next awful.  The smart, smart doctor up there kept telling us that.  "You shouldn't count on a good day tomorrow just because today was," she'd say.  I appreciated that because it helped me to try and  keep my emotions at a plateau and not get overly excited or overly blue.

Well, that is still true!  Just because today is a good day for Dad doesn't mean tomorrow will be.  Or today being a bad day doesn't mean tomorrow will be.  True for all of us, eh?  But with TBI's it is all up and down, up and down, down and up!  One day is spent laughing and laughing then the next in crying and frustration.

I don't know what all of this means, except that we should trust even more in the Great God who gave us life!  I am glad that my curiosity does not lead me to dwell on wondering why things happened.  I hope it never, ever does!  Because the truth is that we don't know!  Neal A. Maxwell was afflicted with cancer and when asked if he ever wondered "why me?" he responded "Well, why not me?"  Our God who can see the end from the very beginning knows all things, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Even with all that changes and happens in our lives we still can know that He is there, He is constant, and He is watching over all.

Trials and challenges are not unique to my family and I know that.  Just today a family friend sent me an e-mail and shared with me some things about her own father and his memory loss.  I feel so much for the people who are aware enough to know what they have lost.

Everyone has their own mountains to climb but the thing that brings us all together is the brotherhood of all man, the knowledge of the truth that we are all God's children.  The absolute truth that we can look to God and receive His mercy.

I found this hymn at a challenging time for me and I have always loved the comfort and reassurance it gives.

Come, ye disconsolate where'er ye languish;
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts,  here tell your anguish,
Earth has no sorrow that heav'n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, Light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
"Earth has no sorrow that heav'n cannot cure."

Here see the Bread of Life; see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav'n can remove.

Thomas Moore and Thomas Hastings

Quotable Quote

You know how every once in a while, you see something or read something that touches your heart?  Well I saw this today and to tie it in with the blog I will say this: I am so thankful that it is true for me and true for my brothers!

"Let us all hope that we are preceded in this world by a love story."

20 January 2011

Hearts for Dad!

When in the NCCU and fresh out of brain surgery, one doctor said "I beg you for patience."  With brain injuries, they just have no way of knowing what will happen at all.  Including whether he would live or die!  That was hard to wait through. Each day was filled with terribly heavy emotions.  I am thankful for my Allen family and my BFF/soul sister Mish who took great care of my children during those days so that I could be near my Dad and with my Mom as much as possible.  Thank you Lord, for putting such excellent people in my life!

I think the collecting of hearts started with the rock Sam brought in.  He brought in this little stone that came from somewhere and looked like a nature shaped heart.  We got talking about the ribbons and such that we wear to remember people or causes, and we decided that within our family we wanted to collect hearts for that purpose. To remember our Dad in the hospital and to remember to pray for him.  Now I look at them and think it is a perfect symbol for who has always been and for who is he now: a very loving man with a heart as big as the whole outdoors!  Somehow choosing that symbol and then looking for it was something that was very helpful.  We got quite a collection too, and I am sure we will keep adding to it.  He was just laying there day after day and week after week not moving at all and, in a coma so his chest was home to our heart collection for a while.  This photograph of my collection at home doesn't look too amazing, but I left out lots of things for the purpose of having the picture make some sense!

What I have to say now has very little to do with this post, but isn't that "I Am Loved" pin great?!  I love those so much!  I pinned it on the hospital gown he was wearing while he was in a coma and I sure loved seeing it there.  He is loved!  You are too!

A sound heart is the life of the flesh
~Proverbs 14:30

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts
~Colossians 3:15

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another (and Him!)
~1 John 4:11


19 January 2011

Silver lining: found another!

Yesterday I loaded up the littles and we headed to my parents house for the day.  While my Mom watched my two children I took my Dad out to do some stuff.  It was a ton of fun!  I love being with him!  He asked me if I would take him to the hospital and show him where he was in a coma.  We started to drive up and he changed his mind.  So we turned around.  Then he said he wanted to be brave and do it.  So we did!  One of the two rooms he had in the NCCU was open and the nurse let us go in and stand there a while.  It was amazing to be there again with my Dad standing up this time.  The last time I had seen him in that room he had tubes in his nose,  throat, neck, head, arms, "blah blah blah blah blah blah blah" (a Groundhog Day quote there :).  I had, in fact, been looking at a picture taken of him in that room earlier in the day and I had a really clear remembrance of what it was like spending those days in there wondering what in the world would happen.

Dad and James in their sweet hats
I really don't mean to make light of the hemorrhagic stroke, or the traumatic brain injury, or anything else.  But I have to say, that maintaining a sense of humor can make things really fun and really funny.  Dad will often say the craziest things.  Such as (and this type of thing is the "silver lining" I'm talking about) walking into the hospital he said "Now, if you see any nurses or people that took care of me here I want you to point them out."  Okay, no problem.  As we walked into the main hospital foyer, he gets a big smile on his face and starts waving at this nice looking older woman who looked like she was visiting too.  "Hi, Sharon!" he says.  Then he turns to me "She was one of my favorite nurses in here. I think.  But if she wasn't that is what I want to do when I see my favorite nurses."  It was funny.  Then in the NCCU we ran into a man there who helped coordinate things.  He recognized us and said hello, told my Dad he looked great and added "But you were pretty out of it, I wouldn't expect you to remember me."  Dad replied "Well, I do remember this real ugly guy with about your build."  I am laughing about that one as I am writing about it.  It was a good thing that man knew about the TBI, I was laughing to much to say anything.

At home later, the dog Sofie, John (my little brother) and my son were in the same room, probably where John was brainwashing Jimmy Jim about playing football for the U when he grows up.  My Dad comes in and points in that room.  He was trying to get me to help him with Sofie's name.  Here is that conversation:

Dad: What is his name?
Liz: John?
Dad: No.
Liz: James?
Dad: No, the little one.
Liz: John?
Dad: Yeah, thats it.  Come here Johnny!  Come here!  That's right!  Good dog!

Really it is pretty sad that he struggles with the names of people he loves most, but what else is there to do but try to laugh about it?  Sometimes it is just tears and frusteration, but we try to just laugh when we can.  Dad is such a good sport and usually joins right in laughing.  He is such a great man!

17 January 2011

Medications and oddity

Ever since the day of seizures, things have been weird.  I ask myself: how can you tell things are weird? and I just don't know the answer.  Things are strange enough already.  One thing that has factually changed since then are Dad's meds.  He went from getting off one seizure medication to being put on another while in the hospital only to find out that one won't work and to be switched again.  The doctor pumped his system full of the medication that ultimately didn't work out (Keppra) in order to quickly build it up.  But then, of course,  that "I have to mention this, but only one in a million people have this complication and I don't think it will be him" warning worked out to be him and so came the switch to Vimpat. He was pumped up with that.  Since his system had built up to the Keppra he had to be weaned off of it.  He is done with the Keppra and onto only taking Vimpat to maintain his epilepsy.  All of this leaves me to wonder if things have been different because he is hopped up on so many medications, or if something changed with the seizure, and on and on I wonder.  But I am contented right now to know God is in charge of all of this.  

People would say "it could be worse" while he was recovering from his hemorrhagic stroke.  I would reply "Well I don't want to know how they could be worse because this is pretty rough already!"  I know that is true though.  It could be!  So I am so thankful for all of his amazing abilities and the ways in which he is able to participate and contribute.  But since the seizures, he has been so confused.  He doesn't remember what has happened to him or that he has had a stroke.  He doesn't remember the reason his tongue is all cut up and flappy.  He needs to have all of that repeatedly explained to him.  

I will always love my Dad.  I know he will always be my Dad and I am so happy I get to associate with him.  I like to remind him when he gets down the the most important things about him remain the same!  His love, his faith, his joy in helping and serving others, his good heart and caring nature, are all things that are untouched!  I was looking at my Dad last night while he was sleeping in his chair.  I know these trials and circumstances are not unique to us in any way, shape, or form.  But I also know that the commonality does not make it trivial or easy.  He has a brain injury!  Wow!  This was not expected!  I look at him now and I love him so much!  I love him as is and I love him more than ever!  So much of him is gone though.  He is not "all there."  He has a hole in his brain.  

I realize this seems silly to say, but I miss my Dad!  Last week I was looking at a picture of him and I could remember what he was saying to me as I was taking it.  I remember the circumstance and the day very well.  It was not too long before his massive stroke in July 2010.  Looking at it, remembering the way he used to speak to me vs. the way he does now made me a little sad.  But I don't want to be sad, I want to be useful and happy!  Dwelling on my feelings of sad is not as important as furthering my knowledge of God's love.  Looking at my Dad, I realize I am excited for the Resurrection when the spirits of all people will be restored to their working bodies. What a marvelous gift and event we all have to look forward to thanks to our Savior Jesus Christ!

Ever since my Dad had ARDS and was intubated in the MICU for weeks and weeks, I have really felt that each day we have, and each opportunity to create a happy memory is a gift.  It is a gift to have health, to have family, to have love.  I want to be a better mother, to do more for my children.  To be a better wife and daughter and sister and friend.  When I am an old lady somewhere, I know the things I will reflect on with pleasure will be my testimony of the Lord's gospel and the relationships I cultivated and worked on.  My husband, children, parents, siblings, friends.  These events in my Dad and family's lives have helped me remember to treat others with more kindness.  An annoying cliche is that you never know a man's life until you've walked a mile in his shoes.  That is true and so I hope and pray I can go forward in life remembering to be kind and loving and give without holding back and help where I can, remembering that we are all in this life together.

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Dad's hat

I need to pay homage to the "old man's" hat.  Since the traumatic brain injury, he is always cold!  He had been wearing this beanie around, along with layers and layers of clothing and that still didn't cut it.  Not even on this hot day at the pumpkin patch!  A few weeks back my parents went to REI to look into some warmer gear.  They did find some, and now I know whose hat to borrow if I ever end up on a Klondike. This hat has these little shiny silver thermal dots that are supposed to keep heat in no matter what.

So here is the hat.  My little brother gets the best pictures!  Last night my Dad fell asleep in his Father's Day La-Z-Boy recliner and John snapped this picture. Apparently my Dad wakes up every morning, walks into the kitchen with his glasses and hat scratching his belly, and says "I'm just here to, uh, check out some cereal".  So this next photo is John's impression.
By the way, as I was writing, my daughter walked in and saw the picture of my Dad sleeping in his hat.  She said "Ohhhhh. That's a cute picture of Pop!" and then "and that's a cute picture of Uncle John too!"  

09 January 2011

Dad and Auntie Sue

I am fortunate enough to live close to a few of my few cousins.  Last night while my husband was studying (he is starting school this semester for his MBA) I went out with two of them and had a great time!  We stopped by a store where my cuz Kristin bought a five string pearl necklace and she wore it when we went out afterwards for pie and hot chocolate.  (She says the pearls are what got us the great service).  Kristin's mom Susan is my Dad's oldest sibling, only sister.

While talking to my cousins last night I realized something. WOW! A lot of people have been affected by this whole hemorrhagic stroke business!

Whenever we are together, Aunt Sue is so nice to my Dad.  Despite her own health, she gets up to get him food and drinks.  They sit around and laugh.  She cracks jokes with him and listens to him talk in circles sometimes.  My observation is that she treats him like gold.  As though he were the most important person in the world to her.  I love her for that.  I love her anyway!  But I do appreciate the effort she puts into making him feel valued and important to her.
Over hot chocolate Kristin said to me that my Auntie Sue is "devastated".  That has stayed with me all day.  That is a big word to throw out there, but I know it is true of many, especially Mom and Dad.  Ever since his stroke and consequent TBI I have had to leave the "why" question alone.  I will do no exploring there.  I don't understand this at all but one very important thing I do understand: that we do have a God in heaven and He is mindful of us.  Nothing else matters.  If I can put my energy into understanding the Lord's gospel better rather than wondering why this happened,  then that can be a silver lining in this cloud.

It wasn't that long ago that we were calling him for help with installing or fixing or moving or errands.  It is strange to think back to only a few months ago.  Daddy-o has been a very successful individual from his family to his faith to his career and beyond.

Kristin asked me what she could pray for.  I said that a great thing to ask Heavenly Father for is a hobby for my Dad.  Something he can really get into and enjoy doing with his present abilities.  Everyone of us wants to feel the needed that we are.  I really pray for my Dad, and that all of us around him may be inspired to help him find something he will like and take interest in.


While at the Brain Injury Association of Utah conference, I had the opportunity to see a lot of people in one room with the same frustrating problem: brain injury.  The doctor in the hospital told us "The brain is very unforgiving."  It has been so interesting for me to learn about brain injuries.  For example with my Dad, he cannot read.  He can write but cannot read.  Doesn't make much sense, right?  I always thought if you can write you can read. Nope!  The area where his brain is damaged (actually where there is a hole now) is, among other things, his reading center.  The writing hard drive in the brain is in one area, the reading in another.  What makes brain injuries more interesting and confusing to me, is the fact that a lot of people with TBI's (traumatic brain injury) actually know the problem they have.  My Dad is fully aware that he can't read.  He knows the process for learning to read, he knows that he used to do it but he just can't do it!  At the BIAU conference a woman said her task center had been damaged.  She said that when all her clothes get dirty, she is fully aware they need to be cleaned.  She knows she needs to put on clean clothes and she knows she wants to look good.  But she can't tell herself to do laundry.  Her solution?  Buy more clothes!  

Mom and Dad at the BIAU Conference. Dad, trying not to laugh.

I just don't understand brains.  I started to read a book the hospital gave us, intended for family members of hemorrhagic stroke survivors.  By page three, I had a headache.  Literally.  And I sincerely thank our God that He made some people able to understand them.  That person is not me.

At the BIAU conference I really began to feel more like giving people the benefit of the doubt.  I felt more grateful for the Savior's wise words to us to "judge not".  These TBI survivors I met with appear to be fully functioning individuals.  But as I have interacted with some, I realize many of their mannerisms and quirks are the exact ones that I may have been annoyed or upset about, had I had no knowledge of the TBI.  With my Dad in the TBI survivor group now, I sure appreciate people who will just show more love and more patience.  People who will believe that we are all just doing the best we can.  Isn't that a nice thing to believe about people?  I know I am grateful when people will believe that about me too!  I want to do better at that myself and it is something I work on daily.  

07 January 2011

Come what may and love it!

My Dad has always been so nice to me!  I really can look back and say I don't remember him ever being mean to me.  He has really troubled himself to be an ideal dad for all of his children.  My four brothers and I really have a great Dad!!!  One thing that always gets us laughing is to sit around and reminisce. About a month ago, my Mom's sister Wendy and brother Neil were visiting from Georgia.  It was so fun!!!  I wondered as they left why we got into the past while they were here and listening, and all the pranks, mistakes, and trouble!  But heck, its who we are and we might as well laugh!  We were raised by good parents who did their best to raise us well.  Their best was excellent!  I believe they took the pains to teach us what was right and wrong, to teach us to serve others and to do so by example.  I can remember several Christmases heading over to Sister Bowen's house to put up lights.  Going with my Dad to visit Dale Randall when he fell off a ladder and sustained a brain injury.  Learning from him as he was scoutmaster.  He helped turn his sister's basement into a bedroom for her son.  Dad was always ready to help people out with computer problems.  He has always taken time out to play with my children and show them new things like painting and wind chimes.  I really could go on listing things all day!  

He has been a very loving and kind grandpa too!  I feel so blessed that my children get to have him for their Poppy, stroke or no stroke!  I have mentioned before and I do so again-even with a brain injury, the important things about my Dad are still there.  His heart, his love, his desire to serve and help other people is still whole!  I would say I have been extremely fortunate being raised by such a Dad.  Although I do miss the Dad that was, I love the Dad that is.  He is a beautiful, marvelous person.  As I heard my Aunt Wendy say to my daughter on her recent visit "We can be happy!"  Even though things are different, hard, new, and sometimes strange, we can be happy.  We can look forward with hope and thanksgiving at the future and know it will be bright.  Joseph B. Wirthlin says "Come what may, and love it!"  That is what we try to do, every day. To love whatever comes our way.  To trust in God enough to be thankful for everything that happens to make us stronger and better people.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From Him I'll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: "Ye shall obtain."
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With Him I'll stand in that great day
When on this earth He comes again
To rule among the sons of men.

04 January 2011

Thank you amendment

A note I wish to add to my last post


As I mentioned in the previous post, I have been humbled to learn I have had people in different parts of the world reading this blog.  I know there are many individuals and families quietly suffering and looking for help and answers.  I sincerely thank anyone reading this, and acknowledge the difficulties and trials faced by each member of God's family.  I know He is mindful of all of us, of the cause of each tear.  I know that!!!  May God bless us all as we seek to draw closer to and find our reprieve in Him. 

Has anyone told you today that YOU ARE GREAT? You deserve to be told that each day! You are great! Beautiful, wonderful, valued, important, talented, fun, awesome and a million other marvelous things!  The worth of souls is great in the eyes of God.  That means you! And that means you are important to me too!


Amiodarone and such

I took a picture of this at Booger Bottom in Georgia.  While visiting our family there in October 2008, we took a fun boat ride over to this little joint with missing tiles for the best burger ever!  

I didn't intend to set this up as a complaining post, but in talking to my Mom today I thought of some helpful information to pass along.

First off . . . 

"Amiodarone is a drug used to treat certain types of serious, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias (a certain type of abnormal heart rhythm when other medications did not help or could not be tolerated)."

Dad was put on this drug back in July of 2010 while the medical people were trying to stabilize his vitals.  Nothing else was working in his heart so they had to use this drug. My parents and I attended the conference for the Brain Injury Association of Utah (BIAU) a few months back and learned something very helpful from Dr. Ellie Elovic: DO NOT use this drug without being closely monitored by a doctor!  My Dad had been sent out of the hospital, prescriptions in hand for all the meds he had been on. Not a word about the danger or the likely side effects of this drug.  We later found out that Amiodarone is a "last resort" medication that is used when everything else has failed to help the patient.  It is a last resort drug because it is dangerous and has serious guaranteed consequences as well as serious possibilities.  It was sort of scary to read about the drug when we figured all this out.

About now I would be thinking, "Now how was this supposed to be helpful?"  

Answer: If you or a loved one ever find yourself in a hospital setting (and I sincerely pray you won't), I would advise the asking of as many questions as you can conjure up.  Truly. We learned this the hard way.

I am not insisting, presupposing, hinting, suggesting, or outright accusing hospitals or the professionals there of negligence. At all. Period. Exclamation point! I am not. I appreciate the hospitals and professionals so much. I now know that they, like me, get busy and things get overlooked.  I wonder if some trouble may have been avoided if only we had known what questions to ask.

At that same BIAU conference, a common theme from TBI survivors and their families was "Where are the people to help me?  Why isn't someone here to answer my questions and tell me what to do?"  My Mom raised her hand in one session where that became the one and only topic of discussion and just said "Look people, we have been through ARDS, stroke, car wreck, failed oblations, etc. etc. etc. and we have learned  that we can either sit around and wait or we can move on and look around for answers ourselves."  

I would describe my Mother dear as very pragmatic. Practical, sensible, honest and real with herself, and not forgetting to mention that she is a person who enjoyed boot camp.  Really.  You can count on her for "real-ness" like that.  I feel like we need to be in charge of asking the questions to get the answers.  It seems sad to me to think of my little Mom reading up on this kind of stuff all by herself while her husband lay in a coma at the hospital.  But it was helpful to her and it was helpful to me to do the same searching for answers.

Of course I don't know who reads this blog.  But I was surprised and humbled to stumble onto a "stats" section and there found that someone in Malaysia is reading my blog.  Someone in Japan.  Someone in Alaska.  People in other places in the United States.  So I want information provided to be helpful.  And I think this is helpful.  Know if you are in a situation like we found ourselves in, that you have to take some form of control over your own education.  Knowledge is power, I believe that.  Keep asking questions.  Network with people in your situation anywhere around the world.  E-mail me!  Leave comments, ask questions.  I have been close to all of this and observed a lot.  If I can help, tell me.  I want to use our experiences to help other people.  Finding out there are others in the same situation as we have been in was what has helped me most.  Finding out that this is not uncommon-but it is still difficult and hard, sad, tragic, life changing.  For more than the survivor too!  

I am Liz Allen and I am a believer!  I believe in Christ!  I know He is the source of our strength.  I know I cannot do big things, but small things by great love.  I have always had love and compassion for those who suffer through these things.  Now I have empathy.  I want to reach out to others and offer support.  I guess this blog is my way of doing that.  

I have never wanted to be an extraordinary at anything but living and knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want to be a great wife and mother, daughter and sister.  Finding strength and peace through Jesus Christ is helping me to do that.  I have such a long, long way to go, but I know the Atonement of Christ covers that as well as covering the pain and despair of watching as my Dad lay for weeks in a coma, and watching as he and my Mom adjust to life with his brain injury.  It is amazing that everything we can feel has been swallowed up in the victory of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Phillipians 4:13 I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST, which strengtheneth me.