Supporting Families of Veterans with Brain Injuries: I received an email from Cheryl with American Veterans with Brain Injuries (AVBI.org) asking if she could link Sam’s story to her website. Of course, I said yes. Please see the column heading “Personal Stories” on their home page for links to over service member’s stories as they deal with brain injuries.
American Veterans with Brain Injuries (AVBI) was organized in 2004 as a grassroots effort whose mission is to offer support to the families of American Service members and Veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. In 2006, AVBI.org was established to provide a web based peer support network for these veterans and their family members.
Sam’s medical status: I’m very excited…Not just because it’s Christmas, as that brings out the eternal child within me, but because of the developments that surround Sam and Erin this week. This past week Sam was discussed by the trauma urologist at UCSF with Sam’s Doctors from Kentfield and Marin General. He was doubtful that he could do anything to assist their search for the hidden shrapnel. In addition, Sam was removed from physical therapy, save for once per week. He gets a daily stretch, but due to his recurring infections, he has been unable to make the progress they need to see for the insurance company to keep paying for the sessions. Disappointing? Not in the least! Remember what happens when the medical community washes their hands of Sam and some of his most vital care? Ha! I’m giddy with excitement at the prospect of what God will do next. When men say I can’t; God says I can, and will! Please stay tuned as I know God is about to take him a very large step forward, and I’m glad there will be no scientific reasons for the advancement, and everyone will recognize it is from God…
I must admit I haven’t seen them in almost ten days, as I’ve been dealing with a horrendous cold. Holidays are also very demanding at work where we feed the homeless. As you might have suspected, the demand is up this year and resources are down; but God never fails. Right when I was stressing that I wouldn’t have enough turkeys to go around; Food Link (a division of FEMA) gifted us with 320 hams. We finished our food baskets with a flourish, and with food left over. I felt like a worker after Jesus had fed the 5000 men plus women and children, and then sent out workers to gather the leftovers and they gathered up 12 baskets of bread and fish. You see, miracles of provision and of healing are with us today and at every turn. Some call them luck or chance, and many attribute them to men and his own devices. What an insult to God the Father, who lovingly takes care of us, even when we don’t ask, deserve, or even recognize him when it’s done. I’ll never let that happen with Sam and Erin. I will always tie his restoration to the healing hand of God and never make any apologies to the medical community. Of course, as I’ve said many times in the past, I love them, thank them for their dedication to my son, and appreciate them for being an instrument of that hand from time to time.
Erin related to me a story yesterday of Sam getting to take communion at a Christmas service there at Kentfield. A very sweet Chaplain, with a beautiful spirit, that has taken such an interest in Sam and Erin, gave a small but collective service on Friday, the 19th. He was able to get a small sliver of bread, and just a touch of wine from Erin’s finger. As Pastor Betsy passed around the mostly silent patients; She blessed them with a benediction of "The Peace of the Lord". When She got to Sam and repeated her blessing, Sam blurted out loudly and very clearly, "The Peace of the Lord" to her…Erin said it was so loud and so pronounced that everyone heard it, and that it was the most he had said all day. When he speaks, it counts….
I’ve told you many times of the sheer ingenuity of Erin in her attempts to stimulate Sam’s thought and speech process. Well, She has topped that and with something that seems so simple. She has been reading and studying a book on how the brain regenerates itself. I could see the excitement in her as she told me about it and mentioned I’d like to read it also. The next time I saw her, I had a copy in my hands. She was reading a chapter on how this particular therapist was using a mirror to "fool" the brain into seeing the reflection as an opposite. As you know, when looking into the mirror, the right side becomes the left. This therapy was for speech, but Erin thought that it might work for Sam’s semi-paralyzed left side. She constructed a box out of balsa wood that she purchased at a local hobby shop. Armed only with an X-acto knife and chop sticks for tools, she made a sliding wall within this box covered with mirrors. When the right hand is viewed in the mirrors, it looks like the left hand is moving and doing the things that the right hand is performing. Her hope is that Sam’s brain will see his "left" hand moving and want to increase that movement with his left side. I think this is brilliant and am carefully watching to see what Sam’s brain will do in actuality. He has had some brief and very limited success in moving his left side, but it all has to start somewhere…I am so proud of Erin; and thank God for giving her the inspiration of the many valuable ideas that she is able to pass on to Sam….
The pictures are of Sam and Erin playing and he had her pinned with her arm behind her back…so cute; and of course a hug for each other….
Merry Christmas and Much Love,