Friday, August 6, 2010

Two Down, Seven to Go

Fred sent out the note below with the title of "Two Down, Seven to Go" to everyone he works with, and I really appreciated hearing his side of the story, so I thought I would share it with those of you that read this but don't work with Fred.

Many of you know that I have now returned to work on a part-time basis but I wanted to send out a message to say hello and provide you with some information about my recent “vacation”.

The first thing I want to do is say thank you to everyone for all the tremendous support and good karma that you all sent out to myself and my family during the past 3 months. I was a bit taken back by all the good will that was being sent our way and it really left a lasting impression on me about what a wonderful company we have. The values that were established early on in Mercury’s history set the standard for the manner in which we conduct business and represent ourselves in the community. It is only during the tough times when an organization’s values are truly revealed and once again the values of the people that make up Mercury have shined brightly.

From the time that I was initially visited in the hospital by some dear friends, up until yesterday when I read through some old birthday well-wishes, I have continuously been impressed by the generosity and good nature of all of you. That helped to keep me motivated for a quick recovery so I could return to work ASAP, and I sincerely appreciate that! The monetary donations that were collected significantly helped to ease the burden of the day to day expenses that my wife was faced with and the value of that cannot be understated.

I would also like to mention that up until this point we have been pleasantly surprised by the coverage and treatment that we have received from our benefits providers. It goes without saying that it will be quite some time before all the obligations are fulfilled but so far it has gone better than I initially expected. Terry Moore and the rest of our HR team deserve a lot of recognition and appreciation for the time and work that they have invested in evaluating our benefits providers. Say “cheese” ladies!

Since my return to Durango I have had a chance to talk to many folks but I there are still a lot of folks that I have not caught up with. It seems that everywhere I go I’m still running into folks who want to hear more about what happened and/or how I’m doing. So let me take a moment to offer few details so you have a better understanding of what it means for my work status.

Overall, I have had an amazing recovery considering the serious nature of the Traumatic Brain Injury that I sustained (“TBI” to those of us in the biz). TBIs are a bit of a crap shoot in terms of the short-term and long-term effects that they can have. Statistically I appear to be beating the odds and my doctors and therapists have been quite amazed by the speed of my recovery. I feel very fortunate to be back to nearly 100%, but the reality is that I am still fairly early on in this process and I am not yet at 100%. For this reason, the doctors are currently limiting me to 24 hours/week at work and I do have some dietary and physical precautions that I have been advised to follow. I’m afraid I just have to stay away from ladders while I’m here. Fortunately, I expect the limit to my available hours here to be eased in about 2-3 months.

Those of you who know my history know that this is my second major close call and that this is also my second TBI. In the past few months I have heard a lot of folks comment that it appears I have nine lives or that I might actually be a roach. Personally, I prefer to think that I am actually related to Keith Richards and I take comfort in the fact that my wife now knows that she can’t kill me for the insurance money. But all joking aside, I want to take just a moment to pontificate about these life experiences (while listening to Exile On Main Street-of course).

While I am somewhat reluctant to start preaching the merits of wearing a helmet to everyone, I do feel that it is well worth mentioning that there is no way I would be here, composing this email, had I not been wearing one when I crashed. I’m not going to pretend that there haven’t been times over the years when I didn’t leave the helmet at home because “I was just going for a quick valley ride” or because I was only riding around town. I did however, make a conscious decision over the past couple of years to always wears my helmet, for my wife and daughter’s sake, and I am very glad that I took that responsibility seriously. Now that I have witnessed the disparity of injuries and effects that are sustained by folks with and without them first hand, I can’t stress enough the importance of wearing a helmet (and having your kids wear one) for each and every activity that merits one. It only takes one unexpected accident and a lifelong disability is not something that would be very easy to accept when you know that it possibly could have be avoided.

It is unfortunate fact of life that very few of us get through it without facing some significant challenges and/or personal tragedy. Simply put, life is a pretty delicate matter. While it is often easy to get caught up in our own personal drama, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize and acknowledge the challenges that the folks around us may be experiencing. Likewise it can also be difficult to remember to appreciate all the fortunate circumstances that we experience over the years. When life presents you or someone you care about with challenges, I sincerely hope that circumstances will allow you to meet them as strongly and as successfully as possible. Perhaps more importantly I also hope that when life is going well, you are able to recognize it, and appreciate it to the fullest extent.

Now I’ll be quiet and get back to work already…

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back to Work

Fred went back to work, part time, on Monday, and it feels so good to have a return to regular life. At the same time, it feels scary for me to return to normal life. I feel vulnerable and exposed with a return to normal. It feels like I open myself back up to more catastrophe. I know waking up and walking down the street everyday opens yourself up to something going wrong, but sometimes the good times scare me because I know it won't last and I will have to go through another tough time. I guess I can look back and know that I survived this big one, and there will be other big ones, I'm sure, but at least I will be able to draw on the strength I gained from this experience to help me in the future.

After everything we have been through, we are in such a good place as a family. I'm trying to not hold onto it too tightly and just enjoy it and see the beauty in my life right now. I feel like I love my husband and daughter more with each passing day, but it is scary to love this much because of how much it would hurt to lose what I have. I'm trying to find the balance between holding on and letting go, and I think it will be a life long lesson.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Safety Princess

I found this picture amusing, so I thought I would post it because it seems to define our family well right now.

Here is your safety princess!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Three Months

We are three months out from Fred's accident, and the progress is amazing. It's scary to look back to where I was sitting three months ago, and each month just keeps getting better. As soon as I knew we were out of the really scary days with Fred, I have tried to look at each day on a positive note and find the good with everything we are going through. It's easier to look back and realize you are past the hard times than to see them fade while you are going through them. I still feel strong emotional waves hit me from time to time, but they are fewer and farther between and less likely to occur at an inopportune time like while standing in line at the grocery store.

Fred goes back to work next week. He will start back part time for awhile and work back up to full time, but just going back to work and getting a normal schedule in place will be great for all of us.

The benefit party put on by the fire department, search and rescue and Fred's work was last weekend, and it was a blast. It was amazing to see how many people showed up (especially when we were all forced inside by the rain) and all of the community support. Fred gave a great speech and even played some lead guitar with the band.

Here's to moving forward, and to Fred's mom on her birthday!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

To write or not

I felt like I had been blogging nonstop, save a few days here and there, since Fred's accident happened, and this weekend, I decided to take an unannounced break. It felt really good because my life also had some semblance of a new normal. Fred drove himself around to his own things, we had nice family time and I got to work in the garden and have time by myself at home. I'm still up and down and all over the map emotionally, but things like being done with going to Denver, getting a life schedule back in place and having time to myself is huge for my sanity. I also took a break from writing because I started to feel embarrassed about pouring my heart and emotions out on the blog. It felt a little overexposed, and I didn't feel like broadcasting every troubled emotion I had for a few days because all in all, we are doing wonderful. I know I still have a lot to process, but I'm not sure the blog is the appropriate place to do that. So I'm feeling self-conscious, which is completely normal for me!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


As the doctor put it, Fred passed his driving test with flying colors. Hopefully we can get through the night without any food poisoning, car break-ins or last minute mishaps and get on the road in the morning for home. They haven't said anything about having to come back for any check-ups, and I think we are both too afraid to ask. Cheers to going home!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thick Skin

Everything is so different now. Before when Fred would get frustrated, I would tell myself, it's not about me, let him work through it himself and be there if he needed me. Now I feel the mother hen side of me wanting to protect him and intervene. I think the reintegration into normal life is going to be hard, on me especially. It's so hard to find the balance of getting back to normal and taking it easy. Fred wants his life back, and generally speaking, he has it, but the taking it slowly part is very foreign to him. I vacillate between wanting him to have it back and wanting him to stay in a bubble. It's so hard to let go of control, but that is life. I have joked with Fred that if he does this again, he has to find a new wife because I can't go through this again. The reality is, I've grown from this experience a lot, and even though I don't want to go through this again, I know life continues on. Hopefully Fred won't put me through a similar experience, but I know I'm probably not done with my share of tough times because I want to have a long life, and I'll take the hard times to also have the wonderful times. Although, between my Dad committing suicide and Fred's accident I am hoping for fewer traumatic experiences in the rest of my life.

It is really hard being back here at the hospital. We are so fortunate with how well Fred is doing, but my skin is not thick enough to be here for too long. I know we have gotten through this stronger and closer, but it is so hard to see other families suffering through even more life upending traumas. I was in the elevator today with a woman whose son is here at Craig. She was a little discombobulated and very briefly told me about her son having a hard time and taking it out on her. They do warn you that the patients take it out on the ones they love the most, and I had very few moments of Fred getting upset with me through this whole ordeal, but this trip, I feel like am being hit over the head with grown kids that are in rehab getting upset with their parents. Today there was a teenage guy walking down the hallway getting mad at his dad for trying to hold on to his arm and help him keep his balance. For me, it brought up when Fred was at that stage and thought he was fine to walk on his own, and it is also heart wrenching to watch a parent try to keep a child safe when a child is trying to become an adult. It makes me realize how much I have to let go of because I have no control. I cannot guarantee that Kalyn, Fred or myself will stay safe every day, so I just have to be in the present moment with them because we have no control over the future.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Here and Well

It's a quick post tonight to let you know things are going well, Fred's driving certification is moving along fine, and we are all doing well.

This time we are staying on the fourth floor of the apartments (we were on the first floor for the first 2 months), and we have a little view of the mountains and the sunset. I appreciate being up here on the fourth floor and feel it is nicely symbolic of us getting ready to move upwards and onwards with our lives.

I feel like a lot is coming up for me being back here again. This blog is changing from Fred's recovery process to my recovery process. Anticipate a nice long, processing, emotional post from me within the next couple of days!

Monday, July 12, 2010


We're off to Denver for Fred to do his driver certification (please let him pass) and have a clinical checkup with the doctor. It's a short trip, and hopefully without too much drama.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thank you friends

Thank you to our friends that have made my week easier by taking Kalyn for play dates, bringing us dinner and taking me out for friend time! Life is starting to feel more normal around here, and when Fred gets certified to drive and goes back to work next month, it will really feel normal! I do see why they don't want you to go back to work right away because there has been an absence of stress for Fred that comes from working full time on top of everything else in life. Fred seems great to me, and the only ways I notice that he is still recovering is either the amount of sleep and rest he requires or when I try and say something to him while he is talking on the phone. In retrospect, Fred has always loved to take afternoon naps and probably never really paid any attention to me when I talked to him while he is on the phone with someone else. You try and pick out things to blame on the brain injury, and you realize how many silly things you do in a day with no injury to blame them on. Did I tell you they told him to make a list of things he needs to do everyday? I can get through brushing my teeth and making a cup of coffee without a list, but beyond that I need a list to function everyday.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Good Day

I feel like I need to report to all those still listening and possibly worried about me, that I had a really nice day today! Kalyn went and spent the morning at a friend's house and Fred's boss picked him up this morning to take him in to work to visit with his coworkers. I am realizing that a key piece to my sanity is having time by myself at home. I will always be a homebody, and I love the peace and solitude of being by myself during the daytime at home. I don't like it at night, but a quiet morning at home is wonderful!

Next week we go back up to Denver for a clinical check for Fred, and he gets to take his driver certification testing earlier than expected. I am really looking forward to him being able to drive again. I have never liked making more than 1 trip to town in a day, and I like to have days where I never have to go to town at all, so I'm glad I won't have to make 2-3 trips a day for much longer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Kalyn

Dear Kalyn,

You are three years old today, and I'm so happy to be your mother. Your laughter can brighten my darkest of moods, and your cuddles are the greatest gift you could ever give me. You are wise beyond your years with a depth that is amazing and a little scary at times.

Since this blog has mostly been about your Dad and how he is doing, I'll write about the two of you. For most of your 3 years, you have been a mama's girl. I was your constant, and you spent the most time with me, so you tended to prefer me. As soon as you would spend a lot of time with your Dad, you got over needing me as much. Then you realized that he does fun things with you and didn't care as much when I left you two alone.

If you hear anyone talking about the accident, you ask if Daddy crashed his bicycle. Your Daddy really hopes that you don't remember this time in your life, but I know you will remember the best part and that is how close the two of you have become. You don't want him out of your site and get mad at me if I drop him off somewhere and start to drive away.

I'm sorry for the confusion you experienced right after the accident. Leaving you with my mom in the emergency room was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I didn't know how long it would be until I saw you again and I didn't have any idea how much of our family life we would get back. You were perfectly happy to go spend the night at your Nana's house, but it only took a couple of days for you to realize something wasn't quite right.

I'll never forget the afternoon you pulled into the parking lot at the hospital and jumped into my arms. My life will forever be a struggle of loving you and holding on to you but not too tight so you can live your life. I guess that's what you sign up for when you decide to become a parent.

Know that I will always love you, and you will always be my sweet girl. May you find your way in peace and continue on your beautiful path.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wear a Helmet

Today Fred got back his helmet and bike jersey he was wearing during the accident. The helmet doesn't look that bad when you look at it from a distance, but a closer inspection shows a lot of cracks, and the foam on the side of his head that took the initial impact is very compressed compared to the other side. His jersey has huge holes in it along his shoulders and back where he skidded along the ground. After seeing his helmet and knowing how badly he was hurt even with wearing a helmet, I hope everyone puts on a helmet when going out for a ride. Fred was going fast on a road bike, but it scares me when I see people on motorcycles riding down the highway with no helmet.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Gift

Now that the major trauma is behind us, the experience isn't bad. I would say it is scary because everything in the future is up in the air. But that's true for all of us. Nothing is guaranteed, so every day can change and get turned upside down no matter how many plans you have made. I'm taking this experience as a gift because it is changing the way I try to go about my day. I'm learning to not fight things anymore. So many events have started out as an upset but worked out fine when I look back. I'm trying to float with the current and enjoy the ride. There's no point in thinking about what we would have been doing this summer if Fred hadn't gotten in an accident because that's not our reality. We were talking the other day about movies like Sliding Doors and The Family Man where a movie looks at how a split second can change your life. I think our life is better from this experience in the way that I feel closer to Fred and the tighter bond we share from going through this. I am also trying to not fight the lows in life. We need to go through the lows to enjoy the good times. I would never want me life to be a constant shade of gray, so I will take the darker times to make the light times that much brighter.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Flight

I read something today that said to recognize one's own insanity is the arising of sanity and the beginning of healing. If that is true, I don't feel so down about where I'm at right now. Before I read that today, I had already decided to set my intentions on healing and moving forward with life. This morning Kalyn woke up early, but she still wasn't feeling 100%. This was obvious to me when she crawled into my lap on the couch and fell asleep in my arms. She hasn't done that in so long, and it forced me to sit on the couch and be quiet and do nothing. It was a beautiful gift she gave to me today. I have always loved holding a sleeping baby, but it is a rare gift to hold our busy little girl that is turning 3 on Wednesday while she sleeps. The three of us are similar in the sense that it is hard for any of us to sit still and do nothing. I'm happy that we are busy, active people, but right now we seem to be in a space of learning to sit and do nothing. The evening of the accident when we were on the plane to Denver was an amazing lesson to me. Fred was in the back of the plane with two nurses attending to him, the pilot was flying the plane, and I was sitting copilot. I had gotten a hold of Fred's Dad and a coworker of Fred's that is a close friend of mine while we were still in Durango. I had spoken with so few people by the time I got on the plane, but it was an amazingly spiritual experience for me on the flight to Denver. There was nothing I could do but sit there. The whole flight up there I didn't cry, and I didn't think about the future and what might be wrong. I stayed positive, sent Fred healing thoughts and messages to stay with me. I had no idea at that time how quickly word had spread about Fred's accident from all of the people he knows, but I could honestly feel the positive thoughts, prayers and healing energy being sent our way. I have always had my own personal definition of spirituality, but for me, when there is a ray of sun shining down through a cloudy sky, it feels very spiritual and profound to me, and I gather a lot of strength from those moments. The majority of the flight to Denver, there was a ray of sun peeking through the clouds and shining down on the earth that moved along next to us as we traveled north. I don't wish this experience on anyone, but the lessons, blessings and closeness I feel to those that I love is amazing. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I have written before about a brain injury being hard for other people to understand the healing process because it is internal. There is no open wound to put a bandage on or cast or stitches to attend to. Most people like to be able to fix things, and dressing a wound feels like you are making things better. What Fred and I both need right now is time and patience. Fred's brain and my emotions need the time to heal.

Kalyn woke up with a mild fever today, so we've taken it easy today. I got out in the garden and worked on my flower bed with my gardening buddies, and Fred and Kalyn had a quiet morning together. Yesterday we took a little hike with our friends from out of town. Here's a picture from yesterday.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My Time

I have to confess that I am being more honest about how I am feeling and what I am struggling with on this blog than I am with Fred or anyone else who asks. My excuse is because it is rarely convenient and never fun to go into how I'm really doing unless I've made an hour appointment with a therapist. For the record, I like to process things by myself, so this blog has been my way of processing things by myself but sharing how I am feeling and what we're going through. Fred has started reading the blog, but as far as I know, he only got through about the first week when it was all clinical details. I haven't pushed the subject to find out if he is still reading because I figured he would say something about it if he had kept going. I've spent so much time trying to be strong and not show Fred that I'm struggling when he was in the initial recovery stage when I didn't want him to worry about me, so it makes it hard for me to switch gears and open up to him about what I'm going through which can be summed up as - yea! you are home, but I feel like crap most of the time.

Fred is doing wonderful. I feel like he is changed, but I think there would be something wrong if he came out of this exactly the same. He's been reintegrating himself back into his life at home really well, running into people who haven't seen or talked to him in over 2 months and not pushing himself too hard or trying to do too much. People are amazed and surprised with how well he is doing when they see him and talk to him. He is definitely an outlier in the statistical range of how long it takes to recover from the serious injury he had.

I get a little neurotic about making sure I get the time to sit down and write on the blog because it is the only time I give myself to really check in with the side of myself that wants to spend the day by myself, curled in a ball and crying. I may be grumpy the rest of the day, but I try and function as a wife, mother, friend and also get a little work done. I will promise that I will make a therapy appointment for myself because I obviously need it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Things I'm still processing

I can't keep these things down anymore, so here we go with some of the things I still need to get out:

The misunderstanding when the emergency room first called and told me they were taking Fred in for a CT scan to check for brain activity. Later I learned they wouldn't check for activity with a CT scan but an injury. I know the person who told me that was not a medical person at the hospital, so who knows if I was told the wrong thing or I heard wrong. Regardless, I spent the next 5 hours not really knowing if Fred was even in there.

Being in the ER in Denver as the team of doctors and nurses examine him. His feet were yellow and he was shaking. It could have been the medication or he was cold, but I was by myself and scared out of my mind.

They extubated Fred on the second day in the ICU, and nobody asked me to leave the room for this procedure. Big mistake. The whole medical piece of it was not that nasty but seeing Fred in pain while they took the tube out hurt my heart and still makes me cry.

The fear of leaving Fred each night for the first week when he was being impulsive and having to trust that he would be safe.

Fred started coming out of sedation on the second day, but it took him a few days to recognize me. He was highly medicated and confused with what year it was and where he was, but it was hard to not be able to see love or recognition in his eyes. I'm not mad at him about this because it wasn't intentional. I'm just trying to process that pain.

The emotional pain of watching someone you love be in physical pain and not being able to anything for him. For me, this was sitting by Fred's side while he has to ride through the pain of nasty headaches because he was maxed out on pain meds.

My life felt like a piece of paper that was torn up into tiny pieces and thrown into the air like confetti. I had to let go and know there was no way I would ever catch all the pieces and put them back together the way they looked before. Life is fragile and beautiful. I'm putting my pieces back together. I no longer have a simple piece of paper, but a beautiful piece of artwork that is my life.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And How are You Doing?

Fred had an appointment with a primary care doctor today since we never had one here. It is a doctor that has seen other Craig patients, and we loved him. He had a great bedside manner and seemed to get Fred right from the start. It seemed like the visit was mostly to catch him up to speed and setup the relationship so if there are any questions as we go forward, we know who to contact. At one point he looked at me directly and asked how I was doing because he felt like doctors forget about the spouses that have witnessed the whole process. Putting a spotlight on me like that almost made me cry, but he just wanted to make sure I had whatever support system I needed. I feel like I have the support system, but I do feel the speed of life increasing and just trying to continue to find the time to let myself process everything as it comes up. The good news is I am sleeping well and not having any nightmares!

I will be Fred's chauffeur for about another 2 weeks, and right now it has made us spend a lot of time together. I've never been to the grocery store with Fred this many times in a two week stretch! One hard adjustment to being home is having him be home when I am used to having the house to myself to get work done. I have come to really cherish my quiet alone time in my own home, so it is taking a little time to get used to that, but I do feel fortunate that this is the only thing I feel like I am giving up right now, especially because it isn't for the long term!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good Visits

Fred got a nice surprise from his best friend from growing up. He is out here with his family on vacation, and I knew about it, but Fred did not know they were making a stop in Durango. He called this morning on his way over from Moab, and Fred was pleasantly surprised. We had a nice visit with them this afternoon, and this evening we had a family outing to the fire department. They had their quarterly meeting tonight, and Kalyn and I were invited to join them too. We had dinner with them and stayed for the whole meeting because Kalyn wanted to see the fire engines. Fred gave a nice speech thanking everyone for all the help and support. It was great to see how happy everyone was to see Fred and how well he is doing.

I'm wiped out, so that's all for now. Thanks for the notes about still listening!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Getting Back to Life

I don't know if anyone is still listening, but I'm still talking! It has really helped me process everything by writing on this blog, so I'll continue to keep writing. We are probably done with a lot of the major hurdles, but life being what it is, there will be more challenges and uphills in our future.

We had a fairly normal Monday other than the fact that Fred didn't go to work. The doctors really want him to slowly start getting back into all the different elements of his life before he adds work and work stress. It makes sense to me because when you have a full time job, you spend more waking hours doing that than anything else, and Fred has been away from so many aspects of his life for two months. There is a lot of catching up and getting settled back in for his brain to do.

Tonight Fred is going to the Search and Rescue meeting to say hello to everyone and reacquaint himself with that group. I find it slightly humorous that the training they are doing tonight is related to the life flight company which took him to Denver.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two Months

In the past Fred has referred to the avalanche accident anniversary as a second birthday. I don't know if this accident will become a third birthday, but here we are, two months out, we are home, and it feels like a good time to look back and process everything we went through. I gave Fred permission to read the blog today. It will take him awhile to read the whole thing through to the present, but I think it will be good for him to read about the first couple of weeks of which he doesn't have many memories. Now that I'm relaxing into this stage, a lot of emotions are fighting to come up for me. Part of it feels like I am processing all of the scary moments I had to embrace over the last two months, and part of it is feeling so fortunate. A lot happened in the last two months, and there could have been so many worse outcomes. We all survived this, Fred had the physical trauma, and I had the emotional trauma. The insurance company covers his rehab, and they don't take my rehab into account.

For the past two months my life has felt anything but normal. I spent a lot of time just trying to get through each moment, and now I am having a hard time with the transition to us getting back to a normal life. I'm not fighting it or upset that we are here, but I am a little lost. I understand that no one wants or expects us to stay in the place we have been in, but right now it also feels strange to move on with life. I don't feel like I am making a lot of sense right now, probably because I am having a hard time putting into words where I am at. This whole process has been such an unknown as to what the future holds, but the truth is, none of us know what we are waking up to each day of our lives. What an amazing lesson this has been about being in the present moment. My present moment has my daughter wanting to cuddle for one more minute, so goodnight everyone. Thank you for listening!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


We're home! It was a nice drive today with no major drama. We were all in good spirits, and Kalyn could feel the excitement as we pulled into Durango. From her perspective of having Fred be gone for two months, she is acting like he needs to be reacquainted with the whole house and all of her toys. Lucky for her, he is happy to play along. Our biggest drama for the day was Kalyn peed on our bed during her nap and the dog peed outside when he saw Fred. After the last two months, I'll take those as the big dramas for the day!

It feels so good to be back in our happy home. We are together, healthy, happy and where we belong. You can't ask for much else in life!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting Closer

Last night when I was falling asleep, I felt like it was Christmas in June because we were on our way towards home the next day. It was almost hard to fall asleep! I did doze off for awhile, but an hour later, things started to fall apart. Fred was either hit with a stomach bug or food poisoning. We're not really sure because we ate the same things from lunch on and my stomach was only mildly upset. Kalyn at the same dinner as us and seems fine. Fred is being put through the wringer. I didn't get much sleep, and Fred didn't really get any at all. We had to move out of the apartment by 10 this morning, so I pulled myself together and went to pull the car around to start loading it up. I unlocked the car and found the front passenger side window smashed in and the glove box open and sorted through. Luckily, there wasn't anything in the car worth taking, so all we had to deal with was a smashed window. I was able to find a glass store in the city that had the part and could fix it that day. We got all packed up, Fred went to his classes for about 10 minutes, but they sent him away when they heard how bad he was feeling. We spent about 2 hours at the glass repair shop, but were able to drive away with the car completely intact.

We had originally planned on staying the night in Salida, and I am so happy we made that choice. I was too tired to safely drive to Durango tonight, and all of us were done with the car after 3 hours. Plus, it is always fun to stay in a hotel with Kalyn because she calls them Who-tells, so we always get a good laugh out of that one. I told Fred he wasn't in very good shape when we brought him up to Denver, so it is fitting he is not in great shape when we are bringing him home. At least this is something that will pass on its own!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Almost Home

Our daughter, Kalyn, is an emotional sponge. When I'm having a bad day, she's not very fun to deal with. When we're in a good mood, she picks up on it and is fun to be around. Tonight, my little sponge, my weather vane of where I am emotionally is running around hyper and very happy. It's not surprising that she is picking up on our good mood about packing up and moving towards home tomorrow.

Fred has two meetings tomorrow and then we are on the road. We're breaking up the drive, but we're all excited to check out of here. It has been a fantastic week just the three of us reconnecting and spending a lot of time together. We're ready to come home and move to the next stage. The road to recovery is not done because there will be adjustments when we get home, but I have faith in the healing powers of being home and getting back to our life, no matter what that means moving forward. I remember thinking this would be a scary moment, checking out, but it feels like such a joyous moment.

Today even felt fairly normal for the three of us doing our own things. Kalyn played with some kids this morning, I was able to run errands and Fred did his classes. Fred and I went out to lunch by ourselves. We were walking back to the car and passed a bike shop. I stopped because they had kid bikes outside, and I wanted to get Kalyn a balance bike for her birthday in a few weeks. I don't know if I'm being ridiculous or realistic about buying our 3 year old a bike. Yes, Fred just crashed on a bike, but I don't think I'll be able to keep this girl off a bike. Every time she sees another kid's bike, she tries to ride it. I figure we are safer teaching her how to ride, with a helmet at all times, rather than trying to avoid the subject. We bought the bike, and Fred will put it together when we get home, and we will buy her a helmet before we give her the bike. I'm not going to lock the doors, shut the curtains for the rest of our lives hoping we stay safe by not living our lives. We're going to live our lives, being safe, but not hiding from the world.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Helmets and Play-Doh

Our friend let me borrow his car that is way nicer than mine and has more room for the drive up here and back in exchange for me taking it to get serviced up here since there are no dealers in Durango. This morning we all loaded up in the car, dropped it off at the dealer, got put in an even nicer loaner car and went out to breakfast at a little mom and pop type diner that was great. We got Fred back in time for his PT and then met up with him for his meeting with the doctor. It was our final meeting with the doctor before we head home, and it went well. We should be able to put Fred on a plane by the end of the summer, and he thought Fred should give up scuba diving. When you look at how much he could have lost and that's all they are suggesting, we feel very lucky, blessed and fortunate.

Fred has gotten to know a lot of the other patients in the time I've been gone, and it is amazing how many guys are in here from motorcycle crashes without wearing a helmet. After Fred's accident, everyone would ask if he was wearing a helmet, he was, and I realize now how few people, especially on motorcycles wear helmets. I feel like the helmet Fred was wearing either saved his life or is a big part in him not having significant life-long disabilities.

One of the speech therapy things this week was for Fred was to pick out a project to do with Kalyn. He chose making play-doh from scratch and then playing with it. They did that today, and she had a blast. It was very fun to watch the two of them playing together and see how much this whole process has brought the two of them closer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wrapping Up

We're getting close to being able to come home and everyone keeps asking Fred the seemingly rhetorical question, "Are you getting excited to go home?" Pretty soon he might start responding to that one with a lot of BS until you realize he is just making a joke. We're getting ready to head back home in a few days, but we'll be back up here in three weeks for another check up and hopefully get Fred cleared to drive.

We took Kalyn to a friend of a friends that is a nanny today, and she was very happy to get to play with other kids for the day. I was happy for the time by myself to focus on work, meeting with Fred's therapists and getting dinner figured out.

The meeting with the occupational therapist and social worker went really well today. There will be another meeting tomorrow with the doctor and a family meeting on Friday morning, but we started to go over the plan for going home and having a non-structured life, as they put it. Fred and I are both itching to get back to whatever a non-structured life means. I know there will be failures, frustrations and road-blocks, but we will be home and will work through them. Things like cooking in your own kitchen, working while Kalyn is in daycare and sleeping in your own bed go a long way towards making things easier in day to day life.

They told me a scary statistic today. 87% of patients with a Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) of 8 or lower take two years to get back to work. Fred was rated at a 7 after the accident happened. Everyone here is in awe of how quickly and how well he is recovering. They are attributing it to his positive attitude, good genes and good family support. Ok, maybe they didn't say family support, but he has told me how much getting himself better so he can come home to Kalyn and me has been a motivation. To show you how well Fred is doing, we're looking at him being able to come back to work in August. Less than four months is a lot better than two years! It's amazing how people can get frustrated with work, but at the same time, when it is taken away, you realize how much it defines you. Fred really wants to get home and get back to work, but we're going to take the doctors and therapists recommendations and have a slow integration back into life in Durango. It's hard to argue with someone who is sitting across the table from you with 25 years of experience with brain injuries.

Monday, June 21, 2010


The pace of the day changed this morning away from the easy family time during the weekend. Fred didn't have anything first thing this morning, so we ran some errands and took Kalyn to a park. We got through the day, but there was definitely more stress for me with trying to juggle so many things. It's a short post today because I'm spent and ready to have a quiet evening. It wasn't a bad day, but I just don't have any energy left to tell you about it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

I just reread what I wrote on Mother's Day to reflect a little and see how far we've come. Wow. All of the emotions are so close to the surface for me. It feels like it has been 6 months not six weeks with all that has happened since then. To realize that on Mother's Day Fred spent most of his time in the wheelchair and was constantly sore and tired and today for Father's Day we spent two hours at the Denver zoo feels like a lot of progress.

We had a lot of fun at the zoo. I was amazed how many animals we saw. My memories of going to the zoo always have the animals you want to see hiding out. We saw giraffes, a peacock with his tail feathers all out, a polar bear, lions, tigers, cheetahs and elephants to name the big ones. Kalyn was only scared by the howler monkeys, and I don't blame her because the sound they made was not very nice. Fred seemed fine going around the zoo. Our roles are a little reversed now because I'm the driver and he's the navigator. We felt lost a few times today on the road, but we figured it out and always got to where we were trying to go. Going through this whole experience has really made me be more aware of when I start to feel overwhelmed with a situation or overstimulated in an environment. Since Fred had a brain injury, he is more likely to not be able to deal with a situation when there is too much going on, but I have noticed myself be the first one to get overwhelmed and need to remove myself. It just makes you realize that multitasking is really hard and usually makes you miss something, brain injury or not.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Catching Up

I have been so happy for the last 24 hours. Kalyn and I woke up early and in good moods on Friday because we were both so excited to see Fred. She was a champ on the drive to Denver, singing with me, eating snacks, watched a movie and took a nap. What a trooper! For me, it was an enjoyable drive. I felt like it gave me time to process the last 2 months a little. Reflecting on how far he has come, the really scary moments I went through and the strength of our community. It is a beautiful drive, but every town I went through, no matter how scenic it was, the community support wouldn't compare to what we have felt from Durango. We are so lucky to be where we are and have all of you!

We pulled into the apartment parking lot, and Fred was outside waiting for us. He picked Kalyn up and she snuggled right in for the biggest daddy hug/snuggle that brought tears to my eyes. Since we got here, she won't let him out of her sight. I have to say it is nice to see. Fred appreciates it, and I appreciate having a break from being number 1.

We had a nice quiet evening together where Fred and I got a chance to catch up, and Kalyn laughed a lot while playing with balloons with Fred. It is amazing the difference I see in Fred after being gone for more than 3 weeks. He is back! I haven't seen anything related to the brain injury other than the fact that he still doesn't want to admit to what was difficult for him a month ago. He was trying to argue that his balance wasn't that bad a month ago, and I told him to just accept it and move on because he is doing wonderful right now. I'll know more next week about what their recommendations are for Fred, but it seems like their only concerns are when he gets overwhelmed with distractions or an overly stimulating environment. He is trying to find ways to show them he is fine, and I suggested telling them he is aware of when he reaches his point of not being able to focus might be the best way. Knowing when he reaches that point before it becomes a problem seems like what they want him to be able to be aware of and step away from whatever is the cause.

This morning we went and got bagels and then went to the Children's Museum. At first Kalyn was being timid and cautious, not thinking that she could touch anything. I had to tell her everything was here for her to play with and she could use whatever she wanted. The first exhibit was a real fire engine, and she got to put on a hat and jacket and play with the engine. Next we went to the bubble exhibit, and she really started to have fun. This girl loves bubbles, and this was a really fun place to play. We built a big train track next. Between the three of us, we made a nice one and had a hard time pulling her away from it. Luckily, she got to dress up in a bug costume next and crawl through tunnels in a make believe bug environment. We made one last stop at the fire engine to turn on the lights and sirens and pretend-drive the engine. After all that is anyone surprised that she is sleeping now? Fred did really well with all of the stimulation and tons of kids running around. I might have been the first of all of us to get overwhelmed with the whole environment. They would have stayed longer, but I was the one that said it was time to go.

I feel like I have my family back. The three of us are all so happy to be together again, and there is such a difference in Fred actually being better and showing up mentally. When I last saw him, he was still checking out a lot mentally. He hasn't done that once that I've noticed and has been very engaging with Kalyn and me. This transition period is good to get reacquainted just the three of us before we are flung back into home life with other responsibilities and chores. In a week we should be home, and we are ready to take the next step!

He is reading a book right now that had a quote in it about a story not meaning anything unless it is told. I thought it was a good sign that he liked that quote because I'll come back and remind him of that if he doesn't like the story I've told here! He hasn't read anything I've written yet, and I told him I'm not ready for him to read it yet. I think this makes him more nervous about what I've written.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Together Again

It's a short post tonight because I want to get back to family time. The three of us are together again, and we're doing great. Fred is doing wonderful. He is going to have a great re-entry into real life in Durango because he is doing so well on his own and he understands taking it easier while still being himself. His biggest concern is the "big deal" of him coming home, which is so Fred!

I don't have the time to describe the love, relief and happiness of seeing him today and how well he is doing. I'll take more time this weekend to go into my usually sappy details. I'll leave you with the fact that I am feeling VERY positive about coming back home.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On the Road

Kalyn and I are on the road tomorrow for one week in Denver before bringing Fred home. This evening I was getting things ready around the house and wishing I could have things in better shape. I had to stop myself and realize he will be so happy to be home, it won't even matter if everything is put away perfectly.

It was a busy day, but a successful one, so I'll end now so I can go to sleep and update you when we are in Denver and can see Fred with our own eyes!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What a day

I feel like everyday I should start my post with "what a day!" Now that I'm through the whole day and have a quiet moment to myself I can see that most people say that at the end of the their days. It has been hard lately to realize everyone else still has a life that is moving forward and has it's normal ups and downs. I don't assume everyone else is afraid to walk into the grocery store because she might run into someone she knows and burst into tears.

The day did start out nice for me. It was mellow yet productive, and I even got outside with the dog for a run/walk. Things started to slide downhill from there. I got a call from the insurance company case manager thinking that Fred was home because she saw he was discharged from inpatient status, and she was calling to check on how it was going to have him home. It wasn't the same case manager I spoke with before, and I was a little thrown off with her thinking he was home, not knowing he was still at outpatient therapy in Denver. I have been told that the insurance case manager is a person that is there to help us and make sure we are covered, but I have an inherent distrust of anyone in the insurance industry and feel like I should be holding my cards close to my chest. The whole conversation just sent me in a little bit of a tailspin of who is checking with who about what is covered and what is not. She's asking me lots of questions and talking about durable medical equipment, and it took me multiple times of saying, physically he is fine, right now it is just the brain injury. When she asked me who was paying for the patient/family apartment Fred is staying in right now I just told her I didn't know and I thought it was us, but it is cheaper and closer than a hotel. Did I also mention that I found a letter from the state about our tax returns saying we owe them 100 times more money than the tax software we used to file said we did? Luckily, we have a CPA friend that read the letter and translated for me what to do to hopefully clear up the misunderstanding, but it is little things like this that would get me upset on a day in my old life and send me into cannot deal territory today.

Tonight I had a my monthly board meeting for work, and that always ends up as a stressful afternoon for me. Today was not any better. I was trying to pull together dinner while managing a child and talking to Fred on the phone while he told me about the testing they had him do today and why the testing was flawed. My patience was running thin, so I just reminded him that he is at a place that specializes in brain injuries, so I think they know what they are doing. One thing I did agree with him on is hopefully they start packing his day a little more. If he is only getting 9 days for now in their outpatient program, I hope they start filling it up some more to maximize the benefit.

The big issue right now for Fred is that he isn't going to be able to drive a car when he gets home. To both of us, for different reasons, this seems like a big deal. It is frustrating to me that he seems fine. He can carry on a conversation just fine; his memory is fine; physically he is fine. His brain is doing a REALLY good job of covering for itself and hiding its injury. My brain wants to cover for him and tell me that he is fine and ready to come home to his old busy schedule. Today I started a list of projects that he can work on when he gets home. He might even want to go back to Denver when he sees his list of honey-do's!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

7 weeks

Tuesdays still seem a little off to me since the accident happened on one, but I was able to not dwell on it today. Fred slept well last night outside of the hospital. Even on a sofa bed and not quite home, it was better than a mechanical hospital bed. He had his first day of outpatient therapy today. Most of it was filled with introductions to the new therapists and going over his goals and list of activities for when he comes home. He was able to get another workout in the pool. Fred and Tom went out to eat tonight at a new place for them and thoroughly enjoyed it. A waitress at the restaurant recognized Fred from over 10 years ago when they worked together.

Over the weekend when Kalyn was playing in the sandbox at my mom's house, she found an old toy army soldier of my brother's buried in the sand. One of his arms was missing, and she called him the broken man and said he needed to go to Denver to get all better. Her specific orders were to fix him with tape because in her eyes, everything can be fixed with tape. It was an interesting and rather humorous example of her understanding of the situation.

I was able to focus on work for most of the day today, and I am starting to feel a little less behind. I will just try and get used to the progress of two steps forward, one step back. My big adventure of the day was opening all of the medical bills and trying to match them with the EOB paperwork from the insurance company. Luckily, I am meeting with the benefits specialist at Fred's work on Thursday to help me try and make heads or tails of everything.

Fred's Aunt in New York passed away today. She had a long happy life and died peacefully. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see her this year, but our last few visits with her had been very nice. No matter how full of a life someone had, it's always hard to say goodbye and know that you will never see them again or have a chance to talk to them again.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Fred is moving to outpatient status today. He will continue to do his various therapies during the day, but they will have more of a focus on doing things in real life and finding what works and what doesn't. Tom flew up to Denver this morning, and Fred was packed and ready to move out of the hospital first thing this morning when Tom arrived. For the first time in about 7 weeks, Fred will not spend the night in the hospital tonight!

This is a big step towards coming home, and we're all excited. In two weeks, Fred should be home sleeping in his own bed! The doctors and therapists feel like Fred could probably use so more time up there, but his attitude towards wanting to come home would take away from any benefit he could get in more therapy. Honestly, it would be too much of a strain on me too, so I'm looking forward to the June 25th discharge date.

I waver back and forth between just wanting him to be home and being anxious about the battles we will have after he comes home and wants to do everything. I realize that this time is probably when I will need the most help and breaks. Fred doesn't need to have someone taking care of him every day, but I will need help keeping him busy while keeping him out of trouble. Someone was telling me about how brain injuries are hard because it is such an internal injury. Fred is lucky because what he really needs for his brain to heal is time. It's not that he can't ever get back to everything he was doing before, just maybe not this summer.

So I'm putting out my call for help and assistance this summer. I don't know what it will look like or what I need, but I know that I will need help, especially in July and August keeping Fred occupied, happy and safe. If you decide you want to help, you have to promise you won't let Fred talk you into letting him do something he's not ready to do, like drive a car. I am really not looking forward to having rules or arguments like this with him. I want to be a wife and not a mother to my spouse, but I also need to do certain things to keep him safe so he doesn't get hurt again or have someone sue us in this sue-happy world we live in today. Somehow I still have to be a mom and work too. I know it will all work out. I'm learning to slow down and just go with whatever comes up, but I still have moments of panic. I'm letting go of the panic right now because my present is peaceful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mile 20

In the beginning of Fred's recovery, someone related Fred's recovery to running a marathon and said he was at about mile 5. I feel like the last few days for me have been about mile 20 of a marathon. I have done two marathons as a participant that is just happy to finish. I'm not fast, and I never will be, but I like having an event to get myself out there and train for and have a goal. Mile 20 of the marathon is where a lot of people "hit the wall." Last year I did a marathon with two friends in Victoria, BC. We spent all summer training together, and did the race trip just the three of us for a long weekend. At the 20 mile point we were all on our own, but I have a memory of running along the ocean, through the pain and through the wall, knowing that the finish line was closer with each step I took. Right now, our finish line is getting Fred home, and there will be adjustments, just like the sore muscles after a big event, but coming home will really be crossing the finish line.

The tough time I've had the last few days is very similar to how I felt at the last stage of a marathon or getting out of the Grand Canyon. Sometimes it just takes putting your ipod on, head down and focusing on taking one step at a time because even though you only have a few more miles left to go, your body is tired and the goal still feels too far to grasp.

Since I'm on the marathon analogy, I'll tell more of my long race/Fred stories (I hear a collective groan from everyone listening ;).

Fred had done the Grand Canyon run for awhile before I met him, including the regular south rim routes and the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim which is essentially a double marathon, or more when you consider elevation gain and loss. Needless to say, Fred is an amazing athlete. A little over a year after we started dating, I decided I wanted to do the Grand Canyon run too. I did my best to train for it, but it's a hard thing to train for, especially in the middle of winter. It is 16 or so miles but harder than a marathon. Fred stayed by my side the entire day. He could have done it in about half the time it took me to do it, but he was there for me as I pushed myself to do something really hard but also truly amazing.

My first marathon was the first Durango marathon. I had a low around the middle, and Fred drove up to cheer me on a few miles later with some moral support and Green Machine. I came out of my slump, found a group to run with and finished feeling good.

Today I got Kalyn off to my mom's first thing in the morning and spent the entire morning weeding my flower bed with my two marathon buddies that I trained with last year. I had a wonderful morning with them talking about all things other than Fred's recovery and being a mother. As much as I love them both, having a morning to dig my hands in the earth and not have my main focus be them felt really good.

Tom flies up to Denver tomorrow and Fred will have his final day of outpatient therapy. Kalyn and I will drive up to Denver this Friday for his final week of outpatient therapy and then drive home the weekend of the 26th. We're almost to the finish line of being apart and Fred being away from home. I know we'll be starting a whole new adventure when we get Fred home, but we'll go through it together just like we've gone through all the challenging times in life.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Fred read the accident report yesterday, and an eye witness said it looked like he hit a patch of gravel and crashed. He said he has a vague memory of coming down Hesperus hill, hearing a car, looking over his left shoulder and moving over to the right. He feels like this memory is close to the accident, and I told him he hadn't done that ride in awhile, so it is probably right before his crash. For Fred, this helps him wrap his head around crashing on his bike. He has been riding a road bike for about 20 years, and he hasn't ever crashed other than one that was from riding in a pack. Getting out of the way of a car and hitting gravel that was deeper than appeared makes more sense to him than somehow not seeing some large rock in the road. I drive past where he crashed a few times a week, and I have constantly been looking for some large object he could have hit. I never found anything, but even I noticed how much gravel was leftover on the side of the road from the heavy winter we had.

I'm pestering Fred with phone calls a few times a day. It's really wearing on me not seeing him for so long. Kalyn is getting quite good at a phone conversation. She'll talk to Daddy, tell him what she's working on and then abruptly end the conversation with "I love you, bye." I can see her missing her daddy time in the way she is connecting with other friends of ours that are dads. From the day she was born, she has been a mama's girl, but she and Fred really connected when she came out of the baby stage. He is more fun than I am at the park and doing active things with her. Yesterday she was telling me about how Daddy had taken her to the yellow park which is what he did with her for a few hours the Sunday before his accident. I'm trying to explain things to her in a time line she will understand about Daddy coming home. Today we were at a birthday party for our close friends' kids that are turning 8 and 10. She told a 10 year old today "my Daddy is in Denver and has lots of owies."

We went to farmer's market this morning. I'm still feeling raw emotionally, so running into people can catch me off guard. I wore a hat to try and be a little incognito. I always think I'm in disguise when I am wearing a hat and sunglasses, so when someone recognizes me when I have a helmet or hat on and sunglasses, I'm always shocked.

I'm sleeping fairly well at night, but still feeling drained throughout the day. I tend to be able to push through a tough time but once things start to slow down, all the emotional stuff I've kept down to deal with the emergencies comes up. I guess that's what I'm doing now, so it's good to have some quiet time to process all of this because even I'll admit, I've been through and seen a lot in the last month and a half. Yesterday Fred was apologizing that he was sorry I had to witness one of the many scary moments in the first few days, and he said it was worth a good cleaning of my car by him. I let him know that he is in debt a little more than a simple car cleaning with me!

On a side note, I think I made it easier to comment on the blog. Your comments and/or emails help me get through the day, even if it is just to say hi!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Still Down

I'm still feeling down today. This is the longest I've ever been away from Fred, and I still have another week to go before we see him, and I am really not enjoying being a single mom. It's hard for me to go to parties and events right now too because they just make me miss Fred more. I feel very fortunate that he gets to come home in two weeks, but that isn't making me not miss him now.

I have been able to sleep fairly well the last couple of nights, but I'm just feeling emotionally drained and exhausted. It doesn't take much to make me cry right now. A new neighbor who is actually an old coworker of mine from the Durango Bagel some 15 years ago went out of her way to mow my lawn for me, and this made me cry. I feel so appreciative that she did it and also a little stupid that I've never mowed a lawn in my life! I've always had a brother that had to do it or Fred and just never learned how to run the thing. I did wake up this morning feeling very happy to see clean cut grass.

Thank you to everyone in Denver that have been bringing meals by for Fred. He is mad at me for asking, but he is enjoying the visits as much as if not more than the food. He has his one and only quiet weekend by himself this weekend, and I sent him a care package with note cards to start writing to everyone. I don't even know where to begin with the thank you cards myself, so obviously I haven't started yet! Fred is upbeat and tolerating the last of his inpatient testing today. Having the transition to outpatient status will be good for him on Monday to start moving in the direction of home.

I am hoping to get out to my flower bed this weekend and do some weeding. My definition of a weed is now anything that grows faster than the things I want to grow. Yikes! I'm sending Kalyn off to my mom's on Sunday morning and will be out there weeding if anyone wants to come join me, I would love the company and the help ;-).

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I should have known, posting about positive attitudes the other day that a bad day was coming. I had just enjoyed a nice long string of good days, so having a day where I feel overwhelmed, unable to do anything right and no idea how to get through isn't very fun. I'm going to try and vent here and see if that will help me move on to a better mood.

Everything is going fine and moving in the right direction, but I think trying to return to normal life is making me feel very not normal. Last night on the phone with Fred I was able to talk to him about a frustrating situation in my day. It felt really good to be able to have Fred just listen and sympathize with me over what was really a minor annoyance for me that I just needed to share with someone. It was a window into how much I've tried to not have him see the emotional roller coaster I've been on while he is healing. I realized how hard it has been to not have Fred involved in my day to day life for the last 6 weeks to share the little things we find funny that nobody else gets, have someone to vent to about anything that bothered you during the day or just share a moment of quiet together.

Thanks for listening - I'm feeling better now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Accepting Help

I know I have posted about this before, but it is so hard and overwhelming emotionally for me/us to accept help, even when we really need it. It's hard enough for me to ask for help on a project or task that I used to be able to take care of myself but now feel completely overwhelmed, but what's even harder for me is accepting financial support that has come in with no requests from me from all aspects of the community. Every time I receive something it just makes me cry, in gratitude, in thanks, in happiness that Fred is going to come home.

I feel I have been very inadequate in my thank yous to all who have helped so far, part of this is because I barely have time to make sure we get through the day properly clothed, fed and bathed, but mostly this is because I don't feel like I have adequate words to describe that appreciation I feel.

I do know at some point we will be able to thank each and every one of you individually, but for now, please accept my bulk-blog-thank-you!

Thank you to both of our families and our friends. I would be in a crumpled heap without you; thank you to everyone at Mercury Payment systems where Fred works; thank you to Durango Fire and Rescue; thank you to La Plata County Search and Rescue; thank you to Kalyn's daycare and the generous families; thank you to the Durango Hundred Club; thank you to my work for being so understanding. I hope all of you can feel my big teary hug I'm sending out to all of you!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Positive Attitudes

Fred's dad left this morning, so he has a week of only hospital food to eat. If you are going to be in the area and want to bring him a non fast food, non hospital food meal, he would be forever grateful! He lost over 10 pounds with all of the initial inactivity, and he wasn't a big guy to begin with. I worry about him not eating that much if all he has to eat is hospital food.

Fred said he woke up with a positive attitude today. Having the plan come together for his discharge date as an inpatient and also a plan to come home gives him a lot to look forward to. He said he was thinking last night about how much he has in life with a lot to look forward to.

Fred prepared another lunch today for some of the patients. It was a chicken curry salad that he had to get up early to cook the chicken for so it could cool and then prepare the salad for lunch. They have been doing more testing with him this week to see where he is at compared to when he was admitted. Next week when he is doing outpatient therapy it will be more simulated to life at home. They will work on setting up a simulated work environment, and they are working on having him sit in and audit some of the EMT refresher courses at Swedish. All of these situations will help to find out what he needs help with and how his learning style works now.

After Fred's avalanche accident, he had problems with fatigue and a short temper which he didn't attribute to the head injury. All of the work they are doing with him is to try and avoid that happening this time. When I talked to Melissa this morning, she said that with Fred's physical capacity and how well he is healing in that aspect, he could be a real bear to work with right now about the head injury. She said he is really doing a good job of staying positive, and when you sit and explain everything to him of why he has to stay and to certain things, he understands and agrees it is for the best. It lifts my heart up so much to hear this. I know we both have many frustrating moments ahead of us, but really, who doesn't in life? To know that my favorite side of Fred's personality has survived the accident and is showing itself most day to day makes me feel so blessed. We all have our moments in life (especially me) of being down, grumpy and short-tempered, but I'm overjoyed to hear that Fred's day to day attitude is still upbeat.

Now that we have a tentative plan in place, I'm starting to feel much more positive myself about spending the last week in Denver. I know I'll get through it and survive it because it too shall pass. I can also start to picture coming home and know that we will make it work. The hardest part will be Fred not being able to drive himself for a few months due to liability, but that also feels so minor right now. I have faith that the time spent at home will be a wonderful bonding time for us as a family.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Trying to Plan

I feel like I am asking for trouble with trying to make a plan, but a tentative plan has to be set to figure out Fred's final weeks at Craig, so I'm diving in and trying to look into the future for a few weeks. Here's the plan, knowing that it will all probably change tomorrow.

Fred's dad leaves tomorrow, and Fred would spend the next week in the actual hospital room. Tom will go back up to Denver on the 14th when Fred would be discharged as an inpatient to stay at the patient/family housing with Tom. Tuesday he would start outpatient therapy where they will really work on pushing him to his point of failure. The point of this is to get him to see he is not ready to jump right back into the life he had on April 26th.

I have a work meeting that week, so I will drive with Kalyn that Friday, and Tom can go back home. Fred will still be doing his outpatient therapy for the final week, without much help from me. This is all to start figuring out coming home, what works and what doesn't with the help from the therapists as the bad guys, so I don't have to be the one pointing out problems.

Even though I am feeling an aversion to having to uproot myself and Kalyn and spend a week in Denver, I know this will be helpful in our transition back to home. It will be a simulated home environment with the support of the hospital. This sounds totally ridiculous as I write it, but I am relating it to after we had Kalyn. She was born at 6 in the morning, and we wanted to go home that day. We started talking with the doctors in the morning that if everything was fine with both myself and Kalyn, we wanted to go home that day. They definitely wanted to keep Kalyn for 12 hours after she was born, so we spent a lot of time thinking we were ready to go and waiting for some final authorization that she could go home. I forget what time it was when they finally discharged us, but it was sometime around 7 or 8 that night. As soon as her baby alarm bracelet was taken off and we were cleared to go, my only thought was about her being so tiny and why are they letting us take her by ourselves???

Fred is not tiny or fragile right now, but I am glad for the transition time to coming back to home. Fred is a busy guy, and the last time he was home, we were in our normal busy schedule. Everything is so different now, and I am not upset that we got off of the fast lane in life. I just hope that Fred will be so happy to be home and not be too upset that no one will let him jump right back into the life he left behind 6 weeks ago. I try to be a patient mother and wife, but I know I have my limits. Coming home as a family sounds equally wonderful and scary, but the whole plan I've just outlined will probably change everyday, so I guess I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I feel like I am processing a lot right now, but it feels more related to having spent a week with family for my sister's wedding than it does have to do with Fred's recovery. It was such a fun weekend, but I'm tired, so that makes me much more emotional.

Fred is really in the same space as I am right now. He is tired of being up there and ready to come home and get his life back. I want that right now too, so it's easy for me to want to agree with him. After all of the travel and time being away from home in the last 6 weeks has really worn me out. I feel very torn between what I want and what I need. I need a quiet week and weekend at home, but I also don't want to go a month without seeing Fred. It keeps working itself out, so I'm trying to just let it go, but I'm not being that successful at the moment.

When I talked to Fred tonight, he was very tired of the opinions of everyone else, and he thinks he is fine. I haven't seen him in 2 weeks, so it's hard for me to weigh in on how I think he is doing. The hardest thing for me is he sees that I am worn down and need a break. He told me as much as he would love to see us, he's ready to wait to see us for when we come pick him up to bring him home. I appreciate that he is being so thoughtful about what I need, but I also feel like part of that is related to him thinking he will be checked out sooner than the tentative discharge date.

Now I'll switch subjects and highlight the fun points of my weekend at my sister's wedding. Friday night we hosted the rehearsal dinner that house we had been staying at. It was a great party and Uncle Jerry did a fantastic job grilling up the kabobs, Aunt Barbara managed the whole kitchen and my brother's girlfriend Becca was an invaluable help the whole day. Scott's parents had gotten Emily a room at the hotel she was getting married at for that night, and she wanted me to stay with her. I got to leave Kalyn at the house and have a night off myself. Our wild bachelorette night was staying up until 10 watching the tv show about brides finding their perfect wedding dresses. It was a nice mellow night for us both, and she was able to get a good night of sleep before her wedding. We took a nice walk on the beach in the morning and got our hair done. It was a nice slow mellow morning and everyone commented on how calm she was.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful and Kalyn did a great job as flower girl. She even dropped a few handfuls of petals. We had practiced the day before, and as she was walking down the aisle, she looked up at me and said "look mom, I'm dropping petals!" I had also hidden a little box of candy at the bottom of her basket of petals, and she found that right at the end of the aisle and said "look mom, I found candy!" She sat down and ate her box of tiny candies, one at a time, during the whole ceremony and nobody heard from her!

The reception was very fun, and Kalyn had little girls to play with and lots of family to watch over her, so I was able to have fun while being there for my sister. I love weddings because so many people are coming together for such a happy reason. I was very emotional at the end of the evening saying goodbye to the family, but I just have such an appreciation for family after this whole experience with Fred. As I said in my toast on Saturday, my definition of family is not about who is blood related to you. It's about the people that are there for you through the good times and the bad. Right now I feel like I have a huge family.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wedding Mode

We're in full wedding mode here, so I haven't had much time to talk to Fred and catch up with him. I did talk to him briefly yesterday, and he was talking to his doctor about the meds they are giving him to help him relax and sleep better at night. Fred feels like it keeps him from feeling fresh in the morning. He also wants to review his xrays with the doctor to see which ribs are broken and where his clavicle and scapula are broken. I see it as another stage of his recovery that he wants to participate in his medical care.

Fred is planning his weekend activities with his Dad. He is trying to avoid large crowds because he worries someone will run into his shoulder. I think the brain injury makes him a little more focused on the worrying part of being injured and not getting re-injured.

I have to run and change gears into helping my sister get ready for the big weekend. It's time to focus on just her and the wedding for me now and not think about insurance paperwork until Monday.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A New Plan

This morning I got a call from the hospital about setting a new plan for Fred's discharge. Fred has been lobbying hard to not have to stay until the end of the month, so they are trying to appease him slightly while still getting him the therapy he needs for his recovery. The new plan would be to have Fred be an outpatient for the last 2 weeks of his time at Craig, and we would live in the patient/family housing with him while he still had therapy during the week. This is good news in the sense that it will be easier for me and allow him to be more independent and get a good sense of what it will be like to be home. The partial downside is that he cannot stay at the apartments by himself, so someone has to be in Denver for the final two weeks with him.

I feel like I can't make a plan any more because every time I make a plan too far in advance, everything gets turned upside down. I am feeling a lot of resistance inside myself towards going back to Denver and spending over a week there. I want to see Fred, but trying to get work done and manage a toddler at the same time is not very easy to do at the apartments.

Life has felt very surreal the past few days while we get ready for my sister's wedding in California. I feel very relaxed and very far away from life at the hospital. I have been spending a lot of fun time with the family and Kalyn has been wearing herself out in the pool everyday. I took her to the beach for the first time today. She thought the water was too cold. The waves were big and breaking right on the shore, so I'll try another beach with better conditions for her to play in the water another day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Holiday Weekend

I just talked to Fred, and he had a nice Sunday in Denver. They went to REI, a great Mexican restaurant and an outdoor oriented coffee shop. He was impressed with the REI store and wished he could have used their climbing wall. It seems like he is doing well with taking a rest when he needs to, especially when his shoulder starts acting up. He also wants to stay on the schedule he has set up for himself and gets worried when he is not back at the time he said he would be back by. The hospital had told me it's not a problem if you are later then when you said you would be back, but I take it as a good sign that Fred is paying attention to details like what time it is and when he said he would return.

Kalyn and I went out to breakfast with a friend this morning and then our neighbors took their daughter and Kalyn on a hike. I had a couple of weekend hours to myself to pack for our California trip tomorrow and stabilize the German Müller-Thurgau wine that I had started brewing before our lives got turned upside down. We made it last year and enjoyed it, and even though Fred isn't able to drink it right now, I'm looking forward to the end of July and August when it will be ready. You are all welcome to come over and have some with me and visit with Fred at that time!

I am really looking forward to going to California tomorrow, spending the week with my family and focusing on my sister's wedding. I feel like it will be both relaxing and therapeutic for me.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I realize I haven't posted pictures in awhile, so these are from last weekend, but they show Fred up and walking around.

This is us with Fred's mom and step dad.
This is my whole world.

I have no explanation for the next three other than a loving mother!

Playing with Daddy at the playground (I made him wear the hat to protect his ear that they had to stitch up.)


I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating because it doesn't seem like it is happening enough for me lately. What a difference a good night of sleep makes! I only had a half hour in the night where the dog woke me up and I dealt with him and was able to fall back asleep, and Kalyn even slept in! My outlook on life is so different today! I feel like I can handle what I need to and let go of what will be too much. I can see that I'm off the fast lane in life and feel good about that. The recipe is 31 years of trying to be an overachiever, a husband in a traumatic accident, a month of turmoil, one good night of sleep, and suddenly I feel acceptance. Please don't take this as a promise because tomorrow I'll probably be falling apart again!

I went to the pool today with my friend and her daughter who is Kalyn's best bud. Usually Fred is with us whenever we go to the pool, but it didn't feel like we were leaving him out because it worked out to be a girl's morning, and we had a fun time. We met up with Tom, Mamar (Tom's mom) and Jim (Mamar's husband) for lunch. They bought Kalyn a new jigsaw puzzle, and she was happily occupied with that for an hour. Kalyn has become a puzzle master in the last month.

I talked to Fred last night around 9 and this afternoon around 3. What a difference in him when he is rested too. When I'm tired, I'm sure people can hear how overwhelmed I am. When Fred is tired, I can hear the brain injury, but when he is rested, he sounds like himself. This afternoon he sounded like himself. His mom and step dad took him to the Body Exhibit today. He said it was very interesting and bought a book on keeping the brain healthy and active. His plan is to donate it to the fire department, and I told him that's fine after he is done studying the entire thing!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Missing Out

Fred is missing another family event today. My brother's graduation is today, and these situations magnify for me that he is missing out while he is in rehab. We missed his sister's graduation earlier in the month, and I canceled his flight for my sister's wedding today. The silver lining in the fact that he is missing these events is that he will be here with us for future events and celebrations. I had realized before the accident that Fred and I were a good team, but his temporary absence makes me appreciate all the things he does.

Today Fred was going on an outing with the therapists to walk along some canal and have lunch. I haven't heard yet how it went, but I know doing little things that feel like a normal life are important to him right now. Even going to the grocery store can be exciting when you're stuck in a hospital/rehab day and night. The occupational therapist had asked Fred what our division of labor was at home. He was honest with her and said I do most of the day to day cooking, and he told her I get mad at him if he starts a load of laundry because that's all he does is start it. Then it sits in the washer until I discover it moldy and smelly. I think I'll have a talk with the OT and see if she can work in the therapy to have him be better at household chores when he comes home!

It's my first weekend being home since the accident. I feel a little guilty enjoying being away for the weekend. I miss seeing Fred and having Kalyn and Fred visit, but I don't miss being inundated with emotions as you see other people that weren't as fortunate as Fred to come out of their accidents with the potential of returning to their prior lives. I am so thankful that Fred gets to be there to do his rehab because I can see that it is one of the best places in the country to be, but I'm a dangerous combination of a curious person with very thin skin, so I walk around the halls overwhelmed with what everyone else is going through. Being home is good, but it's another reality that everyone else still has a life that they are living day to day. My whole world came to a stand still last month, but everyone else has kept moving.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I started off the day feeling down at it took me looking at the calender to realize that Fred's bike accident was on the 27th of April. After my dad died, I would notice how anniversaries would creep up and I would feel them emotionally before I would realize the relation to the date. Last night I was turning off the sprinklers in the dark, mad about doing something Fred would normally take care of. Then in the middle of the night the dog started freaking out, probably because the bear that was in the neighborhood the night before was back again, and I got frustrated about Fred not being here. Fred has always been my protector and kept me safe, but I'm learning how to be strong for myself in this process.

This morning I had coffee with Jody, a woman whose husband was hit by a car while he was bicycling almost 2 years ago, and it felt so good to connect with someone who had shared the same experience. Their injuries are completely different, but she has been the whole process and seen the other side. It felt so supportive to talk to a spouse that has survived all the trauma that we remember but the patient forgets.

Today I realized a mistake I had made at work. It's nothing that can't be corrected, but I really don't like making mistakes and overlooking things. I feel like I'm overlooking about 80 percent of my life right now. My life has been reduced to feeling a sense of accomplishment if I keep our daughter safe and fed by the end of the day. The pets usually get fed on a regular basis too, and my next focus is remembering to bathe our daughter.

Fred has been taking any kind of encouragement from his doctors and thoughts from his therapists, like referring to him as a short-timer, as a sign that his discharge date is being moved up. Today he was talking to me about dates, when I get back from the wedding, when his dad is leaving and was saying they were talking about a meeting for Tuesday to possibly change the date he can come home. I called the case worker after I got off the phone with him, and he doesn't have anything scheduled. The doctors and therapists meet weekly to discuss the patients, so that might be what he heard and thinks they will change the date he gets released. They told me they were trying to be encouraging to him but also realistic, and right now, I can see that is a very hard line to walk because all he wants to hear is he is ready to come home.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Our Community

It cracks me up how much I fought moving to this town as a teenager many years ago. My parents had decided to move there, and when I came to visit in the middle of February from southern California, it seemed like such a small little town that I didn't want to move with them. I even worked out a plan to stay one more year in California and live with a teacher while I finished out the last year of the school I was attending. The plan was for me to spend the month of August here and go back to California at the end of the summer for school. My sister, whom I had never been close with growing up, had the same plan. Suddenly, she and I were 10 miles out of town with just our parents and our two year old little brother, half camping, while our dad built the house. It was an amazing month, full of good family stories, but, by the end of August, I had an amazing connection with my sister, and both of us didn't want to go back to California for school. Through many tears and lots of drama, we both stayed. Other than one semester abroad in college, I haven't left since.

Every time I travel and come back into town, I always have this sense of home and being so thankful for living here. For as much as I fought the move to this town, it certainly has a hold on me. There are so many small communities and groups that mix up and make this community such a wonderful place to live. Both Fred and I have always felt this amazing pull keeping us in here.

Fred has always been better than me at being social and joining various groups like volunteering for search and rescue and the fire department and playing in a band, to name a few. After having a child, I must admit to some grumblings from me about the amount of time he has been gone being a part of organizations outside of the home on top of working 40+ hours a week at his day job. Now all I can say is how full I am from eating all of my previous complaints because of the amount of energy, time and money these places are putting towards helping us.

It didn't take this accident for me to love this town, but I do see that once our life settles back down, I will want to find my own ways to give back to the community because they have given so much to us.