The Impossible

I know this is a love song of sorts but it is more to me and I think to Sam too.
Whenever I hear it I think of what the doctor’s told us when we first got to the hospital 5 years ago. I think of all the things that nurses told us to prepare us for our future. I think of words said to us about Sam and his accident. I think of all the kind, loving, caring people who prayed for us, visited, called, texted, emailed, sent letters to Sam. People who stepped up into our lives after the accident. All of those people, prayers, words (and I am including the negative comments here too) and love shown to us were and still are counted as huge blessings to us! Then I step back, read a bit on here and marvel at ‘The Impossible’ that has all been turned around and made possible!

I have days where I am so down on myself, guilt sets in, negatives thots, the “what if’s” and when I can clearly think again I listen to his song (and a few others) and I tell myself:

Unsinkable ships, sink
Unbreakable walls, break
Sometimes the things you think would never happen
Happen just like that
Unbendable steel, bends
If the fury of the wind is unstoppable
I’ve learned to never underestimate
The impossible

Today is Sam’s BI birthday. 5 years ago today our lives changed. Sam is our ‘Impossible’ and this verse will be forever written on my heart: Matthew 19:26(NIV) Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

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when?

When does it get easier!??

It was 3 am on December 23, 1997 and there was a knock at our door. I had just gotten home a day earlier from the hospital with our new baby Sam. What I remember most of that night was hollering (or what seemed like it to me)  that there had better be a good reason for someone to be at my door at this time since I had just given birth a few days earlier! I am pretty sure there were a few cuss words inserted too. But after I threw open the door I found my dad standing there. He had drove all night (normally a 15hr drive) after work to get to our house (he lived in Alberta and we were in Manitoba) to see his new grandson.
His small car was loaded with giant legos, toys and clothes for Josh, a new oak crib, more clothes and gifts for Sam, gifts for Dennis and I and the best gift of all his time with us for the next 4 days…
That time was filled with laughter, food, memory making and more love than you can shake a stick at! We had a few pictures taken but sadly none of them turned out  (that was back in the day of film cameras)
Dad spent the days with us joking, telling stories, holding his grandsons, feeding them. Playing with them, helping me do laundry and cook– basically anything and everything that needed to be done. 
In the early morning hours of the 27th he had his car packed up and was ready to go home and head back to work. I sat up with him as he had his coffee and I had tea (I was not a coffee drinker back then) and we talked, hugged lots and made plans for phone calls (which happened every week a few times and ALWAYS on Sundays!
He got up from the table to leave and after more hugs and kisses he left — but not before running back to the house to hand me his favorite jean jacket (which I still have) and telling me to look after it.
This was the last time I actually saw my dad. This was the last time he hugged me and I hugged him … a for real hug. (as opposed to the kind we give him know that are quick as so not to get pinched or ‘bit”)
I spoke to him every week like I usually did but this was the last time I hugged him and got to tell him to his face how much I loved him and he told me he loved me.
This is also the reason why I have so much trouble with Christmas now…
It was always fun with my dad. He had this amazing knack of making you feel special – even if he had just met you! He always put in such awesome thought into gifts not just for me but for everyone. If he didn’t know you very well he bought you $100.00 worth of lotto tickets and would be genuinely excited for you to not only scratch them but to win! He would give you the shirt off his back and smile the entire time and not let on that he was freezing or that it was his last shirt. 
I have tried to do him justice at Christmas with spreading cheer, the message of Christmas, the spirit of the Season but I feel I fail miserably every year. I start each Season with a huge giant sized plan to get it (and keep it)together. 

 I  work hard to make sure that things are great for dad and the family  (not just in presents) I plan movie nights, time together baking, visiting others, surprising people that have made me smile through out the year but sadly I keep coming back to praying for it all to be over quickly so I can get back to our usual routine… 

I mostly just want to sit and talk with my dad, hug him, have him know me and every year he regresses and gets quieter and more withdrawn. He doesn’t talk much with me, he rarely smiles at me and every time we visit it gets harder and harder to want to come back. 
For the most part, I still go every Thursday to see him, but I find my moods get very depressive in December. I want to just crawl into bed and put the covers over my head and not come out until January. I dread the Christmas season. I have tried to do things that I know dad would done and I put love and imagination and creativity into the family’s gifts, I work to make it a season of giving but I find there is still an empty spot in my heart.  I sit and cry most days and it saddens me that my kids will never get to know my dad. 
This year has been no exception.
And there is a twist this year and here is why:

 I usually tear into  Jodi Picoult book and find that a day has passed and I haven’t noticed, as I have been lost in her novel. This year for Christmas I received her new book “Lone Wolf” and to say the least it has brought me to tears, butterflies and that empty dropping feeling in my stomach.
I had seen this book on the shelves before Christmas and read the info on it but apparently I never really read it. I somehow missed that it was a novel about a dad who was in a car accident and winds up with a severe TBI. 
As in all Jodi Picoult books, she walks you through each character with such bone jarring, breath-taking accuracy. I can only imagine that if someone who has NOT walked this journey would assume it is ‘kind of’ like this… 
I can tell you it was and is exactly like that. 
I sat reading yesterday and tears would well up and pour down my face. I remember the terminology and predicted outcomes that the doctors in this book tell the family members as if it was yesterday for me. The medicines that they were prescribing and why. The actual physical description of the dad lying in the bed was a kick in the gut as I read it – waxy like skin, a faint smell taht you cant quite place, a small spattering of blood, the tubes, the smallness of your once great, larger than life dad.
 I remember that stress and horrible gut feeling of having to decide whether or not to let Dad go. I remember conversations that Dad and I had had before his accident of what I was to do if there were ever a situation like this one. I remember that dropping of my stomach as I had to make that final decision to take him off of life support. I remember trying to explain to other family members what he wanted and actually form the words to tell the doctors what he wanted.
I am well over half way through “Lone Wolf” and had to put it down multiple times yesterday, wondering if I was going to be able to pick it up and finish it. I am struggling right now because of the Christmas season, as I have done for the last 17 years and yet I find I keep coming back to the story. Maybe because even though it is a fictional story, it is nice to hear that someone else gets (to a point) what I went through (since I am an only child and my parents were divorced). I am not sure where this story is going to end up – maybe it will be a sappy ending where the dad pulls through and all is fine (but I doubt it, as I have read almost all of Ms. Picoult’s books). I don’t even know if I will be able to finish it all. I might just put it away and leave it — but I doubt that too 

 I just keep wondering when will I enjoy Christmas again? When will I stop feeling like a failure and be able to move on like other people?

little by little

Sam is slowly gaining lost ground from the last few years of set backs. To start with he has moved to a new school (as have Isaac and Hannah) that is closer to our home, so that means sleeping in longer in the morning, a 15min or so bus ride, home after school BEFORE 4:00, more opportunities for sports (which he joined the volleyball team already), and other after school activities. It also means smaller classrooms, less busy-ness in the room/halls/school, which means it is easier for him to concentrate and get more done! We got a report card last night and his marks were mostly 80’s and 90’s. Different teachers, classes and methods of teaching but still a HUGE confidence boost for the boy!

About a month ago he also got this:
his long, long, LONG awaited learner’s permit! There was no issues with medical stuff either.  He was absolutely FLOATING when he left the building! (and this mama was in tears)

Sam had been thinking about leaving cadets too due to issues there – mostly ones that he saw were causing him stress. But Dennis and I spoke with him about it and discussed how he can’t quit everytime things get a bit stressful. He needs to learn to deal with the stress so that he can live a normal life and people can learn to rely on him (not worry if he is going to quit or walk out on them when things get a bit tough) so we told him to talk to his CO at Air Cadets and see if anything can be worked out there….Then I did a typical ‘mom thing’ and called his CO and asked him to talk to Sam. I explained how Sam’s confidence has taken big blows the last year and even more so in the last few months and his CO agreed. So he spoke with Sam and all is well now.  So Isaac AND Sam are preparing to head to Italy and France in May 2014 for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day with cadets. (if Sam had quit cadets he was not going to be going on the trip) He seems pretty excited about it again!

Isaac went to his first counselling session last week to help him to deal with issues surrounding the accident and life. He hasnt talked much about it but in the last while (especially since the kids have all changed schools) things have been on a more even keel — or maybe it is just my wishful thinking –and Isaac seems to be happier and more apt to help out and put some effort forward to making things fun around here again.

so it does seem to be that little by little, day by day things are making changes for the better. Sam is still seizure free and medication free, he has lost ALL the weight he gained over the winter last year (40lbs or so) and he feels great, he has energy, he can talk, walk and function with a smile on his face and a spring in his step! Our son is living as a normal 16 (almost 17) year old and the zombie like teenager we had last year that couldn’t walk from the bed to the couch without a nap or a fist fight with his siblings is a distant memory. Sam talks to us frequently about his plans for life and where and what he wants to do.  His ambition has returned, his faith is strong and his love for life, family and friends shines through.

Everyday I thank God for this blessing to our home. I thank Him for not only getting us through the journey we have been on but also for TAKING us through this. We are growing as a family and I believe we are all growing in our faith with Him.

Our Family Update

The following pictures were all taken by my wonderfully talented, professional photographer friend, Cynthia Korman! You can see more of her beautiful work HERE on FaceBook! Please stop and have a look at her work! She rocks!

Hannah Gurl is now 13 and becoming quite a beautiful young lady both inside and out! We are always being told how kind, caring and courteous she is. Last year, gurly-gurl started gymnastics and this year has worked her way up to being a helper/teacher with the other students! She is currently working hard to get her back walk over perfected and trying to find time to ride her horse Lil Bit! She is not quite sure where she wants to be after highschool but she is leaning towards photography (at the moment) …

 Isaac has just turned 15 and can always be found with his ear buds in listening to music with a paper and pencil not far from his reach! This last year Isaac illustrated a childrens book, Liam’s Magic Rocket, that  BI survivor, Daniela Aum, wrote! He was quite the local celebrity for a few weeks as both newspapers ran the story! Isaac joined drama this year and is looking forward to major production in the spring – which is Oliver! He loves highschool and takes his courses very seriously. He wants to go to the Art Institute in Vancouver, British Columbia when he graduates, although he is not 100% sure if he wants to do Graphic Design, Culinary Arts or Fashion Style…

Samuel is closing in on 17 (in mid-Dec) and as of the last 6 or so weeks has been TOTALLY seizzure medication FREE and the big pay off here is NO SEIZURES and is over ONE YEAR SEIZURE FREE! The last year has been a very bumpy one filled with many tears, prayers (both answered yes and no). Sam will be starting at a closer, smaller school on Monday and I am sure we will continue to see more changes as this happens! Sam is still wanting to farm with Dennis and I when he is done school. He also wants to ave his own meat cutting shop,  which my inlaws already so,  so he can take over from them.

Joshua is 18 now and completing his grade 12. He is busy with football, work (where he works for a local farmer) and his girlfriend Dana. There is not much more to say about Josh because those three things are is life!  He is not too sure what he wants to do when he is done in June, but he ‘might’ be interested in going on an ag exchange, going to college for heavy duty mechanics or ag business. ahhh to be young and your whole life ahead of you!

Dennis and I are busy with the farm and working more and more to the holistic style of management here. We are working hard to bring the land back to a healthy state and grow our cattle in the same natural (as much as possible) style. God gave us this wonderful world, land and opportunity to farm again so we want to be sure that we treat His gifts with as much respect and gratitude as we possibly can!
I am hoping for myself to maybe get more into playing with my camera as we go. I love being behind the lens and creating beautiful pictures for myself and others. Maybe once we get into a smoother routine of life I will find this time for me.

what a few well scripted lines can do…

Last fall Dennis and I bought an amazing little addition to our entertainment world… we bought a PVR. On the whole we, as a family, do not watch a whole lot of television. We watch a few shows together for family time and each of the kids has a show or 2 that they like to watch, so we thot this would be a good purchase so that we could record the shows we want and watch when it is a good time for us.

We found 2 great shows that impressed us and they were “about” Brain Injury patients, either high functioning or not so much..

One was “The Finder”. The basic premise of this show was a veteran with a TBI was awesome at locating things (Walter HAD to look for whatever it was that struck him until he found it) He was kind of like a Magnum P.I. for 2012. It was an awesome show and we all loved it. Sadly it was cancelled and one of the main characters died in real life just a month ago (Micheal Clarke Duncan). We are all very disappointed, especially Sam as it was a show where it had a survivor doing really cool things!

The other show I started recording was “Saving Hope”. It is about a doctor (Charles) that was with his fiance on their way to their wedding and there is a car accident, he gets out of the cab he was in, helps a lady in the vehicle that has hit them then he collapses and goes into a coma with a brain bleed. The rest of the show follows the day to day of the hospital and its patients…. and his fiance (who is also a doctor) as she deals with this trauma and her day to day stuff at the hospital. All the while the Charles is talking about being a doctor and a patient. As I watched the first episode today, I struggled between tears of remembrance of Sam’s accident and daddy’s accident, I cried for the fiancee and what she was feeling as I remembered that feeling of not knowing what to think or do. Then I cried as I heard this line from the Charles: “What if we knew our patients? What if we knew what made them laugh, cry, smile? What if we listened to our patients?
 I was walking on my treadmill and I almost fell off when he said this…

Yes …

WHAT IF….

What if doctors actually did listen to patients and their families!? How many people would not be misdiagnosed? How many families would not be torn apart by too much medication or not enough? How many patients would have a happy life free from pain or drugs? I strongly believe that doctors really need to learn to not just listen to their patients but they need to learn to HEAR what they are saying and believe them! I know a lot of what our family has gone through the last year… heck the last 4 years… 16 years if we want to go back to my dad’s accident (20 if we want to get really into it with Dennis’ last accident!) if doctors had just listened and heard what we were saying about things we were seeing and experiencing. Not just brush us off as they ‘had a busy day and many more patients to see.’ How is their time any more important than ours? How is their day any busier than ours when it comes to saving someones life? Maybe instead of doctors pushing to “save” as many people as possible should focus more on taking the time to ‘getting to know your patients and see them as people, husbands, mothers, daughters, sons, brothers and not as a meal ticket or the next payment on their new boat or vacation.

I know there are good doctors out there and we were VERY fortunate to have one with Dr. Chapman ,who was the doctor who saw BOTH Dennis and Sam at the times of their accidents and was our family doctor from the birth of Josh in 1994 until his retirement a few years ago. He believed in spending time with his patients and they were like a family to him. He knew I loved Corrie St. and would tease me about it. If we happened to see him in town he always had a big smile and wave for us. He believed in getting to know his patients and listening to them. He didn’t want to go home at night and suddenly realize at 2am that he had missed something! This meant our time with him was just that and he gave you his undivided attention.

He should have been teaching a course on this to up and coming doctors so that many many MANY more people could have benefited from this type of treatment. Our new doctor (Dr. N)  is not quite like family as Dr. Chapman but he seems to be getting to that.  So we will keep seeing him for now.

I guess what I was trying to get at, was how much a couple of well scripted lines from a tv show can  make you think (and cry) and then create a post about it!  If you have the chance to see reruns of The Finder (or if you can find episodes on line) I high recommend it and Saving Hope is on for another season , so far and so far (meaning one episode in) I love it!

Where we are at these days…

Ginter Family 2012

So it has been 5 weeks that Sam has been off of all the medications and so far so good. He is eating well, sleeping great and is able to go to school, play football and basically participate in life in a way that he hasnt been able to since last fall (and to be honest really since his accident 4 years ago).

He is in school full time meaning all day, everyday — just like everyone else! His course load is not a heavy one but not an easy one either. We are working with him to keep his stress low and to not let things get to him (and on that end it will be a time will tell scenario of if he can do it)
We had a meeting/interview with the Lion’s Foundation, 2 weeks ago about a seizure dog and we hope to know by mid to end October if he is on the list to get one. Even tho’ Sam has been siezure free for a year and a bit now, he will always be at risk for them. A dog will be added peace of mind to Dennis and I for when Sam is out on his own  – even Sam admitted it would be less stress on him to know that there was someone (even a dog) there to help if he has a seizure! The dog (if we get one) will be trained for getting a phone to Sam after a seizure, barking to get help during a seizure and it will be trained to dial the lifeline if no one responds to the dogs barking! If he is approved for one Sam could have a dog as soon as February 2013. It is then that there is another class/seesion in Oakville Ontario, but it could be later also… so we will see! 
This is where we are in life right now… again. One day at a time and luckily we have been blessed with no drame as of late! Praise the Lord!
We had family photos done yesterday (the top pic of from that session!) and once I have all the pics of the kids back I will update on everyone else! 

One more day…

then the kids are all back to school…
then maybe I can get back to a normal regular routine…
maybe I can relax…
maybe….

let the countdown  commence…

**sigh**

You’ve come a long way baby!

Sam on Aug4/2008
1 week after his accident

Aug 5/2008

July 28/2012
16years old and 4 years later!

This years July28 came and went with Dennis, Sam, Hannah and I camping at Kerr’s lake. 

As I sat looking over the lake on that Saturday I have quite a few vivid memories that made me smile and brought a tear to my eyes. There were one or two that made my heart skip a beat but I focused on the happy memories and banished the others.
Over the last year alone Sam has been thru so much and now that we are on the other side of this latest rough patch we can rejoice in his recovery and his growth! (both emotional and physical!)
Sam has been off all seizure medication for almost 3 weeks and the change in him is nothing short of PHENOMENAL!  He has lost close to 15lbs and has energy like you wouldn’t believe! He is happy and caring, thoughtful, wanting to work, play football, workout, talk and be involved with life!
He is talking to us about how he felt this last year with the meds.  I know I am (because I cant speak for Dennis)  trying to deal with the guilt issues of not getting the right help and no listening (not the kind of “ear listening”) to our gut feeling about the meds, the doctor and how Sam was reacting to it all. 
But I am not letting the guilt run me over, I am DEALING with it. I am praying about it and everything more right now. 
I am amazed and how MY OWN health has changed in the last few weeks! because I am not letting the guilt stress me out, SAm is feeling better so the stress there is gone… I have actually been feeling good and I think it may be the reason for my small weight loss too! 
I am starting to wonder if this is the beginning of ‘the end’ for this blog. I want to say that it feels as if we have come full circle but if history has taught me anything it is to not count my chickens before they hatch!  I know we are still going to have challenges but maybe now we are more able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and not assume it is the train…
here’s hopin’!

He’s baaaaaack…

Sam has been home from Brandon for  few weeks now and things seem to be on a more even keel.  We can see he is working hard to not snap all the time but still has a few moments. He has also decided to start reducing his meds because he is tired of feeling like crap and so out of it all the time. We spoke with him about it and made it clear to him that there might be the possibility of seizures, the repercussions of seizures (not going for his learners or driving our equipment, possible no summer camp) and he said he understood but was still going to back off the val proic acid. He is now down to 1 – 250mg a day and we also learned he had stopped ALL morning meds. His tremors are not really subsiding but his energy levels have very noticably increased! SO much so that while we were camping he was throwing the baseball or football a few times a day for an hour or two! He has been out walking every morning or on the bike or riding the horses. He is starting to look like and act like our old Sammi.

Which is nice because we really missed him…

We should be seeing Dr. A in July or Aug and we will share all this with him then. Our hopes are to go a more holistic approach for Sam to not only the meds (possibly see if there is a natural med for him if needed) but with this mental state too. He needs to learn how to deal with stress and issues BEFORE they arise into such a place that is will induce seizures. And I am happy to report that Sam is totally on board with this all!

The 30 or so lbs he gained over the winter really have made a difference to to his overall physical look too. He looks better but is just out of shape, so he is working hard to get back into the swing of working out and exercise so he is in shape.

We are also still waiting to hear aboaut the seizure dog, which will be a big help if Sam can get his meds reduced. Then he will have the dog to help with his recognition of rising seizure possibilities. We are waiting on the next step which is the home assessment.

The bracelet campaign was AMAZING!!! SO far I think over $700.00 was raised but I will be going out to the businesses and picking up all the donation boxes this week and will have a grand tally later. Dennis and I think that next year we will buy the bracelets again but the money we raise we will keep to our TBI group and they can decide where and how to spend the money to help spread awareness. We have really struggled with the MBIA this last while. There have been quite a few instances where I seriously have regretted having the donations given to them — but I did say I would so I will honour it but not again. LIVE and LEARN!

Living on the edge…

The last few weeks and days have been incredibly crazy  hectic …. stressful here. I am not usually one to talk much about Dennis on here but lately he seems to be having his own issues with his injury which have been causing me more stress. He is on a one track mindedness route it seems and he can’t seem to get off it. He is literally eating, breathing and living the farm…. which is fine to a point but he gets stressed about things and will only talk about cows, tractors, the rain and how it is going to effect crops, fencing, cows, calves, equipment … did I mention cows? So when I have had to deal with issues with Sam (and believe me these days there have been MANY of them)he is hard to get him to hear me and give me the help I need. He hears me talking but not always hears what I am saying — almost as if I am speaking french to him. The other night Sam was having a major sensory overload issue (he had spent the weekend with grandpa and grandma then came home to 7 people, 5 dogs, the usual Sunday dinner rush, getting lunches ready for school on Monday, dishes to be washed, etc). He was vibrating like mad and his mouth was going a mile a minute to match his attitude. Dennis and my mom were talking and Sam was in his world… I had to take Sam out to the porch to help him to get re-focused on the task at hand and to regroup… Dennis tho most of the night had to keep asking things to be repeated. He said he was not able to follow anything being said and it was extremely evident … to me.
I struggle with pointing out Dennis’ deficiencies. I am always scared I am going to say the wrong thing or not get across what I am trying to say OR that he will think I am treating him like a kid or worse. So I let it all go until I can’t hold it in anymore and then look out. Then I have a melt down … and it ain’t pretty…
I need to learn how to talk to him and let out my frustrations in a healthy way before things get to where I am feeling like I waaaaaay out there on that darn ledge.