The Long Road Back

An update from Derek’s mom:

Derek’s injury was 5 weeks ago yesterday and I still feel at a loss for words. The support that we have received from so many people is truly amazing. I cannot begin to thank everyone that has helped us with prayers, meals, donations, cards, well wishes, etc. We are humbled by everything everyone has done for us. We have received tremendous support from our family, friends, acquaintances and even total strangers. Without these prayers and love, we would not have been able to make it this far. We can truly feel everyone’s presence lifting us when it feels like we can’t go another day.


When I look back to those first days – I can see how far we have come. The images and sounds of the initial days will be forever etched in my heart and memory.


Derek continues to make progress. Sometimes the daily progress is so minimal that it is easier to look back a week to make the comparison. This past week Derek has continued to gain improvement in his left arm and hand. He is able to answer yes/no questions with his thumb on this hand and can now also wave. We have also developed a way for him to communicate by holding up a certain number with his fingers. Since his voice is not back yet, this is the best way that we can communicate with him. He does continue to make sounds but has not yet mastered the skill of voice. We are waiting anxiously until that day.


Derek wrote is his first word on Friday morning in OT. His occupational therapist had been asking him questions with which he had to answer with eye gazing. After getting all ten correct, she had him try to write. With his left hand, while we supported his wrist, he wrote the word “basketball” in all caps and perfect spelling. What an emotional moment!


Derek had ‘real’ food for the first time in speech – chocolate ice cream. After his first tiny bite, he gave a big thumbs up when asked if he wanted another. That was the fastest that we have seen him respond to a question! He is enjoying ice cream or pudding twice a day as a tiny little snack. It will still be a while before he will be able to get the majority of his nutrients through his mouth.


Derek continues to work hard during therapy sessions. We are spending lots of time on the mat working on head control and we are continuing to work on standing.


Derek saw the eye doctor this past week. She said that both optic nerves looked good. That was great news to us. He did present with some cranial nerve III damage. He will need to wear glasses with patches in different visual fields in order to strengthen the muscles of the eye.


Derek does continue to take baby steps. And all his doctors have told us that “this is a marathon, and not a sprint.” Even though I have repeatedly told them that I am a SPRINTER! No one is listening! We all know that our journey is just beginning and it is so hard to not look back at our life before Sept. 6th, but this is the path that has been chosen for our family and we will continue to take one day at a time and rejoice that it is one day and not minute to minute as we had lived the first days.


We all wish that we could go back . . . somehow turn back the hands of time, but we are here now and we are determined to fight till the end. I can’t look ahead, the road seems too long and the outcome so unknown. I have to stay focused and believe that we will all make it. Our family will never look at life the same and we will forever be changed because of something that happened so quickly without warning. I guess that is why it is better for us not to know the plan that God has in store for each of us. We may never know the reason that this tragedy happened, but we will trust that He will continue to guide us into the future.


Again, thank you seems so inadequate for all that everyone has done. We are truly blessed to have such special people in our lives. We will continue to pray that each day will bring new improvements.


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