Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we spent the day in Idaho with my Mother and some of our family. It was a small crowd, but we had a great day together. Our children are spread from Arizona to Boise, Idaho today and so it was Dan, Angie and I representing our family at Grandma's house. The food was wonderfully delicious - my Mom is an awesome cook. I especially love the homemade rolls...!

Dan and I are thankful for many things this year. It has been exactly one year since returning home from China. We flew home last year, and then traveled up to Idaho the next day for the Thanksgiving holiday. I remember that I came down with a cold and was sick the whole weekend....

What an amazing experience we have had this year! It has been one of great hope for improvement for Dan -- and also one of some disappointment that we have not been able to realize the progress that we had hoped for. It has also been a year that we have connected with others that share the same hopes for their loved ones, and we have been touched by their examples. We have fond memories of our friends that we met in China and those whose stories we have followed. In many ways, we are different people as we have a deeper appreciation of the struggles of others and the burdens they carry. We have connected to a community of people that has blessed our lives for good.

We have also been forever changed by the outpouring of love and support shown to us by family and friends alike. We were amazed at all the people that stepped forward and donated to our cause... it made us realize that we have a great group of people that care for us and have been willing to give of their means so that we could have this great opportunity for Dan. It was a risk that none of us knew if it would work, but the support came freely from so many sources that it humbled us to know how many others cared for us. We thank you again for your goodness to us and for believing in us!! Someday -- we want to be the kind of people that can see a need of others and be the ones to reach out and help. We want to give back to others as others have given so generously to us.

More than anything, we have a renewed hope and determination to keep going, even if the progress is slow. The things that we strive for in life do not always come instantly or overnight, but that does not mean they are unworthy of the effort. There are many lessons to learn on the journey and we are thankful to be traveling the road together.

Dan got a "reworked" leg brace back on Tuesday this week and so he is able to walk much better now. We are going to switch our insurance back at the first of the year - the carrier that we have been with this year has denied on many items. We hope to get Dan a new brace next year, but this one is better than not having one at all. We are working on not trying to slip back into old habits (of rotating the hip to move the leg...) I have it easy - I say "Dan, why don't you just stand there and practice transferring your weight from side to side... after you do that for about 30 minutes -- let me know how it is going..." He looks at me like I am crazy, but I think if he would listen more to his wife (therapist) that he would do much better! ;-)

We wish you all a great Thanksgiving time, and want to again thank everyone for their prayers and support in our behalf! YOU have made a great difference for us and we love and appreciate you all! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More updates on Dan...

It seems challenging to keep updating the blog when the progress is so slow with Dan's therapy. Many people who see him say that they think his speech has improved... that would be good. I am hoping that is the case, but it is hard to tell when you live with him everyday. It is like watching your kids grow... you don't really notice a change from day to day, but when you look back over a period of time, you can see the changes.

Dan continues to work on his improvement. We have applied for a Bioness device that can help stimulate his right arm. We are waiting to see if insurance approves this... it has been frustrating as my insurance quit paying for any therapy as they don't believe it is "medically necessary" for him to continue on in therapy. It is hard enough to stay motivated to work on therapy when the progress seems so slow.. but when you can't get the help of the insurance to back you, it becomes a situation that requires even more self motivation. Dan has been riding his bike down to Gold's gym and working out there...

He also went in for a brace evaluation - we are trying to get a leg brace that will work. Since going to China, he has been walking without the leg brace - and does ok if he goes really slow. But his right leg is still not stable, and so he has the potential to fall and thus we are looking for a brace that will work for him. We did have one made earlier in the year, but after use in therapy, it became apparent that it was not very functional for day to day use. The brace restricted him from bending his leg fully, and this made it hard for him to go from a sitting to standing position. He couldn't get the leg bent enough to get under him to lift him into a standing position. He also couldn't ride his bike due to the brace getting in the way... it seems like such a simple thing... get a brace to stabilize his knee hyperextension, but it becomes a very complicated, custom operation to get one that really works well. We are still working on it - we went back to the company that made him the best brace he has ever had. The orthotist there wears a brace himself, and so he seems a little more in tune with what is really needed to create a workable solution...

We are continuing to support Dan in his effort to make improvements. He is such a good guy, and if there is any chance of a better life for him, we want to help him realize it. We will keep you posted....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Summer Updates

Just wanted to catch up on some of the activities of the summer. It seems that time flies by so fast and I don't always get the blog updated. We are doing well... Dan is actively pursuing his therapy and travels to SLC 2-3 times a week. He has been going to a therapy center that specializes in spinal cord injuries (Neuroworx He has now started going to LDS Hospital for occupational therapy... he also got a gym pass at a local gym that he works out at on the days that he is not going to Salt Lake City. He is truly "giving it his all..."

We have had some fun this summer -- here is Dan on his bike up Provo canyon. Dan rode up the canyon and met Angie and I (we threw our bikes in a trailer and rode up the canyon - we only wanted to ride DOWN the canyon and we weren't as energetic as Dan. We did bring some food and had a nice picnic in the canyon park before we made the trek down the mountain...

This canyon is very close to our home... in just a matter of minutes we can enjoy beautiful scenery like this! There is a bike trail that is very close to our house that you can bike up the canyon, next to the Provo river... very nice to get a quick get-away!

Here is Dan with his brother, Bill at Lagoon (a local amusement park). We went there for a family get together in August... (do they look like twins or what?!)

Jeff and Riley enjoying an exciting ride...

Jeff and Cody (cousin) on the Sky Coaster ride... this was quite the thrill!

This is a very high ride where they harness you up and lift you up between two tall metal towers. They then drop you and you swing down and back up -- a little too much adrenalin rush for me!

Angie, Mckayla (friend) and Keyanee (cousin) get suited up to ride on the sky coaster!

Back to earth safe and sound after the BIG ride...!

Dan gets LOST....
(ok - so maybe we left him... oops!)

This is my excuse... when my kids are with me, I get the opportunity to relax a little as they help push Dan about on the wheelchair. Well, we decided to go ride the "Rattlesnake Rapids" ride, a very fun river rafting simulation.. and I (being the wise woman that I am...) brought rain ponchos for everyone to wear on this ride. But no, everyone was too macho to have a rain poncho, so I was the only chicken of the bunch. I got to carry all of the cell phones under my poncho (apparently the group was all smart enough to let me protect their phones..!).

Well, this is what Dan looked like after a couple of times through on the ride...
This is what you call "See Dan Drenched!"

We all had a good laugh and then decided to walk around to the other side of the park for some more adventures. After we had almost reached our destination... I said "where is Dan?!" I thought that one of the boys was pushing his wheelchair, but he was not with the crowd. We had all walked off and left him! (our bad...) The worst part was that I still had his cell phone from the river rafting trip, and so he couldn't even call us and tell us how stupid we were! I hurried back to see if I could find him.. and at the same time, called Jeff and he came from another direction. Jeff found him about where we had left him... just smiling like "I wondered how long it would take you guys to wake up... duh!" We are grateful that Dan gets some "watching over and protection from Above" when we are such idiots!

Next story.... Bear Lake!
Bear Lake is a beautiful lake that is about 2 1/2 hours from our home. We were fortunate enough to get to go up there this summer and spend a couple of days relaxing... one day we went out on the lake and rented a wave runner to have some fun on. Here is Dan and Angie on the wave runner...

The funny part of the story was getting Dan out to the wave runner and up on it... it was just Angie and I, so I walked with him out to the water. We then proceeded to push and pull to get him up on the wave runner. I decided to run back to the shore to get the camera (can't miss this photo opportunity!) and so I jumped off the one side. Apparently.... Dan was not holding on and the rock of the wave runner caused by my sudden departure sent him flying into the water. It was kind of like a catapult effect... off goes LaNae on one side and there goes Dan off the other side! Luckily, Angie was still there on that side and caught her father in her arms! So... back to square one... tug and pull and get him back up on the water craft! (The things we do for a fun time... !)

It was worth it though... we got to "See Dan DRIVE" as he drove me all around the lake for a ride. It was fun, and when we got back, Dan said "I'm going to get me one of these..."

Here is Angie and her friend Kika enjoying the wave runner!

Dan "chillin" in the lake...

The water is really not very deep here....

Walking back to shore after our fun day of adventure!

Now we are back in the grind of daily living... job, therapy, etc. It was nice to have a few bright spots this summer to "recharge our batteries" and help us keep on keepin' on!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Summer Races

I am not sure that anyone follows this blog anymore - but if they do... I am going to start giving more updates on Dan, our family and what has been going on in our lives. It has been a busy year with many things going on since our trip to China. Dan has re-engaged in active therapy and spends the majority of his time trying to make improvements. I think there is some improvement, but it is slow in coming. He keeps working at it, and hopefully someday we will chip a piece off this block that seems to be standing in our way.

He is now going to therapy at LDS hospital (for occupational therapy) and also at Neuroworx (physical therapy). Our insurance decided to quit paying for physical therapy due to a "lack of medical necessity". This really bothers me that I have a rehab physican and therapists that work with Dan closely, and are supportive of his desire to improve, but then some committee from the insurance company decides that the progress is not fast enough, and so they stop paying. I am working to ask for a review and reconsideration, but we will see how it goes. In the meantime, Dan continues to work out on his own and does the best that he can.

This weekend we bought him a "Jazzy" wheelchair. This is an electric wheelchair that will help him get around a bit better as he travels to and from his therapy in SLC (Salt Lake City). He is quite independent... and so this chair will help him get around a little better as he navigates the downtown traffic of SLC when he has to transfer from the bus to the TRAX train system. We only have a manual wheelchair, and to make it go, Dan pushes it backwards with his one good foot. This is ok for closer to home, but when he is trying to navigate through city traffic, he needs a bit more control... thus the "Jazzy".

This weekend we ALSO went to another 5K race! These races have been inspired by our good friends at Neuroworx. Remember our good friend Casey? What a cool dude...

He got this "5K race" thing going by running in a race this spring wearing his "see Dan" shirt.

My sister, Ruth Ann, also ran a race in the hot Texas sun this summer -- she was a trooper and wore her "See Dan Talk" shirt in support of Dan...

Here is Ruth Ann with the winning medalists - I think she took second place! You go, girl!

Then Dan decided to join in the fun and rode his bike with the Neuroworx team in July. As I recall, he came in second in his age class... good job, Dan!

Then -- he convinced me to sign up for the last race of the season... a 5K for the Independent Living Center. We went to support Mark Christiansen, a fellow Neuroworx friend that has been a quadraplegic for 47 years... it is amazing that we meet so many stellar individuals as we cross paths in life, and Mark is certainly one of them! He always is cheerful and has a smile on his face... I wonder why we even complain sometimes and I am grateful to know people that are such an inspiration to us.

Here is a picture of the team getting lined up and ready to race! Those guys on the hand cycles are FAST! The first place guy came in at just over 11 minutes! Dan and I came in at 18:07 and 18:10 respectively...

Here is a little proof that I was there and did ride my recumbant bike in the race along side Dan... ;-)

Here is Dan's therapist director (Jan) and her son, Casey (the cool dude) coming through the finish line... way to go team!

Casey took first place in the hand powered wheelchair division -- I am sure his arms are WAY tired today, but the first place status should make it feel all worth while!

Here is Dan, Jan and Casey just chillin' after the big race! It was a fun time, and I am glad that we got to be a part of it.

I will post more of our summer adventures later... but know for now that we are "keeping on" and continuing to work towards "a better life for Dan".

Friday, August 1, 2008

The 22 mile "5K"

I have been meaning to update the blog – but life has been a little crazy around here. It has been a time of reflection through all the chaos, if that could really happen.

First – the chaos.... work projects, corporate politics and pressures, Girl's Camp with the Young Women, 5K races, a trip to Idaho and a family reunion back in Utah. What does this all mean? Well – I am not going to go into the details of work, but just know that the project that I am working on has had its fair share of challenges. I hope to have it back on track now and able to hit the original target set, so we will see. We just keep going, even when we hit bumps in the road, but I am confident that we can correct our course and go the distance.

I had one especially frustrating day on Wednesday this last week. The funny thing was the song that I heard on the radio that seemed to say it all...

Bring on the Rain
Another day has almost come and gone
Can't imagine what else could wrong
Sometimes I'd like to hide away somewhere and lock the door
A single battle lost but not the war ('cause)

Tomorrow's another day
And I'm thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain

It's almost like the hard times circle 'round
A couple drops and they all start coming down
Yeah, I might feel defeated, and
I might hang my head
I might be barely breathing - but I'm not dead ('cause)

Tomorrow's another day
And I'm thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain

No, I'm not gonna let it get me down
I'm not gonna cry
And I'm not gonna lose any sleep tonight
'Cause tomorrow's another day and I am not afraid
so bring on the rain.

Tomorrow's another day
And I'm thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain

I had to laugh... it was sooooo appropriate! I went back to work and had to look up the lyrics on the internet and save them off. I printed it and posted it on my refrigerator so it would remind me to take a deep breath and move on. Tomorrow is another day – and so when we get feeling down, we should put things in perspective and know that we can face whatever comes our way. Don't let it get you down... there is hope just around the corner. This is my new theme song-- call me up and I will sing it to you! ;-)

OK – now on to the FUN stuff!
Mid-July is Girls Camp week! I work with the Young Women (ages 12-18) in my church, and Girl's Camp is the big week in the summer when we escape to the mountains to clear our heads and have an opportunity to feel closer to our Heavenly Father. I was not able to participate the full week (due to the lovely work project!) but did get away on Thursday-Saturday. It was a great break and I had a wonderful time with the girls. We even went on an early morning hike to see the sunrise! It was awesome!!

This is the "lone pine" that we hiked up to see the sunrise!

The beautiful view from the top of the mountain...

The BRAVE souls that got up at 4:30 AM to go on this hike!!

Angie on top of the mountain with Mom! This is the first year that I have gotten up early for the hike... (3 years running at Girl's Camp) This is Angie's last year as she is now ALL GROWN UP and moving on to college! It was nice to have this memory!

On the way home from Girl's Camp, I called Dan as soon as I got out of the canyon and had cell coverage. We were scheduled to leave for Idaho to visit family and hear a nephew talk in church about his mission experiences, and I wanted Dan to know that I was on my way and that I would be there shortly. He answered the phone, and said that he was on his way home from a 5K event that he had participated in that morning (he was on his bike). He was on Geneva Road which is TOTALLY on the other side of town – and down a steep hill – and he had been out to Vinyard (I don't even know where this is...) to bike in a 5K race with his Neuroworx buddies! Hello?! I didn't even know he was planning on doing this..... anyway, by the time he got home, he had clocked 22 miles on his bike!! I had to look this up, but 5K is a little over 3 miles, so Dan road 19 miles round trip to get to and from the race and 3 miles for the race! He is an amazing man... he is not afraid to go or do anything.

I got off the cell phone and my friend in the car commented that you would never know from listening to the phone conversation that he is disabled. “Hi Honey... oh you have been out riding in a 5K this morning?! Cool...! Well, I will be home in just a bit... love you – bye!”

Dan with his 5K racing buddies... Ashley, Abby and Sandra.
(This was a fundraiser for Sandra)

Here is Dan with his medal – he took 2nd place in his division (the over 50 crowd!). I know he wasn't pushing it because he was just keeping pace with his Neuroworx friends who were running.

I guess they have another 5K coming up in September that he wants me to run in with him... (can't I ride my bike?!) Dan likes to ride his bike with me – because is it so easy for him to keep pace with me! Kudos to Dan-the-Man and his amazing spirit that keeps us all going!

Welcome Home Elder Brady Jardine!

This is our nephew, Brady Jardine that just returned from an LDS mission to Texas. He is 6'7" tall and is standing two steps below Dan and I and one step below everyone else! Brady will be playing basketball at Utah State University this fall -- We wish him the best in his future endeavors!

We look up to you - Brady - in more ways than one! We are so proud of you!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sand Dunes... "See Dan Drive!"

Have you been waiting to "See Dan Drive?!" Well - here is the proof - he did it!

Did you know that we have a place in Utah called "Little Sahara"? I have lived here a long time and have never taken the time to go to this National Park, and it is only about 90 minutes from our home! For one thing, you have to own an off-road vehicle to have any fun, and we (Dan and I) don't have such toys, so we have never bothered to go check it out. Nathan (our son) bought an ATV from his brother-in-law, so they invited us to go with them for a fun weekend getaway...

Here is Nate helping his Dad get situated on the four-wheeler...

And off Dan goes... !!

Bye bye, Daddio!

Dan is kickin' up a little dirt.... better slow it down, Dan!

Dan has gone the "full circle" and is now coming back to the camp site!

As you can tell, Dan is pretty happy about his ride! (Did you notice, he just happened to be wearing his "See Dan Drive" shirt!) He did rub the skin off his right thumb as he had to press on the gas more with the outside of this thumb/ palm to get acceleration. He said it was good motivation to get his thumb working better on his right hand!

Now for some shots of the pros...!

Jeff "catchin' some air" at the top of a dune...

Watch out! Here comes Nate...

Hey! Nate can do the "air" thing too!!

Here is our beautiful daughter, Angie!

Angie is doing some jumps too.... what are those brothers teaching her!

And here goes LaNae...!

Just a little proof that I did get on the four wheeler! The only problem was that I got stuck and had to be rescued from the top of the sand dune...!

I thought - I will just go down the trail a bit where I thought the sand dunes were smaller. I will take a nice little ride over a few dunes, circle back and then I can claim that I "drove it"! So-- up the hill I went... only when I got up there, I found that I was on a rather large dune... and the top of it was very steep, like a tent top! One side of the dune was a big bowl and it was very steep... I was trying to see how I was going to navigate this thing... it was a lot larger than I was expecting, so I slowed the vehicle down a little. (Bad move... the engine cut out!) So there I am about three feet from the top of this dune on a very steep incline! I thought... I can do this... (ha ha) ... so I turned the wheel a bit up hill and got back on and tried to start the thing. Well - it kicked me in the shin (ouch!) but I got it going again...

My success didn't last too long as when I let out the clutch, the ATV decided to dig in deeper into the sand, rather than go up over the top! So -- there I am -- stranded up on the top of a sand dune. I was lucky that I could see see the camp site and so I just went to the top of the hill, waved my arms wildly and waited for my sons to come get me! Poor guys -- they jumped in their 4-wheel drive vehicle and drove as far as they could, and then they had to hike up the sand mountain to rescue the vehicle! I just said -- I have nothing to prove -- you go ahead and just bring it down! ;-) So I walked down the mountain and they got to have an extra ride as a benefit for "saving Mom".

It's time to head for home! Here are the boys working together to take the tents down....

Everyone was pretty worn out by then... here is Gentry sleeping on the camp chairs!

We had a great time! Thanks to Nate and Heather for letting us join in on this fun family weekend!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our Buddy Casey!

I waited to share this story because I wanted Casey to have his own recognition day on the blog. Casey is Jan's son (Dan's therapist director at Neuroworx). He ran in a marathon in Salt Lake City, but rather than wear the marathon shirt -- he chose to wear his "See Dan Run" shirt!

This is a message we got from Jan with the picture...

Here you go!! Casey is so proud that you asked for these. I can tell you that this is the second year that Casey and his Dad ran the 5K together (remember that my husband is NOT a runner). The runners get a Salt Lake City Marathon participant shirt each year (in fact, it is under your "See Dan Run" shirt). Casey decided to wear yours with his number on it and was surprised by how many people thought he was Dan. He thought is was "cool" to be "running" with your shirt and ran in anticipation of someone asking him about it so that he could tell them about YOU!! Enjoy!

We are glad to have such awesome people supporting us! Thanks to Jan and Casey! You guys ROCK!!!