Monday, January 31, 2011

Christmas in January...

{dont get caught walkin under these bad boys!}

Ok, so I am a bid behind on a blog that I should have posted about a month ago! Christmas of course! I have been meaning to get these photos up but there are so many of them I had to pick through them to get the best ones!

Christmas Eve was spent with Ben going to therapies! His sister and bro-in-law were here from PN so Ben got to show off his walking skills! Of course he did a great job and he had us to cheer him on!
Later that evening we found a quaint Mexican place to eat dinner. We had to go through the back door because there were about 10 steps going up...I was not planning on lifting Ben and his chair up that high! It was a fun lil joint, Christmas music and all and not crowded! The reason we picked this place is because Ben kept asking for enchiladas! After dinner we took Ben back to Kessler to get some rest before all the hustle and bustle of Christmas day!

{Christmas Eve dinner}

Christmas morning I headed over to the hospital to get Ben! He greeted me with hugs, kisses and a Merry Christmas! Off we went to my hotel to hang out with his fam and open presents! I got Ben in to a regular chair so that he didn't have to sit in his chair the whole time! Of course he loved it!

Here are a few of him opening presents...don't mind me and my appearance. I was not feeling all to good over Christmas!

After opening our presents Ben laid down for a much needed nap! He slept for a few hours while we chilled and then got ready! It was super hard to wake him up because he was snuggled up in bed and sleeping so soundly! I did give him a lil extra time before getting him up! He allowed me to do so and then we were on the road to go to one of our firefighter buddys parents house! Dante (our bud) and his family were gracious enough to invite us to celebrate with them! We had an amazing course of lasange, fillet minjon, and so may desserts that there was not a table big enough to house them all!
A few photos of our time...the flash kept getting to Ben's eyes so he closed them!

We had a wonderful time with our new "Christmas" family and with Ben's sis and bro-in-law! I was thinking about last Christmas and realizing how far Ben has come since then! It was only a few months after the accident and he was still trying to stay awake, fighting seizures, and having the energy to participate. He lasted about 2 hours last year and this year he just had a two hour nap and was awake the rest of the time! Praise Jesus!!

Ok...back up to date for this past weekend! Ben and I had a relaxing weekend. He got his donut like promised and was a happy camper! He had therapy in the morning and then we just lounged the rest of the day! Ahhh it was so nice!
Sunday I was invited by one of the therapists here to go to their church. She had brought Ben back from therapy one day and noticed the scriptures on the wall and thought she would invite me! She said she knew what it felt like to be new to the area! So, I met up with her and her husband and it was so good to be in the house of the Lord! It is somewhere I would love to take Ben but I have to wait until the snow melts away (which will not be happening soon because it is to snow 3 more times this week) or I have more help because it is all street parking!
After church I picked Ben up and we went back to my room. I got him settled in my bed and we snuggled up and watched Secratariet! Ben made it about 20 min and then fell asleep and then woke up for the last race! It was fine with me because at least I was warm! I ordered some pizza and we chowed down! We headed back about 7ish and poor Ben must have had a rough ride because he let loose his whole dinner! It takes about 5 min for me to get him back...I think he tried to tell me that he was going to puke but then it just came up! I don't know if it was the pizza or the bumpy road! Thankfully I had a blanket on him so it mainly stayed there and a few specks on the biggie! By the time we go back he was for sure tired! We got him cleaned up, settled in bed and then I took off for the night!
Today (Monday) was a good day! Ben had a good workout in PT, lunch, followed by 23 min on the treadmill, a rest and then OT. While he was in OT he was seen by the spacticity clinic and they took a look at his arms, legs and neck. Ben has a few areas that need to be fine tuned and that is what they are there for. He will be getting another round of Botox soon to his right bicep area, right foot, and of course his neck! He also will be getting a brace for his left foot because it has been rolling a bit! Oh the wonders Botox does besides freeze your face! Please be praying that these things work and that Ben will function at a higher level after having them done! While Ben was on the treadmill I snuck out to do some shopping, no not for me, for Ben's upcoming birthday this Wed! The big 31! When I asked him what he wanted he said a North Face jacket! I told him he might have to pick something else because he already has almost 10! I got him a few things I am sure he will enjoy!

Sayings of Ben...
Ben and I were snuggling in my bed and I asked him what he was thinking right then and he said, "my future." M-"oh what does that look like?" B-"going down in a blaze of glory!" M-"I hope not too soon?" B-"Not for a long time!" Whoosh!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wife vs caregiver...

Beloved, let this one sink in deeply: if God allowed you to be thrown into a pit, you weren't picked on; you were picked out! God entrusted that suffering to you because He has faith in you! Live up to it! All the way up!" BM

The past few days I have been thinking about wife vs caregiver. I am Ben's wife but I am also Ben's caregiver, at least part time at this point. I have been finding out that there is a fine line between being a caregiver and wife.
As hard as it has been to not be in Ben's therapies it has taught me an important lesson. I am his wife first. I am not his therapist. As much as I want to be with him to cheer him on in his hard work, that is not my job right now. I didn't get to be there for him at work to cheer him on, encourage him to fight when things got hard, give him a hug when things got bad...I did this at home as his wife. When I take him to therapy it is his job to do these things on his own. He has to fight for it and he has to have the desire and will power to finish strong. I will for sure be there when he gets back from therapy to ask him what he did, how he felt, and how he thought he did.
I don't want to be the wife that demands things out of him because I know it is better for him. I really have to watch my tone that comes from my voice, the way that I treat him and the way that I am there for him.
As Ben's wife I am called to cherish my man, encourage, dote on, love him, be his best friend, be his lover, be the loyal one when others forsake him, pray for him, lead him when he cannot lead us, and be gentle with him. I could go on and on about every thing that I am called to be but that could fill up this whole blog!
As a caregiver it is my role to meet the physical needs of Ben. I help him shave, brush his teeth, bath him, help him eat, help him get comfortable, help him get dressed and so on. At the same time as doing this encourage Ben to do things on his own...with a gentle and peaceful additude. These are important for his everyday living...they need to be done and for now (along with the therapists and nurses) it is my honor and priviledge to take care of him this way, as his caregiver.
I sometimes slip more into caregiver mode and slip out of wife mode and I don't like this! Sometimes I demand, pursuade, make bargains, and worry more about his physical needs then his emotion and spiritual needs. Being in his therapies for so long took the wife role away from changed my additude and how I treated him. I am not saying that I never want to be apart of his therapies or go to them when I can but it has taught me a good lesson.
The Lord has really put this on my heart and has challanged me to pray, encourage and be there for Ben as his wife and best friend! Just because our life has taken a way different turn it doesn't take that role away!
The biggest area that the Lord has opened my eyes to is praying for Ben my husband. I have asked the Lord to show me different ways to pray for him as a man, provider, husband and a recoverer of a brain injury seeking for healing! In my search for how to pray I fell upon a way to pray for your husband for 31 days. I will be starting to pray over my man in very specific ways that they list...each day for 31 days and then I will start over! I don't plan on getting to the end of those 31 days and quitting but continuing to lift my husband up in prayer! You can go HERE
to find the list of days to pray for your husband.
I love this man that God entrusted to me! Ben loves me because God untrusted me to him. I will do anything I can to be Ben's best friend, his companion, his loyalty, his trust and the one who loves him from the bottom of my heart...that will never change!!

Praise report!
I was helping Ben get ready to take a shower tonight and asked him if he could take his shirt off for me. He has been working on getting it off and on in therapy and I have also been helping me. Well what do you know...I looked back over to see if he had started and he already had it pulled over his head and off one arm!! He got it all the way off and said, "here you go!" I could have been more proud of him! Yes, small task but HUGE VICTORY!! Praise Jesus!

Sayings of Ben...
Last night I told Ben I was going to Starbucks in the morning. Before I even had a chance to ask if he wanted anything he said he wanted a donut. I asked him what kind and he said, "a maple bar!" Of course this morning I got for me and one for Ben! I asked if he wanted the big one or small one and he said the big one! I asked him why he should get it and not me and he said, "because I had a brain injury!" I told him he had to come up with a different reason and he said, "because I am the king!" Ok, Ben you win!

"The Lord within her is righteous. He does no wrong...every new day He does not fail!" Zeph 3:5

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

back on track...

"If the challenge you are facing doesn't place a demand on your faith, it neither pleases God nor involves Him."

Ok, thank you for bearing with me these past few weeks! It has been a few weeks of visitors, traveling to GA, snow storms (I am done with snow), and a few days of training with Ben in therapy!

Starting with my brother Rich and sis in law Joy! We had a great time with them! Rich and Ben were typical boys and punched and picked on each other! We also were able to take Ben to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! It was an awesome time! When we were at Ellis Island Ben got fidgety and I asked him what was wrong and he said, "my butt hurts!" We stood him up as he held onto the stair rail and got some good stretching in! Later when we were at the Statue of Liberty he got antsy again and was trying to get out of his chair. I asked him what he was doing and he said, "I want to get up and walk like everyone else!" Bless his heart, he is trying so hard!

Ben continues to work hard in his always! On Monday he got on the treadmill (he now does it Mon, Wed and Fri) and did 2 sets of 10 min! He said he wanted to double that time on Wed and we asked him for a little more realistic goal and he said he wanted to add 2 min! Well on Wed session he did one time of 11 min, 10 min and 5 min for a total of 26 min!!!! He even beat his 22 min by 4!! Ben still needs assistance in stepping correctly and reminders to keep his head up but 95% is all him! I have also been able to continue walking with him. I am now cleared to transfer him with his walker but still waiting for clearance on the walking! We are a funny sight in the hallways but we are getting better! Tuesday I walked him back to his room after his PT session and sat in a real chair and ate his lunch...he was loving it! I get a small glimpse of how hard he works because at the end of me walking with him I have worked up a sweat!!

{this is what he does after a good walk on the treadmill}

{his ewww face...he hates peppers and yes i tease him}

One BIG prayer request...
Ben has an AMAZING speech therapist but at this point Ben is in a love/hate relationship with him! Ben calls him mean and tough because he makes Ben do things and Ben thinks he is hard on him! Ben understands that his ST is there to help him, speak more clearly, help him work on his memory, and use more words and for this he is grateful. His ST is very good with Ben and knows that Ben can do the things he asks whether he is there or not. He pushes Ben because he knows Ben can do it!
Please pray for Ben and that his additude would change or soften! I want the best for Ben and so does Ben but he has to be willing and not just call people mean when they are trying to help!

Sayings of Ben...
Me-"I love you Ben!" B-"I love you." M-"I love you more." B-"that is not fair!" M-"why?" B-"I love you more and I will because I have a brain injury!!" Ok, he wins!

Monday, January 24, 2011

taking more time...

If the challenge you are facing doesn't place a demand on your faith, it neither pleases God nor involves Him."

PRAISE REPORT!!! I have been praying for this for a long time and it may be minute in some people's lives but in ours it is HUGE!! Ben is now officially allowed to drink any thin liquids he wants! We were having to thicken everything that he drank (so he wouldn't choke, cough and aspiate) so that meant carrying a bottle of thickener every where we went!! He can now drink everything! First on tap...cups and cups of cold, thin Cranberry Apple juice...his favorite! Thank you Jesus!

Yes, you see the photos above! This is what has happened to my feet in the past 2 months! I tried to wear my flips as long as I could and then my family was generous enough to all pitch in and get me some uggs for my birthday! I just got them in the mail the other day and I have been wearing the soles out ever since! This weather is CRAZY...when you get to a temp of 7 degrees at 9am and a HIGH of 18 degrees for the whole day that is just painful! So, I have traded in the flips for the Uggs but some might see me trying to sneak the flips back in!

I'm back safely from my visit to GA and it was a great time with Ben's buddies, bosses and our friends!
I am going to take a bit more time away from here to catch up with my man! I just feel that I need to spend some time with him, give him my
attention and I just need a break for a bit! I promise to get updates and photos up as soon as I get back to it! I should be back in a few days but it might be a tad longer.

Sayings/actions from Ben...
I asked Ben what show was coming on tonight (last sat) that we could both watch and he said, "I don't know!" I said, "Miss America of course!" Ben replied, "I am not watching that, I already have a Miss America!" Well, he fell asleep at 7:30 so I guess he won't be joining me!

Today (monday) was the first day that Ben instigated a hug since the accident! I have been gone for a few days so I guess he missed me! He surprised me with open arms when I took him back to his room!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

after these messages...

{Ben and Rich}

...i will be right back!

My brother Rich and his wife Joy (really a big sis) have been in town from
WA since this past Sat! We have had alot of fun with them!
Early mornings and some late nights in the city!
That obviously is why I have not been on here for updates!

They are leaving tomorrow which is sad for Ben and I!
We had a blast with them and they will be missed!

Tomorrow when they leave I am also taking off to GA for a few days.
It is mixed business and pleasure.
I will be having a meeting with Ben's bosses
concerning the future and I will also be getting to see many of our friends there!

I will not be on here for a few more days but would appreciate your prayers for safe travel but most of all for Ben while I am gone! This is the first time I will be leaving him since we have been here in NJ! I know that he will be ok but it is still hard for me to leave and he asks for me every single morning!
Bless his heart!

When I will get back I will make sure I get back on here with photos and updates!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

a bowling he will go...

"Let Me bless you with My grace and peace. Open your heart and mind to receive all that I have for you. Do not be ashamed of your emptiness, instead view it as the optimal condition for being filled with My Peace." Jesus Calling

Last week Ben and I were asked if Ben would like to go on an outting with a few other patients! Of course Ben said yes and when he was asked why he would want to go he said, "it will be fun and will get me out of here(Kessler!)" So, yesterday after lunch we went! They got everything set up and then it was 1, 2, 3 BOWL! They asked everyone what their nick names were and when it came to Ben's turn he said, "Bonesaw!" Yes, this is one of his nick names and his Ranger buddies would be proud to know that he used it! It is funny because today many of the therapists were calling him Bonesaw!

{off we go!}

{the special ramp he got to use}

After a few turns for Ben I noticed that he was getting fidgity in his chair and at one point leaning forward and trying to get out. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I want out of this chair!" I asked him why and he responded, "I want to stand up like everyone else!" There were 2 others in chairs that didn't have to use the ramp and another one standing up so Ben wanted to join in! We were able to get him to a standing position and he did really well! It reminded me of the other day when he wanted to get of his chair too as we were moving along and when I told him it was not a good time he said, "I just want to heal so I can go home!" Lord, hear his cry!

{Go Ben!!}

{flash on camera=closed eyes on Ben}

Ben was sent a surprise in the mail by some good friends back in WA! Her son was able to go to the Seahawks game and thought of Ben! Thank you so much Hansen Family!

{Surpise inside}

{Ben saying Oh Cool!}

{Stylin his new hat}

So, we have some downtime on the weekends and during therapies so I went out and got a few things for Ben and I to work on! So far we have only done the flash cards because that is what Ben has picked! He has done great on the addition and then on the word cards I have him enunciate the word, say it in a sentance and then spell it!
I may sound like I am drilling him (and I am) but it stimulates his brain in memory, processing speed and so many other things! We are on a mission to get Ben better!! Let the challanges continue!!

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

wednesday loves...

I love that I have been given more time to be with
my man here on this earth!

I love that I got to walk with Ben today while he used his walker!!
It was a workout yet AMAZING!

Thank you Lord!

*I don't have photos because I was walking and his PT couldn't take them because he was making sure we didn't hit the ground!*

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

life will go on...

I have come to the conclusion that life for us will never be the same! I think that is how I should have been thinking pre-accident but I wasn't because life to me was peachy! How can any of us think that life will be the same or how we want it to be? We plan a day and at the end of the day something in it changed or didn't go the way we wanted. We plan a move, a marriage, a baby, a year, a life...nothing goes usually as we plan. We have been told by the Lord that we are not promised our tomorrows.
This bothered me for a long time! I wanted life to go just as I planned and I wanted it to look my way with my plans and for us to look a certain way! The Lord has taught me a great lesson in this. He does not say in Jeremiah 29:11, for your know the plans that are for you...He says, "for I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future!" He doesn't say there will never be heartache, changes to our plans, shattered dreams...He just says He knows that plans He has for us! I don't think the Lord had this happen to us but He allowed it. I still question at times why and now the big question is when is it going to be over. When I look at the last part of this verse though it gives me much strength and hope! Plans to PROSPER, plans of HOPE, and plans of a FUTURE!!

Ben may never look exactly like this...

or this...

I may never look like this...

Or this...

but we will always have this...

God has promised a future and a hope and in that Ben and I have each other love and we have each other! In having that it makes this journey a bit easier! We are committed to each other and in that I know that we will be blessed and taken care of!

This past weekend was a really good one. Not that anything exquisit happened or did we go on some grand adventure but it was just a good weekend for Ben and I!
Saturday Ben had therapy mid morning and not only did he work on his walking but they also tried him out on his bowling skills! He did great with his arms until they got tired and then it became a foot game! If his doc approves (which he should) Ben will get to take a bowling alley trip with Rec Therapy this coming Thursday!! The rest of the day we just chilled, played some games and then our buddies from the fire department stopped by to visit! Ben always enjoys those visits because he gets some man time!
Sunday I got to Ben around 1030 and went to find him and was told he was in church! They asked him before I got there if he wanted to go and he said yes! I found him listening to the sermon with much intensity! I snuck in behind him and listened as well! The sermon ended and they started singing Oh How I Love Jesus! Ben started singing and it was not a quite lil voice but a strong one! He never was one to sing loud in church but in his own quite kind of way. It was soooo good to hear him singing praises to Jesus! I asked him when we got back to his room if he liked church today he said yes. When I asked him why he liked it these were his answers:
~Not alot of people
~I can worship the Lord
~I am not the only one praising the Lord.

After church we hung out until lunch. We ate lunch here and then took off to my hotel room. Ben loves going to my room because not only does it get him out of the hospital but he gets to take a nice long nap in my comfy bed! Ben took a nap and I watched our church service back in WA online.
Ben was laying on the bed and he said out of no where, "the guy who hit us should be here (hospital!)" I told you that I would love to switch but would never wish this on anyone! I told Ben that we can no longer look back at the accident but we must move and look forward! I shared a few things with him and told him who he was to me. When I was done I asked Ben who he was and this is what he said...
-I am a man
-I am a man of God
-I'm a faithful man
-I'm loyal
-I am a good husband
-I am a faithful Ranger
-I'm a man full of integrity!
What an amazing husband I have...I know I have said it over and over but it is true!
We snuggled a bit longer and then headed back to Kessler for his dinner and more hang time! Ahhhh, I love being with my man! Thank you Jesus for giving me more time with him!

Ben's sayings...
I told Ben I was going to throw a fit about something and he said, "no, I will not allow that!" Me-"why?" Ben-"Because I wear the pants of this family!"

I told Ben that Verizon gets the iPhone next month and Ben said, "that's bad!" When I asked him why he said, "your going to want it!" Oh he knows me to well! I will have to wait until I get an upgrade...too many dollars!

Monday, January 10, 2011

rememberance bracelet...

{bracelet found here}

I have been looking for a bracelet similar to those that some Rangers boys wear that list the names of fallen soldiers. This one above has some leather to it where the Ranger ones are all metal. I don't want to put fallen soldiers names on it as that is for the boys but I wanted to get one that would remind me of this journey that we have been on. I am allowed up to 9 characters and I am looking for word/words that will be a good reminder to me! The goal is to wear it everyday!
I am opening it up for suggestions!!

Some I have received already are...
~‎"avere fede" means have faith in italian
~something in Hebrew would look awesome on leather
~cherish life
~"time", "in time"
~בזמן in time, זמן אמונה time Hebrew

Comment me and let me know your thoughts!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

homework and tic-tac-toe...

"This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; His is my God, and I trust Him. He will cover me with His feathers. He will shelter me with his wings. His faithful promises are my armor and protection!" Ps 91:2,4

Well, since I have not been able to be apart of Ben's therapies I do sneak in some times, work with Ben on his "homework" and come up with some fun for both of us!

OT has really been working with Ben on feeding himself. He has no issue on knowing how to do this but it is getting his body (mainly his arm/shoulder) to do it with him. He gets about 5 bites down and then he gets what is called intentional tremors. Ben thinks about it so he is signaling his brain and then when he goes to get a bite his arm starts shaking. Poor guy trys so hard! I have had a few bits of food flung in my face from the tremors and be both just have fun with it! They are going to try a few more things but also might be starting him on a med that will help with his muscles and also his brain functions! Please be praying for this!
Here is a photo of his arm in a sling contraption that they are trying to get one smooth movement...

Ben gets speech "homework" from his speech therapist every once in awhile. Ben continues to be drilled in enunciating, speaking slowly and using a strong voice. He is doing really well and when he concentrates he does amazing! Ben has difficulty with his S's and T's so we are given words and sentences to say to work on these things...

Also in speech Ben has been working on reading!! He does this very well but some times if he struggles with a word Ben will replace it with another word or finish the sentance in the way that he wants to. This is not that unusual for Ben because he tended to do this before the accident. Here is just one sentence he has been working on...there are pages...

Well of course I have my own things for Ben to do but I love doing them with him! This morning before his PT session we played some tic-tac-toe. Ben played with my nephew when he was here in mid Dec but we have not played since! Ben played alot better and wrote his X's alot more clear as well! We had alot of fun and of course he won...I only had to help him like 2 times in 6 games! It is hard for both of us to lose because we are both very competative!

We will continue to work on Ben's homework but I plan on getting him going in some more interactive games!

Special moments...

Ben was watching a military show on Discovery about Special Forces training and all he kept saying was, "they are sucking, puss boots, I can do that, come on guys suck it up, and pansies!" I couldn't help but laugh...Ben's still got it!

Took Ben to get on the treadmill. I told him last time he went for 12 min so what was he going to this time and he said, "double that!" I told him ok and work hard and he said, "always!" That's one dedicated man...oh this was followed by him saying, "brain injuries suck!"

I asked Ben to hold me and he gave me a big bear hug. while he hugged me i lost it and cried into his chest and the words of sorrow yet trusting Jesus came flooding out. Ben continued to hold me and said, "its going to be alright, it's going to be alright!" Ben and the Lord knew what I needed in that moment!