The purpose of this blog is to show how faith, my professional training and a healthy sense of humor taught me and continues to teach me that Jesus Christ is always in control. I am a fellow learner as this journey for my child unfolds. My wish is that Ben's legacy gives others hope where there seems to be none. It is also my desire that the information I have assimilated with my medical mind and filtered through a mother's heart gives practical ways to deal with this ever-changing chronic disease. Finally, for the many friends and family members who continue to follow Ben's life change after the injury, the story continues.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Jim is in Colorado visiting Benjamin this weekend. Ben has been in the hospital for 89 days. Initial admission was for a minor surgery to repair his brain shunt. The distal tube draining in his abdomen was up against the bowel.. easily fixed. The behavioral hospital where he was recovering took the opportunity to refuse to take him back, reasoning that Ben is too medically complicated to be readmitted. He is medically stable at this time.  Benjamin's brain function, however,  has not recovered since the incident in July when an inappropriate discharge from a different hospital after brain surgery resulted in four days of continual seizures. All of Ben's medications were inexplicably and abruptly stopped as a result of this disastrous discharge. Status epilepticus was the direct result. As mentioned in my previous post, the seizures stole much of Ben's progress made since his brain injury in 2012. Although Ben has not recovered, he is making some progress. He does not need his wheelchair. He can handle self care and calls us on the phone often. He listens to his CD collection and watches movies and sports. Ben's memory is severely damaged. He doesn't know where he is most of the time and his behaviors have been worrisomely aggressive. We are back at the beginning, a "do over", like Ground Hog Day.  I have had a few rough moments looking at the picture in front of us. At this time there are no discharge options for Ben's care and he cannot be cared for at home.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Today, Ben and I spent Thanksgiving together. Jim and I were called the day before Thanksgiving with the news that Ben’s mental state had deteriorated over the previous 48 hours and that he needed another brain shunt revision. His CT scan once again showed signs of increased pressure. Surgery for shunt revision was performed successfully last evening. Ben was somnolent and minimally responsive for much of the day today as a response to anesthesia, medications, and stress. I was concerned that major ground had been lost again in his recovery. We have been down that road many times. Later today however, he cracked a joke or two with the doctors, watched a hockey game, and spent some time looking at magazines. Ben seems ok tonight. I believe tomorrow will be even better. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ben has been in  a season of struggle, loss, and medical decline. In April, he started having behavioral struggles  coupled with cognitive loss. Experience has taught Jim and I to push for assessment of the VP shunt,  which manages fluid in Ben’s brain,  when we hear reports of  any worrisome changes in behavior. Repetitive brain CT scans were performed as a response to the mental decline over the last 3 months. Finally, when Ben’s mental decline intensified,  he was admitted to a hospital for 2 weeks where many of his medications were changed. On June 11th, I visited Ben and became very concerned. Something was wrong. He was irritable, unhappy and mentally slow. The irritability moved to aggression and on July 2nd, Ben was taken to the hospital and placed on a mental health hold. We again asked for a brain CT scan. An astute neurosurgeon reviewed the scan and compared it to all of the scans dating back to April. Ben’s shunt wasn’t working and had not been working for a long time. He had changes in brain ventricular size and this means an increase in brain pressure. July 4th he underwent brain surgery for VP shunt revision.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I am writing this blog update as I sit on a delayed plane waiting to leave for Houston. So far the plane has been delayed 2 hours. Al least the view is beautiful here in Denver. I spent the weekend with Ben in Colorado. Our time together was bittersweet. We have not seen each other for a while. Ben has been struggling with significant physical and  mental health issues. After 2 years of health and stability, life became unpredictable. Ben was unhappy and frustrated. The frustration manifested in troubling behaviors that Ben seemed powerless to curtail. The wonderful professionals who run the TBI home where Ben lives, stuck with him through thick and thin, but they were at a loss as to how to help him. Services, medical and psychiatric, are a constant struggle for people who struggle with TBI. As soon as “brain injury” is brought up, doctors and hospitals back pedal as fast as they can.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February 22nd was Ben's 27th birthday. He celebrated by eating birthday cake and had a day of fun with activities and receiving calls and messages from friends and family. Social contact is what Ben loves best and he enjoyed every minute of the day. Ben still lives in Colorado. He still requires  a supportive environment that caters to the needs of a traumatic brain injury survivor.  Although Ben can do many things, he still has deficits in memory and needs monitoring in social situations. His problematic behaviors have diminished with good medical care and a supportive environment. He  is quite a character with a quick smile, a great sense of humor, and an eclectic fashion sense. Everyday I thank God for leading us to Colorado and for the amazing helpers that help Ben navigate his world.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jim visited Ben in Colorado last weekend. He is still living in a beautiful Colorado suburb, attends church and like all of us, has daily victories and struggles. Ben has started guitar lessons. I am excited that he is eager to learn something new. He is practicing "Happy Birthday" to play for his dad's birthday next month. Ben has also developed an interest in cooking for the other residents of his house. It is a blessing for Ben to move toward any new goal, no matter how small.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My visit with Ben in Colorado last weekend was bittersweet. He has made progress in some areas but discouragingly slow progress in many areas of struggle.  I was reading this morning about the common problems for patients recovering from severe traumatic brain injury. Ben has everything on the list. Troubles with problem solving, impulse control, and self monitoring, short term memory, learning, and language retrieval are all there. Ben doesn't grasp the implication of a given action and his impulsivity may show up as verbal utterances, snap decisions and poor judgement. His irritability and emotional instability is much better on medication which is a blessing. The article on TBI sequelae perfectly states these changes by stating "an individual with TBI may have a vague sense that he is 'not who I used to be' and yet struggle to define the specific ways in which his personality differs from prior to the injury."
The article goes on to mention that for many TBI survivors, the ongoing needs for support are not being met. Through the grace of God that is not true for my son. He is in a marvelous place.