Early in the course of Ben's injury I would refer to positive signs of improvement as a "flicker" of hope. In spite of all the serious complications and signs of disability, I would see, briefly, that "my Ben" was still in that healing body. As we move into the fifteenth month after his injury, the "flickers' aren't occasional, they are blinding flashes. Ben is remembering more and more. His personality is returning. His sense of humor is great. Ben calls us CONSTANTLY on the phone. If I don't answer quickly enough, he calls Jim or the house phone. Importantly, he remembers all of our numbers. Ben's other memories are not perfect, but what encourages me is the constant evolving mental status. Something is happening in that brain. It has to be good.
Ben is reading more and more. During our phone calls he discusses readings from his devotional. His conversation is filled with thoughts about this faith journey. It may be only words reflecting Ben's injury, but I believe that God is speaking to Ben. Ben is yearning for family and is remembering more and more about family activities, personality quirks etc. He is concerned about not being there for us. Ben's cousin Katherine is getting married soon. When Ben was told about the wedding, he asked if he needed to talk to Katherine's fiancé. Jim assured Ben that Katherine's dad had it well in hand. Ben replied, "Uncle Gil has a firm voice so that would probably be ok." Ben laughs often. Ben has his joy.
This week Ben will be fitted with hearing aides that should not only augment the hearing in his good ear , but will allow him to sense sound in the ear that is deaf as well. I believe that this is going to make a huge difference in his life. It has to be terribly frustrating to not hear properly when your mind is so eager to communicate. Ben can hardly wait to be fitted. He did ask if the aides would be noticeable... a sign of the old Ben.
Caring for Ben and providing rehabilitation is covered by insurance and DARS (Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services) for now. Jim and I will probably be facing the same struggles in providing care for Ben as noted in previous updates sometime in the spring. Our hope is that Ben will be in a much better place in his recovery to allow more options for living and therapy. I am preparing to take my Pediatric Medical Board Recertifyng exam in the next month or two. A practice exam question about head trauma was in my readings today. The explanation noted, "Traumatic Brain Injuries are the leading cause of death or disability in the United States and the leading cause of death in children from 1 to 19 years of age. Among children there are 7,000 deaths and 60,000 hospitalizations annually for TBI". These statistics are for kids. (Sorry, I am a pediatrician.) Young adults, like Ben and the elderly have equally concerning numbers. TBI is a chronic disease and it is common compared to many other medical conditions. With a condition that is common, why is finding care so difficult? I am praying that God keeps showing the way as we continue to look for living and therapeutic options for Ben. Thanks to everyone who continues to follow and pray for Ben. It will be good!
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.