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.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Today marks 26 months since Ben's injury. Currently it seems to be a season of rest for our family because many of the harsh problems described in previous posts, have resolved or have settled down to a manageable place.  The Colorado house where Ben currently lives is staffed with personnel trained to maximize the lives and potential of  young men who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. The home is in a beautiful suburban neighborhood with mountain views and wildlife. There is a back deck where Ben spends much of his time outside with nature. Today Ben went to a nearby lake and spent time fishing and hanging out. He has been to festivals and concerts. He goes to the gym three times a week.The staff includes him in shopping, household upkeep, and cooking. Trips to restaurants and movies are frequent. Ben has developed good friends in the place that he lives. It is not all fun and games, however. Ben is still receiving rewards and consequences for his ongoing behavior management program. The director also has a curriculum for working on the cognitive and memory issues that affect all of the residents in this house. Every time I hear about the effort this director puts into her ongoing search for activities to enrich the lives of these young men, I thank God for her heart and calling.

Jim has made two recent trips to visit Ben. They visited Pikes Peak one weekend and traveled to the Keystone area the next weekend. Ben loves Colorado although he still often speaks of coming home to Texas. It's hard to tell him no, but Texas has nothing to enrich his life. God seems to have opened the doors for us in Colorado.

If you are keeping up with Ben's story, you know that the past few months have not been easy. Ben has been hospitalized in psychiatric facilities three separate times and has been asked to leave one group home for traumatic brain injury since moving to Colorado. Looking back, however, miracles abound in this story. Ben has qualified for both short term and longterm Medicaid in Colorado. He also has been granted a "brain injury waiver" which will help with many of the things he needs. Jim and I carry private medical insurance for him, but this doesn't help with providing a living environment that will move him toward healing. ALL of the tedious paperwork was filled out for us during these hospitalizations. I had no idea what I needed to do. It was taken care of for me in the midst of the mess.

The largest obstacle to Ben living a productive life in recent months has been difficult behaviors. With every promising living arrangement, an episode of confrontational behavior from Ben,  would send us into a tailspin. During the third psychiatric hospitalization, a bright nurse practitioner changed his medications dramatically. Ben, at that time also developed more self-awareness about the consequences of his behavior. (An answer to prayer.) Thirdly, the right home environment presented itself. As mentioned before, it is run by a director who really understands people with traumatic brain injury. The well intentioned staff in the first Colorado group home didn't.

We are believing God for Ben's cognition and memory to improve. There is still much ground to gain in these areas. Ben cannot process steps to a goal. It is difficult to get him to pursue any interest with diligence although he wants to "go back to school". Emotional outbursts, have lessened, but this will be a continual battle for Ben. I am praising God for this miraculous respite although I want so much more for Ben. He is joyful. We hear from him daily through calls, texts, emails and photos. As best he can, Ben shares his life with us. As best we can, we share our lives here in Texas with him. Tonight I told him to shave because he looked like a terrorist. With a smile on his face, I was just treated to the "before and after'" photos of Ben's shave. Ben took a photo of the beautiful night sky and sent it to me earlier this week. The accompanying text, "Ok, I'm just out on the porch upstairs and was looking at this holy scene!!! Thought you might like it, mom!!!" It is good!