There was an automobile accident last May in which a young woman, Kim, was injured. She was hospitalized with serious and life threatening injuries. Her mother, Beverly, shared Kim's story in snippets and photos on a web site for photographers -- 365Project.org. I first shared this last July (Click HERE to read it).
Beverly's comments reflected the fear of a parent whose child is in danger...
"Third surgery in two weeks, this time for a tracheotomy in her throat rather than through her mouth. Still unresponsive. Three parts of her brain have been affected by the strokes."Later comments reflected the hope of a parent whose child is working hard to recover.
"...her neurologist felt that she should be given only two more weeks to respond before she should be taken off her feeding tube."
"...neurosurgeon is worried about her eyesight and the entire left side of her body as that still doesn't appear to be making any kind of progress with either."
"...my motto has always been 'It ain't over til it's over,'"Facing Challenges
"Can you see me smiling from where you are...I haven't felt this positive in two months!"
"Where there's life, there's hope."
"My child never fails to amaze me. This young woman, who was virtually given up on by some doctors less than two months ago, is nearing the date when she will be coming home to her family and friends..."
When I posted about this in July there were still significant problems which needed attention...and for the last 6 months, while the rest of us have been going about our ordinary day to day lives, Kim has been working hard at healing. Here are some recent entries...pictures from Project365 and comments.
November 23 Determination
Kim is progressing well, now doing 7 hours of rehab a week -- physical, occupational and speech...still struggling with her left arm and her index finger on her right hand, but she certainly is showing improvement. They have localized her visual problem. It is called "left neglect" and it has been impairing her comprehension when she reads. Imagine a book page with a line down the middle and you were only reading the words to the right of that line...
The index finger problem affects lots of things, from being able to dress herself and putting on socks to writing. Her left arm and hand are being worked on and she can now raise it to almost shoulder height by herself, but the fingers and actual arm control are still a problem.
This is not a great photo, but I just noticed the poster on the wall and thought it very fitting so posted it anyway.
~~~I disagree. It's a great photo...emphasis on determination.
November 24 ThanksgivingAnd some good can come from even the most difficult experiences...
I am thankful for roses in late November...thankful I have a home, family and enough to eat, but most of all I am thankful that Kim was at our dinner table this holiday. It's been a long and arduous seven months.
November 26 Changes to ER policy
Due to Kim's case, Greenville Memorial Hospital has changed it's procedure for admitting trauma patients. They will now all have scans of their carotid arteries to detect any damage. Hopefully this can prevent something like this happening to someone in the future. Although airbags can save lives, they can also cause serious damage.
December 12 Update on Kim
...her newest "trick" -- being able to raise her left arm, place it on a table and rest her chin on it. They are doubling-down on working on her left arm and it is paying off.
She is still struggling with the fingers on her right hand and her speech, but both do show signs of improvement with each passing week.
She will be spending the days this week and next at "the farm" with her son Hayden. Her husband leaves them lunch each day so neither of them have to worry about anything other than resting and relaxing (I understand 3rd grade is difficult according to Hayden).
Having taught third grade for many years I can relate to Hayden's feeling about its difficulty. Perseverance helps with that, too.
Notice, also, the small improvements...arm movements, vision, speech...slow, but steady improvement.
January 3 2012 - New Beginnings
Today is a very, very special day. Kim is officially moved back to her home...
Today is the first day she will be spending completely by herself from the time her husband went to work until he comes home this afternoon.
Her hard work has payed off for her. There's still plenty to go, but this is a proud day for me as she has come so far since this spring.
January 4 The Balance Board
Kim at physical therapy on Monday. I'll bet this is harder to do than it looks.
Her husband reports that when he came home from work yesterday she had loaded and run the dishwasher, cleaned all the countertops and made the kitchen shine.
Her father bought her fresh blueberries today as she wants to try to make blueberry muffins tomorrow. She is certainly finding entertaining things for herself while she is alone all day.
Children and the Development of Courage, Perseverance and Resilience
So, why have I taken the time to blog about Kim and her family? This is an education blog. My entries, with very few exceptions. have focused on my own career and on the things I believe need to change in Federal, State, and even local public education policy. Where does Kim fit in with this?
As educators we try to help our students grow, not just academically, but emotionally and personally. The most important moments in a student's school life are generally not when he or she gets an A in a course or on a test. Just like in "real life" the most important moments in school come when children are challenged. Developing a positive response to those challenges is more important than any test or grade.
The ability to face challenges is perhaps the most important skill we learn in life. Developing the courage to face obstacles can mean the difference between a successful life and an unsuccessful one. Courage is not the absence of fear...it doesn't mean you're not afraid. Courage means you face what life offers you despite the fear which threatens to immobilize you.
Facing challenges is a common theme in children's literature...finding the strength and courage to face life's challenges appears in book after book...The Little Prince...Stone Fox...Maniac Magee...Summer of the Swans...Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (I could continue for pages and still be accused of leaving out excellent examples). Facing challenges as a theme is common because life presents us with challenges every day...and we gain inspiration from reading about people who overcome those challenges.
Developing the courage to face life's challenges begins in childhood...it begins when someone stands up to a bully on the playground...or when someone overcomes the fear of speaking in class or making a mistake. Still more difficult challenges are placed on children each day...surviving a divorce or the death of a parent...facing serious illness or injury...going hungry or homeless...being alone. Those are the bases for developing the courage to face life. That is where perseverance, determination, and resilience are built.
Kim's story is one such story of perseverance, determination, and courage. It's not unlike the stories told in literature...and in the daily news...of people overcoming life's difficulties. It's important to her family because it's her story, but it's important to the rest of us because of the example it represents.
Three generations are brought together in this story. The mother is challenged with a threat to her child. Beverly knows that her daughter needs her support and help. The daughter struggles to overcome the challenges she faces. Kim works hard to heal, not just for herself, but for her family as well. The grandchild is challenged with the knowledge that his parents are vulnerable...mortal. More important, however, is the lesson Hayden learns as he sees the adults in his life working together without giving up. His parents and grandparents (not to mention the wider community of friends and relatives) support him...while he learns the lesson of perseverance.
In this way, the ability to meet life's challenges is passed from parent, to child, to grandchild. Each of them, in turn, shares that experience with others -- friends, family, coworkers, classmates -- and by doing so, everyone grows. Sharing the experience inspires the rest of us...
The last photo I posted in July was one of Kim's hand in her son's...as much a comfort to her as it was to him. Today's last photo, is chronologically out of order, but its message is the one I'd like to leave you with. Here is the family...each holding the others for support and strength, getting stronger every day, ready to continue the process of recovery together.
...and one last comment from Beverly...
December 24 Christmas Eve 2011
My beautiful little family...