Wednesday, March 13, 2013

365 - March 13, 2013 - One Year Mark

Have you ever looked back on a moment in your life and thought... that seems like just yesterday, but at the same time it also feels like forever ago?

Scott's accident feels a lot like that.

Today marks one year since the accident happened. One of the most difficult years we have had to face. I couldn't be more proud and thankful for the person Scott is and how hard he has fought this entire time.

As Mat Kearney says in his song - Closer To Love

She got the call today
One out of the gray
And when the smoke cleared
It took her breath away

She said she didn't believe
It could happen to me
I guess, we're all one phone call from our knees

The past year has been a reminder that life doesn't always go according to plan or how we think it should go. When you suddenly find yourself looking at an uncertain future of possibly becoming a widow at 24 years old, or taking care of someone you love who could possibly be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life, or watch him struggle to walk when he use to run marathons, watch him relearn to breath on his own when he could sing and play the guitar, watch him struggle to add simple numbers when he was near the top of him medical class, when you look at the life you have worked hard to plan and prepare for and watch all of that slip away... in one phone call.

We have watched as Scott has fought through all of these trials and hardships to overcome and truly astound all those around him at his ability to prevail over this obstacle... without so much as uttering one complaint. 

In our office here at home I decided to make it into a place of hope and inspiration. I gathered a few of our favorite quotes and made them into word art to hang on the walls. 
Here are a few of our favorites. 

What we have been doing since the last post:

Scott is currently in ultra study mode. He attends therapy sessions for two half days a week focusing on therapies in Speech, Group Psychology, and Occupational therapy. When he isn't at therapy he is home studying. (Except on Sundays when he takes a break) I don't know about most of you, but have you ever tried to study for at least 15 hours straight? Imagine doing this day, after day, after day. What is Scott studying so hard for you may ask... Well he is scheduled to take step 2 of his boards in one week. 

What this means for Scott:

Step 2 of the boards is basically a comprehensive exam covering the information gained in your third year of medical school. It also helps residency programs in deciding if they would like to take you on as a resident after graduating from medical school. Step 1 of Scott's boards went very well. He scored in the 89th percentile. Basically we want him to take step 2 of the boards to show residencies that he still has the smarts he had before. Many medical students put off taking step 2 until the middle or end of their fourth year of school because most residencies weigh their decision on the step 1 score of the boards, class ranking, as well as audition rotations. A lot of students feel if they scored well enough on step 1, taking step 2 might hurt their chances of getting in where they want if they don't score as well.

But for Scott we found that it might be a reassuring to those who question his ability to recall, apply and use the medical information he has. Because this test is such a big deal he has been studying since October for it. Scott has taken multiple practice tests to predict how he might score on the test.

Scott took his first practice test on January 14th he scored a 341. You need a score of at least 400 just to pass the exam.

After his first score came out I was upset. I was scared that Scott might not ever be able to do what he has dreamed of his whole life. I worried that he wouldn't be able to make it back to school and that he would have to wait another year before he could attend school again.
Scott's response in all of this is the perfect example of who Scott is and why I will continue to be so amazed and awed by him. He admitted to me that it frustrated and disappointed him that he didn't pass the test. But that is where the conversation ended. He sat down on his own and made a new study schedule, he presented this new schedule and plan to his therapists. He included an excel chart that mapped his daily practice test scores, what the average for the score was, and if he fell above or below average.

To those on the outside this might not look like anything significant but for someone who has had a traumatic brain injury this is a very big deal. Scott's deficits have a lot to do with the frontal lobe of the brain. This controls executive functions. I always think of what an executive does at an office to help me remember what this means.

Executive Functions in the brain help to control:
  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Strategizing
  • Paying Attention
  • Remembering Details
  • Managing Time and Space

After revamping his entire study schedule his therapists were all very impressed at what this meant for Scott. They applauded him for taking this disappointing information and turning it into a learning and growing opportunity. Night after night Scott would come to bed tired and excited. He would relay the day's practice scores to me and talk about what he learned.

Scott took his 2nd official practice test March 4th and scored a 501. A score of 500 is average. We jumped for joy at this news. Scott was able to score one point above the average medical student on his test.

The next Step: Scott takes the actual tests on March 18th and the 21st We welcome any thoughts, prayers, or general good vibes sent his way!!

Other big goals for the future:

Scott is set to go back to medical school June 10th. He will be working at the school's clinic to assess his stamina and working knowledge. He will be monitored by his therapists as well as the school's administration. We are very excited to be taking this step and are hoping and praying that all goes well.

A few months after that Scott will head out of state for to begin his audition rotations. There are a few places we have in mind including Utah, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona.

As for me what I have been up to:

For the past couple of years I have been assessing the possibility of attaining a Child Life Certification. 

What is Child Life:

“To promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Because they understand that a child’s wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.”

The requirements for the certification include:
  • A minimum of a Bachelors Degree (in Child Life, or a closely related field)
  • A minimum of 10 college courses that relate to Child Life
  • Completion of an unpaid Internship that is at least 480 hours but can be up to 640 hours. (These internship programs are highly competitive and often applicants must apply all over the country to gain entrance into a program)
  • Passing the Certification Examination

Right before Scott's accident I was scheduled to attend an open house for Phoenix Children's Hospital Child Life program. I was going to be applying for their internship program and wanted to make some connections. Unfortunately Scott's accident happened the week I was to attend.

Knowing that Scott's road to recovery would be a long one I decided that I would do whatever it takes to help support Scott in getting better. I knew that also meant the potential to finding a career that would bring in a stable form of income. Most of my photography and artistic pursuits help to bring in extra income but don't allow for stable financial support.

I made the choice to apply for the internship program. I knew that I needed to apply locally so that I could still be here for Scott when he needed me. That left me two places to apply. At first I didn't get the position, looking back I can see it would have been very difficult to manage getting Scott to therapy and putting in the time and energy it takes to fulfill this type of commitment to an internship program. I made one last effort to apply knowing that the requirements of the profession would soon be changing requiring me to go back to school and spend approximately $3,000 + to gain the needed class work requirements.

During the waiting period between applying for the first internship opportunity and the second, I began volunteering at two separate hospitals.
Phoenix Children's Hospital – This happens to be about 3 miles away from Scott's therapy program
Banner Thunderbird Medical Center- This hospital is about 2 miles from our home

Halloween - 2012 Banner Thunderbird Child Life

iHeart Kids Hope-A-Thon
I was blessed to be selected to start as the Banner Thunderbird Child Life Intern in January of this year. Over the past couple of months I have learned so much. I have seen the medical side of what is like to watch a family in the PICU. (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) Recalling many of my feelings while watching Scott in the ICU after his accident. I have been able to provide support for families as they make their medical journey through their refiners fire. I have been able to prepare and teach children about medical procedures, build confidence and coping skills before having them go into surgery. I have produced fun crafts made out of medical supplies and helped children to express themselves and their feelings through playing.

Valentine's Day Celebration at the Hospital
In May I will fly to Denver Colorado to take my exam to gain certification in this profession. After that I am crossing my fingers that a job will become available to use these new skills so that I might help patients and families feel empowered through their medical experience.

Over all I continue to be amazed at just how far life has taken us in a year. We have been truly blessed by all the wonderful people around us. I can't imagine going through this year alone.

From the moment I got that phone call a year ago... to the continued kindness of friends, 
family, and neighbors today.

We are continuing to grow in love, learning, and life.

What a miracle it is to wake up and take a breath, to see the faces of the people we love, to hear the rain fall, or feel the warm embrace of a loved one.

Through everything we encounter we will continue to celebrate life!!

“In all of living, have much fun and laughter. 
Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.”

- Gordon B. Hinckley

A big thank you for all of those who continue to support us on this journey. We are humbled and thankful to be blessed by your kindness.

With much love,

Scott & Ashley