Journal Entry: July 9, 2022
There’s a good chance the magnitude and diversity of emotions, thoughts, and expectations from this experience have caught up to me, leaving me without words. Yet, I will attempt to put into words what this moment is for us, how it relates to the past 72 days, and how it might appear to shape the future.
I’ll start with the facts, only facts to the extent that we understand them to be. After all, many times some unknown comes along to either render a fact fictitious or alter context, turning that fact or assortment of facts to controversy.
Most often, we just want to know, right? Then just as often, we don’t get to know, particularly in matters of the future. In the absence of knowing, we rely on faith. This faith can carry us, with small miracles along the way, weaving joy into the difficulty.
That said, it is a fact that Cole came home to Ipswich this past Wednesday, July 6, 68 days after the accident. We are all ready for this next chapter. His health merits this move, and we will not miss the daily commute to Boston.
Cole’s progress has defied the diagnoses rendered by the multitude of tests. We’ve seen many a healthcare provider shocked at a particular one-on-one interaction or at his overall progress. We hoped for this—even more so as time has passed, and we process some of the earlier, less positive expectations laid before us—and this defiance appears to be authentic.
As much as we know it is ok to let go of that “waiting for the other shoe to drop” feeling, the experiences of that first month in Orlando made its mark on our coping mechanisms. I think Linda has let go of this feeling better than I have.
That balance of being ready for anything yet looking forward can be challenging. Regardless, we are both looking and moving forward, embracing whatever additional methods of healing we can discover and introduce.
Cole continues to depart from suffering. This departure is not complete, nor will it ever be. Suffering in life never really ends but rather can change in form and intensity, with empathy and joy as counterbalance. In Cole’s case, the physical suffering from his traumatic car accident is on the decline.
We have seen him fight for his life, re-establish basic bodily functions, relearn daily self-care, and walk after some 45 days of lying in bed. He is on his feet and motivated but still fighting some balance issues, which will improve with increased movement and therapies.
The PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) or feeding tube in his abdomen is scheduled to be removed on July 20. We inject clean water 4 times daily to keep the line clear and apply new gauze daily.
Cole communicates in a tone in between a whisper and full voice, and this improves daily. He smiles when I tell him he’s got a Clint Eastwood voice-thing going on—along the lines of “Go ahead, make my day.”
His appetite is very good as he is eating normal food, although not quite out of the minced stage due to swallowing challenges. This will improve with time as well. Cole’s body is far along in the healing process, a tribute to his earlier athleticism and his strong spirit.
Cole’s mind continues to consolidate with his toughest challenges being memories of the last 6 months. This past week, he won 3 out of 4 initial games of UNO with his family and has won some cribbage matches. He will have moments when he is foggy on some topics, and any given day can come in and out of perspective.
His neurological challenges are generally tied to fatigue. Overall, he is advancing and coping quite well. Cole’s sense of humor is intact and perhaps even somehow enhanced.
Last week when we were wheeling Cole out of his room for a walk outside, the process to get him ready to go (all of us doting on him) led one of us to refer to him as King Cole. He quickly raised his right hand and gave us the Queen Elizabeth wave, cupping his hand and spinning his wrist.
He will also on occasion have a funny thought come to mind leading him to laugh to the point where he cannot explain what it is that is funny. The physical side of laughing is still a bit of a challenge, and he cannot talk until it subsides. I think the struggle itself makes him laugh as well.
Cole’s attitude, patience, and spirit have been incredible during this ordeal. We’ve not seen him angry or impatient. Motivated yet calm. He seems to have known all along the best way for him to go about this—patient with himself, his therapies, and people around him.
We admire his good nature in light of all that he has been through. Cole and all of us have found new gratitude in simpler things. Priorities have been and continue to be re-aligned.
There is no doubt that through this tragic experience there have been and continue to be many small miracles, smaller circles of goodness circling around this broader crisis. Everyone in Cole’s and our communities are examples of this goodness, shoring us up as we navigate these challenges.
I suppose in sum, they likely amount to one large miraculous experience.
Then there are the more esoteric experiences such as the rainbow we encountered on our way out of Spaulding hospital a couple of weeks ago.
As I pulled out of the underground parking garage towards the gate and into the light, I realized there was a late-day glow conducive to rainbows—that glow reminiscent of wearing yellow-tinted sunglasses. The sun was setting to the west and horizontally illuminating the area underneath a substantial cloud cover to the east and overhead.
The clouds were heavy and dark, giving up their burden as gravity pulled water down from them in the distance in the form of rain. I looked up, and to the east at the parking gate, I could see the leg of a rainbow. As I turned from Spaulding’s entrance and drove some 75 yards or so down the road I decided to stop and get out of the car to take a broader look.
It was a remarkable sight! Had I not detected the glow and looked up and to the east, I would not have seen this marvel. These are the moments when I wonder what miracles we miss because we don’t choose to see. In the shadows of this crisis for our family, I hope and pray that we can have the strength and gratitude to see the light and miracles at work.