Quite the handsome devil.

31 July 2012

First Day = success

We had a great first day of school!  Jackson has some amazing and talented therapists and caregivers.  He was sleepy at times but he worked hard and earned every nap in between therapy sessions.  Today, for the first time he picked up a towel and wiped his own mouth without being asked, pet one of the therapy dogs who came to visit, gave me a low five, and nodded when I asked him if he was ready to get back in bed. It was thrilling to see, especially the nodding which I hope he keeps doing since he isn't talking yet and it's at least one way we can find out  what he wants.

I feel so blessed to be here. Even after one day I can see how great this is going to be for Jackson. One of the therapists told me today that one of the greatest indicators of how well someone will do in rehab is the support of their family. If that's the case, we are all set because Jackson knows how much his family (and friends) love him and want him to get better so he can come home again.  I know Jackson would agree that we are so lucky to have so many people thinking about us and praying for us. We already miss all the friends we made at Memorial Hospital in Savannah who got us this far and made it possible for us to come here.

Thanks again for all of your prayers and support!


30 July 2012

Movin' on up

Jackson and lil' momma rode up to Atlanta this morning in an ambulance. Mom says it was not a comfortable vehicle, I believe it. They arrived safe and sound and are getting settled at Scottish Rite. We're all very excited for Jackson to start intensive therapy! Daddy followed them up in the car and made sure they're situated. He's headed back this way tonight. It sure will be nice to have him home again. He'll drive up to visit every so often, but he's pretty much home for good. The day when we are all home again as a family will be a glorious one. 

Meanwhile on the island....
We're all good here. The boys are going to be starting school soon, and so will I. I can't believe how fast the summer has gone by. Adam starts "kindygarden", Trev is going to be in 3rd grade, Jake starts high school (noooo waaaaay) plus seminary, and I'll be a junior at the Y. Mercy sakes alive. 

"The trick is to enjoy life. Don't wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead."
-Marjorie Pay Hinckley

As President Uchtdorf says: Don't wait for the golden ticket to show up, just enjoy the candy bar. We love you all.


27 July 2012


Good news!  The CT scan this morning looked good.  Jackson's brain has moved into the space made during the reconstructive surgery last week and there is noticeably less swelling. Dr. Thompson was pleased with everything and has cleared us to go to rehab.  We leave for Atlanta Monday morning!

Jackson is getting a little better each day at supported walking.  You probably never think about everything that is involved in walking, but it involves coordinating a lot of different parts of the body.  Head up and forward, eyes focused, lifting and balancing on legs, core muscles keeping you upright.  We made a full circuit of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and by the time we got finished with that and rolled in the wheelchair for a few minutes, Jackson was exhausted.  I think he enjoyed it, though.  He is a determined little boy.

The kids are planning to come see Jackson on Sunday afternoon so they can visit with him again before he leaves.  Thinking about leaving here and moving on to the next phase, I'm excited and scared at the same time (not uncommon for me throughout this whole experience).  This is just what we have been hoping and praying for and I have high hopes and expectations for Jackson's progression in an intensive therapy session. This link gives info about the brain injury program at Scottish Rite Children's Rehabilitation Center at the Children's Hospital of Atlanta.  About halfway down the page is a link to a video that shows/tells more about it.  http://choa.org/Childrens-Hospital-Services/Rehabilitation/Programs/Comprehensive-Inpatient-Rehabilitation/  

Every night we have been having a "Family" prayer with Jackson, and Emalie has one with the boys at home.  We pray for them and they pray for us.  We are so thankful to know that we have a loving Father in Heaven who hears our prayers!

We love you all,

26 July 2012

Laughter is sweet medicine.

Jackson had a good day yesterday.  Lots of good response during therapy and when the kids came to visit he just lit up.  He laughed (silently) at the funny things they were saying to him and had his eyes wide open the whole time.  That was good medicine, for everyone.

Last night Jackson had some stomach issues.  They increased his feeds plus followed with a water flush and I think it was just too much all at once.  They are giving everything over a longer period of time today and he seems to be doing better.  He's a little tired from last night's ordeal but hopefully we have everything on track again.

Tomorrow we will do another CT scan and if everything looks good neurologically, Dr. Thompson will give us clearance to go to rehab.  If they are ready for us in Atlanta, we could go early next week.  I am so excited to get Jackson going in some intensive therapy.  I think he is ready to move ahead, too.

After seeing Emalie and the boys yesterday, I'm sure Jackson is ready to be home with his family.  Even though we have a long way to go before we get back there, that is the ultimate goal.  I know I have sometimes taken for granted how lucky I am to have such a great family and a comfortable home to live in.  Believe me, I'm not taking it for granted now.    Harold B. Lee once said that, “the most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home."  My family means everything to me and I can't wait until we are all back home together.

Hug and kiss your kids today and tell them you love them!

Love to you all,

24 July 2012

Jackson is the funniest guy he knows.

I know this is hard to believe, but Jackson laughed last night. No sound involved and no change in facial expression (other than big eyes) but when Ashley showed him a funny video he made with his brothers he lit up and his body shook with laughter at the funny parts.  Is that cool, or what?

Jackson is a little more alert today, more eye contact and movement. We wore him out this morning getting him up and walking him. Then Ashley and I took him for a ride and looked out windows that showed actual trees and sky. He was very awake for all of that, but by the time we got back to his room he was ready for a good nap.

No stomach issues today. Hopefully we have resolved that. Dr. Thompson wants to do a repeat CT scan on Friday.  If we aren't having any more GI issues, I think we will get clearance to leave for rehab. Not holding my breath, but it's looking better every day.

Yesterday I was thinking about how far we have come in the last 4 weeks. There have been low points for sure, but there have been miracles both big and small. Someone told us not to hesitate to ask God for a miracle. The scripture found in Genesis 18:14 popped into my mind: "Is anything too hard for the Lord...?" I know that the One who can move mountains and is aware of the fall of a sparrow is watching over us.

Love you all,

22 July 2012

Faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.

"When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer - no matter how eloquent the oration."    -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I needed a reminder of this today. Prayer is a precious gift and, when combined with faith and trust, works wonderful miracles. But we can't expect to get anywhere or get anything we want in this life without getting out and pushing ourselves. This is the life to learn how to do hard things. This is our time to work out our salvation. We cannot expect someone to give us a golf cart ride along the straight and narrow, it is made for walking. For crawling. For making our way inch by inch. 

This is not an easy road. There are challenges ahead that will try our faith and test our courage. But we have come this far and we will go as far as we have already determined to go. Our journey is marked, and our Guide leads the way. I miss Jackson very much. I feel a great amount of concern for his welfare and, a bit selfishly, that he can be back with us soon. But I am not worried. It will all work out. It already is. 

Recently my Dad told me about how he enjoys reading about the early Saints in Missouri and the struggles and hardships they dealt with. He explained that it gives him great strength to read about their perseverance. I'm glad no one ever asked me to be a pioneer, cause I think I probably would have been a pitiful plain-crosser. My adversities may not be "ideal", but I'll take them. I am grateful for the example of those Saints who trusted the Lord enough to leave behind their comfort and homes, and who endured the loss of much more on the trek west. They pushed through the mud and the snow, pushed through their tears and sorrow, back-breaking pain and endless toil. We can do this. Gird up your loins, fresh courage take, our God will never us forsake. 

All is well. We love you and are so grateful for the prayers and support. Happy Sunday!

Love, Em

You get what you need.

Jackson is still very swollen this morning and the pain medication makes it hard for him to respond much.  He has mostly been resting. I got a look at the incision this morning. It looks good and there is noticeably less "bumpiness" in the fracture area.  He seems to be comfortable for the most part.  But I'm having a hard time believing that he will be ready to leave here before the end of the week.

Yesterday I went home to see the kids for a while.  It strikes me every time how the whole family dynamic changes when even one member of the family is missing.  Tuesday will be 4 weeks since the accident, and I miss Jackson.   I have to admit that there is some grieving involved since I have come to the realization that he will probably never be the same little boy.  The only thing that makes me feel better when I start thinking this way is to remember that he will be the little boy that Heavenly Father wants him to be.  I guess that's probably true of all of us.  If we let Him, the Lord will make of us what we are supposed to become.  Often that process can be painful and hard.  You don't always get what you want, sometimes you get what you need.

In spite of my feelings of wishing I could take my ball and go home, I am grateful for all that has been done for Jackson and for our family.  From the amazing nurses and doctors who have cared for him, to the friends and family who have encouraged us and uplifted us in so many ways, we feel so blessed and loved.  We appreciate your continuing prayers and support.


20 July 2012

[insert clever title]

Jackson's surgery went well.  Dr. Thompson came out and talked to us when he was finished and we all agreed that we were glad we did the surgery.  There was a floating bone fragment that we hadn't seen on the scans, and a tear in the dura.  Dr. Thompson fixed these things, fixed the fracture and smoothed down any other areas he was concerned about.  He said he checked carefully and didn't see any other leaks or areas of concern.  That floating bone fragment could have had huge consequences down the road and we are grateful that Heavenly Father has blessed our doctor with knowledge and skills that helped Jackson.

If all goes well this weekend, and still pending final approval and instructions from Scottish Rite, we will probably still be on track to leave on Tuesday or Wednesday for rehab.  Dr. Thompson has ordered a CT scan for Monday morning and if all looks good, he will give us clearance to go.

Last week the thought of Jackson enduring another surgery, especially one to open his skull, was not appealing to me.  But after talking with the doctor and praying that we would be led to do the right thing for Jackson, we both felt very much at peace about this surgery and felt like it was the right thing to do.  That was definitely confirmed after talking to Dr.Thompson and hearing that he was also glad we did the surgery and that he was pleased with the outcome.  

The Lord continues to direct the events surrounding our lives.  We are so grateful for the prayers offered in Jackson's behalf and for the many miracles we have witnessed!

Love to you all,


19 July 2012

Another day, another miracle. Rinse. Repeat.

Looks like surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, hopefully first thing in the morning. It will take between 2 and 3 hours if everything goes as expected. Dr. Will Thompson is an amazingly talented neurosurgeon and we feel blessed to have him taking care of Jackson. He has what is known as a "depressed skull fracture" which means that it is slightly concave in the area of the fracture. Dr. Thompson will fix that (probably with metal plates) and check for any tears to the "dura" which is the membrane around the brain that holds in the cerebral fluid.  The general term for Jackson's injury is "Traumatic Brain Injury". This is all terminology I never wanted to know, but I have nevertheless learned a whole new vocabulary.

Every day I see Jackson doing more that he wasn't doing yesterday. Today I see more eye movement, increased neck control, more periods of being awake. Yesterday when the therapist held him under his arms and moved forward, he was moving his legs in walking motions and even more today, along with bearing a little weight. We rolled him outside for the first time today and sat by the fountain and his eyes got so big. He seemed to really enjoy being out there and hopefully we will be able to do that more often.

Still waiting on final approval from Atlanta. I think we will know something by tomorrow. We'll see how everything goes with the surgery/ recovery and that will determine when we leave for rehab.

I am especially grateful today for the friends and family that Heavenly Father has blessed me with.  The words of support and comfort have uplifted me in more ways than any of you can ever know. So many prayers and acts of service have been offered in our behalf and we feel abundantly blessed. We love you all.


18 July 2012

Ingrams aren't quitters.

So let's cut to the chase, here's the latest:

We're 98.42% sure Jackson is headed to Atlanta for rehabilitation soon! Just waiting on the okay from their medical director, but he's basically set. It's the Scottish Rite at the Children's Hospital in Atlanta. They have given him a "scholarship" (financial aid) and approved him as a good candidate for the program. It's really the best thing that could have happened. That rehab facility is the best in the country for pediatric TBIs (traumatic brain injury). Jackson is blessed to have the opportunity to go there and get help from amazing physical therapists, speech therapists, etc. Maybe I'll shadow his speech therapist while I'm there...

After looking over the MRI they took a few days ago, the neurosurgeon has made some decisions. They are going to do surgery after all, on Friday. He wants to make sure the dura mater (membrane covering the brain which keeps the fluids in) is in good shape and to put in a plate for the skull fracture just in case. This is mostly precautionary to prevent any other issues down the road. We're hoping and praying all goes well with that! As soon as Jackson has recovered from that surgery, he should be headed off to Atlanta. Momma says even with the limited amount of therapy they have been giving him while still in the PICU he seems to be responding well. His muscle strength and control continues to improve. He has more periods of being awake and is showing improvement in baby steps. We are so blessed to have such great medical care. Jackson has been surrounded by fantastic professionals from day one and they are giving him everything they can. 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently wrote a book entitled Created for Greater Things, and this is a quote/story from it:

What is the best that lies within us? Of how much are we capable? None of us yet knows. An old Arabic legend tells of a rider finding a spindly sparrow lying on its back in the middle of the road. He dismounted and asked the sparrow why his feet were in the air.
Replied the sparrow, "I heard the heavens were going to fall today."
"And I suppose you think your puny bird legs can hold up the whole universe?" laughed the horseman.
"Perhaps not," said the sparrow with conviction, "but one does whatever one can."

I feel like that puny sparrow. I'm just one little girl, trying to do whatever I can. I never thought I could ever deal with something like this. My worst fear has always been that something would happen to my family, something that I couldn't fix. I may not be able to hold up the universe myself, but I'm sure gonna do whatever is in my power. I can still keep trying and keep pressing forward and I can still kneel and pray to my Father in Heaven. And He can fix things. We may not have control over everything, but I witness that He does. He expects us to do what we can and trust that He knows what is absolutely best. Just because it seems impossible or beyond our capability doesn't mean we should throw up our hands and let it all go; as President Hinckley said, "You have not failed until you quit trying." We're not going to quit trying. Jackson's not gonna quit trying. We're in this until the end. 

Keep praying for him. He loves you all, and so do we. 

Love, Emalie (my parents' favorite daughter)

Jackson and Jake

16 July 2012

New room!

Jackson switched rooms today!  Since he is no longer in the "acute" phase, we moved a few doors down, a little further from all the noise and action of the main desk.  His new room is just a tiny bit bigger, too, which makes a big difference.  What this all means is that we have overcome some major hurdles and are moving into a new phase of treatment.  We are less worried about Jackson's survival and are now looking toward treatment and rehabilitation.  

Today Jackson had a feeding tube put in surgically.  Everything went well with the surgery and we are hoping he will be a little happier without the tube in his mouth that went to his stomach.  It annoyed him and made him gag and he was constantly chewing on it.  Hopefully the new tube will allow better feedings and we can put some weight back on him.

I had an interesting experience today.  I was having a really hard morning, feeling rather sorry for myself.  It seems unfair sometimes that we should have to keep living life, working, paying bills, etc. when there is a crisis in our lives, doesn't it?  But that's the way it is.  Life keeps going.  I'm stressed about what's next for Jackson.  The rehab center we are hoping to send him to won't accept SC medicaid and we're not sure where we are going yet.  I just want the best possible rehabilitative care we can get for him and it's another situation where I feel like I don't have much control over what happens.  All of these things, plus something Jake posted on FB this morning just had me wishing I could go have a good cry somewhere.  While Jackson was in surgery, I walked across the street to the RMcD house to eat some lunch.  I was hoping nobody would talk to me and I could eat quickly and go wallow in my room for a few minutes.  One of the "Dads" came in and started talking to me while I was fixing lunch.  He was asking about Jackson and then he told me about the terrible car accident he was in about 20 years ago.  He had the same type of brain injury Jackson has (only more severe and with other injuries) and told me all about his experience of being in a coma for 2 1/2 months, going through rehabilitation and all about his recovery.  He answered my questions and kept telling me that Jackson would be fine because he is young and healthy and he is already progressing so quickly.  By the time I finished talking to him and ate my lunch, I felt so much better.  I know that this was a little gift from Heavenly Father.  He seems to always know when I am struggling and just what I need.  And this was just what I needed today.  Our problems haven't all gone away, but I felt the peace and comfort that can only come from a loving Father in Heaven to a child in need.

If Jackson could tell all of you what's in his heart, I know he would tell you that he loves you and that he appreciates your prayers and all that you have done for him and his family.  And he would give everyone a big hug if he could.  I have faith that one day he will be able to say and do all of those things himself.


14 July 2012

Growing pains.

Everything went well with the MRI yesterday.  We were able to remove the neck brace after 2 1/2 weeks and give Jackson something pretty close to a bath.  He was pretty active last night before we left, moving everything including his head.  Lots of involuntary movements at this point while the brain is rewiring and the body gets used to interpreting signals again.

As far as the fracture and the plan for treating it, we will meet with Dr. Thompson the neurosurgeon on Monday and discuss our options.  I have a feeling that he will want to let it heal on it's own rather than do anything that might risk causing problems with the brain.  We'll see what he has to say on Monday.

Looks like we will be going forward with a feeding tube sometime in the next few days.  It will take a while for Jackson to get used to eating again and we don't want him to lose any more weight.  Ashley and I are considering putting lots of pureed fruits and veggies in there.  Wonder if Jackson would notice?

Going home to spend time with the kids and do some errands today.  It's been over a week since I've been home.  Emalie does such a good job putting up with all of the chaos of the Ingram boys and is even sacrificing the pleasure of sleeping in.  Hopefully it will be a quiet day here at the hospital with Ashley and Jackson.

We are so grateful for all of your thoughtfulness and concern and prayers.  Our family couldn't make it through this without the support of our family and friends, and the love of our Heavenly Father.  Growing pains sure hurt, but hopefully they will make us stronger, better people.

We love you,

13 July 2012

Focusing on today.

Looks like the MRI is still on track for this afternoon.  They were thinking they might have to postpone due to scheduling conflicts, but the neurosurgeon (Dr. Thompson) put his foot down.  It will mainly give the neurosurgeon information about how to proceed with treating his injury.  For the rest of us, it won't tell us much other than whether or not we can remove his neck brace, etc.  I will update as soon as I know something following the procedure.

Jackson is still mostly asleep.  This is common with traumatic brain injuries.  It takes a long time for external neuro-functions to resume since most of the energy is put toward fixing what was damaged.  This stage may last for a while.  We think we may be transferred to a children's rehab facility in Atlanta that is reputed to be one of the best facilities for kids in the country, esp. for traumatic brain injury.  That might happen in a week or 2.  Everything has been removed as far as machines except mouth feeding tube through which he gets feeds and occasional meds. which are still being weaned.  We think a stomach tube will be inserted before long.

I slept more last night than I have in a while.  Stress is exhausting.  I think it is catching up with me lately and I've had to rest more.  I try to keep my feet up as I sit with Jackson because these floors are very unforgiving.  Such is hospital life.  

I try not to focus on how far we have to go.  It's too overwhelming.  Instead, I try to focus on how far we have come.  We have seen so many miracles already and I know there are more in store for this strong, amazing, beautiful boy.  

My prayers are much more in earnest these days.  There are so many things outside of my control that I have to turn over to the Lord.  It's all in His hands and I'm grateful for the blessings he has bestowed on us.  We are so thankful for good friends and family, for all of your love and support and prayers. 

Love, Heather

12 July 2012

His hands.

Jackson is breathing a little easier today and so am I.  They are slowly decreasing the amount of oxygen he is getting in his nasal canula, and he is still doing well.  They are also slowly decreasing the amount of methadone & valium to wean him off of those.  He is still so sleepy which I am sure has a lot to do with the medications that are still in his system to some degree, plus he gets totally worn out by the respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.  As respiratory therapy starts coming to an end when he starts to move around more, occupational and physical therapies will become more intense.  The speech therapist came in to evaluate him today and I'm sure that will begin soon as well.

An MRI is scheduled for tomorrow.  This will give a better and more thorough picture of everything around the skull fracture.  If everything looks good, they will be able to remove the neck brace Jackson has been wearing for over 2 weeks as a precaution.  A feeding tube will most likely put in until he can get back to the point of being able to chew and swallow again.

I can't tell you how much I have appreciated all of the encouraging texts, messages, phone calls, etc. that I have received.  Sometimes when I am in a valley emotionally, someone will contact me with just what I needed to hear.  I know our Heavenly Father inspires us to be His hands and help one another.  I feel so grateful to have so many inspired people in my life who help uplift me when I need it most.

My love to all of you,

11 July 2012

Kiss those machines goodbye! (after they're sanitized, gross)

Jackson is troopin'. He is such a strong boy and even with the difficulty of being weaned off of the sedatives he is working so hard to get better. Yesterday was hard because he struggled with breathing completely on his own again after two weeks of being stuck with that ventilator and had to deal with the whole medicine withdrawal situation. Today he is in much better shape, the steroids they gave him are helping take away the swelling in his airway. His muscles that are in charge of breathing are probably a little worn out and need some recuperation so they've been letting him rest. Since the sedatives have been lowered he's getting closer to waking up, still not quite there. He seems to be able to hear people and listens when you talk which is great! We are anxious to see that happy and spirited boy again, and for him to see us.

I drove up to Savannah today with Trevor and Adam and picked up Rae on the way. We went to the hospital and met up with Momma and Daddy at the RMcD house to get some lunch. That place is fantastic, the people who run it are just wonderful and they take such good care of the families there. I'm so glad my parents can stay there and have everything they need so close to Jackson. What a blessing. So we all ate some lunch and then headed across the street to see Jackson. They have special counsellors in the hospital to help prepare little kids before they visit someone who's hurt like Jack. She was so good with Trev and Adam, she let them color pictures and hang them on the walls too. The boys went into Jackson's room and were super curious about everything. They wanted to know exactly what all the tubes and stuff were for and how they worked. Such little scientists, haha. I was happy to see that they enjoyed seeing Jackson. I think it was comforting for them to see their brother, it's been over two weeks now and I bet it helped them to see he's being taken care of. The hospital staff is SO AMAZING. The team of doctors and nurses and therapists and everything in between is great. Jackson's nurse, a young resident guy, even combed his hair and made him look all snazzy before we came in to visit. It was cute. All of them gathered around when we walked in and were excited to see some little youngins running around. We Ingrams are pretty vibrant, and those boys sure are entertaining. Maybe a little wild, but people seem to like it.

All in all, it has been a happy day. Basically no more machines, while we were there one of the nurses was sanitizing the ventilator so they can take it away for good and Momma said, "I won't be sorry to see the back of that thing!" Pretty sure she hates it. He just has some IVs, feeding tubes, monitors, etc. The usual stuff. But it's a good feeling knowing that we are getting closer. Closer to having our hilarious and sweet and smart boy back. I tried to make some cheese sauce the other day, one of Jackson's specialties, but I failed. I made it, but it wasn't as good as Jackson's. So, in other words, I need my eleven-year-old brother to teach me a few more tricks.

Through this entire process, I have known that our Father in Heaven understands our trials and tribulations. But today I was thinking about how He must have felt as He watched the Savior in Gethsemane and on the cross. The most intense and painful and agonizing suffering that anyone will ever bear. His beloved Son struggled through it all, and He watched and held back because it was necessary for Him to suffer it alone. How sorrowful He must have felt! What pain in behalf of his child. He knows exactly what it's like, He really does. However, there was a wise purpose behind the sufferings. In the end the blessings far outweighed the price paid. I know that this experience "shall be for our good" (D&C 122, what a great section!). For Jackson's good, for Mom and Dad's good, for our whole family. Once again, thank you for the prayers and love. Keep sending them his way. We love you so much!

Emalie: substitute little momma and mostly the sister.

10 July 2012

Count your many blessings!

The "bolt" or pressure monitor came out this morning! That means we aren't worried about any more swelling, which is great. We have been waiting and hoping for that, it's a good step in the right direction. Since the sedatives are being lowered, he's on his way to being awake but not there yet. They took out the ventilator this afternoon, he's finally breathing on his own. The tube from the vent makes the airway swollen and a little uncomfortable so he will deal with that for the next day or two. We are hoping he can make it through this little while and get stronger quickly. Breathing on his own will become easier soon. Right now Momma and Daddy are staying with him and helping to keep him calm. Once he is awake the doctors can assess everything and we'll move on from there. We are all optimistic and holding on to the good signs.

Everyone here at the house is in good shape, Trevor is pretty much all healed up and Adam is doing well too. Jake is at Scout Camp this week, he has been soooooooo excited for this. For months. People have been taking the boys out to get some fresh air and have fun, it is so good for them. I am glad they've had some diversions. We are so grateful for the continued dinners and love and help and prayers. Our family really couldn't ask for more. Jackson is in the hands of intelligent doctors and benefits from the prayers and Priesthood blessings.

This experience has taught me a great deal about gratitude. When I focus on being grateful for everything, even the little blessings in my life, I am happier and my life is much more peaceful. I have learned to lean on my Father in Heaven and trust that He is in control. He is taking care of us and I know that His way is not always the easiest, but it will bring us back to Him and give us the promise of being together as a family forever. We are so blessed.

        When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
        When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
        Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
        And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. 


09 July 2012

The Silver Lining

The doctors decided to lower Jackson's sedatives today. He is being very active and responding to requests to move hands and legs! He's not fully conscious yet, so he hasn't opened his eyes or anything. Still in a drowsy state. Momma and Daddy are talking to him and helping to keep him calm. They still have him on the ventilator and his pressure monitor is still in place, so he is on some calming medicine until they take those out. We are fairly certain that those will be removed in the morning. It's a time of transition so we're taking things slowly and playing it by ear. It's hard to know exactly how things will go so we just pray and hope for the best. Jackson is responding well to all the doctors' decisions so far. 

We feel so lucky to have such an amazing amount of support and love from our friends and loved ones. Father in Heaven is watching out for us and Jackson, I know He hears us and has our best interest in mind. When hard times strike we often feel God must have forsaken us, but I know it is quite the opposite. He loves us with an incomprehensible love and surely feels our sorrows as well as our joys. The trials in our path are not meant to make us miserable, but rather to teach us more about our Savior and how to be like Him. Elder Holland puts it well:
"Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek. He does love you, and He knows your fears. He hears your prayers. He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed."
Thank you all for the prayers and love. Jackson is on his way.

Love, Emalie

08 July 2012

We matter to Him.

It was a nourishing and (mostly) peaceful Sunday today. I got to go see Jackson for the second time at the hospital! For me, seeing him so well taken care of and visiting my parents comforts me and reminds me that everything will be alright. Jackson is on the way to recovery at his own pace and we're just excited for him to be awake again. I miss his sweet personality and especially his sense of humor, he's so entertaining. One morning a few weeks ago he came in my room and woke me up so he could put on a "play" with some Playmobil toys he has...it was typical Jackson. He is an extraordinary boy. Our family is so lucky to have such an amazing spirit in our midst. I feel blessed to have the wonderful brothers and loving parents that I do. 

An High Priest of Good Things to Come

The link above is a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland and is one of my very favorite talks ever. (They also made part of it into a mormon message video: Good Things to Come) He describes a time in his life that was trying for him and for his family and then explains that looking back he realized there was always hope and happiness ahead. Things seemed tough, but now he has a happy family and more blessings than he has room to receive. We should look forward with faith and hope that the Lord has better things in store for us than we could even imagine. He knows our situations, our worries, our struggles, and our joys. We matter to Him. Sometimes it's hard to trust that it will be alright in the end, but it always is and always will be. Thank you so much for the prayers for Jackson and in our behalf as well. Thank you for the love and kindness you all have shown our family! 

Love, Emalie

Things that matter most.

Jackson is resting so peacefully and I am so glad.  The past few days have been calm and quiet and he has remained consistently low with his brain pressure.  This morning he had another CT scan that was favorable with no additional swelling and the doctors were happy with the results.  Tomorrow when the neurosurgeons return, I feel relatively sure they will decide to move forward with the removal of the brain monitor.  This will allow us to move forward with other things as well.

I told Ashley yesterday that it felt almost like we are waiting for the birth of a baby.  We are excited and nervous and don't know for sure what will happen.  What we do know for sure is that we can't wait to see him and for him to see us.  Even as I sit by his bed every day and hold his hand and talk to him, I miss him.  It will be a beautiful day when he opens his eyes again and recognizes us.

As I sit with Jackson, I have a lot of time to think.  A LOT of time.  The thing that I think about the most is how important the people in my life are, and how unimportant things are.  My family is my world.  Nothing is more important to me.  I feel so blessed to have a husband who is my best friend and partner in every way and these 5 beautiful children that bring us such joy.  Some of the nurses here have said that they never want to have kids because they have seen such scary things happen to children.  I think it's sad. I would rather have the love and light that comes from my kids than to have an absence of fear.

A couple of things President Monson has said in recent Conference talks have stood out to me this morning:
"Fear not.  Be of good cheer.  The future is as bright as your faith."
"We will never regret the kinds words spoken or the affection shown.  Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us."

My love to you all,
Jake, Jackson, and Emalie with leatherback turtle in yard.

07 July 2012

"...then do we with patience wait for it."

It's been a quiet morning here.  Jackson is still in a drug-induced coma. He likes the Precedex that they have him on, it makes him very calm and he doesn't get as agitated when they suction him, etc.  Still has a slight fever and they have added another antibiotic.  It will definitely help to get him off the vent and let him start clearing out his lungs.  I think this will happen in the next 2-3 days.  Since the neurosurgeons on his case are gone until Monday, I don't expect too much to happen until then.  Generally, the neurosurgeon on call won't make too many major changes.

Last night our Stake President and his wife came to visit with us in the lobby for a while.  I am still constantly amazed and awed by the outpouring of love and prayers on behalf of Jackson and our family.  I think there are probably people who don't even know us who are praying for Jackson.  Let me just tell you, we feel those prayers.  They strengthen us, and I know the Lord hears them.  There are no words to describe our gratitude for all that has been done on our behalf.

Every day I see miracles around us.  Jackson continues to progress, slowly but surely.  When I think of all that could have happened, how much worse it could have been, I know that Heavenly Father was, and still is, watching over him and our whole family.

Romans 8: 38-39

Love to you all,

06 July 2012

Sunday is coming.

Jackson was running a slight temp this morning, probably due to stuff in his lungs.  They have gotten a lot out but it's hard to get everything until he is up and moving around and doing his own coughing, etc.  They are already giving him antibiotics, but they are doing some cultures and will add other antibiotics if necessary.  He got worked up this morning (as usual) by the respiratory therapy and had a hard time calming down.  Kept breathing over the ventilator.  The good news is that he should make the transition off of the vent a little more easily.  

Speaking of transitions, it looks like we will be making some on Sunday/Monday.  Everyone is starting to prepare him for the removal of the bolt (brain pressure monitor) and with that, hopefully other things will be removed.  Today they started giving him Precedex and will begin Methadone, which will wean him off of the sedatives.  Then we will get him off of the ventilator (yay!)  It looks like, if everything goes as planned and Jackson cooperates, we will be moving forward quite a bit in just a couple of days.  I'm excited and nervous at the same time.  It seems like Jackson wants to get off of everything--he is trying to come out of sedation and trying to breathe over the vent.  Progress is good but can be a little scary, too.

We have met some really nice people in the RMcD house.  I was telling someone today that this has been quite a roller coaster ride.  When people ask me how I'm doing, the answer can change from hour to hour.  Mostly I am just grateful for the Lord taking care of Jackson and putting him in the hands of some awesome people.

Emalie posted the link to a talk by Elder Wirthlin yesterday.  It was something I really needed to read.  I had to read this quote over and over to myself:

"Each of us will have our own Fridays--those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces.  We will all experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again.  We will all have our Fridays.

But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death--Sunday will come.  In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come."

I know this is true.  Sunday isn't too far away for us.  We will make it.


05 July 2012

"They can't keep a good man down."

Last night before I left to go sleep, Jackson got all worked up over the deep suctioning they were doing and started to hyperventilate.  They had to bag him temporarily to give him more oxygen.  I think it took a year or two off my life.  I hate that ventilator and can't wait until we can be rid of it.  I'm sure Jackson agrees.

Today has been another quiet day.  His pressure is still low and steady.  The CT scan this morning showed improvement with the swelling.  The plan is to reduce the saline and see if his brain will stay about the same without it.  We will lower sodium levels over the next few days and see how he does, then do another CT scan on Sunday or Monday.  The floor pediatrician said she rarely sees kids backslide with swelling when they get to this point, so we are optimistic.

Jackson doesn't seem to have lost muscle tone or strength.  He sat straight up in bed yesterday when they started to suction him, as well as moving arms and legs around.  And this is in a drug-induced coma.  I guess I never thought about how active my boys are, but even this amazes me.

As hard as it is to wait, I am learning that sometimes you have to take things at the Lord's pace.  I know that He hears our prayers and I am so thankful for all of you and your prayers and encouragement!  3 Nephi 18:20



04 July 2012

Priesthood Power.

It looks like efforts to keep Jackson more sedated and increase saline are helping.  For the past 24 hours his numbers have looked good, as far as brain pressure and heart rate, etc.  He only has issues when they have to do respiratory therapy, i.e. suctioning gunk out of him.  Last night before I left, the respiratory therapist came in and did the whole routine and Jackson was fine until he started suctioning, then Jackson bit down on the ventilator and they had to pry his jaws apart.  His numbers went pretty high and they had to give him a boost of sedative.  Took him about 15 minutes or so to calm down.  It definitely raised my adrenaline!

When we got back to the RMcD house last night, it all caught up with me.  Ashley gave me a beautiful blessing then let me sleep in a little this morning.  I am feeling more like myself today.  I have started to accept/realize that this may be a longer process than I initially thought, and that's ok with me.  It's certainly not easy for anyone in the family, but it will all work out.  We all want Jackson to do whatever is necessary to get better.

The neurosurgeon came in this morning and said we would do another CT scan in the morning.  Based on the results of that we will consider removing the bolt again.  Because of his issues with suctioning, they put a little bite block in his mouth which kind of looks like a pacifier.  This makes it easier to suction him, more comfortable for him to be suctioned, and also helps him take some practice breaths on his own. They did some good suctioning on him this morning and he tolerated it well.  Seems like he won't have any trouble breathing on his own once they wean him off the vent.

He had a slight fever this morning (100) but it went right back down when they gave him some Tylenol.  They have been giving him antibiotics all along.  He is also starting to digest the Pediasure a little better and doesn't have so much sitting in his stomach anymore.

Ashley is spending some time with the kids today.  Emalie needs a break from being Mom, and hopefully they will all enjoy themselves together.

So grateful for all of you and your support and prayers.  We love you!


03 July 2012

Families can be together forever.

Jackson had a much quieter night last night last night. All his pressure levels remained stable and low. Looks like the increased saline and sedatives are helping.  His CT scan this morning was about like yesterday, but the good news is that the swelling hasn't increased.  I think after another day of quiet and resting, tomorrow's CT scan will hopefully show some reduction.  The Neurosurgeon came in and said things were working, they will increase saline slightly more and we will "stay the course" today.  I'm fine with slow and steady since that will be best for Jackson.

I was thinking last night about all the times Jackson made his crazy "chicken noises" and how we would roll our eyes (and the brothers would laugh).  I can't wait to hear his crazy noises again and see him acting silly with his brothers.  I am looking forward to the day when our family can all be together again.

Love you all,

01 July 2012

Get me outta here!

Jackson has been rather active in the last 12 hours.  They are doing more aggressive respiratory therapy for him and he has shown his disapproval by moving around a lot.  It's good because they get the fluid out of his lungs, and we are very excited to see him really move all his limbs.  This morning he flung both legs to the side of the bed and acted like he was getting out of there.  

I have been playing some Mormon Tab and Piano Guys for him on the laptop this morning.  I don't know if it does anything for him, but it soothes me.  Ashley and the kids went to church, and after he gets back I will go home for a little while this afternoon to see the kids.  They are doing fine.  We are so thankful for everyone who has visited the house, brought food, and helped them in so many ways.  

Tomorrow morning early (4 or 5 a.m. EST) they will do the CT scan.  We are praying for great results and then we can move on to helping him gradually wake up.  I think it will be hard to hold him back once he gets going again.

Thanks to all of you for your support and love and encouragement!

-Lil Momma