Guest Post from my wife Kelsey:
John Michael and I had the opportunity to spend some time with Josh this past weekend. It was a wonderful and hard experience. This was the first time we’ve been back to San Antonio since Christmas, so naturally there was a great amount of excitement, expectation and hope. Each time we come back to San Antonio it is overwhelming. When we are in Northwest Arkansas, at work, seeing friends, and in our daily routine, it is easy to compartmentalize and be somewhat desensitized to the gravity of the situation. Don’t get me wrong, Josh is making progress, but each time we see him, we have great anticipation for dramatic changes – and the reality is that he is still not fully restored to us yet. Mike explained it well, we are going through a grieving process with Josh, but the grieving is not complete (thankfully), so we live with the greatest expectations of recovery and yet have to cloak that in the sobering reality.
While John Michael and I were there, we were able to participate to some extent in Josh’s daily routine. We were able to take him around the hospital campus and sit with him outside for a bit. It is hard to explain Josh’s condition without experiencing it for yourself. But it is easy to sense that Josh is very much present with us, that he understands the conversations and that he just can’t quite communicate with us. For example, Josh’s therapists are working on his swallow strength with the hopes that we can get him off his PEG tube. Periodically he will be forget to swallow, but when Kelly reminds him of the systematic process to swallow – close your mouth, push the spit to the back of your throat, then swallow – he does it, instantly. You can see him thinking through her three step instructions. It’s moments like this that you know and feel his awareness and understanding. He is having to train/remind his brain and body to do the things that we all take for granted.
While we were in San Antonio, the parents of one of Josh’s friends came to visit. This friend’s father had a very similar injury to Josh – diffuse axonal, traumatic brain injury – a little over three years ago. We know that each individual is different and we know we have no promises of Josh’s full recovery, but it was encouraging to spend time with this couple. This guy is able to drive, he can speak and pray and walk and interact with others, he has a sense of humor and can understand sarcasm. His recovery has taken years and is still not complete though. He spent over a year and half in a rehabilitation facility, and did not know that he was married to his wife for almost a year of that time. I say all this to paint a picture of the length of time that brain injury survivors spend in rehabilitation and recovery. As John Michael has said before, this is a marathon that we are running with Josh.
Josh has been in San Antonio since November 7. When he originally arrived, we knew it to be only a 90 day program. Thankfully, the Lord has provided beyond our expectations and Josh has been able to stay in San Antonio for more than 5 months. It is now coming time where the San Antonio VA has started conversations to transition Josh home to Northwest Arkansas. This will still take some time as there are a number of moving pieces and things that must occur before Josh is able to move home, but it is coming. At this time we are anticipating an April/May transition date, but this may change based on coordination between the San Antonio VA and the Fayetteville VA. When that time comes, we will be sure to communicate with you. We know a number of you are anxiously awaiting an opportunity to see Josh and we will want to be careful not to overwhelm him and yet, we know that Josh will want to see so many of you, his band of brothers and sisters.
Thank you for your continued prayers for our brother. He is an incredible fighter.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:3-5.
All In For Josh