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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Reality, Queen Lamoni, and a smile

   Travis continued to breathe on his own.  It was so nice to see his face without a big tube in the middle of it.  He still was barely opening his eyes, not focusing on anything in particular. The swelling in his brain had gone down.  The half of his skull they had removed was still off,  his head was sunken in where they had surgically removed his skull. He would have to have a surgery at some point to reconstruct and reattach his skull.  He did not look at us or respond when we spoke to him.  The team of doctors had some good news for us.  All of Travis' infections, including the spinal meningitis had been responding very well to the medications.  They were ready to move him out of ICU and on to the neurological trauma unit.

   He had a new room with a new team of nurses that would care for all of the patients in the unit instead of one patient.  It made me a little nervous, but also it felt like Travis was making some steps towards getting better instead of worse.

   We continued to pray for some kind of response from Travis, but there was nothing other than a slight opening of his eyes.  Dr. Brockmeyer had told me that first night that if Travis lived, and if he came out of a coma he would be in a vegetative state, because of the severity of the damage to his brain.  I didn't like that word "vegetative" that sounded like my garden I had at home. Not my boy who stole bases and hit home runs and taught his little brother Cade to ride his bike with no training wheels.  I needed to accept reality.  But what was reality?  When I was alone, and when I prayed I would have a peaceful feeling that would come over me, and I would feel so assured that Travis was going to live, and he would continue to heal.  I wasn't quite sure if the impressions I had were divine inspiration or if they were my own desires and emotions talking to me.  I trusted Travis' doctors and had so much respect for them. They had saved his life. They had years of experience with head trauma, they were some of the best neurosurgeons in the country.

    The Doctor's started to have meetings with me to make a plan for Travis' continued recovery.  He eventually would need to go home, or live in a long term skilled nursing facility.  So far he had not made enough progress to qualify for intense rehab.  We needed to put in ramps and lifts and elevators in our home to make it handicap accessible for a wheelchair if he was ever going to come home again.
I wanted to believe that Travis would walk out of the hospital and not need all of this, but at this point he couldn't even look at me.  It would cost thousands of dollars to get our home (that we were renting) handicap accessible.  Our money tree was becoming pretty bare at this point and we didn't have thousands of dollars to put towards something that we may or may not need.

   I couldn't sleep one night and came in to sit by Travis. It was just the two of us in the room. It was quiet and I could hear the clock ticking and the beeps of monitors in nearby rooms.  I looked out the window and a heavy snow was silently falling and covering the outside with a blanket of white.   I wished I had answers and knew what to do.  We needed to move forward in some way.  I knew my husband was overburdened with all of the financial responsibility this had brought, while also trying to take care of everything at home with out me.    I picked up a few books that friends had dropped by.  Two of those books were the Bible and The Book of Mormon.  I thumbed through them both. The page fell open to a story in the Book of Alma about a queen whose husband was unconscious.  She was being told by many that he was dead and she needed to bury him. She was confused as to what to do.  A prophet by the name of Ammon told her that he was alive, but that he "sleepeth with God"  She had to decide whom she believed.  She had to make a decision to trust the voice in her own heart, or the voices of others that told her otherwise.  I knew at that moment I had the same decision to make that a Lamonite Queen had to make thousands of years ago.  I suppose it is a decision we all have to make at some point in our lives.  I decided at that moment that I would trust the still small voice that spoke to my soul, and not doubt.
   I told the doctors the next day that we would not be starting construction on elevators and lifts and ramps at this time.  They were frustrated with me. They felt sorry for me for being in denial. I was ok with that.  They were just trying doing their job, and I was doing mine.

   The days were long and Travis was breathing and maintaining his weight.  His brain pressures and other vital signs were stable.  He had color back in his face and skin.  However physically he was like a wet noodle if you tried to sit him up or move him.  A new born baby had more control over their body than he did at this point.

   The physical therapy team came in all together to work with Travis.  They stretched and bent all of his limbs and joints.  There was about five of them.  Jed and I happened to be there together and sat off to the back of the room and watched.  One of the therapist climbed on the bed and got close to Travis' face and raised her voice somewhat and commanded: TRAVIS!!! LOOK AT ME!!!, another one said  TRAVIS!!! SQUEEZE MY HAND!!!, another spoke in a desperate voice, TRAVIS!!! BLINK IF YOU CAN HEAR ME!!!  nothing.  It was almost  heated in the room, the tension and lack of response was thick and the air seemed heavy and hard to breathe. The room was silent and sad.  I don't remember what my husband said, but he quietly said something that was funny, and a little bit inappropriate I think.  Travis laughed. HE LAUGHED!!!!!!!!  We all broke out into tears and applause and hoorays!! It was the best sound I had ever heard.  Jed said a few more funny things, and Travis would smile each time.  I remembered the first time he smiled at me as a sweet tiny newborn.  I decided that the second first smile he gave me a decade later was even more precious than the first.

    We were so excited to give the good news of his laughter, he began to have many visitors.  I loved watching him smile when the people he loved came to see him.  I knew we had a long road of recovery and a hard path to walk down.  I couldn't see what the future held, but Travis taught me that no matter how bad it gets, if we can find something to smile about, we can make it through anything.



  1. Wow, Melissa, I can't imagine having to make such a hard decision. I remember when this all happened and Mom told me and we were all praying for you and your family. But it all seemed so far away. Thanks for bringing it closer , by sharing your intimate details and how the spirit prompted you. And how the scriptures were for you personally as they are for us. I needed that reminder today :)

  2. Just came across your blog - what an amazing story you have told. I hope you find the time to come back and finish your story. Best wishes.


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