Dearest loved ones and friends!
A very Happy New Year to you all, and we pray your Christmas was beautiful and the New Year will be filled with health and happiness!
Our New Year began with the joy of spending a week with Kris out in LaVernia, Texas. I say “our” New Year but, actually, George kept the home fires burning while I flew out last Wednesday. My trip was made even more joyous because our daughter, Diana, and her husband, Jon, flew down from Pennsylvania, too, and we spent six days enjoying a wonderful visit with Kris.
The first day there (Wednesday, January 4), we sort of visited, shared some tears, and got re-acquainted with the nursing staff and others at Country Care Manor. Let me just reiterate something I’ve said before: The nursing staff there at Country Care is outstanding and some of the most caring I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in the field of health care. Knowing the situation will never be perfect because of Kris’s inability to express her needs since she still cannot talk, it remains an efficient, effective nursing care facility because of the nurses and the administrative staff. Of course, I still cannot say enough about Susan, Rene, Heidi and David, the therapy team.
By Friday, it was decided a “road trip” was in order. After lunch, we gathered up Kris, filled a tote bag with the necessary items for the adventure, and off we went. Our first stop was the “still operating” and rustically fascinating S.A.S. Factory. For those novices in the world of shoes (as I was!), that stands for San Antonio Shoe Factory, and the shoes are very popular. Moreover, the shoe factory has been turned into a great tourist spot, with the added attraction of a wide assortment of antique cars. We were all agog!
Our next stop, as you can see by the photo attached, was the infinitely impressive shrine known as The Alamo. We’ve been visiting it with Kris since 1984 (when she first went into the Air Force and was stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio), and we continue to enjoy it, especially with all the beautiful upgrades, renovations, and impressiveness of the structure itself. Kris was a trooper and seemed to enjoy the afternoon. She slept very well that night, I’m sure!
On Saturday, Kris’s husband, Russell, had invited all of us to their home for a cookout and some delicious “real” Mexican food. Shortly after the noon hour, we loaded Kris into the rental car again, and off we went to her home right there in LaVernia. It was a lovely day, and Kris enjoyed watching a movie with Andrea, her daughter, and son, Joshua, as well as some other friends who stopped by. Russell made a great grilled brisket and some chicken “something” (I’m no good at remembering all the Mexican names!), while their housekeeper prepared fresh tortillas, pico de gallo (a great chip dip but not sure of the spelling), a rice dish, and pinto beans called... okay, forget what they were called. It was all delicious. I managed to feed Kris a small amount of the beans and rice, and a little red velvet cake, which she enjoyed. (Well, it was mostly the icing from the cake!) She is still trying very hard to eat, but things must be mashed and moist and soft. But there are some problems which leads us to the rest of this email.
Monday, an all important meeting was held with Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, Director of Therapy, at the very beautiful, newly opened Audie Murphy Poly Trauma Center in San Antonio. Diana, Jon and I went with Kris in the transport van and Russell met us there. I had invited Kris’s Air Force case manager to join us, and she in turn invited two other case mangers to join us as well. The “big guns” were present!
The findings were: Kris’s neck continues to be a serious problem. With her head turned to the left and down so much, the muscle tone is simply growing that way. Her wheel chair doesn’t help, and a new one is essential. I asked if they might have something that would recline a bit with a head rest, and Dr. Johnson agreed that would help. Hopefully, they may even find a loaner until one can be assigned permanently to her. She simply must resort to gravity pulling her head up and back when she is in a chair.
Botox injections are a must (once again) now that she is eligible for them. (Three months must lapse between injections, and she is definitely due.) So... Because the Center is already heavily booked, Kris’s Air Force liaison, Darla Sekimoto, suggested she will try to have an appointment made at BAMC, and the doctor agreed. As soon as those injections are made, at least one week must pass before she can be admitted. Kris will then go into the Center as an inpatient for at least two to four weeks for those in depth, stringent therapy sessions (OT, PT and speech therapy), some psychological evaluations, and training in her new wheel chair. They are also contemplating using a very newly designed head/shoulder/neck harness on her to see if it will help. Hopefully, all of this will enable Kris to move forward in her recuperation, and that she can at least be re-trained to communicate in some form using special devices. Some of them may even be the key to her speaking again one day.
After numerous setbacks and some untimely health issues (Kris had pneumonia in late November), the New Year has once again provided us all with a great deal of hope. Russell has been given the go-ahead with house renovations, and that’s going to be a definite uplift in Kris’s spirits to finally see things begin to really happen. Over the past year, there have been so many things presented that gave us all hope, but they seemed to fizzle after a time. (The Pittsburgh trip that might have helped her facial features be restored, and several other possible moves forward that didn’t happen.) After seemingly being in a “one step forward, two steps back” mode, 2012 looks truly promising. And we truly praise God for that.
Our visit ended, as always, much too soon, and with many tears. But the hope of a healing Spring and some real moves in the right direction for Kris has certainly lifted our spirits. Hers will take a bit more time, I’m afraid. Depression set in over the past few months, and we are really praying expecting great things from God! Your prayers, as always, will be deeply appreciated.
Warmest possible New Year wishes, again, and thank you... as always... for your cards, your letters, your emails, your caring. God’s angels are everywhere, and we now have so many working on our side!
Blessings and love,