Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kris update: The Most Amazing Place

To all our dear friends and loved ones!

Let me be the first to admit I was wrong. Yes, I admit my feelings were all wrong about the facility Kris was to go to when she left the VA Poly Trauma Center this week. It is, in fact, “just what the doctor ordered”... both figuratively and literally. (Thank you, Dr. Johnson!) So let me begin by recapping the past few weeks.

In the last update (June 28, 2012), I explained how wonderful her retirement ceremony had been (the attached photo is yet one more testament to her fantastic day!), and that we took Kris up to CORE so that she could see it and meet the folks there that same week. Our daughter, Diana, left that following Monday morning to return to Pennsylvania, I took Kris to the dentist that same day, then George, Joshua and I moved Kris to the VA Poly Trauma Center on Tuesday. (THAT day was such a mixed bag of emotions: glad to take her to the VA, extremely sad that it would be our last day with Kris for a while!)

Wednesday, June 27, George and I headed out for Branson to begin our summer show tour. Mixed emotions, tears, worry, trying VERY hard to let God take care of it: I was a mess! But it didn’t take long for me to realize Kris was getting her second wind at the VA. And, on top of that, when Russell took her up to CORE in Dripping Springs on Monday, July 9, I began to realize almost immediately that she was at the right place.

Diana, bless her heart, flew back out and arrived at CORE Monday evening to stay with Kris since we couldn’t be there.

She immediately set about getting Kris situated, unpacked, met with the staff, and began to relay important information about Kris’s care, what would be happening, and who to contact to follow the progress Kris would surely be making. Wednesday, Diana arranged to take Kris on a shopping outing to Kohl’s and to Bed, Bath and Beyond. CORE has a wheelchair van, and the care person assigned to Kris that day went along. One of the rules at CORE is that patients can go to church, to the store, to the beauty/barber shop, or to wherever there is a need, and arrangements can be made. The care person scheduled to be with the patient always goes along, even if a family member is there.

I learned today they are making arrangements for Kris to go to church on Sundays (when she is able and ready), and they will escort her and make all the arrangements. She will also go to the beauty salon for a haircut and style, and that just tickles me to death. Calling in to speak to her is limited to evenings at 7 p.m., which is fabulous. Her day is then dedicated to focusing on physical or occupational therapy, visits to the nearby pool or to the gym (when she’s ready), speech therapy, and any other learning/training they deem necessary. She has one-to-one care 7-days per week, 16 hours per day, and close 30-minute monitoring throughout the night.

Kris’s family will visit on the weekend, either Saturday or Sunday, and other friends are free to do so, but a call ahead is necessary. Cards and letters are very welcome and Kris’s new address is:

Maj Kristine Ratliff

CORE Neuro Rehabilitation Center

400 Old Hwy 290, Room C-1

Dripping Springs, TX 78620

They have already set her computer up with Skype so that Russell and the children can visit her in the evening at 7 p.m. via the computer and they can see each other. George will set up our Skype account this weekend. We are in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin now (south of Oshkosh), on our way toward the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, and we’ll be staying in an RV park in Iron Mountain, Michigan over the weekend.

After some really rough nights and days worrying and wondering, a beautiful verse from John 14:27 came to me: “Peace I give to you; My peace I leave with you..... Let not your heart be troubled.”

I realize now that CORE is just the right place and I can breathe a little easier. Diana’s stay with Kris was wonderful and she has done so much to make her room homey, “girlie” and lovely. Kris has already had her eyes checked and needed some stronger reading glasses, so Diana bought her a real “chic” pair of purple framed reading glasses today. And it has finally dawned on me that this place will give Kris all the things she needs daily to help her grow, re-learn, flourish, regain her self-esteem, her independence and, quite possibly, her own life back. It is a one-year program, and we are so excited about the possibilities that exist now for Kris. Diana said there are marvelous examples of patients who have gone completely back to community living who were actually had greater disabilities than Kris, and it has been an enriching experience for both the girls to spend this time together.

As for George and me, our two shows in Branson went well and we met such lovely people there. We’ll stay in touch with them. On to Iowa and two different church concerts over this past weekend, and the people there truly blessed our hearts and lives. Of course, spending time with dear friends in Iowa was just the icing on the cake. We are off now to three church concerts in Michigan, and the summer is already flying by! Pray for our safe travels and that the RV and van won’t require expensive repairs again, please! (It has been an exciting few weeks in that regard!)

Most of all, continue to pray for Kris as she enters into a whole new realm of care, and moves forward within her uniquely challenging surroundings now. They tell me each day will be full and she will be able to move through and all around on her own. It is not a big facility, but well-equipped and well-staffed. And we are just thanking God for this chance to see Kris “go!”

Blessings and much love,

Carol and George

[I apologize for not being able to post the wonderful pictures of Kris in her uniform at her retirement celebration.  For some crazy reason, I cannot retrieve pictures uploaded from emails.  Any suggestions?]

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