Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Learn to be grateful

EDIT: I realized those just seeing this post probably don't realize what I'm talking about.  My daughter broke her neck on Friday.  See my previous post linked to in the next paragraph for more information.

I was angry. Very angry for a few days as shown in my post Sunday.  Since then, I have moved on, and accepted how lucky we were.  The reality is, my daughter was destined to have this issue and the fact that she is not paralyzed and will recover from her injuries is at a minimum, a miracle.

My daughter had a congenital defect called os odontoideum. Her doctors believe that this issue has been in the making for a while, and whatever caused her to collapse basically was the final straw.  The real incredible thing that I have seen are my wife, my daughter, my son, my employer and our friends and family.

I"ll start with the latter.  Our friends and family are amazing.  The love and outpouring they are giving us is beyond expectations.  We have no local "family" as both my wife and I grew up in other cities and states.  Every single one of our immediate family members offered and would have been on a plane within a day. They said this, and I know they meant it.  I know this, because when our daughter was in the NICU for 3 months after she was born, they did this.  There were literally only a handful of weeks that we did not have a family member fly out here during that time, and the times there was no one out here were because my wife and I needed some space.  My wife and I get constant texts from our family just checking in and seeing how we are doing without the expectation of an immediate response.

I said we have no local "family" but we do have family.  My wife and I have a local support structure beyond measure.  People often laugh at Facebook and question it's value.  After we informed our immediate family, my wife wrote an initial post on Facebook that we were dealing with this.  Besides the prayers and well wishes that were sent to that post and out to the world, our friends started to take action. Our friends from our synagogue established meal delivery to our family and are engaging other friends who want to assist as well.  Offers came in from everyone to assist in taking our son to/from school and activities while we are at the hospital, and setup play dates to keep him busy.  It's funny that my two best friends in town are not on Facebook, but I also must thank them because each has called me multiple times just to check in and see how we are doing and provide all the same offers that our other friends have made.

I have worked for the same company for over 19 years.  I may not make as much as I would have if I had left and gone to work for other companies, but I'll tell you what I do have, a company and management chain that understands my situation and appreciates that I will do my job, but need to take care of my family first.  I wrote a basic message to my boss and her boss saying my daughter had an accident and was in the hospital for a bit.  I went into very few details and said I would be out of the office for the week.  The response I got from everyone was your family is most important, we'll cover for you.  I tell that to folks at the hospital, and they are amazed.

My son stepped up and is delivering.  From the moment my daughter got hurt, he has been all about wanting to see her, make her laugh and happy and hoping she feels and gets better.  He has been well behaved for neighbors who are watching him and appreciates everything.  I took him to Sea World this weekend for a few hours, just so I could have some time with him and he could feel a bit normal.  He wanted to win a stuffed animal for his sister, and not only did he do that, but he won a six foot stuffed animal for himself at the same time.  He was so happy but still thinking of his sister and how much she'll enjoy her little animal as well. He is constantly reminding my wife and I that he wants his sister to see the animal as soon as she wakes up.

My wife is amazing.  She sat and slept with our daughter the entire first night we were in the hospital.  This is a woman who has run multiple triathlons (including a half-Ironman) and over a dozen half-marathons in about the last two years.  However, she is also one of the main reasons my daughter is thriving so well. She is the epitome of Mama Bears and understands my daughter better than any of the doctors that care for her.  She also has grounded me and is so positive as I described on Sunday.  She realized quickly that our situation could have been a lot worse, but wasn't and appreciated that most.

The most inspiring person I know is my daughter. This is a girl who has beaten the odds and expectations every time.  Her attitude, drive and determination are why I know she will be ok.  When her new doctors and nurses this week have read her chart, they're amazed at where she is at and how far she has come.  Every therapist this girl has ever had, loves her for her work ethic and determination.  My wife once wrote a blog post describing her determination and it sums it up perfectly.

Like my wife constantly says, I am grateful.  I just needed some time to realize how much.

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