Sunday, November 27, 2011

I can't believe it has been a year!

It has been one year since the date of that horrible accident that has changed our lives forever! When you think of one year it doesn't seem that long but yet it seems like this is all we know anymore. When we think of our memories of Dakota before the accident, both Zach and I feel like it wasn't real. We can hardly believe that he used to say all the things he did or do all that he used to do. When we see kids his age doing things that a normal three year old does we really feel like they are super human or something. Although we remember SO much of what he used to be like it is hard to believe that this little boy we hold in our arms every day is that same boy. This year has been an emotional, spiritual, and physical roller coaster for our family that has changed us in so many ways.

About six months ago I dreaded this year mark and I hated every day that brought us closer to it. Mostly because of what the doctors said. They made it seem like the year point is where most of the progression we would see in Dakota would stop. After talking to the people at NACD I no longer fear that the year is the end. I know it is possible for him to keep progressing and I won't give up my hope and faith just because it has been a year. So as this year mark rolled around Zach and I were both doing pretty good. It really was like just any other day, mostly because every day is hard. Almost every day we are still reminded of how much we miss that little boy running and playing and it doesn't matter what day it happened because every day without him is as painful as the next. Although on the outside I didn't feel much different I can tell I have been a little on edge emotionally lately and Zach and I have had our little tiffs more often lately. I think deep down there is some pain of knowing that it has been a whole year since we have heard the voice of our most precious gift and how desperately we miss it.

A lot has changed over this year. We have come a long way with Dakota and with ourselves. There were points where we didn't think we could face another day but we have made it for 365 days (actually 366 today) and we are still going strong. We keep putting one foot in front of the other and it does seem to get a little easier as time goes on. The best way to describe our life at this year point is manageable. We feel somewhat in control of our lives again and as Dakota has continued to heal and progress we are able to do a lot more things that at one point seemed impossible. Although Dakota still has a LONG way to go, if we think back to where he was at a year ago, it is quite amazing and miraculous to see how far he HAS come. He went from not even being able to look at you or move his eyes, not being able to move his body at all, no expression, no sounds, on a ventilator to breathe for him... to a little boy with so much light in his eyes that not only can look at you but observe things around him, moving his limbs and body all over the place (still working on control and coordination), sometimes even rolling, lots of expression and understanding, babbling, and being capped with his trach (breathing completely on his own). So although it's hard sometimes to see how far we have come because I am always so focused on how far we have to go, I have to admit...this kid is giving it his best shot and I am so proud of him!
Several days after the accident. Started to open his eyes briefly but no reaction behind them.

2 weeks. Got tubes out of mouth. Trach and g-tube surgeries done.

About a month after. Head was constantly turned to the left, tounge was out a lot. Sleeping and wake cycles completely off. Lots of spasticity (legs straight out and arms bent up)

Almost a couple months out started to look and track Buzz with lights for few seconds.

Few months out. Home. Zach made this contraption to put his head in to force him to stay in the middle instead of to the left. He chunked up quite a bit from the formula. He was always hot and sweaty because he wasn't regulating his body temp right.

3-4 months out showed signs of first smile!

5-6 months out looking more like himself. Wearing the speaking valve all the time. Smile is getting bigger!

Now...looking like his handsome self and capped all day long. Getting stronger all the time!

Emotionally, time over this year and through the help of a loving Saviour, both Zach and I have healed SOME of the pain in our hearts. When that tragic day happened and I almost lost Dakota I have to admit all the life and light inside of me was gone. I was in a very dark hole that I didn't think I would ever be able to climb out of. I even thought to my self several times...I am going to need some serious help and counseling. For the first several months that day haunted my mind and the image of finding Dakota's little body laying there with no life, limp in my arms, watching them perform CPR on him killed me. It would creep into my mind out of nowhere and bring me to tears. I didn't know if it would ever go away. But I truly believe my Saviour Jesus Christ has been there for me in these darkest hours and has helped to carry this heavy load that has been weighing me down. I am okay to talk about that day and even to think about it now. It doesn't haunt me anymore although I wish with all my heart I could go back in time and change the outcome.

We spent the one year anniversary at a funeral for an amazing 30 year old husband, father of 3, son, brother, and friend who died from complications of a car accident with his wife and dad two weeks prior. My heart was broken for this family and it made me realize how much we just never know what will happen tomorrow so I can't waste today worrying about tomorrow. I want to soak up every minute of this life and recognize every blessing that I do have. As hard as it was to go through all of this with Dakota, I couldn't imagine losing Zach. So in memory of Dakota's year mark and Thanksgiving since they are so tied together, it is my hope and prayer that we will all count our blessings, forget the stupid little things that don't matter in the long run that we spend so much time worrying over, and enjoy every minute of every day...because we don't know what God's plan is for us and how much time we have....although we like to think we do...we don't. Spend time with those you love and cherish the little moments. I know for me, if I just would have know that last Thanksgiving day that this was my last day and moment to spend with my little healthy Dakota I would have done things a little different. I would have held him a little more, played with him more, got more kisses from him, raced with him, laughed with him, let him snuggle in our bed longer or all night. I am thankful that I still have him though. I do miss a lot of things but I am blessed to still be able to hold him, to look at his gorgeous face, to see his most handsome smile, to kiss that soft face, hold his tiny hands, hear his sounds and little laugh, talk to him, and just be his mom.

Last day before the accident.
Getting ready to go on a wagon ride with his cousins

Uncle Riley giving us a ride


P.S. Thank you to all of you who sent texts and messages our way during this time. We appreciate so much you thinking of us and Dakota!! I know I say this a lot but we REALLY couldn't do it without the love and support of so many wonderful people! Thank you!

P.S.S. This family who lost their dad, husband, and son (His name was D.J. Rogers) could really use some financial help from anyone who can help out. He was self-employed (we know how hard that is insurance wise) working 3 different types of jobs. His wife and dad are still both recovering physically from their injuries and now she is left with all the medical bills plus providing for 3 children. If anyone has any great ideas for fundraisors or anything please let me know. I am a horrible planner but a great worker! Or if you would just like to donate I will post more info on an account or something set up for them. I know it is Christmas time and money is tight but if everyone who even reads this can give a little we can make a big difference for a family who really needs it! Like Zach said..."If I died I would hope people would take care of you and Dakota. I don't want D.J. to have to worry about his wife and kids."

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This Thanksgiving day there is a lot to be thankful for...but the thing that I was MOST thankful for on this particular day was my little angel boys smile. That smile seriously does wonders for Zach and I and can get us through the day more then anything else in this world. If all I ever get back from Dakota's accident is a SMILE I could live with that... although hearing some words out of that sweet little mouth again would sure be mighty fine with me as well! :)

This last week we have had some really happy days with Dakota and lots of smiles and then the last couple have been pretty fussy and those really take a toll one me. I have struggled a lot trying to figure out how to be a mom to a brain injured child. There is no handbook, no friend or neighborly advice, not even any doctor advice...I sometimes feel like I am all alone in this. When he is fussy and ornery I want to treat him like a 3 year old because I know he understands a lot and I want to discipline him a little to teach him that it's not okay to fuss and whine because you want something...On the other hand...he can't talk anymore and tell me what he wants, if something is hurting or bothering him, if he's hungry or just plain old wants of course he is gonna cry because that is a way of communicating for him. So trying to figure out if he is crying because he needs something or just because he wants his 3 year old way seems impossible and it sometimes brings me to my knees in tears because it is SO hard. Before his accident if he was just having a grumpy moment we would make him go to his room and tell him he can come out when he was ready to be happy...and that TOTALLY worked with him. Sometimes he would stay in there a long time and we would go to check on him and he would still have his grumpy face...but when he came out of that room he was ready to be happy. It's not so easy anymore and I think both of us just end up frustrated.

Anyways, he woke up early this Thanksgiving day and all I could think in my head was...oh great now he is going to be really fussy (because our Thanksgiving dinner was also during his nap time). I gave him awhile hoping he would fall back asleep so at least we didn't have tiredness working against us but it never happened. When I went in to get him I was prepared for the worst but he surprised me with one of his great big cheesers which kept going and going until I started laughing and then it made him giggle, and it went back and forth like that for several minutes. You better believe I quickly got down on my knees and thanked my Father in Heaven today for that happy and most gorgeous smile. The rest of the day he was just randomly throwing smiles out here and there, letting everyone hold him, and just had a great day.

Kota and Uncle Ryan

Melts my heart every time!

Luckily grammy Vicki had her trusty camera along with her and captured some of them which I am so grateful for.

So although our life is rough and a lot of days it is hard to smile, I know that as long as my little boy can smile, I can smile too! So I am grateful for SMILES!

Heard this quote the other day and loved it...thought this would be a good time to share it
"Don’t cry because it’s over, SMILE because it happened."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Never underestimate the impossible

So pheasant season opened up yesterday. As I said's a really hard time for Zach. The day before he started talking about it and how much he wished he could hunt.
He had traded his buddy Jake's brother some stuff for some of his pheasants (he raises them) so that I could practice some before we went out...because I am a hunter and all. So Friday afternoon we went out with Jake and his brother Shawn to shoot them. Some of them were great but others didn't want to fly much but we had fun. I did pretty good...granted it wasn't like the real deal and they weren't trying to get away too fast.
Shawn, Jake, Hunter, and Me with all our birds

Me and the proud!

When Saturday rolled around all Zach could talk about was pheasants. We have some awesome fields right behind are house where we see some and Zach hunts every year. So we started talking bout going out there but weren't sure how to do it with Dakota. We finally decided to have sweet Shaylee (who babysat Dakota before his accident and who still helps me with Dakotas therapy every Saturday) come over while Dakota napped since we would be close enough if anything happened. We went and picked up Zach's parents dog Sophie to help us get some birds up. She is so old now and is probably on her last hunt but she did pretty good.
She started getting pretty excited so Zach said get ready I think she is going to get one up. So we keep following her a little more and next thing you know out pops a pheasant. I shoot boom, boom, then next thing you here is Zach...boom, boom and the bird comes down. I was way...Zach you got it! We run over to where it came down and sure enough...he got it!
The AMAZING hunter...carrying the bird in his hoodie...gross!

There is the bird!

When he grabbed a gun for him before we went out I joked with him...what you gonna back me up?! Sure enough he did and it is blind husband is a better shot then me! :) To try and describe what Zach can see is hard but in one eye he sees nothing at all. The other eye is just shadows and outlines on the outer part of his eye. So the center of his eye is completely black. So if he looks directly at something he cant see it, so he has to look to the side of it. So he watched the bird from the side and shot at it when he couldn't see it anymore (cuz that is when he knew it was right in front of him). It was seriously so amazing and I couldn't be more proud of him. He was all smiles the rest of the night and couldn't have had more fun! That's gotta be a record or something...first blind man to shoot a pheasant!

Now all he can talk about is getting a new dog since Sophie won't be around much longer. So if anyone knows of any good springers with a good hunting background...Zach is on the prowl. :)

Funny/Sweet Moment:
1. Before Dakota's accident he LOVED Sophie dog. When we got home and let Sophie out of the car and showed her to Dakota...he got a huge smile on his face and strained his head to see her. When we brought him inside and kept talking bout Sophie he just kept can't believe Sophie is at OUR house. Too cute!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Not so Happy Halloween

So probably the worst Halloween ever! It started off great. Me and some girlfriends went out during the week and had a "witches night out." We dressed up as witches...all so different which was fun...and went to dinner and on the spot decided to go to a haunted house. I was so glad we did because I haven't been to one for I can't even remember how long and Zach hates them so we never have gone. I'm not gonna lie we all screamed and jumped like little girls but it was SO fun and we already have plans to do it again next year. After the haunted house, we of course had to end the night with some good ole ice cream...can you guess whose idea that was...I know I'm bad...but it was so delicious and we got some fun pics afterwards. Thanks for the fun night ladies!!
Stuffing our faces at Noodles and Company

Amanda and Heidi

Me and Natalie

Julissa joined us for the haunted house and ice cream

Me getting ready to head home. ;) So I made this witches broom to go outside my door and I thought I would really play the part and come flying into the restaurant on my broom but I chickened out when I got there...already felt kinda weird dressed as a witch. Totally should have done it. Oh well, we got some good pics with it anyway.

All of us flying away! Too funny...we are such dorks and I love it!

Friday night we had a friends party and we all brought the kids. It's always a good time seeing everybody all dressed up and the kids were so cute to Dakota. We had a great time! Thanks Clayton and Natalie for having it!
Disclaimer...Zach and I's costume is pretty gross so this is your was funny though! ;)

See if you can guess what it is...
Yes...a tampon and period...I told you it was gross!

Dakota was so embarrassed by me and Zach's costume he didn't even want to take a picture with us! Sorry bud! ;)

Dakota sharing a sucker with his girlfriend Hadlee. She was so sweet to get him one from the corn pit and she just sat by him while she had hers...too cute!

All the girls!

Eating some yummy dinner.

The Lynch family...they were too funny!

The cute proud of Steve for dressing up!

Dakota playing in the corn pit with Ty

All the kiddos, minus the 2 babies.

Friday late night into Saturday is when things started to go bad. I was up most the night trying to keep Dakota's oxygen up, it was so low. His heart rate was a little on the high side so I knew something was up. He started a fever Saturday afternoon and it was off and on from there. Sometimes I was like he is getting better, symptoms started going away and he would act fine and then they would come back. By Halloween day he was so bad we had every bit of possible oxygen we could give him and could barely keep his oxygen to the minimum. His fever wouldn't go away, he was breathing so fast, and he just looked miserable. By Monday evening his doctor told us to take him in to the ER to get checked out for pneumonia. Back to the HORRIBLE hospital we went (this time just to Brigham just to get him checked). It is sad that both Zach and I feel like this is just part of our life now. Normally we get all stressy and upset but this time it was just like here we go again...this is our life and and this is what we do. Luckily, the chest x-ray looked a lot better then the doctor thought it would so he didn't have severe pneumonia. They think it could be a little bit of pneumonia or just some kind of bacterial thing in the lungs. So, they gave him IV antibiotics while we were there and we were SO happy we got to go home for the night (we didn't get home til almost 11) but we didn't have to take him all the way to Primarys where they thought we might have to. We went back the next morning for another round of IV antibiotics and then got some oral antibiotics. Dakota is now starting to look and feel a little better and that makes my heart happy!

It made for a horrible Halloween though. He only got to wear his cute Buzz costume once at the friends party...missed the family party, his school party, and of course the best and most important part of Halloween...trick or treating. Both Zach and I just held each other and cried that night. Not because of what we are missing but what Dakota is missing. For heavens sakes he is a 3 year old boy who should be out running and playing and instead gets dragged to hospitals, poked with needles, and can't play and do all the things I know he loves to do. Seeing him struggling breathing, barely opening his eyes, and just laying there so miserable broke our hearts. What we would give to have him healthy and happy again!


Funny/Sweet Moments:
1. So we all know Dakota LOVES movies. With almost every movie he watches I can tell you the exact parts where he will start to smile and sometimes laugh. Movies are the one things that can bring a smile to that kids face over anything (I wish it was me but it's not.) So when we are in the car and we turn on a show for him he LOVES it. And Zach and I love to see that smiling face. The other day we were driving and he had his HUGE smile on his face at a part in the show and Zach looks back and says..."These are the moments when I feel true happiness. They are short but that is when I feel it." It was so dang sweet and cute of him and I totally understood what he meant. It's for that short moment everything is perfect and we see our perfect Dakota happy and so sweet! That is the only thing that matters!