Saturday, February 26, 2011

She's Baaaaaaack!

No, we haven't fallen off the face of the earth! We're here! We're all in San Carlos! and God is good!

Okay, let me back up.  The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for the Morris family.  We have all said goodbye to lovely Bakersfield and have successfully moved Kathy, Jamie, Ryan and Lailah all back to San Carlos! (Not under the same roof, mind you, but San Carlos isn't too big).  Jamie and Kathy are glad to be back in the Bay Area and getting adjusted to our new normal  This is the first time that all the Morrises have lived in the same town, and I think we are settling in pretty well. 

Jamie is getting used to a new schedule at her new clinic here, but there is an endless amount of planning that has gone in and is still going in to getting our girl into a good routine.  We are very thankful to everyone who continues to reach out to us and see what we need, and we promise to let you know once we know!

Ryan and I moved to San Carlos in the middle of January, and Jamie and Kathy returned from Bakersfield about a week later.  Everything seemed to happen right around the one year anniversary of Jamie's accident, which was quite an interesting time-frame.  It's been over a year now since the accident, and I can't believe how far Jamie's come, and how much God has worked and changed all of us.  A year ago we were settled into Santa Clara Valley, willing Jamie's muscles to grow strong enough for her to sit up on her own.  Today, she has levels of independence that no one would ever assure us of.  Most of all, Jamie is excited to be around her friends and family.  I think that was the hardest thing for her in Bakersfield, that she was so far away from everyone! We see a difference in her here because she is just so happy to be back with her people!

As you might have guessed, I think it is time for this to be the final official update on Jamie's recovery for the time being.  She gets better each day, but they are not the things that make for good blogging :) The improvements are much more subtle, and things that are measured better by her therapists than little ol me. We have our girl back, and that's the greatest update I could ever give. 

Know that our family could not have made it through this last year without all of you.  Your prayers carried us overseas and back again, to San Jose and Bakersfield over and over again.  We are by no means at the end of the struggle.  We continue to need to advocate for Jamie with her insurance and treatment, and we still need your prayers for that and all it carries.  But please know that we appreciate and can never repay all that you all have done over the past months.  So, for a final time, I'll leave you with these prayer requests:

- Doors be opened for Jamie to get more hours of therapy
- doors be opened for Jamie to get involved in some volunteer work in the community
- continued cognitive recovery
- continued recovery of movement in her left hand
- continued faith for all of us.

We love you,


Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Thanksgiving and a Happy Christmas!

This holiday season has brought so many blessings! In the last few weeks (okay, months) a lot has been happening with our Jamie girl.  She has passed the cognitive skills test at CNS that all residents are to complete.  It consists of 26 different levels/tasks that test and exhibit various levels of cognitive function.  Some of the tasks involve categorizing things and go from simple to more complex.  From what I can understand, it also involves recognizing what items perform what functions and how different objects relate to us and each other.  It is a huge deal at CNS and is a big deal in marking the healing of a TBI patient.  When Jamie finished all 26 levels, she had to go up to the front desk and announce it over the loud speaker for the whole clinic to hear. (totally her favorite thing...okay, maybe not.)  At any rate, it is a big sign to us that Jamie continues to heal and get better as each week passes. 

Jamie has moved into her own apartment at CNS and needs less supervision.  She only has an aid a few hours a day while she's not in clinic, which is a push to let her be more independent.  They are also working on independence at the clinic - having her do more and more on her own with less supervision.  We are pretty sure that Jamie is nearing (if not already at) the end of the program that CNS has to offer.  With her progress, independence and passing the cognitive skills test, she has pretty much progressed to the extent that CNS can help her. 

With that being said, we are pretty confident that Jamie's next step will be to come home to San Carlos! As God has done throughout the last year, He has already provided so much for her return home.  He provided a place in downtown San Carlos for her to live, with an affordable rent that is within walking distance to pretty much anything she needs.  It literally got plopped in our laps without having to look for it. She is also pretty set with the big furniture items (except a dining/kitchen table, so if you've got an extra, send it over!)

Thanksgiving was a great treat - J got to come home for about a week and we crammed in lots of family and friend time.  We were able to resume our Thanksgiving tradition of doing a little Morris baking the Wednesday before.  This year Ron and Jamie took care of the pies (as per usual), but Ron handed over the reins of the Morris Rolls to Jamie and yours truly.  We had to do 4 batches of a dozen - Jamie managed 2 and I managed 2.  Mine were awesome.  (okay so were Jamie's, but I so rarely get to brag about myself on here.) What a blessing to be together - doing normal family things on a family holiday that we love.  What struck me that weekend is that Thanksgiving was when Jamie was scheduled to come home from the Peace Corps.  I am so thankful (no pun intended) that God brought our girl home for the very holiday that we had been looking forward to for over 2 years.  What a sweet God. 

Christmas has come and gone at the Morris homestead, and it was a good time had by all.  Jamie got her hair done at the salon for the first time in ages, and I think we were all a little shocked at how long its gotten! She has worn it curly since its been short, so its been difficult to gauge the length, but the hairdresser blew it out and its on its way to her shoulders.  It was really cute - I'll have to find some pics to show you all.  Christmas came with more family traditions - Christmas Eve Dim Sum at the Fenechs house and orange cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.  We also got to celebrate Christmas dinner with Kathy's side of the family.  There may have been some Peppermint Cosmos that livened up the evening...but that's all I'll say on that.  :) There were more than a few teary prayers at our different Christmas events, but one thing seemed to be the consensus - Jamie was our best present this holiday season.  God saved her life last January so that He could do great things in her healing, so that He could make Himself known to us by the miracles He has worked in her life.  Her life, her healing, her progress are the most cherished gifts that any of us have received. 

So with that, I usher you into 2011.  May it be a year of milestones and celebrations, of victories big and small.  Wishing you all a Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year filled with amazing adventures and blessings. 

love, us. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Address, New Skills, New Experiences

Hey Folks!

The thing that stands out the most in Jamie's progress is that there are new things all the time. Because J has continued to progress and gain more skills, she has "graduated" to her own apartment.  It is still in the CNS complex, but she only has about 2-3 hours of supervision by the RAs, instead of all the the time.  She is in the apartment on her own and LOVES it! Its really cute, a bit more updated than the old one.  Most of all, its a place Jamie can call her own.  She loves the increased independence as well as the privacy. 

This last weekend we went down to visit our girl, and she had a project. Her project was to plan our activity for Saturday and she did a great job! One of the things that we've all kind of fallen into a pattern of doing is telling Jamie what to do.  The next step in her recovery is to work on her initiating activities, daily tasks and just everyday living.  Hence the project.  Jamie came up with the idea to go bowling and planned the whole thing.  Got directions, figured out operation times, all that stuff.  She even managed to win the second game! We had a lot of fun, having Jamie boss us around ;) 

If you want to be mailing stuff to Jamie at her new apt, feel free! Her new address is:

Jamie Morris
Apt. 411, 2500 Gosford Rd.
Bakersfield, CA 93309

Feel free to send her notes, letters, christmas presents..whatever!

We need some prayers for the next logistical steps for Jamie. Ultimately, we want whats best for Jamie and what we are hearing from her doctors and therapists is that more time at CNS would still be beneficial for her recovery and so we are hoping that we get the greenlight from her insurance to stay as long as is necessary.  At the same time, it does seem that J is getting pretty far along in CNS' program, which is really exciting.  She keeps getting better and she just keeps plugging along. 

So please be praying for Jamie's future - that she continue to get all the therapies she needs, that her insurance approve her for a longer stay and that we can be figuring out the next steps after CNS.  Eventually, Jamie will "graduate" from CNS and we need a plan! We are working on it, so please pray that God guide our steps and pave the way ahead of us (as He has done this entire journey!)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Jamie's New Digs

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Monday, October 18, 2010

I have run out of witty fact, I think I've used THIS title before!

When you have a blog, I think the hardest thing is thinking of the title of each post. I mean, I suppose the whole "what do I write and how do I make it interesting" task is a bit more complicated, but whatever.

Anyway...Jamie is awesome. She had a conference on the 8th, and we got some good reports. She had another No Cue period, and she did pretty well. She did a better job at initiating her morning tasks by using her daily checklist and alarm to get ready. J is also working on increased independence while at the clinic. Several of her therapies now require her to do exercises and or projects before her therapists make contact - this initiation practice is helpful in creating independence.

J also showed improvement in processing in emergency situations. When asked about certain scenarios, she was able to communicate how to fix certain problems. She is getting better at actually doing those things, but still needs some work.

Her reading level and memory continue to get better. We have noticed that she is able to tell stories from the past few weeks and seems to be doing SO MUCH better at remembering details and events. Its great. Also, she is now working on passing an 8th grade reading level. (Which, to be honest is probably what most of us read at!!) She just continues to improve and improve.

I think the most encouraging thing for me is how much Jamie is improving in her awareness and her ability to communicate. Each time we go down, she just seems more and more aware of what happened, what's going on and how she's doing. She is able to communicate on a nonverbal level better and better - facial expressions, intonation & inflection and that type of thing. The staff has noticed that she does better at that type of communication when she is dealing with friends and family - not as much with them. (which kind of makes sense - aren't we all more animated and engaging with our loved ones?)

I can only imagine how frustrating it is for her - she knows that she had an accident and that she is working on getting better; but to her, she's just Jamie. She's such a trooper, and I am so proud of her. She knows that there are things at clinic that she doesn't like doing, but she trusts us and trusts her therapists and trusts God enough to know that it is for her good.  Her goal is to get better and get home, and she knows that if she keeps working hard, she will meet that goal.  Go Jamie, Go!!

Today is the 10 month mark. Wow.  I feel like a lifetime has passed in that time, and I have been amazed at God's faithfulness. I was reminiscing with Kathy this last weekend about the first few days and weeks after the accident - getting to Germany and back and the craziness that ensued.  I will never forget standing in security gate house at Landstuhl trying to explain the guys running security who we were, why we were there and why they should let us onto a secure military base.  I will never forget telling the woman at the car rental that we had just flown from the States and were trying to get out to Landstuhl because our daughter and sister was in the hospital.  I will never forget seeing Jamie for the first time.  Or rolling onto the tarmac at Ramstein at 6 am after spending the night in the ICU, staring up at the HUGE C-CAT plane that was going to take us home.  So many images are forever etched in our family's memory. Another thing I will never forget is that I could actually feel your prayers.  There was a real, palpable feeling that we all had - God covering us, reassuring us that it would all be okay.  I know now that what we felt was God's love through your prayers. 

Okay, I'm getting all mushy and weepy eyed.  Enough of that for now. :)

The following passage has been very meaningful over the course of this whole journey, always reminding me that no matter what, God is in control.  I may have shared it before, but it bears repeating. 

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, 
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 
though its waters roar and foam, 
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, 
the holy bagitation of teh Most High. 
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; 
God will help her when morning dawns. 
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; 
he utters his voice, the earth melts. 
The Lord of hosts is with us; 
The God of Jacob is our fortress.  

Come, behold the works of the Lord, 
how he has brought desolations on the earth. 
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; 
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear' 
he burns the chariots with fire. 
"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"
The Lord of hosts is with us; 
the God of Jacob is our fortress.  

Love, Us.  

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sometimes Jamie says funny things....

Jamie: there's this guy at the clinic who doesn't eat dairy products.

Ryan: is he a vegan?

Jamie: No, vegans only eat vegetarians.

**laughter and hilarity ensued as Jamie realized that vegans eat vegetables...not vegetarians. I asked her if she ate vegetarians. Her response?

Jamie: No, i'm not a cannibal.


Fun in Sequoia National Forest

We took a little trip to find some hot springs in sequoia national forest - only to find it closed! We only found out later that everything down river from the dam is closed so that the corps of engineers is working on it, so it's kind of a public safety risk (ie we could have been washed away...)whoops. But we're safe. And dry. And never found the hot springs.

But we did find a ginormous pine cone.



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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Words With Friends

For those of you that have Iphones/Ipads etc., you may know the addiction that is Words with Friends. Its a scrabble-type game that you can play against other people who have the app for their phone. It has provided endless entertainment for me...and now Jamie! We are currently in a bit of a quandry, as I have no vowels and there are only 3 letters left in the pot! She text-yelled at me the other day to get me to make my move...I guess I had been a bit of a slacker? Ah well...

I forgot to tell the water volleyball story! When we were down last, we got to spend a day at the clinic with J, and see what that looks like for her. During PT, she and some other patients got in the pool to play water volleyball. Most of you may know that Jamie has always been a volleyball player (and she's pretty good, too) so it was a really neat treat! She was great about calling everything with the proper hand signals, making sure to let all the guys know when they hit the ball out of bounds and when it was in. (and no, I do not know correct volleyball terminology). I think she really enjoyed it, and I know we enjoyed watching her!

Happy Soon to Be October!