Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tonight we celebrated an early Thanksgiving with the Atkinson family.  It was our first family dinner outing!  While Grandma is an excellent cook, and Lydia loves food, it was an overwhelming experience for Lydia, and she was ready to come home to bed as soon as we finished eating!  She was tired, but she was happy to see her cousins, and go to Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner.  We hope that she will sleep very well tonight, and not be worn out for her return to Holland Bloorview tomorrow. 
Grandma A began radiation treatments this week, for breast cancer.  A routine mamogram in the spring revealed a tiny lump that was removed in August, and radiation therapy will continue for the next four weeks.  In light of this, and Lydia's journey, we were indeeed thankful to hold hands around the table, and give thanks together.  Gratitude changes our hearts.  It ushers in joy.  It gives perspective to the journey.
Lydia did not want her wheel chair this weekend.  I don't think she used it at all today or yesterday.  She wants to walk!  She requires assistance, to steady her, although she'd like to do it by herself.  She talks of wanting to run!  Today, she "danced" a fast dance - moving her feet quickly!  We were appreciative of her spunk!
For the last two weekends, Lydia has been saying that she does not want to go to Holland Bloorview.  When we are there, she is fine.  She asks about home, and she wants to go home, but she manages her therapy and classes well.  When she is at home, she does not want to return.  She says so often.  Tomorrow will be a fun return to HB, as her cousins and brothers are returning for the day with her.  We will have lots of laughs, a pizza party at supper, and family swimming in the evening.  We will also work on the world map together!    Thanks to a tech savvy friend who converted the email subject lines into an xl spreadsheet, we will be able to put red dots on the places in the world where people are praying for Lydia. 
Thank you for your prayers.  We thank God for how He is answering them.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures, here below.
Praise Him above the heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lydia has had a quieter day today.  She had a TSW, therapy support worker with her today for four hours, as she does on most weekend days.  The role of a TSW is to implement the directives of the therapists, and work towards the therapy goals established by the therapy team.  Lydia enjoys her time with her TSW's.   They spend their time doing exercises, playing games, resting, reading and practicing proper posture.

This morning, we were singing "Beautiful Things", when Lydia said "Jesus makes beautiful things".  I agreed.  Then she said, "The song should say that.  Instead of you, it should say Jesus."

We are often overwhelmed by the incredible honesty, purity and beauty of the connection Lydia has with God.  May it always be so.  May we learn from her.

Friday, September 28, 2012

We are often undone by the kindness of others. Thank you for your continued support: for meals, play dates for our boys, prayers, gifts and notes of encouragement.  For those who have cut our grass, done our laundry, cleaned, and weeded; we thank you.  Notably, our neighbour has faithfully cared for our pool all season long. (If you have a pool, you know how much work this is!)  He has given so sacrificially to our family: ensuring the pool is ready for the boys to plunge into at anytime, and for Lydia to enjoy on weekends, and he has always done this with a willing heart, and silent prayers on his lips. Lydia's accident occurred on the day we were opening the pool for the season.  This weekend, we are closing it.  We will always remember the summer of 2012, and the kindness of those who helped us through it.  For gifts such as these, we are so grateful.

Today was a bright, sunny day.  Lydia had a full day of therapy, with lots of food (have we mentioned before that she is constantly hungry?!) and rests in between, but it was a good day of steady work.  She is working on moving between a sitting and standing position, with balance, standing upright, and holding a pen properly, as well as other fine motor skills.  In communication therapy, she is learning convergent and divergent thinking, associations, sequencing and elaboration.  We are grateful for the fine team of private therapists who are a key part of Lydia's home team.  

This evening, as we watched some Canadian geese fly in formation overhead, and heard their noisy honk, we remembered that geese flying in formation can achieve about 70% more distance than one bird flying solo.  And so it is with people.  We do not walk this journey alone or unsupported.  We are cheered on, held up and strengthened.  We are grateful for the community that surrounds us,  and grateful to God for his provision to us, in you.  We count our blessings as we fall asleep tonight.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lydia is home today for a long weekend.  Tomorrow she will see each of her therapists from her home team.  She has been so tired for the last several weekends, that she has not been having therapy on weekends.  This week, she has been alert, showing significant improvements with her short term memory, and she has been ambitious.  We thought it would be good for her to be challenged by her home team tomorrow.
Tonight, we had our first family outing since May 17.  We all piled into the family car and went to Waterloo Oxford District Secondary School for their outdoor movie night showing of Brave. We only stayed for 30 minutes or so but Lydia was happy to see many friends and familiar faces.  The boys stayed with their friends to watch the movie, and we brought Lydia home for, of course, another snack, and for bed time.  Often she is in bed by 8, so tonight was a late night for her!  Her smile is wide, and her eyes close instantly when her head hits her pillow.
At Sick Kids, Lydia received a Merida doll (the main character in the movie Brave) from one of her visitors, because she had to be brave in the face of her injuries and disabilities.  Our girl is brave.  She is determined to recover.  Tonight, she chose to walk, and not take her wheel chair to Waterloo Oxford, the high school that Lydia will attend.  This school had on its sign board in the spring and summer : We believe! Lydia Herrle, class of 2017.  We believe too.  It can happen.  God willing, it will happen.  He is making her new every day.
Lydia's short term memory is improving. Today, as soon as she was finished school, she asked Grandpa, "Can we go to Tim Horton's?" There is a Tim's kiosk in the hospital. She remembered that Grandma and Grandpa often take her for a smoothie and a Boston Cream donut at the end of her school day. (Now we know why Lydia is gaining weight around her middle!!!) Lydia is also remembering who has visited her, or who she has seen or met. Her nurses are delighted that she remembers their names.

This morning, before breakfast Lydia didn't want to go for a walk, like she usually does, she wanted to go for a run! Then she thought she wanted to do some hurdles! She does not lack ambition, just balance and coordination! James tried to facilitate this request, but they both ended up on the ground after the attempt. Lydia requires support walking, so it was a short lesson in the need to be able to walk before she can run. The dream of seeing her run and play soccer is perhaps in her heart too.

This morning, I texted to James "I love you, James Herrle!" Lydia read my text and asked James to type a reply for her: "I love you, Michelle Herrle, who is married to James Herrle, who is my dad." Cherished words. It is life giving to be able to communicate, to give and receive.

We observed Lydia pulling her bed covers up over herself on the weekend. This was the first we had seen of her being able to do that. Previously, we would tuck her in, and make sure her covers were over her, to keep her warm. This image has been strongly contrasted in our minds with another image, that of Lydia in ICU at Sick Kids, lying on a cooling pad, with bags of ice packed around her. She is motionless, and covered with only the smallest rectangle of sheeting - a pillow case sized cover; bare arms and legs exposed, neck in a brace, tubes in her chest, nose and head, abrasions on her toes, eyes sightless when opened to do a pupil dialation check . Contrast these two images, and you can give thanks with us, for how far our girl has come. Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers, and healing Lydia.

Thank you for your prayers. There is still much to regain, but much has been recovered. We celebrate this progress.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This morning, Lydia walked to breakfast in the BIRT dining room, and sat in a kitchen chair at the table, instead of rolling to breakfast and eating in her wheel chair.  Of course she ate an enormous breakfast, asserting all the while, "I love food!"  She continues to eat and drink well, and take her medicines orally, so the Doctor is looking to remove her G tube by Thanksgiving!   We vividly remember back to mid June, how devastated we were that Lydia needed to have a G tube.  While we understood its necessity, it felt like such a hope crushing event.   It gave permanence to some of Lydia's disabilities, and we grieved that Lydia could not taste food, and sit at the table to eat with us.  We are so thankful to God for healing Lydia's ability to chew, swallow and taste.  Lydia is delighted that it will be removed within two weeks, as she has asked "Why do I have this here?  I don't use it anymore!"  Now, there is comprehension!

Today at rest time, Lydia was listening to My Beloved by Kari Jobe.  When Lydia listens to music in bed, at times, it appears that she is sleeping, then she will suddenly join her voice with the song, but only for certain lines.  When this song came on, Lydia pointed to heaven as she sang "You're beautiful to me, so beautiful to me".  Although the song is written from the perspective of Christ singing over us,  she sang it back to Him.  How often I have listened to this song, and allowed the lyrics to wash over me.  How precious that Lydia would sing it back to Him.  I had to join her in the refrain.  He is beautiful to me, too.

Lyrics to My Beloved :

You're my beloved, you're my bride
To sing over you is my delight
Come away with me my love

Under my mercy come and wait
Till we are standing face to face
I see no stain on you my child

You're beautiful to me
So beautiful to me

I sing over you my song of peace
Cast all your care down at my feet
Come and find your rest in me

I'll breathe my life inside of you
I'll bear you up on eagle's wings
And hide you in the shadow of my strength

I'll take you to my quiet waters
I'll restore your soul
Come rest in me and be made whole

You're my beloved, you're my bride
To sing over you is my delight
Come away with me my love

Monday, September 24, 2012

Today was not melancholy Monday, as the last month of Mondays have been.  Lydia was happy leaving for HB this morning.  There were no tears or crying - for her or us.  We are grateful for this day.  The boys hugged and said goodbye to Lydia before they went to catch their bus.  As they dashed out the door, she was smilng, and calling out  "Have a good day at school, boys!"
Lydia was alert this morning, and showed continued signs of cognitive processing.  This was evident, even in the early morning hours!  We were so pleased that she woke us up around 4 am because she had to use the washroom.  After tucking her back into bed, she said "I know that I was hit by a truck when I was getting off the school bus, but was anyone else hurt?"  More questions followed - but they were new questions.  Up until this weekend, she could never remember what had happened, and repeatedly would ask, "What happened to me?"  Although we were not happy to be having these conversations at 4:18., 4:19, 4:20 (as Lydia kept telling us the time,until we covered the digital clock!), we were glad to see her remembering and processing.
When we asked Lydia what her favourite part of this weekend was, she exclaimed "eating!".  She does enjoy food, and eats a lot of it. She had strawberries, cereal, toast with honey, strawberries, carrots,( why not ?!) toast with peach jam, strawberries, cheese and crackers  She had about an hour long breakfast this morning! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wow!  There is such power in prayer.  Tonight we opened the Pray for Lydia gmail account, and we were amazed to see 500 emails!  Thank you, thank you for your prayers!  Lydia is progressing faster than the usual course for brain injury patients.  She is amazing her therapists, nurses and doctors.  We love the way one nurse expressed it : "She's on the miracle track!"
Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks to You because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made.  Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.  (God's word translation)  Lydia is healing at God's pace and, by His hand.  We praise him for her recovery each day.  She is being made new.
Today has been a wonderful day for Lydia and for our family.  She has not been sad, fearful or angry, but joyful, alert and making good cognitive connections.  She is sorting out many thing in her mind.  She makes very thorough introductions!  In prayer, she thanked God "for Daddy, whose name is James, and who is married to Mommy, whose name is Michelle, and for their two sons, who are Sam and Ben, and for their one daughter whose name is Lydia, and that is me." Today she told me about the names and gender of the four children in our friend's family, naming them as she did.  It seemed random, as we had not been discussing them at all today, but gave proof of her sorting through information stored.   There was even repeated evidence of short term memory improvements today!  This morning, she wanted to see if she could still do the splits, and she was elated that she could.  Throughout the day, she would say, "I can do the splits" to anyone she talked to.  At one time, when I thought she was almost a sleep at nap time, she sat straight up in bed, and exclaimed "I can do the splits, do you want to see?"  She was certainly remembering her accomplishment!  (Lydia worked very hard on her flexibility last year, so that she would be able to do the splits for cheerleading.)
Go Lydia, go!  We will cheer lead for you!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

We had a team meeting at Holland Bloorview on Thursday.  Gathered around a large table were each of Lydia's Bloorview therapists, her teacher, her discharge planner, her social worker, and her case manager from KeyRehab.   (Her psychologist, doctor, and nursing coordinator were absent, but reported ahead of time.)   KidsAbility in Waterloo, was teleconferenced in for the hour long meeting, as Lydia will be discharged to their programs and care, as well as to the care of her Home team therapists.
The meeting began with a review of Lydia's goals, or more accurately, with a review of the goals that we set for Lydia, upon her arrival at Holland Bloorview.  Simply, the goals were for Lydia to walk again, talk again, eat again, be continent and capable of relational attachments.  Wow!  She has achieved some of those goals, and is working towards others.  What accomplishments!  We are grateful for the tremendous progress we have seen in the last month.  (Yes, it was a month ago today, that we celebrated "Happy Birthday dad"!)   
We are thankful Lydia is learning to walk, but we want her to run, leap, play on sports teams, bounce on the trampoline with us, ....  We love that Lydia can talk to us, but we want her voice to return in full strength, with tone, clarity, and emphasis.  We want her to be able to follow conversations, articulate her thoughts and feelings, be able to grasp inuendos and figurative speech....
Our list of new goals, is long.  We say thank you, God, for all that you have restored in Lydia, and we ask for more.  We pray for fullness of healing and recovery. 
At the meeting, we learned that Holland Bloorview is looking at a tentative discharge date of mid November!  That date can be moved forward or backward, depending on how Lydia progresses.  Of course we want her home sooner, but we acknowledge the place that HB has in Lydia's rehabilitation.  Once she comes home, it will be to the continued therapy from her home team, her therapy suppport workers, her home school educators, and personal care attendants.  Lydia may be able to return to Baden Public School to see her classmates, and participate in some special events, but the majority of her school work will be completed at home, in a quieter setting with less stimulation and frequent rests.  Currently, she can handle about 20 minutes of school work at HB. 

Lydia has rested well today, with several naps.  Her appetite continues to be healthy, (she is loving food!) and tonight we enjoyed her sense of humour. When asked what her favourite part of today had been, she responded with: "Eating!"  Last night we were touched to hear from a friend who was caring for Lydia that Lydia had begun reading aloud the LIFE IS poem by Mother Teresa that we have hanging on our wall. She seemed to know that there were elements of the poem that related specifically to her, even though we have not shared with her the significance  of the poem to us since her accident.  When she got to the second last line, and read "Life is precious.  Don't destroy it.", she said, "Don't worry ... I won't.  I'm strong."  Wow!  We have pondered this many times today. 
Isaiah 40: 31 Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Friday, September 21, 2012

We are grateful for another weekend together.  Lydia rests well at home.  Please pray that this would be a restful weekend for her. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lydia's Prayer Map

Lydia was given a map of the world, along with little red dots, to show areas in the world where people are praying for her.  We thank you for your prayers.  We believe that prayer changes us, and changes situations.  prayers are heard by our loving, Heavenly Father.  A verse that has often accompanied our journey is Romans 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
We want to invite you to email your location to Lydia, and we will put it on her map.  Please put your town, province or state, and country in the subject line of the email.  We will not necessarily have time to open the emails we receive, so your help with this information in the subject, is appreciated. Thank you.
The email address is:

Lydia has been so tired lately!  This morning, she begam an hour long nap at 10:40!  School, and other cognitive tasks really exhaust her.  She is in school for about 45 minutes in both the morning, and afternoon.  She is working on addition and subtraction with single digit numbers.  She is also doing some reading, and does well with picture books, as she is a very visual learner.  She is developing some fine motor skills, for holding a pencil, and printing her name is improving.  Lydia has trouble figuring out if someone is talking to her, or generally asking a question.  Today, a student in her class queried, "how do you spell organization?"  Lydia said " o r g a n - and I don't remember the rest!"  The student was so delighted with Lydia's help, he said she could be his spelling hero anytime!  Lydia's smile matched his.  She enjoys helping others.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lydia continues to tire quickly and she requires regular rest.  She has been very emotional today.  Whenever home is mentioned she cries, or she thinks about her brothers, asks about them, and then cries.  Crying still does not have any tears for Lydia, it is shuddering and wailing sounds, but no tears.  She has cried repeatedly at seeing me.  She forgets I am here, and then exclaims "Oh Mommy, I have missed you so much," and then she reaches out for a hug and cries.  While these tender expressions of love are moving, I long for her to be at a spot where she can be more steady.  So Lord, steady Lydia's heart, I pray.

Lately, Lydia has had a charming way of asserting her like or love of someone, and then asking for another's opinion on the matter.  For example, she will say to me, "I love Daddy.  Do you love Daddy?"  When I answer with great affirmation, she claps her hands and says "Yeah, I love Daddy too!"  Tonight, after I had tucked Lydia into bed, she began talking.  I asked her to repeat herself, and she said she wasn't talking to me!  So I sat back.  Next I heard:  "Thank you for Mommy.  I love Mommy.  Do you love Mommy?  Me too.  That's good..  .... I love you too."  All I could do was bow my head and hold the holiness of this moment.   May Jesus continue to speak tenderly to her all night long.

Today I played Already All I Need for Lydia today.  As soon as she heard the piano at the start of the song, she closed her eyes, put her head back, looked heavenward and smiled.  The second time she heard it, she was singing along - pretty good for someone with short term memory deficits!

Christy Nockels has another beautiful song, called Healing Is In Your Hands.  In fact, the whole album, "Into the Glorious" is full of powerful songs.  No matter where we are, healing is in His hands.

Healing Is In Your Hands

No mountain, no valley, no gain or loss we know
could keep us from Your love
No sickness, no secret, no chain is strong enough
to keep us from Your love
to keep us from Your love

How high, how wide
No matter where I am, healing is in Your hands
How deep, How strong,
And now by Your grace I stand, healing is in Your hands

Our present, our future, our past is in Your hands
We're covered by Your blood
We're covered by Your blood

How high, How wide
no matter where I am, healing is in Your hands
How deep, How strong
And now by Your grace I stand, healing is in Your hands

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Already All I Need

Lydia has been happy but tired today.  She is doing well and trying her best in therapy.  In PT/OT she was bending over to pick up letters to spell her brothers names.  Tonight there were therapy pets at Holland Bloorview, so Lydia was taken to the gym for a short time to see, pet, and hold the many different pets that volunteers bring in to share with the inpatients.  By 7:30, she is ready for bed. 
Lydia has a new room mate, Christina, a 17year old whom Lydia knows because she has been at Holland Bloorview for a while too.  They get along fine.  Her previous room mates have been discharged - how wonderful to see them recovered enough to return home.

This powerful worship song, by Christy Nockels, has been my refrain today: Already All I Need.  Yes, Jesus, you are already ALL I need.  Thank you.

Asking where You are Lord, wondering where You've been
Is like standing in a hurricane trying to find the wind
Hoping for Your mercy to meet me where I am 
Is forgetting that your thoughts for me outnumber the sand
[ Lyrics from: ]
You fill the sun with morning light
You bent the moon to lead the night
You clothed the lilies bright and beautiful

You're already all I need
Already everything that I could hope for 
You're already all I need
You've already set me free, already making me more like you
You're already all I need
Jesus, You're already all I need.

Walking through this life without your freedom in my heart
Is like holding onto shackles that You have torn apart
So remind me of your promises and all that You have done
In this world I will have trouble, but You have overcome

And every gift that I receive, You determined just for me
But nothing I desire compares to You

In your fullness, You're my all in all
In your healing, I'm forever made whole
In your freedom, Your love overflows and carries me
You carry me, yes You carry me, You carry me

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mondays are difficult.  They are the return to the divided life.  Lydia is very emotional about leaving home and saying good bye.  We want to join her sobbing, but choose to encourage her and remind her about her friends and therapists at Hollland Bloorview, to ease her pain.  We work our way through our own tears later.
Weekends are bittersweet.  It is so beautiful to be altogether, and to have Lydia at home, but it is also a difficult task.  Weekends have become more demanding due to the incrased level of supervision Lydia requires.  While care is less rigorous in some areas, it is more rigorous in the vigilance that is required to keep her safe.  She is like an inquisitive toddler in a teenager's body!  She has strength, and such a long reach!  We cannot easily physically stop her if she decides she wants to do something.  She is impulsive.  If she decides she wants to walk, she gets up to do it, not knowing that she is unable to do it on her own yet, and unaware of the dangers of trying.  At present, she requires the undivided attention of one care giver full time.
Into this day of feeling like the journey is long, a friend sent us the following verse: Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 
The reminder is helpful.  It is life giving.  He is here.  In every season.  In every trial. In every step of the journey.

On Sunday, James and I shared parts of our journey with our congregation at Waterloo Mennonite Brethren Church.  If you would like to listen, here is a handy link - sent by another friend!  (How blessed we are with friends "to walk the mile and bear the load" with us.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


We are grateful for the many gifts we have received.  Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights. (James 1:17)
Today, we thank God for weekends at home, for Lydia's voice joining the chatter around the dinner table, for improved balance and strength in Lydia's walking, for healthy foods to fuel our bodies, for visits from family and friends, and for the sun of righteousness that is rising with healing in its rays.  (Malachi 4:2)  Lydia is healing each day.
We have had a good day together.  Lydia has continued with her voracious appetite - it is a good thing we grow food!  She enjoyed her first corn on the cob for this season.  She held it rather awkwardly, but she managed it on her own.
Lydia has rested a lot today, and hopefully, she is ready for her full week back at Holland Bloorview.
For those who have wondered, Sam 's foot is healing well.  He is back to all of his normal activities, and he will simply have a small scar on the top of his foot to remember his Labour day injury.  Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lydia is eating and sleeping alot!  Perhaps another growth spurt.  Time will tell!

This morning she independently fed herself her breakfast, toast, watermelon and strawberries.  Often we help with feeding, because it is laboursome for her, but she manged it all by herself this morning.  She then worked hard to get dressed, doing as much as she could, then she used the washroom, brushed her teeth and her hair.  By this time, it was 8 am, and she was tired and ready to rest again.  she slept for 20 minutes.
Lydia rested at 8:00, 10:00, 1:30, 3:00  and 4:30 today, and she still seemed tired and fell asleep tonight by 7:45. 

We were introduced to a new song by a friend today: My Hope by Paul Baloche and sung with Kathryn Scott.

Nothing will change
If all the plans I make are wrong, Your love stays the same
Your light will guide me through it all, I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

Nothing can reach,
The end of all Your faithfulness
Your grace is with me,
Through every shadow, every test
I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

I don’t know where you’ll take me
But I know You’re always good
My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

You are my rock
When storms are raging all along,
You shelter me, God
I’m safe with you on solid ground,
I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

I don’t know where you’ll take me
But I know You’re always good
My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stay strong Lydia!  
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!  Philippians 4:13

We enjoyed some time off in between school and therapy this morning, to go for a walk in the spiral gardens at Holland Bloorview.  Lydia wasn't just pushed in her wheel chair for the walk, she got up and did some walking with assistance.  Her strength and balance are returning.  
At the end of a full week, she is tired.  She has worked hard in therapy and school.  We will do a lot of resting at home this weekend.  Home is quiet, compared to the constant paging and buzzing noises in the hospital.  Home is peaceful.   Holland Bloorview is a busy paediatric hospital with many inpatients, outpatients, doctors, therapists, nurses and facilities staff.  Home is a wonderful place to be together again.
May you find moments of rest, peace and quiet in your homes this weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lydia has had another full, but good day.  She played more bean bag basketball, practiced walking, and balancing when she stands.  In OT, more testing today, to evaluate motor skills, while Lydia worked with large beads, pencil and scissors.  We may need to pull out the craft supplies this weekend!
Lydia's speech is become clearer - less slurred, and it also is starting to have more tonality.  Orignally, it was very monotone, as is comon with brain injury patients.  Tonight she talked on the phone, quite clearly, and she could be understood!  She asked how Fatso was, and then started to laugh.  She likes her caterpillar - I should say, her chrysalis. 
Lydia is using the toilet more and the commode less.  She is doing very well in this regard.
Often throughout the day today, I was praying for a friend in a difficult situation.  As I prayed, scriptures that have been meaningful to us, came to me, and I prayed them for her.  Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)   Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12) and Philippians 4:7:And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  I was blessed to remember all that we have been lead through, and God's loving and faithful presence with us through it all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Lydia was given a monarch caterpillar and a tropical milkweed plant on the weekend.  We loved watching the very hungry caterpillar munch through leaves, and poop all over the place!  Lydia named her caterpillar Fatso!  Isn't that great?  We have been enjoying watching this fine creature prepare for its transformation.  We take photos of it, and send them so they can be shared with Lydia.
At Bloorview, she was remembering and telling some of her therapists and nurses that she has a caterpillar named Fatso.  Everytime she says his name, (she has decided it is a him) she breaks into a grin.
She remembered to ask James, when he went to see her last night, "How's Fatso?"  His report: Fatso is hanging upside down .  He is pupating.
Today, we couldn't believe the transformation!  Fatso formed its chrysalis.  He was still a pupa at lunch, but by 2:30, he was hidden in his chrysalis!  We continue to marvel at this wonderful creation, and await its coming beauty.
Very early on, Philippians 1:6 came to mind as we were praying: being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Our confidence remains in the one who is continuing to transform us.
Lydia has had another good day - not quite as alert as yesterday, but still working hard.  Her OT shared with us today that the purpose of the difficult memory test is to examine how Lydia remembers things.  She is a more visual learner, as she had more clarity on the components of the test where there were pictures, or movements. 
Tonight, she exchanged her wheel chair for a wheel chair basket ball chair for evening recreation.  Wheeling it requires skill, and since she still has troubles when she tries to wheel her own chair, it was a fun but difficult evening activity.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lydia has had another great day!  She has been happy, positive, and hard working.  In PT, she practiced bending down to pick up bean bags from a bin at her feet, straightening up to a stand, balancing, and then throwing the bean bags into a basket ball net.  She also walked, and worked with textures on her bare feet.
In school she did some reading, and working with number blocks.  In speech, she worked on identifying people and their roles, knowing the day, month and year, and solving riddles.
Lydia's OT session today was very difficult - she had a memory test!  She was shown pictures of items, and then 5 minutes later shown another series of pictures, and she had to say which ones she had seen previously.  At the start of the session, her OT hid her water bottle in a cupboard, and instructed Lydia that when the session was over, she would have to ask for her water bottle back.  She showed her a photo of a woman, and said her name was Catherine Taylor.  Towards the end of the session, she showed her the photo again, and asked her "who is this?"  Lydia tried very hard.  It was a tricky test.
After this, she had a long nap.
Joy is truly God's gift to Lydia.  She was joyful and fun today, even laughing at jokes from yesterday and remembering them!
This morning a friend visited and brought Lydia a world map, with little red dot stickers.  The map is to visually show all of the places in the world where people are praying for Lydia.  What a fabulous idea! Lydia will see the map in her bedroom at Bloorview and be encouraged by the many people around the world who are praying for her recovery.  May this map serve to help Lydia know how great our God is, and how prayer makes a difference.  Thank you for your prayers.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lydia had a joyful return to Holland Bloorview today.  She was excited to get back to “school” and see her therapists.  Every time she was asked how her weekend went, she smiled, gave a thumbs up and said “Great!  I got to see my brothers, Sam and Ben.”  How heart warming!  That expresses the beauty of weekends at home.
Lydia has been alert, happy and even giddy at times, all day.  It began at breakfast, when she broke into song, upon tasting a delicious homemade cinnamon bun!  (No, I don’t have time to bake, but God has blessed us with foodie friends, and one of them is an extraordinary baker.   Another friend makes us a fresh, healthy salad every week.  We are grateful for these tangible expressions of love.)  Back to Lydia.  This evening, she saw my tupperware container with a cinnamon bun I had brought to have for breakfast tomorrow.  She took it and opened it, and asked to have some.  I said we could share it.  She promptly ripped off the outside crust and handed it to me, and kept the gooey sugar filled centre for herself.  When I commented, she wittingly responded, "Do you have a problem with this?" and shoved it in her mouth!   Yeah, Lyds!  Our fun loving jokester is back!
Today, Lydia drank all of her fluids and took her meds orally, all day!  Hooray!  She has been working on drinking more, but today is the first day she has been able to do it!  Hooray!  The goal of g tube removal by the end of Sept. is feasible.
For her therapists today, Lydia was sharp and worked hard.  She put numbers into sequences, and worked on sorting groups of five animals from smallest to biggest, or slowest to fastest.

Weaving throughout my day, today, have been prayers for several friends who are in tough places.  We all hit pain, uncertainty, and loss in our lives.  Thankfully, our God is ever present, faithful and so tender and loving.  This prayer, shared with me recently, is for those whose journey is hard. 

"Ever-present God,
You call us on a journey to a place we do not know.
We are not where we started.
We have not reached our destination.
We are not sure where we are or who we are.
This is not a comfortable place.
Be among us, we pray.
Calm our fears, save us from discouragement.
And help us to stay on course.
Open our hearts to your guidance so that our journey to this
Unknown place continues as a journey of trust.
The Reverend Canon Kristi Philip

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tonight when we were tucking Lydia into bed, we said prayers together.  She prayed: Thank you God for taking such good care of us.  We love you.  Amen.
We can learn from her.  She has times of great confusion and frustration, far beyond anything we encounter, and yet she is grateful for God's good care of her.  Thank you, Jesus, that you are real to Lydia and that you so tenderly and lovingly care for her, and for all of us.

Lydia often claps and says "Yeah!"  Sometimes she is cheering herself on, sometimes others, and sometimes, God.  When she hears a bible verse or worship song she likes, she occasionally  throws her fist in the air and then claps her hands, as she smiles upward.  When I read this description of worship in Max Lucado's book on life, I thought of Lydia:  "To worship is to applaud the greatness of God."  Maybe Lydia's clapping is in applause of the One who is worthy.

Today James played guitar and sang with Lydia.  They sang Indescribable; a beautiful song that extols the limitless nature of our great God. It is powerfully written by Laura Story, and sung by Chris Tomlin.

Another wonderful description of Jesus and his indescribable nature was given by the great orator, S. M. Lockridge  many years ago: "That's My King".  This has been favourite listening for us over the years.  I can't listen without trembling.  I listened to it again tonight: "He supplies strength to the weak ... He strengthens and sustains, he guards and he guides... His mercy is everlasting, His grace is sufficient ...  Oh I wish I could describe Him to you..."

Worship lifts our eyes from our circumstances and fixes them on the One who is truly worthy of our praise.  We are thankful for the moments we took to worship today.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lydia's short term memory deficits can be comical and heart warming at times.  She says "hi" and greets us very regularly, almost every time we re enter the room she is in, and indication that she has forgotten that she just saw us.  When James and I were with her at Sick Kids on Wednesday, sitting on either side of her in the waiting room, with full sincerity, while talking with James, she said, " I miss Mommy.  Where is Mommy?"  I was sitting outside of her peripheral vision, and she forgot that I was there.  Another time, an Aunt came to see her, and she was delighted to visit with her.  Lydia had a brief washroom break, and upon exiting, she say her aunt again and exclaimed "Oh my gosh - Auntie, it is so good to see you!"  Her delight was great.  She had no recollection of having seen her five minutes earlier.
Today has been a mixed day, with beautiful moments and with hard times and turbulent emotions.  Lydia exhibited classic Rancho level 4 symptoms of confusion and agitation.  One minute she would be raging out of control, the next, calm, polite and contained.  She could flip emotions on a dime.  Due to her confusion, she can overreact to what she sees, hears or feels by hitting, screaming or using abusive language.  Today she used the s word with her brother, repeatedly calling him "stupid".  This is completely uncharacteristic of Lydia!   With some coaxing, in a lucid moment, she apologized profusely to him.
Lydia needs regular rest.  Today she napped at 10:30, 2:00 and 4:30.  All this in addition to a beautiful night's sleep.  Thank you for your prayers.  Lydia slept very well last night - almost 11 hours.
We are hoping for another good night tonight to help lessen some of the confusion and agitation characteristic to this stage of her recovery.
Psalm 23
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside the still waters,
He restores my soul.

Friday, September 7, 2012

We have been listening to a CD compilation of the songs that have been significant to us on our journey.  It is amazing how a song that was so meaningful weeks or even months ago, when Lydia was at a different spot in her recovery, is meaningful again.
In these days of emotional turbulence, and of feeling stretched,  we have stopped to listen and sing: "Breathe in.  Breathe out.  You will find Him here." (Here Kari Jobe)
"Never once did we ever walk alone, never once did you leave us on our own, You are faithful God" (Never Once Matt Redman)
The questions from Laura Story's Blessings, have also brought perspective:
"What if your blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears?
what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?
And what if the trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?"

When we can't see forward, we look back.  We see His faithfulness, and we trust Him for what lies ahead.  With gratitude, we thank Him for all the healing He has done, and all that He will do.  He will lead us through this stage of recovery.

It is beautiful to have Lydia home for the weekend.  She is happy to be home.  She is sleeping peacefully tonight.  The last two nights have been rougher for her, so perhaps it is fatigue that drew her easily to sleep tonight, or the comfort of home, or both.  We pray she will sleep well, for when she is tired, she is more emotional and fearful.  Even in this, there is hope and peace to be found.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lydia did not sleep well last night, and so she was much more emotional today.   She was missing home last night, and her night time nurse told me that she needed "reorienting" a few times.  When I asked her what that meant,  she told me that it meant that Lydia didn't know where she was or why she was there.   When her nurse asked her what might calm her and how she could help her to fall back asleep, Lydia replied, that she'd like her mommy to sing to her.  Heart breaking moments.  I would like to be able to always be there for her, to love her and sing to her, but I cannot be.  I need rest.  The boys need me.  Home needs me.  Ultimately, we must continually entrust Lydia to the care of the One who is always with her, who never leaves her nor forsakes her.  (At Holland Bloorview,  Lydia always has a close friend or family member with her, so she is well taken care of. )
Today at lunch, Lydia's Doctor encouraged her to drink all of her water, instead of getting any in her g tube.  When I talked to her about this, encouraging her to give it a try, she responded: "Yeah!  Then I'll be like normal people."  How unfortunate that her perceptions now allow her to see herself as different, and that some filter in her mind causes her to view normal as better.  Normal is just a silly, relative word.  We are all unique creations.  Lydia drank about half of her water, and then tried drinking the rest throughout the afternoon.  Her drinking is improving, but she still needs more stamina.
On a different child, thank you for your prayers for Sam.  His foot is healing.  He can now put a bit of weight on it, and it has not bled since Monday.
Tomorrow brings in another weekend.  Weekends have new meaning for us as a family, because we can be the Herrle5 together at home.  Thank you for respecting our family's privacy, and not just dropping in to visit.  We know there are many who wish us well, and pray for us regularly.  Thank you, in all these regards.
Today I shared Zeph 3:17 with Lydia, and she loved the idea of God singing over her.  "Really?" she asked with bright eyes.  Really!
The Lord you God is with you; He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

May we all hear that singing when we need comforting and calming.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Today we returned to Sick Kids Hospital for a follow up neurology appointment.  Returning to the place where we had lived so deeply for eight weeks was powerful for James and me.  Lydia has no memory of the hospital or the people we saw today.

Her neurology Doctor who did her brain surgery for the ICP probe and drainage tube, was amazed at Lydia's progress.  With a twinkle in his eye, he said to Lydia, "we always thought you might make a rapid recovery, but this is wonderful to see!"  Consequently, Lydia does not need to return until Sept 2013 for a follow up visit.
After this appointment, we went to 5C, where Lydia brought smiles to the faces of her former therapists and nurses.  They were so delighted to see her, and how well she is doing.  "She is on the miracle track" one woman exclaimed.  "I can't believe it!  I am giddy!" was another's response.
We have been told that brain injury patients usually have a very long, slow, recovery.  It can be likened to a steady uphill climb.  In the past three weeks, Lydia has made fantastic gains, and leapt forward in her recovery.  The spike in her recovery is amazing to many who regularly work with Traumatic Brain Injury patients.  One nurse I spoke with today shared her view with me:  "This is extraordinary!  This is the work of God!"  I share her view.  God is graciously answering our prayers with abundance.  Your prayers for Lydia are making a difference  - a difference that the medical community can recognize.
Thank you.  We are so grateful to be seeing more of Lydia return each day.  And thanks be to God!  How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God!  And all will see, how great, how great is our God!  (Chris Tomlin song: How Great is Our God)

Today Lydia walked up two flights of stairs, using the railing, and supervised and kept safe by her therapists, and then she walked down them too.  She is wobbly, and uncoordinated, but strong.  This took almost 20 minutes, but she did it!  She also experienced some different textures under her bare feet in therapy this morning.  When we get home this weekend,  we're to walk barefoot in the grass!  Sounds like fun homework!
School begins for Lydia tomorrow.  She was not properly registered, although we had thought she was.

Tonight, we played some instruments and did some music therapy together.  She played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the glockenspiel, and then Mary Had a Little Lamb on the key board - both with assistance, but with interest and determination of her own to do it.  She sang along too, and happily, when she sings, there is pitch returning to her voice.  She sang a C + scale tonight: C D E F G H-oops A B C!
Psalm 40:5  Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We are grateful for the rain, and the healling of a new day.  We have sought and found mercy in this day.  Hebrews 4:16: Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Thank you for your prayers.  Last night Sam and James returned home around 9:30, only to have Sam's foot start gushing blood again.   Once the bleeding stopped, and we got Sam to sleep, we kept vigil through the night to make sure that his wound wouldn't open and begin bleeding while he slept.   The stitches have held, and Sam is on crutches.  He was able to go to school for part of the first day. 

It was a tearful goodbye for Lydia as she returned to Holland Bloorview.  While we are grateful for her awareness of, and the apporpriate nature of these emotions, they are still hard for us all.  They are further indicators that she is healing.  Once the wheelchair van disappers down the lane, our strength goes too, and we take time to cry and mourn the parting.

Lydia's PT and OT have not seen her since August 17, so what incredible changes they saw in her and heard today, as she was able to talk to them, and call them by name.  They have previously only worked with a silent, Lydia.

The lyrics from the first verse of Christa Wells Image of God were appropriate lyrics for us today.
Bare feet stepping on glass
We break along life’s paths
Our fear and loss, we bring it all to you
Soul-breather, making all things new
You're making all things new.

The road resurfacing on Erb's Road is complete now, with fresh pavement to cover over the skid marks and evidence of May's incident. God is indeed making all things new.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Please pray for Sam who sliced his foot after lunch & spent the rest of the day in emergency to get stitches. How we long, as parents, to not see our children suffer.
Our heavenly Father wishes the same.
We pray for sleep tonight.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Sunday, September 2, 2012

We have had a good day as a family.  We were visited this evening by close family friends, and Lydia had fun playing in the pool with them.  She can now catch a volleyball when it is lightly tossed to her.  To do this, she needs someone to hold her trunk to provide some extra stability as she stands in the water.  Since she enjoys the water, we do a lot of therapy in it.

Lydia has a very good memory of things from before the accident, but very little short term memory. She does not necessarily remember in the afternoon the things she did in the morning.  Fortunately, she does remember letters and sounds, and she can read! She fatigues quickly at many cognitive tasks, and so cannot read more than a few sentences at a time, but we are delighted that she can read - both printing and handwriting.  Thanks be to God for his goodness in this.

Lydia has only gross motor control, and so feeding herself is challenging, as is printing or colouring. Today we coloured together, and she was so appreciative of me helping her by supporting her wrist and helping her move her hand.   She clapped her hands and cheered "yeah!" when she appraised what she had done.  She produced something that a 2 year old would be proud of - and she was equally proud. She liked the orange, blue and purple flowers we coloured. On our kitchen door hangs the beautiful flower artwork she did for me for Mother's day this year.  She remembers making it for me.  Lydia loves art, so we will colour together regularly, and hopefully her skills will return with time.

We are grateful for the progress Lydia is making.  She has had a good attitude this weekend, and so far we haven't had any turbulent emotional outbursts.  Her joy, her smile and her glorious spirit continue to reflect an inner peace amidst her circumstances.  God has equipped her beautifully for the journey she is on.  She has the peace that passes understanding.

 Forever, by Chris Tomlin and Jesse Reeves

Give thanks to the Lord
Our God and King
His love endures forever
For He is good, He is above all things
His love endures forever
Sing praise, sing praise
With a mighty hand
and outstretched arm
His love endures forever
For the life that’s been reborn
His love endures forever
Sing praise, sing praise
Sing praise, sing praise

Forever God is faithful
Forever God is strong
Forever God is with us
Forever, Forever
From the rising to the setting sun
His love endures forever
By the grace of God
We will carry on
His love endures forever
Sing praise, sing praise
Sing praise, sing praise

Forever God is faithful
Forever God is strong
Forever God is with us

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lydia is eating very well. She still has her g tube, for water intake, and medicines. She is learning to drink water from a straw, and sips slowly at it. There is danger in aspirating it, so we are slowly building strength for drinking water. So far, she is able to drink about 250ml daily. She receives 1.5 L of water through her g tube daily. We are hopeful that Lydia will progress with her drinking, and be able to have her g tube removed by the end of Sept.

She is doing very well with the commode, and is dry most days.

We learned recently that Lydia, although she is responsive and can converse with us, will not remember much of what is happening now. Typically brain injury patients say that their first memories date to the time when they are first home again after discharge from the rehab hospital. It is hard to believe that she will not remember moments that are so precious to us: learning to talk last week, and now to sing; enjoying chocolate chip mint ice cream together; laying under the shade tree; joking with her dad ....

We may share these memories with her, in time, or we may keep them in our hearts.  There are many memories of our time at Sick Kids that we have not shared with Lydia, and she does not have any memory of them.  Perhaps this is the Lord's mercy to her.  He is the Good Shepherd and he knows how to care for his lambs.