September 24, 2011

Close Call

Garren loves his bike.

Yesterday, once the rain stopped, we took off on a ride through the neighborhood. Kelsey just learned this week to ride without training wheels, and she was joining us. Me, Kelsey, and Garren headed out for a great time together.

We turned the corner, and headed up the hill toward the community pond. We had to stop and wait for the UPS truck to pass by, then we continued on our way. As we came over the top of the hill, Kelsey sped on ahead of us. I waited for Garren to reach the top, then we started to head down the hill. Gravity began pulling us downthe hill, faster and faster. Garren's hair was flying back, his eyes had a look of excitement. I rode beside him watching the speedometer on my bike.

"Garren, we're up to 9 miles per hour."

Kelsey was almost to the bottom of the hill.


Then I looked over and saw Garren begin to wobble. Then in an instant he overcorrected and flipped the bike. He hit his head hard. Then slid to a stop with the bike on top of him. I jumped off my bike and ran over to him.

"O God, let him be ok!"

He was unresponsive. I got the bike off of him and stretched him out. My first aid training from years ago told me to keep his head and neck immobile. I talked to him. "Garren, Garren, can you hear me?"

I looked up to see Kelsey running toward us. "Kelsey, go home right now. Get Mom and tell her to come the the pond immediately!"

"Ok," she said, and started running home.
"Kelsey, ride your bike home, and tell Mom to come to the pond right away."
"Ok," and off she went.

"Do you guys need any help?" the UPS man was coming toward me.

"Yes. We need an ambulance. He's not responding to me."

I continued talking to Garren. After about a minute he started to wake up.

"Garren, it's ok, don't move."

He started raising his arms above his head, and tried to push me away.

"Garren. It's ok, don't move. I've got you."

As he came to I started asking him questions.

"Do you know what happened? Do you know where you are?"


"You were riding your bike, and you you remember riding your bike?"


"Do you know your name?"

"Garren Michael Janes."

"do you know your birthday?"

"February 12, 1997."

"Good, now do you remember what happened?"


I explained what was going on. The medics arrived, then the ambulance.

"Dad, Are you going to go with me?"

"Yes Garren. I'll be with you the whole time."

They strapped him on a backboard, put him on a stretcher, and as they raised the stretcher to roll him away, Garren said "Dad, I've always wanted to do this."

"Do what Garren?"

He lifted his right arm up and gave a thumbs up to everyone. I knew right then that he was going to be fine. As we loaded into the ambulance, he said "Dad, at least I'll remember riding in the ambulance this time."

We got to the hospital, talked to the doctor, and then waited for hours to get a CT Scan and some xrays. While we waited, Garren kept finding more cuts and scrapes. "Cool, that's a good one. Awesome, look at that blood. This is going to make a great story!"

And a great story it is. Garren's xrays all checked out just fine. No broken bones, no side effects. Yes, he was wearing a helmet. By the time we left the hospital he could even remember the moments leading up to the crash.

When we got home, I gave Kelsey a big hug. "Kelsey, I'm so proud of you. You were such big girl, riding home and getting help. Good work!"

She told me her side of the story, and showed me how fast she pedaled to get home.

What a story. And thank you God that it wasn't a disaster.

And Garren still loves his bike.

September 22, 2011

Let's Ride

I wasn't expecting it to get here for another week. When FedEx showed up at the door, part of me wanted to ask him to bring it back next week! I reluctantly signed and accepted the package.

I had made a deal with Garren that if he did 50 sit-ups and 15 push-ups that we would order the recumbent tricycle. He had done 27 sit-ups and 15 push-ups just the night before. I knew he would build up to it. And he was so determined! And now the bike was sitting on my front porch. What to do? Hide it until he does the sit-ups? No way! I brought the package into the living room. "Garren - Look at this!" He turned, looked, and I wish you could've seen his eyes! "Awesome! But...I haven't done 50 sit-ups yet."

I know.

"You will" I said. "Let's go ahead and put it together and try it out!"

So like a couple of kids at Christmas we assembled the bike, and took it out for a spin. Amazing! Garren LOVES it. He rides all over the neighborhood. He's free! All he wants to do now is go outside and ride that bike. And the bonus is this - it's great therapy for him. As I watch him pedal around, all I can think about is 7 months ago as he lay in the hospital bed, wondering if he would even live. And now look! God truly is amazing - and we truly are thankful.

September 19, 2011

Is That the Top?

About a month ago our family traveled to Colorado. While we were there, I spent as much time as I could hiking and climbing mountains. On one morning, Kelsey, our 6 year old, was up early with me, so I talked her into going on a short hike with me. We set off to climb Lily Mountain. It's about 2 miles up, and 2 miles down. And being a mountain, it's uphill all the way.

We packed our water, some snacks for the trail, and drove to the trailhead. We were off. The weather was absolutely beautiful. The sky was clear and the air was crisp. We began our ascent. As we walked, we talked, looked at flowers, and spotted birds and chipmunks along the way. We were having a great time. About 10 minutes into what would be about a 2 hour hike, Kelsey started asking "Is that the top?" I patiently answered, "No Kelsey. You'll know when we are at the top, because we won't be able to go up any higher." I said "Look ahead, see how there are trees and rocks higher than we are? The top is up there somewhere."

So we walked on, and about 3 minutes later I heard "Is that the top?" I again tried to explain to her that we were nowhere near the top, and that it would be better if we didn't keep asking. "Let's just enjoy the hike." But to a 6 year old, I guess enjoying the hike means asking "Is that the top?" every 50 yards. And she did. We walked and talked, and she continued to ask "Is that the top?"

As Kelsey continued to ask the big question, I couldn't help but think about our life over these last 7 months. God has taken us on quite the journey - an unbelievable hike up what sometimes seems to be a mountain with no top. We question God's work in our lives. We press forward, though the journey is tough. We all have troubles, struggles, hard times - whatever you want to call it. Life is not easy. But we must press forward, we must keep taking steps with the hope that eventually we'll reach the top. As Kelsey continued to ask "Is that the top?" I couldn't help but wonder "How many times have I asked God 'Is this the top? Can we head back down now?'" And how many times must God be looking down at me, patiently, lovingly, saying "Geoffrey, you'll know when we get to the top. For now, let's just enjoy this walk together."

Eventually, Kelsey and I did make it to the top of Lily Mountain. It was worth every step. We had a great time that day. I will not soon forget the lesson I learned. Stop asking God if that's the top. No matter how hard it gets, or how impossible life seems, just enjoy being with your Father, right where He has you right now.

September 15, 2011


A lot has been going on. Between school, therapy, and doctor's appointments for Garren, and my work schedule, things have been non-stop. Garren and I are going to school twice a week now. I sit with him in class and take notes. I help him take tests by writing his answers for him. Nancy and I spend time with him at home helping him with his homework.

The other day I found a three wheeled recumbent bicycle that I thought Garren might be able to ride. So I showed him a picture of it on the internet. He got so excited about it, he wouldn't stop talking about it. He kept asking if we could get it. So I told him when he could do 15 push ups and 50 sit-ups, we would buy it. He said "Let's go!" "Right now?" "Yep!"

So I got him on the mat, and he did 20 sit-ups and 10 push-ups! That was a week ago. Yesterday he was up to 15 push-ups and 27 sit-ups. He is so motivated! And the work out is excellent for him! Along with that, he's started traveling to CMC Main in Charlotte to workout on the Lokomat. It's a million dollar machine that is designed to retrain his muscles to walk again. We are seeing continued progress in him. It's awesome!

Tomorrow it's back to school. The school is working right now to hire an assistant to be with Garren at school. That should happen in the next couple of weeks. Once the assistant is hired it looks like Garren will begin going to school 5 days a week. What a huge step!

In the mean time, I guess I better work on my own homework and note-taking skills!

September 10, 2011

Swallow Study

We took Garren on Tuesday to have another swallow study done. This is the test where they xray his throat while he tries to swallow a pudding like substance laced with barium. The speech therapist who has been working with him for that last couple of month wanted to see if anything had changed since the last study.

Last time the study revealed that the epiglotis wasn't working. The epiglotis is what folds down to cover your airway when you swallow. Also, last time, the substance slid to the back of his throat, and sliped right into his airway - no cough, no reaction of any kind.

So this time we weren't really sure what to expect. They got him all set up, put me and Nancy behind the lead wall of safety, and we watched the tv monitor with anticipation. The therapist put the pudding his mouth, and Garren started to swallow. He was able to control it, and push it to the back of his throat. He tried several times, you could see him pushing. But eventually it spilled over into his airway.

There are a series of sphincters that lead from the back of the mouth to the esophagus. When food hits this area, these sphincters work to push the food downward, into the esophagus, and then into the stomach. These sphincters didn't move at all.

The good news is, there was more control and more movement in Garren's mouth as he tried to push the pudding down. What we are seeing is the result of the injury to his brain. It's a neurological issue, and it still has time to heal. We will continue to work with therapy. One of his doctors said "This is not the timet o back off." We are in a crucial phase, and we have to throw everything we can at this. So we will.

His speech therapist has been great. She did some research and has found a couple of programs that we are looking into.

Thanks for continuing to pray. Pray that Garren's connection between his brain and his throat continues to heal. Pray that the connection will rebuild, that his swallow will heal.

September 05, 2011

"It's School!"

We made it through the first day of school. It wasn't so bad. In fact, everything went really well. We met the assistant principal in the main office and she took us to Garren's first class - Earth Science. The teacher was great. He was teaching about conversions (cm to mm, and stuff like that). We had a worksheet to practice, which I helped Garren with (he did the work, I just wrote his answers). Then he gave a practice quiz.

The next class was English. Vocab, grammer, The Odyssey - fun! Well, Garren didn't think so, but what are you gonna do? Next was Principles of Business. Garren got a laptop, and the assignment was to read a news related article, and write about it. He went straight to a sports story about college football. After lunch, we went to PE. We observed for about 30 minutes, then headed home.

Everyone was so helpful. The faculty and staff are really doing a great job at helping Garren get back into the swing of things. I asked Garren how he felt about being at school. He said "It's school, I'm not going to like it either way." That's Garren. He hasn't changed a bit!

Garren's going to do great. It's going to be a bit more work for us (nothing new there), helping him with homework and classwork, but I am really looking forward to seeing him get back into the classroom. The school is in the process of interviewing and hiring an assistant to help Garren throughout the day.

Thanks for your continued prayers as we enter yet another phase of recovery.