Life is Sweeter with Friends

One Friend

The world would be a dark and lonely place without friends and we can learn so much from others. Lynne and Craig Zabriskie are an example of strangers reaching out to me, which had a positive impact on my life. Even though they had their own struggles with rehab and recovery, they took time to befiend me. Their experience gave them the ability to truly empathize with what I was going through. I learned from them that your own burdens are lightened when you reach out to help another. Their example has encouraged me to do the same for others.

I realize when I’m focused on my own problems it’s easy to feel abandoned by people. As my thoughts and energy are focus inward on what I need and not on what others may need, I feel alone. Those are unhappy days and days I need to remember that to have a good friend, I need to be a good friend.

Spreading the love to those around you can make a difference in someone’s life today and every day. You don’t need an excuse or a special day to show someone you care. If one friend can change your whole life, how many lives can you change by being a friend?

Think of friendship in terms of sugar. The body has a natural need for sugar, but as we eat balanced meals this need can be met. Fruits, vegetables and other foods naturally produce the sugar that our bodies require. If we’re eating a mixture of healthy foods, we don’t need to add more sugar to our diet. Likewise, we shouldn’t depend on just one person to meet all of our needs. If we depend on one, we are doomed for disappointment and miss out on other great friendships. A variety of friends will make life sweeter. When we are engaged in healthy relationships such as family, friends, community, and others—then we will naturally receive love from a diversity of sources. Of course, it is difficult to have totally healthy relationships with everyone all of the time, which is why it’s important to have an assortment of relationships. Just like it isn’t healthy to eat only one type of food, it isn’t healthy to rely on one person to fulfill all your needs—especially if that one person is you.

In order to feel love, acceptance and understanding, you must be able to give the same to someone else. To have a friend, you must be one and one can change your whole life.

He Lives!

Beautiful PathwayThe spring season is the transition from winter into summer. It’s a time of growth and renewal of life; when plants and trees which have been dormant for a season regain life and begin to bud into a lush, green, beautiful plant. The timing is perfect for the event of our Savior’s resurrection. Springtime is usually my favorite, however in 1991, it was a lost season because Mark literally slept through it in a coma after our horrific car accident.

I was grateful Mark appeared to be in a safe and sheltered place, unaware of the hospital surroundings, while I struggled to hold myself together. Helpless to make Mark better, I sat next to his bedside in the Intensive Care Unit at MacKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah. My right arm was in a sling and I wore a brace for my broken collarbone, but I hardly noticed the pain—it was nothing compared to my broken heart and worry. Mark, lying perfectly still and quiet, was unaware of the loud noises from the monitors, or the shunt inserted at the top of his head draining excessive fluid from his brain. A feeding tube entered his nose and ran down the back of his throat into his stomach, which would later be surgically placed directly in his stomach. Other tubes were placed to empty his bladder and bowels. The hardest tube for me to observe was the one located in an opening in his neck through his trachea to provide an airway and to keep his lungs clear of fluid. The vacuum sound while the secretions were sucked out through his tracheotomy made me cringe every time, but Mark laid peacefully in a coma, unaware of any of the tubes that kept him alive.

Mark was comatose for three months and most of the time I felt like it was a blessing because he had so many health issues to overcome. Besides his Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), he had broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and infection in his liver. For circulation and to prevent blood clots, Mark laid securely strapped on a bed unlike any I’d ever seen. This bed tilted to the right side and gradually moved to the left, taking three minutes for each continuous rotation. Most of the time, Mark seemed oblivious to the fact that I was there or of any other visitors that came. It was nearly impossible for me to focus on T.V. or a book, so generally I sat by his bedside in prayer, hoping to see some improvement while watching the monitors. Time passed slowly; all I could do was watch, pray and ponder. I thought about how we met and our dates, our wedding day, our home, and the birth of our two children. I thought about our times with special friends, family members, and vacations. I relived all the fun and important events as the video recorder in my head played back the past fourteen years we’d known each other.

We lived in Sandy, Utah, which is sixty miles from Ogden. I couldn’t leave Mark alone to go home, it was too far. I imagined he’d wake up and wonder where he was and what was happening.  After a couple of long weeks with no sign of improvement, my family came up with a plan. My brothers, Mick, Don, Steve and brother-in-law Klint, each picked a night which worked best for them, drove to the hospital after work and stayed with Mark until the next morning. A Ronald McDonald House close by was available where they could rest and shower before going to work the next morning. This allowed me to go home on the weeknights to be with our two children, Christopher and Katie.

During the long three months Mark was comatose I wondered, where is he? I could see his body, but often his spirit felt absent. Peace radiated from him and there was a glimpse of heaven I felt in his presence. What will he be able to tell me when he’s conscious? I was certain it would be something special. I longed to hear his voice. There were some days when I felt his company for a short time and on a few better days our spirits were able to communicate through thoughts. I would talk to him and hear his reply in my mind or feel his comfort. It was an impressive, angelic form of communication and I cherished those moments, but I had no control over when or how it would happen. It was an unforgettable experience.

Often, I wondered if Mark was uncertain in which place he belonged or if he wanted to be in heaven, but felt obligated to stay. After six weeks I was exhausted and worried he might be hanging on to life for me and the kids, so I told him it was all right, we’d be okay without him. I didn’t know how I would manage, but felt if it was his time to go I would and could accept it. It was difficult to communicate this heartfelt message, but I didn’t want him trapped here only because I couldn’t let him go. It was a turning point for both of us and I believe Mark lives because he chose to. It would have been easier for him to give up the fight, but I’m so glad that wasn’t his choice. A few days after this experience there was a slight improvement in Mark’s infection, so I arranged for an ambulance to take him from MacKay Dee Hospital to Western Rehab which was located in Sandy, Utah and close to our home.

Mark’s ability to regain consciousness was a slow and gradual process which took several more weeks. At first he would occasionally answer yes or no questions by blinking his eyes once for no and twice for yes. We tested him often with obvious questions. As he improved he would whisper a word or two. One day I showed Mark a picture of Christ and asked him if he’d seen Him. He quietly said, “Yes.” Months later when he could talk in sentences he told of his experience, which he has written down.

“Just before waking from my coma, I thought I was walking the length of a long white hallway. Standing at the far end of the hall was another man about my same height. I say this because neither of us had to look noticeably up or down to look directly into the other’s eyes. He had a full head of pure white hair longer than shoulder length, and a pure white beard that was chest length. I presumed that man to be Jesus Christ. Thinking I had died and would be in His proximity for eternity, I walked up to within a few feet of Him and stopped. I asked for the location of Heavenly Father. He then pointed up and over His shoulder with His thumb toward the door behind Him and said, ‘In the next room.’ I reached around Him and opened the door. Before seeing anything in the next room, I awakened from my coma. I wish I’d known then how short that meeting would be; I would’ve liked to have spent more time with Him.”

As Mark related this experience to me, I knew it was true. During his months of unconsciousness, I knew he was in a special place feeling peace and contentment. I believe there’s more to his experience than he remembers and appreciate the comfort this memory brings to him. It brings comfort to me also; not only does it reassure me that Christ is real and knows each one of us, but I believe that the doors were Mark’s choice and the door he chose brought him back to me. He loves to relate this experience to whoever will listen. Remarkably he tells it using the same words. Since his TBI, Mark has short term memory loss, meaning he can’t remember who he’s told or the words he used. Nevertheless, he uses nearly the same words each time. This confirms to me that Mark’s experience was real and he was given the memory of it and the words to share it, not only to bring comfort to himself, but to touch the lives of others.

By this experience and others, we know Christ lives! He is resurrected. We will return to His presence, where joy, peace and comfort will be found. We were blessed to survive the shocking car accident and we were blessed again by this marvelous experience. We share it along with a beautiful rendition of our favorite hymn in celebration of His resurrection. Happy Easter!

<p><a href=”″>I Know That My Redeemer Lives</a> from <a href=”″>INTO THE LIGHT Journal</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Siblings by Chance, Friends by Choice

Siblings & I

Back row: Rosanne, Don , Mick                           Front row: Steve and I

Everything I learned about being a friend I learned from my younger brother, Steve. He’s my first and dearest friend. We’re only twenty-two months apart, so honestly, I don’t remember life without him. I can’t imagine we’d be closer if we were twins; we even finish one another’s sentences.

As young children we shared a bedroom. I don’t remember detesting naptime or bedtime because as soon as the bedroom door closed, it became a magical place. The challenge was to stay quiet enough, so Mom or Dad wouldn’t hear us. We’d climb on top of the dresser that separated our twin beds and drive all over the city making our milk or mail deliveries in our pretend vehicle to all our pretend neighbors and friends. Eventually we would hear footsteps walking towards our bedroom. We could drop into bed with the covers pulled up and act asleep faster than lightning. I don’t remember ever getting caught, but we must have because there came a day when Mom said we needed separate rooms. So Steve was moved downstairs and paired up with our brother Don. The bedtime amusement ended until a third bedroom, bath and family room were completed in the basement. At age nine, I anxiously moved downstairs with my three brothers and my upstairs bedroom was remodeled to be our dining room.

Mick and Don are seven and four years older than I, so when my bedroom was downstairs they were usually off doing whatever teenagers do, leaving the annoying youngest two siblings to entertain one another. When our parents, older siblings or sometimes both were watching T.V. after our bedtime, I would see Steve poking his head out of the bedroom doorway watching the show. Making silly faces we would try to get the other to laugh and when we did we would quickly dart back to bed before we were caught. When the threat was gone, we’d meet again in our separate doorways for a repeat. It’s great being the youngest kids in the family because our first three siblings either broke Mom and Dad in or worn them out which enabled us to get away with a lot more monkey business.

I still feel guilty about the time I let Steve take the blame for picking at a cake Mom made for a party. She thought the finger dips in the icing ruined it and was very upset. I didn’t dare say a word as she scolded Steve for messing up her beautiful dessert. But later I tried to redeem myself as a “good sister and friend” by standing up for Steve when two boys my age were bullying him on our walk home from school. They were mean, but I think I scared them off or maybe it was the talk I had with their moms. I don’t know for sure what took care of them, but I like to think it was my doing.

I was always proud to see Steve in the halls at school. He had many friends and especially the girls were crazy about him, being the handsome, kind and thoughtful teenager that he was. He was also a good dancer and was kept busy on the dance floor, but he always managed to save a dance with me at the stomps.

ISteve and I 1978n high school we were the only two kids left at home and we had the basement all to ourselves. Late at night we enjoyed talking about the daily events which always brought some laughter and our parents stomping on their upstairs bedroom floor and a shout down the heater vent: “Be quiet! It’s late!” So we’d quiet down for a while but before we realized our voices were getting too loud again, we’d hear another stomp and yell down the heater vent. “Go to bed!”

During my single apartment life, along with community college and work, I enjoyed having Steve over for dinner and a visit to catch up on life’s happenings. When I married Mark, Steve became the brother Mark never had. When Christopher and Katie joined our family, Steve was one of the first to come to the hospital and welcome them into our family. He has loved and supported them in all their activities throughout their lives.

Steve and I also have a working relationship. After high school graduation Steve and his friend Rick started a property management business. As the business grew, he asked me to help with the accounting part-time, but with the success of the company it soon became a full-time job for me. It’s been rewarding and pleasurable for nearly thirty years as I witness his generous, thoughtful and caring ways applied in the business world. He makes time for whoever needs him. He appears calm, cool and collected under stressful times. He’s tolerant, personable and genuinely interested in every person he meets.

Steve & I with carIn 1996 Steve gave me a small package and card which I will never forget. I wept as I read the words of appreciation for the past ten years of service with Earthwork Property. I opened the gift with excitement thinking it must be some special memento, but inside was shredded paper with a key and note attached saying, “Hope this will make all your errands more enjoyable.” I was stunned to say the least and asked him what this was to. He said, “Let’s go take a look”. Unprepared for the situation, I didn’t know what I should think or feel as I followed him out to the driveway. Parked there was a beautiful new 1997 Grand Prix Pontiac. I had been driving an old 1979 Chevy since our car accident in 1991 which total our Hyundai. Never did I dream I’d have a brand new car and this one was the prettiest one on the road.

Steve has perfect communication skills. He has a way of sharing insights, opinions and advice without being pushy or offensive. He listens as if he has all the time in the world. He is compassionate and always willing to do whatever is needed. He has been there to help and support in many of my home and yard projects. We’ve spent late nights painting a basement or a room and once even the whole house! He helps me with little projects too like hanging curtains, pictures or even just cleaning the house.

Fifty-three years of good memories, lots of laughter and tears! From my childhood to present, Steve has been a great playmate, helpmate and boss. I think he knows me better than anyone else and still loves me. I’ll forever be grateful for the example and influence he’s had on my life and for the wonderful friend that he is.

Happy Birthday, Steve! I love and appreciate you!

No Foolin’, You’re a Caregiver

What you do and say mattersYou may not be a caregiver all day long, but if you care and you give, you are a caregiver. If you drive someone to an appointment, prepare a meal, watch children, or go shopping for someone else, you are a caregiver. You may think you’re just doing what anyone else would do—but anyone who helps is a caregiver. Some caregivers provide full-time care. Others just listen. Whatever you do and say matters!

I’m a full-time caregiver and I’ve been asked, “Who takes care of you?” Well, I’ll tell you…

Mark is my caregiver. He may not be able to make a meal or do the physical chores of housekeeping or yard work, but he does care about me and gives me support by waiting patiently for me to complete a task before taking care of his needs. He also lifts my spirits with humor, companionship and good times. Being with him is a pleasure. I love his wit and sense of humor. He also gives care through letters, expressing love and appreciation. These letters mean more to me than if he were able to give me flowers.

My parents are my caregivers and have been my whole life. Even though they are well into their eighties, they give me and many others lots of care through meals, visits and sincere interest in what is going on in my life along with any help or assistance I may need.

My siblings are my caregivers and they too have been my whole life. They are all busy with their own lives and children, but they make time to check up on us. If I ever need anything I always know I can call on any one of them. It’s wonderful to feel the love and support of family!

My children are my caregivers. When they were small it was wonderful to feel their love and admiration. They were sure I could fix anything and no one was stronger. As they grew, experience taught them differently, but their love kept me going. They are my strength and what motivates me to do and be better. Their care is different now they are busy adults and no longer dependent on me, but I still feel their care and love and it means a whole lot to me.

My neighbors and friends are my caregivers. They give with listening ears and a caring heart. They give understanding, support and friendship. They are observant for what they can do to help without me asking for it. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by people who are anxious to help. Many times in the winter my snow is shoveled off my walks and I have no idea who did it.

My church provides caregiving. Not only do I find comfort and solace in my church activities, but my association with people there has led to friendships and an organized volunteer program where two people come twice a week to help Mark with his exercises.

So I just have to say, I’m one lucky caregiver. I’m supported by a lot of other caregivers who probably don’t think of themselves as caregivers. But I know they are and I know I couldn’t do this job without them.

If you’ve ever done any act of service, you are a caregiver and you know along with the work there is joy in doing something for someone else. No foolin’, you’re a caregiver!

I hope you’re having a fun April Fools’ Day.

Cindy’s Story of Faith and Hope

Written by, Glenn Oliver

Cindy was diagnosed with lupus in 1983 at the age of sixteen. She had many flare-ups during her high school years, which meant she spent a lot of time in the hospital recovering. At age twenty she met me (Glenn) and eleven months later we were married. I knew of Cindy’s medical condition before we were married and knew I could handle it. My mother had severe MS (multiple sclerosis) while I was growing up. My siblings and I did most of the cooking and cleaning, so I grew up quickly and understood about health problems.

Six months after marriage Cindy had a grand mal seizure and the lupus had shut down her kidneys. She was on dialysis for eight months.The kidney doctors were very negative about the kidneys ever working again on their own. Our faith helped us feel positive and Cindy’s rheumatologist, Dr. Daniel Clegg, told us when the lupus shuts down the kidneys many times the kidneys will start functioning again. We felt strongly this would happen. After seven long months we saw signs through Cindy’s improved blood work that the kidneys were returning, but the kidney doctors told us this meant nothing. They told us to get used to dialysis because she was going to be on it for a long time. About a month later Cindy was off dialysis. Even then the doctors warned she’d be right back on it. We understood they didn’t see this happen too often so it was hard for them to realize Cindy was an exception to the rule.  We knew she was coming off dialysis for good.

Oliver FamilyWe also learned that when the lupus shuts down the kidneys the lupus goes dormant. During this time we talked about having children. Because pregnancy would be hard on Cindy’s kidneys and they would have a good chance of failing again, we decided to adopt. We have been blessed with three beautiful children. Zach is seventeen, Kade is fifteen and Olivia is nine years old now.

After sixteen years of the kidneys working at partial function, the doctors determined Cindy needed a kidney transplant.The blood work indicated the kidney function was deteriorating and the medicine to help the kidney function may hurt her health. Cindy’s brother Troy volunteered to donate his kidney and was a match. April 25, 2006, Cindy had the transplant and the operation was a success. Both Cindy’s and Troy’s kidneys are doing great after eight years. We are so grateful for Troy’s willingness to give his kidney to Cindy.

On September 3, 2006, about four months after the kidney transplant, Cindy became very ill. She was having headaches for a few days and started to be confused so we took her to Emergency. The doctors thought that Cindy had Meningitis, but the test came back negative. They tested for West Nile Virus and it came back negative. She couldn’t recognize certain things, so they admitted her into the hospital. She had a fever they couldn’t reduce. Cindy had another seizure and went into a coma. They began giving Cindy antibiotics first, but since she wasn’t improving they gave her high doses of steroids. The doctors weren’t sure she was going to make it. After a priesthood blessing by Cindy’s Bishop, she took a turn for the better.

Cindy woke up from her coma after a week of steroids. She communicated with her eyebrows. She could lift them when we asked her yes and no questions. A month later they tested her again for West Nile Virus, and this time it came back positive. The doctors realized the immune suppressant drugs prescribed for her kidney were masking the prior test result, a learning experience for the doctors.

During the time Cindy was in ICU, I was still trying to work. It became very difficult so I decided to take a leave of absence for a few months while we determined what was going to happen to Cindy. Her family and I were constantly with her at the hospital. We also had 3 children at home that needed care. Olivia was only 1 ½ years old. The family split up the time and made sure everything and everyone was taken care of. We made a schedule of who was at the hospital and who was taking care of the children. Cindy’s sister, Michelle, helped a lot, as well as my sister, Colleen, and several friends helped as well. We truly appreciated our family during this time of need.

We thought at the beginning Cindy would take only a few weeks to get better. But when she woke up from the coma and the tubes were finally taken out, we realized she couldn’t speak or walk.  The West Nile Virus went to her brain and affected all of her motor skills.  She had to relearn to speak, walk, write and eat. Cindy was in the University of Utah Hospital for two months and went to Physical Therapy Rehab there for another few weeks. She couldn’t do the rehab they wanted because she was too weak. She was then transferred to South Davis Community Hospital, where she got strong enough to begin her therapy. Cindy met Louise Jarvis, her PT (physical therapist), who was a life saver. She also had Jen Bangs for OT (occupational therapy) and they became good friends. Jen moved out of state, but they still stay in touch through Facebook.

Cindy was at South Davis Community Hospital for six weeks making her total hospital stay over four months. She continued her therapy as an outpatient until Louise retired, and now Louise comes to our home to help Cindy. We feel very blessed to have wonderful therapist who have helped Cindy progress.

When Cindy came home from the hospital she was in a wheelchair, couldn’t walk or talk well and we helped her with her meals. We noticed friends that were not used to medical problems stayed away. This was hard on Cindy because she lost a few of her good friends.

Louise is still working with Cindy to this day, after eight years of therapy. Cindy’s speech, writing, eating and all the things you do daily have slowly come back. She went from a wheelchair to a walker and then to a cane. Now she can walk without a cane around the house, but has a problem with her balance. She uses the walls and railing to steady herself. She does fall once in a while, but she gets up and brushes it off.  When we go out she holds on to me. She is amazing. Even the doctors are impressed with her abilities. The kidney has been working great through all of this and we feel the transplant saved her life.

This has been a life changing experience for both of us. I quit my job and work at home so that I can be with Cindy and the children now. Cindy cannot drive and needs help with things that have to do with balance—like trying to carry things as she walks. She still has hope she will walk one day completely on her own. She can do most everything else.

I love Cindy so much. I would never leave her. My father stayed with my mother when she was ill. He was a great example of sticking through hard times. I have seen men leave their spouses because of their health problems. I know that some men could not handle everything we have gone through which is sad. Those men missed out on something that needs to be learned in life. It’s not all about yourself—it’s about serving others. Cindy has gone through a lot in her lifetime. She is strong even though sometimes she feels she is not. She is a fighter and that is why she has done so well with all that has happened to her. I feel blessed I am healthy enough to be a helpmate for Cindy in all we need to do as a family. Life is good now.

Thank you Glenn for sharing your story. What a great example you are to me! I appreciate how positive and strong you and Cindy are.

Strength in Numbers

Being StrongThe Winter Olympic Games are upon us and it is evident there are countless hours in many years of training for the athletes to compete. The hosting city and country plan and prepare four years and it’s a proud time for them as they show off their beauty and hospitality to the world. It’s sensational to watch it all unfold. Various athletes from all over the world coming together in Sochi to do their very best, showing their strengths and abilities.

It’s obvious there are many people behind the athletes as they prepare for the games. Besides family and friends that encourage and help them, there are coaches, technique specialists, apparel consultants, etc. All have the same goal and vision for the athlete to succeed. They’re amazing to watch and usually you’re only seeing one person competing, but in reality there’s a team of people standing behind the one athlete you’re watching. All making their success possible.

We all need others to succeed in our endeavors. No one makes it alone. It’s wonderful to have family and friends help and encourage us. They hear and see us with their hearts. It’s also beneficial to build relationships with others who share your goals, stress and struggles. They hear and see us with their experience. A meaningful and comforting way to boost one another. This is my goal with Uniting Caregivers. Together we can learn and improve our abilities. Sharing our stories and how we cope encourages and gives us strength.

Support groups are formed for most anything you are dealing with; addiction, brain injury, cancer, divorce, epilepsy, mental health, stroke and the list goes on. Mark and I have benefited from the Brain Injury Support Groups and the Epilepsy Support Group. We have learned much and it’s comforting to be with people who know and share our experience.

Tomorrow night a friend and caregiver of a brain injury survivor, Laura Nordfelt, is starting a new Caregiver Support Group in Murray, Utah. The meeting is in conjunction with the Brain Injury and Stroke Survivor Meeting from 7-8 pm. It will be held at the Intermountain Medical Center, 5121 South Cottonwood Street, Building 6, Classroom 8.  The caregivers and survivors will meet first together and then split into two separate groups. The facilitator, Lynn Anderson, who has a MS in Social Work will meet with the caregiver’s group.

Support groups are a wonderful way to share and improve your experience. I encourage all to Goggle “support groups” in your area to find the help and support you might need. There is strength in numbers!

Elijah’s Story

Written by, Silvia Caswell

Elijah's Family

My husband, Elijah, had a slip and fall on icy steps while working outside the week before Thanksgiving, 2013. He hit his head on the stairs and we think he was unconscious for about 10 minutes.

When he came to, he was completely disoriented and his speech was slurred. No one actually saw Elijah fall because he was outside by himself. He was able to call a co-worker who found a work colleague who lives in the area to come and pick him up. He didn’t know where he was so he looked on his iPad for the location. He then could tell the work colleague where to find him. He didn’t remember what car he drove or where he had parked. He was immediately taken to the Emergency Room to be evaluated. He had a severe headache and the CT scan showed no bleeding. He was released from the hospital with a simple concussion and we were told that he would be better in less than three weeks.

Elijah is 28 years old, so he’s in pretty good health otherwise. At home, my kids and I began noticing that he had some issues with confusion, short term memory recall, inability to read out loud, and his balance was severely off. His headache was unbearable and we returned to a bigger trauma center ER to have his pain managed because it was out of control. Again they checked him with a CT scan, but no bleeding. We were sent home and referred to a concussion specialist at the same hospital.

After two hours of neurological testing, the concussion specialist put Elijah in the “severe concussion” category. Again they believed that he would get better soon and that we would be back to normal quickly.

A few weeks after the accident, and with each visit to the doctor, we began finding more problems. Memory recall was pretty poor, disoriented to time and place, headaches out of control, and he began falling. Our doctor then decided it was best to keep him supervised at all times because he had driven to a nearby fast food restaurant and left the children at home by themselves (ages 5 and 3), and had no recollection of ever getting there, ordering, and driving home. Now I hide his wallet and car keys so it won’t happen again!

Long story short… we’re two months out and he has fallen down our stairs at home three times. The last time, a few weeks ago, left him unconscious. The doctor believes he re-concussed himself. Also, he developed right side weakness, and his symptoms continued to be severe. So far he is seeing a neuro-psychologist, two neurologists, one cervical physical therapist (to help with the limited mobility he developed from being in so much pain constantly), and a balance physical therapist. He was then moved out of the concussion spectrum and into the “mild to moderate traumatic brain injury” category.

All family members have been highly concerned about Elijah and it has pretty much turned my world upside down. We have 3-5 medical appointments every week. I had to quit my job at the hospital (ironically enough I worked in Shock Trauma ICU, where we get these types of patients constantly), to be able to stay home with him. We have three kids (ages 5, 3, and 11 months), and they know that sometimes daddy’s brain plays tricks on him (that’s how we deal with his confusion), and that he needs lots of rest in a dark, quiet environment so his brain can get a chance to get better.

We have friends and family that help us tremendously by watching our kids when we need to go to our appointments. It has been a huge blessing. It is overwhelming to go to the hospital that many times per week and sometimes I wonder if I have the strength to keep up with everything. I am a huge exercise fanatic and exercise 5-6 days/week, as well as eat healthy. Most of the time I get up very early to do it because I need the energy to keep up with our small kids, tending to my husband and taking him to various places (obviously, he cannot drive).

I am currently attending college and am preparing for taking the MCAT this summer and applying to medical school later in the summer. It’s definitely thrown everything off track, but I have learned to be disciplined and schedule everything in, even workouts. I feel that if I do something to help myself be a better person every day, then I can take care of everyone else in a better way. I have had a past history with severe depression so I always need to keep myself in check.

Elijah & boys

The results from Elijah’s last trip to the  neurologist where further neurological testing was done, show we are looking at another 3-6 month recovery. His physical exam did not correlate with his MRI, so we have an MRI/MRA scheduled in a couple of weeks. He will go under general anesthesia for the procedure because he does not tolerate the MRI machine noise at all (we found out the hard way). The doctor thinks he may have a microscopic bleeding that was not caught in the CT scan or a regular MRI.

I appreciate your blog and I am grateful for finding other caregivers who are going through a similar situation. Thank you!!!


Thank you Silvia for writing Elijah’s story. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

The Miracle of Volunteers: part 2, Draper, UT.

Five years had passed since the car accident, and by then we realized that Mark’s mobility was dependent on the daily practice of movement. With no more therapy benefits allowed by the insurance company and a move from our Sandy home to Draper, UT, all of Mark’s exercises were now dependent on my help. Our two children, Christopher, then 13 years old, and Katie, twelve years old, helped a lot with the house and yard chores, but I wanted to protect them from the caregiving of their dad.

With our queen-size bed substituting as a mat, we had a stretching routine where I assisted Mark with range of motion exercises every morning. I didn’t have the knowledge of what else I could do for Mark at home. Over time, I became concerned that Mark was losing some of the abilities he had worked so hard to gain.

I didn’t share my concerns with many, but one day I mentioned it to Holly Dudley, during a visit. Unbeknownst to me at the time, her husband, John Dudley, was a chiropractor, and Holly shared my concerns with him. While living in Canada, John, with other members from our church, had helped a man with disabilities do exercises. He felt certain that he could implement a similar program for Mark.

John came over, and together we got Mark down on the carpeted floor in the main living room. He showed me some of the exercises they did and we discussed several other exercises he thought would be helpful for Mark.

“Would you mind if I put together an exercise program and talk to the bishop about getting some volunteers to assist you with the exercises?” John asked.

To be honest, I felt embarrassed and ashamed to need help. I wanted to say “Yes, I’d mind!”  But I didn’t, because I knew how important it was for Mark to get the exercise. I swallowed my pride and humbly thanked him for his help.

With John’s chiropractic education and experience, he came up with an amazing exercise program that could be done on the floor. He  organized a schedule he passed around at church for people to sign up to help. He also held a few training sessions with the volunteers and gave us written instructions with diagrams he’d drawn for the exercises. Our new program was put in place just nine months after we moved to Draper. It was a miracle to us that so many volunteers were willing to come and help us—especially when many of them didn’t know us.

It was much harder to accept help from our new neighbors because we didn’t know most of them. I was afraid they would think I was a needy person or taking advantage of their time. It’s a conflicting position to need help while not wanting to need help.

Since our car accident, we have been blessed by more than fifty volunteers. My heart if so full of appreciation it fills like it will burst as I think of each one that has given their time to help Mark. Many have come and gone—but their service will never be forgotten.

There are four couples who have been steadfast in their dedication, and have faithfully come every month for ten to seventeen years. Needless to say, these couples are no longer neighbors and friends: they are family!

We have also been blessed in many ways by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One way, is its assistance in the organization of the exercise program for all these years. We are grateful for a loving Heavenly Father, who has comforted and guided us to guardian angels in the form of volunteers. Their time and effort, love and support, has not only lightened our load, but lifted our spirits. They’ve made it possible for Mark to gain greater control of his body, and their conversation with him has improved his speech. We are forever grateful to each one of them!

Jim & Michelle Bonner

Jim & Michelle Bonner   Who have come for 11 years.


Ellen & Mckay Douglas- The bishop who originally helped organize this program 17 years ago.

Bergenthal Family

Paula and Dan Bergenthal, with their kids, David and Jared. They’ve helped Mark for 14 years. Jared was just a baby then.

Carol and Carl Wengel From the original group. They've helped Mark for 17 years.

Carol and Carl Wengel
From the original group.
They’ve helped Mark for 17 years.

Quinn Woolley and Mike Pitts

Quinn Woolley and Mike Pitts

Missing Pictures:

Steve Reidy and David Carr.


Wayne Burton and Jake Dotson.

I hope to get their pictures and add soon.

******************************     Every Monday and Wednesday night we have someone here to help Mark with exercises. This totals, three couples, one family, plus four men who usually bring a young man with them. Each pair comes once a month.

Tuesday Tips will describe the exercises Mark does with their assistance.

Ron Osborne

Ron Osborne

Slow and Steady

Everything I do, I try to do it quickly. Sometimes, I don’t even take time to think about what I’m doing —I’m too focused on just getting it done. Every task takes longer than I think it should. I’m not a good judge of time, and I frequently try to cram too much into the time I have. Consequently, I’m often late, resulting in a constant state of guilt and pressure.

During the summer and fall months, I enjoy bike rides with a great neighbor and friend, Michelle Bonner, who is several years younger than I, and in perfect shape. I’m sure I have to work twice as hard as she does just to keep up. On rare occasions when I’m in the lead, we end up in crazy places. Last year I accidentally lead us onto a golf course. Michelle reluctantly followed, hollering, “I think we‘re on a golf course.”

I looked around and thought, maybe she’s right, but it’s early in the morning, with no golfers in sight.

As you might guess, I have never golfed or been on a golf course—all I saw was acres of beauty with a paved trail. I was impressed and wanted to see more! Besides golfing seems like such a laid-back activity, and I mistakenly thought, no golfer would be out this early, and kept peddling forward as fast as I could.

It was the perfect bike ride until we were stopped and escorted out by “Security” in a golf cart.  Boy, did I feel foolish, and really appreciated my true friend sticking by me throughout this comical adventure.

Often when we’re peddling our hearts out, going up hills, Michelle says, “Slow and steady wins the race.” I guess I looked surprised the first time she said it because, she quickly referenced her comment to the Tortoise and the Hare story. My first thought was, if I’m one and she’s the other, I must be slow because I know she’s steady. She actually takes time to read signs and stays oriented to where we are. I’m too busy peddling as fast and hard as I can. I would literally be lost without her, only to be found in those “no trespassing” zones.

Michelle & I Bridge

Often I feel like the mouse in a maze, frantically darting about, trying to get to the chunk of cheese. Rushing to and fro only to hit a wall, spin around and try a different path. Hoping, eventually, I’ll find the way. The words, “slow and steady wins the race” come to mind. I don’t want to be slow—but I do want to be steady. I’m learning in order to be steady, I need to slow down enough to plan and think about what I’m doing so I can win the race. It’s important to use my brain and not just my feet to steer my direction.

My motto for 2014 is “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Feeling Gratitude

Feeling Gratitude - Dec.So grateful for our daughter Katie, who takes her dad shopping every year for my Christmas, Mother’s Day and birthday gifts. She has done this faithfully ever since she’s had her drivers license — and since she’s been married, her husband, Eldin joins her. When Katie was a little girl, Mark took her shopping for my gifts. We didn’t realize she would be continuing the tradition, when at age sixteen she started taking Mark shopping for my gifts. What a sweet and thoughtful daughter we have. We are so grateful for Katie and Eldin!

It has snowed all day today. So blessed to have wonderful neighbors who shoveled my walks and driveway. I am so fortunate to live on this street. I love my neighbors!