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!
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.