The drive down to Texas, besides being long, gave me time to reflect. Derek slept on and off, and I had time to think.
I thought about the normal things any mother would think of. Our children we were leaving, and how hard that was every time we had to leave for hospitals.
Then there was the wonderful people that were all praying and supporting us on this next journey of helping Derek recover.
I knew this was a huge risk, taking Derek so far away and not knowing really what to expect.
The choice I had to make was either JUMP and act on this or have no plan. The risk, well, a lot of money out the door. The reality was this was out of our insurance network. I was fully aware of the nightmare waiting for me back home when I returned. The appeals I would have to fill out. The paper work. The very thought made me nauseous. The battle to fight insurance companies to pay for all this….. when I already knew the outcome- they would refuse to pay for any of it.
Yet, going back to my roots of faith, I knew that the harsh reality of this life here on earth is simply this:
Life isn’t going to be fair. That’s the whole point. Life is going to be hard.
That’s why faith is so important. There will be things we will never understand. Things that will always seem wrong or unfair. But if you cling to your faith, God will bless the worst situations, in this life or the next.
However, the flip side was, what IF this worked? What IF this helped him? Even a little? If we never jumped, we would never know. To let money stop me seemed ….shallow…faithless….untrusting….hopeless.
Here’s the REAL truth! God is Derek’s greatest physician. HE IS the one that will ultimately heal Derek. Why I was connected to this place, I cannot fully explain. I could only pray that God was leading us where he wanted us to follow and I was a ‘stupid sheep’ in flock simply following the shepherd to safety.
To KNOW about this facility now and NOT take a chance, would be a regret I wasn’t willing to live with.
The rest of the drive that night, I reflected on my writing the past year, the books I have started of my life’s journey.
Writing this past year, was for me, like running a marathon every day. Painful. Exhausting. Beautiful. Joyful. Pretty much every emotion wrapped up in one package. As I looked over at my sleeping husband, I knew that his story, could possibly help others.
Derek didn’t ask for any of this. This trauma from a surgery gone wrong happened. It REALLY happened.
Many people, around the world since I have been blogging have said to me, “You are so talented in writing. You are so inspiring, you are such a strong couple.”
As nice as those words are………..let me tell you the blunt truth.
Derek and I are the weakest people I know.
The truth is…. We cry …. A lot. We get angry, sad, doubt and have frustrations beyond some people’s comprehension.
However, we simply learned long ago…. When we are weak…. HE IS STRONG.
God is carrying us….. He has BEEN carrying us…. HE will continue to carry us.
That’s how we are getting through.
He can carry you too…. If you let go of the “But Disease” in your life and surrender to Him, you too will be scooped up in God’s arms.
Plain and simple… stop trying to ‘FIX YOUR LIFE’.
I have also come to an understanding that so much of my life, I didn’t choose. Derek most certainly didn’t choose this trauma. God has simply chosen us to be in this situation, for some great purpose. Something far greater than I can ever imagine.
The rest of the drive, I pictured in my mind, that Derek and I were going on an amazing vacation. Honestly we were. The thought of getting Derek help, was the best vacation ever to me. Our conversation the rest of the way, was of all the adventures that await us for our future together.
Sunday night, late, we rolled into Dallas, Texas.
I didn’t sleep much that night. Too anxious for what was around the corner. Derek has been struggling with sleeping at night, which is so crucial for him. He too, didn’t rest well.
Monday morning, as I do every morning gave my first thoughts to God. I wrote in my prayer journal….”You are refining us Lord. Change is taking place all around us. Lord use us to do your will.”
As we arrived at the Cerebrum Health Centers, A National Institute for Brain Treatment, it was walking through the doors, into the clinic, that made me feel like I wanted to collapse.
We were here. A place that we had searched for so long, FINALLY EXISTED!
Sitting in the lobby were other patients with their advocates, family members or care givers, and I noticed each face had expressions that were all too familiar to me.
Patients, had the same look like Derek. You could tell by their eyes, body language, and mannerisms that they were similar to Derek.
The care givers were busy filling out paperwork, and well, to be honest, they looked as stressed as I felt. Everyone was very quiet.
The people that worked at the facility, were the most upbeat, energetic people I had ever met. I have been told that I’m a pretty energetic person. Let me tell you, these people were ‘me on steroids’.
Every single person, and I mean every person, came up and introduced themselves by first name. This wasn’t a brain clinic. This was HOME!
We were all explained in detail what to expect that day. Lots of tests were to be done on the first day for each patient. We would start off with diagnostics testing for the whole morning, then we would meet with our schedule doctor.
Derek was called back and the testing began.
As I watched him go through all the tests, my mind flooded back to where he was over 2 ½ years ago. We had made some progress, but I can’t explain the emotions of watching your ‘superman’ of a husband also have lost so much of his ability, the results showing up on these tests. At the same time, he had made some improvements. I kept telling myself…no choice, just look at the silver lining.
These tests measures his balance and lack of balance, eye tracking and cognitive thinking. Don’t ask me to explain, because I can’t. But it’s pretty awesome, the equipment they have. Unlike anything he has been through.
For his balance tests, he is strapped into what looks like parachute gear. It was when he would fall, from lack of balance, the straps would catch him. It’s always so hard, to watch him struggle to do what should be such a normal thing. Of course he gets frustrated, but I can see his pure determination to literally get back up. Let me tell you… Get back up he does!
After a few hours of testing, we broke for lunch and then, met with Dr. Brock.
That appointment with this Dr. and his team that came with him, was like nothing I had ever witness.
First of all, the Lord has blessed this doctor with a brilliant mind. He understands not only neurology, but integrative medicine and also, traditional medicine. It’s like his mind, is several brains, many degrees in one head. A true genius and he was using his gift from God for the good of mankind.
I watch as for over an hour, as this doctor pieced together, Derek’s trauma, his abilities and lack of abilities. Dr. Brock began to draw it out on the wall.
Surprisingly, I understood over half of it. It’s crazy, that I can actually understand some of the language. What used to seem Chinese to me, now was beginning to make sense. However, the ½ I didn’t understand, were new words. Things NO ONE has ever said before. To me, this was exciting… NEW was exciting…. NEW brought HOPE!
Dr. Brock explained how far they had come in their research since we had been to the Carrick Brain Center in Atlanta almost 2 years ago. What was most amazing, was the same week we were in Dallas, many staff from the Atlanta Center were there learning how to integrate these new programs into their center.
What were the odds?
Finding out this knowledge, that this didn’t even exist a few years ago… that all this was still in the stages of being developed, and they had come this far in a short time, was liberating for me.
I knew then, that the purpose for that email, back home a few weeks ago, that the ‘ding’ on my computer, when I didn’t know what the next step …… was God saying….
“Sarah, I have a greater plan in all this. Write Sarah. Write about this so others can know.”
While Dr. Brock continued to exam Derek, I asked him half way through…”Do you think Derek has vestibular migraines?”
Remember, this was the label he had been given back home.
Dr. Brock’s response was….. under his breath……..”Bull *%&#”
HONESTLY…. THAT WAS THE BEST THING I HEARD ALL DAY!
Finally a Dr. saw Derek like I did. I couldn’t explain Derek’s condition in medical terms, I simply knew it in my heart, that he wasn’t a vestibular migraine patient. Dr. Brock, was like explaining my heart, in medical terms.
It was then, I knew that long search for almost three long years, had led us here. God led us to the right place.
The examination he did on Derek was like nothing I had ever seen. He reviewed all the tests Derek had taken in the morning. The detail of it was amazing. There were several people in the room, because they are teaching this functional neurology to as many as they can. Dr. Brock could clearly see things that Derek wasn’t able to track with his eyes. The exam itself, after all the places we had been….. I knew, there was no place, no Doctor who had ever examined him like this.
IT WAS ………A W E S O M E !!!!!!!!
Dr. Brock gave his team an hour to put a program together for Derek and his goal, was this:
“I don’t know how long this will take, we need to run several more tests on Derek, some of the tests results we won’t have back for over a month, which could really alter a treatment plan, and we can’t make promises that we can’t keep. Understand that if some of your tests come back positive for certain things, the plan will change accordingly. We have to take this one step at a time, but progress…. we will make. My goal….. would be to rehabilitate Derek to 75% improvement.”
Hearing this…. Made me cry.
Then he said, “If that happens, one condition, I want a spider monkey in the office. Will you buy me a spider monkey if we can get you about 75 % rehabilitated??”
With tearful eyes, I told him I would buy a whole bunch of monkeys if he can help Derek!
It was Derek’s face, though that said it all. He had HOPE again in his eyes. Something I knew was fading the past several months.
I just witnessed yet another miracle.
Walking out of that room, was like I felt 50 lbs lighter. I felt like I was walking on a cloud.
To have HOPE… is BEAUTFIUL!
Back in the waiting room, the atmosphere was changing. Each patient and caregiver had a look of hope again in there face as they each met with their Doctor. They looked just like us!
One by one, people began to open up their stories of what brought them to this place. Every person there, had a unique situation, mostly traumas.
There were patients with strokes, car accidents and other horrific accidents, concussions, and inner ear problems. Though each story was different, what was the same was this:
These people had exhausted every source of medical help. Like Derek, they all had very similar symptoms. And like Derek ,had searched the U.S. and some of them, the WORLD to find help. There was no place, but this center. Each patient, one by one, was led to this place.
One by one, each family, each patient, started to share the detail of their story. What brought them here.
I knew then…like God was kicking me in the butt…… what my calling was.
“Write Sarah. Write. Write their stories.”
I was going to write about all these stories. I wanted to shed light to help others with these horrible symptoms. My notepad came out….. and I began to take notes.
Within an hour, Derek met his new therapists.
Caleb and Vernette.
Caleb was an intern and was an amazing therapist. He was from the Dallas area, and he really connected to Derek immediately. Besides the fact he was very intelligent and bright, he had this great way of bringing it all down to our level. Caleb had this pure determination to help Derek. It was so evident in all he did.
Vernette, besides being beautiful, was from Atlanta and was here to learn all the new techniques and integrate them back into the Atlanta center. She had a heart and true compassion of someone that I knew would instantly be a forever friend.
Derek’s plan was written. His journey of intense therapy began immediately!
It’s crazy to see what they did to him, and some of it seems so simple. Yet for Derek, it was so completely exhausting. The first picture is where they are using an electrode on his tongue and cheek. Basically… as Vernette described it so I could understand… This device was waking up the “party” to the brain. This is where the ‘house party’ all the ‘people’ hang out for making the brain work. They were waking Derek up by doing that!
The colored beads, Derek had to listen to Caleb’s commands and jump his eyes to and from different colored beads. This totally exhausted him. It was amazing to see how much this challenged him.
Meet the OVARD!
The first time I saw this thing, I thought, Good Lord, what are they going to do to Derek. Caleb explained to me that they entered in all his diagnostic testing into the computer and this machine was now calculated to Derek’s balance disorder. Strapping Derek into this, took some time, and all I could think was, what on earth are they doing to my husband.
To my amazement, my nightmare seemed to becoming true when they fired up this machine with my husband in it.
My first thought was…. OH BOY… He’s going to throw up:
Surprisingly, when he stopped… he didn’t throw up.
This first day, they did this over and over again, with different patterns, tools, and techniques. All I can say is watch the videos! AMAZING!
By the end of the day, poor Derek was done for. All the patients were. Their brains, were exhausted.
Their loved ones, including me, were exhausted. Watching the people you love the most have to work so hard mentally and the pure exhaustion that comes from it, is beyond humbling.
To be continued……