Friday, November 13, 2009

Update #28 on Peter (from Peter himself!)

Peter sent me the following update to post on the blog. I’ve known for a while that this day would come… when Peter could write/type to you with his own hands and share his own thoughts. A suggestion if I may… grab some tissues before reading on…



On Oct. 14th I got out of the hospital after a 4 week stay. I then went to stay with my parents at Chad and Alicia Edwards’ apartment. Five days a week I have been going back to the hospital in Yong He (the hospital where I was taken in an ambulance and received care). I am slowly continuing to recover from the accident. I have been spending 2 hours a day in the Rehabilitation department receiving both Occupational therapy such as working on regaining the coordination skills in my left hand such as putting pegs in holes with chopsticks, and working on printing in both English and Chinese. I have also been receiving Physical therapy which focuses on training my central nervous system to override what my inner ear is not capable of doing right now which is to balance. They began re-teaching me to walk with a walker, then to walk without one after a week or two, and then began creating obstacle courses made up of stepping up and stepping down as I moved across a ten foot space with bars and then without. I am coming close to not requiring continuation of Rehab as I can almost walk a straight line which was their objective and now am able to write with my left hand (still rough looking as mine always have been). I have been told by my mom that I still do look a little like Jackie Chan in the “Drunken Master,” (movie) because of my periodic staggering as I walk. But I am maneuvering (with some assistance) the streets of Taipei City, which is at least as busy and crazy as downtown Manhattan. As you know I don’t drink but this helps my mom to lighten up these moments for herself (I think).

I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle. From the moment I was hit crossing the street to about 14 days after that, I don’t remember much of anything. Because of this, I have been spending a good part of the last 4 weeks healing, doing rehab, and trying to catch up on what took place during this time. I have been reading the blog Scott so generously created, notes of encouragement in the log book that Jennifer Reynolds, my team partner started the day of my accident, email letters, Facebook messages, photos and videos of me during this time. All of these sources have been such a blessing in putting these two weeks back together for me. In a way, I am grateful for the loss of memory in regards to remembering the pain of being hit as well as the emergency care and brain surgeries (one to put the brain monitor in and the other to reduce pressure in my brain by removing a blood clot and excessive bleeding).

A very special letter from a 9 year old little girl, Eden Udell, arrived at the hospital from Missouri which drove home the seriousness of my injuries. It had been written the first week of my accident. She said “I hope you get better or if God wants, you can go home with him. You are in God’s hands”. This was especially moving and loving because she comes from a family whose second oldest daughter, Mirium (at only 15 years old), was killed in a car accident in which she had fatal head injuries. They weren’t able to relieve the pressure in her brain in time to save her. The Udell family loves me (Peter) very much, so this hit very close to home and brought up memories & pain of the loss of Mirium, and the discussion within their family of “What do we pray for, Mommy, when someone might die?” What do you pray for when a loved one is in critical condition that might give you peace? I think Eden said it best! Miriam died before Eden could know her but Eden knew and loved Peter, so it was scary for even her.

Eden is one of 5 children of Jack & Trish Udell’s. Jack is an ER doctor and Trish an English professor. During my 4 years in college they became my adopted family in Joplin, Missouri spending Thanksgiving, Easter, and they saw me through getting shingles during my 6 month internship at College Heights 18 months ago.

Thank you all so much for your prayers, visits, letters, and encouragement. These efforts have meant so much to me and made such a difference for me. Going through this experience has caused me to ask a lot of questions, come up with few answers, and ponder many things. So many people have been so good to me in so many ways through this experience that it has caused me to think God has been at work in many people’s heart’s in many ways and people have responded in amazing ways. I have been so completely impressed by how people have prayed for me, encouraged me, and worked together to help me. It has made me ask myself the question, “Am I worth all this love, kindness, and trouble people are going through for me?” Everyone has helped me so much it became a fairly difficult question for me to answer. Maybe I have been thinking the wrong way, thinking of myself like some sort of asset that needs to have enough value to be worth all this effort and work and kindness done on my behalf? Maybe God does not weigh and value the same way that I do. When think of what has happened since the accident I am overcome by thankfulness because no matter what my worth, God has poured out so much love and grace through so many people it is amazing to me. This experience has also reminded me that my life is not my own, each day of life is given to me from God. I think that through many of you God has poured out His love, kindness, mercy, and help - on me.

We saw my neurosurgeon Dr. Zheng last week at Yonghe hospital and he told us that I am making great progress and he doesn't anticipate any further medical difficulties (as far as brain neurosurgery is concerned) unless I felt some unexpected pain come up. He also told us that I would be able to fly to California from his perspective in regards to brain pressure but recommends we check with the ENT doctor. I went to the ENT doctor next. Dr. Liou did a review of CT scans, and did an exam of my ears and eyes. He said that I could fly but not to pop his ears or fall asleep during taking off or landing due to trying to avoid further ear pressure. I was also informed by the ENT that I need to stop doing anything that causes pressure by straining my body such as when you do pushups on the parallel bars, or holding an L on them [like I did last week]. This is because he explained my ears are fractured which has caused a hole in the vestibular area [a para- lymphatic fistula] which causes fluid to escape, causing vertigo. My vertigo will improve as the hole closes. My right ear is significantly worse than my left.

We went to NTU (National Taiwan University) 2 weeks ago for cognitive testing with a psychiatrist (5 weeks after the accident) in an effort to create a baseline assessment. Today, the Rehab brain trauma specialist Dr. Lu, and the psychiatrist Dr. Shu, stated that I performed cognitively in the normal range for a non- injured patient. This was good news! Some of the subtests indicated a need to work on short term memory skills. The doctors said this was very typical for patients with similar brain injuries to mine. The recommendation was to provide me with 6 weeks of intervention sessions to work with me on short term retrieval. I had my first session today and it was great! My first assignment is to use a daily log, monthly planner, and to notice what I find particularly challenging for me this week in regards to short term memory. The doctors explained that short term memory for example is remembering what you did that day or what took place in a telephone conversation. They expect that I will make very good progress.

Each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, all of my teammates and team leaders of Team Expansion go to Lao Dong, an hour and a half east of here. This is where, for 40 years, Ted & Bev Skiles started and have run an orphanage for babies and the placement of them. Ted & Bev are referred to as the grandpa & grandma of all the missionaries. My dad and I will be joining them this year. This will be a very special time of celebration for my dad and I as all of my friends/coworkers have been through every step of the trauma of my accident and recovery with me. I am looking forward to seeing joy on their faces after such a difficult ordeal for all of us. My mom is flying home this Saturday so that she can get back to work. My dad will stay with me until I can fly back for a short visit during the Christmas holidays. I am getting more and more independent but it will be nice to have my dad move me back to my place in Banchiao before he leaves Taiwan permanently. Then, hopefully, after talking to my elders at College Heights, Shepherd of the Hills, and getting my Visa set up for my second year, as planned prior to my accident, I can fly home with my dad for a Christmas visit.