There are some dates we come to know by heart, like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, even sad events that we’d rather not have to remember, but nonetheless, they are etched on our minds for good.
March 14, 2013 is such a day for our family. In the early morning hours we received a phone call that our daughter, Kelsey had been involved in a serious car accident and had been airlifted to a Houston hospital. I flew out immediately and Tom followed shortly after, neither of us knowing if she would make it through that day or the many others she spent in the shock-trauma unit of intensive care. It soon became evident that if she survived her injuries, she would need intensive therapy….we were going to be in Texas for awhile. So Kelsey’s brother, Brett set up a Facebook page to keep family and friends informed of her progress, and Tom and I began posting nightly updates. (You can find them on Facebook at Kelsey Warren, Train Master.)
Tonight, on the two-year anniversary of that life-changing event, Tom wrote another update, and I’m going to let him do the “heavy lifting” for me on Day 23, and am reprinting it here. I know how hard this was for him to write – not because we don’t celebrate Kelsey’s recovery, because we do each and every day! But because he also had to share with hundreds of followers the news of Kelsey’s brother’s passing. It’s been a tough day….but if you ask me where I saw God today, I would say without hesitation – I saw God in the willingness of my husband to lead our family through yet another devastating time, prayerfully and courageously.
We always closed our updates with “5 Blessings”, and tonight I add a 6th; I am so thankful God led me to begin writing this Lenten blog, and for those of you who are actually reading each day! It reminds me of all the support and companionship we felt through the early days of Kelsey’s injury, and I find the same here. I am truly thankful!
“Dad’s (Brief Two Year) Update on Kelsey
Two Years! If you read the posts on Trainmaster as they began two years ago, you know that Shellie and I provided nightly updates on the progress our daughter, Kelsey, made while in the Shock Trauma ICU at Memorial Herman in Houston, and then as she entered into the process of “Rehab” at TIRR. There were also a few very sincere middle of the day or night pleas for additional prayers in some very bleak moments. Looking back at all those posts, it is impossible for me not to feel overwhelmed, still, by your presence with us as we faced what we did. Your prayers for our family, your comments on Facebook, the cards, phone calls, texts, letters, visits, gifts – your expressions of love and caring lifted us in that time as we felt the touch of God through your hands. We will never be able to express our appreciation fully.
As I said, we wrote nightly updates then, which became less frequent as Kelsey transferred to CNS in Bakersfield and even fewer when after a couple of months she came to stay with us, here, in Hanford. As the “milestones” of rehabilitation became more and more subtle, everything really became mostly daily routine and there were considerably fewer breakthroughs to share. The fact is that, just as we had hoped and prayed for, Kelsey was settling into “real life,” and just like anyone else she wasn’t too awfully thrilled with the idea of writing a daily blog detailing the mostly mundane events of her real life accomplishments, and she was even less thrilled with the idea of her parents sharing those things with the world! : ) Still, on this the second anniversary of her accident there are some things we’d all like to share with you.
First of all, people often ask about therapy… and the story on therapy is that it has been over a year since Kelsey’s last Physical Therapy session and more like a year and a half since any Occupational Therapy – at least that is true if you only count OT or PT as something you can only get when you go to a Rehab Facility. But if you count PT and OT as the ongoing activities that continually challenge you to achieve a new level of competency, Kelsey is still at it.
You may recall that Allison (Kelsey’s Speech Therapist at TIRR) worked with Kelsey and encouraged her to set up events or day trips around the Medical District – challenging Kels with the planning, organization and follow through to make those things happen. In a very similar manner Kelsey continues to use her “Event Planning” skills to push herself (unintended wheelchair pun) to those new levels of ability. Here’s a for instance…
Last September Blake Shelton played at the SaveMart Center in Fresno. Before the tickets went on sale Kelsey announced to us that she was going, and that she was going alone and driving herself. At the time, she was just beginning to learn how to drive in a parking lot, with hand controls… and she had never disassembled her wheelchair and lifted it into the cab – a real trick when you don’t have any abdominal muscles working for you! So, Shellie and I nodded our heads, “Yes,” but both imagined that when the night came, if she really was able to get in the truck on her own, we would be shadowing her in some dark sedan!
Of course, before the concert arrived she had planned and practiced, step by step, what she would need to do to be ready, and with that same determination we saw so often at TIRR, she was ready when Blake hit Fresno. That was really the first of many event oriented “Therapy Regimens,” which have included much more than just the two 10 day trips back to Texas, or several visits made and concerts attended in locations ranging from Berkley, to Napa to Sacramento, to the one she is at tonight in West Hollywood.
Yes, she is gone today… she determined many months ago that she would have a plan for this day in particular. She didn’t want to spend it going to the grocery store, like any other Saturday. Nor did she just want to hang out and watch a movie, or go out to eat someplace locally… in other words she didn’t want to spend the day doing those mundane things of life we are each so blessed to be able to do – those things, quite honestly that don’t make great “Update News,” but were at one time ever so hard to imagine Kelsey being able to do. For your prayers and support in making this possible I thank you once again.
The other thing I need to tell you about is also not great “Update News,” but to not share this with those of you who so faithfully upheld us, as a family, just doesn’t seem right. Seven months ago we experienced an unbelievable loss in the death of our son, Kelsey’s brother, Brett. The grief, sorrow and pain of his absence has been and continues to be nearly unbearable. If you look back through your earliest Trainmaster Updates, you will see that it was Brett who created this Facebook Page for us, and more importantly in the later updates you will be reminded of the close bond that he and Kelsey shared throughout their lives. Learning to live with the absence of her brother in Kelsey’s own words, “Is my biggest disability.” Together, as a family, we will never be the same… Yet, we are blessed to be together as we find a way through this… your prayers are once again needed and welcomed.
It is hard to put that out there in the midst of what otherwise should only be a celebration of the reality of Kelsey’s relatively “normal” life, but normal life can obviously be a lot harder than we expect. It is definitely better faced with a number of folks who care about you, and we thank you, yet again, for being such people.
Top Five Blessings
1. That Kelsey can travel independently – beyond our craziest hopes!
2. Kelsey texted hours ago and said she was checked in at her hotel! (A dad’s a dad – he worries ’til he knows.)
3. Kelsey has a new manual chair to be delivered tomorrow afternoon, and the recent purchase of a standing frame/glider came at a great price (I just had to drive to Arizona to buy it!)
4. Home renovation to provide a separate living area for Kelsey is nearing completion!!
5. Looking back over these two years and reflecting upon all the relationships through which God has upheld us. Doctors, technicians, nurses, therapists, custodians, churches, “strangers,” family… and you! All blessed to be a blessing!
Thank you, and bless you!”
Tom (Kelsey’s Dad)