7/14/07 11:45 p.m.

I know, I know, it's been a while. No good excuses, just lots of busyness and lots of emotional stress. The past 10 days have been the hardest for Josh emotionally since his accident. We spent almost one entire night up talking, crying and not sure where to go from here. So, a little background information. Not many changes in Josh's condition over the last month or so. He continues to get stronger with the muscles he has but nothing new has come back. What it really comes down to is Josh is losing hope. Hope that he will ever walk again. At least on this earth. Hope that God's plan for his life is to heal him. What if God's plan is to use this injury to bring him glory but to keep Josh in a chair for the rest of his life? We know what the chances are medically speaking. We are VERY aware of them but we also choose to concentrate on the power of God. We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is capable of healing Josh. Be it overnight or in small increments. We don't really care how it happens, we just plead with God to do so. We also know that Josh will walk again- no doubt. We just desire him to walk during this lifetime and not before his new body when we get to heaven. Did that make sense? If you are not a Christian, you probably think I'm a little crazy in the head. :-)

Hope keeps us going. What does one do when hope is lost? This is terrifying for Josh. We read in many places that it takes 5-7 years to get to a point where you accept your limitations and move on. When we lost Ava, everyone said it would take 2 years for life to start a new sense of normal. We were finally getting to that point after 18 months. It was such a freeing feeling. A feeling of thankfulness to God for carrying us through the valley and getting us through the other side. The average of 5-7 years seems like a lifetime from now. We cannot think of it this way but continue to take it a day at a time.

Emotionally speaking, Josh has it so much harder than me. But he also has the power to try and make the changes he shoots for: to get stronger and tackle therapy, to keep up with electrically stimulating his muscles, to choose to have a good attitude and the list goes on and on. I feel powerless when he is struggling. When he feels defeated, I have to listen to him cry, feel him wrestle with his body when he is angry and not being able to move, and try and be the stable person in his life. I want to scream, cuss, spit, throw things, and be angry in general when he is upset. I want him to know how mad I am too, not to be the one to try and keep things in perspective. He needs me to encourage him, to put him to bed, to rub his sore shoulders, to quiet his leg spasms, to give him his meds, to feed him, to pray with him, to pray for him, to just be his wife. I want to be angry and be allowed to be angry for more than a few minutes. To be allowed to stomp out of the house and run away for a day. To not have to be the responsible one. If I don't get up with him in the middle of the night when he's dysreflexic, who will? Who loves him like I do? Only God could love him more and he's not the one getting up in the middle of the night to turn Josh. I need to be here. I need to be the one to love Josh when he needs me most. To be the support that he needs. To be there for him, for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or in health. These were my promises and I meant them. I just never imagined us to be here.

In the middle of the night the other night, we talked about our God. Who is this God we serve? When Josh was in the hospital in Miami, God was so close we felt like we could touch him. His nearness was palpable. The comfort he gave beyond words. That God is no less real. The God we know right now is sovereign, powerful, mighty. The God of comfort seems far away even though he is no further than he was 5 and a half months ago.  Why does it feel different now? Our "God of all comfort" is near, yet we continue to hurt. We continue to wonder how to make it to the next day.

Nighttime is better the last 2 weeks. Since figuring out the dysreflexia issues, sleep is more consistent. Fat feet are becoming more of a norm too because Josh cannot have his feet up all night. Fat feet lead to tight shoes and blisters. Blisters are discouraging. Night spasms are keeping Josh awake and causing his legs to jump on and off all night long. This also leads to blisters on his heels. Now he can only wear slippers or the shoes we cut he backs off of. He is tired of this. All these things continue to be something Josh has to deal with.

Not much luck with Blue Cross. I don't thing they like us! :-) I think they have caller I.D. and put the rudest person on the phone with me when I call. They probably don't like me arguing with them. Oh well, they have my money and I'm going to fight for it!

We did find out Josh can get a power chair through Medicaid so he will be getting a power chair. Just not the one to afford him all the independence he was hoping to accomplish with the I-BOT. We know that if God wants him in that chair, it will work out.

A few comments from people have led me to believe that the story of Josh's accident was never fully explained so I thought I would take a moment before I close and give some background info for those of you who never heard the whole story:

The whole story actually begins almost 2 years ago on August 1st of 2005. The day we lost our daughter Ava. She was sleeping in her bedroom on the second floor when the box fan, meant to cool her room, fell out of the window and into her crib. It pinned her face into the mattress and suffocated her. I never heard a thing on the baby monitor. Around 1 p.m. I went upstairs to wake her up and found her under the fan. I performed CPR for 7 minutes before the paramedics arrived and continued to try and revive her. After 45 minutes, they pronounced our little girl dead. Josh was not home. He found out on the phone on his way home to meet us. We got to hold her before they brought her to the funeral home and say goodbye together. It was horrible but wonderful to see our little girl one last time. We buried her in Allendale, under a beautiful tree where the breeze always seems to blow.

After much thought and prayer, we decided to try and have another baby. We found out in October we were expecting and we were soooo excited. This led to us deciding to have one last vacation before the baby arrived. Enter Cancun.

We arrived in Cancun on January 18. Our rooms were not ready when we arrived so we threw our bags into a room and headed to the beach. We laid around on the beach for about 20-30 minutes before the boys got restless and decided to go for a walk down the beach. After only walking a few hundred feet, they decided to go into the water. The waves were huge and there was a big drop off into the deeper water very quickly. Josh stood in the water, just above his knees, where the waves were crashing. He dove into one of the massive waves, a surface dive, and was turned upside down where his head hit the bottom. He was immediately paralyzed. He was not knocked out and knew immediately something was very wrong. He tried to get up to the surface of the water to breathe but was unable. Brad (our friend, along with his wife Sarah, who were vacationing with us) thought he was joking. After watching for a few seconds realized something was really wrong. He arrived to Josh at the same time as the lifeguard. They very carefully removed his body from the water. By this time he was unconcious and had swallowed lots of salt water.  While getting him on the beach, he started coughing up the water and came to on his own. A crowd gathered around him and this is what Sarah noticed. We got up to check out the commotion and I realized it was Josh. From the looks of his face, his color and the way his legs moved as the waves hit his legs on the shore, I was convinced something was very wrong. The paramedics came and brought us to a hospital in Cancun. While in the ambulance, Josh said over and over, "Get me out of here. Get me out of here." He was meaning out of Mexico and back to the U.S. We arrived at the hospital and his oxygen saturation levels were very low, even with oxygen. This is because of all the water in his lungs and losing the muscles in his abdomen and around his lungs to breathe. His diaphragm was doing all the work to breathe. They immediately put in a breathing tube and took X-Rays and a CT scan. It was obvious that he has broken his C5 vertebrae into 3 pieces. After deciding it was not compressing on his spinal cord, they said we could fly. We took a med flight on a Lear jet to Miami, about 12 hours after the accident. We arrived in Miami, my parents meeting us at the entrance to the ER (they were vacationing only about 45 minutes from Miami) Josh in a drug-induced coma. After a crazy day of everyone from home arriving in Miami, we found out that the bones were compressing his spinal cord and he needed emergency surgery. The surgery went well. After he got out of the surgery was the first time I could breathe and feel like he might survive. All of the doctors kept talking about "life-threatening" infections. Many of the doctors were amazed he had survived in the water and survived on his way to the hospital, now he had to beat the infections that would present themselves because of swallowing all the sandy salt-water. Those infections never arrived. God saved Josh for a purpose. After 2 weeks in Miami, we took another med flight into Grand Rapids (I have never been happier to be home in all my life!) and went straight to Mary Free Bed Rehab Hospital. Josh spent almost 3 months there.

You know the rest of the story, at least as far as it has been played out. We have now moved to a new home on the west side of Grand Rapids. God continues to protect our family. Seven weeks ago, a little boy named Ephram joined our family. He has brought us great joy, but will never be a replacement for Ava. We continue down this road, wondering where God will lead us and what he will be doing next...

Prayer Requests:


-Emotional stability and healing

-Guidance in helping our children cope with all the changes they have gone through

Posted on July 14, 2007 and filed under "vulnerable".