Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lessons in Prayer and Pixie Dust

Lessons in Prayer and Pixie Dust




Today I’m sharing a very personal story. I hope you don’t mind.

16 years ago my husband had an accident. He was electrocuted. The how is not as important as the fact it was bad. He took 277 volts, triple faze. The insulated dykes he was cutting wire with blew up and pieces imbedded themselves a ½ inch into the cement ceiling above his head. He crawled down the ladder he was on and told everybody near that he had electrocuted and that his wife (me) was going to KILL him for touching electricity! I had told him if he was visiting his brother and his brother asked him to do anything to help him stay away from electricity! After saying that he went into full arrest (no heartbeat no breathing) and CPR was started by people that were there that just happened to know how to do it. 911 was called and paramedics showed up within 5 minutes of him going into arrest and they continued CPR until he got to the hospital. He was at the ER within 15 minutes of the accident. CPR was continued at the hospital for another 30 minutes before they got his heart going again! That is a total of 45 minutes of CPR!!

Normally after 10 minutes of CPR there is major brain damage and in fact little hope of saving the person’s life. If a person survives they are usually vegetables. My husband was showing all the signs of being brain dead. For 36 hours after the accident he was in a coma and unresponsive to commands. He was responding to his ventilator and the ventilators of the other patients in the ICU. You see, he is a respiratory therapist and maintains ventilators (life support machines) on patients. Whenever someone’s ventilator alarm went off he would get agitated and fight. He would kick and thrash around. Several times kicked nurses who were caring for him. The doctors had two choices. Keep him on the machine and give him more sedatives or take him off and let him die. Really there was not a choice as giving him ore sedatives would have killed him. Could not leave him on the vent as he was because he would hurt himself and the staff. They said the best I could hope for when they took him off was him being a vegetable in a nursing home for the rest of his life. I chose to let the doctors take him off of the ventilator and all other life support and place him in the loving hands of God.

Within an hour of him being taken off of life support he was sitting up . . . in a chair talking to his nurses!! His memory was shaky and he was nervous but he was ALIVE! His voice sounded like a 4 year olds but his words were his normal highly intelligent adult vocabulary. He remembered me and our daughter, who was 3 at the time. He remembered most family members and some friends, it was obvious his memories were there but he did not “know” the way to get to them in his brain. He also remembered his very complex medical history. He knew what meds he is on and the dosage he took.

The paths to his memories were destroyed but not the memories themselves. Once the “door” to the closet holding a memory was opened he could slowly bring it out. I chose to help him rebuild the paths to his memories. I came in with photos and even receipts I’d saved and started talking about vacations, special occasions and fun days we had during our, then 18 years of marriage. I told stories of friends and family. I started talking about what I knew of his childhood and asking him questions giving him time to think and chase down the various trails in his mind to find the correct memory. One of the things we spoke about often were the various days we spent at Disneyland and how those had bonded us together. Disney came up more often than any other topic!

After a few hours of hubby repeating the same questions over and over I wrote them down along with the answers. I gave him the note pad and when he would ask, “Was I electrocuted?” I would answer, “Number 1.” (Yes, you were electrocuted at your brother’s worksite.) There were about 10 questions he kept repeating and I made sure all the information was there and the nurses knew it was there to help him.

A few days after waking up the doctors wanted to discuss Scott’s future. They said I was on the right track with helping to rebuild his memories and continue what I was doing. He had nerve damage that affected the fine motor control in his hands. They asked if he had any hobbies. I said, “yes, woodworking, furniture building.” The doctor said, “NO! It’s too dangerous for him to use power tools with the poor control of his hands.” So I looked for another “hobby” that I knew hubby wanted to try but never had. He needed something low energy, low cost, low maintenance (I’d be the one cleaning up after him and our daughter for a while without help.) and something he could do anyplace. I knew he had always wanted to draw but felt he never had the ability. He said his stick figures looked like you asked a 5 year old to draw it with a crayon. I chose to encourage drawing!

I went out and got the book “Drawing for Dummies”, good colored and black pencils and a high quality drawing pad. I was excited to give these to hubby and looked forward to seeing him get excited! Instead of excitement I got a confused look. He was excited and like the idea but did not have any idea of what to draw!!! When he told me he could not think of what to draw. I reached in our daughter’s bag of toys and books that I had brought to keep her busy while visiting daddy and pulled out several Disney coloring books! He started freehand drawing the characters he saw in the coloring books. He soon was adding things around the characters. That was the start of Disney being a major part of his healing process.

The doctors released him from the hospital 6 days after the accident. ICU nurses that took care of him the first few days fell off their chairs when he walked into ICU to thank them and say good bye as he left to go home. He was off work for 30 days total and maybe he should have taken longer, but he felt he needed to go back or lose the ability to rebuild the memories of how to do his job. His work gave him a shadow for a month. This person would go around with him and watch what he was doing and answer any questions he had. This small assistance made the world of difference and got him back to work!

Have you ever gotten a good static charge and then had a strong shock from a doorknob? You know you would not want Mickey Mouse to hear the first word out of your mouth! You feel angry and scared when you take a static shock! That is a natural physiological reaction to an electrical shock! You respond with anger and aggression to survive! With the amount of power that my husband took that anger, fear and aggression has never left! That is also normal for someone taking that amount of power. It is not uncommon for someone who takes that amount of shock to become aggressive and abusive. I’m blessed because hubby has not become that way! The question is how does he control it? Prayer and Pixie Dust! A lot of time is spent praying for strength in our household!

People ask why we spend so much time at Disneyland. (About 2-3 days a month on average.) It is my husband’s therapy, the Pixie Dust! We decided, a few months after he got out of the hospital and was finally feeling strong enough, to go to Disneyland for a day. Our daughter needed a day of family fun and positive relaxation and so did we! We found that he relaxed in ways at Disneyland that was different and deeper than when he was anyplace else for a day trip! The happiness he found there lasted longer than anything else! He had to slow down. He followed what the sign said as you enter Disneyland from the entrance plaza.
Going under the train there is a sign that says, “Here you leave Today and enter the world of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy”. Going through that tunnel you leave all the problems and worries of today behind and remember the joys of yesterday, look forward to the hope of tomorrow and choose to relax and accept the fantasy that is Disneyland. This is medicine to his soul!

Disneyland is where we spent time rebuilding his memories of past trips with family and friends. We relax in the lines talking about past trips to Disneyland and other places. At Disneyland we sit and make plans for the future and have dreams that seem too big to happen and some are but they are fun. It does not matter! Blue Sky dreaming is a good thing! Going to Disneyland helps him put things in perspective and put the stress, anger and frustrations in place.

So when people ask, “Why Disney?” We say, “Why NOT Disney? It is a healing place that brings joy and peace to our family!” Not only did my hubby have to learn to cope with his accident so did my daughter and I. We had to learn to understand when he gets nervous. We learned to see his anger building and encourage him to deal with it. We had to discover ways to help him remember things. To this day he still has short term memory issues. This is why I am a Disney Travel Agent helping those with special needs see they can enjoy Disney. This is why I blog about Disney.


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