Part 3 Discovering His World Again
After the futility and frustrations of my son's time in the hospital we began the 60 minute journey home. Five miles in to our journey our son began what was to be the first of many grand mal seizures. We pulled over to the side of the road to comfort and assist him through his seizure. We assisted him by making sure he was comfortable and that when he came to he would know we were near him. When he finished his seizure he slept 5-10 minutes and then awoke without the ability to speak. His ability to speak came back gradually but it always took thirty minutes. This was to be our routine every time he had a seizure. He had up to 12 grand mal seizures per day for the next three months. At the same time he began petite mals which rarely lasted more than a minute, that he still has occasionally. For the next 3 months our family's days were to be busier than they had ever been.When we got home the first thing my wife and I had to do was inventory what our son could do. We were glad for small miracles. He always knew his first name. Our son never lost the ability to use the toilet and never forgot how to walk. Although his inventory of words that he understood and could say dwindled to just a few, he always could say at a least a few words and make sounds. He was able to sleep independently and with help could change his clothes. He was able to, with help take care of keeping himself clean.
What was harder to know was what he lost and no longer knew. When we got back to our home in our driveway, and stopped the car, he asked why we stopped. We told him that this was where he lived. he asked if he had a bed. Our two dogs rushed to him in greeting. He screamed and ran for the house. In the house he cried for a few minutes and said "bad animals." We told him those were his dogs and they were so excited to see him because they loved him. He said quietly "loved?". We introduced him to his brother and sisters and explained to him what brothers and sisters were. We told him we were were family and explained to him what family was. He repeated "family." Our first days back to life for our son were just like this as our son had to be reintroduced to a world he had lost.
At first he was very much like a toddler. He was much like a white board that had been wiped clean. We lived next door to our Middle School and close to a fairly busy sidewalk. As long as he was awake and could see people walk by, he always called out to anyone and say "My name is Connor. What is yours?" He was a very delightful little boy. He was a 10 year old toddler but a delightful one at that.
Everything was new and amazing to him. About a week after he had come home my wife took him out for pizza, this was a meal he had loved before his memory loss. For him on that day it was the first time he had ever had pizza. He loved it but had a hard time remembering what it was called so just called it bread. When I came home from school, he spent a long time telling me about the wonderful bread he and his mom had at the pizza restaurant that day. He wanted to know if he could eat this bread every day and when could he go again. I was able to laugh for the first time in a long time.
After too many days of heartbreak, the days of hope were just beginning. What the hospitals and the illness stole from my family was hope. Hope began for us with our son's moments of discovery. Each moment of discovery was forever placed kindly and gently in our memories and sealed with our tears. His discoveries were to continue at an ever increasing, almost head spinning pace for the next 92 days.
With in a few days we had our first dose of really good news. He was able to retain what he relearned and his long term memory seemed to be awakening. At first he was very much unaware that other than regaining his speech after each seizure that he was any different from any other child. As the weeks passed he would feel the frustrations of trying to relearn what he had lost. As the weeks went on he would feel embarrassed when he couldn't remember people he was suppose to remember or academics that he simply did not know but that will be covered in the next part of this account.
We still had challenging times with my son but all things considered, they were workable. He was so friendly and innocent that we had to take extra precautions to ensure his safety. We made sure that someone was with him at all times. In addition, the doors to our home were always locked.
After his illness and memory loss he became very sensitive towards anyone or anything that he might think was cruel. He wanted those he had learned to love to keep his world kind and to stop whatever he perceived as cruelty as quickly as possible. We had a mean rooster who was a real attack rooster. The rooster kept people and most animals away from our house. He did this by flying directly at people or animals with his spurs pointed straight at any person or animal that might get in the way of his ruling the yard. He took an immediate disliking towards our son. He would attack our son whenever our son came out in to the yard. To keep the rooster from hurting our son, I would grab the roosters legs as soon as the bird would fly close enough for me to reach, and toss him up in the air in another direction. This upset our son so much that it forced me to just carry a broom wih us to defend us against rooster attacks. When I stopped grabbing the rooster it calmed our son down but didn't help my nerves at all.
As part of our ongoing assessment of our son's abilities, we discovered some very interesting lessons about his brain and by observing him, our own. He had been right handed before his memory loss and illness, afterwards he was left handed. He had not shown a lot of interest in art before his memory loss and illness, afterwards he could draw anything in great detail. He very much enjoyed art but especially drawing.
His brain had been severely injured but in the early stages of his recovery it was amazing to see how his brain restored and repaired itself. The miracle of the human brain was easy to see. As we observed our son, we developed more of an appreciation of the God who created our brains than ever before. The brain is so amazing. It functions well when it works well but more astonishing to us was how so often, when the brain is injured or sick, it can repair itself. I know of no man made machine that can do all of that. The rainbow appears after the storm comes and we were starting to see the rainbow.
Next Part 4 The Recovery Continues .................Academics