Posted on September 5, 2017
One year ago, Ryan came home after four months in the hospital. These anniversaries come with mixed emotions. Watching a mind heal is both fascinating and frustrating. As we look back and marvel at how far Ryan has come, we can’t help but also be devastated by what has been lost and the unknown future.
We continue to hope for more progress and so far we have not been disappointed. There is no new normal yet, just a cycle of growth in which every two or three weeks brings a new way of living for our family because Ryan is a little more capable and thinking a little more clearly than he was in the previous few weeks. It’s exhilarating and exhausting. Ryan is managing his home life more and more independently and working on moving outside of that a little at a time. He continues in outpatient physical, occupational, and speech therapy three times a week at Inova Mount Vernon. We are grateful for all of the kind and competent therapists who have helped him so much and while we wish therapy were a thing of the past, we’re grateful for Ryan’s progress and good health insurance that keeps him there and moving forward. We fill the days off with a myriad of exercises, brain games, other therapy-like tasks, and outings to museums, gardens, and parks.
Ryan’s knee surgery in April to remove the heterotopic ossification (abnormal bone growth - a complication of brain and spinal cord injury) was successful and he is making slow and steady progress toward a fully functioning knee in physical therapy and with stretching and strengthening exercises at home. With his newly working knee, Ryan started participating in NRH’s adaptive cycling program which meets once a week throughout the summer and provides a recumbent bicycle for him to ride. He has thoroughly enjoyed being back on a bike and he’s looking forward to participating in NRH’s Super H 5K on a recumbent bike at the end of September.
Another big positive for our family has been going on a few trips in the past few months. We celebrated Ryan’s Alive Day (anniversary of his injury) at the beach in Delaware where he took being alive to heart and wanted to experience everything there from the sunrise, to the wind in his hair, to the arcade with his boys. We also flew to Utah and spent a few weeks this summer reconnecting with family, many of whom we haven’t seen in three years since we did not visit Utah the summer before Ryan’s injury and had to cancel our plans to go last summer. It was heartening to reconnect with so many and feel their love for Ryan and our family in person. And most recently, we headed to Chincoteague and Assateague, where Ryan climbed the 167 spiral steps Assateague Lighthouse, with me a step behind to spot. I think I was more nervous than he was! Early on, we wondered if being able to enjoy family trips would be something that would return, and we’re so glad that it has.
I find myself continually thinking how a tragic injury like this cannot be handled alone and we are continually grateful for the massive amount of support that has surrounded us from the beginning and continues after all these months. The support from each one of you has made the best recovery possible available to Ryan and will continue to help him move forward. Without the donations of money and leave, the help with meals, chores at home, and with our children, the love, prayers, and hope of our friends, family, and strangers, Ryan would not be experiencing the kind of recovery that he is. He would not have the hope and help he needs to continue to improve. Thank you again for giving our family this gift of recovery through your time, talents, donations, and love. We are thankful to have you along with us on this journey.