Tonight we watched a wonderful report on Gabrielle Gifford’s recovery. Watching her videos reminded me of the 7 months we were at Bryn Mawr and how diligent we’ve been to continue her therapy at home for the last 5 months. I recall each moment when it appeared that no progress was being made, then celebrating each new movement, new word and new milestone. Corey sleeps next to me as I write this. She has begun to independently roll on her side in her sleep. She stretches her arms outright and effortlessly expands her left hand and fingers. She can not move in this way during the day. It gives me hope that somewhere between the twilight and the sunrise it will connect. I watch her sleep and stare at her in amazement as I mentally list the changes that have brought her to where she is today.
There were two comments from the interview that struck me. The first was a photo of Gabby in the first week of recovery. Diane Sawyer asked, ‘how can a woman go from this’ (original photograph changes to present day photograph) ‘to this’? Looking at the footage of the daily struggles and achievements I can’t help be in awe of the human spirit and the mystery of what Gabby Gifford and Corey are capable of.
The second comment, ‘Courage is living the life you didn’t have planned’. For a survivor of a traumatic brain injury this can only be accomplished with intensive physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapies. The Gifford’s are proving the value of why we are fighting for Corey’s therapy. Recovery is not fully achieved in the first year; it is achieved in year 2, 5, 10 and 20. It can not be realized without the help of dedicated therapists and continued daily rehabilitation.
I could also relate to Mark Kelly’s approach; ONLY positive thoughts and optimism when I’m with Corey. The only time we, the caregivers, will allow the negative thoughts, doubt, fears and worry to enter our mind is at night when we’re alone. That is our time to cope, accept and heal to regain our strength to support the efforts of our team of doctors and therapists but most importantly the person we love and protect.
Being with Corey I witness Courage every day. Hope naturally follows with each accomplishment. Tonight Corey spoke to her best friend Selina via skype. The girls have been best friends since they met on the playground in kindergarten. Corey was hanging upside down on the monkey bars wearing a dress, her underwear showing! Selina looked at her appalled. Corey swung over, landed on her feet, confidently said ‘Hi, I’m Corey what’s your name’? Selina timidly told her name. ‘Want to be friends’? Selina said yes and the two women began their friendship.
Selina has told Corey that she balances her. Corey pushed her to color outside the box and take risks. Selina reminded her of more than one occasion when Corey was outspoken and stepped forward to protect Selina as she meekly stood behind Corey feeling safe that somehow Corey would take care of whatever they encountered. Now that she’s in college, she draws on Corey’s strength and the lessons she taught her.
Corey’s closest girlfriends have been apart of her recovery from the start, visiting with her at the ICU, Bryn Mawr and at home. Now that we skype with her best friends so that distance is not a factor, they continue to be an integral part of Corey’s recovery. Tonight, Selina got to hear Corey’s voice. In addition to “Hi”, “how are you”, “I love you” and “I miss you”; for the first time she clearly spoke Selina’s name! Tears welled up for both of us as we cheered and Corey looked at us with a smile filled with pride in her accomplishment.
After our skype call, Corey asked to call Caitlin. Corey wanted to tell her something very important. “Happy Birthday” and “I love you”. Caitlin was thrilled with her present!
Corey wanted more. She asked to open facebook. When I asked her what she wanted to write she posted, “Hi Everyone”, “I love life”, “How are you”?
This is Courage. This is Hope. This is living the life she didn’t plan with strength, determination, optimism and happiness. “Sometimes you just have to accept that there are daily miracles” xoxo