Friday, April 24, 2009

Below, Brian Shaw, shares the highlights of his recent visit with Tommy. Before you read further though, please pray for continued healing for the sore on Tommy's back as well as restoration of his diaphragm which will be needed for progress in independent breathing. Pray also for rest and peace for the staff at Craig. Please offer praise for the miraculous way God is sustaining Tommy's faith and courage! -- "I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." Isaiah 46:4

I had a two great days with Tommy. I arrived at Craig on Sunday around 10:15 am. Tommy’s first words were loud and clear “What took you so long!!!” He is very much the typical Tommy, joking and carrying on with anyone who enters the room. I could tell the staff at Craig loves it and gives it right back to him. He is very engaging with them and with anyone in the room. He can tell you very detailed information about each of his caregivers, and there are quite a few. I was very impressed with the staff, they are very professional, but keep the mood very light.

On Sunday, I stayed in the room with him until around noon, when Tommy was ready for a short nap. I returned around 1:30 pm and stayed until 6:00 pm. He seemed to enjoy talking about the local news and, of course, the Razorback football team. I brought along the Demo Gazette and read him the latest Spring Football report. In the afternoon, it was a beautiful Denver day and he wanted to go out on the sky bridge. It took about 20 minutes for the staff to get his bed and various accessories ready to move out of the room. He joked with them asking if we were going to the sky bridge or to the moon, with the amount of equipment and devices we had to assemble just to make the move out of the room. We spent about 45 minutes there which was nice until the warmth of the room was too much for both of us.

I was also there on Monday and It seems his daily weekday routine consist of waking up around 7:30 am, doctor visits around 9:00 am, occupational therapy around 10:00 am, nap from noon – 1:30. He was a little nauseated Monday morning, so I only stayed about 1 hour then came back a few hours later. He was feeling better around noon. His afternoons are mostly open for now with shift changes and reporting starting around 6:00 pm and he said he goes to sleep around 8:00 pm. He is still recovering from the bedsore before they will allow him to sit up or move around very much. I understood this may take a couple more weeks. However, all day long, a staff member was dropping by and paying close attention to his every need. He stays busy most of the day and really doesn’t seem to have time to watch TV or listen to books on tape. He enjoyed me reading cards that had arrived in the mail and just talking. We called the office and he was able to talk with everyone there.

Tommy has a strong positive attitude that he will recover and walk again. He is focused only on positive thoughts and asks the same of everyone. We talked about faith and courage. He most definitely has both. We talked about “Courage” being the ability to move forward even with a little fear in your heart. He loved that saying and asked me to write it down and hang it up on the wall. I couldn’t find any tape, so I will ask the next visitor to take this task on if you see the paper.

He said he was amazed at the number of people concerned about him. He said he didn’t realize how many lives he had touched over the years. He is also motivated by his strong faith in God, and is encouraged to hear how the blog has encouraged others to be more loyal, faithful followers of Christ.

Tommy is truly an inspiration. The day I was leaving Denver was the 10 yr anniversary of the Columbine shootings. On the way to the airport, I heard on the radio a statement from the principal of Columbine High School that summed up my visit with Tommy and his state of mind. “It is not the events that happen in our lives that define who we are, it is how we respond to those events”.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

At this very moment I am sitting with Robyn and Tommy at Craig hospital! I have been greatly blessed by my time with them. Tommy looks and sounds absolutely incredible! We have talked for hours about everything going on back in Arkansas. His attitude is amazing and the staff loves him. His nurse last night insisted on staying hours past her shift because she did not want to leave Tommy in the hands of someone else.

Tommy sends his love and, even though he has expressed it before, his great appreciation for your e-mails, blog comments and cards. They are truly bright spots in his day! He also promises a great big smile for anyone who smuggles in a cheeseburger! :)

To give you a little insight into Tommy's state of mind, I will share with you a report from his friend Paul James who visited over Easter..."Finally, you will find that Tommy's personality remains unchanged. As always, he is a great conversationalist and, as a result, time passes quickly. I enjoyed every minute of my time with him. The nurses love his attitude and he is constantly giving them a hard time and joking with them. We went to Easter service and he sang the hymns as well as he could. As we were rolling Tommy back to his room, I was whistling the first line to the opening hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" and Tommy promptly joined in whistling the second verse. This impromptu act spoke volumes of his mental attitude in dealing with his injury."

Please continue to offer praise for God's provision of friends that are visiting and praying. And, especially praise God for the healing that is taking place on Tommy's back wound. Real progress has taken place! Once this healing is complete, he will be able to be placed in a sitting position and begin physical therapy. Please pray for complete healing of this wound and that God would reestablish use of the diaphragm that will allow for progress in independent breathing. Your prayers are invaluable!

Tommy wanted to share the following Bible verse with each of you today. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tommy's brother-in-law Mark just returned from a visit with Tommy at Craig and has brought back exciting and encouraging news. Due to Tommy's excellent progress with his speech, the staff at Craig is optimistic that Tommy will soon be able to utilize technology called Dragon voice recognition software. This software will enable Tommy to use his computer through a process of voice commands. Of course, it will take some time to master, but it is an encouraging step! Also this week, Tommy was briefly able to override the ventilator with his own breathing capacity. The nurse commented that this achievement was beyond good... "it is awesome." Mark also reported that Tommy's mental attitude continues to be amazing. There has now been ample time since the accident and surgeries for marked improvement to be seen in both Tommy's mental and physical condition. What may seem to us as a difficult waiting period has provided Tommy with much needed recuperation time. Healing of the skin lesion is improving slowly but surely and the doctors have been able to manage some pain Tommy was experiencing. Tommy expressed to Mark his overwhelming gratitude for every one's notes, e-mails, blog entries, trust donations, etc. as well as his positive experience with the hospital and staff. Above all, he shared with Mark that he has "the faith and the fight to climb back to the top." Please continue to praise God for the strength and encouragement He is providing. Also, please pray for the healing of Tommy's skin problems which will then allow for physical therapy to start as well as continued strengthening of Tommy's lungs. And, pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to watch over and sustain Tommy's family. -- "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24