Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trauma Unit

We are now in the Neuroscience Trauma Unit--not Rehab technically. Although Shannon is doing rehab now, her medical treatment takes presedence and it is the Trauma team of doctors who are "in charge" of her. When she has gotten past all the medical issues, then she is released to the Rehab unit--same place, just different doctors.

One of the main trama doctors who has been following Shannon from the beginning came in to today. He looked at Shannon, shook his head, and said, "Unbelievable!! Unbelievable!!" He was so amazed at her progress. So many doctors and nurses have all said similar things. I don't know if any of them that were there that first night, ever thought that she would live. And now they stop by to see her becuase it makes their day! Miracles do kind of make you feel that way, don't they?

Shannon has had a hard day. We truly are into the really tough part where she has to do all the work. They got her out of bed again today. (Did it get reported that they got her up yesterday afternoon? They walked her across the room and back and she was totally exhausted!) Today they did even more. This time they got her out of bed, put her on this fancy wheelchair and took her to the therapy room. There she worked with occupational therapy; the first step was to help her use her eyes to see puzzle pieces and put them in the puzzle with the matching picture. She was still very tired and medicated enough that she didn't hold her head up much without help. The therapist kept reminding me that the brain is basically relearning some pretty basic stuff and it takes quite a bit of time for it to process. It took her 10-12 minutes or so to do a 9 piece, pegboard puzzle. Then they had her catch a beach ball and throw it back to them 10 times. Her coordination is better than I thought it would be but it has a ways to go. This whole time they had her sitting up, with one therapist behind her and another working with her. Because of the trauma her body has been through, plus having been in bed for 2 weeks without hardly moving a muscle, she is so very very weak and it doesn't take much to wear her out.

Shannon also went to xray for a swallow study. Before they will let her eat anything, the xray has to show her swallowing a spoon full of pudding and having it go down the right way. About an hour before the study, she had been given her meds which always makes her sleepy and being tired already made it just too hard to swallow it straight down. So she didn't pass the test and I think that made her very disappointed. But if she were to eat now, she would aspirate and possible get pneunomia again. We certainly don't want that. So we will try again tomorrow.

I think today we have hit one of those challenges that I think will be one of the hardest if not the hardest, for all of us--her realizing all that she has lost and knowing all the things she can't do and her recognizing the simplicity of the tasks they have her do. She sees that although simple, they are very hard for her to do. She knows what she wants to say and can't make those 22 muscles work that gave her voice to her words in the past. I have seen that saddness in her face today. I talked with her for a long time, giving encouragement and trying to help her understand that with faith all this is temporary. I told her of all the miracles we have already experienced. And then I thought of the blog. I opened to the comment page, the one after we wrote of her first real awake day and I read to her a 1/2 dozen or so of those entries that have come from so many of you. I finally got a small smile from the corner of her mouth. It's hard enough for us to watch but I can't imagine how tough it is for her. We try to remember that wise advise given about looking at progress by the week not by the hour or even the day. We have always said this was going to be a long road back to the miracle of a full recovery. We are reminded that "miraculous doesn't mean instanteous". But faith will endure!
Once again, we thank you for your faith, prayers and support. To say those words seem so insignficant and almost trite when our hearts are so full of gratitude. We just pray that the Lord will bless you for blessing us!


  1. Dear Blackham Family, It has been so inspiring to read your blog and feel the strength of your faith. Not a prayer is said in our home without mentioning Shannon and your family. We are overjoyed with Shannon's progress and understand there is a long road ahead. I have a friend who was in a car accident. He was in a coma for a long time and had the entire top half of his skull removed for a long time. It was also a long road to recovery for him, but today he is married with a beautiful family including 2 sets of twins. His speech is a little slow but he is an amazing man. One day I will have to have you meet him, maybe he can inspire Shannon one day when the time is right. If there is anything at home that we can help with please let us know. Love Terry and Margie Pierce

  2. Amazing! Simply amazing. My mouth dropped open when I read all that you are able to do already,Shannon! What a fighter!

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Shanni, I didn't get to write to you until very late, and I am sure you have been asleep a long time. I saw your wonderful dad tonight. He was so happy to talk to us about you and how you are doing. He got a bit choked up a few times, talking about how much he loves and respects the person you are. I felt the same way listening to him talk. I thought how blessed you are to belong to such wonderful parents, and maybe even more, how blessed they are to have you as their daughter. Shanni, you are such a special young lady with so much left to do in this life. Do you remember the last lesson I taught in YW and the handout I gave you? (My lesson was not so good, but the handout was GREAT!)
    "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" D&C 18:10
    I hope you will remember that. Your worth is far beyond what you can even imagine. We are all better people for knowing you. I thank Heavenly Father every day for the opportunity I have had to have you as my friend. I love you sweet friend. Love, Sue

  4. Keep up the good work Shannon! I keep reminding our kids and myself that the Lord has given us the capability to do hard things though I know this you are going through is one of the hardest things. We know you can do it. We are so happy for you and the progress you have made.
    I'm not sure that our family has every been so continually mindful of someone's situation as we have with you. That means that you are ALWAYS in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. We love you all!
    Greg and Amy

  5. Shannon you are indeed an inspiration to us all. What a trooper. You must work hard now to fight the disouragement you might feel as you go through this rehab process. You ARE going through rehab - this is a great thing! Embrace it and give it all you have - it will pay off. You WILL graduate next year and go on to college or whatever the Lord has in mind for you. We are all thinking and praying for you every day - Amy's little 3 yr. old son Sayer blesses you in his sweet little prayers and I know that Heavenly Father will hear and answer all of our prayers. I have felt the answer, and now you are showing that it is true! We love you so much and will definitely come up to see you when the time is right.

  6. P R O G R E S S ! ! ! "Oh it is wonderful...wonderful to me" and to everyone else... I LOVE puzzles... and beachballs and wish I could be there to play with you! Doug and Jen introduced the book, "However Long and Hard the Road" by Elder Holland to me years ago...I am thinking about your comments Pheobe, and yes, it looks like it may be a long and hard road... but then again... maybe not!! She sure has surprised us so far with her resilience, strength and Shannon like endurance!! (Apples don't fall far from the tree, do they? I think I first heard that from Merlin years ago, and here it is coming full circle!) Her progress is just so exciting and good. Our hearts are full of gratitude today for these wonderful blessings. Much love and many prayers to you all, again today. Larry and JoAnn

  7. Dear Shannon, I am so happy to hear about all the things you are able to do. I know you will have to work hard, but that is not new to you--that 4.0 is one proof of that! I remember back in '94 when I was so sick and had been almost bedridden for a couple of weeks that it took me a little while to get my "sea legs" back. I could walk around but if I tried to take off with a running step, I couldn't make those muscles work right. It was the strangest sensation. It took a little while to get my strength back, but I did and now I can still do back flips off the diving board! Our bodies are such an amazing creation of our Heavenly Father and the divine in them makes us able to do amazing things. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family constantly and I know the Lord is blessing you and also blessing us who love you.

  8. Ok, I guess that I am a little slow, but did I miss the part where Shannon was awake. I know that you said she was responding, and answering you questions with a thumbs up or shaking her head, but thought that she was still unconscious. Slow me! It is so great to hear of her progress. Shannon you have a great mission yet to perform, so keep up the good work. Aunt Judy

  9. Shannon-bunny!
    I am so proud of all of the work you are doing and so happy that you were able to get out of bed and get to work. You are one of the strongest people I know, so keep on doing that work! I can't wait to see you and hug you and tell you how glad I am that you are in mine and Nikko's lives. You are sunshine and I love you!
    Thanks for being such a fighter--and thanks to your mom and dad for the blog. It's the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I check at night, and in the day, I check at least 3 more times. The blog has uplifted me and I love the faith and goodness your parents have.
    Keep on truckin' babe!
    Cindy Pedersen

  10. Shannon and family-
    I don't know and of you personally, but found the facebook group through my little brother and have kept checking the blog since day 1. I just wanted to say that you are touching more people than you could even imagine with the progress that you are making! Prayers are happening all over for you- and we will continue to pray! Thank you for showing us that miracles can happen. Heavenly Father loves you- you are such a special daughter of his- continue fighting!

  11. WOW! I am so grateful to read this last post. You are absolutely amazing Shannon! My thoughts and prayers have been with you multiple times each day, and I am rooting for you always. I am not surprised that you are surprising all the hospital staff with your progress -- you always do everything in life with GUSTO, and this is no exception. I know how hard you are fighting, and with your determination, I know you will continue to do heal. I love you and our family loves you too!