Since Pheobe has been making the entries in the blog for the past few days, we thought it would be a good idea for me to take a turn. Today has been a monumental day for Shannon. After seven weeks in the hospital, she was discharged and was able to return home!! She didn't want a lot of fanfare. The folks at the hospital asked her if she wanted to have a celebration before she left and she declined saying she just wanted to get home. The morning was spent with last minute check-ups and conversations with doctors and nurses. We made a trip over to the PICU to see if some of the doctors and nurses who had worked with Shannon were there today so that she could say good-bye (even though she doesn't remember them very well, if at all). But most of them were not working today, so we went back to the room and hung out. At about 11:30 she was discharged and on her way home--and she was excited. She didn't want to stop and get anything to eat, she just wanted to get home and have home food. It was fun to watch her savor the joy of being back home--she gave her sister Tonya a big hug and was excited to check out the house. She was thrilled to be back in her own bathroom and when she looked at her bedroom she said it looked like heaven. She has adjusted well so far and has been really good with understanding and complying with her schedule, goals, rules and directions. Her eye contact and conversation has been great and she has just been happy to be home.
The day has been a time of sweet and poignant reflection for me as I have thought back on the events of the past seven weeks, the miracles witnessed and the lessons learned. As I drove up to the hospital this morning to join with Pheobe and Shannon in the discharge process (and really to be a means of carting all of her stuff home), I was reminded of a much more anxious drive seven weeks ago today. I thought of the miracle that day of having two wonderful doctors, Dr. Walker and Dr. Maloney, on call and waiting to give Shannon the immediate and critical care that was needed. Their experience and wisdom was a tremendously calming influence on me. I recall turning to Dr. Maloney as they were taking Shannon away for emergency surgery and saying, "Take good care of her--she's my baby." And take good care of her he did, with the help of so many other wonderful and capable doctors and nurses. Dr. Maloney came by Shannon's room yesterday afternoon shortly after we had received word that she would be going home today. His expression was one of pure joy as he talked to her and marveled at the progress she had made since that night seven weeks ago. When I got to the NTU this morning, the first person I ran into was Dr. Walker and I shared with him the news of Shannon's discharge. He was pleased and expressed his continued optimism for her progress and recovery. I was grateful for the chance I had again to thank him for saving Shannon's life and being so helpful and wonderful during her recovery. Feelings were tender as we said good-bye and thank you to therapists and nurses. Wonderful neighbors welcomed us home with banners, balloons and food.
This evening as Shannon was getting ready for bed, Kate, Pheobe and I had family prayer with her. Pheobe expressed our gratitude for the many miracles that have happened which have brought us to this point. After the prayer, Shannon wanted to hear about some of those miracles again, so Kate shared with her the things that transpired right after the accident and recounted the speed with which help was summoned and arrived, the people who were in the right place at the right time to help, comfort and sustain, and so many other things that happened right from the beginning. I thought about the testimony of Elder Bednar a few years ago regarding the tender mercies of the Lord. "I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them." There are so many times during the past seven weeks when we have seen these tender mercies come as a timely visit or telephone call, a feeling of comfort and assurance, a flash of inspiration or the expression of love and understanding. We are so deeply grateful for the countless acts of kindness towards us, the never ending stream of prayers offered, the faith that has been exercised and the sustaining hand of the Lord in each step that we have taken.
Today marks a significant step in Shannon's recovery. But it also serves as a reminder of the path that lies ahead. She has made unfathomable progress in the past seven weeks. Each day we learn more about Traumatic Brain Injuries and the way they are manifest. If you were to look at Shannon today, you would see a young woman with shorter hair, someone who is a bit skinnier than she was before, and you might be inclined to say "Oh good, Shannon's back." But as Pheobe mentioned yesterday, we have also seen to some degree or another, the effects of the TBI that the medical professionals have been teaching us about. We remain confident in Shannon's continued recovery, but the time horizon for that recovery is in months and years, not in hours and days. So please don't feel bad if we are overprotective parents and limit her time with friends and visitors. We are trying to implement the training and recommendations that we have received and are trying to do what we feel is in Shannon's best long-term interest. Please call or email us if you would like to visit and we will do our best to accommodate. We don't want her to get over-stimulated or fatigued. We are following the directions of the main Rehab doctor who advised Shannon (and us) to "start low and go slow." Thanks for your understanding and for your continued support. Today has been a great day. We are thrilled to have Shannon back at home and she is thrilled to be here.