Saturday, September 4, 2010

1st full week of school

It's so great when Udell writes because he is so concise, gives great updates and is much more eloquent in his writing skills than I. Oh well...
It is true, I did take a significant break last week (more than just a couple hours)for the first time since the accident. I didn't realize how much I needed it until I was headed home. Our grandson was born this week 5 days after I left. We are anxious to get to a point that Shannon feels that she can travel that far so we can go see the cute little tyke!
This being Labor Day weekend, we kept trying to find some place that we could go for a family getaway. It's too short of a break to go where Shannon wants to go (a beach or her nieces' and nephews) and even if it weren't, any time we talk about driving anywhere more than an hour away, she just doesn't want to. I am not sure but I think it could be one or more of the following reasons: 1) riding in a car still just wears her out, 2) attention span creates frustration when staying in the same place for very long, 3) its a confined space and she can't really stretch her body out 4) she is reminded that she still isn't well enough to drive. It's a good thing that we like home because that's where we will be for a while.
It has been an interesting week for me to watch. I say watch because Udell, being the intellect that he is and was here to get Shannon started in school, has become Shannon's tutor. How grateful I am for the wonderful father and husband that he is! He has spent many hours at the school this week. As Shannon became more aware of the challenges she faces in school, she repeatedly changed her mind on what classes to take. We think we are finally where she is going to be. She dropped AP Literature because the work and reading seemed overwhelming. And then she picked up the second round of AP Calculus (BC) and a regular English class making her have 8 classes. Then she found out that universities do not give you more credit for taking the 2nd calculus class; she said "what's the point?" and dropped it. Each time there was a class change, it was a domino effect on her schedule and it took a while to get things in place. It also added different teachers that needed to be informed of Shannon's situation. Even though they did the 504 accommodation plan last week, the assistant principal hadn't sent it to the teachers! So we had and have more items to be sure the teachers are informed about.
Shannon has done very well in school. It was not successful in trying to get someone to help her navigate the halls of this 2500 student high school but she says she is doing fine getting from one class to another. Shannon also frequently says that some of her classes are so boring. That's not typical of Shannon and we are wondering if maybe the short attention span and the lack of moving around is more the cause of the boredom. Or maybe there just are some teachers that are boring.
Shannon is so dedicated to her schoolwork. Reading is still very taxing on her and again, her dad has been the one she has asked for. So Udell feels like he is taking a biology, a stats and a psych class! :) He'll sit and read to her and she takes notes on her computer. She truly is amazing at finding ways to compensate for the challenges.
One very big challenge is that she does get extremely tired. It is important to her not to be singled out for any reason and so she doesn't want to get up and leave a class. From what she says, she does put her head down and rests. By the end of this first week, she was really tired! She isn't sleepy tired, it's the cognitive tired and that then affects her physically. It is hard to stand for a long time so I guess there is a physical aspect to it as well. All the professionals just keep telling us, it takes time! We never have had a lot of patience in this house!
We saw a pretty good example of dealing with the cognitive fatigue last night. She was so tired and didn't want to do anything or to really even talk much. She was also feeling down for she doesn't feel she is surrounded by friends like she used to be. But, much as before the accident, she started texting a few people and soon she had 3 friends over. They played some cards and then went outside and kicked some balls around for a while and then watched a movie. She seemed to have a good time and perked up substantially. She wasn't needing to focus or concentrate mentally on what she was doing and so not only were her spirits lifted but she had more energy. There is such a stark difference between being cognitive fatigued and physically fatigued.

Today Shannon was asked to give a talk on the Holy Ghost at the Stake Baptism. (Thanks Primary President for giving her the opportunity!!) We had only been sitting there a few minutes when the mom of the twin boys being baptized came over. She was a bit emotional when she told Shannon how awesome it was that she was giving the talk because the twins had and still do pray for her every time it is their turn to say the family prayer. It meant a lot to her and I am sure she will take the time to remind her boys of Shannon's miracle and the power of prayer in their lives. For me, it was, first, good to know that we still have people actively praying for Shannon and second, to again be touched by the amazing teaching opportunities that have come due to the accident and it made me aware, again, that Father in Heaven is mindful of us. I think more than ever, I have had simple little experiences like this one that is constantly reminding me that Father is very aware of us. As He uses Shannon's miracle to touch so many of His children and as we struggle along, He allows us to know some of the blessings that have come to others because of all this. As Shannon's family, we have been made aware of many miracles that have come about as people have witnessed the ongoing miraculous recovery that she is experiencing. I don't think that Shannon appreciates that yet and may not for a very long time. It is not an easy thing to live through.
For now, her miracle is this; just a short (or in our minds-long) 17 weeks ago, Shannon was nearly killed suffering a very severe brain injury and for at least 3 weeks after, we didn't know if she would live or die and yet, today she is back at school, taking some pretty challenging classes and volunteering at the hospital. She still has a long road ahead of her, but from where she was and has been a long the way, she is a living walking miracle! She doesn't like any attention being drawn to that fact, but the reality is, that it is true!


  1. Thanks for the update. Happy to hear Shannon is back in school... truly a miracle.
    Hugs and Prayers, Julie Buswell

  2. Shannon, it is so awesome that you are doing so well in school. I am still constantly praying for you and thinking about you, and I love when the blog is updated. I can't stop being inspired by you to work harder and be a better person. I wish you the best of luck for the rest of the year and I just want you to know that you are truly amazing!

  3. Dear Blackham Family, That is so great that Shannon is doing so well. I'm super excited for her. I totally understand the patience thing. Here is a great scripture that has helped me...James 1:4 "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Keep a keepin' ON!!