It is measured as a single orbit around the cynosure of our solar system. That is an average of 365.25 days. In a perspective of one year of time, we look in the rear view mirror, such as marking the day we were born during one of these orbits.
We speak of an infant who has completed their first calendar cycle as being one year old. The emphasis is on a particular date in an elapsed orbit.
Yet when reflecting on the development that transpired with the infant during that first orbit - smiling, tracking with eyes, roll over, start to crawl, saying mama and dada and maybe taking first steps, we speak in terms of year one.
One year ago.
Monday August 22, 2016 I got a call on my cell at 8:30am from Denver area code 303. It wasn’t anyone in my contacts, so I thought maybe it was a wrong number. Maybe Stephen or Whitney’s phone had failed and they were letting me know via a friends phone in case I needed to reach them. So I answered. An unfamiliar, but pleasant and calm voice says…
“May I speak to Scott Bennefield?”
“Yes this is Scott.”
“Scott, this is Chaplain David at The Medical Center of Aurora…”
The way that my heart, my gut, my mind, my world was about to change in that split second is beyond description. An initial conversation was an attempt to assist with identifying whether or not this “Jane Doe, white female, red hair” was our Whitney. After a couple of exchanges, it was clear that it was our girl. Based on the information he could share at that point, I did not know how much time, if any, Whitney might have remaining.
Mark it down, that was how day one began....one year ago.
Today is day 365 of the “returning to independence” journey.
Whitney’s comeback story is most phenomenal. By the grace of God, she is overcoming a near fatality. She survived, stabilized and continues to strengthen.
Six months later, February 22, 2017, with some assistance, she courageously “walked” twenty-two feet from the entrance of Craig Hospital to the awaiting car to continue her rehab in New Mexico with mom and dad.
When she came home, she was wheelchair dependent. Now she uses just her walker.
She came home incontinent & could not take care of personal hygiene. In the late spring, she regained being continent and takes care for herself in these matters. She can go to the restroom by herself at home and restaurants.
Until recently, we fully assisted her with the shower regimen – which includes getting in the shower and sitting on the shower bench, washing her hair and body, exiting and drying off with towels. Recently it includes drying her new red hair that reaches shoulder length in the back. Now we simply monitor her entrance and exit. She washes her own hair & body and can utilize a hand held hair dryer and brush.
Previously we helped in choosing her daily clothes and assisting with getting her dressed. Now she selects what she wants & completely dresses herself. That includes applying her make up & earrings by herself. We still help with necklaces that have a clasp.
Using her walker, she can assist in setting the table at mealtime with basic items like place mats, utensils, napkins, etc...
Back in the spring, we continued the transfer methods of getting in & out of bed and the car as we did in Denver. Now she does these things carefully, but unassisted.
Memories are a marvelous mystery.
Whitney’s memory is void from the time of the accident to around Thanksgiving.
When leaving Craig, she could not name all the months of the year, much less in order. Now she can recall this and much more.
Her aphasia has basically vanished. She can read, speak & respond much quicker with a solid handle on language and communication. Math skills and spelling are greatly improved but still challenging at times. She has become proficient in using her iPhone and iPad.
Julie continues her regular office work schedule. Stephen continues to reside and work in Denver. I am Whitney’s primary caretaker. That includes me taking her to out patient therapy twice a week in Albuquerque for speech, physical & occupational therapy. Her trajectory for continued recovery is still an optimistic path.
These are some of the fascinating aspects with regard to one year and year one. My next blog will recount some of our experiences over the summer regarding traveling and the new path for our family.
Year one also included the compassionate support of family and many, many faithful & new friends. You contributed to our journey with – prayers, encouraging correspondence, monetary gifts, phone calls, lodging, responding to our social media updates, listening and personal visits & hugs. There is no mechanism to measure or realistically express the degree of gratefulness that Whitney and our family wishes to impart with all on our journey.