Thursday, April 30, 2009

Good News!!!

Levi Had surgery on his right hand/arm Monday. The goal was to see why and, if possible, correct whatever was wrong with his radial nerve. That controls the extension of the fingers, opening of the thumb, and some turning of the hand. We feared the nerve had been severed in the accident; his right arm was nearly severed completely. If not severed, it had most probably been severely mangled and chewed up. Previous tests were inconclusive (aren’t they always?).
Dr. Lehman opened his arm up along previous scars and found the nerve intact! I assumed a nerve to be very small and hard to find, but he said it was rather large, about the diameter of a pencil. I gather that it lies very close to the humerus (upper arm bone). It seems the nerve was not severed or even badly mangled, but rather, constricted by massive scar tissue (go figure!) and even over-growth of bone. He freed it up by cutting away some scar tissue and bone.
I am thinking this is about the best possible outcome we could have expected. If severed, Dr. Lehman said the nerve could possibly grow, at optimal best, 1 millimeter per day. Depending on how far it had to grow to re-connect, it could take 1-1 ½ years! So now, instead of thinking in terms of months and years, we are now thinking days and weeks! In fact, Levi has already noticed increased movement just 2-3 days after the surgery. It is far from being “like before”, but it is moving in the right direction and VERY encouraging.
Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers on Levi’s behalf.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Note from Dad

Levi has been home a couple of weeks now. He’s been investigating, experimenting, and trying to figure out what all he can and cannot do. Invariably, he cannot do as much as he wants to, but I always had that problem myself. He can still drive a tractor (I started all the boys when they were 8). Jake says Levi never could drive straight anyway, so that’s nothing diminished! He can do better, though, if he would stay off the cell phone! Its hard to drive with one hand and talk on the phone, too. Since many of the controls are on the right side, he has had to use his right hand a little more, which I am trying to encourage. He tends to completely neglect both the right hand and right foot, because the left side works so much better. He’s not real crazy about doing his therapy type exercises to improve them, either.
Luckily, I saw the Karate Kid and remember Mr. Miagi’s little tricks like wax on/wax off, paint brush up/ paint brush down, etc. It seems Levi’s big size 12 feet won’t both fit on the same step for getting in and out of the tractor, so he has to step up one at a time with each foot. Also, the steps are kind of far apart, so he needs to grip rails or handles or whatever to help pull himself up. He can and does grip and pull with his right hand, it just takes him a while to get his fingers around the rail. And as I said, many of the controls are on the right side and it is very unhandy to have to reach over and work them with the left hand. The times when you need to work the controls the most are when you are turning around at the end of the field. Of course that is also when you are turning the steering wheel with one hand, so he is almost forced to use the other hand. One day he and Jake were plowing in the same field, and of course it simply would not do for little brother to be going faster or getting more done than Levi…..Ha, ha, ha……so he was using both hands as best he could.
I also had him dismantle sprinkler parts in the barn. He could do that sitting down at the welding table. He had to use a screw driver and pop the nozzles out of the plastic nozzle bodies, then push a wire through the nozzle to dislodge plugs, then sort the various sizes and put them in boxes to be stored. He was able to do all that well enough and had to use both hands. It seemed much more productive to him than playing dominoes or checkers like they wanted him to do in therapy. That was to learn to manipulate his hands and fingers and also cognitive function of sorting dominoes, adding, etc. He didn’t know it, but I got him to do all that and more! Those little bitty numbers on the nozzles are really hard for me to read, especially if they have been out in the sun several years. Levi could focus on them just fine; he could read them better than I could and without glasses, lol.
I noticed Jim Rhodes had responded to one of the blogs. I have a story I think he will like. I used to have hogs, sometimes for butchering, sometimes for the boys to show livestock. I have noticed no matter what color they are or how high priced they were, their head is always on the wrong end! What I mean is, whenever you want to take them out of the pen (like to weigh or exercise) or especially to load them in a trailer, they are always trying to go the other way. They simply CANNOT jump up 4 inches to get in a trailer, but a 250 lb. hog can root his way through a 2 inch crack below the trailer and get stuck there!
One year we had an abundance of watermelons late in the season. Being the tightwad I am and also full of watermelon, I began feeding a couple of melons to the hogs everyday (not show hogs). The hogs LOVED them. They were sweet and juicy. They would run over each other trying to get the watermelon. When the time came I needed to load the hogs in the trailer, I backed up to the pen, wired the panels securely to the trailer, put a fence post under the back so they couldn’t go under….everything just like normal. Then I grabbed a watermelon and busted it on the floor in the front of the trailer and CRAP! I nearly got trampled by the hogs! It turns out motivation was the key ingredient I had been missing. I didn’t need wire to secure the panels. I didn’t need a fence post under the back. I didn’t even need a short crowding panel or a hot shot. I just needed a watermelon! As long as they think its their idea, a hog can jump up a couple of feet to get in a trailer.
The same principle works on kids, too! Levi can use his hand a lot more when he wants to…. and climb up the nearly straight up steps on a tractor as well. He can stay on task and maintain attention for an extended period if he’s dismantling sprinkler parts or trying not to let Jake outdo him. He can walk pretty good with a cane if he’s going to church, or in the bank, or a store. After all, there’s people in there and he doesn’t want to look “handicapped”! That grates on him. But at home he’ll ask Cristy to push him around in the wheelchair, little stink!
One day I was starting a sprinkler. I was walking down it unplugging nozzles. Before I got to the end I looked up to see Levi had scooted over from the passenger side to the driver side and was bringing my pick-up, so I wouldn’t have to walk back. Of course it might have helped that it was already past lunch time and he was HUNGRY! Nana was making chicken fried steak with cornbread and gravy, fried okra and lots of other yummy stuff.
So, that’s where the references to Mr. Miaggi and Dr. House come into play. He’s given me those nicknames and I call him Ol’ tenacious…or Creeper. (Creeper was an old cow Grandpa used to have. She never got in any hurry and just “crept” around). There’s no end to stuff that needs doing on the farm, you’ve just got to get innovative and make it therapeutic! So, Levi’s getting therapy and eating his veggies, whether he wants to or not! (Cristy said Nana could cook the sole of a boot and make it taste good, lol) We just work on the “want to” part…..Farmer style!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Hello friendly bloggers,
Right now, Levi is in Bovina. He has been enjoying some freedom by driving tractor and even his pickup. I know the folks in Bovina are in awe of all the things that Levi is saying and doing. Levi will be re-evaluated to see what other types of therapy he can get as out-patient. Pray for the Lord to open doors and make all the necessary arrangements, appointments, and financial concerns fall into place. And Yes, Lord, we will give you all the praise!

Levi's hand may need more surgery but they are waiting to find out more on that. He walked alot today in the barn. Esther said he is doing really well and trying really hard thanks to Dr. House that is attending him. ha/ha
Last but least, Levi is enjoying food when he wants to and however much he wants to instead of when he is told to (eat).
Have a great day, stay in touch.

~til next time

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Note from Mom

So Levi came home again this weekend. This time he got to spend two nights at home instead of one, like last weekend. Mom took him shopping and got some smaller jeans (he says he's fine now lol ) and new shirts. We celebrated the marriage of Jake and Trisha. That would be Levi's younger brother. They got married in Vegas on the 16th of October two days prior to Levi's accident, so we never had an opportunity to celebrate until now. Levi wanted to wear his boots but he could not get them on. He also wanted to dance but was too tired. He had a good weekend with all of us. He went to church and seemed to really enjoy it. He says he's coming back again. He didn't want to go back to TLC but after much discussion on the importance of finishing therapy, he was OK with it.
Cristy took him back but managed to fit in a shopping spree and got some lace up boots. He said he could get these on his feet and had more support on his ankle than his Nikes. Then Dad took him shopping on Monday. They got him a straw hat. His right foot still swells up some and its hard to pull boots on. So just a warning: if you go see Levi, he might convince you to taking him shopping. He seems to enjoy that. lol

Things continue to improve, he still has significant memory issues, but slowly things are coming. Baby steps are adding up. Some days are better than others but all in all we are so blessed. Thanks for continued love and support. Peace Out