Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hannah's Home

Hannah came home last Thursday and we are so grateful to have her back. She come home about a month ahead of schedule and her docs, nurses and therapists all agree that Hannah's quick recovery from such severe brain damage is truly a miracle. She isn't out of the woods yet...she will need a lot of speech therapy to be able to organize and express her thoughts but we're optimistic that she will be able to relearn that.
We went to the Emergency Preparedness Fair on Saturday at the Fairgrounds. The ambulance was there with a dummy strapped to the bed with an intibation tube and air bag attached. I showed my kids and told them that's what they had done to Hannah and then we talked to the EMT, Tanner Hackney, who happened to be at the scene of Hannah's accident. Here's a picture of Tanner and Jennifer Maxfield who worked together to get Hannah to the hospital. They were so happy to hear that Hannah is home and doing well. They have been very concerned about her and expressed how hard it was to have to work on a little girl in such an incredibly critical situation.
Our family is so grateful to all the first responders who were there and worked on Hannah...Carbon County EMT's, Price City Fire Dept, Carbon County Sheriff's Dept, Utah Highway Patrol and of course the doctors and nurses at Castleview Hospital who stabilized her enough to be sent on Life Flight.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Message from Hannah

Hi Everyone, On March 20, 2012 I was hit by a car on Hwy 10 in Price. I was in a coma for 2 weeks while my body and brain were working really hard trying to heal. I suffered many broken bones...multiple skull fractures, broken mandible, 6 broken ribs, both clavicles, orbital, shattered pelvis, a broken vertebrae and two broken fingers. When I was hit, my brain slammed against my really hard skull resulting in bleeding, swelling and bruises on my brain. My left eye was so swollen it looked like I had a golf ball under my eyelid and it bruised instantly to a lovely shade of green. I was Life Flighted to Primary Children's Hospital and when my family first saw me after the doctors and nurses were done doing their thing I had tubes and lines coming out of every limb, a ventilator tube was coming out of the mouth and I had tubes going into my nose. I was hooked up to a computer monitor and had a bank of 8 medicine monitors next to that. I was a mess!!! After two weeks in ICU, I was moved to the Neuroscience Trauma Unit. It took about a week to fully come out of the coma. My eyes were clouded over, it was hard to move my left arm and leg. I had had a tracheotomy about a week after I got to the hospital and I couldn't talk because of the hole in my neck. I had a feeding tube going into my nose and down to my intestines. It was hard to do much of anything. I wasn't very happy being at the hospital because I didn't understand what was going on...why all these nurses were messing with me. At the end of that week, things started looking up. I started spending more time in physical and occupational therapy, first learning how to hold myself up in a sitting position, kicking my legs, crawling and finally walking. I had been on my back for 3 straight weeks and hadn't had much to eat so I was very, very weak. But I really wanted to be able to do all things I had done before the accident so I kept trying. I had to re-learn how to swallow, cough and clear my throat. These sound like such basic things but they are absolutely vital to staying healthy and getting stronger. I started speech therapy and they are helping me re-learn how to talk and express myself. I've had many visitors from family and friends to teachers and classmates which helped keep my spirits up. Last week, the nurses thought I would be able to come home in 3-4 weeks. I finally got a day pass to go outside the hospital last weekend. I went to the zoo on Saturday with my parents and Jaxton. My favorite animal was the gorilla. On Sunday we went to the Discovery Museum and Sugarhouse Park. It was really hot but it felt so good to be outside in the fresh air. I've been working really hard in my therapies and I have great news...I'm coming home tomorrow!!! I can't wait to sleep in my own bed, eat good food, play with my toys and have all my favorite people close to me. I still have to be really careful, though. It takes a long time for a brain to heal and if I fall or hit my head I could fall back into a coma. I don't want that to happen. I like being awake. :) Here are a few pictures that my grandpa took yesterday...
This is my awesome physical therapist. She is so happy and positive and she knew I could get better and kept pushing me to try new things.
Me with the feeding tube...
Me without the feeding tube! Awww, that feels better. I know that you all have said many, many prayers for me and I'll never be able to thank you all. I know that Heavenly Father has been watching over me and I know that he does answer prayers. I know that the blessings I received in those first critical hours helped me to be at peace while my body was healing and I know that the doctors and nurses were also blessed so they could take care of me. I'm coming home and I can't wait to see you all!!! Love, Hannah

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hugs from Hannah

One of the things Hannah is known for is her hugs. She hugs all her former teachers and aids, her current teacher, her friends, classmates, friends of classmates, friends of friends, cousins, friends of cousins. You get the idea...she's a hugger. So it was such a great treat to walk in to her room Thursday and see her get off the couch, stand on her own, walk to us and give each of us a hug!!! I remember the last time we visited her about 2 weeks ago, she couldn't walk, talk, hold herself up in a sitting position, eat solid foods, smile or laugh. I was amazed to see her now doing all of those things! She is truly a miracle.
Not only was she talking, but she loves to call people on her mom's cell phone. She talked to Mr. Averett while all the teachers were in a faculty meeting a few days ago. I was amazed at how sharp her memory is. She named each of us and as soon as she saw Josie she got off the couch and looked through her books and papers. I wondered what she was looking for and then she found it. A Megamind coloring book...Josie's all-time favorite character. I couldn't believe that Hannah had remembered that and was so focused and determined on finding that coloring book to show Josie.
Hannah and Lindsey played game after game of Memory which totaled probably two hours. Hannah was really good. She beat Lindsey every game and was so delighted with each win. I'm going to have to work with Lindsey on that game. :) Lindsey and Hannah went to physical therapy together and Hannah got to do some new things like playing in the barrel and climbing and descending stairs. She practiced on the hospital stairs before heading to the Rehab Lab to play on their stairs. Her left-side coordination and strength doesn't match her right-side yet due to the brain damage, but if she keeps her determination and will up I know she'll be able to get that back.
Her OT came in after the PT was done and worked with Hannah on fine motor and cognitive skills. She showed Hannah a card with a bead pattern which Hannah had to replicate by choosing the correct shape and color and threading it on the string in the right order. She did great and progressed through the cards as they got more difficult.
We headed to the playroom to have some non-therapy fun. Linds and Hannah quickly found the Barbie house and were having a great time...
...until this little girl pushed her way into their game. Three's a crowd so the girls moved to the foosball table where Hannah won...again.
Hannah kept us very busy and by the end of our visit we were exhausted. I hope she slept as well as I did that night.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ladies Night Out!

Jaxton has taken karate from the Su Ha Ri Martial Arts Institute this year and the instructor, students and parents are so great to have organized a fundraiser for Hannah. They will be hosting a Women's Self-Defense and Awareness Seminar on Thursday, April 19 at 6pm at the Carbon Country Club.

Come and enjoy an evening of dinner provided by Carbon Country Club, and participate in a hands-on seminar on self-defense and awareness class taught by Martial Arts Instructor Mike Martak. Guest speaker from our local law enforcement, and a special gift for all participants.

Tickets will be sold as a pair for a fee of $60. They can be purchased at Wingers, Market Express Chevron, Market Express Sinclair and Carbon Country Club.

The Su Ha Ri Martial Arts Institute will be donating all proceeds to Hannah to help her recover from her accident. Your support is greatly appreciated!

For more information, call Telisse Allen at 650-5307 or Mike at 650-7575.

Hats ON for Hannah

Hats ON for Hannah Day at Creekview was very successful. The kids and teachers had a great time wearing their the hats last Friday. This is the group of girls who organized the event.

This is the principal, Mr Thomas, the school secretary, Mrs Jardine, and her husband who also works at the school. I love Mrs Jardine's hat. Everyone had a great time and it was a fun, heart-felt tribute to Hannah.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday is a Special Day

Saturday is a Special Day at Primary Children's. Family and friends from all over the surrounding states converge on the hospital for a weekend visit. For Hannah, it was no different. After an exhausting 3-hour long speech, physical, and occupational therapy session, the guests started to arrive. Notable moments in therapy: She remembers math (addition and multiplication) and made her way correctly through most of the alphabet. She picked up and began reading an I Spy book to her Mom, she crawled (on her own), and bowled. Her first approved Ride Pass may be as early as next week. Without getting too ahead of ourselves, it's hard not to imagine Hannah re-entering 2nd grade, along with her classmates.
When we arrived at the hospital today, we found Hannah exiting the playroom. On a Saturday, the playroom was very crowded and very loud. It didn't take long for Hannah to begin covering her ears and expressing her displeasure. Hannah went back to her room with her good friend Reese, and her brother Jaxton, in tow. The most noticeable difference today was the removal of her tracheotomy. Her words are more pronounced, the volume has increased, and they flow more freely.
The girls all took a turn, sitting next to Hannah and holding her hand, while they watched cartoons. As the others lost interest and began leaving the room, the nurses arrived to change Hannah's neck brace. There have been several procedures over the last few weeks that have been gut-wrenching to watch. This was no exception. When Hannah is reclined and cannot see what is about to happen, she becomes very anxious and upset. While this particular procedure was not as painful as others, it startled her, and she needed a lot of comfort from her mother and the nurses throughout the change, and afterwards.
Once the neck brace was changed, I thought it would be a good idea for Hannah to get out of that room and go for a ride. She was given a new wheelchair, a very standard one, for children who can hold themselves upright, as opposed to the much more intricate model she had been sporting the last week and a half. It's worth noting that she successfully pushes herself in the new wheelchair in short spurts. I loaded her up and we found the other kids back in the playroom. It was here she allowed me to hold her while she walked across the room. She tired quickly and asked to be in Mom's arms.
Then, Mom had a great idea. She asked Hannah if she would want to go down to the computers in the library and watch the CD of images Mr. Averett (1st grade teacher) had brought for Hannah. She was very excited to do this. When we returned to her room to get the video, the nurses mentioned that she may not be able to get into the library. Hannah immediately became animated, her words stuttering, but flowing. Her sentences were imperfect and hard to get out but she was confidently explaining to the nurses that she would get in the library to watch her pictures. She had done it before and would go again.
As we were waiting for the nurses to prepare her to go to the library, we made this small video of Hannah walking (attached). She also found the picture CD, even when her mother and I couldn't. When the nurse came in with her medicine, Hannah was sitting on my lap. She became upset when she could not reach her feeding tube, which had been flipped behind her neck. When I put the end of the tube back into her hand, she used all of her fingers to pop off the caps of her feeding tube. Turns out, she has become quite the helper, and likes to prepare her own tubes for medicine and feeding.
Hannah, her mom, and me went to the first floor to use the computers. Hannah efficiently removed the CD from the case, opened the CD drive on the computer, and loaded it. She played with the mouse for a moment to get it going before we intervened to help. The first run through, Hannah excitedly rambled off the names of each child that appeared on the screen. Anastasia and Felicity were particularly difficult but she knew them all by name. She seemed to remember many of the activities in the pictures by nodding or adding her own editorial.
Once finished, she was not ready to go. I asked her if she wanted to watch it again, to which she replied, "Yes." The second time through, the names of her classmates came more quickly and she smiled and laughed at many of the jokes we made about missing 1st grader teeth and red eyes. The closing screen is a letter from Mr. Averett to the parents of his 1st graders. I have included it at the bottom of this post. Hannah wanted me to read it out loud to her. As I did, I became choked up and it became harder for me to read. I looked at Hannah, fixated on the screen, and she had small tears welling up in the corners of her eyes. She bravely and discreetly used her small pointer fingers to wipe the tears from both of her cheeks. I asked, "Are those happy tears, Hannah?" She nodded with a strong chin. Seeing her emotion allowed me to begin to cry as well. After a few more sentences of the letter, her bravery gave way to deep sobs of sadness. You could see as her young mind and big heart took in the weight of what has happened to her and the loss she is feeling by not being with her fellow first graders. It was a rare moment of raw emotion from a little girl who somehow knows she is not where she needs to be. "Are you feeling sad, Hannah?" She confirmed that she was and her Mom held her and reassured her that she would be with them soon.
We exited the library and distracted her with the large fish hanging by the elevator doors. I tried convincing her they were real. She looked at me like I was dumb. As we entered her room, the Spaghetti-Os she had ordered for dinner had arrived. She is starting to try regular foods, all of them pureed. In my opinion, obliterating Spaghetti-Os does not affect the integrity of the product, and Hannah agreed. She ate them well.
As a family, we knew it was time to go. As usual, each of our girls told Hannah they loved her. When I expressed my love to her, she raised her fingers and kissed them and turned them my way. I responded, in Knott family tradition, by kissing the tips of my fingers, and throwing the kiss at her with force. Hannah's dad explained to her that by me throwing it at her, she would not be able to wipe it off. This explanation sent Hannah into an excited repeat cycle of reaching out, grabbing the kiss from the air, bringing the kiss to her lips, kissing her fingertips, and throwing it back at me. Like a broken record of the most perfect love song, she blew ten more kisses in robotic and determined fashion before the next bite of Spaghetti-Os smoothie interrupted her thoughts.

Mr. Averett's Letter to the Parents:

Dear Parents,

I give you back your child, the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature than she was then. Although she would have attained her growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch her personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development

I give her back reluctantly, for having spent nine months together in the narrow confines of a crowded classroom, we have grown close, have become a part of each other, and we shall always retain a little of each other. Ten years from now if we met on the street, your child and I, a light will shine to our eyes, a smile to our lips, and we shall feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.

We have lived, loved, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give her back I must. Take care of her, for she is precious. Remember that I shall always be interested in your child and her destiny, wherever she goes, whatever she does, whoever she becomes. Her joys and sorrows I’ll be happy to share.

I shall always be her friend.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fingernails, Puppets, and Poop

Tonight, Luka and I decided to sneak away and go visit Hannah alone. When we walked into Hannah's room, the first noticeable difference was Hannah's unencumbered arms and hands. She no longer has a splint on her broken right hand and she was eager to move them around to show us how well she can use them.
Hannah has been given a new tool to communicate and she has adapted to it well. She has a large card with pictures and words on it. They include TV, Music, Books. Blanket, Mom, Dad, I Hurt, Bathroom, etc. On the other side of the card are the words Yes and No. She navigates this card very well and will quickly point to what she would like or what she is feeling. It was a relief to see her so in control, quickly relaying to us any message she had.
The nurse on duty (Lacey) told us that Hannah had stood and taken a few assisted steps during physical therapy earlier in the day. I asked Hannah if she wanted to get out of bed and she quickly pointed to the Yes card. I picked her up and couldn't help but stand her on her feet to see for myself. She stood, as I balanced her lightly between my arms. Her X-rays show a stable and healing pelvic fracture and the nurse assured us that she will continue to practice standing and taking steps. Needless to say, I was incredibly encouraged and humbled at the thought that she may walk out of PCMC at the end of her stay. Anything is possible.
At the end of last week, we had brought Hannah some new nail polish. Her nails hadn't been done since before the accident and were in need of some attention. I was so excited to arrive tonight and see that they were waiting for me to paint them. She briefly watched a show with Luka laying next to her, while I painted her toenails. Then, Luka found some adorable Lalaloopsy dolls she had been given and opened them. Luka placed the dolls in Hannah's hands and together, they moved the dolls and accessories around the bed.
When Davy returned from dinner, Luka asked to go up to the phenomenal play room on the 3rd floor to make something for Hannah. Davy walked her upstairs while I finished Hannah's nails. Hannah became increasingly agitated once Luka left and wanted to follow her. When I asked her if she wanted to go with to the playroom, she rapidly pointed to Yes on her card. I loaded her up in her wheelchair and off we went. When we arrived at the playroom, Luka was in the middle of making a felt cat puppet. We let Hannah pick out which color cat she wanted and I thought I would have her try to make the puppet. To my surprise, she would squeeze the glue bottle I handed to her on each piece of the felt and stick the pieces together quickly and accurately to create the puppet. We made a bit of a mess with the glue but I was very impressed at Hannah's fine motor skills, equally, with both hands.
At the same time, her nurse made a poster of her name. When he showed it to her, I asked her what the poster said and pointed to her lips. She quietly replied, "Hannah." Whether she can read or she has been able to memorize her name, I was very heartened to see her know who she is.
I thought it would be a good idea to have Hannah make the ever popular silly putty and squeeze it between her hands. As we stirred the solution and dumped it into the plastic bag, I exclaimed, "Look, the putty is doing a blue poop into the bag!" Hannah surprised us all by laughing, audibly and physically, for several seconds. She gave us a big smile and her laugh was priceless. Wondering if it was a fluke, I finished stirring the purple putty and exclaimed again, "Now we're doing a big purple poop!" Once again, she laughed heartily. Turns out, she is like the rest of us and really enjoys some good old-fashioned potty humor. Witnessing these moments of personality, humor, and timing are very, very important to us and we treasure them.
I gave her one putty in each hand and told her to squeeze them together as hard as she could. She quickly raised each hand in front of her face and squeezed the two puttys with all of her might. She then relaxed them and we made a big mess of the putty all over her blanket and legs. Oh well, it was worth it and very funny.
When we got back to the room, Hannah pointed at Luka and the picture of books on her card. Luka brought over a selection of books and read to her while I painted her fingernails. She was calm and happy and yawning.
It was a great, fun visit with Hannah and if we could, I would take Luka there every night. There is something very special about how Hannah's accident is changing all of us. Watching our children serve and seeing them have the desire to serve, changing perspectives on what is most important and what we value, and gaining this long-term patience and hope for what is to come in the years ahead is making us better each day. We will be forever grateful to Hannah for showing us who we are at our core. Saturday's visit can't come soon enough and next time, I am bringing the fart machine.

Please donate if you have the ability to do so. The money we are raising (in the upper right hand corner) will only be used for therapies that will help take Hannah from point A to point B; specific therapies that will increase her quality of life dramatically. We are researching and analyzing different programs and clinics for her every day to keep her progressing. Please be a part of that process. Thank you so very much.