Day 9 – Caleb’s First Step…And Caleb’s First Kiss

Caleb's Dad ~ 19th November 2010

It’s hard to believe that it is that time again. As I sit here in my chair getting ready for the two hour break we get into between the morning and afternoon therapy sessions, I sip from a holiday decorated can of coca cola.  Is it really that time again? When we began this journey we were only just beginning to think about what the kids were going to be for Halloween.  It was pretty easy this year.  Colby wanted to be Thomas the Train, as he does every year (which is easier on us because we have his old costume!) Caleb started wanting to be like his brother in all things, so when we asked him what he wanted to be, he said “Thomas Train!”  It was so cute, because this year we were going to have two little Thomas the Trains running around.  But again, it is so hard to believe that we are nearing Thanksgiving and its soon to be Christmas!  It is difficult knowing that we will be spending Thanksgiving away from home.  We would certainly rather be in the comforts of home and family, but regardless of where we are, Thanksgiving will have a new meaning for all of us this year.  We have so very much to be thankful for.

The therapists have told us that the goal for us is to be here for the next three weeks and then to be released to go home sometime before Christmas.  This is a tentative goal to be sure and as we have found out these time frames are very fluid and can be changed from week to week.  I spoke not long ago about little Isaac, the young 9 year old in the room next to us. He was scheduled to have to go home in a week, however he started improving this week and due to the positive changes they were seeing they approved him to stay a few more weeks. Go Isaac! 

This led me to worry a bit about Caleb’s therapy and why exactly they wanted to get us on out of here in such a short time frame.  Was Caleb improving so rapidly that they thought he would be able to meet all of their goals in time? Or was he not improving as much as they had hoped and they thought that this was all they were going to be able to do with him?  Or worse yet, was it a matter of insurance, seeing my insurance said they would only pay for 28 days of inpatient therapy?  I spoke with one of the therapists today and she stated that the way it works for younger children, is they want to get the basics down as much as possible, get them a good foundation to work with, and then get them off to the home environment.  This third stage (after the Intensive Care and Intensive Therapy stages), allows the child to be in the most familiar environment and is some of the best therapy for getting the child to come around and recover. The thought of being able to go home and go through our own doors, into our own living room, letting our feet touch our own floor—the thought is scary and exciting all at the same time.  It is scary because we are coming back forever changed since the day we left.  Exciting because we get to have the beauty and blessings of actually going home with our precious little Caleb, and all of our boys!

In the meantime, we are excited to say that Colby and Connor will be joining us beginning next Tuesday.  They will be staying with us, along with some friends and family throughout the week of Thanksgiving.  Personally I can’t wait until we all get to play on the floor, and have some play time!  I really think that this time it is going to be good for the boys because not only will Colby be able to see Caleb and see him actually be able to smile and play a little, but Caleb will actually be able to interact with Colby and see his baby brother Connor. Fun times are coming, and we can’t wait! 

We had a lot of significant things happen today.  In speech therapy, the therapist did the chopped food test with Caleb and he did so good that she said that he can go and head move on to the next level of eating above chopped, which is soft toddler meals!  He is actually able to eat chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes, and mac n’ cheese! With today’s news the doctor ordered that all tube feeding be stopped.  In his own words he said, “Your own your own little man.”  We also received news that Caleb may be able to have his feeding tube taken out after about 6 weeks instead of the 3 months as first anticipated.

In physical therapy, in both the morning and afternoon sessions, we passed another milestone.  When the therapist got him up to work on his walking, all she had to do was hold his hips and give him a little support.  Big news alert!!! He was actually able to lift his legs and put one foot in front of the other. Caleb took is first official steps, using his own leg muscles, initiation, and completion of movement.  He also did a lot better with the “scissoring” that he was doing (crossing feet as he walked).  As of right now, his right foot is stronger and he is able to plant his right foot pretty easily.  As he goes to pick up his left foot it gets caught on the ground as he is still weak in his left ankle. Overall he is doing great and the therapists continue to be impressed at the positive progress that he is making with his walking. 

Caleb also had the chance to ride the tricycle again, and this time, not only did he peddle by himself, but he also had moments where he would really push with his feet and get some speed up.  One thing that has become clear is that Caleb loves the tricycle.  I think I know what Caleb might be getting from Santa this year.  ;)

In occupational therapy, again in both the morning and afternoon sessions, we worked on much of the same kinds of things that we have been working with over the last few days.  We worked on short and tall kneeling on his knees, getting up on all fours and playing on all fours, rocking back and forth on all fours, transitioning between floor positions, and playing with toys with his left hand and arm. Caleb still favors his right side considerably and still wants to use his right side.  But again, he is making progress and it is something that is just going to take time. Again overall he is making wonderful progress.  In the words of John, his occupational therapist, he is “blazing the trail.”

We had our first peer group activity this afternoon where he got to play with a little girl near his age.  He sat on the mat with toys all around him, still unable to see most of what was going on.  But regardless of his sight he still tried to participate as much as he could.  He placed his hands on the little monster truck we would put in front of him. He placed his hands and picked up the blocks and placed his hands on the ball as it was rolled to him.  Caleb is still going through that baby stage where he wants to put everything in his mouth, so every time he would get his hands on something he would bring it to put it in his mouth. The therapist reassured us that that is something they see all the time and it is just a phase. 

After peer group we had one more session with the speech therapist.  This time instead of focusing on eating (which he did get to eat a little during play time), the therapist wanted to really begin working with Caleb on purposeful play.  They want to see him initiate actions that have to do with his play time.  So she brought in a toy piano, musical ring stacking toy, and a toy that had pop goes the weasel-like animals on it when you twist, turn, and push different knobs. He moved his hands along the latter two toys, being somewhat purposeful in his play with them, but it was the first toy, the piano, that he liked the most.  As I would support his elbows, placing his hands on the piano, I would encourage the movement by placing his hands on the keys, letting hear the sounds.  After that he would begin to bang on the piano with his hands—mostly his right hand, and makes noises all by himself.  This was great, and exactly what the therapist wanted to see him do. This will be another therapy that we will incorporate into our play time. 

Big news alert! In the midst of speech therapy, as the therapist was looking for purposeful actions and reactions, at one point as we were playing with Caleb mommy asked Caleb to kiss her.  She said, “Caleb, give mommy a kiss,” and without hesitation he reached over, grabbed mommy’s cheek, and pulled her in for a big open mouth kiss! Again, like I said before, Caleb is going through a baby stage right now, so his kisses are a lot like my 9 month old Connor, nice, big, open, and wet! J But still, it was purposeful and exactly what the therapist wanted to see, plus we got to see Caleb do his first kiss.

At the close of the evening we took an excursion down to the cafeteria.  It was nice to be able to sit around a table for the first time in over a month and actually hold hands and say a prayer.  As a custom in our family we try every chance we get to actually sit around the dinner table with the TV off, say and prayer, and eat and talk together.  I realize that it is quite old fashioned in the fast paced society that we live in, but we have found that it really does work for us as it gives us a chance to connect with each other and our boys—even if we are sometimes dodging flying mashed potatoes or picking up corn on the cob off the floor. Actually my big screen TV that I used to be so proud of years ago died on us about a year ago and we found that not having the TV wasn’t that big of a deal.  When I played on the floor with the boys there was far less distraction, and I was able to be far more present with the boys.  So there the TV sits till this day, waiting for the $120 part to fix it…but hey…what’s the hurry? J

After dinner we strolled over to the gift shop, a small hospital boutique that was filled with Christmas decorations of all kinds.  I felt a sense of sadness.  You have to understand I am a very sentimental man and I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve.  I saw all the red and green garland, fancy gold trimmed ornaments, and boxes wrapped up like presents ready to be placed under the Christmas tree, and I thought back to last Christmas when my boys had just gotten to the age where they get so excited to see what Santa has brought them. There they came, Colby first bouncing down the steps that lead into the living room.  Caleb, almost 2 years old at the time, came crawling down the stairs, backwards, and mommy was close by making sure he came down safely.  I loved seeing their faces when they came around and saw the Christmas tree with lights gleaming and casting their jubilant shadows and multicolored lights throughout the room.  I thought about that smile, of Colby, and Caleb, the one that you see in all the pictures, and the one that has been shown so much in the newspapers and on the TV news recently.  I wondered what this Christmas would be like.  Would we be here still?  Would we be home?  What would it be like? Will he be able to see the Christmas tree with all the pretty lights?  Would he be able to play with his brothers and enjoy the sound and sights of tearing open a Christmas present? I know these are all things that should not be on my mind right now, and I know that I should simply be thankful for the fact that he is alive and getting better. And trust me, I am! But I still think about these kinds of things all the time. 

Well as would be the case, daddy got bored with window shopping pretty quick, so Caleb and I let mommy have her fun and we went over to the outside sitting area in the hospital lobby.  I parked Caleb’s wheelchair next to one of the plush chairs outside the boutique and sat down.  I played with Caleb, tickling him, laughing with him, and doing what I have been doing a lot of recently which is trying to tease words or sounds out of him. 

One of the things that he and I always did, especially at night time right before bed, is I would pick him up, hold him tight in the darkness of his room. I would give him kisses and spin him around a little making him laugh.  And then we would say our prayers, and then like an airplane, he would go in for a crash landing in his bed (which he always loved).  He would then ask me for a “tuck tuck,” which in his words meant he wanted me to tuck him in.  I loved tuck tuck and so did he because it meant another short round of tickle time.  I would run my fingers up his sides saying, “tuck tuck…tuck tuck” while tickling him as I went.  And of course he would giggle all the way. When it was time to say our final goodnight, I would hold his check and say, “I…..love…..YOU!!!!!!!” What I would do is say the “I” with anticipation and increasing loudness leading up to the “Love,” again getting even louder, building the whole phrase to an irresistible crescendo. And then at the very top of the exclamation I would stop, right before the “You,” ….and at that point Caleb would join in and shout at the top of his lungs, “YOU!!!”  and then giggle and giggle. 

This time we were playing the same game in the middle of the hospital lobby.  I looked at Caleb and said, “I.” He smiled really big. And then with a louder voice I said “Love,” again his smile getting bigger and bigger. And then I waited….and waited.  I could tell Caleb knew that there was something that was supposed to come after the “Love” and he knew that it was his queue.  He opened his mouth to say the words, but nothing came out. I quickly praised him for his efforts and completed the phrase for him with a nice big happy, “YOU!!!!!!”  He smiled and giggled as always.

 I had been a little jealous that mommy had gotten the first kiss earlier, so I thought I would give it a try.  “Hey Caleb, can daddy have a kiss.”  My heart melted as he reached over, grabbed my cheek, and gave me too, a nice, big, open mouth, wet kiss! J  My heart went to the races and I kissed him back.

As I sit here a few minutes before midnight, my heart is glad.  I love him so dearly.  I love all my boys, and my wife is the greatest woman I have ever known.  She has been a rock and a support throughout this entire process.  And I know that this journey truly is only beginning, but tonight I sit in introspection. I ask the question yet again…why? I asked that question initially at the beginning and with an entirely different set of emotions.  But now I ask the question in the midst of an attitude of hope, even joy.  I know God and have walked with him for many years.  I have seen the way he acts in the affairs of man and I know that his ways are always higher than our ways.  We ultimately are concerned with all the things that we define to make us happy, but God, though he enjoys our happiness, is not ultimately concerned in this life to make us happy.  We tend to define happiness framed within the natural framework of life—healthy bodies, financial stability, a bright and expected future.  But God is ultimately concerned about two things in this life.  One to introduce the beauty of his son Jesus to a world that needs him, and two, to bring those who are his in a closer relationship with him, “to conform them into the image of his son.” That’s it.  All things, whether good or bad fit within the framework of that over arching narrative of God’s grace and love.  All things truly do work together for the good of those who love the lord.  We just have to remember that we don’t get to define the good. God does. And we have to remember that whatever God does choose to cause, allow, or deny, is ultimately for our good and for the good of furthering the message of Christ.  It’s a hard message to hear and even harder message to understand sometimes.

I say all this to say (and believe me, I am “preaching” again to myself here) that I have to step back from this and ask the question why?  If I look at this whole thing, this has been one very large encounter with God.  I am not among those who feel the absence of God in the midst of calamity.  To use the words of King David, I know that in the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us.  And as we have gone through this, we have felt the comfort both his rod and his staff. There is a whole other story that has yet to be told, about how God prepared us for what happened as much as a year before it ever occurred, and we didn’t even know it at the time. There have been many of what my wife and I call “fingerprints,”—that is, happenings that are too much for coincidence, that have been confirmed over and over again, in many different ways, that point to the hand of God moving and doing things in the midst of everything that has happened.

I distinctly remember reading once Facebook post where someone was talking about a minister who had a son that too, had been near death.  He mentioned that the father, in his plea to God to spare his son’s life, vowed to tell the story about their faith and their son’s miraculous healing year after year, if God would but heal their son.  God listened to his prayers and gave his son healing. And until this day, that minister still tells the story of what God did and he glorifies God year after year, retelling the story from beginning to end.  I remember after hearing that story that it really impressed me to do the same.  I pled with God in tears to spare my son, and vowed to tell his story if he would but glorify himself through it and spare Caleb.  I remember it was about 2 or 3 days after we got the news that Caleb would most likely survive, that God brought that vow to remembrance. I looked at my wife and told her that I knew what I had to do from now on.  She asked me what I meant and I reminded her about that Facebook post.  She immediately knew what I meant and said that she felt a movement on her heart in the same direction—that somehow in some way, God was wanting Caleb’s story to be told and retold, about how God was in the midst of it, how he orchestrated it from beginning to end, and how he was and continues to be glorified in it. 

So taking that step back, I am in awe of what is before us.  I don’t know what it all means now, but I know this, that God is awesome and there is none like him.  I am speechless before him.  His love his fierce and his ways are too unfathomable.  How can we but humbly walk before him, and love him with all of our might?

To close, I ask that you pray for Caleb’s eyesight, his speech, and for him to be more aware of his surroundings, that he be more alert, and be more aware of his left side. Also please pray for his ability to walk.

Blessings.

094Would you consider adding Caleb to your church and personal prayer lists? Also a fund has been set up to help offset Caleb's ongoing medical expenses and related costs. Thank you for your love and support! Donations via PayPal can be made by clicking here: 

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15 Comments

  1. Sònia de Jaime (Barcelona, Spain)

    November 20th, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Happy to hear good news everyday!
    You know? I’m so happy too for Isaac. You asked to pray for him, and now things are getting better! I’m so happy for him, and for his family.
    keep strong!

  2. Sònia de Jaime (Barcelona, Spain)

    November 20th, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Happy to hear good news everyday!
    You know? I’m so happy too for Isaac. You asked to pray for him, and now things are getting better! I’m so happy for him, and for his family.
    keep strong!

  3. Tammy Cagle

    November 20th, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Words can’t describe how amazing this post is. First, I am in awe of what God is doing in Caleb’s life. He is making improvements everyday and that is such a blessing.
    I understand how you feel when you think about the holidays. We all know that you are thankful that he is alive, but you love him and worry about him. This is something that any parent would wonder about with all that you and your family have been through. Don’t feel guilty for wondering. Thinking about his future just reassures that you are a loving and caring parent.
    I love hearing about the kisses and the “I love you” game. I bet there isn’t much of anything that would melt your heart easier than a kiss from that little man. Just think, it won’t be long until he is talking along with you in the “I love you ” game.
    I find myself asking the “why” question about what happened to Caleb several time a day, and I have never met him. I can not imagine how many times you have asked that question. I do know that God is in control all of the time, and when we are weak he is with us the most. Your faith has brought your little man a long way. I am confident that you will go even farther than you can even imagine. Like I have said before, God has great plans for Caleb, you and your family.
    I continue to pray for Caleb and his recovery. He is the strongest little man I have ever seen. Prayers going up in New Johnsonville.
    As I have told you many times, THANK YOU for sharing Caleb with us. As you already know, my life and the life of my family has been forever changed by Caleb. So many lives have been touched by Caleb, and there are many more lives he is going to touch before God is done working his miracles. Stay strong and remember there are LOTS of people that pray for you and your family everyday:-)

  4. Shannon E. Daniels

    November 20th, 2010 at 2:17 am

    It’s a daily challenge to see if I can get through a post without crying. When I came to the news about Isaac, not only did I cry … I bawled! Thanks and praise be to God for holding that child, as well. I picture a huge glow around that floor of the hospital, with folks literally drawn to it, wondering what’s going on!

    And, Tim, if you don’t want the food to get cold for the Thanksgiving meal, you might want to let someone else (Colby?) give thanks! You just have wayyyy too much to be thankful for! =D. Love you guys!

  5. Chuck Payne

    November 20th, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Tim, it is alright and it is normal to consider the “why”, while continuing to trust God in ALL things and for this SO MANY of us are so proud of you and Tiffany, both.

    Any of us, as parents, would have to consider the “why”, but in knowing what God Has Done thru all of this is truly a story to be remembered, acknowledged and conveyed, so that MANY will know the presence of God… and thru ALL of this MANY have known God’s Presence in a much greater capacity than before.

    Brother, while reading your introspection and considerations, it has become clear to me what I must do… I WILL continue to offer many prayers for Caleb, but please know that I will commit to giving greater prayerful attention to Tiffany and yourself. I Pray that God Will Continue to Provide a Greater Peace and Greater Strength, to see you through each day and to help you endure.

    Abundantly, may God Continue to Bless you all… while knowing that MANY have assumed this journey with you and are committed to seeing it through.

  6. Tammy Jackson

    November 20th, 2010 at 8:57 am

    As always thank you for your post. Our church prayed for Caleb”s sight Wednesday night and we do know God is able. I will continue in prayer for you all. I can’t help but to think that, that kiss must have been one of the best kisses you guys have gotten in a while. I have been blessed with getting to keep my youngest grandson this week. Every time I get to hold him and snuggle with him I thank God and ask God to please continue touching Caleb and all his needs.

  7. November 20th, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Amazing post! Tim, just know you are doing exactly what the Lord wants and asks of you.

    Thank you Tim for keeping us updated on Caleb. I, with my 7mo old, pray for him every night :-)

    So glad to hear the good news!!

  8. jerry & betty patterson

    November 20th, 2010 at 10:53 am

    So happy & thankful to hear of Caleb’s progress.

    Just Praying here and giving thanks to God,
    who always hears us.

  9. Theresa Scantland

    November 20th, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Tim I have asked the Lord myself why did it had to happed to a baby, your family has changed me so much these last few weeks, I’ve prayed hard and I’ve cried when I’ve lifted Caleb up to our Lord, for you see Tim I’ve been sick for a long time and praying for Baby Caleb has made me see that our Lord does answer our prayers, I’ve heard from you and Tiffany about the things Caleb is doing, where they thought would take longer for him to do, but people all over the world started praying to Our Lord and looked what happen, (Our God is an Awsome God)
    Lord we lift Baby Caleb up to you to heal his eye sight, speech, and strength to walk, and please Dear Lord give him strength to his muscle tone on his right side so he can have better control oh Lord we Pray this in your Sweet and Loving Name Amen
    We Love You Baby Caleb

  10. Heather Centracchio

    November 20th, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I agree that Caleb’s story is meant to inspire and bring people closer to god.You are inspiring me to be a better parent and a better leader. It is so easy to give up and wonder if god hears you sometimes, but with Caleb it is obvious. I am so happy to see his progress every day. It is almost like his physical healing is healing the souls of others. I do not doubt Caleb will get better.. I continue to pray every day for his 100% healing.

  11. November 20th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    What a beautiful chapter. I am printing it to share with my friends. Thank you for your faith and inspiration. Your family is amazing. I hope to meet you someday. Caleb is in my constant thoughts and prayers. He is like a bright star reflecting God’s love onto all of us.

  12. Wendy Gray

    November 20th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Dear Tim and Tiffany,
    We heard about Caleb’s accident from our friend Paige, who was a few steps behind you when it occurred. We were heartsick to hear of his injury and have been thrilled to hear of his rapid progress! We and our church have prayed many prayers for Caleb and your family, and will continue to pray. My husband and I have a son that has been brain-injured from birth, though we didn’t find out until he was eight months old. A lot of what you posted here about God and why these things happen really resonates with what we have come to believe and understand too. Thank you for being bold enough to share your story with so many. We’ve been doing therapy with our son at home for two and a half years, and reading your blog is an inspiration to me to be faithful in doing it, but has also given me some ideas to try with Chase. The things your son has done in a week or so, our son has been working on for a couple of years — his progress is slow, but steady. Over the summer, my husband read a book called “The Brain that Changes Itself”, and found the first few chapters to be extremely helpful and informative. I was reminded of it because of what you wrote a couple of days ago about Isaac, whose progress has slowed considerably. It seems that brain-injured people often hit plateaus where they seem to stop making progress, but it is during these times that the brain is consolidating what it has learned thus far and will begin to make noticeable progress again in the future. So if a brain-injured person’s progress seems to level off, those doing the therapy shouldn’t lose hope but keep pressing on, realizing that more tangible progress is coming. This has been helpful to us as we do therapy with our son, realizing that all the therapy we do is reinforcing the creation of new neural pathways and is still helping his brain to heal. We wish you all the best, and our hearts are definitely with you in this difficult journey you’re on. But, more importantly, God’s heart is with you too…as well as His strength and His healing power — both physically and spiritually!

  13. Jennifer Austin

    November 21st, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Hi, my name is Jennifer and i just happened to see a post about your son on a friend’s facebook. I just want to say that i have watched and read all the info about Caleb and I am praying for your son and your family. I want to encourage people if they can to donate to Caleb’s cause. I know that it must be an awful thing to have to deal with and I am thinking of you often. Keep strong and know that there is a higher power at work.
    Jennifer A.

    • Tim Brown

      November 21st, 2010 at 7:18 pm

      Thank you Jennifer. Blessings to you and your family.

  14. Kevin Thompson

    November 21st, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Tim,

    Thank you for sharing your journey through this so openly. You’re telling of it is beautiful — I’m full of delight and grief at the same time. As I read about Caleb giggling and kissing you, I can’t help but think about the first few days after the accident, hearing about the extent of the injury, calling the PICU throughout the day just to see if he was still there, praying like crazy, hearts heavy with grief for you and your family. And now, to hear of him giggling and kissing you, it seems unbelievable!

    Kevin

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