October 2, 2016 – 6 years
The anniversary date always brings a flood of emotions. That’s not to say that everyday living with TBI doesn’t stimulate flashbacks as well as moments of joy and grief. The funny thing about surviving and living with TBI are the emotions that spontaneously drown us like an unexpected undertow. Sometimes the hardest part of our recovery is moving forward. Our life line ~ celebrate and focus on each achievement. It fuels our daily mantra NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER GIVE IN.

Let’s begin the celebration with the major accomplishments from September.

The 6th Annual Care for Corey half marathon was held a few weeks ago. How was Team Corey created? My niece Christy was 8 months pregnant with number 2, her husband was running the Philly Rock & Roll Half Marathon and Corey helped to chase my niece’s oldest son during the race in 2010. Corey commented, ‘I don’t think I could ever run a half marathon’. The ladies made a pact to train together; to help Christy lose her post-delivery weight and prepare Corey to run the following year. Corey’s accident changed their plans. Christy and her sisters decided to create the annual fundraiser to run for Corey’s recovery until she can one day run with them.

This year, Corey stood at the finish line to cheer for the runners of Team Corey. We are very grateful to our family and friends for continuing to support her. The funds raised help us pay for therapy and therapy tools critical for her long-term rehab. Last year’s race helped pay for 2 trips to Texas and our House Harness…for those of you watching Corey’s videos on FaceBook, you can see the value of each dollar raised!

We also had the fortunate opportunity to visit with my father and Ginny in Ocean City, New Jersey. The house they rented posed a new challenge; a full flight of stairs to enter the house and a second full flight of stairs to reach the bedrooms. It’s important to note, Corey has only climbed a full flight of steps 4 or 5 times since her accident; we can occasionally handle 4-5 steps. You all know how determined she is and she wasn’t going to let stairs keep her from enjoying time at the beach. She managed 2 full flights TWICE a day! Each flight was hard work but we balanced her soreness and stamina in order to also enjoy time on the beach and the boardwalk.

The beach was accessible with a rented beach wheelchair from Mobility on Wheels. The arm rails could be removed from the buggy in order to transfer. Corey stood at the side of the chair, sat and we lifted her legs to swing her into the chair. Surprisingly, the inflated oversize wheels not only helped to cross the sand but the back wheels assisted with the ease of steering as well. Even Papa at 91 could push Corey to the water’s edge!

The highlight of the visit was Corey’s determination to walk on the boardwalk; her first attempt since the summer of 2010. Day 1, she walked one block, 589’. We were elated…Corey was furious stopping short, banging her cane on the boards.
M-what’s the matter?
C-these people are pissing me off!
M-(rapidly thinking of the hurdles that block her concentration) is it the crowds? the noise? or the people rushing by you? Is it affecting your balance?
C-NO, I hate that they CAN WALK and I USED TO be like them!
M-(somewhat relieved and surprised it had nothing to do with the usual TBI challenges) …that’s totally normal…keep walking. The more we walk the sooner you’ll get rid of that cane. You got this.
C-yeah, but I don’t like it!
A few days later, she wanted to try again. I reminded her of the distance she achieved earlier that week. C-I want to go longer!
She looked straight forward, no talking, not paying attention to any passer-by and nailed it…800’!

Our home exercises and harness work are the key reasons Corey’s balance and stamina are stronger enabling longer distances for her walking and standing. This week, Corey stood (on/off) in our kitchen to work with Philadelphia Chef Dave Allen. Chef Dave will be part of additional footage shot by Jon Ristaino. Jon is a childhood friend of Caitlin’s. He received his degree in Journalism from Temple and many of you have seen two of the short pieces Jon filmed and produced about Corey on YouTube. His full length documentary will intertwine how we use food for Corey’s recovery from Brain Injury along with why food heals and nurtures humans. Corey and Dave had an amazing day. The two collaborated on the menu, shopped at a local co-op food market for the ingredients and prepared a delicious meal for our neighbors. The highlights beyond the taste of the food, was Corey’s bending to reach flour on the bottom shelf and lifting it to the cart. Her ability to balance without holding the cart, bend her legs to squat and reach with both hands to lift a dozen eggs (without scrambling them!). Together they made homemade pasta and the grand finale; while in the harness, without the cane, Corey carried each plate from the island to the kitchen table to serve our guests. I’m so glad Jon captured each new first on film. Keep posted about the premiere date in March and you can follow production at www.Farmcatmedia.com

There were left-overs and Corey chose to give one to Natalie, her PT at Bryn Mawr. Natalie and Corey worked together for 4.5 years beginning at Corey’s admission to the acute care. We entered the out-patient entrance and heard Natalie’s voice down the hall. Corey stood at the entrance and waited as I ran down the hall to call Natalie. She came around the corner to see Corey standing independently (our aide stood on guard near her) holding her wrapped culinary dish. “Corey has a surprise for you”. I ran back to walk with Corey but I didn’t hold her gait belt. Corey walked with her cane, unassisted 40’ to deliver her surprise. Natalie stood speechless. After the first initial steps, her hand covered her mouth as tears of amazement and joy began to uncontrollably fall. Corey smiled with pride, she was unaware it was not the gift she carried that Natalie would savor but this long awaited moment. Natalie embraced Corey and whispered, “You’ve worked so hard for this”.

Now we begin year 6. We realize the days passing on the calendar are the only part of this journey we can control. Where we go or how long it will take or what abilities Corey will regain are still unknown. We still have a lot of work to do but we promise to continue to focus on the achievements when the struggles overwhelm us. Thank you for your continued prayers, love and friendship. Your support as we share our life gives strength to us and our mantra, xoxo