Friday, September 30, 2011

Coming Back Amid Laughter and Tears

Thursday Nicole asked Jeff is anyone else was hurt in the car accident.  He told her, "No, YOU were hurt in a motorscooter accident."

Friday Carole laid down next to her and at Nicole's request, told her what had happened.  Nicole talked to us a lot this day.  Her voice is high-pitched, soft and breathy but she was using it to interact with us more than she has since the accident.  Nicole remembered that she, Carole and Rustin had gone to dinner at the DoDo Restaurant in Sugarhouse for dinner.  Then to Red Mango where she remembered getting coconut yogurt for dessert.  She even remember riding past Dr. Van Slooten's chiropractic office but nothing after that.  After that was the accident.  We have been told that she probably will not remember it.  I think this is a blessing.  She also told Carole that during her therapy session when they told her that it was September 27th and 28th, she thought they were pulling her leg.  How could it be the end of September?  September had just barely begun for her.

I was with her Friday afternoon and evening.  She was becoming more and more aware of herself and what had happened to her.  Most of her head was shaved for the two brain surgeries.  Her face has been totally rebuilt in another surgery.  At Rustin's request, they left some long hair at the very back of her head.  So Nicole has been sporting a "mullet".  The icky part of this is that she hasn't been able to wash her hair.  During the coma and being in bed for 4 weeks, she developed a dredlock in the back of her remaining hair.  Jeff called it her "dreadful lock".  When she finally became aware of it on Friday she made us cut it out.  Then she was able to shower and wash her hair.  Clean hair feels so good.

After showering she flopped back into her hospital bed and announced in her tiny voice, "My armpits are all hairy and gross."  So for those of you who were wondering, yes, armpit hairs grow even while you are in a coma.  Straight away Rustin and Carole went to work on her.  Carole shaved her legs with this tiny little safety razor.  Rustin was drying between her toes - and Nicole laughed!  It tickled!  It was actually a high-pitched giggle but it was wonderful to hear.  We used the lovely lotions and treatments that dear ones have brought to her.  She told us she felt like she was at the spa.

Earlier that afternoon, two of her lifelong best friends came to visit.  They were delighted to find her awake and their love and enthusiasm for her healing filled the room.  Graciously their visit was not overly long.  Shortly after they left, I looked at Nicole.  I saw quiet tears coming down her face.  I imagine that she is coming to a realization of what happened and that she is now feeling the outpouring of profound love coming to her from so many she loves.  Acknowledging  all this within just a few hours was a lot to absorb.

The highlight of the day for me was hearing Nicole tell about Rustin.  For those who aren't aware, this sweet man has not left Nicole's side for any length of time since the accident.  Since she came out of the coma, he has slept in her hospital room every night.  He has done everything for her; including most of her nursing care.  He has carefully monitored her pain medication to make sure she hasn't suffered unnecessarily.  Carole told me that if she ever has to be in the hospital; she wants Rustin to come and take care of her.  Nicole's physical therapist told me that she had seen devoted husbands before, but nothing can match Rustin.  He has been ever-caring, ever-tender, ever-present.

Nicole is just beginning to recognize this.  She told me, "Everybody at this hospital thinks Rustin is wonderful.  They think he is Han Solo, the coolest guy in the galaxy.  They think he's like Luke Skywalker, who uses the Force."   Her comments are very pre-accident and now post-accident Nicole.

Rustin's is not the only hero.  Since her accident, someone in the family has been there with her 24/7.  I must mention her brother, Clark, who took nighttime duty every night to be with her while she was in ICU for two weeks.  Some of these nights she was peaceful; many she was not.  And her sisters, Carole and Amanda, who sometimes came to be with Clark and have often gone to do nighttime duty since she left ICU with Rustin.

Rustin's family has also been stellar.  His Mom & her husband come almost every evening.  Many times I find his sister and brother there.  I know his Dad has come from out of town to visit at least twice.  They are wonderful, supportive people we have been blessed to get to know well.  They have been with us through this adversity.

John 14: 8  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  Nicole has never been alone.  

Rustin Update for September 30th

Yesterday Nicole had her swallow test.  She passed everything but thin liquids:)  Again, thank you for your continued prayers.  For those of you that have visited and Nicole was sleeping, just keep on trying.  Ask those who caught her awake, it is so worth it.  We are trying to keep her evening strolls as consistent as we can.  Lately, it seems like 7:30 to 7:45 pm is the best time to show up.  Keep on praying for a full recovery.  Thanks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Force is with her - Finally, she can swallow a drink of water!

Yesterday morning I got this text from Rustin, "Nicole just swallowed some ice water for Megan during speech therapy!!!  She did it two more times after that too.  Very exciting; she is on her way."
Just try to imagine not having a drink for water for 23 days.  Think how parched your throat and mouth would be and how good some ice water would taste.  Nicole can tell you - almost.  She has begun talking and interacting with us a little more using a soft breathy voice.  But she is talking to us!  Hurray!  She seems to be more cognizant of who we are and when we are there and it is starting to feel like Nicole is with us again.

Thank you, thank you for your prayers in Nicole's behalf.  On Sunday several brethren from the Bonneville Halfway House Branch, where Jeff fulfills his church calling, came up to me and told me they had been praying for Nicole.  These men are humble souls and no strangers to hard times and troubled pasts. I felt great empathy from them; I'm sure their prayers have been heard.

Our artist friend, Joe MacKay, took the poster that everyone signed at our home for Nicole and added some "forceful"  design to it.  Yoda's words to Nicole, "Recover, you must!" She IS recovering and we acknowledge how much prayers have been part of that process.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rustin Update for September 24th

Yesterday was such a great day.  Nicole had an appointment with an ENT doctor.  Good news; neither of her ear drums are punctured or ruptured.  Her vocal chords are intact but movement on the right side is weak  She has fluid in her middle ears so they will not be able to test her hearing until that has resolved.

Rehab is going well; she improves every day.  In therapy she is starting to be able to say more words.  She even said a couple of sentences today.

The highlight of the week was when she kicked a soccer ball around with some of her favorite soccer buddies.  We will try to get the video out there.

Prayer-wise this is where we are now:
1.  There is a wound on top of her head that needs healing
2.  Pray for the bones in her ear to be protected and that the fluid will drain
3.  Pray the right vocal chord movement will be restored
4.  The swelling in her left eye needs more help
5.  She needs to be able to swallow so that she can get off the feeding tube and be able to drink fluids; she is soooo thirsty.

Thank you so much for all the visits.  Please keep them coming.  You have no idea how much they help.  She is so happy to see you and it makes her feel better and she does so much better in therapy.  plus there are very few things better in life right now than having Nicole wave "Hi" at you.  For those of you who caught her sleeping, just know it is hit and miss and try again; it is so worth it.  I am going to try and go back to evening updates next week.

Please keep praying for a full recovery and thank you so much!

Friday, September 23, 2011

While You were sleeping....Brain Healing Was Taking place

Barkley visited Nicole on his 6th birthday

Nicole has been VERY sleepy the past few days.  She gets two sessions of speech therapy a day; physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy.  By the time she has done all those therapies she is pretty tuckered out.  So she has slept and slept.  Her nurse told us that is good because while she is sleeping her brain is healing.

Today we saw that.  I was coming to the hospital for the afternoon so Rustin could go to work for a few hours.  Imagine my surprise when I saw Nicole, Rustin, and the three Kanistaneaux boys kicking a soccer ball around outside the hospital entrance.  She was with her physical therapist and enjoying being up and outside in the sunshine.  After a few minutes our little entourage went back up to the rehab floor.  Her sister, Carole,  and brother, Clark, joined us.  She kicked the soccer ball all round the halls with the boys and her joyful followers.

Now she is sleeping.

Yesterday they removed the internal splints from her nose reconstruction.  They were about 4 inches long! Kind of creepy to have those pulled out of your nose.  The feeding tube in her nose and the  external nose support remain for now.  They removed the stitches from along her eyebrow where the orbital surgery was done.  Hurray!  No more stitches on her face.

Today we visited the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor.  He did an assessment of the facial nerve, the one that controls all the muscle movement in her face.  He said the nerve was intact.  Right now the movement of her eyebrows, lips, tongue, cheeks is slow and labored.  It is difficult for her to stick out her tongue. although yesterday she did a great pucker when the therapist told her to give Rustin a kiss.  But with the facial nerve intact and therapy, in time her mobility will improve.

He looked at her vocal chords.  The left chord is moving well.  There is movement in the right vocal chord, but it is insufficient to close and meet the left chord.  He told us about some things they could do for her if that doesn't improve.  She doesn't have much of a voice at present; that is why.  But we are very happy with this positive prognosis.

I imagine that when she can finally talk again; she will have plenty to tell us.  And we will have plenty to tell her about the kindness, caring and prayers of so many good people.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rustin Update for September 22nd

Yesterday Nicole was able to go outside for the first time since she has been here.  So exciting.  Rehabilitation is definitely doing some good.  She is still healing well.  Every day she looks better and better.  We are still getting used to the rigors of several rehab sessions daily.  These drain her energy and she sleeps a lot, which is good because they tell us that when she is sleeping her brain injury heals.  Thanks for all your notes and texts.  They are very much appreciated.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I came home two nights ago to find a small gift on my kitchen counter.  It was a plaque with a quote from Henry B. Eyring that said:

'You need never be discouraged or afraid.
The way through difficulties has always
been prepared for you
and you will find it
if you exercise faith." 

My heart is clinging to this saying each time I leave my home for the hospital.  Nicole came through the surgery like a champ.  It has been hard to see her in pain again, however, and some of the facial movement and visual coordination has regressed back to where it was when she first came out of the coma.  This is to be expected and the doctors have assured us that re-healing will occur, it just takes time.  

Yesterday she was moved from the trauma floor to rehabilitation.  They are planning a full regimen of therapies for her and told us she will likely be exhausted by it but they want all her strength and focus to be on her rehabilitation.   Translation from medical staff - please no visitors.  

She keeps her eyes closed most of the time and they are very sensitive to the light - after all the surgery done around her eye sockets, that is no surprise.  They will be doing evaluations on her hearing, her ability to smell, and her vision and her ability to speak which has been effected by having a breathing tube in her throat for ten days.  

So we begin anew.  We are taking baby steps.  We are taking one day at a time.  

Today Nicole got up and dressed herself, with some assistance.  No more hospital gowns.  Hurray!  My heart leapt with joy because yesterday she spoke to us!  In a very breathy voice she said, "I want to go to the car."    Translation - I've had my fill of being in the hospital; let's get outa here!  But hold on a minute - She needs to be able to swallow and get off a feeding tube before she can leave, so gaining back control and use of her lips, tongue and vocal cords is something to pray for.  You are so wonderful at prayer!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thanksgiving for Prayers Answered - Rustin September 17, 2011

I am so glad that these last 48 hours are finally over!  Just imagine trying to tell Nicole in the state that she is in and after what she has been through, to basically stay on her back for two days, all the while protecting her precious head.  Not fun.
I am going to ask everyone to say a different kind of prayer for Nicole tonight.  We are not going to ask for anything, just give thanks.
Here is what we give thanks for:
1.  that her brain swelling went down so quickly
2.  that the oxygen levels in her brain were maintained at a healthy level
3.  that the swelling in her face and in her neck reduced quickly
4.  that she was able to breathe after coming out of a coma on her own
5.  that the fluid in her left lung was removed and the lung remained strong and clear
6.  that her mother was comforted in her time of need
7.  that Nicole responded!  Remember how awesome that was!
8.  that her ability to communicate was increased
9.  that leaking cerebrospinal fluid was sealed
10. that the surgical wounds in her mouth sealed so quickly no infection occurred
11  that the surgeons' hands were blessed
12. that the surgery went so well
13. that Nicole's pain was manageable; she was helped through it
14, that the facial bones were kept in a state ready for the surgery

A side note that you should know.  The day after surgery Dr. Ferguson came in and did a follow-up with Nicole.  As he was leaving the room, he said, as if in passing, how surprised he and the other surgeon were at how malleable the bones in her face were for the surgery.  Nicole's father and I did not say a word.  We just looked at each other beaming.   Another prayer answered.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another 48 hours

They took Nicole down for reconstructive surgery on her face about 2:15 pm Thursday.  Surgery began at 2:45 pm.  And so we waited, and waited.  So much wonderful food had been graciously delivered to our home, that I packed up sandwiches and fruit and breads, etc. etc. etc..  Aunt Kathleen had the same idea and so we had a double feast.  And then after a while we waited and waited.

Both surgeons kindly came in and counseled with us regarding the surgery.  It appeared that Nicole took most of the force of her accident from mid to left front of her face.  Luckily the jaw bone was not broken.  However, they described the bones above as very smashed and in tiny pieces- like a hard boiled egg you pound on a hard surface.  The bones were pushed back and rotated upward.  They had to bring them forward, down, align them  and pin them in place.

Titanium plates were put in on both sides of the face and on both orbital floors.  Her nose was repaired on the inside and is splinted on the outside.  To repair the orbital bones the surgeon made an incision in a crease under each eye and along the brow line - scarring should be almost invisible.  To repair the upper mandible, they went in from inside her mouth.  No outside scars.

So what's in store for the next 48 hours?  She must keep her head elevated.  She cannot sleep on the side of her face.  This is the time where she will experience maximum swelling and pain.  All are looking forward to the end of these 48 hours.  Let the healing begin!

September 15th Surgery Report from Rustin

2:20 pm
They just came to pick up Nicole for surgery.  We walked down with her and watched as they rolled her bed into the cavernous surgical area through the huge double doors.  We were left on the outside to wait.

 8:48 pm
Dr. Dal Canto, the ocular surgeon just came in and updated us,  The ocular part went well and Nicole has done well during the surgery up to this point.  The other surgeon is wrapping up.  Should be just a couple more hours.

9:52 pm
Dr. Ferguson, the Maxillofacial reconstructive plastic surgeon, just came in.  Everything went well.  Depending on how she wakes up, she will either come back to her room or go the the intensive care unit.  We will let you know soon.

She's back!  She is doing well enough to come back to her room.  We need to hold off on visits because the next few days are critical with her swelling and trying to control her pain - not a good visiting situation.
Here is what we need to pray for Nicole now:
1,  please pray to help Nicole with the pain
2.  please pray for the sutures in her mouth the heal quickly and make a protective barrier needed so that the plates they put in don't get infected.
I will update more tomorrow.  I just wanted to get this out to you all tonight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reaching for Jesus through prayer

Today is a huge day for Nicole.  I am sitting in her hospital room.  She has just been wheeled down to surgery.  In the next six to eight hours two surgeons will reconstruct all the fractured bones in her face; something akin to putting Humpty together again.  They will place plates at the base and around each eye socket so her eyes won't sink in or droop,  Yesterday they tried to have her pucker or close her lips around a straw.  She winced in pain.  All the bones above her lips and cheeks are broken and will be repaired by this surgery.  Hopefully she will pucker again!

Yesterday, our family joined the South Jordan River 3rd Ward in a fast for Nicole.  This wonderful ward is about a stone's throw from the Jordan River Temple.  It is here that Rustin became re-active in the church and he brought Nicole here with him after their marriage.   Jeff and I accompanied Rustin out to the Ward and found the cultural hall filled with kind, devoted people who had gone without food or drink all day to bless my daughter.  At some point in every mother's life she discovers that the one thing that touches her heart most is when someone reaches out in love to her child.  This was a whole roomful of love.  I have no words to express my gratitude for the sacrifice you all made in behalf of Nicole.

No Greater Love
While we were gone we left Nicole under the watchful care of her Uncle Rich, Aunt Judy, and Aunt Kathleen.  She went on a walk down the hall with them.  As she came back and sat on the bed, she looked up and saw the beautiful white lily that Chris from the Apple store sent yesterday.  In front of it we had placed a statute of the kneeling Christ, that dear friend, Melissa, had brought and told us it must be in the room with Nicole.  Nicole pointed at it from the bed and Aunt Kath reached up and got it down for her.  Nicole took it and held it to her chest, then by her chin. It was as if she wanted to express her love for the savior by holding him close to her.  Then she noticed a little "Angel of prayer" nearby that Becca had sent.  She wanted that too.  I wondered if it was not many days ago she may have been with Christ and the angels.

Last night she had us read the cards and posters and well wishes that dear ones have sent.  I think hearing them buoyed her up for this surgery that we have been told will cause tremendous swelling throughout her face and that she will experience quite a bit of pain as she recovers.

Therapy Team  Carole & Barkley
This morning Carole brought our dog, Barkley, a hospital therapy dog down to visit Nicole.  There was warmth and affection all around.  To top it off,  today I got a card in the mail with this saying on it from my Lutheran sister in Illinois who has assured me that there are also Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians and those of other faiths praying for Nicole, too!  How we love you all for it!

No ocean can hold it back 
No river can overtake it.
No whirlwind can go faster.
No army can defeat it.  No law can stop it.
No distance can slow it.
No disease can cripple it.
No force on earth is more powerful or effective than 
The power of prayer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Angels and Ipads and hair - oh my!

"In a frazzled manner, I was trying to get out the door and down to the hospital.  My phone rang.  It was one of Nicole'e sorority sisters who had called before.  I'll let it take a message, I thought.  When she called a few minutes later, I knew I should take the call.  It was way the RIGHT call.  

As Nicole's Chi Omega sister started talking to me, puzzle pieces started falling into place.  She told me the story of her husband who had been shot 9 times a year and a half ago.  Our family knew about this and Clark's band had performed  a benefit concert in his behalf.  We didn't know it was her husband!   In a very positive manner she told about her husband's recovery because like Nicole, he had had a breathing tube and then couldn't talk for a while.  She said they got him an ipad and told me about a couple of "apps" (applications) that helped him during that time.  

The magic word "ipad" was rattling around in my brain - I know "ipad"  Nicole knows "ipad" real good!  For those of you who don't know,  Nicole is a computer whiz.  When the Apple store at Gateway was about to open, Apple found her resume on Monster and contacted her to come work there.  Recently, she has been moved to the new store in Fashion Place to lead their "creatives", those who teach customers how to do any and all things MAC - comPuters, iPhones, iPads.  Wooh, did I just say IPads!  Nicole has five MAC computers but no ipad.

I left and drove straight to the Fashion Place Apple store.  I went in and asked a blue-shirted Apple guru if he knew Nicole.  He did!  I said I wanted to buy an ipad to help her communicate with us after having a feeding tube and being unable to speak.  I got an instant crash course on ipads so I could choose what to get.  I determined the old standby Nicole had taught me; "you might as well get the one with the new features and the most memory or you'll regret it later on."  Why live with regret?  I picked out a green cover for it - Nicole's favorite color.  When I went to sign for payment; I think I got the best deal ever on an ipad.  As we were doing all this, I noticed a small group of Apple employees had gathered around me.  They all wanted to wish Nicole well and send their love and good wishes her way.  I took then to her - with an ipad!  It was in her hands before noon.

Nicole took it like it was nothing new.  She knows how it works.  We took her through the simple program.  She was able to tell us she felt confused.  Good.  We suspected that.  Then she wrote with her finger on a drawing screen - "Rustin is very...."  Couldn't quite make out that last word.  Rustin wanted to take a shot of the screen but Nicole quickly erased it and was trying to write it again.

Slightly afternoon, one of Nicole's friends from Apple who is also a speech therapist posted on my facebook wall:

Hi Janet, We met on Sunday night at your house. I know I mentioned that I'm an SLP, but I also actually do a lot of work with AAC technology. I see that Nicole is able to write and motion to communicate, but I was wondering if you would be interested in her maybe using an iPad and Proloquo2go to communicate with you all until the feeding and breathing tubes come out! I'd be so happy to drop one off at your house if you're interested  Alternately, if you already have an iPad, I have unlimited licenses with Proloquo2go and could put it on there for you!

"If you already have an iPad" - we've already had an iPad for an entire few minutes!  We all met after dinner last night and she showed us how to use it.  Showing technology to Rustin is like watching a duck take to water.  You customize this Program to the individual and Rustin and Mandy are customizing for Nicole like crazy.  We found out Nicole has double vision in her left eye right now.  That could be confusing. She was finally able to tell us using the ipad.

Now for the rest of the story. At the end of my chat with Nicole's Chi Omega sister, she told me that she was cutting her hair today and sending it up to be used with Nicole's hair Mandy saved to make a wig for Nicole to wear while her hair grows back - only now she will have blonde highlights and part of her Chi Omega sister with her every day.

More rest of the story.  Clark came to dinner tonight with a message from one of his friends who had cut her hair and intended to donate it to "locks of love" but would rather give it to Nicole instead.  

Angels are blondes and brunetttes.  Ipads with green covers come from blue shirts drenched in capability and generosity.  What to do with them comes from sensitive, caring women following a prompting and coming to our aid.

P.S.  Cerebrospinal fluid had been leaking from Nicole's nose; not good because it indicates there is a pathway from the brain lining to outside the skull.  The drainage causes headaches and having a pathway represents the possibility of infection.  Rustin put this item on the prayer list yesterday.  Today - no leaks!  Our sweet girl is being healed with prayers.

This Thursday about 4:00 pm, Nicole will undergo surgery to repair and stabilize all the broken bones in her face.  She has two surgeons; one will do the lower face and one who is very specialized working on the fractured boned surrounding her eye sockets.  Rustin & Nicole's home ward is holding a fast for this surgery.  We invite any who feel to do so, to join us.  If the timing doesn't work, join us with a prayer for Nicole - that alone can do miracles! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rustin Update for September 12th

Thank you so much for last night.  I know that some of you will still be coming over this evening.  Today was a great day.  It was filled with sweet hellos, funny and frustrated communication, and lots of moving around by Nicole.

We met with the surgeon who will be operating on Nicole to repair the fractures in the orbital bones around her eyes on Thursday.

This is what Nicole needs now:
1.  pray for the bones of her face to stay ready for Thursday's surgery.
2.  the optical nerve in her left eye has been traumatized; pray it can heal
3.  pray for her ability to communicate to continue to increase
4.  she is leaking a little fluid out of her nose; her body needs a little help with this.

Again, thank you so much for your prayers, and as always, we are praying for a full recovery.

Hospital Visits

Hello All,

HUGE hugs and thanks to everyone who came to sign Nicole's FORCE poster last night. We can't wait to give it to her! The poster is huge, it's hard to believe we about ran out of space! We're still trying to squeeze names on:) Thank you so much for sending her your good thoughts, love, and prayers.

I just wanted to reiterate my mom's request she mentioned below. Nicole is now conscious but cannot speak. While today has been frustrating for her, and for us, we are so happy she is making leaps and bounds in her progress each day. However, we feel that at this point we need to be more conscientious of her privacy and would ask that you PLEASE do not visit the hospital. We don't want to confuse her with loads and loads of different faces each day. Although we know most of you are her best of friends, we'd like to keep visitors right now to close family.

We truly don't mean to offend anyone, but feel that until she is able to communicate that she feels okay about seeing people (and letting people see her), we should be respectful of her privacy. Hopefully it won't be long until she can have visitors, but again, we'd like to leave this decision up to her.

Thank you all again for your love and support. Nicole, and our family, has needed it so much. We have a rough road ahead and it feels more evident everyday. Thank you for praying for us. We love you all.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Force

Millennium Falcon in legos  
The force is with her.  Are you ready for another miracle?  Nicole took a walk with Rustin today!  When they opened the doors to let Jeff come into the intensive care unit, he saw Nicole with the physical therapist on one side and Rustin on the other side.  She was going for a walk down the hall!  Not a slow, labored walk either; quite a brisk walk.  Unbelievable - from coma to walking within 24 hours.

A tender moment came shortly after.  She was in her bed and looked up at Rustin.  She raised her arm, put it around his neck and drew his face down near to her.  Recognition.  Love.

Now she is conscious, they took out the breathing tube; feeling confident that she can breathe on her own.  We are sure that her throat is very, very sore.

Clark, Carole & Mandy had sent notice on facebook and on the blog that anyone who wanted to come and sign a giant Star Wars poster (as big as our dining room table) was invited to drop by between 7:00 and 8:30 pm this evening.  We were overwhelmed with the number of friends, family, ward members, Apple store co-workers, and people we cherish, who came to us.  You brought confort, good will, support, and powerful faith in prayer and faith in Nicole into our home and our hearts.  It was palpable.  It was humbling.  It was FORCE-ful.

Her Apple store comrades built a Millennium Falcon out of legos for her.  It must have taken hours and hours of more than techie skill.  The caption on the card summed up the evening, "Nothing says get well soon like a Millennium Falcon".

A Hat for Nicole; Hats off to Kindness!

The day after Nicole's accident, Paul Hicks, Branch President of the LDS Church Bonneville Branch came to see us at the hospital.  One of the ex-convicts that lives at the Bonneville Center where Jeff has fulfilled a church calling for almost three years, wanted to crochet a hat for Nicole.  After hearing Nicole had undergone surgery on both sides of her brain, this kind brother asked Paul to find out what her favorite color was so that he could crochet her a hat to wear while her shaved head recovers from brain surgery.

When our stake president visited us this week, we told him of this man's kind offer.  Our president indicated that the cost of such a gift would be very great indeed, because this man was unemployed and had no income.  His is a state of subsistence living.  Although he had tried, this brother had gone many, many weeks without success in finding employment.

Today at the Branch sacrament meeting, Jeff showed me the darling crocheted cap he had made for Nicole.

Here is the rest of the story.  Paul Hicks had forgotten to get back to him and let him know Nicole's favorite color, so he just made the hat anyway.  And this week, he finally found a job.  By the way, the hat he made for Nicole just happens to be green, her favorite color.

Goodbye Coma, Welcome Back Nicole!

The doctors said that with the extent and severity of Nicole's injuries; it is a miracle that she is even alive.  Miracle One.  Today we got Miracle Two.
The trauma team came by this morning.  No response - again.  But the neurological team came by a little later - a response!  Then just after 11:00 am this morning, Nicole opened her eyes, looked at Rustin, raised two fingers on request and went back to sleep.  It sounds like a simple sequence but it meant the world to us.  It was an answer to so many, many prayers.
I feel such gratitude toward the doctors and staff of the Intensive Care Trauma Unit.  Fox, her nurse was right there when she first awoke of her own volition.  This is a big deal.  She was injured last Saturday about 9:00 pm so she had been unconscious for almost a week.  Shortly after she regained consciousness, she had a visit from the physical therapy team - moving her arms and legs.  That exhausted her.
Nicole & Rustin under the rainbow - Napali Coast, Hawaii March 2011
She has aroused a few more times today.  She cannot speak to us; she still has a feeding tube and a breathing tube in her mouth, going down her throat.  She has responded by moving her head yes or no that she feels some pain.
I can't imagine what it must be like to awake and find yourself  in a hospital with tubes in going down your throat so you cannot talk.  It must be frightening and confusing.  But darling, Nicole, we are so glad to have you back with us.
And to all who have offered prayers in her behalf. our thanks to you is profound. We can never thank you enough.  We have taken the first step on a long journey; we may stlll have a thousand miles to go but we have begun.  Now she is conscious but cannot speak, until she is able to let us know how she feels about seeing people, please no visitors.  (This is her mom just trying to protect her - I don't mean to offend anyone)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rustin Update for September 10th

Today was the best day so far.  She is responding ! ! !  Better than that, she is answering yes and no questions by moving her head (still has the breathing and feeding tube).  It is so nice to have at least some idea of how she is feeling.
Prayer-wise this is where we are at now:
1.  We need to pray that the broken bones in her face stay ready until Thursday night's surgery.
2.  pray for her lungs to stay clean and clear
3.  pray for her ability to communicate to continue to increase.
Thank you so much for your prayers.  As always we are praying for a full recovery.

The Force Is With Her...

Hey All,

We're feeling the need to celebrate Cole's progress today! If you'd like to come by our parent's house (5256 Holladay Blvd, Holladay, Utah 84117) tomorrow night between 7-8:30pm, we'd love to have you sign a Star Wars poster we're making for her room so she knows the names of the people who have been the driving force behind her recovery this week. We are so grateful for you guys! And if you can't make it, just let me know and I'll sign your name for you. 

Please continue to keep her in your prayers. She made huge progress today, but we still need to pray that her surgery this week will go well and that she'll have a full recovery. Thank goodness for you guys! Nicole and our family couldn't do this without you. 

Much love,


Friday, September 9, 2011

Rustin Update for September 9th

Things are moving in the right direction.  Her face continues to look better as the swelling goes down.  She didn't respond to verbal commands again but they did a different test later and she did well on that.  Good signs.  Today was a big decision day and we feel confident about choices of doctors and some other things that transpired today.  Prayer-wise this is what is needed now:
1.  still praying for test response.  We have some time on this but not much.
2.  her left eye doesn't seem to be responding to light stimulation as well as the right.  Improvement would be relieving.
3.  please pray for her lungs to stay strong and clear 
and finally pray for comfort for Nicole's mom.
Thank you so much for your prayers.  It is so humbling to watch them being answered first hand.  As always we are praying for a full recovery.

Message from Carole

Nicole holding newborn niece, Gabrielle February 2010
Ok guys, we're for real this time. We gotta start praying that Cole wakes up soon! She needs to start responding and breathing well enough before Monday that the neurosurgeons feel ok about putting her under to have her face and eyes reconstructed before the broken bones set too much and really over complicate things. She's in for an 8 hour surgery here soon, but we need her brain and breathing to be ok first. Please, please send your prayers! She's getting close... I can feel it:) Love you all.

Heavenly Father Has Sent Us a Messenger - Nicole's Primary Teacher

Friday morning Jeff was at the hospital in Nicole's room.  She was still in a coma (not medically induced but her own coma).  She was still not responding to any attempts to arouse or communicate with her.  This was our most difficult day, yet.  Jeff looked up to see a pretty woman standing outside the room.  She said his name and when he got out there he recognized her.  Some twenty-five years ago, she was Nicole's primary teacher and Jeff had been her family's home teacher.  We hadn't seen her for a very, very, long time.

She told him that she had been praying that morning.  As she knelt, she felt somewhat selfish because she was pleading with the Lord about her situation; she had just lost her job and had no idea how she could go on.  The thought strongly came to her that she should get up and go to Nicole in the hospital.  So she did.

She came to tell us her story.  As a young newlywed, she and her husband were coming down Parley's Canyon one night.  A drunk driver going up the canyon in the wrong direction hit their car on the passenger's side where she was sitting.  She was in intensive care for two weeks.  Her skull was fractured.  While she was unconscious, she was on the other side and angels were with her.  She spent a lot of time with them.

When she awoke from her coma, her mother was at her bedside, weeping.  She told her, "It's alright Mom, I've decided to stay."

During her recovery two angels would come to be with her.  As she got better, she was still aware that there was one angel with her; even after her return home.  Later, as she prepared to undergo another one of several surgeries she was hoping to see her angel, but the angel was gone.

She had come to tell us that she believed during this coma, Nicole has been with angels.  

Closing our Fast at Aunt Kath's House

Lucy, Elly, Tommy, Richie, Maggie and Audrey give Rustin the Dr. Seuss quilt, pillowcase and flowers for Nicole.

For the past forty years the extended Cannon family has met in Uncle Roger and Aunt Kathleen's living room to close fasts on behalf of family members who have been critically ill, afflicted, wounded, or in need of blessings. To invoke a thought from "Fiddler on the Roof", it's tradition! At those times this room temporarily transforms into something of a celestial room for the extended Cannon family where the priesthood and faith of family members is brought together in behalf of a loved one.  Miraculously, the Jeff Cannons have mostly escaped being in need of such a fast until Nicole's accident.

At this point in time, Nicole is not the only one in such need.  My niece, Abby Hegewald's husband, Kevin, is in the final stages of his recurring battle with cancer.  As the rest of the family was meeting with us, Tom, Matt and Hyrum were in flight to Southern California to be with Abby's family.  I want them to know that our prayers are with them and Abby and her children.  Thank you Kevin, for coming to the 24th of July family party despite your pain and discomfort to let us reconnect and treasure you one more time.

We heard that Matt's daughter, little Abby Rose, refused to eat breakfast this morning because she wanted to fast at least that much for Nicole.  When I got to Nicole's room yesterday morning brightly colored flowers and decorations adorned the walls - made by Roger and Kristina Brockbank's children; Marissa, Jared, Tyler, Joshua and Allison.  Rustin had put them around the walls nearby the cards made by Kai, Jayce, and Breck Kanistaneau.  That afternoon, Tisa Edmunds came with a giant card of flowers listing Nicole's best qualities and a floral book of notes from Nicole's Miamaids.  Lucie, Elly and Samantha pinnock's delicate layered flower designs will be added to Nicole's now-cheery looking room.

Under the expert direction of Eric Olson's mom, Becky, a Dr. Seuss quilt was made for Nicole compliments of Becky's grandchildren and Nicole's favorite children to tend; Maggie, Jacob, Thomas, Richard, Audrey and their Supermom, Katie.  Anyone who knows of Nicole's happy-hearted delight in all things whimsical and comic book-colored will understand what a delight this will be to her.  The back of the quilt is edged in a Dr. Seuss fabric but the center has been left white.  In this area, the children wrote notes to Nicole and signed their names so that one day she will know that they were thinking of her while she was unconscious.  Everyone at the fast signed Nicole's quilt.  They gave us fabric pens and invite those who may want to sign her quilt to do so.  We have it in her room at the hospital.  

Rustin gave an update on Nicole's condition before we broke the fast.  He has been texting a daily report and specifying some things to pray for.  One of those was, that Nicole could breathe on her own.  That has happened.  Another was that the fluid that was building up in her lungs would dissipate.  That has happened.  Such is the power of prayer.

Jeff closed the fast for us; patriarch Uncle Rich and all the priesthood holders gave me a blessing.  R2 (the moniker we have given young Roger) later told me the during that time he felt his deceased father's presence. Aunt Kath's husband, our beloved Uncle Roger passed away in 2007 from fibrocystic lung disease.  Kathleen felt him with us last night and has also felt him in Nicole's hospital room.  Before his passing Uncle Rog wanted to make photo books for each of his grandchildren.  He wasn't able to do this, so Nicole took on the project and finished an Apple photo book filled with pictures of Uncle Rog with each of his grandchildren for them to remember their "papa" and how much he loved them.  Wherever Nicole's spirit is during this comatose period, we suspect that Uncle Rog, and Granny and Grandad are nearby.  

Our son, Scott, and wife Mitzi gave us a new granddaughter on Friday September 2nd.  Little piper was born just one day before Nicole's accident.  Again in my life, I find great joy mingled with great sorrow.  Scott  got Mitzi, Corbin, Gabby and the baby home from the hospital and settled, then left to join us with Nicole.  Mitzi, thank you for sharing Scott with us in our time of need.  I am sure this was a struggle for you.  

Jeff, Clark, Scott and I left Aunt Kathleen's and went to the hospital with Nicole's quilt.  While there, Scott annointed, and Jeff sealed a beautiful blessing on Nicole.  I felt peace for the first time since the accident.  I felt love.  I felt able to go on.  

Lastly, a word about Aunt Kath.  This wonderful woman has been right with me at each and every crisis of my married life.  Nicole's tragedy is no exception.  The words of psalm 23 continually go through my mind this way - "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me and so is Aunt Kathleen.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rustin Update for September 8th

Today was a good day.  Your prayers have been heard and Nicole is being blessed.  The fluid in her left lung is basically gone now.  The swelling in her face continues to go down, and her color gets better and better.
She didn't respond to the tests today the way the doctor wanted, but they all enjoyed how she DID respond.  When the doctor pushed on her chest and asked her to show him a thumbs up, she literally tried to push him away.  It was a good sign.  Not what they wanted, but good.
We are told to make our prayers specific so here is a prayer update:
1.  still pray for reduced swelling in her checks and neck
2.  pray that she will respond to her tests
And as always we are praying for a full recovery.  Again, thank you so much.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Fast for Nicole

Friends & Family, I apologize for the late notice, but if you'd like to join us in a fast for Nicole Cannon tomorrow you are gladly welcome to do so. Thank you so much for your prayers, kind emails, phone calls, texts, notes and treats, and for your genuine concern. I apologize for inundating you with so much info. and for often not being able to get back to you. But we are so grateful to have people to lean on right now. Thank you for sending your love. It has been greatly needed.     

Rustin Update for September 7th

Nicole is breathing by herself today without any assistance from the respirator.  Your prayers are totally working.  Thank you.  The swelling in her face continues to go down and her color continues to get better. She is still not responsive to her tests.  She didn't move a lot today but was very fidgety this evening.

So here is the prayer update.
1.  pray for a reducation in the swelling of the checks and neck.
2.  there is a little liquid in her left lung - likely a bit of pneumonia.  They are treating her for it, but it would be much better if it weren't there.
3.  we would love it if she would start responding to her tests
And as always, we are praying for her brain to recover fully.  Your prayers are working.  Thank you so much!

A Big Blessing!

This morning Nicole is breathing on her own!  She is still hooked up to a breathing machine but now she is doing all the breathing independently.  Her breaths are good and deep; not shallow.  Surely prayers are helping her.

The breathing tube will remain in place for a while yet.  Should it be removed and need to be inserted again; they may not be able to get it back in due to the extreme swelling throughout her head, neck and face.  So it will stay in for a while yet.

She is still in intensive care.  She is still in a coma; but it is wonderful to know she can breathe on her own.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rustin update for September 6th

We were told that on the third day after a severe trauma there is often some backsliding.  Today for us was not especially bad or good.  The swelling in Nicole's face has gone down some more and her color is very much improved.  Today was the first time that she was not very responsive to the verbal command tests.  She is moving and fidgeting a lot more when the nurses move her, and she tries to resolve areas of discomfort at that time.

The doctors have counseled us to keep her recovery area less stimulating and possibly confusing to her brain - no touching her or talking to her, or hovering over her.   We need to hold off on visits to Nicole's room for a little bit. They will let us know when she can receive visitors again.

We need to change the focus of our prayers to four things:
1)  We need the swelling in her neck and the lower part of her face to go down.
2)  We need her to be able to wean herself off the respirator and breathe independently
3)  She needs to respond to verbal commands.
4)  Keep praying for a full recovery

Thank you again so much.  Know that your prayers are working.

Rustin update for Labor Day September 5th

Nicole is still in intensive care.  She is still in a coma, but there are some positive signs.  The swelling in her face as gone down some and we can discern her nose and even see some eyelashes.  The doctors dropped her coma-inducing medication for a few minutes  and asked her to raise two fingers and she was able to respond appropriately.  The color is coming back to her skin; she is less ashen and more peachy.  Looks good!
Today they removed the bolt-like sensor that was measuring how intense the pressure was between her swollen brain and her skull.  After surgery it was "20" - dangerously high.  The next morning it was bout "16", by afternoon "14", and stabilized that evening at "12" the target number.  She maintained that number over a long enough period of hours they felt it was safe to remove the bolt from her head.  We watched those numbers come down with such joy!
In your prayers, please pray for enough oxygen to the brain, for brain healing and full recovery.  We know that your prayers are working.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

If it so be that ye should bring one soul unto me; how great shall be your joy

We sent out the call for prayers for Nicole as widely as we knew how.  Many kind, good, friends have responded.  Nicole's name is now on the prayer rolls of temples across Utah and Idaho.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Today we got a message that has brought tears of gratitude to our eyes.  Nicole served a mission in Louisville, Kentucky.  While there she had one convert; a young woman whom we have met and visited and love.  She still lives in Kentucky.  When she became aware of Nicole's situation, she called eighteen temples in the South and Midwest to put Nicole's name on their prayer rolls.

Calling Down the powers of Heaven

We stayed in bed about three hours, but it was not restful.  About 7:30 am Jeff and Carole and I sat on the bed and talked about what we could do.  This was so horrible! We felt completely helpless.  What could we do?
I knew I needed a blessing for comfort.  Everyone agreed with that notion.  We ALL needed blessings.  Jeff called Uncle Tom our family patriarch, and Uncle Rich whose calling is a stake patriarch to come to our home.
In the meantime, I felt the only thing we could do was to pray for Nicole.  But it was fast Sunday and what if others would join us in fasting and praying for Nicole?  I hurriedly dressed and drove over to the 27th Ward.  I knocked on the Bishop's door and saw four shocked faces above suits and ties as I went in.  I told them we had an emergency and needed the prayers and faith of our Ward members in behalf of Nicole.  They agreed to take care of it.

Then I drove to the Olympus Seminary building where the Bonneville Branch meets.  This branch serves men just released from prison who reside at the halfway house.  Sponsors pick them up and bring them to Sunday services where Jeff teaches the Gospels Essentials class and also helps each of them find employment.  The building was open but no one was there.  I saw some papers and a notebook on the table in the classroom.  As I was writing a note,  Stewart McLaren walked in.  I told him what happened.  The Bonneville Branch was onboard.

Rustin called the South Jordan River 3rd Ward, where he and Nicole work with the Young Men and Young Women.  More prayers for Nicole.  Carole and Mandy called Bishop Swenson of their Young Adults Ward.  Additional prayers for Nicole.

I emailed all the family and friends I could think of at that moment, and and pled with them to pray for Nicole.

In Luke 18 Jesus tells the parable of the judge and the importunate widow.  The widow gets consideration from the judge because of her persistent, continual requests.  Jesus promises us that if a judge will reward the widow our Heavenly Father will do even more for us! This is our reason and faith in seeking your prayers to bless Nicole.  You have our deepest heartfelt gratitude.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Night Terrors

Jeff and I were at the beautiful wedding of Emily Bourne and Thayne Davis at the Salt Lake Country Club.  We were visiting with friends when a staff member came and gave Jeff a message.  It said, "Come to the Emergency Room on 5300 South and State.  Your daughter has been in an accident."

When we got there, Carole, Clark, and Amanda were already there. Rustin was with Nicole.  The emergency room's Dr. Nicolson was briefing us on Nicole's injuries and actions that were to be taken.  The immediate concern was two hematoma's one on either side of her brain.  Apparently, this type of injury resulted in actress, Natasha Richardson's, death after a skiing accident a year or so ago.  

Nicole was unconscious, but as they were wheeling her to surgery, Jeff, Rustin and Clark administered a priesthood blessing.  Neurosurgeon, Dr. Maughan, came to explain what would happen.  Her skull is fractured on the left side.  He would remove the fractured portion and extract the blood clot (hematoma).  On the right side, he must cut into the skull to remove that hematoma.  The most critical issue after this surgery is the bruised and jostled brain swelling and pressure building inside the skull with no outlet.  Enough pressure of this kind can lead to death.

Rustin and his friends, Jen & Keric Kanistaneaux went back to search the scene of the accident to try to discern what happened.  No one saw it.  The rest of us were lead to a large empty waiting room on the second floor.  We found a tiny consultation room and nearby and knealt together.  There, each of us offered a prayer for Nicole.  I wondered if she was so close to the veil that she may have had an out of body experience as I envisioned her watching us from above.

Then we waited.

About 3:00 am, Brayden Iwasaki brought our dog, Barkley to the hospital.  He is a trained therapy dog who regularly visits hospital patients and was therefore allowed to come in.  He came to the waiting room and went around to each of us with with a wagging tail and a nuzzle of love.  I threw my arms around his big furry black neck and as I cried I felt a good portion of the tension and grief melt away into his soft black fur.  He is truly part of our family and he came and anchored us with his affection.

Dr. Maughan came in and reported that the surgery had gone well.  I asked about her prognosis and he could not give any answer other that we were looking at a slow day by day process.   At this point Nicole's care was turned over to Dr. Van Boerum.  He came in and reported her additional injuries; 2 broken ribs, bruised lungs, a fracture of the 4th cervical vertebrae in her neck, 2 compression fractures in her lower back vertebrae, concussion, skull fracture, breaks in all the bones of her face, a possible ruptured left ear drum.

As both doctors were talking to us, I could feel myself shaking uncontrollably inside.  I think I was in shock.

Amanda asked if they would save Nicole's long hair when they shaved her head for surgery.  The nurse told us it was pretty gory, but she would clean off and save what she could.  She later bought in a long pony tail of Nicole's hair and gave it to Amanda.

She was returned to intensive care about 3:45 am.  They warned us that her head was shaved, and extremely swollen. both eyes were black; basically she was unrecognizable.  We were asked not to talk or touch her because any sensory stimulation would activate brain activity and increase the swelling that was so dangerously high.

We huddled together around her bed and said a prayer.  Carole sat on the floor as she was feeling faint.  Afterwards,  Rustin stayed with Nicole at the hospital and the rest of us went home for a few hours.

As I walked into my darkened bedroom at 4:30 am I wondered what kind of darkness Nicole was in.  Was her world of sensation black?  Was she in horrendous pain?  Was her spirit in darkness or light?  I couldn't sleep.  Once I laid down the inner trembling returned and I was cold despite the covers.  Jeff held me and for the first time in our married life of forty years, he broke down and sobbed.

Nicole's Accident September 3, 2011

Saturday at 6pm, Rustin brought Nicole to our house after work and unveiled the scooter he had refurbished for her.  He had matched the sparkly blue paint to the color of the beloved beach cruiser bike she calls "Tina Sparkle".  He had custom made the leather seat - half white, half red with a circle star design in the center; reminiscent of Captain America.  Rustin and friend, Brayden Iwasaki has worked all day to make sure everything mechanically was in tip top shape.  Nicole was thrilled and delighted with this personalized gift.
 To celebrate Carole, Rustin and Nicole decided to go to dinner at the Dodo in Sugarhouse.  They rode their scooters on back roads with little traffic.  They enjoyed their dinner together and started for home.  About 9:00pm, as they were traveling south around the "S" shaped curve between the church and OC Tanner's property on 2700 East between 33rd and 39th south, the unthinkable happened.