Sunday, June 21, 2009

June 21 - Father's Day

It has now been over a year since Paul's accident. Officially, it was last weekend, since it was June 14, but for me, this weekend has really felt like the anniversary. When Paul was in the accident it was the Saturday of Father's Day weekend AND of the U.S. Open golf tournament, which is like the Super Bowl weekend at our house. I remember the Thursday night before the accident, I had my book club. When I left the house around 7:00, Buzz and Paul were eating pizza and watching coverage of the first round of the Open. I left my book club after 9:30, expecting that, when I returned home Buzz would have taken a bath and maybe be asleep and Paul would most likely be asleep on the couch, which was the norm on book club nights. As I was walking to my car, Paul called. He and Buzz were driving home from TopGolf, a local driving range. Watching the U.S. Open had given Paul the urge to practice. I was very surprised because once Paul got home from work, he rarely ever wanted to leave the house again. But, they must have had a great time because Paul was very animated during the conversation and I could hear Buzz singing in the background. That is a memory that I cherish as one that was a spontaneous but great father/son moment that I believe took place that night for a reason. It was an exciting night for Buzz and he still talks about it nearly everytime we drive by TopGolf.

This has, obviously, been a tough year for all of us but especially for Buzz in so many ways. Which is one reason I posted what I think is a great photo of the two of them. It was taken by Pete Lacker while we were out to dinner a few weeks ago. They were looking at Pete's iPhone and Paul was spelling out something on the letterboard but I love that Buzz is looking directly at Paul. It has been hard for them to communicate this past year and has been heartbreaking at times. But, the bond between them is still there even if the dynamics are a little different.

We watched U.S. Open golf all this weekend and I couldn't stop thinking about last year and looking at Paul in ICU that first day and feeling so bad that he was missing the tournament that weekend. We even requested a television be brought in at the bottom of his bed so that we could have it on. I thought surely he would hear the commentators or the crowd cheering and wake up. Of course, at the time, I had no idea how bad his injuries really were. That would become apparent as the days passed. And they were bad. So bad, that when the doctor finally told me he was releasing Paul from ICU, it was to go to a skilled nursing facility where, the doctor told me, he would stay and, if Paul's condition didn't change, after two years I would have to decide what Paul would want as far as quality of life. He added, almost matter of factly, that making this decision wasn't really like the the Terry Schiavo case; that was all the media hype. It was one of the most horrifying and surreal conversations I've ever had. I was numb. That was a very bad day for me.

Fortunately, I have a good friend who serves as legal counsel for another major hospital in Dallas and she came to visit that day, asked me a lot of questions, and told me not to sign any release papers and insist that our goal be for Paul to go to rehab and don't take no for an answer. And that is what we did and from that day forward, little by little, Paul's condition improved and it continues to improve every day. I guess I am sharing this now because I want people to understand how little doctors can really predict with brain injuries, appreciate how much Paul has accomplished and what a fighter he is and how he will never give up. He continues to work so hard toward walking on his own. He even often requests a schedule of when that will be and has repeatedly told me that his therapists need to work him harder and that he spends too much time at Pate sitting around. They actually work him really hard and there is a reason behind everything he does, even if he doesn't see it.
He has started getting additional physical therapy at the pool at Baylor Rehab. Twice a week, Buzz and I pick him up from Pate in the afternoon and take him to Baylor. The session is only 30 minutes but he gets a good workout walking in the pool and he really likes it. One session last week, he did not have his usual therapist and the woman he did have, who was actually training another therapist at the same time, did not seem to know what to do with Paul or exactly what his capabilities were. They just sort of aimlessly wandered around the pool. After the session, Paul spelled out that that was a waste of his time, he doesn't have time to waste and that those girls were useless. I totally agreed with him but it was SO Paul to get so mad about it. He kept wanting to discuss it via the letter board even after I agreed to call and complain and try to get a make-up session. He just was not going to stand for any nonsense on his watch.

So, as this past weekend has been a milestone for us, I prefer to focus on how far Paul has come and how far that I know he will go, how our families have gone far beyond just being there for us, and how many amazing people that we've met or already knew that have shown extraordinary support, kindness, and generosity. I know I keep repeating the same thing but I feel like I can't say it enough to accurately show how I feel and I can't think of any other way to say it. But, thank you everyone, again for following us during this wild journey. I will continue to write on the blog because, in addition to serving as a great communications tool, it is a great outlet for me to talk about Paul and his progress and what we are going through, but also we get a lot of support from it too in all the comments posted. It is definitely a two-way street.

And, to bring things full circle, Paul and I watched the U.S. Open this weekend and, since much of the play was delayed due to rain, NBC showed a lot of highlights from last year's event so, as it turns out, Paul did get to see much of the tournament. It couldn't have been as thrilling as watching it live but it was still pretty exciting.

Thank you again,

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8, 2009 - The DSVC Banquet

This past weekend was pretty big for Paul. We attended the Dallas Society of Visual Communications annual banquet. Through the years, Paul has been very active with the group - which is the largest, independent visual communications organization in the country - even serving on the Board for several years and as president in 2002. The banquet serves as an award show to recognize exceptional work from Dallas area graphic designers, illustrators, and photographers for the year. As it turned out, two pieces that Paul worked on at MasonBaronet as creative director in 2008 prior to the accident were accepted into the show so that is one reason we decided to attend. The other is that the DSVC has been a huge source of support for us since Paul's accident and many of the members, who he has become friends with over the years, had not seen him since before the accident or early on at the hospital. I was very nervous about attending the show but I know that Paul has come so far this year and continues to improve every day. I also knew that the people that would see him at the show will see him again down the road and, as he continues to recover, will appreciate even more how well he is doing and how hard he is fighting.

Of course, our hope was that Paul would be able to walk into the show but, since he is not quite there yet, we took the wheelchair. We rode over with some friends, Pete and Micki Lacker, and got their early to look at all of the artwork that was displayed before taking a seat at our table with the group from MasonBaronet. From that point on, person after person stopped by the table to see Paul. I don't know why I was even worried! Everyone was so nice, so encouraging, and so genuinely excited to see him. By the time the show started, I think we were both extremely happy that we were there.

Then, Jennifer Brehm, the current president, began the show off by acknowledging that Paul was there, explaining to the 400 or so in attendance what had happened to him, said how happy they were to see him, and how far he has come this year. Suddenly, there was a spotlight on Paul and he was receiving a standing ovation from the crowd! It was one of the most amazing things that I have ever experienced so I can't imagine how Paul felt. If I remember correctly, he looked a little shocked but I know Paul well enough to know that he would never admit it, but he loves being in the spotlight , although I don't know about an actual spotlight. He did spell out for me later that he was overwhelmed. It was just so touching. Since Paul's accident, it has seemed like our life has been so far away from what it was before, I honestly never thought we would again be attending a DSVC banquet, which incidentally was a big night out for us each spring. But, while we were there, it felt right and I realized that our pre-accident life and post-accident life are slowly beginning to come back together. And, that designing will always be a part of who Paul is so no matter what. He still has the passion and the determination and, even after receiving a standing ovation, still expressed regret that he didn't win an award this year so I know he still has the drive and competitiveness.

I just want to thank the DSVC Board, especially Jennifer Brehm, Samantha Reitmayer, Tom Dennis, and Brandi Lefleur for going out of their way to make attending easy for us, for making us feel so welcome, and for providing an exceptional experience. It was a special night for both of us and I know that, for Paul, it was like a pep rally that gave him a boost to keep working. I included this photo of us at the banquet and have more that I will try to post soon. Unfortunately, I don't have one of Paul during the ovation. I had a camera but was overcome by emotion and wasn't thinking clearly enough to pick it up and take a picture.

Thank you, everyone, again for you support.