Category Archives: Brianna

fighting heart

In early March, we attended our final basketball banquet. We were so proud to see Bri’s name on the program for having earned Academic All-State.  ACADEMIC ALL-STATE!  Do you realize the improbability of that happening after such a severe traumatic brain injury?  I still can hardly comprehend that.  Obviously, her class rank and GPA have dropped significantly, so to still have achieved this is just amazing!

Nothing more needed to happen for the evening to be grand. But it did.  Bri was awarded the Fighting Heart Award for the girls’ basketball team!  I had hoped she would get it last year and even the year before, but she hadn’t.  So this year I didn’t even consider the possibility.  I know it’s usually given to a girl who’s been out there fighting on the court, whether she plays a ton or not.  And in my mind Bri has the heart of a lion and doesn’t need to be given any award to make it so.  So at the end of the awards ceremony I was completely unprepared for her name to be called when Coach Parris announced the Fighting Heart Award.  And when he called her name everyone was on their feet giving her a standing ovation – a long one.  I’m in tears again just thinking about it.  He spoke not only of the fight she’s fought since the accident – the one that everyone sees – but also of the fight that many do not see.  He commended her for showing up to practice early each day with the rest of the team, even though there would be no playing time, and for continuing to work hard on her grades.  He also spoke of her love for the game – how even though she’s no longer able to play she still loves the game and is a fierce competitor who loves to win.

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What most people don’t know is that so many days she considered quitting the team. I wish I could say the opposite – that the thought of quitting never crossed her mind. But the truth is she thought of it often.  Some days it was torture to watch the other girls practice and play, knowing that she never would again.  But I guess that’s what makes it that much greater that she didn’t quit.  When it all came down to it, she said that as hard as it was it would have been harder to NOT be a part of it – she just couldn’t bear the thought of not being on the team.

Thank you, Coach Parris, for recognizing her with this honor – for acknowledging this in Brianna. And for having me in tears yet again!

Coach Parris & Bri

Coach Parris & Bri

I am so proud of you, Brianna. I get to see what no one else sees – the fight you fight every day physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  You have the heart of a warrior.  You are the definition of a fighting heart.

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Philippians 3:12

the impossible

 

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I must confess that I was wrong about the basketball uniforms (see last post). Brianna suited up at every Friday night game – each time knowing she wouldn’t go in the game but always hoping for the impossible.

Well . . . the impossible happened.

Friday, February 5th was the last home game and senior night.  Coach Parris wanted to be sure every senior got to play.  EVERY senior.  Bri was introduced as a starter and started the game.  Our team fouled immediately so someone could substitute in for her as it is just too dangerous to leave her in and run the risk of getting hit in the head.

We were so excited!!  We took video and thoroughly enjoyed her one last time in a game, almost two years exactly from the last basketball game she played.

Or so we thought. With about 25 seconds left in the game, this happened:

Coach Parris had planned this with the cooperation of both teams, their coaches and the refs.  We were overjoyed and so appreciative of the class and kindness shown to Bri by people who didn’t have to.  Even the fans for the other team were on their feet cheering for her.  So I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to Coach Parris and everyone who was there that night for allowing Brianna “the impossible” of playing the game she loves so much just one more time.

Season Opener

Last Tuesday, November 10, was our last season opener for basketball.  We’ve been a basketball family for many years now and I have LOVED being a basketball mom.  Even though the uniforms won’t come off the hangers again this year and I won’t have a player sweating it out on the court, I will have a girl on the bench who still loves the game and, even more so, her team.

Ball Uniforms

Dr. Zaman

The first time we met Dr. Zaman was early Friday morning, March 7, 2014.  We had arrived by ambulance the afternoon before to this place that was completely foreign to us and we were still feeling very unsure and afraid.  The first thing that morning, the Occupational Therapist had been in to help Bri shower and get dressed.  And considering that Bri couldn’t even hold her head up, this was not pleasant for either of us (though looking back we know it was her first step toward recovery and independence).

This is a picture of Brianna her first morning at Baylor right after that first shower.

03-07 First day of Rehab

A short while later, Dr. Dubiel and Dr. Zaman entered our room and introduced themselves.  Dr. Dubiel was Bri’s main doctor and Dr. Zaman was doing part of his residency there.  We didn’t see Dr. Dubiel a week after that first day because she was on vacation.  But Dr. Zaman’s would be the first face that we came to know and look forward to seeing during our first week there.  He brought such a bright yet calming presence to our room.  He was quick with a smile, a genuine smile, and always made sure to make some sort of physical contact with Bri, even if it was simply a hand on her shoulder.  He was kind and encouraging and funny and interested.  We grew to love him very quickly.  We saw Dr. Zaman every weekday morning for about two months before he left to work at another hospital.

I remember one very difficult morning in particular when Bri was just really sad and depressed.  I think it was the morning after I told her about ShyAnn.  We were having our morning visit with the doctors and while I can’t recall exactly what we were talking about, I remember that I started to tear up and just dropped my head into my hands.  When I got myself together and looked up again, Dr. Zaman’s eyes were red and teary as well.  I guess it could have been allergies, but I don’t think so.

Dr. Zaman was also the one who got to remove Bri’s PEG line – in other words he yanked it out!

This picture was taken May 15, 2014.  This was the last time Dr. Zaman and Bri saw each other.

2014-05-15 Bri & Dr. Zaman

One year later on May 19, 2015, Brianna saw a very familiar young man touring CNS with a group of residents.  I don’t know who was more excited!

2015.5.19 Dr. Zaman

 

First Day of School

I finally get to post a first-day-of-school picture.

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Brianna started back to school on Tuesday.  She will go to school half days on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will continue rehab the other three days of the week.

This was a very big deal for Bri.  She has been looking forward to this for a long time.  It’s hard to believe that it has been 11 months since she has been to school.  Almost a year!  She said that it’s great to be back and her next goal is to work up to two full days each week.

It was very emotional for me.  I cried three times; twice before I dropped her off and one time after I left her there.

Thank you Lord for this miracle!

Great Weekend and a Big Week Ahead

We just finished up a great weekend and are heading into a very big week.

Saturday, the basketball team had another scrimmage.  As I was about to get out of the car and walk Brianna in, her friends Tara and Hailey pulled up.  So she asked if I would stay in the car and let her walk in with her friends.  It seems like such a small thing, but there was a lump in my throat as I watched her walk away from my car and into the gym with her friends.  And since it was an away game, she rode the bus with the team for the first time.  Another big moment.

On a side note, last weekend, Brianna put her small mum on ShyAnn’s memorial (Rykker and Rylee made her a small one for her “able”).  I was sure with all the wind we had last week that it would be gone by now, but we were both so excited to see that it was still there when we drove by this Saturday.

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Brian, Bri and I went to the TCU game on Saturday. It was Bri’s first since the accident.  This girl grew up going to TCU games.  In fact, if I’m not mistaken, she spent her first Halloween at a TCU game.  She grew up wearing a little TCU cheerleading uniform; she’s had her face painted purple and silver in Frog Alley; she learned dance moves from the TCU showgirls; she ran onto the football field before games with hundreds of other kids.  TCU football has just been something she’s done her whole life.  And the first game back was awesome – beautiful weather, great friends, a rowdy crowd, and an excellent win — GO FROGS!

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After church Sunday morning, we spent the afternoon getting ready for a big week ahead. We made some spaghetti, a pot of soup for our neighbors, a big pot of chili for our busy week and did our nails with Jamberry wraps.  And then Bri went to Fireworks, our church’s youth group.  I have already decided that next Sunday WILL be a day of rest for us.  Yeesh, I was exhausted.  And I didn’t even bake anything pumpkin!

This week is going to be extra special for us. Tuesday afternoon, Brianna will be an aunt and I will be a . . . . I can’t say it!  I’ll have a granddaughter!!  Caleb and Chelsie told Bri that after they hold Evy, they want her to be the first to hold her.  She is THRILLED.  She is hoping for a red-head so they can be ginger buddies.  I’ll post pictures as soon as I can either Tuesday or Wednesday.

I hope your weekend was awesome and your week ahead is blessed!

Weekend Update

I absolutely love this weather today. Cloudy, rainy days just cause me to slow down and breathe.  And I really need to simply slow down and breathe.  And enjoy the view and the fragrance and the feel of days like today.

A quick update on this past weekend:

Friday night, Bri’s sweet friends Rylee and Rykker (pictured below) made sure she had a beautiful mum and a great time at the game. Brianna told me that all of her friends were so patient and helpful and protective of her during the game, especially since she decided to go without her “Able.”  By the end of the third quarter she was exhausted.   She texted me that she was ready to go.  Then she wasn’t.  Then she was.  Then she wasn’t.  We figured it was time.

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I love the orange and purple in the mums for ShyAnn and Bri.

On Saturday, the Lady Texans had their first scrimmage of the year and they played extremely well.

Saturday evening, Brianna helped me make some Chicken Tortilla Soup from a recipe that she got from CNS, where she goes for therapy. It was so simple and so good!  She and I are going to make some for our neighbors who have had a rougher year than we have.  I will share the recipe later this week.

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Thank you Father for this amazing fall weather!

Homecoming Parade

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In case you can’t tell by the enormous smile on her face, Bri had a great time last night at the parade and pep rally.  If I haven’t explained, and I guess I should, why she is in all these basketball pictures.  It is because she is on the team!  #33 is on the roster even though she won’t be playing.  Sometimes it is torture for her to know that she can’t just jump up and run out there on the court, but she is always thrilled to be a part of this group.   The coaches and all the girls have been and continue to be so supportive and encouraging to her.  I love ‘em all!

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Bri is the one sitting on the back of the truck waving.

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I don’t know if you can see it or not, but the girls made sure to have a #24 basketball for ShyAnn on the truck.

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If you’re wondering how she got on top of the fire truck . . . she climbed up there. It reminds me of little 12-month-old red-head Bri who climbed the ladder to the playground slide all by herself because she refused to be left behind.

And if you’re wondering how she got down (because of course getting up there was far easier than getting down) . . . 3 firemen, 1 coach, 1 super dad, and Brianna.

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Thanks guys!!

 

 

Media Day 2014

Okay, so, Wednesday was basketball picture day – better known around these parts as Media Day, which includes pizza, flat irons, makeup, hairspray, new uniforms . . . oh and pictures!  These are obviously not the official pictures (which I will share when they’re out), these are just a few smart phone shots.

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Coach Johnson, Bri and Mar

 

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Brea, Bri and Tara

 

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2014 Lady Texans

 

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Mar, Maddie, Bri, Haley, Tara

And because ShyAnn’s presence is sorely missed, a throwback to last year’s Media Day.

2013 Media Day

Haley, Bri (photobombing), Mar, Maddie and Shy

Thank you to all the girls who let me use and post their pictures.  I love you ladies!

Cane and Able

As most of you know, Brianna walks with the help of a cane now. She doesn’t like to use the word “cane” because she thinks it sounds like something an old person would use.  We called it a pole for a while, but that just opened the door for her to make somewhat inappropriate employment jokes about it – surprising I know!  We’ve tried using the term “walking stick” and just plain “stick” but she’s just not crazy about those either.  I’m not sure why it matters to her, but it does.

About a week ago, she came across her new word for it. She was just throwing some words around trying to come up with another word for “cane” and came up with “able” – as in Cain and Abel.

So as of now, Brianna is walking with the help of her “able.” I think that is quite appropriate.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever mentioned this, but in order for Brianna to walk, she has to wear a very sturdy brace on her left leg. It extends from the tip of her toes (under her foot) up to about two inches below her knee.  Without it, her ankle falls over and her foot drags pretty badly because those muscles are still not fully awake, for lack of a better word.   Her PT has been using a stim machine on her left leg during therapy to stimulate those muscles.  It looks like a thick vinyl sweat band with wires that he wraps around her upper calf.  It has allowed her to walk without the brace for a few minutes at a time.

WELL, Wednesday, she went to the State Fair with a group of patients, and she walked around for four hours with that stim machine on her leg. NO BRACE.  FOUR HOURS!

State Fair

The first thing she said to me when they got back was, “Now maybe I can wear some cute shoes!” You know how it is with a girl and her shoes.  And she’s not a huge shoe freak; it’s just that it’s been a while.  She has gladly given up cute shoes so that she can be on her feet instead of in a wheelchair, but it would be nice to wear some cute shoes with a cute dress to church on Sundays.  And I’m here to tell ya – it is hard to get a cute pair of shoes or boots around that brace!  Trust me – we have tried!

I’ll keep you posted on the cute shoe front as things develop.