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He delivered it beautifully, but only after giving us all a scare by almost tipping over in his 500 lb wheelchair when he hit a divet on the grassy slope as he rolled down in staggered procession with his classmates. It also didn’t matter that it took a few extra moments for this ritual with a new twist to be completed. I could feel the wet tears rolling down my cheeks as we all clapped at the end and felt so proud. I will tell you more about all that background later. On that subject of his being complicated, do you know what else just happened? Last week The Christopher Reeve Foundation contacted us and if they could write a letter of recommendation on Archer’s behalf when they heard he was making application for a scholarship from the Swim with Mike Foundation (wonderful group at Unit of Southern California) to help pay for college. It was extremely generous of them to Can you believe that. And I have begun to counsel those who have come and reached out and it really is a wealth of how to’s I guess you could say, of course unique to each injury but many across the board learnings I hope can help others. Nonetheless, their statement was sobering and included and reminded me that Archer had had 9 surgeries in 30 days, endured medical errors that were costly to his recovery such as placing blood pressure medicine in the saline drip bag, suffered 3 heart attacks, one resulting in 6 male medical workers having to beat his chest and back as he flat-lined for 6 minutes, required a subsequent pace maker implanted when he was only 17 years old, survived collapsed lungs on multiple occasions, bore a grueling searing pleuredesis procedure, endured the excruciating pain of a body trying to regulate itself while his entire body had to be rotated up onto his side every few hours 24-7 to drain his lungs and prevent pneumonia from settling into his lungs, endure three large chest tubes (inserted directly into the lungs and attached to containers we could see bedside) to drain fluid, experience his hands and feet curling in muscle atrophy because of the delay in physical therapy, live through his body being iced and de-iced in response to wild swings of high blood pressure, not lose hope at an alarmingly chronic low heart beat, endure constant deep lung suctioning (inserting long suction tubing through the hole in his neck snaking down into his tissue) 24-7 for six months, put up with machines needed for other machines when the use of an inexufflator was used to support the ventilator machine which was to used to support Archer’s breathing, but his body was not able to breathe on its own even with the ventilator support and additional boost because of the extensive nerve damage not providing enough enervation for his diaphragm, endured prolonged use of the ventilator and chronic lung desaturations and arrests in breathing requiring bursts of oxygen and other lung devices, and kept faith even when blebs appeared in his lung tissue and the machines were discontinued. We’ve all gotten better as his programs and now it’s a am weight shift and he can sleep until am. But what it means to go to college is…well, Archer wants to be like any one else who had always planned to go away for college. We are feeling very good about his choice and are searching and networking to those in places of power and influence there. Financial Aid let us know earlier that Archer is the first quadriplegic who has no function below his biceps to attend Penn, and they thought he might be the first with these limitations to attend an Ivy League.
He pitched forward and his body landed on the TBar that he maneuvers to move the chair, causing the chair to race forward. The board of trustees also awarded him the Character and Influence award. The auditorium packed with students and Mc Donogh parents was hush quiet while Archer stopped the powerchair and then manipulated the T-bar to move his big 500 lb chair on wheels to Mr. The achievement and all it has taken to catch up, stay current and excel draped gently and lovingly around his neck. It is interesting and I tell you, it was like a suspense film week to week figuring it out. They sent a copy of the recommendation letter today. I was blown away when in the letter they said that of all the quadriplegics they have counseled and assisted, they have never seen a person with injuries as complicated as Archer’s and that he is the first they have written a recommendation for. But they stated that they had never known of a quadriplegic injury as medically complicated as Archer’s and that is really what gave me pause. It’s not to say look at him, it’s worse than others. It’s more to say, It was that bad, see what is possible. He wants to live in a dorm and be a regular student. We knew absolutely no one at UPenn before Archer’s acceptance, I know feel I have some real champions and open minded people who are willing to help us chart a good solid course of care for his needs. That just told me that we have a lot of educating to do, so that is what I began.
For any of you who might have special prayer requests, please send them to me. Being website and click Interested in Learning More. From the time of tryouts to now he too has grown more and more and he is now, as an 8 grader, 6’ 1” feet tall! He said it was a like a long sports tournament but with a lot more diversity and that it was really fun. So, it’s as if we need a somebody in close proximity but who is invisible until Archer needs him or her. We are actively seeking night nurses, two full time nurses who can care for Archer.
He will forever be shiny on the inside as a result. He never once talked about it until all the performances, and then he wouldn’t stop. He looks back and talked about the rehearsals and the fun they had and what it feels like to have everything so nothing and then have everything come together. Interactions with others and college friendships are as important as the academics and quality of teaching it seems to us.
Archer loves to cook and bake, so the evening was extra special! I watched him lift his right arm and extend his hand, always wrapped carefully in an arm and wrist splint so it’s not floppy and so he can extend it, to shake hands with his School Headmaster. A simple gesture really, but one that takes great effort for Archer as he still has no feeling, no sensation in his arms or his hands. Yes, there was a certain awkwardness, as it was a bit clumsy given that Archer has no means of accepting an award in the usual way, no ability to grasp or hold or even know if an object is touching his body unless he can see it and know from experience before 8-5-15 it’s weight or texture since his brain does not register any signals about any sensations of the body from the shoulders on down as a result of the severance of his spinal cord, but it didn’t matter. He stopped his chair in front of his headmaster, and Mr. It’s surprising how few teachers there are who can teach those subjects, and they certainly are not in the home and hospital pool by and large. I don’t think it would be unusual for many of you though if it had been your son or daughter. They had called last week for an interview with Archer. They noted how Archer had not sustained just a fractured C5 neck which required delicate neck stabilization surgery but a shattered C2-C5 neck which required a complete reconstruction of the bone before it could then be stabilized with pins. We had said then, Archer, we need to get everything we can out of your body to be prepared for what might come your way in future medical surgeries and advances. I’ve felt that way too about some surgeries related to his bowel and urethra too that might be worthwhile but could change the internal workings in such a way that IF he walks someday, might interfere. Oh, I think I’ll send you a little clip of one of our more recent PT sessions. I learned from my eye healer that dead cells in my macula can be awakened. Here’s another picture of where I was waking up the cones of my non-dominant eye, the one with the most macular degeneration. Because his nightly and morning routines each take about 90 minutes now that we have things smoothly running and know what his body needs and how to care for him, it means he is going to bed very late and we need to awaken him early in the morning again.
Like figuring out the location of the dorm room where and what and how big and accessibility given that all doors are card swiped, and figuring out tuition and cost of nursing care and what the days should be like.
Please keep praying for Archer to recover; we are storming heaven! I thought my chest would burst in gratitude for each of them, that gesture, that love, that solidarity. I felt assured and confident that we would figure it out. And really, rehab is the priority of the injured athlete. But even if Archer had not been complicated, he would still have wanted both, to devote time to rehab and to his education. But the truth of it all is that Archer was just very complicated. And all of you, with your prayers created the energy field for what is happening now. We knew it was an unusual surgery, that is, to actually remove a pace maker, but we knew it was getting more and more risky the longer we waited. Archer has been building stamina for a year now to be able to get on to the GEO and stay and remain upright without any heart or Blood Pressure or Autonomic Dysreflexia issues. I just love to watch it move Archer’s feet and legs. There is a mirror in the GEO room in which he can watch himself. For every step you take today or tomorrow, or really just a mindful moment of one step, feel the love and freedom in that step and what it means. Well, there he was crossing the threshold of the screening suite. Man o man, can he move quickly with that stylus on an ipad and an iphone.
This picture was taken outside of The Food Market in Hampden, Baltimore on Archer’s birthday in July. I couldn’t help but feel joy and gratitude in every cell of my being as I watched Archer roll across the Mc Donogh School stage this past Monday. Archer maneuvered his powerchair using the T-bar in which his left hand rests, powered also by his left shoulder pushing his hand as if an extension. I quickly learned that none of these facilities dealing with acute rehab is equipped to teach or provide teaching while in-patient. His recovery was complicated, and honestly, his intellectual ability was complicated as it was near impossible to find teacher matches for him if the goal was to graduate a/k/a staying on course with the classes he would have otherwise been taking which were all AP’s and high level math. But I had no idea it was anything different than any other catastrophic injury like quadriplegia. So, last June, a wonderful surgeon at Johns Hopkins successfully removed it and all 42 feet of leads around Archer’s ventricles. I am sure that mirror neurons are sending messages to his brain, Remember walking? A machine like the GEO simulating what his body knows how to do already, maybe it will not only strengthen, but maybe it will wake it up. He stays up until 1am on many if not most school nights which concerns us on one hand and which we also admire on the other as he is driven to move forward and learn and do well in life despite the injury.
It was a close call, avoided by interception of a faculty member. Another standing ovation, 3 in all, all initiated by the students. Britton’s side to make it easier for his headmaster to drape the yellow gold ribbon and Cum Laude Society pin around Archer’s neck. And there it was, the symbol of an academic achievement worn around his neck. No 18 year old should be required to navigate the adult academia world on issues unrelated to academics. If you have any ideas for us, please pass them along. When he visited last summer and fall, one person in the Engineering School expressed doubt that Archer could be fast enough to code on a computer given he had use of only “one finger”.
We all waited and I think watched as much in curiosity as in amazement. I have met with some closeminded thinkers and I have met with some amazing people who were not only creative thinkers, but I could tell they were believers. I feel pretty good about where we are now at UPenn for Archer, their decision to accept him and his decision to say I do, and the team we are building there for his care. This was similar to Billy’s and my beloved alma mater, University of Virginia, who told Archer on a visit last summer that they couldn’t see 1.