Our Journey to Healing Day 72

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2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Good morning friends and family! I realize these blogs have become fewer and further between and I am looking forward to catching you up on all sorts of informative things that have happened to us since arriving in Chicago. And since there are so many things, I have decided to do this in the form of a Top 10 list! Now, do not judge the numbers on the side as they do not reflect the importance of the item. They just merely help me keep track of how many points I have left to make.

Ok. Are you ready? Here we go!

10.  Derek's room is on the 9th floor of RIC (the rehab facility). I was actually a little disappointed in the beginning because the 7th floor is dedicated to just spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. We are on the "catch all" floor which contains a variety of injuries. I am now no longer disappointed. The 9th floor has been amazing and we are really enjoying our team of doctors, therapists, and nurses we work with each day. Our floor is actually the protocol floor for the new rehabilitation hospital which opens in March 2017. Because of this, we have an awesome gym and get to try out all the new fancy equipment.

9. Every day he gets time with each of his therapists which help him with different skills. The first is PT (Physical Therapy). This group helps with muscle training, keeping his balance, laying & sitting, and overall strength. Eventually, they will be the ones who teach us car transfers and mobility in the home. We love our main PT, Mo.

8. His OT (Occupational Therapy) team focuses mainly on life skills. They have been helping him learn how to get dressed, transferring in and out of his chair, and also balance. Derek actually dressed himself yesterday and I was SO proud. It did take 1.5 hours but shorts and a tee- shirt has never looked so good. Zoe is our main OT and she loves goats. So obviously, I love her.

7. The RT (Recreational Therapy) group really gets to do the fun stuff with us. Their goal is to get us back in the community and to teach Derek adaptive ways to continue doing things he loves. We did get to go to a driving range and earlier this week we were able to take a Hand Bike out on the track. He loved it! Shana, our RT, is always very intentional in making sure we get 1:1 time and has been an awesome source of knowledge. Check out Adaptive Sports to see where I hope our next vacation can be.

6. His neck brace. Don't worry friends, that thing is coming off kinda soon. Many people have asked why he still has that bad boy on. As a result of the accident, he did fracture a little piece of his skull on his "knowledge knot". I actually have no idea the medical terminology, but it is the little knot on the back of you head. The brace will be coming off on September 15th and we are really looking forward to that day.

5. Our timeline is slowly becoming more clear with each passing week! Derek will be an inpatient here until the end of September and then will be released for Day Rehab. We will continue with Day Rehab for at least 6-8 weeks here in Chicago. Day Rehab is a program where he will continue meeting with OT & PT at least 3x a week for a few hours each visit. Since he will be cleared medically, we can then go home at night after rehab! No more overnight hospital stays!!

The family that has been lending me their condo has been incredible and is allowing us to continue living here until we return to Indy. The condo is set up really well for Derek and he has already been here a few times. In fact, we cooked dinner together here last night!

Although we have enjoyed our stay in Chicago, we are looking forward to moving back to Indianapolis hopefully by Christmas.

4. Many of you have asked about  Bunker and life after rehab. We have had some great life talks over the last few weeks and have made some decisions. For those of you who know Bunker, you know it is not a realistic housing option for someone with a SCI. We have decided to pursue renting an apartment downtown for the foreseeable future.

Renting downtown has become our best option due to the fact that Derek will not be able to drive for awhile but is still planning on returning to work. Our hopes is to find an apartment very close to his office!

Soap Box time. ADA (the American Disability Act) does require apartment complexes to have a certain number for handicap accessible apartments, which is awesome. They DO NOT require those apartments to be rented by individuals who need an accessible apartment, which is not awesome. Do you see where I am going here? One apartment complex had only 3 accessible apartments, and another only had 4. So, out of the 3 large complexes I called, there are only 13 total apartments we could live in and they are all booked. Some apartments even give discounts to people to encourage them to rent out a handicap space since they are "less desirable".

We are hoping to start renting in December so I am a little too early to start our hunt anyways. Please pray with us that we can find an apartment perfect for Derek and very close to work.

In regards to Bunker, we will eventually sell and start over our housing dreams. So if you want a Tiny House, let us know :)

3. Derek's positive attitude continues to blow me away and encourage others on the floor. We have been on the Spinal Cord Floor a few times for different sessions and I cannot get over how well Derek is handling it all. Obviously we see a variety of attitudes and families dealing with similar situations and I can't help but know it is because of Derek's faith which sets him apart.

2. We are week 3 into the Exo-Skeleton and they have been keeping him very busy! He usually walks in the Exo for at least an hour a day. After the first day of training, the doctor called him their "golden child". I wish I could show you all pictures but no videos/ photos regarding the study is allowed on social media. The study ends around September 17th. They will then do a final MRI and see if there were any positive results.

1. The amount of love and support we have received is incredible. I wish I could reach out to each one of you individually and just give you a big squeeze. Derek normally gets a piece of mail at least every day, which is amazing! We had a visitor last week who was wondering the hall looking for Derek and the nurse said, "I assume you are looking for Derek? He always has so many visitors!"

Derek's mailing address is: RIC Attn: Derek Lavender 345 East Superior Street Chicago, IL 60611

Also, thank you all for the financial support as well. We are absolutely blown away by the GoFundMe page, gift cards, checks, and care packages we have received.  The average cost of getting someone with a SCI off the ground the first year is $250,000. Don't worry, it gets a lot less expensive after year 1!! :) We just really appreciate you ALL. Please know it is all going towards an incredible man and helping him regain his independence.

Well. How is that for the world's longest Top 10 list?? For prayers, please continue to pray for his infection. The fever broke this weekend but we are continue antibiotics for the rest of the week. Also, pray for the roommate situation. We are about to be on roommate #5 and we are really praying for another Ryan in our lives!

P.S. This photo is circa 2010 when Cerulean had their Ugly Sweater competition. He borrowed his dad's sweater and when we got back to his house after the Christmas party, his dad was upset that Derek threw the sweater on the dryer. Jay said, "Hey hang that back up! I was going to wear it tomorrow!". This picture always just makes me so happy.

With Love,

The Lavenders