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I am so grateful to his directors for spotting a little diamond in the rough. And yet, how debilitating that could be to have someone with him all day long, who did these things, but also it seems would be a barrier to his making friends and having to rely on the good will of others. Basically being his hands and his eyes when he can’t turn his body to see.
And, I honestly believe that with technology and Archer’s countless hours put in on digital art these days, he will be close to free handing soon as he is on fire with his art designs. Sorry I am rambling, there is so much to tell you and I’m just wanting to hit some highlights.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.We are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received. No hardware in the body other than the rods in the neck. The only thing that might give us trouble is they are looking for a C5 injury. We would plan to go for the surgery as soon as Archer graduates in June. If selected, it would mean the potential for him to regain his triceps, so he would have the muscle in the back of his arm to move his elbow, which would make Archer very very happy. And, it’s as if a door opened that we hadn’t anticipated at least at this moment. So many people from around the world have been healed, Christians and non-Christians. There is a sense of self in unity with God and with God through others. And a great deal of laughter and conversation and quiet prayer. I smiled over the phone lines, Oh you know all the usual stuff that prevented Archer from going. And also being in close proximity to the School of Engineering was very important. I took him after a snowstorm in March and there were a few streets that were difficult to cross given UPenn are in the middle of Philadelphia. We are in the beginning of seeing the fruits of a beginning collaboration at UPenn.Click Here for more info about how the donations are processed to help Archer. But you’ve got to get your son the hell out of there. She confirmed what I felt, what I knew but did not know. Archer as you know is very “high injury” as they say, meaning high on the C spine, a/k/a not good, as a C2-C5 burst, but technically he is a C5 as that is where they placed his rods after they reconstructed his neck from the donor (thank you again, dear donor, you donated your hip bone and Archer is the beneficiary). It could also mean a restoration of the sensation in his arms below the elbow to his wrists, which could mean he might be able to grasp items between his two wrists because he could feel them rather than just meet such items now with stiff extension arms and droopy hands. Bruno Lanteri, please intercede for us as we ask for mercy. So, you might be assuming that Archer is going with me. Well, that woman came in with her son like a drill sergeant. We didn’t want to be demanding nor did I want a situation where we were adding things. We really did explore a number of dorms, but either facilities or disabilities had concerns or I had concerns. The curb cuts were still icy in some places but the most typical scenario was that the snow for walkers had been plowed and dumped in the curb cut, the only place someone in a wheelchair can go to get up onto a sidewalk. Can you believe it, already well into a new year and half way into year two for us on this journey with Archer and his quadriplegia. Last fall, Archer was admitted Early Decision into the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania as part of the class of 2021. Stepping back to look at the big picture, it’s a big deal that he is even graduating from high school on time.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.
Oh while I’m playing a little catch-up and we’re into Broadway, yes, Archer and Billy did go to see Stephen Colbert on his show a few weeks ago. Like figuring out PT and OT when the facility is a few miles away.
But it’s a lot, like finding at UPenn Medicine the 18-22 medical specialists who can be consulted when needed.
After all, Archer needs help 24-7 and during the day, opening doors, holding doors, taking his hoodies on and off, charging his phone and ipad, putting food on a plate or tray, giving his credit card or meal plan card to a cashier, being fed, having his Camel back water pack refilled, emptying his cath bag, getting the hair out of his face if windblown, putting his foot back on the foot plates of his chair if one falls off the plate, letting him know if there are people behind him when he turns in his chair, etc.
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.
We appreciate your prayers, support and words of hope during this time when it matters most. I was so naïve in so many ways, not knowing what I know now. Archer said he wanted to gradate with his class, which meant that Archer could not lose any time from school. So, that was last Friday and we set up a conference this past Monday. But the answer was still, No for the trip to Lourdes, at least for now. But, both also being over 6 feet tall, the nice roommate situation did not last long as they separated us after about a week since the KKI hospital room literally did not have enough room for two extra long beds. He opened his big arms wide and threw back his head and his sweet face and mouth opened wide to exclaim in very labored speech HOWWWWW’s ARRRRRRCHHHHER? I was so bowled over I almost fell over but instead fell into that big embrace of his. I’ll tell you more about our medical collaboration in another post. There is so very much to do, and when each of us offers even just a little bit, it makes the world better. He also looked at and thought long and hard about Georgia Tech for it’s excellent engineering and climate, and at USC in Los Angeles for its excellent engineering and film and it’s climate, and at UCLA but we saw with a visit Bill made on Archer’s behalf that the terrain of of the school was too hilly and too many steps. So, Archer said he really liked the vibe of Philly and the campus was easy to navigate and it was close enough to home that if any emergency arose, he knew we could be there in a couple hours, and even stay with him the first couple or so months while going back and forth.