Friday, August 31, 2012

So Grateful !

August 16th 2012
One month after their awful car accident, Seth and Caroline, Tommy and Cali are a family on the mend.  So many of you have blessed them in the process with your faith and prayers, letters of encouragement, and generous donations.

On Wednesday, August 1st, we arrived in South Africa to a warm smile and hug from Seth but a clear message that he was ready to get out of the hospital.  Hospital food, interruptions, shared rooms, and being woken up to take your sleeping pill had taken it's toll and his surgeon, Dr. Vanheerden, agreed that he had progressed enough to graduate to out patient physical therapy.
Of the many kind visits and gestures given, one was from George and Carolyn Bonnet who offered their home for Seth to stay.  They currently live in Johannesburg and direct the physical facilities work of the LDS Church in much of Africa.  Their home and help to Seth was perfect and in walking distance to and from his physical therapy.  They also provided another room for Annie or I to stay in while we helped Seth along.
 For the rest of the family it was an evolving saga of various LDS families in Johannesburg offering homes to stay in, meals, play dates for Tommy, loaned cars, and an open offer for other assistance had we needed.  Once the flu had struck Cali and Tommy (after numerous night trips to the bathroom, Tommy declared that he was the "Vomit Super Hero"), and Caroline was scheduled for surgery on her heel, we needed an independent place to stay.  Like everything else in this blessed story, the way opened for us to have two apartments on the LDS Temple grounds complex-- just right for our needs and only a ten minute drive to meet with Seth at the Bonnet home.  To compliment the housing blessing, just when one car needed to be returned to trusting and gracious lenders, another became available until we left.  The beautiful blue skies obscure the fact that  an antarctic cold front blew through with snow and freezing temperatures as well.- quite a shock to our Fiji adjusted bodies.
Johannesburg, South Africa LDS Temple getting a new slate roof
In between Lego construction, baths and naps, we slipped in excursions with Tommy and Cali to the zoo, a bird park, a mall, grocery stores, and walks on the beautiful temple grounds to give them a diversion and provide Caroline with needed rest and opportunities to be with Seth alone.

Even though they were the ones who needed the date, one night Seth and Caroline surprised us with tickets to see Andre Rieu in concert, a world renown violinist.  It was a night to be remembered as his Johann Strauss orchestra was joined by the Sowetto Gospel Choir and others.
For a "taste", here is a bite:

Once everyone seemed done with the bug, we all got together for some afternoons and dinnertimes.  Cali was happy to be with daddy again and Tommy loved building lego creations and playing with him.

First time together at church in Johannesburg, August 19th
Five weeks after the accident, Seth had x-rays and then met with his doctor.  His vertebrae appear to be in proper alignment and mending well; they should fully calcify within a year's time.  The soft tissue swelling is reducing but combined with the nerve damage still causes a significant amount of pain and loss of muscle strength.  By mid September the brace can come off for 30 minutes a day morning and night and continue to increase that with each day.  As good as that sounds, Seth is warned that his neck muscles will spasm and be very painful as they re-learn to support his head without the brace.   Given all this we are so grateful to witness the strides he is making and he is certainly pleased as well.  Here is a little sample of his work in progress starting with his departure from the hospital:
On Saturday, September 1st, Seth is scheduled to fly back to Zambia to join his family.  Caroline's heel surgery has appeared to be successful and she and the kids previously flew back to Zambia the same day we left (August 23rd).  She has been so courageous as she coped with her own serious injury, surgery, mothering, and supporting Seth while bouncing around Africa from one hospital to another and in various homes.  It was great for us to be helpful and to fall in love again with Tommy and Cali (who we only knew as an infant).  Gratefully, Vicki Raynor (Caroline's mother), arrived the morning Caroline and the kids were flying out and accompanied them to Lusaka (Vicki's sister also arrived later that night). Vicki will stay 6 weeks with them to help Caroline and the kids. Periodic updates on Seth and Caroline's family may be found on their "Road to Recovery" website:

How appreciative we all are for all the support and love and for those among you who made our trip possible. Leaving was bittersweet but an important step as they move forward on their road to recovery. So much progress has been made and we are amazed at their courage, and we continue to acknowledge God's loving hand in all that has occurred.

Sydney, Australia was our stay-over stop on the way back to Fiji -- what a beautiful city!

Next stop - Fiji !


emily a. said...

Wow, what a whirlwind of a trip. It was cool seeing Seth do his PT exercises and see how much amazing progress he's made.

Almost made me cry to see Caroline with her canes. I bet her arms have gotten quite a bit stronger.

Glad you are back in Fiji now, re-uniting with friends and are now off on another new adventure!

Leah said...

Thanks so much for this update. It's really good to see pictures and video with you and them. Does my heart good. So happy you were there with them to help and give love during their important recovery time.

Now on to Tavenui!!

Mama Nirvana said...

So glad to read the update of Caroline and Seth and family. And I'm so, so happy you guys got to spend that time with them. I had to smile when I saw Tommy's scar on his forehead. When my husband was about the same age, he smacked heads with his older brother and his forehead completely split down the middle. He got lots of stitches and his mother told him for years that his scar would grow up into his head and disappear. Well, that never happened, but his scar is barely visible -- you would never notice it. It is a story that is told often in his family :)

Matt said...

So great to see such progress. The video was awesome....a bit of a pit in my stomach occurred upon seeing the cafeteria and Sandton, but then got so much better after that especially seeing the PT exercises.

Strahls said...

Many miracles and tender mercies have blessed your family. So glad to see their smiling faces and cheerful countenances after all they have been through. Hope the road to recovery is sure and steady. We look forward to having them in the ward this fall! <3

Strahls said...

Many miracles and tender mercies have blessed your family. So glad to see their smiling faces and cheerful countenances after all they have been through. Hope the road to recovery is sure and steady. We look forward to having them in the ward this fall! <3

Running Rinnes said...

How good it is to see these photos. The smiles on everyones' faces says it all. Hurray for the positive spirit that runs through all of the Sherry family--spouses and grandchildren included. We love your wonderful example!