Update on former Desert Christian athlete Tori Cahillby Andy Morales on Jun. 27, 2013, under Sports
I did a small story on former Desert Christian basketball all-star Tori Cahill back in early January and I felt like it was time for an update because of all the good news that has come since then.
If you recall, Tori was in a severe rollover accident that caused injuries to her body and brain but, thankfully, not to her soul. I’m glad I had the chance to visit with Tori and her family while she was in intensive care before she was moved back to her home in California to be with her family.
The Cahill’s are a deeply religious family with a loving structure that includes many friends, family members, nurses and people who have never seen Tori but who have sent their prayers.
I asked her parents to send me an update. Tori is eating, in physical therapy, communicating, and, more importantly, showing her personality. Having spent much of my life working with children with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I can say from experience that humor and laughter (even if just a smile) can help heal the child and the caretaker. Hence, the emergence of a personality makes all the difference.
I say ‘heal the caretaker’ because there is a tremendous weight that is placed on parents and others who care for an injured child. Perhaps, your thoughts and your prayers can help lift some of that burden….
Dear family, friends and supporters worldwide,
I thought it would be a good time to give a more detailed update. It is with great praise and thanks I get to write you. Last time I did so I gave information starting with her feet and moved up to report progress for her brain.
How are Tori’s the and feet, ankles and legs doing?
For the most part her progress is going very well. She goes to therapy four times a week. Last week she was peddling with her right leg with some assistance. They use a small wheel for her feet only. She is able to move the peddle around with some help. Sometimes, At times she moves her right side but it seems she is doing unconsciously. It looks like a reflex and/or automatic. He trainer keeps reminding her the “switches” will be coming on as they go forward. She is strong and working hard. We are thankful for the amount of muscle tone and strength Tori has in her legs. During her physical therapy they stand her up to continue to develop her leg muscles. They get her to try to walk with certain aids for her. This is very cumbersome at this time. It is all progress though!
Is Tori still being fed through a feeding tube?
Tori is eating regular food more and more. She is enjoying it too. Tammy uses the feeding tube to keep her nutrition and feed her very healthy items. Last night she gave her some fish oils and greens. All the food she eats is usually very good and intended by my wonderful wife to be so.
A few weeks back, I gave her (snuck her) her first carbonated drink, She smile big time and chugged it thru her straw. Of course it was a healthy root beer drink. A week after that I gave her the first apple and peanut butter. She dug in and used her left hand and made a mess of it all. I learned thru almost choking her how small to cut the pieces. Her hands, bed, clothes and I were covered in peanut butter. The simplest pleasures are a real joy for her. Last Sunday I made her scrambled eggs and tortillas, another first. She downed it again. She was very happy but I am now watched carefully by….(you know who).
Tammy has been advised by her Wellness Doctor and trainer to feed her more protein. We do give her protein shakes and lots of fruit and vegetables.
How are Tori’s elbows, wrists and hands doing?
Tori is still receiving different types of therapy for her right hand, elbow and shoulder. The left side is all there. The look, range of motion and the reduction in pain in the right side have contributed to an excellent report. She is fully aware what the therapist meant to do and she works it as best she can. It will take time but she is working the system.
Are there any new developments in her therapy?
She has 2 different firms who she sees. At St. Jude they do 3 types of therapies: physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy for about an hour each at varying times. These therapies continue to push her to use every muscle she can with a wide variety of exercises.
Speech therapy has evolved from using new strategies. As Tammy wrote she uses her hands a lot. She can also use her head to indicate a yes or no. Today they want her to try to blow out and use her mouth and tongue in new ways. We see new attempts each week as she tries to be as clear as she can. In doing so she is obviously “firing” on my brain cells to accomplish this.
I have some fun testing new things, watching and tracking any of her movements to search out ways for her to communicate. The other day she was hungry and as we drove up to the house she used her pointer finger to her mouth to indicate she wanted food.
How are Tori’s neck and brain doing?
She has her new artificial bone flap surgery this week on Thursday. Her infection is gone so we seem to have a clear to go.
I think I am seeing her the right side of her brain do more and more of what the left side is meant to do. Or perhaps the left side is kicking in more. Either way, we are grateful beyond words for what the Lord is doing!!
We are most grateful!!
Feeling like the grand finale is approaching in these final hours as I wait impatiently for the nurse to say we are being discharged.
I checked out of the hotel early this morning racing to Tori’s room to wait, wait, and wait on doctors time lines. For some reason theses past 4 days have felt like being in the 9 month of pregnancy where the end is near but never ending. I have had my share of life in a hospital and hope it is a long time before coming back.
Ok…enough complaining because Tori has done amazing! No fever, no pain, except when they pulled the draining tube out of her head with no meds. I was not in the room but the nurse who was with her was mad at the doc who did it. She said Tori cried and cried while he mercilessly did his thing without anything to help her with the pain. Hopefully she will not remember..
One of the blessings of not having short term memory. So, feels like now with this behind us we can settle into a routine that will help her in her long term recovery. With a newly shaving head we are off to a fresh start on many levels. Life has felt so fragmented as each day has taken on its on coarse. Some since of predictable scheduling will be best for all especially Tori. Again as I try to bring some since of normal to our life I have to keep looking up and relinquish control to the areas of life that do not belong to me.
This past few weeks I found myself deep in some home projects which created a bit more chaos then I should of taken on. I think I was creating a distraction from the difficulty of the past several months. It always amazing me to see how we as God’s children run from pain by redirecting our focus which in the end the heartache continues to remain as soon as we sit still long enough to feel. For me, I often miss the place of intimacy with God when I keep myself too busy to rest in His presence.
The lessons for me continue as Tori remains an instrument for His good purposes. Her smile and childlike look in her eyes displays such an innocence. By His grace she does not seem to be suffering in anyway. The loss at this point is probably harder on all of us who love her then it is for her since she cannot mentally take in all that has happened.
A good friend named Donny is praying about running a marathon pushing Tori this fall in a wheel chair.. He has ran in a couple of Iron man events and feels like he is up for the challenges of pushing an extra 160lbs. Also Kara and Cheryl Dismuke are hosting a movie night fundraiser which is being held at Orange Lutheran High on sat the 28th of July. I will keep in informed on both of these events when I have more details.
Meanwhile I ask the Holy Spirit to continue to prompt your heart to intercede on Tori’s behalf. This next week will be taking a break from therapy as she will be needing rest. A concern I have is for an insatiable appetite. Every two minutes she is begging for food and can’t seem to feel full. Not sure why but I need to check with doc to see if it is a brain issue. Meanwhile I am trying to find snacks that will not cause her to gain too much weight. She rejects carrots, celery and rice cakes!! :) I don’t blame her.. Tim left for Idaho to help Tysen and Elise move back to the area. Tawny and Brandon also moved to Brea next to Taylore and Tim. What a blessing for Tori to have all her siblings close to her while she recovers. She continues to light up when they walk in the room.
My mom has been at the hospital during this entire time. Please pray for her as she contains to battle stage 4 lung cancer. The Chemo is taking its toll on her body. She has been such a trooper standing with us in this even when she feels terrible. A Nana’s love pushes through! Will give an update when I am able.
I love you ALL Tammy