She’ll be back!

Our Ava is coming back to us.  Today, Ava smiled for the first time since Sunday.  


Ava is smiling for the first time as she tells Violet not to eat Dad’s phone.

She had her first meal (French fries!) and we went on a brief stroller ride outside, using a bed sheet to protect her face from the sun.   She sat up and used her left hand to remove several items from a box and was just as chatty as could be!

Prayers have been answered.  I am nervous to tell you this because I can hardly process it myself.  There is not one place that will consider Ava as a patient for nerve transplants and other similar work….THERE ARE TWO!!!!  In fact, Joe has us an appointment at Mayo to work with their team of experts from June 1-3.  We were unable to schedule but our trauma surgeon assures us that he has contacted Washington University in St. Louis and they are also interested in consulting with us.  Ava needs to heal for a month, then we will do an initial visit, and consider surgery at 3 months.  She will never again know fine skills in her right hand yet even if she had some function, we are optimistic that would go a long way as far as ability, comfort, and safety. 

Joe has begun eating again.  My exhaustion is at a workable level. The huge dark cloud that hung over us last night has been whisked away.  Best of all, our Ava is smiling again.  God has wrapped His arms around our precious girl and we give Him all the glory.  Thank you.  


4 days after the accident

I can’t begin to express the appreciation I have for everyone’s support.  I have honestly felt God’s presence yesterday during a prayer over Ava.  

 Joe and I are struggling fiercely with the thoughts of Ava missing out on so many things as she navigates life without use of her right arm. Recorders in 3rd grade.  Rock climbing wall in the YMCA pool.  Carrying a lunch tray for yourself in kindergarten. We can’t believe that 3 days ago we were so concerned about something as superficial as stitches and scrapes on her face. 

She’s still the same girl.  I keep reminding myself of that.  We had a few episodes last night with pain control yet I remained focused on seeing her smile again.  On hearing her infectious laugh.  It’ so hard to think about, but had the force of her fall been absorbed by her head, there is a likely chance that possibility we wouldn’t still have our Ava. 


This is the view from our window at sioux falls childrens

 The pediatric orthopedic surgeon here at Sanford Sioux Falls immediately recommended reaching out to Gilette’s hospital in Minneapolis/St. Paul.   Yesterday afternoon, we received word back that her MRI has been reviewed by their top specialist there and the reply from them was ‘No, thanks.’   It breaks our hearts to learn that she so quickly was deemed not a candidate for an attempted fix by them.  

Susan E. Mackinnon, MD is the lady on my mind this morning.  She is the chief in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery with Washington University in St. Louis.  From what I understand, she is THE top lady in the world as far as nerve transplantation goes.  She was out of the office by the time out surgeons here reached out to her yesterday. I ask you to join me in prayer that she reviews Ava’s MRI this morning and is willing to at least explore some options. 

A new chapter begins this morning on Ava’s life:  the physical therapy and occupational therapy will be here soon to make a splint for her.  

I must go now.  Thank you for your support. 

Our Ava Bear

Yesterday, as we were driving home from lunch with Joe’s family, the weather was just glorious so we decided to invite friends over for a picnic on some land we own with lake shore on one end of it. 

We all rested a bit while I invited some people and then Joe took our 3 oldest (Vince 9, Liv 7, and Ava 4) out to that farm with lawnchairs, sandbox toys, and firewood.  I was getting food ready while Violet was finishing her nap.   In the midst of loading things into our car, Joe called and asked me to grab a rake.  I told him I would be there shortly.  

It takes about 7 minutes to get from our house to that farm.  Joe called me as I was about to turn on to the tar road, which is halfway. The conversation is pretty blurry to me — honestly all I can remember is that he was shouting Ava needed to go the ER and I told him I was crossing the bridge and would be there as quickly as I could. 


Accidents happen so fast.  We’ve all heard that.  Joe was going to go to his parent’s place which is just a mile away to grab something he’d forgotten.  Ava wanted to stay and play on the sand with Vince but Joe wasn’t going to leave her there alone. Seemed dangerous with the lakeshore 100 feet away.  So, he buckled Liv in the passenger seat of our John Deere Gator and then buckled Ava in the back seat behind Liv.  In those next few moments, we are guessing she unbuckled herself (a skill we have been working on with her). As he rounded a corner, inertia took Ava out and landed her face down on the crushed rock driveway.   I guess it is not what you are supposed to do, but Joe’s first reaction was what any Dad’s would be — you scoop that child up in your arms as fast as you can.   

Joe ( with Ava in his arms), Vince and Liv got in our car and we raced to the hospital.  Her right lung suffered a contusion so they got her some oxygen and did a few other basic stuff like a catheter and an IV line.  

Then, we waited for what seemed like an eternity for a ride to Sioux Falls.   Their helicopter had just left, so we waited for a plane.  It took forever.  Lots of transferring between this ambulance to that plane to a different ambulance to a drive from that airport to the next ER, you get the drift. Part of me feels like we could have took turns running pushing her bed here for 60 miles and would have gotten her to see the pediatric trauma surgeon faster.  

Then, after waiting for our turn for our CT scan, the good news.   No injuries to her head, which was our main concern.  The contusion to her right lung was minor, as was the one to her liver.  She has quite a bit of bruising to her left hip (perhaps from the seatbelt) but moreover, abrasions to her face and a tear that is vertical and horizontal over her lip with a hole that goes through the whole way.  We are managing her pain and trying to comfort her as we now wait all day for plastic surgery at about 5:00.  

Ava has always been our ‘medical child’.  She’s had surgeries for a tear duct, ongoing vision issues, as well as gross and fine motor delays and speech issues.  We’ve seen lots of specialists and run lots of tests in her 4 years and no real diagnosis.  She has hypotnoia (low muscle tone) which is really just a symptom that is causing all of her delays.  If I were a guessing person, I would say that when my 23 chromosomes combined with Joe’s, there’s a few micro deletions or micro duplications.  In any case, she is the way God designed her and just the most precious child and the biggest blessing you could ever know. 

So, if you are reading this today, pray for a skilled plastic surgeon and simple recovery from the anesthesia.  Pray that she is well enough to go home tonight and transitions smoothly. If you think of her in the days to come or read this months later,  well really…just keep praying for her.  We feel so blessed by the outpouring of everyone’s support.