How we are hanging in

It has been nearly 2 weeks since the accident and a week since we’ve come home.  How are we hanging in?  Well, it is a mixed bag.

Ava is running around at such a speed that I would almost classify it as reckless.  We are sprinting around here to try to make sure she isn’t dancing on the stairs or playing dress up with hats blinding her as she runs around.   Even with my attempts to keep her safe, she fell Wedneday night (she was just inches out of arm’s reach) and needed to go back to the ER for stitches under her chin.  I guess Joe and I have been given a lot of perspective lately because it really doesn’t seem like nearly the crisis it would have earlier in our lives.

People who have played with Ava ask me if she has always been left-handed.  No, she hasn’t….she is just that determined to do everything she used to enjoy before the accident. She hates showers now and used to love them. She despises any sort of talk of the accident and stretches or movement with her arm. However, she is still the same charming Ava and I cherish every moment with her regardless of her attitude.

I gained a love for gardening from my parents, so while they were here, we went to a local greenhouse, Grandpa’s Fun Farm. In this photo, Ava is gathering glass clippings to put in the bottom of the planters.

A few small notes:  on Tuesday, she had stitches removed (Doctor said her skin looked great and to wear floppy sun hats and SPF 1000 for 9 months), her eyes dilated (no damage found just a routine update), and blood drawn.  She was quite feisty with those lab techs!  We have a new shoulder-immobilizing brace for her and just had her measured for a nicer hand splint.  Three times a week, we are doing occupational therapy to develop her left-handed skills and physical therapy to maintain some joint mobility and reduce swelling.  They are both conveniently located here in Worthington.

Ava minutes before having her stitches removed. We met a lady in the waiting room of the plastic surgeon’s office. In God’s timing, she had just one arm — had lost the other in a car accident in 2008. We used the time to chat with her about the MANY things she is able to do!

We have been on our phones a lot trying to line things up for some consultations with Ava for nerve grafts and nerve transplants.  I wish I knew exactly what the plan is and that I could share it with you, but it all seems so cutting-edge that there isn’t a clear answer. From what I can tell, each situation is so unique that there is no expected response.   It appears like the chance of getting any finger dexterity back is minimal.  However, it would be huge if she were able to regain elbow extension, and it looks like that happens in some cases.  From what we’ve heard and read, it seems likely that surgery would take place at about the 3- month mark, so late July.

As for the rest of the family, life is as busy as ever.  Vince finished up his state project, and I now know more about Washington than I ever really knew I would want to.


Vince and Liv just had their piano recital this morning and then I gave a tour of our dairy to a group of people from throughout Minnesota who have Silver Streamer campers. Never a dull moment!

Liv and Ava in the bottom right corner.

Emotionally, some times are better than others.  When we are really busy, sometimes it honestly seems like nothing has changed.  I cry often when I see her battling through something that used to be simple.  Usually, Joe seems ready to handle the situation when I can’t.  I always cry when I read people’s comments and stories, or notice how many people have watched a video of Ava crawling through a tunnel.  At night after the kids go to bed, I open up cards and pour my heart to the Lord.  Those are the hardest times for sure.

Joe and I have always been blessed with a marriage that contains very little arguing or anything like that. I think that is likely just foresight on God’s part, knowing there would need to be a strong foundation so that our family could carry on. We are both trying hard to resist any sort of “if only” thinking.  That second-guessing of the Lord’s plan is not productive, and certainly doesn’t help Ava.

I am still begging you to pray for all of us.  For continued steadiness in our marriage.  For all our other children to be understanding of the situation.  Mostly though, just pray for Ava.  That she stays so determined.  That she will blow the doctors away with her healing. That she stays safe!  I can’t begin to thank each one of you enough.

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11 thoughts on “How we are hanging in

  1. God’s Blessing Rita , continued prayers and thoughts for all. Ava’s a fighter just like her parents . May you find strength in God and all the people that you call family , friends , community and the great Doctor that will work miracle on your sweet little girl. All the best . Paul & Amy & Family ♡♡♡

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  2. I am a dance mom from Kay’s. On one of your previous posts you mentioned things that could be done one handed. French horn primarily uses the left hand. I play French horn and had a friend in high school who also played horn (very well) who had lost most of her functionality in her right arm due to epilepsy. Your family is in our prayers.

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  3. thank you for sharing this part of your lives, will pray for you all and all involved with helping sweet Ava. The journey may be hard, but God is there beside you always.

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  4. We are definitely keeping your entire family in our thoughts and prayers. The other night we were having a tougher night getting Easton to go to bed. He came out if his room, much to my dismay, and as I was scolding him to get back in his room he matter of factly said, “but mom we forgot to pray for Ava tonight and Mrs. Luinenberg said we had to pray for her”! Needless to stay I stopped in my tracks and we sat down on his bed and prayed for Ava and for so many blessings we so often take for granted. You guys are an amazing family and we will continue to keep you in our prayers!

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  5. Rita and Joe, Thoughts of your family come so often and hopes for all to continue doing well abound. Little Ava is just amazing! We look forward to more progress and really appreciate the updates on your family and farm activities. Hugs for all! Karen and Chuck

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  6. Rita and family,
    I read about Ava’s accident in the Dairy Star and since came to your blog to read all or your posts. I have to say I am so inspired by your strength and your faith in God and all the blessings you have seen despite this difficult situation. You are so right. He has a plan, even though it can be difficult to understand at times. I wish Ava and your family continued strength and many more blessings, and of course, you are all in my prayers. Angela

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  7. So many prayers for you and your family. A friend shared this with me earlier this week, and I’d like to share it with you:
    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

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