The pictures below depict Marks joy on the day he took possession of his power wheelchair. The design and assembly of the device, crafted to fit his tall stature and functional capabilities, took more than a year to complete. The chair, manufactured in Sweden, allows independent control by Mark or his attendants, who are now learning the art of navigation over irregular pavements, through busy streets, and the people hazards of driving in shopping centers. Mark has daily lessons in parking lots that allow for his sometimes-unpredictable changes of direction! Many hours of persistent practice will be required for him to be a truly independent driver.
During the past few months, Mark has been undergoing physical and occupational therapies at the nearby rehabilitation facility of Memorial Hospital with a team of expert practitioners working under the guidance of the specialist who has overseen Marks case since the time of the accident. Concurrently, he is receiving treatment under Dr. Ming Quing Zhu, a renowned specialist in traditional Chinese medical arts and the founder of a specialized form of cranial acupuncture that has been demonstrated to be extraordinarily effective in treating neurological disorders. Mark is fortunate indeed to have such qualified practitioners work with him and the positive progress is clearly visible to those around him.
As always, Marks patience, forbearance, and good humor are a source of joy to the many people helping him along a most demanding path.
Grahame and Hideko,
OUR GRATEFUL PRAYER
Mark has the good fortune to be born on January 25, a time when people around the world commemorate the birthday of Scotlands famous National Bard, Robert Burns. The pictures below depict a traditional Burns supper joined by family and friends to celebrate Marks birthday. He is now nineteen and this was his third birthday since the accident. He was able to enjoy his Haggis and a taste of the national beverage.
Fair fa your honest, sonsie face... Rabbie Burns, To a Haggis, 1786
We had more to celebrate. The previous day, principal members of Marks medical team confirmed our observations that Mark is continuing to make neurological improvement. Former considerations of a surgical intervention to increase the motor range of his arms have therefore been postponed. One doctor commented that sheer persistence is now paying off. Those that remember his condition at the time of his accident will truly recognize how far he was traveled along the road to recovery.
Challenges ahead are to increase his access to daily life through greater mobility. We are exploring options for a power-assisted chair and a wheelchair-accessible van. Such mechanical assistance will help facilitate his rehabilitation.
Many people participate in the quest to assist Mark along his difficult road and our Burns supper prayer was that of gratitude to all who help.
THE VOICE OF SILENCE
The brain stem is an essential component of our internal computer. Mark was brutally introduced to this vital piece of anatomy when the accident took his brain stem out of action. He survived with what is known as locked-in syndrome. His mind, volition, and desires intact, he is presently imprisoned inside his own body, with limited ability to vocalize or move.
Mark is young, strong, and very determined. It is possible he may recover all or part of his former capabilities through natural healing processes. It is also possible that rapid advances in medical science may soon speed those processes. In the meantime, we must help him unlock the door of his prison through technology.
These pictures depict his working with a computer-driven device that will enable him to speak using his right hand. There will be many arduous hours before a synthesized voice enables him to effectively use to communicate. However, he is fortunate indeed to have access to such a powerful tool. He is progressing well, he is patient, and he is happy.
We send our greetings for the holiday season and wish you well during the coming year.
How dearly I would like to be able to respond with something
other than silence...
Grahame and Hideko
September 12, 2001
THE FRIENDS OF SUMMER 2001
Mark and his family were blessed that a group of women came together to help with his care and progress through the long summer school recess. These photographs depict caregivers, therapists, and friends from Austria, California, and Fiji. There were several others that formed a team bringing loving care, therapies, and happiness to his life.
Expert medical opinion postponed a surgical intervention that may help Mark gain greater mobility of his arms and hands until we have fully evaluated suitable augmentative communication devices and power wheelchair control systems. We are now engaged in those processes with the goals of exponentially increasing his abilities to express himself and move about in a wheelchair independently.
During the new school semester, Mark will be pursuing a program of education and therapies at home and our local Junior College. He continues to make significant progress, and many of the teachers and therapists who help him remark that his sense of humor and determination make their work a joy.
We shall remain forever grateful to The Friends of Summer 2001 for helping Mark further along his road to recovery.
Your friend is your needs answered. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Grahame and Hideko