Politics, Google, Small Wins & London Calling…

Seems so ironic that on this day in 1951, President Harry S. Truman’s opening speech before a conference in San Francisco is broadcast across the nation, marking the first time a television program was broadcast from coast to coast. Nearly 50 years later in 1998, search engine firm Google, co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, filed for incorporation in California. A lot of advances in that time!
The same can be said for the progress made by Ryley. As I look back at over the nearly 50 days of our lives I see flashbacks of tears, screams, blood shot eyes, prayers, friends, family, strangers, steps forward, steps backward, nightmares, dreams, hope, despair, why him, what’s your plan? The one constant…the love of our boy Ryley. I cannot thank you all enough for outpouring of letters, messages, prayers and financial & mental support. I will never be able to personally thank you all but know that each and every one of you holds a special place in the Hopper family’s heart!
Ryley has a very long road ahead. Many people, including myself, don’t (didn’t) understand what a spinal cord injury means. I’ve received a lot of “it’s Ryley…he’ll be up on his feet in no time”…unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Just Google “C6 Spinal Cord Injury” and you can learn more about it. My own perception of what PT was going to look like for Ryley here at Shepherd could not have been any further apart. Long days in the gym, sweat pouring down Ryley’s face, getting in the zone, lifting hard, getting big & strong…ya baby! Nope. Is Ryley working hard? Of course!! But hard is relative with his injury. His “long days” in the gym are measured by short segments of work concentrating on arm and wrist movement so Ryley can get away from the “sip & puff” wheelchair and move toward a joystick control…small wins! His body can no longer regulate body temperature so sweating is replaced by intermittent intense feelings of cold & shivering…thus the layers of blankets you see him in every picture. His stamina is also reduced…a combination of the injury and being bedridden for so long. Days are exhausting for him.PT, OT, visitors, etc… loves it… but it wipes him out!
Is he improving? Yes of course! Gone is the vent, trach (and that darn high-end shop vac to remove secretions), his cough reflex has improved, feeding tube gone, eating like a horse …needs to rebuild the body mass he’s lost and Mom is keeping a good flow of “home cookin” out of the posh hospital floor break room kitchen…surprising what you can concoct with a blender, microwave and a Whole Foods down the road. Way to go Kim! Love you baby!
It’s also great to see others on his hospital floor doing so well. J.t. Brooks a great, outgoing young man from Tennessee injured during a scrimmage football game several months ago, got to “graduate” earlier this week from the inpatient program. He headed home to a Friday Night Lights celebration!! Sad to see him go in a way but SO happy to see how well he has progressed…a glimpse of our future! J.T. was the first to welcome Ryley to the floor and before leaving, J.T. passed on the “Mayoral Block” to Ryley. Ryley must now take the reins from J.T. and welcome all new patients to the floor…a fitting role for our boy!
Ironically, the same day that Ryley received the Mayoral Block, I received a call from someone. I didn’t recognize the voice but I recognized the despair in the voice. A loved one was hurt…but why call me? Has it happened already? Am I now the resource that I so greatly needed and prayed for after Ryley’s injury…yes I am. My instincts kicked it. What happened? Your niece London was in an accident and you are at UNC Hospital? I’m so sorry this is happening! Tell her it’s going to be OK. Tell her to be strong! Tell her to be assertive with London’s care! Tell her to get London to Shepherd! Hang up, make the connection to my connection…. need to get them here…hope they can…pray they will.
Colby and I left at the crack of dawn on Friday morning to beat the traffic to Atlanta. Drove through Greensboro to pickup Will and 5 hours later we pulled into Shepherd. So glad to be back! Five Hopper’s together once again! Lots of hugs & kisses and tears of joy! Ryley’s room is even more decorated with the cards arrived during the past week …so different than J.T.’s room right next door…Ryley is going to miss that kid but I’m so happy he’s able to go home.
As I walk back into Ryley’s room I recognize someone walking down the hall. It’s the same MedFlight team that brought Ryley to Shepherd weeks ago, now transporting another patient to the room next door. Lots of commotion…. lots of doctors and nurses in and out…I remember that… As the MedFlight Team packs up and heads out they pay a quick visit to Ryley. He looks good! Nice beard man! Keep fighting!
I walk them out to the elevator, give them some #TheFight4Ry shirts and have some idle chit chat.
Been a busy summer…so many accidents…
Where did you come in from?
RDU. Really?! Could it be….
It’s London…she’s made it…
God’s handy work…
PRAY for Ryley and give him continued strength for the small wins…and maybe even some big ones!
PRAY for J.T. that his time at home was uplifting and his transition from the inpatient to outpatient programs goes smoothly
PRAY for London. The “mayor” will be visiting soon… God has a plan for these two…
Have a great rest of the long weekend everyone! Please be safe! We love you all!

London Calling JT Friday Night Lights JT & Ryley