Well… I know this email is waaay overdue, but so much has changed and happened that it has taken me a while to get my thoughts together to make sure I get everything in I want to say.
As most of you have heard by now, Cory and I moved in with my parents the beginning of August. With change comes adversity, so not everything has been peaches and cream, but I think the obstacles that came with this move are ever soooo slowly starting to mend and heal. However, having said that, God works in such wonderful ways that this move went way quicker and way smoother than we ever had envisioned.
In one week, Cory’s therapy was transferred to Port Clinton and our house was rented to someone that we know and trust. Only the Lord can make those kinds of things happen with that much ease and quickness. It gave us such peace to know that the big worries worked themselves out with minimal effort on our end. With the reality of what retirement income now means for Cory, the money factor was hitting us quick and hard and so we had to play the “what if” game and make some serious decisions about what we should do and what would be best for us as well as what was in the best interest for our future.
Moving in with your folks is not every 30 year olds dream, but it is working out well for us and allowing us to hold on to some money and save. My parents cleared out their dining room, so Cory and I have our own living room. We have our TV, Cory’s chair and our couch in here. Our bathroom and bedroom are on one side and my folks’ is on the other. It is kind of like Cory and I have one half of my parents’ house and they have the other half and we meet up in the kitchen!
It is not forever - but along with the money issue, it gives us time to figure out what the heck we want to do with our future. So much depends on when Cory can return to work, what he wants “work” to be like and what kind of job he wants to do. He continues to talk about moving back to Cleveland because he is familiar with the city, knows people there and knows that with his education and work experience he will have more opportunities for jobs in a bigger city…we’ll see what unfolds down the road.
We still play the “what if” game a lot and it feels like we are starting all over from square one, but maybe that is what we need. Then again, Cory could look at me and say that he is ready to go back to Marion…so only God knows what our plan is and it will come to play out when the time is right for us.
Cory and I are still waiting to hear from the doctor when Cory has to take his psych evaluation and when he can start the driving program. He will have to take this all day long psych evaluation and also pass a driving test again. They will start him out in a simulated driving situation and once he does that well they will take him out on the road. My understanding is that all of this will take place at outpatient therapy at OSU. I have not the first clue of a time frame for that. I guess when the doctor feels Cory is ready for these tests he will let us know and make the referrals. All in good time….
Cory and I still go to Marion every other week so he can continue his physical therapy at Smith Clinic and his sessions with Mr. Adams. This also gives us the chance to meet up with people while we are in town. His therapist at Smith Clinic hooked us up with his new therapist (Dave) in Port Clinton (where I grew up). Dave did his internship at Smith Clinic (and at Delex One where Cory also did therapy in Marion) so it has worked out so well because his new therapist knows where Cory came from, what he has been working on and the background of everything Cory has been through…not only with his own injuries but with his brother’s death as well. His new therapist has great relationships with Cory’s therapists from Marion, so communication is great with them all. Cory and Dave get along very well and I am very surprised at how quickly Cory has opened up to him and they have shared stories and have nick-names for each other already.
Cory has made a few comments here and there about being up here where nobody knows who he is. When I have asked him about why he feels that way, in a nut shell, he says he can just be – no pressures. I guess even though the support in Marion has been incredible, Cory was getting worn out with being in the limelight for trauma after trauma. He DID NOT enjoy getting attention when his brother died –please don’t get me wrong, he was very thankful for everything that was done for his family…it was just a hard reality that Brandy was gone and we were going to memorials and fundraisers for his brother. He often made comments about not wanting to be the center of attention. So if you add that situation and those feelings on top of what he is going through now, it would be a bit overwhelming!!
He seems just a bit more outgoing and we are enjoying going to different stores for something new to look at and places to eat here and there. Even going to grab an ice cream cone and go to the pier to watch the water, boats and Cedar Point is a wonderful change. He has been fishing a few more times, but with no catches to brag about. We have been able to meet up with some of Cory’s good college buddies for a cookout and finally got to meet some babies that have been born that we have missed out on seeing. We have also been to Cleveland to meet up with Harvey and enjoy one more Panini’s monster sandwich. We are enjoying football season (GO TIGERS!!!) and watch college football on Saturday and the Browns on Sunday. We continue to watch the end of the Tribe’s season and are sad that they won’t be in the playoffs.
We have also started going to church on Sundays. We have been trying out this place called The Chapel (it is where Maci and Steven used to go). Cory was so cute the first time we went to church. Cory and I have this saying when we go to the store or the mall that if we get a good parking spot up front we would say “good parking…good shopping”. So we pull into the church parking lot and land a spot right on the end next to the door and I looked at Cory and said “good parking…” and he chimed in with “good worshiping”. I was not expecting that one at all and we both just cracked up. He gets into songs when he knows them and bobs his head to the music and keeps the beat with his hand. This church has fill in the blank forms to keep notes that go along with the sermon and he makes sure that I am filling in the blanks. (I plan on making him fill in the blanks soon, but he doesn’t know that yet…) I ask every weekend if he still wants to go to church and he says yes…so as long as he wants to go I am all for it. My mom and dad go some place different, so sometimes we’ll meet up after our services if they end close to the same time. This church is very relaxed and has a little café in it so we can get coffee or tea and sip on that during church. It also has a big beautiful fireplace that I plan on enjoying once winter hits and a fountain in another part that is very peaceful. So far, so good and I think it is doing us well. Church is something Cory and I always talked about going to, but with his work schedule it just never fell into place for us. So, I am glad we are making it happen now.
Sara, the boys, the baby and Aunt Marilyn came to visit shortly after we moved up here and we all had a great day. We went fishing and out to eat. The boys really wanted to go swimming, so Cory and I went to the hotel they were staying at and watched them do all of their fancy jumps into the pool. Mackenzie was cute to watch in the water. She kept going up and down the stairs and tried to be brave and jump in the water like her older brothers. Sara took them to Cedar Point the next day, so they had a mini vacation before school started. They are both in football right now, so Cory and I need to pick a day and drive down to watch them play. We talk on the phone fairly often and Cory has left messages for them. Cory and I also found some Indians t-shirts on sale and mailed them to the boys. Now Landon is all about sending each other mail and being pen pals. He mailed Cory a picture he colored and a million dollar bill. That is some great mail!!!! I wish it was real…that would solve a lot of issues!!!
I can’t begin to thank those who helped us with our move. Once again, people came together to help us out and were so supportive of us. So I send out big thank yous to our neighbors (have you seen Kara around???), the Ford family, Laura Postell, Harvey, Mitch and Mr. and Mrs. Rigney. Without your help, I can’t imagine the move going as well as it did. THANK YOU!!!!!! (Laura – one of the first things Cory wanted to do when we got up here was use your birthday gift you gave him…he picked out a football game!!!) And we owe a thank you to Nick Worden for his support and encouragement with Cory and myself - your advice and gentle direction with Cory really means a lot to me, but I know how much it meant to Cory. I also want to thank Linda Pope for your words of encouragement and knowledge due to experience. You and Bruce have always been people Cory and I have trusted and think very highly of. Your email was something I needed to hear and I am so happy that you two are enjoying your new life out west!!!
Cory also celebrated his 30th birthday last month. He handled the big 3-0 pretty well. Thank you to the therapy crew at OSU for his birthday card!! That was very thoughtful of you all!! And the crew at Smith Clinic in Marion got Cory really well on his birthday. His therapist usually has Cory start out his session doing work on the mats and when Cory laid down and looked up there was a banner on the ceiling for his birthday!! He was so shocked…it was great. He just started laughing. I was able to take some good pictures of that. They also gave him a cake and sang happy birthday to him. So, all in all, he had a great day and enjoyed his evening with his friends and playing the Wii with Landon and Tyler.
While Cory’s toes still cause him some pain, I think they are ever so slowly getting a little tiny bit better. I don’t think the botox really did all that much, but we are willing to try anything to help him out. His eyes are still a bit jumpy and he continues to have double vision from time to time. The foot doctor is happy with Cory’s feet and told us Cory will have to continue to wear his AFO braces for a while, but they are doing what they are supposed to be doing; it is just slow due to neurological/nerve damage. We see the fancy eye doctor at OSU the end of next month so we’ll see what his input is about Cory’s eyes. So, for you prayers out there….toes and eyes, toes and eyes, toes and eyes!!!!!!!!!!!
We have just joined the YMCA in Sandusky. I will have to volunteer to get our membership, but it is going to be such a great thing for all involved. Again, God works in great ways. Cory gets to work out, I get to volunteer two hours a week doing office work, and the YMCA is glad to have a volunteer with a college degree. They are going to give me some more involved work – this will get me slowly back into “work mode” and it will be a great start of a transition for Cory and I to take baby steps in breaking away from each other. I guess that means that we will need Cory’s workout info, Nick!!! J
Cory is also very much into game shows right now…Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Deal or No Deal, Lingo, The Price is Right, Cash Cab, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Family Feud… I think it is great because I can hear him talking to himself under his breath trying to solve a puzzle or think of an answer. And when he gets it right he usually puts his hands up in the air in a Rocky Balboa manner as if he just concurred a masterpiece. It really is so very cute…whatever keeps him thinking, right?? We still play games together and he loves to play on the computer. The Wii is still a standard for us to play on a regular basis (with some additions…thank you Holly!!!)
I am so proud of Cory for so many things. His attitude and outlook on life and situations impress me so much. He has his moments…he really, really misses Brandy and I think is dealing with his death more now than he ever tried to before. He is opening up more and talking about issues that he has held in for a long time. He also talks about his own situation from time to time and sometimes he is mad or sad or just says that he will have to deal with this for the rest of his life and the “drunk dumb ass who hit me” only has to be in jail for a few years. But on the other hand he is slowly starting to change is outlook and perspectives and recognizes that anger and bitterness will get him nowhere. He has told me that “being angry won’t help me” or “having hate won’t make anything any better”…so at least he acknowledges that and is making the choice to be positive and not let anger and bitterness ruin his life. Holding on to those feelings can turn you into a miserable person, and frankly, Cory would have every right to hold on to those feelings. He has lost his brother and almost lost himself, so it would be real easy for him to live a life of self pity – so I am just so thankful and so proud of him for being strong and deciding to not allow negativity to eat him up.
He has had to pick up pieces of shattered dreams/goals twice now, so thank God he is willing to do so and try to move on the best he can. He is such a remarkable person and I thank God for blessing me by giving me Cory as my best friend and husband!! His personality has changed ever so slightly and he is more sensitive and almost has an innocence about him that you just can’t help but see as adorable and smile at. He laughs a lot and when he gets going it is contagious!!! So I thank God, again, for giving Cory a wonderful and thankful personality.
I was told way back in the Grant ICU days that traumatic brain injury patients often end up mean, irritable, violent…..so thank you for answered prayers that Cory is really the opposite of that. He gets upset and gets frustrated when it comes to working on things that used to be easy for him (writing is still on the top of that list), which is understandable. I can’t imagine the irritation of feeling limited in what used to be something you did on a daily basis without effort or thought, and now it requires energy and total mental focus. He has said to me that his brain knows what to do, but he just can’t always get his body to do what his brain is thinking.
Sometimes when he is walking or working on something at home he has this almost painful look on his face and it makes me ask him if he is alright…he then looks at me like I am nuts and just tells me that he is “just concentrating”…it is like duh, honey, can’t you see I am busy doing something here?? But he continues to plug away and improve in all areas. His walking and balance have improved a lot. This has increased his confidence a great deal. In fact, just last week on Monday with Dave here in Port Clinton, Cory walked up and down a short hallway three times with only Dave and another helper holding onto his gait belt in the back for support. Cory looked the most confident and balanced that I have ever seen him look. And at Smith Clinic last Wednesday, the crew there did the same thing with two people holding onto him from the back by the gait belt and he walked 176 feet the first round and 219 feet the second!!!!!
Today (9/24) he walked with Dave up here in therapy twice: first time 160 feet, the second 240 feet!!!!!!!! He holds his hands up in the air while walking as if to say without using words…”look at me, no hands!!!” These moments at both places brought tears to my eyes to see such wonderful healing and improvement!!
Which brings me to a point….Kelly Cullen – we want you to know that we have set a goal. Cory has all winter to “train” and our goal is that your reception will be our FIRST DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, come heck our high water, we have set that goal and Cory knows what he needs to do to make that happen. I think we’ll make it – if he keeps going like he is now, we’ll be shag’n on the dance floor!! Seriously, that is our goal so don’t mind us if we are out there dancing and crying our eyes out!!
I also can’t believe that we will be celebrating our fifth anniversary the end of this month. Cory literally has a countdown going. What a five years it has been…I have been told more than once and by more than one person that I should write a book about our first five years. We have been through more in five years of marriage than people never even deal with in a life time! The song “Looks Like We Made It” just popped into my head!
I want to add one more thing before I wrap up this dissertation of an email. Please note that I have been working on this for a few evenings now. I keep thinking of things I want to add or we have a busy evening and I can’t get to it, so this email has been a work in progress. Having said that, it has been brought to our attention either by phone calls or us being in Marion that rumors are flying about our move and why we moved. I understand that you can’t control people talking or what they say. Some rumors are flat out funny because they could not be further from the truth. However, others have had some sting to them and even Cory has looked at me and asked me why someone would say something like that… I don’t have a great answer for him.
All I can say to him, and to those who are reading this, is that with ALL of the positives we have experienced from Marion in terms of support and generosity, there are always going to be those who are the bad apples and thrive off of negativity and gossip. I just remind Cory that his family has been through a lot and has been the focus of attention for a few years now. Someday people will change their focus and our move will become old news. Those who really know Cory (and accept his little changes) will be there for him no matter what and will unconditionally be understanding of whatever circumstances come his way.
For as many negatives as there can be out there, we have received more positives in support, understanding and encouragement that Cory and I moved. As we have learned the hard way in life, nothing is permanent or forever on this earth and all is subject to change. We could end up back in Marion, in Cleveland, in Denver, in Miami or Tokyo…our family and true friends will always be there and have our backs no matter what our geographical location. As long as Cory and I know why we are doing what we are doing, and we are happy as a couple, that is really all that matters. God has a plan for us, and nothing anyone can say will sway my opinion of that.
I bought Cory a name card a couple of years ago that has a scripture on it….if I only knew then how true that scripture would be for us now… It comes from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your future and your final outcome.” We have read that one over and over and know that there is truth in it. Cory – his entire family – has dealt with TOO much heartache as it is…so enough negativity already, ya know??? Those of you who are true to Cory can squash those rumors and get the truth out there for him!
This past Sunday in church the pastor made a statement that has stuck with me and I will share it with you all as I know that there are others out there going through some rough times, too. He said, “We don’t know what our future holds, but we know who holds our future.” What a remarkable statement of hope. We hope all is well with everyone and send our thanks to you all for the unconditional love we have received this past year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hugs to you all, Cory and Lindsey