By Outer Banks Voice on April 18, 2021
This is the first update posted on the Caring Bridge site about Tatum Love in about three weeks. Tatum is the First Flight High School student who was very seriously injured in an accident in late January. The Caring Bridge site been the source of Tatum’s brave and determined battle to recover.
Normally, the Voice excerpts a few paragraphs from each update. But this one has a lot of information to digest, so we are publishing it in its entirety. One uplifting takeaway, detailed in the last paragraph, is that in about a month, Tatum and her family are hopeful of returning to the Outer Banks.
“It’s been a while since the last update only because so much has taken place over the last few weeks. All positive steps forward in the long road we all walk. I’ll try and give some feel for what has been going on because my own limitations make communicating all of it next to impossible. A couple of weeks ago, Tatum had surgery to replace/rebuild her skull…the required follow-up to the emergency surgery she had to endure back in February that literally saved her life. As you can imagine this is not a simple procedure. It involves serious risks and a heroic dose of pain and discomfort. It was a rough few days for Tate but she dealt with it the same way she has handled most of this…through clenched teeth and an indomitable spirit. Her stitches will be removed this Monday, so that will be one more challenge and important step forward we can cross off the list. Special thanks go out to her Neurosurgeon, Plastic Surgeon, and the terrific team at the super impressive Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta for taking care of Tatum…and her parents…throughout this particular part of the larger ordeal.
It’s important to note here that because of the scheduled surgery, important timelines, required training, and other transitions…Lorrie was allowed to come back down to Atlanta and we were able to spend almost two weeks as a family unit. I have since had to return home, but we cannot be more thankful to everyone involved for allowing that to happen. Even if it was for just a little while and nowhere near long enough.
A few days after we returned to The Shepherd Center Tatum had recovered enough to no longer need to be an admitted inpatient in a hospital setting so she was scheduled to ‘graduate’ from this phase of the journey into outpatient therapy via Pathways…the Shepherd Center’s outpatient program. A proposition we found both intimidating…if not downright scary. We would immediately be responsible for making sure Tatum received all the care, therapy, medicines, appointments, and support she needs on a full-time/around-the-clock basis. This something we had been preparing for since this whole nightmare began. We would also be free to leave the property. Drive to her daily therapy sessions, go to the grocery store, etc. Experience some level of ‘freedom’. The first baby steps towards something akin to ‘normal’…I use that term loosely. Even if the situation itself came with certain obvious restrictions we would be moving on and moving forward. All that being said, getting out of the hospital after all these weeks has been immeasurably better for everyone involved…especially Tatum. Her new outpatient therapy facility and team are outstanding! This is a five-week…five days a week…intensive and comprehensive therapy program customized to address Tatum’s biggest and overall challenges moving forward. Specific issues are being prioritized yet there is a total package approach that has been designed around Tatum and both her current issues and long-term goals.
As expected, Tatum has been approaching this phase of the journey with just as much grit and positive energy as she has everything else. It is truly impossible to fully explain how much Tatum has been through over these last 11 weeks. The immensity of the physical challenges is only surpassed by the emotional and psychological strength it takes to handle all this. The steel spine on that girl is only surpassed by her grace under the circumstances and her near unexplainable ability to hang on to her sense of humor during what are the darkest of times. Make no mistake, this is really hard on her and it’s going to continue to be hard. Tatum has a long way to go but we have come so far over these last couple of months that what is left in our recovery journey is just part of the next series of obstacles yet to overcome. There was no one like her before this and there has been nothing like her during it…she remains the brilliant light in all this dark.
I’m paraphrasing here but it has been said that the mind must adapt to the obstacles in its way…convert for its own purposes the ‘impediment’ into the actions to overcome it…so that what stands in your way can become the way forward. We now know what we are dealing with here and there is quite simply no one more capable of dealing with this as a family than we are.
At the end of this phase…in about another 4 weeks…we will finally be transitioning to getting everyone back home to the Outer Banks! Tatum will still need long-term therapy and the fight to accomplish our goals will continue on, but we cannot put into words how much we are looking forward to being back among the extended family that is our Outer Banks Community!”