On a sunny day I stepped out into a meadow. I watched the flowers slowly move in the breeze. I breathed in the fresh air and looked around. I took a few steps; on my third step is when I spotted a grizzly bear with her cubs on the trail at the upper end of the meadow. Maybe if I quietly turn around and left maybe they wouldn’t see me, but the grizzly saw me right away, and they all ran up the trail.

But then for some reason she stopped, turned, and charged straight for me. I screamed so she would know I was human, hoping she’d turn back.  My noises only seem to quicken her pace towards me; at 25 feet I doused her with bear spray. Her momentum caused a cut out of her galloping body in the orange mist. She jumped at me and I dove face-first into the dirt and wrapped my arms around the back of my neck for protection.

She was on top of me, biting my arms, shoulders, and backpack. Her teeth went through my forearm, right into the bone “and I heard a crunch.” The force of each bite was like a sledgehammer with teeth. Over and over she bit me. I lay there playing dead for what felt like hours but was merely minutes, she suddenly disappeared.

I picked myself up, stunned that I was able to walk. I started back down the trail toward my truck, three miles below. About five or ten minutes down the trail, I heard a growl and turned. It was the grizzly, bearing down on me at 30 feet.  A ten inch paw knocked me quickly to the ground.

Again I protected the back of my neck with my arms and kept tight against the ground to protect my face and eyes. She slammed down on top of me and bit my shoulder and arm. My hand instantly went numb, and the wrist and fingers were limp and unusable. The sudden pain made me flinch and gasp for breath.

My gasping sounds triggered a frenzy of bites to my shoulder and upper back. I knew I couldn’t move or make a sound again, so stayed motionless through the pain. Another couple bites to my head caused a gash to open above my ear….I didn’t move. Blood gushed over my face and into my eyes… I didn’t move. She would eventually hit an artery in my neck, and I’d bleed out.

Suddenly the bites stopped; only the sound of her heavy breathing and sniffing remained. I could feel her hot breath on the back of my neck and her three inch claws digging into my lower back below my backpack, where she stood. I could smell the pungent odor she emitted. For 30 seconds, she stood there crushing me, smashing my chest into the ground and my forehead in the dirt. And then nothing.

I tried to look out but my eyes were full of blood. I wiped the blood from one eye and looked around. No bear. I stood up and moved quickly down the trail again. Forty-five minutes later, I got into my truck and drove 17 miles to the hospital.

Most of the punctures and tears were on my arms and shoulder. It took doctors eight hours to stitch me back together. The next day, I woke up with dark bruising in the shape of claws across my lower back where the bear had stood on me, but I was alive. A six-inch gash along the side of my head will forever be a reminder of this bear attack but I thanked God for getting me through this.

What made the bear attack? He survived the first attack; he survived the second attack and was thankful he survived. Was playing dead that effective?  Was the way he guarded his head and neck, enough to prevent dead from the 450 lb grizzly, perhaps it was…THEM.

 

Advertisements

 

It has been said that prayer changes things, well here is my story. My four year old son has always been a free spirited soul. He runs and jumps with reckless abandon. Whenever we go shopping he always gets to get underneath our shopping cart, who knows why.

Going to school and playing in the sand are major parts of his daily activities as they should be. However, things have changed he is no longer allowed to run, throw, or hide underneath shopping carts. He is no longer allowed to play unsupervised. As parent, little did we know that something was looming undetected, something that changed everything for my son and everything for us.

A few months ago my four year old son was diagnosed with a rare eye condition. Diagnosis: Extreme Amblyopia, refractive myopia… basically he is blind in his right eye. Although this news was shocking, his mother and I developed a plan as an effort to reverse this condition. This plan includes “patching” his left eye (the 20-20 eye) for up to six hours a day, contacts, glasses, poly-carbonate lens, a lot of heart-ache and even more prayer. Needless to say the remedy and therapy were tough for the little fella, as well as us. After a few months, my son could only see about four feet in front of him and what he could see was blurry. Why was it necessary to take these extreme measures with his therapy? Because eye input controls brain function, no eye input equals no brain function. By patching the left eye it forces his brain to sort of rewire itself to make use of his right eye.

Every time I  “patched” my son, I would ask him what can you see? With a smile he would say “Dad I can see everything”, something I knew wasn’t true. If he were left unattended for any period of time he would peel off the patch so that he could peek out of the corner, or he would take out his contact because he couldn’t really see.

After two months of fighting, crying, spending and praying my son’s response changed to “Dad I can’t see” usually followed by tears.

My son’s condition is said to be so rare that he is 1 out o 125,000 children. Mind you that all of this is happening as my new book is making the round, I have been invited to do radio show, I have a regular job and other children, so what is a father to do. My son is no idiot, we often have to restrain him to put the contact in his eye. Dealing with a four year old and fear can be tricky, the first facility we went to said that they were not equipped to handle him. As parents to say that we were helpless in this situation is an understatement. I became hardcore, because I knew what was at stake for my son. So I decided to toss away my sorrow, and I remembered how I cured asthma a decade earlier and the difficulty and negativity I experienced during that process, but more on that later.

The contact goes in… no compromise and a song is born… “Don’t touch the glasses, don’t move the glasses, these are my glasses”, a melody that is sure to be a household hit.

My question to the experts was what is his prognosis? There answer: Basketball-out, Soccer-out, Football-out even Water Polo was out as well as a lot of other activities. Okay, no problem, that just means more reading and writing… Did I mention the dyslexia? Because on his eye condition my son  interprets  letters and number incorrectly.

Side note this condition also causes my son to behave what what I deem somewhat “Neanderthalish”, which is equally frustrating for everyone. He falls a lot. He gets injured every day. I don’t even know how he plays like the other kids, but my best guess is that he is using the force.

“Patching”  his good eye basically renders him sightless and forces the brain to use the unpatched eye.

1-Month: No noticeable improvement in vision, still fighting us. More singing. His 15-years old sister decides to call her older sister to apologize for all the pain she caused her when she was younger.

3 Months: Less fighting, still singing. Family members begin to realize the depth of the situation. His mother deserves a whole lot of credit.

6 Months: Hugs are given. Hope is found, routine established. The song is family wide now. Slight improvement in vision is noticeable. Attitude is up and down.

We return to the doctor. My son, with his eye patched, sits down in the chair. The doctor displays a large image on the projector and before the doctor could asked what do you see, my son excitedly exclaims “An Airplane!” His mother smiled. The doctor said “Remarkable”, I shed a single tear. six months a ago he saw four feet in front of him. The doctor said that his improvement was exponential and he was amazed at how fast this approach seemed to be working.

I held my son’s hand as we left the doctor’s office. As we walked back towards the car he asked me for some gum. I said “No gum”. He said, “But dad I listened to the doctor, I didn’t cry and now we are leaving the doctors. I need some gum.” His response stopped me in my tracks because I realized that he recalled the conversation we had when we initially tried to put the contact in six months ago. He actually remembered the conversation verbatim. He would later performed the same memory trick on his mother, in regard to when his patching for the day would be over. Perhaps,the side-effect of the therapy is an improved memory. I picked up my son, hugged and kissed him and said “You know what son… you can have some gum”.

Prayer really does change everything.

*Make sure you get your child’s eyes checked early as possible*

Update: a year into the patching and eye improvement has stunted. Decide to patch 20 hours a day. Kindergartner is extremely trying.

Update: A year in a half into patching Experts agree to abandon patching is no longer working. We decide on whether to hold him back or push him forward in school.

Update: We decide to push him forward. He is slowly catching up.