Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fresh Starts, Plowing Ahead, and Flexibility

Over Thanksgiving our family (Dittos) had the opportunity go to Corvallis, OR to give some long overdo hugs to the Sherry Jr. family who had just arrived days before.  Emily and Ryan's family also came down so it was a real treat to have so much family together in one place.

I know so many are anxious to know how the transition back to the states has gone, a current health update, and plans for the future.  This will be the last post from this blog.  You can continue to be apart of the Sherry Jr. adventures by following their family blog at

Check out what a good looking family!  The kids seem to be adjusting just fine to having constant electricity and needing to wear warm clothing.  Caroline and Seth both commented how happy and good Tommy has been since coming back to the states, though he misses several Zambian friends.
 Cali is just the cutest thing ever and loves her mommy and daddy.
Tommy's head looks great.  He does have the little greyish line on his forehead that likely is some Zambian dirt he will always carry with him.  He is full of laughter and lots of energy.
 Seth is a walking miracle...literally.  The numbing in his fingers has dissipated which is such a blessing in itself.  He is able to easily type, write, and play his guitar.  In fact, he has joined a bluegrass band in Corvallis called the Crooked River Ramblers and they have had regular bookings.  I'm sure it won't surprise anyone that Seth Wiggins is in the band the the two continue to be glued at the hip.  Upon returning to the states Seth spent a lot of time studying for the GRE and just took that exam this past week.  He's hoping to get into a great Master's program in the near future.  Physically he is making great progress.  His range of motion in his neck is still quite limited, though with more physical therapy and time that should hopefully improve.  He is able to stand or sit for long periods of time before needing to lay down and rest his neck.  Seth is certainly not 100% but with more hard work and determination his future is bright.
Caroline...she's a walking angel herself.  Her heel looks really good; it gets extremely itchy sometimes probably with the new growth of skin.  She is optimistic with their family future and is so thankful to be back in the states.  In spending some quiet time talking with Caroline I was repeatedly reminded of the trauma, fear, and unknowns that she has carried on her shoulders.  She has been brave and is such an advocate for their family.

The Sherry Jrs. are just so thankful for the concern, prayers, and financial support that has been so generously given to their family over the past six months.  It has allowed them to take a few deep breathes and think about their future.  For the time being they are enjoying being settled in my parent's home in Corvallis, OR until my parent's return from their mission in Fiji early April.  Hopefully by then they will have a better idea of where their next home and adventure will take them.

To continue to follow their adventures go to:

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012 -- USA here we come!!!

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

30+ hours and Seth, Caroline, Tommy, and Cali should be basking in the USA sunshine!!!

Seth jumping for joy - June 2011, Oregon Coast

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 11, 2012 - update from Seth

Update from Seth:

I flew to South Africa on Monday; had new MRI's and other tests done Tuesday and I also managed to meet with my neurosurgeon that had very good things to say. He basically told me that everything looks fine and there is no foreseeable need for surgery regarding my current injuries [ever]. The numbness and tingling in my hands continues, but he assured me that it will resolve itself, but may take up to 18 months. He told me to stay healthy, keep up with exercising and have a good life. This was a huge blessing and relief for many reasons; I felt absolutely awesome and proceeded to celebrate with a huge plate of 'paneer palak' and naan.

Our house is being packed and getting ready to ship as we speak. The guys should finish up Saturday and we all managed to get tickets home on Monday. Therefore, by Tuesday afternoon, we will all be in San Francisco! I remember on the flight home from my mission, there were two things that I realized I desperately missed from the USA: Bagels, and American girls. This time around I brought a girl, but I still miss bagels.

We still need to work out our arrangements for Monday, but will likely spend out last two nights a nice little lodge outside of town near some friends of ours.

See you soon. --Seth

 Pre-accident picture taken while working in Zambia

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 5, 2012 - update from Caroline

So things are looking up.  Several of the roadblocks slowing our exit from Africa have been removed.  Although we still don’t have payment for the actual moving company in place yet…yikes.   But for the most part we have just been amazed at the blessings that have come to fruition in the last little while.
Seth's company (with some ) extended out medical coverage for six months.  We are stoked!  The only downer is this coverage is good anywhere but the USA and Canada.  So, with our extended coverage and a phone conversation with Seth’s neurologist, it became an easy choice to send Seth down to South Africa.  He will leave on Monday and has an MRI and follow up appointment with the doctor scheduled for Tuesday.  If he needs surgery, he will stay in South Africa and have it done.  If the doctor suggest he just needs to wait out the numbness and it will likely go away on its own, he will fly to the US directly from South Africa.  I will stay here with the kids and my mom.  The movers are scheduled for Thursday next week.  The moving should take three days and then we will fly on the following Wednesday the 17th.  I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, Cali just had an ear infection and is moving onto stomach flu.  I discovered what looks like ringworm on Thomas leg this afternoon.  Things like that make my soul scream, “get me off this continent”.  And some really excellent news is the miraculous regeneration of my heel.  It looks amazing!  I cannot believe it.  I have been putting weight on it. It feels weird and there are areas that are numb but I am confident it will be pretty close to normal in the next few months. --Caroline

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26, 2012 - update from Caroline

The power kept flickering tonight.  Light and then dark and then light and then dark.  That is how our life has been the past few weeks.  We will have a moment of clarity and convenience followed by some really awful complication.  So we are coming to you, once again, for your spiritual help on a couple of these complications.

First, some of you already know that a couple of weeks ago Seth was riding a stationary bike and upon dismount noticed numbness and tingling in his hands, mostly finger tips and occasionally palms.  The tingling has not gone away.  He has had a follow up x-ray by request of his neurosurgeon but has been unable to contact him directly in regards to what his opinions are on the matter, with the exception of one really cryptic email via his secretary telling him to "take it easy." As if he has been doing anything but that!  Our understanding is that there are really only two paths this could take us.  One, it is just a growing pain caused by the spinal realignment that is happening as he begins to mobilize his neck and might eventually go away.  Two, the disk in C-5 that is causing the numbness will need to be surgically removed so that it doesn't cause permanent nerve damage.  This is the dark cloud that looms over us as we plan to return home in a month to no job and therefore no health insurance: enter massive knot in my stomach.

Second, our exit out of Zambia has become a bit more complicated for a few reasons.  If the snags holding us in place can be removed.  Then we will be packed out by October 15th and I will fly with my mom and the kids on October 17th.  Seth will hopefully get a ticket for around that same time.

Third,  while it feels like we will never be able to leave Zambia and our power to do so seems to slip through our fingers, our tentative plans for what to do when we get home are taking a more solid form. We will fly to California to recover for a few weeks at my Mom's house.  Then after my brother's wedding in November we will head to Corvallis.  Seth is interested in applying to Graduate School for the fall. 

Seth and I had sweet blessings today at the Mission home.  We know things will ultimately work out but if feels like we just can't catch our breath sometimes. 

Here's to hoping that our next update will be more of an upper! --Caroline

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15, 2012 - update from Caroline

Last week Seth had a little bit of an awkward moment.  He was talking with a colleague and said something like, “you may not have heard but we had a pretty serious accident, which is why I haven’t been in contact.”  The man said, “Yes, I know.  We actually made a donation to your site.”  Seth quickly and humbly explained that his sisters have been handling that for us and expressed his gratitude.

Consequently, I asked for the information to that account so that we could be aware and vocally express our gratitude to those who have helped us so much along the way…I am overwhelmed.

Never in my life have I been so needy.  The financial support has been and will be integral to our recovery.  I absolutely detest being the recipient of so much…charity.  Especially with the fear that I will never be able to pay it back, or pay it forward to the extent that I have received.  But, I am so grateful.

At times I have felt like my life was on display.  I have wanted to close off and not share too much of the experience.  I have shunned away from photos because the reality is, I don’t want to remember this part of our life.  But now I do.  I want to remember the sincere offers of help from strangers in Zimbabwe and South Africa.   I want to remember the amazing couple that slept with my little girl for three nights while I stayed at the hospital with Thomas and Katie.  I want to remember the steady stream of emails that I didn’t answer but did read and love and appreciate.   I want to remember the kitchen table full of food and freezer full of meals when I returned to Zambia.  And, I want to remember that when I looked at a list of hundreds of people who had taken the time to brave the pay pal system to give us a little help, I recognized many names of old friends and new friends but that there were many I didn’t recognize.  There were many who are just a kind friend of a friend.  And I feel loved because of all of you.

I also feel intensely more inclined to share more of my experience because now I know it isn’t just some drama that people are curious about.  It is a story about us, your friends or loved ones or both and you want to know how we are doing.     

So this is how we are doing: better.  That is the short answer.  The longer version is that a couple of weeks before the accident, Seth’s company let us know they were canceling their agronomy department.  We originally planned on looking for something else in Zambia.  But, post accident we decided going home would be the best choice.  So while the recovery continues, so does life and our life continues to be complicated.  Moving is always crazy, but moving from Zambia to the US is crazy on steroids!  All in all, it has been going smoother than expected which means it is only five times harder than moving in the US instead of the standard, ten times harder.

The skinny is, we should all be back on US soil by the beginning of November.  I will travel with my mom and the kids to California in October some time and Seth will follow after a few more weeks.  The plan after that is a little fluid but we will be happy to be back in a known location even if life is a bit up in the air.

In terms of Seth’s physical recovery: there has been steady slow improvement but we have had a bit of a set back the last few days.  He was riding on a stationary bike on Thursday and noticed numbness in his fingers, worse on his right hand. Friday was the big day he was supposed to take his neck brace off and start moving his neck around a bit but his Physio decided we should hold off considering his new symptom.  That night he ended up with an awful stomach bug.  He is feeling better this evening (Saturday night) but has only eaten four crackers all day.  So, a bit of a bummer recently but we are hoping things will be looking up next week.  Oh, and Seth has lost five pounds. --Caroline

An oldie but a goodie...

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10, 2012

When Seth and Caroline were initially in the car accident a song immediately came to my mind, "What Are Words" by Chris Medina. Chris' fiance was in a terrible car accident just a couple of weeks before they were to get married and she had had severe brain injury. He wrote this song in an expression of how the promise of staying by her side wasn't for only the good days but for every day.

What a trial this has been for Seth and Caroline's family! It has also been an opportunity for us as family and friends to step it up and be "more than just words" in showing our love.

Thus the video idea was born.

Click on this link if you are unable to view:

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