Sunday, September 11, 2016

DJ's Continued Journey 6 years post surgery...

Family night at the Rivera's, pizza, movies and ICE CREAM!!! These precious little things in life we sometimes take for granted. Mom's busy with PTA, babysitting, housework and all that comes with a big family...Dad's working long hours to give the children a better life. Sometimes we tend to get caught up in the fast pace of life. Unfortunately, 6 years ago the fast pace came to a complete stop when DJ started having seizures. This is an update to his journey:

DJ is now 11 years old and in the 5th grade. He is very excited to be back in school. This week he was very proud to show me some of his classwork, all A's! DJ has been trying to read every night, his new book is Divergent. So proud how far he has come in school! 

This summer we were able to take a family vacation back to AZ. The kids were so thrilled to be visiting, that the 100+ degree weather didn't even phase them...until we walked out of the airport doors to meet grandma Ann!! The look on DJ's face was priceless! I thought for sure he was going to try and seek out the pilot and convince him to take him back to Colorado. After a couple of laughs and getting into an air conditioned vehicle I think everyone was ok. We spent the rest of the week visiting both sides of our family, seeing relatives we had not seen in awhile. We know we both have big families, so if we missed you this time we apologize. This will give us another reason to come back and visit soon. Of course though, this time when it's cool if DJ has a say in it!

DJ has continued to work very hard on his right side of body. During the summer he continues to do swim lessons with Ms. Buckner. She is also a para at school that has helped DJ since kindergarten but we think of her more like family. DJ has known how to swim for years now but she continues to help him become a stronger and faster swimmer. He is starting to get more movement in his wrist and a little in his fingers. His fine motor skills still have a long way to go. He is always talking about never giving up and has amazed us every day with his determination. He still plays xbox with one hand and actually plays better than most who use two hands! If there is a will, there is definitely a way!

God has truly blessed us with the love and continued prayers from family and friends. DJ has been an inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with. He has a beautiful soul and builds strong relationships with people he meets. He has a way of lifting your spirits when your day isn't quite going so well. He loves to make people laugh and always wants to see people smile! I thank the good Lord for everything he has done for our family. I also thank him for the great family and friends who have supported us with love and prayers, you will never understand the gratitude we have for you. Keep your family and friends close and God Bless.

DJ and his buddy, Coulter!
September 2016

Summer fun in Colorado with friends we love as family!
July 2016

DJ's amazing Brain Surgeon, Dr. Handler

DJ and Grandma Ann on our trip to AZ!
July 2016

Family visiting from AZ!
May 2016


Sunday, July 19, 2015

DJ's 10 year B-day!!

    Dj is turning 10 years old today! Last night as the family was relaxing and watching television, Dj made his way over with that familiar heartwarming smile. He says "Hey Dad you wanna know why I'm so excited!!" I replied like I had no idea "No Little D tell me!" He says "Cause tomorrow is my birthday and I'm gonna be 10 years old!" Just as he finished his last sentence I could not help feeling a overwhelming flurry of emotions come over me. Excited, proud, sad but most of all grateful knowing that I will never take for granted these special moments with my son. I have been truly blessed to have such a loving son. He has taught me that though life does not work out exactly how you expect it to, always finding the good in everyone and everything makes life more enjoyable.
   Dj and his sisters have been enjoying their summer with family and friends. B-day party's, theme parks and monster trucks have kept smiles on their faces and popcorn, nachos and ice cream in their tummy's!! Summer will be ending soon and Dj and his sister's will be going back to school soon. I can not believe Dj will be starting the 4th grade, where does the time go!! Mom started early this year getting school supplies and school clothes, Kristen is such a great mom always putting her family ahead of any of her own needs. Dj is definitely a mama's boy, even though he try's very hard to show that he loves daddy too by saying "I love you Mom and you too Dad !!" Just as he is about to finish his sentence, always thinking of others, love that boy...
   Dj got a very nice FaceTime call from his Grandma wishing him a Happy bday!! She also put some pictures up of Dj from when he was younger on Facebook. Kristen saw these and I could see her eyes starting to water. I guess we have our moments when life takes us by surprise and these moments are caught on photographs. Thanks for sharing those moments Mom (Ann). Dj was happy to talk with Paul and let him know "I'm double digits now yo!!" Gotta love the Disney network!!
   Dj was super excited to get his new Razor Scooter. Just a couple of weeks ago he was unable to ride
a scooter. Working on his balance and motor skills he worked very hard on his right side. He did not let that stop him and taught himself to steer with one hand and push off with his right foot!! This is just another obstacle he has overcome along his journey... He refuses to give up and has given new meaning to, where there is a will there is a way! The Lord has truly blessed him with resilience and determination.
   Well I know he is ready to have his birthday dinner and eat some cake now, so I better get going. He will definitely want a cheeseburger and fries no doubt!! Thank you to all our family and friends who have been or will be apart of his journey. We are blessed to have you a part of our lives.

"Once you choose hope anything is possible"
-Christopher Reeve

Dj taking a break from his yearly neurology testing.
Loves CheeseBurger and Fries!!

Dj with Kiara and Tiana going to his Big sister Cianna's

Dj sometimes you just have to take time out....

Dj and his bud Koleton at the Monster Trucks!!

Dj with his teacher Mrs.Yeager and para Mrs. Buckner!! 

Dj at TGIF'S having a yup you guessed it
Cheeseburger and Fries!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A year has gone by as DJ continues his journey

A year has gone by since DJ underwent his surgery September 8th 2010. I remember like it was yesterday, the night before going to bed kissing my kids goodnight knowing that as a family we were going to face the toughest emotional day of our lives. As I held DJ I remember how hard it was to hold back my tears. I let him know that tomorrow Dr. Handler at the Denver Children's Hospital was going to make him all better. I remember after everyone was safe and sound asleep that I walked to the family room to have a moment to myself. In that moment I found myself praying to God. "Lord I know your here and that life has many ups and downs. I wanted to thank you for everything that you have done for our family and I am very grateful for all that you have provided us. Please take care of my son and watch over him as he goes through this surgery. AMEN"
It's now a year later and DJ is doing amazing. The doctors are amazed on what he has accomplished in 1 year. DJ started Kindergarten 6 weeks ago and is so excited to be in school of course gym and recess are his favorite! Kristen has been volunteering at the school which is wonderful to know she is close by if he needs her. She has also become a Board Member on the school PTO, so proud of my wife! DJ has continued to work very hard in therapy and has made great strides! This summer DJ went swimming with his sisters and friends for the first time since  before surgery. I know it was tough for Kristen to let go of DJ to see if he could swim again knowing that his right side of his body still has a long way to go. But then DJ who has always been a little super hero said "Mom, let me go I can do it." The most beautiful, uplifting, inspiring and at the same time heart pounding words a parent could here from their child! She let go but never left his side. That day, that hour, that defining moment DJ gave "Once you choose hope anything is possible" an even stronger meaning.
DJ is very excited to be in school. He recently ran over 1 mile in the Trot-a-Thon for his schools annual fundraiser! Tiana who is in the 4th grade now also ran her little heart out. She tied with two other girls for most laps ran in the 4th grade! So proud of these kids.
Tonight we will be attending a benefit hosted by The Sanger Foundation who helped  our Family and many others during their time of need. We are so thankful for everything they have done for DJ and our family. Please take the time to visit the site and see how this foundation came about and how they have helped many families!
We are all very excited for our first vacation since DJ's surgery.  Next week we are going home to visit family and friends in Arizona! It's been really tough being away from our family and friends for such a long period of time. Everyone's love and prayers have been such a blessing to our family and we hope to see as many people that we can during our visit. Kristen & I could never express just how much we are grateful to have you in our lives, but hope we can try by continuing to love and teach are children to help others in need and to appreciate life which has many ups and downs but will always be a beautiful journey with the love of family and friends.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

DJ 's Journey updated -Time Heals

It's been awhile since we have updated the blog and so much has transpired over the holiday's with DJ's progress!! DJ has been working so hard and after 5 months has shown great improvement. He continues to make great strides in his therapy and is getting stronger everyday. His speech is starting to come back as he is starting to put 2 and 3 words together. Everyday when Dino gets home from work, even though I know he is tired, he still works with DJ. They work on his motor skills and speech. I love watching them spend time together and DJ lights up when he sees his Daddy walk through the door. The girls have really helped DJ and have  been motivators for him too. They play everyday working on puzzles, coloring, & anything else that sparks their imagination. 
Yesterday we took the kids to a birthday party next door. It is so nice to see DJ playing with his friends. One of his best friends Riley really has been one of DJ's biggest motivator. The time they spend together playing Army or running around the house has really been good for DJ. Kids are really great aren't they.
The kids are excited because Grandma is coming back up to visit again in a couple of weeks. It will be really nice to see my mom again. The weather is starting to warm up and the snow is starting to melt so hopefully my sister will come back to visit soon too (she doesn't do the cold). 
Overall the reports from DJ's therapist are amazing! Miss Megan, DJ's Speech therapist, is still thrilled at the progress he's making week from week. When DJ first started seeing Megan she really had to try to get him talking and now he is offering up more words all the time. We all think that is fantastic! Miss Yvonne, DJ's Occupational therapist, has seen a huge improvement. DJ use to give her a hard time, (kind of surprising since DJ is my most cooperative child) in the beginning and now he likes to go to therapy and is very willing to work! Yvonne works a lot with his right arm and that has been the hardest thing to come back so far. Before surgery we were pretty much told that he would be very limited in his right arm and most likely have no fine motor skills in his hand anymore. I think not being able to use that arm has been very frustrating but he is working hard trying to get it back. Since sometime in December DJ's physical therapist changed and now he is seeing Miss Jamie. Since Jamie has started working with him he has always enjoyed playing with her and he is accomplishing more & more every visit. 
During these last 6 months our lives have been a roller coaster and we  apologize for not updating the blog as much as we'd like to. We will try to sit down and update at least once a month on how Dj is doing and appreciate the love and prayers.

Thank you all for your love and support!

The Rivera's

Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.
       - John Heywood, sixteenth-century English poet

"Once you chose hope, anything's possible." -Christopher Reeve

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Waking up very early this morning I stared out the window watching how beautiful the sun slowly brought light on to the Colorado mountains. The glimpse of beautiful snow top mountains and pillow soft clouds gave me a feeling of peace and happiness. Just then I remembered seeing the sign "God's Country" which really put everything  into perspective. Though every year we have celebrated the Holidays with Family and Friends this year is starting off very different. Different in that as parents we truly understand  and appreciate the meaning of being Thankful.
As I walked around the house waiting anxiously and knowing everyone was still sound asleep, I came to see that I could not take my eyes of my kids cuddled up next to their mommy. DJ had his Super DJ Blanket and his sisters Tiana & Kiara on each side of him. At that moment I was thankful knowing that our children were always going to be there for each other. I started to remember when I was younger and my 5 brothers would stay up all night watching movies and wake up to the smell of Turkey, Ham and Fresh Pumpkin Pie as  our mom cooked a Feast for all of us! Those were some of the Greatest memories I want my children to have someday when they look back on there childhood. I then looked over to Kristen and found myself thanking God for bringing her into my life. This beautiful woman, wife, mother and best friend has helped me be a better man and I hope she knows how much I truly love her.
DJ is doing better everyday. At his last therapy his therapist said this was the best session he has had yet. His right side is really coming along. We have been working with him on stairs and he is walking up without assistance now. His speech is improving and is starting to put words together. How hard it must be for him knowing what he wants to say, but can't quite put all the words together yet. We keep hugging him and let him know that he is getting stronger and stronger every day. We have a lot of videos that are to help him regain his speech and practice with him every day. It's wonderful to hear him getting his words back. The other day the girls and him were coming down the stairs and he clearly said "Wait for me". We know it's going to take time and with a lot of love and support he will get every thing back. He has come along way in 11 weeks and the Doctors at his last visit were very excited and hopeful about his progress.
Kristen has recently been in contact with the parents of Jessie Hall who is a beautiful little girl that had a hemispherectomy and touched the heart of many as she continues on her journey. Her parents Cris and Kristi started The Hemispherectomy Foundation to help other kids and family's all around the world. Jessie's Grandparents who live in Wyoming, only a few hours from us, have dedicated acres of their land with Christmas trees that they are lighting for all the children that have had hemispherectomy's. Jessie and her parent's will be visiting during holidays and we are hoping to drive to Wyoming to meet this wonderful family that has done so much for so many.
Our family has a lot to be thankful for this year and are blessed to have all the Love & Support from Great Family & Friends. We will never be able to express just how much you helped us through our tough times and are Grateful for everything. You will always be in our prayers.
  We have many chapters of life that we go through, some good, some bad. Some families stay very close and some seem to slowly drift apart. It doesn't mean we stopped loving each other, it just means we are all growing and adapting to our lives that may take us down different roads. In the end the most important thing to remember is that we are all still family and that is something very special. HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!! Have a safe and wonderful day with your families.
-From the Rivera Family.

"Once you choose hope any thing is possible" -Christoper Reeve

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Family & Friends are always the best medicine

   It has been close to 4 weeks that we all have been home now and it is very nice to have a sense of normality back in our lives. DJ has come a long way since his surgery 8 1/2 weeks ago and we know still has a long journey ahead of him. We really have to thank God for all the continued support from family & friends we have been receiving. These prayers & love have really been the strength which has motivated DJ and kept him smiling as he reaches new milestones in his recovery.
   This past weekend was Halloween and DJ along with family and neighborhood friends had a wonderful time. DJ wore his Superman outfit, Kiara went as Supergirl, and Tiana went as a Pirate. It was very nice to see DJ  back with all his wonderful neighborhood friends. House by house DJ seemed to be getting more and more excited as he visited some of the neighbors who had not seen him since he has been home. All the interaction with everyone was such a great medicine for DJ. He stopped and took pictures with his best pals and gave hugs to show them how much he was glad to see them. Our friends Tara and Theo (who live right next door) had a Halloween party with games and prizes for the kids.We all really had a great time enjoying each others company.
   DJ also made a visit to school to attend his class Halloween party. All the kids were dressed up and even his teacher had dressed up as Where's Waldo. We are very thankful that DJ is part of such a great school as Turnberry Elementary. The students and staff have been absolutely wonderful. Dino and I took all the kids to family night where the kids played games, trick or treated, and had lots of fun! DJ's energy is definitely  coming back because even though we were ready to go he still wanted to stay and play.
   One of DJ's highlights was receiving a special gift from our cousin Ramiro in AZ. Ramiro made him a Superman pajama outfit with a cape and all! He was very excited to see it and even though it was 2 o'clock in the afternoon wanted to put it on for the remaining of the day & night. Thank you very much cousin for the outfit and the beautiful heart felt words you sent in your letter.
DJ is walking without assistants but is working hard on his strength & balance. We are taking him to outpatient therapy during the week. He has started walking up the stairs all by himself! His therapist have really seen a difference from session to session. Though sometimes getting him to therapy has its challenges. I think he would prefer watching the Disney channel and lounging on the couch. Wait...I guess I see his point. He is now able to slowly raise his right arm and just a few days ago started to squeeze with his right hand. Dino and I are working everyday with him doing different activities to help wake up his muscles and help his brain to start making more connections with the right side of his body. Sometimes it's very hard as a parent seeing your child struggle with things that use to be so easy for him, but that feeling quickly vanishes when we see his beautiful eyes light up from accomplishing another goal. Letting us know to stay strong because he has not and never will give up on his journey.  He has made our family bond closer and continues to every day. We seem to appreciate each other much more and he helps to remind us that love can move mountains.  

"Once you choose hope, anything is possible" -Christopher Reeve

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Home is where the heart is.

    DJ is very happy to be home with his family and friends. All his neighborhood pals have been coming to visit and spend time with him. It's amazing how children build these beautiful bonds. Being around his friends has definitely been a major motivating factor for him to continue with his progress. He has been taking walks with his dad enjoying the beautiful Colorado weather which will be turning in the next couple of weeks. DJ is very determined and continues to show daily improvement as he faces these challenges. The strength in the right side of his body is starting to improve more so in his right leg as the doctors predicted. His right arm has started to get what they call tone. Which is the beginning of movement and is a very good sign.
     There has been a lot going on since we have been home. On Saturday Oct.16th our friends from the neighborhood planned a Spaghetti Dinner Benefit at the Fire Station for DJ here in Colorado. Everyone had a great time as some of his friends were seeing him for the first time since his surgery! The kids had so much fun doing the cake walk, getting their face painted, dancing, and of course getting to check out the fire engine. The kids had a great time sitting in the truck and imagining that they were brave junior firefighters. Mullberries Cake Shop made an awesome cake with the Super DJ logo on it. He had the honor of cutting the cake and having the first slice! He was absolutely thrilled! Mullberries also provided cupcakes with DJ's initials on them that were very tasty! He was so excited that he walked and played with his friends during most of the event! By the end of the fun filled night he was ready to go home and relax! To all of our wonderful family and friends that helped with not only this event but have given us all the love and support through out, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We are so blessed to have you in our lives! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
      DJ has started his outpatient therapy. It's good for us too because they work with Dino and I on what we can do to help him at home. The physical therapist thinks DJ is doing a great job and probably can go down to one physical therapy sessions a week after about a month or so. We are so proud that he is fighting to get his strength & mobility back. Our little man seems to amaze us each day!
    We appreciate every one sending us love and prayers and will try to update the blog. at least every couple of weeks so that family & friends can follow along with Dj's Journey.Thank you and God Bless.

"Once you choose hope, anything's possible" -Christopher Reeve