Heather Boulais being helped out of a wheelchair as she walks out of the hospital on Aug. 13, 2015. (Screengrab from KETV)

Adventist News

Update No. 2: Injured Union College Gymnast Walks Out of Hospital

We are so very thankful we can celebrate Heather's 24th birthday today.

Updates appended

, news editor, Adventist Review

Heather Boulais, a gymnast from Union College who has been lifted up in prayer by thousands of Seventh-day Adventists around the world, has walked out of the hospital seven months after she was badly injured in a 23-foot (7-meter) fall during team practice.

Boulais, a 23-year-old senior elementary education major from Laguna Niguel, California, suffered a serious brain injury when she fell while attaching silks to the college gymnasium’s ceiling for an aerial routine with her acrobatic gymnastics team on Jan. 14.

On Thursday, Boulais, receiving support from two caregivers on each side, rose from a wheelchair and slowly made her way out of the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. She smiled broadly as onlookers applauded enthusiastically and television cameras captured the triumphant scene.Heather Boulais (Union College)

“The Union College family rejoices that Heather has made such wonderful progress!” college president Vinita Sauder told the Adventist Review. “The Lord has blessed and has heard the prayers of those of us here in Lincoln, Nebraska, and around the world.”

Boulais’ gradual recovery despite seemingly insurmountable odds has been closely followed by well-wishers on a special Facebook pagea website, and the Adventist Review.

Her parents, who have written weekly updates published on those three sites, acknowledged that they have struggled with fear and anxiety for many months even though their updates always end with the faith-filled phrase, “To God be the glory!”

“It's been life-changing for Heather and all of us. It’s been long, difficult, exhausting,” Heather’s mother, Cheryl Boulais, told KETV, the local affiliate of the ABC television network, which headlined its Thursday evening news with a report about Heather’s recovery.

The investigation into Heather’s fall is ongoing, Union College said.

The mother expressed gratitude for the many prayers.

“It’s overwhelming. People who don't even know us are praying,” she said.

Heather’s father, Terry Boulais, echoed her thanks for the prayers and said he was thrilled to see his daughter walk.

“To see her stand, take the steps, is very humbling,” he said.

Their daughter will continue to receive treatment in the Roman Catholic-owned hospital’s outpatient program from the temporary home where her parents have lived in Lincoln since January.

Heather Boulais still has a way to go. In her parents’ most recent update last weekend, they expressed excitement that she was finally able to drink fluids on her own through a straw. But they asked for prayers for improvements with eating and drinking, and, most importantly, the return of her ability to speak.

“Please pray for continued progress with communication and specifically a breakthrough with her voice and words,” they said.


Update No. 1: Aug. 22

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

We enter this Sabbath grateful to have our family together under the same roof.

Cheryl’s father treated us to a brunch at Village Inn to celebrate Cheryl’s birthday. It was wonderful to see Heather enjoying herself as she ate some of her favorite foods. We have hit a new level of exhaustion adjusting to a new schedule, new therapists, and the challenge of keeping up without having nurses and aides. Heather’s smiles, sweet spirit, and your prayers keep us going.

We are excited about Heather’s therapy. This week she enjoyed aquatics treatment and the Lokomat for the first time. It was wonderful to see her relax in a pool. The Lokomat is an amazing robotic treadmill machine that helps facilitate walking. Heather loved it and did great on it.

Our insurance battles continue. Cheryl spent every free moment this week fighting for insurance to cover one of Heather's medications. We ask that you continue to pray for insurance cooperation. Please continue to pray for Heather's right side to gain strength and mobility. Pray for increased communication and for Heather's precious sweet voice to be restored.

Thank you so much for your continuous prayers! To God be the glory!

Update No. 2, Sept. 12, 2015

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Sabbath brings a special day, a day that was uncertain almost eight months ago: Heather's birthday. 

Our hearts are heavy for the things Heather has missed out on during these months and a future that is still uncertain. We had looked forward to seeing where she would teach after graduation. She had so many plans and ideas for setting up her own classroom. She looked forward to attending weddings of many of her close friends this summer. She looked forward to spending another summer working at Camp Wawona. 

At the same time, we are so very thankful we can celebrate Heather's 24th birthday with her today. Our friends in rehab brought a delicious cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to her on Friday. She beamed with a great big smile and bright eyes. Her smile and sweet spirit make each day brighter and more bearable.

Heather worked hard this week. We are so encouraged by the increased movement on her right side. Her right leg is getting stronger and more active. She is beginning to initiate slight movements with her right arm. She is becoming more aware of the right side. Her determination to heal is evident. She continues to gain strength and coordination on the Lokomat and in her pool therapy. She is learning how to steer her wheelchair while using only her left hand and foot. She cracks herself up when she bumps into something or gets stuck.

We love having Heather in a home with us, allowing us to have life outside of the rehabilitation hospital. Last week we watched Summer play in her first varsity volleyball game. It was awesome! Heather watched and smiled, moving my hands out of her way when I was fanning her with papers to keep her cool.

We have some specific goals we would love to see Heather accomplish. We ask that you pray specifically for Heather to gain enough strength and balance to walk independently. We ask that you pray specifically for Heather to begin using her right arm. We ask that you pray specifically for Heather's voice and words to return. We miss her beautiful laugh and her animated stories. We ask that you pray specifically for insurance to approve Botox treatment for Heather's muscle toning, night splints for her ankles, and continued day rehab therapy.

Thank you so much for your continuous prayers! To God be the glory!


Older stories

Posted Jan. 14, 2015

A member of the Gymnaires, Union College’s acrobatic gymnastics team, was seriously injured Wednesday night, Jan. 14, when she fell while setting up an apparatus during the team’s regular practice.

Heather Boulais, a 23-year-old senior elementary education major from Laguna Niguel, California, was hospitalized in Lincoln, Nebraska, in critical condition.

A family representative said Friday that the medical team has seen small improvements but Boulais remains in critical condition.

Boulais was in a safety harness while attaching her aerial silks to the ceiling of the gymnasium when she fell about 23 feet (7 meters).

“Student safety is our highest priority and we are in the process of reviewing what happened to determine the cause of the fall,” said Vinita Sauder, president of Union College. “We will do everything possible to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

“We are doing everything we can to support Heather’s family, friends and teammates,” said Rich Carlson, vice president for spiritual life at Union College. “We have made counselors available for those who need it.”

All classes in the gymnasium and the men’s and women’s Warrior basketball games scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 15, were canceled. The gymnasium reopened at noon Friday, and all regularly scheduled activities resumed.

Union College administrators are cooperating with the authorities who are investigating the incident. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Heather’s family and friends,” Carlson said. “Please join us in prayer for her recovery.”

“Right now we are surrounding the Boulais family with the support they need during this difficult time,” Sauder said.

More information will be available at ucollege.edu as it is available.

Update No. 1 on Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. EST

Heather Boulais remained in critical condition on Sabbath at a Lincoln hospital. She was surrounded by her family, and they have asked that Lincoln friends and well-wishers not visit over the next few days while friends and family from around the country are in town.

The family also asks that food and flowers not be sent to the hospital at this time. 

Cards and letters can be sent to:

Union College
ATTN: Prayers for Heather
3800 S. 48th Street
Lincoln, NE 68506
U.S.A.

Update No. 2 on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. EST

Heather Boulais' family has asked for a special season of prayer tonight at 11 p.m. CST.

Union College will not hold a formal gathering, but all are invited to join the school at that time in lifting Heather and her family up in prayer.

Update No. 3 on Jan. 18

While people around the world joined together in prayer for Heather Boulais at 11 p.m. on Jan. 17, the Gymnaires acrobatic gymnastic team gathered in the hospital lobby in Lincoln, Nebraska, to pray and Union College paused a student association event in the gymnasium to hold a prayer service.

“We are so overwhelmed by the global outpouring of prayers and support,” Heather’s parents, Terry and Cheryl Boulais, said in a statement. “We thank you all for your prayers last night at 11 p.m.”

Heather Boulais, a member of the Union College Gymnaires team, suffered a traumatic brain injury and skull fracture when she fell 23 feet while hanging her aerial silks on the gymnasium ceiling during practice on Jan. 14.

Her parents said Boulais remains in a medically induced coma with a reduced body temperature. 

“She is still in extremely critical condition, but the events of last night have given us our first ray of hope,” they said. “The follow-up CT scans we received last night were the best we could hope for, and the medical staff has begun raising her body temperature back to normal—a process that will take a couple of days.”

Her parents were quick to thank everyone involved in caring for their daughter. 

“We’ve seen many miracles, including the quick actions of Heather’s coach and teammates, the immediate transportation to the top trauma care unit in the tri-state area, and her surgeons’ excellent care,” they said. “We ask for your continued prayers over the next 48 hours. Our God is an awesome God!”

Update No. 4 on Jan. 20

Terry and Cheryl Boulais, parents of injured Union College gymnast Heather Boulais, released the following statement this evening:

“Once again, we must humbly begin with thanking everyone around the world who has been praying for our little Heather. We knew the army of prayer warriors would be there at 11 p.m., but we did not know that Heather's body would react sooner.

“Earlier in the evening, we were by Heather's side when her body began to react to the warming, and these signs continue to give us hope. The medical team is still closely monitoring for infections. This is one small baby step in this long marathon we must endure.

“This evening before 7 p.m., the doctors will be taking another critical step in monitoring her progress. We ask once again for prayers beginning before 7 p.m. Pray specifically that this step goes as expected and that there continues to be no signs of infection. Thank you for your continued prayers.”

Update No. 5 on Jan. 21

Terry and Cheryl Boulais, parents of injured Union College gymnast Heather Boulais, released the following statement this afternoon:

“We want to let all of you know the procedure this morning went very well. Now they are able to do an MRI. This will be at 2 p.m. today and we once again ask for prayers at that time. We specifically ask you to pray that nothing new appears on the MRI that we do not already know. Thank you for your continued prayers.” 

Update No. 6 on Jan. 28

Terry and Cheryl Boulais, parents of injured Union College gymnast Heather Boulais, released the following statement:

"Thank you all for your continued prayers! Heather's temperature is still elevated but no signs of infection so far. A machine is cooling her body to battle the fever. Pray that her temperature regulates so she no longer needs the machine. We praise God, because tonight will be her first night off of the ventilation system. Pray that she has a restful, healing night.

"We also want to take a moment to thank everyone involved in Heather's care. From the moment of the accident to present day, she has received the very best attention and care! Thank you Gymnaires coaching staff, teammates, Lincoln Fire and Rescue squad, Bryan West Emergency and Critical Care medical team, Union College staff members, and friends who have been a part of this process. Additionally, thank you to everyone who continues to support and aid our family during this process. Your thoughtful willingness to help us in anyway possible has been overwhelming and we are so very grateful!

"Our God is an awesome God!"

The statement was published on a new page that the parents have set up on the CaringBridge.org site to share information and updates about their daughter. First-time users need to create a free login to access Heather's page, but the login also allow users to receive notifications when a new update is posted and leave notes for Heather's family.

Update No. 7 on Jan. 29

Vinita Sauder, president of Union College, said an unspecified outside organization has been hired to investigate the circumstances around the gymnast Heather Boulais' fall.

“The college hired an outside organization to gather all the facts, determine what happened, and make recommendations,” Sauder said. “We cannot put an exact time frame on how long this process will take, but we will be thorough while moving as quickly as possible to make the needed determinations and recommendations.”

Meanwhile, the college said that its Gymnaires gymnast team returned to practice last week with a modified training program, pending results of the review.

Update No. 8 on Jan. 30

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Praise God! Heather has successfully remained off the ventilator! Her temp was 99.3 most of Thursday and 99.8 in the evening. While she is not yet awake, nor aware of her surroundings, she continues to show progress. We are so thankful!

"As the sun sets this evening and another Sabbath begins, we ask that you begin praying continuously for a smooth 'waking up' process and that she feels God's presence and comfort as her brain begins to awaken and heal. Pray that she is at peace and not fearful or anxious during this process.

"Our God is an awesome God!

"Thank you for your continued prayers!"

Update No. 9 on Feb. 4

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Thank you all for your continued prayers! Saturday was a big setback and Heather is still very critical. We ask that you continue to pray for no infections, no more fever, and that Heather continues to heal and show progress once again.

"We have a powerful, loving God!"

Update No. 10 on Feb. 4

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Thank you all for your continued prayers! Heather is having a CT tomorrow morning, between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., as a follow up to the surgery last Saturday. Please pray specifically that she has a good night and for this CT to show good results! Continue also to pray for no infection and for her temperature to come back down to normal.

"We have a powerful, loving God!"

Update No. 11 on Feb. 5

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Praise God, He is watching over our precious Heather! Her CT showed nothing that needed to be addressed again with surgery and she had a restful night. Please continue to pray for her temperature to return to normal. Pray also for no infections and continued healing as she is still in critical condition.

"We have a powerful, loving God!"

Update No. 12 on Feb. 7

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Thank you all for your continued prayers and for the tremendous outpouring of support for our family in California and in Lincoln during this very difficult time! We have been blessed with delicious home cooked meals, transportation, and a multitude of prayers. We are very grateful and overwhelmed!

"Heather is beginning to show positive progress once again and we are encouraged. This has been a very tough week, but we have had some rays of hope! Please pray that she has a restful, healing weekend, for protection against infection, and for her temperature to regulate.

"We have a powerful, loving God!"

Update No. 13, Feb. 8

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Once again we ask for your prayers! Heather will be going into surgery this afternoon to address a complication that has arisen. Please pray for the doctors and that this surgery will address her current issue.

"We have a powerful, loving God!"

Update No. 14, Feb. 9

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Once again we thank you for your prayers! Even though yesterday's surgery went well, complications can still arise. It was not a setback like last week, but it was a complication that was addressed with this surgery. Heather is still in critical ICU and we still have a very long road ahead.

"Please pray for no more complications and forward progress.

"We have a powerful, loving God!"

Update No. 15, Feb. 12

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"We want to thank you for your faithful prayers! Sunday's surgery has helped Heather make positive progress toward stabilizing. She has been off the ventilator again for a couple of days. We ask that you pray for Heather to remain stable enough to move out of the intensive care unit and into a rehabilitation center. Her temperature has been regulating better as well. Please continue to pray for no infections and her temperature to remain stable.

"We have a powerful, loving God!"

Update No. 16, Feb. 13

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"God continues to bless us with answered prayers! Today was a big day for Heather. She was moved from Intensive Care into a rehabilitation facility to continue her recovery. We ask you to pray for a good first night in her new home and that she continues with forward progress on her journey to recovery. Continue to pray for no infections and for her temperature to remain stable.

"Our family is so very grateful for the outpouring of prayer and support. We ask that you pray also for the family of Madison Baird as they cope with the loss of their precious daughter, who was attending Walla Walla University. Our hearts ache for what they are enduring. We are so grateful for the promise of salvation and that great reunion with our loved ones! Our thoughts and prayers are with Madison's family."

Update No. 17, Feb. 14

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"As Sabbath is upon us, we reflect on a week of emotional ups and downs. We continue to lift Madison Baird's family and loved ones in prayer.

"We are probably at our peak exhaustion, and we pray for a peaceful weekend. Many have asked if Heather is awake. She is not in a drug-induced coma, however, the "waking up" is a gradual process. She has shown responsive signs, but is not awake. Every patient recovers at a different pace. We ask that you pray for Heather's medical team — that they have guidance and wisdom in reaching out to Heather. Pray that Heather responds and progresses with her therapy. As always pray for no infection or complications.

"We have created a Facebook group page called ‪#‎PrayersforHeather‬ so we can have one location for updates and support. We will be sharing this with Heather. This is for anyone to share encouraging words, support, Bible verses, songs, or any other thoughts of support for Heather.

"We have a powerful, loving God!

"Thank you for your prayers!"

Update No. 18, Feb. 21

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"We are thankful for Sabbath and Heather has completed her first week at the rehabilitation center. She receives four 30 minute therapy sessions per day. She occasionally sleeps through a few, so we are working hard at giving her the rest she needs during the night and between therapy sessions.

"Many want to know how she is but this is difficult to answer. A sign of progress for us may be subtle, such as movement of her thumb. We are grateful for the slightest hint of positive progress! While it is impossible to predict precisely how a person will recover, the rehabilitation center uses the Rancho Scale (Rancho Los Amigos Scale of Cognitive Recovery) to describe the general phases of recovery. This scale describes ten levels or phases of recovery. Not every person will experience all characteristics of each level and some may not go through each stage. At this point, Heather is at the Level II: Generalized Response.

"Additionally, many of you may be wondering what other injuries she may have suffered. The most serious injury is a skull fracture, resulting in her severe traumatic brain injury. Other than that, she only fractured one right rib resulting in a partially collapsed lung, both of which are healed at this point. There were no other injuries or bruises found on her body, inside or out!

"We ask specifically that you pray for Heather's progress to increase more and more rapidly, giving her a better chance at a more complete recovery down the road. Pray also for no additional complications and as always, for no infections. Thank you for your continued prayers!

"To God be the Glory!"

Update No. 19, Feb. 27

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"We look forward to Sabbath and the weekend each week. It seems to be the time that Heather's muscles are most relaxed. Last Sunday we received a beautiful blessing from Heather. We saw her smile for the first time since her accident! She smiled repeatedly throughout the day at her dad's silliness. She has smiled occasionally during her therapy sessions this week. She responds to stimuli by moving her feet, arm or finger when touched. She does not move her head, eyes, feet, hands, or arms, when asked. Heather is not following commands consistently or definitively enough to move into the next level of the Rancho scale. Following commands is an important part of her therapy.

"Heather's sister, Rachel, has battled the flu this last week and we want to praise God that she is recovering and that no one else in the family caught it.

"We ask that you pray specifically for definitive, purposeful movements to commands. Heather will have another CT this Monday at 1:30 p.m. Please pray the results show continued healing and no complications. Continue to pray for no infections. We praise and thank our loving, powerful God for the smiles and miracles!

"To God be the glory!"

Update No. 20, March 5

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Heather had a CT scan earlier this week — thank you for your prayers. The results were good and she is stable enough to have surgery on Thursday. This is an important follow up surgery to her initial injury. Her surgery will be at 2 p.m. We ask that you pray during this time for the medical team, Heather and a successful surgery.

"To God be the Glory!"

Update No. 21, March 5

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Heather's surgery went well today. Thank you for your prayers!

We have an awesome God!

Update No. 22, March 7

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Heather went back into surgery today to fix a complication. The surgery went well, and she is now resting. Pray for good results and continued progress from this surgery. Thank you for your prayers.

"To God be the glory!"

Update No. 23, March 14

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"Last week Heather was faced with back-to-back surgeries. It was a long and exhausting weekend. She has moved back to the rehabilitation facility. 

"The anesthesia has slowed her progress down a bit this week, but we can see that it is slowly working out of her system. She is showing signs in both Rancho Los Amigos Scale levels II and III, but has not fully progressed into level III. We are praying that she reaches level III and progresses into level IV soon. 

"As we enter this Sabbath, she is resting peacefully after a day full of therapy. With the planned surgery behind us, we are anticipating and praying for a steady road to recovery from this point. She has had a tracheostomy in place, and we are hoping it will be removed this next week. This will be a positive step toward forward progress.

"Please pray specifically that Heather will soon reach Rancho level IV. Pray that the tracheostomy can be successfully removed. As always continue to pray for no infections or complications.

"To God be the glory!"

Update No. 24, March 17

Join the Union College Nursing Club for a spaghetti dinner to benefit Heather Boulais. The event will be held this Sunday, March 22, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Heartland Hall in the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Enjoy spaghetti with choice of red or white sauce, salad, Texas toast and dessert. Donations for Heather will be accepted at the door.

The church is located on the corner of 48th and Prescott on the campus of Union College.

Thanks for keeping Heather in your prayers.

Update No. 25, March 20

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

"As the sun sets and Sabbath begins, we are grateful for quiet moments to reflect on another week with Heather. This has been an encouraging week. We have seen many smiles and an increase in movement and responses. Her tracheostomy was removed, her CT looks good, and all of her stitches have been removed. With no more planned surgeries, we are praying for and looking forward to continuous positive progress towards recovery. We humbly thank you for your faithful prayers and support.

"We ask that you continue to pray for Heather to fully reach Rancho Level III and quickly move into Level IV. As always, continue to pray for no infections or complications.

"To God be the Glory!"

Update No. 26, March 30

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Heather has moved to acute rehab which means she will gradually receive more therapy time. She had some good days last week and some not so good days. She had a CT on Friday, and the doctor is keeping an eye on a small change. A followup CT will be completed Monday or Tuesday.

We ask that you pray for a good CT, for continued progress into level III and IV during her therapy sessions.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 27, April 6

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

We entered the Sabbath with mixed emotions. This weekend was the Gymnaires Homeshow and what would have been Heather's final Homeshow before graduating from college. We experienced her excitement throughout this year as she knew her entire family would be here to watch this year's Homeshow. She was beaming with pride and enthusiasm over her new silks and the routine she was putting together for the Homeshow.

The heaviness in our hearts is almost unbearable at times. Yet we were so proud to support the Gymnaires as they prepared for their Homeshow performance on Saturday night. Heather's teammates and coaches have become our family. They share Heather's passion and dreams. She would be incredibly proud of each and every one. They have worked hard, prayed hard, and supported Heather, our family, and each other through unspeakable circumstances. We are healing together with Heather and her team as we attend their practices and join in their prayer circle.

Heather wrote the girls' routine, choosing the music, along with moves and pyramids that include every single girl. It is always important to her to make sure every person is included and has an important role in the routine. At Christmas, everything in our living room was rearranged, except the Christmas tree, to allow room to practice the routine with her youngest sister, Summer. Heather meticulously worked out the timing of every move to the music. Our hearts are heavy but full of love and pride for Heather, her teammates, and her passion.

Heather's follow up CT last Monday showed improvement from the previous Friday. Her therapy sessions last week included some hopeful progress and signs of moving toward Rancho Levels III and IV. Heather had an X-ray of her hip on April 3 to determine if a condition known as heteroptic ossification is occurring. The X-ray looks good now; however, they will continue to monitor her hip and retest if necessary. Please pray specifically that this condition does not occur anywhere in her body. It is a common occurrence in traumatic brain injuries.

We specifically ask that you continue to pray for Heather's complete recovery and that heterotopic ossification does not occur.

Our God is a loving God! To God be the glory!

Update No. 28, April 11:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Sabbath arrived quickly after a fast-paced week. Exhaustion has hit us hard. Our family is once again in two different parts of the country. Cheryl and Rachel remain in Lincoln, Nebraska, with Heather, and Terry accompanied Summer back to California at the end of her spring break. A large focus of recent therapy has been to establish a means of communication with Heather.

We ask that you pray specifically for a breakthrough in communication with Heather. As always, continue to pray for forward progress and no complications.

Our God is a loving God! To God be the glory!

Update No. 29, April 18:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

We welcome the Sabbath a little more rested and upbeat. Heather receives six to eight therapies a day (up to four hours each time). Therapy consists of speech: working on swallowing, chewing, finding her voice, and establishing a means of communication; physical therapy: working on muscle coordination and toning, weight bearing, following commands; occupational therapy: working on daily activities like using her hands and arms for brushing teeth or hair and eating and retraining various muscles for activities of daily living. These are just a few examples of each therapy, and each one has a very long road ahead.

Heather receives a new cast, known as "serial casting," on her left ankle every Monday and Thursday to keep her foot and toes from pointing. She did not break it, but due to her traumatic brain injury her toes point and stiffen her leg. Unfortunately, on that same leg, her knee is now starting to draw upward and out and does not ever relax. She also underwent a vestibular evaluation and we found she has a complex form of BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). This can make you feel like you are on a spinning ride.

It has been a busy week but also a week of encouraging signs. Although a means of communication has not been established, we feel she is close. She appears to recognize or respond to familiar faces. One event that happened this week gave us such encouragement. Rachel was saying the alphabet in Spanish to Heather, lost her place for a second, and forgot the next letter. Heather immediately smiled when that happened and had the look on her face like "come on Rachel you know it" and she continued to smile until Rachel remembered the next letter. Every day has its challenges, but every day we see God's work in Heather's healing process. Even though there is still a long road ahead, we continue to see forward progress.

Please pray specifically that we establish a means of communication soon, that her treatment for the BPPV is successful, that her serial casting is successful, for her left leg to relax allowing her to bear weight on it and that she enters Rancho Level IV soon.

Thank you so much for your continuous prayers! To God be the glory!

Update No. 30: May 2:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

It is hard to believe that Sabbath is already here. This last week has been a blur. We thought we had reached our peak stress and exhaustion level by last Friday afternoon. Heather was alert and looking at us and by all appearances, it was just another day. That all changed very quickly when Heather had her first seizure. Fortunately, Rachel and I were with her when it happened. Medical personnel quickly responded and had her transported to the hospital where she had a CT and underwent shunt revision surgery.

Heather has remained alert since the surgery, however, we continue to battle insurance issues, and quite frankly, each day gets harder and harder to face. Discouragement is weighing us down, and battling insurance feels like a dark, lonely tunnel with no light at the end.

We sincerely thank each and every one of you for your constant prayers and support. We thank those who have provided monetary funds, food, caregiving relief, laundry needs, transportation and many other things.

Our specific prayer needs are overwhelming and I don't know where to begin … please continue to pray for Heather's continued recovery, a breakthrough in communication, moving up the Rancho Scale, and insurance cooperation.

Thank you so much for your continuous prayers! To God be the glory!

Update No. 31, May 9:

This Sabbath is a special one and a very emotional weekend for us. We are extremely proud of Heather! Her academic ambition and dedication has paid off. She is graduating this weekend with:

  • Bachelor of science, personalized degree in educational studies
  • Bachelor of arts in second-language studies, with an emphasis in Spanish, summa cum laude
  • Upon completion of a semester of student teaching, she will receive her bachelor of science in elementary education, summa cum laude

Commencement is Sunday, May 10, 11 a.m. CT. Heather will not be able to be there, but you can watch it live here.

Heather showed positive progress in therapy this week. Please pray specifically for increased positive progress. Pray also for a breakthrough in communication.

Heather, we are so very proud of you! We love you!

Thank you so much for your continued prayers! To God be the glory!

Update No. 32, May 16:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

We are once again thankful that the Sabbath hours are upon us. We look forward to this time to reflect on the blessings of family and the many miracles along this journey with Heather. 

We are grateful that Heather rests well after a full day of therapy. Heather worked hard in therapy this week. We are grateful that she continues forward progress. We are also very thankful for Heather's dedicated therapists, doctors, nurses, and aides, who show compassion for Heather and our family. They also share excitement when they receive a priceless smile from Heather. We are beginning to see Heather's precious smile more and more and we cherish every single one.

Please continue to pray specifically for a breakthrough in any type of communication with Heather. Pray also for a breakthrough with her voice. It has been four months since we have heard her precious voice and laughter. We miss it dearly and long for the day when we can hear her voice again. Pray also for increased strength and mobility on her right side.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 33, May 26:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Last week was full of therapy for Heather and a multitude of things to be accomplished by each of the family members; work, appointments, homework, and another school year drawing to a close. 

In one week, Rachel and Cheryl will fly back to California to attend Summer's piano recital and eighth-grade graduation. We are all looking forward to sharing a full week together. We will be missing Heather greatly during this special time. After spending almost every day and night by Heather's side for the last four months, it will be difficult to pull away. At the same time, it is a much needed respite together as a family. We are grateful to the amazing friends who are making this possible and spending time with Heather in our absence.

Heather has had good results from the positional therapy she has received for her vertigo. She no longer seems to suffer from nausea and has gained improvement with balance. She does not have serial casting on her left ankle anymore. She wears a splint at night on each ankle and her right hand to improve some toning issues. The therapists are working to improve range of motion in her neck and improve visual tracking to the right side with her eyes. We are grateful for forward progress.

Please pray specifically for a breakthrough in any type of communication with Heather. Pray she gains the use of her voice, her right arm, and her right leg. Pray for the muscles to relax in her left leg, allowing the return of full range of motion. Pray for her neck muscles to relax allowing her to turn to the right. Pray for her eyes to continue to improve their ability to look to the right.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 34, June 6:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

We have enjoyed this week at home with family. Summer played beautifully at her piano recital and gave a heartwarming tribute to each of the family members at her graduation. We are so proud of Summer and grateful to be together during this special time.

We welcomed the Sabbath by Skyping with Heather. She had lots of smiles for us. We have received positive updates all week. We look forward to seeing the changes in Heather when we return. We want to thank those who have been watching over Heather this week, sharing updates with us, and allowing us this time with family.

Heather received a treatment to her left hip and knee. Please pray specifically that this treatment is successful in improving the use of her leg. Pray also that she gains movement and function on her right side, for continued healing in her brain, and for communication to be established.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 35, June 13:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Prayers for Heather are working miracle after miracle throughout this journey with Heather. Heather welcomed the Sabbath with a visit from Grandpa. Heather has always enjoyed spending time with Grandpa. We would often hear her talking and laughing with him in his room during her visits home from college. This last week, Heather began to laugh with slight hints of vocal sounds. Grandpa's visit this evening brought out the best vocal sounds we have heard from Heather yet! She smiled and belly-laughed several times.

Her personality has began to show in her therapy sessions as well. One session consisted of removing hangers from a rod and placing them on the table. With repetition, she began completing the task successfully. However, she took it one step further than simply placing the hangers on the table. She made sure each hanger was perfectly stacked on top of the last hanger. She has always been very organized and particular.

We have also began to see very slight head nods and shakes to indicate yes and no. They are not consistent but with enough frequency to believe she is beginning to communicate. The treatment to her left leg seems to be relaxing the leg, allowing her to use it more purposefully. She actually played "footsie" with Rachel yesterday. It was a joy to watch. We are grateful and encouraged by her progress.

Thank you for your faithful prayers. Please pray for continued progress, especially in the areas of voice, communication, increased control of her eyes, head, neck, and overall muscle control. Pray for continued healing of her brain. Continue to pray for insurance issues to be resolved.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 36, June 20:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Friday was a good day for many reasons. With Terry and Summer's safe flight arrival Thursday night, our family is finally together again in the same state. We are blessed to be celebrating Summer's 14th birthday with her. When Heather saw her sister Summer on Friday, she reached out and tenderly caressed Summer's cheek to her chin. Summer said it was Heather's birthday gift to her. 

Heather finds great humor in her father. She would smile and laugh at him then wait with anticipation for the next silly face or comment. She especially loves his Elvis impressions. 

In her final therapy of the day, her dad sat on the mat next to her chair. Within a few seconds Heather managed to lift her right leg, placing her foot on her dad's leg. Yes, her right leg is regaining movement! Heather has reached a high IV on the Rancho Scale with signs of V. She is smiling most of the time and eager to please her therapists. 

Summer sang to Heather on and off Friday and hummed her to sleep during the Sabbath hours that night. We praise God for Heather's progress.

We ask that you continue to pray for insurance issues to be resolved. Despite Heather's progress, insurance is still a constant battle and stress. Pray for the return of full movement of her right arm and leg. And pray for her voice to return more and more.

Thank you so much for your continuous prayers! To God be the glory!

Update No. 37, June 27:

From Terry and Heather Boulais:

It is Sabbath, and we look forward to a relaxed weekend. Friday was a good day. We accompanied Heather and her therapists on her first outing. We enjoyed time at Holmes Lake. Heather is learning to propel herself in a wheelchair, using her left hand only, and she did well on the different surfaces around the lake. The weather was perfect, and Heather was smiling and relaxed.

We are encouraged by Heather's progress again this week. She was given the opportunity to sit at a piano. She was shown middle C, and her therapist asked her to play it. She promptly played middle C and every C below. At a later opportunity, she proceeded to play the C scale. With each opportunity at the piano, she continues to do more and more.

Interest in eating and drinking has been a challenge for Heather. Since gaining the confidence to hold and drink from a water/juice bottle, she has began to hold a spoon and bring it to her mouth. She also surprised Rachel by grabbing an ice chip out of Rachel's hand and eating it. We look forward to each day with Heather because she is beginning to accomplish something new every day. She is happy and smiling, and often laughing with hints of sound. She has reached Rancho Level V, and we are so grateful for this forward progress.

Her therapists have been placing Heather in a standing frame and also standing her up from her wheelchair or the mat. They placed a cast on her right leg on Thursday until Monday with the hope that it would allow her right foot to stand flat on the floor, facilitating better balance while standing. She also received a cast on her right arm to relieve some of the contracture in her elbow, with the hope that she can began using this arm.

Please pray for the casting to facilitate better use and mobility in her right arm and leg and that this will enable her to begin walking. Pray for continued improvement and interest in eating and drinking. Pray for continued progress in communication and that she will regain the use of her voice. Pray for insurance issues to be resolved.

This week, we are deeply saddened to hear about the loss of Will Green at Cohutta Springs Youth Camp. We ask that you also pray for his family and loved ones. Additionally, we have several other friends who have lost a loved one this week and we ask for prayers for them also. Lord please come soon!

To God be the glory!

Update No. 38, July 11:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Heather worked hard in therapy this week and has earned a much-needed Sabbath rest. She is accomplishing more and more each day. 

Heather's therapists are working with her on standing, with assistance during her therapy sessions. The best opportunity Heather received to stand was when one of her PT's helped her stand up and give her sister, Rachel, a hug. Priceless! 

Heather receives electrical stimulus to her right arm during one of her daily therapies. She sits at a table with a group of people also receiving electrical stimulus of some sort. Heather has managed to engage this group in a daily round of "roll the ball across the table" game. It has become quite entertaining! Eating and drinking has improved enough that she received her first food tray today. She has a long, long way to go towards eating but she is on the right track. Additionally, we heard her voice a little louder and stronger during a couple of moments of laughing this week.

Rachel has been encouraging Heather to play thumb wars with her, and this week, Heather became the thumb war champion. She beats Rachel almost every time, even if she has to cheat a little. Interestingly enough, she plays quite fairly with Summer. Hmmm … She gets quite a bit of enjoyment from Mom attempting to sing the Spanish alphabet. We love to hug Heather every day and it warms our hearts when she places her arm around us during those hugs.

We thank you for your faithful support and prayers! Please continue to pray, specifically, for rapid progress with eating and finding her voice. Please pray for mobility to be regained on her right side. Insurance issues continue to take a major toll on us, please pray for this to be resolved quickly. Please pray for our family as we will be apart from each other for the next couple of weeks.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 39, July 18:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

This week was busy and fast. It's hard to believe it is already Sabbath. We are always thankful for the time to rest and relax. 

Heather had another great week of therapy. She seems to surprise the therapists with something new every day. Her desire to eat has improved greatly. She is eating and drinking a little more with each opportunity. 

Two therapists, one on each side, helped Heather take her first steps this week. She is beginning to use her right leg and initiate steps with it. The treatment she received in her left leg has helped relax it enough to allow her to initiate steps and bear weight on it. She is so happy to be taking steps, she beams with a big smile the whole time. We praise God for the progress this week!

Please pray specifically for increased endurance, coordination, and strength toward walking without assistance. Please pray for Heather to begin eating full meals. Please pray for continued improvement with communication and specifically that she find her voice. Please continue to pray for insurance issues. Pray for our family while we are apart from each other, especially the sisters.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 40, July 24:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Another beautiful Sabbath and we are thankful for continued progress with Heather's eating and walking. She receives walking therapy daily, with the help of two therapists, and is getting stronger each day. She works hard in therapy to strengthen the muscles and control in her right leg, and to help with the walking. We know the road is long before she can walk independently, however, we are thankful and encouraged by every bit of progress. She is now eating three meals a day and relearning how to eat different textures and temperatures. Drinking enough liquids is definitely more challenging.

This evening I (Cheryl) was sitting next to Heather on her bed. I had just kissed each of her cheeks, her forehead, her nose, and her chin. I asked her if she was getting enough loving. She reached out, stroked my cheek, and cupped my chin in her precious, warm, dainty little hand. I was so touched, I was overcome with emotion. She drew me in for a tight hug and held me there. I completely lost it. I am so thankful for every moment with Heather.

We miss the sisters and anxiously await their return from their mission trip. We know it is very hard on them to be missing time with Heather.

I know God has bigger plans for Heather. He knows what she is capable of and has chosen her for a special purpose. I am inspired and in awe at the possibilities as He reveals His plan for her life.

Please pray for increased strength, control, and mobility on Heather's right side. Please pray for eating and drinking to continue improving without problems. Please pray for the return of Heather's voice and ability to speak. Please pray for Rachel and Summer to be blessed on their mission trip and to return healthy and safe. Please continue to pray for insurance issues.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 41, Aug. 1:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

Sabbath rest is a welcomed treasure! This week has been busy! We are definitely tired and looking forward to a restful weekend. 

We have heard from Rachel and Summer a few times and things are going well on their mission trip in Fiji. They are missing Heather and Mom and Dad, and we are missing them. We are looking forward to their return. Rachel posted a beautiful video for Heather. When we showed it to Heather, she watched intently and pushed play again as soon as it was over. We have watched this many times since:

Heather continues to gain strength in her right leg. Her right arm is beginning to show very slight movement. She smiles with each new accomplishment. It is priceless to watch her smile touch the hearts of her medical team. Her eating has progressed nicely. Our new challenge is getting her to drink enough fluids during her therapy-packed day. She received an evaluation with assistive technology to enhance communication. The evaluation went well and provided some encouraging possibilities.

Please pray for increased strength and movement on her right side. Please pray for her ability to drink a larger quantity of fluid during her busy day. Please pray for guidance for her speech-language pathologists to find the best assistive device to enable increased communication. Please pray her ability to use her voice and words to return.

To God be the glory!

Update No. 42, Aug. 8, 2015:

From Terry and Cheryl Boulais:

We enter the Sabbath with many blessings to be thankful for. Rachel and Summer have safely returned from their mission trip. They have enjoyed this week with Heather and seeing the progress she made while they were away. Terry and Cheryl celebrate 27 years of marriage today; unfortunately, we must celebrate from a distance.

We are most excited about a breakthrough Heather has had with drinking fluids. She started drinking from a straw a week ago. This has improved her drinking greatly but not enough. However, when she was given a Wild Cherry Capri Sun this week, she drank two in less than 10 minutes. Who knew Wild Cherry Capri Sun would be the key?! We then tried the straw in other liquids. Bingo! The straw was the key. She drank 61.5 ounces on Thursday! On Friday, she drank 58! 

This is the final step toward getting her Gtube removed. We pray that the doctor will tell us on Monday that it can be be removed. We praise God for this improvement!

Please pray for continued progress with safely eating, drinking, and the removal of the Gtube. Please continue to pray for sustained health of our family as we continue to support Heather in the ways that she needs us. Exhaustion is a constant battle. Our dedicated Speech Language Pathologists are working diligently to improve methods of communication with Heather. Please pray for continued progress with communication and specifically a breakthrough with her voice and words.

To God be the Glory!



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