The Taggart Family -- Life, Family and Friends

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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

This blog is a record of events in the life of Joseph Taggart and his family since his spinal cord injury while body surfing in Guatemala in January 2006.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's Off to Church I Go -- 4/30/06

The Kid:
For the first time in four months Joseph got to attend church in a chapel. His only method of transportation was "walking to Church" in his wheelchair, so Mom and Dad were doubtful as it poured rain outside. Joseph on the other hand dismissed any comment of concern and had us dress him in long pants and a white shirt and tie (his first time in "goin' to meeting" clothes in four months as well). Dad thought to himself, "if he approaches getting to meeting with this much faith, the Lord will turn off the showers". Sure enough, as we left for church the rain stopped and we had a beautiful walk in the fresh air with the blossoming signs of Spring everywhere. It was good for Dad to get back to the regular ward as well, he has been going to Church with Joseph at the hospital (it was tough getting used to the 30 min. Sacrament meeting followed by 30 min. Priesthood Meeting).
It was great to be with the Bennion Heights 8th Ward. There is such a great spirit about being with so many who love and care so much. We have all enjoyed the company all day and the goodies everyone keeps bringing over, it's been a great Sabbath.
Joseph has such great friends. It is a joy to have them come over here to stay and visit. They have been with Joseph so much at the hospital when we weren't there, it's great to have them here at home where we can enjoy them as well.

The Castle:
This week has been a busy one with the castle and keep. The crew from America's Greatest Carpets has been working on the bathroom tile since Wednesday, they are doing a great job and insist on perfection, they are real craftsmen. They have worked into the night getting things just right. It is looking fabulous. They will do the grout on Monday. The same company is doing the laminate flooring next week.

Doug Miles was here on Wednesday putting in the finishing touches on the air conditioning unit that will keep Joseph comfortable this Summer. It will be a blessing to us all, especially Mom and her allergies. We expect her to have a lot more energy this summer being able to breathe for a change.
On Wednesday the team from Hallmark Cabinets came to install the new cabinets they have created and are donating for Joseph. They are made with superb craftsmanship, we don't deserve stuff this good. It will work so well for Joseph to be able to access things.

The countertop crew from Team Marble and Granite came on Wednesday as well. Dustin Bowers (former EBM missionary) and his dad work together in this business, again, what amazing craftsmanship. They have designed a countertop area that is just the right height for the wheelchair to fit under. With the repainted existing cabinets, it really makes a new looking kitchen with loads more storage space.

After the countertop was installed, Jeremy Veenendahl (former EBM missionary) came over once again, this time to do the plumbing on the sink and more preparations to hook up the fittings for Joseph's bathroom.
Steve Sagers has been over a couple of times getting ready to paint as soon as things are ready. The van should arrive in Logan on Tuesday to start getting repaired. The lift should be on its way from the manufacturer. A lot is still happening. . . bountious blessing by the bushels. Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes, the Lord is answering them with blessings on our family and there is no doubt but what you are recieving the results of our prayers for all of you. We love you all.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

THE HOMECOMING! -- 4/25/06

He's BACK! Late yesterday afternoon Joseph hitched a ride with his friends Kasey and Kris from LDS Hospital and returned home at last. He comes with renewed infections but looking forward to being in a less contaminated environment and getting better fast. He feels great, looks great and IS great. He was able to return with a wheelchair, bed, commode/shower chair and lift all loaners until the ones we have requested come. Insurance has declined the commode/shower chair and lift already. We'll appeal, but we'll purchase anyway, even if the insurance doesn't (thanks to all the donations). We set up a bedroom in the former dining area of the family room, using empty bookcases as privacy dividers. It works pretty well.
Last Saturday after seeing the photos on the 4/19 Blog of the black sand removed by Dad from Joseph's ears, Gretchen said I've got to have a look in there. . . Dad caught her photo after looking in his ear. She said: "Oh my gosh, it looks like caviar!" They scheduled an appointment with the audiologist to rinse out his ears. On Monday the doctor spent 45 minutes rinsing. He got lots of sand out, but ended up leaving a half dozen grains in each ear that refused to budge. Dad will still be looking keeping track of the record when the last grain of sand appears.

Yesterday's farewells with the hospital staff was poignant, with hugs all around. They've all become part of the family in the last three months. Katie is about to have her baby, Barb is recovering from an auto accident, our prayers are with them all.

The Home:
The home is coming! The plastering was fininshed on Saturday and sanded on Monday. The garage floor got painted over the weekend and looks great. The tile people came and got started putting in the tile in Joseph's shower/toilet yesterday. This morning the people from Hallmark Cabinets came to install the new custom built section of kitchen cabinets for Joseph. Doug Miles is here installing the air conditioning unit and last but not least Dustin Bowers (one of our EBM missionaries) is coming to install new counter top on the old but repainted kitchen cabinets and on the new cabinets as well. There is a lot of activity for Joseph's first day home!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Reconnoitering for Re-entry - 4/22/06

The Return:
For the first time since January 4th of this year, Joseph Taggart returned to his home. It was exciting, interesting and gratifying for all concerned. He arrived at home about 11AM on Friday the 21st. Kasey, Misti, and Kris from LDS Hospital were his accompianists on the tour. He returns for good next Tuesday, the 25th of April.
The neighbors were out to meet him bearing treats and all enjoyed a picnic lunch in the living room. (Things are a bit make-shift still, as you can imagine). It was Kris's 29th birthday (again) so we had a cake to celebrate. Joseph got to see his room for the first time. The drywall was up, but not yet taped and mudded (that happened later in the day). He really enjoyed seeing it in person, not just in plans and photos. He loved the light in the room coming in through the windows and is looking forward to moving in when it is finished.
He took a trip around the back yard, enjoying the beautiful day. It was a perfect Spring day and we all got a bit of sun. It was tough for him to drag himself away to go back to the hospital. We are scrambling to get things ready for him by Tuesday (more about that later).

On Friday we went in person and picked up the reimbursement checks for the hospital expenses in Guatemala. They were able to recut new checks after the others were lost for over 30 days ???!!! We were happy to pay off the $35k on the credit cards finally. The brand new (wrecked) van finally left Miami bound for Utah on Thursday. . . YEAH! Dad is now an expert on how to get a vehicle shipped (or not) coast-to-coast. It is on it's way to Logan where Kim Fredrick at Autocare Collision Repair is going to fix it up. Man, are we grateful! We haven't quite figured out what we will do in the interim. . .
Mom and Dad have been having lessons (along with Joseph's friend Matt, already an expert) on how to transfer him from bed to wheelchair and back again. We have applied to the insurance for a motorized lift that will assist in the transfer. Today we tried it out. With it, Mom can move him by herself, without it -- no chance even with help. Here is a link to the portable lift we are attempting to get;
We are making progress on the house, but not as fast as we would like. Cisco Soto and his men got the wall board up and Jay Jackson's team taped, mudded and textured. On Monday they will sand and the tile installers will begin to finish the shower/toilet area (bathroom seems strange when there isn't a bath), it will take several days.
Today our friends Sid Smith, Greg Johnston and Warren Brunson came over, helping Dad clean out the garage to get the floor painted before the wheelchair lift arrives (soon we hope), and before Joseph is here and the temporary ramp Mark Maxfield build Friday has to stay in place. Terry McCleery started on the siding. He's taking the old siding off the back of the house and putting it on the side showing from the street. We'll then put new vinyl siding (aluminium is hard to get these days) on the back where the slight mismatch won't show.
We are excited to have Joseph home and his temporary bedroom in the family room will work out fine (we hope). It will be another new adventure in this year of new adventures for the Taggart family.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Presenting: Joseph Taggart UNPLUGGED! -- 4/19/06

He worked for it, prepared for it, insisted on it, then demanded it -- and the doctors finally agreed. Joseph's trach is out! He has been going without any additional oxygen or ventillator for a couple of weeks and knew the only way to get over the crud getting stuck in his throat was to get rid of the obstacle that it was sticking on. Today he is a happy camper. It is easier to breathe and easier to cough up anything that he needs out of his lungs. He is one step closer to coming home. Friday he makes an excursion to Taylorsville, along with the hospital staff, to evaluate the home. Then next week, perhaps they will release him. We are about two weeks out from having things ready, so we'll have to see how things work out.
We had a great Easter afternoon together. Gloria spoke in sacrament meeting in the morning then we took lunch up to the Hospital for Joseph and the staff. It was a great visit. More special because of the promise of the day, we all look forward to the resurrection for the results of the promised eternal "makeover".
Dad went on an service expedition to celebrate the 100 days since the accident. He agreed to once again clean out Joseph's ears. . . sure enough the black basalt sand of Guatemala's Monterrico beach was still coming out. It is a matter of setting a record each time Dad digs in there. We wonder if, in another 100 days, we are still finding the black treasure (Looks like a necklace in the close up, huh?).

Since Monday they have finished taking out the old electrical panel and framing Joseph's closet. They have finished moving the gas fireplace vent that was too close to Joseph's new back door. Today they finished insulating the room and delivered the sheet rock ready to be hung tomorrow. The Taylorsville City inspector came immediately after the work was completed to inspect and approve the work. The City has been incredibly cooperative and professional. What a blessing to live in a community that believes in both serving the public and holding to the highest standards.
We neglected to mention last week the installation of a new humidifier donated to the family. It will have a significant impact on Joseph's health, and the health of the rest of us as well.
The ward Boy Scouts were over this evening filling up the trench for the electrical service and cleaning up the constuction site. Tomorrow Monarch Construction's crew will come to hang the wallboard. Cody Skeem, a friend of the family and member of our stake is coming to the rescue tomorrow and installing the shower valves that have to be done before the sheetrock can be finished. People are wonderful. We have had a meeting this week with Betsy Baker, a state government program representative who called us about the offered programs and services -- great blessings to Joseph and the family-- all because she read the articles in the local Taylorsville paper. WOW! We are blown away with the blessings poured out through the hands of people of good will.
Joseph Smith said: "Let us pour forth love. . . Cast our bread upon the waters and we shall receive it after many days, increased to a hundred fold." (HC 5:517). In our family's case, the math seems even more amazing. Thank you all so much for your prayers and your efforts in our behalf. We often think of the prayers of the little children who are praying for Joseph -- some even without knowing him well. God will answer, and is answering, their simple prayers of faith.
Also see:

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Hope -- 4/15/06

And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?

And what is it that ye shall a hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope. (Moroni 7:40-42)

This Easter season has special significance as the Taggart family looks forward to the absolute promise of the ressurection because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We pray for His blessings to be with you all. The above scripture goes on to discuss the relationship of Charity, "the pure love of Christ" to faith and hope. We know your feelings of love for our family is a manifestation of that pure love, not because we deserve it, but because God gives you the capacity. We are humbled and uplifted to be the recipients of such love, both from God and our friends.

Joseph is doing well, he continues to make progress as he pushes himself ever harder. One of the highlights of the week was having his sister Elizabeth bring Cheyenne and Ethan, his niece and nephew. One of the things he misses most is getting down on hands and knees to play with them. However, he does manage to keep them giggling and having fun, as they ride on his lap and are chased by his wheelchair.

Among so many, another highlight this week was the visit of the Kearon family from Bristol England. Patrick was called as the Bristol Stake President while we were in the missionfield. He is currently serving as an Area Authority Seventy, and has been over here for General Conference. He and his family are wonderful friends and great examples to us all.

Preparations continue at home:

We continue to scramble to get ready for our returning hero. The room is getting closer. . . They came and sprayed foam insulation all over the room, sealing up any leaks etc. Joseph's room will be the best insulated and quietest room in the house. Pacific Corp came out and hooked up a new power cable to the house and installed a new power meter, they were great to respond quickly as soon as the inspection was completed. Comcast got the cable installed to Joseph's room and Kerry Jewkes, our neighbor and friend, finished repairing and hooking up the phone lines. Jeremy V. (EBM)got the plumbing things fixed up and Doug Miles (HVAC) is moving the gas fireplace vent away from the outside door to Joseph's room on Monday and we will be ready to move forward with batt insulation and drywall next week.

We finally have the Van being picked up in Miami next week on Wed/Thurs and on it's way here. The wheelchair lift is due to be shipped from back East in a couple of weeks (problems at the factory). The insurance check to cover the $25,000 medical expenses from Guatemala was lost in the mail (They can issue new checks after 30 days -- on Monday). Joseph could be released in a week. . . and in the midst of it all we are at peace and know things will work out just fine. We know if we do our best, the Lord will provide. . . and life is an adventure, not just a spectator sport. We love life, the Lord and you. Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Inspections Yield Success --4/12/06

The Patient:
They are releasing Joseph in a few days. Yeah. . . and Opps! We're excited to have him come home. . . and nervous about the home to have him come to. More about that later. The news is: yesterday, upon inspection during therapy, the Triceps of Joseph's left arm showed signs of awakening. Very small signs, Joseph cautions us against jumping the gun, but signs nevertheless. All the staff at the hospital are professional but they are still friends and pray along with the rest of us for the miracles. Joseph is the recipient of the blessings. Saturday and Sunday were great days for visitors. Joseph was uplifted, as were we, with the families who stopped by. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy stopped by Sunday afternoon for a wonderful visit. He was the Area President in Brazil during Joseph's mission in Campinas. Joseph's friends are also always there for him-- physically, emotionally and spiritually. What a blessing to have so many who care so much.
Physically Joseph has managed on his own with resiratory, continuing with the trach buttoned night and day. He continually struggles with intermittant infections etc. which may not improve a lot until he is out of the hospital. He also continues with his inpirational positive attitude.

The Not So Patient -- but Wired!:
Saturday we got the roof sealed in. They haven't finished yet but it won't leak now. Joseph's room continues to make progress. Monday was a buzz of activity as the electrician's were here pulling their wiring and the good guys from AV Engineering were here volunteering an hour wiring Joseph's AV system. The Comcast Cable guy came a little later to wire in the TV connection. A great friend of the family was here wiring the telephone as well. On Tuesday the Utah Power and Light estimator came out to review the work needed to pull a new service. The inspection for framing, electrical, plumbing and HVAC is this morning. Then we can insulate and do the drywall. The big hangup may be having UP&L move the electric meter. The company building the wheelchair lift is behind shedule, they were supposed to have it installed a week ago but they have given a shipping date of April 28th (Joseph will already be home. I guess we will improvise). We are perfectly assured all will be well, even if it isn't how it would be most convenient. Blessings continue to pour down and we will take what we are given and be most grateful.

1) Joseph in a standing frame (you have to put weight on your legs or they lose bone density) with Misti and Gretchen. Misti broke her arm after this photo was taken. She emailed it while recovering. Get well soon, Misti)
2) Triceps
3) Elder Neil L. Andersen
4) The roofers seal down the waterproof underlayment.
5) Steve Francis and sons pull electrical wires, they are fast, effective and fun.
6) The AV Engineering guys pull speaker, video and data lines for Joseph.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Friendships, Ceiling Drips, Collar Skipped, and Info Trip -- 4/8/06

"Friendship is like Brother Turley in his blacksmith shop welding iron to iron; it unites the human family with its happy influence. (Joseph Smith, HC 5:517.)

The hearts of the Taggart family are filled with the happy influence of true friends-- some true friends from youth, others recent, but nevertheless welded to our hearts. One of our great friends has arranged for the van to be repaired in Cache Valley as soon as it gets shipped, (soon, we're told). Others sold Joseph's Chevrolet Malibu this week for him (he won't be needing it). Still others are guiding the whole construction effort on the home. Our gratitude grows daily.

This week has been a wet one. The recent downpour poured down through the plywood and plastic over Joseph's new room in abundance, but not with permanent damage. We get the roof on today. YEAH!

Tyler Housley (friend, neighbor, home teacher, bishopric member) did the tile work on our upstairs bathroom, repairing where the window had to be changed.
Jeremy Veenendahl (one of our great EBM Missionaries) came to the rescue this week and did the plumbing work for Joseph's room. (Scott Coleman (EBM) did the plumbing rough-in and his wife Cami's (EBM) father provided the supplies. It's wonderful to have so many talented friends willing to help. The doors and windows are in and we're ready for the electricians, inspections, insulation and drywall intallations next week. With continued blessings we ought to have a room ready when Joseph is released from the hospital in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday the 5th was the three month aniversary of the accident in Guatemala. To celebrate, Joseph escaped the bondage of his cervical collar! He is overjoyed. This week they replaced his trach tube with one without a cuff (see illustration on Thursday March 16th Update), making it easier to breath and bringing him closer to the time they can take it out altogether. He sleeps each night without the respirator and spends all day with the trach button on, breathing completely on his own without additional oxygen. Late breaking news: We just spoke with Joseph who told us that he spent his first night buttoned! No additional oxygen or humidity support just on his own. This is a first and a major step forward! (Hummm, we could have added "goals outstripped" in the title--alas, too much aliteration creates nausea).

On Friday Joseph went on an excursion to UCAT, The Utah Center for Assistive Technology. Dad and Bryant Smith joined Casey and Kris from Rehab accompanying Joseph on the info trip. It was very interesting and educational. We learned about devices that can help Joseph use the computer and control enviromental devices such as lights, phone etc. He tried out voice recognition software that is quite effective. It was also inspirational to be guided and taught by Brian Carroll, the Rehabilitation Technology Specialist, an intelligent and very competant quadraplegic who uses two sip-and-puff controls to manage his wheel chair and other devices and his chin on a adapted mouse to very quickly and efficiently use his computer. Joseph was gratified to know there are experts ready and willing to help, who truly understand the issues he is facing.

1) Ceiling drips in Joseph's new bedroom from the recent downpour of snow and rain.
2) Tyler Housley works on our bathroom tile (note the new smaller window allowing room for the new roof on the addition) while Joseph's nephew Ethan helps (?).
3) Jeremy Veenendahl (EBM) works on the plumbing as the storm approaches from the West.
4) Casey and Joseph approach the State Rehabilitation Service Center building where UCAT is located.
5) Scott Baggaley, Education Program Specialist for UCAT, shows Joseph a computer mouse he could operate.
6) Joseph operates an infrared mouse that follows the reflective dot on his forehead. It worked superbly well.
7) Bryan Carroll, Rehabilitation Technology Specialist for UCAT setting Joseph up to use speech recognition software.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

"The Morning Breaks, The Shadows Flee"

The above words, written by Joseph's 3rd great grandfather P. P. Pratt, are the beginning of each week's Tabernacle Choir broadcast and seem appropriate for the current season of our lives. The LDS General Conference (,20007,6592-1,00.html) was wonderful and inspiring. Dad couldn't help but think of the millions impacted by the service of the Audiovisual Department who labored all weekend to make the conference available to the Church.
Our family is surrounded by people of great faith who love us and are interested in our welfare. We enjoyed a great England Bristol Mission reunion friday night (after Dad snuck over to the Australia South Mission reunion for an hour) and rejoiced with many of those who still serve as Joseph's big brothers and sisters. His thoughts were of his mission companions and friends from the Brazil Campinas Mission as well. As you click on the world map counter on the bottom of this blog, you see that Joseph's life is intertwined with so many of you who are praying and excercising faith. It is no wonder that our family is filled with feelings of peace, hope, and joy. When Parley wrote "The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee" his life was not one of comfort, ease and lack of trial. . . but the light of the Gospel floods the Earth and the soul, and fills one with the promise of the future.
Mom, Dad, and others gathered with Joseph in a conference with all the key medical, hospital, and insurance staff (about 20 or so) on Friday afternoon to discuss plans to bring him home from the hospital. It was a good meeting, filled with good humor (with Joseph you have no choice) good sense and good planning. we were able to discuss issues and plans critical to his future at home. The doctors have decided no second surgery is necessary (it would only make his x-rays prettier) and the plan is to have him released in the next two or three weeks. He will continue physical and occupational therapy afterwards on an outpatient basis. Mom and Dad continue training in caring for his bodily necessities and basic needs.
Saturday we had a farewell bash for Andrea the Occupational Therapy intern who has completed her internship. After being teased and worked over by Joseph for this past weeks she'll be able to handle anything in the future. Joseph continues to sleep nights off the respirator, and to spend the days with his trach "buttoned". This is very positive. They plan on sending him home with his trach still in if he is not able to get along without it before then. His infections and pnemonia have been beaten back again and he's doing well.

The house is progressing. They put up the ceiling joists on Thursday and got things covered up on Friday. Because the roof has to be so flat (4inches of slope in 18 feet) it has to be very watertight. The roofing that will work has to be installed when it is 60 degrees and getting warmer. (it may be in July!). Meanwhile we have plastic sheeting and faith. The interior stud walls for the shower/toilet are in and we are ready for the plumbing and electrical this coming week. The plan is to have it inspected the end of this week and do wallboard the first of the week following. We hope to have the painting and etc. done next week and move things back into the house (including us). All of this hopefully before Joseph is ready to be released. Our love and gratitude go out to all of you.
1) April 2006 General Conference
2) The England Bristol Mission May 1998 (Preston Temple Openhouse)
3) EBM November 1999 just before Elder Holland came to speak to us.
4) Mom, Dad, and Erin join Joseph for watching Conference.
5) Andrea's farewell (she's the one with the tiara).
6) Joseph's "Trach Button" that blocks the opening to his trach (see last blog)
7) The ceiling joists go up.
8) The temporary bedroom roof covering. . .
9) Inside stud walls for Joseph's shower/toilet.

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