I am thinking of dying my hair red after talking with Christopher’s nurse this week. As you will see shortly, our conversation inspired me. It couldn’t hurt to dye my hair red or blue or green. After all, gray—or shall I say “silver”—hairs have been popping up on my head since my son’s traumatic brain injury early last year. The dyed hair may even help to stimulate Christopher’s brain activity during our visits.
Christopher’s nurse told me that she and a CNA colleague were tending to Christopher in his room last Sunday. While working, the nurse shared with the CNA that she was thinking of dying her hair one of two shades of red. They were debating which of the two shades would look better on her. They decided they would ask Christopher which one he preferred. No doubt, they needed him to break the tie!
Christopher looked at the first red hair dye picture the nurse showed him on her phone. He then looked at her. He immediately blinked twice for “yes.” When she showed him the second option, he looked at the picture on her phone and then back at her. He went back and forth a few times. When she asked Christopher for his view of the second shade of red, he didn’t respond.
The nurse went through the process again. Christopher gave her the exact same response to the first option immediately after looking at the picture and then at his nurse. He did not respond to the second picture on her phone.
So, she did it a third time and said, “So you like the first and not the second?” He blinked twice immediately for “yes.” The CNA jested, “I told you so. The first is better.” They both rejoiced about Christopher’s responsiveness.
I spoke with our family medical consultant yesterday about what Christopher’s nurse shared with us. Dr. Robert Potter responded with the following analysis. It appears that Christopher can make comparative judgments between the two pictures. That is a positive step forward, perhaps one of the more complex indications to date of conscious activity. What is not clear to us is whether he is able to see colors, or different shades of the same color. That activity goes on in the back of the head. We await greater clarity in time regarding color.
In the meantime, I’m dying to see more conscious activity. Dr. Potter said as much when he wrote about this account and other observations: “Each intentional sign is good. Clearly, we look for and expect more to come.”
In the meantime, I’m also thinking of dying my hair red. Anything’s better than the natural shade of “emergent silver” I’m wearing now.
Now if my wife won’t let me dye my hair red, I’ll try and cover it all up by quoting this Bible verse to others and hope it stays put like a wig: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31; NIV)
Kidding aside, I can assure you I do not feel very righteous most days when various challenges and anxieties about the future suddenly pile on me in view of our relentless family ordeal. As pastoral caregiver Tom Schiave has said quite often to me, he’s never witnessed a more complex situation. So many things keep piling on and bringing up the bile in my soul. If I ever do attain righteousness, it will not be because of gaining more gray hair, but because I finally take to heart Jesus’ assuring words of sovereign care for Christopher, you, and me: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7; NIV) I’m dying to see more righteousness grow in me.
I do not know what the future holds for Christopher, you, or me. But I do know the one who holds our future. So, in the meantime, I’ll press on in view of Jesus’ words, regardless of whether I dye my hair red. I’ll pray without ceasing, looking for, and expecting more conscious activity to come for Christopher. I’ll fight for more righteousness to grow like a crown of splendor in my soul.