This site is dedicated to Tori and everyone who loves her. It should allow all of us to share our feelings for her and our stories about her. We will also enter all updates on Tori's condition and progress to this site. Please feel free to direct others to this site for information on Tori. We thank all of you greatly for your love, prayers, thoughts and support. -- The Schmanski Family

Father's Day June 21, 2009

Today marks the four year anniversary of Tori's anoxic brain injury caused by a near drowning on Father's Day 2005. Four long and tumultuous years with so many highs and lows and many more to come I am sure. We continue to care and help Tori as best we possibly can and involve her in our family life as much as possible as well. Even though she still cannot walk, talk or communicate with us in any consistent fashion we KNOW she loves and appreciates us and we can see that everyday in her ever beautiful eyes. She has remained exceptionally healthy throughout the past couple of years but we are facing some pending surgeries and new challenges at this time...

Our newest challenge is the Swine Flu that has been sweeping the world and presently Utah has the highest death rate per capita of any state. Two more people each with existing medical conditions died last week... Several people at my office have been confirmed with Swine Flu and I have been working from home now for a week and will continue to do so as I watch who else will be affected. I am still doing fine but have a slight tickle in my throat presently. The Dance Club apparently also has several girls with the Swine Flu and Whitney currently has a sore throat but no fever and she will not be dancing there for a while either. Last week we also had to take Tori to the PCMC for three different appointments and it seems that everyone in that place is there for the Swine Flu as well... Needless to say we are very, very scared and concerned with this and it's getting harder to keep Tori completely isolated as we would like.

Tuesday February 17th, 2008 through Sunday June 7th, 2009

Hello all,

Tori has been doing quite well since my last update several months ago. Outside of a trip to the PCMC late last week she has been very steady. We ended up having to take her because she was highly agitated and in much more pain than normal for a couple of days straight. We thought she may have a bowel blockage but we took various x-rays and ran numerous tests on her during our 5 hour stay in the emergency room and she checked out fine on everything. She starting feeling much better the very next day so maybe being in the hospital that long once again just helped her “get over it” :)

Tori’s therapies have continued though now that summer is here we will cut back on at least one of her ST sessions each week. Her PT sessions will also be cut down to one per week so we can reserve what her insurance covers and have at least one PT session per week throughout the year. With school out the house is also much more active having Whitney and Brendan home during the entire day. Grandpa and Grandma Schmanski have also been at the house for several months and are helping out immensely. Thank you so much and we love you guys!! :)

We have met with Tori’s doctors about the Ventral and Dorsal Rhizotomies and Tori is scheduled for surgery on June 29th. She will also be evaluated for her spinal fusion surgery on July 2nd and the surgery schedule for that will be determined afterward. It will be a busy summer for her and our family with 3-4 weeks of hospital recovery time for the combined surgeries. Our goal with them is to make her as comfortable and free from pain as we possibly can.

Other than all that there really isn’t much else to report on. We would like to send a BIG THANK YOU to Bonnie Miller for sending some of Lauren’s clothing and medical supplies for Tori to use. The clothes fit her wonderfully and will be well used by Tori!!

Thank you for checking in on Tori and our family and we appreciate all of the love and support provided.

Tuesday December 16th, 2008 through Monday, February 16th, 2009

Hello again,

Back to the premise that no news means all is steady. Ok, that is bad excuse for not having more frequent updates I know... I will try harder on this front. Our family and Tori had a nice holiday season and spent Christmas Eve with the entire family in our home. I had two weeks off for the most part and was able to unwind with the rest of our family and prepare for the upcoming year which will involve additional surgeries and procedures for Tori. We have opted to stall on any of them due to RSV season... The winter months are just not optimal for anyone to be be in a hospital for a extended period of time and especially for those in Tori's condition where infections of any sort can potentially be life threatening. So we will attempt to schedule any and all procedures for around mid-year.

We are contemplating spinal fusion surgery for Tori along with Combined Ventral and Dorsal Rhizotomies which must be done before the spinal fusion surgery so we need to schedule an appointment with the medical experts at PCMC before deciding. It is a relatively new procedure with limited clinical results but in personally reading those they do sound promising and would help with Tori's extreme dystonia. Several of the case study patients were able to have their baclofen pumps eventually removed after this surgery. The combination of both surgeries might mean up to a month of hospital time if both go as planned... We aren't very excited about that aspect. Tori is also scheduled for her next round of botox and phenol injections this week.

Monday, October 6th through Monday, December 15th

Hello all,

I am well overdue for an update once again... My apologies but please keep with the premise that no news typically means all is well. Tori's health and demeanor has been steady for the past two months. She became ill once during that time and required oxygen for a week but that is about it. She is still getting therapies and visits from her teachers at the high school numerous times per week. When she is aware and willing to participate she typically can get 80-100% of her answers correct through eye gazes. Everyone who works with her agrees that Tori certainly does have cognitive ability and getting that consistent communication method is still the challenge.

We have yet to make a decision on the spinal fusion surgery for Tori... The risk involved makes us very wary and we will need to meet with the physicians again in January before deciding. Another medical option for her spasticity and muscle tone was also brought to our attention and it would need to be done prior to the spinal fusion procedure so this enters into the equation as well.

The holiday's are upon us once again and this inevitably means more difficult times for the rest of us unfortunately... This year is no exception. We all miss Tori so much yet she is right here with us... It also seems we can never get ahead on all of the various and many issues we deal with on a day to day basis. It is all so tiring, challenging and overwhelming at times and once one issue is solved there are ten more following it... Sorry to vent a little but this is our reality.

We did have a nice Thanksgiving break though with my brother Todd and his family visiting as well as my other brother TJ and his family staying over the weekend. Grandpa and Grandma Schmanski were also here but have since left the winter weather here for warmer weather in Nevada. They will return again around Christmas time.

Monday, August 11th through Sunday, October 5th

Hello again,

It has a been a while since my last update but as far as Tori's condition and daily routine goes it has been status quo. We were finally able to get Tori's next round of botox and phenol injections and her demeanor and comfort immediately improved as it usually does. We have her now scheduled for the next round of injections at the 3 month mark from this set she received.

Tori also had another appointment a Shriner's Hospital in SLC where we had her scoliosis or spinal curvature measured once more. Unfortunately it continues to worsen and it is now bent at a 74 degree angle.... So we now have a decision to make in regards to spinal fusion and the surgery it requires. Our dilemma is if we wait to long her scoliosis is most likely to worsen so the spinal fusion would have less of an impact and be more difficult. Tori is also becoming more uncomfortable and is often in pain when sitting with her head up in her bed or wheelchair. It seems her most comfortable position now is lying almost completely flat on her back. Our major concern is in regards to the 6 to 8 hours of surgery itself plus the two weeks of recovery time in the hospital. Tori would be at risk for an infection as the scar on her back will go from her neck to the base of her spine. The surgeons will also have to work around the baclofen pump catheter which is already placed in her spine. Tori hasn't been to a hospital for extended stay for quite some time and we all know how badly Tori hates being in one as well.... Maria and I also don't especially look forward to it either. But we will need to make a decision within a month or so. If anyone out there has knowledge or experience with spinal fusion please let me know by sending information to or posting it on this site.

Saying goodbye to a friend

It certainly has been a sad and somber week for our family and yesterday we attended the funeral of our dearly loved friend Erick Caver in South Jordan. He was a very genuine, kind and caring person who always thought of others before himself. He applied his generous nature to so many of us and his Charity Golf Tournamentattributed greatly to Tori's trip to China for Stem Cell Treatments. Our thoughts and prayers are now with him and his beautiful family. He was deeply loved and will be missed by all of us. Rest in peace my friend and until we meet again.

Happy 18th Birthday Tori!!! Thursday July 31st through Sunday August 10th

Happy 18th Birthday Tori!!!

Tori had her 18th birthday on Saturday and she had many visitors to the house over the weekend in addition to well wishing phone calls, cards and emails. Thank you all so much for remembering and caring!!

Tori received some nice gifts but more important was the well deserved and wonderful attention from her friends and family. Tori is certainly aware of everyone around her and when her friends are present she always tries to vocalize much more than normal. The highlight of the weekend was seeing Tori smile once more as she had her great friends McKenzie and Angel conversing with her. It has been a while since we have seen one and we can still count all of them we have witnessed on one hand... That is why her smiles mean so much to us and the only time Tori delivers a smile is when her friends are surrounding her. There is ZERO doubt in our minds that she is fully cognizant of those around her and her behaviors and actions in certain situations clearly demonstrate this.

Tori is now in dire need of her botox and phenol injections and thankfully she will be getting them this Thursday. Her upper extremities are very, very tight and uncontrollable at this point and Tori is definitely in more pain because of it all... We have to schedule Tori for anesthesia for the procedure which is what caused the delay since it was the first available opening they had at PCMC. She will end up being around 3 weeks over the 3 month milestone where she can get more injections. As stated before, it is crucial to wait at least 3 months between injections otherwise Tori's body will adapt to the botox and it will no longer be effective. We certainly don't want that so we will deal with a few extra weeks overdue.

Friday, June 20th through Wednesday, July 30th

Good evening,

I'm well past due for another update so here we go!!

First off on the stem cell research front there have been a slew of new and promising discoveries and here are just a few that caught my interest:

Adult Stem Cells Activated In Mammalian Brain

Spinal Cord Stem Cells Could Be Basis Of Nonsurgical Treatment For Spinal-cord Injuries

Adult Stem Cells Reprogrammed In Their Natural Environment

Understanding How Neurons Communicate May Help Treat Brain Disorders

I am still very convinced the use of stem cells will eventually revolutionize the practice of medicine as we know it today. It's only a matter of time.

Tori's summer as well as ours seems to be going by very quickly but all of us have been enjoying it. Tori is spending as much time as possible outside on our deck primarily in the afternoon when there is shade. She has a great view of the mountains and of all the other activities going on in the backyard.

Tori's PT and ST sessions with Cari, Meredyth and now Christi continue each and every week. Tori has remained healthy with basically no illnesses now for many months. Her height is now estimated at 5'9" or 5'10" and her weight has been steady around 125lbs. She is certainly much harder to move around now so we are investigating means to help with that issue. Presently her muscle tone is quite high as her quarterly botox and phenol injections are two weeks away. So she is a bit uncomfortable at times and frequently gets her hand and arm in and around her mouth and over her head as well when she is agitated. We will just have deal with this phase for another two weeks until the injections are completed.

Wednesday, May 28th through Thursday, June 19th

Hello again,

Today marks three years since Tori's injury and it seemed to have much less prominence in our thoughts as the previous two anniversaries. Having it not fall on Father's Day also helps keep that day celebratory as it certainly should be and it surely was this year.

Tori has been through a lot over the past three years and has certainly made progress in her recovery. It has been painfully slow and we have encountered numerous challenges but we continue to try and move her forward as best we can. Keeping her as healthy and comfortable as possible remain as top priorities as well and we have been blessed this past year as Tori has not had a serious illness. Again, we remain committed to caring and helping Tori in every way we can and we will never stop trying.

I described trying times for Maria and I in my last update primarily due to the fact that Tori should have and would have been thoroughly enthralled with life having her high school graduation, college preparation and basic entry into adulthood in full swing. It would have been truly exciting times for our entire family as well.

Saturday, April 19th through Tuesday, May 27th

Hello again everyone it's been way too long since my last entry...

Tori is doing well and there are no issues with her to report. Her daily routine continues with various therapies throughout the week and it is finally getting warm enough to bring her outside again. She is spending more and more time now outdoors on our deck. We will also begin getting her out and about more on shopping trips and excursions to movies and the like. Tori still loves the summer just as she always has!!

The past couple of months have certainly been more challenging and difficult for Maria and I in relation to Tori. Seeing and sharing with all of her friends who are graduating from high school, from their various dance teams and seeing them carefully planning their entries into adulthood makes us realize just how much Tori, and all of us, have lost in this life... The college offers also continue to arrive during the week but I don't have the courage to respond that Tori will not be attending. I just can't. It seems lately the emotional ups and downs are in their vicious cycle often and all we are trying to do is remain as steady and as focused as we possibly can without dwelling too long at either end. All we can do is attempt to manage the loss, pain and sorrow that is always present and always will be.