On September 20th, 2013, Dustin Dickamore and his family (along with some close friends) took a weekend trip up to the family cabin in Bear Lake, ID. At 11pm, shortly after arriving, Dustin was in an ATV accident. Even though the accident shattered most of the bones in his face and caused him to immediately lose his eyesight, Dustin walked himself onto the ambulance for his ride to the local emergency room. It was the worst head injury that the doctors in the ER had ever seen. They didn't think he would survive. Dustin never lost consciousness.
Immediately after the accident, as they waited for help to arrive, the Dickamores turned to our Father in Heaven in prayer for help. According to Ashley, as they prayed, the words of Dustin's patriarchal blessing instantly came to her mind.
"As you stay close to our Father in Heaven, He will stay close to you and He will give you the strength and the ability and the courage to overcome any temptation or hardship or trial that you may face. You will be given priesthood blessings to overcome any illnesses you may encounter or injuries you may sustain. You will be blessed and restored to full health and strength."
Dustin and Ashley, along with their entire family, enlisted an army of prayers and fasting with countless friends and family and temples. Through many encouraging priesthood blessings and discouraging words from doctors and nurses, they clung to their faith and pleaded with Heavenly Father to heal him.
On the fourth night after the accident, though he was told not to lean forward at all to prevent putting pressure on his optic nerves, Dustin knelt on his bed and begged God to help him. He didn't feel like he could go on this way. He felt swallowed up in despair and darkness. He knew that our Heavenly Father was the only one who could help him.
After 4.5 days of total blindness, an eye doctor came in to Dustin's hospital room and told him that the MRI showed that his optic nerve was detached in his "good eye." He told Dustin that the right eye was deflated and appeared to be blown out the back. With the MRI, and the fact that he was on day 4 of zero light perception, the doctor said "by all accounts, Dustin, you're blind."
Immediately after saying this, the doctor proceeded to do his eye exam, admitting that it was more of a formality than anything else. Dustin was not to expect to see again. As he did this final exam, through a true miracle from our Heavenly Father, Dustin's vision returned to the eye with the damaged optic nerve. He was able to see his wife, his beautiful 5 month old daughter and his 2 year-old son.
Dustin now says that "Heavenly Father knows just how much you can handle and just how much you need to be able to go on." This little bit of vision that Dustin recovered will no doubt help him deal with the long road ahead and get to that day of "full health and strength."
The miracles did not stop there.
During a surgery on his right eye, the more badly damaged eye, the doctors found that the eye was round - not blown out the back as expected. The blood was suctioned out of the eye and the retina was replaced and actually, still partially attached. This was not what the doctors had expected to find. They warned Dustin and Ashley that, most likely, there would be nothing they could do. They discussed the possibility of needing to remove the eye. With unwavering faith, the Dickamores told them to try anyway.
Everything is now in the right place in Dustin's right eye to be able to see, but with zero light perception out of that eye for seven weeks now, the optic nerve is unmistakably damaged. Damage to the optic nerve is irreparable, because it is brain tissue. They have been told that there is no hope for the right eye. In fact, the doctors have said the words, "We have done all that we can do and are bordering on miracles for the vision to return to the right eye at this point."
The vision in his left eye is very dim and only a small box he can see through. Dustin and Ashley, however, say that they KNOW what they know and they know that he will return to full health and strength. They also know that our Heavenly Father has a timeline that has Dustin's best interests at heart. They trust in Him and His plan for them. They have seen His hand in their affairs every single day since the accident and this helps them to not be afraid.
On October 30th, at 8:30 am, Dustin went into surgery to reconstruct his face. A planned 12 hour surgery turned into a 17 hour and 40 minute surgery. We are grateful for Dustin's extremely skilled and educated surgeon, Dr. Gociman, who took his time to take the bones in Dustin's face, re-break them (they had healed and grown together after 6 weeks), and use all sorts of titanium plates to put Dustin's face back together. We are thankful that his hands were guided by our Father in Heaven and that he was able to accomplish this great task. This surgery posed a risk to the vision he currently has, but Dustin was promised that his eyes would be protected. He currently still has the same vision he went into surgery with.
Recovery from this surgery has not been easy. His pain level has only once been below a 5 (after the initial accident, he never rated his pain higher than a 4), so severe for a few days that all he could do was shake and squeeze our hands and eventually slipped into what they call ICU delirium. His swelling has caused his eyes to be swollen shut. He has a trachea tube in his throat and a feeding tube in his belly, because his jaw is wired shut. Unable to talk and see at the moment has been a source of anxiety and fear and frustration. Yet despite it all, Dustin has remained faithful and strong.
Just a week out of surgery, he wrote,
"Through all of the first half of this, so up until this surgery, I have felt really nervous and felt like I've needed to plead with The Lord to help with everything, but through all of the second part, even though it was scarier at times, I've known that The Lord will provide a way for us. I haven't felt the "urgency" to call to Him as much, I've just known. Because "we" - you, me, The Lord, our family, our friends, got this."
We don't know how many more surgeries Dustin will have to go through, but we do know one thing - Our Heavenly Father loves us, is aware of us and our situation, and will provide a way for Dustin to return to full health and strength. We are so very grateful for the many miracles He has given us already. There have been far too many to number, big and small.
We are indebted to all of our friends and family (friends we have yet to meet as well) who have offered prayers for us, fasted for us, sent us messages of concern and encouragement, brought food, gifts, and have come to visit. You have been a large part of our strength and we would like to thank each of you from the bottom of our hearts.