Matt is gaining SO MUCH independence that the hospital thinks he will come home two weeks earlier than expected--mid January! (Although he will still require 24 hr. supervision.) Now I'm going to have to move on getting all the rails/bars that need to be installed in our house! I see this as a very positive step!
I appreciate all the calls, e-mails, and cards. It strengthens me to know that you are thinking of us!
Today our pastor encouraged to look forward to the new year with hope AND to be thankful for the past year. To be honest, this year was my MOST. STRESSFUL. YEAR. EVER. But, even I can find things to be thankful for.
1. My husband is alive and recovering!
2. I have a great support system of prayer warriors and friends/family that are very helpful.
3. My kids are adjusting to their new reality.
4. The Well in Chiang Mai, Thailand really helped us through a rough patch.
5. Our new community at Shepherd and Greenwood Christian has been amazingly welcoming.
I look forward to a calmer year as we settle in and help Matt find his new normal.
Today we had a family meeting with the social worker and one of the occupational therapists. I think this quote sums up the meeting. We can be thankful that Matt is healthy--it prevents stress on his shoulder joint, means he is on very little medication, and has more energy for his therapy. Matt's speech is very clear. Often stroke patients are very hard to understand.
Today I watched Matt go up and down four steps, walk 140 feet, complete sentences, state an item from a given category, and I was cleared to assist him into bed! Plus he ate chicken pasta, two breadsticks, two pieces of pizza, and fudge. Although he still rolls his eyes, I feel like he has a positive attitude. I'm sure its very humbling to have to be helped in everything. He's doing a great job of bearing with it!
Matt has spent almost a week in rehab now. He has three to four hours of therapy a day. We are very thankful to hear more words every day that we visit. He is continuing to work on walking--only using a cane. He has enough control over the right leg that he can place it where it needs to be to step. They are also working on basic skills like dressing, showering, etc. I have seen a lot of improvement in his ability to stand up (a nurse is still always present) and get himself into bed.
You can pray for: 1. his right arm. We still are not seeing a lot of movement there. 2. patience. He clearly has retained his memories and knowledge, BUT he has difficulty expressing basic needs. It is frustrating for him. 3. weight gain. He has lost 20 pounds. He was already thin anyway. We are bringing anything that sounds good to him to try to fatten him up.
We are thankful that he can interact well with the kids. They have played UNO, colored pictures, and read stories together. He was also very happy to receive a care package from Singapore. The dried mangoes were a big hit as well as all the cards.
Years ago Matt's grandparents bought us this beautiful nativity. It is extremely detailed down to the reins for the camel. The wise men have their glittering treasure and are in reverent, humble poses. The animals look on with calm serenity. It is heirloom quality and one of my favorite Christmas items.
What got me to thinking is that there is only one shepherd and he's a young'un. When I read the Christmas story I picture hoards of shepherds descending on the stable. Our focus oftentimes is on what the wealthy or knowledgeable are doing. That's what I love about the Christmas story--it's for everyone! God came for the poor slaving away in the fields AND the kings that have studied the stars. Hallelujah that Jesus came for us all.
Thanks neighbors, friends, church family, family, coworkers, and school communities. We greatly appreciate your help with children, meals, and finances. When this occured I told myself not to worry, God would take care of us. And He has through all of YOU! We are very appreciative! May God richly bless you for the time spent praying and your financial gifts.
Thanks to wonderful vitals, continued progress with therapists, and the doctors finally signing off, Matt headed to rehab. this afternoon. He is at Community North Rehab. Center room 211. As this is in the brain injury unit, it is on lock down. Visitors are encouraged after 4:30 pm. This will be a very intensive time for him and they expect him to be there for at least three weeks. It's a beautiful new facility. We're excited to see even greater results that come from focused rehab.
Today Matt set some new progress records! He lifted his leg against gravity, walked, stood up on his own, saw some movement in his arm, said the days of the week, months, family names, and most importantly, "I want coffee." He was able to answer some complex questions and read words in isolation. His speech is amazingly clear. He literally had therapists jumping up and down, clapping, and yelling. The therapists in ICU rarely get to see such progress. It makes me laugh to think he is encouraging them.
1. The nurses here are beyond wonderful. They have all the Asian service with the ability to rejoice with you in small successes.
2. We have such a great support network between our family, Shepherd, and Greenwood Christian Academy.
3. Matt was able to watch college wrestling on tv today. (He wrestled in high school and college.) It really held his interest and helped pass the time.
4. I've had no problems getting to the hospital even with all the snow we've been getting.
5. I won a Blu Ray player in Shepherd's Christmas drawing--really a blessing as we didn't have a DVD player.
6. Matt just counted to 12 in a very understandable voice--this encouraged my heart after a slow day!
Matt had his bandages removed this morning. He wanted to see what the 17 staples looked like, so I snapped a picture so that he could take a look. (He gave me permission to post it here too!) Keep praying that the blood pressure stays low so that they can wean him off the medicines and he can get off bed rest.
Matt has had a good day. They are keeping him very still to keep his blood pressure low. They are also keeping him on the meds. He had another scan which showed no further bleeding and the doctor removed the drain from his head. We played a couple of card games today. One he remembered. The other he had to be reminded of how to play. He hasn't lost his competitive spirit! Should help him in the coming days. Pray for wisdom for me to know when to push and when to relax and let things be.
when I look at all the things that need done (I stress). Sometimes when I wonder what I should do (I stress). Sometimes when I think how I can possibly manage kids, home, work, and a recovering husband (I stress). This quote was good for me. From now on I'm focusing on the here and now. I'll do what God gives me the strength to do! The important part is that I begin.
“The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word “love”, and look on things as if man were the center of them. Man is not the center. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. “Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the divine love may rest “well pleased”.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain I found this quote on Lil Blue Boo, one of my favorite websites. She went through cancer two years ago and really impressed me with her attitude throughout the long, arduous process. What a great reminder if I think about me all the time---I'm totally missing the point! I hope God is well pleased right now with our interactions with all these ICU nurses! Pray that we can be a great testimony.
Up unto this point Matt hasn't said anything. Sometimes you could tell he was trying, but the brain still wasn't making the connection. Today he was trying to communicate what he wanted, when the words "I want..." spilled out. (never did figure out exactly what he wanted!!) He also seems to be having more feeling in his right side--sometimes he didn't even feel when the nurse was touching him.
Why write down all these "little things?" I have a feeling that there will come some mighty discouraging days. It will be good to look back and remember how far we've come. Be encouraged!
I'm sitting here with Matt--it's amazing how alert he is AND he has no pain! He had a scan this morning at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am (mostly I think because the technicians had nothing better to do!). It showed the brain ventricles had gone back to a more "normal" position. This alone shows that some pressure has been relieved. The doctors left a significant portion of the clot in his head as it went deep into the brain. It should break up and be absorbed on it's own.
You can pray that his blood pressure lowers a little bit more--it's running slightly higher than they want. Pray also that he gets rested up--the physical therapists are ready to go!
1. Pray that the clot removes from the brain tissue easily.
2. Pray for the two neurosurgeons Dr. Hall and Sloan.
3. Pray that any bleeding is quickly stopped.
4. Pray that much of the clot can be removed so that pressure is relieved.
5. Pray for rehab. And recovery. It will be a lot of hard work on Matt's part.
6. Pray for good health for the rest of us--we're running low on sleep.
7. Pray for the return of speech in good time. He made his first sound today!!
Our physical therapist is a little feisty Filipino guy. He got Matt up early today, gave him strategies
for walking, and set him loose in the hall way. So three days after therapy started, Matt took four or five baby steps. He also rolled himself around in the wheelchair. Jerome is planning to be back tomorrow morning (before surgery) to get him up and moving!
Life is full of the UNEXPECTED. Sometimes it turns out to be pleasant. Today we stumbled upon the free Christmas lunch in the cafeteria (complete with harp players and peanut butter chocolate pie). This afternoon a stupendous nurse UNEXPECTEDLY brought up a recovered stroke patient to encourage me.
Other times the UNEXPECTED involves crushing choices--like giving up the career you saw yourself in forever. Sometimes the UNEXPECTED is jolting-it knocks your socks off.
In my recent experience I have found the key with the UNEXPECTED is my own attitude. Am I seeing the POSITIVE? (there is always POSITIVE!!) Do I REJOICE in the small things? Am I CELEBRATING what I have?
When I first saw my husband after his stroke, he couldn't hold his head up, couldn't speak, and had very little life in his eyes--a mind numbing experience. The UNEXPECTED has taught me that my plans aren't always God's--He's moving me in a different direction for the next few months. I'm going along with God, choosing to be JOYFUL in the process, and looking for what He's trying to teach me.
Today in physical and occupational therapy Matt made exciting progress. He stood and sat with very little assistance. There was also some movement in his right arm. He is trying hard. Pray with us for speech--we've found his 80's rock :) Music is supposed to develop the pathways in the brain.
This morning Matt saw the physical, speech, and occupational therapist. His reading and comprehension skills are very good. He was also able to move his right leg quite a lot--an amazing thing. His right arm has no movement and he still is not talking. The doctors also still haven't agreed on a surgery date. We will update when we know more. He's doing really well and still has the sarcastic smirk--I'm pretty sure I've seen an eye roll :) Oh, he had to cups of thickened coffee this morning! Yum!!
During his last neurological assessment Matt could purposely make small movements with his right hand and foot. He pointed out pictures from a group of photos. He is also able to swallow ice chips (because his entire right side is affected--it also makes his muscles in his throat have difficulty.) Pray that he is encouraged.
Pray also that his determination holds as he will most likely have to repeat this process after his brain surgery.
We appreciate your prayers. Matt brushed his teeth with his left hand and can put a water swab in his mouth. It appears from a different, very specific type of scan that the bleeding has stopped. His vitals have remained at PERFECT levels. Ana brought him some cards from church and he took them from her. It's very clear that although he can't speak, he's hearing and doing his best to respond. We have faith that as the swelling goes down (and with physical therapy) that speech and movement on his right side will return.
We appreciate your prayers, texts, and e-mails! It's great to have people all over the world praying. You are a big encouragement to us!
Matt is currently in the ICU in Indianapolis. He has some genetically malformed blood vessels in his brain. At this time they are hoping to NOT do surgery until the bleeding has stabilized. He will need brain surgery in the near future. Currently his blood pressure, heart rate, and blood level are GREAT. He has lost the ability to speak and some of the use of his right side.
This is so shocking to us. Please pray with us that his vitals stay normal and that the clot starts to break down on its own. Please pray for China--this was very distressing for him and Ana was also very upset. They are not allowed to come see him in the ICU.
He has another CAT scan at midnight tonight. I will update the blog to let you know what we find out.
We really needed to find a way to minimize dirt tracked in AND a place for STUFF. Matt cut out all the pieces and put them together. I painted, sanded and poly'ed. Turned out well--has definitely cut down on the dirt--and is our first step in revitalizing our basement.
I wanted a narrow shelf for our landing to hold our "Big Kid" books. I'm thinking one day project like the shelf pictured above. (We had some nice boards that were already painted.) Matt got to work--total project took about a week as I had to stain, sand, polyurethane in my two hours off a day.
Fits perfectly in the hallway, matches the woodwork, and even is cut out for our gigantic baseboards. (We eventually will pull up this lovely carpet!!) SOMETIMES husbands have good ideas AND he did it all with old boards out of the garage!
On the day before Thanksgiving Ana, Mitike, and I drove up to Notre Dame (South Bend, IN) to pick up Liam Chan. Of course, the only place it was snowing in the entire state was where we were going. It was actually pretty heavy (lake effect) snows. In the end it resulted in about 8 inches of snow. The roads were fairly slick and in some places you couldn't see the lines on the roads--so it was your best guess. First time driving in snow for 12 years--no problems! Just glad we got back safely!
On Sunday we tied a favorite verse to a balloon and released them after the service.
Shepherd puts together Thanksgiving meals (using donations from other churches). Volunteers come and deliver the meals all over the East side. The Shepherd staff (including yours truly) stood outside directing volunteers and loading totes for a couple of hours! A chilly day, but think of all those families that will have a great Thanksgiving day!
In the evening we met with a large group of Christian neighbors and then attended a hand bell concert in a nearby church. That was one busy day for us!
In comparison to a light bulb a candle puts out much less light. I guess it depends how dark your surroundings are. Without any power on our whole block, a candle was pretty bright! Perhaps this is why we are supposed to be in hard places--our light shines brighter where it is darkest!
Today, two electricians upgraded our circuit box. Later this week and next week they'll be redoing all the hundred year old wiring. Things went pretty smoothly except for Mei Mei sneaking down in the basement and stealing screws and other necessary parts--she'll eat ANYTHING!!
I like old things, but when it comes to electricity out with the old and in with the new!