July 28, 2011

New Progress

We took Garren to Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat today for another opinion on his swallowing and speaking problems. We figure we can't get to many opinions, and the more we ask, the more we learn, and the more help we seem to get.

We met with his doctor, who asked a lot of questions. Then he put a scope through Garren's nose and into his throat so we could see what was going on. We saw everything on a video monitor. Here's what we saw: Garren's right vocal chord is moving the way it is supposed to. Last time we looked at it, the right one had very weak movement. The left chord, however, is still not moving.

This is great news! It's progress! The doctor was very informative, and very helpful. He is going to do a small outpatient procedure on Garren next Wednesday. He's going to inject a "paste" into the left vocal chord to push it out, toward the center. This will temporarily help with swallowing and speaking, as it will help the chords to come together and seal the airway.

The doctor reassured us. He said he's seen cases like this, where one or both of the chords were not moving, or were weak. He's seen them recover fully, though it could take a year or more. Garren's young, and has that going for him as well.

We are thankful to God for more progress, even though is seems to be coming more slowly.

July 26, 2011


I'm back. I was traveling last week, took another team to Haiti - this time we helped run a medical clinic. We had an amazing trip. Each team member was touched in a special way. No one returned the same. We had the privilege of giving people simple medicine that they otherwise would not be able to get. But even more importantly, we had a spiritual impact on many of them as well. Each person saw a doctor or a nurse to get help with their physical needs. And each person was prayed for individually, touching their spiritual needs. We saw several give their lives to Christ for the first time. Always a joy!

Garren is progressing, slowly. We knew the time would come when progress would slow down. The doctors and therapists all warned us. He still progresses, he is still getting stronger, but it is just a slow process. Garren continues to go to therapy 3 times a week. Now that I'm back I can get him into a routine of walking everyday. Thursday we are taking him for a speech and swallow study. We'll see what yet another opinion has to say.

We continue to press on. I recently read a book that talked about the mysterious ways of God. Sometimes we are in a fog, unable to see or understand what is going on around us. Though we can't see the end, much less the steps in front of us, we will continue to press on toward the goal. Praise be to our God and Father who has saved us through His Son Jesus Christ.

July 14, 2011

Great Night

Last night Garren had one of the best nights he's had since he got the trach out. His body needs rest, and last night he got good solid sleep. When we spoke to the pulmonologist earlier this week, he told us to just go ahead and put Garren on oxygen for the entire night. This will give his body an extra boost of oxygen, allowing his body to get some good rest. Last night was the second night doing that.

Garren also started seeing his chiropractor this week. She is working on his neck and spine, focusing on those parts of the spine that effect the nerves that control swallowing and breathing.

And finally, Garren has started speech therapy again, this time at the outpatient rehab facility at CMC-Union. Yesterday he did VitalStim for 55 minutes, and did several execises during that time. The speech therapist fed Garren ice chips, and asked him to try to swallow them. About half the time he successfully swallowed the ice! She was very excited about what she saw. She wants to work with him for about a week or two, and then repeat the swallow test.

All of these components, working together, seem to have had a positive effect on Garren. It's nice to see improvement.

As you pray for Garren, here are a couple of things you can pray for specifically. Pray that he will continue to have great nights like last night, so that his body can rest and continue to heal.

In about a month we are planning to travel to Colorado for a wedding. Right now we have night nursing, but it would be ideal if we didn't have to worry about having a nurse when we travel. Pray that we will no longer need nursing when it comes time to travel.

July 08, 2011

Outpatient Therapy

Yesterday Garren had his first experience with outpatient therapy. Of course, the only real difference is that we drive him to his therapy now, instead of having them come to our home. It's another step toward recovery.

He met two great therapists. They are so great to work with, and they are so eager to continue with Garren's rehab.

I've ben working with Garren's walking at home. I took him to the pool last Saturday, and helped him walk in the water. He does so well moving his legs underwater. It's so good for him. We went back on Wednesday and did the same thing. One of the lifeguards commented that she could see a difference already in his walking, that he was doing better than the last time! It's amazing to hear comments like those. I also get him walking at home with the walker. Yesterday we walked out the front door, down the front steps, down the driveway, across the street and then all the way back again. About 300 feet. He did really well, though the last 100 feet I could tell he was getting tired. The furthest he had gone before that was about 250 feet.

We're still praying, waiting, and watching to see what happens overnight, while he's asleep. He has some great nights, and then some nights where he struggle a little more. I think it's just another phase that he will grow out of, just like we've seen many times already. We will continue to pray for that.

July 06, 2011

Night Time Challenges

So the trach is out. We are still very happy about that. But Garren now faces some new challenges - breathing while he's sleeping. Apparently it's pretty important! He does great when he first goes to sleep. But it seems that when he gets into a really deep sleep, he holds his breath for several minutes at a time - like he has some kind of apnea. Apnea is pretty common with brain injury. We have a nurse that stays with him overnight - and she makes sure he does continue breathing. We just need to figure out the next piece of this big puzzle. What can we do? Who do we talk to? What are the next steps? We'll be figuring that one out over the next several days.

The good news is that Garren continues to get stronger. I helped him walk, with his walker, from his bed, out the door, down the ramp to the end of the driveway. Then we turned around and walked to the front door, up the steps, and into the living room. His steps are getting stronger, his core is getting stronger. It's so amazing to see him progress.

He told us the other day that he has 3 things he needs to work on: swallowing, talking, and walking. A boy with goals - I love it!

July 02, 2011

Home Again

It is so nice to wake up at home.

Garren made through the night pretty well. The nurse has to wake him up often to help him clear his throat so he can keep his airway clear. It's just a matter of time. It's a new phase of his recovery. We got rid of the trach, and now we face new and different challenges.

Another great thing about having the trach out is that Garren can go swimming. Several weeks ago Garren was asking about going to the beach. We told him that we would go after his trach came out. So the first thing he said after it came out was "we can go to the beach now!" I'm looking forward to getting him into a pool to work on some therapy. That is going to be so good for him!

We had to take the rug out of the living room. Every time he tried to drive his chair into the living room he would catch the rug, and ended up rearranging the living room every time. It was pretty funny!

July 01, 2011

Ups and Downs

*** UPDATE ***
Garren is coming home today - we are thankful for that. We will have a home nurse to help us through the night, for at least a week.

Last night was a bit rough for Garren. Well, he sleeps through everything, so it was more rough for Nancy who was with him.

So the trach is gone - that's great. The problem is that he still doesn't swallow consistently or well. So while sleeping, fluids drain down into his lungs. With the trach we had access to clear those fluids throughout the night. Now he has to rely on coughing to clear fluids. While he's awake this is not a problem. But lying down and sleeping makes this more difficult.

We are not sure at this point whether we will be coming home today or not. We have to wait and talk to the doctor. Apparently Garren experienced "respiratory distress" during the night - which basically means he had difficulty breathing.

So the big prayer continues to be - swallowing. I'll update you as I am updated. Thanks for your prayers.