December 27, 2011

Spreading Christmas Joy

It's been busy around here - Christmas Eve services at church, Christmas morning pancake outreach to the community, plus getting all the family Christmas surprises in order. Now that things have settled down a little I have time to update you.

Garren continues to progress with his walking. He is getting stronger, Race To Walk has really been good for him. His muscles are getting bigger, and he is gaining all kinds of weight (all muscle). He's getting used to his new manual wheelchair. The frame is yellow, and the straps and padding are black...perfect for the Steeler fan that he is! He has learned how to pop a weely! Fun times!

Several weeks ago, before Thanksgiving, my uncle went into the hospital for surgery. After the surgery there were many complications, and he nearly didn't make it. Garren, who knows what it's like to spend endless nights in the hospital, realized the possibility that Uncle Hu might end up spending Christmas in the hospital. So Garren came up with an idea all his own.

You can read about it from my Aunt's perspective here:

We're taking a couple of days off from therapy to spend some time having fun together as a family. Garren will get back to work later this week.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

December 12, 2011

Let's Try This...

We took Garren for a follow up visit to the EENT this past Tuesday. Using a scope to watch the inside of Garren's throat, he concluded that he doesn't see any change in Garren's swallow since the last time he saw us about 3 months ago. Needless to say, that was discouraging to hear.

He went on to inform us that Garren's current speech therapist recommends that we discontinue therapy for swallowing, because she isn't seeing any improvement either.

I asked about next steps. What else can we do? Who else can we talk to? Is there anything else we can try? It's as though they know (or think they know) in their heads that Garren will not likely swallow again, but they don't have the heart to tell us. So they keep trying.

Several months ago we had discovered an intense swallow therapy called the McNeil program. It's a 3 week, 5 days a week intensive swallowing therapy that has seen good results in many patients. We had searched high and low, and the only location we could find that would even consider seeing Garren was in Atlanta. When we asked the doc about the McNeil program, he said "Sure, that's what we do here." Ever have one of those moments where you want to throw your arms up in the air and say "When were you going to tell us about it?" I didn't say that, as badly as I wanted to...

So he offered to refer us to one of his therapists. Of course we jumped at the opportunity. His scheduler came in a few minutes later and informed us that the next available appointment was January 24. That's 6 weeks! She was kind enough to add us to the waiting list, in case someone cancelled an appointment.

Friday we got a call that an appointment had been cancelled. So we rearranged our schedule and got Garren over there. The speech therapist assessed Garren, and decided that even though Garren's case doesn't show a lot of hope, she would continue to see him and take him through the 3 week program. He starts January 23rd.

So we will try this now. Let's pray for some kind of progress.

December 09, 2011

Yet I Will Rejoice

I' finishing up my one year journey through the Bible. I was reading in Habakkuk 3 this week. This verse stood out to me:

"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places." (Habakkuk 3:18, 19 ESV)

To really get what he is saying, it helps to go back and read verse 17:

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herds in the stalls."

Habakkuk paints this picture of despair. Nothing is going right. There is famine, the crops are failing, and the livestock has all disappeared. It's a desperate situation. Hope seems to have vanished. People are going to starve. It would be easy in this scenario to start crying out to God "Why God, are you being so mean to us? Why won't you provide the way You used to? Why can't things be the way they used to be? Why can't you make it better?"

I feel that way...a lot lately. Where's God when things seem to be falling apart? Look around - we all have our own little personal problems. Sickness, finances, relationships. Why do bad things seem to happen? We all could whine and complain about so many things that don't seem to be going our way. I sure can think of a lot of things I would change if I could.

But Habakkuk, instead of complaining, proclaims that he will rejoice in the Lord. Even in the midst of trials. Even in the midst of crisis. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. Yet. Even though humanly I have every reason to give up hope and  complain, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.

I will take joy - not sadness, not hopelessness, not misery - but joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength.

I pray that you will pause today, in the midst of your crisis, whatever it might be, and simply rejoice in the Lord. Take joy in the God of your salvation.

December 02, 2011

Heartfelt Prayer

Last night after dinner we had our family devotions. It’s always a bit of a challenge to get two teenagers and a 7 year old to focus on the same thought for 10 minutes. There’s the age difference, there’s the difference in level of knowledge, and there’s this little thing called attention span. So we made it through, finished our thoughts, and I gave a little challenge.

We always close in prayer together. Sometimes I pray, but I like to give the kids a chance to pray as well. I hadn’t asked Garren in a while, so I said “Garren, will you pray tonight?”

He said “Yes.” He started to bow his head, then he paused, looked back up, and said, “Wait, I need prayer requests. Kara, what’s your prayer request?” She was caught off guard, so he looked at me. “Dad?”
I said “You can pray about your doctors appointments tomorrow. And we have a praise, that your nursing got extended.”
He looked at Kelsey. She said “Pray for Uncle Hu. He’s in the hospital, pray that he feels better.”
Then Garren asked Nancy for a prayer request. She said “Pray for Nanna, she just had surgery today. She’s a little sore.”
Back to Kara. She said “Pray for the boy, Alex, who is in the hospital with the brain injury.”

Garren went back around, trying to remember each of the requests, then he folded his hands, and as he bowed his head he said “I hope I can remember all those.”

Then I heard one of the most heartfelt prayers I’ve ever heard. Garren prayed from his heart, directly to God. He meant every word. He wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed. It wasn’t forced, it wasn’t a copy of what he’d heard before.

“Dear Lord,

I pray for Alex in the hospital. 
Help him to get better quickly.

I pray for my doctors appointments tomorrow. 
I pray for my swallow test, I hope it goes well. 
And Lord I praise you that my nursing got extended. 
It’s such a blessing because my mom and dad can get some sleep.

I pray for Nanna and Grandma and Grandpa. 
I hope she feels better soon.

I pray for Uncle Hu, and Aunt Sherril. 
I pray that he feels better and can move from ICU soon. 

And I pray for Aunt Sue. 
She has surgery on Friday. 
Let the surgery help her so she doesn’t have to deal with it anymore.

In Jesus name, 

Nancy and I were blown away. We were so in awe, and completely amazed at how genuine his prayer was. It was refreshing and exciting to be a part of. I look forward to many more.

December 01, 2011

Another Deadline

Tonight is our last night of nursing as approved by Medicaid. We have submitted all the paperwork for approval to continue with the overnight help. We are just waiting to hear back from them. Please pray that they come through again.

I started asking questions about Garren's swallowing earlier this week. First I asked his speech therapist. I just wondered, could there be something going on with Garren's throat that we haven't even considered? Could there possibly be some kind of blockage? Scar tissue maybe? Could there be more to this than the neurological issues we've been pointing to?

So Nancy called the ENT. He approved another swallow study and is going to see Garren again next week. The swallow study is so that the doctor will have the very latest data to work with. I know many of you have been praying for Garren to swallow. I also know that God's plan is better than our plan. My prayer now is that somehow, someway, we might discover something that can help Garren move past this.

I'll keep you updated! Thanks for praying.