February 29, 2012

Still Going

No major breakthroughs, but I know many of you are praying and waiting for an update. Garren continues to progress, little by little.

Swallow therapy is slow and grueling. He hasn't actually been able to start the McNeil program. We are told that you actually have to be able to swallow in order to benefit from McNeil. The therapists have been working intensely and intentionally with him to help strengthen his tongue and mouth muscles. Hopefully, eventually, he will be able to start swallowing.

The physical therapists are amazed every time they see Garren. He continues to get stronger and steadier. He has a couple of crutches that he uses to walk. He can pretty much stand up on his own. He needs someone to help him balance. I helped him walk from our house to the stop sign at the end of our road, and back again. That was a total of about 700 feet. It took about 45 minutes. It was quite a workout, but he did it.

We have another month left of approved overnight nursing. Then we resubmit and pray for that to continue after the end of March. Once Garren can swallow consistently on his own, we will no longer need nursing - we cannot wait for that day!

Thanks for your continued prayers. Garren continues to joke around and make us laugh. We have so much to be thankful for.

February 13, 2012

Ridin' Solo

I haven't talked a lot about school so here's a quick update. Garren is doing great in school. Last semester he passed all his classes with no trouble. His teachers have all been great at helping him make sure he gets everything he needs. Nancy and Kara have spent countless hours helping Garren with homework. This semester is going great. Of course, just like any 15 year old boy, Garren would rather not go to school. But he is doing great with it.

Garren has had an assistant following him around at school. She has been meeting us at the car in the morning, walking everywhere with Garren, sitting with him in class, and then escorting him back to the car for pick up. Garren brought it to our attention that this was a little bit annoying. He didn't feel like he had any freedom. He felt confined and held back. So Nancy talked to the school, and starting today we are trying something new. I dropped Garren off by himself. He went to class all on his own - no help. He will meet three different assistants today, each in a different class. And when we pick him up, he is going to come to the car unassisted! Garren has always been pretty independent. I hope this new arrangement makes him feel more independent again.

Last week we had one of the therapists looking at Garren's manual wheelchair. Garren has really gotten good at pushing himself around. He prefers the manual chair over the power chair now. That is great! The therapist wanted to make some adjustments to the manual chair, to make it easier for Garren to use. But there's a problem. The chair isn't designed for someone as 'advanced' as Garren. When I heard this I said "What? We paid all that money for a chair that isn't what Garren needs?" Come to find out, when they customized the chair for Garren, they had no idea he would progress as quickly as he has. He has already outgrown the chair! Another reminder that Garren is progressing quickly and miraculously. They are going to make a couple of adjustments to try and make the chair last a little longer for Garren.

February 08, 2012

One Year Check-Up

We took Garren to see his neurosurgeon yesterday. Dr. Dyer and his team were waiting for Garren in the ER last year when he was taken to CMC Main. He is the one who did the surgeries.

First the P.A. came in and talked to us for a little while. He asked questions about how Garren was progressing. After a few minutes I said "Have you ever seen anything like this before? In person or case studies?" He looked down, looked at Garren, shook his head, and said "Honestly I didn't think there was any way Garren would survive. Cases like this don't usually leave the hospital." Then he used a word I don't recall having heard a doctor use: "It was a miracle." He said "Without getting too spiritual, the Good Lord had His hand on this one." Of course I quickly replied "You can get spiritual, that's ok. We know that God is taking care of Garren."

A few minutes later Dr. Dyer came in. He too asked questions about Garren's progress. We talked for a few minutes. Then he said something encouraging. "Having seen the progress Garren has made in the last year, I'm confident that he will continue to recover. Maybe another year or even two years. He's going to keep getting better."

As long as this road has been, and as much as we'd like to get to the end of this chapter of our lives, it's encouraging to have positive feedback from doctors who a year ago had little hope. We thank God for His hand of healing. We continue to trust His timing.

February 05, 2012

Rock Climbing, That's Right!

Yesterday was Garren's official one year anniversary. When we asked him what he wanted to do to celebrate, true to Garren's amazing drive and attitude, he said he wanted to try to rock climb at Inner Peaks indoor gym. So, of course, we took him. What a triumph to show how far he's come this year.

Through it all we are so thankful for you. You have helped in so many ways. Foremost, we thank you for your prayers. We thank you for your love, your kind and encouraging comments, visits, money to help with medical expenses, food, gas cards, house cleaning, vehicle help, playdates for Kelsey, rides for Kara, cards, posters, bracelets, t-shirts, 5k, golf tournament, skate night, food events and other fundraisers. The list goes on and on. Words cannot express our appreciation. Thank you for standing with us and we ask that you continue through the long haul.

We thank the Lord and praise Him for where Garren is right now in his recovery and we continue to fervently ask Him to restore Garren's swallow and balance.

God is good and in control. 

- Nancy 

February 03, 2012

One Year Down

Garren's AVM rupture actually happened on February 4th. But it was a Friday. The 4th is tomorrow, but today being Friday it's easy to reflect back. I remember sitting at the Monroe Campus waiting for Nancy to finish up with the Closet. She was helping some ladies pick out some clothes. That's when I got the call. We had planned to go to Duke's Grill for lunch that day. Well today we went. It was odd sitting there thinking that we were supposed to have eaten there one year ago today.

So much has happened. So many of you have journeyed faithfully with us through so much. I've met so many awesome people, heard so many inspiring stories, and have learned so much about myself. God has not wasted this year. We've all grown in different ways than we ever expected.

Recovery from brain injury is a long, slow process. They say it can take up to 3 years to make a full recovery. That's a reality that is starting to sink in more and more. We had all hoped for a miraculous 6 month recovery, then 8 months, then 1 year...but God's plans are always better than our plans. One year ago Garren lay lifeless in a hospital bed. The ventilator was responsible for keeping him breathing. Tubes and needles, beeping machines, and a tv monitor with all of his vital signs were constant reminders that things had gone terribly wrong. That was a year ago.

Here's Garren today. He can stand with the help of his crutches all by himself for about a minute or so. He did this for the first time this week!

We continue to believe that God is going to restore Garren. And we continue to pray for that daily. We have many more lessons to learn, and even in the midst of helping Garren recover, God is giving us opportunities to lean on Him even more.

1 year down.

Thank you for your prayers and your encouragement.

February 02, 2012

Still Waiting

It's been almost two weeks since we were hoping to have been approved by Medicaid so that Garren can start this new swallow therapy. We've had to cancel 7 sessions so far, all because of paperwork. We're told it's not a matter of if, but when, the paperwork will come through.

I know it's all in God's timing, but the waiting never gets any easier.

Hopefully we'll have good news soon.

February 01, 2012

Day 363

In just three days we remember the day we started this journey. It'll be 1 year on Saturday, February 4th. So much has happened, God has faithfully supplied our needs. We have seen the great power that the Lord used. One of the verses that really latched onto our hearts a year ago was Exodus 14:14. "The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be silent." When Garren was laying lifeless in the hospital, that was all we could do...be silent.

As we approach the anniversary of it all, I am once again faced with this verse. In fact, I have had to lean into verse 13 as well: "And Moses said to the people, 'fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.'"

As I reflected on these verse, I went back and began reading the entire chapter. It's the account of Moses finally leading the Israelites out of Egypt:

  • Exodus 14:1-4 - The Israelites are led by God into the wilderness. They are being freed from slavery, but God leads them right into a trap! He tells them exactly where to go, and then He says "I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them." God orchestrated a failed escape! Why? "And I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord."

  • Exodus 14:5-9 - Pharaoh sends his army to recapture the Israelites. They trap the people between themselves and the Red sea. There is no way out, no escape. It's a hopeless situation.

  • Exodus 14:10-14 - As certain disaster closes in, Moses reassures the people "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord." Do you believe that God is in absolute control? Do you believe that He orchestrates the events in your life? I do. But I have to admit there are times when I look around, and all seems lost. There is no escape, there is no way out. I have to imagine the Israelites looking at Moses and saying "Fear not? Stand Firm? You be still and stand firm! We're about to die!"

  • Exodus 14:15-18 - Then God tells Moses to do the most impossible, irrational, ridiculous thing. First He says to Moses "Why are you crying to me?" My response would've been, "Why am I crying to you? Are you serious? Do you not see what's happening here? You led us into a trap!" Then he tells Moses "Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through on dry ground." Now we read that, and many of us know what happens next. We know that Moses parts the Red Sea when he lifts his staff. But Moses had never seen or heard of anything like this before! It was absurd! They were backed into a corner, there was no way of escape, and God tells Moses, almost as if it was the only obvious thing to do, to lift his hand and stretch out his staff and part the Red Sea!

Are you backed into a corner? Does it look hopeless from every angle? Is there no way out? Are you crying out to God? What is the ridiculous, impossible, absurd thing that God is calling you to do? If you were Moses, would you have had the guts to stand before the people of Israel and actually lift your hands and stretch out your staff? It was absurd! Parting a sea is impossible! That just doesn't happen!

I am convinced that many times we remain trapped and defeated by our own version of the Egyptian army, because we are afraid to do what we know God is telling us to do. We're afraid of what people will think, or what they will say. We are too busy analyzing the situation, strategizing, looking for a way out, when all the time God holds the way out. If only we would obey Him.

But if we will listen, and obey, our Lord will fight for us, we have only to be still.