July 07, 2015

Treatment #40

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment has been a long and steady journey. Each day, 5 days a week, Garren and either I or Nancy have been sitting in that chamber for 90 minutes, while Garren breathes 100% oxygen. We have had lots of time for reading, napping, and watching the minutes tick by. We are often asked "How's Garren's treatments going?" I'd love to have a definite answer, but the truth is, we don't really know for sure.

Originally the doctor recommended 40 treatments, followed by a reassessment to determine whether or not to continue. As treatment #40 approached, we were able to discuss things with the doctor. He relies very much on our observation of Garren. Has anything change? Do we notice anything new? What does Garren think?

We have seen some improvements, small but profound. I mentioned earlier the healed lip which had been unable to heal for almost 2 years. The left side of Garren's face has lifted, making his smile more symmetrical. Garren says he feels more energy, and that he can tell a difference in his balance. Small things like this tell us that something is happening. But it is difficult to determine how much.

Our biggest prayer for Garren is that he would regain the ability to swallow. A close second is the ability to balance and walk by himself. We are setting up an appointment with Garren's speech therapist to perform a swallow test. It's been over a year since we've had this done. The last time we did this, his therapist had seen some small changes over the previous swallow test. We are hopeful that there will be more improvement this time.

Garren 40th treatment was today.  We have decided at this point, per the doctor's recommendation to take 3-4 weeks off from the oxygen therapy. This will give Garren's body a chance to "catch up" to the treatments and continue to heal. After that we will probably continue with 20 more treatments.

We want to thank you all so much for your continued support, prayers and encouragement. We are so blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you!

June 12, 2015

Garren's Walk

Yesterday Garren took the walk he's been waiting to take for 18 years: high school graduation! We are so proud of him! We are so thankful that we were able to witness what we saw yesterday.

There was a time when we didn't know if it would even be possible. Garren has spent his 4 years of high school in a wheelchair. Freshman year it was a motor chair, controlled by moving a joystick with his right hand. By his senior year Garren was able to move himself around in his manual chair. In class he often transferred from his wheelchair into a desk like everyone else. He even took weightlifting, bench pressing up to 200 lbs by the end of the year!

Garren has been using his walker more and more around the house. He has really seen improvement recently. We are certain that the hyperbaric oxygen treatments are having a positive effect. Garren even said that he can tell that he has better balance.

A couple of months ago when we had a conversation with the school about how to get Garren across the stage for graduation, we told them that Garren wanted to walk. Of course they were elated at the idea. The staff at Piedmont High School has gone above and beyond to make sure Garren has had everything he needed to complete his high school career. They wanted to see him finish big.

As the graduates lined up to receive their diplomas, Garren rolled his chair to the bottom of the stairs. With the help of Mr. Capers (Garren's assistant throughout high school) he made his way to the top of the stairs where his walker was waiting. Garren grabbed ahold of his walker and paused while the vice-principal announced his name - "Garren Michael Janes." Then he started his walk, one step at a time, until he reached Mr. Tyson, the principal. After about 3 steps, people began clapping. Then more joined in. One of the seniors sitting on the front row stood to his feet. Then several more joined him. By the time Garren reached the center of the stage where he would shake hands with Mr. Tyson and receive his diploma, every person in the arena was on their feet!

It was an amazing moment, a moment that could not have happened apart from the generous grace of our God in heaven.

Thank you for all your continued prayers and support. We would not be where we are without you.

May 27, 2015

Hyperbaric Treatment Update - Day 16

We are continuing our journey of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. We just completed day 16 today. Garren is adjusting well to the treatments. We are now consistently at 2.0 atmospheres (equivalent of approx. 34 feet under water) for 1.5 hours (up from 1 hour when we first started). We are experiencing very little issues with ears clearing.

We are not expecting to see any significant changes until after at least 20 treatments, but to date here are some observations:
  • Garren had a split in his lower lip from a fall 2 years ago that just would not heal. Since beginning the treatments his lip is completely healed. 
  • Garren said that he has noticed more awareness of his balance (or lack thereof).
  • We see more symmetry in his face, blink and smile. His left side used to droop slightly and the blink was slower on that side. 
  • He has noticed his energy level and stamina have increased.  
We thank God for this progress and wait expectantly to see what's next. We continue to be so thankful for your continued prayers and financial support.

May 13, 2015

Week 1 Complete

We made it through the first 5 treatments. After taking one day off, the doctor felt like the twitching was not even related to the treatments, and was comfortable with allowing Garren to continue. On day 5 (yesterday) Nancy was introduced to the chamber for the first time. There are a couple of days that I will not be able to get in with Garren, so yesterday was Nancy's opportunity to get in and start getting used to it.

While in the hyperbaric chamber, air pressure is increased in order to simulate being under water. The deeper you go under water, the greater the pressure (remember your high school physics class?) For the first 4 days they took us to a pressure of 1.3 atmospheres, which is the equivalent of about 10 feet underwater. Yesterday they took us to a pressure of 1.5 atmospheres (about 17 feet). Tomorrow we are going even deeper, to 1.75 atmospheres (about 25 feet). The deeper you go, the greater the pressure, the more effective the treatment.

They say it usually takes 15-20 treatments before we will begin to notice any significant changes. So we will continue to go through the treatments, trusting that God will use this to bring healing to Garren's body. So far we are thankful that we are able to tolerate the pressure and have had no issues with the treatments.

Thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement!

May 06, 2015

Good Twitch? Or Bad Twitch? - Day 2

Day 2 in the chamber went according to plan. That is until we got out. As we were leaving, the technician who has been working with us noticed Garren's left cheek was twitching. (You know how sometimes your muscles will spasm? It was doing that).  Not constantly, but enough that she saw it and started asking about it. Nancy and I had noticed it after the first day. We assumed it must be something happening as a result of the treatment.

The technician wanted the doctor to see it, so he came it to take a look. His first response was that it could be the onset of a seizure. After talking some more, he decided that it could possibly be a nerve responding to the treatment (good news) or it could be the result of a nerve being damaged (bad news).

The doctor wants to review some more of Garren's medical records before we continue with the treatment. We will skip today, and hopefully resume tomorrow.

Thanks for all you continued prayers in this.

May 05, 2015

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - Day 1

Yesterday we began Garren's newest therapy: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). We had heard about it a couple of times over the past several of years, and recently we came across it again. Nancy looked into it, and found a place in Matthews that offers this treatment.

HBOT is the use of oxygen under pressure to facilitate healing. You can read more about this amazing treatment here. While the treatment looks promising, there is a cost, as insurance companies do not yet cover these treatment for brain injury recovery. God is good, and through the generous gifts of many, we have raised the funds needed to cover the first round.

After an assessment a couple of weeks ago, Dr. Speight determined that Garren is a good candidate for the treatment. So yesterday we began with the first of 40 treatments. We will go every day, 5 days a week. After the first 40 days the doctor will re-evaluate and determine whether or not more treatment will be beneficial.

Here are a couple of pics from our experience yesterday.

The Hyperbaric Chamber
Ready for liftoff!
Garren wears an oxygen hood while he is under pressure.
We both crawled into the chamber, and got as comfortable as we could. They sealed the door, locking us in. Then they began pressurizing the chamber. As we are "diving" we have to continuously "clear" our ears, as the air pressure is constantly changing. Once we are at our target level, I then put the oxygen hood on Garren. This hood allows Garren to breathe 100% oxygen for the time we are in the chamber.

The reason I ride along is to assist Garren when he has to clear his secretions. As you know, he is not yet able to swallow, and in order to spit we have to remove the hood. During our 1 hour dive yesterday we only had to remove the hood 1 time.

Thanks for your continued prayers for Garren. We are excited and hopeful to see how this new treatment works for Garren. We continue to pray for swallowing, as well as progress in his walking.

March 09, 2015

Another Step In Our Journey

Over the past several years I have come to understand more and more that life is a journey. We take steps down a path that leads us onward into the future. Our paths are not always easy. We rarely see what is beyond the next bend. But if we are following and trusting our God to lead the way, he is always faithful and will always lead us through - he leads us beside still waters, he makes us lie down in green pastures, he leads us through the valley of the shadow of death - no matter what our circumstance, we serve a God who is in control.

These past 8 months, as Nancy and I have been walking down the path on this journey of life, we have been seeking and praying for God's direction in our lives. Even though leaving our family at Southbrook was not easy, God has used this "in between" time to mold us into the people He wants us to be as we take new steps down a new path. This week, God has opened a new door of ministry for us at Lee Park Church in Monroe, NC.

Today I start in a new ministry position as the Associate Connections Pastor. I will be working with an amazing staff, under the leadership of Pastor Chris Justice, to help people get connected and stay connected throughout their time at Lee Park.

We know that God is guiding us on this journey. We are so excited to have been welcomed into a wonderful and loving church family. We are looking ahead with anticipation as this next chapter in our lives begins to unfold.

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in need." - Psalm 23:1

February 15, 2015

Why Do You Doubt?

In Matthew 14 we read the story that many of us have heard or read many times - Jesus walks on water. In the middle of the night, while the disciples are out on the boat, they look out into the stormy waters, and they see a figure walking on the water. At first, as would be expected, they are afraid. But then Peter makes a bold request "Jesus, if that is you, then command  me to come out on the water with you."

Jesus replies "Come." So Peter steps out onto the water in faith.

Peter steps out in faith. He steps out of the boat, and he walks on the water! This is an amazing moment. It's a real miracle. It's a miracle moment with Jesus. How many of us long for a miracle moment with Jesus? Wouldn't we all love to have a story to tell like this? That we experienced a moment with Jesus where we are standing in His presence doing something absolutely and incredibly miraculous?

I bet more of us have had miracle moments with Jesus than we realize. If we truly stop and consider our lives - the things we have seen, all that we have accomplished, the places we have been - every one of us can point to a moment and say, "There, that's a moment when I trusted Jesus, when I took a step of faith, when I overcame the odds, through His miraculous power and accomplished something amazing." Maybe you haven't walked on water - but what are some of your miracle moments with Jesus?

The next thing we know, Peter is sinking. Why? Because he took his eyes off of Jesus. He looked around at his circumstances. He let the stormy waves distract him from the miracle moment he was experiencing with Jesus. His faith in Jesus turned to trust in his own weaknesses. His miracle moment began to fade into the background.

Just this week I was enjoying a miracle moment with Jesus. Something amazing and miraculous was happening. I was so happy! I was amazed at the circumstances I was walking into. Things were coming together in such an amazing and incredible way. But then, just one day later, I felt like my entire world was sinking. One email was all it took to distract me from what God was doing. Suddenly, instead of enjoying the miracle moment, I was looking around at the stormy waves, questioning, trying to solve the problem on my own~

Haven't we all been there ? We are probably much more likely to recognize our failures. It's much easier for us to remember the moments when we doubted, when we took our eyes off  of Jesus, when we allowed the storms of life around us to bring us down.

Do you have a miracle moment with Jesus? If you can't remember one, think back to your last doubting moment, and then rewind just a bit. There it is! There is your moment of faith! There is your miracle moment with Jesus! Don't allow the doubt in your life to bring you down. Keep your eyes focused on the One who controls the storms. Keep your faith planted firmly in the strength and power of Jesus.

Just as Peter stepped out in faith, and moments later was sinking in his doubt, you and I have very similar opportunities. We must not allow the circumstances of life to bring doubt into our miracle moments. What is Jesus doing in your life? Focus on that. When something comes along that doesn't seem to make sense, don't try to over analyze your situation, keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus on His promises to you.

"Oh you of little faith, why do you doubt?"