Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quick Note - Improved Speech

Just a quick note that last night Rachael was able to speak clearly, all be it very slowly and deliberately, I LOVE YOU! and then I LOVE YOU HANNA! That 'V' Sound has been hard for her but she got it.  She is also closing her mouth more before speaking, a major necessity for proper enunciation.  At Church on Sunday, with assistance, she was able to wipe her mouth!

More later, but God is doing some neat healing over these past few days!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Extreme Makeover Home Edition and The Loft Benefit

Last year our brothers and sisters at Calvary Chapel School felt compelled to suggest Rachael's story to Extreme Home Makeover.  At the time we were half heatedly enthusiastic about the idea, mainly due to the incredible weight of Rachael's care and rehab at the time.  We also felt that it was striving for us to be involved in the application process.  All things prayerfully considered, we ended up letting the nearly completed application sit on the shelf under a mound of bills and statements.

Jenan Wood, Mary Kay Cosmetics Sales Director and proud mom, approached me about contacting EMHE last year as well.  She was very enthusiastic about it.  Once again, we steered away from the opportunity.

A few months ago Deb White and Mandy Yoder approached us about filling out an app for the show.   With a sense of unworthiness and hesitation towards putting it all together, we made a video with Mandy and Deb and I think we still have Deb's video camera here (Deb, we will bring it to church. )

Part of it may be reliving the whole accident, part of it is that the story is far from finished, part of it the investment of time for something that felt contrived.  A big part of the resistance was feeling that due to you guys with your blessings and prayer, there just seemed to be others in higher need.

Yet, Rachael's impact just seems to keep growing.  At least once or twice a week God is glorified through Rachael's story directly by Hanna, Daniel, Nancy or myself.  A score of others that we do not even know are impacted when they hear of the story.  I have met people that after a few minutes into a conversation exclaim:
"That is YOUR daughter that we have been praying for?" or they tell Rachael's story to me, not realizing that she is my step daughter.

It has so far been a devastating, thrilling, sorrowful, blessed, frustrating, joyous, raucous, peaceful, tragic, Christ centered, self focused season in our lives.  You got it, a strange ride.  All said and done, to the day, Nancy and I are in awe of what God has done through Rachael for everyone touched by her story, including us.

Now, we are starting to function in the context of what has been brought to us. Sustained as always by our Lord, we are getting the joy and peace.  We are getting into our new normal!

With that, another text from Christine Sullivan at Calvary Chapel School containing a forward of a text from Jenan Wood revisiting the idea of submitting us for the show and a green light from God, we decided to move ahead with the idea.

With only a day left for submission of entries, Christine entered our info on the website. What a grand opportunity to share Rachael's story!  We will be able to share how God's hand moves through so many lives and offer hope and knowledge for others with Brain Injury family members.  I am sure there are thousands of entries.  Yes our house needs help.  Yes it is way too tight for moving Rachael around.  Yes it is sore backs and arms and Ibuprofen BEFORE coffee for Nancy and I after tasks associated with Rachael's care.  Yes the walls are thin and Rachael can be heard, on occasion, outside by passers by and neighbors.  Rachael's wheel chair is just shy the width of the hallway.  It is comical to see my 210lb 5'9" frame caught by the belt loop on the bathroom door handle as I try to squeeze around the chair to fit her for the lift to bed.  Nancy, much thinner and more agile than myself meanders her way like the rubber guy super hero from Fantastic Four around, through or under to do the same.    Moving Rachael around the house is a constant bumping of her arms or legs and us doing our best not to hit a door frame, a wall, a corner of a table or chair or some other obstacle.  That is what happens with someone on complete dependent care.  Everything is an obstacle as it was designed for completely mobile people.

So we are going with it.  We need to shoot a video and do a few other things to prepare.  We are just one story in thousands but if we do get on the show one thing is very certain, God will be glorified.

Here is a link where you can join abc.com and post something about Rachael to their message center.  Please always end your messages with a link to http://www.lovetorachael.org.  The more chatter on their board the better.  Also if you know of anyone connected with the production, feel free to email them as well.  What a great thing it would be for others who are experiencing a life with a brain injured loved one to see this story of hope and healing.  Here is the abc.com link for Extreme Makeover Home Edition's message board:


The Loft Benefit

Our friends Steve and Liz Rinehart own The Loft Ristobar in Sarasota.  They are having a Blues Benefit for Rachael late afternoon and early evening on November 27th.  Rachael's story and thus the testimony of our Lord is going to be shared with a group consisting of many non-believers.  This is a new direction for us on this journey and we will be providing you with more information as the time approaches.

There is another event that I have heard rumors of just today and if it happens we will have the info here.

We look at all these as opportunities to share Christ and the power of a living God with others.

1       Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

So it seems that the Lord is moving us into new area's with our Medical Missionary, Rachael.   The mission continues and we praise our holy God for all he has done.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Rachael!

[caption id="attachment_574" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Rachael at Mine and Nancy's wedding"][/caption]

There has been so much change going on at this house I thought it was a call back to the 2008 elections.  First off:  Friday, in just a few minutes, yes, October 7,  will be Rachael’s 23rd Birthday!  There is much to celebrate.  I will give it to you by the bullets as it is late and we all need to get up early. Nancy is driving Rachael to and from her Hyperbaric Treatments 1 hour 30 minutes each way 5 days a week as we were refused services locally.  Anyone reading this must understand, these treatments WORK!  I was quite skeptical.  That said, here is what is up:

18 Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” [1]

[caption id="attachment_577" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="A precious moment with sisters."][/caption]

Healing – His Glory Revealed!

  • Tonight she gave us a clear and defined ‘f’ sound on the suffix of the word ‘off’.  She has not been able to use her lips and tongue together to form that sound.

  • She is moving a much contracted left wrist up and down a few degrees.  Prior to today she has not been able to do this at all.

  • She is keeping her knees straight up and not leaning to the ‘tone’ to the right.

  • She is able to arch her back, shift her torso and move her neck quite far to the left.  In the past her chin was constantly pressed to her right shoulder.  For months.

  • We are able to help her move her arms much easier.  It took two of us to raise her arms up just to bathe her.  One person could do it but it was killer on the back and arms of the care giver.  Not so anymore!

  • When turning her in bed she is starting to assist.  She is also able to get herself flat on her back by moving her arm and shifting her weight once she has been on her side.

  • Her ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are quite clear when she is alert and not in severe pain.

  • She is making decisions on where she wants to sit, when she is hungry and if she wants to go outside for a stroll or remain inside to rest and if she want s pain meds or not.

    [caption id="attachment_583" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Cuddles "Will someone scratch me please?""][/caption]

  • She is great company and is filled with Joy and laughter when not in pain.

  • That said, at times of severe contractions, she still laughs at some absurdity.

  • Her cognition and grasp of abstract thoughts and responses to them are incredible.

  • She gets a joke

  • She says Amen

  • She Prays, though we cannot yet understand her words, she prays!

  • She is eating

  • She is drinking

  • She is starting to raise her legs when we move her.

  • She raises her head when her hair is being washed or a need arises to get to the back of her head.

  • She imitates what she sees, when she sees. There are times when she cannot see.

  • She knows that October 7th is her Birthday

  • She says I Love You every night.

  • She has short and long term memory.

  • She Dreams

  • She sleeps well without waking up 3 or 4 times a night.

  • She is willing to work very hard to get well and has communicated this to us.

  • She is able to decide to take certain ‘as needed’ meds for pain and comfort.  She does not always take them during times of discomfort.

  • She is center focused with her eyes a large part of the day.

  • She LOVES to go to church.

  • Two weeks ago, when Ray White was playing  God of This City, she raised her right hand in praise and mouthed what she could for the words.  That was awesome.

  • She listens to the sermons and responds quite appropriately

  • She can spell.

  • She drinks through a straw and sippy cup.

  • Her latest EEG showed not seizure activity.

  • She is off all drugs but her muscle relaxers, ibuprofen, and an aid to cut back on possible memory or confusion issues.  We don’t think she needs it but we are being obedient to the doctors God has placed in our path.  She was once on 20 drugs.  She is now on 6.

Reality Checks:  His Future Glory!

  • Rachael cannot sit up without support or walk at all.

  • She is ‘bed ridden’

  • She has a vocabulary of about 10 words that are not yet clear.

  • Her legs are in constant painful contraction, knees bent up and never flat out.

  • Her feet are turned inward at a 90 degree angles.  Try it.

  • Her left hand is normal bent or curled down with contractions in her forearm muscles.  The fingers are contracted and cannot open all the way.

  • Her right hand is usually a closed fist that will break the skin of her palm with its force if left unabated.  It is painful for it to be opened.

  • Her right forearm often contracts up when she is stressed causing her to raise her arm up.

  • Her left arm pulls to the right, causing issues with her feeding tube.

  • Her left side appears to have a much higher tactile sensitivity and lower functionality.  Putting socks on her feet or touching her feet is actually painful to her.

  • She wakes up in pain, is in pain all day and ends her night in pain.  Ever wake up from a Charlie horse in the middle of the night?  That is common for Rachael with an uncountable frequency each day and night.

  • The food she eats is ground in a food processor.  She cannot chew well yet.

  • Caring for her is a monumental self denying task.  Nancy handles the majority of it.  I work during the day.

  • She twitches uncontrollably at random times.

In the near future, Rachael is going to require daily focused rehab.  We are hoping that it will be covered by Insurance.  We are not sure it will.  She is going to need this rehab to regain speech and whatever physical movement God will give her.  Please pray for any of the items under ‘Reality Check’ and give praise for those items under ‘Healing’.  Our Lord continues to use Rachael as a Medical Missionary, offering many opportunities to share Christ with others. There is more news coming but it deserves its own post.  This weekend I hope to have all the details. God bless you all for your prayers and thank you for your kind selfless efforts.  We stand amazed at what God is doing. As far as Nancy and I go, we looked across Rachael’s bed at each other last week after changing her and realized that we are starting to function normally in this very abnormal situation.  It was a good moment! Pray for Nancy to sustain and get her allotted daily bread of faith for strength.  Pray for me to not be angry and to control my tongue from words spoken harshly. Pray Hanna for her continued growth in Christ and school, Daniel for success and leading at Bible College. Pray for Cuddles our cat and Joy our dog  not to fight and for Joy to learn that our closet and  under Rachael’s bed are not appropriate places to go to the bathroom.  Just kidding  on praying for that …but wait, pray for all things…so go ahead. Thank you God for your mercies and for giving all of us a way out of the most difficult of struggles.  Thank you for paying the price so that one day we can see your glory, as Moses asked.  Wow, how amazing it will be to see what perfect goodness looks like!

[1] The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Ex 33:17–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.