Friday, April 29, 2011

Sleep-over, Big Oxygen and Health South Rehab!

Well, yes it has been some time.  We had a sleepover with Rachael on Easter eve.  It was a blast.  We all stayed up too late.  We played a few sophomoric but harmless tricks on the staff and we all had lots of laughs .  Hanna slept part of the night with Rachael in her bed.  Nancy and I shared an air mattress.  When I awoke, Hanna was sleeping with me on the air mattress and Nancy was gone, finding rest in the visitors lounge.  Rachael, now that she moves more, made it a bit uncomfortable for Hanna to get a good night’s sleep.  We celebrated Easter with Rachael, had communion and then departed for church.  We rejoined with Rachael later in the day.

We have begun to notice activity on Rachael’s left side.  There are very subtle voluntary movements of her arm, more of her legs and feet.  Her speech continues to improve and she remains happy most of the time.  She reacts appropriately with her emotions.

She does not like being alone.  Pretty much every night she cries after we leave.  When someone from the staff then comes into the room, she calms down, the tears dry up and she has fun until they leave.   At our request they call us if she gets too sorrowful.

Nancy has been giving Rachael drops of coffee on a Qtip!  It is part of the morning routine now.  They have coffee together.  We know the day is not far off when Rachael  will be sipping from a cup.  Now don’t tell Susan, Rachael’s Speech Therapist, but tonight I was giving Rachael small bits of Orange Sherbet.  She enjoyed the first taste of anything aside from the coffee in almost 4 months.

Well, things are changing up in quick fashion.  Rachael is going to Health South Rehab on Monday, May 2.  We love Heartland, they are like a family.  Rachael and the rest of us are so comfortable here.  These people are in our hearts until the Lord takes us.  Health South has a higher level of opportunities for some of Rachael’s needs.  They are going to work on her muscle ‘tone’ or the parts that contract regularly.   It is time to move on for the next steps in her recovery.  These folks do not want to see her go but they agree it is what is best for her at this time.  She has made some tight bonds at Heartland.  This place is outstanding.

This week Rachael started Hyperbaric treatments.  What is that?  Wikipedia (not the most accurate source of information) has pretty good information on this particular item.  Here is the link:

Basically, it is high pressure, high quality oxygen.  We breathe 21 % Oxygen in the air.  In a Hyperbaric Chamber the oxygen level is 95% with 4 psi of pressure.  It has been shown to help with various areas of healing including the brain.  We have seen some improvement in her contractions.  Her knees have been locked tight and it takes quite a bit of energy to loosen the grip of the  bear trap’.  Over the past two days we have seen some voluntary relaxation of the thighs.  She is getting better at relaxing her legs.

We will have more updates soon.  Work begins on rearranging the house for Rachael’s return sometime in June.

Keep praying for continued healing, her legs and her eyes.  She says that she sees light but we are not sure if she sees anything else.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Rachael has seemed down in the dumps a bit over the past two days but it has not wilted her desire to work.  She is doing some neat things.  Nancy and I, reading from different places in the scriptures have been meditating on God's mighty power.   Hanna, practicing her flute-a-phone was the entertainment today for a social gathering of about 15 patients!

After Job has asserted his integrity, stating his own righteous walk, Elihu a young man rebukes Job after Job's other 3 friends stop talking to Job as it is written in 32:1 "So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the younger Elihu speaks much truth but with the wrong heart for it is told in 32:2 "But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God."
Think of a couple of older guys working on a car engine, quite sure that they know which part is bad.  The younger mechanic is watching what they are doing.  Their efforts exhibiting futility, the older gents hope for a way to a graceful exit.  Agreeing that the engine is some new type that nobody can fix, they give up.  The young upstart yanks the wrench out of the hands of an elder and begins to work in the engine, on a different part with an attitude.  Cranking the wrench, pounding the engine block, lacking a seasoned touch and technique he treats the engine like a nemesis restrained for a beating in a road house brawl.  Sort of how a younger Christian might become if not under regular discipleship and remaining humble in his approach to others when sharing the gospel or mature Christians choosing to disrespectfully admonish someone.  With self righteousness being their impetus they fail to give the same grace to others that Jesus gave them.  I have done just that in my time, been there and bought the tunic!  Young Elihu 'took the wrench' if you will.  He 'Bible thumped' Job with anger at Job's condition and response.  Though offering much truth, Elihu was harsh and disrespectful.  'There is a way that seems right to a man but it's end is the way of death', just because you are right does not mean your way is.  When everyone had their say, then God spoke.  Man did he speak!   Check it out in Job 38!  God tells Job of creating the earth then moves to space and reminds Job just who it was that made the stars and constellations.  God returns with his run through the wringer of rhetorical  questions to the earth, its weather systems and his sovereignty.  Then in 40:4-5 Job answers and says
"Behold, I am of small account;
what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.

I have spoken once, and I will not answer;

twice, but I will proceed no further.”

One might think that such a statement would be a response that would be pleasing to the Lord yet God continues.  He speaks of the Behemoth and the Leviathan, the most feared creatures of their day.  He tells Job of their design, their ferocity and His complete control over them.  Job; like Jacob in his zeal, wrestling for a blessing that he could not steal or Peter 'round the fire on the seashore answering to Love, finally had more than knowledge about God, he saw God for who He is.  Anyone who is broken to the point of abandon to God has echoed in heart the words of Job when he says:
I know that you can do all things
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,

things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;

I will question you, and you make it known to me.’

5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,

but now my eye sees you;

6 therefore I despise myself,

and repent [fn1] in dust and ashes.”

A prayer in my heart over the past few days had been 'Lord, we are really relying upon you.  We are doing OUR best to remain righteous in our walk.  Nancy and I are sharpening each other.  Sometimes we are sharpening the wrong end but we quickly turn around.  Lord, we pray, we serve, we thank, we praise, we do allot.  Why then? '  It now makes me ill in spirit to think of such self focus.

Like Job With Rachael's increased cognition has come some sad days.  She acknowledges these days when asked.  She has thoughts that need to be taken captive.  Like each of us, she can fall into a sorrowful self focus and who wouldn't in her condition?  How much less are any of us suffering than those of such poor health?  Yet, either sick or well, we struggle.  After a talk today we all agree, we want to give God the glory for all things.  It is not at all about us.  It is not at all about what Rachael is going through, what Nancy is dealing with, what I am feeling, it is about Christ in Him Crucified!  It is delighting in the Lord.  It is abandoning to Him continually all our fears and cares.  It is about denying the self, killing the flesh, denying the fears, the worries and lifting up that burden that is our instrument of death of those things and follow Christ.  "It is no longer I who live"; said Paul, "but Christ who lives in me!"  A continual denial of the self.
We know God, so much is known about Him, 'You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder!' writes the Holy Spirit through James.  So what is beyond knowing God or as Job put it "I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear" He heard and it is also true that 'faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God'.  So what is the difference between hearing about God, having knowledge about Him, loving him, being 'saved'  and as Job put it 'seeing' God?
Brokenness.  As God says in Job  1:1

'There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.'

He was blameless and upright in the eyes of God.  God calls Job his servant in 1:8, Job calls God his redeemer in Job 19:25.  Job was saved.  Job had faith, the kind of faith that comes by hearing.  Why then would he have to 'see' God?
All I know is what the Bible says and what we have gone through.  We are all saved in our family, yet following this incident, there is a deeper abiding in the Lord than we have known.  From the night of January 1, we had no where else to go.  There was no entertainment to lift our spirits, there was no earthly relationship to help us along, there were no answers, there was us and Jesus.  There were so many little things.  There was a still small voice that spoke via Psalm 20 in where our trust needed to be.  We had to give it all up to Him.  Today if you ask Rachael, "Who gets the glory?"  She will tell you "God".  Our eyes remain fixed on Him and in anticipation of what is next.

I am going to be leaving my teaching position at Calvary Chapel School at the end of this school year.  With the workload of school beyond the hours that we teach, there is not enough time for that wonderful ministry and the demands set forth with Rachael's needs.  I do not yet know what I will be doing and as I have done in the past, toss my future in God's hands, not as an irresponsible act, but as a step in faith.  He will setup my next role in work.  The ministry is pretty well defined.  Nancy has already left her position at the school and has been attending to Rachael full time since the accident.  We remain abandoned to Him.  Yes we will stumble and get a focus for the time on ourselves or maybe on some worldly desire but we keep a sharp lookout for such things and dismiss them quickly.  There are times it is not easy.  Christ always offers the lighter burden, we just have a hard time rolling the old pack off our backs on occasion.

God is being and will continue to be glorified in this.  Rachael continues to improve each day and I promise more footage soon.  Nancy is rock solid and we are making plans for Rachael's mobility and further rehab and eventual trip home sometime in July.

My prayer for you is that you dismiss yourself from the many trappings in life that we think are of a high priority.  Stay away from coveting 'things', be thankful for a swallow, being able to sit up, going to the bathroom when you want, where you want, chewing and eating.  So many things like our very breath we do without a thought.  Yet it takes much thought.  It took the thought of Him who breathed life into dirt and made us in His image.  "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Please pray for us as well that we continue to be and seek to be abandoned to Him who sits on the throne!  There is not a molecule that he does not know about, there is not a thought he does not see.  He is the almighty God, maker of heaven and earth!  Invisible, huge, always existing, all knowing and every place.  Yet, for a while He made Himself a man to suffer like none have ever suffered to die with our sins and rise again from the dead, victorious.  Why sulk?  Your sins have been forgiven!  Accept this gift from  God.

How To Delight Yourself In The Lord:
If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath
from doing your pleasure  on my holy day,

and call the Sabbath a delight

and the holy day of the LORD honorable;

if you honor it, not going your own ways,

or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;

14 then you shall take delight in the LORD,

and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; 

I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”      Isiah 58:13-14

What Is The Result?

Trust in the LORD, and do good;

dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. [fn2]

4 Delight yourself in the LORD,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.      Psalm 37:3-4

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Rachael Hinkle is a lefty, a south paw, left handed.  Since the accident, there has only been one time that we saw activity from her left arm.  Her left arm has been limp since then.  Until today that is.  Today Rachael began to move her left arm on command. It is much weaker than her right arm but is proof that she continues to heal.  I noticed it today when I was moving her arm to adjust her position.  I saw movement when I laid it onto the bed.  Also noted was that her wrist was up and has been completely relaxed for all these months.  I asked her to move it several times and she did, lifting it up a bit.  So we have another big stitch, voluntary movement of the left arm.

Please pray for her peace of mind and rest.  Rachael is moving up the Ranchos scale and the next level is frustration and anger along with a focus on basic needs being met.  Like a child, someone at this level will cry out for their needs.  She is getting much more vocal.  She is also getting frustrated.

With that said, she is also laughing at general talk in the room and speaking several words, though not clearly, she is doing her best.  One CNA is practicing I Love You with her.  She is a great CNA and I have not spoken to her for permission to offer her name online but when I do I will share with you how compassionate she is.

We noticed this week that Rachael has better tongue control, lip movement and deeper vocal sounds.  Her voice is getting stronger.  She is off the Foley and has been doing things on her own in that regard.  That is a big deal as well.

Ok, that is it.  Nancy and Hanna are home today taking care of household things, spending time together and making cookies for the staff.  She is bringing my video camera so that we can shoot some vid of Rachael moving her left arm.

There is a patient here, let us call her Miss A. Miss A is confused about things as she has lived a long time.  Hanna visits her (and others here as well) and enjoys her conversations.  Miss A now knows Hanna and speaks of her.  Well the other day, Hanna asked Miss A if she knew the Lord Jesus.  Miss A replied that she did and quoted scripture to Hanna.  Hanna rocks.  She visits with patients and staff and chooses to come here.  She learned to sew last week and is making Miss A a pillow.  She is very helpful with Rachael's needs and is involved with her daily support.  The Lord is carving a grand Godly character in Hanna through this experience.

Ok, gotta go.  Our God is incredible and we are so excited to see what he is going to do next.

To God Be The Glory!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How Is Rachael Doing? - Watch

As you will see, Rachael is gaining control of her mouth and tongue.  The simple act of voluntarily controlling her tongue is huge as it is requisite to her swallowing food and speaking.  Each day brings something new.

Rachael is only into her 4th month of recovery.   It has been decided that she is now a solid Ranchos 3.  Upon entering Rehab she was considered by the Heartland team to be a low 2 to solid 1.

God is greatly using the most excellent staff of Heartland in Sarasota.  We thank them for their great work and compassion.

Rachael's  ability to understand is quite higher than her ability to physically respond.  As far as processing and mental cognition, she is considered a 4 but physically a 3.  She has been able to identify the last 4 digits of her phone number and her birthday!  With the voluntary control of her tongue, arms and hands returning, she is able to participate more effectively in her rehabilitation.

We thank you for your continued prayers.  As you can see, the prayers of the righteous avail much.  The only reason she is healing is due to the power of Christ.  God gets all the glory for her progress.  Prayer after prayer has been answered.  We have a long road to go down yet but with the gang at Heartland, Dr. Simon, Paige her assistant and your prayers and most importantly Jesus Christ, we anticipate great things.  I would be a fool to leave out the incredible love that Nancy is showing Rachael.  She is with her everyday.  She has been working her arms and legs to sustain range of motion.  She has been Rachael's diligent unwavering nurse since January 1.  The incredible physical effort she puts forth shames me.  God gave Nancy a desire to become a massage therapist, he introduced her to Dr. Berkus, husband of Dr. Simon, several months before the accident.  He placed in Nancy's heart the desire to learn new sports stretching techniques taught by Aaron Mattes last summer.  All of this has come into play to equip Nancy, a Registered Nurse, with the skills specifically needed by Rachael.  I am learning as I go from Nancy and CNA's at Heartland.  Rachael has a loving team of support.  You are on that team.
Thank You.


And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Kiss Just Ain't A Kiss

I will make this short as we have SATs in the morn and we are zonked from a night with Rachael.  Here is what is happening:

Rachael is saying Mom, Hanna, Daniel, Burt, Yes, No and K.  She is not articulate  but she is working very hard with her mouth and lips to say words.  She is understanding when asked to "say it louder", she is understanding questions like "is Daniel your brother?"; is "Hanna your sister?"  She responds by raising her arm.  She is also squinting her eyes on command. She laughs alot, she cries alot.  She is starting to pull away from her contractions by moving her head more to the left and her arm down.  We are having these events documented.   They ARE REPEATABLE AND VOLUNTARY.

To God Be The Glory!!  Tonight she wanted to pray so we prayed together.  To top off the evening, I asked her to give her mom a kiss.  She pursed her lips and Nancy leaned to get a kiss on the cheek.  We asked if I could get one, she rolled her head to the left, pursed her lips, stretched her neck and with a feather light touch, she kissed my cheek!  These events are HUGE!  We have been in contact with a very excited Dr's. Office and expect evaluation soon to see what the Rachos level is now.

PLEASE KEEP PRAYING.  We were told there was very little hope in the begginning.  The MRI's and the CAT Scan offered the ' proof .  Well, what they don't show is a Holy Spirit.  Maybe that is what they need, instead of ta CAT Scan, maybe get a Christ Scan, instead of MRI, Adoni.  God is working a wonder and to Him is all the Glory!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yes and No, Great News!

Today is 3 months to the day; as I look, almost to the hour of that night.  Well, today, all day, for several folks, Rachael raised her arm for yes and lowered it for no.  RACHAEL HINKLE IS COMMUNICATING!

She has been laughing at things funny and at appropriate times.  We have seen bits and pieces of her cognition raising, as I said an 'upward trend' but today is a day to celebrate a milestone.  We are prepared for a dip in cognition and then a pop back.  It is the way of this injury and healing.  Yet, we had today!  We do hope that God will bless this as something consistent, a new stage.

Nancy called me throughout the day with updates.  It started out as another difficult morning.  Each morning when Nancy shows up, Rachael cries aloud.  She will mellow out after a while then the day will don one of three options: teeth grinding, responsiveness or laid back Rachael.  Yesterday was a grinder.  She was impacted by the storming outside and inside or so we think.  She had a very high heart rate, around 130 at peaks but very erratic.  She was sweating with expressions of fear and hurt.  Today it was a complete turnaround for her.  We think that maybe these neuro-storms are part of the healing.

Here is some background regarding staying in God's will and accepting what he offers.  When we were moving Rachael from Health South Ridge Lake, we had really tried to get her into Health South Rehab.  We met with the CEO of HSR after being declined. Following that meeting, the management level staff from several departments reviewed Rachael and decided that she could not benefit from their services at that time.  We were quite sad at that result.  We had prayerfully sought the Lord's will and all the doors closed with the exception of Heartland.  We looked at that as the bottom shelf option.  Honest.  We sat at Living Word (a local Christian bookstore) and placed the call to Heartland to initiate Rachael's transfer.  The first person we met on the phone as we spoke turned out to be a sister in Christ.  We both revisited the fact that  God is in charge.  Wow, does he get the best result!  TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

The staff at Heartland are excellent.  They are compassionate and loving.   There are more than just a few born again believers Heartland.  We have been blessed with meeting many of them.  Most of the folks there had very little experience with someone in Rachael's condition.  Trache care had to be trained.  There were some jittery nerves working around her.  I have not mentioned this before but her doctor has suffered an injury that kept her off her feet for the past 2 months.  She is a wonderful person and doctor, married to a very supportive husband, both dutifully supported by their aide.  So our doctor has been physically absent.  Heartland is not an acute care center.  Rachael was still at a level that required more monitoring than a the average patient at Heartland.  So the setup was:

  1. Sick doctor

  2. Inexperienced staff.

  3. Lack of critical care resources for monitoring and metrics.

Sounds like trouble, eh?  Looking at it in the 'horizontal', looking at it from a non-God point of view, there would be little hope of great result.  Keep vertical!  We kept resting in our Lord, knowing that he was in full charge.  God has set up such a compassionate staff at Heartland Intermed.  The nurses really care. There are several CNA's that go way beyond their call.  One of them is John.  He has been checking in on Rachael and playing games with her.  One of them is a peek-a-boo game where he gets her to close her eyes.  If she opens them he says "you peeked" and she closes them tight again, laughing all the way.  This has been going on for a few weeks as well as other private jokes between them like 'searching for Elvis'  We had no idea of the stimulating interaction and play that John has brought to the table.  As soon as he walks in and greets Rachael, she smiles or laughs and tries to talk.  We believe that part of the result of today is due to John.  Another person that has been huge in all of this is a woman named Susan.  She works in speech therapy at Heartland.  She has connected with Rachael.  It was Susan that got the yes and no from Rachael today.

So with Rachael we were able to get her to raise her hand for Yes and keep it lowered to her stomach if she wanted to communicate 'no'.  Her responses are nearly immediate.

She is trying to speak as well.  When asked to laugh she fakes a laugh,  when asked to do it louder, she repeats it but louder.  If she is asked to raise her arm she does, if it is stated "do it again"  she raises it again.  She knows what 'it'  and 'again' is!  Today she tried to say Mom, Hanna and one.  It was obvious that she was trying to repeat those words. It was such a huge day.

Pray for a restoration of her eye sight.  We have no indications that she can see.  Even today with some 'yes' and 'no' tests with lights, there was no evidence she sees.  The only thing we have is that she squints at facing the sun.

I am going to check spelling and ship this out as I want you  guys to know.  Friends, this is a miracle.  This is way beyond expectations set forth by her Doctors prior to her current doctor.  She had faith from the start that Rachael would improve.  This is an answer to YOUR prayer!  We know this to be true.  So please:

POUR ON THE PRAYER!  Keep it going.  I will shoot some video and get it up here when I can.

God bless you all for the prayers!!

Oh yes, one of the questions was "do you love Jesus?"  Her arm rose up, launched by a smile. YES!