Other people may chart the progress of their lives on Facebook timelines, or by anniversary dates. I wonder if we won’t chart Dan’s illnesses by the dates that he had tubes or cords removed. So far he’s had the PICC line removed, the plasmapheresis port on his neck removed, the ventilator tube removed from down his throat and then the one which was inserted just above his collarbone, the nasal cannula removed, the telemetry unit that was taped to his forehead for three months, the stick-on sensors that were on his chest for four months and the unmentionable tube removed. On Wednesday he had his PEG or feeding tube removed as he is now able to swallow pills and chew and swallow food. (Oh well, we’ll never again get to see a nurse check his “residual” by extracting his stomach contents with a giant hypodermic thingee. Can’t say I’ll miss that either.)
On Monday he will undergo a general anesthesia procedure like the one he underwent on February 6. His urologist will go through the stent in his ureter to blast kidney stones with a laser. Dan has developed five new significant stones since February, and the stent must be removed as well. Pray for this procedure, and for the stones; that this, too, will pass. :)
We had a team meeting with all his therapists and his doctor, and we have exciting news! Dan will be coming home on May 4! I’ve gone through the house praising God that He put on my heart to design this house as completely handicap accessible – you can wheel through the house via the garage with no steps and no changes of level through the entire bottom floor. The shower is very large and designed to wheel a big shower chair into. Our friend Dennis Snyder is on the hunt for a Ford Transit Connect van with a wheelchair lift, and friend Steve Varley is going to build ramps for the small steps out the kitchen and front doors. And our friend Helen King, upon the passing of her mother, gave us a hospital bed, hoyer lift, and other supplies. We are deeply grateful for the kindness of friends. We remember and praise God for all of you who have sacrificed your time to help us through the hospitalization period. I don’t even want to start naming people because there have been so many of you. Even people who don’t live in New Mexico have done great things for us. God knows and will reward you. Thank you, thank you so much.
The sobering part of this process is that Dan is technically a quadriplegic. He can move his arms but other than the ability to punch certain “soft touch” buttons and use the crook between his thumb and forefinger to maneuver a joystick, he cannot use his hands yet. There is movement in his legs but he cannot use them in any sense. He cannot perform any of the “ADL” (activities of daily life) unaided yet. He will come home in a motorized wheelchair with a special pad that will allow him to spend much of the day in it, lifting and reclining him to avoid pressure sores. We are also hoping that the health plan will pay for the special mattress which turns him from side to side at night.
Our children and the hospital personnel have told me again and again that I am not physically able to care for Dan at home alone. Therefore at least at first we will be hiring someone to come to our home and help him with getting out of bed, showering, dressing him, transfers between the wheelchair and other places, monitoring medications and other important tasks. At least for a week or two this will be fulltime as we assess the needs.
Our other good news is that, by the grace, mercy, and help of God, I have completed the 70,000 word manuscript with my co-author, archaeologist and scholar Dr. Steve Collins. (He did the digging, I did the writing :) We signed the contract in the ICU on December 28 and the book will arrive, God willing, to our publisher Howard/Simon & Schuster on May 1. I have let other writing projects slide to complete this because the publisher needs this book as soon as possible. A National Geographic special was filmed last fall in Jordan on Dr. Collins’s discovery. Watch for it to air soon!
So, God willing, a chapter of our lives will close as Dan leaves the hospital next week, and a new chapter with rewards and challenges awaits us. I believe with all my heart that Dan will recover from this horrific illness and be able to cast away all these devices that for now are so essential.
Dan has had a few “blue” episodes as the enormity of this transition has hit us both. But he found great encouragement when I asked him to look around at many of the other people in the rehab center. Dan wasn’t driving recklessly like the injured young woman down the hall. He didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs that brought on GBS. He didn’t abuse his body with overeating like the five-hundred pound man we see in the dining room. In other words, nothing we know of was a factor in bringing on his condition, nor is there any way he could have done something to prevent it. Therefore he need waste no time with remorse over what he might have done. We look to the future and our hope.
I am feeling energized and excited about having Dan back home. The challenges are going to be great, and we must look to God for our aid and help in this very present time of trouble. But my goodness, look how far we’ve come! God be praised!
If it is at all possible Dan would like to come to church again soon and personally thank the Mountainside Church of Christ for their extraordinary service to our family. Every facility in which Dan has resided in the last five months has employees who marveled at the love and kindness of our Christian friends and loving business associates and others.
After the first few days we’ll look forward to short visits from friends who can rejoice with us to see Dan back home.
Keep us in your prayers. Selfishly I ask for special prayers for my physical and mental endurance, please. Our God has helped in the past and will surely do so again. He’s the point of all this, not Dan nor me. Pray that we will be able to glorify Him in all we think, say and do.