Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 31 – “Team April”

Yesterday April was taken off her sedatives in hopes of her waking up enough to take her off the vent.  That's going to be a long process.  She was too sleepy to maintain breathing on her own, but she did manage to follow Nathan's gentle commands.  I think she even kept her eyes open long enough to glare at him once or twice when he kept pushing her to stay awake.  Definitely some flashes of good ol' April.  Nathan said she held her eyes open the longest to look at pictures of Cailyn.  Nothing quite like the drive of a Mommy. 
Many people asked about donating blood.  That is for sure a possibility.  Come to UTMB John Sealy Hospital Annex Room #5.212.  They are open Mon - Fri 8am - 4:30pm.  The blood bank guy said he would collect the vouchers as people donate blood, and then Nathan can pick them up from him.  The vouchers are for $20 off of anything the insurance doesn't pay on the hospital bills. 
The fire department family has begun an effort to help out Nathan and April with medical bills and day to day expenses.  Along with covering his shifts, they have set up a benefit party on February 25th at the firemen's union hall.  They will be selling fish dinners and chicken dinners. There will be live music, and silent auction items.  I heard everything from a deep sea fishing trip to two weeks of swimming lessons at the YMCA to law service to artwork will be in the auction.  And if anyone has something they can donate, please let me know and I will get it to them. 
They also set up a bank account for donations to help with medical bills and day to day expenses.  Donations can be sent to:
April Vaughan Benefit
C/O Texas First Bank
P.O. Box 3399
Galveston, Texas 77552
There is also a paypal account in the works for those who live online.  That will be available in a few days.
Please check out the FaceBook page they have set up under "TeamApril."  It will have updates on her condition as well as on the benefits. 
Thanks so much to everyone who has been encouraging us through this.  Please keep the prayers coming.
Galatians 6:9-10 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
Father, thank you for the expressions of love we have seen so far.  Would you give April a little nudge to help her wake up and breathe on her own?  Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30 – “Benefit to come”

Yesterday was assigned to be a day of rest. Not just by God. The docs told Nathan in the morning that they were going to keep April just under the "knockout point" (my words, not his), so they can focus on the infection and she can get some rest. The infectious disease doc said he considers April his biggest challenge and the most important case he has right now. Test results should begin coming back today and should be arriving throughout the week. They did indicate that the parvo test was negative. Nathan showed he still has a sense of humor. He was excited that now we are sure she’s not a dog.

She does come to the surface on occasion, though, and she responds to what is happening. When Nathan told her he was coming to play with Cailyn she tried her best to open her eyes and look at him. Guess she couldn't completely focus, though. Yes, Nathan came over to play with Cailyn yesterday afternoon. It was good to see the smile on his face and the hugs they exchanged. He stayed long enough to put her down for her nap. Nice afternoon.
Folks have begun bringing food, and that has been a big help. Nathan hasn't been eating well, but he wolfed down a whole bowl of chicken soup for lunch. He shared one anecdote with me. A friend of April's Dad came to the hospital. He is a Christian, and he told Nathan that he had not felt comfortable about coming to the hospital for some reason. So he had been praying at home and had enlisted his church to join him. Yesterday he woke up with a definite peace in his heart, so they came to show their support. Nathan's response was what encouraged me. He told the guy that for some reason he woke up with a strange sense of peace as well. He told him to tell his church that "it worked."
The fire department had as meeting yesterday to begin work on a benefit activity for Nathan and April. They are planning a big fish or chicken dinner extravaganza on February 25th. Details are still in the works, but there will be a silent auction, so if anyone has items they can donate for that, let me know. I heard things like a deep sea fishing trip and lawn mowing among others. There will also be a carnival of sorts with a dunk tank. Sounded like that has been a big hit for them in the past. Along with captains and each other, they are trying to get city council candidates and police officers to volunteer to be dunked.
They also will be setting up a bank account at Texas First Bank for donations to be received to help with medical and day to day expenses. I'll find out more about that this afternoon. Seaside took up an offering yesterday for them, and a few others have given money directly to Nathan. And that's in addition to the great outpouring of love and encouragement they have felt over the last week-that-feels-like-an-eternity.
Isaiah 56:6-7 says, "And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant — these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations."
Father, thank you for the outpouring of love being shown to Nathan and April. Thank you especially for the peace Nathan felt yesterday. Give him more of that. Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 29 – “Brrr-y”

I had to start off this post with one of Cailyn's favorite words.  Brrr-y.  Actually I'm not sure how many R's should be in there.  That's a factor of just how cold it really is outside.  It didn't get too bad on the island last night.  Just around 47.  I heard over in Texas it was supposed to hit the 30's.  That's way too Brrrrr-y for me.
The docs weren't able to wean April off the ventilator after all yesterday.  Her lungs showed evidence of more fluid buildup, so they kept her on the machine to give her time to rest after surgery and them time to discover if the fluid was the result of a new secondary infection or the original mystery one.  The good news was that when they brought her up closer to consciousness, she was able to follow the simple commands like "squeeze my hand."  She is still hanging in there and fighting.   Nathan is hanging in there, too, but as the days go on, he is getting pretty tired.  He doesn't sleep much, and he's very frustrated that there is absolutely nothing he can do.  Of course.  He's a fire fighter.  He saves people for a living. 
I have been trying to read my new Stephen King novel.  Actually I think it's the first one by him I have ever read.  I've seen some of the movies based on his book.  This one is quite the endeavor, though.  It's about two inches thick.  Has over 800 pages.  It's a very engaging story, though.  All about some guy going back in time and trying to stop the assassination of President Kennedy.  It could do without the foul language and still tell the story.  Anyway, reading in the intensive care waiting is kind of hard for a natural people watcher.  And even when there were few people around, I kept getting interrupted by some breaking news about April or by a breaking nap.          
Headed to church in a few minutes.  I'll have to really preserve my speaking voice, though.  It's already raspy just from talking to Cailyn about breakfast and the wedding section of the newspaper and which dress she picked out for church.  That's another good thing about her being a girl.  I really don't have to say much.
Isaiah 55:6-7 says, "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon."
Father, we are really seeking you on behalf of April.  Even if we can't see it yet, find her.  Amen.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 28 – “Surgery”

April had surgery last night to remove her spleen.  The doctors waited virtually all day with the surgery team on standby.  They were hoping the bleeding would stop on its own.  The surgeon called in to do the procedure was the head of the trauma surgical team.  He's the guy they call to do emergency operations after car wrecks and the like.  Talk about the best guy for the job.  He told us after the surgery that the spleen and blood vessels around it were really inflamed.  The spleen itself had two holes in it, so the blood loss issues was happening right there.  She had a lot of blood pooled in her abdomen, and that was causing most of her breathing issues.  The surgery went well.  She was to spend last night on the ventilator and sedated to allow her to rest without having to worry about "minor" issues like pain and breathing.  They will wean her off the ventilator today.
She is definitely not out of the woods yet, though.  Her liver was swollen as well, and that's a pretty important organ they will be watching.  There is still an infection that they haven't determined a cause for yet.  The best minds from the infectious disease team came by yesterday to draw blood and begin their search in earnest.  They are testing for everything from legionnaire's disease to lyme disease to parvo (Yep.  That's the disease one of our dogs had).  My sister-in-law Sue, who is a doctor at the medical center in Houston and who is familiar with April's history, faxed over some of her old records.  She also talked to the doctors at UTMB.  When they found out April was her niece, they really stepped it up a notch.  Gotta take care of their own, so to speak.  Fine by us. 
Cailyn once again got to spend some time with her cousins Jachin, Micah, and Josiah.  This time they came over to our house, so Mom was able to enjoy their presence as well.  We ordered a pizza or two for them before we headed up to the hospital.  As the night wore on, Kel took the boys on home, and Aunt Christina read six or eight Princess books to Cailyn before she finally fell asleep. 
Today I really need to find some time to go over the sermon and teaching for pastor's class.  Sure hope I can get through both of them tomorrow.  (Tomorrow is Sunday, isn't it?)  I have had a lot of drainage in the back of my throat, so I've been coughing a lot, and can't talk for very long at a time.  Guess that means good news for the congregation – short sermon.  Times like this I appreciate the people at Seaside.  They are quite forgiving.
Isaiah 55:1-2 says, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."
Father, now that the spleen is out of the picture, please give clarity to the docs who are searching for a way to heal April.  And we would be really happy with a miracle about now.  Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2012

January 27 – “Hard to focus”

Paramount on our minds over the last few days has been the condition of our daughter-in-law April, Nathan's wife.  She is still in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at UTMB.  And her condition is still a mystery to doctors.  It's a case that most certainly could be, and probably should be, assigned more to the TV show House than to the real lives of this small-town, simple Galveston family.  Josh drove down from San Antonio to give Nathan some support, and April's Dad is due here in the morning from Corpus Christi.
The doctors tried once again to put in a central IV line.  And once again failed.  April's veins just seem to collapse.  They were able to get a picc line in (that's like the one I had in for a few months back when I had that MRSA infection).  They also managed to complete an arterial line so they could keep a more accurate reading on her blood pressure.  She has been on a machine off and on that helps her take deeper breaths in an effort to keep her oxygen saturation levels up.  When she tries to talk they drop into the 80's and even 70's instead of staying near 100.  Her blood is not producing enough white cells to fight off infection, so she is on doses of two different antibiotics, and she has received two units of blood.  Her lymph nodes are swollen, as are her liver and spleen.  And her spleen is bleeding.  They are watching that carefully, with an emergency surgery team standing by in case it ruptures.  Results on bone marrow biopsies are due back today.  There are a number of other things going on as well, believe it or not.  And the doctors are still stumped as to the root cause. 
Our list of people offering up prayers has grown to 29 different sites.  The fire-fighting community has been tremendous in encouraging us.  Cailyn has been a little trooper through the whole ordeal.  She just knows her Mommy is sick, and she always has a sweet prayer for her when we eat and go to bed.  Nathan is trying to stay strong, especially when he is with April or Cailyn.  But the sheer exhaustion is wearing on him.  I guess we are getting pretty tired as well, though certainly not on his scale.  That's what being a parent, and a friend, and Christian family is all about.  Being there at any time, any place, for however long it takes. 
Cailyn spent some time playing with her cousins yesterday.  They went to Chick-fil-A and got to see a guy dressed up like a cow.  Now that would be a fun job as long as it wasn't a hot day.  It was good to walk in and hear Josiah's welcoming cry, "Nani and DadDad."  And it never hurts to get one of those hugs that only a toddler can give.  We were going to leave for San Antonio for Caleb's birthday today.  Looks like if we go it will be a quick trip down and back tomorrow.  I have the basics down for the sermon Sunday, but I sure haven't spent much time on it.  Many have asked if there is anything we need or anything you can do for us.  Please keep the prayers coming.  Beyond that, it reminds me of the feelings we had after Hurricane Ike.  I don't know for sure what we need, so I don't know how to answer.  As the flow of this post shows, it's just been hard to stay focused. 
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Father, it always helps to remember that.  Pretty basic stuff, but sometimes I forget.  Thanks for being there.  Amen. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 26 – “A mass of medical mess”

Our day started out with a trip to Houston for Mom's neurologist follow-up appointment.  Cailyn was still with us, so she rode along.  Her and Mom slept the whole way up there.  Wait.  So did I.  So glad Chris was driving.  We were right in the middle of the downpour that came through Houston around noon.  No problems with flooding, though.  When we got there we found out that Mom's supplemental medical insurance had lapsed.  I called to check on it, and hopefully that will be resolved today.  It did mean a bit more out of our pocket than we expected.  That's an easy fix, though.  It's only money, right? 
The neurologist did the exam and basically said that Mom has Alzheimer's.  It's just affecting her differently than it did Dad.  He never slept.  She sleeps all the time.  She has slipped further down in memory recall and confusion and balance.  The next step is to increase one medication and add another.  But we understand that what we are looking for at this point is quality of life.  Tough call. 
Once we made it back home, we took Cailyn up to UTMB to see her Mommy and Daddy.  Cailyn was happy to see them, but April barely opened her eyes the whole time.  She was feeling pretty punked out.  It was tough getting Cailyn to come home with us willingly.  She was hoping to stay with her Daddy at least.  But he was worried and hesitant to leave April's side, so we made it out OK.  Chris had the idea to text Nathan and give him a message from her.  Her message was sweet, but didn't calm Cailyn down much.  So I took her phone and handed it to Cailyn and told her to send him one of her own.  It took a second or two for that to register, but once she got started she took off, punching line after line of characters onto the screen.  She even occasionally mumbled what she was writing, "Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy.  Mommy sick.  Mommy get all better.  Daddy stay with her.  Doctors see Mommy make her all better."  Finally the mumbling turned to nervous laughter and then to hysterical giggling when I showed her how to push the send button.  I think Nathan got six or eight very strange texts before I got a turn and clued him in on what was happening.  Mine read something like, "Cailyn sends many hugs and kisses to Mommy and Daddy."  That was all I could get in before she took the phone back and began again. 
Nathan texted us around eleven that April was being admitted to the intensive care unit, so I hurried back out there.  After the earlier onslaught of every test in the book relating to hematology and cardiology and a few other ologies, the last thing I heard that they were working on before Nathan and I left around 1:30 was that she has some kind of mystery infection that has affected the lining surrounding her lungs (as I understand it, that is the definition of pleurisy).  X-rays showed fluid in that lining and in her abdomen.  Thankfully, the tests did show that there was no involvement with the blood clots she has had a problem with since her teen years (Sounds so long ago, right?  She's not even thirty yet).  The trip to ICU scared them both (Who am I kidding?  It scared all of us at least a little).  Her fever spiked again to 102+, her heart was racing, her oxygen saturation levels were in the low 80's (should be in the high 90's at least), and she was panting.  The rapid response team was called in and they sent her to ICU so she could have one on one care at least through the night, and probably until they discover for sure just what she has.  Once she got there, they were going to put in a central IV line, but couldn't get it in.  They decided to wait until later in the morning to try again if she still needed it. 
By the way, the list of places where people are praying for her has grown to 25.  Thank you all so much, and please don't stop.  Spending a few days with Nani and DadDad is great, but Cailyn misses her Mommy and Daddy.
Isaiah 53:11 says, "After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities."
Father, could you also send some extra bearing of pain and illness our way?  It's getting kind of heavy around here.  Thanks.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 25 – “Mommy to the hospital”

The big news from yesterday is that April was admitted to the hospital.  We picked up Cailyn in the morning since April has not been feeling well.  She's had fever off and on for about five days, but she was determined to take a test for her nursing school class.  I think she made it through the test, but then she started having pretty severe pains in her chest, and when some of them started toying with the idea of crawling down her left arm she got really scared.  Nathan was at a fire fighters' training event, but she called him anyway, so she must have been really hurting.  He left immediately, with the blessing of his captain, and took her to the clinic.  As the pain worsened they decided to go on to the emergency room. 
God was watching over them.  The ER was having one of those rare slack days.  Plus, they "just happened" to know someone who was working there, so she was ushered right to the triage area and was seen quickly.  April has a history of blood clots, so that was the primary concern.  X-rays didn't seem to show anything, and they were waiting for a cat scan to make absolutely sure.  In fact it looks like before they let her go home they will do a "complete heart workup," whatever that means.  The guarded diagnosis seems to be pleurisy.  Nathan said that's an infection in the tissue surrounding the lungs.  Chris said it is very painful.  That's my two medical geniuses.  I leave all medical stuff in their hands. 
Of course all of that took place over a period of … well, the entire day, so Cailyn spent the night with us last night.  Kind of tough to explain that situation to a just-turned-three-year-old.  But she prayed an incredibly sweet, totally unprompted prayer for her Mommy after we got in bed.  She mentioned Mommy, and doctors and Daddy and making her feel all better.  And she ended with a triumphant "Amen."  I wouldn't be surprised if, at that particular moment, April's pain level dropped at least a little bit.  Kids' prayers are awesome.  We hope to take her up to the hospital today to check in with Mommy and Daddy.  Hope that works out.
Isaiah 53:9 says, "He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth."
Father, thank you for going through what you did to make it possible for us to have a relationship with you.  Amazing.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January 24 – “Parenting consistency”

I finally got our grass mowed for the winter yesterday.  I know.  It's Galveston.  The winter is pretty much over now.  It's just that I finally got a day I could go borrow the lawn mower from Nathan and April.  Ours refuses to start.  Again.  I know the feeling.  Anyway, I got the front and back mowed.  And edged. 
Cailyn stayed with us for the day as well.  Her Mom started back to school again, so we'll be seeing her regularly again.  And right off the bat she rediscovered two of the extremely fragile that Chris' Mom made. They are the kind where the head and extremities are made of porcelain.  These in particular look like sleeping infants, wearing handmade dresses.  Very impressive.  Of course Cailyn, being a girl through and through, wanted to pick them up and snuggle with them.  Chris patiently explained their fragility, but encouraged her to look at them.  Cailyn stroked them oh-so gently and talked softly to them.  Very sweet.  Later on I was with her, and she asked me if she could pick them up.  Checking out our parenting consistency.  I told her the same thing Chris did.  This time she again stroked them lovingly, then bent over and kissed each one on the forehead.  Then she turned to me with her finger to her mouth and shh'ed me.  Said they were sleeping.  So I suggested we leave the room.  She agreed.  Just a bit later we were walking down the hall toward the kitchen, when she abruptly detoured into the bedroom again and went straight to the babies.  I asked what she was doing.  That got me an abbreviated, but still developing form of "the Look," that quality of females that is reserved for males in their lives who do or say things totally inconsistent with that incomprehensible female logic.  She informed me in no uncertain terms, "You woke them up."  She performed her little ritual again, and I guess they went back to sleep.  I got an extra dose of shhh, and we left the room.
Chris went to see her Dad in the afternoon.  The last time she was there he talked about wanting oatmeal for breakfast and even responded with a heartfelt "No" when she asked if he wanted coffee.  He has never liked coffee.  But he never opened his eyes.  Later that night the hospital called to tell her he had been placed in ICU because he had a nosebleed.  Not a great thing for someone on blood thinners.  They had tried to call her brother but it went straight to his voicemail.  So yesterday she went to check on him again.  One of his lungs had almost completely filled up with gunky fluid, so they still had him in ICU on a respirator.  Chris was able to fill the nurse in on some of his medical history.
After she left Cailyn and I played some catch in the backyard, and then I told her that Nani told me I had to rest for a while.  I asked if she would lay down with me and help me read books.  She graciously agreed.  Who can argue with the word of Nani?  She stayed with me until both of us dozed off.  The phone ringing woke me up, but she stayed asleep for and hour and a half.  Pretty good afternoon. 
Isaiah 53:7 says, "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
Father, give Chris' Dad some relief today, and speak into his confusion.  Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 23 – “A pastoral oops”

Yoikes.  Something happened to me yesterday that is the nightmare of all us pastors who aren't smart enough to memorize everything we want to say in a sermon.  Now, as a bit of background here, it was one of those weeks where God kind of "last-minutes" me.  Saturday night and even into Sunday morning I was still trying to get down just what he was leading me to do. 
First, I had to find the right scene from the movie King Arthur to use as a time context-setter for the Biblical Backgrounds class that happens before church.  Then, since we are returning to our study of the book of Esther in worship time after a pause for advent and Christmas, I redid the introductory historical setting powerpoint to include biblical history from the beginning of time.  Not an easy stunt, but it was fun.  I read the history summary as quickly as I could, and the sound guy flipped the powerpoint pictures according to the script I gave him.  The people especially seemed to get a kick out of the picture I chose to represent Abraham.  Every person there recognized Abraham Lincoln. 
And then came the worship time.  It was a creative approach to worship using the names of God.  I did the Esther background intro, and even read a few more verses into chapter two.  Then, I had a grab bag with 25 names of God in Hebrew and Greek with their English equivalent, all printed out on strips of paper with the Scripture verse on the back.  I selected five people to each draw out a slip.  I gave a quick summary of the context and read the verses.  After the fifth one the plan was to draw the conclusions, make the applications, and move into the praise and worship portion.  Between each song we would draw more names of God.  The problem was, in all the changes and confusion of preparing everything I forgot to print out the last page of my teaching notes.  The page that had two quotations I planned to read and the transitions into worship as well as the pastoral prayer for the conclusion of the service.  Nothing.  Not there.  Gone.  Crazy feeling.  At that point I did some fast adlibbing, so I hope it went OK.  I know that when the people started adding some of the personal names they had for God, it was awesome.  You would have thought maybe God had something to do with what was going on.
Isaiah 53:8-9 says, "By oppression  and judgment he was taken away.  And who can speak of his descendants?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.  He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth."
Father, thank you for invading the service yesterday in spite of my miscue.  Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22 – “Missing the monster trucks”

We got to spend the night with Josiah last night.  Not that we slept at his house.  We were just there until around midnight.  His Mom and Dad and two older brothers went to Houston to watch that monster truck extravaganza.  They do it every year with Christina's Dad.  They thought about taking Josiah, because he would love the trucks.  But then it's really difficult for a less-than-two-year-old to sit relatively still for the two or three hours of the show.  Hey, it's difficult for me to sit through a show that lasts one hour. 
They figured to be back around 10:30 or so, based on the reports of Christina's sister who went last week.  She said they left around 9.  Come to find out, that's when the intermission started.  Kel said there were so many wrecks and red flags that he didn't think they would ever leave.  I thought wrecks were the whole point in something like that.  But he did explain that it was hard to continue the show when one of the monsters flipped over on its back and blocked everyone else's path.  I pictured a gigantic monster turtle with legs flopping around aimlessly toward the sky.  When the show finally ended they got stuck in the parking lot along with the thousands of other cars trying to go home.  So they got back sometime after 11:20. 
"Why 11:20?" you may ask.  I remember that time because Mom's watch is stuck on 11:20.  Around 6:30 she was ready to go to bed, since her watch said it was 11:20.  Then about every hour or so she made another attempt to find whichever bed she was supposed to sleep in.  I don't anticipate it being very easy to get her out of bed today. 
Josiah was great, of course.  He's really beginning to jabber a lot, and every now and then I was able to understand him.  I got "Eat" with no trouble, and he added "cheese sammitch" to that one.  Actually Chris made him one.  He opened it up, licked the full length of it, then handed it back to her.  Guess he just need a quick taste.  We started watching TV at one point, so he flopped down on his belly and started groping under the couch we were sitting on.  I had no idea what he was reaching for, but he was intent on reaching it.  Finally he grunted and groaned and pulled out one of those little kids' size camping chairs, all folded up.  He then set to work trying to open it.  After a brief struggle he shared another word from his ever-increasing vocabulary, "Help."  We got him set up right there in front of the couch, and he climbed on.  Settling himself in with one foot up and an arm over the back of the chair, he looked to be the picture of contentment.  But then he remembered something he was missing in his tiny little microcosm of a man cave.  He glanced over his shoulder at us, reached out an empty hand, and commanded, "'mote please."  Of course.  What man cave is complete without a TV remote.  That's our little man.
Isaiah 53:7 says, "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
Father, thank you for making it possible for us to experience our grandkids growing up.  I wouldn't miss this for the world.  Amen.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

January 21 – “Zombie Prom”

Now I just don't understand the mutated version of rheumatoid arthritis that has deemed it necessary to attack my joints.  First it doesn't have a clear cut signature in blood testing.  Then it redoubles its efforts whenever the weather changes.  Now it keeps me awake at night with throbbing in my elbow and hands.  That's just weird.  And to top it off my feet have been doing their tingling and numbness number again at night.  It got pretty bad last night.  Not to the extent that I cried out and accidentally smacked Chris when I reacted to it.  That only happened the one time so far.  That time it woke me up out of a dead sleep.  This time I never got to sleep, so I was pretty much in control of my flailing.  I finally got up sometime after midnight and took one of the pain pills I try to stay away from.  Then I returned to my crossword puzzle book.  I think I finished up two or three more before the pain started easing enough to let me fall asleep.  Not sure what time it was by then.  But I woke up at 6:30.  That's thirty minutes later than usual, so I guess I slept in.  The elbow and hands are not as bad this morning.  Toes are still numb, but they don't tingle so far.  That's a good sign, I hope.
We went to the Galveston Independent School district musical last night at Ball High.  One of the guys from the church youth group was in it.  He did a really good job, too.  Proud of him.  The play was a fun one called Zombie Prom.  Typical high school romance thwarted by parents and school administration.  Then it took a deadly turn.  The guy kills himself by jumping into a nuclear power plant's waste pool.  He comes back as a zombie and wants to finish high school.  And start where he left off with his girlfriend, of course.  They had some sound issues, and with my terrible hearing, I'm sure I missed some of the funny lines, but I got enough to say I enjoyed it.  One kid was channeling Jim Carey in Mask.  He was quite entertaining.  The female lead had a great voice, as did an eleven year-old girl who played one of the friends.  She could really belt it out.  Our guy from Seaside was miked as well.  He has a great voice.  Now I'll have to pick on him about using it at church.  We also got a kick out of the little guys – second and third graders – who were dressed as 1950's teenagers and doing the same moves as the older kids.  One of them got paired up with an older girl in the prom scene.  Little shot guy and very tall girl.  Very cute.  Especially when she did one of those twirls under the guy's arms.  Funny stuff.  Oh, and I liked it when the kids came down the aisles as zombies and "accidentally" smacked those of us who were sitting on aisle seats.  Engaging the audience in the  action.  Can't go wrong with a ploy like that.  One more performance tonight at 8.  Check it out.
Isaiah 53:6 says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Father, give those kids a real jolt of excitement as they perform.  Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

January 20 – “Pasadena”

Chris' dad was transferred out of ICU at Methodist yesterday. He is now in a long term acute care facility in Pasadena. Ah, Pasadena. Home of the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses parade. But not that Pasadena. Pasadena, Texas. It's a suburb of Houston that is actually closer to us than the Houston Medical Center was. It's much closer to Chris' brother as well, so from that perspective it was a good move.
Chris thought that the transfer was going to be to another ICU unit. Not so much. The facility was nice enough, but he was on a regular medical unit in a private room. That meant he was not in view of a nurse at all times. When we walked into the room he was moving around in the bed a lot, obviously quite uncomfortable and agitated. He was restrained and hooked up to several IV's and a feeding tube. Chris went up to him and he seemed to recognize her at first. In fact he even suggested they go to K2's for lunch. That's a steak house in Bay City. But then he blinked and returned to the more incoherent mumblings.
He was on a really strong antibiotic, so Chris decided to see if she could talk to his nurse. We went up to the nurse station, but she was at lunch. It wouldn't have mattered, though, because we didn't know the secret code number that would have allowed them to release information. They did send for his case manager to let us know what they could. Problem was, his case manager was gone for the day. Another one came up to talk to us, though. In the meantime Chris managed to get her brother on the phone. He has medical power of attorney. And he didn't know of a secret code number either. The case manager allowed him to "approve" Chris over the phone, though. After all that we finally found out that her Dad has one of those MRSA infections that you get in hospitals and that are highly resistant to most antibiotics. That's why the pneumonia hasn't gotten any better. That makes a tough situation even worse. Chris was able to fill in some of the information blanks in his chart on medical history. Come to find out he had not been officially admitted yet. The transfer happened after hours, so one of those secret codes had not even been assigned yet. In fact while we were still up there, a lady came up from admissions and asked Chris to do the paperwork. She was able to sign most of the admitting forms, but there were a few places that looked like legal documents, so she left those for her brother.
They told us that he would probably be there for up to 27 days. Their responsibility was to get the immediate medical issues under control, then do the evaluations to determine what the next steps would be. The medical team meets every Tuesday to discuss his case, so we can check back on Wednesdays for more information. It was quite a lot to process in a very short amount of time. The family still has some things they need to talk about. Detail after detail. One step at a time.
Isaiah 53:4-5 says, "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."
Father, walk with Chris' family as they attack the many issues that are still before them. And burst through her Dad's confusion to touch him with your presence as well. Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19 – “George the Sponge”

Yesterday was kind of a blur to me.  Most likely a combination of things.  I had very little sleep the night before.  Knocked out my rhythm since we had Cailyn to spend the night.  I think I read Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast and Snow White and Little mermaid at least four times.  Each.  And we had the Beauty and the Beast video going on the TV.  Twice.  And that doesn't count the endless repetition of the intro music when the movie ends.  She finally went to sleep somewhere around 10 or 10:30.  But I just wasn't sleepy.  I ended up reading a lot and completed five or six crossword puzzles. 
Speaking of reading a lot, I finished Inheritance.  That's the last book in the Eragon dragon series.  Very gripping story, but difficult to follow with all the strange names in several different languages – Elf, Dwarf, Human, Dragon, and some kind of ogre-like creatures.  Reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings series to be sure, with fighting and magic and good versus evil. 
As always there were some shining moments with Cailyn.  At one point she wanted to have a picnic.  I suggested that we set up on the rug in the office.  But no.  She had in mind exactly where we would be and how everything would happen.  She took me by the hand and led me to … the bathroom.  There she oh-so-carefully placed a towel on the floor.  I was instructed to take my place on the little stool she uses to reach the sink (and other key places).  She pulled out the Noah's Ark bathtub toy and indicated that the boat was her pot for cooking as well as serving.  Must have been one of those new-fangled crock pot things.  The meal was amazing.  We had some kind of roasted hippopotamus.  Yummy. 
The highlight of the whole experience came after the meal.  She reached into a drawer and pulled out a rectangular object, about an inch thick, four inches wide and six inches long.  She asked what it was, and I told her, keeping it simple.  She turned it over and over in her hands for a long few seconds.  I could hear the wheels turning in her head.  Finally she made the announcement.  "I gonna read you a story now, DadDad."  I settled back in my step bench easy chair, leaning against the lower cabinet door handles (ouch).  And she began.  Now the story wasn't a long one.  The kind you read in the bathroom never are.  And I can't remember all the details.  But it was about a guy named George.  George the Sponge.  Great idea for a children's book, don't you think.  Write a story on a sponge about a guy named George the Sponge.  Can't wait to hear the sequel.  George the Sponge Meets Willie the Waterfaucet.  Instant classic. 
Isaiah 53:1-3 says, "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Father, thank you for being God of the Wee Hours the other night.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 18 – “You’re so silly”

We got a call from Nathan yesterday morning asking if we could come over and watch Cailyn while he went to a fire department meeting.  April started nursing school classes yesterday, so she was going to be gone.  Tough decision.  She was still asleep when we arrived, but pretty soon she was up and at 'em.  She grabbed my hand and dragged me up the stairs into her room to show me, well, everything in her room.  She started dumping these nifty little trays full of random toys all over the floor.  I asked her why she didn't leave the toys in the trays and pull out the ones she wanted.  Guess that was a stupid question.  She just looked at me with a quizzical expression on her face, let out and exasperated sigh … and dumped the next one. 
She let me know that her imaginary dog friend named Polka Dot was not in the house.  I remembered him.  Met him one day when we were playing in our front yard.  I asked if he was outside.  She answered, "No DadDad.  He's over at your house.  You're so silly."  Oh.  I should have known that.
She did fix us some pretend macaroni.  We learned a while back though, that it's not mac and cheese.  She doesn't like that.  But she loves macaroni.  They are fixed the same and taste the same.  But watch what you call it.
She wanted to ride her new bike outside.  Not a problem.  It was damp and muggy, but as long as she wore her helmet, Nani was fine with it.  Ah, but that became a problem.  She didn't want to wear the helmet.  Time to butt heads.  The thing is, wearing a helmet is a non-negotiable item when your Daddy is a firefighter and your Nani is a nurse.  She was pretty bull-headed, though.  Adamant refusal.  So we walked the bike up and down the sidewalk like a dog. 
Isaiah 52:13-15 says, "See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.  Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness — so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him.  For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand."
Father, I could use some of that understanding.  Sprinkle on me anytime.  Amen.