Today we celebrate that Mom passed her swallow test!!!!! We are crying tears of joy at this beautiful gift. We are rejoicing that my Mom got to sip her first sip – and it was a vanilla milkshake! So today we challenge you to the Milkshake Challenge! Go get yourself a milkshake in Mom’s honor and take a picture and send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org! 🙂 We can’t wait to show her everyone’s celebrations!! We will select our favorites/most creative and post them on the blog in the next couple days.
*This great idea was brought to you by the Aukerman clan who submitted the first photo (featuring their cousin Isaiah)!
-Written by Anna –
Today we thank Jesus for life and for an encouraging day! Two weeks ago today we all thought we might lose Mom. And today she is not only with us but we observed and were given some encouraging news! Something we all needed!
Some highlights from the day:
- Her speech therapist was very encouraged with Mom’s progress today in swallowing and believes she might pass the swallow test later on this week. This was a very different report than we had received yesterday (by the same therapist)! Thank you for your prayers and continue to pray for wisdom for us and her doctors as we navigate all of this. Pray that we would do what is best for Mom! And continue to pray that Jesus would restore her ability to swallow.
- We had our first conversation with a local rehabilitation center. There is really only one locally that can provide adequate care for someone in Mom’s condition but it comes highly recommended. They hope to move her next week.
- We were blessed today by the visit of dear friends who went out of their way to come and visit Mom and encourage her! What a gift! Thank you Tom and Lorelei!
- Hearing Mom pray a full and complete prayer for the first time. We have heard her repeat sentences prayers and I feel like she is living a prayer these days but upon hearing a voicemail from Beth Ryan, a precious missionary friend in Honduras, she proceeded to pray a full prayer over her and her ministry and that Jesus would show up in Honduras! Holy moments!
- Reaching for the phone when she heard I was talking to my cousin, her nephew, Billy and family in Scotland. She wanted to hear about baby Blake who shares her middle name. She asked if their girls could pray that she could swallow. We believe in those prayers!
She is more aware each day of your love and prayers. We have been able to read many of your emails, prayers, stories and comments that you have put on the blog or sent to the email address (email@example.com). Last night we rejoiced together over learning that on Christmas Day the daughter of a friend had given her life to Christ and was a new creation! Mom cried as I read it to her! She remembered praying with the mother of this girl just three weeks ago.
She also told me to share these two songs on the blog. It has been so sweet to watch my Mom worship through music. She can’t read her Bible yet but she gets lost in the words and music of certain songs. A dear friend who works with the Salvation Army in Buffalo sent her words to this song and I found it on youtube and last night she listened to it over and over. What a comfort and a blessing to be In His Hands!
I’m in his hands
The second song is one that Mom asked to hear several times and as she listened I heard her repeat to herself over and over: Restore, Revive, Renew, Reveal. What a privilege we all have to sit with her each day and sense His presence in new ways.
Restore my Soul
The road ahead is long and we know that not every day will be a good day but He is walking with us moment by moment, day by day. Thank you for being on this journey with us!
As we have stabilized we are all starting to feel the exhaustion of the past two weeks and there is not quite as much to report each day (thank you Jesus!). She continues to be stable and to make small improvements each day. Since stabilizing we are adjusting to a new normal and she is adjusting to her new realities. We rejoice over the baby steps forward that we make each day and we trust Jesus with the disappointments that are a part of the journey.
This morning they removed the 40+ staples in her head from the craniotomy which was a great blessing and step forward. Sadly, she did not pass the swallow test. This was disappointing to us and even more disappointing to her. But the therapists told us they see progress. They will start some daily swallow therapy tomorrow where she will get to enjoy a few bites of something other than ice chips each day! They also said she could have some sips of water. She was thrilled about that!
After the test results she said, “I failed. I feel discouraged. But it could be so much worse. I got to taste pudding and juice. So I’m grateful!” What a perspective. If only we all were so grateful for the small things.
To say that she is a sweet and easy patient is an understatement. A nurse confessed to us last night that she is the most appreciative patient on the floor and one of the nurses’ favorites. We were not surprised! She talks about Jesus and others regularly and through her amazing spirit reminds us to be thankful for the little things each day!
This morning after her staples were removed and she was hurting and exhausted she said to me “I keep thinking about the verse that says He is the lifter of my head because I can’t even lift my head by myself.” So we read Psalm 3 together and then I played a song that she has loved for years from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. We listened to it together and Jesus strengthened both of our hearts. These are truly holy moments!
Thank you for your continued prayers for swallowing, no infection, encouragement, peace, healing, courage and strength for each new day. Pray for us as we start making decisions about the next steps.
Today we went to pick her up some head scarfs that will hopefully make her feel a little prettier. The lady who helped us told us her Mom had brain surgery and she knew just the scarfs that work best! Jesus is in even that. Just like Mom says, “its the little things.”
Thank you to those who have sent precious gifts…they all bring encouragement and comfort (which is what she needs the most). From a little Christmas tree in her room, to beautiful flowers, to a soft blanket…she has been blessed by each little touch! We read her your notes and emails on her good days and she is so encouraged by each one.
Visits from friends lift Mom’s spirits!
Her new room on the stroke floor.
Friends who came to sing over her as she went to sleep.
Late last night Mom was moved from the neuro ICU to the stroke unit. Although this unnerved us a bit – as the neuro ICU had become a strange kind of “home” – it is a very good thing! For the first time in weeks we feel as though we have taken a deep breath. Although we still can’t see the coastline, we do feel as though Jesus has calmed the waves! We praise Him! Today Mom was stable. Her room is quiet and more restful – which will hopefully help her sleep better.
Her physical therapists worked with her this morning and she made some small progress. Because of all of the other battles she has fought, the reality of her paralysis hasn’t fully hit us or her. Today she wanted to do a simple task, clip her nails. I watched as she realized she couldn’t even do this herself. Sadness filled her eyes. I gladly clipped and filed her nails as the new reality of her total dependence began to sink in. She has a long road ahead. Today she told Ben and I something like this, “I know now that life is so much about the little things. The little beautiful gifts that most of the world misses! I can’t believe we miss them! I won’t miss them anymore.”
The philosophy of the neuro ICU was to save her life. We praise God that He has done just that! The philosophy of the stroke unit is to prepare her for rehab. We praise God for how far she has come – only by His healing hand. And we trust Him to get us to the coastline in His time. Grateful He’s in the boat with us!
Pray for Mom’s heart to be at rest and her spirit to find peace, even as she absorbs so many new realities!
*The swallow test should be sometime tomorrow. Thanks to all those who are praying!! Whenever you drink a cold drink today, take a minute to thank God for this small beautiful gift!
It is something we all take for granted. Swallowing is now something that takes all Mom’s energy and focus. She told us her greatest suffering in all this is thirst. It is really unbelievable how powerful that need is! She is GREATLY motivated to swallow due to her desperate thirst. Today she is quite anxious about the swallow test. Would you join us, again, in praying that Mom would be able to swallow and pass the test so we could begin the baby steps of liquids again? Thank you for your faithfulness. We look forward to the day we can report she finally got a taste of that “half cut iced tea” she has asked for daily!
Love to you all!
-Written by Anna-
No one ever dreams of spending their Christmas in the neuro ICU and yet the reality that God is WITH US has never felt more real! This morning we had our first moment as a family at home while Jeannine Brabon (a stroke survivor herself) sat with Mom. We then took a small Christmas celebration in to Mom. She loved watching us open a couple of presents that she had bought and wrapped for us almost as much as we loved sharing this moment with her.
As I walked in and received a warm Merry Christmas hug from our nurse (Mom has quickly become one of the favorite patients which doesn’t surprise any of us!) I found myself so grateful for those who sacrifice their own Christmas to love and care for people like my Mom. I looked around to see so much suffering on this holy day and instead of feeling despair, it felt sacred! This is WHY He came! He willingly entered into the suffering of all mankind to redeem and bring hope! He walks with us through the hardest and darkest of days and nowhere do you sense that more than in a neuro ICU on Christmas Day!
The first Christmas was not one of good meals, family time, lights, decorations and presents. For Mary and Joseph it was one of pain, confusion and wondering why in the world God would chose to make His entrance in this way. He came in a stable as a baby and, as a precious friend who came on Christmas Eve to pray over Mom wrote, “Katy’s room became for me that ‘stable’ on Christmas Eve, for Christ was born in Katy and Stan’s lives, but I got to see that birth afresh this Christmas Eve.”
We are seeing new life as Mom is making a little progress each day. Her speech and memories continue to improve. And while she is never comfortable, the pain seems to be less. Her body is fighting and we are grateful for that. Continue to pray for healing and strength. Pray for encouragement and peace! Yesterday she realized her new realities in a whole new way and we grieved with her. But Jesus met her last night, she is still grieving but this morning she had chosen to be grateful and was sharing it with us. She expressed her gratitude for her nurse Debbie who brought her ice chips and told her Merry Christmas (best Christmas present for my Mom who still can’t eat or drink). She expressed her gratitude for Dalton another nurse who washed her hair this morning and made her feel more human! She was quick to tell us – and them – that while she never wanted to be here on Christmas those were her Christmas miracles!
She shared with us that if Jesus willingly entered suffering then why shouldn’t she? She never wants to forget this experience of being totally dependent and even the humiliation of it all as this is where we find Jesus!
Tonight as we wrap up a Christmas we will not soon forget we want to thank each one of you for your love and prayers as we have walked through these days. There are no words to adequately express what it has meant to our family! Don’t tell our Mom but we have not been able to keep up and have not sent one single thank you! But we are thankful! When we could not even express our needs, many of you listened to Jesus and provided, gave, showed up, called, etc. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus to us this Christmas! From providing hotel rooms so we could stay close, to meals at the hospital when we couldn’t even think about food, to showing up on Christmas morning to wish Mom a Merry Christmas, sharing prayers for and stories about my Mom, writing out Scriptures for us to read when we most needed them…we just want to say thank you and Merry Christmas!
Last night and today it felt like my Mom really woke up for the first time and we watched her as she began to try to arrange the confusing puzzle of what has happened. In fact, she spoke a lot (praise God!) and for the first time began to process what happened. She began to ask what was on her head. And how it all went so wrong after lung surgery. The nurse and us walked her through some of what happened, even showed her a picture of her head and the dozens of staples that now cover half of it. Although its scary, I think it gave her some of the first pieces of the puzzle. I honestly can’t imagine essentially waking up to her new reality and trying to figure out what in the world happened. Last she knew she was healthy and coming in for a seemingly basic surgery. Now she’s half paralyzed and recovering from brain surgery. There are certainly some areas of major confusion. This is hard for all of us. We know she is there and we see her personality, quirks, and humor. And yet she remains confused. It will take time for her to sort all this out and time for her brain to wake back up (in my non-medical terms). Pray for this. Today we see some fear in her eyes – particularly fear that she is loosing her mind. Pray for her to have courage for this scary time and pray for her brain to be able to put each piece together until she has the whole puzzle!
Although they do believe she may have a small case of pneumonia – they are encouraged today that her body seems to be fighting it! Her fever has gone down and she seems to be doing well. Please continue to pray for her body to fight this off! In fact, they are even talking about moving her out of Neuro ICU to the stroke unit. This would be a BIG step. Though its a good step – we are afraid to leave the constant care of the ICU. Pray for God’s perfect timing in all this.
Today we feel a huge mix of emotions. A wave of relief that she seems to be coming back to us! And a wave of grief at all that she has lost and the battle ahead! Pray for courage for her and for all of us.
Today we are ALL here and this brings us joy – even in hard circumstances. Although the kids can’t yet see Mom, it is fun to tell her we are all together. We praise God for that!