And He said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Need....

A long overdue "Howdy!" from the Foxhole. Princess reminded me that it has been over eight days since our last post.  Thank you as well to all of our dear friends and followers who have checked in through your messages, texts, and posts.  We have now been home for two weeks and we are still adjusting and learning to be back home.  Balancing time between, work for myself, Physical Therapy at home for Princess, other nurse visits, continued doctors appointments, and of course the clamors of needs at home, it has been busy.  Friday night we were able to take a break resume with our Date Night.  Back at our spot, the Lord blessed us as we crossed paths with a childhood family friend of Princess that had been randomly following the Foxhole from Nicaragua on a recent trip.  This was an encouraging encounter and blessing!  Amazing to see how God works!

As the days pass, I have been able to share more with Princess of what the last month has involved.  Whether through messages, pictures or even stories, she sits back and listens to her life as if it was a story.  Truly unique what the brain can retain or not retain.  Names, faces, events have seemed to have unfortunately vanished, and yet, something much more important has remained...

Physically, Princess is still trying to work through getting her strength back.  Moving from bed to the bathroom is like sprinting a mile and leaves her exhausted.  Truly a reminder of just how difficult of a hill it will be to regain her strength.  Her voice is getting stronger and she isn't speaking with a whisper as much.  Her pneumonia has seemed to healed.  Her shingles is still a bother, and we have seen a couple times where it isn't as painful as before (this a huge relief).  A praise is that we have not recorded a seizure.  Rather, we have continued to record auras and fortunately, the last few days those have been decreasing in frequency, too.  So amid the backdrop of business, physical pain, and exhaustion, Princess is slowly getting better.  It is apparent that it will take some time and I pray that we can be still, and continue to keep our focus on the Lord and His work in and through this season.

As I left a thought hanging just a paragraph back, something of much greater importance for Princess has remained.  And while we adjust to the trials at home, we also recognize the trials that lay for all of us ahead.  This weekend a dramatic and unfortunate scene has played out in Virginia.  And for us what has remained, is what is absent from many in our Nation today.  Something, that because of its lack, has brought about hostility, anger, and aggression.  This a need for a Savior.

A question that has been asked of us a lot through our particular journey is if Princess remembered me.  Did she remember Critter?  Did she know who we were?  Yes, is the short answer.  And while this might be important, more importantly, she has rested well in our Father's grasp and has never lost sight, or better, never lost her mind of who Christ is as her Savior, Rock, and Redeemer.  Through the trial and through the pain, her focus has been and is continually on Him. Our focus remains on Him to be our strength and our Provider. Our Savior.

And this has kept our attention and our focus.  Our faith in Christ has given us balance, direction, and wisdom.  Today, I shared with Princess that in the heat of the early moments of our first hospitalization, and in a moment where I was finally able to sit and call my family to provide an update, the only words that I could muster out was what was and has been hidden in my heart.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your way, acknowledge Him
and he will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Matthew 12 says that out of the overflow of the heart the mouths speaks. As I shared with Princess the events and what was shared with our family, I am grateful that the overflow of my heart is with God's Word.  He is truly carrying us.  And in the same breath, I cry for our Nation, for our homes, for our families that we would all cling to the Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Chaos fills our lives and the tension of hostility and racism, among other things, spilled over and God has been left out of our culture once again.  Sadly, the decline that has been going on for decades is only getting worse and I, Princess, ALL of us need to pray, and seek the only One that can give us any peace or solution to our problems. Just like the Lord has provided in many ways for us, I am praying that all of us could stop and get back to a time when there was respect, moral values, and a belief in God.   

And while I don't feel qualified to speak on such an issue or even a matter, I turn to those who well before me have tried to address the Need.  

Here is a brief snippet from Dr. J Vernon McGee in a message he titled, "America Needs a Declaration of Dependence."

"I want you to notice a philosophy of history that we find in God’s Word. The three steps that precede the downfall of any nation are first of all, religious apostasy; second, there is moral awfulness; and third, political anarchy. These are the three steps downward that all the great nations of the past, lying this moment in rubble and ashes, have taken. Rome, for instance, is the classic example. The historian Gibbon gives five reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The first step down is the undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society. Second, higher and higher taxes, the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace. Third, the mad craze for pleasure, sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral. Fourth, the building of great armaments when the great enemy is within — the decay of individual responsibility. And fifth, the decay of religion, fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people. These were the downward steps that Rome took, Greece took, and which all the great nations of the past have taken."

He goes on to state...

"How Did It Happen? Pandora’s box of troubles was opened for America back at the turn of the century when professing Christians deserted the midweek service and then, after the first World War, deserted the Sunday night service. And before long there was no difference between the leading deacon’s language and that of the local bartender. Dr. Walter F. Tunks of the University of Akron said, “In the last six thousand years, there have been twenty-one civilizations, and every one of them has gone on the rocks precisely at the point where they let God go.” It was indeed interesting to find in the staid Wall Street Journal, when the Depression first began, a brief editorial that went something like this: “What America needs more than railway extension, western irrigation, a low tariff, a bigger cotton crop, and a larger wheat crop is a revival of religion. The kind that father and mother used to have. A religion that counted it good business to take time for family worship each morning right in the middle of wheat harvest. A religion that prompted them to quit work a half hour earlier on Wednesday so that the whole family could get ready to go to prayer meeting.”

"America’s problem is the same today; it is a spiritual problem."

So, as a long overdue update, we do appreciate you checking in.  We appreciate your involvement in our lives and we are so grateful for your prayers and support.  Lord willing, we will continue to post about Princess' improvements and most importantly, God's continued grace, and strength through  the adversity.  Please pray too for the communities affected by the weekend's events.  Pray for our Nation.  Pray most importantly for God to be made known, and for our homes, families, communities, states, our Nation to recognize that our problem is a spiritual problem and there is, just like there has only and always been, one solution.  The need for a Savior.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Home, Again...

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Foxhole is now posting from home!  And while we have been home now for several days, we are still trying to acclimate ourselves.  As the verse above states, Rejoice Always.... Easy to do now at home...difficult to do while going through an unpleasant circumstance like we just went through.  Yet, we did and continue to celebrate the milestones and victories we received while in the ICU and Hospital, and now at home.  We also greatly rejoice because of great support and friends like you.  Like the early church, as spoken of in Acts, you came alongside of us, supported us and gave of yourselves.  As Barnabas' name meant comforter or encourager, you were, and still are, a Barnabas for us. 

And whatever form of comfort and encouragement it has been, it has helped to carry me, Princess, and even Critter through this last month and looking forward.  So in our prayers, we too, pray for you continually, and give thanks for God's provision.  Thank you!

Additionally, I look to this verse to let it be a reminder of how can I rejoice in affliction.  Sure it is easy to rejoice when things go our way, yet in a is it possible?  For me, it is what follows after the first part of this verse.  An attitude. 

Focused attitude and attention on God. This attitude and really, the heart, has to be centered and focused on Christ.  A sure way to do this is to communicate with God.  How do we do that?  Through prayer.  Simply, prayer is our time to just talk with God.  So therefore, having an attitude of prayer and praying without ceasing will dramatically change mine, our, attitudes.  Hence, our attitude needs to be guided by prayer.  And then, finding a way to give thanks.  While I may not have this focus all the time, I am grateful for God's grace and His mercy.  For as the Bible says in Lamentations 3:22-23, "The Lord's lovingkindesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." 

Is it easy to give thanks in ALL circumstances?  No, it isn't.  And really, it is truly hard. Sometimes it seems even impossible.  Many have walked an even tougher road and for me to sit here and encourage someone to be thankful for a horrific event, is really something that I cannot understand.  My finite mind cannot even begin to explain an infinite God who says that He knows the plans He has for you and me.  Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  Therefore, as we have referenced in the Foxhole many times, Proverbs 3:5-6.  Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in ALL your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. 

So, do I, does the Foxhole have it all figured out?  Certainly, not!  Are there times when we get frustrated, beaten down, angry, and upset?  Absolutely.  But, it is because of God, because of you, because of our attitudes directed at and towards Christ, that brings us through and allows for us to rejoice always, and give thanks.  And hence, that is even now our focus as we are now home. 

Home, again...  Being timid this week at home has been a struggle.  Princess has truly gone through two nearly life-ending events in just less than four weeks.  Her body that is supposed to be able to work on its own, was literally being controlled by a single machine.  Therefore, she is fragile as her body's own systems begin to function all together again.  Like a restored antique auto, all the parts and pieces have to each come together to be fully restored.  And that process takes time.  Unfortunately, it doesn't happen overnight. 

How did we get to where we just came from?  Her sodium levels literally crashed.  And while we don't know if it was a gradual event or just sudden, her sodium levels are the only outlier in both hospitalizations.  This most likely caused by a consumption of too much water, trying to control another condition that she suffers from, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).  So now it is scary to even consume fluids, trying to find the right balance for what the body requires in a normal state, yet what the body requires for a condition like POTS. 

And while trying to maintain the right sodium level is a concern, we also find ourselves trying to adjust to a "new normal" at home.  Even discussing last night, we don't want to call it a normal.  While in the hospital someone mentioned to us that for every day in the hospital, it takes about two days to recover.  After this week, we are seeing this.  It truly will take some time (possibly two months) for Princess to recover.  Getting around the house is not easy.  Though guided by a walker, it is an exhausting task to just get from bed to the bathroom.  What should be just a short few steps, seems like a mile.  Physically, she is just continually exhausted and is having to relearn many things.  And while we have not recorded any seizures, she is still having auras.  Though less serious, it does cause for all of us to take a moment and stop.  And now our schedule at home is trying to coordinate follow up appointments, physical therapy, speech therapy, and fitting in final arrangements for the upcoming school year. 

Speaking of follow up appointments.  Many of you knew and have been asking about our recent ENT appointment.  Since Princess' second extubation, she has had no voice.  Whether there was some laryngeal trauma or even something else, we needed to follow up with the ENT to figure our what was going on.  Praise report, it appears that Princess' throat, and everything pertaining to the neck area (internally) is very inflamed.  It appears that there is still some present infection (pneumonia) and a few scratches or trauma in the palate.   Therefore, a steroid, antibiotic, and something to loosen the mucous should hopefully have Princess' voice returning.  We are pleased to say that midway through the steroid regimen, Princess is showing a small improvement in her voice in various snippets throughout the day.  While just above a whisper, it is encouraging for all of us to witness this!  Referencing to early....Easy to give thanks!  Praise the Lord! 

On another front, Princess has likewise has a continual pain that is focused squarely on her right shoulder and chest area.  While we have been trying to determine if this was muscle related due to the seizures, reaction to medical tape, or a reaction to the EEG, we think that as of late yesterday it actually might be shingles!  Lovely!  While there isn't an open sore, in really looking at the facts, visiting with others (including our physician), this seems to be what's taking place. 

And there it is, a much long overdue post.  First, again, thank you!  Second, please keep Princess in your prayers as she recovers.  It is going to take some time.  While I see improvements in her daily, it is going to take some time for her strength, cognitive ability, endurance physically and mentally, and really just daily life to get back together.  Please keep praying.  Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.  Give thanks to the Lord! 

Please pray:
  • Princess to be strengthened physically and mentally each day.
  • Princess to not be overwhelmed by being at home and not being able to "be at home."
  • Princess' voice and throat to heal.
  • Princess' shingles to subside or go away.
  • Our family time and some greatly needed Critter time.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday...Day of Rest...

Growing up, and still to this day, a favorite verse of mine has been 1 Cor 10:31, "Whether, then, whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  While I know I don't always get this one perfect, it still has a great reminder for us all that truly He wants every part of us to give Him the glory...In the the bad.

And trying as many times have been, especially what we have encountered over the last two weeks or even this month, I am also reminded that in trying to give God the glory in all things that we are to go to Him in prayer.  Today was Sunday.  Our second Sunday in the hospital.  While this one was not in the ICU, it was still in the hospital and for a moment Princess and I turned our little room into a Sanctuary.  Thanking God.  Praising God.  A dear couple and great friends to our family gave a few years back Seeds Family Worship.  It has truly been an amazing gift and has blessed our family time and time again as we listen to their albums and sing God's Word.  You might recall I posted a link to their music last Sunday as we worshiped.

In listening again today and singing along Philippians 4:6-7 stood out for some reason.  I essentially 1 Corinthians 10:31 and this in my mind at the same time.  Philippians 4 tells us to not be anxious about about anything. But in everything, by petition...present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!  So therefore, when it comes to giving God the glory in the good and even in the bad, we don't have to be anxious.  The Bible says to simply present our requests to God- by prayer, by petition.  Then let Him do the rest.

And so it is, while we have journeyed these last two weeks we have to turn our eyes to God.  Today, we were anxious to go home.  Yesterday, our Doctor said that we were looking at a 1 to 3 day Window which meant that it would most likely be Monday or even longer till we could get home.  However, a good report was had and it actually looked like we were coming home today!  Praise the Lord...

 Well, as you can imagine we were pretty excited about the unbelievable possibility of headed home sooner than expected.  Each morning we have had a follow up with the physicians over our care.  And each morning Princess has made great strides.  From overcoming her nearly 14 hours of continuously seizing, to overcoming her 11 days in ICU, learning to walk again from muscles that had almost given up, working hard to swallow to just enjoy a sip of water, to battling pneumonia.  While all these accomplishments have been great our morning report was met with mixed emotions.

While Princess has made some great strides, it has become evident at this time that her voice and her throat healing have somewhat plateaued.  Her breathing is labored and her voice is just a faint whisper.  Early talk looks like she might have some laryngeal trauma.  Therefore with the recommendation of the Physician, we will stay at least another night and day.  This will allow Princess to connect with an ENT and get a very necessary laryngoscopy to see exactly what damage if any might be present that is not allowing her throat and voice to heal.  While this news is bittersweet, we then turned our minds into prayers and kept praying for God's peace to transcend our understanding.

Around 12:45 today, it all changed....While visiting with our Neurologist, our room phone rang and it was our Primary Care physician calling.  He then explained that he had reached out and contacted an ENT on our behalf and that the ENT would like to get us into his office possibly as early as tomorrow and that everything could be done in office for Princess...therefore, we would in fact be discharging from the hospital TODAY!!!

So, typing this evening, I am doing in from the comfort of our own home.  What a homecoming for Princess!  Critter was super excited by the surprise and even got some special snuggle time with Mommy just before bedtime.  So praise the Lord!

Now begins a new journey as Princess will have to limit herself while at home.  Our hope is to be with the ENT tomorrow and that what seems to be laryngeal damage, hopefully will not be too severe.  We'll continue to post...and now from the comfort of our home!  Thank you for continuing to lift us up to the Lord!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Post ICU...Day 2

Oh, it is wonderful to have my Princess back!  Today is our second day out of the ICU where Princess began what would become an 11 day ordeal that started due to her seizing continuously for nearly 14 hours.  Having been put into a medical coma and putting her life on the support of a ventilator, we have experienced an up and down mix of emotions and events over these last two weeks.  It is surreal to think that nearly two weeks ago she was hooked to all this strange equipment for a second time and now, just two days out of the ICU, she is not hooked to anything...No oxygen, no IV line.  Her recovery is remarkable.

Now, while my post has an upbeat message, it is important to know that she does have a long road to recovery ahead.  Basically for the entire month of July, with the exception of one week, Princess has either been on a ventilator in the ICU or recovering in a hospital room.  Obviously, we are very excited to be on the road to recovery.

These last two days have been good and have unveiled just how slow Princess will need to take things.  Learning to walk again and use muscles that haven't been used for 11 days.  Learning to swallow so that even just a sip of water could be had.  While, we're confident that this relearning is not from the seizures, it appears that it has more to do with the extended intubation.  While we were able to get some rest over these last two days, we have met with Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Pathology.

Thankfully, yesterday, Princess did pass her retest of the swallow test. This meant that Princess could safely consume water, and solid food.  Consuming food and water now meant that she could get the necessary food and nutrition to begin her battle back and have full recovery.  Visits from Physical and Occupational Therapy were extremely helpful.  It also gave good light to the physical limitations as Princess will need to rebuild her strength.  Today and yesterday we are just working on walking with a walker and getting to and from bed to the bathroom or around the hospital room.  The positive, for those that know Princess, she is a fighter and today it was incredible to see her progress and some strength come back.  Her balance was improved and for the most part I was not assisting her as she moved.

Still no seizures!  We have now gone a full week since the last recorded seizure.  Praise the Lord!  Her pneumonia is still pretty strong and today's x-ray did show that she is improving and today would complete her last day of antibiotics.  As the doctor shared with us, he truly felt like Princess was over the hump and should continually get better each day.

So, that is the latest from the Foxhole.  We are grateful for the rest and the lack of medical equipment that now surrounds us.  Please continue to pray for Princess' strength, and healing.  The pneumonia is truly strong and makes it very difficult to breathe.  Her throat is extremely sore and inflamed from the second intubation in just three weeks.  Pray that walking, balance, and stamina will be restored to her.
Thank you to everyone who has checked in, and encouraged us along the way.  Last night we took the time to read through the blog as I shared with Princess what she had just gone through.  I know today, she has also had the chance to read through some messages and even most of the cards that have been sent through the mail!  Thank you!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

ICU Day 11

11th Day in the ICU.

As many of you observed, we did not post last night.  This was mainly due to a day that started fairly rough, and yet, we're happy to say it ended on a great note.

The Bible says in Ephesians 5:18, "Do not get drunk with wine...but, be filled with the Holy Spirit."  This verse came to mind as we started the night before, and woke yesterday as Princess was battling through the heavy effects of the sedatives.  Though having been completely off the sedatives for nearly two full days, we could still see the lasting and consuming effects that these toxic drugs can have.  Witnessing the effects firsthand, I was reminded that we are not to get drunk with wine. Why?  Because its effects take over and we can lose control of ourselves.  Just these sedatives, they were controlling Princess and affecting everything she did.  Literally, she was seeing and experiencing things that weren't there.  Her world and environment that she was living in did not match what she was experiencing.  

The second half of the verse then tells us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  So while the author Paul was just a moment ago talking about being drunk with wine, he made the comparison to be "drunk" with the Holy Spirit.  Amazingly, whether it is wine or the Holy Spirit, both can enter into our reality and give us a completely different experience.

Anyway, just a little moment that came to mind while this was going on.  But thankfully, although we started out rough, the day in fact ended on a good note.  During the day Princess was able to work with PT and get out of bed for the first time and sit in chair for nearly an hour.  We have another great nurse that was so proactive in getting Princess care. Not only did she order PT, she actually even spent an hour or two coming Princess' hair, trying desperately to get the glue out, caused by the EEG.  And YES, the EEG was removed on the same day as the ventilator.

As you also might know, pneumonia did set in from being on the vent for some time and so Princess did spend much of the day on a BiPAP machine.  This is essentially a machine that is used just one step prior to a ventilator.  Due to the pneumonia, and being on a ventilator for 9 days, the lungs still needed some assistance for Princess to fully breathe.  By evening time she was considerably better and was using just a nasal canula.

Our night thereafter was somewhat short with again, very little rest.

Today was exciting as we got to see more progress from Princess.  She was up in bed more often and truly, more like herself.  Unfortunately, she did not pass her swallow test and therefore is still not able to consume liquids or even resort to a normal diet.  While this experiences was somewhat of a setback,  it did bring to reality that what Princess just went through and endured, we might be matched with an uphill battle.

While that battle might be tough, the great news for the day was that Princess was  transferred out of the ICU this evening!  This is great progress and even surprised us and others that we were going to the floor already.  While her progress is seemingly fast now, the advice from many have been to just rest and take things very slowly.

So, off to bed for this tired couple!