Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Different Sort of Easter Joy

Our friend, John, for whom a lot of you have been praying, finally came home Wednesday, after 4 weeks of being hospitalized plus 6 more weeks of very tough workouts in a rehab center.  John mounted a heroic effort and can now walk without a walker, even without a cane, but he uses it anyway for safety.  His gait is normal, no shuffling even.  The drug he had been trying to get off of is now down to a very tiny dose and even that will be gone soon.  Thanks to God, and thanks once again for your prayers and notes and love.

The Wednesday before last, which would be the Wednesday of western Holy Week, our friend David (not to be confused with David in England!) had a massive stroke.  For several days it seemed almost certain he was going to die. 

Together with Sharyn (his sister) and Nick, we dug around in his apartment some and found his will and "advance directive", which said if his condition were hopeless, he did not want "heroic measures" taken.  It wasn't clear, however, either whether he was hopeless or what "heroic measures" means.  He already had a breathing tube and a feeding tube down his throat.  They will have to be removed by this coming Wednesday, Bright Wednesday, or they will cause ulceration.  So Sharyn, his executor, made the decision to wait until then to make the bigger decision.

Then a few days ago we said to him, "David, if you can hear us, wiggle your toes" and he did!  Then he did it again.  A day or so later, it was, "If you can hear me, move your hand," and he did.  "Are you comfortable?"  Nothing.  "Do you want us to call the nurses and have them shift your position?"  Toes wiggling vigorously.  "Do you want us to call Erika (his lady friend)?"  Toes wiggling with even more vigor. 

Last night came the biggest breakthrough yet.  "Can you touch your chin?" I asked.  Nothing.  "Maybe not yet," I said, and then, slowly, up came the hand to touch the chin!  So he knows where his chin is.  Next, upon request, he demonstrated he could put up two fingers in a "V for Victory" sign. Demetrios asked if he could use his hand as if playing the piano, and all five fingers began going up and down independently.

Then he tried to shift his position a little, and in the process, he moved his left leg.  That's the one that theoretically was probably going to be paralyzed, since his stroke was on the right side of the brain.  It wasn't some small ripple of the sheets, either, misinterpreted by wilfull thinking.  No, it was a large, unmistakable movement that both Sharyn and I saw while our husbands were busy looking at David's face, trying to get him to open his eyes.  He was not able to repeat the leg movement when asked, but we shall try again in a day or two.  He couldn't open his eyes, either, but you could see he was trying to, and the nurses told us he had opened them for one moment in the morning. 

His hand began to explore the tube going into his throat.  I said, "You can feel that, but do not remove it, because that's what's helping you to breathe."  He seemed to understand and did not try to pull it out.  He just wrapped his hand around it. 

Commending aloud his exertion of willpower, we prepared to leave, and Nick, in parting, said, "We'll have to get you a piano when you get out of here," whereupon David once more began "playing the piano" with his good hand.  Sense of humor!  At least it seemed that way to us.  Or else perhaps it was signifying the hope he will get out. 

We took our leave, and I asked, "Can you wave goodbye?" and he did.

All this of course means there is someone at home in this seemingly vegetative body. His condition is still "very grave" and anything could still happen  He could still die, but right now, we feel we're looking at a miracle. 

Of course, even if David does live, we have no idea what his condition will be, so please pray for him.

Also, please pray for my fellow wildlife rehabber and mentor and friend, Chris, who is in the hospital with heart issues.  One of which is atrial fibrillation; they tried Friday to shock her heart back into rhythm and it didn't work.  That's the only time I've seen her cry, though; she is facing this with all her legendary courage.