Thursday, October 16, 2008

dad's Progress (Part 7)

Hope you are not weary with the 'update' blogs. It is an effective way to communicate dad's status to many who are inquiring. Thank you so much for praying for dad. God has been so good to us by providing this ongoing miracle.

Today dad was moved from the 'step-down' unit to the rehab section of Mercy Hospital in OKC. He was not able to be moved to Northwest Arkansas yet due to a blood clot in his leg. They want to treat the clot medicinally before trying to transport dad. I was really hoping to get him back to Arkansas tomorrow but I trust the doctor's decisions.

Dad is really weak. They say it will take 3-5 days of therapy for every day dad was in the bed. Well, that means he is in for a rather lengthy rehabilitation. We cannot complain however as we recall how that dad wasn't supposed to be here. It is a blessing just to hear his voice on the telephone, and to sense that he is getting better mentally and emotionally by the day. I know God hasn't brought him this far to let him down.

As Doctor Nasr put it, "We are looking at a year down the road." If we could see that far in faith, I believe we would see dad walking, standing tall and enjoying life without the pain that he has been under for so many years. Truly dad has suffered more intense agony than any person I have ever known. I might add he has done so without complaint. He is a champion in every sense of the word.

I realize more everyday what a 'tree of righteousness' he is to so many people. His circle of influence is not diminished with age. He is an important role model and giant of the faith to many people, including yours truly.

May God bless you and yours. Please remember to call dad's name in prayer as he attempts to move muscles that have mostly lain still for a couple of weeks. Thanks again and God bless you.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Dad's Progress (Part 6)

The Lord continues to provide the healing dad needs. For each and everyday we see improvement, we are thankful.

Dad was moved yesterday from the Intensive Care Unit to a 'step-down' unit. The nurses helped him sit in a chair for the first time. He requires much assistance as he is extremely weak from being in the bed for 9 days. The rehab specialists say it usually takes 3-5 days of rehab for every 1 day a person is in the bed. So, dad has a lengthy recovery ahead, but he can do it with the help of the Lord.

The creatinine levels in dad's blood are getting better each day, a sign that his kidneys are healing. We believe his mental confusion will improve as this blood level improves. They have given dad 4 units of blood in the last few days, but the doctors don't seem alarmed by it since dad went through such a lengthy operation.

Thank you all for praying for dad. He continues to need your prayer support as he heals.

God bless you our friends,


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dad's Progress (Part 5)

Dear Friends,

At 8:05 am today dad was removed from the ventilator!!! We are so grateful to the Lord for His grace for every situation of life.

Dad's liver enzymes are normal once again, from 2700 when he was dying, to 59 this morning!! Dr. Kerns, the cardiologist, once again confirmed this was a miracle that only God could have done.

Keep praying for dad's kidneys. They remain at a very low function and will take some time to heal. As long as dad's heart and blood pressure continue on a normal pace, the kidneys have opportunity to heal. Join me in focusing prayer for this. Thanks so much!

It was great to hear dad talk to me for the first time, although his voice was weak and raspy. We often take a lot of little things for granted. Look today for something to praise God for that we too often overlook.

Be blessed!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Dad's Progress (Part 4)

Thanks to all who are checking on dad daily via the blog.

Today was another long day. We kinda get fogged in here and the time becomes meaningless while we listen to the constant noise of a hospital. Dad remains in critical care and still has the vent at this writing. The reason is because his heart has acted up again today and is in constant atrial fibrilation, a fancy couple of words for 'it won't beat right.' The electronic firing of the heart gets scrambled and the distinct 'thump, thump' of the heart is not heard. As long as we are in this phase we cannot take the ventilator out.

Dad is pretty heavily medicated, insomuch that he probably won't remember much, if any, of what he has been through this week. That is good in the long run as he has been through so much, yet has come so far. Let me give you some good news of the day.

Dad's kidney functions seem to be slightly better! His pain has been manageable with no extraordinary pain meds for this type surgery. Dr. Nasr, the surgeon, told us again today that this surgery is perhaps more traumatic to the body than a liver or lung transplant because it taxes every system to the limit. Wow!

All the numbers are moving in the right direction with regard to lab results, kidney and liver function. Even his stomach revved up today! (No more details there!) Now we just need the heart to pick up and run like a sewing machine. Dad is breathing on his own although the ventilator remains connected. His blood-gases indicate good exchanges in the lungs. So, we are set for him to get off the vent.

Let me mention mom, the unsung hero of all this. She is a little champion and stands by dad like she has done for years. A sweeter, kinder, more serving soul you will never find. We keep insisting that she go rest a little because this is going to be a process of recovery in which she will be a major player.

Once dad gets off the vent, they will move him out of critical care and he will have at least another week getting his feet under him...literally. We end this rainy day in OKC, Oklahoma thankful to have dad with us and still believing for better days ahead. We had prayer for dad several times today as different ones visited the room. I would now ask you to join in agreement with us for God to fix his heart rhythm. God can!!

May the Lord bless you and your family this evening. Thanks again for reading.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dad's Progress (Part 3)

Today is Sunday, Oct 5, 2008. I just switched on the TV in dad's room here in ICU. The channel was on rodeo, something dad and I enjoy watching. Although dad is not alert enough to watch, I can't help thinking how this 'cowboy' is riding one of the roughest 'draws' of his life. Once dad told me, "(you go for it) and I will stand with you 'til the hide slips." This is cow-hand terminology for 'hang in there'. (Can't you just hear dad saying that?) Well now I get to be beside him and the only hide slipping is the enemies attempt to take his life. Ride 'em cowboy!!

I am still amazed at the wonderful progress God is giving to dad. Dad, isn't too perky and isn't aware of his progress as much as we, who are watching from this side of the bed.

They started dialysis on dad yesterday and it went well for a while. Then, after a few hours, it became necessary to call the doctor for further instruction. I was afraid they would move the port, which would mean another small surgery in the neck or forearm. Instead, the doc said to stop dialysis and they would evaluate this morning. This morning they came in and totally removed the port b/c his blood levels were good enough to end the dialysis. The credit belongs to God!

Just a few minutes ago the doctor said it was time for the surgical drain tubes to come out of dad's back. This spells improvement! They are also weaning dad further from the ventilator. We hope this comes out tomorrow. Dad has a little congestion in the lungs but the docs do not seem overly concerned. There is no temp and the other vitals remain normal.

Your love and prayer for our family has undoubtedly been the key to the successful progress. Please keep it up. It works!

I trust your Sunday worship was meaningful to all believers who read this blog. Isn't it great to know that the God of the universe is concerned about our smallest needs. Have a blessed day...and no slipping hides!


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dad's Progress (Part 2)

Hospitals are amazing places. In each room and waiting room are communities of people who represent a support group for individuals struggling to overcome injury, illness and/or serious disease. It is not uncommon to see tears, especially in an ICU waiting area. Tears represent the love in one's heart for another during crisis times.

We have shed our tears too while going through a pretty grueling five days of 'rooting' for dad to recovery from a long surgery on his back. As you know we really thought dad may have been living his last day on this earth. The doctors confirmed that. But, due to an army of prayer warriors things have changed for the better.

A nurse yesterday told me, "Long recoveries like this are sometimes two steps forward and one step back." Today feels like one of those days a little backward. Dad is now hooked up to dialysis to filter his blood and serve as an artificial kidney for a while. This will hopefully help his damaged kidneys to heal and recover from the damage they suffered due to dad's heart attack. Dad is still on the ventilator and we are hopeful that he will be off of it in a day, or at the most two days. Although dad is alert at times, enough to wink and squeeze and point at letters on a makeshift alphabet tablet we made for communication, he still drifts into deep, medicine induced sleeps. This rest is important for his healing and to help pass the time when there are more hoses, needles, monitors, pumps and whatever else they hook to a human body, working to help dad back to health.

In the big picture, we are moving in the right direction. Dad still has had little to no attention toward the healing of his back other than changing the bandages (which are clear and show no sign of infection). They have to give full attention to dealing with the more important issues of bringing health to his organs first. It seems dad's pain level is very manageable, something we were told early on that would be impossible. Thank God for that. You can see in dad's eyes that he is really tired...tired of the instruments...tired of the bed...tired of all the rigors of poking, prodding, rolling, etc. We just pray and continue to encourage him that all this is getting better and in a day or so we will be back to two steps forward.

Our family deeply appreciates all your prayers in dad's and our behalf. They are working. We ask you to continue to pray for him as we fully expect this nightmare to end up a glorious praise to the Lord. God does all things well and we are believing for total healing of dad.

May God bless you our friends and those who are reading this blog out of concern for dad and our family. Know that we love you and pray God's best for you and yours.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Dad's Progress (Part 1)

Today is a day of celebration. We see more improvement. It is hard to believe how ill dad was less than 48 hours ago. Today he is gaining ground. The doctor who gave me the bad news yesterday said today, "This just goes to show what prayer can do." Dad is starting to come around and be more alert. He asked me where he is today. I tried to briefly describe the gravity of all he has been through and you could tell he was amazed and had no idea. Not being able to speak he lifted one hand in thanksgiving while tears filled his eyes. God has been so good to us.

We still need your prayers. Dad has some damage to his kidneys which they believe will repair itself. Also, they are delaying doing the dialysis, thinking things may correct themselves with regard to toxins in the blood. Now we have to get dad's back healed up. This will be a process, but we expect it to be helped with favor from God.

Thanks to all who have called and cared. You are special to dad, to us and to God.

Have a great day.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

When all You can do is say Thank You

Today, October 3, 2008 is a day I will never forget! It is the day that, by all rights, my father should have died. But...thank God he didn't. I am writing this from the Intensive Care Unit of Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Here in room 14, dad's outstanding nurse, Dana, continues to fulfill the needful duties of giving the kind of care that goes beyond the paycheck and originates in the heart. I must say the entire staff has given us excellent service and care.

Two days ago my dad had a 13 hour spinal, corrective surgery. This was the 8th spinal surgery he has had, truly enough surgery to kill most men 30 years his junior. Dad is 72 and is a real hero to me. He is a great father...not a perfect one...a great one! The difference between being a perfect one and a great one is two things. First, telling the truth. If you tell the truth, there is no such thing as a perfect earthly father. The only perfect Father is in heaven. Secondly, perfection is actually based on forgiveness. When mistakes are made, it is forgiveness that creates perfection, just like we receive when our heavenly Father forgives us our trespasses and sees us as being perfect through Jesus' blood. All that to say, I have a perfect father.

Dad worked hard, being bi-vocational, to support our family when I was a lad. He has always been conscientious and giving toward others. A gentleman by choice, but a man that could square up to you and cover his own tracks if need be. He was a farmer and cowboy in the beginning. He grew up in a farming family with roots that find themselves in the boots of hard-working men. Dad is of the same mold.

There just isn't anything he couldn't do. Need an engine overhauled? Need to repair something? Want to build a house or barn? Working with wood, metal, fiberglass, whatever? Dad could do it. He pulled me up in my first deer stand at a very young age. He took me on my first airplane ride...he was the pilot. He taught me to admit go forward in the face of stand for what you believe. Dad is still extremely teachable, a rare quality among 72 year olds. He continues to be a student of the Bible...of people. He is a prolific reader and well versed in almost any subject. He calculated fire-direction in the army for towed howitzers long before they used computers to do the calculating. He did it with a pencil and tablet.

Dad's life today is fulfilled in being at the church he loves with the people he loves. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grandkids. I enjoy being with dad on Sunday evenings after the work is all done to watch a little football while eating MiMi's homemade goodies.

All of that nearly ended today. I held dad's hand and draped myself over him as the doctors feverishly tried to get his heart to function correctly. It was desperate times! He had suffered a post-operative heart attack and the domino effect had shut his kidneys down to 10% function. He was becoming toxic. His blood pressure was falling. His heart was racing and it was a night that crept by minute by excruciating minute. Early in the morning the cardiologist, Dr. Kerns, called me out into the hallway. I was not prepared for the news he gave me. "Your dad is in a dangerous state. His heart and kidneys have taken a backseat to his liver. His liver is now failing. One test should be at level one and your dad's is at level three. His enzymes should be at 60 and they are at 2700." "I want to be honest with you," he said as I braced myself. "People who have both kidney and liver failure have about a 90% mortality rate." I stared the man in the face and knew the odds of dad surviving the day was slim.

When I told our family the news we were all devastated. Devastation gathered us around dad's bed and turned into a prayer vigil. Calls and emails were sent out to summons fervent prayer. Prayer is that all important ingredient of the Christian walk that becomes the seedbed of great things. There were many tears in the room this morning. Could we be praying our final prayers with the man who has prayed so many for us?

Everyone left the room for a break except my wife, Tricia. She remained in the room with dad and continued praying. In boldness of spirit she felt to speak against the 'spirit of death' while proclaiming life. She sang to dad of healing. Then she placed a phone call wherein the party did not answer but his ring tone was the song, "How Great is Our God." When Tricia turned around, dad's eyes were opened and he was reaching up with hands that had not moved in two days. Tricia called an intercessor in our church, New Life, and told her a miracle was happening, to which Brenda answered excitedly, "I know because God gave me a word for you. Psalm 118:17, "I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord" Trish quickly called me on the cell and I ran through the ICU expecting the worst.

Instead, God had turned the situation from devastation to the beginnings of an amazing miracle. Dad looked straight at me through swollen eyes. When I took his hands, he could squeeze mine and nod in answer to 'yes and no' questions. I wept openly with sincere gratitude to God. I thought my dad and I may have had our final moments together, but God had other plans. Our family joined us in the room with shouts and tears of celebration and thanksgiving to God.

Throughout the day dad has progressively lived in a miracle. His kidneys started working. His blood pressure leveled off and they had to reduce the medication. His heart began to work well, that the cardiologist called up to the nurses station to say, "Tell the family the tests show Vestal's heart is functioning perfectly!" Dad is much more alert and appears to be in minimal pain although his back has been fused from the tailbone to the T-4 vertebra between the shoulder blades. Amazing! At this writing I have not heard any reports on the liver enzymes. Given the change in everything else, I expect there to be positive changes here too! One of the team doctors dropped in on dad an hour ago and said, "I have looked at the charts and what you say is true. This is a miracle."

I am aware that we have a ways to go. Dad is still on a ventilator; he has been fitted with a dialysis port for temporary dialysis in order to cleanse his blood further. There could be more 'what if's'. However, I choose to cling to the good and use them as faith-builders for the next obstacle. God is performing a miracle right before our very eyes!

When I think about the day we walk down the hall with dad and his 'new' back; when I think about a summer fishing trip where I get to watch him catch an Arkansas sandbass; when I get to look forward to watching dad and his brother play another game of dominoes; or watch dad worship again in church; or consider rooting the Dallas Cowboys through to another victory whilst eating a pan of brownies....all I can say to the heavens is "Thank You!"

Keep dad in your prayers for a full and complete recovery.

Thank you God for letting us witness this day of miracles I will never forget.

PS. While I was writing this blog, I saw men from a funeral home go down the hall to pick up someone who deceased today. Thank God they passed by our room.