It has been a while since the last update, and Peter has been progressing slowly, but well.
He continues to do make small improvements in his therapy sessions on the floor mat. It seems like each time I am able to help with one, I notice his muscles are a little stronger and we don’t have to physically hold him in the therapy positions as much. In addition to this, we help him practice holding his head up, and his neck muscles are getting a lot stronger. He can now hold his head for several seconds!
Because Pete’s neck muscles are getting stronger, he is also doing much better with his capping trials (which is where we cap his trach and he breathes through his nose). On Wednesday he breathed pretty much effortlessly this way for over an hour!
For a couple of weeks now, we have had the opportunity to transport Peter in the car and take him to church. As far as we can tell, he seems to enjoy it! Sometimes it wears him out and he can’t do much but sleep on Monday and Tuesday, so we don’t do this every week yet.
Also, Pete is beginning to look at people on command! It is not consistent yet, but occasionally when he seems really “there”, we ask him to look at specific people and he will move his eyes and sometimes his head. It is probably one of the most encouraging things we have seen him do. Sometimes we have to be patient in between these instances since he doesn’t do it every time, but when he does do it, it is really cheers us. He also now is aware of what goes on in the next room from where he is sitting, whereas, before, he was only aware of us when we were a few feet from him.
Peter also seems to be rediscovering that he has a mouth. His jaws stayed clenched shut for months, but now he opens it more often and makes chewing motions at times. We tell him, “Come on, Peter, keep at it, we want to feed you a cheeseburger soon” and “Come on, Pete, say something” as it looks so much sometimes as if he wants to speak.
Here are the things you can pray for:
1) Continue to pray for healing in Peter’s brain. Pray that Peter would not get tired of us asking him to do things over and over again. Repetition of movements, etc., help the neurons in his brain rebuild.
2) Pray for Peter’s spiritual and emotional encouragement.
3) Pray that we can establish some form of communication with Peter.
4) Andrew has been by his little brother’s side on this whole road of suffering. Andrew flew down from Indiana on the day Peter had his accident, (when we didn’t know whether or not he would live), and has rarely left Peter’s bedside since. As he had just completed his first year at Notre Dame as a PhD student in philosophy, he asked for, and was graciously given, a year’s personal leave of absence without losing his position there. Though the family, and so much of the extended family have pitched in to help with Peter’s care, Andrew is the one who does not live in this area. We are asking the Lord to let Andrew see some of the fruit of his many hours of vigil and labor in therapy with Peter before he resumes his scholastic life. Andrew has been a witness to so many of the medical people we have rubbed shoulders with over the past months. Many of them have marveled at the sacrificial investment he has given to his brother. He just replies to them, “Well, he’s my brother, and I love him,” as if to say, “What else would I have done?”
5) Pray that Peter would begin regaining his speech. This would be a great thing for Andrew to see before he leaves.
6) Pray for our patience and wisdom in our care for Peter.
7) Pray for our health and perseverance.
In other news, on March 16-19 the debate club that Peter used to be a member of is holding a debate tournament in Peter’s honor as a fundraiser. They are in need of judges and if anyone from the DFW area would like to volunteer, you can sign up at the following link: http://dfwspeechdebate.com/index.php?option=com_ckforms&view=ckforms&id=2&Itemid=111
Blessings to you all!
For the family,
We took Peter to church for “Sanctity of Life” Sunday this week. It was his first time back at our little church since his accident, now six months ago. Everyone greeted him warmly, and he appeared to enjoy being there.
Doug first took this pastorate almost twelve years ago, when Peter was six, so Pete grew up taking pages of sermon notes with “Bro. Dad” listed at the top as the speaker. Surely, being back at Rock Creek spurred memories for Peter.
Several people had not seen him since his accident, and, as is normal in the course of half a year in a small church, there were new faces he had never seen before. I wondered how people would see him: Peter as our goodnatured and strapping 6’4″ young man, or Peter as invalid. Would people be able to look beyond the wheelchair to see the dignity and value of my son’s precious life? (Hopefully a reasonable question to ask on pro-life Sunday!) Pete still can’t speak or control his muscles or always focus his eyes on the person speaking to him. Would that keep people from seeing him as we have known him for 18 years: winsome, humble, intelligent, and so much more?
We belong to a hardy church family that responded to Peter and his needs with dignity and love. The mother of one of Peter’s best friends told him, “Little brother, I miss having you play basketball in my driveway.” Another elderly woman called him “my Peter” and assured him of her frequent prayers. Men shook hands with him and filled him in on the news in their own lives.
Doug says that what we are doing at home with Peter makes a strong sanctity-of-life statement. Peter and Doug so often in the past sat across the table from each other, eating cheeseburgers together in joy and fellowship, and though now we feed Peter through a stomach tube, Doug says that if we do it with love and eagerness, we give Satan’s cause a black eye. And every time we get up and turn Peter in the night, and do it with joy, we proclaim how precious Peter’s life is. And every time we give him a “range-of-motion” patiently and thoroughly, we take ground for the Lord’s kingdom. There are spiritual beings who watch us in the privacy of our home. The angels look in and rejoice when they see us treating Peter’s life as sacred. Ephesians 3 tells us that the wisdom of God is made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places through Christ’s church and what His people do.
So many of you have those in your own lives who are weak and cannot speak for themselves: from the unborn to the elderly. Surely, the way we treat these, who are all around us, reveals our hearts. Each person has potential and giftedness and value and a story. Do we treat them with the dignity due God’s image-bearers, seeing all the creative sides to their unique personalities, treating them as individuals worthy of getting to know? When we do, we shout to the world, seen and unseen, the sanctity of the lives God has graced us with.
I have used this facebook group to celebrate my son’s life. May it inspire everyone to take pleasure in the worth of all those individuals God has placed within your own spheres.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
A Note from Hope:
We have noticed that in Peter’s therapy session recently have been going better. When we have him down on the mat, his muscles are working with us and more toned than they have been in the past when we had to do all the work for him.
Peter has continued to make small amounts of progress in other areas as well. Over the last 2-3 months we have thought at times Peter might be crying, but there were never any tears. Recently, he has had that same look, but with tears. This is hard to watch, but it is encouraging to know that his body is regaining more function.
In light of this, I thought I would ask those of you who are willing to, to post words of encouragement to Peter on the group wall or Pete’s personal wall. Some of you already have. This enables some of us who help with Peter’s care to read these to him. This would be a neat way to provide support and encouragement to him from the body of Christ.
Please continue to pray for Peter’s healing and strength and thank the Lord with us for how far Peter has come since his accident in July!