Ever since the scare several weeks ago when Peter was in the hospital due to complications with his trach, it seems like he has been overall more alert and aware of his surroundings. We really have no way of knowing whether or not this was caused by the shock from the traumatic experience, but regardless, we are really thankful for the times where Pete is more alert. Even though it is sometimes just a slight difference, it is so encouraging!
Peter has made a lot of small improvements recently because he has been more alert. Again, they’re small but all in the right direction! For instance, sometimes we try to spoon feed him during speech therapy and there have been a few occasions where he has taken up to five small bites of apple sauce in his mouth and swallowed it. Other times, Peter has moved his head away from the spoon. It seems like he is exercising his will or really agitated by it — all signs that he may be coming closer to another level of consciousness.
Pete has also made progress towards getting weaned off of his trach. We have capped the trach for several hours each day forcing him to breathe through his throat. This has also been fun because occasionally we will hear Peter groan or grunt because the airflow can now flow over his vocal chords! It really makes us look forward to hearing him talk again.
Here are the things you can pray for:
1) Pray for continued healing in Peter’s body.
2) Pray for success in weaning Peter off of his trach. It would be so nice for that to be out and also reduce the amount of care he needs.
3) Mom and Andrew are traveling to Indiana this week to take Andrew back to school. Pray for safety.
4) Pray the Lord would provide a wheelchair accessible van. Dad has been taught a one man lift to get Peter in and out of a vehicle, but we think it is now time to explore a better option. We haven’t found the right one as of yet.
5) Pray that we will be able to establish some form of “yes” and “no” communication with Peter. This would be helpful in our care for him on so many levels, and also give Peter a way to express himself.
6) Pray that Peter would have more and more awareness and gain back the ability to respond to us with more than just his eyes.
7) Continue to pray for healing for Andrew’s herniated disk in his back.
8) Pray for wisdom and stamina for the family as we figure out how to manage Peter’s care now that Andrew has gone back to school. We will miss him so much!
For the family,
A year has gone by. One year ago next Thursday, Peter drove to do a morning’s yard work for a widow in our church. He was earning a little pocket money for college expenses. Doug and I went to work out at the fitness center; we would see him later in the day. He never made it to her home. Instead we got a call from the hospital telling us that our son had barely lived through a horrific car wreck and might not make it through the day.
Now he is in our home. He and his brother Andrew, both history buffs, once tried to stump each other on hard questions: “Who was the French king who went on the fourth Crusade? Which Roman Emperor was a Stoic?” Now, Andrew shows Peter flash cards, hoping he remembers what a cat and a horse and a duck are.
Last year, he was eager to spread his wings and live as a young man, managing his own stuff and schedule at school. Now we dress him and feed him every day.
Last year, he was looking forward to sharpening his debate skills on the college debate team, for which, though an incoming freshman, he had earned a varsity scholarship. Today, we pray to hear him speak again.
So day after day, we continue therapy. We try to do one or more hours each of speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, and cognitive therapy every day, for a total of four to six hours daily, depending on how much sleep he needs that day. We continue to see small improvements.
You know, the Christian religion, contrary to what many believe, does not fit into that great American ideal of pragmatism. We got that from Ben Franklin, not Christ. We don’t follow Christ because “he works” to solve all our problems. We don’t trade in our obedience for present-day rewards. We get this notion in our heads that if we can just pray with a certain amount of faith, or obey all the “Christian” rules, or live our lives by certain “principles,” we are guaranteed the Lord’s blessings in tangible, earthly manifestations, in the timing we think best.
But this is not about “what works.” In fact, the Bible is pretty much a story of believers not getting earthly rewards for their following of Christ. See Moses, Joseph for years of his life, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Paul, Peter, and many other first century disciples. These people suffered great hardships throughout their lives, some without relief, even while doing what God had given them to do. The message is much more: you do what’s right and leave the results to God.
That ethic guides how we approach Peter. So Doug says that no matter how much recovery Peter ever attains, he would still do mat session daily. We would still keep him beside us and talk to him and read Scripture to him and play Mozart and Rachmaninoff for him and exercise his hands with his basketball. I guess you could call it our version of Martin Luther’s idea that if he knew that the world were coming to an end tomorrow, he would still plant a tree today. We do it because he is our son and it is right for us to do this for him, not contigent on any way Peter can pay us back for our investment in the future. Nothing that we do that is beautiful and right and obedient for Christ can ever be wasted.
“Duty is ours; results are God’s,” claimed that beloved but defeated military general. The tricky part is to do our duty by Peter in the midst of great grief, keeping hopeful spirits upbeat, even while we miss fellowshipping with him so much. As Andrew says, we can never let our sadness drive us away from Peter. Rather, in our sadness we move towards him and keep loving him. For that, we are daily dependent on the Lord’s grace.
Next week, Andrew will return to Notre Dame, to pick the academic thread of his life back up and resume the pursuit of his professional calling. He has been a full partner with his parents in this struggle; we have worked together daily to keep each other encouraged in the truth and to comfort each other with the Corinthians comfort of the Lord (2 Corinthians 1). I tremble in my boots over this, though Doug daily reminds me to put my trust in God. We lose not just a hard worker, but a dear and precious friend-in-arms with his absence. What has Andrew received for his labor? From an earthly perspective, a year’s lagging behind on his PhD, a herniated disc in his back, a depleted bank account, a disabled little brother–not very results-friendly. But oh, from the heavenly, so much, so much.
Last night, our church family gave Andrew a going away reception in our little fellowship hall, encouraging him and thanking him for the example of sacrificial love he had displayed to all of us. It was a close family time with tears and tender words, attending to something that had afforded us all a glimpse of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
This week Peter went to a new doctor who has worked with traumatic brain injury patients. After examining Peter, he was very encouraging to us and said he thinks that Peter will make a substantial recovery, it will just take time.
Last week there were a few times Peter seemed to be a little more aware of what was going on around him. During these times, we have started moving beyond asking Pete to look at people and objects by asking him more complicated questions about the objects or people. For example, we might hold up a bible and hymnal next to each other and ask, “Which book has A Mighty Fortress in it?” and see if he will look at the correct object rather than saying “Look at the hymnal”. We hope this will become consistent and indicative of another small step in Peter’s recovery process.
If Peter becomes more consistent in his ability to answer these types of questions, it would seem to us that he has more of a “locked in” syndrome where he understands more than we think he does, and is just severely limited in how he can respond to us. There are definitely times when we feel like Pete has a keen understanding of his situation, especially this last week, when we have found him crying several times.
In other news, we have changed Peter’s diet to get him off of the canned liquid food the that was full of sugar. For a week Pete seemed to feel pretty bad as he kind of had to detox, but we have seen a lot of good results in him since then because of the change in diet. We have also finished the bulk of the remodeling that needed to be done in the house! Peter now has his own room right off the kitchen (he used to be in the living room), and we now have a wheel chair accessible shower.
We have few big prayer requests right now in addition to the usual ones for strength and patience:
1) Shortly after Peter’s accident, Andrew’s back started hurting. Over the last year as Andrew helped care for Peter his back became worse and worse. Recently, we found out Andrew has a herniated disk. He is in a lot of pain, and we need wisdom to know how to help him before he returns to Notre Dame to continue his doctoral studies in less than a month.
2) Pray the Lord would provide a wheelchair accessible van. Dad has been taught a one man lift to get Peter in and out of a vehicle, but we think it is now time to explore a better option.
3) Pray that we will be able to establish some form of “yes” and “no” communication with Peter. This would be helpful in our care for him on so many levels, and also give Peter a way to express himself.
4) Pray that Peter would have more and more awareness and gain back the ability to respond to us with more than just his eyes.
5) Please continue to pray that Peter’s secretions would clear up so that he can rest and so that his trachea won’t be irritated from the constant hacking with a trach tube in his throat.
Thank you friends!
For the family,