Monthly Archives: November 2011

Day 15.0

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
   and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
   for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
   For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
   an advantage to those who see the sun.
For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
   and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
Consider the work of God:
   who can make straight what he has made crooked?

 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.

— Ecclesiastes  7:8-15

Seek the Lord, seek joy in the Lord, and instead of asking all the questions of “why?” let’s act in wisdom in this day of adversity and do just as the scripture recommends: Let us consider the fact that God has made us all, we are all his children, regardless of circumstances, and when tragedy strikes it’s not for us to question the Lord and his actions, “Why did you allow this to happen? Why haven’t you fixed him yet?” but rather for us to recognize that we do not know the mind of God. This unknowing is for our benefit so that we may not find out what will come next. We cannot scientifically observe God’s actions or evaluate him to give a prognosis on Him or a thesis on when, where or to whom he will make things ‘normal.’ Could you imagine knowing those answers?

Habakkuk 1:5 says to “Look among the nations and be amazed, for I’m doing something in your own day that you wouldn’t believe if told.” We are not meant to question God’s actions or to try to predict the future. We are to look around us and wonder in the miraculous moments in our every day life. To try and figure out why God moves the way he does puts us in a mode of tunnel vision where we ask of God a specific request but then the miracles which fall short of our specific requests get overlooked.

Jesus said he will return like a thief in the night, no one will know the day or the hour which he returns. God moves in mysterious ways to keep us in this state of unknowing so that we might fully trust in Him.

God cannot be understood, but we must trust in him, we must trust in his word, and we must trust in his love that he showed us by sending his son to die on the cross for us. One action of the Lord cannot be interpreted as a guarantee of his movement again in the same manner under similar circumstances. But we are told to live in expectation of the miraculous. We are told to pray with a heart of expectation, and we are told to love as he loved.

There is not much of an update on Phil’s condition from last night’s post to today’s. We know that Phil is a warrior (in all forms of the word), and so let’s pray for a progressive day today and rejoice in the miraculous that is right before our eyes.

Day 14.0

So I suppose now is as good a time as any for an update. It is 10:16 and I left the hospital about an hour ago. If things have changed since then, I do not know. I will tell you what I do know though, God is working. God is doing big things in and through Phil. Today Phil had his eyes open for quite a while. At one point, John and I were back in the ICU  with him and it appeared as though Phil were reaching for the finger that John had told him to follow with his eyes. He has also been reaching towards the feeding tube that the doctors put in yesterday.  His heart rate was pretty high today, but that is his body’s response to pain. Though it is uncomfortable and quite inconvenient for Phil to feel this pain, and we all hurt to see him in distress, it is a good sign that his brain is on its way to recovery. This means that it is sensing and sending signals back and forth throughout the body that something is hurt and needs to be fixed.

The nurse today was Nikki. She has been caring for Phil the past couple of days. She performs tests every two hours to check Phil’s responsiveness. Today she pinched him and he opened his eyes, as well as moved his right arm to grab at the pain. He has been moving more and more lately, and the nurse said that he is slowly waking up. Being mindful of this, it neccessary to be aware that it is going to take some time for Phil to fully awaken. With God’s help and Christ’s healing, though, all things are possible. I truly believe that God is working in this… Phil’s progress so far is incredible. What a blessing it was to see those brilliant brown eyes OPEN! Though he wasn’t really able to register WHAT he was looking at, his eyes were open. That’s a step in the right direction. Keep praying for Phil and the family. Pray for grace and peace as Phil begins to wake up, and pray for strength and a renewed and ever growing faith in God’s redeeming and unfailing love for the family.

God knows Phil, inside and out. He created him. He mended him in before and behind. If anyone can heal Phil, it is our  Lord and Savior. He is good, He is great, and His timing is perfect. I was reading through my Bible, and at the front it has some encouraging verses for women overcoming breast cancer, but they fit well for Phil’s circumstances as well…

God knows you intimately, body and soul.’

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are WONDERFUL, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your books before one of them came to be.”  (Psalm 139:13-16)

God is the source of Your healing.’

“Praise the Lord, Oh my soul; all my inmost being, praise His Holy name. Praise the Lord, Oh my soul, and FORGET NOT His benefits- who forgives all your sins and HEALS ALL YOUR DISEASES, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with LOVE and COMPASSION.” (Psalm 103:1-4)

God  is pouring out His love over Phil and the rest of the family. He is moving mountains bigger than we could have ever imagined would be before us. Phil’s body is fighting to rewire itself, and with God’s Mercy and help, he is doing well.

God’s timing is PERFECT.’ 

“I am still CONFIDENT in THIS: I WILL see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. WAIT for the Lord; be strong and take heart and WAIT for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)

We are in a season of waiting, as we have entered into the season of Advent, and as we await the knowing of the unknown. But our God is great and our God is good and His timing IS perfect. So we wait. And strength will rise as we wait. Praise be to God for Phil’s health and strength so far, and praise be to God for the days to come.

Day 13.0

Just a quick update on Phil.

The hip surgery that we were expecting Phil to be scheduled for today was cancelled. The Orthopedic doctor this morning decided that there was no point to put Phil though another surgery and risk infection (smart man) since the break in his bones will fuse on their own. They do not expect Phil to be up an moving any time soon and since he is laying still and on traction they see no point in the surgery. Here’s a brief video of what skeletal traction is exactly: (the first minute or so explains, the rest is caring procedures for nurses or CNA’s)

Today however they are still intending on a tracheotomy and also a feeding tube. This will remove the tubes  from his nose and mouth and be more comfortable for Phil in addition to being safer from infections and sickness.

Be in constant prayer over the medical and surgical teams that will take Phil under their care this afternoon sometime (exactly what time is still unknown). In addition pray for no complications with the procedure, and that he would regain consciousness soon after the surgery is complete.

We are all in anticipation for Phil to wake up and to continue to progress in his responses to pain stimuli.

Day 12.0

Last night was a great night for Phil! Yesterday the EVD drain that excretes cerebrospinal fluid was clamped shut to see if his ICP would remain stable. Since throughout the night his ICP never increased to threatening levels, this morning he had a CT scan done which revealed that there was no swelling in Phil’s brain, so the drain was pulled. This is GREAT news!

After monitoring his ICP for a full day, tomorrow Phil has been scheduled for surgery to fix his hip and insert a tracheotomy which will allow him to be taken off the ventilator and be more comfortable breathing. He is steadily progressing in his response to pain, but we are still unaware of the extent of the damage done on his brain from the accident and all the secondary swelling.

Continue to be in constant prayer for Phil as the next few days could largely determine a lot for how Phil will recover from this accident. As the pentobarbital should be largely out of his system by now, the hope is that he will regain consciousness at any time.

12 days have passed since John and Phil’s accident, and emotions have been up and down and all over the place as we have been through the worst of news, to constant unknowns, and have ultimately come to wrestle with the fact that this is going to be an unpredictable, long, and hard road. Phil’s recovery conditions are still largely unknown, even in light of recent good news, and we will remain praying fervently for Phil’s recovery to bring us back the Phil Duff we all know and love. Our God remains to be the Almighty Healer, and through him all things are possible.

There is no telling how God will choose to use this situation for his glory. But one thing we do know is that God will use Phil for his glory… He already has, and he will continue to. Remain in constant fervent prayer with us for Phil and for his family and friends as the adrenaline has long since worn off and true emotions and fears are starting to settle in about the reality of the road ahead.

Christ is our rock. Christ is Phil’s rock. To Him be all glory, honor, and praise.

Day 11.0 (a brief note from the waiting room on waiting)

Relative to drastic ups and downs of the past ten days, Phil is doing great!  His ICP is miraculously–Glory to God (!!)–remaining stable at a good level–between 7 mm Hg and 9 mm Hg most of the day.  He’s responding to the pain stimuli in much of the same way that Ashley explained on the 10.0 note.  The nurses periodically check to see progression (let’s remember to pray for them still).  And we pray for peace for Phil!  Please, bless him with peace.

And so it begins, a new Advent season.  These weeks will be a bit different than most Advent seasons for the Duff family.  God has already begun circumcising our hearts anew and making us fresh in the attitudes of our minds.

We wait.  We wait on Phil as he begins slow, quiet, and relieving progress towards good health.  (And we continue to pray, support, and love, as we wait, celebrating the power of God at work among us!)  We wait on Christ to come in all his majesty–all of the fullness of God– to come.

Words from an online devotional  marking the beginning of this season of waiting:

“Advent is a season meant to slow us down, to open windows of awareness and health, to trigger consciousness. It is about finding the kind of quiet and the sort of emptiness that can expectantly offer a place for the fullness of God as an infant among us.”  (Slice 2601, Slice of Infinity, RZIM)

How good and right it is for us to have been crying out for Phil to be restored in the past days, and to continue to pray for healing.  But friends, let us not forget the beauty of being empty-handed, bare, and helpless before God!  Beautiful and sweet surrender to God, our light which cannot be extinguished.

Church, let us pray to be humbled in a special way by the undeniable demand for us to have patient spirits.  Our hope is in You, Jesus Christ!  We pray that you bless Janet and her lovely family.  We pray a hedge of protection around the Duff family.

Blessings to all of you readers!

Day 10.0

“Wake up O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!”  – Ephesians 5:14

Good news coming from Nikki (Phil’s day nurse) this morning! While the night might originally appear to be a little rough because Phil required 2 doses of mannitol to bring down his ICP, it was extremely encouraging to walk into the ICU unit this morning to find Phil with a few less of his tubes and chords connected to him.

The EEG has been removed from his bedside; the neurologists are extremely satisfied with the activity of his brain and  don’t feel the need to monitor it any further. Originally Phil had a CT scan scheduled for this morning but that too was cancelled. Nikki reported that “the Neurologists are not concerned with the activity in his brain right now and a CT scan at this point is unnecessary.” This doesn’t mean much in relation to the amount of permanent damage done to Phil’s brain… that will be determined after the EVD drain has been removed, but it is still a reassuring sign nevertheless to have fewer tests than originally anticipated and to know that the doctors are ‘pleased’ with his progress.

What might be even more of a celebration however is that the nurses have started to test Phil’s neurological responses. What this means is that they inflict a localized region of pain to Phil’s body by either a pinch or a rub and monitor how he responds. Yesterday, Phil was showing the lowest level of response; which means turning away from the pain when it was inflicted. Subsequent levels of response include, moving toward the pain and crossing the mid section of your body, pushing the stimulant away from the area of pain, and full responsiveness to pain as you or I would respond.

Around 4 am this morning, Danielle came around to do her routine neurological tests. As she monitored Phil’s movements some unexpected happened. Phil opened his eyes! That’s right, opened his eyes! I don’t know where that puts him on the responsiveness scale, the nurse was a bit unsure too, but there was no doubt that this was a good sign as Nikki reported to Janet, “Danielle wanted to call you at 4am this morning she was so excited.” In addition, Phil is no longer moving away from the region of pain, but more toward it as if to swat it away. He hasn’t made it across his mid section yet, but he is progressing in a manner that is very very pleasing to the nurses.

He does however still have some pentobarbital in his system, and could potentially have it there for 5 days, so his comatose “condition” (in regards to response levels) won’t be completely known until then. As far as knowing the full extent of the damage, that could still take awhile to determine. We are still praying that his ICP remains low and stable. If it can remain in a satisfactory range for several consecutive days then they will clamp the drain and if he can still control his ICP it will be removed. At that point tests can be run to determine the extent of the damage. Keep praying my friends. The Lord is healing Phil.

Praise the Lord for progress!

Day 9.0 (Thanksgiving)

Happy Thanksgiving family, friends, pastors, interceders, prayer warriors, and all those who have touched or have been touched by Phil’s life!

This morning I was reading 1 Chronicles 16 (Ashley here) and I was moved by the similarities and symbolism of the holiday we are celebrating today. David has already been made King, and chapter 16 is his Song of Thanks once the Ark of the covenant has been brought to Jerusalem and placed in a tent. A little bit of history about the Ark:

The Ark of the covenant first entered history when the Israelites were commanded by God to build a tabernacle as they were wandering around in the wilderness. It was seated in the holy of holies and this was where God’s glory dwelled. No one was allowed in the holy of holies except for the high preist once a year to make the sacrifice. This was physical presence of God dwelling with Israel.

When the Philistines captured the ark of the Covenant, it wasn’t long before it was returned; 7 months (1 Samuel 6:1). The Ark was feared by the israelites for its power that killed Uzzah when it fell upon him in transportation (1 Chronicles 13). So for a while it was placed in the house Obed-edom because they feared taking it to Jerusalem. Once the Ark had blessed the house Obed-edom, it was brought back to Jerusalem and David “prepared a place for the Ark of God and pitched a tent for it.” (15:1)

Once the Ark was placed in the tent and burnt offering given David blessed the people of Israel in the name of the Lord and gave them all food to eat. (16:1-3) then he “appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord” (16:7) since the ark had returned to the Israelites.

David sings: (1 Chronicles 16)

“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;

make known his deeds among the peoples!

Sing to him; sing praises to him;

tell of all his wondrous works!

Glory in his holy name;

let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Seek the Lord an his strength;

seek his presence continually!

Remember the wondrous works that he has done,

his miracles and the judgements he uttered,

O offspring of Israel his servent ,

sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!”

The song continues on about remembering God’s covenant and the battles won, which I encourage you to read. But more than that, this Thanksgiving I encourage you to sing your own song of thanks to God. Give Thanks… we say that a lot. But really, truely, this Thanksgiving, Give Thanks. Give Thanks to God. Give thanks that the glory of God dwells within you, and give thanks for all that He has done.

So as I sit here waiting on the 20 pound turkey to roast I ponder over my personal song of thanks. I realize all Christ has done for me, but more importantly I realize what he’s done for all of us, and the one thing I know we all share in thanks for today is that we are all thankful for Phil.

Phil, you are loved dearly.

“Baby steps, Phil, baby steps” was Emily’s reply as we heard the morning report of Phil’s overnight status. Kim reported that his ICP was pretty good all night long, they did have to give him a dose of mannitol once, which was the first in almost day. Progress, praise Jesus… slow, small, and steady.

Phil also was running a bit of a temperature, which is being  controlled by ibuprofen. The nurses also stated that if his ICP remains under 25 for the next few days, that the drain in his head could then be removed. This is great news! The drain is a way to relieve pressure in his brain when there is too much swelling. You can read more information on this device called an EVD. (External Ventricular Drain)

So today as you are preparing your own stuffed birds, various side dishes and giving thanks, praise the Lord Jesus Christ and keep praying my friends. Never cease. The road is long.

Day 8.1

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”  (Isaiah 65: 17-19)

O God, our Counselor, we pray with hearts not set on earthly expectations, but instead, captivated by the kingdom of God at this present moment.  We ask this after forfeiting all selfishness; we are not our own.

Show us the small victories in these days, God, and teach us to celebrate.  Teach us how to celebrate Phil and the unity You are bringing about in the Church.  Above all, teach us to celebrate the gospel!  Christ took on the sin of the world, so that we may have life eternal by believing in him!

Day 8.0 (What a Relief)

Though the road ahead is still long and much is unknown about the journey to come, we know this much: Phil can poop.

(By the way this is Kimmy)

Today, just recently in fact, Phil’s nurse announced that the two visitors in the room should promptly exit due to the fact that Phil finally defecated. 🙂 GO PHIL! Shouts of joy broke out in the waiting room and exclamations of praise to Jesus, sincere, odd as they may seem, for such an occurence as this.

In other news, more encouraging even than the previous information stated above, Phil is finally off of pentobarbitol, and is still stable. His ICP has been at a stable enough level so as to not require ANY mannitol today, which is also a great praise! Christ has been working in healing Phil. It’s amazing the progress that has been made.

As I mentioned before, the road ahead will be long and we are still awaiting for his awakening, but we are praying to a loving God who hears us. We are praying to a God who loves us, and who does things for our good and His glory through all things. He is our Peace and our Joy, our Comfort and our Hope. God is so good. And we praise Him even in the midst of the storm, when the road ahead is unseen and winding; He is our shelter even now 🙂 He is Phil’s healer even now. He is his strength and his help and his EVERYTHING. What a mighty God we serve.

Go Jesus! Go Phil! What a great team!!!!

Day 7.2

Words of encouragement for all of the prayer warriors:

“The very question ‘Does prayer work?’ puts us in the wrong frame of mind from the outset. “Work”: as if it were magic, or a ma­chine—something that functions automatically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctu­ary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary—not necessarily the most important one—from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.” (C. S. Lewis, The Efficacy of Prayer)

Thank you, Chris, for passing on these words.  How great it is be in communion with God.