Monthly Archives: December 2011

Day 45.0

Dear Family and Friends,

Miracles happen. They may take a long time but they happen. As the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day.” (Yes, this is Julie writing!) Good things keep happening over and over. Philip seems to be doing new things each day! We are so excited to see what each day holds. As Phil is able to do more things, two things are apparent. Two things that need prayer.

First is that Phil’s brain is working. He knows what is being asked of him to do. He might be asked to stick out his tongue. He knows what sticking out your tongue means but he cannot get his brain to send the right signal to his tongue. He will try and maybe his jaw will move or his lips will quiver. Phil when asked to stick out his tongue usually manages to move his mouth but cannot do  exactly what has been asked. The medical reason for this is that his neurons in his brain were stretched and torn during the injury. The motor/planning centers in his brain are not connected to the taking in information centers. (sorry, that was generally unscientific!) He hears commands but cannot get his muscles to do what he wants them to do. This is common for TBI patients, but we have an uncommon God. Pray that God makes connections in Phil’s brain!

The second pray request is about Phil’s lip muscles. This is also very common issue so nothing to be drastically alarmed at. whew. Phil needs to strengthen his lips so that when he talks, his words are clearly heard and that he is able to be understood. Phil is talking lots but is showing signs of frustration because we cannot understand him. Phil is amazingly able to say whole phrases and simple sentences ; “I don’t like that,” “Not right now,” and, “leave me alone,” are his favorites. He had his family in a fit of laughter today as he repeatedly told his speech therapist “not right now,” when she asked him to do something. Phil is working on saying “yes” and “no” which will help him communicate with his therapist, nurses, and doctors. But again, PRAY for his lip muscles. Stronger lips means more words and more food.

Lastly, PRAY for Janet and John as they look for and decide on alternate housing. The Shepherd Center gives families of PREP Patients 30 days of free-housing. The end of our 30 days is this friday. Ouch time. Pray for them, especially Janet as they adjust to living away from Phil, even a 30 minute drive will seem like eternity.  And PRAY for me, Julie as I catch a lift home tomorrow with the wonderful Greene family as I start back student teaching at Scott Co. High School on monday. PRAY that I can handle it.

Lastly, I want to leave you with a story of good news. Today in Physical Therapy Phil was placed on a bench in a seated position, just like you or I would be at a little-league game. Phil was able to hold himself in the upright position, holding on to the side of the bench by himself without other support for several minutes. He continues to become physically stronger everyday.

and PRAISE JESUS for what He has done. Miracles happen.

Day 44.0

Hello friends,

Today has been another one of those good days for Phil.  We have been very thankful to see a few of these in a row.  Phil had some breakfast this morning and ate some applesauce and a little bit of milk.  He still needs to strengthen his mouth muscles as he had trouble holding in thinner things.  Tristen was giving him some plain yogurt and Phil said, “I don’t like that.”

Phil did group therapy again in the morning, which we did not get to see, and he got a new cast on his left foot to stretch it further.  In the afternoon Phil began a new type of therapy, “Activity Based Therapy” with a lady named Christy.  Here Phil began to bike.  They left him in his wheelchair but attached his legs to pedals, just like at the gym.  Christy proceeded to attach electrodes to Phil’s left leg which would be used to stimulate Phil’s muscles and ‘turn them on’.  Once Christy turned on the machine, the electrodes on his leg turned his muscles on in a sequence to help him know how to move his leg.  Christy said this would start the motion, then Phil would finish it himself, so he was doing some work.  Phil’s right leg didn’t have electrodes on it because the doctors didn’t want any stimulation on his right leg because of his hip fracture not being totally healed.  Originally his right leg was strapped up to a pedal, but it was too hard for Phil and his right leg got stiff, so Christy took the right pedal off and Phil just pedaled with his left leg.  This continued for 12 minutes and then Phil had a cool down period in which he continued pedaling with his left leg without the help from the electrodes.  He was doing it all by himself for about 30 seconds!!!

Christy mentioned that this biking exercise would help reconnect Phil’s muscles and his brain, so that he could learn to bike on his own quicker, without any stimulation.  She said PT was trying to help him control and balance the muscles and movements which he had control of, where Christy worked on getting some of the movements he might have lost, back.  Christy really pushed Phil, which resulted in us seeing him pedal for a while all on his own.  Obviously biking will help with doing a little bit of exercise compared to sitting in the bed, aswell.

Speech therapy was after this but Phil was asleep so Tristen couldn’t really get anything out of him.  He was really worn out after biking.  Tristen talked to Mom and I (John) after therapy and said, “My guess is that Phil will be rehab level by next week sometime.”  This was a surprise and a really great thing to hear for us.  This would not be a big switch, as Phil would be in the same place and working with the same people, he would just be out of the PREP program.

Since therapy Phil has been sleeping really peacefully.  At 8 Julie and I went to see Phil and he was sleeping well the entire time.  It is good to see him get some rest, as it is hard to watch him storm when we know he needs his sleep.

We are very happy and rejoicing to see this recovery so far in Phil.  In Atlanta we are thanking and praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He is king, and he loves us so much.  All glory and honor are His, forever.  He is with us always.

— John —

Day 43.1

Hello guys,

Today was an excellent day for Phil.  Early in the day his speech therapists Tristen re-evaluated Phil on the JFK Scale.  She said Phil jumped up to a 14 on the scale while last week he was at a 10.  This is great news.  Tristen talked to us later in the day and told us the reason he jumped up because he responded to sound more, meaning he would turn his head to a voice or a sound out in the hall.  Of course there are other things, but this is a very important part of recovery.  The JFK scale goes to a 23 and Phil needs to reach about a 20 before they can start regular rehab with him.  When he got here he was a 6, so he has jumped 8 steps in three weeks, and he has four weeks left if the PREP program.  On the Rancho scale Phil is a 3 and needs to be a 4 for regular rehab.

As you heard Phil had some apple sauce in Speech therapy and drank some water from a cup.  The drinking was good because it showed us he had the muscle to close his lips around the cup to drink.  He still needs to build those muscles more, so practice is good.  Tristen told us tomorrow he will be served breakfast, pureed style.   In OT Phil was set up on a mat and Vanessa worked on getting him to look up with his head, and talk a bit.  Phil has been doing better holding his head up and is working on getting it higher.  He did get some words out, though not all of them are clear.  I was glad to see Vanessa working with him because she was working hard and loved doing a little extra work with him.  She said afterward, “This is the fun part, when they get better.”  I can tell she really enjoys her job and loves her patients.

Other than that, Phil has become a bit agitated recently, which is hard to watch, but it is a sign that he is waking up more, which is a great sign.  We are happy for that and ask that you continue to pray for peace for Phil along with a full recovery.  Other news is that the family is starting to look for other places to stay for the weeks that we will be here without an apartment provided for us.  Pray for guidance for our decision and that God provides a good place for us.

Thanks you all for praying and loving us in our time of need.  Keep loving Jesus, he’s coming for our souls.

Day 43.0

This text just in from my momma who is with Phil in Speech Therapy. “Phil just are 2 bites of applesauce! He also swallowed 3 sips of water with the ST.”

Celebrate with us friends, Phil is back to his favorite activity….eating.

His therapist ordered him breakfast tomorrow morning. Pureed Meat, Eggs, Yogurt, and more Applesauce.

Phil will still have his feeding tube. This is just step one. As mentioned before, pray for Phil’s lip muscles. He needs to strengthen them in order to progress forward with talking.

God is so good. The Victory belongs to Jesus. Emmanuel has come. Jesus is risen. Worship  with us.

All praise to our Father, the creator of joy and good food.

Day 42.0

Phil has had a big day today. It was a day of many small steps.

First, Phil in OT had a cast put on his left arm from the wrist to above his elbow. This cast will help loosen his muscles in his arm and combat the spaciticty in his arm and wrist. It seems that the muscle relaxation medicines are working but he needs extra support. His OT, Vanessa was a bit concerned how he would manage with this new cast, still having one on his right ankle and foot. Phil seems to not like it but is managing both casts.

Group therapy went well today. Phil was placed in a group with two other patients, Justice and Ned. He did not have much interaction with these other two men but he had multiple therapist working with him at once. Phil was placed on the tilt table working his way up to 35 degrees. This vertical movement proved to be to much for Phil today and he was taken back down to lay horizontal. His therapist worked on loosening the muscles in his neck by turning his head to the right and the left.

In other news, Phil’s trac was taken out today. A smaller tube was then reinserted in place of the older, larger one. This new tube was then capped off for most of the afternoon which means……..Phil was breathing on his own, like you or I do, for most of the afternoon. At midnight, his nurse will uncap his trac so that he can breathe through the trac as he sleeps, causing him to not work so hard. Yet, even so, this smaller trac means that he will be working harder than before. And because of this change, we are hearing his voice more and more. Phil is consistently groaning and passing air from his lungs out his mouth. This also means when he coughs, it comes out his mouth not his trac. His respiratory nurses who check on him about every 4 hours say he is breathing perfectly with the new trac. Hearing his voice has been so encouraging to me and the rest of the family. Joy!

Lastly, Phil is slowly becoming more and more aware of his surroundings and can tell right away when someone walks into his room. Today while I, Julie, was with him, he heard the nurses walking down the hall way and he looked toward the door. The medicine seems to be working. Pray that it continues to work and that Phil continues to respond and move along the path of recovery. All Glory to Jesus.

 55-57“I called out your name, O God, 
   called from the bottom of the pit.
You listened when I called out, ‘Don’t shut your ears! 
   Get me out of here! Save me!’
You came close when I called out. 
   You said, ‘It’s going to be all right.’

 58-60“You took my side, Master; 
   you brought me back alive!

Lamentations 3: 55-58

Day 41.0

19-21I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, 
   the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— 
   the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, 
   and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, 
   his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning. 
   How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). 
   He’s all I’ve got left.

 25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, 
   to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, 
   quietly hope for help from God.

LAMENTATIONS 3, 19-27

Dear family an friends,

Remember that God’s Love never runs out. Keep praying for Phil, pray for love, pray for merciful love. The faithfulness of God have never been questioned. God is here, God is with us. Emmanuel has come.! We are sticking with God.

Phil is doing well. He has good days and bad days. Our emotions as his family and friends rises and falls with Phil’s daily activity. The Grabau’s have given us a reinforced hope, visiting us here in Georgia this Christmas season. It was a joy to spend time with friends that are so close, they are family. Lots of fantastic food was consumed, especially by John and Jonny. Gifts were exchanged, and games were played; the most excitedly a nerf gun war was had. We prayed for Phil as he spent most of the Holiday resting because his fantastic therapists were on holiday with their own families.

Phil, though having a weekend of rest, did not always have peaceful rest. Phil spent most of his nights “storming” and his blood pressure went up many nights. While storming is a natural and almost essential part of TBI recovery, we hope and pray and look forward to the time when storming is over. Keep praying for no more storming. Phil has had a chest x-ray so the doctors can rule out pneumonia as a reason for Phil’s storming but the doctors have not told us the results of this today.

Today, Phil was back to his normal schedule, having 3 hours of therapy. In PT, the cast that was on Phil’s leg was sawed off and a new cast was put on his leg. The therapist are using a series of casts to stretch out Phil’s ankles which will help to lesson the spacisity in his legs. This being the second cast means that the ankle is being held to a new angle. So far Phil is doing great with this cast.

In ST today, Phil was able to chew 3 ice chips but then promptly spit 2 of them out. On the third attempt, Phil was able to chew the ice and swallow it down. His ST believes that Phil’s throat muscles are able to swallow correctly but that Phil is having trouble controlling his lip muscles. There is a muscle that goes around the lips (in a circle) and to swallow Phil needs to be able to close his mouth using these lip muscles to create enough pressure in his mouth to swallow. The therapist said of the two issues, it is easier to relearn to move these lip muscles than the throat muscles. Just another note to show Phil’s personality coming through….:) His therapist put tape above his lip and bellow his lips to support this muscle. Phil did not like this tape at all! So what did he do? He yawned real big about 3 times using the muscles in his face to wiggle the tape off his face. That is the brother I know and love.

Phil’s OT Vanessa was back today from her Christmas holiday. She spent the hour stretching Phil’s muscles and said that he was doing well. Vanessa set him on the therapy mat, with his feet hanging off the side. (like you and I would do.) Phil was able to balance himself for a couple of seconds and found his center of gravity. This is great.

So friends and family, Keep praying for Phil. One last bit of news, Phil for the first time will have group therapy tomorrow. Pray that he responds well to this new form of therapy and to the other patients in the group. We are sticking with God. We are striving for hope. Just like Aragorn, we believe, “There is always hope.”

Day 40.0 (Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday Jesus!)

So today is the day that we celebrate the birth of our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. As I sit here listening to NBC sports center and try not to fall asleep, I write to you with mixed emotions. I, Kimmy, am writing the blog this evening. I am up at home, but am thrilled to soon be joining them in Atlanta. I have a small update for you on Phil, as John has been kind enough to give me the latest news. It’s been a few days since the blog has been updated, and there doesn’t seem to be much change in Phil.

The Grabau family joined the Duffs on the Eve of Christmas Eve. They all seem to be doing well, from what I’ve heard thus far, and though it has been a tough Christmas, Christ has been continually working and blessing through it all. I find that when I am surrounded by close friends and family at Christmas time, it is then that I am reminded of Christ’s Spirit at work in all our lives. The comfort of knowing God has provided loved ones for you to lean on when times are hard also reminds us that God is always faithful and never leaves us. He is with us always.

Yesterday morning Phil was given some ice chips and downed them pretty naturally. This is an encouraging sign. And John said that a couple of his regular therapists will be returning this week to again help Phil on his path to recovery. At some point in the day brother Stephen arrived to celebrate Christmas with the family and  visit with Phil. In the evening yesterday Phil was able to attend a Christmas Eve service with his family.  Phil was only allowed to attend because a respiratory nurse was also in attendance.

Today the family are enjoying some good time with Phil. They’ve watched some basketball together which Phil seemed to enjoy, and Ashley read some Christmas stories to him from the Bible this afternoon. From what I’ve heard it’s been a pretty good day; unwrapping gifts, lunch with family and friends, and time with the awesome Philip Duff.

Like many of you, I am sitting at home watching and waiting for the next post to appear, praying without ceasing that God is going to just wake Phil up in an instant. God has been good and faithful through it all, and we continue to praise Him for the progress that Phil makes. Phil’s recovery isn’t quite like TV dinners that you can pop into the microwave and DING it’s ready in 3 minutes… it’s going to take a bit longer than that… But with Christmas comes the reminder that Jesus is with Phil through it all.

DAY 37.0

Phil has been doing well recently friends.  Nothing spectacular has happened since you have heard last, but he seems to become more and more aware each day, looking around more and knowing what is going on.  It is hard for the family to gage this because we see him every day.  Today one of the nurses that had worked with Phil last week stopped him and me, as we were walking around a bit, to comment on how good he looked.  She commented on his heightened awareness and that he looked great.  It was nice to hear that from Rachel.  Also, just now one of his doctors commented on him looking better and that he was moving in the right direction.

This morning Phil got another shower in his occupational therapy time and Megan from PT put another cast on his right leg to help it stretch out.  He seems to be taking the cast well this time and is less bothered by it.  Just now I came from some speech therapy time with Debbie, who is working with him for a bit while Tristen is on vacation.  Phil was given ice chips and she was seeing how he would take them.  As he had one in his mouth, we heard his vocal chords a bit.  We had not heard him since the first day he talked, so this was exciting.  It wasn’t any words, and it wasn’t in response to anything, but he was making noise which is a good sign.

Another new thing is that the doctors will soon put in a smaller tube in his trac, so that it forces him to work harder and will lead to him breathing normally again.  Right now he has a 8 mil tube and they will probably put in a 6 mil tube.  This is good news because it means progress.

All said, Phil is slowly improving, but giving him time is clearly the most important part of recovery.  Please pray that he sleeps well at night, as last night he did not because he was storming and aggrivated.  If Phil gets better sleep he will obviously be able to respond better during therapy, allowing a quicker recovery.

The family is getting ready for Christmas and the arrival of more folks down here during the holiday.  Please pray we have peace and joy this holiday.  We love all of you and thank you for your prayers.  Jesus is our king.

Day 35.0

Well, folks, today is a new day.  We’re searching for continued evidence of a positive linear regression on a plot of Phil’s miraculous recovery v. time.

Listen to Phil’s auto-biography of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ on Facebook.  Audio quality is less than amazing, so turn up your speakers, and prepare your heart to hear the Gospel.

Keep praying, friends.  Have we mentioned how good it is to be united in faith and prayer?  Jesus Christ, because of You, we will never be the same.

Day 34.0

Attention all Prayer Warriors and Fan Club members, Phil has had a great few days. While Phil is obviously still in much pain, he has been kicking butt and taking names. I, Julie, do not have a great memory but I spent 3 hours with him today through all three of his therapies.

First, Phil had Physical Therapy with Megan at 10 am this morning. Phil was put from his bed into his chair, when his tech nurse and Megan discovered that he needed a good changing and a fresh set of clothes. Read between the lines people. So once he had been changed and redressed not much of his 30 minute session was left, yet Megan stayed late and worked with his legs noticing that he was very relaxed and allowed his legs to droop into a normal seated position. (instead of extended out.)

After an hour of PT, his Occupational Therapist, Vanessa came and took Phil into the gym where she placed Phil on a tilt table for an entire hour. The angle was at 45 degrees. Imagine lying down, then standing up. You just went 90 degrees. Phil went half of that today, without his blood pressure and heart rate spiking too low or too high. Phil then went on to practice following commands that Vanessa gave to him. When asked to wave at me, Phil was able to open his left hand and extend his fingers but able to wave his right fist. Pretty awesome! Now we just need to get him to do both actions with both hands.

During OT, a former patient of the Shepherd Center, Chris came into the gym and met our family. Chris then asked to meet Phil and spent 10 minutes telling Phil his story and encouraging Phil on his road to recovery.Chris at one point said, “Man, I couldn’t even open my eyes and your way past that; you can do this!” It was also encouraging for my Mom to chat with Chris’ dad.

After an hour of being on the tilt table during OT, Phil had Speech Therapy for half an hour. HERE IS WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS! Tristen, his ST decided it was time to start working with Phil’s vocal chords. She placed a mirror in front of Phil so that he could see his own mouth movements. Phil, even after seeing himself remained calm and focused on the task at hand. In previous ST sessions, the mirror freaked him out a bit. Tristen, took the filter off his trac in his neck told him to take a deep breath. She closed the hole of his trac to see if he would breathe without the trac. She did this several times and then asked him to say a simple “AH” after he took a breath. The first few attempts Phil was obviously talking but no sound came out. Tristen explained to us that Phil was moving his muscles, he just didn’t have enough air to make sounds. About the 4 Th. attempted Phil as clear as day got a perfect AH out. Tristen was so impressed as were we his family. KICKEN BUTT AND TAKING NAMES!

Tristen then decided to see if Phil could say “HEY”. Phil tried several times in ST to say “hey” but was so exhausted after nearly 3 hours of therapy and did not manage the to get the air needed to speak. Over all Tristen was so happy and impressed with Phil’s progress. His next ST session, which is later today, Phil is attempting to eat ice chips! whooop!

Tristen explains that most patients are not able to speak with the trac still unless the hole is closed off but that some patients manage to do this. (Sorry about the description, don’t know the proper medical terms.)

So Jonny and I and Mom, take Phil back to his room to rest. Jonny is talking to Phil about something and for an instant turns away and Phil as clear as day says “HEY” to Jonny. Then he promptly went to sleep!

So prayer warriors, keep praying! Phil has a long road ahead but he seems to confidently be walking down it with a little help from his therapists, doctors, family, and friends. And of course one truly Awesome God.

EXODUS 4:11-12

The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and teach you what to say.”