Monthly Archives: January 2012

Day 76.0

Dear Friends,

Phil’s continuing improvement is an encouragement to us all.  I would like to start by mentioning that last week was the first week that Phil had consistently slept through the night! This is very exciting and we are very thankful for this.  Continue to pray that God gives Phil peace at night, as this is the time when his brain heals most rapidly.

Since last time Phil has improved even more.  He has been able to count on his fingers and put up how many you ask him too.  He does better when you show him, but he does okay when you just tell him.  He can also do a fist pump now!  Pretty cool.  He is still inconsistent when we ask him yes/no questions, so continue to pray that he will be able to do this better.

Today in therapy Phil did some more squatting, on both legs, then one at a time.  He was tilted at about 20 degrees from the ground, and was doing well.  In Occupational Therapy Phil was able to pass a balloon to Vanessa and take it from me, extending his left arm both times.  This was a great thing because it was an open chain exercise as opposed to a closed chain.  Pretty much that means the muscle he used was more isolated so he had to have had more control over it.  If you want to know more about closed vs. open chain exercises click here.  This is exciting to see because it means that Phil is starting to be able to coordinate his muscles more and more.

Today we also had a meeting with all of Phil’s therapists discussing our questions and concerns.  Mainly this had to do with taking Phil home on February 14.  Where Phil will go is a hard decision for us and will be tough for the family either way, so we ask that you pray for wisdom for Momma and the rest of the family to help in our decision-making process.  Thankfully we have others helping us along the way, as it seems like an overwhelming decision from the start.

The good news is that Phil is recovering at a good rate right now.  He is not to a point where he can do the outpatient therapy here at Shepherd, but he is still improving.  Though this is not good for the medical insurance’s timeline, we know that God is not restricted to earthly regulations and that he will be with us through it all.

Please continue to pray, as I know many of you are.  I thank you for that, and remind you that Phil will still need your prayers for many days to come.

–John–

Day 72.0

Dear Friends,

Phil has done incredibly well the past few days.

I’m a bit tired, so I might be quick, but first is that Phil is now able to point to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ cards when we ask him questions.  Tristen, his speech therapist, found this out yesterday and Phil answered questions accurately, so we know he can understand us.  At lunch I asked him, “Are you full?” He pointed to yes.  “Do you want more food?”  He pointed to no.  It is good to know we can communicate a little bit with my brother, as this is the first time we have been able to do this.

The night before last was the first time I saw Phil move his left leg in the bed, which was exciting.  Yesterday Phil stood up with help from Therapists who said he was initializing some of the standing up movement.  They stood him on a vibrating machine, which helped make his legs not so stiff.

Today in Occupational Therapy Phil worked on reaching up with his arms to give Vanessa a high-five, they were just arm lifts.  It is good to see him moving like this.  Last night I realized Phil can now give a thumbs up, high-five and try to put up the number of fingers you ask him too.  He is doing great.

Even better news came today when Phil had physical therapy with Kristy.  She put Phil on a machine in which he laid down and the machine lifted him so he was at a 30 degree angle from flat.  She then had Phil do some squats.  At first we had to help him start the movement, but later Phil was able to do this all by himself.  It was good to see Phil pushing himself up all by himself!  This movement will help him learn to stand on his own and also help when we transfer him from a chair to somewhere else.

This is very exciting news for all of us.  Please continue to pray for Phil’s speech as it will be much easier on him if he can tell us more of what he is feeling, as he is emerging more and more.

–John–

Day 70.0

Today I have been reminded of the many people out there praying for Phil. There have been so many comments from people of whom I don’t even know. I thank you all and am excited that you all are able to come alongside Phil in his recovery.

There is only a little news today, but it is all good, so I figured I would report. Firstly, last night Phil and I were watching Batman, the first one by Christopher Nolan. I realized that Phil was itching his nose. Even better news it was with his right hand; his left arm was stuck in a cast. It was really cool to see him go to work on the big guy. Little things, like seeing your brother scratch his nose and your grandfather winking at you, those are the things that give you real joy in life. So, Phil has been doing better with his movement. Today at lunch Phil continued to improve bringing food up to his mouth and eating more. Phil eats really slow, which is bad because sometimes he is rushed to go to therapy, so the therapists have decided to now give Phil a whole hour for meals. This is good news.

The next good news is that the doctors did an x-ray on his hip and he is now able to bear weight on both legs. He had not been able to put weight on his right leg since the accident, so this is very exciting. Megan (his physical therapist) mentioned that she will try to see if Phil can do some type of standing tomorrow, and maybe even see if he can take a few steps. We have no idea how well this will go, so don’t get too excited yet, but at least he can try.

That’s it for now. Continue to pray for Phil’s improvement in functional things like eating and moving his own body when he wants. Because of Phil’s inability to communicate clearly I am not sure sometimes if Phil can’t do what the therapists are asking him to do, or if he just doesn’t want to. Sometimes he gets upset and you can’t tell why. One stage of recovery includes unwillingness to participate, so Phil may just not want to help sometimes.

We thank God and praise him continually as he walks with us through this season in our life. We continue to remind ourselves that it’s all about Jesus, and our lives should point to him. Continue to pray.

–John–

Day 69.0

Dear friends,

Today has been my first day that I have been able to see Phil all day in therapy in a while, so I decided it would be good to update you all on what I have witnessed. There are many things that I know Phil has been doing, which are good to see first hand.

In speech therapy today Tristen and I agreed that Phil is getting better at repeating words which we ask him to say, but he is still unable to communicate his own thoughts. Today in therapy Phil repeated the words: macaroni, banana, January, hungry, and green. Tristen thought that Phil might be more responsive to words that had to do with food, thus the use of ‘hungry’. At one point during ST Phil seemed to get really aggravated and almost started to cry. He also took his hand up to touch his glasses as he bowed his head down. I don’t know if his nose was itchy or if he was annoyed with his glasses, but it is good to see him express this emotion. Though it is tough for Phil, this is a sign of him emerging more and more. Tristen added that it is good for us to help him repeat those words because it is good for his brain to connect and say correct things rather than trying new ones all the time and getting a higher percentage wrong.

In OT and in PT Phil was being stretched. Though his head is much more center much of the time, he has a habit of leaning left which may cause shortening in his trunk muscles, so Vanessa and Megan (his therapists) were stretching Phil so this doesn’t become a larger problem. While with Vanessa Phil was on the edge of the mat leaning forward and was asked to sit up. Phil then was able to pull himself back to an upright position, which was excellent to see. Megan also told me that he had been pushing out his leg a bit when she asked him. It is good to see him regaining a little bit of control over the muscles in his body. The connectors in his brain are slowly starting to work again.

The big news is that Phil got his trac out today. In its place is a button right now that looks like the button on a blowup mattress where you would blow in the air. We are told this will be in for about a week then it will be taken out and Phil will be finally allowed to go off the floor with just his family. This is great news. We will be able to take him outside and around the hospital and if we get a short training, out down the street for a walk. This is exciting as Phil has only been outside once since the accident.

Phil does continue to improve his attention and awareness aswell. Today I realized that I could say, “Hey Phil,” and he would look at me. Three weeks ago we were excited when he would turn his head to a loud noise or even be able to focus on others in the room. Much of Phil’s improvement these past few weeks has been hard to see because it has been things like this, which aren’t tested on in therapy. The fact that he is unable to communicate makes it hard to gage where he is at, but we are happy and rejoice over many little things pointing to improvements. Phil is getting there.

Being able to see Phil improve along with the other patients whom we have seen in the therapy gym gives us a much better idea of how he will recover and progress with time. It is hard to wait, but we rejoice with each little step along the way knowing that our care and prayer for Phil is what we can do to help him.

A praise apart from Phil that has come up recently is that our dear teacher friends have donated enough sick days to my mom to last until the end of this school year!!! Hooray. Thank you church.

I know there are a huge amount of people reading this and even more praying continually for Phil, so I thank you for your faithfulness. Surely your treasure is in heaven. Continue to pray for Phil.

–John–

Day 66.0

Dear Friends,

I don’t really know much of what to say, as I haven’t been in Atlanta this week, but I know that Phil is very much in need of prayer.  At this point Phil is not at a level where he could participate in outpatient therapy and hasn’t improved enough recently to get there on time.  Though he seems to be improving slightly, he has not improved enough to be rated higher on the hospital’s scale of recovery for the past 2 weeks.  The end date for rehab at Shepherd is February 14.  If Phil does not reach a level where he can be mobile on his own and communicate freely, he will not be fit for outpatient here and we would have to take Phil back to Lexington, to take care of him and have the potential for therapists work with him there.  The most likely options are to take care of him at our own home or to place him in a nursing home/rehabilitation center  back in Lexington. As of today our house does not meet the necessary dimensions for Phil to live here.  Basically, our doorways and hallways are too small.

Please pray for continued healing and recovery for Phil.  We know that Phil will still continue to recover even if he doesn’t get to the correct level for outpatient therapy, but his family needs prayers for wisdom and healing.  We love Phil a lot and want to be able to give him the best environment to continue to recover quickly. Especially pray for Janet (momma) as some tough decisions are coming her way. Pray for everything. Believe in God’s healing and provision.

“There are two thing for us to learn from those who were healed by Jesus: (1) they knew their desperate need, an (2) they put all their hope in Jesus.” (Mike Wilkerson)

We know our need, I pray we put all our hope in Jesus.  Pray for peace for my momma as she has been upset by the idea of bringing Phil back to Lexington before the outpatient therapy.  Thanks for praying, I’ll do my best to keep you all updated so you can know how to pray.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

–John (and Julie)–

p.s. If you have not read your information about Phil from this blog, please do not pass on information about him that is incorrect. We are getting tired of this. We value and covet your prayers and know God works miracles. Put your hope in Jesus, and direct friends to this blog for info. Thanks, Julie

Day 61.0

Dear Family and Friends,

This is Julie, writing for the last time, for a while at least. Momma aka Janet will be taking over the Blog responsibilities for the rest of the week. Kimmy was so nice to explain how everything works on wordpress for my mom. John, Kimmy, Mrs. Stephan, and I are heading back to Lexington tomorrow early in the A.M. I wanted to write one last post to encourage all you prayer warriors out there.

I have learned one thing this weekend. Worship the LORD no matter what and we will see God’s Glory. I just happened to read this passage this morning in my morning worship with Phil.

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers[l] in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[m] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn[n] among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

Romans 8:26-30

“HE GAVE THEM HIS GLORY.” Those words have certainly rung true this weekend in Phil’s life.

This morning,I chose to skip church and spend some quality time with Phil. When I arrived, he was quite agitated as he has been for most of the weekend. Thinking quickly I started singing again and Phil joined right in with me. After a short time of worship, I grabbed Phil’s bible and he held it in his hands and I read to him for about 45 minutes. During that time Phil switched from excitement to depression. Looking at him I said, “Phil, don’t worry you will remember how to read this soon.” He brought the bible up to his lips and he kissed it. (It was obvious that Phil knew that this was his bible but he could not figure out what the words meant.) Isn’t a testament to God’s grace that Phil is still so passionately in love with his creator? This boy is going to be a pastor, I believe it. No matter what. We sang some more and I prayed for us. After the short prayer was over, Phil said “thank you” grabbed my hand lifted it to his lips and kissed it. Best kiss I ever got. Then we quickly proceeded to watch football highlights!

After this, it was time for Phil to eat lunch. So i helped him eat and he was able to hold his bottle of milk in his hand himself with little support for me. Phil also didn’t like the roast beef too well cause when I fed him some, instead of spitting it out like usual, he brought his hand to his mouth and took it out. And he gulped down his vanilla Ensure. He loves those things.

It is encouraging that Phil is starting to use his arms and is starting to do some more normal things on his own.

Here are some prayer points:

  • Keep praying for Phil’s speech.
  • Control of his arms and neck, especially when agitated.
  • Maintaining Eye contact when people are speaking to him.

*God is good. We have seen his Glory, the Glory of the One and Only.*

Day 60.2

So on a day when I think getting a new computer is the best thing ever, God shows up and blows my face off and I am humbled by his love and his goodness.
Phil was pretty agitated this evening. We his family tried to calm him down doing whatever we could. Kimmy started singing “our God is greater” and the night turned into a worship session. God was there and God is good.
The kicker is that Phil started singing along with us. Not only was he making noises, he was singing the words. There were even moments when Phil hit the correct notes. Phil sang over and over “our God,” “Jesus loves me,” and even got the kumbiya out in perfect words that weren’t even in English. Phil calmed down after about 30 minutes of singing.
It seems like Jesus and music is the way forward for Phil. And us all. Keep praying, miracles happen when we say screw the circumstances and we praise our God anyways!!
Love, Julie

Day 60.1

So this is going to be pretty short BUT I talked with the Duff family, this is Kimmy, by the way, and we came up with an idea. Some people had wanted to Skype with Phil, but he’s not quite at the stage where he can do that yet. Instead, we would like to invite those of you who should like to to post “hello” videos for Phil to his Facebook page. This would be an encouragement to him as well as the family. We love you all and hope to see your lovely faces on the web soon! God Bless 🙂

Day 60.0

Dear family and friends. Julie and Kimmy and mrs Stephan have arrived. And safely. It is incredible to see my brother and to celebrate how far he has come in the two weeks I have been away. To start with Phil is very aware of what is going on. He can hold his head to center consistently. I helped Phil eat breakfast and was amazed at his sucking liquids through a straw skills. He really seemed to enjoy his chocolate ensure and his cup of milk. He also did well in ot today using plastic cones stacking one on top of the other. Phil is currently relaxing in his room waiting for the uk basketball game to start. John and I , Julie snuck him some diet coke. After drinking it through a straw, phil says “that was really good.” and Phil keeps staring at me writing this on kimmy’s iphone and asking’ “what’s going on?” Keep praying for Phil’s speech. He is talking a lot but we can understand little and Phil is visibly upset. Ps. My mom is having a great time with mrs Stephan. Friends are fantastic things, so pray for Phil And work on your friendships this week.
Love Julie
* God is love

Day 59.0

Dear Friends,

We are continuing to see improvement in Phil.  Today he got a shower in the morning and later had PT.  Megan stretched him and at the end of PT a big hefty guy helped Phil to stand up on his left leg.  Phil still can’t bear any weight on his right leg, apparently he has to wait till 3 months after the accident.

The coolest news is that Phil is eating great and has started sipping drinks through a straw.  This is great so that we don’t have to thicken his drinks anymore.  Hopefully soon we can get him some diet coke! I served Phil lunch, which he ate much of.  He ate 80% of the food and enjoyed chicken and pears the most.  Phil likes to drink, especially the fruit punch, but as always enjoys the milk as well.

Phil is definitely ’emerging’ as nurse Rodney likes to say.  Today Phil was getting aggravated after breakfast and mom couldn’t figure out why.  Rodney and Mom checked to see if he was wet, and he wasn’t.  Once they covered Phil back up he immediately peed.  Rodney proceeded to clean Phil up.  Phil responded by saying ‘thank you’, which has made Rodney’s day so far.  It was clear that Phil was holding his pee because he didn’t like being wet.  Clearly this is unfortunate but it is an indication that Phil is emerging well for the stage he is at.

Phil is starting to say more; we can’t understand him, but he is absolutely using much more and different sounds, meaning he is getting closer and closer to speaking so we can understand him.  The family is hoping eating and using his lips more in that process will help him begin to use his lips more while he is talking.

Phil still has a trac in, because his cough reflex is not quick enough.  We are hoping this will come out soon and it seems taking the tube out of his neck will help him feel better in many ways.  Phil looks great today and in many ways there is much hope for Phil.

The other day I was thinking about the verse in Romans where Paul tells the church, “Be kindly affectionate to one another in Brotherly love; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer, distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”   I thank God for the church around us that has gathered to love us the way Paul commanded.  So many have been with us, patient in tribulation, steadfast in prayer, distributing to our needs, and just as importantly rejoicing in our hope.  Loving God and loving others is what it’s all about.  Thanks for doing that with us.  Continue in your petitions for Phil.

–John–