Dear friends and blog readers,
Hannah has asked me, to update her blog with some of the details of the last three weeks.
My tendency is usually to share everything that is going on through my optimistic lens, but Hannah specifically requested that I “be sure to be raw,” so please brace yourselves for some serious carnage.
As the weeks got closer for Hannah’s surgery, her anxiety and fears grew more and more intense…understandably. Opening up her skull, and heating a part of her brain with a laser is a serious surgery, especially when her other medical fragilities were factored in. She feared the pain, she feared the possibility of waking up without memory, she feared the unknown possibility of terrible things happening, and she feared dying. It was a very tough few weeks before she headed south.
I have never experienced prolonged physical and deep emotional suffering nor chronic pain and that has always made it difficult for me to understand just how those things affected her. I have never been able to “understand” or feel exactly what she does, and often that left us both feeling alone at times over the past few years. Her in a pit of despair, and me on the outside looking in, without any way of really helping anything get better. I use to try to share encouraging words, verses, promises and truths and would find that rather than bringing us closer, my words could end up separating us emotionally. I’ve come to learn that as I carried myself with a ‘joyful and triumphant’ attitude, it appeared as though I wasn’t actually feeling for Hannah, or hurting when she was. A verse in Proverbs kicked me in the butt one morning. “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (Prov. 25:20) Rather than being a warm and loving and present friend, I tried to be the solution. There was a real part of me that felt like I was failing as a “spiritual leader” if my wife was not singing hymns like Paul and Silas in prison, and so I tried hard to pep talk and preach my wife out of the pain she was in. I missed many opportunities in the last few years just to sit and cry and be there for her. I’m slowly improving (I hope she would agree), but it’s taken a while to learn what Wesley Towne always says, “There are no hyper-spiritual cures for suffering and pain.”
I’m suppose to be writing about her surgery and recovery though, so maybe I’ll pick that thought back up in another blog someday. The day she went in for surgery, her platelets were not nearly as high as they needed to be for a safe surgery with minimal risk of serious bleeding. (This was the result of a doctor not infusing her with the normal amount of IVIG she normally gets, because he had never heard of anybody getting such a high dose, and didn’t believe that she really gets that much.) So the surgery was postponed as she went in for a third infusion of platelets and IVIG (a medicine which kills her anti-bodies, which are killing her platelets, so that her platelets can live a little longer.) I filmed her making really funny faces at the doctors who were walking by, and we sat there for a while wondering if the surgery would still happen that day.
They came back in and drew her blood hours later and said that her platelets count had sky-rocketed. That meant a green light for the surgery. Her parents and I wanted to give her prolonged affectionate goodbyes, but she insisted that we refrain, being as she wasn’t in the mood to get too emotional. Scott, Lisa and I sat for hours and waited for some news. It was past 10 pm before we got the okay to head up to the fifth floor where she would be staying. She was just waking up from anesthesia and was in extreme pain. She had originally planned to pretend like she didn’t remember anybody as a prank, but she wasn’t at all in a joking mood. She was just in pain and on a lot of drugs…I mean meds.
The severe pain lasted at least 4 days straight, but she was still reluctant to take the pain killers. She hates feeling weird from the pain killers, but she hates the post-brain surgery pain even more, so she took some. It was hard for her folks and me to sit there and watch her be in such agony. Seeing her throw up several times and watching her just cringe in pain every time she would move was pretty difficult. 5 days in the neurology recovery room she was finally discharged, but her pain had not decreased much, nor had her brain swelling. Her vision had been pretty messed up. She lost peripheral vision in the upper right quadrant of each eye being completely. This may improve over time, so please keep that part of her recovery in your prayers!
After several check ups and painful trips back to the Mayo Clinic, we finally flew home on Friday, March 18. It has now been two weeks since her surgery, and as slow and painful as her recovery has been I have the privilege of announcing two seizure free weeks for Hannah! It’s nothing short of a miracle what the doctors were able to do. She continues to progress each day little by little, and her pain is slowly decreasing and her strength increasing. We have walked a few miles total this last week!
There is so much more to tell, but I have to wrap this one up, because it’s already past my bedtime. I must conclude with giving thanks. First, I thank You Jesus. You have given us life and sustained us. You have provided us with hope, help, family, friends, and every other good thing in our lives we have because of Your goodness and grace. I thank you Hannah, my amazing wife for your patience with me, slow learner that I am. The promises that we made to each other years ago we will keep forever. Though sickness and health, till death do us part. I love you and you will always be my best friend. I want to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff at the Mayo Clinic who have so hugely helped my bride. Dr. Crepeau, Dr. Zimmerman, and the nurses on the fifth floor, I especially want to thank. To Scott and Lisa who have cared for and loved Hannah long before I ever did, thank you for entrusting me to love her, and for continuing to be there in countless ways. You two are amazing and I’m so thankful to be in your family. And how could I possibly express the abundance of gratitude that i have for everybody who gave of their resources to cover the cost of Hannah going to the Mayo Clinic?! It amazes me that we have such a loving and generous family and circle of friends! To our church family at RVF and Ekklesia, you have bore our burdens with us and shown us the love of God and blessed us beyond measure. Thank you to the hundreds of you who have continually been praying for us in this journey. I am convinced every single day that I lay my head down that we have only persevered because of your prayers and God’s mercy in answering them.
Thank you all who have brought us meals since we returned home. Thank you to the dozens of people who have sent Hannah loving cards and sweet things in the mail! One of her absolute favorite things is getting mail (bills not included). Lastly, Thank you who read her blog and have encouraged her to keep sharing and writing about her life! Because of you all, Thanksgiving comes not once a year, but with every remembrance of your kindness toward us.
With utmost sincerity and deepest affection,