Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mike's Home!!

On Monday evening, about 5:30 p.m., Mike came home! No one was more thrilled than he was and the first thing he did was lay down in his own bed! Not that he was real tired at that point, but it was the thing he was looking forward to the most.

Being home has been the best thing for Michael. He's been more willing to get up and move around to find a different position when he is in pain. He sleeps up to six hours at a time at night. That may not seem like a lot, but compared to what he had been getting this past week - it's terrific!

The three youngest children came yesterday to visit their oldest brother. They'll come home to stay tonight. Even though the 3 girls were in their pjs last night, Eric went to get them anyway as he just couldn't wait to bring them home. Sometimes he'll say "we have too many kids," but he's happiest when he has his whole brood together!

We cannot express just how grateful we are to everyone for your faithful prayers. Please keep praying during Mike's recovery. The next couple of weeks are the most critical as he is still in some pain and we'd like to see him get off the Perciset as soon as possible. Pray that we would have wisdom in this. His full recovery will be up to a year, but we will take it day by day.

It's just so good to have him home!

This may explain why Mike's in pain.

(He asked me to take and post this picture)

The air-hockey table was a great recuperation tool for Mike.

Mike was thrilled to be going home! Once he got his clothes on, he refused to get back into that hospital bed!

Within 45 minutes of coming home!

Mike feeling well enough to play with his new cap gun.

Happy to be together again!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Roller-Coaster Ride of Healing

What a weekend! There were moments where Michael was feeling fantastic and asking to play air hockey in the rec room. Then, there were moments where he was crying in agonizing pain. His pain medicine has been changed, but we're wondering if we need to change it back to the original prescription.

If you've ever spent any time in a hospital, you know that the beds turn into cement blocks after a day and a half of use. This is to make sure the patients don't get to cozy and will make sure to go back to their own homes quickly and stop taking up space in the medical facility. Because of the cement block-like bed, Michael often finds a bit more relief during his bouts of pain through taking a ride in the wheelchair. Which is why if you had been in the lobby of this large hospital at 1:00 this morning, you would have seen us following the guy with the large floor waxing machine. I pushed Mike around until about 2:00 when he was falling asleep in the chair. We were back downstairs at 5:00 for a half hour, enjoying the rare quietness of the hospital.

As I write, Mike is waking up - again saying "Ow, ow!" The pain seems to be a bit more constant and I wish I could make it go away. I don't know if they'll let him go home, though that is the only thing he wants to do.

The only question I ask through all of this is: "How do people do this without the Lord?" Through the darkest times when my son is almost shouting in pain and there's nothing I can do, I look to find Christ. He isn't some magician who takes the pain away, but I trust Him. I know He is with us. I know He has a plan. Leaning hard on Him has been my only recourse at times.

How about you? Who or what is going to get you through your trial today? Don't expect the "why?" to be answered. Don't expect to understand. Just expect Him to be there and trust. He is faithful.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I am Rejoicing!

Yesterday was, by far, the most difficult day. Mike got moved to a regular room and also had to try walking twice. Every step he took was agony. After the first time (he just walked from the bed to the door and back), the nurse had him sit in a chair until noon. His total sitting time was about 45 minutes. He cried and looked at the clock almost the whole time. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't having a tantrum. He was truly hurting. He would say "I can't stand the pain."

The second time he walked, Eric was here. I was grateful for that as I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do it without him again. Eric is perpetually encouraging. We took Mike to the rec room where Eric and I tried to entertain him by playing air hockey. He wasn't amused. We took him to the "play-deck" where there's an outdoor patio. If he spoke at all, it was to ask if he could come back to his room and go to bed.

He hurt so badly and there was nothing I could do to help. I wanted so much for him to be different from the kids in the world who go through this type of situation. I wanted him to just lean on Christ. I didn't expect him to be smiley, bouncey, and enthusiastic. Just a sober reliance on God, ya know?

Somewhere along the line, I realized that he's TEN years old, for goodness sake. How am I when I'm in labor? IN PAIN! The pain is all-consuming. I'm not discontent in my situation, but I hurt. I believe Mike was in even worse pain than I am in during labor. Think about it - moms know the pain will end. If they take pain meds, the pain does go away. Mike was on morphine and still in pain. He doesn't get a sweet baby in the end. In fact. at 10 years old, he probably doesn't see an end.

My friend, Elianna was such a blessing last night. I told her how Michael hasn't once said, "I wish I never had this surgery." She then pointed out, "That's how he's different from the kids in the world!" It's true - he's not discontent with the situation. He just hurts.

The good thing was, as I walked with Michael the first time, I noticed that he "grew" taller as a result of his surgery!

The other good thing? The Lord continued to walk with us in the midst of our trials.

Last night, our pastor spent the night up at the hospital. How many pastors do you know who do that? That's not a negative reflection upon other pastors, it just shows you how special this particular pastor is. Because of him, I was able to get a good night's rest and spend some time with the other children this morning.

I arrived here at 12:30. Mike was looking good and said that his pain level was only a 4 or a 5! Amazing. When we mentioned walking, he didn't say "No" but, "Can we do the wheelchair thing again?" Praise the Lord! He got out of bed fairly quickly and when he was standing said, "That didn't hurt much." I wish you knew how monumental that statement really was! Then, he asked if we could go to the rec room. When we got there, he and I played air hockey. He sat in his wheelchair and, after a while, I got a chair to sit in just to make it even. When he became tired, we wheeled him around the halls. On his way back, we had him walk twice as far than he has - and he did it without complaint!!!

After reading a few cards from friends and briefly visiting with the Hance family, he is taking a nap. He hasn't taken pain medicine since 10:00 this morning.

Today is a great day! Therefore, I say, I am rejoicing!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thoughts and Updates from PICU

So, it's 4:27 A.M., and I've been awake for the last 45 minutes. Before that, I was awake every hour since 11:00 p.m. Does that tell you how I'm sleeping here in the PICU? Michael is sleeping a bit better, but every time he drifts off to sleep, his oxygen levels go down causing the machine to beep loudly. Restful, I know.

Not complaining, just explaining the early hour of this post. I try not to look around too much when I walk the halls, but sometimes you get a glimpse into a room. In one room, you see a tall person - probably a teenager. In another, a tiny baby, just weeks old. Next door, a little boy with asthma related problems who is left alone most of the day. My son? He gets better with every passing hour. We look forward to when he comes home. Not if.

I just checked "google analytics" and saw that Wednesday was my biggest "blogger" day ever. SO many of you checked my blog for an update on Michael. This means SO many of you are praying for and thinking of us. This means the world to our family. A trial is a blessing in so many ways. One of the biggest blessings is being made aware of the extent of love our friends and family have for us.

Michael got up out of bed four times on Wednesday. The first time was 11:30 a.m. This was a difficult time. He didn't scream and have a fit, but he was in a tremendous amount of pain. The nurse had him sit for an hour - he would say "I just can't bear the pain." Again, not having a fit. Just imagine having a tube in your side right next to the large scar where they removed a rib. Then, on top of that, you've been lying on your back where you have an incision from your neck down to your waist. And, you're only 10. Michael has been asked frequently in the past few months to rate his pain 1-10 and he's pretty good about giving honest ratings. In the chair yesterday morning, it was a 10. The anesthesia was wearing off making the pain more real. So, he was put on a continual morphine drip, which he continues to be on. On top of that, he is still able to give himself more every `12 minutes. However, he doesn't push the button that often. He is pretty sleepy, though.

The second time out of bed was much better as he was in little pain and extremely relaxed. He only had to sit in the chair for half and hour and the move back was excellent. The last two times, Eric and I helped him stand to take care of some other personal things. His improvement in just a few short hours is amazing.

Michael remains in the PICU, but he's at "floor status" - meaning he's ready to go to a regular room. We aren't in a big hurry as he has his own room here with a ton of room. But, the good thing about moving to the floor will be that he'll have most of his tubes removed. He's looking forward to that!

Mike's spirits are good. Though he could barely keep his eyes open for the many visitors he had today, he said that was the BEST part of his day. Thank you to all of you who came.

I'm so sorry for the poor quality of this post. Again, I'm running on little fuel here. I just wanted to let you all know that we appreciate all of your prayers and are grateful for the out-pouring of love.

Getting out of bed...

...isn't easy.

Daddy knows his brave son can do it.

Mommy knows, too.

Mike's not too sure he can.

Getting back in bed. Oh, what we take for granted!

Morphine for my 10 year old in level 10 pain.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From Mike's PICU Room

Praise the Lord!! Mike's surgery went even better than we hoped!! Of course, the Lord does all things well and does above all that we ask or think.

He went in around 8:00 a.m. yesterday, the first incision was made around 9:15, and surgery ended around 5:45 p.m. First off, we praise God for such wonderful family and friends who love us enough to call, visit, and pray. Our pastor was with us almost the entire time!! We cannot express how much that means to us.

I wish I could share with you all the before and after x-rays. It is absolutely amazing!! He isn't out of bed, yet, but I will take pics in the next day or so and post them so you can see the difference in our son. His shoulders are much more even, his curve is less than when first diagnosed. I was not expecting any change even though the doctor said they'd do what they could. I was just looking for them to STOP the curve. Again, the Lord does more than we ask!

Mike is in and out of sleep. He presses the morphine button as needed. There are times when he needs it more than other times. He's doing so well and complains little. His breathing tube was out by the time they wheeled him into the PICU last night and they did not have him sedated. We kind of wished they had so he would have been able to sleep all night, but that's the Lord's will.

Within the next hour or so, he will most likely get out of bed and into a chair. We'll clean him up a bit and get some hospital jammies on him (for which he will be grateful).

What a blessing it was to be able to let his doctors and nurses know that we were trusting in the Lord yesterday. What a blessing it was to pray with the mother-in-law of the girl who did both of Mike's blood donations as she waited for her husband to get out of emergency triple bypass surgery during our wait for Mike. What a blessing it is to have a white board in this room to write the message "The Lord is my helper" for all to see.

Please pray that we will be used to be a light in this hospital this week. Thank you all so much for your prayers. Because of them, Mike got through surgery safely. Because of you continuing to pray, he'll have a smooth recovery. We praise God for each of you!

"This is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes."

Before surgery - completely at peace

About 2 hours after surgery - just arrived in the PICU - his face was swollen as a result of all the fluids given to him and from being on his stomach throughout much of the surgery.
This morning - 8:00 a.m.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

From the Family Waiting Room

We are about 7 hours into Michael's surgery. As my computer got fried in the latest thunder storm (another story for another time) and I don't seem to remember most of the addresses on my e-mail list, I will attempt to update here on my blog. So many of you are praying for us today - something we do not take for granted!

We got here at 6:30 a.m. Our pastor met us here 5 minutes later. I must say that it is such a blessing having a Pastor who truly is our friend and cares for our family so very much. And, it's not just our family. He loves each family in our church and really enjoys serving us and being there for us!

Mike was not afraid. Sometimes, he may be concerned about something and the only way I know is by looking in his eyes. This morning, the only thing on his face and in his eyes was peace and, dare I say - joy! The Lord shone through him today. We were able to tell others why we are at peace. As we prayed over Michael, the nurses in the room bowed their heads with us. There was no question in anyone's mind of our faith in Christ! May He be glorified!

The most difficult part was putting Michael to sleep. You know how it usually goes - put the mask over your face and in about 3 seconds you're zonked. Today, try about 3 minutes, at least! I'm not kidding. That's the only time I saw a bit of concern in my son's eyes. Like he was questioning why it was taking him so long to fall asleep. He said he was finally getting sleepy, then he became a little agitated, then he laughed because he was feeling so loopy. Then, he got REALLY agitated. He started thrashing and trying to roll off the bed. It took about 4 of us to hold him down. He didn't realize what he was doing; it was the medication. But, I wasn't expecting this reaction and with the beeping machines, I was getting scared. I looked at the faces of the doctors and nurses trying to judge if they were concerned. I finally asked, "Is he alright?" They said that he was, but I wasn't certain. I then saw two nurses looking right at me. I realized then that everyone in that room was aware of our faith in God and that this was the time for it to shine through. If I were to fall apart, what is that going to say about my faith? So, as I had my hands on Michael trying to hold him down, I closed my eyes and prayed quietly to the Lord. I told Him that I knew He was in control. I asked Him to calm Michael. I truly felt like Abraham with Isaac on the altar. In a short time, Michael calmed and was asleep. If I were going to cry, it would have been then. But, the lost were watching. If Michael could hear, he didn't need to hear fear in my voice. I thank the Lord for His strength, grace, and faithfulness.

We just got a call saying that they should be done by 5:30/6:00 tonight. Then, it's on to the PICU until tomorrow.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and friendship to us. Michael is flabbergasted by the fact that there are people all over the world - people he's never even met - praying for him. We are blessed.

"The Lord is my helper."

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Big Day

Well, it's late Monday night. Tomorrow morning at 6:30, we will be arriving in the pediatric surgical unit of a nearby hospital. Our son's life will change forever.

Physically, he will be changed. He will have one less rib, 2 titanium rods, some screws, several vertebrae fused and discs removed. He may be straighter. He'll stop having back pain related to a worsening curve.

Emotionally, Michael will be changed. I believe he will mature even more beyond his years. He will have even more compassion for those facing physical ailments and surgeries. He will be more understanding of what happens in hospitals and what some children face in their lives.

The spiritual change is what I look forward to the most in our firstborn. Already, he has a trust in the Lord that often puts me to shame. Today, someone said that they'd be a nervous wreck if it were them. He said that there was no reason to be - the Lord is my helper! Praise the Lord. I know he sees the hand of God in all of this - he has from the beginning. I believe the Lord will be able to use our son this week as well as in the weeks and years to come.

People ask how I am doing, as a mom who is watching her son face major surgery. I've had some anxious mornings. Thursday was the day reality really began to hit. After lying awake for an hour, I finally got up and went straight to where I knew I'd find comfort, peace, and strength - the Word of God. I opened my Bible to where I had left off the day before - Hebrews 12. The first words I read were, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight..." I knew I could lay aside my anxiety and fear. Then the next verse: "Looking unto Jesus..."!!!! AMEN!

I continued on and the Lord allowed this familiar verse to actually appear in my daily reading that blessed morning: "Let your conversation be without covetousnes; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." I had already thought of these precious words, but the Lord let me see His promise in black and white. I also had to ask myself, "Am I content?" My honest answer was "yes!" I wouldn't have scripted our son's life in this manner, but I am truly content as I know we are exactly where God wants us to be. He will use this - He is using this situation!! I am content.

The next verse says, "So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper..." I have never known the truth of this verse as I do today. I was able to share this with Michael and it has comforted him, as well.

I wish I could tell you the many ways God spoke to me that day, many days previous and since, but it's too much to write. I will tell you that when Michael was contemplating surgery the other day and feeling a bit of anxiety, I asked him, "Are you content?"

His reply: "Yes I am."

The Lord is going to walk with us into the hospital tomorrow. He'll be in the O.R. with Michael and in the waiting room with us. He will continue to walk with us in the days, weeks, and years to come.

The Lord is our helper!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Tour

It's after 10:30 on Friday night. Which means about 2 people will read this post before Monday. Then, I plan to write a new post on that day. So, this is pretty much going to be one of those posts that will live in the halls of obscurity. Which is probably a good thing. But it has to be written.

I will soon be taking six of my seven children on a small tour of...the bathtub. I will point out what shelf belongs to them and what shelf belongs to me. As all of them are under 5 feet tall, they have the lower shelf. Makes sense to me. Their's is also the shelf with the shampoo that has the word "baby" or "kids" in front of it on the label. The girls' conditioner bottle is on the aforementioned lower shelf.

My shelf also has shampoo and conditioner. My shampoo does create tears. My soap? It costs about $10.00 a bottle. No way does my 4 1/2 year old rough and tumble boy need to smell like warm vanilla.

And, for the record, may I ask: What in the world does my 6 year old need with shave cream?! Seriously.

Yes, big doings in our home this weekend. A tour of the bathtub and short lecture containing the phrase "keep your crummy hands off my stuff."

Next week: "Learning by Example: How to Teach Your Children to Share."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Our dear brother, David Hance, went home to be with Jesus this very morning - Tuesday, June 10, 2008 around 9:30 with his wife and son at his side. He left this world peacefully and looked into the Saviour's face cancer-free, pain-free, and sin-free!

His family is doing well and glad he is sick no longer. They do, however, miss him. Pray for them as they grieve. His son will be graduating from high school this Saturday. If you think of him, pray for this young man who adored his father and was adored by his father.

Thank you all who prayed. It is a wonderful thing to be part of the family of God.

Dave Hance - a hero. a friend. a faithful man.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Please Continue to Pray...

...for the Hance family. Our friend, Dave, is on the last stretch of his faithful race. Please read this message from his wife and go to the Lord in prayer on behalf of this sweet family.

Hi every one,

We had a talk with the visiting nurse here today. It was good - it really put things in perspective, not just for me and David, but hopefully also for Mike. He was in the dining room on his computer, but I'm sure he heard most of the talking. She was letting us know that David's progression of the cancer is speeding up more and more. She talked with us about hospice care and how that she would be able to do that for us, for which I am glad as she really, truly cares for David and our family. We've had Peggy for a nurse for a long time and she knows David and his physical needs very well. She is a Roman Catholic and she and I were able to talk about my family's faith and how the prayers of our friends are giving us the strength we need to get through this. Pray that I can be a solid witness to her in the weeks to come, she told me of her father's death 4 years ago and how he died right as the last prayer on the Rosary was said. (I just couldn't say anything at that time as we were also talking about David's and my faith in Jesus - I wasn't going to say anything about her father as that would just close any doors in the future to witness).

Realistically, the time is getting shorter and shorter for David being with us. I am thinking possibly the end of July or August. The progression is so much faster now, and the cancer is attacking much heavier now than the chemo can keep up with. David asked the nurse what to expect in the last days - he so wants to die with dignity - she reassured him that she would do that for him. People with lymphoma usually die in their sleep as the last few days/week they basically sleep and are given a drug that relaxes them and takes care of the pain. She told me he would die in his sleep - to me that is a comfort so that he wouldn't be struggling. Praise the Lord we know David will be with Jesus because he is saved and accepted the Lord as his Saviour - there's no doubt in our hearts at all.

Please pray for Mike as he isn't accepting the possiblity of David dying very well. He gave me this look yesterday when David and I were talking about what is to come and he said, "The Lord can still heal him!". He's still clinging onto that, which I won't take away from him that hope, but he needs to prepare for David's passing as well. I know Jesus can heal David, but I need to prepare my heart for David leaving and if the Lord heals him, Praise the Lord I will celebrate his healing!

Well, we go back to see the doctor tomorrow and get more answers from her about treatments, times, etc. Please don't stop your prayers now - we can use all the strength and peace we can get for what the Lord has for us in the weeks ahead.


Excitement at the Farm

Yesterday, we were driving home from church only to see that our road was closed to traffic. The kind policeman allowed us to drive through the road-block and as we got closer to home, we saw firetrucks, ambulances, and all sorts of cars in our field across the street - the Pumpkin Patch, to be exact. There, embedded in the ground, was a small plane!!!

Apparently, the pilot and his student were flying from a nearby town and preparing to land at an airport a couple of miles away when they began to experience engine trouble. They attempted an emergency landing in our hay field, but as they were flying so low, the plane clipped the top of the trees sending him into a nose dive. The student climbed out, but the pilot was injured badly.

A few minutes after we arrived home, Mercy Flight flew in. That brought back a flood of emotions for me. Of course, this was a big adventure for the kids. What a blessing it was to stop and pray with my children on the side of the road for these men and their families.

Have you ever prayed for an accident victim with a sense of disappointment realizing you may never know the answer to your prayer? That's how I felt when we prayed. "Lord, who will tell them of You? How will You receive honor in this?" A few minutes later, I found out that the pilot is the flight instructor of a couple of boys from our church!! A door has been opened! Please pray for Davey Merritt and Ben Bruce - that they will be healed physically and spiritually.

For more on this "breaking news" click here and read!

Life on the farm...never a dull moment!