Sunday, June 27, 2010

Update #123 on Kevin

Rock climbers or mountaineers exercise extreme caution when traversing rugged and dangerous terrain.  They use safety lines to keep them past mishaps and when the unexpected happens.  Some have asked how we keep going.  They ask how we keep happy.  Well, I should first dispel the myth that we are so happy that any of us laugh all day long like an idiot.  We do laugh.....but we also cry.  We get upset, then return once more to joy.  We experience the full gamut of emotions, sometimes all in one hour.  Yet, there is something that is underlying all those emotions.  Something, like a climber's safety line, that keeps us safe and secure.  It holds us, as we move forward and up in the face of the unknown.  It is beyond just our faith in God.  It is based in the relationship we have built with Him for years.  We have seen God act in times when there seemed to be no hope, in times when we were completely blind to the future, in times when nothing else mattered and in times of pain and sorrow.  It is in this relationship built on the faith and trust in Him that keeps us moving forward past the moments of despair and the periods of discouragement.  God will triumph.

It's been a couple months since Kevin started going to outpatient rehab at St. John's.  He has progressed in many ways, although he still has a long way to go.  We take him three times per week, during which he has physical, occupational and speech therapy.  During the physical and occupational they have stood Kevin with their help.  Recently, they started using a harness, like a climber might wear, to aid in the standing process.  By using this method, they can measure exactly how many pounds he is holding up on his own.  He has already moved from holding fifty pounds to seventy pounds in a week. 

The therapists also ask him to follow simple commands and have recently started asking him to do two things at once, such as waving his hand and moving his head.  They have challenged him to wave his hand and in response he has moved his arm.  Last week, they placed a scooter under his foot, with the eventual goal of kicking the flat scooter across the room.  He hasn't kicked it yet, but they could see the muscles moving in his leg as his brain processed the command.  Some days, he seems completely out, asleep.  Others he is very alert, able to track people with his eyes, turn his head toward sounds or the opposite direction when asked.

They have been getting him used to controlling his own body, having him hold his own head up when asked.  He could only do this a few seconds in the beginning, but has done it for several minutes now.  At first, he could only do this leaned back in his chair, however now he has done it in a more upright position.  This is all progress in the right direction.

During the speech therapists turn, she uses lemon swabs to facilitate reaction in his mouth and flash cards to ask him questions.  He'll squeeze her hand to answer one way or the other.  Sometimes a squeeze is a slight pull of one finger, other times he uses all fingers as well as his whole hand.  We have added many smells to his evaluations, such as banana extract, licorice, etc....  The speech therapist has challenged Kevin to go from responding with a one syllable "ahhh" to two and three syllable versions ( "ahhh-ahhh" and "ahhh-ahhh-ahhh").  He also also said "hi" more frequently when asked, even though we can tell it is difficult for him to produce the sounds.  Often he will use a cough immediately prior to producing a sound to get the volume up.

In the past couple months, we have brought a neurologist aboard who has already ordered an MRI and EEG.  Those tests now done, have already brought us interesting and positive results.  On Kevin's EEG it showed slow activity only in the areas that were received trauma, the rest of his brain is functioning normally.  After several attempts to get his MRI taken care of, we finally got it done at Southcrest and the results were encouraging.  There was no spinal damage.  The neurologist wanted to verufy this after his evaluation of Kevin.  The technician also did not note anything about the Brainstem.  Now, if you'll recall this was the main area of concern for Kevin back at Saint Francis hospital.  The area where his brainstem showed trauma affects, heartrate, digestion, respiratory issues and consciousness.  Heartrate, digestion and respiratory don't seemed to be an issue and consciousness only partially affected due to his minimal state.  This could be due to one of the other areas that received trauma.  On the MRI, the area of Kevin's brain that got the most attention was the right frontal lobe.  We won't know how he might be affected, if at all, until he continues to progress. Some other areas of his brain had shown improvement from previous study, which was somewhat difficult since Kevin had not yet gotten an MRI since the accident until this one.  The tech and doctor used CTscans and the MRI of Kevin's eye as references (the MRI of Kevin's eye showed some areas of the brain, although not in very much detail).

In therapy, they are working with Kevin to hold and eventually drop his drumsticks.  Since, he plays drums it is a natural thing for him to work on.  Also, they are using softballs in his therapy since has played years of softball.  He continues to add abilities to his life.

We have a long way to go.  Kevin has a really long way to go.  Yet, he has come so far.  Kevin has progessed and done so many things that we weren't sure he would ever do again.  We can't lose heart now!  Does that mean every day is roses? No, but as we go forward, not knowing what the future holds, we can rest in the love and care of a God who loves us and Kevin very much.

Thanks to those who have sent money for media on Kevin's ipod.  Thanks for those who have contributed towards family meals and various expenses.  It all means so much.  Recently, we asked for some help with putting up a privacy fence, we have gotten some responses on that, but had to put it on hold.  It seems we need a french drain or something to help standing water to leave the backyard.  We had so much rain this Spring and Summer that it kept the backyard very very swamped.  If anyone knows how to put in a french drain or could help us in this way, please email me back.  Then we'll move onto the privacy fence.

Also, Angie and I still need to return to Italy for about two weeks in order to pack our things and move them back to America.  The hold up has been money.  Between airfare, cost of meals, and shipping expenses, we are looking at a need of about $10,000.  We tried to get a loan to pay for this and we would pay it out over the next five years, but the loan hit a roadblock.  If you would like to contribute towards this major expense or if you have any way to help us, email us and let us know.

And if you haven't, please come by and see Kevin.  Email me to find out how.

Thanks for reading, praying and caring,
Matt, Angie and family

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1 comment:

  1. I ran across your blog while researching "neuro chair" on line. My sister, Lisa Perry, was in a terrible auto accident outside Tahlequah two weeks ago today, on July 27. I am in Maine, so it was VERY surprising to see you are in Tulsa! Lisa is currently in St. Francis and has yet to regain consciousness. I haven't read through your entire blog, yet, but the parts I've read sound very similar to Lisa's situation. She also is suffering from a severe brain injury.

    I pray for Kevin's continuing progress and for your family to continue to find strength and comfort. Please pray for Lisa, as well.

    Take care.

    Tami Eickelman