Latest Update

July 18 (8:02 PM)

Thank you so very much for your continued prayer for Pastor Esposito.

It has been a little over two weeks since the neurologist began to lower the seizure medication. For the first two weeks it was lowered from 1500 to 1000, and this week to 500. Please pray that there will be no seizures, and that he will have increased responsiveness. His next appointment with the neurologist will be in October, but will be with the neurologist he saw at the start last October. At that time we plan to ask approval to try some other natural things recommended to us.

The appointment for the physiatrist is still pending. The case manager asked, "Who ordered a physiatrist? We typically don't do that here." That was confirmation once again that it was God who directed the appointment with the neurosurgeon who ordered a physiatrist involvement. We pray the appointment will be approved and made in God's time with the right doctor and that we will receive helpful direction. At a conference on brain injury, the speaking physiatrist (in a session titled Why You Need a Physiatrist) spoke and encouraged families to be patient and not use up options too early without giving proper healing time. He also stated that more isn't always better. Sometimes it's time that is needed not a new treatment and that the old belief that if function isn't back by 6-12 months it will never return is not true. Improvement can happen for a long time with proper stimulation

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Thank you also for praying for the lungs, cough, and swallow. He has gotten much better at clearing his throat himself and is back to infrequent suctioning. We even were able to experiment on Tuesday with the speaking valve, and today will try it again. He did have to be suctioned several times while wearing it, but hopefully it will get better. A patient begins with a trach with a small balloon inflated in the throat. First, the balloon is deflated allowing some air to go through the nose and mouth, but breathing is still mainly in and out through the trach. This was done some time ago. When the valve is placed, the patient breathes in through the trach but out through the mouth and nose (and vocal cords). While the valve is on they aren't able to cough into the trach. If fluid is heard, it is removed by suction to prevent secretions from going into the lungs. Please continue to pray that Pastor will be able to have a strong cough and swallow. This would be really a big step forward. His swallow reflex has improved a lot as well; though sometimes isn't automatic. For example when having his teeth brushed, we ask him to swallow. He does so (a step for which to praise the Lord), but not on his own sometimes.

Pastor Smiling

Here is a picture Cindy Yu took of Pastor Esposito. She had told him that she knew she was talking too much; but when he gets well he will talk, and she will be quiet and listen. She captured a smile on camera. God is good to always encourage us with hope!

Sometimes it's easy to not want to allow yourself to hope, but Scripture says, "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation."

Sincerely,
Mrs. Joe Esposito
"Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer"
—Romans 12:12

July 2 (11:20 PM)

After transporting Pastor Esposito to the neurologist to be told they don't see patients on gurneys (the third transport mistake in the last two weeks). The doctor was kind enough to lock the waiting room, and see us in the waiting room. He agreed it was safe to try lowering the seizure medications little by little. He declined comment on the items recommended by the nutritionist (the facility doctor felt one of them might interfere with the seizure medication and asked me to confer with the neurologist), stating that he isn't trained in that area and doesn't know enough about them to recommend them which is understandable. For now, I am going to take this as from the Lord and see what happens with the other being reduced. There is still an appointment pending with the neurologist who saw Pastor back in the beginning at the first hospital. I hope to have more information to present and see if he will look at it and give an opinion at that time as to whether it would be okay to try along with whatever he is taking at the time. I have been recommended many different things by many different people. I want to try anything that potentially the Lord could have sent my way, but I also want to be safe and not try to be a doctor, since I am not. I don't want to cause other problems by causing contradictions. I am thankful that the facility doctor has been very open minded while being reasonably cautious.

The doctor didn't spend more than half a minute looking at Pastor Esposito since it took so long figuring out how he'd see him at all or if we'd need to reschedule. But I am thankful for the prospect of lowering the Keppra. That has been a prayer, we just wanted a doctor's okay. Please pray it goes well and that it helps him not to be so tired and weak.

Thank you so much for praying. Thank you to the Pacific Baptist Church family for staying faithful. What a blessing and encouragement that is to our family! (Tuesday night we were encouraged by the crowd out soul winning in the middle of summer—an average of 200 over the last few weeks.)

July 1 (1:21 PM)

Yesterday Pastor Esposito's appointment was actually a follow up with the surgeon who did the surgery a couple weeks ago, not the neurology appointment. The doctor said he looked very much better than when he'd seen him, and seemed to be healing well. Tomorrow is the appointment with the neurologist who saw him at the hospital and did the EEG. This isn't the appointment the neurosurgeon requested—that is still pending as well as the visit to a physiatrist (not psychiatrist). I do plan to ask about potentially lessening the seizure medication. Pastor Esposito did have a few moments the other day of what I called a tremor throughout his whole body, but the nurse felt it was probably muscle spasm.

There are also two types of natural medications (maybe that's an oxymoron) recommended to me by Dr. Streeter from Hammond. The general doctor at the facility gave me permission today for those to be used, however told me that I need to talk with the neurologist tomorrow as she was concerned as to the interference with the seizure medication. I also was given another natural medication to prevent seizures by Dr. Paik from our church. I had hoped to replace the seizure medication with what he had given me (though he made sure I understood not to just drop the seizure medication but to gradually reduce it but to go ahead and add the other.)

Prayer Requests

  • No spasms
  • No seizures (though I talk with a family here whose young daughter was hit by two cars, in very serious condition, and they stated that after 3 large seizures, their daughter really began responding. They think maybe it was related. I don't want seizures, but I keep in mind that sometimes what we don't want is sometimes what God uses like the previous seizure being the thing that helped lead us to find the real problem with the gall bladder. So as I "choose" prayer requests I remember to add, "nevertheless not as I will…")
  • Wisdom as we make decisions (like the medications/supplements, etc.)
  • God's leading through and wisdom for the neurologist we will see tomorrow
  • Also, please pray for Pastor Esposito's cough to improve again. He had a very strong cough, a good thing. Since that last bout of pneumonia he doesn't seem to be coughing the phlegm as he should, and is needing the lungs suctioned more frequently.

    Praises

  1. The dentist made rounds and when Pastor was asked to open his mouth wide—he did.
  2. While exercising yesterday, I asked him if he wanted to exercise his thumbs by himself, he did so with both thumbs. It wasn't complete circles as we do, but he moved them around.
  3. While exercising today, he helped a lot in lifting the legs and opening his hand wide.
  4. Praise God for HIS goodness.

June 29 (2:42 PM)

Thank you for your continued prayer. Pastor Esposito finished his antibiotic for pneumonia but won't be tested for another week. Tomorrow, Monday the 30th, he will see the neurologist who saw him recently while in the hospital and ordered an EEG while there. Please pray that this appointment goes well. He has been a bit sleepy since surgery, but that is to be expected. As for what's new, his right hand, leg and foot seem to be having more movement, though still slight.

Thank God for continued small signs of His working. God is good, all the time.

June 16 (10:36 PM)

PRAISE THE LORD! Pastor Esposito had an appointment today with the neurosurgeon. This was a follow up to the placing of the shunt. I had been praying that by this appointment the surgeon would see progress and that God would be glorified. Before leaving via medical transport in the morning, I explained to Pastor Esposito that the doctor he was going to see was, humanly speaking, the doctor that had saved his life the first night he went into the hospital. I also explained that it would be really neat if he could see that he's getting better, and I asked if he'd please respond where the doctor asked him to do so. (This is the same doctor who had given us the very bad news the first night, as well as one of the doctors who discouraged the surgery to remove the AVM. Also the doctor who said we could try the shunt.)

We arrived in the room – my husband on the gurney inside a small room. Last time we transported him there, the doctor hadn't even checked him at all, but to say he could only offer the shunt. Anyway, he said hello to my husband, who turned his eyes toward the doctor. Dr. Spears said that was good, and "If you can hear me, please close your eyes." Immediately Pastor Esposito closed his eyes, and the doctor told him he could open them. He then put two fingers above my husband and asked him to track his fingers from side to side, which he did. (He's only done that once or twice for me all the way across.) The doctor asked me if he can move his hands and fingers. I said yes, and he put up two fingers and asked, "Can you give me two fingers?" I thought "No, he definitely can't do that." Then he mustered all his strength as if trying to lift his left hand, and lifted up his thumb and forefinger. Dr. Spears surprisingly said, "He's definitely trying." Then he talked with me a bit and then asked my husband, "Do you remember the old Virginia Slims commercial, 'You've come a long way baby'? Do you remember that?" At that my husband raised his eyebrow. We talked a bit more and then he asked Pastor to give him "thumbs up." His left thumb which he moves more often quivered, but the right thumb went clearly up—another thing that doesn't typically happen. The most is that when I've asked him to move the right side fingers, you see the nerves trying but unable.

This was clearly God enabling as he never has followed so many commands all in a row like this. And it was especially exciting to me that Dr. Spears was the doctor today. My husband has been responding in lots of these ways occasionally, but this was God's timing to do it all at once for the doctor. The doctor seemed pleasantly surprised. From this meeting, Dr. Spears asked me who the physiatrist is and I had said that there wasn't one, and also who the neurologist is, and again one has not been seeing him. He said that he is definitely responding and there needs to be stimulation and some rehab to help bring him out. He repeated that he doesn't know how much potential there is but that there is potential. He also asked me if he had gone to a neuro rehab or directly to subacute care. The latter is the case. He put in an order for an appointment to both a physiatrist and a neurologist. He said he needs to be evaluated and receive rehab if he's going to go further.

A couple days ago I responded to a text someone sent me with "God's will, God's way, God's time." What happened today is what we have hoped. For the first time, we received reinforcement that something proactive needs to be done (though we have definitely tried to be proactive ourselves). I couldn't have orchestrated it in a better way. Now we have direct orders from Dr. Spears for both of the doctors we wanted involved.

Please pray for those two appointments, God's continued direction, and wisdom going forward. There are several places that specialize in neuro-rehab, but up to this point they had told me "not yet." I kept impatiently trying to find more answers, and seeking for something new, and it kept seeming that God was telling me I wanted but it wasn't time for. Each time He'd have to quiet me down, in a sense, and give me contentment where we were until He opened other doors. Quite a few times it was as if I had to take my Isaac again and lay him down to wait. How many, many times have I whispered to my husband, "Trust in the Lord…and wait patiently for Him".

Of course there is a very, very long way to go, and we don't know exactly what the future holds. But for today, I just want to thank the Lord for showing HIMSELF STRONG in the midst of our great weakness and for giving us a renewed glimpse of His hope.

Thank you for praying so faithfully.

The Esposito Family

P.S. Thank you to Bro. Clayton Shumpert for such an encouraging message to our church Sunday night.

Updates
Pastor Esposito and Family

Left: Pastor Esposito pictured with his wife Mary and 8 children; Joseph (w/ wife Jennifer), Timothy, Sarah, Susanna, Daniel, Joanna, Benjamin, and Nathaniel

Right: Pastor Joe Esposito and his wife, Mary

I'm Praying

Pastor's family would love to know if you're praying! Your name or e-mail will not be added to any ministry mailing list. This is not a fundraiser. This is simply to let the Espositos know you are standing with them in prayer.