Thank you for reading our update once again, and for your faithful prayer. I read recently that the greatest gift that can be given is to pray for someone.
So much has happened since the last update, I am not sure where to start. It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but as always God has been very good to us while growing our patience and trust in Himself. The month of December was one of those one steps back my husband used to preach about, "Two steps forward, one step back" but keeping on keeping on… going forward. I told Pastor, we've taken the step back, now let's take the two forward.
We went from all the issues at the hospital described in prior updates, to returning to the sub-acute center, to having pressure sores on both heals (most likely from being more immobile because of the surgery), to being told that there was clotting/blockage that might require a stent in the leg, to having the stomach flu (Pastor and the entire family), and more. It's been a very eventful month. Thank God the pressure sores seem to be healing. A second ultrasound showed everything okay in the legs, so praise the Lord for that!
Pastor has made it back to the uncuffed trach he had before. He now does well again with the PMV (speaking valve) during the day. And we resumed capping trials this past week. Praise God! He did amazingly well with the capping. He breathed easily and even went to sleep for two hours with it on. I'd say he has done better with capping than before he went into the hospital. This is such a blessing to me. Seeing him in ICU on a respirator again (though precautionary and to give his lungs a rest) and returning to see him struggle with the PMV was discouraging. It seemed more like 10 steps backward. I wondered how long it would take to regain what was lost. Praise the Lord! It's been quick.
Pastor has continued with eating trials, so the speech therapist wanted to decide whether to allow him "pudding thick" food for "oral gratification" with the family feeding 5-10 bites a few times per week or discontinue altogether. She was not sure, so she had another therapist come and test him. He DID have blue dye from the lungs when he tested him. (My son said the therapist fed him large bites and quickly. We usually go very slowly and cautiously waiting for a swallow and making sure it's clear before the next bite.) That therapist said that it's a risk. So the therapist here said that basically I needed to decide if I want to continue for "gratification" and "quality of life," at the risk that he might aspirate at some point and may get pneumonia (which in her words is the downfall of many patients – some who never really recover). The alternative is not to take the risk and decide not to feed him. I asked her if I said no, would that mean that I'm resigning to never eating because not using it most likely means losing it. Eventually, I asked her what she'd do if it were her own husband and she weren't the speech therapist. She said she'd probably do it cautiously and stop at any time there's any seeming congestion in the lungs. Then she explained more briefly to Pastor, who had awaken at that point. She asked, "Do you want to not risk it, or do you want to go for it?" He delayed a bit, then whispered, "go for it."
The underlying hesitancy in the area of both the trach being capped and feeding is that though Pastor swallows, he doesn't seem to be able to cough intentionally when asked. That is a marker to them that he's a candidate for capping or food. He also aspirated in the initial test on all levels but thick. Again, by not doing either most likely he'll lose it all. It seems a bit of a vicious cycle. Pray specifically for the strengthening of the muscles and vocal chords, that he will become efficient in coughing and clearing his throat on purpose, and absence of aspiration into the lungs while we cautiously feed him and hope it helps him become stronger.
We are thankful physical and occupational therapy have been working with Pastor the last two weeks since returning from the hospital since he re-qualifies upon re-admittance (as long as he reaches goals set for him and improves functionally). It's been a little sad because he became weak and has been unable to respond to some things that he was very easily doing before the hospital admittance. Some of the things we were working on and becoming efficient at (like sitting forward in the chair) are on hold because of 3 months of limitations in movement placed due to the surgery. He has reached some goals. We're working on his using his left hand to wipe his mouth, pull a brush up to his hair, bring a toothbrush to his mouth. He did it for me to video when the therapist wasn't there. Pray for strength and energy as well as quick healing.
Also, please pray as I am seriously considering testing Pastor for the eye tracking device again. Pray for his ability and that insurance will cover much of the cost. It works in such a way that he types using his eyes, and the machine speaks for him. When we did it in the past, his eyes' ability muscularly to maintain focus on a letter long enough was too weak. You could see his eye go to the letter J for example when asked to spell his name, but it would quickly flutter away before the machine could capture it. I'd been praying about whether God wanted me to revisit some areas like that I have filed away in a folder for a future date. Something I read made me want to retry. It was about a man who was disabled completely but still had a strong mind and would dictate his thoughts. When he could no longer speak, he used a device that captured a slight touch of the fingertips. He spoke of utilizing what is NOT disabled and looking at what you do have rather than what you don't. It was good for my perspective, and I read it to my husband. It also caused me to revisit this idea. (A year ago or so I read of a Jewish rabbi who used blinks of his eyes to communicate his sermons to his wife who wrote them down and they were read aloud.) I don't know what God has in store for us, but please pray about this device.
More than anything, please pray the Great Physician will give us a great miracle that all may see and know and understand that the hand of the Lord hath done this. I walked into one of our nursery classes this morning which doubles as a school classroom. On the wall were the school children's prayer requests. I read, "Pastor come home." It made me weep. (I dreamt last night he was home and well.) I so appreciate that so many folks continue to pray. I've said it before. It means the world to us. Thank you!
Thank you for all of your prayer over the last couple weeks. It has meant so much to us. Here are some updates on various prayer requests:
• Lungs—the lungs are much clearer, thank the Lord. Pastor is having occasional suctioning. I was happy the speech therapist came back in today to work with him today. He definitely needs prayer to get back where he was. He has been in a cuffed trach for over two weeks and hasn't had his speaking valve on or been capped. He struggled some today, and only swallowed two of five bite/drinks of the thickened water. He was having a bit of a hard time with the breathing through the PMV. They say each different way is a totally different sensation, besides he had progressed to one where he would get more air through. Please pray that we can get back to the previous level and progress from there.
• Heart—The cardiologist said he has a murmur (We already knew that.), but that it was insignificant. He said, "He doesn't need me."
• Hives and swelling—Thank the Lord the allergic reaction symptoms are gone. Praise God! (He was very miserable. I had never seen such hives and swelling before.)
• Surgery—Surgery went well. It will take three months to completely heal. He is limited somewhat in movement, but there is still much he can do. Physical Therapy came in today, and Pastor Esposito sat up on the side of the bed and did very well. He just tired very quickly. The therapist was VERY surprised at the strength in his hand. He still is requesting some pain medication but is very obviously experiencing much less pain. Pray he quickly regains strength and, again, gets back where he was and can go forward.
God has been good through two challenging weeks. Upon arriving back to Huntington Beach, I asked Pastor, "I know we don't prefer to be in any hospital at all, but is it sort of good to be back in your spot over here so we can get back to getting well?" He agreed. I prefer not to publically post our thoughts on God leading us in the decision of going back to Huntington Beach, but feel free to ask me in person if you would like. I have been given MANY opinions from far sides of the spectrum. For now, I believe that we are where we should be (not without MUCH struggle and prayer and contemplation).
Thank you again. We pray that you have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Thank you for continuing to pray for Pastor Esposito. We are still in the hospital. It's been one thing after another and up and down; however; this morning as I talked with him, he smiled and was very attentive. He told the surgeon he was "fine." Overall, he is seeming to be much better.
Thank you for all of your prayer!
Thank you for praying for Pastor's surgery Tuesday. The doctor said surgery went well. I hadn't mentioned in the update what type of surgery it was. Once some of the other symptoms lessened and Pastor seemed more aware, I questioned him to find out why he seemed in such pain. He communicated that he had pain near his hip. Upon X-raying, it was found that he had a fracture across the top part of his femur. It was replaced during surgery with a prosthetic.
He has been so miserable and in pain over the past 8 days, and I pray that today he begins to have some relief. Also, pray that everything becomes stable once again in all areas.
Please pray for the following:
Thank you so much for your prayer. It means the world to us. Thank the Lord we can rest in the fact that He is still in control. One early morning this week, as I awoke thinking about my husband's pain, I just broke down crying like a baby under my cover. I felt so sad for his pain, and frustrated at the setbacks it surely has caused for him. Of course the questions of how and why this could have happened kept popping up in my mind as well. I turned on the Scripture beside my bed to listen for God's voice through His Word, since I didn't want to get up and let my children see me crying. What God impressed upon my heart and used to comfort me is the fact that not one small detail of this situation is surprising to Him. He knows exactly what is going on, and He's still in control. I can go round and round about what happened and distress. Just as October 3, 2013 when it all began, God holds us in His hand and knows what's happening. What a comfort to rest in that truth! We are in the hand of God.
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.