I wanted to take a moment to share with those who are praying for Pastor Esposito a few blessings, and of course to give God the praise for them. After posting last week that we were told there was no way to get therapy approved, the head of the therapy department came and told me that it was approved for up to ten days. He also told me that unless something extraordinary happens like his learning to brush his own teeth, it wouldn't be continued after that. Then, we will praise the Lord for the ten days! Monday they had him sitting on the edge of the bed practicing picking up his head and leaning on his elbows on either side, and holding onto a chair in front of him and they were trying to get him to pull himself. Tuesday, he was taken to the therapy room for the first time, and they stood him up for the first time in a little more than a year. It was really neat to see him in a standing position. A table keeps his knees from buckling or sliding, but he holds his own weight. He did pretty well at holding his head though he avoids turning to the right (maybe due to the surgeries and shunt on that side?) Today was more sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning, and some new exercises to increase mobility. I am learning new techniques that we can continue to use going forward. Please pray that he will get the most possible from these couple of weeks. I was asked by one of the therapists, "What is your expectation?" How do I answer that question? I was silent at first. Inside I wanted to say if you mean what do I want you to accomplish, "I expect you to get him walking and talking, and help him to be who he was." Then she said, "some families want the patient to be able to shift from a bed to a chair, or make it to the restroom, or to just stand." Just before that conversation, she had told me that because he didn't follow her directions very well, only mine, she wasn't sure she'd go on more than a couple of days (this was occupational therapy – not physical therapy that was doing sitting and standing). I told her that considering he has been lying in a bed for an entire year the fact that they can feel him trying to participate in sitting up and moving some and trying to turn from side to side, etc. is to me very big. I asked her did she not think that if they could work with him and help strengthen him maybe he could do much more. Then she told me she hadn't thought it was a whole year, and that okay, she'd keep on working with him. On a positive note, she did say that he was doing much more than when she last worked with him.
A few more "little" big things. Two of our assistant pastors and one of our members came today and were reminiscing about some funny stories from the past, and you could tell by the expression and attempt to smile that Pastor Esposito was enjoying the fellowship. I appreciate that our pastoral staff have faithfully come to see Pastor Esposito weekly since the start. I believe he knows and appreciates it, and it means a lot to our family as well. Today my son and daughter-in-law placed the baby in my husband's arm, and he picked up his other arm and placed it on the baby as if to hold on to him and gently feel his hand. Another "little" encouraging time was when I was showing my husband a card and telling him about the lady who had sent it who has really gone out of her way to encourage me—a lady I don't know from Louisiana—and another card from a lady in our church. I asked him if he remembered the lady from our church, and he gave me an obvious nod and a lift of the eyebrow. God is so good to continue to give us hope and encouragement through His Word, through little blessings, through wonderful people like those of you reading this update and praying.
Last night I couldn't sleep, and God brought to my mind the verse, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." And recently I have though much of the verse, "I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD." How true. If we get to dwelling on our problems and begin to have a pity party, we will soon faint, but if we will believe enough to look at God's goodness and blessings He sustains us.
Specific Prayer Requests:
Thank you once again for keeping up with our updates and for praying diligently for Pastor Esposito. Yesterday, we went to see the neurosurgeon once again. It was a blessing because though we were told he was out of the contracted group and that I'd have to pay $150 for the visit, by the end of the visit it was approved. I wasn't sure exactly what the purpose was in going. We had gone in June at the three month mark after placing the shunt and this appointment was set at that time. That was the appointment at which Pastor Esposito responded very well, and Dr. Szper had said we needed a physiatrist to try to help "bring him out". We are still waiting for that appointment (scheduled for December) and the neurologist (scheduled for November). We hadn't had any additional CT scans. On the way, I prayed that somehow, some way our visit would bring Dr. Szper closer to salvation through the visit. I don't know how the Holy Spirit worked, but I pray my prayer was answered somehow through our conversation. Dr Szper said my husband had progressed much more than he'd expected from the start, and he asked me questions about my husband's responsiveness. And as usual, once again he reminded me of the medical truth that we don't know how much further progress we will see. He said, "It's stimulation." We talked about therapy coming in and being hopeful and positive, but how (I don't think I've posted this yet.) they have basically said he can't qualify for any therapy (maybe in about 12 years when he is 65). From a medical perspective, Dr. Szper was basically telling me—it's largely about what we can do to try to stimulate and "wake him up" and that still there are no guarantees to what extent his brain will wake up. So within two days we were told from one doctor that it mostly depends upon the therapies, and from the head therapist that he can't qualify for any! Dr. Szper agreed that just maybe the physiatrist will be able to give some additional help and hope. In the mean time we will continue to pray and trust the Lord while we do what we can do.
Please help us to pray for Dr. Szper's salvation. I plan this week to invite him to a special day we are having at our church on November 2nd. Please also pray for a man named Joseph who is being released from the rehab side tomorrow and who promised that he and his daughter will be at our special day. I am also trying to get a Jewish lady named Sarah whose husband is also in the facility to come. She is contemplating coming. She often talks with me and cries. She has no one, her only daughter lives in Israel. There is also a gentleman named Ed who lives in the next door apartment to the nursing center that is seriously thinking of coming as well. He said he grew up in a Baptist home, but went away from church when he left home. He seems like he very well may come. This gentleman sees me walking my husband in the wheel chair as he is often out in the parking lot with his truck. He had told me of losing his wife after she'd been in a facility like this and then had gone home. The front receptionist, Marilyn has promised to come. She lives in Long Beach. There are several others I or my family have invited. Please pray with us. My daughter Susanna and I were driving and talking last night and she spoke about the fact that our lives should be all about winning others to the Lord, and she was telling me how God has been impressing on her that if our focus is on this end the other things that come our way in life won't matter so much. And I added that what does come our way should be a tool toward the end of reaching others for Him, and so I have prayed since the first night that because of our trial, many would come to HIM. Our present goal is to invite all the staff who have cared for my husband, and all of the folks we've gotten to know there (family members of patients) for our special day November 2nd.
Here are a few more updates: The worry of an obstruction in the digestive system seems to have been false. Pastor's blood sugar has been good since the change in the formula that they have fed him. One prayer seems to have been answered—tomorrow my husband will be fitted for his own chair. This has been going around for many months. And I was told that I would have to pay several thousand dollars and now I most likely will not have to pay anything. Our church family took up an offering for that part of the chair, and we hope to purchase a program/device that uses eye tracking to help a person whose mind is there but can't speak to communicate. I hope to get some input on this from the physiatrist as well.
Please continue to pray for wisdom in making right decisions, I have many different thoughts on this or that, or making specific changes and often go back and forth in my thoughts. But I desire God's clear leading in every way (medications, treatments, facilities, etc.) I also appreciate that many people give various ideas and opinions, and I don't want to miss anything God sends along through others, while neither do I want to take any steps He doesn't want me to take. Then, I remember and acknowledge that God alone is the Great Physician, and He alone able to heal Pastor Esposito. I also remember that He wants me to do my part, and I think of Ecclesiastes 11:6, a verse he showed me which gave me peace during one important decision I had to make earlier. This verse reminds me, who knows what the Lord might use! (Now you see why I need prayer for God's direction!)
ABOVE ALL ELSE, Please continue to pray for a miracle that all may "know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this…"
Our family would like to give our sincerest thanks to our wonderful church family and so many people across the country and around the world who have continued to pray for Pastor Esposito for a full year today. I may have mentioned in a previous update, but some of my husband and my favorite verses through the years have been Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think… Unto him be glory…" Though it has been a very difficult year and our hearts have broken, God has shown Himself faithful to do so much more than we could have thought. Here is what I wrote in a card I read to my husband today:
On this 1st anniversary of your AVM rupture, I wanted to remind you I love you, not only just as much but more than ever. I also want to take this day to praise and thank God together for His great goodness during our 28 years of marriage together. I realize very well the Lord could have taken you home a year ago today. It was a miracle you made it to the hospital, a miracle you made it through surgery the first night, and now a thousand plus miracles later, God has allowed us to have you still. Though we don't know exactly what the future holds, I know God has a plan and purpose for you, for us, for our family, and for Pacific Baptist Church. We'll keep trusting, believing, hoping, waiting, and praying until the day He chooses to take us home. I'll be by your side that's the purpose for which I was created (just like Eve).
I brought you two balloons…one "get well" to remind you I'm praying for you day and night…and a red heart to remind King Joseph that his Queen Mary loves him a LOT! And the other side to praise God Who loves us so (It says, "truly God is Good").
I thought of listing all the miracles in order to give God the glory, but it would be a long page! Here's what I would have put only for the miracles of his eyes as little by little God has given us miracles:
And I can go on and tell the "little miracles" in so many areas. His body being able to maintain temperature on its own, breathing on his own, a first yawn or sneeze, response to sound, expression, first movement in the face, a toe and then a foot, then a leg moving, a finger, then hand, then arm…and on and on I could go.
And we are thankful for the many lessons learned and the way God has molded us. I asked my children this evening as we went out to eat together to write down for me just one way that God has worked in their lives this past year. What precious lessons as precious gold from the furnace. For these we give thanks and for a Heavenly Father that loves us enough to take us where we'd never have chosen to go that we might be able to say with Job, "I have heard of thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee."
Thank you once again, and PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR A MIRACLE.
Thank you for praying! Pastor Esposito had physical therapy the day after the last update. Therapy evaluated his range of motion, and he participated somewhat in moving. They sat him up and he did well. Though it took two therapists to get him up, they have a really neat way to use a sheet around the back then tied to his knees to help hold him up. He did really well with trying to pick up his head and look around as well. Besides his ankles needing some extra stretching, they said that he is in good shape. They also said, "He's a strong guy." They were very positive, and said they would work with him for a week to help strengthen him and then teach us to do the same so he could be up like that a couple times per day. Everything was very positive until the following morning when I asked if they were coming and they said we were back to the same basic CNA splinting. They told me it would take a minimum of a month to try to get approval from insurance for the therapists to work with him. That was discouraging, but again we will choose to trust that God's timing is right. In the mean time we are going to try on our own to do the best we can to get him sitting up when we change from one person staying with him to the other while two of us are still there.
Here are a few newer prayer requests
We thought everyone might like to see a couple of pictures from Pastor Esposito's birthday. Thank you for continuing to pray for miracles and more than anything for God's will and God's glory.
Pastor Esposito's 54th Birthday was an eventful one with several visitors during the day, and a family get together this evening including the first grandson – Joseph Esposito III. (Remembering and praising God that the doctor felt that my daughter-in-law couldn't conceive due to a tumor at the base of her brain, and Joseph has been born in direct answer to prayer.) Praise the Lord for another year for Pastor Esposito that according to medical predictions should not have even been.
Much has happened since the last update. Our medical group changed things somewhat, and Pastor Esposito has a new general doctor that will be seeing him weekly. Our first visit was a very thorough one. We discussed the fact that his blood work was out of whack, RBC a little low, blood sugar high, and cholesterol high. (Pastor Esposito was extremely healthy before his illness.) She noticed they had begun a cholesterol medication and asked me if it were okay to stop it since it's bad for the liver and work with his digestive system that to her appeared to be not working correctly since his stomach is distended. She ordered an x-ray of the stomach and blood sugar monitoring. Today was the one week mark. She gave me what appears to be bad news, but with a silver lining. She said he is diabetic. The positive is that they are changing the formula he is fed to a low sugar feeding. That is very good news, and something we have prayed would happen. (I had been told it's extremely hard to get feedings changed.) I wouldn't be surprised if just this change doesn't help greatly. She said that this very well could be affecting the triglycerides as well. But in the end – Praise God for a change in diet which is an answer to prayer!
Another answer to prayer came for Pastor Esposito's birthday, which is also a prayer request, and the reason for this evening's update. Quite a few various staff members of the healthcare center have asked me questions over the past few weeks. "What do 'they' say about his trach?" "Do 'they' sit him up?" "Have 'they' ever tried standing him?" "Is he having therapy?" "Has he been reevaluated?" All the while I have been trying to wait patiently for the physiatrist to do an evaluation and then request some changes or increase involvement - the same way God used the neurosurgeon to order the things we'd been hoping and praying for (one being a physiatrist). There has been a delay in the physiatrist; it's been 3 months since the order – and the appointment is set for December (6 months later).
Then today, my husband's nurse asked about him sitting up. I told her that I can't sit him up myself, and that he hadn't been qualified for therapy. She told me to call her when his splints were off and she'd help me. She came in and we sat him up. She felt him trying in his back. We also asked him to look this way and that, and he did. He tried to squeeze – even with his right hand which still doesn't have very much movement at all. It was really exciting. He was able to have his feet on the floor and his hands beside him on the bed. It seemed to be a very productive time! Then my daughter arrived and I went back to Long Beach. When I arrived back and we were all outside for the birthday get together – the head of therapy came by to tell me that tomorrow they are coming back to evaluate again. WHAT A PERFECT BIRTHDAY PRESENT! Also, the director of nursing staff stopped in the hallway to tell me that they'd discussed his responsiveness and hopefully therapy could take him back on again. Praise the Lord.
It was a long day for Pastor Esposito with a lot of activity. Please pray that he will rest between now and whenever they come in tomorrow and that he will have the strength and mental capacity to do what they want to see so that they can take him on again. I believe they said two different therapists will come.
One other blessing – I posted a large card up on the hanging tv. Pastor Esposito's eyes again went from section to section where folks had written him Birthday notes. Wasn't too long ago that his eyes didn't even open, and then were not able to work together. In fact his medical records state that he "blew" an eyeball right in front of the doctors eyes on the night of the rupture. I don't know to what extent he sees – but he definitely tries to read, and tracks, and follows.
Praise God for the way He strategically in His time and in His way unfolds His plan and purpose in our lives. A few days ago while sitting in traffic on the way to the hospital I felt impatient. As we often do, I tried a couple lane changes which got me nowhere. It was as if the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that this is how I act in life often. I want to impatiently make things happen that I can do nothing about but patiently trust in the Lord. Stay on the road He's placed us on, and in His time we will get where He is taking us. As I was leaving tonight a gentleman I've talked with frequently (a patient) was talking to another patient, and he said, "Mary, isn't that right that there can be miracles and cures even though they say there are none, and you just never know?" I was able to share what God's done for us. How perfect is His timing. Thank you for your faithful prayer and care.
Please continue to pray for miracles.
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.