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.
Thank you once again for your faithful prayer. Please forgive the time between updates. Pastor Esposito has been stable, and has shown more alertness and responsiveness, little by little as we "trust in the Lord" and "wait patiently for him." Sometimes it's hard for us to see the extent of improvement since we are with him from morning til night, but everyone who comes to see him and hasn't been here for a bit notices. And we do too when we stop to think and thank the Lord. My children were excited the other evening as Joanna asked her dad to wave to her, and he picked up his hand and tried. Nathaniel said, "I remember when Dad couldn't do anything." Praise God.
Pastor's feeling on the right side seems very slowly to be coming back. An X-ray and labs were drawn to check for pneumonia, and the tests came back good. There is some damage to one lung, probably from the initial respiratory failure and several bouts of pneumonia, but he breathes on his own, and is making some progress by wearing the PMV valve several times a week to strengthen his lungs more and improve his cough and swallow. His swallow is definitely improving.
Please continue to pray specifically
At 10:00 PM a couple of nights ago, I got into an accident with the three youngest children in the car while returning from the healthcare center. The following morning I needed to tell Pastor Meyers since the vehicle is a car purchased for my husband in the church name. I asked him if he wanted the good or bad news first. He asked if the good negates the bad, and I said probably not. Then I told him. The same day there were several other problems that arose, including a call from my son with a flat tire, and a home alarm stuck on, and our bus not making it up the mountain for a retreat my other son was in charge of. Several things came to my mind. One thing that came to my mind was that other than having to tell Bro. Meyers about the car, "none of these things moved me." Yet trials have a way of changing our perspective on life and showing us that what typically would have stressed us isn't really that important after all. And you find God can give peace in the midst of the storm. Another thing I thought of was that really, in a way, the good really does negate the bad. I told my children way back that God had been so good to me. I'd had 28 great years with my husband and a wonderful marriage. How could I complain. I like to walk and push my husband in the wheel chair as they lift him up and into the chair for three hours daily now. We pray together. I pray aloud and push. I thanked the Lord once again for His great goodness, and I asked my husband how many couples get the privilege of serving in one church for 25 years with the greatest people in the world, of having 8 children who love the Lord and want to serve Him, again of having the best marriage I ever knew of (of course I am biased)
God really is good and in my eyes, the good really does negate the bad.
I don't mean for this to be a personal devotional site, that wasn't the purpose of beginning it rather an update on how to pray for Pastor Esposito, and a way to praise God and give Him the glory for all He has done. But I thought maybe anyone going through a hard time may be helped by a lesson God impressed upon my heart which I shared at a class ladies fellowship last Saturday that relates. Here are the notes.
Once again we would like to thank you for your continual prayer for Pastor Esposito. Overall, the last couple weeks we have seen more alertness and responsiveness than any previous weeks. It is clear that Pastor Esposito understands but is very limited in his ability to respond. Most of the staff at the facility have now noticed his ability to communicate without speech and now talk with him expecting response. Respiratory therapists ask him if he wants to be suctioned. One asks him to "blink rapidly." The blinks are very obvious. Another asks for a nod or shake of the head. The response is minimal but recognizable. A physical therapist that I had gotten to witness to previously, stopped on the patio to talk with us and asked him if he could shake her hand, and he lifted his left hand toward her. She said, "Maybe soon we can take you back on." I am not saying that at any moment we can ask questions and get a response. I don't feel he has the physical energy and sometimes just looks at me and I wonder what he is thinking and then guess what he needs. But there are many more times than previously that he does respond. I try to keep my requests for response to a minimum so as to not exert too much energy from him. I did joke with him last week that he is probably thinking, "Now my wife finally understands how hard it sometimes is for a husband to try to figure out what his wife is thinking."
There have been quite a few circumstances recently where it seemed to various people that he attempted to speak. Without the speaking valve attached, he would not be able to have an audible voice, but he tries to move the nerves around the lips ever so slightly. Again, there is a physical limitation and it is very minimum, but it's a try whereas before there was nothing. I requested once again to know whether we can begin to regularly put in the speaking valve. It's been very sporadic. I'd like to ask for it daily if they feel it safe to do so. The nurse practitioner is going to seek advice from his pulmonologist.
We have a daily checklist/schedule we use during "wake times." It includes many things, on being a video modeling program for speech that we were recommended to try from an outside source as well as viewing his previous sermons. The premise is that the video modeling will help the brain remember how to speak with the mouth the words that are there in the mind while refreshing the memory on forgotten words. The facility is full of people who seemingly understand what's going on but who can't speak.
Praise the Lord Pastor Esposito is also able to be in a wheel chair daily for 3 hours, which is very nice. We get to take him for a walk, or sit under a cool shade tree. This is prevents bedsores which can be very serious, and helps strengthen his lungs. The last couple weeks he has seemed a bit weak in his lungs and for a bit one side was swollen again (an explanation was never found for that other than one lung was holding more oxygen). He hadn't been coughing the mucus up as much as he was and has needed more suctioning. The last few days have seemed better. It's frightening to hear what pneumonia has done to many patients there who were on the road to recovery at one time. It seems to be the great downfall of many, and one of the main concerns of not swallowing and coughing adequately, besides being in a lying position for prolonged periods.
Our family would like to thank you once again for your faithful prayer for Pastor Esposito. Thank you also for cards and e-mails that encourage our hearts. As I listened to Philippians while driving recently, the verse where Paul said that his bonds were known in the palace and all other places stood out. In prison, Paul's part in ministry seemingly come to a halt. Word spread to "all other places". I thought of how the word of Pastor Esposito's illness has spread around the world and so very many people tell us of those who pray (many of whom we don't know) for him, our family, and church. Many follow the updates and listen to his preaching now via the church website, etc. My son Daniel told him one day that perhaps this has fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel (he didn't say those exact words) because many people now "know" him and are listening to his preaching and that his illness had stirred in many hearts a desire not to let the vision Pastor Esposito believed God gave him in many areas die.
Before you enter a deep trial, it's hard to imagine that you can thank God. It definitely is not easy to thank God when your heart breaks and you so deeply miss your best friend of 28 years; but I do praise Him for the many ways that He's allowed us to rejoice in suffering. Many times God has just opened my eyes for a split moment in given situations to say, "You prayed for this." Though I wouldn't have wanted the answer to prayer in this way, He is using this situation to work in many ways and accomplish things my husband and I both desired for HIM.
I had begun an update a couple days ago with my main praise being that we'd been lowering the Keppra level for seizures, and he'd not had any seizures. Last night when my oldest son Joseph and my youngest son Nathaniel were there, Pastor Esposito had a seizure. Please pray for wisdom in whether or not to return to previous levels, and/or the doctor would give approval to try a natural medication Dr. Paik gave us.
I don't think that I was one to want to "be in charge" in our marriage, though in all of us there are times we feel we know best. But I loved my husband's leadership. Our family and people would tell you that he has always been a very good leader. I miss that, and wish he could speak and give me direction. But please pray that I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not unto my own understanding (acknowledging Him in all ways) and He will direct our paths (right decisions for my husband's benefit and for God's glory.
Please pray the same for the leadership and people of Pacific Baptist Church. Prayer that we'd just keep on going faithfully and fulfill our theme for 2014—to Glorify God.
Thank you once again.
Mrs. Joe Esposito
"Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer"
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.