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"
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.
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.
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."
Mrs. Joe Esposito
"Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer"
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.)
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.