Friday, December 15, 2006
Live from Indiana

This is Greg and Barb. Greg is the pastor of the Free Methodist Church here in Griffith, IN. Barb is responsible for developing, forming and nurturing the most phenomenal woman I've ever met, so much so, I'm going to marry that girl of hers. Barb has also suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years and fibromyalgia for about the last 7.

Over the last six months, she's been suffering neck pain. In November, the doctor diagnosed it as a severe pinched nerve, so severe that he was suprised the nerve hadn't already snapped and permenantly paralyzed her. The week before Thanksgiving she entered the hospital for 2 days of traction (which involved a vise and screws in her head to align her spine for surgery) and then surgery to fuse two of her cervical vertebrae. She seemed to be recovering normally for a day or so and then her vital signs began to spiral out of control--low blood pressure, high heart rate.

On Thanksgiving day she was found to have an extreme case of pneumonia from lying on her back for a week at that point. That day the doctor also found that due to the very soft nature of her bones, the plate and screws in her neck were not holding the way the should at this point. They operated a second time, putting a rod through five of her vertebrae. She was additionally put on a respirator to aid her breathing and completely sedated.

Two weeks passed with no improvement. For the first week, no news was good news. The second, no news was bad news, and the doctors began to be gravely concerned about the state of her heart and how long it could continue with her body in such a frail state. Her kidneys dropped to 15%. Her oxygen rates dropped to precipitously low levels at one point. Two weeks is as long as is allowed on a respirator before irreperable damage can happen to the throat and voicebox.

She had a tracheostomy this past week, so the ventilator tubes are now connected to her throat rather than going down her mouth. This has meant she can begin to be weaned off the sedative. She seems to have good days and bad days.

Jackie and I finished our obligations in Wilmore on Tuesday and drove the six hours to Griffith on Wednesday. Today was a good day for Barb. She's responding and smiling when she sees us. You should see her light up when Jackie walks in the room. She is unable to talk because of the respirator, and that seems to frustrate her. Greg gets to communicate by answering 'yes/no' questions by blinking her eyes or sticking out her tongue. She can wiggle her toes a little. She tires out quickly, so her responsiveness is limited.

Her respirator oxygen level is now down to 50%, and she is breathing more breaths on her own. The lung doctor is very happy with her progress in what was once the area of greatest concern. Her blood pressure is back to a good level, but her heart rate continues to be high. She is also bleeding internally somewhere, and they’re having trouble finding out just where or why. There still are various and sundry things the doctors are trying to figure, fix or find. Infections continue to be an issue and her temperature can raise to 102 with regularity. They are also having a really hard time getting her stomach and digestive system to work again. However, we are quite pleased with the progress, albeit slow.

Her lungs are looking good, but there as always other concerns. She is completely unsedated now, but it still having difficulties being alert and appropriately responsive. Sometimes she acts like herself and other times she does not seem to recognize us nor respond to us in her usual ways. They're not sure what effects if any these days have had on her brain. We're hoping it's just her having a hard time coming off the sedation. There is word of infection, but as usual no one knows what it is specifically. She is also in A LOT of pain. She grimaces something awful when the nurses touch her legs. There are still problems with her kidneys, stomach, and colon. She's not near out of the woods yet.

While Barb had a relatively good day, mine was horribly bad. Greg woke me at 8 am: "I am so sorry to tell you this, but your car has been broken into." I had gotten to the house around 9 pm Wednesday after dropping Jackie at the hospital. I was so exhausted from the final weeks of school that I decided I'd unload the car when I woke up in the morning.

The passenger front window of my car was shattered and someone had made an attempt to steal my car CD player. They gave up and settled on taking Jackie's bag of clothes from the backseat, everything she'd packed for three weeks, a good chunk of her winter wardrobe--sweaters, nice clothes, shoes, makeup, casual jewelry. They left her basket of clothes in the backseat with a container of brownies and cookies on top. What were they thinking?

They popped the trunk, most likely looking for stereo speakers and instead found my basket of dirty laundry, which they helped themselves to. (I hope there are lots of poop stains on my dirty underwear.) I had also just Wednesday purchased the books for my January class that I need to have read before the ninth--a bunch of books about Jesus and Christian community. They took those. There were also a handful of my favorite DVDs I'd brought to entertain myself with in the hospital this week as well as my camera and some dress clothes. All in all, the police report lists about $1300 worth of stuff taken. On the plus side, the damage to the car comes to less than $300. On the minus side, the insurance covers completely the car but nothing that wasn't attached to the car.

At least they didn't take books from the library about refugees so I can still write my research paper.

I feel like I spent the whole day at the police station waiting for a report, the auto glass place waiting for a piece of plastic and the body shop waiting for an estimate.

It's a rough time here in Indiana.

posted by Peter at 12:28 AM
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