Monday, March 31, 2008

What Happened?

I thought you guys were going to be in intensive care for a week and then in a regular room for a week and then in a rehab hospital for 4 to 6 weeks.

So did we all.

Well so, what happened? God happened.

Yeah, but really, I mean, did God perform a miracle or something? I mean, like, was the tumor gone or something?

Here's the physical reality. The tumor was eyebrow raising big even to the ones who see these everyday (one of the biggest seen). It was pressing into the brain stem, which would eventually be fatal. It was (and is) wrapped in and around the cranial nerves. Removing the tumor from around these nerves would cause several temporary (potentially permanent) disabilities requiring significant rehabilitation. It had invaded and destroyed the bones and function of the right ear (which have been removed [not the exterior ear, just the inside parts]). She is now completely deaf in her right ear. Its physical character was such that it was considered to be very "sticky" (meaning it would be very difficult to get off of the brain). It had to get big somehow, so it was thought it had a lot of blood in it (that is why we had the angiogram first, to block off the blood supply).

Here are some physical things that happened that may allow us to go home so much earlier (we're not home yet). The tumor turned out not to be very vascular (not very bloody). as a matter of fact the radiologist came out after having started the angiogram to get the MRI films because he could not find any problematic veins or vessels. After studying the films he went back and embolized one small place near the tumor. Secondly, the tumor, in spite of its shape and character was not very "sticky" at all and came right off the brain. Thirdly, enough of the tumor was removed from around the brain that it was decided it would not be necessary to endanger potential physical functions provided for by those nerves enmeshed in the tumor. Since 90% of the tumor was removed, the other 10% is not likely to grow. That being the case, nerves were not destroyed, because they were functioning fine.

So, how did God happen? Where is He in all this?

He is at the beginning and the end of it. But to be more specific, people have prayed for a speedy recovery. One prayer requested of God that when the surgeons got in there, they would, say "Hey! Somebody has been in here before us." Well, the angiogram found almost nothing to embolize. This made it much easier to work on the tumor. What happened to the blood supply that grew that tumor so big? God. Secondly, the MRI shows with obvious detail that the tumor had a "sticky" character. It wasn't sticky; should have been, but it wasn't. Why not? God. The tumor has invaded the cranial nerves responsible for facial motor function, swallowing and some others that have been mentioned in the pages of this blog somewhere. Removing the tumor from them would be destructive and require weeks and weeks of rehabilitation. It was not necessary to remove the tumor from around those nerves, so Tracy has pretty good function all around. I have explained before that enough of the tumor was removed that what is left is kind of isolated and it would be difficult for it to grow. This outcome is different than the pre-op plan based on the gathered data - God. Tracy had all the mechanism for hearing and balance removed from the right side of her head. There is nothing with which to hear or provide equilibrium for her. It was taken out. That is like a balance scale with all the weight on one side. But she has no significant dizziness. Now that makes no sense. Think about it. She ought to be falling over to the left all the time or falling everywhere and throwing up forever as the fluids in her left ear try to shift around to keep her steady (to follow the balance scale analogy - to shift weight back over to the other side of the scale). She isn't. Why not? God.

God had a will when he created Tracy - that she go through this event. The prayers of His people were for mercy. God never changed His will (He never does), but He listened to His children and responded. It was your prayers and love that inspired us to remain faithful to receive the most God had to offer. When Abraham asked God for leniency on Sodom for the sake of Lot, God gave it, but never changed His will. He still destroyed Sodom and Gomorah, but honored Abraham's faith as well. So often, we try to bend God to our will; do this for me, change that, intervene here because I want it that way. We have no authority over God, no power to tell him what to do. It is for us to find God's will and get in line with it. We pray for intervention that we might receive the highest good God has available, but ultimately, in all things, God's will is done.

It's like a junior high basketball team. Oftentimes, there are many more players than positions. Some teams have to divide up into an A nd B team and still have too many players. Who get's to play? Everybody equally is socialism and doesn't capitalize on the particular assets of the team, nor does it consider effort and attitude on the part of the player. Only the best players is dictatorial and ignores the value of the team as a whole and has no plan for the future or potential losses of the best players. The answer is those that put out the most effort with the best attitude. They are showing the coach that they will do whatever it takes to play in the game. The more they do and progress, the greater potential for game time. The more we petition God, the more He will acknowledge our faithfulness to Him (Luke 18:1-8). We are not manipulating Him, getting Him to change His plans for our desires, or perceived needs. We are asking for Him to provide for us while we travel down the road towards which he has directed us.

Tracy's road was and is rather dramatic, and all the prayers, love, and Spirit of God in His saints have blessed us with just what has been asked of God. Tracy and I have talked and wept for those persons that face this kind of path without knowing God and being a part of His people. Do you understand how magnficent, how secure, how comfortable it is to be in this family? We have some struggles ahead and they belong to us and we will go through them, but we have been blessed physically, materially, emotionally, spiritually and so many other "-allys". Thank you saints of God. We will live in honor of your love for God.

All right, I'm sure you will appreciate Tracy's blogs again when she gets back to it and can get away from mine that can go on and on and on and on and on...well, you probably get the idea. Hopfully, the next blog will be a picture of home.

Thank you over and over again.

Jeff

From Tracy

I know I don't have to say this BUT...I could never be where I am without all of you. God has taught me so much about His beautiful body and how the tiniest thing can be so meaningful. I'll never be able to repay you all, but I do understand about paying it forward now. Thank you for teaching me about love. Thank you for being Jesus' hands and feet and laughter and tears.

Miracle of miracles, I may be home tomorrow, but it is April Fool's. Can you trust me?

I love you all with overwhelming love.

Tracy

P.S. My bandage is off. The cut is a perfect "C". Christopher is claiming all the glory. Sandie M., I am one ahead of you in the body art department. haha. beat that.

I love you guys.

Tracy. :0>


This our goal today. For those of you who don't know, this is Tracy's nephew. You kind of have to decide for yourself what it means.

Now, be sure and look below for pictures of Tracy if you haven't seen them.

Tracy has walked twice today in the hall. She also ate real food for lunch: fish, baked potato and turnip greens. Wonderful, wonderful girl.

Heeeeeerrrrreeeee's Tracy















Monday Morning first thing

Tracy slept well last night, though of course she had to wake up a couple of times. Dr. Zafero came in about 6:30 a.m. and said she is progressing really well, just what they want. He wants her to walk around the halls today; wants her to get up and move around. Head bandage may come off today or tomorrow. It is about 7:30 a.m. now and Tracy is sitting up in the chair all ready and eating breakfast: A banana, a soft fruit plate, light vanilla yogurt, cottage cheese, grits with brown sugar and butter, grape juice and milk. Sounds like a feast, huh? She probably will not eat it all. Too bad, Josh Johnson is not here to help finish it off. He said he was jealous that he was not getting to chow down on all that hospital food.

Look for a picture coming. You can see how far she has come.

Jeff

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Night Successes

It's been quite a day here at Lake Wobegon. Tracy is in her own room and ate more lemon yogurt than she wanted and some mashed potatoes that were probably made in a laundry room and drank like a regular human being all day. She sat in the chair for hours at a time. She walks herself to the bathroom. And she tells funny stories. Now, this is great, but she also feels crumby, her head hurts a lot when she coughs, (and she must cough to clear out those lungs) and, of course, she has some significant pain. The right side of her face still doesn't work and her right eye doesn't produce tears. So, she sleeps with some lubricant in it and a patch over it to keep it closed.

I am on a chair/bed next to her in the room. It is nice to be near her. We had some time alone together tonight just talking gently and quietly about what she wanted to talk about; nothing real significant, just being together without having to pay attention to essentials and other people's needs or personalities. It was serene. There is a shower stall in the bathroom and the practical care assistant said I could use it. What a treat! I'm clean, wearing night clothes and can actually sleep in a prone position tonight.

I want to be sure and say thank you to all of you for allowing me to communicate with you through this blog and not on cell phones or visits right now. I have tried to tell or read to Tracy some of the comments, but it is too much right now. Too many words and too much to process. So, I just kind of tell her who wrote and the shortest summary I can think of . Even then, sometimes she says, "not now". I know why she feels that way, because I know that girl. She wants to receive these comments in her heart. She doesn't want to just hear it. I am trying to get all of the emails copied onto a word document so she can read them when she is able. I have 28 pages so far.

She said something interesting tonight. She said, "God is good. Today, while you were gone I was able to meet with God. Before now I have just been to out of it." I was so glad to hear that because we (Tracy and I) have not been able share our faith and dependence on God with each other. You know, even the un-spoken communion that one has with their spouse, we couldn't have while she has been so out of it.

It's about 11:30 p.m. and the night nurse just came in to introduce herself and do a little assessment so she could know about Tracy. So, in another 30 minutes or so, Tracy should be free for the night to sleep.

One last story that Tracy was telling to make everybody laugh. Her nurse last night was a fella named Curtis and he was a nice enough guy, except that he was not amenable to letting me spend any time with her in the middle of the night. Tracy said he talked to others about how he had to get her husband out of the room. (Harumph) Well, anyway, Curtis told Tracy how his shoulder was hurting so badly. He thought he may have broken his clavical while he turned in his sleep. Tracy said she was thinking, "Why are you telling me this? Why don't you try having a tumor removed from your brain?" She said she thought she should publish a list, "Things You Don't Talk About With a Person Who Just Had a Tumor Removed From Their Brain". She's a crack-up.

Things are looking really good. God answers the prayer of his faithful. And you have been faithful. Thank you for your love.

Jeff
CALLING/VISITING TRACY 3:30 p.m.

I've been asked to ask everyone NOT to call the room, but please get your information from the blog or a family member. Tracy's not up to talking on the phone, and there are still so many family members coming in and out that this is about as much company as she can handle right now. We'll be sure to let you know when she's ready for more. Jeff's mom
Tracy's in room 432, eating, sitting up in the chair, entertaining (and I do mean entertaining!!) guests. She still doesn't feel so hot, but tons better with every passing hour. Jeff's in Chappell Hill taking care of business and helping Bethany with her math if she doesn't have it done yet. He should be back later this afternoon. She hasn't had significant dizziness, can walk around the room. I'd be surprised if she even has to spend any time in rehab. It looks like, right now, she might be able to go straight home from the hospital (with someone with her 24/7). Everything's looking better all the time. Jeff's mom

Going to a regular room

Tracy is being moved to a regular room. We are told it is #432. Haven't gone yet, so... we'll see. Also, when she sat in the chair this morning between 10 and 11 or so, she ate a whole cup of yogurt and had a large cup of what looked like weak iced tea to drink. She wasn't coughing or clearing her throat. This is a good thing. She felt a little dizzy, but my sister pointed out that the codeine could do that, also.
Gotta go.

Jeff

8:30 a.m. Sunday Morning

Good morning everyone. Tracy sat in the chair again this morning about 6:00 a.m. The night nurse, Curtis, was not so amenable to my presence and thus I was not allowed to stay in the room for more than a hello, how ya' doin'. I asked to be allowed to come back in when the Dr's did their assessment, and he said he would ask them. Tracy said she would, too. I guess he said no. But, I made it in before the doctor left and was able to talk to him. He feels Tracy is doing very well, but will probably not move her until tomorrow morning to a regular room (SEE BELOW). This is Dr. Zafero. Tracy is to try sips of liquid today, water or juice, and soft foods like pudding, while she is sitting in the chair. He wants her in the chair a couple of times today, at least. I asked if getting up and moving around could be overdone and he said no, she could do as much as she felt like doing. So, I'm bringing in Richard Simmons (for you literalists, that's a joke).

Mary, the day nurse (had her once all ready - good nurse) asked if there was an elixer pain reliever as Tracy did not like the "drugged" feeling of morphine. Dr. Zafero ordered some Tylenol with Codeine, I believe. Tracy told me she had been asking for only 1/2 the morphine and I asked if this would impede her progress. Mary said, no, she wasn't getting enough morphine for it to matter. She wasn't even sure how the morphine Tracy was getting was controlling any pain. To me that's a good sign, because, on some level, Tracy is managing the pain. She still has some, and only she knows how much, but it just seems to me like she is doing fantastic. Facial swelling is really going down, still there, but not as much. Right side of the face is still non-reactive. Not so much a problem with double vision this a.m. and Dr. Zafero said they were not really concerned about that.

HEY, WAIT A MINUTE. DR. ZAFERO JUST CAME IN AND SAID HE TALKED TO DR. OGHALAI (THE BIG CHEESE) and he said he wants Tracy to go into a regular room. That means no more waiting rooms, for the most part, and visiting hours might be a little different. I don't know which room, but he said it would be on the same floor right around the corner (pretty much where we were on Wednesday after the angiogram). They will move her in a couple of hours. Stay tuned for updates. I aske if she could take a few steps and He said she can, but she would need assistance. We'll see. This is not something we need to be in a terrible hurry about. All right.

You know, it's crazy. When I left Tracy about 8:30 a.m. I needed to go to the bathroom, but I wanted to do this blog first, in spite of nature's strong urging. Had I been in there I might have missed Dr. Zafero. The crazy part is feeling like you can't ever leave, because you're going to miss somebody or something. Truth is, that has happened to me twice all ready and when it does happen, it just feels terrible like I let Tracy down or just missed something for which I am supposed to be responsible; like the pitcher who throws a ball that is hit for a homerun or the fielder who misses the fly ball that decides the game. I don't think it's guilt so myou much, but I guess it can't be anything else. Well pooh, you gotta do what you gotta do.

More when it comes.

Jeff

Saturday, March 29, 2008

funny little momma!

well as you have all heard she is doing very well!
when i went to see her today,she was pretty funny...and i think without fail she asks for chapstick everytime one of us goes in.hehehe... i told her "you are doing very well"and her response to that was "well i dont feel very well.." - sweet little momma!<3
there were other funny little things she said too but i think i will let my dad tell all of you them because he will be writting what has currently been going on ,later ,and explaing things.
I'm not sure if my dad has told you all that when my cousins and uncles went to see her,one of my cousins said that she had A-LOT of hair left and my momma said "punkrocker" hahaha shes so funny and she also said that she wants to dye her hair pink!!!!
well i think i'm going to head to bed now.
thank you all for your prayers :]
*bethany*

Last update for the night, Saturday 3/29

Well, Tracy sat in the chair only once today until this evening. The nurse on duty allowed Tracy to just sit up in the bed and figured that may be good enough. But actually getting out of the bed to sit in the chair allows for more muscle movement all over, so I spoke with Tracy about the need for this and also for being willing to take authority for her care and make decisions that she can require the nurses to follow through with. I also talked gently with the nurse that Tracy would like to sit in the chair for another hour. Tracy's temperature was back up to 100.6 so she was getting some Tylenol (in a place where she doesn't have to swallow, ahem). So we decided to wait about 30 minutes. We assume that the fever may be coming from the lung condition. They just need a good workout, relatively speaking.

About 30 minutes later, the nurse came into the waiting room to get me, saying that Tracy wanted to see me. I hopped up and went back in and she had been sitting in the chair for about 20 minutes. She is something else. She doesn't feel good, but she is trying.
It was funny when I was telling her all this stuff, trying to be gentle, but insistent at the same time, she eventually said, "Ok, Jeff" in that tone that means "I got it. You can be quiet now." If I were a goofy teenager, this is where I would write LOL (which for the rest of you old geezers means "laugh out loud" in textspeak). She's all there. What a grand ol' girl.

Now, Here is a great story. While she was sitting up, she did her breathing exercises and did wonderfully well. She is supposed to do 10 an hour. She stopped at 8 and said that was enough. I encouraged her to do the last two and she did 'em. She sat in the chair for about an hour and so there was a lot of time of just looking at each other and I tried to think of things to tell her about all you guys and just the "goings on". I told her that I knew my voice gets kind of loud, or raspy or just annoying or I use too many words and she should tell me if I am causing her stress. She said I was fine but me and grannie had bad breath! Now here is the good part. She smiled the first smile I have seen. And though you couldn't really hear a chuckle, you could see it. He shoulders shrugged up and she shook a little. She was really proud of herself for her little funny. And she showed it. She felt it. I'm glad, because this is the first real humor I have seen her appreciate.

Earlier I had told her how wonderful I thought she was doing and how proud of her I was and though she might be feeling crumby, she was making me feel great, because of all her effort and good spirit and how much I loved her. She said weakly, "K". That was it. That was funny.

She is having some problems with some double or fuzzy vision in a different place than earlier. Her right eye has a tendency to stay open and she seems to let it do the job of seeing as she doen't open the left eye. I brought this to her attention and she said when she opens both eyes, she feels cross-eyed. So, we will make sure the Dr. who does the assessment in the morning is aware of this. In the meantime, we talked and figured she should try to open both eyes or close both eyes. The nurses are supposed to put some ointment on her eyes at night because the right one is not producing tears. They're supposed to tape it shut at night to protect it.

Grannie had a good plan that I go to the motel for a couple of hours; get a little rest, get cleaned up and then come back for the rest of the night. Good plan. So I am here in the waiting room and every now and then go in and check on her.

She looks really good. She doesn't feel all that well, but she is improving.

Thank you guys.

Jeff

Speech Pathologist Vist

The speech pathologist came in about 1:00 p.m. or so. She checked how well Tracy could purse her lips, smile and open her mouth. She had Tracy swallow some ice chips, water and vanilla pudding. Then while she was swallowing, Sara, the speech pathologist, would listen to her throat with a stethoscope. Then she would listen to her throat while Tracy breathed. The decision is to keep her on ice chips today and maybe even tomorrow. Sara said Tracy's tongue is working well, though it is weak. Her lips and throat are weak. So, when she swallows stuff, there is likely some trickling down her windpipe. So, solid or pureed foods or liquids other than water would be a bad thing. In spite of this, it is believed that Tracy is doing really well.

Now I'm gonna tell you that every time I have gone in to see Tracy today, she has looked better. I think the swelling is going down and she seems more alert, even though she still sleeps most of the time. That may sound kind of odd, that she seems alert while she sleeps, but it is true. I think she has a little more color to her as well.

When she got up to sit in the chair, she did it on her own; she got into the chair herself. It is expected that she would be dizzy and nauseous. Well, if she was dizzy, it was not so much that she would throw up. This is really good. Most people, apparently do throw up.

Another interesting thing for the sake of perspective; today, Saturday, is considered to be day 1 from the surgery. Monday would be day 3. That is significant, because we had asked about nutrition intake, as there has been none. Dr.'s won't really be concerned about that until day 3. In the meantime, she will suck on ice chips. If the doctors think she can handle it, they may allow her to drink clear liquids. If she is still clearing her throat after swallowing something (evidence that some is trickling down the wrong pipe, but good that she is able to clear it herself) then on Monday, she will have a barium test. Swallow some barium while x-rays are being taken so that they can see exactly what is happening.

So, don't know where we will be tomorrow. I'll let you know. Brad and Jessica Bevers brought us Asian wraps and gourmet cookies from Shlotzky's. Yummy, yummy, yummy. Great folks.
Jeff

Tracy Sat up for an Hour

We went in to see Tracy about 11:00 a.m. and Mary, the nurse, was getting her situated in her bed. Tracy had been sitting up for an hour and is plum wore out. She also did some breathing exercises. Do you remember the movie "The Right Stuff"? The astronauts in training were required to suck on a machine that held a ball in suspension at a certain level for so long a period of time. That is the same kind of machine that Tracy is using. She is supposed to do it 10 times an hour. She has to suck hard enough to raise the indicator to 1500 ml. She had done it at 10:30 a.m., but she showed us what she had to do and got to 1000 ml, then 1250, then 1500 ml. Third time's a charm. Then she decided she was done. The nurse said that was fine because it wasn't time for her to do it anyway.

Tracy is doing what she is supposed to. It is hard and she is challenged, but she is willing. I told her that probably when she's able to sit in that chair well enough and is using that breathing apparatus effectively they will probably be more willing to move her into a regular room. She said flatly, sarcastically, "Yippee". I explained that then we could be in a room together and she didn't say anything. It's hard and she is becoming more aware with every moment of what she is facing.

Ann is in with her now just sitting beside her as she sleeps.

Jeff

Dad forgot ...again.

I forgot to tell everyone that Dr. Cristobal said that the m.r.i. confirmed that 90 percent of the tumor is gone and this is very good news. We will be able to visit with her after 11 a.m.... signing off for now.
-Matt

Saturday Morning Assessment

Last night I stayed in the motel room as per discussion with Tracy. This morning when I sneaked into NICU to be with her, she said, "Don't leave at night." She said she didn't have a bad night, in terms of pain or difficulties. She just didn't want me to leave. So, we have some logistics to figure out.

She had a fever last night and this morning, 100.1 to 100.8, probably due to her inactivity and laying flat such that her lungs are not being significantly stimulated. Dr. Cristobal said it is not uncommon for someone in her situation and it is not likely an infection. In his assessment, he had her squeeze his hand with each of hers. Then she was to clap her hands twice turning one over to clap with the back of her hand after two claps; each hand each way a couple of times. He had her wiggle her toes. He moved to her face and had her smile, pucker her lips, raise her eyebrows and follow his finger as he moved it around. He used a penlight-like instrument for her to follow with her eyes. She has some double vision sometimes when the instrument was held in a horizontal position, but not vertical. It was inconsistent, however. Dr. Cristobal said this had to do with the 4th cranial nerve. The inconsistency is odd, so this will be something to watch. The right side of her face is not really active. So, when she smiled and raised her eyebrows, it really only happened on the left side of her face. Dr. Zafero came in as well and they both discussed everything. The incision made in her belly for the fat graft looks good according to them (I didn't see it, of course).

The goal for her today is to sit in a chair. When they told Tracy this, she said, "No." They explained how important it was and she readily agreed. Sitting up in a chair will allow her lungs to work properly as well as being to reduce the swelling in her face. Her "no" was a statement of her desire, not her intention. Later, she told me, "I'm scared." I think she is afraid of being dizzy and throwing up and just...well...the whole thing; being in the condition she is in and maybe being alone. Maybe on a level that wouldn't necessarily be communicated, the idea that when it comes right down to it, recovering is going to take a huge amount of effort and motivation that is more than she can muster on her own. She wants to get better, but accomplishing it looks like swimming the ocean right now. It's hard to feel good about reaching for a goal that can't be seen. She told the nurse she wanted me to stay, and Mary (the day nurse today) let me, but said I would have to leave after a bit. They really didn't want me back in until visiting hours started again at 11:00 a.m. They want to give her a bath and try to get her to sit in a chair, among other things.

The practical result of this morning's assessment is that she will stay in NICU today. She might go to a regular room tomorrow, but that can't be decided until tomorrow. Sitting in the chair successfully, it appears, will be a major determinant of this decision. They will try clear liquids today instead of just ice chips. She still asks for chapstick everytime I come in. I'm going to have make something of that later, something funny.

I think that is it for the technical side of things, other than it is good to see her stressing a little bit over what she must do to get better, because that means she is actively engaging her life. Now, I want to be there for whatever she needs to have peace for her journey, whether it be whipping boy, audience, cheerleader or coach.

Now, here's a story. This morning after I had to leave her bedside and was in the waiting room working on this blog, I enjoyed a conversation with the lady who came to clean it. Her english was better than my spanish, but we talked each using words and phrases in the other's language to get our ideas across. She told me she saw on TV that some fella is pregnant. This fella used to be a women, and no doctors are wanting to attend to him/her. (just a weird part of our conversation) Anyway, when she left, she said she would pray for Tracy and that God would take care of her. I told her thank you and gave the thumbs up sign. She began to leave and as she went through the doors to another hall, she began praying, right then, out loud. I heard her as she went down the hall. She was speaking in spanish, but the little familiartiy I have with spanish and her tone and vocal inflection confirmed for me that she was praying and praying sincerely and passionately. It was wonderful. I felt so special, so loved; and by someone I don't even know. You see, kids, that is the family of God. That is true community. That is a true heart. I am dancing in a field of daisies.

I want to preach and exhort, but when I try to think of what specifically to present, I can't choose, because the whole truth is real, important and worthy. The visual image in my head is that of giving the whole Bible to someone who asked me to tell them what verse, adage, or truth inspires me. Living in Christ is so much more than talking about Him, or the church, or Christianity. It is being more than doing. Of course, doing comes from being. And you know whatever you really are determines what you do, or at least the sincerity of what you do. Ok, ok enough with the philosophy. For those that endured my verbosity, thank you. There are so many of you who have said things, written things, done things, shared wisdom, practical advice, shoulders and time to whom I want to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude and let you know how important you have been; the little things and bigger things. Somehow, some way, some day I will tell you or show you. thank you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

3:30 p.m. and Waiting

It has been several hours since I have updated the blog. Truth is we are waiting for Tracy to get out of an MRI. However, she has done really well. This morning all of the family members got to see her, one or two at a time. Though she was very tired, of course, she interacted with everyone. Even being part of a practical joke on Byron, saying to him as he came in, "Now who are you?". Earlier when I had asked my kids what they thought her first words to me were, Bryon could hear over the phone and answered that her first words to me were, "Where's Byron?". Truth is, her first words were, "Chapstick."
The speech pathologist came in to assess Tracy's ability to swallow. She let her sip from a straw, which Tracy could do, but since the right side of her face doesn't really work yet, it was difficult to get good suction on the straw. But she did swallow, though weakly. Next she gave her water in a spoon, which Tracy swallowed weakly. Then she spooned in a couple of spoonfuls of applesauce. Tracy swallowed that also, but afterwards she cleared her throat and coughed. So, she can swallow, but her throat muscles are weak. It is very good that she can swallow as she does, but she needs to be able to do so safely. She must be able to keep her airway clear. The decision then is too allow ice chips today, reassess tomorrow for clear liquids. Dr. Oghalai came in while I was gone, but Grannie was there and she said that Dr. Oghalai said he was very pleased with the results. He is planning on a feeding tube through the nose tomorrow, if the reassessment does not improve. She will need to have nutrition by tomorrow somehow.

Hey guys, I took a break for a minute because Tracy was back in her room. She is fast asleep; looks very peaceful and I think she is at peace. Jessy said Tracy has been very cooperative and good with everything she must do or endure. Her face is swelling up quite a bit. That is to be expected. Think of when you bump your knee and you say, "Ow!" and rub it, but you don't see anything. The next day, there is a big blue bruise there. Same kind of thing.

Tracy is doing great. We know she is bouyed by everyone's prayers. What a blessing.

Your comments on the blog are an anticipated blessing. Please be sure and sign your name. The blog will only recognize you as anonymous. There are many of you writing and we love it, but a couple have come without a signature and we don't know who sent it.

We'll update again later.

Jeff

Talked with Tracy at 8:00 a.m. Friday

Wanna smile? I talked with Tracy. Talked, like you and I having a conversation. Respitory therapists took the breathing tube out after 7:00 a.m. sometime. Made a huge difference. She looks better and is coherent and interactive. When I saw this was the case, I began telling her abput the blog comments you guys have made and different emails that have been sent and about the visitors yesterday. Then seeing that she was more than just hearing, I began telling her how the surgery went and the positive outcomes we are seeing. She nodded her head in understanding. She, using her voice, asked for chapstick and pursed her lips when I applied it. She said, in a quiet voice, that her neck didn't feel supported. I told Jessy, the day nurse, and she folded up a towel and told Tracy to lift her head. She did and Jessy slid it under. A minute later Tracy wasn't happy with its placement and Jessy repeated the process. I am giving you all these details so that you get a sense of how coherent she is. She is actively thinking, feeling and making decisions.

Now, she is in some discomfort, of course, so she was given more meds to get her to sleep. Jessy said this is a day Tracy needs to rest. Last night, she was given a lot of meds and had a lot of discomfort (a more pleasant word for pain,I guess)If any of the family sees her, they really need to just see her and let Tracy sleep.

At present, the right side of her face is not strong. Muscles do move, but they are sluggish or too weak to move much at all. Should improve. Jessy said that all the patients with similar surgeries come in this way. Jessy was very positive and upbeat, while still being firm about her expectations. She has said that Tracy is doing very well. I understood that too mean, beyond normal recovery.

It is a beautiful thing.

Here is the verse apropos for today, so far. Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Got to see Tracy

Well, it's 1:30 a.m. and everyone is somewhere asleep. We sat in the waiting room until about 10:30 p.m. when we finally went to find out what was going on and it turns out Tracy had been moved at 9:00 p.m. to the NICU. Frustrating, but understandable (big hospital, lots of major and serious surgeries going on all the time almost day and night). Also, (continuing the glass half full perspective) it probably would have taken about as much time to get Tracy situated and allow the nurses to become familiar with her needs, etc., such that when we did come by, it would be easy...and it was.

Teri is the nurse tonight. She's special; very sweet, compassionate and prays for her patients. Handled me just right when I came in to see Tracy after learning we had been forgotten about. This one faux paux does not negate the very positive experience we have been having here. Magnificent, in spite of this little booboo.

Tracy has a huge, white gauze bandage over her head with a lot of padding on the right side. Her face is somewhat swollen, of course, but she looks good in light of what she has been through. She is pretty uncomfortable with the breathing tube, but she is pretty heavily sedated and receiving pain meds. Her arms are strapped to the rails of the bed so that she does not dislodge or damage the breathing tube. She writhes around quite a bit, when the medicine wears down, but that is the time evaluations can be made of her abilities. She has already held up 2 fingers when asked. That is pretty significant when you consider what she has endured and all the tubes and wires sticking out of (or into) her now. They are actually going to try and take out the breathing tube in the morning.

We are so blessed by the many visitors and commments to the blog. Getting the comments is like getting a present everytime we look at the blog. Wonderful people showed up today, just to sit for a while. We know that took time and resources out of each one's day and we are blessed. Thank you, thank you.

Now, visits are probably not beneficial to either you or us. You can't really see Tracy while she is in NICU and there is not much room to handle lots of people in this part of the hospital. It is kind of around the corner and far to the back. Very quiet back here.

So please talk to us; email us, comment on the blog, call us to see if we are available for a visit, but please be aware that the next few days are pretty seclusive for Tracy.
I gotta try and get some rest. I appreciate you guys so much.

Cool promise from God: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm, plans to give you hope and a future.

Brad Bevers fixed the Devotion video

I messed up putting the video on the blog earlier. Brad got it going. Simple mistake. He's a genius. Scroll down and watch it. The words will make better sense when you watch it. I hope you enjoy.

SHE'S DONE!! SURGERY IS DONE!!!

HEAR YE, HEAR YE AND PRAISE THE LORD!!!! Good news. Good news. Dr. Oghalai came in about 7:10 p.m. and said, "It went well". He was very pleased. They feel they got all the tumor away from the brain stem and away from the jugular bulb. They left about 5% to 10% around the nerves that we have been talking about; basically those that control swallowing and facial motor control. They figure that they were able to get so much of the tumor out that there is a good chance the blood supply is effectively cut off and thus the tumor will not grow anymore. By leaving the nerves in tact, the chances are much better that she will not suffer significant loss to them. The nerves have worked by being stimulated with an electrical impulse and that is real good news, but they still have to work on their own. However, the chance is much better that full recovery can be accomplished and much more quickly. The chances are much better that she will make the wedding and make it with good function.
Recovery and rehabilitation may be easier and faster. Her equilibrium will be all messed up due to the resection of the inner ear. She will be dizzy. Tomorrow, she will probably throw up a lot. Doctor Oghalai is thinking that she will not have to have a feeding tube. He hopes to take the breathing tube out tomorrow. He was careful to make sure that we heard, "We will have to see" when questioned about what Tracy will be able to do and when.
He is pleased with the results, but it was still a very aggressive, invasive procedure.
Speaking of aggressiveness, he said this tumor was a classic meningioma and was not any bigger than they expected it to be. Future stereotaxic radiation treatments will likely be effective if necessary. It will be necessary for us to monitor the tumor for the rest of our lives. MRI's every year and intervention as needed.

We are now on the working side of this event, so please continue to pray on our behalf for our strength, patience, and God's mercy on us. Also, please pray for us to be able to communicate effectively the testimony of God's presence.

I'll tell you moer as it comes in. Thanks for your interest guys.

Jeff

6:00 p.m. Update

Praise the Lord for his guiding hand! All right fellas and fellettes, here is the latest and it is good news. I happened to be unavoidably out of the waiting room at the time Dr. Yosher, the neurosurgeon, came in to give us the latest news. Here is what I gather from the ecstatic group in the waiting room. Some of Dr. Yosher's part is/was the brain. That is what they have been working on so far. This tumor has been pushing its way to the brainstem, actually compressing that area about more than twice the normal space. Dr. Yosher said they have gotten everything away from the brain stem and any vital (life sustaining) areas. Now they are going to get to work on the jugular bulb, which is Dr. Oghalai's part for the time being. They are going to leave some of the tumor around the nerves controlling swallowing and facial motor control in order to save those nerves. What that means is Tracy will potentially have better recovery and rehabilitation success. Her face is not likely to droop meaning there would not have to be a follow-up surgery to try and connect or rebuild nerves. She will likely still have difficulty swallowing due to trauma to the area as they worked around it. However, trauma is better than destruction; there is expected rehabilitation. It is also important to appreciate that the nerves mentioned are working "now". But we're not done yet.
The inscision was much longer than anyone expected, about 2" or 3" down the neck. Apparently, this tumor is now recognized as "the biggest" that some of the doctors have ever seen. However, everything seems to be working for the good (sounds familiar, doesn't it - Romans 8:28).
More good news; Christopher and Rachael just arrived. Gotta go give hugs. Tell you more if you're waiting up.

Jeff

This Morning's Devotion

video

Grandad suggested we all say the 23rd Psalm. Deidre decided to film it while we did it. This moment in time is a great picture of how the Bevers live. What a grand family to be a part of. This morning was a very special moment as we all held hands and recited God's promises together. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

1:30 p.m. update

Debbie the nurse called and said that eveything was going ok. Tracy is doing fine. They are still drilling into the bone and encountering a lot of tumor as they drill. Apparently, drilling into the bone takes hours. Debbie sweetly reminded me that this procedure will take hours longer and asked if I had eaten lunch. So thoughtful and considerate.

Before I could finish writing in the Blog, the Harbor Lights Choir of the Salvation Army came in and sang accapella and prayed with everyone in the waiting room. It was incredible and awesome. What a prayer! There was not a dry eye in the room and we were all about to start jumping pews, if there were any. Man, so cool.
This is Tracy before surgery about 6:00 this morning. What you see is what you get. She has been at peace this morning. As a matter of fact, when the nurse came out at 11:00 a.m. to talk to us, she said that Tracy was very calm and sweet in the OR before going under.

11:00 a.m. Update from the OR

The nurse is getting to take a break from the operation. She is wonderful; beautiful smile and sweet. She said everything is going well. She emphasized several times that this is going to take a long time,...a long time. The surgeons are doing bone work right now. They have already taken the fat graft. This is a a procedure in which some fat is taken from the belly to use a plugs for the holes that are drilled in the skull to get to the tumor inside. That part is done microscopically. So, the bone work involves cutting out the bones that service the right ear (remember the hammer, anvil and stapes from science class)and drilling the holes in the skull to prepare for the microscopic work.
Paul and Shirly Johnson shared a verse that I think is really cool.
It is II Chronicles 16:9. It says, "The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Ths sounds like Tracy to me. Rock on, guys.

Tracy is in Surgery

Hello Everybody!
Last night we read about Shadrach, Meshack and Abednigo in Daniel. When Nebuchadnezzar told them he would give them one more chance to bow to his image they told him you don't have to ask us. Our God will deliver us. (and here's the neat part) But even if he doesn't, we still will not bow. God is God regardless of our circumstances. Cool beans!
Well, we were up about 4:30 this morning so Tracy could take a shower before everyone showed up to see her off and she went into surgery. About 5:30 a.m. David Beckworth and Kelly Bevers showed up. Minutes later, Troy, Tracie, Dedrie, Travis, Ken, Ann, Byron, Kacie, Brad, Jessica and, of course, Matt and my Mom were all in the room. It was crowded and wonderful. We prayed, sang, read Scripture and visited. Tracy was in good spirits and smiling all the way to the elevator.
Tracy had me read these Scriptures to everybody this morning. They were very important to her.
Isaiah 57:18-19
I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him and to his mourners. "I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near," says the Lord, "And I will heal him."
Isaiah 58:8-11
Then your light shall break forth like the morning. Your healing shall spring forth speedily and your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, "Here I am." If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satsify the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
And lastly;
Ephesians 3:16-21
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church of Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ok, so here we are in the ICU waiting room with family and friends. Sandy Bingham showed up with stuff and gifts, games and kleenex and anything that you could think of that we might need in our situation. What an angel lady.
I will write more as it comes up.
Jeff

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

News about The Big Surgery

Ok, we just finished talking to Dr. Oghalai. He has a great bedside manner. Here is some kind of gist as to what he said.
The tumor is not considered to be largely vascular. That means there will not be a lot of blood loss. Dr. Oghalai's feeling is that the angiogram confirmed that the tumor is not a paraganglioma and is likely a meningioma. It is compressing the brain and invades the jugular foramen and the nerve to the throat and ear particularly. Tracy will have a near total resection of the tumor. That means the intention is to get as much of the tumor out. She will most likely have a feeding tube for 6 to 8 weeks, possibly a trachiotomy (Dr. Oghalai does not want to do one, so he is going to try and keep that from happening), certainly a breathing tube, for a couple of days, shoulder might be weak and tongue could be weak. She will feel like she is spinning when she tries to stand because she will not have the mechanism in her ear to keep her balance. She is to expect clumsiness. She will always have some meningioma in her head and may have to have radiation treatments in the future to knock it out if necessary. It is expected right now that she will be in some kind of hospitalization for about 2 months. Unfortunately, that is knocking on the door of, and actually passing the date of Christopher and Rachel's wedding on May 17th. But hey, we are gonna just have to see. Pray for us folks so that Tracy can recover miraculously quickly and effectively.
As has been stated before, Tracy will lose the function of her right ear, so she will be deaf forever in that ear. The muscles to the face and throat are likely to be damaged and will cause her face to droop and make it such that she can't swallow. She will have to learn how to swallow again and may have to have further surgery to restore some function to the right side of the face.
Other nerves that could be affected (but are not expected) are the right eye which would cause it not to move to one side (thus, Tracy would be able to look straight ahead and to one side, but looking to the other side, the right eye would not follow); she may lose sensation to the face; and she could have a major stroke, which of course could be disabling or fatal. Now, remember, the eye, the face and the stroke are not expected.
Dr. Oghalai does not want Tracy in a drug induced coma, but she will be in a light sedation. She will be groggy.
Visitors can't really expect to see Tracy probably through the end of this week at the least. She will be in NICU working on recovering and will be groggy at best. She could be in NICU even two weeks, but it could be just a week.
We have had lots of family visitors today. What a blessing.

OH HEY! Tomorrow if you decide to come to the hospital tomorrow, you know you won't see Tracy (Her surgery starts at 7:00 a.m. and will not finish until even after 10:00 p.m. But I understand a lot of folks are coming by to show their support and love. It will be a long wait in the neurosurgery waiting room. That is on the 3rd floor of the Dunn tower, which is between Methodist Main building and Fondren. When you come into the lobby at Methodist, take the escalators at the back (east side) three floors up, turn to the right and you are facing the waiting room. OR just ask the information desk where the neurosurgery waiting room is.
I'll write more as I find it out. Praise the Lord! He is good.

Jeff

In a room for the night

All right fellas and fellettes. We are in room 413. We expect to only be here today and tonight. After the surgery in the morning, the great Tracy will be moved into ICU. I'll tell you about that when I know more. Phone signals are not real good in the hospital, but they come through sometimes.

Jeff

First results of the angiogram and embolization

Hey Everybody!
Well, the doctor just came out and told us that he had finished the angiogram. He had come in earlier to get the films. We didn't know why and that was ok. It turns out, he couldn't find anything at first of a vascular nature. After looking at the films, he went back and found only a very small part that need embolizing. Thus, this tumor is not significantly vascular. What that should mean is that it is mostly tissue and not blood. The surgery should be cleaner in regard to blood flow. So, for the time being we are waiting for her to be moved to recovery and then we should be able to see her. She still has to wake up.
That is all to tell right now. You're getting this info pretty much on the minute.
Tomorrow, her surgery starts at 7:00 a.m. She will stay in the hospital tonight.
More to come as it develops.

Jeff

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Waiting on God

"This is the day which the Lord has made; I WILL rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24 - Rejoicing gets harder as the day nears but... I WILL choose to rejoice even though I don't feel like it. A verse I am remembering is Proverbs 3:24 "When you lie down, you WILL NOT be afraid; when you lie down your sleep WILL be sweet." I don't like the thought of being stared at and not knowing what is going on for days while I sleep but I am clinging to God's promise that my sleep "WILL be sweet". :)

Thank you ALL again for the prayers, encouragement, cards, phone calls, prayer times, hugs, laughter and tears. I love the body of Christ - YOU are His hands and feet and it's really hard to imagine that He loves me more than I've been loved lately. I only hope and pray that you know how much I love you all too.

I am still waiting on the miracles of God to bowl us over - He's been doing that and He WILL continue as we walk this life together. He is FAITHFUL - He is AWESOME and miracles ARE happening. Thanks for finding them with me. I love you so much. Talk to you after my "sweet sleep".

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Keeping You Posted

While I am out of commission Jeff will be updating the blog. Thankfully, the hospital has internet service for us so he can update the blog as we progress.

Thanks for hanging in there with us. I was so thankful to get to attend Easter services with my family (Chris and Rach are still home) - it's getting scary but I will keep looking to the One in Charge. Love, Tracy

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Roller Coaster Ride

Well, I have been saying this time in my life is like a ride on a roller coaster and... I am seeing how appropriate the analogy is so... here I go blabbing on to you guys. On a roller coaster you get in and simply trust. You have NO CONTROL over where you go, how fast you go, or any part of the ride. The only thing you have control over is your emotions and mental state. You can complain, cry, scream but it only makes you miserable or you can just laugh and hang on tight.

Why even get on in the first place? Roller coasters are exhilarating, thrilling, terrifying, and have non-stop suspense. You never know what' s around the next bend. Well... I'm sure you can guess where I am going can't you? I've said I wouldn't trade this experience- sounds weird but the ride is thrilling and when I am terrified I just put my eyes back on the one who has ALL CONTROL and it's not me(fancy that)- praise the Lord. I would probably have it stop mid-ride and I would be left hanging upside down not knowing how to get off. You see, it is simple just sit back and trust the One in control and experience the thrills of life. Trust His promises, take Him at His Word - He is faithful!!!

One of the neatest, thrillingist, funest, :0) experiences I've had on this ride is at the "P.J. and Praise Party" my church sisters had for me on Thursday. What a blessing - we had wild, crazy fun coupled with tender moments that I will cherish always. Christ was in our midst (Matthew 18:20) and He was honored by the faithfulness of the ladies that orchestrated the evening. One of my favorite moments was taking the Lord's supper - it was Thursday evening before Good Friday - how appropriate that we remembered our Saviour in this way.

I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to those who came and got crazy with me - they wore me out but it was a real good wearing out. I felt like I was in heaven - praising God with my sisters. My Dad heard us singing, from the other room, and said it sounded like angels singing. I have to believe there were angels singing with us!!! Another HUMONGOUS THANK YOU is for the gifts of love you gave me and my family - I was OVERWHELMED at the outpouring of your love. I have never had so many gifts and cards to open at once. I felt like it was such a representation of that wonderful verse in Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly BEYOND all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to HIM be the glory IN THE CHURCH and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever." He did beyond what I could think or imagine for the evening through His Church-YOU, my sisters!! "Blessed be the Lord God, God of Israel, Who alone works wonders..." Psalm 72:1 What a wonder He worked!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Email Address

Hey guys - I have a new email address if you're interested. I will still use the old one for about a month or so. The new one is jtkamp@live.com .

We are counting down. Had a great weekend with wedding showers and a wonderful family dinner. My emotions are on the surface so... you never know what you'll get when you talk to me. :0) RANDOM!!! It can be fun but.... a little scary. I feel like Peter when he stepped out of the boat onto the water. When he looked around he went down (fast!!) but the second he looked back at Jesus things were okay again and I mean down to the second. I am realizing it IS a choice I have and it's a simple one but... it does take stepping out of the boat.

Jeff, Matt, and Bethany will go with me on the 26th for the preliminary tests - we are praying the doctors just won't find that sucker!! Then, that evening Jeff's mom and my parents will join us. Maybe I'll be checking out instead of in to the hospital. Wouldn't that just be amazing to see God show His glory before anyone touches me? !!!

Thanks again, mighty prayer warriors, you bless me beyond belief. Your faithfulness to pray for us leaves me speechless. I love you guys. Tracy

Leaving comments

Some of you have said you are having trouble leaving a comment. Just click on comments - write your message then sign your name in the body of your comment(if you want). Then, click anonymous for the user name and that should do it. Thanks.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

On the Downhill Side?

Well - post-op meetings went well. They sure asked a lot of questions and drew a lot of blood. One of the nurses said that now we are "on the downhill side" - I thought that was kinda funny since I haven't even had the surgery yet. Maybe she knows more than she is letting on - preparing may be the most exhausting part of all of this- wouldn't that be great?!! The director of anethesiology and his nurse were remarkably kind. He told me that brain surgery really doesn't hurt as bad as other things will and explained that since the brain isn't a part of the body that moves- it doesn't hurt as much as another part would that moves with daily activity. That's good news but... I wanted to ask him if he had ever had brain surgery. Didn't think that would be appropriate but... it is a valid question. I am going to take these guys at their word and hope and pray for the best. Of course, I am still praying for divine healing (pre-surgery would be awesome). If God chooses to heal me through surgery then I like where I will be. They are very compassionate people.

I was happy to learn that we can get internet in the hospital too so... I can keep on checking in with everyone ( when I am not sleeping!!) All the activity to prepare IS exhausting so I am looking on this as a vacation. :0) You wouldn't believe how manic you become when you know you'll be out of commission awhile - cleaning out the fridge and oven(in case someone looks in there), getting gifts and cards for upcoming birthdays etc., buying everything you can in bulk (problem is my family keeps using stuff up before surgery), and any other crazy thing you can think of. I DO need a vacation - from my craziness!!

I get to go to two wedding showers this weekend for my beautiful daughter-in-law to be, Rachael. It will be so much fun being a part of the celebration. I am thankful to God for His timing. I haven't missed anything - I get to celebrate Easter right before going into the hospital too - Now think on the significance of that will you? What glorious hope!! Man, God is GOOD!! Thanks for hanging out with me for awhile. Love you guys!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Latest Update

We had a really neat prayer service last night. It blessed me so much. Thursday of this week (3/13) we go to Houston for post-op meetings and to give blood. Just wanted to let you know what is going on. :0)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Just Checking In

Good morning friends -thanks for keeping us in your prayers - we really feel it! Gave blood this week and it wiped me out for awhile but I am feeling great this morning. I have a whole new perspective on Christ giving His blood on the cross but... I will save the sermon for later. Hey I am reading some great books if you are interested. "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn is really neat and "Divine Healing" by Andrew Murray is very thought-provoking. God has been challenging the limitations my mind has put on Him. Just wanted to check in with those who are keeping up with this "nail-biting" ;0) blog. This has been one of the most rewarding times of my life - growing closer to my Lord, reconnecting with old friends, and growing closer to friends and family. Thanks be unto our Lord.

Hey - another awesome bit of media is a DVD by Louis Giglio called "How Great is our God" - it will just blow you away - I promise!! ( See I am having a "vacation" of sorts)

FYI- We go on the 13th to finalize plans for hospital and give more blood. Thanks for standing beside us. I love you guys. Tracy