Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bald and Chubby

As we get closer to the birth of our new baby, I was just thinking of Samuel when he was smaller and how bald and chubby he was. Thought I'd share some old pictures. These were taken shortly after we moved back to Pennsylvania. Hopefully our little girl will be a bit more petite, but I'm not counting on it!

Good Morning, Mom!

This is how I found Samuel one recent morning. He had gone to bed with a full set of footie pjs on. I guess I left him in his bed a little too long the next morning. He had completely undressed himself. I can't believe his diaper was still on! My mom says this is what I used to do on the way to church every Sunday. I bet she wanted to kill me!! He's such a happy waker-upper. Very rarely does he ever cry when he wakes up. Usually he's up to no good. This makes me a little bit nervous to switch him to a big boy bed. He'll probably have every toy in the entire room out and all of his clothes out of the drawers. I think I'll keep him caged up in his crib forever! =)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Life has been quite different for us the past week and a half. My mom has been living here in our apartment with us (in our spare bedroom...poor lady). I wish we had better quarters to offer her. =) We've been enjoying her presence so much. I'm not sure if it's mutual, but she is definitely enjoying her grandson.
Things with dad are quite different as well from the time of our last update. He is now in Select Specialty Hospital on the fifth floor of Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill, PA. It is about 25 minutes from our house. Mom visits, of course, every day, and Samuel and I try to go in at least every other day. He was transferred here on Tuesday, March 13. That afternoon when we went to see him and welcome him to his new hospital mom leaned down over the bed and said, "Hello, honey! I told you I would be here to welcome you when you arrived." Dad responded by immediately, yet VERY slowly nodding his head "Yes." This was the FIRST response we had received since his cardiac arrest almost 3 weeks prior, so it thrilled us! For several days there were just a few responses here and there and mostly just some times of dad's eyes being open and looking at us, but beginning last Sunday afternoon he has responded in even greater ways. When Andy (my brother) and his family came to visit, Dad smiled at the grandson named after him (William) after Will greeted him.
This past Tuesday was a very special night for us. Mom and I were visiting with him and when she leaned over to kiss him, he actually puckered up and kissed her cheek!! What a gift from the Lord! Since that day he has done the same for my mom, not frequently, but just about once each day. This has encouraged us so much. Praise the Lord for these small steps that show at least some understanding in Dad's mind! He has also, on occasion, squeezed our hands when asked and even said "Hi" two different times! We don't want to bore you with ALL of the details, but we want you all to know that the Lord is encouraging our hearts by these improvements. For the most part we have noticed that Dad is in one of three different states: completely asleep and unable to be roused, eyes open but not with any kind of understanding, or eyes open and looking very intently at us (with understanding, not just a blank stare).
One of our biggest prayer requests to share with you at this time is that he will do these purposeful movements for the right people (doctors, nurses, medical people). These are the people who determine if my dad will be able to stay here. They inform the insurance company of the improvement they have seen. If he is improving, then he is allowed to stay, but if they see him as leveling out, then they will send him on. We would like to get him into a brain/cognitive rehabilitation center, and this is dependent upon his charted improvement. We've been asking the nurses to document these things that we see him do, but it would be even more impressive if he did them for the medical staff as well. We understand that he doesn't even know these people, so for them to get him to respond is a matter of prayer. He is much more likely to respond to those who love him (his family). On the medical side of things, it looks as if his staph infection (which began this whole hospital stay) is fairly clear. Also, we are praising the Lord for the improvement of Dad's kidneys (his creatnine levels are the best since his initial hospitalization...down from 11 to 2.8). This is still not a normal level, but it is a drastic improvement! Praise the Lord. We know it is His doing! They have also completely removed his trach tube. He no longer needs it to protect his airway. He is clearing out his airway on his own!
Well, this message is turning into a book, so I will close. What a blessing you are to us. Your prayers have carried us along. We bless the Lord and want His name to be lifted high and His glory to be shown to all those who come in contact with our family.
One more great blessing...there is a young wife (early 30s) who I was able to spend some time with in Dad's first hospital (State College, PA). Her husband was in the ICU with Dad and had suffered a stroke. He was taken off of life support a few days after Dad's transfer to Hershey (about a month ago). She was grieving so greatly and cried constantly. I was able to develop a friendship with her and even called Pastor Rick Gilbaugh (a family friend of ours) to come and pray with her one day and with her husband. After her husband's death, I learned that she attended Calvary Bible Church (Pastor Gilbaugh's church) and received Christ! WOW!! May the Lord be praised. His ways are perfect! =) Please pray for Melissa's growth in Christ since her decision. She will face some very dark days as a young widow. Thank you for the love and concern you have shown to our family.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Quick update

I wanted to give a quick update until I have more time. We're praising the Lord that my dad is becoming a little more awake. Today he was awake for almost an HOUR!! WOW! This is the third day in a row that he has kissed my mom...heeheehee! What an awesome encouragement that has been for her, and for all of us really. He is nowhere near recovered or anything like that, but we have been so happy for the small things he is doing. He sometimes looks at us with such understanding in his eyes, and then sometimes with a very blank stare, but we can definitely tell that sometimes he is truly seeing us and trying to understand what we're saying. today he said "hi" and when my mom and my dad's sisters clapped for him, he laughed!! =) what a great blessing for us. Thank you all for praying. I can't wait until I can write more. Please continue to pray for all of us. God's grace has been so amazing.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thank you for praying

I'm not nearly as good with words as my sweet husband, but I wanted to personally write and thank you for your prayers for my dad. As far as his physical and mental condition is concerned, things are pretty much the same. The tracheotomy and feeding tube were both successfully placed this past Thursday evening. My mom said that it is a bit more difficult (emotionally) for her to see my dad with the tracheotomy tube, but we know this is the best thing for him. The ventilator was causing a pneumonia which is definitely not something dad needs right now. They are treating this pneumonia with antibiotics, and the doctors said that they caught it early. They said to expect things like this to crop up a lot more due to the fact that he is lying in bed constantly. The most recent news is that the Lord has provided a place for my dad to stay for the next 30 days or so. It is called Select Specialty Hospital. They are a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital and they specialize in weaning people off of the ventilator (which, praise the Lord, my dad has already accomplished!) and physical therapy even for patients who are never out of bed. They know the importance of keeping their limbs moving should they recover from their illnesses. This hospital has also received awards for their care of patients' wounds (bed sores) and complications arising from being so immobile. We have already visited the hospital and are very pleased with it. Another great thing about this particular hospital is that it is about 25 minutes from where Travis and I live, so my mom will be coming to stay here with us for at least the next month. We can't wait for her to be here with us, so we can give her lots of home-cooked meals and times of distraction from the sadness (namely, helping with Samuel!) =) She has said she will be so glad to have a family to come home to each day instead of just a hotel room. So...that's the latest on what's happening with my dad. We have been totally overwhelmed with the kindness and love of our family and friends. It is so good to be a part of the body of Christ. God's grace has been truly amazing to us. There have been some very dark times, but we know that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that we will experience when we are with our Savior! (Romans 8:18)
We love you and thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Prayer Update on Becky's Dad

Just wanted to write a brief note to ask prayer for two specific requests.
1. Becky's Dad has developed pneumonia from the ventilator. He is on antibiotics, so please pray for healing during this already vulnerable time.
2. He has surgery tonight at 6:30pm for the tracheotomy and feeding tube. With someone in his condition, even small things can be fatal.
We are confident of your continued prayers and support. Thank you! As you pray please remember to pray for the effective ministry of the Holy Spirit in Dad's heart as well as our hearts. With all the technicalities of finding a long term care facility and insurance issues, you can imagine the emotional and spiritual stress that comes, particularly for Becky's Mom. Despite these circumstances, we continue to seek God's glory.
Thanks again,

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Update 3/6/07

I praise the Lord for this ability we have to communicate so readily. This certainly has been an effective tool to get out information and receive your encouraging words. We are so grateful for all your prayers. We certainly can sense God's working in all these situations. Becky's Dad's status has not changed much. The docs spoke with Becky, Andy, and their Mom yesterday concerning Dad's prognosis. They told them that Dad will be in this coma indefinitely (medically speaking); however, they cannot say for sure that he wouldn't recover, because there are cases of recovery on record. Especially with a God with our God's power, there still is hope. The docs broached the topic of long term care or removing the different modes of life support. They told the family to not make a quick decision and assured them that they (the docs) would do whatever they asked. As Beck and her family have been praying, seeking the Lord, and talking, they have decided to proceed with putting in a feeding tube and doing a tracheotomy on Thursday. This will prepare Dad for entering long term acute care in a facility yet to be determined. Actually, as I write this Becky, Andy, and their Mom are driving back from Philly to look at a couple of these facilities. They are very encouraged about this move as it will bring Dad closer to home, place him in a high quality facility (not a nursing home) designed for people like Dad, and give the family more time to pray and think about future decisions. He could move as early as next week. Another praise is that Dad's kidneys are actually improving. Please continue to pray for his kidneys that they would completely heal. This would be a great step in the right direction.
The Lord has continued to minister to our spirits. Becky's Mom has been praising the Lord for giving her a settled peace that she knows is not based on her circumstances since they are very poor at this time. He is really ministering to her heart, which is a direct answer to one of my prayers. He is so good!!
While this has been going on, my Dad has still been recovering from his recent hospital stay, especially the surgery he had to remove blockage in an artery in his leg. My Dad's incision and leg have been bothering him with swelling and discomfort, so he went back to his vascular surgeon today. His doctor feels something is not right so he admitted him again in order to have surgery tonight (5:30 or 6 pm). The purpose of this will be to drain the swelled area and look around for any further problems. Please pray for my Dad as he has been struggling for some time. The Lord is also giving my parents a sweet peace and comfort during this time.
What can we say, but God's ways are not our ways! I rejoice that these situations are not up to us to figure out. We simply must trust the One who upholds all things. My cousin Ann Wright gave us a great passage to meditate on -- 2 Corinthians 4:15-18

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Thanks Ann!

Seeking the redounding of God's glory,

Travis (for the Heckathorne and Gravley families)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Update on Becky's Dad

Once again we are so grateful for all the prayers and support during this time. Your emails and phone calls have really helped the family. We enjoy reading all the notes, and it has been special to read them to Becky's mom too. I am home now for the work week. Samuel had a good weekend with his cousin Grace staying at my brother's house. Pray for Becky and Andy as they miss their kids. Becky's Dad has not changed much. To us it seems that he looks better and is showing some signs of activity in his eyes and face. However, it certainly is not significantly different. Probably tomorrow or Tuesday, the doctors will begin to make certain conclusions about a prognosis and his current condition. As you can imagine thoughts of the future are very difficult right now, especially for Becky's Mom. But as we have all seen in the past, God always draws near to us in the most needy times. Though we may not feel that we can handle a certain situation right now, we know that God will comfort and strengthen us when we need it most. Please continue to pray for some sort of recovery soon. As we have considered the power of Christ in raising from the dead, we have had confidence in His ability to address Dad's needs. We have also been encouraged by His Word, which tells us to ask anything in his name. At the same time, we recognize that our God is in heaven and He does whatever He pleases (Ps 115:3).

Another request I would ask you to lift up is for Dad's and the family's perseverance. In the first couple of days there is still so much shock and (could I say) adrenalin. But as day after day goes by with either no news or perhaps worse news, one's spiritual and physical stamina are threatened. We have begun to see this in ourselves already and know there could be many more days of this ahead. So please, as you have been, continue to pray. As Mom prayed this morning in our family devotional time, "Lord, we don't want to displease you in our responses." We also have been praying that those around us would be "confronted" with the glory and power of God.
Again, thank you all and may we serve to comfort you as God brings trials your way.

Travis (for all)

Friday, March 2, 2007

Update on Dad H.

I just got done writing an email to most everybody in our address book, but here's for the rest of you. Plus I did forget to mention a couple things.

Dad's status has not changed much today. He is unresponsive to external stimuli. They did an EEG this afternoon, which didn't really tell them much. Technically, they have termed him as being in an "alpha coma." I've been "googling" that for the last couple hours and can't find much to help my understanding. It is more descriptive than anything. It means that he is comatose and they are receiving mostly alpha waves from his brain. This is a very typical correlation to his lack of external responses. To be honest the prognosis does not seem very good, but the doctors are not making any conclusions from this. They want to wait out the weekend to see if he begins to show signs of reactivity. Please continue to pray during these vital hours. One positive note is that Dad is breathing on his own, though they still want the ventilator in.

Tomorrow he will have dialysis again to continue to address his poor kidneys. We will spend time talking and visiting with him. Again our prayer is that Dad will recover to some sort of consciousness or that God will take him. However, we are all yielded to God's perfect will. It has really been something to experience such pain and at the same time sort of feeling like we are knowing God more than ever before. Thursday I was struck with these verses in Psalm 73

25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

As Becky said today, this situation may negatively affect our earthly lives in many ways both now and in the future, but there is such joy in the fact that this situation has no negative effects on eternity.

Ready for bed,

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Urgent prayer for Dad

I am writing this just over 24 hours after Becky's Dad took a turn for the worse. Last evening, while having dialysis, Becky's Dad's heart began to fibrillate, which pretty much means it stopped pumping and was quivering. The hospital staff pumped his chest and eventually used the defibrillator on him and was able to get his heart pumping again. However, they were forced to put him back on a ventilator. His heart was pretty much not working for a total of 20-25 minutes. His heart being down for this long may have had a severe effect on his brain and other functions. We are waiting to find out just what his status is. Sometime tomorrow they will perform an EEG to check the condition of his brain. He has been making some movements and breathing a little on his own (above the ventilator). Overall, the situation looks bleak. Becky and her brother, Andy went down to be with their mom late last night. The family is praying very specifically that either God will call him home or bring him to some sort of conscious recovery, so that the family will not have to make difficult decisions regarding life support or those sorts of issues. Please pray with us for this. God is giving tremendous strength for Becky, Andy, and Mom. Please continue to pray for endurance during greatly difficult times and perhaps more difficult ones ahead. We are so privileged to have such faithful and concerned friends. Recognizing His goodness through it all, Travis (for the rest of us)