Sunday, December 31, 2006

First of all ... Chuck has just been so precious these last few days. His mind seems to be on everyone but himself. Every time he finds out today is Dec. 31, he asks me to call the Kuennings to wish them happy anniversay. (This has happened 8 times thus far).

Okay, so when Lisa (supervising nurse from Baylor Specialty) walked into his room with flowers and goodies, I assumed they were for Chuck. Guess again. They were from Chuck ... for me ... our anniversary is tomorrow. Too precious??? Last week he told her what kind of flower I like (daisies) ... and that our anniversary was on the first. He asked her to take care of me ... can you believe this man???
As much as I would like to claim to be that clever ... the double post was an accident. However, I am leaving it because it's just so funny.

Chuck is doing better. He feels better. He knows where he is, but not how he got here. However, he knows I've told him ... as when he wants a review, he says "Tell me again how I got here." It makes him a bit anxious ... realizing that he does not remember.

Breathing is a bit rapid ... most likely due to all the anxiety he feels over not quite gettting what is happening. Once it slows, they will test him off the ventilator.

Pray for complete healing. Pray Chuck can return home soon.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Okay, j-tube has been replaced. Dr. Tate came up to the hospital (his day off), and made sure the tube was reinserted sans surgery. I heard him talking to his resident ... he said, "Well, I could have stayed home all weekend and worried about it, or I could come up here and take care of it. That's the price of being an intern." How cool is that? Okay, big thank you to God for Dr. Tate. We love Dr. Tate!

I would like to take this opportunity to clear Chuck's name of pulling out the j-peg. According to the notes from the night nurse ... it may have just fallen out.

The doctor thinks Chuck's memory will return. I did some research on short-term memory loss. One of the leading causes is extremem stress or anxiety. Personally, I think God gives us all kinds of amazing defense mechanisms ... this being one of them. Things got too extreme for Chuck ... alas, he has no recollection of it. Thank you God.

Okay, I am a sick-o, and I accept this. I have been having a little too much fun with the short-term memory thing. We have had the same two conversations today ... over and over. Seriously ... over 30 repeats of the same topics. One of the topics is the amount of tape holding his I.V. in place. I mentioned one of the times that all the tape was to prevent the I.V. cord from dangling. His remark ... yeah, like a participle. No, this was not funny, but he thought it brillant. Well, the next time we had the conversation (5 minutes later) I made the dangling participle comment and he thought it was hilarious. He really got a kick out of it. I did too, but for totally different reasons.

Okay, I also need to give props to Dr. Tate for laughing at Chuck's joke over and over. Yes, Chuck kept making the same joke ... and Dr. Tate pretended it was funny every time.

Chuck is doing well. Thanks for your prayers! Please continue to pray for complete healing ... mindy, body, and spirit.
Okay, j-tube has been replaced. Dr. Tate came up to the hospital (his day off), and made sure the tube was reinserted sans surgery. I heard him talking to his resident ... he said, "Well, I could have stayed home all weekend and worried about it, or I could come up here and take care of it. That's the price of being an intern." How cool is that? Okay, big thank you to God for Dr. Tate. We love Dr. Tate!

I would like to take this opportunity to clear Chuck's name of pulling out the j-peg. According to the notes from the night nurse ... it may have just fallen out.

The doctor thinks Chuck's memory will return. I did some research on short-term memory loss. One of the leading causes is extremem stress or anxiety. Personally, I think God gives us all kinds of amazing defense mechanisms ... this being one of them. Things got too extreme for Chuck ... alas, he has no recollection of it. Thank you God.

Okay, I am a sick-o, and I accept this. I have been having a little too much fun with the short-term memory thing. We have had the same two conversations today ... over and over. Seriously ... over 30 repeats of the same topics. One of the topics is the amount of tape holding his I.V. in place. I mentioned one of the times that all the tape was to prevent the I.V. cord from dangling. His remark ... yeah, like a participle. No, this was not funny, but he thought it brillant. Well, the next time we had the conversation (5 minutes later) I made the dangling participle comment and he thought it was hilarious. He really got a kick out of it. I did too, but for totally different reasons.

Okay, I also need to give props to Dr. Tate for laughing at Chuck's joke over and over. Yes, Chuck kept making the same joke ... and Dr. Tate pretended it was funny every time.

Chuck is doing well. Thanks for your prayers! Please continue to pray for complete healing ... mindy, body, and spirit.
A devotional I saved from earlier in December ... it brings me comfort:

"God will always give what is right to his people who cry to him night and day, and he will not be slow to answer them."Luke 18:7

When we come to God, we make requests; we don't make demands.

We come with high hopes and a humble heart. We state what we want, but we pray for what is right.

And if God gives us the prison of Rome instead of the mission of Spain, we accept it because we know "God will always give what is right to his people.". (Note from Jan: this is what happened to the apostle, Paul.)

We go to him. We bow before him, and we trust in him.
We're still waiting to see the doctor of internal medicine. I have tons o' questions.

This is what I know right now:
  • Chuck's breathing is okay.
  • The pulmonologist has already started weaning Chuck off the vent.
  • It looks like we will be in I.C.U. through the weekend.
  • Chuck's short-term memory is very sketchy right now. I asked the pulmonologist if this could be due to oxygen deprivation. He said no ... and truly, Chuck was never oxygen-deprived for any length of time. As soon as he stopped breathing, he was bagged.
  • Chuck got a little "pull-things-out-happy" last night. First, he pulled out his N.G. tube (from nose to stomach). He cannot stand those things, and I knew it wouldn't last long. However, he also pulled out his j-peg. With the whole short-term-memory loss, he does not remember doing this. Sadly, I've had to tell him over and over what happened, and he gets upset everytime he rediscovers that his j-peg is out ... and will have to be replaced.

Please pray his memory-lapse is short-term. (ha) Please pray the j-peg issue is quickly, and easily resolved. Please pray Chuck is healed and can go home.

Friday, December 29, 2006

First, and most important thing, Chuck is fine ... now. He stopped breathing this morning and was rushed to the E.R. He is fine ... now ... still a bit loopy and out of it, but fine. I was flying in from San Antonio ... completely unaware of any of this. I showed up at Baylor Specialty to find Chuck's bed empty. Moment of panic ... but thank God, Dad was still close. He turned his car around, and quickly drove me to the E.R.

We are now at the I.C.U. at Big Baylor in Truett Tower. I know, I know. Big Baylor is actually four separate towers ... we're in Truett ... in a lovely room, room 414. I will let you know how Chuck progresses.

Let's just pray for the works. Pray he is completely healed. We'd love to go home. Sorry I'm short on info. Hopefully I'll know more in the morning.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I am actually surviving being away from Chuck. I left him alone this time. He was fine, of course. I cried and cried and cried. I felt so cruel leaving him all alone. Yes, I know, I know ... he's more than capable of handling everything on his own.

We are thrilled to have Dr. Bray for the next MONTH. We typically get a doctor of internal medicine for a two week stint. We have had Dr. Bray twice before and we adore him. It will be a HUGE blessing to have someone we know and trust ... and that knows Chuck's extensive history.

Keep Chuck in your prayers tonight. Oh, who am I kidding! Keep me in your prayers tonight as I miss him like crazy.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I receive a couple of daily devotionals ... they help me keep my head and heart straight. One day I received this prayer ... and have prayed it daily since. It's a prayer of faith ... of being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not always see:

You are a great God.
Your character is holy.
Your truth is absolute.
Your strength is unending.
Your discipline is fair. . . .

Your provisions are abundant for our needs.
Your light is adequate for our path.
Your grace is sufficient for our sins. . . .

You are never early, never late. . . .
You sent your Son in the fullness of time and will return at the consummation of time.
Your plan is perfect.

Bewildering. Puzzling. Troubling. But perfect.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's official ... we just need the wounds to heal and we are good to go. Chuck's lungs are great. If his blood pressure is taken with the appropriate cuff ... it is okay. Who knew ... if you take his blood pressure with a regular adult cuff ... it can be off by as much as 20 points! It read 91 over 52 with a regular cuff and 124 over 72 with a small adult cuff.

We are awaiting wound care ... anxiously. His back has been hurting ... which worries me. Please continue to pray for wounds to heal ... to heal soon ... we're ready to go home!

I will be traveling to San Antonio tomorrow (with the Coplens). It should be a FUN trip!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas! We are counting our blessings.

The morning began sadly, with the loss of a dear friend's mom. Please remember Letty in your prayers. Such an incredible loss ... our hearts are broken for Letty and her family.

While this is a day of great celebration ... the day our savior was born ... we are feeling the sadness of loss. The loss of a life always brings reminders of the gifts of life ... family, friends, love. Chuck and I are so grateful for the love that has been showered on us. We are thankful that we have each other ... and family and friends who surround us with support and love.

God bless you this Christmas. Hug and kiss on those you adore ... they are gifts from God.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Okay, here's a little-known fact concerning living in a hospital ... if it's not in the chart, it don't mean diddly. No matter what the doctor says to you, if it's not documented in "the chart," it never happened ... this all leading to the topic of Chuck's pulse-ox toe tag. He still bears it ... because the doctor did not write in the chart that it could come off.

On to the great news ... we moved to a bigger room! We thought we were living large before ... now we feel really spoiled!

Please pray for healing for Chuck.

Friday, December 22, 2006

p.s. I forgot, Chuck get rid of one more tether today. They took his pulse-oxygen sensor off! He has one less tube. Yea!
Chuck's holding steady with the tube feedings, and is slowly adding some food. Dr. Branccacio said the trache is ready to come out ... but we're leaving it in as a safety valve ... in case he goes back to surgery for the hardware issue.

Please pray Chuck's wounds heal.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This has been a tearful morning. The Moonie family has left Baylor Specialty. I met Mr. Moonie two months ago. His wife started out in the pod; then moved to a regular room; now she's going to assisted living. Mr. Moonie said he'll be taking her home soon. I am so happy for them ... but so sad for me and Chuck. I'm a bit jealous ... when do we get to leave? Why can't we follow that same pattern ... improve, improve, improve?

God sent a QUICK answer to prayer. Last night I was praying for a support group, or someone who could help direct me through this whole care-taker role. I don't know what I'm doing and sometimes I worry that I am harming Chuck rather than helping him ... causing him to become too dependent upon me. WHAMO ... met Betty Wilson this morning. She and I stood out in the hallway laughing and crying about how hard it is to watch the man you love go through all of this. Granted, she's been married to her husband for 54 years, but she says it's not any easier watching him suffer. She is a beautiful woman of faith ... who has had some of the same doubts I have had. I mentioned to Chuck, "Yeah, I've been praying for months that you'd be healed ... but this request God answers overnight? What's up with that?" Whatever is up with it, I am thankful. He must know how much I need guidance!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hmmmm ... Chuck is so listless. It's rough to watch ... sure it's rougher being the one being pumped full of calories ... feeling stuffed 24/7. There is talk of using the T.P.N. again ... feeding through the veins. This malnutrition stuff stinks!

As for wounds, some look BETTER, and some look the same. The plan is to pump Chuck full of calories and to keep him off his back as much as possible. He turns from side to side every 2-3 hours. No back time for the boy. The wound vac may be used later. Right now we are waiting for the dead skin to slough off, and praying that new healthy skin is growing underneath. As the dead skin sloughs, more hardware will be exposed. Using the wound vac right now would pull off too much dead skin ... exposing too much hardware. Please pray Chuck grows beautifully healthy skin pronto.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chuck narrowly escaped receiving a "therapy dog" for a Christmas gift this year. He's been down lately, and I could not help but think that a small, calm dog would do just the trick ... help ease his anxiety, etc. Then I realized it was CHUCK who was anxious ... not me ... and that bringing in a dog to calm him down would be like making me play computer games to calm me down (BIG MISTAKE!) My temporary lapse in judgement was confirmed when a therapy dog actually came to Baylor Specialty for a visit. I was in HEAVEN, Chuck was in HELL. Actually, he smiled a lot when the dog was in the room ... but it was just because I was so elated. Whew ... that was a close one!
Chuck's holding steady. He got very sick to his stomach earlier ... but it was a short-lived episode. Sadly, he threw up his pain medication right after he took it ... the kind he gets every twelve hours.

The respitory therapist removed the oxygen source from Chuck's room. This is waaay cool. They must feel very confident that Chuck is breathing just fine on his own!

Please pray for healing for Chuck's wounds ... miraculous healing ... quick healing ... complete healing.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Okay, wounds are stable. There is no improvement ... yet. However, that the wounds have not declined is a BIG bonus. Please pray for healing for Chuck's wounds.
Morning rounds: Chuck was visited by his internist and his pulmonologist this morning. Both are pleased. The plan for the lungs is more of the same ... trache may come out soon! The plan with the nutrition is to increase his tube feedings to 45 ... with the hope of eventually making it to 50. This leads to wounds. The plan is to treat the exposed hardware with nutrition, wound-care attention, and prayer rather than venturing out for another surgery. Please pray the skin grows over his hardware.

I'll give a wound-care update later in the day.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chuck's a super-duper-trooper. The tube feedings are set at a rate that is a little uncomfortable for his stomach. He feels full ALL the time. However, when I asked if he wanted it reduced, he said no. He said he wants to try to make it a few days so that it will help his wounds. Chuck Picciuti is my hero.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

p.s. I get a daily Bible verse and this was today's:
Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble and always be prayerful. (Ephesians 12:12) How perfect is that? It may become the "theme" verse for this whole experience.
Today was a wonderfully full day. Our "camp" crew came to visit today = Brouses, Kuennings, and Davises. We had three four-year-olds (Lindsey, Phoebe, Mason) up to visit Chuck. They brought such a joyous energy. You know Chuck though ... little tolerance for joyous energy! Hannah (10) came as well. She has matured so much ... she is a joy to be around. Needless to say, it was a HUGE blessing to spend time with friends. I miss everyone so much. Chuck and I can't wait to get home!!!!

Chuck's just holding steady right now ... awaiting an improvement in his skin. This is the hard part ... waiting and hoping.

Please pray Chuck's wounds heal. Please pray for something GREAT to happen that will motivate, inspire, and encourage him.

Friday, December 15, 2006

This morning started out GREAT! My cousin, Kam, took me for my first-ever facial. I had no idea what my face had been missing out on! I plan to indulge more frequently.

Chuck's wounds are benefitting from the nutrition. They are not yet improving, but they have stopped declining. Also, the skin around the wounds is looking more healthy.

Guess what fell out today? Just guess. Come on ... yep, j-peg. As soon as I saw it I high-tailed it to the nurses' station, clomping all the way in my fancy new cowboy boots (gift from Chuck). "Quick, j-peg's out. Get a doctor NOW!" (You may remember, the window of opportunity is quite short and I was fully prepared to reinsert the tube myself.) Blessedly, the surgeon came quickly, reinserted the tube, and TAPED it back in. He said it's no use to suture it in, as the sutures just keep popping out. So, Chuck's main source of healing is secured to his body with tape ... I should have known ... you know, the whole wonder of duct tape and all.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

You know how they tell you in school that math is important and you'll use it for the rest of your life? And you know how you blow that off? Well, math rescued my nerves today! It turns out that Chuck is receiving 1,560 calories with the tube feeding! (The dietician brought her handy calculator today. I got confused with the 50mL per hour and the number of calories in 50 mL ... and the whole multiply by 24 ... good grief.) Whew, I feel relieved ... even if Chuck does not eat a thing, he's getting the nourishment he needs. They ran a pre-albumin (protein) test this morning, and Chuck's in the healthy range! Thank you, God. I know Chuck's praising God because now I will stop harassing him about eating.
p.s. I've forgotten to mention the low blood pressure issue. Chuck has orthostatic hypotension ... his blood pressure drops when he sits up for physical therapy ... or any other reason (like an attempted escape from the hospital). We are trying several things. First, he got the compression stockings. That did not work. Now we are trying the pnuematic pressure device (sleeves on the legs that squeeze his legs intermittently). Please include a nice, stable blood pressure in your prayers.
Chuck is slowing getting used to the tube feedings. Temporarily, his oral intake has all but stopped. The tube feedings make him feel full, so we are taking it slowly. With the tube feedings going 24 hours a day, he is getting right at 1000 calories. Thus, he still needs to eat. He takes a couple of bites of food every two to three hours. Hopefully, his body will adjust soon and he'll be able to eat better.

The plan with the wound is to get as much nutrition into Chuck as possible while we "watch" the wound. His skin is too fragile right now to do much with. Pray for healing. Pray God knits Chuck's back together and closes that wound.

Lungs are super duper! We are so thankful.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm back home with Chuck ... by home I mean "with Chuck." Our home is now Baylor Specialty. He looks fantastic! His spirits seem to have lifted and all is well with the world.

He is still wearing his "military armor." He's been wearing it for months now. This is great because it cuts down on infection and helps with healing. Currently, the plan is to just watch his back. The skin is too fragile to do the wound vac yet ... it could cause more damage than good.

His nutrition is better. His breathing is excellent. He is wearing the red cap over his trache 24 hours a day now. Yippee! Praise God ... praise God ... praise God.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hey! I'm back in San Antonio. I rode back with Shea and Greg after the marathon on Sunday. Greg ran it in 3 hours and 13 minutes ... amazing! Then we rushed back to watch Celis and Kyser in a Christmas play ... too adorable!

The good news is that Chuck's trache may be removed in two weeks. This is beyond fantabulous! Thank you God! So, you can count this as five steps forward.

Now for the four steps back ... Chuck's hardware has been exposed. Yep, the trip was too much on his fragile skin. I keep reminding myself that Dr. D. said the j-peg would be worth it. So, I do not know what this means. I do not know what we will do to address this. I do not know how far back this pushes Chuck's progress. I DO know that God is in control. I DO know that this is the plan and we just have to continue walking this path. I DO know that God is using this to reach people. I DO know that I am heart broken. (Waaaah. Way to end on a positive note!)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

p.s. Greg and Shea just arrived in Dallas. Greg will be running his second of six marathons tomorrow morning.
Alrighty! We're good to go. Surgery went well, and Chuck is back at Baylor Specialty. Nutrition will start flowing soon, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief!

Now ... pray for those wounds to heal! AND thank God for another successful procedure!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Okay, Chuck's on deck for a 10:30 a.m. procedure. Apparently Dr. Tate does not anticipate many accidents tomorrow! This is great for all!!
Chuck will be on-call tomorrow for surgery. The surgeon who will perform the surgery may be able to squeeze Chuck in tomorrow if there are few car wrecks ... funny enough. Seriously, the surgeon is on-call for weekend emergency needs ... so, as long as few emergencies arise, Chuck can get in tomorrow. After midnight Chuck will not be able to eat (not a problem for him) and we wait. If this falls through, then surgery will most likely happen next Wednesday.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We have no news from the surgeon, yet. He may come see us tomorrow.

Chuck's lungs are doing great! He has started practicing with "the red cap." This is a ... uh, red cap ... that they put over Chuck's trache. He's doing four hours a day. During this time he is breathing normally through his nose and mouth. This is the final step before the trache comes out!

Today was a sick day ... Chuck took in very little food. He threw up most of what he took in. Oi.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Back is ok. There is still a thin ... thin area of tissue over Chuck's hardware. Whew - thank you, God! Talked with Dr. D. and she assures me the j-peg placement is necessary for wound healing. Thus, once we get the green light from Dr. Tate (surgeon), we will make the trek to Big Baylor once more. However, I feel better knowing that it is a must; that no matter what happens in the trip there and back, the j-peg will be worth it in the long run.

Pray the surgery happens this week and that all goes well!
Specifics on Chuck's situation: I think I've left out too much information. Here is what is going on. Chuck's wounds are not doing great. One big reason for this is nutrition. In fact, it's probably the #1 reason. He has tried and tried to consume 2,000 calories each day. He's making some progress and might be up to about 1,500 or so.

Now for the j-peg. The window for that closed one hour after it fell out. We're really not waiting on a window anymore. The whole procedure has to be repeated in order for Chuck to get a new j-peg. The issue is Chuck's back. Going across the street to have j-peg placed is risky for Chuck's back due to the current state of his wounds.

Currently, we are waiting to hear from the surgeon. It's kind of a big deal to go through for just a few hundred calories ... so Chuck and I are discussing alternatives. We have been informed that doing nothing is the most risky thing we can do. A less risky alternative is the j-peg. The least risky alternative is a nose tube (Chuck would cut off his hand before doing that. He'd cut off my hand before doing that.) Oi. The deal is, this whole nutrition thing may be short term ... his eating is picking up, he's getting stronger. We just don't know what we're gonna do.
Chuck will not be having surgery today. The issue is not Chuck's health or anything ... he's fine. It has to do with scheduling.

We are awaiting a damage report from wound care as Chuck spent four hours on a gurney yesterday. If his back took too much of a beating, we may have missed our opportunity for a j-peg. Please pray Chuck's back is alright AND that somehow, some way he can get the nurtrition he needs in order to heal (like by eating or something crazy like that).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Long story short ... no surgery. The long version is much more interesting, but I'm too worn out to detail it. Perhaps another time.

We'll try again tomorrow. Please pray for Chuck's wounds and for a flawless surgery.
The surgery is at 1:30 today. Remember the last surgery? It was waaay better than could have been anticipated ... please pray for similar results. Pray that the wait time is SHORT so that NO damage is done to Chuck's back. Pray that the surgery goes flawlessly and that Chuck heals quickly.

OK ... late-breaking news. The doctor just came in with concerns. In the last 24 hours Chuck's blood pressure has dropped significantly and his heart rate has increased. If this continues, the surgery will be cancelled as Chuck needs to be stable.
The surgery is today. The procedure should be quick and simple. It's Chuck's back that is the concern. Right now his wound is soft and open ... so moving him is not the best of ideas. However, it is necessary. Please pray that no hardware is exposed during this move!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Chuck's blood test came out great! His carbon dioxide level is no longer an issue, and the ventilator has been removed from his room!!!

We still do not know when the j-peg procedure will be done ... the sooner the better. Hopefully, tomorrow's the big day. I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for your continued prayers. Truly, Chuck has overcome so many obstacles ... he's come so far!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

All is well. Chuck has been steadily eating today and he looks really good! Please pray for nutrition. As his sister, Christy, mentioned, pray that his Picciuti genes kick in soon.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Chuck has decided to get another j-peg. He gave it all he had ... tried to eat, but just could not do it. Please pray that the trip to big Baylor and the surgery do not cause damage to his wounds. Pray, pray, pray! The surgery will take place either Monday or Tuesday.

Chuck's lungs are doing great. He gets to stay off the ventilator this weekend. He'll get a new blood gas on Monday. If it looks good (not too much carbon dioxide) then he may not have to go back on the ventilator!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Update on lungs: Chuck has been off the ventilator all day, every day for two weeks now. He goes back on the ventilator three nights a week. His lungs are growing stronger!

The ear-nose-throat doc came yesterday to take a look at his throat. All looks good. In order for Chuck's voice to be louder, his lungs must be stronger. It's basically an issue of air ... yep, Chuck needs more hot air!

Wounds are stable. The nutrition thing is a bit sketchy ... but Chuck is working really hard to eat enough! Please pray for nutritional needs to be met so wounds can heal!

Oh ... and physical therapy has resumed (yea!)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Much like the contentious Little Bunny Foo Foo, Chuck has been given three more chances. The good fairy is granting Chuck three days to prove he can consume enough calories without any j-peg support. He's giving it all he's got! Every thirty minutes he takes a sip of Ensure ... every thirty minutes. Pray Chuck gets a happy ending!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A funny thing happened ... not funny (ha ha), but funny (you have got to be kidding me!) Chuck's j-peg (the tube that goes into the intestine) came out. It came out and none of us noticed. It came out and was out long enough that the entry hole closed. Thus, no j-peg. Thus, no nutrition. In time, we wanted the j-peg out. Talk about a big, hard shove outta the nest! If Chuck is to get nutrition now ... it must be done the old-fashioned way. Oy. There is talk that he might not be able to get the nutrition he needs without the peg. This means another surgical procedure.

Pray Chuck can eat. Pray Chuck will eat. Pray Chuck will keep down the food he eats. Pray Chuck's body just absorbs nutrients ... from thin air if necessary!

Stacie is coming tomorrow to protect Chuck. It would really be a shame for him to have come so far ... just to be strangled by his wife in the end. Seriously, she's coming to give me some moral support. I've reached the point of diminishing returns. The more I stay with Chuck, the less of an impact I have ... well, less of a positive impact. Yet I lack the wherewithal to just leave. (Talk about over protective / codependent!)

You know, things really are pretty great. Chuck's body is stronger, his lungs continue to improve, and he has no infections! Nutrition schmutrition. Wounds schmounds. In all this, I praise God for his perfect plan.
I've been asking for prayers for Chuck's health ... it's time to pray that he survives ME. I just might strangle him if does not get better. He's doing the best he can. He feels miserable, yet he tries to please me (too sweet!) He tries to eat small portions ... only to throw them back up. I have this sick drive to keep pushing him ... I will not rest until he is well ... alas, I'm tired! So in my mind, he'd better step it up so we can get some rest. Fair? Not at all.

Today at chapel, the chaplain talked about self care ... for those of us looking after loved ones. "You cannot fill someone else's cup if yours is empty." Mine's bone dry. Thankfully, I have a trip home this week.

Pray for me ... that I know when to push and that I know when to gently comfort. I just might get myself arrested for assault with a high-protein drink, "Ma'am, step away from the Ensure."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Chuck thinks he has a bug ... whatever the case, today is day three with no eating. Well, that's misleading. He is consuming about 200 calories a day. In any case, his tube feeds have been increased from 30 ml/hr to 60 ml/ hr.

That's about it. We have rented The DaVinci Code ... it's exciting now that all the movies we missed this summer are coming out on DVD!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Chuck's back on tube feeds for 24 hour periods. He has not eaten in two days ... and there ain't nothing good about that. He had been getting tube feeds at night only ... and was inches away from being done with tube feeds and the j-peg completely. Oy.

We were hoping that Chuck could stay off the vent for the weekend, but his blood gas came back with his carbon dioxide too high. Thus, Chuck goes on the vent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

Finally, Chuck's physical therapy has been put on hold. He's been getting very light-headed, and his blood pressure plummets during p.t.

As you can tell, Chuck's body is in a slump. Please pray his nutrition and everything levels out.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! I praise God for the past 6 months ... so many blessings, so many lessons, so much love!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chuck's pre-albumin (protein level) was tested this morning. That stinker ... wouldn't you know it, his score came back 32.6 (normal being 20-40). I'm very happy for him ... but now I can't insist that he eat because he can just give me the ol' "Uh, my level is fine" spiel ... and he'll be right!

Despite the fact that the docs would like Chuck to stay, the care coordinator believes he will be leaving soon. Chuck no longer qualifies for specialty hospital status (this is good). He has no i.v.s; he has no infections; he's relatively healthy (all good!) The push out of the nest is coming from the insurance company. Here's the crazy thing, there is NO, as in ZERO, skilled nursing facilities in Dallas that accept ventilator patients. The closest one is in Celina (north of Denton ... in the middle of nowhere). So, we're contemplating coming back to San Antonio.

Please be praying ... I know we will wind up in the right place at the right time. Pray Chuck's wounds heal, that his nutrition improves (yeah, yeah pre-albumin schme-albumin), and that we feel peace about the next move.
We are staying put for a while (thank you, God). Actually, it's a mixed blessing. Chuck still needs ventilator support every now and again. Also, his wounds are in a state of decline. Thus, we stay at Baylor Specialty (which thrills me!) The only thing better would be going HOME ... with a short stint at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation.

The reason the wounds are in decline has a lot to do with Chuck's nutrition. Please pray he feels hungry. The boy just won't eat unless he's hungry. For me, this is a foreign concept! Alas, he just will not do it (I could take a lesson from the man). However, he really needs protein in order for his wounds to heal.

Hope you all are well! I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving ... so much to be thankful for!

Monday, November 20, 2006

We had a lovely, relaxed weekend. I would like to attribute the pleasantness of the weekend to my new electric blanket. You see, every Friday and Saturday night, I stay with Chuck. Upon sleeping in the arctic cold (which Chuck LOVES) I wake up with a bit of a back ache. It wasn't until I got an electric blanket that I realized the back ache was from the constant shivering! Saturday I woke up to blessed warmth and to relaxed muscles!

Saturday night I went to a harvest party at my cousin Kam's. Let me tell you, Kam is a GREAT hostess. Not only does she throw a great party, her wife, Teri is a chef. It was one of the BEST Thanksgiving spreads I've ever had. In addition, I got to see Kam's mom, Patty. I've always admired her! Patty's husband, Terry was there and I really enjoyed visiting with him. It's always a pleasure to spend time with people from HOME (Spearman ... God's land ... the Panhandle).

We will hear from Dr. DeLeon today ... regarding Chuck's move. She'll give the thumbs up or down. I'll let you know!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hmmm, the latest and greatest involves another move. We are awaiting an O.K. from Dr. DeLeon concerning moving to a skilled nursing facility ... or SNF (sniff). Chuck is doing great, but is not ready for the minimum requirement of three hours of physical activity. He's too involved to come home to get stronger (wounds, trach/ventilator issues). Thus, a SNF is the answer until he's strong enough for rehab. Please pray Chuck gets stronger soon!

Chuck's wounds are giving him some grief ... especially his pressure sore. Please pray they heal!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ross sent me an update on the Fix Up Chuck website. You have donated $6, 110 through Fix Up Chuck.

Thank you so much for the financial support. Please know, you have taken excellent care of us. Our needs right now involve prayer and encouragement: Pray Chuck's wounds heal; pray he can go to rehab soon; pray for protection while at rehab; pray Chuck can have the trach removed. Now go watch Greg run a marathon; go visit Fix Up Chuck and post something for Chuck; go buy some Fix Up Chuck gear (because Chuck gets such a kick out of the stuff!)

Thanks for taking care of us! We feel so blessed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wounds are looking better! Nothing new to report.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. This year the holiday feels very different. It feels like Thursday ... not a day set aside to be thankful. At first, this made me sad. Then I realized ... it's because everyday has become Thanksgiving for me. Truly. Everyday I spend time with my loved ones. Everyday I note my blessings ... they are impossible to miss. Here's just a sampling of what my life has been like the last six months:
  • My company has gone out of its way to ensure that I can keep my job ... even from afar.
  • Because my company has gone out of its way, my team members have gone out of there way to pick up my slack!
  • Through Fix Up Chuck, people have donated close to 3,000 dollars.
  • Our church family raised almost 8,000 dollars for us. ( Makes me feel very George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life.")
  • I have a comfy bed, excellent company, and great cooking thanks to Mom and Dad.
  • My brother-in-law, Greg, is out running marathons to raise money for Chuck.
  • Then there's Chuck ... every day with him is a gift from God.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chuck has made it 24 hours off the ventilator! He is still receiving 1/2 liter of oxygen, but is slowly being weaned to room oxygen. He's getting closer to vent free living.

Nothing much to report ... guess that's good!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chuck is doing well. The wound along his incision is stable. It continues to improve daily ... but oh so slowly. There is a new spot on his back that is being watched closely. It most likely developed during the fitting of his new brace ... it takes so little to cause damage to his skin! Please pray this area heals quickly. In addition, his pressure sore is rearing its ugly head again. He is now allowed only 15 minutes for meals. Previously he was allowed to sit up 30 minutes. Alas, this is a tiny step backwards. Due to such issues, wound care thinks Chuck is at high risk for skin breakdown were he to go to rehab. So, he'll most likely stay at Baylor Specialty for several more weeks. Please pray for healing!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Today is an ode to my parents.

It is my 36th birthday!! Several years ago, my dad started a great tradition. He calls me on my birthday and tells me the story of the day I was born. There was a snow storm and the wind was fierce (Panhandle fierce). (This is the theory behind why I'm always sooo cold.) Several hours into the delivery, the doctor came out to tell my dad there was a problem; I would drown if he proceeded with the delivery. Dr. Waide needed to push me up, flip me around, then pull me back out. (Easy for him to say!) Then voila: my parents had a very flat-faced baby!

When I was 16 (20 years ago!!!), my mom gave me a Bible. This is the dedication she wrote:
Go on your way in peace.
Be of good courage.
Hold fast that which is good.
Render to no man evil for evil.
Strengthen the fainthearted.
Support the weak.
Help the sick and cheer them.
Honor all men.
Love and serve the Lord.
May the blessings of God be upon you and remain with you forever.

My mother has been gone for 15 years now. I rediscovered this old Bible just this summer. It's wonderfully mysterious how my mother knew lo those many years ago how her charge would encourage and uphold me in the years to come.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Chuck is looking really good. He sustained a full day of celebration. My birthday is tomorrow ... however we celebrated it today. The celebration began this morning around 11:00 and wrapped up this evening around 8:00. Granted, Chuck slept through most of it, but family and friends came and went all day. He did very well and I had a blast! Thank you for a lovely day Tony, Heather, Christy, Jonah, Lindsey, Matthew, Mom, Dad, Tod and Nicole!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Looking good! Nothing much is new. Chuck's central line has been pulled, which is a huge step toward leaving the hospital. His wounds are looking stable. He's been fitted for a new brace. He is spending more and more time off the ventilator. Whew ... thank you, God.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Okay, the word around Baylor Specialty is that Chuck Picciuti may go to rehab next week!!! Can you believe it? Please pray everything falls into place.

Please pray a special blessing on Chuck as he is experiencing a great deal of physical discomfort. He is transitioning off pain medication, and things will get very uncomfortable before they get better. Pray he finds peace as he pushes through this next week or so. He's been so brave and so strong ... wish there were an easier way.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm back in San Antonio today. Stacie has faithfully made the trip, once again, to keep watch over Chuck. She has been such a blessing!

Nothing new to report ... Chuck's wounds are healing (yea); he spends most of the day off the ventilator (yea); and his body is getting stronger (yea)!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Two of our FAVORITE people came to visit us today. Paul Will-do Wilson and Michael Vonderha-ha-har brought great levity and great joy with them. It has been over five months since we've seen them ... since we've been with our church family. Not only did they delight us with their presence ... they brought presents! Our wonderful church family made a special donation ... to let us know they care. Wowwie, wow do we feel the love! God has been good to us ... to give us such support ... to give us such friends. Thanks Cibolo Creek! We love you so much. Truly, your gift is overwhelming ... your are amazingly generous. Thanks for sacrificing for us. Thanks for praying for us. Thanks for loving us. We cannot wait to get home so we can thank you in person!


Monday, November 06, 2006

On the wound care front, Chuck's back looks fantastic. However, his pressure sore looks questionable. Adjustments are being made in physical therapy to help with the pressure issue. Please pray Chuck is able to sit up and do therapy without compromising his skin.

He's working hard to get off the vent. Please pray toward this end.

Nausea is gone and appetite has returned ... praise God!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

And now back to Chuck:

Lots o' activity during the night ... as a result of yesterday's illness. I know many of you know what it's like to be full of apprehension and questions, waiting 12 hours for 5 minutes of the doctor's time. And then the concerns turn out to be nothing of any consequence. So this morning I was PLEASANTLY suprised when the charge nurse came in, sat with me for about 15 minutes and discussed what's going on with Chuck ... HUGE blessing. Ya see, he was puking up black stuff yesterday. As has become my way ... I rushed to the nurse ... what's up with the black puke?? She assured me it was bile and stomache acid ... or what the rest of the staff refers to as BLOOD. Now the words of my mentor rushed in to save me from another bout of "Jan ... what were you thinking? How could you let this happen to Chuck???" She always told me, "You can't know what you don't know."

Good news, if Chuck is indeed bleeding somewhere, it's a slow leak. He's been x-rayed and tested to rule in or out possible causes of the black puke. The results show no immediate danger. Also - all eyes are on him now, looking for any signs of distress.

More good news, the puking has stopped. Please pray all is well!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Second verse, same as the first! Chuck's getting a new bed as his current one is broken. The cushions at the foot will not inflate ... nothing major. His wound is not looking as well as expected ... Dr. DeLeon is coming to check on it tomorrow. Please pray it heals!

Chuck's been on t-bar all day. He's steadily upping his time off the ventilator.

We got a visit last night from the New Jersey Tony Picciuti. It was GREAT. He brought entertainment (DVDs) ... and love from the New Jersey Picciutis.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New bed, new life. Previously Chuck was like a turtle on his back. Now he can push a button to sit up in bed. The stability of the bed allows him to reach for his tray ... to reach for anything he may need. Before Chuck was completely dependent upon the kindness of others.

His wound still looks good. It will be watched closely these next few days .... Issues may arise. Then again, they may not! Please pray Chuck's wound remains stable.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

No tricks for Chuck ... he definitely gets a treat ... no more sand pit! His new bed arrives tonight. Hopefully, the stability of a "regular" bed will bring more comfort. He will still be on a special bed. This one will be an airflow bed ... minus the sand. Before much longer, he will be allowed to sit on the edge of his new bed ... something that is impossible with the sand pit. Don't get me wrong, I praise God for the sand pit ... it has done wonders for Chuck's wound. We are simply ready to be done with it!

We had trick or treaters this morning! There is a specialty hospital across the street that is for children. The ones who were able came over to show off their adorable costumes. It was a blast ... made Chuck and I feel like we were back at camp.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Chuck had a wonderfully uneventful day. Wound care came and his back is looking good. He has two areas of "stable eschar." Naturally I asked, "What's that???" Stable eschar is a scab that is not oozing, seeping, nor showing signs of redness. It means something healthy is growing underneath!! We expect that tomorrow Chuck will get a new bed ... praise God. He is so ready to leave the sand pit!

Chuck has been on the ventilator long enough that he must start over again with the weaning. He was off the ventilator for one hour today and then grew weary. Pray his lungs grow strong quickly. Strike that ... pray that his lungs grow strong ... period.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Our first sleepover was a huge success! It was tons o' fun and gave me an inside view of hospital night life. It was surreal watching people who clearly knew Chuck but not me as they interacted with him. He sooo does not need me! The nurses and staff adore him and are soooo good to him. When he uses the nurse button during the day ... I always make the request. At night, it's just him ... with no voice. However, the night desk person would reassure Chuck each time he pushed the nurse button, "Don't worry Chuck, I'm sending someone to your room ...." It was touching to obersve the staff adoringly treat Chuck with such tender, loving care.

Lindsey and Matthew came up to visit their Uncle Chuckie today. It was Lindsey's first time to see him. She was a bit timid, but handled it all very well! What can I say, she's advanced for her age. Matthew showed off his beefy thighs and mohawk hairdo ... too cute. I cannot believe his is already three months old!

Chuck's still on the ventilator. His carbon dioxide levels are a bit high. He may be fighting off some pneumonia. Please pray for healthy lungs and for another miraculous transition off the ventilator.

His back looks GREAT ... yes GREAT! I am just so thrilled and so thankful. Thank you God for the wound care team!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Chuck's wound is doing great ... thank you, God!

As for his lungs ... there's too much carbon dioxide in his blood. To decrease the level, he must stay on the ventilator for a while. We expect that he will be off the ventilator by Monday. Please pray for a speedy transistion back to vent-free breathing.

Okay, we are LOVING Chuck's private room ... it's the party room. People stop by all day to say hi (and to get some Halloween candy). However, once we close the door ... it's peaceful and sealed off from the noise in the hospital! THANK YOU, GOD.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chuck has made it to the big time ... a single room! We're loving it. Saturday, we're having a sleep over ... Hugh Laurie is hosting Saturday Night Live ... can't wait.

Tomorrow Chuck will go back to the t-bar. If he makes it 24 hours, he'll go back to either a speaking valve or a cap. Chuck is still struggling to speak, so Dr. Brancaccio will have an ear-nose-threat doctor take a look down his throat. He's had his trache so long, scar tissue may have grown around the trache. It can "easily" be corrected surgically.

Chuck has become the wound care mascot, and we couldn't be happier! Someone from the team comes daily to check on him. If he does well off the vent, Chuck will be moved downstairs to the wound care ward. This way, the team can keep an even closer eye on him.

For all these blessings and all those to come ... I praise God!
Sorry there was no post yesterday. I was without internet while at the hospital (gasp!) It was a long and exhausting day for the two of us ... thus, no post!

Wonder of wonders, Chuck's back is looking really good. I had grown accustomed to comments such as "We've done all we can do. Let's just hope for the best ..." and such. Now I'm hearing things like, "Wow, it's looking good. See all this new growth ... see this healthy, pink area ..." Most of Chuck's sutures have been removed, and everything is holding! He may be moved out of the sand bed next week.

Now for the speed bump ... Chuck was given a dose of two medications that suppressed his respitory function ... thus, back to the ventilator for a couple of days. This is nothing to worry about ... just a slight pause in the steady push forward.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mindy mentioned to me ... "God does not always work quickly, but sometimes he moves suddenly." All of this sudden movement has left me breathless! Today, Chuck's trache was capped. The trache is not being used at all. They will leave it in for several days as a safety precaution. However, the boy is fully breathing on his own! He still gets a bit of oxygen through his nose, but that will not last for much longer.

Wound care came bright and early to check out Chuck's back. It is fine ... it is better than fine ... it is beautiful. I took a look at it today, and the rawness and bleeding have disasppeared. It does indeed look beautiful. Keep praying for the wound to heal ... it's getting there!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chuck had a busy day! First, physical therapy increased to 15 minutes. Second, Dr. DeLeon removed some of Chuck's sutures. She thinks the wound looks good. She also gave him the go-ahead to sit up 30 minutes for meals ... rather than the 15 minutes previously prescribed. If all looks good on Wednesday, she will remove more sutures. If Chuck's back looks good one week from now, he might get a new bed ... no more sand bed. A new bed means easy transfers ... which means he can try sitting in his wheelchair! Finally, Dr. Brancaccio gave us an idea of the next step with the lungs. Chuck's trache will be capped, and he will breathe through his nose and mouth. If that goes well, the trache comes out. I praise God for all of these wonderous events!

Now, for prayer request ... Chuck's back looked raw after dinner (the first 30-minute meal session). Please pray this is not a setback ... that his wound heals. Wound care will take a look at his back in the morning to make sure all is well. Please pray for healing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chuck is a miracle to behold. I praise God every time I look at Chuck ... every time I hear his voice.

Chuck has now ditched the pod. He's in a double room and it is tiny! However, in the pod, the lights were on all the time. In his new room, it gets nice and dark at night. I hope he'll sleep more soundly now.

He has made it five full days ... vent free! Praise God for all the doctors, all the nurses, all the therapists, all the technology, all the people who have lovingly helped Chuck.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Stacie has nothing but good news. Hmmm, perhaps I should stay away more often? Chuck's still breathing on his own ... thank you God! Can you believe the things we take for granted?? Also, the wound care team was very pleased with Chuck's wounds.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chuck is still off the ventilator! He may be moving out of the pod (the high observation area) tomorrow. That's about it for updates.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chuck has gone 58 hours and 15 minutes off the ventilator ... not that I'm counting or anything. He's doing super. The wound is stable. There's talk of him moving out of the pod and into a regular room!

I will be in San Antonio for the next two days. Stacie will be here to make sure all runs smoothly ... and that Chuck doesn't have to wait too long for anything!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Chuck's a miracle! God has done amazing things through my amazingly resilient husband. Tonight Chuck got a speaking valve. It takes a great deal of energy for him to speak ... and his voice is very soft ... but he's talking!

God has been so good to us!
Praise God!!!! Chuck never went back on the ventilator last night! When I left, it had been 8 hours. I came in this morning and Chuck was on the t-bar. I asked what time he started ... so I could keep an accurate record of progress. He never stopped ... he was still on from the day before! He has gone 24 hours off the ventilator!!! Thank you God ... thank you God! Lots of prayers of thanksgiving to our mighty God!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Clarification ... the t-bar means going off the ventilator. It means Chuck is breathing on his own. When I left tonight, he'd been off for 8 hours. We are expecting that he'll get to speak sometime this week.

The wound is holding steady ... no decline! Thank you for your prayers. We feel so blessed. Keep it up ... pray, pray, pray.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New record is now 9 hours, 30 minutes! Chuck is just doing great. His wound is stable. He's eating more and more. He's even willing to eat some junk food every now and then!

I praise God for each step ... please continue to pray for healing.
New record! Chuck went 7 hours and 45 minutes off the ventilator.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Another good day! I did not get up to the hospital until noon. Chuck started the day kinda rough. By 3:00, he went on the t-bar and was on it seven hours later when I left. They will take him off sometime during the night ... as they let him "rest" at night. I can't wait to find out how long he went. Once Chuck is consistent with the t-bar, he will get a smaller trache ... which will allow him to speak!

Thanks for your prayers. Please continue to pray for healing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Chuck had a super day ... thank you God! He went 7.5 hours off the ventilator. Also, he got to do some physical therapy. AND ... his wound is stable! It still has dark areas around the incision, but the areas have not grown darker (very good!) Please continue to pray for Chuck's body to grow strong and heal!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chuck had a "sick" day = no t-bar and tons o' sleeping. As is his way, he's perking up now that it's early evening.

Aside from feeling sick, Chuck's stable today.
Reknitting Chuck ... that's what a lovely angel, Tiffany, prayed for him today. I met Tiffany this morning at the chapel at Big Baylor. I thought she was crying as she was praying ... so I went over to touch her ... to pray with her. Alas ... no tears. (I'm starting to hear things!)She is a chaplain and asked if I needed prayer ... heck yeah! Her prayer, "Lord, you knit Chuck together in his mother's womb. We pray you reknit him together now." Yep ... that's perfect!

Tiffany was the first blessing of the day. The second was discovering espresso shots. Yep ... tiny shots that pack a punch. I took a double! Look out caffeine overload!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Alrighty ... good-ish day. First, Chuck did five hours off the ventilator ... in a row!

Next, his wound is "stable." I praise God for that! Please oh please pray that this wound heals with no more break down. Wound care came today, and I asked what the hope is for the wound ... it is that healthy skin grows underneath the dead skin. As the dead skin sloughs off, new skin will be waiting below the surface. Please pray that this is what happens!

Now for the "ish" part, Chuck's blood count is low again. Thankfully, he is not awaiting surgery this time. He will be given two bags o' blood.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Oh my beloved enigma, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in a riddle! Chuck has duped us all once again. The P.I.C.C. line was indeed growing bacteria ... two types to be exact ... neither of which was the type found in his bloodstream! That man! In any case, the appropriate antibiotic has been started to combat the newly discovered bacteria. The bacteria found in his bloodstream may have been a fluke ... a bateria from the line used to draw the blood ... or some such thing.

Lungs are looking good. Chuck's taking a "breather" from 3.5 hours off the ventilator. He'll go back off later today.

Please continue to pray for Chuck's wound. Heal, heal, heal!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Chuck is continuing to make strides on t-bar (off the ventilator). Each day since last Thursday, he has increased his time. Today, he will most likely go about five hours.

Another amazing feat ... Chuck is eating more and more. Not only is he eating more, he's keeping it down!

Now for the stinker ... his wound is breaking down again ... same old area. Please pray for healing ... it the spot right in the center of his upper back. Wound care is on it ... the skin is just starting to break down ... and this could go either way (heal or back to surgery)!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chuck is really getting strong. He told me he feels a little better every day. This is stupendous news!

He has been steadily increasing his time off the ventilator. Today, he was off for 4.5 hours.

Chuck definitely has a staph infection ... but the source has yet to be discovered. Today the nurse removed his P.I.C.C. line (a possible source). The only other source could be from his wounds. Please pray Chuck's body heals quickly from the infection.

I praise God for Chuck's amazing improvements.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Wound care does it again! Alrighty folks, Chuck is no longer wearing a regulation, hospital gown. No siree ... he is wearing a shirt made from 99.9% pure silver thread. No, he does not look like a pimp. The shirt looks like an ordinary t-shirt. It's a greenish-brown color. The history of the shirt is very interesting ... it is used primarily in the military. Soldiers wear the shirts under their clothes. There are many reasons why ... the benefits of silver for fighting infection and odor. If a soldier is shot and unable to be treated for days ... the silver serves as an immediate defense against infection! Go to to read more about the shirt. Amazing!

Darrin, Corey, and Jaime got up at 6:00 this morning. Their goal for the day was to deliver sweet tea from Bill Miller's to Chuck. Thus, they made the 5.5 hour-drive to Dallas . After a brief visit, they loaded back into Darrin's truck for the return trip home ... another mere 5.5 hours. Now, I've been married to Chuck long enough to know ... you don't mess with a good story. So, when the guys turned down my offer of a place to stay for the night, I knew ... this will become the "remember when we drove to Dallas to take Chuck some tea" story. God love them!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Report from yesterday evening:

Chuck's lungs are stable = no pneumonia. One of the cultures drawn from Chuck's blood is growing a bacteria. Perhaps today they will be able to identify the bacteria and treat it with the appropriate antibiotic.

Chuck did two t-bar trials yesterday ... not too shabby for getting back to it ... kinda like returning to the gym after a month off.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Report from Stacie:

Chuck is running a fever today, but feels fine. He did a t-bar trial this morning and will try another one later today.

Please pray for Chuck's body to beat whatever it is fighting!

I am in San Antonio until Saturday morning, so my reports will be brief.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

All looks well-ish. All therapists and doctors have seen and assessed Chuck. He's on wound watch for the next week, which means light activity ... no brace ... confined to the sand bed. His pressure sores look stupendous ... it won't be long now before they are resolved. Whew ... now for the wound and lungs. Heal, Chuck, heal!
Chuck's off and limping ... he's running a fever and feeling sick. He most likely has an infection ... perhaps pneumonia? Aside from that, we are happy to be back at BSH.

Please pray for healing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Thank you for your prayers. Chuck made it back to BSH safe and somewhat sound. Blessedly, he does not even remember the move!

And now ... for the healing to begin!!!
It's official ... we're moving today at noon. Please pray for a gentle move ... I've asked for Chuck's back to be padded for the trip.

Just look at what God's done ... flawless surgery, no complications. Thank you GOD! Please continue to pray for healing.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Okay, looks like tomorrow is transfer day. Alas, nothing is for certain. Good news, Chuck looks great. He's very sleepy though ... they upped his pain medication temporarily.

Dr. Young should be in for a visit today. She'll give the final okay for transfer, I believe. Please be praying for an opening at Baylor Specialty ... and that all goes well for the transfer.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nothing new to report ... which is excellent news. Chuck's lungs are stable (yea God). Everything's still on track for a move back to BSH tomorrow.

It's OCTOBER!!! (this just happens to be my FAVORITE month)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chuck is doing GREAT. I praise God for Chuck's amazing recovery from this past surgery ... no complications, no pneumonia, no swelling. It's really fun to watch God work. Please continue to pray for Chuck's healing.

Looks like Monday is transfer day. If all continues to go well, Chuck will be back at Baylor Specialty on Monday ... ready to begin rehab. Yep, I'm frightened ... will I ever learn to trust God? He just performed an amazing feat ... and I'm still worried. Please pray Chuck's wound stays CLOSED ... that no infection occurs ... that his lungs get stronger.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dictation from the man:

"Thanks for your words of encouragment. The pictures have been great. Jan reads the blog and your comments to me almost every day. It really means a lot."
Check out the new features on Ross has done an incredible job with the site.

For all you blogger types, can you help me post the site on my blog? I've seen it done on other blogs; I've read the directions for how to do it ... alas, they make no sense to me. Help.
Looks like a "good" day. Chuck feels pretty good, and looks great. He is back to full diet ... yippee!

Eric came to look at Chuck's back and is very, very pleased. Thank you God!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

End o' the day:

After a mere 22 hours of trying ... asking ... begging, Chuck has been allowed food once more. Now, that wasn't so hard@#!

Chuck feels a tad bit better ... most likely because he can have popsicles again. As we all have come to realize, popsicles make everything more bearable!

As for his pressure wounds, the ischial (bootie) wounds are still on the heal ... looking better each time I see them. However, the chest wound did reopen a tiny bit during the surgery ... not nearly as bad as expected. After all, the surgery was only three hours. The wound on his chest is being treated.
Morning update:

Dr. Young came to look at the wound. It is lovely! She's very pleased. I asked if it looks different to her from the other times (as it has almost always looked good right after surgery). She said it definitely looks thicker ... she can no longer see the contours of the hardware. Whew! And here's yet another plug for wound care at BSH ... Dr. Young is very impressed with the work you did on Chuck's pressure sores! Thank you Dr. DeLeon, Michelle, Tammy, Betty, Adora, and Dave!

Nutrition has stopped. Dang! Chuck got nauseous yesterday evening ... not food related. However, tube feedings and all eating have stopped. I've been working since 8 p.m. to get them restarted.

Chuck's looking a little rough right now. He's having pain in his shoulder ... literally, a pulled muscle. He's just looking "sickly" today. Please pray for a quick return to health!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Official update ... with real info from a real doctor: Chuck looks good! His lungs are stable. His cultures show no infection. He is able to have a full diet once again.

I missed the visit from Dr. Shelokov's office. He changed the dressing on Chuck's back this morning. Alas, I slept in late and missed the update! Hopefully I'll have something to report on his wound tomorrow.
I've not talked to any doctors this morning concerning Chuck. However, here is my laywoman's take on him. He's really bouncing back well from the surgery. He says he feels great ... he never feels great after surgery. His left shoulder is bothering him ... most likely because of the movement of the muscle to cover his wound. Chuck ate SIX popsicles yesterday ... so his appetite is good. Once he passes his swallow test later today, he'll be cleared for a full-diet again. I believe Chuck's lungs are holding steady = no pneumonia. Alas, I'll give you the official word after talking to the docs.

We anticipate staying here until early next week. Then, it's back to Baylor Specialty for weaning from the ventilator. We both expect his recovery to go much better this time!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

p.s. Did I mention the surgery took only three hours????!!!
God is sooo good. Thank you so much for praying ... as a friend of mine commented "Heaven must have been resounding with prayers for Chuck." Thank you, thank you!

As was prayed, the surgery was flawless and better than anyone anticipated! Thank you, God.

The surgery was a two-parter. Part one: removing and replacing the rods. Chuck's spine has three segments of fusion: two rods at the top, two in the middle, and two in the lower back. It was the middle two that caused so much grief. It is the area where Chuck's back curves the most. So, Dr. Shelokov removed the two middle rods and replaced them with one thinner rod.

Part two: cleaning and closing the wound. First of all, thank you wound care team!!!! Dr. Shelokov was certain that the wound would be filled with infection ... NOPE! The wound was very, very clean. In fact, the wound was so clean and the skin so healthy that no grafts were needed! Dr. Young used the left latissmus muscle, (left shoulder blade) and pulled it a little to the right. She was able to cover the wound and stich him up. She was astounded at how easy it was to close Chuck's back. Apparently, it's often a struggle ... pulling and stretching to cover everything inside! Not this time, thank you GOD!

I do not know why I'm so amazed at how well this surgery went . Yea God ... I praise you, I praise you.

Next step, recover from surgery. Chuck will be weak for a while ... and may develop pneumonia. Please pray for a quick and full recovery. I love all of you so much!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Details of God's amazing faithfulness later. Know this, Chuck's surgery was flawless ... completed in three hours ... remarkable! He's resting in his room, and I'm off to see him.

Thank you GOD!
Morning update:

Everything is going well thus far. Blessedly, Chuck has been asleep all morning = no anxiety and no hunger. Afternoon surgeries stink ... going all day without food! God, in his kindness, blessed Chuck with drugs and sleep.

Mindy, Nicole, and Laura have driven up to stay with me during the surgery. What a HUGE blessing. Big praise to God for that one ... each one had to make sacrifices in order to be here ... I'm so blessed by dear friends.

Please pray for a flawless operation ... one that goes better than anyone could imagine. May God be glorified in all that occurs today.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Here's the scoop!

The surgery will last about 6 hours. It begins at 2:30. Dr. Shelokov will cut out the rod that is currently protruding through Chuck's skin. He will replace the rod with something smaller, slimmer, "low profile" as he referred to it. His portion of the surgery will take from 1.5 hours to 3 hours (praying for 1.5). Then Dr. Young will do the skin graft. Please pray she is able to find an adequate supply of muscle and skin ... she's scoped out Chuck's body and has a few ideas. Her portion will take at least 2.5 hours. Please pray for a successful surgery.

It has been like a homecoming ... being back at Baylor Plano. Though we did not want to return for surgery, the reception has been a blessing. Everyone has been so kind and supportive ... people stopping by the room just to say, "Hi Chuck. We've missed you!" Everyone who has seen Chuck thinks he looks great ... a little heavier, a little stronger, and much more animated.

Pray requests: calm nerves for Chuck. He's been very anxious ... the transfer, the "big" surgery. Pray that the surgery goes smoothly and quickly. Pray no pressure sores develop on Chuck's torso during the surgery. Pray for Chuck's strength of body, mind, and spirit ... ditto for me! I love you all! I praise God for his faithfulness through this amazing journey.
We've moved! The transfer, though a surprise, went smoothly. Thankfully, Mom and Christy were up visiting when we got the news, "He's going today."

Some things are new ... as is the way at a different hospital. Though I've not talked to a doctor yet to get the scoop, Chuck is in contact isolation. This means we have to gown and glove up to go into his room ... because of psuedomonas.

We are awaiting the visit with Dr. Shelokov and Dr. Young to get the scoop on the surgery. Please be praying!

I praise God for a great transfer! Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

And the fun begins ... transferring hospitals is always an adventure. Even when Chuck transferred just across the street to Big Baylor for surgery, there was confusion and chaos. It has to do with "the chart." I've seen it from both ends now ... the hospital that we leave takes great care in preparing "the chart" and making sure that it is clear. However, upon arriving at the new destination, "the chart" makes no sense. I'm positive it has to do with different vocabularies and procedures. In any case, upon learning of the transfer, I immediately began to sweat. When we went from Baylor Plano to Baylor Specialty, Chuck had to go from a full-liquid diet to ice chips only ... as "the chart" did not clearly indicate Chuck could have liquids. Chuck's ice-chip-diet lasted for a week. Well ... Chuck has finally graduated to solid food, and it breaks my heart that he may get knocked back down to ice chips. No ... it does not matter if I insist on regular food ... policy rules.

BIG praise today ... wound-care has come through once again. You see, I've established quite the unhealthy relationship with the wound-vac ... and can't seem to breathe when it is turned off ... or when Chuck is unattached to it. To me ... the wound-vac is life. For a typical tranfer, the wound-vac must stay behind ... yep, Chuck would be vac-less for hours ... maybe even days. Wound-care has organized the transfer so that Chuck's vac goes with him! You have no idea what a blessing this is ... it is a special gift and we are so grateful!

Looks like tranfer will take place on Sunday ... maybe Saturday, but most likely Sunday. Please pray "the chart" makes sense once it arrives at Baylor Plano. I've watched ... notes are being carefully prepared ... please pray everything lines up perfectly.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chuck has received clearance ... and the date has been set. Surgery is Monday at 2:30. Chuck transfers back to the Plano hospital, where the surgery will occur, Saturday morning. Once Chuck is back at the Plano hospital, Dr. Young and Dr. Shelokov will get a good look at his back and make their game plan. Currently I know no details about the surgery. Please pray for SUCCESS.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chuck got to eat one "real" meal today. It was a test ... to see how he'd handle it. I told him, "Sky's the limit. I'll go anywhere. I'll get anything." His request? Soup, salad, and breadsticks from Olive Garden. Go figure. He was able to swallow the food with no problem. However, keeping it down was another matter.

Once a week wound-care takes pictures of Chuck's back. I find it easier to look at the pictures that to look at Chuck's back. Wierd? In any case, I was a little shocked to see the picture of Chuck's back taken on Monday. Again, less and less necrotic (dead) skin. This is great. But more and more hardware is showing. It seems the hardware was covered by necrotic skin. As the skin sloughs off, more hardware is exposed. I can see an entire rod ... not good. Wound-care is busting its backside to take care of Chuck's back. They've started to irrigate it with antibiotic. An I.V. line feeds antibiotic to his back, quite literally washing the wound. Then, the wound vac sucks up the fluid. The I.V. and the wound-vac are timed to work hand-in-hand. Amazing!

We are awaiting clearance for surgery. Please be praying. This next surgery might be a whopper ... hardware may be replaced. Please pray for strength for Chuck, for healing, for steady hands, for a successful procedure. Please pray we make it to the operating room soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Update from Stacie:

Stacie has not seen Chuck in a few weeks, which provides me with a better picture of how Chuck is progressing. I've suspected that he is doing very well. He's much more interested in life outside the hospital ... he has even provided me with some valuable guidance! Stacie has confirmed my suspicions. She thinks Chuck is much more Chuck-like. Whew!

Okay, start praying for health, health, health. Chuck cannot get clearance for the surgery to close his wound. His lungs are good to go. His gut is not. He's been vomiting for almost two weeks now ... and it has not let up. Please pray his gut issues are resolved. Please pray his wound holds steady until he can get to the operating room. While the skin around the wound looks good and the dead skin is sloughing off ... there tends to be less and less skin. This means more and more hardware is exposed. Pray, pray, pray!

I've loved returning to work! It has been great catching up with everyone. Now, if I could only remember what it is that I do for a living. Steady as she goes, I suppose! I'm returning to Dallas tonight ... work in hand. This should be an exciting change for me and Chuck. I pray we both adjust well.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Nothing new to report. Chuck is having another nauseous day ... steady as she goes. Aside from that, his lung x-ray looks clear (excellent)!

I begin work on Monday. What a HUGE, huge, huge blessing. My company ... my friends, are bending over backwards to make sure I am able to work from Dallas. Please praise God for Jean, Terry, Lynn, Bob-O, Brooke, Jennifer, Suzanne, Sally ... and all my friends at Harcourt. I feel so blessed ... such a gift!
Check out our wedding pics at

Friday, September 15, 2006

Today was a fantastic day! Chuck was feeling well enough to be active most of the day. He threw up a couple of times, which is a huge improvement over continuous vomiting.

Dr. Shelokov called Baylor Specialty yesterday to see if Chuck was cleared for surgery. Shelokov wanted to do surgery on Monday. Alas, it will be at least a couple of weeks before Chuck is ready. I humbly feel two weeks will be perfect ... it will give the skin graft enough time to do its thang, and it will give Chuck's lungs time to heal. Please be praying toward this end.

Today was wound-care day. Chuck's pressure sores look fantastic. As with the other issues mentioned earlier, I think two weeks will do wonders for the healing of the sores. They should be really close to resolution by then. As they stand now, one has resolved and two remain. The incision site is a tough call. It looks bad ... but it looks better. Does that make any sense? It's disturbing to see the hardware ... but the improvement in the skin is encouraging.

Please pray for protection for Chuck. His back is very vulnerable to infection. His lungs are very vulnerable. Shoot, Chuck's whole system is very vulvernable. Please pray for protection from infection and for healing.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

First things first ... Survivor starts tonight! Chuck and I are so excited. It will be sorta like being home ... I popped popcorn and everything. Second, Chuck LOVES the Fix Up Chuck t-shirts. He is so proud of them. I wear one almost everyday, and it always makes him smile. He's continually inviting doctors, nurses, and therapists to visit the site.

Okay, now down to business. Chuck's running a fever again. Everything is being cultured. Please pray for healing from infection! Also, he's still very nauseous. Please pray his stomach calms down. He's been coughing a lot today. The respitory therapists says something in his chest is breaking up ... this is a good thing! Everything else seems stable. I praise God for daily improvements and daily encouragements.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chuck seems better today. He is no longer running a fever, and has started a new anti-nausea medicine that seems to help greatly! He still feels "yucky," but at least he's moving in the right direction.

Today's wound-care visit was very interesting. To help Chuck's skin generate new growth, neo-natal foreskins were applied to his spinal wound. Yep ... you read right. They take the discarded foreskins from circumcised babies and use them to help wounds heal. Can you believe it? I had no idea, so thanks to all you parents who circumcised your baby boys! The foreskins make a skin construct. As well as I can tell, a skin construct is simply artificial skin. The belief is that newborn skin cells can morph into any kind of skin cell. Thus, the foreskins will become skin for Chuck's back.

I praise God for modern medicine ... for knowledgeable doctors, for organ donations, for new discoveries. Please continue to pray for Chuck to heal: shingles, skin growth, wounds, lungs.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new. Chuck has defeated the pseudomonas bacteria... thank you God! It seems he now has shingles. While this stinks, it's good to have some answers: why the fevers, why the "sickliness"? Whew. He has started medication for the shingles. Thanks for your prayers concerning the pseudomonas, apparently that is nasty, nasty stuff. I praise God for yet another day of healing!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Chuck got to meet his new nephew, Matthew, yesterday! It was a surprise visit, which made it even more special. It was a real lift for Uncle Chuckie.

Let's see, Chuck is still feeling sickly. This sickly business gets in the way of his therapies. He feels awful, so is not up for respitory therapy. At the moment, I am in charge of his physical and occupational therapy ... but he's not up for those either. Please pray he feels better soon! No, we do not know exactly why he feels poorly, nor what is causing the fever and nausea (cultures are being examined as you read this). Just pray he gets better sooooon.

Today was wound-care day (Mon, Weds, Fri). While I'm always thrilled to have the team come visit Chuck (and harass him ... which he loves), I feel apprehensive about what they may find under his bandages. Will it be good news or bad news? Today it was gooooood news. Yea! I praise God for healing Chuck's wounds! Let me be more specific, I praise God for using the wound-care team to heal Chuck's wounds. I praise God for the wound-care team!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A few more things:
  • Today is Mom and Dad's 39th anniversary!!!
  • Chuck has declared his new profession to be that of a semi-retired poker player.
  • My new profession is that of a poet.
Chuck has had a pretty good weekend. It never ceases to amaze me - the differences in him at night versus the day. Chuck is a night owl. When we have date night (only once a week - as I am a morning person), he is so alert, so funny, so much stronger physically. It is a joy to see him at night ... if only I could function past 5 pm!!!

Please be praying for the following:

  • Overall health: Chuck has run a low-grade fever for over a week now. Also, he has been sick to his stomach. He vomits most of what he drinks and eats. Please pray he gets better soon! Chuck does not feel up to coming off the ventilator. This drastically slows down his progress.
  • Lungs: Chuck has pnuemonia. The bacteria is called pseudomonas ... and apparently it is u-g-l-y. It can be drug-resistant ... which means no antibiotics will work to make him better. Please pray for super-natural healing. Most likely, it is this nasty bug that has led to the fevers and nausea. Chuck cannot have plastic surgery until his lungs are better. Chuck's lungs may not get better until he is able to sit up ... which he cannot do until his incision wound heals ... which will require plastic surgery for a quick fix or the wound vac for a loooooong fix. It's a crazy cycle!
  • Wounds: They are healing, healing, healing. His pressure sores are really close to "resolving." Once they are resolved, we HOPE Chuck will be able to do more therapies ... to sit up more. However, there is the issue of his incision wound. Yes, it is looking better. The wound vac is doing its thang! However, it will take months and months of the wound vac doing its thang for the incision to actually close. I do not know how the wound-care team feels about Chuck doing therapy with the open wound on his back.
  • Spirit: A+. Aside from feeling pukey ... Chuck's very alert ... and very Chuck-like.

Please pray Chuck is healed. I am asking God for a miracle. I am asking for all of Chuck's health issues to be resolved. Please join me in praying for Chuck's body to mend completely ... and for his spirit to find peace and comfort in God.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Before reading about my morning ... know there is a happy ending. Thank you, Mechelle. I am so glad you were here today.

There's a song from the musical, The Producers, that goes something like this: "Unhaaappy, unhaaappy, veeeeeery unhaaappy. Unhaaappy, unhaaappy, very very very very very very very unhaaappy." That described me this morning. I went to the store to get an anniversary card for Chuck's parents. I just started crying ... and couldn't stop. I cried as I picked out the card, I cried on the way to the checkout line, I cried as I picked out a delicious bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper, I cried while standing behind people in the checkout line. I stopped crying long enough to answer the cashier's question, "Oh, I'm fine, thanks." I cried my way out to the car. I put my head down on the steering wheel and cried a little more. Sometimes you just have to cry ... well maybe not you, but apparently I do.

Blessedly, the day picked up from there. Obviously I was unhaaappy and I let God know about it. I had a few choice remarks about how He has been handling things. Undeservedly, He sent an angel in response ... Mechelle ... friend for 35 years. I was too tired, too weak, too discouraged to pray. I could not ask God to heal Chuck, not again, not one more time ... no way ... no. Sometimes you just need someone to pray for you ... to put their hands on you and say the words that you cannot. Mechelle came up to the hospital and prayed her heart out. She prayed absolutely everything that was on my heart ... without any input from me. How ... how did she know? The Holy Spirit, of course ... the one connection all believers share ... the one voice that speaks to us all ... that can tell us exactly how to minister to someone else's broken heart. Thank you God! Thank you God for Mechelle ... thank you for letting me be ANGRY with you ... thank you for the Holy Spirit, and for answering my anger with a gentle, loving response. Yes, yes, you were right God ... you know what you're doing.

I hope you can laugh upon reading this ... can laugh at how quickly I can go from the depths of despair to utter peace. (Janet ... I know you're laughing at this). I just wanted to share how thankful I am that God knows me ... the real me ... that He knows my heart and patiently endures my tantrums ... that He cries when my heart breaks ... that He lovingly goes before me, making sure the path is safe ... and patiently waits for my heart to submit. Once my heart goes ... the peace floods me ... the peace that passes all my simple, human understanding.

Chuck? He's fine.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Chuck's wounds are looking really great! The entire wound-care team came to oooh and ahhh over him today. I don't think I've mentioned what a blessing they are. First of all, they do amazing things with his wounds. Second, and just as important, they are full of fun ... strange enough. They are always laughing, making jokes, making fun of each other, and spreading as much joy as possible. I thank God for them!

Please pray for Chuck's lungs to heal. He's having quite a struggle with the latest "bug." Pray fervently! Please continue to pray for his wounds to heal. His plastic surgery is on hold until his lungs are more stable.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

News from the front line:
  • Cardio-pulmonary: I will use my layman terms and understanding to describe current concerns. Chuck went for an echocardiogram today to check for the following: that the percentage of fluid Chuck's heart is pumping out is adequate. If the heart is pumping out too little, the fluid could be backing up into his lungs. Whew ... that wasn't too hard.
  • Pneumonia: a culture came back positive for a new bacteria (a few days ago). A new antibiotic to fight the pneumonia was started three days ago.
  • Chuck is looking better (than he did three days ago). He's much more spunky.

I praise God for Chuck's incredible care ... his nurses are so kind, as are his doctors and EMTs who cart him back and forth from Baylor Specialty to Big Baylor. God has been so faithful and steady.

Please pray for Chuck's health issues. Also - praise God - we are having a meeting tomorrow with the doctors here at Baylor Specialty. They want to discuss long-term plans. Please pray for this meeting. Please pray for open minds, open hearts, creative ideas, patience, and faith (for all parties involved). My hopes are high ... I will be praying for an obedient heart. I know the plans God has for me and Chuck are to "prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future. " (Jer 29:11)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Quickie update ... sans actual visit with Chuck. His skin surgery has been postponed until he is infection free. One of his cultures showed that the antibiotics he was on did not address this new "bug." He's been on the new antibiotic for two days now. My best guess is that the surgery will occur in two weeks.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I will be computerless for the next couple of days. There will be no posts until Thursday. Please keep Chuck's health: wounds, heart, lungs in your prayers.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Please pray for Chuck's overall health. He's been "sickly" these last couple of days. He's fighting another infection (from the trach ... which apparently is a chronic thing with trachs). Also, his heart rate has been higher than usual. It's been high-ish for a while (110), but has increased to 120-130. I do not know the name of the medicine, but he is being started on something that will slow down his heart rate. Apparently there are several possible causes for his elevated heart rate = continuous infections, fevers, and edema (swelling - like water retention but more technical ). In any case, please pray he feels better. He's just been so lethargic.

I praise God for the ileostomy ... Chuck's nutrition is finally moving forward.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I have it on good authority (Dr. Young) that Shelokov wants to do surgery this next Thursday. However, I do not know what type of surgery will take place! Dr. Young mentioned that Shelokov wants to replace the infected hardware ... news I've yet to hear from the man himself. Sooo, as far as I know, Chuck will be having some type of plastic surgery on Thursday ... with the posibility of some hardware work, too.

I am making a mad dash to San Antonio on Tuesday for two quickie doctor appointments. They're the type of appointments that take three months to get ... and cancelling means waiting another three months. No way I'm rescheduling!

Please be praying for healing for Chuck ... and for quick recovery.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Chuck is doing fine ... nothing much happens on the weekends. He went three hours off the ventilator today. His stomach is slowly deflating. Next week should be pretty interesting. We expect that he will be transferred to Plano ... and may undergo the skin surgery. I'll keep you updated.

Okay, once I figure out how to create a link to the Fix Up Chuck website, I'll post it on my blog. You've got to see what they've done now ... you can buy t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers. I, of course, plan to get one of everything! The website is

Friday, September 01, 2006

It looks like the ileostomy was a success. It's still a bit early to know for certain. Currently, Chuck's stomach has deflated a little; tube feeds have resumed; and Chuck is keeping down everything he drinks. Each of these is a victory! Chuck's been cleared for full liquid diet ... which means he can have malts!!!

I forgot to mention one HUGE blessing ... Stacie! Any time I grow weary or need a break, she drops everything and runs. I can always count on her ... any time, day or night ... and that is a HUGE comfort. Thank God for Stacie!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I have let too much time go without mentioning my blessings ... my salvation from insanity. Last week, my sister Shea insisted that I come home for a break. Wow, I had no idea how much I needed it! It's funny how insanity creeps in ... it doesn't announce itself ... it comes in quietly and hangs out in the corner ... slowly taking up more and more space. My craziness began with a simple themometer. The nurse takes Chuck's vitals every few hours. I insisted on knowing his temperature. If it was 98.6 or lower ... all was well. Before I knew it, every few hours was not enough for me. So, I started taking Chuck's temperature every hour on the hour. If it was 98.6 or lower ... I felt safe and happy. This all seemed quite normal to me. It wasn't until I was home laughing about this "quirk" when one of my friends knowingly said, "If you take his temperature every hour, you think you can stop him from running a fever." Wow ... wow ... that was exactly it. Yep, I had become a bonafide wacko.

Okay - so my blessings and return to a somewhat sound mind: Shea organizing my trip home = calling in friends to pray over me and scheduling an hour-long massage; Charlotte, Miranda, Sandra, Ashely, Shea listening to me, crying with me, laughing with me (or at me?)... praying over me; Darrell for taking care of my inspection sticker; Sarah for taking care of my house and giving me wonderful company while home; Sandy for the ticket to Women of Faith Conference; meeting Kelli and Valerie at the Women of Faith Conference. You all helped to restore my sanity. I have not touched a themometer since returning to Dallas. Chuck thanks you.
Chuck is doing really well. I missed the surgeon this morning, but Chuck caught me up on information. Dr. Fenter thinks the procedure went very well. Chuck is still swollen and will be for a couple of days. However, his tummy already feels a bit softer. We expect to see the benefits of this procedure by Sunday ... the benefits being no nausea, the ability to eat and drink while keeping everything down, the ability to have tube feeds started again, the ability to get nourished!

Chuck looks stronger every day. This gives me greater confidence that these bumps in the road ... such as digestion and wounds ... are just bumps. Despite the bumps or perhaps because of the bumps, he's getting stronger! Thanks so much for your prayers. I praise God for his faithfulness ... for his timing ... for his plan.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

All went well today. Sorry ... it's late ... like 9:30!!! Details later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Late-breaking news ... Chuck will be undergoing surgery tomorrow. Dr. Shelokov thinks (wisely) that it is bad form to work on Chuck's colon and spine at the same time ... infection. So tomorrow Chuck will go to Big Baylor (across the street from Baylor Specialty) for the diversion ileostomy (to take care of the colon issue). The surgery is scheduled for 3:00, and will take about two hours. The surgeon did warn me that 3:00 Baylor time may mean 4:00 or later. I do not know when Chuck will go back to Baylor Plano for the skin procedure.

Please pray that all goes well. Please pray that this procedure takes care of Chuck's digestive issues. Know this, Chuck is growing stronger every day - praise God!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Finally, we have an answer to Chuck's digestive woes! It is his colon ... it has been stretched too much to bounce back. The muscle has grown too weak to correct itself. The colon needs a break in order to regain its strength and do its job. Thus, a simple procedure to by-pass the colon will be performed. The procedure is quick, "simple," and reversible. This procedure can be done at the same time the skin flap procedure is done. The good news about the colon issue is that Chuck's stomach and small intestine are fine.

I forgot one more piece of good news. The final wound on Chuck's chest is "resolved." His front side is healed, healed, healed. Praise God!!
Dr. Shelokov came today ... thanks for the prayers. Chuck definitely needs the skin flap ... it's too risky to leave the hardware exposed. Infection could hit the hardware and spread like wildfire throughout Chuck's spinal cord. However, Chuck's lungs must improve before surgery. He currently has pneumonia (second batch since being at Baylor Specialty ... the first batch is gone, praise God). As soon as Chuck gets clearance from respitory, he'll be sent to Plano for plastic surgery ... with the sunny, darling Dr. Young. I cannot wait to get back ... just to soak up some of her positive energy! Here's the deal ... start praying for a successful skin flap. The hardware has been exposed, and is therefore "infected" (it's been exposed to air) ... whether blood cultures show that or not. The issue is covering this "infected" hardware with skin ... the skin will provide a lovely place for an infection to grow. Pray, pray, pray ... no infection ... no infection and complete healing.

On a positive note ... Chuck is getting stronger. He's ready to get up out of his bed! All of his wounds look better ... including the one on his spine. His arms are much stronger ... his fine motor skills are returning. I praise God for healing Chuck ... time and time again!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

No worries ... there was no post yesterday because I took the day off. Chuck and I had a proper date ... complete with delicious food and a movie. It was really fun ... and we both felt "normal" for a few hours. My cousin, Kam, brought the BEST tortilla soup in the world to Chuck. You should have seen the joy on his face as his sipped it (through a straw, of course). It must have tasted of San Antonio ... of normalcy ... of getting back to life.

Here are the promised details ... some of which are still a little sketchy. I've yet to see an internist since my return to Dallas!

  1. Digestion: Chuck's intestinal system is still being funky. His bowels get bloated. Twice, he's been given the drug, neostigmine. It works beautifully for a few hours, then back to bloat. The G.I. docs are considering a surgery called a diverion ileostomy. This, like the j-peg and the trach, is reversible. The diversion ileostomy involves separating Chuck's lower intestine from the colon. The lower instestine would empty into a "sack". There are a few more "things" to try before surgery is needed. Please pray Chuck's colon gets to work!
  2. Wounds: nothing new to report. The proposed surgery involves taking a flap of skin (complete with muscle and blood supply) and attaching it to the area over his hardware. I spoke with Eric, and surgery is out of the question at this time because Chuck is too "sick." (I love it when they say things like that!) I insisted that he or Dr. Shelokov should come take a look at Chuck. I told him that he'd be shocked at how much stronger Chuck is ("sick" or not)! The wound vac is doing it's job. Chuck and I battle daily ... there's an issue of positioning in the bed. He wants to be up high ... which means he has pressure from the foam pads on his back = which is BAD. (Yes, you are only getting my side. I'm right, Chuck's wrong). I insist that he stays down on the sand part of his bed. Every time I leave Chuck, he gets a nurse or aide to move him up. Oi vey!
  3. Lungs: nothing has changed. I believe the clinical word for this is ... STABLE.
  4. Spirits: much improved!!!

So much has happened since my quick trip home! I won't go into details ... yet. Know this, God is busy at work ... restoring my sanity. Apparently, I needed a break.

Please pray for my niece, Celis (six going on sixteen). She was in an accident (while I was home). She fractured the upper plate in her mouth, her nose, busted out two permanent teeth and two baby teeth. Apparently she takes after her Uncle Chuck. Shea said Celis was tough as nails through the whole ordeal. She's a marvel ... just like her uncle. She's young enough that her battle scars will look "cool" and should earn her a great deal of respect on the playground.

Friday, August 25, 2006

There's a lot to report! I'll give the basics now and give details later:
  1. Chuck's digestive issues are still unresolved. He was given a medicine called neostigmine to help his bowels move. Thus far, it has worked. There's discussion of a possible surgery in Chuck's future ... more info later.
  2. Chuck's wounds look better. Whew. The wound that exposes his hardware already looks improved (after 4 days on the wound vac). There is discussion of a possible surgery in Chuck's future ... more info later ... are you seeing a theme yet? Dr. Shelokov is coming Monday or Tuesday to take a look at Chuck's back.
  3. Chuck's lungs are stable. I've not talked to a doctor yet. There were issues while I was gone with his heart rate increasing, his blood pressure dropping, and difficulties breathing. This was a brief period, but he's been resting since = no time off the ventilator.
  4. Chuck's spirits are much improved.

Alrighty ... expect a full report ... later.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Chuck is looking good ... worn out, but good. He's in more pain than typical because he has to be repositioned every couple of hours. He does not like that one bit. We are hopeful that his wounds will heal like crazy! Right now, it's all about positioning, the wound vac, the dressings on his pressure sores ... and time.

I am making a quick trip home = arriving tonight and leaving Friday morning. Thus, there will be no blog update on Thursday. Wound-care comes tomorrow, so I'm hoping there will be something great to report on Friday.

Chuck's been off the ventilator for three and a half hours today. He's doing great!

Please pray for strength (physical and spiritual), courage, and healing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chuck made the six hours! Whew ... and in the midst of a wound-care crisis. It seems "the worst" has happened ... the hardware on Chuck's back is exposed. As far as wounds go, this is as serious as it gets. Wound-care has taken the #1 seat for health issues. Wouldn't you know it ... sitting up for 45 minutes yesterday was great for the lungs, digestion, and spirit ... but deadly for wounds. Oi vey ... there's a delicate balance to this whole thing.

This is wound-care's plan. They have put a wound vac (like he had on his abdomen) on his back. The hope is that the vac will work it's magic ... like it did on his abdomen. At the Plano hospital, Dr. Young (his plastic surgeon) commented, "If he can heal like that on his front, he can heal like that on his back."

Shea reminds me continually ... God's mercies are new every morning. Do not go past today (do not collect $200) ... because He gives you everything you need to make it through today ... if I venture into tomorrow, I get in trouble. Thus ... I'm staying right here in today. Today is fine. Today Chuck is in great spirits; today he went six hours off the ventilator; today occuaptional therapy oohed and ahhed over his increased arm strength; today he got to eat popsicles and drink Sprite ... and today the hardware issue was discovered and addressed promptly. Today is just fine. Yes, I'm weak in the knees ... but I definitely feel loving arms around me.

Please pray for super-natural healing ... for today ... each day.