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!