Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

One Last Update from my Brother

Update July 27

Dear All,

It is a pleasure to write this email update, which I fully expect to be the last email update regarding my Mom's esophagus tear – and her complete healing !  

She returned home 2 weeks ago from the hospital.  She has steadily increased her appetite, strength and health each day.  This week, she had two follow-up appointments.  One with the infectious disease team, and one with the thoracic surgeon.  Although she does have 1 further follow-up with the infectious disease team in three weeks, she received the "all-clear" from the thoracic surgeon, her main doctor on this case.  So she is Good to Go : )

Thank God for the healing that He provided her.  Sometimes God works directly, and sometimes through doctors.  I think He did both in this case. 

Looking back briefly over the updates that were sent, I see God clearly showing up in answer to prayer.  In terms of the doctor she had at U Miami, who was on holiday 1 week after he did the operation on her – but he took a tact of allowing her body to heal instead of doing a further follow-up surgery.  The support that He provided to Diana and I through Luis at the Miami Marriott, and several other very specific ways He showed up.  He revealed himself, I guess in more formal Bible-speak.  Specific prayers were answered – ultimately for my Mom's healing. 

But also for peace on my Mom's hospital floor, with the woman screaming at night.  For restful sleep.  The day that the email went out and people started praying for restful sleep – she was out all day.  She had a weird kind of "foam" in her mouth, and I was just sitting there thinking, am I witnessing God at work?  I think that I was, witnessing her throat healing right there. 

I have attached to this email, the full list of updates in case you want to read and see God's hand at work day by day.  You can also read those and see pictures of Baby Nico at wadesplusone.com, the site Diana keeps up with her blog and pictures. 

I would like to thank all of you.  People contributed in so many different ways.  Prayer – I have heard this, prayer is not preparation for the battle, prayer is the battle.  So thank you for your prayer. 

For those who came and stayed with my Mom in Miami, who watched Baby Nico for Diana and I to just be able to see our Mom together.  For the emails and letters of support, the pictures, the stories.  Millie and the Murphys who watched our Mom's favorite child (Tucker). 

What a blessing as well to be embraced and supported by both our old church family in Miami, and our current church family in Vero Beach.  How important to have that support.  And those who were praying simply for another member of the family of God – who were at other churches, in Arkansas, Florida, all over – thank you all. 

In terms of how you can help my Mom now, I think that the best thing is continued prayer for her well-being and to take this new lease on life and use this opportunity to reassess things.  Slow down, refocus, do what she really wants to do.  That is one of the most important lessons that I learned after my father died.  Tragedy comes to us all, sooner or later.  But, how are we going to let tragedy – and God working through  that tragedy – change us?  The best book I have ever read on tragedy is called A Grace Disguised http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Disguised-Soul-Grows-through/dp/0310258952
and I highly recommend this book to everyone who is going through tragedy. 

Flowers aren't the best plan, as the cat eats them and gets sick… but Panera and Toojays gift cards, she will use – they are a good choice for healthy food that she can pick up.Emails are better than calls, as she is working her way through to gradually seeing people in due course, as I'm sure you can understand…

Just to reiterate, I believe that God showed up in specific answer to prayer and healed my Mom – in spite of my, perhaps most of our, struggles with faith.  Our little faith (at least I know mine is little).  But, as my friend reminded me, it only takes the faith of a mustard seed to see mountains move. 

Praise God for His power and His healing hand. 

With Love,

Diana and Russell

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Headed Back to Our New Home Tomorrow

Mom finally had her pic line out late last night, has finished all her meds, and is feeling better each day - still has to monitor her energy levels though. Gets tired easily when we go out and talking/talking on the phone will tire out her throat. We're praying for good results from the (hopefully last) chest xray tomorrow and the "all clear" too.

Nico and I will go to Deerfield Beach in the morning for my mom's appointment with the head thoracic surgeon. After that we head back to our perfect new home in Islamorada.

14 Weeks Old

Let's see if my phone will attach the right photo this time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Birth, 1, 2, and 3 Month Comparison

Nico is such a sweet natured baby and we enjoy watching her grow each day. This past Friday she weighed in at 12 lbs. exactly and was 23.5 inches long. Already more than double her birth weight and 5 inches longer.

She has been social smiling for a while now and is doing a great job tracking objects and looking for sounds. She doesn't like tummy time but she has a new trick up her sleeve, rolling to her left side..Its really cute how hard she tries to roll over!

We head to Vero Beach tomorrow to have some time helping my mom. Nico has been a great traveler so far but that'll be the longest drive we have taken. We hope we all survive  the car trip!!

Several people have mentioned not having my email address with the recent events with my mom, etc. It is dianakwade at gmail dot com (I don't want to write it out to get picked up by any spiders.)

3 Months Old (13 Weeks)

+ Couch shopping and good morning snuggles with her daddy

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Update Friday July 13

Update July 13

Finally home. 

After 2 1/2 weeks in the hospital, my Mom and I pulled into her apartment building around 10 pm tonight.  Finally home.  

Thank God for His healing hand.  For hearing our prayers.  For showing up and making His presence known, several specific times that we saw, and probably many times we did not see.  For a great team of doctors and nurses, in our particular our nurse practitioner on the thoracic team.  With whom we also shared the same faith and hope.  

Please continue to pray for
My Mom's full recovery, as she has some antibiotics, home care nurse to come to do an IV, etc.  
Rest and peace for my sister and I, that we relax and know Mom is in God's hands

I will send another update, in a few days, with what would be helpful for my Mom.  I know many of you are keen to send flowers, food, etc.  I am sure though that you also want to do what's best for my Mom.  Flowers are not best for her at this time (including because the cat eats them and gets sick) nor food (including because she is starting with purees and juices).  

She is also worn down and her job is to fight off any infection and the yeast in her system fully, so she is on strong antibiotics/ anti fungal and having visitors and being on the phone all day would not be helpful for her full healing.  Please give me a few days to write what would be helpful.  

Thank you for all of your prayers and all the other ways people have helped.  I will write a more thorough thank you in a bit, when I'm not exhausted.  



Friday, July 13, 2012

Update Thursday July 12

Update July 12

More positive news today.   My Mom continues to eat soft food - remember when your parents told you to chew your food properly?  Well now I get to remind my Mom of the same thing...

The infectious disease team is still trying to confirm exactly what type of yeast is in my Mom's blood, so that they can prescribe the right anti-fungal.  But the good news is that she can have the appropriate medicine at home, in Vero, with a home healthcare nurse, instead of sitting in a hospital for another 10 days just to have an IV...

So, two really major points from today.
1. My Mom is expected to be released Friday, for sure.  Yay! We will meet with Diana, Jason and Nico for a smoothie and then head back home.

2. The doctor came in and talked with my Mom, and told her - I didn't want to tell you this earlier, but now that you're better, I wanted to let you know that the rate of death in injuries like yours is 30-40%. Let that sink in for a moment. She had a 1 in 3 chance of not making it, of dying, from what happened to her.

The doctor (who is really nice and a great guy) said that part of what helped her was that she didn't have additional negative factors like being overweight, diabetes, low blood pressure, etc; her faith; and her friends and Diana and I here with her.

"Her faith"... Of course we also know that its not just an empty faith. "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15)

Why does that verse come to mind?  Because in my own life, I do things to keep myself healthy and in a good state mentally as well, like bikram yoga, and clearing my mind for a few minutes (mediation), etc.  But I know full well - who is going to save me?  My having a clear mind or a focused mind or a healthy body is not going to really SAVE me.  When I'm here in the hospital, with people dealing with very difficult issues, there is only one person who has the power to save.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pics from the new digs

A little piece of Lawrence

Super baby

Owls reporting for duty

i'm new in town.

She matches the house!!!

Daddy built a crib

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Update Wednesday July 11

Update July 11

Thank you for all of your prayers and support.  I know that they have meant a great deal to my Mom and my sister and myself.  

Things continue to look good.  My Mom was on a liquid then soft food diet - much quicker than expected.  She is doing well.  
Was told no infection then yeast in her blood which is likely a result of the sugar/ bacteria from where they were putting high doses of sugar in through IV.  Her fever seems to actually be gone, which is great.  The yeast issue can be serious and even affect her eyesight, but it is something that can be treated outside of the hospital and which she should be able to fight off.  They have amended her antibiotics and anti fungal as well.  

Her mood is positive, though I'm sure she is so frustrated and anxious to get home.  First though, we will figure out a way to meet up with Diana and Jason and baby Nico before turning north to Vero Beach.  My Mom gets such great pleasure in being a grandmother.  

We have a positive mood and expectation of release on Friday, but no counting chickens before they are hatched around here, that's for sure.  I am sure people realize this, but her schedule and visitors will be extremely limited even when she is back in Vero, as she slowly rebuilds her strength in due course.  

Please pray for:
The yeast in her blood to be completely flushed out by her body/ God's hand to move to remove this completely from her blood
The doctors to have wisdom and check everything relevant before she is released
A full healing and release on Friday 
This healing and my Mom's attitude to be a witness to those in the hospital 

Thank you 


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Update Tuesday July 10

Update July 10

Today's update... a sip, and a breath.

Yesterday I wrote how my Mom made really awesome progress with passing the swallow test.  When she was able to sip the water that she had been wanting to drink for so long, she said: Taste and see that the Lord is
good. What a fitting verse obviously.  How difficult to go without something so basic, for so long.

Yesterday however was quite rough on my nerves as she ended the day with a temperature of 102.5, and was quite warm to the touch.  With the concern about infection ever present in hospitals, it was definitely two steps forward, one step back in terms of moving to complete healing/
release from the hospital.  The infectious disease team were not concerned as she was not in pain and was feeling good, however, which was reassuring.

Today, her fever went down to closer to 100.5 or so.  Significant progress. Sometimes the line that they run into your arm, because it has high sugar-content for giving you nutrition, can get bacteria as bacteria love sugar (a lesson for everyone in terms of how they eat). So they took this "pick line" out of her arm, and expect her fever to continue to reduce.  The tests they ran came back that she did not have an infection- praise God for that!

She drank some purplish grape-cranberry juice this morning, as a double check to see if purple fluid started to drain from her neck. Good news - no purple draining in her neck!

Today I finally felt like I was able to catch a breath too.  I made an effort to not be in the hospital too much - I saw her in the morning,
and went to a mall in Miami called The Falls which I used to go to in junior high when we lived in Miami.  Saw the movie Brave (very good), and relaxed a bit.  Was good to get some fresh air and take a breath.

My Mom and I watched some TV in the evening.  She was ready for sleep by 8 pm, which is understandable.  All in all, more good progress today. We are hoping she is released Thursday/ Friday, but better to make sure everything fully healed first.

Thank God for the continued progress with her fever reducing and no infection, and her throat healing.

Please pray for her throat to continue to heal fully and to strengthen
For her body to continue to fight off infection/ God to remove any
infection from her, and for her fever to be removed
Her complete healing so that she can safely and appropriately go home

Thank you


12 Weeks Old

Monday, July 9, 2012

Update Monday July 9

Update July 9

Good news, but not out of the clear yet. She had the barium swallow test this morning, and passed it.  Praise God!  As I wrote earlier, I don't think the ENT doctors were expecting her to pass it, so praise God for that.  

The ENT doctors said that its good she has now started to drink sips of water - they will continue to monitor the neck drain - if the drainage increases, it is a sign there is still a tear the test did not pick up.  Also, she ran a fever from 101.5 to 102.7 today.  During the evening, it was 102.5- still high, but going in the right direction finally !  The nurses will give her some tylenol (the way you don't want to get it) and put some ice under her arms to make sure the fever doesn't get out of hand.  

In spite of God continuing to show up, maintaining a non-worrying state and complete faith remains a constant struggle.  Last night, I kept playing in my head the song "Healing Rain" by Michael W. Smith http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTP-e40i5Tw and then I get an email from Luis here at the hotel (you may remember him from an earlier email) sharing some more of his faith, and sharing with me this exact same song.  

I was also encouraged by the words of my friend (Randall) years ago that sometimes you need to literally preach to yourself.  And by my best friend (Chris), that we are going to have these struggles- but we don't need to stay in that place of worry.  And a call tonight, out of the blue, from my Mom's friend saying that she has faith my Mom is going to be ok, that she will be healed.  

Praise God for:
My Mom passing the swallow test 
Her CT scan coming back ok (a small amount of liquid still in chest, but apparently not worrisome/ body may absorb it naturally over time)
Baby Nico staying healthy while here (they are now in the Keys)
God continuing to reveal himself to us 

Please pray for:
My Mom to be completely healthy and able to go home
God to move His mighty hand to completely remove any fever and infection from my Mom 
The esophagus to be fully healed and strengthened 

Also please note that especially with the fever, etc, my Mom is not taking any visitors.  If you want to come by, please email me directly at russellbjorkman@hotmail.com and I can let you know what the plans are first.  

Thank you 


Good news update

Update early Monday afternoon July 9

My mom passed the swallow test this morning! Praise God!

She can now start swallowing little sips of water. She is expected to be released in one to two days.

She is running a fever which is understandable with the stress of thinking about the test. Infections are a big concern here at the hospital, so please pray for her complete healing and healthy and safe release from the hospital.

Praise God who heals in spite of our worries and little faith.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Update Sunday July 8

Update July 8

A good day overall, but a bit worried at the end of the day.  Diana and baby Nico left this morning to meet with her husband Jason in the Keys, where they are moving from Kansas.  It will be good for her to get a break, have the baby out of the hospital and spend time with Jason.  We are both feeling much better that even if a further surgery is necessary to sew any remaining tear in her esophagus, that she is in a much better
place mentally and emotionally, compared to a few days ago.

At the end of the day, she was very tired. She also had a little bit of a fever.  She hasn't run a fever since the operation last Friday, so I'm
a bit concerned about that.  I pray it will go away and is not a sign of fighting off an infection.

We listened to this song at the end of the day, which she really liked and asked me to share with everyone. (Come Thou Font)

The swallow test has been confirmed for early Monday morning.  Early around here may mean 6 am as from 4 to 6 am there are all kinds of things happening and doctors doing their rounds, etc.  We are not sure of the exact time.  She will also get a CT scan to confirm no further abscess/ fluid in her chest or neck.

Please pray that
Her body fight off any infection/ God move His hand specifically to remove any infection
Her swallow test go well and show a fully healthy esophagus
She be ok emotionally if there is still a tear and the doctors need to assess further surgery or wait time
Peace for Diana and I - we know that God tells us not to worry.  But that is so hard.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Update Saturday July 7

Update July 7

Another good day in terms of my Mom's mental attitude, her body feeling better and hopefully a step closer to home in Vero. However, some trepidation about the swallow test on Monday.

She continues to have an improved outlook and be happier, with it mentally, etc.  She is walking around quite a lot and generally in good spirits.  The tentative side we all feel is that there is still some drainage from the neck, that appears to be saliva.  It is unclear if the decrease in drainage is still occurring, or has "stalled".  In any event, this means that the esophagus is not yet fully healed.  The ENT doctor said that the throat may basically form some scar tissue (he said
ridges) around the tear and it may be necessary to go in surgically to sew it up.  As I have noted in the past, these are the 2 options being considered - let it heal by itself or at some point go in and sew it up. The doctors want it to heal by itself, but ultimately it needs to heal one way or another.

The ENT doctor also reiterated his confidence that it would be ok (the surgery to sew it up), but how serious the previous issue was when she came in on Thursday night.  He mentioned having a grapefruit sized abscess in her chest.  I have heard abscess in her neck and fluid in her chest, so I'm not sure exactly what was drained from where on Friday morning one week ago, but I know that it was a big deal and serious.
Thank God for the healing from that surgery.

The following prayers have been answered:
My Mom had another good night of sleep, and a good nap today
Her body continues to fight off any infection / God continues to remove
any infection from her
Her mental state has improved dramatically, since the operation and
coming off the morphine
She did not seem preoccupied at all with the hunger she has started to

Please pray for:
Her esophagus to be fully healed by her swallow test on Monday
Faith in God's plan for my Mom, as we want this healing by Monday but do not know His plan
All of us to glorify God through this process, in the ways He desires us to - which we may not know

Thank you,

Russell and Diana

Update Friday July 6

Update July 6

We appear to be nearing the finish line, but let's keep going strong until we complete the race of getting out of the hospital safely.

The neck drainage was very low Thursday night (a good thing).  It appeared to increase a little during the day, but that may be due to the body creating more saliva during the day; the time of measurement including whether every 12, or every 10-14 hours; and how often the tube running from her neck to the drainage appendage is "primed".  She is
also starting to feel hungry.  It has been now over 10 days without eating; I am sure that they do not want to put in a feeding tube so
close to her healing.

Her mental state and attitude is very positive and she is focused on healing and coming home safely. She has also had some visitors that have given her a lift.  That's good, but we also want to make sure she rests this weekend and lets the healing complete.

Please pray for:
Her body to continue to fight off any infection, and God's hand to
protect her from any infection
Her esophagus to heal fully by the expected swallow test Monday
Her focus to remain on healing and her not to be discouraged by being in
the hospital so long and her hunger
The wisdom of the doctors and nurses, and nursing assistants helping

Thank you

Russell & Diana

Friday, July 6, 2012

Update Thursday July 5

From my brother again.

Update July 5

Hi all, am writing this update from the hospital floor. It is amazing that anyone can sleep around here, with the beeping and coming in every two hours to check vitals or medicine or take blood or whatever. But this is all of course to make sure people improve, and are doing ok overnight.

Ent and thoracic surgery team now seem on the same page, that my moms throat appears to be healing by itself. The swallow test is expected early next week, definitely not this week. There is still some drainage in her neck so they know it's not fully healed, but for example the amount went down from 90 ml (I think ml) to 30 to 20. This is great, let's get it to zero. They want to treat it with non-surgical options ideally. Of course it needs to heal one way or the other, but non-surgical seems best if possible.

My mom continues to be really kind to the nurses and nurse assistants here, let us pray that is a witness to them about the love and calmness we can have as Christians in the midst of real difficulty.

Thank God for answered prayer that tonight is actually quieter than previously, so hopefully she will sleep well.
For my mom mentally doing much better, with coming off the morphine she has begun to think much more clearly.
For the chance for Diana, my mom and I to show our love for each other.
For friends showing their love for my mom and returning some of the encouragement she has so often given.
For health so far for Diana, nico and myself.

Please pray for
My moms throat to fully heal by Monday.
My mom to continue to fight off infection, and Gods hand to specifically move and remove any infection from her body.
My moms spirit to continue to improve along with her muscles and ability to walk around.

I would appreciate the following
Prayers as above
Videos of people saying hi I can play for her, wishing her well
A note to read her
Bible verses of God being in control and healing that i can read to her

Also, it would be good to have someone to visit her Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Please email me direct if you are able.
In addition, it has seemed to help her relax and sleep better to have someone in the room with her at night. If someone is able to stay with her Friday, Saturday, Sunday night (not all, just one per person of course), maybe even blow dry her hair (I heard today from our visitors how that was very nice as a woman, having that done) while here, that would be appreciated. For staying at night, it is not a fun experience and I'd bring a cd or book on tape you want to listen to...

Please email me direct at russellbjorkman@hotmail.com with anything you'd like me to share or if you're able to come down...

Thank you, lets keep praying as we are seeing God move so far


Sent from my iPad

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Update Wednesday July 4

Update July 4

Hi this will be a very brief update as I am writing it very late. Today was positive- no morphine virtually all day. Slept most of the day, which may be because of some medication to help her sleep last night, and or simply the prayers that went out after the morning update for healing sleep. Whatever it was, she was knocked out much of the day.

Went for some walks including down the hall to see Nico. Also had visitors for twenty min or so, but that really tired her out.

The main thing is the ent doctor doesn't expect the esophagus to be healed, and expects to have to go in and sew up the tear, once they determine if and where it is on Friday. That isn't an outcome any of us want- another surgery- but if that's what heals her, then we do. They couldn't do this earlier because the tissue was inflamed. I think the thoracic surgeon may be a bit more hopeful.

While she was sleeping today, well let us just pray her body was working overtime to heal her esophagus. Similar to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego- our God is able to save us from this, but even if He does not, we will still praise Him.

Prayers for sleep and the quietness of the hallway were answered
The lady who was screaming is gone. I don't know where, but hopefully that is an answer to our prayers as well.
Please pray for her throat to be fully healed by the time of the swallow test, thurs or Friday.


Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Update Tuesday July 3

Update from Russell about Tuesday:

More good news as I write this today.  I will keep it short though as it is late and it is important to keep healthy on our side (Diana, myself). 

My Mom went for 2 walks today.  First walks (other than to the bathroom) for one week.  Tired her out a bit.  She will also be moved from the morphine "pump" to the morphine upon request this evening.  These are both positive steps.  We have a plan for getting her to walk more tomorrow - baby Nico can't come into the unit that she's in, but she usually sits in a little room at the entrance to the unit with my sister or my Mom's cousin Karen if I'm in with my Mom.  So, we can encourage my Mom to walk to the end of the hall, so that she can see little baby Nico.  That will be a long walk for her, but a great reward as well.  

My Mom apparently had a real hard time sleeping last night, with the beeps from the machine, other patients making noise, etc.  Tonight her cousin is staying in the room, to make sure she has everything she needs, and she will have some anti-anxiety medication at night.  We hope that this will really help her rest fully, as we know how important that is.  

She was a bit disoriented today, not nearly as much as yesterday and mostly in the morning only.  I don't know if that is the morphine, effect of being off her medication, etc.  Its a bit disconcerting when it happens, but I try to keep the big picture of improvement in mind, which is still good.  When she called Diana last night, she asked something to the effect of - if I don't pass the swallow test on Friday, am I going to die?  We think that's she is putting together pieces of information such as - how serious it is; what test will be done in the future; etc - but she, especially when we're not there in person and at night - can't quite put it all together in a logical manner.  We reassure her and she seems to understand the reassurance.  That question did not come up again today and we explained in person that she would be ok.  In any event, it is not the kind of pain or mental anguish or confusion that you want your mother to be in.  

The ENT team and the thoracic surgery team differ a little bit on things such as whether to add medication to reduce saliva flow (attempting to improve throat healing), etc.  But what I think it good here is that there are 2 teams of really smart people trying to get my Mom better.  Great.  

Please pray her:
Healing sleep for my Mom
A calm and strong mind - we know our God is one of a sound mind
Any infection to be fought off, and for God's hand to move specifically to remove any infection
Her throat to heal 
Wisdom for the doctors
There is a lady on her floor, apparently in a lot of pain (screaming out at night).  Please pray for this woman. 

I continue to share pictures and letters that you send me, with her.  Please send them to me direct at russellbjorkman@hotmail.com.  

Thank you 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

11 Weeks Old

Update Monday July 2

No wonder my mom has her days and nights confused. So do I! Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day but good progress overall.

Update Monday July 2

Overall good news today, though it came in such an up and down manner it almost didn't feel like it.  My sister received two voicemails overnight from my Mom; in one she sounded extremely clear and in the other, a bit more "out of it" as she has been.  We think that what's happening is she was confused about whether it was morning or evening.  So, we didn't know what to expect when we went in this morning.

She was disoriented quite a bit this morning, it kind of spooked me and probably Diana a bit.  We don't know the cause, whether physical, coming off medications, withdrawal from medications that she stopped taking when she went to the ER one week ago, spiritual, etc.  We prayed for power over whatever it was that was affecting her, and she was not disoriented the rest of the day (but was a bit "out of it" still, as she has been).  Praise God. We know that whichever cause it may be - that God has power and dominion over any and all causes.

She was moved to a "progressive care" room in the late morning.  This is good news, as the doctors would only do this if she is stable/improving.  She has her own room, as she did before, but there is less noise and beeping and it should be quieter for her.  The trade-off is that the nurses are less attentive (more on that below).

An ENT team doctor (her main doctor is a thoracic surgeon) came to see her and said that they usually wouldn't do a swallow test (to see if there is still a tear in the esophagus) one week after the surgery.  She also said that the yellow liquid coming from the drain in my mom's neck could be problematic, and needed to be watched.  When I later spoke with the thoracic surgeon, he confirmed that they would do the swallow test on this Friday, and that he thought the liquid was probably  from the past abscess and still draining, and that she was not running a fever and her white cell count was lowered (which is good), so he isn't that concerned about that.  This paragraph though took place over several hours, so there is a lot of up and down emotionally during the day.

What the surgeon emphasized, is that she needs to be up and walking around (I imagine as her strength improves, not 24 hours a day).  She was very tired today and sleeping each time I checked in on her this afternoon, over a 3-4 hour period she was asleep each time.  But, tomorrow - our task begins.  Making sure my Mom is up and walking around when possible.  She also has a plastic thingy that measures her lung capacity and its her job to suck in on that too, which helps the lungs re: their concern about potential pneumonia.  We need to make sure the nurse comes to show us how, but we don't necessarily need the nurse there while we walk with her.  We need to start taking a bit of control/proactivity to make sure she is doing this, as the nurses etc are all busy, as you can imagine...

I don't know if this comes across in the email, but the day was quite up and down, making it really tiring emotionally on me personally.  The discussion with the thoracic surgeon at the end of the day was reassuring and so the day started (listening to my Mom's voicemail) and ended on a positive note, with much up and down between.

Please pray for:
My Mom to fight off any infection, and for God's hand to specifically move and remove any infection from her body
My Mom's state of mind to improve, that she understand what day it is and start to come to, and be "with it"
That her state of mind be positive, and that God protect her mind
Her esophagus to heal fully - specifically by this Friday
Receptive and helpful nurses as we start to walk with my Mom, and my Mom's body to start to rework fully (she is apparently going to the
bathroom ok on her own, which is an answer to prayer that her bodily functions start to work well on their own again)
Health and peace for Diana, Nico and me

With Love,


ps - After dinner at our hotel, I heard some music coming from a small conference room the hotel has around the corner.  It sounded like church
music.  I went to have a look - and about 8 people were there finishing up a meeting, listening to praise music, clapping their hands, and
singing Hallelujah.  They invited me to join them, and I did.  Why does God keep showing up ?

Update Sunday July 1

I'm delayed in posting the updates, will catch up today. They are all written by my brother.

Update July 1

More good news today, I am happy to share. My Mom continues her upward trend.  We have now seen her more than 48 hours after her surgery, and the "getting worse before she gets better" has not happened - thank God. All of our hopes and prayers are that the surgeons removed this infection that was affecting her ability to heal, and that she has now been given the green light to continue to get better.  I do have a bit of trepidation and each morning want to have faith that she will continue to improve, but there is still fear there too.

I spoke with the head of the ICU this morning as she was making her rounds with her residents.  She told me that the update was basically that my Mom was doing better.  Her white cell count had been high and
dropped back down to about 13,000 which was good.  They hoped that it would drop a little bit more, but it has stabilized, and it may stay there, as she just underwent surgery (she also continues to not run a
fever).  I understand from when she was in Vero that 11,000 is normal (it had gone up to 22,000 and then 31,000 then back to 22,000), but I'm not sure if that's correct.  They discussed whether to move her to a normal hospital room today, and decided to give it one more day - so again, that is a step in the right direction, moving to a regular
hospital room.

There appears to be a bit of uncertainty about whether the esophagus can indeed be sewn up if it doesn't heal, as it wasn't sewn up immediately after the injury, and whether the right time to have her do the "swallow
test" which shows if there is still a tear is this Friday or a bit later.  In any event, let's keep praying that this won't be an issue- that whenever she does the test, her esophagus and body will be fully healed.

My Mom is now breathing on room air, which again is another good sign of moving in the right direction.  The nurses are having her sit in a chair for short periods of time and start to use her muscles again.  They will
also need to help her do basic things like go to the bathroom - basically, get the bodily functions working again.  The doctors will
need to assess putting in a feeding tube as well, and how her body reacts when they stop/ decrease antibiotics will also be important items.

Diana and I also had the chance to go to church at Riverside Baptist Church, our church when we lived in Miami.  The sermon message was on the Holy Spirit and how when Jesus went away, he said that he would send "one like" him, a comforter.  The comforter that Diana and I want and
that we all want to have, to feel and know things are going to be ok. We met with old family friends from Miami at church, the Jakoby family, and had the privilege of having lunch with them.  Bob Jakoby is head of the chaplain services for the Baptist Hospital system here; the point of mentioning his profession is simply to say that God seems to be putting the appropriate people in our paths, to comfort and reassure us. Sometimes holding on to fear can be comforting, and actually the scary part is releasing your fear, ironically.

We were also able to visit our mother together this afternoon, as friends from Vero came by to watch baby Nico while we went in to talk with our Mom.  She is certainly alert enough to ask about Nico- Diana
has joked that she won't be able to get Nico out of her arms when she recovers!  And then we were able to enjoy a Cuban-themed meal and walk around Bayside (a close mall from here, in downtown Miami) and just get
some sun and fresh air, which is important for us as we will be here until at least Friday.

To read of the impact that one woman can have on the lives of children and their families is humbling and inspiring, as I read the emails wishing her well from people that knew her as a Sunday School and preschool teacher in Miami 30 years ago, to those that know her as a Sunday school teacher today. It certainly helps me appreciate what a
special woman that she is, and why everyone cares for her so much.  The stories of the encouragement that she has shown others are very special to me.  I know that is in her blood, it is a part of who she is.

Please continue to pray regarding:
Praise God for the healing that has taken place so far and the skill of
the doctors and surgeons
Continued fighting off of infection and protection from any infection,
through my mom's efforts and God's hand moving specifically
Full healing of the tear in her esophagus
Her body to start working again as the nurses and doctors help her -
muscles, breathing without oxygen, going to the bathroom, etc
Baby Nico, Diana and I to stay healthy as we are in the hospital a lot
Peace for Diana and I - for the Comforter

Thank you


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Update Saturday June 30

Update from my brother about yesterday:

Good news today.  The doctor had told me that we should expect her to get worse before she gets better.  However, Diana and I have now seen my Mom three times since her surgery - Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon.  Each time, she has looked a little bit more alert and in better shape.

The nurse went in to take her temperature this morning while I was in the room, and I kind of held my breath.  A temperature obviously may show the body fighting off an infection.  But no temperature- great. Her neck is less swollen; I wouldn't say back to normal, but definitely a lot better.  You can see a little bag where fluid is, that is being drained from her neck, and there is a line draining fluid from her chest.

Several of her friends that Diana and I have reached out to recently have remarked- I didn't even know she was going in for surgery.  Yes, her sleep apnea surgery was supposed to be short and sweet, on an outpatient basis, and she was even expected to fly to Greece this coming Tuesday, July 3, with the Indian River Charter High School's chorus. She serves on the board there and is very proud of the excellent education that they provide, and this trip would have been a highlight for her.

She has asked Diana several times when she is going home to Vero Beach, and each of us today what day it was.  She is still a bit "out of it", but she is on morphine for pain and also the nurse said that her medication makes her drowsy.  So, Diana and I want to make sure that she knows she's not alone, but we also want to let her rest.  We can each go in for about 5-10 minutes and then she starts to get sleepy and we let her rest.  Today, the nurse also moved her to the chair - this is to help her body and muscles keep working.  The nurse said it went fine, it just tired her out- but being able to do that is a good step.

Today was also a first in that Diana and I were able to visit with her together.  She was able to hold my hand in her right hand, and Diana's hand in her left hand. This was very meaningful for Diana and I, and we hope for her.  We were able to do this due to the kindness of a friend who came to give Diana and I some company over a meal and watch baby Nico while Diana and I visited with our mom.  We understand that a few more people from Vero will be able to do this and are very thankful for that. (Pam has offered to coordinate that, so if you'd like to help us in that way, please email Pam Schwartz.)

Even more of Mom's kind personality, that so many of you appreciate, comes out with the morphine.  In Vero Beach, she was telling me it was going to be ok and winking at me.  Here in Miami, she is always thanking the nurses and trying to remember their names.  She told Diana that the doctor asked her to be his date this weekend : )

In the midst of what has provided us with more hope and promise, we are surrounded by families walking through difficult situations of their own and dealing with difficult news.  One man had a hole in his skull to remove pressure on his brain, and over 10 of his family members had come to visit him.  On his way to the hospital, the wheel fell off the ambulance bed and the bed tipped over.  Another family heard the difficult news that there were many issues with their loved one, and even if he got better at this time, he didn't have more than a few months left.  Why does God move in the ways He moves - or perhaps, another way - how do we know God is not moving when he allows people to leave the pain they have in this life. These are questions that I walked through (though I do not think you ever complete the walk) three years ago when my father died.  I do not think there is an answer other than surrendering to God's majesty and will and plan.

Thank you for the notes and pictures you have sent to me at russellbjorkman@hotmail.com.  We read several of them to my Mom today, and will continue to read and share when they come in.  She smiles and understands them and I am confident they lift up her spirit.  I do understand your desire to come and visit her as several have expressed, and Diana and I have asked her several times, and she does not want visitors (and you know her- she will want to smile and talk, and she just needs to rest).

Please pray for:
-her body to fight off any infection and God's hand to remove any infection
-her body to recover quickly and fully from the surgery her esophagus to heal fully-
-wisdom for the doctors and nurses
-little baby Nico to be healthy, as we're in the hospital a lot
-peace for Diana and I

With love,
Russell and Diana