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- - - -  Status Provided By Jill Businelle - - - -

Tuesday, August 1, 2000
As of Monday, Greg is no longer considered a renal patient. The doctors said his kidney function has improved to the point where there is no need for them to continue to follow him. Greg will have to continue to have his blood checked every couple of months for awhile, but they do not expect any more problems. Praise God!! Greg had the perma-cath removed Tuesday afternoon.

The vent weaning is going good. Greg was doing so good on the trache collar, the doctor decided to skip that step. Now during weaning trials, Greg breathes on his own with oxygen in his nasal canal. He is still trying to do 30 minutes 3 times a day, but has gone as much as 40 minutes during a weaning time. They still want to take it very slow to make sure he does not over stress his lungs.

Keep the prayers up for healing of Greg's lungs and spine and give thanks for the healing of Greg's kidneys. Please remember a special prayer for Greg's appointment with the neurosurgeon on Friday. Pray the appointment goes as scheduled and that Greg's bones have healed strong and straight.

Romans 11:33 : "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!".

Friday, August 4
Prayers were answered today, NO SURGERY!! The neurosurgeon examined Greg's vertebra under x-ray while he was moving his head and there is no risk of pressure on the spinal cord. The vertebra stayed in alignment and the ligaments are strong enough to support and move his head. What a miracle!! The doctor said go on to TIRR and get stronger. Thanks to everyone for the prayers. God has shown his love and answered our prayers again!

Vent weaning has been doing great. Greg is up to 2 hours 3 times per day. The doctor has recommended that we increase it slowly and try to aim for 6 full hours on Monday and 12 full hours by mid-week. Greg feels very comfortable breathing on his own. He even said it is easier breathing on his own, then breathing on the machine. Please keep praying that his lungs will continue to strengthen and heal and that Greg will know when to make the move to the next steps without putting too much stress on his lungs.

Physical and occupational therapy are still going good. Greg is doing strengthening exercises, range of motion exercises and working on sitting up in the chair. Occupational therapist have started using electrical stimulation to his wrist flexor muscles to try to retrain them to work. They can feel some triggers in both wrists, but they need to be much stronger. The therapist can also feel some small triggers in the triceps. Please pray that the signals to these muscles can increase so that Greg can start to work on strengthen and using these muscles.

Greg is getting very close to making the move to TIRR. The doctors here at Vencor have given the go ahead for him to move on to TIRR. We are now waiting on TIRR to make their assessment and get all the paperwork in order. If everything goes OK, Greg should be moved to TIRR within the next 2 weeks. Please pray that God will guide this process and open the doors both financially and administratively for Greg to move on to start true physical rehabilitation.

Isaiah 12:5 : "Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world."

Tuesday, August 8
The past weekend was filled with good and bad times. The good came from Greg's vent weaning. He was able to stay off the vent for 6 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday!! It was really great to see him breathing on his own and able to talk to everyone. He did so good breathing on his own that he said it was hard going back on the machine. Our prayers stay lifted that his lungs will continue to heal and strengthen to allow him to be completely off the machine in the very near future.

Unfortunately, the good was followed with some concerning news. Greg's hemoglobin level dropped to a critical level and they had to give him 2 units of blood. The 2 units brought it back to a normal level, but the doctors are concerned about the source of the drop. On Monday the GI doctor did a scope of Greg's stomach to make sure there was not a bleeding ulcer. The test came back clear and he said the stomach looked good. The doctors are now searching for the source. Please include in your prayers that they will locate the problem and the right treatment to resolve any future problems.

Everything else is going good. We are still hoping that Greg can move to TIRR within the next week. Please keep up the prayers that all the doors will open when the time is right for Greg to make the next move to physical rehab.

James 1:2-3 : "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

Friday, August 11
Greg moved to TIRR!! We finally got everything in order and able to move late Wednesday. Since then it has been a BIG adjustment. TIRR's job is to work very hard in getting Greg back to an independent state. These first few days have been full of assessments by all the therapists and doctors. The big accomplishment is that they got Greg up in a wheelchair and he has been able to go outside for the first time in 3 months. TIRR bases there system on a scheduled daily routine. Monday - Friday Greg will have a 1 hour class to attend every morning at 10:30, then 1 hour physical therapy and 1 hour occupational therapy in the afternoon. Twice a week he will have 1 hour with recreational therapy. In between he will have meetings with the doctors to stay on top of his medical condition. The weekdays are going to be very busy we are learning very fast!

TIRR addresses Greg's treatment as if he will not get anything back. They work on strengthening what he has and learning to work with what he has. In the process they will watch and see if he starts to get back any additional functioning. Starting next week he will work with occupational therapy and physical therapy for setting goals to achieve during his stay. Please pray that God will give Greg the strength and encouragement to stay positive during his stay here. Also pray that God will guide the therapists and doctors in all of Greg's treatment and rehabilitation.

The best news for this week is that Tuesday morning at 7AM Greg went off the vent and has not been back on since!! PRAISE and THANKS to the LORD! His lungs are still healing and getting stronger, but he is able to oxygenate his body without the machine. The doctors are watching him closely to make sure his lungs are not too stressed while healing, but as long as he stays oxygenated and comfortable, then they will keep him off the machine. They will downsize his trache to a 6 on Monday and watch him for the next couple of weeks. If everything continues to get better, they hope to have the trache out in the next couple of months. Pray that God will continue to heal and strengthen Greg's lungs and keep them free of any bacteria or infection that could set back the healing process.

2 Corinthians 5:17 : "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Tuesday, August 15
After 5 days at TIRR, Greg finally had his first full day of rehab. The day starts with a 1 hour training class at 10:30AM, lunch, 1 hour occupational therapy, then 1 hour physical therapy. Later in the afternoon he can choose from exercise classes, more training/support classes or sleep and rest before dinner. It is very surprising how draining the small stuff is. He is worn out after just sitting up in the chair for a couple of hours. It makes for a good nights sleep!!

He is still doing good in the wheelchair. They have been able to get him up to 80 degrees for 45 minutes, then rest for a couple of minutes and back up. He is still fighting dizzy spells after being up at higher levels, but they are getting better. The therapist are hoping to have him at 90 degrees by early next week. He is currently in a wheelchair that has a reclining back. Once he is able to stay at 90 degrees for an extended time, they will move him to a straight back wheelchair.

Greg did make some good progress over these past few days. First, the doctors removed the feeding tube from his stomach. One more tube gone and one more to go!! The last tube, the trache, was downsized to a 6. It was a great change!! Immediately after the new trache was inserted, there was a noticeable improvement in his speech and breathing. He has been able to sleep better, breathe better, speak better and cough better. The doctors will watch for the next couple of days and hopefully move to the last trache size by next week. The last size is a 4. We are not sure how long he will have to have the 4, but after the 4 is total removal. WOW! God has really brought Greg a long way!

Wednesday, August 23
Well, we are in the swing of things at TIRR. Greg is making some progress and learning a lot. Each morning there is a class to teach about medical concerns, physical concerns, emotional concerns and the "how to's" of living with a spinal cord injury. The classes are interesting and very scary. With a spinal cord injury, there are so many changes to the body that need to be watched closely to make sure Greg will not have any additional complications. TIRR stresses the worst case scenarios so that the patient and family will be extra cautious to prevent any other problems when they go home. We are learning that Greg is very lucky and blessed to have not had more problems up to this point. God has really blessed us with great doctors and nurses that have taken good care of him.

The physical improvements have been very slow. The most improvements are seen in Greg getting stronger and able to move around more without blood pressure problems. Greg currently has shoulder, bi-cep and forearm muscles. Unfortunately, due to the long amount of time that he was in bed healing from the A.R.D.S., his muscles lost all their strength and tone. Because the muscles are so weak, it makes it hard for Greg to use them for daily activities. Therefore, the occupational therapist is working on getting these muscles strong again so that Greg will be able to perform daily activities. The occupational therapist is also working on getting Greg into a straight-back wheelchair. Greg is now able to stay at 90 degrees for about 1-2 hours without any problems. Now, with that hurdle conquered, Greg should be able to sit in a regular wheelchair. They will start him out in a manual wheelchair, then try an automatic wheelchair once he is stronger. The therapist said once Greg is strong enough, he will be able to propel a manual wheelchair on his own, but they recommend having both types because the manual chairs can be very draining when going long distances. The occupational therapist also gave Greg some wrist supports that can be used to assist him in doing daily activities.

The physical therapist is focusing on training Greg and I on transferring him from the wheelchair to a bed, couch, car, etc. There is a lot of training Greg and I must go through before he is ready to come home. That can be frustrating. Greg wants to focus on getting stronger and getting back more functioning, but there is so much we have to learn before he can come home. The therapist and doctors have recommended that we focus on learning to live under the current state, have Greg go home for a couple of months and get stronger, then come back and really focus on getting more back and learning more independent functioning at that time. Even though we get frustrated, we are ready to go home. It has been almost 4 months since Greg has been home and that is a long time. They are looking at getting Greg home in the next 4-6 weeks.

A whole new list of prayers is opening up. It is very scary, but I see how all of us prayed to see Greg through the healing process of his lungs, kidneys and spine. God heard those prayers, so I ask that we hit him again with these new prayers. Please add to your prayer list that God will oversee Greg's therapy to get stronger and get back his functioning while keeping him encouraged and his spirits up. Thanks to everyone that has seen us through this long, hard journey. Please remember that this is only the beginning.

On a final note, Greg is talking now and can see visitors on a limited basis. His schedule allows for visiting between 6PM and 8PM, Monday - Friday and 3PM - 8PM, Saturday and Sunday. Please send an email or give us a call at 281-235-6381 to let us know you are coming.

1 Peter 5:10-11 : "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

Continued prayers for Greg's healing and strengthening. Also, keep in your prayers that Greg will be encouraged daily to keep working hard towards recovery.

1 John 5:14-15 : "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him."