Saturday, April 21, 2007

Your Grace Is Enough

2 Corinthians 12:9
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I realize it's been awhile since we've posted news on the blog, but file this under the "no news is good news" category. It's been a little over a month since the initial brain bleed and there are surprisingly few lingering reminders that it actually happened.

Dad is off all medications except the mighty Tylenol. He reports that he's been headache-free for 5 days--quite a feat. And he can't even feel the spots in his scalp where the holes were drilled. Wow.

For someone who likes action, Dad has been mostly content to take long, (brisk, he adds) walks each day coupled with a ride on the stationery bike at the now infamous YMCA. He is still trying to regain some weight and reports that someone rolled down their window as they passed him while on a stroll and shouted, "Chris, I couldn't tell if that was you walking or if you were riding a chicken." No lifting weights yet, but he is working through some of the flexibility and strengthening exercises prescribed by his physical therapist.

Of course, he's anxious to get back to work and has been spending several hours each day working from home. Apparently, he also made a cameo appearance at a meeting on Friday, but I guess that was supposed to be on the down low...

On the horizon for Dad is heading back to the office, possibly part time at first, but knowing him, that will not last long. I'm sure the employees at Jason's Deli have been wondering where their best customer has been. That will be some story.

So Lilly told me the other night that she was done praying for Papa because he is all better. (She is definitely not a 3 year-old who sugar-coats things). And in some ways, she is right. Of course, Dad covets prayer as he continues to gain strength, but mostly, he asks that we remember to thank God for his grace and mercy. It's so easy to pray in our time of need, but this whole adventure reminds us that it's our privilege to let people know that God's intervention in Dad's situation deserves highest praise. There is no other explanation for Dad's miraculous recovery.(Even ask these neurosurgeons who are themselves in awe as they remind us we understand less than 5% of the brain's capabilities...which begs the question, "How do they know what percentage they know?"...but oh well...)

Each Sunday at our church, a discussion question is raised and we break into small groups to discuss. I had just taken a gulp of hot coffee when the question, "Have you ever directly witnessed a miracle?" flashed on the screen. Like a scene from a sitcom, I literally spit my coffee right back into the styrofoam cup with a snort. "Well, yes, I have," I thought, "as of this March I most certainly have." Then my hand shot up to share, "I can't pass up this opportunity to give all the glory to God," I began. And then just maybe there were some tears of joy.

There are many times in life when pieces seem to fall together one by one and it can only be explained as God's will. But other times, like in the trauma ICU, there are such dramatically inexplicable events that point swiftly and decisively to the hand of God that our only response can be to stand back and humbly praise Him.

Thanks in advance for your prayers of praise. The image of hundreds of blog readers, family, and friends pausing to give glory to our Father for this specific miracle is powerful. What a tiny glimpse of heaven we've been given here on earth.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Doctor, Doctor Gimmie the News

Well, as promised here is an actual medical more editorial posts about whatever topics interest me (like BodyWorlds).

Yesterday, Dad's chauffeur (Mark) drove him downtown to Baylor for another visit with the widely acclaimed Dr. Bidiwala and faithful physician's assistant, Tiffany.

First order of business was getting the stitches out of his head. At last a procedure that was pain-free! I'm sure that feels better, but I had grown accustomed to his Herman Meunster look. At least it won't freak out his hair-cut gal anymore as I heard it did when he nonchalantly told her to "cut around the stitches from the 4 holes they drilled in my head, oh by the way, I had a brain aneurysm."

The doctor took him off the anti-vasospasm medicine and also lowered his steroid dosage. Dad will continue on the steroid for a little while longer as it prevents any brain swelling. He is still taking the pain meds as needed, which at this point, is about every 6 hours. The headaches are decreasing both in duration and intensity. This is a huge praise--thanks for your prayers!

Additionally, Dad got the order for outpatient rehab and will start that in the near future. The doctor did allude to that fact that possible over-aggressive weight lifting could have triggered this episode. He qualified that with some strenuous "maybes" but as you can imagine, Dad is wanting to err on the side of safety these days. Although it will never be completely certain what happened, there is enough circumstantial evidence to create a possible link. (Dad also confessed to pretending a hidden camera was watching him muscle up that last rep, at which point his great strength would be known throughout North America, but don't mention that I told you).

Dad's days consist of lots of rest, little spurts of work (authorized, don't worry), walking, and trying to regain his lost weight through a strict regimen of Mexican food and BBQ. He told me the other day that he got bored for the first time, which I took to be a great sign.

He is still not legal to drive until he is clear of the pain medication, so staying around home seems to suit him for now. The doctor continued to stress that the recovery will have ups and downs, but Dad looks GREAT. Another angiogram is scheduled for a couple of months from now, so hopefully he will use this time to forget the pain the last one caused him. The rest of us will be bracing for the aftermath.

More than anything, each time we talk, Dad mentions the overwhelming blessing he feels to simply have each day. I think at some point during every conversation he says, "Do you know that we have the best friends in the whole world?" And of course, I agree.

As we're in the middle of Holy Week, it's amazing to reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us on the cross. If that was the only blessing we received as believers, it was enough. Our family stands back in awe to think that Christ chose to bless us again, this time by sparing a life so precious to us. His work as he left the tomb was enough, but displaying his amazing power today is humbling to our very core. We are grateful beyond words.

Our hearts resonate with Joshua's, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

Monday, April 2, 2007

Body Worlds 3

For those of you tuning in to read Dad's post, just scroll below to "Chris Speaks." It is far more meaningful than what I am about to write, but I had some info I wanted to pass along as well as update the current recovery rally.

First things first, Dad is continuing to improve daily. That's not to say that each day is better than the last, but the overall trend is definitely on the upswing. He walked one lap around the block today in 10:47, according to his Timex. My instinct was to reach through the phone and take his watch away, but he spent over 20 years in Wheaton timing the exact same 3-mile run loop through his neighborhood so I'm letting this slide under the adage of "old habits die hard."

His pain seems to be shifting around his body...from neck, to back, to legs to head. After being completely out of commission for such a long time, Dad developed some aches and pains he wasn't previously aware of. Luckily, there's a possibility of getting some outpatient physical rehab in the near future. The hospital gave Dad some stretching bands, but he isn't sure what to do with them. I'm just hoping he doesn't injure himself further.

Now for the public service announcement: For any of you who have become unusually interested in the brain since this incident (as I have), I recommend going to see the Body Worlds exhibit at your local science museum. I know it is in Dallas, Chicago, and Phoenix right now ( as Brad and I had the opportunity to check it out while we were in Phoenix over the weekend. (I know I have been gone from the kids a lot lately, so please don't call the authorities). If you're not familiar, some guy used this plastification process after people died to get a shockingly clear view of the human body. It's like high school science books coming to life (or death, as it were). For a more detailed explanation (in case this seems shady) you might check the website above.

Anyway, it was amazing to see REAL BRAINS and all the little intricacies therein. It kind of reminded me of a spherical English muffin. There were several different cross-sections on display with all the veins, arteries, and even membranes labeled. It actually made sense why it took 7 days to drain all the blood from the sub arachnoid area (now that I know where the sub arachnoid area is located) after seeing it in greater depth.

Just a word of warning, though: This is not for the faint of stomach. About 10 minutes into our BodyWorlds journey, Brad mentioned that he was getting a little nauseous and wanted to look for some air. Moments later, I heard my name shouted and saw violent gesturing. Before I knew it, Brad's arm was slung around my shoulder like a wounded quarterback leaving the field. Thankfully, we made it to the only bench in the whole display where he discreetly put his head between his knees to avoid passing out altogether. After regaining composure, he high-tailed it out of the museum (past the entire digestive tract laid out end-to-end, no less) and graciously walked next door and waited for our dinner reservation.

To be fair, I too, had some woozy moments, but a few weeks in the ICU had toughened me a little bit.

In summary, if you want to learn more than you ever wanted to know about the human body or just pre-screen yourself for med school, BodyWorlds might be right up your alley.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Chris Speaks (at last)

How can one person tell so many people that he feels loved, prayed for, honored, carried along, uplifted, genuinely embraced, and fully enveloped through the bond that comes from the love and promises that we hold in common in Christ. I do not have the words - thank you.

Specifically, I want you to know that each blog message, email, phone call, word of encouragement, Bible verse, favorite story, prayer, remembrance, observation, face-to-face greeting, meal, lit candle, advice, care, personal experience was a soothing balm to my soul in my recovery – none was wasted, even the ones that may not have gotten through Blogger cyberspace. I felt them, I welcomed them; I eagerly anticipated them and listened carefully as they were read. How could I stay down with so many pulling for me? Shoot fire, I had a choice – lay up on the porch or get ready to start running with the big dogs again – I like running.

First, let me straighten out the “911 Incident” the other morning – I was a bit excited. It was like getting back into the ballgame and I took too big a lead off first. Two key points: first, I was being aggressive trying to get to second base (that’s good), but then I got picked off (that’s bad). Unfortunately, when you are picked off everybody sees which is embarrassing (including all the neighbors, what are they doing up at 6:00A). Anyway, I’m back to a more progressive routine and had a great day today. I got a haircut (it’s been three weeks and my hair was getting curly), a massage and a couple of good naps.

Through these weeks my daughter, Nicole, has penned the daily “Head Case Blog” with her keen awareness of God’s actions concerning faith, facts, good humor, personal testimony, success, failure, penetrating insights, and pithy wit often at my expense – I loved it.

Often people spoke of Team Galanos which is going to be my main point tonight. I may be out of my mind, but I am going to boast about this team, because it is a special team that met my life-threatening challenge that touched my closest loved ones.

“This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom
or the strong man boast in his strength
or the rich man boast in his riches,
But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 9:23-24

First, the Lord God Almighty is truly God and I am not. He is sovereign.
"O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and paths beyond tracing out." Rom 11:33

I am still here, to ponder the “why” is not my bent. I assume I am still usable therefore; I will strive to bring God glory through being a faithful servant that meets the needs of others.

My gratitude for Jesus expands daily – my savior, my Lord, my forgiver, my redeemer, my reconciler, my liberator, my surrogate on the cross, his imputed righteousness, his blood, his pain, his inheritance shared, and more and more and more.

And to know that the Holy Spirit confirms it, seals the agreement and then stays within me to inspire, to empower, to reveal, to motivate, to convict, to encourage, to make Jesus alive in me

This is the head of the Galanos team – by the way, it can be your team, too.

Hopefully, you were also able to tell from the Blog that the support of family and friends is beyond what is imaginable. I wrap my self in it daily.

Since it is not my disposition to live in the past, everything from here on will concern the future and my progress in getting back on the field as a full time player. Since it will be boring, I will provide a short weekly update on Monday until released by the doctor.

This is Nicole again: I've agreed to keep blogging a few times a week to give updates on Dad's progress if you're still interested (no hurt feelings if you're not). If you get tired of checking back constantly, you can always subscribe by entering your email to feedblitz on the top right. I'm off to look up what "pithy" means...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Head Fake

Just remember I said this was going to be a rollercoaster...

Around 6:30 this morning, the ambulance arrived at Mom & Dad's house due to some hyperventilation on Dad's part. After leaving the safe hospital womb, Dad had trouble sleeping. He was just a little anxious about Mom waking him up for meds during the night, getting the medication right (they are on a very strict regimen), and sleeping without being under the watchful eye of the doctors and nurses.

His temperature and blood pressure were both fluctuating quite a bit and it seems like nerves just kicked in and caused some panic. Mom dialed 9-1-1 and before they knew it, 6 paramedics from the Coppell Fire Department were all in the master bedroom with them. As a note of encouragement, 2 of the guys had been there for the original incident and were glad that things had worked out in Dad's favor.

The rest of the team (oh yes, did I forget to mention that two firetrucks accompanied the crew...with their sirens off, mercifully) checked his vitals and were very reassuring that this kind of episode is very normal for people returning home from the hospital after traumatic injuries.
Mom & Dad called Dr. Bidiwala who gently talked them through everything and reassured them that as long as Dad was pain free, he is okay right now. Mark generously spent his day off with Dad, just to be available. Dad was having some neck pain and other minor aches, which he's been told are par for the brain bleed.
Needless to say, the Special Guest Blogger will not be making his debut tonight...maybe tomorrow or later this week. However, he is reading his own blog now and continues to savor the words of laughter, love, and hope.

Tonight we are praying for:
*peace regarding the transition home
*rest (comfortable calm during the daytime)

Psalm 29:11
The Lord will give strength to His people,
The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Even though in some ways it feels like a step back to have something like this happen, we are blessed for the reminder of our dependence on God in every matter how small. He is great to continually draw us to Himself...just a small glimpse of his love for us and desire for a relationship. We hope you feel drawn to Him, too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Homeward Bound

Well, exactly 2 weeks after Dad's first-ever ambulance ride, he is free and clear to go home. Can I get an Amen?!

His neurosurgeon feels confident that he can continue his recovery there without incident. Of course, this looks like taking it easy for quite some time. That includes 90 days before he can begin running and working out again. On one hand, that's a little bit of a bummer. On the other hand, he couldn't run to the mailbox right now if he was being chased by a tiger so, oh well.

Sounds like he'll spend a lot of time strolling around the duck pond gaining strength. Rest, rest, and more rest are on the agenda, so if you are wanting to bombard him with visits, you might call and see how the patient is feeling before you drop in (that is not his request, but his over-protective daughter is just looking out for him).

Even though he'll take it slow, he should be at full strength before we know it. Dad's confidence might need more of a boost than his actual physical strength, but that will come with time as well.

Not sure if you knew, but Dad entered the ICU on Mark's birthday and is coming home the day before mine. That is the only celebration either of us need this year and the best gift of all.

Speaking of homeward bound, I am back in Denver today. The 3 charter members of my fan club met me at the airport with balloons and a charmingly hand-colored "Welcome Home, Mommy!" sign. Jackson and Lilly had grown a ton and Brad looked great (soccer coach uniform and all). It is wonderful to be home and I am tolerating more whining and crazy antics than usual. Brad is definitely a contender for the Dad-of-the-Year award for managing the kids, fixing Lilly's hair, showing our house, and working (sort of) while I was gone. God provided a great supply-line of friends who blessed us with many meals and lots of babysitting. They have encouraged us beyond words and we are forever indebted.

Dad has promised to actually write on his own blog tomorrow (so stay tuned), but I want to leave you with this verse. It so captures what this whirlwind of subarachnoid hemorrhages has been about...not just that Dad was miraculously healed, but that God is the one who we bless for showing Himself to us amidst these tough times.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
I Peter 1:6-7

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Victory Lap

Psalm 126:3

The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.

We (the caretakers) are overwhelmingly glad to report that Dad has had his best day thus far. His pain meds had been prescribed "as needed" which meant Dad basically had to have an excrutiating headache before he'd ask for more. However, we had a little pow-wow with the nurses last night and figured out that a four-hour pain relief regimen would do the trick. Sure enough, Dad's pain subsided in the dark hours of the morning and he (and his meds) kept it mercifully under control today.

Dad's main neurosurgeon was gone, so during rounds today his partner checked in and thought Dad looked great. "You really dodged a bullet," was his assessment of God's mercy in Dad's life. The doctor essentially gave him a knuckle bump and predicted he'd be hanging around the hospital just a little while longer. That said, even Dad is not quite ready to go home. What tomorrow holds is unknown and he wants to pass the 14-day mark (Tues/Wed) with flying colors and no vasospams, not to mention getting the headaches and pain management under control.

As you can see from the photo, Dad was cruising the halls in his 991's, pole in tow. He didn't seem weak, and as you know, he's been perfecting the Old Man Walk since his early 40's. Dad is taking it slow, recognizing the recovery will be done over weeks, not days. We are ready to interrogate the doctor tomorrow with a few more specifics as to a rehab regimen. But as another gracious gift, all the doctors feel a complete recovery is to be expected.

At church this morning, we were reminded that our joy is in our salvation, and for that grace alone, we overflow with grateful and thankful hearts. God's abundant blessing in extending Dad's life is just icing on the cake--and how sweet it is! If you need a jolt of God's goodness, or just to gain some perspective, check out and click on the sermon from 3/25. At the end of the service, Mom lit a candle...not for Dad, but as a light of praise to Christ, so all who saw it would know that God works miracles in lives even today.

As a sidenote, we (Brad & Nicole) also sold our house. Nothing is too hard for God.