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.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The End of the Beginning

Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

As threatened, Dad finally moved off the ICU floor up to a luxurious suite on 16. That may sound sarcastic, but with wood floors, a lovely dining table and a private bathroom, this is the good life--a far cry from the dark, loud, community ICU. He is unhooked from most monitoring devices, but has a few tubes left to pump fluids and the all-important pain medicines. The hospital gown is gone in favor of cotton t-shirts and pajama pants and on his head, the Texas Tech baseball cap. Still tucked in a bag are the New Balance 991s...maybe for another day.

Although some things like clothes seem more "normal," the pounding headaches continue. As the nurses warned, this is definitely a rollercoaster of up and down moments. Dad has tried to describe the head pain, but says it's something pretty pressure is just building up behind his eyes with no relief. When he gets the right combination of medicine, it seems to work, but often leaves him so woozy and "out of it" that it seems just as bad. Ugh.

Dad is still within the critical 14-day period, so this is what to expect. Each day the doppler reveals that the vasospams are non-existent, so this is good, but somewhat confusing to be in so much pain without spasms.

We covet your prayers for God to ease Dad's pain. As Dad said, "Let's keep the hammer down on the praying." As family and friends, we keep wanting to hear the official "We're out of the woods," from the doctors...but those words have yet to come. While everything looks overwhlemingly positive, the doctors remind us that there are no guarantees. Of course, that's true for everything in life, but it is a different reality when various medical professionals are using those words every day.

The blessing of God's promises through his Word have sustained us. The morning of Dad's hemorrage, Mom wrote down and prayed the verse at the top of today's blog. Feeling anxious about several situations, she prayed through each one and surrendered them to God. Little did she know that God was preparing her for the ride of her life. Still, it's amazing how quickly we want to choose to worry about bumps in the road instead of continuing to trust God. We are really learning how faith and trust are renewed every single day and how trust is a choice.

We know you are praying and for that we are so thankful. As with all rollercoaster rides, there are moments of delight, terror, confusion and anticipation...and moments you feel them all at once. Thanks for riding the rollercoaster with us and thanks again for lifting Dad before the Lord, who does all things well.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ready, Set...Sit

John 1:16
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.

Much to our surprise, when Mom and I walked into Dad's room this morning, he looked almost odd without the brain drain. That's more tubes pouring directly out of his cranium. Now we just see the attractive shaved head, stitches, and blue Sharpie markings. (Between you and me, it's not a great look).

The doctor came in at 8 a.m., pulled that ventric out and put a couple of stitches in to close some holes. He is confident the headache pain is coming from some lingering blood, but he isn't concerned about the cranial pressure anymore. This is good news. The CT scan was clear (thanks for your prayers!) and for that we are most grateful.

We're also very hopeful that tomorrow Dad might leave the ICU. He is reminded of his blessed condition every moment as he is the only patient in several dozen beds who is conscious in this unit. We have seen many families leave in tears, never to return. It's been a humbling, tough, but necessary place to live for the past 11 days.

The doctors are adamant that Dad needs a quiet, slow recouperation. As you know, this is in contrast to his gregarious personality, but we are all observing that even a few minutes of activity is extremely tiring. For example: Dad sat on the side of the bed today--his first upright movement in quite sometime. There is significant dispute whether the time on the side of the bed was 15 minutes or 1 minute. Mom and I checked with the physical therapist and her report was on the very short end of that contrast to the 15 minutes Dad reported. Hmmmm...

We've been impressed with his patience in taking one day at a time. Other than when he first woke up, Dad hasn't asked how long the hospital stay, recovery, and restricted activity will be. I know he his probably chomping his lip to resist asking, but his restraint alone is a testimony of God-given contentment in this uncomfortable situation.

We thank you again for your prayers and love. That encouragement is lifting Dad's spirits when it's easy to be low. As he becomes more alert and has fewer hours of severe pain, he seems to have more time to contemplate where he is and what recovery will look like. And as we all know, thinking too hard can get you in trouble.

As you approach the throne of grace to find mercy & help (Hebrews 4:16) please pray:
*Dad will be patient to rest quietly
*He will have a positive attitude
*Decreased pain

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hold On

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot, and hang on." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Dad is definitely hanging on today and actually suggested the above quote...the morning was pretty low-key, but the infamous headaches were back this afternoon in full force.

This morning came a somewhat unwanted "T" party--OT's, PT's, ST's...all pestering Dad to make sure everything is still working. He is able to do his speech & physical therapy, but as you can imagine, he's very weak. Despite that, when the therapists all say they can't believe he's 61, he is good to go for another hour.

The neurosurgeon came by this afternoon, hoping to remove the brain drain. However, Dad was right in the middle of some intense head pain, so instead the doctor drained 20 cc's of fluid right before our very eyes. Who knew he had so much to spare? The headache pain didn't decrease, so the doctor decided to wait another day before setting dad free. The brain monitoring is what's keeping Dad in the ICU, so getting that removed brings hope of a normal room and disconnecting a few thousand cords.

Tomorrow morning we await the results of another CT scan. The doctors are making sure there is no water, spinal fluid, or blood in places it shouldn't be. Some kind of steriod was ordered to break up what might be left of some blood remnants in his brain. I guess blood can be pretty irritating when it hangs out in the wrong places.

Dr. Bidiwala emphasized agan that Dad has had 2 gold-standard angiograms read by the best radiologists in the business, so he is quite confident that a re-bleed is unlikely at this point.

DISCLAIMER: I want to reiterate again that we are not medical professionals. We are trying to relay info the best we can, but if you know more than we do, don't get worried until you call and clear things up.

We are relying on God for patience and perseverance today. Thanks for your prayers and please pray:
*headaches will lessen
*CT scan will come back clear
*again, rest & peace of mind and body

So many of you have shared this verse with is our prayer.
Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

That goes for all of you, too...
He is with you, He is your God, He will strengthen, help, & uphold you in whatever you encounter each day, no matter how big or how small. He is God. He can do it.

We love you all...dearly. You are God's vessels (hopefully without vasospams).
Carla, Nicole, Brad, Mark & Kari

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"The Longest Day"

We are still basking in the grace of the mysterious, negative, no-sign-of-anything angiogram from earlier this morning. Little did we know what a blessing the news would be to help Dad cope with the incredible pain he's been in today. Seems like after having the dye blasted through his body, being clamped to a bed, and immobile for a few hours he's just having a tough day. Knowing that his brain is, on some level, okay seemed to make the physcial hurt somewhat bearable.

When I asked him what to call the blog tonight, he suggested "The Longest Day." He is still taking plenty of pain medication but discomfort, lack of sleep, and the intensity of the angiogram attributed to feeling low. He said he felt like he took two steps back, which the nurses assured us is normal.

The recovery from a brain anuerysm (which is what we're calling it for simlicity's sake...telling people that his brain just bled and we have no idea why freaks them out a little) is more like a rollercoaster than a steady climb uphill. He should expect to have plenty of great days followed by terrible ones--just the nature of the beast.

Mark should be up here soon to encourage dad and hang out by his side until he falls asleep. He takes pride in being the King of the Night Shift. Kari brought Rylie up earlier & Dad got to squeeze her adorable one year-old hand. True joy.

The thought of God's intervention in such a serious situation still takes our breath away. Our hearts are humbled each time another doctor (many of dad's colleagues in the healthcare field included) write or email to tell us dad has defied conventional medicine. God's grace is enough.

Please pray:
*relief from the pain
*rest for the mind and body
*wisdom for the doctor in determining the next steps

Following is the verse that Dad had been praying for our family regarding the sale of our house. I am far more privileged to share it with you in light of Dad's health.

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

We hope it is clear, but we'll say it every chance we get: To God be the glory!

Negative, Ghostrider

Just wanted to give a quick update to share an answered prayer.

Well, the staff whisked Dad into his angiogram around 8:30 this morning. After several "shots" the radiologist couldn't find "anything." He wasn't even able to find the exact location of the vessel structure where all this drama occured. The radiologist said the vessels might have clotted themselves and the excessive bleeding was due to dad taking a baby aspirin every day. Lest you think this blood is a figment of our imagination, the CT scans from Baylor at Grapevine displayed copious amounts of blood. and we did watch it drain out of his head for 6 days.

At that time, they determined the bleeding originated near the top of his head, as opposed to the brain stem, which provides a more hopeful prognosis.

Dad is conscious, but in quite a bit of pain (after being clamped to the bed) after the angiogram. He is unable to get comfortable or really sleep, so please pray these would be short-lived side effects. His head is very uncomfortable as he can't really move, so we are praying for rest. They are monitoring his blood pressure, other meds, etc.

As mom and I ran dad's route around the pond before dawn, she reminded me of something Tony Evans shared with her seminary class. "Instead of telling God about your problems, try telling your problems about God." We told that angiogram (and any ducks who were listening) that our God is much bigger than it and He is soverign over everything.

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Monday, March 19, 2007

On Deck Circle: Angiogram

"To live by faith means to have a quiet reliance upon God to provide a solution, a firm assurance that God planned this for me and that he could stop it at any time, a constant surrender to God even when everything looks bad, waiting for God to act, without saying, 'How long?' "

A dear friend emailed us the above quote that Dad shared with her many years ago. How fitting that she was able to encourage him with the same words. God is good.

By all accounts, today was a good day. Dad's neurosurgeon even used the word "good" when talking about his progress. On that note, he ordered up an angiogram ( for tomorrow. We are interested to see the results...whether they can find the anuersym, a different source of the bleed, or anything. It is starting to seem like spontaneous combustion of some kind (our editorial thoughts) and we are learning that every answer to any question about the brain is "There's a lot about the brain we don't know." Luckily, Dad refrained from asking the doctor why he went to medical school.

The headaches still come and go (more coming than going) but it seems like the doctors are figuring out a good pain medication regimen. Nothing eases them completely, but dad has more good moments than he's had in days. It's dad's third spasm-free day...much praise to God!!

Before we arrived this morning, the speech pathologist came in to perform the cognitive testing. After Dad whizzed through the first few questions, he hijacked the test by insisting they discuss her favorite Chicago restaurants (I guess she was a native). From what I understand, he navigated her all through Little Italy and Greektown...with a stop by Morton's. She got the picture and decided he didn't have to explain how to make change from a dollar. Kidding aside, we completely realize that Dad seemingly has lost none of his mental capacity (insert joke.) Statistically, this is unheard of and we can only point to God's goodness and grace as the source of this blessing.

The brain catheter is officially clamped, meaning that he is now regulating cerebral pressure on his own. His numbers have looked very normal so far...yea!!! If the angiogram comes back without anything alarming, it's possible that the brain drain could be removed sometime later this week.

Dad is sleeping okay...not great, but it is the Trauma ICU unit after all...not exactly sleep conducive conditions. He is cared for by the most amazing team of doctors and nurses whom we've come to adore. (Kari is giving them all Easter baskets, which we're hoping helps continue his excellent quality of care.)

I cannot say it enough times...each email & post bring Dad joy beyond what you can imagine. As I hope you can tell, his sense of humor is intact and he is hanging tough. God is using each of you in the blogosphere to lift his spirits, remind him of his Savior's promises, and provide him with a tangible source of love. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and may God richly bless you.

As you lift up Dad before the Lord, please pray:
*no complications with the angiogram
*doctor's wisdom in reading the angiogram
*good rest

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." Proverbs 3:24

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blogging 101

I've been asked by many folks of a certain age group to explain a little more on how to comment and interact on a blog. I know many people want to leave comments and are finding it a little tricky, so I will give my best summary & hope it helps.

As a sidenote: we are reading all blog comments and emails you send us directly to Dad. Either way is fine...but I know some of you are wanting to interact on the blog, so this might be of aid.

Typically on a blog, an article is posted for all to read. Most blogs are accessible, like this one, by simply knowing the web address ( . Readers don't directly chat with each other, but leave comments responding to the original article. As the comments grow in number, sometimes readers respond to other comments and many rabbit trails emerge. Probably not likely on this blog, but that happens on many other ones.

As you've probably gathered, the most recent articles are always at the top of the blog scroll down to catch up if you are a few days behind.

If you want to leave comments, simply click on the "comments" link at the bottom of each blog entry. You will be prompted to enter a username & password. If you've never signed up with
Google, you'll need to sign up (not to read the blog, but just if you want to post). This is free & commits you to nothing. You will select a username (or "gmail" address) and password, fill out some basic info...and there you go. (If it's any comfort, Google has one of the best spam filters out there & in my experience, I have yet to get any).

Then, you will post the comment below whichever article/post you've just read. Someone said they didn't want to "hog the blog," but posting every day is not being's just passing along a new thought/message each day...and trust me, Dad loves to hear them.

Comments can be short, long, or in have at it.

Mom thinks I'm a "computer genius" which tells you where her computer abilities lie.

Thanks again for each will never know how Dad smiles when I say "Guess who wrote in?" and share your precious thoughts. Seriously...thank you.

Day of Rest

But now, this is what the Lord says - he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:1-3

Well, the fabulous news is that Dad had another day with no spasms. WHOO HOO! This is amazing news and we feel so fortunate. Although still critical, each day that passes without incident is positive. We had prayed specifically for this and God has blessed dad with quiet blood vessels.

Also, dad has had an increased appetite...requesting chocolate milkshakes & Mexican food (to no one's surprise, I'm sure). Although the quantites he eats are small, any sustinance at this point is great.

It seems that after 6 days of draining blood, it is mostly out of his brain. From our understanding, the spinal fluid washes out the blood. He's averging about 130 cc's (however much that is) of spinal fluid drain each day. The doctors regulate the speed & pressure at which it drains through his blowhole (the doctor actually said that). They will keep the pressure gauge in for awhile as it continues to return to normal pressure and drain out any straggling blood cells.
We are learning on a whole new level how complicated and intricate the brain is. There are so many nuances and reactions that doctors don't fully understand. Dad's doctor today was a Greek guy from Chicago, so we figured he had something going for him even if he couldn't answer all of our brain questions.

Dad also slept for about 2 four-hour stretches last night...far more than he's gotten all week. He looked more rested today and *almost* seemed chipper (it's all relative, I guess!) We sneaked a cell phone in for him to say hi to Brad...I think it made both of their days.

So tonight, we go before the throne of our Merciful Savior and are thankful for all of you who echo our hearts. Please pray:
*for a good attitude
*that he would take one day at a time
*the doctors would have wisdom to come up with an effective plan

Not to be overlooked...Dad's wonderful physical therapist is named Lazarus.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"I've Got a Headache This Big..."

Lamentations 3:22-24 (The Message)
"God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left."

Saturday afternoon
More than dad's health, we are praising God for his Word, which has held us up with encouragement. We've shared each precious scripture with Dad and his blood pressure literally drops as he rests in the Lord and his truth. We are praying for God to bless each of you in gratitude for your prayers...our family will never be able to adequately thank you, but we offer our praises to God for His people and their love and trust in Him.

First, the praises! Dad had the doppler test (probably not the technical name, but that's what we call it) today and it showed NO SIGNS OF SPASMS (! This is huge. Our eyes were teary with praise as they read the results. He had minor spasms yesterday, so for them to subside today is amazing.

We are praying for several spasm-free days so they can perform the next cerebral angiogram. That is a very invasive procedure so they need extreme confidence that his blood vessels have settled down. But as today is all we have, we are resting in God's grace.

On the flip side, Dad is in more pain than he's been in since the incident first occured. The doctors performed another CT scan this morning to rule out more bleeding. Basically, they just look at us & say "Sorry." When you've had a brain bleed, there is just a significant amount of head pain. But, it WILL go away. I'm not sure if Dad fully believes that at this point, but we (and more importantly, the doctors) assure him it will. He's on very strong pain meds, but even those barely take the edge off. Again, scripture and your words are what give him rest.

He is unable to eat very much, but we are trying to encourage him as best we can, knowing that a feeding tube is looming if he can't choke something down. Mark was able to entice him with a few bites of a hamburger from Houston's last night, but today he hasn't been able to eat/drink much more than water.

So again, we humbly ask for your prayers:
*That dad would sleep soundly
*Headache pain would subside
*Spasms would completely stop
*Peace of mind about work

Right now, Mom is reading dad the story from I Kings--Prophets of Baal v. Elijah. He's loving it. And for those of you who've asked, Mom is great. We are all blessed to experience someone who so fully trusts the Lord with every detail of life.

A sweet friend emailed me this verse.
“I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for you have considered
My trouble; You have known my soul in adversities , and have not
Shut me up into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a
Wide place.” Psalm 31: 7-8

Friday, March 16, 2007

10 Days of Prayer

Jeremiah 32:27
"I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"

The doctors are still unsure if dad's bleed was an anuerysm or another kind of brain bleed. But it is classified a subarachnoid hemorrage ( and days 4-14 are critical.

We are on Day 4 of this journey and the vasospams (i think i spelled it wrong in another entry) tend to peak during this time. Most likely, they will peak & then drop off, at which point they can clamp the catheter in Dad's brain. At this point, the neurosurgeon says dad needs to stay put another 10 days until there is no threat of spasms. The vasospams can cause more bleeding, which we want to avoid. All that to say, the next 10 days are critical.

They are still going to repeat the cerebral angiogram early next week to try to determine if the bleeding resulted from an anuerysm or something else.

We asked Dad's nurse, Julie, how to pray and here's what she said. Pray that:
*he wouldn't have the vasospams
*he would avoid infection during a lengthy hospital stay
*all his medications would be effective
*he would remain encouraged and his spirits would be up (it's a little isolated & interesting down here as most ICU patients aren't even conscious)
*dad would sleep soundly

Dad is very conscious, alert, and joking like usual. He knows all the medical staff's names and all about their families. He watches NCAA basketball games, but got a little down when Texas Tech bowed out early.

Friday morning

First of all, we are so grateful for your prayers, comments, and verses. Mom & I were with dad this morning and his spirits were low. As you can imagine, Dad is slowly realizing his condition and how long this recovery is going to be. The thoughts and especially verses that you sent were so encouraging to him! Thank God for the 21st century where i can fire up the laptop in his hospital room & read your encouraging emails & scripture to him. When he hears Bible verses, he just rests in knowing that God is in control. Did I say it already?....thank you!!!

Medically, dad is just feeling "blah." He has a headache worse than we can imagine & the meds he's on are just not fun. We are waiting for the neurosurgeon to come in this afternoon & interpret the doppler from this morning. He's also supposed to have his cognitive testing done, so please be praying that the results will show him at full capacity. Thus far, the therapists have said we'll see any deficiencies right now...instead of a few weeks or months down the road. Hopefully, this will be pretty conclusive.

We'll let you know what the doctor says later, but for now, thank you for praying.
Psalm 139:5
"You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Brain Drain Continues

Today they are checking for cognitive, phsyical, and speech defecits & are finding nothing. So far, they've found no even remembered his computer passwords, which is more than I can say for myself in even the healthiest state.

He is very groggy from pain medication and is having trouble getting comfortable. We are reminding him that he's in the hospital and things are just a little different from home. They will continue to monitor his brain for vassel (sp?) spasms using a doppler device (like an ultrasound). Some amount of spasms are normal, but they are expected to peak between 4-7 days, so he'll be in the Trauma ICU until at least Monday.

Notably, all doctors and nurses are saying dad's situation is absolutely exceptional. Dr. Bidiwala (the neurosurgeon) said that he has only had 3 other cases where they thought it was an anuerysm and wasn't...and he drains brains like plumbers unclog toilets. Every single medical professional who visits with dad can't help but see God's miraculous healing because they lack medical explanation for his condition.

We so appreciate your prayers and love. Dad is overwhelmed with all of the people expressing care for him. He couldn't believe all the people we'd had contact with and he also couldn't believe he'd told us to call everyone. "Really," he said, "I told you to call all those people?"

We are currently camped out at Fort Galanos in the Baylor ICU lobby, googling Dad's doctors (so far, they're all legit) and medical terms. Mom has been amazingly (but not surprisingly) steady with peace that comes from knowing God.

We'd love to share your thoughts, prayers, verses you've been praying, etc. with dad, so feel free to post them on this site or shoot us an email ( Mom isn't really home to check her email, so contacing me or kari ( might be best.

Our prayer and promise from Isaiah: Isaiah 41:10 "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

We love you and thank God for you!
Carla, Nicole, Brad, Mark & Kari...for Chris

One Long Night/Day/Night

Hi friends & family~ We're creating this page to keep you all updated on Dad's journey from the YMCA on Monday, March 12th, to the Trauma ICU at Baylor Medical downtown Dallas where he currently resides.

This first post might be a little longer, then hopefully we'll add periodic updates as the doctors and staff monitor his condition & progress.

Mark, Mom, & Dad were working out at the YMCA. After his last set of military press, Dad felt like his neck was suddenly hurting and his forehead was in immense pain. He lay down on a mat, then told Mark to call someone. We all know if Dad was asking for help, the pain must have been unbearable.

The ambulance took him to the Baylor ER at Grapevine where they waited for several hours managing his pain and waiting to do a cat scan. He got a CT scan about 12:30 a.m., which determined that there were incredible amounts of blood on his brain. (those of you in medical professions will have to excuse my lack of technical writing ability & knowledge). The original determination was that he had a brain anuerysm and needed to be transported to Baylor Medical downtown Dallas. It was too foggy to go by helicopter, so an ambulance rushed him to "Big Baylor" about 2:00 a.m. He was admitted to the ER where they scheduled a brain catheterization to relieve the pressure.

TUESDAY a.m.,March 13
Around 5 in the morning, Dr. Shaad Bidiwala ( did a "procedure" that involved drilling through his skull and putting a drain deep into dad's brain to relieve pressure. Apparently, the range of normal brain pressure is between 5 and 15. Dad's measured at 65. Ouch.

Around 9, a vascular interventional neuroradiologist, Dr. Layton ( ) angiogram. We prayed very specifically that they would find nothing other than the blood when they went in. The amazing miracle was that it didn't appear to be an anuerysm. It was either an anuerysm that had clotted itself off (very rare) or what he called a benign perimesencephalic hemorrage. Basically, they found nothing except the bleeding. God graciously answered our prayers...all glory to Him!

The doctors were and are inconclusive about what exactly happened. They may have clarity at some point, but the doctors do say it was completely unrelated to weight lifting or any specific pre-existing condition. A total mystery.

At 6 a.m. they performed another CT scan to determine if the bleeding had continued. There was still blood (the draining process takes awhile) but there was nothing new. Yea! He was sedated through an anesthetic with more tubes & wires coming out of him than a surround sound TV. Wednesday morning, they let him try breathing on his own, which went well. He woke up very confused, with his last memory of lifting weights at the Y. He was very weak in speech, but recognized us & was able to say he was in a lot of pain. Throughout the day, he was working to piece together what happened. He was somewhat disoriented, but obviously that is normal for a brain bleed! The nurses kept telling us they have NEVER seen anyone awake the day after a brain bleed. Again, GOD IS GOOD!!!!!

Dad's first question to the doctor was "When can I go back to work?" followed quickly by, "When can I start running again?" The doctor commented that he would be tied up for quite awhile (pun intended, I believe).