Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Memories and Milestones

Posted: June 20, 2017 in Family Life
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Memory is a funny thing.  Some of the things we hope to remember often elude us, while other more difficult or painful memories seem to continually resurface.  But then there is the practice of purposeful remembering.  Scripture continually points us to this practice, which was instituted by God for the people of God.  And the point of purposeful remembering throughout Scripture is for the people of God to focus on what God has done and continues to do.  His grace, mercy and provision continually abounds to His people.  So we are called to purposefully remember His forgiveness, faithfulness, promises and deliverance in spite of our (mankind’s) continual pattern of rebellion.

It was on this day, June 19, three years ago, that we are purposefully remembering.  It is colea day we have marked to remember as one of the many days where God showed His faithfulness to our family and to our son, Cole, specifically.  It was this day where after the initial diagnosis of Perthes disease, where I watched my son get rolled down a hallway to the operating suite at Children’s Hospital of Birmingham.

And while some of the initial feelings have either faded or been replaced the memories still remain… purposefully.  It would be easy to take these memories and put them in a storage container labeled “The Past” and just move on.  After all, Cole’s future looks promising and his daily functioning is beyond what we could have even processed sitting in that hospital waiting room three years ago.

So why remember?  Because God calls us to.

coleOur story, and more specifically Cole’s story, is wrapped up in a greater narrative that God is telling.  It’s a story of the amazing design of a Creator, the sin and brokenness (including Perthes disease) of a people and the beauty of redemption that comes through the hero of this story – Jesus Christ.  And the good news doesn’t even end with the hero… it ends with that same Creator God, making “all things new.”  What’s broken will be restored once and for all.

That’s why we remember.  Because when we do, we are telling THAT story through OUR story.  Cole’s story is one of a faithful God who has amazing plans and purposes for His children, even if they are plans we wouldn’t have chosen.  And they are good plans, even though some of the stories don’t seem to have happily ever after endings.

It’s been a whirlwind of a three-plus year journey for Cole.  But it’s been one most certainly marked by God’s faithfulness.  We’ve done a major surgery, a spica cast, a wheelchair, a walker, a cast removal, physical therapy, a second surgery, another wheelchair, another walker, many trips to the radiologist for x-rays, multiple consults and follow-up appointments in Alabama… just to name a few memories and milestones on the medical side.  Then of course there’s been milestones in life… birthdays to celebrate, the ability to play and compete on sports team and to run and simply enjoying being a kid.

 

All that to say… we purposefully remember.  We celebrate the memories and the milestones of a good God with a good plan for Cole.  The journey’s not over.  There’s more follow-up visits to come as we journey through the remainder of the disease and healing process.  But we’ll remember along the way.  And it’s with gratitude that we remember all of you that have walked this road with us through encouragement, prayers and your support.  We are thankful.  God is good.

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Hope Renewed

Posted: January 9, 2017 in Family Life
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Hope is really an amazing factor in life.  In fact, I couldn’t imagine life without hope.  Praise God, it is through a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ that we can truly understand and have hope.

It’s been awhile since we updated you on Cole’s journey with his Perthes Disease.  And I guess to a degree that is good thing, since there hasn’t been much to report since his surgery this past June.  He was back on his feet pretty quickly and seemingly back to life as “normal” which has been pretty amazing and we never want to take “normal” for granted.  Especially considering where we were a few years ago when we started this journey.

And while we can honestly say there has been a foundation of hope all through this journey… it has understandably been dim at times.  But praise God when our hope is renewed.

Cole traveled up to Birmingham for his 6-month post-surgery check up with Dr. Killian over the Christmas break.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there with him this time as I was with a team of college students from our church serving in Haiti.  It was hard being away, but I was so excited to get a good report even while in Haiti.

Dr. Killian looked at the x-rays and progress the disease is making and more importantly, Cole’s recovery.  Everything is looking good and on track but we still have some more time ahead of us on this journey.  His hip is healing nicely as the bone continues to grow back and solidify.  He does still present a leg length discrepancy, although it is smaller than last time.  Dr. Killian wasn’t too worried about this and we won’t make any decisions until after some growth spurts and an evaluation when he is around 13 years old.

So after some looks at his flexibility, walking and running… Cole was… off and running.  And that is how he has spent this fall anyways.  He was cleared to play flag football earlier this fall and he had a great time out there learning the sport and competing.  Right now we are in the middle of soccer season.  So needless to say, his leg is getting quite the workout – all the time.  And he was excited to hear that he won’t need another check-up for 18 months!

But that just affirms and renews our hope. Our God is such a faithful God.  We resonate with the words of the Psalmist, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).  And we also echo Psalm 147:11 as we have learned that “the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  

Thanks, as always, for following us and praying for us in this journey of hope!

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IMG_2149If you are familiar with the Bible, then I’m sure one of the more familiar stories is Jesus’ encounter with Peter one night out on a lake.  The winds and waves were buffeting the boat the disciples were in and suddenly they see what appears to be a ghost walking towards them on the water.  Jesus speaks up and gives one of his more frequent commands – to all of us as his followers – by saying, “Don’t be afraid.”  Whew.  Not a ghost.

Then Peter, in one of the more brazen moves as a disciple, says “Jesus, tell me to come out to you on the water.”  And Jesus simply says, “Come.”  What an awesome invitation.

And next thing you know, Peter gets up off his seat in the boat, swings a leg over the edge and starts walking to Jesus.  Of course, we know the story goes on to add a bit of terror and sinking to Peter’s story, but Peter did what many of us feel so paralyzed to do and that’s simply to stand up and walk… in faith.

Not to over-spiritualize the moment, but today was an exciting day as Cole was able to stand and walk.  He didn’t have to leave a boat in the middle of a storm, but he did leave behind the safety of his wheelchair.  So he’s gone vertical with the aid of his walker!

Now he is mobile, with his immobilizer and walker… and like Peter’s crazy courage, Cole is filled with the same spirit… much to his mother and I’s dismay at times!  Because now that he is mobile on his own, we just have to be very careful that he doesn’t fall for risk of breaking his femur (since he has holes all the way through in a few places).  And for those of you that know Cole… careful isn’t usually an adjective that lands in the same sentence with his name.

We were also able to take the dressing off and get our first look at the scar, but we’ll save you the pictures on that one!

Needless to say, we appreciate your prayers for his safety and healing.  By God’s good grace, it’s been going far better than we anticipated!  We’ve got a big month of healing ahead still, but he is making progress days by day and for that we are incredibly grateful!

“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! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

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It’s really hard to define normal in a household with four boys.  Seems like everything is always changing.  And Cole’s “normal” has most certainly changed over these last two years.  But we’ve learned to roll with the punches and embrace each change that leads to a new normal.

Recovery here at Brooke’s parents has been far better than recovery in the hospital room, but this was true last time as well.  Cole is learning to adjust to his very limited mobility, although he has his moments of non-compliance.  Like when Brooke turned her back yesterday and then returned to find Cole had moved himself from the couch to his wheelchair.  He’s not fully understanding why he just can’t get up and go.

But the new normal has him sleeping fairly well through the night.  Each night has been better.  He’s limited in sleeping positions, but we’ve managed to sleep without his leg immobilizer on, which I know has been a welcomed breather (for him and for his leg)!

During the day, we are thankful for conversation, brothers, grandparents and technology.  We move from movies, to games, to the iPad, to card games, to books and then wheel around the house from time to time.  Cole is getting pretty adept at maneuvering by himself in the wheelchair.

Praise God that his pain has been very minimal.  In fact, we aren’t using much of his prescription pain medicine.  This has been a huge answer to prayer.  As has been the progress of his recovery since we have been discharged from the hospital.  So again, thanks for following our journey, supporting us and praying with us.  We are believing God for continued health and healing for Cole because of His grace and goodness.  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

There was a familiar face standing at our door.  Dr. Killian, who has guided us, counseled us and been a phenomenal pediatric orthopedic surgeon for Cole had finished the surgery and stood ready to give us the report.  All in all, the surgery was fairly quick and successful.  In one hand, he held and x-ray and in the other a baggie with Cole’s hardware.

As he proceeded to share with us the medical details of the procedure, our hearts breathed a sigh of relief just in hearing the words, “Cole did great and he’s waking up in recovery. He’ll be back in here in about 45 minutes.”

But the big takeaway from the surgery is that the healing of the hip is continuing while the disease enters the final stage.  There is about 20% of his femoral head that hasn’t fully grown back yet.  That hip as it has grown back is nearly double the size of his healthy hip.  There isn’t really an explanation or solution… just something to watch as he continues to grow.  But the size may cause problems in the future and lead to an hip replacement at a later age.  There was still some inflammation in the hip surrounding some of his tendons.  But praise God, everything was successful and Cole’s prognosis is good.

After a while, the next sight we saw was a hospital bed with an alert Cole, complete with popsicle in hand heading our way.  We were overjoyed to see him and to see him doing well.  As he transitioned into the room, his vitals looked good and we were given the go ahead for discharge.  But that is when a wave of pain set in and we decided to stick around a bit to let him rest and get another dosage of pain medicine in.

So for the foreseeable future we’ve got stitches (for about 2 weeks) and stillness (for about 4 weeks).  Honestly, he isn’t excited about either.  But since he has a void in his bones where the screws were, he is at a high risk for the bone breaking with any impact or fall.  He’s fitted with a leg immobilizer, walker and wheelchair.  So stillness here we come.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  It’s a prayer I pray over my own life as slowing down and finding rest in God is often hard for me to do.  And while this verse speaks of a spiritual stillness, my prayer for Cole is that in this period of ‘forced’ physical stillness, He will find a God who is with him, loving him, healing him and sitting with him over the next month.

Thank you for your prayers today.  The calls, texts, FB messages and simply following us on this journey mean the world to Brooke and I and also to Cole.

Growing Pains

Posted: May 25, 2016 in Family Life
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It’s hard to believe it was time to load up and make the trek to Alabama again.  But it was time for Cole’s scheduled check up for the year, which also served as his pre-op appointment.  So we hit the road for Montgomery – grateful to see Dr. Killian at his office there and at least save a little extra time and mileage on the road.  And it was beneficial for me as well to do a site visit for our Mission Montgomery team that will launch out later this summer.

image2So for yet another time, Cole climbed up onto the x-ray table to give the doctor a look at what is taking place on the inside.  We are amazed each time at God’s faithful hand of healing on his hip.  The x-rays continued to show progress and some concern.  Progress in that the hip bone is continuing to grow back and there is only a small section of the old bone that is dying and being pushed out for the remainder of the new growth.  The area of concern was the size of the injured hip which as it is growing back is considerably larger than his other hip.  However, Dr. Killian reassured us that this was ok and no need to worry.

Cole has been experiencing pain in his legs most days, especially as he lays down to sleep at night.  We haven’t known if this has been his usual activity level (recess, PE, playing with friends and baseball) or maybe a problem with his new shoes that don’t have a lift.  But again, we were reassured that this is likely just a part of the process.

As for surgery preparations, everything is looking good and on schedule for his next surgery which will take place this summer in Birmingham.  Even though we knew this day was coming, surgery still isn’t a word that we like to hear or speak.  But it is time to open his hip back up and take out the hardware.  No more setting off metal detectors for this guy.  Cole will have his plate and six screws removed.

It’s hard to believe that it has almost been two years from his initial surgery.  He has come such a long way and we are incredibly grateful to God for His healing hand on Cole’s life and guidance of our family on this journey.  And even with the next surgery, we know we still do have a long way to go.  But His past faithfulness serves as a strong foundation that we will continue to stand on.

Thanks again for following us, praying for us and supporting us on this journey.  It has been marked by pain, but Cole has found, and so has our family, that growth through pain truly does lead to gain.  I’m reminded of these words from the book of James, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4).  God in His lovingkindness sends His children trials in order, ultimately, to make us perfect and complete.  We see this pattern throughout Scripture and can attest to it in our own lives.  So we press on, knowing Jesus it at work growing us through the pain.

All throughout this journey, days have had major significance.  There have been monumental days – diagnosis day, surgery day, cast removal day as well as seemingly more mundane days.

But I’m always reminded of what Scripture teaches us in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Days are important and they aren’t guaranteed, but they are a gift.  We are admonished to number our days – to remember, cherish, celebrate and use them to the fullest.

It’s hard for us to believe that a good part of this journey is in the rear view mirror.  Some days it seems like the surgery was only yesterday and other days it seems like forever ago.  Time and this journey marches on – punctuated by check ups every six months.

Last week was one of those check ups.  We travelled to Birmingham to see Dr. Killian and have Cole’s most recent x-rays reviewed and to check on the progress of the healing of his hip.  We were encouraged to hear that Cole’s healing is progressing nicely.  The hip is continuing to grow back and there is only a little bit of old bone left that the new will push out and grow in its place.  That hip joint is growing back larger than his other joint, but this wasn’t a big concern at the moment.

Dr. Killian checked Cole’s flexibility (which is limited by the plate) and also checked him walking and running. We were glad to know that he won’t require a lift on his shoe anymore (and Cole was especially glad to hear that)!

As far as the future goes, we are on track for Cole’s next surgery being this summer.  This will be a procedure to remove the plate and six screws from his hip/leg.  The x-rays showed no indication that it would need to be removed before that time which is good news.

So, we have another countdown.  There are more days to number.  Even though we don’t have the exact date yet, we know there is a day in the future where we will be another step closer to the healing of his hip.  So until then, we’ll number our days… making the most of them by being incredibly grateful to God who has guided us on this journey.