Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wood Choppin' Day

One of Dave's favorite hobbies...and I'm really not sawing, chopping, splitting, and stacking wood! There are few other things he'd rather do on a day off than be outside, rain or shine, taking care of his wood pile.

Unfortunately, it's going to be a while before he can do that again.

And double unfortunate...we just got a HUGE load of logs from the forest service delivered to our house that need choppin'. Dave's been wondering what he's going to do about that.

To the rescue today, came his good friend Mel and a whole crew of good men to help him out!

They arrived at 8 this morning and started in on the logs piled down at the end of our road. The forest service guys couldn't bring them down our lane a few weeks ago due to the extreme amounts of rain we've had this past month, making the road too soft for the logging truck to get in and out. Our neighbor was kind enough to let us dump them on his land at the time.

Mel, Petr, Dusan, Bogdan, Szymon, Caleb and Noah all started in and worked HARD on that wood!! What an operation it was!

I'm so bummed I didn't get out earlier when they were all here to get pictures...was busy making food for them, and then mowing the lawn (a job in and of itself in totally marshy, swampy conditions in our yard!).

Mel, Caleb and Noah stayed at it ALL DAY, building up some pretty major muscles along the way! They were joined in the afternoon by all the guys serving as JV summer interns!

Couldn't help but be blessed today by our friends, old and new. Thanks to all who served us, gave up their Saturdays, and made a BIG dent in a huge pile of logs!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So Good to Be Family

What a sweet gift to have a meal together as a family last night!

Celebrated Dave's homecoming and Tyler's morning departure (for his JV internship) with salmon on the grill...yum!

Took Tyler to the train this morning at 5:45 to catch his train to Vienna. He'll meet up this afternoon with the other 50+ interns flying in to begin their summers of ministry.

Dave has spent the day resting he should! He's not in as much pain today and had a good night's sleep for the first time last night. He says, "It's GOOD to be home!"

We all agree!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

He's Home!

It's hard to believe that just a week ago today, Dave was on the operating table having heart surgery.

And today...he's home!

He hasn't had a lot of sleep in the hospital so is pretty tired - oddly enough it's hard to get good sleep there. Once he got home, he talked to Tyler and I for a bit, and then went to sleep. I hope he rests well in his own bed.

They were not able to regulate his medication while he was in the hospital so let him go home only if he would give himself injections twice a day...yikes! Good thing they didn't ask me to give them - not sure I could do that! But Dave was fine with it - said if that's what it takes to go home, he'll do it!

He'll be back at the hospital on Friday to check the medication levels, but as far as the mitral valve itself, the repair looked great on the ultrasound yesterday! Brona, our cardiologist friend who has been guiding Dave through this whole process, was so pleased to see how well the repair was done by his colleagues!

We're super pleased too! And grateful to the Lord for having revealed this problem early enough to fix it without complications.

Whew! It's good to be on the other side and have Dave resting just down the hall from my office as I type! Now we're onto the recovery phase of things...about a four week process if all goes well. He won't be working during this time - just obeying the doctor's orders to rest and recover. That seems doable!

We have our last family night tonight with everyone home - Tyler leaves tomorrow for JV intern training. He'll head to Vienna to meet up with all the other interns flying in, they'll do a team bonding "Amazing Race" for two days, then be at Malenovice from Friday until next Thursday - so at least we'll get to see him before he leaves for the summer! So thankful to have an evening together before he goes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Good News on a Sunday

I don't know what kind of life Dave's surgeon has...he's been in to see Dave twice a day, every day, since his surgery, and was there again today, Sunday, when we went for a visit.

I hope he gets a day off here or there sometimes, but sure appreciate all the personal attention and kindness he's shown to Dave this past week.

The good news from him today is that they will definitely release him on Tuesday! So grateful that he is making good enough progress to be released from their care into mine! I'll do all I can to nurse him well during these next four weeks that he is to be in recovery from surgery.

Now that he's on the other side, the surgeon told him a couple more things about his surgery today.

He told him how little time there could've been before Dave experienced heart failure that could have been fatal - as little as two months up to just two years. If Dave hadn't had the flu in March and been weakened, he might not have experienced the arrhythmia which lead to him going to the doctor to find that the mitral valve was so damaged.

He told him that eventually the symptoms would've been bad enough that he'd know something was wrong...but that by that point it would've made repair very difficult. Replacement would've been more likely.

He told him that during the surgery he placed two Gortex "tendons" to the valve, but that when they filled up the heart with water to see how it was holding, it didn't. So they went back in and placed two more of the "tendons" so that it would hold.

We've been so impressed by this surgeon and his care and attention to details...even to fill Dave in on some of them! You know Dave...always like to "know"!!

It sure is good to be heading to the other side of this. How great is our God to have cared for Dave so faithfully through this!

It's 10 PM here in Czech and I just talked to Dave on the phone...he is in the middle of watching the Czech Republic battle it out with Russia for the world championship in hockey!! Kind of cool that he's in a Czech hospital watching the Czech team play hockey! Just seems kind of epic for him to watch it from there.

We've got it on at our house too, and it's about time for the 3rd period to start so have to go and watch the end to see what happens! GO CZECH!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Making Progress

Just a quick post tonight as there is, thankfully, not much news to share!

Dave got everything removed today...ports, tubes, and wires. He said he felt like a free man! Walking was easier today, and we even went outside for a few minutes to walk, as well as sat in the cafe to drink some mineral to one of his fellow heart surgery patients, drinking his beer! Do they sell beer at hospital cafes in the States??

He is more tired today, as the doctor had predicted. But said he feels like it's because his body is not on such high alert and is just letting down after going through such trauma. He hopes to sleep well again six hours of sleep last night, thankfully!

The kids will get to visit him tomorrow as they'll be back from their retreat. Will be the first time they've seen him since surgery. He's looking forward to their visit!

My friend, Michelle, made it in safely today - it's great to have her here!

All for very thankful to have this good news to post!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Whole New Day

When I walked into Dave's room this afternoon, I could see it was a new day.

There he was, sitting in his chair reading a book...about Wall Street! Had to snap a photo...couldn't pass that one up! (Side note...he said I could post the photo!)

While he did have another sleepless night, it wasn't due to pain, thankfully. He'd slept so much during the day to make up for the difficult night that sleep wouldn't come until 6 AM this morning, and then it was just for a few hours.

In all, he's probably had just 3-4 hours of sleep today. The nurse who came on duty this evening said it's important that he get sleep tonight so will give him something to help with that. Hopefully he will finally fall into a pleasant, restful slumber.

But...he was remarkably different in his spirits and his energy level today! His voice was stronger, he was able to walk a few more times around the nurse's station than yesterday, and he stayed awake the whole time I was there! That's progress!

His surgeon came in while I was there and said that he's doing as well as would be expected, and that if he continues this way they will look at releasing him on Tuesday. That would be wonderful!!

I stayed with him until 7 this evening as all three kids are on a BMA (their high school) outreach retreat this week-end. Claire has two friends from her class that she invited so they can hear the Gospel more clearly, and one of Caleb's closest friends is there too. So we're praying for a fruitful week-end for them.

My long time, 30+ year best friend from Oregon, is on a plane right now and will land tomorrow to spend two weeks with us. With Dave hopefully coming home soon and her arrival, we have some precious days at home to look forward to!

I know I say this all the time, but thank you for praying us through these days!! If you could have seen him on Tuesday, you just would not believe that he looked so good on Friday!

The Lord has heard all of our prayers for Dave, and has been pleased to answer them for him. It's not that way all the time, I realize - sometimes there are other things the Lord wants to accomplish than a merciful, swift healing. But God's mercy and grace have surrounded Dave in these past days and we are grateful for His healing hand.

Bless you all for the part you have played in God's work this week!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

There May Be Pain in the Night...

...but joy comes in the morning"!

Those lyrics to "Your Love Never Fails" were the theme last night for Dave. It was a long, tortuous night. The combination of pain and no meds made for an agonizing, minute by minute night, with virtually no sleep.

A flustered young nurse was on night duty. She was Slovak (no offense to our dear Slovak friends!), speaking with a heavy accent that made it hard for Dave to understand. And she didn't understand his Czech either. As the night went on with him trying to ask for pain medication, she began scolding him telling him, "That's just how it have to deal with it".

Ouch. Not fun words to hear just the second night after surgery. He said he was literally watching the minutes tick one by one on the clock, wondering how on earth he could make it through the night.

Thankfully the shift change came at 6 AM and all of a sudden...there was joy in the morning! Not only was it a kind nurse, but another one who knows our friend, Amy! Nurse Lucie was attentive and kind to Dave's needs, getting him something immediately for the pain, with much care and compassion.

When I told Dave that a host of you were continuing in prayer for him yesterday his response was, "Then that's how I got through that awful night". So thank you for praying!

The afternoon was so much better for him. Though he's of course tired, he's alert and feeling like he's a different man than yesterday or the day before! Clear of all tubes now, it was so nice to take a short, slow stroll around the nurse's station with him...something I would never have imagined being possible after seeing him yesterday.

Brona, our cardiologist friend who is caring for him post-op, listened to his heart today and said it sounds great...nice and tight, just the way he wants to hear a heart! He will do an ultrasound tomorrow or Monday, to check in depth to see how it's doing.

At our JV spring conference last week, they team gathered around our family for prayer down in the amphitheater, lifting us up to the Lord. The picture above is from that moment...and it reminds me of what we've felt these past days before and after surgery...literally surrounded by prayer.

I just want you to know...your prayers are making a difference!! Bless you for standing with us so faithfully.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Be Expected

It was a painful and not so pleasant day for Dave today.

Wow - hard to see him suffering that way. But the surgeon assured me this is normal and to be expected the day after heart surgery.

I was able to be with Dave all afternoon, mostly just sitting quietly while he slept fitfully.

When I spoke with the surgeon he said that Dave's first 24 hours passed with no complications and as well as they hoped - I was so grateful to hear that.

But, it was emotional for me to see him so weak. I've just never ever seen Dave like that. We've always weathered the kids' sicknesses together, as well as so many other storms of life.

Now he is on the stormy side, and it's my turn to stand firm for and with him. So thankful I had the Lord with me today...I needed HIM.

My dad told me that the first three days after heart surgery are the toughest...he knows as he's been through this too. But nothing quite prepares you for the sight of your loved one laying there in pain and discomfort. That was hard to see.

I will return to be with him again tomorrow, and continue praying for his recovery in these days

As I'm home tonight, I feel confident that he's being well cared for at the hospital and still know the Lord's supernatural peace through all of this. Grateful for that too.

I do have one bright spot to share! Renata, the believing nurse that was with him in the OR yesterday, shared this:

The anesthesiologist, who has done over 2500 procedures over a long career, said in the OR, "This is the smoothest surgery I've ever been through. It must have been because he's so tall."

"What???", Renata thought to herself. "It's not for that reason at all!"

She said at that point she just couldn't let him leave thinking that was the reason so blurted out, "It's not because he's so tall, but because a LOT of people are praying for you, for us, and for him from all over the world!"

Way to go Renata! Giving testimony to God's power through prayer!!!

Keep praying!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Night After Surgery

What a relief to have surgery behind us!

Dave's surgery to repair his mitral valve lasted almost five hours today, but in the end was successfully repaired and he is now in ICU recovering (pictured above...he's at the end of the hall!).

The surgeon met with me afterward (not common here...but he was kind enough to do it anyway!) and said that everything they set out to do was accomplished. I know from our cardiologist that it took longer than expected, and that there were some details of it that he will explain to me later...but he wanted me to know that the end result was good!

Mel and Amy sat with me in the waiting room while we waited today. One of the great, unexpected blessings of the day was having a believing nurse who is a friend of theirs, pull duty in Dave's OR this morning. How cool is that??!!

She came out to meet us just as surgery was getting underway, made a reservation for lunch for us in the cafeteria (at her expense...wouldn't let us pay for it...amazingly kind!) and then came out afterward with the good news of the surgery's success. What a blessing that was!

I was allowed into ICU to see Dave once he was out of the OR - again, not common here. The surgeon actually had to go in and ask if it was okay with the nurses! They agreed and then were SO kind to me as I stood by him while he still slept, praying and talking to him. He will never remember I was there, but it meant so much to me to see him after the surgery was complete.

They don't recommend family being there when they wake up...different than many people's experiences in the States, I know. So I left for home this afternoon and have just had some quiet, enjoyable time with the kids this evening, along with some great "boeuf bourguignon" from my Julia Child cook-alike friend, Sharon!

Oddly enough, the kids were given "flood holiday" today as we are experiencing torrential rains and flooding in our area right now. So they didn't have to go to school, and could instead have a quiet day at home together. Another gift today. They have the day off again tomorrow.

The nurses in ICU said I can come at 1 tomorrow, so you can bet I'll be there right on time! The surgeon told us earlier that he should be up by then, maybe even walking! I'm anxious to talk with him!

The surgery was done in a less invasive way - meaning he was not cut down his chest, but rather has a four inch incision on the right side, under one of his ribs. This should make for a better recovery, though the surgeon told us a week ago that it doesn't mean a fast recovery...just better. Good reminder to take it easy these next weeks and months.

Thank you for literally "flooding" us with prayers today. Usually a flood is not a good thing. But in this case, a torrential one is beyond compare!!

Will continue to update so check back tomorrow for more news!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Night Before Surgery

Dave is tucked in at the hospital in Trinec tonight, in the midst of some of the worst flooding in many years here.

The rivers were raging this morning as we drove to the hospital, and it's just continued to rain and rain and rain all day and night. Many homes have had to be evacuated and river banks are being sand-bagged and watched through the night. I am praying that the roads and bridges are open tomorrow so I can get to the hospital for his surgery.

They will wake Dave up tomorrow morning at 6 AM and he is the first one into surgery at 7:30. The surgeon told us to expect 4-5 hours in surgery before we get any news.

Our dear friends, Mel and Amy, will be with me at the hospital while I wait. It's not normal for the family to be there for surgery so we'll most likely be in the main waiting room by ourselves. I'm sure the nurses will quickly learn that we're the "Americans", the ones waiting for news! :)

Amy has a friend who is one of the OR nurses at this hospital - she may or may not be in Dave's surgery tomorrow, but said that no matter what, she'd check in on the surgery and get news to us. Brona, our cardiologist, will also be checking in and letting me know what's going on. I'm thankful for that.

Would it be strange to say I'm almost sad this day has come? There have been so many blessings up to now, and things to learn from the Lord in the midst of this. I feel like I haven't had time to take it all in, though I'm sure there will be more "on the other side" and the Lord will keep our attention on the things that He feels are most important for us during this time.

But I really have treasured this past week especially, as many have written and shared thoughts and things from the Word...all SO rich and helpful and encouraging. THANK YOU if you've been one of those who have written those things to us!

I have also felt literally FLOODED with prayer by you all. Do you know what an amazing feeling that is tonight as I'm here without Dave and experiencing total peace??? It's wonderfully odd...and I'm soaking it in and treasuring the answers to prayer that I'm already experiencing.

So continue to pray...God is near in answer to your prayers.

More tomorrow....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

While Waiting

Waiting for Dave's heart surgery reminds me a little bit of waiting to have a baby. I have this burst of energy and feel a desire to get things done before we head into the unknown. It's kind of nice to have an impetus to get some things done!

I have a friend who truly is waiting to have a baby. Two friends and I gathered with her last night to pray for the birth of her daughter, which could literally happen any day now.

It was an absolutely sacred moment as we surrounded her with love and lifted her up to the Lord in anticipation of this birth.

This is my friend who trusted Christ last year right here in my office, where I'm writing this blog post from. It was pure delight to listen to her pray last night and express her love for and trust in her Savior. I just know He was so pleased with her as He listened to her heartfelt expressions of love!

Pray for Ingrid as you read this - that the Lord would be pleased to give her an uncomplicated, sweet birth experience, and that His presence would permeate the room and her heart and soul when the time comes.

She has lost her mother, her father and her brother so has no living relative close to her for this time. She needs and deeply desires the presence of her Savior and heavenly Father as she gives birth to her daughter any day now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 18th - A Big Day

This is a date that I've never forgotten. I happened to be home from college the week-end that Mt. St. Helens blew on May 18th, 1980. Our family watched it from a hill near our house in Vancouver, Washington.

Now, thirty years later, May 18th will hold another, much more significant, memory for our family. Dave will have his heart surgery on this day.

He will enter the hospital Monday morning to get prepped, and then be in OR by 7:30 AM Tuesday morning.

While this is major surgery (still can't wrap my mind around the fact that they actually stop his heart and bypass it to a machine while they do the do they do that?? Amazing!), we know a peace that passes understanding right now. I don't know how to explain it except that our good, loving Father has given this to us. We are thankful.

Though the surgeon can't guarantee it 100%, it looks like Dave will be able to have the less invasive surgery rather than a full sternotomy (opening him up in the chest). The surgery takes the same amount of time (about 4-5 hours), but it saves him from having the scar down his chest and is generally easier to recover from, we've been told.

We are praying for great skill and wisdom for the surgeon and his team (there are 8 in the operating room assisting him), for a successful repair of Dave's mitral valve, for a full recovery and return to health for Dave.

We're also praying for continued peace in our hearts, for a sweet time as a family in the midst of his time in the hospital and recovery (Tyler "happens" to be flying home from Moody on Saturday - how good is the Lord to arrange for him to be here for Dave's surgery on Tuesday?!), and for eyes to see what the Lord has for us to learn and grow in throughout this experience.

Bless you for joining with us in praying for these things too. We're so thankful for our family and friends who are rallying behind us to pray!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Important Family Update

Really...I can't believe it's been two months since I updated my blog! What happened??? Oh...about a zillion things (including an unexpected week in the States for me due to that crazy volcano in Iceland!). Such is life!

We are in the middle of our JV spring staff conference right now, having an absolute blast with our staff. Wish I had pictures to show...maybe later!

One of the biggest pieces of news that is perhaps why you're taking a look at my blog, is to find out about Dave's upcoming open heart surgery. Here is what we know right now:
  • He needs his mitral valve repaired
  • He will have the surgery here in the Czech Republic at a top hospital that specializes in this surgery
  • He has a meeting on Monday, May 10th, with the surgeon.
  • Right now surgery is scheduled for May 17th, but we're hoping it will be moved up a few days...would like to get it done as soon as possible.
  • He's much more tired than usual (has to nap every day), but still able to be engaged in fact, he's been teaching at our JV conference this week.
  • We are peaceful about this very unexpected turn in our lives...believe the Lord has good in this for us.
  • Tyler arrives home on the 15th from his freshmen year at Moody Bible Institute so will be with us for some portion, if not all, of this important event in Dave's life. He leaves on the 26th for JV summer intern training and will be gone the rest of the summer.
Thank you for praying for us! God knows what He's doing and this comes as no surprise to Him, even if it does to us!

Will be more diligent about updating my blog in the coming days!