The Lord's kindness in answering our prayers for this still overwhelms me. I am just SO thankful.
Even though the pain for Caleb is not gone, at least we know what it is and what the treatment will look like. And we know that the pain is not damaging. It's not pleasant, but it's not damaging. Or life threatening. PRAISE THE LORD!
Caleb left Cleveland yesterday by bus, bound for Chicago where he'll have a few days to rest and figure out how to live well until treatment starts.
Which brings me to some questions that different people have asked. Hopefully if you've asked one of these questions, you'll make it here to read the answers!
How long before he gets the neurostimulator implant? The soonest would be mid to end of October. There are many steps and appointments before they do the final implant. The doctor plans to try an exterior model of the neurostimulator to make sure that it's effective against his pain - that should come towards the end of September. If it works, then they'll schedule the permanent implant. All of these appointments and the implant procedure will be done in Cleveland. He'll get to know that bus really well!
How will he manage the pain until then? That's a question with a longer answer.
This type of nerve damage can be aggravated by certain foods, even though what he's dealing with is not a gastrological or digestive problem.
Since we know that a gluten free diet lessens the pain for Caleb, we know now that gluten is one set of food items that aggravates those nerves. But most likely there are other things we're not aware of.
For that reason they recommended that he go on an extremely limited diet for two weeks (plain chicken, white rice and water - nothing else) and then, under their guidelines, add back in different foods at different times, monitoring how they impact the pain. And all this while he starts college! But Caleb says he wants to try this, even though it will be hard. He's one tough guy!
Another way to handle the pain is biofeedback. Wikipedia defines it like this: "Biofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. These instruments rapidly and accurately 'feed back' information to the user. The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological changes"
We know that God created us with incredible minds, and that research shows we only use, on average, about 10% of our brains. The Bible talks so much about our mind and the importance of disciplining it so it makes sense that the mind is a powerful tool in our lives for many different things, especially under His guidance. Our prayer is that Caleb will be able to find a believer in the Chicago area who is a biofeedback technician to help him with this possibility for managing his pain.
The doctors are not recommending he take any type of drugs for the pain.
They were actually really pleased that he has lived with this much pain, and yet not become addicted to even over the counter types of drugs to try to help it, let alone something narcotic. They say that there are, of course, all kinds of adverse effects on the body when you start taking medication to numb the pain. So, no drugs of any sort are a part of his treatment process. We're glad about that.
What about college in the midst of all this? He moves into his dorm and starts orientation for international students and MK's (missionary kids) next Saturday the 18th. Classes start August 27th. We trust that he'll be able to manage despite the pain. Much prayer appreciated for that. He'll have to cook for himself for about a month - at least it won't be too complicated since it's just chicken and rice.
When will you get to see him again? I've so appreciated those of you who are tuned into the parental "mom aspect" of this...it's not been easy to be away from him while all this has been taking place, even though he's 19 1/2 and Dave's been with him. But still! My "mom-heart" has ached for him and I've wished I could be there to do something to help. Thankfully Dave, Claire and I already had a trip to Chicago scheduled near the beginning of October to be there for a mission's week-end at our home church. So we'll be in the area for about a week and a half and believe me...I'll find time to connect with him then! :)