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February 13, 2010 - Healing for Greg, seeking counseling for Elise

Hello everyone!

Because of the snow over the last week, not much has been happening on the medical front and I haven't had a lot of news to share. However, the roads are clear now and things are happening again. Greg's appointment at the Heart Failure/Transplant clinic last week was postponed until this Monday due to the snow. However, he was able to go to his appointment at the electrophysiologist office on Friday. They checked out his new ICD/Pacemaker and incision and said that they are both looking great! He's still being paced 100% of the time at 75bpm. It's amazing how much better he feels now that his heart rate isn't hovering in the low 50s and dropping to the upper 30s when he sleeps!

Greg has continued dropping weight and is now down to 185 lb. This means that before he was put on diuretics, he had 41 lbs of water backed up around his heart and organs! He feels SO much better without the extra water-weight. Once Greg's weight loss plateaus, the doctor's will be able to determine what Greg's "dry weight" is. This is how much he weighs without having excess fluid accumulation and it will be the weight that Greg needs to defend. If Greg gains 2 lb. in one day or 4 lb. total (from his dry weight) over any period of time it is a sign that his medication isn't enough to prevent him from backing up with fluid and that we need to see the doctors asap. Greg weighs himself every morning so that we can watch for any sign of fluid accumulation.

On Thursday night, Greg attempted to sleep in bed for the first time since coming home from the hospital (he's been sleeping in the recliner that one of our wonderful ministry partner families very generously gave us). Unfortunately, he rolled onto his stomach while he was sleeping and woke up in horrible pain. We've been able to manage the pain somewhat, but Greg feels like he's regressed back a whole week in his recovery. He has more energy than he had when he first came home, but his level of pain is back to what it was on his first few days out of the hospital.

We called the surgeon's office Friday morning to see how worried we should be about him sleeping on his stomach (that is one of the DO NOT DO THIS things on his post-op. instructions. He's not even supposed to lay on his side for 5 weeks after surgery- the nurses said that it is just as bad as sleeping on his stomach). When Greg talked to the nurse, we found out that they were supposed to contact us 10 days ago to set up a post-op appointment and schedule an x-ray to see how his sternum is healing. The mix-up happened because of Greg being put on the Heart Transplant list and having the second surgery - he wasn't discharged from the hospital in the way that open-heart surgery patients are discharged. Thankfully, we were able to schedule an appointment for him on Tuesday at the surgeon's office and they are faxing the x-ray order to the right place so we can get it done on Monday after his appointment at the Heart Transplant Clinic.

We learned that it will be 3 months until Greg's sternum is actually knit back together. Right now, the nerves and muscles are working to repair themselves- the actual bone isn't doing much at this point, that takes MUCH longer.

On a different note, I will be calling a counselor that was recommended to me by a good friend to see if I can begin meeting with her. She was a staff member with our ministry years ago and is a licensed counselor. In addition to working at her practice, she also works at a women's center. I'm hoping that I'll be able to go through the women's center to get a reduced counseling fee. She does offer discounts to those who cannot afford her fees, so I'm hopeful that I may be able to see her at a reduced cost. Please pray for this with me!

Although it's never easy to ask for counseling, I know that I need to have someone (a professional who knows what questions to ask and has walked people through similar crises before) to process the last few weeks with. The weight of what has happened and waiting for Greg's heart transplant is not something that I can "handle" without help, and I'm trusting that the Lord is going to work through her (if I'm able to go) in a way that will be a blessing to both me and Greg. Greg is meeting with Randy Newman (his mentor) weekly for this same purpose. They met today and it was immensely helpful for Greg.

While Randy was at our apartment with Greg, I was able to go out to the farm for some horse-time and came home feeling very refreshed. I'm so grateful that the Lord has enabled me to have Ricki here with us- what a blessing! And I'm supremely grateful for Allison and Emma who lease Ricki. They have been so helpful these past few weeks - taking care of him for me and making sure that I didn't need to worry about Ricki at all while Greg was in the hospital. If you're reading this- thank you!

One fun thing: Greg made me big collages of all the cards that we've received and we hung them up on our apartment walls a few days ago. They are a constant reminder of all of you who are praying for us and supporting us through this, and we feel so encouraged when we see them! They've really helped me to feel like we are not alone in this trial and to remember that the Lord is taking care of us through so many people who love us dearly. Thank you for your love, prayers, support, and cards!

We'll let you know what we find out at Greg's appointments


Gratefully yours, Elise

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