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January 26, 2010 - Pacemaker upgrade tomorrow, recovery, outlook & finances

Hi Everyone - It's been 48 hours since we last wrote and I wanted to try to update you with what's been going on.

First, as the title shows, the doctors have decided that they need to upgrade Greg's pacemaker tomorrow. Until now, he has only had one lead, down in the lower chamber of his heart that can pace when it needs to or shock him out of a bad rhythm. Tomorrow, they will add a lead into the upper chambers of his heart that will hopefully increase his cardiac function. Their hope is that this will buy more time before they need to take any further, more aggressive invasive measures to increase cardiac output. It is also possible that they will replace the pulse generator up in his shoulder, if they feel it is warranted, although that's not their plan right now. This is scheduled to be done around 2PM, so please pray for a safe and effective procedure.

He has been stable for the past 48 hours, in terms of vital signs. His chest wound is continuing to heal, he is working hard at walking around the floor to increase his stamina (tonight's record was 5 laps!); he is using all the respiratory equipment that makes his take deep breaths and cough (even though it hurts so much); he is diligently recording all the fluids that he drinks and his output; is observing "sternal precautions" so that he doesn't open his chest wound; is trying to learn to observe all the dietary restrictions that have been placed on him and generally being a really good patient. Please know that ALL those things I just mentioned are done under the loving encouragement of Elise -- his best cheerleader!

The days and nights bring emotional rollercoasters with them as we walk through the teaching of what to expect of life before and after the heart transplant. There is an AWFUL lot to swallow - especially when you're 24 and just want to live a normal life. But again, I marvel at how both he and Elise are handling all of this - clearly your prayers are carrying them and all who love them through this difficult time.

It's been very interesting to watch and listen as they explain what they do for a living to those who don't have knowledge of their ministry. I've told Elise that although they're not able to do their ministry as they might have planned, God is certainly using them in this setting AND back on the campus of George Mason as the students watch this unfold. Last week, they made a HUGE banner at their weekly meeting and MANY, MANY of them wrote notes on it. It's clear that they are loved and missed on campus right now but that their interactions in the past and now are a living example of trusting God, even in the hard times.

And now the praises:

We found out yesterday that the transplant will be covered under their health insurance!!!!!!!! YEAH for their ministry's health insurance which is turning out to be excellent!!

The monthly cost of post surgery meds is also covered in a major way, although they will still have a significant monthly cost FOREVER. He will be on these meds for the rest of his life. Additionally, they will have MANY clinic visits, tests, procedures leading up to and following the surgery, so please continue to pray for financial provision.

Today, a gentleman who received a new heart in July came with his wife to visit! His wife is actually an RN in the CTICU at this hospital and heard about Greg from one of the nurses who cared for him. They were so kind in coming and answering many questions and we were all astounded by the energy he describes himself as having. His preop and post course was relatively uncomplicated and we would ask for prayers that Greg's would be the same.

We have also received emails from several of you with contacts of people who are post heart transplant and are experiencing wonderful, healthy lives. Thank you for that encouragement -- it means a lot.

Today, Greg received a literal STACK of get well cards and he and Elise were so excited to open and read them! They are now adorning the once plain walls of his hospital room!

Thank you for caring to post comments on this blog too -- they are SO excited to open the computer and hear from old friends, new friends and family.

Lastly, Answers to Questions People Keep Asking

How long will Greg wait for a heart? The doctor indicated that the average wait is 6-15 months. Pete, the gentleman who was here today and just had a transplant in July, waited 7 months and we pray that Greg's wait is on the shorter side as well.

Why do contributions for Greg's health care have to go through their ministry account?

Greg and Elise pay for their medical care through their staff account in a way that is similar to a flexible medical savings account - i.e. they are not taxed on that amount. The funds donated to their account must be reviewed and notated through the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability which assures proper use of donated funds. Rest assured that they will receive the funds that you donate, just as they receive monthly funds from those on their support team. Should you decide to help Greg and Elise in this way, they want you to know that they love you, and appreciate you more than they can express.

Greg wanted me to say that he and Elise are absolutely humbled and touched by the sacrifice you're willing to make on their behalf.

- Greg's mom

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