Monday, November 29, 2010

2 Years

Dear Zane,

Two years ago today, I put on a sparkly white dress & said "I do". I had no idea what the rest of our lives would hold, but I was so excited to find out. You were the strongest, Godliest, most handsome man I'd ever met and I was fully committed to following you where ever God led. God has certainly led us through a lot in just two short years- career changes, a cross-country move, house hunting which turned into property buying & house planning.. And finally, this accident. Looking back, I can see God's hand working through all of those situations to make us stronger.

On the day of your accident, my worst fear stared me in the face. No doctor or nurse could tell me that you were going to live. I didn't know if I would be able to spend the rest of my life with you like I'd planned.. I didn't know if I'd ever see your smile or hear your laugh again. You were my whole world; my inspiration, my encouragement, and my leader. I wasn't ready to lose you.

Apparently, God wasn't done with you either. Not only did He heal you miraculously, but He held my hand and carried me through the 4 1/2 weeks until you woke up. It was the longest month of my life, but also the most tremendous growth I have ever experienced. Without you, I had no choice but to lean on God and let him surround me with love. He gave me little moments of comfort by you communicating with us, even if you don't remember them.

Now that we are out of the waiting period, our real hard work has begun. You are fighting to regain function and strength in your body, and I am doing all I can to assist and serve you. I learned faith and dependence on God that first month. Now, I am learning what it means to truly love and serve you. I am learning what sacrifice and loyalty mean, and I have found true joy in taking care of you. I would rather be feeding you, bathing you, and caring for your wounds than any other place or activity on earth. You are my everything still, and I will stand by your side through every mountain we climb, and every victory we rejoice in. The last two years have been the best of my life, and I know that it will only get better from here.

Thank you for all that you have been for me, and thank you for humbly allowing me to serve you now. God has amazing plans for our future, and there is not a better man that I could have to be on this journey with. I love you as much as is humanly possible, and am so proud to be your wife.

Happy 2nd Anniversary,

-Courtney

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gratitude

As has been evidenced by my lack of posts the past couple days, we have had a wonderfully full Thanksgiving holiday. Of course Thanksgiving brought entirely new meaning this year. We have SO much to be thankful for. Zane is doing fantastically. He's enjoying a private room on the floor, but he's definitely missing the level of care that he received while in the ICU. Because of this, I've been spending a lot more time at the hospital- getting here much earlier, and staying later. I've also been more involved in his care- doing some of his dressing changes and therapy/massage myself. In ICU, there is one nurse per patient, but on the floor there is one nurse per 2-4 patients.

Zane's big splint contraption was removed yesterday morning and they took the dressings down from the graft sites. The doctors told us that the grafts were about 95% taken. Because they took so well, he was able to take the splint off and just have foam supports for his arms while he is in bed. The donor site on his left thigh/hip has been causing him some pain since the dressing was taken down, limiting his walking significantly. The pain should go away within a couple days.

Zane has started to regain some sensation in his right hand! He still can't feel much, but certain movements or stretches give him a feeling of pressure or pain. Of course pain is no fun, but in this case, it's an answer to prayer. We have been praying fervently for his hand, and now we are starting to see God work. We are so blessed to able to witness God's miracles Ike this on a daily basis, and we believe He's not done yet.

The doctors have scheduled Zane for a screening for Spaulding Rehab Hospital on Wednesday. I'm not exactly sure what that entails, but it looks like he will be moving out of this hospital by the end of next week. We are so excited to take this next step.

This Thanksgiving brought entirely new meaning to me. I have never been more grateful for my amazing husband, my ever faithful God, and our supportive families. Our lives and the lives of those we love are so fragile, and I know that I will never look at life the same way again. Every day that we continue to take a breath is a gift- a wonderful, priceless treasure. It doesn't matter whether we're sitting in a hospital or safe at home. It doesn't matter whether Zane is able to scoop me up in his arms or whether I'm helping him to simply lift his. He is still alive, and God will bring us through this. For that, I am SO thankful.


{Zane's splint that was on after the armpit release surgery}

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Moving Out!

I don't have time for a long update, but i just had to share a couple things. Yesterday evening Zane got his feeding tube out! We totally weren't expecting it to come out the day of his surgery, but he's been eating well and he was more than ready to get that darn thing out of there! I also got a surprise when I came in this morning- WE'RE LEAVING ICU TODAY!!!!! After just over 6 weeks or 43 days, we're getting out of here & onto a step down unit. Excited doesn't even begin to describe what we're feeling. I know I've said it a million times, but our God is SO faithful!!! We are so proud of Zane's progress, and all the glory for it goes to HIM!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Through Surgery #5

Zane had surgery number 5 this morning and it went very well. He had releases and grafting in both armpits and "patch" grafting on his stomach and right arm. There were areas on the stomach and arm that just weren't healing quite well enough so the additional grafting will improve both the healing and the aesthetics. They took the donor skin from his left thigh. About 2/3 of the skin was taken from the previous donor site that had mostly healed. The additional 1/3 was taken directly above that area, on his buttocks/hip. His surgeon told me that he harvested the skin in a special fashion that will minimize the pain Zane will experience in that area.

Zane is now in a rather large splint that holds his arms directly out to the side. It's quite a contraption- it holds his upper arms straight out sideways, then bends at the elbow and holds his hands directly in front of him. He'll be in this for roughly a week so that the skin that was grafted can take and heal with minimal contractures. He's right back to eating normal food, and seems to have even more of an appetite than he did before. His doctors are talking about getting his feeding tube out within a day or two.

He is having some pain, but it is being managed well with medication. He's already been up for a walk and did great! The only down side is that he's a bit of a wide load and has to turn sideways through any normal doorways. His attitude is still great and we are so thankful for God's protection over him during surgery. They plan to keep him in ICU overnight and possibly move to a step down unit tomorrow. This is just one more big step towards Zane's full recovery.

{sorry no photo, I'm posting from the iPad at the hospital and can't get it to work}

Monday, November 22, 2010

Amazing Man

Zane continues to kick butt in his recovery. Yesterday he walked a total of 16 laps around the floor in 4 different trips. He isn't really getting out of breath from walking now. His legs are getting much stronger and his flexibility is soo much better. His PT and OT are tough on him and he has a "bring it on" attitude so the two work pretty well together. His arms are getting much better- he can almost reach his face with assistance.

He's been doing much better eating as well. He still can't eat large amounts at once, but he's keeping everything down. He's eaten pizza, chicken, steak, and plenty of protein shakes. He had his first shower this morning, and had some testing done on his right hand. The test is called an EMG and it tests the responsiveness of nerves. Third degree burns destroy not only all three layers of skin, but often most of the nerves in the area as well. Although Zane's right hand didn't sustain third degree burns, it did get deep second degree burns and right now he can't feel much of anything. The doctors are telling us that he should regain movement, and hopefully some feeling. There's really no solid way to predict the outcome, but we have full confidence that God can both restore movement AND feeling. No one expected him to be doing as well as he is now, so we're totally confident that our God is in the business of surpassing expectations. Your prayers for his hand would be very much appreciated.

Zane is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning at 7:30. He will get releases and grafting in both armpits, and possible touch-up work on his stomach. He's not nervous about it at all- just looking forward to having more arm movement. Yesterday he was talking to my mom and I (for those of you who asked, yes, my mom has been by my side this whole time) about how he was feeling about everything. I am just so in awe and in love with this man. He said, "It's not about me", and proceeded to talk about how this whole situation was more about the lives God will change than his own life. He is totally at peace with everything and has great vision. He said, "You can't look at what you've lost. You have to just say, 'Okay, here's what happened. What can I do about it?'". It's so true.. we can't be prepared for the journey ahead if we're dwelling on the past. There is no other human being that I could be so excited about taking this journey with. He is truly a selfless, dedicated individual, and I will follow him anywhere.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day At A Time

Each day that goes by brings more progress for Zane. He is walking great and requiring less and less assistance getting out of bed. Tonight we had some family visiting and it was time for Zane's walk so we had a bit of a parade around the floor. Zane doesn't seem to mind all the attention- all his prior nurses just stop and stare when they see him cruising by. Typically, he doesn't even have a nurse come on his walks with him anymore.

His arm movement continues to improve day by day and he now has some custom splints to wear both during the day and night. These will help prevent his arms and hands from getting too tight. He still has almost no sensation in his right hand, but his range of motion has definitely increased. Right now, I'm doing a lot of the basics for him- brushing his teeth, feeding him, cleaning his face, etc.- but as he gets more movement and strength back he'll transition to doing these things as much on his own as he can.

His hearing has also improved. He's more able to understand conversations at normal volumes, and the doctors think it will do wonders for him once the feeding tube is removed. Eating has been a bit of an issue still. Zane wasn't able to keep his lunch down, but did finish and keep down a plate of steak tips for supper. This was great progress. We're taking everything nice and slow and trying to get his digestion back to normal.

His spirits remain high, and each day he accomplishes more. Sometimes it doesn't feel like amazing progress to him, but we just remind him what a difference it is from how we saw him 5 weeks ago! God has certainly given us what we need to get by. Each day brings new challenges, but always blessings with it. We're very excited to see what the next few weeks bring!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Rock

Zane has had a good couple of days. He gets stronger walking each day and is now not using a walker at all- we just give him a little support by holding one arm. His arms are coming along slower, but each day we do see small improvements! He had some difficulty yesterday keeping food down, but seemed much better today. We're slowly trying to help him get his appetite back, and be able to eat more complex foods. The sooner he can increase his caloric intake, the sooner he can get the feeding tube removed.

He is scheduled for surgery for his armpits on Tuesday. They will be doing a procedure to give him a greater range of motion called a release. This will include a small amount of additional grafting. He will have to be splinted up like a scarecrow for a few days to promote proper healing and prevent contractures. This surgery is the main reason Zane is still in ICU- they feel he would do best with more attention after the surgery.

Zane has had moments that have been tough on him as he thinks about the long road ahead, but we had a great talk and prayer last night and he was feeling much better today. Certainly, we all have needed to have moments where we just hurt. I don't think it would be healthy if we ignored the fact that this was, indeed, a tragedy. Accepting the hurt is so important in finding peace with the situation. I shared with Zane some of my own journey that went on while he was sleeping. I've learned that I need to really feel things in order to get over them. I needed to take a moment to just cry or just be mad. But, I surrendered my hurt or anger to God during those times and he gave me peace. I had my 'moment' and God allowed me to move on. I don't want everyone to think we've all been inhumanly strong. God has definitely given us all a strength we never would have known ourselves capable of, but he also allowed us to deal with our human emotions in a healthy way. It's a lot of pressure to feel you have to be 'a rock' all the time. That's because humans were never meant to be 'the rock'. Jesus Christ is the ROCK that we run to; HE is the one that sustains us. It is only in our utter weakness that we are truly capable of receiving a major dose of HIS supernatural strength.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Perspective

I have to apologize for taking a couple day hiatus from blogging. We've been very busy taking care of Zane. In a typical day, we try to sleep in a little bit (still tired from the late night before), then we use our mornings to run a quick errand or take care of paying bills, etc. We get to the hospital around 11, once Zane's burn care/dressing changes are all done. The days are all a blur- we pretty much just help Zane eat, go for walks, entertain him with stories [which is why it would come in handy to have my sisters here :)], give him massages, or invent random things to keep him busy. We're usually there until 10:30 or 11pm at least, until he falls asleep. It's been difficult for him to sleep so he likes to have me stay with him until he dozes off.

In the past few days, a lot of big things have happened. Zane's up to taking 9 or 10 laps around the floor per day, usually in groups of 3 or 4 at a time. He's barely using the walker for support now, and we plan to take it away at some point today or tomorrow. His strength in his legs is getting MUCH better, and his arms are progressing as well. It will take a while for him to be able to do normal things with his arms and hands again, but he's certainly made great strides towards getting there. Again, the therapists are amazed at his progress.

Zane's slowly getting more and more 'tubes' out. Yesterday morning his trach was removed altogether. The hole in his neck will heal in on its own, but it takes a few days. In the meantime, we have to hold pressure on it when he goes to talk or cough, otherwise the air comes right out his throat rather than his mouth or nose. This should help so he doesn't cough as much, which should also allow him to get better sleep.

Zane's central IV line in his neck was removed last night. They now just have a small access line in his left arm. He's definitely happier without all that stuff on his neck! We heard that his catheter will probably come out today, as he's more able to get up and get to a bathroom.

Each day is definitely showing progress. It's never quite as fast as Zane would like though- he's been ready to go home since he woke up. Please pray that God will both help him to progress speedily and be patient with his body. We've entered the most progressive phase of his recovery, but also the toughest on Zane.. and us. Zane was pretty quiet yesterday, and I could tell he had a lot on his mind. He's still keeping his spirits up, and trusting God to see him through, but it is hard on him at times when he realizes the extent of his rehab. Of course, it's hard for us to see him having a hard time- we work extra hard all day to keep things upbeat and positive & it's pretty draining. But, our God is STILL faithful. He is STILL renewing us, and giving us all that we need to go on.

I had a talk with Zane yesterday afternoon when we were by ourselves about perspective. I told him that what got me through the first four weeks was allowing God to shape my perspective. Each day may be tough- we may not enjoy each moment, but each moment and each day is one more that we weren't sure we would have. God gave us many more days and moments, and that in itself is enough reason to praise Him. So we'll take each moment as it comes, and remember that it is a priceless, precious gift that we do not deserve. Thank God that He can shape our thoughts.

{walking laps in the hallway}

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hero

I think we've hit the point where we're going to see pretty awesome improvement on a daily basis now. Zane not only went walking today, but he took FOUR separate trips! The first time he went around the ICU again, and the rest of the times he went around the entire floor. It's roughly a 300 foot walk around- we were SO proud! He was so tired out that he fell asleep around 8:30 tonight.

Today Zane started eating regular meals. He had peaches & Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie for supper.. not exactly balanced meals, but it's a start. Right now, they're just trying to pack in the protein and calories. He's still receiving tube feeds at night to supplement what he's eating during the day. He's still requiring about 3,200 calories per day. As soon as he can get enough calories by eating and drinking, the feeding tube will be removed. I'm guessing it will be a matter of a few days.

Zane's upper body movement has improved drastically. When he first woke up he pretty much couldn't move his arms on his own at all. He's now picking his arms up several inches. He has great movement in his left hand, but is very limited in his right. His right was burned worse and he seems to have some nerve damage as he doesn't have feeling in that hand. His arm mobility is improving dramatically. With assistance, he touched his forehead with his left hand today. His strength is his biggest challenge right now, but he's working extremely hard to get it back. He asks mom and I to help him all the time to stretch and work his muscles.

I truly treasure the moments that I get to spend with Zane alone each day. This morning I read him a few emails I'd received from people telling me that they had either come back to their faith or found new faith because of Zane's story. He looked at me and said, "That makes this worth it". I just stood there, in awe of my amazing husband. He said that all he's gone through and will have to go through is worth it just to have others find a relationship with our Savior. All the pain, all the struggle, the years of negative effects he'll experience because of this accident.... it's all worth it to him. His life is a living sacrifice dedicated in the most powerful way to sharing what we have with others. He said, "Honey, I'm the example and you're the hands of God". We are truly embracing this whole situation as a gift to be able to do more for Christ than we ever thought we could.

{an old one!!}

Parades & Fresh Air

If you guys enjoyed reading about Zane's progress on Friday, you're going to love yesterday's! I think I'm going to have to start posting updates in the mornings.. Zane has been keeping us busy until pretty late at night. We got back around 11:30pm last night. He had a HUGE day, though.

Yesterday afternoon he got up to walk with the thoracic walker again. This time, not only did he get out of his room, but he walked all the way around his unit (the burn/trauma ICU). I'm a horrible person to try and estimate distance, but I'm guessing the trip would be at least 150 feet. He's standing up straighter & taking larger steps. One of his nurses was sitting on the other side of the unit and when Zane walked by she said something like, "Wow, you came all the way out here to see me!". Zane responded, "Well, you didn't come visit me in my room so I had to come see you!". They all got a good chuckle out of it. We joked that he was putting on a parade & showing off and he just smiled and nodded.

When he was done his walk, he came back and sat down in a wheel chair in his room. After we got all his tubes & wires situated, his nurse surprised us all by telling him he was going outside! We figured it would be at least a week before this would happen. But, his vitals were all really strong and it was a beautiful day in Boston yesterday. He was so happy to be outside in the sun and fresh air. We were marveling at his progress today and his nurse asked him what they were going to do tomorrow. His answer was, "Go to Fenway" (for non-baseball following readers, that's the home of the Red Sox, of course). :)

Zane got in his chair a few times throughout the day, and even went for another walk around the ICU. All the nurses and doctors were seriously just staring in disbelief. Everyone got giddy like a bunch of little kids at Christmas!

Another BIG step came later in the evening. Because he'd done so well off the ventilator, they put a cap on his trach that blocks off all airflow. This allowed him to breathe just like normal and talk with his regular voice. They were wondering how he'd do, but in normal fashion he blew everyone away and did perfectly. There was some talk about taking the trach out altogether today, but his surgeon requested that they leave it in for a few days- not because he needs it right now, but because they're planning another surgery & would rather use the trach to ventilate him while sedated rather than orally intubating again. The surgery will entail some "touch-up" work on his stomach and armpits. The armpits are the trickiest area to graft, and his stomach seems to be growing a lot of hypertrophic tissue. This basically means that rather than normal skin growing in from the sides, excess scar tissue builds up and grows out.

Zane also had his first "food" today. He had some chicken broth, Italian ice, custard, and a half a protein shake. We went to the grocery store to get him some yummy food- Ben & Jerry's, double chocolate pudding, and plenty of delicious protein shakes.

Last night we read Zane some of the things people wrote in his visitor's journal. He loved hearing what went on while he was sleeping and who was here. He seemed to just be overcome with thankfulness for all the support. When he found out that he was being prayed for across the world in churches, schools, college campuses, homes and even on national television he said he knew why he had healed so fast- it was the power of God. We agree.. God is the only explanation for Zane's superstar performance yesterday. We are SO looking forward to what today will bring.

Zane gave me permission to share the following pictures with you:

{first walk around ICU}

{outside for the first time w/ mom, dad, & me}

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Walking!

Yesterday was another gift from god. That morning dad, mom, & I had a tear filled talk with Zane about everything that went on the day of the accident. He still has almost no memory of that day but he did tell us that he remembered some of the time he was here in the ICU. He said he remembered repeating "tell Courtney I love her" on the day of the accident & while sedated he thought he was in Mexico fighting a battle for his life. He said that the worst part was when he felt like he couldn't breathe. We're guessing that that was probably the night that he got ARDS and had all the issues with his lungs. It's kind of like he remembers things internally- things he was thinking or where he was, but not externally- things we said to him or operations he had. He said once, "I remember being really grumpy & kicking my legs around. I was so hot and no one would help me". We think this was probably when his temp was high and he was being really restless in bed, trying to climb out and stuff. He kept telling us how hard it had been for him, and with tears in his eyes he repeated several times, "It was rough, really rough". He told us that he truly thought that he was dying when he was "fighting his battle in Mexico". But, he came to a point that he realized he wasn't going to die, and said that he decided to bring as many people to Christ as he could. So I guess you could say he thought he was being a missionary to Mexico while he was sleeping, when really he was being a missionary to people around the world who were following his story. :)

The afternoon was a little slow for Zane. At one point he looked at me and said, "Do you have any idea how boring this is?". I smiled and told him I had a slight idea.. that I'd spent 4 1/2 weeks hanging out in the hospital while he slept. He definitely enjoys having visitors.. when mom, dad, and I were in there, we came to a lull in the conversation after having talked about so much. Zane glanced at the clock and asked, "So, is that all you've got to talk about?". All three of us pretty much jumped up and started talking. What Zane wants, he gets!

A little bit later in the afternoon, it was time for therapy. His PT came in and said that she wanted to get him up and try to take a couple of steps with a thoracic walker (a walker that has elbow-level arm supports and hand grips). His nurse fashioned him up a pretty stylish loin cloth & he was ready to go. But, instead of taking the expected couple of steps, he walked about 15 feet out of his room and into the hallway. They kept asking him if he needed to rest, and he just wanted to keep going. You could see the determination in his face. Dad got in front of the walker and encouraged him through each step. Mom pushed a chair behind him so that once he couldn't go any more, he could sit down. It was amazing. He just keeps blowing us all away.

Yesterday evening, Zane decided he wanted me to get in bed with him. I told him that I couldn't- that it was probably against the rules. His nurse must have overheard because he came in the room and said, "Sure, you can! It's good therapy". So, he scooted Zane over in bed and I layed down beside him. I looked over with a grin and said, "You're breaking all the rules. Happy now?". He just smiled and said, "Very". Again, what Zane wants, he gets. :)

He went all day without the ventilator, and as far as we know all night last night as well. If he keeps this up, it won't be long before the trach is removed. He's able to drink clear liquids now, but he hasn't had much appetite for the soup broth and Italian ice from the cafeteria. Can't blame him.. he's already getting 3,500 calories per day through his tube feedings.

Zane's body is struggling to regulate his temperature because of all the new skin and exposed areas. He's constantly feeling hot and cold, and gets rather annoyed with it. We do everything we can to help- adding and removing blankets, turning the fan off and on, wiping his face with a cool cloth, etc. What's particularly annoying is when he's trying to sleep. The constant body temp changes make it almost impossible for him to stay comfortable. When he still couldn't sleep last night around 11pm, he asked for a sleeping pill. They gave him some medication through the feeding tube, and before long he drifted off to sleep.

It was a phenomenal day. Zane just kept saying "Praise God" when he heard about all the people who have visited, sent cards, and read the blog. His heart is right where it should be, and he and I are definitely looking forward to how the Lord will use us each day. Already Zane has asked his nurses if they're Christians.. it's a bit comical, really. The medications seem to have taken away any inhibitions he had, so whatever he's thinking, he pretty much says. Each day is exciting now, and I seem to have acquired a full time job! I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Moving On Up

Today was another big day for Zane. He had his nurse call me at 8am and I heard his "voice" on the other end of the line (his mechanic-like voice from the passy-muir valve). He was wondering why I wasn't there yet. :) Typically, his nurse does his burn care in the mornings, which takes a few hours, and we can't get in until around noon. This morning though, they were waiting a little longer and Zane didn't feel like waiting for me. When I walked into his room he was sitting up in the chair again and had his valve on so he could talk. Apparently, he'd asked them to call me at 5am, but they made him wait a little while and he wasn't too thrilled. Mostly because of the meds, we saw a little feistiness today.. so much so that it was comical.

He sat in the chair for 4 hours this morning & did fantastic. While he was up, they removed his NG tube (one of the feeding tubes in his nose) and gave him his first sips of water from a cup. It went down perfectly, which was a great sign. The other feeding tube remains as a way to continue giving him the needed calories and oral medicine. Zane was only on the ventilator for 3-4 hours today- the rest of the time he was trach-collared & breathing on his own. They'll probably hook it up again tonight while he sleeps, but it's fantastic that he went so long today without it!

This afternoon Zane was wanting to exercise so they decided to try and get him sitting up in bed and dangling his legs over the side on his own. His physical and occupational therapists came in to assist, but didn't end up doing as much as they thought they'd have to. As they told him he could try to scoot to the edge of the bed and sit up, he did much of it on his own! For someone who has been laying in bed for almost 4 1/2 weeks, this is awesome! His physical therapist was amazed and asked me if he was extremely athletic or something. After taking some time at the edge of the bed, they helped him to stand and turn himself to sit down in the chair. He's still needing a lot of assistance to stand, but we didn't even think he'd be sitting up on his own for a while. This is FANTASTIC. Imagine the feeling after running a marathon.. that's about the equivalent of what Zane goes through just to do things like this right now. So, needless to say, he was pretty tired out.

He sat up in the chair for over an hour again & his lungs remained strong. Before too long, he was very sleepy and asked to go back to bed. His nurse asked him if he wanted to use the ceiling lift or if he wanted to try to stand again. He was exhausted, so he chose the lift. Just as they got the lift positioned over him, he said, "Wait, I want to try it". He then looked at the assistant there with the nurse and said, "I'm gonna need your help". Together, the nurse and the assistant helped him stand, turn, and sit back down in bed. Letting the lift do all the work just wasn't in Zane's nature. He's an extremely hard worker, and fiercely determined.. and if mustering all his strength up and doing it himself meant progress, he'd do it! I was so proud of him.

I got to tell Zane about all the people supporting us through this and all the lives his story had touched and his response was, "Praise God". He asked Dad tonight about the details of the accident and dad explained it all to him. He understood everything and accepted it all with no anger, only thankfulness that God had spared his life and protected his face. Since about 4 years ago, Zane has had a goal of bringing 100,000 people to Christ. Dad told him tonight that he was well on his way. Zane said, "Well, it's not how I had planned, but.." & shrugged his shoulders. God really does take horrible things and make something wonderful out of them. All we can do is take what we've been given and let Him help us make the most of it. If Zane's accident ends up being a way that he'll be able to reach his goal, I know he'll be happy. We are truly looking forward to the ways that He'll continue to use this situation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In The Chair & Talking

Just wanted to post another quick update this evening. Zane has made some big improvements today, and they're just too awesome not to share. First of all, he is totally off his IV meds. We walked in this afternoon to find his IV pump totally shut off and were thrilled! He's no longer getting continuous infusions of IV meds for sedation or pain.

Secondly, they moved him from the bed into the recliner with the ceiling lift again today. He sat up for about 2 hours and his vitals stayed strong the whole time. He finally asked to be put back in bed because his butt hurt.

Third, they trach-collared him for almost 4 hours today. This means they shut off the ventilator and let him breathe on his own, while wearing a "collar" that humidifies the air he breathes in. This is great progress for his lungs and is a step towards getting rid of the trach altogether. They had another surprise waiting for us when we got back from getting supper- they were able to put on what's called a passy-muir valve, which allows him to speak in a mecahnic-like voice. It was fantastic to hear him talk & he was pretty happy himself. He was asking us different questions and even quoted a few lines from "The Ringer", joking around (his family will appreciate this!). He wanted us to make sure his family knew that he loved them & to let the "guys at work" know that he thanked them for their prayers & support.

For those of you who told me to "bring on the sap", I do have one make-me-blush moment to share. As I was walking in to Zane's room this morning, he looked at his male nurse and mouthed, "Isn't she beautiful?". I just shook my head.. he must be trying to get more foot massages! :)

We are definitely on another high tonight. These were all big steps, and we are just praising God for the progress! ALL the glory goes to HIM. He has been working miracles from day one and we will ever be thankful.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Late Night

Today was another good day. Zane was a bit more tired today because he didn't get very solid sleep last night. His night nurse told us that he'd been coughing a lot throughout the night, but seemed to settle down this morning. He rested a good part of the day, but was awake for certain periods of time. He did fantastic in his therapy today. He keeps pushing harder & doing more than he has to. His therapists got done with him today and as a joke asked him if he wanted to do it all again. He shrugged his shoulders & said "Sure". I had told him yesterday that he'd get out of here faster if he worked extra hard at his exercises, so he must have taken me seriously!

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The paragraph above was as far as I got writing an update last night (11.9.10). I got a call from Zane's nurse at 10pm because he was asking for me to come over. So, I walked back over to the hospital and spent some time with him. He was a bit uncomfortable and had a higher temp so I just did little things to help him relax. His feet were getting really dry so I did plenty of massaging with lotion. He would rest for a little while then wake up and ask me to do something else. At about 12:30am he decided he wanted to do his PT & OT exercises, so I helped him do those. I figured it would tire him out enough that he'd fall asleep and get some real rest. He sure is one tough cookie. He pushed himself and did lots of stretching and strength exercises. Shortly after that he calmed down and fell asleep. I'd been asking him on and off whether he needed me to stay or not, and he'd always wanted me to stay, so I told him I'd be there as long as he needed me. I got decently comfy in a chair beside his bed, holding his hand, and just sat for a while. At about 1:15am I was praying and just felt like God was telling me it was okay to leave. Zane had just been stirring a bit so I touched his forehead and asked him if was okay if I went back and got some sleep. He told me it was okay & said "Thank you" & "I love you". I got back to the apartment around 1:30. The funny thing is.. I didn't even feel tired or wished that I'd been able to get to bed earlier. I would have sat at his side all night if it meant he felt more comforted. He's my everything, and just to have him alive is reason enough for me to do ANYTHING for him.

Today Zane's ventilator settings are turned down a bit more, which gets him one step closer to being able to talk & eventually get the trach out altogether. They finally found a likely culprit for his fevers. Zane has an infection in his lungs and they have started the appropriate antibiotics. This is not a huge concern, as it is completely treatable and the antibiotics should cover it just fine. He's still a bit sleepy today, but when awake, he's completely alert. They took the central line out of his neck this afternoon and put another one back in almost the same spot. This was just routine, to eliminate any other source of infection.

He's still making steady progress and it is SO wonderful to have his mind "with us" now. God's healing power and the complexity of the bodies He's given us amazes me daily. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We have truly been blessed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

THE Day

The doctors and nurses told us that Zane would just "come out of it" one day, and it would be obvious that his mind was back. Today was that day.

Zane had an amazing day.. it just got better as time went on. It was as if the majority of the fogginess lifted & his mind was clear. {sidenote- when I say "talked" I'm meaning "mouthed" in this post. All our "conversations" were us talking & him mouthing words to us.} He carried on many conversations- more than I can recall on the blog. He's remembering things- like his family visiting yesterday & things we told him then. His sense of time is coming back- he remembers the date, and asks us what time of day it is. He said once, "Time is going slowly". We reminded him that while it felt slow in his hospital bed right now, he was actually healing quickly, and time would start flying before long. They're seriously weaning his IV meds & transitioning to oral meds via his feeding tube.

His temps were moderate all day, but were up a little again this evening. It could be partly due to more activity though. He's now getting full occupational therapy on his arms & hands twice a day, in addition to physical therapy on his legs. He was pretty tired out this afternoon after all his therapy, so we told him to take a little nap. Before his nap, he let us know that he wanted an extra blanket because he was cold, an extra pillow under his knees, his bed laid back a bit, and the lights off. And of course, he got whatever he wanted. :) He's still thirsty, so we're still giving him swabs of water or other clear liquids. This evening, we were sitting in the waiting room when his nurse called out & said he was asking for me to come in.

I went in and spent almost 2 hours talking with him, holding his hand, just watching him rest, and doing whatever he asked me to do. That consisted of: washing his feet, lightly scratching his legs, massaging his feet, giving him water swabs, getting cool cloths for his forehead, and answering a variety of questions. There were times his personality definitely shone through. He was trying to tell me that the cloth on his head was getting hot and for some reason I couldn't figure out that he was saying "hot". Finally he got fed up with me and mouthed each letter rather emphatically, "H-O-T". I 'got it' then & laughed as I grabbed it to cool it down for him. We had another little 'moment' later on when I got up to cool his cloth off for him & he was mouthing something to me. I tried just about everything I could think of to figure out what he was saying, and I could tell he was getting bothered. Finally, I pieced it together & realized he was saying, "Wrap it around ice". I let out an excited "OH! Why didn't I think of that??" & he puffed his cheeks and rolled his eyes at me with a grin on his face. He's definitely getting back to himself. We, of course, exchanged several "I love you"s and when I told him I would be here every step of the way & never leave him, he said "Thank you" with a couple tears in his eyes. I went out & let him rest while we grabbed some supper.

My mom, his mom, and I went to get supper downstairs and then came back up to his room. While we were in there we chatted with him some more, gave him more water swabs, and more foot massages. We called our dads and his sisters so they could talk to Zane. They said things out loud, Zane mouthed the response, and I "translated" out loud. It was pretty neat. I did get teary-eyed once.. his mom told him that someone had said that I looked like an angel [totally not having a pride moment here- just had to include it for the story :) ]. He responded by saying "She's my angel... my guardian angel". Yeah.. cue the tears. He saw me getting all emotional and was smiling so I told him "Honey! You can't say these things and make me cry- you know I'm a sap!". He just grinned and said "It's okay". We prayed with him before we left & he said "God is healing me".

That He is! My heart is just full tonight.. thanking God for such a wonderful day with my husband. God is SO, so faithful. It's been a rough 4 weeks, but one moment looking in Zane's eyes the way we did tonight is enough to make the waiting worth it. I could go on forever, but I'm sure not everyone wants to read my sappy ramblings about how much I love my husband and my God for the rest of the night, so I'll keep it short. Amazing day.. and I am SO thankful.

Gradual Progress

Please forgive my slacking in posting- When family is here, I often run out of time or forget to post an update. Zane's still progressing on slowly. His temp continues to fluctuate up and down a bit, but the cultures they sent to the lab haven't grown anything yet. In other words, there's still no sign of infection. He's still awake intermittently, but sleepy over all. He seems very thirsty, and is always asking for water when he wakes up. Our burn survivor friend told us that that was one of the worst things when he woke up as well & that Gatorade was the only that quenched his thirst. You better believe we'll be buying cases of it when Zane's able to drink. Yesterday, Zane asked me (mouthing still, not talking), "When can I have a glass of water?". I explained that it would be a few days because of the "tube in his throat". He looked a little disgruntled, but the swabs seem to suffice for now.

Yesterday morning Zane had asked what day it was again & we told him. Later in the afternoon he asked, "When is Thanksgiving?". It seemed like he had at least retained the information from that morning & remembered that he'd lost a few weeks that afternoon. Once, when I was giving him a swab for his mouth, I asked him if he wanted his teeth brushed & he excitedly nodded yes. He's been pretty picky about brushing his teeth the past few months, so I'm sure he enjoyed it. He's been seeing occupation and physical therapists almost every day. I've been in his room several times during OT & although very tight when they start, his arms and hands loosen up a lot by the time they're done. Yesterday they were able to stretch his right hand to touch his forehead! He does really well squeezing & moving with his left hand, but can't bend his right hand enough to squeeze yet. He gets a little frustrated because he's lost a lot of strength in his arms, especially the right side. But, he never tells them to stop- he just grits his teeth & pushes it harder. He's definitely a fighter & even in his half-awake state, he's working hard to get his strength and mobility back.

Later in the afternoon and evening, he got restless again. He told me his legs were itching- which is actually a good sign that the skin is healing! After trying to throw his legs over the sides of the bed again, his nurse had to give him some medication (Versed, for those wondering) to calm him down. He's still receiving a lot of medication, but they're trying to find a happy medium where he's awake, but not in pain. We'll get there eventually!

Each day that goes by, I get more excited about when he'll truly "come out of it" & be able to talk to us. God continues to provide for our needs, and sends us precious little blessings in the form of cards, emails, words from strangers, & even little whispers of encouragement to our souls.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Visiting

Today was another slow, but steady day. Zane was a little sleepier today than yesterday, but woke up enough to recognize his parents & grandparents & chat a little. He always gets a big smile on his face when he sees someone he recognizes & you could tell he was pleasantly surprised to see his family from Ohio here. He asked us what day it was & we told him November 6. He looked a little confused and said "November?". I reminded him he'd been sleeping for a little while, but that he was healing great. He seemed to understand. While dad was in his room, dad asked Zane if he remembered what happened. Zane said no, so dad told him that there was an accident in the substation. Zane mouthed, "What did I do wrong?". Dad reassured him that he didn't do anything wrong, and that it was just an accident. As tough as it was to hear that Zane thought he'd done something wrong, it was good to know that he was processing facts enough to have that thought.

He was pretty sleepy the rest of the times we saw him. This evening, his temp was up to 101.6, and he was a little more uncomfortable. He kept moving around so I asked him what was hurting. He told me, but I couldn't read his lips. I started saying body parts and he shook his head each time until I said "butt". Poor, guy- my butt would be hurting if I'd been in bed for 3 1/2 weeks too! His nurse moved him so he was more comfortable and Zane kept sleeping.

Please continue to pray for the fevers- they sent off cultures of his sputum, urine, and blood this morning when his temps went up for the first time. Healing is coming, but skin never heals fast enough when you stare at it every day. :) It would be easy for us to get impatient and frustrated at the slow pace right now, but God is constantly reminding us that Zane's truly come so far, and we are sooo much further along than we were a couple weeks ago! It's all a matter of perspective.. and thanks to God's grace, we're choosing to focus on the progress rather than the delay.

{this would be my crazy husband, "drinking" the centerpiece at a friend's wedding}

A Good Day

Zane had a great day yesterday. His fevers stayed down pretty much the whole day & all his vitals remained strong. They added a drug in the morning to help with his delirium, which did help immensely, but made him a little sleepy. When we went in to see him, he was pretty responsive when we talked to him, but closed his eyes when we weren't talking.. almost like someone who is just utterly exhausted. His nurse decided that they would try something new- getting him in a chair. They have a lift that comes down from the ceiling & attaches to a harness underneath Zane. It picks him up in the air, glides him over to a recliner beside the bed, and puts him down in the chair. They let him sit up in the chair for over an hour. This is great for his lungs and his muscles.

While he was in the chair, he communicated with us, telling us things like he was thirsty, wanted a pillow under his ankle, etc. He can't drink or eat anything yet because of the trach, but we can give him little sponge swabs with liquids on them. He LOVES the swabs, and I can imagine why- his mouth has got to be so dry! His nurse brought us a cup of apple juice to soak the swabs in, and he got even more excited about the apple swabs! The little bit of liquid trickling down his throat caused him to cough every now and then so we told him the swabs were making him do it & asked him if he still wanted more. He (ever so emphatically) nodded his head yes, so the swabs kept coming!

Dad came back down last night and was again shocked at Zane's progress after a week. The donor sites on his legs are healing up fantastically! His face looks almost perfect, and the problem spot under his chin is even making progress. Zane recognized dad and smiled. His smile is always our favorite thing to see. Back home, Zane has a bit of a hate relationship with my parents' dog, Kobie. Dad told Zane that even Kobie missed him, and Zane smiled from ear to ear. I'm sure that if he were able, he would have been laughing. We told him that his parents and grandparents were coming the next day and he smiled again. I held his hand and said, "Zane, can you feel me holding your hand?". He nodded as he squeezed my hand and mouthed "I want to hold you". I just about melted. :) He also asked about his best friend & cousin, Scott. We asked him if he wanted his music on and he shook his head and mouthed, "I want to sleep". So, we let him sleep and went back to the apartment.

Thursday was a hard day, but God is so faithful. He gave us a great day yesterday & really renewed us. When things get a little hard, I just remind myself that God won't bring me through more than I can handle. We go through a rough patch & then God gives us a day like yesterday and it lets our minds and hearts rest a little.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bittersweet

Zane's fevers stayed down today and they turned his vent settings down so he's doing almost all the breathing on his own. We met with all his doctors and therapists this morning, and were given nothing but good reports. They're looking at getting him out of ICU & into a regular room on the floor within a week and a half or two weeks. His white count is coming down and there are still no signs of infection.

Mom and I were downstairs at Au Bon Pain eating some late lunch when his nurse called me to come upstairs. Zane had woken up some more & they thought I should be in there. He was much more 'with it' & responsive. He was very calm and would mouth answers to all our questions appropriately. He didn't remember where he was, but we told him & explained that he had been hurt, etc. He seemed to understand, but couldn't comprehend anything detailed that we told him. He was still coughing up a lot of "stuff", so mom and I got pretty good at grabbing the wand to suction out his mouth. He told us he wanted water & that his mouth was dry so we got him some wet swabs (he can't drink with the trach is in). Thanks to a tip from another burn survivor, I asked Zane if he wanted a cold cloth for his head. He nodded yes & loved it- always wanting me to keep it cold for him. We're slowly getting better at lip reading; He was able to tell us if he was in pain and ask us some questions (those that we could figure out). He loved having his feet rubbed as well & could squeeze my hand when I told him to.

He dozed off a bit while I was sitting at the foot of his bed. Then, all of a sudden, his eyes shot open & he looked very confused. He started mouthing things very emphatically, but I couldn't figure out what he was saying. He got increasingly agitated & angry, making very demonstrative faces & "yelling" (although of course, he can't talk). The nurse quickly gave him some more meds to calm him down. We were told that coming off the drugs wouldn't be easy, so we're trying to remind ourselves that this is normal. It's great to see him awake more, but it's also hard to see him struggle.

They'll continue to try backing off the meds, and do their best to keep him comfortable. Over all, he is doing fantastic, and we just need to help him get through this time. We're trusting God that He is in control and will flush Zane's body from all the medicines when he's ready. While it's not fun to watch, we know that it is just a necessary step in the process & that God will guard his mind. It won't be long now before the withdrawals and delirium subside, and we can really talk to him. Thank God for progress!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Progress & More Prayers

Zane made some great progress today. His temps stayed under 100 all day. They slowly lightened up the meds, but not a significant amount. By this evening he was opening his eyes and responding to questions somewhat. I think he could recognize who we are, but he's still pretty "high". When he saw mom he smiled and when he saw me he smiled as well and them puckered up for a kiss. They gave him a little more medicine this evening, and before we left he was sleeping pretty soundly.

I've had the opportunity to meet up with a few burn survivors over the past couple days & it has helped immensely. They have been so helpful in helping me to understand what Zane will be going through & how I can best help him. We are meeting with the doctors in the morning for a regular family meeting/update & are looking forward to hearing the difference in their opinions from the last family meeting (which was right after Zane had his roughest night at least 2 1/2 weeks ago).

I heard some devastating news tonight about a high school friend who was just killed in combat overseas. My heart truly breaks for his family, as I glimpsed a small picture of what that could be like. James always knew that he wanted to be a marine, and he was an excellent one. My utmost respect and appreciation goes to what he did for his country. I am reminded just how thankful I am that Zane is alive. I will never feel pity for my own situation when so many others are hurting even worse. Tonight, I ask that you would lift James' family up in prayer along with Zane. We know that our Lord can heal their hearts, but this is not easy for anyone & I know they would appreciate each and every prayer.

Accidental Wake Up

I had every intention of posting an update last night, but we got called over to the hospital a little unexpectedly and stayed rather late. Zane had a relatively quiet day yesterday, and his fever crept back up intermittently. Last night his nurse was turning him in bed and his central line came out. One of the stitches holding it in let go. This is the IV line that went into his neck and delivered all his sedation meds and some of the pain meds. They had to call for a doctor to come insert a new one. Before they could turn the meds back on, they had to verify its placement via xray. Needless to say, Zane started waking up because all his meds had been shut off. The nurse gave him a couple shots of sedatives, but he was still pretty alert.

Once they had the new line placed, mom and I were able to go in and be with him while he was awake. He kept asking the nurse to clean out his mouth/brush his teeth with this little suction swab they have. He was on a bit of an oral hygiene kick before the accident. :) He tried to move around some, but stayed relatively calm- which is good! He smiled when he opened his eyes and saw me, but we're not totally sure if he was really recognizing anyone. Mom joined me in humming Amazing Grace to him, and it seemed to relax him some. Before long, they had the xray reading and were able to start his meds back up. Within minutes, he was back in his "happy place" & resting. It's much easier to come back to the apartment at night knowing he's resting well.

Today's the day they'll slowly start to back off the meds. We may not see a big change initially, but within a few days he should be more alert. Thank you all so much for your prayers. A couple people asked what they could be praying for me for.. and the short answer would be patience. It's a bit slow-going right now, and I'm a wee bit anxious to be able to communicate with my hubby. We hit the 3 week mark yesterday, so it's been quite a while! I'm finding that while I may not know how I'm going to handle tomorrow or the next day, God gives me exactly what I need for the day ahead each morning. A precious friend from Ohio emailed me and told me "We don't yet have what we need to face tomorrow because we are not there yet". I have reminded myself of those words over and over the past few weeks. I'm just taking one day at a time, and trusting that God will provide for our needs each day. So far, He has, and I am so grateful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Patching & Healing

Zane stayed steady throughout the night, but spiked his normal fever this morning. He's been spiking at relatively the same times each day- once in the morning and once in the evening. They can't tie it to any infection so they took him off the antibiotic today and will watch him closely for any changes. The pneumonia seems to have subsided as well.

On Friday they had some left over skin that was not used for the grafting which they banked. They decided to use that skin today to patch some areas around his armpits and abdomen. Overall, the grafts are taking beautifully. His nurse said that on Saturday it looked like the back graft had taken about 40%. She said that today it looked like it was about 85% taken, which is a great improvement in two days! There was some question early on whether or not he would need grafting under his chin. However, it seems to be healing just fine on its own.

Right now the goal is to start waking him on Wednesday. Please pray that he comes down off the meds peacefully and that the grafts and donor sites continue to heal quickly.