I last left you hanging as to whether our family would be able to make the trip to Chicago. . . WE DID!!! It was a very blessed time at the Harvest University conference being able to connect with so many dear friends and partners in ministry! Hope and Gabs made their annual trip to the American Girl Doll store, which was a thrill as usual. The highlight of the trip by far though for all of us, was being able to connect with so many precious people, new and old friends! Our hosts, the Miller family, are always incredibly gracious and serve our family so lovingly while visiting, so our time with them was very blessed as always! The trip there and back was definitely the hardest part for us, especially Hope. She suffered with back pain during the travel the most. Each time we experienced a delay in our arrival that increased our time spent on the plane which made it harder on our girlie. She was a trooper though and coped by sitting cross-legged sideways across two seats with either Trevor or I in one of the seats, holding her head and upper body. It was cramped, but it gave her poor back and neck an option for some position changes which helped her cope with the pain and make it through.
We were home for only 5 days, and then gone again for a week of family vacation with Trevor's parents. It was just a 3 1/2 hour drive away, which we broke up to help Hope tolerate it better. The time was relaxed and wonderful for our family, and special for the girls to have that time with their grandparents. However, we did not get a lot of sleep. Hope's back really suffered on the poor mattress/bed options, and we finally put thon the mattress on the floor to help her. She still would call for us about 10 times throughout the night which made for little sleep for any of us. None the less, it was still a blessed time away and we were thankful for the break and a time of just being able to hang low!
We returned and two days later, I took my father to a doctor appointment, that then resulted in him being hospitalized for the next 8 days. We are thankful that dad was able to be in a hospital closer to our home where mom could stay with us and we all could go to/from the hospital to be with him. So Hope and Gabs were able to spend time with their other set of grandparents this past week, even though it was mostly at the hospital. We are thankful that my dad received the treatment that he needed and now is set up to have the necessary follow up and proper management of his new condition. It was a blessing to again have my nursing background to be able to help dad with understanding his new diagnosis and all the new lifestyle changes that would need to start happening to manage his condition.
Well that's a quick review of the past few weeks, and why you have not heard from me! However, I'm sure you would love to hear how our Hopey is doing and how she is continuing to recover from her spinal and pelvic fusion surgery early September! So on to that . . .
Hope continues to improve very slowly. Her pain was improving, but with all the travel and being away from the comforts of home, as well as longer times in her wheelchair, Hope began to have more pain last week. Some mornings it was so bad that it felt like the first month of recovery all over again. She was begging not to get out of her bed! However, she is back on track again this week, since being home for a steady period of time. We are very thankful for that! Her back is still sore, and the incision area is numb and tender, but again, this is to be expected, and will likely continue for 3-6 months. Her neck is still probably the most painful, and recently she has started having more shoulder and arm pain.
Hope has returned full time to school! The first few full days were pretty tiring and she was having more pain at the time, but she is doing fantastic back at school now! She is really enjoying being able to interact with her classmates and teachers, and she is doing fantastic at her school work. Her favorite class is Creative Writing. We are so incredibly thankful for such a terrific school that has been such a wonderful blessing for our girlies and our family! Here is a fun picture of our cute girlies for the Duck Dynasty dress up day this past week. . .
|Can you guess who these two cuties are? Think Duck Dynasty? You got it right if you picked. . . Jase and Missy!!! : ) Although I'm pretty sure that Jase never wears pink!!!|
|Gotta love that "beard!" : )|
Hope has continued to improve in her movement, balance, strength and abilities. It is so encouraging to see this as her healing continues, especially being reminded that she has not even hit the half way mark yet in her recovery! So we are excited to see what yet the Lord will help her continue to figure out how to do in her new "body shape!" She is being able to sit up with more balance, although she is still pretty "tipsy," and requires assistance with not falling over. Her legs are getting stronger again, and since her pain has improved this week, we have been practicing taking a few steps and walking. She is making a great effort and we are eager to set up a plan to continue to practice walking as she continues to improve and can tolerate it. Her legs are still weak compared to before surgery, but it is improving slowly as time continues. Hope is being able to lean forward and is using her arms more for such tasks as brushing her hair. Her shoulders and arms have been more sore, but still good for her to be using her limbs more again! Hope is figuring out some ways to turn herself in bed at night too. . . this is very exciting as Trev and I get up regularly in the middle of the night to assist her with position changes. . . our girlie has always been a mover! She cannot turn independently all the time, but again seeing some progress in this area is encouraging at this stage and we will see how the Lord continues to help her in regaining and even increasing her movement, her abilities, and her independence!
Hope has had some significant struggles with sleeping over the past few weeks. She is waking up frequently at night, requesting frequent help, sleeping restlessly, having difficulty falling asleep and then waking feeling very tired, sore and frustrated. This past week, it has improved again. This is such a praise, as sufficient sleep is so important for her continued health, recovery, and even pain control.
Overall Hope looks fantastic and is doing very well. . . we are so very thankful!!! She has returned to attending youth group, which she loves. We are back at church every Sunday. We are able to go on outings again, fairly similar to usual, but we do consider how long Hope will be in her wheelchair and plan times out of it for rest of her back and comfort from the pain in her neck, shoulders and back. It feels fantastic to be at a place where routine and normal family schedules can, for the most part, resume! We keep expressing how thankful we are for God's grace, His continued healing/recovery for our sweet girlie, and the fact that she has had no major complications thus far! Hope will see her back surgeon for her 3 month follow up and a set of x-rays to check her hardware out in a couple more weeks. She continues to be unable to be immersed in water for baths or swimming. It will be good to hear what the surgeon will say when we see him, and see Hope move on to the next stage of her recovery, where things will seem better than before the surgery. . . Hope will tell you that she still does not feel that way. As her caregivers and family though, we are feeling that she is better than before the surgery at this point. I think the loss of some important abilities, and the pain has kept Hope from feeling too many gains at this point. . . but we firmly believe that God's hand over this surgery happening, means that day will yet come. Until then, we desire to trust Him, praise and thank Him for His many blessings and graces, and encourage Hope to do the same, as she leans into Him for her strength and comfort.
To conclude, I thought you would enjoy this picture of her riding home from school in the front seat of the van yesterday. . .
|It was so fun to have a front seat buddy on the way home from school on Friday!!! Hope was super excited, especially when the she found out she's even big enough for the air bag NOT to turn off!!! : )|
|Gabi loves to "ham it up" for the camera. Of course she chose to ride in Hope's empty "seat" on the way home, and she had fun displaying her feelings about being left out of the front seat rides!!! She's a hoot!!! : )|
Hope was thrilled with her "bird's eye" view out the front window! We had fun quizzing her on what she saw as we drove home. When I asked her if she could see the horses in the field, she replied that she could see THREE. There were only two horses, but there was a piece of equipment in the field with them, and that was the third "horse" that she was seeing. When passing a field filled with black and brown cows, Hope described it as black and brown dots covering the field. She could see trees and buildings. It seems that she can see that there is a shape there, and can make a pretty good guess as to what the shape is based on it's size and shape. However, more distinct shapes such as a cow or a horse, are not distinguishable for her. But we are still encouraged that she is continuing to learn how to understand and discern what she is seeing. We will continue to pray and see what the Lord will do in the healing of her brain to see again! We will be trying to set up the daily light box therapy for Hope as soon as we can, as we feel it is beneficial towards improving her cortical vision impairment. This can be done at school or at home, but it is hard to find time among all the other things that fill Hope's days!
Well, dear ones, that at least gives you a quick update on where Hope is currently at. Thank you for your continued prayers, and for your faithful care and concern for our sweet girl! What a privilege and honour it is to walk this journey God has called us to, with so many faithfully walking along side us, through all the ups and downs! You are such an incredible encouragement to us and we thank God for you, dear ones!
You are so loved!!!