Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sprite Wins!

Just got off the phone with my dad:

Swallow test--passed!
No more feeding tube!
First liquid nourishment of choice: Sprite.

Oh, & I almost forgot--he got the neck brace off too!

The doctors indicate that unless we hit any unexpected bumps, Brian will be moved down to the regular care (10th) floor in "the next couple of days."

Can you believe it!?!? Sixteen days in ICU & he's healed so much that he's ready for the regular floor. Some of the nurses were predicting he'd be in there for a month or more but then again some seeing the shape he was in when he arrived December 14th thought he might not be alive either.

My dad also said he had a weightlifter/bodybuilder of a nurse last night, familiar with our little magician's reputation, who tied him down & told him to try & even get out of that one. Ten minutes later...the nurse is at the sink & hears "tap, tap..." Brian's holding the gloves up in his hand.

Oh, and did I mention that he also pulled the new trach out entirely (before he'd just been popping the tube in & out) last night? And, yes, the staff have decided once again, well, maybe he's trying to tell us he doesn't need this thing...for now.

He seems in better spirits at least for today & I think my dad is actually being convinced that he's seeing enough progress to take a break from his 24 hour vigilance...besides, I tried to tell him, you gotta go away sometime if you ever want Brian to miss you.

I also couldn't help but notice that he's officially hit 100 followers on the blog & I know there are so many more checking in on him too. Thank you for your concern, encouragement, & answered prayers!

Praise God for His Love & Faithfulness! He's given Brian natural gifts to pull through this situation & building those gifts into so many more:

Many, O LORD my God, [are] Your wonderful works [Which] You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; [If] I would declare and speak [of them], They are more than can be numbered (Psalm 40:5).

I absolutely CANNOT wait to see Brian this weekend (& from what I'm told he might actually miss me too [that's there just to remind him when he reads this blog & he wants me to leave him alone, that at one point in all of this he actually missed me & I'm not going anywhere, Bible verses & all]!!! :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

That Much Closer

Not too much to report today.

Same fatigued, loopy drugged, & sorta angry Brian as yesterday. Not that we all don't understand, at least as best we can, given his situation.

From a few very brief conversations with Leah & my mom today, I understand they started the swallow test & will do a follow-up tomorrow. I guess that will tell us what level of liquid nourishment he can sustain, which hopefully means no more feeding tube! Once the right people can catch him in the right state of mind, they can do a few neck commands with him to make sure he's not experiencing any neck pain & perhaps remove the neck brace. This ought to take one less discomfort off his load, as the neck brace sorta pushes your neck up--all the time.

Houdini was apparently at work again last night, very restless, & pulling at things. He did get at his chest tube but only disconnected it, rather than pull it out, thank God. They also replaced his current trach with a smaller one. This ought to show you how loopy he is right now--he pulled it out but also replaced it on his own today?!? They do have him back on the ventilator for short periods of time just to allow him some rest. Even breathing on his own, with the state of his lungs, is so, so fatiguing.

My dad continued the paperwork process to begin to acquire financial assistance & has a good grasp on things in that department for Brian now too.

I just want to thank you all again on behalf of Brian & my family. Your prayers, encouragement to remain faithful, & your own trust in the Lord that he'll continue to deliver Brian are exactly what we need.

This isn't easy for anyone, of course. Again, a personal testimony. I have to say that the more I ask for the Holy Spirit to guide me in trusting the Lord to care for Brian & how I can be used to that effect, the more I am shown that God is in control & providing so much to Brian & his supporters as he moves towards recovery. Yes, it sounds freaky to some of you, well a lot of you, I know, but I can't tell you the moments of peace this gentle comfort & guidance brings, particularly when you know that things are unarguably so much out of your control (John 14:16-17). I don't think I really knew this Comforter to be true until this car accident happened to my baby brother.

I also know that Brian is going to need people to be strong & true in their faith that God will turn this to good as the things here are seldom going to provide him any lasting comfort...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your love & support.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Busy Day

Today was a busy day for Brian...wait, let me back up & start with last night.
He pulled the feeding tube out, ah, yes, again.

So, like the time he popped the balloon of the trach, they are keeping him off the feeding tube for now. They increased the fluid nourishment through one of his IVs while they wait for the doctor who is qualified to perform a swallow test. The swallow test will determine if Brian is able to go off the feeding tube & begin receiving liquid nourishment. If he is unable to swallow sufficiently, they will have to find another way to keep the feeding tube in place.

With the holidays, we're sort of holding on this procedure & hopeful it will take place tomorrow morning. Who can say for sure, but we must admit that if we look at patterns, Brian seems to know when he's had enough of something to pull it out. Hopefully this will be the case with the feeding tube.

The doctors also gave him an electrical shock to basically restart his heart rate. So, his heart rate is normal for now but the benefit of this procedure often is temporary. However, they indicate this irratic heart rate is normal, particularly for patients who sustain the level of trauma to the chest that Brian has & it will not impede rehab, etc., when that time comes. They also inserted another IV to give him medicine to help control the heart rate.

The physical therapist also came by to give him a workout. She said he fared average for someone in his situation. She sat him up on the side of the bed & even that is difficult for him. He will basically have to re-learn balance due to the time he's spent in bed & the shift of his center of gravity with the (though extent still unknown) impact the spinal compression made to his legs. Up until this point, he's had spotty sessions with her, but she plans to return tomorrow.

They capped his trach today to allow him to talk since he's been wanting to so badly and guess what he said? Nothing. Well, he did finally say "mom" in response to my mom's specific requests. My parents & his sister Leah said they are sensing some pretty intense anger in him right now but this is coupled with some heavy meds & fatigue from working with the physical therapist earlier today. They can't keep it capped for long because he's still getting a lot of fluid out of his lungs but it's a start, I guess.

He still remains fiesty, the evening hours are when he gets himself in the most trouble with the tubes & such.

My dad got a great start on all of the paperwork today. The social worker & the "4th floor staff" were most helpful in getting my dad pointed in the right direction so it's encouraging to know that the resources he'll need will be available to him without much lag time.

So, when I reflect back on all of the progress he's made, even in the last 24 hours, I have to say I am amazed. Fifteen days ago, we weren't sure if he would be alive. Not only is he but he's making pretty rapid progress for someone on death's door two weeks ago. It's almost like he's been saved to be born again into a new person, one where the focus of life will have to be more than just the temporal things (John 3:1-3:10).

I pray that Brian will see this as a glorious opportunity for his own spirit, to edify all of us with whom he's fostered such strong relationships already, & to share God's love with many, many more to come.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Just spoke with my parents. Brian had an EKG & ultrasound to identify potential causes for the irregular heart rate. Both tests revealed nothing more than we already know, the fact that he has a irregular heart rate. They are going to start him on beta blockers this evening. The doctors would like to know what might be causing this; however, it is a good thing that tests have been ruling out more serious concerns. They also indicate that this is something they see in trauma patients.

Brian was a lot less agitated & fearful today. Yesterday, the only comfort he seemed to find from all the pain & madness was being held by his mom (And I know those of you who know his mom know that she's one of the best mom-type caretakers out there, awwww....Mrs. Keeter! I know that's what you are all saying right now!)

Nonetheless, he still managed to pull out three feeding tubes (as in the one feeding tube had to be reinserted four times today) & the catheter despite being tied in bed with mitts over his hands. Really. Thus, the ICU nurses have nicknamed him "Houdini."

I like to think that these things, prolonging his stay in ICU, are not in & of themselves bad. At least, for now, he's left the chest tube alone. I think his darkest hours will come when he's well enough to leave ICU but not well enough to be transferred to the rehab hospital & they'll have him on the regular care floor. As anyone with any ICU experience will tell you, ICU Nurses are honest to goodness angels & their patient load is so small (two patients per ICU Nurse) that the level of care he receives in ICU will not be even close on the regular floor. So anything that can minimize his time there may turn out to be a great blessing.

He's still breathing fine on his own & when he gets the horrible but healing cough after awhile he'll let you know that he needs the nurse to come & suction his lungs. It's such another of many painful things he's enduring right now. My mom said he's really trying to talk again today & though he can't, he's made it clear he wants out of there & he wants to go home.

His temperature also is holding steady.

The priest who worked closely with the State basketball team came by to see Brian today & though Brian was sleeping soundly when he came, he stayed awhile to talk with Brian & my parents & prayed for him. From hearing my mom's report of the decreased fear & agitation he showed today, we can have no doubts that our constant prayers on his behalf are being answered.

Eliana & my parents did give him a break this evening & let him loose, just making sure they pretty much held his hands in case he tried any funny business, I'm sure he appreciated the break.

My father has a meeting tomorrow with the trauma social worker to begin filling out the paperwork to find possible financial resources to help provide for Brian's recovery. We all know how convoluted & bureaucratic this sort of stuff can be, but if there's anybody up to the challenge of making sure Brian's needs are met in ways we can control, we all know it's Kermit.

Anyway, please keep praying for our Houdini!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where We're at & What You Can Do

So, here specifically is where we are since Christmas Eve:

Brian's nurse for the past two & next three nights is a traveling nurse with a lot of experience working with spinal cord injury patients. She noticed his agitation & decided to untie his arms to calm him down by allowing him to move around a little bit on Christmas night. This helped him a lot but as he is known to do, he ripped out another tube that night--the feeding tube. She knew this was a risk in untying him but felt it was worth it to give him some wiggle room, which we all agree was a good thing.

Anyway, that warranted a procedure to put the feeding tube back in & a chest x-ray to ensure it was properly located (they weight the bottom of it & it goes through the nose all the way down to the tip of the intestine!). The chest x-ray at that time showed that the lungs were clearer than they had been so they decided to not put him back on any antibiotics & let his body naturally fight the pneumonia. So that was obvious good news.

Yesterday, in spite of being restrained again & now with these padded mitts/boxing glove things he pulled the balloon off his trach. Yes, he did. So, instead of doing a procedure to fix it, they've left him off the ventilator to see how well he can breathe on his own. They basically just have the ventilator tube with a neck mask thing wrapped around the trach to just give him that little bit more oxygen. Again, not necessarily bad news since he's sustaining breaths on his own.

He's starting to come around more--which is a very good & a very hard thing, I think. He's a little more playful: he put his arm around one of his sisters, patted our heads, gave us fake smiles, etc. but he's also very visibly agitated & frustrated. He desperately wants out of bed, he wants to be untied, & he's sneaky. He even will pull the mitts up to his mouth to try & rip them off. He seems a little scared about where he is (Who can blame him, he's been tied in bed since December 14th?) & though we love to see he's fighting, he's really borderline on fighting being against his favor.

Today when we went to see him, they were just rolling him back into the room from a CT scan. His heart rate was very irregular last night & he wasn't responding to medication to regulate it. They found a lot of fluid in his right lung, which was surprising because the right lung is the stronger one, which they think has been interfering with what his heart needs to remain steady. They put in another chest tube & drained over a liter of fluid. The nurse explained that when someone gets brought into trauma they almost hyper-hydrate them & eventually when the body doesn't need all this fluid, has to find a way to get rid of it, which can include going into the lungs. They also have him on an IV similar to those pills you can buy that take a lot of fluid out of your body to help. Though it will take a little while to see if the chest tube solves the heart rate problem, we are hopeful that it will. However, if he pulls this tube out, the potential damage he could do to his lung may force them to reinsert the trach. Since he hasn't been on the trach for more than a couple days, this procedure will be more invasive & will require reinsertation of the throat tube while they take the trach out & replace it. So, though again, not the end of the world, something we really would hate to see him have to go through, if at all avoidable.

Which leads me to what you all can do:

Keep praying.

He's in so much pain & confusion right now: flu-like symptoms from fighting pneumonia, painful coughs producing a lot of fluid from traumatized lungs & beneath broken lungs, the stiffness that comes from almost two weeks lying in the same position in bed, being tied down unable to even scratch your nose when it itches, the fear that comes & goes while in & out of medicated states, a titanium rod recently inserted in your back, tubes in your body where they don't belong, a stomach being fed but not in a way where you feel any sense of satiation or fullness, not knowing where you are or why you there, whether or not your even safe, & not even able to ask the questions to find out the answers, just to a name of few of his circumstances. How can we even comprehend how overwhelming this can be?

We all know how physically strong & gifted Brian is. We now need him to be strengthened mentally & spiritually. Please pray specifically for this. Pray for patience & calm. Pray that he will lean on the Lord & stop fighting to allow his body to physically heal. Pray that Brian will find peace in Him & let go of the understandable fear in all the unknowns of his situation until the time comes to address them.

The nurse I mentioned earlier who is taking care of him at night was so encouraging on Christmas. She said that she's seen so many miracles in her four years of experience. Though this is her first round being assigned to Brian, she saw him when he first got the to Trauma & honestly thought he might not survive, he was in such bad shape. The doctors at that time even said he may not ever use his arms & look at him now--you can't restrain the kid enough to keep his arms down. She said miracles like these can continue to occur because families & friends maintain positive support of the patient & she was adamant that prayers are answered, that God is the one that heals. We don't know what the outcome will be or how we'll get there but we can all keep doing the things we do have control over--praying for Brian to trust in the Lord:

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18:2).

We're already seeing evidence of how trusting in God brings him the much needed peace. Shortly following the chest tube procedure today, Brian T. read John 17 & Brian's very jumpy heart rate & movements immediately calmed. Between these readings, prayers (he nods yes every time you ask to pray over him (& we get nods no, so...) & immediately relaxes) & Eli--he seems to get the peace he desperately needs!

It really shows us how much we do not have control over; however, this is not a bad thing because we serve a kind & loving God who wants us to have a relationship with Him & to trust him. So, please keep praying--strengthening your relationship with Our God & praying that Brian's will be strengthened as well!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Said No Better

A conversation this afternoon with Brian's 16 month old nephew...

Owen: "Mama?"
Owen's father: "She went to see Uncle Brian."
Owen: "Uncle."
Owen's father: "Yes, Owen."
Owen: "Bwwian?"
Owen's father: "Mmm hmmm."
Owen: "Bump bump..........saaaaad."

Guest Post from Brian's Dad, Kermit

My dad asked me to cut & paste the following as he wanted to share his perspective on dealing with this experience with Brian:

I wish to share a little about what has been the most moving Christmas that my family has ever had. With all of the secular distractions out of the way, our focus this Christmas was consistently a spiritual one. We gathered at my sister's house and again in the ICU hospital room united in our thankfulness to have our son, brother, uncle, nephew, and boyfriend alive and with us. The spectrum of our spiritual diversity (Good News Christian with a Mormon foundation, Latino Catholic, and Jewish) was much. We all gathered as children of God, united in our love for God, family, and prayers for Brian. Without a doubt, our Latino-Hanukah-Christmas was the most moving and inspirational event in my nearly 63 years of life. Brian's Mom, girlfriend, sisters, aunt and his special Colombian Mama are providing soothing and reassuring love as is his many special ICU nurses.
I never had or never will know the answers to all the "whys". As I try to find the answers to such complexities, my head spins; frustrations and confusion mount. In my deepest troubled moments, I looked up from closed eyes to see posted in small print a sign on a distant wall. Miserable I was drifting from fear to anger to depression. I forced my self to rise and walk to the small posted sign. It read:
GOD is good. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not upon your own understanding.
I then realized that this tragedy had taken so much from me and my family. Was I to let it take away my faith in GOD, my joy found in the true meaning of Christmas, my love and concern for family and others, and a simple and humble desire to do good to and for others?
Tragedy has taken enough. With the help of GOD and His good works through you and so many others, the resolution to see this through for my son, my family, and for the love for humanity is now strong. I just want to do good for I know that my GOD and HIS SON are good.
God bless you all.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Hope

Not much to report--rough early morning resulting in another procedure to clear lungs. When we saw him he was pretty tired though resting peacefully. We did get a few eye openings & that’s been about the case the remainder of the day.

Again, I have to say that they are taking such wonderful care of him. Everyone at the hospital has been great to him & working hard to address our concerns too. One nurse in particular has really befriended Brian. She said she really likes working with him--he's fun & she enjoys the playful sarcasm. It is amazing how much Brian can communicate (when he's able & he wants to) simply with those eyes. The nurse that came on tonight & will be with him the next four days honestly was a Christmas gift, especially for my dad.

They have been giving him a spectrum of antibiotics for pneumonia & decided today to hold off on all of them to pinpoint a possible bacterium that might be hindering a move past pneumonia. They'll figure this out by most likely doing another lung clearing tomorrow & comparing what they find. The good news is that his right lung is looking pretty good & his white blood cell count is good.

I really feel like these "little" things that keep prolonging his stay in ICU are meant to prepare us all, including him, for the long road ahead. This is basically the way it will be for the next few months, quite possibly even more: A few minor steps of progress & then some frustrating setbacks or plateaus.

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner tonight, painstakingly & graciously prepared by my aunt. She & my uncle are taking such good care of all of us! Eli & her family also joined us. I think I’ve said it before but it merits saying again—she & her family bring such an air of uncomplicated love; a calm sense of genuine care wherever they go. They are absolutely wonderful people & we were so glad to have them join us. Wait till Brian finds out about the Christmas dinner he missed! And she did look quite cute in her dress… ;)

It would be amiss to not take this opportunity to share a testimony with you all. Going through this with Brian & knowing more about the road to recovery right now than he does really, really hurts. How do you get through a situation like this without hope & trust in a loving God? I just don’t think you can. There’s either hope or hopelessness. It’s a choice. We choose hope. Here’s why:

We know that God is good & we are provided for when we believe in Him.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD [is] good; Blessed [is] the man [who] trusts in Him (Psalm 34:8)!

Because He is good, we know that all He does for us is out of love.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Personally, John 3:17 speaks to me even more about that love.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

It’s like what little I’ve learned as a parent of a 16 month old. Sometimes love for my son requires me to make choices that are hard but that I know are necessary for him to learn & develop. If I give him what he wants when he wants it—what sort of life am I setting him up for?

Since God is good & He works in love through sending His Son, I believe in His Son.

As I believe in His Son, I learn that He provides all that I need.
And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst (John 6:35).

I mean, He was born in a feeding trough for goodness sake. The imagery doesn’t get any more literal than that.

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).

These life provisions include Hope.

Behold, the eye of the LORD [is] on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He [is] our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we hope in You (Psalm 33:18-22).

It can be hard to trust in a God we can’t see but evidence of His goodness is everywhere.

Right now, in addition to the work He’s doing in Brian’s life, tangible proof of His existence, His goodness, & His love also comes in the impact he’s made on so many of you & the outpouring of all of your love, support, & prayers for us.

You all.
Your love, compassion, prayers, support, & willingness to believe for the sake of my brother is more proof that there is Hope.

[Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. [Be] kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (Romans 12:9-13).

So there you have it, I have hope in Brian's situation & God gives us reassurance when we seek Him fully.
And you will seek Me and find [Me], when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

We thank you all so much for the Merry Christmas-es you've shared!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Keeter Christmas Eve

Brian is doing so well! He's still on a lot of pain meds & the like but he's really starting to come to ever so slightly. It's so nice to see him without that tube down his throat & he's doing well breathing without too much assistance from the ventilator. He opened his eyes a few good times & seemed to communicate a special personal message with each of us tonight. Man, I love that kid.

He pulled the chest tube out yet again today but they don't think it's a problem this time as his body seems to have moved beyond needing it. Maybe he'll get a discount on the bill to take it out? ;)

Thankfully, the CT scan to check his abdomen & pelvis came back fine.

The physical therapist came by just to do a little stretching with him since he's pretty stove up from being in that bed for so many days. This allows him to be unrestrained--his wrists are tied down tightly to keep him from pulling out all the tubes. He was a little annoyed at first but warmed up to her & even did some of the arm movements in his own direction with her, when he wasn't annoyed & trying to sleep. Well, he started heading towards his face like he had a scratch & so she let him have the freedom to itch. FAKE OUT! He totally started grabbing at his neck brace, trying to get it off, little trickster.

God is taking such good care of him: His fever's going down & so is his heart rate. He was pretty hot last night & today so the nurse is trying to keep him cool with cool compresses & she even taped a small fan to the corner of his bed. Apparently, he gets hot, agitated, & that's when he starts pulling at things. He did it with me today with some tubes & just like the neck brace incident you have to talk him out of pulling things--he's still that physically strong!

Myra brought some more (yes, more--you people have no idea what Keeter Christmas is like) decorations to his room--ornaments for his tree, pictures of Rocco in a Santa hat, window decals, & a nativity scene along with some small goodies she did to share in thanks with ICU staff & other families spending the holidays in the hospital. So, some of this Christmas stuff may annoy Brian but the staff sure like it!

Traditional Christmas Eve dinner was a bit nontraditional. Brian's good friend kindly gave us access to her place which is minutes from the hospital so we had a leisurely meal of Harris Teeter bbq, mac & cheese, potatoes, & asparagus (slim pickings 30 minutes before closing) between the evening & night visiting hours. You know what? It wasn't that bad either. Her neighbor even brought us just baked cookies when she found out we were there--& she doesn't even know us!

What this Christmas Eve did was take away all that great but superfluous stuff & really make the meaning hit home. Christmas for us this year is being thankful for a Savior, who has graciously spared my brother to allow us to be together another year as a family, & the outpouring of love, support, prayers, gifts, & the numerous other blessings from you all.

I subscribe to this great, short daily devotional that really touched me today on the Eve of Christmas & I wanted to share...The Steadfast Faith of Joseph & Mary

If a kind & loving God can ask so much of the parents of Our Savior, we can all keep praying & trusting in God to take care of Brian's needs too...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Trach is in

Just spoke with my mom. The trach is in successfully & they also took the opportunity to manually clear out some more of the fluid in his lungs. He was sedated for these procedures & so they don't expect much response out of him the remainder of the day. In spite of that, my mom said he did open his eyes for a little while!

Don't know if any of you saw previous comments from our good friend, a liver transplant coordinator & former ICU nurse, but she really helps us lay-folk understand the benefits of this procedure. It moves Brian closer to being able to communicate & off of so many sedatives since the tube he'd want to rip out of his throat (& did when he was in the hospital for life-threatening epiglottitis at the age of 3, really) has been taken out for him. It also helps build back up the lung muscles to help him breathe on his own, something a ventilator didn't. It also makes him able to move a bit more since with time he'll spend less time hooked up to a machine.

The CT scan was not until late this afternoon so my parents are still awaiting the results on that but all in all he's hanging in there well.

We're almost ready for Keeter Christmas...though my parents have like seven or eight live trees in & around their house (really), Brian's holding steady with two (assuming no one removed the beautiful white one he got early last week, yes that was a threat) in his room. He's also got a snowman & a great gift of a digital picture frame playing 1,000s of pictures of his most adorable (& only, at least for now, we'll know if he's got another or a 1st niece on the way in early January) nephew.

Just wait till that kid wakes up. I hope TNT has their A Christmas Story marathon running on Thursday. That, with some horribly out of tune Christmas carols from his sister, Myra, ought to make the holidays complete. I can see those eyebrows now... ;)

Status Check Day

Hi all. Thank you again for your support. I have to say again that when the time comes, this blog will be a great journal for Brian to see how far he's come & how much he & his family are loved. Your encouraging posts &, as always, generous gifts in so many ways are such a support for us--both immediately & for him in the future. When my parents hear from how far & wide reaching these expressions of love travel, they are constantly amazed.

Just spoke with my dad...they've yet to do the tracheotomy but are thinking there is a less invasive procedure they can do with the same results later today, just making for that much less of a delay in getting him on the road to recovery.

CT scan also scheduled this afternoon to double check the swelling in abdomen the first surgery addressed (namely making sure the pancreas is still intact), take a look at the pelvis, & just find out how much fluid persists in the lungs.

He's much less agitated today & my dad reports he's picked up on the Bible reading where Brian T. & I left off...can't help but think the two are related. ;)

Will let you all know the results of things once I know. My parents aren't getting as much one-on-one time with the doctors as they would like (Who would with their son in trauma icu, I guess?) but again I take that as a sign that the team is more comfortable with where Brian is at than they have been up to this point.

Thank you again for your prayers & encouragement--I'm getting a dose of what it feels like for a lot of you too--I had to come back to Raleigh on Sunday to take care of my family--it's so hard to be away from him! We'll be heading back down there tomorrow morning with his baby sisters, who have proven themselves anything but baby sisters as they have so strongly stepped up to handle a lot of responsibilities here while my parents are away.

Thank goodness he's in God's loving hands & I'd say Eliana's visits (& many others of you too) don't hurt either. ;)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pressing Forward

Just spoke with my dad. Though the breathing tube remains in, Brian "pulled breaths" today without its assistance! It wore him slam out & they'll have him back on it this evening but they really want to move forward with the tracheotomy tomorrow. They believe having a tube directly in the throat will help expedite the daunting rehab process. The benefits of the tube include more rapid progress towards communication (& no, he won't sound like that guy from that ridiculous South Park cartoon), more rapid progress towards mobility, & less obstruction towards helping the lungs clear out the fluid that continues to build as a result to the trauma to the lungs & that stupid pneumonia. The fact that Brian is successfully able to breathe, even if for a short time, in spite of how busted his lungs are simply amazes me. The options available, in US medicine particularly, for facilitating recovery once again just simply amaze me.

They also met with one of the rehab doctors, William Scelza, today & were encouraged by his demeanor & personal testimony to what's possible for Brian. However, he didn't mince words, Brian's got a long, rough road ahead. Though as "Brian T." posted, the fact he's in the position to even take on the challenge is encouraging in & of itself.

Admittedly, a lot of us have been struggling with the current situation. We seemed to be moving along so smoothly, given the circumstances, & now we've hit this awful lull. My dad was encouraged today by remembering that God is good. Many of you were answers to one of my desperate prayers for encouragement with your comments from my post this morning. Thank you, God is using you to be instruments of His Word & His goodness.

Another few passages come to mind pulling from what my dad said & from the encouragement provided to me this morning:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:30)?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (Romans 8:35)?
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height or depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-8:39).

With that said, my dad purchased his much missed Christmas trees (well, artificial 3' ones), lifted them up over his head, & committed to celebrating God's goodness & Christmas this year.

You all know about that "Keeter Christmas," don't you...

One Inch Either Way

This is Brian Webb, Kara’s husband and Brian’s brother-in-law (they call me Brian T. for obvious reasons). I have a quick report. On Saturday, I went with Brian’s dad and uncle to recover Brian’s personal items from the wrecked car. This isn’t intended to be a morbid or sensational post; rather, I want to express to you the gravity of the miracle that Brian is even alive at all.

Out of the 100 or so cars on the wreck lot, Brian’s car is hands down the most wrecked (the tow truck guy driving us to it agreed). Out of all the places that Brian could have hit that pole, he hit square on his driver-side door. Out of all the places that Brian could have been positioned, where he must have been was the only one where he could have lived.

The car is “squeezed” lengthwise, with the hood and the truck buckled upward about 30 degrees. His door has a semicircle dent in it the size of half of a 50 gallon drum (door is displaced about 18 inches into him). The steering wheel is buckled so far down it was pushing his seat down 6 inches, just to the right of where he was. Brian must have been completely sandwiched between the door and the steering wheel. One inch either way and we’d have a very different outcome.

It was a very shaking experience for us, but the more I looked at it, the more powerful and calming impression I had that we got to keep Brian. Praise God! We got to keep him!

Ankle Surgery Postponed

After speaking again with the trauma team late last night, they have decided to postpone today's ankle surgery due to the fragile state of Brian's lungs.

The pneumonia continues to put a lot of stress of his breathing & though a fever of less than 101.5 is a sign of healing, Brian's continues to run around or above this due to the energy it takes to fight the pneumonia & the fact that energy is taken away from the general healing process. For those new to the blog, Brian's left lung was collapsed & the right was almost the same. There's been a lot of fluid build up to be drained, the pneumonia only adding more.

Again, we're sort of in a holding pattern right now, praying for patience & trust in the recovery process. We know he's in good hands & staff are keeping a close eye on things but I'm not going to lie--if only this stupid pneumonia would get out of the way!

I'm told he slept okay last night but did show some agitation...

Once again, where this means he'll end up with regard to the other injuries, namely the stress put on his spinal cord where his back was broken & the titanium rod inserted to decompress the spine, will have to wait until the more immediate concern of the lungs are stronger.

Will keep you posted & appreciate so much the outpouring of love & assistance across the country on his behalf.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hanging in There...

Brian continues to hang in there, showing his strength & commitment to recovering. This morning the nurses told us that he's been sleeping well without the need for as many sedatives. We also happened to be there when they changed his breathing tube, the nurse who did it was great, but it is such an uncomfortable process. It was a small thing to watch that gave huge witness to Brian's ability to work through the situation. He was calm & relaxed with evident resistance & determination not to fight it.

He's continuing to be responsive to certain stories in his Brian Keeter way with those eyebrows & openings of the "Keeter eyes," but he's definitely tired. There's a short little book I love, Harvest, filled with stories of men facing tragedies, both as a result of their own vices or of being left to cope with devastating events, who found the Lord & their lives were transformed. One particular pastor in the book, Raul Ries, has an intense story definitely worth checking out (this is the one I told him a little about that really raised those eyebrows). I know that God is at work in a transformation of magnitudes for Brian & many of those around him as well.

The healing he is working on takes a substantial amount of energy & the "pizza in a can" the nurses give him through the feeding tube is only meant to sustain the average calorie load. Imagine the savor that first meal will have when he's finally able to eat his real first meal--I wonder what he'll want it to be, steak or Columbian home-cooking? ;)

He continues to find relaxation in quiet visits, particularly with his girlfriend & when being read to from the Bible. We're on John 11 last I checked. The monitors show a visible decrease in his heart rate & blood pressure most during these times. So feel free to pick up where we left off if you stop by!

They anticipate taking him into surgery tomorrow morning for his ankle, the surgeon was in the OR all day today so my parents are unsure if they will be able to meet with him before the procedure. Though initially they hoped for more stability before addressing the break, the orthopedic surgeon got clearance to move forward. They also continue to monitor his lungs & the drainage of fluid from his abdomen, speculating they may need to go back in an investigate the abdomen & perhaps perform a tracheotomy. We'll know more next week.

Visitors remain welcome though, again, the sessions must remain small & low-key. With these ongoing expected unexpected setbacks, we can never guarantee when he'll be able to have visitors and when not but at this point we'll leave it up to your personal discretion & schedule especially with Christmas this week, as the nurses have been feeling comfortable with the way it has been going the past few days. We know no matter when you come (& there will be so many times the next few months when your presence will be needed) that you continue praying and thinking of him & his family.

Again, we are so thankful for God's work through you all in the small (& some times HUGE miracles, church prayer lists, church leader visits; the generous contributions in so many needed ways are indescribably appreciated.

My father's helping us all remember our new mantra:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, & lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, & He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

We have so much to be thankful for as a family this Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

That Annoying, Yet Vital, Breathing Machine

Is apparently here to stay. Grrrr...

I just spoke with my dad & he said that Brian had another one of those expected unexpected set backs again this evening.

The nurse this morning told us that as Brian becomes more aware of the situation--the tubes, the pain, etc., the agitation will increase. This was the case this afternoon as he went into a sort of hypervenilation, which was compounded by some build up from the pnuemonia. They had to clear his lungs & though the ultimate goal remains to wean him off the ventilator (He was getting so close again today!), he's back on it once again.

My dad just wanted potential visitors know once again that we so greatly appreciate your love for Brian; however, the nurses want us to keep it light with the visitors again this week...small numbers, no questions, minimal talking, etc. He constantly stresses he wants people to understand we are only saying to wait & not be discouraged from continuing to support Brian in the long run. Of course, I see the blog so I know that all of you are still out there praying for him & only want what's in his best interest for recovery. ;)

I will continue to keep everyone posted on his progress. I simply see this as God's way of ensuring that Brian gets the physical, mental, & spiritual rest, strength, & focus on the Lord that he needs in order to be fully ready to start the work ahead of him. Time alone now with Him will only make the inevitable distractions & discouragements of the world that much weaker.

Please feel free to continue those tough rehab days where Brian has time alone, reading this blog to help him learn how far he has come, how many lives he has touched, & will only undoubtedly serve to inspire him to keep on working...


Brian continues to show strength & progress towards recovery.

Last night, though again, we had to take it easy on him & spent most of the time quietly reading to him, & holding his hand, & stroking his hair, he's really starting to show some Brian-specific responsiveness.

His girlfriend came with the latest addition of ESPN magazine to catch Brian up on some missed highlights.

I thought I'd share the conversation we had with him shortly after she arrived:

Me: Brian?
B: Raises eyebrows...
M: Eliana's here.
B: Squeezes our hands...
M: Do you hear her?
B: Slightly nods yes...
M: Would you like us to leave you alone with her for awhile?
B: Vigorous nod yes...
Dad: Is it okay if I stay?
B: Vigorous nod no...

So, we left them in peace. ;)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Details, Details

Heading to see Brian shortly...

He does have pneumonia but thankfully they already have him on antibiotics from the surgery so it is being treated. The, as always, wonderful nurses indicate that these set backs are typical in these situations. You take a few steps forward & then one back, so the cliche (which always annoy me, those cliches, I mean, but I guess they exist for a reason) goes.

In spite of, he did his best to let us know he knew we were there with some great eyebrow gestures (I know you are all grinning right now picturing that trademark feature of his & its power of expression) & even a wave!

We're told we still need to go easy on him (no more iphone light saber battles over his head for now, I fear) but he's still gradually coming off that ventilator.

He had some pastors brought to see him today & lead the family in prayer emphasizing the goodness of God, the glory in His works, & His care over Brian. Your posts of faith & the kindness of these pastors brought by loving friends are exactly the encouragement we need. I'm not going to lie--there's a lot of details that come with a crisis like this & they can be used to weigh you down & take your focus of the blessings that God has been so faithful to provide. We need to be surrounding by believers who help us remember that He spared Brian. I've found such comfort in a couple of verses.

The Bible tells us (Luke 12:22-31): "Do not worry about your is more than food & the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse or barn, & God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?...If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field & tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you?...And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, & your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, & all these things shall be added to you."

So, that's what we do. We seek His kingdom & His glory knowing that he will provide.

We thank so many of you for playing a special part in all the details & for encouraging us to continually lift our hearts & minds to Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:14).

Set Back

Last night, Brian pulled out the chest tube draining his left lung. Though it appears he thankfully didn't do any additional internal damage, when visiting hours ended last night, the fluid was being tested for infection, including pneumonia.

Due to this serious set back, his wonderfully supportive trauma-icu health care team have requested that the amount of stimulation & visitors he receive be limited so that he can get some much needed rest.

I know many of you have been making the long drive to see him & unable to spend more than a moment with him, if any at all. I am sorry that it hasn’t been aligning any better & it looks like this may be the case for the little while. Please know that your support in prayers & posts still means a great deal to him & the family.

We know that this situation is much like a marathon & Brian's ultimate prognosis will be impacted by support he will receive from family & friends. We are hopeful that this current setback, in terms of limited visitation & contact, will not hinder you all from continuing to play the vital role you will all play in his recovery process for the long haul.

Unfortunately, this also resulted in the ventilator being turned back on & will prolong his stay in icu. Please continue to pray for his strength & recovery. We our faithful & trust that God will continue to provide for Brian's needs.

We will let you know how things go with regard to the immediate situation as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tubes Test

Trial run being done tonight to see if Brian can go off ventilator! If all goes well, he'll have about one or two tubes tomorrow...

Holding Steady

When we got in to see Brian this morning, we learned from his nurse that he had a bit of a rough night. His heart rate was higher than they wanted & his fever was back up, which the nurse said is pretty normal for someone following surgery. However, when we left this morning, it appeared he was returning back to a more stable state.

Last night was pretty much the same, though we had some special visitors. His girlfriend brought her beautiful family to see him (apparently Wednesday nights are their sort of family date nights, "Wacky Wednesdays," I believe as they are known) who prayed over him, praising Our God's ability to deliver & heal. He also had a couple friends from Raleigh come down, in addition to the local regulars. He was even given an early Christmas gift--a digital picture frame (with remote!) for us to load the 1,000s of photos of his only nephew. Thank you all for coming.

Bottom line, at this point, we're sort of in a waiting game. They can't do much diagnostic testing on the spinal cord injury until he obviously is strong enough & more stable from the surgery. We just continue holding his hand, teasing him as he always has us (though I must brag & say as his older sister, I seem to always escape Brian's penchant for teasing nicknames he so amply gave his sisters & many others, I see), playing recordings of his nephew in his ear, & reading comforting passages from the Bible. He does seem to be sleeping much more peacefully, which is the physical foundation for allowing his body to recover.

He is being weaned off the respirator. Again, just slow & steady progress. A trend that undoubtedly will be the case for much time to come.

He continues to have so many visitors both in person & through the blog. We have been sharing all the love & prayers you have for him. He even got a special delivery of the most absolutely horrid balloon you've ever seen, one that even sings when you tap it. The instructions are to annoy him with it so much he defies all odds & gets right up & walks over to destroy it. Worth a shot I guess (though one of us just might beat him to it ;).

Again, we have to praise God for his faithfulness. You all just cannot begin to know all the blessings being sent our way...friends taking care of snacks at the hospital, bringing family into town, watching my son, watering Christmas trees & pets at home, & so much more. A high school friend of his younger sisters who works at the hospital even "just happened" to bring meal tickets for the cafeteria right when my parents were dividing up the cash among each other for their rotating shifts & today's food.

As my parents & I were engaging in those "deep theological discussions," touching on many of the questions I know you all too are asking yourselves about God & the way he works for good in our lives, we received a call from the priest who worked with Brian at State. Though he lives out of North Carolina now, he will be in the area for Christmas & plans to come see Brian to tell Brian what he told my dad: Brian has always been called to help people (though Brian himself may not have seen it) & God is seeing him through this to do exactly that. Amen. It can't be said any better than that.

Thus, in this Spirit, I ask you all to please take Brian's experience to see that God is good. God spared Brian's life for a purpose & has put him in a place to stand witness to His goodness. Though he can't even yet move, he's touching so many lives, inspiring people to call out to God & to be thankful for His blessings in their lives. Please let our experience help you believe that we serve a kind & loving God, who we can trust to know what is best for us, eternally.

Will continue to keep you posted. Thank you for your prayers & we continue to pray for you all too, for your continued support, your health, your families, & many more blessings, particularly at such a miraculous time of year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dripping Sarcasm

Really quickly:

My mom said Brian was in a teasing mood today.
She asked him if he was in pain and he nodded his head "no." She asked him if he wanted her to leave & leave him alone & he nodded his head "yes."

Too bad, no of us are going anywhere.

The Small Miracles

Ok, so my little son continues to help his Uncle Brian by taking one of the longest naps he's taken in quite some time so I can update you all again. Those little blessings mean so much!

I'm going to try to remember what my parents said about their meeting with the rehab doctors yesterday.

First, let me note that Brian is currently recovering from this morning's surgery. It sounds like his body is showing (understandably) the beating it has taken from the accident & the procedures to bring him to ground zero. Thank the Lord we have more than our physical bodies to live for!

Anyway, at this point, my parents have decided to keep him in Charlotte for the first month of rehab. They have a great program, in fact, two of the doctors themselves were involved in accidents--physically active & strong men who are now in wheelchairs. Again, what a small blessing that Brian is in a place where he has doctors who deeply & personally know what lies ahead & are proof that God is glorified in all things!

Also, Brian's good friend from high school, a Wilmington physical therapist, drove into see him last night & has been here today. He was able to take a tour of the rehab hospital with my parents & ask some helpful questions with his background and training that my parents wouldn't have thought to ask. He, too, was impressed with the program & my mom was so thankful he "just happened" to be there today when this part of the process took place.

Of course, we still don't have an exact prognosis for the spinal cord other than what the neurosurgeon said the other day from his initial impression though I imagine now they have the spine stable that testing to determine where Brian is (for now, though the trauma itself can always create some loss of sensation as well) to know how to prepare his rehab program will begin shortly.

Also, we are so fortunate to have my dad's loving sister & her husband here in Charlotte, who, along with their friends, are taking such great care of us & providing us with a wonderful place to stay. Again, there is such comfort in all the blessings God provides to embrace Brian & his family during this crisis.

The rehab doctors initial plan is to keep Brian here for at least four weeks of therapy. The best outcomes, which they believe are possible, come with a committed patient and the unwavering support of family & friends. Thereafter, we will see where to go from there.

(**Just spoke with my mom, she said Brian is not as responsive as yesterday but again, we don't expect him to be with the surgery this morning. He did acknowledge my dad though & indicate that he's not in any pain, so he can get some much needed rest.)

Again, I can't say enough how much Brian will need your prayers & support for many, many months. Thank you all.

Great Success!

Just heard from my dad--Brian's surgery went as well as the surgeons could have hoped it would.

He handled the surgery well (He's so strong & being made even stronger by a God who has answered so many of your prayers!), the spine is now fused, set exactly where it needs to be, & he's being transferred back into ICU. My parents hope to visit with him shortly.

This officially marks the beginning of the long road of rehabilitation & recovery. Brian's going to have a tough couple days where they'll go easy on him but it won't be long until the spiritual, mental, & physical work that comes with a recovery like this begins.

Thank you again for your well wishes & please be personally encouraged in the positive outlook for Brian's future & for help in your own hardships by Brian's strong witness that we know a loving God who answers prayer!

Heading into surgery...

First, I want to say that my parents enjoyed reading the posts of prayers, love, & support from you all. I even shared a little of that with Brian this morning.

We had a good visit with Brian last night. He was very responsive to his girlfriend again & more local & out of town friends paid him a visit as well. In fact, when I was holding his hand & he heard her voice he started squeezing my hand rapid fire, pretty much kicking me aside so he could be with her. ;)

It's a tough balance because when he's most responsive he's in the most pain but even with the pain last night he didn't want more medication because he knew it would take away his ability to be so engaging with us.

His girlfriend & I spent the early morning with him today just talking with him & reading some comforting passages from the Bible. He wasn't as engaging as he was last night (I guess we wore him out!) but it was a good thing because I know he needed the rest before surgery.

The ICU nurses have been so gracious with his visitors & allowed us to stay later since he'll be in surgery for most of visiting hours this morning.

They started prep at 7am & as far as I know, though his heart rate still fluctuates more than we'd like, they were moving forward.

So now we just pray for the surgery to go well & for the wisdom, attention, and knowledge of the trained staff assisting him. God has been so faithful in bringing Brian this far we know he'll provide again, as only He can and only He does.

Thank you again for all your prayers, visits, & assistance. I just want to stress that Brian has a long road ahead of him & will need your help & support even more once the healing process truly begins.

Will let you all know how he's doing as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Better Day!

Brian had a good day today. He was responsive early this morning to prayers with his girlfriend & was able to nod to the nurse that he was in pain. When his early crew of visitors came he was a bit sleepy due to the recent increase in pain medication but once again when I (Kara, his big sister) got in his face to remind him that God works for good and will give him the strength he need, we got a big eye open and he squeezed both my and my mom's hands. I had to leave to give my son (& Brian's favorite &, well, only nephew) a much needed break from the hospital but I heard from my mom that he was quite responsive with opening his eyes, squeezing, hands, etc., today.

He looked great today as well. The swelling had gone done a lot & his vitals were looking good.

We got some tough news from the neurologist. From just getting the history and status of his situation, the current prognosis is 5% chance of walking again. However, my parents met with the rehab doctor & were encouraged by the power of a good rehab. Brian's blessed too with physical strength on his side. I will post more when I have a chance to see my mom about what the doctor said.

Brian is doing so well recovery-wise at this point they expect to do back surgery first thing tomorrow. It is a two hour procedure. Once I learn details I will share more. They told us yesterday that he wouldn't have this procedure possibly for days but once again, God has come through and helped Brian defy the odds.

Thank you all for your visits, your prayers, & support. I have yet to even email this link to anyone & yet so many of you are already aware. Please share with anyone you know who has a love, concern, and prayer of strength and faith for my brother.

We are so encouraged by God's faith in healing Brian. We are so blessed to have him alive. He's got a LONG TOUGH journey ahead of him and will need all the encouragement he can get.

Brian's Recovery Has Begun

Hi, this is Brian's sister, Kara. My family and I are starting this blog to keep everyone posted of Brian Keeter's recovery.

He was involved in a near fatal car accident in Charlotte early Sunday morning, Dec. 14th, 2008. We are blessed to have him alive.

We are going to try & post regular updates of his long journey to recovery to help keep you all updated. In the meantime we thank you immensely for your prayers of strength and recovery for Brian and our family.

Please expect more soon.