Friday, March 13, 2009

New Digs

Well, Brian's officially had his 1st week or so out of the hospital & in the apartment. For those of you wanting to continue send him well-wishes & making the effort to visit, both of which are always much appreciated & encouraging:

Brian Keeter
4441 Mullens Ford Road
Apt. A
Charlotte, NC 28226

He will be based in the apartment the next few months while he pursues intensive outpatient therapy. We will be visiting him next week but I hear from his sister, Leah, who spent last weekend with him & his parents (who are staying with him temporarily while he continues to adjust & becomes more independent), that it is a nice place. It is also close to the hospital.

Again, thank you to those of you who help with the move in the many ways that you do. I also want to let those who have inquired know that we still plan to start an NTAF fund for Brian to allow those interested in donating financially to facilitate his medical care & rehab expenses not covered by insurance or Medicaid. Brian's dad very much wants everyone to understand exactly what it is they would be contributing to & continues to work to compile materials to help explain what physical therapies, equipment, & other expenses with which Brian could use assistance. As soon as he is ready, I will share the links to those materials here.

Brian's currently doing therapy three times a week at Carolinas Rehab but supplements this by taking advantage of the "free" work-out times without a therapist or appointment to work out on his own as well. Next week, he will take an official tour of Race to Walk in Mooresville, where he also will have therapy while in Charlotte. Finally, he's officially on the approximate month-long wait list to start the well-respected & intensive therapy program at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Brian is fortunate enough to have some great family & friends in that area as well to help keep him company when Shepherd has the space for him to attend. All three of these places have graciously agreed to coordinate together to streamline Brian's therapy routines, maximizing even more hopes for a strong physical recovery.

As for apartment living, Brian, being Brian, won't tell you much, though he will say it is a lot harder than he ever thought it would be. He needs help with a lot more than he realized (Note this is also coming from someone with a spinal cord injury who left the rehab hospital significantly stronger & much more capable than many other patients in similar circumstances do, according to many of the therapists with whom he worked closely.).

Just prior to his release, they discovered an atypical bone growth in his hip, for which he is receiving therapy & medication that has unfortunately hindered his progress. Apparently, this sort of growth is normal for such circumstances; however, it will take some time before medicine & therapy combat the stiffness it creates in his leg, making it that much harder for him to maneuver.

His spirits are understandably up & down as can be expected & he remains in a lot of pain. He has been told by many sources that the sooner you start recovery efforts, the greater the chances are for more recovery. We won't know for quite sometime what mobility benefits he'll regain from intensive therapy but for now he has committed to making this his focus the next few months--as much as resources & time allow.

I'm going to be blunt & say that I know many of you honestly think that life in a wheelchair would be worse than a death sentence (including Brian at times), but I firmly disagree. Not only have we learned of so many personal stories of hope, success, & perseverance in spite of from volunteers at the hospital & some notable public figures, but I know that God saved Brian's life for a purpose & that he's not finished here (Romans 8:28). I've really seen Brian working hard, trying to be more positive & to trust in the Lord, particularly in the last few days. These are, for me, some answered prayers.

He did exit the hospital with what I think is some exciting news though (He'd probably roll his eyes to read this--but, that's Brian, right?). You may recall that he started in the rehab hospital with an injury at T-10 & T-11. They did one final assessment before he left & determined his new injury at T-11 & T-12, one step down from the initial diagnosis! He also experiences some tingling in his legs & feet following his sessions on the functional electronic stimulation bike. Hey, no one said this would happen overnight, & it may not happen here, but we know it will happen someday (Isaiah 35:6).

With all Brian has been going through & the other personal accounts we see around us of people we know, love, or admire experiencing unimaginable suffering & hope (I'm sure many of you read the recent news article on Rodney Rogers), I've been reflecting a lot recently again on prayer. I'll be honest. I'm not good at praying. I'm easily distracted & I sometimes just don't know what to ask, just to name a couple of issues (So I really love that the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf, Romans 8:26 & that God, in His infinite knowledge, also knows my needs, Matthew 6:8--there's actually a bunch of great stuff on praying in this chapter.). As such, God's just really spoken to me personally through some daily studies, sermons by my pastor, & teachings by his wife that tell me I need to make it more of a priority.

I attempted (via texting, of course) to try & explain prayer to my brother a couple of weeks ago. I know God answers prayer, not just from my experience when pregnant with my son, being told he may not survive the pregnancy (He's a thriving 19-month old now!) & not even knowing if my brother would live (He's recovering!), but also from the Bible. In 1 John 5:14-15, we are told:

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Prayers are how we talk to God. God always hears our prayers, I mean, He's God! The bigger issue & I think is when we confuse God's ability to hear with our ability to hear & accept His answers.

Just as we talk to God through our prayers, He talks to us through His Word (John 1:1-3, 14). God also is a gentleman who respects our free agency. Though always possible, I think most Christians would say that He rarely speaks to us personally with a booming voice preceded by thunder & lightning. It makes me think of the story of Elijah. He'd done all these amazing things for God & for whatever reason, threats on his life from Jezebel sent him running for the hills, praying for God to take his life. When God spoke to Him to find out why he was hiding, it wasn't through the strong wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, it was in "a still, small voice" that came after all of these things. Thankfully, Elijah had been in the mountains long enough that he was tuned out from the cares of the world enough to hear Him (1 Kings 19:12).

We, too, have to block out the distractions of the world to both speak to & hear God. That can be really hard to do. We also have to be willing to accept the answers to our prayers. It might be no when we want yes. It could be wait, when we want answers now.

Bottom line, there's nothing wrong with asking for a miracle. God hears that request & loves for you to speak with him not matter what. You just have be prepared to listen for His answers & trust that they are in His love. Some people get their miracles (such as the many miracles of Jesus that are just too lengthy to list) & some don't (2 Corinthians 12:9). Even Jesus asked God for another way to save us all from our sins, though when told no, he accepted God's answer & that His will would be done. I think it's also interesting to note, that even though God said no, he still sent an angel to comfort & strengthen Jesus as that dark & painful hour approached (Luke 22:42-43).

I am also finding that God uses the testimony of others in suffering to also strengthen my desire to be more diligent in prayer. Take for instance, Savannah.

I know her mom has been so busy dealing with the day to day doings that follow being told your sweet, innocent, beautiful nine year old daughter is going to die, perhaps any day now, from an incurable mitochondrial disease that may also affect your other small children as well, that she hasn't kept the blog as frequently updated. I've been blessed to get some emails that more regularly update me about her situation. To sum it up, that initial medical prognosis was about a month ago.

Well, just last week, her family has been learning how to take care of her at home so that she may be released...not in perfect health mind you, but in good enough shape to receive care at home, & spend some quality time with her family before she returns to her heavenly home (2 Corinthians 5:8). Please keep praying for them as they continue to hit roadblocks such as infections & fevers that seem to hamper the progress Savannah is making to allow her some quality time with family & friends before she passes. Please also know that her family repeatedly asserts they know this quality time with the Savannah is an answered prayer from God. Even more amazing, they commit themselves to enjoying every minute of it before she returns home with the Lord rather than dwelling on the understandable hurts & the whys. I cannot tell you how their unwavering faith so strengthens me.

Thank you as always for your continued interest & support in Brian's journey & please continue to pray for him, for Savannah, for Rodney, their families & the countless others we know enduring...

Monday, March 2, 2009

REVISED Release Date: 03.05.09

So, with the weekend rain & early morning snow, Brian's release has been postponed to Thursday, March 5th.

Many thanks to all of those working around the weather to help move in some heavy furniture this week.

Will be sure to let you know how it goes...