Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Even keels

     It's been good to be back with Kari again.  She is coming out of a very hard period of pain and nausea.  We hope in the next couple of days that her body will make adjustments to the powerful antibiotics that contribute much to her stomach pain, but which are needed to combat an intestinal infection.  And we now know that much of her shoulder pain and headaches are due to very tense muscles.  "The muscle up the back of my neck feels as hard as a rock," she says, and it is--though because of the collar she wears, it's hard to get back there and massage it much.  We try, though, and she seems better able to sense when her muscles are tense and she needs to try to relax.  Trying to relax is on her mind a lot, which is good, but ironic too: trying hard to relax is a paradox.  When she was being suctioned just a few minutes ago and her arms were jerking upwards, she said to me a couple of times, "I'm trying hard to relax, I'm trying hard."  It's working too.  Her arms don't jerk up nearly so hard as they used to, and it's easier to bring them down afterwards.
     Talking with Aaron over the last couple of days, I think he's just hoping to establish an even keel for himself and Kari and everyone, so that we all don't get too excited when good things happen, and we don't get too down when bad things do.  The good and bad are all part of the process.  Since we were speaking of the Cubs a few days ago, I thought of the Bulls.  When Phil Jackson took over he said that his greatest concern was that the team got too high when it won and got too low when it didn't.  They had to establish a more even keel and not rock back and forth so much.  Don't get so excited about winning or losing: that sounds like a formula for mediocrity, but, as we know, it led to a great dynasty.  Not getting too excited about "winning" might seem like we're not thankful enough to God, but that's not it either.  It's hard to explain, and what comes to mind immediately is another sports analogy.  When asked about what he thought about football players celebrating so outrageously when they scored a touchdown, one coach said he'd rather have a more muted celebration: you know, as if the player had been there before!
     I think of God not only promising us victory, but of that victory already being won.  We've been in that endzone over and over before.  We can focus on the here and now and go through whatever it is, good or bad, because we know we have already won.  Not rocking back and forth between highs and lows is, then, an expression of serenity and confidence.  We'll be OK, no matter what it looks like now.  Pray for us with this confidence and serenity.
--Richard R. Guzman         

Ethiopia Trip Happenings (From Brett Noble)

The Ethiopia trip is over and team has been back home for about a week now.  I’d like to share with you all some of the highlights.  Let me start by quoting from an e-mail that Pastor Rick sent to the team a few days before the trip: “Pray for protection, for God's direction and guidance, for Divine appointments each place we go, for the church in Dangla and throughout Ethiopia. Please continue to pray for Kari and Aaron each day.”  My friends, God has answered those prayers and many others.
None of us were seriously sick, wounded, damaged, lost, shot at, arrested, trampled by hippos, or otherwise incapacitated during the entire trip.  I’m pretty sure that was a miracle.  We had a mission to accomplish, and by God’s grace we were able to see it through.
Many things did not go as planned.  Big surprise.  But it was clear that God’s hand was guiding us every day.  Did someone mention Divine appointments?  On Friday the 12th, we were supposed to be in Addis but ended up in Bahar Dar because of a plane ticket mix up.  We took the extra day to travel to an island in the middle of lake Tana to tour a couple of old monasteries, which turned into an opportunity to share the gospel with some of the priests there.  By the testimonies of some of our team and the help of our Ethiopian brothers, several of them received God’s gift of salvation!
Kari mentioned to me that she woke up during the night Thursday and felt compelled to pray for us.  With the ten hour time difference, we figured this would have been the very time that our team was talking with the priests, as close as we can tell.  Our team talked on a number of occasions about God using Aaron and Kari as part of the team even though they were not physically present with us, and I believe this is a specific example of how God used them to minister along side us, as part of our team.
Our teacher training was an overwhelming success, thanks to five of our team who poured themselves into it.  I believe we’ve been invited back every year to repeat the star performance!
We did a whirlwind of work with the Ethiopia Eden project so I won’t try to get into all of those details except to say that it was fun, we truly seemed to provide real help in many ways, and God blessed all that we did.
As some of you know, one evening while our team was praying for Aaron and Kari, I received a specific call from God to go to Denver and to pray over Kari for healing, which my wife Shary and I did this last weekend.  Aaron mentioned this in a previous post and described it well – we don’t quite know what happened.  It wasn’t clear what God did or what He will do in Kari’s body.  Yes, I am disappointed that Kari was not healed immediately.  But I continue to trust that God sent me to Denver for a reason.  I did my part as best as I understood from God, and I will leave God’s part in God’s hands, where it belongs.
Blessings to you all.
Brett Noble

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Update from Aaron

Hello All--

Kari is still on the up and down with the pain in her stomach and shoulders.  Mostly on the down, though. They found that she has a bacterial infection in her G.I. tract and a staph infection in her lungs.  Those are the main culprits of her stomach pain and the increased fluid in her lungs.  The doctors have also reworked some of her medications because the 8 or so drugs that they were giving her at a time (which all went into her stomach tube) were also contributing to the upset stomach.  In the morning today she had a PET scan (which is similar to a CAT scan) which was a little stressful, but all in all went well.  Her ventilator settings were incorrect for about 10 min, but all her vitals were fine.  They had originally scheduled the scan to try to find the source of her fever, but her temperatures have been basically normal for the last 2-3 days.  Even so, they went ahead with it because it was already on the schedule and with the pain that she's in it might reveal something.  A shoulder specialist came in today to work on her shoulder to and give her PT a little more guidance.  She was good.  You know someone's smart when you really can't understand what they're talking about but they explain it so well that you feel like you do.  Anyways, I guess the good news in all of this is that they seem to be getting to the bottom of all these issues and it looks like we're coming out of what has been a very bad 2 weeks and starting to move forward.

Today is also the second day of classes at Gage.  I want to send out a big thank you to Melissa Wilson, the Elementary band teacher that shares my office and whose students eventually come to me, and also to Kate Hicks who is filling in for me for at least the first few weeks of school.  From what I've heard so far, things are going great, but keep them in your prayers as the beginning of the year is always hectic, especially for a new teacher, or if you're (like Mel is) trying to do your own job while helping someone else.  I guess the best thing I can say about the two of them and the other band directors in Riverside who've been helping is that I'm not worried about school.  ****Quick note to any of my students that are reading this***


***Quick not to any teachers, parents, and administrators that are reading this***


Okay, well I guess that's all the news--thank you all for the cards, we're starting to get bombarded with them.


Sunday, August 28, 2005


Hello All--

It was definitely a great feeling to hear Kari speak for about an hour Saturday.  Other than a few previous times that she did cuff deflation, (it has to do with the tracheotomy tube) this was the first time I've heard her speak since the accident.  The other times were also only 2-3 minutes long and her voice didn't really sound normal.  This time, they installed a "Talker," which is what the respiratory people call the valve that they put on the end of Kari's trachea tube.  During the time that she was weaning from the ventilator, they put the one-way valve on which only lets air in, so when she exhales, her breath passes over her vocal chords, allowing her to speak.  (Normally, the air would escape through the trachea before it reached her vocal chords.)  Anyways, it wasn't exactly like her real voice--a little higher pitched and not quite as full--but none of us there were complaining.

Brett Noble and his wife Shary had also driven out for the afternoon from California to pray with Kari.  If you remember, Brett had been given an impartation from an Ethiopian man for Kari's healing.  I think the best way to describe what happened is that we don't know what happened.  There were no outward signs from Kari that a physical healing had taken place, so we are all still waiting in anticipation of what God will do--or the realization of what he did do.  After it was over, Kari said that she "had a lot more faith" and had been reminded of many of God's promises.  Later on in the evening, Brett and Shary gave us gifts that the team had brought back from Ethiopia--a drum, a malachite turtle, pictures, coffee, chocolate (from Germany), Ethiopian money, and some great stories.  A short summary of the trip will be on the Blog shortly.

As far as Kari's health goes, she still has ups and downs with her shoulder and stomach pain, and didn't get out of bed the last few days because of feeling dizzy and nauseous.  She is still very frustrated about not really moving forward for almost the past two weeks.  Reading your emails and letters has helped a great deal though, and some good friends of hers are here now, which is a great encouragement.  Thank you for all that you have done to support us.

P.S.  All the computer problems that I've had the last few weeks-(plus getting an iPod from my friends--you guys are the bestestest homeys ever) has almost turned me in to an Apple convert!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Short update from Aaron

Hello All--

Just wanted to let you know that Kari was doing a little bit better the last day or so. Her fever is still up and down, but mostly down now, and the pain in her shoulders, while still intense, seems to have been managed better. She is a little worried about the about of medications that she's on. Meds for Pain, Anxiety, spasms, sodium, potassium, blood thinning, lung secretions (2 of those), neurological pain, nausea, and I think even a few more I forgot about.

The main reason that I'm writing, though, is that Kari has had issues with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which causes her to have a panic attack when there is a loud noise a siren, or a screeching car. Today, someone dropped something in the hallway and it triggered panic in Kari and it took her about half and hour to really calm down. We are going to try to work through a couple things with a counselor tomorrow. When I talked to the Psychologist a few days ago, she said that usually over time it becomes easier to talk about and remember the accident, but in Kari's case it seems to have been getting worse. This is very frustrating to Kari and makes her feel like she's going crazy. Pray that the Lord would comfort her when she feels anxious. Thanks


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Update from Aaron

Hello All--

The first meeting of the school year at Gage is today, so I am really missing home. The Ethiopia team is back safely and from what they've told me they had an amazing time with God over there. Brett and Shary Noble are coming from Cali to pray for Kari on Saturday as they were called to do in Ethiopia. Pray that the Lord would grant them favor.

Overall, the last 7 days have been very hard on Kari. She is battling almost constant pain in her shoulders, and when her medications wear off, the pain is so intense that she will start shaking. The last few days, too, Kari has had an upset stomach, and the fever has never really gone away. At last check it was 101.4. It is hard to get in a rhythm and really progress while constantly battling pain, fatigue and nausea. Kari hasn't done a ventilator wean in about 5 days now, and we hope to resume that today. It will be so much easier to do things without having to lug the vent everywhere. The bone scan an shoulder x-ray did not show anything, which is good, but the doctors aren't really sure what is causing the pain. The doctors believe the blood clot has stabilized and will probably not move, so there is not much else they do for it other than try to be careful with her leg. She was up in the chair yesterday and today and yesterday we got to go outside which was great. Anyways, it seems like we have been moving backwards this week, which I know is bound to happen, so pray that we are able to get back on track with PT and OT and that Kari's schedule becomes more consistent. Thank you all for everything-


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Ron Santo pulling for Kari

     All in all this was a good day for Kari.  Her fever was down most of the time, and perhaps they have even found another way to attack it.  Her roomate Brittany had a lot of trouble with fever.  She was given some medication to keep calcification down in the joints, and there's some thought that Kari might be experiencing pain and fever because of that too.  When they gave Brittany the medication, her fevers went away.  X-Rays revealed that there's no serious damage to Kari's shoulder, so excess calcification might be the culprit.  Things are better enough that the plan is to get Kari back on schedule tomorrow, which may be a relief after having to stay in bed, and not even being able to have the head of the bed raised up much for about three days now.  She did a one-hour wean today as a kind of preparation.
     Reading blog comments is always interesting.  One nurse tried to explain why there might have been delays the other night, and that causes me to want to say that on the whole the care at Craig has been very fine.  Kari has grown fond of many of the nurses, techs, and respiratory therapists, and the doctors have been excellent.  It's a very, very good team.  One of her techs was paralyzed for half a year herself, and even blind for a couple of those months, so she has a special sympathy for the patients she takes care of.  "I just love Kari," she said to me several times, and you could tell she meant it.  A couple of comments on the blog seem to be from people who really do like it, but also want to plug their own businesses.  It's hard to control cyberspace, so we grin and bear it.
     But something to really smile about happened at the Cubs game today--and, of course, it wasn't the Cubs' play.  Rick and Aaron ran into Ron Santo, the legendary Cub third baseman.  Aaron told Santo all about Kari and gave him the website URL.  Pretty much a life-long diabetic who's had both legs amputated, Santo can sympathize in a special way too.  He said he'd be pulling for Kari and gave her a hat signed "Get well soon, Kari -- Ron Santo."  On the website, look for pictures of the meeting, and Kari in her Santo hat soon.  And pray with special focus on the coming week, asking that Kari can get back on track.
--Richard R. Guzman 

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Another move

     Gas prices are zooming and it's a 16 hour drive from Naperville, yet it seems strange to me not to be with Kari in Denver.  At least Rick, Aaron's older brother, and his wife Desiree are there now, and he sends lots of details for me to report.  The first is this:
     Kari, along with Brittany, has been moved to another room: 314-A.
     Don't know why, but the room is bigger and nicer.  Someone asked if Kari was reading the blog, and the answer is Yes, though she might not read every bit of it every day.  For the next day she probably won't.  Aaron has his computer with him, but the internet outlet in the new room is like 12 feet from the bed, and Aaron can't get any closer than four feet from Kari.  Rick and Aaron will try to find a longer cord tomorrow or the next day.  Tomorrow Desiree is staying with Kari while the two brothers go to a Cubs-Rockies game.  Great seats: 8th row behind the Cubs dugout--and Kari is glad Aaron will get this break.  I made the mistake of taking all the kids to Wrigley field practically before they could walk, and now they appear to be hopelessly devoted to that team.  I remember carrying Aaron in to try to get three of us in for the price of two, but when the man at the turnstile saw Aaron's feet dangling down below my knees, he said, "That's the last time for that, Dad!"
     All other moves were like a three-ring circus, and I suppose this one was as well.  Rick reports that, like the times before, it made Kari very anxious.  This comes at the end of a very rough couple of days.  Last night, though, Kari had a good night after two really hard ones, and today was OK--though it started with a very high fever of over 102.  They iced her down, however, and the fever went away quickly.  It could be infection, but it could also be that the spinal cord has not returned enough yet to regulate body temperature.  Several hallways in the hospital have names on little street signs.  One is "Will Avenue."  Another is "Lizzard Way," a reference to how lizzards and others like them don't regulate their temperatures internally.
     Kari has had a couple of days of just feeling weird and a little disoriented, probably because they are trying new combinations of medications to help with pain and other things.  Now they appear to have found a combination that makes her more comfortable without the weird feeling.  They plan to get her back on her regular schedule Monday.  They don't do therapy on the weekends anyway, but for the last couple of days Kari has been too tired--from the fever, the shoulder pain, the generally unsettled feeling--to even do some weaning sessions.  Hopefully, Monday she starts again.  Still, she was so far ahead that she's still ahead of normal schedule, though not as ahead as she was.  Pray for some return of stability and the departure of such intense pain.
     Kari now has consistent sensation in her right forefinger down to the second knuckle, and also in the important nerve nexus between the thumb and forefinger.  She's been dreaming a lot too--dreaming of being back home and walking around and just doing things on her own.  As Aaron said earlier, the doctors don't expect a lot more functions to return, but they wouldn't be surprised either.  The Ethiopia team reports that at a recent prayer meeting for Kari the pastors gathered there pretty much simultaneously had a vision of her walking again.  Several people have expressed to me there sense that she will be all right--as in completely healed physically.  Between her dreams of walking and people seeming to see it a lot I take much hope, as we all should.  It wouldn't surprise the doctors, and we--we would experience what C.S. Lewis experienced when he titled one of his books "Surprised By Joy."  It's not like we doubted God, but the intensity of the joy makes it feel like a surprise nonetheless.  I'm ready for that kind of surprise.
--Richard R. Guzman

Friday, August 19, 2005

Update odds and ends

Hello All--

I just edited the last blog to fix the spacing issues, so it should be easier to read now.  Anyways, the prognosis on the blood clot is that she has to stay in bed and lying down until Monday, which is a total of four days.  I think this has contributed to the resurgence of the pain in her shoulders, and last night I think was the worst it ever was.  We also had a bit of a problem getting Kari's pain medication in a timely manner, as I don't think that they realized how much pain she was in because she cannot scream.  After about 20 min of calling, with the same answer of "just a few minutes" I went out to the nurses' station to ask the nurse personally to come in and she told me that she had to finish her reports first.  After she finally came, I questioned the nurse about taking over half an hour for anybody to come she didn't think I had any reason to be upset and was very rude to me, explaining that her shift was technically over and that she had a lot of patients.  I know that nurses have a hard job and are very busy, but I also know that I had a right to be upset, especially after the nurse told me "don't get mad at me!"    I was able to talk to the nursing supervisor, who was very receptive and apologetic to me and I hope this was just an isolated incidence of someone just being tired.  Part of the problem too, was the timing of the medication, as it seems that it always wears off too soon.  Please pray that the nurses are able to be responsive to Kari's needs and also that the doctors can figure out how to better manage her pain so as to avoid the ups and downs.

Overall, Kari has just had a rough couple of days.  The stress and inactivity, we believe, have also led to some stomach pain and burning and a loss of appetite.  The fever is back too, as it seemed to be always 101.something the past 24-48 hours.  Hopefully by Monday, they will have everything figured out and Kari can start her rehab again with energy and stamina.

The big meeting went well yesterday, and the preliminary estimate for us returning home is November 18th.  Obviously, that date could move a lot, but as for now, we're looking at about three more months.  They also plan on starting classes on transportation and technology as well.  At the end of the meeting, Dr. Balazy said that it was still early to be able to tell how much Kari will recover.  It all depends on the severity of the impact, which was obviously very high.  I seem to be getting that they don't expect a whole lot more function to come back, but wouldn't be too surprised if it did.  Let's hope!


Thursday, August 18, 2005

For our good friend Melissa

On Monday night before I left CA, I was blessed to be able to see our friend Melissa Logan for a few hours.  Mel is friend of Kari and mine from Brookside FMC in Redlands. (I know you already know that Brookside peeps, but that was for everybody else.)  In January, a car accident left her with some nerve damage in her right arm and over the next 5 ½ months, the damage spread throughout both her arms and legs, leaving them paralyzed and putting her in the hospital.  Worse still, is the constant pain that she has had.  On many occasions when Kari had visited her, a careless touch from a nurse or even a drop of water or piece of fuzz that would land on Melissa’s arms or legs would be so painful that she would pass out or stop breathing.  She has since had a number of surgeries with mixed results.  She has regained the use of her arms, and at one point, she was even walking again, but much of the success was short-lived and she is now not able to walk.  And even though they never worked with a lot of success, no amount of pain medication seems to have any effect now.  

Seeing Melissa and her family was a humbling experience.  Even with all that Kari has been through, I cannot imagine what it has been like for her with all the pain, being healed only go back, and the doctors not knowing even what caused her condition.  So, with all sincerity, I ask that you remember to pray for them.  I honestly do not know what to tell you to pray for, but simply remember them and let the Holy Spirit intercede on their behalf.

Through all this, I was reminded of the lyrics from a few different songs by Jars of Clay.  

I don’t know where
I don’t know how
I don’t know why
But your love can make these things better.
Exposed beyond the shadows
You take the cup from me
Your dirt removes my blindness
Your pain becomes my peace
O Come and mourn with me awhile
A broken heart a fount of tears
Ask and they will not be denied
A broken heart love’s cradle is
Jesus our Lord is crucified
O love of God, o sin of man
In this dread act your strength is tried
And victory remains with love
Jesus our lord is crucified
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder.
He has quenched Mt. Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with his blood.
He presents our souls to God.

In the last set, I get the image of Jesus presenting us to the Father as blameless and pure.  Even with broken bodies, with lives that don’t make sense, and with uncertainty about his plan, God, through Jesus, sees us as pure, beautiful examples of his handiwork.  One more song for you—an old hymn.

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie

All o'er those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day
There God, the Son forever reigns
And scatters night away.

No chilling wind nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore
Where sickness, sorrow, pain and death
Are felt and feared no more

When shall I see that happy place
And be forever blessed
When shall I see my Father's face
And in His bosom restI am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promise Land

I guess, pray for hope.


Update from Last Weekend in CA

First, thank you for all your prayers!  I think that they saved the plane that I took into Phoenix, which was by far the bumpiest ride I have ever had.  I would've easily flown out of my seat had I not had my seatbelt on.  You know it’s bad when you can see everyone swaying back and forth in unison and even the flight attendants are completely still and silent.  We arrived safely though, and when I got to CA around 9:00pm, Ryan and Vanessa Duckworth took me to the apartment where we started moving my 55 gal. fish tank to one of the conference rooms at Church.  Greg Hernandez came with his truck to help.  The fish were happily in their new home when we left the church at 2:00am.  The police officer that was watching from across the street seemed happy that we were done, although I don't think he ever figured out what we were doing.

The next morning I went to church and afterwards we went to the Apt. to move.  Everything went pretty fast and no one would let me lift anything, so it was about the easiest move I've ever done.  On Monday Ryan, Vanessa and I wrapped up a few loose ends with the move, I went to the post office to change our address, and then I went to Gage to try to get things ready for the year.  A few other teachers came by and helped me and I showed them things to show the sub.  I also got a chance to talk to the administrators at Gage about missing first trimester and they were very supportive of me.  The principal told me that as far as he was concerned, I could miss the whole year and he'd "hold my spot" for me, even though we both know that that isn't realistic.  There are still some things to work out, though, so pray that things go smoothly with the district.  I don't think that there's any way I could be that effective of a teacher with Kari here anyways.

It was very nice to be able to see everybody.  I was able to hang out with some friends in Riverside as well as people from Redlands.  I even got to see some of my former students :-) (Janie, Danny, Miranda, Amy and "K" tell everybody I miss them.)  Still though, I'd say the whole experience was surreal.  This was the longest I have been away from Kari since the accident, and seeing everybody made me all the more homesick for sunny So Cal.

I am happy to report though, that I was able to get done most everything I needed to do. I want to thank everyone that helped with the move and getting set up at school. There were 28 people that came over to the apartment Sunday afternoon. Most of them were from the church, but the crew also included two of my former students and a parent from Gage, two other teachers from Riverside and their husbands, and two couples from APU with whom we are friends.  Many people spent countless hours beforehand packing up the apartment too, so when I got there, most everything was in boxes.  Especially, though, Ryan and Vanessa made the whole weekend possible.  From finding a great place for storage to giving me a place to stay, taking me to and from the airport, and running a few errands that I didn't have time to do, they pretty much worked as much or more than I did!  They even sorted through the stuff we took to Kari's office and organized all the food from our kitchen to give away.  I feel very blessed to have the support that I have had.

Hope to CU all soon.


Update from Aaron

Hello all--

As you read in my dad's update, Kari has had a bit of a rough time the last few days. She has had a fever fairly consistently since I got back on Tuesday and has simply not been feeling well. Not being able to get out of bed or even sit up straight because of the blood clot doesn't help either. Yesterday, the respiratory therapist changed her trachea tube (which was long overdue for changing) but he didn't call the nurse first to give her pain medication. Usually the procedure is done without any pain meds unless it is the first time the tube is changed, which it was. The whole process was very scary and painful for Kari, although it did go smoothly. After she was given pain killers, she did settle down, and I think the new tube, which is a little different design, is more comfortable overall. In a few minutes, we are scheduled to have her first evaluation meeting, which will include her whole team: doctors, specialists, PT, OT, nurses, psychologists, and administrators. I'll give you any new news that they tell me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fear or failing us

     Kari developed a small blood clot in her right leg today, so had to stay in bed all day and couldn't do more weaning.  As this is resolved she'll return to her schedule of weaning from the respirator, doing 2-3 hours of physical therapy a day, and increasing the amount of time she can spend up in her wheel chair and learning to drive it.  Thursday to Monday last week were days full of progress and skipping steps.  I know these cheer all of us, but there are bound to be days where things don't leap forward.  They inch forward, or stand still, or maybe inch backwards.  We need to know all of it: the days of leaping ahead and, at least on the surface, of standing still, so we can all practice the habit of good cheer and pray that Kari can hold up too even in the midst of discouragement.  
     The day is often filled up with just getting through it: feeding her three meals a day, scratching her eyebrows, getting her a drink, helping the nurses and techs who come in every two hours to change her position, getting her up for physical therapy or to take her shower--a long and relatively complex task.  Though feeling is returning to her hands and she is breathing more and more on her own, she's still not strong enough to move much on her own.  When she coughs or needs suction, her arms jerk upwards, and we have to pull them back down because she's still not strong enough to straighten and lower them on her own.  "Can you fix my arms?" is one of her common requests.  She also says "I'm so tired" a lot because just getting through a meal or trying to control her arm enough to drive her chair takes so much effort, even when things are going great.  When they're not going great everything gets that much harder.
     Tuesday morning started off very hard because she was on-and-off with a fever during the night and early morning.  Plus, Aaron had been gone to California, and anticipating his return caused fears that something could happen to him in route.  We took time out in the mid-morning from just the normal conversations of the day to have a long deep talk about life and hope and fears.  We needed to, though we try not to go deep at every opportunity (there are so many!) because these conversations, while necessary, are also emotionally draining.  We talked about the most personal to the most theoretical things, and I wanted to share just one part of it here.  "I'm afraid of letting people down," she said.
     It's only right to marvel at Kari's strength.  She continues to display an extraordinary patience and kindness, although another thing she constantly says is that she's so impatient.  Yet all the great things that we say about her, and should continue to say about her, create a kind of expectation in her that she's got to deserve all this praise, that she has to be perfect, almost.  I tried to assure her that while we all admired her courage and strength we also understood that in this, the battle of her life, she didn't have to be a saint, didn't have to overcome all odds, for us to love and admire her.  I told her she couldn't disappoint us.  We might be disappointed in the level of progress or healing for that day, but we'd never be disappointed in her.  Let's keep up our choruses of praise to God, and praise for Kari, while keeping this distinction in our minds.  It's an important one especially on days like today.
--Richard R. Guzman        

Monday, August 15, 2005

Skipping more steps?

     Kari is exhausted.  She put in a hard day which included going to two physical therapy sessions, weaning from the ventilator for almost five hours, and sitting up in her wheel chair for about three hours.  There's a glassed in bridge connecting the two wings of the Craig Hospital, so we spent considerable time out there looking at Pike's Peak in the distance.  Linda took some good pictures of us which we'll send to the photo section of the website soon.  Then when we left the bridge we came to the large family education room where Kari wanted to look at a world map.  You guessed where her focus was?  Ethiopia, of course.  While we were talking about that a young girl and her boyfriend came in the room.  She was in a wheel chair, and though she had no trache tube, she had a large halo collar encircling her head.  She and Kari (and all of us) had a great time talking.  At times it might get discouraging looking at all the people in wheel chairs.  Yet it's also inspiring to see how much they too are working on getting better, and how much everyone is pulling for each other.  Like Kari's room mate, this young girl was 17 and also named Brittany.  She initially came up to Kari because she thought Kari was Brittany.  In fact, several people today called Kari Brittany, and when they got her up to go to physical therapy they initially put her in Brittany's wheel chair!  "I'm way too old to be a Brittany!" Kari said.  Anyway, among the many things that impressed me about this Brittany who came up to talk to Kari was her cheerfulness and openness, and how much control she had managed to get over her arms.  Like Kari, she too had been injured in a rollover.  She too was a C5-C6, and had gained so much control over her arms even though she still could not feel her fingers or thumbs.  Kari can now consistently feel both thumbs, especially her right one, and this morning as I was scratching all over her arms and hands Kari said she could feel the top of her hand running towards her index finger.  In fact, she suddenly said in her whispered shout, "I feel my index finger!" and began to cry.  Rejoice in this as we all do here, and keep praying over her arms and hands.  Her right shoulder continued to cause tremendous pain today as well, so her therapists have taped it.  It feels much better, and as tone returns to her shoulders and her collar is removed and she can actually turn her head more and really move the shoulder area things should improve.  For now, though, pray for the shoulder pain.
     Everyone here is so encouraging and they tell Kari all the time how great she is doing--which she is.  In fact, we had originally thought, as I reported recently, that they would begin a phased step-down in size of the trache tube.  But today one of her doctors said that she was doing so great on her weaning that he might just skip most of that step-down.  He said we might as well keep her on the large trache, get her weaned really fast--because he thinks she's capable--then just go to one of the smaller trache tubes right away and just be done with everything that much sooner, the ventilator the trache and all.  Stayed tuned.  Things change day to day, but on the whole, despite the pain and extreme fatigue and setbacks here and there, they're moving forward faster than most people had expected.  She's already looking forward to being back in some home in L.A., but when I told her last night that her real home was in our hearts, she understood that immediately.  "I feel that," she said.  "I know that that's the best home there is."
--Richard R. Guzman 

Sunday, August 14, 2005

What movie?

     To answer a couple of queries about the movie Kari saw:  It was "In Good Company."  She was so tired she slept through about a third of it!  Still, she thought it was OK.  She also drove herself there and back, with only one rough spot turning around in the elevator.  But what an entourage she had surrounding her which might have made driving that much harder.
--Richard R. Guzman

R&R This Weekend

     On the weekend they don't do physical therapy, so, although Kari did another 4 1/2 wean today, it's been a little less hectic--though she still gets very tired weaning off the ventilator, eating, and getting her shower.  It's back to more physical therapy and being even more tired tomorrow, but she's getting stronger.  I noticed that even when she coughs, her diaphram is stronger and the coughs are much more productive than even two days ago.
     Her shoulders will be giving her more pain tomorrow, too.  It's common for people with her level of injury to have shoulder problems because the muscles aren't that toned.  I've been encouraging her to move her shoulders all day, every time she thinks about them, just to get some tone back.  Tense them, shrug them, move them in any way she can without pain.  Her right shoulder is still slightly separated, but one of the only ways to get that healed is to strengthen the shoulder muscles.  Please pray specifically for those shoulders.  At times this week the pain may be extreme.  We'll try to make sure the therapists are always aware of the problem, but there'll be no way to avoid pain, though most of the time medication will make it more or less tolerable.
     This coming week she will probably jump up to an 8 hour wean, and may be weaning a full half a day by week's end.  That will add to her tiredness.  "Things go so slowly," she sometimes says, and has to be reminded how ahead of schedule she is.
     Yesterday when she was being lifted into her wheel chair via an electric hoist, one of the techs asked her if she was going to have one of these in her home.  "Right now I don't have a home," she said, and indeed Aaron is now in California moving out of their apartment.  There belongings are going several places, the furniture here, the cats there, and we've heard that Pastor Rick has claimed the big fish tank for his office for a while.  Worries about shoulder pain, the tiredness of weaning, the longing for that actual home she no longer really has--these weigh on her a lot.  Pray for her peace of mind and that she can feel her real home is in all our hearts.  Meanwhile, there's also the daily round of smaller things--meals and meds and being turned and watching tv--that surrounds her too.  I just left the room, saying, "I'll leave you girls to do girl things."  Linda is doing her nails (finger and toe) and will be cutting about 5 inches off her hair to make it easier to keep.  Sometimes just focusing on these smaller things relieves the big worries a while.  This goes for small sensations returning here and there.  She now seems to have consistent feeling throughout the length of her right thumb.  Her left thumb comes and goes, but she felt sensation there, too, clear down to its tip this evening.  There's consistent sensation in her right tricept too.  There's not as much sensation in the left tricept--it's dull, half-numb, she says--but there's sensation nonetheless: a good sign, especially when coupled with the beginnings of consistent sensation in her left thumb.  I think of Jesus' admonition to be faithful to the small things in life.  Eventually they add up to something big.
--Richard R. Guzman  

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Even more breath!

     No sooner had I posted the last update and returned to Kari's room than I walked into to hear the respiratory therapist say he was going to skip over the two-hour wean schedule and go straight to four hours TWICE today!   She's three hours into the first session now, and will do a second four-hour period starting at 5:00 p.m. and going until 9:00 p.m.  She'll also get into a wheel chair sometime today and work on driving it herself, and tonight Rob and Allison will take her to the rec room for a movie from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Aaron leaves in half an hour for his 4:20 flight, and Shona will leave too for her 6:30 flight.  She's working on some motion with her right now just before she leaves.  Rob and Allison leave early tomorrow morning.  Please pray for us who are staying and those leaving.
--Richard R. Guzman

Going home for a few days

Hello all--

I will be flying home this evening to move out of our apartment and get things set up at school. Please pray that all the travel is safe and that I will be able to do everything I need to when I'm in CA. My Dad and Linda are going to be here while I'm gone, and Rob and Allison are going to take her to the movie room tonight. Rob and Allison will be here until tomorrow.

Kari is currently on her longest ventilator wean yet. She is supposed to go for four hours and she is already at three and change. I also have been cleared to suction Kari (getting the secretions out of her lungs) which means that pretty soon I'll be able to take her around a little more. Talk to you all later, and for those of you in CA, I'll see you soon.



     When we arrived at the Craig Hospital last night, Kari was tired after a long day of rehab.  More than that, there was a lot of pain in her neck and right shoulder, and she asked several times when she would be able to have more pain medication.  At times she would bite her lip to help get through the pain.  Yet, again, she was so happy to see us, and gracious with everyone around.  Shona reports that one time she apologized for snapping at her.  Shona was surprised, because all she had done was ask for a drink.  "Well, I felt like I was snapping at you on the inside," Kari said.
     The neck pain, the shoulder pain, and several others come partly from the strain of working the muscles and being moved.  Our muscles are often paired, but hers won't necessarily come back in pairs, so that puts extra strain on the muscles that are ready to be worked.  We noticed a kind of widely spaced spiral taping on her right forearm.  That was there to correct a muscle imbalance.  The muscle that turns her forearm outward is much stronger than the muscle that turns it inward, so when she lifts her arm the forearm always tends to turn outward.  The taping will help keep the fore arm from turning outward. 
     We asked about any other muscle groups or feeling coming back and were told that she now has some sensation returning on and off to both thumbs, though she can't move them yet.  I must admit that I'm so anxious to hear about more sensation or more movement in the hands, lower torso, or even legs, that sometimes I overlook something even more basic.  Remember when we feared she would never be able to breathe on her own again?  We should never take for granted that her breath is coming back--and it's coming back more quickly than expected.  Yesterday she breathed totally on her own for two periods of one hour each (instead of the half hour the schedule called for), and another session of one hour, ten minutes.  They may slow her down some so as not to over tax her, but soon she will be at two hours.  Then four.  From there it makes a huge jumpt to eight hours.  Once there, she creeps up in two hour segments: 10, 12, 14, until she is at 24 hours on her own.  This might happen as early as two weeks from now.  Breath, pneuma, spirit.  We start there.  We take a deep breath and slow down.  As you focus your prayers for feeling and movement in the hands, give great thanks for her breathing.  Kari is tired and sore and at times the pain saps her energy away, but her breathing is getting stronger and stronger.
--Richard R. Guzman

On a More Serious Note

Most of you probably know that Kari was supposed to lead a missions team from our church to Ethiopia, and that the team is there right now. Well, yesterday, some of the leaders of one of the Ethiopian churches laid hands on Brett, one of the team members from our church, and prayed for Kari's healing. Many of them had visions and prophetic words about Kari being totally physically restored. After that they sort of commissioned Brett to go visit Kari and pray for her--believing that through his prayer, Kari would be healed. Even though I believe that this can happen, and that is what we hope for, it is hard for me to imagine it happening; at the same time it is hard for me to imagine it never happening too. Please pray that God would reveal his plans and future for us. I know that he has them, and that they are good, but it is difficult to be patient.

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes." Jeremiah 29.11-14

Friday, August 12, 2005



Even though I am not too happy with Sears Roebuck, Inc, I am not "officially" calling for a boycott. Now, as for what you come up with on your own..........well, I'll leave that up to you. And I do agree with Rob that the John Hancock Observatory is far superior to the Sears Tower. (For all of you that don't know of the great Rob "Le Doctór" Ridenwa, he is my friend from High School and College and was the best man at our wedding.) Anyways, the part that Rob left out of the story is that I eventually found out that the Sears people could've done what I wanted all along, they just didn't believe my story until I actually went back to the hospital to get all the clothes. (Yes, I had the receipt.) I know this story probably doesn't make much sense, but if I were to take the time to explain all the details, this post would be longer than the Cubs World Series drought. What you do need to know is that Kari's friend in Oregon and her co-workers were praying for me last night that I would have a "place to express my emotions." Apparently, God provided the middle management from the Sears in Littleton, CO as an answer to their prayers--I definitely was "expressive" with them! :-)

Sears boycott

On a funny note, Aaron had a run in today with the company known as Sears
Roebuck Inc. (They will be filing for chapter 11 within the month)
Yesterday, Aaron purchased clothes for Kari for about $100 using half gift
card and half cash. As with most women when men pick out their clothes,
Kari was not satisfied with all of Aaron's selections. (Advice to guys:
jewelry and bath and body works; those are the only two gift options).
Aaron went back to Sears today seeking to return about half of his purchases
(Of course, he had also bought stuff for himself that he was happy with).
Sears then informed him that he would have to return ALL his purchases and
then rebuy the stuff he wanted with the giftcard if he wanted to receive
cash back. Upon calmly speaking to a manager, he had to come back to the
hospital and make an extra trip to Sears. Needless to say, he was a little
fired up.

So, Aaron is calling for a boycott of all Sears products. This includes the
catalogue, the tower, and the hardware stores. I've actually heard that the
view from the Hancock building is better anyways...Thank you for your


It's almost like a new car!

Kari had some very exciting events today. She continues to increase her time off the ventilator. She weaned three times today for an hour each time. When she is breathing on her own, she is starting to feel more relaxed. The doctors are hoping to have Kari off the ventilator within two weeks! During PT, Kari finished her fitting for her chair and was able to take a little spin on her own around the third floor. She was REALLY tired when she was done as she is basically relearning to use her arm muscles. Please pray that God restores Kari's strength and calms her frustration as she goes through this process.

Kari continues to feel a lot of pain in her right shoulder. This makes it difficult for her to gain strength during her physical therapy and sometimes even causes her discomfort when she is in bed. Please pray that God will heal this area so Kari's physical progress is not impeded. While there are many good things happening, all of these changes are new to Kari. She sometimes feels anxiety about these new activities (such as driving the chair!). Pray that her spirit and energy level will remain high as she faces her daily challenges.

Thank you all for the emails, cards, cd's, posts, and phone calls. Every day brings new ups and downs for Kari and Aaron and they are both uplifted whenever they receive support from their family and friends.


Update from Aaron

Hello all--

Kari's fever is basically gone, only coming back for an hour or so now and then. She is still very tired, and PT and OT both wear her out when the do her therapy. She got up in a power chair yesterday for a few hours, which made her pretty nervous, but she settled down shortly and enjoyed it. The chair still needs a few adjustments for Kari to be able to drive it on her own, but she reports that it is much more comfortable than the manual chair.

Apparently, Kari's right shoulder was slightly dislocated in the crash and moving around the last few days has given her a fair amount of pain. PT and Shona worked on it yesterday and it seemed to help a lot. Kari ventilator weaning program is going great. She was off the vent for 30 minutes two separate times yesterday and she is supposed to wean for an hour straight today. Pray for strength for her. We both miss home a great deal, but there is still so much work to be done here--Thank you for your prayers.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Update from Aaron

Hello All-

during physical therapy, Kari got to go outside today for the first time since the accident. We also took her over to my apartment for a few minutes and she was in a power chair a little while for fitting. She should be learning to drive it tomorrow. All the moving has made Kari VERY tired though, so please pray that she has enough energy for all the things that PT and OT want her to do. Also, Kari told me to thank all of you for prayers and also to pray that her fever goes away. She is not nauseous, but her fever zaps her energy and just makes her feel bad. Its been off and on for the past few weeks, (more off than on the last few days) but today it seemed to come back with a little more consistency. Still, all the little ups and downs are just little adjustments to this long uphill climb, and I pray that the Lord would continue to sustain us. Many times it is hard to see the patients here that have more function than Kari. It very easy to think that the people that can use their hands and arms have it easy. Of course, there are a few patients here that would look at Kari and think the same thing and the many families that loose loved ones every day in auto accidents would probably give anything to have them back in any condition. We want to again thank all of you that have donated money, come to visit, and performed all the little (and big) favors that have helped to make life a little easier.


P.S. Remember to email me with the visiting info at Shona is still here and will probably have more news for you tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Special Request

Hello All--

I'm writing this post to ask that you all add Brittany, Kari's roommate at Craig to your prayers. Brittany is 17 years old and from Peoria, Illinois and suffered breaks of C4-C7 in a diving accident. She has use of her arms, but not her hands and has been sick the last few days with fever, nausea, coughing and nose bleeds. Please pray that God would restore her body and also calm her fears and anxiety. Please ask God to allow her to rest so that she can focus on her rehab. Please also pray for her mother Sonia who is staying here with her. Ask God to give her wisdom with how best to help Brittany and also that God would give her peace about being here in Colorado, far away from family and friends. It is obviously very easy for Kari to understand the frustration and anxiety that Brittany has and for me to understand how it feels to see your loved one in that situation, so naturally our hearts have gone out to our two new friends. I ask that you would lift them up in prayer every time you remember to do the same for us.


Monday, August 08, 2005

The email queen

     Today people from Swedish Hospital visited Kari and brought along a crown.  The old record for emails was 300, but you all smashed that by sending over 500!  So Kari is now the email queen, and who knows how many more you would have sent in if the Craig Hospital had a similar system.  Thank you all.  As the web site says, these emails lift everyone's spirits immeasurably.  It's harder, now, to print them out, but they still lift the spirit.  Aaron also reports that the apartment he's moved into is really nice, and not cramped.  The TV has educational videos on demand to help him learn more about the kind of injury Kari has.
     The process of weaning Kari from the ventilator is going ahead of schedule.  By yesterday afternoon, they were already almost at 15 minutes with the ventilator completely off, instead of the 5 or so minutes they would have been at had they followed the protocol completely in sequence.  They think Kari is that strong.  In fact, though yesterday morning was a down time emotionally, by the afternoon, Kari reported that she felt stronger than she has ever felt since the accident.  Her lungs are slowly getting back to their full size, and during the night time, they will be using greater pressure to blow up her lungs more fully, so that the next day she can take that much bigger breaths.
     When I spoke in an earlier update about God troubling the waters, I thought later that what Jesus brings us is a miracle beyond a miracle.  When the waters stirred in the Pool of Silome, people had to rush to try to be the first one in that day so they could experience a healing miracle.  But Jesus, being Himself the font of living water, made the hustle and rush unnecessary.  During these days of rehab I hope Kari and Aaron can trust that whether the gains each day are big, or small, or, maybe even undetectable on some days, that beneath what we can measure medically God is calmly, assuredly, working to restore Kari.  Pray that they can rest in that trust, and that we all can as well.
--Richard R. Guzman

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Visitor Calendar now available

On the newly redesigned website there is a "Visiting Kari" link. It contains an email address to send me all correspondence regarding visiting Kari. ( When you book your tickets or finalize your plans, email me the dates and times you will be there and I will then post them on the website. You can also use this email if you have any questions about dates, times, or where to stay. This way everyone can see when there are more or less visitors plan accordingly. If there is a BAD time to visit, I'll post it on this page too, but for the most part, any time is as good as any other as long as there aren't too many people here at the same time.(Although that's really not a big deal either except that the more people that are here the less time you'll get to spend with Kari.) If you are planning on just coming by for an hour our so and not staying overnight, I won't post your visit on the site, but still email me to let me know you're coming. Thanks!


Bedside Water

     Yesterday they put Kari in a reclining wheel chair, and she and Aaron toured around the hospital for three hours.  She liked being that mobile, and being able to tolerate three hours up and around is a good sign.  They will start weaning her from the ventilator soon, turning it off for 2, then 3, then 5, then 10 minutes, until she is up to 8 hours, and more.  They seem confident that she'll be off of it in about 2 1/2 weeks.  She is also eating more solid foods, so that they only use her feeding tube at night now.  At present, there's no word on any more feeling or movement returning to her hands or the rest of her body, but they will start aggressive physical therapy today.  Her therapist and her husband are both youth ministers at a United Methodist Church, so she was thrilled to be assigned to Kari.
     Today she gets a full bath or shower, too.  She's kept saying, "I'll feel better after my bath" since she's been here, so that will lift her spirits a lot, as will the fact that a hospital apartment just opened up as well.  Aaron moves in tonight and will now be just one building away from Kari.
     Shona Fowler will stay on a few more days in Denver ("She appeared like an angel just before I was going to leave," Linda says) and will judge how much help Aaron needs before she goes home.  We return next Saturday, just in time for Aaron to leave for California to move out of their apartment, and will stay at least a day after he returns.  We're back again on the 29th-31st, and again on September 4-5th.  In between and after and overlapping a little, several friends plan to come in, and the Morris' thought they could return in about 4 weeks.  Aaron has said that if you would like to come and visit, just let him know, and he can tell you within a few hours what the visiting situation is.  It should only take a little while to arrive at a good date, and there are several fairly cheap and nice places to stay close to the hospital, if it's not possible to share his hospital apartment (at the most, it's a small one-bedroom setup and may even be an efficiency).
     Aaron's brothers have been waiting for an appropriate time to come.  His older brother Rick and his wife Desiree will be in Denver August 19th-21st, and his younger brothers are coming soon as well.  One younger brother, Daniel is pursuing a music career, and his band plays tonight at a club in West Chicago.  "They've got such incredible energy!" Kari said when she heard them for the first time back in Chicago about a year and a half ago.  He, and especially his brother Bryan, are close to Kari.  About three months ago I noticed they've got a picture of her stuck in the switch plate cover of the kitchen light in their Chicago apartment!
     When Daniel first heard about the accident he sat in a living room chair staring straight ahead for nearly 45 minutes.  After an hour he went down stairs and we heard him starting to play his guitar.  Just a day after her operation he had written a beautiful song for Kari called "Bedside Water." It's unique.  "Never in a million years could I see anybody else coming up with this," said Linda. The song starts as a conversation between Daniel and the glass of water at his bedside: "Oh, bedside water, have you heard about my sister? / Oh, she took a beating from the god of chance."  He imagines our God troubling the water.  It steams, loses form, and travels westward as God meditates on our prayers.  It floats through Kari's door where it becomes a cloud and rains into the glass at her bedside, ready to quench her thirst.
     Even after she started eating more solid foods, what Kari craved more than anything else was water.  Water for the bath that she gets today, but most of all just water to drink.  At times she would drink and drink as if she were unquenchable.  Late Thursday night as she was driving home, Linda called Daniel to tell him how his song and Kari's thirst connected so beautifully.  We will be using the song as the basis of a fund raising effort in the near future.  Please watch for news of this.  Most of all, we live in great expectation that God is going to trouble the waters.  Pray for this.  Expect this.
--Richard R. Guzman     

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Best and Worst of Times

     Kari has said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing me here."  Though the people at Swedish were absolutely incredible, she actually feels comfortable at Craig Hospital and is amazed at all the classes available to her (including swimming) and all the people and technology they have to take care of her and help her get better.
     The hospital is paying for Aaron to stay back at the Marriott until an adjacent apartment comes free.  It's a beautiful set up, and only 15-20 minutes away.  At Craig, too, there are enough people attending to Kari that he feels they don't need someone in the room or just down the hall every single minute.
     It's been a high for these two to get into the Craig rehab program.  Yet Aaron and I talked last night about that classic line that begins Dickens' *Tale of Two Cities*: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  These two aren't on a roller-coaster.  Rather, they're living in the paradoxical tension created when best and worst walk side by side.  They have never, ever felt so loved, and will never be able to thank you all enough; yet they have never felt so alone at the same time.  They, as we all do, thank God that Kari is doing better than expected; yet, of course, she is still largely paralyzed.  I tried to convey this paradox in an earlier update speaking about how joy and suffering walk side by side.  It's not that they aren't looking to and trusting in God with thanks, either.  They are.  It's a strange feeling that's maybe harder to express than to actually live in, but it's a reality I wanted to try to convey to you to help you pray for these two.  Your prayers are what they have needed the most from the beginning and will continue to need as they move into the rigorous stage of rehab.
--Richard R. Guzman       

Thursday, August 04, 2005

KARI'S NEW ADDRESS -- Please take careful note

     Kari was moved this afternoon to the adjacent Craig Hospital where she will begin rehab work, presumably tomorrow.  Her new address is:
     Karen Morris-Guzman
     Room 304, Bed A
     Craig Hospital
     3425 S. Clarkson
     Englewood, CO  80113
     EMAILS: The Craig Hospital does NOT appear to have a similar email system as Swedish Hospital.  We'll see how best to keep the emails coming--perhaps sending them directly to Aaron, who has his laptop with him.  It will take a couple of days to sort this out. For now, I think cards and letters would be a good way to keep in touch with Kari and Aaron.
     Linda reports that moving caused Kari another bout of maximum stress.  Just like last time there were seven or eight people flying around her, taking things down, packing things up, unhooking this and that.  Seen from a slight distance it was a little comical, like the Three Stooges times two!  They move patients from Swedish to Craig via an underground walk way.  "We're going to have to get a good running start," Linda heard one of the movers say.  Sure enough, one part of the walk way seemed to be on a 20-25% incline, so at one point they were almost running.  Kari wanted Aaron at the foot of her bed when they were moving, just so she could see him because she was so afraid.  But it was a bad position for him.  He ran the bed into the wall a couple of times and was moved elsewhere along the bed.  The position was bad for his back, too.  Recent x-rays reveal that Aaron suffered some compression fractures in an upper vertebra (perhaps around C4-C5, I'm not sure yet).  Dr. McVicker, the great surgeon who operated on Kari, saw Aaron and said these should heal on their own in a couple of weeks.  Nothing to be alarmed about, unless Aaron strains the back by lifting too much, wrenching it, or running into more walls, none of which we hope he does.
     Another whirlwind of change for these two, something they will be experiencing for quite some time.  As always, we appreciate your intercessions on their behalf.
--Richard R. Guzman 

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Moving again

     This day began with so much anxiety, even panic.  Kari wasn't doing well emotionally.  It disturbed pastor Derin so much he asked if Shona wanted to stay to take Linda's place as she leaves Thursday.  Shona jumped at the chance.  Then, as Aaron reports, just as Kari's emotional burdens seemed to crescendo, there came the news that she is being admitted to the Craig Hospital rehabilitation program tomorrow.  That puts Kari and Aaron's return to California around 90 days from tomorrow, or somewhere in the first week of November.  Get ready.  But first things first.  Back to day by day.  Besides the move, the article, the apartment's waiver of fees, and Shona staying, Shona also reports that Kari's physical therapist noted some new movement in Kari's triceps, which indicates some spinal and other nerve activity BELOW C6.  Her hands sense pressure, but there's no strong feeling or any movement in them, yet something is happening below the place where the hands should be feeling more.  It's a little bit of a puzzle, but who knows what the body is doing, what might possibly be re-wiring in strange ways.  We are wonderfully made.  Again, it's hard to interpret what's going on medically, but it's OK to hope and be boldly optimistic.  We run the danger of being disappointed, but it's worth the risk.  God is with us equally in our joys and disappointments. 
--Richard R. Guzman   

From Aaron

Hello all--

Good news today! Both Kari and I had our spirits lifted today by two different events. First, we found out that Kari will be moved to Craig Hospital to start her rehabilitation program tomorrow (8/4). This is a huge answer to prayer as Kari's spirit was feeling especially oppressed by having to sit and wait in the hospital without being able to do anything. Also tomorrow there will be a front page (at least that's what they told me) story on Kari in the Press Enterprise, a California newspaper from Riverside that has a daily circulation of 190,000 copies and an adult readership of over half a million people. Also an answer to prayer is that our apartment management has decided to waive the lease-break fee when we move out.
As far as visitors go, please simply call or email me to let me know when you are thinking about coming. I'll be able to tell you if anyone else will be there at that time and that way you can be planning accordingly. There is not really anytime that will be better than others, and there really is no way to tell in advance Kari's desire to see people on a particular day. I just don't have time to try to arrange things, but I can tell you who's going to be here once they decide on coming. Hopefully we'll be able to spread things out. Check back in a few days on the website though, as we might have a "Visit Kari" link up with a schedule and/or different email address to just handle schedules.
As always, please continue to pray as even amongst all the good news there have been so many difficult things that we could never have anticipated dealing with. What we need even more than help or encouragement is people that will try to walk beside us to help ease the pain and share the burden amongst the body of Christ.



     I reported last night that Kari felt wetness on her hand.  Upon closer questioning this morning Linda reports that, in fact, she only saw the wetness and didn't feel it.  It's hard to know what to report, and, as I said in an earlier update, if our foundation hope is in God, then we can better keep possible progress, even possible setbacks, in perspective.  Now this morning Kari was having trouble getting comfortable in bed.  She said, in fact, that her lower back hurt.  Well, how are we to interpret this?  Did she really feel her lower back, something she hasn't been able to do so far.  Or is she reporting a general feeling of discomfort and imagining that it is centered in her lower back?  Let's hope that her lower back "hurts," even though that's uncomfortable, but it's hard to tell right now.
     What's easier to see is the medical stuff.  Her fever appears to be gone, and though she has asked to be suctioned several times this morning, her lungs are clearer than they have been in days.  Then again, this condition is one that may go back and forth for weeks.  Also easier to "see" is her mood.  This morning she was having trouble breathing, due mainly to what might be a mild anxiety attack.  She's growing impatient--not entirely a bad thing--wants to move on and wishes she could get up and run around the room.  We all wish that too, Kari.  Linda asked, Do you feel like screaming sometimes?  Sure enough, she did.  In those early days right after surgery she would say, "I want to get up...Now!"  One of her nurses replied, "Oh, you'll be getting up plenty in a few weeks."  Rehab will be so difficult she's going to wish she could lay down more, but this waiting time in between is getting harder for her.   Let's hope she starts soon...Now!  But in the mean time, please pray that she can relax and that the growing anxieties about the present and future might be soothed.  Easy enough to say, for sure, but how else can we pray?  I kept saying in those first days after the accident, "Relax.  Don't fight the tube.  Don't fight the ventilator--just go with it."  Again, really easy to say.  Her fighting spirit is great, but it has some offshoots--like impatience, like anxiety--that are hard to deal with.
--Richard R. Guzman    

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Something overheard

     Today was a good day for Kari.  She continues to have a low-grade fever, but it's definitely lower than it was, and the doctors are being conservative with antibiotics.  She also did more sitting in a chair, which she enjoys so much.  When her physical therapist was doing some range of motion work with her, she accidently disconnected Kari's IV, and nobody noticed until Kari said, "I feel something wet on my hand."  Linda said her thumb was only slightly wet, so perhaps feeling is returning more and more each day.  We hope this might be the forerunner of real movement returning to that hand as well.
     Linda also reports that six envelopes of emails were delivered today, and that she has filled up three full, two-inch binders with them, and that some of them express some jealousy over Linda's being able to be there to serve Kari.  You're all just like the nurses in the Critical Care Unit who were jockeying just for the privilege of taking care of her!  My neice Megan said she understood that prayer  was coming from all over the world.  "I've got Ireland covered," she said, which is where she's spending the summer.  Thank you all for these attitudes.  We will let you know if we need people to actually come to Denver, but the situation still remains so fluid, and your prayers and emails are more powerful than words can express here.  What an uplift these are to everyone, not just Kari.
     There appears to be a gap where we might be able to use someone.  Linda must leave Thursday afternoon, and we do not return until August 13th, but I simply don't know yet the details of these eight intervening days to be able to say, "Come to Denver!"  Still, if anyone might be able to come, why don't you reply to this update and include your email address so we might be able to get in touch quickly.  There has been some thought that Rob might be back, but we are not sure yet.  I'll try to clear this up, but that may be hard.  For one thing, the move from the Swedish Hospital to the adjoining Craig Rehabilitation Hospital is still up in the air.  This afternoon Linda just happened to overhear a doctor from Craig out in the hall talking about Kari.  She reports that he was so enthusiastic, saying that Kari is going to be a great candidate and that he really wanted to get her over there soon--maybe by the end of the week, hopefully for sure next week.  What this means for visitors or those coming to help, I just can't say now. 
     Aaron is feeling much better today, having been ordered to get more rest, and through some of his students in Riverside, CA, he's been contacted by one of the area papers that wants to do a story on Kari and maybe help in some fund raising.
     The Morris's left early today.  Keep Karen Morris, Kari's Mom, especially in your prayers.  More visitors came, too.  Some of the kids, especially, seemed to think she was almost too fragile to touch, but Linda showed them she wasn't, and Kari is taking more charge of the situation herself, asking them questions to ease their shyness and firmly controlling the time they spend with her.  All in all, a good day. 
--Richard R. Guzman 

A Message From Aaron

Hello All--

This is the first time I've written anything on the blog, so I first want to thank all of you who have been sending emails, cards, care packages and flowers, those that have donated money, and most of all to those that have been committed in prayer for us. It is very humbling to know that so many people are following along and helping to shoulder the weight of the situation. Anyways, I want to call on all of you to pray specifically that Kari's Pneumonia goes away quickly, that the transition to Craig Hospital (rehab) goes smoothly, that our apartment management would let us out of our lease without penalty, and that the Lord would grant us both patience and strength as we are both (Kari especially) getting a little stir-crazy. Most of all though, I want to ask all you to approach God humbly to ask him to heal Kari's body. We don't know God's timing or plan in this situation, but I ask that you would keep this prayer in your hearts for the many years to come. As you pray for this, remember that we don't have God's eternal vision--so it is in our human frailty that we bring this petition before the Lord.

God bless,


Monday, August 01, 2005

Sitting Up

     Today they performed a bronchoscopy on Kari to check her lungs and suction out what the normal suction procedure could not.  They removed lots of fluid, and though Kari still has problems with coughing, we hope this helps relieve her somewhat.  It’s hard to watch suction because it gags her again and again and takes her breath away.  Also, she had a fever on and off all day, though its high was 100.4, a degree lower than it was a couple of days ago.  On the other hand, when Shona was doing some range of motion work with Kari this morning she reported that she’s gained more motion in her arms, especially the right arm.  She can now turn her forearm both inward and outward.  And today they sat her in a chair for about a half hour.  Linda said that she really enjoyed it and looked happy and cute.  The sitting up should also improve her breathing and help with fluid buildup.

     There were more visitors today, especially from St. Charles, but it was hard to see Sarah leave, and today Aaron looked very tired.  Pray that he will take better care of himself and allow himself time away to get some rest.  Tomorrow the Morris’ leave for a while, and that’s bound to be very hard on Kari.

     I returned to Naperville this morning on an early Frontier flight.  This evening, as I was leaving my office at about 6:15 p.m. two former students shouted at me from across the parking lot.  Byron and Dave had been very spiritual, and were now both in ministry.  In 15 years I had seen only Byron once when he preached at our church.  When they asked what was going on I of course told them about Kari and Aaron.  After listening to details for a while, Dave said, “Has anyone received any word from Lord about what He is going to do.”  “Well, yes,” I said, and told him a vision that came to me just hours after the accident.  I saw a certain level of healing in a certain time period, and it was so clear and precise and has remained so strong that I have often taken it as a kind of promise from the Lord.  Before tonight I have told only one person (my wife) the details, and will not go into them here.  Perhaps, when or if I ever share this with Kari, I may, but the time has not come yet.  “I asked for a specific reason,” Dave said.  “Because you answered immediately and with absolute certainly, that lets me know that there may be other, bigger visions happening out there throughout the Body of Christ.”  I’ve thought about this a lot, and it seems clear that Dave is probably right.  My gifts at prayer, faith, and spiritual vision aren’t very great, and there are surely hundreds out there whose gifts here are much greater.  I ask you to pray with the greater vision and faith God has given you.  You don’t necessarily need to reveal the vision God has given you.  Some things may be best kept to yourself for now, just as Mary knew truths about who Jesus was but started by just “pondering them in her heart.”  Byron said, “Just talking to you now I get the strongest feeling that she’s going to be all right, and more healing is going to happen sooner than you think.  Even medically speaking, you know we’re built with backup systems we don’t understand yet.  If something goes wrong God created the body to go around the damage.”  We held hands and prayed right there in the middle of the parking lot, a few cars going slowly around us.  Dave prayed: “Let Kari and this family feel the joy and intimacy of the Lord.”  I said, “In times like these, that’s about all we have.”  “Dr. Guzman,” Dave said, “that’s all we ever really have.  Incidents like these just lift the veil so we can see that truth.”   I have taken great heart from all this, and I hope you will as well.


--Richard R. Guzman