I feel like I start every update like this, but I must say a lot has happened since the last time I wrote on Thursday. For starters, Kari and I went on our first outing on Friday. It was Kari’s first time in a car since the accident and it turned out to be not as big of a deal for her as she thought. She was pretty worried about the anxiety and what her reaction would be to being in a motor vehicle, and she was surprised at how easy it was. We went to a park at Bear Creek with about 15 other people and basically just hung out and had lunch. There was a lot of space for Kari to practice driving, and she did okay—fine when she wasn’t in as much pain, but she couldn’t do much when she was. She ended up sleeping through a lot of it, thought because she was on a very high level of pain medicine. My Uncle Joe came out this weekend too, and it was nice to be able to get out a little with him and go to dinner—definitely a nice break!
The best news to report, though, is that as of this writing, Kari has now been off the ventilator continuously for over 87 hours (since 9:20 Friday morning) and they have removed the machine from her room completely as of Sunday. It makes transfers and getting ready a lot easier not to have to deal with the portable vent and everything. The other great part about it is that she wears her “talkie” all the time now and so I don’t have to read her lips anymore. (Although I did become quite good at it.) As Kari put it: “I feel human now.”
Even so, it has been hard for us to celebrate this milestone, as Kari’s pain is worsening and the last three days has been unbearable. The pain medication (oxycodone) that they have been giving her has all but stopped working, and now it even fails to take the edge off the pain. A few times when doing transfers, Kari’s pain was so high that she simply went into a state of panic—her hair wet from a mixture of sweat and tears. When nurses come in to give medicine, they usually ask her what her “pain level” is, which is a number Kari gives them from 1, very slight pain, to 10 which is the worst possible pain imaginable. For the last month her level has never been below 6, for the last few weeks never below 8, and for the last 3 days, never below 9.5—being 10 most of the time. What her doctor has been saying is that the pain should lessen as she is able to get up and move more, but this week she’s done more of that than ever, and the pain has only gotten worse. We both feel a bit like we’ve taken a few steps back as far as functionality is concerned (apart from breathing) because even if Kari grits it out through her therapies, all they really do is work on trying to control the pain through things like stretching and massage, both of which are very painful to her. We are not trying to be ungrateful for her strides with breathing, but as Kari describes it, the pain just “takes over” everything else and is all she can think about. Equally as frustrating is the fact that Kari cannot tell what position her body is in and often feels like things are pressing, pulling, twisting or being ripped away from her when in reality they are perfectly positioned. She even feels a fair amount of pain in her legs and other parts of her body that she cannot feel any other sensation.
To be honest with you, I don’t know “what the deal is,” with all this. Many of the recent emails we’ve read have said that Kari and I have been an “inspiration.” I’m thankful for the good that we’ve seen come out of this, but frankly I’m a little uncomfortable with that label. I in no way want to be cynical or ungrateful about what many of you have written—like I said, I am thankful for the good effects that we’ve seen come of this; most thankful (and excited) when I hear people say that this has brought them closer to God. I guess what I mean is that we don’t always feel that close to God and sometimes wonder if he hears what we say. Apparently patience is virtue which I still must acquire. Today we were sent a card which had many passages that contain God’s promises. While reading them, we knew that they are still true for us, even though the reality in which we’re in doesn’t seem to agree. Pray for endurance for us, and especially for Kari. I know that answers for prayer often take both time and a shape different from what we request. Also pray that God would reveal his presence; knowing how these things usually work, though, it’s actually a matter of us not being able to see him fully—pray that we’d figure out how to open our eyes.
Before I go, I want to thank anyone who’s reading this for keeping up with us. If you know me well enough, you know that I “talk to think, and writing on the blog gives me a forum in which to sort out the traffic jam in my head. I usually don’t know what I’m going to write when I start, and even from the beginning of writing this to now, I feel God helping me sort this out. Right now I am being reminded of the great hymn “Open my eyes, Lord.” Many of you have said that it helps you know how to pray. I think it helps me too.
P.S. Now that its 1:40, that makes it 88hrs and 20min off the vent (