Goodbye, Ventilator – Hello, Speech, Movement & Eating
June 5, 2015 from Immanuel
Thank you for your continued prayers for Mike and the Francis family. Mike remains in a coma, and we long for and continue in prayer for him to awaken to full consciousness soon. Mike was moved yesterday to the new care facility located on the 11th floor of the hospital, to receive medical care there for the next 30 days. His transition has gone well and the medical staff is giving dedicated and professional care. Your prayers and concern have been a source of encouragement for Maria and the family and as a result they have felt sustained, protected, and comforted in ways that only God, Himself, can provide.
Maddie will be returning from Atlanta today so please pray for her safety as she travels back to central Florida. Her time of training with RUF has gone well thanks to the many prayers from each of you. Lydia’s first day back at her internship in Longwood went well also and she is grateful for your prayers.
“I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” –Psalm 145:1-3
June 6, 2015 from Immanuel
Thank you for your continued prayers for Mike and the Francis family. Mike remains in a coma, and we long for and continue in prayer for him to awaken to full consciousness soon. Mike is in a the 11th floor care facility for the next 30 days. His transition there has gone well and the medical staff is giving dedicated and professional care. Yesterday he exhibited an increased level of facial expressions, opening of eyes, and movement of his extremities. All of these signs are encouraging and we continue to hope for full consciousness.
June 12, 2015 at 9:47 p.m. from Maria to “inner ring”
I am not sure how to word this in a general way for the rest of the people on the “big” prayer list but want all of you to know this much. Our children feel strongly (and I agree) that all the people who love Mike and are praying for him don’t need these specifics and that when Mike one day wakes up he wouldn’t like for this to be known.
Mike has been more and more active this week, which we consider a huge answer to prayer. In the last couple of days he has been more and more agitated and uncomfortable, needing his arms restrained to protect the trach area. I have been sad to see him look so frustrated. In the goodness and mercy of God, the nurse we had today wondered if he might have a UTI, and one thing led to another. They emptied his bladder (1300cc) and ran tests that showed a yeast infection, a bit of something in his lungs (sorry, forgot the medical term) that could have become pneumonia if left untreated, and a possible UTI (awaiting lab results). They’ve begun the appropriate meds/antibiotics.
He is a whole new guy, peaceful and pretty happy. I am greatly relieved.
Side notes: today there was a constant stream of visitors who testified to Mike’s visiting parents not only of their love for him but of their changed lives through the love of Christ. Kathy Sirutis shared her whole testimony (though Mike’s dad left part way through). “They will know we are Christians by our love” was happening in technicolor beauty here on the 11th floor for Joe and Mary Lee.
Among the visitors this afternoon was our Stetson [Messiah] choir director, Tim Peter, and his wife Sandra. Besides leading some great singing bedside for Mike, they left a CD player and bag of CDs, so our music expanded beyond Mike’s iPod playlists. We played some of the CD of messages from his fraternity brothers, which was fun. We’ve got Yo Yo Ma playing some Bach cello solos at the moment and Mike’s feet are happily wiggling away.
When I got back from work after lunch and greeted Mike with a kiss, he definitely leaned in for another, and when I put my ear close to the trach I could hear him attempting sounds. [insert smiley emoticon] Now that his attention is not consumed by discomfort, he seems much more aware of us.
For the 19th night, I will lay my head on the pillow with a heart full of gratitude to God for doing above and beyond what we could ask or imagine. It’s been another good day.
June 15, 2015 from Immanuel
Thank you for your continued prayers for Mike and the Francis family. Mike continues to improve daily with increased levels of movement and moments of acknowledgement when people are present. However, he is not yet exhibiting purposeful responses, and we continue to hope for full consciousness. The medical staff is very encouraged with the amount of progress he has made since being admitted to this new care center, and this in turn is a huge blessing for the entire Francis family. Currently Mike is in the process of being weaned from the ventilator and has been breathing mostly on his own. Once he is no longer dependent upon the respirator, he will need to be moved to another care facility that specializes in neurology. Your prayers and messages remain a source of encouragement for Maria and the family and they have felt sustained, protected, and comforted in ways that only God, Himself, can provide. (The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” -Lamentations 3:23)
June 16, 2015 from Maria to friends and family, “Bye Felicia”
Mike is officially weaned from the ventilator, and they just wheeled it away! Thanks for all the prayers that contributes to this happy update.
June 22, 2015 from Maria
Mike has been making great progress for the past few days. With the help of therapists, he has been able to sit on the side of the bed and stand for brief periods. The staff gave him (and us) a special Father’s Day gift of T-shirt, balloons, card, and a wheelchair trip outside. On Sunday, his trach was removed. We have seen him try to form a few words. Tomorrow, they will administer a swallowing test. These are all wonderful answers to prayer. Awesome, in fact. We are just thrilled.
We have prayed Psalm 40 since the early days of this journey, especially verses 1-3, and they seem all the more appropriate now:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
Last, the case manager is actively checking on places for rehab, so we appreciate prayers for the Lord’s leading, timing, and provision. For Mike to be accepted for rehab, he needs to be able to willingly and actively participate, so we continue to wait and pray for purposeful responses. We don’t want to have to go to skilled nursing to wait on the cognition part and have his body further atrophy.
A huge thank you to everyone for the prayers, the cards, the gifts, and a million other lovely forms of encouragement. I’m low on effusive expression at the moment, but I am really, profoundly grateful.
June 27, 2015 from Maria
Please pardon me for a group email instead of the leisurely chat I wish I could have with each one of you. Here is the update I drafted this morning for the church/presbytery, and the thanks included there is for you too.
One of the prayer requests is for medical issues, and the biggest one of those is his heart. The cardiologist stopped by a little while ago, as they are monitoring irregularities (v-tach incidents) and the vulnerability of Mike’s heart as he undertakes more therapy. They will arrange for him to have a “life vest” monitor when he leaves here, and he may need to have a stent placed before he can go to rehab.
Now you know more than our church folks, and here’s the update …
Sisters, brothers, friends,
Thanks is much too small a word for what your prayers and myriad forms of encouragement mean for Mike and our family. Today is Day 34, and our “aliveness”—Mike, our family, Immanuel—is a direct answer to your prayers and a testimony to God’s faithfulness. Every day we thank the Lord for more progress, though we don’t often have headline news to report.
Mike is awake, alert, and often truly engaged with us. Speech is returning, and it is intelligible and intelligent, though he often starts a sentence without completing it. He’s as sassy as ever, and has been making progress with swallowing, standing, and steps enough to walk around the bed. At the same time the reality of his situation is setting in, and Mike does not like being hospitalized.
At this time, we expect to have another week or so here in 1124 of Florida Memorial Hospital and hope to go from here to the Brooks rehab at Halifax.
In particular, we appreciate prayer for the following:
- Thanksgiving for all that the Lord has done thus far, much more than we asked or imagined.
- Mike’s morale: that he would know above all else who he is as God’s child, that he would experience the Lord’s comfort and peace in an overwhelming way and remember the promises in Scripture that were so wonderfully hidden is his heart.
- Continued progress for all things physical and mental. For therapy to be effective, Mike’s mind must be actively engaged, and he must follow directions.
- Medical issues that are still being addressed.
- Maddie, Luke, Lydia, and me, as we try to balance life in the hospital and life outside and to faithfully run the race set before us.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all than we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generation, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20
All by His grace,
Maria for the family
July 1, 2015 from Maria to the “big list”
Beloved prayer warriors,
Again we ask you to bring Mike and our family before the throne of grace. Please continue to pray for the healing of his heart, mind, and body, and for the Holy Spirit’s encouragement, comfort, and peace.
The heart catheterization and placement of stents will be done tomorrow morning. Due to concern for Mike’s heart, the doctor has forbidden any standing or steps for physical therapy and wants him to wear the life vest external defibrillator as soon as possible. In addition, an invasive procedure and sedation will likely set back the neurological recovery a few days. As you pray about these things, please join us in thanking God for the wonderful team of doctors, nurses, and caregivers.
Several have asked what the nature of Mike’s condition is if he’s no longer in a coma. There is no one-word answer. Mike suffered a hypoxic-anoxic brain injury, and the extent of the brain damage and his potential recovery is as yet unknown (read more here: http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/health-library/diseases-and-https://caregiver.org/hypoxic-anoxic-brain-injury), and conditions/anoxic-brain-damage. Mike has already well exceeded the doctors’ expectations, and the nurses use the word “miracle.” We are thrilled with his progress and attribute all of it to the mercy of God to answer your prayers and care for Mike.
It is our prayer that you won’t grow weary in praying for Mike and this whole situation. We continue to see the Lord’s kindness to us in so many details of our life and often listen to this song–indeed, He has and will hold me fast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4tTPDyEtPE.
And now a reward for those who have read this far: good news. The speech therapist just came by to work on swallowing, and Mike has graduated to applesauce! Another milestone and answer to prayer!
Thank you again for your prayers and many expressions of care for us.
Still by His grace,
Maria for the family
July 1, 2015 from Maria to a friend included this additional news
Meanwhile, the frustration gets the best of him sometimes, and he can be combative and not nice. They say this is an expected part of brain injury recovery, but it’s hard on us, and something I don’t want church visitors to see. It’s hard to know how much to say to the church.
July 2, 2015 from Maria
Dr. Liu and her team successfully placed four cardiac stents this morning. The heart blockage was even more than originally thought. Please join us in thanking God once again for his gracious provision and in asking for His help for Mike to keep his left leg still for the rest of the day so that the catheter insertion wound can heal.
Psalm 46:1 felt real and true today: God being our refuge, strength, and very present help in time of trouble.
Safe with the One who never leaves or forsakes us,
Maria for the whole family
July 9, 2015 from Maria
Beloved prayer warriors,
For 46 days we have seen the Lord’s mercies renewed every morning here at the hospital in Ormond, and we just received news that we will move tomorrow to the Brooks Center for Rehabilitation at Halifax Hospital. This represents an answer to thousands, maybe millions, of prayers for progress and provision for Mike. Thank you!
We love that God told Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest,” and we join Moses in praying, “If your presence will not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” Even as we give thanks for God’s miraculous work in saving and restoring Mike this much, and for all that He has provided, we are keenly aware of our neediness on the road ahead.
I know the Spirit will guide you to pray for much more than I can think of, but here is what is on my heart today for prayer:
- Mike and our family as we transition to a new place, new routine, and new caregivers
- Productive times of therapy so that Mike can make maximum physical and cognitive progress
- Full and compete recovery
- Thanksgiving for the wonderful caregivers here. I have lived with the 11th floor team for 5 weeks, and we are all going to miss them a lot.
- Strength for all five Francises, as well as the Immanuel family and the greater family of God, to persevere hopefully and joyfully on this journey (Romans 15:13)
- Provision of housing in New York for Maddie before August 1 (right place, right people, right price)
Once we know the rules and routine at Brooks, we will let you know about visits.
With thanksgiving for all of you, the mighty company of saints before the throne,
Maria for all the Francises