A year has passed since I posted my last blog entry. And over two years since the time I was writing about. A lot has happened since then, and much of what has happened I can only call miraculous.
There is a group of Christians in our city that offers prayer for healing in any respect where healing is needed – emotional, spiritual, relational, and/or physical. I had been hesitating for months about asking them to come and pray for Michael. He knew about and was very fond of this group before suffering his stroke, so I knew he’d have no compunctions about inviting them, but they showed certain theological tendencies about healing and God’s will in healing that I couldn’t go along with. So I hovered for a couple of months – shall I call them or not? In the end, I decided that beggars couldn’t afford to be choosers, and that I was a beggar in need of more divine intervention than I was seeing. I called the leader of the group, whose telephone number had been given to me. We made an appointment for her to visit Michael with a couple of other people from her team.
As soon as I saw them, I was reassured. They were all nice, gentle people of retirement age, donating their time to pray for my husband, who just couldn’t seem to wake up out of this coma-like state! They laid hands over Michael and we all prayed.
I think God hides the very things that God does, so that there is no proof that whatever has happened is from God or mere coincidence. So it was here. Michael was starting to improve on the day before the healing prayers. But ever since the prayers, he started to improve in leaps and bounds. I wrote in an email to friends and family, “Who knows? Maybe Michael will one day be able to eat, talk and walk again!”
Ever so gradually, that is what has happened.
At first, after a three-month stay in the rehab hospital, Peter was transferred to a group home for tracheostoma patients. It was a friendly, kind setting with room for only seven patients. He had his own room which I furnished for him with some of our things and some new things I purchased. Here the therapies continued. Michael gradually began to be able to stand again, to eat things like bread and pasta, to walk around the home with therapists supporting him on either side, and to make little sounds once in a while with his voice. I sang songs for him, leaving gaps in the lyrics for him to fill. He filled the gaps. He helped with washing himself, smiled at me, answered yes and no to my questions, and began to read the newspaper! Everyone marveled at his amazing progress. Was it all the prayers? Was it the high dosage of fish oil he was suddenly allowed to have each day? Both? It was beautiful to behold.
Michael lived in the group home for a year and a half, making nearly steady progress, with some unfortunate hospital visits due to colds and pneumonia. The only drawback of living in this setting was that living in a group home with other patients, some had multi-resistant germs, which Michael also contracted.
A doctor suggested Michael go back to the rehab hospital he had been in after his stroke, so he went there in September, 2016 spending five months there. During his time there, he made enough progress so that they could remove his trach. That very day he began talking to me, albeit usually in only a whisper. How thrilling it was to carry on mini-conversations with my husband! I had not had a conversation with him in over two years. However, with his ability to speak, I began to see other things that have been lost. For instance, he still believes that his parents, who have been dead for over fifteen years, are alive, or that he is much younger than he is. But we can talk about things.
I have been learning interesting lessons about things lost and gained, and about things we normally highly prize. Being able to remember the past in all its detail would be something to strive for, one would think – a stepping stone to more happiness. But here is something about Michael that confounds all logic. He is content with his life as it is. For the first time in our lives, he is an absolute pleasure to be around.
Some things lost started to come back. He began writing more and more too, signing his name. Once he even wrote a letter to our son Chris, although most of it was illegible to me. He played games with a tablet I had purchased for him, and I could see he still knew most of the capitals of the countries of the world.
Unfortunately, the nurses went on strike about the fish oil and refused to administer it any more, stating he had suddenly developed diarrhea and that the oil was bad for the feeding tube. I could do nothing. At around that time, he developed a tremor in his right hand, rendering it impossible for him to write anymore. His gait changed to baby steps instead of solid forward step movements. Before long, the doctor had diagnosed him with “Parkinson-like symptoms” and put him on Parkinson medications. Fortunately for me, I was able to give him some food to eat. Swallowing has been an issue since getting the trach sewed up. His concentration comes and goes, and he forgets to swallow, or swallows only incompletely. But I could give him pureed food, and with that, begin feeding him the fish oil again into his mouth rather than through the feeding tube, beginning with a very low dosage.
The Parkinson symptoms continued, or changed, from tremors to cyclical movements of his hands and arms, like chopping the air. Otherwise, the medications have changed nothing of his symptoms. But, the hospital decided he’d had enough rehab to be able to go home.
After two years and three months of hospital, rehab hospital and group home stays, my husband and I are finally living under one roof again! And I am caught up now in this blog to the present. From now on this blog will be about our daily life, living with the aftermath of the stroke. There’s still no way outa here, but life in this place I would never have chosen has turned out to be something very precious.