visits and progress

Judah has been working so very hard today. He sat up in bed, smiled and laughed while watching Brave, squished play-doh, sort of finger painted (he hates to have dirty hands), and then made Daddy and me feel like the funniest people in the world laughing and smiling while sitting in the rocking chair all by himself. The thing I noticed that was different about today vs yesterday is that when he was done working, he didn’t freak out. He didn’t flail and yell, he whined and then we put him in his bed and after some questions to figure out what he wanted, took a rest. Our Great God is providing comfort to our sweet frustrated little boy!
We had a ton of out of town visitors and Judah responded well to all of them. Thank you for making the drive to love on us and our boy.

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smiles and giggles make hearts full

And our God, merciful and playful has returned Judah his laugh. He is hearing our prayers and answering for His glory and our joy!
We put one of his favorite movies on and he started smiling. Then a few minutes later, laughing. Just now he sat off the bed and folded himself in half then laid back down. He’s thoroughly enjoying himself!!!

After a wonderful 3 hrs with smiling and laughing and even some words Judah crashed into an angry depression. We think he may have exhausted himself but after 2 hrs of only grunting and flailing we backed off and let him be. It is so hard to see him make such progress one minute, and then the next, backslide. He was again frustrated and cried in anger.
We prayed for Jehovah Jireh to provide patience and comfort to Judah and to us and then prayed our same prayer for supernatural healing of his vocal chords, swallowing system, tongue, mouth, and that connection between what he knows and how to say it. Please continue to pray with us and for us.
We are so grateful for the glimpse at our little boy and thank God for it. We want more!!!!

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Swallowing

Praise be to our Jehovah Rapha! We prayed for supernatural healing and He has come to our aid. Judah was, yesterday, unable to swallow or keep saliva in his mouth and today he is not only swallowing but in total control of his spot. No drooling!

Keep the prayers for supernatural healing of:
-voice box
-connection from cognitive to mouth (speaking what he knows)

Our God is mighty and has a glorious work to complete in Judah. He has carried us a giant step in the right direction. Keep praying for miraculous, quick and unexplainable healing.

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Judah goes for a ride

Tonight our amazing nurse took us for a ride to a room made of windows. I don’t think Judah has seen the sky or trees in 2 wks and I was thrilled for him. I started talking about what we could see and then I asked him to pick something and try to say it.
I may have pushed him too hard after hearing him say Momma because he got really frustrated and started crying. And then I started crying. I hate this so much and this evening, I realized, this is probably harder on him than us. The little boy who could pronounce anything after hearing it once can’t say “tree”. And he shapes the words but just can’t figure it out. I asked God through mine and my sons tears, “What are you waiting for?” He has shown up consistently and carried us. And for some reason, that doesn’t feel like enough. We want a miracle!
Mumzy is staying with Judah tonight but before I left I prayed with him asking for our Jehovah Rapha, The Lord who heals, to supernaturally reach down and touch Judah’s vocal chords and mouth and tongue and swallowing system and heal them. That we know that all it takes is HIS touch, and Judah will be healed. And we know that our Jehovah Jireh, The Lord who provides, will provide us with the endurance, strength and patience we will need until we see God’s glory met through Judah’s supernatural healing.

Please join us in praying for supernatural healing of Judah’s:
-vocal chords
-swallowing mechanism
-tongue and mouth function
-frustration in not being able to do what he knows he should be able to

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prayers (and a happy birthday wish) granted

There are a few good updates today (and a happy birthday wish for Wendi!). The oncologist came by yesterday to confirm that as they suspected it is a grade 1 pilocytic astrocytoma, which means it’s slow growing and extremely unlikely to spread anywhere else. Basically, if you’re going to have a brain tumor that’s the best type to have. Praise Jesus!
We’re seeing improvements. Judah has moved his face muscles more today, moving his lips and tongue. I even got him to snarl at me when I was being particularly aggravating. He’s been pretty agitated all day, but who can blame him. I’d be pretty angry too. More eye movements and head motion. God bless Mumzy’s hearing loss because it’s enabled her to find ways of communicating with him that no one else had found. And he’ll actually make an effort at high fives and fist bumps with Uncle Josh when everyone else just gets grunts. He let the speech therapist read to him for 30 minutes and she had him turning the pages. Started off with angry swats but by the end he was turning them gently and deliberately.
The neuro Drs also said they could try “clamping” his EVD (brain drain as we affectionately call it) which means they are seeing if he can self-regulate his spinal fluid. If he does well they could take the EVD out in the near future with no need for a shunt.
Things are getting better. He’s still got a long road ahead (as do we) and there are a lot of unknowns that we may still have to face. Keep the prayers up, they’re working!

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waiting for significant change is hard

They prepared us for all of this. They told us he may lose his ability to talk or swallow or breath. I (wendi) was like the mom on the play ground who refuses to believe HER CHILD would ever hit another child. And now, here we are, 1 wk post-op and he is doing better but he isn’t better. He can’t/won’t talk. At first Matthew and I convinced ourselves it was his sore throat from the ventilator. Then is was all the sedation. Then his lack of natural sleep…Now, we don’t know. He can’t/won’t swallow. He will cough, clear his throat and then, instead of swallowing, he holds it in his mouth. We have to use the suction and clean it out. But he is breathing like a champ! The apnea seems to have gone away for now and that is a HUGE answer to prayer. So maybe 1 out of 3 ain’t too bad.
It seems bad though. I spent the evening here with him last night. I climbed in his bed (against PICU rules) and prayed to my God for healing. My child, who loves language and speech, and the art of pronunciation, will only, for now, communicate in grunts and swats. I prayed that God would give him back to us the way he was before the surgery. After all, He created him. That sweet little voice with big, big words was hand picked by our Savior for Judah. And I just want to hear it.
We spent yesterday afternoon pestering him by mispronouncing dinosaur names. Foolishly, I thought that if I irritated him enough he would just shake out of it and correct me.
They say it will take time. That he is improving slowly. That it may take a lot longer than we originally thought but “let’s give him the time”. Now they are talking about sending him home on a feeding tube. He isn’t showing any swallowing improvement. No talking improvement. What a thing to say in passing. Like it is of no real consequence how he goes home.
Judah is strong and strong-willed. Qualities both Matthew and I have. He will fight. He’s been in the PICU for over 2 wks now. His little spirit is so depressed. I refuse to believe that a broken spirit, feeding tubes and no communication, from the joyous, giggly, imaginative boy who LOVES to communicate, are part of God’s plan.
I finished my prayer last night begging God to do a glorious work in Judah. And restore his talking and swallowing. Do it fast. Cause, for no better reason than we are drowning, hope is harder to cling to, and this waiting for a significant change is so hard.

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real sleep please!

The PICU team decided to stop doing hourly cks 24/7 so for the first time in 2wks Judah will get to sleep for 4hrs straight! They did a ck at 8, he fell asleep around 8:30 and has been asleep solidly since. They will wake him at midnight for a brief neuro ck and give him more Tylenol and then he’ll get to sleep another 4 hrs in a row. I think this unsedated, natural sleep is what he really needs.

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slow day in the picu

Today has been a slow day. There have been no real improvements or setbacks. Judah has been a little more alert but still isn’t talking other than the occasional “noooo”. He will swat at you when he’s tired of you messing with him. But really only with his right hand. His left hand seems to be less active and fidgety.
The neuro team came by today and said they want to wait awhile until they put in the shunt. The Dr said they are not in a rush to take the drain out since he’s got a ways to go on the swallowing, coughing, and talking.
We are feeling pretty down about his slow recovery. Please pray for both patience for us and a speedier recovery for Judah.

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Low Grade Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma (jpa)

The oncologist came by this morning and told us that, while the full pathology won’t be back until Wednesday, they could say conclusively that it is low grade! That’s a great thing. It means it grows slowly if at all, has relatively no risk of spreading and responds well to chemotherapy. Another answered prayer.

Judah is doing ok today. He’s super tired and grumpy, but responding well to all the pokes and prods he’s subject to. The physical therapist came by for a while and even tried moving him from the bed to my lap in a rocking chair. He didn’t like that though and fussed and fought until we moved him back to the bed. The respiratory therapist came by with the Coughilator, which looks and acts a lot like a vacuum cleaner. It pushes air into his nose and mouth then sucks it back out kind if forcing him to cough. He didn’t like that either. Poor little guy just wants to sleep but they have to wake him up every hour for neuro checks.
Hoping he’ll be more alert tomorrow.

 

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this coming year will look, ummm, hard

We expected a relatively quiet day in which Judah would just be getting better but not much change or news would come our way, but no such luck.
First of all, we moved rooms again. No medical need for the move, just needed to shuffle some patients around for better nurse coverage.
Second we met with the oncologists about the chemo plan. We had previously discussed some of it in a hypothetical way so there weren’t any big revelations but it’s still scary. Since the tumor is low grade the chemo will be fairly low grade as well. He’ll be on it for a year, going in about once a week for treatment which takes a couple of hours. They’ll give him anti-nausea medication before the treatment to try and cut down on the side effects. He likely won’t lose all his hair but it may thin a little. He should still be able to go to pre-school in the fall. Because the medicines knock down the white and red blood cell counts he’ll be slightly more susceptible to colds and other infections and will tire out faster than he would normally. There’s an 85% chance that the year of chemo will stop the tumor from ever growing again. The scariest parts are the “possible but unlikely” side effects like liver damage, hearing loss, kidney damage, needing blood transfusions, etc. It’s also disheartening that the chemo won’t shrink or destroy the tumor that’s left in there, it only kills the parts that might still be growing. That means that any symptoms he currently has as a result of this tumor are likely permanent. We’ve yet to see him fully recovered from the surgery so we don’t know what symptoms may have been relieved by the surgery but the symptoms that could stick around are things like central sleep apnea, balance and coordination issues, troubles swallowing and managing secretions in the mouth and nose, and nystagmus/strabismus – a couple of eye related things he developed a few weeks before the diagnosis.
I (matthew) worry a lot about his spirit and his psyche through all this. He’s just gone through this major traumatic event, spent weeks tied to a hospital bed, days in pain and will soon start a treatment that will make him feel sick and tired for a solid year and there’s just no way he can understand all that. No way to help him grasp that things would have been much worse if we didn’t do all this. It’s just hard to feel like a parent at all when you’re powerless to protect your child or to help him understand things. Mentally I’ve always known that my job as a Christian parent was just to keep my kids alive and do my best to show them Jesus in my life. That at some point no matter what we did right or wrong the sin nature in them would break them like it does all of us and that brokenness would lead to (or, Lord forbid, away from) the Cross of Christ. I knew, in my head but maybe not completely in my heart, that ultimately my role in Judah’s life would have to be yielded up to the business God had with him. I just didn’t expect to so soon come to the point where I had to completely yield it. Where I’d be powerless to affect the direction, the quality or even the duration of Judah’s life.
The best I can do for Judah at this point is to keep praying that God be very close, very real, and very obviously present with Judah (and us) through this. That He keep protecting his mind and spirit, keep healing his body, keep showing the strength of His Mighty Hand through our family. And I can keep asking, begging even, all of you to pray likewise. And I’ll keep doing those things for the next year at least.
The last update is that the neuro docs are leaning towards putting in a vp shunt. That is essentially a permanent drain in his head that syphons off the excess spinal fluid when the pressure builds up and dumps it into his stomach. It sounds scarier that it is. It will be basically invisible, running under the skin of his scalp down the neck and into the body. It’s still another surgery and more recovery but it’d get him out of the ICU and ensure that he never has hydrocephalus problems down the road. So please pray for a clear direction on that.
Thank you all for your continued prayers. Judah is getting better. It’s just going to take a little time.

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