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Lea and I headed for Monticello, Illinois for Labor Day weekend, spending a few days with Pat & Joe Stroup and his family at their annual family reunion. It is always a nice time, and it was delightful to see that Lea felt well enough (finally) to go away for the weekend. She even baked her famous peach cobbler! We’ll have more news and video early next week.

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Lea continues to regain her strength as I sit down to write a few lines. She has persisted in trying to back off on the narcotic pain medication she has been taking since her most recent surgery, and, thankfully, has reduced to two doses per day from the eight daily doses she needed right after the procedure six weeks ago.

She still is wearing the full length leg brace, from hip to ankle, which is very hot in this Midwest summer heat. Combined with the abdominal binder she has to wear practically 24×7, she is usually uncomfortably hot, indeed. Necessarily, we spend most of our time indoors where she can get some relief from the heat.

She has felt well enough to do some cooking this past week, which quickly wears her out, but is still good therapy for her, since cooking has always been one of her favorite activities. Being able to stand long enough to prepare a meal uplifts her spirits tremendously, and she keeps walking off and forgetting her cane in the kitchen.

Her physical therapy sessions have been going well, with good progress being made in the mobility of her new knee, and endurance of her hip. The knee, however, continues to have excessive side-to-side movement, which causes her imbalance when walking. Hence, the full leg brace. We go back to the surgeon September 6 to get an evaluation on how she is doing, and my concern is that he may have to put her in a full leg cast for several weeks if the knee doesn’t stablize enough with the present course of treatment. That will certainly hinder any comfortable traveling we might do.

We are planning a trip to Texas in mid-September, to consider relocating there near our youngest son and family. We will also be visiting an internal specialist while we are there, to see if we feel comfortable considering trusting her complicated medical condition to his care. We have been SO fortunate to have Dr Miller tending to our needs here, that it is going to be difficult to find anyone to fill his shoes. If I can’t find acceptable care for her, however, I am not inclined to move her out of our present comfort zone.

I have previously closed my private consulting practice and will now be taking a leave-of-absence from DBM for a few weeks until we decide what steps we might take in the next few months. We feel that we are being led to make this move, but, I have to make sure we are moving for the right reasons, and into the right conditions. We have come too far since Lea’s traumatic escapes from death to take unnecessary chances at this point.

We welcome your prayers for His guidance in making this decision, and thank you for the many kind, encouraging, well wishes we receive.  Your your thoughtfulness is not lessened by distance, nor your kindnesses diminished by time. God bless!

The little video below was shot while on a shopping outing to a spice shop in Indy. Our friend Pat sits on the bench with Lea at the front of the store.

Lea went to the knee surgeon today for a follow-up after her surgery, and while he was quite pleased that she has acquired very good flexibility in bending and straightening her knee, he was quite unhappy at the extensive side-to-side motion that remains. He fitted her for a more aggressive brace that, hopefully, will speed the healing of the tendon that holds the knee in place. That tendon had been stretched way out of shape during the collapse of her knee over the past several years. Lea tells of the news in the video clip below.

Lea and I were blessed with a good weekend, as she finally felt well enough to get out and enjoy several activities Saturday and Sunday. We enjoyed breakfast together Saturday morning, and as I cleaned up the kitchen she got ready to go out for the day. She told me she wanted to go to mom’s church’s car wash, have a light lunch, and then go to the church’s ice cream social. We started the morning by going to the Farmer’s Market. Here’s a video recap of our activities.

We went to physical therapy Monday morning, and by Monday evening her knee was pretty sore and a little swollen, but all in all, she is feeling good about all she is now able to do. She continues to cut back on her medicine, and we are hoping for a lot of improvement in stability of her knee iover the next few weeks.

Thanks to God for the wonderful continuous healing He has granted us! We praise Him for His mercy and grace, and continue to pray for His guidance in leading us to do His will.

Priase God for His mercy and blessings! We were able to have a fun day! Lea and I treated my mother to breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants, and then went to a nail salon to have manicures and pedicures. The girls had a good time, and mom got the giggles. It was good for them, and I captured some of the activities on camera.  

The Bell
I KNOW WHO I AM
I am God’s child ( John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I  am a personal witness of Christ  (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt. 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation  (Rom.8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant  (Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit   (Eph 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms  (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom.8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God  (2 Cor. 1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good ( Rom. 8: 28)
I  have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit ( John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil.4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3: 16).  I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1).  I am God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14).  I have been adopted as God’s child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God

 

I didn’t write this, and don’t know to whom to give credit, but wanted to share the blessing of the bell with you.

Lea went to her first physical therapy session today, and was quite pleased with the progress she had made over the weekend. She used some exercises the therapist recommended last week, and made improvement in two vital areas; she is able to bend her knee an additional couple of degrees, and she is able to get her knee nearly straight.

The tests today indicate that she is able to bend the knee one hundred seven degrees (one hundred ten is the minimum goal), and she is only four degrees shy of being able to straighten her knee. Both of these measurements are without any kind of assistance other than her own muscle power.

Her knee still is not completely straight on the sides. It tilts in toward the left leg, which is caused by the weak tendons on the inside of her knee. Hopefully, as she goes through therapy that will straighten up and return to a normal position. Meanwhile, she is not to walk without her cane, and must wear good street shoes all the time . . . no house shoes or slippers. The good quality shoes are needed for the support they provide.

Our next therapy session will be next Friday, with home exercises to be done twice a day between sessions. We pray to the Lord several times every day giving Him praise for the wonderful healing we are experiencing.

Below is a short video of Lea at therapy today, as she walks into the exercise area, and it closes with a shot of her working that knee on an exercise machine.

Lea woke up feeling better than she has since her surgery, so she felt like taking a road trip to test her ability to travel. One of her brothers lives about an hour and a half drive away in Bippus, Indiana. I grabbed the digital camera and captured some short video clips to document our trip.

We had a great visit, though short, and several of our relatives from that area stopped in as well. She felt good throughout the day, travelled without any problems, and went to bed immediately upon arriving back home. Below is a short video log of her day.

Lea and I went to Riverview Hospital’s outpatient physical therapy center today for Lea’s initial evaluation, and got her scheduled for two sessions a week for the next four weeks. She will probably need an additional two to four weeks of therapy, which will be determined at the end of this first two weeks. The therapist had been very thoroughly briefed by Dr Cittadine, who told her that he wanted Lea treated with special attention, due to her many complicating factors, not the least of which is that her bones are very soft.

She was given a number of exercises to do regularly each day in order to further limber her new knee and keep it from attaching to the surrounding tissue. She will then go to see the therapist twice a week, starting Monday, so her progress can be closely monitored. I think she is happy to finally be in therapy where she can get some feedback on how she is doing and what she needs to do to get back to normal.

The good news for her was the comment that over the next couple of months she will be strengthening her muscle mass around the knee, and that is going to let her eventually get rid of the cane, and walk normally. That will be a tremendous blessing!

Below is a short video of Lea doing some grocery shopping just before going to the therapy session. She is dressed to go to physical therapy for evaluation, with white anti-embolism hose, a black knee brace on her right leg, and black workout shorts. Quite the dresser, huh?   🙂  Glory to God she’s here at all!

It has been a long and arduous two weeks since Lea had her knee surgery, but she finally felt well enough to attend church this morning! We have been struggling with the dizzying nausea and endless pain-induced fatigue she has been experiencing, and are now beginning to see a lot of improvement in that area.

The changes Dr Miller made in her medications are having positive affects, in that she got over the dizziness and nausea within a couple of days, and was feeling pretty well when we went to see Dr Cittadine to have the staples and stitches removed from her knee late Thursday afternoon.

While examining her knee, however, Dr Cittadine agreed that the side-to-side movement in her artificial knee is excessive and is dangerous for her to walk with. Because her leg was so badly collapsed at the knee, he had to stretch the tendons and muscles on the outside of her leg, and surgically reposition her knee cap, resulting in an extra 2 1/2 hours of surgery.

However, since the tendons and muscles on the inside of the knee were quite stretched where her leg bowed in, they are not providing any support for the knee at all. In effect, her leg is attempting to return to the shape it had prior to the surgery. This requires that she focus intently on how she holds her knee when walking, and it still will suddenly pop to one side or the other without notice. This makes the knee very unstable, and makes her apprehensive about walking.

Dr Cittadine fitted her with a brace that will help keep the knee aligned as the healing process continues, which will help create muscle and tendons that will provide a healthy and stable environment for the knee in the future. Meanwhile, he prescribed four weeks of physical therapy for her, beginning next week. It is likely that she will have to wear the brace 24 x 7 for the next four to six weeks until the healing is complete, and those muscles on the sides tighten up.

On the other hand, the doctor was quite pleased that she has worked on her knee flexes enough that she is ahead of schedule. She can already bend her knee over 100 degrees, and her drop foot has improved as a result. Now, she needs to continue working on getting her knee completely flat when lying down while holding her toes up. She is getting close to overcoming the effects of the dropfoot, but still needs more stretching exercise.

We have finally reached the point where the pain level is sufficiently and consistently controlled by the medication, and she is experiencing only relatively short periods of pain, usually after walking. I am still giving her doses every three hours, including during the night, and am hoping she can start backing off those nighttime doses soon, so we can rest through the night.

We have not been able to get out of the house nearly as much as we had hoped, because of the instability of the knee. The flexing side to side keeps the knee sore, and much of the area operated on was on the outside of the knee, so it gets irritated every time the knee pops to that side. It is strange to watch her walk, since her leg currently bends, to some extent, in all four directions.

We accepted an invitation Thursday night to have dinner with our friends Pat & Joe. He advised that he is now pursuing a heart transplant, and that he will be undergoing many physical, psychological and financial evaluations within the next few months to prepare him for a transplant operation. His heart is not going to get any better, and a transplant is his best bet for returning to a normal life. Please keep Joe in your prayers.

Lea thought she was feeling well enough to take over cooking a couple of the meals Friday, and hobbled around in the kitchen for a large part of the afternoon. I was glad that I wasn’t going to have to cook all the meals for a change, but knew that she would push herself too far, so, I stayed pretty close.  We had hoped to get out to the Farmer’s Market this past Saturday morning, but Lea wasn’t feeling well enough to venture out after all the cooking on Friday. In fact, we spent most of the morning putting ice packs on her knee until we got her pain under control.

We received some lovely white roses from Lance early in the week, and she arranged them in an antique pitcher for our living room. Teri and Madalynn, our neighbors, brought her a giant sunflower from their garden, too. I had to snap a shot of her standing beside it, so you could get an idea of how big it was! And, too, here’s a shot of her brace pulled up over her anti-embolism hose, which she will have to wear for about another month.

Thanks for your prayers and kindnesses! Praise God for the continued healing He has provided, and for the opportunities He gives us to share our testimony!

lance-flowers.jpg sunny-flower.jpg knee-brace.jpg

ABOUT HARTFORD LETTERS

Experience the Miraculous Healing and Recovery of Lea Vaughn, and the incredible spiritual journey of her husband during 180 days in Hartford Hospital. Read his original daily emails in "Hartford Letters" above. ____________________________

In “Prayer,” above:

For Dave
Praise: Lea
For Bill and Jane
For Megan
For Charlotte
For Marnita
Praise: Gary
Praise: fellowship
For Herb
Praise: Joe
For Lea
For Unnamed

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