Sunday, May 2, 2010
Ruthie's pain level remains high. She has noticed incremental improvement in this area from week to week, although differences are hard to tell on a day-to-day basis. The process has been extremely slow and, as a result, the pain is a continual struggle.
She also has had to be completely dependant on others for just about everything. The doctors have told her to not lift anything over 5 pounds, so she is extremely limited in what she is able to do for herself. Although it has been humbling to have to receive from and depend on others so much (and she is SO grateful for all of the help), it has been hard to have to have someone always there to do the smallest of tasks for her.
That being said, she has remarked again and again how blown away she has been by her precious husband Will and how he continues to serve her with such grace and love. He never hestitates to do anything that is needed, even if it is in the middle of the night, and never NEVER complains. He continually puts the needs of Ruthie above his own and has exhibited such a compassionate and servant heart towards her. She is so deeply thankful for this amazing husband of hers!
Some things that have been happening in the last couple of weeks:
*Will's mom came to help out for a week and, from what it sounds like, she was a rock star. She organized and cleaned their ENTIRE house (cleaned out closets and pantry, cleaned silver, etc) and did all of this without even being asked. Having been over at Ruthie's after Will's mom left, I can attest to the fact that the house looked absolutely beautiful. And if you know Ruthie, you know that having a clean and organized home is (in her words), her "love language." :)
*Ruthie's mom was also in town from Monday-Friday of this past week. It was wonderful having her there to help out, especially so Will could get out and do some of things he needed to do, knowing that Ruthie would be well cared for in his absence. Ruthie's mom helped keep the house clean and, in addition, took little Ellie on tons of walks. Ellie was quite sad to say goodbye to Marsha!
*Ruthie has been so incredibly thankful for her community of friends in Nashville. People have been providing meals for Ruthie and Will every other day. It has been wonderful to have one more thing to take off of Will's plate, and Ruthie has absolutely loved visiting with the people who have been stopping by. She also has so greatly appreciated the flowers and messages from numerous people who continue to speak encouragement and love into Ruthie's life. Being in Nashville - and in the comfort and peacefulness of her beautiful home - has been a tremendous blessing for her.
*When the weather has been nice, Ruthie has been getting out and walking in her neighborhood. She is walking a little bit further every day, and she has been encouraged by how well that aspect of her recovery has been going.
*Precious Ellie hasn't left Ruthie's side. She has watched over Ruthie throughout the past few weeks with the sweetest love for her. It is quite evident that Ruthie and her little furball have a very special bond.
*Will's 28th birthday is tomorrow (Monday, May 3)! Ruthie is really looking forward to celebrating Will and making it a very special day for him. :)
-for Ruthie's pain level. Pray that there would be continued improvement and that the healing process would be more noticeable on a day to day basis.
-for Ruthie's spirits. It's been difficult for her to not only be so dependant on everyone, but also to feel so unproductive day in and day out. Because she is so limited in what she can do, she has not had a creative outlet to utilize her amazing gifts in the way that she has been used to. Pray that God would work through this time she needs to take to heal to provide encouragement in place of discouragement and that her mind and creativity would be challenged in a way that she is not expecting.
Also, please offer thanks for the abundance of support and love Ruthie is constantly surrounded by, for her ability to walk more and more every week, and for no unexpected complications thus far in her recovery process!
And endless thanks to each of you for loving Ruthie and Will so well!
(Happy birthday, Will!)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I'll briefly catch you up on what's been happening since the last blog post yesterday morning. Ruthie was finally discharged from the hospital midday and she and Will walked (yes, walked!) to their hotel across the street from the hospital. About an hour later, they noticed blood coming out through her neck brace onto the hotel pillows and sheets. Needless to say, Ruthie got a bit freaked out and a call was put in to their doctors at Mayo. The bleeding persisted, and, in order to find out what exactly was causing it, the doctor actually came over to their hotel room to check it out. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing serious. The doctor believes that Ruthie either had a blister near her incision that popped or that the incision was rubbed a certain way to cause the bleeding. He doctor ended up putting 4 strips of tape across the incision to help it stay closed as much as possible (he didn't want to put a bandage over the whole incision so that it could air out and heal more effectively). The bleeding has continued somewhat, even tonight.
This morning, their friend Kelly picked them up from the hotel and drove them to Minneapolis which is about 1 hour away. From there, they got on a 2 hour flight to take them back to Nashville. The travel was pretty rough on Ruthie in terms of pain and discomfort. They were stuck in the back of a small plane with little room to move around...and to top it off, they were right next to the bathroom. Thankfully, the flight was nonstop and, in spite of the negative aspects of the travel, Ruthie was extremely excited to be coming home.
One of Ruthie's best friends, Leslie, picked them up at the airport with precious Ellie in the car (see previous post with photo of Ellie to see exactly how precious). What a perfect way to welcome them back! Leslie then drove them home and Ruthie was thrilled to walk into a house that had been freshly cleaned, spruced up, and decorated with flowers by some of Ruthie's girlfriends the night before. Ruthie expressed that she was so thankful for that...Lauren and Megan, thank you for spearheading that effort!
Ruthie is now resting at home and obviously just beginning to readjust to life here again. She is so happy to be able to be outside again after developing cabin fever in the hospital day after day. She is happy to be around her community and to be in her own bed with her sweet puppy and comforting home. She is going to try to walk a little more each day, especially if the weather continues to be as glorious as it has been. She will be wearing her neck brace for the next 3 months and is not supposed to be lifting more than 5 pounds for a while. When the 3 month period is up, she will get x-rays done and sent back up to Mayo. At that point, the doctors will decide whether or not to begin transitioning her out of the brace. If they decide to transition her out of the brace, she will at first take it off for 1 hour a day for a week, then 2 hours a day for the next week, and so on. So that process will be extremely gradual and slow, but will ensure that Ruthie's body is effectively building its strength along the way.
Ruthie and Will are excited to see people and are welcoming visitors! However, they requested that everyone send a text ahead of time to either of them just to make sure that Ruthie isn't sleeping and that it's a good time to stop by. They will be honest about whether it is or not.
Some prayers that Ruthie wanted me to pass along:
*Please pray that the bleeding would stop. Since the doctors want the incision to air out, this is especially difficult when Ruthie has to go places and is unable to cover it up.
*Ruthie's pain level is still pretty high, or "severe" as Ruthie called it. Please pray that with Ruthie now resting at home and not traveling, that the pain would lessen with each day.
*Pray against any infections or other things that would hinder the recovery process.
*Tomorrow (Thursday) is the 1 year anniversary of the passing of Ruthie's dad, Lloyd Lindsey. This is going to be an emotionally difficult day for her, and she is somewhat dreading it. Ruthie was extremely close with her daddy (hence the title of her blog) and she misses him dearly...the loss of him in her life is an ache that never ever goes away. Ruthie shared that even though her heart was breaking that her daddy couldn't be with her while she was going through the surgery and in the hospital this last week, she was so thankful that he didn't have to see her in this much pain. She said that it absolutely tore him up to see her like that. The last time Ruthie was in the hospital, there were times he had to leave the room because he became overwhelmed seeing her hurt so much. He loved his little girl to pieces.
Ruthie said that her mom recently received an email from a friend expressing that even though this particular date each year will bring mourning and sadness, it will now, with Ruthie's successful surgery, be an opportunity to celebrate new life and redemption and renewal. What a beautiful perspective. Pray that Ruthie would cling to that.
Even though tomorrow may be filled with many tears, pray that God would give her hope through those tears, that the sadness would not turn to despair, and that she would be comforted knowing that she is radically loved by One who understands her pain and enters into her suffering with her...all the while pointing her to a greater hope that someday everything sad will come untrue.
How we long for that day.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Praise God for the progress that Ruthie has made and for giving her body the strength it needs to move into this next phase! We are excited to have Ruthie and Will back home again!
And a big THANK YOU to all of you who have been praying each day along the way. God hears the prayers of His children and He has so mercifully answered.
Please pray that the travel home would be comfortable for Ruthie, that her mobility would increase with each passing day, and that God would continue to give Will and Ruthie daily encouragement.
Finally, please pray specifically this week for Ruthie and her family as the 1 year anniversary of losing her precious daddy is on Thursday, April 15. May God meet them powerfully and bring them great hope in the midst of their grief.
Monday, April 12, 2010
The doctors checked Ruthie's dressings today and they have been dry. They clamped the lumbar drain this morning in order to monitor for fluid leakage for the following 8 hours. Considering the dressings continue to remain dry, the drain will be removed in the morning. At that point, Ruthie will no longer have anything hooked up to her. The doctors have slowly transitioned her pain medication to oral medication which she takes every 3 hours.
Ruthie also has been more rested. After the doctor came in today for the morning rounds (which Will said was "very early"), Ruthie was able to fall back asleep. And Will got in a good nap this afternoon. Thank you for praying so faithfully for more rest for them both!
If there is no leakage and the drain comes out in the morning, it is possible that Ruthie will be discharged from Mayo either tomorrow or the next day! I will continue to update you all on those developments as they unfold.
Ruthie posted the following message on Facebook today this afternoon: "Just wanted to thank everyone so much for all the prayers! I am doing so much better - I have felt so much love, support, and comfort from all of your sweet messages, prayers and encouraging words! I feel so thankful to have such incredible support! So humbling!!!"
*that the drain will be removed tomorrow and that Ruthie will be discharged soon afterwards. They are ready to be home and to focus on the rest of her recovery!
*that the final cost of total hospital bill will be kept low. Every day at Mayo adds to the overall cost, so please pray that it would fall within Ruthie and Will's means. God is a provider, so let's pray faithfully for all of their financial needs to be met!
*that God would prepare Ruthie and Will's hearts for the next stage of recovery and their transition home, whenever that may be.
Praise God for the "uneventful" past few days!!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
*Ruthie had a decent night of sleep last night (about 5 hours or so) and has been able to nap off and on today a bit.
*She walked a couple of times and was planning on trying another walk again tonight.
*Her dressing has been dry when they've changed it today, indicating that the lumbar drain has been effective (it will stay in until Monday night).
*Her overall pain level throughout the day has been between 7 and 8.
*The doctor tested for clonus (see previous post from Thursday) on Ruthie's left side again today and couldn't detect it AT ALL. He said the he wasn't expecting this at all! This is a great sign of improvement. This doesn't necessarily mean that Ruthie will not experience pain in the future, but Will did remark that it could mean that certain aspects of her pain (for example, the burning sensation she has experienced in the past) may no longer be an issue.
These are all things to be incredibly thankful for. One of Ruthie's best friends, Katie, sent an email out this morning to a group of Ruthie's friends exhorting us to pray for specific encouragement for Ruthie today. I can't speak for Ruthie, but it sounds like this kind of day was an answer to those prayers and exactly what was needed...more restful and steady, hopeful rather than fearful, like the calm following a storm. Let's keep praying for more days like this and for Ruthie to be filled with hope and a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Today, the funeral for Libby's dad, Aylmer, took place in Louisiana. Apparently 2200 people showed up at his wake last night. Sounds like he was a man cherished and loved by many. Please remember Libby and her family in your prayers. May they feel the arms of God holding them tightly.
Friday, April 9, 2010
One highlight of the evening: Ruthie and Will were able to ichat with their sweet friends who are taking care of their adorable dog, Ellie. Ellie is definitely good medicine for the soul, so I hope that it lifted their spirits a bit to see their precious girl. Here she is...see what I mean??
There are many names by which God is known. Restorer. Healer. Comforter. Lifter of our Heads. Redeemer of broken things. Pray that Ruthie and Will would experience Him powerfully as such in these next days.
Will said the doctors decided to take Ruthie to another room so that they could use a camera to help them insert the lumbar drain more accurately. Please pray that it works so that another surgery doesn't become necessary. Apparently there has been a lot of fluid leakage (Will wasn't sure if all of it has been spinal fluid) seeping out through the incision today.
One promising thing to report is that Ruthie described her pain as an "ache" today...so while the pain is still there, it sounds a bit more moderated. I think the doctors have continued to make adjustments with her medication and provide more comfort for her.
Will passed along several prayers requests:
*Pray that the lumbar drain works and that they will be able to drain the fluid out without another surgery
*Pray that they can get everything (pain, fluid, etc.) under control and more stabilized day to day so that they can begin to plan to go home
*Pray for rest. Even though Ruthie got a little more sleep last night, it still was probably only about 3 hours. And Will needs some good sleep as well.
Hopefully will know more soon about whether the attempt to insert the drain has been successful.
Hey guys- please pray for me- they found lots of spinal fluid leaking out from where they removed the wire- going to have another tube put into my lower back soon in another procedure- I'm so scared and anxious- please pray! Thank you!
The procedure to insert the drain - called a lumbar drain - has been scheduled for 2:00 pm. Ruthie will be returning to her room around 4:00/4:30pm. The current plan is to transfer her to a room in the neurosurgery wing of the hospital instead of ICU.
Thank you for praying!
The neurosurgeon just met with Will and Ruthie and told them that the leakage that was found on her dressing is definitely spinal fluid. He can tell by just looking at it. They are trying to avoid having to operate again, so they are going to insert a 72 hour drain in her mid to lower back and will be monitoring the drainage very, very closely. Ruthie likely will be moved back into ICU at some point today as a result. Will said that Ruthie is pretty scared.
Please PRAY today that the leakage will stop without having to operate, that God would grant the doctors wisdom in how to proceed, that any potential pain would be minimized, and that God would give Ruthie and Will peace in place of anxiety, hope in place of fear, and an unwavering assurance of His love and care for them. Let's be on our knees, friends.
I will keep you updated on further developments.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Got a full report of the day from Will earlier this evening. I know that many of you are continuing in steadfast prayer for Ruthie, so I always want to pass along specific things to be praying for with each update. There is some good news to pass along as well as specific ways we can continue to ask for healing.
There was a lot that happened today. Ruthie was taken down for x-rays this morning and had to be moved around a lot in the process. Because of that, her pain level was heightened again. This continues to be the pressing issue that is keeping Ruthie from really getting some good rest. Will commented that she didn't sleep much at all last night due because of the level of pain and discomfort. However, the good news is that at one point today, Ruthie's pain level was down to a 7.5...the lowest it has been so far. So even though the pain throughout the day has extremely pointed moments, it is dipping into a lower range at times as well. It's encouraging to hear about some movement in that direction. Dr. Morrie (sp?) has been attending to Ruthie for the day-to-day issues this week and has been trying, along with the nurses, to adjust the pain medication to find the most comfortable fit. Although the pain remains elevated most of the time, Will said tonight they have hope in the knowledge that the pain is only temporary. Unfortunately, dealing with pain is something Ruthie has done daily for several years now. But we sure would love to see more and more of the edge taken off and for her to get more hours of sleep during the night.
Ruthie's blood level was also much lower than normal today and had to get 2 pints of blood through a transfusion this morning. Will mentioned that this was something that happened as a result of the surgery (not sure of the exact details with this), but the doctors now feel that her levels are back to normal. The procedure took a couple of hours and Will feels that Ruthie will have more energy and feel better tomorrow as a result of it.
Now for some really good news! Today Ruthie walked to the nurses' station (which is a good 30-40 foot distance from her bed) and back. And she also sat up in a chair for about 45 minutes tonight and ate her dinner. She continues to make gains each day with what she is accomplishing!
They also took off her neck brace at some point today and changed her dressing and monitored for spinal fluid leakage (of which there was none). Will said that he was able to see the incision while they were doing this and that the new incision had been made right over the incision from Ruthie's previous surgery. They also used surgical glue instead of staples to close the incision up, so there is a clear sheen over it instead of ugly old pieces of metal. Sounded impressive.
Finally, Will said that the most encouraging moment today was when the doctor tested Ruthie for something called "clonus." According to my limited internet research on the topic, clonus refers to "repetitive, rhythmic contractions/tremors of a muscle when attempting to hold it in a stretched state. It is a strong, deep tendon reflex that occurs when the central nervous system fails to inhibit it. Clonus is initiated in the spinal cord and is usually a sign of damage and spinal cord injury."
In other words, clonus is a condition that people often exhibit when there has been spinal cord damage. To gauge the severity of the damage, doctors perform a physical test with a person's arms and legs to see if they exhibit these tremors. A higher number of muscle tremors indicates more extensive spinal cord damage, so the tremor count is used as a gauge for what kind of shape someone is in. In past tests, Ruthie has always exhibited clonus on her left side, giving the doctors clear indication that there was spinal cord damage of some degree. Today, however, the doctors reported that her clonus is significantly better! This is a REALLY positive sign because it gives a strong indication that her spinal cord damage is not necessarily permanent and irreversible. Although it is still to soon to say exactly what improvements may follow, what amazing news to hear today! God continues to give hope.
Prayers for tonight and tomorrow:
Pray, pray, pray for Ruthie's elevated pain levels to subside. It would be wonderful for her body to get more rest and for her to have more peace of mind.
Pray for continued daily encouragement for Ruthie and strength for Will and Marsha as they continue to support one another
Pray for there to be more strides made with each passing day.
There is still no clear indication on when exactly Ruthie will be leaving Mayo as the pain really needs to be brought under control before moving forward. We will keep you updated if anything develops on that end.
Thanks again for following this blog and for keeping this precious family in your thoughts and prayers!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Ruthie is now out of ICU and in her own private room! She will be equipped with high speed wireless internet access and hopefully will be able to read all the wonderful comments and encouraging messages so many people have been sending her way. She is currently in a considerable amount of pain (some of that from being transferred), so keep praying for comfort and rest for her body.
I will be posting a couple of photos soon...one is of the wire that was removed from her neck and the other is a scan of the fusion that was done between the C1 and C3 vertebrae in her neck. Stay tuned.
**if anyone is interested in knowing where to send cards, etc. until she leaves this weekend (hopefully!), please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for room information.
Ruthie's sister in law, Libby Rainwater Lindsey, found out this morning that her father, Aylmer Rainwater (of Ruston, La.), passed away this morning on his way to work, when he had a heart attack in his car. (This news comes less than a year after Lile and Ruthie's father, Lloyd Lindsey, passed away.)
Lile found out about Aylmer's death this morning, while sitting in Ruthie's room. Please pray for Alymer's wife Virginia, Libby and Lile (Ruthie's brother), and their families. Also pray for delay-free travel today, as Lile flies home to be with Libby and her family.
Will said the main concern with Ruthie is pain management. Trying to get her pain under control is a delicate process, and since she's been on pain medicine for years, her tolerance is high.
This morning she sat up in bed, which was very painful (and caused an intense headache), and ate jello, but she needs to keep sitting up and rolling on her side because, as Dr Courier told Will this morning, it's healing for her to move. Dr Courier hopes to have Ruthie walking by the end of the day, so they can transfer from the ICU to a regular room.
Ruthie has a bit of spinal fluid leakage, which they're keeping an eye on, but Will said the doctors aren't too concerned.
Will got a few hours of sleep and sounds more rested today on the phone, but he's saddened by Alymer's death and asked for everyone to pray for Lile, Libby and Virginia.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Will did comment that Ruthie is in a lot of pain, however, and that the pain will probably continue to be heightened throughout the night and tomorrow. The doctors have increased her medications to make her more comfortable and to take a bit of the edge off; this has also made her pretty drowsy tonight, so hopefully this will enable her to rest and get some solid sleep.
It seems as though she may be moved out of ICU sometime tomorrow afternoon and into a "regular" room in a different section of the hospital. The doctors will continue to keep a close eye on her to monitor potential infections/spinal fluid leakage. Will keep you posted as that develops.
Will said the doctors gave them the wire that was removed from her neck and that he couldn't believe how BIG it is...he described it as a thick cable with several wires twisted together and not at all like the skinnier wire he had pictured in his mind. How wonderful that it is finally out of her and that her body can begin to heal and strengthen again!
Ruthie's brothers and aunt will be heading back home in the morning. Will and Ruthie's mom will be with her until she leaves Mayo, which Will thinks may be Saturday or Sunday. What a gift that she has been surrounded by a precious family today who love and treasure her so deeply.
Some other things to be so thankful for:
*Ruthie will NOT be needing a halo to stabilize her neck and instead is in a neck brace. This had been something she had requested specific prayer for (see earlier blog post), so we are grateful that this prayer has so graciously been answered!
*The nurse who has been with Ruthie today used to live in East Nashville with her husband and knew the exact area where Will and Ruthie live. Just another example of how God continues to provide comfort and a sense of "home" in the smallest of ways to Ruthie and Will while they are at Mayo.
Some things to keep praying for...
*That the intensity of Ruthie's pain would be alleviated
*That she would be protected against infection or any other type of complication
*That Will, Marsha (Ruthie's mom), Tim and Lile (Ruthie's brothers), and Aunt Raven would all get a good night's sleep and be refreshed again in the morning. Pray for safe travel for those who will be leaving tomorrow. They have been incredible warriors for Ruthie!
*That the rest of Ruthie's recovery would go as smoothly as today's procedure did.
Thanks again for checking in to read the updates on sweet Ruthie...I know she feels so incredibly loved and encouraged by all of you, and that so many of us have also been loved well by her.
Wonderful news! The wire has successfully and completely been removed! No word yet on what exactly had to be done to get it all out, but from what Will shared, it sounded like there were few complications. This is a fabulous update as this was a very tricky part of the surgery. Ruthie has been doing well throughout the process. Next, they will begin removing some bone from her hip to begin the fusion. Keep praying!!
This is Caroline, and I'm one of Ruthie's friends who will be updating the blog (along with Katherine) as I hear from Will. Ruthie went into surgery about 7.45 am this morning, and the first part of the operation to remove the wire started at 9.46 am. The doctors will update Will every 2 hours on the progress, so he should know more around 10.30 am. The surgery will last between 5 and 6 hours, and Will will be able to see Ruthie around 4-5 pm this afternoon.
Will said Ruthie was scared but strong this morning, as she went into the operating room, and it sounds as though the staff at the Mayo clinic is caring for them both very well.
Will said their biggest prayer right now is that there would be no spinal fluid leakage. (Ruthie will be in the ICU overnight, so they can keep an eye on this.)
We should have another update for everyone in a few hours...
Caroline & Katherine
If anyone in Nashville is interested in prayer for Ruthie and Will, there is a group meeting today (April 6) at Sevier Park near the parking lot at 12th and Kirkwood until at least 1 pm. Parents, bring your kids, and they can play at the park. Musicians, bring your instruments.
To donate to Ruthie's medical costs, visit this link, where a fund has been set up by Ruthie's hometown bank in St. Francisville, LA: http://www.bsf.net/ (The link is at the bottom left of the page.)