...that's how many page views Joanne's blog has gotten in the last month. Yes, it has been exactly one month since Joanne's stroke. And for whatever reason thousands have been coming to her blog to find out how she is doing. I am overwhelmed at the response, and I know Joanne is too. I have been kidding her that over her three years of blogging she had about a quarter of a million page views, and since I started to write her blog we've gotten almost a million more. I say to her, "Hmmm...who's the better blogger here?" Of course she is the better blogger by a long shot but it's fun to hassle her about it. I have also been very direct with her that there are a lot better ways to get blog traffic then to have a stroke.
We've been at this now for one month and something strange has happened--let me try to explain: I used to play a lot of golf, and after each round, I had total recall of every shot that I made during the round--yardages, club selection, wind direct, score, etc. We could sit down over a Coke and I could lay it all out in excruciating detail. Strange as it may seem, I have the same recall about this past month.
I remember exactly where I was when I got the call for Audrey that Joanne was in trouble. I remember the 911 call, I remember turning around and driving at high speed to the hospital. I remember the frantic phone calls on the way. I remember the parking place I parked in at the emergency room. I remember Jordanna (one of the chaplains) meeting me and taking me back to see Joanne. I remember Joanne asking for her mom and clinging to my hand. I could go on and on from there. I remember all of it, like it is cemented in my memory. I have heard people say things like, "It's all been a blur." But to me it is a series of images in which I can recall every detail exactly in place for the last four weeks.
If I am honest, there are memories I wish I could be rid of. There are things I saw and conversations I had with doctors that I wish had never happened--obviously I wish none of this had ever happened, but there are a few moments in particular that I think will stick with me until the end of my days. They are moments shared with only the ones closest to me, and each of us will remember them in our own way, will process them and try to come to terms with them. I am sure that over time, the trauma of it will fade--thank God that time does that. But I think it will be a while before the press of all of this lifts. Doesn't mean I am a train wreck, just that I feel a haunted by some of it, that I can feel the weight of it still.
But I can also tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has provided a peace that passes understanding. Sometimes I think some people expect me to be a train wreck and that somehow I must be really stuffing it all in order to keep it together for Joanne and the girls and the family. But that's not the case. Yes, I have struggled with anxiety, fear, doubt, shock and exhaustion. I have cried, I have felt tightness in my chest like I can't breath, I have felt like I am outside my body looking in at a situation that is so bad that it can't possibly be real. But there is a peace there too and I know that it can only be coming from one place, because I know for a fact that I would be that train wreck without my relationship with Jesus.
A dear friend of mine when through an equally difficult time over a year ago and I remember him saying that it was so bad, he probably wouldn't have lived through it if it weren't for his faith. Now I know exactly what he means. The pain is too much to bear without faith. Simple as that. I feel like I could go into full-on sermon mode here but I'll leave it at that for now.
Today: there is so much to be thankful for! Joanne is improving day by day. Two weeks ago she was in a coma and today she took a spoon full of ice chips in her right hand, put it in her mouth, chewed it up and swallowed. Today she held her head up on her own for a while. Today she and I thumb wrestled (I won). Today she turned her head towards her mom's voice. Today she waved and smiled at a friend. Today she is a miracle.
She will probably be in LTAC for at least two more weeks then will head into a rehab hospital. She is already working so hard, to the point of her own exhaustion, with the therapy that she is doing here. But it will be exponentially greater as she moves to rehab. In ICU she was doing 20 minutes of therapy a day. In LTAC she has been doing about an hour between PT, OT, and speech. At rehab she will do a minimum of 3 hours a day and will work her way up from there. She is already working hard and will be working like she never has before. And for those of you who know Joanne, you know what that means. The girl is gonna do work!
I could go on and on with this post. But let me just wrap it up with thanksgiving:
- Thanks to thousands upon thousands who are praying all over the world. The Lord hears the prayers of his people and the prayers for Joanne have been a sweet aroma to him. He has heard and he is moving!
- Thanks to all those who have provided support in so many ways from financial help to meals to words of encouragement. Between Joanne and I we have received over 3000 encouraging emails (I hacked Joanne's account), countless calls, texts, tweets, FB posts, etc. All the support is truly overwhelming and humbling.
- Thanks to the hospital staffs, nurses, doctors, techs, and therapists that are helping Joanne get better. We have been blessed with some amazing folks whose care for Joanne has been extraordinary.
- Thanks especially for family (and friends that are almost like family). We have walked through this together and our relationships have grown deeper and more meaningful as a result. Where Satan would look to tear us apart, God has knit our hearts even more closely together. This in itself is a blessing beyond measure.
Prayer request (just one tonight):
Pastor Brian said last week that when we pray, we should "pray big." I love that. So let's pray big tonight. Let's pray for for nothing less than Joanne's complete healing and restoration. That's a scary prayer because we are putting it all on the line, but I believe that God enjoys nothing more then blowing peoples socks off as he reveals his glory. See ya later sock!