photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Jeff Johnson | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> PAGE 1: Kevin's Update Blog tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

PAGE 1: Kevin's Update Blog

This is where you need to be if you're starting from the beginning. If you're looking for more recent updates, you'll need to hop on over to Page 2...


to be redirected to PAGE 2 of this blog.

You are currently viewing PAGE 1…
to jump to the last post on PAGE 1.

If you would like to send Kevin and/or Amanda a card, you may do so by mailing it to the following address:
Kevin & Amanda Johnson
16617 Cordillera Way
Edmond, OK 73012

I'm going to do my best to post updates here as regularly as possible. Obviously, we are well aware of and quite humbled by the number of friends/family/co-workers/and even complete strangers who have responded to the news of Kevin's aneurysm. We cannot thank each and every one of you enough for the offers of assistance, food, words of encouragement, and most importantly YOUR PRAYERS. Make no mistake, God's mighty and powerful hand has been and continues to be at work in a very convincing and reassuring manner.

Currently, I am typing this from a hotel room here in San Francisco...located just a few blocks from the UCSF hospital. What would probably make sense is to simply copy/paste the 2 emails that have been circulating just for a quick history of what's happened to date, and then as time permits I will post updates. Inevitably, this will at times turn into more of a “Jeff’s Journal” type of read. I’m OK with that…in fact, I look forward to it. Although giving updates on Kevin’s condition can at times be exhausting both physically and emotionally, I’ve also found it to be a healthy release and a cathartic way for me to sort through some of the many thoughts whirling around in my brain. On the other hand, my goal is to not make this about me. Obviously, Kevin’s health is the ultimate goal and 99.9% of all time spent in prayer needs to be directed towards that end. However, we also know that there are countless prayers being lifted up for the doctors, Kevin’s transportation to SF and of course Kevin’s immediate family. I’ll just come right out and say it…this is absolutely the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with. Your prayers are being felt in a very powerful way. At times I literally just have to stop and say, “OK God. You know all of those prayers being lifted up for us…for peace & for patience & for understanding…my tank is getting pretty low and I could use a refill.” God is good and He has been quick to answer these prayers.

Here is the email update I sent out yesterday (1-3-07) morning:

Friends & Family-

Just a quick update on Kevin.
For those who don't know, 3 nights ago, Kevin (my younger brother) suffered a ruptured aneurysm. He is currently in Mercy Hospital ICU in OKC. The good news is that it has clotted itself for the time being and is currently not bleeding. He is heavily sedated and on a number of meds to keep his blood pressure down, but when he does wake up and talk there are no signs of neurological damage whatsoever. However, the doctors are very clear that surgery is needed.
What's complicating matters is a combination of the aneurysm's size (it was categorized as "giant"), its location (right at the base of the brain...a "basal tip aneurysm") and lastly the shape (instead of just encompassing 1 artery, it encompasses 2).

We have been in contact with just about every neurosurgeon in the state of Oklahoma over the past 2 days. Everyone locally readily admits that what we're dealing with is well beyond their level of expertise...not to say that it can't be operated on, just that it's going to take someone very specialized and experienced to handle Kevin's case. We have been given 3-4 names of world-renouned neurosurgeons from all across the country. Today will be spent bringing them all up to speed on Kevin's condition and seeing who is available to take his case.

We also have a new level of comfort in the fact that Dr. Stan Pelofsky, the neurosurgeon who performed my back surgeries, has agreed to step in as Kevin's attending physician until we can transfer him to his next destination. We are also grateful beyond words for Erin Holloman, a dear HS friend of mine who is now a Doctor in OKC. She was a God-send yesterday when she showed up at a time when all of our spirits were at rock bottom. Her involvement, among many other positive impacts, has helped clarify our next step in Kevin's treatment.

As for the time frame...apparently with aneurysms, there are 2 windows of opportunity for other words, there is one window of "inopportunity" when Dr's do NOT want to treat the aneurysm. We approaching the end of the first window for treatment (0-72 hours) and fully expect that any surgery will not be performed until the 2nd window presents itself...sometime after 12-14 days post episode. This is not without risk, as doctors have told us that his aneurysm could rupture again at any time.
Once we do decide where to transfer Kevin, the next obstacle is the transportation itself. For obvious reasons due to changes in cabin pressure, many of the doctors are hesitant to recommend flying Kevin to his next destination. They've all agreed that it would not be impossible, just not the preferred route. However, the top doctor in the world for treating aneurysms is located in Pheonix, AZ, so please keep this decision making process and possible subsequent trip in your prayers as well.

The most important thing for the time being is to keep Kevin stable. As I mentioned earlier, he is receiving medication to keep his blood pressure down. This was difficult to accomplish in the beginning, but they seem to have found the right mixture of medication. However, we have decided as a family to strictly limit visitors to Kevin's room for fear of getting him too excited.

This is all some heavy, heavy information I've just dumped on everyone, but let me just say that Kevin is in good spirits. He's sleeping a lot (thanks to the morphine) but when he does wake up, he's his normal goofy self. That is a very good sign and a blessing we are not willing to overlook. Obviously, those of you who know Kevin realize that for him to sit still for more than 20 minutes is abnormal...let alone 2 weeks.

Those of you who know Kevin also know that he is without a doubt a man of enormous faith as well. It's very hard for me to have anything other than a short-sighted view of this event at the present time. However, when I force myself to look beyond the immediate panic, fear and bewilderment of what's just happened to our family, I cannot and will not deny the fact that God has had His hand in this from the beginning...and that is a comforting thought. One of my favorite passages from the Bible, and one that I have called on numerous times over the past 48 hours is I Peter 5:6-7...
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He might lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you."
I realize that many of you who are receiving this email are hurting right along with the rest of us, and I pray that you might find some peace in this passage.

I would simply ask for prayers of wisdom for the doctors, peace/patients for friends and family...especially myself, my parents and Kevin's wife (Amanda)...and most importantly, that Kevin might be healed to the glory of God. I know that so many of your are already praying for Kevin and we thank you for that. As soon as we have our next step figured out, we will let everyone know.

Email update sent by Jennifer last night (1-3-06):
On behalf of Jeff, I just wanted to send out another update on Kevin. Two neurosurgeons in the country agreed to take on Kevin's case: one in Chicago and one in San Francisco. Both have excellent reputations, and everyone felt blessed to have two options. After much prayer and discussion, the family has chosen the doctor in San Francisco. Kevin will be flying out with Amanda on a private mediflight jet sometime tomorrow. Jeff is flying out early tomorrow morning, hoping to beat Kevin and Amanda there. Karen and Gene will arrive to San Francisco later tomorrow, and Amy and Amanda's mom will fly out on Sunday. Kevin's employer, Stryker, has generously offered to cover the family's flight expenses.

As far as the surgery goes, they don't know a lot of details right long it will take, how long recovery will be, etc. until they meet the neurosurgeon in San Francisco. However, if all goes as planned the procedure will take place on Monday.

Jeff plans on taking his computer and will do his best to keep everyone up-to-date. They appreciate so much everyone's prayers and just ask for continued spiritual support. Pray for a safe journey to San Francisco, for everyone, especially Kevin. Pray for surrender of the situation to the Lord and that He will work a miracle in Kevin. Pray for wisdom and skill for the doctors involved. Pray for peace for the family. And above all, pray that God will be glorified in the midst of Kevin's difficult journey.

1-4-06 @ 11:20 Oklahoma Time
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I arrived in San Fran around 1pm OK time/11am CA time. I felt it was important to beat Kevin and Amanda here so as to get some things in order and to just be here for Amanda especially once they do arrive. I’ve pretty much been out of the loop most of the day, leaving for the airport this morning at 5am (thanks for the ride Ray)…changing planes with almost no layover in Denver and then on to SF. UCSF met this morning and officially reserved a bed for Kevin, and the medi-flight group out of Kansas was then notified to head to OKC for the pickup. As I write this, they should be on their way to OKC with a targeted ETA of around 5:30pm OK time to then bring Kevin and Amanda out to San Fran. We’ve been told the trip will take 4 hours, putting them here around 6:30pm CA time. The more we’ve visited with multiple doctors about the potential dangers of flying Kevin to San Fran, the better we feel about it. We are at a point in this journey where every decision we make comes with some level of risk. That being said, we were given some good advice early on in this process by a Dr. friend of the family that we must continue to weigh potential reward against the known potential risks. In the case of flying Kevin to San Fran, this is a no-brainer.

I also learned after landing in SF that Kevin was taken in today for an MRI as a precaution to check for any fluid on his brain. Praise the Lord none was found. This just further clears the road for surgery.

The game plan as I now understand it is to get Kevin to SF, stabilize him, and then operate on the aneurysm Monday. There are a LOT of things to be learned between now and then. However, we are just thankful that we now have a “game plan” as Kevin has been referring to it (he’s asked on multiple occasions, “what’s the game plan?”) and continue to learn little bits of information here and there that further solidify our decision to bring him to SF.

On the “game plan” note…I think it’s worth reiterating from my email above that Kevin is fully aware of what has taken place and what is going on. First of all, the fact that he is “fully aware” is reason enough to celebrate. I’ve told this story to a couple of people already, but the point when I realized that there was absolutely no neurological damage to Kevin’s brain was when he was asked by the nurse if he knew who the two guys standing in his room were (myself and Koby Scoville). Kevin replied, “Yeah…that’s my brother, Jeff. And that’s my brother’s boyfriend, Koby.” Those of you who know Kevin well enough will agree with me that he is still the same-old Kevin. However, because we have been told that it is incredibly important that we keep Kevin’s blood pressure and other vital signs stable, we have elected to not go into detail as to the severity of his condition. Truth be told, and Amanda agrees with me on this, I don’t think he would really want to know.

Lastly, on a much more personal note…today, for me anyway, has been by far the most difficult on my nerves and emotions. I think this is primarily due to a couple of factors…#1 The lack of sleep is starting to take its toll, and #2 I did not enjoy being out of the loop during my trip to SF. It’s hard enough when you’re surrounded by friends and family who will eagerly let you cry on their shoulder when the pressures/etc need to spill over. I think I can easily say without a doubt that today has been the most challenging day I have EVER experienced. However, and you talk about our God being a faithful God, at one point when I was starting to get emotional on the plane from Denver to SF, I just closed my eyes and again asked God for a “refill”…when I opened my eyes and looked outside, I was staring into the Grand Canyon…what an AWESOME sight! It’s as if God was answering me by saying, “Look at what I am capable of creating. I can do MIGHTY things. Trust in Me that I am in control.” I can’t say it really helped with my emotions…I was still crying…but this time it was tears of joy.

1-4-07…4:50pm CA time
Just got back from the hospital. I prayed last night for a positive first impression. God is good. First of all, our hotel is AT MOST an 11 minute walk from the door of our hotel room to the door of Kevin’s room in the ICU. How do I know this? Because when I went up to the ICU and introduced myself to the receptionist as “Jeff who just flew in from Oklahoma…” she said, “Oh, you’re Kevin Johnson’s brother.” You know, I just realized that Kevin always gets a kick when I’m known as “Kevin Johnson’s brother” when he was always “Jeff Johnson’s brother” for the longest time. Anyway, I digress…
I explained that I was the first member of the family in town and just wanted to get a feel for where Kevin was going to be taken, where the waiting room was, what their policies are on visitors, etc. About this time the charge nurse walks by, introduces himself, and offers to drop everything and show me around. He even walked me back to see Kevin’s room which was being cleaned and set up as we were checking it out. Not that this next little bit matters, but it was again just another reminder of God’s awesome power. When Arthur (the charge nurse) walked me to the end of the hall (we’re on the 11th floor of a building that already sits on top of a pretty impressive hill) to see Kevin’s room, there was a HUGE window right next to Kevin’s room that overlooks San Fran bay…a breathtaking scene to say the least with the Golden Gate Bridge not just in the distant background, but right there front and center…quite an impressive view.
So, as Arthur is taking me back to see Kevin’s room he is explaining to me that he is already up to speed on Kevin’s case. He also tells me that we are without a doubt in the right place to treat Kevin’s aneurysm…that we as a family are no doubt quite worried about his condition, but that his ICU unit/hospital sees about 20 aneurysms a week! Now, granted, they’re not all basilar tip aneurysms like what Kevin has…but still, they’re used to working with patients who must keep their BP low, etc. This made me feel very good about being in SF.

Perhaps the best thing to come out of my visit with Arthur is that I was able to talk him into allowing one of us to sit with Kevin overnight…even to divide it out into shifts. This is big because we were originally told that this ICU unit does not allow family in the rooms overnight. The one downside that I have noticed thus far to UCSF vs. Mercy is just in the waiting facilities for the ICU unit. UCSF has one small waiting room for all families to use w/ patients in ICU and they close this waiting room at 8pm every night. They have no “sleep rooms” like Mercy, nor do they even have any reclining chairs. However, I think this could end up being a good thing as it will encourage us to come back to the hotel and actually sleep in a bed when we’re not “on duty.” Hopefully we can meet tonight as a family after my parents and sister get in (around midnight CA time) to discuss this and work out some sort of a schedule. We have to be of the mindset that we may need to start shifting into “marathon mode”…awfully hard to do after running a 3-4 day sprint like we’ve all been doing to date.

As far as I know, Kevin and Amanda should be en route to Wiley Post Airport via ambulance as I type this. The medi-flight jet ended up being about an hour later that what we were originally told…no big deal. However, please pray for wisdom for the ICU nurses/flight crew as there is some risk in the transportation process. Our next big milestone will be to have him in his new ICU room stable w/ low blood pressure and sawing logs. The next big milestone for me is catching some Z’s myself before Kevin and Amanda get in.

I’ll leave you for now with a verse that my cousin Kim shared with me via email just an hour or so ago as well as the chorus from a song from Casting Crowns that my sister-in-law Shelley emailed me…both very appropriate.
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak.
Isiah 40:29

Casting Crowns
“The Voice of Truth”
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Fill ‘er up Lord!

New ETA at UCSF Hospital is 9:45 CA time.

1-4-07…7:15pm CA time from here on out
Just got a call from Amanda. They had landed and were refueling in New Mexico…Santa Fe I think? She said Kevin is doing GREAT, that his blood pressure is better than it’s been all day, and that the staff and flight crew are top-notch. Her spirits really sounded sky-high. She will be calling me when they land in SF whereupon I will meet her at the hospital…ETA into SF airport is 10:00pm. Remember, I only have internet access here in the hotel room. I’ll be doing my best to post updates, but may not have another one for a while. I’ll try to at least let you know when she calls to say they are on the ground in SF.

Just heard from Amanda…they’ve touched down in SF. Should be to the hospital w/in the next 30 minutes.

Kevin arrived at the hospital at exactly 11pm local time. Amanda said that the flight crew was phenomenal…actually a husband/wife nurse team who really took to Kevin. He was fully awake (a little groggy) when he got here. I was actually able to meet them as they were getting off of the ambulance. We got him straight to his room and a neurosurgeon (a resident…not the doctor who will actually be performing the surgery) actually met us there as well to assess Kevin and visit with me and Amanda. He made no bones about it…we’ve got our work cut out for us. But he did say that we’re in the right place to deal with it. He said he’s studied under several amazing neurosurgeons, and that Dr. Lawton (Kevin’s doctor) is the only doctor whose work has made his jaw drop. God remains incredibly faithful and all of the pieces continue to fall into place.

Mom, Dad & my sister, Stephanie, arrived here at the hotel around 1am. I met them back here to help them get into the rooms and will be leaving just as soon as I get this posted to take Stephanie over to relieve Amanda for the night. Tomorrow will surely prove to be a long, important day…and we will all need to be as rested as possible.

I just woke up. Amanda is still sleeping. I walked Stephanie over to the hospital last night to find they’d taken Kevin down for an MRI. We were told to expect this…that UCSF would probably want their own films w/ some new angles in preparation for surgery. We waited for Kevin to return before Amanda and I headed back to the hotel…didn’t take too long. Kevin is still very awake…more so than I’ve seen him since this whole thing started. He is fully aware that he’s in SF. I can only imagine that after today/tonight’s events the seriousness of the situation is starting to sink in with him.

I can not tell you how much your words of encouragement mean to us all. I think mentally I’ve been in “business mode” in dealing with this from the start. Praise God that we’ve overcome countless hurdles, obstacles and down-right brick walls to get to where we are this morning. However, now that we ARE where we need to be and we DO have Kevin with the right doctors/nurses/hospital (no small feat), I am now beginning to transition from business-mode to brother-mode. I trust that that makes sense.

I am also feeling quite anxious about meeting with Dr. Lawton for the first time. We’re not sure when this will happen. We’re hoping for sometime today, but might not be until Monday. I fully expect the Dr. Lawton will shoot straight with us…and that’s what has me feeling very scared. We’re to the point now that we have all of our eggs in one basket. And even though that basket is top of the line and exactly where we want to be, we’re talking about one mighty precious egg.

Just continuing to speak from my heart, the other thing that scares me from a selfish perspective is that currently, it is very easy to overlook Kevin’s condition and to flat-out forget about it because he is doing so very well and, other than a pretty nasty headache, is showing no outward physical signs of being “sick.” This will change dramatically post-surgery. In speaking with the neurosurgeon last night, I asked him if this type of surgery, assuming things went well, would lend itself to allow Dr. Lawton to report to us immediately following the operation that things had in fact gone very well. He said that this was not the case. Without going into too much detail, he explained that once the surgery was complete, Dr. Lawton would be able to report back as to the amount of bleeding that took place, if he was able to address the aneurysm…but that the real effect that the surgery would have on Kevin’s brain would not be know for at least 2-3 weeks after the fact. My prayer is that God would bless us with the opportunity to wait through those very grueling 2-3 weeks.

Amanda said something to me last night before we turned off the light that has really stuck with me…something that I know we ALL realize, but maybe just haven’t been able to articulate as well as she did. She said, “Kevin has God’s favor all over him.” Those of you who know Kevin know how incredibly true this statement is. I can’t help but cling to thoughts like this and imagine what a testimony God is sculpting for Kevin through all of these events. Leave it to Kevin to come up with the biggest, baddest, most incredibly challenging journey to overcome. If there’s anyone up to a task like that…it’s Kevin.

Another thought I’ve had lately goes back to a conversation Kevin and I had some time ago (at least a year ago) where he was telling me about a guy he either met personally or heard speak his testimony. This guy had been at one point in his life diagnosed with terminal cancer and not given much time by his doctors to live. Long story short, he had been misdiagnosed and ended up being completely healthy. His point, however, was that his experience forced him and his family to lean so heavily on God that their spiritual walks grew by leaps and bounds. Kevin seemed very humbled by this next part of the story he shared with me. He said this guy actually prayed every day that God would give him his cancer back…that it was the cancer that had forced him into such a humbled and glorious relationship with Christ. I remember thinking at the time that that seemed a bit overboard in my opinion…noteworthy, perhaps, but who in their right mind would wish to be terminally ill. I now have a better understanding of his perspective. The incredible sense of urgency we all feel at this point of the journey is forcing us to examine our own relationships with Christ. I struggle with humility (among many other things)...I am being forced to humble myself and let God take the reigns.

I pray that we might all find something through this experience that would bring us even one step closer in our relationship with our family members and loved ones…but most importantly, in our relationship with Christ. Please go hug a loved one and tell them that you love them. As Kevin would say, “Don’t be afraid to be cheesy!”

First, let me just say what a source of POWER and STRENGTH it has been for all of us to read your messages and emails of support. Know that your prayers are not only felt, but they are WORKING…praise God.

Amanda & I headed over to the hospital this morning around 9am…I think. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep track of time, not that I don’t feel rested…just not really pertinent at the moment. My sister stayed with Kevin overnight which allowed Amanda, myself and my parents to get some much needed rest. We’re in the process of trying to acclimate ourselves to a new schedule or rotation, as the waiting room facilities are not what we had become accustomed to in OKC (see previous post). While walking to the hospital, we received a phone call from my wife to give us an update she’d just received from my mom…all good news. Dr. Lawton’s nurse came by first thing this morning along with Dr. Lawton’s right-hand man…another doctor who’s name escapes me. My mom was in the room with Kevin at the time and was very impressed by their bed-side manner. They informed my mom that Kevin has been scheduled for surgery this Monday at 9am. This means that they will take Kevin to start prepping him around 7am Monday morning. This is good news because it officially answers the question as to whether or not Dr. Lawton felt this aneurysm (just learned that it’s spelled with a “y”) was in fact operable. It does not dilute the fact, however, that we are facing a very precarious operation & recovery. They confirmed what we already knew, that this is a very large aneurysm, but also said that they had seen and dealt with larger aneurysms. This may seem like a minor detail, but let me tell you…I was starting to get really worn out watching other neurosurgeons look at Kevin’s films for the first time and just shake their heads and sigh. As for the operation itself, we were told that it could take anywhere from 6-8 hours…possibly longer. They will more than likely enter Kevin’s skull from above either his right or left eye at about the hairline, removing a piece of his skull in order to get the best angle on the aneurysm. There’s a chance they may chose to enter the skull from 2 locations in order to provide for two different angles, but that has yet to be determined. If I remember right, I think I discussed briefly some of the aspects of Kevin’s recovery in a previous post.

We also learned that the MRI Kevin had done last night showed NO SIGNS OF FLUID ON HIS BRAIN. Praise God! Obviously, any and all news that limits any further complication at this point is good for the soul.

The doctor also informed us that throughout the remaining days prior to Kevin’s surgery, they would be performing some tests on Kevin similar to an ultrasound…however, the name of the procedure escapes me. This is to test for the spasms in Kevin’s brain that can result from the blood leaked by his aneurysm. The good news is that this is a non-invasive test that can be performed in his room.

The other development in today’s discussions with the doctor and nurse is that Kevin was made fully aware of his status. I think overall this is probably what needed to happen. I’ve been wrestling with this from basically day 1, able to argue both sides of the issue. However, my mom said that the way in which the doctor introduced the information to Kevin was amazing. My mom also said that she literally felt a “blanket of peace” fall upon her as she was in the room with Kevin while this discussion was taking place. I have yet to speak with Kevin today since he has been made fully aware…and to be quite honest, the thought of it scares me to death. Kevin and I have always been very emotionally open with each other…often crying on each other’s shoulders over the years. I’m afraid that when I do see him, this may open up a very deep well of tears for both of us. That doesn’t bother me at all…in fact, I was hoping to get to have that experience with Kevin before he goes into surgery. However, the last thing that needs to happen is for Kevin to become anxious and his blood pressure and other vitals start reacting adversely. Please pray for this forthcoming discussion as well as other potential discussions with other family members that are sure to take place in the next day or so.

Another source of anxiety for me of late has been my mom’s emotional state. This entire experience has really taken its toll on all of us, but especially my mom. However, God continues to be faithful and she is doing much, much better today after a good night’s rest. Again, thank you all for your prayers in this regard.

If you missed it in my last post, I’ve issued a challenge to all who read this web blog. Please go hug a loved one and tell them that you love them. As Kevin would say, “Don’t be afraid to be cheesy!”

Wow…where to begin…
I actually have notes tonight people, so get comfortable. I’ve got lots of good news that is a testament to the power of prayer!

I just got back from walking Stephanie over to the hospital to relieve Amanda, and then walking Amanda back here to the hotel. Just as a side note, I’ve mentioned to Amanda that she’s more than welcome to put some thoughts down on the computer to post on here for everyone to read. She’s anxious to take me up on that, and I’m sure you all would enjoy “hearing” from her. Hopefully we can find some time for her to do that sometime tomorrow.

I’m going to struggle with sequential structure with this post, but I’m sure no one will hold it against me. Let’s start with the meeting we had with Lisa Hannigan, Dr. Lawton’s nurse practitioner. Last night, Dr. Isaac (the first neurosurgeon we met with after Kevin’s arrival) described her as the “neck” with Dr. Lawton being the “head” of the body that makes up UCSF’s neurosurgical unit. She was the nurse who met with my mom and Kevin first thing this morning as mentioned in my previous post. Mom mentioned to me that she had said she’d be more than happy to meet with me sometime today to answer any questions, and I knew that this was something that needed to happen because neither Amanda nor I was present this morning.

I stalled. I flat out (albeit subconsciously) stalled. I admitted to Amanda on the walk back from the hospital that, looking back on today, I found myself occupying my time with other issues in an attempt to not have to have this meeting. I think if I’m totally honest with myself, I was scared to hear what she might/would say. After all, the compassion with which a message is delivered, when that message is not one you want to hear, and after several such deliveries, only goes so far. However, this meeting needed to happen…so, as my friend Kelli will appreciate: ENTER GOD STAGE RIGHT.

I called my mom and asked her to holler at the nurse to see when she could get together. This was probably around 4pm-ish (?) I was already headed to the hospital when I made this call. Mom called right back and said that the nurse had another meeting scheduled, but that she was more than happy to cancel and meet with Amanda and me as soon as I could get there. Great! I had hoped that it would be sooner rather than later because, as I mentioned in the previous post, my level of anxiety about seeing Kevin now that he was fully abreast of his condition had been really weighing heavily on me and I was wanting to ask her opinion as to whether or not she thought my being emotional with Kevin would be detrimental to his condition.

When I arrived at the hospital, I headed back to Kevin’s room just to peek in on him. It was at this moment that I quite literally felt a blanket of peace wrap around my entire being. I don’t say this metaphorically…I quite literally felt the warmth of God’s peace encompass my entire being. Kevin was awake and I stepped into his room. He shot me a quick “what’s up” and from there on out, we just had a normal brother-to-brother, nothing fancy conversation. To be honest, I have no recollection what we talked about, but it was enough to get me emotionally over that invisible hurdle of talking to him knowing that “he knew.” I can tell you that we did not discuss his condition or anything along those lines…but it was just enough conversation for me to see that he was still my confident little brother. This probably lasted 10 minutes??? I really have no idea. At some point, I decided to step out of his room. And as I did, my emotions flooded to the surface. Whew! Your prayers were felt in a mighty way. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

As I stood in the hallway, up walked Lisa Hannigan. She introduced herself and the three of us (myself, Amanda and Nurse Hannigan) found a small room to sit down and visit. The content of this meeting is the real meat of this post (sorry it’s taken me so long to get to it!).

I began by asking if the fact that Dr. Lawton took on Kevin’s case was an indication that he was confident he could FIX Kevin’s condition.


Wow. It is absolutely beyond description what this simple one-word answer did for my spirit. “Yes.” I’m at a loss for what to say even now. I hope that you can find half the joy and HOPE in this news as Amanda and I. “Yes” is an answer we’ve not heard much these past 5 days. We are in the right hands here in San Francisco everyone. I’m going to say that again. I FIRMLY BELIEVE WITH ALL OF MY HEART THAT GOD HAS PLACED US IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR THE PURPOSE OF HEALING KEVIN

Lisa then went on to admit that repairing or “reconstructing” Kevin’s aneurysm was a very daunting task. She reiterated what we’ve been told so many times to date…Kevin’s aneurysm is large, it’s in a very difficult location, and its shape compounds things even further. But she then went on to say, and I quote, “But it’s not the largest nor the ugliest aneurysm we’ve ever seen…and it’s sure not the largest nor the ugliest we’ve ever fixed.” Again, words that were feeding hope directly to our souls.

She explained, as posted above, that they would gain access to Kevin’s aneurysm from above his right eye. She also explained that Dr. Lawton was approaching this from the standpoint that he would be able to “clip” Kevin’s aneurysm…using a series of little pinching do-hicky things to close off the aneurysm from the main blood supply. Kevin will be heavily, heavily, heavily sedated in order to “knock out all of the brain’s energy demands.” This also means that it will take Kevin quite a while to recover from the anesthesia…up to a couple or 3 days. He will also more than likely be hooked up to a ventilator when we get him back after surgery. She explained that she didn’t expect for the operation to cause much swelling in his brain (praise God!), but that there would be quite a bit of visual trauma to Kevin’s face as a result of accessing the brain via the right side of his face. She explained that it would basically look like he’d run into a wall with the entire right side of his face…black & swollen eye, etc. Of course, this would all recede with time.

Remembering that Dr. Isaac had told us just last night that we would be looking at a good 2 weeks before knowing if the surgery was successful or not, Lisa said, “Oh, I don’t think that’s right. I’ll think we’ll have a pretty good idea 24-48 hours post-op.” She went on to explain that the “2 weeks” time table was in reference to the amount of time needed before the risk of “vaso-spam” was eliminated. What this means is that once blood has leaked into the brain via the aneurysm, that blood becomes an irritant to the brain and all of the blood vessels. As the brain tries to break down that blood in an effort to re-absorb the blood, it can cause the veins/arteries within the brain to spasm. Lisa explained that they actually see a higher percentage of vaso-spasm in their younger patients…but that with Kevin, she did not anticipate much, if any vaso-spasming because, even though his aneurysm had leaked, the amount it had leaked was relatively small. She also indicated that she did not anticipate any further bleeding as a result of the surgery…therefore no new blood for the brain to have to break down. Furthermore, she went on to elaborate that many patients do in fact experience vaso-spasm with no adverse effect on the brain. FYI…(can’t remember if I’ve posted this or not)…it’s the blood in Kevin’s brain that is giving him his current headaches.

Lisa also said that another factor we have working for us is that in most cases, the “person” you send into the operating room is usually the best you can hope for getting back from the O.R. In other words, if a person is exhibiting neurological deficits prior to going into the O.R., those neurological deficits will probably not be repaired. Kevin at this time is exhibiting no observable neurological deficits. In fact, 2 nurses…one in OKC and one here in SF have both commented after asking Kevin what year it is (to which Kevin quickly replied 2007), “Wow, I almost told you that you were wrong…but it actually IS 2007!”

The angiogram pictures sent with us from Mercy Hospital are perfect…thus eliminating the need to do another angiogram…VERY good news.

I also had a chance to ask about the effects on Kevin if he were to become emotional. She reassured us all that, if this were to happen, it would not concern her at all. In fact, she said it could actually be healthy for Kevin in the sense that it would allow him to release some of his pent-up anxiety/tension. Obviously, it is still our goal to NOT put Kevin in this type of situation. But we are also not naïve enough to think that at some point between now and Monday morning that it won’t happen. My take is this…God is in control of this entire situation. He has had His mighty hand clearly working in every step of this incredibly laborious journey. If/When the time comes that Kevin may become emotional, I have full faith in Christ that he will either give us His strength (as he already has!) to be a source of strength and resolve for Kevin in his time of need…or, if God knows that what Kevin needs if for someone to cry with him, God will allow this. Not only will He allow it…He will ensure that it is an absolutely beautiful, cathartic and healing step towards Kevin’s full recovery.

As for recovery…and again, this is best-case scenario…she said that if everything goes as planned, we could expect Kevin to spend approximately 5 days post-op in the Neuro ICU, then transfer to a regular hospital room for another 4-5 days, and then be discharged from the hospital. Long-term recovery would be from 3-4 months (at home in Oklahoma), and a return to a 100% completely normal life could be expected…but then again, we are talking about Kevin, so the “100% completely normal” should be interpreted with caution.

Now…here’s the part where everyone reading this blog is being called onto the carpet. As we were wrapping up our meeting, the last thing I told Lisa before she left the room was this: There are literally THOUSANDS of people praying for you and Dr. Lawton from all around the world.

Her response: That’s wonderful…because PRAYER WORKS.

Again, I want to reiterate the fact that everything Lisa laid out for us in this meeting is “best-case scenario.” But, it is the best-case scenario in which we are choosing to place our faith. God is good people. He sustains. He is faithful. He is compassionate. He is sovereign. GOD IS PRESENT…AND, I REPEAT WITH FULL INTENTION…GOD IS SO VERY GOOD!

On a very different topic, Clark Sheehy, the guy Kevin coached with this past year at Fresno Pacific, and his wife brought dinner by for us this evening. He came bearing not only gifts of food, but also the gift of some very good news that would prove to be a very bright spot for Kevin. Some months ago, Kevin initiated talks with one of their basketball players concerning his faith and relationship with Christ. This kid was admittedly an unbeliever…but through many after-hours talks with Kevin had begun to acquire a desire to learn more about Christ. These seeds planted by Kevin more than a year ago were harvested 2 weeks ago when this young man accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. My little brother is amazing. Those of you who know Kevin no doubt know this already. What an awesome testimony God is putting together for my little brother.

We love you all. And please know that we feel so very loved.

Praise God for good sleep. Last night, Amanda and I both got the most sleep either of us has had for quite some time.

Not much to update on so far this morning. Just wanted to share one of the verses I read from Laurie Kretchmar’s post down below. It really spoke to me this morning and I will be holding it close to my heart all day long:
"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
John 14:13

God will be glorified through this event. God is ALREADY being glorified through this!

URGENT UPDATE1-6-07…10:35am
Kevin has started to develop some problems with his lungs…could possibly be a touch of pneumonia. His body is not absorbing oxygen as efficiently as the doctors/nurses would like. They have put an oxygen mask on him and taken several blood samples to check for any possible sign of infection. We have full confidence that the doctors and nurses are on top of this. Worst-case scenario, they would need to put him on a ventilator. We’ve been told that for Kevin to develop some sort of chest infection would not be out of the realm of ordinary, given the fact that he’s been laying on his back for so long. We’ve also been assured that, if in fact he does have a touch of pneumonia, it would not delay surgery. However, the doctors recognize that the healthier he is going into surgery, the speedier his recovery post-op will be.

His heart rate has also been running at about 100bpm. This is completely acceptable for a “normal” heart rate, but for Kevin, his normal heart rate is around 60. They would like for his heart rate to be around 75.

My entire family would ask you to humble yourselves before the Lord right now and ask that Kevin’s oxygen level and heart rate be effected in such a way that those two numbers might themselves be a witness to the doctors and nurses as to the power of prayer.

quick update from here inside the hospital. vitals have improved, but still not where they need to be. they have ordered a spiral CT to rule out the possibility of blood clots. some of the tests apparently showed that kevin's brain was sending excess fluid to his lungs making the oxygen transfer not as efficient as it should be. he has been given medication for well as a diuretic to help him "relieve" himself of some of the excess fluid that has built up within his body. both of these treatments, along with a better forced oxygen nose piece should and have already helped to improve his condition. however, as i mentioned earlier, they have chosen to run the spiral CT to rule out possibility of pulmonary embolusm...basically blood clots.

please pray for stability with kevin's vitals. this is adding stress to our situation here...obviously. will update again as soon as possible.

My peace today is coming from a series of verses in John 14...especially the 2nd half of John 14:11..."At least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves."

They just took kevin down for the spiral ct. he is fully conscious and aware of what's going on. he should be back in the room within 20-30 minutes. they will be checking for pulmonary embolus...blood clots. his oxygen levels have already come up a bit from earlier, but are not nearly where they need to be. once back in the room, they will have him wear a special oxygen mask that seals around his mouth and nose...basically achieving the same effect of intubation w/out the need for sedation and invasive tube. we pray that this is the case.

If it is in fact a blood clot...normal procedure would be to administer an anti-coagulant or blood thinner. obviously, this is not possible with kevin's current condition. what would probably happen at that point is he would be taken in for a "minor" surgery during which time a "filter" would be placed in his artery for the purpose of "catching" the clot if/when it were to dislodge.

If there is no clot, and the oxygen mask is ineffective, he will then more than likely be intubated for the purpose of getting an adequate amount of oxygen to kevin's system. this is an acceptable procedure if God deems it necessary...and even has its "up side" as the doctors have explained that they are confident that intubation will give kevin's system the necessary oxygen it requires. it will also allow them to access his lungs and deal directly with the pulmonary edema (fluid in his lungs) that he is currently experiencing. he will have to be intubated at some point anyway for his operation. however, we know that if he is intubated, he will also be sedated to the point that we will no longer be able to communicate with him. they have also alluded to the fact that since his operation is now approximately 40 hours away...they may chose to just leave him intubated from now until the time they perform the surgery.

today has obviously been challenging. i'm looking for God's blessing and purpose in today's challenges. a peace that God has given me about today's developments is that, although scary as they are, they are keeping our minds occupied on the current situation as opposed to allowing our minds to drift too far into the future. date, God's sovereignty has proven sufficient throughout the numerous challenges we have been faced with the past several days. i reminded myself (and God) this morning that for every challenge we've faced, we've been rewarded with even greater good news. I pray for that good news and would ask that you do the same.

I will update on Kevin's CT as soon as i am made aware and have a moment to sneak away to do so.

This is Amy, Jeff's wife... Jeff just sent me a text saying that the CT scan showed no clots! PRAISE GOD! Jeff reported that Kevin's vitals were currently very good, and that we just need to keep them there. As I type this, Kevin is eating chocolate pudding and watching the Dallas football game with Jeff. Keep praying!

I’m tired. I really do need to get to sleep, but this blog has become an integral part of my “processing” each night before I roll over and try to sleep.

This was a rough day (and last night) for Kevin physically. As has been discussed in the previous few blogs, Kevin began experiencing problems with his oxygen saturation levels around 8pm last night. Without getting too detailed in the medical techno-jargon (not that I could anyway), when Kevin’s blood travels to his lungs to re-supply with oxygen, this process has become less efficient over the past 24-30 hours. A series of chest X-rays were taken last night that came back looking “fuzzy.” Most of today was spent battling this issue and working to pin-point exactly what was causing this to occur.

I can not tell you how wonderful the nurses and doctors are here at UCSF. We have always had complete faith and knowledge that they are actively on top of Kevin’s condition/s. They worked tirelessly, convening neurosurgeons and respiratory therapists and nurses…all putting their heads together to formulate the best plan of action for dealing with this most recent hurdle. Not only were they actively working to address Kevin’s needs, but they were also excellent at verbally walking us through exactly what was happening every step of the way.

As was mentioned earlier, Kevin was eventually taken down for a Spiral CT in order to rule out the possibility that Kevin had experienced a pulmonary embolus…basically a blood clot. As you may be aware, when laying on your back like Kevin has been doing for the past however many days, he is at risk for “throwing off” blood clots from his legs. It is also my understanding (correct me if I’m wrong Erin) that these clots can potentially travel to the lungs…and even to the heart, with can be catastrophic. One of the nurses was pretty well convinced that this was in fact what we were looking at.

This test did come back negative…which was a welcome excuse for each of us to praise God. See post above as to what would’ve happened had they found blood clots in Kevin’s lungs.

What we DID finally figure out we were dealing with was something called (?) Neurogenic Pulmonary Edema. In other words, due to the trauma experienced within Kevin’s brain, his brain was actually forcing fluid into his lungs. This, in turn, reduced the efficiency with which Kevin’s lungs were able to re-saturate Kevin’s blood with oxygen. This is, according to the doctors and nurses at UCSF, extremely rare. They’ve seen it before…but not often.

Here’s the good news about Kevin’s Neurogenic Pulmonary Edema…
1. It seems to be responding to medication
2. The diuretic they are giving Kevin to help relieve him of the excess fluid within his body is now working. This is HUGE because the first time they gave it to him, it didn’t seem to have much effect. The doctor had mentioned at one point that she didn’t want to give it to him again b/c it seemed to have no effect. However, she tried it one more time…and it worked brilliantly. Kevin is now pissing like a race horse. In fact, my friend Erin Holloman (a doctor in OKC) explained to me that this diuretic they gave Kevin is actually given to race horses in order to make them run faster. What I didn’t figure out is that if they run faster because they technically weigh less b/c they’ve “gone to see a man about a horse”…or if someone tells them that the bathroom is over there at the other end of the racetrack.
3. This condition will go away on its own…usually around 48 hours after the first symptoms. The doctor fully expects to see Kevin begin to improve on his own sometime tomorrow.
4. He is already showing a vast improvement from where he was this morning.

We all selfishly praise God that intubation was not necessary. I say “selfishly” because it really would not have been detrimental to Kevin if had had to have been intubated. However, because of the need to sedate him for the length of time he was sedated, we were not looking forward to having to give up that awake time with him before we send him into the O.R. Monday morning.

This evening, Kevin really was “Kevin.” Those who know him can appreciate that as a pretty accurate description of my brother. He was obviously uncomfortable and frustrated by having to wear these oxygen contraptions, being poked and prodded for basically the past 30+ hours straight…but his orneriness was as visible as ever, and I for one enjoyed seeing that. Because of his edema, he is has been put on a restricted liquids diet. This is not sitting well with Kevin. After all, one of the side effects of having oxygen forced into your mouth and nose 24/7 is that is will give you one heck of a case of cotton-mouth. I think I have heard about every benefit of drinking water known to man tonight from Kevin as he pleads with anyone within earshot of him to sneak him a drink of water. This might sound rather sad if you weren’t around to witness it first hand…but let me assure you, it was much more pathetic than sad. He was down right shameless. But, that’s my brother…and as annoying as he was getting, I wouldn’t have traded his whiny little pleas for anything in the world.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was searching long and hard for God’s purpose and blessings as a result of today’s challenges. After having some time to process that question, I think I have to say that it allowed me to spend more time WITH Kevin, physically in the same room, talking, comforting, scolding, than I had been able to spend in quite some time. I thank God for that.

My mom and Amanda both asked me to be sure and mention in tonight’s blog how Kevin has remained extremely positive throughout the past however many days. Every time a nurse comes in and has to start a new IV, wake him up to give him his pills, re-set the machines, etc., Kevin will always say something to the effect of, “Thanks. I sure do appreciate you and what you’re doing for me.” My mom said that every time she hears him say something like this, her heart just does a back flip. He really is an amazing kid.

On another note…
Word has reached me via my cousin Kim that two dear friends of Kevin and mine, Lisa Buck and Koby Scoville, have organized a prayer meeting Monday morning (morning of Kevin’s surgery) at Casady School in the Chapel at 6:30am. Here is what Lisa’s email said:

OK- here is the plan. We are going to have a prayer meeting for Kevin Johnson for those of you available Monday morning. Koby worked his magic at Casady for it to be held there. We are going to meet about 6:30am and try to begin as close to 6:45am as possible. Father Blizzard at Casady has willingly and graciously offered the Chapel at Casady. Koby is going to try to make sure the gate is open on the south end of campus. This will take you straight to the Chapel as opposed to the entrance off Penn. This entrance is a gate across the street from the Neighborhood Walmart on Brittain. If this gate happens to be closed, the main gate/entrance off Penn will be open. We look forward to seeing you. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me at 405-650-5689. And for those of you out-of-town, I just didn't want you to be left out. Tiffany Crosier said she would even set up a conference call if we could work out the details. Le me know if you’re interested.
Lisa Buck

I cannot tell you how humbling this is. I quite honestly do no know what to say.

Thought it would be a good idea to start listing specific prayer requests so that everyone would know what to pray for.
1. Kevin is running a fever of about 102 degrees. They are concerned he may have an infection of some sort and will start giving him antibiotics. These should help with his fever. Please pray that God would take away any infection Kevin may have so that we can send him into surgery as healthy as possible.
2. Pray for a good night. Pray for stable vital signs. Even if it’s after the fact and you’re reading this tomorrow morning, God surely has no problem with retroactive praying…hey, I like that idea!
3. Pray that Kevin’s Pulmonary Edema would cease and desist ASAP…again, so that we might send him into surgery as healthy as we can.
4. Pray for continued strength for all of us. God has been so faithful with this.
5. Pray for the doctors, nurses and support staff.
6. MOST IMPORTANTLY, pray that God will use this experience to further the Kingdom of Heaven. I have NO DOUBT that this is in his plans.

I leave you with 2 things…
1. My source of strength today has come from the book of John…14th chapter, verses 9-14. I highly recommend this as “required reading.”
2. The spirit of my little brother. He really is a champion for Christ and oh what a testimony this will be!

The doctors went ahead and decided to intubate Kevin last night around 4am. Initially, this was very crushing news to me this morning when I first heard the news. However, God continues to answer prayer and follow the not-so-good news with abundant blessings in the form of even better news. Bottom line is, our most recent prayers have been that God would stabilize Kevin's vitals and help him to rest comfortably. Currently, Kevin's vitals are stable and improving at a very good clip. And, as a result of the sedation received for the intubation, he is also resting very comfortably.

The problem over the past 48 or so hours has been that Kevin is building up fluid in his lungs. This fluid is then causing the efficiency of the transfer of oxygen to his blood stream to be compromised. Without getting to detailed, please know and BELIEVE that your prayers have been heard by God, and that Kevin is now receiving the oxygen his body needs to gain the strength necessary for surgery tomorrow morning. In fact, the doctors and nurses have been rather surprised at how fast his body has recovered since the intubation. From the time he was first intubated until around 8ish this morning, he was receiving 100% oxygen via his breathing tube. Around 8am, they lowered that to 80%...and then to 70% about 1 1/2 hours ago...and then most recently to 60% within the past 20 minutes. The "goal" is to have Kevin down to 50% oxygen before going into surgery...and number that our doctors, nurses, respiratory therapist have all expressed complete confidence we will achieve if not exceed well before that time.

The respiratory therapist (his name is Gary...please say a special prayer of thanks for blessings upon this wonderful man) also took a mucus culture from deep inside Kevin's lungs. We were concerned that he would have to use a rather invasive procedure for accomplishing this, which would take Kevin off of his oxygen for a few minutes and might allow for his level to drop again...but this man assured us that in some of his recent medical reading, he had come across a study which showed that this OTHER, LESS INVASIVE procedure would give the same results. Praise the Lord for these "small" miracles...each is starting to add up into an amazing testimony of God's faithfulness, sovereignty and love. (Again...please see John 14:11)

We also met with Dr. Richardson, one of the neurosurgeons on Dr. Lawton's team who answered several questions we had concerning Kevin's current condition. He explained that Dr. Lawton was well know for operating under almost any condition on a patient, but was also very sensitive to weighing the pros and cons while making this decision...a sound "safety-first" approach. He also mentioned that after reviewing Kevin's chest X-rays, he though Kevin "might" have a touch of pneumonia...and therefore the culture was ordered that was discussed in the previous paragraph. His demeanor was very relaxed and down-right soothing...which was very much what we were all needing by this point. He also explained that he had also reviewed Kevin's films and knew that this was going to be an extremely "tricky" surgery...but had full faith and confidence that we would not want to be in the hands of anyone other than Dr. Lawton.

Later, while in the room with Kevin, Dr. Singh, an interventional radiologist, stopped by to visit with me about some of the post-op care and procedures that would be needed for Kevin. He explained that probably the day after Kevin's surgery he would be taken for another angiogram in order to produce a new map of what Kevin's aneurysm looked like post-op. He also walked me through the possibility and expectation that Kevin would more than likely experience the vaso spasms that have been discussed in earlier threads. He said that the post-op angiogram would help check for this. He also explained that given the timeline of when Kevin's aneurysm did rupture, he would expect for the peak of Kevin's vaso spasms to occur sometime around Tuesday or Wednesday of this coming week...approximately 8-10 days after the rupture. If this does occur, he explained that there are a couple of treatments to counteract the vessels is introducing medicine into the veins to help relax the vessels, the other is to perform an angioplasty...basically a balloon inserted into the vessel to physically expand the vessel to allow for the flow of blood. Dr. Singh was another calm, soothing personality...again, a welcome relief. He also alluded to the fact that Kevin's surgery would not be easy given the aneurysm's size and location...but that post-op, he foresaw no real potential complications with the angiogram that would be performed the next day. He spent a few minutes assessing Kevin's condition...testing for response by applying eye drops in his eyes and looking for a blink reflex, and also by squeezing his neck/shoulder area in order to produce a grimace and movement of his extremities. I'd like to say that Kevin sat up and popped him in the nose or put him in some sort of submission hold that he's recently mastered at one of his fight club sessions. However, his responses were exactly what Dr. Singh was hoping to see.

I told Amanda this afternoon when giving her this same update that it's as if every new doctor who is introduced to Kevin's case and has reviewed his films and is familiar with the complexity/severity of what we're dealing with comes to see Kevin expecting to see a young man who is experiencing and/or exhibiting some degree of neurological deficit. PRAISE GOD THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

I'm using a community computer, so I need to go for now.
1. no more fluid on Kevin's lungs…and that his lungs would clear out the fluid that has already built up there
2. no infection in his lungs or anywhere else
3. continued improvement with Kevin's breathing
4. clarity and wisdom for the doctors in the days to come

Love you all!

Prayer works! We are personally experiencing God’s promises made in Isaiah 40:29, and Kevin is experiencing the promises made in John 14:13-14!

Kevin’s lungs are beginning to function much better on their own. As was discussed in my previous post, we have now achieved the 50% oxygenation level we have been praying for…and may soon even be lowering that to 40%. He continues to remain heavily sedated, but they are waking him up ever 1-2 hours to check his neurological functioning…all of which continues to be right where the doctors want it to be.

The other blessing for me personally that today has brought about is that my wife, Amy, has now joined our group. This has been an emotional reunion to say the least. However, our relationship has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few days…and her presence here is both comforting and healthy for my emotional & physical well-being. Amanda’s mom, Kathy, is here now as well…and this should prove to be a similar reunion for the two of them. Kevin & Amanda’s very dear friends, Russ & Amanda Schwettmann, flew in last night and are serving the role of “gopher,” having rented a Caravan to run errands, shuttle people around, etc.

We have also now moved hotels…about 2 ½ blocks further away from our former location, but the setup in this hotel is absolutely perfect. It has a full kitchen and 4 sleeping “areas”…exactly what we need. Within ½ block there is laundry service, several restaurants/fast food, a coffee shop with GREAT coffee, and even a yoga/massage parlor (is “parlor” the right word? Makes me think of a place the VICE division of the local police might want to look into…not like that at all!) We actually purchased a 5-pack of 1-hour massages and look forward to taking advantage of that sometime next week.

Our obvious goal and BIGGEST prayer is that Kevin’s oxygen levels will continue to improve and stabilize so that his scheduled surgery for tomorrow morning will not have to be bumped. I’m sorry to say, but we will not find out about this decision until tomorrow morning…I promise to update as soon as possible. However, given how things are currently progressing, it would be safe to assume that he will operated on tomorrow morning at 9am Pacific time…11am Oklahoma time.

My time with Kevin today has been special. Though he’s very sedated, it’s clear that he knows you’re there. When he’s not too heavily sedated, he will squeeze your hand when you talk to him…clearly letting you know that he’s right there with you. The hardest part of today was waking up and learning that they had in fact had to intubate him overnight. However, after time to reflect on this course of action…I realized that my fear of Kevin’s intubation was founded in my own selfish desire to keep him alert enough for conversation. God has a way of knowing what is/is not the “best” way to answer prayer (of course)…and we need to stop and recognize that last night’s prayers, for God to both stabilize Kevin’s vitals as well has help him get comfortable, have in fact been answered! PRAISE GOD!

Today has also been a good day for my dad. Kevin’s intubation really got to him…and I think he’d already been feeling as though he’d not been able to spend much time with Kevin. For those of you who know my dad, he does best when he has a job/task to accomplish and keep him busy. He does not do well with just sitting around and waiting (apples don’t fall too far from THAT tree, eh?). I think today has provided an opportunity for my dad to express/release some of the emotions that us Johnson boys tend to be pretty good at bottling up and hiding behind the façade of keeping ourselves busy. He has also been able to spend some quiet 1-on-1 time with Kevin which has no doubt proven healthy for his soul.

Today’s events have reminded me that not only is it important to humble ourselves before God with a spirit of supplication, but it is just as, if not more important, to humble ourselves before God with a spirit of THANKSGIVING!!!!!!! Please take a moment to thank our gracious and faithful Heavenly Father for the MANY, MANY blessings and miracles he has blanketed us with over this course of the past week.

Again, we can’t thank you enough for the words of encouragement you continue to leave on this website. Don’t be afraid to post more than once. It has been an uplifting and cathartic experience for all of us to take some special time to read through your posts…and we are so very excited to be able to share these with Kevin in the days to come.

It’s been a relatively uneventful evening…praise the Lord! We’ve not had one of those for at least a couple of nights now, and it feels wonderful. Kevin’s oxygen levels continue to improve, and they are choosing to hold him at 45% oxygenation.

I was able to visit with the anesthesiologist this evening who was very impressed with Kevin’s vitals. Barring any unforeseen events this evening, we are on schedule for a 9am surgery. I also asked if he could give us a more definitive answer as to when Kevin would be taken down to prep for surgery…he was not able to be any more specific than “sometime between 6am and 7:30am. Apparently, he is scheduled to be taken at 7:30am…but there is also a notation that the head anesthesiologist wants him down there early…so, those of us sleeping at the hotel this evening (myself, Amy, Steph & my Dad) are all planning on leaving for the hospital by 5:30am tomorrow morning.

Another “good news” moment occurred with Dr. Richardson (one of the neurosurgeon residents) popped his head into Kevin’s room today just to visit. He wanted to make sure that we KNEW that he liked what he saw as far as Kevin’s vitals were concerned, and he also made a point of letting us know that BY FAR THE BEST anesthesiologist would be working with Kevin tomorrow during his procedure. I said, “That’s nice of you to say, but I’m sure you tell all of your patients that.” …to which he replied, “No, actually I don’t. When people get some of the other guys, I just don’t say anything at all…but when they get this guy (can’t remember his name), I make it a point to let them know.” God is in control!

Please say a special prayer of thanks and blessings for this Dr. Richardson. He’s a young 2nd year resident…more than likely younger than Kevin…but his demeanor and personality have been an absolute joy for both Amanda and myself. He is really a special young man and I thank God for allowing him to be involved in our lives.

Oh, and Dr. Richardson also made it a point to reiterate the fact that we were, without a doubt, in the best place to handle Kevin’s surgery. To this, I again replied, “Well, thanks…but I’m sure you tell THAT to all your patients too”…to which he replied, “Well, actually, yes. That I DO tell all of my patients.”

Segueing into a bit of a different topic…
There’s a story I’ve been holding on to…not sure if I want to share it on the blog or not. However, given the fact that we will in fact be sending our brother/husband/son/uncle/friend into perhaps one of the most precarious surgeries known to man first thing tomorrow morning, I’m willing to risk embarrassing myself and be vulnerable with the many, many people who are faithfully keeping up with Kevin’s progress via this blog.

I’ll have to back up a bit in order to set this story up. I believe it was Thursday night…the night before Kevin was flown out to San Francisco. We had quite literally been working the phones ourselves for some time trying to track down the best and brightest neurosurgeons…anywhere in the world…to see who might be willing to simply LOOK at Kevin’s case, let alone accept it. Slowly, one after another, we were being told “Oh, that doctor’s on vacation for the next week/s (this happened with 3 doctors)” or quite simply “We’re sorry, but that’s not something we’re willing to take on (we heard this answer several times).” We were getting awfully close to the edge of the proverbial cliff.

Then, Dr. Tytle (our interventional radiologist from Mercy in OKC) called the family together to announce that he had heard back from not one, but two doctors who had agreed to take on Kevin’s case…one in Chicago and the other in San Francisco. WHEW…words simply cannot describe the joy and HOPE this news had brought all of us. We spent the next 30 minutes or so picking Dr. Tytle’s brain as well as Dr. Pelofsky’s brain via telephone as to the pro’s/con’s of each doctor/hospital/support staff/location/etc. About this time, Dr. Tytle bolted from the room (he’s a bit of a “bolter” if that’s even a word…always on the run and professional multi-tasker). A few minutes later, he brought back into the room Dr. Reynolds, a neurosurgeon there at Mercy Hospital. Dr. Tytle had taken Dr. Reynolds back into his office to quickly review Kevin’s films and then brought him back to visit with us as to his recommendation on timing/location/ect. Dr. Reynolds was such a blessing! First, he made us mentally change gears from Kevin’s condition being something that could wait several days to repair into something that needed immediate intervention. He was also able to help us discuss some of the pro’s/con’s with both hospitals.

The most difficult part of this process was actually part of the blessings. We had gone from having ZERO options to now having two. Compounding matters was the fact that there was no “clear” winner in terms of where we would like to send Kevin. Obviously, your mind starts to wonder as to whether or not you’re making the right decision. Once we had finished our “research” on the two locations, I could tell that Amanda was beginning to have a peace with one of the two locations…as was I and maybe even a few others in the room. At this point I suggested that we each take about 20 minutes, go and find a quiet little nook someplace, and allow God’s infinite wisdom to help guide us in our decision-making process.

It was at this point that I found myself headed towards the “The Room.” When I say “The Room,” I am referring to the room where Dr. Tytle led the family on the first day of this journey in order to brief us on what was seen by the angiogram. This room was not a fun experience for me and, to be honest with you, I really have no idea why I chose to go back into that room…any other time, I would’ve avoided it like the plague. Fortunately it was still empty, so I let myself in and literally fell to the floor and buried my face in the carpet in an act of humility before God. I prayed that God would grant us a peace as to where we should take Kevin, and I also pleaded with God to not take my little brother from me.

After a good cry and cathartic (I’m using that word a lot, eh?) confrontation with God, I opened my eyes and began to sit up. However, to my immediate left, something caught my eye. I looked over, and it was this silly little binder clip…one of those you would use to hold several pieces of paper together with the 2 long silver pieces that you bend back to allow you to pinch it open, and the fold them back down…making sense? Anyway, this was nothing out of the ordinary…right? Except this one was bright red. Don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a bright red binder clip in my life. Amazing, right? Of course not…however, what WAS amazing is that at that moment, I experienced the most amazing sensation of peace for the first time ever in this process. I KNEW we needed to go to San Francisco. I KNEW Dr. Lawton was the right doctor for Kevin…I could go on and on here…

So, the next time you see me…you’ll have to ask to see my “Peace Clip.” I’ve clipped this little guy onto my cell phone holster in such a position that when I begin to feel anxious as to what’s going on, and just reach for my Peace Clip and rub away…reminding myself that God has Kevin here as part of HIS perfect plan. I can’t promise that when you see my Peace Clip that it will still be red, but I’m sure you’ll understand.

I’ll leave you with this…
Amanda Johnson is one amazing girl. Her faith is unwavering, and I am utterly humbled beyond description by her steadfast determination to see Kevin through this difficult time. I love this girl so much because of how I see her loving my brother. I absolutely relish the special moments/conversations/emotional outpourings we’ve shared with each other these past few days…especially since arriving in San Francisco. I’ve always loved Amanda…but I now truly love her like my sister, not just my sister-in-law.

Amanda left me with an amazing note to post on here this evening. It’s divinely fitting that it be posted the night before Kevin’s big day. I can’t think of a scripture that is more fitting from Kevin’s perspective and hope that you will hold it close to your heart throughout the day tomorrow as well as the days to come…

From Amanda:
Friday night God gave me this scripture to stand firm on. How profound – it will be Kevin’s story and I believe that he will one day use this scripture in his testimony!
“I will NOT die but LIVE, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”

Psalm 118:17

Kevin experienced a VERY stable night...this first in quite some time. His vitals all look great and the doctors wheeled him off to the O.R. around 7:40am this morning.

I had been a bit anxious as to how the entire "sending off" process was going to work...fearful that if the entire family was simply waiting in the hall to see him off, it could become pretty emotional...and for my mom and Amanda's sake, I did not want this. However, God continues to flood the entire process with His divine wisdom and actually provided for a brief period of time when each of us who did not stay overnight at the hospital with Kevin was able to spend some precious moments with him in the moments leading up to the next step of this amazing journey.

We currently have set up "base camp" in one of the surgical waiting rooms where we will be given updates approximately every 2 hours. We also have the comfort of knowing that any time we would like an update, all we have to do is ask and they will get one for us.

1. That God would envelope us with a peace that can only come from Him. This morning has been very difficult on all of us, but especially my Mom.
2. Supernatural stamina and wisdom for all doctors, nurses, scrub techs, etc.

Will do my best to update as we are given new information.

Have been updated twice as to Kevin's condition...the first was to tell us that they had begun the operation and the 2nd (about 10:50am...roughly 25 minutes ago) was to let us know that everything was going well and that Kevin was doing fine.

I have more to post, but know you all are anxious to hear that he is doing well. Will post again shortly.

Amanda was able to visit with Dr. Lawton this morning before they took Kevin down to the O.R. This was a blessing for her to have had this opportunity to visit, albeit briefly, with the man whom God will be directly using as an instrument of His magnificent plan. She said that Dr. Lawton just had a way about him that put her at ease…and that she was able to express to him that literally thousands of people were praying not only for Kevin at this very moment…but for him as well.

Another point to mention that I don’t think I’ve brought up until now (I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I have)…as mentioned in an earlier post, most of the doctors we were attempting to contact while we were still in OKC were either unwilling to take on Kevin’s case, or they were simply on vacation. Dr. Lawton was one of the doctors who was on vacation…in Lake Tahoe. However, his staff was able to get in touch with him, and his immediate interest and passion (that we were hearing about via Dr. Tytle at Mercy) in Kevin’s case is what initially and immediately gave us a peace about bringing Kevin to San Francisco. According to Dr. Tytle, Dr. Lawton literally gave him about 5 different phone numbers so that we could get back in touch with him to let him know of our ultimate decision as to where we be taking Kevin.

What at first was a source of frustration (the fact that Dr. Lawton was on vacation) was quickly turned around into a blessing…as was pointed out by Amanda, this guy’s going to be completely rested up and re-energized for Kevin’s surgery!!! Praise God! This will be incredibly important because, as Amanda learned while visiting with Dr. Lawton this morning, he fully expects the surgery to take every bit of 8 hours…if not longer.

Mom is doing better. Your prayers are working. Her nervous system is just literally shot after spending so many nights “sleeping” in the hospital. She explained that mentally, she has God’s peace…but that her body is just needing time to bring itself back down from all of the emotion she was able to express immediately following Kevin’s departure for the O.R.

It’s funny how God puts the right people in your life at the right time. We continue to meet new people who are able to say the right things at the right time to keep our spirits up. We are currently enjoying visiting with another family facing a crisis similar to ours. Their 28-year old son/brother was taken back for brain surgery this morning…same time as Kevin. He has a tumor the size of a racket ball that’s pressing on his brain stem. They have known about his condition for 3 months now, and today, much like ours, is their culmination of many, many miracles in getting him into the operating room. My prayer is that through our conversation, we might establish a spiritual bond that both moms (mine and his) might be able to take advantage of during this most difficult of days.

Received another quick update…all is well.

Got an email from my cousin Kim (thanks!) with a couple of pictures from this morning’s prayer meeting at Casady. In true Kevin fashion, they couldn’t get out of there w/out taking at least one goofy picture.

These have brought a smile to all of our faces. Thank you ALL so very, very, very much.

The faces of pure joy…

I took these quick shots with my cell phone camera not more than 10 minutes after our visit with Dr. Lawton.

Wow…I’m really having trouble knowing where to even begin this evening’s update. Obviously, the most important piece of information has already been conveyed. Hallelujah! What in incredibly poignant miracle in a long line of miracles…obviously, this is the best news we have had in quite some time and clears perhaps the biggest hurdle we may face…and without a doubt the largest to date.

It is important, however, that I reiterate the fact that Kevin is not out of the woods. I’ve struggled with how best to convey this message because the last thing I want to do is take away from the celebration and prayers of thanksgiving being expressed all across the country (and even the world…literally) for Kevin’s successful surgery. Believe me when I say that there is PLENTY of reason to celebrate and ample excuse to thank our Heavenly Father today’s events. We celebrated mightily this evening and can only imagine the celebrations all across the country that took place as news spread of this joyous news. However, the prayer must now become that the swelling in Kevin’s brain would be kept to a minimum, that he would experience little to no vaso spasms, and most importantly, that when Kevin does wake up sometime over the course of the next 24 hours…that we would have the same Kevin we sent off to surgery. The risk of stroke and/or brain damage with this type of surgery is very real, and when Dr. Lawton tells us that he “thinks” things went well…most of his critique is admittedly based on intuition. They did monitor several of Kevin’s nerves within his brain during surgery…and all of the monitory indicated no adverse effects. The other good news is that there was no bleeding experienced during surgery…thereby eliminating any additional risk of longer-term vaso spasms above and beyond what he is currently facing due to the initial bleed when the aneurysm ruptured…again, a relatively small amount of blood as was discussed in an earlier post.

The events of today are worth chronicling, and I fully intend to do that. However, time will not permit me to do that at the moment, as I will be “on duty” tonight…at Kevin’s side throughout his first night post-op…and need to head back up to the hospital in order to relieve my wife. I am very excited about this…even though I’m running on about 3 hours of sleep…but God has made it abundantly clear that he will give strength to the weary. Who needs sleep anyway, huh?

More good news comes in the form of Amanda and my mom feeling comfortable enough with Kevin’s condition that they are actually going to be sleeping here at the hotel tonight. In fact, they are here now, and might have already gone in to crash. As you can imagine, the culmination of the past several day’s events can and do wreak havoc on a person’s body…mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. They are both due for a good night’s sleep.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that Amanda had snuck away in order to spend some quiet time with God. I had asked that you lift up a special prayer for her asking that this be a blessed time of reflection, thanksgiving and supplication. One thing Amanda did do during this time was put together a “blog” of her own that she’s asked me to post. Again, I cannot express to you all how amazing…I simply cannot find adequate words for what my heart feels at this very moment. My brother is so very blessed to have a wife like Amanda…and I am equally as blessed to have her as my sister-in-law.

It is important to remember that Amanda’s entry was written while Kevin was in surgery and before his successful outcome was known (in the flesh anyway) to any of us. Here’s what she had to share:

Amanda’s Blog Entry: 1-8-07…sometime around 3pm

Throughout today’s long wait, I found the Lord’s presence more near than ever. As I meditated on God’s written word, listened to praise music, and spent time in prayer, God spoke to me in a multitude of ways. I wanted to share just a glimpse of what His “peace that passes all understanding” has looked like today.

After we had the “word” that surgery had begun, I closed my eyes for yet another moment of prayer. God’s faithfulness and mercies are new every morning. I had a visual that moved me so. I saw Kevin in surgery with angels keeping charge over him … guarding him, because this is a spiritual battle at hand. Then he revealed to me the surgeon working with Jesus transposed over him holding and guiding the surgeon’s hands. Wow! What a source of peace! Just a reassurance that the
Love of My Life is not in the hands of man, but of the Lord!

Second, the song by Jeremy Camp,
“Walk by Faith” spoke hope into my heart.
The words say:
I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see.
Because this broken road, prepares your will for me.
I am broken, but I still see your face.
You have spoken, pouring your words of grace.

God’s word says to
“walk by faith and not by sight.” You know, my eyes have seen the pictures of Kj’s aneurysm and they paint an ugly picture…but the picture is only a fact of this world. God’s word is the truth! We serve a supernatural God who loves to answer His people when they cry out to him.

Third, many of you know and have been praying with us that God would give us children. This has been a heartache of ours for several years. As if He was reassuring me of His perfect plan, God showed me how much more difficult this process would have been had we already had children right now. I would be pulled in a thousand different directions during his recovery. I felt a reassurance in His perfect plan for our lives and the timing that goes along with it…not the least of which is His promise for children and His blessing me by allowing me to be able to give Kevin 100% of me right now.

Everything I need I find in Christ alone. His loving grace will see Kevin, myself, and the family through. God is my confidence and strength and He is carrying us through this. He has been our “ever present help in time of need.” What Satan means as harm, God will use for good!

You know, I knew when I married Kevin that he was an extreme man of God. Since then, we have prayed daily that God would use us and our marriage in extreme ways for his glory. Though, I know this is not God’s doing because His word says,
“his plans are to prosper Kevin, NOT to harm him…to give him a hope and a future,” we know this will be used in EXTREME ways for His glory…because “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, and who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

As my cousin Alisha said today, through this experience and Jeff’s amazing blog, we are making Jesus famous. I have specific people on my heart right now that I am praying will see Christ’s love and receive his salvation through this experience. Please pray for that with me!

I am personally overwhelmed with how God is literally using thousands of you to be His love to us through prayer. You have been monumental in my tank being full of God’s truth.

Kevin is still in surgery and it has been around 8 hours so keep being prayer warriors!

In closing, just as we ask you to pray….I feel we have so much to give Praise about. Please take time to give God the glory because He is so worthy right now.

The victory has already been won on the cross!

Psalm 118: 17
“I will NOT die, but LIVE and will proclaim what the Lord has done!”

I would also like to leave you with an email and a couple of pictures I received from a couple of Kevin’s former athletes at SGU. Brad Evans and Mich Reeves are names that I hear Kevin speak of frequently with much passion…of course, most anything Kevin speaks of is with intense passion. I’ll let their words and pictures speak for themselves:


Hey Jeff,
Mich and I (Brad) are emailing you on Amanda's request. Attached are pictures of our new tattoos. They are the Chinese Kanji characters for courageous warrior. KJ instilled so many things into our lives....he taught us to be warriors for the Lord our God, our family, our friends, and everything we believed in......he is by far an amazing warrior of God's army and we are so blessed to have been able to have him as such a major influence in our lives.....we are looking forward for KJ, AJ, (the whole johnson family) and your posse to return safely to OK because he still owes us a tattoo trip!...

Exodus 15:3 "The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name."

Continuously praying!
God is Good!

We love you guys!

Brad Evans
Mich Reeves

(These pictures should not be viewed as an endorsement, nor should the posting of these pictures be construed as the author of this web blog encouraging others to participate in this behavior…HA!)

God is so very, very good!

I’m taking my laptop up to the hospital tonight…will hopefully be able to process more of what all actually happened today. Will try to post first thing in the morning along with Kevin’s condition.

Love you all!

1-9-07…12:47am (actually posted @ 1-9-07…10:25am)
Here I sit…right at Kevin’s side. Sleep or no sleep, this is exactly where I want to be. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to realize that we have in fact come this far. I’ve not had time to really just sit and truly reflect on all that has happened cumulatively over the past 8 days. Sure, I’ve taken time to process bits and pieces of this incredible journey as time has permitted…but to truly just sit back and in a sense “read my own blog”…I don’t know that I’m even ready for that to be honest with you…not from the standpoint that I wouldn’t be able to handle the emotion it would no doubt bring to the surface, I just know that I currently do not have the level of energy necessary to accomplish such a mentally and emotionally charged event. I’m just REALLY enjoying the relative peace and quiet that is currently being offered by Kevin’s room here in the NICU. For the first time in 8 days, I feel as though I can take a breath and not have to worry about monitoring vitals, hunting down doctors, comforting family and fighting the war of doubt and unbelief that has been raging in my head for far too long. That feels incredibly good and I give God all praise, credit & glory for this bit of respite…for ALL of us.

Mom and Amanda should be fast asleep…in actual beds…with good reason to dream happy dreams. And let’s not forget my sister, Stephanie. She has been an absolute stalwart these past few nights, becoming the “nocturnal” one of the group. She has served her “role” flawlessly as night-shift leader and emotional “rock” for those of us who have needed a shoulder to cry on from time to time. My prayer is that she might now be able to catch up on her emotions…if that’s even possible???

The same can be said for KJ & AJ’s best friends, Russ & Amanda Schwettmann. They have made themselves available to us as “gophers”…even renting a mini-van in order to shuttle us & our luggage around as needed. And for those of you who know Russ, it will come as no surprise that he’s also great to keep around for a pretty good laugh every now and then as well. One example of his dry, yet witty humor occurred when we were visiting with the family in the waiting room who’s son was back in surgery at the same time as Kevin (see previous post). Somehow the topic of prayer came up and the vast numbers of people praying for Kevin, not just in Oklahoma, but all over the world. Russ commented, “Yeah, this Kevin guy’s pretty much something like Elvis back in Oklahoma.” I can’t say I disagree with him on that assessment!

Though Russ and Amanda have been here in SF almost the entire time that we have, I can’t help but think that they are probably even more disconnected from the day-to-day activities than most of you reading this blog at home. Again, like Stephanie, they have in a sense been called upon to check their emotional baggage at the door while serving a much needed and incredibly appreciated support role that has not allowed them to freely express the emotions that have no doubt been boiling just beneath the surface.

That having been said (it’s 3:40am now btw), I’d like to spend some time just journaling the events from today (well, technically yesterday). I admitted to my mom two days ago that up until the time Kevin was intubated, I found myself selfishly dreading Monday. One of the most difficult burdens to shoulder throughout this entire experience has been the fact that I, along with Amanda, have been tasked with the job of “information specialists.” What I mean by this is that anytime a doctor or nurse has needed to update the family on any new information, we have been the primary sources of contact. Bottom line, we were probably made most poignantly aware of the true gravity and seriousness of the situation we were/are up against. This is not to say that we chose to “buffer” information from other family members, but there have been times when the way in which a message is conveyed…whether it be a deep hesitant breath on the part of the doctor, or an uncomfortable choice of words used to characterize the situation…can then be re-interpreted or simply delivered with a much more positive take. Obviously, this can begin to take its toll.

The good news is that we have not had to do this for quite some time. In fact, the last time I remember hesitating to give a full-frontal account of the information we received from one of the doctors was the first night we arrived in SF and met with Dr. Isaac Fung (?...not sure of his last name). This young doctor was incredibly helpful and compassionate with how he went about explaining the true severity of Kevin’s aneurysm. He did, however, take a deep breath followed by a long sigh and shaking of his head when he first reviewed Kevin’s films. This, of course, was something Amanda & I silently agreed not to share with the rest of the group. His compassionately stated, yet non-sugar coated categorization of Kevin’s condition as “life or death” was also another piece of information we chose to keep to ourselves and instead, relay to the rest of the group that he simply reviewed Kevin’s films and agreed that this was a very difficult aneurysm.

As you can imagine, the stress that was building within my very Type-A personality climaxed with yesterday’s surgery. My faith told me that Kevin was going to be just fine, but everything the doctors were telling me had me absolutely scared to death that Kevin could/would die on the operating room table. In a sense, I almost had too much information…knowing fully the true risks and unambiguous complications posed by this incredibly intricate surgery. But, in all honesty, I simply wouldn’t have been comfortable with any other alternative.

(Now 4:52am) This morning (morning of the surgery) was no doubt divinely orchestrated. We were all able to at least see Kevin off. I was able to spend a quick moment or two with him in his room…which was very good for my soul. Amanda and my mom were also able to spend some special time with Kevin before he was taken down for surgery. I was fearful that the “send-off” might get emotionally messy…but again, God had his hand all over this event as well.

We were sent to the Surgical Waiting Area, where Amanda and my mom checked us in and gave the lady my cell phone number in case she couldn’t track us down in the waiting room. She explained that the doctor/nurses would check in every 2 hours or so to give just a quick update… “They’ve started,” or “Things are going well,” …updates of that nature.

From this point, I just tried to keep myself busy. I made the decision the night before to fast throughout this day in order to truly present myself to the Lord in a spirit of supplication. For me, this also included no coffee…as I was looking to make a sacrifice. Believe it or not, these past few days I’ve not been hungry at all…so I didn’t figure simply giving up food would be all that much of a sacrifice. Now, my coffee on the other hand…

I’m no longer making any promises as to the coherency of my writing, seeing as how it’s now 5:10am…I’m usually not much of a “nodder,” but I’m finding myself waking up with a bunch of “ssssssssssssssssssss’s” that go on and on and on for several pages.

We received updates throughout the procedure as promised. Amy and I actually headed down the road about 1 ½ blocks to a Starbucks (not for the coffee, thank you) and signed up for a T-Mobile hot-spot pass so that I could spend some time reading the many wonderful and encouraging posts you all have left at the bottom of this blog. Believe me when I say I have read and promise to read every one of them.

As the time approached 5pm, we had not received an update for more than 2 ½ hours. Some of us were beginning to feel anxious, so I went upstairs to sit and visit with my mom who was up in the 11th floor waiting room (the NICU waiting room…Kevin is on the 11th floor in the NICU…Neuro Intensive Care Unit). While up there chatting with my mom, Lisa Hannigan, Dr. Lawton’s nurse came in and asked if we could get our family to congregate in one area on the 1st floor…that Kevin was in fact out of surgery and Dr. Lawton would want to meet with us soon. My stomach began doing flips, and I’m sure if I HAD eaten something yesterday, it probably would’ve ended up somewhere other than my stomach. By her demeanor, I couldn’t tell if she was stalling b/c she new something and didn’t want to tell us on the 11th floor…however, I knew that she hadn’t been in on Kevin’s surgery, so that put my mind at ease…barely.

Once down on the 1st floor, we gathered everyone into the “Meditation Room” (no Chapels in politically correct San Francisco) for some privacy, and Dr. Lawton began his “briefing.” He started by shaking every person in the room’s hand…making direct eye contact…and sincerely asking each of us what our name was as well as what our relationship was to Kevin. Wow…talk about a calming presence.

His next three words, much like Nurse Lisa’s answer earlier yesterday (was that just yesterday?), was absolute music to our ears: “It went well.”
Wow…I could breath again! I had my notebook and pen out ready to take notes, but looking at them now, the only 2 things I have written down are…
1. “Went well” and
2. “Inter-operative angiogram looked good”

Obviously, #1 is pretty self-explanatory. #2 means basically that they performed a quick angiogram once they clipped Kevin’s aneurysm while he was still in surgery, and that it appeared as though the clipping had eliminated the aneurysm.

Now, the rest of what I’m about to say is from memory…and a very fuzzy, tired memory at that. I’ll read this again before I post to see if I still agree with it in the morning.

Dr. Lawton indicated that based on his “intuition,” he felt that the surgery went well. They do hook up tiny receptors to the various nerves that run in and around the area they were operating in…and these receptors can somehow trigger an “alarm” that tells the doctor they are being irritated, etc. He said that these “alarms” were never triggered. However, he did admit that the ultimate verdict on Kevin’s condition would not be known until he was fully out of his sedated state.

I asked if there was any additional bleeding caused as a result of surgery…no, there was not. Any swelling…yes, there would be some swelling b/c he had to manipulate the brain in order to fully access the was apparently located a bit deeper than they had originally thought. He also indicated that because he was manipulating that area of the brain, and that he had to work around Kevin’s “third optical nerve,” Kevin may experience some double vision from a few days to several weeks…but that should only be temporary.

Jumping ahead a bit in the story, once Kevin was brought back up to his room, his pupils were checked as a way to assess the swelling of his brain. His pupils appear asymmetric…different sizes. Because of this, the doctor went ahead and ordered a CT Scan, something that was on the agenda for tomorrow anyway, as a preliminary precaution to just make sure nothing was out of the ordinary. I was also able to visit with Dr. Lawton directly about this issue. He assured me that he was not worried about it, and reminded me that he did have to work around Kevin’s optic nerve and fully expected this to be the cause of the asymmetric dilations. The praise here is that Kevin’s pupils have already returned to normal and, as posted earlier, he is responding more and more positively to the neurological tests (basically the nurse will pinch Kevin’s fingers and toes looking for a reflex response) they are performing every 2 hours or so. In fact, during this most recent test, he did squeeze the nurse’s fingers with one of his hands and attempted to show the nurse “two fingers” when he was asked to do so.

Back to the “Meditation Room”…as we wrapped up our meeting with Dr. Lawton and Nurse Lisa, we were all so grateful for God’s mercy and faithfulness, we were overcome by emotion. We had our entire party in the room at this time, Russ & Amanda included. We began praising God joyfully, falling to our knees in a spirit of humble thanksgiving. Amanda S. pulled out her cell phone and began playing the song “God of Wonder”…can’t remember who sings it at the moment. We were just having our own little praise session and turning this “Meditation Room” into a “Praise and Worship Center” that would make Life Church jealous. What an amazing and special time of praise and thanksgiving this was. Emotions overflowed as we were bathed in the glory of Christ’s intimate love. Oh, what a moment in time this was! The pictures at the top of the previous post were taken near the peak of our exuberance as we wanted to share this joy that can only come from Christ the King in an attempt to say “thanks” to each and everyone of you for your fervent, ceaseless prayers.

And that pretty much brings us full circle on the events of today. Again, and I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a spoil-sport, but we’re not quite out of the woods. Here are the specific prayer requests that we would ask you to continue lifting up to our most gracious Heavenly Father to help Kevin make his way into the clearing…the clearing that is SO, SO, SO close!!!

1. Pray that Kevin would continue to respond positively to the neurological tests throughout the rest of the day today and into tomorrow.
2. Pray that Kevin would experience NO vaso spasms…after this past week, I am a new believer in praying BOLDLY, EXPECTENTLY & FERVENTLY!!!
3. Pray that the swelling on Kevin’s brain would recede quickly
4. Pray that the infection Kevin has in his lungs (more than likely a touch of pneumonia) will respond to the antibiotics
5. Pray BOLDLY, EXPECTENTLY & FERVENTLY for miraculous healing in the area of Kevin’s aneurysm that still appears “chubby” according to Dr. Lawton and that today’s post-op angiogram would leave all of the doctors scratching their heads as to where that “chubbiness” went!
6. Pray that there is no short or long term brain damage as a result of the operation!!!
7. Pray for strength for Kevin as his journey towards recovery is sure to be a long one.

Some of these are more “critical” than others, but all are extremely important in the greater picture of Kevin’s recovery and his family’s peace of mind. We trust that you will give each one your prayerful consideration.

Speaking of recovery…and again, this all depends on how the next 24-48 hours go (you know, I just realized I can start saying 12-36 hours…that sounds MUCH better)…Dr. Lawton has indicated that Kevin will more than likely stay in ICU for at least another week in order to monitor for vaso spasms (those are the things we’re BOLDLY praying do not show up at all!). Once we get past the window of potential vaso spasms, he will then be transferred out of the ICU and into a “normal” hospital room for several (?) days. We were then told that when he is released, assuming his stamina is where it needs to be, we hop on a commercial jet and fly home!

We’ve established a bit of a “theme” out here in SF of always talking about the “best-case scenario.” To date, God has remained faithful and we have NO reason to doubt that Kevin’s recovery will present anything but the best-case scenario. I want my little brother back…orneriness and all. Most importantly, I was his passion back. Kevin is defined by his passion for life. This is evident even if you don’t know him by reading the now more than 700 posts on this web blog. I REALLY enjoyed reading the post from Lori Carter about Kevin influencing (or just down right guilt-tripping) you into dancing in the locker room for your girls basketball team. That is Kevin! His life is defined by the passion he has for everyone and everything he loves so dearly. That is the Kevin I want back from this experience. That is the Kevin for whom, even as I type this, God is creating such a powerful and COMMANDING testimony. We are all “looking for the fruit” David. Thanks so much for sharing YOUR inspiring story…and yes, I would love for you and Kevin to hook up once we get back to compare scars and “fruit.”

The picking’s pretty darn good out here in SF these days. My prayer is that we can find a way to share this bountiful harvest with others who are hungry for God’s peace…even as we make our way through these next several days here at UCSF. Amanda and I have already talked about, when the time is right, trying to return some of the support we’ve received…maybe by visiting the Children’s floor of the same hospital we’re in (we’re on floor 11…kids are on 6) to visit/play with some of the kids down there who are battling cancer, etc. That will be difficult for me to do…but humbling as well. And I’m positive that is one of the many lessons God is teaching me through this experience.

1-9-07…9:00am = POST BY GENE JOHNSON
Precious friends (and strangers)…
Words cannot describe my heartfelt appreciation for your concerns and expectant, persistent prayers---they were certainly felt and heard.

As our blood pressure and anxiety has gone down to be replaced with joy, thankfulness and blessed hope, we rejoice and give glory to our Lord.

We are not out of the woods completely---so please continue to pray for Kevin’s recovery and give thanks to the Almighty for all He has already done. Many lives have been touched and we rejoice in His name.

-Gene (Kevin’s Dad)

Been a bit behind on my uploading this morning. I promised a few people I would get the previous post, including my dad’s comments, up about 2 hours ago…so sorry for that!

We continue to get good news on Kevin’s condition…however, there is still lots to be determined. Please, please, please reference the 7 specific prayer requests mentioned above!!!!!!! I will promise to keep you posted as God faithfully answers each of them.

Kevin is scheduled to be taken down later this after noon for a routine post-op angiogram. This will allow them to view an “after” shot of what his veins/arteries look like now that the surgery has been completed. They did do an “inter-operative” angiogram during surgery as well and were pleased with the results they saw there. This angiogram is for the purpose of again checking the placement of the clips and mapping the current blood flow, but it will also be used to check for any signs of vaso spasm. The doctors speak as if they expect to see some degree of spasming…but I know my God is bigger than their thoughts. It would absolutely make my day if they came back and said, “You know what, we didn’t see anything!” If they do, they will treat with medication…so would not be terrible news. But just think of what God has done this far…and think of Kevin’s unfolding testimony as it is being written before our eyes!

The other HUGE revelation today’s angiogram will show is how well Dr. Lawton and his team (well, God…through Dr. Lawton and his team) was able to address the part of Kevin’s aneurysm that extended over onto one of the branching arteries…the “chubby section.” How much PEACE and RELIEF we would feel if the angiogram showed that they were in fact able to address this area more significantly than originally thought…again, all a part of a greater story.

Again, PLEASE reference the 7 requests listed above. They are the 7 largest hurdles remaining for Kevin’s full recovery.

We’re having a GREAT day. My time with Kevin last night was PRICELESS. I’ve had 3 hours of sleep in the last 72 (?) hours…and I’m completely wired! I’m being forced to go back to the room to sleep…which is probably a good thing…yeah, ok, it’s a good thing.

I’m all about the little things…as is Kevin. We’ve always gotten a kick out of the small “insignificant” coincidences life often presents. When he wakes up, I think he will be amazed to hear that the portion of his skull that was removed in order to perform his brain surgery was re-attached using Stryker plates and screws. Good work fellas! Now we’ll just have to watch him to make sure he doesn’t get too close to any microwaves or else he might pee his pants…HA! Actually, I asked Dr. Lawton’s nurse about that this morning and she said it wouldn’t be a problem. But you guys just play along with me anyway…he’ll never know the difference. Come on…you know he’d do the same to me!

I think I got some really good sleep…woke up around 9pm feeling pretty refreshed. I don’t remember stirring once from about 1pm to 9pm, so thank You for that Lord.

Part of this update is pretty straight forward…while other parts I still don’t completely understand b/c I’m being updated by family here at the hotel, so I’ve not been able to ask my usually long slate of questions when the doctor/nurse is in the room. I will do my best to gain some clarity on these matters and try to post later this evening…but probably not until first thing tomorrow morning.

First, praise the Lord…there are NO signs of vaso spasms!!! Thank you all for praying expectantly and fervently!!! Lisa the nurse also mentioned that she feels as though we have reached the peak point for the potential of experiencing these spasms, so she is pretty confident that they will be a non-issue. Wow…one down, several others to go…

The Interventional Radiologist (doctor who did Kevin’s angiogram earlier today) said that the clipping of the aneurysm looks great…they were able to address a portion of the “chubby” segment, but that it will obviously need to be monitored closely…not in the sense that they’ll be looking every hour…but that Kevin will have to be monitored via various methods (scans, CTA’s…possibly even the occasional angiogram) for the rest of his life. We’re OK with this. I have other thoughts on this as well, but not sure that I’m ready to discuss them just yet.

The angiogram did show a narrowing of one of the vessels on the left side of Kevin’s brain…apparently, this is not unusual post-op and not a big surprise, but is being addressed by raising Kevin’s blood pressure to ensure that his brain is receiving an adequate supply of blood. This will also serve as an additional defense in decreasing the chances of experiencing vaso spasm…I just praise God that we are to a point now where we CAN raise Kevin’s blood pressure!

WOW! Amanda just called me with some GREAT news. Actually, 2 pieces of great news. I’m having trouble typing because my hands are a bit shaky, actually…but for good reason. Kevin is now opening his eye (I say “eye” b/c his right eye is swollen shut from the surgery. He looks like he spent an evening as the practice dummy at Fight Club). He had not opened his eye since coming out of surgery, and even just a few minutes ago when the nurse most recently prompted him to open his eye, he still was not responding…though he was responding nicely to squeezing hands, giving a “thumbs up” sign (kind of becoming our motto!) and wiggling his toes. Amanda readily admitted that her spirits were down a bit this evening because of some issues Kevin is experiencing with his heart/lungs which I will get to in a moment…but this is absolutely WONDERFUL NEWS. PRAISE GOD!!!! Praise Him not only for the miraculous things he is doing with Kevin, but also for these little pieces of “fruit” his family is finding along the way that continue to bolster OUR spirits. I continue to remind Amanda that for every not-so-good development, God has been faithful in rewarding our journey with news/developments that far exceed our expectations!!!

The 2nd piece of good news has to do with Kevin’s breathing. As you are aware, he has been intubated now for 3 full days (at least…starting to lose track). His breathing had become an issue earlier today when he was taken down for his angiogram where he was required to lay flat on his back for an extended period of time. During this time, his breathing became very shallow. All of his vitals remained in good condition, but they just didn’t like what they were seeing with his breathing…thought that his lungs might be filling with fluid again as a result of being flat on his back. Long story short, Kevin is now breathing on his own! They do still have the breathing tube in Kevin that is supplying him w/ a higher % of oxygen than you and I are breathing, but the machine is no longer breathing FOR Kevin. According to the Respiratory Therapist, Kevin is doing everything on his own, just receiving a little bit of oxygen. In fact, they discussed extabating (removing the breathing tube) Kevin tonight, but have decided to leave it until tomorrow in order to just monitor Kevin throughout the night. Wow! We had just heard earlier today that it could be 3 more days before they were going to remove the breathing tube…this is another “feel good” update for me personally! Yeah!

They will probably at some point tonight be inserting a feeding tube…no big deal. With the level of sedation Kevin is under, coupled with the fact that Kevin may require some time to regain his ability to swallow, I’d sure as heck want a feeding tube as well! We’re now in the process of trying to figure out how to fit a nice fillet, several pieces of pepperoni pizza and ½ dozen Krispy Kremes through that little opening.

The only new area of concern has to do with Kevin’s heart. Admittedly, this is an area of the update that I’m still a bit foggy on. Obviously, the brain controls ALL functions within the body…including the heart. There is a concern based on an EKG done today on Kevin’s heart that it may in fact be “stunned” a bit from either the surgery or the aneurysm itself…this may be one of those things from which it just takes a few days to bounce back. Today’s EKG was compared with the readings taken from an EKG performed while we were at Mercy in OKC, and they both looked to show the same potential abnormality. Amanda would ask that, although the issue with Kevin’s heart may not be anything significant, to please lift it up in prayer.

In an attempt to keep everyone out there up to speed as to what we’ve been told to expect with Kevin’s recovery, in speaking with Lisa (Dr. Lawton’s nurse) this morning, she indicated that because one of Kevin’s optical nerves (third optical nerve? Jenn, let me know if this is right) was so highly irritated and “shocked” by the long surgery yesterday, she fully expects that it will take him 2-4 weeks, even longer, before he is able to open his right eye. Once he regains the ability to open his eye, he will then experience double vision as that nerve also controls his ability to move his right eye. I asked about the need for vision therapy, and she said it’s simply one of those things you have to let the body heal on its own. This is obviously not a big deal to any of us…just something to help keep you all in the loop and yet another item to add to your list of prayers.

I’ll leave you with a quote Karee Patterson emailed me earlier today:
Don’t tell God how big your storm is --- Tell your storm how big your God is!
We’re talking (as are all of you) …and the storm is listening!

Please continue to lift up our 7 requests posted earlier today. Thank you all for your loving, prayerful support. We love you all!

WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!! I literally just had a “conversation” with Kevin! I noticed him start to move both of his arms around a bit, so I hopped up, grabbed his hand, and began talking to him.

“Kevin, squeeze my hand if he could hear me…SQUEEZE…ok, I’m right here man. How are you feeling? Are you in a little bit of pain?... SQUEEZE…ok, I’ll grab the nurse and have him give you some medicine. Kevin, you’re AMAZING…you are doing SO WELL! Do you know that you’re finished with your surgery? …SQUEEZE… Good…well, it went very, very well. Do you want me to stop talking to you and let you rest? squeeze…Great, you’re really blowing all of the doctors away. I know you’re pretty uncomfortable right now, but these guys are taking great care of you and you just need to rest right now. Do you want some socks? (He’s funny about wanting his socks on)…no squeeze…Ok, great. We’ll just leave you alone then. I’m going to sit in this chair here right by the bed, you OK with that?... SQUEEZE…Great. I’ll be right here…if you want me to talk some more, just move your hand around a bit and I’ll see you. I love you man…you’re doing GREAT!

What a refill! That was some pretty sweet & juicy fruit right there. God is good! I’m starting to realize what a true statement of truth Life Church’s motto is when they say GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME & ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD Thank you Jesus for that special moment with Kevin.

Dr. Richardson came by a bit ago and was very pleased with Kevin’s progress. See’s no problem with removing his breathing tube sometime this morning. Gib, Kevin's nurse, is giving him a bath at the me a chance to pop out here and post these updates from last night.
God is good!

I’m back at the hotel. Nothing but good news to report. Amy (who is also here at the hotel) just talked w/ Amanda and the doctors were either in the process of taking out Kevin’s breathing tube, or just about to start. Praise God for this “unexpected fruit”…as we were told to expect Kevin’s breathing tube to be in place for at least another day or two.

A funny “Kevin” story before I forget…
Apparently during the drama we experienced the other night when Kevin’s oxygenation levels were well below what they should have been (I was not in the room at the time), the respiratory therapist (RT) told Kevin that he was going to make him wear an oxygen mask that created a seal around his nose and mouth and actually Velcro’d behind his head. As the RT was in the process of putting the mask on Kevin, he raised his arms and said something to the effect of, “Wait a minute, wait a minute…can I French kiss my wife first?” Well, Amanda…not hearing the “French” portion of Kevin’s request…thought it was awfully sweet that Kevin wanted to kiss her before he has this mask put on. So, she leans down to give him a kiss to find his tongue probing her mouth.
This was also occurring at the same time that Kevin was not being allowed any liquids…so one could hypothesize that it was a rather clever ploy on Kevin’s part to try and get a little more moisture into his mouth…???

OK…back to the update…
Kevin continues to “wake up” from his anesthesia…slowly…but each “awakening” continues to show signs of improvement. Amanda and I were able to visit again with Nurse Lisa this morning. She was very impressed with Kevin’s progress. In fact, three other medical professionals (one RT and two doctors) have each expressed excitement and even surprise (each at different time) as to how much improvement Kevin has made within the past 48 hours…and just how great he is doing in general! It felt awfully good this morning when these doctors and RT poked their heads into Kevin’s room to check out his vitals and said things like, “Wow…that’s great!” and “Boy, he looks really good!” I’ll take this any day over what we’ve become accustomed to hearing.

Back to Nurse Lisa’s visit…
One concern we expressed in a recent update was the fact that Kevin’s heart was showing some form of irregularity on both EKG’s that had been taken since his aneurysm ruptured…on prior to surgery, the other post-op. I was not able to visit with any doctors about this last night, so this morning was my first opportunity to really try to wrap my head around the issue. The bottom line is there might be an underlying problem with Kevin’s heart, but then again, there might not be…it could be related to the trauma experienced by his brain, or it might have no correlation whatsoever. Clear enough for ya? Basically, Lisa said that she really wasn’t all that worried about it (a position that was later echoed by Dr. Lawton…Praise God!), but that they noticed something was irregular and they wanted to check it out. She explained that it could be something the Kevin was just born with…said that there are tons of people walking around the streets with heart conditions like this, and that’s it’s no big deal. She also indicated that they’ve seen patients in the past who’ve experience trauma to the brain who then go on the exhibit similar symptoms to what Kevin is showing…in fact, prior to a recent study conducted by one of THEIR doctors on this VERY condition, it was thought that these patients were experiencing a minor heart attack (that’s NOT what we’re seeing here people…she was just explaining the full scenario), but that the UCSF doctor’s research concluded that it was not in fact a heart attack because heart attacks to not heal themselves and recover…but that patients who do experience this condition post-op DO recover with time. So, the REAL bottom line is that Kevin’s heart, if in fact there is an “issue,” is more than likely just “stunned” after the trauma his brain has experienced via the ruptured aneurysm. AND, if this IS the case…they have a cardiologist familiar with the case who will jump in if/when needed at a moment’s notice. Whew…sure hope that made sense!

About this same time, my dad was arriving at the hospital and actually caught the same elevator with Dr. Lawton. He said Dr. Lawton commented on how well Kevin was doing, confirmed everything I just regurgitated above about not being concerned about the heart issue, and went on to say, “You know…I’ve had an awful lot of people calling to check in on Kevin. Even Stryker (Kevin’s employer) has called several times for updates.” Let me take just a minute to brag on Stryker. Not only have Kevin’s coworkers joined the chorus of the multitude of prayer warriors we have battling for us…they also paid for our entire family to fly out here to San Francisco. They have also been incredibly kind with Kevin’s paycheck arrangements into the immediate future. Aaron Chester, Kevin’s immediate supervisor, stopped by Mercy several times before we made the trip to SF bringing food, magazines, etc….and I know for a fact that several other Stryker employees/coworkers/friends have stopped by and/or called numerous times during this experience. Thank you all so very much for this incredible support. You have blessed us not only with your kind words and diligent prayers, but by offering/demanding to shoulder a portion of the burden that, though it is the least of our concerns at this moment in time, will at some point have to be realized. I would encourage everyone reading this blog to go out and buy at least 100 shares of Stryker stock (I actually own some myself…prior to this experience, but plan on purchasing more!)…their symbol is SYK…(I’m joking of course…actually, I’m not…but I am trying to throw a bit of humor in here and there.)

Speaking of Stryker…
I mentioned in a previous post that the portion of Kevin’s skull that was removed in order to perform the surgery on his aneurysm was reattached using Stryker plates and screws. I told Nurse Lisa that it’s just too bad he’s in the Ortho division, or he could have made a commission on his own surgery. I also jokingly mentioned to Lisa that both Kevin and Amanda clean up pretty nice…that they were a darn good looking couple…and if UCSF ever needed to film a commercial promoting their neurosurgical services, they’d be one heck of a story. Lisa said, “You know, we actually DO film those types of commercials…” Oh boy, this thing continues to grow. She also mentioned that UCSF has an “Aneurysm Foundation,” and that they have a “walk” every May as a fundraiser. She then said, “I think we may be making a call to Stryker here in a few months about these two.” This is of course NOTHING of significance in the grand scheme of things…just something I wanted to record in my “journal” for personal reasons…but thought you might enjoy hearing about it as well.

I must admit that I had my feelings hurt earlier this morning. I’d been telling Kevin what time it was and that Amanda would be coming to his room soon. Each time the nurse would do his check, he would ask Kevin to open his eye for him (again, eye not eyes…see previous post) and he was not doing this, though he had done it yesterday. So, what happens when Amanda walks in the room and tells him good morning??? Yeah, yeah…she’s better looking than me so I can’t really hold it against him.

Perhaps the most incredibly awesome “God-thing” that’s happened today occurred this morning when I was in the cafeteria getting some dinner (yes, dinner at 7:00am). I was getting my coffee when I noticed a lady out of the corner of my eye who had what appeared to be a funny looking haircut. Upon closer examination, a portion of the right side of her head was shaved, and she had a long scar that looked remarkably like Kevin’s incision. My curiosity getting the best of me, I simply walked up to her and said, “Pardon me, but have you had aneurysm surgery?” She confirmed my suspicions, saying that she had had her surgery about 6 weeks ago and was back for her first checkup with Dr. Lawton. Wow…up to this point, I had not taken any time whatsoever to even allow myself to visualize this portion of our journey. I quickly explained my curiosity and, tearing up, expressed to her how comforting, energizing and medicinal seeing her here had been for my heart. I ended up sitting with Kelli, along with her mom, Jewel, for about 20 minutes while we ate our breakfast/dinner…well, I didn’t do much eating. I resisted the temptation to ask if I could “pick her brain” (cue snare drum & symbol), but just asked she’d be willing to visit with me about her experience immediately post-op and what was/wasn’t good/bad, helpful, appropriate, frustrating, etc.

She freely shared her story with me, explaining that she had been a drug abuser for many years, and had actually been “drugging” the night her aneurysm ruptured. When she collapsed, she just assumed it was due to the drugs, but she went on to explain that what had saved her was her friend’s dog…every time she started to fall asleep, this dog would put its little wet nose against her own and wake her up. This happened 4-5 times before she decided to call one of her friends and have them take her to the hospital. What was cute was that her mom leaned over to me and said, “I think Dr. Lawton did a little something “extra” while he was in there because she’s a different person now! She never used to want to stop doing drugs and now she’s excited to be clean!” Kelli was very proud to share that today celebrated her 50th day of sobriety…Praise God!

I excused myself from their table knowing that I was supposed to be meeting my sister for breakfast and needed to be looking for her. Once we hooked up, all I could talk about was Kelli and her amazing story and how it had been such an infusion of joy for my spirit. On our way out of the cafeteria, I took Stephanie over to meet Kelli, and in the few moments Stephanie spent with her, she too experienced such a rush of positive emotions. On our elevator ride back up to the 11th floor, we decided that we would tell Amanda about our experience with Kelli and encourage her to make the trip down to the 2nd floor and visit with her as well. My only concern was that given the time (now about 8:15am), I didn’t want Amanda to miss the opportunity to visit with Nurse Lisa. However, after visiting with Amanda, she decided that she would very much like to meet Kelly, and that I would stay in Kevin’s room with the goal of visiting with Lisa when she made her rounds. Long story sorta short, Amanda was able to visit with Kelli…experienced the same emotional high that the two of us were fortunate to share…and made it back up to the 11th floor in plenty of time to see Nurse Lisa.

Please take a moment to praise God for this most important “piece of fruit” He blessed us with this morning. Ask for special blessings for Kelli, her health, her new-found sobriety and her mother, Jewel. I shared the URL of this website with Kelli and pray that she’s comfortable with all that I’ve shared from our experience this morning. Just know that you were a witness to our family this morning. Your good health and wonderful smile shone deep within my heart…God literally USED YOU as an instrument of hope this morning, and I pray that He blesses you abundantly for that.

It’s now 2:23pm…I’m going to work on getting some sleep as I plan on manning the fort again this evening. It’s funny because I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to find internet access throughout the day to post updates. I learned this morning that if I’d just plug the dang thing into the wall in our own stinkin’ room, we’ve got a live connection right there…not 8 inches away from where I’ve spent my last 2 nights. But, even this has been ordained by God…for had I known this, I would not have spent near as much time in prayerful reflection these past two nights. God TRULY is in control. Sometimes, we don’t even know what it is that we really need…or that what we WANT or WISH we had isn’t what is best for us at that particular time. I’ll be sending my computer back up to the hospital with Amy for Amanda to use. She’s mentioned putting together another post for the blog (sorry to put you on the spot dear…but you’ve got a following!). I’m sure I’ll “visit” again with you all tonight.
Our list of 7 requests is still what we’re asking be lifted up in prayer. Some have already been answered to one degree or another. But we still have a long way to go.

The most important piece of info…Kevin is doing well. I will elaborate on his condition later, but I will not wait to give God the glory for his continued improvement.

Before I forget, just a quick bit of technical info for all who are faithfully checking this website for updates. As you may have noticed, some of the posts people are leaving at the bottom of this page are appearing more than once. My theory as to why this is happening is that if you are leaving the same webpage open on your computer & just hitting the “refresh” button to check for updates, you may possibly be reposting your comments…this would definitely be the case if your still have the text of your message in the posting box at the bottom of the page and continue to his “refresh.” Might be a good idea to just go ahead and close out this page and open a fresh browser to get back here. As a reminder, the shortcut URL is and the actual URL is You can also access the page by visiting and clicking on the first gallery entitled “Kevin’s Update Blog.” This last option will also allow you to view all of the other photo galleries within my website for additional Kevin/Johnson family pictures.

Part of my mental and emotional journey this past week and a half has included “acts and decisions of faith”…in other words, putting my belief that God is in control into physical action through the things that I say and do. I explain all of this to preface the fact that when Amy flew out to SF this past Sunday, one thing I asked for her to bring for me was my camera. Those of you who don’t know me may thing…well, big deal…the guy wants his camera. Well, those who do know me know that this was no small feat for Amy. My camera bag probably weighs more than the bag Amy packed for herself and includes somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 lenses, a large camera body, etc. I had actually ordered myself a new camera the week before Kevin’s aneurysm, so she had this to contend with as well. If you’d asked me 2 weeks ago how I enjoy dealing with stress and expressing myself, I would have quickly answered “Through the lenses of my camera.” (Obviously, writing this blog has provided me with a much unanticipated and greatly appreciated release…and I can only thank Mrs. Lawson, Mrs. Scoville and Ms. McIntyre for actually focusing on WRITING while we were all surely whining about the many papers we were required to produce throughout middle school and high school.) This (photography) is a hobby in which I’ve been interested for as long as I can remember…something I picked up from my Dad. I even took a photography class at Santa Barbara Christian School way back in the 6th or 7th grade where we learned the basics of shutter speed, aperture & f/stops, ISO, depth of field…and even learned how to develop our own film. Well, thank the Lord for technology and digital photography…no more smelly chemicals for one thing…but with the advent of Photoshop, even the most amateur photographer can look like he knows what he’s doing from time to time. I look forward to taking some time over the course of the next week or so to actually having some “photo-therapy sessions”…to walk the streets of my new surroundings capturing the many incredible sights/sounds/people we’ve been so fortunate to experience. I will also, per Kevin’s request, be documenting his recovery in pictures. We’ve already started this via camera phones and point & shoot cameras. I don’t plan on posting any of these pictures…at least not anytime soon…and definitely not until Kevin & Amanda both are comfortable with that idea.

I got some more good rest today…sleeping from about 3:30pm until midnight. Before going to sleep, I texted Amanda asking for a quick update on our boy so that I might sleep peacefully.
Here was her response: awesome…tube has been out for 2 ½ hours. He tries to mouth stuff a little but can’t understand it yet. He kissed me twice.
I replied: I am so happy for u…relish in these moments…they are truly God’s gift to u for your unwavering faith. I love u…tell kev I luv him 2 and will see him soon.
She also indicated a bit later that he had reached up for her face…undoubtedly an equally special moment for Amanda.
What more can I add to that?!?!?!?!

Dr. Lawton and Nurse Lisa also stopped by this evening…both very pleased with the progress Kevin is making. They feel comfortable that the signs we are seeing now indicate that we will in fact be getting OUR Kevin back!!! Praise your name Lord! Someone posted a comment on the blog earlier today or yesterday…I can’t remember exactly who it was…but I shared it with my mom earlier today and it really seemed to lift her spirits. Within her post, she commented that she was positive that we would NOT be getting the same Kevin back from surgery…but that we would be getting a BETTER Kevin back from surgery. You were the first to verbalize what we’ve all been thinking all along. God’s mercy and, in succession, His PLAN for Kevin is no doubt being written as one of the most IMPRESSIVE testimonies I’ve ever witnessed.

Lawton and his nurse also commented about the echocardiogram that Kevin had had performed earlier today. Lawton said that they had not heard back from the cardiologist…which in and of itself was good news. They again reiterated that this was not an issue that was concerning them…and that since they had not heard back from the cardiologist, they could assume that the cardiologist had not seen anything to prompt a quick response. Praise God!

A respiratory therapist (RT) stopped by about 2 hours ago and was very pleased with Kevin’s oxygen levels. He explained that Kevin did still have a build up of fluid in his lungs, but that this was showing definite improvement, even over the past 2 hours. Her performed some oxygen therapy on Kevin (Kevin slept through the whole thing) and said that Kevin was doing so well that he was going to start waiting 4 hours in between treatments.

When I showed up this evening to relieve my dad (around 1am), Kevin was awake but had just been given a fresh dose of pain meds. My dad, for as long as I can remember, has always told us “mañana” as in “hasta mañana”…or “see you tomorrow” or “until tomorrow” in Spanish. Tonight, as he was leaving to head back to the hotel, he told Kevin he loved him and said “mañana”…to which I clearly saw Kevin mouth back “mañana.” That did my heart good…and I can only imagine how encouraging it must have been for my dad.

Tonight, I leave you with a post from Donnie Bostwick, assistant men’s basketball coach at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, AR. Many of you may have already seen this post, but I thought it was just too good to risk letting it get lost in the now nearly 1,000 posts left on this web blog in the last 5 days…yeah, wow huh?!?! For those of you who don’t know Kevin personally, I believe this post will “introduce” you to the Kevin you have been so fervently praying for on our behalf as it speaks to Kevin’s true spirit as an encourager and amazing Warrior for Christ. If you’re interested in hearing this message, I’ve attempted to upload it…so, just cross your fingers and
CLICK HERE. You might need to disable any pop-up blockers (hold down the “Ctrl” key while clicking on the link) in order to get the page to load. Once the page loads, you’ll have to click on the little arrow next to the word “Play”…and if you can’t figure that out, you probably shouldn’t be on the internet in the first place.

Post from Coach Bostwick
Got to post something after reading the last post, I could run all the way to Cali and back. High fiving or chest bumping people in every town the whole way. Beating Satan again, got to love it. Jeff you mentioned in your last update another "God Thing" today. IT WAS A GOD THING is honestly my favorite saying. I have it engraved on the inside of the ring I received after we won the NAIA championship two years ago. Anybody that saw our team play knew it was a miracle. Every time anyone ask about the ring I just say IT WAS A GOD THING. "God Thing" may be Kevin's middle name when he gets back to Oklahoma. The reason I mention it is because of the message Kevin left on my answering machine when I got home from Kansas City. I debated on whether to post it or not because of length and most don't know the whole story but I believe those of you who know Kevin well would enjoy reading it so hear goes. Also please understand that I have always felt Kevin is twice the Godly man I am so when reading the message you might understand why I saved this message on cassette and listen to it often as inspiration.
Here is the message:

Donnie B, KJ, Man 1:40 on.....oh whatever day it is, Wednesday, you guys are National Champions man. I just wanted to call to congratulate you and say what an encouragement that you are to me man, you just go and show all the coaching world that you can be a Godly man and fear the lord and win Championships. Change guys life for Christ. Man, that is so awesome and I am just so happy for you man. You deserve that. You and Coach Sheehy. I think even more importantly man is what an encouragement you are to me. Just to know your faith and to know how God has blessed you with that. Just want to say congratulations man. Thanks for being an example to me. Just to fear the Lord and also be in coaching. UM.... Just do what you do man. Great Job. SEE YA.

I haven't ever let anyone listen to that message except my wife, but it means the world to me. I hope it brings a smile to those who know KJ well. God just oozes out of him. I printed off my favorite KJ email and carry it in my pocket to remind me to pray every time I reach in pocket for my keys or chapstick. Every person that I have came in contact with since finding out from Kyle Tolin about KJ hears about this website and I ask them to pray. I challenge all of you who read this to do the same.

The lives he is already touching, just around here, because of God's miracle and all your faith is simply AWESOME. What a powerful group of Warrior's Kevin and your family are. We are just proud to be prayer soldiers lined up behind you in this battle. Anybody and everybody that Satan attacks from now one will get hope and power from this Miracle. God is just as powerful today as he was in the days of parting the red sea. Why do we Limit God so Much? You all have shown us the power of true GOD faith. Child like faith. Kevin's child like spirit is what we all love so much about him. Can't wait to see how many people he is going to touch with this testimony. One last note and I am done. Jeff much like you Satan tried to rob my of my ability to have kids. 4 kids later, You get the picture. Satan lost big. One of those warriors, my 5 year old daughter at lunch today gave me a construction paper heart she had cut out, she colored Angles on it. She made it for Kevin. Say's on it KJ, I'm telling my friends to pray for you. I know his heart is going to be fine. More child like faith coming your way. I promised her I would let Kevin have it. This will have to do for now.

Wow. I’m on cloud 9 at the moment…yesterday I reported on my “conversation w/ Kevin via hand squeezes and thumb’s up’s…this morning I have even better news!
I actually, LITERALLY talked with Kevin…for about 20 minutes!!! Praise God for all of these visual stepping stones on our road to a full recovery!

His voice is of course very soft & weak…and he is currently quite difficult to understand. But we clearly conversed. Here’s a rundown of what he was asking me about…
- His clear concern and primary line of questioning centered around Amanda. At first I thought he was simply forgetting what I was telling him…that Amanda was at the hotel, it was very early in the morning (around 6:15ish), and that the best thing for her was to be getting some good sleep.
- He asked about where my wife Amy was.
- I thought he was asking about the monitor up on the wall that shows all of his vitals. It was directly behind me, and I started explaining what it was. He started shaking his head “no” and then physically picked up his hand and poked me in the chest where my name tag was. I explained that security here at the hospital was very tight, and because I’d arrived around 1am this morning to relieve dad, I had to wear this name tag as my “pass” to be in the hospital. He then called me a dork.
- He asked about his hernia (Kevin has recently been in to see his GP about a VERY MINOR (no kidding) hernia that will require some minor surgery at some point in the near future).
- I asked him several questions just to gauge his awareness of what was going on…what city we were in, if he new he’d had surgery, if he remembered where Amanda was…all of which he was able to answer. I also asked him if he knew who I was, to which he responded “Brother.” I asked if he knew my name, and he said “Jeff.” Wow…that felt very, very good.
- He then asked for my phone. I said, “What do you want my phone for? Do you want to text somebody?” He then said, “Call Amanda.” I tried to argue with him that the best thing for Amanda right now was to sleep, but the more he persisted (and he did persist), the more I thought that Amanda would probably really enjoy starting her day with a phone call from Kevin. So, I called Amy and woke her up…didn’t want to alarm Amanda by getting a phone call from me at the hospital… and explained the situation to Amy who then went in and woke up Amanda…probably 6:30ish by this time. The conversation wasn’t long, but it’s one that I will remember for the rest of my life. Kevin said, “Hey” and then just sat and listened to Amanda tell him how much she loved him, how well he was doing and that she was going to get up and shower and be right there. Kevin then said, “I love you.” How absolutely special is that!

Later this morning, in true Kevin fashion, when our nurse (Tom) came into the room to check Kevin’s IV fluids, Kevin turned his head towards him and said very clearly, “Thank you.”

Just stepped out of Kevin’s room and into the waiting area to give Kevin and Amanda some time alone. About 10 minutes before Amanda arrived, Kevin had been sleeping…when he woke up and saw me still in the room, he motioned me over and held up his hand for me to hold. He pulled me close to him and said very clearly, “You’re my brother…and I love you.” I told him that I loved him too, and that he was going to make me cry…to which he just shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “I don’t care…go ahead.” As you can imagine…it was a huge…HUGE moment for me.

Once Amanda arrived, I was out in the hall visiting with Dr. Flint and giving them a few private moments together. Dr. Flint reported that he too was very impressed with the progress Kevin had made, and that there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF CONCERN REVEALED BY YESTERDAY’S ECHOCARDIOGRAM! PRAISE GOD! Yet another hurdle cleared and prayer answered!

As I stepped back into the room to give Amanda the good news, Kevin motioned me over. He was holding Amanda’s hand with his left hand and grabbed my hand with his right. I could tell he wanted to say something, so we both leaned in close to listen. The two words he very clearly whispered to us both spoke volumes as to the condition of his spirit, the resolve of his determination…and was perhaps the most poignant and “fruit-filled” statement made by any doctor/nurse/family member or friend to date… “I won.”

Yes you did little brother…YES YOU DID!

Kevin continues to gain strength...however, we would like to ask for immediate prayer for the following issue...
Kevin's ability to converse w/ others is gradually recovering, however there have been two episodes now when he has failed to recognize Amanda as his wife. He asks for Amanda, knows that his wife's name is Amanda, but on two occassions now has not recognized Amanda as being his wife.

I have visited with the nurses about this, and they seem to think that it is something that should pass. Granted, they are not fluffing it off by any means...but the fact that he continues to recognize who I am, knows my name, and knows where he is seems to point to the fact that the underlying cause of his "amnesiatic" (I made up that word) episodes is probably drug induced or associated with some sort of temporary reaction that his brain is experiencing due to either the trauma of the bleed...vaso spasms...or expected swelling of his brain due to surgery. A CT Scan was already on today's agenda even prior to these two episodes, and these results should better point to the true source of his confusion.

Obviously, this is very difficult for Amanda to experience. Her faith and resolve to remain by Kevin's side, however, have not been dampened. We will wait to see what the CT scan reveals...and also pray that these "episodes" are fleeting...and that one day (soon!) we can all look back on this with a touch of humor. Until then, please pray that God would keep his healing hand of protection over well as his blanket of peace around Amanda.

I'm going to try to get some rest as I will once again be spending the night with Kevin. You might also ask for a peace that can only come from God to allow my whirling mind to rest so that I might be good to go here again in a few hours.

At the hospital…Kevin is now resting comfortably thanks to a fresh round of Vicodin. One problem that I had not foreseen with at least the initial stage of Kevin’s recovery is that his absolute resolve and fighting (& at times stubborn) spirit are actually making things a bit difficult…at least for the present time. As Kevin awakes from his deep sedation, the cocktail of drugs he has been/continues to experience will obviously take time to be fully absorbed and then expelled by his body. For the time being, Kevin is continuing to repeat questions…and will even fixate on certain “wants,” such as “wanting” his cell phone, or “wanting” his shorts, or “wanting” his car keys. He also REALLY wants to get out of bed…and there are times when we’ve had to physically stop him from doing so.

When I arrived at the hospital this evening, my mom and sister were both in the room and Kevin was sound asleep. We had a really fun time just catching up with each other, them updating me on the events of the day, and just laughing at ourselves and some of the goofy things we’ve done over the course of these past few days.

Around an hour later, Kevin began waking up. My mom, after visiting with him for a bit as to how he was feeling, asked Kevin if he was “ready to do for Jeff what we’d talked about.” Kevin then grabbed my hand and pulled me close and sang, “Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. You look like a monkey and you smell like one too…and many more, on channel 4.”

It was the best birthday gift I could have EVER asked for.

Kevin’s amnesia seems to come and go. I pulled up my computer this evening and started showing him some pictures from my website. He quickly recognized and named Amanda. I said, “She’s pretty good looking, huh?” to which he replied, “She’s money.” He really got a kick out of seeing the pictures of Mich & Brad with their new tattoos. I said, “Do you recognize those guys?” …and he said, “Yeah…Mich and Brad. That’s awesome.”

I also told him that Ray Belcher had supplied us with our “Verse of the Day.” He said, “Yeah…mom read it to me…Habakkuk… ‘I’ll do amazing things.’ ”

For those of you who don’t have a Bible handy, the verse is Habakkuk 1:5. It reads “Look at the nations and watch – and be amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told” I’d say Kevin summarized it pretty darn well. Thanks Ray for that uplifting “fruit.” Kevin’s recollection of the verse, Book and all, was very comforting to me. God is doing some awesome things…BUT WE STILL NEED YOUR PRAYERS. I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say this again at the risk of being redundant…WE STILL HAVE A LONG WAYS TO GO!

As an update, I will repost our 7 requests from earlier with a brief update as to where we stand on each:
1. Pray that Kevin would continue to respond positively to the neurological tests throughout the rest of the day today and into tomorrow.
(Kevin has done well with his neurological testing…both w/ memory as well as with muscle response. At times, Kevin as experienced some amnesia (that’s my diagnosis…may not be a true medical amnesia) and/or confusion…but we’ve been told that that is to be expected)
2. Pray that Kevin would experience NO vaso spasms…after this past week, I am a new believer in praying BOLDLY, EXPECTENTLY & FERVENTLY!!! (To date, we have seen no evidence of vaso spasms. Today’s CT should give us a more up-to-date report on this issue…but we’ve not heard the report. Nurses tell us that this is a good sign… “no news is good news” type of thing.)
3. Pray that the swelling on Kevin’s brain would recede quickly. (Again, the CT should be our best indication of the amount of swelling Kevin’s brain is currently experiencing…but we’ve yet to hear the results. Dr. Lawton did tell us this morning that it’s pretty reliable to judge the amount of swelling in Kevin’s brain by the amount of swelling on his face/eye. This visible swelling has receded dramatically over the course of the past 24-36 hours.)
4. Pray that the infection Kevin has in his lungs (more than likely a touch of pneumonia) will respond to the antibiotics. (Kevin’s lungs appear to be doing tremendously well! Praise God! He is currently receiving no oxygen on an ongoing basis…and as I type this, his oxygen saturation level is at 99%. The RT’s continue to stop by every 4 hour for some breathing treatments…and he is now tolerating those much more willingly now than he was just 24 hours ago.)
5. Pray BOLDLY, EXPECTENTLY & FERVENTLY for miraculous healing in the area of Kevin’s aneurysm that still appears “chubby” according to Dr. Lawton and that today’s post-op angiogram would leave all of the doctors scratching their heads as to where that “chubbiness” went! (Dr. Lawton indicated that he felt good about this area of Kevin’s aneurysm…but that it would need to be monitored throughout the rest of Kevin’s life.)
6. Pray that there is no short or long term brain damage as a result of the operation!!! (It is still really too early to tell. These signs of amnesia and confusion are all quite disconcerting…but the doctors/nurses all tell us that it is really quite normal. I’m just ready for him to get his normal speaking voice back (you really have to lean in close and listen very hard to make out what he’s trying to say) and gain the ability to better communicate with all of us so that his level of frustration would not become an impediment to his good spirits.)
7. Pray for strength for Kevin as his journey towards recovery is sure to be a long one. (This is a very important step towards Kevin’s speedy recovery. I have no doubt that he will possess the energy level to physically do what the doctors/nurses want…my concern and prayer lies more with his mental recovery.)

Along the lines of #7…I would especially ask that you continue to keep Amanda in your prayers as today (though she never showed any signs of wavering) had to have been very difficult for her emotionally.

In true Kevin fashion, the more he awakes from his sedation, the more he becomes worried and concerned for all of us. He said that he knows I miss Eli and would probably like to be at home. He asked me what my game plan was…and I told him that I was here as long as I needed to be, and that I was actually having fun spending time with him. This made him smile…and then he apologized for calling me a “dork” last night. THAT made ME smile.

Just met with a team of Interventional Radiologists (the angiogram guys/gals). They seemed pleased with Kevin’s progress, but also went out of their way to reiterate the fact that Kevin is not out of the woods. I think I’ve known this for the past 24 hours or so…but it’s been admittedly much more difficult to ride the post-op rollercoaster than I had thought it would be. I think we noticed SO MUCH improvement in the first 24 hours post-op that, in my mind, I was envisioning a path to recovery that, if analogized with a graph, would be one…albeit long…STRAIGHT line to 100% recovered. However, these past 24 hours have revealed the stark reality that we will continue to experience even more peaks and valleys along the way. Amanda, in her infinite wisdom, likened it to having crested the highest summit in our journey (that being the surgery), but that we were now in the foothills. The radiologists hammered this home even more when their analogy alluded to Kevin’s recovery mimicking the stock market…you want to “trend” up, and they believe he is…but it would by no means be a “straight” line to recovery.

Kevin’s voice seems stronger today…though he is still quite difficult to understand at times. Our spirits are good…my mom is doing very well (praise God!). I’d like to think and/or tell myself that we will see quite a bit of marked improvement in Kevin’s speech, mobility, concentration, etc. today…but with what the doctors are saying…anyway…my mind is being pulled in several different directions at the moment, and the fact that I need to get some rest isn’t helping much. The verse I’m choosing to lean heavily on today is John 14:11…basically says (Jesus speaking) that if you’re still going to doubt what I have to say even after you’ve heard me say it, at least believe me based on the miracles you’ve seen up to this point! I am choosing to lay this issue and all of my doubt at the feet of Christ. That’s easy to sit here and type, and I’m sure I will struggle with it all day long…but for Amanda’s sake, my parent’s sake, and even for my own sake…this is a burden I need to admit is too large for even my broad shoulders to bare.

We will have 2 verses for THIS day…
1 = as mentioned above, John 14:11
2 = get your Bibles out and look up Proverbs 31:10-11…dang! This has “Amanda” written all over it! There are SO MANY AWESOME verses out there I never even knew existed! Thank you Verla Oliver!

Amanda’s Blog Entry 01/12/07


There’s a light at the end of this tunnel! How great is our God! Kevin is a living miracle and testament to the power of prayer. We are in the middle of day 12 of this life changing experience and God continues to answer our cries for help and use this for HIS glory.

Kevin has always loved a challenge and he is proving to be one himself….as his respiratory therapist said, “He has been a challenge from the word go.” I assume God just wants to continue the miracles for us to make this testimony that much more awesome. We feel like, by God’s mighty hand, we have climbed the mountain and now are in the foothills. Please continue to pray with us for his “healing to spring forth speedily” as Isaiah 58:8 reads.

He is currently in another angiogram (his 3rd so far) just to check for vaso spasms. This procedure takes around 2 hours. Kj is getting pretty tired of “tests”. He asks me for his shoes about every 15 minutes and keeps trying to convince me to sneak him out of this place. He said, “I can just tell them I am meeting my wife upstairs.” Oh, what a day it will be to walk him hand in hand out of this place. I can’t wait to bring him home. But right now, I am thankful for his kisses, his funny comments, and the facial expressions that just melt me.

There have been so many people along this journey that have been instruments of God, but I do want to say a huge word of thanks to our Life Group. You guys have gone above and beyond from the beginning…bringing meals to the hospital in Oklahoma, your very presence in standing by my side, financial support, and even some of you were able to fly out to San Francisco to serve the family during this time. Words can’t express the appreciation we have for you! Thanks for “doing life together” with us.

Thank you family and friends for the hundreds of phone calls and emails.

While reading my bible today, I came across a card from Kj. That is one thing he is sooo good at…leaving me cards all the time. He knows how much I treasure them. As you can imagine, Kevin has the same gift of writing that his big brother Jeff does. In this card, Kevin wrote:
“I know I got a bad woman and I am so thankful to God for hookin’ me up. Life is so short and precious and God wants us to live for Him with passion and to focus intently on Him. No worries baby! Let’s choose to seek God this week more than we ever have. I love you and love being your husband.”

What a blessing to read his words and have them speak so much to our situation right now. God keeps giving each of us those treasures just when we need them.

I am so humbled and honored that God would allow me to be Kevin’s wife and to walk this road by his side.

Sitting here by Kevin’s side once again. I’ve really found myself looking forward to this time with Kevin…just some “quiet time” away from the hustle-and-bustle of the normal daytime hospital setting. He’s resting now…a bit of a struggle to get him to this point this evening. He’s admitted that he’s tired of feeling groggy all the time, and therefore is refusing any pain medication. Thankfully, he honestly doesn’t appear/admit to being in any pain…and I’m sure that the lingering effects of the anesthesia are helping with that. However, when I arrived at the hospital this evening/morning around 2am, my mom and Amanda were having to hold his hands so that he wouldn’t reach up and start pulling off his oxygen mask. I asked him, “Kevin, are you in any pain?” …no… “Do you think it’d be a good idea if you took something to help you relax and get some rest?” …no…tired of feeling groggy all the time… “Kevin, do you remember when we were kids living in Santa Barbara, and we’d drive to Disneyland…remember how it was always such a good thing when we could fall asleep in the car because that meant we’d ‘be there’ so much quicker?” This made his eyes perk up…yeah… “Don’t you think it’d be a good idea to rest so that we can get you to tomorrow a little bit quicker?” …yeah…
We basically had to have this conversation all over again when the nurse came in…they won’t give him any meds if he’s awake and doesn’t agree to taking them. Finally, he agreed to take something to help him rest…took about 30 minutes to kick in, which gave us some time alone to visit. I told him all about Eli…that Eli’s new favorite “thing” was to sit on the stove and eat saltine crackers (thanks Nana)…and that his new favorite animal “noise” was the “fish mouth” that Kevin had taught him just days before Kevin’s aneurysm. Both of these stories made Kevin smile. I also told him that I’d emailed Ray to let him know that he had appreciated the verse from Habakkuk (1:5)…to which he replied, “I need to email Ray.” . I told him that I’ve got my computer here, and that we could do that as soon as he was able to get some rest. By the time we were “caught up” and a couple of “I love you’s” were exchanged, he was beginning to relax and is now resting pretty well.

Earlier today, Amanda & I were able to visit once again with Dr. Richardson. In fact, I darn near made road kill out of the man as we were both rounding the same corner, albeit in opposite directions, at the same time. He said, “Things seem to be going well, huh?” To which I replied, “Yeah…I think so. But we’ve got some questions…” I then went on to explain that we’d experienced over the past 24 hours with Kevin’s recurrent amnesia, and that it would probably do both my heart as well as Amanda’s good to hear from him that this type of “thing” was not out of the ordinary. He was eager to come back to our room and visit…explaining to Amanda that due to the swelling in Kevin’s brain, as well as the bruising it had experienced, this type of short-term memory loss was not at all uncommon…and that as crazy as it may sound, in the grand scheme of Kevin’s life, Amanda was in fact a short-term memory, and that she could expect “episodes” from time to time like these for another 2-3 weeks. He was further encouraged by the fact that Kevin in fact knew he was married, that his wife’s name was Amanda, what their favorite Bible verse was, etc. Furthermore, I was blessed to have the opportunity to visit with a lady in the ICU waiting room this morning (who’d I’d actually seen several times before, just hadn’t visited with) whose husband was also in the NICU after having aneurysm surgery the day after Kevin’s surgery. To compound her situation, she explained that she and her husband had just had their third child on December 15th…and that her husband’s aneurysm had ruptured on the 16th. She explained that he, too, was experiencing bouts of amnesia…at first not recognizing her, and then not remembering they had kids…then thinking that they had 4 kids instead of three…etc. She said that the anesthetic they keep patients on while intubated (a white, milky concoction) was jokingly referred to by the ICU nurses as “Milk of Amnesia.”

All of this is of course no guarantee as to Kevin’s ultimate recovery. However, I choose to believe that these “reassuring” pieces of fruit have been carefully and deliberately placed by God for all of us to stumble across when we need them most.

To further (possibly) help explain Kevin’s current mental condition, the angiogram he had performed this afternoon revealed three areas of his brain currently experiencing some degree of vaso spasm. Two of these areas were treated via medication introduced through the catheter…while the third was actually treated with a small balloon-type instrument used to force the walls of the artery open (angioplasty)…much like a doctor would do with a blocked artery in the heart. I truly feel like this is a blessing…not from the standpoint that the angiogram revealed evidence of vaso spasms…but due to the fact that the Radiologists were not convinced that they would even be performing an angiogram today because of Kevin’s relatively stable condition.

After my last update (which was written/posted from the lobby of the hotel), I went upstairs to our room and had some good, much needed alone time with God. It seems like over the past 3 days I’ve either been here in Kevin’s hospital room, or trying to sleep at the hotel. I was then able to catch up on some much needed rest…actually sleeping for about 12-13 hours straight. I’m feeling much more rested and ready to take on whatever peaks and valleys…twists and turns this journey may yet present.

I want you all to know that I cannot wait for the day when we can share with Kevin all of your well wishes and encouraging comments. However, we have also been made aware that one thing that will more than likely frustrate Kevin right now is to be “overwhelmed” with anything…be it details from the surgery, news from home, etc. Couple that with the fact that his short-term memory is currently in the process of healing, I’m sure you all can understand why we’ve chosen to wait just a bit longer before introducing the concept of this blog to Kevin…and the now more than 1,000 messages left for him. Thank you all so much!

“I’ve been walkin’ with a big grin…singin’ with my eyes closed.
Liftin’ up my hands.
I’ve been lost in the moment…sendin’ up praises.
Now I think I understand.
When I open up, and let it flow…I feel Your touch, and then I know…
I can never live without it…and I’m never gonna doubt it…Every day is new…Yeah!
There’s nothing any better…I’ll be singin’ it forever…I worship You!”

This Mercy Me song has been screaming at me all morning via my iPod…and I’m just soaking in the glory of God’s promises…one of which has become incredibly vivid thanks to this song…EVERY DAY IS NEW! I’m a pretty big advocate of the “Power of Positive Thinking”…those of you who have ever received an email from my personal email account can attest to the fact that my signature line reads “CHOOSE to have a GREAT day!” Well…today, I AM CHOOSING TO HAVE A GREAT DAY!

Kevin continues to show signs of physical improvement…small, yet significant steps towards recovering the mobility and dexterity of his arms & legs…fingers & toes. The mental aspect of his recovery is a bit more difficult to gauge (for me, anyway), though all doctors (2 more since my previous post) I have quizzed…extensively…assure me that the confusion/amnesia he has and continues to exhibit from time to time is “par for the course”…and to expect to see more of this as we work our way through the rehabilitation process (see previous post). However, at the same time, and even in the same breath, they have all made sure to not “guarantee” that the impairments Kevin is currently experiencing are not permanent.

This is where my spiritual dilemma begins to surface. I hear what the doctors are telling me…but I am also doing my best to listen to God through my quiet times (which have been numerous these past 2 weeks). Bottom line is, I don’t know that I’m comfortable with being content with “par for the course.” Should I feel as though by praying with a spirit of relief and “finality” that I am in a sense limiting what God can REALLY do for Kevin?

I’ve always had this vision of a HUGE warehouse in heaven packed full of neatly wrapped gifts…ribbon & bows…the whole 9-yards…and God fervently wanting to deliver these gifts… “blessings” … “answered prayers” …to the multitude of people here on earth, if they would only ASK for them. I’m getting pretty philosophical here, and I can only say that I warned you at the beginning of this blog that this is first and foremost my journal of this experience.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am thanking God every minute of every day for Kevin’s current condition and for the amazing “cumulative” miracle that He has performed in even allowing us to still have Kevin with us here on earth. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m unsatisfied with God’s response to our many, many prayers…YOUR many, many prayers. I just don’t want to disappoint Him by selling Him short with what He is truly willing and capable of doing.

To change gears a bit…
I think that the severity of Kevin’s condition…the journey/experience as a whole…is beginning to hit him for the first time. He got emotional today for the first time as I believe his level of frustration at not being able to physically do some relatively menial tasks…coupled with the fact that his mental fog is beginning to lift a bit…started to sink in. This is hard as a brother to watch…but also reassuring due to the fact that his new-found level of “self-awareness” is a positive indication as to his mental condition…my own diagnosis that I’ve not yet been able to run by any of the medical professionals…but I’m sticking to it!

Some encouraging news…Kevin was able to get out of bed for the first time in 2 weeks and sit up straight in a chair for about 2 hours earlier today. Actually, LAST night, the physical and occupational therapists were so impressed by his strength that they had him stand up from the edge of his bed three times, but didn’t actually sit him in a chair. Praise God for these encouraging steps!

Please pray for Kevin’s “spirit”…that he may remain upbeat and positive…and that he, too, would be able to look for and recognize the small yet significant improvements he is no doubt to experience every day.

I actually got to join the world of the living yesterday…staying awake all day in an attempt to sleep through the night last night as Kevin’s friend Russ took last night’s night shift. Russ and Amanda were scheduled to head out yesterday morning, but due to the ice storm, their flight was cancelled and are now not scheduled to leave until tomorrow (Monday) morning.

My sister, Stephanie, is also in the process of packing up and will be heading back to Colorado sometime this afternoon. In one sense, it feels awfully good to be to the point of this journey that we CAN start thinking about returning home…but on the other hand, it feels just as scary because there are an awful lot of unknowns out there for ALL of us that are yet to be revealed over the course of the next few days…weeks…months. In all honesty, “scary” isn’t a very appropriate word choice as I have no mental or emotional hesitation about what the future may hold. In fact, I’m quite excited to experience first hand this MIGHTY story God is writing right before our eyes. I think my fear/hesitation comes from the reality that at some point soon, my focus & energy…all of which has been funneled towards this one purpose for the past 2 weeks…will have to experience a return to semi-normalcy. I know that in the end, this will be a wonderful & healthy step of this journey…but for now I’m having a hard time viewing that as a “comfortable” transition.

Those of you who know me know that the “yin” to my “yang” is my wife, Amy. I quite literally find myself at a loss for words right now (hard to believe, I know) in trying to express how thankful I am for her…she has been there with/for me from the very beginning of this journey. And even though she has returned to Kingfisher (barely beating the ice storm…praise God!) in order to serve her most important role as “Mommy,” I can still feel her love and support on a daily basis. This morning, I woke up to find in my email a quick “hello” and update as to Eli’s daily shenanigans…followed by this passage of Scripture that God literally guided her to this morning:

"...But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
Romans 8:24-25.

She was absolutely right when she suggested that this passage of Scripture might speak directly to the spiritual wrestling match that has been playing itself out in my head the past 24 or so hours (see previous post).

Furthermore, last night I was so, so, so blessed to have been able to sit down one-on-one with Amanda for the first time in what seemed like days. We just caught up with each other, sharing our hearts over some decent hospital cafeteria chicken & rice soup. I expressed to her my spiritual struggle voiced in my previous post. She admitted that she, too, had been experiencing similar thoughts and questions as to what was “fair” to ask of God. And yet again, I truly felt that God spoke directly to me through this amazing woman. There is no way that I can do justice to the eloquence in which she conveyed this message to me…but the gist of what she was saying was that, for us, we have (God willing) crested the most stressful/intense/life-changing & God-centering portion of OUR journey. However, for Kevin, in order for him to be spiritually & emotionally stretched the way in which these past 2 weeks has stretched each of us, God may need for him to experience some trials of his own on his path to recovery…and that through those trials, Kevin’s testimony of faith will be THAT MUCH STRONGER & MORE POWERFUL. Wow…I had to just literally stop and sit back for a moment to let that message sink in. I had never looked at it from this vantage point before…and for the first time, I knew what it meant to not be afraid to present myself to the Lord in a TRUE spirit of supplication, not being fearful of presenting my petitions to the Lord, but presenting them unselfishly and from the perspective of YOUR will…not mine…be done.

If there’s one thing that God has taught me throughout this amazing journey…and believe me, I have a very long list…it’s the undeniable fact that God is bigger than anything we will ever have to face. From my first reminder of this fact some 9 days ago while flying over the Grand Canyon, to even just yesterday when numerous doctors and other medical professionals would use words like “Awesome!” and “Wow!” to describe Kevin’s current condition, God has remained and always will be our “A-Game” to use a Kevin-ism. And to steal a phrase from one of Kevin’s friends, Donnie Bostwick, it has been truly amazing to watch God “show up and show off.”

I will update later today when I’ve had a chance to be updated myself as to the progress seen last night and this morning. Just know that Kevin continues to make us all laugh. Amanda had asked him at some point yesterday if he wanted to go ahead and shave his entire head…to which Kevin just kind of shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’ll probably just let it grow out…well, maybe a mowhawk.”

I arrived at the hospital this morning to find my mom and sister outside of Kevin’s room with quite a bit of activity whirling about in and out of his area of the hallway…never a good sign in the ICU I’ve come to learn these past 2 weeks. Apparently, Kevin started exhibiting signs of confusion and disorientation around 10-ish this morning which triggered an immediate response from the ICU team…bottom line, they seem to think that Kevin is experiencing further vaso spasms which, to simplify the condition far too greatly, reduces the amount of blood reaching certain areas of Kevin’s brain, thus causing the noticeable signs of confusion and disorientation…as scary and uncertain moment for us as the family for sure, but the nurses were also quick to remind us that this was something that they were fully prepared for and had seen in other patients many, many times before. John, our current nurse, also compassionately repeated what Dr. Dowd (or Stoud?) told me and my Dad yesterday (?) that we have to expect some peaks and valleys with his recovery now that we are post-op.

Dr. Flint was quick to respond to Kevin’s episode and thought it best to order a CTA (non-invasive angiogram) in order to view if/where/exactly what trauma Kevin’s brain is currently experiencing. They were even OK with allowing me to accompany Kevin down to the room where the CTA was performed (Amanda had not made it to the hospital by this time). They will also be performing another non-invasive procedure later this afternoon in Kevin’s room to check for possible seizures Kevin may have been experiencing.

Please pray for continued wisdom for the doctors as they assess Kevin’s current situation…as well as for God’s peace to remain with all of us riding this post-operative rollercoaster with Kevin. My peace comes from the Lord…I am confident in that fact. He has already proven faithful to my prayers for today, that I might be mentally sharp and emotionally & spiritually secure in the fact that He is in full control of this entire situation…and that He will be (and already has been) using every single one of these doctors/nurses/etc. as instruments of His Divine plan…I continue to have this visual of each one of them holding a sculptor’s tool as they work on Kevin…a chisel in place of a stethoscope, etc…as they continue to fashion and mold this Story of all stories. Make no mistake…they’re working in stone w/ this project…granite even. My brother is far too hard headed to be analogized as clay.

Ever sit in a church pew listening to a sermon that you’re CONVINCED God is using to speak directly to you? I’m sure we’ve all had that experience at one time or another. This can often be a refreshing experience used by God to reassure each of us through the words of our pastor/preacher/Father that He in fact does hear our prayers and is eager to feed us with whatever “fruit” we may be craving at that particular point in our journey of life.

At the same time, this can also be a rather daunting experience…where God clearly tells us things that we KNOW to be His Truth, but nonetheless still struggle to fully accept and/or adopt into our day-to-day lives.

Today’s events with Kevin’s physical and mental regression…the “rollercoaster” if you will… have had both of the above-mentioned affects on my spiritual “cognitive dissonance,” if you’ll allow me to use that phrase. I even made the comment to Amanda over lunch today (during Kevin’s CTA) that I feel as though the true test of my spiritual “stretching and growth” via this experience may just now be beginning to take shape. Furthermore, what seems to compound matters even more is that the “sermon” in my case just so happens to have been self-delivered via my post from just this morning (1-14-07…9:45am).

We’ve not yet heard back as to the result/s of Kevin’s CTA. I will post again as soon as I have any new information. Until then, please remain persistent in prayer for Kevin’s continued progress…and that we might reach a point this evening, be it through our own observation or simply by the Grace of God…that we would feel comfortable enough to actually rest knowing that Kevin is making the progress for which we have all been so fervently praying.

Wow...had no idea so many people were reading at this hour! Know that your words of encouragement are like shots of adrenaline to us all!

Praise God...Kevin's CTA came back "clear" showing no signs of vaso spasms. This of course begs the question, "What then DID cause Kevin's relapse?" The doctor indicated that it was very difficult to tell. Basically the 2 scenarios he presented us with were...
#1. Vaso Spasms that were short-lived and had ceased by the time the CTA was performed.
#2. The natural, continual and very expected process of Kevin's brain "readjusting" to its normal position within his skull. This seems to be the explanation the Dr. was most comfortable with.

No time to wax philosophic right now…I’m late to relieve Amanda and my mom at the hospital. Just wanted to give the quick update while I had a chance. THANK YOU for your prayers…I believe with all of my heart that we had yet another one answered this evening.

My apologies for not having updated for quite some time. My wife has begun operating under the pretense that “no news is good news.” For today at least this is true. Kevin has had a relatively uneventful day…praise God. He seems to have recovered nicely from yesterdays episode…which the doctors are now chalking up to a combination of three factors…
#1 – a “minor” bout of vaso spasms
#2 – the CT scan Kevin had done yesterday shows that his brain is still swollen to the point that it is actually “shifted” inside of his skull. They did indicate that we have passed the peak of Kevin’s brain swelling, and are now on the downhill side of the swelling. However, in knowing that as the swelling in his brain continues to recede…we may still experience more episodes of confusions and/or regression over the course of the next couple of weeks.
#3 – Kevin seems to be exhibiting some symptoms of a possible virus that may have also contributed to yesterday’s episode. They have taken blood to be sent to the lab, but don’t expect to hear back for at least another 36-48 hours. Because he has been running a low-grade fever since checking into the hospital, they have already cycled him through 2 pretty broad antibiotics, and don’t feel that administering a 3rd is what he needs at this point.

Currently, he is resting…and of course, as soon as I typed that, he’s just woken up. I’m in the room (a new room…still in the ICU, just on the other end of the unit, which is a blessing in and of itself b/c the new room is quite a bit larger than the room we’ve been in for that past 10-12 (???) days. He continues to be blessed with the sweetest, most compassionate nurses…probably more of a relief for us than for him. We’re starting to fall into a semi-scheduled routine, with my dad coming in around 6:30am-ish to relieve me from the night shift…which I have thoroughly enjoyed (the night shift, that is…not the relief). Mom and Amanda have been pretty much sharing the primary care-taking duties from around 10am-ish until around 2am…with both taking advantage (sometimes…not often enough) of sneaking back to the hotel during that stretch of time to grab a quick cat nap. Our numbers here have dwindled to 4 + Kevin…so we’re trying our best to not only care for Kevin and his needs…but for ourselves as well, realizing that we are once again shifting into “marathon mode.”

In visiting with one of the doctors earlier today, Amanda was able to get a “rough” estimate as to when he felt Kevin might be discharged from the ICU and transferred to either a “step-down” unit or a regular hospital room. Originally, it was our hope to be able to do this either tomorrow or Wednesday, but he said that given Kevin’s setback yesterday, his original plan would probably be delayed by at least 3 or 4 days.

The bigger picture in this entire “discharge” decision…really all decisions up to this point…is that the perfect plan is known to God, and we are eager and willing to allow Him to guide the decisions yet to be made by each of our doctors/nurses. It is really quite amazing to me when I do sit back and reflect as to the number of professionals who are currently caring for Kevin…all working in perfect harmony/symmetry with each other. There are no fewer than 4 neuro-specialists (neurosurgeon, interventional radiologist, neuro-ICU specialist & neuro-trauma intensivist) all working on Kevin’s case around the clock…and this is at the very minimum. This is to say nothing for the nursing staff, respiratory, speech, physical & occupational therapists who have all taken a special “liking” to Kevin…no surprise there, I know. Kevin continues to touch people even during the most difficult portions of his recovery…often thanking staffers out of the blue. I don’t think people out here are used to that…seems to catch them off guard, but it always makes them smile…a gift I am so thankful to see he has quickly recovered.

Not much to update on…which is a welcome realization these days. Kevin is currently resting. He’s just today started admitted/realizing that he is experiencing some pain (headaches)…usually about a 3-4 on a 0-10 scale when he’s asked. When we were in OKC, he was consistently averaging 7 on the same pain scale. Obviously, we expected for him to experience some post-op pain…but I was anticipating that it would be more like an 8-9 level of pain. The brain is truly an amazing “machine”…and as my friend Erin Holloman, a doctor, so appropriately stated in an email she sent me earlier today (or would that be late last night?), “The Brain is such an amazing, amazing part of God’s creation, actually the most amazing one if you think of it! It has such ability to recover and make new synapses or connections…It is just amazing! Another reason I can’t believe in evolution.”

Personally, my struggle at the moment has to do with the whole “MY schedule vs. GOD’s schedule”…I’m ready for Kevin to be out of bed, teasing the nurses and showing off his scar to anyone and everyone he can get to listen to his amazing story!

Obviously, my most prominent fear is that Kevin will not improve from his current physical & mental state. I am also very aware that the doctors and nurses are telling us that Kevin’s brain is still quite swollen…and that there is nothing to be gained from reading into his current condition. Furthermore, I’ve been doing some reading online from a couple of different “Aneurysm Survivor” websites, and there are several constants that most every survivor has alluded to experiencing to one degree or another lasting from several weeks to several months, even years post-op…
1 – short-term memory…in fact, many admit to having no memory of the first few days/weeks post-op
2 – trouble speaking
3 – becoming easily fatigued
4 – becoming easily overwhelmed and/or over-stimulated

My personality is such that I operate much more efficiently knowing things like this…which then also naturally leads to concerns about the long-term. I’m continuing to really focus on such Scriptures as John 14:11, Matthew 6:27, Habakkuk 1:5 & Psalm 138:8…all verses provided by YOU via email and/or entries on this blog…so for that, THANK YOU. Kevin, especially, has really enjoyed his buddy Ray’s encouragement via Habakkuk 1:5. I will often ask Kevin to tell him what Ray’s verse says, to which he consistently replies, “I’m going to do amazing things…if I told you what they were, you wouldn’t believe it!”

Tonight I’ll leave you with James 1:2-12…another passage supplied via this blog (thanks Amber!). I’ve taken a lot of comfort in hearing God’s promises reiterated through yet another piece of refreshing spiritual fruit:
2 My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. 3 Your faith will be put to the test. You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. 4 The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need.
5 If any of you need wisdom, ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone. He doesn't find fault.
6 But when you ask, you must believe. You must not doubt. People who doubt are like waves of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around. 7 A man like that shouldn't expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 He can't make up his mind. He can never decide what to do.
9 A believer who finds himself in a low position in life should be proud that God has given him a high position. 10 But someone who is rich should take pride in his low position. That's because he will fade away like a wild flower.
11 The sun rises. Its burning heat dries up the plants. Their blossoms fall. Their beauty is destroyed. In the same way, a rich person will fade away even as he goes about his business.
12 Blessed is the man who keeps on going when times are hard. After he has come through them, he will receive a crown. The crown is life itself. God has promised it to those who love him.

FYI…it’s now 4:09am. The nurse just came in to do Kevin’s neurological assessment (doing this every 60-90 minutes or so). Last night’s assessment took nearly an hour due to the fact that many patients who’ve experienced trauma to the brain (bleeding, swelling, etc.) take a considerable amount of time to completely wake up once their brain has been allowed to enter a deep sleep. I was glad this was explained to me before hand, or I would have been concerned to say the least…for example, once Kevin did open his eye, he was still unable to speak even though he was giving a “thumbs up” when asked if he was trying to speak, but was just unable to do so. Eventually, he did “wake up” fully to the point that he was able to speak and answer the usual line of questions (what city are you in, what’s your last name, etc.) that he’s been asked many, many times by now. Tonight’s exam took about 5 minutes…something I was honestly not expecting. I’m choosing to view this as a rather large step forward and not just a baby step…Praise God!

I just had a very encouraging visit with Dr. Dowd (Kevin’s primary Interventional Radiologist…guy who does his angiograms, and a BONIFIDE STUD). Basically, he said that Kevin looked great! I did muster up the courage to ask if it was still too early to read into any of Kevin’s permanent &/or long-term mental/physical deficits. He said that it was far too early to be able to read into any of those questions, but did say that because Kevin had good strength in all four extremities and was quick to answer all of his verbal questions (instead of taking 15 seconds to respond), these were all very positive indications at this point in Kevin’s recovery.

As posted previously, they are keeping Kevin kind of on “stand-by” for a possible angiogram…it was originally thought they would do it yesterday (if I’m even remembering right), but decided to postpone until today because he has been doing so well…and if he continues to do well, they plan on just cancelling the angiogram altogether.

They are currently working on re-doing Kevin’s A-Line (Arterial Line…a very long “wire” running up Kevin’s arm to help monitor in real-time his blood pressure)…not a big deal at all, just a much more accurate way (when it works!) to monitor BP.

Kevin is noticeably more “feisty” this morning…a very good sign. He’s been trying to sit up on his own which is not an easy task considering he’s still hooked up to the EEG (about 20 brightly colored wires “glued” to his head to measure brain activity). They should be reading the EEG results from the past 12 hours as I type this…and I would anticipate that, based on the previous 12 hours having been “clean,” he will be unhooked from the wires at some point later this morning. They’ve also mentioned removing his feeding tube sometime today…and even sitting him up and moving him to a chair sometime after lunch, assuming the angiogram is officially cancelled.

It’s now 9:50am…and Kevin has won the “battle of the shoes.” He’s been asking…over and over and over again…about his new Diesel’s he received as a Christmas present from my parents since he was able to talk after surgery. So, this morning I went ahead and put them on his feet…striking a deal with him that he could wear them as long as he didn’t try to get up and walk off until the physical & occupational therapist showed up. He is also very excited to teach Eli how to “blow kisses” when he gets back to Oklahoma.

A friend of ours graciously offered to mail a webcam to the hotel where we’re staying, so I’m excited to see if that arrives today. Amy has already purchased one on her end…I can hardly wait to see my little man (and my wife, of course!) and have him make his series of animal noises for Kevin and the entire family.

Another quick update… just had a great visit with Dr. Flint. He is overseeing Kevin’s ICU stay as Kevin’s “Neuro- Trauma Intensivist” … I am not sure I just gave him a new title, but his “official” title is something along those lines. Basically, with Dr. Lawton in surgery most of the day, Dr. Flint is charged with overseeing/ monitoring Kevin’s recovery as long as he remains in the ICU. He is another BONAFIDE STUD… really enjoy this guy.

Anyway, Amanda and I were both able to watch him give Kevin by far the most extensive and “challenging” neuro-exam to date. He started with all the basics… what’s your last name, what city are you in, what kind of building is this… then progressed to asking Kevin to count backwards from 20 to 1, giving Kevin a series of task and asking Kevin to perform then in that order, and then asking him to do some more complex tasks such as “touch your right hear with your left index finger” …Kevin aced every single one!!! This did my heart VERY good… as I’m sure it did Amanda’s as well.

He, too, said that it was far to early to read into anything we were seeing now as any indication as to what the future might hold… basically echoing Dr. Dowd’s comments from my previous post. He also indicated that Kevin still had quite a bit of expected swelling in the front of his brain … on the right side where Dr. Lawton gained access to Kevin’s brain. He indicated that this swelling was most prominently affecting the right temporal lobe of Kevin’s brain.

As to when we could expect to see improvement in Kevin’s speech, etc… he said that answer could be days, could be weeks, could be months. He was quick to not make any promises, but did clearly indicate that he was pleased with what he was seeing… as well as the progress Kevin had made since his episode 2 day ago.

More good news…
Dr. Flint feels very comfortable (again echoing what Dr. Dowd had said earlier this morning) that there is no need to perform the angiogram that had been scheduled for later today. This is WONDERFUL news, as it means they are pleased with the progress Kevin is making. They will obviously not hesitate to change their minds if Kevin begins to show signs of regression, but we willingly and eagerly give thanks to God for this additional piece of GREAT NEWS!

According to Dr. Flint… and this is a decision that will have to be a group consensus … the only 2 things keeping Kevin from being “discharged” to a step- down ward or even a regular hospital room are:
#1: Kevin is currently receiving medication for the purpose of increasing his blood pressure. This is one treatment they are using to counter the vaso spasms Kevin experienced 2 days ago. Dr. Flint’s current game plan is to decrease this medication, this decreasing Kevin’s blood pressure, as early as this evening and no later than tomorrow morning. We will know if Kevin’s brain is OK with the “normal” blood pressure based on how he responds to his neuro- exams after his blood pressure had been lowered.
#2: Kevin’s white blood cell count is up… for a reason that Dr. Flint has not yet been able to pinpoint. He has an idea, and is not really all that concerned about it. But this is just speaks to the thoroughness of Dr. Flint (and everyone here at UCSF for that matter)… wanting to check every possible “suspect” before it becomes an issue. He as an idea as to what it might be… a possible bacterial infection in Kevin’s “gut” as he so eloquently put it but even suspects that it may have already run its course.

I would ask for prayer for these 2 specific issues… as well as for continued progress with Kevin’s physical & mental recovery. I am absolutely in awe of how masterful God’s handywork has been throughout this entire process… especially these past 24 hours. Please take a moment to grab your Bible and look up Psalm 138:8. It is our verse for today and a promise we are claiming boldly for Kevin… really, for both Kevin and Amanda.

A quick funny story to share:
Earlier when both Amanda and I were in the room with Kevin, he was acting quite fidgety… a good thing that we’re more then happy to put up with these days. I leaned in close to Kevin and asked, “Kevin, what is it that you want right now?” to which he quickly replied, “Freedom.” Now THERE’S a “Braveheart” fan for you! Lucky for us, we have a HUGE DVD/CD store not 50 yards from out hotel (name of the store is “Ameoba” … it’s massive people! Smells kind of like pot too…???) where I was able to pick up a used DVD of “Braveheart” for around $8.00… no charge for the buzz.

Kevin’s blood pressure has been a challenge to say the least most of the evening. They can’t seem to keep it as high as they’d like (above 180 for the systolic/top number). As mentioned in my previous post, the goal is to allow his blood pressure to return to a normal level (approximately 120-ish), but with this evening’s lowered blood pressure, he did apparently experience some confusion during his neuro-exam.

This is of course difficult for us to watch (especially my mom), as we have enjoyed the 24 hours or so of relative forward progress. The doctors/nurses without a doubt have this completely under control…it’s just another dip on the post-operative recovery rollercoaster.

Please continue to pray for Kevin’s vital signs and that throughout the night tonight and into tomorrow morning, we would see positive neuro-exams in correlation with his lowering blood pressure. Please pray also for a peace for my mom. I can’t help but worry about her nerves and well-being in general.

Kevin’s vitals seem to have stabilized…however, the fact that his lowered blood pressure seems to have triggered some disorientation earlier this evening continues to be a bit disconcerting. The reason for this, according to the two doctors I’ve spoken with this evening, is not exactly clear…although they did notice some indication of minor vaso spasming during his most recent Trans-Cranial Doppler (TCD). The hope…the prayer…is that these spasms, or whatever it is that is causing Kevin to react adversely to the lower blood pressure would clear within the next few hours so that as Kevin’s blood pressure is lowered (systolic is currently at 188) to a more “normal” level (around 120), he would continue to grade out well on his neuro-exams.

I learned this evening from Amanda that a young 22-year old girl had just been checked into the NICU…we think that the family/doctors are still unsure as to what exactly is causing her symptoms. I had the opportunity about 20 minutes ago to offer her husband a luke-warm cup of coffee…and said that if he wanted to talk at any point, just from a patient’s family perspective, just to holler. He was working the phones…something I became very familiar with based on our experience some 2 ½ weeks ago. Seeing this girl’s family and the mental/emotional state they are currently enduring brought back a flood of emotion…rather unexpectedly to be perfectly honest. That night I received the phone call from my mom saying that Kevin was in the hospital w/ a potential aneurysm…only 17 days ago…quite literally feels more like 6 months. I miss my wife & I miss my son…but I know without question that my “place” is here for the time being. It’s an odd feeling to quite literally not know what tomorrow will bring. I pray that it will be full of unexpected joys and steps forward on the road to Kevin’s recovery…the road to returning home.

Per my Dad’s request/suggestion (and a pretty good one at that), I have provided a link at the top of the blog that, when clicked, should shoot you down to the most recent update I’ve posted. Keep in mind, it will only take you to the MOST RECENT update, so if you chose to use this option, you might want to scroll up a bit to see if there are other updates that have been posted since you last checked in.

Probably the least-restful night I’ve had in the 2+ weeks since this whole journey began…just constant monitoring of Kevin’s blood pressure, and had to re-do his A-Line around 4:30am this morning (used as a more accurate and real-time monitor of his BP).
He was pretty out of it again this morning when they initially started doing his neuro-exam…but as he woke up more and more, we were able to have a pretty good, albeit short, visit. He was even able to “assist” with brushing his teeth…dangling the “carrot” of being “kissable” for Amanda seemed to be pretty darn effective.

His blood that was drawn just a bit ago looks really good too…white blood cell count is still elevated, but not nearly as high as it has been. Praise God!

The decision has been made to take Kevin in for another angiogram. I’m not sure as to the details because I’m here at the hotel working on sleeping and just received a text from Amanda with the news.

This has come as quite a shock to me, as I received nothing but good news in my visits with the doctors this morning…which I have not yet had the chance to post on the blog. Basically, after this morning, the only question was whether or not to wait another day before starting to wean Kevin off of the blood pressure medication.

I have asked Amanda to call me when she gets a chance in order to better update me on the situation. This is not necessarily bad news, as the angiogram is a relatively safe procedure that will give the doctors a better idea as to what is going on inside Kevin’s brain. However, it does concern me a bit because all of the doctors had been saying that they did not plan on doing the angiogram today unless Kevin showed signs of regression.

Please pray for Kevin! I wish I had a more specific request than that. I will post again as soon as I learn more.

Just talked with Amanda…apparently they are choosing to perform the angiogram as a precautionary measure expecting to find additional areas of vaso spasm with the intention of treating them at the source. Amanda mentioned that the doctors HAD in fact begun weaning Kevin off of his BP medication, but as soon as it got below 160 systolic (top number), Kevin would get very lethargic and unresponsive.

Obviously, we need to get Kevin off of the BP medication w/o experiencing any neuro-deficiency. This may sound like an odd request, but please pray that they DO in fact find areas of vaso spasm and that they will be easily treated. We (I) will feel much better having been able to pinpoint the source of Kevin’s problem.

The angiogram went very well. There were a few “minor” areas of spasm found that the doctors were able to treat medically. They also re-confirmed that the right-front portion of Kevin’s brain is still very swollen. These two issues, coupled with the fact that Kevin does definitely have some sort of stomach bacteria (on the down-hill side of dealing with this) have been more than enough to explain the confusion Kevin has been experiencing when his blood pressure is allowed to return to a more normal level. The plan for now is to keep Kevin’s BP elevated for at least 1-2 more days before having another go at the weaning process.

Wow…ok, deep breath. I can’t remember the specific verse…the one about God giving strength to the weary, but I’m claiming that one right now. Please take a moment to THANK GOD for His faithfulness. Now if only I could figure out how to actually let go of this thing altogether. I could “claim” that it’s just not in my personality…but that would be a cop-out. I really liked the analogy Judy Wood posted earlier today… “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on…and know that it’s actually God doing the “hanging on” as He gently cradles us in the palm of His hand. I’m really liking that visual at the moment.

Things have remained very stable…and have actually improved a bit since Kevin’s angiogram. As mentioned in the previous post, the doctors have agreed to keep Kevin’s blood pressure elevated for the time being, but the good news there is that they are having to use less medication to accomplish this goal, actually reducing his doses at three different times today. One of the scarier parts of last night’s experience was that the doctors/nurses were getting very close to maxing out BOTH medications they’ve been using to elevate Kev’s BP…one (Phenylephrine) was in fact maxed out at 200 mcg/min before they decided to write up new orders to increase it to 400 mcg/min (now at 240 mcg/min) and the other (Norepinephrine) was up to 18 mcg/min with the max being 20 mcg/min (now at 4 mcg/min)…and at these higher doses, his heart was starting to show signs of stress. So praise God for this answer to prayer!

He is awake now after having rested well throughout much of the day. He is currently running a fever, and is sweating quite a bit…has been for about the past 24-36 hours. This is nothing the doctors seem too incredibly concerned about, but it does make Kevin uncomfortable to be soaking his pillows and sheets. One noticeable improvement in Kevin’s condition is that he is actually using a rag all by himself to wipe down his face from time to time. We also got a fan in his room to just help move some of the air around in an attempt to help keep him cool. Part of what makes him so warm (in my opinion…I know it would make me warm!) is that he’s having to wear these “cuffs” on his lower legs that constantly inflate and deflate to help reduce the chance of blood clots. He’s also been wearing these “boots” that keep his feet and ankles from “drooping” so that when he is ready to get up out of bed and do some walking, he won’t have to first rehabilitate his ankle joints. Both of these devices are rather bulky and uncomfortable…and we’re doing our best to take them off from time to time just to let Kevin’s legs and feet “breathe.”

Wow…just sat here and watched Kevin “struggle” with grabbing the cord that’s attached to his TV remote. Normally, I’d hop right up and get this for him and put it in his hand, showing him the button to push to change the channels and the button NOT to push for calling the nurse. However, this time I just sat back and watched him do it all himself…all except for not pushing the button to call the nurse, who promptly poked her head in and smiled, knowing exactly what was going on. Praise God for these little “signs” of improvement…HUGE pieces of “fruit”…along the road to Kevin’s recovery!

I’ve been made aware through numerous encouraging emails and even via several of the “posters” themselves on this website that this blog has itself morphed into a spiritual “re-awakening” for many who’ve taken the time to read about Kevin’s progress. I feel the need to reiterate the fact that this was never my intention…this was never meant to be about me, although I will readily admit that it has developed into my “quiet place” where I come to sit, reflect & digest all of the events going on in my/our life/lives.

That being said, I will be the first to give all PRAISE, HONOR & GLORY to God for using this blog as an instrument for reaching those who’ve never personally felt the AMAZING & REDEEMING touch of the Holy Spirit upon their lives. Before this journey began nearly 2 ½ weeks ago, I would be the first to admit that the LAST thing I would ever want to do would be to appear “preachy.” Well, given the events of these past 18 days…the countless miracles and “smiles from God”…the numerous times that God has chosen to “show up and show off”…I’m now EAGER to share the power and blessings of the GIFT…the GIFT that Jesus Christ is in my life… the oh-so amazing GIFT that I honestly feel, for the first time in my life, I have been allowed to experience first-hand. I prayerfully ask that, even in some small way, you too would be blessed to experience a similar “awakening”…spiritually, of course…but so much more than that. I pray that living out this experience via these updates will encourage you to LIVE your life more passionately, to LOVE your friends and family more frequently & openly…and, most important of all, that it might EMPOWER you to share the gift of Jesus Christ more FREELY, GENEROUSLY & UNABASHEDLY with those whom God has placed in your life.

One other quick story to add from this evening…
During the course of one of my conversations with Kevin this evening, I just laid my head on his chest and said, “Kevin, I am SO PROUD of you. You are doing so much better than I would ever be able to do.” To which he replied, “It’s not easy.” I said, “I know it’s not easy, but you know what? God doesn’t give us challenges He knows we can’t handle. And this is such a HUGE challenge…it just tells me that God must REALLY think an awful lot of you. Once you get better, it’s going to be AWESOME to see how God uses this experience in your life to further His Kingdom.”
Kevin’s response… “Yeah…it will.”

Please continue to pray for Kevin’s blood pressure, that it might regulate itself over the course of the next 24 hours. He’s currently sitting at 210/104…a bit higher than his parameters allow for at the moment. They will continue to reduce his “presser” meds to bring it back down…but the ultimate goal will be to slowly remove the “pusher” meds altogether with Kevin’s body establishing and supporting a healthy BP all on its own.

Wow…I’m LOVING these small yet significant steps towards getting our Kevin back! His feeding tube came out sometime yesterday (actually, I think it was inadvertently removed during his angiogram), but the doctors were fine with leaving it out. So now, anytime he needs to take meds…Tylenol for example…they have to be ground up and mixed in with food. We just did this, feeding him a bit of applesauce w/ the ground up Tylenol. The most exciting part though was when HE actually grabbed the cup of “thickened milk” and started drinking it HIMSELF without any assistance. In fact, I had to slow him down a bit…only because his current orders are to take “sips only” from cups. He was much more in a gulping mood. Praise God!

Had another good round of doctor’s visits this morning. First was Dr. Dowd, Kevin’s Interventional Radiologist (angiogram guy). He actually saw me out in the hallway and stopped to visit. Have I mentioned that I really like this guy? He’s the type who wears those round sports-photo buttons w/ his kids’ pictures on his white lab coat…very centered and very down-to-earth. He never just talks business, but always makes time to just “visit”…about the NFL playoffs, about his kids’ sports teams, about these islands off the coast of San Francisco that we could see clear as day a few days back…something like 25 miles off the coast, lots of birds = lots of seals = lots of sharks. He said it’s a haven for marine biologists and tour boats who actually know most of the sharks by name. Anyway, that’s just the kind of guy he is.

Dr. Dowd’s report was that Kevin’s angiogram was a breeze (a report he gave last night, but I was at the hotel asleep). He said they found a few areas of “minor” spasms and went ahead and treated them medicinally. He also said that he’s confident that we are now clearly past the “window” for further vaso spasms! This is huge because, unlike brain swelling (which Kevin is also currently experiencing), vaso spasms, if bad enough and left untreated, can lead to permanent brain injury due to starving areas of the brain of oxygenated blood. He again reiterated that Kevin looked good and that with each passing day, we were getting further and further away from the “woods.”

I also met briefly with Dr. Flint. He, too, was pleased with Kevin’s progress. My dad asked him why Kevin had been so lucid and conversant just 2-3 days post-op, but since his vaso spasm episode over the weekend had not seemed to recover quite to that level of lucidity. Dr. Flint explained that Kevin’s episode over the weekend was only partially due to vaso spasms…that the other two factors, brain swelling and Kevin’s bacterial infection, were also major players in the event…with the brain swelling being the main culprit. He went on to explain that Kevin, 2-3 days post-op, was doing MUCH better than anyone had expected…and that the major reason for Kevin’s regression was more than likely due to the fact that the swelling in Kevin’s brain had not yet reached its peak. He feels that it now has in fact reached its peak…and that we should start to see signs of improvement over the next 24-48 hours…which, if you’ve read my previous 2-3 posts, we already have.

Of course, no one is making any guarantees. But Kevin is a fighter to say the least.

Amanda has shared with me that throughout her marriage to my brother, they would often pray together that God would not hesitate to challenge them spiritually. Truth be told, I’ve prayed the same thing myself within the past couple of months. I hesitate to quote the old adage of “Being careful what you ask for…” because I’m not so sure that this has been all bad. I know that from a personal perspective, this experience has challenged me…pushed me…beyond my wildest expectations, spiritually, emotionally, physically, etc. I thank God for His vote of confidence in knowing that I am strong enough to handle something like this. Like I said to Kevin this morning, God wouldn’t allow this kind of challenge to be thrown at just anybody.

As Sami so acutely pointed out this morning in her posting, my “reality”…our “reality…of what life IS is now very different from the reality we lived in just 3 weeks ago…and that today’s reality may be very different from the reality we are presented with tomorrow. Bottom line is we don’t control the variables that create our reality…but we do control how we respond and react to our reality. To borrow a line from Casting Crowns, I choose toPRAISE Him in this storm!”

No real “new” info to post other than the doctors are now “allowing” Kevin’s BP to fall to 150. This is a step in direction of moving Kevin out of the ICU…which very well may happen as early as Saturday, maybe Sunday at the latest assuming (praying) that everything continues as the doctors predict. Kevin is noticeably lethargic today…I’m personally not sure if this is from the lowered BP or from the fact that he didn’t sleep much last night. The speech pathologist did come in today and is willing to wait another day or two before really forcing Kevin to start using his voice…having been intubated three different times in the last 10 days or so would discourage even the most vocal of blabber-mouths to yapping it up. She’s indicated that if he still doesn’t have his voice in the next day or two that they can use some sort of endoscopic instrument to visually assess his vocal chords to see if they were injured/damaged during any of the intubation/extubation procedures.

He continues to eat fairly well…the potential problem now is going to be pumping enough calories into his system to sustain a guy of his stature. That’s an awful lot of applesauce and thickened milk. They’ve ordered up some special “shakes” that are supposedly very high calorie and full of good nutrients, so hopefully they taste halfway good and he’ll be eager to eat them.

Personally, I took some “me-time” this afternoon and hit the streets of San Francisco…wow. I was literally asked if I wanted to buy pot AT LEAST twice. I say “at least” because I was wearing my iPod and noticed several other guys asking me something…I just figured they were panhandling. But, now that I think about it, I guess the gold teeth and “bling-bling” they were sporting didn’t really fit the whole “down-on-my-luck” schpeel…so I guess I could have been “solicited” as many as 5 or 6 times. Obviously, I need to check out ANOTHER area of town the next time I head out for some photo-therapy. One of the kids…probably 16…asked if I wanted to buy “a fat bag.” I told him no, but wanted to know if he’d mind me taking a picture of him with one of his “fat bags.” He thought it sounded like a good idea…but when he asked his boss, I could tell that I needed to “get ‘out ‘da neighborhood.”

Going to try and get some rest now. This is my least favorite part of the day…very hard to shut my mind down and go to sleep. Please pray for good, peaceful rest for all of us.

Kevin seemed to rest well last night. The doctors continue to wean him off of his “presser” meds that have been used for the past 5 days or so to increase his blood pressure. His parameters are currently anything between 150-170…he is often falling below the 150 number, but the nurses are right on top of it…not to say that it is a “bad” thing for him to get into the 140’s…just not something the doctors have ordered yet.

Just had a quick visit with Dr. Sanai…he likes what he sees, saying that Kevin appears to be “right on track.” This always feels GREAT to hear. We, of course, would like to see a bit more activity and “spunk” out of Kevin…but are confident in God’s promises that we WILL see that in due time.

Again, I/we cannot thank you enough for your prayers. We feel them every minute of every day. Please continue to especially lift my mom up in prayer as this entire experience has really taken its toll on her nerves and spirit.

I simply cannot find the words to describe Amanda’s vigilance throughout this entire journey. Her steadfast faithfulness and attentiveness to Kevin’s needs…it’s just very touching to witness first hand. She is an AMAZING woman of God, and I have to take my hat off to her parents, Randy and Kathy, for raising such a remarkable young woman.

I’ll do my best to check in later after I’ve had the chance to visit with more doctors. Until then, GO TEAM!

Couple of quick updates…
Kevin was actually moved into a chair today for about 1 ½ hours. He continues to eat well, but his voice has not yet returned…and he continues to be quite lethargic. This is all “par for the course” and “right on track” according to each of the doctors and various other medical experts who are staying right on top of Kevin’s progress.

I hesitate to look too far down the road, as we have learned to expect the unexpected over these past couple of weeks. We have also lost another person in our rotation here in San Francisco, as Mom is flying home today to begin preparing the house for Kevin & Amanda’s eventual return.

Nurse Lisa (Dr. Lawton’s nurse) mentioned that if Kevin continues to progress as he has these past couple of days, he will probably be moved to a “step-down” room as early as Monday. I will admit that I’m not exactly sure what a “step-down” room is…except for the fact that it’s not nearly as intense &/or intensive as the ICU, and is more conducive for conducting in-room physical/occupational/speech/etc. therapy. Once this move IS made, I am unaware as to how long he may be kept there before one of the following scenarios would go into effect:
#1: transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation center in San Francisco
#2: transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation center in OKC (Jim Thorpe?)
#3: transferred home for out-patient rehabilitation

I need to be sleeping, but it just isn't happening right now. Just got back from taking Amanda some "lunch" and a "Venti Cafe Mocha w/ an extra shot, whipped, extra hot"...whew! And to think that I used to be INTIMIDATED by the mere THOUGHT of ordering stuff from Starbucks!

Anyway, when I walked in Kevin's room, he again had the TV remote in hand surfing channels. He's still not speaking much...but in relation to the amount he was speaking yesterday and even this morning, he's actually made some improvement in that area. Dr. Lawton has ordered some sort of "speech/language workup" that should take place within the next day or so to see if he in fact has an injury to his vocal chords...or if he's just plain tired.

I wasn't really sure WHY I had the urge to take Amanda her sandwich and coffee...but now I realize that I clearly needed a reminder that GOD IS GOOD AND OH SO INCREDIBLY FAITHFUL!!!

Here in Kev’s room again. I bought him some portable speakers that plug right into your iPod…no batteries required…so we’re jamming out to some Nickel Creek at the moment. Well, I’m jamming while Kevin is sleeping.

Pretty quiet night. The walk over was wonderful…crisp air, but not too cold. I actually picked up a UCSF sweatshirt for myself in the bookstore today, and that’s all I needed to stay cozy on the walk over. That’s a wonderful experience after the chilly weather we’ve been having out here the past few days…who knew San Francisco had freeze warnings? I know, I know…everyone else back in Oklahoma is iced in under 14 feet of snow and sleet, so I need to quit whining. Point taken.

Kevin’s been asleep since I came and relieved Amanda around 1:30am. She said that his blood pressure parameters have actually now been lowered to 110 for the top number (systolic)…they’ve never really paid much attention to the bottom (diastolic) number. If I’m understanding it right, and this goes all the way back to Coach Bell’s “Honors Biology II” class at DCHS, the top number is the measurement of the peak amount of pressure experienced inside your blood vessels as the heart is forcing blood through your system…where the bottom number is the lowest amount of pressure experienced in your vessels while the heart is “resting” in between beats. I know I’ve got at least 3 doctors reading this blog on a regular basis, so I’m sure they’ll correct me if I’m wrong.

The following is a brief description of the blood pressure saga…if you’re bored by medical jibber-jabber (that’s “Mr. T” for “talk”), you might want to skip this paragraph. Besides, I’m no doctor, so I’m probably just making most of this stuff up any…
When we first checked into the hospital in OKC, the doctors were ADAMANT that Kevin’s systolic BP (the top number) NOT GO ABOVE 140 due to the fact that his aneurysm had ruptured, but had fortunately clotted itself. Anything above 140 and they feared that the clot would be disrupted, leading to further bleeding. Once surgery was performed, that number really became a non-issue, as they were (and still are) confident that the original bleed had been successfully clipped. However, around 3 or 4 days post-op, Kevin began experiencing a sudden onset of confusion and regressed noticeably from the progress he had made in the few days since coming out of surgery. At this point the doctors went in and performed another angiogram (#3) and found/treated (2 medicinally & 1 via angioplasty) 3 areas of Kevin’s brain that were experiencing the expected phenomenon of “vaso spasm”…where his blood vessels/arteries had started to constrict due to the presence of blood in the brain (apparently when the vessels/arteries sense the presence of blood on the outside of the vessel/artery, it thinks that the it is responsible for the bleed…so it will constrict to try and slow down the loss of blood that it thinks is occurring . At this point, they also adjusted the blood pressure “game plan” to ALLOW FOR NOTHING BELOW 180. In fact, it was at this point that the term “parameters” first started being thrown around…simply meaning that they were OK with a “window” of possible numbers…in this case, anything from 180-200. This was achieved by administering a couple of different “presser” medications that forced Kevin’s BP to rise…therefore “forcing” blood to circulate with Kevin’s body, including his brain, at a higher “rate of speed/pressure” (my analogy…not the doctors’), ensuring that all areas of his brain were receiving adequate oxygenated blood…even with the constricted vessels and arteries within his brain. We then experienced one evening of Kevin needing fairly significant doses of these presser medications to keep his BP elevated, which then started to show signs of stress on his heart. Needless to say, it was a pretty long night. The doctors did try bringing his BP back down a couple of days ago, but again Kevin experienced confusion and noticeable regression. At this point, he was taken in for angiogram #4 where very “minor” signs of vaso spasms were noted…some medication given via the catheter…and it was noted that Kevin’s brain was still significantly swollen. This was presented as very good news by Dr. Dowd & Dr. Sanai…both explaining that the swelling, though more prominent than expected, would go away. They also explained that the swelling was more than likely the most likely culprit in the confusion/regression Kevin was experiencing when his BP was lowered. They were also very excited to inform us that they were confident that we were on the tail-end of the vaso spasms…that it was these nasty vaso spasms that, if too intense or left untreated, can and do lead to permanent brain injury.

So, that brings us to today (well, yesterday technically). Dr. Sanai visited with me yesterday morning and explained (as posted above) that Kevin was “right on track” and that he planned to begin weaning Kevin off of the presser meds with the goal of returning his BP to it’s normal, drug-free level. Currently, Kevin’s parameters are anything from 110-130 or 140…not sure of the high end. However, he is currently hovering the 110 mark…and his Phenylephrine that had been maxed out at 400 mcg/min the other night (in addition to almost having his other presser med nearly maxed) is currently at 60 mcg/min with the other med having been completely turned off since early yesterday morning….PRAISE GOD!

Kevin’s waking up, so I’m going to sign off for now. Looking forward to delivering more good news tomorrow! Thank you all so much for your continued thoughts and prayers. It is truly amazing to stop and think of the vast numbers of people that have rallied around my brother in prayer. We are eternally grateful to you all!

Just got Kevin bathed, changed and into some clean sheets…not me personally, I’m more than happy to let the nurses take care of that for the time being. Every now and then he will just start sweating profusely…soaking his gown (I’ve taken to calling it a mini-skirt, b/c that’s about all it covers on him…poor kid) and sheets. This isn’t something that worries the doctors…just part of the process. I joked with one of the nurses tonight that he’s probably just going through withdrawal now that they’ve weaned him from the vast cocktail of drugs he’s had coursing through his veins these past 20 days!

Anyway, he was awake during the process of getting him re-situated…so I leaned over him and said, “Hey man…how ya doing? I was expecting a “thumbs up” or “A-OK” sign…but instead got a “Pretty good…how are you?” Again…all of these wonderful pieces of fruit along the road to recovery.

More progress on his blood pressure…the only remaining pressure med he’s receiving is now down to 10 mcg/min…and he’s holding steady at 120-130/50-ish.

I’ve been wanting to sit down for several days now and just put together a list of things for which I am SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL. There is absolutely no way I could ever make this an all-inclusive list, but as our (Kevin & I) buddy Ray so wisely put it in an email he sent me a day or so ago, Kevin’s ordeal has given him a “massive case of perspective.” I’ll try to work on this some over the course of the next day or two. I figured at least writing that I was planning on doing it would add some motivation to getting it done.

Kevin has been completely off of the presser meds for about 45 minutes now, and his BP is holding steady…currently 122/49 (we’re able to monitor his BP “real-time” thanks to his A-line, which they did have to re-do AGAIN tonight…at least the 5th one since we’ve been here. It’s not the doctors’/nurses’ fault…Kevin apparently just has tricky veins). Praise God…yet another answered prayer in a long, long line of answered prayers! Please pray for continued stability now that he is off of these drugs…and is in fact now “drug free,” except for the occasional Tylenol for headache.

Another good morning for Kevin! I’m currently at the hotel, but last I saw, Kevin was still off of his BP medication and his BP continues to be stable. On top of that, the nurse had adjusted his bed so that he was sitting almost straight up…something that in the past had caused his BP to drop dramatically…so something else to be thankful for!

As I was leaving, the nurses were just starting to move Kevin from his bed into a chair for some therapy. I’m sure this is exciting, refreshing, painful & exhausting for Kevin all at the same time. It has to feel great to get out of bed after having been nearly flat on his back for so long. This is of course not the first time he’s been in the chair (two other times that I can remember), but he is still very, very stiff and, even though the PT people are surprised by his strength, he is still quite weak when you think about the type of condition he was in just 3 weeks ago.

He is also talking more today…not a lot, but more. I think as the swelling in his brain continues to relax, and as his brain physically realigns itself to its normal position within his skull, we will continue to experience some peaks and valleys…but right now, there are a lot more peaks than there are valleys…and that feels awesome!

I’m headed out for some more photo-therapy. I think today I will make a left-turn as opposed to a right…and try to avoid making any more friends of the caliber I experience just this past Thursday. I’ve enjoyed playing with the pictures I’ve taken, and have even had some people via email suggest I make them available for purchase…kind of as a fundraiser for Kevin…??? I’m open to this idea. If this sounds appealing to anyone, just shoot me an email & I’ll try to get an idea as to exactly WHICH picture/s people are most drawn to. I can print up to 20”x30”…on regular photo paper, or even on canvas w/ or without stretcher frame…all sorts of fancy stuff. I’m just throwing this out there because it’s been brought up, so just shoot me an email if it sounds interesting: I know that Ray has also been posting info on a fund he’s set up at Canadian State Bank…something that I’ve not felt comfortable making a part of the “official blog”…but worth mentioning anyhow as long as the picture idea is being voiced. I can feel myself starting to ramble, so I will do everyone the favor of hitting the streets at this point and avoiding any and all potential sting operations.

Kevin remains off of all presser meds (BP is currently 133/53), and is only receiving NaCl via IV at the moment (that’s “salt” for all of the chemistry flunkies out there)…in order to help his body retain some of the fluids he’s lost over the past couple of weeks. It’s such a balancing act, isn’t it??? Several days ago we were PRAYING ERNESTLY that Kevin’s body would get rid of the excess fluid buildup…and the doctors have even given him 2-3 rounds of Lasix in order to aid his body in this effort. Currently, I don’t think this is something that necessarily concerns the doctors…just an explanation as to why he’s receiving the sodium drip.

Kevin was up in his “neuro-chair” on two different occasions today! His first stint was for about 90 minutes, and the 2nd time for 3 hours! I’ve yet to experience this event, and Kevin readily admits that it wears him out (and hurts his butt…his words, not mine), but it is oh so encouraging for Amanda and my Dad to see him up out of the bed!

His appetite seems healthy as well, as he is eating everything he’s being presented with. This is important because as of today, Kevin is 20 lbs. lighter than he was 3 weeks ago when he first checked in to the ICU @ Mercy. He really does seem to enjoy the high-calorie protein shakes…and I think as long as we keep calling them “protein shakes” and not “fat-man drinks,” he will continue to eagerly drink them down.

I was able to visit with Kevin for a bit this afternoon after walking the streets of San Francisco and having lunch with my dad. When I asked him how his spirit was, I could sense a brief moment of hesitation before he said, “It’s OK.” I think that the more Kevin comes out of his mental fog, the easier it’s going to be for him to become bored/frustrated/anxious/etc. Part of this is actually an answer to prayer…and let’s not forget that! The fact that he IS becoming both more coherent and verbal is a WONDERFUL sign that all of us rejoice in daily! However, I would ask that you continue to pray for Kevin’s spirit…that he may find himself encouraged and energized as can only be bestowed by God…and that WE might know how to best support Kevin EACH new day of his recovery.

As I mentioned above, I was able to meet my dad today for lunch. This may sound like a pretty simple event, given that we’ve been together now for about 21 days and counting…but our individual “shift schedules” are so unaccommodating, this really was a pretty big accomplishment. And those of you who know my dad have also no doubt, at some point in your relationship, been guided to AT LEAST one obscure, off-the-beaten-track, hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon-ish eating establishment. Most people remember vacations by tourist attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and the Golden Gate Bridge. My dad on the other hand catalogues his extensive list of travels by the restaurants worth re-visiting and/or recommending. Ask my dad if he’s been to NYC and he’ll send you to “Il Vagabondo”…Kansas City and it’s “Arthur Bryant’s” or “Gates”…Santa Barbara and it’s “La Playa Azul” or the “Beachside Bar Café” at Goleta Beach…you get the point. Anyway, today we got to add another restaurant to the list of San Francisco eateries…one that he’d tried yesterday on his own and really enjoyed… “Toasties” down between 9th & 10th on Irving. We each split a crab melt and tuna melt (2 different sandwiches…I’m not THAT brave!), and then each had our own cup of clam chowder. Anyway, the food was good…but the conversation was GREAT! One of the blessings of this journey has been the opportunity to grow as a family…and I felt that today was a wonderful “growth spurt” for me and my dad. The topic of conversation wasn’t really what made this a special time for me…I think it was just more the fact that instead of visiting “father-to-son,” we actually visited more “man-to-man”…if that even makes sense. It does to me, and I guess that’s all that really matters.

Anyway, Kevin’s been asleep since about 11:30ish this evening. Amanda mentioned that he had started getting pretty agitated around 11:00pm, and when asked how his pain was, he said it was about a 4-5. She encouraged him to take some Tylenol…and he at first refused. When pressed as to why he didn’t want any, he said “It would be too much trouble.” Amanda of course assured him that it was no trouble at all, and that was exactly why we had all of these nurses floating around at all hours of the day/night. So, after a little bit of arm twisting, he agreed to take a “little” Tylenol, and was asleep within 5 minutes.

We’re excited for the days to come...feel like we’re really on a roll of “good days” and looking (praying!) to continue this streak of positive steps towards Kevin’s full recovery.

I was able to a bit more “photo-therapy” and hope to play with some of the images overnight while Kevin sleeps. Once finished, I’ll probably just post them in the same gallery as the others…the link is provided in a subsequent post.

So Kevin starts getting a little agitated, actually swinging his legs over the bedrail. I’ve watched him do this before, and have had to literally encourage him to sit back and relax…reassuring him that everything is fine and that his JOB right now is to rest and relax. Well, just now, instead of grabbing his legs and putting them back into bed…I just leaned over him and asked, “Kevin, what is it you want right now…maybe I can help get it for you?” He replied in a very weak and groggy voice, “Sometimes you just have to go for it.” “Go for what?” I asked. “The great escape.” I should have known better than to even have asked.

Anyway, to help alleviate some of his restlessness, we worked on stretching his hamstrings and hips. He seemed to enjoy this…hopefully something he can even start doing on his own as a way to begin getting his muscles back into shape.

I’m back at the hotel now…was going to try and get a massage before sneaking a nap, but they’re all booked up. As I left the hotel, Kevin was sitting in his “neuro-chair”…basically a big chair that folds all sorts of ways and has a special contraption to help him hold his head steady. They fed him breakfast while sitting in the chair today, and when I poked my head in to tell him and dad “goodnight” (for me, anyway), they were actually playing catch with this soft gel-type ball that Amanda had picked up either yesterday or the day before. I am proud (and a bit jealous) to report that Kevin still has perfect form on his “jump-shot”…though his catching abilities do need some work. I though it would be fun to actually get him a Nerf basketball goal to hang in his room for him to practice shooting with…so I might try to find my way to a Target at some point today.

Kevin remains off of all medications…not even sure that he’s even getting the sodium drip anymore. The nurse indicated that the labs she got back early this morning showed his sodium level to be w/in the accepted “norm”…so they may have cut that off as well. At this point, Kevin really has 4 jobs/tasks/responsibilities that we would like to ask that you pray for…
#1: Eating enough calories to maintain/put back on some of the 20 lbs. he’s already lost since checking into the hospital 3 weeks ago.
#2: Resting as much as possible to regain his strength.
#3: Actively participating in all sorts of intense therapies…physical/speech/occupational/etc. I have no doubt that he’s willing…but this leads us to #4…
#4: Maintaining a positive attitude…a topic on which Kevin has in a sense “written the book.” However, as he becomes more mentally coherent of all that is going on around him, he will no doubt become more restless and impatient with the process of recovery…something that we find ourselves dealing with as well.

I did get a chance to post the pics from my most recent photo-therapy session (yesterday’s walk-around). These pictures aren’t quite as “interesting” as my first session, but they are included in the same gallery as the other pictures…so viewer beware. HERE’S THE LINK

Another quiet night in the NICU here at UCSF Hospital. Kevin is resting well despite the fact that he is not feeling more “pain” as a result of his surgery…a good thing in my uneducated opinion…means that he can actually feel the pain and is self-aware enough to know that he’s hurting a bit. They have medication for him that seems to do the trick just fine…it’s just convincing him to take some that seems to be the most difficult hurdle these days.

When I got to the hospital tonight around 3am (I actually overslept…felt VERY good to get a few extra hours of sleep), our nurse grabbed me and said, “Did you see him playing catch with your dad earlier today? That was awesome! When I came on shift, Nancy (yesterday’s day nurse) hollered at me and said, ‘Jane…come here! You have to see this!’ That’s GREAT! I’m so impressed!” Anyway, to say the least, seeing her so excited absolutely made my day.

Today should be a busy day…hopefully moving to a new room on the “step-down” ward. It will feel very good to be out of the ICU, way too intense at times. Not to play Dr. Doom, but we’ve now experienced two “Code Blues” where one patient directly across the hall from Kevin’s room and another just a couple of rooms down actually died…one our 2nd night here, and the other just yesterday. It’s not even possible to describe the feelings/thoughts/anxiety an experience like that creates. Again, we are REALLY looking forward to moving into our new room.

Kevin rested well all night…that’s one of his 4 jobs I mentioned earlier.
Please keep lifting up in prayer his 4 “jobs” as we are now transitioning into “recovery/recuperation” mode (Praise God!). They are:
#1: Eating enough calories to maintain/put back on some of the 20 lbs. he’s already lost since checking into the hospital 3 weeks ago.
#2: Resting as much as possible to regain his strength.
#3: Actively participating in all sorts of intense therapies…physical/speech/occupational/etc. I have no doubt that he’s willing…but this leads us to #4…
#4: Maintaining a positive attitude…a topic on which Kevin has in a sense “written the book.” However, as he becomes more mentally coherent of all that is going on around him, he will no doubt become more restless and impatient with the process of recovery…something that we find ourselves dealing with as well.

If you’ll permit me a quick inside joke…
Russ…aka the “Flip Flop Bandit”…had requested some “real” pictures of San Francisco, namely a picture of the Carl Hotel. So, what does one do with 8 hours to himself in a dark hospital room??? CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT.

As a reminder…
For those of you brave enough to check out some of the pictures from my photo-therapy session a couple of days ago, you can CLICK HERE or visit
I will remind/warn you though…I was in a pretty rough area of town, so not all of the pictures are what I would consider “family friendly.”
That being said, I ESPECIALLY like the story that goes along with THIS picture.

Just had a great visit with Dr. Sanai who said he’s so pleased with Kevin’s current status that he plans to discharge him from the NICU today and into a REGULAR hospital room…skipping the “Step-Down Ward” altogether. He did mention that skipping the step-down ward is the normal course of action for aneurysm surgery patients…as long as everyone is comfortable with the stability of the patient at the time of discharge. He said that we would also be more comfortable in a regular room due to the fact that the regular room would be a private room compared to sharing a step-down room with another patient. He also mentioned that the other major difference between regular and step-down is that the neuro-test is given every 2-hours in the step-down room, whereas it’s every 4-hours in the regular room. When I asked for an approximate time that all of this might take place, he said that it would probably happen sometime before noon…as long as there was an available room.

I feel the need to just stop right now and give thanks to God for this HUGE step towards Kevin’s full recovery…as well as thanks to EVERYONE who’s been lifting Kevin up in prayer. Prayer works people! If you take nothing else from the experience of following this blog, please take with you the absolute knowledge that PRAYER WORKS! God is listening…and I believe with all my heart that He is taking GREAT pride and joy in answering the thousands of petitions that are daily…hourly…being laid before His feet.

We thank and LOVE you all!

Just got a text from Amanda…said that they have yet to find Kevin a room, so he remains in the ICU for the time being. This process of “finding an available room” could take up to a couple of days, so we’re not all that worried about it…though it will be nice to remove ourselves from the often “intense” ICU. Amanda also mentioned that Kevin would be having his staples removed pretty quick…I counted a few days ago and lost track around 45-46. Speaking from experience w/ my back & shoulder surgeries, this is not a painful process…just feels kind of “weird.” Amanda confirmed my memories with her own experience of having staples removed from her OWN head after a car wreck several years ago.

I’m in the process of getting ready for bed…at 3:48 in the afternoon. Still not used to this, and it is by far my least favorite part of the day. I’d much rather be up at the hospital with Kevin…but I do need to sleep at some point. I was fortunate in that the “massage/yoga” place right next door to the hotel had an opening (for a massage…not yoga), so I was able to sneak in some “me” time…should/is helping me relax. That in and of itself was a bit of a cathartic experience…but being that we’re in San Francisco, I think they’re probably used to stuff like that.

I’ll leave you for now with Isaiah 41:10…
“I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Kevin is now officially out of the NICU…has been for quite some time actually, just haven’t had a chance to add the actual “move” to the blog. I was sleeping when it all went down, probably around 5:00-ish last night??? Anyway, they still don’t have any private rooms available, so we’re currently sharing a room w/ this poor guy who has the worst cough…I’m feeling much more sorry for him that I am for myself. Kevin is sleeping through the entire thing, so no harm, no foul.

He did wake up about an hour ago and just sat up in bed…didn’t try to get out (thank God), just sat up. I asked him how his pain was, and he said it was a 4-5…so we got him some medicine and he went right back to sleep.

I can’t tell you how NICE it feels to be out of the ICU. The only downside to the current room (other than sharing w/ the guy on the other side of the curtain) is that there’s no internet access…so I won’t have a chance to upload this until later this morning. No big deal…WELL worth the trade off.

Kevin’s doctors and nurses continue to be pleased with his progress and current “status.” The next couple of days will be huge in deciding both how and when we get to take Kevin home. The “how” could be via commercial jet, private jet or even medi-flight back to OKC…whatever the doctors decide is the least taxing on Kevin both mentally and physically. The “when” is really up to the therapists and how they feel Kevin is progressing in all facets of his recovery. Once the feel he is stable enough to make the trip home, they will let the doctors know this and, if the doctors concur, they will sign off and we’ll be headed back to God’s Country. Once home, and you’ll have to forgive me if I’ve already reported on this part of the process, he will more than likely be checked into a rehabilitation center for in-patient rehab. Again, the next 48-72 hours will play a big part in that decision-making process. But we’ve been told to prepare for this, and our case manager here in San Francisco is already making contact with a couple of rehab centers in OKC anticipating that this will be the case. Personally, I will be very surprised if Kevin is NOT checked in for in-patient rehab. I think in the long run this will be the easiest on everyone…at least for the time being, as he will require HOURS of rehab…physical/speech/occupational/etc…each and every day.

I mentioned a few days ago (or was it just yesterday?) that I wanted to make a list of things I was thankful for…here are a few, in no particular order, of what is undoubtedly a very long and far from all-inclusive list:
- A supportive family unit…both immediate as well as my “in-laws” and their help in caring for Amy & Eli throughout this entire experience.
- My wife…not even really sure what to say here. She is absolutely the BEST thing that has ever happened to me.
- My parents and the fact that they have stuck it out through thick and thin. I absolutely can not imagine facing this ordeal with a “broken family.” They truly are my heroes and I look up to them both more than they will ever know.
- My co-workers and everyone’s willingness…eagerness…to pick up the slack in my absence. The only pressure I’ve felt over the past 23 days to get back for work purposes has been self-induced. Thank you guys! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
- The fact that I truly feel that in the 29 years that Kevin & I have been brothers, we’ve had a more fruitful, loving & prolific relationship than most brothers will ever experience during an entire lifetime. I can not tell you how excited I am to grow that relationship exponentially in the months and years to come!
- Most importantlymy personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the opportunity…the gift…of fostering THIS relationship over the past 3+ weeks. As Kevin’s condition continues to improve, my only fear is that I might lose this sense of urgency I’ve discovered (or has it discovered me?) to really become intimate with my Lord and Savior as the loving, personal and faithful FRIEND he has shown Himself to be throughout this journey.

Kevin is apparently feeling a bit more “spunky” this morning. He just sat up on his own and looked as if he was ready to go somewhere. I slipped some shoes on him and helped him stand up three times in a row…a bit wobbly, but who wouldn’t be after spending 99% of the last 23 days flat on their back.

Dad just called as well (he’s now up in the room w/ Kevin, and I’m back in the 11th floor waiting room where I can jump on the internet…8:58am) to say that Kevin is sitting up in bed feeding himself breakfast…WOW! Why do these things even surprise me anymore???

to be redirected to PAGE 2 of this blog.
PAGE 2: Kevin's Update Blog
:: PAGE 2: Kevin's Update Blog ::
kevin flex.jpg
kevin flex.jpg
kevin concentrate.jpg
kevin concentrate.jpg
9-30-06SHS Hall of Fame11.jpg
9-30-06SHS Hall of Fame11.jpg