Saturday, December 17, 2011

August 7, 2011 - The Beginning

James 4:13-17 

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Are you trusting in the security of a good home, good job, good health, financial blessings?   Do you plan for tomorrow, next month, next year, retirement, etc. as if you have it all under control and know what will happen?     According to Scripture,  you are boasting in your arrogance.   Instead, we should trust the LORD to give us the grace to make it through each day in complete dependence that He will guide us and give us what we need for the future.

Here is Jake's story.   On Saturday August 6th, 2011, we did not know what tomorrrow would bring.....

It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Paradise Valley.....the sun had just risen over the Absarokas and was shining through the great room window.....Matt was basking in the sunshine, having his Sunday morning coffee.    The Wolfe Pack children  were scurrying around the house getting ready for a morning of worship and fellowship with the body of Christ in downtown Livingston.

Shannon noticed that all of the children had eaten breakfast except for Jake.....she figured he must have slept through his alarm.  Although he enjoys sleeping in,  it was unusual for Jake not to be at the breakfast table.

Shannon wandered downstairs to Jake's bedroom where she saw him lying on the floor next to his bed.    Jake is no stranger to practical joking,  so as Shannon walked to the window to open the shades,  she figured he was pretending to be sleeping and nudged him with her foot and said "time to get up Jake;  rise and shine".    Now that there was light in the room,   she immediately saw that something was not right;   Jake was lying on his side on the floor with a pile of vomit under his head.    "Matt,  come down here right away!"

Matt ran down to Jake's bedroom where he saw the gravity of the situation.    Jake was awake but mostly unresponsive;  he was not able to speak or communicate in any way......when he tried to speak a moan was all that could be heard.    Matt asked Jake to sit up.......Jake attempted but could not do anything more than lift his head off the floor.     Matt lifted Jake to the edge of the bed;  it was like lifting a drunk person off of the floor....little to no muscle control.    Matt sat Jake on his lap and tried again to get Jake to communicate what had happened.    Matt, seeing that Jake didn't have control of his muscles, asked Jake to move his right arm.....nothing;  left arm?.....Jake  was able to lift it;  right leg.....nothing;  left leg?......again, Jake was able to lift his knee.   Diagnoses were running through Matt's and Shannon's poisoning? these symptoms were to severe....Could he have found a bottle of pain pills and overdosed?.....maybe?     Stroke was not even a thought in our minds at the time;  teenagers don't have strokes anyway!     

"LORD,  we desperately need Your help right now;  show us what we need to do.    Protect and heal our son.  Rebuke the Devourer, who we know would like to take Jake's life right now."    These were the thoughts and prayers running through our minds and coming from our lips.

Whatever was happening,  it became obvious that we needed to take Jake to the emergency room right away.   Matt helped Jake to his feet,  put his shoulder under Jake's right arm then proceeded to walk with Jake through the basement and halfway up the stairs.    Jake was able to walk with his left leg only, but this was going too slowly so Matt proceeded to pick Jake up in both arms and carry Jake to the garage where he and Shannon loaded Jake into the front seat of the truck.

Ten minutes later they were driving up to the emergency entrance of Livingston Memorial Hospital.   Matt ran in and came back with a wheelchair then they loaded Jake into the wheelchair and went in where they were quickly admitted and escorted to one of the rooms within the emergency area.    After the nurse recorded Jake's vitals and attempted to take blood samples,  Dr. Scofield quickly realized the probability that this was a neurological injury.........lack of movement on his right side; inability to communicate;  zero control of right side muscles.    Matt and Shannon meanwhile still were in the dark and running with the theory that he needed to have his stomach pumped of whatever he had eaten or swallowed.    

Dr. Scofield immediately ordered a CT Scan and Jake was quickly wheeled into the radiology area where he would have a CT Scan of his head.      It took only a few minutes to complete the scan and for Dr. Scofield to recognize that this was in-fact a 'hemorrhage' of blood in the brain.    Although he didn't tell us at the time,   it was a large hemorrhage and the situation was a matter of life and death.   Dr. Scofield called Billings St. Vincent Hospital where they are able to handle a variety of brain injuries.   The St. Vincent doctors, however, realized they were not equipped to handle Jake's situation and advised Dr. Scofield to make arrangements with the hospitals in either Denver or Salt Lake City.   Dr. Scofield advised us that the situation was life-threatening and that a life-flight was on the way and would soon take Jake to the Children's Hospital of Colorado in Denver.   

Matt and Shannon never ceased in their prayers and conversation with the LORD during this time.    Word soon spread among friends, family and along prayer chains.   Some of our closest friends and associate pastor soon showed up at the Livingston hospital and joined with us in prayer.     Aaron Winfrey volunteered to drive back to the Wolfe house and pick up a bag that Cheyenne had packed for Matt and Jake with changes of clothes and personal items.    During this time,  Jake was sedated in order to stabilize his heart rate and breathing.    IV's and a ventilator were installed to prepare him for the life flight to Denver.    Soon,  Matt and Jake were in an ambulance on their way to the Bozeman Airport where they would catch the emergency medical flight to Denver.    Shannon, together with Cody Wood and Audrey Winfrey followed the ambulance to the airport.     Shannon was able to speak with and pray for Jake before he was loaded into the airplane.    Matt and Jake were now on their way to Denver for a 2 hour journey.   The plane was staffed with EMTs and nurses; as Shannon and I talked to the lead medical technician on the flight about the LORD and His protection over Jake, he quickly pointed out to us that his name was Dean Angell and that with a name like that, he too recognized God's sovereignty in the situation and assured us that Jake was in good hands.

Matt read and prayed the Psalms over Jake during the entire 2 hour flight.    When they touched down in south Denver,  they were met by another ambulance that carried them the rest of the way to the Children's Hospital of Colorado in Aurora (east Denver).     The Children's Hospital staff was expecting Jake and quickly admitted him and sent him directly to radiology for another CT Scan.    We later realized the CT Scan in Denver was to see if the brain hemorrhage had stopped or had grown since the original scan in Livingston.   The doctors in Denver later showed Matt the 2 scans side by side and that they looked very similar.    The hemorrhage most likely had already stopped by the time that the first CT scan occurred.     We don't know how long Jake had been lying on the floor that Sunday morning;   the brain hemorrhage may have happened at anytime during the night.    All we know is the the LORD allowed it to happen, but stopped it in time to spare Jake's life.
After the CT Scan,  Jake and Matt were admitted to the the ICU floor where Jake was wheeled into his own room and attended to by doctors and nurses.   Dr. Olufemi Ajani (a tall, dark Nigerian man) was the neurosurgeon on shift that Sunday evening.   Dr. Ajani  (most of the staff called him Dr. 'Johnny') recognized that the brain hemorrhage (bleeding) had occurred in the 'thalamus', deep in the center of the brain.  It is known as the 'switchboard' of information or the 'communication relay center' for many parts of the brain.    Due to the location and sensitivity of the thalamus,  Dr. Ajani recognized that surgery of the thalamus was not an option.....the risks far outweigh the benefits.     Dr.  Ajani saw that stabilization of the intracranial pressure was the best way to keep Jake stable and avoid further bleeding and recommended a catheter/drain tube be installed into the ventricles to stabilize the pressure inside the skull.   Although removal of the blood is helpful in many cases of stroke,  the location of Jake's stroke meant that it was better to allow the brain to heal itself over time rather that risk damage to other parts of the brain by attempting surgical removal of the hemorrhage.    Dr.  Ajani had the nurses prepare Jake for surgery, then completed the installation of the catheter right there in Jake's room.....this involved drilling a hole in the skull.   Matt didn't get to watch this part, but wondered what brand of drill they use for that part and if it is electric or battery powered.    The surgery took less than a half hour and Dr. Ajani soon assured Matt the the surgery went well and the intracranial pressure would be continuously monitored;  the drain would now allow extra pressure and fluid to escape in order to maintain a normal intracranial fluid pressure.     At this point the doctors considered Jake's situation life or death, depending on whether the brain would re-bleed.   If another hemorrhage occurred, it could very well cause death.    They continued to medicate Jake with IV solutions and he continued to breathe with a ventilator during this time.

On Sunday evening, the church (biblical definition) gathered at the Wolfe home and labored in prayer for Jake.   Shannon also was busy organizing food and schedules for the children, who would spend the next days/weeks/??? (we didn't know how long) with Granny who would take care of the children while Shannon and her father, Lanny, flow our to Denver early Monday morning.   By the end of the day,  Jake's vitals were stable and the catheter was allowing the cerebrospinal fluid to drain and maintain normal pressure.    Dad stayed in Jakes room on the fold-out couch next to Jake's hospital bed.  Needless to say,  there was little sleep and a lot of prayer that first night.

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