Friday, November 13, 2009

Update #28 on Peter (from Peter himself!)

Peter sent me the following update to post on the blog. I’ve known for a while that this day would come… when Peter could write/type to you with his own hands and share his own thoughts. A suggestion if I may… grab some tissues before reading on…

--Scott

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On Oct. 14th I got out of the hospital after a 4 week stay. I then went to stay with my parents at Chad and Alicia Edwards’ apartment. Five days a week I have been going back to the hospital in Yong He (the hospital where I was taken in an ambulance and received care). I am slowly continuing to recover from the accident. I have been spending 2 hours a day in the Rehabilitation department receiving both Occupational therapy such as working on regaining the coordination skills in my left hand such as putting pegs in holes with chopsticks, and working on printing in both English and Chinese. I have also been receiving Physical therapy which focuses on training my central nervous system to override what my inner ear is not capable of doing right now which is to balance. They began re-teaching me to walk with a walker, then to walk without one after a week or two, and then began creating obstacle courses made up of stepping up and stepping down as I moved across a ten foot space with bars and then without. I am coming close to not requiring continuation of Rehab as I can almost walk a straight line which was their objective and now am able to write with my left hand (still rough looking as mine always have been). I have been told by my mom that I still do look a little like Jackie Chan in the “Drunken Master,” (movie) because of my periodic staggering as I walk. But I am maneuvering (with some assistance) the streets of Taipei City, which is at least as busy and crazy as downtown Manhattan. As you know I don’t drink but this helps my mom to lighten up these moments for herself (I think).

I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle. From the moment I was hit crossing the street to about 14 days after that, I don’t remember much of anything. Because of this, I have been spending a good part of the last 4 weeks healing, doing rehab, and trying to catch up on what took place during this time. I have been reading the blog Scott so generously created, notes of encouragement in the log book that Jennifer Reynolds, my team partner started the day of my accident, email letters, Facebook messages, photos and videos of me during this time. All of these sources have been such a blessing in putting these two weeks back together for me. In a way, I am grateful for the loss of memory in regards to remembering the pain of being hit as well as the emergency care and brain surgeries (one to put the brain monitor in and the other to reduce pressure in my brain by removing a blood clot and excessive bleeding).

A very special letter from a 9 year old little girl, Eden Udell, arrived at the hospital from Missouri which drove home the seriousness of my injuries. It had been written the first week of my accident. She said “I hope you get better or if God wants, you can go home with him. You are in God’s hands”. This was especially moving and loving because she comes from a family whose second oldest daughter, Mirium (at only 15 years old), was killed in a car accident in which she had fatal head injuries. They weren’t able to relieve the pressure in her brain in time to save her. The Udell family loves me (Peter) very much, so this hit very close to home and brought up memories & pain of the loss of Mirium, and the discussion within their family of “What do we pray for, Mommy, when someone might die?” What do you pray for when a loved one is in critical condition that might give you peace? I think Eden said it best! Miriam died before Eden could know her but Eden knew and loved Peter, so it was scary for even her.

Eden is one of 5 children of Jack & Trish Udell’s. Jack is an ER doctor and Trish an English professor. During my 4 years in college they became my adopted family in Joplin, Missouri spending Thanksgiving, Easter, and they saw me through getting shingles during my 6 month internship at College Heights 18 months ago.

Thank you all so much for your prayers, visits, letters, and encouragement. These efforts have meant so much to me and made such a difference for me. Going through this experience has caused me to ask a lot of questions, come up with few answers, and ponder many things. So many people have been so good to me in so many ways through this experience that it has caused me to think God has been at work in many people’s heart’s in many ways and people have responded in amazing ways. I have been so completely impressed by how people have prayed for me, encouraged me, and worked together to help me. It has made me ask myself the question, “Am I worth all this love, kindness, and trouble people are going through for me?” Everyone has helped me so much it became a fairly difficult question for me to answer. Maybe I have been thinking the wrong way, thinking of myself like some sort of asset that needs to have enough value to be worth all this effort and work and kindness done on my behalf? Maybe God does not weigh and value the same way that I do. When think of what has happened since the accident I am overcome by thankfulness because no matter what my worth, God has poured out so much love and grace through so many people it is amazing to me. This experience has also reminded me that my life is not my own, each day of life is given to me from God. I think that through many of you God has poured out His love, kindness, mercy, and help - on me.

We saw my neurosurgeon Dr. Zheng last week at Yonghe hospital and he told us that I am making great progress and he doesn't anticipate any further medical difficulties (as far as brain neurosurgery is concerned) unless I felt some unexpected pain come up. He also told us that I would be able to fly to California from his perspective in regards to brain pressure but recommends we check with the ENT doctor. I went to the ENT doctor next. Dr. Liou did a review of CT scans, and did an exam of my ears and eyes. He said that I could fly but not to pop his ears or fall asleep during taking off or landing due to trying to avoid further ear pressure. I was also informed by the ENT that I need to stop doing anything that causes pressure by straining my body such as when you do pushups on the parallel bars, or holding an L on them [like I did last week]. This is because he explained my ears are fractured which has caused a hole in the vestibular area [a para- lymphatic fistula] which causes fluid to escape, causing vertigo. My vertigo will improve as the hole closes. My right ear is significantly worse than my left.

We went to NTU (National Taiwan University) 2 weeks ago for cognitive testing with a psychiatrist (5 weeks after the accident) in an effort to create a baseline assessment. Today, the Rehab brain trauma specialist Dr. Lu, and the psychiatrist Dr. Shu, stated that I performed cognitively in the normal range for a non- injured patient. This was good news! Some of the subtests indicated a need to work on short term memory skills. The doctors said this was very typical for patients with similar brain injuries to mine. The recommendation was to provide me with 6 weeks of intervention sessions to work with me on short term retrieval. I had my first session today and it was great! My first assignment is to use a daily log, monthly planner, and to notice what I find particularly challenging for me this week in regards to short term memory. The doctors explained that short term memory for example is remembering what you did that day or what took place in a telephone conversation. They expect that I will make very good progress.

Each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, all of my teammates and team leaders of Team Expansion go to Lao Dong, an hour and a half east of here. This is where, for 40 years, Ted & Bev Skiles started and have run an orphanage for babies and the placement of them. Ted & Bev are referred to as the grandpa & grandma of all the missionaries. My dad and I will be joining them this year. This will be a very special time of celebration for my dad and I as all of my friends/coworkers have been through every step of the trauma of my accident and recovery with me. I am looking forward to seeing joy on their faces after such a difficult ordeal for all of us. My mom is flying home this Saturday so that she can get back to work. My dad will stay with me until I can fly back for a short visit during the Christmas holidays. I am getting more and more independent but it will be nice to have my dad move me back to my place in Banchiao before he leaves Taiwan permanently. Then, hopefully, after talking to my elders at College Heights, Shepherd of the Hills, and getting my Visa set up for my second year, as planned prior to my accident, I can fly home with my dad for a Christmas visit.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Update #27 on Peter

I have a few updates about Peter and some pictures below the updates…

I’m going to share these updates with bullet points instead of taking time to organize it all into paragraphs. I’d rather get the info out there to you sooner…

  • The physical therapist at National Taiwan University Hospital remarked that Peter’s long-term damage should be fairly minimal since he woke up from his coma fairly soon.
  • Peter can continue his therapy at the Gengxin Hospital (where he has been since the accident). They are doing a good job.
  • It is expected that people suffering brain trauma like Peter have experienced will have some problems even 6 months to 1 year in the future, even if they were never in a coma. So, the progress may be slow, but looks good for Peter looking a year into the future.
  • The therapist gave Peter 3 words – black, happy, bicycle – and periodically asked him to recall them… he immediately remembers, but forgot them after a few minutes. This does mesh with what most of us have already known. Peter does have some short-term memory issues. We don’t yet know when and if this will improve… time will tell.
  • On November 4th, Peter will have a psych evaluation focusing on memory and cognitive functions. There will be a follow up appointment on November 12. It will be good to have some standardized and quantitative testing and results to measure Peter’s progress. The test on November 4 will serve as a baseline.
  • Peter got a big laugh out of this test… the therapist wanted him to do “jazz hands”. His right hand was pretty jazzy… but his left hand’s jazz factor = zero. But that was a week ago… maybe his hands are more jazzy now.
  • The other day, Peter was with friends at a food court and he tried walking with his tray of food. Although we all appreciate Peter’s willingness to *try*… his friends were a bit worried… and so was Peter. His balance and walking just isn’t up to that yet. Still improving though!
  • Peter’s balance problems stem from fractures of 2 bones in his skull (occipital and temporal) and problems in his ears (possibly including fractures of the tiny bones in the ear). Here are pictures of the skull bones and the ear for your reference. Click for a larger image.

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  • The doctor he saw at NTUH and Dr. Zeng agree that Peter’s chance of full restoration of hearing and balance is about 90%. No time frame can be given for this… but it is great news.
  • His therapists have started making Peter step over objects placed in front of him. This requires him to stand on his own on one foot for a few moments and transfer his weight differently than just walking.
  • Peter and Claudia and Rick all attended the church in Yonghe last Sunday AM.
  • Claudia has been sick for about 10 days. She is feeling better now, but is thankful that Peter and Rick and others have been able to help her through this. She’s also grateful to Dr. Lin, our local doctor, for his care and concern for her.
  • Peter joined Craig and Jennifer for a team meeting this week. I’m not sure any of us would have guessed he’d be doing that less than 40 days after his accident.

Here’s the pictures I mentioned…

Peter riding the subway to his appointment at NTUH. The noise of the subway bothered his ears.

the noise on the subway bothered Peter's ears

 

Peter working the bar at therapy. This is his first time working with the 2kg weight added… moving up from 1.5kg.

Peter working with the 2kg weight attached

 

Peter is getting tired of playing with the blocks, but you wouldn’t know it by this picture. He is so full of joy.

Peter playing with blocks at therapy

 

Working with the therapist lifting some weights. Notice he is strapped in since he can’t stand up and work with the weight at the same time.

working with the therapist

 

Peter is learning to walk again.

re-learning how to walk

 

Peter with his friend Roming. Roming came to the hospital for a few hours every morning after the accident. Thanks to his employer and family for allowing him to come serve Peter and his family during this time.

 Peter and Roming

 

Peter putting round pegs in round holes… and yes, I think that is a giraffe in his left hand.

round pegs on a square board with a giraffe based tweezing device

 

Peter with his team leader, Craig Thompson. Although many people have been involved in many ways with Peter’s recovery, the heaviest burden was borne by Craig and his wife Karen. This was taken on the day Peter left the hospital.

Peter and his team leader, Craig Thompson

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Update #26 on Peter

What do the following pictures have in common with Cardinal Tien Hospital in Yonghe, Taipei County, Taiwan?

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PETER
BENNETT
IS NOT IN ANY OF THEM!

He did his PT this AM and is already checked out of the hospital… He moved to the Edwards’ apartment and recovery continues.

Tomorrow morning he has a very early appointment with a physical therapist who specializes in head trauma patients so it will be interesting to see what she thinks.

Thank you all for your ongoing role in Peter’s life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thoughts Over the Last Four Weeks

I’m posting this at the precise minute of Peter’s accident 4 weeks ago.

Those present will probably remember it as the longest day of their lives. Sometime during the day… afternoon(?)… Jennifer Reynolds purchased a spiral notebook which could serve as a journal and record of Peter’s accident and recovery. We invited all visitors to write something themselves… either to Peter or his parents or perhaps a prayer.

As we celebrate Peter’s amazing recovery over these past 4 weeks, I thought it would be appropriate to share some selections from the notebook.

Here’s page 1.

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And here is a later page. People have written in Chinese and English and many draw pictures.

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“Peter, this will change you. This has changed us. It does not change our God’s love and redemption of the The Terrible…”

“We thank you for your help in leading the bible study…”

“God will help you to pass this mission… Don’t give up…”

“With all this positive loving energy I am so happy I’m able to be here with you.”

“I beseech You, O Lord God of Heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of Peter…”

“You talked! You said, ‘thanks’…”

“Peter, you are the most popular patient in the hospital…”

“Perhaps you’re with God and visiting heaven during this time. Hey! Do remember what God tells you as you could share with us.”

“Peter, we still have a couple of movies to watch together.”

“Peter, I just came from Bethany school. Everyone there seemed to know about your situation and had been praying.”

“Dear Brother Peter, Maybe I didn’t know you before, but as we are all family of God…”

“The ICU nurses said you were singing to them last night.”

“Your mom and Jen stayed with you the first night out of the ICU.”

“I told Rick and Claudia that you’ll teach me how to dance. So I’ll wait for it.”

“I’m so pleased to witness God’s healing power on you.”

“Peter: You are talking a lot.”

“You look great today.”

“… told Peter in a very special way that at no point during any of his care was he ever anything but respectful, kind, and loving. He never embarrassed our Lord, his parents, his family, or himself.”

“Peter has studied the Bible for the past 5 nights like a man drinking water after being thirsty. He was up until 1AM reading/studying.”

“Peter, I am honored to have met you. I lost my sister to a car accident 1.5 years ago. God is gracious in all ways. We must always honor God with the time we have.”

“Peter, I know you know this but God has big plans for you.”

“We came to see you and were surprised to find an empty room! So glad you were able to be out for a while!”

“You are back to your old self…”

“… we can ride bikes together soon.”

“Peter’s back ministering!”

Claudia to the ER doctor that received Peter: “Thank you for saving my son’s life.” The doctor’s reply was, “It was God not me.”

“The ICU nurses were thrilled to see how well Pete was doing. They brought him into the ICU and showed him his bed and what took place here.”


Back in the mid and late 1990’s, I watched my father-in-law put up a fierce fight against cancer. During the most difficult times of that battle, he would choose a verse or a passage of scripture to focus on and meditate on and draw strength from. One of those verses was Psalm 77:14. From the time of Peter’s accident until now, God has led me to Psalm 77 over and over again… to drink and drink from the living water of His Word.

If I had to pick 3 words to describe God’s grace to humanity, I might choose the words of Psalm 30:11…

“mourning into dancing…”

But if I could choose an entire Psalm to expound on those 3 words, I think it would be Psalm 77.

1 I cry out to God without holding back. Oh, that God would listen to me!

2 When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I pray, with hands lifted toward heaven, pleading. There can be no joy for me until he acts.

3 I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.

4 You don't let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray!

5 I think of the good old days, long since ended,

6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and think about the difference now.

7 Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again show me favor?

8 Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed?

9 Has God forgotten to be kind? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?

10 And I said, "This is my fate, that the blessings of the Most High have changed to hatred."

11 I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.

12 They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them.

13 O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you?

14 You are the God of miracles and wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.

15 You have redeemed your people by your strength, the descendants of Jacob and of Joseph by your might.

16 When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths.

17 The clouds poured down their rain; the thunder rolled and crackled in the sky. Your arrows of lightning flashed.

18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world! The earth trembled and shook.

19 Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there!

20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

(New Living Translation)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Update #25 on Peter

I mentioned previously that I probably wouldn’t update every day now that Peter’s progress is so steady but I didn’t expect to go this long without a post. I’m planning a longer post for tomorrow to coincide with the passing of 4 weeks since Peter’s accident so this post should get you up to speed on most of the big things.

Peter’s mom and dad were able to get visas to stay in Taiwan until November 23 at which time they can renew them for an additional month if needed. Thank you for praying for the visa situation. Thank you to those who helped figure out who to talk to and which offices to visit to get this taken care of. It is another example of how people have stepped in with expertise at just the right time.

Peter continues to show improvement. His physical therapy is going well. Peter’s spirits and attitude remain positive.

Peter is scheduled to check out of the hospital on Wednesday morning and then stick around for physical therapy that afternoon. After physical therapy, the plan is to move Peter to Chad and Alicia Edwards’ apartment because it will be more convenient for his continuing care than to be at Peter’s own apartment in Banqiao. Chad and Alicia are currently in the USA and have graciously allowed Peter and his family to use their apartment in whatever way is needed.

On Thursday, Peter has an appointment with a rehab doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) who specializes in neuroscience and has experience with traumatic brain injury.

Rick and I standing in front of the main doors to the hospital. If I recall correctly, this was the morning Rick arrived in Taipei and he came directly to the hospital.

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Rick and Claudia with Dr. Peter and his wife Sarah. Angels.

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Peter with one of his physical therapists working on walking.

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Peter and Jen-Jen. Jen-Jen’s father’s funeral is this Saturday, October 24th.

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This is a poor quality cell phone camera snap that I took when Peter was at physical therapy.

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And this has nothing to do with Peter… as will be immediately obvious… but I *have* to share this with someone and you all are the biggest audience I’ve got. I took my daughter to school the other day and the dog and pig that live in a pen together at her school were hanging out. I give you two pictures of a dog sitting on a pig.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Update #24 on Peter

I was able to take Peter to physical therapy yesterday. I didn't get the description of his activities quite right. He actually goes 2 hours a day now, from 2PM to 4PM. The first hour is primarily for his left arm and the 2nd is primarily for walking.

The horizontal bar with the slots is actually a metal stand with pegs on the vertical rails. The bar can have weight attached to it. Peter had 1 1/2 kg attached and told the therapist this was just the right amount... not too easy and not too difficult.

The activity with the rings and pegs is not described correctly, either. It isn’t a board with short pegs up on the wall, but a metal stand on the table with several (6 or 7?) long vertical skewers sticking up, all of different heights. The skewers start off with blocks on them. Peter takes off the blocks and stacks them on the table. Then he puts the blocks back on the skewers.

I wasn’t there for the walking therapy, but I got to see where it happens and there isn’t anything special to report about it.

Peter takes the physical therapy very seriously. He not only goes to PT for 2 hours a day, but he tries to do extra work in his bed and his room. He can get out of bed and squat or kneel on the floor. He can do some pushups from his knees. He can practice standing up out of his bed and sitting down again. He clasps his hands in front of his chest to do this.

Overall, Peter continues to improve. There are some physical limitations and his memory still causes a few problems… but balance and hearing are still the most noticeable issues and they are the ones that frustrate Peter the most. Overall, the progress is still evident.

One thing we would like to ask you to pray about at this time is visas for Claudia and Rick. They came to Taiwan as quickly as possible with no time to get a visa. It was more important to just get here to be with Peter. US citizens can stay in Taiwan for 30 days without a visa and that time is almost up. Some friends are working to get this taken care of starting yesterday and today. We’ll keep you posted.


After I started this post and before I finished it… Claudia sent me this picture that she took when I was leaving the hospital today while Peter was still at PT. You can see the device with the skewers and blocks in front of Peter and the left side of the picture captures one vertical rail on the device where Peter lifts the horizontal bar up and down. Peter and I may or may not be laughing about having to re-enact the goodbye for the camera.

IMG00477

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Update #23 on Peter

I have some more information about Peter’s physical therapy.

Peter goes to PT every day from 2PM to 3PM. To go to PT, he has to get in the wheelchair and go from 10th floor down to 1st floor and then out of one building, down a short alley, and then into another building. Then he goes up to 5th floor for PT.

Originally, he was to do 1/2 hour of movement with his left arm. And then 15 minutes of electrical stimulation and then 15 minutes of heat therapy. I’m not sure if they still follow this plan. I asked Peter what they had him do for his left arm. He mentioned 3 things:

  • Using both hands, Peter grabs a horizontal bar attached to a weight by a cord that runs through a pulley into a box. He pulls this bar towards him, lifting the weight.
  • Peter uses both hands to grab a different horizontal bar that is not attached to anything. He places this into some slots cut into wood in front of him. He then removes it and places it into slots up a little higher. He keeps removing the bar and placing it higher.
  • He takes rings in his left hand and places them on pegs on a board on the wall up above his head. Then he removes the rings.

Peter says there is a spot on his shoulder that *really* hurts if touched, but that his arm is more sore and weak than painful. He is already gaining strength and we are now almost 100% certain that the weakness is due to bruising in his shoulder and not because the brain is not sending the right instructions to the arm. This is good news as it means that it will most likely heal with time and more therapy.

I asked Peter about walking and balance therapy. He said they are teaching him to walk again. He stood between parallel bars and tried to take steps using his own arm strength for support. He also stands on a stationary treadmill and tries to stand straight without touching the supports. If he is successful, the therapists give little pushes to see if he can regain balance. If is doesn’t regain balance, Peter says they use the “wedgie technique” to keep him from falling… they grab the waist of his pants and hold him up.

A few days ago, Peter was able to use the walker to get across the room and back to his bed. This was not easy for him and he was very tired and very dizzy after the trip. Yesterday, Peter used his walker to go across his room, out the door, turn left, walk about 12 meters down the hall, turn right, walk about 12 meters past the nurses station, turn right, walk about 20 meters to the end of the hall to look out a window and see Taipei City, with Taipei 101 in view. Then he made the return trip. It does seem like Peter’s balance problem is related to his hearing problems so it will probably take some time until his balance is restored to normal. There is dried blood on Peter’s eardrums and this affects his hearing in addition to any other damage, if any. Apparently, it is not practical to try to clean this blood off so it another thing that is only helped by time.

It is easy to see Peter’s progress. Peter understands that he was in a serious accident and as a result, he will have to re-learn many things. He is working hard to re-learn them and has a great attitude so far. I wanted to know how Peter was feeling. I asked him, “Peter, do you feel happy? Are you sad? Are you worried or scared? How are you?” He said that he was very happy and that he felt fortunate to be alive and to know of so many people who care about him and his family. I don’t feel there is any reason to doubt that this accurately describes how he feels.

It is possible that Peter will leave the hospital soon. He will continue various kinds of therapy for some time. His family is working out the next steps for Peter when he leaves the hospital, but we do know for sure that he can’t fly for one month.

Through Peter’s accident, many people from all around the world have become a community of sorts… perhaps we all feel like we are a part of Peter’s extended family? I get this impression and I think it is a good thing. One person in this new extended family who was never far from Peter’s side during the first few days was our Taiwanese Christian sister Jen-Jen. Many who read these posts know Jen-Jen. It is with sadness that I share that her father passed away last Sunday. He had been in poor health for many years, but it does not lessen the pain of this loss for Jen-Jen or for her 4 brothers or her mother. She was able to visit Peter today for the first time in a week and she giggled with joy while telling me of her visit with Peter and about Peter’s improvement since she last saw him. Peter’s attitude, disposition, humility, determination and faith are able to bring joy even to one who is mourning the loss of her father.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!
– Psalm 30:11-12 (NLT)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Update #22 on Peter

I missed a day yesterday. I probably won’t post every day now. There is still great progress, but the measured progress we see in Peter doesn’t lend itself to regular updates.

I wish to apologize for a couple more graphic lines in the last update. I understand that each reader will have a different threshold as to the level of detail they want to read or can read regarding Peter’s accident, injury, and recovery. I did not wish to even approach that threshold and certainly did not intend to cross it, but I did. Peter’s story is sensational on its own, it certainly doesn’t need to be sensationalized and I apologize. I edited out the lines in question.

I saw Peter walk with a walker on Tuesday night and he was gripping it HARD and adopted a “surfing” style… with one foot in front of the other the whole time. On Wednesday afternoon, I saw him again and he using a style more like regular walking most of the time. It is hard to use a regular walking style with a walker anyway… but in less than 24 hours he was already making progress. It is clear that the biggest problem Peter faces with mobility is not physical strength or communication with the brain, but balance. Peter’s balance is definitely a big issue right now, but he is getting better all the time. He now sits up without support for long times (20+ minutes). For those who visit Peter, we encourage you to try to help him take a walk across the room or to the bathroom about once an hour.

One way to look at Peter’s recovery is to compare his current status with his status right after the accident. According to this scale, it is easy to see improvement. There is so much improvement, that even the word ‘improvement’ doesn’t capture the scope of the improvement. Chris Sanford saw Peter last Friday and saw him again yesterday and the improvement was very easy to observe.

Another way to look at Peter’s recovery is to compare to “the old Peter”. Peter, if you are reading this, you are not old although you walk like an old man now! Using this scale , it is more difficult to assess Peter’s recovery, but I think it is still possible. When we consider Peter’s daily improvement in some task or skill and then imagine continued progress for a period of days or weeks, “the old Peter” comes readily to mind. For example, if Peter’s walking improves over the next 10 days at the same rate as it did over the first day he was walking, we probably won’t be worried about his walking any longer. I’ve seen nothing that causes me discouragement when looked at in this way. Even Peter’s hearing is improving each day in at least one ear.

So, no matter which way you look at Peter’s recovery, there is much to be happy about and to celebrate. Peter knows he is still in for a bit of a fight to regain all of his pre-accident abilities, but he has shown great determination to do what it takes to recover as quickly and as fully as possible.

I don’t have more info at this time, but do want to mention that Peter took his first trip to rehab yesterday afternoon. He went to the other building in the wheelchair and he was to start working on strength in his left arm and maybe some walking, too. I’ll try to let you know more about this in a later update.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Update #21 on Peter

Two weeks ago today, all of the Team Expansion missionaries in Taipei met at 9AM at the Taiwan Christian Church Yonghe building for a presentation by our mission related to child safety.

It isn’t uncommon for Peter to be a little late for something, but usually we would hear from him if he was going to be late.

Craig called him, but Peter didn’t answer. We figured he was on his bike and didn’t hear the phone and would be there soon.

At about 9:20AM, our team was discussing whether or not it was realistic for missionaries to think that they had a right to expect special protection from bad things because they were serving God. I don’t think everyone spoke up, but those that did expressed that there was no such guarantee. Personally, I was shocked that anyone would believe such a thing, but apparently it is a common, if not prevalent, belief among missionaries.

During this discussion, Craig’s 17 year-old son called with news that Peter had been in an accident and that there was a police officer at their house waiting to talk to Craig. The police officer would not say more. Craig and I jumped on my scooter and drove to the apartment. The police officer still would not tell us any more about Peter, but only the hospital where Peter was taken. Unfortunately, he told us the wrong branch of the hospital and Craig and I spent many nervous minutes in traffic driving to the wrong hospital when we could have actually been at the correct hospital in about 3 minutes.

Fortunately, the church secretary, Joanna, had made some calls and figured out that Peter was actually at the closer hospital. She also found out that Peter had a major head injury. While Craig and I turned around to head back to the correct hospital, Casey and Allen came over to where Peter was taken and were the first to arrive. They were soon faced with the shock of seeing their friend and co-worker in agony. The only bit of good news was that Peter was moving his limbs. The rest of Peter’s co-workers arrived within minutes.

Craig and I were actually the last ones to arrive at the hospital. When we arrived, we immediately came into a room in the ER where doctors were looking at CT scans and X-rays of Peter’s head and upper body. The only life threatening injury they found was a large fracture on the back of Peter’s skull. We met Dr. Zeng and he suggested the intra-cranial pressure monitor. I then went in to see Peter. My wife, Angie, and I sang “Jesus Loves Me” although there may have been others there singing too.

Craig’s wife, Karen, had the important – but horrifying – task of notifying Peter’s mom and dad. During the next several minutes, many people were involved in things such as: the decision to put in the ICPM, the decision to move Peter to another hospital or remain here, recharging cell phone minutes, contacting Team Expansion’s prayer coordinator, etc. Each person shared the load.

But this story is about Peter and his God.

Right now, I’m sitting in Peter’s room listening to him speak fluently in English and Chinese to visitors. Yesterday, I said that his verbal abilities were about normal. I should clarify just a bit… his vocabulary is almost back to normal, but his rate of speech is probably about 80% of normal and occasional slurring of speech. This is not a concern, but just wanted to be clear about my previous statement.

In the last 3 hours, Peter has walked with a walker (he says he is like an 85 year old man) around the room and later used it to get to the bathroom. He took a ride in the wheelchair around to the other side of this floor where he could look out windows and see Taipei 101 and other buildings he would recognize. He stood with my help for about 10 minutes as I showed him some landmarks to help him get his bearings. I pointed to the intersection where the accident occurred. At this intersection is a Starbucks that Peter, Jen and Craig met at for weekly team meetings. He remembered these meetings and that he liked blueberry bagels from Starbucks. Seeing the city from the windows really helped him remember more of the city.

He is sitting up more and he is not so dizzy today. His balance is still a big problem, but that may improve with time and as he gets up and around more. He is concerned about his left arm because the shoulder bruise and pain. He can only lift it up about halfway but the right hand can go straight up. He was just showing this to Christy and Mimi and when he raised his left arm (halfway) he said, “Mr. McCain” and then he raised his right arm (all the way) and said “Yes we can”.

Peter is getting ready to eat some beef noodle soup for dinner. He’s teaching his dad how to eat it and encouraging his use of chopsticks.

I know there is still *much* room for improvement and still *much* uncertainty… but I can’t stop smiling right now thinking of Peter’s improvement and promising future. Tomorrow I may feel differently, but for now, I’m smiling.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Update #20 on Peter

This is the evening of the 14th day since Peter’s accident. In about 12 1/2 hours, it will have been 2 full weeks. Those scary first few hours linger in our minds, but Peter is recovering well and the future is promising.

My wife, Angie, and I just got off the phone with Peter. It is amazing to talk with him. He knows who we are. Jen Reynolds is there with Peter (as is Peter’s mom, Claudia) and Jen called to give me some updates and we asked to talk with Peter. I thought it was nice that upon greeting Peter he asked, “How have you guys been doing?”

Verbally… Peter is almost completely fine. Amazing. He still says a few interesting things… but they are more like things that Peter would normally say. For example, Jen was telling Peter about how she has been showing his mom how to ride the MRT (subway) and Peter said, “Jen knows the MRT better than anyone. If anyone knows the MRT better than me, it is Jen.” This is exactly something Peter would normally say.

Peter’s memory is coming back, but he still has trouble recalling many things. The best news is that he is able to recall things from all stages of his life and all the places he has lived. We have good reason to believe that his memory will continue to improve. Another positive thing about Peter’s memory is that he seems to be able to make new memories now. For example, he has no original memory of being hit by the car, but he does know he was hit by a car based on the information people are giving him the last few days. It might be good to try to teach Peter something totally new right now just for the purpose of seeing if he can retain it.

Peter’s balance is the most obvious difficulty (unless you count the 27 total staples in his head). Peter knows his memory is still poor at times and is even more aware of his problems with balance. He now understands that he is neither 1) on a boat; or, 2) in a spinning building. Tonight he told Jen that his “balanceability” is not so good.

I’ll mention hearing here since there may be a connection between his hearing and his balance. Peter says his right ear doesn’t hear very well, but his left ear doesn’t hardly hear at all. The doctor’s test indicate the opposite is more likely. Peter is able to discern right from left and is pointing at the ears as he talks about them so we are all a bit confused about what his hearing is really like. We do know that he seems to hear certain frequencies of voices better than others. He still typically hears men better than women, but some men he hears better than others. He hears me fine at a normal conversation volume when I speak to him in English, but he can’t hear me at the same volume when I speak Chinese.

Hearing and balance centers are both located in the inner ear. Both ears have sustained damage. We’ve been told that the nerves are damaged, but not dead. If they were dead, the hearing loss would be permanent. Since they are damaged, Peter’s hearing should improve (it is unknown to what degree) over the next 3 to 6 months. Will his balance be affected that long too? We don’t know. It make sense that both are damaged, but we don’t know the correlation, if any, of healing between the two.

Jen was telling Peter about Mr. Lin, the driver of the car that hit Peter, and that Craig told Mr. Lin about Peter’s love for Jesus and Peter’s desire for Mr. Lin to know Jesus too. Peter was able to see the good in this and then he told Jen, “I’m not ready to tell God, ‘OK, God, bring on some more difficulties!’ but I am ready to say ‘God, I’m thankful that you can find ways to use the difficulty.’”

Physically, Peter is improving. His head wounds are healing well. His left leg/knee where he was initially hit by the car is painful. His left shoulder sustained massive bruising from hitting the pavement. That arm moves well from the elbow down, but shoulder movement is really painful and difficult for Peter. Jen told Peter that she could slap him from that side and he couldn’t stop her because he only has 1/2 half of his ninja skills. Peter replied, “I’m going to have to work hard to get my ninja skills back." He has been playing catch for a few days already. His writing is improving. He can use the TV remote. All of these things add up to good progress. Hopefully his balance will clear up soon to give him more time on his feet.

Peter says that he feels like an old farmer. What? He said it is like he has put stuff away somewhere and when he goes back later to get it, he can't find it. It is like these things he needs are locked in the barn.

Claudia emailed me these pictures to share. They are from a couple days ago. Peter looks even better now. Click to see larger images.


Peter looking out over Yonghe with help from Roming.

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Peter playing catch with my son, Zachary

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Peter in the wheelchair the first time. He wasn’t as out of it as he looks. He was getting tired of posing… lol. From L to R: Scott, Zach, Jen, and Allen

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Update #19 on Peter

I've had quite a day (unrelated to Peter's situation) so I'm going to rely on a recent update from Jen Reynolds and add a little at the end of her report since I just came back from seeing Peter.

FROM JEN:
Peter is starting to remember more things about the people who are visiting him, such as trips to the movies or out to ride bikes. I asked him why he was in Taiwan and he said 1) to study Chinese 2) to be a missionary. He remembered he lived on the blue line of the MRT but someone had to tell him what station was closest to his house. He gets frustrated because he can't remember names. He said it is like the names are locked in his brain and he has lost the keys.

When we asked him if he needed to go to the bathroom he said "I bet there's just people lining up to help with that job." It was nice to hear him use a little sarcasm.:-)

I was sitting by his bed working on a Bible study when he turned over and saw my Bible. He asked me what book I was reading so I told him it was my Bible and he could see it if he wanted. He took it and flipped through it and noticed Psalms. When I asked him what his favorite Psalm was he said "Psalm....2. No, Psalm 1." So I read it to him in English and Gary read it to him in Chinese. Then Gary showed him Psalm 23 and we asked him if he could read it. He tried but instead of saying it in English he kept trying to translate it into Chinese as he read. So Gary helped him read/translate it. After he was done he said "I like David's Psalms. They really encourage me."

When he ate supper he was able to feed himself with chopsticks using his left hand. I was surprised at how well he did. Tonight when Craig, Sam, and Jesse stopped by Peter knew who they all were and he knew that Peter Thompson was in America. He was telling them about the accident and he said "I got hit by some special sauce from a tornado or something." Then I told him it was actually a car, or maybe it was Craig. He said "Yeah, Craig probably hit me on purpose." Then he laughed and said it wasn't his suggestion that Craig hit him, it was mine. I asked him if he was trying to get me in trouble and he laughed again and said yes. It's so interesting because I feel like he knows me but doesn't remember me. Does that make sense? He knows how old I am and he said tonight that my Chinese is better than his, which is something he used to say before (which after hearing him speak this week might not be true!) and he knows I'm a missionary here but he doesn't remember that I'm his coworker. But at least he remembers my name now.

Today his friend Sally was there and when she would sit on his right side and talk in a normal voice Peter could hear her but when she would go to his left side he wouldn't be able to hear her.  I think that's really strange/interesting because he can't hear most of us on his right side but he could hear her. It has to be some kind of frequency thing. And he was able to pop his jaw back into place this afternoon when he would get lock jaw. So that's helpful if we don't have to call the doctor every 10 minutes!:-)

FROM SCOTT:
Peter now knows that he was in an accident. He understands that there is a reason for everything he is experiencing... the head wounds, the pain in his shoulder, the hearing loss, the dizzyness, the memory problems, etc. Although Peter talks about being in an accident and he talks about things "before the accident" and "after the accident" he can't remember anything about the accident although I have personally told him upwards of 10 times in the past week. He does remember soccer practice, Chris McCain breaking her arm, being very tired, and what we ate for lunch at my house on Saturday before his accident on Tuesday morning. That was the last time I saw Peter before the accident. If any of Peter's coworkers or friends saw him between Saturday afternoon and the accident, maybe you can ask him about that time and see if he remembers. We are curious where his memory stops.

Almost all the funny things Peter says now are on purpose... telling jokes and kidding around.

It was interesting to be in the room when Sarah and Dr. Peter visited Peter this afternoon. These two men named Peter are now connected forever, but had not met face-to-face until today. When we told Peter how Dr. Peter helped him, Peter was gracious as always. He is getting an idea of the scope of his injuries and the great effort put forth by many people to help him through this time. He is grateful.

Peter asked for his computer today. I want Peter to read this blog and your comments in his own time, but considering his progress to this point, he could be reading about his story very soon.

I have some pictures to share, but will have to wait for another update.

If I could take a bit of liberty with Peter's blog here... Taiwan is currently awaiting the arrival of at least 1 and maybe 2 typhoons in the next couple days. Typhoon Morakot caused a tremendous amount of damage back in August. People are frightened by these impending storms. Please pray for safety and peace here in Taiwan. Thank you. Bless you.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Update #18 on Peter

Today is a big holiday in Taiwan. It is the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival. The church our family helps with is hosting a community BBQ and movies/cartoons and I need to head over to the party in just a few minutes. It will probably run late so I’ll take a few minutes now to give an update on Peter’s progress today.

He is speaking more clearly each day. Since he has been out of ICU, I believe he is improving by 50% to 75% each day over the day before. He is saying fewer unintentional funny things… but more intentionally funny things and that is great.

For example… while Peter’s dad and friend, Roming, were feeding Peter some breakfast, Roming was using chopsticks to feed Peter. Peter held up both hands and waved them around a little and said, “Bam! Look at this! I can feed myself with chopsticks without using my hands!”

When he looked at all the pillows on his bed, Peter said, “I must be the pillow king or something.”

Peter fed himself at lunch with a spoon with the tray in front of him. He held the spoon in his left hand which is great. He is left handed, but his left arm is *very* sore and not as coordinated as the right yet. He held the rice bowl to his lips with his right hand and shoveled the rice with the spoon in his left. Perfect form!

Peter sat in a chair and looked out the window and asked questions about where he was. He did ask if he was in Yonghe (he is).

Peter talked about his former roommate Derek and wondered what Derek has been up to lately. Derek, maybe you can email me with some things to tell him? He isn’t sure if you are in Taiwan or in America right now.

Peter is doing much better at verbalizing his needs… like when he has to go to the bathroom, when he is thirsty, when he is tired, when he is full, etc.

Peter remembers details of things that don’t seem very significant. For example, he remembered a set of chopsticks his friend Christy used today. She had forgotten them at Peter’s house for a while and he recognized them. Remembering these insignificant things, is actually a significant step in learning what he can recall from the past. You’d expect he would know important things, but maybe not things like the chopsticks.

He is now on some medicine that will hopefully help control Peter’s dizziness. He still asks if he is on a boat.

I have to run, but I’ll leave you with this… when Peter had to get to the bathroom with his IV attached (it isn’t attached all the time) it took 3 of us to help him get there. As we arrived at the toilet, Peter said, “Why would anyone go to the bathroom alone when you can go with 3 of your friends?”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Update #17 on Peter

Back in the first 5 or 6 days after the accident, it was easy for all of us here with Peter to keep up with the latest news about his situation. Often, several of us from the churches and the mission team were at the hospital together praying and sharing. When the doctor gave us some news, many of us heard it first hand and then we each called everyone who wasn’t there to hear it. I’ve mentioned before that the news is coming more rapidly now and it just isn’t possible for all of us to know everything Peter is doing. It isn’t possible for *any* of us to know everything. So, in recent days, you’ve noticed the blog taking a more personal slant towards things that Peter does and says when I am with him. I’m only with him a few hours each day and there is more to his story than I can tell because of this. I am able to give a few snapshots that I hope can accurately portray Peter’s recovery, but I rely on others to fill me in on major things and share stories with me.

I was with Peter for a few hours this morning and have a few things to share from that time, but Allen and Jen were with Peter after I left and had much to report. To keep this chronological, I’ll write of my time with Peter first and then cut/paste from Allen’s report of what happened after I left.

When I arrived, Claudia (Peter’s mom) told me that Peter had dislocated his jaw earlier that morning. He has a habit of pulling his jaw to crack it or his neck or something… so I figured that he did that. Actually, he was just yawning. They called in a dentist and he came after about 30 minutes and quickly put the jaw back in place. Peter dislocated his jaw 2 more times while I was with him and one of the residents came right in to fix it each time. We don’t really know why this is happening, but Peter is more aware now that it happens when he yawns so he’s trying to keep his mouth from opening so much when yawning.

I asked Peter if he knew how old he was. He said 9 and 13 in the midst of a rambling answer, but I didn’t really think those were his answers. I had him look at my 11 year old son and guess how old he was. He said “Well, Zach was probably 7 when I met him so he’s probably 13 by now”. Not a bad guess, in my opinion. Then I asked Peter if he thought he was older or younger than Zach. He wasn’t sure but finally guessed that he was 19 years old. I told him he was 28 and he said “Wow! I’m getting really old!” I said, “I’m 38, so what does that make me?” He said that I was “an official old man”. When Claudia shared her age with Peter, he said, “You are old!”

When I asked him what year it was, he thought a while and answered 2004. I told him no and he guessed 2005. I said it was later than 2005 and he guessed 2000. When I told him it was 2009, he said, “Wow! Time is really flying by!”

Two days ago, Peter talked a lot about “millions of dollars”. Yesterday he talked a lot about “flavors”. Today’s topic is “Mexico”. He works Mexico into most conversations. He saw Japanese soccer players on TV and thought there were a lot of Mexicans playing soccer. When he saw all the nurses and doctors today, he expressed amazement that so many Mexicans could speak Mandarin.

This afternoon, Peter was to go to another building in the hospital for a hearing exam (more on that later). We were told we could try to put Peter in a wheelchair before then to test if he would be prohibitively dizzy when sitting up in the chair. If he wasn’t too dizzy, they could take him to the hearing test in the wheelchair, if he was dizzy they would have to take him on a bed. This was a wonderful experience. He did *great* in the wheelchair. He really enjoyed getting out of his room and seeing the hallway. When we passed the nurses station, they all waved at Peter and said hello to him. He responded with “li ho” which is “hello” in Taiwanese.

When we got to the end of the U-shaped floor (at a dead end) there was a window that looked out over Taipei. Taipei 101 was partly visible behind another building and low clouds. Peter was able to see 101 and he asked if the weather had been cloudy like this for a while. He asked how far we were from Los Angeles. He looked out over the city and waved his hand around and asked, “So this is not technically a part of Mexico?” Allen kept his poise, but I had to duck and run with laughter. After a few more comments about Mexico, we guessed that he was thinking of Tijuana instead of Taiwan.

Here’s the report from Allen…

Peter has been a bit confused about where he is and why he is here. He asked if he had been hit by a curve ball. When told he was hit by a car he responded, "that's really crazy." He has been having trouble distinguishing Chinese people from Mexicans. It is hard for him to figure out what language he needs to speak to whom. He'll say, "that's really throwing me off". He even greeted the nurses in Taiwanese. Evidently he has also been saying sentences in Latin. How many languages does he know?

He has asked to look at maps to help him figure out where he is. He sometimes asks if Taiwan is by Mexico. We showed him Google Earth which helped but it didn't seem to click for him until his mom drew a map of America and Taiwan on paper. His comment was, "Taiwan is a booger is the Asian ocean."

He had to go for an ear test today. On the way he saw himself in the elevator and noticed his head was shaved. He said, "oh, the hardcore Mexican look, essay," and then spoke bunch of Spanish slang that I didn't understand. When we got downstairs he looked at me and asked if he needed to speak Belgianese to me (because he remembered I was born in Belgium). Just as we arrived at the ear test room he got his jaw locked. He has been dislocating his mandible when he yawns and then has to wait for the doctor to set it back in. This causes quite a bit of discomfort for him. After a while he looked at us and with all seriousness asked with his locked jaw, "if you slap me really hard will it go back in?" At the ear test they were only able to test his right ear. He was so worn out just getting there that he kept falling asleep. He could hear 85 decibels but nothing quieter. His left ear has been hearing better than his right. We were told he won't have to test again until he is ready to leave the hospital

A physical therapist came to see Peter today. He was very encouraged by Peter's motor skills and dexterity. He said that in the case of head injuries, patients with this kind of mobility usually have a very good recovery. He said they cannot know how long it will take for his mind to clear up but that it happens slowly and at a different pace for everyone. It is encouraging to hear a hopeful outlook for recovery.

NOTE FROM SCOTT: In the hearing test on Peter’s right ear, Allen reported that Peter could hear nothing lower than 85dB. A telephone dial tone is 80dB. City traffic from inside a car is 85dB. Normal conversation is between 60-70dB. Peter’s left ear is much better than his right. I regularly sit or stand by his bed and speak in my normal speaking voice and rarely have to raise it for Peter to hear me. I do think he has some trouble with certain frequencies. He doesn’t seem to hear women as well as men. But, then again, most men seen to have trouble hearing women from time to time, right?

:-)

Update #16 on Peter

I hope to post once a day, but I fell asleep on my couch last night and didn’t get one posted on Thursday.

Peter continues to improve. He is eating well. Maybe this is ‘Too Much Info’ for some of you, but Peter is also able to recognize he needs to go to the bathroom and *with help* can stand up out of bed and sit at a portable potty chair to urinate and have BMs. Then he needs help with clean up and back in bed. This is important for Peter in many ways. The point of impact on the back of his head is close to the area that controls the digestive system so it is great to know that it is working properly and his brain understands that he needs to get out of bed and get to the potty. This also helps Peter continue to practice sitting up and standing up and battle the dizziness he feels when doing so. It also stimulates Peter to verbalize some things about what is going on.

Peter’s bandages are off of his head wounds. They are drying nicely, but are very itchy. Peter is doing better at understanding why his head itches and why it feels like it does and we tell him he can lightly touch or pat the wound but can’t pick at it. The impact wound is closed up with 20 staples and is about 15cm long. The place in front where the pressure monitor was implanted has 7 staples and is about 5cm long.

Peter says some really funny things. We can’t help laughing at a lot of what he says. Sometimes it is relevant to the situation, sometimes not. But he seems to have moved beyond nonsense words and there is usually a point to his speech although it is not always immediately clear. It is entirely normal for people with head trauma to hear everything people say, understand what they say, know how to respond, and then respond verbally only to discover later that the words that came out were different from what the brain wanted the mouth to say. This seems to be Peter’s situation, too. It will take 1 to 3 weeks for the blood and extra fluid in the front of his brain to be absorbed so we should continue to see improvement with his speech in the coming days.

Here are some things Peter said or did today:

He often mentioned ice cubes, but I think it was almost always in Chinese… bing kuai (冰塊)

He expressed on a few occasions that he realized that his words weren’t making sense to those around him.

When someone talked with him about food, he said “you can’t defeat watermelon in a bite-for-bite competition”.

He talked *a lot* about flavors… fruity flavors, American and Taiwanese flavors, ice flavors. Best line of the day for me was this trilingual gem about (we think) ice cream “Zebra wei dao con nuts”. “wei dao” is “flavor” in Chinese and “con” is “with” in Spanish.

When I asked Peter “Who are you? Do you know who you are?” He said something like, “I think I must be a prince or a king or something that I’m usually not. Something that isn’t normal. I like it.” I guess being surrounded by maidens feeding you fruit and giving you foot massages will make you feel like a prince or a king.

When I told him that he was crossing the street and was hit by a car and that his head broke the window on the car he said “Wow! That is crazy!” and later “That’s pretty cool” about a few things related to the accident and his recovery.

He thought he was in America and that he was going to go to Taiwan.

He ate pineapple and watermelon in addition to his lunch of rice and veggies.

I’m taking a shift with Peter in about 30 minutes so I need to post this and get over to the hospital I’ll try to post another update tonight.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Update #15 on Peter

I can’t post fast enough to keep up with Peter’s progress.

One story I forgot to tell you from yesterday… sometime in the evening, Dr. Zeng came in to see Peter. He stood at the end of Peter’s bed and told Peter something like “Peter! Wake up! There are pretty girls all around your bed!” Peter opened his eyes… looked around the bed… and although there were some pretty girls around him, it was far from surrounded. Peter scanned the room… and closed his eyes again. Was that a bit of a smirk some saw on Peter’s face?

This morning, Peter’s mom, Claudia, came in for the 7 – 11 shift with a bag from McDonalds. She sat beside Peter’s bed and opened her McMuffin (or something similar). After a couple minutes, Peter looked right at her and said, “You’re eating a McDonald’s hamburger!”

Before I continue, I should mention that just 24 hours before this, most of Peter’s words were unintelligible and he said very few sentences at all and didn’t verbally respond to much that he saw (or smelled) around him. Back to the story…

Claudia picked off a small piece of bread and gave it to Peter to eat. He wanted more and more. She gave him some ice cubes which he immediately crunched and swallowed the water and small bits of ice. Then, she gave Peter a bit of egg from the sandwich. BUT PETER HATES EGGS! I expected him to just eat the egg… but as soon as it touched his lips, Peter said, “That is eggs!” and then “I hate eggs!” He might have said a bit more, but I was hiding beside the bed so he wouldn’t see me laughing. When I stood up again, Peter said, “You are trying to trick me!” and then, “I can’t trust you any more.” Then he said, “I like chicken. Even if it costs one million dollars, I want some chicken.” Isn’t that awesome? He closed his lips to more bread at first, but opened them eventually and started to trust his mom again. We were so happy to see this reaction to people and food and his likes and dislikes. Later, he got his chicken, of course!

A few minutes after “The Egg Incident”, I had to grab Peter’s right hand because he was grabbing at his feeding tube or something… I was holding it tight and I was looking right at him telling him why I stopped him. He looked right back and said, “I’m mad. I’m mad at you. I’m so angry with you!” I told him that was OK and that I loved him anyway. Then he furrowed his brow a little and said to me, “I’m giving you ‘angry eyes’! I’m filled with rage at you! I’m filled with outrage!” I was really glad to see this little outburst and his new ability to communicate his emotions and feelings. On a related note, it was good to hear Peter talk about his pain today. We’ve *known* he was in pain, but it is important for Peter to be able to communicate it to us and he’s started doing that.

Peter’s catheter was tied off this morning to test if Peter would feel the pressure on his bladder and maybe try to communicate a need to urinate. I don’t know the details of this test (and I most likely wouldn’t write them here if I did) but I do know that Peter’s catheter is out.

With the addition of food and liquids in Peter’s mouth today, it was a possibility that the feeding tube would be removed. It was! The catheter and feeding tube caused Peter MUCH distress and those are both gone. I do believe that he was able to understand what we were telling him the last couple days about why those tubes were present and what he could do to speed their removal.

Before I left Peter at about noon, we were tossing one of the balls I mentioned in the previous update back and forth. I was at the foot of his bed and we were gently tossing the ball. He caught most of my throws. After I gave Peter a goodbye hug, high five, and fist bump… Dr. Peter’s wife, Sarah, took over playing catch with Peter.

Peter identified many of his visitors today and was engaged in conversations and answered some questions.

Oh… almost forgot! Peter stood up today! I don’t know the details and I can’t wait to hear the story from those who were there at the time, but apparently Peter just all of a sudden swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up! Today was the day to try that anyway, but apparently it happened very suddenly and surprised everyone. I don’t know how long he stood, but is another big sign of progress even if it was just for a second. I think he got up at least one other time later.

What a day! Although we have a great deal of good news to share… please remember to keep praying for recovery and healing as you give God praise and glory for what he has already allowed us to see him do in Peter. Bless you all.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Update #14 on Peter

It has been one full week since the accident.

I’m finishing up 8 hours with Peter and I’ve seen much improvement during my time with him.

Probably the most fun today was when the Yankees and Royals were finishing up their game. The Yankees are *HUGE* here in Taiwan because Wang Chien-ming is from Taiwan. Peter’s dad, Rick, and I decided to turn on the TV for Peter this morning and I found the baseball game. Peter isn’t a big baseball fan, but he often looked at the TV. Right as the game was ending, Peter started talking about Pete Rose and sliding into 2nd base. He talked about the importance of sliding naturally and not forcing it too much. We had a somewhat disjointed conversation that was focused on sports. Peter has said a lot of other things today… some have made sense… some not so much. At one point, he said “Leonardo” a few times… maybe talking about Ninja Turtles? We weren’t sure. He also said, “Daddy’s boy” when looking at his dad. The ball game is being replayed on TV now so maybe he’ll talk more baseball later.

Last night, on a suggestion from Bev Skiles, I put a pen in Peter’s hand and gave him a pad of paper. He was immediately interested and knew what to do. He wrote his name phonetically in Chinese and wrote at least the “Pe” in his name. He later added the Chinese characters to the page along with a lot of marks that we can’t decipher.

I brought in 2 balls for Peter to play with today. One is smaller and fits in his hand. It is covered with little spikes. I hoped he would use it to exercise his left hand as it shows less strength than the right. He has used it in this way occasionally. The larger ball is also textured and we’ve kept it at his feet most of the time and he likes to kick it, roll it, and squeeze it at the end of the bed.

Peter has sat up on a few occasions today. He sometimes tries to do this himself without prompting, but he has allowed us to sit him up each time we’ve told him what we want and start lifting him. We need to sit him up to start learning if he gets dizzy. As long as he isn’t too dizzy, we may be able to stand him up. So far he has sat for almost 10 minutes at the longest, but gets pretty dizzy so he isn’t ready to stand yet.

The ear, nose and throat doctor stopped by earlier and gave him a few tests. She can’t tell a whole lot until Peter is more able to respond with precision about what he hears and doesn’t hear, but she took a large piece of dried blood out of Peter’s left ear and a smaller piece out of the right. That had to help his hearing.

When Christy left a couple hours ago, Peter waved. Craig stopped by for a short time and when Craig left, Peter gave a high five and a fist bump when Craig asked for them.

He gave a BIG smile once when he saw Jen-Jen’s camera.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to explain this new phase we are in… and I wonder if this will work: for the first week, Peter was taking slow but large steps on the road to recovery. Now we seem to be in a part of the journey where the steps are much smaller, but also are faster. These steps are all in the right direction at the moment.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Update #13 on Peter

At about 1:30PM on Monday, September 28, Peter was moved from the ICU to a regular ward in the same hospital. It is a double room but Peter is the only patient in this room so it is nice to have the large room to put our stuff down and we can also move around a bit.

I haven't seen Peter for a couple days, but was here during the transfer and am typing this in his room although I'll need to go out of the hospital to find good internet access to post it. My impression? He's looking good and doing well so far. If you just walked into his room and saw him for the first time after the accident, you might think he is not doing so well. But to those of us who have been here since the first hour... the progress is clear and hope reigns.

He is down to the following tubes: a catheter, an IV in his femoral artery, a feeding tube in his nose, and oxygen in his nose as well. The bandages on his head look good. The wounds on the back of his head (the impact with the car windshield) and the front of his head where the ICPM was implanted are stapled and look as good as is possible. Just to Peter's left of the place where the ICPM was implanted is a wound with a few stitches where a shunt was used. Peter's fever went down last night so it seems that the infection is gone as well.

It is still VITAL that we protect Peter from infection, so the family and his immediate caregivers have decided to not allow any visitors for at least the next 48 hours with very few exceptions depending on Peter's condition. If you come to the hospital, it may be possible to get updates and chat with others, but please don't expect to see Peter until his condition improves.

As long as someone is holding his hand, it is possible for Peter's hand to be free. It is best for Peter if his hand is free to exercise except that he desperately wants to touch his wounds, take bandages off, and mess with the IV or other tubes. Someone needs to be in charge of that hand 100% of the time. To have both hands free, 2 people are needed... one for each hand.

Peter's foot is ticklish. There are many other small improvements or assurances like this.

Peter has some fluid coming out of his right ear and Dr. Zeng said that he would ask for another doctor to come and try to check his hearing.

Since the news is mostly very small increments these days and probably will remain so, I may have time to share a few pictures or other things about Peter on here, including a timeline of the day of the accident. I can’t promise, but I’ll try.

PETER HOLDING HIS MOTHER’S HAND

Peter holding hands with his mother

 

PETER’S MOM AND DAD WITH (FROM L-R) RENEE, JEN-JEN, A-WEI, AND JOANNA

Peter's mom and dad with some of Peter's friends

 

DURING THE PRAYER TIME COMMUNION

At the prayer time during communion

 

PETER’S MOM TALKING WITH DR. PETER IN THE CHAPEL

Peter's mom with Dr. Peter

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Update #12 on Peter

The praise and prayer time was great. There were about 50 people in and out between 2PM and 5PM with probably about 30 people present in the small Catholic chapel on the 12th floor where we took communion together and sang some impromptu songs in English and in Chinese. There were prayers of thanksgiving for the healing Peter has already experienced and prayers of petition for continued healing. People prayed for the driver of the car (Mr. Lin), for Dr. Zeng, for Peter’s nurses, for other patients in the ICU, for far away family and friends, and for Peter’s mom and dad. This was a special time for calling attention to the things God has already allowed us to see him do and a plea for strength and courage to walk in faith when and if he chooses not to reveal his ways or his reasons.

Some people at the prayer time took photos. If you send those to me, I can put some of them up here on the blog.

We are all riding the roller coaster now. You know Peter was to move out of ICU on Saturday but because of the small bleeding discovered that morning, he remained in ICU. We were told he would be in the ICU 1 or 2 more days. Later, Peter eased our disappointment about the bleeding by giving more signs of recovery. At the close of the prayer time today, we heard that Peter would move out of ICU on Monday morning. A couple hours later, we found out that Peter has a low grade fever indicating an infection of some kind. This may or may not affect him moving out of ICU. We don’t know any more about the infection at this time.

The infection could be from many things. Some are remedied more easily than others. We do know for sure that Peter still has abundant phlegm in his airways and needs to get that out. He is coughing a lot but probably needs to cough more. Have you ever had a headache and then coughed? You hated it, right? Imagine Peter’s headache and realize that he is coughing regularly and is being asked to cough more frequently. To aid the breakup of this phlegm, Peter is being turned side to side every hour and undergoing percussion on his back either from the nurses or a machine. Percussion involves repeatedly striking the back with a cupped hand in order to break up phlegm. Percussion is often used for this purpose (most parents probably have done it with sick kids) so it isn’t related to Peter’s injury, just the effects of being stationary and the tubes in his throat.

As a result of the infection, Peter is only allowed minimal visitors. His parents are able to visit almost anytime, but no other visitors are allowed except on rare occasions and only by doctor or nurses orders. Peter has to beat this infection.

Peter’s mom and dad are thankful for the love expressed by all of Peter’s friends (and friends of friends) around the world. Please remember to pray for Claudia and Rick because they are dealing with a wide range of emotions and experiences. They are holding up well, but Dr. Peter did take time to remind them that they are not as helpful to Peter if they are too tired or become sick. Once again… Dr. Peter comes through with perfect advice, right?

Bless you all!

Praise and Prayer Time

This is not going to be a formal event… there is no order of service… actually, there is no service.

It is more like and open house type event. Please feel free to stop by for a while, sign the guestbook, encourage one another, pray together, etc.

TIME: 2PM to 5PM

PLACE: Cardinal Tien Hospital Yonghe Branch 耕莘醫院永和分院

The hospital has 2 buildings. We will meet on the 12th floor of the building that is back off the main road.

ADDRESS: 台北縣永和市中興街80號 Yonghe City, Zhongxing Street, #80.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Update #11 on Peter

In the last update we shared what might be a step back for Peter. The latest CT scan revealed some bleeding at the front of Peter’s brain. We now know that this bleeding is not a cause for great alarm, but it is disappointing and kept Peter from moving to a regular room which would have been a big (although mostly symbolic) step towards recovery. This discovery of new bleeding today is the only step back that I can think of during Peter’s recovery so far.

The bleeding was disappointing news, but Peter is providing other forms of encouragement: He has begun talking, saying some things that don't make sense but some things that do: “I can't hear you” (in English) and (in Chinese to his mother)「我在講中文。你聽不動。」 which means “I'm speaking Chinese. You don't understand.” He also smiled at his mom and dad, and hugged his mother.

So… we continue to be reminded that Peter is still in serious condition, but we also take heart as a result of obvious and rapid improvement in Peter, too.

Today, Peter was given some water on a q-tip to drink. He seemed to really enjoy this.

Dr. Peter gave a good summary of the issues Peter is facing and has already faced.

  1. During the first 24 hours, the brain pressure and risk of hematomas were the most important issues to control. These were taken care of and are no longer a concern.
  2. The blood discovered by the new CT image today is from an abrasion on the brain caused by impact and scraping of the brain on the rough surface on the inside of the skull. It is about 1 cm in size. It is not cause for alarm at this time. If the amount of blood continues to increase, there will be a surgery like the one Peter had on Tuesday night to remove the blood. For now we wait and see if it increases or is absorbed.
  3. The accident caused bleeding from both of Peter’s ears. This bleeding could perhaps indicate linear fractures on the side of Peter’s skull. It is possible (perhaps likely) that one eardrum was ruptured. These are not small issues, but they are trumped by #2 above – the new bleeding. These are really not a concern at this time.
  4. Sputum in Peter’s lungs. He is working hard to get this up and out. It’s presence raises the risk of infection. Although we hoped Peter would move out of ICU today, the truth is that the ICU is a better place for Peter to deal with this sputum.

Peter’s Intracranial Pressure Monitor has been removed. It is another risk of infection and now that Peter is awake, his activity will be enough of an indication as to any problems with pressure in his brain. That little device played a big role in saving Peter’s life on the day of the accident. Lord bless the hands of people who can make those things!

I’ll post about the Praise/Prayer time in a separate update in just a few minutes.

Update #10 on Peter

This morning, we received word that Peter would have another CT scan and would await the results before going ahead with the plan to move Peter out of ICU and to a regular room.

This decision was proven to be made with wisdom as the scan did reveal some intracranial bleeding. This bleeding is different from the bleeding Peter experienced in the first couple days. The earlier bleeding was *outside* the brain. This bleeding is *inside* the brain. I wish I could tell you exactly what this means, but I just got the news and thought it best to get the news to you now than to wait for the exact details.

Obviously, the bleeding is not good news. But, this does not change all of the good news we were able to report in the last update EXCEPT that Peter will remain in ICU for 1 or 2 more days. It is good news that the doctor decided to take another CT scan and found this new bleeding. We definitely wouldn’t want Peter moved out of ICU but not know about this bleeding.

I’m headed to the hospital soon and if I find out anything relatively quickly, I’ll update this post. If it takes a while to learn anything new, I’ll post it in the next update.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Update #9 on Peter

Big news today so I'll get right to it.

Peter will move out of ICU in the morning. We don't know what time. His condition has improved to the point where he needs out of the ICU in order to recover. The ICU is 24 hours a day of bright lights and activity. This is a great place to be when you are sedated and your life depends on the observations of nurses moving throughout the room. But when you are awake and alert and trying to regain your normal life, you need sunlight and daytime and nighttime.

We praise God that he has willed that Peter make rapid progress up to this point! Can I get an "Amen"?

This morning when Claudia and Rick visited Peter, they came out very discouraged because Peter was sedated and there was no opportunity to see any progress from yesterday. At lunchtime, the person now known as the "American Angel" showed up and took Peter's parents to lunch at Subway. The "American Angel " is named Alicia and she doesn't know Peter, but heard of his situation and is in Taipei so came by to lighten the load. After lunch, Peter's friend Roming took Peter's parents to Peter's apartment in Banqiao which was a tough thing for them to experience. Roming was hoping to take them out to see a little bit of the city to take their minds off of heavier things, but I never heard if this happened or where they went. They arrived back at the hospital this evening with discouraged spirits...

Those spirits would soon change!

At 7PM they went in to see Peter. Jen-Jen accompanied them as a translator. When 15 minutes passed, we all suspected something good was happening in there. Shortly Jen-Jen came out with eyes, face, and body *full* of JOY!
  • Peter's eyes were open.
  • Peter was looking around.
  • Peter was moving (and also controlling) his arms and legs.
  • Peter was trying to speak, but had a tube in his throat so there were no intelligible words.
  • Peter was blinking.
  • Peter's eyes were moving together and seemed to focus on and track faces.
  • Peter was responding to requests to cough.
  • Peter was annoyed by the tubes and seemed glad when we tried to explain what they were for.
During the visiting time, Peter had a tube in his throat. The tube somehow helps rid phlegm from Peter's airways. Before Claudia left his side, the nurses removed this tube. By this time, Peter was very tired and his throat was probably very sore from the tube so he didn't speak. We think he will tomorrow.

I previously mentioned that the nurses would give him liquids today. I saw this while I visited Peter's bedside tonight. They gave him milk in a syringe through a tube in his nose.

Peter's score on the coma scale is now 14. Remember that this scale is for people who have experienced head trauma. A perfect score is 15, but that doesn't mean that Peter is fully recovered... it just means that his trauma has been managed to a point where we can begin to learn the degree and extent of brain damage. Obviously, we hope and pray there is zero.

We will know more in the coming hours and days.

With Peter's improvement and moving to a regular room, I've been asked to share the following about visitation:
  • Please do - come to the hospital to gather with friends and family, show your support, share information, sign the guiestbook, and more.
  • Please do not - go directly to Peter's room. It is important that the number of visitors to Peter's bedside remain low for the time being. It is possible you might get to see Peter, but you should visit with the understanding that seeing him is unlikely at best. We must do what is best for Peter.
  • With Peter in the ICU, the gathering point has been an area to the left when you get off the elevator on the 8th floor. At least for Saturday, this will remain the gathering point. If you visit. Go to the 8th floor gathering point.
We are planning a praise and prayer time for friends in the Taipei area on Sunday from 2PM - 5PM. Although at the time of this posting, we don't really know what we mean by this! I'll give more details tomorrow when we know more. Keep the time in mind, though, if you are in the area.

There is a picture that Peter's mom wants me to share here on the blog. She posted it to her Facebook profile so it is possible that some of you have already seen it. It is a picture of Peter from the day she arrived. It is of Peter in his bed and you can clearly see the various tubes he is hooked up to. Personally, I support her decision to share the picture. I think it can help people process and understand. However, it occurred to me that some readers may not wish to see Peter like this. So I decided to post the picture at another website and link to it. You make the call. If you want to see it, click the link below. If you don't want to see it, you don't have to. The photo is not graphic in any way. It is sad to see Peter like this, but remember that he is *much* better tonight and most of the tubes you see are either already removed or will be removed in the morning.

click here to view the picture in a new window


Peter has been helping me coach soccer to kids 4 to 12 years old on Saturday mornings. We will all miss him tomorrow, kids included. Perhaps he'll be back on the pitch sooner, rather than later.

Your prayers are powerful and effective. The family thanks you.