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.


  • 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?




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.


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



“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.


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


Peter with one of his physical therapists working on walking.


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


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


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.



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.


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.


Peter playing catch with my son, Zachary


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


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.

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!:-)

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.