Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Wonder - Mama's Miracle

Yesterday I witnessed a miracle. A real, live, medical miracle.
I wrote about my mother-in-love's bravery a month ago as she endured Biometric neurostimulator brain implant surgery for a familial tremor. For the past month as Jamie has been resting and healing from that surgery, yesterday marked the neurosurgery appointment to be "turned on."

As we sat in the neurologist's waiting room yesterday morning, Mama's phone continued to beep from friends sending quick texts and emails of love and support. The messages intermittently scrolled across her phone, and Mama spoke of the outpouring of love she'd felt through this process. As I said in my previous post, Mama and Papa so often get to be on the giving side of things, it's far different - and both humbling and comforting - to be on the receiving side of such lavish love. From her daughter Cameron coming to care for her the week post-surgery, to a couple of dear friends who made a secret pact of holding her up in prayer, to college roommates coming to be with her, and family and friends from Rockwall, Dallas, and literally across the globe offering their prayers and support. It's been a lot to digest.

So yesterday, after four weeks of recovering from a quite barbaric surgery, we waited to see if this thing WORKED. The nurse took Mama's vitals and the blood pressure cuff belied Mama's calm demeanor as her blood pressure skyrocketed about normal from nerves and anticipation.

Once seated in the exam room, the neurologist entered with a kind smile and asked, "Now, you're all healed, you look great. That was all worth it, right?"

Mama returned a half-hearted smile, and as recent images of Mama's head full of staples and the still not-yet-healed incisions across her chest circulated in my mind's eye, I suggested from the back corner, "Well, we'll all see in a few minutes."

Her neurologist sat down across from Jamie, drew a spiral on a piece of paper, then passed it to Jamie and asked her to do the same. Here's is Jamie's first attempt, before turning the unit on.
The doctor's spiral on the left, followed by Jamie's first and second attempts

She then asked Jamie to write, "Today is a nice day."

The doctor then pulled out a tablet and stylus and pushed a small button on a remote control to turn on Jamie's apparatus. She checked to make sure all the connectors were working, and then proceeded to fine tune the stimulator connected to the left side of Jamie's brain, which controlled the right side of her body - all with that little tablet and stylus. Jamie could feel nothing out of the ordinary - no electrical impulses or stimulation.

But when asked again to draw a spiral, here was Jamie's result:

And then the sentence.

It was at this point that Jamie began to cry.
And Papa and I needed tissues right along with her.

After more than thirty years of physical challenges with her tremor, Mama could again write a sentence - in her beautiful, familiar cursive handwriting.

The neurologist gave her a fifteen-minute break before firing up the other side. As she stepped out of the room I went to hug Mama, and Papa was just as quickly out of his chair with his arm around Mama's shoulders, immediately offering words of thanksgiving to our generous Heavenly Father who truly gave us more than we expected or imagined.

We dried our tears and pulled ourselves together before the neurologist walked back in to turn on the right-side neurostimulator. Again, the same process - a clear, clean spiral, a beautifully-written sentence (even left-handed), but this time, a stronger voice as well.
At the onset of this surgery, the physicians almost guaranteed that the neurostimlators would help the shaking in Jamie's hands and head. But they would not say the same for her voice. Only 2% of patients see a difference in their voice. All along, we've been saying we see every reason for Mama to be in that 2%.

As the neurologist continued to test Jamie's ability to put a cup to her mouth and drink, and then pour water from one cup to another (again, tasks she has not been able to do for years) the doctor told her, "I don't hear a tremor in your voice at all. It is gone. But you are still speaking slowly."

If only Clinton could have been in the room to answer that one.

The reality is, as Jamie gets comfortable with her ability to speak, her words will likely speed up. Or maybe not. She has spoken slowly and deliberately since I've known her. But with the tremor gone, it will take far less energy and exertion for her to communicate what she wants to say.
We were all kind of in disbelief driving away from that office yesterday. Jamie called Corbin from the car and his first words were, "Mom! You sound twenty years younger!"
Lifting a cup to her lips and drinking with steady hands (and - Go Bears!)
A few photos from last month, the day of Mama's surgery. Glimpses of the massive support she and Papa have felt throughout this process:
Morning waiting room crew (but pastor Steve Stroope beat us all) - God's great comfort through the love of others
Mama made Papa promise we'd pray in the actual hospital chapel, not just the waiting room. Proof.
As the day grew on, so did Jamie's fan base
Aunt Kay and Lori greeting Corbin (who showed up with several Campisi's pizzas for all)
Curtis and Shirley from east Texas - a joy to visit with
Corbin giving an update after seeing Mama for the first post-surgery visit
Oh happy day!
There's still a bit more tweaking of the neurostimulators and physical healing to come, but we are truly in awe of this entire process. I am still touched with Mama's bravery. Yesterday, through tears, she said that ten little grandchildren are responsible for that bravery - she would have never been motivated otherwise.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph 3:20-21

I love writing these "Wednesday Wonder" posts, because when I see amazing people doing extraordinary things, I want to shout it from the rooftops. Or at least from my little blog!  The people I highlight here are "Wonders" in my eyes because I see God's work in and through them - His work transforming the ordinary to extraordinary. But it typically takes a willing heart, some risk, and an offering of "yes" for Him to transform.