Help Jay

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Last Updated: Sunday, June 23, 2019 4:25 PM Eastern Time

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Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 5:15 PM
Jay had a re-evaluation last week. It showed some small improvements and some things stayed the same. However, there was one BIG development—when his knees were extended, the therapist felt tendon/muscle twitching! This is the first time in nearly 8 years!!
Praise God for His healing!

Also, as many of you know, when we had Jay's fundraisers the monies received were held for us separately in a bank account held by our church, Calvin Christian Reformed. Whenever we had a therapy bill or when we purchased our van, we notified our church and they paid them from the donations. However, our church recently merged with Calvary Reformed and the remained donations are now in a new bank account with Calvary. Last week we were informed by Calvary that they will continue to pay Jay's therapy bills, etc., from this account but they will NOT accept any new donations. So in the future, if God puts it on your heart to keep Jay in therapy, we ask that the donations be mailed directly to where he has therapy, NEXTSTEPS CHICAGO. Their address is 8434 Corcoran Road, Willow Springs, IL 60480. Please put in the memo: JAY IWEMA's THERAPY, as they have other patients who are getting their therapy paid for this way as well. Please do not view this as a plea for donations, we have received FAR MORE from the generous hearts of so many, more than we could ever imagine! But we know that some people give on occasion and Calvary told us that if they receive any checks, they are going to mail them back.

Thank you,
Jay and Sharon

Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 12:29 AM
I have some "good news" and "bad news" to share with you today.

"Bad" first. We have been having trouble with the lift in our van for a while now. Last month, the lift would not come out or lower down out of the van after church on Sunday. So with the help of some STRONG guys at church, they were able to lift Jay out of his chair and on to the floor of the van. Providentially, we had the manual wheelchair that day and were able to collapse the chair and put it right along side of Jay for the ride home. Once we got home, with the help of one of our sons, we were able to slide Jay to the side door of the van and lift him back into his chair. We took the van to have the lift repaired but when the lift broke this time, it also blew out two sensors. Unfortunately the van and lift are 20 years old and the parts needed for the repair are not made any more and unable to find. So, we found ourselves in the market for a "new" wheelchair accessible van.

Now the "good" news. When the lift broke it was the week before my Spring Break at school. So during my break, we began the search. We were able to locate a good, used van in South Bend, Indiana. This van was a 2016 Toyota Sienna with only 28,000 miles on it! We drove out to look at it and after our mechanic looked at it, we decided to purchase it. AND WE LOVE IT!! Jay loves that he now sits in the front passenger seat instead of the middle of the van.

When we had Jay's last fundraiser we mentioned that the funds would be used for his therapy and a "new" vehicle. So thanks to all who contributed, we were able to purchase this used van. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Last week we were able to go to Jay's cousin's funeral in Holland, Michigan and on Sunday we were able to drive to Indianapolis to spend Easter with our grandson without worrying if the van would break down.

In closing, we saw God's hand in all of this. First, the lift breaking after church where there were strong, willing men to come to our aid. That it was raining that day. Jay doesn't like to use his power chair in the rain, so we took the manual which we were able to collapse and bring home with us. What would we have done if he was in his heavy power chair? Leave it at church until we had a lift to bring it home? Also, it broke just before my week off so we had time to search for a good van without the feeling of being rushed into a decision. Also, that a good van, at a good price, was available for us. We found that people that need wheelchair vans, like us, keep them for a long time and, therefore, there's not too many good, used ones available for sale. And lastly, because of the generosity of God's people, we were able to get another van suited for Jay's needs. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2019 at 12:02 AM
My last post mentioned problems with the lift in our van. Well, we got it repaired and the lift once again lowers to the street level and return back in the van, but it does not fold into itself for storage. So we are currently using bungee cords to keep it folded inside the van. A slight inconvenience but we are thankful that the other operations were able to be repaired and are currently working. Jay is still trying to get used to his new manual wheelchair. The wheel position is different from his old one and tips easily. We found that out unfortunately when Jay tried to throw a paper towel in the trash in the bathroom at NextSteps without his seatbelt on. How thankful we are that the trainers were able to put him back in his chair and Jay wasn't hurt. We also got his power wheelchair repaired last week. The headrest, back cushion and arm rests were cracked from over seven years of use. The chair was also leaking oil on my living room rug (which I am NOT very happy about) and two batteries were also replaced. A BIG thank you to everyone who contributed to Jay's fundraisers as we were able to use some of the funds to make these necessary repairs.

We had to change Jay's therapy schedule to two days a week since my hours at school changed recently. I'm working Friday mornings now so Jay has no way to get to his 8:00 am session. Honestly, we don't miss getting up at 5:15 am to get to therapy on Friday mornings. Therapy is going well as they continue to concentrate on his core muscles. In fact, today he was playing Wii bowling while on the tilt table. (His legs are strapped to the table while his back and head are off the table.) Being in this position it challenges Jay to engage his core muscles to keep his balance and back off the table, which a few years ago was very difficult for him to do. It was brought to our attention today that previously Jay would make the swinging motion with his right arm to stimulate him throwing the bowling ball while his left hand was on his left upper thigh to help balance himself. Today, he was able to swing his right arm without any counterbalance of his left hand!

It's been a long and sometimes difficult road, but with the love and concern from so many friends and family, Jay continues to press on. We continue to trust God as we know that God's plan and timing IS perfect.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at 12:47 AM
We close the year, 2018, with thankful hearts. Last year with the help of many friends and family, we started a campaign, HOPE4JAY to help raise funds to keep Jay in physical therapy for the next three years and possibly purchase a used wheelchair van to replace our 20-year old van. The goal was $100,000, and we exceeded that goal by approximately $10,000! To that we are extremely grateful to everyone for their generosity!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!! PRAISE GOD!

Yes, Jay is still going to therapy three days a week, working on various mat exercises and machines to strengthen his core muscles. Last week his new manual wheelchair was delivered (we ordered it in October). This chair meets Jay's needs better than the one he received while an inpatient at MarionJoy seven years ago. Jay is much stronger now and doesn't need the heavy back support and the new chair is also easier for him to push himself as the wheels are positioned differently on the chair. We were told the chair would be lighter than 51 pounds that his old weighs, so it wouldn't be so taxing on his arms. Well it is lighter, but by only five pounds.

As I am writing his, our van is in the shop as the lift broke in the church's parking lot. We got Jay in the van ok at home but the lift would not unfold when we got to church. So with the help of our son, we were able to get Jay out of his power chair onto the floor of van and then slide him to the door and lower him into his manual chair. The mechanic called today and said the lift is too old and will continue to break down (we just got it repaired this spring for a similar problem). So we got it fixed once again but are seriously talking about looking for a good used one this spring. The van mechanically has been very good to us but at 20 years old, I'm sure more things will need replacing. I'm just thankful Jay was stuck IN the van and the lift did not stop halfway down with Jay on it.

So in closing, I know I have said this many times, but we are SO thankful for the prayers and support for Jay and our family. We thank God in our prayers for you, as we have seen the hands and feet of Jesus in each one of you. May God bless you in 2019.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 12:02 AM
It’s been a while since my last post, so I think it’s time for an update although there’s not too much new to report. Unfortunately, Jay is not going to massage therapy any more, school is now in session and I’m unable to take him. He is, however, still going to therapy three times a week at Next Steps. He continues to work on strengthening his trunk muscles. With stronger muscles he will be more upright and have better posture which will hopefully increase his endurance when walking with his braces and walker. Jay hasn’t had an evaluation recently measuring his “walking” so at this time we have nothing to share. This past August marked seven years since his accident and we continue to be amazed at the support, love, and prayers from our friends and family. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at 12:43 AM
As I mentioned in my previous post, Jay started going to a chiropractor for a deep muscle massage; we go once a week on Tuesdays. The massage therapist mentioned how tight his hip and leg muscles are and has been working to loosen them up. Jay and his therapist at NextSteps have seen a difference in his walking since he has been going for massages. The leg swing from the hip has improved causing him to walk more easily with his braces and walker, with better steps and causing Jay to walk long distances.

Jay had a really good day at therapy on Monday. After walking with his braces and walker, they had him crawl on the ground on mats on all fours. Jay hasn't done this in over a year as it is quite difficult for him. Not only does he have to keep his balance, put weight on his knees as he moves his hands, he also has to bring his knees to his chest to advance. With some assistance from the therapist, Jay was able to crawl 50 feet, when his previous record was 35 feet! Jay also was able to do 18 unassisted leg pushes (bend and then straighten his knees) on the Total Gym, previously he could do 15. Lastly, Jay with his hands on the therapist's shoulders who sat in front of him with a cushion to help lock out his knees stood for 5 minutes, previous record was 3.5 minutes! Not only that, Jay stood there practically effortlessly as he raised one hand at a time over his head. The therapist, too, used to put in a lot of effort trying to keep Jay's knees from bending and support his upper body from collapsing but not on Monday!

Thank you to all of you who has been praying for Jay and has helped financially! The Hope4Jay fundraiser has reached it's goal of $100,000!! WE ARE BLESSED AND CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH!! With the money raised Jay will be able to continue in therapy! In August it will be 7 years since his accident and we are still seeing noticeable improvement. PRAISE GOD!!

JayStanding

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 12:27 AM
Last week we added another "therapy" to Jay's busy schedule. While sitting in the waiting room at NextSteps, I was talking to another patient about massage therapy. Apparently he has gotten great relief from pain and improvement in his walking since going for massages at his chiropractor. We thought we would give it a try as well, hoping to get relief from the muscle tightness in Jay's hip flexors and leg muscles. So now every Tuesday morning Jay will be going for a 30-minute deep tissue massage at a chiropractor's office in Homer Glen. Please pray with us that Jay will see noticeable results.

At NextSteps they are concentrating on Jay's walking with his braces and walker, as well as, getting out of the chair independently while wearing them. The next couple of weeks they will also teach him how to put on and off his braces. The hope is that once he mastered it, he will be able to use his braces at home.

In closing, thank you for the continued prayers for us. The Hope4Jay Campaign is getting close to its goal as we are over $86,000.00 collected!! We cannot THANK YOU enough for contributing!! Jay continues to work hard and with the grace of God, we are seeing progress being made.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 11:50 PM
Jay had his evaluation. Although we had hoped for more improvement (typical, right?) there was noticeable improvement in many areas. They tested more areas than in years past, some will be baselines for future examinations, such as the 6-minute walk. The biggest improvement was in Jay's forward reach. While sitting on the mat with his feet on the floor, Jay was asked to reach forward as far as he could and then get back to his sitting position. Before he could reach about 6 feet and now 14-15 feet. It was also noted that Jay could move his left foot ever so slightly. He previously could wiggle his big toe a little bit, but in this case they saw movement at his left ankle as well. This is something that we noticed for a while during his morning exercises. His left hip flexors are also getting stronger. We are not sure if these improvements are a result of the electrical stimulation, but we decided to continue with the e-stim at least until the next evaluation. We would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to HOPE4JAY. The campaign has raised over $75,000, this will allow Jay to continue in therapy for about 3 years! We are blessed! God is doing miraculous things!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 11:43 PM
Happy New Year! Therapy is going well. Jay goes to therapy three days a week now, with three different trainers. Although each day is someone different, they share their notes with each other on the progress Jay is making. With the three different sets of eyes, comes different strengths in the areas of therapy and for that we are thankful. A few weeks back Jay started a 20-session electrical stimulation program. The new "e-stim" is much stronger than what Jay had a year or so ago. They tell us that this "e-stim" is 50 percent more powerful in that it can reach deeper into the muscles to stimulate them. Twenty-four pads are placed on different muscles groups on Jay's legs, gluts, back and abdomen. After the 20 sessions, they will do an evaluation and found great results in some people. We are hoping Jay will be one of them too! We'll keep you posted. Last Friday, his trainer commented that when he worked with Jay 18 months ago (the trainer took a leave of absence to go back to school) Jay needed the "e-stim" on the highest level on his legs to keep his legs straight and hold his body upright. Now the "e-stim" is only at one-third of its power to get the same results. Proof that that Jay's legs are getting stronger!

Two weeks ago the trainer at NextSteps wanted to try something different while Jay was in his braces and using the walker. Even though Jay was wearing the gait belt, the trainer was not holding on (although his hand was just inches away). What a great sense of accomplishment as Jay was walking a few feet by himself without anyone holding onto him--"Look Mom, no hands!'

Words cannot excess the gratitude in our hearts for those who contributed to the Hope4Jay Campaign. We are now over the $65,000.00 in monies received—THANK YOU SO MUCH! It's unbelievable! God has blessed us through these gifts! Thank you!

Sunday, November 12, 2017 at 9:30 PM
Looks like it's time for an update. Jay's sessions at RIC have stopped as we have reached the maximum number of visits allowed by Medicare. Jay has progressed SO much from the visits from RIC and we are truly thankful for the therapists there, but mostly to God for His leading us to RIC. We are currently going to NextSteps two days a week for 2 hours each. We hope to get back on the schedule on Friday mornings starting in December. Jay has not been setting any NEW distance records in his walking but we are not too concerned as he is still walking the same total distance each session. Since the sessions are 2 hours in length instead of 45 minutes, Jay is able to work on strengthening his core muscles, which the therapist at RIC thought was limiting his walking ability, not his leg muscles. In fact...a few weeks ago while working with his therapist at NextSteps Jay was able to stand with his braces all by himself for about 30 seconds. That may not seem like a big accomplishment, but it is!! Before Jay's back and stomach muscles were so weak that he would just collapse. Praise God!! Also, last week while laying on his back in bed, I slightly bent one of his legs and then asked him to straighten it, AND HE WAS ABLE TO STRAIGHTEN BOTH HIS RIGHT AND LEFT LEGS!! The quad muscles are getting stronger!!


Also, as many of you know, we started a new campaign HOPE4JAY to keep Jay in therapy. Many of you have responded generously to the email and letter sent and we are extremely grateful. We are awed at the generosity of so many friends and family members. We have had some glitches along the way, emails sent twice, etc. and we apologize for that as it was not intentional and we do regret that it happened. Thank you again. Jay and Sharon

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 10:28 PM
For the past few weeks Jay has been at therapy again at NextSteps Chicago. He came with his braces and walker. We stressed with the members of the staff that Jay wanted to walk with the braces every therapy session and do anything they would recommend that would strengthen his core muscles. That being said, Jay has been walking with his braces for the first hour of therapy and core strengthening for the last hour. I (Sharon) broke my toe three weeks ago and have been unable to drive but thanks to some wonderful friends stepping in, Jay has been able to make his therapy appointments at NextSteps. We did, however, cancel the therapy at RIC for three weeks, as the sessions are very early in morning and didn't want to ask someone to get up so early to take Jay. We are eager to return to RIC to see if the extra therapy sessions at NextSteps will produce better results at RIC. We'll keep you posted.

--Sharon

Friday, August 4, 2017 at 11:01 PM
HOPE

August 4 marks 6 years since Jay's accident. Healing continues as in this past year as we have seen a lot of muscles returning and getting stronger. The last few months we have seen Jay standing with his braces, then walking using a walker with braces and a harness, then walking with the walker, braces, and no harness. Initially it was 25 feet, and then it increased from there. Last week he walked in one bout 112 feet! His personal best for one therapy session is 293 feet! All I can say is that I'm so proud of Jay for pushing himself and never giving up, always giving "his all" every therapy session. Keep in mind in the past 6 years he has always been in some sort of therapy. Even though sometimes he was tired or didn't feel well, he always did his best. So to the doctor who said he would get his most return the 1st year (80 %) and then only a little bit more the next few years...."You don't know Jay and his perseverance and more importantly the POWER OF PRAYER." Thank you all for the continued prayers for Jay and our family. I don't think I ever was so hopeful that Jay will indeed walk again than now.

--Sharon

Saturday, July 1, 2017 at 2:35 PM
New "personal bests"! Jay walked with his braces a total of 293 feet in therapy on Monday. Also, in one bout he walked 100 feet in 5 minutes, 33 seconds! GOD IS GOOD!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 10:56 PM
Prayers answered: we are still at RIC. Although we have met "the financial cap", Medicare is still paying for Jay's therapy sessions. They will, that is, as long as they feel Jay is making steady progress. And that he is! Last week he walked his single longest distance yet--91 feet in 4 minutes 22 seconds! This Monday he walked a total of 277 feet! Jay's therapist made the comment that it's the weak muscles in his core that is holding him back, not his legs. So with a stronger core, who knows how far he can go?!

Tuesday, May 4, 2017 at 12:14 AM
MORE GOOD NEWS!!

When Jay started going to RIC two months ago, he started with his leg braces (KFO's) TRYING to stand between the parallel bars. He then progressed to standing with the collapsible walker, while being supported with a harness attached to the ceiling. Standing led to walking. Last week he walked with the braces and walker and the harness, which was used for more as a safety issue than a support. Well Monday......HE WALKED A TOTAL OF 163 FEET WITHOUT THE HARNESS!! The physical therapist only used a gait belt while walking behind him!! Jay accomplished this in 5 bouts, the first one was 46 feet in just over 2 minutes, the other four were about 30 feet in approximately 1 minute 30 seconds. You cannot believe the joy in our hearts as we give ALL praise to God for this great accomplishment and God's healing!

We may have only about 4 or 5 sessions left which are paid for by Medicare at RIC. Currently we are filling out an application for financial assistance by RIC but we cannot submit it until 60 days after Jay's last paid session. Please pray with us a prayer of thanksgiving and for God's leading as to Jay's next therapy facility.

Here is the video:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 11:48 PM
Therapy at RIC is going GREAT! As I stated in my last post, the therapist believes that with Jay's strong upper body, he should be able to walk with a collapsable walker and his leg braces. So for the 12 sessions Jay has been at RIC, it's been exclusively working with the walker and his braces and each time he has been getting more efficient.

Last week Jay didn't have therapy as we were getting his braces "tweaked". The locking mechanism that allows the braces to keep the knee straight (for walking) or bent (for sitting) is located in the inside of his leg at the knee. It is bowed so it does not rub against the skin. In Jay's case, it was bowed so much that when Jay walked, the locks would hit each other and sometimes impede his one leg to surpass the other. So we got that fixed. Also, it was commented many times that Jay's right leg is longer than his left. Everyone seemed to have a different opinion on this as Jay never had this problem before his accident. Some thought that since he broke his pelvis in two different places in the fall, that maybe it healed wrong. Maybe his hamstrings are shortening from sitting in the chair for 5 1/2 years, maybe his posture. It seemed like everyone had an opinion and knew it was affecting his walking, but no one did anything about it, until his therapist at RIC. She suggested that we get a 1-inch lift put in his left shoe.

So Monday, with the braces' adjustments and new shoes, Jay had a great session! Jay walked 5 bouts of 25 feet each. Each bout was in about 1 minute 40 seconds or less. Previously, his best was 2 minutes or more. Also, he wears a harness that is suspended from the ceiling. Before it was used to help support him and help him with his posture. Now it is used only as a safety feature. In time the therapist believes Jay can eliminate the harness and therapist will only need to use a gait belt to help assist him.

Prayer warriors I have a request for you. The reason we are going to RIC is because the funds that we received from Jay's fundraisers are getting extremely low and that is what we use to go to NextSteps for therapy. We found out that Jay's insurance pays for therapy at RIC but only for about 20 sessions before we hit the monetary cap. PLEASE pray that a way may be found that he can continue at RIC as Jay is making unbelievable progress. THANK YOU!!

-- Sharon

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 10:52 PM
It's been a long time since the last update, and for that I apologize. Since our last post, Jay has changed therapy facilities. Last month he started going to RIC in Willowbrook. After a brief assessment the therapist concluded that with Jay's strong upper body, he will be able to "walk" using a collapsible walker and KFO's (leg braces from his upper thigh to his toes). It's been years since Jay used his braces, but to hear that was very encouraging. We're not exactly sure how this will all play out, but to get Jay out of the chair is wonderful news! So Jay continues to work very hard like he has the last 5 1/2 years. Please pray with us that Jay will continue to make progress.

Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 5:06 PM
As Jay continues his therapy, it sometimes seems that when we compare one day to the next, we don't see any progress. But when we take a step back and look how far he has come from the previous month, we can see there's definite progress. I mentioned a few months ago of how Jay stands with a collapsible walker with electric stimulation. The goal was set for him to stand for 8 minutes. Shortly after setting that goal he surpassed it by standing for 16 minutes. Well, this week he stood for 27 minutes, not only that, much of the time was without holding on to the walker! Before it was his arms that helped support his body and after standing for a short period of time, his arms would get tired and he would have sit down. But now the muscles in his core are getting stronger and are able to keep his body up instead of his arms. However, his leg muscles are still weak and still buckle on occasion. Please pray that his leg muscles will become stronger and are able to support his full body weight. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 at 11:04 PM
Last week marked five years since Jay's accident. This year we have seen noticeable improvement from Jay taking more controlled steps while using the Ripton walker at therapy to being able to put on his shirt while sitting on the edge of his bed without falling over. Yes, this has been a long journey and in all honesty, we hoped that Jay would be walking by now, but that's not God's plan for us right now. However, we have the assurance that we are being led by a loving God whose plans are perfect for us. "God's got this", so why worry?

Jay and Sharon

Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 9:33 PM
Jay's re-eval a few weeks ago showed noticeable improvement again. While sitting on the mat he was asked to reach with his raised arms to his right, left, and forward without falling over and then return to center. He improved in each direction with the most improvement shown on his forward reach. The distance in propelling his wheelchair forward in six minutes also improved greatly. While standing with electrical stimulation on his legs and hands on a walker, the goal was for Jay to stand for 8 minutes, Jay stood for 8.5 minutes. This week he stood for 15 minutes!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 11:51 PM
Sorry it's been so long since the last update. Jay is doing great at therapy; he continues to go three times a week. His walking using the walker has improved as he able to make more "good" steps and his endurance has improved as well. Because he continues to have trouble locking out his left knee, Jay is spending less time in the walker. The thought is that with the therapist putting pressure on his knee to lock it, he may damage Jay's knee. We totally understand the reason why but then again, Jay is doing so well we hate that his time with the walker is limited.

Last week on the total gym, Jay was lying at a 45 degree angle working on his squats. Previously, he needed maximum assistance to straighten his legs after the knee was bent. This time, however, it was committed that Jay only needed minimum assistance. His leg muscles are getting stronger! Also last week was his 6-month re-eval, Jay thinks he did quite well. We're praying he is right! I'll let you know what is shows when we get a paper copy of it.

Thanks for all the prayers for Jay and our family.
Sharon

Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 10:46 PM
Back in December Jay was asked if he wanted to try the Rewalk and the Therastride. Jay didn't think his core muscles were strong enough but trusting his trainers, he has been training on the Rewalk since last month. This month, he tackled the Therastride and HE DID GREAT! His trainer remarked this past week that he has seen a noticeable improvement in Jay's strengthen in just the past three months! This month marks 4 1/2 years since Jay's accident and we are still witnessing the healing power of God!

Thank you for your prayers and support, Jay and Sharon

Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 11:28 PM
Last week Jay started training on the Rewalk. His therapists reassured him that he IS indeed strong enough. The Rewalk itself weighs about 51 pounds, the battery which is located and he carried on his back, weighs a little over 5 pounds. So far Jay has been practicing standing, trying to keep his balance and the placement of the canes that he will be using for balance. As I look at Jay as he stands there, wow has his posture improved!

Jay also had a great day with the Ripton walker last week. With the electric stim on his legs, Jay walked a total of 900 feet (with several breaks in between, of course). Anyway, previously he would walk about 200 feet with 4 - 5 good steps. This time he had about 12 good steps per bout! His trainer said his legs would initiate the steps and the e-stim was used only to help bring his leg forward and then help lock it. Great news! The initiation is there, just need stronger muscles to see it through. Praise God!

We do have one prayer request, however. One of the effects of sitting for hours in the wheelchair is the shorten of the hamstrings behind the legs. We are beginning to see that in Jay's left leg, the leg wants to remain bent even when laying down. We are doing additional exercises to combat this. Please pray that these exercises will stretch the hamstrings back to the proper length. Jay needs his legs straight so they can lock out, bear weight, and for walking.

Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 10:42 PM
Jay has really shown some noticeable strength in his core this week. He is now able to do a simple task, one that we don't think twice about. Jay can now put on and take off his shirt while sitting on the edge of his bed without falling over.  Before his core muscles were so weak that he would topple over when trying to do this simple task.

At therapy he was asked if he would like to do the Therastride. Jay has only done this one time that I can remember. On the Therastride, Jay is suspended in a harness above a treadmill. While the treadmill is moving two trainers, one on each side, move his legs in a walking pattern, while another trainer operates the machine. It's very strenuous for Jay and for the trainers who move his legs. Jay's trainer believes his body has the endurance but Jay would like to get a little stronger. They also asked Jay if he would like to try the ReWalk. The best way I can describe the ReWalk is the computerized suit that Ironman puts on. It has a computer that Jay would wear on his  back with motorized legs which powers knee and hip movement mimicking a natural walking motion with walking sticks in his hands to help support him. Jay, too, feels that he is not strong enough. But apparently his trainers thinks he is! 

Thank God for the progress he is making!

Merry Christmas dear friends,
Sharon

Wednesday, November 19, 2015 at 12:36 AM
Jay's re-eval was earlier this month; the results were not all that great. The trainer agrees with us that the order in which the tasks were evaluated were wrong. By doing the most strenuous first, Jay's body was tired and unable to perform well on the simple things that we knew he had improved on considerably.

The last two weeks in therapy have been great. Last week Jay was in the Ripton walker with electrical stimulation on his right (weaker) calf. His left leg was moving great and when it was time to raise and move his right leg forward, the trainer pressed the trigger that caused stimulation on the right calf muscle and Jay was able to move the leg more easily. Previously Jay would walk in the walker about 30 minutes with several breaks due to the intense energy needed to bring his right leg forward. (Many times it took several tempts to move the leg.) But on this day with the e-stim on his right calf, he walked for an whole hour. Sometimes it was 10 minutes before he has to take a break.

On Tuesday of this week, Jay was standing in the parallel bars with the e-stim on his abdominal muscles. There he was standing "as straight as an arrow" without his legs buckling beneath him. He was able to stand many times for about 1 minute each and not once did he say his arms were hurting! (Usually his arms are holding up his body and they get tired quick.) His legs were able to support his body! In fact, he was able to let his hands go for a few seconds a couple of times too!

All this is GREAT news! PRAISE GOD!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 12:19 AM
Sorry for the delay in posting an update; the school year started up again, making my life a LITTLE bit busier.

Jay has been concentrating a lot on balance at therapy. He's been sitting on a large rubber ball, or a peanut-shaped ball, all the time trying to keep his upper body balanced on the ball. Sometimes they have him throwing or catching a beach ball while sitting there, or volleying a ball back and forth. His abdominal and back muscles are getting quite strong and he is able to sit there for longer and longer periods of time. Also, Jay has been standing with electrical stimulation placed on various muscle groups while placing his hands on the trainer's shoulders. At one time he was able to stand there for a total of 11 minutes! Last week with the e-stim on his back muscles, he was able stand while raising one of his arms at a time over his head--a great accomplishment!! It was commented that before Jay had to have the e-stim at 100 percent and now, he's at a rate of 70 percent and getting the same desired result. His muscles are responding with less stimulation--PROGRESS!! His walking with the Ripton walker has been improving as well. Before he was able to initiate 4-5 "good" steps per leg by himself before they would get tired and then the trainer would have to assist him, either he would help lock out his knee or help with the follow through. Now Jay can walk about 10-12 "good" steps before needing assistance. Praise God with me for the continued healing in Jay's body.

-- Sharon

Friday, July 24, 2015 at 12:39 PM
As we are rapidly approaching another anniversary - August 4 marks four years since Jay's accident - I'm reflecting on the past year. It has been a GREAT year! Jay has seen SIGNIFICANT improvement in the return of muscles AND muscle strength. His core muscles are getting stronger giving him better posture and while on the parallel bars, his arms do not tire as easily as they try to hold up his body. His walking has improved as well. In December, we were celebrating Jay walking with his braces using as oversized walker and then "graduating" to an ordinary walker. The last few months, Jay has been walking without his braces using yet another walker which helps simulate a normal walking pattern. He is able to move his left and right leg forward in a walking pattern; the steps are not perfect and he takes frequent breaks. Last week he walked 325 feet in the walker with the help of his trainer! In addition, it was commented during that session that Jay took less breaks than usual and that the trainer saw more activity in his lower legs!! PRAISE GOD!!

Again, we are so thankful for your prayers and support. Knowing that we have a Christian community who are traveling this journey with us, is so comforting. It has also encouraged us more than you will ever now.

Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 5:53 PM
We finally had Jay's re-eval a week ago. This eval seemed shorter in length than the others, maybe because I wasn't invited to view. Anyway, progress is being made. His trunk/core muscles are getting stronger! These need to be strong to keep his upper body up when he walks. Also his "functional reach" has improved. Let me explain. When Jay is sitting on the mat at therapy with his arms stretched to his sides at his shoulders, he is able to reach 4 inches further on left and 3 inches further on his right, when returning to center without moving his arms or falling over. This past week Jay was volleying a volleyball back and forth with his trainer without falling over. PROGRESS!!

Jay is also using a new walker at therapy. (I don't think I talked about this one before, sorry if I did.) This walker reminds me of a walker we used for our boys when they were babies. Jay sits in the "seat" of the walker with the walker encompassing his body on all sides. Again, the seat is adjusted so his ENTIRE weight is NOT on his legs. Now for the GREAT news--Jay is able to walk moving both his left leg (stronger side) and right leg (weaker side)!! Now sometimes they are small steps or very large ones that he kicks the walker's base in front of him. But to quote his trainer "Ugly steps are better than no steps at all!" PRAISE GOD!!

Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 10:10 PM
On Tuesday
Jay was back to standing using the parallel bars after being away from them for a month or two as they worked on strengthening his core muscles. While standing there, electrical stimulation is placed on various muscle groups, this helps the muscles that need a little help--shocking them awake, if you will. Months ago, they would turn the "e-stim" on as high as they could to stimulate the muscles to help Jay stand. On Tuesday, the trainer said Jay was able to stand with only one muscle group on full power while the others were only at 50 %! In short, his leg muscles are getting stronger, helping support his body while he is standing. Yes, they are still weak but much stronger than they were months ago!

Since the leg and core muscles are weak, Jay helps himself stand upright by holding TIGHTLY on to the parallel bars. The trainer is now asking Jay to briefly let go of the bars for a few seconds. This is quite a challenge for him, but he is able to do it. The plan for Jay is let go for longer and longer periods time, but that means his legs and core will have to be strong enough to hold his body upright. What a great thing this would be!! Please pray with us that God will continue to heal Jay's body and that Jay will be able to do this.

Jay's 6-month evaluation should be some time in May. We will keep you posted on the day and the results.

Praising God for his healing power,
Jay and Sharon

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 10:06 PM
Last week it was decided at physical therapy to change the focus of Jay's therapy. The next couple of weeks will have a heavy concentration on Jay's core muscles. So for now the emphasis will not be walking with the walker but more mat stretching and exercises. Hopefully with the strengthening of the core muscles, Jay's arms will not have to work so hard and tire out so quickly when using the walker. Right now his arms are what is holding up his upper body as his trunk muscles are not as stronger as they could be.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 11:34 PM
This month marks 3 1/2 years since Jay's accident. The last month we have seen improvement in Jay's walking. Last week Jay was working at therapy using the harness and regular walker; his right side is coming along, but remains weaker than his left. This time, however, the thought was since his right foot sometimes gets hung up when he tries to swing it forward, to take off his shoes. Well, guess what? Jay walked a total of 75 feet by himself using the harness and walker! His right foot got stuck sometimes but with the soft sock on his foot instead of the rubberized toe from his shoe makes it was much easier for him to successfully swing his foot forward.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of ours asked Jay if he would give his testimony in his church. Jay was more than happy to tell of the "God moments" he has experienced since his accident. Some of the things he told them was how anxious he was when he was in inpatient rehab thinking of the expensive renovations needed for our home. He told how he prayed to God about EACH one and how God provided fellow Christians who donated their time and abilities to make our home wheelchair accessible. Jay also spoke about the fundraisers which raised more money than we ever dreamed of raising (Ephesians 3:20). I have to admit I didn't know exactly what Jay was going to say but to relive those moments and be reminded of the love and care of our Heavenly Father brought tears to my eyes. Many people in the congregation, and some of the visitors for the first time to this church, were crying as well as Jay told them how he PERSONALLY felt God in those moments of his life. Jay made God real to them.

Sharon

Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 5:38 PM
Thanks be God for the wonderful things he has done!

Sometimes progress seems so slow when you look for day-to-day progress but after reading Jay's blog of the last twelve months, I can definitely say "God is Good!" In the last year we have seen so much returned strength in Jay's body not to mention his determination he exhibits at every therapy. His upper body is so much stronger and return of muscles in his legs has made this past year a memorable one. We don't know what the next year will bring but we do know that our God is faithful.

Wishing you a Blessed 2015,
Sharon

Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 12:25 AM
What a great two weeks it has been! Last Wednesday was Jay's re-eval and what a great one it was! Again, Jay's body has shown significant improvement. On his left side, his big toe cannot only wiggle, but his smaller toes can curl under. His left ankle can move upward and his muscles can hold it in position. His left knee can bend and his muscles can hold that in place as well. His right side is noticeable weaker, but there is improvement. His right big toe that was twitching only six months ago is now moving. Jay's right knee can also bend and hold in place. The only place where improvement was not noted was his right ankle that is not moving yet but the tendons were seen moving. To quote the physical therapist that was doing the re-eval "Good stuff is going on in the legs!" The lower legs has movement that wasn't there six months ago! GREAT STUFF!!

My previous post shows a video that was taken of Jay while walking with the harness and walker with the trainer helping behind him. On Wednesday, Jay was using the same setup and was walking AT LEAST 50 feet WITHOUT the help of the trainer!! I don't know who was more excited over this milestone, me, Jay, or his trainer! All three of us had tears of joy in our eyes! The hope is with time his legs will continue to get stronger and more weight can be put on them and less help of the harness. In the meantime, more time will be focused on his arms to make them stronger making the walking with the walker less taxing on his arms.

So to all of you who have been with us these last three years, I just want to say we couldn't have done it without you. Your love, concern and prayers have kept us going when progress seemed so slow coming. Without your financial help at Jay's fundraisers we would not be able to continue this type of physical therapy. THANK YOU!!

Yes, miracles DO happen. As I am writing this I am reminded of how we were told after Jay's accident by his doctors that we would see the most return two years after his accident and little after. Well, it's been over three years now and we have seen the most healing these LAST six months. We are witnessing the healing hand of the GREAT PHYSICIAN.

In Christian love,
Sharon

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 9:50 PM
Praise God with us for his healing power; we want to share with everyone a great day today in Jay's recovery. The setup at his therapy today was unusual. Jay was in a suspended body harness that travels along the ceiling trusses to allow movement in a straight line. In the attached video, Jay is walking in the harness (that holds up the majority of his weight) with no leg braces and using a regular walker. The therapist occasionally helped to lock out his knee so the opposite leg could move forward.TODAY JAY WALKED ABOUT 15 FEET WITH WALKER AND HARNESS WITH NO HELP FROM THE THERAPIST, WHICH UNFORTUNATELY IS NOT ON THE VIDEO!! Praise God!!  We were and still are very, very excited by this new development as it has only been 1 week ago since we first started using this harness setup. Praise God for healing progress.

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 Jay & Sharon

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 10:43 PM
Each week we are seeing noticeable improvement at therapy. Last week Jay "graduated" from the oversized walker to a regular walker! GREAT NEWS!! For now, Jay is just working on practicing standing WITHOUT his braces while holding onto the walker from a sitting position. This is after great progress and is a real challenge. He is able to "lock out" his right leg (keep his leg straight) and hold his weight when he stands, but his left leg remains bent and unable to hold his weight. His arms are, therefore, holding up his body and gets tired quickly and Jay is not able to stand for too long. PLEASE pray that his left leg will straighten and hold his weight. Jay needs his both his knees to "lock out" is order to move on to his next phrase--walking with the regular walker.

Also, this week Jay set a new distance record while walking with his braces and the oversized walker. Jay walked 320 feet with 4 breaks--a longer distance with less rest breaks!

We are still waiting for the date of his RE-eval, we'll keep you posted.

-- Sharon

Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 6:44 PM
It's been a great couple of weeks at therapy. Jay's been walking with his braces and oversized walker almost every therapy session. His walking has improved in almost every area. His steps are larger and smoother. His distance has increased as well. This past week he set a new distance record. His previous distance was 270 feet; his new record is 350 feet! Now he usually does this in increments of 70 feet so he can rest and legs can be stretched in between, but he walked the same distance on Wednesday and Friday and it took him 15 minutes less on Friday! Progress!

Also, Jay legs, stomach and back muscles are getting stronger. Two weeks ago his trainer wanted to see if he could stand without his braces while holding onto the parallel bars and surprisingly he did! His right knee was able to lockout right away but his left leg want to flex so it took awhile for it to straighten. That being said, Jay's arms are doing a lot of work to hold him up but his posture is so good now. It's so good to see him stand on his own two feet!!

Thank you to all of you for your love, support, and prayers these last three years! We have really seen God's healing hand these last six months. In the next few weeks, Jay will have his 6-month RE-eval. Please pray with us that it will be good, marked with significant improvement in all areas. Please pray for added strength his legs so they can bear more weight and for a longer period of time.

-- Sharon

Friday, September 5, 2014 at 11:15 PM
Jay had a doctor's appointment recently because of the lack of energy. It was found that Jay not only had a bacterial infection but his red blood cell count was very low. (He also experienced this while an inpatient at MarianJoy.) So with the help of antibiotics and the addition of iron supplements, he's a new man. It's so great to see the improvement in Jay's body, in every activity he appears to be so much stronger!

Each therapy session now consists of walking with his braces and the oversized walker. His walking has improved so much, also when he walks while holding onto the parallel bars, Jay is able to do it without any assistance from his trainer.

Today we had a great therapy session. His trainer commented how well his gluteals (butt muscles) were contracting--Jay can't feel them working. Also, his quads that were quivering five months ago are now VISUALLY contracting!!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 6:44 PM
HOPEFULLY OPTIMISTIC

As I am sitting here at therapy reflecting on the past year (Jay's anniversary of his accident is 3 years on the 4th of August) I am watching Jay walk with his braces using the walker. Today he is doing his best walking yet! Yes, he is exhausted by the end of therapy, but his stride and speed has improved so much.

This past year Jay has seen remarkable improvement, his strength has increased and also his endurance. We have also seen the return of muscle movement that we haven't seen before. On the locomat (where he is harnessed from the ceiling while the computer moves his legs as he walks on the treadmill) he is able to lift both his left and right legs slightly where he wasn't able to do that before. This week a new back was put on his wheelchair which is lower and is less supportive. This is because of increased strength in his back and core muscles.

In closing, we have seen in the past year the most noticeable improvement yet. PRAISE GOD! As we continue to trust God, the Great Physician, please pray with us that Jay will continue to see improvement as we start of the next year of Jay's recovery. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 10:34 PM
It's been a great two weeks!! Last week Jay graduated from walking in his braces while holding on to the parallel bars to an oversized walker. Today walked in his braces using the walker for a distance of 217 feet!! MIRACLES STILL HAPPEN!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 11:47 PM
Wow, I can't believe it's been SO long since the last update. Life has been busy the last few weeks. Our son, Brian came home for the summer after finishing his junior year at college in Nashville, and our youngest son, Tom graduated from high school last week. Preschool graduation was last week as well, giving me a break till we resume in the fall.

Last week was also our last week of aquatic therapy for a while. Jay had some great sessions this past year and we attribute much of the improved core muscles to the rigorous sessions with Jamika. Physical therapy is going great as well. Today Jay "walked" the length of the parallel bars (10 feet forward and 10 feet backwards) in his braces without stopping in about 3 minutes! This may sound like a long time but just 6 months ago Jay had to stop many times in those 10 feet just to rest his arms because they got so tired trying to hold up his weak upper body. Both Jay and his trainer are excited over the progress Jay is making. In fact, recently his trainer stated how impressed he was over Jay's increased strength. Jay asked if he was referring to the improvement over the last 6 months. No, he said, just in the last 3 months! PRAISE GOD!!

And if that's not enough good news....Here's an update on the "Continue the Hope for Jay" Fundraiser!! God has blessed us beyond comprehension. The monies raised at the fundraiser and the contributions received over the last three months has given us enough funds to keep Jay in therapy for over the next three years--$74,000.00 has been raised!! That is far beyond our widest dreams!! THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO PRAYED FOR US AND HAVE GIVEN SO GENEROUSLY!!

I believe in miracles!
Sharon

Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 11:01 PM
Jay had a great week of therapies. In aquatic therapy, Jay has been working on keeping his balance while sitting on a small boogie board.The board is less than 3 feet long and 18 inches wide and quite challenging, requiring a lot of core strength. This week Jay was able to keep his balance without once falling sideways into the water! He also did some great walking!

At physical therapy, Jay worked with his braces after a few months off when it was decided that he needed to strengthen his core muscles more. Well, he did great! He was able to stand independently from a sitting position. The goal is to "walk" independently 10 feet using the parallel bars. Jay was unable to do that but he did make it 5 feet! Needless to say both Jay and his trainer was very pleased!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 4:41 PM
As of today, the amount raised is $35,000! GOD PROVIDES!!

Friday, May 9, 2014 at 10:46 PM
GOD IS GOOD!!

Wow! What a great night! Continue the Hope for Jay Fundraiser was held on Saturday, May 3. Many family members and friends enjoyed a lite supper of BBQ, hot dogs, pasta salad, chips and brownies at Calvin CR Church. Then they walked across the street to SW Chicago Christian School where there were over 15 fun fair games, bingo, bouncey house and over 200 items to bid on in the Silent Auction. The chairpeople Laura, Elaine, Helen, Rog and Val and many, MANY volunteers made it all possible. To all of them we are extremely thankful.

As of today, I don't have the total dollar amount raised but as of Sunday morning, it was over $21,000.00 which will pay for another year of therapy for Jay.

Thanks again to all who volunteered and contributed to the fundraiser!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 10:09 PM
I have some GREAT news that I HAVE to share!!

Jay had his RE-evaluation at NextSteps today, this hasn't been done in about six months. We have been praying for a good one and God provided us with a GREAT one!!

His trunk muscles that Jay has been working on at home and at therapy have greatly improved.

His hip and knee flexors are twitching and so are his quads. Jay's knee muscles are engaging.

Now for the best news....Jay was able to TWITCH his right big toe and MOVE his left big toe!! AND....MOVE his left ankle, moving his foot up and down!!

All this was done on cue so we know they were not spasms!!

Won't you join me in praising God for working miracles in Jay's life?!

Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 10:02 PM
It was back to the pool this week, unfortunately, the results were not as we hoped, let's hope it was just the two weeks off, and this coming week will be better.
Physical therapy continues to go well, one of the trainers commented that Jay's posture has improved over the last several months although there's still room for improvement. We ordered a e-stim unit for home use, similar to the one he uses at therapy. Jay's insurance may or may not pay for it, but we thought it would be great if we could "wake up" those muscles at home as well as at therapy.
Plans for the "Continue the Hope for Jay" fundraiser on May 3 is in full swing. It's hard to believe it will be here in less than two weeks!! Please check out our church's website for the details, www.calvincrchurch.org. The list of silent auction items continues to grow, over 100 items and counting. A big "thank you" to all who contributed in SO many different ways already!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 10:45 PM
Not much new this week to report at therapy. We will not be having pool therapy for the next two weeks due to the school being on spring break and our therapist going out of town the following week. Our RE-eval at NextSteps is scheduled for April 29. I'm praying for the same results as last time when Jay met or surpassed all the goals they had set for him. Today's post is to tell you of God's blessings on our efforts regarding Jay's fundraiser set for May 3. AND HAS HE BLESSED US!! The menu and games for the fun fair are set. Donations for the silent auction are coming in, too! (I hope to post a sampling of some of the things that will be up for auction on my next post.) Many volunteers have come forward, however, some are still needed to help with the games. Monetary donations have been coming in as well. We have seen God's work in healing of Jay's body and now in the hearts of so many wonderful people. THANK YOU!! If God has laid it upon your heart to help in any way, you can call Jay at 708/843-3597. Also, check out our church's website as it has has a link for "Continue to Hope for Jay" and some pictures of Jay at therapy. www.calvincrchurch.org Hope to see you on May 3, Sharon

Monday, March 10, 2014 at 8:05 AM
Another great week at therapy. At pool therapy, Jay "walked" the width of the pool 1 1/2 times!! He maybe could have done more but walking is the last activity of the day and our session was over. His right leg was moving as well as his stronger left side!! On Tuesday at physical therapy, Jay was working on the bike with electrical stimulation on his upper leg muscles, etc. as usual. This time he commented that he could feel the stimulation down both his legs to his feet!! That's a first!! Now I've read that getting sensation back after 2 1/2 years could be just that. But I also read that sensation sometimes is followed by muscle return. I'm praying that the latter is true in Jay's situation!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 11:40 PM
A fundraiser is being planned for Jay on May 3, 2014, 5:00 - 8:30 pm. It will be at Calvin Christian Reformed Church and Southwest Chicago Christian School - Oak Lawn campus. CONTINUE THE HOPE FOR JAY will consist of a fun fair, supper, and silent auction. Many people have volunteered but still more are needed. You can call Jay at 708/843-3597 for more info.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 11:48 PM
I know it's been a long time since I have written an update, and for that I apologize. I was holding off hoping that I would have some good news to share with you regarding our applications for funding for Jay's therapy.

As many of you know, the monies from Jay's fundraiser are now depleted, this money was used to pay for Jay's physical therapy. Last week we heard that we were selected for funding from a foundation that we applied to. Great news, but unfortunately since the foundation received so many applications our award will cover only one day of therapy per month for the year. Yes, we are thankful and are continuing to look for other foundations in which to apply.

Jay is still going to physical and aquatic therapies. But with Christmas Break and Elim closing for snow days, we haven't been to the pool much these past few weeks.

As today marks 2 1/2 years since Jay's accident, we have seen God's hand in the healing of many parts of his body. Yet, we know that the Great Physician is able to make Jay's body whole again, and that is what we are earnestly praying for.

Praying for a miracle,
Sharon

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 11:37 PM
With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I thought It would be fitting to give you an update as we are thankful for the improvement we have been seeing week to week.

Although today's aquatic therapy was not Jay's best, last week was. Jay did his best walking yet with his right leg walking as well as his stronger left.

Physical therapy is going great as well. Today his therapist commented how much stronger his trunk muscles have gotten since the last time she worked with Jay. He is able to stand for longer periods of time now with those stronger muscles. This week while laying on his side, Jay's trainer asked me to come and feel a small muscle on Jay's side. Apparently, this small muscle never contracted before but when Jay was asked to raise his knee to his chest (unfortunately he couldn't do it) this small muscle was engaging and do its part!

As I mentioned before, the end of the year will deplete the money we received from Jay's fundraiser which we use for Jay's physical therapy. We are currently applying for a grant and trying other avenues so Jay can continue his therapy. Please pray with us that God will direct us as we see Jay's body is reacting to his therapies and we do not want to stop now. Also, if you know of any foundations, etc., please email us at Iwema5@msn.com. Thank you.

Wishing you a Blessed Thanksgiving,
Sharon

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Sorry for the long delay since our last posting. We had trouble with the website and finally got it fixed.

Therapies are going well. REALLY WELL!!

In aquatic therapy, Jay is walking the width of the pool!! The left leg is much stronger than the right which may be the result that Jay's one leg is NOW longer than the other. We think this is the result of his accident. When he fell, he broke his pelvis in two places and it may have not healed correctly. So when he puts all his weight on the left side, it's harder to lift the right leg (since he lifts it only a couple of inches) and brings it forward.

Jay had a RE-eval in the physical therapy last week and I am happy to report that he met all the benchmarks they set for him and even exceeded in a few as well!! This week he was on the "total gym". The best way I can explain what the total gym is is that Jay lays on his back on mat at a 45 degree angle with the soles of his feet on a small platform. With his knees bent the therapist asks him straight his legs AND HE DOES!! You should have seen Jay's face, his body is listening to him!! That was certainly a great day.

Well, that is the good news, now for the not-so-good news. Earlier this month we were told by the deacons of our church that the monies we received from Jay's fundraiser will be depleted by the end of the year. Let me explain. When we had the fundraiser, our church graciously offered to deposit the money in an account for us and whenever Jay incurred a medical bill we were unable to pay by ourselves (ie. a large physical therapy bill) we would submit it to the deacons of our church and they would pay it out of the monies from the fund. That way we would not be taxed personally as added income as it would be used solely to pay for some of Jay's medical expenses.

That being said, please pray for us as we ask for God's wisdom as we make decisions regarding Jay's therapies, etc.

Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Hello to all:

As I write this I'm watching Jay standing in his standing frame. This piece of "furniture" has been in our living room for about a year and a half and Jay tries to get in it at least an hour a night. Since the last few months at therapy Jay has been working solely on his core muscles and now we can witness how it has drastically changed in his posture. Before because of Jay's weak back and abdominal muscles, while standing there Jay would fight to stand up while the frame seemed to thrust him forward. Let me tell you, usually the standing frame won and Jay would get out of the frame exhausted! Now his posture is great and he is less tired!

We have also noticed this in his pool therapy. While before Jay was not only trying to move his legs in a walking pattern, he was also trying to stand up straight. His therapist (who is probably just over 5 ft tall and 100 lbs and may I add EXTREMELY strong) had her work cut out for her as she tried to hold Jay upright in about 4 ft of water without having him fall head first into the water while holding down the right foot with her feet while Jay moved his left foot and visa versa. Now with Jay's regained strength, Jay's attempts to walk are going much better.

Thank you for your continued concerns and prayers for our family, we cannot express our thankfully to each one of you.

Still praying for a miracle,

Sharon

Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Dear Friends and Family:

Today marks the 2-year anniversary of Jay's accident. This year has felt different for me, at least the past few months. Honestly, I feel weary not as upbeat as I was in the first year. It could be the lack of sleep (getting up at 3:00 am EVERY night to tend to Jay got quite old fast, and then trying to get to sleep isn't always possible before the alarm goes off a few hours later). Or maybe it's because I prayed SO hard that Jay's recovery would be farther than it is today. Also, a doctor's voice keeps playing in my head when he said that the first two years post injury is when you get the most return back, and sometimes it stops after two years. But we are NOT going to let that doctor's voice deter us from continuing therapies and we WILL continue to PRAY to the Great Physician for a complete recovery!!

I'll try not to sound like a broken record when I say that Jay continues to work hard at therapy. At Next Steps Jay continue to work on his core muscles. A few weeks ago Jay started to stand with his trainer sitting in front of him with their knees touching, his trainer's hands holding lightly to Jay's waist and Jay's hands resting on his shoulders. This is quite an accomplishment for his legs to bear the weight on his body and his core muscles strong enough to keep his body straight!! Now once a week they try to beat his time from the previous week. I think his personal best has been four minutes!!

Aquatic therapy, too, continues to go well, some days better than others. He continues to move his legs in a walking pattern with his therapist holding his upper body up.

So in closing, thank you for your continued prayers, cards, and kindness as they are greatly appreciated.

Still praying for a miracle,
Sharon

Sunday, July 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM
The last few weeks Jay has been working hard in PT on his core muscles and this week we saw the results!

In aquatic therapy, Jay has been practicing standing. In weeks past the therapist would try to keep his feet standing on the bottom (vs. floating away), his knees locked and his chest from falling forward thus preventing Jay from falling head first into the water. Well, this past week the therapist was gently holding Jay at his waist as he stood straight and tall in the water! This is quite an accomplishment as his muscles in his legs are bearing the weight of his entire body and his trunk muscles are keeping the rest of his body erect. It was only for a minute or two but the even the therapist was excited for Jay in his accomplishment!

At NextSteps Jay has not been training with his braces but working on the mats on various muscle groups in his upper body. When he did work with his braces in the past, however, Jay would struggle to keep his upper body straight putting a lot strain on his arms. This week, Jay stood from a sitting position with his knees locked and his upper body straight while holding onto the parallel bars. He was able to do this several times!

PRAISE GOD!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Wow, I can't believe it has been so long since our last post!

Lots has been happening in the Iwema household last month. Two of our sons graduated from college. Matt from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Brian from Moraine Valley Community College. (Brian will be transferring to Lipcomb University In Nashville, TN in the fall.) After graduation, we helped Matt move to Indianapolis where he will begin his career as a Manufacturing Cyber Security Analyst with Eli Lilly and Company on June 17. And we helped our 17-year-old son, Tom, make some MAJOR purchases for his maintenance company.

While this has all been quite exciting and life changing for our family, the news about Jay has not been so eventful. Although he continues with his therapies, progress still seems so slow. Jay's physical therapy has been concentrated on his core and trunk muscles.

Last month we also saw a neurologist for the first time. He suggested that Jay wean himself off one of his muscle relaxing medications. We are all for it since it is very hard on his organs, especially his liver. He also suggested some things we could try and we still aren't sure if we are going to try them.

Last week he had his checkup with our family doctor and tomorrow it's off to the urologist.

We continue to covet your prayers for healing and patience. Progress these last few months have been slow and sometimes discouraging. We believe that in God's time Jay will be healed, and that God is the Great Physician!

Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Please pray for a miracle of healing on Jay's body. Not just that he will walk again, but everything else that has been affected from his accident will return to normal. Thank you.

Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 12:31 AM
One more thing. The therapist also questioned why Jay is having such a hard time lifting his right leg. She decided to measure his legs, and lo and behold, his right leg is one inch longer than his left! This COULD be the reason why is so hard for Jay to lift his right leg while putting all his weight on his left side! Jay stated that he never suffered from this before. Could it be a result of his fractured pelvis--he had two fractures in his pelvis resulting from his accident. Or, since both feet were fractured, could that be a the cause? In any case, this will have to be addressed with a lift in his shoe or something else and hopeful an improvement in his "walking" abilities.

Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:58 PM
After having three weeks off from aquatic therapy, it was back to our regular routine: three days of two hours each of physical therapy and one hour of aquatic therapy per week.

Aquatic therapy is going well. Jay has some days which are better than others. This week he took quite a few steps again. The therapist also commented on how she could feel the muscle strength of his legs while he was standing (weight bearing).

Jay had an GREAT day on Wednesday at physical therapy!! The last few weeks Jay has been training with his braces using a lift anchored to the ceiling. So if you can imagine, Jay has a lift helping him stand upright while he has his braces on which is keeping his legs straight. Then with a walker, the therapist helps him move his legs in a walking pattern while Jay is shifting his weight from one side to the other. Now for the exciting part....On Wednesday, Jay was lifting his legs WITHOUT the help of the therapist walking across the room and back again!! The best way I can visualize it for you is that Jay looks like one of the North Korean soldiers seen on TV recently doing to goose step!!

Thanking God for His blessings,
Sharon

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Sorry for the delay since the last post.

Jay saw his urologist a few weeks ago, we finally got rid of the UTI after trying three different prescriptions! His spinal cord doctor put him on an additional muscle relaxer medication that was supposed to help with the criss-crossing of his legs during pool therapy. (His therapist seems to be spending most of the time trying to keep his legs from crossing since it interferes with his ability to "walk" across the width of the pool.) And also the "bad" tone in his legs. That is the stiffness that Jay experiences in his legs after sitting for a period of time--his legs become ridged and difficult to bend at the knee. Well, the medication is helping with the tone but not with the crossing of the legs, in addition, the medication is making him nauseated and tired.

In therapy, Jay has been walking with his braces using a walker with his trainer, who is on a small wheeled stool behind him, helping lift his legs. There are times that Jay is able to do it by himself, unfortunately, not as much as Jay wishes he could. This is very exhausting for him to hold his body in an upright position along with trying to lean on one side with all his weight and at the same time, lift his other leg and put it in front of him. Jay has also been on a machine called a Therastride. This machine is very similar to the Lokomat where he is harnessed and a machine moves his legs as he walks on a treadmill. On the Therastride, Jay has two separate trainers physically helping him move his legs as he walks the treadmill. This, too, is very exhausting for him AND his trainers!

Also, I don't know if I ever mentioned this before. At NextSteps they have Jay on a mat on his back with a leg from the thigh down dangling off the side of the mat. The trainer then asks Jay to raise that leg. Jay is able to raise his right leg about 5 times out of 8 and his left about 3 or 4 times! This is quite exciting to see some of the muscles moving at his command. This week Jay is also scheduled for an evaluation at NextSteps. We haven't had pool therapy for a few weeks now due to mechanical problems with their pool.

Please pray with us for a good evaluation with a significant increase in Jay's muscle strength. It is hard to believe that this summer it will be two years since his accident. Sometimes it seems that his improvements are so small that there's none at all, and it can be discouraging.

Praying for a miracle......Sharon

Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 11:40 PM
So sorry that it has been so long since our last update. Jay continues his physical therapy three times each week along with aquatic therapy. Unfortunately for one reason or another Jay has not had his usual trainer at NextSteps. Although all of the trainers are all excellent, Jim pushes Jay extremely hard, (too hard sometimes if you ask Jay) and seems to get the best results. In aquatic therapy, Jay has times when his right foot seems to take more steps than his left and the next week the left foot moves more easily. Don't get me wrong, we are excited about the progress he is making, just confused why some weeks the leg works well and the next week it barely budges. I know sometimes aquatic therapy can be quite frustrating for Jay.

In the next two weeks, we have two doctor appointments. Next week we have one with the urologist as we try to find out why Jay has been reoccurring UTIs and incontinence problems.

Please pray with us for answers to these urological problems and endurance for Jay at his therapies.

Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Our family's devotional yesterday was based on Psalm 66:16, "Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me." The writer of the devotional wrote "make sure you tell about God's presence in your life and about his amazing grace in the midst of trials." Well, I would like to tell (or maybe SHOUT!) what God has done for our family yesterday (Wednesday).

As many of you know, Jay has been taking aquatic therapy for about three months now on Wednesday mornings at Elim Christian School. The last three weeks he has been taking a few steps in the water. Yesterday morning, he made steps only with his left foot, yet they were steps!! Then in the afternoon, we went for physical therapy. In recent weeks Jay has been able to stand with his braces with the help of his trainer between parallel bars. Then again, with the help of his trainer, he has been able to move his legs in a walking pattern while holding onto the bars. Yesterday his trainer asked Jay to stand up by himself without his braces between the parallel bars, then Jim challenged him to take a step--AND HE DID!! JAY NOT ONLY GOT UP FROM A SITTING POSITION BUT HE ALSO TOOK HIS FIRST STEP IN 18 MONTHS!! (February 4 will be 18 months since his accident.)

Now I didn't ask Jim why he didn't take out the braces yesterday, or why he challenged Jay, all I can say that it was a "God thing". God at the particular moment decided to prove that even in modern times miracles do happen. Some may say it was all the hard work that Jay has been putting in at therapy or the medication that he's been taking, or the training of the physical therapists, or the modern medical equipment. Or why was that particular devotion written for January 30, the same day this happened? A coincidence, NO WAY! Our God is AWESOME, he answers prayers and still performs miracles!!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Jay took more steps in Aquatic Therapy!

Although they were not "as pretty" as the first time because of a lot of spasms, still he was able to make them -- Praise God!!

These past few weeks have proven to be quite challenging for Jay at NextSteps as he has been working on "walking" forward and backwards with his KAFOs (braces) between the parallel bars. As I stated before, it requires a great deal of upper body and arm strength. Also, after sitting in his wheelchair for almost 18 months now (February 4 it will be 18 months since his accident) his neck and back muscles are weak and propelling him to lean forward making it all the more difficult to lift his one leg up and forward while putting his weight on the other leg.

Prayers are requested as we are again dealing with incontinence at night. Please pray for the function to return to his bladder and bowels along with the strength, endurance, and continued progress in Jay's therapies. Thank you.

Love, Sharon

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 10:16 PM
We hope you had a blessed holiday season. Ours was quite enjoyable and relaxing.

We didn't have aquatic therapy for two weeks because Elim Christian School (where we have therapy) was closed for Christmas vacation. So this Monday at 8:00 am, it was back to the pool, and what a GREAT session it was!

I told you previously that one thing Jay does in therapy is float on his back with his knees bent and his feet against the wall. The therapist has mentioned on occasion that she could feel some muscle movement in Jay's legs, although it is very weak. On Monday she called me over (I usually sit off to the side as to not distract Jay). Well, this time when she called me over and asked if I could see his quad muscle near the top of his knee move. She said she could SEE AND FEEL the muscle moving on command!!

And that's not all.....

Later during the session, she asked Jay to "walk" across the pool like she had many times before. This time, however, with Jay using his hip flexors, he lifted his left leg 3 times and his right  2 times!! JAY TOOK 5 STEPS ALL BY HIMSELF!!

Now I don't know all the fundamentals or the science of the buoyancy of water, or why it is easier for spinal cord patients to walk in water verses on land--but I do know a MIRACLE when I see one! GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS!!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the prayers. GOD HEARS OUR PRAYERS AND ANSWERS THEM!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 9:55 PM
I want to share some GREAT news.

When Jay had his accident in August, 2011, he was paralyzed from the armpits down, meaning he had no voluntary movement below his armpits. The American Spinal Injury Association has a classification test that tests key muscles for motor and key sensory points for sensory. The motor testing for his upper limbs have a scoring of 0 - 5 with 5 being normal. 14 months ago (the last time he had this test) he had 4's and 5's, NOW HE HAS ALL 5's!!

The sensory has a scoring of 0 - 2, 2 being normal. 14 months ago he had 2's from the neck to the armpits (normal). Then from his armpits to the top of his thighs, 1's. These two regions stayed the same. Then from the top of his thighs to his toes he had 0's, NOW HE HAS 1's. Meaning before if his was pricked with a pin with his eyes closed he couldn't feel it, now he feels it but can't feel the difference if it is a sharp or dull prick.

Also on the impairment scale there's a scoring of A - E, E being normal. 14 months ago Jay was A, a complete spinal cord injury, NOW HE IS A C, HE WENT UP TWO COMPLETE LEVELS!!

Now since every spinal cord injury is different, the doctor said that this could be all the return he could ever get. But he also said that your sensory comes back before motor, so it is possible with the increase of his sensory, his motor (voluntary muscle movement) will increase as well. He also said "Jay, you're half way there!!"

PRAISE GOD!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Jay will be seeing his spinal cord doctor on Thursday, December 20, for a RE-eval. Jay hasn't seen this doctor since his discharge from MarianJoy in October, 2011. Please pray for noticeable healing his Jay's body.

Monday, December 10, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Dear family and friends, let me start off by apologizing.

First, Jay's website apparently got hacked making you unable to access Jay's blog and possibly infecting your computer as well. For that I am EXTREMELY sorry! Thankfully our son, Matt, put his education in software engineering to work and was able to get us up and running. THANKS MATT!!

Second, I apologize for the long delay since the last post. Thanksgiving Day came and went and I never posted our thankfulness to you for your continued love and support for our family. We have a lot to be thankful for and one of them is the prayers, cards, and generosity of our family and friends. THANK YOU!

The big news around here is that Jay finally received his KAFOs (braces)! Although they are a little big they are good enough to wear for now. He did, however, get remeasured for a new set. The braces encompass his foot and is worn inside his shoe and goes up his entire leg to the top of his thigh. There is a locking mechanism by his knee that keeps his leg straight or it can be unlocked if he wants to sit. Last Wednesday, Jay started training with them. Using his upper body strength, Jay can stand between parallel bars and using his hips he is able to shift his weight from side to side and swing his legs while his trainer kicks his foot to create a walking stride. This requires a great deal of strength for Jay to do this and he has come home exhausted after the last two sessions of therapy.

Still praying for a miracle,
Sharon

Monday, November 12, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Let me first start off with a BIG thank you to some great friends--Rick, Ken and Bill--who over the past several weeks helped bring Jay to his therapies and various other appointments. Rick and Ken have taken Jay to his therapies on Friday mornings so I could spend more time at my job as janitor at our church. Bill, came to our rescue last week when we experienced mechanical failure in the lift in our van. Both Bill and myself were able to get Jay into Bill's van even though at times it was quite difficult (and comical, too) as we tried to bend Jay legs that were determined to stick out as straight as boards!

Now for the update. We continue aquatic therapy on Fridays although we did have to miss two sessions because of van troubles.

At Next Steps Jay has been working on standing up straight with his arms holding his body erect using parallel bars. This is done with his trainer holding is feet so they do not move from underneath him. This is quite a HUGE challenge for Jay as it requires great upper body strength as the muscles in his legs do not work to support his body. HOWEVER, last week his trainer did comment that he could feel some muscle support in the back of his thighs although they are very weak! Praise God, as we are noticing small hints of God's healing in Jay body!!

We are still waiting for the results of Jay's RE-evaluation that was recently performed at Next Steps, hopefully we will find out this week. Also, his braces are also supposed to be ready this week.

Last week we also had a checkup with Jay's doctor were it was found that he has another UTI as well as the sores on his elbows which seems to be pressure ulcers from trying to hold himself up in the standing frame at home. They are scabbed over so we just have to keep an eye on them so they don't open up or get infected.

That's it for now. Thank you so much for your prayers for Jay and our family.

--Sharon

Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Here's the news for this week.

Jay got casted for his braces two weeks ago and we FINALLY got the prescription from the doctor. Actually it was from our family doctor. We have a spinal cord doctor who is tops in her field but unfortunately she does not seems to be "on the same page" as we are. She keeps on stressing independence for Jay while we think the main objective for Jay is recovery. With that being said, I think we will be looking for a new doctor, however, with our insurance plan there is not too many to choose from.

Aquatic therapy is going well. Last week the therapist mentioned that she could feel both the right and left gluton (butt muscles) contracting when she asked Jay to "walk" across the pool.

Pool therapy seems to be quite strenuous for Jay, more so than regular physical therapy at Next Steps. Please pray for Jay that he will have the strength and endurance that he needs!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 10:20 PM
PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!

Only good/great news to report this week!!

UTI - gone! Jay was prescribe some powerful medicine with some severe side effects and he was not effected at all!

Trouble with incontinence - gone! Thanks to a new prescription!

Leg braces - PROMISED this week will be the week for the fittings!

Physical Therapy - volunteers have stepped forward to drive Jay so I have more time to get done what needs to get done (ie. get the church cleaned without spending my whole Saturday there)!

Aquatic Therapy - On Friday, Jay was asked to walk across the width of the pool. Because he was unable to do it, the therapist moved his legs/feet for him. She asked him to concentrate doing his best to have his mind tell them to move. The therapist mentioned although there was no leg movement, she could feel the gluteal muscles (butt) on the right side tighten. Although it was not really the correct response, there was a signal from the brain via the spinal cord telling the butt muscles to move!

Thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 10:44 PM
This week was an eventful one--both good and not-so-good.

The good news first. On Friday Jay started aquatic therapy. it took us over three months to get this therapy started and although I was happy to see Jay in the pool, it was kind of upsetting for me as it showed how useless (maybe not really the correct term) his legs are. Reality set in as Jay was in four feet of water unable to keep his legs underneath him.

Now for the not-so-good news. On Wednesday Jay was supposed to get fitted for his braces, however, we are still waiting for our doctor's prescription, they will not even start the casting until they get it.

Also, Jay came down with a UTI. Although this in not uncommon for someone who caths on a regular basis, it's his first one. Unfortunately the medication reacts with his blood thinning medicine so we have to be aware of some serious side effects.

Well, that was our week, still praying for a miracle......

Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Well, we finally will be able to start Aquatic Therapy this week Friday! For now it will only be once a week.

As far as therapy at Next Steps, we are only doing two days a week because of my work schedule. Our church, however, is trying to get some "drivers" together to help bring Jay to therapy on a third day, which we believe will be most beneficial to him.

Also, this week Jay will finally be fitted for the braces we have been talking about since July.

So lots to be thankful for this week!

Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 10:52 PM
I know it has been quite a while since our last update. Sorry.

Jay continues to have his therapy sessions at NextSteps, however, with school starting next week it means back to work for me. Which in turn means less free time for me to take Jay to therapy, so unfortunately we will have to go back to two days a week instead of the three we had during the summer months.

Jay continues his efforts to strengthen his core, arms, and various other muscles. I don't remember if I stated this earlier but it was mentioned by one the trainers at NextSteps that he could FEEL muscle movement in one of his thighs! AN ANSWER TO OUR PRAYERS! Although it is not visible to our eyes, it is a start and hopefully more movement will be felt and SEEN!

In regards to his incontinence problem, a prescription was given to Jay, unfortunately it did not work and had some unfavorable side effects so the urologist is trying to come up with a different medication.

Unfortunately we are still trying to work out aquatic therapy.

Praise God for answered prayers!

Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 9:02 PM
Yesterday, August 4, marked the one year anniversary of Jay's accident. As I am writing this, I'm trying to think of the emotions that I am feeling TODAY. Let me say, first of all, just because I may not be feeling that emotion TODAY does not mean that I have not felt it in the past!

So....Am I mad at Jay, thinking he could have been more careful? Maybe he could have done something different, secured the plank better or something else so that the plank would not have moved and caused the accident? NO. Am I mad at God for allowing this to happened to our family? NO. Am I sad that our family's lives are forever changed? MAYBE. Am I thankful to our families and the Christian community that supported us in every way possible this past year? YES. Thankful for the men of Calvin CRC (and other churches, too) who renovated our house in order for us to stay in our home so Jay could move so much easier in it, and to the women who cleaned the mess afterwards? YES. Thankful for the friends and acquaintances who were able to find a wheelchair for Jay and a van that would accommodate him and his wheelchair? YES. Thankful for the friends who organized the fundraiser and the countless number of people who attended and contributed so generously? YES. Thankful for the medical staff and medical facilities, the four different hospitals and the three rehabilitation facilities? YES. To the visitors who visited Jay in the hospitals and rehabs and comforted our family when things seemed overwhelming? YES. Thankful for the visitors who we never met before but somehow through the "Dutch grapevine" knew we needed their comfort and prayers? YES. Thankful for the many cards, meals, and prayers? YES.

Do I believe the worse is behind us? YES. Do I believe that God has a plan for our lives, maybe down a path that we would not have chosen for ourselves? YES.  Do I believe in miracles, that God can heal Jay, that he will again walk someday? YES. Do I believe that if God's answer is "no" that if it is His will that Jay will never walk again, that God is still there for us holding us up, comforting us? YES!

So as emotions go, no, I'm not mad; yes, a little sad; but mostly thankful for the MANY blessings, we as a family experienced this year.

THANK YOU to all you, from the bottom of my heart!
Sharon

Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Just wanted you to know the results of the test at the urologist last week. Everything tested out fine. The doctor believes Jay's bladder muscles are coming back, however, since the other muscles needed for him to void on his own have not come back yet, he will continue to have "accidents". Please pray with us that Jay's body will continue to heal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 10:16 PM
It's been a while so I thought I should share an update with you. The therapists continue to push Jay (in a good way, of course) at NextSteps. Jay's continues to work on his trunk muscles, all which are needed to be strong in order for him to walk. His time in the LoCoMat averages an hour, a great accomplishment in itself!

We are continuing our search for a place where Jay can have aquatic therapy. Some places require movement in his legs and others are quite expensive. (Since we have spent our allotted insurance money for physical therapy according to our policy, all therapy from now on is self-pay.)

On Thursday, Jay has an appointment with his urologist. We are hoping to find answers to his incontinence as a urodynamic test is scheduled.

So "prayer warriors" we covet your prayers as Jay continues his therapy, looks for a pool in which  to start aquatic therapy, and good results from the test performed at the urologist this week. Also, as we rapidly approach the first year anniversary of his accident, a prayer of thanks for how far Jay has come in his recovery.

Monday, July 2, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Last week had it's ups and downs.

Jay and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary last week. Now don't get me wrong, being married to Jay is a GOOD thing but it made me think back to last year when we celebrated our 25th. We celebrated our 25th with our first night together without the kids since Matt was born 22 years ago! Instead of going to Hawaii or some exotic place, we decided to go to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. There we hiked the trails, going through canyons and climbing some rough terrain, and canoeing. Now that all seems like a distant memory, hard to believe it was only one year ago.

Now for the good news. Last week, Jay had his first re-eval at NextSteps. The therapist was pleased with the progress Jay was making. She suggested changes in his medication along with additional exercises to do at home.

In addition, she said that in the next few weeks Jay will be fitted for leg braces. Even though Jay still has no voluntary movement in his legs, with the help of the braces and a walker, Jay will be able to "walk"! This means Jay will be able to sit in regular chairs, visit friends in their homes, and other places that limited him because he was sitting in a wheelchair! It also means that Jay has to work very hard to strengthen his core muscles, arms, and wrists as this "walking" will require a large amount of energy and a strong body.

So again, we are requesting prayers for Jay. Prayers not only for strength and endurance in his therapy sessions but also that his body responds appropriately.

Love, the Iwemas

Tuesday, June 27, 2012 at 11:21 PM
I apologize for long time between posts, I thought since I wasn't working at school I would have more time to post.

Jay is currently doing three days a week at NextSteps and working extremely hard. Last week he found out the hard way that you have to wear long pants even if it is 90 degrees! Instead of going on the LocoMat (little did we know that long pants are a MUST) his trainer attached a 20 plus long cast iron linked chain to the back of his manual wheelchair. I'm not sure how much the chain weighs, but Jay had to propel himself, his chair and chain out the front door, up the ramp, and down the sidewalk and driveway. He returned about 30 minutes later when we noticed that his tires were almost completely flat! Can you imagine the workout his arms had that day?!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Well, today marks the 10-month anniversary of Jay's accident.

Jay continues his therapy at Next Steps, currently he is going two days a week but now that school is out, and I have more free time, we are trying to add an extra day. They continue to work him hard and he is up for the challenge. He really enjoys the Loco-Mat were Jay is "walking" on a treadmill with the help of braces and a computer. The computer can actually show which muscles Jay is exerting and how much the computer is participating in order for him to walk. AMAZING!! Currently, he has been on it for 50 minutes or so a session. They are also stretching him and working his core muscles, all the muscles that are needed for him to walk.

We continue to do our own workouts at home. Jay has his exercises that he does while in his chair each day and I stretch and strengthen his legs and work on his hips each night. He also uses his Standing Frame each day (if his blood pressure is not too low). Tonight he stood for 2 hours!! As I stated before the more he stands the better. It helps with his bladder, bowels, and prevents osteoporosis. He also lays on our (my) bed on his stomach for about an hour a day to help with hip flexion. So, you can see Jay's day is quite full.

We hope to make an appointment with the urologist next week as we are still having a problem with incontinence. On the bright side, he gets the "urge to pee" unfortunately he cannot do it on his own yet.

Also in the next few weeks, we hope to have another "pin prick" test to see if Jay has any more return to his key motor muscles. He has not had the test since he left Marianjoy in Wheaton and we are quite anxious to find out any new results.

So as we reflect on the past 10 months, we are thankful to God for the grace we received as a family as we go through this. We know that although Jay had a serious accident and things are not like we would like them to be right now, it could have been a lot worse. We have received so much support from our family and friends, and to that we say "THANK YOU!"

Still praying for a miracle..........Sharon

Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 11:54 PM
This week Jay finished his second week at Next Steps. Each session consisted of a number of stretches and exercises to strengthen his core and back muscles and also the Loco-mat. Also, this Sunday, May 20, our church will include prayers for healing and laying on of hands for Jay. Please pray with us as we approach God's throne that healing may take place and that Jay can once again have movement in legs.

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 9:50 PM
On Thursday Jay had his first therapy at Next Steps. They were right when they said they work you hard! Jay worked muscles that he hasn't used in months, unfortunately these muscles are quite weak and will take a lot of effort to get them to where they have it be.

We decided to cancel our appointment this week for the trial run with the Baclafen pump. We thought it was more important to start Jay's therapy now. If he had the pump surgically implanted that would push his start date with Next Step back a few weeks. We can always do it at a later date.

Friday, April 27, 2012 at 12:12 AM
The evaluation at Nextsteps went quite well. The therapist and trainer that Jay will be working with had him bending and stretching in every direction. They were quite impressed with how strong Jay was! Our first day of therapy will next Thursday and Jay is so looking forward to it. they warned him that they will be working him hard and on some days he will be complaining of sore muscles!

We also went to see the urologist on Wednesday. The doctor suggested that we take the "wait and see" attitude. The doctor still believes the reason for Jay's incontinence is that his bladder function is starting to return and he does not want to prescribe any medication right now that may stop any return that is now getting. Our next appointment will be next month and at that time we will see if there is any improvement, if not, Jay will have to have some tests done.

On Friday, Jay will finally be getting his manual wheelchair that we ordered back in October and Saturday we will be going to some seminars regarding spinal cord injuries downtown. Hopefully we will learn a lot!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Well, we believe we found the place for Jay to continue his therapies! Last week we visited Next Steps Rehab in Willow Springs. Although the facility is not that large, it has the same state-of-the-art equipment that can be found in larger facilities such as RIC. We were quite impressed and saw many other patients who have similar injuries as Jay working the machines. Many of them gave high marks to Next Steps and shared how the facility has helped them on their journeys. They shared how they have been slowly getting movement in their legs, giving us great hope that some day Jay may experience that too. We have our evaluation on Wednesday (April 25) and hopefully will start in early May. Tentatively we will have therapy on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday mornings from 10:00 - 12:00.

Also, on Wednesday we have our appointment with the urologist. Hopefully, some of our questions to Jay's problems will be answered.

Two weeks ago, we purchased a standing frame for our home. So far the longest Jay has been STANDING is 40 minutes. Unfortunately when his blood pressure drops to the low 90's and we have to take him down which sometimes can be after only 15 minutes. But all in all, it is quite easy to operate and we have been trying to get in it every day to help strengthen his legs, back muscles, etc. Also by using the standing frame it supposed to help prevent osteoporosis and help the bladder and bowels as well.

Next week it will be 9 months since Jay's accident. We continue to feel God's hand holding us tightly as well as the prayers, love and concern of our family and friends. Thank you.

Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 3:27 PM
Jay was discharged from Marianjoy on March 30, since then, we have been contemplating his next step. Although the therapists at Marianjoy think the next step for Jay would be "Home Health" his doctor (not affiliated with Marianjoy) and we agree, he needs more. We have been checking different facilities but have yet to come up with a "good fit" for Jay.

Also on May 9, Jay is scheduled for a procedure where the medication that Jay is currently taking orally for muscle spasms will be directly dispensed into his spinal cord. If all goes well, he will have surgery to insert a pump into his stomach area which in turn will dispense the liquid medicine at the correct dosages throughout the day. Not only will the dosage be significantly lower, the side effects will also be brought to a minimum.

Lastly, we are still dealing with incontinence. Next week we are scheduled to meet with the urologist again.

Again, thank for all the love and concern we have felt over these last 8 months. Praying for a miracle..........Sharon

Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I wanted to share some "possible" good news with you today. Jay went to see a urologist today for his problem with incontinence. The doctor believes that Jay may be getting some bladder muscle control back. Unfortunately he needs other muscles to work in order for him to urinate on his own. Please pray that the doctor is right and that Jay may soon have control over his bladder.

Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 11:58 PM
On Friday, it was decided by Marianjoy that they will release Jay from outpatient therapy this Friday, March 30. It was suggested that we look into Home Health Care for Jay, which means a physical and occupational therapist will come to our home. Both Jay and I are not sure if this is the route we want to take at this time. Please pray for direction for us as we make a decision as to the next step for Jay in his therapy.

Also this week, Wednesday, we will be going to see a urologist to determine why Jay is experiencing incontinence at this time.

We'll keep you posted on the outcomes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Dear Friends: It has been quite a while since the last update. The past weeks has sure had its ups and downs. The "up" is that Jay is still at Marianjoy doing therapies until the end of the month. In fact, two weeks ago he was in the standing frame for 80 minutes!! A new record!! We are looking into the next "transition" of Jay's recovery (home health), checking what the insurance will cover, Jay's immediate needs, etc. I honestly thought that he wouldn't be discharged from Marianjoy so quickly and it makes me upset at times but then I know that God has this all under His control and this will all work out with God's leading.

One of the "downs" (if you want to call it that) is that Jay's finger that we spent several weeks in therapy is slowly regressing to what it was before the therapies. He is now getting it to bend ever so slightly. He continues to do the finger therapies every day but it just doesn't seem to help any more.

Another "down" is that for one reason or another Jay is voiding (urinating) more and more to the point of excessive. There were times when I would be cathing him every two hours at night and he still would be wetting the bed. Before we would cath about 6 times a day and he was good, no accidents, and no need for a diaper. He went to the doctor last week for blood work and a urinalysis and everything is fine. We also went to the hospital for an ultrasound of his kidneys and they checked out fine too. Jay made an appointment with an urologist today but we can't get in until April 10. I plan to call our family doctor tomorrow and see if he can "talk" to the doctor to get us in sooner.

Also, since Jay's muscle relaxer medicine has been increased the beginning of the month, Jay has been feeling sleepy and nauseous every day. He says he can't live this way any more feeling the way he does. We have been in contact with the doctor to possibly change his medication.

So that's a little bit of what we have been dealing with lately. Please pray for Jay as I feel that these past weeks we have been taking steps back in his recovery instead of moving forward.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 12:09 AM
This past week we saw Jay's surgeon who inserted the rods in Jay's neck and back. After a short visit, it was decided it was going to be Jay's last visit unless it was medically necessary. Great news, one less doctor to see on a regular basis! It was also discussed the possibility of surgically inserting a baclofin pump under Jay's skin by his navel with a line running to his back to his spinal cord. This pump (the size of a hockey puck) would be filled with the muscle relaxer medicine and would be periodically dispensed through the line into his spine to help better control his spasms. Something to think about.

We also returned to 3 days a week for OT and PT at Marianjoy--Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Jay continues to work hard on his back muscles, standing frame and rolling to his stomach. It was suggested by his doctor to lay 20 minutes a day on his stomach to help stretch out his muscles and help elevate some of the spasms. In fact, we took our mattress off the frame of our bed at home so Jay could use his slide board to the bed. It is kind of weird sleeping at night on it, being so low to the ground. Jay continues to make progress in the standing frame. He usually averages between 20 and 30 minutes and then has to return to his chair because of falling blood pressure. On Friday he stood for 50 minutes! He could have stayed in it longer, however, but he had to return to his chair because we had a re-evaluation with the therapists and doctor at Marianjoy. In fact, when I arrived a little early for the re-eval, I couldn't find him in his usual spot with his therapist. I then went downstairs and couldn't find him there either. His other therapist was pointing to as spot in the room, I still couldn't find him. Finally I did! Here he was STANDING in the standing frame and I was looking for him SITTING in his wheelchair!! It was the first time I saw him standing in nearly 7 months! WHAT A GREAT SURPRISE!! Our re-evaluation went well. In fact, it was mentioned that Jay may be discharged at the end of March from Marianjoy. I'm not really sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I'm proud of Jay and how far he has come in the last 7 months (it was 7 months since his accident on Sunday) but yet it seems, on the other hand, he has such a long way to go. I'm concerned that with home healthcare, Jay will not advance/improve as quickly in a home setting. So I am praying, and I hope you will too, that Jay will show some sort of movement in his legs or feet in the next 2 weeks that will make it necessary for him to continue his therapy in the Marianjoy facility. Please pray with me, pray for the complete healing in Jay's body.

--Sharon

Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 3:35 PM
Finally, I have some time to post an update!! Sorry it hasn't been sooner. Jay continues to work hard in therapy. On Tuesday he stood in the standing frame for 17 minutes before his blood pressure started to drop. They continue to work on his trunk muscles and back muscles. His back muscles are very weak from sitting in the wheelchair and needs to be strengthened in order to stand longer in the standing frame and to hold himself up to walk or even to attempt the parallel bars.

We were told that in order to do the parallel bars, there has to be some movement in his legs (even the slightest). PLEASE PRAY THAT THIS HAPPENS SOON. It seems to me that we hit a plateau right now and it can be a little depressing at times. Also prayers are requested that Jay regains his bodily functions, too. At times he says he feels as if his bladder is full, but if he could "go" on his own what a great thing that would be!! We also have requested that the doctor increase his muscle relaxer medicine. It has been increased a few weeks ago but the spasms are still quite severe and he legs become so rigid that it is hard to bend the knees so he can sit properly in his chair--another prayer request.

We have another re-evaluation at Marianjoy on Friday, hopefully I will find the time to post with the information sooner better than later.

Again, sorry it has taken me so long post this.

Monday, February 6, 2012 at 1:35 AM
Well, our busy week of doctor visits are over.

On Monday, Jay saw the doctor who put his dislocated index finger back together. It was decided that surgery was not advisable to remove any scar tissue that is in the finger preventing it to bend completely in order for Jay to make a tight fist. Even with surgery, there is no guarantee that it would bend any further than it is now. Although finger therapy is helping bring down the finger a little bit, it is ultimately our decision if we want to continue. Jay does do finger exercises at home so the decision is whether he could get the same results with only those exercises. Since our insurance policy only covers a small amount of outpatient therapy, it was decided to discontinue the outpatient hand therapy and, therefore, having more insurance money to cover the other therapies.

On Thursday, we saw a new spinal cord specialist who works out of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago. The best word I can use to describe her is "feisty" and I mean it in a good way!! In her own words she describes herself as opinionated but will listen to what you say. She will tell you what she thinks, even though you may not like it. She doesn't believe in appointments "just to say hi", she believes it wastes your time and hers and money. If we have any questions for her, we can call or email her anytime. With that being said, she changed some of the dosages of Jay's prescriptions and eliminated some. She also suggested that Jay ask his therapists to do some different things in therapy and set some different goals. We were hoping she would do the "pin prick test" to see if Jay has regained any more movement/feeling but she did not do it. The hour and half that we spent in the examining room flew by quickly as she had just as many questions for us and we had for her. She did say, however, that with the surgeries in both his neck and back made Jay's situation and recovery kind of unique. Also, she believes Jay is an INCOMPLETE paraplegic vs. a complete like they said in the hospital. You see, they rate spinal cord injuries as either complete or incomplete. If there are not any voluntary movement (spasms don't count) and no feeling below your spinal cord injury level, you have a complete. If you have some voluntary movement below your injury you have an incomplete injury. That means there is only partial damage to the spinal cord and some nerve fibers are still working across the spinal cord injury site. And, therefore, a better chance of recovery. Good news indeed!!

Also on Friday, at therapy Jay stood for the first time in six months with the aid of a standing frame!! A standing frame is an L-shaped frame that hoists you up by your butt to a standing position with support for your feet and knees with a tray in front. Jay stood first for 10 minutes and then again for 12 without any ill affects!!

Saturday marked the 6-month anniversary of Jay's accident. We have seen some great improvement in the past 6 months and with your prayers (that we covet so much) we continue to pray for the healing of Jay's body.

Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 4:52 PM
Just a quick update my friends. We have a busy week planned ahead of us. On Monday, Jay has an appointment with his doctor that reset his dislocated index finger. After 8 weeks of hand therapy it will be decided if we should continue or not. Jay has made some progress but not as much as we had hoped. It is a possibility that the reason the fingers are not responding is that it's nerve damage from the accident. In that case, therapy will not correct it. We'll see what the doctor says.

On Thursday, we will be going to see the spinal cord specialist that we have been waiting for months to see. We are praying that she will find improvement in Jay's body regarding his paralysis. Not only that, but that she will point us in the right direction on how we can better deal with it. Jay and I are open to anything that will help in his recovery.

Please pray with us that God will give the doctors the necessary knowledge and skills to treat Jay.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Well, we WERE counting the days until Jay's appointment with the spinal cord specialist that we made in early December. It was going to be in two days--this Thursday. Today the office called and the doctor cancelled because of an "emergency" that came up. So......we are rescheduled for February 2. FRUSTRATING!!

So "Prayer Warriors" we have a new date, continue to pray Jay. His dosage for his muscle relaxers has been doubled by his family doctor because increase spasms in his back and legs causing difficult sleeping sometimes and his legs don't want to stay on the foot rests of his wheelchair. On the positive note--he's wearing shoes!! We finally found shoes that fit his swollen feet. Thank you, Matt, for leaving your 8th grade basketball shoes behind--size 14 fits great!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 9:05 PM
It's hard to believe that another month has past since Jay's accident. Today marks the five-month anniversary.

Not too much new to report. Jay continues his therapies--2 days of hand therapy and 2 days of occupational/physical therapy a week. Last week we had an re-evaluation of Jay's progress at Hand Therapy, thank you to our son Brian who took Jay (I was sick home sick with the flu). I'm told they took measurements of the movement of Jay's index fingers, each showed progress being made so we will continue for another four weeks. They added additional exercises at home as well.

Because of the holidays, the re-evaluation at Marianjoy has been cancelled AGAIN. It is tentatively set for this Friday, AGAIN.

In previous posts I mentioned that we were looking for a spinal cord specialist, well, we found one!! On January 19 we have an appointment with a doctor who works at Weiss Hospital. Please pray with us as we look for answers to our many questions and new ways to fight this paralysis. We also pray that any tests they perform on Jay will show increased movement to his paralyzed body.

Friday, December 23, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Boy, I don't know if it's because we are getting older but the days are going faster, or, it is because "time flies when you're having fun"? In any case, I can't believe the number of days that went by since I last updated. SORRY. Jay continues to have his four days of therapies each week and continues his exercises at home as well.

Last week, we went for a checkup at the wound clinic for the blister on his heel. Thanks to the special TLC Jay receives every day from Dorothy Kamp, who continues to clean and re-bandage his heel, the blister is almost completely healed! In fact, no further appointments at the wound clinic are needed unless we run into another problem.

Jay's swelling in his legs have gone down considerably although they are not the skinny twigs we were accustomed to before the accident. They do, however, show the shape and contours of a leg vs. the heavy tree trunks he had just a few months ago. I was told at Marianjoy that when someone has a spinal cord injury their legs will always have some swelling. What I am concerned with are his feet. Although his toes are not "like sausages" any more, the feet are still quite swollen. I don't know if it because of the fractures or what (a question for the doctor the next time we see him). In fact, I bought Jay a pair of shoes one size larger but was still unable to get them on. I guess we'll have to go to a shoe store that carries extra wide widths.

This Friday, December 23, Jay was supposed to have an evaluation at Marianjoy but it was cancelled and next week we have one with the Hand Therapist, I will keep you posted on the results of each one.

In the meantime, a blessed Christmas and New Year to you all dear friends and family. As we reflect on the passing year, our family will be thanking God for the progress Jay has made so far and thanking God for each one of you. The love and kindness we have received from you are beyond words!! THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 5, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Well, Sunday marked the four month "anniversary" of Jay's fall. In some ways it seems not that long ago and other ways, longer; you know what I mean.

Jay continues his therapy on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings at Marianjoy. They continue to work on strengthening his trunk muscles and transfers. This past week we also had a doctor visit, an evaluation, and started a new therapy. On Wednesday morning we met with our family doctor for a checkup. We found that his hemoglobin is now at 11.1 (the average range should be 12 - 16). This is GREAT news! Also, twice a week Jay's blood is checked since he is in on blood thinners (INR level). Here, too, Jay has fallen nicely into the normal range with 2.2 (a range of 2 -3 is normal). WE ARE DEFINITELY SEEING GOD'S HEALING HAND ON JAY! So now he will have blood draws only once a month instead of twice a week, which is great news to someone who is not too fond of needles! So all in all, we got a good report from the doctor and will not have another appointment until three months from now.

We also had a "family evaluation" at Marianjoy this past week to see what progress Jay is making and setting new goals from the next two weeks. The doctors and therapists said Jay is improving on his transfers but in the next two weeks they will work on using different tools to aid him to get dress by himself. While Jay can manage taking on and off his shirt, he is unable to put on his pants and shoes. With the use of different tools, this will aid him to become even more independent.

Also, we had a visit with a hand therapist at the recommendation of the doctor who set Jay's fractured finger. With all of Jay's surgeries, occupational and physical therapies, his finger was sometimes neglected. I don't know if I mentioned this before but Jay's left index finger was severely fractured and now when he tries to make a fist, that finger refuses to bend all the way down. His right index finger is somewhat the same way although it was not fractured. So, now at least for the next four weeks, Jay will be gong twice a week for therapy for 90 minutes on his fingers. That makes five days of morning therapy--I'm tired already thinking about it!

So yes, our days are filled with outpatient therapies, and exercises at home, but with God's grace and the strength that only He can provide, we are doing well.

We continue to ask for prayers of healing in Jay's body--the movement of his legs, the return of control of his bladder and bowels. At times I find myself getting anxious when I recall the doctors mentioning that at the 6 - 8 month "anniversary" you will see 60 to 80 percent of the expected return of function. We are currently looking for a neurologist who specializes in spinal cord injuries, so if any one know of one, please let us know.

Tonight (Sunday night) we enjoyed the Journey of Joy at Faith CRC. Although we don't go every year, this has been a somewhat family tradition for us. It was great to see some familiar faces and once again, Faith CRC did an excellent job. If you were unable to go this year, make it a point to go next year. It's just amazing the talent and creativity of the members of that church. To God be the glory!

Monday, November 21, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Hi! The days are just flying by and unfortunately everything I want to accomplish during the day is not getting done; writing this update is one of them! So please accept my apology that it has taken me SO long to write this. Last week, Jay went to the Wound Care Clinic at Little Company of Mary Hospital as a followup to the earlier emergency room visit. The doctor recheck Jay's heel and shared the ER's findings which showed it was not a bedsore at all but the blister had become infected. For you and me it would be a low grade infection but because Jay has poor circulation of blood from his legs to his heart, they want to keep a watchful eye on it, especially since it is located by his Achilles' Tendon. So, we will continue with his daily antibiotics for the 10 days it was prescribed and the daily changing of dressing and compression therapy. (A tightly wrapped bandage that produce pressure around the wound.) A BIG thank you to Dorothy Kamp who has come every day to help in this process.

Other than that not much new. Jay is continuing his therapies and we are settling into a routine that starts way too early in the morning and ends too late, in my opinion. Our mornings begin at 6:30 am and my nights sometimes don't end before 12:00 am. Jay still has to be repositioned and "cathed" at 1:00 am and 4:00 am, making the nights/early mornings all too short. I truly believe that because we are being lifted up in prayer by so many people that I am able to function each day with such little sleep. I must admit, however, that I have turned off or forgot to set the alarm twice already and has either missed a 1:00 am turning or overslept. So, yes, your prayers are being answered!! Also, Jay's swelling in his legs continue to go down--we now are seeing the curvature of his legs, they are no longer thick tree trunks although his toes still look like little sausages!!

With Thanksgiving Day only a few days away, you can be sure that we will be thanking God that the outcome of Jay's accident is as good as it is (it could have been a lot worse) and that he is doing so well. Also, we will be thanking God for you. Those of you who sent cards, meals, and prayed for us; visited Jay in the hospital and rehab, helped remodel our home (almost finished!) Those who volunteered at the prayer vigil and fundraiser, made donations, worked for me at school so I could visit Jay at Marianjoy in Wheaton, helped clean Calvin Church so Jay and I could spend more time together during the initial homecoming from rehab, and those who helped in so many other ways. We cannot thank God enough for you!! May God continue to bless you all and may peace fill your heart!!

Monday, November 14, 2011 at 12:55 AM
Wow, where did the week go? Jay and I are still reminiscing of the great time at the Fundraiser for Jay last Saturday, so many people, so many donations, so many memories....WE ARE BLESSED!! At last count, 500 people attended the dinner and donations exceeded $40,000 to help with Jay's ongoing medical expenses!! TRULY AMAZING!!

Therapies are continuing at Marianjoy in Palos Heights with some great therapists; we also recognize some familiar faces who are also there for therapy. We would like you to pray with us for Jay's Uncle Art Sluis who was discharged on November 5 from Providence (Rest Haven) after being there for a number of weeks after a broken hip. Unfortunately when Jay returned for therapy on Tuesday (November 8), Uncle Art had been readmitted after a fall in his home one day after being discharged. Thankfully, he was not hurt but it was decided that he should return for more therapy.

As I mentioned earlier, Jay was discharged from Marianjoy in Wheaton with a blister on his left heel due to his shoes being too tight because of the intense swelling in his legs. The nurses at that time told me to keep it clean and bandaged making sure it did not get any worse. Well, I am not well versed in medicine, and a bit squeamish when it comes to blood, but I knew something was not right. I tried to get into the Wound Clinic for an appointment only to get one a week down the road. On Friday, I had a doctor look at it at Rehab only for us to be told to go directly to the emergency room. After a six hour wait, we finally got in to see the emergency room doctor who wanted to admit Jay into the hospital due to a decubitus ulcer (the blister had turned into a bedsore). Jay did not want any part of another hospital stay. So, after an IV of antibiotics and a prescription for an oral antibiotic, we were finally home. A BIG THANK YOU to Dorothy Kamp (a great nurse and friend), who volunteered to come over daily to do the necessary washing of Jay's heel making sure that the infection does not get any worse until our appointment at the Wound Clinic. This way, Jay and the kids won't have to help me floor after I fainted at the sight of Jay's blood!!

So, please pray for Jay that the antibiotics will work and that no new bedsores will develop along with the decrease of involuntary muscle spasms. Still praying for a miracle!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Dear Friends and Family:

I apologize for the late post regarding the outcome of the Pray for Jay Fundraiser. I'm having a hard time putting my feelings into words. Such words as AWESOME and UNBELIEVABLE come to my mind. It was truly a God-Blessed event!! Over 400 people attended the spaghetti dinner which also included salad, fruit, rolls, beverages and dessert. Thanks for Val Huisenga (supper chair) it was delicious and done with utmost efficiency. The silent auction filled 2 classrooms in the school along with a hallway. The items ranged from antiques to rain barrels, gift cards to gift baskets, when totaled it was more than 400 items!! The larger items where put in a live auction which included items such as a 3-hour sailboat cruise to a homemade quilt made by a wonderful group of ladies from Calvin Church's Stitches Group to baseball box seat tickets (GO CUBS!)

It was great to see friends and family that were attendance along with classmates from high school and cousins that we haven't seen in years. Even some of Jay's painting customers came out! Thank you to all of you who spent the evening with us. It was great to talk to so many of you, but unfortunately we couldn't thank you ALL personally.

So many volunteers worked so hard to make this a success and we we are so grateful. WE WERE HOPING TO RAISE ABOUT $15,000 TO COVER MEDICAL EXPENSES BUT THE INITIAL DOLLAR FIGURE IS OVER $30,000!! This reminds us so much of God's generosity and providence, and the verse found in Ephesians 3:20, 21 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine...to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! AMEN."

PRAISE GOD! AND MAY PEACE FILL OUR HEARTS!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 12:55 AM
It has been a busy week. I went back to work, Jay went to his therapies, and together we saw two different doctors. All is well. We went to his primary care doctor to go over with him the events of the last three months and some concerns we had. Mostly to look at a blister on Jay's foot which we were hoping as not a bed sore. The doctor in turn wants us to go to the Wound Care Center at Little Company of Mary. Unfortunately, it is not is our insurance "network" so we have to find somewhere else to go. We also went to see the surgeon who operated on Jay's neck and back. According to the x-rays that were taken a few weeks ago, the doctor reported that everything is healing nicely. When we asked about the timetable of the rate of return of the movement in Jay's body, he said that in the next six months we should see about 80 percent of the expected return, and it may take 2 years before we see whatever else is going to return. It may be everything, it may be only minimal, it all depends on Jay's body. I say, prayers for a miracle and God's grace for whatever God's plan may be.

Tomorrow is the Pray for Jay Fundraiser. After school I stopped over to see how things are going--I was told I couldn't help in any way!! It is unbelievable!! There are over 400 people who RSVP-ed for the dinner and over 400 donations!! And wait to you see the donations--I can't describe the generosity of people. Some people who donated we know, and some people we don't. Many people are just acquaintances who just heard about Jay and what we have been through, and just wanted to help in some way. AGAIN, UNBELIEVABLE!!

Well, I hope to see most of you at the dinner. If I forget to say "thank you" for everything you have done for us tomorrow night, I apologize beforehand. In any case, I will be thanking God for you tonight before I go to sleep. Good night.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 11:59 PM
PRAYERS ARE BEING ANSWERED - The swelling in Jay's legs is going down - His kneecaps and ankle bones are now becoming visible again!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 12:31 AM
Well, we made it through the first week!! I'm a little more tired that usual (I woke up at 2:00 am this morning only to find out that I must have turned off the alarm at 1:00 and fell back to sleep - oops!!) But that's ok.

Jay did well at therapy this week. The first day was more of just an assessment of what he can and cannot do and setting goals. Just like when we were at Marianjoy at Wheaton, the goals are to make the most of what he has and make him more independent. Jay needs a little help when transferring to the bed/chair but the goal is for him to be able to do it himself along with getting dressed, etc. The first few days at home I find myself doing a lot of things for him, but after talking to others in the same situation, I found out that I'm not helping him by doing that. I have to let him do things for himself even if he struggles and it takes twice as long. In time, he will accomplish what needs to be done and at a faster rate. So for now, I have to bite my tongue and keep my hands behind my back. We were also told that people who have paralysis (and also the caregivers) need patience. In the case of a broken bone, it would naturally take about six weeks to heal, but in cases like Jay, it can take as long as two years for the muscles to return, if at all. Patience--it's not easy, I keep on telling myself God's time, not mine!!

Jay even got some homework, too--he has to practice zippers, buttons, and snaps, along with his arm, finger and leg exercises. Jay wants to become more independent and strengthen his muscles so I have no doubt he will being doing whatever it takes.

Our renovations are moving along. We now have a sink in the bathroom, all that is needed now is some light fixtures and paint the walls. The doors for the bedrooms and closets are installed, they just have to been stained and varnished to match the rest of the house. Our son, Tom, has primed the walls in the hallway, closets, and bedroom walls (he's actually quite good for only being 16!!). We bought the paint so that just has to be applied. Our hallway floor has been stripped and sanded, just two more coats of sealer and that too, will be finished. EVERYTHING IS COMING TOGETHER WITH THE HELP OF SOME GREAT PEOPLE--THANK YOU!!

The Fundraiser for Jay on Saturday, November 5, is less that a week away and, too, friends are going "above and beyond"--THANK YOU!! They are working so hard to make it an fun night for all. I can't believe the donations that are coming in!! So I hope you can come as we would love to see you, to thank you for the many cards, prayers, and encouragement.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 12:37 AM
It's Tuesday and we made it through four days of interrupted sleep. Although I don't want to get up at 1:00 and 4:00 am (I never was a "morning person") so far, so good. It usually takes me about 20 minutes to reposition and cath Jay each time, however, it seems that it takes me twice as long to get back to sleep. Then, all too early it's 7:00 and time to do the bowel program, get dressed, and start our day. This takes us currently two hours and 10 minutes, we are hoping to improve on our time as the days go by. At night before bed we do Jay's leg stretches that helps him sit in his wheelchair, strengthen him in transfers, and works his muscles for the day when he is able to walk again.

Jay started his physical/occupational therapy today as an outpatient. We decided to stay with Marianjoy but instead of going to Wheaton, we go to the one in Palos Heights--Providence (Rest Haven). Jay will go Tuesday-Thursday-Friday mornings. Since we live in a 5-mile radius, a bus can pick Jay up and bring him home for $5 a ride. Although much of today's therapies were going over Jay's history, we found the therapists to be just as wonderful as the ones we experienced in Wheaton. To our surprise sitting across from us in therapy was Jay's Uncle Art Sluis!! We couldn't believe it!! Uncle Art was there for therapy after replacement surgery and found out too that Jay's Aunt El Sluis and Aunt Jess Alderden where there in the chapel. I ran up to see them and to ask them to stick around till after Jay's therapy so we could visit. We had a great visit over a delicious lunch. We also ran into Wilma Dykstra who is a resident there. Immediately we felt a home with old friends.

A few more finishing touches are being done on our remodeling, it's looking great and can't thank the volunteers enough!! Mostly we have painting to do on our new walls. Jay's room will have to repainted since it is now smaller after enlarging the bathroom, the bathroom, enlarged hallway, and one wall in my bedroom after the doorway was enlarged and the wallpaper removed. Anyone know a good painter?? :)

Again, thank you to all of you for your cards, meals, expression of concern, and MOSTLY prayers. We do believe it's the prayers that are helping us get through each day!! Thank you, too, for my dear friends at Southwest, who are covering for me as I take a week off from school, and the ladies in Coffee Break at Calvin CRC who are cleaning the church for me this week. Also, thank you to so many people who attended Friday's Prayer Vigil and those who are working SO hard on the fundraiser for Jay on November 5. I hope most of you will be able to attend so we can thank you all and we can share with you the work of God in our lives. GOD IS GOOD!!

Monday, October 24, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Dear Friends: I know that it has been a few days since I last wrote, and for that I apologize. So many wonderful things have happened--WE ARE BLESSED!! The Christian community continues to envelop us in love. The last few days we have had tradesmen putting in 10-hour days trying to get our house ready for Jay, which they almost accomplished. The lift is in and running, doors hung in the enlarged doorways, the heating system which was modified in the enlarged bathroom and downsized bedroom is now operational, and the bathroom is almost completely tiled with a new toilet, shower, fixtures, etc. Two different groups of ladies came to rid the house of sawdust, plaster and drywall dust. A hospital bed was delivered and bedroom furniture relocated.

We surprised Jay with a 50th birthday party on Thursday at Marianjoy which was enjoyed with the kids and close friends--great fun.

ON FRIDAY IT WAS DISCHARGE DAY!! After last minute instructions on our new daily routine and prescriptions distributed, it was time for our last visit with our doctor at Marianjoy and the all important pinprick test (which is actually administered with an actual safety pin!) Here Jay and to distinguish between a dull or sharp prick of the pin and the feeling of a light touch. His last test was four weeks ago on September 23. Using a scale from 0 - 2 with 0 being absent and 2 being normal, JAY'S SENSORY SCORES HAVE GONE UP!! His highest scores are above his injury and are at a 2. However, the range area has increased from his head to his just above his nipples, which is one additional level than before. Also the area where he has 1's (impaired) have also increased from just above the pelvic area to now include the pelvic area--AN INDICATION THAT THE SWELLING IS GOING DOWN IN THE SPINAL CORD AND PRAYERS ON BEHALF OF JAY ARE BEING ANSWERED!! With a maximum score of 112 Jay scored a 60!! In the test of the key motor muscles, Jay scored a 44 in the upper limb area with a possible score of 50, his right wrist has increased in strength with his low marks (a score of 4 with a maximum of 5) in the wrists and fingers. In the lower limb area he scored a 2 with a possible score of 50 which increased with a visible contraction now in his left hip as well as his right. The doctor was as pleased as we were with Jay's increased scores (I do believe I saw a slight tear in his eyes as he was witnessing Jay's improvement!) SO MUCH TO BE JOYFUL ABOUT!!

By the early afternoon we were home much to the delight of our dog, Snickers, who was SO excited to see Jay, although we did take him to see Jay at Marianjoy twice. Jay was greeted warmly also by the volunteers who, too, were glad to see him home. While Jay took a nap, I ran out to get his prescriptions filled, and before we knew it was suppertime and then time for his athome exercises to maintain his leg muscles and off to bed. Unfortunately, our night is interrupted with two times of repositioning of Jay's body to prevent any bedsores and catheterizing, at 1:00 am and 4:00 am. Then it's up at 7:00 for the bowel program and getting dressed and ready for the day.

Saturday was a special day for the Iwema family as Jay's niece Esther Holwerda got married, a VERY beautiful bride. Jay's sister, Sharon and son spent Friday night with us along with our son, Matt, and his girlfriend, Lindsay, who came in from their college in Indiana. Our house was full, 3 kids in the living room, 2 in the basement, and 1 of each of us in the three bedrooms. The wedding was located in Lake Barrington and Jay did well in the hour and half drive. The wedding was beautiful and the fellowship with the relatives was great. Jay worked extra hard to get released before the wedding.

Our sermon in church today was about rejoicing in the Lord, how appropriate when we see these miracles over the past few weeks. Please rejoice with us as we serve our gracious God!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 1:07 AM
Last Wednesday I spent the night again with Jay and all day Thursday. This time not as an observer, but to assist Jay with the therapies and care giving with the therapists and nurses observing me. Everything went well. Jay is getting stronger every day and those slide board transfers that seemed so difficult in the beginning are not so now. We make a great team!! Jay's swelling in his legs is going down some, with the help of "leg loops" (velcro straps fitted around his legs with handles) he is able to move his legs and feet into position. After the staff meeting it was confirmed that Jay's discharge date is Friday, October 21--can't wait!!

On Sunday, we were given an 8-hour pass to enjoy the day away from Marianjoy, and what a day we had!! I picked up Jay at 7:30 am in our new van. (Thanks to the hard work of Bruce Harnew and Orland Park CR Church's Car Ministry, they were able to locate a 2000 Ford full size wheelchair assessable van.) After some paper work, we put Jay's medications in the backpack, Jay slide boarded into his wheelchair, and we were off for a 50-minute ride to church to surprise our church family. Jay was greeted warmly with handshakes, hugs and kisses--it was wonderful!! After the service, our small group had a Bible Study and pizza lunch, something that Jay hadn't had for over two months. Because the lift was not installed at our house yet, we were not able to go home. "Plan B" was to spend the afternoon outdoors but because of the cool and rainy weather, we went to "Plan C" visit the mall as a family. We then had a sandwich at one of Jay's favorite restaurants and then all too soon it was back to Marianjoy.

The renovations at the house are coming along. We cannot thank the many volunteers enough!! Many of them spending 10 hours a day to get the task done!! Thank you!! On Tuesday, the lift will be installed and the bathroom tiling will begin. Although all the remodeling may not all be completed before Friday, we are thankful for the generosity and willingness of these men to give their time and God-given talents to help us. Again, we say thank you.

On Wednesday, October 19, it will be Jay's 50th birthday. I have taken the day off to spend with Jay and some friends expressed that they would like to surprise Jay with a party in the evening at Marianjoy. So if you happen to be in the Wheaton area Wednesday night, stop over and wish Jay a happy birthday and have a piece of cake!! If you are unable to come, you can just send him a note at this website.

On Friday, October 21, at Calvin CR Church a special prayer vigil in planned for Jay and others in need of prayer in our community. Stop by if you can. Also, the fundraiser for Jay on November 5 is also approaching. Many friends are working extremely hard to help us in this endeavor. If this is something you would like to help with, information is on the website. Or just come to the spaghetti dinner and auction, and enjoy the fellowship of friends and say "hi" to Jay and he will gladly share with you how God has been at work in our lives these past 3 months.

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 12:04 AM
JAY'S COMING HOME ON OCTOBER 21!! PRAISE THE LORD!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Blessings abound at the Iwemas!! Things are starting to come together, and for that we are extremely thankful!! Last Monday some wonderful guys from our church started remodeling our bathroom--or should I say demolishing?! The whole bathroom was gutted and walls were moved to make it more accessible for Jay. Instead of a tub/shower combo there will be a roll-in shower and a sink that he can use with his wheelchair. Hallways are widen and along with doorways. This Monday, the landscaping was removed from our front porch area to make room for the lift that is going to be installed--again, by the capable and hardworking men from Calvin CRC who are donating countless hours to help us--THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Also, a special thanks to the Car Ministry at Orland Park Church for their efforts to find us a van that will be large enough to accommodate Jay in his wheelchair. Today, we learned that the caseworker at Marianjoy is securing a hospital bed for Jay. Now the only major item left is a shower chair on wheels!! Wednesday night I will be having another "sleepover" with Jay, this time it will be more assisting Jay than observing. Pray that all will go well.

Plans are underway for a Prayer Vigil at church (Calvin Christian Reformed Church at 101st and Central Avenue in Oak Lawn) for Friday, October 21 from 8:00 - 8:00. Which so happens to be (HOPEFULLY) the day Jay will be discharged. You are all invited to join us in praying for Jay, Katie Vree, and Liza Scherr, and others during those hours. For more information you can call Pastor Rich DeVries at 402-320-1640. Also, on Saturday, November 5 from 5:00 - 10:00 pm a Spaghetti Supper and Auction Fundraiser is being planned for Jay at the Oak Lawn Elementary School's Gym. Supper 5:00 - 7:30 Supper, 5:00 - 7:45 Silent Auction, and 8:00 Live Auction. More details to follow.

So again, thank you all for your prayers on behalf of our family. We have seen the answers to so many!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Well, Jay and I spent our first "night" together in the same room since his accident on August 4--Jay in his hospital bed and me on a couch/bed which I believe was made for someone 5 feet tall not 5' 11" ! The whole purpose of me spending the night was to see what Jay's day and night is like and also for the therapists to show me how to assist Jay for when he gets home.

After going to bed around 10:00 pm, we were awaken at 1:00 am for the repositioning of Jay from his back to to his left side by propping up his right side with pillows, this is for the prevention of pressure ulcers. Since Jay has no control of his bladder or bowels, it was also time for "self-cath" too, and then back to sleep until 4:00. At 4:00 it was again time for repositioning, this time to the right side and another "self-cath". We went back to sleep for about 30 minutes when it was 5:00 am, time for his medications and vitals to be taken. After what seemed like minutes, it was 6:30 and time for breakfast. At 7:00, it was time for Jay to transfer to a shower/commode chair via his slide board. It's really something that with the help of medication you can train your bowels to produce a bowel movement once a day (enough said). After a quick cleanup, it was back on the slide board and into bed to get dressed. Since Jay can put on his own shirt, the occupational therapist showed me how to put on his pants, support socks (for the prevention of blood clots) and his shoes. Before we knew it was 9:00 and time for his physical therapy. Jay worked on his slide board transfers from his wheelchair to a raised mat (to simulate his bed) and back again, and long sits (sitting on the mat with his arms behind him for balance). Next it was off to the 3rd floor where we found an Audi A6 which was in its entirety except for the front end which was cut off at the fire wall. (They lowered the car in the building by a crane before putting on the roof.) There Jay practiced getting in and out of the passenger seat from his wheelchair--you guess it, via his slide board. This proved to be a challenge but he was able to make two transfers in 10 minutes!!

Then it was lunchtime and also time for another "self-cath" after which Jay's nurse came in to discuss Jay's medications, purposes and dosage. Then off for more physical therapy where we worked on moving Jay's legs, feet, and ankles. This not only helps Jay sit properly in his wheelchair and deal with spasticity (involuntary muscle movements), but also works on those muscles that he not moving every day. At least until that miracle that we are all so desperately praying for happens!! From there we went to a group exercise program with about 6 other residents--some who suffered stokes, or had knee or hip replacement surgery. Here we worked with small weights in our hands moving our wrists, hands, and arms. Then it was off to a psychologist to discuss our experiences since the accident and the anticipation of Jay's discharge. Our last meeting of the day was with our caseworker. Stacy said that after the staff meeting today, Jay's discharge date is still October 21, however, it may change if they feel he is not ready to come home.

Finally it was 4:00 and our work was done for the day and after another "self-cath" it was off to enjoy the beautiful day outside for an hour before suppertime, which is actually 4:45. After more medication, it was a chance to relax and watch a little tv. To our surprise, there was a knock at the door and there stood some of our closest friends from Calvin Church carrying a birthday cake and presents!! It just so happened that I chose this day to spend with Jay because it was my birthday. After a great time of fellowship with our friends, it was time to say goodbye and make the long trip back home.

It was a great time spent with Jay and although sometimes the therapies were difficult and challenging, we believe with the prayers of God's people and the love we have for each other, WE CAN DO IT!!

Monday, October 3, 2011 at 1:04 AM
Well, Friends, it's October and we are counting down the days until Jay comes home--18 to be exact!! Jay continues to work hard in his therapies although still bothered by a sore deltoid muscle in this right arm and his legs are still severely swollen. I will be spending the night with Jay on Wednesday and the whole day on Thursday, where I will be instructed on how to care for Jay throughout the day and night. His morning routine starts at 6:30 am and ends with repositioning him at 1:00 am and 4:00 am in his bed to prevent pressure ulcers.

People have asked what they can specifically pray for. I would suggest that the swelling would go down, his deltoid muscle soreness would be diminish, and that he would have restful sleep at night so that he would be fully rested for his therapies. God is good and we know he listens to our prayers, we have seen so many answered prayers already!! One example was the need for a good wheelchair for Jay. We were made aware of one that was brought to the Pass It On Thrift Store--a perfect fit after a few minor adjustments. Another is the generously of others to help us. This week we hope to get started on the outside lift. On Monday, bathroom demolition/remodeling will start.

This is going to be an eventful week, we'll keep you posted. Our love to all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Prayers are being answered--The swelling in Jay's legs have gone down so much that he can wear HIS pants again (was previously wearing hospital scrubs). Praise God!!

Friday, September 23, 2011 at 11:12 PM
We had our "family meeting" with Jay's doctors on Thursday, although we didn't learn too much new, they did answer some of our questions, which is good. I saw Jay do some of his therapies on Thursday and what a difference one week makes!! Last week he was TOTALLY dependent on the therapists but yesterday he did so much on his own it made me so proud of him and all the effort he is putting into his therapies. Truthfully, it made me cry. The swelling his legs are going down, he is now 13 pounds lighter!! An answer to prayer!! His discharge date is still October 21--two days after his 50th birthday and one day before his niece's wedding, which we are trying to make.

Prayers are also being answered in the renovations to our house that are now in the planning stage. We are BLESSED with a church community who is eager to help us each step of the way--thank you from the bottom of our hearts!! An outside lift is being looked into along with the remodeling of our bathroom and possibly some doorways.

We were hoping to equip Jay's painting van to fit his needs but found that the price of a lift and raising the roof and extending the door height will be too costly. So again, friends are looking into locating a used van that will accommodate Jay's wheelchair.

Thank you DEAR friends for all the prayers, cards, well wishes, meals sent our way. Love to all...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Jay continues his therapy routine at Marianjoy. On Wednesday he is going to see his plastic surgeon from Christ Hospital in Elmhurst as to why he his having trouble bending his finger he fractured. Thursday is our first "family meeting" with doctors at Marianjoy. Please pray that we will receive a good report, have clear minds, and the wisdom to know how to act on it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Last Thursday we had a staff meeting regarding Jay. They decided he's not progressing as fast as they thought he should be. Instead of coming home on September 29 it's now October 21!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 11:52 PM
We had a great day with Jay today. Saw some of this therapy sessions and spent the night talking and watched a little TV. He is in great spirits and eager to learn and wants to come home. Tomorrow is the staff meeting and we will find out if his stay will be lengthened because of his 5-day hospital visit last week. Jay still remains severely swollen; the built up fluid adds 30 pounds extra to his skinny 165-pound weight!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 1:42 PM
Jay was released from Central DuPage Hospital on Friday after spending 5 days due to fever, swelling from the waist down and severe anemia. After several tests they found the swelling and fever was the cause of HUNDREDS of blood clots in his legs. We thank God that at Christ Hospital they put in an IVC filter in a main vein above his stomach so that any clots that would form in his legs (because of lack of movement) would not travel to his heart or lungs. In rehab they started Jay on a mild blood thinner. After talking with his surgeon at Christ, they decided to put him on a stronger medication. They did not do this before because they wanted the blood to clot by his surgeries.

It was feared that the severe anemia was the result of internal bleeding but after several tests and scopes they discovered that it was not the case. They still cannot explain why his count was so low--Jay was at 7 when the range for a man his age should be 12 - 16. (Every number you are down you are down one pint of blood!!) They can only assume it was from the trauma to his body. They gave him an infusion of two pints of blood and are currently giving him iron pills and watching him carefully. If his numbers fall again (he is at 8.9 now) he will have to have a bone marrow biopsy to see if his bone marrow is producing the red blood cells as it should.

Thank you ALL for your continued prayers on behalf of our family, the cards, and meals.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Jay is currently in Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois, for tests to figure out the severe swelling from the waist down and severe anemia. Today an ultrasound was performed on this legs to check for blood clots. He had an infusion of two pints of blood last night but his numbers are still very low so tomorrow a colonscopy and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy will be performed to check if there is an internal bleeding. Chest x-rays that were performed yesterday were clear, no pneumonia. Jay is currently feeling discouraged (and rightly so) as he sees that more time in the hospital means added days to his rehab schedule and his discharge date may not be until October.

Monday, September 5, 2011 at 11:15 PM
This morning Jay was taken to the emergency room at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield for evaluation and was admitted. Jay's legs have been swollen and are swelling more (possible kidney problems?) His iron and hemoglobin are low (possibly bleeding internally?) He has been running a fever and has chills (possibly a urinary tract infection?) We'll know more tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2011 at 9:31 PM
Thank you dear friends for the prayers, visits, cards and meals for our family.
Jay is continuing his therapy at Marianjoy and has a great positive outlook. Pray that he continues the great attitude, has strength to handle the sometimes grueling therapies, and the swelling goes down on his spinal cord.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 9:03 PM
After the staff meeting at Marianjoy on Monday, it was decided that Jay will be in rehab for 6 weeks. They are equipping him the skills he needs to function at home. In the meantime, our home will have to have a bit of remodeling done before he can come home--ramp, doorways, etc. Please continue to pray for the swelling of Jay's spinal cord to go down so that he can have the feeling/movement in in body. We serve a BIG God and I believe He is able to heal Jay's entire body!

Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 10:32 PM
Jay remains in very little pain and in good spirits, truly an answer to prayer! He will have 3 hours a day of extensive therapies (OT and PT). On Monday there is a staff meeting to evaluate the best way to help Jay while he is rehab, his goals, etc. More details will follow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Jay was transferred to Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, Illinois, this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 8:02 AM
Jay continues to heal on the Trauma Floor in Christ Hospital from his recent surgeries. He's becoming less and less confused and is in good spirits. We are waiting to hear which rehab he will be sent to, either downtown or the western suburbs which specialize in spinal cord injuries. The family offers thanks God for the progress he has made thus far and prays for the swelling to go down on this spinal cord so that he may have feeling/movement in his body. Thank you, too, for the expressions of love and the cards we have received from our friends.

Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 10:37 PM
After a great morning of clarity in Jay's speech and comprehension on Saturday morning, Saturday night's visit found Jay confused and sleepy. Unfortunately, a bad night of sleep followed mainly because they decided to change his mattress late at night to a mattress to help relieve his pressure points. On Sunday, they were concerned about his swallowing and his breathing was labored so they wanted to do a screening to watch him swallow to make sure the food wasn't going into his lungs. Jay said he was good and didn't want it. But when he finally got his lunch (they withheld it for a while) and was it fed to him, he had his best appetite yet. He ate his supper well, both with no swallowing problems. His sodium levels remain low and a matter of concern, so they are limiting his water intake (a major source of his confusion). They tried sodium pills but because they taste so bad he spit them out this morning. Both afternoon and evening Jay did great in his speech and without confusion. He also said his pain levels were manageable and could be relieved by the nurses' repositioning him on his bed. Jay is still having his respiratory treatment every six hours and his lungs remain clear. Thank you for your prayers, love, and concern.

Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 9:55 PM
After a rough day Friday, Jay had a relatively good day on Saturday--better comprehension and less confusion. It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do! He says his pain isn't as severe (thank you pain killers!!) and getting used to his new room in the Trauma Floor. His stomach is quite swollen due to a bowel obstruction and is now facing the challenges associated with that. Although it's not in the very near future, a rehabilitation facility is being discussed. Pray that all of Jay's needs--mental, physical, and emotional--will be met at whatever facility that may be.

Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 9:51 PM
Jay had a good day, confusion seems to be gone, comprehension is getting better too-- it's probably because of all the painkillers. He's off the IV and is only on oxygen. Waiting for a room to open up on the trama floor so he can get out of intensive care. Still waiting waiting for the swelling to go down on his spinal cord.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:30 PM
Jay had a pretty rough day yesterday. But today was a better day, he is on new pain medicine for his nerve pain (not uncommon for people with spinal cord injuries). He's getting weaned off his low blood pressure IV and when he does, he can be moved out of intensive care. Thanks for the prayers for Jay and our family.

Monday, August 8, 2011 at 9:33 PM
Jay had surgery today on his compression fracture on his back. Four hours, two rods, and 4 screws later he's back in his intensive care room. He also had his IVC surgery that also went well. He was fitted for his boot for his feet which looks like a big ski boot which will keep him from getting "drop foot". Thanks to all for the love, concern, and prayers. It's a great feeling to know that there a people who care about us.

Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 3:35 PM
A CAT scan yesterday showed that the neck is doing ok after the surgery. However, they decided to operate Monday morning on another broken vertibraeT-12, they tell us. The doctors said it will not be as extensive as his neck; a rod and 4 screws. They also are going to put a IVC filter (like a little screen) in a vein by his stomach to catch any blood clots that may form in his legs since there is no movement. This will catch any clot before it goes to his heart or lungs. Lastly, with the x-rays they took last night, they found 2 fractures in his pelvis and both of his feet have fractures as well. The pelvis they will let heal itself and they will put boots on his feet to help the healing, no surgery or casting is required right now. He still has no feeling from his chest down, they are letting the spinal cord swelling to go down on its own. Currently, Jay is in a lot of pain, please pray that the painkillers will relieve the pain.

Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 12:13 PM
They are going to take x-rays of his pelvis (decided against the MRI's) this morning and also of his feet since they are swollen. This is to make sure they are not broken. He's in quite a bit of pain which is no doubt expected. .

Friday, August 5, 2011 at 6:39 PM
Jay made it through his surgery, it took 4 hours when they told us 2 to 3! Anyway he now has a total of 6 screws and two rods supporting his neck and also wire for additional reinforcement. They also said he has an additional fracture in his lower back which they will now just brace, not ruling out future surgery. His spinal cord is swollen and he still has no feeling from his chest down. His finger will not require surgery. Thank you for your prayers and continue to pray for a miracle.

Friday, August 5, 2011 at 6:58 AM
Jay had a relatively good night last night. We still don't know the results of the MRI yet this morning. As of now, surgery is scheduled for 10:45 this morning.

Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Please pray for Jay as he fell off a ladder today while painting. To make a long story short, he fractured a finger and has no feeling from his chest down. More updates soon to come.

 


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