Blog 2006 January 2, 2006 -Today is the deciding day for Kika. As I am writing this Kika is awaiting a brain scan that will determine whether or not Kika can come home tomorrow or will have to stay four more weeks in the hospital. Let me explain. I wasn't able to update her blog on the 31st of December, the day she had her operation to put in her new internal shunt, as I was there at the hospital for the operation with my wife. We were in desperate prayer during this time praying that everything would go well. The operation seemed to take unusually long, over three hours. When we finally were called to talk with the neurosurgeon he told us that they had had two complications. The first was that the abdomen was unusually hard making it difficult to put in the end of the catheter. The second complication was that when they tried to put in the valve at the top of the shunt, the place where they wanted to put it in the head had an abscess full of puss. They were able to drain the puss, but then had to place the valve in a different place. The doctor's main concern was that the new shunt would not get infected again due to the abscess. He said that if Kika didn't develop a fever in the next three days and was fine, we could take her home. However, an infectologist prescribed a brain scan to make sure there were no more abscesses. If the scan did show one, Kika would need to remain in the hospital another four weeks to be given antibiotics to clear up the infection. I asked if she couldn't just take the antibiotics at home, but apparently, it would need to be intravenously and had to be done in the hospital. We are actually glad that they are doing this final scan, not just so they can make sure there are no more abscesses, but also ensure there is nothing else wrong. So we are really praying that the results of the scan are negative as it will be the determining factor as to whether or not Kika comes home in the next two days or the next four weeks! We are getting extremely anxious to have her home and are tired of days and days in the hospital. Kika is doing well but is quite weak after so long a time laying in her bed. She is a bit like a rag doll in that when she sits up by herself she easily loses her balance and falls over. Her muscles are weak from lack of use. While she had the external shunt she had to stay lying down to keep her head at the same level as the bag in which her fluid drained into. So now she is going to have to work at regaining her strength. Although it was sad that they found an abscess during the operation, we are actually quite thankful they did. Somehow it had gone unnoticed through 5 previous scans, so it was a miracle that they found it exactly where they had wanted to place the valve! Since they did, they were able to drain it. If they had not done so, it would have been potentially fatal! So all we could do was praise the Lord for leading and guiding the doctors as we had prayed. January 5, 2006 - At this point it looks like Kika will be home by Sunday the 8th! Kika's brain scan did not show any more abscesses, thank the Lord! There was a bacteria growing in her old external shunt so they have been giving Kika antibiotics for it and will finish the treatment by Saturday, so that by Sunday she should be able to come home. We are just so excited to have the end in sight and are praying desperately that there are no more hold ups or new factors to prevent her return. Please pray that Sunday is the day which will be 44 days since we went to the hospital! January 12, 2006 - Kika came back home from the hospital! In my previous entry we had anticipated Kika coming home on the 8th, however, on that day she developed a fever and vomited. This was cause for concern by the doctors as to what was the cause of these symptoms. One suspect was the catheter to her heart, so they took that out to do a culture. By the next day, Monday, she continued to have a fever and so more tests were done–blood, x-ray, etc. The tests didn't reveal anything and Kika's fever went away. So everything was set for Kika to come home on Wednesday. There was just one last test. Apparently, her blood test had shown an unusually high sodium level, whatever that means. It was so high they thought it was a laboratory error. So Wednesday morning they took another sample of blood to double check. By the afternoon they came to take another sample of blood. We asked why and found out that the lab was unable to run the test on the first sample and now it was too old so they needed a fresh sample. Poor Kika, this meant one more "poke" in her arm. She was brave though and the doctor promised he'd make sure it got processed. By around 8 PM the results came back, the high sodium level of the previous exam had been a mistake, thank the Lord! So we were told we could take Kika home either that evening or the following morning. We opted for the next day, Thursday, as it was more convenient for us and would also allow us to personally thank the doctors and nurses who had taken such good care of Kika. Thursday morning was the day that Kika could go home! We thanked and hugged the various doctors and nurses who had given their all for Kika's recovery. We felt as if they were our personal friends who treated Kika with the same love that a family member would have. We were just so very thankful for the victory of being able to take our dear little sweetheart home at last. The hospital bill was another miracle in that two of the doctors had personally talked with the social worker in charge of our case, asking her to consider not only all that we had already had to pay for but our missionary work. In the end, we were able to name the amount that we could pay for our time there. We had set aside funds for this bill and had gotten a bit worried that it would be way too little. I mean, if you would just calculate a minimum fee for each day we stayed, 48 days, just that would be quite a bit. Then, add five operations including two neuro surgeons, the anesthesiologist, etc., then add all the expensive antibiotics, the nurse care, syringes, gauze, tape, etc., the total bill would have been astronomical by our estimates! So we paid what we could which consisted of the donations we had received by some of you reading this, God bless you! It was what was left over after all of our other expenses: four shunts, five CAT scans, four x-rays, one ultrasound, medicines, food, transportation to and from the hospital, etc. All of it was paid for by you, our dear friends! We walked out of the hospital for the first time in 48 days with Kika in our arms! When we got home we had a party with balloons, cards, presents and, you guessed it, chocolate cake—well, actually three cakes! We were all so thrilled to have Kika home again! We cheered, we praised the Lord, we wept! It was a time of praise and thankfulness to be reunited again! So that's the story, at least up until now. We are now working on getting caught up with work, correspondence, life, etc. It's so nice to finally be back home with Kika! January 30, 2006 - Believe it or not, I am writing this after coming home from another week, eight days, in the hospital! Yup! Here's what happened. Around the 19th of January, Kika started having a fever. It was on and off initially but finally settled into a continuing over 38 degree fever for more than a day. The doctors had told us to come in for a checkup if she had a fever for more than a day. So, on Sunday the 22nd, that's what we did. We spent all day in the emergency room as they checked Kika and did tests. One of the tests was another CAT scan of her brain. We had already done 6 during our previous time in the hospital, so this was nothing new. The new development was that the hospital's CAT scan machine was on the blink, had been for over a week. This meant that we would have to be taken to another private hospital to do the scan. A side note to this, we couldn't help but praise the Lord that this hadn't happened during our 48 day stay at the hospital. It would have really complicated things to have had to do these scans at another hospital. This is not to mention the expense. The cost of such a scan is normally $350 US at a private clinic. We were able to get a reduced price of $100 US, however, at the public hospital this cost could be reduced even more by pleading your case to the social worker. In any case, Kika and I had the scan done going and coming in an ambulance complete with siren all the way! It was quite an experience! By 11 PM Kika was readmitted to the hospital in a room right next to her old one. It was like a deja vu for us. I was a bit depressed about the whole thing. I was so enjoying being home and getting caught up with life and then, wham, back in the hospital sleeping on the floor again. On the other hand, we saw lots of familiar faces and all the doctors and nurses, kind as always, expressed their astonishment and sympathy at our return. Tests, tests and more tests were done on Kika. Poor Kika! She now knew what syringes and hypodermic needles were and did not look forward to the multiple samples of blood that needed to be extracted. But she did well in spite of it all. The doctor's greatest concern was that the newly installed shunt might be infected. If this was the case, we would be back at square one again, a thought we did not even want to contemplate! The surest way to determine whether or not this was the case was to tap into the shunt for a sample and have it analyzed. However, this was the last thing the doctors wanted to do. If the shunt was tapped–inserting a needle into it for a sample–there was a high risk that if the shunt wasn't already infected, it would be just by introducing the foreign object! So, before this last resort test, they wanted to exhaust all other possibilities. Well, to make an already long story a little shorter, we prayed for something to show up in the other tests until finally, hallelujah, they discovered a urinary tract infection! What good news! So they never did the tap and Kika began treatment for the bug. Her fever went away and by Monday, today, she was able to go home and complete her treatment here. We had exhausted all of our finances for Kika from the previous time at the hospital but, thank the Lord, more gifts came in which covered the expenses of her latest stay. One of the gifts was from the children of some fellow missionaries here in Mexico. They gave their piggy bank money to Kika! It touched our hearts like you can't imagine! I think it was numerically one of the smallest donations we ever got for Kika, but, like the story of the widow's mite in the Bible, it was the greatest in that they gave "all that they had." So here we are, back home again! Once again thanks for your prayers and gifts! Sorry I am only now writing about this, just couldn't get to it sooner. Who knows what lies around the corner. For us, we are praying that we don't see the insides of a hospital for another ten years :-) February 6, 2006 - Kika has been home now for a week. She is still having ups and downs in her condition. She's been having fevers off and on, vomiting, etc. We've taken her to her therapist to see about starting up Kika's therapy again. It was a blessing to see her as she has known Kika for quite some time now and so knows her well. She suggested we go to a homeopath, which we did. He prescribed some natural remedies to help Kika's immune system to be built up again. Kika is still quite weak and does a lot of resting. But we figure that's what she needs, a good time of recuperation after all she's been through. We are taking things one step at a time and are praying through each decision as we certainly don't want Kika to be at risk in any way. It's going to take time before she gets back to her usual self. Every time she wants to cruise around the house in her wheelchair, or cracks a joke, or laughs and giggles, it's a good sign of her getting back to normal. Until then, all I can say is that it sure is good to have her home again! February 13, 2006 - Well, I'm very happy to report that Kika is doing well! Since last Thursday she hasn't had a fever and has begun to eat more normally. We had seen a pediatrician on Friday of last week and her opinion was that since Kika had so much happen to her head, which is like the central control station of the body, it would have to kind of restore its equilibrium until everything was back operating normally. That was why she would have intermittent fevers, occasionally throw up, etc. It helped to explain things better to us. Aside from all the medical opinions, we've just seen Kika more and more acting like her old self—cheerful, happy, energetic, etc. All of which encourage us that she is pulling out of it. Her memory is just as keen as ever and she remembers the most amazing little details of things that happened long ago, or people she met only once. Almost every night when we go to bed we thank the Lord for being home and all together as a family. It's just so nice not having to "live" at a hospital! February 28, 2006 - Kika has been getting better and better, thank the Lord! She even went with us singing last weekend! We are still receiving donations over the past couple of months. Most of them are from fellow missionaries like ourselves. We are especially thankful for these gifts as we know how hard it is to support yourself on the mission field, and then to give to others on top of that, well, it makes us extra thankful and appreciate their sacrifice. God bless you all! Some of the gifts came from Taiwan, Japan, and even our field of Mexico. Awhile back (January 30th) I mentioned something about these kids who gave their piggy bank money to Kika. I said it was one of the smallest gifts we had ever received. Well, someone recently made the all-time smallest donation of one dollar :-) A total stranger! Nevertheless, we are so thankful for this person's giving as we know that you can never lose by giving! It's not the size of the gift that counts, it's the love behind it. Now please don't start sending in only one dollar donations—ha! But we did want to say how thankful we are for each and every gift that comes in! May 19, 2006 - Sorry I haven't written anything for such a long time! We've been enjoying just being back home and enjoying normal life, I've hardly felt like there was anything major to write about. There have been some things that have come up, though. We went to see a urologist and he recommended we cath Kika every three hours, plus he recommended we do a procedure on her to help relax her sphincter muscles so that she fully eliminates her urine. We are not too sure about this idea so are going to seek a second opinion. It is true that the most important factor in Kika's care right now is making sure she eliminates her urine so that it doesn't potentially back up and cause serious damage to her kidneys. Then we'd be in for BIG trouble! So we are carefully, and prayerfully, considering what to do. Kika's latest interests is playing the keyboard. She really has fun with it and says, "Want to her my BEST chord?" She is being happy, cheerful and sweet, is doing well in her school, has a memory that astounds you. Not too long ago we took a trip to Monterrey. There we met a good friend who is a doctor. She met and has known Kika ever since she was born in San Diego. She asked, "Can Kika talk?" As a professional doctor, she knew that this was a very real possibility and probability for someone who had undergone so many operations on her head. We told her, "Yes, she talks and talks and talks!" What a miracle! It truly is! She is the joy of our lives. August 14, 2006 - Kika is now five years old! We celebrated Kika's birthday, and her brother Steven who has the same birth date, at a local park along with about 50 friends and their kids. It was lots of fun and Kika got lots of gifts! Thanks everyone! Cheri, Kika's big sister, made two cakes, one for each of the birthday kids, and others brought chips and juice and ice. We did have one incident though, someone had placed Kika in her little wheelchair and forgot to put the seatbelt on. During the festivities, poor Kika, fell out of her chair and got a lump on her head—oh my! We put ice on it and all prayed for her. She was a bit shook up and wasn't too happy with the pain of the bump nor the ice on her head. The party finished shortly thereafter and as I was carrying her back to the car she asked me, "Daddy, can I rest in your bed, pretty please with a cherry on top?" So sweet! When we got home she proudly told the heroic tale of how she had sustained a big bonk on the head, obviously having survived and overcome this momentous event on the day of her birthday celebration. What a little champ!