(Picture: Samuel’s 12 Birthday, Feb. 27, 2020)
I figure that I am currently somewhere between 50-60% in terms of my overall health, strength, and endurance. This might sound to you to be low, but in fact it is really quite remarkable, given the severity of what happened (for those who haven’t yet read Elena’s nearly daily writing of the events as they transpired, and her personal reflections on them, see her posts at Caring Bridge here).
My nephrologist thinks that my kidneys are at around 56% (at one point, they were totally failing, then sat at 4% or so for a while). My heart is doing very well – though initial results while in hospital suggested “severe and extensive” damage, I was told at the end of November that, somewhat shockingly, my heart is in good shape and there appears to be “minimal damage.” My lungs are clear – amazing, given having suffered aspiration, sepsis, and pneumonia leading to “severe” ARDS in ICU (and on a ventilator for a month, while in an induced coma). However, I still feel tightness in the chest when I’m tired (and often in the evening) – most likely due to damage caused by CPR. My body is improving weekly in its physical state. While at Freeport, the rehab hospital following my time at St. Mary’s, I struggled to lift 2-pound weights. And it took much of my strength to walk down the hall with a walker. Now, I’m doing 45 minutes of cardio at my rehab program and at the local gym during the week. It’s not intense but designed to work my heart at a level that is both safe and challenging (e.g., 15 minutes walking on a treadmill at 4.0 MPH and 2.0 incline – I can’t run yet; 15 min. on elliptical; 15 min. on an exercise bike). I also do some basic strength training and figure I’m about 50% as strong as I was in July. Nerve damage to fingers (ulnar nerve), toes, right leg, and right scalp is still present (and, at times, annoying), but improving very slowly (finger strength has increased, for which I’m grateful).
So much improvement. So much to be thankful for!
In ways, it can be deceiving. For example, I sometimes feel like I’m 100% . . . but only for half of the day. I can get together and interact with people at a normal level, but then start to feel tiredness set in as I make my way home and for the rest of the day. I’m craving interaction and intellectual contribution and engagement, but struggle with focus and things like reading speed. (It can be like trying to read when you’re tired). Distractions and noise impact me more. This too is improving, but improvement is slow and gradual. Anxiety from trauma is present, but manageable (esp. with deliberate strategies).
All in all, things are going very well. It’s now been over 7 months since my cardiac arrest, and 4 months since I’ve been home. Hard to believe that much time has passed.
I am planning to return to Tyndale, part-time (perhaps 40-50%) in the fall of 2020. We are in dialogue now about what that might look like. I am encouraged and thankful that Tyndale is very accommodating and doing all it can to make my transition back to work reasonable and empowering. This is good news for my ongoing recovery, though it does imply some financial challenges (any income made is subtracted from Long-Term Disability assistance, so returning part-time does not alter our present financial situation). But God has been very good to us. We are extremely grateful for the financial support we have received from so many friends, family members, and colleagues.
Thank you all so much for your ongoing concern, prayers, positive thought, encouragements, and supports. It has been a difficult and long journey, but one also filled with grace, faith, love, and hope. It’s been like an extended period of Lent . . . but Easter is coming!