Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grandpa and Grandma Johnston

I wanted to post a picture of my parents Ken and Nancy Johnston who have been so generous in taking care of us during the past month. We eat with them, use their computers, mom lets me drive her car, a lot, and I like driving it :), and many other things. They are fabulous!

A Huge Step

Rebekah is so proud of herself! She was able to hold her cup of jello instead of steadying it between her knees. We are all proud of her. While it isn't a firm grip, it is a step in the right direction. Her middle finger is the one not strong enough to make it a firm grip. Her index finger is still useless since it is full of pins. This is a great verse: Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. We are trusting in God to heal Rebekah and He is doing it! Aren't God's promises just awesome!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Been Four Weeks!

Can you believe it, it has been 4 weeks today since the accident. Abigail is doing great. She still has her cast but the collarbone is healed. Rebekah has also made great strides in her recovery. Her finger and wrist flexibility has greatly improved since last week! We are very pleased. We are really missing daddy and siblings still in Peru. Grandpa and Grandma Stilwell are now back in Peru also. Rebekah has no pain (except when exercising those fingers and wrist) and still has a great attitude. She is doing schoolwork each morning trying to keep up with her studies. The other ladies involved in the accident continue to recover as well.

The skin and underlying tissues were taken from here and placed on the back of her hand. The skin from her thigh was used to cover this site. See the line going down the middle of the round area? That is a tendon. We watch it stretch and relax with exercises!

Most of the stitches are out. She doesn't always enjoy the therapy sessions but remains joyful. The pins in the index finger will be there until our next visit to the surgeon on April 14. He will then let us know when we can head back to Peru.

The palm side of her hand is healing well also. The middle finger is the one that is least flexible because of the tendon damage but it is so much better! Of course the index finger doesn't bend except at the first big joint.

This is Ann our certified hand therapist. She is fantastic. Tender but forceful at the same time. She is also a lot of fun. Today she worked on Rebekah for 2 hours, exercises, measuring swelling and how well the joints bend, removing some stitches and putting on new dressings.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Hand Pics

Today at the therapy visit they used tweezers to pull off lots of old dead skin that also had scabs and stitches attached. All this came off her middle finger. It has been very difficult to bend but now flexes easier without all that attached to her finger. It wasn't a pleasant process for her. She commented that the tweezers have become her worst enemy :)

We are also doing school while here in Lafayette.

Brief Update

Just a brief update, not much new is happening. Rebekah continues with therapy 3 times a week and many exercises each day. It isn't a pleasant experience but she doesn't require any pain medicine. She is doing some school each day also. We are enjoying our time together and with my parents but missing our family in Peru. On Thursday we will post pictures of her hand 4 weeks after the accident. Seems like a lot longer than that, but it will soon be 4 weeks. Abigail is doing well, her wrap for her collarbone is off and her cast will come off this week sometime we hope. Thanks for all of your prayers.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

He is Risen

To all of our dear friends,
We thank you for all your prayers for us over the past 3 weeks. Knowing that God loves us and has the best plan for us has been very comforting. We pray that you all will enjoy celebrating the risen Savior tomorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Flowers from Daddy

Today Rebekah received a bouquet of beautiful spring flowers from her daddy in Peru. Isn't internet wonderful, you can order flowers from 1,000's of miles away. She was thrilled to get the arrangement. It goes well with her pink outfit today. Thanks, Daddy!
PS: He sent mommy flowers this week too!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Looking Better - But Still Yucky

Every day we take off all the dressings, wash the wounds in warm water, air dry, clean the pin insertion sites with peroxide, then massage the incisions with Vitamin E. She does her exercises then we redress. Whew, it is a process! But the wounds are looking better. Here are a couple of pictures today.

Hard Work

Did you know that bending each finger joint (except the index finger) could wear you out? It sure does Rebekah. She has to bend each joint 10 times, 6 times a day. She does require some ibuprofen in order to do all that. We are thankful for the smaller splint, no more cutting her sleeves to get shirts on. She can even wear sweaters now. Tomorrow we make our first visit to the physical therapist. We are thankful that there is a therapist here in Lafayette that used to work at the hand center in Indy. Another blessing. God is so faithful.

Things at home are going well also. I am so thankful for my faithful husband who is keeping things going, please pray for him.

We are thankful for each one of you who is praying for us. We know that is the reason she is doing so well. She is discouraged by how ugly her hand and forearm look, it is still very swollen and much healing of the incisions has yet to take place. Her first 2 fingers are also quite crooked, we'll see what happens once the swelling goes down. They told us that the swelling will be here for a few more weeks from all the trauma of the accident and surgeries. Also those 6 pins are still in her index finger and will be until April 14.

It looks like we won't be returning to Peru until at least the 29th of April. That is when our return tickets are for. We are willing to take whatever time necessary for her hand.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Big Doctor's Visit

I am going to paste in the letter that I wrote to David and others as to not to have to retype it all. I will post the picture of Rebekah with her primary surgeon, Dr. Greenberg and of her new dressing. If you want to see the more graphic pictures you can go to this site:

The doctor's visit went fabulous. It wasn't very painful, she was more nervous than anything. I did give her 2 of her strongest pain pills for the whole adventure. We were there over 2 hours and all that time we were busy! They took off all the dressings, it isn't pretty but they are VERY pleased with how it all looks! They took out about 15-20 staples from the inner forearm area and the 2 stitches in her thumb. All the rest of the stitches will dissolve on their own, almost all of them are gone already.

Here is what I didn't understand correctly before. The large area on her forearm they removed SKIN and tissue, it looks like a dog bit out of it. All that went onto the top of her hand and middle finger. The skin graft went to cover the hole that was left in her forearm. They told her she will always have a little dip in there but over time it will fill in. It looks wicked.

She still has 6 pins sticking out of her index finger to keep the bones aligned. You would not believe how those bones have healed on xray that they took today. I was impressed! He said he still doesn't have much hope for the mobility of the finger but we will wait and see.

He told her that they discussed her case in staff meeting this morning, she is a celebrity around here. She is known as the example patient. I am SO proud of her. She is constantly telling people thank you and her bright smile wins them all over. They have never seen her out of control. God is SOOOO great and wonderful.!

We will see Dr. Greenberg again in 4 weeks to take the pins out and then he said he will decide when we can return to Peru. I told him we were due to return to Lafayette for a year come July. He about jumped out of his seat knowing that he had a whole year to make her right. He was thrilled when I asked if I could take his picture with her, he gave me his email address so that I can send him a copy!

After all that we headed upstairs to physical therapy where they cleaned it up some, wrapped it again and made her a splint and showed us exercises. They gave us the name of the therapist here in Lafayette that will work with her! Another praise, especially with the price of gas. She did well although she has already lost a lot of mobility, even in her good fingers, she needs to work at it. She will exercise all her fingers (except the index) 6 times/day, 10 repetitions each exercise. She got to giggling because she was staring at her fingers so hard trying to get them do what she wanted. Our therapist's dad just returned from a missions trip with Bethesda Baptist! She can shower with it which will help to make it look better.

We will change the dressings every day. She does have one goopy spot between the middle and ring fingers that we will watch. Have to clean around the pins every day with peroxide. The dressing is still on the thumb were the nail will be, it will grow back and that dressing is keeping the pathway for the nail to grow on. Keeping the bed of the nail present. I am constantly amazed at what they can do.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Rebekah and Tirzah

Today Tirzah came to spend the day with Rebekah. They played games and did art stuff together. They also skyped with Abigail for over an hour. That made Rebekah and Abigail feel much better about being apart. Thanks, Tirzah!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We finally made it to church

It has been a long time since we have been in church. I enjoyed going to Pastor Aucoin's class and Rebekah went to the Jr. High Girl's class. She enjoyed being with her friends. Yesterday 2 former classmates came over to visit, that was a treat.

She is taking very little pain medicine. She has had only 3 pills today instead of 10! She has more energy too since she isn't taking them.

We have enjoyed visiting with the family in Peru via skype and the webcams. That really brightens our day!

Monday, March 10, 2008

We Wait

A quick update to let you know that we don't see the Dr. Greensburg until Monday to allow her hand a chance to heal. She is still have a great amount of pain in her thigh where they harvested the skin for the graft to her hand. She has little to no pain in her hand! Her spirits are great. Some girl friends are coming over after school to visit for a little while. She is looking forward to that! She also enjoyed a brief outing to the store and to get a haircut. We borrowed a wheelchair from church since walking is painful. That is pretty embarrassing for her but it allows her to go places. We aren't sleeping well at night, please pray about that. Pray also for David as seminary classes have started and school at home needs to start too. He has his hands full. Martha (David's sister) will be teaching Abigail and Jacob, that is a huge blessing. David will just need to be watching over Benjamin. We are thankful for the maid who is there Mon-Friday to clean and will prepare their lunch. Hopefully there will be leftovers for supper. David does know how to cook too!

Rebekah receives at least 5 cards daily in the mail, she is enjoying that! Thanks to everyone for their generosity. Financial gifts also keep coming in, even from people we have never met! We all serve the same incredible God.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Home Again

What a relief to be home again. Rebekah was thrilled to take a nap this afternoon with no machines beeping and where she could finally sleep on her tummy.
Dr. Walker saw her this morning and took the dressing off her skin graft removal site. It is a very tender area today. I expected it to be much bigger considering the size of her dressing :) He told her to go ahead and shower and that it could get wet. We are to dry it with a hair dryer! He is super pleased with her progress and says she has done better than most 20 year old men as far as her tolerance of the procedures. She is a blessing to be around.

I was able to go out and purchase us some church clothes this afternoon, I admit I enjoyed my time out alone. Rebekah enjoyed snuggle time with grandpa.

We had fun chatting with our family in Peru. David reports that many campers were saved this week at camp, Amen!

We plan to go only to the 8 AM service tomorrow as to not rush Rebekah. She is anxious to see her friends.

We will return to the Hand Clinic in Indy later in the week for the dressing removal and maybe some of those 100 stitches too!
For those of you in Peru, tonight we change our clocks so it will be one hour later than you all.

Lindsey the Child Life Specialist who kept Rebekah occupied with crafts.

Mommy and Rebekah snuggle in the hospital bed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Walk in the Halls and Old Friends

Rebekah just returned from taking her first walk around the 4th floor of the pediatric hospital. She did okay but had some pain in her left knee that caused her to feel like it was going to give out. She wonders if it is because she is walking strange on it due to the pain in her thigh. She hasn't had any morphine for over 6 hours now since she is taking her oral pain medications. She is also more alert without it. She is trying to stay awake a little later tonight so the night doesn't seem so long.

An old and good friend of mine is here with his son. I have enjoyed the re-encounter with Scott Worrell. We grew up together at Faith in Lafayette. Please pray for his son David.

A Good Night's Sleep

We both slept well last night, a huge praise!

The doctor was in this morning and told us that everything will move very slowly now. The healing process will take a while and then therapy. She isn't to use her fingers much so that the new tissue transplant doesn't slip or move. She is okay with that since it hurts to move them. Her leg is very sore today where they harvested the skin. We are going to wean her off the morphine while increasing her oral pain medicatioin intake. She will be glad to get rid of the IV's. Pastor Graham was just here to visit us which was nice. It was the first we had met him. The snow has been falling but it is getting heavier now.

They have allowed me to use the computer in her room so that I can keep you informed and not have to leave her for long periods of time. Another blessing!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Greetings from St. Vincents

Little by little Rebekah is improving. Her leg seems to be her biggest discomfort today. That is due to the skin that they removed from the thigh to graft to her hand. Her fingers are now visible and have good blood flow. We are encouraged. They did to a muscle flap also to cover those exposed ligaments and tendons. Several pins were inserted in her index finger and she has over 100 stitches in her hand. There are also staples in the arm. The doctor is hopeful this will be the last surgery to reconstruct. Later there will be plastic surgery to make things "look" better. Rebekah doesn't think she will need that but I am sure as time goes along she will want to take care of those big scars.

She is still on morphine regularly which she can give to herself and oral narcotics every 4 hours. She is walking to the bathroom and sits in a chair. The staff here treat her like a queen bringing gifts and crafts to do.

God continues to give us His blessings, we have started a blessing book in order to keep track of those good things when we want to focus on the bad.

Thanks for your prayers on our behalf. We were able to talk to David/Daddy today so that was a huge encouragement for us. Many people come to visit us each day which is an encouragement to me.

Many people tell us they are sorry this has happened. I encourage them not to be as God intended this for our good, we have lots to learn and His greatness through this all still astonishes me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Phone Number

I now have my own cell phone if you need to reach me. I am no longer using my dad's phone number. My number is: 765-490-7070

Surgery is scheduled for 1:30 PM tomorrow again at St. Vincents.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Some pictures

Here are some pics of the past few days. The first pic is in her room just after returning from OR. She is still on her oxygen. The second and third pictures are showing the size of her dressing. It is literally as big as her head since it has a splint inside. She is still taking 2 narcotic pain pills every 4 hours. She looks so much better in the picture of her with the dog than she has looked in several days. She has only had one nap today. She slept all day yesterday. No headache today either! She loved having the dog visit her today, it really brightened her up. They train these dogs to be able to go to the hospital, they don't bark and are really calm. Wednesday afternoon we go back to do it all over again at St. Vincents. They told us to plan on spending the night again. Hopefully it will be less traumatic on her. The family in Peru is doing fine. Youth camp started today. David is the program director. He is there with the boys. Abigail did not want to travel anywhere so is staying with a peruvian family on the seminary campus at the home of her two very good friends. She has been bubbly the last 2 times I have talked to her on the phone.

We're Home, for now

Rebekah is doing great today! She has energy and feels good. She is still taking 2 pain pills every 4 hours for the hand pain. No headache today either. She just had a bath, hair washed and fingernails cleaned. All that is very important to a teenage girl. She will have another surgery on Wednesday afternoon. Our home church has been very generous, Rebekah received at least 12 bags of clothes and treats. She is so excited. We have been so blessed.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Update on Rebekah

To all our wonderful friends and family,

The last few days have been some of the worst in our families life, if not the worst. On Thursday morning Rebekah, Abigail, cousin Sarah and 27 other ladies were involved in a bus accident that eventually had the bus over on its side. 28 of the 30 passengers were injured. Abigail sustained a cracked wrist and cracked collarbone. The wrist is in a cast and her collarbone is splinted.

Now for Rebekah, apparently as the bus went over onto its side her left hand went out the window. As the bus slid farther down the road her hand also slid down the road. She has what is called gloving, like pulling off your glove her hand has been peeled. Literally she has no skin on the back of her hand, her middle and far joint on her index finger are totally crushed, she has sheered ligaments and multiple laceration on the palm of her hand. The bones in the back of her hand are totally exposed. Her thumb nail was completely ripped out. You can guess that she has been experiencing severe pain. She is a tough cookie though. Thursday night she has exploratory surgery with a cleaning of the wound and also cleaning of a DEEP wound on her left knee. We were thrilled to hear that she didn't break any bones in her hand and that some ligaments they were able to sew back together. Medical care is poor to say the least and we were informed that there was only one surgeon in the entire country who did hands and he was in Lima. Knowing that getting attention would be difficult on the weekend, we decided (with the advice of the deacons in our church in Peru and our church in Lafayette) that it was best to fly home. Friday night Rebekah and I began our 15 hour trip home. She did great and we had a wheelchair at each gate. My parents met us in the Indy airport and took us straight to St. Vincents where they were waiting for us. Our dear friend Dr. Tom Summer had made lots of calls to get us a doctor and they knew we were coming. They examined her hand, which is excrutiating. It took 4 mg of Morphine to get through that. We had a good nights sleep last night (I had had 4 hours in over 48 hours). This morning they did exploratory surgery and found lots more dirt and gunk to remove. They also discovered all of her ligaments are present!! Just shredded! He said her wounds are very severe and the recovery process is going to be very long. He doubts if she will ever get full motion in her middle index finger joint. I am praising the Lord that she still has fingers! We will be praying for miracles to make her hand perfect again. Last night we were told about 2 months before we can begin thinking about returning. Today we were told 2 months would probably be too short of a time frame. That is a long time to be seperated as a family! Please pray specifically about that one too. At the scene of the accident she also lost consciousness for 15 minutes. She has lots of scrapes on the right side temple area and soft tissue damage in the jaw area on that side. The CAT scan was normal for her facial bones and brain, another praise! The doctors have told her that she is fortunate she is alive and that there is no other damage. Yesterday while she was in severe pain she looked at me and told me through her tears, "God isn't going to give me more than I can handle." It is so important to bury God's word in our hearts because we are going to need it someday. When she is deeply distressed she sings, As the Deer Panteth for the Water to calm herself down. She has asked why God has allowed this to happen to her and we have talked about that as well. While we can't see the purpose right now, someday we will and we know that God intends this for our good. We both has our moments of tears as we deal with her pain and frustration, think about family members in Peru, and about the accident itself. God IS good and He loves them all more than I do. He belongs to them and He has a plan for them and for her. We still have about 4 more surgeries ahead of us in the coming weeks. I will keep you posted. Right now I have decided not to tell Rebekah about being in the USA more than 2 months, she is really struggling with the seperation from Abigail. Abigail was the one who took control of the situtaion at the accident and keep Rebekah calmed while getting to the hospital. It has caused them to have a special bond.

People have been very generous financially and with their time. We love you all.

You can currently reach me at: 765-490-1451

Tomorrow we will hear when the next surgery will be.