"Miracles are never wrought without prayer, felt need, and faith...they are the natural result of the Messiah's presence among men."
Bible Dictionary

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28th

Exactly two weeks ago from this moment, Stephen was in surgery. Life since then has been a slow-moving blur, with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The highs have sustained us and we hold on to them as tightly as we can. These experiences as sacred, and could have come in no other way. They sustain us and strengthen our faith and trust that the Lord has a plan and we need to trust in Him.

Today was a tough workout. We were assigned Susan as an occupational therapist. Everyone says she is the best in the west. She has had an extended leave of absence because of a family death, and today was her first day back. What a tender mercy that she comes back at the right time for us. She worked Stephen hard. I could tell his arms were sore when I was exercising them tonight before bed. All the nurses and therapists are very kind and optimistic and Stephen has enjoyed them. Of course he was our nurse tonight, Svetlana from Yugoslavia, wrapped around his little finger. The big things to remember today are a new custom wheelchair and sitting up. Stephen's exhausted from all the work.

I know I have said it before, but thank you for all your support. The messages give Stephen such a boost, there can't ever be too much. He wishes he could respond, but I'm sure you understand. It's a distraction from hospital life. Visits are best around 5 to 8. Call or text me just to make sure before you come. Saturday is a therapy day too, but Sunday is a "day of rest", so that can be kinda long. So that would be a good day to visit. My number is 480-603-7809.

Good night...from this lumpy cot. Tomorrow we are trading duty and Spencer is sleeping here...haha!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27

We have settled into our own private room here at Barrows and started to decorate it with all the awesome posters and cards so many of you have set. We particularly enjoy the ROCKY poster and SUPERMAN poster from Jane and Darrell and the boys plus the CHUCK NORRIS poster with all kinds of legends about him, but substituting Stephen's name all over Chuck Norris's name. Whoever brought that over, please let us know --it's a classic! For example, "Stephen Merrill once ate an entire bottle of sleeping pills, they made him blink". We might have to post one legend day. We also have the Argentina flag flying proudly.

We had a couple of big steps today, the first being no more hospital gown! We also started the therapy sessions and got Stephen out of bed into a chair. The therapists have all been so positive and encouraging. Stephen was fighting a fever last night and today. We finally got a cooling blanket to help keep his temperature regulated so he is comfortable to do the workouts. It's amazing how the smallest improvements are so significant.

We are praying for a good nights sleep. Please pray to strengthen our faith. Our scripture of the day today is D&C 46:19. We know that Stephen has the gift of faith to be healed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26

As grateful as I am for the medvac flight to work out, it was not such a pleasurable experience, as we had anticipated. The crew was awesome, but the turbulence was crazy and we were bouncing in our seats and hanging on for life, like a mechanical bull ride. Needless to say, I lost my lunch coming down into Sky Harbor. Stephen held it together, thank goodness, because throwing up lying flat on your back wouldn't be a good situation. Anyhow we made it to Barrows at St. Joseph's and are sort of settled in. Tomorrow we will meet the doctors and the therapists and get an evaluation. We will start with the real work on Thursday. Plus we are in a temporary room, until Stephen's real room opens up on Thursday on the "spine"hall. We got to see the spine gym with all kinds of gyzmos and Stephen is ready to get to work. The best part of today was seeing Grandma, Sarah, and Laura (you too Nathan). That was the first time they got to see him and it was sweet. By the way, Sarah loved the Barbie Nurse...thanks to some of Stephen's BYU friends this morning. We are excited for a change of pace and will work, pray and wait upon the Lord.

Stephen is excited to see all his AZ friends. I think he will have freetime in the late afternoon, early evening hours, like around 4 to 7. Give me a call if you would like to come and we can set up a time. I know that would give Stephen something to look forward to every day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25

We want to share another tender mercy of the Lord. We have been working to get Stephen home for his inpatient rehab at Barrows at St. Joseph's hospital in Phoenix. It will be the best place for him now to get the treatment he needs and for all family to all be together. Through a lot of phone calls from Kelli, our social worker at the hospital, and Tom, the Trauma PA, we were able to get the insurance company to agree to send him to Phoenix and to cover the expenses of the med vac airplane. Kelli told us this was really a gift from Heavenly Father. She has only seen that happen one other time in 23 years, and that was to Canada. Now we are just waiting to see when the plane will get here. I (Genny) will fly home on the plane with him and Spencer will fly home on his flight as scheduled tomorrow. Thanks to the Mooneys, our truck is already home with all of Stephen's stuff. We are being watched over and Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.

April 24

Happy Easter Everyone! We enjoyed a peaceful Sabbath Day and are overwhelmed as we ponder the miracle of the resurrection of our Savior and his atoning sacrifice. We are so grateful to be here at UVRMC where the service missionaries travel from room to room to offer the sacrament to patients and family, and they conduct two sacrament meetings in the hospital chapel. It was wonderful to listen to the Music and the Spoken Word as well. Stephen was able to rest well and was in very little pain today. We even found some time for Dad to show him some of his pictures from his recent trip to Kenya and to watch Stephen's BYU ward slide show from last semester. We continue to be taught by the spirit and trust in the Lord. We know that He is mindful of us and loves Stephen. Thank you for your messages and comments on the blog. We are grateful for the love, concern, and support of so many.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23

Hello Family and Friends! It was so great today to have Spencer, Rachel and Nathan all here. We were just missing Laura and Sarah. We were able to slip away from the hospital and attend the Provo Temple, bringing back memories from 20 years ago when we lived here as newlyweds. It was a great comfort to be there. When we got back to the hospital, Stephen was snoozing away, after some difficulty this morning coughing and cleaning out the airways. When he woke up, Spencer was able to give him a blessing which we will always remember. Thank you to Scott, Greg, and Matt for being there to participate. Our spirits are lifted and now we will continue to work, pray, and wait. If you have the minute, we would recommend a talk by Elder Kent Richards in the April 2011 LDS conference. It was titled "The Atonement covers all pain". It has given us a lot of understanding and insight. It was hard to say good-bye to Nathan and Rachel, but hopefully we will be back home soon.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22

Stephen made some great progress today. They decided to do away with the feeding tube and gave Stephen the option of pulling it out himself; he decided to go for it and said it felt awesome. They also took out his central line so now all meds are taken orally. He licked his plate clean at breakfast and lunch so they gave him double portion for dinner. He is also feeding himself with a spoon and a wrist brace. Basically he has been cleared to leave the ICU and we are working on arrangements to transfer him him to St. Joseph's Barrow Clinic in Phoenix to be closer to home. So, it was a good day. It was was especially great because Rachel and Nathan, Stephen's younger sister and brother were able to fly up for two days and Spencer (dad) just got in tonight. It was great to be back together again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21st

We had a few highlights today so exciting Stephen almost jumped out of bed. The first was REAL food. The speech therapist visited today and said his swallowing was strong enough for solids. For lunch he ate lasagna, garlic bread, mandarin oranges, and a whole piece of cheesecake. For dinner we had Minched bonless pork loin, wild rice, green beans, a roll, applesauce and chocolate mousse cake. We have some oreos sitting here too, ready to dip in milk. Every bite was followed by "MMMM". Hopefully if he eats enough calories they will take out the feeding tube. The other fun thing today was a visit from Chad Lewis. If you have to ask "who's that?", never mind. He was really awesome, positive, and encouraging and Stephen loved talking with him. Thanks for all the letters, food, and thoughts and prayers. We decided to have another fast on Saturday. We would love anyone so inclined to join us and possibly attend the temple. We would love to join our our faith and prayers together across the miles. Our thoughts were turned today to the temple. We spent some time pondering how many people had put Stephen's name on the temple roll at various temples. We are also so grateful to know that his name was on the prayer roll in the Salt Lake Temple today for the weekly meeting of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve. This is an amazingly humbling thought. We are so grateful for all the blessings of the restoration of the gospel. We love all of you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20

Our sincere thanks go out to Robin, our sister-in-law and Stephen's aunt, for starting up this blog so quickly and making all the entries. You have explained things beautifully. Stephen read all the entries today and said they were perfect. We are especially thankful to you for spending every spare minute you have at the hospital, especially overnight so I can get some sleep. Also thank you to Bishop Brockbank for spending the night twice and Debbie Robinson. Life in the ICU is never dull and it keeps us pretty busy. We will try and add entries as time permits. Stephen wants you to know that he will eventually be able to respond to your messages, posts, emails, and cards. The highlight of every day is checking facebook. It's so wonderful to know that there are so many people who love him and are concerned for him. We continue to believe with faith unwavering, nothing doubting. I am amazed at his strength. It is also amazing to know that there can be joy in trials.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19

Family and friends continue to come by offering great support. To see so many of his friends unifying their faith is a very humbling thing. To have so many family members come by, many from out of town who have made the trek here to see him, it really makes you understand the importance of the relationships that we have.

Stephen remains optimistic and determined.

April 18

Last night, Stephen's biggest problem was not being able to get a good sleep. The good part of that was that he would try to sleep and after a while, he'd give up on the sleep and work on his therapy. As a result, we ended up doing his therapy 5 times throughout the night!

The nurse said they have never had a patient like Stephen and that he is the "Dream Patient." He is so focused and determined in doing all that he can to move forward in his recovery. At the same time, every person who does the slightest thing, gets a "Thank you so much!"

By the end of the day, he didn't even look like the same guy, he had made that much progress in his demeanor. He continues to work his arms and legs every chance he gets.

All in all, this will be a journey. Stephen is double timing everything he can. He remains focused and positive. Last night I told him that most return missionaries say their mission was the hardest experience they had ever had up to that point. I told him he wouldn't have to say that. For him, getting there will be hard work.

It is amazing how many visitors have commented on how much Stephen has impacted their testimony. Stephen is blessing the lives of a lot of people... we will forever be stronger because of him.

It really is such a blessing to know him.

April 17

Not much new to report on. He looked the best today of any day since the accident. He seemed more comfortable. He continues to be very positive and optimistic. I thought there were a lot of smiles... his sense of humor is very alive. Quite a few of his friends came by today. There is a group of 11 here, going back two by two.

The most amazing thing to me today was to watch his determination and focus while doing things the doctor asked him to do. He is very involved in his own healing and recovery. He realizes that real progress is going to be found through consistent hard work. He is amazing in how he is handling this. I have never heard him say the slightest thing which could be construed as negative. He continues to have such an impact on my testimony and my outlook on life.

April 16th

It is a remarkable experience to be with Stephen! He received an incredible blessing today from Elder Costa of the Seventy. The feeling in the room is very positive and uplifting. Stephen's friends continue to come by the hospital offering love, support and faith.

Stephen has had more time awake today, but when he slept, he seemed to be able to sleep deeper. He smiled quite a bit as his mom read his facebook messages. They created a group page for him called, "We love Stephen Merrill."

He moved both arms today and can use pressure to push your hand up and down. He can squeeze a little in one hand. All are small steps forward. The thing that touched me today was how hard he is working and how positive he is. Keep him in your prayers.

April 15th

Stephen looked good and although there wasn't any (or at least not much change, he remains optimistic. He is very quick to express gratitude for visits, thoughts and prayers. He has had some amazing blessing. Keep praying for the small miracles to happen, thus, creating room for the bigger ones!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thanks for your love, support and prayers!

Dear Friends and Family,
As you know, Stephen was involved in an accident on Thursday, April 14th, in which he burst his C4 vertebrae. At the hospital that evening, we were completely in awe of the support that literally overflowed in the waiting room. It was humbling to see so many friends and family members unifying their faith and prayers in his behalf. The emails, Facebook posts, guestbook comments, food, posters, flags, and visits have fortified our faith, strengthened Stephen's resolve and at times have made us all laugh. We wanted to say thank you. It means more than words can convey!

Through this experience, we feel like we are all strengthening our bonds as family and friends and our testimonies are growing stronger through the example Stephen is putting before us. Many of his friends have expressed a desire to somehow be kept up to date on Stephen's progress. We decided to start this blog page so that those who have been such a support to Stephen, though they may find themselves farther away than a visit to the hospital, can remain a part of his healing process. We will write as often as we can. Between the posts, we hope that the faith and prayers in his behalf will continue. Thanks again for being such a crucial part of this journey.