Monday, December 29, 2008

S.O.S Update 12/23

12/23 SOS Update
To members of S.O.S.

December 23 at 9:43pm
Greetings and happy holidays! I hope this email finds you well. I came home and sat down with the last few journalistic updates I did for S.O.S and did some editing and finished with the below novella still in journal style--- but condensing the last week+ and attempting to dictate Sam's strength through this process this just seemed the most senseful. Jump to the bottom for the latest update or read the process if you're one of the many who have been so eager to know and help and keep up to speed on Sam's progress....thank you for your patience in my lengthy response.
And again and again- THANK YOU for SUPPORTING OUR SAM!

Wednesday, December 17, 1:15am
First of all, Sam, his family and I wish to thank you for continuing to keep Sam in your thoughts and prayers, and for continuing to share the site with your friends. The out pouring of love, kindness and generosity in and around and through Sam’s ordeal have been astounding, and the grace being shown via such is not only humbling but encouraging beyond words.

Sam's surgery on Monday, 12/15, was incredibly complicated and intense but ultimately went wonderfully. An arduous 6 hour procedure—yet 2 hours less than expected—the doctor said it couldn't have gone better. The largest of the tumors in the back of Sam’s head was "enormous"- so much so the surgeon could put his whole fist in the hole it left directly above Sam’s brain stem. They were able to remove 98% of the tumor; the remaining 2% will hopefully be destroyed via radiation—the same procedure they’ll use to eradicate the remaining tumors surrounding his ear canal.

Despite his pain and hardship, Sam has remained positive throughout this ordeal. Even on Monday morning, just moments before the surgery, laying in the cold, sterile, fluorescent-lit room, Sam looked up at us, his family—the creases of age and wisdom around his eyes deepened from fatigue and damp with tears of tenderness and fear—and said quietly yet firmly, "We have so much to be thankful for."

Late last night in the ICU, I looked down at Sam who seemed so small and meek laying there in his cramped hospital bed. With his lips chapped and swollen from the feeding tubes, his throat and neck muscles constricted from the pain, straining to breathe and struggling to relieve his extreme discomfort, Sam tried to speak. Barely audible over the hissing of the oxygen tank and the beeping of various monitors all aglow, he asked for some ice to wet his dry lips and dampen his parched pallet. And once again, tears of pain now running down his cheeks, Sam whispered softly, "I am so thankful."

Tonight, it's now just past 1AM and I am sitting beside Sam’s bed. A freezing wind blows noisily outside, a small clock radio on the nightstand, per Sam’s request, softly plays the likes of Chopin and Debussy. Sam has been asleep a few hours now—a brief moment of calm for him amongst these recent weeks of storm, a deserved peace from the past days of chaos and the coming days of difficult recovery. My laptop softly ablaze, I post this message and think...we have so much to be grateful for.
And I am so thankful.

Thurs 12/18- 7pm.
As expected, the days immediately following his surgery have been extremely painful—and emotional—for Sam. By our taking shifts throughout the days and nights, Sam is never without family by his side to help ensure proper care and comfort. It's awesome and moving to watch a family come to arms in such an instinctive manner.

After two days and nights in ICU, Sam has moved to the recovery unit of the neurosurgery unit. Tonight has been a relatively good one and he’s needed less pain meds than before. The doctors and nurses are all astounded at his progress. His mind and thoughts are keen and clear and his dexterity is superb. Within the last 12 hours he has gotten up from his bed, walked with a walker and, true to form, is spending time getting to know all his doctors and nurses and thanking them for their help and attention.

Sam was expected to stay at the hospital for at least another week+ for physical therapy aftercare. But when the doctor saw him today he said he'd likely discharge Sam tomorrow or Saturday. What the?!!? Damn, all of the prayers, thoughts, good wishes and good energy being sent to the “405” (for all you non-Okies, that’s the Oklahoma City area code) are definitely making a HUGE difference. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING OUR SAM! Keep spreading the love and I'll keep you posted.

Monday 12/22/08 5:45pm
Sam was released from the hospital today, just one week after brain surgery—and at least one week sooner than expected. The doctors are blown away by the speed of his recovery. Of course Sam’s family and good friends are not quite as shocked. I say this because throughout his life and ministry, Sam has always been the strong, silent type who always gets the job done. His particular trick is to do so ‘old-school’—under-the-rad
ar, without drawing attention to himself or his actions. So it’s no surprise he’s approached his illness and recovery in the same way—with determination, willfulness, gratitude and without complaint- always without complaint.

When Sarah spoke to Sam earlier today, he told her he was grateful to be going home so soon, especially with Christmas almost upon us. He attributed his good fortune to all the prayers and support he and Jenny have received—and quietly wept. It’s clear he’s incredibly moved and humbled by the outpouring of love and, honestly, probably feels somewhat undeserving. Actually, I know he does. He told us he "doesn't deserve this grace."

The doctors have warned us that despite Sam bouncing back so quickly after surgery, the next phase of his convalescence promises to be long and difficult. Pain will be constant—some days better than others, to be sure—but without immediate relief. Sam will be restricted to bed-rest for at least a month or more and will need constant monitoring and attention, which of course is not his most choice lifestyle ;-). Beginning as early as February, Sam will be in and out of the hospital for radiation to destroy the remaining tumors. Like the surgery itself, this process holds an unseen process for Sam and is of course not something we necessarily look forward to.

At this point extended family is prepared to take turns watching him, and many close friends are selflessly offering to cook, grocery shop and help with other chores (please consult the “Care Calendar” at the bottom of the website). Even with the incredible help daily from friends and family, Jenny will be unable to return to work for the entire length of Sam’s continued treatment and recuperation. Basic living expenses will be difficult to come by, much less Sam’s ongoing—and increasingly overwhelming—medical bills.

But please know that neither I nor other family members—particularly Sam and Jenny—want anyone to feel sorry for them or have pity on their situation. We are completely blown away by the help, support (financially and emotionally and spiritually) and prayers already sent Sam’s way. Many of you have already planned, brought meals, offered transportation, made repairs (including repairing and re-tiling their bathroom!). However, numerous needs will arise—including, of course, Sam and Jenny’s financial obligations. And that's a main part of the lifeline in sending out this "S.O.S" in the first place. And why it has been so freaking amazing thus far...people have answered our call for help. YOU have answered.
So please do whatever you can, and I encourage all of you to ask friends and family members if they might want to help as well. The amount of people that have told me how good it feels to give and share the love thru this opportunity has been mind blowing. And I don't think we even realize yet how far reaching this cause will be.

A lifetime of unparalleled giving returned with exceptional and unexpected giving.
A man whose whole mentality is overrun with love for others returned with unprecedented love from others.
And most of it from men and women whom he's never met...
it doesn't get much more beautiful than that.

I know I speak for the entire family when I say thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU—even though words cannot do justice to how we feel about everything that’s been done on Sam and Jenny’s behalf. I’ll post another update very soon.

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