Today was a good day.
No seizures! We are overjoyed! She remains on phenobarbarbital and one other seizure medication, which seem to be working really well today. The doctors have taken her off the antibiotic, since they feel they have taken care of the infection. They will still monitor her white blood cells and other inflammatory markers to ensure that nothing else flares up. One of the doctors mentioned yesterday that sometimes when a patient is on an antibiotic, an infection might be masked and show favorable results. So they are cautious, but really do feel they have gotten it under control.
Today marks one month to the day that Amber went into the hospital. She is much more alert today, and was even awake for nearly four hours this afternoon without going back to sleep. What incredible strength! The pento is working itself out of her system, allowing her to wake up. Although it is still a slow process, she seems to be making progress each day.
She is responding to voices and questions with her eyes and eyebrows. We have wondered if she has been able to see, but today her eyes are now tracking movement! When you speak to her, her eyes will slowly track toward you and it even seems like she is trying to move her head ever so slightly. Greg asked her if she wanted to see a picture of Corbin and Kayla. She responded "yes" with her eyes, but began to cry with a quivering lower lip before he even returned back to her bedside from retrieving the picture from her bulletin board. It seemed clear that she could see that picture and even more clear how much she loves her children.
When the physical therapist came in to work with her, which he has been twice a day every day for the last month, he held her hand and asked her to squeeze. No response. Then Greg encouraged Amber, telling her, “Amber, this is your exercise,” and told her how important it is for her to work hard with the physical therapist. Amber, the determined one, then mustered all her strength and squeezed his hand. I can only imagine how difficult this was for her and am once again amazed by the strength and determination Amber has. She is such a hard worker, always has been.
Throughout the afternoon after the PT's visit, when JP slipped his hand in hers, she squeezed back with both hands and repeated again with her dad. This is clearly a workout for her because she is only squeezing when prompted, but what an amazing achievement today!
Greg and JP introduced her to a few different nurses today, letting Amber know that each has been helping her and taking care of her. Sweet Amber responded, as if to say "thank you" with a smile! Her smiles have increased, but are still a huge effort on her part, as not all the muscles in her face have started working again. But when have you ever known Amber to shy away from something that is hard?
Amber likes to have her feet rubbed, which is no surprise to those who know her well. JP and Greg were taking turns giving her foot massages today and they began to joke back and forth about who gave a better massage. Amber smiled and looked as if she was laughing inside. How wonderful to add humor to the list of emotions she is expressing to us, as she's waking up. Such a wonderful sign.
She is still sleeping a good portion of the day, which is to be expected during this waking up process, especially since she is on the phenobarbital. The doctors are maintaining her temperature at a normal 37°C. She still gets chills and visibly shivers every once in awhile, but they have a warming blanket on her to help keep that under control.
We know that Amber is not yet out of the woods. We still have a long road ahead and a lot still has to happen on that road to recovery, but she seems to be responding and showing some good improvement. The doctors are very pleased with her progress, but are still monitoring her closely. They are still concerned with the possibility of her seizing again and are now focused on seeing gradual improvement in her motor functions, but they remain optimistic and feel that she is doing very well.
She IS doing well. Today was such a good day. For that we are so grateful. Every achievement she makes is a reason to give thanks to our Father in Heaven. He is mindful of Amber and mindful of all of us. We feel His blessings pouring down upon us and hope that you, too, can feel that as you have grown closer to Him in your thoughts and prayers over the last month. He has been with us every step of the way.
As Latter-day Saints, we use the first Sunday of each month as an opportunity to fast. As we have mentioned before, we believe that fasting combined with sincere prayer can strengthen us spiritually, bring us closer to God, and help us prepare ourselves and others to receive His blessings. Tomorrow, we will be fasting for Amber's full recovery, but with a special focus on our gratitude to our Father in Heaven, who has heard every one of our prayers. We invite you to join us. Amber is in His hands and what better hands than His to take care of her. We continue to pray in faith for her full recovery and are so grateful for the progress she is making, undoubtedly, with the constant help from God.
Please know we have been so touched and inspired by you, the many people who are following Amber's situation right now, and supporting her and our family in prayer and thought. We have felt loved and strengthened by those near and far: family, friends, neighbors, and those we have never met. Not one comment on this blog has gone unread. You are an inspiration and strength to us. Thank you so much.