I wanted to take a moment to share with those who are praying for Pastor Esposito a few blessings, and of course to give God the praise for them. After posting last week that we were told there was no way to get therapy approved, the head of the therapy department came and told me that it was approved for up to ten days. He also told me that unless something extraordinary happens like his learning to brush his own teeth, it wouldn't be continued after that. Then, we will praise the Lord for the ten days! Monday they had him sitting on the edge of the bed practicing picking up his head and leaning on his elbows on either side, and holding onto a chair in front of him and they were trying to get him to pull himself. Tuesday, he was taken to the therapy room for the first time, and they stood him up for the first time in a little more than a year. It was really neat to see him in a standing position. A table keeps his knees from buckling or sliding, but he holds his own weight. He did pretty well at holding his head though he avoids turning to the right (maybe due to the surgeries and shunt on that side?) Today was more sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning, and some new exercises to increase mobility. I am learning new techniques that we can continue to use going forward. Please pray that he will get the most possible from these couple of weeks. I was asked by one of the therapists, "What is your expectation?" How do I answer that question? I was silent at first. Inside I wanted to say if you mean what do I want you to accomplish, "I expect you to get him walking and talking, and help him to be who he was." Then she said, "some families want the patient to be able to shift from a bed to a chair, or make it to the restroom, or to just stand." Just before that conversation, she had told me that because he didn't follow her directions very well, only mine, she wasn't sure she'd go on more than a couple of days (this was occupational therapy – not physical therapy that was doing sitting and standing). I told her that considering he has been lying in a bed for an entire year the fact that they can feel him trying to participate in sitting up and moving some and trying to turn from side to side, etc. is to me very big. I asked her did she not think that if they could work with him and help strengthen him maybe he could do much more. Then she told me she hadn't thought it was a whole year, and that okay, she'd keep on working with him. On a positive note, she did say that he was doing much more than when she last worked with him.
A few more "little" big things. Two of our assistant pastors and one of our members came today and were reminiscing about some funny stories from the past, and you could tell by the expression and attempt to smile that Pastor Esposito was enjoying the fellowship. I appreciate that our pastoral staff have faithfully come to see Pastor Esposito weekly since the start. I believe he knows and appreciates it, and it means a lot to our family as well. Today my son and daughter-in-law placed the baby in my husband's arm, and he picked up his other arm and placed it on the baby as if to hold on to him and gently feel his hand. Another "little" encouraging time was when I was showing my husband a card and telling him about the lady who had sent it who has really gone out of her way to encourage me—a lady I don't know from Louisiana—and another card from a lady in our church. I asked him if he remembered the lady from our church, and he gave me an obvious nod and a lift of the eyebrow. God is so good to continue to give us hope and encouragement through His Word, through little blessings, through wonderful people like those of you reading this update and praying.
Last night I couldn't sleep, and God brought to my mind the verse, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." And recently I have though much of the verse, "I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD." How true. If we get to dwelling on our problems and begin to have a pity party, we will soon faint, but if we will believe enough to look at God's goodness and blessings He sustains us.
Specific Prayer Requests:
Thank you once again for keeping up with our updates and for praying diligently for Pastor Esposito. Yesterday, we went to see the neurosurgeon once again. It was a blessing because though we were told he was out of the contracted group and that I'd have to pay $150 for the visit, by the end of the visit it was approved. I wasn't sure exactly what the purpose was in going. We had gone in June at the three month mark after placing the shunt and this appointment was set at that time. That was the appointment at which Pastor Esposito responded very well, and Dr. Szper had said we needed a physiatrist to try to help "bring him out". We are still waiting for that appointment (scheduled for December) and the neurologist (scheduled for November). We hadn't had any additional CT scans. On the way, I prayed that somehow, some way our visit would bring Dr. Szper closer to salvation through the visit. I don't know how the Holy Spirit worked, but I pray my prayer was answered somehow through our conversation. Dr Szper said my husband had progressed much more than he'd expected from the start, and he asked me questions about my husband's responsiveness. And as usual, once again he reminded me of the medical truth that we don't know how much further progress we will see. He said, "It's stimulation." We talked about therapy coming in and being hopeful and positive, but how (I don't think I've posted this yet.) they have basically said he can't qualify for any therapy (maybe in about 12 years when he is 65). From a medical perspective, Dr. Szper was basically telling me—it's largely about what we can do to try to stimulate and "wake him up" and that still there are no guarantees to what extent his brain will wake up. So within two days we were told from one doctor that it mostly depends upon the therapies, and from the head therapist that he can't qualify for any! Dr. Szper agreed that just maybe the physiatrist will be able to give some additional help and hope. In the mean time we will continue to pray and trust the Lord while we do what we can do.
Please help us to pray for Dr. Szper's salvation. I plan this week to invite him to a special day we are having at our church on November 2nd. Please also pray for a man named Joseph who is being released from the rehab side tomorrow and who promised that he and his daughter will be at our special day. I am also trying to get a Jewish lady named Sarah whose husband is also in the facility to come. She is contemplating coming. She often talks with me and cries. She has no one, her only daughter lives in Israel. There is also a gentleman named Ed who lives in the next door apartment to the nursing center that is seriously thinking of coming as well. He said he grew up in a Baptist home, but went away from church when he left home. He seems like he very well may come. This gentleman sees me walking my husband in the wheel chair as he is often out in the parking lot with his truck. He had told me of losing his wife after she'd been in a facility like this and then had gone home. The front receptionist, Marilyn has promised to come. She lives in Long Beach. There are several others I or my family have invited. Please pray with us. My daughter Susanna and I were driving and talking last night and she spoke about the fact that our lives should be all about winning others to the Lord, and she was telling me how God has been impressing on her that if our focus is on this end the other things that come our way in life won't matter so much. And I added that what does come our way should be a tool toward the end of reaching others for Him, and so I have prayed since the first night that because of our trial, many would come to HIM. Our present goal is to invite all the staff who have cared for my husband, and all of the folks we've gotten to know there (family members of patients) for our special day November 2nd.
Here are a few more updates: The worry of an obstruction in the digestive system seems to have been false. Pastor's blood sugar has been good since the change in the formula that they have fed him. One prayer seems to have been answered—tomorrow my husband will be fitted for his own chair. This has been going around for many months. And I was told that I would have to pay several thousand dollars and now I most likely will not have to pay anything. Our church family took up an offering for that part of the chair, and we hope to purchase a program/device that uses eye tracking to help a person whose mind is there but can't speak to communicate. I hope to get some input on this from the physiatrist as well.
Please continue to pray for wisdom in making right decisions, I have many different thoughts on this or that, or making specific changes and often go back and forth in my thoughts. But I desire God's clear leading in every way (medications, treatments, facilities, etc.) I also appreciate that many people give various ideas and opinions, and I don't want to miss anything God sends along through others, while neither do I want to take any steps He doesn't want me to take. Then, I remember and acknowledge that God alone is the Great Physician, and He alone able to heal Pastor Esposito. I also remember that He wants me to do my part, and I think of Ecclesiastes 11:6, a verse he showed me which gave me peace during one important decision I had to make earlier. This verse reminds me, who knows what the Lord might use! (Now you see why I need prayer for God's direction!)
ABOVE ALL ELSE, Please continue to pray for a miracle that all may "know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this…"
Our family would like to give our sincerest thanks to our wonderful church family and so many people across the country and around the world who have continued to pray for Pastor Esposito for a full year today. I may have mentioned in a previous update, but some of my husband and my favorite verses through the years have been Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think… Unto him be glory…" Though it has been a very difficult year and our hearts have broken, God has shown Himself faithful to do so much more than we could have thought. Here is what I wrote in a card I read to my husband today:
On this 1st anniversary of your AVM rupture, I wanted to remind you I love you, not only just as much but more than ever. I also want to take this day to praise and thank God together for His great goodness during our 28 years of marriage together. I realize very well the Lord could have taken you home a year ago today. It was a miracle you made it to the hospital, a miracle you made it through surgery the first night, and now a thousand plus miracles later, God has allowed us to have you still. Though we don't know exactly what the future holds, I know God has a plan and purpose for you, for us, for our family, and for Pacific Baptist Church. We'll keep trusting, believing, hoping, waiting, and praying until the day He chooses to take us home. I'll be by your side that's the purpose for which I was created (just like Eve).
I brought you two balloons…one "get well" to remind you I'm praying for you day and night…and a red heart to remind King Joseph that his Queen Mary loves him a LOT! And the other side to praise God Who loves us so (It says, "truly God is Good").
I thought of listing all the miracles in order to give God the glory, but it would be a long page! Here's what I would have put only for the miracles of his eyes as little by little God has given us miracles:
And I can go on and tell the "little miracles" in so many areas. His body being able to maintain temperature on its own, breathing on his own, a first yawn or sneeze, response to sound, expression, first movement in the face, a toe and then a foot, then a leg moving, a finger, then hand, then arm…and on and on I could go.
And we are thankful for the many lessons learned and the way God has molded us. I asked my children this evening as we went out to eat together to write down for me just one way that God has worked in their lives this past year. What precious lessons as precious gold from the furnace. For these we give thanks and for a Heavenly Father that loves us enough to take us where we'd never have chosen to go that we might be able to say with Job, "I have heard of thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee."
Thank you once again, and PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR A MIRACLE.
Thank you for praying! Pastor Esposito had physical therapy the day after the last update. Therapy evaluated his range of motion, and he participated somewhat in moving. They sat him up and he did well. Though it took two therapists to get him up, they have a really neat way to use a sheet around the back then tied to his knees to help hold him up. He did really well with trying to pick up his head and look around as well. Besides his ankles needing some extra stretching, they said that he is in good shape. They also said, "He's a strong guy." They were very positive, and said they would work with him for a week to help strengthen him and then teach us to do the same so he could be up like that a couple times per day. Everything was very positive until the following morning when I asked if they were coming and they said we were back to the same basic CNA splinting. They told me it would take a minimum of a month to try to get approval from insurance for the therapists to work with him. That was discouraging, but again we will choose to trust that God's timing is right. In the mean time we are going to try on our own to do the best we can to get him sitting up when we change from one person staying with him to the other while two of us are still there.
Here are a few newer prayer requests
We thought everyone might like to see a couple of pictures from Pastor Esposito's birthday. Thank you for continuing to pray for miracles and more than anything for God's will and God's glory.
Pastor Esposito's 54th Birthday was an eventful one with several visitors during the day, and a family get together this evening including the first grandson – Joseph Esposito III. (Remembering and praising God that the doctor felt that my daughter-in-law couldn't conceive due to a tumor at the base of her brain, and Joseph has been born in direct answer to prayer.) Praise the Lord for another year for Pastor Esposito that according to medical predictions should not have even been.
Much has happened since the last update. Our medical group changed things somewhat, and Pastor Esposito has a new general doctor that will be seeing him weekly. Our first visit was a very thorough one. We discussed the fact that his blood work was out of whack, RBC a little low, blood sugar high, and cholesterol high. (Pastor Esposito was extremely healthy before his illness.) She noticed they had begun a cholesterol medication and asked me if it were okay to stop it since it's bad for the liver and work with his digestive system that to her appeared to be not working correctly since his stomach is distended. She ordered an x-ray of the stomach and blood sugar monitoring. Today was the one week mark. She gave me what appears to be bad news, but with a silver lining. She said he is diabetic. The positive is that they are changing the formula he is fed to a low sugar feeding. That is very good news, and something we have prayed would happen. (I had been told it's extremely hard to get feedings changed.) I wouldn't be surprised if just this change doesn't help greatly. She said that this very well could be affecting the triglycerides as well. But in the end – Praise God for a change in diet which is an answer to prayer!
Another answer to prayer came for Pastor Esposito's birthday, which is also a prayer request, and the reason for this evening's update. Quite a few various staff members of the healthcare center have asked me questions over the past few weeks. "What do 'they' say about his trach?" "Do 'they' sit him up?" "Have 'they' ever tried standing him?" "Is he having therapy?" "Has he been reevaluated?" All the while I have been trying to wait patiently for the physiatrist to do an evaluation and then request some changes or increase involvement - the same way God used the neurosurgeon to order the things we'd been hoping and praying for (one being a physiatrist). There has been a delay in the physiatrist; it's been 3 months since the order – and the appointment is set for December (6 months later).
Then today, my husband's nurse asked about him sitting up. I told her that I can't sit him up myself, and that he hadn't been qualified for therapy. She told me to call her when his splints were off and she'd help me. She came in and we sat him up. She felt him trying in his back. We also asked him to look this way and that, and he did. He tried to squeeze – even with his right hand which still doesn't have very much movement at all. It was really exciting. He was able to have his feet on the floor and his hands beside him on the bed. It seemed to be a very productive time! Then my daughter arrived and I went back to Long Beach. When I arrived back and we were all outside for the birthday get together – the head of therapy came by to tell me that tomorrow they are coming back to evaluate again. WHAT A PERFECT BIRTHDAY PRESENT! Also, the director of nursing staff stopped in the hallway to tell me that they'd discussed his responsiveness and hopefully therapy could take him back on again. Praise the Lord.
It was a long day for Pastor Esposito with a lot of activity. Please pray that he will rest between now and whenever they come in tomorrow and that he will have the strength and mental capacity to do what they want to see so that they can take him on again. I believe they said two different therapists will come.
One other blessing – I posted a large card up on the hanging tv. Pastor Esposito's eyes again went from section to section where folks had written him Birthday notes. Wasn't too long ago that his eyes didn't even open, and then were not able to work together. In fact his medical records state that he "blew" an eyeball right in front of the doctors eyes on the night of the rupture. I don't know to what extent he sees – but he definitely tries to read, and tracks, and follows.
Praise God for the way He strategically in His time and in His way unfolds His plan and purpose in our lives. A few days ago while sitting in traffic on the way to the hospital I felt impatient. As we often do, I tried a couple lane changes which got me nowhere. It was as if the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that this is how I act in life often. I want to impatiently make things happen that I can do nothing about but patiently trust in the Lord. Stay on the road He's placed us on, and in His time we will get where He is taking us. As I was leaving tonight a gentleman I've talked with frequently (a patient) was talking to another patient, and he said, "Mary, isn't that right that there can be miracles and cures even though they say there are none, and you just never know?" I was able to share what God's done for us. How perfect is His timing. Thank you for your faithful prayer and care.
Please continue to pray for miracles.
Thank you once again for your faithful prayer. Please forgive the time between updates. Pastor Esposito has been stable, and has shown more alertness and responsiveness, little by little as we "trust in the Lord" and "wait patiently for him." Sometimes it's hard for us to see the extent of improvement since we are with him from morning til night, but everyone who comes to see him and hasn't been here for a bit notices. And we do too when we stop to think and thank the Lord. My children were excited the other evening as Joanna asked her dad to wave to her, and he picked up his hand and tried. Nathaniel said, "I remember when Dad couldn't do anything." Praise God.
Pastor's feeling on the right side seems very slowly to be coming back. An X-ray and labs were drawn to check for pneumonia, and the tests came back good. There is some damage to one lung, probably from the initial respiratory failure and several bouts of pneumonia, but he breathes on his own, and is making some progress by wearing the PMV valve several times a week to strengthen his lungs more and improve his cough and swallow. His swallow is definitely improving.
Please continue to pray specifically
At 10:00 PM a couple of nights ago, I got into an accident with the three youngest children in the car while returning from the healthcare center. The following morning I needed to tell Pastor Meyers since the vehicle is a car purchased for my husband in the church name. I asked him if he wanted the good or bad news first. He asked if the good negates the bad, and I said probably not. Then I told him. The same day there were several other problems that arose, including a call from my son with a flat tire, and a home alarm stuck on, and our bus not making it up the mountain for a retreat my other son was in charge of. Several things came to my mind. One thing that came to my mind was that other than having to tell Bro. Meyers about the car, "none of these things moved me." Yet trials have a way of changing our perspective on life and showing us that what typically would have stressed us isn't really that important after all. And you find God can give peace in the midst of the storm. Another thing I thought of was that really, in a way, the good really does negate the bad. I told my children way back that God had been so good to me. I'd had 28 great years with my husband and a wonderful marriage. How could I complain. I like to walk and push my husband in the wheel chair as they lift him up and into the chair for three hours daily now. We pray together. I pray aloud and push. I thanked the Lord once again for His great goodness, and I asked my husband how many couples get the privilege of serving in one church for 25 years with the greatest people in the world, of having 8 children who love the Lord and want to serve Him, again of having the best marriage I ever knew of (of course I am biased)
God really is good and in my eyes, the good really does negate the bad.
I don't mean for this to be a personal devotional site, that wasn't the purpose of beginning it rather an update on how to pray for Pastor Esposito, and a way to praise God and give Him the glory for all He has done. But I thought maybe anyone going through a hard time may be helped by a lesson God impressed upon my heart which I shared at a class ladies fellowship last Saturday that relates. Here are the notes.
Once again we would like to thank you for your continual prayer for Pastor Esposito. Overall, the last couple weeks we have seen more alertness and responsiveness than any previous weeks. It is clear that Pastor Esposito understands but is very limited in his ability to respond. Most of the staff at the facility have now noticed his ability to communicate without speech and now talk with him expecting response. Respiratory therapists ask him if he wants to be suctioned. One asks him to "blink rapidly." The blinks are very obvious. Another asks for a nod or shake of the head. The response is minimal but recognizable. A physical therapist that I had gotten to witness to previously, stopped on the patio to talk with us and asked him if he could shake her hand, and he lifted his left hand toward her. She said, "Maybe soon we can take you back on." I am not saying that at any moment we can ask questions and get a response. I don't feel he has the physical energy and sometimes just looks at me and I wonder what he is thinking and then guess what he needs. But there are many more times than previously that he does respond. I try to keep my requests for response to a minimum so as to not exert too much energy from him. I did joke with him last week that he is probably thinking, "Now my wife finally understands how hard it sometimes is for a husband to try to figure out what his wife is thinking."
There have been quite a few circumstances recently where it seemed to various people that he attempted to speak. Without the speaking valve attached, he would not be able to have an audible voice, but he tries to move the nerves around the lips ever so slightly. Again, there is a physical limitation and it is very minimum, but it's a try whereas before there was nothing. I requested once again to know whether we can begin to regularly put in the speaking valve. It's been very sporadic. I'd like to ask for it daily if they feel it safe to do so. The nurse practitioner is going to seek advice from his pulmonologist.
We have a daily checklist/schedule we use during "wake times." It includes many things, on being a video modeling program for speech that we were recommended to try from an outside source as well as viewing his previous sermons. The premise is that the video modeling will help the brain remember how to speak with the mouth the words that are there in the mind while refreshing the memory on forgotten words. The facility is full of people who seemingly understand what's going on but who can't speak.
Praise the Lord Pastor Esposito is also able to be in a wheel chair daily for 3 hours, which is very nice. We get to take him for a walk, or sit under a cool shade tree. This is prevents bedsores which can be very serious, and helps strengthen his lungs. The last couple weeks he has seemed a bit weak in his lungs and for a bit one side was swollen again (an explanation was never found for that other than one lung was holding more oxygen). He hadn't been coughing the mucus up as much as he was and has needed more suctioning. The last few days have seemed better. It's frightening to hear what pneumonia has done to many patients there who were on the road to recovery at one time. It seems to be the great downfall of many, and one of the main concerns of not swallowing and coughing adequately, besides being in a lying position for prolonged periods.
Our family would like to thank you once again for your faithful prayer for Pastor Esposito. Thank you also for cards and e-mails that encourage our hearts. As I listened to Philippians while driving recently, the verse where Paul said that his bonds were known in the palace and all other places stood out. In prison, Paul's part in ministry seemingly come to a halt. Word spread to "all other places". I thought of how the word of Pastor Esposito's illness has spread around the world and so very many people tell us of those who pray (many of whom we don't know) for him, our family, and church. Many follow the updates and listen to his preaching now via the church website, etc. My son Daniel told him one day that perhaps this has fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel (he didn't say those exact words) because many people now "know" him and are listening to his preaching and that his illness had stirred in many hearts a desire not to let the vision Pastor Esposito believed God gave him in many areas die.
Before you enter a deep trial, it's hard to imagine that you can thank God. It definitely is not easy to thank God when your heart breaks and you so deeply miss your best friend of 28 years; but I do praise Him for the many ways that He's allowed us to rejoice in suffering. Many times God has just opened my eyes for a split moment in given situations to say, "You prayed for this." Though I wouldn't have wanted the answer to prayer in this way, He is using this situation to work in many ways and accomplish things my husband and I both desired for HIM.
I had begun an update a couple days ago with my main praise being that we'd been lowering the Keppra level for seizures, and he'd not had any seizures. Last night when my oldest son Joseph and my youngest son Nathaniel were there, Pastor Esposito had a seizure. Please pray for wisdom in whether or not to return to previous levels, and/or the doctor would give approval to try a natural medication Dr. Paik gave us.
I don't think that I was one to want to "be in charge" in our marriage, though in all of us there are times we feel we know best. But I loved my husband's leadership. Our family and people would tell you that he has always been a very good leader. I miss that, and wish he could speak and give me direction. But please pray that I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not unto my own understanding (acknowledging Him in all ways) and He will direct our paths (right decisions for my husband's benefit and for God's glory.
Please pray the same for the leadership and people of Pacific Baptist Church. Prayer that we'd just keep on going faithfully and fulfill our theme for 2014—to Glorify God.
Thank you once again.
Mrs. Joe Esposito
"Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer"
Thank you so very much for your continued prayer for Pastor Esposito.
It has been a little over two weeks since the neurologist began to lower the seizure medication. For the first two weeks it was lowered from 1500 to 1000, and this week to 500. Please pray that there will be no seizures, and that he will have increased responsiveness. His next appointment with the neurologist will be in October, but will be with the neurologist he saw at the start last October. At that time we plan to ask approval to try some other natural things recommended to us.
The appointment for the physiatrist is still pending. The case manager asked, "Who ordered a physiatrist? We typically don't do that here." That was confirmation once again that it was God who directed the appointment with the neurosurgeon who ordered a physiatrist involvement. We pray the appointment will be approved and made in God's time with the right doctor and that we will receive helpful direction. At a conference on brain injury, the speaking physiatrist (in a session titled Why You Need a Physiatrist) spoke and encouraged families to be patient and not use up options too early without giving proper healing time. He also stated that more isn't always better. Sometimes it's time that is needed not a new treatment and that the old belief that if function isn't back by 6-12 months it will never return is not true. Improvement can happen for a long time with proper stimulation.
Thank you also for praying for the lungs, cough, and swallow. He has gotten much better at clearing his throat himself and is back to infrequent suctioning. We even were able to experiment on Tuesday with the speaking valve, and today will try it again. He did have to be suctioned several times while wearing it, but hopefully it will get better. A patient begins with a trach with a small balloon inflated in the throat. First, the balloon is deflated allowing some air to go through the nose and mouth, but breathing is still mainly in and out through the trach. This was done some time ago. When the valve is placed, the patient breathes in through the trach but out through the mouth and nose (and vocal cords). While the valve is on they aren't able to cough into the trach. If fluid is heard, it is removed by suction to prevent secretions from going into the lungs. Please continue to pray that Pastor will be able to have a strong cough and swallow. This would be really a big step forward. His swallow reflex has improved a lot as well; though sometimes isn't automatic. For example when having his teeth brushed, we ask him to swallow. He does so (a step for which to praise the Lord), but not on his own sometimes.
Here is a picture Cindy Yu took of Pastor Esposito. She had told him that she knew she was talking too much; but when he gets well he will talk, and she will be quiet and listen. She captured a smile on camera. God is good to always encourage us with hope!
Sometimes it's easy to not want to allow yourself to hope, but Scripture says, "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation."
Mrs. Joe Esposito
"Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer"
After transporting Pastor Esposito to the neurologist to be told they don't see patients on gurneys (the third transport mistake in the last two weeks). The doctor was kind enough to lock the waiting room, and see us in the waiting room. He agreed it was safe to try lowering the seizure medications little by little. He declined comment on the items recommended by the nutritionist (the facility doctor felt one of them might interfere with the seizure medication and asked me to confer with the neurologist), stating that he isn't trained in that area and doesn't know enough about them to recommend them which is understandable. For now, I am going to take this as from the Lord and see what happens with the other being reduced. There is still an appointment pending with the neurologist who saw Pastor back in the beginning at the first hospital. I hope to have more information to present and see if he will look at it and give an opinion at that time as to whether it would be okay to try along with whatever he is taking at the time. I have been recommended many different things by many different people. I want to try anything that potentially the Lord could have sent my way, but I also want to be safe and not try to be a doctor, since I am not. I don't want to cause other problems by causing contradictions. I am thankful that the facility doctor has been very open minded while being reasonably cautious.
The doctor didn't spend more than half a minute looking at Pastor Esposito since it took so long figuring out how he'd see him at all or if we'd need to reschedule. But I am thankful for the prospect of lowering the Keppra. That has been a prayer, we just wanted a doctor's okay. Please pray it goes well and that it helps him not to be so tired and weak.
Thank you so much for praying. Thank you to the Pacific Baptist Church family for staying faithful. What a blessing and encouragement that is to our family! (Tuesday night we were encouraged by the crowd out soul winning in the middle of summer—an average of 200 over the last few weeks.)
Yesterday Pastor Esposito's appointment was actually a follow up with the surgeon who did the surgery a couple weeks ago, not the neurology appointment. The doctor said he looked very much better than when he'd seen him, and seemed to be healing well. Tomorrow is the appointment with the neurologist who saw him at the hospital and did the EEG. This isn't the appointment the neurosurgeon requested—that is still pending as well as the visit to a physiatrist (not psychiatrist). I do plan to ask about potentially lessening the seizure medication. Pastor Esposito did have a few moments the other day of what I called a tremor throughout his whole body, but the nurse felt it was probably muscle spasm.
There are also two types of natural medications (maybe that's an oxymoron) recommended to me by Dr. Streeter from Hammond. The general doctor at the facility gave me permission today for those to be used, however told me that I need to talk with the neurologist tomorrow as she was concerned as to the interference with the seizure medication. I also was given another natural medication to prevent seizures by Dr. Paik from our church. I had hoped to replace the seizure medication with what he had given me (though he made sure I understood not to just drop the seizure medication but to gradually reduce it but to go ahead and add the other.)
Thank you for your continued prayer. Pastor Esposito finished his antibiotic for pneumonia but won't be tested for another week. Tomorrow, Monday the 30th, he will see the neurologist who saw him recently while in the hospital and ordered an EEG while there. Please pray that this appointment goes well. He has been a bit sleepy since surgery, but that is to be expected. As for what's new, his right hand, leg and foot seem to be having more movement, though still slight.
Thank God for continued small signs of His working. God is good, all the time.
PRAISE THE LORD! Pastor Esposito had an appointment today with the neurosurgeon. This was a follow up to the placing of the shunt. I had been praying that by this appointment the surgeon would see progress and that God would be glorified. Before leaving via medical transport in the morning, I explained to Pastor Esposito that the doctor he was going to see was, humanly speaking, the doctor that had saved his life the first night he went into the hospital. I also explained that it would be really neat if he could see that he's getting better, and I asked if he'd please respond where the doctor asked him to do so. (This is the same doctor who had given us the very bad news the first night, as well as one of the doctors who discouraged the surgery to remove the AVM. Also the doctor who said we could try the shunt.)
We arrived in the room – my husband on the gurney inside a small room. Last time we transported him there, the doctor hadn't even checked him at all, but to say he could only offer the shunt. Anyway, he said hello to my husband, who turned his eyes toward the doctor. Dr. Spears said that was good, and "If you can hear me, please close your eyes." Immediately Pastor Esposito closed his eyes, and the doctor told him he could open them. He then put two fingers above my husband and asked him to track his fingers from side to side, which he did. (He's only done that once or twice for me all the way across.) The doctor asked me if he can move his hands and fingers. I said yes, and he put up two fingers and asked, "Can you give me two fingers?" I thought "No, he definitely can't do that." Then he mustered all his strength as if trying to lift his left hand, and lifted up his thumb and forefinger. Dr. Spears surprisingly said, "He's definitely trying." Then he talked with me a bit and then asked my husband, "Do you remember the old Virginia Slims commercial, 'You've come a long way baby'? Do you remember that?" At that my husband raised his eyebrow. We talked a bit more and then he asked Pastor to give him "thumbs up." His left thumb which he moves more often quivered, but the right thumb went clearly up—another thing that doesn't typically happen. The most is that when I've asked him to move the right side fingers, you see the nerves trying but unable.
This was clearly God enabling as he never has followed so many commands all in a row like this. And it was especially exciting to me that Dr. Spears was the doctor today. My husband has been responding in lots of these ways occasionally, but this was God's timing to do it all at once for the doctor. The doctor seemed pleasantly surprised. From this meeting, Dr. Spears asked me who the physiatrist is and I had said that there wasn't one, and also who the neurologist is, and again one has not been seeing him. He said that he is definitely responding and there needs to be stimulation and some rehab to help bring him out. He repeated that he doesn't know how much potential there is but that there is potential. He also asked me if he had gone to a neuro rehab or directly to subacute care. The latter is the case. He put in an order for an appointment to both a physiatrist and a neurologist. He said he needs to be evaluated and receive rehab if he's going to go further.
A couple days ago I responded to a text someone sent me with "God's will, God's way, God's time." What happened today is what we have hoped. For the first time, we received reinforcement that something proactive needs to be done (though we have definitely tried to be proactive ourselves). I couldn't have orchestrated it in a better way. Now we have direct orders from Dr. Spears for both of the doctors we wanted involved.
Please pray for those two appointments, God's continued direction, and wisdom going forward. There are several places that specialize in neuro-rehab, but up to this point they had told me "not yet." I kept impatiently trying to find more answers, and seeking for something new, and it kept seeming that God was telling me I wanted but it wasn't time for. Each time He'd have to quiet me down, in a sense, and give me contentment where we were until He opened other doors. Quite a few times it was as if I had to take my Isaac again and lay him down to wait. How many, many times have I whispered to my husband, "Trust in the Lord…and wait patiently for Him".
Of course there is a very, very long way to go, and we don't know exactly what the future holds. But for today, I just want to thank the Lord for showing HIMSELF STRONG in the midst of our great weakness and for giving us a renewed glimpse of His hope.
Thank you for praying so faithfully.
The Esposito Family
P.S. Thank you to Bro. Clayton Shumpert for such an encouraging message to our church Sunday night.
Pastor Esposito is doing much better. His heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels are good. His white blood cell count is coming down. Today, he will be discharged from the hospital to return to Huntington Valley Healthcare Center on continued antibiotics for remaining infections. Praise God for the apparent seizure (it hasn't been able to be confirmed whether it was or wasn't an actual seizure) which at first so discouraged us as it was probably the trigger that ended up saving his life at this point and causing us to know that there was a much more serious hidden problem. Had it not been for that seizure and blood drawn, we wouldn't have known how high the white blood cell count was, and possibly would have treated the other symptoms as a flu or something not really knowing the urgency or seriousness of the situation, nor the pain he was facing. Thank God for His blessings in disguise. We're reminded once again that God sees the storm from the other side! As one of our children stated, "God is teaching me to trust Him sooner!" (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Pastor Esposito's surgery went well last night. Praise the Lord for one single verse of Scripture that gave us peace about surgery when we were wavering on it. The doctor came out and said the gallbladder already had become gangrene. This explains how very sick he was. Praise the Lord all went well! This morning he is resting peacefully, and his numbers are all very good. It is obvious he is feeling much better.
Today we will receive results of the EEG and CT Scan relating to seizure. More labs were taken this morning as well. There will also be a couple more tests today to make sure there is no other blockage or infection in the digestive system. Also, we are told some pneumonia remains and potentially the lungs are partially collapsed at the bottom (I don't completely understand yet.). Please pray for this to clear up finally.
Thank you for praying faithfully and being a great blessing to our family and church. May God bless you abundantly.
Mrs. Joe Esposito
Praise the Lord for His goodness!
Pastor Esposito has been hospitalized. He has a urinary track infection, an inflamed gallbladder, a fever with cold sweat, and what seems to have been a seizure. Also, his blood pressure and heart rate are high. An EEG is being done. He may potentially have surgery for his gallbladder.
Please pray for Pastor Esposito. He had a moderate seizure late this afternoon. (We had high hopes to begin weaning off the seizure medication next week. God has other plans, so we will continue to trust Him.)
Thank you once again for reading Pastor Esposito's updates and for continuing to pray. The culture for pneumonia was positive, and he has just completed a series of powerful antibiotics and multiple lab tests. An x-ray will be repeated this week. We also had the CT scan done and received results, which we will take to the Neurosurgeon June 16th. The report reads "There is mild decrease in ventricular size since the previous exam. No intracranial hemorrhage. Previously described changes within the right cerebral hemisphere appears stable." Any decrease is good—praise the Lord. This week ultrasound was done to try to figure out why there has been swelling on one side of the chest. We have not received results yet.
Here are a few changes we have noticed:
· Pastor Esposito has been swallowing more often. Thank you for continuing to pray specifically for this.
· He has begun to look in a downward and upward position, which previously he had not done.
· Staff has begun to notice alertness whereas only family noticed it before
· He attempted to stick out his tongue for Dr. Paik, from our church, as well as for me when I offered him a lick of mango and ice cream.
I must admit after 8 months that my mind goes in many directions when I contemplate what to type as an update. Sometimes I wait for something "new" to share, and often we are just thankful for "stable", and the prayer requests remain the same.
Sometimes I hesitate to mention little things because they don't move Pastor Esposito to any new "levels" and I'm sure some who understand brain injury wonder if we are blind to facts or not being realistic or whether we understand fully how unpredictable (or unlikely in the perspective of some), or at best - simply slow recovery is when brain damage is concerned. Of course we do, we've listened to the doctors from the start; read and researched signs and symptoms, etc. We realistically keep in mind that he had a rupture, very severe hemorrhage, as well as stroke, long term coma, and remaining damage and that we left the hospital with a worst case prognosis. Nor do we forget we've been told that recovery can stop at any point.
Then we hear testimonials of a man who was brain dead and now plays basketball. One who was supposed to be removed from life support but the family waited one more week and his fingers moved. Then by two years later had almost full recovery. Then we hear of another man whose family was being asked to donate organs, he later spoke at a brain injury conference. Or the 15 year old girl in a severe accident, declared dead on the sight because her brain virtually split. She also spoke at the same conference. And yet another lady who had a severe bleed andin a coma heard the doctors discussing the fact she'd not make it. She later wrote a book telling how it felt like she was in a "glass coffin." Of course these give some sense of hope.
Then there's the Brain research side of things—new studies on the "plasticity of the brain." This basically is a premise that the brain has the ability to heal and also that parts of the brain can make up where others are damaged with proper stimulation. It also throws out old theories that if the brain hasn't awaken or healed in 6 months, it never will (Perhaps it never did, because people believed it never could and so never tried.).
Once all these thoughts have spun around in my mind, and I've prayed, God reminds me of the same truths once again. That God is good! It is God who has designed the brain so wonderfully complex. This is the reason why man is still searching to understand it. (I never liked science, but it really is pretty amazing to study.) That God is still in control, no matter what medical or scientific "facts" we choose to believe. That He alone is the Great Physician, and ANY healing will be according to His will, and in His timing. That He alone is our only real hope.
So in the mean time, we will praise HIM for every "mild" change he allows. (Psalm 106:1) Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Please continue to pray for a great Miracle "That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it." (Isaiah 41:20)
As I sit at the foot of Pastor Esposito's bed I wanted to take a moment to thank the Lord for His goodness. It's easy to be impatient and focus on what is not happening rather than praising God for what He has done and is doing—rather than trusting in the Lord and waiting patiently for HIM. I was thinking how MANY of the patients here very often are taken back in and out of the hospital—as it is very easy for trach patients to develop pneumonia. The man in the next bed said he'd had pneumonia 18 times and had his "last rights" read to him thrice. He was sent back to the hospital again not doing very well. Please pray for him, his name is Larry – we witnessed to him a couple times. He didn't get saved yet. Praise the Lord since Pastor Esposito was released from the hospital in November, his only re-admittance to the hospital was to have the shunt placed. His health has been very stable. We also thank the Lord that Pastor is being allowed to be lifted into a chair four times per week now for several hours. Soon he will be increased to daily. He was having swelling in the feet when in the chair, and that seems to have improved greatly.
Please pray for the following:
I also would like to praise the Lord for allowing me 28 wonderful years married to Pastor Joe Esposito, as our anniversary is this Saturday. How many ladies have had the privilege of a long and blessed marriage as I have had? I told the Lord the first night Pastor was in surgery that He'd given us 27 great years and if He chose to take him home that night – how could I complain? Here is the card I have sitting on my desk which I intend to read to him on Father's Day (I haven't chosen an anniversary card yet):
"For My Husband with Love"
If I could go back in time, would I do it all over again?
Would I take the bad with the good, the tears with the laughter, the hurts with the joys
Even though things aren't always perfect, I wouldn't trade one minute of our life together…
And if I could go back in time, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to do it all over again – with you.
Happy Fathers' Day –
I Love YOU
Thank you to the hundreds and maybe thousands of people who have been praying for Pastor Esposito, our church, and our family. We know that many of you do not even know our church or family, but have been praying; and we thank you. We also thank the many friends (long-time and new) who have been following the updates and praying.
We thought that this video would be a blessing to many. For 25 years Pacific Baptist Church has had a vision to see the next generation raised up for Christ, our city won, and laborers trained to plant churches both here in California and the "uttermost parts of the earth." Pastor Esposito felt that God gave him the vision of seeing our new building used to help us do that in a greater way. This video was played at our recent Dinner Series in preparation for our Offering Sunday on May 18th. It recaps what God has done in the last 25 years and the dream for which Pastor Esposito hoped, prayed, and worked.
We pray it is a blessing to you!
We wanted to share a brief specific prayer request. The respiratory therapist today said they would experiment in placing the speaking valve on Pastor Esposito. This makes it so that he breathes in from the trach and is still on the oxygen, but is forced to breathe out from his mouth/nose. The hope was that he would do well on this over the weekend and then try it capped at the first part of the week. However, he looked distressed, and it was taken off and the mucus in the throat had gathered at the entrance of the valve—needing to be suctioned. The RT said that he can't continue if he won't cough it up when there is mucus in the throat as he'd surely end up with pneumonia. He then decided to just put it on temporarily for a bit to hopefully help him to progress a little, but only when we are there for periods during the day.
Please pray specifically for his cough and swallow reflexes to improve. It would be a HUGE step for him.
Thank you very much for continuing to pray for a miracle for Pastor Esposito and for checking the update page. We continue to see small signs at different times that Pastor Esposito is cognizant of his surroundings, and though inconsistent—new small changes. His awareness comes and goes. When asked to say "comb" yesterday, he tried hard to lip it. You may ask him multiple times in a day and not get a response; but we thank the Lord when he does and can tell it is intentional. We are going to talk with the neurosurgeon about potentially removing some of the medication that would make him tired and weak. They had said to revisit it at 6 months, and it has been just about 7 months now since the first day. We are also considering moving him closer to home.
We returned to the Huntington Valley Healthcare Center to be discouraged the first week by little wake time (in contrast to much in the hospital) and little responsiveness to therapists (again a contrast to the first week in the hospital). Therapy withdrew again. The last couple weeks have been more encouraging. His eyes moved back and forth when the Bible was placed before him. While taking him on a walk in the wheelchair April 8th, I asked, "Can you see that bird up in the tree?" He looked all the way up and watched the bird. He has begun to help pull his legs up and press down when we ask him to participate during exercises. I kissed him one day and asked, "Can you kiss me back?" The nerves in his lips crinkled. He did the same when I asked for a goodbye. For the first time the doctor noticed his tracking. We praise God for what I call little miracles, and continue to pray for a big miracle while believing "He (God) giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25) And we choose daily to surrender all and accept that He knows best…because "Truly God is good." (Psalm 73:1) And we "rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him."
Thank you for your continued prayer! It means the world to us.
P.S. I think maybe we misquoted the numbers for the coma scale on the previous update, but either way it was an improvement. (There are various scales used to rate comas.)
We thank you for your patience in our delays in posting. Thank you for your continued faithful prayer for Pastor Esposito and encouragement to us. Here is a recap of the last two weeks including the surgery:
What we know:
Specific Prayer Requests:
Good Afternoon. This is a quick update on Pastor Esposito's condition as of today. He is currently still at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.
Thank you very much for continuing to pray for Pastor Esposito. We continue to ask the Lord for a miracle.
Pastor Esposito is currently staying at Long Beach Memorial Hospital for recovery from surgery and monitoring. He will be discharged on Sunday, if there isn't anything that prevents or changes it. Some simple updates are below:
Thank you so much for praying for the surgery, as well as for our family and church family. Please continue to pray for a miracle, and most of all, that the Lord might be glorified through it all.
By His Grace,
The Esposito Family
A few days before the surgery, Pastor Esposito went to Long Beach Memorial for a CT scan. The Ct scan showed that there hadn't been improvement in fluid build up, but did show that there was not hydrocephalus. It did show softening of some tissue where the fluid was being retained as well as some enlargement. Also seen was some tissue damage in the central part where the two sides of the brain connect. There is no bleeding and no new damage seen. Please pray for continued healing- and of course for a miracle from the great physician.
Today Pastor Esposito had his CT scan in preparation for Thursday's surgery to place a shunt to drain fluid from the brain. Please pray for good results on the CT scan, and for the surgery. Specifically:
As far as the potential seizure, labs were done to verify that the anti—seizure medication levels were accurate, and they came back good. Nothing else was done to verify it was in fact a seizure, and the medications are still elevated. We are pursuing that with the neurosurgeon who will do the surgery this Thursday. We dropped off the cd's today to him….and mentioned this to the nurse. We expect a call tomorrow.
We praise the Lord still for small little signs of cognizance and for continued general health and stability. We praise the Lord for the staff and people of Pacific Baptist Church who have just kept on going faithfully for the Lord and in so doing encourage our hearts! We also thank the Lord for showing us His love in so many ways through HIS wonderful people across the country and around the world. Thank you so much for your continued prayer.
In His Hands,
The Esposito Family
Good evening, and thank you for your continued prayers for Pastor Esposito. This evening, we have a special prayer request, as one of the nursing staff called and informed us that they believe Pastor Esposito had a seizure this evening. They walked in and saw that he was shaking and had hunched a little over to his side. This is shortly after one of the nurses had asked him to blink twice if he was in discomfort or pain, to which he responded with two blinks. They have currently increased his dosage of seizure medication, and will be monitoring him through the night, as well as doing blood work in the morning. Please pray for his health and continued improvement, for wisdom for the medical staff, and his upcoming surgery, and that the Lord might be glorified through everything that is done. Thank you once again for your prayer, support, and encouragement. Have a good night.
Surgery has been rescheduled for March 13th. Pastor Esposito will be admitted to Long Beach Memorial Medical center on March 12th for CT scan and discussion with the doctor. Our prayer would be that there would be significant improvement such that they would determine surgery is not necessary; however, the doctor doesn’t expect the hydrocephalus to be corrected without surgery.
Having read 245 pages of the 6140 page chart from the initial 40 days at the hospital we are reminded of God’s miraculous power thus far. We read statements like, “barely alive” or that he wasn’t expected to make it off the operating table the first night. We read “poor prognosis” and that all signs, symptoms, stroke scales, coma scores, etc. pointed toward a worst case scenario for recovery. Then we sit in the room or walk around the property with Pastor Esposito placed in a wheel chair to change positions and get some sunshine and fresh air or talk with him in the room…and are reminded that everything up to today has been God’s sustaining power. And we thank Him for all He has done and continue to pray for continued miracles. Pastor Esposito shows what we believe to be (I always add that since doctors don’t consider anything significant until he responds consistently to specific requests and that this could only be a permanently vegetative state) little improvements week by week. He has begun to turn his head slightly, and tries to nod occasionally. He moves his legs some reflexively toward his body perhaps in response to discomfort – but he moves them. His face has small hints of expression, and we have asked him to smile on a couple of occasions and have seen the slightest bit of a nerve moving in his lip, slight - yet it is distinct. He definitely is able to turn his eyes and head toward visitors. Yesterday I put on “Someone is Praying for You” and a tear rolled down his cheek. I spoke with him about needing specific response so that we can get to the point of removing the trach and going home. He instantly and quickly turned his head (to the right which he typically doesn’t do) to give me what we call an intent look (we have all had those moments with him where he seems “right there with us”). Last night our youngest son sat by him in his bed with a video on and as they watched together, Nathaniel said, “Two tears rolled down Dad’s cheek. Mom, I remember in the hospital when he couldn’t open his eyes at all.” As our granddaughter was there yesterday on her birthday, we told Grandpa she is now two years old. He looked at her and opened his mouth as if to say, “Wow, where has the time gone?” So while we listen to the caution of the doctors not to have too high of expectations (under the circumstances), we continue to pray to our God of miracles, and remember that everything we have is a miracle already. Being “in this place” is a miracle. And we praise and thank Him for what He HAS done. And we trust in His will, knowing that He knows best. And we follow Him day by day, holding His hand and allowing Him to carry us through to the place where HE chooses.
Mrs. Joe Esposito
Pastor's shunt procedure is scheduled for February 26th. Please pray for the operation and for Dr. Szper who will be performing the surgery. Thank you for your continual prayer!
Tuesday, Jan. 4th I met with the neurosurgeon once again about going forward with the surgery to place a shunt to drain fluid from Pastor Esposito’s brain. We are in the process of scheduling the surgery. The ventricular cavities of his brain are enlarged, leading the doctor to believe that there is hydrocephalus – meaning the fluid in the brain is not flowing properly. The purpose of the shunt would be to try to correct the flow, prevent further damage, and perhaps allow more improvement. (As always he made sure to remind me not to have high expectations since there are no promises.)
We will post an update when we know the scheduled date for the surgery.
Two weeks ago the doctor thought perhaps there was pneumonia. The x-ray was clear, but another was scheduled since they heard something abnormal. Last week the x-ray, I was told, showed everything was fine. Today they came and said they were there to do x-ray again. Later a nurse came in to give me the results. He said, “The x-ray is much better than last week, and so we don’t think there is infection and the lung is not collapsed.” In spite of occasionally being a little frustrated with communication, we are very thankful Pastor is in a place where they are quick to check up on things like this and follow up. Please pray for continued good health of the lungs.
Thank you for continuing to pray with us. Pray for a miracle “That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it.” Isaiah 41:20
Mrs. Joe Esposito
Thank you for praying for Pastor Esposito and Pacific Baptist Church. God has been very good to us. He has brought us a very long way. Please continue to pray for a miracle, as we have a very long way to go.
As best we can tell from our research, Pastor Esposito is in what is called a minimally conscious state. Sometimes his actions/reactions seem to fluctuate between what looks vegetative and what seems to be minimally conscious. There are times it seems very clear that he is "with us" and other times it seems more of a distant stare or unawareness. There really are no real answers doctors can give at this point. (After a stroke, someone not "awake" and most of all interactive is labeled as permanently vegetative after 12 months. With drowning or some other types of trauma, it is after 3 months. Brain research and the ability of the brain to heal is something that doctors do not yet fully understand. We've done a LOT of research, and find that medical science is only at the edge of understanding the complexity with which God made the human brain. In fact, the state of being minimally conscious is a relatively new understanding of brain injury. We do find a multitude of testimonials of folks who continued to improve for many years in spite of doctors predicting otherwise.)
For now it is a matter of the verse that I quote in my husband's ear over and over, "Trust in the Lord and wait patiently for Him". And all the while we pray and beg God for a miracle, we seek any tips we can find on helping someone in his state. My husband used to quote "work as if it all depends on you, and pray as if it all depends upon God (and it does)". We do many things.…exercise him three times per day, use ice to try to provoke movement, show him many pictures, allow him to watch himself preach online, use massage we were taught may help brain fluid, read/play Scripture, play music, give him fish oil, allow him to smell scents, use alkaline water, give a brain formula of vitamins, use a brain training program online, and so forth. Anything we can find that might help, we incorporate into his daily schedule. During his limited "awake" time, we try to squeeze in everything we can fit in that may cause the neurons in the brain to reconnect, and when he closes his eyes, we let him sleep as undisturbed as possible, since sleep is vital to healing. (This is one reason we have limited visits for the time being, though we plan to schedule visits again in the near future.)
One blessing has been to be able to lift Pastor Esposito into a wheel chair twice per week and take him outside (as long as we stay nearby in case of need for suctioning the lungs, and as long as we take oxygen along). On Thursday, while outside, he was holding his head up for a while and turning his head and eyes slightly side to side. Many of the staff along the hall commented that he looked much better than when he first came. Please pray for his circulation. When in the chair his feet have a tendency to turn deep purple, and so we have to watch closely and elevate/massage as soon as that begins or put him back in the bed. Hopefully as time goes by and he is up more, circulation will improve.
Thank you all for your prayers. Please forgive us for not posting updates more frequently, but we want to thank you for checking the website and for continuing to pray. God really has been good to us. We are thankful for the opportunity to grow in faith in our Father who loves us so, and we pray as is our church theme this year that He alone would be glorified.
Recently we talked with the Dr. at the healthcare center who sees Pastor Esposito. She reviewed the CT Scan. Praise the Lord she said that there has been a decrease in swelling since the last scan before leaving the hospital following the last surgery. She did, however tell us that there is still an area of drainage. Please pray for complete healing of all swelling/drainage around the brain.
We have been asked by many folks when we are going to take Pastor Esposito home. We are very eager to take him home, but there are many considerations:
· No medical staff/doctors have yet brought up the possibility that it is time to take him home, in fact they all discourage it at this point, though I have asked questions regarding what steps we would need to take to be ready to do so when the time comes.
· Pastor Esposito had three major brain surgeries in the last three month period.
· There is still drainage in his brain
· He was released from the hospital to a skilled nursing, sub acute center, not a regular convalescent/nursing home. Here they specialize in the types of care he needs.
· There are trained Respiratory Therapists who drain the lungs regularly, change the trach tube leading into his throat, etc.
· A pulmonologist regularly monitors him since pneumonia is very common with coma/stroke patients in his state (he had pneumonia already while in the hospital, and it was difficult to cure with a weakened immune system)
· Labs/cultures are regularly taken to insure there is no infection. There would be no other way of knowing of infections since he is not able to communicate.
· A medical doctor is on hand and sees him a minimum of twice per week to check basic health and is always available. For example two days ago, one eye was swollen up. So we called a nurse in to request treatment.
· Another staff member is the treatment nurse who specifically cares for skin issues. Pressure sores are very common with patients who are completely immobile. These can develop quickly, and can become very serious, even fatal when not treated quickly. Last week Pastor Esposito was covered in large hives – some type of allergic reaction. That was immediately treated.
· One doctor said his immunity is too low for him to feel comfortable with his going home. Illnesses must be caught and treated immediately
· One doctor (I am sure intending to scare me) stated that if he potentially could drown himself in his own fluids if not properly cared for and watched 24/7
· If/when Pastor Esposito improves significantly enough, being in this center would offer daily rehab three times per day (PT, OT, ST). At home, a PT would come only twice per week.
· The above points are not to mention the more minor details of daily physical care (which often require two staff at once):
So at this time, it doesn’t seem practical to think that we have the capability of doing what all of these trained professionals are able to do, and what Pastor Esposito’s present health requires. When the doctors feel confident that he is strong enough to go home and doesn’t need specialized care beyond our abilities, and encourage us to do so, we will be very happy. It breaks our hearts to have him away from home. (One of the hardest days of my life was the first night I had to go home and leave him there. I had spent 40 nights sleeping in Memorial Hospital by his side. But none of the skilled nursing centers we researched allow overnight stays.) So for now we must not let our impatience cause us to make decisions that aren’t best. Please pray with us that the day will come quickly that we are able to take him home, but we won’t do so until it is what’s medically best for him…and I suppose the doctors will help us to know when that time comes and the Lord will give us peace about doing so.
Specific prayer requests that will bring us closer to that day:
· For complete healing of all draining/swelling around the brain
· For responsive consciousness (though he opens his eyes periodically he is not considered “awake”)
· That he could properly breath and learn to swallow without a trach
· For movement in his entire body
· For speech or at least for now some form of consistent means of communication
· That he would no longer need supplemental oxygen
Please also pray for wisdom and guidance on our part. On Pastor Esposito’s part, please continue to pray for a miracle from the Lord. Once again a doctor this week reminded me of this very small percentage of patients who have gone through what Pastor Esposito has gone through (AVM rupture, aneurism, stroke, long term coma, three brain surgeries) and are in the state he is in and recover. With brain injury, it is not thought to be just a matter of time for healing as with other illnesses/surgeries. Healing can stop at any point, and in 90% of patients does. We believe God is able; please continue to pray with us for that miracle.
We would like to thank the many, many folks across the country and around the world who have prayed and have encouraged our family the last three months. God has showered us with His love through you.
Though progress is very slow, we thank the Lord that we still continue to see small little hints of progress. Pastor Esposito seemed to nod slightly twice yesterday. His eyes definitely are focusing. He looked at his granddaughter as we held her on each side of the bed this New Years Eve(ning). Since yesterday, he is also making a slight expression by raising his eyebrow on his left side.
Please continue to pray that God will give us a miracle. Also for wisdom in making several decisions on his care, including placing a shunt. Please pray for God's direction as sometimes it seems that no one is specifically, regularly giving us any guidance medically.
Thank you again!
Here is a picture we took with our dad on Christmas Eve. He is able to go outside some now. Though he's not "awake" and "responsive" (two very subjective terms, as we've come to learn), it's nice to be able to spend time with and sing to and talk to him. As we sang for him, a big tear rolled down his cheek.
We don't know if, how, or to what extent our dad will recover. Only God knows. But, we rejoice and praise the Lord for the progress we've seen. Though we don't know what the future holds, we know Who holds the future. We pray our dad continues to improve, but in the mean time, and regardless, we pray that we learn the lessons God wants us to learn through this trial, and that we'd be the stewards of it as He wants.
Thank you again for praying!
-The Esposito Family
Pastor Esposito had his follow up appointment with the Neurosurgeon Monday. The doctor said that based upon what he sees in the CT scan as well as seeing him for the first time since the surgery Oct. 30th, we could consider possibly putting in a permanent shunt to drain fluid from the brain. This potentially could help us to see some improvement. The doctors are quick to remind us as they have all along that they can make no promises, won't give an opinion for or against it, and that there are no text book answers when it comes to neurology….that we may see minimal change, significant change, or no change at all. Perhaps one of the hardest parts of this trial is the fact that doctors can give no prediction of what will be, no time frames, no answers, no recommendations, advice, or opinions, and they intentionally give no hope so as to not give a false hope. And so we continue to pray for a miracle and to trust in the Lord Who is the GREAT PHYSICIAN that HIS WILL will be done. And we realize that HE alone is our hope.
Lest I sound negative (I don't mean to, only to share honestly what the doctors say because that is one of the most asked questions, "what are the doctors saying?"), I'd like to share a praise page I began in my journal a couple days ago as I thanked Him for how far He has brought us thus far:
• My husband is alive; when at first the doctors only promised to TRY to save his life.
• My husband is now AVM free, never to worry about this happening again.
• The doctor said his brain is not “all stroked out.”
• The doctor said his brain stem is not damaged.
• His bone flap is replaced in his skull.
• He is breathing without a respirator.
• After over a month of watching the blood pressure monitor, and wondering if he’d have a heart attack from the extremely high b.p., his blood pressure is consistently normal and healthy on its own.
• After fighting high fever, due to the fact that his body couldn’t regulate temperature, and after being wrapped in ice for over a month…his temperature has been stable for a while now.
• After fighting pneumonia for weeks, the pulmonologist said his lungs sound good.
• The balloon in his tracheotomy has been deflated.
• That his eyes open at times; and appear to have some sight.
• That his feet and hands have some movement (whether reflex or not they are not totally paralyzed).
• That God has given us weakness that we may find our strength in Him.
• For giving us hurt that we may find He is our Comforter.
• For using the great void in our hearts and lives to draw us closer Himself and to one another.
• For teaching us to both to pray more, and to learn better how to pray.
• For reminding us that though often His ways are not our ways, Romans 8:28 is still true and He does have purpose in all He does….and all He does is good. Matthew. 7:11
• For reminding us of a million “little lessons” like:
The verse my husband and I always claimed as sort of a life verse still holds true, that God has done exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think. God has been good.
Thank you for your continued prayer. Please pray for wisdom and direction from the Lord as we make the decision on the shunt.
-Mrs. Joe Esposito
Pastor will be taken back to Long Beach Memorial for a check up with the surgeon, Dr. Pak, tomorrow at about 2:00 PM.
Dr. Pak was the one who originally suggested against the surgery and said, "What's the use?" Please pray that he sees improvement and that the Lord would be glorified, as Dr. Pak knows that we trusted what God could do in choosing to go forward with surgery.
Thank you for praying. God is good.
Here's an email response to a family member who emailed Mrs. Esposito, "…How was Joe's CT scan…":
It was great. I told him we were going on our first date since he was sick =)… I told him we'd been on a deep sea boat fishing, a helicopter (to Catalina)...but this was the first time we got to ride together in an ambulance to the hospital!
It was a beautiful sunny day, and when we got to the imaging center for his 11:00 appointment, they informed us that there was no technician on duty yesterday, so we'd be going to the hospital. SO… we actually walked with his ambulance stretcher a little ways outside to the hospital. His eyes were open…the first time his eyes have seen sun light since October 3rd… I thought it was neat for him to get fresh air and see the sun. He did great.
They send a RT along, but she never needed to do anything to him. He coughed here and there, but never needed her suctioning.
Thank you for asking…we will get the results at his Monday appointment.
Please continue to pray for next week's appointment with the neurosurgeon, that Pastor will continue to heal and progress, and that he will respond to specific commands. Thank you for your continued prayer!
Our family was asked to put this together for a thanksgiving service for a church in AZ. The emphasis was to be thankful for those placed in our lives while we have them with us. We have been asked if we would share it on the web site. We pray that it will be a blessing to you. Thank you for your continued prayer and support for our family and church during this time. God is good!
Pastor seems to be moving his hands and feet more.
There is not much change since the last update except that we are waiting for the results of some labs to see if there is an infection. Pastor Esposito has been on antibiotics and thankfully his counts are going down.
Please continue to pray for the requests posted in the last update.
Your prayer is greatly appreciated!
Thank you for your prayer and support for the Esposito family and Pastor Esposito specifically.
Please continue to pray for these requests:
Please pray for wisdom for the family in decision making. Also, please pray for God's will and leading in gaining permission to try some natural alternative treatments over the next couple of days.
Though God is not on an insurance timetable, please pray for some response to command before the ten day period is over (Friday). If they don't see specific response before then, they will discontinue certain therapies until they see response.
Thank you for your continued prayer!
Pastor's lungs are much better! This past week, he swallowed and moved his hand when ice was applied. The physical therapists are aggressively working with him, sitting him up and stimulating him. Please pray he wakes up. Pray for continued healing of the brain and of the damage from the AVM rupture.
Thank you for your continued prayers!
It's day 40, and pastor is being transferred today from the hospital to a sub-accute skilled nursing facility. Thank you for your continued prayers, and please pray for a smooth transition and continued healing for pastor Esposito.
Dear Family and Friends,
Our family would like to thank you for your many prayers, cards, letters of encouragement, e-mails, texts, gifts, calls, meals. God is so very good to shower us with the love of so many people from literally all around the world.
Much has happened since our last update, so let me update everyone as to what has happened over the last few days. Last Wednesday an angiogram and MRI were done. Immediately following the angiogram one of the doctors who did the procedure told us that they believed that a very small vessel was left. He said, however that Dr. Pak (who had done the surgery) would review it in the morning and tell us how significant it was, and what would need to be done.
The following day the doctor told us that the vessel was very small and that typically would disappear within six months and that they would monitor it. He said that they did see swelling and would need to monitor the swelling until this coming week before he'd be moved to a sub acute nursing facility. When I asked him what the MRI showed, he said it didn't show any deeper damage (remember they had said after surgery that the brain on the surface did not look "all stroked out") and that there was no damage to the brain stem. This is very good news.
Saturday the 9th, the specialty team from UCLA reviewed the angiogram and said in fact the entire AVM had been removed. (more good news) At this point the doctor signed for his release. (Insurance is pushing hard for his release.)
Sunday, 11/10, he moved his head for the first time, and he also moved his legs some. (Though he is still in a coma). It was decided that he would not be moved today because his fever rose. They did a chest x-ray that was clear of pneumonia, which he previously had. They also did other tests looking for infection to try to figure out why the fever. It is possible the fever could be due to the trauma to the brain since our brain regulates body temperature.
His body also has been having a hard time the last couple days digesting the food fed to him through the tube. They had to keep stopping the feeding temporarily while waiting for the food to digest. I spoke with the dietician today to see if I could possibly feed my husband natural fruit and veggie juices. They would not agree but agreed to give him a different type of food that is made from whole foods. I pray this also promotes faster healing.
Following are present prayer requests:
God has certainly been very good through this testing. He has taught us much, and drawn us closer to each other, and I pray that through this trial I, our family, and Pacific Baptist Church will never be the same. As one of my sons prayed tonight after we all sang to my husband at the hospital, we thank the Lord for counting us worthy to suffer a trial such as this that we may know Him in a way we never had before. May God be glorified in every way.
Mrs. Joe Esposito
They took Pastor on for an MRI today, and an angiogram. We will probably have the results tomorrow. They found one small vein that remains in his brain, and tomorrow the doctors will review it to see if it's significant enough to need to do anything about.
Please continue to pray for his fever, lung infection, stabilization, and continue healing to his brain, and that the Lord would be glorified through this all in some way.
Pastor was transferred out of the ICU today to the neuro floor. He still has fever and infection and is on antibiotics. Please pray for his fever and infection to go away.
Then, please continue once again to pray that the Lord would heal any damage to his brain, for him to wake up from his coma, and for healing all around.
Pray that we'd be more like Christ because of this and that He would receive all of the glory.
Praise the LORD, Pacific Baptist had a tremendous Friend Day with scores and scores of visitors, many of whom were saved! In the absence of our Pastor, God continues to bless! God is good!
Pastor's fever has subsided and his brain pressure had gone down since yesterday. That's a blessing. Praise The Lord and thank you for the prayers. Please pray that he continues to stabilize and that in weeks and months to come the Lord would continue to heal and bring back the functionality of his brain. Please continue to pray that the Lord would receive glory from all that is done.
Pastor opened his eyes for a short time today too. They say that is another step towards wakening from a coma. Please continue to pray for his neuro functionality as we know the Lord has preserved pastor thus far and can continue to work.
It's been about 24 hours since Pastor has gotten out of surgery. Again, praise the Lord that it went well. This morning when I came in, they were trying to get his fever down (it was at close to 103). His brain pressure is up a bit as well (this can be a natural reaction to the surgery), so they readjusted his draining tube going into his brain to try to drain a little more. Also, they did a cat scan, and saw that they AVM was totally removed and gone (Praise the Lord!!!). It seems there has been no bleeding or infection.
Please pray once again for the swelling to go down and for his fever to subside (it did after much prayer before his surgery). Then, please continue to pray that the Lord's will would be accomplished and that He would get all the honor and glory. Thank you for praying and for your continued prayers.
-Bro. Joseph Esposito Jr.
PRAISE THE LORD FOR A GOOD SURGERY! The surgeon just came out and talked to us. The AVM has been removed successfully.
Thank you for your prayers. He said the next 24 hrs are big to watch for bleeding, swelling, or infection. Please keep that part in prayer.
They DID put his bone flap back on, and he's still in the recovery room for up to 3 hours.
Thank you for your faithful prayers for this surgery!
Please continue to pray for neuro-functionality, that he would awake from his coma, and for a miracle in the healing of his brain!
-Bro. Joseph Esposito Jr.
Pastor is currently in surgery and will be for a couple hours. Please pray for wisdom and for the Lord to guide the hands of the surgeons. They need to remove more of his skull because the AVM extends further than what they originally removed so please pray for wisdom there too.
Please pray for continued healing and that God would be glorified regardless of the outcome.
Pastor has been cleared by the doctors for his surgery tomorrow.
A specific time is not yet set, but it may be as early as 6 AM.
Please pray for wisdom and God's hand of favor upon the doctors, and pray for Pastor's body to be strong through the surgery.
Thank you for your fervent prayers!
Please continue to pray for Pastor's lung infection as doctors say it needs to subside before his Tuesday or Wednesday surgery. Please pray for God's hand upon the surgeons.
Thank you for your prayers!
Please continue to pray! Here are a few prayer requests:
Thank you for your continued prayer!
ANSWERED INSURANCE PRAYER: God answered and has worked in the hearts of the insurance company to allow Pastor to stay in the hospital until his surgery is completed.
LUNG INFECTION: Please continue to pray for the lung infection. There is still lot of fluid in lungs.
UPCOMING SURGERY: We met with the doctors and it looks like Pastor will have surgery on his brain next week. Please pray for wisdom for the family and surgeons through this process.
Please pray for a miracle!
LUNG INFECTION: Please continue to pray for Pastor's lung infection as it seems to have remained the same since he was diagnosed. This infection must be cleared up before his next surgery.
IMPORTANT SURGEON MEETING: Mrs. Esposito has a meeting with surgeons today. Please pray for wisdom during the meeting with the many decisions that must be made down the road.
INSURANCE ASKING TO TRANSFER OUT: The Insurance is pushing to have Pastor transferred out to another facility between now and the time he has the final brain surgery. Please pray that they will allow him to continue at Memorial Hospital until his surgery is complete.
UPCOMING SURGERY: Please pray for Pastor's upcoming brain surgery that is most likely going to be mid to late next week.
CONTINUED HEALING: Please continue to pray for healing, responsiveness, and recovery for Pastor's brain.
Thank you for your continuous, fervent prayer!
Stomach procedure went well. He was moved down to the neuro section of the hospital. They rescheduled his brain surgery to next week. Please pray for wisdom as we meet with the drs and as we finalize the date for next week.
Please continue to pray for his neuro functionality and his lung infection. Pray for The Lord to do a miracle to His honor and glory.
VITAL PRAYER REQUEST: Doctors and surgeons are talking about possibly performing the third needed surgery to remove the AVM by the end of the week. Though this does not change his current neuro status, it will prevent the AVM from rupturing again.
Please pray for wisdom and guidance for the doctors. This surgery (as every neuro surgery) holds very high risks.
PEG OPERATION TOMORROW: Doctors have decided to do the PEG (stomach) operation tomorrow morning. It is a minor surgery, but please pray for all to go well.
CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR NEURO FUNCTIONALITY: Please pray for a miracle and that Pastor would regain his normal brain functions again.
There are no new updates today. Please continue to pray for Pastor Esposito.
Your prayers are greatly appreciated by Pastor's family and the Pacific Baptist Church family!
The tracheostomy went well today. The feeding tube procedure was pushed off until at least tomorrow as it may have caused too much stress on his body for one day. Please pray for that minor procedure tomorrow!
Thank you for your continued prayer. Please continue to pray for his brain to heal and for the Lord to work a miracle in this situation!
Two Procedures Tomorrow: Tomorrow late morning or early afternoon they will do a tracheostomy (a procedure that will help him to breathe through his throat instead of the oxygen tube that goes through his mouth and down his throat. Then, they will remove his feeding tube that is currently in his throat and inset a tube to feed him directly through his stomach (gastrostomy). These procedures are being done because, if the Lord would chose to bring him out of this, the procedures will prevent permanent damage to his throat by the tubes he currently has.
Doctor's Meeting with the Family Today: Today the family had an in depth meeting with the doctors at Memorial. In a nutshell, here's what they discussed: The back of Pastor's brain which controls reflexes, breathing, etc. does have some functionality. As for the healing and ability to use the front of his brain (the part that controls logic, awareness, reason, etc.) there is no way to tell. Only time and healing will tell.
Pray for a Miracle! Please continue to pray for a miracle. This is what we need! Please pray for the Lord's hand of healing upon Pastor's body and his brain. Thank you for your continued prayer!
Thank you for your continued prayer!
The surgery will be put off for possibly two weeks. We are awaiting the results of yesterday and Sunday's CT scans. Until his condition betters, an MRI cannot be taken to give a better overview of what has happened and is happening in his brain.
Please continue to pray!
Here is an update on Pastor Esposito's condition from his eldest son, Joseph. Please continue to pray!
The results from Pastor's latest CT scan showed little change (neither positive nor negative change). Please pray for improvement (responsiveness, etc.) next week when he is re-evaluated. Thank you for your faithful prayers!
A CT scan was run earlier today but the results are not yet known. The tube that was draining fluid from his brain was removed completely today. A pricker was set to aid with medicine and drawing of blood. Please pray for Pastor to awake and show signs of responsiveness.
Thank you for your prayers!
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”
Just this afternoon, Pastor Esposito's neurosurgeon visited and said that Pastor is still in too critical of a condition for them to complete the necessary surgery to assure that the blood vessels do not burst again. There must be responsiveness from Pastor before they can proceed with the much needed next surgery. We urge you to pray for continued healing for Pastor and that he would show responsiveness.
Thank you for your prayers!
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
Thank you for your prayers! God is in control. It is an encouragement to see so many people around the world praying for our pastor. Continue to pray for the swelling to go down, his third surgery to go well, that there will be no long term brain damage, and the healing of his body.
We would like to share a song with you that has been an encouragement to our church family.
Praise the Lord that Pastor Esposito's brain pressure went down!
Please continue to pray for these specific requests:
Update from Joseph Esposito Jr.
Good afternoon. I trust and pray that you had a great AM service this Lord's day. Some have asked if we could keep you posted on my dad's situation. A slight improvement is that he is now taking more breaths on his own, whereas yesterday it was mostly the machine breathing for him. As of this morning, we are still just waiting and praying. My mom did ask me to send a list of specific prayer requests, so I have listed them below. Thank you again for your texts, emails, calls, and most of all, your continued prayer for my dad. As a family, that is our greatest comfort. Have a blessed day.
Psalm 27:14 "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."
As of this morning, Pastor Esposito's vital signs were good, but doctors say that for the next few days and possibly weeks, we can just wait, and pray that he wakes from his coma and that his brain would continue to heal.
Please continue praying daily that the Lord would continue to work. Also, please pray for the people of Pacific Baptist Church to stay strong and continue going forward.
Continue to Pray! The swelling in the front of his brain slightly went down so they were able to put in a tube and drain some spinal fluid; a procedure that the doctors wanted to do. He is still in a coma and is in critical condition so please continue to pray. Please pray that he recovers well from his last surgery so that he could be strong for his next one.
A RAY OF HOPE
But still very urgent! The second surgery was successful. The main source of the bleeding has been cleaned up. Pastor is still in a coma and will need a follow up surgery to remove the rest that hasn't been cleaned out. Please keep praying, as he has not awaken from his coma. Thank you for your faithful prayers! God is good!
Pastor is still in a coma. The doctors are currently running tests to see if the swelling has gone down, so that they can determine whether to continue surgery or if they need to wait longer.
Please continue to pray for our Pastor and his family at this time. Thank you.
The hospital has asked us not to call them for the update of our Pastor. However, we understand that you care for him and that you would want to know about his condition. If you could help us by calling or texting Mrs. Jaz Esposito for the update instead, that would be a blessing. Her phone numbers is 562-243-2253.
Thank you for praying and for being an encouragement in this needful time.
Pastor went through the first part of his surgery which saved his life. However, there is some swelling in his brain that needs to go down before they can continue the surgery. He is in a coma right now. We need you to keep praying. God is in control!
For the next few days, please do not call, text, email, or go by Pastor's house. They know that you love them and are praying for them, but we really need to give them their space at this time. If they need anything, they will let us know.
PLEASE NOTE: School will be cancelled today. We understand that some parents will need to bring their children due to the late notice so we will still be ready for those who come.
Please pray for our Pastor!
He was rushed to the hospital after service tonight. He just got a CAT scan and the result is bleeding in the brain. He will need to have an emergency surgery. Please pray for wisdom for the surgeons and bleeding to stop.
Please understand that the family is going through a sensitive time right now, so we would want to give them their space. We will be keeping the church family posted.
Please keep praying! Thank you.