Hebrews 12:2

Looking unto Jesus,
the Author and
Finisher of our faith...

Chippewa Falls, WI
Update Page for David Hanson - November 2012

November 2012
To contact David Hanson's family, please use the e-mail familyofdavidhanson@gmail.com

11/29/12 (Joel Hanson)Annette and I had a very encouraging day with David. We observed the following improvements since our visit two weeks ago. Here are the improvements:

  • He holds his head up with great strength and control. He was able to hold his head up at lunch for two hours with some support half way through. He turns his head easily from side to side, and he does not tip his head as much. He also turns his head to the left far more than he did before. He is looking up and is far more aware of his environment. He enjoys the sights in the cafeteria (people, paintings, décor, etc.)
  • David is eating better. His portions have been doubled. He is receiving more regular food such as ground beef, ground carrots, coffee, fruit cocktail, ethnic food, and he was approved for bread. Today we learned that David's feeding tube will be removed soon. His medications will be given to him orally in a powder form mixed with apple sauce. David is very good about taking this without complaints. He eats well, is drinking better, and is able to swallow while he drinks.
  • Another encouragement was David's physical therapy session. He was helped into a standing position and cooperated well with many stretches. His posture is improved. David has good strength in his right leg, but also moved his left leg through several stretches. He holds his head up very well, turns as requested, and looks far more confident.
  • After PT the doctor came in for a visit and explained his interest in adjusting his plans for a nerve block for David's left arm. He will consult with Rachel tomorrow. While with us he desired to see David's use of the alphabet board to communicate his thoughts. The doctor witnessed David spell out a message for Annette and I. As we point to rows and individual letters David prompts us with his thumb for yes and index finger for no. The process takes a little patience, but within less than ten minutes, David spelled out, “I love you” to Annette and I. The doctor stayed for all of this and expressed his excitement over this powerful tool that helps David communicate to us what is in his mind and heart.
  • Throughout the day I encouraged David to be thinking of a question for the evening. We have a wonderful hour (sometimes two hours) in the evening when David is more alert. It is during this time that we have often learned most what is on David's mind. Tonight his question for us was “Who forged fruitfulness?” This was a surprise question and we were not at all sure what was on his mind. It turned out David was giving us a Bible riddle and we used a method of asking broad questions followed by detail questions to learn that the answer to this question was in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis. He had to spell out that the person “who forged fruitfulness” was Rebekah (although he misspelled her name as Rubeka). Just being with David is a blessing. His mind is full and he is thinking quite well. We thank God for helping us find ways to unlock the secrets in his heart and mind.
  • After our work on the alphabet board, David was tired so we read the story of Jacob, Esau, Rebekah and Isaac in Genesis 27. As always, David was an attentive listener during Bible reading. I commented a little as is our custom, we sang a song together, prayed and said our good nights.
  • I could not help linger a little and asked David if he would like us to read from Anna's book. He gave me the thumbs up and so I asked if he would like me to read now. He gave me the no signal but said yes for tomorrow. David is getting clearer and making decisions with the decisiveness that is part of his personality.

11/28/12 (Joel Hanson) Annette and I are thankful to God for enabling us to be back with David and Rachel. This my fourth trip back since David's accident and this is Annette's fifth trip. Here are some encouraging responses from him this evening after our arrival:

  • David spelled out a statement for us on the alphabet board, “Janet crueses.” We asked David if he was saying, “Janet cruises?” He responded yes, and it appears that he was observing that Janet had left for the evening shortly after our arrival. David has a keen awareness of people around him. Just before Annette, Grace and I left for home on November 14th, David spelled out a question for us, “What are your plans?” We answered and wrote our plan on David's calendar in the room, and David seemed encouraged that we would be returning. Last night David spelled out the same question for us as he did two weeks earlier. The question was, “What are your plans?” We are encouraged that our plans are important to David.
  • We finished our day with Bible reading in Mark 6, which included the story of Jesus walking upon the sea. I mentioned that the fear of the disciples is often something we experience, not understanding the purposes of our Lord, but the comfort of God still comes as the Lord reassures us. We sang a hymn, prayed and David said “Amen.”

11/26/12 (Rachel Hanson) We had a beautiful crisp but sunny day here in San Jose. David was sleepy much of the day but woke up for a ride to Starbucks for a coffee date with me. The OT came with us to make the date "therapeutic". :-P And the therapy dog, "G", and his owner came along for the ride too. David was frowning at first when he got in the van because I think he was trying to figure out what we were doing but it soon transformed into a smile and a thumbs-up when he got a sip of the caramel brulee latte and realized he was outside the confines of his "prison"! He was able to mouth his ABC's with me this afternoon. The speech therapist thinks his problem with verbal communication has to do with initiation of the words and sequencing the sounds so she said to start small. I'll try anything... I finally got around to doing some neuro techniques I learned in school on David this afternoon too, and amazingly enough, I think it actually helped his tone and his bed mobility! My husband has a heart of gold and, boy, no brain injury or any amount of torture I subject him to will ever stop that man from loving me! He still said "I love you" with his voice tonight. :) Ephesians 5:25-28 says: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." If any man has ever tried to show his wife how Christ loves the church, it's David. I have found it hard to understand God's love at times (most of the time), but since I've been married, I feel like I've been given a little bit more understanding of that unconditional love - the kind of love that gives up everything to win the hearts of undeserving creatures such as us.

11/24/12 (Rachel Hanson) We had so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving but we sure did miss our families. But at least we had each other. :) David's communication has been pretty discouraging lately. We had some friends from church visit tonight, which was a huge bright spot in our evening, though. David got some fabulous homemade Indian food for dinner, heard all about kid's club and got to hear the boys recite their Bible verses. He wanted to say something to them. I was sort of frustrated (David probably was too) because David wasn't using our communication board successfully or mouthing but thankfully I knew what he wanted and guessed it pretty quickly. I don't know if it was the Indian food or my tearful begging to the Lord but David used his voice pretty strongly this evening to say several words. The nurse assistant was elated because David said his name, "Paul", and he could hear it clearly across the room! :) And I was walking on clouds too because he said, "I love you too." with his voice pretty loud for the first time. :) David continues to get stronger in physical therapy and was able to stand and do a few squats in the standing frame for about 40 minutes today with some assistance. He is keeping his head up a lot better too. He gets to go to Peet's coffee on his first outing on Monday with Occupational therapy and get OUT of the hospital for one blissful hour!!! :D He was able to eat a half egg sandwich this week so maybe he'll even get to have a little pastry or muffin with his coffee. :) David went on a voluntary "donut fast" before our wedding for a few weeks. Little did he know he would be on a much longer donut fast a couple months later! Ah, the things that become so precious to us when we're deprived of them for a few months.

11/21/12 (Joel & Annette Hanson) This Thanksgiving Season, we thank God for giving David life, breath, sight, hearing, recognition of his wife and family, a smile, a measure of memory, times of understanding, ability to eat, movement, communication "windows," and love and desire for the Lord; all things that were not supposed to be possible! :-) :-) :-)

11/19/12 (Rachel Hanson) There hasn't been a lot of big changes with David the last few days so I haven't really been prompted to write. Yesterday, we listened to a ministry CD on Joshua and then a couple from a local assembly blessed us by sharing in the remembrance of the Lord. My sister came and visited and we played Uno with David. Since David isn't talking hardly at all, we have to come up with creative ways for him to communicate. I would hold the cards and number them and he would tell me what number of card to play with his fingers. He was able to mouth "Red" when I asked him what color it should be after we played a wild and at one point said "Yes" strongly with his voice. He was spot on with the right cards to play! He has been making a lot more sounds with his voice lately but is having a hard time conn ecting the voice to mouthing the word. But, the speech therapist told me that he has been getting exponentially better in his sessions with her...which was encouraging to hear since I have been kind of discouraged about the seemingly lack of progress in his verbal communication and almost regression in that area. His spasticity continues to be a struggle. Any of you that know David, know he is a man of motion so to be bound by uncontrollable muscle tone must be difficult for him. Thankfully, he can move his right arm and leg pretty well and is getting better at wheeling down the halls with his right foot. Sometimes I just unlock the brakes and see where he goes! It gives him a slice of independence. :) David has been eating very well by mouth the last couple weeks and has been starting to take his medication by mouth. I'm hoping this means his feeding tube will come out soon! This will be the last tube to go!!! :D This next step will open the door for more treatment possibilities in physical therapy which would be beneficial to David in managing his muscle tone. We are anticipating a visit to the doctor in a couple weeks to find out if our little one is a mini-me or a little-David and are working with the social worker today to try to make it work so David can come with me! :) Hopefully we can bring it closer to David so it won't be such a long day for him.

11/13/12 (Annette Hanson) Here is a quick "David update." First of all, thank you all so much for your prayers! We know that many of you are going through deep waters of your own, and we are grateful that you take the time to read our updates and pray for us. David continues to improve … slowly but surely. We are encouraged to see expressions of David’s deep love for the Lord and the Spirit of God working in him. The other night he wanted to tell us something and we all (Rachel, Grace, Joel and I) tried to figure it out by having him mouth it, write with his finger in our hand, and even try to write on a white board with a pen taped to his finger. The only thing we could clearly see was the letter “G” when he wrote. The next morning, Joel spent some time with David asking him if he remembered whatever it was he tried to tell us the night before. Thumbs up. After many questions, it became clear that David has a specific prayer, and his prayer is that the gospel will be spread through his situation. What a blessing to see his heart for the Lord! David has quite a full daily schedule with all of his “therapy” and then being tired and worn out so that he wants to sleep. :) Meal times usually take about an hour, but he doesn’t seem to have any problem enjoying his food! Then comes the time we treasure…. He is typically alert in the evenings, and we sing, read, and work on communicating with him. Last night Rachel and I made a sort of “letter board” with bright yellow move-able letters on a black background. David can use a combination of pointing and answering yes/no questions to spell out words for us. So far, this has seemed to work well. When he is alert, he is very able and active mentally, and we really want to be able to tap into his thinking. We thank God for David’s good health, determination to work hard at strengthening his body, and for his spiritual life. The Lord has been very near and has shown us His lovingkindness over and over! Please pray for David’s voice and ability to learn how to speak. We would also value prayer for flexibility and increasing strength for his body. As you pray, please pray for another boy named “Andrew.” He just turned 18 and has a serious brain injury due to a bicycle accident. Thank you again for your love and prayers!

11/10/12 (Rachel Hanson) Yesterday I had a great day starting out with hot apple cider and a brisk walk by a creek with a cousin. Then I went over to the hospital to spend the day with David. It's so good to see how motivated David is to get better. My husband works so hard! I've been telling him that if he wants to play piano again, he has to work on opening up his hands and stretching his fingers out...which he does dutifully. :) Yesterday, I parked him next to the grand piano in the day room and started playing some hymns and singing to him. He acted like he wanted to play with me like we used to so I put him right beside me in reach of the keys. He reached his right arm out and played the first couple notes of what I was playing with his index finger and was trying to coordinate the rest of his fingers. He wanted to do it so bad! So I thought that at least he could probably help me with the pedal and he did. So I played and he pressed the pedal down for me. :) He has figured out that his right leg work pretty good and can motor around to some extent in his wheelchair. We had showed him how to use his hands on the wheels to propel himself so he wants to try that too but his left arm is so stiff and weak, it's hard to propel on that side so he ends up going in circles. He is definitely motivated to work on this though, because if he can walk himself around in the wheelchair, it gives him a bit of independence. He still needs a lot of work in the area of communication. He seems to understand what we say and do but has a hard time expressing his wants, needs and thoughts verbally. The speech therapist thought that maybe his vocal cords had gotten weakened when they entubated him in the beginning and she thought this would heal in a few months. In a family/team meeting a few days ago, we were given the hope of David being discharged from the hospital to a post-acute rehab that would be in a home-like setting in a couple months. There are a couple options that are much closer to where our apartment is. It would be SO nice to have David closer to me, to church and to my work. When I see some of the challenges that other families have to experience with their sick/injured family members, I am sooo thankful for what God has done in and for David. I think being in the physical therapy field, God has given me a glimpse of what I could have gone through, but through His lovingkindness, has shown David and I such great love and mercy. He seems to give little gifts of His love throughout this journey, no matter how difficult it seems at times, to magnify Himself and show us snapshots of His character.

11/7/12 (Annette Hanson) Such a happy day with David today after a sleepy day yesterday....mouthing the alphabet together, filling in words of Scriptures, trying to use his voice, and starting to wheel himself with one foot (very slowly) down the hall with Rachel. :)

11/3/12 (Annette Hanson) Time for an update on David: Healing is a waiting process. We think of that word "waiting" often lately, since the progress comes in what seem like slow steps..... emphasis on "seem." To us they are wonderful steps and are in the right direction. A special blessing (about waiting) was given as I read from Psalm 62 the other day:"Truly my soul silently waits for God...." "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him." And, "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah" Waiting gives us time to keep pouring out our hearts to the Lord and keeps us praying and trusting. :) As we wait, we see layers of blessing: David is increasing in his ability to hold his head up on his own...a few minutes now. He can sometimes lift a spoon to his mouth and eat from it. He is smiling more spontaneously. He tries really hard to whisper and mouth words. His muscles are tight but with lots of work from the PTs, this too is improving. I think one of the most encouraging things for us is the privilege we have to work with David on remembering and communicating. There is a lot inside of David that he just can't express, but we are able to learn many things by asking yes and no questions. David is also clearly interested in Spiritual things. His love for the Lord is evident and he really perks up and listens to messages on cd etc. The other night we were expressing how wonderful it has been to see the Spirit of God bringing life back into David. "The Spirit gives life." Then we sang "To God be the Glory." As we ended with "...and give Him the glory, great things He hath done," Joel said "Amen, David?" and David mouthed "Amen."

To contact David Hanson's family, please use the e-mail familyofdavidhanson@gmail.com