Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year! January 3, 2012

This is an excerpt from our family's year end letter:
Kerry writes: When I look back at all that has happened to me this last year, I am grateful to God that I am still alive today. I had serious complications after renal artery aneurysm surgery, in June, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I had a stroke, seizures, and was in a coma for 5-6 days. I could not swallow or breathe on my own. While I was in the coma, God gave me a wonderful gift. I woke up for a short time and heard Dennis tell elders from our church, an update on what had happened to me. Dennis told them that my surgery had been successful and that I did well during the surgery. I shook my head no, because I thought the surgery had not happened. I listened to everyone pray for me and then I went back to sleep. I knew I was in God’s care. The stroke affected my vocal cords and right side of my body. I also contracted pneumonia, and had a heart attack. I had vocal cord surgery to help my vocal cord paralysis. I was in a rehabilitation facility for a week and a half. I was home for one day, when I aspirated and ended up in West Hills Hospital for a week with pneumonia. I was home for two days, when my defibrillator (implanted Dec. 2010) shocked my heart 15 times, so back in the hospital I went for two more weeks. My heart was not damaged, just bruised (Praise the Lord!) I was in the hospital for a total of two and a half months. I was able to start eating a pureed diet and eventually was able to swallow my medications. I had the feeding tube removed at the end of September. I am still recovering, and doing out-patient occupational, physical, and speech therapy. I don’t know why I had to go through so much this year, but I know that God has kept my spirit at peace and strengthened my soul through it all. God knows what He is doing, and that is all that matters. I have hope in the Lord for the New Year ahead.

My family and friends have been amazing in their love, prayers, and encouragement. I am so grateful for the friends that came to visit me while I was in the hospital. This trial has drawn our family closer together. I praise God in this. I had time with Emily, while I was in the hospital, which meant so much. Emily brought me flowers multiple times, gave me massages, painted my fingernails, played me fun songs and videos on her droid, and placed many smiles on my face. I love my Sunshine girl!! Visits from Craig were very special. Craig read lots of scripture. I will always remember his reading of Psalm 119, parts of Job, and whole books from the New Testament. God has gifted Craig with a beautiful voice and much encouragement. I love my Craig!! My beloved Dennis has been a pillar of love and encouragement to me. Knowing that Dennis loves me so much and is passionately committed to our marriage keeps me going. My mom came to help take care of me in August. She was a wonderful comfort to me. My mommy has a whole lot of love in her heart. She did not feel well while she was here, but she was faithful to be by my bedside each day. I love my mommy!! My friend, Diane Childers (high school buddy), came to take care of me at the end of September. It was good to catch up on our lives, and get my not feeling so well, off my mind. Diane blessed me with much encouragement. My Dad came to visit at the end of October for a few days. He has finished putting together his genealogy book about our family, and it is now published. His research shows that we are related to Robert Frost the poet, Lady Di, and William Bradford of Mayflower fame. I love my Daddy! My friend Cathy Fritz Bahler (high school buddy) came to take care of me in November. I don’t think I have laughed so hard in a very long time. She made some meals to go in the freezer, and a double batch of peanut butter cookies, yum! Cathy is a physical therapist and so she gave me some exercises to help me until my outpatient therapies would begin. Our Christmas was filled with laughter, love, and rejoicing in the birth of our Savior.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20, 2011 Update

Dear Friends and Family,
I am having surgery on my right renal artery to remove an aneurysm on June 29, 2011 (8:15am), at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The anuerysm was discovered last year. The doctors told me to get the defibrillator implanted and heal up from that surgery before having this one. (I am doing well, by the way) The aneurysm is about 2.9 cm and is located at a branch point of my aortic artery leading to my right kidney. For those who may not know, I had my left kidney removed in June of 1997.

My Vascular surgeon is Dr. Bruce Gewertz (Chief surgeon at Cedars) and Dr. William Cohen is assisting.

I will be at Cedars-Sinai for about 4 to 5 days. I may be in ICU the first day. Recovery will be about 6 to 8 weeks.

Please pray for the following:
1. I have to stop taking Warfarin (coumadin) on Friday the 24th and on Sunday and Monday I will have give myself a shot of Lovenox into my abdomin twice a day. I am not looking forward to this, but thankfully it is only for two days. Pray that my blood would the perfect consistency for abdominal surgery.

2. Pray that my blood pressure will remain stable and that I stay healthy up until the surgery date.

3. Pray for wisdom and skill on the part of the doctors as they do the surgery. There are two approaches the doctors could take, but they will not know until they open me up. Plan A is to do a patch on the site where the aneurysm is removed using a vein from my leg. If Plan A is not possible, Plan B is to do bypass surgery using a vein from my leg.

4. Pray that the surgery will be a complete success with no complications and no infection.

5. Pray that my heart can handle this surgery since I have Congestive Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy.

6. Pray that I am a godly testimony to my caregivers and others I may be around in the hospital.

7. Pray for a speedy recovery and that I will not have problems with pain medication.

8. Pray for my family as I go through surgery and recovery.

God is so good! He has carried me through many trials and He will carry me through this one.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

Kerry Philpot

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011 Update

Dear Friends and Family,
It is hard to believe that it has been 17 years since the Northridge Earthquake hit at 4:31am. So much has happened since then. Craig was almost 3 years old. He will celebrate his 20th birthday in February. Emily was 5 and 1/2 years old. She will celebrate her 23 birthday in August.

I had my defibrillator/ pacemaker surgery on December7. My surgery was a success, except for a small complication. A puncture between the right lung and the chest wall created a pocket of air. I had severe muscle spasms in my back and front areas. I went to the ER on the Saturday night after the surgery and was given some medicine to help. I am feeling better now. It will be six weeks since the surgery tomorrow. There is a lead wire coming from the device that is very close to my right shoulder and right by where my incision is. It is causing some discomfort when I move my shoulder towards thelead wire. The incision area is still very tender and I get shooting pain there when I move in certain directions. I saw my cardiologist this last week and he gave me a good report and removed my restriction to not lift my right elbow above my shoulder. The doctor said that it can take about two months or so for everything to settle into place. He said if things are still causing discomfort after two months, he would make adjustments on my lead wires (further surgery). Dr. Levey said that making adjustments might cause problems in other areas. My defibrillator/ pacemaker is working well for now. I will be receiving a device in the mail soon that will be hooked into our phone line that will send 24/7 information about my heart to my doctor via bluetooth. This defibrillator/ pacemaker will not make my heart better, but it is there in case my heart suddenly goes into cardiac arrest, it will put my heart back into a normal rhythm. I do ride my exercise bike everyday. I am up to doing one mile in eight minutes.

A recent CT scan shows that I have an anurysm in my right renal artery and a hernia at the incision site where my left kidney was removed (was removed back in 1997).

Praises and Prayers:
1. Praise God for His steadfast loving kindness and provision!
2. Pray for healing of my heart and recovery from my defibrillator surgery.
3. Pray for more energy.
4. Pray for me as I have an echocardiogram on February 18.
5. Pray for wisdom on how and when to have my hernia and anurysm taken care of.
6. Pray that I can be a godly testimony to those I am in contact with daily.
7. Pray for our family as we go through this trial.
8. Praise God for such a wonderful husband, who puts up with me every day!

Thank you to everyone for your love and support.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Update

Dear Family and Friends,

Kerry's laser surgery, on her left eye, on September 2nd was a complete success. The procedure took only about 15 minutes and then Dr. Miller had Kerry sit out in the waiting room for about 30 minutes. Dr. Miller wanted Kerry to look around moving her eye in all directions to loosen any hanging fragments. While waiting, Kerry was amazed that for the first time in about 20 years she could read the label on her Arrowhead water bottle. Dennis was reading one of his engineering books and so Kerry looked to see if she could read the print. She could read it but had no idea what any of it meant. :-) Kerry went back in to see the doctor and he said that everything looked good. Dr. Miller said that Kerry would have floating fragments in her left eye for about one to two weeks. When the floating fragments disappeared, Kerry was amazed on how clearly she could read her giant print Bible (13pt font). She can bring it to church again for the first time in 20 years! Kerry's vision in her left eye tested 20/60 -2 (which means she had difficulty with two letters on the “60 line”) on Sept. 17. God is an AWESOME God!! What a humbling experience the last two years has been for Kerry. Kerry's vision in her right eye (the only eye that she could really see out of) was completely lost (there is a tiny amount of light perception) in January 2009; however, more than eighteen months later vision in her left eye was restored.

Kerry had her Echocardiogram (ECG) and Cardio Pulmonary Exercise (CPX) Test on Sept. 14 at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. The Echocardiogram shows that her heart shows that Kerry’s heart has an ejection factor of approximately ten percent; her ejection factor had been approximately 20 in July. Kerry’s heart has not changed in size since last summer. When a person’s ejection factor is ten or below they are usually put on a heart transplant list. In Kerry’s case, the doctors are holding off on this course of action since she still has some functionality.

As for the other test, Kerry was able to ride the CPX bike for almost 6 minutes. She was absolutely exhausted and needed to rest for about two days. Kerry saw Dr. Moriguchi at Cedars Sinai on Nov. 19. The CPX test showed that Kerry scored an eleven, but, because she did not achieve the threshold speed and oxygen level, the doctor estimated her true score to be closer to 13 or 14. When a patient scores a ten (or lower) on the CPX test he or she is automatically put on a heart transplant list.

Kerry's energy level remains to be low, but her emotions are doing better.
Kerry and Dennis have made the decision to have the surgery for implanting the defibrillator on December 7th.

Kerry has been having some abdominal pain; she has had two CT Scans performed to determine the cause. It was indicated from the scans that there is a small aneurism in her right renal artery (she doesn’t have a left one) and a hernia in the area where she had her left kidney removed. The doctors feel that no action needs to be taken at this time, but Kerry has been referred to an vascular surgeon for further evaluation.

God has taught Kerry many things during this time. God is patient. God is comforting. God is strong when she is weak. God gives joy in the midst of sorrow. God is a healer of body and spirit. God is sovereign and knows what is best for her. God gives her peace to move forward and rest upon Him. Kerry feels that she knows God better for going through this experience; He is trustworthy and true. She knows that without her precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ she would not know how to handle life. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

On this Thanksgiving Day, 2010, we would like begin our prayer requests by lifting up a joyful thanksgiving to God for sustaining Kerry and the rest the family during the course of these remarkable trials.

Prayer requests:

1. As always, we ask that God would be honored and glorified through this situation; that His name would be preeminent and exalted.

2. Please pray that Kerry would maintain a God-honoring testimony with those around her, especially to the medical care professionals.

3. Please pray that the defibrillator implant surgery on December 7th, at 12:00pm. Pray for peace of mind and that there would be no complications or infections. Pray that the recovery would be swift.

4. Please pray that the renal aneurism and hernia; that there would be no need to address either of these conditions while Kerry recovers from the defibrillator implant surgery.

5. Recently, Kerry has had some difficulty with her potassium levels (it has been too high). One of the heart medications that Kerry is taking has to be reduced because a side effect of the medication is that it causes the body to retain more potassium than normal. Please pray that her potassium level could be kept under control without having to reduce this important medication.

6. Please pray that Kerry’s ejection factor would improve and that she could gain more energy to do daily tasks and function more normally.

7. Kerry has been having on-going trouble with her memory and speech, possibly due to the small strokes she suffered several months ago. Please pray that her memory and speaking ability (she sometimes struggles with pronouncing long words) will improve.

We , would like to thank all of you who read this blog for your faithful prayers over the many months through which this ordeal has transpired. Your prayers, love and encouragement mean very much to all of us.

God bless you all.

Love, Kerry and Dennis

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;

Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases Psalm 103:1-3 NASB

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Update for August 2010

Dear friends and family:

As stated in the previous post, Kerry had her echo cardiogram on July 29th. The results are that Kerry's heart has reduced slightly in size and the ejection factor is now 20 - 25 percent capacity (it was 20-percent capacity soon after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy). The doctor was somewhat disappointed that her heart had not improved more than it did. Doctor Levy is recommending that Kerry go to the cardiomyopathy clinic at Cedar Sinai Medical Center to have additional evaluation on her condition and to determine whether or not to have a defibrillator implanted. An appointment has been made for 10:00am on August 13th.

Prayer requests:

1) Please pray that God will be glorified in this difficult situation.

2) Please pray that Kerry's heart will continue to improve.

3) Please pray for wisdom on the part of the doctors and for Kerry and Dennis as they consider the various options before them in the coming days.

4) Even though Kerry has to a certain degree adjusted to the numerous medications she takes, she has exhibited a number of negative side effects, including ones that involve her emotional state. Please pray that she can overcome these side effects as they arise.

5) Please pray for Kerry's upcoming laser procedure on September 2nd (this was mentioned in the July blog).

Thank you for praying and for reading Kerry's blog!

May God richly bless you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Update for July 2010

Dear friends and family:

It has now been over four months since Kerry had her most recent eye surgery and the two hospitalizations involving the congestive heart failure and the two small strokes. She has now adjusted to her new heart medication, which is at the highest dosage that can be given. On July 29th Kerry will have an echo cardiogram that will provide information for the heart specialist as to how her treatments will proceed in the days ahead. We are praying that the data will suggest a treatment far less extreme than a heart transplant (a heart transplant was one of the possible outcomes that was mentioned early on while Kerry was being treated at the West Hills Hospital).

Kerry is starting to have enough energy to do a few tasks around the house, but is still restricted to lifting no more than ten pounds. She tires fairly easily and has to pace herself during the day.

Kerry recently went to the Jules Stein Eye Institute for a follow-up visit. Her vision test showed that her left eye still has 20/80 vision and when looking through a "pin hole" her vision tested at 20/60 in that eye. Dr. Aldave ( the doctor who did the artificial cornea transplant) said that he was very pleased with how her left eye was healing. We give praise to God alone for the very successful outcome of this cornea transplant in Kerry's left eye. Kerry continues to be amazed by the things she can see, both close up as well as in the distance. Kerry also saw Dr. Miller, who indicated that it was time to schedule the laser procedure to remove the film from the posterior side of her lens capsule in her left eye. The procedure is scheduled for September 2nd. This is a very critical procedure since Kerry only has vision in her left eye and, like any procedure, there are some risks. Dr. Miller appeared very confident that this procedure would be successful.

Prayer Requests:

1. Please pray that God will be glorified in and through our (Kerry, Dennis, Emily and Craig) lives as we continue to trust in Him during this time of trial.

2. Please continue to pray that Kerry's heart would completely heal to the point where she will have normal energy, strength and endurance.

3. Please pray specifically that she will not have to have a heart transplant.

4. Please that the laser procedure to remove the film from the Kerry's lens capsule will be a complete success and that there will be no complications.

5. Kerry still struggles will the aftermath of the two small strokes in terms of her speech and emotions. Please pray that these symptoms will continue to subside and be (ultimately) eliminated completely.

We would like to thank all of our friends and family members who have stood by us in prayer and through many acts of kindness. Your love and support means very much to all of us in the Philpot family.

May God richly bless you.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Latest News on Kerry's Heart Condition

Dear friends and family:

Immediately following the procedure on April 1st, Kerry was experiencing severe abdominal pain in the area near the point where the angiogram was performed. She had several types of ultrasounds done to see if there was any internal bleeding; the test results showed that was not internal bleeding or clotting. Praise God! Saturday morning, April 10th, Kerry was awoken to have her eye drops put in and it was discovered that she had stoke-like symptoms. Her speech was slurred and she had great difficulty moving the left side of her body.

She was rushed the West Hills Hospital ER and was immediately admitted. After a battery of tests it was determined that Kerry had had two small strokes in the left frontal lobe; it was determined that the blood clots had come directly from the heart. We give thanks to God that Kerry immediately began to show signs of recovery and within a couple of days her speech was almost normal again. Also, her movements or her left side returned to normal.

Kerry was in the hospital for a week and was put on an IV medication to speed the process of thinning her blood so that there would be no further blood clots. She was also put on a medication that is similar to Coumadin to prevent further blood clotting. During that hospital visit her right foot was healed enough that she could begin walking on it again. The first time that Kerry walked around the nurse’s station using a walker she kept focusing down at her feet. The PT told her to look up to see where she was going; it came to her (Kerry) that she had been blind for so long that she was not used to not having to look where she was going. The PT told her to start looking up! As Kerry looked up she began to cry because she could see so many things that she had not been able to see for a long time. God is so good! Kerry was so encourage that day considering all the things she was going through. Even when things seem grave God always gives us some sunshine to brighten our day.

Kerry was discharged on April 16th. We praise God that He as led us to a very good heart specialist (Dr. Levy) who has been doing the follow-up care. Kerry is still very weak and gets tired very easily. Her heart tends to race (90+ BPM) even when she is at rest. Dr. Levy has Kerry on a new medication that intended to strengthen her heart and help it to return to normal size. After 2 1/2 months, she still can only lift about ten pounds (Kerry's cat weighs just under ten pounds, so, thankfully, she can lift Sophie and give her all the necessary love she needs).

The doctors have said that it is going to take quite awhile for this condition to heal and she continues to need a lot of help to perform everyday tasks. On a more sober note, Dr. Levy has stated that he should know by the end of June timeframe which direction Kerry’s heart condition (prognosis) is going: either toward recovery or toward having a heart transplant.

Kerry's left eye is still doing very well and healing nicely. Also, on a very upbeat note: in the midst of all the medical problems that have occurred over the past several weeks, the Philpot and Lawrence families, including all grandparents, celebrated Emily’s graduation from The Master’s College.

Prayer Requests:

  1. Please pray that God will be glorified in the midst of this difficult situation. It’s all about Him!
  2. Please pray that Kerry's heart will fully heal and return to normal size.
  3. Please pray that Kerry’s endurance will return to normal so that she can resume normal day-to-day activities
  4. Please pray specifically that Kerry’s prognosis will be the one involving recovery, not the one involving a heart transplant.
  5. Please pray that Kerry can maintain a positive outlook in the midst of a great trial. The recovery is so slow that Kerry struggles with anxiety and depression on a regular basis. Also, being on so many drugs results in side effects that are sometimes difficult to deal with.
  6. Please pray for Dennis, Emily and Craig that they will be strong and fully able to support Kerry as she continues through the healing process

Kerry would like to express her thanks for all the people who have been praying for her, sending her encouraging notes and calling her on the phone. She was also very blessed by the folks who came by to visit her while she was in the hospital. Your love and thoughtfulness are very much appreciated by Kerry and our whole family.

May God richly bless you!