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!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Much has happened since we last wrote

Dear friends and family:

First of all, Kerry's cornea transplant surgery was a complete success. Monday the 15th, Kerry had an eye test performed and was found to have 20 - 200 vision. Four days later, she had another eye test that showed that everything was looking positive and her vision improved to 20 -165. Then, on the 25th of March she was tested again and it was determined that her vision had improved to 20 - 80! This was obviously very good news for us. Thank you, God!

On a completely different subject, immediately subsequent to the eye surgery, Kerry had been noticing increased shortness of breath and wheezing in her lungs. At first, Her primary care physician diagnosed her with asthma, but her shortness of breath and fatigue continued to get worse. Adding to the problem, Kerry pulled several muscles and tendons in her right foot, which made it impossible to put any weight on that foot until until it healed. Consequently, Kerry not only had very little energy, she also had lost her mobility.

Then, after having an X-ray and a V-Q scan was performed, it was discovered that Kerry had fluid in her lungs and would have to be taken to the hospital immediately. Kerry arrived at the West Hills Hospital on Friday the 26th around 5:00pm, but was not admitted until 3:00 in the morning! On Saturday, the 27th, Kerry had a battery of tests performed including an echocardiogram, which indicated that she had fluid around her heart (as well as in her lungs) and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. :-( It was at that time that the cardiologist indicated that her heart is only functioning at 20-percent capacity.

Kerry was kept in the hospital for six days and given medications to eliminate excessive fluids in her body and to make her heart stronger. Thursday morning, April 1st, Kerry was given an angiogram to determine if there were any blockages in her heart; it was determined that there were none... thanks be to God! The surgeon speculated that some sort of virus attacked the heart muscle, which weakened it to 20-percent normal capacity. The doctor indicated that most patients recover from these conditions by taking medication that strengthens the heart. It was determined that Kerry does not have asthma. Thank you, God!

Kerry came home Thursday night (April 1st). Her foot is still not completely healed, but is doing much better.

We give praise to God that Kerry's left eye is doing really, really well. She marvels at the new things she can see every day that she could never see before with that eye. The one thing that is a bit of an irritation is that the stitches are starting to loosen and are making her eye itch (the doctors will be removing the stitches as the eye continues to heal).

Prayer Requests
  1. Please pray that God will be glorified in this and every situation. This is the most earnest request we have. The book of James tells us to "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." May the Lord perform His perfect will for His glory in this trial. Amen.

  2. Please pray for a complete recovery for Kerry's heart. Understandably, Kerry is having difficulty processing the full impact of what has happened to her and the implications that it could have for many years to come. This is a very serious situation and, although recovery is a real possibility, there are no guarantees except for the ever-present assurance that God is completely sovereign.

  3. This new heart condition comes with a lifestyle change involving diet, exercise and a plethora of new medications. :-( Please pray that Kerry will learn to adjust to the new regimen.
  4. Please pray for Dennis, Emily, Craig and extended family as they also learn to cope with and adjust to what has happened to Kerry.

We would like to thank all the people who have brought meals, visited Kerry and taken care of her as she has been dealing with this new challenge. Your love, support and prayers have made a big difference for her and all of us.

May the Lord richly bless you all!

Happy Resurrection Sunday.

P.S. Kerry would love to have comments and notes of encouragement posted on this blog site. Thank you! :-)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Update on Thrusday, March 11th Surgery

Dear friends and family:

Kerry has now had all of her pre-op appointments, which have gone well... she's all clear for undergoing the surgery this coming Thursday. There are some concerns regarding a sinus infection, which she contracted in February, and was cleared up, but has returned this past week. She's on antibiotics and will finish them prior to the surgery. Her heart rate continues to be slightly elevated from her normal pulse; she is on a medication to help calm her down.

A slight correction regarding the description of the artificial cornea. The donor cornea will have a hole cut in the center where the field of vision is such that she will only be looking through the two artificial cornea plates. Everything else is the same as was described in the previous post.

Prayer Requests:

1) Please pray that the sinus infection will completely clear up and that her heart rate will return to normal.

2) It is very common for membranes to form just behind the artificial cornea; please pray that this will not happen.

3) Pray for peace and comfort as Kerry will most likely have a patch on her eye over night so that she will be completely blind until it is removed the next day.

4) Please pray for Joan Evans and Peggy Johnston, who will be caring for Kerry for several days immediately following the surgery. Pray that both they and their families will be well.

We give thanks to our mighty God, who has been faithful during this time of trial. We also thank all of our friends and family for their prayers and support.

May God richly bless you.

Dennis and Kerry

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kerry's Surgery coming Up

Dear friends and family:

It has now been 13 months since Kerry had her first cataract surgery at the JSEI. From previous blog entries you know the outcome of the initial and subsequent eye surgeries that left her right eye completely blind. A cataract surgery was also performed on her left eye last August; that surgery was successful and we certainly thank God for that blessing. Her vision in the left eye is still very poor, however.

The next operation to be performed on the left eye is scheduled for March 11, again at the JSEI in Westwood. Dr. Anthony Aldave will be performing an artificial cornea transplant; he also performed the donor cornea transplant on Kerry’s right eye.

The doctor is going to be using a Boston, Type I artificial cornea. It has two plates that are shaped like a collar button. A donor cornea is placed between the two plates. Before the cornea transplant can be performed a conjunctival flap will have to be removed. This extra step is required because many years ago a conjunctival flap surgery (the conjunctiva is the white of the eye) was performed to address the recurrence of eye abrasions that Kerry was experiencing. This surgery was performed by taking a graft of the conjunctiva and covering the cornea.

The need for an artificial cornea, rather than a donor cornea, is due to Kerry’s aniridia condition; her stem cells are abnormal and may reject the donor cornea in the field of vision of the eye. The donor cornea will be directly touching the eye but out of the field of vision. The artificial cornea lifts the donor cornea off of the eye in the field of vision so that there is no rejection by the eye.

Please be in prayer for the following important requests:

1 This last year has been very emotionally-draining for Kerry as she has lost all vision in her right eye. Please pray for Kerry’s emotional well-being as she continues to heal from this great personal loss.

2 Kerry has been experiencing anxiety and a rapid heart rate as the next surgery approaches. Please pray for peace of mind and physical calmness so that her vital signs will be as normal as possible on March 11.

3 Please pray for a successful surgery with no complications and no infections.

4 Please pray for a quick recovery with very little pain.

5 Please pray that the eyesight in her left eye will significantly improve. The doctors have stated that her eyesight could be improved to about 20/100, which would be a great blessing to her.

6 Kerry’s father (Ralph Lawrence) will be flying down from Boise, ID, to be with her the week following her surgery. Please pray that Ralph will have safe travels and that the time spent between him and Kerry will be very sweet.

In closing, we know that our God is a faithful God and that he cares for us all. This past year, although it has been very difficult in many ways, has been a time of personal spiritual renewal and growth for Kerry. She has been in awe of God’s presence in her life and has felt His love in a closer, more intimate way that perhaps ever before. We would like to express our deepest gratitude for all the prayers, kind words and acts of service on the part of many, especially from members of the Bridge Bible Fellowship.

May God bless you all very richly.