Saturday, June 12, 2010


Today was predicted to be the warmest day so far this year in Seattle--a sweltering 75 degrees. I think it made it to 76. It was a beautiful day, whatever the thermometer said. Last month brought one rain storm after another, and the beginning of this month hasn't been much better. When I looked outside at the mist descending on my garden yesterday, I tried to imagine what it might be like to live in the Cotswolds in England...but then I opened my eyes up wider and realized that the grey I saw was the mold on my petunias.

Annie's been low again this past week, not because of the weather, but because she's adjusting to a new blood pressure medicine, Enalapril. She's got kidney issues as a result of the brain injury, and her doc is trying to alleviate some of her problems (protein in her urine, if you want to know) with this new drug. It makes her sleepy though, and as it lowers her blood pressure, it also makes her nauseous/gaggy. So we're back to double dose hydrocortisone. It's pretty much a one size fits all solution for Addisonians.

The kidney problems remind me that her brain injury was not a one-time event like a broken leg that gets set, casted and then mends. What happened in her case was that 1. her adrenal glands didn't work, so 2. her blood pressure and blood sugar dropped. Then, 3. the low blood sugar caused her brain to seize, and 4. the low blood pressure caused a loss of blood and oxygen to her brain and vital organs like her kidneys. I think her kidneys were all set to turn out the lights when the paramedics interrupted her downward spiral. And because of all this, she has protein in her urine that needs to be fixed, so we can preserve what kidney function she does have.

The bottom line is: many body systems were injured in the "brain injury" event. And now, the on-going sequelae--or collateral damage--are things like seizures, kidney problems, blood pressure problems, as well as her underlying endocrine disease--Addison's--that precipitated this whole party. When I think about all the things that are messed up, it's amazing that Annie is still with us!

So why am I telling you this? Well, one of the reasons is so that you will understand that when someone you know sustains a brain injury, (and they will), that they will likely have lots of other problems that you might think are unrelated, but are very much related to the brain injury. The brain is the computer of the body. The brain controls all the systems of the body, so if the brain "crashes," then all the systems of the body are deleteriously affected to one degree or another. Following that computer metaphor, when the brain crashes, it also picks up viruses that clog up its function--forever, unless God supernaturally heals it. Those viruses make it impossible for the brain injured person to use the same pathways to reason, think, solve, remember, organize, prioritize and in Annie's case, walk,talk and eat . Those viruses also affect things like balance, temperature, mood, emotion--and everything that makes you you.

And although there IS life after brain injury, it is forever altered to one degree or another. In Annie's case, it's been a train wreck. In a case like a concussion, it may be more like a fender bender. And like I've said before, if I didn't believe that Jesus was going to give Annie a new brain and body (maybe here, maybe in heaven), I would be hopeless. But someday, the sun will shine every day, and Annie will run, dance, eat, sing and talk.


And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:23-25


Anonymous said...

Amen and amen!!!! And while we are waiting for Annie's new brain, whether here or in heaven, I am so very thankful that Annie has been making progress. I am so thankful she can laugh and smile. I am so thankful that she has the parents and the family she has. I am so thankful for your faith in God.

I, too, am looking forward to my new and perfect brain in heaven; but I am very content to let Annie move to the front of the line if she has to wait 'til then.

Continuing love and prayers,

Terri W

uncle jeff said...

Lord - please heal my niece. thank you.


Jean Sullivan said...

Thank you, Terri--being a pediatric nurse, you know what the best case and worst case scenarios are with brain injury. But knowing all that, you pray for Annie, and God hears and acts.

Jeff--I can't wait for the day that Annie thanks you herself for your faithfulness in praying for her.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16b

aunt rebecca said...

And each time you blog an explanation of all that you understand, you help others to understand. Who knows? Maybe some of those 'others' are moms and dads and sisters and brothers of a brain injured person; or maybe those 'others' are health care folks who are moving from book learning to clinical learning. Life long learning. God bless those who step up to be health care folks.

Gretchen said...

Love you. Praying. That is all.