Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Post Surgery Day 14, 29 Dec 2014

It is hard to believe that it was only 2 weeks ago that Daryl had his surgery. We made sure we had little milestones or celebrations to cheer him on his way. We told him we could watch the third Hobbit movie, but only IF he could sit up for such a long stretch of time - needless to say, we made it to the movies soon enough!

A movie treat on 26 Dec, thanks to our dear friends, the Rowlands  

The next milestone was the removal of his dressing. For this, we went to our family GP, Dr. Su. We watched with eager anticipation as he slowly peeled away the dressing. It was a wonderful sight to behold -  as you can see, the wound is healing beautifully...

So, as we rejoice with every milestone, we remember with grateful hearts that many of our family and friends have continued to pray faithfully for Daryl - to each and every one of you, you have our heartfelt thanks!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas Day

Our family in September 2014

Merry Christmas! For Daryl, the scoliosis surgery is the most memorable Christmas present thus far... We see daily improvement and rejoice that he is recovering so well. On Christmas morning, we had a quick breakfast and headed to church to attend the Christmas service. Although we would have liked to have stayed for the entire service, he felt quite tired midway, so we headed home after an hour or so.

After having a quiet lunch at home and opening his Christmas presents with Hannah, some friends from youth group dropped in to bring some Christmas cheer to Daryl. We were so blessed to see so many bright and smiling faces come by to just hang out with him. Daryl, as always, enjoyed the friendly banter, chuckling quietly to himself ever so often, even though he rarely contributed to the conversation.

By the time the guests left, he took some time to rest, watch a movie, and then it was off to a Christmas dinner party. We noted a hearty appetite and the effort he made to join in some of the games. Three hours later, we headed home - the longest time he has had out-and-about.

It is remarkable to think that 10 days ago, he was lying flat on his back after surgery, and it was a tremendous effort for him to make even the slightest move. The truth of Jesus being Emmanuel, God with us, comes to us again and again as we see Him walking with Daryl on this journey. Thank you for your ongoing prayers for his recovery. We are witnessing daily the answer to those prayers!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Post Surgery Day 4, 19 Dec 2014

It took some juggling and some pretty awesome packing skills on the part of Peter, but we finally figured out how to put in 2 big suitcases, 3 mid-sized suitcases, and numerous bits and pieces into the boot/trunk of the car. For the recuperating patient, we reclined the front passenger seat to the maximum, put a pillow to make the seat as level as possible, and bought a neck cushion for support; as for Hannah and Mum, well…, they were tucked in the back seat amidst a pillow, shoes, backpacks, foodstuff, etc. - and ta daaa… we were more or less ready for the trip back to Ipoh.

We left Kuala Lumpur around 6pm, and it took us about 45mins to get out of the city. We had a pit-stop in Sungai Buloh and enjoyed some burger and fries, before embarking on the drive back to Ipoh. It took us a little more than 2 hours, but we made it. If Daryl could have leapt to his feet and dashed into the house, he would have gladly done so… We could tell he’d just about had it… J As it was, after some tricky manoeuvring out of the car with the help of his father, he shuffled as quickly as he could into the house and made it onto his bed with a great sigh of relief.

So, we made it… Daryl will spend the next 2.5 weeks convalescing. We continue to covet your prayers for his healing. He is still fighting pain in varying degrees here and there, but the progress is ongoing – praise God! We look forward to a quiet family Christmas, remembering the goodness of God in our lives and the precious gift of His Son, Jesus, our Saviour.  

Friday, 19 December 2014

Post Surgery Day 3, 18 Dec 2014

Believe it or not, Daryl has been discharged from the hospital... We weren't too sure for a while if today would be the day, but he's home with us now! There's still a lot of pain and discomfort - the walk from the hospital to car, the drive back to the apartment in the car, and walk from the car to the apartment - was almost beyond what he could bear, yet he mustered enough strength to pull through. 

While initially it was the muscle pain that bothered him, today it was the gas in his stomach that was bothering him - a common occurrence for most patients after having gone through an operation under general anaesthesia. One can feel quite helpless watching a child struggle to cope with so much pain and discomfort, and while we do feel sorry for him, a pity party was not the order of the day. We felt it was more important to get his eyes focused on the goal, and to rally up a fighting spirit. So, in as many ways as was possible, we tried to get the message across to Daryl - if you want to get out of the hospital, then you'll have to work at it; so let's get up and walk! And as you can surmise, it worked - but the whole family is feeling pretty tired! 

When Prof. Kwan finally came in the evening and gave Daryl the green light to be discharged, he shared a before/after photo with us that caused us to again well up in praise to God for His goodness, and for bringing us to this excellent medical team under Prof. Kwan's leadership. 

There is a big board in the ward on the 9th floor of the East Tower at University Malaya Specialist Centre, and it is filled with photos of scoliosis patients who have been given a better quality of life because of this medical team. Every few months, the photos are updated because more and more people have come, and are coming, under their care. The team's skill and dedication is deeply heartwarming and encouraging - thank you, Prof. Kwan, Prof. Chris Chan, Dr. Shahnaz and the rest of the medical team whom we may never know by name - you have blessed Daryl beyond measure.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Post Surgery Day 2, 17 Dec 2014

Today, we continue to see progress. Daryl has started to eat some rice porridge, he managed to get up and walk a little, and with the help of his father, made it to the bathroom. The PCA and IV lines were removed, a post surgery x-ray taken and his post surgery height measured.

 - We had not realized that from his last x-ray taken in April to the x-ray taken on 15
   December, just before his operation, the curvature of his spine had further deteriorated from
   53° to 61°.
- We are fortunate that the rods are inserted from T2-T12, and did not need to go further into
   the lumbar region.
- There are 14 screws inserted into the spine.
- The curve measured post surgery: 13°. 
- The height gained from the surgery: 3.8cm/1.5in.

15 Dec 2014: Before surgery      17 Dec 2014: After surgery
Because we see Daryl progressing so well, it is somewhat easy for us to forget that as I write this post, it has only been about 48 hours since this major surgery. But lest we forget, the quote of the day comes from Daryl: "Fighting pain is very tiring..."

Thank you for your your continued prayers. Every milestone he accomplishes is a triumph for all of us as we journey together.

Post Surgery Day 1, 16 Dec 2014

For most part of the first day post-surgery, Daryl did what he was supposed to do - he slept, slept and slept some more. The nurses came in at regular intervals to check on him, and Peter spent the night at the hospital.

Daryl has in his hand a PCA - Patient Controlled Analgesia. He can administer the painkiller, morphine, for himself as and when needed. However, because he knows that it is likely that he will recover quicker if he used less of it, he has been careful to not be too "trigger-happy". By midday, when Prof. Kwan checked on him, we figured out that while most patients on average use about 20mg of morphine, he has been using about 7mg. 

In the evening, Prof. Kwan came for his second round of checks. Daryl's dressing was changed, and the blood drain, nasal oxygen tube and urine catheter were removed. Surprisingly, the pain he is experiencing is not so much from the surgical wound; but it is muscular instead - the result of lying prone with his arms outstretched above his head throughout the duration of the surgery. We hope with some analgesic cream, this discomfort will soon be gone.
Thank you all for your prayers, your encouraging messages, your care and concern for our family. We have been deeply touched by each and every one of you, and are thankful that we are surrounded by a loving community of fellow believers spread all over the world. 

While we know there are more challenges ahead of us, we are also comforted that we do not walk the road alone...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Surgery Day, 15 Dec 2014, continued....

When we entered the OT waiting room, Daryl was still not fully conscious. He was shivering involuntarily from the cold and from the effects of the meds. When he realized that we were with him, he tried to communicate with us, but it was difficult for us to figure out what he was trying to say with the oxygen mask still over his face. I heard him say, "I am...", and I tried to fill in the blanks a couple of times... Then with great effort, he finally declared... "I am TITANIUM!" It took me half a second to register what he said, and I just burst out laughing! This was our inside joke prior to surgery. We had teased him and said that he could legitimately make the pop song, "Titanium" his theme song after surgery. It was heartwarming to see his sense of humour come through that foggy haze. A while later, he said, "I did it, didn't I?" and I spied two tiny teardrops creep down his cheeks... "Yes, beau, you did it, you got through this..."

The first 12 hours post surgery is important to check for possible nerve damage, and the pain that he experiences in the first 24 hours is off the charts. The road to recovery will not be easy, but he's well on his way...

Monday, 15 December 2014

Surgery Day, 15 Dec 2014...

The morning started slowly... Got to the hospital at 9am, and lots of waiting. The pace only really picked up around 11:45am. There were all sorts of paperwork to be completed, checks, interviews, briefings, etc.. Daryl is now more or less prepped and ready to go into the OT in about half an hour - more to come later...

Wheeled in to OT at 5:32pm....

SMS from medical team: 6:12pm - Operation started. Patient is ok.  

SMS from medical team: 6:31pm - Screw insertion begun. Daryl is ok.

SMS from medical team: 6:43pm - Screw insertion 50% in progress. Daryl is ok.

SMS from medical team: 6:55pm - Screw insertion 70% in progress. Daryl is ok.

SMS from medical team: 7:11pm - Screws fully inserted. Correction beginning soon. Daryl is ok.

SMS from medical team: 7:27pm - Correction in progress. Daryl is ok.

SMS from medical team: 7:34pm - Balancing in progress. Daryl is ok.

SMS from medical team: 7:51pm - Bone grafting now. Daryl is ok.

SMS from medical team: 7:59pm - Closing the wound now. Daryl is ok.

SMS from medical team: 8:12pm - Operation successfully performed. Waiting for Daryl to wake up.

Wow... we were told operation would take approximately 3 hours - but it only took them 2 hours! Thank you, praying friends.... THANK YOU, Lord!


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Countdown Begins...

Believing in His promises daily

Five days till surgery… Life has been so full, and it is a little difficult for us to switch gears right now. Most things seem to be set in place, and we are thankful for our network of friends who have helped us prepare the practical side of things which include: a place to stay while in Kuala Lumpur where Daryl will have his surgery, a car for us to use for the time we are back in Malaysia, and a place to stay in Ipoh where we will spend most of our time during Daryl’s recovery period.  In the meantime, Daryl is sitting for his semester finals this week (8-12 Dec), preparing for his class fundraising meal that is scheduled for this Friday (12 Dec), and will be attending the high school Christmas banquet this Saturday (13 Dec). We get on the plane to return to Malaysia on Sunday (14 Dec), and he checks into the University Malaya Specialist Centre for his surgery on Monday (15 Dec).

As the time draws nearer, we are thankful for:
       -  A loving heavenly Father who is leading us, providing for us, and assuring us of His divine     
       -  A loving community of family and friends who are sharing their time and resources with us,
   giving to us, and praying for us

Updates throughout the surgery on Monday will be posted on this blog for those who have committed to pray for Daryl. We ask for your continued prayers that he will be in the best possible shape physically when he goes into the OT. As it is, he has weathered a mild case of dengue 4 weeks ago and a minor motorbike accident 1 week ago…. Thankfully, he’s bounced back very quickly from these two incidences but there are 5 more days to go – lots can happen between now and then! Indeed, we are keenly aware that we walk each and every day in the sheer grace of our Lord and Saviour…

Thursday, 4 December 2014

FAQ, Part 2

What is the surgery?
During surgery, the curve is corrected as much as is safely possible. To do that, implants (generally rods, screws, wires and/or hooks) are attached to the vertebrae at the section of the spine that is curved. After correction is achieved, bone graft is placed over the implants. With time, this bone graft fuses (or grows together) with the existing bone and forms a solid column of bone in that area.

The implants act as an internal brace to hold the spine in the corrected position while the bones are fusing. This generally takes 6-12 months. The fusion of the bones takes away the growth potential in that part of the spine, which is what has caused the scoliosis to worsen. Individual vertebrae grow approximately 1mm per year and potential height lost is generally balanced by the amount of height gained with correction of the curve(s).

What are the effects of bone fusion?
Bone grafting is used to fuse the spine in its corrected position and it will likely be bone removed from the spine during the surgery. The fused section of the spine is no longer flexible. This is of little consequence in the thoracic spine because this region of the spine has relatively little natural motion. However, the lumbar spine is more flexible, and a fusion in this area would limit some motion, so every effort is made to fuse as few of the lumbar vertebrae as possible.

Why now?
Shouldn’t we wait until Daryl is done growing, or wait until it is causing symptoms?
With moderate scoliosis, we wouldn’t expect him to be having any health problems. Surgery is often recommended before pain and other symptoms develop for a variety of reasons. The ease of addressing the smaller, more flexible curves present in a child or teen versus the larger, rigid curves in adults involves less risk, a less complicated surgery and the potential that fewer vertebrae may need to be fused. In addition, the recovery is easier and life is less complicated (in terms of school, family, career) during adolescence.

Ref: http://www.settingscoliosisstraight.org/HSG_Scoliosis_Handbook858.pdf

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

FAQ, Part 1

Since we discovered Daryl has scoliosis, concerned friends and family have asked us many questions about his condition. Here are some FAQ, part 1:

What causes scoliosis?
Scoliosis can arise from a number of underlying conditions, but the most common form is idiopathic, which means “cause unknown”. It is a genetic condition and there is ongoing research work on isolating the combination of individual genes that cause scoliosis.

How common is scoliosis?
Idiopathic scoliosis is thought to be present in 2-3% of adolescents. One in five hundred of these will require active treatment and only one in five thousand have curves that progress to the degree where surgery is recommended. Girls and boys are equally affected by small degrees of scoliosis, but girls are eight times more likely than boys to develop progressive curves.

What are the goals of surgery?
The goals of surgery are to prevent further progression of scoliosis and to correct the spine as much as can be done safely. Stopping the progression will prevent the significant health issues later in life that are associated with severe scoliosis, such as breathing trouble, heart and muscle weakness as well as pain.

Ref: http://www.settingscoliosisstraight.org/HSG_Scoliosis_Handbook858.pdf