Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Trip to the Neurosurgeon Results in 6 Prayer Requests...

Today we got to have an appointment with our neurosurgeon extraordinaire, Dr. Ched Nwagwu.
 I say "got to" because, well, we absolutely adore him.  He not only is an incredible surgeon, he is a gentle, strong, humble man.  We love him and secretly wish we could be friends in real life.  How cool would it be to meet "our buddy Ched the brilliant neurosurgeon" just for coffee?  I mean, really.

Anyway, we got to meet with Dr. Nwagwu, get some amazing referrals to different specialists, and get an evaluation on Jon's recovery.  To no one's surprise, Jon is doing remarkable.  ;)  Honestly, that is the word that the doctors and therapists have said about Jon's recovery and strength since Day 1.  Remarkable.  He is so happy with Jon's balance (not even needing his walker anymore), strength, speech clarity... there is a lot to celebrate!

He mentioned more than once the incredible impact all the prayers had.  He said the team in the O.R. for 11 hours knew about all the pray-ers.  (how cool is that?!?)  He also said having Jon in the hospital was like having a celebrity there.  We laughed and thought he was being sarcastic.  He said, "No seriously.  I've never heard of so many phone calls coming in with people saying, "My pastor is at the hospital - please make sure he is well taken care of!" :)  He said everywhere he turned, people were being sent to "check in" on Jon, per someone's request - whether it be a fellow Dr, a hospital board member, a staff friend of a friend...  Pretty amazing.  We heard this and we hoped that maybe, just maybe, he would then find us cool enough to be real life friends and meet for coffee.  But nope.  No offer was extended.  Definitely not celebrity status.  ;)

Dr. Nwagwu also used this handy dandy plastic brain to show us a glimpse of where Jon's tumor was.  In this pic, he had taken the skull part off, then removed the brain, so we could see deep into the brain, which is where Jon's tumor was.  He pointed his pen to the 7th and 8th nerves which are the little white things near the pen tip.  The 7th nerve is the facial nerve and Jon's tumor was wrapped around it - intertwined in it.  Ugh.  Although he was able to preserve the nerve and leave it in tact, it is traumatized and only time will tell if it will function again.

You have all been such faithful prayer warriors.  We are so grateful.  I am asking once again that you join us in prayer over Jon's current condition.  Here are the 6 major things we are currently praying for:

1) Jon was accepted into the Outpatient Therapy Unit at Mission Hospital.  He is currently scheduled to go 3 days a week for the next 8 weeks.  He will be there for about 3+ hours at a time.  Would you pray that he would get increased strength, stamina, and balance in his physical therapy appointments?  Would you also pray that in his speech therapy appointments, they would see some type of movement on the right side of his face?  Any signs of "life" will be an indicator that something is working and will give hope to restoration.

2) Jon has been referred to a neuro-opthemologist at UCI.  We are unsure of if our insurance will approve Jon going to UCI - would you pray that they would approve it and that Jon would be seen by a trusted, respected, successful doctor there and would get in for an appointment soon?

3) While meeting with the neuro-opthemologist, we will discuss the option of putting a gold weight in Jon's right eyelid.  We are told this type of surgery would give Jon the ability to blink that eye.  If his facial movement is restored in the weeks or months to come, the weight can be removed or it can even stay, as it won't bother anything if it is there.  The weight will provide him much needed functionality and pain relief.  Please pray for wisdom for us to make the right decision on if we should proceed with this and for the timing for this surgery.

4)  Jon has also been referred to an ENT that specializes in plastic surgery and restoration after brain surgeries.  IF Jon's facial paralysis does not heal, there is a surgery they can do to restore movement in Jon's right cheek.  It would consist of attaching the 7th nerve (facial nerve) to the 12th nerve (nerve that controls the tongue).  Apparently when this surgery is done, it can allow the 7th nerve to function again to a certain degree.  The ENT will determine how Jon is progressing and if/when this surgery would be necessary. Would you pray with us that Jon will not need this surgery?  Our prayer is that Jon's face would be restored on its own over the coming weeks and months.

5) In 5 months, Jon will go for his 6 month, post op MRI.  I know this seems like a long time away, but Jon's body is responding now, so I request prayer now.  Dr. Nwagwu feels like he was able to remove 95-97% of Jon's tumor.  Our hope is that the remaining 3-5% remains the exact same size.  If it does, we will leave it and just monitor it with MRI's every 6-12 months.  However, if it grows, Jon will have to start Radiation.   Would you pray with us that the little bit of tumor left would not grow at all?

6) In addition, the MRI will be checking Jon's LEFT side of the brain.  Unfortunately, when you get this type of tumor under age 40, there is a heightened chance that a "matching" tumor will appear on the other side as well.  Now, the chance is very slight, but it is of enough concern to keep monitoring via MRI's every 6-12 months.  If they saw the same type of tumor starting to grow on Jon's left side, they would hopefully catch it early enough that they would just do Radiation on it.  We would NOT want to have surgery on it, since that would take away Jon's hearing on his left side as well - which would obviously leave him completely deaf.  By monitoring it frequently enough, we feel very confident that even if a tumor started growing, they would absolutely catch it in time.  However, would you please pray with us that NO tumor would grow on his left side?  (like, ever.)  Even though it is only a slight chance, we want to make sure it is covered in prayer.

THANK YOU for being faithful in prayer.  THANK YOU for being a safe place to bring all of our "stuff" and lay it out in honesty...  The unknowns.  The questions.  The concerns.  The hopes.  The celebrations.  THANK YOU for loving us enough to care and even read this far.  :)  THANK YOU for not letting us walk this road alone.  We feel your love.  We feel your support.  We feel your prayers.


  1. Lord we are praying for all these things for Jon to be able to have the strength to go through his therapy and get movement back in his face..and that he will be approved to go to UCI. Also for his eye that they can fix it with a weight so he can blink.we also pray for no more surgery and his face will be restored with out surgery..and also for all the other things being asked for so that Jon will not lose any more hearing or problems with his sight..Be with Jon and Deanna and their family in this hour of need..I pray all these things in Jesus name. Amen..

  2. prayed through your list tonight, Deanna

  3. Shoubert and I have been praying with you, Deanna and Jon, and will continue! Thank you for helping us pray specifically. How amazing to be so close to such amazing medical facilities and doctors. As soon as I saw the picture of Dr. Nwagwu, I knew he must be from West Africa. (is he??) Some day, maybe, I will have a chance to tell you the place West Africa holds in my heart and my experiences there, but to know someone from that area of the world had such an impact on Jon (and certainly many others) would be inspirational to me. Your blog is truly inspiration too, just in a different way ;)
    If you don't get a chance to answer here I will ask you at OCCC :)

  4. We will be praying for sure!! Love, The Gerbers

  5. My Grove, Riverside friends and I will be praying for all the above and for your family!

  6. We have been praying and will continue to pray for you, Jon and your family! Lots of love, Doug and Meredith Thomas

  7. Always praying for your family, Deanna.