Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Give Me a Break!"

Hi Friends!
What a great day . . . Kathi "showed off" a little for me and I was amazed at the progress in just the last 3 or 4 days. 

The first thing I did today was check her sleep log from last night - and she had slept the entire night. Praise God! When I walked into the room, Kathi looked at me and said "The doctor told me I would be in the hospital for a few more weeks." 

Now, the significance of this is 1) She finally remembered she was in the hospital. 2) She remembered talking to the doctor this morning and 3) She's right about the time frame. 

Kathi proceeded to tell me that she had walked in the hallway today with a walker and it was hard. She expressed amazement at the length of time she has been in the hospital and that she can't remember any of it. Her self-awareness was greatly improved today. The down-side of this self-awareness is now she recognizes that she has pain in her leg and some of her joints. 

I was shown some of her work from a few weeks ago when the therapist asked her to outline the letters "A, B & C" that were pre-written for her. She couldn't do it. Today, she wrote the entire alphabet without any problem. When she forgot her therapist's name, she said "Hey - I have a traumatic brain injury, give me a break!" What a hoot!

We sat for a while as she opened, read and talked about the various cards and notes she has received. She was flabbergasted that so many people had written her encouraging cards and had been praying for her over the last six weeks.

After 90 minutes of working hard, her ability to concentrate on the present started to suffer a little. She asked me to help her pack her things up so that we could get home. But today, that minor glitch in her thinking was the exception and not the rule.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I thought I would just send out a picture of Kathi after she enjoyed lunch today. She has been upgraded to eating with three other people along with a monitor. Good improvement! It was so exciting to see her sitting and holding up her own head - because the last time I saw her sit up, she could not hold up her head. 
I was on a mission to deliver some clothes today, but was pleasantly surprised to be able to talk to one of her therapists. She wanted to give us all praise for putting Kathi's therapy ahead of our need to be present. She also said that Kathi was working "like a dog!" Right after taking this picture, Kathi insisted that I take one of the two of us.

She looked at me today and said "This body   -   it just won't do what I want it to." That was a very coherent statement. It will soon, Kathi, it will soon . . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Appointments For Tomorrow"

First of all, I want to say a big "thank you" to everyone who donated blood on Kathi's behalf last Sunday. There were 62 donors (42 at the church and 20 in BloodSource's office) - way above our goal of 24 donors. The people at BloodSource said that each donor has the potential to save three lives. If you do the math, 62 x 3 = 186 lives. You guys are great! What a wonderful gift.

I popped in to see my friend tonight while she was having dinner. Kathi is still on a soft diet and needs 1-to-1 monitoring while she is eating. This is because she is still not a strong chewer and swallower. 

She was delighted to see me, but basically stopped eating at that point to talk to me. So her nurse took her dinner away. This just reinforced to me that she really can not focus on two things at once right now. (I guess all those specialists are right . . . go figure!) 

Once again, she was very chatty and animated - but confused and fuzzy in her thinking. Innately a Type A personality, she feels the pressure to be accomplishing something. She was concerned about her "appointments for tomorrow" and wasn't sure that she will continue to be a full-time student, or work part-time. Bless her heart - her mind is just racing trying to fill in the holes. In case you wonder, we gently bring her back to the present, reinforcing where she is, what has happened, that she no longer is in college, and that her only job is to "get better." We assured her that we are taking care of all her appointments and ministry responsibilities. Someday she will recall all this on her own.

It was also interesting to watch when another person entered the room and began to talk to her. You can tell that she becomes easily overwhelmed and stops talking - trying to process all that is going on. I tell you this, because I want to be accurate and up front with how she is healing. Time is her friend in this "re-booting" of her brain. Thank you all for respecting the "No Visitors" restriction at this point. We all want what's best for Kathi.

Her leg is healing well, but sleep CONTINUES to be a problem. The doctor has tried various medications to help, but she still only sleeps an hour or two at a time. I asked her if she was out of bed today - she said yes, but that she is very weak and she doesn't understand why. So continue to pray for rest, strength and healing of those fragile connections in her mind.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Small Talk

I know for many of you, this is a lifeline to Kathi. So, I am diligently filing the latest blog even though there hasn't been much change, or things to report. I visited with her today for about thirty minutes, and she was exhausted from the beginning. We read her most recent cards - she enjoyed the riddles that were sent to her - and that just about wiped her out. I was informed that she still isn't sleeping well at night (only about 4 hours last night) and that is tough on her. 

She was gracious and excited to see me, though. We talked a bit and I commented on how her memory was a little fuzzy. "Really?" she asked. "Did I tell you that I recently married Robert Redford?" She gave me that famous grin, and then admitted that her memory was fuzzy. I'm amazed that she never misses an opportunity to make me laugh. 

This begins week two of rehab. Please pray for her ability to get some good sleep - especially at night. Pray for strength and continuing healing of her brain. Praise God for her sweet spirit and sense of humor.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Evaluation, Treatment Plan & Blood Drive

Today was a big day - we met with the various professionals involved in Kathi's care and treatment. It was informative and helpful! 

We first met with her speech, occupational and physical therapists. They are bright, competent and compassionate people. They let us know that Kathi is doing great. Very constructive information was given to us, along with ideas to make this rehab be the best it can be. One of their basic requests was to decrease her stimulation as much as possible. She is easily distracted by sounds in the hall, a napkin in her lap, or a chipped fingernail . . . and then she can't focus on their training and instruction. So they asked that we discontinue any visitation except for her immediate family. They explained the energy it takes to "visit" with someone detracts from her ability to re-train her brain. As painful as that is for us (and you), whatever is best for Kathi is our focus. Thank you for your understanding!

Kathi's diet has advanced a bit, and she is enjoying it. She has been transferred to a special bed (a veil bed) to better protect her from injury or falls. The various teams told us that Kathi is such a sweet person - her kindness shines through to them. They warned us that with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) we may find that she displays unusual anger or frustration, so don't be surprised. But at the end of the meetings, the speech therapist said she doubted we would ever see that in Kathi. It isn't in her spirit. 

We all want to know HOW LONG and HOW MUCH recovery will we see, right? I know that I want to know . . . and as you can imagine, the rehab teams won't say. It could be six months or two years - but they were very optimistic that she would have a "good" recovery. Just to remind everyone - Kathi sustained a horrible brain injury. We give praise to God for her recovery so far - and it is totally in His hands as to her further recovery.

This Sunday, July 20, there is an ability for you to help in a tangible way. The first week following the accident, Kathi needed a HUGE amount of blood products. So, Lakeside Church is hosting a blood drive from 8:30am to 12:30pm through BloodSource at the Lakeside Folsom campus. Your blood donation can be credited to Kathi's blood account which will go towards saving another person who sustains a traumatic injury. You can make an appointment ahead of time by emailing, or you can just walk in that day. If you want your donation to be credited to Kathi, just mention that to the blood drive staff. For additional information, you can call Lakeside Church at (916) 985-3245.

In closing, I want to give you a "Kathi-ism" - we were discussing styles of music today. One of us mentioned that we like a combination of old hymns and current Christian music. Kathi smiled and said "Aren't all hymn's old?" Hmmmmm . . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Address for Kathi

For those of you who want to send cards or letters to Kathi, you can send them to

Kathi Sturgeon
c/o Lakeside Church
745 Oak Avenue Parkway
Folsom, CA 95630

Monday, July 14, 2008

"What Was I Thinking?"

OK . . . first some humor. This afternoon, Kathi was snoozing a little bit when the hospital chaplain walked in. He introduced himself and asked if I was family. I explained just a close friend and Kathi's medical contact. She opened her eyes and looked at me and said "Who made you in charge?" I came right back with "That would be you, Kathi." She gave me a cheesy smile and said "What was I thinking?" Oh my goodness - besides being very funny to me, it shows what great connection she is making in her brain. Is it always like this? No . . . but more and more often. 

She was cranky, in general, when I arrived today, but in a sweet way, and always with a smile. When I would reach for her hands that are always scratching and picking, she would smile and say "You're mean." She must have told me four times that rehab was hard. Yes, it is. I explained that she was used to hard work, having trained for huge bike trips. She said, yes, but she had never done rehab before. 

She discontinued her own NG tube in the middle of the night, (pulled it out herself) and the staff decided to give her a shot at eating pureed and thick fluids. So far, so good. She asked me why she couldn't have water and complained about "too many rules." 

I share all this just to give you a glimpse of how she is doing cognitively. (Great!) She is very much the reflection of Christ, as she complains with grace and humor. 

She was able to recall on her own today that she had been in an accident riding her bike. She is amazed that people are asking about her . . . and Rodger and Lynn Schmidt in Mozambique, she gave a huge smile to me when I told her of your prayers. In fact, everyone should know that we have read every card to her, and relayed the messages from the blogs. 

Prayer requests: increasing strength and endurance for Kathi; continued tolerance to feedings; healing of her leg wound; wisdom for her doctors. 

As I was leaving Kathi asked if we should make plans for lunch tomorrow. I explained that I wouldn't be there for lunch. She said ok, then said . . . "Shouldn't we make plans for lunch tomorrow?" I'll give her that one.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Change of Scenery!

Well, it finally happened today. Kathi made the move to the rehab facility. She handled the move with grace and humor. I was pleasantly surprised how much she was talking today. I caught up with her just as she was being wheeled into her new room. She is just the sweetest thing - still smiling and saying "thank you" for everything. It is exciting to have her begin this new journey. She was able to verbalize that she was in "rehab" and would be "working hard." The challenge will be if she remembers that tomorrow.

She once again forgot my name (ouch!) but remembered my special skills and complimented me on them. But, she also forgot where she lives, or that she lives alone. Oh well . . . she still makes me laugh!

We broke the first rule today - no phones. But, what can I say - rules are made to be broken (sometimes!) and we dialed her sister, Theresa, in Washington state and Kathi talked to her for a while. We had to hide the phone - much like I'm doing on my drives this week. 

Assessment of her skills/needs will happen over the weekend by physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Then on Monday, the work begins! The doctor in charge of her rehabilitation has stressed that she can't have visitors while she is in therapy during the day. He suggested that we hold visitors for a week or so to allow her to settle in. She also cannot have phones or TV until she "earns" them. When evening visiting is allowed, we will let you know and ask that you schedule with her care team. Information on who to contact will be posted on the blog.

Physically, her leg wound is healing well; she no longer has an IV; and the doctor hopes to remove some of her other tubes tomorrow. She still has a feeding tube and that will also be assessed over the weekend. 

We wished her a "good-night," tucked her under her covers and told her to go to sleep! This may be her first night of sleep without alarms and monitors. Sleeping is healing . . . pray for good sleep!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moving Day - NOT!

Today is day 22 . . . and when we look back at how far Kathi has come in her healing, it's amazing. Focusing on this helps deal with the small "hiccup" in this week's progress. Kathi didn't transfer to the rehab facility as we had hoped on Tuesday. Yesterday, she was still very fatigued and less talkative, running a fever, breathing a little harder and her left eye was swollen from Monday's surgery. The doctors decided to keep her in the TNICU, repeat a CT scan of her head and get a chest xray.

Today we learned that her CT showed improvement from yesterday, her chest xray was normal, her temperature was nearly normal and she had regained her sense of humor. She is still very tired, her voice is merely a whisper, and it takes a long time for her to process her answers. She isn't able to have liquids anymore, but continues on the tube feedings. This afternoon tests revealed that she has a urinary tract infection, so antibiotics have been started.

I watched today, as the occupational therapists slid her onto a tilt-table, strapped her on and moved her into a standing position, bearing most of her own weight. It was difficult for her to hold her own head up because her muscles are weak - but even in that, she gave me a smile while I took her picture for her scrapbook. After about ten minutes, you could see that she was wiped out. She became very pale. But this was a great accomplishment. Back to bed she went, and sound to sleep. 

On a positive note, I enjoyed looking at pictures with her that were left by her sister, Theresa. Kathi was able to identify some of her friends, her cat, Spike, and all of her family. When I received a phone call from her "big boss," Pastor Brad, she heard his name and smiled a big smile. (That was very politically correct, Kath!)

Anyway, continue praying for strength and healing. The Great Physician is in control!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Small Setback

We know that Kathi's journey will be sprinkled with setbacks, and today we had a small one. As I stated yesterday, Kathi had surgery yesterday to replace her bone flap. Today she is still somewhat drowsy and less animated than she has been over the last week. Her left eye is a little bruised and swollen today, most likely from the surgery yesterday. Given all that, her sister wasn't surprised that the doctor decided to keep her another night and repeat a CT scan in the morning before signing off on the transfer to rehab. It is likely she will transfer tomorrow.

On a positive note, she passed her "swallow test" and had her first lunch of thick liquids. If she handles this diet well, at some point she won't need her feeding tube. This is a specific prayer request that she begin to eat and swallow effectively. 

We were able to give her a manicure today. This was not just for "looks," but Kathi tends to scratch at her wounds, and we just wanted to decrease the chances of injury. She slept during part of it (the soaking in warm water) and was a little confused during the trimming of her nails. But we were successful and she was sweet!

Another area of prayer: Theresa and Dave, Kathi's sister and brother-in-law. This is a huge event in their lives. Most people never have to experience what they are going through and the stress is huge. Theresa has been strong, wise and pro-active in dealing with Kathi's accident. Pray for continued strength and discernment as they continue to work through this tragic event. Theresa hopes to return to Washington for a much needed reunion with her husband and daughter after Kathi is settled into the rehab center. As you can imagine, her feelings are very conflicted - wanting to stay and wanting to go. I love this woman very much - please pray for her. 

When Kathi is transferred, we will let you know. God bless you!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sponge Bob

Today was another day of steps to healing for Kathi. She went to surgery this morning to replace the piece of skull that had been removed after her accident to allow her brain room to swell. It was determined by her physicians that her condition had stabilized well enough to do this. Yippee! 

This afternoon she was sleepy and sedated, gradually coming out of the anesthesia. So, she wasn't quite as perky as she has been, but she did still make me laugh out loud.

She was a little restless -squirming a bit. I asked her about pain, then asked if there was anything else I could get her. She looked at me and said "coffee." I apologized to her and explained that she couldn't have coffee quite yet, but soon. I then tried (unsuccessfully) to find a baseball game on TV for her to watch. While flipping through the channels, the cartoon "Sponge Bob" came on and I asked if she wanted to watch that. With a totally straight face, she said, "No - he's too self-absorbed." (Get it? He's a sponge . . . absorbent . . . ) Then promptly fell back to sleep. I don't know if she was making a joke, or merely rambling while coming out of anesthesia. Regardless, I laughed . . .

It hasn't been firmed up yet, but she may be transferred to rehab tomorrow afternoon.  That will be excellent for her - a dedicated team of people to help her re-learn to do all the things she needs to do.

What a blessing to laugh at her bedside and watch her mind continue to heal. How powerful is our God!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Confession Time . . .

OK - confession time. Two of us are doing the blogging, and I've been back east for a week visiting family. When I walked into Kathi's room today, my heart soared . . . when I left last Saturday, she was no where near the level of recovery that she showed me today. Can I hear a loud "PRAISE GOD!" I asked her if I could take her picture and put it on her Blog. She gave me a look that we all recognize as "please, no pictures!" But she said yes, although she looked a little confused. I explained what a Blog was and that hundreds of people have been reading about her progress. She said "wow." She also stood today with a special device of support for about 15 or 20 minutes. After that, she was pretty tired. 

Kathi did not pass another swallow test today, so her feeding tube is going to be reinserted. She was able to tell me that she worked at Lakeside Church and told her sister that the year was 2008. But she couldn't remember my name . . . I'll try not to take it personally! After visiting for a while, I told her I would be back tomorrow, and she said "What time?" 

Her leg is healing well according to the orthopedic surgeon. She is getting stronger and stronger. It is unknown exactly when she will be transferred to rehab, but the sooner, the better. She still has a long road ahead, but it is with much support from all of you who love her.

Thank you, thank you to all who have prayed, fasted and kept Kathi in your thoughts. It is only by God's grace that we are seeing such recovery. 

Don't be discouraged if the updates begin to go every other day. We have a busy couple weeks ahead of us. We will make sure that significant events are communicated well. 

Friday, July 4, 2008

I Feel Strong

"I feel strong!" Those were the words Kathi shared with her sister yesterday. In fact, Kathi is feeling so strong that she pulled her feeding tube out on her own. And if she passes her swallow test today, she can begin to eat soft foods. Yes, Kathi's progress continues to be remarkable.

The nurses have spent the last couple of days trying to get Kathi as active as possible in preparation of her transfer to rehab. They have her sitting up, standing up (while strapped into a tilt table), and doing memory exercises along with strengthening exercises several times a day. If all continues to go well, it appears that Kathi will be transferred to rehab on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Regarding her memory, Kathi recalls and identifies family and friends. She knows her birthday. And just this morning she started reading some of her cards on her own! Yahoo!

She is also beginning to put words together in complete sentences. And her vocal projection has really improved in the last couple of days! In fact, Kathi really blessed her sister yesterday when she said, "I really appreciate all you are doing for me."

While Kathi continues to run a slight fever, the doctors really feel this is neuro related and has nothing to do with the possibility of infections in her leg or lungs. So as the swelling in her brain continues to go down, so will her fever.

As we have indicated, the next step for Kathi will likely be rehab. It appears that she will likely be moving to the Mercy Rehab Program at Mercy General in Sacramento. Theresa visited the facility yesterday and was comforted by the caring staff and program they have at the hospital.

I don't know about you, but it boggles my mind to think that she is going to rehab so soon. She has made amazing progress and I am so thankful to the Great Physician for the continued healing of our friend and the faithful prayers of his people.

Today, as we pause to give thanks to God for our freedoms here in America, we also give thanks to God for Kathi. She is a blessing to so many of us. Happy 4th! May God bless you! May God bless Kathi! And may God bless America!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An Update on Kathy Hurd

According to Gary, "Kathy's physical progress is nothing short of miraculous."

Kathi was released from UC Davis last Friday and the family celebrated her return with an inspirational piano recital from her son, Miles. While still in considerable pain at times, Kathy's strength is amazing. And her faith in God and the love of friends, gets her through those tough times.

She has begun twice daily "laps around the neighborhood", which consist of walking about 5 houses up the road and back. Way to go Kathy!

In an email, Gary writes, "We know that much of her recovery is a direct result of our many supporters who have been lifting her up in prayer over the past weeks. We are forever in their debt."

As you pray for Kathy Hurd, pray for pain management, relief from the nausea caused by the pain medication, strength, and continued healing. And pray that Gary would find patience, renewed strength and compassion as he heeds God's calling - Hebrews 2:1-4.

Finally, the Hurd family wants to go on record that they are Giants fans!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


To quote Theresa, "Kathi amazes us!" And today was no exception.

First, Kathi made it through the skin graft quite well and is all patched up! There was no further infection, so the doctors were able to do what they needed and she is resting quite well in her room this evening. Due to some other emergencies they unfortunately had to delay her surgery until this evening, but around 9pm we got the great news! So it is looking like rehab is the next step in Kathi's journey.

Other positive news today is that Kathi's temperature consistently stayed under 100. A culture of her lungs came back clear. And the swelling in her brain seems to be going down. Kathi's progress is simply amazing and we see that each day she becomes more and more reactive to outside stimulus.

Kathi evidently showed some attitude while working with an exercise ball today. Her sister Theresa was doing some hand exercises with Kathi in order to help her gain more strength and movement on her right side. When asked to move the ball from one hand to another, Kathi looked straight at Theresa and asked, "why?" Theresa said, it was as if Kathi was telling me, "I will show you!"

Another fun incident happened when some of the gals around Kathi where talking this afternoon about shopping for shoes. As they talked, Theresa mentioned to Kathi that she can't go shopping for a lot of shoes because "her husband has her on a budget," at which Theresa made a face. And without missing a beat, Kathi mimicked the facial expression of Theresa. While that brought laughter to the room, it did reassure everyone that Kathi knows what is going on. Brother Jack put it this way, "Kathi hasn't lost that twinkle in her eye. And in that twinkle, you see her love for life and her love for God."

Yes, it is all simply amazing! And while we have all witnessed God's amazing hand on Kathi's progress, we just want to remind everyone that her journey will still likely be long and involved, so your continued prayers are so appreciated. We will continue to keep you updated!

P.S. Kathi when you get to reading this, I just want to let you know that the Giants beat the Cubs tonight 2-1!