Dear Family and Friends,
Since the last post, Ginny and Joe celebrated their 26th anniversary. Congratulations Joe and Ginny! It is clear that your love and devotion to each other as well as your incredible faith in God's love for us, despite the madness of Feb. 12, has enabled you to weather this tragedy with grace and resolve.
We are grateful for Joe's continued improvement but many challenges remain. Joe is able to open his mouth much better and thus eating is less of a struggle. After the surgery that removed his external mandible fixator in May, Joe could barely open his mouth--they measured the opening as 13 centimeters--but now he's up to 31 cm with 40 being "normal." Friday Joe and Ginny went to a picnic gathering in the neighborhood with 3 other couples (Happy Birthday, Bill) and had a great time. Though Joe does better with one-on-one conversations, he has improved in his cognitive ability to process multiple verbal inputs. We are quite proud of Keith and Stephen who have been a great help to Ginny by helping their Dad and giving Ginny time to address the myriad routine household issues everyone faces. Keith is his Dad's strength coach, helping him with his left grip strength, which is one of the few areas on the left side to remain weak. Stephen is Joe's running coach; as you can see from the picture from the last post, he goes to the track to work out and is now JOGGING!! He made it around the track twice (800 meters) in 6 minutes. He is quite happy about his improvement but still bemoans being so out of shape. He apparently has jogged around the neighborhood as well. This is all well and good, but despite the fact that Joe is no longer running into walls at home and is more "sure footed" to use Gin's words, we are all worried about Joe falling. Recall that Joe was originally scheduled to have a plate inserted in his skull to protect his soft spot on July 6; this surgery is now at least 6 weeks out for a variety of reasons. Apparently the neurosurgeon, Dr. Tau, wants more detailed scans, to ensure the fit of this prosthetic plate, as do the manufacturers of the plate. However, we've been waiting 2weeks for the scans to be scheduled and after those are done, sent and read, it takes another 4 weeks to actually make the prosthetic, and then there is the scheduling of the surgery, etc. PLEASE pray for this process to speed up a bit as the brain is herniating into the right eye area(gravity?). Once this surgery is complete, the next step is the right eye but the nature of that step remains unclear. Recall that Joe is blind in the right eye and this is the eye that sustained the greatest damage from the bullet. The doctors are keeping an eye on it as it is sinking. So far it is still getting oxygen so still viable but may eventually have to be removed--the odds of the latter depends on which doc one talks to. Though there can be no major surgery any time soon to the bones above and below the eye due to dangerous proximity to brain tissue, a prosthetic eye appears to be possible anyway. This is all very complicated and I apologize if I don't have this quite right. In any event, the key surgery is the plate insertion, so again, please pray the scans get scheduled and the whole process is expedited a bit. The left eye vision is without question the biggest threat to Joe's quality of life and is his greatest challenge. He still only sees the right third of the visual field, suffering from what the experts refer to as "left side neglect" He has therapy and exercises to help him learn to scan left. When talking to Dad Leahy on Father's Day, he mentioned that an improvement of Joe's vision is something he constantly prays for--I'm sure Mom, Ginny and the whole extended family agrees!
I hope I wasn't too negative in this post as there is so much to be grateful for. Joe and Ginny have increasingly been able live a bit more "normally" and have gone to graduation parties, church, and other outings. Joe has been to the university periodically talking to his research advisees and other activities. He is working very hard in therapy and I think sleep has improved somewhat though I forgot to ask Ginny if Joe is still waking up for breakfast snack at 3 am.
As always, we ask for your continued prayers, and we thank you for all you have done for Joe and our family.
Blessings to all,