9/10/06 9:15 pm

September 10, 2006 at 9:46 pm 8 comments

i haven’t provided many updates on mike’s recent progress and he is doing great lately.  some of his newest exploits, (if you will), are that he is scratching his eyebrows with one finger… (I don’t know why his eyebrows have become so darn itchy or maybe he is just showing off his new flexibility!); he is also repeatedly leaning his head and shoulders forward and sometimes even holding his hand out for help to sit up in bed.  he is pretty intent on this goal and so i have been told they will be working on that this week.  i also got to take mike on a short and sleepy walk outside on thursday with the kids and a sweet and lovely friend.  some days this week he has seemed annoyed or agitated (maybe it’s the football games getting him all worked up).  i also have enjoyed a few days of easygoing carefree visits where i talked a lot and he would sometimes appease my request for a response with a fake cartoonishly overdone look of surprise.  he is teasing me.  some days he is moving his lips a lot to speak and sometimes you can make out what he is saying.  sometimes not.  and sometimes he doesn’t try to talk at all and sticks to nodding.  so you never know what you’ll get on any given visit.  for best experiences visit often!

that piece of advice leads me to an awkward subject.  i am so blessed by so many as always to be able to visit mike every day because gracious friends and family babysit our kids for free.  yet i noticed when i scanned the signin sheet at Manorcare a few days last week that some days went by where i was his only visitor.  now some people indeed skip signing in so i could easily be ignorant of his day’s visitors.  but i am finding myself concerned by the number of people apologizing for not getting the chance to visit mike yet.  i know what the busy life can be like where literally one more thing simply does NOT fit.  and though it breaks your heart there is no way possible one more thing can be juggled in.  i understand that.  but i suspect that it is likely that some of us are just struggling to remember, prioritize or muster up even the courage to stop by to visit.  if that is you, i want to say, just do it.  stop wishing or wanting and do it.  we have been so blessed with visits from people who haven’t even spoken to mike in years and others who never met mike before this hospitalization but have heard, prayed and invested themselves.  please wonder whether he would ALSO enjoy a visit from those he would normally rub shoulders with regularly.  on my best day i usually spend maybe 3 hours with mike.  and other days i spend much much less time.  consider that he may be awake and alone for another 10 hours a day or more.  if you can find 10 minutes to drop by, just do it.  it will break the monotony and give him a highlight to think about and remind him that he is loved.  every visit doesn’t have to be magical or long or anything.  start with short.  watch and comment on some tv with him.  bring an article to read to him or anything you could use as a diversion while you are there.  but go.  be there.  please.  i pray that God will minister to you as you minister to him in this way.

one more fun highlight.  my very busy friday included a wonderful wedding in Chicago of a favorite old club kid/leader, a train ride home with both kids and a homegame at the high school.  we got home that night at 10:30 and missed visiting mike that day.  so i felt guilty and was telling mike about all we were busy with and about the game and who we got to see and hang out with and his final proclamation for me was, “awesome”.  that’s him.  he loves to love kids for Christ, no less today than yesterday.  what a sweet reminder.

thanks and amen-    michelle

Entry filed under: updates.

9/4/06 9/11/06 3:30 pm

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mary stadler  |  September 11, 2006 at 7:56 am

    I was very glad that you explained the need for any kind of visit to Mike. I wanted to visit, but wasn’t sure if I should since I was not a family friend. I have heard about Mike through the staff I work with at YL, but I am not sure he knows who I am. Thanks for clarifying that any visitor is welcome.

    A second note – regarding when to visit. How often and for how long are his therapy sessions? Is there a set schedule to those? I would want to avoid coming when he is busy with therapy if possible. Maybe you could post a note regarding this topic. Thanks!

    You are in my thoughts and prayers. Take care of yourself – Mike needs you.

    Mary Stadler

  • 2. Mike and Mitzi Kalin  |  September 11, 2006 at 9:02 am

    Mike and Michelle,

    Just wanted to leave a note to say how much we enjoyed our time with both of you this weekend. It’s clear that both kids are growing into fantastic little people already, and it was fun to spend time with them. Abbi keeps reminding us of “Kalah and Eeyore” and how she “played and played” with them. Our favorite part was the realization and experience that despite all that is going on, you all still present yourselves and act very much as an entire family. You are both doing a great job of keeping the whole family present in both ‘homes’ right now, in your speech, actions, daily plan, and pictures. Mike,
    before visiting, we worried that you would be bored, or not alert, and hoped we could bring some fun to your day. Because it was our first time visiting, we were not prepared for you to be so…”Mike”! You are looking very much like your old self. Even though we couldn’t understand everything you tried to tell us, you are very much able to ‘be’ in the conversation and communicate much more than we expected. You are well on your way to being home and being able to move and communicate when and whatever you want! You come across to people not as a guy in the hospital, but as yourself with your unique personality. I know there are a lot of stories of others with various outcomes in your situation, but know that your unique process with this situation is, and will continue to be, better than you could ask for or imagine. We are excited to sit with you and listen to all you couldn’t say, and what your thoughts and experiences were and are. I remember being a kid and my dad being hospitalized and physically brought to his knees, as you are. I also remember friends and family and nurses in and out, and our home when he was able to come home (in bed with full time nurses for awhile). That was a rough year for him. The point is, very strong men fall, and with God, they eventually get back up, stronger than before. As the ‘kid’, my dad continues to be my hero, no less superman than before, as I know is the experience for your kids as well.
    Michelle, it was great to spend time with you. You are just a fun person to be around. Spoil yourself a little this week: take naps and relax. This is just as important and productive as ‘activity’! I know Mike is very proud of you, and can’t wait to get back in the chaos of things!
    Mike and Mitzi

  • 3. Kevin Reeve  |  September 11, 2006 at 10:52 am


    I am planning on visiting while I am in town over the weekend of November 4, likely that Saturday. Sure wish I was closer by. . .


  • 4. scott rice  |  September 11, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Dear, Michelle, I first came across this sight through another Young Life contact. I just wanted to say thank you for the postings. I do not know anything of you or Mike outside these postings, but they have affected my life and keep me praying for Mike and yourself. I can see Christ working in you clearly.

  • 5. Tracy Jager  |  September 11, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    I just got home from spending a wonderful 45 minutes with Mike. He was engaged the whole time, listening, trying to talk back (I could only understand him a few times though), nodding, etc. I was rubbing his arm while I filled him in on all the YL goings-on, and then he raised his arm up and grabbed my hand for the rest of the visit. He is getting stronger by the day. He offered his other hand as well and gripped pretty darn good there, too.
    To anyone that is considering a trip up to see him, please go, and please relax – he is still Mike in every way. He even gave me the one eyebrow up look when I told him he was being a showoff with the arm thing.
    I think Michelle said it best when she said it is hard to be Mike right now. There are times when it is hard to know how to be a good friend to Mike. But nothing beats holding his hand and looking him in the eye to say “I love you”. That’s a gift from God.

  • 6. Matt Koupal  |  September 11, 2006 at 7:34 pm

    My son Luke and I took our golden retriever to visit tongiht. We were there for about 1/2 hour. Luke thought that watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon (specifically “High Diving Hare”) would make Mike feel better. And I think he was right. Mike was very active and alert, though we were both frustrated because we couldn’t talk like we wanted. We gripped hands tightly while we prayed for his healing and for Luke’s (Luke just had 2 surgeries himslef). Mike was especially strong when we prayed “in Jesus name, Amen”. I cried a lttle-it’s hard to see my friend to not be able to get up and get coffee at Caribou-but through my tears I could see Mike trying to comfort me. That’s how I knew for sure that Mike was still Mike – of course he would try to comfort me. What a blessing to see him, and to know my friend is still the same guy.

  • 7. Sue Jeffers  |  September 11, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    Michelle, I admire your words of encouragement to us in your days of challenge. It is awesome that you speak from your heart and so candid. I am glad to hear you are doing all that you are and feel for you knowing you have a constant struggle to accomodate your children and to be there for Mike. It is so awesome that you are encouraging us to be strong and visit. I did put off the visit and I have been in health care and around this same scenario may times. I knew exactly what to expect and it was hard for me. I want to take Katelyn and I will have her read this note. I spoke to her about my visit with Mike and later his parents as I stopped them on my way out. She cried and said she wants to visit and I told her I didnt think she was ready to do so and she insisted saying,”Mike ans Michelle are responsible for my faith.” How awesome is that and I talked to her then about how you had been gone that exact week on a retreat,stretching yourself again for Gods will and the chance that you would witness to a young child. It is so true that God chooses us if only we would accept his Holy Spirit into our lives. You are an awesome teacher and the love you give to others will be seen by your children in time and they are so blessed. Thanks for your encouragement and I will take Katelyn soon. I was worried that it would be too upsetting but she wants to go. I love you for your strength and courage to be bold to ask for our visits, it is so important for Mike and to those who visit because of what we will witness.
    Thanks for the updates, I have checked every day since March.

  • 8. mark lehner  |  September 13, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    Michelle and Mike,
    You remain in our prayers daily. Michelle-your faith in the lord and your love for Mike are impressive. Mike-your struggle for a return to normalcy has been followed by many. I, along with many others, pray that you can muster the patience and energy needed for such a battle as yours. We love you, and look forward to seeing you again.



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