29 June 2009

The Membership

One of the only modern writers I am willing to read is Wendell Berry. I have already admitted that part of the draw for me is that my oldest child reminds me of what I imagine Mr. Berry to be like. We often joke that we are raising Wendell Berry. Beyond this, Berry happens to understand certain things about life that elude most people, and he writes about it in a way that expands the souls of his readers.

I, for one, am certainly a better person for having read his work.

Berry's fiction takes place in an imaginary small town {settlement?} called Port William. He calls this community "The Membership," which is an allusion to the apostle Paul's description of Christian community in his epistles, where he calls us members of one body, which is to say Christ's body:
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Romans 12:4-5
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.

I Corinthians 12:12
In Berry's version, the concept of membership is expanded to the general community, a community that hearkens back to the earlier days of America when faith and public life weren't as divided as they are now.

The Membership is paradoxical in nature. Members are free, and yet they have responsibility towards one another. It reminds me, actually, of a scene in Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter, when Almanzo had just saved the town by acquiring wheat to stave off starvation, and then the owner of the store selling said wheat wants to price gouge. Pa Ingalls avoids a riot by explaining to the store owner the nature of the situation: he has the right to charge whatever he likes, but he needs to understand that those who survive the winter will not forget his deeds, and they will choose to shop elsewhere when spring finally arrives.

The implication in the story is that the store owner was wrong to charge poor starving people outrageous prices. We all think this now, but these days most of the stores we patronize are owned by multinational corporations who could care less about Ma and Pa Ingalls. They are not part of The Membership.

Once upon a time, earlier in our marriage, Si and I were part of a beautiful little ministry in our church that I suppose had its own version of The Membership. We helped each other through life in our own ways, mostly through baby showers and meals whenever a young family was in distress. I treasure our memories of this group, but I think it in no way prepared me for the actual membership to which we belong, and have always belonged, I suppose, without realizing it.

The Membership of which I speak is the one which has carried us these past few weeks. Members sat beside me while my husband was in a coma. They brought, and still bring, food to our home every single evening without fail. They played with my children. They ran my errands. They helped me fill out paperwork. They fixed my broken sprinklers, mowed my lawn, and repaired our drainage problem. They helped me keep my sanity. They prayed fervently for our family.

The Membership to which we belong is a little more complicated than Wendell Berry's simple world. We belong to our church, but also to our family. We belong, in a way, to Si's workplace, and also to old friends scattered throughout the state, the country, and the world. And we belong to the worldwide Body of Christ, which has labored in prayer for our little family for reasons I cannot fathom.

Did I ever tell you I have gotten emails from around the world from people praying for my husband? Why these people remember us and care about us is beyond me. I am so small, and yet I am grateful.

In all of this, the concept of Membership, something I understood intellectually, became living and breathing. I have seen love in action, and I am refreshed. I have been on the receiving end of deeds done by people who would never want credit for them, but I declare that I have been blessed beyond all expectation.

Who knew that out of chaos could come such stability and love? If God has revealed anything to me in this time, it is the nature of The Membership, something I think I did not fully understand before. I feel obligated, but in a good way. It is sort of like the obligations of the marriage covenant, born of free will and deep love. These are obligations we give ourselves to fervently for we know we were created for such things, and happy is the one who fulfills his duties.

28 June 2009

Update Thirteen

Welcome Home
in our email inbox
when we returned home



I have been so busy the past couple days that I forgot to post the good news anywhere other than Twitter. I figure this is better late than never:

6/26/09
Dear Family and Friends,

Well, around 4pm today, I drove my love home from the hospital! Soon after, three of our four children arrived home to greet their father. Actually, the 10-month-old was more interested in eating an avocado, but you get the general idea.

We are doing okay tonight. Children are sleeping in their beds, the ducks are fed, and the kitchen is fairly clean. Not bad for such a big day.

We've had a couple bumps in the road today. One is that our two-year-old was unable to come home from her grandparents' due to vomiting. We cannot risk exposing Si to a new bug in his weakened state, but I am heartbroken not to have her here this evening. Please pray for her quick healing.

Our other bump had to do with Si's take-home anti-seizure meds. Apparently, the physician who wrote the prescription doesn't have authority to do so for our insurance, and so our insurance refused to cover the prescriptions, even though it is a generic version of the exact same medicine he had been given in the hospital. So pray for me on Monday when I try to work this out. I couldn't afford to fill the whole prescription, so I filled it through Tuesday in hopes of insurance assistance by then.

The bumps from yesterday are already smoothed out. Plasmapheresis is covered outpatient, and we will be able to do therapy at a location close to home. And logistics with driving Si to his various appointments is starting to come together as family and friends volunteer to watch children or drive my husband places. God once again is smoothing our way.

Tonight is not the last of my updates, I'm sure, but I am going to be less frequent. My husband is home, and if I wrote to you tomorrow, I am sure you would all be bored out of your minds! But I will check in soon and let you know how we are doing with the Long Haul. God has been good to us and I have a sneaking suspicion that we are going to be just fine.

Love to you all,
Brandy

25 June 2009

Update Twelve

Dear Family and Friends,

You would think that, through all of this, I wouldn't be so shocked each time God answers a prayer. But really, He has acted so quickly over and over in the past few weeks, and I am amazed each and every time.

Today marks three weeks for this hospital stay, and it was today that we received the wonderful news that Si is ready to come straight home. He walked so far during therapy today that he'll have to skip the rehab hospital altogether. I had a few things I was nervous about concerning him coming home, but at the top of my list were ability to walk far enough and frequently enough, and ability to oxygenate while breathing normal air.

When I got to the hospital this afternoon, he was off of his oxygen entirely, and I could see on the monitor that he was holding easily at 94%, which is perfectly respectable. Also, our church allowed me to borrow a walker to help him stay on his feet while he gets his bearings at home.

I admit I'm still a little anxious. We're going to have a lot to do for probably two weeks to try and get him back in shape. We'll spend time with our chiropractor, general practitioner, plasmapheresis nurse, and, hopefully, physical therapy.

Current prayer requests include our managing of logistics for all of these appointments {including the driving issue}, and Si's stamina to handle them all. Also, we are praying that our insurance will be amenable to the outpatient plasmapheresis and physical therapy. It has been covered IN the hospital, but it was mentioned to us that we could have some problems OUT of the hospital. We are hoping, also, that we are allowed to have therapy at an office that we like that is also quite close to home.

And lastly, a prayer request for me, as I handle this transition. Si will be home, but I will still be a single parent in many ways, with more responsibilities rather than less, and sometimes I doubt my ability to do it all. Of course, it helps that all of you have done so much of my shopping and cooking and cleaning over the past month!

Now that I've drowned you all in details, I thought I'd share a bit of poetry from Isaiah. I don't know about you, but poetry is so soothing to my soul in difficult times. I searched my Bible for passages concerning health, and something in Isaiah really stood out to me:
I waited patiently till dawn,
but like a lion he broke all my bones;
day and night you made an end of me.

I cried like a swift or thrush,
I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.
I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!"

But what can I say?
He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.
I will walk humbly all my years
because of this anguish of my soul.

Lord, by such things men live;
and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
and let me live.

Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.

For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.

The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
fathers tell their children
about your faithfulness.

Isaiah 38:13-19

What a story our children have watched unfold here--a story of God's mercy and faithfulness in our lives. How differently the story could have turned out, and yet God in His grace allowed us to remain an intact family. And my children have a father to tell them about God's faithfulness.

And since you have walked beside me through this, you know of His faithfulness in this trial, too.

Love to you all,
Brandy

24 June 2009

Update Eleven

6/23/09
Dear Family and Friends,

My sweet husband seems to be doing well today. When I came in this morning, he said he was unusually sleepy. Shortly thereafter, he told me he had lost his oxygen tubes "about an hour ago" and couldn't find them. Needless to say, I discovered the cause of his sleepiness, and also requested that from now on he push the nurse's button when he finds himself missing something rather important like that.

To those of you who have started visiting the hospital, thank you. The visits seem to be doing him well. Tomorrow afternoon, he will have plasmapheresis, so there is no sense dropping by then as he will be in another Benadryl coma.

His biggest obstacle right now is complete neurological healing. Even though the neurologist was actually the first doctor to clear him for discharge {not that he is leaving soon; he still needs lots of blood healing as well}, his neurological problems seem to be delaying his healing. Specifically, his heightened sense of taste and smell, as well as a new gagging reflex, have made it difficult for him to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods. I have been trying to bring him homemade snacks that are nutrient-dense, things that are normally easy for him to eat, and he is really struggling with it.

We are in a transition time here on the home front. Tomorrow, Si's mom, Penny, who has been here, running my house for me while I've been basically in a daze, is returning home. I'll still have Si's twin and his family here {and my sister-in-law has also been an indispensable help}, but I know this is going to be a loss for the children, and also to my house, which has become accustomed to being clean. Penny has filled the gap in so many, many ways.

A prayer for me would be, I think, perseverance. Up until this point, things have been changing quickly, for worse and then for better. But now there is this feeling of waiting. He cannot yet be discharged because he requires too much care, but the weeks feel like years with him away from us like this. An email recently reminded me of the verse that urges Christians not to grow weary in doing good, and I have tried to take that to heart.

May the Lord's blessings be upon you all.

Love,
Brandy

6/24/09
Dear Family and Friends,

Today was Si's last check with the neurologist, or at least his last in-patient check. The doctor says that he will see him in three or four weeks in his office, and at that time we will begin trying to wean from the weaker of the two anti-seizure medications.

During the check today, Si was given news that I had anticipated, but didn't want to worry him with yet, and that is the fact that, due to state law, he is no longer allowed to drive a vehicle. He will need to be seizure-free for a certain amount of time. This, of course, will complicate his rejoining of the working world, besides all of the other things he formerly did independent of me. However, God has worked everything else out, and I have no reason to assume that this will not also work itself out in time.

An obstacle to his actually leaving the hospital that I just thought of today is that he still requires a 5L flow of oxygen. My understanding is that the fluid is still there around the left lung, but it also sounds like it is a possibility that he retained more fluid around the right after the initial draining procedure. He is fully oxygenated at the 5L, but he needs to be able to breathe normal air. Please join me in praying that the diuretics he is on will remove the fluid around his lungs.

Tonight I am writing a letter to assist Si's application for his employer's catastrophic leave program. This is where other employees can donate their vacation hours to my husband. I had thought we wouldn't need something like this, but this is the only way for us to keep our health insurance now that he has officially used up all of his vacation and sick time. I filled out all of the disability insurance papers, but that is separate from easily retaining the health insurance through his employer, for disability insurance does not change the fact that he is not putting in hours for his work. So I am praying for a smooth path on this one as well. I thank God that Siah has such good bosses that they think of these things and bring them to our attention!

My super-mother-in-law flew back to Tennessee this afternoon. We were all saddened to see her go, but she was here for over two weeks, and I'm sure we've worn her out! She really did rescue us.

I feel like we are now officially in the "long haul." We made it through the initial crisis, and now the adrenaline has worn out. Also, the vacation-feeling the children had about all the visitors is mostly gone. Now, I'm tired and a bit lonely for my husband, and the children are showing wear in their own ways. I was up for hours with our two-year-old last night. It wasn't past my bedtime, but it was definitely past hers. She kept saying that people make her sad, and then eventually she said that Daddy makes her sad because when she hugs him she has to be careful. Except for our 10-month-old, who is too busy exploring his new mobility to worry about all of this, I think we are all feeling the length and depth of this now.

I keep thinking that when Si comes home, everything will be normal, but now I think I realize that it'll be a new normal, not the old normal. The old normal involved, for instance, a husband that threw children in the air and drove himself to work. I'm sure that will return in time, but I was a little naive and thought it'd happen sooner and faster.

However, not to dwell on the negative, we are still seeing the grace of God. Just yesterday I asked you all to pray for my husband's appetite. Today, the hospital offered him a pill to increase it. He refused to take it, and then hid it in his salad. I'm glad, because now the Lord can get all the credit for the fact that Si cleaned his dinner plate this evening.

I can also tell you prayed for my child who was refusing to eat, because she rediscovered her appetite as well.

So thank you all. Thank you for not forgetting about us, but faithfully coming to our home and to the hospital. Si relishes your visits. I especially thank those of you who have come with the purpose of encouraging him in his faith. You know who you are.

Love to you all,
Brandy

22 June 2009

Update Ten

6/21/09
Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings on this Father's Day. This was an extra-special Father's Day for our family, as you can imagine. And we are thankful to the Father in Heaven who spared a husband for me and a daddy for our four small children.

Today, our whole family {save Siah, of course} went to church together. Then, we headed over to the hospital for a visit with Si. He was very tired, but pleased to see everyone. We spent some good time there, and the children had made him some bookmarks for his books. {Yes! He once was blind, but now he reads!} Everyone made sure he knew how much we loved him.

And then we did something totally normal: we went out to eat. Actually, we never do that, so it was something totally special. Cataldo's Pizza had heard about Siah and donated a meal to feed our family, including all of our out-of-town guests. So we had a wonderful time together.

My afternoon visit at the hospital was pretty exciting as well. First, Si's kidney doctor had told him this morning that they expect no permanent damage, and that dialysis is no longer indicated. Also, for physical therapy today, he was able to walk {using a walker} four times farther than just yesterday. To see him regain his strength exponentially is encouraging.

Si is beginning to get restless in the hospital. He tells me time goes so slowly there. He is mentally writing newsletters for work and dreaming of the day when he can go back to his normal life. He is now ready for familiar visitors, as long as you call first and make sure you don't catch him in the middle of plasmapheresis or other procedures.

Prayer requests for tonight would include positive results from the EEG tomorrow and neurological healing. Most of his brain trauma was on his left side. He is still occasionally having hallucinations on that side. His neurologist says he expects this to clear up as everything else has already done so, but Si, of course, would like that to happen now.

All through this journey, we have been reading three Psalms: 30, 46 and 57. Today, as I spoke with my husband, I realized he has new resolve to extend God's kingdom, to live his life in honor of his King. And I was reminded of Psalm 30:9:

"What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?"

I remember praying this Psalm. What good is it for my husband to die when he still has strength in him to praise the Lord? God had mercy, and I pray His kingdom benefits from all of this.

Thank you, once again, for the kindnesses of the day. The cards and emails keep pouring in. I'm sorry I don't have time to return each phone call or email, but please know that I savor every one and they are precious to me {and now Si as well}. Often, I read them at exactly the perfect time, right when I encounter something discouraging. Thank you for being our faithful family and friends.

Much Love,
Brandy


6/22/09
Dear Family and Friends,

Today was a strange day for me because I didn't really see my husband. I went to visit, but he slept through almost the entire time I was there. This was a reminder to me of how much healing he needs. It was also a reminder of how sleepy Benadryl can make him! The nurses call it his "Benadryl coma."

But others saw him also, and so I do have news. The best news of the day is that he had another EEG and though it is not yet normal, it was much better than the last one he had. So we are still seeing slow, steady healing in each part of his body.

This week, he begins to be weaned from the plasmapheresis. Today, he did his usual rotation where he received 14 bags of plasma. But this week he will only have the procedure Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We'll see how he does. If you are in town and have the ability to donate plasma, there are now two patients at the hospital who are receiving the plasmapheresis three times per week. That's a lot of demand for plasma beyond the regular recipients of the procedure who do this on an outpatient basis.

Prayer requests of the day would be continued healing of his brain, liver, and kidneys {of course}; comfort for our four-year-old who has begun to regularly refuse food other than milk and sweets; and ability for Si to swallow pills. Now that he is more alert, they are doing much less by IV and bringing him lots of pills to swallow. He absolutely hates taking pills, and he's begun gagging on the bigger ones. He also says that taking so many makes him full and causes him to have difficulty eating and drinking enough.

Today was another day of blessings, with Tiffany bringing a yummy meal, and a local dad named Steve mowing our back lawn, and then weeding his heart out. In addition to this, we received a mailbox full of love and encouragement. We have been baffled as to why so many people have been so kind to our family. Some of these people have never even met us. And yet God has taught us of His love through them.

We hope that all of you are doing well. May the Lord's blessing be upon you.

Love,
Brandy

20 June 2009

Update Nine

6/19/09
Dear Family and Friends,

What a blessed, blessed day. Even the bad parts were good. The morning began with the news that I was off of my quarantine and free to see my husband. Yesterday evening, he was finally moved to his new room, and I made my way his direction.

While I was there, Siah had a massive adverse reaction to his plasmapheresis. It was the first time this had happened, and it was very scary. His oxygenation fell and kept falling and I could tell he was panicking. There was not one, but two plasma nurses were in the room. They immediately gave him a shot of Benadryl, then ordered something stronger. The amazing part, however, is that while we were waiting for the next drug to come, they bowed their heads and prayed over him. I don't think I have ever heard anyone pray with such authority. I felt honored to be there and witness God working.

Needless to say, my husband is just fine. Again.

We took our shifts today, with my aunt showing up at just the right time to fill a gap and even speak with the neurologist for me. Our prayers from yesterday were answered, and I think that the neurologist DOES have a vision for Si's full healing.

Other good news is courtesy of our wonderful case manager, Lauren. She is already pushing to get rehabilitation set up for us so that it is ready to go when he comes home. She, too, has a vision for full healing and restoration, and she wants him to have the right care to get him there. She told me today that she doesn't know why, but her heart is really in this one.

I don't know why either, but it seems that God has granted us favor at every single turn. We are so unworthy of this and every day I seem to have new reason to marvel.

The best part of the day was our mini family reunion. The children, you may remember, have not seen their father for over two weeks. Today was the day for their first quick visit. They were all so happy to hear their daddy declare his love for them. Nothing could have cheered them up like that visit. And I think it cheered Daddy up, too.

I cannot leave off without first expressing my gratitude for all of the kindness and generosity of this community. We have received more cards, meals delivered, groceries delivered, and so on. Folks have worked in our yard. When I went to Quantum Chiropractic this week, the ladies there proudly showed me the bruises on their arms from donating blood in my husband's name. The list goes on. I have learned a lifetime of lessons in generosity and thoughtfulness these past few weeks.

Love to you all,
Brandy

6/20/09
Dear Family and Friends,

Three weeks ago today I left our son's seventh birthday party slightly early in order to take his daddy to urgent care. I never dreamed that this was the beginning of a long battle. Today when I read about the recall of Nestle products due to E.Coli, I was reminded to pray for these families. They are likely beginning the same long battle themselves.

Though the battle is far from over, and though we have already been at it a {comparably} long time, my soul is no longer downcast, for there are many reasons for joy in this journey. Today was a day of "firsts." Si took his first short walk down the hallway after three weeks on his back. {He'll have vertigo for some time as lying for so long changes a person's balance.} We had our first chance to speak privately about what we had experienced the past few weeks. We prayed together over a meal for the first time in almost a month.

It's the little things that I overlooked until now. I think that he and I have both learned how precious life is. A friend reminded me recently that tomorrow is not promised to us, that we are but a vapor. We have certainly been taught this firsthand, and I thank God that in His discipline of us, we gain perspective.

My heart is full to bursting with love for all of you. I know I ooze my thankyous nightly, but it's true! For instance, Si's summer project was to install the garden borders in our yard. Obviously, that was not going to happen. But my dad, Si's twin Jeremy, and three wonderful men from our church {Pres Brittian, Tim Cox, and Dave Washburn}, came and did the whole job this morning. What an encouragement to my husband to know that his garden is not falling into disarray while he is gone!

I find myself thinking daily of the verse that says, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him?" What are we that God would take such care of us? I can only repeat my gratitude.

Much love,
Brandy

18 June 2009

Update Eight

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, I ended up still being quarantined at home again today, and was never able to see my beloved. It's not that I feel bad so much as I fear inadvertently bringing a bug into the ICU and giving it to my husband or any other patient there.

However, Siah won't be in the ICU much longer! Today he was released to move, but last I heard there weren't beds on other floors available for him. So hopefully tomorrow he will be moved to a regular room on the fourth or fifth floor of the hospital. I'm not sure what to expect as far as how long he will have to remain in the hospital. I know he still needs plasmapheresis once per day {though he is down to receiving only 14 units of plasma daily instead of over 20}.

Yesterday, I went to see our family doctor and he told me in no uncertain terms that Siah's recovery is a miracle. To all of you who were praying, our doctor wants you to know that it is God who ultimately heals. For those of you who are familiar with the story of the birth of our fourth child, you know that this is not the first time that God has brought a member of our family back from the brink of death. I am surrounded by walking miracles, it seems.

On the home front, I think it has been good for me to have the extra time with the children. You might remember that our seven-year-old had planned to quit today, but that never materialized. A friend of mine once told me that great men are not forged in cushy circumstances. She was saying this in response to my expression of a desire to protect my children from as much pain as possible. Seeing my son persevere through the pain reminds me that I am not the only one being refined through this.

So what can I say? The Lord is good to us. I pray you all have sweet dreams this evening.

Love,
Brandy

ps. I do have one prayer request. I would really, really like to convince the neurologist to try and wean Siah off of his anti-seizure meds while he is still in the hospital. The neurologist does not seem to have any vision for Si's full healing, even though only 8% of patients typically need to continue the meds. I know we could get a second opinion later on, but I would feel so much more comfortable testing this path with a full staff of medical personnel around.

17 June 2009

Update Seven

6/16/09
Dear Family and Friends,

Today was a mixed bag, but mostly good.

I'll get the bad part out of the way: Si is still thirsty, hungry, and having technicians miss when they draw blood. All of these things should be resolved soon, however. And, of course, he still requires healing in his brain, liver, and especially kidneys.

The day was good, though. His nurse had mercy on him and didn't use the ice blanket when he had a mild temperature. I was there for three hours in a row, and he slept for two of them, which tells me he is much more comfortable than his previous days. Plasmapheresis was not so horrible, and a couple warm blankets kept him comfortable {he usually requires NINE}.

The infectious disease specialist officially declared he would be reporting this as HUS-TTP resulting from E.Coli 0157 infection. He sounded the "all clear" and lifted the contact isolation, meaning that we no longer have to gown up and scrub in and out of the room.

He was so well oxygenated over the night that he did NOT require draining of the left lung as had been planned for him. He DID, however, end up having dialysis after all.

Keep praying, my friends. I am slightly ill this evening and so tomorrow will be the first time I will not be able to sit with Si at the hospital. It grieves me not to be there! But I know I must protect him by being away. Please pray for the health of our entire family as we go through this. I never considered that if another of us became ill it would further complicate this situation.

Thank you for your prayers, your faithful meal delivery, your kind emails and cards and gifts. You are all such a blessing to our family.

Love,
Brandy

6/17/09
Dear Family and Friends,

Because I was sick last night, I took the day off from the hospital. This means that everything in this update is hearsay. But what I've been told is all good. He expressed interest in taking a real shower, did physical therapy, and ate his first real meal. His mind is still jumbled up from the medications, and he was transfused a lot today, but his move toward more normal life was very encouraging.

Speaking of encouraging, this city has just been amazing to our family. This has been our family's darkest hour, and yet God's goodness and provision has been so evident and so abundant. The people here have literally carried us through this.

It is so easy to watch or read too much "news" and think that the world is in a hand basket going in the wrong direction fast. But here in this city, there are still many noble souls, practicing the simple virtues of caring for their neighbors.

I am still trying to read through David Hicks' Norms and Nobility while I watch my husband sleep. Hicks says that virtue has to do with how someone spends their leisure hours, their spare time. I have never seen so many people spend their leisure hours in acts of love and kindness. Going through this trial has assured me that all is not lost in our culture, that the virtues of love and generosity are still alive and well, that God still works in the hearts of man. I knew intellectually that these things were true, but it is another thing altogether to witness it firsthand.

In the late hours of the night, it is easy for me to begin to get fearful about the details of recovery: how long it will take, how hard it will be. But I have only to look at the past three weeks to regain my confidence that the God who has cared for us thus far will care for us farther still.

I love you all.

15 June 2009

Update Six

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, today was better than the last two days, that much is certain. This morning, when my mom took our first "family shift" at the hospital, Si was still breathing hard and fast. By the time my brother-in-law arrived home from his shift, he told me I needed to call the hospital and discuss consent to drain the lungs.

We had tried so many less invasive options already, but the body just wouldn't dump the fluid on its own. So, I consented to draining the right lung and seeing how he did. It was just beautiful! He did really well, and they took a LITER of fluid out of there. He is already oxygenating better, but I consented to draining the left lung tomorrow. Please pray for the steady hands of the doctor, as there is some risk to this procedure.

For those of you who are interested in these details, not counting the fluid they took directly from the lungs, they have drained over 20 pounds off using dialysis the past three days. It is amazing, to say the least.

As Si's brain is waking back up, he is becoming more and more aware of his basic needs. Today, he was so, so anxious about the fact that the hospital was denying him food, water, and warmth. The water and warmth were understandable, but I could not get an answer about why they were not giving him IV nutrition. He has the correct line in, but every doctor I met said that "not me" was in charge of this decision. In the meantime, my husband asked every 20 minutes for applesauce.

My prayers for tomorrow are that Josiah {1} kicks the fever, {2} stays warm, {3} has a successful drain of the left lung, {4} is given adequate nutrition, {5} is patient about his thirst {caused by the meds}, {6} he quits worrying about his inability to fulfill his responsibilities right now, and {7} he remains sturdy in his faith and relies on the Lord to get him through.

In addition to this, I think our son needs extra prayer. They children seem to be taking turns missing Daddy, and my oldest (age seven) told me today that he hates this. He plans to "quit" on Thursday. He's a planner, that one.

Good news today is that Si's labs look better. He will NOT be doing dialysis tomorrow, which is nice since it is so hard for him. He WILL be doing plasmapheresis, which is even harder, but at least he won't have two procedures back to back like he has the past few days.

I cannot leave off without thanking you all so much for what I have started calling the kindnesses of the day. Thank you for dropping off diapers. Thank you for offering to mow my lawn and fix my sprinkler problem. Thank you for encouraging emails. Thank you for sending us drawings by your children. And thank you most of all for your prayers. They are sustaining the five of us while we wait for Daddy to get better and come home.

Much love,
Brandy

14 June 2009

Update Five

Dear Family and Friends,

Another hard day has come to its close. Siah had made such a leap in improvement that I keep expecting the days to get easier and easier, but we seem to be on a plateau for now.

The biggest issue we are up against right now is oxygenation. I will try to spare you all of the little details that go into why he is having trouble, but the fact is that he is. He had a hard time yesterday, and today was a bit worse. We are trying hard to keep him from going back on the ventilator, but we'll see what happens.

Right now, the plan of action is to try and get the fluid out of his body. He is still retaining so much water. So, he had dialysis this evening again, and he'll have it first thing in the morning. On top of this, we're doing diuretics.

He needs so much prayer right now. He's been running a fever, and that is also complicating his oxygenation because he gets chilled. He has anxiety about missing work. He needs to breathe deeper, slower, and easier. His kidneys need to heal. His platelets need to come back up. He needs the nurses drawing blood to STOP MISSING on their first tries. He needs restful sleep. He needs to stop shivering during his kidney treatments {both the plasmapheresis and the dialysis}.

He is a mess, isn't he?

Only the Lord can put all the pieces back together for us.

Thank you for another day filled with your encouragement. That's what's keeping our family afloat.

Love, Brandy

12 June 2009

Update Four

Dear Family and Friends,

Did you know that the name "Josiah" means "God has healed him"? Years ago, when our oldest son was in the NICU, we had already begun calling him by his middle name. But his given first name is actually Josiah, like his father, and when the nurses called him that, we encouraged it. After all, healing was exactly what we desired then.

And now it is happening again, this time with my husband. Today was a day of progress. This morning, he was taken off of his ventilator. I stayed away because he was not allowed to speak for two hours after this, and I was afraid he'd try to talk with me and ruin his voice forever and ever and ever, as my four-year-old says.

So when my mother-in-law and I arrived in the afternoon and he was sleeping, I was a little bit disappointed. And then he slept hour after hour, and the clock neared the hour when we would have to leave and still he didn't speak, or really open his eyes. And then we were sent out while they tried to insert a feeding tube. This procedure failed {they have to do it carefully since he is so low on platelets}, and when I returned I didn't have much time left with him.

And then he suddenly awoke.

He knew me and we had a real conversation. He told me he loved me for the first time since Sunday night. By talking to him, I was able to discern that he hasn't been very aware of anything these past few days. Even though I was able to speak with him somewhat throughout this week, nothing seems to have made it into his long term memory.

He asked the date. He didn't understand why his brother was here. He was shocked to learn that he was in the ICU. And then he fearfully asked me what was wrong with him. Apparently, he didn't realize the HUS-TTP could do this, so he thought there was something dreadfully wrong {as if this hasn't been dreadful}. I just told him it was the same HUS he's been fighting, and the fight got really bad, but we are so thankful because he's done a very good job. He looked relieved, and then fell promptly to sleep.

What a way to end the day.

As far as numbers go, some of them worsened. His platelets were down, and his LDH was up, both having moved in the opposite direction of where we want them to go. But the change wasn't too dramatic, and his renal function numbers came back improved, so there was still good news in the works.

I actually think a hard part is coming soon. Being a survivor of this is an arduous journey, I'm guessing. I can foresee the many nights I'll be spending in the hospital before he comes home.

But at least he's coming home. God has been gracious to us.

There are many things to pray for for Siah. His body still has so many places to heal. But I also ask you to pray tonight for a man from my church named Joe. I'm sorry that I can't remember his last name tonight. All afternoon, I was watching the room across from us. A man came in from surgery with his head bandaged, and I could tell it was serious. I didn't realize at the time that this man was from our congregation. Please pray for his family, and for him as he recovers from the stroke he had this morning.

Thank you all for the kindnesses of the day. The phone calls. The emails. The letters in the mail. We treasure them all, even when we can't respond to them all.

11 June 2009

Update Three

Here is a copy of the email I sent to family and friends tonight:



Dear Family and Friends,

Today was yet another encouraging day. This morning my father-in-law and brother-in-law spent time with Si while I did "business," such as filling out disability paperwork and paying bills I didn't know existed because my husband always took care of them. I thank those of you who helped me figure this out.

Around 11:00 AM, we got a call saying that they would be bringing Si out of his chemical coma at 1:00 PM, so my mother-in-law and I hurried around in order to be there when he woke up.

He did well overall, though of course it was difficult and very emotional for all of us. It was also a struggle physically to be awake, but on a ventilator. He was fighting it, and I had to ask for them to sedate him mildly because he started pulling at the tubes. He had pulled IVs out of both arms during a toxic fit earlier on, so I was hesitant to leave him alone for any length of time.

Good news of the day is that he did NOT have a stroke after all. He is {weakly} moving his left side. He can see. It seems to me that he could speak if he wasn't intubated. He sat himself up a bit while I moved pillows to make him more comfortable. Overall, his behavior was not that of a stroke victim.

Other good news is that there is a GI doctor that agrees with me that this was most likely STEC and that he does NOT need to be on antibiotics. He is going to be my advocate with the overseeing doctor to try and get him off. He, like me, is concerned that the antibiotics are doing more harm than good at this point. He has no fever and has never had a test come back indicating an infection, except one test for Staph as a secondary infection that was later contradicted by a follow-up test.

His kidneys, however, have not improved at all. He will continue doing dialysis and plasmapheresis once per day for now. Poor guy is very swollen from the kidney issues. I spoke with the renal doctor today and he said that his body is repairing first in other areas and not to expect to see much kidney improvement for at least a week, and also not to worry because we will just keep doing what we are doing since it is obviously working.

At the same time, he told me that Si is not necessarily out of the woods, so we should not get too carried away yet.

His LDH continued to decline {good} and his platelets are up a bit again {also good}, so he is showing across the board improvement.

I put a password on his interaction for now. He was very overwhelmed by all the stimulation today, and would begin physical tremors when they got to be too much, so I'm trying to slow down the crowds, even though they be kind and loving. Please know that this is only for a day or two. Once he can speak, he can tell me more of what he wants.

Everyday, I have reason to be thankful for each and every single one of you. You have written notes of encouragement, sent me ideas, helped me brainstorm, delivered things for me and to me, prayed for my husband and family, sent me money, made meals for us, and this is just the short list. You gave blood to my husband, sweat while playing with my children, and cried with me in the waiting room. If love is not blood, sweat and tears, I don't know what is.

You have taught me a lot about love, and I think these are lessons the Lord has had for me at this time.

09 June 2009

Guidelines for Visiting Josiah

Now that he is in intensive care, I feel I need to give guidelines for visiting my husband. I observed him being distressed by the voice of someone in his room today {an employee}, and felt like I needed to express my preferences. Technically, no one should be getting in without the code, but they have, so this needs to be said.

First and foremost, I prefer that only very close friends and family visit Si. And, yes, I count our pastors/elders as "close." The reason I say this is that he is blind most of the time, and he is also confused. I want him to be visited by people who can actually be a comfort, and right now that means that he needs to know you by voice, not sight.

If you visit, there will be a computer screen next to his bed. There are a whole bunch of numbers, but there is one which is most important. The top white number is his heart rate {beats per minute}. If you can watch any number during your visit, please watch the white number at the top. His heart rate is high, but that is normal for his level of anemia.

109 is what you should consider "normal" for this number right now. If it is above that, he is agitated, and if he is lower than that, he is calming. When you talk to him or touch him, you can tell if he likes it by watching that number. If it goes down or hovers around 109, you're doing good, but if it goes up, you need to try adjusting something--where you are touching him, what you are saying, the pressure of your touch, or the volume of your voice. I would suggest speaking softly and never asking a question because it frustrates him to not be able to answer.

His right side is better than his left. You can hold his right hand.

Please also:

  • Tell him he is on a long road, but everyday he will get a little bit better. Saying this is something my mom learned from her trauma training.
  • Tell him not to try to answer you or rouse himself, that it is okay just to rest and listen to your voice.
  • Tell him that you are here to help take care of his family. He worries about us and saying this has helped him calm down in the past.
  • Tell him it is important for him to sleep and rest so that he can heal.
  • Tell him to be strong and courageous and not to panic or lose heart no matter how bad it gets.
  • Read him Scripture.


Announcement: Twitter Updates

I never thought I'd be a Twitter person, but I'm getting lots of phone calls asking for details on Siah, and I thought that Twitter would be a way of letting everyone keep up with this ordeal without having to call me. It's not that I don't appreciate the calls, but there are so many I have trouble balancing them all.

If you have a Twitter account, you can follow me here. Otherwise, the updates will appear in the sidebar as we go along.

Again, I cannot thank you all enough for your prayers and kind comments. I apologize that I don't have the time to respond to you each individually, but please know that I read and treasure each and every single one.

The blessings have been amazing yesterday. There are churches in California, Tennessee, Florida, and even Honduras, all praying for us. I feel so small, that so many would notice our distress.

08 June 2009

Update Two

Oh, Friends and Family,

I wish I could write and have better news to share. Thank you for being willing to go through this with our family. We feel your hands holding us up in prayer. Today, Si received a prayer blanket from a ministry at church, so I spent the afternoon in a chilly waiting room literally covered in prayer.

My day began with a phone call to the hospital to check on Si, because his mom had flown in and gave me a night off. While I was on the phone with her, Si had two seizures. During one of the seizures, he momentarily lost his vision.

Shortly after this he became blind and also mute. He was very agitated and pulled out both of his IVs. Once this happened, he acquired a new diagnosis, TTP, to tack onto the end, making it HUS-TTP. The TTP is basically descriptive of the fact that this is now effecting his brain.

To be honest, I was falling apart for most of the day and felt like there wasn't much hope, but the ICU doctor, Dr. Ahmed, told me that I just can't expect this to happen quickly. He said that the plasmapheresis isn't something you really see results from in 24-48 hours, but it is a long-term solution. So tonight I have a measure of comfort.

In addition to the plasmapheresis, he began dialysis today.

My biggest concern right now is that he is being given megadoses of IV antibiotics when they do not seem to be medically indicated. Would you please pray that it becomes obvious whether he needs them or not? He was convinced that they were causing some of his symptoms yesterday.

Tonight, for the first time since Thursday, the children are home with me {and my mother-in-law} in their own beds. They are all thankful to be home.

We love you all. Thanks to everyone who donated blood today. I was told that the blood bank was packed with people! It is overwhelming to think of the thousands of people who are praying for our little family. I am truly humbled.

Blessings to you all. I am reminded all over again of why I love our church. Each and every one of you has been a living reminder.

Love,
Brandy

07 June 2009

Update One

I wasn't going to keep updating this blog during this time, but I find I would like to have people praying more specifically, so from time to time I am going to post copies of emails I'm sending out to family.

Overall, the trend is toward improvement, though we have a long ways to go. We are probably looking at quite a long stay in the hospital, and longer at home improving while having regular checkups, etc.

Today included an abdominal x-ray, another plasmapherisis, and also another transfusion of red blood cells. Anyone who is sick may NOT visit with him right now {or visit with someone who plans to visit with him} as his overall immunity is compromised due to the blood issues.

Really not a whole lot to say. Today felt like a "normal" hospital day, if there is such a thing.

Please pray for the children. They are weepy, each in their own way. I feel so torn, but I simply cannot leave Si alone in the hospital when he is this weak. Right now, his brother and sister are with him while I do a couple quick things at home.

{6/6/09 9:30PM}

Last night was worse for Si. He had many bad dreams, and I think he woke up in poorer spirits than yesterday, even though his blood results tell us he has improved slightly. It is hard for me not to ride this roller coaster with him; having him wake up saddened makes me worry all over again.

In addition to getting well, please pray for peaceful sleep. He is very impacted by the quality of his sleep right now. Pray also for the children, who have asked me why they have to sleep at their grandparents' {in the words of my four-year-old} "forever and ever and ever." They are homesick and desperately want their daddy back.

Thank you all for your prayers. My days have been filled with small miracles, mostly of needs being met before I have even begun to pray for help.

Love and blessing to all of you,
Brandy

05 June 2009

Diagnosis

Real quick. We now have a diagnosis, not of the original cause, but at least what they are now treating: HUS, long name Hemolitic Uremic Syndrome. Si is currently in renal/kidney failure. There aren't a whole lot of treatments for this condition, especially when they don't know what is causing it. Today, he went to the cath lab, where they put a little tube in his chest. Tonight, he had his first plasmapheresis.

04 June 2009

Time Out

A lesson in reality was driven home to me today: Coconut water and liquid chlorophyll might be miraculous, but it isn't so effective if you can't keep anything down.

My husband is in the hospital tonight. I probably won't be blogging again until he's out. Your prayers would be appreciated. I'd tell you what is wrong, but we still don't have an official diagnosis.

03 June 2009

In the Medicine Cabinet: Coconut Water and Liquid Chlorophyll

There is nothing like sickness in the house to make me obsessed with health {again}. So, I'm taking the night off of Norms and Nobility {though I plan to be back to that tomorrow, Lord willing}, and I wanted to share about this powerful pair from Creation that are easy to keep on hand for a rainy day.

I found out about both of these "superfoods" from an acquaintance of mine. I mentioned that I had need of a blood transfusion after my C-section with Baby O., but that I had told the doctor I didn't want one, and my doctor, being Seventh Day Adventist, was inclined to agree with me, and so I went home with half as much blood as usual and lived to tell about it. To which woman replied, "I just take coconut water and chlorophyll when I think I am anemic."

She went on to explain the fascinating qualities of these foods.

Coconut Water

This week, my husband has been living on ONE coconut water. The only thing that could make it better is if it wasn't pasteurized, but I get the whole shelf-life thing. The biggest initial threat through this sickness has been dehydration. When someone is having flu-like problems, hydration can get tricky. And yet, we have a huge desire to keep him out of the hospital if at all possible. Coconut water has been my best ally. Chicken broth and apple juice both failed the test, but coconut water passed with flying colors.

Coconut water is the Gatorade God made. Depending on what electrolyte solution you're looking at, coconut water can containing up to fifteen times the amount of electrolytes, and if you buy the good stuff, it is exactly as God prepared it, easily digested and bioavailable.

But coconut water has some properties that you aren't going to see in reference to Pedialyte. Coconut water is considered a universal donor. The ONE website says that during World War II, it was actually injected into the body of soldiers who were dehydrated. However, my interest in coconut water took me to some research that goes beyond utilizing coconut water as a substitute saline solution.

Coconut water shares, at the molecular level, properties that are similar to human blood. In Ayurvedic medicine, coconut water is considered to be a remedy for anemia. Turns out that World War II soldiers weren't just using it as a replacement for saline, but for blood plasma, with which it is nearly bioidentical.

Liquid Chlorophyll

Another concern this week {which hasn't actually materialized, thank the Lord} has been hemolytic anemia. This is where, due to toxic circumstances, red blood cells are being destroyed faster than the body can produce them. This sort of anemia is often associated with kidney problems. Does Creation offer us any support for this problem? I was pleased to find that it does!

Liquid chlorophyll is interesting in that it is nature mimicking hemoglobin. The only difference is that the central atom in the molecule is magnesium, while the central atom in hemoglobin is our old friend, iron. Some scientists believe that this makes no difference, and that chlorophyll basically acts as a stand-in until the body can produce more hemoglobin. Not only this, but the similarity of structure allows the molecule to be easily absorbed into the blood stream, where it will do the most good.

In addition to this, chlorophyll put into an ointment form was experimented with as a wound healer in the 1930s with positive results.

Blood Transfusion?

If I had to go back, I wouldn't just refuse a transfusion and then live through two weeks of difficulty and exhaustion. I would drink a formulation I found in my research, which is to say eight ounces that is 55% coconut water and 45% liquid chlorophyll.

Other Items in the Proverbial Medicine Cabinet
GSE
Bifidobacterium Infantis
Garlic Compresses
Fever
Sunshine
Raw Honey {for cuts and scrapes...a friendly alternative to antibacterial ointments!}

02 June 2009

Norms and Nobility: Chapter One Distinctions {Entry II}

Before I begin, I'd like to invite you all to continue praying for my very ill husband. My son bounced back almost immediately from our doctor's treatment, but my husband's response faltered a bit in the last 24 hours due to his inability to keep down all of the pills he needs to take. Tomorrow will be day six of his being bedridden.

Today during naptime I was required to sit for a while and read aloud to Si. These chapters are short enough that I read all of chapter one in a single sitting, and aloud at that. It is nice to have something elevating and challenging to consider during this time.

This post is my attempt to distance myself a bit from some of what Hicks is saying. I want to make clear that not everything Hicks writes is exactly what our family believes, nor does studying a book together imply anyone's whole-hearted agreement with it.

What I am concerned with is something discussed near the end of the chapter, which I will explain shortly. But first, let me mention that there are ways in which Christian classical education is and should be distinct from classical education found in ancient pagan cultures. There is one sense in which classical education is merely descriptive, in that it explains how children best learn and develop over the entirety of childhood. However, there are distinctions in application of these principles which will vary based upon theology, which is the mistress science.

The key question being asked in chapter one is, Can virtue be taught? Hicks makes the point that it can, and also that it is only recent in human history that any culture ever doubted it. So the ancient educational debates were not concerning whether virtue can be taught, but rather how it should be taught.

What ties into this is the idea of the quality of the soul, whether it have capacity for good, whether it be naturally good, and so on. Hicks explains that Plato believed that no one purposely chooses evil, but that evil is merely an expression of ignorance. So if, for instance, one were to think through the consequences of evil acts, one would be awakened in such a way that one would be inspired to live the virtuous life.

Hicks contrasts this belief with the ancient rhetoricians who believed that virtue was not innate, but rather acquired. Hicks sets this up by writing:
Either man is by nature good and becomes corrupted by society or he is born flawed, and society must save him.
This is where I must plant a flag and say that Christian classical education must take a third path, and that is the delicate balance between the knowledge that our children are born sinners, for Scripture tells us that all have sinned, and the knowledge that children born into Christian families are somehow holy.

Scripture compels us to recognize the fallen nature of our children, as well as the responsibility of Christian homes to raise virtuous children, not in a pagan sense, but in the sense of children who become adults who honor God and live righteously. In other words, to paraphrase Hicks, some may believe that man is by nature good and becomes corrupted by society or others that he is born flawed, and society must save him, but Christians believe that man is born flawed, and Christ must save him.

I am not sure exactly what Hicks believes, for he is merely explaining the ancient battle between Plato and his followers and the rhetoricians, but I thought this distinction worth making before I really discuss chapter one.

01 June 2009

Norms and Nobility:To Blog a Prologue {Entry I}

Thank you all for your patience and your prayers. For those of you who do not know, my husband contracted a serious illness, and my son followed in his footsteps. After visits to urgent care, labs, and our pediatrician, we find we have all the more reason to be fond of our beloved Dr. Linda, whose unconventional methods must be given credit for the fact that both my guys have turned a corner this evening and are sleeping peacefully.

In order to take Si's minds off his sorrows, I reread the Prologue aloud to him today. His hasn't said much the past four days, but he made the effort to tell me that the prologue was "amazing."

I concur.

And now I move on to more transcendent thoughts, which always comfort me in my toughest hours. Allow me to begin with a quote which I think we will come back to often throughout this discussion:
Our fascination with technical means, by the very nature of things, subverts the supreme task of education--the cultivation of the human spirit: to teach the young to know what is good, to serve it above self, to reproduce it, and to recognize that in knowledge lies this responsibility.
The "supreme task of education" is the cultivation of the soul. Vigen Guroian called it increasing the capacity for moral imagination. This has been lost in today's industrial factory model which sees itself as producing workers for The Economy, and where the purpose of education, from a student's perspective, is to attain a job and Make Money.

Hicks spends some time in criticizing modern education, but I was pleased to note that, following the prologue, we have a delightful section of the book, Part I, filled with many chapters, titled The Idea of Classical Education. So we see that Hicks spent only enough time on criticism to reveal the need for a return to the old paths, and shortly he will move on to ideas and ideals.

Now is probably the best time to mention that I already blogged a sampling of the Prologue here, and so this entry is my attempt to blog a different portion and not repeat myself.

I am going to pick out my two of my favorite thoughts thus far.

Asking the Right Questions

The first focuses on communication skills, or the lack thereof. I think we have all had the experience of speaking with {or being!} a person whose vocabulary was so truncated that they were without the ability to communicate their experiences, to categorize or describe them properly. This means the person is actually unable to think about their experiences.

Our culture has failed to realize that communication is, for the most part, inextricably tied to mental capacity, which is tied to mastery of the language. We think in words, and without words we cannot rightly think. Hicks discusses the difference in approach to communication skills between the modern schools and the schools of history:
The modern school gives the impression that communication skills are merely techniques whose mastery is important for scoring high on tests and doing well on the job. But is there no transcendent value in learning how to speak and write exactly? To what extent can man be a sentient, moral creature without the ability to communicate clearly with others and with his cultural past? Can there be true independence of thought without mastery of language? In what way is man's verbal ineptitude a barrier to knowledge of himself and of the world and of what lies beyond the reach of his five senses?
These are wonderful, wonderful questions, worth sitting and thinking about {in the order of Pooh} for a good deal of time. What is most interesting to me, though, is Hicks' convincing case that the methodology of modern education has no room to even raise such questions.

I can't help myself. I'm going to have to repeat myself even though I thought I wouldn't. The quote is just too perfect to ignore:
The modern era cannot be bothered with finding new answers to old questions like: What is man and what are his purposes? Rather, it demands of its schools: How can modern man better get along in this complicated modern world? Getting along--far from suggesting any sort of Socratic self-knowledge or stoical self-restraint--implies the mastery of increasingly sophisticated methods of control over the environment and over others. Man's lust for power, not truth, feeds modern education. But this fact does not worry the educator. From his point of view, the new question has several advantages over the old, the most notable being that it better suits his scientific problem-solving approach.
Most homeschoolers are familiar with the pressure to measure education. I have been asked numerous times about standardized tests. And I don't want to say that these things are worth nothing at all. However, comma. We live in a world that thinks the tests "prove" the student. Nothing could be further from the truth. If education is primarily about the formation of souls rather than the acquisition of skills, the standardized tests prove nothing and serve to distract from the point.

Might I here assert that a soul being formed properly will, in time, acquire the necessary skills regardless of tests and standards. I really think that is true, and I have seen this in action in my own home and in the homes of my friends.

Modern education does not even address the existence in the soul, and is completely disinterested in its development, at least in practice.

Characteristics of a Good School

I am still mulling over what impact Hicks' thoughts on a Good School should have on our home. {I'd ask Si, but he's only semi-conscious right now.} Hicks writes:
The good school does not just offer what the student or the parent or the state desires, but it says something about what these three ought to desire. A school is fundamentally a normative, not a utilitarian, institution, governed by the wise, not by the many. It judges man as an end, not as a means; it cultivates the human spirit by presenting a complete vision of man as he lives and as he ought to live in all his domains--the individual, the social, and the religious. It teaches the student how to fulfill his obligations to himself, to his fellow man, and to God and His creation. Its understanding of man, therefore, is prescriptive--and its curriculum and organization allegorize the scope, the sequence, and the vision that all men must recognize and accept as fundamental if they hope to grow to their full human stature.
The word ought is going to be central in this book. Classical education doesn't tell the student what to know so much as it tells the student what to be. As the soul expands, it has room for knowing all sorts of things, but those things reside in the full soul of a person who understands their duties and responsibilities, not just their subjects.

Parting Quotes

A few other things I underlined, and then I'll be off:
The first premise of classical education is that the Ideal Type's ancient, prescriptive pattern of truth--which served Christian and Jew, Roman and Greek--remains the most durable and the most comprehensive.
If any of you wondered why Ambleside focuses on so many "hero tales," this is why. Early childhood is optimal for thinking big thoughts of great men.
[I]t is my intention in this book to ponder the difference between the man who was educated to believe himself to be a little lower than the angels and the man whose education permits him to ignore both angels and God, to avoid knowledge not of the five senses, and to presume mastery over nature but not over himself.
I don't know about you, but I was definitely educated with a dichotomy, a deep divide between school and church. Socially, church affected school, but intellectually, my education for the most part ignored God, for sure, and ruled out the things we cannot see, while telling me that what can be done and never questioning what should be done.
Classical education refreshes itself at cisterns of learning dug long ago, drawing from springs too deep for taint the strength to turn our cultural retreat into advance.
Amen.

More to come.