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PAGE 2: Kevin's Update Blog



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I’ve uploaded Kevin & Amanda’s commercial to
To view it, just click on the picture ---->
You might need to disable any pop-up blockers (hold down the “Ctrl” key while clicking on the link) in order to get the page to open.

I’ve also uploaded the audio file of the radio interview I gave on 93.9FM KIMY to The interview is about 36 minutes long…so if you’ve got the time, feel free to check it out by CLICKING HERE

It’s well past my bedtime…but I’ve just been in a pretty darn good mood today and I’m not sure I’m ready for that to end. I’m scheduled to relieve Amanda at 3am…so if I hit the hay here shortly, that’ll give me…ummm, close to 8 hours of sleep! Amanda & I have both agreed that, in the beginning we were avoiding trying to count the amount of sleep we were getting…sure it was far from being enough. Well, now with our weird hours, we’ve decided it’s best to add them up so as to “convince” ourselves that we are in fact getting the sleep we “think” we require…though I’m sure we could both go to sleep right now and not wake up until after Valentine’s Day.

Kevin did finally get moved to his very own private room…yeah! Still no internet access, but very, very small price to pay. His poor roomie last night sounded soooo miserable all night long. Good thing for Kevin he slept right through the whole thing. I, on the other hand, heard noises and smelled smells that I would prefer to erase from my memory…permanently.

The nurses, though not nearly as “on top of you” as they were in the ICU are all very, very nice and seem to take a special liking to Kevin. I’m sure it has everything to do with the fact that he’s always telling them “hello” and “thank you” and “you do a good job”…typical Kevin-isms. He was pretty wiped out today b/c the physical therapist, Rebecca, is showing no mercy. I can tell that Kevin really does like that. I asked if he thought she’d make a good coach, and he agreed without a moment’s hesitation.

Tomorrow should be more of the same. The biggest difference now between ICU and our current setup is that we DON’T have the hovering nurse whose only job was to watch after Kevin. Now, it’s up to us to make sure he doesn’t try to make the “Great Escape” that he seems so determined to pull off. I’m thinking that because part of his neuro-exam consists of knowing that he is in fact in San Francisco has probably triggered some fascination with Alcatraz that we both seemed to have as kids.

He’s been getting up out of bed much more frequently today than any other day since we’ve been in the hospital…his legs are very weak, but his determination is so very, very strong. It will be important that we encourage him to pace himself as he begins to enter the bulk of his rehab.

Hope to see you all soon! We don’t have a specific date as to when we think we may return, and the doctors have made it very clear on multiple occasions that the over-stimulation of a big “Welcome Home” party would not be a good idea. Anyway…best case scenario would put us leaving San Francisco sometime in the next week! That’s awesome! And as mentioned in a previous post, this would be followed up with intensive in-patient rehab at one of a couple of different rehab centers there in OKC.

Oh yeah, by the way…remember me mentioning that I’d shave my head if Kevin shaved his? Yeah…
It was surprisingly quite an emotional release…and a welcomed one at that as I had clearly fixated on this event (shaving my head) as my way of celebrating Kevin making it through the surgery and onto the path of recovery. Tomorrow is his big day. I’ve got the clippers packed and will be hauling them up to the hospital around 2:30am. As for me, I went ahead and went all out…if you’re gonna do it, and probably only do it once, you might as well DO it. So, after using the electric razor, I hopped into the shower with a fresh razor and a can of shaving cream…it was easier than I had imagined, and will prove to be VERY easy when I wake up here in a few hours. Who knows, I may just make it my new look…??? (I can hear Amy screaming all the way from Kingfisher after reading that one!). Oh, you want pictures? Well, I’ll have to work on that. I did stop mid-cut and get some mohawk pics. Like I said, if you’re going to do it, do it right! Dad was trying to convince me to head up to the hospital this evening WITH the mohawk…not sure I was too comfortable with that. I think I much prefer the “Mr. Clean” look.

I’m going to re-post the picture/poster info for those of you who haven’t had the chance to see the “incarnation” of an idea presented by one of Kevin & Amanda’s friends…
Per special request, I have created a “poster” using one of the pictures I took a few days back…it was suggested that some of you might enjoy having this as a personal reminder of the special intimacy YOU YOURSELVES may have experienced with Christ over the course of these past few weeks. I've added to it the theme "FAITHFULNESS"...which really speaks for itself, along with Psalm 118:17, a verse that Amanda gave to me the morning of Kevin's surgery. I’m just going to post the pictures as a part of the blog, but know that they are also posted in the gallery



These were “designed” as 24x16 prints…and I will just leave it up to you as to what you’d like to donate. They will be printed on professional quality Kodak Endura photo-paper…not the thin poster-paper you might be envisioning.
Again…please do not misconstrue this as “self-promotion”…I don’t know why I’m struggling with that possible conception. I’m just looking for a way that I can help Kevin & Amanda tackle the financial side of this experience once we get back home. If you’re interested, please click here to shoot me an email @

1-23-07…Written by Amanda throughout the day, uploading @ 2am on the 24th
Another blog entry from Amanda…
I can testify with wonder stricken awe and joy that God answers prayer. I read a quote the other day by Teresa of Avila that said, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.” It is true that He loves to show up in our times of need. A strong walk with God can carry us through unthinkable circumstances. He has given me what I need day by day.

God is already bringing beauty from this pain. I am sure that from pain, He also creates a platform. I know this blog has been a voice around the world speaking of God’s goodness. I truly believe this is just the beginning. I am so proud of Jeff for allowing God to use him. Jeff has been a rock for me out here. I have treasured our conversations…he has been a shoulder to cry on and one to celebrate each victory with. Not only that, but this morning I woke up to a cafe’ mocha and a massage awaiting that was all Jeff’s doing. He is taking amazing care of me! He is such an incredible man, friend, and brother….but then that doesn’t surprise me, he IS Kevin’s brother : ).

It’s 2:00 a.m. and I am sitting here watching Kevin sleep. How far he has come! I love the fact that his scar WILL show…it’s kind of like in the Bible when God moved, the people would build an alter or monument to remember what the Lord had done. His scar will forever remind us all of the miracles God has performed! That scar is absolutely beautiful to me.

Last week I was wearing his wedding band because his body was holding fluids and he had quite a bit of swelling. Keep in mind he was on heavy doses of pain medication and as Jeff likes to put it rather “foggy.” When he saw that his ring was off, he told me, “When I get better I will re-marry you.” It melted me and God knew it was just what I needed that day.

This morning when I arrived at the hospital, Jeff looked at Kevin and said, “Are you ready to do what we talked about?” Kevin responded, “Yes.” Before I knew it, Jeff was helping Kevin stand up to give me a hug! That was the first hug we have had since before this ordeal. I can not even put into words the effect it had on me…what a gift. I knew it took every bit of strength and energy, focus and determination to give me that hug.

I would not trade this experience….I would not turn back time. I like to say it this way, we have seen God’s glory and we will never be the same. I am experiencing God in a much more intimate way….you are forced to when there is no other place to turn. But through each seemingly impossible obstacle, GOD HAS BEEN FAITHFUL!

Again, I can not thank everyone enough for the love, support, and prayers! Kevin and I are so richly blessed with the relationships and individuals God has brought into our life.
Please continue to
“ask great things of God” on Kevin’s behalf.

Not much time, so just a quick update to let everyone know that I think I figured out a pretty user-friendly way to keep this blog going. I just had to start a 2nd page…so if you’re reading this, you’ve obviously figured that out.

Kevin continues to gain his strength…which in a way is making things more difficult for us. He now has the ability to sit up in bed all on his own…rather quickly too. However, he’s not nearly strong enough to stand unattended, but really, REALLY wants to stand and/or just be out of bed most all of the time. The problem is that he’s still very mentally “foggy”…and is not always exactly sure why he wants up or out of bed…just knows that he does. And because we are now out of the ICU and in our own private room (that’s right…no more roomie, praise God!), we’re beginning to miss the attention we were afforded while in the ICU. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic to see Kevin gaining some of his strength…I just think we’re all anxious for his fogginess to lift so that he will be more aware of what his body is wanting to do.

As I mentioned yesterday, I did end up shaving my head. I showed up last night wearing a stocking cap and had Kevin pull it off of my head…it was truly the first authentic smile I’ve seen grace Kevin’s face. I’m sure he was grinning AT me vs. WITH me…but I’ll take it. He did let me buzz his head this morning as well as his hair was starting to get pretty long. He opted for the 1-guard on the razor…so not quite the “Mr. Clean” brothers. I’ll work on getting a picture of the 2 of us together w/ our new hairdo’s and see if we can’t get it up on the blog.

For now, I’ll leave you with the “present” I made for Amy last night while sitting with Kevin. I told her I thought I had a “nicely shaped” head that was surprisingly attractive w/ no hair. She wasn’t so sure about that…but she did call me “handsome” as she watched this for the first time…now THAT was NOT the response I expected…but I’ll take it!!! Hope this works…

I was able to have a brief visit with Dr. Lawton’s nurse, Lisa, this morning who was more than happy to stop and visit with me in the hallway as she was no doubt on her way to visit with some other family…or a meeting…or whatever. Have I mentioned how absolutely amazing EVERYONE here at UCSF has been?!?!?! I was actually headed back up to Kevin’s room after receiving what I had interpreted as a rather “frantic” voicemail from my Dad telling me to “call him now.” Of course, my heart and stomach flipped…and I headed that way immediately. Fortunately, I was just right across the street and had not made it back to the hotel. Furthermore, our phones have been acting up since moving down to the 8th floor…so I was unsuccessful in trying to call him back.

When I saw Lisa on my way into Kevin’s room, I could tell she’d just been in visiting with my dad, and was also quick to allude to Kevin’s new “challenging & impulsive” personality…referring to what I had mentioned in my previous post about Kevin continually wanting to sit up or stand or sit back down…a never ending routine that doesn’t seem to have any purpose other than Kevin knows he wants to do it, and he’s strong enough now that it’s pretty darn difficult to stop him. Lisa explained that, in her opinion, there are probably two explanations for this behavior…
#1: It could, in part, be a side effect of a new medication Kevin was started on yesterday evening…one that they’ve already decided to at least cut back, if not nix altogether.
#2: Lisa explained that this could also just be another step in the “healing process” that Kevin’s brain is currently going through.

I hesitate to call this a “new” behavior because even in the ICU, Kevin was always quick to try and sit up or swing his legs off of the bed. Remember our “Great Escape” conversation? …well, his current behavior is “THE Great Escape” on steroids.

When I finished my conversation with Nurse Lisa, I entered Kevin’s room to find my dad physically lying in bed with Kevin in order to keep him from getting up. Amanda had also spent some time doing this yesterday evening. In the end, we decided to go ahead and sit him in a chair and use a “restraint” for lack of a better word that acts like a belt and simply keeps him seated in his chair. This seemed to be working quite well when I left his room to come back here for some rest as his lunch was doing a pretty good job of keeping him distracted.

Over the course of the past 3+ weeks, I’ve struggled at times with the decision of whether or not to share details as intimate as these…and to be completely honest, have chosen not to on more than one occasion. However, the last thing I want to do is paint too “rosy” a picture of Kevin’s road to recovery. That being said, I also don’t want to sound as if I’m questioning God’s purpose and plan for the remainder of this journey…not that I anticipate this journey to ever really end, even WITH Kevin’s full recovery. Just know that there are times when we still feel scared and unsure as to what the future holds…but then again, who of us reading this blog doesn’t feel that way at one time or another? The trick (for me, anyway) has not only been turning to a newly kindled relationship with Christ…but the friendships that I am so blessed to have…friends and family who have rallied around me personally during this time of need. You know who you are and I simply cannot thank you enough.

Again, many of the post-operative “explanations” seem to be more of an art than a science…much too subjective for my objective personality. But, the fact remains that everyone’s brain reacts differently to a myriad of diverse variables.
At this point, our prayer…our BOLD & FERVENT prayer…and we would ask that you join with us in the petition…is that Kevin’s mental “fogginess” would lift, allowing his intellectual improvement to catch up with his physical progress.

Kevin had a relatively uneventful night…we like those very much. He rested pretty much all night, waking up once around 1am and again at 4am…both times looking like he was ready to run a marathon. The hospital has now provided us with a “sitter”…a male nurse’s aide who literally just “sits” in the room with us, 24/7, to help with Kevin when he becomes agitated.

As far as I know, the plan for today is to continue with physical therapy and hope that our “social worker/case manager” here at UCSF can convince the insurance company to cover the expense medi-flighting Kevin back to OKC. I think that 2-3 days ago, we were all pretty comfortable with just getting Kevin on board ANY plane, commercial or private, that would get us home. Now, however, with his development over the past 48 hours or so, we would all quickly agree that it would NOT be in Kevin’s best interest to make that journey via public airports & planes…not at this point anyway.

Currently, I am back at the hotel propped up on the roll-a-way with Amanda thankfully still asleep down the hall. It’s a pretty chilly morning here in San Francisco…come to think of it, maybe it’s just my new hairstyle (or lack of style as some of you might argue)…but I’ve got two of the windows in my current room propped open just to help circulate some air. Our next-door neighbor is apparently Asian, because every time I open these windows, I’m treated to the sounds of Asian television…and I thought all they ever produced was Kung-Fu movies! This is apparently a soap opera…lots of dramatic music and even more dramatic voices. But I digress…

We hope to hear sometime today as to the timing of our return to OKC…could be as early as tomorrow, but might not happen until Monday or even later. I have to reiterate though that the doctors have made it very clear on multiple occasions that our arrival and eventual transfer to the rehab center needs to be kept as low-key as possible for Kevin’s sake. I know there are a TON of you out there who would love nothing more than to meet Kevin as he gets off of the plane…and I know Kevin would enjoy that as well. But for now, we’re choosing to take the doctor’s advice (naturally) and avoid this kind of over-stimulating experience. I’m sure you will all understand. I promise to continue to keep everyone posted.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I’m going to repeat for everyone reading this blog our current prayer request:
At this point, our prayer…our BOLD & FERVENT prayer…and we would ask that you join with us in the petition…is that Kevin’s mental “fogginess” would lift, allowing his intellectual improvement to catch up with his physical progress.

Love you all and continue to be overwhelmed by the support you have shown through your letters, emails, posts, and prayers.

We have just received word that Kevin will be medi-flighted out of San Francisco and back to OKC…departure time of 9:00am tomorrow (Friday) morning…Praise God!

I am on my way back to the hospital now, so I don’t have any new information as to Kevin’s physical/mental condition other than what was posted previously. I would simply ask that you continue to lift him up in prayer…and take a moment to thank the Lord for the MANY blessings he has bestowed upon us over the course of these past 25 days.

I’ve been noticing some “hiccups” with the website most of the day today…not my fault. I’m sure is working on something.
No real update to deliver on Kevin’s status…just wanted to post this picture we took last night after finishing Kevin’s haircut…

Wow…okay…so we’re on the cusp of the next chapter of this amazing journey. Random thought…but did you ever watch that show as a kid (relative term, I know) that was called “Amazing Stories.” I think Steven Spielberg was the writer or producer or director. I remember it being on the same night as “The Cosby Show”…that was always a big TV night for me & Kev. Like I said…random thought.

Anyway, back to the “new chapter” thought…
If this were a novel, I imagine that this post would be page 1 of Chapter X. To be honest, I don’t think it’s fully sunken in that we will be heading back to OKC tomorrow. I feel like I’ve been living on adrenaline and caffeine for so long now that my brain is just taking a while to process this new development. I even had Amanda double check with our case worker to make sure that they were in fact officially on the schedule for flying out tomorrow morning at 9:00am. Well, they are…and she does get to ride with him, which is HUGE for them both…apparently not S.O.P., so just another little (pretty big, actually) blessing to add to our ever-growing list.

Kevin did quite a bit of walking today…with a walker…just up and down the hospital hallway. He probably got in a grand total of 50 yards, but if you asked him how far he walked, he would say, “about 2 miles.” I’m sure it felt like 5 for his legs. The physical therapist also had a term she used to define Kevin’s current mental “stickiness”…in other words, Kevin will see or think of something that he wants, and that is then all he can talk about…his shoes, his pants, sitting, standing, etc. I can’t remember the word she used (actually, the word is “perseverate”…thanks to Pam Carlson and her post), but she described it as a phase the brain commonly goes through after an injury where it literally gets “stuck” on a topic and has a hard time letting that thought go and moving on to the next idea.

Kevin also got a shower today…his first “real” shower in 25 days. As you can imagine, we were all very excited for him…as was he. At one point during the process, he just leaned his head back, letting the water run over his face, and exclaimed, “I’m clean!” You know it had to feel wonderful.

Now…for the part that none of you are going to want to hear, but I’ve volunteered to play the “Bad Guy” role. My stint as an assistant high school principal should come in handy here…
Once we’ve settled Kevin into the Jim Thorpe Rehab Center, there is going to be a TON of information for us as the family to absorb…new doctors to meet, nurses to acquaint ourselves with, etc. Couple this with the fact that Kevin’s doctors have already made it BLATANTLY CLEAR that Kevin’s environment, at least initially, needs to be as stimulant-free as possible. I’ve also been told by a friend of mine who works as a speech-pathologist w/ patients who’ve suffered brain injuries to expect the trip alone to set Kevin’s progress back by as much as a week, so I need to again reiterate the family’s request that we have no visitors…at least initially…so that Kevin can most efficiently adapt to his new environment. Whew…that was harder than I thought! I know everyone understands, but it is difficult to sit here and ask you…our mighty army of prayer warriors…to NOT come and see the fruits of your “labor.” But let me also be clear…the “laboring” is far from complete.

So…again, at the risk of sounding redundant, I’m going to repeat for everyone reading this blog our current prayer request:
At this point, our prayer…our BOLD & FERVENT prayer…and we would ask that you join with us in the petition…is that Kevin’s mental “fogginess” would lift, allowing his intellectual improvement to catch up with his physical progress.

I may have the chance to check in once more before catching my own flight back to OKC. My Dad & I will be flying out together, leaving around 3:30pm CA and getting into OKC sometime after 10:00pm OK time. I can not wait to hug my wife. I’ll have to wait until Saturday morning to hug my little man…25 days is waaaaaaaaaaay too long to miss your family. I have no idea how our men & women serving in the military do it for months at a time. I’ve discovered a new level of respect for these individuals and their sacrifice…but that’s a topic for another day. For now, I need to get some rest.

I just saw Kevin & Amanda off from the hospital via ambulance…destination Oakland Airport…and then on to OKC. The original departure time of 9:00am was delayed a bit due to another emergency elsewhere in this great country of ours…we didn’t mind the wait.

Kevin continues to make us smile…too many little “stories” to take the time to relate right now as I still have to shower, pack & check out to catch our plane back to God’s Country. I will take just a second, however, and let everyone know that Kevin had very clear directions for his hospital gown that he gladly shed earlier this morning when getting dressed for his journey home… “Burn it!”

Catch you on the flip-side.

Got a text from Amanda saying they were loaded up and taxing for take-off...this was right at 12 noon. The pilot estimated a 4-hour flight putting them on the ground in OKC around 6pm OK time.

One other "God Thing" to point out before we head for the airport...
It's raining today...started out as just a light sprinkle as I was heading back from the hospital after seeing Kevin & Amanda off in the ambulance. It's coming down pretty good now. This is the first day of rain we've had since we've been the 20+ days we've spent in San Francisco. I just Googled it and was NOT surprised to learn that January is their "rainiest" month w/ an average of 4.35" of rain on average every year. Praise God that we didn't have to walk the 8-10 blocks from the hotel to the hospital in the rain...not even once!

1-27-07…1:11pm (Back on Oklahoma time…woohoo!)
Just a quick update to let everyone know that we are all safely back home. Kevin & Amanda’s flight was seamless…didn’t even have to stop and refuel this time as they were able to fly at higher altitudes thanks to Kevin’s three new titanium clips! He is checked in to the Jim Thorpe Rehab Center, and I am anxious to make that drive later today just to “acquaint” myself with the new environment & people.

I’ll save you the boring details of my own flight, but suffice it to say that we nearly had to stay another night in San Francisco due to delayed flights, etc. But, once again, God had his mighty hand clearly our path home as we ended up being bumped to a completely different airline just in the nick of time…getting what I believe were the last 2 available seats on that flight from San Francisco to Denver.

Yesterday morning as Amanda and I were busy trying to keep Kevin “busy” while we waited on his medi-flight, I started asking him to give me some famous lines from some of his favorite movies. Of course, the bulk of these lines came from “Braveheart,” most of which I was completely unfamiliar with…wasn’t even sure if he was just making stuff up or not. Well, on the plane from SF to Denver, I remembered that the “Braveheart” DVD I had purchased for Kevin while in SF was still in my laptop…so I was “treated” to my own private viewing…and literally laughed out loud when each and every line Kevin had quoted for us earlier that morning was said during the course of the movie.

Sleep was difficult last night. I kept waking up thinking I was in the hospital room and feeling as though I either needed to be doing something or was supposed to be somewhere other than where I was. It’ll get better, I know…I think I’ve just been running on “go-mode” for so long now, aided by caffeine and adrenaline, that it’s going to be a bit difficult to just shut that completely off.

I also anticipate that the time between my updates, at least after the initial report on Kevin’s new surroundings, will also begin to grow…but this is a good thing. This blog has been & in a sense continues to be my therapy. But, now that I’m home, I look forward to turning to my wife when I feel the need to “process.”

Just got back about 30 minutes ago from seeing Kevin and checking out his new digs…I must admit…very, very nice. He was resting more than he was up and around, which is a good thing. I think they already wore him out today w/ his various therapy assessments…and they said that today was the easy day!

Before I forget…I’ve had lots of people asking about sending cards & various other items to Kevin & Amanda.If you would like to send Kevin and/or Amanda a card, you may do so by mailing it to the following address:
Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital
Attn: Kevin Johnson
4219 South Western
Oklahoma City, OK 73109

These next few days are sure to be both physically and mentally grueling for Kevin. I would ask that you pray for his “spirit” and endurance as they are both sure to be pushed, poked & prodded (by design, I’m sure) on a very regular basis.

I would also ask for prayer for all of us…the family. Now that the whirling sensation has begun to slow down, it’s become deafeningly evident that our lives have changed forever. Suffice it to say that this is taking some getting used to, and is an unexpected (for me, anyway) by-product of the bigger issue of Kevin’s overall health and well-being. Please pray that God would continue to make His presence known on a daily basis too all of us in all areas of our lives.

I was able to visit a bit tonight with Kevin between his naps. The first thing he did was to make it crystal clear that I married over my head…no argument there. The second thing he did was to pull me down onto the bed with him…put his arm around me…and tell me, “You’re a good big brother…I love you.”

I love you too.

Kevin continues to work his tail off at the rehab center. When I finally got to see him around 7:00pm last night, I asked him what he’d been doing all day, to which he responded, “Eating!” Apparently, they’ve been pumping the calories down him as he has lost not 20 pounds like previously reported, but 45 pounds.

I was also able to spend some AWESOME time along with Kevin just chatting. It’s a slow conversation, of course…but it was the MOST conversation I’d had with Kevin over the course of the last 4 weeks. And, typical Kevin, he was cracking me up most of the time.

Just one example of Kevin being “Kevin”…
When I got to the hospital, Amanda informed me that Kevin had had a run-in with the door to the bathroom…actually taking the corner of the door right in the forehead as he was trying to make his way to the…well, you don’t need visuals…
Anyway, I said, “Kevin, you’ve got a pretty good bump on your head there!” Kevin’s quick retort: “You should see the door.”
So, for the rest of the evening while I was sitting with Kevin, anytime he would get up to use the restroom (about 25-30 time…seriously. Still part of the “stickiness” thing), he would approach the door, look it up and down, and put his hands up like he was getting ready to “fight” and/or “box” the door. After a couple of seconds of sizing it up, he’d simply open the door and go inside. I couldn’t help but smile.

We also shared some very special moments and conversations that I will keep just between brothers…but know that he is so much more “there” mentally than he was even just 2-3 days ago…just taking some time, therapy and PRAYER to get everything back in order.

Amanda continues to amaze me. I honestly do not have the words, nor the comprehension to even come close to adequately express how absolutely in awe I am of this girl. As I sit here and type this, I know that there is no way I can convey to you what I have witnessed on a daily…hourly…basis. God has truly covered her with His supernatural peace, patience, wisdom and love…it literally brings me to tears to think about it…very, very happy, thankful tears.

I would ask for continued prayer for Kevin…that the mix of therapies, medications, time & prayers would bring about supernatural healing and recovery. I would also ask for special prayers for both my mom and dad. This has been hard for all of us, but especially hard for them.

My mom has taken great refuge in Psalm 46:10… “Be still, and know that I am God.” However, she much prefers the version from the NASB which readsCease striving and know that I am God” …for the reason that it reminds her that, in the end, this entire situation…this journey…and just life’s journey in general is in God’s hands. Try as we might to “fix” things on our own…we tend to have a habit of “fighting the current” and “swimming upstream.” This has been MY toughest spiritual struggle throughout this entire ordeal…and probably why I feel as though, even after having returned home, I am now hurting more emotionally than I did over the course of the previous 27 days…because I’m being forced to let go of the situation. While in California, I had a job, a task, every day…every moment, awake or asleep, of my time spent in San Francisco was dedicated to caring for Kevin and Amanda. Now that I’ve returned home, and Kevin is in the very capable hands of the Jim Thorpe Rehab Center…in addition to Amanda and multiple other friends/family, I have reached a point in this journey that is incredibly uncomfortable for me…yet totally necessary. I pray that I might continue to grow in my faith, and that God’s endless mercy would continue to cover me as I spiritually “stretch” to the point of breaking…which is what God may yet have in store. I pray this is not in His will, but if so, I give praise to the Lord for blessing me with this challenge to grow in my relationship with Him.

Very sorry for waiting so long to post another update. Rest assured that “no news is good news” when it comes to Kevin…but I have been scolded for not keeping everyone up to speed on his recovery, so here’s a quick update.

Kevin continues to improve with the assistance of his multiple therapies he is receiving daily…and YOUR PRAYERS! Amanda has been given gobs of reading materials to help her familiarize herself with what to expect over the course of the coming weeks/months. She’s mentioned that a couple of the “milestones” (that may be too strong of a word to use…but I like it so I’m using it) to look for as positive indicators to Kevin’s continued mental recovery have already been seen…signs such as Kevin at times becoming angry, which he has…and other signs such as Kevin becoming emotional, which he has also recently started doing. This is not random anger or emotion…but situationally appropriate emotions that Kevin’s brain is now remembering how to “feel” or “exhibit.” I probably need to stop there with the explanation because I’ve not read these materials Amanda has and don’t feel comfortable extrapolating any further.

Physically, Kevin continues to gain strength and balance. His right eye which was so irritated during surgery (remember the “3rd Nerve” thing?) is now starting to improve and his eyelid gradually opens more and more every day. As part of his therapy, he is supposed to wear an eye patch over his good eye for periods of time throughout the day…something Kevin does not enjoy. I told him, “Kevin, if you don’t agree to wear that patch, they’re going to come in and staple it to your forehead.” To which quipped, “No big deal, I’ve already had 44 staples in my head.” He also tried convincing me that he didn’t need “the patch” because his problem with his eye is not nicotine-related…he was clearly joking when saying this, but it took all of us a second or two to catch on…just one of the many signs verifying that his quicker-than-average wit is returning in full-force.

Bottom line…Kevin continues to improve both physically and mentally, and these “milestones” that we are able to visually SEE with our own eyes and HEAR with our own ears and TOUCH with our own hands are all gifts from God in and of themselves…wonderful pieces of fruit…and obvious answers to the prayers that we have asked you all to join with us in lifting up to God and laying at His feet.

This has obviously been a life-changing experience for all of us…and from the feedback I’ve received from people since I’ve been back in Oklahoma who’ve kept up with this website, I do mean ALL of us…YOU included…and I thank God for the opportunity to share this journey with all of you as well as the impact it may have had on your life…spiritually or otherwise. I’ve also been “confessing” to people who’ve mentioned this positive impact that my time spent journaling…doing my best to remain transparent throughout this experience…is ultimately a selfish (not a “bad” selfish) exercise in that it is very good therapy for my soul.

On another note, there are other “things” going on that I’m not quite comfortable sharing on the blog at this point… “things” unrelated to Kevin and his recovery. That being said, I would simply ask for “blanket prayers” (I just made that term up…not sure exactly how to say it) for our entire family.


Wow…big day. Not for Kevin, but for me. I so love watching the hand of God at work in our lives on a daily basis. Here’s what He had in store for us today…

You may remember back a few weeks ago I wrote that, due to the fact that Kevin’s aneurysm was so incredibly rare AND that my maternal grandfather had died of a ruptured aneurysm, several doctors had encouraged me to go to the hospital (the sooner the better) and have some tests run to ensure that I didn’t have any aneurysm…potential or developed.

Well…today was that day. This is not the “issue” or “thing” that I referred to in my previous post that prompted me to ask for “blanket prayers” for our family…and I would still ask for those “blanket prayers” for all of us. The only reason I didn’t blog about this earlier is that Amy and her friend Sarah (a P.A.) were able to get this scheduled very quickly and pretty much without my knowing about it. I’m not at all trying to say that they were doing it behind my back…I’ve just had other issues to deal with since returning to Oklahoma. And, truth be told, I’m glad I didn’t have much time to mull this appointment over as it is something that could’ve really wreaked some havoc inside my head if given too much time to just sit and fester.

For starters, the test I had done today is called a CTA…basically a CAT-Scan, but with the addition of injecting iodine into the bloodstream so that all of the blood vessels/veins/arteries show up nicely while they’re taking their pictures of my brain. I normally don’t have any problem at all with needles…but today, I think my level of anxiety over knowing WHY I was there…coupled with the fact that I was back at Mercy Hospital for the first time, in the same location where we’d spent much of our time with Kevin during the first 4-5 days of this journey…anyway, it was all just pretty overwhelming. I got over the needles without much embarrassment, and the scan itself took less than 2 minutes. Results from these scans are read at some point between now and next week…and I’m not a big fan of the waiting game, but what can you do?

One reason I was excited to be back at Mercy was for the potential opportunity of seeing Dr. Tytle…Kevin’s initial interventional radiologist and the man who quite literally took it upon himself to see to it that this case and more importantly, Kevin’s life, were placed in the most capable hands available. It was Dr. Tytle who first recommended UCSF…and his nurse, Tricia, was equally as committed to going above and beyond. Really, that phrase… “above and beyond” …does not even come close to describing the amount of effort these two put into Kevin’s case. I think it is fair to say that without the attention these two wonderful professionals gave to Kevin’s condition and need for specialized treatment, Kevin would not be where he is today.

Once I had finished with my CTA, I came out to find Amy working on getting copies of the films for us to take home with us. She was also working with the girls up front to secure a CD of the images in order to mail it to Dr. Lawton in San Francisco. I was unaware of this before today, but Dr. Lawton had asked Amy to send him a copy of my CTA results so that he could personally look them over for any potential abnormalities. That news had 2 effects on me…at first I was amazed that this man was willing to take the time to do this for us, but my second response was to realize that he must really think the chances were pretty high that there might be something “bad” there in order to take the time to review the films.

As my anxiety began to grow, I told Amy that I was going to pop my head into Dr. Tytle’s office and see if he or his nurse, Tricia, was around. His office is very accessible from where we were standing at the time, so I just popped into the hallway and noticed that his door was open, but found the office to be empty. When I stepped back into the main waiting area, one of the nurses asked if she could help, and I just explained that I was looking for Dr. Tytle, but that it was really no big deal…don’t worry about it. She said, “Oh, I know he’s back there…just keep going down that hallway and ask the guy at the desk. He’ll find him for you.” Okay…it was worth the time…not to mention the distraction…to go ahead and try to track him down. By this time Amy had joined me. When we got to the desk, the receptionist said she’d try to find him…but I was really not wanting to pull him away from whatever important work he was probably in the middle of performing at the time. Heck, I just wanted to say “hi” to the guy and tell him “thanks” for taking such good care of my brother. I could do that later.

Well, about that time, Dr. Tytle came walking out of one of the other offices…cell phone in hand in the middle of a conversation. When he saw Amy and me, he stopped and said to whomever he was speaking to, “Hey…can I call you back in a few minutes?

This guy was truly excited to hear our update on Kevin’s progress. I had called him at least once from San Francisco…I think immediately following Kevin’s surgery…to let him know that Kevin had made it through the surgery with no apparent complications. I just double checked with Amy as to what her recollection of Dr. Tytle’s reaction was to Kevin’s progress (I’m not wanting to make this stuff up), and she remembers Dr. Tytle using the word “amazing” as we told him about Kevin’s current physical and mental status.

I hadn’t thought about bringing this up with Dr. Tytle before hand, but I went ahead and explained that Kevin was due for his 6-week checkup here in the next week or two, and wondered if he could recommend/refer us to any top-quality neurologists who would be suited to taking on Kevin as a long-term patient. Right away, he knew exactly who we needed to see. He started to just give us the doctor’s name, but then said, “Come on…let’s go in my office. I know I’ve got his number in my Rolodex…we’ll just call him right now.” So, we just popped into Dr. Tytle’s office and waited as he called this doctor’s cell phone and quickly gave a complete rundown of Kevin’s history without referring to any notes at all. At one point he even asked the doctor if he had already heard about Kevin’s case…I’m getting the impression that Kevin’s aneurysm REALLY WAS THAT crazy that his story has “made the rounds” in the world of neurological medicine. Long story short (yeah, right), this doctor agreed to take on Kevin’s case and said that he would be happy to work Kevin into his schedule in time for the 6-week checkup. To end the conversation, Dr. Tytle said, “…and he’s got a great family. You’ll really enjoy them.” Wow…so, check that big ‘ol “to-do” off of the list.

So wait…we’re not even to the really, really good part…

We then just casually explained that the reason we’re at the hospital today is for my CTA, and that we’re waiting on films to be printed and a CD to be burned in order to send them to San Francisco so that Dr. Lawton can have a look. Dr. Tytle mentions that they have really good people there at Mercy as well who read these films…and then decides that he ought to just hop back to the radiology lab to see if they’re getting the films printed for us. Five minutes later, he returns and says, “Well, I had the radiologist pull up your file so I could just go ahead and take a look…I don’t see any problems at all. Of course, we’ll want to study them a bit closer, but I’d say it’s 99% clear that there’s nothing to worry about. I paid special attention to the basilar tip (the location of Kevin’s aneurysm) and it’s clean as a whistle…not even a ripple.”

Wow…I think that “report” is still sinking in. I love it when God totally blows away your “best case scenario”…our “best case scenario” was finding out that there was nothing to worry about, but NOT UNTIL NEXT WEDNESDAY!!! That’s 5 days that I do not have to sit here and let this thing eat at my sanity. Praise God!

OK…so enough about me.

Kevin continues to do well. I did not get to see him today, but plan on spending a couple of hours with him tomorrow. Those who have been following this website from its inception will no doubt remember a guy by the name of David Howell. David lives in OKC and suffered a ruptured aneurysm about 3 years ago…underwent 5 brain surgeries in 2 weeks…and didn’t even squeeze his wife’s hand for a full 3 months, let alone talk! David also spent a good amount of time at the Jim Thorpe Rehab Center during the early stages of his recovery and has been a wonderful source of encouragement for me during these past few weeks. David wrote in his first post on this blog that since his aneurysm, God has revealed 9 “truths” to him and his wife…the first was to “look for the fruit”…you remembering this guy? Of course you are. Anyway, David and his wife are going to be stopping by the hospital tomorrow to visit with Amanda, Kevin & me about their post-aneurysm experience. David also mentioned that his wife is excited to bring him by and “show him off” to all of the doctors, nurses & therapists at Jim Thorpe. I can’t even imagine how much joy she must/will get from doing such a thing!

Kevin was able to do some pool therapy for the first time today…something he was definitely looking forward to, but something that also wore him out pretty good. I’m sure any of his former athletes reading this enjoy the visual of their former coach taking some verbal abuse from a physical therapist as he works his tail off each and every day. He is a hard worker…no doubt about that.

He is also officially the funniest person he knows. I can not tell you how wonderful it is to see him laughing and carrying on…often prompting you with the line he needs in order to set up his own punch line. It’s OK though, because he really is pretty funny.

But perhaps the most exciting “news” for Kevin at the moment is that he’s been granted a “day pass”…a day away from the rehab center…for this coming Sunday. He is so incredibly home sick it’s not even funny. I know this will be a wonderfully rejuvenating experience for both Kevin & Amanda as they will be able to enjoy a day of “normal life” before returning to the demands of rehab…and more than likely with fully charged spirits.

Just got back from seeing Kevin and visiting with David and his wife, Susie. Wow! What an amazing couple. I should clarify one thing though…I was under the impression that David’s brain injury he alluded to in his blog-postings was a ruptured aneurysm. This is not the case. According to the Howell’s, David contracted some mysterious infection, probably during a mission trip to a foreign country, that ended up settling in the frontal lobe of his brain. Regardless, to hear them say that Kevin’s condition right now is comparable to where David was ONE YEAR POST-OP was rather encouraging to say the least. Kevin was also excited to see David, saying, “I’ve got about a hundred questions to ask that guy.” Perhaps the “sweetest” moment from today’s visit came when David shared with us the FIRST “truth” God revealed to him during his recovery… “Marriage is a WONDERFUL blessing.” I’m probably butchering his actual truth…but it was something to that effect. This made Kevin really tear up and reach for Amanda. Susie reached over and put her hand on Kevin’s head and said, “You’ve got a really special wife.” …to which Kevin, with tears in his eyes, replied “She’s awesome!” I can’t disagree with that statement one bit.

Amanda also reported that last night was the first time since returning to Oklahoma that Kevin really slept through the entire night…only waking up once to use the bathroom. Prior to last night, he had been waking up every 45 minutes or so and having trouble going back to sleep. Praise God for this significant development, and prayers that his improved sleep will continue!

I was also able to take Amanda out for a nice, quiet lunch at a WONDERFUL “hole in the wall” Italian restaurant just south of the hospital (SW 57th-ish & Western…east side of the road). Wow…talk about some good food! Wish I could remember the name of the place…Belle Vista or something like that. Anyway, as good as the food was, it couldn’t hold a candle to the special time it afforded me to spend with Amanda. After being joined at the hip with this girl for so many days, I’ve found that I really do miss our “time” together to just share what’s on our hearts and minds.

Kevin continues to eat well…already putting on 15 of the 45 lbs. he’s lost. I called as I was getting close earlier this morning to see if I could pick up anything for either him or Amanda, and he requested a big chocolate shake from Burger King…which, by the time I left, he had finished off…along with a Johnnie’s Chili Burger that Luke & Joni had brought by, AND his “lunch” provided by the hospital.

If you’ll permit me to discuss a bit of business…
I’m getting close to submitting my first order for “Kevin Posters.” If you’re wanting in on this first round of orders, I need to hear from you via email ( ASAP…just a small way to help with the bills as Kevin continues on the road to 110% recovery.

Here's a picture I took after lunch w/ Amanda...

Kevin continues to work very, very hard in all of his therapy sessions. Dad actually got to hang out with him today (or maybe it was yesterday…???) during some of his therapy sessions and seemed very impressed…almost touched…by just how hard Kevin really does work.

I was able to see both Kevin and Amanda last night. Kevin was clearly excited to share with me some very good news…his doctors are thinking about sending him HOME sometime this next week! Obviously, he will still have a long road ahead of him full of out-patient therapy and self-directed therapy at home…but just to be able to hear Kevin say, “I’m home!” will be such an amazing relief…and a wonderful step on his (and our) journey of recovery.

Kevin has been given a full "weekend pass" by his doctors at Jim Thorpe for today and tomorrow (Saturday/Sunday). He will return to JT tonight and sleep there, but the "thought" is that he will be discharged from JT either this Wednesday or Thursday. They're not making any guarantees...but Kevin is beyond excited by this possibility.

I think for the rest of us...and I'm totally speaking for myself, so I shouldn't say "rest of us"...I'm anticipating that this next step in Kevin's recovery will not only be a wonderful boost to moral, but will also carry with it an added layer of obvious responsibility as it will truly be "just us"...and primarily "just Amanda"...a trade-off that I'm sure she's more than happy to make, but a trade-off nonetheless.

We will be working this weekend to get KJ & AJ moved into their new apartment. Another praise is that they now have a contract on their condo in Fresno...a saga in and of itself...but another "issue" God has clearly taken care of in His perfect timing. Amanda commented to me the other day that "God is in the details." I absolutely couldn't agree more. But, what makes me feel even better about EVERYTHING that's happened over the course of these past 41 days is that God is ALSO sculpting the "BIG PICTURE...and that to me is a very, very, very comforting thought.

IT’S OFFICIAL!!! KEVIN JUST CALLED TO TELL ME THAT HE IS BEING RELEASED FROM JIM THORPE TOMORROW MORNING!!! How awesome is that?!?!?!?! I could hear the excitement in Kevin’s voice, and he literally made me tear up when he told me, “You’ve been a big part of this.” Amanda said he’s literally been dancing since receiving the good news…and has even threatened to start turning back flips. Thank you Lord.

Another fun/exciting update is that the staff at Jim Thorpe has enjoyed Kevin & Amanda so much and been so impressed by the strides Kevin has made since coming to the rehab center some 18 days ago that they have asked them to film a commercial…this Thursday! They’ve agreed to do this, so in effect, Kevin will be released from Jim Thorpe sometime tomorrow (Wednesday) morning…and return to Jim Thorpe Thursday morning for at least an hour or so to film some of his rehab there on site.

When I first heard this news, my thoughts immediately went to the latter part of the verse Ray Belcher shared with Kevin and the rest of us while we were in California, Habakkuk 1:5, which reads,For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I literally get goose bumps when I think about being to the point in this journey where God is starting to “reveal” some of these “things” that He is going to do with/in Kevin & Amanda’s lives…their testimonies…that we would never have imagined, let alone “believed,” back on December 31, 2006…and this is just the tip of the iceberg!!!

And…last time, I promise…
I have submitted an order for the “KJ Posters,” ordering a few extra in case anyone out there is still interested in having one. If you’re interested, please click here to shoot me an email @

Kevin has officially made his "Great Escape." I actually got to speak with him a little bit ago and congratulated him on accomplishing such a feat so much earlier than many had anticipated. And, because he has absolutely no memory of anything during his time in San Francisco or his 4 days in the ICU at Mercy, I was also able to make him laugh by telling him the story of his comments made back on January 21st (CLICK HERE to be taken to that blog entry) when he first alluded to making the "Great Escape." Again, he thought he was pretty darn funny.

They have enjoyed "chilling" as Kevin refers to it...and he readily admits that he's getting to be pretty stinking good at that past time. They will return to Jim Thorpe first thing tomorrow morning to film their that will be used as a "Miracle Minute" spot (that may not be the correct name of the segment???) during the Channel 5 or Channel 9. I will obviously let everyone know when they expect it to air.

Gotta run for now. I've been asked by several people to keep up the posting, even with Kevin's return home. No worries...I will do my best to continue to update everyone on Kevin's and all. Again, your prayers...past present and future...are appreciated so much more than we could ever hope to express.

I got to see Kevin and Amanda for a few minutes yesterday at their new apartment. Kevin’s friend and assistant men’s BBall coach Donnie Bostwick from John Brown University was in town as well (JBU vs. Oklahoma Christian)…leaving Arkansas before the team in order to have a few minutes to stop by and visit with Kevin. This guy has been an absolute BLESSING to me, and we’ve really struck up a friendship via email. God’s presence just oozes from his very pores…he really has been an incredible source of encouragement for me these past 6 weeks.

They are both very much looking forward to a much-deserved break from the daily grind of multiple rehabs…hoping to catch up on some much needed rest. I think God even provided this weather just for them…very appropriate “stay inside with a warm blanket and rest” kind of weather. Knowing Kevin, he will surely be sticking to his own self-guided therapy schedule…but they will pick up the “scheduled” rehab again on Monday when begin Kevin’s out-patient stint at Baptist Hospital. The first two days at Baptist will be more “assessment-based testing”…as the new cast of therapists will be evaluating Kevin’s current level of ability in a myriad of both physical and cognitive areas. Kevin also has his first appointment with his neurologist Monday morning, so please keep this in your prayers as well as I know they will both have many, many questions they hope to have answered.

Thanks to the countless numbers of friends and family who helped move all of KJ & AJ’s stuff into their new apartment, they are really and truly “moved in” and adjusting quickly to their new surroundings.

I spoke today with Lisa Hannegan, Dr. Lawton’s nurse practitioner…really the main contact for Dr. Lawton…out in San Francisco. I mentioned in an earlier post on this website that Dr. Lawton was interested & willing to take a look at the results of my CTA (CAT-Scan I had to check for un-ruptured aneurysms in my own brain). I did finally hear back from Mercy Hospital with the “official” good news that nothing out of the ordinary was found. However, I was glad to hear that Dr. Lawton was still happy to give his 2nd opinion on the matter. Lisa was of course very interested in hearing about Kevin’s progress and sounded very pleased with everything I mentioned to her over the phone. I told her that currently Kevin’s two major sources of frustration are #1 – his eye (he’s seeing double…but this was/is completely normal and totally expected) and #2 – as well as his difficulty speaking. She said that based on her experience with the type of surgery Kevin had in San Francisco, his speech difficulties were not out of the ordinary, and that she fully expected that it would recover over time. It’s just always good to hear a little reassurance from the people who have experience with this kind of thing.

The next step is to just keep kicking Kevin in the butt and encouraging him through the “hurry up and wait” game that therapy can often feel like to the person actually doing the therapy. Those of you who know Kevin can appreciate the tongue-in-cheekiness of that last sentence. Kevin IS the encourager. Kevin CAN and WILL work harder than anyone has ever worked on his/her road to recovery…and he’ll do it all with a smile on his face and plenty of encouragement to spare that will surely fall on the shoulders of others experiencing similar struggles…others he has yet to even meet.

THAT is Kevin Johnson. THAT is my brother.

No significant KJ update. I do know they’ve met with their new neurologist already this morning…and as I type this, Kevin is no doubt underway with his new rehab crew at Baptist Hospital in OKC. I will be anxious to hear all about his day later this evening.

My real reason for this post is to direct your attention to an article written by Kevin’s friend, Donnie Bostwick, assistant men’s basketball coach at John Brown University. He asked me several days ago if it was “OK” with me for him to write an article featuring Kevin and his amazing journey to date for publication on a couple of NAIA Basketball-related websites. Of course, I told him to swing for the fences!

Well, here is the first of at least 2 websites on which Donnie has secured “publication” for his article he has entitled “KJ – True Man of Character.” You can access the story directly by visiting

What’s neat about the websites on which Donnie’s article will appear is that neither is a “Christian” or “religious” website. This is a very exciting example of how God is using Kevin & Amanda’s story to influence others!

Things continue to move along as Amanda is quickly adjusting to her new role/job as “Ruthlessly Mean and Demanding Physically Therapist & Athletic Trainer”…actually, I’m sure she’d incredibly compassionate, but I do know that she’s working Kevin out very hard, utilizing their apartment complex’s indoor swimming pool and workout facility on a daily basis. It also has to feel good to have some semblance of a “schedule” within which to operate.

Kevin’s appointment with his neurologist this past Monday was productive. They both reported back that they really enjoyed the new doctor…Dr. Kevin Mikawa. Amanda said that she felt completely at ease and “unhurried” the entire time she was in his office. He made no bones about the severity of what Kevin had just survived, even asking Kevin near the beginning of their conversation, “Kevin, do you realize how truly lucky you are to even be alive after suffering the type of ruptured aneurysm you did?” He also said that, after having reviewed Kevin’s films, it was clear to him that Kevin had in fact suffered a post-operative stroke in the right-frontal lobe of his brain. This came as quite a shock to Amanda, and even to me later in the day when she was telling me about their visit. However, as Dr. Mikawa went on to explain, the vaso-spasms Kevin experienced some 10 days after his surgery caused his blood vessels within his brain to constrict (which we knew), but that the result of these constricting vessels was in fact a “stroke”…makes sense. So, really, this news didn’t change anything about Kevin’s current condition…or really anything about what we already knew…just a new word to add to Kevin’s experience.

Bottom line for me is that I think this news has affected me more than I would care to consciously admit. And the fact that it’s taken me 5 days to even sit down and “journal” about it is my clearest indication of this effect. Having had some time to really chew on this news, I think deep down I was really holding on to the hope, albeit slim, that Kevin’s deficits he continues to struggle with (speech, coordination, cognition) were still just lingering effects of post-operative swelling/adjustment of his brain. However, when the concept of a stroke was introduced, it basically confirmed what I was probably afraid to even ask, but really knew all along…that my hopes for Kevin’s full 110% recovery, though not dashed by any means, have at least had the wind knocked out of their sails…but only momentarily.

Those of you who have been following this website from its conception some 50+ days ago will probably remember an entry where I “discussed” the theological/philosophical question of “Is it OK to ask God for more than what He’s already blessed me with?” In other words, am I being selfish by asking God to heal Kevin completely…even though He’s already smiled upon our family by saving Kevin’s life?

Here’s the verse I’ve been leaning on recently that I feel addresses this question…
Isaiah 40:31
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

You’ll notice that I’ve emphasized the word “wait.” This is because the Hebrew word used in the original manuscript, “qavah”, does not translate perfectly into the English definition of “wait.” In fact, the more accurate translation is “to wait eagerly for” or “to look with eager expectation.” How cool is that?!?! God tells us that we are to wait for his answers to our prayers much like a little kid, and even some bigger kids, wait for Christmas…or a birthday. God expects and encourages us to eagerly anticipate His actions, directions, voice, etc. I say all of this for the simple reason of explaining that I no longer worry about asking God for more than he has already blessed me/Kevin/us with…with one caveat…

One reality that I have come to understand and joyfully accept over the course of the past 7 weeks is that the lives each of us has been blessed to live, our “moment” here on this earth, is merely a time of preparation for what really matters…Eternal Life! In the same breath that I ask God to completely and miraculously heal my brother, I also make it clear to God that I want His will…not mine…to be done. Throughout their marriage, Kevin & Amanda have consistently prayed every day that God would use them to His glory. He and He alone sees/knows/understands the “big picture.” And if that “big picture” includes not healing Kevin 110% so that more people here on earth will be influenced by Kevin & Amanda’s testimony, and that they would thereby be used to glorify God, then by all means, YOUR will be done!

This website has truly grown “wings” of its own. I’ve said before that I had no earthly idea it would turn into a source of spiritual encouragement for so many people…but I do give thanks to God for this unintended blessing. I wish I could share the numerous stories/phone calls/emails I’ve received concerning how Kevin & Amanda’s journey has already influenced numerous people’s walks with Christ…family, friends…even complete strangers…current believers whose spiritual lives have been re-ignited, and even a handful of non-believers who have now accepted Christ as their personal Lord & Savior!

Specific prayer requests…
1. Kevin: Continued and complete physical & mental healing in addition to thanks for the awesome attitude God has blessed him with throughout this entire experience.
2. Amanda: Wisdom, stamina, persistence and peace. Thanks for the close group of friends who continue to go out of their way to “take care” of Amanda.
3. Mom (Karen): Peace of mind and renewed health.
4. Dad (Gene): Patience and Godly wisdom.
5. General Request: The sale of Kevin & Amanda’ condo in Fresno, CA, has once again fallen through. Please pray that a buyer for this property would come along soon so that they could be relieved of the added financial burden of paying for two “homes.”

OK…so, we think this is good news…we’re choosing to accept it as such, and would ask you to help us in praising God for such an unexpected…yet very welcome blessing…miracle really.

Amanda was scheduled to call Dr. Mikawa (Kevin’s neurologist…first appointment was one week ago today) and hear his interpretation of the MRI Kevin had this past Tuesday. She called him early this morning and the first words out of his mouth were, “Well, I am shocked and mystified…” Admittedly, Amanda wasn’t exactly sure how to interpret this. Dr. Mikawa went on to explain that the MRI results showed no signs whatsoever of the stroke that, just this past Monday, he was convinced Kevin had suffered! In short, the MRI shows nothing to indicate that the deficits Kevin continues to rehab (speech, coordination, cognition) are permanent! On the other hand, the confusing or “mystifying” part of this equation is that the MRI shows nothing that does explain why Kevin continues to have trouble in these areas. As Dr. Mikawa continued to think things through over the phone with Amanda, he hypothesized that one possible explanation could be nerve damage as opposed to the expected damage to Kevin’s brain which the MRI did not find. This is MUCH BETTER NEWS than what we had been told just one week ago today, as Dr. Mikawa explained that, if it is in fact nerve damage, nerves are more readily expected to regenerate and/or heal over time…Wow! I pray that this is in fact the case…but, regardless, thank God for the fact that the MRI showed no apparent damage to Kevin’s brain!

On a totally different note, I just got an email from Donnie Bostwick…Assistant Men’s BBall Coach at John Brown University. He told me a couple of weeks back that he was working on transferring the voicemail that Kevin had left him after Donnie’s team, John Brown University, won the NAIA National Championship a couple of years back from the original cassette tape to a digital format. That message has been discussed in previous postings on this website and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE. Anyway, this message was my introduction to Coach Bostwick and, eventually, the inception of what’s turned into an incredible friendship these past 8 weeks. If you’re interested in hearing the message, I’ve attempted to upload it…so, just cross your fingers and CLICK HERE. You might need to disable any pop-up blockers (hold down the “Ctrl” key while clicking on the link) in order to get the page to load. Once the page loads, you’ll have to click on the little arrow next to the word “Play”…and if you can’t figure that out, you probably shouldn’t be on the internet in the first place.

We did get to hang out for a bit last night…Me, Amy, Eli, Dad, Amanda & Kevin. Here are a couple of pictures from last night’s get-together…

Just a quick update on Kevin & Amanda’s commercial for the Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center…
I’ve not seen it myself, but I’ve had several people comment that they’ve seen it on the Channel 9 evening news…both during the 6pm and 10pm newscasts.

And for the record…Amy, Eli & I also filmed a 2-minute commercial, or “advertorial,” for the Integris Bennett Fertility Institute back in December of 2006 which should begin airing any time now on Channel 9’s “Discover Oklahoma,” Saturday evenings at 6:30pm. But, with all of the NCAA basketball coming up in the weeks to come, I’m really not sure when the show is slated to be on the air.

Kevin & Amanda have also officially returned to the internet! If you’d like to shoot them an email directly you can do so by clicking here on either Amanda’s or Kevin’s name.

God is so very, very good!

Yesterday, I emailed the guy from the advertising agency who was “in charge” of filming the commercial that Amy, Eli & I shot for Integris Bennett Fertility Institute back in December. I explained my relationship to Kevin and that he and Amanda had also recently filmed a commercial for Integris…basically asked if I could get a digital “copy” of Kevin’s commercial so that I could post it here on the blog. He quickly replied…said that he was well aware of Kevin’s situation, knew that he was my brother, and had been praying for all of us for quite some time. He also said that he would be happy to get me the file. Sooooooooooo…as soon as he shoots that over to me, I’ll post it on here so all of you non-OKC’ers can see Kevin & Amanda on the “big screen.”

I just read a message left on the blog by the physical therapist Kevin had while in San Francisco. I thought it was worth posting as a part of the blog:
Hi Jeff, Amanda, Kevin and Family,
I am so thankful Amanda sent me this website about Kevin and his progress- I shared it with everyone involved in his care here at UCSF. WE are ALL soo happy he's doing so great. Lisa (Dr. Lawton’s RN) and I frequently ask each other if there’s any news from Oklahoma.
I am speechless to hear Kevin is JOGGING- that is AMAZING.
Come back and visit us someday.
Rebecca, physical Therapist at UCSF

OK…I’ve got the commercial and have uploaded it to To view it, just click on the picture.

You might need to disable any pop-up blockers (hold down the “Ctrl” key while clicking on the link) in order to get the page to open.

Thanks to Bob Harstad with Ackerman McQueen for getting this to me!!!


I got to do something last night that, for a while there, I honestly wasn’t sure I would ever get to do again…I had a WONDERFUL family dinner with Kevin, Amanda, Mom, Dad, Amy & Eli. Everyone came to Kingfisher and we had an absolute blast just talking, laughing & eating…thank you Lord for the little things in life that aren’t nearly as “little” anymore.

The emotional magnitude of last night’s festivities really didn’t hit me until I was saying goodbye to Kevin & Amanda. While hugging Kevin, I just told him…as I always do…that I loved him. But, I went on to say “I honestly had no idea how much I really love you.”

Sleep didn’t come easy last night…but it was for a reason I hadn’t experienced in quite some time. I was so emotionally and spiritually fulfilled! As I lay in bed, I thought back to the night in early January that I had returned home from Mercy Hospital to pack my bag for my flight to San Francisco early that next morning. Amy was staying the night at the hospital…and Eli was already fast asleep by the time I returned home. I felt so utterly alone. I vividly remember sobbing in the closet of our bedroom…pleading with God not to take my little brother. But, last night…last night I had many, many, many reasons to pause and give thanks to God for the blessings He daily bestows on me and my family. We’ve got a long way to go…all of us, really…not just Kevin…before I would ever feel comfortable referring to this experience in the past tense. But, in a sense, such is life…right? The “journey,” as God would have it, is designed to be an on-going “molding” and “shaping” of our lives into the image of Christ. We should never consider ourselves “molded” until we see Him face to face. At least that’s how I look at it.

Here are a couple of pictures from last night’s shin-dig. You can click on any of them and it will take you to the gallery of all of last night’s party pics.

Quick update on Kevin….he went in yesterday morning for a follow-up swallow test. For some reason, his “swallow” has been impaired since the surgery…not sure if the reason is neurological or directly related to having been intubated on several occasions over the past 2 ½ months. Long story short, he has to “thicken” everything he drinks to the consistency of honey so as to prevent it from going down the “wrong way.” The hope was that yesterday’s swallow test would reveal improvement, allowing the thickness requirement of Kevin’s liquids be reduced to that of “nectar,” or even plain “water.” Unfortunately, the swallow test showed no signs of improvement…and in fact, showed some signs of regression.

As a result, the doctors/therapists have increased Kevin’s swallow therapy from 3 to 5 days a week. He will also begin some “newer,” more aggressive therapies to help stimulate the nerves that control his swallowing.

As you can imagine, this was quite a moral blow to all of us…but especially to Kevin. His spirits remain good, but he would ask for prayer for this specific area in addition to his overall recovery process.

3-16-07…9:10am: Post from Amanda…written late on 3/15/07
Amanda emailed this “blog entry” to me late last night/early this morning…

Two and a half months into this ordeal and in many ways it seems like an eternity…in others it has literally disappeared. I told Kevin the other day he “missed winter…literally.” It is rather a weird scenario to be in because Kevin has no memory of this year’s events until a couple of days into his stay at Jim Thorpe. Prior to his aneurysm, the favorite part of my day was when we would both get home from work and discuss the day’s events in full. Now, there is a disconnect in the fact that for an entire month…and a pretty impacting one at that…I was not able to share with him the tremendously emotional ups and downs of each day. So, in a since, Kevin and I are getting reacquainted with each other. You see, though I was right by his side, I missed him terribly. I missed the conversations we would normally share but couldn’t because he was constantly medicated. I missed his hugs that he couldn’t give because of all the IV’s going into his body and the fact that he was physically too weak. I missed my best friend. “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope & confidence.” Jeremiah 17:7. And Blessed we are!!! We are daily rejoicing in God’s faithfulness and giving thanks to Him for Kevin’s life! We are taking those walks in the park together, soaking up each other’s conversations, and cherishing those wonderful hugs!

I am in awe of the progress Kevin has made. He has gained 35 of the 45 lbs he lost. He is now able to jog 3/5 of a mile (and as embarrassing as it is, I think I am more out of shape than he is). He is back in the gym using weights everyday. Physically, he is improving rapidly and we praise God for that. He is no longer impulsive. The occupational therapist has stated that he is doing incredibly well with upper level cognitive thinking exercises….some of which I may have struggled with. They seem to be amazed that he has absolutely NO problems with short or long term memory. Many patients who have had brain injuries struggle at times to find the right word and Kevin has never had an issue with this either.

For those of you prayer warriors who would like some specifics on how you can pray for Kevin, there are a few areas we would especially mention. The surgeon did an immaculate job, but due to the location of his aneurysm, he had to maneuver around the “Third Nerve” quite a bit. The Third Nerve controls Kevin’s right eyelid as well as his right eye’s ability to look to his left. Therefore, his eyes are not tracking together right now and he has double vision. The good news is that he has an appointment March 28th with Dr. Bradley Farris, Oklahoma’s best neuro-ophthalmologist. We are asking for God to give Dr. Farris wisdom on how to treat Kevin’s case and ultimately that his vision be completely restored. Second, Kevin’s speech, as mentioned in Jeff’s previous entries, has been a work in progress. He has already come so far from the hand signals he used to communicate after surgery. He is able to speak clearly and his voice is getting stronger and stronger. However, without sounding ungrateful, his speech is slower and it doesn’t sound like “Kevin” yet. I would say that this is what bothers him the most.

Wednesday, March 14th, Kevin underwent another swallow study. Many of you may not know that Kevin is able to eat regular foods, but when it comes to liquids, they must be thickened to the consistency of honey. The fact that he was intubated 4 times coupled with the location of the aneurysm itself has affected his ability to swallow. The resulting damage is that liquid is allowed to get into his lungs which could quickly lead to pneumonia. Kevin has been undergoing what they call “Vital Stim” treatments (I call it shock therapy ) in which they use electrodes to stimulate the muscles used to swallow. The test on Wednesday showed no improvement…which was a bit discouraging for Kevin. They have bumped up the Vital Stim therapy from 3 days a week to 5 and will now start a Thermal Stim therapy which involves using extreme cold to stimulate the nerves and muscles…sounds fun, huh? I admire Kevin’s willingness to do whatever it takes.

Many of you wonder what a week in Kevin’s life looks like right now. Briefly, it consists of therapy, therapy, and more therapy. He is going to Jim Thorpe Rehab 5 days a week now, but even when he is home we are working. Bless his heart, the “teacher” is coming out in me. He says I am his hardest therapist...I keep telling him I have the most invested in him! We have rejoined our Life Group on Wednesday nights, which has been a huge blessing. He is just now starting to read the blog little by little because of his vision. He has a doctor’s appointment about once a week. We are slowly easing back into life.

Kevin and I are always asking each other, “What is God teaching you right now?” Kevin’s quick response…“Patience.” Of course he wants to be back to his full abilities overnight…but he is learning that healing takes time. Psalm 40:1-3 says it best, “ I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on the rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” That is our prayer…that many would see God’s love and awesome power through this and begin a relationship with Christ. And I shared with Kevin that God is teaching me to trust in Him. I feel like we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death…our world has been turned upside down. But, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who TRUST in Him.” Namhum 1:7 On day 3 of this entire experience…way back in early January…I drove home from Mercy Hospital to pack my bag for San Francisco. Friends asked if they could drive me, but I knew I was due some alone time with God. I have never cried out to God with such anguish. I felt like I was wrestling with God…that is until I prayed out loud… “Lord I will love & serve You no matter what.” There is no bargaining with God…you either trust Him or you don’t.

Kevin & I are overwhelmed and blessed beyond words by each of you who have followed this journey and prayed for him! We are so thankful for your encouraging words and the many ways you have reached out to us. We praise God for you!


I’ve been hearing from several of you that you are still frequently checking the blog for updates on Kevin’s condition. I humbly apologize for not updating more often…but believe me when I say how WONDERFUL it feels to not have all that much to report on!

That being said, I personally hop on here about 5-10 times each day to check for new “messages” that you guys have been leaving for us to read. I know that Kevin & Amanda do the same thing…so thank you for those. It’s truly incredible the number of people with which this journey has allowed us to reconnect. I’m also humbled and thankful for the number of new friendships that have been formed as a result of this experience. But, most importantly, I’m most grateful for the new passion I now have for relationships with friends & family that…before December 31, 2007…I quite literally took for granted.

In checking the blog this evening, I found a message from Kevin that he’d posted earlier today. I asked Kevin if it would be OK if I posted it as a part of the actual blog so that more people could see it…he said no problem. So, without further ado…my little brother:

i want to say a huge thanks to everyone for your prayers. this is the hardest thing ever and i can't believe it is real. i am completely honored though because i know that God will use this for His good and He already has. if this crazy thing helps just one person draw close to God then i am glad this happened. going to therapy sucks and all of this is so hard but i do know that life here is short and that one day when i see Jesus He will say "well done my good and faithful servant" and that is what matters most.



God is good.

I had a quick visit with Amanda this afternoon. Today was the much anticipated appointment with the neuro-ophthalmologist, Dr. Brad Farris. Those of you who have been following the blog are keenly aware that Kevin’s right eye has, as a result of the surgery to repair his aneurysm, suffered to the extent that he is not able to “control” its movement and has only recently regained the ability to fully open that eye on his own. The way it was explained to us in San Francisco by Dr. Lawton, as well as right here at home by our dear friend and local ophthalmologist, Dr. Erin Holloman, is that the location of Kevin’s aneurysm was so incredibly close to the brain stem and, more specifically, the origination of the “Third Nerve” which controls the ability of Kevin’s right eye to open, move certain directions and even dilate, that it was literally thrown into “shock” as a result of the operation. The hope was that, over time, this nerve would recover, albeit slowly, and Kevin’s ability to see as he had before the surgery with both eyes would gradually be restored. Originally, Dr. Lawton and his staff had given us a rough “three week” window post-op during which time we were told to expect Kevin’s eye/vision to be impaired. Of course, now that we are roughly 2 months post-op, we have naturally started to get a bit concerned.

For Kevin, the issues he has with the current condition of his eye are two fold. One, he now has double vision when using both eyes. This is in a sense good news in that Kevin was once not be able to see at all out of his right eye. This means that his brain is in fact remembering that he does have a right eye and would really like to use it if possible. What’s funny is that currently his vision as far as reading the infamous letters on the eye chart is better in his right eye than it is in his left. He just lacks the control needed to “track” his right eye with his left. The second issue Kevin has with his eye, and this is purely speculation on my part, is that he seems to be “bothered” or “self-conscious” about how it looks. This is only natural and I know for certain I would be feeling the same way. But I also know that Kevin is very anxious to begin whatever treatment/procedure Dr. Farris was to introduce during today’s appointment.

I can speak with absolutely no authority on Dr. Farris other than the few things I’ve heard about him from other doctors. So far, the three local doctors who have played the largest role in Kevin’s care and treatment…Dr. Tytle, Dr. Mikawa & Dr. Holloman…have all without hesitation said that Dr. Farris is THE ophthalmologist to see for neurological cases. In fact, Dr. Mikawa even went as far as to say that he would not allow Kevin to see any other neuro-ophthalmologist. The other thing I know about Dr. Farris is that he is a Christian and has in fact been praying for Kevin since shortly after this whole journey began.

My summary of Kevin’s appointment is going to have to be brief as I don’t have many details. However, the most important thing to know is the first thing Amanda said to me on the phone this afternoon… “It really could not have gone any better.” In short, Dr. Farris spent 2 ½ hours with Kevin & Amanda and made them feel like walking miracles…well, Kevin at least. He made it very clear to Kevin that he sees many, many aneurysm patients…and he was totally blown away by how well Kevin was doing. He went on to stress that, after reviewing Kevin’s file and looking at his films, there was absolutely no medical explanation as to why Kevin should be alive today. He told Kevin point blank that he was a walking miracle…and that he believed God wasn’t done working in his recovery just yet.

After performing a battery of tests…dilating Kevin’s eyes…experimenting with various prisms…Dr. Farris told Kevin that he was able to see his “Third Nerve” and that it was clearly “bruised”…but not permanently damaged! He said that because Kevin was only 2 months post-op…and that most of the healing could be expected within the first 4-6 months post-op…he was content to just drag his feet for another couple of months and let God continue to work his healing in Kevin’s eye. He said that he wanted Kevin to check back in another 2 months…if there was still progress being made, then great…we’ll continue to drag our feet. However, if at any point it appears as though the natural progression of healing has run its course, then at that point Dr. Farris would intervene surgically…and that he was confident he could fix Kevin’s double vision regardless of the timing…be it now or in 6 months.

Well, I think the part that really got to me is that, before leaving the exam room, Dr. Farris prayed with Kevin & Amanda. He thanked God for using miracles in the flesh like Kevin to remind him that he as a doctor serves a mighty, mighty God and that he is in fact still a student in God’s great Kingdom.

I’ve done my best to recall the highlights of my conversation with Amanda. This appointment with Dr. Farris is something I’d mentioned before in the blog, so I wanted to be sure and post an update as soon as I had the chance. If I learn of any other significant details, I’ll be sure to post them later as well.

That brings us to a couple of prayer requests.
#1: Please pray for patience for Kevin as, even though today’s appointment was full of wonderful news, it also means that he will have to continue to “wait” for his eye to recover.
#2: Please pray for stamina for both Kevin & Amanda as they continue their daily regime of therapy.
#3: Please pray expectantly for Kevin’s speech to be restored.
#4: Please pray for the entire family as we continue to “readjust” to the new life as normal.

Two quick additions to last night’s recount of Kevin’s appointment with Dr. Farris…
#1) After examining Kevin’s right eye, Dr. Farris commented that the infamous “Third Cranial Nerve” is currently functioning at about 50%.
#2) He also made the comment that Kevin currently has a “slight droop” on the right side of his face. Amanda & I agree that this is hardly even noticeable…maybe a little bit when Kevin smiles, but nothing with which to be overly concerned.

This past weekend, Kevin and Amanda had their first official “outing” since coming home from the hospital. They were invited to drive down to Houston with their good friends, Russ & Amanda Schwettmann, for a big UFC Fight…televised…the whole 9-yards. This is something Kevin and his buddies have been big fans of for quite some time. In fact, prior to his aneurysm, Kevin was participating in a weekly “Fight Club”…basically an evening of Bible and/or Book Study followed by lots of testosterone and sweat as the guys work to perfect their submission holds.

This was a good trip for both Kevin & Amanda, but especially for Kevin as he continues to adjust and become comfortable with social settings.

Today is the big “Psychological Evaluation”…8 grueling hours of questions and analysis for Kevin…not exactly what I would consider to be right up his alley. The doctors are also planning to spend a good bit of time with Amanda as well. To be honest, I’m not really sure what today’s “goal” is…just all part of the process of rehabilitation. I do know that Kevin has continued to become more self-aware of the situation as a whole…no doubt a difficult and painful process for him. However, and I pray that this doesn’t sound too selfish, it’s just incredibly reassuring to me to witness first hand that he can in fact experience that kind of emotion and cognitive processing.

Kevin has another swallow test schedule for this Wednesday…tomorrow, actually. If you’ll remember, the results of his last swallow test were disappointing at best. Please pray that the doctors and therapists will see marked improvement and that the thickness of his liquids can be downgraded to the consistency of “nectar” versus the “honey” thickness he currently has to drink.

Those of you who have been following the blog may remember previous posts where I’ve requested “blanket prayers” for a specific “issue” with which I did not feel comfortable sharing all of the details. Well, God has clearly answered our prayers and continues to work in amazing ways. Thank you all for being such amazing and faithful prayer warriors for us.

Lastly, I’ve been asked to speak at a breakfast meeting on May 3rd being held in conjunction with the “National Day of Prayer.” I was asked to speak about the role prayer has played in this journey with Kevin over the past 3 months. Normally, this is something that would scare me to death…not so much the speaking in front of people, but the topic itself. I don’t know how I will “hold up” emotionally talking about this experience. It is still very new and, to a certain extent…raw. However, I boldly believe that it is opportunities such as this that God will use to further his Kingdom through the sharing of Kevin’s story. So…I agreed. Furthermore, I’m excited about it! Please keep this event in your prayers as well…and that people may be drawn closer to God as a result of hearing how absolutely powerful prayer is through Kevin’s story.

I had an email from Amanda this morning with the following 2 pictures from their weekend in Houston at the UFC fight…

Kevin’s time yesterday with the psychologist wasn’t nearly as grueling as they thought it could be. Turns out that the psychologist, Dr. Rowe, actually went to church with my parents at Heritage Presbyterian and has been following Kevin’s story via this very blog for quite some time! (Hi Dr. Rowe!) I’m tempted to say something like, “Small world, eh?”…but I know better than that. It’s just all a part of the big…BIG…picture that God is continuing to unveil to all of us.

The results from yesterday’s gauntlet of tests & evaluations will take about 2 weeks to compile…I’ll keep you posted.

As a reminder, Kevin is having another swallow test performed today. Please keep this in your prayers.

And…more exciting news…this is officially Kevin’s last week for both Physical & Occupational Therapy!!! To say that he is excited would be quite the understatement. His Speech Therapy (including Swallow Therapy) is scheduled to continue…but Kevin is very excited to just be “on his own” for the physical side of his rehab process. Praise God!


Why do I even continue to have doubts?

I just checked a voicemail I received from Amanda earlier today…I’m in Guthrie today and for whatever reason, my phone doesn’t get good reception here in my office. Anyway, she said that Kevin had already had his swallow test and things looked so good, they not only “downgraded” the thickness of his liquids, they took him off of thickener all together! She did say that he was still aspirating a little (liquid going down the wrong way), so even though they’ve graduated him to water-thick liquids, he still has to tuck his chin when he swallows in order to protect his windpipe. They will also continue the Vital Stimulation Therapy & the Thermal Stimulation Therapy 5-days a week with the anticipation of testing him again in another 3 weeks.

Thank you all for your prayers! It’s working!!!

The entire Ball Family (my mom’s side of the family) got together this past weekend to celebrate Easter like any red-blooded American celebrates anything…with lots of food! It was the first time the entire extended family had gotten together since Kevin’s return from San Francisco. We had a great time just hanging out and catching up…checking out the “newest” and, quite frankly, cutest addition to the Ball Family…Addie Rae Hoppers…and just enjoying each other’s fellowship. Here are a couple of pics from Sunday’s shin-dig.

Kevin & I are planning on doing some fishing this weekend up around Kingfisher/Omega. The bass are supposedly hitting pretty good right now. I’m just looking forward to relaxing with my little brother.

Well, between the high winds and the 6 fresh inches of rainfall…the fish were content to completely avoid any and all lures/jigs/plastic worms we managed to throw their way this past Saturday. We fished for about 2 hours with nary a nibble between the two of us. Oh well…if you fish only because you like to catch fish, then you’re not a real fisherman. I don’t know about that last statement, but it makes me feel better about my angling abilities (or lack there of) anyway.

What we DID achieve was an afternoon of small talk, funny stories and just “catching up” in general. It was absolutely wonderful.

Kevin met with both his psychologist and his neurologist this past week. Everything checked out well with his psychological examination. In fact, the psychologist said he gave a “solid performance.” Not too shabby! He plans to put Kevin through a similar battery of tests in another year or so once his eye has completely healed. The other piece of good news is that Kevin has set his own personal goal of returning to work by June of this year…wow! Please keep this goal in your prayers!

Just a quick note to again say thank you to everyone who continues to check the blog and pray for Kevin. I believe with all of my heart that God has never once stopped listening to our requests and is taking great joy in watching Kevin recover. Furthermore, He continues to shield Kevin & Amanda from what could no doubt turn into a mountain of medical debt.

Thursday is slated to be a pretty big day for both Kevin & myself. As I had mentioned in a previous post, I will be the speaker for Kingfisher County’s National Day of Prayer at 6:30am Thursday morning. I really am quite excited about this opportunity, and I pray that others will be touched through hearing what God has done in both Kevin & my mom’s lives.

Thursday will also see Kevin returning to Mercy Hospital for the first time since being medi-flighted to San Francisco where he will undergo an angiogram to check the physiology of the blood vessels of his brain. Though a relatively safe procedure, it does have its risks. I would ask for prayer for Kevin’s safety during this operation and that the doctors would clearly see remarkable correction when compared to his pre-operative angiogram.

And speaking of doctors, you may remember reading about Dr. Tim Tytle. He was Kevin’s interventional radiologist during his stay in the Mercy ICU. It was through his direct connections with other doctors at UCSF that we wound up “meeting” Dr. Lawton and spending a month in San Francisco. He valiantly gave of his time…well beyond his “normal” shift…to ensure that Kevin would receive the care he so desperately needed. Well…though Kevin met Dr. Tytle and visited with him several times while in the ICU at Mercy, he has absolutely no recollection of this whatsoever. So, in a sense, Thursday also marks the day that Kevin will be meeting Dr. Tytle for the “first time” as he is the doctor who will be performing his angiogram.

Again, thank you all so very much for your continued prayers. One of these days we’ll have a big ‘ol party and thank each of you in person!

Well…it appears to be good news all around for the Johnson boys. As of my last phone conversation with Amanda, Kevin was back in the recovery room following his scheduled angiogram. Dr. Tytle indicated that, at first glance anyway, everything seemed to appear as it should. He indicated that the clipping clearly immobilized the bulk of Kevin’s aneurysm (which we already knew), but that the aneurysm’s “shoulder” (where it branched off onto one of the dissecting vessels) was still bulging a bit…again, not anything we didn’t already expect to hear. Overall, he said he was pleased with how things looked, but would be getting back with Kevin & Amanda after spending some time analyzing the films more closely.

As for my talk at this morning’s prayer breakfast, I really feel that things went about as well as they could have gone. I honestly don’t even remember much of what I said. I was surprised by how emotionally difficult it was to talk about the events of the past 4 months. Selfishly, I think the cathartic value of what I was able to share was doubly as beneficial to me as any amount of encouragement others may have gained from hearing what I had to say.

Again, thank you all for your continued prayers.

A quick update…
We continue to wait on word from Dr. Lawton in San Francisco as to his interpretation of Kevin’s recent angiogram. We were all very aware that due to the size and shape of the original aneurysm, the clipping procedure Kevin underwent while in San Francisco would address the most emergent portion of the aneurysm, but that there would still be that darn “chubby shoulder” that would remain “un-addressable.” Dr. Tytle here at Mercy Hospital wants to be sure that what he is seeing in this most recent angiogram is not any different from what Dr. Lawton saw immediately post-op in San Francisco. Bottom line is, we need to be sure that the remaining “shoulder” is stable and not changing in either shape or size.

Two pieces of good news…
#1: Kevin is now down to 3-days a week of speech therapy! Woohoo!
#2: Kevin & Amanda have had an offer on their condo in Fresno…please pray that something will be worked out so that they can get this burden off of their backs.

Amanda did have a couple of email exchanges with Dr. Lawton yesterday. Lawton’s take on what he observed while reviewing Kevin’s angiogram films was that there is a “bulge” on the artery that leaves from the base of the original aneurysm. However, he also went on to suggest that this bulge could possibly represent some break down of the original blood clot that was present back in January. Overall, he said his initial impression is to just sit tight and repeat the angiogram in 6 months. He also said he would present Kevin’s case to his “group” next week to discuss other options and opinions.

The best news of the day came when Dr. Lawton informed Kevin that he no longer needed to refrain from physical activity…something Dr. Tytle had required for the past week or so after his initial review of Kevin’s angiogram results. This also felt very good for the rest of us as it seemed to speak to Dr. Lawton’s comfort level with the existing anatomy of Kevin’s clipped aneurysm.

Our requested prayer at this point would be that the anatomy of Kevin’s clipped aneurysm would remain stable and that no adverse changes would take place between now and his next angiogram…well, actually that there would NEVER be any adverse changes to the aneurysm’s anatomy.

Kevin had an appointment with Dr. Farris (neuro-ophthalmologist) yesterday morning concerning his right eye. If you’ll remember, Dr. Farris had basically decided to take the “wait and see” approach to treating Kevin’s eye during the last appointment back on 3-28-07. In other words, he wanted to be certain that his eye was finished healing on its own before deciding to perform corrective surgery.

Well, at yesterday’s appointment, it was decided to go ahead and proceed with the surgery to aid in correcting Kevin’s eyesight. The surgery is scheduled for June 14th. Please keep this date in your prayers!

Back on May 16th, I posted the following update concerning Dr. Lawton’s response after reviewing Kevin’s most recent angiogram…

Overall, he said his initial impression is to just sit tight and repeat the angiogram in 6 months. He also said he would present Kevin’s case to his “group” next week to discuss other options and opinions.

Well, yesterday Amanda had a message from Dr. Lawton on her cell phone from Dr. Lawton. He was just checking back to report that his “group” had met to discuss Kevin’s case and concurred with Lawton’s initial response that the best course of action would be to simply monitor Kevin’s aneurysm via another angiogram 6 months from now.

To quote Amanda, “All good let’s pray that the "bulge" goes completely away in 6 months. You know our God is that big!”

Not much new to report…just wanted to share a couple of pictures from this past Sunday afternoon. Enjoy and God bless!

We met up with Kevin, Amanda, Mom & Dad last night over at the ‘rent’s house for dinner. Amanda had whipped up an AMAZING lasagna that was quite literally the best I’d ever eaten. Kevin’s eye surgery is still scheduled for this coming Thursday (June 14th) and Kevin is very excited, to say the least.

Fortunate for us, we got to visit with my dear friend Dr. Erin Holloman just prior to heading over to my folk’s place. We ran into her (expectedly) at Kelli O’Hara’s shin-dig to celebrate her upcoming wedding…another neat story…but one thing at a time here, people. Anyway, Erin was gracious enough (as always) to give me a quick run-down as to how Kevin’s eye surgery will play out. She isn’t performing Kevin’s operation…that part’s up to Dr. Brad Farris. But Erin is an accomplished ophthalmologist who has performed the same procedure numerous times.

She said the surgery itself wouldn’t last more than an hour…probably closer to 30 minutes. There will be no external incisions. Basically, Dr. Farris will just tighten up the muscle that pulls Kevin’s eye “in” towards his nose and loosen the muscle that pulls the eye “out” towards his ear so that Kevin will no longer experience double vision when looking straight ahead. She said his eye will probably look bloodshot for at least a few days…maybe a week or two, but other than that, it’s a pretty easy operation as far as recovery is concerned.

As has already been mentioned numerous times, Kevin is very excited to have his eye & eyesight corrected. He has basically been wearing a patch over his right eye ever since returning home from San Francisco. Though this operation is not intended to grant Kevin full control of his right eye, it is a very important step in the recovery process…by physically and psychologically. The hope is that once Kevin is able to overcome his double vision, he can then begin the necessary therapies that will eventually allow him to return to such activities as driving…and eventually, working.

On another note, I mentioned (I think???) a while back that I had been invited to give a radio interview regarding Kevin’s story on the local (Kingfisher/Watonga) gospel radio station…93.9 KIMY…the #2 most listened to radio station in the greater OKC area behind 92.5 KOMA (crazy, huh?!?!). This is the same station that I’ve worked with for the past 2-3 years for broadcasting the local high school football games, so I’ve gotten to know the local station manager, Rick Vermillion, quite well. Rick called me up one day to say that they were in the middle of their fund-drive and wondered if I’d be willing to visit with him about how God had worked through our family’s experience over the past few months. I jumped at the invitation…thinking, “Hey, this will be a great opportunity to do a ‘dry-run’ of my upcoming speech for the National Day of Prayer Men’s Prayer Breakfast.”

Anyway, long story short, the local radio station is part of a much larger network of radio stations that cover pretty much the entire state of Oklahoma. Furthermore, they boast an unbelievably popular internet broadcast that consistently ranks in the top 2-3 stations nationwide. I say all of that because the interview was re-broadcasted by the entire network of stations…what an awesome opportunity to share this amazing story of God’s faithfulness!!! I bring this up now to let you know that I’ve uploaded the audio file of this interview to The interview is about 36 minutes long…so if you’ve got the time, feel free to check it out by

My apologies to those of you who have been looking for an update on Kevin's eye surgery...I've had a crazy busy day. In a nutshell, everything went very, very well. Dr. Farris told Amanda that he could "really feel the prayers" in the operating room as he began Kevin's procedure.

Part of my day consisted of meetings at the Waterford, but afforded the the opportunity to swing by and visit with both Kevin & Amanda later in the day. Kevin looked GREAT! I expected that he would be all groggy and ready for a nice nap...but he was really quite chipper. His eye looked awesome...but it will take at least 6 weeks to fully realize the effects of the operation. He was told by Dr. Farris to expect to still be seeing double for at least a few more days, if not weeks...which he is, but not quite as far apart.

They will return to Dr. Farris' office 1-week post-op at which time Kevin will simply be checked out for any possible infections, etc. They will then return 6-weeks post-op at which time Dr. Farris expects to be able to tell whether or not an additional procedure is required to "tweak" the first adjustment. At this time, barring any required "tweaking," Dr. Farris said that Kevin can start thinking about driving again.

Anyway, just wanted to say a very sincere "thank you" to all of you who have been praying for this big day. Your prayers were heard and Kevin's spirits really seemed to be lifted.

Wow…so we’ve officially passed the 6-month mark. Don’t know if that calls for a cheer, a sigh…or just another deep breath before plunging head-first back into this wild ride known as life.

It’s been a few days since my last post…nearly a month in fact. The GREAT news is that Kevin continues to get good news on his eye. He really looks fantastic! In fact, he informed me this past Sunday night at dinner that he had actually burned his eye patch. That’s right…ceremoniously burned the dang thing. That was HUGE for me to hear. I get goose bumps just thinking about it now…thank you all for your prayers. Really, thank you so very much.

Now for the more difficult update…
Without knowing how to say this quite as eloquently as I’d like, I’ve decided to go ahead and write in this blog about the struggles my mom has experienced since returning home from California…if for no other reason than to simply better explain how you can pray for her, my dad…and the rest of us.

Without going into all the details, I did want to let everyone know that we’ve had to check my mom into a psychiatric hospital in OKC for the 2nd time now since returning home from San Francisco. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, understanding and patience for all of us…especially my dad…and for God’s peace and healing hand of protection to envelope my mom during this difficult time.


Just got a call from my dad. Apparently my mom fell and broke her hip sometime early this morning. We’re pretty hazy on the details, but she’s scheduled for surgery at Deaconess Hospital at 11:00am this morning. Will keep everyone posted…but we appreciate your prayers.

Mom’s surgery went well. Her break basically includes the entire “ball” of the ball-and-socket portion of her hip joint. The surgeon felt that she was able to get to it quickly enough that a full-blown hip replacement will not be necessary…but that won’t be completely clear for at least another 3 months or so. The fear is that because of the break, mom’s blood supply may not continue to feed the “ball” portion of her femur. If that’s the case, she will have to go through the complete hip-replacement surgery. We’re hoping to avoid that due to mom’s relatively young age. Apparently, hip replacements don’t last forever and have to be “redone” every 7-10 years.

Under normal circumstances, a patient undergoing the procedure mom went through this morning would spend from 3-4 days in the hospital. However, due to the extenuating circumstances with her mental health, her stay may be prolonged until she is ready/able to continue her psychiatric treatment. This, according to the surgeon, is a bit unclear at the moment…the hospital cannot keep her any longer than she requires medical care, but the psychiatric hospital may be reluctant to take her back if she is taking any narcotics to help her deal with the pain of her broken hip as the narcotics would interfere with the doctor’s attempt at diagnosing mom’s mental condition…but we’re all doing our best not to worry about that at this point and just focus on keeping mom comfortable.

I appreciate the kind words many of you have already sent via email. Please do not hesitate to email my dad some words of encouragement as well by clicking here.

I spoke briefly with my dad earlier today…he said that the nurses got mom up earlier today and had her stand and sit in a chair…then stand and sit back on the bed. I’m not sure what else they’ve had her doing. I’m planning on heading to the city after work to see her for a bit…will update after that.

Kevin & Amanda came to our place yesterday evening for dinner. We had already planned to have dinner with KJ, AJ & Dad…but Dad wasn’t all that crazy about leaving Mom for the evening. Anyway…it was a good time had by all, despite how Eli might look in the picture below.

I was just excited to post a new picture of Kevin post-surgery. Looks great, doesn’t he! Don’t tell me…tell HIM via email by clicking here!!!.

Amy, Eli & I traveled to OKC yesterday to see Mom. Overall, she was much more conversational…though her depression is still quite evident. She was sitting in a chair when we arrived, and expressed some anxiety about being moved to the in-patient rehab facility there at Deaconess the next day. Can’t say I blame her there…I’m sure she’s got a few days ahead of her that promise to be physically uncomfortable to say the least.

Kevin continues to do very well. He went out to dinner Saturday evening with a group of guys from church and seemed to really enjoy himself. His comment to me was, “It just felt really good to get out.” Well, if it felt half as good for him as it felt for me to know that he was going out…then he must have had the time of his life!

Us Johnsons are a tough breed. We’re getting along just fine…by the Grace of God, no doubt. Again, thank you all for your prayers. I’ll keep you posted on Mom’s progress as updates present themselves and time allows.

I visited with Mom briefly on the phone yesterday. They got her moved to the in-patient rehab wing of Deaconess. They’re working her pretty hard and she makes no bones about how difficult the rehab is. Overall she was a bit more talkative. We didn’t get to visit long as she had 4 of her sisters in the room with her at the time (Anita, Pam & Pat all live here in Oklahoma…Renee had flown in from California the day before).

Dad, Anita & Renee are coming to Kingfisher this evening for dinner…looking forward to that as I can’t tell when the last time was that I saw Renee.

Mom was moved from the medical hospital back to the psychiatric hospital on Wednesday of this week…2 days ago. While still on the medical side of Deaconess Hospital, she underwent a psychiatric evaluation to assess her current mental/emotional state through which it became readily apparent that, though improved from her mental state I wrote about back on 7-2-07, she would still require psychiatric hospitalization.

It goes without saying that these past few months have been difficult for all of us…especially my mom. But I worry about my dad as well. Though he continues to hold up under the mounting strain of caring for my mom, I can’t even begin to imagine the turmoil he must be feeling as “life” as he knew it a mere 7 months ago has been completely up-ended. Please keep BOTH he and my mom in your prayers. And please don’t hesitate to email my dad some words of encouragement as well by clicking here.

I’m sitting here on the couch with Eli on my lap…typing one-handed…just wanted to update with a few new pics from yesterday. Our sister, Stephanie, is in town from Colorado for a few days. We got together Friday evening and then again yesterday afternoon to just catch up and hang out.

I got a new lens last week…a 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye…Kevin was happy to serve as my guinea pig/model…little did he realize that his nose would suffer so dramatically from the distortion of the lens. I think it’s a good look for him…maybe…??? ;)

We were able to take Eli to Mom’s hospital on Saturday evening for a quick visit. Overall, she is doing better…but is still a long way from being “well.” She had a follow-up visit with the surgeon who fixed her hip this past week. That went well and the surgeon, after reviewing some fresh X-rays, was pleased with Mom’s healing.

Kevin’s doing great…really, really great. What an answer to prayer. For those of you who knew him before all of this happened, you can attest to the fact that Kevin is one goofy dude. Well, Amanda & I were talking this past weekend and came to the same conclusion…Kevin is now even “goofier.” You may remember me making the comment during his days at Jim Thorpe that Kevin is the funniest guy he knows…well, this has not changed. But you know what, I don’t want it to. I LOVE seeing him enjoy life and cut up with those around him. Praise God!

I’ve had several people email me over the past couple of weeks and ask how they could pray for us, so…here are a couple of quick requests…
#1: Pray that God grant our family divine wisdom as we decide what treatment options are best for Mom.
#2: Pray for Kevin’s upcoming angiogram…currently scheduled for November 1st (Kevin’s birthday)…and that the doctors will be excited by what they see.
#3: Pray for continued healing for both Kevin & Mom (Karen).
#4: PRAISE God for his unbelievable faithfulness to the Johnson Family these past 7+ months.

I’ll be the first to admit…it’s been down right HARD to keep a smile on my face here recently…with all that continues to plague my mom and, as a result, my dad. To believe that we serve a God who is good and just and loving…there are days when it just doesn’t make sense. I spoke with a very wise friend of mine soon after returning home from San Francisco who would ask me on occasion, “Jeff, are you mad at God yet? Don’t be surprised when you find that you’re mad at Him.”

The first time she said this to me, I was nearly offended. However, in recent days, the reality of her underlying statement has begun to hit very close to home. My personality is such that things just need to make sense…and none of this makes sense! “All things happen for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” This verse…Romans 8:28…has made ZERO sense here lately. After all, I consider my mom to be a very Godly woman…where is the “good” in this?

At Life Church this past weekend, Craig started a series entitled “30 Day to Live.” After the experiences of the past 7+ months, I was quite curious as to how/what he would choose to discuss in these sermons. Well, the one thing he said that moved me more than anything else in his sermon was this… “Lord, remind me to continue to give to You…even if all I have to give is hopelessness…remind me to give it to You.”

Wow…what an absolutely wonderful day yesterday was! Here’s the short version…
This past Monday evening, following our City Council meeting here in Kingfisher, I was visiting with the editor of the newspaper here in town, Gary Reid, who has always been kind enough to ask me how Kevin is doing. Well, this time around he asked if he could write a story about Kevin’s experience in an upcoming edition of his paper. “Of course…I’d be honored!” was my reply. So, we set up a time for later this week to sit down together…just Gary and me…to go over the events of the past 7-8 months.

Well, later that evening I got a crazy idea. Why don’t I at least invite Kevin to come up here to Kingfisher and visit with us. He’s already been invited by several groups & organizations to share his story in a group setting…something that would make me pretty anxious. So, I thought this would be a decent way for him to talk about his experience in a very non-threatening, “there aren’t 500 people looking at me,” environment. After all, he was scheduled to take his driving test the very next day (Tuesday)…and I figured if nothing else, he could just pop up to Kingfisher and have lunch with his big brother.

So, I shot him an email…made it very clear that he was not obligated…no one was expecting him to be here…and he said, “Yeah…I’d like that.” SWEET!

So…yesterday, Kevin met me here at the bank in Kingfisher at 10:15. He had all sorts of “strangers” (my co-workers) coming up to him and hugging on him, telling him how happy they were that he was doing so well…that he looked so good…etc. I know this kind of thing has been uncomfortable for Kevin in the past, but when I asked him about it yesterday, he said “You know…I just finally told myself to be happy that I’m even here to be loved on. Besides, I know that if it was a friend of mine who was sick, I’d want to love on them just like these people are loving on me.” I was thrilled to hear him say this.

So, we did the interview…took a couple of pictures (tried to be as serious as we know how to be with each other when we’re having our picture taken)…and then went to lunch. It was his FIRST official trip on his own since all of this happened back on December 31, 2006. I was honored…:-)

The other bit of good news Kevin shared with me yesterday is that HE WILL BE RETURNING TO WORK ON MONDAY…YES, MONDAY…AS IN 3 DAYS FROM TODAY!!! I’ll let Amanda’s email she sent out last night say the rest…

Amanda’s email from 8/16/07…
Hello Everyone!

Wanted to share some amazing news with you all...Kevin is going back to work 8:00am on Monday morning....Yes, this coming Monday. God has been so good and KJ is anxious to get back to work.

Please pray for confidence for him as he makes this huge transition.

Thanks for all of your support, prayers, and love during this time!


Cool, huh? Yeah…very cool. Praise God.

I did get to visit with my mom last night. We had a good conversation and she enjoyed hearing about my day with Kevin…she asked about Eli…and even smiled a few times. When I left, the nurse commented how she enjoyed seeing my mom smile when she saw me, because they just don’t get too many smiles out of her…that makes me sad. She is having a medical test run on her next week to check for a physical condition that might be prohibiting the drugs from having the effect the doctors (and all of us) were hoping for. I would ask for prayer for wisdom for the doctors as well as for the family. It’s amazing how physically and emotionally exhausting it is when you don’t have crystal clear “black & white” choices when faced with making decisions for how to medically treat a family member…I know it’s taking a toll on my dad, as you can only imagine.

Quick update on Mom…she is to be moved at some point today from her current location in Bethany to St. Anthony’s on the south side of OKC. Once here, doctors will begin a new round of intensive treatments that will last up to 3 weeks. Please pray for these coming days that we might see improvement in Mom’s mental health.

Kevin emailed me last night with a quick update as to how his first few days back to work have gone…
From Kevin’s email:
Work is going great. My boss and my coworkers have been awesome. On my first day back they made me a welcome back banner and baked me a cake. I was nervous, but as my buddy Russ said, "Sometimes we do what we gotta do, and the other times we do what we have to do." I thank God for my job with Stryker and how everything has worked out. I am doing well physically and emotionally these days thanks to an awesome God and an amazing wife. I am still overwhelmed by all of the prayers for us and it is incredible for me personally to see how lives have been affected thru this. Hearing the impact of this on people is what helps me to remain positive and see the good in this.

AND…the long awaited article from the Kingfisher Times & Free press is now available for your viewing pleasure by CLICKING HERE. The article ran on 8-22-07…MOST of what made the article is factual. Just the nature of the beast I suppose…:- )

I have actually had several people call me here at the bank or even stop me out in public to tell me that they’d read the article and were elated to hear how well Kevin is doing. I had no idea who some of these people were…it truly is amazing the number of people who have rallied to Kevin’s aid as Prayer Warriors during the past 8 months. Thank you all!!!

Mom was moved to St. Anthony’s on the south side of OKC on Tuesday of this week and began a more intensive form of treatment the following day. We have high hopes about the decision to move her to this new facility as well as for the new form of treatment. We would ask for your prayers for mom that she might experience some relief from the depression that has gripped her so fiercely these past few months.

Some GREAT news!!! Mom was released from the hospital this past week and is now back at home! She still has a long road ahead of her...both mentally and physically...but it sure is nice to have her home! She will continue to receive treatment on an out-patient basis and we are actively looking into some very promising out of state treatment programs to address her psychological needs.

Thank you all for your prayers!

Mom continues to do exceedingly well…still on her way to a full recovery, but she is really making great strides. Thank you all for your prayers!

Kevin will be having his 6-month angiogram later this month. This will be a big event…not because the procedure is anything terribly risky, but because the doctors will be looking to see if the anatomy of the clipped aneurysm is stable or not.

Please pray for an overwhelmingly positive report as a result of this angiogram. In addition, please pray that any feelings of anxiousness would be soothed by the mighty and powerful hand of our faithful and compassionate Father.

Kevin’s angiogram was performed this past Friday (10/26) and we are thankful to have received a good report from Dr. Tytle. As of now, Kevin will continue to have the clipped area of his aneurysm monitored every 6 months or so via angiogram with the anticipation of gradually moving angiogram dates further and further apart as long as things continue to remain unchanged.

Mom continues to improve as well. We had Eli’s 2nd birthday party yesterday here in Kingfisher. It was wonderful having everyone together.

Thank you all for your continued prayers!

Well…a bit of a curveball for those of you who have still been checking in for updates…

Kevin had his most recent angiogram about a month ago on 10/26/07. This was a follow-up to an angiogram he had 6 months prior to that one. The local interventional radiologist here at Mercy, Dr. Tytle, compared the results from both angiograms and, although the “shoulder” portion of Kevin’s aneurysm was clearly visible, he was unable to notice a significant change.

However, we went ahead and forwarded the results to Dr. Lawton in San Francisco who reviewed both sets of films with his panel of experts...they were a bit more concerned by what they saw. Evidently, that "shoulder" portion of Kevin's aneurysm that they couldn't clip appears to be growing in size. We had been made aware from the very beginning that this would be a possibility and that it would need to be monitored. Long story short, Dr. Lawton wants Kevin to return to San Francisco to undergo another procedure...hopefully one of a much less-invasive nature…and prayerfully one that will address this stubborn “shoulder” once and for all.

So…off to San Francisco we will go. Kevin will have some testing done on Tuesday, January 29th with the procedure scheduled for Wednesday, January 30th. We will probably fly out on Monday, January 28th anticipating that we will be gone for around 5-7 days. Please continue to keep Kevin & Amanda…and the entire family in your prayers.

Kevin and Amanda had mentioned to me a while back that they would like to take some pictures…we originally scheduled to give it a go this past Saturday, but the weather was horrendous. So, they drove up to Kingfisher just this past Monday and met me here at the bank. Being that it’s December, not only was it a bit chilly…but we were dealing with the fact that the sun sets at about 5:30…so we had to get our grove on.

Anyway…here is a sampling of what we got. Now, I know what you’re going to say…but you have to realize that the photographer can only be as good as his subject/s allow! C’mon…I mean, if I had ANY sort of material to work with here, these pictures would’ve had a lot of potential… ;)

1-28-08…7:37pm Pacific Time
Just a quick note to let everyone know that we made it to San Francisco in one piece. Our flights were all on time…got in around 2:40pm PST and made our way from Oakland (where our flight landed) through some pretty nasty traffic. Took close to an hour to get to our hotel…a trip that even the cab driver said should normally take about 35 minutes or so.

Kevin has to check in tomorrow at 9:30am for tests. We’re not really sure what “tests” they’ll be running, but it won’t be an all-day process. I know we’ll be meeting to consult with Lisa Hannegan (Dr. Lawton’s Nurse Practitioner) and possibly even Dr. Lawton himself.

We do know that the angiogram is set for Wednesday, but the time won’t be determined until tomorrow. Of course, we are all prayerful that the procedure they have planned via the angiogram will be a triumphant success…we believe that it will be.

I will post more information as soon as it becomes available.

1-29-08…12:21pm PST
We’re pretty sure that Kevin’s angiogram is scheduled for 8am PST tomorrow morning…but won’t find out for sure until his 2pm appointment today. If this is the case, Kevin will more than likely have to check in around 6:30am.

His “tests” this morning were pretty uneventful…basically just drew some blood and filled out some paperwork in the event Friday’s surgery becomes necessary. He and Amanda did meet with the anesthesiologist for a few minutes, but it was an otherwise uneventful morning.

I’m headed out with my camera for some photo-therapy. I’ll continue to post updates as they become available.

1-29-08…8:34pm PST
Kevin’s “procedure” is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:30am PST. It will consist of 3 phases and the entire process will last anywhere from 4-6 hours.

Phase 1 is to simply do a new angiogram so that the doctor can get a fresh set of “images” to work from. This will give them 4 post-operative angiogram films. They have indicated that this part of the procedure will last from 45 minutes to one hour.

Phase 2 consists of inserting a balloon (angioplasty) into the P-1 Segment of Kevin’s basilar tip (this is where his aneurysm is) and inflating it to cut off the flow of blood. Kevin will be awake during this process so that they can see how this affects him neurologically. The doctor indicated today that roughly 20% of the time when they block off the blood supply at this location, it affects the vision of one eye. He said that he plans to literally have Kevin read something while the balloon is inflated to see if his vision is affected. If it is not, he will leave the balloon for up to an hour to see if he experiences any other neuro-deficits as a result of blocking the blood supply to this area. If there are none, the doctor will proceed to Phase 3. If his vision is affected, or if he experiences any other significant neuro-deficits, we will move to Plan B which I will discuss in a moment. Phase 2 is estimated to last 1 hour.

Phase 3 consists of actually “coiling” this P-1 Segment. “Coiling” is a procedure used quite often when dealing with aneurysms that involves placing tiny coils or “springs” into the affected area that serve to block the flow of blood. This phase will last anywhere from 2-4 hours.

If the doctor doesn’t like what he sees during Phase 2, he will stop the procedure at that time. Dr. Lawton, Kevin’s neurosurgeon, has already scheduled Kevin for a craniotomy this Friday morning at which time he will perform a vascular by-pass of the P-1 Segment. Though we have complete faith in Dr. Lawton and the entire staff here at UCSF, our prayer is that we don’t have to utilize Plan B simply due to the invasive nature of another craniotomy and subsequent prolonged recovery.

Best-case scenario is that Kevin’s aneurysm is “coil-able”…and even with a successful coiling, he’s looking at a 5-7 day hospital stay.

Kevin’s spirits are remarkably high…those of you who know him well will not be surprised to learn that he had his interventional radiologist and his nurse practitioner laughing pretty good at his 2pm meeting today. That being said, I would ask those of you who are praying for us to include the following 2 requests…

1. For a “peace that passes all understanding” to envelope both Kevin & Amanda…especially these next couple of days.
2. That tomorrow’s attempt to coil Kevin’s aneurysm would be a resounding success.

Thank you all for your prayers. We’re feeling them loud and clear.

1-30-08…12:16pm PST
Kevin still hasn’t been called back for his angiogram…so we’re just hanging out in the waiting room. They’re not letting him eat or drink prior to the procedure, so I’m sure he’s going to start getting cranky here before too long.

I’ll let you all know once they do actually take him back.

Those of you looking for a quicker way to access the most recent updates posted to this blog can bookmark the following link:

1-30-08…12:48pm PST
They just took Kevin back…so I would anticipate we can consider 1:00pm the official “start” time. Remember, the initial angiogram will last around 45 minutes to an hour during which time they will simply be looking to take a fresh set of pictures. They are just right down the hall and have already told us that they will pop out and give us updates as the procedure/s progress.

1-30-08…2:09pm PST
No update on the angiogram just yet…just wanted to post this picture of Kevin I took w/ my phone right before he went back. He was pretty put out with his hospital attire…he thought they looked like “biker pants”…I said they looked more like “clam diggers” to me. Hey, we can all use a little levity on a day like today!

1-30-08…2:29pm PST
Nurse just stepped out to let us know that everything is going fine. They haven’t yet finished the initial angiogram which mean’s they’re still in Phase 1 of the procedure.

1-30-08…3:48pm PST
Dr. Van Halbach, Kevin’s interventional radiologist just came back to visit with us. Kevin is doing just fine, but they’re having to adjust their game plan just a bit. When reviewing the films from today’s angiogram, they noticed a clot sitting inside Kevin’s aneurysm. He explained that the clot itself really isn’t all that big of a deal…that it’s probably been there for quite a while and therefore isn’t going anywhere. However, he said that in order to use the balloon to block off blood flow to that 1 segment of the basilar artery, he would have to maneuver the balloon beyond the clot before inflating it and didn’t want to risk dislodging it which would then cause a stroke.

Therefore, in order to assess the viability of coiling the aneurysm, they are going to have to go a different route. To do this, they plan on putting Kevin to sleep and using the same balloon to block off the flow of blood to BOTH segments of the basilar artery. Once this has been done, dye would be injected into one of the “other” vessels that feeds blood to the brain (he named the artery and I think he said something about the “something cerebral artery,” but I don’t remember for sure), and watch to see if this route served to adequately “backfill” into the affected segment of the basilar artery. I promise, it’s much easier to understand when the doctor is sitting in front of you drawing pictures.

He said that in instances where people have had arteries “blocked,” be it by aneurysm, birth defect, etc., the younger the patient, the better their brain is at compensating for the blockage. He said that a 70-year old in Kevin’s situation would stand little chance of recovering vision in their affected eye as a result of coiling the area in question…whereas a 10-year old ALWAYS recovers. He also indicated that in searching for “feeder vessels” stemming from Kevin’s affected area, he was unable to find any. Though this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any (some can be as narrow as a human hair), this is really good news because any coiling or bypass of this area would also serve to block the flow of blood to any of the subsequent feeder vessels, thereby cutting off the flow of oxygenated blood to the areas of the brain that they feed.

Dr. Halbach went on to explain that not only did he not see any feeder vessels stemming from the affected area of Kevin’s P-1 Segment, but he WAS able to see several feeder vessels including several “crossover feeder vessels” from the OPPOSITE & VERY HEALTHY Segment of Kevin’s basilar artery! A “crossover feeder vessel” is a feeder vessel that serves the purpose of supplying blood to the opposite side of the anatomy it would otherwise normally service. Dr. Van Halbach went on to explain that, in theory, this means that Kevin’s aneurysm has more than likely been around for quite some time…years, in fact. Vessels that experience a slow-growing aneurysm actually choke off their own feeder vessels as the aneurysm grows…and, if the “victim” is young enough, they will actually grow these “crossover” vessels in order to compensate for the ones being choked off. This is not a guarantee of smooth sailing from here, but it sure is a welcome indicator!

Another comment made by Dr. Halbach during our 15 minute conversation that really made us smile was that there is no doubt that “Kevin is in THE BEST X-ray room in the entire country.”

So, we’re looking at another 1.5 hours or more from the time I started writing this until we will have another update. He indicated that this procedure would last upwards of 2 hours. Dr. Lawton is back there with them and has been throughout most of the procedure. Once they’ve run this next test, both doctors will put their heads together to come up with the most appropriate next step.

1-30-08…6:34pm PST
Dr. Lawton just popped back to let us know that they had experienced a software glitch and that the big computer they use to map/view the arteries & vessels in the brain (3-month old technology) had crashed on them…but not to worry, they had it back up and running (makes me wonder if it was as simple as “Ctrl+Alt+Delete”???)…but that was the reason for the delay. So…they are still working on the “balloon occlusion test” to see if Kevin is a candidate for the coiling procedure.

1-30-08…7:31pm PST
Woohoo!!! God is GOOD!!! Need I say more?

So…Dr. Halbach just visited with us and recapped everything that they had done today. He also talked a bit more about their equipment malfunction and explained that it was one of their 2 cameras or “tubes” that had completely died on them…and that it was still either acting up or completely out of commission.

Anyway, he said he was able to get good pictures from the balloon occlusion test and that he was pleased/satisfied with the amount of blood flow that was reaching Kevin’s aneurysm from the opposite direction. He also said that he and Dr. Lawton had reviewed Kevin’s angiogram films from earlier today and did notice a slight change when comparing them with the angiogram films from 10/7/07…further reinforcing the conclusion to go ahead and take action now as opposed to a more “wait & see” approach.

Originally, the plan was to go right back in and proceed with the coiling. However, because of the issues with his equipment, Dr. Halbach has elected to wait until the camera has been serviced before performing the coiling procedure. He likened it to a race car driver whose 8 cylinder car is down to 4 cylinders. Amanda and I had actually contemplated this scenario prior to hearing this most recent update and agreed that we’d much rather wait until the equipment had been checked out…even if that meant delaying the procedure by a day or two. He did say that if the technicians were able to both fix the equipment AND promise him that this glitch would not happen again, he could potentially do the coiling as early as tomorrow afternoon.

I’m sure that once Kevin comes to, he’s going to be a bit disappointed that it’s not “over with.” However, knowing that he will not have to have a 2nd craniotomy should help soften that blow.

The only potential concern at this point (other than the obvious coiling procedure that is still very much a big deal…sometimes relativity can lure you into a false sense of security, but that’s a topic for another post…) is that even though Dr. Halbach could not see any perforators (that’s the medical term for what I’ve been calling “feeder vessels”) stemming from Kevin’s aneurysm, and even though he was able to see quite a few “crossover perforators,” he can not say for sure that there are absolutely ZERO perforators that originate from the aneurysm. And by coiling this area and cutting off the flow of blood to the aneurysm, you also cut off the flow of blood to any subsequent perforators, thereby blocking the flow of oxygenated blood to the area/s of the brain that they may feed. This goes back to what I discussed in today’s 3:48pm post regarding potentially affecting the vision in one of Kevin’s eyes.

So…as an updated list of prayer requests…
1. Pray that the equipment would be fixed ASAP and that the procedure would not be delayed beyond the end of this week.
2. Pray that Kevin would come out of his anesthesia without complication.
3. Pray that Kevin will not experience any neurological deficits as a result of the coiling (vision, etc.).
4. Pray that the doctors would feel very pleased and confident with the results of the procedure.
5. Pray for a continued peace for Kevin & the rest of us as we continue to wait for the coiling procedure.

1-30-08…10:13pm PST
Kevin’s awake and coming around quite nicely. Actually, Amanda & I were down in the cafeteria waiting on Kevin to come to in the recovery area when I get a call on my cell phone…

Caller: “Mr. Johnson? This is Nurse So-And-So with UCSF Hospital…are you Kevin Johnson’s brother?”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
Caller: “OK…one second please.”
Kevin: (A bit groggy) “Yo…where you at?”
Me: “Hey! We’re down in the cafeteria…they kicked us out while you were coming to. Feeling OK? Where are you?”
Kevin “Yeah…I’m good. I’m...hey dude, where am I? (Talking in the background) I’m on the 4th floor…recovery room.”
Me: “OK…we’ll be right there!”

Anyway, we make our way up to the recovery room where Kevin immediately asks us what ended up happening. Amanda got to break the good news to him about not having to have the craniotomy…that was pretty neat. She then explained that they weren’t able to do the coiling tonight b/c of the technical issues…that wasn’t so neat. So, after the initial shock of realizing that things weren’t quite “finished,” Kevin started feeling pretty good and was anxious to get some food. We’d talked about eating Panda Express tonight as our victory dinner…only problem is they close at 8pm and it was already 8:30pm. When we told Kevin, his eyes about popped out…he said he thought it was only like 3pm!!! Kind of funny. Anyway, knowing he was pretty hungry (no food since dinner last night), and knowing that they probably weren’t going to let him eat tomorrow with a chance of doing the coiling tomorrow afternoon, I offered to go grab some pizza over at a place by our hotel called North Shore Pizza. He was quick to accept the offer.

So…after delivering the pizza, I told Amanda that I’d just hang out in the cafeteria until they kicked me out or until she was ready to head back to the hotel. I’ll be taking the night shift…more so out of the desire to provide company vs. out of necessity like last year, which is a very welcome adjustment.

One particular hurdle we’re faced with this evening is that the hospital is completely full and they don’t currently have a room for Kevin. So…we might be spending the night in the recovery area. Shoot, I’d be just fine spending the night in Golden Gate Park after the good news we got today!

1-31-08...11:25pm PST
Posted by Amanda
Thank you all for your phone calls, texts, and most importantly prayers! God is good! We have seen all the doctors this morning that are involved in Kevin's case. It is amazing how something that seemed like a setback yesterday was actually a blessing in disguise. Dr. Halbach said that the computer crashing yesterday actually gave them more time to review and assess Kevin's images and make a better game plan. He is scheduled for first thing in the morning to do the coiling procedure and it should take approximately 3 hours. He will then stay in the ICU for about 3 nights and then be moved to a step down unit.

A few minutes ago Dr. Lawton and his NP Lisa Hannegan came in. It was Kevin's first opportunity to really meet the surgeon who worked on him last January. It was a pretty emotional exchange of thankfulness. The highlight however was when Kevin asked Dr. Lawton if he could run a marathon (something Kevin has always wanted to do). Dr Lawton responded, "I have no problem with that. Once this is done you’re going to be as good as new."

Kevin is doing great. We stayed in the recovery room until midnight last night. After a couple rounds of tossing his cookies he is excited to get his first meal in nearly 2 days. And those of you who know him best might guess...Panda Express. He is resting now. Really the only pain is a headache that he says "I can tell they worked in there."

2-1-08…11:41am PST
Kevin’s nurse just popped in to let us know that Kevin is definitely on the schedule for 1pm. We were told earlier this morning that everything was contingent on finding an anesthesiologist, as all scheduling to this point had pretty much been “in pencil” based on the fact that they were still waiting on the equipment to be fixed.

They should be coming to take Kevin down to the 3rd floor (we’re on the 12th floor at the moment) between 12:00pm and 12:30pm.

After surgery, Kevin will be taken to the Neuro-ICU for at least 2-3 nights. We are very pleased with this decision as it means #1- Kevin will have a private room, and #2- Kevin will have a highly trained and specialized nurse dedicated to watching him around the clock…most of whom we already know from our previous trip to UCSF.

I’ll keep you posted as more updates become available.

2-1-08…12:48pm PST
They took Kevin down to the radiology department (where the procedure will be done) right at 12:30. Amanda walked down with him and actually went into the operating room with him while they were setting up. She did get to visit with the same nurse who was giving us updates during Wednesday’s angiogram and subsequent procedures and asked if he would be coming out to give us updates today as well. He indicated that he would probably be needed in the room throughout the procedure but figured someone would be giving us updates. He also alluded to the fact that 3 hours would probably be a “good start” for getting Kevin’s procedure underway…that it was complicated & involved enough that he anticipated it would take longer than the 3 hours that had been estimated yesterday.

We do know that Kevin will be surrounded by excellent doctors throughout today’s operation…at least 4 top-notch Interventional Radiologists are scheduled to be involved in the procedure.

As we are given updates I will add them to the blog.

Thanks for the continued prayers!!!! We’re almost there!!!!

2-1-08…3:59pm PST
Still no word from the OR. Amanda and I are just doing our best to remain distracted. Thank goodness for wireless internet here at UCSF…a new addition since our initial trip one year ago.

2-1-08…5:40pm PST
(Posted by Jeff's wife, Amy)
Jeff just called...The procedure went very well, and the doctors seem pleased with how Kevin's doing. More details to come, but we are PRAISING GOD for His goodness and mercy!

2-1-08…5:59pm PST
OK…so most everyone knows by now that the surgery was a smashing success. In our post-operative debriefing with Drs. Halbach & English (just two of the 4+ doctors working this case), they used phrases like “we accomplished exactly what we set out to accomplish,” “the whole procedure went very well” and “this should be considered a permanent fix”…talk about music to our ears!!!

Both doctors took their time explaining to us the nuances of just exactly what they were able to accomplish through both words and pictures…most of which seems like a blur to us both. They did indicate, once again, that the wait brought about by the malfunctioning equipment on Wednesday served us well as they were able to identify and avoid several other perforators feeding key areas of Kevin’s brain and brain stem. This is completely out of order, but while I’m talking about the delay associated with the malfunctioning technology…I have no idea if this has been mentioned yet or not, so forgive me if I’m repeating myself…yesterday the doctors mentioned that the delay ended up being a good thing because it allowed them more time to put their heads together and devise a more thorough game plan that included a completely DIFFERENT approach for accessing Kevin’s aneurysm. And I’m not using the word “approach” figuratively…I literally mean they took a different route (different artery) to access Kevin’s aneurysm which then allowed them to identify/avoid these new perforators during today’s surgery. Wow!

OK…I digress…

The two most important questions I wanted to ask were…
#1- Do you guys feel good about what you were able to accomplish? Answer: Yes…we were able to accomplish exactly what we set out to accomplish.
#2- Is what you were able to accomplish something we can consider to be a permanent fix? Answer: Yes…this should be considered a permanent fix.

At this point, the potential concerns that keep us from officially saying that we’re “out of the woods” are as follows…

Potential Concern #1- As I mentioned yesterday, anytime you coil a portion of an artery that runs through the brain, you end up cutting off the flow of blood to any of the subsequent perforator or “feeder” vessels associated with that area, thereby cutting off the flow of oxygenated blood to the areas of the brain those perforators “feed.” And even though the doctors were unable to visualize any perforators stemming from the diseased segment of Kevin’s basilar tip (not to mention the fact that they WERE able to see quite a few “crossover perforators” originating from the healthy segment of Kevin’s basilar tip), they can not say with certainty that there are ZERO perforators that originate from the diseased portion. They did indicate, however, that in most cases, any neurological deficits associated with a coiling procedure are evident within the first minute or two of the patient coming out of anesthesia. When the doctors spoke with us, Kevin had been awake for about 15-20 minutes and had passed all of the neurological tests (what’s your name, where are you, why are you here, move your fingers, move your toes, etc.) they had put him through to that point. They will continue to monitor Kevin for any potential neuro-deficits over the next couple of days.

Potential Concern #2- The other reason they are keeping Kevin in the ICU for the next few days is because of the need to keep his blood pressure elevated as well as the need to keep Kevin on blood thinners. This isn’t so much a concern…probably more of a prayer request that the medication does its job without any negative side effects. Dr. Halbach highly encouraged Kevin to enjoy the Super Bowl on Sunday from the confines of his room in the ICU as it is known to help increase a person’s blood pressure…ha!

It is now 6:45pm…we just got a call that we can head up to see Kevin in the recovery unit, so off we go. Again, how does a guy thank so many people for lifting his little brother up in prayer? Seriously, you guys have been absolute warriors for the Johnson Family these past 13 months…and we will be forever grateful for each and every one of you all!

As a powerful reminder as to what it is we’ve been dealing with, I’m going to post the 3D images of Kevin’s aneurysm that were taken back on January 1, 2007…a visual representation of what it is we’ve been battling for the past 13 months. These are images that I’ve had in my possession since before traveling to San Francisco more than a year ago, but for obvious reasons have never felt comfortable posting until this time. As has been mentioned in previous posts, this monster of an aneurysm has been growing for many years…and as it turns out, that in and of itself is a blessing (see the post dated “1-30-08…3:48pm PST” for further explanation). You can really see the “shoulder” that we’ve been referring to for so long in the 2nd and 5th images. I also hope that you will allegorically view this as an “in the flesh” example of God’s ability to conquer the unconquerable…through His grace, mercy, faithfulness and power. God bless you all!!!

The following picture is NOT of Kevin’s brain…rather just a picture I found on the internet of what a “healthy” basilar tip should look like.

Again, this is NOT a picture of Kevin, but it illustrates how an aneurysm looks BEFORE being coiled (full of blood), and AFTER being coiled (no blood).

Still not Kevin, but this picture illustrates the extremely deep and therefore difficult LOCATION of the basilar tip…where Kevin’s aneurysm WAS located. Man, it feels good to be able to say that!

These last 2 illustrations show how a clip is used to address an aneurysm. This is the technique Dr. Lawton used to address Kevin’s aneurysm back on January 8, 2007. Kevin’s was so large that it required 4 clips to seal off the bulk of his “giant” aneurysm.

2-1-08…9:00pm PST
Kevin is doing GREAT! He is totally cracking up all of his nurses and thoroughly enjoying the good news. You can literally see and feel the weight lifted from both his and Amanda’s shoulders.

The only bummer for this evening is that the hospital is full and Kevin & I will be spending the night in the UCSF recovery room…along with about 20 or so other patients/nurses/etc. Small price to pay…

Love you all!

2-2-08…12:15pm PST
(Posted by Amy upon request from Amanda)

Amanda emailed, and wanted to give everyone an update on Kevin's status. In her words, "He's doing GREAT!" Here's a brief status report that Amanda emailed:

Dr. English came in and did a neuro exam....His words, "It would be hard to be more pleased."

Then one of Dr. Lawton's counterparts came in as well...His words, "This couldn't be going better."

The plan is to get Kevin into a Neuro-ICU bed today. They will start easing off of the meds that raise his blood pressure and plan to get him off by the end of today. Tomorrow they will start taking him off the blood thinner.

Mid-week is the expected date of departure. Even more exciting...either tomorrow night or Monday he can SHOWER! : )

Kevin & Amanda, we just can't wait to get you home so we can CELEBRATE with you!!! More to come later from Jeff and/or Amanda...

2-2-08…9:39pm PST
We are officially in the Neuro-ICU and couldn’t be happier. What this means is that we have our own room, our own nurse, and plenty of room to “spread out.” For those of you who don’t remember, the “Neuro-ICU” is the “Neurological Intensive Care Unit”…quite literally an ICU specifically for the brain. All of the nurses have specialized training in dealing with & treating brain-related medical issues. It would be a major understatement to say that the entire staff of nurses here at the Neuro-ICU is “on top of it.” This was really the primary reason we chose to come to UCSF in the first place way back in January of ’07…Dr. Tytle commented on several occasions how the level of treatment at UCSF from top to bottom was second to none. He was absolutely correct.

We’ve had a good time chatting up our nurse this evening. Her name is Karen and she’s from Inverness, Scotland…she’s “Scaw-ischhhhh!” The on-call neurosurgical resident just popped in as well…he was here last year. He saw my OSU pullover and got pretty excited. He went to Bartlesville HS and graduated from OU, so we enjoyed a quick visit with him as well.

When I got up to his room here in the N-ICU this evening, Drs. Dowd and English were in Kevin’s room just chatting up a storm…asking if we’d heard if OSU had beaten T-Tech this evening (we didn’t…of course) and also letting us know that Eddie Sutton had picked up his 800th win. Dr. Dowd is an especially big sports fan and he and my dad had really hit if off last year. In fact, that was the first thing he asked me about when we saw him on Wednesday was, “Hey…how’s your dad?” Our nurse last night in the recovery area, Nancy, had been one of Kevin’s nurses last year in the N-ICU…she also commented to Kevin about having such a “doting” wife and father. I said, “Hey…what about the doting big brother?” She was obviously a day-shift nurse and never met the night-shift big brother…;)

Kevin and Amanda are watching another episode of the first season of “24.” They bought it at Amoeba Music this past Tuesday. For those that have never been to/heard of Amoeba Music…it’s quite the trip.
For those interested in seeing some pictures of the Amoeba Music on Haight St. in San Francisco, you can click here.
My visit with Karen has put me in the mood to watch a little Braveheart…and speak with an annoyingly strong Scottish brogue all night long… “All Things Scaw-ischhhh…if it’s not Scaw-ischhhh, it’s CRAP!

2-4-08…8:43am PST
Great news! Kevin’s team of Interventional Radiologists just came by and told Kevin that, because he is doing so well, he doesn’t have to have an angiogram today! They also said that they were moving him out of ICU to the “step-down” unit…and that he would be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday! That means we get to fly home on Wednesday!!! Woohoo!

2-4-08…11:08am PST
So…it just keeps getting better…we’re now actually being discharged TODAY…as is RIGHT NOW!!! Amy has secured plane tickets for us that leave tomorrow morning from San Francisco (not Oakland…thank the Lord) at 8am and get us back to OKC by 4pm.

2-4-08…5:19pm PST
OK, so maybe it’s not THAT good. There were apparently some mixed signals between the neurosurgeons and the interventional radiologists…we were originally told by the IR’s that we wouldn’t be leaving until tomorrow (see the post dated 2-4-08…8:43am PST). Well, then a couple of hours later, we learned that Dr. Richardson (a neurosurgical resident with whom we worked extensively last year) had called and ordered an immediate discharge. We didn’t even think to ask questions…we just got on the phone and started making arrangements! We booked our non-refundable plane tickets, cancelled our hotel arrangements for Tuesday night, etc. Discharge papers were filled out and signed, we met with the pharmacist to go over medications, and we packed up all of our belongings just waiting for the proverbial green light.

Well, an hour or so later one of the IR’s came back into the room and started apologizing for the confusion…that we WERE in fact going to be staying the night and discharging tomorrow. I filled him in on our predicament…that not only had we purchased non-refundable airline tickets, but that if we didn’t fly out tomorrow…tickets for the rest of the week were 3x as expensive!

After consulting with the rest of his crew, the IR decided that he wanted to keep Kevin for a bit longer…potentially overnight…so as to give him time to be up and around on his feet while he was still in the hospital. I can’t say that I blame them…just from a CYA perspective.

They did get Kevin moved out of the ICU and into a regular private room on the 8th floor. We still don’t know if he will be required to stay the night…but we have been told that either way, they will let him leave early enough so that we can catch our 8am flight.

2-4-08…6:43pm PST
Kevin’s out! We just made it to the hotel and plan on CRASHING. Our cab picks us up at 6am tomorrow morning…don’t think any of us will have trouble sleeping tonight!

2-5-08…10:48pm CST
We made it! No problems at all with getting home other than just being completely worn out and tired.

For those interested in checking out a few of the San Francisco pictures I took this last time around, you can click here.
Just keep in mind that it was raining about 90% of the time that we were out there and I wasn’t really in the mood to test my camera’s “water tight” rubber gaskets.

4-6-08…2:30pm - Posted by Kevin Johnson
Wow, where do I start? Well I do know that I am so thankful that this is hopefully the end of this whole ordeal. This has been the most incredible ride of my life, and I have had some pretty wild things take place before. It is really hard to believe that I am sitting here writing the closing part to this whole adventure that is now hopefully over.

There was a time during this process when I didn't know if I would ever get to this point in my life. I didn't know if I would get here mentally and be able to look back on what has happened or physically and be able to be alive and able to even look back. There was a time when I didn't have much hope.

One of the crazy things about all of this is that I now feel like I can relate to a person who is hurting and doesn't have much hope. It is beyond my comprehension how God works, but thankfully He does it to bring glory to Himself. While that has been hard to understand, I know it's true and choose to believe it, even when I don't feel like it or want to.

I could go on for days about how I feel and what I have learned but I really just want to wrap this up and move on. I owe a huge thanks to everyone who prayed for me and my family and who kept up with this blog. My brother said that in the first 3 weeks over 88,000 different computers hit the site. That is amazing because it shows me how cool God works. I am not saying anything about me, but how neat that is because my family shared their faith and different verses and a ton of people were witnessed to thru that.

Choose to keep on rockin!!! God is good all the time!!!

-KJ, Kevin, Coach Johnson, Sir, Mr., Pimp, Hey you, Honey

Thought you all might enjoy knowing that Kevin is running the ½ marathon at this Sunday’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. I find that to be just about one of the most incredible feats I will ever have the pleasure of witnessing…assuming he makes it the entire 13.1 miles. ;) Those of you who know my brother will appreciate just how ridiculous that last statement really is.

Kevin finished the Oklahoma City Memorial ½ Marathon in 2:10…that’s the unofficial time. His official time was probably closer to a flat 2 hours. It was a pretty awesome experience watching him do this. You can click here to see the gallery of all pictures from the marathon.

Wow…you have no idea how good it feels to not have even THOUGHT about this blog for several months now. I did, however, want to jump on here and update everyone on Kevin’s most recent angiogram that was conducted about 2 months ago. Long story short, this was Kevin’s 6-month follow-up from his most recent procedure that was performed at the end of January out in San Francisco. The doctors couldn’t have been happier! They said the aneurysm appears to be completely gone…and not to worry about doing another angiogram for another 2 years. This is HUGE because we were originally told that Kevin would need to have follow-up angiograms every 6 months for basically the rest of his life.

For those of us who have ever doubted the power of prayer…game-set-match-point.

Just a quick update to let everyone know that Kevin & Amanda are pregnant!!! I'm thinking the due date is sometime in April of 2010.
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Times  Free Press...8-22-07
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