There is much to pass on to Peter’s brothers and sisters in the Lord who have been praying for him these past two years. We need your prayers now more than ever.
We have received three rather bleak pieces of information in the past two or three weeks, since Peter returned home from Baylor.
1. The update on his surgery—We consulted with the specialists in Boston and in Cincinnati regarding the reconstruction to repair his trachea upon learning that the original trach tube was placed in the wrong position. One of the specialists told us he would not recommend surgery for Peter right now, because the recovering patient must be somewhat participatory in this very painful and extended series of surgeries. Since Peter is still not able to respond consistently to commands, and since he still has no effective means of communication with us, he said the chances of success would not be high enough. The other specialist motioned us forward, but was unclear about the effects of the surgery on Peter’s overall condition. So the two specialists disagreed. At this point, we are still praying about the decision, but do not want to rush ahead. We plan to talk more with the specialist who feels comfortable doing the surgery.
2. The report from the rehab doctors at Baylor—The doctors were very encouraging to our family. They said they’d never seen a family do better at giving their loved one a chance to recover from brain injury. They said that the four to six hours of therapy a day that we had faithfully given him since his accident had provided his brain every opportunity for stimulation. (We of course told them that Peter had quite a large team backing him that made this possible).
But they also said, that given the two years out from the injury, with as little progress as Pete has made so far meant that, statistically, he would probably not come to the point of ever being ready for formal rehabilitation. This was hard to hear. (To explain further, Peter’s condition is termed “minimally conscious.” This means he is not comatose, not vegetative, but occasionally alert and responsive to commands, visual and auditory stimuli. A minimally conscious person must progress from a Rancho level 3 to level 4 to qualify for rehab programs. Level 4 means the person responds consistently to verbal commands. Though Peter has increased the variety of responses he gives over the months, he has never come to daily consistency. There have been times we felt that he was so close and almost ready, but then he takes dips and is unresponsive for several days).
The doctors encouraged us not to give up on Peter, because minimally conscious people can still
“wake up” just like people in comas and make a good recovery, but the chances, humanly speaking, are much smaller now, less than 10%. They told us we needed to pace ourselves, not wearing ourselves out, because Peter may need us for the long haul. They suggested we cut back on his therapy to give him enough for a door to walk through if the Lord so chooses to wake him up, but little enough to keep us long term healthy and available to him.
3. Peter’s long term health care—Another jarring note hit our ears this week when we were told that the source of funding for which Peter receives nursing and his doctors’ care will come to an end when he turns 21. Peter turned 20 last week. Since the benefits he has received are for children, once Peter turns 21 next year, as an adult, his benefits will be drastically cut, eliminated, and compromised, making the nursing care he receives in our home virtually unavailable. Other medical care he receives would then be unavailable to him. We have no more private insurance available for this.
To give you an example of how this works, since Peter has a trach, someone has to be up with him all night long. The manpower it takes to care for him all night long, and then to care for his nursing and therapy needs during the day rings up to enough work for about four or five full time people.
Well, lesson number one is: we are and have always been wholly dependent on the Lord during this journey with Peter from A to Z. Here is more to trust Him with.
Second, we pray that the church universal can respond, not only to Peter’s need, but to that of many people throughout the country just like him. We would like to be a catalyst to help Christians become aware of the healthcare needs that will become alarming crises very shortly given our current healthcare system. Our sanctity of life ethic is at stake.
Three, we ask you to pray for sustaining grace during this walk with Peter. We will need it every day. In John 9, during the story of the man blind from birth, the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, who sinned, this man or his parents?” Jesus answered, “Neither, but this happened that the work of God might be displayed.” For that man’s life, God’s work was to glorify Himself by healing the man.
In the apostle Paul’s life, the work of God displayed was to show the sufficiency of His grace for Paul as the Lord refused to take away Paul’s thorn in the flesh. His power was made perfect in weakness. Pray for Peter and the Helms family that the Lord would do a work of sustaining grace in our lives to keep us joyful on our journey with Pete, thereby glorifying Himself that way. He is worthy of our bearing this trial. We still would gladly receive it if the Lord chose to glorify Himself by Pete’s healing.
Finally, it’s a comfort to know that Peter himself, when he could talk and think, eagerly desired to be active in the prolife cause. As a mom, I always desired usefulness for the kingdom in my children. Perhaps the Lord will make Peter’s life very useful in the cause of Christ and in the cause for the sanctity of life. That is my ultimate desire: his usefulness to Christ.
Our son Caleb just recently took a group of guys from his church to play paintball at a course operating south of Dallas. While there, they struck up a friendly conversation with the operator of the course. The young man thought that Caleb looked familiar. As they talked, the puzzle pieces fell together and the young man said, “Oh, I know your brother Peter. Our family still prays for him.”
A few days later, Doug and I had a date night out. Doug wanted to see a documentary and we had to travel to a neighboring community to find a theater that carried it. When we walked into the theater screen room, a couple motioned us up to sit beside them. They were old friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. They were with two other couples from their church that, according to them, are still praying for Peter.
Then, Saturday, I had a chance to slip away and do some shopping (on tax-free day) at a local department store. A woman stepped in front of me and said, “Selah?” She also was a long-time acquaintance I hadn’t seen in years. We visited for a moment and she asked about Peter. She reminded me that her church still prays for Peter, then she ended up volunteering to come help once a week with Peter’s exercise sessions on the mat. We had just lost our Monday mat crew, and she and her husband happened to have Mondays off, a perfect fit—a providential fit.
So we testify, that in the heaviness of this journey with Peter and as we learn to walk each day by faith, the Lord continues to send His encouragement, His comfort, His provision, and His people.