Archive for the ‘Germany and the Ketamine Coma Protocol’ Category

A Happy & Healthy New Year!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Hello to all!

Matthew sends warmest wishes to all for a New Year filled with good health, peace, happiness and love.

So much has happened to Matthew this past year. He has been inspired knowing that so many beautiful people came to his aid when he was in very critical condition.

Following is where he is at today.

Thanks to all of you, Matthew’s daily quality of life has greatly improved since going to Germany.

The RSD battle continues along with other health issues caused by the RSD. There remain multiple challenges and frustrations. Some days he makes progress in one area only to endure a setback in another area. Matthew’s faith and personal determination continue to strengthen him in his efforts.

Matthew’s current medical treatment options are limited. Each one comes with its own high level of serious risks to him. He remembers only too well how his life was prior to receiving the ketamine coma. To have surgery that could exacerbate his RSD is not an option. (His doctors certainly understand his position.) We remain hopeful that a new, viable treatment option will come soon.

With your continued prayers and support, Matthew believes in his heart that he will eventually be able to do so much more in and with his life. – Thank you for devoting so much of your valuable time, efforts and resources to help him battle this monster of RSD.

We wanted you to know that our hearts are full of appreciation and that we will never forget the incredibly instrumental part that you played in helping to save our son, Matthew. The love and support that you gave us during this most difficult journey in our lives will remain in our hearts forever. Throughout this most incredible past year we have rekindled beautiful friendships, strengthened the bonds of current ones and made so many new ones for which we will always cherrish. We pray that these bonds of friendship will continue throughout our lifetime.

May God bless you all, always.

On these cold winter nights we pray that it brings warmth to your hearts to know that you have truly made an incredible and unforgettable difference in Matthew’s life.

Love to all,

The Irving Family     

An Update at Last

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Hello to all,

We are home at last but not for long.  I would first like to say that with all of my heart I truly thank you for the incredible volume of continuous emails of support.  That has been an incredible gift to us and is never taken for granted.  This has been the most incredible journey, filled with so many ups and downs, and so many different emotions.  This evening, for the first time since the days before we left Germany to come home, that I have had the chance to check my emails.  I have over two hundred new emails to open.  After a couple of hours of reading emails, I realized that it is getting so late, that I better get to the blog, and as it works out, I will, some at a time, read and share with Matthew all of your emails.  They will bring him so much joy.  It will take me a while, but I will be happy to respond to your emails.  Please do not feel that I do not want to , especially those of you have shared your own heart-breaking stories with us (and there has truly been so many of these kinds of emails, our hearts and prayers go out to each and every one of you).   

Matthew was discharged from the hospital in Philadelphia at the end of last week, after eighteen long days and nights.  We are beyond exhausted, drained, and so very incredibly run down.  Upon heading to Philadelphia for Matthew’s admission, I was unable to take a laptop with me.  It really gets to be quite a circus act with me trying to push Matthew and pull a piece of luggage, especially when I can hardly even walk myself.  So I was not able to read or respond to any emails.  While we were in the hospital, I would call home to Daniel to type the blog for me, (that is never a quick thing to do with me) but then it got to the point that his schedule was so demanding, and this semester of night after night staying up late studying, I didn’t have the heart to put one more thing on his back.  It was not my intention to just stop updating all of you, but life took over and one day just runs into the next.  In just the few days that we have been home, trying to set up appointments with nurses, labs, surgical suppliers, physical therapy and calling pharmacies, the days have been very hectic.  In placing numerous calls, the first question that I was asked is “How is Matthew doing?” and “What’s going on with the blog?  Why haven’t you written?”  I am so sorry.  It has truly just been dealing with the bare necessities and trying to catch our breath.

Today Matthew received a large envelope of sunshine.  The hotel in Germany had been putting aside any mail that was still coming for Matthew and then forwarded them to us.  It was a pleasant surprise, instead of just the usual bills in the mail.  Matthew truly enjoyed the beautiful cards and letters of encouragement, prayers, and support for him.

Matthew was discharged from the hospital and the doctors were able to treat and stabilize the medical complications he was still enduring as the result of the ketamine coma.  So with the Grace of God, these new issues of tachycardia, hypothyroidism, tremors, and follow up treatment for pulmonary embolism, will resolve over time and with treatment.  Unfortunately, the epidurals, blocks, and infusions that Matthew received in the hospital in Philadelphia were unable to give him any long term relief for the RSD pain he is still enduring.  Matthew is without a doubt, in so many ways, definitely better than before he went to Germany.  Matthew has been freed of the brutal migraines that he was enduring 24/7; the RSD pain in his spine, throat, and hands has incredibly improved; he is able to tolerate sitting up in bed; and certainly enjoys being able to feed himself and eat regular food again.  He remains with a low level of RSD pain throughout his body, however, his feet are still excruciating and he is unable to walk.  Matthew also has a new area of intense and throbbing RSD spreading to his right ankle and his right lower leg, which has Dr. Schwartzman and all of us very worried, as it is critical to try to suppress this new spread of RSD.  Nobody knows better than Matthew how his life was before.  Dr. Schwartzman is sending Matthew to the Hospital of Special Surgeries in New York for further testing and evaluations of his right ankle and lower leg.  Matthew has no mobility of his right ankle at all and is unable to bear any weight on it. It is difficult after receiving so much relief in many ways to be still confined to bed. Hopefully there will be a way to get Matthew relief so as to move past this. It will take a long time to recover from all that he has been through as he is still weak.  So we are awaiting the appointment for New York that will probably be at the end of next week.  I will let you know the result of the visit. After that Dr. Schwartzman has another plan but we are taking one step at a time. Matthew has always been determined, and remains  focused and never willing to give up his hopes and dreams. For now things are just at a slower pace.

Our days continue to have many challenges and obstacles, but with the continued Grace of God, a door will open for Matthew.  May God watch over and bless each and every one of you for all that you have done for us!  Also, we pray for all of you, especially those who are enduring your own terrible battles and struggles with your health.

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

 

It’s Hard to Believe That It is Friday Again

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Hello to all,

At a last minute change in plans, the doctors decided that it would be best for Matthew to try two different other types of blocks.  As usual, Matthew’s trust and faith in Dr. Schwartzman’s guidance came through for Matthew.  This was the first time in five years of countless blocks, epidurals, procedures, ect., done at numerous different hospitals, that there was success in achieving total numbness in Matthew’s right foot and also in his right leg.  In the past, none of the procedures were able to free his right foot of pain.  Dr. Cohen did a phenomenal job and was beyond compassionate and understanding of Matthew’s inability to endure more pain that he already has.  The unfortunate part is that the block only lasts for approximately sixteen hours, but for Matthew, it was sixteen hours of heaven.  While the block was still working, the doctors started a five day infusion and when the block wore off, his pain came back, but there were some positive changes from the block, such as Matthew being able to, with the guidance of physical therapy, tolerate (with great pain) putting his foot down on the floor.  Before the block, Matthew was unable to tolerate even just putting his toes down.  So the plan is to run the infusion for five days and then they will repeat these blocks again, in hopes of increasing the mobility of Matthew’s foot and also, with the Grace of God, permanently reduce or eliminate his pain.  We both cannot wait to get home, but despite this new ordeal of the spreading of Matthew’s RSD pain to his right ankle and lower leg, Matthew is experiencing an incredible difference from before the ketamine coma.  The RSD had taken such a toll on Matthew’s body and his resistances were so low, but Matthew is very thankful for the great relief in so many ways that he has received.  In many different ways, I believe that Matthew was blessed with the miracle of his life in coming through some of the most incredible, critical weeks of his life in Germany.  We continue to pray for and believe that a miracle will happen for Matthew.  With all of my heart, I thank all of you for your continuous support and prayers, and for seeing us through until the end of our journey, when we can come home.  The doctors and entire staff here have been so good to us, but there is still no place like home. 

May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

More Bumps in the Road for Matthew

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Hello to all,

I am so sorry that I missed writing to you on Friday.  This has been the most continuously draining journey that words could not adequately describe.  Matthew, late Wednesday afternoon, was taken down to the O.R. and the doctor was incredible.  He successfully placed the epidural on his first try.  By late Wednesday night, Matthew was starting to receive some pain reduction in his feet and the plan was to keep the epidural in for five days and each day increase the dosage.  On Friday morning, when a different doctor came in to change the epidural dressing, he said that the epidural had fallen out of Matthew’s spine.  The epidural was not able to be put back in because Matthew remains on blood thinners and due to the way that the epidural fell out, they needed to watch for any internal bleeding for 48 hours.  Also, Matthew has great hesitation about re-inserting an epidural because it might bring back his RSD pain in his spine.  And that is certainly one nightmare that he does not want to re-live.  And then, of course, that brings us into the middle of a holiday weekend.  On Saturday, Matthew had an MRI of his right foot and ankle to shed any further light on the excruciating new pain in Matthew’s right ankle and lower leg.  He remains unable to bend his right ankle or bear any weight on his right foot.  Today, the doctors started introducing an oral form of a blood thinner, in order to wean him off the two times a day shots of blood thinners, that he has been receiving for the past seven weeks. Tomorrow, Matthew is booked for another MRI and Dr. Schwartzman returns tomorrow, and at that point he will further guide Matthew as what to do next to resolve this pain.  So again, we have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.  Matthew is trying very hard to remain positive enjoy the relief that he has received from his RSD pain in the rest of his body, and of the many horrible symptoms of the RSD that he was enduring before the ketamine coma; but it is hard with this new severe issue of RSD in his leg.  And with the Grace of God, it will not continue to spread. 

Please God, Bless Matthew with the strength to stay strong and continue to maintain his positive attitude.

May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Updates from Philadelphia

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Hello to all,

Matthew coming to Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia for admission for continued testing and unexpected treatment was the last thoughts that Matthew had upon leaving Germany.  He was physically very weak and incredibly emotionally drained.  Matthew had many complications that were not resolved before being sent home to America.  Again, Dr. Schwartzman, even from a great distance and being on vacation himself, heard of Matthew’s need and immediately gave Matthew his full attention, and saw to it that all specialists that Matthew needed were coordinated and ready for Matthew on his Monday admission.  Also, Dr. Schwartzman’s nurse, Lynn, and staff, did an incredible job in coordinating Matthew’s admission and all of the doctors needed.  Even though it was late on Friday afternoon they all stayed until everything was done for Matthew’s admission.  They did an outstanding job.  On Monday, when we arrived at the hospital, everything went like clockwork and all bases were covered.  Dr. Schwartzman is not only a brilliant physician, but he truly cares about his patients and will go to the ends of the Earth to do whatever he can for them.  Matthew is so very blessed to be in his care.  All of the doctors who came in to evaluate Matthew were fully aware of the incredible journey in Germany and were extremely understanding and accommodating, and provided anything they could to help Matthew through this.

Today, Wednesday, the doctors here are getting Matthew on track with the results of testing, what needs to be done, procedures, adjusting medications, ect.  And now that all of that has been done, Matthew, today will be taken down to have an epidural placed in attempts to suppress all of Matthew’s RSD pain, both old and new… because left untreated, the very realistic results would be Matthew quickly re-living the nightmare he was in before leaving for Germany.  Everyone involved is aware of this and that is why everyone is moving so very quickly to do this for Matthew, and for this we remain forever grateful to all involved.

With all of my heart I know that it is because of the continuous prayers of all that God has continuously opened doors for Matthew.  While Matthew is in the hospital in Philadelphia, we will update Matthew’s blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and if anything major happens in between, we will update it again at that point, until we get home.  You have all been such a huge part of this journey of Matthew’s and have continuously been so faithful in providing support and strength in so many different ways… it truly sustains us in more ways that you will ever know.  I will truly remain forever grateful to all of you.  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Matthew in Philadelphia

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Hello to all,

My Mom called tonight to tell me that she and Matthew arrived at the hospital safely and that Matthew was admitted in the early afternoon.  Many doctors and specialists came in to evaluate him and everything that was being done was extremely thorough and efficient; everyone was so very kind to both Matthew and my Mom.  Many tests are booked for tomorrow and we will have to wait until the results come back before I will more news to share with you.  I know that you are anxiously awaiting further information on Matthew’s RSD, but unfortunately all we can do is continue to pray for a miracle.  You have all been so loyal, devoted, and supportive of all of us, and for that we are forever grateful!

May God Bless you all always!

Love,

Dan (Matt’s Brother)

 

Days 39 and 40 – Matthew is Home but Not for Long

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Hello to all,

Dan and I can’t believe that for all of the days and incredible things that have gone on… that we never missed writing to you… and yesterday was one of the most hectic days.  With short notice of needing to bring Matthew home, needing to make arrangements, and having to pack, we went to bed at 3 am and realized that we forgot to do the blog.  But at that point everything was already packed up.  The trip home took quite a toll on Matthew, but thank God that we all made it home to America safe and sound (there is no place like home).  But unfortunately, it’s not for long.  In speaking with Dr. Schwartzman’s office yesterday and updating them with where Matthew is at with his RSD, Dr. Schwartzman felt strongly that Matthew needed to be admitted to the hospital in Philadelphia directly from Germany.  However, after countless attempts to re-book a direct flight from Germany to Philadelphia, there was no way to arrange this with just hours of notice.  Matthew is having severe pain and throbbing in his right ankle and right lower leg, which are new.  He remains with RSD pain in both of his feet, as before.  So Matthew will get a one day reprieve before flying to the hospital in Philadelphia.  So Matthew and I are scheduled to fly out first thing Monday morning for admission to the hospital in Philadelphia.  The last thing that Matthew wants to do is to endure more CVP lines, epidurals, ect.  But Dr. Schwartzman felt strongly that it is critical to be aggressive with this new RSD pain.  We have always felt very blessed, from day one of meeting Dr. Schwartzman, that Matthew was in the best hands that anyone could hope for.  We will update you more tomorrow, as it would have been 3am in Germany at this time, and between only getting a couple of hours of sleep last night and the jet-lag, we are all exhausted.

We love and miss you all!  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

 

Day 38 – God Has Blessed Us With Matthew

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Hello to all,

Daniel and I were so thrilled to be able to bring Matthew back to the hotel today and to be together again. There were days we feared we would never see this day! Just getting Matthew to the hotel was a huge work-out for him to go through, as he is still very weak. Matthew has been through an incredible ordeal, and he has a lot of recuperating to do, but for all he endured, it wasn’t for nothing.  Many of Matthew’s problems due to his RSD and some of his RSD pain in other parts of his body are so much better than before he went to Germany, to be treated for his full body RSD type II.  Unfortunately, it is with a greatly saddened heart, that I write to tell you that Matthew is still enduring severe, throbbing pain in his right foot and it has started to extend up his lower right leg, which is new; the pain in his left foot remains strong. Seeing Matthew wake up to this level of pain like this breaks you in a way no words can express. The doctor told us it is so very rare for them to treat RSD type II patients here in Germany and that Matthew has been the worst case they have treated. It was due to the severe extent of Matthew’s RSD condition that Dr. Rohr was willing to try to help him. Matthew had absolutely no life before Germany. He was a prisoner… trapped in his own body… living in a quiet dark room!!! We are and will always be truly forever thankful to Dr. Rohr for all he has done for Matthew in both giving him this opportunity and pulling him through many severe complications. It was very sad for us to leave and not personally extend our greatest heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Rohr, as he is still out of the country in Glasslow, Scotland, at a conference. Dr. Graf felt that there was nothing else to offer Matthew… everything possible here had been offered to help him and it was time to go home. Hearing that again was hard to take.  We had become very fond of some of the doctors and nurses and will miss them. Dr. Heger is an outstanding doctor and person, as he went so out of his way to help Matthew through the last two tough days. I will not forget him. The entire staff at the Victor’s Residenz-Hotel Saarbrücken was outstanding and always made us feel very welcomed.

Since the onset of RSD I have begged God countless times a day to bless Matthew with a miracle and free him of this horrible monster of a disease. In the past month, Daniel and I found ourselves countless times a day begging God to bless Matthew with a miracle, his life. And that he has. We are eternally grateful for that.

Matthew will find the strength and courage to continue, as courage is not a lack of fear, it is doing in spite of fear!

We know God is not walking out on Matthew, as without a doubt he has carried him so far and been with us all the way that he will not abandon Matthew now! There is something in store for Matthew that we just can’t see at this time!!!

Matthew will continue his treatments with Dr. Schwartzman in Philadelphia and one never knows the outcome. Every day brings new hope that there will be rainbow waiting for Matthew and for all who suffer with this horrific disease.

I once read a quote that came to mind tonight in thinking about Matthew:  “A hero is not one that never falls. He is the one that gets up, again and again, never losing sight of his dreams.” Matthew is my hero!

Matthew is leaving without a doubt better than when he came!!!!!!! Thank God for that!!!!!!!!!!!!! And without all of you, this journey with Matthew would never have taken place!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 37 – Still Waiting

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Hello to all,

Today, we waited again for the specialist to come in and evaluate Matthew, but no one came.  My most difficult problem at this point is that there are many decisions to make and Dr. Rohr is out of the country this week.  Matthew has not been allowed out of bed for the past five days.  Although he is still weak, Matthew has a strong spirit and determination that is carrying him through.  Hopefully by tomorrow this time, many questions will be answered by the new specialist that will be coming in.  We have decorated Matthew’s wall with all of the beautiful cards and messages that you have sent to him (I will post a picture of it tomorrow).  We call it the “Wall of Strength.”  It has brought Matthew much encouragement and support.  It has brought him much joy and has warmed his heart during these still trying days.

We love and miss all of you.  May God Bless and reward each and every one of you in the way He knows best for all that you have done for Matthew, and all of us… because seeing Matthew smile gives Dan and I great strength also.

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 36 – A Quiet Day

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Hello to all,

Today Matthew caught up on some much needed rest to recover from all that he has been through.  And believe Dan and I, we will take a quiet day any day.  With all of my heart, thank you for all of your cards.  They are truly bringing Matthew more joy than you can imagine.  He will pick them up and read them multiple times a day.  You are all just so awesome beyond belief!  I am sorry that I have not been able to respond to your emails, but I have not had access to a computer at the hospital, and that is where my days and nights have been spent.  But loyal Daniel quickly jumped in to keep all of you updated the past couple of days because we truly understand how much it means to post daily on the blog, as the countless number of emails we have received over the past month express an incredible appreciation for it.

Hopefully, soon we will be able to do a countdown till the days we come home!

We love and miss all of you!  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 35 – Treatment Continues for Matthew

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Hello to all,

Matthew’s four years of Spanish at North Providence High School came to his aid today in Germany when the dietitian taking orders for the next couple of days spoke only German and Spanish.  It was so nice to be able to communicate what foods Matthew likes to eat.

I am sure that everyone, as we, are very anxiously and prayerfully awaiting to know the results of how the treatment has affected Matthew’s RSD.  As of last Tuesday, August 12th, Dr. Rohr started Matthew on a ketamine infusion (as he was having RSD pain).  He will continue having the infusion for a few more days!  We will have to wait until the ketamine is completed to re-evaluate where, if any, the RSD pain is for Matthew… He has not been able to start physical therapy yet… Dr. Rohr told us that Matthew is one of the most complex RSD cases he has treated.  We still believe that a miracle awaits Matthew!

We love and miss you all.  God Bless you all for being so faithful and supportive of Matthew, and us, as his journey continues!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Dan (Matt’s Brother)

Day 34 – A Smile to Matthew’s Face is Priceless

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Hello to all,

The nurses were very kind and allowed my Mom to stay with Matthew again tonight as he requires a lot of help and the language barrier makes it very hard for him to tell the nurses what he needs… and for those of you who know my Mom… she will find a way to get what Matthew needs.

Since this was the first full day that Matthew was off the intensive care unit, my Mom and I were able to spend all day and most of the evening with him.  Although he is still very weak and has little energy, being there all day allowed us to share the beautiful cards that you have been sending him during the short periods where he feels up to reading them.  When we ever gave him the envelopes with the cards you sent to cheer him up with, he was so taken back… he is truly a very humble person.  My Mom and I watched him as he read the beautiful messages in the cards and it made Matthew smile and made him so happy.  For us, a smile to Matt’s face was truly priceless.  He thanked God for blessing him with so many beautiful, kind, and caring people who keep him constantly in their thoughts and prayers.

All of you have been so devoted and faithful in supporting Matthew and I thought that I would share with you a picture of Matthew reading the beautiful and thoughtful cards that we have received at the hotel.

I hope that seeing Matthew smiling has brought a smile to your faces as well!

We love and miss you all.  May God Bless you all always!  We will truly remain forever grateful for all of your love, kindness, support, and prayers for Matthew and us as well.

Love,

Dan (Matt’s brother)

Day 33 – Approaching the Summit

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Hello to all,

If you thought that yesterday’s blog was good news, then you are going to love today’s.  Today there was some more good news.  This afternoon, after 33 days on ICU, Matthew very happily waves good-bye to that floor.  Although Matthew is happy to leave that floor, he was very thankful that the nurses he had watched over him and took good care of him through very rocky days and nights.  We were able to spend most of the afternoon and early evening with Matthew.  The nurse suggested that it would be a good idea if I stayed with Matthew tonight… and Matthew was so pleased that I would be allowed to stay, as he was very coherent in his thoughts today.  So trying to cover all of my priorities, Dan and I got something to eat at Burger King and I am quickly blogging so that I can go back to the hospital and do what Moms do best… love their kids and be there for them. 

A good friend of Dan’s sent this along with best wishes to all of us.  It was so beautiful that we thought we would share it with all of you.  Jessica, you truly have a golden heart yourself!  Thank you for brightening our day!

How fitting that Matthew made such amazing progress yesterday, on the Feast Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, in whom Matthew (and all of us) are so dedicated to Her rosary, that she would shower Matthew with blessings.  What a beautiful way to begin Matthew’s amazing turn-around in his condition.  His vital signs are stable and he is beginning to eat and drink small amounts.  Matthew has always been thankful for one of his greatest gifts from God, his mind.

We love and miss all of you.  May God Bless all of you always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 32 – A Day of Blessings from Start to Finish

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Hello to all,

In waking up this morning, the beautful sun was out and upon opening the doors over-looking the German-French Gardens, we could hear a beautiful song (in English being played).  The name of the song was “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”  When the song was over, I thought:  What a beautiful way to start the day with this blessing.  This morning, Daniel and I were thinking that hopefully, when visiting Matthew today, that he would have continued making progress and we would title the blog “Slow and Steady Wins the Race.”  But after visiting Matthew today, there was nothing slow about his progress… we feel that he has made leaps and bounds.

Mid-morning, our phone rang.  I was down-stairs getting some cereal to bring up for Dan and I.  Dan ran for the phone knowing that no one ever calls that early in the morning because it is still night time at home… and we also know that the hospital never calls.  So when Daniel answered the phone and it was the hospital, his heart skipped a beat.  It was Matthew’s nurse, Daniel, who asked Dan to hold on for a minute… that Matthew would like to talk to him.  He has been Matthew’s nurse all week and has done an incredible job in helping Matthew through many tough days, and it was a gift that he also speaks English, because the days are very long for Matthew, and with him still being on intensive care, the visiting hours are so very limited.  Matthew asked if when we came today, if we could bring him an orange drink (Powerade) and some ice-cream.  So Dan said of course.  When Dan went to ask Matthew how his night was and how he was doing, Matthew said that he had to get off the phone because the nurse was nice enough to let him use his cell phone and didn’t want him to have a big bill.  So Dan said no problem and we will see you in a little while.  I got back into the room five minutes later and when Dan told me that Matt just called, I couldn’t believe that in thirty-two days of hardly being out of the hotel room, that I would miss this call.  And then I thought… how incredible… that Matthew was able to call Dan and talk with him.

Then, the next dilemma came into play:  today is a holiday here in Germany and stores are closed.  We knew that we had to find ice-cream somewhere because Matthew never asks for anything… so we absolutely had to bring him some.  The hotel that we stay at is called Victor’s Residenz-Hotel Saarbrücken.  The entire staff here has helped us out of many jams and is always so willing to go the extra mile, with a smile on their faces, and say “No problem.”  Knowing that, I went to the front desk and told them about Matthew’s call (they daily ask us how Matthew is doing).  The staff said that it was not a problem and came back a couple minutes later with a large cup of ice-cream, all packed in ice and ready to go; and said that for Matthew, it was on them and that the pleasure was all theirs… they were so happy to do that for him…  Who could ask for anything more?  It goes without saying that Matthew thoroughly enjoyed the ice-cream.  Although he could not finish it all, the nurse was very happy to see him eating something because he has been eating very little.

Matthew was exhausted and told the nurse that he was unable to tolerate sitting in the recliner any longer and so the nurse said that was fine and that he would get him back to bed.  Today was the first day that while the nurses lifted Matthew to transfer him from the recliner to the bed, that they stood Matthew for a few seconds.

In saying the rosary with Matthew today, he immediately blessed himself and the three of us said the rosary together!  Although, when finished, he was weak, exhausted, and ready to go to sleep for a while, Dan and I felt that it was a gift that gave us incredible strength to have Matthew back to us and saying the rosary with us, as today Matthew was more coherent than not.  God must have known that we were in desperate need of a day like this! 

On the way home from the hospital, Dan and I saw a beautiful sunset over the river and thought that today has been full of blessings from start to end.  Everyone’s prayers are certainly being heard.  There are no words to express our gratitude for your genuine love and support for us.

We love and miss you all.  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 31 – Music to My Ears

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Hello to all,

When we went in to see Matthew today and we entered the room, Matthew said “Hi Mom”… and that was a first in thirty-one days.  Dan and I feel so very blessed to see Matthew make a little progress each day.  Although at this point in time he is too weak to stand, it is very encouraging that he can endure being transferred by the nurses into a recliner and then endure reclining back for a while.  Matthew’s fever remains down and the doctors now feel that it was due to the severe intensity of the tremors that he was enduring for a few days that caused the fever (not an infection) and that his tremors were caused by a severe drug reaction.  As of today, the new medication, that they started a few days ago, has been a great source of relief for his tremors.  Matthew was much more relaxed today and slept a good portion of our allotted time with him.  The nurses said that Matthew is doing better with drinking and eating pudding/yogurt.

I am truly sorry that I have not been able to respond to emails, but we have been asked for the past couple of days if it would be okay to send Matthew a card.  We are happy to post again the address of the hotel we are staying at for those of you who would like to send Matthew a card.  I know that it would bring great joy to Matthew, that by next week he will be able to enjoy reading the messages and hearing from all of you.

          Matthew Irving Room #142

    Victor’s Residenz-Hotel Saarbrücken
    Am Deutsch-Französischen Garten
    Deutschmuehlenthal
    66117 Saarbrücken
    Germany

As Matthew will hopefully be leaving the ICU next week, it is better to mail cards to us at the hotel and then we will bring them to him, because it takes about a week to receive mail from the United States. 

We love and miss you all.  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 30 – Imagine… Thirty Days in ICU

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Hello to all,

Everyone’s prayers are being heard as Matthew has made progress today.  Today Matthew’s fever is much better, he was more awake, and did well with eating some yogurt and having something to drink.  The nurses were able to transfer him to a recliner for a few hours today.  The doctor could not stress enough that for all his body has been through, that he needs time to regain his strength.

With all of our hearts, we continue to pray for Matthew that God may Bless him with a miracle!

We love and miss you all.  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 29 – God is Carrying Matthew Every Step of the Way

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Hello to all,

Upon speaking with Dr. Rohr today and discussing many problems and concerns, he told me that this morning he started Matthew on two new medications to hopefully stop the tremors and bring his vital signs within normal range.  Daniel and I felt encouraged by Dr. Rohr saying that that he hopes that by next week Matthew will “be on the other side of the mountain.”  With all of our hearts we pray that Matthew’s body is more accepting of these two new drugs than the previous ones.  Matthew slept for most of our visit and five minutes before visiting hours were over, he woke up and you could tell by the look on his face that he couldn’t understand why we were leaving.  As we always do, we tried to reassure him that he was safe and all that was happening with him… and that we needed to leave because the nurses needed to take care of him.  Although it happens every day, leaving him like this will never get any easier for Dan or I.

It has been raining all day (on and off, it has been a rainy week) and when I came back to the hotel and sat to reflect on my conversation with Dr. Rohr, with so many worries and concerns, I happened to look out the door over-looking the Gardens.  Although it was still raining, I saw in the distance a beautiful rainbow that stretched across the sky that probably lasted all of thirty seconds.  While making a wish on it for Matthew, I quickly reached for the camera next to me and was able to capture this picture below that I wanted to share with you.  It no sooner came, I took the picture, and it went away… because I had looked out the door minutes earlier and it wasn’t there.  I guess God knew our hearts needed reassurance at this point that we are not alone… that He is with us everyday.  I had once read a little verse that said:  “Sometimes when its cloudy, it looks like the sun is not there… but it really is.  And in times of sadness, it seems like God is not there, but He is.”

Although it is raining here, I am sure that regardless of the weather in New Jersey, there is sunshine in the Connor household!  Melissa emailed me that she is home safe, sound, and totally pain free!  What a incredibly joyous day! it was a long time coming!  Thank You God for this beautiful blessing for Melissa and her family!  We miss her and Chris greatly!

We love and miss you all.  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 28 – Thankful for Blessings, Both Big and Small

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Hello to all,

Daniel and I were so encouraged to see a couple of improvements in Matthew today.  Even though they were small, we feel that he is starting back on the right track.  Matthew’s tremors are still constant, but mild, which is a big improvement since yesterday.  He was very quiet today.  Although he had no strength to even attempt to talk, today we definitely felt that Matthew knew we were there.  Another area of improvement was Matthew now being able to swallow very small amounts of liquid at a time.  It was slow and difficult for him, but he did it.  It is apparent how determined he is in believing that he will overcome all of these complications that he has been confronted with… with the Grace of God.  Although he continues to have a fever, the docotrs have not been able to find the cause of it, as of yet.

The night before we left for Germany, Matthew had a visit from a phenomenal person, who greatly influenced Matthew’s life and has carried Matthew through some the most difficult years he has ever faced.  He is an incredible human being, instructor, mentor and friend to both of my sons, Matthew and Daniel.  His name is Jery Potenza and we first met him when he became their Tae-Kwon-Do Instructor 14 years ago.  His wishes and words of encouragement to Matthew were to “Stay strong my friend and believe… and believe with all of your heart that you’re going to come through this fine.”  I found myself today repeating those words to Matthew a few times during our visit, and Matthew, with not much strength, nodded his head yes. 

The continued loyalty and dedication from Jed and the Team at Mix102.net (www.mix102.net) has left us speechless (the URL to listen directly to the radio station is: http://66.135.55.160:8060/). They had just held an entire second weekend of tributes and dedications to Matthew and are continuing full support and encouragement of Matthew to see him through this tough battle until he gets home.  And in knowing how much Matthew loves music, they have been recording, day after day, all of the tributes to Matthew, to present to him when he gets home, which will give him countless strength and help him further realize the magnitude of support that was being sent to him.  They are truly a team of dedicated, caring individuals.

Dan and I have talked about how we could ever begin to properly acknowledge the tremendous out-pour of support that all of you have shown all of us… starting from our hometown of North Providence, Rhode Island, with three of Matthew’s teachers who became friends and then his guardian angels who set the pace… and it has been a domino effect ever since.  We have been truly blessed in countless ways.  We pray that God will Bless each and every one of you with good health, peace, and happiness, in which you are all so deserving of.

We love and miss you all!  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

 

Day 27 – Matthew Remains Critical with now a Third Infection

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Hello to all.

Matthew’s fever remains high.  The doctors have done cultures to determine the type of bacteria so they can appropriately treat the infection.  Today Matthew remains with continuous tremors and his body is still very rigid.  During our visit, his heart rate stayed elevated.  Matthew’s eyes were wide awake and he was unable to make any attempt to talk to us… his body and mind must be so incredibly drained.  I can’t even imagine what Matthew is dealing with internally.  So Dan and I just quietly sat with him and occassionally reassured him that he was safe and that we are all so proud of the courage, strength, and persevearance that he has had… and that he needs to try to relax and give his body a well deserved rest… and that everyone sends their love and prayers.  We told him a few times that countless people are continuously praying for him.  Today Matthew was unable to swallow or take any drinks.  The doctors have stopped two of his medications and are going to try a different one… one that he has taken in the past and tolerated well.  God Bless You All!!!

Don’t Quit 

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –
You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt –
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Matthew we will never quit praying for you !!! Fr. Mark,  with all my heart thank you for saying a mass tomorrow morning for Matthew’s full recovery.  I will be sure to tell Matthew, as I know it will give him great strength.

We love and miss you all!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

 

Day 26 – Sadly, Matthew’s Up-Hill Battle Continues

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Hello to all!

Upon visiting Matthew today, we found him heavily sedated, his body was extremely rigid, and was having some tremors.  Matthew had briefly opened his eyes and I asked him if he wanted a drink… he shook his head yes (when the doctor made rounds today, he had asked me if I would please try to get fluids or yogurt into Matthew, as he refuses to eat for anyone else but me).  Matthew took some juice, but was unable to swallow.  Instead, he continuously choked and choked on it.  Then, approximately a half hour later, the tremors that Matthew was having intensified to severe constant tremors.  At this point, his vital signs were out of control and he was continuing to sweat profusely.  When this was not stopping, I went and called for a nurse, who came in, observed, and medicated Matthew.  After another twenty minutes, Matthew’s condition and vital signs worsened and the doctor came in to evaluate Matthew and immediately ordered medication for Matthew.  The nurse was very kind to us.  Visiting hours had ended, but due to Matthew’s condition, allowed us to stay with Matthew until the medication took effect and his vital signs started to improve.  The doctor’s thought was that the new medication that they started Matthew on yesterday, to help him with his hallucinations, caused Matthew to have a severe reaction.

And if all of this wasn’t enough for Matthew to endure today (I hope that you are sitting down…), Matthew has a fever that was over 103 degrees.  Blood-work and cultures are being to identify the cause of the fever.  Daniel and I were so beside ourselves at what Matthew went through today that we went back to the hospital tonight around 9:30 to talk to the doctor about where the medication was at and how Matthew was doing.  Matthew’s nurse came to the door and she was very kind to us.  She encouraged us to come in and see Matthew after the incredible afternoon he had.  Matthew was sleeping and his vital signs, although still high, had greatly improved.  The nurse also told us that the new medication, that is thought to have caused these problems, is on hold for tonight.  So we only stayed for a few minutes, and before leaving Matthew, we begged God to watch over and protect Matthew and keep him safe.

After seeing the intensity of what Matthew’s body went through for a couple of hours today, his body has been through so much and I truly worry about how much more his body can handle at the pace and intensity of what he is enduring.  Truly, with all of my heart, I know that the prayers for Matthew are just continuous from all of you… and with all of my heart, I am forever grateful to all of you because tonight, again, Matthew needs prayers to storm Heaven on his behalf.

May God Bless you all always!  You have all reached out your golden hearts to Matthew.  We are truly so very blessed and thankful.

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 25 – Onward and Upward

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Hello to all!

Today during our visit, Matthew was awake for almost all of it, but looked worn out.  The doctor said that today they started him on another medication for a while to help Matthew with his hallucinations.  However, progress was made today in spite of Matthew trying to adjust to the new medication.  Dan and I brought Matthew some ice cream, which is his absolute favorite.  He did a very good job and although he ate slowly, he polished it off.  He also did well taking in fluids while we were there, which is a big improvement since yesterday.  The nurse was surprised because she said that he hadn’t wanted to take anything from them today.  Matthew, in spells, certainly tried speaking to us.  He obviously had a lot on his mind and he was determined to continue talking until we could get what he was trying to say.  When we tried to explain to him why he was having a hard time getting his thoughts out and across to us, and that he needed to rest, that he was safe, and that he was so strong and doing great… he didn’t want to hear it.  He was adamant to make us understand what he wanted to say.  I guess we need to remember what the doctor told us a few days ago, that we need to have patience and give Matthew time to rest.  We are keeping it short tonight.  Not much else is new with Matthew at the moment.  We will take a day of progress and no new problems any day!

The weather here today started out with rain, then the sun was out beautiful for a couple of hours, then a violent thunder storm, then sun, and now it has been raining for hours.

We are so very grateful for the daily blessings that God is bestowing upon Matthew and the continuous devotion from all of you to Matthew, Dan and I! 

We love and miss you all!  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 24 – In and Out of Reality, but Matthew Knows His Priority

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Hello to All!

After 24 very long days, Matthew is finally coming back to us!  Today was a very emotional day for all of us.  The doctors have reduced some of Matthew’s sedative medication.  He was awake most of our visit today.  There was certainly a mixture of emotions.  He appeared to be very much aware of who Dan and I were.  He had times of frustration:  in trying to tell us something, his lips were moving but there was no sound.  At other times, we could, with our ear to the side of his face, make out what he was saying.  We tried at different times to tell him that he needed to relax, that the medication needed another day to get out of his body and he could communicate easier, and that his body would be stronger.  That apparently was not what Matthew wanted… he was determined to tell us what he needed to.  When the doctor came in for daily rounds, one of the things that she spoke about was Matthew’s frozen shoulder and how a specialist had come in to see him today, and felt that an operation, at this time, was not needed.  I shared with her that when I go near his right arm, he immediately pushes my hand away with his left hand.  She asked Matthew if he was having pain, and Matthew instantly shook his head up and down… yes… yes… yes.  She asked Matthew to show her where the pain was, and he did.  She said that in a couple of days, Matthew would be fully coherent and able to tell us more, and then the doctors would be able to better help him.  You could see that Matthew was very upset that the conversation would be put off for a couple of days.  Dan and I tried to hard to comfort him, and tell him that he was safe and that everything would be okay.  He kept repeating in a whisper, “Believe me… believe me…”;  I assured him that we did, and so do the doctors… that tomorrow he will be stronger and he can tell them exactly what he is feeling.

So the doctor told Matthew that he must try to eat before he can leave the floor and asked him if he would let me help him… and he shook his head yes.  So the nurse brought in a yogurt and I started to give Matthew a little, and he immediately pushed my hand away.  He blessed himself, bowed his head, and tried to fold his hands (no matter what medications Matthew is on, in Matthew’s mind, God is first)… I told him, “sorry Matt,” and we said grace with him.  For his first time eating any food in 24 days, he did okay with some yogurt, but swallowing was quite a challenge for him.

We were pleased to have a visit from Dr. Rohr.  When he walked in the room, I looked at Matthew and asked if he knew who this was.  Matthew shook his head yes.  I told Matthew that Dr. Rohr has taken very good care of him and Matthew blessed himself, tried to fold his hands, and bowed his head to Dr. Rohr.  I shared with Dr. Rohr that Matthew is very strong in his faith and has a very thankful heart.  Dr. Rohr smiled and said to Matthew that he was so very welcome.  So after speaking with Dr. Rohr, he explained that he does not think that the pain Matthew is speaking of is RSD pain… that it is much too early to tell… that anyone laying in the type of position that Matthew had been in for 24 days, would cause pain even to a healthy person’s back and body, let alone whatever this problem is with Matthew’s shoulder.  He told us that we need to continue to take one day at a time and see how it goes.

As it is always hard leaving Matthew, today was harder… it was the first time that he has seen us in 24 days and did not want us to leave… he did not want to let go of my hand.  As we always do, we reassured to him that he has been so brave and strong and that he has been doing so well, and that everyone sends their love, prayers, and support to him.

It brought Dan and I great joy to see the progress that Matthew has made and a few times that you could very easily tell that Matthew was dealing with something else on his mind, we believe that the worst was behind him and that is just part of the process, for him to still deal with other thoughts.  With the grace of God, each day Matthew will be stronger and his mind clearer.  We continue to pray for God to Bless Matthew with a strong body, mind, and soul.

Daniel and I do not just say this, we truly mean it with all of our hearts… we do not know where we would be without the incredible daily support that you have all so generously and genuinely blessed us with!  We truly will remain forever grateful!  Since this journey to Germany started, I have been saving every email, card, blessing, ect. to put together a book for him, so that when he is strong, he will realize the incredible magnitude of golden hearts that shared and supported his journy every step of the way (and when the going got tough, the tough got going).

We love and miss you all so very much!  May God Bless you all always!  With all of our hearts, we remain forever grateful!

Love,

Nancy

Day 23 – It’s Hard to Believe Another Problem for Matthew

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Hello to all!

Since the end of last week, we have been very concerned because Matthew appeared to have no mobility of his right arm.  This was much more noticeable because those days he was experiencing many spasms/tremors in his left arm and both legs.  The thought at the time was that he was on so much medication and that his muscles just had absolutely no strength, and to wait and see what the next couple of days brought.  The doctors have been continuing to monitor this daily.  Today the doctor explained that they believe Matthew has what is called a frozen shoulder, which leaves me with great concern because they are extremely painful.  Physical therapy came in today to evaluate Matthew’s arm.  The doctor did say that tomorrow they will have a specialist look at Matthew’s right arm and shoulder, and have it x-rayed.  Upon visiting with Matthew today, he appeared to be heavily medicated and very peaceful.  His fever remains down and his breathing was much easier today.  Matthew’s vital signs were good and he looked a little bit stronger today.  Matthew had a very brief period of opening his eyes today, and although he was unable to visually recognize us, I asked if he could hear me and knew that it was Mommy.  I held his left hand and asked him not to talk, but that if he could hear me, to squeeze my hand… and he had a very strong grip.  And when I went to the other side of his bed, to try to re-position his right hand because it was caught under him, no sooner had I gently touched his forearm and hand, that he immediately (with his left hand) pushed my hand out of the way… and he had a great expression of pain on his face.  I told him to try to relax as I in no way wanted to ask if he was feeling pain (to bring that word back into his mind), although it appeared very obviously that it was painful.  We re-assuerd him that everyone sends their love and prayers, that he was safe, and that he was doing fine.  The doctors and nurses have continued to do an incredible job on fulfilling all of Matthew’s many needs.  Matthew continues to look so well taken care of. 

I thank all of you for staying so strong and for continuing to pray for Matthew daily.  The doctor said that hopefully in another few days they will try to wake Matthew up again and he will be ready for it. 

You are the most giving and thoughtful people, and are so willing to go that exta mile to bring a smile to Matthew’s day.  I have received quite a few requests for the address of the hospital to send Matthew a card to be there to greet him when he wakes up and to carry him during the days ahead.  Especially with the language barrier, it would be nice for Matthew to have something in English to read.  You are so right… and since so many people have asked through emails, I thought that I would share the address with everyone, so that if they choose to, the information would be available to them.  I am putting the hotel’s address because God willing, in a week, Matthew will be out of the intensive care unit and on a regular floor (based on mail we have already received, it takes about a week to receive mail from the US and I would have no clue where to tell you to send it).  It has worked well using the hotel’s address and we have been receiving mail here without a problem.  So the hotel’s address is:

    Matthew Irving Room #142
    Victor's Residenz-Hotel Saarbrücken
    Am Deutsch-Französischen Garten
    Deutschmuehlenthal
    66117 Saarbrücken
    Germany

 This has been a long haul for Matthew and we are so looking forward to the day that we can walk into his room, see him awake, talk to him, and see him smile again.  That would be one of the greatest gifts from God.

We love and miss you all!  May God Bless you all always!

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

 

Day 22 – Sleep and Patience…

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Hello To all,

That’s what the doctor ordered… sleep for Matthew and patience for us.  He said that it is critical that Matthew’s body have more time to sleep and in a few days they will attempt to re-awaken him again.  In visiting with Matthew today, his breathing seemed to be less labored.  His fever remains down and his vital signs are stable.  It is never easy to leave, but Matthew did seem to be more peaceful tonight.  So tonight I guess that we will close with no news being good news.  And today’s blessing is that Matthew’s lungs seem to be a little stronger and he seems to be more peaceful.  I know that it must absolutely seem hard to believe, but tonight there is nothing else that I have to say… I guess that we all need to follow the doctor’s advice and just be patient.  Well… it’s 12:35 am here, and for once I am going to bed before 2 am.  Hopefully in a couple of days I will have news that will bring so much joy to all, but for now we are just taking things one day at a time.

We love and miss all of you.  May God Bless you all always!  Please continue to keep Matthew in your prayers.

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Day 21 – Another Blessing Today

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Hello To All,

While visiting Matthew at the hospital today, the minutes seemed precious and few.  There was very little change in his condition from yesterday, although there were a couple of times that we thought he was able to recognize our voices.  In talking with the doctor today, one of the things that he mentioned was that Matthew needs a few more days of being sedated to help him.  His body and mind have been through a great ordeal, so, as the doctor told me, we just have to be patient for a few more days (we absolutely agree with whatever is best for Matthew, but being patient is always a challenge in itself at a time like this).  Matthew’s cycle of the high fevers seems to have been broken and all day his fever was almost normal.  That in itself is a big blessing, where Matthew’s body was enduring these high fevers for so long.  Today, I told Matthew that you all send your love and prayers.

On a different note, Melissa was discharged from the hospital today and she is pain free!!!!  We are over-joyed for her that she is now able to begin a new life!  She is an incredible person!

So that’s about all of the news here from Germany.  We love and miss you all!  May God bless you all always!  With all of my heart I thank you for taking the time to send Dan and I emails and/or posts on the blog, as we start our day by reading emails/posts and they give us more strength than you can imagine.  God bless you all for reaching out to us in the way you have.

Forever Grateful,

Love,

Nancy

Nancy@SetMattFreeOfRSD.com