Friday, June 29, 2007

Uneventful Week

Riddle #1 What has 1 SUV, pulling a trailer, filled with stuff, wandering around MD, PA, NY & OH?

Riddle #2 What 2 people would be taking advantage of their son's hospital stay to move their daughter out east, see pandas at a zoo, browse Amish goods, watch lots of water go over a fall, and enjoy much needed quiet time together?

The answer is: Bill & Deb

Dan said it would be okay if we helped move our daughter out east, and that is what we have been doing this week. [why are newlywed apartments still so tiny?].

We are blessed to have you our family and friends "checkinondan" during his surgery and 2 week bed rest at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He has not required any overnight coverage, and is enjoying good conversations with his daytime relief sitters.

Thank you for trekking downtown to help and loving Dan as your own!

Daily we talk to him and his relief sitters, AND check in with the doctors and nurses at NMH, who are getting better at addressing the needs of a vent patient. [they don't have many]

Pray for:
  • his healing of the "flap" that is covering his back sore.
  • that his therapies would not be set back too much because of having to be in bed these 2 weeks. [he was just cleared by his plastic surgeon to start limited physical therapy, in his bed]
  • work on his "temporary room" at home that will accommodate his needs.
  • us, that we would be able to think through, plan, find and purchase items for his eventual being at home.
  • preparing our home and listing it for sale.
  • finding a lot to build a home.
  • that his twin nieces would be home soon.
Although we are miles apart from Dan [like many of you], he consumes most of our thoughts and discussion. It's our new life; not always understood, but embracing by His grace.

Dan escorting his Grandma & Grandpa Johnson, during the wedding rehearsal.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Uneventful Days

Dan is in good spirits in spite of a continual headache. He has had a fever, sometimes high, but no infection so far. The surgery site looks terrific. (lots of staples!) He lays flat on the sand bed, but has been sleepy, so he's okay with that.

We played Bedside Bingo tonight. We didn't win. :o(

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Dad and Mom remember a little over 21 years ago that the doctor suspected twins. We were sure it was an extra bit of weight gained or excess water - not twins - we were too ordinary a family for something so unordinary. But the ultrasound showed two babies. We were a bit overwhelmed to say the least. When Mike and Dan were born, we had 4 children under the age of 4!

Mike (4 minutes older) and Dan have grown up always being best friends as well as being quite competitive with each other!

In this new season of life, although too unordinary to seemingly be true, we are learning more about God's sustaining grace. Dan's content spirit continues to amaze us. We can't imagine what God has in store for us, but we know that "in Thee we trust and are not disappointed."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mission Accomplished

Dan came through surgery just fine. We haven't talked to the doctor about the details yet, but Dan looks and feels great--just a bit tired. He was actually in recovery for possibly a Guinness book record-breaking time (OK, that's an exaggeration -- they were simply waiting for his room to be ready.)

His bed for 2 weeks is an extremely heavy "bathtub-looking" thing filled with very fine sand. This bed is used so there is no pressure on any one area of Dan's body, especially the wound area. He won't have to be turned every hour or two with this bed.

Tomorrow is a big day for Mike and Dan -- their 21st birthday!! Once again we won't be having the usual Knudsen-like celebration. Dan's in the hospital, Mike is leaving for his next sports camp, and Bill is driving with Jeff and Jen to their new home in the Baltimore area to deliver their wedding gifts and a few (ha ha) items Jen has collected over the years. God gave our family an awesome family celebration with Jen's wedding, so we're all filled to the brim already!!

Thank you for praying for Dan yesterday. I don't think any of us had an anxious moment! For any correspondence to Dan, his room number is 1212 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Back Flap

Dan was transferred back to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and will be in surgery today at 11:30 am CST. This 2 hour surgery is to make a "flap" or covering over his back sore. This is done by cutting and rotating good skin and muscle that is next to the back sore over that sore. The surgery is considered non-threatening, but add in the paralysis and the vent, and we are concerned. He will be "out of it" for the rest of Friday and Saturday and be bed ridden at NMH for 2 weeks while the flap area heals. We'd appreciate a special word of prayer for Dan this weekend as you remember him.

Matt, Dan, Emily at Jen's wedding.

It would mean much to us to be able to read part of your prayers for Dan while we wait tomorrow afternoon. Actually, any time you leave a prayer, it will be encouraging to us. "Thanks" :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gifts From Above

A "THANK YOU" can be used and thrown out as a passing comment. I can say it as a reply to very big or just everyday things, "THANKS", almost with out thinking about the incident or person that was involved. We say "THANKS" many times on this blog, but it seem too impersonal.

We would rather look each of you in the eye, and with full facial expression, a hug and handshake, say "THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ... " Sorry it cannot always happen that way right now.

You have told us that you are touched by this checkinondan blog. It's not intended to inspire, but just to let you know what God is doing in us and our son Dan's life. On the flip side, we are touched by your testimonies with your checkinondan journey. YOU dear friends are the daily blessing to us.

So, yes we are overwhelmed how you continue to care for our daily needs:
  • spending time and money getting up here, to sit and care for Dan.
  • taking a few hours clean or repair or plant things around our home.
  • when you make phone calls, look up resources, help us plan for the future.
  • give and give and give [non-stop] gift cards for food, gas, parking and travel.
  • slip envelopes with money around until they get to us. [you think we don't know who you are ... and we don't!] LOL
  • lending us your condo till ... Dan comes home
  • praying for us like there is no tomorrow.
We hesitate to mention money, because it is only one part of giving AND a gift given in secret is the same as given in public. Many have given sacrificially to help us these past 3 months, and ANY amount of money we have received is considered as a treasure from your hands.

We have to mention the Oaxaca Christian School, one of the 3 schools that were at the camp in Puebla, Mexico where Dan was injured. The upper classes usually go on a beach trip at the end of each school year. This year they canceled their trip, and gave all of their trip money for Dan. What a sweet sacrafice of love. My thoughts quickly retorted: We know we have expenses of living in 3 places at once, but we think we have a bit more than these missionary kids ... and those seniors will never have had their "senior class trip" ... and how can we ever repay them ...

Receiving gifts is a constant humbling experience for us Knudsen's. WE would rather be giving, helping, serving others. We know God's word says, "It more blessed to give than to receive", so we trust God will greatly blessed each of you seven times more. We also have also come to realize that we can NEVER repay any of you for your deeds done. As we said above,

"We are touched by your testimonies with your checkinondan journey. YOU dear friends are the daily blessing to us. "


Bill & Deb, Matt & Emily, Jen & Jeff, Mike, Dan, Addy & Gabri too!

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Dan would like to announce that:

Jenifer Ann Knudsen & Jeffrey Lee Kraker
were united in Holy matrimony on
Saturday, June 16, 2007 - 3:30 p.m.
at the Baker Memorial Church in St Charles, IL

We had an incredible weekend with the family -- quite the range of emotions! Dan got permission to leave his temporary home at the RIC, and attend his sister's rehearsal and wedding this past weekend. Friday was to practice a long distance trip via a coach bus, scope out the logistics of the church, [every building can be a challenge for handicap accessiblilty] and to practice escorting his grandparents up the aisle on his own. He lit up with great joy when he saw sister-in-law Emily, who was able to be back in the USA for the weekend, thanks to many of you and your airline mileage points.

Things went well until after the rehearsal dinner when we all got ready to go home. Dan was having a difficult time, said he didn't want to "be like this anymore", and soon had all of us Knudsen's on the bus and crying at his side. We enjoyed a private moment together, had prayer, and said our goodbye's for a few hours. We have not added this for sympathy or such, but to let all of you know that "overwhelming moments" like these, which we can't always post about, are a part of our weekly life. Please know that your prayers help us in more ways than we can always say.

The trip to and from the RIC proved to be bumpy and difficult on the construction-filled roadways, and even included the shaking off of the air tube to his ventilator. [His Ambu bag is always close at hand] When this sort of thing happens, and it has before, we continue to acknowledge that Dan's life has been spared for a Divine purpose. This did not deter Dan's wedding plans.

We are grateful to Spare Wheels who graciously provided this free
transportation, but we realize that Dan's body is not yet conditioned to handle that much movement from a larger vehicle. There are some power chair adjustments that are needed for such movement. God provided and some friends loaned us their customized handicap mini van for Saturday. Dan said it was 100% smoother. [Thanks Al, Rose & Val]. We continue to learn about this new life of ours.

The wedding on Saturday was a full day with a flurry of activity. Dan, in full tux, and his nurse Dominica were picked up by drivers, escorts and family friends aka Randy & Flo. The bride was beautiful, church was full, music filled the air* and Dan was able to escort his grandparents up the aisle perfectly, without missing a beat. He was determined to make this a special day for his big sister, and he did. He was embarrassed a bit when he also got a round of applause on the way out of the church, but our family and friends were SO proud of him. You made him feel loved. No headaches, temps or other physical problems occurred and his attitude was great, even the waiting through the usual family photo shoots etc.

He rested in between the wedding and the reception, then joined the other guests for dinner. Dan enjoyed a full 3 course meal, smiling, talking and joking with college buddies who were at his table. At one point during the meal Deb whispered in Bill's ear. "That is OUR son over there in the wheel chair!" We were both silent for a time, thanking God for sparing his life, but uncertain of the future.

The music and dancing were lively and Dan surprised his mom with a special dance to a favorite tune of hers "What a Wonderful World" - by Louis Armstrong [dad helped him "dance" by moving his chair around.] Then newly wed sister Jen got her turn to dance with him. Dad assisted but cried through much of it, thinking of so many memories from earlier years. Silly dad.

Dan watched as his sister Jen and new brother-in-law Jeff escaped into the night, through 2 rows of white sparklers. All were exhausted by evenings end; he gladly went "home" and slept soundly till 10:30 AM on Sunday :)

* P.S. Many people asked about the ceremony music. It will be a few weeks before we get the video recordings, but you can find a popular version of "The Prayer" here. "The Prayer" singers were Chicago artist and family friend Michelle Areyzaga and Dan Huff, a family friend. Aunt Mary Kay also sang. Instrumentation was provided by Paul & Kristine Semanic of the Brass String Chamber Ensemble

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Big Event

Dan had an important goal in front of him, and that was to be well enough to attend and enjoy his sister's wedding. That day has come! He will be traveling out for rehearsal on Friday and then for the wedding on Saturday. An RIC nurse will accompany him as well as a family member or friend.

For those of you who will see Dan this weekend, we would like to share some thoughts. Dan is still Dan and enjoys the same communication he had with you before his accident. Yes, his body is quiet different, but now that he's feeling somewhat better, the humor returning!! Jen and I (Mom) visited him today, and he had us laughing as usual.

We know that you are interested in how Dan is doing but Jen's wedding is not the time to ask for the details. (from Dan or us!!) As mentioned before, he really wants the day to be Jen's.

Dan may pause a second before responding to you to catch a breath. And if you didn't quite hear what he said, just ask him to repeat it!

But don't shy away from him -- we trust that you won't be uncomfortable around him -- he is a delight to be around!

We have said all along that the Lord gave us the wedding date of June 16, and however the day looks, that is God's plan. Dan's accident did not take God by surprise, and so we continue to trust Him on this very special day.

Thank you again for your gifts and prayers. The request this weekend is, of course, that Dan will not be overwhelmed or overtired. We can't wait to tell you how it goes!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Good Week

Last week we asked you to pray for Dan and he has had an extremely good week. Let me say a GREAT week. His headaches are considerably better, his appetite is greatly increased, and he has slept through most every night, not even asking for his cuff to be put down. Thank you for praying.

The RIC therapists planned an outing for Dan to practice use of his power chair in public. We all went to the Shedd Aquarium on Monday, and Dan maneuvered his power chair very well - in and out of elevators, up ramps, between crowds, etc. How he can "sip & puff" AND also say "excuse me" is a feat in itself. We still can hardly believe his attitude about being out in public -- he does so well.

This is a very special week for us Knudsen's with our daughter Jen's wedding this Saturday. We're ready and we're all so excited -- even Dan. He desperately wants the day to be about Jen and not him. (He adores his sister!) Thank you to all of you, who have been staying with Dan this week, even over night, thus allowing us to be home more with Jen. You are loved!

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 107:1

Saturday, June 9, 2007

3rd Month Recap

WOW! How time flies.

3 months ago we got "THAT" phone call. While on a missions trip with Cedarville University, Dan, our youngest son, attempted a back flip and severely injured his C1 & C2 vertebrae . 2 weeks later we learned more about the 1st Minutes After the Accident. A severe contusion to the highest vertebra in his spinal cord caused a paralysis from his neck down, and requires a ventilator for his breathing.

Dan spent 2 weeks in Neurological ICU at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and then transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago just down the street from NMH. His stay here will be 3-5 months as stated in "nothing I didn't already know".

Dan's physical condition has not changed to date as his Spinal Cord Injury is termed complete. He could not eat by mouth, lost over 35 #'s and experienced a lower back sore [from a 9 hour transfer back to the USA] that became worse day by day. This will be fixed surgically in the next few weeks. He has been plagued by frequent headaches, high temperatures, and many 1-2 hour only nights of sleep.

His life now is about preparing to live life physically, mentally and spiritually as a quadriplegic who is also on a ventilator. There is no indication that his diaphragm will start working or that he will get off this ventilator.

Thankfully Dan did not sustain any head or brain injury. He is a quick study and does well on any new proceedures or challenge put before him. Here are a few GOOD highlights of Dan's progress.

  • He can speak normally with his Cuff Down, but has to keep it up at night, or his lungs get a build up of mucus. This 'up' time used to cause night time anxiety on Dan's part, but not in the past few weeks.
  • He has a power chair that he operates by "sipping or puffing" on a tube. It is not the straightest drive, and a wide hallway or large area is needed.
  • Via a computer, he has accessed his email, games, and web information.
  • He has ventured out in public, and is not concerned about the stares he gets.
  • His sleep has greatly increased in the past week. 6-7 hours of solid sleep.
  • His appetite for food is increasing daily. "I'd like a Happy Meal"
  • Visitors are welcomed with more interaction from Dan.
The "Ugly" or difficult areas of his rehabilitation are:
  • Transferring a 6'1" 150# lifeless frame in and out of his chair from his bed.
  • Showers - it takes 3 people in the handicap roll-in shower. 1) to Ambu bag him, 2) to wash his hair, shave and wash his face, 3) wash the rest of his body. This is done every other day. It's an hour plus long "event".
  • Chair to shower chair transfers.
  • Moving his trach tubes. They get knocked or bumped and cause discomfort to his trach.
  • Technology that does not always work right.
  • Spasms in his legs, that can affect his mental focus and cause anxiety.
  • Increasing his neck muscles so that he can hold his head up.
This photo of Dan and one of his campers is a favorite of ours. It encourages us during difficult times. Dan was ministering to children like this in Puebla, Mexico at the time of his accident. We have confidence that this "accident" will not stop Dan's future ministry opportunities. Everything in life is for the Glory of God. "This happened so the power of God could be seen in him." [Jn 9:3]

God Bless each and every one of you. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Northwestern Visit

Dan is off to Northwestern Memorial Hospital today for another bone test -- this time a bone biopsy to see if there is any bacteria/infection at all in the bone. If no, then soon after the wedding, Dan will have plastic surgery to take care of his pressure sore. It is just too big and deep to heal on its own. This surgery means a 2-week stay in the hospital, then slowly learning to sit upright again. If there is infection, then there will be 6 weeks of intensive antibiotics, then the plastic surgery. We hope this plastic surgery will be a great solution to this never-ending problem! Dan is OK with going through all this -- he has an AMAZING countenance!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

(The Collar is Off - Part 2)

(At first we used the word spinal cord in our last post -- the vertebrae surrounding the spinal cord have healed -- rarely does the spinal cord itself heal after a complete injury. Dan's spinal cord was bruised or compressed at his time of injury and does not usually regenerate as in other parts of the body.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Collar Is Off

What more can we say?

Dr Gireesan, Dan's neurosurgon, said x-rays of Dan's vertebrae show that the fracture is healed and gave the okay for Dr Tracy, the resident doctor, to take Dan's collar off. DONE!!!

It's time to buff up those neck muscles.

Dan also had an acupuncture session to help alleviate his headaches. They have not been as severe since the wound vac was removed.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Prayer Needed

Dan is not feeling well. We think it's because of the wound vac, but the headaches are extreme. We know that you are already our prayer support, but I just wanted to ask you to possibly set aside a special time this week to pray for Dan. Many will be fasting as well. We need divine guidance, as do the doctors, to best care for Dan. Thank you.

Friday, June 1, 2007

quiet week

We didn't forget about you folks.

As we move into the final stages of Dan's rehab, things seem to be moving too fast. Did we forget to mention that Dan might be out of here by the 4th week of June?

So this week we met with a power chair rep. to fit Dan to his own power chair. So many things were discussed and many questions were asked. Front wheel drive vs. mid or rear drive. Driving control modules: mouth, voice, or head movements. Suspensions, power train, seats, and helper controls, protected ventilator storage units, etc. It is a 2-3 month process from order to delivery; 3-4 weeks each for
  1. insurance company negotiations,
  2. making of the base power unit ,
  3. the top chair and other control items.
Dan has a new suction device -a wound vac- hooked up to his back sore. "THAT SORE". We now feel that it has been the culprit for his everyday level 7 or 8 headaches , not to mention it's one nasty looking wound. This suction device has tubes that connect to a sponge and this works to vacuum away some residue and stimulate tissue growth. It seems to be working, but is another tube to watch out for when transferring him. We really can't go home until this sore is pretty much healed, so the end of June may be premature.

We are looking to make another break to a museum, and thought about trying bus transportation, but may not because of the vent. Dan's headaches have put a big damper on those activities and we can't go too far from here without proper staff.

Other things with Dan: we will be modifying a temporary room for Dan at our home; early stages of planning for a possible house building [although we run out to see every new "ranch lead"], and working through all of that tedious house related stuff -- more about "God's Home Makeover" later. There is that other big family event that is in full steam. 16 days...oh me!

I was reading I John to Dan recently, and these verses made me think of you folks.

I John 3:18 & 19
18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other;
let us show the truth by our actions.

19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth,
so we will be confident when we stand before God.

Thanks to relief sitters who show us God's love. You are getting more familiar with the nitty gritty of Dans care; trach issues, cuff up/down , vent settings, suctioning, transferring, bagging, feedings, counseling, sleepless nights, and on and on. We could not do this by ourselves.

More love in action to all of you who pray for Dan and us, those who leave or send encouraging comments, house repairers, gardeners and cleaners, so many who are behind the scenes, helping with legal, financial and other items. Those also who help us financially. All of you show God's love each and every day. THANKS