Photo captured by Amanda Barker, Vivitography

October 25, 2011

"My Heart is Full" / Another Cath this Week!

I had started this post several months ago, intending to update readers on Bradley's progress as he recovered from his open-heart surgery back in April. (If you have not read about his surgery on here, please feel free to read my previous entries in April.) It has been sitting as a draft, as I have neglected my blog very well. Here's a quick overview of the last 6 months (thanks to Twitter, and involving a lot of praise, which is always awesome):


His check-ups in June and August went very well. As you can see from the tweets, he is physically feeling better than he has in YEARS. He has also had no flutter since his surgery (at least no episodes have been recorded by his pacemaker). This alone is amazing. His flutter had gotten so bad before his surgery that his medicine was not able to control it anymore, leaving him feeling tired and sick almost all the time. Thank you Lord for this turn-around!

But what I really wanted this post to be about was the favor and goodness of God we have experienced during this time. The 2nd Saturday after Bradley's surgery, we attended the evening service at church. Afterwards we caught up with Steve Hardin, our very hyper, spunky campus pastor. He was so excited to see Bradley doing so well so soon. A sweet friend of mine, Amy, just happened to be standing nearby and she too was freaking about about how well Bradley looked. Steve prayed a passionate prayer over Bradley and he repeated this phrase several times and it just stuck with me: "My heart is full!" I believed that Steve's heart was full, as all of our hearts were, to the point of overflowing in that moment. Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow!!

We experienced an outpouring of love through this from our community. So many wonderful family members, friends, and strangers prayed for us and over us, brought us meals, mailed us checks, visited us at the hospital and at home, and saw that our needs were met. Such generosity and faithfulness has encouraged us and touched us deeply. The Lord was so gracious to us during that time, teaching me to be a better wife and mother. To be more patient and trusting. To be more gracious and serving. I look back at that season with such fondness. It is a marker stone in which I look back on and see the faithfulness of God.

I am getting around to posting this now because Bradley has another heart procedure coming up this week. On Thursday morning, October 27th, he will go in for a heart catheterization to measure the pressures in his heart to see how successful his surgery was. Oh, how we pray it shows a significant drop from his pre-surgery measurements. (He did have an echo done in June to measure the pressures, which showed good results, but it's not as accurate as a cath.) Please join us in praying for the following:

  1. The pressures are down.
  2. There are no complications from the procedure.
  3. That he may be able to come off of several medications.
  4. That the Lord's will be done and we gladly submit to that!
Thank you for your prayers and for taking an interest in our lives. We love you!

In Him,

April 13, 2011

Adjusting at Home

I haven't update as quickly as I would have liked, but Bradley has been home 6 days and is adjusting to his new normal. He has recovered much better and quicker than what we both thought, praise God! When we first got home, he slept most of the next 2 days and didn't move around too much. That first night home wasn't a pleasant one and he slept only a few hours.

But after that, things got much better. He's moved around much better than what I expected, and amazingly, he's hardly had any pain! He has some aches and pains, some headaches, and pain in his leg from a groin incision, but he's only taken about 1 dose of pain medicine a day. Thank you Lord for such a successful recovery so far. I thought that pain management would be the most difficult part of his recovery, but it's almost been a non-factor!

The biggest complaint he's had is a twitching in his chest from his pacemaker. The wires (called leads) from his pacemaker run through a vein and into his heart, and when it sends a shock to help his heart beat, it sometimes makes his chest muscle seize and twitch. It's very uncomfortable for him. You can actually see his chest quivering when it does that. He went in for a post-op check up on Monday, and because of their "protocol," they were not able to fix it. Hopefully when he goes in for another check-up on Friday, they'll be able to fix it. Otherwise they'll have a not-so-happy patient on their hands. ;)

But overall, I think the biggest obstacle he'll face during this recovery is the downtime. For at least 6-8 weeks, he can't lift anything over 5 pounds and he can't drive. He can't even sit in the front seat of a car. A deployed airbag into his chest would cause some major problems. So, he's kind of stuck in the house. He's not up for walking long distances yet, and he hasn't been cleared to be around big crowds, like the mall or church. So for now, his days are filled with sleeping, watching TV, watching movies, playing PS3, sitting outside, eating, somewhat playing with the boys, etc. It's been 6 days, and he's already bored out of his mind. I pray that this time will pass quickly and he can find things that will stimulate his mind. It's so easy to get lazy when you don't have deadlines or motivation, especially when you have physical limitations that prevent you from doing things you really like to do.

Please join me in praying for Bradley's physical recovery, his mind, and his spiritual development during this time. Pray that the Lord will use this as a refining time to draw him closer. It's a unique opportunity for him to spend time in the Word. And please pray for me too. While I knew that this would be a difficult time for me, I'm starting to feel the effects of wearing so many hats - wife, mother, nurse, chauffeur, housekeeper, etc. I've been so blessed for Bradley's mom and step-dad stay with us. They have been lifesavers. Bradley has also been very patient with me. I pray that I may see this time in our lives as an opportunity to serve my family, and that I do not resort to laziness when things get difficult. I'll need to be on my A-game during this time. :)

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for everyone who visited us in the hospital and here at the house. Thank you to those who have brought us food and kept us company. Thank you for reading this, as it is rather long. :)

We praise God for you in our lives. We have seen the way the body of Christ moves and works and it is humbling. May God get all the glory!

April 8, 2011

GOING HOME!: Post-Op Day 4

I definitely didn't think I would be posting this message only 4 days after surgery, but they're discharging Bradley today!! He's doing so great that there's really not a reason to keep him here. The nurses called him a legend even before the surgery, and now they're calling him a rock star! :) He looks good, but is still just really tired and groggy, which is probably from him being woken up every hour by the nurses.

Now we're just waiting on discharge papers. Once we get the ok, we're out of here!

We have some prayer requests specifically related to his recovery time at home, but I'll post those a little later today, hopefully.

Thank you everyone for you love, support and prayers during this hospital stay. Love you all!

- Ashley

April 7, 2011

Good-Bye ICU!: Post-Op Day 3

Today, Bradley was transferred out of CV-ICU and into a room on the cardiac floor. We were so thankful to get out of ICU. We were taken care of very well there, and Children's CV-ICU is an incredible unit, but getting out of there is one step closer to going home.

Bradley didn't sleep very well last night, so he has been sleepy most of the day. The time that he has spent awake, he was very groggy. I'm praying that he will sleep soundly tonight so tomorrow he can focus on getting up to walk around and on doing his breathing exercises. His pain has been manageable, and that is a huge relief compared with the last 2 days.

But perhaps the highlight of our day was our boys coming to see us. Bradley got to see them for the first time since Sunday night, April 3rd. It took them a while to warm up to Daddy, but he at least got hugs and kisses from them before they left. With 7 adults and 2 little boys in a hospital room, they didn't stay for long. I'm so thankful for my parents and my in-laws for taking care of the boys so I can stay with Bradley.

Going forward, please pray for the following things:
 - that the Lord will grant us protection from depressed/anxious thoughts while being cooped up in the hospital (Philippians 4:4-9)
 - that Bradley will have the motivation and strength to get out of bed and complete the exercises they are asking of him
 - that we may get lots of rest
 - that I may be encouraged to love and serve my husband well

Thank you all for you love, support, and prayers.

In Him,
- Ashley

April 6, 2011

Chest Tubes Out!: Post-Op Day 2

Bradley got a set of chest tubes out earlier today, which has greatly helped his side pain. He still has some other underlying pains, but the pain meds seem to be helping. He will be moved from his ICU room, to another room on the cardiac floor. Sorry it's a short update, but I'm about to fall over and pass out because I'm so exhausted. Thank you everyone for your prayers and support!

Update: Post-Op Day 1

Today has been a pretty good day for Bradley. They've gotten him up about 4 times today, each time a little easier. He's been taken off a lot of the medicines he was on post-op, but continues to need quite a bit of pain medicine. He's having some severe pain in his left side, most likely from the chest tubes that help drain the fluids from around his heart. Hopefully they will be removed tomorrow when he is transferred out of CV-ICU and into his regular room. I hate seeing him in so much pain, but he's been a good patient and been able to bear it most of the time. There are some times when he is really miserable, though. Fortunately, he hasn't had much chest pain from the incision or throat or back pain.

Linda (Bradley's mother) and I will be excited when we are moved upstairs. We'll be in a much more comfortable room with a bathroom and shower inside the room (instead of a public bathroom/shower!). I will update sometime tomorrow about how he's doing.

And the Lord is really working on my heart. The emotions I have experienced in the last 2 days has been almost more than I can handle. I hope to blog on it soon, if I'm able to focus enough to get my thoughts together. :)

We appreciate all of the prayers that have been coming our way. We still need them as this recovery time goes forward. Love you all.

In Him,

April 4, 2011


I know this is a late update, but we've had a busy last few hours. Sorry about the delay! :)

Bradley got wheeled out of surgery about 3:30, and he looked wonderful. When we were able to go back to see him in his room, he still looked great but it was a little weird seeing him just laying there unresponsive. But, after a while, he's begun to respond by shaking and nodding his head in response to our questions. He's trying to talk, but he still has the breathing tube in. They're trying to wean him off the respirator right now in hopes that they can take it out tonight.

He'll be in ICU for 2-3 more days, and then moved to his room on the cardiac floor for another 3-7 days. His stay depends on how well he is responding in his recovery.

We are so grateful and humbled by this experience and by the prayers of the saints. I will post a blog about the emotions of the day and what God is teaching me later. Right now, I'm going to go spend some more time with him.

Thank you Lord for bringing our Bradley back to us. You are good and you are faithful!!

Procedure Beginning

We just got an update from the nurse. Prep work took longer than what they expected but they're doing the ablation right now. There is a lot of scar tissue from previous surgeries so it's taking longer than they originally thought. He hasn't been put on the heart/lung machine yet, which will take about an hour when that happens. The surgeon will then perform the procedure. I think that's the next step. I will continue to update when we get them. Stay tuned!


So It Begins...

They just took Bradley back to the operating nurse a few minutes ago (about 7:40am). The OR nurse said that the surgery could take anywhere from 8-12 hours. They will call us in the waiting room about every hour, so I will update on here, and on our Facebook profiles, when we get a call.


April 3, 2011

Prayer List for Surgery

As Bradley's surgery is very quickly approaching (a little more than 24 hours away), there are some things we would like prayer for, if you feel led to pray for us in this way.

1. A successful surgery with no complications that will improve Bradley's pressure in his heart and lungs

2. Wisdom for the doctors, nurses, and others involved, especially in regards to his pacemaker leads (wires) in his heart

3. An undeniable peace that surpasses all understanding for Bradley, myself, our boys, and our family and friends; freedom from anxiety, fear, and worry - Philippians 4:6-7

4. A speedy recovery - managing pain, physical healing of his body

5. That I receive a supernatural spirit of service for my family during the recovery time (Bradley will not be able to lift more than 3 pounds or drive for 2 months)

6. That our sons, Cade and Blake, may adjust to their time away from us and that they may somehow come to know Jesus through this

7. That above all else, God's will be done in this and through this!!

I just realized that I haven't really specifically posted what is going to be done during this surgery, so if you're interested, this is for free. :) During the surgery, they are going to 1) widen an area of obstruction that is causing the high pressures, 2) do a procedure called an ablation that will help with his atrial flutter, and 3) possibly extract his pacemaker leads or add a second set of leads. It's not likely that they'll have to do much with the leads.

If you would like more information about visitation or anything else, feel free to email me -

Thank you for reading this and for your prayers.

In Him,

March 29, 2011

Surgery Rescheduled

Wednesday night (March 23rd), we got a call from the surgeon saying that he had come down with a fever and his cough had gotten worse and therefore could not do Bradley's surgery the next day. We were disappointed at first, but realized it was for the best. We definitely don't want a sick surgeon performing an 8-10 hour surgery. It's been rescheduled for Monday, April 4th.

While it threw a kink in our plans, God knew the surgery wouldn't be on the 24th, so we're trusting in His timing. Please continue to pray for the surgery and recovery time. I intend to post a detailed prayer request list if you feel led to pray for us in that way. On the day of the surgery and in the days following, I will try my best to update Bradley's condition on here, our Facebook pages, and on Twitter.

Above all, God gets the glory!

In Him,

February 15, 2011

Surgery Date!

We finally have a day for surgery set - March 24th! It's not as early as what we had hoped for, but at least we have a date now. On March 3rd, we'll be meeting with the surgeon, Dr. Forbess, to discuss the surgery and will hopefully have all our questions answered.

If you feel led to pray for us, please pray for the following:
  1. That God will give the surgeons and doctors the wisdom and skill to perform the surgery and care for Bradley.
  2. That the surgery will be successful in lowering the pressure in his heart and lungs.
  3. That Bradley recovers well with no complications.
  4. That above all God be glorified in this.
Thank you! I will continue to post more as we learn more.

In Him,

February 2, 2011

Bradley's Heart Catheterization Results & Treatment

I know that there have been a lot of people that have been asking for updates on Bradley and his procedure on Monday. I'll try my best to explain it in a way that everyone can understand. (Even I have trouble understanding it all!)

The last time I posted, back in June, his cardiologist was thinking that the blood clots in his lung were causing the pulmonary hypertension. (You can read that post here.) In the time since then, Bradley has been having trouble breathing and some other heart-related symptoms. So, he had a diagnostic heart catheterization on Monday to check out exactly what's going on. We were looking for answers, and praise God, we found them.

Dr. Dimas, a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, did the catheterization and got precise measurements of pressure in all chambers, veins, and arteries in his heart. She determined that there is a severe obstruction or narrowing in a passageway above the tricuspid valve draining into the right ventricle, which in Bradley's heart, pumps the blood to the body. This is causing a back up and increased pressure in both the right and left atria and the pulmonary artery (a.k.a., pulmonary hypertension). This narrowing (most likely due to a baffle that was put in when he was 11 months old) can only be repaired by open-heart surgery.

While open-heart surgery is not something that gets us excited, it does mean that this problem is fixable, and that gets us very excited. Once the passageway is opened up, his lungs will hopefully heal and reverse any damage that has been done from the pulmonary hypertension. In the long run, this gives him a better chance of only requiring a heart transplant, instead of a heart and lung transplant, which is infinitely more complicated and rare. So, the results we got Monday were the best we were hoping and praying for, even though it means open-heart surgery. We're waiting to hear from the doctors about scheduling it, but I anticipate it will take place within a month or so. Also in the surgery, they will attempt to fix a spot in his heart where his atrial flutter is originating from.

I think I've covered the basics. I tried to keep it short, but I'm sure I've left out something crucial. We have had over 24 hours of information overload, so we're still trying to sort it all out. Thank you to everyone who has lifted us up in prayer the past 2 days, week, month, and longer. The outcome of his procedure could have been much worse, and we praise God that we received the news we did. Please continue to lift us up in prayer as the surgery approaches.

Also, Bradley is having a difficult time recovering from the procedure. It was only expected to be a 3-4 hour cath, but he ended up being on the table and under anesthesia for 9 hours. His body did not handle coming off the anesthesia very well (nausea), and he's still having a lot of tightness in his chest from having to lay flat for that long. Please pray for his remaining recovery. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask one of us. We'll try our best to answer. :)

The Lord is sovereign and in control of our lives. We trust in his plan and know that He is good and does good. We pray that all of you may come to know the comfort and peace that we have experienced during these trials. Love you all.