Posted Apr 4, 2022 by Dana Marthaler
Do you remember when you were a child, just starting kindergarten? A new little kindergartner, just like you, reached out to you with a secret. They wanted to be your friend. They wanted you to be theirs. Do you remember how you felt? Did you feel like the most important person in the world to be given such a gift?
Fast forward a few years and you were learning how to drive. Do you recall the day your parents held the keys to the car? You had just earned your license. And the day came they dropped those keys in your hand. They trusted you as a safe driver. How did you feel? You were empowered. You were on top of the world.
Fast forward a few more years and you meet that special someone. You connect and fall in love. They trust you with their heart and their future. Do you remember how that felt? You were invincible.
But what if you were trusted with something you didn’t want?
The bible reminds me, as it does often, of those who were trusted with something they didn’t want.
I think of Abraham, given the task of sacrificing his only son, Isaac. How he must have felt walking up that mountain. Tasked with doing something that would undoubtedly break his heart.
Or Daniel. When tasked with the order of stepping into the lion’s den, not knowing the outcome.
Or Jesus’ disciples. Knowing the task that lay before them would inevitably be difficult, resulting in persecution, imprisonment, beatings and in some cases, death.
And the greatest of these? Jesus himself. When in the Garden of Gethsemane, he implored God to take this cup of suffering from him. But as he prayed he said not my will, but Your will be done.
Where would we be without these reminders?
All of us have things that we endure. Things we would not want to have been trusted with. But the difference lies in reminding ourselves that the things we suffer are for a greater purpose. Some that we are only beginning to see. It is this that gives us hope for the days to come, to trust in God that He is always faithful. Always watching. Always providing.
This update is positive in so many ways, but it is not without wonder (and worry) for where God will take us, and so many ways this could end. Jonah’s journey of recovery has begun to change. His physical wounds have healed and the scars that remain will always be. Those scars are not unlike those that affect our whole family now. Scars that are more emotional, than physical.
Jonah has been attending physical therapy weekly since last year. Over that time, he has gained some muscle strength. The ability to walk unassisted comes easy for him now.
Last year, he was fitted with an AFO boot that he wears around the calf of his right leg. This is to stabilize the ankle and provide strength when he walks. It fits inside his shoe and allows him to walk unassisted, without a cane, crutch or walker. It’s miraculous considering where we were just 7 months ago.
During one of those PT appointments, he asked his therapist when he would be able to lift his ankle back, while bending at the knee standing up. Something many of us take for granted. His therapist told him it may or may not come back.
That same day, we headed in to see his plastic surgeon who did all the work on the nerves and worked tirelessly to save as much muscle as he could. When Jonah approached him with the question of when he would regain that movement, he was again told the same. It may or may not come back.
A week or two after that, we met with the vascular surgeon who had performed the femoral artery graft. Jonah had an afternoon of testing that told us there is borderline insufficiency for blood flow to the leg. What that means yet, we do not know. They want to watch and we go back in for another round of testing in 6 months. Meanwhile, they told us to be mindful of any changes we see physically. Angioplasty might be on the table in the future. He was told without question, he will remain on low grade aspirin as a blood thinner for the rest of his life.
And that’s where the emotional journey takes us. Some days good. Some days not so good. But we seek to find the glory of God in all of it. This update is the goodness of God even in the days when we wait to see His plan unveiled.
Around Christmas of last year friends of where Jonah used to work at Doubledays Bar & Grill in Cottage Grove asked what would be something that Jonah would love to have for Christmas but would be otherwise unattainable. I said without hesitation – to drive. Jonah worked so hard for his car, to purchase it on his own, only to lose the ability to drive within a few months of buying it. It was heartbreaking.
But this is where we start to see the unbelievable goodness of God’s provision.
The owners of Doubledays followed Jonah’s journey. They called and told us they had hand controls for us. It was from a member of their family who needed hand controls for his own car, and he had an extra set that he wasn’t using. Then, we were told they were going to do a fundraiser and raise monies to give Jonah the means to pay for hand controls installed in his car.
Rather than trying to find a company who could help us, at the fundraiser, a man we hadn’t met before then, came forward to say he was going to help us. He worked for Rosen Automotive and it was their goal to put Jonah back behind the wheel. At no cost.
About six weeks ago, they came to the house to pick up the car and hand controls. Tonight, we just took a huge step in Jonah’s emotional recovery: He drove his car home. And who other would he choose to be his wingman and side-seat driver, but his brother Noah.
As we embark on this new phase of recovery, thank you for your prayers. I have been told repeatedly by Christian friends, near and far, that they remember us still. We are so thankful for it. Keep Jonah in your prayers that his recovery would continue slow, but sure. That he would remain safe while back behind the wheel. That he would continue to find pieces of himself as he looks towards his future.
Yes, we have many unknowns. Yes, the days are sometimes dark as we struggle with flashbacks, or physical setbacks or the emotional rollercoaster all of us are on. Yet we are reminded: God trusted us with this.
When you are trusted with something God has placed before you, something you didn’t want to be trusted with - Take inventory. Because it is in those moments you see the beauty of God revealed. You see His provisions, His blessings and His unbelievable goodness. You see His love for you. You see Him placing people in our lives that play a critical role in that moment to help us. The bible tells us we need not worry about what we will eat, or what we will wear because He provides that for us. And in the darkest of moments, we have been reminded that He gives us so much more. Because we were trusted with this, and He thankfully knows us better than we know ourselves.
NBC15 with Jonah
Posted Nov 26, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Check out a special interview with Jonah that aired last night.
Posted Nov 23, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
It’s hard to post such a happy and positive update when the heart of Wisconsin is in mourning over Waukesha’s accident. I know the horror those families endured in getting a call that changes everything, or worse yet, seeing it with your own eyes. It’s a horror beyond imagination and my heart aches for all they have lost. It could be innocence, it could be joy, it could be life. They all matter and we grieve over each loss long after the moment passes.
This week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, we do have much to be thankful for. While we may not understand the why of what happened, we know the who. And the who is the One who remains steadfast by our side in the darkest moments, grieving with us and saddened when we are sad. He celebrates with us when His children succeed with a hurdle in front of them. He is also the one who provides us strength when all strength is gone. It’s often the prayer I pray now...for His strength because His will not fail. Nor will His promises.
Jonah’s continued to heal and make progress at an amazing rate. Yesterday he was fitted for the AFO boot that will fit in his shoe. We are starting to have the conversation about what it will mean for him to actually wear the same set of shoes when he’s out walking. Four months ago? It was a very different conversation. Some of you also saw the post today of Jonah standing in the driveway using a cane. And ONLY a cane to walk around. So far, it’s only a few small steps, but they happen with quite a bit of frequency. It’s hard to imagine how far he’s come in only a few months, in the grand space of time. But it certainly felt like a lifetime for us. He will use the cane and walker interchangeably. But the wheelchair he had been forced to use is now only needed in the rare instance, rather than the ‘go-to.’
His flexibility and strength continues to come back. We now have conversations about pain in the lower right leg when he’s manipulating it. That means, scar tissue is developing and more importantly – nerve response. While the scar tissue will have to be broken down it means that with time, the hope for functionality and feeling grows.
His progress has been miraculous. He is somewhat the story of ‘the boy who lived’ (speaking as a Harry Potter fan). I’m excited to share with you, now that we have received final news on the details – Jonah’s story of recovery is going to be featured on the news! His story will air on Thanksgiving night this Thursday at 10 pm on NBC15. I’m sure the links will also be available on the website. They will also be featuring it on the news this weekend.
Also – it goes without saying Jonah’s recovery would have never happened, had it not been for the people who chose to give of themselves. Quite literally. They donated their blood. Jonah would not have made it without the life saving gift of blood. He needed 38 units of blood the night of his accident. To honor him, the Red Cross is holding a blood drive in Lake Mills to honor Jonah’s recovery and all the donors who give blood. On December 7 from 12 pm – 6 pm at the Lake Mills City Hall, you can donate blood so others will have the same hope we did that night. Give the gift of life.
This week is about Thanks. It’s also about Giving. Together they make a holiday. But taken separately, with each word its own, it takes on a very different meaning. Going forward into Thursday and every day after - Let’s focus on doing both.
Happy Thanksgiving to our family of believers—
New Baby Steps
Posted Nov 16, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
The days following Jonah’s birthday settled into a routine, as best as we could plan for. We had regular visits with a tutor helping with math. We had a routine with his home health nurse and his physical therapist. It was far from normal, but with routine came the expectation of what we could anticipate would be our week.
Jonah’s physical healing still continues. He has been able to get stronger and stronger every week in navigating the stairs for shower days. On those days, I help him remove the dressings from the wounds that remain on the lower right leg. The healing that I’ve witnessed over the weeks of being at home has been remarkable! When we brought him home, it was very much bringing home a newborn. Instead of diapers and onesies, I was doing regular changes to wound dressings. Feeling like a new parent and trying to make sure to get everything right.
When he first came home, there were many serious wounds still healing on his leg. It meant meticulously looking at them to make sure nothing was changing and the open wounds that remained were looking ‘good.’ It’s hard to be a mom and look over the wounds he has suffered. But as God has brought us through so many trials on this journey – He sustains us through these also. I’m just amazed at how his body has continued to heal. The skin grafts look remarkable and the wounds at the top of his foot and lower leg, have almost completely healed over.
This sets us up for the next step where we will get him fitted for his own specific boot molded for his foot alone. That will allow him to wear his brace in his own shoe. As we get ready for him to wear regular shoes on both feet, Jonah’s been busy working on his physical recovery.
I know so many of you have been praying for his continued recovery and I give thanks to God that He has, in so many ways, answered them. Jonah began walking using a walker on November 9th. What he quickly progressed to was using the walker as he would a shopping cart, sliding the walker along in front of him, using it for balance and support but putting one foot in front of the other much as we do in everyday life.
This week was another milestone for recovery because Jonah was able to begin to take the first steps of walking with just a cane. It’s a very difficult process to learn because Jonah has no feeling below the knee. He will not have feeling below the knee for many months to come. Indeed, learning to understand where the leg is, in space and time, when your body is in motion takes some time to learn. But being so athletic has helped Jonah greatly. He is able to take steps using the cane from his bed, to the kitchen or down the hallway. Nothing long, but truly miraculous!
His GI infection continues to be there and as we continue with medicine, we work towards hopefully the day when we are without meds, Jonah is without infection and feeling good. We are not there yet, but every day closer.
The emotional recovery for all of us is something that we will continue to work through long after the physical has healed. I think in some ways it’s the larger hurdles we will have to work through. As Jonah begins to venture out again there comes angst and uncertainty. As a mom, I worry. But Jonah has a whole other level to work through. Please pray for Jonah. So much that seems the same, is now so very different.
Last night as I sat with God during my quiet time I struggled. Sleep escaped me, and words it seemed did also as I tried to talk with Him. It’s hard, as you can imagine, to be the mom, the nurse, the cook, the maid, the 24-hour caregiver, the spiritual cheerleader and so much more. I needed something only God could provide, but I couldn’t put it in words. So it was in the quiet of my room, when all was dark, the Lord directed me to His Word.
While we were in the hospital, our Pastor suggested studying the book of Romans. More so, Jonah’s religion class is focused on the book of Romans. Once again, God spoke to us through everyday life. We only had to listen. It was while reading Chapter 8 that I found peace. God knew. The power of words weren’t needed when all I had to do was remember He still hears those feelings for which there are no words.
So in the darkness of my room, I simply asked for discernment. To know the path before us and walk in it with God by our side. To know what I am capable of and to know when to ask for help. To help Jonah as he recovers. And to help him also learn his own discernment of what he can accomplish and what will still take time to overcome.
And as Jonah continues with these baby steps each day, looking back someday, he will have climbed the mountain.
We encourage you to send notes of encouragement to Jonah and Rita to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Nov 4, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Today seemed a fitting day for an update. As some of you may know, today is Jonah‘s 17th birthday. And today bears a more significant meaning than other birthdays in the past. Because today we celebrate the true gift of life.
17+ years ago as I was pregnant with Jonah it was a time of hopefulness, fear and lots of uncertainty. Motherhood was something I had no experience in and while it seemed exciting, I was fraught with uncertainty. As the time came near for Jonah to be born I remember having so many conversations with God. I knew He had given me the immense responsibility, joy, and opportunity to play a significant part in His plan of life. I often read spiritual anecdotes to keep me focused on the positive instead of what could go wrong.
One particular phrase I had close to my heart was this: “when God brings us to the end of all that we know and we are forced to step into the unknown, one of two things are certain: He will give us a step to stand on or He will give us the wings to fly.“
Becoming a mother was truly the unknown for me. As I was staying close in God’s word I remembered the story of Hannah. In that story she had longed for a son. She had prayed fervently for a child. She had prayed that if God would bless her with a son she would return that son to do God’s bidding and to use that son in His ultimate plan.
I prayed fervently then that if God saw fit to bless me with a son that I would do the same as Hannah did. I would commit to bringing him up knowing his Lord and Savior. Never before did that mean so much.
It is only through the grace of God that Jonah is still with us today. So join me in giving thanks to Him for the joy that Jonah is, the job God has placed before him and future that lies ahead.
Many of you have asked or wondered how things are going at home. I am happy to share that we have found a tutor who is willing to come to meet with Jonah five days a week. She is a friend, and math teacher, from Waunakee. We still have some hurdles to work through so please keep praying that we can overcome them as we continue forward.
As has been so often in this journey, we are able to take a few steps forward, then we end up taking some steps back. Jonah had recovered from his original stomach infection that sent us back to the hospital, but unfortunately, the infection reoccurred this past week. Committed to not going back to the hospital unless necessary, I told Jonah we would tough it out at home until we had a positive diagnosis and the doctors were able to come up with a game plan.
The infection was nowhere near his leg. So for that, we are thankful. The appointment with his surgeons on Monday proved to be good news on all fronts. We are moving forward and working with orthotics to have him fitted for a boot specifically made for him that will allow us to start therapy to help him learn to walk on his right leg. The nerves continue to regrow and the doctors are encouraged by the responses they saw in his right leg.
It was after returning from the doctor on Monday that Jonah’s infection started to show itself. I spent a few nights on the couch with Jonah to help him stay as comfortable as he could until we could get a positive diagnosis. Our clinic reached out to pediatric infectious disease to come up with a game plan. The unique factor in this reinfection is such that Jonah will remain on medication now for the next month. The infection itself is nowhere in the leg, it’s in his stomach. After consulting with doctors, his clinic, and his pharmacy, we have started him on new meds.
So while today is a reason to give thanks on many fronts, prayers are still needed for Jonah’s continued recovery. It is hard not to worry when you see your child having to struggle through another hurdle after having gone through so much already,
A prayer warrior from Lakeside shared an encouragement with us that I was touched by and I wanted to share it in this update. Jonah is a survivor. But it is not by his strength that he survived the accident. It was only by the grace of God. He is indeed a warrior, for I know of no stronger warrior than he, who has faced so much in his young life. That is not to say that there are not many others out there who have faced similar circumstances. But God has placed Jonah before us to take a true appreciation of just how beautiful life can be in all of its forms and challenges.
Please join me in giving God thanks for the gift of Jonah‘s life and the circumstances that have brought us to this day. Please remember him in your prayers for him to fully recover from the infection he is currently fighting.
Finally, I give thanks to all of you reading this update. You are all warriors who have continued to stand by us. The outpouring of support from all ages as we were searching for a tutor was incredibly humbling and encouraging. To know that there were so many wanting to provide support helped to sustain Jonah as we worked towards getting Jonah reestablished with his studies. It helped to remind us that this is what family does. For we are all part of the family of Christ and we appreciate each and everyone of you for all that you have done.
You are welcome to send Jonah a birthday note if you would like to. He would enjoy reading your notes of encouragement! Please send them to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Oct 21, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
So many folks have often reached out to offer support and encouragement in many different ways. So today, I’m hopeful there might be someone out there who has what we might need and would be in a position to offer their help. While Jonah is recovering he is forced to participate in school virtually. Many of the classes he is able to take are able to work within the confines of him being at home and he can work within them. One that has been proving a challenge and causing an increasing level of anxiety is Math. Algebra 2/Trigonometry to be exact. So before anyone cringes (as I do when I am asked if I can help) this would be an ideal way to provide an essential support to Jonah while he recuperates at home.
Ideally we would like a tutor to come to our home because of Jonah’s significant restrictions for mobility. Perhaps that person is a retired teacher or a college student. Or perhaps there’s someone out there that loves math, understands Algebra 2/Trig and feels called to support Jonah and help him through this time. We would like to have someone available to come 3x a week for about 1.5 hours a day. We can be flexible on time if that’s helpful. This is a paid opportunity as we would be willing to pay you for your time with Jonah as a tutor. We are located in Cottage Grove.
If, after you prayerfully consider if God might be calling you to serve in this capacity, you feel able to do so, please reach out. Please email HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Oct 20, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
So much of this journey has been about baby steps. We started out as hour to hour. Then we moved day to day. During surgeries we were back to hour by hour which seemed to tick by ever so slowly. After we were dealt a set back and readmitted to the hospital, we seemed to lose ground, but what could have been so much worse was again - by the grace of God - a catastrophe avoided. Jonah's infection was not in his leg as they were so concerned about. It could have had detrimental consequences as we worked towards healing. Rather, the infection was brought on by his extended stay in the hospital and his body being run down by the many antibiotics he had to be placed on during his stay there. The infection wasn't in his leg. This time it was in his stomach and GI tract. It was a nasty bug!! He still remains on antibiotics (yes, an oxymoron because it's the antibiotics that caused the problem in the first place and is the thing he needs to overcome the infection he has). We were also on probiotics to counteract the damage done by the meds.
The second homecoming we experienced was joyous in that we were able to have Jonah back in familiar surroundings. Jonah was still recovering from the infection that sent him to the hospital last week. This time, he was a bit anxious, wondering how his stomach would handle things. Thankfully, since our return home late last week we have once again been able to settle into the routine we have come to expect and work through each day. We have settled into a schedule of medicines, school, therapies and visits from friends and loved ones to keep Jonah's spirits up. Those encouragements are vital as Jonah, like all of us would, still has those moments of frustration, despair that leave him exhausted and wondering what the future holds. As friends and teachers who are close to Jonah, please know he'd love a brief visit and a chance to reconnect.
The last few days Jonah has shown extraordinary courage as he begins to tackle the recovery mountain ahead of him. His right leg has to begin the process of rebuilding the muscles remaining in his leg. So many things many of us take for granted he has to relearn. Helping his hamstring muscles (the ones that remain) learn how to lift his leg. Rebuilding the strength of the calf muscles that remain to someday be able to support his weight. His physical therapist uses Jonah's determination to his own advantage in encouraging Jonah to keep working. He is not able to put any weight at all on the right leg so the rest of his body must compensate to help him move.
I've likened every day with his therapist to his own personal track meet. Each track meet he would participate in, he would try to PR. He'd always strive to hit the mark of a new Personal Record. Yes, he was competing against others, but always first against himself, to better himself and his goals, than he had the time before. Now, those goals have never been so important. Each therapy session Michael, his therapist, reminds him of what he did last time and each and every time he has set his own PR in recovery. Jonah puts his whole heart into it. Never has a 'work out' been so difficult or so paramount to Jonah. He does many of the exercises laying down, but they are putting back into motion, getting those muscles that have been recovering for the last 8 weeks, to start firing again. Jonah's session yesterday was exhausting but rewarding. Again, his reward? A new PR from what he had done the time before, constantly encouraging him and motivating him to keep going to see what he can reach for the next time.
With more activity and therapies there has been additional structure to counteracting the nerves starting to talk back to him. Jonah's incredibly brave. One of the bravest I think I've known watching him work through the pain he encounters during therapy as he works on recovery. As from the beginning, his medical team quickly stepped in and began to restructure his meds to help him work through the pain. This allows him rest, to work on recovery, but not to be hindered because of the pain.
Today's update I wanted to show you the incredible progress Jonah continues to make. He is a Warrior down deep in his soul. I know God gives His hardest battles to the warriors who are His strongest soldiers. And that strength has never been so evident as seeing him work through the many hurdles he continues to encounter. Not all hurdles are simply physical. The frustration still remains for mobility. But the mental and emotional hurdles are sometimes huge. Still, Jonah focuses on being positive. When asked recently what he does to stay so positive? His answer? Keep praying.
As I paused to take that in, isn't that really what it boils down to for all of us? To keep praying? Not just when life gets tough. Not just when life feels overwhelming. But to pause and give thanks for all the hurdles we have overcome by His grace. To remain focused on God's will and being His soldier in the ultimate battle plan of life. We are a Warrior family and never so proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with countless other warriors by name (school) or as the family of faith. We have overcome so many hurdles because of God's will to put YOU in our path and on our journey.
So today, as I look back at Jonah's personal records and I take stock in what we have yet to overcome, we are grateful. We are thankful. We are blessed.
Please send notes of encouragement to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Oct 12, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
This was not the update I had hoped to post. We had a week at home, which while it first was scary for Jonah, we had settled in to a good schedule. He had started to see some friends. Even a teacher came by to encourage him. However, it was very much like bringing home a 5‘9“ newborn. The difference was that this newborn was capable of texting or calling when he needed something rather than crying out in the night. Through some trial and error, we were able to come up with a routine that had started to become normal.
Jonah started to have difficulty sleeping over the weekend. While trying to recover, rest—solid, good, and adequate rest—is vital. Sunday morning he woke up very early rather distraught. He was not feeling well and we were not sure of the cause. We followed the routine of getting upstairs to shower because it was also the day to change his leg dressings. His home nurse came to see him and after that dressing change we noticed he was quite pale. As the day went by, he started to become more symptomatic that something was wrong. He had first indicated his heart was racing. I started to track it and he had consistently had a heart rate in the 120s. This was concerning because he wasn’t moving and was only resting in bed. He had indicated he was feeling pretty warm so I took his temperature and when it registered 102.9, I knew something was wrong. I reached out to his doctor who indicated I should pack him up and head for the emergency room. It is helpful in this kind of a situation for the guidance of medical staff. Our doctor called ahead to indicate that we were on the way in and the backstory to his situation so there was very little time to wait when we arrived.
When we were taken back to the emergency room, it was surreal when they led us to the room they had set aside for us. It was the trauma bay Jonah was in when he arrived at the hospital on August 22d, the day of the accident.
When they began to evaluate him, anxiety was running pretty high. We knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know the extent. Plastics and ortho were on hand to evaluate each of their respective areas on Jonah. When they determined that nothing on the outside looked abnormal, the decision was made for additional testing to see what was occurring on the inside. After CT imaging took a look at the leg, they determined that there were two pockets of fluid in the leg and the plan was set into motion to have him admitted.
We were once again put on a schedule of no eating after midnight. Having come to the hospital late in the afternoon, before dinner, it was now approximately 1130 at night. As was the case on the night of his accident, God put into place the people who we needed to be there to help. Thankfully, his dad had some food on him to give something to tide him over. Further, my friend Pam who is a nurse, and was there on the night of the accident, came to our rescue and stepped in to direct me to where I could find food for Jonah so he could quickly get something in his stomach before midnight.
Monday proved to be a very long day. After Sunday’s admission, I finally made it home after 1:30 in the morning and proceeded to pack up items that he would need in the hospital. Getting Noah off to school early the next morning meant I was running on very little gasoline, physical or spiritual.
The day seemed to drag on for us while we waited for interventional radiology to collect fluid from the two pockets on the right leg. We had also been told he tested positive for a nasty G.I. bug typical with patients on extended stays in the hospital taking antibiotics. It left Jonah distraught and tired. Together with being unable to eat, left him emotionally worn out.
After the procedure was done, initial review gave us hopeful news. The fluid collected looked clear and they were going to set it up for infectious disease to incubate the specimens to see if any bacteria would grow.
Jonah was finally able to get decent rest Monday night to continue recovering. A blessing, which we look for no matter large or small, came in the form of familiar faces that Jonah had come to call friends and caregivers during his stay there. As it happened to be some of his favorite care staff were working overnight and into the next couple days, so Jonah was able to be comforted by those he came to like so much during his stay the first time.
Right now, as it stands, we anticipate his hospital stay will certainly be shorter than it was the last time. However, I am uncertain when a discharge date will be suggested.
It has been difficult to find peace. And yet we seek to find those things that bring comfort in whatever form. As was the case the first time, God set into motion people who we needed to provide comfort. We take refuge in that blessing. We know there are continuous prayer warriors near and far continuing to lift his name up for strength, patience, healing, and peace.
During one of Jonah‘s distraught moments I had reason to remind him that God‘s will has brought us to this moment. And it is God‘s strength that will sustain us to get through it. After he was admitted, Jonah reached out to one of his teachers who came to visit it him while we were home. What Coach Sievert asked brought a smile to Jonah‘s face. His teacher asked him by text “what is it that God blessed you with today?”
It is not often we seek to find the blessing amidst trials and periods of strife. We seek God only wanting immediate relief, and to remove us from the situation. And as our family has come to learn, it is through those periods of strife that we truly see the beauty of God’s design for our lives. Do we know the outcome of how this will end? No. But we do not need to know how it ends to know it will be for our good.
There was a devotional that was shared with Jonah and I, that I keep coming back to. It repeatedly reminds me of God’s grace, His glory and never ending love. There are never accidents when it comes to God’s plan. We certainly didn’t fall off His enormous radar just because we arrived home. Instead, I know God’s plan is for the good of so many others beyond just our family.
In Philippians 1:12 it is written, “I want you to know brothers and sisters, that the things which happened to me actually took place to advance the gospel.” So while I would have wished to avoid the road God has placed us on, I also know that Jonah is aware that it is part of God’s plan. And it is in that knowledge, that we find the comfort to look forward to tomorrow. To be privileged to be part of His plan, wherever it may lead.
When darkness tries to roll over my bones,
When sorrow comes to steal the joy that I own,
When brokenness and pain is all that I know,
I won’t be shaken. No, I won’t be shaken.
‘Cuz my fear doesn’t stand a chance
when I stand in the power of Your love.
I am standing on the Rock
When I’m standing in your love,
My Firm Foundation.
—(“Stand In Your Love”, by Josh Baldwin)
Send a note of encouragement to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com Rita and Jonah read all the messages you send. It brings them joy to hear from you.
A Bump in the Road
Posted Oct 12, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Jonah is back in the hospital. He developed a fever over the weekend. He went to the hospital on Sunday night to be evaluated. They found two pockets of infected fluid. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors and medical staff. Please also pray for Jonah and his family as they deal with this bump in the road.
Thank you for praying and supporting Jonah.
If you want to send a note of encouragement, please email HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Oct 3, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
While Jonah will be unable to participate with the homecoming celebrations at Lakeside Lutheran this week, Jonah was able to celebrate a homecoming of his own. Today so many prayers were answered. Today, Jonah came home.
Today’s post will be shorter than others as things have been much busier today getting released from the hospital and settling in to this next phase.
I would be remiss if I could not thank each of you individually for all you have done in lifting his name up to get us to this place. Six weeks ago to the day we did not know how it would look at this point in time. It is only by the grace of God that we are able to celebrate the beautiful homecoming we did.
Jonah was beyond happy to be reunited with his brother after being separated for six weeks. He still tires easily so it will take some time for him to settle in to this new adjustment.
God is good.
God will provide.
God will heal all things in His time.
Rejoice with us as we give thanks for this momentous day!
I will continue to post updates on his progress. I am excited to see where God continues to use Jonah in his journey.
A BIG Thank You to Miles of Smiles https://www.milesofsmilesyards.com/ for the amazing yard sign welcoming Jonah home. Jonah loved seeing the personalized sign in his yard as he arrived home today. He had a HUGE smile on his face!
If you would like to send Jonah or his family a note of encouragement or simply say hello, please email them at HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
We will be posting requests for meals to be delivered.
Thank you for blessing the Heyerholm family!
Posted Sep 29, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
A Positive…No need for surgery on Friday. Another positive, the shirt he got as a gift from friends of the hospital. A total boost!
But being in the sun for the first time in five weeks? Priceless!❤️❤️❤️
Posted Sep 28, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
There are so many steps. Steps a toddler makes to gain confidence in walking. Steps a teenager makes to gain confidence in driving. Today we took steps to bring Jonah home.
Jonah was able to enter surgery in a timely manner. It is always a question of whether surgery is on time, especially for a teenage boy who has no food or water after midnight. He was able to consume some fluids in order to take medicine, but it is a slim margin of comfort when you are used to you eating breakfast and you don’t have surgery scheduled until noon
When we arrive in preop, we are always met by certain teams. We are met by anesthesia, nurses, as well as those who will oversee the operation. Today we had an impromptu “career day”. It was something to pass the time and it was an absolute godsend for those who were willing to share their time for Jonah to ask questions. Those questions came in fast succession and covered everything from education to cost to time investment. It is a true blessing for Jonah to appreciate those in the healthcare field, and for him to appreciate and consider the blessing that might come from an otherwise difficult time in his life.
Today’s surgery was considered a success. The multiple areas of healing are extremely positive. The doctor even considered Jonah ahead of the curve for graft healing. While Jonah remains on a very targeted antibiotic, the area where the culture was taken is clean. This is a huge hurdle for Jonah to overcome in terms of continued steps in the right direction.
The VAC was removed. It served its purpose in setting his leg up for continued healing. Dressings were applied and while there may be minor loss of fluid, they anticipate he will continue to progress and be one step closer to home.
Still, it was another bitter pill for Jonah to swallow as he considers that he will remain in the hospital for at least another week. He will remain on antibiotics via IV for the next six days. The targeted antibiotic is necessary and helpful to remove the infection that set in with a blood clot during the last surgery.
Despite the news that so much success happened in today’s surgery, he was disheartened by news that he will head into surgery again on Friday. Friday will be mainly about ortho. They will hopefully put into motion plans to set the right leg, which sustained the most damage, for ultimate healing and functionality.
It has been remarkable the healing that Jonah‘s body has sustained in these last days and weeks to set us up for the conversation we will have tomorrow. Tomorrow is a care meeting for all groups involved in Jonah’s care to come together and consider what might be necessary for his release from the hospital. While exciting to consider, it is also daunting. As the physical body heals, we can see its progress, but the emotional progress is entirely different.
We pray for continued steps forward after tomorrow’s meeting. And we pray for continued healing for Jonah in the days leading up to Friday’s surgery. And we pray for ortho as they will be taking the lead to consider the best course of action for setting his leg in place for the best healing opportunity. Probably a week from now, Jonah could be home. While exciting, it comes with its own special challenges.
Give thanks! While we are days away, so much has happened to set us up for so many opportunities that did not exist a week ago. A friend reached out and graciously offered a hospital bed. Another, reached out and indicated they had an outdoor home wheelchair ramp. This is a lifeline for Jonah to be able to resume seeing friends, be part of the outdoors that he loves, and grab some fresh air when he chooses. With so many parts coming into alignment, how could one not question the hand of God at work?!
Again, as I have indicated in the past -- while one may not know the future, we need not question whose hand holds the future.
Give thanks…we needed Him then, we need Him now, we need Him always.
God bless you, our family in Christ….
Would you like to send a note of encouragement to Jonah or his family? Please email them at HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Sep 27, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
We have been given the go-ahead for surgery tomorrow. After the blood clot was found during last Thursday's surgery, they cultured the specimen which revealed there is an infection growing. The antibiotics that Jonah had been on after the skin grafting were not for any active infection, but preventative for infection of the grafting area. They have stopped that round of antibiotics and starting now, infectious disease has begun an aggressive treatment of antibiotics specifically targeted at Jonah's current infection. This antibiotic is not without side effects. We will be struggling to maintain his appetite, as well as other side effects. They will be drawing labs in an effort to mark where Jonah’s blood counts are, all in an effort to be as proactive as possible in countermeasures.
If all goes well, tomorrow is a milestone in and of itself. Tomorrow, the doctors plan to remove the VAC system from the right leg. This is a positive step which shows that the wounds on the back of his leg continue to settle in and heal. We do not know what the future holds in terms of locking in a date for release from the hospital. It’s almost like if I try to nail the moving target of a release date, God may toss a curve ball our way to remind us to rely on Him for the future, rather than our own knowledge. So I try not to remain focused on trying to gauge things too often, but rather leave it up to Him to show us in His time when He is ready. We are five weeks ready to go home, but we could potentially be home sometime next week. Again, that’s a moving target, depending on what the surgery tomorrow shows, Jonah’s reaction to the antibiotics over these next days, and the lab results.
If all goes well, SO MANY answered prayers of getting Jonah home will be answered. But as this infection has shown, we are not out of the woods yet.
Please continue to pray for guidance for the medical staff to help Jonah overcome this hurdle. Please pray for health that the antibiotics are effective but not too hard on Jonah so that he can manage while taking them.
Please pray for hope and peace and that tomorrow goes without any side steps.
Please give thanks to God, the ultimate healer, who is watching, guiding and healing us on this journey. In so many ways, we are only beginning. And while we will often be in the tunnel, we are seeking the light at the end of this tunnel. The one that consists of getting us out of the hospital. We pray that light is getting brighter with each day that passes this week.
To all of you out there reading this - thank you prayer warriors. We feel your encouragement from near and far. We have been comforted by His Word which sustains us and by the words and hugs (some virtual) from so many brothers and sisters in Christ who uplift us with their kindness to stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we go through this journey. It strengthens us. We thank you humbly but deeply.
Posted Sep 23, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Side step. The very non-medical definition I am applying to today's post. It is basically a non-step. It's not a step forward but not really a step back.
Our doctor, Jonah's surgeon, had indicated at the outset of our journey that we would be taking many steps. Some would be forward, and hopefully the steps back would be minimal. However, there would be other steps taken. Ones that would be considered side steps. Steps where medical staff would stop, assess and then reassess. Today, we encountered a side step.
In the days leading up to today's surgery, one of the multitude of cultures taken on specimens from Jonah (from blood to tissue) came back positive for infection. They were cautious about the origin of the infection because Jonah was otherwise non-symptomatic. The graft site (the left leg) remained free from any concern. They would review the right leg without any dressing to assess whether the graft was taking. If there was infection the graft would not take.
Jonah's surgeon was extremely pleased with the grafting of the right leg. He was going to consider the skin graft a success if he had 70% or higher that was doing well. Miraculously, he assessed Jonah as having had about a 90-95% success rate. The leg continues to heal well and the grafting area continues to do the same.
While doctors were reviewing the right leg they found something they were not expecting and had fervently hoped to avoid. A blood clot. Blood clots are breeding grounds for infection. Further, Jonah's right leg has only one artery supplying blood from the knee to the foot. A blood clot, depending on location, could create a monumental hurdle for blood supply to his foot. While plastics was reviewing the situation, they also called in vascular to review and assess. Together, they decided the blood clot was a side branch clot and not of major concern. Vascular scrubbed in and then reviewed the vessels and stitched up the vein. However, due to the situation, a positive infection and now ensuing blood clot that developed over the last couple days, they have resumed checking his foot for heart tones every two hours.
The vigilance of his surgical team is nothing short of unbelievable and outstanding. Without hesitation I call it miraculous. This surgeon who wasn't looking for a clot since Jonah's on blood thinners to prevent a serious one, but yet his urging and dedication to the profession and treating Jonah as if he was his own son, made him take the time to review everything. Without his surgeon's review of all work done and being done, it's very possible the clot could have been missed.
Again, we have a side step. It's not a step back. They found the clot, they corrected the situation and he's on antibiotics from the graft to prevent infection. However, they are still analyzing the positive infection culture to determine what specifically they are dealing with and if there's true cause for alarm. The worst case scenario would be Jonah developing resistance to an antibiotic so they are very specific about how to treat him.
What does today show me? If I ever thought we were out of the woods, God has once again caused me to turn around to remind me of my total reliance on Him. Nothing can happen without the will of God making it so. Yet rather than causing fear or worry, I seek to find peace. Thankfully, we don't have to know what the future holds because we know who holds the future.
What else does today show me? I'm not nearly as strong alone as I am knowing God is with us. Interceding for us when fear overcomes.
I wanted to share with the many prayers warriors something profoundly comforting and shows the work of God so clearly involved. Jonah is a high school junior and was confirmed a few years ago now. His bible verse for confirmation was "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the Crown of Life." Rev. 2:10. What is so profound, is the full verse is actually this: "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the Crown of Life."
I believe in my heart no truer message could have been chosen for Jonah, with God knowing the path He had laid out for him. He made Jonah, made with a heart for God. Jonah said in the ER that night he wasn't afraid. He knew he was going to be okay. But God knew that Jonah would suffer. He knew he would encounter a prison (a hospital bed and who knows what else) for much longer than 10 days. Yet Jonah maintains being faithful and since that day even more so.
I am humbled. I am amazed. Our God who inspired His word to be written so many years ago still speaks...sometimes so loudly it's impossible to ignore. And I needed to hear Him tonight, loud and clear. As we deal with the fear of not knowing the future and the future side steps we may encounter, we need Him. We all need Him.
Lord, I need You, oh I need You, Every hour, I need You
My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need You.
(Matt Maher, "Lord, I need you") https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuvfMDhTyMA
Prayer warriors, I believe you know what I would ask you to put on your heart tonight as you lift his name up. Healing first and foremost. Freedom from infection. Steps forward that we might truly envision the day when Jonah comes home. Secondly, I'd ask for peace, comfort and just enough light for the step we are on.
Want to send a note of encouragement or a message? Please email HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Run the Race
Posted Sep 19, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Four weeks ago today, at about this same time, I was getting word that life as we knew it was about to change drastically.
I remember driving to the hospital, praying without ceasing that Jonah would be OK. We didn’t know how bad it was, and looking back over the time passed, some things have changed some things haven’t.
I still pray without ceasing. Jonah continues to recover from a super serious accident. And while those things have not changed, one thing more important that has changed is Jonah’s attitude and continued determination have only increased.
He had a really great night overnight. He got a good nights sleep and seems to be more in control of the pain from the grafting. His spirits are much higher, though he continues to be pretty tired. This is completely expected as his body continues to recover from wounds now on both legs.
Today has been quiet except for physical therapy. Tomorrow we expect more of the same except we will also be starting school again. We look forward during this week to continued healing and another surgery on Thursday. They will look at the grafting and change out the vac system. We do not know what to expect beyond that as much will depend on what they see Thursday.
Thank you prayer warriors for your continuous prayers and support. Our journey of recovery continues to be one of physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental. It is all of these parts together that consist of his road to recovery. One cannot be accomplished without the others involved. Some are harder than others. Please continue to ask our heavenly father for the strength that has never failed us while on this journey. It is that strength from which Jonah draws his sense of patience, determination and perseverance.
Jonah still has his down moments but he has the gift of insight that many his age have not yet gained. He continually amazes me and his dad, as well as his doctors, with his attitude towards recovery. He is beginning to understand that when he does have his down moments it is often times because he is tired. Being aware of it helps him remember that the temporary feeling will go away.
As we look towards this next week, please pray for patience and perseverance. Strength and determination are also needed as we come closer to considering Jonah being home with us. Please also give thanks to the ultimate healer. These last few days have been the greatest amount of pain he has struggled with so far and we have come this far. Our God saw us through it. We are in a marathon, as I have said before, and we will continue on, to run the race set before us.
If you want to send Jonah a note of encouragement, please email him at HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Strength through the Pain
Posted Sep 18, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
This most recent update was hard to post. Forgive my delay in doing so. So much of our journey we have had the strength to stay strong, remain focused on the prize, and stay the course. We have felt the prayers of so many warriors lifting our name up for strength. We have felt His strength when we have been worried or afraid. Yet, we have struggled.
Thursday's surgery was difficult. We knew it would be difficult. But nothing truly prepares you for the difficulty of watching someone you love struggle. Not just with pain. Yes, pain is the largest component, but it's more than that. For the time being, Jonah's mobility is even more limited. During Thursday's surgery they added a brace to the right leg to restrict the knee from bending in any way. Indeed, there can be no movement at all. The area behind the knee must set up properly for the graft to take and in order to do so, there can be no movement. Ortho also replaced the cast on the left ankle that must remain for another 3 weeks. Jonah is not able to put any weight on the left leg until the heel bone heals up. Thursday was a hurdle in grafting, but it also restricts him even more.
Friday left Jonah tired and hurting. The cast from Thursday was not set well on the left foot and he had a fair degree of pain overnight and into the start of the next day. After an early morning consult, the decision was to cut open the cast. They found the pressure point that was creating the pain and Jonah felt immediate relief. They re-casted the leg again over the existing cast. For anyone who has ever struggled with a cast, they know the weight of one. Jonah's is now even heavier than normal. The tech commented that the thickness was more than it would be otherwise to start with. But, rather than starting with a cast from scratch, they simply casted over what was there to reinforce over the cuts made in the cast. Friday morning also had the plastics team come in to remove the dressing from the grafting area. Jonah struggled with pain so great it took his breath away. Tears slipped down his face while he tried to cope and I sobbed with him, helpless, except to hold his hand.
Friday afternoon, Jonah was struggling with pain, trying to manage it through over the counter meds and some breathing techniques he had learned. By early evening, he still had not gotten ahead of it. It left his spirit broken, his heart hurting as much as his body, and after a day of unrelenting pain, he was exhausted. Despite his medical team's forewarning of what to expect from grafting, nothing prepares you for it. Not as the patient. Certainly not as the parent.
By the time Jonah finally relented to pain intervention, he was super tired. Jonah's highlight of the day was speaking with his track coach, Coach Sievert. It lifted his heart, connected him with those who are praying for him and those who care for him deeply. It was the best medicine he could have hoped for. Thankfully he ate well, so he was able to settle down Friday night after meds for a quiet night. His nursing staff (#RockStars) adjusted his vitals so they didn't have to check on him overnight to give him as much rest as possible.
Today (Saturday) he felt better after a good night's rest. After breakfast and meds, he is once again sleeping, which is what he needs most. His mood lifted knowing he didn't have school, he was able to opt out of physical therapy and he looks forward today to just 'chillin,' watching football.
His surgeons indicated again "he is doing awesome." I told Jonah to hold onto that morsel of encouragement when he's struggling. I think it helped him, hearing from those who have seen this from the start, way back 4 weeks ago come tomorrow (Sunday).
This morning when Jonah felt low, he pulled up his phone to listen to tidbits of God's word for encouragement. He wasn't prompted. He reached out for that encouragement and I know God gave to him the words that Jonah's heart needed to hear.
There's a song that I hear Jonah listening to often. Lincoln Brewster wrote the song (aptly named) "MADE NEW". Jonah draws strength from it. His Dad and I both have. I hope you do too...
You're calling me over
You're pulling me close
With love you surround me
You give me hope.
You're making me stronger,
You're healing my heart
With Your hands You hold me
You set me apart.
You are my salvation, I will not fear
You're the strength of my life, I won't fear
You hold my head up,
You remind me who I am.
I'm alive in you, I'm made new. Because of You.
If you want to send an encouraging note to Jonah or his family, please email them at
HeyJonah2021@gmail.com They would love to hear from you.
Posted Sep 16, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Today’s post is reason for hope. We have been graciously blessed by friends who have shared items of jewelry with one singular word: hope. And it is in that word that tonight I place a lot of focus.
Jonah was ready for surgery. We were scheduled for 10 AM and thankfully all signs indicated that it would go on time. Jonah was more concerned about the surgery than others because he knew there would be the likelihood of a high degree of pain.
Jonah has showed amazing strength in this journey and I know it is not entirely that from what he pulls from himself. The strength he has gained and continues to show is nothing short of miraculous. The prayer warriors all around have continued to be vigilant in lifting his name up. Jonah has felt the outpouring of support that when he cannot be strong, they are strong for him. God provided him with the strength he needed to make it through surgery today. We focused on prayer both before we ended the night and before we headed into surgery this morning.
Surgery today consisted of grafting from the left leg thigh area. He certainly felt it as he came out of surgery this afternoon. The medical team remain vigilant in monitoring and being proactive in staying ahead of the pain while Jonah continued to recover from the anesthesia.
The grafting that took place is hopefully the only grafting he will have to endure. The tissue of the injuries he sustained continues to look healthy and the doctors are incredibly pleased. If you look at how far he has come and the incredible risk his body endured in this journey to get us to this point again, all thanks belong only to God.
Ortho stepped in to remove the cast on the left leg. They wanted to remove the stitches from the heel wound. However, it does not mean that he he’s out of the woods. Instead, they have re-casted the left leg below the knee so that the heel bone heals appropriately. Given that he will have to put a majority of his weight on that leg while his right leg continues to heal, ortho felt it imperative that they protect the left ankle from Jonah using it prematurely.
Jonah will likely remain in the hospital for at least a week or more. He will continue healing with the vac system in place. He will also now remain on antibiotics for a week to protect his body from any infection that might arise.
He will return to surgery at least one more time with the vac system to be replaced. These next few days will be difficult. We have a full arsenal of medicine for pain relief, but it will be the most pain he has been in since the original accident.
Please continue to keep him in your prayers for strength. He has shown incredible resilience in fighting to get through to the other side of this hurdle. It is not something he wanted to go through, but with strength that is greater than his own, he faced it with strength, resolve, and determination.
For someone only 16 years old, I am continually amazed at the strength of not only his body, but also of his heart. We have come this far, and I pray without infection, we are closer to crossing over the hurdle.
The next few days will be trying for him. After the dressing comes off we will be using hairdryers and fans to help the area of grafting heal. The hope is that we return to surgery again next week so that they can do a VAC change and discuss the next steps. They applied a brace to the right leg to prevent any movement of his knee. The area behind his knee must set up in order for the graft to take, and minimal movement is allowed. That, combined with his left ankle in another cast, further restricts Jonah’s movement while already confined to the bed.
Prayer warriors: strength, patience, continued determination and perseverance are needed for our family. As in a marathon, starting out fast and furious is never where we truly win the race. But I would ask that you please keep him on your heart into the next coming days for him to find some rest for healing.
We encourage you to send notes of encouragement to Jonah and his family. Please email HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
They read every message that comes in. Your cards, gifts, and emails are all seen by Jonah and his family.
Posted Sep 15, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
It is with joy in my heart that I relay the news that we have been hopeful for and prayerful about. Jonah‘s surgery yesterday to replace the VAC was successful. The doctors were pleased with how the tissue is settling in and have indicated he is ready for grafting.
While every day in the hospital has seemed to be it’s own month, it is a miraculous joy that we have officially completed the 1st mile of our marathon. Give thanks to the ultimate healer!! Tomorrow Jonah will go in for skin grafting. It is not a process without pain. His doctors have explained that it is like wiping out on the road wearing nothing but your underwear. While it is somewhat comical to imagine, the pain will be all too real.
My heart, while full of joy that we are now to this step, is also heavy contemplating more pain that Jonah will have to endure on top of what he already has.
I have been continuously humbled by the outpouring of support that Jonah has continued to receive on this journey. As we look to tomorrow, it was comforting for Jonah to receive the care package from his homeroom classmates at Lakeside. Notes of encouragement, some well appreciated snacks, and devotions to help him maintain his eyes on God. He also received a box of cookies meant to provide encouragement as much as they are meant to satisfy his sweet tooth! Tonight’s picture is a glimpse of those treats.
Prayer warriors, you have faithfully stood by us in thought, by email, by hugs from those we know and those we are just meeting for the first time. Please pray for strength. This is a process we must go through and with the strength and perseverance of one greater than us we will go forth in faith. It is times like this when the pain, the fear, and the helplessness descend on you and almost paralyze you from being able to take the step you know you need to take. It is an ever present reassurance when I know it is in those moments that we simply need to close our eyes reach out our hand and the hand of our Savior grabs hold to help take that step forward.
Please send forth prayers to heaven for perseverance and patience. Jonah is determined, though he knows the road is painful. Please keep his name on your heart tonight and tomorrow as we get ready for what may hopefully be the last surgery he has to endure for some time.
Our lives are never really just our own. Our life is a gift and what we choose to do with that life is the gift we return to God. In times of difficulty, tragedy, and great pain, it is reassuring to remember that while our life is not about us, our lives are truly all about God. We remain steadfast in the knowledge that He will use this for His glory.
When I look back at all that has happened, and remain confident of what He can still do, I know He already has.
Expect the Unexpected
Posted Sep 13, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
First of all, let me start by saying it’s not a scary thing that I’m posting with that title. Instead, it is to simply stop and take stock in the unexpected people and things that happen while on this journey.
Jonah continues to be stable although he is encountering more pain. We remain vigilant to help him work through it. We have also encountered hurdles that are simply a side effect of our time spent in the hospital. The hospital never really experiences down time. It’s never really closed, the lights are never off, and the people are always on site. Being limited to a bed can create a situation where you start to switch your days and nights. You find yourself dozing off during the day, to be more awake when you would normally sleep, and you end up staying up later and later into the night. We are working to keep Jonah from slipping into that mindset—although as a teenager, staying up late is certainly easier than it is for his parents!
Something else unexpected is the gracious kindness of total strangers. It was Saturday night and Jonah and I were hanging out. Jonah is on a high protein, high calorie diet and quite honestly, he gets tired of hospital food. Thanks to the gracious outpouring of food cards and gift certificates for GrubHub and other meal delivery companies, we have been able to keep his appetite thriving by basically offering him anything he might be hungry for. Saturday night, we utilized one of these meal delivery systems and it completely fell apart. The meal was not delivered to us even though we checked multiple places in the hospital. So I contacted the restaurant we had ordered from and it was there that the kindness and selflessness of the manager made me take stock in the unexpected gifts of strangers.
When I contacted the manager to relay what had happened, he asked his staff to fire the grills to remake our meal, despite the fact that his store was closing. He personally delivered that meal to us and furthermore delivered a gift for Jonah specifically with a note to encourage him to stay strong. That man got a very personal note of appreciation from Jonah, but he truly has no idea of the kindness he bestowed on us. He showed to Jonah that kindness exists and it doesn’t have to be provided to someone you know and have a relationship with. It’s a lesson I believe Jonah will take to heart to pay forward.
Another unexpected event happened on Sunday morning when Jonah and I were listening to the live stream of the church service. We were watching on my laptop when a nurse walked in and commented that he felt goosebumps, big time goosebumps! When he asked what it was that we were up to, we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and commented the we were simply attending church. Another unexpected moment, it reaffirmed that God sends the expected with His word, and sometimes he sends the unexpected with strangers.
Jonah is learning to appreciate all the little things that have happened during his stay here in the hospital. It is a blessing for us to see them and it is an affirmation that we do not walk alone.
Tomorrow, we return to surgery yet again. It is another milestone for us to contemplate the next step. If the surgeons like what they see, they will replace the vac system and on Thursday, he will go in for skin grafting. Please keep Jonah in your prayers that tomorrow sets him up for the next step. Please pray for strength and guidance, patience and perseverance.
As you go about your day, and your week, I would ask you to also notice the little things that happen in your life. As we have come to learn, expect the unexpected.
PS: Wondering about the restaurant? The Shake Shack on Midvale.
Posted Sep 11, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
As parents, John and I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions. From the original shock, to the ensuing horror of realizing the road ahead, it's been a journey any parent would pray never happens to them.
It's in those times when I remind myself the path God has us on is for very good reason. The full outcome of the accident is still unknown. The full extent of recovery is likely years down the road. And it is because of that realization, I have come to appreciate each and every milestone in the middle. Jonah's working with tutors in the hospital to help him with his math classes at Lakeside. Therapies to help him maintain strength and learn how to function when he's released. Music therapies to help him pass the time. Attached is a recent 'jam session' held with the music coordinator....yes, that's a ukulele.
Yesterday's surgery was thankfully 'routine.' I hate that word. But after 9+ surgeries and more to come, it is the life we live right now. The doctors were once again looking at the leg to be sure all continued to look healthy and they were pleased with what they saw. Seeing healthy tissue settling into place helps them consider the next stage of recovery.
The VAC system provides the mechanism for the fluid that comes from an injury like this to safely be drained from the body. It's another level to reduce the risk of infection. They have tubes hooked up to the leg from behind the knee and the other draining from the hamstring area. Yesterday, they added another drain. This drain is a negative pressure 'grenade' vac. Basically it's an oval ball the size and shape of a hand grenade with a tube coming out of it. The ball is compressed and then allows the tube to pull the fluid from the area connected to it. When the ball is full of fluid, it resumes normal shape so it is then drained, all the air squeezed out, plugged up and the process continues. The tube is now in place on the lower leg/calf area to drain fluid. The fluid accumulated in the area because it has no place to drain to. The lower leg has no further open wounds, they have been stitched up, and now with the resulting fluid, the grenade vac was added to remove the fluid from that lower leg to further reduce risk.
Ortho surgeons who have been following Jonah's care and recovery were in the surgery room yesterday as well. They also are incredibly pleased with progress.
Tuesday's surgery coming up will be the final check to be sure if the leg is ready for skin grafting. The amount of fluid draining from the leg must be at a low number that surgeons feel is safe to proceed. If they are confident moving forward, Thursday they anticipate skin grafting. If not, they will reevaluate to reconsider when that time could be.
While meeting with our plastic surgeon, we discussed how far Jonah has come. I have come to respect him more and more, and yesterday I was able to see a glimpse of the human being gifted with so much talent and even more so, compassion. I discussed with him the fact that I had been in the ER when Jonah was there and being assessed. I saw the injury to the leg and it is a memory I will have to the end of my days. You can never 'unsee' it. However, you CAN learn to heal from it. On Friday, the surgeon, Dr. Bentz, gave me such a gift. I knew in my mind the horror of the accident. But with Jonah's leg in constant dressing you don't really 'see' it. Quite honestly, I lack the knowledge to know what 'good' looks like to a surgeon. However, the picture I was able to see of the injury without dressing (the vac was in place of course) was nothing short of miraculous.
The picture took my breath away and immediately took my memory back to that night in the ER. But seeing this picture of recovery and the incredible steps these surgeons have taken, gave me even greater HOPE. Hope for something relating to functionality, Hope for healing of his mind, heart AND body, Hope for moving forward with more light at the end of the tunnel. It was very emotional for me to see that picture, but I needed it to see beyond the one that existed in my memory. Through my tears, the doctor hugged me and assured me we are moving in the right direction.
And that is why once more, I take stock of the blessings on this journey. I am humbled more every day that God interacts with our family in very human ways. Doctors, the best in the industry, who work on him and follow his recovery. Resident doctors (Dr. Dev and others) who have befriended Jonah, who reconnect in unlikely places like pre-op and post-op. Nursing staff who reach out to reconnect from the places he has visited in the past (Leah from the PICU). Operating Room staff who he has seen during his many visits there who know him, interact with him, laugh with him and allow him to be gregarious with them...he has a running record to see how long he can hold out before he finally goes 'under' before the procedure. It's jokes like these that keeps the mood light.
Most importantly, all the medical staff who see Jonah appreciate and admire the young man he is, and the enormous road he faces, can also see he does so knowing he does not walk that road alone. God has walked each and every minute of this road with us. He has provided persons to provide strength: From each of our families, to our work 'families,' to Jonah and Noah's school 'families', to the enormous army of prayer warriors all around continuing to lift his name up to our Heavenly Father. He has heard our prayers as we continue this journey.
As we look to the next steps - more prayers are needed. The phase coming up, while necessary, will also be painful. It is a step I do not look forward to knowing how much he has already endured.
So I ask specifically to lift his name up for strength. Jonah will need it so much. His dad and I will need it, as we see him struggle and work to do what we can to minimize his pain. The doctors will need it to help Jonah move to the next step in recovery.
Please pray for patience. It is hard to watch and wait for God's plan to unfold. It is hard to wait when we have been here in the hospital for 3 weeks tomorrow. It's even harder to wait when we start to see the glimpse of discharge.
Please pray for perseverance. Jonah's road to recovery is a long one. It's not a sprint he so often participated in during his track season. This is a marathon. And we have only begun the race. Quite literally, we are roughly in the first half mile.
Please pray for peace. Jonah's heart was so heavy when I told him the news that his dog Lambeau, "Beau" for short, had passed. With all that is on his heart, and mine, it broke a little more sharing that news. Jonah, unable to say goodbye and Lambeau, unable to stay, was a sad day to be sure.
I do not find myself asking God 'why' however. For His will shall be done and this journey is part of the plan. But I do ask the Lord for 'when'. Because I know in His good time He will answer and the answer will be better than I could have hoped for.
Rita John Jonah and Noah
Posted Sep 10, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
It has thankfully been a quiet one as we had a chance to settle into another day yesterday without surgery. Today he is headed back to surgery. There, they will change out the vac on the upper and lower leg. It is expected to be routine. The doctors are pleased with the process. He is not working with physical therapy to move a lot of his right leg as they want the back of the leg behind the knee to set up for ultimate grafting. In order to do that the tissue needs to settle in place. Jonah‘s day is plenty busy however. He has regular visits with physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, and a tutor. That combined with the regular check ups for vitals and doctor visits leave him with a rather active day.
Prayer warriors, you have lifted us up continuously. Please remember Jonah, John and I, and especially Noah in your prayers. Jonah and Noah are thankfully able to stay connected with FaceTime, but there is certainly a deep brotherly love for they miss each other and that connection time they had. Please pray for continued health, free from infection, and continued healing.
Jonah‘s wins list consisted of seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
We are all holding on to that hope tonight.
Goodbye to Lambeau
Posted Sep 9, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Many people have asked about their dog Lambeau. We are heartbroken that Jonah was not able to say goodbye, but thankful that they all had so many wonderful years with him.
We had to wait some time before posting this because we had not told Jonah due to the accident. But in the midst of so much pain in dealing with Jonah, we also had more heartache when we had to say goodbye to our much beloved Lambeau. He gave it all he had, but in the end, we had to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge. We love and will miss you dearly…RIP
Praise You in the Storm
Posted Sep 7, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Today's surgery took place on time. The surgery went well, in fact it was shorter than the others. They discussed with Jonah the new method of sedation they were going to use to minimize putting him under full anesthesia with intubation. It was welcome news to Jonah considering how many surgeries he'd already gone through, but it left him worried and wondering how much he would actually hear and feel. Thankfully, again the medical team working on him was outstanding and gave him enough that Jonah went to sleep and thankfully never heard or felt a thing. The sedation was easier on him this time around.
After he came to, we were taken back by the storm that rolled through Madison late Tuesday morning. We saw it approaching and had a unique birds' eye view of it rolling through Madison. It took me back to the song by Casting Crowns - I will Praise You in this Storm. As you all know, Jonah finds a lot of comfort and strength in music and this song was one that touched him. If you haven't listened to it lately, find it and take a listen. If you are touched by it as Jonah was - lift a prayer with his name on it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YUGwUgBvTU
The physical aspect of surgery has settled into a good balance of what we had expected. A new update for the healing front is when they replaced the vac on the leg, they actually installed a second one. So now he has two vacs, one located on the upper and the other on the lower leg. The hope is to get the fluid drained out, readying it for grafting which should take place in about a week and a half. All of this is simply projection and nothing is concrete. We have come to simply plan no further than the surgery ahead of us. That next surgery will come Friday.
As has been the case so often, friends of Jonah's have offered gifts to help Jonah pass the time. They have also sent gifts with a humorous side to help Jonah keep his spirits up. Jonah's spirits remain on somewhat of a roller coaster as he struggles with continuous pain and missing his friends and loved ones. A chance to receive a gift helps bring a smile. Today's picture update is a picture of just such a gift he recently received. I know he will wear it often when he's released from the hospital and back to wearing normal clothes on a regular basis. It has brought many chuckles to the nurses caring for him.
Today's focus has been positive. We have begun working with teachers to get him reestablished with learning and attending classes. He has the opportunity to meet with teachers provided by the UW right in his hospital room. He can learn the assignments provided by his Lakeside teachers, but with a tutor by his side to help him with the concepts. He has regular physical therapy sessions now, and together with counseling it actually leaves him with an active day. It's even more so on days when he has surgery.
One of the things we are working on for Jonah is to each day make a WINS LIST. This list is an inventory of the things for which we are grateful today. That's it - just in the day - today, the one the Lord has given us. It helps us when the roller coaster drops and we find ourselves needing to take stock of what we accomplished in prior days.
Today, our wins list is many. Our surgery was light and less scary, while another step was taken by adding the second vac. We have friends and caring connections helping provide us with meals which is a grateful respite when running back and forth to the hospital. And today I was visited by a friend from my office. It was a brief visit as Jonah had just gotten out of surgery and he was recovering in his room. She wanted to offer a brief moment of encouragement and comfort. As a mom who spends a fair amount of time at AFCH, her thoughtfulness warmed my heart. As I was leaving to get back upstairs, I hugged her goodbye and got ready to part ways. Her sweetheart of a little 3 year old boy, Dylan, asked to join in a group hug and I was able to bend down to where he gave me the sweetest hug I think I have ever had. It gives me pause to see this little boy, with health struggles of his own, full of love and life. It gave me pause to look at my own son and know God has brought us to this and He will bring us through this. Dylan's hug gave me HOPE.
And with that hope, it brings smiles. Smiles brought on by the humor we have to keep. Humor that helps us ride out the storm, where we will praise Him still.
If you want to send a note of encouragement to Jonah or Rita, please reach out to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Sep 5, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Yesterday's surgery day was filled with hope, uncertainty and lots and lots of prayers. We were once again hopeful to get the OR early on which had been booked for us at 7:30am. They came in early to draw labs, once again concerned about the white blood cell count which had jumped up (usually an indicator of infection). When we finally got word they were taking us to the OR it was about 2 pm. Again, Jonah had struggled with no eating since dinner the night before and they were doing IV fluids to maintain hydration.
When we arrived in pre-op we were told additional forms needed to be signed because ortho was coming in. This came as news to his Dad and I. Ortho was tag teaming with Plastics to make sure there was no infection in the left leg that had been sutured and then they planned to reset the cast which originally had been split since Jonah was having quite a bit pain with the old one. We were further told they would take a much closer look at the final tissue that had been already sutured into place and would do a good rinse out (its the best preventative for infection for a wound such as his). They were even going to carefully examine the calf for infection even though it also had been sutured. They were trying to cross every T and dot every I to make sure there was no infection brewing.
The surgery scheduled was to be a short one. For anyone who has ever sat through the waiting game of waiting for the surgeon to come out, you know the patience it takes to sit still when you see him rounding the corner and comes to take a chair and sit right in front of you. Fear runs through your mind, first and foremost, and its in those moments when the darkness descends and you are holding your breath wondering what the results are. Short surgeries are really an oxymoron. There's nothing short about a surgery because each minute seems to last an hour.
The surgeon carefully reviewed every possible aspect of where infection could be. Jonah was given the all clear that after careful review of tissue (which looked great and they were very pleased) to incisions and various cuts and gashes that exist, none were tagged as questionable. They changed out his vac dressing, reset the cast on the left leg, and gave him the all clear. They believe the white cell count increase was likely an inflammatory response from having to go in for so many surgeries and a skewed result of his other lab results because his fluids were down.
Yesterday was such a milestone because it may be the last surgery he will have to do where he will undergo intubation with anesthesia. Rather, they can administer gas only when he goes under and they can change out the vac dressing that way. This allows Jonah's body to manage anesthesia easier since he will still have to go in every few days.
This morning, a Sunday, was the two-week anniversary of the accident. It is finally easier for me, as a Mom, to look back over these last two weeks and be able to see all these numerous baby steps starting to add up to the big steps we had wanted to see from the beginning but couldn't. The medical teams tending to Jonah were fastidious and methodical in taking each step they did to reduce to the greatest degree possible any infection risk. As I was in church, the outpouring of support was welcoming and overwhelming. As I took inventory of all the people joining in prayer for Jonah, together with countless others praying all around the nation, the floodgates finally opened and it was the emotional release I thought I was past.
God has been so intentional with Jonah from the beginning of this journey He put us on. He intentionally placed persons who I would know in the midst of trauma, to help guide and be a source of comfort and strength. He also intentionally staffed the OR and ER with so many extra-talented medical staff (we were told later on it was not commonly like that). He intentionally placed friends and family of Christ in our midst to pray with us, pray for us and provide what help they could. And today - God was intentional about reminding me of His power, strength and unconditional love. One of the hymns of worship in church today was "Be Strong." This was the song sung at Jonah's 8th grade class graduation. It was a common tradition that this song was sung by teachers or students to the graduating class each year. It's a song the kids know well and today many of the kids in church could be heard singing with all they had. The song struck an incredibly deep chord within me and one of the verses follows....
Be strong in the Lord and be of good courage; your mighty Defender is always the same.
Mount up with wings, as the eagle ascending; Victory is sure when you call on His name.
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord and be of good courage for He is your guide
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord; and rejoice for the victory is yours.
As we spend the day at the hospital, Jonah's spirits remain high, his appetite is good. The prognosis is guarded but hopeful to return to the OR on Tuesday for just a vac change. From there, we will look forward to what the plan might be for skin grafting and then ultimate release from the hospital.
Two weeks after that fateful arrival at the hospital brought another intentional act from God. I was contacted by a woman I'd never met. But she knew me from the common connection at Lakeside and as one of the nurses in the OR the night Jonah arrived. There is not a single doubt in my mind that a number of people in the OR that night held Jonah's life quite literally in their hands. I wanted to share a picture with three of the amazing medical staff who thoughtfully came forward to wish Jonah well and visit with him. I'm humbled beyond belief that these amazing care workers were able to take time out of their day to encourage Jonah, to share a smile, and a laugh. Of course, Jonah had lots of questions for them since they were there.
So tonight Prayer Warriors please join me in thanks....that's it. Just thanks. Tonight my heart is full of thanks for the milestones we have achieved; the hurdles we have overcome; the light that is getting brighter, the closer we get to the end of the tunnel. Give thanks for the everlasting love of our Savior and God's steadfast grace poured out on us in big ways and small. Give thanks for the medical profession. They literally saved Jonah's life. Through their calling they knew what to do in trauma. Today a few were able to see the smile on Jonah's face and the light that shone in his eyes when they conveyed they were part of the OR team that worked on him. Give thanks for Jonah's body remaining free from infection, allowing his body to heal. Give thanks for remaining steadfast with me while God's glorious plan shows us the way. Jonah was brought to such a time as this and we will see Jonah's journey unfold in ways none of us could have imagined. It is a peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray it is yours tonight.
Walk by Faith
Posted Sep 3, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Update from Rita
Heading into surgery again.
Today has been a quiet one as we simply get ready for another surgery. Jonah‘s white cell count was slightly l elevated so they have been doing more labs today to make sure an infection is not brewing. We are praying it is only because of the stress his body has been under from going into surgery so often. They are monitoring it closely and we will be ready if an infection should happen to be starting. The doctors think it is related more to stress than infection. Please pray that this is the case.
Please continue to be vigilant prayer warriors in sending his name up to our Heavenly Father. At this time it is still unknown for sure if we will have surgery tomorrow. Some will depend on what labs show but more depends on what availability exists for an operating room.
We continue to be amazed at the outpouring of support. More medical staff have requested to stop by and see Jonah to encourage him to continue to fight the good fight. He will have some more visitors tomorrow who were in the emergency room/operating room area the night he arrived after the accident.
If surgery is delayed on Saturday, we will be proceeding with surgery on Sunday. The variables for how often we will continue to return to surgery continue to diminish for which we are enormously grateful.
We are hopeful to look towards skin grafting in the next week or two.
It has been mentioned to me, people are grateful for when they can pray with targeted focus. So I would ask for you to please pray for Jonah‘s health. Please continue to send prayers heavenward that his body would remain free from infection and the remaining surgeries can proceed without further risk. Jonah continues to remain in the hands of one more capable than the best surgeon we could possibly ask for. If surgery should be delayed, please also pray for patience and perseverance for our family. If surgery does proceed on Saturday, please pray for positive results, further confidence to move forward and a hopeful end.
We are continuously uplifted by the support and encouragement of his friends near and far. I wanted to share a shot of the picture board put together by some of Jonah’s most loyal friends. I wanted to close with the feeling of how much love surrounds him and encourages us to walk by faith. I know we do not walk alone.
There is a need for a meal on Monday, September 6 and Friday, September 10. If you can help, please sign up on the MealTrain calendar.
Miracle in the Making
Posted Sep 2, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
We were scheduled for surgery early this morning. As we called it a night last night Jonah was having quite a bit of discomfort and they were adjusting meds to see what was most effective. Since we had been relocated into general care and to another floor, it was uncertain what type of night we would have.
Once again the care staff at American Family Children’s Hospital was thoughtful in considering how often they needed to disturb Jonah. After getting the pain medication set that would provide him the most amount of comfort, Jonah was able to settle in for a reasonably peaceful evening. However, what had been planned for an early morning surgery, instead turned into a waiting game. As I have come to learn, there are two parts of this process I detest. Waiting for surgery to begin, and waiting for the surgery to end. God it seems is not only working to teach patience to Jonah, but it would seem I have some homework myself.
We were notified early this morning that the surgery planned for 7:30, had been bumped to 1:30. But every time I stop and become disheartened, I am immediately reminded that its because someone more critical than Jonah required it.
As resilient as Jonah has been, he is also human, and anyone with children will understand more specifically when I say—-he is a teenager. Ready to go in the morning and then left to wait and wonder, left John and I working to keep him occupied. We worked on a small project to keep his hands busy. But as the hours dragged by and him unable to eat or drink, the frustration began to build. We looked at cards made for Jonah by the students at Holy Cross and read a few devotions together. He finally dozed off for an hour or two this afternoon which left me thinking the medicine to provide pain relief has finally begun to do its job.
They received word that the OR was open for Jonah finally at 3:30 this afternoon. The plan, a shorter surgery than others, was simply to review the work that had been done. They would review the tissue to ensure there was no infection, they would check the stability of the nerve they had been working on and change the vac dressing. I am humbled once again that the condition of his leg is looking remarkably well. Praise God!
The doctor indicated he is pleased with the progress we have made and without a major setback large or small, we are unbelievably grateful. While the risk of losing his leg will remain on the table for the foreseeable future, the nerve is holding, and the tissue that remains viable will hopefully set us up to begin skin grafting in the next couple of weeks.
The doctor is considering moving up the timeline of releasing Jonah in a couple weeks to recoup and then return for skin grafting to instead keeping us in the hospital for the duration and begin skin grafting sooner than we had been told.
While we were talking during the day today, and the way his leg is starting to “talk,” Jonah made the comment—Mom I think I’m a miracle in the making. I simply nodded. Taking in all that had happened over the last 10 days, I simply nodded again, without words…
Yes, Jonah, I do believe you are.
Prayer Warriors—we know our God will use this for our good. Not just for John, I, Jonah and Noah, but I remain convinced for the good of so many. Words and cards of comfort continue to be sent to encourage and lift us up. Thank you, humbly and from the heart.
Rita, John, Jonah & Noah
Posted Sep 1, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
A time to give thanks and rejoice!
So much to update but I hope to keep this a short post. Jonah was relocated today. We are officially in general care! Give thanks and rejoice. Great spirits and good appetite continued.
While Jonah remains on very limited mobility, PT chose to work with him on some core work and upper leg muscles. While he wasn’t thrilled, he did really good.
Jonah‘s leg was certainly talking to him today. While much of his foot does not have feeling there are lots of pins and needles. Imagine your foot continuously asleep. He has additional shocks, that we have come to call zingers. They are managing the pain and discomfort with meds as he gears up for another surgery tomorrow.
Another cause for rejoicing is Jonah officially took his last round of antibiotics today. Praise God that we were able to avoid a serious infection up to this point!
Jonah and John worked diligently to finish the mini Bucky badger and it now stands proudly on display in his room. Imagine micro Legos! Legos so small they would fit on the tip of a pencil. More than once I wanted to ask some of the trauma surgeons who have the micro magnifiers on their glasses if John and I could borrow them to work on Legos with Jonah.
Today, one of the trauma surgeons, Dev, came by bearing gifts in keeping with the badger theme. I will end with this picture for a truly sums it up what no words could accurately describe. Jonah is still here, his heart is resilient and he is coming back!
Prayer warriors - Rejoice with us and give thanks to the ultimate healer! Please remember Jonah with prayers heading into surgery #8 tomorrow that all continues on the path towards our ultimate goal.
Surgery #7 Update
Posted Aug 31, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Before I get into the results of today’s surgery, I would be remiss if I did not first offer up my prayers of thanks. If I could thank each and everyone of you from all over the nation who are praying and offering up Jonah‘s name to our Heavenly Father, it would likely take me quite some time. So if you are reading this please know that my thanks are directed to you specifically. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Jonah had a restful evening. The amazing care staff and specifically the nurses at the pediatric ICU of UW hospital are no less than amazing. They saw what Jonah needed, and delivered big time. What he needed was sleep and they adjusted things within their control to minimize interruptions overnight. That allowed Jonah to sleep relatively well going into surgery this morning.
As Jonah gears up for surgery and recovery, he always asks to pray. It is this singular dependence on his Savior that has helped him through some of the scariest days where it has been difficult for him.
As has become the norm, Jonah was approached with various care teams starting at 6 AM. Sometimes there are faces, those he recognizes, and others new to him but in all, he continues to make an impact on all of them through his resilience.
He headed into surgery worried and as I reminded him though he is in the best hands of the doctor who is caring for him, he is in hands greater than those. Today’s surgery was the longest he had been through since the one that saved his life.
Today, the head of ortho and the head of plastics, came together to evaluate and analyze what they had to work with. The nerve that they have been working to reattach was strained over these last days. They worked to hook it together and because of that manipulation he is restricted to no more than 30° incline on his bed. Jonah the optimist was happy he gets a pass on PT the next couple of days.
As he came out of anesthesia, and was told he was limited in mobility, he became disheartened. But in his mind, as I have come to have such great respect for, he likened it to his track season of long jump. He set personal records often throughout the season. As he said, there are times when he wouldn’t meet that personal record and he would jump less than that, but he always had a reason to be positive about how it went. Today was no different.
The nerve that they are working to reattach is vitally needed for restoration. It restores the ability for him to feel the bottom of his foot. It is frustrating for him right now. As they manipulate his right leg, he can see he has no feeling when they touch his toes. It is not to be expected though, because it will take time for his nerves to restore its functionality. Scientifically, they grow 1 mm a day. Imagine for a moment how many millimeters are in the average leg.
All in all, as long as the surgery took, there is reason to be cautiously hopeful. They have placed in final position many of the various tissues that were severed but viable. This sets it up for the ultimate skin grafting needed. While he is likely to remain in the hospital for approximately another two weeks, there is hope that he will be able to return home after that point.
Warriors we need your prayers.
Prayers for strength and resilience. Yes, today was a big day. A hurdle we had to get past to ascertain viability for a useable limb. Doctors are human. We pray they never grow weary in their vocation. Jonah returns to surgery on Thursday.
Prayers for hope. It would be unrealistic if I said I never doubt. However when I focus on far we have come in 8 days I’m humbled by God’s amazing grace. But I am scared. I place that fear in Gods hands and leave it at the foot of the cross.
Prayers of thanks. Jonah could possibly be looking at release in 2 weeks if he remains free from setback or infection. A long road for recovery and healing starts with being at home where he can rest, see his friends and they can provide strength when he is weak. We can see perhaps light at the end of this where we can be home with him.
Prayers of healing. Prayer Warriors everywhere came together and lifted his name up. We ask for it again. His body is at such a tenuous point where the nerve must hold for viability of his limb. We lift his name again to have that nerve hold; to keep his body free from infection; to help his mind find peace in the storm.
My prayers to you to find peace this night…
If you want to send Jonah or Rita a message or an encouraging note, please email them at HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Posted Aug 30, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
As we wind down the night we have lots of "firsts" that happened today and we have much to be thankful for. First off, Jonah has been doing well and they are pleased with his progress so they have downgraded him from critical to general care. They have opted to leave us in the pediatric ICU room where we arrived a week ago because they are otherwise unable to put him on the general care floor because the beds are full. We are so blessed and relieved by the progress. Overall, Jonah's progress with fighting off any infection has left him in good shape for tomorrow morning's surgery. No fevers though we are always cautious and guarded at the possibility. We spent an uneventful day in his room, but it was another day of mood swings. He didn't get a lot of rest overnight which left him feeling tired and weak through most of the day. PT again put him in the cardiac chair but he didn't have the strength to do as well as he had, so he opted out of it early to retreat to his bed to rest.
Jonah has been craving Culver's for the better part of the week he has been here and tonight seemed like a good night to give him a good meal. He was loving it and it made his heart happy. We have also begun the conversation with his school to discuss what going back into some of his classes might look like for the duration of the time he's in the hospital. A little more each day, we find a piece of the usual life and put into an array of the unusual. We will make this work. Noah didn't want to head back into school, but after a few conversations I asked if he would get back into the routine in support of his brother. Support from Lakeside has been nothing short of amazing. Together we are all moving forward one step at a time.
Doctor visits continue at regular intervals and those residents/doctors with whom Jonah has bonded have taken a special interest in him. It warms my heart to see them engage with him as if they were friends. These visits are critical because of the limitations that prevent family and friends from being able to see him. Last Friday, it was donuts from a resident on the plastics team. Today it was a personalized Badger surgery cap from another resident in trauma.
How does one give back to these thoughtful, caring people? An anonymous meal train friend saw behind the scenes of the work of the many medical staff tending to Jonah's needs and they wanted to give back. I received word that they were holding a delivery at the front desk for us. I rounded the corner to find a man holding a box that resembled a pizza. I was curious at first and proceeded to take the box while recognizing the sweet smell of treats inside. The note indicated it was from an anonymous friend to the care workers on the PICU floor caring for the Heyerholms. Up on the floor, I was able to hand out the highly coveted, fresh Crumbl Cookies. I happily handed them out to our day nurses and saved some for the night nurses who tended Jonah through those frightening first days. Resident doctors were happy to enjoy the treat on their rounds with Jonah as they joked and chatted it up with him. What an exciting surprise from a thoughtful friend.
I know I sound like a broken record when I say tomorrow is more of the same, but that is the life we currently live. More wash out reduces the risk for infection. They will also remove any dead tissue to keep the remaining tissue around the leg healthy and free from infection. Tonight they will administer a blood thinner to help prevent any clots from forming in the legs due to his inability to move them or flex his ankles. Ortho and Plastics will be in there to review what they have to work with as they begin the process of returning functionality. Things have gone as good as they possibly could have gone for him and I'm left doubting our smooth journey and waiting for when the hiccups will happen. And I expect the hiccups to happen - But we cannot give in to fear of the unknown. God continues to provide us enough light for the step we are on and that is enough.
Please remember to pray for guidance as the doctors take some critical steps forward. Offer up prayers of thanks for all we have accomplished and that Jonah's health has remained steadfast. We praise God that Jonah's health is such that they have downgraded him to general care. This hopefully means more restful sleep before he heads into surgery in the morning.
God bless you prayer warriors....
Posted Aug 29, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
It has officially been one week since we got the news that changed everything. And while things have changed in so many ways, somethings still remain. Most importantly it is Jonah. Despite the outer appearance, the son we love is still in there. He is still the same kind thoughtful and caring person he was before this accident took place. Today was more visits with doctors, and more questions.
Jonah‘s dad and I have thankfully had the time to now look at trying to see what our new normal could look like while Jonah remains in the hospital. If ever the phrase “it takes a village” fits a situation, it is certainly this one. His dad and I have been so encouraged by the support systems we have to provide encouragement during these last days. Now we must transition to helping Noah absorb what this new schedule will look like for the immediate future.
Jonah was able to tolerate the cardiac chair better than prior days. It is still not without pain, but it is certainly not without progress. It is a quiet day for us while we spend time with him. It is a challenge to determine what we can do to keep him occupied. His new past time is building Lego sets or specifically FOCO sport sets. He’s been working on a Bucky badger with his dad and then we are moving onto a Green Bay Packer helmet. He likes puzzles to keep him busy and pass the time.
We pray to keep his spirits up as the days drag by between doctor drop ins.
Thank you thank you for all of you out there helping out big and small. We are eternally grateful. Here’s a picture of Jonah’s progress. Each day a little closer to the goal.
Posted Aug 28, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
The overnight into Saturday morning was not as restful as we had hoped. Frequent bed checks and preparation for an early morning surgery meant there was not much sleep to be had for either of us. We received the all systems go at 6:45am.
The plan was simple, more of the same. They would flush out the wounds to minimize infection. They would continue to debride, remove tissue that was not viable, and examine the nerve they had tentatively stitched together. If all was in good shape, they would work on the nerve. Thankfully, his fever was very minimal. Debridement was done with some tissue loss and the nerve, which had held together, was further stretched to reinforce the connection point.
Since the doctor felt the situation was in good shape he decided to attach the vac which would continue to help eliminate fluid and drainage. This creates a base to set up the wound for ultimate grafting. Jonah came through surgery like a champ. He recovered well, along with his appetite, and was able to have a comfortable afternoon keeping himself busy with Lego 3-D puzzles.
The plan is to return to surgery on Tuesday to see how the vac is handling the wound. It is significant because the ortho surgeon will also now be involved. Together, the plastic surgeon and ortho will evaluate and take an inventory of what they have to work with to give Jonah functional use of his leg.
He is by no means close to being out of the woods, he still remains on a targeted antibiotic cocktail to prevent infection.
Jonah remained in good spirits through the day and with his appetite intact was able to keep a steady amount of food going in to maintain his strength and maximize healing ability.
Once again, we remain thankful for the support of so many others who are out there supporting us. Thank you for the prayers, for they are graciously appreciated. We pray for a restful night, and a chance for us to catch up on some sleep.
Attached is a picture taken from the Lakeside Lutheran football game last night.
Posted Aug 28, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
An update from Rita
It's late in the evening on Friday and I find myself sitting in the lobby of the hospital almost in the dark. I have to say it's how much of today has been. Dark. We start the day, as we do every day, meeting with doctors. But during a brief talk with his surgeon, he has begun to ask the questions that tell us he is beginning to come around the edges of absorbing how big an injury this was and that recovery will be overwhelming.
Meetings with doctors while being compassionate, are also honest about the magnitude of injury. Jonah has only begun touching the surface of the tough questions he is beginning to ask - How bad was my injury? How long will I be here?
While they are hard to ask, as a mom, it's even harder to see when the light dawns in your son's eyes and you begin to see first comprehension and then despair.
Jonah had a tough day. Emotionally and physically. Physical therapy put him in a cardiac chair briefly to help him feel control and be able to get out of the bed he's been in since Sunday. There is pain involved as they manipulate his injuries and dizziness as he tries to sit up for the first time in a week. That left his stomach queasy and uncertain. Feeling awful pulled down his spirit and he struggled through the afternoon. As part of the care team assembled to help Jonah, he is also meeting with psychologists to help him process the acute trauma. he asked tough questions thoughtfully and with so much maturity that my heart broke for him.
I received word that a special banner was made by the students of Lakeside Lutheran to offer their support. When I learned it was going to get delivered, I asked how soon it could arrive. Thanks again to the countless friends and family of Christ, I received the banner this afternoon. Jonah was able to look at the words of encouragement, strength, and support during a particularly tough day. It now sits on the wall prominently in front of his bed where he can see it every day and feel the support of his friends.
As we look to tomorrow and another tentative surgery, it was daunting for Jonah when he has been through so much. We ended the night with reviewing some of the letters we have received from so many. I felt it important to know for Jonah's sake that when he felt weak, others were being strong for him. One particular email we received from a member of our church family struck a chord. I truly believe God places people in our lives at certain times to reinforce His love and support. Numerous people over this last week have appeared with coffee. a care package, or simply a change of clothes and a hug to reinforce in my heart that God is walking the way with us and sometimes He sends others to walk with us also.
For those of you who know, Jonah has always been a plyer of piano. Some of his longest friendships started on the piano and continue to this day. So music naturally has always been a comfort for him and a challenge when he found a particular fun piece of music to learn. A church friend reached out to share a story regarding the Christian band Tenth Avenue North. She talked about the lead singer, Mike Donehey, who had been in a bad car accident in high school. He tells a little bit of his story here http://www.100huntley.com/watch?id=226091&title=mike-donehey-of-tenth-avenue-north-at-no-greater-love-festival
This story led to Tenth Avenue North’s album “The Struggle." Jonah might someday relate to these songs even though there’s no way he can understand why this happened or what’s next. For Mike Donehey, his accident led to much bigger things than he ever could have imagined. The signature song on that album: Worn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUEy8nZvpdM It was emotional for both of us and helped us to remember God can make all things new. That even in the darkness when no light is to be seen and we feel alone and afraid. We are not. And even in the darkness, we can hear footsteps and the voice of our Savior saying "I am here."
So here in the dark, when I take inventory of the enormous upswell of support by many who are led to reach out and provide strength, I am humbled. Thank you prayer warriors for supporting Jonah on his journey. We feel Him and it comforts us. Please lift Jonah up in prayer as he continues with another surgery to do more repair on Saturday if all goes well. Guide the doctors to be diligent with eliminating infection, continue to keep Jonah's body and tissue healthy so that we might always move closer to our goal.
Please continue to send your words of love and encouragement to Jonah and Rita to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
Rita shares with Jonah the love and encouragement from each of you. Thank you for blessing their family.
Posted Aug 27, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Yesterday's surgery while short in duration was a big baby step forward. Much of the day was spent reviewing med plans with the numerous teams involved in Jonah's care. He has a fever here and there, so cultures are still taken frequently. Many surgical plans can't be made in firm detail because much rests on what they find when they remove the dressing of Jonah's leg. Thursday's surgery had been planned to include a nerve graft. While in surgery, they instead attempted to stitch the nerve back together. This allows them to keep from using other critical nerve grafts that might be needed elsewhere. Nerves have the amazing ability to regrow themselves, however, they grow at a minuscule rate. The hope to reattach severed nerves back together is always the goal and that tentative step was taken today.
The surgeon team reopened much of the work that had been done - viewing and reviewing the work done- to make sure all tissue still looks good. The ever present risk of infection is at an all time high. So more cleaning, more debriding, and the one nerve reattachment were accomplished. He returns to surgery this weekend to do much of the same, always checking to be sure tissue and cultures are clear from infection.
Other teams have begun to be included in Jonah's recovery. Psychology has been added to help him absorb this new, scary, and sudden reality.
Prayers are needed for patience. Jonah is only starting to understand that he will be required to remain in the hospital for an unknown amount of time. It's frustrating for him and leads him to despair.
Prayers needed for medical support. The teams have been amazing in all they are doing for him. But so many surgeries are needed along with consultations with other teams.
Prayers of thanks. The enormity of what we have accomplished and how close we came to the unthinkable leads all of us to give thanks for God's grace.
Once again Jonah's personality is making an impact on those around him. His surgery team told us that he gets donuts on Friday because he has become one of their favorites.
Today is expected to be quiet so Jonah can recoup heading into a weekend of more washing and debriding. They will look at the nerve they are working on and try to pull it together a bit tighter to reinforce it.
Jonah is unable to see family or friends while he recovers. He enjoys emails from those who are praying for him. HeyJonah2021@gmail.com
We would also like to collect pictures to make a poster board for his hospital room. Please send pictures to this email
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Posted Aug 26, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Jonah will head back into surgery around 3pm today. He will have a debridement again and they will also attempt a nerve graft.
He is still experiencing a lot of pain. We will have an update tonight on the outcome of the surgery.
Please pray that God guides the surgeons hands and gives them wisdom as they operate. Please also pray for peace and comfort for Jonah.
Thank you for your prayers and support. Your outpouring of love is such an encouragement to the Heyerholm family!
Posted Aug 25, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
Last night was very emotional. The doctors decided to remove Jonah's breathing tube so he could breathe on his own. They also said they don't plan on anymore surgeries for 24-36 hours. The gravity of the situation is starting to sink in for Jonah as he is dealing with a lot of pain. The doctors are doing their best to keep pain under control, but the pain is still significant. The good news is that his fever is gone and his blood pressure is stable. His heart rate is high, but they are not concerned at this time. Although the prognosis is still guarded, doctors are happy with what they see so far.
Last night, he was able to see a video from his brother and video chat with his girlfriend. This made him very happy.
The plan is to go back into surgery tomorrow to debride the tissue again. They will also try again to do a nerve graft.
Please continue to pray for Jonah as he deals with a lot of pain. Please also pray for peace and comfort as he heads back into surgery tomorrow. Pray for wisdom for the surgeons and medical team and guide their hands as they work on his leg.
Posted Aug 24, 2021 by Dana Marthaler
On Sunday, August 22, Jonah's life was inexplicably altered during a sudden and catastrophic boating accident. He was rushed to UW Hospital where hospital trauma staff worked diligently to repair a severed femoral artery in his right leg and multiple other serious traumas. Jonah's tenuous journey towards recovery began during that four plus hour surgery.
During surgery, trauma staff worked diligently to repair the severed femoral artery by grafting another vein from his other leg. Early Monday morning, Jonah was transferred to the pediatric ICU, placed on a ventilator, and given a broad spectrum antibiotic. He returned to surgery later that day for debriding (removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound) of the leg to minimize clotting and dead tissue. He was returned to surgery again Monday afternoon to repair a broken heel in his left leg and a deep gash near his Achilles tendon. Fortunately, he was spared from having pins placed in his heel bone and there was no damage to the tendon which allowed the leg to be casted and heal.
On Tuesday morning his right leg was debrided and a loose dressing applied to minimize infection. Doctors then began to evaluate what they had to work with to rebuild nerves and tendons severed in the accident.
Jonah remains in the ICU and has no immediate timetable for release from the hospital, rehabilitation or return to school. He will need hours of time in the hospital, driving to rehabilitation and numerous doctors appointments and frequent trips for medical care.
The Heyerholms will be spending much of their time in the hospital.
If you are wanting to provide assistance, there is an option to donate on this page. You can also email food gift cards to HeyJonah2021@gmail.com or drop off cards and meal or gas gift cards in an envelope labeled HEYERHOLM at the front office at Lakeside Lutheran or Holy Cross School Madison.
Meal trains will be established once Jonah returns home.
If you have questions or want to send a message to Rita, please use the email address HeyJonah2021@gmail.com or call or text Dana Marthaler at 608-217-7707. It is difficult to have Rita respond to phone calls or texts as she tends to Jonah, so please avoid calling or texting her at this time. She appreciates everyone's prayers and is so grateful for your love and concern.