On Sunday Feb 4, we took our autistic son Zachary to the hospital ER because he was not improving from what we thought was just a flu with fever. They determined he was septic with a pneumonia from some unknown infection source and put him in ICU. He is still there as of Feb 18 but improving steadily now, with occasional steps back like today with his swallowing. We set up this page to request prayers and update family, friends, and supporters in one place on his progress. About the photo above: Zach smiling again (despite the oxygen tubes!).
Zachary is still in ICU but no longer intubated or sedated but still on oxygen tube. His blood labs are looking good and should be out of ICU next week. Please keep praying. Thank you.
(See earlier background below.) Note the times are in Germany/GMT+1.
Katrina' shares some more good news about Zach's exit plan from the hospital that alleviates a concern we had about losing our private room once we transition from ICU (which Katrina depends on for caring for him 24x7). She shares about patience at the 5:00 mark.
Afternoon Doctor Update (new information on Zach swallowing into his lungs):
Expand earlier updates...
They are going to do another X-ray of his lungs tonight as well just to see what’s happening. They still are going to fast him for the specialist and do the X-ray. They obviously have to.
I just thought about it. It may be that maybe he was still a little sedated and things working slower. They sedated him lightly last night which I did not know until late this morning when he was still sleeping. I thought he was slow to wake up. I was told to wait a half hour from when they turned off the sedation and he would be fine to eat. I believe he needed more time than that although He was alert, he may not have had everything functional enough to eat.
It is only a worry because it is thought that maybe he had aspirated some throw up from being sick with the pneumonia that cause further troubles. But who knows what really happened. Only God knows.
Anyway, I was just praying here and thinking and he has eaten fine for two days straight until this morning. The only difference has been the sedation.
Here's Katrina's update on Zach's progress and at the 4:00 mark begins a teaching on burdens vs. burdensome and how we view Zachary as not a burden.
"Merci" in the photo means thank you in French. I love that it looks and sounds a lot like mercy. We say thank you to all of you with your prayers, financial support, comments and love. And we thank God for His mercy toward us and all mankind. Thus update is about God’s mercy and goodness toward us and you.
Katrina's podcast update for today on Zach. She explains the history of special needs people in Germany including how the Nazis killed all the people like Zachary.
Katrina also shared this typed update:
Expand earlier updates...
Zach will be on oxygen for quite a few days still. They will lower it little by little and see if his oxygen levels are good in his body. Thankfully, no more mask as of last night to deliver the oxygen. They see that his oxygen levels are staying up on just a tube of oxygen going into his nostrils without a full mask to cover the mouth. He is a lot less mad with that and squirms less. He leaves the oxygen tube alone unlike all the fighting he did for hours to get that mask off.
I have given him two proportions of homemade chicken soup broth that Zach’s loving dad made all by himself. I give him very little since he had been fasting for quite a while but he likes it and is coughing a little less now that his throat is more used to liquid going down it. I am sure the chicken soup is helping the inflammation for down in the body and also the warm liquid make his throat feel better.
He has more energy but still very weak. The afternoons are always stronger for him so I expect that he will have more and more energy during the rest of thee day. He is mad at being restrained of course. Who wouldn’t be? But he has energy to show he is mad. He is too load today to give me a smile yet which is very unlike him. I do expect he will start giving his famous smiles later today as he feels better and friends come to visit in a couple of hours.
After that, Katrina also sent this update:
Zach’s being mad all day paid off in one aspect- he dislodged some of the slime (Schleim in German) and his oxygen went up and less sickness in that lung. For a hard day for him that is something positive. He threw up a portion of his only meals today because he was so upset. The doctors and nurses really are rooting for him. They have come I during exciting times when he was going to stand for first time. They just came in and took the IV injection tube out of his neck. They got rid of a bunch of medicines right now. He is finally just sleeping after such an eventful tough morning and early afternoon for him. He is a fighter. He will make it. We just put one foot in front of the other as God leads it and God does the rest. We calmly do our part and support one another as this experience unfolds its lessons to us. God has been good to us and directed us throughout this event.
Katrina has good news in this short audio recording:
Katrina recorded another update on how she manages to minister to others during this trial. Also she expands on the latest Facebook comment about "letting Zach die" from the same person from yesterday:
This is so astonishing that Tim and Katrina WANT their 23 year old autistic son to LIVE instead of the burden of his care being lifted from them. An Assemblies of God Pastor I knew from the bookstore he owned in Hanford, California, that is now closed since he went back to Pastoring a church, was RELIEVED and THANKFUL when an autistic/brain damaged/or whatever son DIED. It was a horrible 16 years that was finally OVER. But here are Tim and Katrina who don't want to be relieved of a similar or worse burden. Wow!"
Play the video for her reaction to the above.
Katrina also typed up this:
I just got another update now...The brachialoscopy will probably happen tomorrow now. They might do it this evening but probably tomorrow. They will clean out his lungs deeper as much as they can at that time, and may, just maybe he can be extubate tomorrow. We don’t want to do it too soon though because they can’t clean his lungs out without the tubes so Zach has to be strong enough to be producing less fluid in the lungs AND do all that yucky coughing.
His thrombocytes are still getting slightly better. But he shows a little more inflammation . They don’t know where that is coming from. It may be another bacteria or who knows what is what they said. I believe it is just because I worked so much yesterday to get the edema out of his limbs. They are less swollen today which is good.
I really have to watch him. He is awake for about 5 minutes squirming around and wanting to pull at everything and bite his wrist (part of calming himself with what he does not like- part of autism). Then he falls asleep for about 15 Minutes and the cycle continues.
He is definitely keeping me on my toes today. I handing it fine and I am happy to see him have the energy to be more active. The doctors are working on the balance of helping him get the rest he needs to get stronger and be more active which can help with healing too. I know God will help them know how to make that balance.
Zach is still super sick and much wisdom is needed to do all the balancing necessary to get all the way better and make it out of this alive. That is what it looks like right now. I know by faith he will recover and be even better than he has literally ever been. I know God is here and doing whatever needs to be done.
Katrina did a short audio update here where she addresses a very raw and honest comment someone made on Facebook:
After that Katrina reported this:
Small update I just got from the doctor. Zach’s sepsis is going down according to the lab results. His immune system is coming up! He was at 20 for thrombocytes and has jumped to 27 (normal is 150). This is quite significant. It means the body is stronger to fight the virus. The body has to fight that because medicine does not exist to wipe that out.
They have had to keep him more sedated today because he has had such difficulty with throwing up while being intubated. So he has been very quiet obviously.
I have been working all day on reading the Bible to him and doing lymphatic drainage on his feet, ankles, and hands. I just keep going from limb to limb. I am sooooo thankful that God allowed me to go through massage therapy school and also become a lymphologist. I do not practice any longer as I was led to move from that to being a missionary and teaching. But the skills get used in ministry from time to time. (Tim probably would complain at reading this that the shoemaker’s family go barefoot 😂).
Zach’s temperature is still not perfect but thankfully not high enough for medicine.
The new nurse on duty just came in and shared they will start to lower his sedation now and see how he does and start his feeding again very low to give him strength. Pray that we have no more vomiting!
Feb 10 Evening
Katrina's update: "Zach woke up really mad at 5AM. He was coughing with the tubes in his mouth. I called the nurse in and they tried to suction some stuff out. Not a lot came out this time. I think that is a good sign. Obviously there is still much fluid in the lower parts of his lungs.
I really had to hold him down because he wanted to take the tubes out, was coughing from the pneumonia in his lungs, and was just uncomfortable. I can’t blame him for fighting. Even those that can understand what is going on want to fight in a situation like this so Zach, who doesn’t understand is going to actually fight. Although I would rather he use that energy to get better I am glad he has that energy. They had to sedate him more to get him calm so they could help him.
I came downstairs to drink some tea and give the nurses space to clean him up Ana put him on his side so he can breathe better. (Then I got back up for the rest of my sleep thankfully.)
The doctor came in and gave us an update saying he is doing better, slowly today. I brought up about Vitamin C/Glutathione IV and she said they do not have that, but they have a C + multivitamin one with the Glutathione that they can try. (Many had told us to ask about this so that's the answer.)"
How are we doing? Katrina: "Although it still does not look great, I am peaceful believe it or not. I know what I cannot do clearly so I stay in a space of surrender knowing God can do it all. I truly trust Him so therefore I can rest in Him. My sleep schedule is off as you can imagine but I get enough sleep so far. The staff here is excellent. We are in good hands. So, even though this is a crisis I really believe Zach is going to pull through and have miracles happen that he ends up being even better than he has ever been at the end of this hospitalization. I am actually excited to see how he is better after this. I think we are getting better as a family. Crisis are just opportunities to grow. We definitely are riding this wave."
Tim: "“We have our moments where we say to God to 'please end this now!' And then we remember God can stop this at any moment even when it looks worse. We just have to pass the test of our faith, stay in faith and focus on the good that's going to come from this for sure. This gets me through the moments where I waver."
Feb 9 Evening
Katrina's update today: "I got done taking to a nurse and she explained what they know for now. They allowed me to stay as they cleaned out Zach’s lungs the best they could. They can’t obviously get to all the small branches of the air passages in the lungs but they get to the bigger ones and vacuum out the fluid in them. They said this cleaning looked better than the last time. Both lungs have infection in them but his left lung is really compromised with sickness.
The lab results of his blood that they took this morning came in. They did two types of tests to make sure they knew what Zach’s thrombocytes in his blood are doing. It was explained to me that this is what makes the blood coagulate when you get injured. It also does something with immunity of the body. Normal amount of thrombocytes is 150. Zach has only 20. It is super low. They only do transfusions for thrombocytes when a person has 10 or less. No one wants that to happen if at all possible because a transfusion for this has complications and Zach does not need any more complications.
The thrombocytes being low means that there is inflammation in Zachary’s bone marrow. This makes sense since immune defense is from the bone marrow (yes, I know the gut is another area for immune issues). The bone marrow is where blood is manufactured for your body. So we need that inflammation to go away.His fever is down for now and may it stay down. The antibiotics seem to be working right now. Zach has not had many antibiotics in his life so I expect that what they give him will work well. I think they changed his antibiotic to work more specifically with the bacteria they found. This pneumonia is a virus that then opens up to bacteria so your body is fighting by both. Many of you probably know that most viruses cannot be treated. The body must fight it. In Zach’s case, we need to get his immune system up to fight it. The bacteria are responding for now to the medicine. May it continue!
How are Katrina and Tim doing in all of this? We hold our hearts stable with trust in God. We each separately today experienced just about a half hour of that bad feeling in the pit of our stomachs and were able to fight and win the war through prayer and remembering God will make even this work out for good. God shines brightest in troubles. He loves to swoop in when things look bleak and show His power and love. This situation is growing us up even closer to God. I, Katrina, realized today in prayer that if I were to lose heart then I would be like the ten wicked spies that went in to The Promised Land and came back with a bad report. I choose to be like Joshua and Caleb—yeah, there are ‘tiny giants’ in the ‘land’ of Zach’s body but God already made sure the price was paid for him to have the victory through His Son. We stand firm in chosen peace from faith and have strengthened our weak knees with His promises. We praise Him whether in good times or bad because He is supreme and always good to us. Getting God’s ways written into our hearts and minds happens when our hearts and minds are tested. We are choosing to become stronger in Him and weaker in ourselves."
Feb 9 Morning
Katrina's report from last night: "Zachary’s fever is not getting down which means he is not getting better yet. His thrombocytes seem to be going back down for the moment. Those are things in his blood that deal with immune system.They cannot do much about the virus that is making this pneumonia. The bacteria which is also there with this virus they are waiting see the tests to find the specific ones to target.They are taking him now to X-ray his long to see how it looks. They are also going to try another antibiotic. Obviously they were not able to extubate him like that had hoped to by now.
The doctors again look worried as they hoped to see more improvement by now. But I dont believe Zachary has all his business finished in this life. God is divinely intervening and on top of what Zach is going through.What I would want everyone who loves us and are fighting with us for Zach’s life to know is that we are genuinely thankful for all of them. There is no doubt prayer works because otherwise Zach would not even be alive still to keep fighting in my opinion.I choose to see Zach well and fulfilling his divine purposes and believing this nightmare part will just be a testimony for him to tell about his past.
I am still calm and collected. I definitely have feelings about how awful this is but my vision of God is so huge that I feel His Comfort that He promised because He knew we would need it in this life. I choose to not walk by sight or present circumstances but on faith in God and love."
Feb 8 Evening
This afternoon they moved Zach out of bed into a very special chair which he is sleeping away in (photo below). Unfortunately his lung is still not good enough to function without the tubes so the extubation has been delayed.
But sitting in the chair during the day is a welcome progression. First, it makes it easier to breath. Second, it gives him a break from the bed and a difference of routine for the day compared to night.
His temperature is down with medication and the doctor says he hopes to have him off the penicillin and on a specific targeted antibiotic tomorrow. (Yes, we've heard this before, but here's hoping it finally happens.)
Katrina says: "I am at peace and had a good lunch. I look out the window of Zach’s hospital room and am in awe that I live in Germany and see German buildings in person and not just on postcards or TV. The view could be worse (photo below). Even after 2½ years of living here it is just an inspiration to look in any direction wherever I have been in Germany both it towns and countryside. I am super thankful for first world medical care! Thank you God!"
Feb 8 Morning
Katrina: "Ok, so update is Zach slept OK last night. He had a higher fever most of the night and they had to just give him something to bring it down. They left the window open all night and actually it made the air in here very nice to breathe.
He had one small seizure but that is to be expected with a fever and being sick. He is OK. He was stronger last night. He woke up and looked at me a few times and he groped at things to try and take them off or out. It was a little hard for him because he was coughing around having tubes in his mouth. He went back to sleep pretty quickly though after waking each time.
This morning his temperature is down with the medication. The antibiotics that they have had him on are definitely helping thank God. They have waited to try any other medication to help fight this illness because it was not good to try it with a higher fever.
The doctor stresses that he is super sick. My brain stresses that God is super supreme and I can trust Him to love and take care of Zach even better than I know how to. I am at peace.He will be put into a chair and monitored after taking re tubes out. That will be nice for him to be out of the bed for a while.
His hands and feet aren’t as swollen this morning.I am fine. I was able to rest enough around being woken frequently to help Zach through the night.I am so very thankful that this hospital lets us stay all night and all day as much as we want even in ICU. Zach has always gotten better quicker when he has me around. I think that probably most people on the planet understands that. My heart goes out to those who do not.
I will let you know how it goes.
Love you all!
Feb 7 Evening — Doctor says Zach still has a fever but it is lower. His immune system (leukocytes and thrombocytes) are coming up. They still have to clean out his left lung regularly. In summary, he is still "very, very sick."
Feb 7 Morning
Katrina: "I thought I would write up what I know for now. It is not much and I hope to get more information from a doctor sooner or later. I spoke with a nurse and just asked what she knew. She shared that they are going to wait to extubate him because he still has so much fluid and infection in his lung, and he is too weak to cough that much up. So they still have to help with manual draining of infection regularly and help his breathing.
His fever has come down. It is still elevated but better. It is 38 degrees Celsius and normal is 37. So his body is fighting. I have no information on his lab results yet. He is sedated. He is awake but does not move much except when he is more irritated which is not very often yet. I don't think he has the energy to be angry as of yet.
All of his vitals are a lot quieter today-there are less alarms going off showing that something is not within range. I see less care personnel in here just because there are less bells and whistles going off.
I am personally doing well. I have been praying over Zach and doing some lymphatic drainage. He had his hand hanging off of the bed at night and it became fat. I got it down quite a bit and I got one of his ankles and feet down too. I have been praying and holding his left lung area as that is the infected lung.
I guess what I would want people to know is that it is possible to go through drastic things and keep the peace of God. It is possible to take crisis different than the world because we know and stand on faith that we have a most awesome, powerful, loving, Creator and Dad. He is soooo with us. It is possible to not worry. I feel blessed that I get to build faith by standing on the truth of God's goodness more than on my sight and other senses. What we prayed and talked about this morning is our truth about counting it all joy when we find ourselves in trials and tribulations because it gives us the opportunity to CHOOSE belief in God over the suffering. Choose hope instead of despair.
Zach is still critical by physical standards. We are still in ICU. We just know God loves us all and is here with us as we go through this trial."
Feb 6 Evening — Doctors just reported they identified the virus he has "human metapneumovirus" (hMPV) which is common in small children or compromised immune systems (which Zachary has in this case). It weakened his immune system that let him pick up a bacteria that they have not identified yet (but will have lab results tomorrow about). But the special general "synergistic" penicillin they have now is working. His left lung is bad with the pneumonia, right lung is OK. But they hope to extubate and let him breath on his own tomorrow. Pray this may be so.
Feb 5 Evening — The doctors reported his blood labs were looking better. But he still has a fever (from the sepsis). And there are still unanswered questions "strange cells" in his blood work.
Feb 5 Morning — They have drained his lungs of some very concerning colored liquid and intubated him because the oxygen was not enough. They are still trying to understand the source of his infection. He’s mostly sleeping through it but the doctors have has some worried looks. Thx for your prayers and support through this crisis.
Feb 4 Evening — We went to the ER where they immediately received him and took blood, did an EKG, and ultrasounds of his kidneys and abdomen. They immediately put him on oxygen. Soon after they moved him to the ICU. German efficiency! (If this episode had happened not in Germany but when we were still living in Costa Rica this post would be Zachary's obituary.
Signs Leading Up To The ERRead more...
Saturday morning I noticed he had a fever. That combined with the vomiting made it seem like he had the flu that triggered it. Katrina stayed near him all day on the couch while I worked on some writing for the Missing Manual.
As the next day went on, we got concerned because he was not improving like he normally does. His breathing was noticeably labored. I knew from past experiences with bronchitis that breathing difficulty is serious and means it is time to go to the hospital.
When we got there they received him right away thankfully. (I've heard the horror stories of long waits at the ER these days.) They took blood and determined he was septic with a lung infection from some unknown infection source. They said he needed the ICU.
Obviously, it hit him really fast. Now three days later, the doctors identified the virus as one that incubates in as little as three days (see update above for the name). He must have picked it up at the special needs center and then got sick and serious faster than we have ever seen.
I request and value your prayers for God to heal Zachary and guide the doctors. We know he will recover and get out of the hospital with everyone praying together and even believe this will work to good with some needed discovery about his health coming out from this. We never doubted his survival even though the doctors who first received Zach expressed worry about it. (Both Katrina and I have unfulfilled dreams about Zach that have strengthened our faith when things looked the worst.)
I've had the following repeated questions so far:
Q. "But how are Tim and Katrina doing?"Expand answer:...
Short answer: We're actually staying in peace (Php 4:7). God has been increasing our faith greatly since moving to Germany. Seeing your firstborn near death and handing on for life with tubes is not easy. But we know he will survive and also believe something good will come out of this for him (perhaps needed insight into his specific health needs?). Also we know our God is rich and promises to provide all our needs (Mt 6:33) which includes the big medical bills we know are coming. (Already some of you are sending donations which is very encouraging to see—bless you.) This is a test that we were prepared for and will pass with God's help and your prayers and support.
Katrina typed this up on Feb 7th to answer this question: "For me personally my heart is just full of wanting God to really be magnified in this situation. I want it to shout if God’s perfect goodness and love and encourage tons of hands that have grown weary or weak. I would love for them to know how to tap in to The power of the Comforter and be comforted through anything.
My heart is at peace. My smile has not faded and my faith has been made stronger because I chose it over fear. I feel so humbly blessed that my heart is flowing with gratitude towards our Daddy.
I am physically tired just because the hours of sleeping are different. I getting enough sleep but it is sectioned throughout the day when Zach is sleeping. So extra grace from Daddy that gives my uncommon physical stamina so that I can continue strong would be nice. Oh! And that we would be a blessing to all those around us to the glory of Dad and bless those who are helping us. They are amazing people!
Thank you for fasting for us. I have fasted many times for people and love that ministry. It is so nice to have warriors who fight with me when I am in the middle of the battle.
I believe that Zachary will have miracles and end up being stronger and more restored to what God intended him to have in this life. When things look bad that is where Daddy shines the brightest and shows He is most powerful and magnificent. I am actually excited to see the testimony of His goodness come fully from this situation. "
Q. "Have the doctors done Vitamin C IV for his sepsis?"Expand answer...
Q. "Do you guys have any financial needs with this hospitalization?"Expand answer...
The short answer is yes this will be a financial blow, even though we're in Germany and have insurance (required by law for our residency). We appreciate those who have asked and already given towards the coming bills which I've set up for those who can help below.
The longer answer is that we only have travelers' insurance here because we're missionaries and that's all we qualify for.
We've gone through a couple of insurance agents and have been told we're not able to get better health insurance because we have no prior insurance and because of our missionary status.
In the past the bills I've tried to submit for Zachary's regular doctor visits or seizure medication they did not pay. I'm sure with this emergency they will cover things finally but by no means all.
I will update this as I have more information. For now there is no doubt we'll need help and welcome those who feel moved to do so to help now.
As some of you who know me remember, I'm uncomfortable asking for financial help because of fear of coming across as begging. But one long-time reader of my free teachings gently corrected me on this. I had thanked him for giving before I even asked and mentioned it was a helpful example to others at the same time saving me from "seeming like a beggar:"
How To Send Support
If all you can do is pray, thank you. We covet your prayers.
If you can also send support for the medical bills, we appreciate that as well. As self-supporting missionaries doing our ministry mostly for free, we depend on your support for our needs. As explained in the FAQ above, our only insurance option won't cover everything. We all know ICU and doctors are expensive.
- You can send a straight donation with PayPal, credit/debit card, US bank transfer, check, Zelle, Venmo here
- Or you can join the support team at the same time with the same methods here which gives you access to the powerful and life-changing supporter content as a thank you for your giving.
Either way, God bless you for all your time, prayers, words and gifts.
Pictures Of All of Us At the Hospital
I'm including the pictures here at the end out of sensitivity to those who are squeamish about seeing people on breathing tubes or even just in a hospital bed. I understand that as I found it very hard to be around Zachary the first day all tubed up like that (fourth picture below).
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