Monday, December 22, 2014

Quiltville Mystery Quilt 2014 - Part ONE again...

Well, a few weeks ago, I posted about starting Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt.  I took off and then was quickly sidetracked and derailed by other projects.  A Baby Quilt, another gift quilt which I can't reveal until next week, and yet another gift which I can't reveal until next week, and another that I can't reveal until March!!

So What CAN I reveal?  Well, when I saw step ONE of GIMQ (Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt) I realized I was going to need to sew many, many HSTs.  I have heard many times before that the best machine to sew these on is an old Singer Featherweight.  I have one, in fact, I have had it for over a year, but it didn't work.  

It needed some work before I was going to be able to sew on it.  She barely moved when turning the fly wheel.  Her motor seemed to have plenty of power, but her drive belt was frail, and she was bound up.  SO, I decided to work on her so I could use her to complete the GIMQ!

So, I pulled her out of her ragged old box, and identified the things I NEEDED to order to make her operational.  Her power cord was in horrible condition.  Her rubber feet were non-existent, and she was filthy dirty!  I had one old rusty bobbin, and her felts were in horrible condition.  So I ordered all new parts to replace what needed replacing.

Last Friday, I received those parts.  Bonnie also released her next clue in the GIMQ, which included... yep... More HSTs! so I was motivated and equipped.  I must say, the internet is a wonderful place!  I found YouTube videos galore, and a Facebook group dedicated to Singer Featherweights proved to be invaluable in getting me the resources I needed to take my little hunk of black painted aluminum from greasy, seized, mess of a not working sewing machine to a clean, working, although not beautiful, machine, sewing beautiful stitches!

So, while the only sewing I can share from the past week is the first four HSTs sewn on my "NEW Featherweight", I CAN share my adventure in taking her from not moving to sewing.  Without further ado, here she is... Built in the summer of 1940... My Featherweight...

This case pretty much tells her history...
I'm hoping I can give her a much better future!


Here you can see that she has no clear coat at all on about 80%
of her body.  There are a few places where she has some finish, but very few.


The Bags of parts I needed to to bring her to life.  A new power cord, belt,
felts, rubber feet, twenty new needles and a dozen new shiny bobbins.

As I disassembled her, this is how I kept track of what screws belonged to
which parts.  All were cleaned thoroughly in a bath of Kerosene
and scrubbed with a toothbrush before being bagged with the
identifying Post It Note.

The beautiful scrolled faceplate which was standard on the earliest
Featherweights.  Dirty, gunky, yellowed and in desperate need of cleaning in this photo.

Another part full of gunk ready to be cleaned.  All of the surface parts were
gunky and filthy dirty.

Here, the bobbin hook assembly has been opened and the bobbin holder
has been removed.  I followed directions from a YouTube video and wiggled
and wiggled for twenty minutes paying very close attention so I would know
how to get it back in.  After twenty minutes or so, I lost focus for a few
seconds and all of a sudden the holder popped out and fell to the desktop.
I have no idea how I got it out!
I thoroughly cleaned this out though and managed to replace the bobbin
holder in just a matter of about a minute!

The piece that needed wiggling out... Took twenty minutes to get it out
and one to put it back in.  The clean parts spun freely.  THIS is what had the
whole machine bound up.  The gunk behind this piece was literally holding
it tight with pure suction and made the whole machine barely move.  Once
the bobbin assembly was removed and cleaned, the whole machine
moved easily!

This is what a belt looks like when it sits without moving for decades!

THIS is why I ordered new wiring!  This was a fire waiting to happen
under my foot!

This photo shows the "rubber feet".  That gray circle is supposed to be a black
rubber foot.  Decades of decay and neglect left this machine literally sitting
on the screws that held the feet in place... (see next photo)

Here is a side view of the "foot".  Well,
more like the absence of the foot!
And her new rubber feet... No more scratching my desk!

When I opened up the top and removed the faceplate, I was amazed at
how clean the innards of the machine were!  This is before I cleaned it!

video
 Twenty four hours before this video was taken, she would
barely even move...

My first few stitches after reassembly!

Ready to sew another line of stitches.  Here you can see that the machine was
previously cleaned with some sort of harsh cleaner that stripped the clear coat
right off the machine, and ate away at some of the decals as well.  She isn't
pretty, but she purrs like a kitten, and sews nice straight lines.
Most of her isn't very pretty, but LOOK at that face plate!
I love the fancy scrolled plates on the early machines...
No more yellow or brown gunk!!
And here she is with her first official work!
First four blocks pressed, trimmed and perfect.  Another 20 sewn for good measure.


SO, I have a LOT of work to do to catch up, but now that this little baby is working and I'm almost done with my Christmas quilting, I'll be able to get to work very soon!


If you came from Bonnie's Link up, get back by clicking HERE.  If you want to see what others are doing on Bonnie's Mystery Quilting, go ahead and click, I won't mind!


Until His work in me is complete,
Paul

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17, 2013 ... A day I will never forget

One year ago today, December 17, 2013 was the date I was admitted to the hospital having had at least three strokes.  The strokes affected only my memory, but they affected my memory in a HUGE way.  I couldn't remember anything, including who my own children were.  The only thing I never forgot is my wife.  I knew who she was, I knew her name, I knew her likes and her dislikes, yet I couldn't remember my own.

My son walked in that evening and I looked him in the face and said, "Who are you!?"  I don't remember that at all, in fact, I don't remember December 15-17 very well at all.  You can read about that HERE.


Today, I want to focus on two things.  My healing.  I am fully healed.  If you read the original post, you know that two days later, everything was back to normal.  I was "back".  100%.  Over the first part of this year, I underwent a bunch of tests to try to identify why I had the strokes, but we found nothing other than I am perfectly healthy now.

I also want to focus on my children.  They were the first thing I remembered on my own.  I want to focus on my son, Jonathon, specifically.  You see, it was into Jonathon's eyes I looked when I said, "Who are you?"  Over the first few months of this year I felt horrible about that.  Jonathon forgave me.  He understood that it wasn't by choice that I didn't know who he was.  Jonathon, I think, understood that, in ways, better than I did.  But, needless to say, he was still rather hurt by that.

A few months later, that moment in time when I looked into his eyes and asked "Who are you?" and the next 24 hours became the basis for an English paper he submitted, entitled, "A Lapse in Time".  With his permission, I am sharing what he wrote.



A Lapse in Time
Jonathon Perger

The man I admired.  The man I look up to.  The man that was there from the very beginning.  The man that I blamed for all of my actions.  The man that cared for me.  The man that gave me guidance.  The man that spent every waking hour, making my life better.  The man that I didn't give enough credit to, while I was growing up.  The man that loved me, more than I knew.

This man I didn't think about enough.  I never pondered; why he went to work every day or why he cared for me or why he was always there when I needed him the most or why he would give anything and everything to make me smile or why he cared if I got bad grades or got into trouble or had a bad day or why wanted me to know how to eat properly or clean myself or dress myself.  The essentials and life skills necessary to be successful.  It was all just expected.

Until this moment in time, I had never thought about why I called him "Dad".

My own father looking at me with uncertainty.

"Who are you?"

My own father did not recognize me.

In this moment it felt like time had stopped moving.  A lapse in time; where memories flooded my head like a dam that had cracked and was seeping profusely.

All of the memories that I had of my father, he could no longer share with me.

The uncertainty of the situation was probably the worst part.  All of the possibilities.  All of the thoughts I had.  Every single one of the thoughts in my head.

What is wrong with him?  How can we fix it?  Is it something that is able to be fixed?  How long will this last?  What caused this?  How will my family get by without him?  How will my mother take care of all my siblings alone?  How will my brother react?  How will my sisters react?  Why is this happening to me and my family?  What could I possibly do to help?

These were the questions that led to the many hours of  pondering.

Why he went to work everyday or why he cared for me or why he was always there when I needed him the most or why he would give anything and everything to make me smile or why he cared if I got bad grades or got into trouble or had a bad day or why he wanted me to know how to eat properly or clean myself or dress myself.  The essentials and life skills necessary to be successful.  All of the things I just expected.

The final conclusions to all of my questions; he is my father.  I finally realized the reality of unconditional, indisputable love.  The love that someone has for their family.

After twenty-four hours, several MRIs, a CT Scan, CAT Scans, a Spinal Tap, EKGs, multiple X-Rays and Blood tests, and overnight monitoring.  Laying in that white bed.  No doctor could figure out the dilemma that was my father.  The one puzzle I wished I could solve on my own.

The uncertainty of the situation was probably the worst part.  All I had was time.  Time to wait, time to think, time to process, time to embrace memories, time to exude sorrow, time to reflect on life, time to grow up.

A lapse in time.


December 17, 2013.

This date will be remembered for many years to come.  It is a day for which I am now thankful, though at the time it was frightening, both for me and my family, it is the date on which I realized how precious life is.  It is the date on which I learned that I need to be thankful for all I have RIGHT NOW.  Because none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow... Nor are we guaranteed to remember our yesterdays...

Until His work in me is complete,
Paul

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Baby Quilt - Part Two...

As I mentioned in the previous post, I failed to take as many photos as I have in the past, so there were quite a few steps between the end of the previous post and the beginning of this one, but here is the completion of the Baby Quilt...

I always lay out my layers on the floor and tape them down using painters tape, so the backing went down first, then the batting, and then the top.

Layed out and ready for pinning...



I dump a bunch of pins and then start pinning...




I try to put pins about every four inches.  For this quilt, I planned to do straight line quilting around the purple columns, inside the purple columns and then use a decorative stitch straight down the center of the purple columns.


While out shopping one day, I happened to find the same fabric that Grandma had used to cover the rocking chair, and I picked some up to use as binding.  I think stripes, polka dots, or any swirly pattern works great for binding and when I initially saw the fabric, I knew it would be perfect for binding, but there wasn't quite enough, so I was super excited to find the same fabric so I could bind this quilt using it.

I will always opt for cutting my binding fabric on the bias if I have the choice.
It makes laying that binding flat SO much easier...
Though it is bit of a pain to cut it!
Then I press together and roll onto a large spool.
I use hair clips to keep my binding in place while I sew.
I didn't get a real good photo of the full quilt, but
here is about half of it...
And the last step is secure the label under the binding, this way I only have a small amount of hand stitching to secure the label for future posterity.

Simple Hand Written label, and the gift was ready to be given.
I made this Baby Quilt much larger than a traditional baby quilt because I wanted it to be large enough for mom or dad to snuggle with baby while rocking in that rocking chair with the matching fabric.

And THIS is why we all do what we do...

Baby and Mother cuddling under the quilt...
There can be no better way to see one of my quilts!

Hopefully I'll be able to post some more next week.  I am working on two projects right now.  One I can share, and one I can not... Yet... So while posts are being written, none will be seen unless I can carve out time to actually work on Bonnie's Mystery.

Until His work in me is complete,
Paul

Monday, December 8, 2014

Baby Quilt - Part One...

As many of you know, I have done very little quilting, and even less blogging about it over the past two years, because I have been pursuing a Master's Degree.

My degree is a Master of Ministry Degree, and I am not sure exactly what God has planned for me, but I do know that since I no longer have papers to write and hundreds of pages to read every week, I now have time to get back to my sewing machines.

A little over a month ago, a friend of ours had a baby, and my first project back at my machine was a quilt for them.  I waited until it was delivered to publish two posts I wrote about the baby quilt process...  Here is the first...

I almost feel like a newbie again and I made some newbie mistakes including forgetting to take as many photos as I should to make for a good post, but here it goes, I'll share what I can...

I started by asking the baby's Grandma what the colors were in the Baby's nursery.  (I wanted it to be a surprise after all!)  It turns out that Grandma had re-covered a rocking chair for the nursery and had all of her scrap material still at home.  So I got my hands on that scrap material and chose a pattern that would enable me to use as much of the scrap as possible.

Fabric from Grandma

Purples and grays.  I love working with grays! Lucky Me!


Purples and Grays, all ready to be cut up...
I wanted to be able to finish this quilt quickly, as the baby was born the week I got started, so I chose a fairly simple "Stacked Coins" pattern which I adapted slightly to make cutting and assembly go a little more quickly.

I cut the FQs into 4.5 x 2.5 inch rectangles and 4.5 x 4.5 inch squares.  I had some prints and some batiks.  I put a print square next to a batik rectangle for half of the blocks and a batik square next to a print rectangle for the other half of the blocks, and started chain sewing...


Rectangles and Square paired and ready for sewing...

Chain Sewing.  I chain sewed 80 pieces.
After matching the colors, and creating the sub-unit blocks, I paired each subunit with another unit and then added a gray border to one side of the block.


Three Full Blocks with two squares, two rectangles, a border piece
being prepped for sewing together

Here you can see my lettering & numbering system.  I had just pulled that number out from the seam, as it was going to be replaced with a new one.





I will post more assembly photos and the finished product later this week!


Until His work in me is Complete,
Paul

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Quiltville Mystery Quilt 2014 - Part ONE

I have decided that my third quilt project for the year will be Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt.  If you want to learn more about this quilt, or if you want to join in and do one yourself, click on that button to the right with the Pink Geranium and visit Bonnie's Quiltville Blog.

Each week Bonnie gives a "clue" which is really a set of instructions, and each week the participants cut and make the subunits per Bonnie's instructions.  We are all "flying blind" as we have no idea how all of the subunits will be assembled, but each week we make the required number of units and then wait for further instruction.

Bonnie is a dedicated "Scrap Quilter" which I admire, but most Scrap quilters have a lot of scraps to use and choose from.  I don't.  So I purchased yardage, and I chose to purchase full yardage of each color.  I did not try to purchase a bunch of Fat Quarters to get a variety for a scrappy look, I decided to use Batiks.  Because of the nature of how batiks are made, they look a little scrappy anyway.


My Batiks for the Mystery Quilt.

I will try to keep up, as getting behind just gets frustrating later on.  So, without further ado, here is what I accomplished for this the first week of Bonnie's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt...

I got all of my strips cut for this week on Friday Night...


Week ONE strips all cut and ready to cut some more!
I decided to start with the easy step and I cut 140 2.5 inch squares of yellow and black.


I used my Easy Angle Ruler to cut my squares as well!  Four at a time,
2 Yellow and 2 Black
144 Black and Yellow 2.5" Squares

Then I started using the Easy Angle Ruler to do my HSTs of Pink and Blue.

The Easy Angle is easy to use once you get the hang of it, and it cuts perfect triangles with one dog ear already cut off!


Line up the proper corner with the upper left corner...
There is even an arrow to help you get the right one!

Simply turn the ruler as if it were on a hinge and line it up
with your previous cut and the proper marking, in my case, 2.5". 
The small black triangle marks the dog ear that you are "cutting off".

Two (or four) HSTs ready to sew!

I think I've mentioned that I don't like HSTs.  I did 36 HSTs, they all sewed up fine, but are about a sixteenth of an inch too big.  (They are in the box next to the squares above...)  Now I will have to trim them all up.

So, on my second batch, I shortened my seam just a hair and after four, I checked them and they were fine.  I proceeded to sew the remainder at the exact same seam, but somehow my bottom thread tension changed!  I finally sew a whole string of HSTs with true quarter inch seams and now I have to rip 'em all because the thread isn't tight enough to keep them together.  FRUSTRATING!!



HST Strung across the room from machine to
Pressing Board, only to find I could not press them!

Look at those wonderfully straight quarter inch seams... No pinched
corners, but LOOPS and LOOPS.... Aaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhh!


So... I'm going to be behind right from week ONE!  Oh, well, I'll plug along and get it done.  One Step at a Time...

If you came here from Bonnie's Link Party, Click HERE to go back!  If you want to visit Bonnie's site and see what the craziness is all about, go ahead and click and go visit!  I won't mind!  Thanks for visiting!  See you next week...


Until His work in me is complete,
Paul

Monday, November 10, 2014

In Memory of Rainbow

17 years ago my now 22 year old son wanted a dog.  When I asked him what kind of dog he wanted, he said, "A little white one".  When I asked him what he would name this dog should we ever get one, he said, "Rainbow".

We then had a long discussion during which he informed me that he had been reading a book about light and he learned that we see the color "White" when ALL the colors of the rainbow are "'flected to our eyes".  "Did you know that when you see the color Red, it's because the thing you are looking at sucks in all of the other colors in the rainbow and the only color that bounces off it to your eye is Red?"

I sat, astonished at my then 5 year old child's comprehension of how light and color are related...

Three months later the boys got their white dog.  Jonathon was only a baby then so Josh got full naming rights and true to his new found knowledge, our toy poodle was christened "Rainbow".


Rainbow "Studying" with Jonathon a few weeks before he died...

I'll admit, and I have several times.  I did not want a dog.  But, as is often the case, my kids and my wife won out.  This however is one battle I don't regret losing.  Rainbow grew on me and was a great dog... 

Two years ago, after 15 years of unconditional love, Rainbow left this world.

I never thought I would say this, but he is greatly missed.


Until His work in me is complete,
Paul

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Am Quilting again...

Its been a while since I last posted and I was recently asked about my last post regarding my health since my Strokes.  So here's an update....

I am very glad to be able to say that the doctors never found anything to which they could attribute my Strokes.  Why I had them is still a mystery but I have since been declared perfectly healthy and I have been taken off of all the precautionary medications I was taking.

However, before i was taken off of those meds one of those medications caused a brief but rather frightening episode this summer.  I was taking Lipitor and it caused me to experience Rhabdomyolysis which is a severe breakdown of muscle tissue.

I wound up spending a day in the hospital as Rhabdomyolysis often leads to kidney failure.  A normal CPK level (the indicator that concerned the doctors) is between 0 and 1.  I was at 3,480!  The doctor told me he had never seen a level so high without severe kidney damage.  One week later I was back to "normal" with no kidney damage.

On another note, I earned my Master's Degree and I now have time to quilt again... So watch for more quilting posts soon, as I just started a new project and I have decided to do Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt this year.

Until His work in me is complete...
Paul
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

That sir, is the definition of 'Miracle'

Wow.  It's been a while since I posted here.  But, I have been busy with school, work, and life in general.

I want share a story with you.  Something happened last month that made me realize it's time for me to stop postponing things I "mean to do" and start DOING the things I "mean to do".

Last month I had several strokes.  The doctors disagree on exactly how many I had.  One says several dozen, possibly a hundred or more small strokes over a three day period, but another thinks the number is far smaller.  The only thing they are sure of is that I had at least three.

The "Story" starts on Sunday, December 15th... But, I am going to start on Tuesday night, December 17, 2013.  You see, it was on Tuesday that my wife realized there was a story being told.

Tuesday, December 17th I came home from work, changed into some sweat pants and a sweatshirt because I intended to work on our dining room table that I am building.  But my cat wanted to be pet, so I lay on the bed and began petting her.  And I fell asleep.  While this was not normal for me, I had been working very hard recently and Trish thought I was just tired and needed some sleep.  So, when it came to time to go see a friend's child in his school's Christmas performance, she left me sleeping on the bed, took our kids and left.

When she came home an hour later she found me standing in our kitchen.  I didn't know where she had been.  I didn't know who the child was she went to see.  Then I asked where we were and "why are we here"?  She chuckled and told me to stop goofing around, to which I replied, "I'm not goofing around, why won't you answer my questions?"  And I began to weep.  "Why am I so confused?"

She called my son Jonathon, and when he came into the kitchen I looked at him and said, "Who are you?"  And before Jonathon could say anything, Trish told him "We need to take Dad to the Hospital, he's having a stroke.  Get your shoes back on, now."  She called to my daughter Chyenne and we all got in the car and Jonathon drove us to the hospital.

I don't remember any of that.  In fact, I only remember two things between Sunday and Tuesday (remember, I said the story really began on Sunday...)  I remember that on Sunday at church the offering plate was passed after the sermon instead of before the sermon as it normally is.  And on Monday evening I met a good friend of mine in a parking lot to exchange some DVDs.  I remember meeting with him, I remember our less than two minute conversation, but that's it. 

That's it.  That's all I remember.  I don't remember writing a final paper for the class I was taking that Sunday afternoon.  I don't remember going to work Monday or Tuesday.  I don't remember shopping on my way home from work on Monday (I only know I did that because I found the purchase record on my Credit Card statement last week!  I got a great deal on a pair of biking chamois!)

So, back to Tuesday night... My family took me to the hospital and I was almost immediately admitted.  I don't remember the trip to the hospital.  I don't remember arriving at the hospital, the ER, etc.  I know I woke up in the hospital on Wednesday morning.  I vaguely remember telling Trish goodbye when she left very late Tuesday night, or should I say, very early in the morning on Wednesday.

The ONLY thing I never forgot is who Trish is.  I never forgot my wife.  Everything else.  Literally, Everything else was gone.


My wife came back to the hospital early on Wednesday.  Wednesday was a roller coaster ride.  I was taken out of the room several times for various tests, including an MRI of my brain, some x-rays, and a CAT Scan of my heart and vascular system.

I was seriously confused most of the day, but I was starting to regain some memory and the weirdest part is that today I remember being so confused on Wednesday.  I was confused about everything.  I didn't know what year it was, I didn't know who was President, I didn't know how to take a pill, how to use a fork, what kind of car I drive, where I live, what I like to eat, etc.

It was all pretty downright frightening.  Trish said I was so desperate to remember things that I asked questions constantly.  As I would remember things I would declare it, then look to her and ask if I was right.  "I like to quilt and I have a white sewing machine, Right?"  And when I had trouble remembering something, I would ask and then after hearing the answer start weeping, and asking, "Why can't I REMEMBER!?  I should remember these things!"

The first thing I remembered on my own without any prompting is that I have four children.  Trish said I declared it so loudly people in the hallway could hear me, "I have FOUR children, Joshua, MaryAnna, Jonathon and Chyenne!"  The first several times I declared this I would apparently turn to her for confirmation.  I can not tell you how frustrating it is to actually have to THINK about the names of your own children.  But once I remembered, I was determined not to forget again.  I declared their names about every 30 minutes all day Wednesday.

The second thing I remembered on my own was that I love Jesus.  When I asked Trish, she said, "Yes, honey, you love Jesus very much". I told one of the young men who wheeled me from my room to a test and back again that I had four children and that I loved Jesus.  He said, "Cool.  I love Jesus too!"

All day Wednesday was like this.  I would remember things seemingly out of the blue.  There was no rhyme or reason to what I remembered and what I didn't know.  I couldn't recall that I like cottage cheese, when I took a bite of it I said, "This isn't Ice Cream!  Do I actually like this stuff!?"  I didn't know what fruit was, but when I took a bite of pineapple, I looked at Trish and said, "You like this stuff a lot.  What is it called?"  She was rather amused at that one... "How do you remember what I like when you can't remember what YOU like?"

Once I had remembered Jonathon's name, and he saw that I was beginning to remember a few things, and after hearing Mom laugh at me for remembering what she liked, he started having a little fun with it all.  As he was leaving once, he whispered in my ear that I should "Be sure to order ketchup with your food... You love ketchup."  Good thing Trish was doing the ordering... I hate ketchup!  He also got excited when I thought I drove a red car... "Yes Dad, you do drive a little red car..." (My old car, his current car, is a little red car...)  Again, Trish set the record straight.  "No honey, you drive a blue Chevy Cruze."  And I responded, "I drive a BOAT!?"  That led to some laughter and some explaining...

Toward the end of the day Wednesday, the cobwebs were beginning to clear.  I remembered our Youth Pastor when he came to visit, but when he brought up Belize, that drew a blank for me.  Until we talked about it.  Then I remembered a few things about the mission trip.  A spider crawling all over the face of one of the teenagers.  I remembered the rash that I got which caused me to grow out my beard, which remains to this day (the beard that is...)

I fell asleep several times Wednesday, each time sleeping only 10 to 20 minutes, and when I would wake up I felt like I had slept a full night.  Each time I woke up, Trish would have to tell me, "No, honey, it's still Wednesday."  I was frustrated, tired, and still very forgetful and "foggy".  At Trish's suggestion, the doctors sedated me so I could get a full night's rest.

When I woke on Thursday it was as if nothing had happened.  I remembered everything.  (Except for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  The doctors say I may never regain memory of those days.  As of this posting, I still have gained no more memory of those days).  But everything else is back.  All of my confusion, gone.  I can remember being confused.  I can remember the things I was confused about.  I can remember NOT remembering.  I can remember how frustrated I got TRYING to remember.  But, on Thursday it was as if a veil had been lifted.  I was "Me" again.

The doctors were blown away.  They couldn't believe it.  There was and still is no real explanation.  All the tests they had run Wednesday were pointing to stroke, but there was little evidence of a stroke, at least not a stroke large enough to cause the memory loss I experienced.  I say that because there was some evidence of "stroke activity" in my initial MRI.  They saw three small (very small) spots of "damaged tissue".  The "damaged brain tissue" was so small, the doctors all agreed that the spots may not even be real, but artifacts of the machine.  So they sent me back for a second MRI.  If the damage is real, it should show up in exactly the same places.  If those spots were due to the machine, they wouldn't be there the second time.

The damage is real.  My second MRI shows the same tiny (think half a small pin head) spots of damaged brain tissue.  So, there is hard evidence of strokes.  Three of them.  To make things even more interesting, the two larger spots are exactly opposite each other in the right and left hemispheres of my brain.  Both appear to be spherical.  Both Neurologists said this is extremely odd.  Neither had seen anything like it before.

But.  Aside from the three spots on the MRI, there is nothing else in any of the testing that indicates that I had any strokes at all.  There is no indication of where a blood clot would have come from to cause the strokes.  My heart and vascular system was looked at via Echo Cardiogram, Transesophageal Echo Cardiogram (a TEE, a rather invasive Echo Cardiogram), and the CAT scan.  Everything is working as it should.

My blood was drawn so much I teased one of the nurses that they needed to leave me at least a little bit.  She giggled and said, "Yeah.  Sorry Paul, we have taken a lot, haven't we?"  My brain was looked at and tested with electrodes, powerful magnets, etc.

Every single test they did (save the MRIs) came back  "normal".

After two days of testing, I was released.  We had tested all we could test.  We know I had at least three strokes.  We don't know why.  And the evidence of the strokes doesn't support the magnitude of the symptoms and memory loss I experienced.  In fact, as one of the Neurologists said, "It doesn't even come close to what we would expect to see".

So.  I experienced a traumatic brain injury due to stroke, but I have returned to normal with no explanation at all.  There is enough damaged tissue that it can't be ignored, yet it's not enough to explain the trauma.  I believe I experienced a miracle.

For whatever reason, I had at least three strokes.  I had hundreds of people all over the globe praying for me, and I believe God heard those prayers and answered them with a miraculous healing.  Trust me, I don't by any means think I am special or that God loves me more than someone who has not experienced a miracle.  I do believe He wants me here, fully capable to fulfill whatever it is He has for me in the future.  I believe this is why I was healed.  Jonathon pointed out, "If nothing else, this will make one heck of a sermon someday!"

There may be another reason, too.  As I have said several times, I had two Neurologists looking after me.  One is a believer and agrees with me.  A miracle is the only explanation that makes any sense at all.  The other is not a believer.  I thank God for him, because he was determined to figure this out.  He is the one who ordered the second MRI (the one that proved I DID have at least three strokes).  He is the one who has ordered extra blood tests.  He is the one who, after seeing the Echo Cardiogram decided to do the TEE so he could see my heart more clearly.  He didn't want to accept "A Miracle" as the answer, but even he eventually admitted, "Sometimes the human body does things we just can't explain..."  To which I replied,

"That sir, is the definition of 'Miracle'".