Tuesday, April 4th Update
Here is a letter John Keating asked Ken Noecker to draft on his behalf—we all acknowledge that it does not quite reflect his style, but we thought it was still worth posting. We also enclosed a recent picture: you can see he is looking well!
Dear Family and Friends,
I have been longing to write to you since experiencing my stroke a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the stroke has left me unable, at this point, to put my thoughts in writing. I have, therefore, asked one of my brothers in The Servants of the Word to help me write to you to express my love and appreciation for all the prayers, letters, texts, and other messages of encouragement and support you have sent my way. I have been literally overwhelmed by this outpouring of support. I would prefer to be able to respond to each of you personally but I trust you will understand this more general letter of thanks. I love you all immensely.
I am currently back at my base in Manila where I am undergoing further medical attention to try and determine the cause of my stroke. So far, there are no definitive findings other than confirming that I did, indeed, suffer a pretty significant stroke. The stroke has affected a larger portion of the left hemisphere of my brain than was originally suspected. By God’s grace, I have escaped physical impairment. I am able to do everything I was capable of prior to the stroke. I am able to go about life normally and am even able to exercise in the same manner I did in the past.
What has been affected is some part of my speech as well as my ability to compose written communication. I am undergoing speech therapy and seeing some progress but I still experience difficulty in saying names and in naming other things. My memory has not been affected and the part of my brain responsible for rational processes is working like normal. I am just not able to bring forth all that I remember, know or understand in speech or other forms of communication.
During the three weeks I spent in Israel after the stroke, I was suspecting that my recovery would be rapid and complete. I was planning on getting back to life as normal and to again picking up my responsibilities in short order. There were days when I was impatient and frustrated that I was not able to speak and communicate as I wanted. As those three weeks went on, it became clear to me that things may not happen as quickly as I was planning or expecting. After returning to Manila and discovering the full extent of my stroke I have had to surrender my hopes and plans as well as my current disabilities to the Lord and his plan for me. At this point, I do not know whether I will recover fully or how much I will recover. If I do recover, I do not know when. I am not sure what kind of service I will be capable of in the months and years to come. In all of this, I have surrendered my frustrations, my anxieties, my present and my future into the hands of the Lord. I trust that he will allow me to recover what he desires and in the timing that he desires. In the meantime, I am applying myself diligently to speech therapy and I am giving thanks to God for any progress I do see.
I will ask for your ongoing prayers during this time. God willing, I look forward to seeing many of you in the year(s) to come. In the meantime, I beg your patience and understanding if I am unable to respond to each of you personally.
With great love and affection,
Tuesday, March 14th Update
John Keating arrived safely in Manila on Saturday night, accompanied by Ken Noecker. The trip was uneventful and John traveled very well. He didn’t sleep much on the Amsterdam—Taipei—Manila trip, but that is par for the course for John’s trans-continental flights. So it was a smart decision by Ken to break up the journey and stop for an extra night in Amsterdam.
And now, after arrival in Manila and a good night’s sleep, John is in fine shape. He will lay very low the next few days and then start the various follow-up medical tests. He will visit a speech therapist to assess whether ongoing speech therapy might assist him in regaining his fluency more quickly. He continues to make progress but it is going more slowly than we expected. Not surprisingly John is already a bit impatient; it seems God is using these 40 Days of Lent to teach him patience.
Thank you for your continued prayers. Updates will be more sporadic now, given that there will likely be less to report.
Monday, March 6th Update
John is doing well and improving little by little. He is physically well and able to do all he has been accustomed to. His biggest struggle is with his speech. He remembers everything, both distant and more proximate, but is often unable to say names or produce all he would like to say.
He and Ken Noecker will be flying out of Israel this coming Thursday and arriving in Manila on Saturday evening. Pray that the trip goes well and that John will be able to recover all of his speech and language capabilities.
Thanks for your concern and for all your prayers across the world! We are counting on them.
Sunday, February 26th Update
John is recovering well and the doctors expect him to make a full recovery. He is physically active and has no difficulties with normal daily activities. The main area still affected is his speech. He is making progress but that will take a little while to mend and return to normal.
The current plan is for him to stay in Israel until March 9th. At that time he will be accompanied by Ken Noecker and will most likely return to the Philippines for further recuperation. Ken Noecker is currently with him and will be so till he returns home.
John has greatly appreciated all your prayers and expressions of support. Please continue to lift him up to the Lord.
Tuesday, February 21st Update
John was discharged from hospital yesterday (Monday) and is now staying at the residence of Bishop Georges. His speech is improving. His main problem is not being able to say anyone’s names (and for John that’s a lot of names), though today for the first time he was able to say his own name and the names of his siblings. It’s not that he doesn’t remember names, it’s just that he can’t articulate them. He has 90% or more of his vocabulary, but some words still elude him. He is otherwise fit and well, showing no signs of loss of balance or mobility that he had a few days ago. He is in good spirits and handling his temporary disability with grace. The doctors have said that he will recover his speech in full, but it will take a bit of time, and they have also said he should not travel for at least two weeks.
Check this website or the S/W Facebook page for regular updates.
Our brother John Keating suffered a minor stroke while traveling in late February.
John is currently in Israel. He arrived in Haifa this past Friday, February 24th, after a very long and arduous flight. Upon his arrival, those with whom he is staying noticed unusual behavior including lack of coherence in John’s speech and lack of balance in his movements. Later that day John continued to exhibit these symptoms as well as some memory issues. John was examined by a doctor whose judgment was that John was suffering from serious exhaustion due to his trip from the Philippines. John slept through the night and exhibited some improvement when he woke, but as time went on the memory issues and some balance issues persisted. John was then taken to a hospital where he underwent a full battery of tests including neurological exams which exhibited the stroke.
The neurologists who examined John believe John’s memory and balance should be back to normal in three to four weeks. They do, however, want to keep him in the hospital for the next two to three days for further observation. They have also said that he should not travel for the next few weeks.
Ken Noecker, our presiding elder, is flying to Israel on Thursday in order to care for John and to be with him till he is able to travel. In the meantime, Richard Perry is in Israel and is looking after him.