About Us

Tony and Giana

Pastor Tony Bartolucci and his daughter, Giana

If you would like to more information please visit Pastor Tony’s webpage: http://www.tonybartolucci.com/XmasEve.htm

June 19, 2016:

Dear friends, I wish I had what all of us would consider good news. I don’t. The news I do have is that “Giana’s journey” has come to an end, but not in the way we’d hoped.

She had surgery on the evening of the 15th to reinsert the section of skull that was removed the night of our accident on December 24. This is a routine procedure; in fact, the surgery itself went great. However, during the one hour post-surgical recovery period, Giana’s carbon dioxide levels rose causing acute swelling of her brain. At least that’s the theory right now. By the time this was discovered it was too late, she had suffered significant additional brain damage. As I understand, the acting and senior surgeons, with a combined 40 years experience, have not seen this occur before. The pressure on Giana’s brain could not be brought down enough to prevent catastrophic brain damage and subsequent death. Steps are being taken for organ donation, something we believe Giana would want – the gift of life coming out of such tragedy.

Lois and I have not experienced anything as excruciatingly painful as what we’ve endured the past 6 months. We know it’s not going to get any easier in the short-term. But we know that, as bad as it’s been, it could be far worse.

Giana was a true believer in Jesus Christ. She was trusting in Him alone as her Savior and Lord, the one who made an all-sufficient payment for her sin. She died united with Him and clothed in His perfect righteousness. I had the privilege of baptizing her a few years ago. She demonstrated the reality of her conversion with her life, as well as the deepest desires of her heart. She is now beholding the face of her Savior. And we will soon be reunited with her around His throne.

As we read in Revelation 21:4, all who have been born again by His grace will inherit a place where:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Until that time, we will be in pain, we will cry, and we will mourn – but not like those who have no such hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

We received a note from a friend who is a biblical counselor and had been walking Giana through some personal struggles. Her note reads in part:

“I will always cherish the time the Lord gave me to get to know your child intimately. She blessed my life. I remember the last time we met I gave her a big hug – as always. She had found a place in my heart that few people find. I considered her ‘one of my sweet girls’ that I prayed for and agonized over every moment of her life. She was so precious to me. . . . Her love and care for others was rare in one so young and there were times when I was simply overwhelmed by the blessing that God had given to me to allow me to be a part of her life. . . . She will always be close to my heart and I when I think of heaven – Giana will be part of my joyful anticipation of what heaven holds for me one day.”

She continues:

“I want to share one small journey that Giana and I had together. As she struggled, I challenged her one week that each of us has to make a decision in our lives – Will we seek after those things in this world that seem to bring temporary joy or will we live our lives with eternal values – seeking and resting in whatever God chooses to do in our lives that will bring Him glory. I gave her a week to think and pray about that question. I told her it was a very important decision that she must make for her life. She came back the next week having given very careful consideration to what I had said. I asked her if she had made a decision. She was very deliberate and clear in her response. (I don’t have to tell you that Giana was a very intelligent and articulate young woman). She said, ‘I want to live for whatever God chooses to do in my life that will bring Him glory.’ While we could not have known this is what God would have chosen for Giana – we can, as those she has left behind, be her voice – be her voice to make sure that all who ever hear her name know that Giana’s  life was all about bringing God glory no matter what He chose to do with her life.”

 

Continue to pray for us. The pain is beyond description. Psalm 6:6 is an apt description:

“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.”

Pray for Giana’s grandparents, as well as other relatives and loved ones.

Pray also that the gospel be honored and proclaimed.

Thank you for your concern, prayers, cards and gifts. We love you and will keep you updated on any further events.

Much love,

Tony and Lois Bartolucci

Giana Bartolucci’s Obituary:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/democratandchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=giana-marie-bartolucci&pid=180436999

Giana’s memorial service at Spencerport Bible Church on June 26, 2016 can be found by following this link:

Giana’s Memorial Service

 

Giana’s Journey. June 11 update.

Written by Tony Bartolucci.
Here’s a link to our story: http://www.tonybartolucci.com/XmasEve.htm

Giana is scheduled for surgery on June 15 to reattach her bone flap. She will get a new “hair cut” from the surgical barber, but her beautiful locks will grow back.

Of course, that’s of little consequence compared to the actual procedure, recovery, and subsequent neurological progress we pray for.

In fact, the hospital administrators, working from experience, told us that the health insurance company may put us on a short leash after Giana’s surgery. Even though our policy covers x amount of days, they reserve the right to terminate coverage short of that number by deeming the rate of her progress (or even the type) insufficient.

Speaking of progress, I usually qualify Giana’s progress as being relatively slow. However, it’s been less than 6 months post-accident and 4 post-coma. The brain heals s l o w l y. This is why we often don’t notice the changes that are apparent to those who haven’t seen her in some time.

I continue to do “Daddy Rehab” with her each day. I love being “coach” and long for the day when Giana can better communicate and interact with me.

The movement and coordination of her left arm has greatly improved. She can give a high-five, touch my nose or ear when asked, and get her arm about 2/3 fully extended. Her fingers are improved but her wrist is still bent at a near 90 degree angle.

We have an app on an iPad (generously donated by friends) that displays a large “yes” and “no” button. Giana can answer some questions by touching the appropriate button and is improving in her ability to do so.

For example, One of the questions a therapist recently asked was “do you have a pet hippopotamus at home?” I watched her change course from several previous “yes” answers to reach across to the “no” button, definitely a conscious move.

There are times when the reality of what happened rolls over me and I feel as if I’m drowning. Like glancing into the sun, I have to look away.

In Philippians 2:2 the apostle Paul speaks of his joy being made complete. I think of this when I pray for Giana. Our joy will be complete when she is restored.

I’m the meantime we so appreciate the prayers of our Christian brothers and sisters, many of whom we’ve not met.

Please continue to pray for the continued and ultimate restoration of her ability to remember, reason, and know. (To remember her past, to reason, and to know who she is in Christ.)

Pray also for:

Her surgery on Wednesday, June 15 (I will update you on the time as soon as we know). It’s not uncommon that brain injury patients get a boost in progress following this surgery, which may be why insurance companies increase their scrutiny at this time.
Pray that the renewed integrity of her skull foster increased healing – healing that could potentially help lesson muscle spasticity, improve cognition and general sense of well-being, hasten the ability to talk, and restore her ability to keep her head up.

Pray that she develop a desire to eat. While she can eat small amounts of yogurt and pudding, she doesn’t really have a desire to do so. Rekindling that desire is a key to her eating again.

Pray for continual growth in her ability to communicate and ultimately for the restoration of her ability to talk.

Pray that she will be comforted as she grows in self-awareness of her circumstances.

Pray for protection from the potentially damaging effects of radiation from the myriads of Xrays and CT scans she has had (and those she will yet have).

P.S. I write these updates from my perspective, but Lois is a more-than-equal partner in this journey. She is a tireless worker. Her faith and optimism buoy my spirit. Please pray for her as well.

Giana’s Journey. May 31 update. Written by Tony Bartolucci

(Forgive the disjointed nature of this post.)

It’s been over two weeks since my last update. There isn’t much new to share; but as several have reminded me, each day brings more healing – and it’s not something you can necessarily see.

In that last update I shared what a typical day for Giana looks like. What about her parents? What does our day look like? Here is a partial list.

I generally get to Giana’s room by 8:30 am. She has speech therapy from 8:30 to 9:30. After that, an hour break, during which we get her ready and in her wheelchair for a 10:30 occupational therapy appointment. At 11:00 we head over to the PT room for 30 minutes of physical therapy (we often participate in these sessions).

After PT it’s back to the room for lunch before a 60 minute PT/OT session at 1:00.

We later try to get out for a walk (outside if the weather permits).

Figuring that I ought to make the most of the 15 hours I’m with her each day, I started an early evening exercise routine with G. So each day I’ve been putting her through the paces. Starting with her right leg, I’ll have her push against my shoulder with her foot (in leg press fashion) doing 15-20 reps. Then I’ll move to the left leg, right arm, and left arm. I’ll also walk through some other movements and stretches.

To strengthen her swallowing I’ve been feeding her some yogurt, pudding, or thickened juice.

Around 8:00 pm we assist in getting G cleaned up and ready for bed.

By 10:30 pm we finish her evening feed and make sure she’s ready for a good night’s sleep.

Now for the rest of the update….

A few Saturdays ago the activities coordinator stopped by to let me know that there would be a piano concert later on the afternoon. Lois was out running errands so I thought it would be good for Giana and me to check out.

When we arrived I expected someone playing classical music on a baby grand. Rather, it was an older gentleman playing a keyboard and singing.

We sat in the front while he performed music from Frank Sinatra to Billy Joel. We both greatly enjoyed the concert (Giana was even smiling).

A week ago Lois’ cousin came to visit from out of town. She hadn’t seen G since she was in ICU at Strong (4 months ago) so she was quite pleased seeing her at this stage in her recovery.

She also brought a gift for Giana: her mother’s lifesize “Goose” figurine, along with 12 seasonal outfits for each month of the yea. From the time she was a toddler G liked the Goose and would look for it whenever we visited this special aunt who passed away 2 years ago.

When presented with the goose Giana broke out in a smile.

This morning she did really well in speech therapy getting over 35 strong swallows while playing the archery biofeedback game.

In physical therapy she was back in the standing frame and did 3 sessions of 5 min each. Considering that she hasn’t been upright in about 5 days she really did well.

We trust that she continues to improve. We don’t always perceive it, but those who go weeks between visits remark about the changes they see. Since the last update she does seem to understand more, cooperate more, and shows increased strength in her right leg.

However, each week has its share of agonizing ups and downs. This ordeal has been uniquely difficult for me and it’s rare that a day goes by without tears.

However, it’s helpful to focus on what God has given (and will give) not what he has taken away. What he could have taken away, but has given. Where Giana is compared to where she was (weeks ago). Where she is going compared to where she is now.

To trust in God, not in self or men. To focus on today, not worry about tomorrow. To not look behind, but to press on to the goal.

“Oh sovereign Lord! Hear my cry even as you see my tears. Bring healing to our girl. I plead with you as never before. Restore her to remember, to reason, and to know – most of all to know and serve you.”

Believing friends, I ask that you don’t grow weary in joining me in ceaseless prayer for our girl.

While we always pray that God might hasten the healing process, Giana’s journey could last a long time. As the Spirit leads, stay the course.

Here are some prayer points:

Pray for her neurological recovery. Specifically, to remember, to reason and to know. (That she will remember her past, regain the ability to reason, and know who she is – including who she is in Christ.)

Pray for her upcoming surgery date, June 15, when she is scheduled to have her bone flap replaced (the portion of her skull removed the night of the accident to relieve pressure on the brain).

Pray for protection from colds, viruses, and infections.

Continue to pray for relief from the head/neck problem I’ve described in the past (when she is in an upright position she wants to pull her head down to her chest rather than hold it up). Perhaps no other issue has been as detrimental to her rehab sessions and progress as this one.

Pray for protection from the potentially damaging effects of radiation from the myriads of Xrays and CT scans she has had (and those she will yet have).

Thank you for your prayers, love, and support.

Giana’s Journey: Update for May 13 . Written by Tony Bartolucci.

For those of you wondering what Giana’s schedule is like, each weekday she has an hour of speech therapy in the morning followed by 30 minutes each of physical and occupational therapy. In the afternoon she has an hour of combined PT/OT. (She gets significantly less on weekends.) Lois and I attend the sessions with her, helping out where we can.

One of the things Giana works on in speech therapy is the redevelopment of her swallowing. I’m the past her success has largely been measured in terms of number of swallows during a session. However, she’s been doing so well that the therapist decided to measure ounces rather than count swallows (typically of a thickened juice). The goal set by the therapist this week for ounces in a single season was two. Yesterday Giana met her goal.

At the same time she was also able to try out some high-tech gadgetry. The speech therapist hooked her up to a device connected to a computer. A big screen displays a bow/arrow at the bottom with colored balloons scrolling across the top. A swallow releases an arrow. The goal is to swallow in time to pop the leading red balloon.  Giana did well and seemed to enjoy the new game.

She also continues to develop her beautiful smile. Two days in a row she smiled while watching the classic TV show I Love Lucy, the first time she has smiled while watching something other than animation.

I often play silly games with her. A new one this week was the “stop kicking my pillows on the floor” game.  This game started while she was in her back in bed moving her left leg back and forth like a car windshield wiper. I stacked two pillows at the foot of the bed and she promptly kick the pillows on the floor. I  responded with a “Hey, don’t kick my pillows on the floor!” and developed this story that I rented that space on the bed to store my pillows; she needed to leave them alone. As she kicked them off I would put them back while making my way over to her side of the bed  saying, “We need to talk about this….” – but before I could get very far she would kick them off again  starting the cycle all over again. Meanwhile, she’d respond with smiles and laughs.

Something significant that happened today occurred during her 30 minute morning PT session. Giana was lying on her side in bed. Starting with her shoulder and then her leg she purposefully flipped herself onto her back. I asked her to roll back on her side. She tried and was able to with help. Then I asked her to roll onto her back again and she did.

It seems that each week we are something new in her. It’s also encouraging when someone who hasn’t seen or worked with her in several weeks comments about how much better she’s doing (something we often hear).

While we’re thankful for the progress, there’s so much further to go. The prayer needs largely remain the same from last time when I wrote:

“We humbly ask that every believer pray incessantly for Giana. Please pray for her continued neurological and physical healing. Pray that she would regain the ability to communicate – especially to talk, reason and remember. Pray that the spasticity on her left side would diminish and the strength on her right side increase. In short, pray that she be restored.”

P.S. As for me, I had an appointment with the burn clinic at Strong and the surgeon was thrilled with how my skin grafts look. After looking at my hand his resident assistant  remarked, “That is the best graft on the worst burn I’ve ever seen.”

I continue in occupational therapy for that same hand hoping to regain full use of it.  I now have a custom made glove that helps the graft to heal well. In a few weeks I’ll be seeing the retina specialist to address my vision issues in my right eye, which we hope will continue to heal on its own (the same goes for the town muscles in my back).

P.P.S. Lois and I are literally consumed with Giana’s care and rehab. We literally live on site. Please pray for continued health and strength for us.

 

From Pastor Tony:  May 10. We have settled in to the routine after two weeks in our new rehab setting. Giana gets a little less activity than previously, but the therapists here are very good and have been trying some new things with her.
Over the past two weeks we’ve seen some positive changes and achievements.

Giana is smiling more. She has smiled for her physical and occupational therapists, a first. She also has smiled (and snickered) while watching animated movies on the computer (Eg. “The Incredibles” and “Home”), another first.

She smiles and chuckles when I (Tony) play around with her. For example, she habitually moves her left leg back and forth and all I have to do is point and say, “What did I tell you about moving that leg?” and she breaks out in a broad grin.

She continues to develop her “voice” (not yet talking but exercising those vocal chords). A few times she has made some unusual sounds which make us hope that real words aren’t too far away.

In speech therapy she tasted real food (yogurt) for the first time. During her first try, however, she could not navigate the yogurt back in her mouth in order to swallow it; she needed a little juice “chaser” in order to do so. That changed the very next day, however. She again tried some yogurt and was able to swallow it solo. Since that time she has tried tiny amounts of vanilla pudding, oatmeal, and apple sauce. The strength of her swallow was tested and the numbers were excellent. She’s not ready to eat the normal way, but she’s headed in the right direction.

The team here continue the work of getting Giana on her feet (she was cleared for weight-bearing less than a month ago). On most days she does some assisted standing (by “assisted” I mean completely supported by man or machine). She’s gotten some record times in, like 30 total minutes on the tilt table. This gives her muscles a good stretch and the positive experience of being upright with feet on the ground.

We recently met with the surgeon and now have a June date scheduled to have her bone flap replaced, something we have been anxious to get done.

We humbly ask that every believer pray incessantly for Giana. Please pray for her continued neurological and physical healing. Pray that she would regain the ability to communicate – especially to talk, reason and remember. Pray that the spasticity on her left side would diminish and the strength on her right side increase. In short, pray that she be restored.

Giana has such a very long way to go and it’s easy to get discouraged. But we have to look at how far she’s come and be thankful for the progress she continues to make. We pray that God will continue to bring healing to her mind and body – even hastening the day – until it is complete.

April 25, 2016:  Giana is continuing to receive daily rehabilitation and showing positive signs as she settles in to a new facility. Please continue to pray for Pastor Tony, Lois and Giana.  They appreciate the prayers, cards, meals, and gifts that folks have kindly given to them (and continue to!).  Thank you for your continued support of them, especially your prayers for Giana.

April 12, 2016:  Giana update from her dad, Pastor Tony.

By God’s grace, we saw a few milestones reached today.

First, Giana consistently voiced for the first time. This is the first big step toward being able to form words.

Second, after a visit to her orthopedic surgeon, and another series of x-rays, she was cleared for weight-bearing during therapy. This means she can now work toward standing up. Her physical therapist was so excited with the news that upon our return she wasted no time getting a host of volunteers together in the gym to stand Giana up for the first time. Supported by her aides, she stood upright two times, about 20 seconds each time.

So, three big things today – milestones, if you will. Please keep praying as Giana needs to pass many more on her way to recovery.

March 14, 2016:  Below is a summary of a long awaited update. We can’t thank all of you enough for the many kind thoughts, prayers, cards, emails, gifts, meals and help for the Bartoluccis. Your continued prayers on this lengthy road to healing are appreciated so much.

Tony: Today he had an eye doctor appt. as he has been experiencing some vision problems.  After a battery of tests, the diagnosis is “combined central retinal vein occlusion and central retinal artery occlusion.”  The doc says that his vision may clear on its own. If not, he will need further treatment. He continues with OT 3 times a week. The torn muscles on his back should hopefully heal on their own (please pray this heals as well as his eye).

Giana: She is settling in and making steady progress with her therapies. She has developed increased strength in her core and neck. Her fractured pelvis is still healing so weight bearing will have to wait as the orthopedic doctor has still prohibited it. Her burns are healing nicely.  Prayer needs for her are guidance for medications, including weaning of her pain meds, timing of her trach removal, more purposeful movements, response to commands and ability to communicate.

And for Tony and Lois, please pray for strength and joy in the midst of the daily demands -for the ability to see God’s purposes and the “big picture” and not get lost and bogged down in the mundane. Also, please pray for decisions regarding updates at their home to prepare for Giana’s homecoming.  Thank you all once again for the numerous ways you have helped the Bartolucci family through this most difficult trial.

 

February 27, 2016: From Pastor Tony-

Friday:
* Giana has a consistent defensive eyelid blink-reflex demonstrating intact higher brain function.
* She had her trach plugged for 9 hours and her oxygen levels were fine.
* She used her voice while crying (on her exhale). It wasn’t loud, but it was consistent and could be clearly heard. This was the first consistent use of her “voice.”                                                                                                                           We have a long way to go, but are thankful for how far our Lord has carried us. May He continue. As always, we covet your continued prayers. >Soli Deo Gloria<

February 25, 2016: From Pastor Tony- Giana had a very good day of therapy today, in spite of the fact she was really sleepy. She did well on her swallow response, was able to follow verbal instructions, signaling with her eyes (she knows her name and that she doesn’t live in FL!) When her right arm was touched and the therapist asked her to move that arm, she did so immediately.  We also had a young man visit who was in a bad car accident in 2012, spent 2 months in a coma, was subsequently several weeks in treatment here in a condition not unlike G’s. Now he’s at Monroe Community College (studying to be a PT), he plays tennis, and he volunteers here every week. We hope he can be an encouragement to Giana in the future. The previous two evenings were very difficult and painfully emotional for me. I’m thankful for a day that brought more sunshine than rain.

February 20, 2016: From Pastor Tony- A few days ago Giana was transferred to Unity Hospital to start therapy (swallowing, moving her hands, legs, sitting up, etc. Due to complications with her GI tube she was officially discharged from Unity after only being there 2.5 days, in order to go back to Strong for her G-tube replacement (Strong put it in and had to be the one to replace it). Now, in order for Giana to go back to rehab at Unity the insurance has to be resubmitted all over again as if we were starting all over again which cannot be done until Monday. Please pray the insurance company works quickly so that Giana can get back to her much needed rehabilitation.

February 17, 2016:  Today was moving day for Giana!  She was loaded up onto a stretcher, dressed in real clothes, and taken by transport ambulance to the Golisano Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation Unit at Unity Hospital. At the rehab unit, Giana, Tony and Lois were greeted by doctors, nurses, and therapists (Speech, Occupational and Physical).  Giana was examined, and evaluated.  She will be receiving 3 ½ hours of therapy 5 days a week and 3 hours a day on the weekends.  She was cooperative and they seemed pleased with what she could do and how much they can help her.  The fact that she can’t weight bear on her right leg for another month (due to the severity of the fractures she had) does put a little glitch in the plans but they have lots of other things they can work on to help her reach her full potential.  Today they sat her up on the side of the bed, dangling her legs, and she tolerated it well.

Please keep up the prayers and encouraging cards/notes.  Prayers needed for: Good sleep for Tony, Lois and Giana, wisdom for a strategic meeting tomorrow concerning Giana’s rehab and discharge planning, outstanding progress for Giana in every way, Tony and Lois would be a good witness for the Lord in this new environment (they already met a couple of Christians who work there!). Also, wisdom for how best to prepare for Giana’s discharge from rehab and however else you feel led by the Holy Spirit.

February 15, 2016:  Tony and Lois were able to tour the rehab center that Giana will be moving to. Giana will (Lord willing!) be moving to the rehab unit this week.  Lois asked that we pray for all of the details be worked out for a smooth transition –moving, settling in, getting Tony to OT, meals, transportation, etc!   Also, that Giana doesn’t experience any more of the fevers that occasionally pop up.  And ultimately, a very successful rehab experience!

February 12, 2016: From Pastor Tony- Bartolucci Update. Giana had a difficult first half of her day. She alternately appeared to be emotional or in pain. She was transferred to the reclining chairin her room – something they like to do to get her up and in a different position (something other than prone). To protect her brain (she still has a skin flap) hospital policy requires use of a helmet whenever she is out of bed. I don’t think it fits quite right which added to her apparent misery. After a while I talked to the nurse and they moved her back into bed. After that she was fine.

We got an anticipated visit from the neurologist at the Unity Hospital Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation Center (this is a top-notch facility that we’ve heard so many here at Strong rave about – especially in their work with kids). We were hoping to see her on Wednesday, but she didn’t make her usual rounds. This past Monday she was here and talked about moving Giana there sooner rather than later.

The neurologist’s main concern was that Giana’s hands, which were injured, be cleared by orthopedics to safely bear her weight (a requirement for rehab). Orthopedics has been hard to pin down as to a definitive answer. Providentially, God put a resident physician from orthopedics in Giana’s room while the visiting neurologist was there. She expressed her concern and need for a definite answer which the resident got less than 30 minutes later: Giana’s hands are good to go. The plan is to discharge her from Strong so that she can be admitted to Unity on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. This would be a huge step forward. Thank you Lord!

Fast forward to tonight. Giana was awake but not very alert. Lois kept her occupied by reading Bible stories. A little later, right as she was falling asleep, I read from Pilgrim’s Progress.

One last thing that I thought was cool: Giana’s night nurse told me that she has watched – as I’ve entered the room after being gone – Giana’s blood pressure go down a few points when she sees me. An observation that Giana is indeed a “daddy’s girl” who feels safer when I’m around (not that mommy’s a slouch – but there’s just something unique between a girl and her dad).

Brothers and sisters, keep praying. The updates are encouraging, but we are still talking about a girl who can’t talk or move very much. Lots of ground yet to cover – but we will get there, one step at a time, by God’s mercy and grace.

Much love to you all from a frigid Rochester, NY

February 8, 2016: From Pastor Tony-  Giana Praise Report. Since 8:30 pm I’ve been hanging out in the lounge staying busy while Lois has been with Giana. I look at the time: it’s 10:30, about when we normally head back to our room. So I walk back down the hall to see if Lois is ready to go. The room is dark and Lois is on her phone. I go inside and see Giana laying there with her eyes wide open staring at the ceiling. “Why aren’t you sleeping?” I ask. Bending down so she can clearly see me, I tell her that I was just talking to grandma and grandpa – how they love her and are praying for her. As I’m telling her these things she starts to frown looking like she’s going to burst into tears. She was getting all emotional hearing about grandma and grandpa in Arizona. I talk to her some more and her face changes expression in keeping with the subject matter.

Then I tell her how daddy got hurt also. I hold my bandaged right hand in front of her as evidence. She calmly looks at it. Suddenly her expression changes and she looks like she’s going to cry. “It’s all right sweetheart,” I assure her. “Daddy’s going to be okay and so are you.” With more words of assurance her expression changes back to normal.

This is the most lucid and expressive I’ve seen her to date. Clearly she hears and comprehends. I know they’re going to be ups and downs-the proverbial roller coaster-but this has been a very encouraging day. All honor and praise to Jesus Christ!  Thanks for reading and keeping up with our journey. Even greater thanks for caring and praying.

February 6, 2016: From Pastor Tony- Just said good night to Giana. Lois and I prayed over her. She was sleeping so peacefully and looked so beautiful, like a cute little angel.  Earlier, Giana had a pained expression on her face – looking like she wanted to cry. It is common that kids, as the brain heals and they become more aware, show emotions (like wanting to cry). So, as hard as it is to see her in this condition, it is a good sign. The night nurse confirmed this and has seen patients Giana’s age who have traveled this path to recovery. She also noted that Giana has made noises with her voice as if trying to talk. These are little signs but signs nonetheless. Lastly she told us that it’s usually a roller coaster ride for the parents who experience the ups and downs of their child appearing improved one day and worse the next – sort of what I experienced Thursday to Friday.

February 2, 2016:  Tony celebrated his 53rd birthday today by being discharged from the hospital with his sense of humor, appreciation for Lois, and abiding faith in God and our Lord Jesus Christ intact! He moved to the in-hospital Ronald McDonald House. This is such a blessing and so convenient for his outpatient appts for burn care and physical therapy. He is still sore from the burns, donor sites and muscle aches. Giana developed a fever today so is now getting some antibiotics while they wait for the results of cultures that were taken. She is beginning to respond some to some simple commands which is a wonderful answer to prayer but she has a long way to go! Various therapies work with her each day and the doctors continue to tweak her medications to maximize her comfort and progress. The burn doctor is hoping to auto-graft some remaining areas on her left leg later this week. Thank you to all for continued prayers for the Bartoluccis.

 January 26, 2016:  Tony had a good day – he is healing well and is moving around better. The social workers are trying to make arrangements for Tony and Lois to stay at the Ronald McDonald house after his discharge. Giana continues to heal with no signs of infection and her vital signs are great! Giana is scheduled for another burn surgery. Lois continues to appreciate notes and e-mails of encouragement. Please continue your prayers for the family, especially Giana.

January 25, 2016:  Tony is uncomfortable especially in his legs where they took the skin for his hands’ auto-grafts which makes it hard to get up and move.  But he continues to heal well without infection or complication. Giana had a busy day today as she was moved out of the PICU to a room in the new Golisano Children’s Hospital. She had OT (Occupational therapy), PT (physical therapy). Prayer requests would be as stated in previous updates (especially for Giana’s brain to heal) and additionally: *the anticipated auto-graft surgery on Giana’s upper leg *the right balance of medications for Giana *God’s perfect timing for Giana’s transfer to rehab (possibly February) *God’s perfect timing for Tony’s discharge from the hospital. We thank you so much for your continued prayers for the Bartolucci family.

January 22, 2016:  Tony had his right hand (the hand that was burned the worst) auto-graft surgery yesterday and the surgeon was very pleased with how the procedure progressed. After 5 days the bandages will be taken off and then another week passes before Occupational Therapy is resumed. Giana had the burns on her back auto-grafted this week, too, and had a programmable shunt implanted that will drain extra fluid out of her skull at a rate set by the doctor. Her doctor was very pleased with her surgery, also, which is just such an answer to prayer! She had a good day today with increased facial expressions and as soon as the nurse said she was going to brush her teeth, Giana clamped her mouth shut! Lois anticipates Giana moving out of the PICU and to the Golisano Children’s Hospital in the next week. After which, she will most likely be transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital for rehab – there are some preparatory things being done now anticipating that move. Please don’t ease up on the prayers for Tony and Giana’s healing without infection or other complications, continued progress neurologically for Giana and whatever else comes to mind. Thank you for your prayers for them.

January 18, 2016:  Tony’s bandage/splint, etc was taken off his left hand today – the graft looks good per his doctor and now he can manipulate his dominate hand so much better. Thursday is his BIG DAY to get the auto -graft on his severely burned right hand so keep that in prayer and also his recovery over the next couple of weeks. Giana had music therapy today. Lois was able to meet with rehab doctors who made some recommendations concerning stimulating Giana’s brain while not over-stimulating her.  Reading to her, quiet music, quiet conversation are all good at this point.  They reassured Lois that Giana will continue to show more positive neurological signs and that there is time to address her other injuries before she goes to rehab.  Tomorrow she will have her leg burns dressing removed and later in the week, the burns on her back will be auto-grafted.  Please pray for the upcoming procedures Tony and Giana will be undergoing later this week.  Also, pray for wisdom for everyone involved in the ‘what next’ decisions.  Especially pray for Giana’s brain to continue to heal, the swelling to decrease and for her to show more positive and even deliberate responses to stimulation.

January 17, 2016:  Today was a quiet day for Tony, Lois and Giana – just maintenance care and rest with few visitors as they prepare for the week ahead.  Tony says his biggest concern is for Giana and so the following prayer requests are from Tony and Lois: *that Giana will show improvement neurologically with purposeful responses *that her brain would heal  *wisdom concerning moving Giana along to the next level of care- right time and place and peace for Tony and Lois *All of the procedures scheduled this week would be successful with no/few complications *the auto skin grafts would “take”  *good rest and sleep for Tony and Lois and that they would rest in faith in God’s sovereignty and His loving care.  Thank you for your continued prayers!

 January 16, 2016:  Giana had 2 procedures yesterday – one to insert a small tube directly into her stomach by which she will receive nutrition.  So, they were able to remove the tube from her nose and her face is tube free now!!  She also had a small tube inserted into her back that each hour drains a small amount of the extra fluid that is in her head.  She has definitely made tremendous progress in the last 3 weeks!  Tony is getting around fairly well.  It’s a constant struggle for him to find a comfortable position. Lois continues to appreciate all the cards and well wishes that have been sent and shares them with Tony and Giana, too.  She says she hopes that people don’t stop sending them as time goes on!  It’s amazing how many folks have written to them from ALL over.

January 14, 2016:  So 3 weeks ago tonight, we were just beginning to absorb the shock and dismay of the injuries that Tony and Giana had sustained in the car accident. We have all been affected by that one second of time and have seen God working throughout all of this. All praise, honor and glory to Him!

Tony is readjusting to needing a little more help with eating, etc. as both his hands are pretty much all bandaged up. His pain seems to be managed fairly well. Last night Giana had some fluid drained from her back which has improved the pressure in her brain. She began her day with the usual monitoring and care and was once again lifted into a chair for a while! She had some grafts done on her burns and will have more surgery on those in a few weeks.

So please continue to pray for these dear folks in their journey toward restored health , especially for Giana’s procedures tomorrow, no infections develop and that she would continue to make positive progress neurologically.

January 13, 2016: Tony went to surgery and had grafts put over the burns on his left hand, left arm and abdomen.  Everything went well and he is moving well up and about.  However, he once again has an IV and a drain and different areas that hurt and it is more difficult to use his dominant hand again. Giana had another tube removed today and this afternoon the nurses got her up into a chair with a snazzy helmet on to protect her head!  It is a constant battle to keep her as alert as possible but manage her pain to keep her comfortable. Tomorrow she will have another burn surgery on her left leg – some areas look great and others just so so. The burns on her back look good and are healing well.  She continues to breathe on her own without the ventilator. Some things to pray about for Giana include: swelling on her brain would go down, tomorrow’s burn surgery and good pain management. For Tony:  healing of his burns and other injuries, good pain management and good rest/sleep. And for Lois: good rest/sleep, continued peace and encouragement and wisdom. We cannot thank you enough for your continued prayers for the Bartoluccis.

January 12, 2016:  The Lord continues the work to heal Giana and Tony’s bodies in wonderful ways.  Since her neck is now stable, she no longer has to wear the cervical collar so you can see her whole beautiful face!  The nurses are so happy they can move her to care for her and not worry about hurting her neck anymore.  Physical therapy also started with some exercises with her.  She actually is off the ventilator and breathing completely on her own (with just a little oxygen and humidity)!!  The nurse commented tonight that Giana has never had a set back with her respiratory status which is just a great answer to all of our prayers!  Tony has surgery scheduled tomorrow to have permanent grafts applied to the burns on his left hand/arm and abdomen.  He was able to go up to Giana’s room and spend quite awhile with her this afternoon and seems to be in good spirits.  Please pray that Tony’s surgery tomorrow would be successful, continued healing without complications and for wisdom with future decisions – of which there will be many!

January 11, 2016:  Giana had a very important surgery this morning that went very well, praise God! The broken bones in her neck were fused which stabilized her neck. On her way to surgery, as she was being rolled into the elevator, she waved her hand – possibly (we hope) to say goodbye! She also seems to relax and close her eyes if someone sings to her. Her temp is down to around 100 or so which is good. They think her left hand will heal up on its own without surgery. Tony has been able to come up and visit her. For Tony every day is a little better than the day before with the burn treatments! Occupational therapy is working with him to do hand exercises. On Wednesday he is scheduled to have another burn surgery on his left arm and hand and stomach. Next week they will do another surgery on his left hand.  Please pray for continued healing for Giana and Tony and strength for Lois.  Thank you so much!

January 10, 2016:  Giana is definitely moving more than she was a week ago – Lois was told that last night when they were checking Giana’s response to pain, she swung at them with her hand!  She has a surgery on Monday for her neck – please pray that this upcoming surgery is successful and tolerated well by dear Giana.  Tony continues to have daily painful dressing changes on his burns.  So far, so good on the healing process.  So, keep praying, there will be new challenges in the week ahead that need fervent prayer…these updates may fade to just a couple of times a week – however, you can assume that no news is good news!

January 7, 2016:  Giana seems to be making good progress in many areas.  There are no major procedures scheduled for the next 3 days or so for Giana at this time, so she can rest and heal. Tony continues to have his burns treated which is definitely a painful process. Please continue to pray for good sleep for Lois and Tony.

January 6, 2016:  Tony felt much better today after the painful night he had last evening.  Giana had skin grafts on a few burns on her back and did well.  Please pray for continued healing from head to toe, pain management, protection from infection and fever, and good responses to her neuro exams.  Especially pray for wisdom for her medical teams as they prioritize her needs, and continued strength for us all.  Thanks for your continued love, prayers,and support!

January 5, 2016:  Today was a better day for the Bartolucci’s. Tony had his hand burn bandages removed and rewrapped – the burn doctor told Lois that he thought the burns looked better than he expected.  Continued prayer is needed for Giana’s tangled web of injuries – wisdom for the medical staff in what to do when and in what order –so progress isn’t hindered.  Also pray for healing of her brain, neck, burns, breaks, etc.  Prayer for Tony’s burns to heal, pain management and for he and Lois to be “Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:12      Thank you for your continued prayers for the Bartolucci family.

January 3, 2016:  Tony and Giana are having a fairly quiet weekend to rest and heal. The upcoming week will most likely bring more procedures for their burns and on Giana’s broken leg.  For both Tony & Giana our prayers can concentrate on keeping them infection free and for pain management. We can pray for wisdom for the doctors as well. Please pray for Lois to have some good restful times as well. Thank you all very much.

January 2, 2016:  Pastor Tony seems to have a better day than yesterday every day. He walked without the walker and is increasingly independent with mobility. He did come up to see Giana in a wheelchair, but stood and prayed by her bedside this time.  He is in some pain from the burns and yesterday’s surgery but it seems to be managed well. Giana continues to improve each day, too. She had a peaceful day as the nurses are able to adjust her medications to keep her comfortable prior to procedures which is an answer to prayer.

Lois is amazed by the thoughtful cards, notes, gifts from perfect strangers, etc.that she has received. What a blessing! Please keep praying that the Lord would bless the Bartoluccis with good rest and no infections as there are more surgeries coming this week.

January 1, 2016:  Pastor Tony and Giana had surgery yesterday on their burns, which went well. They will need several more surgeries in the weeks ahead. Please pray for healing of their burns, as some are quite deep and painful. Pastor Tony has been upgraded to satisfactory condition at this time, for which we are grateful.

December 31, 2015:  Pastor Tony is improving and eating regular food, walking more and having less abdominal pain.  He and Giana will be having surgery today on their burns and we ask to please keep them in prayer. Giana’s vital signs are all good and no infections. Please pray they have restful sleep as well, including Lois.  Thank you for all the support and prayers for this little family.

December 29,2015:  Many of you know that our pastor, Tony Bartolucci and his daughter, Giana, were in a serious car accident Christmas Eve. They are improving and stable, however they both will need surgeries for burns, and Giana for broken bones.  Please continue to pray for Tony and Giana for complete healing and for Tony’s wife, Lois, for strength and wisdom during this difficult time…  “we are so grateful to those who rescued them, for the wonderful doctors and nurses who are caring for them, for the thousands who are praying and to our great God and His faithfulness “.