How ’bout Those Cowboys?

I have been home for a couple of days and now I’m back with my grandmother. We are watching the Dallas Cowboys play, no, stomp the Rams. She has been a Dallas fan for decades. One of the delightful moments of Thanksgiving Day has been watching Mom as she watched the Cowboys. She is one of those vocal fans. She talks to the players on both sides of the ball, cheering and scolding at appropriate moments. Even now she is lying in her hospital bed, barely able to talk because of the tube irritating her throat, cheering on her precious team.

The blockage in her intestine is gone. However she is not out of the woods. All fluids have been stopped because she seems to be collecting fluid into her lungs. Over all she is weaker from the days of not being able to eat. Her back, legs and shoulders hurt because she is just skin and bones now and lying on her bed is like lying on rocks. We are giving her morphine to ease the pain, which slows respiration. She has had some labored breathing the last couple of days, so, as you can see, she has several more ‘trees’ to dodge.

Her primary care doctor will be back tomorrow and I know we will have several things to discuss. At what point do we help her to realize that it is time to stop fighting? When do we begin to talk to her about allowing death to come? I think we are almost there. Her mind is still very clear. She knows and understands almost everything that is happening around her. She still has a fighting spirit, responding with “Well, I’m still on the planet,” when I talked to her on the phone.

I will write more about this tomorrow. I will also be sharing with you some of the humorous moments we have had in the last few days.

P.S. The nurses have just brought a hospital bed with an air mattress on it and something to suction the drainage she is continually collecting in her throat. Yea!!!

My Precious Grandmother

Today is Wednesday. I returned to the hospital to be with my grandmother on Monday. She had been improving since Saturday.  She had been grinning at all the nurses, and saying her funny little things.  We were slowly advancing her diet gradually back to solid foods.

Tuesday she had her first solid food meal–soft foods.  She only ate a few bites, but afterwards she began to be nauseated and her abdomen began to hurt more.  It was like a downward spiral that we couldn’t stop.  The nausea led to vomiting green bile.  The pain increased.  Finally with a combination of morphine and phenegran, she went off to sleep, albeit a drugged sleep.  About 11:00 p.m. she awoke and it all started again.  More morphine, more phenegran.  Her IV had to be changed to another vein. The nurse noticed that her abdomen was distended and hard. Her heart rate was up. More sleep.  Bloodwork at 5:30 p.m.  More vomiting and pain. More morphine, more phenegran. More sleep. Sleep for her.  I couldn’t sleep any more. My heart was breaking.  My mind was in high gear, thinking …thinking…thinking….family I needed to call…wondering about funeral arangements….questions to ask the doctor.

I got dressed, got some coffee and went into her hospital room bathroom and cried.  I cried and cried for about 15 minutes.  Then I dried my eyes and put on my makeup.  Yes, my ‘scheduled cry’.  I knew that this day would be rough, and I needed to be able to talk to doctors and nurses about the seriousness of Mom’s illness with my emotions reasonably under control.  It did help.

Mom’s doctor came in and told me he wanted to do several things. Put in a “NG” tube to begin to suck out the bile in her stomach.  Put in a catheter so that we wouldn’t have to worry about having to get her on the bedside commode. Start the IV fluids.  Take another xray.  There is so much detail her because it is so fresh in my memory.

The doctor said that most likely the blockage was being caused by something other than diverticulitis and that surgery was the only option that would open her small intestine back up.  Mom is not a candidate for surgery.  The only other thing to do was to make her comfortable and let nature take its course. Pulling back on the antibiotics, taking away the IV, not prolonging the inevitable.  So hard to hear. But somehow I knew it was coming.

I didn’t leave Mom’s side all day.  When they put in the catheter, I stayed right beside her.  When they took her to radiology to put in the NG tube, I went with her and walked in like I belonged there.  They didn’t ask me to leave.  I put on one of those big aprons and stay right beside her, patting her head and talking to her.

A surgeon came to visit and talk about her blockage.  He basically agreed with Mom’s primary care doctor.  So very sad.  I began to make phone calls to close family to make them aware of what decisions need to be made.

This may come under the category of Too Much Information for some of you, but a couple of hours ago, I talked to the nurse about changing her position in bed.  When we pulled back her sheet, we found that she had had a huge bowel movement!  Oh, yes, it is something to get excited about.  It means that her intestine at the very least working out the blockage.

That means we have hope of her recovering from this horrible condition. God is so good.

Church Families Provide Physical Support

The day after Thanksgiving, 2006, my husband fell from a ladder to a concrete slab breaking both ankles and the fibula in his right leg. It was a terrifying, potentially deadly moment which still lives in my memory. Rick stayed in our local hospital one night and then was transferred to a hospital in Lubbock for five more nights.

It was during this traumatic time in our lives that we began to experience the loving care of our church family. Before we even left the emergency room that first day, a couple from our church arrived just to be with us and help any way they could. Their presence alone was very comforting.

Throughout Rick’s hospitalization our church family stayed in close contact.  One of the men called to let me know that a cold front was coming and asked it there was anything that needed to be done at our house to protect the pipes.  He also asked if there was anything we were going to need when we got home.  I mentioned that  a wheelchair ramp on our front door would be helpful.   He assured me that providing us with a ramp would be no problem.

After being dismissed from the hospital the next Thursday, we drove home from Lubbock. Rather I drove us home. Yes, the wheelchair ramp was ready and waiting.  The moment we arrived our pastor drove up and helped me get Rick into the house.  He helped us, I mean me, unload the car which was filled with equipment necessary for Rick’s home care.  Shortly families from our Sunday School class began arriving with food.  One of the ladies took a grocery list and went to the store.

When the accident happened, Rick was in the process of building a workshop by our house. He and our son were working on the metal frame of this structure.  Rick was up about 10 ft. high on a metal extension ladder.  He leaned to the right,  the ladder slid to the left, and down they both came.

The day after our arrival home three men from our church came over and finished the frame of the workshop.  At 7:00 a.m. the next morning, approximately 15 men from the church descended upon our house and completely finished the building within about 4 hours.  While they were working outside, there were 2 men working inside, enlarging the doorway to one of our bathrooms, making it wheelchair accessible.  There were also 2 ladies vacuuming floors and cleaning my kitchen.

This love in action was so very comforting and humbling.  It made us feel so very loved.  Our church family is a very important part of our lives.

My last, well, last for now, thought about being part of a church family comes in the form of encouragement to you, my readers.  If you are not part of a church, please, please, allow God to guide you to a wonderful caring church.  Then once you are part of a church family, allow God to use you to be a blessing in the lives of hurting families and in turn, all your church family to bless you when your family is hurting.

The Latest on Wayne

 This update just arrived via email.  God is so very good.  Thank you all for your continued prayers.   This email was written by Wayne’s sister, Dot.

To All Our Friends & Family,

Just talked to Glynn.  Praise the Lord, Praise The Lord,  the cancer is contained to the one spot on Wayne’s pancreas.   It is 3.2×3.8 centimeters in size.  He will be doing the experimental chemo, the regular chemo and something they called 5FU chemo.  The reports showed all of the scans looked good.  However there is a cyst on his left kidney, which is 6 millimeters in size.  Shona says that a millimeter is smaller that a centimeter.  She said they did not seem concerned about it, but tomorrow when they see the radiology specialist they are asking him about it.  He will have a Doppler ultrasound done tomorrow on his legs to check out his veins and make sure there are no bloodclots, or such.  They took 8 veils of blood today, so Wayne was stretched out on the bed resting when Glynn called.

They will probably be home on Wednesday because his appointment for imaging is rather late for them to be leaving on Tuesday.

Isn’t God just so good!!!!!  I just had a vision yesterday that God was busy inside that pancreas knitting around that tumor keeping it contained.

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers and concern.  Where would we all be if it weren’t for friends and family supporting us in troubled times like these.  You are all special.

We love you all,

Dot & Loy

Home again, for a couple of days

Just to keep you up to date.  My grandmother, Mom, is still in the hospital, but seems to be doing better.  Though she still can have nothing to eat or drink, according to xrays, her small intestine seems to be improving.  My sister, Darla, has come to take over for me and I am home for a couple of days.

As I mentioned before, watching Mom nauseated and in pain was so very hard.  She did her best not to complain about her misery, but would just lie in bed and whimper.  Oh, it was so hard.  Yesterday however, she seemed to ‘turn the corner’ and perk up.  The pain in her abdomen and the nausea decreased.  As a result she was suddenly hungry, starving to use her words.  Wonderful sign.  However, the doctor was not yet ready to challenge her digestive system with food or liquids, and so she just had to be patient.  She was really funny as she began to talk to the nurses about the T bone steak she had ordered and that they could bring it just any time now.  We all laughed about it.

Mom is such an amazing woman.  Soon I will begin to write about her, but just to give you a clue to part of her outlook on life, yesterday she said several times, “Smilers never lose and frowners never win”.  Yep, that’s classic Mom.

Hospital Elegante’, Again

Once again, my ‘hospital routine’ has clicked in. I have made my ‘nest’, my clothes are ready for tomorrow, and in a few minutes I will be showering and getting ready for bed. There are differences this time though. In many ways this may be harder. Much harder.

My grandmother, now 96, has been ill for several days with pain in her lower abdomen. I went to her house on Wednesday evening and took her to the doctor on Thursday. This afternoon we checked her into the hospital with a blockage in her small intestine. She had a very rough afternoon with stomach pain and throwing up foul smelling bile. At the moment she is relaxed and sleeping. The doctor wants to give her digestive system a couple of days to ‘rest’ and see if this blockage will just work itself out. If not, then we will call in a gastrointerologist and see what his recommendations are.

As hard as it was to see my parents suffer with their illnesses, my heart wrenched at watching my precious grandmother endure attempts to put a tube in her nose down to her stomach. I was determined to stay by her side during this procedure, so I had to be strong or the nurses would ask me to leave. Which I was and so I stayed.

She is so frail and so weak, but the nurses already love her.

I’m sure there will be ‘scheduled cries’ so that I will be able to emotionally handle the difficult moments of the next few days. This is another one of life’s difficult, no, heartbreaking moments. Another path to walk down. Another time to remember:

If God bring you to it, He will bring you through it. He will do that for me, and more importantly, He will do that for my grandmother.

Church Families Provide Emotional Support

Life’s experiences often effect the our emotional stability. When tragedy and crisis comes into our lives, we naturally begin to feel all the emotions that accompany those events. Many of those emotions are extreme in nature. They may fluctuate from day to day or hour to hour and are not easily overcome or controlled.

Within the arms of our church family we have a strong safety net in which we can allow our emotional waves to come and go without the sting of criticism or judgment. We find this understanding because, as Christians, we have this same kind of unconditional acceptance from Christ.

While my parents were in the throes of their cancer illness, I would update my Sunday School class on their situation, and often my tears would begin to flow. I also stopped singing in our church choir because I couldn’t make it through a worship service without crying. I didn’t stop attending church, however.  My church family totally understood and accepted my tears, giving me the freedom and space to work through my roller-coastering emotions in my own way and within my own time frame.

As I write this post, I realize some of you may have different experiences than mine. It is entirely possible that you have felt criticism from your church family instead of acceptance, and judgment instead of support. Sadly, that is the case in some churches, but, in my opinion and from my experience, these churches are the “exception” rather than the “rule”, in my opinion.

Spiritual Support From Our Church Families

When you are in the midst of a crisis, when you are hurting, when your heart is heavy, when you are grieving, your church family will stand beside you in prayer. All churches, well, at least in my experience all churches have ‘prayer warriors”. These are people who go ‘boldly to the Throne of Grace to find help in time of need’.

A few months ago I had an endoscopy and the results showed that I had Barrett’s Esophagus. Not many people have ever heard of this condition, but I have and I was very frightened. My father was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus and was told that he would most certainly develop esophageal cancer which he did about 2 years later. I was not prepared for a Barrett’s Esophagus diagnosis for myself.

When I shared this news with my pastor and my Sunday School class, my church family began to pray. Their prayers gave me strength and hope. I must also add here that my precious husband also ‘stormed the gates of heaven’ on my behalf. He said, “We are going to get past this. I have already talked to God about it and I didn’t ask Him nothin’.”

I decided to see a specialist in the field of gastroenterology before deciding to have surgery. This doctor recommended another endoscopy, this time taking more biopsies which I readily agreed to.

The results of this test showed no evidence of Barrett’s Esophagus!!! Yes, that’s right. I call it a miracle also.

There were several things at work here. All the prayers offered in my behalf did, I believe, make a difference in the outcome of this medical diagnosis. Also, knowing that my well being was on everyone’s hearts and in their minds, gave me courage and strength to face this potentially terminal situation with my head held high and my spiritual eyes fixed on God. I was in His hands.

People in church families pray for each other, not just in times of illness and death, but also in times of family crises and other life challenges.

Yes, you may have friends and family members who are also very willing to go to God on your behalf as you would do for them. I am not minimizing these relationships at all. However, in my experience nothing can fully take the place of the spiritual support that comes from your church family.

What it Means to Have a “Church Family”

As I began to learn about writing blogs and how to make them more widely read, one of the suggestions that many writers had was to be sure and use lots ‘key words’ which are often used by people when ‘googling’ a specific idea.  They are the words that would be frequently typed in a search engine when someone is looking for a specific topic.  Yes, that is a great idea, and I have used it on a limited basis when writing posts.

However, the ideas in this blog are too important to me to put in key words that might sway the meaning of my posts.  Therefore, I have decided to just be obedient to what God wants me to write and then He will take care of who needs to read this blog.

In the next few posts I am going to write about the importance of having a ‘church family’.  If you are part of a church that loves and care for its members, then you will understand my writing in the context of your own experiences.  You already know how vital a church family is during times of crisis.

If you are not part of a church family, then you may not have a frame of reference for the things I will be sharing.  My desire, my prayer is that perhaps God can use these next few posts to touch your hearts in such a way that you will seek out the kind of church that will be a support to you and your family during times of crisis.