The Pendulum Swing of Emotions

Think of the swing of a pendulum. Its swing in one direction is equal or almost equal to the swing in the other. Our emotions during a time of crisis such as a terminal illness swing back and forth from despair to elation, depending on the events of the moment.

Last week when Wayne and Glynn were facing a series of scans and tests which would show whether or not Wayne’s pancreatic cancer was responding to the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. They were scared, nervous, emotional, worried, and any other negative emotion you can name. The morning they left to go to Dallas to have these tests run, Wayne looked bad. He was weak. He was pale. His eyes filled and overflowed with tears frequently.

Once they received the results of the tests and learned that the cancer had not spread, their pendulum of emotions swung back to the other side. The degree to which they were worried corresponded directly to the degree to which they were excited. The next time I saw Wayne, he had a big smile on his face. He no longer looked pale and he was about to eat a big plate of food.

Whenever you are in the midst of physical trauma such as this, your emotions will experience the same trauma. You may be very sad, filled with despair and without hope, and then something positive will happen. It doesn’t have to be something big. It may be a small as one meal that tasted good, or a test that came back with good results or at least no bad results. Then your emotions will ‘latch on’ to that one positive thing, and immediately swing to the other side of the pendulum.

I remember thinking about my emotions when my parents were sick. At that time I compared my emotions to a roller coaster ride which is not an inaccurate description. I remember saying that I had experienced every emotion you could name while Mother and Daddy were sick, especially during the 3 months when Daddy was in the hospital, with Mother also being in the hospital 5 weeks during that time. It was horrible.

Once we understand that these emotions will be there, we can not fight them, but instead seek to control them. It was during those times that I had ‘scheduled cries’, moments when I could let my sadness, despair, frustration, anger, hopelessness, rise to the top of my mind and heart and flow out the tear ducts in my eyes. By giving my emotions space to be in control for a while, then once I finished crying, I could then control my emotions, for a while at least.

Your emotions are going to be part of what you are enduring. You are going to feel everything you are going to feel on both sides of the pendulum. You can’t stop it. Instead you should expect it and accept it. Then you can control it.

And oh, yes, get all the ‘mileage’ you can out of good news. Yep. Let the good news carry you as far as possible. Smile. Laugh. Tell it to everyone.

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Updates on Wayne

As mentioned in a previous post, Wayne was to return to Dallas, Baylor Medical Center, I believe, to under tests which will determine whether or not his pancreatic cancer is responding to chemotherapy and radiation. Wayne’s anxiety level would be ‘off the charts’ if measured.  They were both very fearful that they would not receive good news.

Well, their drive back home was more like a flight.  They were ‘off the ground’ with excitement and were praising the Lord all the way home.  The tests results showed that the cancer had not spread at all, which was a real concern given the nature of the tumor.  The doctors were unable to determine whether or no the tumor itself had actually shrunk, indicating that it had responded to the chemo and radiation, because of swelling of the tissue around due to radiation.

Wayne and Glynn were elated that the cancer had not spread and felt like that was an answer to prayer.  I agree with them totally.  The doctors have given Wayne hope for a normal life at least for a while ,and  when you are walking down the path of terminal cancer or illness, you make the most of any good news you get!

We are excited and thankful for God’s Presence in Wayne and Glynn’s lives.  We are all stronger because of it.

Wayne and Glynn

He looks weaker and sounds weaker. Because of my gall bladder surgery, it had been a couple of weeks since I had seen him. Wayne and Glynn are both showing the physical and emotional wear and tear of walking down the path of pancreatic cancer. They were in Sunday School this morning and it was wonderful to see them. They left this afternoon to drive back to Dallas. Wayne is having scans done tomorrow and then on Tuesday he will see the doctor. The purpose of the scans is to determine if the chemotherapy and radiation therapy have shrunk Wayne’s tumor.

As he shared with us this morning his fears about the results of the tests, he also asked us to pray that he will be accept what the doctor tells him. He feels he is ‘losing ground’, but knows that God is in control and wants above all to glorify Him.

We all shed tears and none of us wanted them leave. Our Sunday School Class loves Wayne and Glynn so much we would have gone with them if it had been possible. It was so very hard to say good by to them this morning.

I wish that I had words of wisdom for this moment. I just don’t. We all know and have experienced first hand God’s love and care. We understand that He loves Wayne even more than we do. We want Wayne to be well and to continue to serve God just as he has always done. We want Wayne to continue to be our Sunday School teacher just as he has always been. We want. We want. We want.

Above all, however, we want God to be glorified in life and in death.

She is going to live. The doctors are expecting a full recovery. She is the daughter of one of my friends, and she was in a terrible car wreck at the end of October.  Her baby, three months away from birth, died. She had to give birth to her baby, enduring labor and delivery without joy and delight, because the life of her little one was gone.

She had several surgeries to repair broken bones in her legs and pelvis. Then she had to have another surgery because previous surgical repair work was not holding her broken pelvis together. She truly is her own version of ‘the bionic woman’.

She can not walk for 3 months and must transfer herself from bed to wheelchair to tub to couch to toilet all by use of a transfer board. She is a former high level gymnast, who was always muscular and strong. Now she has lost most of her muscle mass and is very tiny.

I spoke with her mother at length a couple of days ago, catching up on Lacy’s progress (not her real name). The mother told me about Lacy’s inner strength and will to live. She told me that Lacy’s determination has made a major difference in her recovery.

We talked about how God has shown His Presence during this serious crisis in their lives. We talked about God Winks, about God’s Grace and God’s Provision.  It appears that though Lacy has far to go before she is recovered, the crisis, the worst is behind them.

When we look back and reflect on a crisis we can see the Hand of God as He works, meets needs, calms fears, gives strength for the moment, and provides hope for the future.  It is during horrible crisis that we experience God in new ways.  In the midst of indescribable pain, worry, sadness, and despair, God gives us precious sweet moments with Him, allowing us to know and feel the depth of His Love and Care.  It is all seared into our memory, forever with us, changing who we are , our perspective on life, and our relationship with God.

Even though we would not ever want to walk down this road again, stand beside the bedside of a precious child, spouse, or loved one, watch them in pain, and listen to their cries; even though we would never wish this on anyone, priceless is the experience of God’s special Presence for these special moments, priceless is the experience of  His Provision when there is special need, and  priceless are our memories.

God is good.  All the time.

Adopt a Hospice Patient

Being able to make a difference in the lives of others in turn makes a difference in our own lives.  Mary Kay always said, “All we send into the lives of others comes back into our own tenfold.”

Many Hospice patients have very little family support and are likely to receive almost nothing for Christmas.  Our Mary Kay unit is ‘adopting’ local Hospice patients who fit in this category.  We are working to make sure they each have a special gift for Christmas.   We have put together a $35 gift set which includes a lip balm, hand cream, and hydrating lotion, all wonderful products to sooth and moisturize dry skin, with a beautiful gift bag and personalized gift tag.  We know these gift sets will be much appreciated by the Hospice patients who receive them.

If you would like to partner with us and donate one or more gift sets,  log on to my website www.marykay.com/dfoster1 

On my website order the  lip balm, hand cream, and hydrating lotion.  You can do a search for them if needed.  In the customer comments section write Hospice patient and I will know you want to adopt a Hospice patient. I will charge your card $35 for each set you order which will include tax and the gift bag.  You will receive a certificate for $10 in MK product for each gift set you donate.

If you prefer to adopt a Hospice patient in your area, I’m sure we can work that out.  Just put that in the comment section as well.

It is always wonderful to give to others, because each of us has had the opportunity to receive.  It is my prayer that God will bless each Hospice Patient who receives a Mary Kay gift set as well as everyone who gives one.

I Have No More Gall

It has been a few days since I have posted on this blog because I had my gall bladder removed on Dec. 7.  The surgery went very well…..arthroscopic is the way to go…. and I am on the recovery road.  An ultrasound in 2006 uncovered stones in my gall bladder, and I made plans to have gall bladder surgery then. However, my husband’s fall from a ladder changed those plans in an instant.  Last month I realized that since I had met my ‘out of pocket’ limit for this year, it would be less expensive for me to have my gall bladder taken out before the end of December.

The surgery was done in Lubbock, not at the hospital, but at a surgical center nearby.  My check-in time was 6:30 a.m. and surgery was scheduled for 7:30 a.m.  For this facility 7:30 meant exactly that…..7:30.  By 8:40 I was out of recovery and by 10:30 I had been dismissed.  All very fast.  However, this surgical center was excellent.  I can not think of one thing that is negative to say about the facility, the staff, or my care.  It was a very calm atmosphere and I did not at all feel that I was part of ‘an assembly line’.  They treated me with dignity and respect.

This surgery has not really been difficult for me.  The pain has been moderate, and I have had very little nausea. It has however, left me feeling weak and somewhat irritable.  My senior Mary Kay director shared some wisdom with me that was right on target for this situation.

She said that the problem with gall bladder surgery is that it is confusing to the mind and system.  We normally associate surgery with acute pain and suffering.  Because I am not experiencing that, my mind wants to dismiss the fact that I have had surgery.  My body has been traumatized, however, and is feeling weak and tired.  I must allow myself to heal and regain the strength on it’s on terms.

Yesterday I was the ‘queen’ and my throne was the couch or my bed.  I finished reading a book, did more crochet, slept, and played with our puppy.  That is it.  Today I feel better and have put on makeup and gotten dressed.  Still weak and tired, again, better than yesterday.

By the way, I am still having my cocoa!

Compared to the critical illnesses in the lives of others around me, gall bladder surgery is, well, almost nothing.  I know that in a few days or weeks my strength will be back, my incisions (4 little ones) will be healed, and my life will once again return to its normal level of activity.  This too shall pass.

Going Against the Doctor

I did it, but I don’t recommend it in all situations.  Because of my grandmother’s strong will determination, and because of the progress she had made while in the skilled nursing facility, I went against her doctor’s wishes and her physical therapist’s wishes by taking her to her own home without 24 hour care.

It was not an easy thing to do.  After all they were the professionals and if I was in their positions I would have made exactly the same recommendations.  Mom, my grandmother, is 96.  She weighed at that time less than 100 pounds.  Her back is literally in the shape of a crooked question mark.  She uses a walker for every step she takes and can not straighten up enough to see above her head.  Their concerns were numerous and all valid.

However, I had one advantage.  I knew Mom.  I had spent many nights with her and saw how she took care of her needs when she was alone.  She had recovered from her intestinal blockage enough that I felt she was at least as strong as she was previous to her hospitalization.

Yes.  She was a fall risk.  She has been a fall risk for the last several years.  Indeed she has fallen more than a few times and  had called her ‘lifeline’ each time to get help.   Each time she falls, I again realize that we are one fall closer to the ‘big one’, the one that breaks her hip and takes her life.  If we could keep her from falling, I believe with all my heart that she will live to be 100.

There is no way to keep her from falling short of not letting her walk at all.  Even if we had 24 hour care (which we can not afford), even if I took her into my home, even if we placed her in a nursing home, she would still be a fall risk and the ‘big one’ will still come.

My feelings and emotions don’t really count here, because Mom’s best interest is center stage in this debate.  However, I have had to personally make some decisions which do affect my feelings and emotions.  I have decided that if Mom falls and breaks bones while alone at home and if those breaks lead to her death, then I will not feel guilty.  Instead I will be grateful for the extra time she had at home, enjoying the comfort of her own possessions and surroundings.

When I took her back to the doctor for a checkup a couple of weeks ago, I really wanted to gloat and sneak an ‘I told you so” into our conversation.  Mom is doing very well.  She is now stronger and more alert than before.  She has gained 8 pounds since coming home and ‘eating everything that doesn’t eat me first’.   Yes, she is still 96 and she still can’t hear thunder, but she is doing extremely well.  God is so good.