Caretaking: Sleeping Issues

Many times the bedtime and sleeping challenges for the seriously ill develop slowly.  After my mother’s cancer was diagnosed and she  began chemo, she and Daddy continued to sleep in the same bed.  Everything was fine….for a while.

After the second month of chemo, Mother’s strength quickly began to give way.  She was finding it harder and harder to walk down the hall to their bedroom.  One day she walked down that hall for the last time, collapsing like a wet rag unable to get up.  Daddy called a family friend, a big man who picked her up like she was a baby and put her on the bed.  She was too weak to go any further.

After her hospital stay, she was somewhat stronger and could walk short distances.  However, because their bed was too low and too far away for her walking endurance, we (her daughters) decided that the ‘front bedroom’ was the best place for her to sleep at night.  Medicare provided a hospital bed, as well as a bedside toilet.  We did our best to make her new bedroom comfortable for her.  We bought an infant monitor and set it up so that Daddy could hear her if she needed something at night.

It made me sad that Mother and Daddy could no longer sleep together, but they didn’t protest.  I think they knew that life was no longer under their control.

The hospital bed was somewhat of a disappointment to me.  I guess I was expecting all the ‘bells and whistles’ with which the beds in the hospitals were equipped.  The noisy mattress was not comfortable at all and the head and foot was raised and lowered with a hand crank. ugh.  However, it did fit her needs because it needed to be high enough off the ground that she could get in and out easily.

This was how we handled the sleeping and bedtime issues.  If you, dear readers, have any suggestions that worked well in your family, please feel free to comment.

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Captain Hook and First Mate, Once Again Making Lemonade From Lemons

This update on Don just arrived.  Their sweet spirit is nothing short of inspirational.  The challenge for Don is that the chemo treatments for his non Hodgkins lymphoma is very hard on his body.  His platelet count, red blood count and white blood count always bottom out when he gets a treatment.  It requires large amounts of  prayers and patience, and many transfusions to raise the counts so that he can get another treatment.  Read as they once again take sour lemons and make very sweet lemonade.

Don and Jo Ann, thank you for being so positive.  You set a wonderful example for us of God’s Grace and Peace as you travel done your cancer path.

“Ahoy to all of our faithful prayer warriors. We are at the Clinic today for blood work. The blood draw was done at 8:00 by a very special tech. named Herooth. She is a cute little lady from Ethiopia. She loves Don and always seems happy to see him. Don gives her a hard time and today she put red tape over the cotton that covered the puncture site. She told him that she bet that his wife would love to have some of the red tape so that she could put it over his mouth to keep him quite. ha ha
Don came out of her room laughing and told me. We shared the thought that Herooth knew him well.

The report on the blood work showed that the platelets were eleven (up from five on Mon.). We are now in the Transfusion Unit getting eight . units of platelets. The white blood count was 0.7 which is very low. When the white count is this low, Don must wear a mask, no fresh vegs. or fruit, and can not be around people. He would not be able to fight off any kind of infection. So I guess we will be staying close to the apartment until Mon. when they check his blood again and make a lot of good lemonade.

We want to thank all of you and express how blessed we are by the wonderful messages on the care page, the phone calls, the heartfelt cards and most of all for the prayers. God seems to send angels to minister to us when we need it. We pray that God bless each angel ten fold. You can not out give God and because you have given so much to us, you need to get ready for abundant blessings.

Smooth sailing, Captain and Mate”

Updates on Wayne

It has been a while since I shared with you any news about Wayne.  As you may remember from previous posts, he is my Sunday School teacher and deacon in our church.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several months ago and has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments since then.

His radiation treatments are completed as are his first round of chemotherapy.   He is currently taking his second round which began about three ago.  He seems to be feeling better and is even gaining back some of the weight he had lost.  Low white cell and platelet counts are a problem and have delayed some of his treatments.

He hasn’t had any new scans since this round of chemo has begun so we don’t know what the cancer is doing, but we are praying that it is shrinking and that Wayne will be restored to health.

He continues to teach Sunday School, sing in the church choir and is even helping to build the new addition to our church.  We are so grateful that he feels well enough to do those things

Wayne and his wife, Glynn, are such an inspiration and blessing to each of us.  We pray for God’s hand to continue to be on them, comforting, strengthening, guiding, and protecting them as they travel down this very difficult path.

Kay

Cancer and terminal illness touches all our lives.  We all have friends and/or family who is or has been afflicted with serious illness.  As Dr. Phil said, “When one family memberhas cancer, the entire family has  cancer.”  This also applies to other terminal illnesses  as well.  Not just cancer.

Kay is a relatively young woman, not yet 50. She is married and has two sons ages 19 and 21, I believe. Oh, yes.  She also has a daughter who is grown and away from home.  She is a friend of my and has been for several years.  Her parents attend my church.

About eight months ago, I believe,  she was diagnosed with an aggressive form  of bladder cancer.  This particular kind of cancer is rare in women.  It usually appears in older men, her doctor told her.

Shortly after her diagnosis her bladder was removed and she began radiation and chemotherapy.  About a month ago she had another surgery to rebuild a bladder for her.  During this surgery several things were removed, ovaries, uterus, more lymph nodes, etc.  When the pathology report came back, Kay and her family learned that cancer cells were found in every thing that was taken out.  Not a happy day.

After speaking with Kay’s father I learned that  the doctors are saying that Kay may have 2 years to live.  That is not long, my friends. If you had two years to live, what would you do?  What things would you need to get in order?  How would you help your children prepare for the time when death happens?  How would you prepare them for life afterwards, without a mother?

Kay is being very open about her situation.  I understand she is taking radiation treatments, but not chemo.  Please pray for her. God has become very real in her life through this illness.  Pray for her husband and children as they share her experience.  Pray for her parents who are already grieving, but are looking to God for comfort.

Updates on Wayne

 The following email was sent to me a couple of days ago:

Hello everyone,

I have a new update on Wayne.  He and Glynn went to Dallas yesterday and this morning they had to be at the doctor’s by 7:00.

He had a nerve block done for his pain.
They did partial block instead of full block and said they prefer not to do total unless absolutely necessary.  If this doesn’t take care of the pain they may have to do the complete but we are praying this will work for him.  Glynn called me about 9:00 am and said she was headed out to get the car and bring it around for him.  They advised them to not travel today so they will return home tomorrow.  Praise God again and again, the doctor said he did see the cancer while in there and again it still looks the same, and just sitting there doing nothing!!  Hope that things just gives up and dies from lack of love and affection!!!  We still know how Great our God is and this is so Awesome.  Once again Thank You, Thank You each and everyone for being in our lives and most of all for your love and prayers.  You’re a great bunch of friends and family.

Wayne taught our Sunday School lesson yesterday.  It is so wonderful to hear him teach.   It seems to me that,  even though he has always been a wonderful teacher of God’s word,  now Wayne’s lessons have an added depth and dimension.  The lenses of his spiritual eyes are tinted by the experience of God’s love and grace along the path of pancreatic cancer.  In many ways he is not the same man that he was prior to his cancer diagnosis.  He and Glynn have been so open with this crisis in their lives, allowing us to watch and learn as they go through the lows and highs of this illness.

On Thursday Wayne begins his second round of chemo.  This time they will not have to travel to Dallas, but will be able to take the treatments in Midland which is much closer to home.  We pray that the chemo will do its job and eradicate the cancer, restoring Wayne’s health and his future.   Please continue to pray for both of them.

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.

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.