He is out of the woods

As soon as we made it across the States to his hospital bed in that massive place

I was overcome with the smell of sickness, gloom, and death beeping along the layers of sheets and tubes.

Therein lain my dear brother, eyes swollen shut and breathing guided by the lifeline protruding from his mouth. Are you in there Mike?

Four days he would sleep, barely stirring when painful procedures ensued . . . then we knew: he is waking up! And out came the feeding tube with one sharp yank. Ouch!

It wasn’t long before he was demanding this and that, or so I am told, as the old cravings for smokes also awakened in his stiff, ace-wrapped frame. Let’s hope “the patch” holds him over.

I can hope for better days once he starts to move a little more yet I know better than that. He and his love/caregiver will have to figure out how to make it past this first major crisis since his stroke 6 years ago. Yet there were others with seizures from meds prescribed amiss.

Long term care sounds better to me but I am not the one in the driver’s seat even as my beloved and I returned home from our whirlwind Sunday visit. So glad there will be more days together, to come.

I saw her love for him and that was enough for me to let the “big sister syndrome” go. To just listen will be my way of showing support when she calls me now and then, returns my own.

Dear Mike, do find meaning in this broken phase of life: something to give yourself to and to care for the vessel albeit wrecked with pain and parts that don’t work right at all. Our Lord will sustain you and treasure you through the many hours alone when your body begins to spasm or shake. This I do know. He is there both inside and out of the woods you know . . .

I love you Mike. JJ

UPDATE: Mike woke up about 4 days later and was discharged home another 3 days thereafter, to be with his fiance. He was shaken up from not remembering those early days in the ICU yet is seeking a renewed direction for his life. This is good! Oh, and his insurance issues giving rise to medication issues and this medical crisis are largely resolved as well. Praise the Lord!

I learned it from Charlotte

She was wearing an oxygen cannula 24/7 and needed to take a break to rest after walking from one end of her house to the other.  Having battled breast cancer years ago, she had come into the late stages of another bout of cancer that would take her life a year later.  She was no longer able to leave her home except for medical appointments and did so with a supremely taxing effort.  Too weak to perform all but the most basic of daily living chores, she still had an amazing ministry that reached across the country . . .

Grief Share, friendship, mentoring, older women, younger woman, grief, loss, grieving, fellowship, Charlotte
From left: Julie, Miriam, Charlotte, Mary, and LuAnn from a Grief Share Ministry in 2007

Charlotte prayed for persons that she had found in an online “care” ministry.  These patients had opened up a personal webpage usually when in the hospital to facilitate communicating updates on their medical status to loved ones.  Charlotte searched the database for individuals that spoke to her heart then enlisted prayer warriors she knew via email and social media to pray for them too.  I was in awe of her outreach!  Exhausted from chemotherapy, radiation, or just taking a breath was no deterrent for a woman with a heart bigger than anyone’s I had known.  “I have the time,” is all she would say about it.  And time was her greatest gift as she spent it in the service of others, lifting them before our heavenly Father’s throne of grace.

So when I have been bedridden over the past few years, I have taken on my own version of Charlotte’s prayer ministry.  I pray for everyone I can think of until I can get out of bed again.  I was often amazed that once I got started, the Lord would bring so many names and faces to mind:  persons I had met online, an individual named through a prayer chain, or maybe someone I saw in public when able to leave our own home to go to medical appointments.  “I had the time,” so humbly to pray would be the best use of it.  It has been amazing to me when these instances occur . . .

Today a bunch of folks came to mind during 2 hours of continuous seizure attacks after injections of antibiotics at my doctor’s office did not go so well.  I lain on a hard treatment table in the dark to shield my eyes from the bright lights, hoping that the hell would not go on as long as it had during treatments earlier in the week.  My neck throbbed from the violent shaking, thrashing, odd posturing, wailing, repetitive pulling forward of my flexed torso, and general torture of it all.  (Unfortunately the facet block injection in my neck 3 weeks ago had already worn off!)  Sure, the nurses checked on me every so often; they had seen these episodes many, many times before and knew the score.  There was an agreement however, that if the convulsions persisted they would call an ambulance to take me to the emergency room of the hospital adjacent to their office building.  I doubted if that would do any good.  Would she be making the call the next time she came in the room?  The next time after that?  The total duration had already exceeded 90 minutes which was well beyond our agreed upon period.  “Is there anything I can do for you?” she would ask in plain English.  Sigh.  Not really.

Then she came back again and I squeaked out to yes, please ask the doctor if he could do a chiropractic adjustment on my neck.  It might help stop the wretchedness as it had in another appointment in the past.  Finally another nurse came back with the good news:  the Doctor would see me!  I began to cry . . .  then praise the Lord . . . then pray some more.  Soon my time thrashing about whilst laying flat on my back and mighty sore gluteus media from 6 injections this past week would be over.  I had so much to do later this evening before a surgical procedure tomorrow.  I had better get my time with the Lord in now not knowing how the rest of the day would fare.

Things got better after more gut-wrenching yelps, yells, screams, bursts of hot tears, yada, yada with the chiropractic adjustments and I was finally able to leave the building under my own power about 20 minutes later.  Whoa!  Shell-shocked I had made my way to the bathroom, put on my coat, and gathered my things to leave as if moving slow-motion in a black and white flick from the 1950’s.  But the evening was just getting started so miraculously the pace revved up a bit from there.

Within the hour I would be tossing all precaution to the wind and digging in the garden with our pup chewing a bone nearby!  Whaaat?  Hey, I figured that I’d get the borders of 2 flower beds tidied up knowing that I would likely be on a lifting restriction after placement of a power port in my chest wall early the next morning.  SO I DUG, DUG, DUG LIKE THERE WAS A TREASURE OF GOLD HIDDEN IN THERE SOMEWHERE!!!  Even the darkness and the drizzling rain did not stop me from doing what I love, doing the most that I could possibly do in some sort of a cathartic shedding of my personal hell on the way to and earthly Garden of Eden.  Well, sort of!

Maybe Charlotte would smile at how things turned out for me this evening.  It’s been about 7 years since her passing.  She had an impact on my life for sure.  If she were still around I would give her a call and listen some more to her wisdom that helped transform my life at another tumultuous time.  Well I guess that is happening again dear friend.

Thank you Jesus for Charlotte’s legacy.  Perhaps someday together we will tend to the sumptuous riches in the gardens of our Savior’s wondrous dwellings that You have prepared for us to bask in Your glory one day and forever.

There is so much to look forward to Gentle Reader.  I hope to see you there too.  :JJ

From the side of the bed

8th Anniversary 11.24.15
Celebrating our anniversary November 24, 2015

 

2015-11-28 23.11.54
Sick in bed November 27, 2015

He has seen it all

My beloved, the one with soft blue eyes;

In the medical facility or on the road as we pass across the miles

He looks to me with a precious love that makes me swoon all the time.

It doesn’t matter my status that day:

The screams of terror, the gentleness of a warm embrace,

He just looks at me as if we were lying under a canopy, shielded from the hot sun

By the lush branches of a mighty oak one summer’s morn along the way.

But that is not what has gone before me once again these past 3 days and more

His vacation was spent caring for me in ways neither one of us would choose.

He steps forth to do what must be done just the same

And says of our time:  “we had a nice week now didn’t we?”  I guess so, maybe in some ways we did my love.

I sigh in awe, something short of disbelief.  How did love like this find its way to this place between us?  This bed is marked more by sickness than passion night after day after night?

Surely it goes beyond that which either one of us can see!

This walk was borne from the One who made us thus and so

The One who set this path for goodness, for purpose yet unknown.

While wasted days is all that I can see very, very late this night

(With tensions mounting, wills weakening under the weight of it all)

I see that my Heavenly Husband carries our hearts with His special sip of tenderness

Bringing sweetness to our lips when we need it most as he has so many times before.

From the side of the bed

I look up and know more than my Love,

Surely I humbly receive care from more than the one I can see.

Thank you Jesus for my Steve.  Thank you Jesus me loving so!

So if ever you are graced by a love like this, dear Reader, and I hope someday that you do:

Hold tight, hold fast with praise, with alms beyond your brokenness to discover what the Lord alone can bring.

For you are witnessing more than a miracle in the midst of hurricane:

You are finding grace that will see you through anything, truly, truly with love I say this to you.

JJ

Treatment Update

outnumbered

The concept of negative numbers to me is as mind-boggling as that of anti-matter.  If something can be measured on an integer scale then I suppose the values could go up just as easily as they could go down.  But when they go below zero, which is nothing, how can anything be less than nothing?

Perhaps the answer depends upon to what subject the scale is being applied.  Ha!  I would love for my personal scale of symptoms to be at zero.  I would love for the intangibles wreaking havoc in my life to be less than nothing as well.  But that is just not how it is.  This past Fall was very bad, indeed.

More days this past Fall than any other time since I got sick over 4 years ago, did I write “Sick Day” on my calendar as the activity that characterized the entire day.  That means that over 8 daytime hours were spent in bed due to an inability to perform any goal-directed activity:  about 3 days each week.  That stinks.  I had three trips to the emergency room when exasperated with noxious symptoms, more variety in the traumatic nature of seizure attack episodes, an increase in triggers of episodes (which were unclear more of the time), and less ability to perform my activities of daily living.  Steve had to physically care for me (from toileting to feeding) about four times each week.  This year was the first time that I was unable to complete both my Spring and Fall clean-up chores for our gardens.  An occasional meal out with Steve has ceased.  There even was a blow-up with my Doc in which he suggested I might work with someone else.  He admitted that he doesn’t know what to do.  Fine.  But who else would that be?

So here is my status:

  • Results of blood tests and stool tests are now pending to identify microbes that may be keeping me from getting well.  Flare of systemic Candida is one possibility.
  • Chronic Lyme disease is back on my radar as a possibility so for these first two items I have started to take an anti-microbial supplement every day.
  • Mercury burden is significantly reduced yet its role in ongoing illness is still unclear.
  • Dehydration is a daily battle regardless of how many fluids I ingest or receive via IV.
  • Continuous daily seizure attacks total 2 to 5 hours every weekday and often increase to 8 hours at least one day per week.
  • Social isolation continues to be a problem.  I am grateful for a weekly Skype Bible/prayer time with fellow bloggers and may add a telephone support group soon.
  • An extremely restricted diet (sugar/sweetener-free, dairy/mold/gluten-free, low oxalate/copper/meat) only becomes more restrictive as time goes on than more permissive.  There are often episodes after eating and I do not know why.
  • Physical therapy has generally helped to reduce neck and other pain yet the 30-minute convulsive episode at the end of nearly every visit is burdensome.  I bring my own sheets and graciously they avoid fragrances around me.  They are saints!
  • Generally I am only able to leave the house for medical appointments, grocery shopping, etc. twice per week, remaining homebound the other days.  Recent exceptions:  two wakes!
  • Physical exercises and activities, including my P.T. home exercise program, are rare due the likelihood of triggering episodes.
  • Travelling, even with our super clean travel trailer, increases sickness too much to bother for awhile.  Setting it up takes me 3 weeks and cleaning it afterwards takes 3 weeks as well!  Oy vey.

So now my pity party is over and I have nothing left to say.  I am praying constantly for the Lord to keep my heart from bitterness yet I fear that I am losing the battle.  Crying comes forcefully during the setbacks and I am concerned that it is more a manifestation of illness progressed to my brain than true grief.  My husband Steve carries the burden of all of this in his own way.  He is a saint and my hero.  Thankfully he has a great support network at church and work, his athletic activities, and lots of social outlets to keep him going.  Steve is an amazing man surely one after the Lord’s own heart.

I am hopeful that the anti-microbial treatment will help me; sometimes it even stops the episodes.  Yeah God.  However I am very stressed about the upcoming holidays.  Maybe there will be a “Christmas miracle” at our house too?  Lord willing, the numbers in my life will improve in a positive direction.  In the meantime I will be hanging tough.  It’s the best I can do.  JJ

senior numbers

Just ‘Cause You’re Sick Doesn’t Mean You Can’t…..

Some great insights from a fellow sojourner who is near to the side of recovery from Lyme disease. Perhaps I can add making jewelry? :J

My Color Is Lyme

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Yes you are in bed most of the time. Yes you feel like that possum that got hit by the truck. Yes you are kind of stuck and down in the dumps. You can’t do most of the things you want to do, so it is easy to get depressed, feel worthless and a burden on society. We’ve all been there, no matter what point in our illness we are in right now.

So since it is so easy to focus on the “can’ts” (which lead to feeling worthless), here are some “can’s” you can do right from your bed. And please don’t put these ideas down as cheesy, maybe some are but it’s the little things that sometimes make the day brighter.

 

Image1. Write Thank You Cards “just because”. Are there people in your life that you love and appreciate? How good would it feel to surprise them…

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