He really cares: Part 2

Please forgive me for leaving you hanging, Gentle Reader!  I left you hanging by a thread in this blog almost 2 weeks ago.  Clearly I made it out o.k. from the doctor’s office!

charcoal sketch, sketch of woman, side view of woman, head shot, female drawing, picture of lady

Since there were many hairy details in the horrible situation I was in on July 29th, I will shorten things up a bit here.  In my last post, I ended whilst lying on my side, paralyzed and inches from the floor after a convulsive episode in the exam room of a Physician’s Assistant (PA).  The second of two severe seizure attacks had occurred since entering this room and the second of two episodes of neurological collapse was in progress.  Eventually the PA returned and forgot everything I had ever told her about what to do in this circumstance; she even forgot that in the first episode (that she had witnessed) I was unable to speak or move.  All she kept asking was, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

Finally I was able to break through what was happening in my brain to express the greatest need in my life at that moment, “PLEASE REMOVE MY GLASSES!”  As she wrenched my neck and lifted my head I screamed in excruciating pain from having had my eyeglasses and sunglasses wedged against my face for so long.  Extreme sensory sensitivity accompanies the worst convulsive episodes; pain in particular is magnified as if you had tried to electrocute me!  So when the PA tried to remove them, it was as if a bolt of lightening had jolted through my face!  She asked again about the ambulance.  “Did I want to get up onto the table to be more comfortable?”  I could not speak or move at all.  Then she left.  A long time later she returned.  Then she left.  A long time later she returned.  Then she left.

To pray was my focus since the trained medical professional was of no help!  Thankfully after a long time, it was the Lord Who helped me twist and turn my torso so I could lie on my back across two chairs with my legs pulled up underneath me.  It took about a dozen tries before I could lift my head segmentally to reach a sitting position with my head supported by the wall behind me.  Never did a wall seem so comforting . . .

Eventually a nurse, the really sweet one, came into the room with a wheelchair so I could be taken to the bathroom.  Herein I benefitted from my training in transfer techniques as an occupational therapist.  My arms were starting to regain motor control but my legs were like dead weight .  I lifted them one at a time with my right arm (more functional than my left) off of the leg rests of the wheelchair and onto the floor, braced myself with the grab bar along the wall next to the toilet and pivoted myself around; I reversed the procedure with more adaptive techniques to do all of the things I needed to do in the bathroom.  By the time I was wheeling myself out of the bathroom, the really sweet nurse had returned to take me to the hospital in the building next door.  At last, over three hours later and feeling majorly beat up, I would be getting the IV fluids as ordered!

Unfortunately the IV “Lactated Ringers” didn’t help me much.  The nightly convulsive episodes returned followed by wake-up tazoring the next morning.  I was so beat up from everything.  The following evening I did make it to the grocery store when things had temporarily stabilized.  Such an ordeal!  Calming my anger at my medical providers has taken every day since then.  The doctor never mentioned it when I saw him last week.  He did not even ask if the IV fluids helped me to feel any better.  Sometimes that guy is just too focused on test results (or whatever) to examine the overall process of this patient’s sickness, the clues that might be hidden in plain sight.  Oh well.  The second appointment to review additional test results last week was cancelled (as are about 35% of his appointments).  A minor flare up of the ol’ anger distracted me once again, gratefully for less time . . .

So who really cares if I live?  Suffer?  Die?  I have spent the last 15 days meditating on this.  The real question emerged beneath these cries and it was not to find out if anyone really cares or not.  There are people in my life who love me and for this I am grateful.  The real question turned out to be whether or not I had submitted this illness to the Lord as a living sacrifice.  Who is really in charge here?  Did I offer it to the One Who sees all, loves me more than anyone?  Could I view laying this illness at the Lord’s mighty throne of grace as an act of both obedience and worship?  He calls believers to do this, by the way in Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12)

The Lord knows that our bodies are not perfect and that our world is not perfect.  Why would the God of the universe desire me to make alms to Him with my weaknesses?  He desires our devotion in all things and loves me and you just as we are.  But wouldn’t he rather have a tithe or act of service?  NO!  He is God not some distant authority figure or Santa Claus.  He loves us, has mercy on us, completes us, pours out His blessings, defends us, and promises to make good out of the fallen things of this world no matter how ugly.

1 Peter 5:6-11New International Version (NIV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

I am holding out for the promise that lies within these words.  He will restore me in due time.  Who cares for me?  Who cares for you?  The Lord Jesus Christ, that’s Who!  In Him we will find rest no matter what may come our way.  We can be sure of it!  JJ

The Sister Bear Speaks

While my brother’s fiancé is there at the hospital with him in the thick of things, his next of kin is a bit upset.  I am too upset to make any rational decisions.  The feelings run deep with me.  It’s all I could do to be polite on the phone today to the social worker from the rehabilitation unit where Mike is hospitalized.  At least Steve and I have the weekend to sort things out . . .

Very likely Mike will get booted out of the hospital next week and sent to be housed in a nursing home without additional rehabilitation services.  His insurance is “Medicaid Pending” and his requiring of 24-hour physical care post discharge, a situation that cannot be met at home for valid reasons, is pushing the hospital to discharge him from their care.  I don’t get it.  In my 30+ year career in rehabilitation as an occupational therapist, the discharge criteria virtually always hinged on a lack of progress, not the particulars of discharge planning.  It’s a new day:  a new reality.  If you can’t do what the government-driven healthcare system wants you to do then I guess they can wash their hands of you.

Perhaps he will go to a nursing home or perhaps by some miracle the Veterans Administration (VA) will accept him on such short notice.  If the decision is the former, he will be fed 3 meals per day, kept clean and dry, and left to sit slumped in an overstretched wheelchair or geri chair in front of an out-of-tune entertainer from the long term care circuit with a pair of maracas shoved into his functional hand.  The wailing of the demented residents will woo him to sleep at night as he tosses on his waterproof mattress to get comfortable around the bedsores that no one will find until it is too late for healing.  Thickened Pepsi to drink?  Not a chance.  At least until his fiancé cleans up her make-up from crying long enough to ignore the swale of urine stench long enough to bring it to him.  God bless her faithfulness visiting every day through this incredibly stressful ordeal!

Or perhaps it won’t be that bad.  Maybe he will get into a VA rehabilitation facility with little red tape and get stronger.  Regardless, the hope of at least a few weeks of physical, occupational, and speech therapy has vanished for the time-being.  And Michael has no idea yet, what is about to happen to him next week.  I left a message for his saint of a fiancé and she has not gotten back to me yet.  Maybe she is in as big of SHOCK as I am.  Maybe she is exhausted and horrified from touring nursing homes closer to where they lived in the “thumb” area of Michigan.  I don’t blame her for taking a little time for herself to sort things out.  My heart goes out to Lisa.  She has been through so much these past two weeks as her life has changed forever.

As for me, 200 miles to the south and struggling with four hours of seizure attacks multiple times per day, I am overwhelmed with the stress of it all.  Just seeing the missing flooring in our bathroom from yet another mold remediation project is enough to stub my toe even when the light is on.  Somehow I completed a few errands outside the home this afternoon and made a simple dinner.  I talked to a few family members who offered mixed consolation while I was stepping on the elliptical for 20 minutes, phone in hand.  Geez!  I haven’t used that thing in a few weeks!  I must be stressed out.  Thank goodness the nightly seizure attack episodes haven’t fully ramped up yet tonight:  I needed to talk to you, Gentle Reader!  I started to type and there you were.  Thanks so much for being here.  I can barely speak I am so very upset.

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Life goes on despite the drama of the moment.  If Steve and I don’t impulsively drive 3 hours north to go to the hospital tomorrow and I’m stable enough, we will attend the 50th wedding anniversary open house of some friends.  It will be good to enjoy some Christian fellowship.  Then maybe my beloved Steve will start to work on the bathroom floor tile project and I’ll put together the jewelry orders that have been sitting at my work table this past week.  Lord willing I’ll continue with the Spring clean-up of our gardens and Steve will mow the grass for the first time this year.  Looks like the narcissus will be blooming within a day or two with their yellow-throated happy faces reaching up to soak up the sun.  The sunshine will feel good on my broken frame as well and I will enjoy the freshness of the air this time of year.  There’s no better hue of green than that of the tender leaves emerging from their Winter slumber:  truly lime, truly sublime too.  Some call it “horticulture therapy.”  Gee, maybe I should go right now poke my finger in the dirt of the violets waiting to fill the self-watering planters I thought I might plant tomorrow . . . I need a fix of something and a shot of tequila is out of the question these days . . .

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Please pray for us.  This sister bear is hurting more for her brother than anything right now.  My beloved Steve has been so loving despite the challenges of my illness, demands of his work, and his other responsibilities.  Lisa has got to be struggling as well, balancing work, the care of her teenage son (Alex), and assuming increasing responsibility for Michael’s affairs.  She and Michael have known each other almost 7 years.  Her 13 year old son has a great relationship with Michael too.  Oh Lord, hold us all closely this night.  Help us.  Show us Your love, mercy, and grace.  Guide us with wisdom.  If it is Your will, heal my brother from the effects of this devastating stroke.  Comfort him as he realizes all that has happened to him and show him hope, be real for him on his bed of sickness.  He has reached out to you in his time of need.  I am grateful for this and grateful that you are here with us.  And thank you for the encouragement we find in Your Word:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  (2 Corinthians 4)

In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Michael George Lech
Michael George Lech