Tuesday, March 17, 2015

When Worlds Collide

Today the thing that I had been dreading for so many reasons happened.

My dear, treasured, cousin Nancy passed from this world to the next to live with Jesus and wait for us to join her.  It wasn't unexpected.  She has been fighting cancer for a while now.  But the stark reality of hearing that it had actually happened still punched me in the gut and left me bereft in a way I cannot describe.

Nancy and I are 74 days apart in age.  Our moms are sisters that are closer than sisters.  They are more like twins who share that weird twin sense thing you hear about.  We grew up together like siblings doing everything you can imagine together. Our dads were best friends who married sisters who were best friends. Our families were perfectly matched.  All six of us kids are adopted and we each were the same corresponding ages.  When the older boys and we were around ages 4 and 6 we sang together in little quartets at church gatherings and such.  Our families vacationed together. As kids we pretended to be sisters and even twins since we often had matching outfits.  We even had similar hair types--both of us have thick, curly hair.

As we got into junior high and high school Nancy and I sang together just the two of us more and more.  By the time we got into high school we were singing at lots of weddings together with Nancy playing the guitar.  I looked up to her and thought she was the coolest person and she had oodles of friends that I wanted to be my friends.  My school didn't have a drama program so I lived vicariously through her plays and musicals throughout high school.  I once had a nightmare where I dreamed she had died and I vowed never to sing again.  When I woke up it seemed so real but thankfully it wasn't.  But that is how intrinsic she was to my entire being.

Nancy was always cutting and styling our dolls' hair when we were little kids so it was natural for her to move on to cutting my hair as we got into junior high.  I trusted her even though there were times that it wasn't exactly salon worthy. :)  Then as she got near high school graduation she started attending Barber College simultaneously with high school and got her license to cut hair soon after.  I can honestly say that until I found my current hair stylist several years ago she was the only one who really "got" my hair and could make it look the way I wanted it.

We had funny nicknames for each other that we decided on after we had a funny experience at Bible camp as junior highers.  Up through our last conversations this year we used those names with each other as jokes.

She introduced me to people that have changed my life and I introduced her to people who changed her life.  When she turned 50 I made a life of 50 memories of the two of us and gave it to her with a homemade card of the two of us sitting naked as 3 year olds on a family vacation.  The truth is, I could come up with way more than 50 memories of the two of us.  We shared a lifetime together.  I just never thought that our time together would end so much sooner than I wanted.

And now, the thing that I've been fearing the past month has happened.  My dearest cousin has passed on while my precious son is lying in a hospital ICU with no immediate quick recovery in sight.  So the family that I cherish back in Illinois and the funeral of someone that has impacted my life more than almost everyone else might as well be a million miles away because I won't be there.

Today my son said to me "you are going, Mom" even as he had tried to comfort me as I cried at his bedside this morning when I got the news.  "No," I said, "I will be right here with you and I want to be here with you."

This is what happens when worlds collide.

I'm so blessed to have loved her and known her.  I am beyond thankful for the two different weeks that I spent seeing her over the past year.  I will see her on that day when I pass through the veil, along with so many others whom I have loved so dearly here.

And for now, I press on:  Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bumps in the Road

Life is most revealing when you experience bumps in the road.  Character is exposed and relationships show their true colors.

God is also most revealed to us, it seems, when life doesn't go as we have planned.  I don't remember the quote because it has been so long since I even knew where her books were, but I used to love reading the author Ann Kiemel Anderson.  But I do remember she once said something like 'experiential writers are always going to have some hard things in their lives because that is where they get their material'.  Now I don't purport to be a writer like she was, but, I get a good deal of personal creativity expressed by writing my thoughts down here. And boy have we had material.

My heart is overflowing with all of the experiences of our family from the past month that I need to write some things down, but I don't really know where to start.

We brought our dear son home from the hospital last night and I truly expected to tuck him into bed, get a good night's sleep and spend the afternoon today with him outside walking around the yard for exercise.  Instead, when I walked into the house after a morning appointment, my guys were literally walking out the door to head back to KU Med to have another procedure done.  And last night?  Well, by the time I fixed us something to eat and started the laundry and did the dishes it was late and Adam was ready to go to bed.  But first I needed to change the dressing on his drain.  When we looked at it we realized that something was very wrong and ended up calling the "fellow on call" to see if we could fix it or would have to get in the car to head back to Kansas City.  Fortunately it seemed that we fixed it and sometime just before midnight we all got to bed.  Apparently something could be done to further help the drain work better and they have gone to get that done this afternoon.

Over the past four weeks I have watched my son deal with pain, suffering, confusion, distress, disappointment and fear.  He has handled it all with grace and that's a big deal.  Ever since he was a little boy Adam has NOT liked surprises.  It is part of his very intricate and amazing personality and has often caused him much unhappiness.  But over this time of trial he has dealt beautifully with all of the ups and downs (mostly downs)  that have taken all of us by surprise.  He treated each person who came into his room to deal with him in a respectful and decent way.  Even when he was intubated and partially sedated he would reach out to shake the hand of the doctor or nurse and "say" thank you by pressing his hands together and raising them up to the ceiling just as he had verbally said it when he was not incapacitated.

We also saw the grace and love of many of our friends and family over the many weeks in hospital. Adam's three dearest friends all live in the KC area.  When they were all counselors at camp years ago they named themselves The Quad as the four of them lived together all summer in a room.  When Adam was intubated and couldn't talk he "asked" to write things to us in order to communicate once he was a little bit more lucid. One of the first things he wrote was "I want the Quad heeeeeeeeeeeere."  Those three young men answered the call of friendship to him and came to visit him, some more than once over the 4 weeks.  Thanks Mark (and Ashley), Gavin (and Janice!) and Jason (thanks for letting him take off on a Saturday, Miranda).

The folks at Adam's work sent their well wishes countless times via messages, funny videos they made or phone calls to perk up his spirits.  Even when he was under the effects of versed or propofol he would mumble things that made us think he was "working" at his job.  Many days he would say that he just wanted to go back to work because he loves his job.

Caleb and Rebecca Broxterman came by one night and visited as they live in the area as well.  It was fun to watch them listen attentively to Adam as he regaled them with trivia and stories of racing horse legends from the Triple Crown races. When our Zach came with the boys' friends Jordan and Derek it felt like they were back in their college house chatting again.

Our closest friends Scott and Vickie and Charlie and Judi came and sat with us, listened to our fears, or took us down to the cafeteria to eat with them to get out of the room.  Another couple of friends that we go to church with came and visited . He also happens to be the CEO of  the company for which Adam works.  I found out that he had written "thanks Boss" and gave it to Brad while I was out visiting with Pam.  Dear friends from the past and parents/sibling of Adam's dear friend from grade school, Dawn, Clint and Kortney came and took all of us by surprise one Sunday afternoon.  Their son Nate was Adam's best friend in elementary school and was the best medicine at the time of Adam's transplant 16 years ago.  None of us will ever forget Nate and Adam sitting in the hospital bed eating string cheese together in September of 1998.  One of Craig's co-workers came by one day to visit as well as some dear friends from home who now live in KC and pastor a church there.  Thanks so much, Matt and Jill!  Charlie and our discipleship  pastor Chris graciously drove my car down one day so that I could get home and take care of Anna for a few days.  The fact that they took that time and also the prayers they prayed over him meant so much to Adam.

Of course our family has supported us and loved us through all of this in so many ways.  All of our grown kids came down once, twice, or more to sit with us and spend time with their brother. Katrina spent the night with me while Craig had to go home and file some taxes.  Nathan gave up his day off and stayed way too late just to be with all three of us.  Zach came by with friends to cheer up his brother. Craig's sister Susan and her husband Mike live nearby and came by once as well as Susan stopping by a couple more times on her way to or from the airport for work.  Sister Trish and her husband Mike flew down one Sunday afternoon from Minnesota and spent the afternoon.  Then on their wedding anniversary weekend they flew down again and surprised us by stopping by the hospital on Friday night, driving to Wichita the next day to visit Nathan's annual Garden Show, travelling on up to Manhattan  to surprise Zach and Katrina at each of their jobs, and finally, drove on to Sabetha to surprise Anna at her school's basketball game.  Their unselfishness at giving up their special day to make our family feel loved was above and beyond what we could have imagined.  My sister texted and called me more times than I can count and was constantly telling me that it was all she could do to keep from coming and being with us even though she is a teacher and a busy mommy.  I kept up with my mom each night after we got back to our hotel or she would call me during the day to get updates.

Something that means the world to me is that I never once had to worry that Anna was happy, loved, fed and sent to school and all her activities.  Scott and Vickie and Charlie and Judi loved her like one of their own children and allayed her fears that her parents would never return.

And lastly, but most significantly, my husband fought the giants of bureaucracy, made sure that Adam got the care he needed, listened to countless doctors and specialists with me,  stayed by his side all but 2 days of the entire time, cried with me, held hands with our son across the bed with me, took care of all our lodging and meal needs, walked the halls with us, pushed the wheelchair outside with us, went out and got whatever Adam wanted to eat, swabbed his mouth with sponges dipped in water when Adam's lips were parched from no drinking, worked at his job from a hospital room, and prayed for us after I read scripture over Adam each night so he could sleep without fear.   All of that and much more than I could ever recount here.

We give thanks to Jesus Christ Who alone is the great healer and comforter of those who are in need.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday, March 4th update on Adam

Well, friends, I'm pretty sure that my last blog post was one of the most poorly written ever.  I wrote that on the hotel computer one night while I was waiting for some laundry to finish. I believe one of my friends referred to something called "hospital head" on social media and that is clearly evident in my writing.

Something that I forgot to mention in that post was that Adam went without food or anything to drink by mouth for 13 days.  THAT, my friends, is a very long time.  I have become convinced that part of the suffering of hell will truly be a desire to have a cool drink and the denial thereof.  I had to watch my son beg for something to drink and to watch him only get relief from touching a wet sponge to his lips.  He told us that he was going to buy those "water lollipops" by the bag and take them home with him.  But on the first day that they let him drink real sips of water those lollipops lost their appeal.  

Last night Adam was able to eat half of a Subway sandwich (which Craig went out to get for him) which was his first really delicious food so far.  I've been told that he ordered a huge breakfast this morning which I'm sure will taste so much better since his feeding tube was removed last night after another CT scan.  I honestly don't know how he was able to swallow anything comfortably with that tube going down the back of his throat.

This experience has certainly added to my list of "things I never want to happen to me if I am in the hospital".  

I just got a text from Craig saying that they put Adam back on NPO (nothing by mouth) because the CAT scan showed that his pancreas is still inflamed.  I'm sure that is crushing news for my son.  He has worked so hard to try to get stronger these past few days--up walking and eating good food even though it was difficult to swallow.

Stay tuned and thank you so much for your prayers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More Than a Fortnight.....

I don't even know where to begin to write about the experience of the past 3 weeks.  I've tried to keep dear ones informed on social media but it is really hard to do that because, firstly, there is so much going on, and secondly, because I don't feel that the whole of my world wants or perhaps needs to know every detail.

So I'll try to fill you in if you decided to click on my blog.

 Over three weeks ago our son, Adam, was experiencing some severe itching and mentioned it to me one morning from his work.  He went to get labs done and made an appointment with his local doctor.  His liver numbers were high and he was noticeably jaundiced so his doctor called his liver doctor here in Kansas City.  They set up an appointment for him to see his liver doc the following Monday which he did and had several tests done.  They did a liver biopsy and the results showed that his liver was in good health but that he had a stricture (or narrowing) in one of his biliary ducts.  So they scheduled a "noninvasive" procedure to stretch out the blockage on the following Friday.  He went down and had the procedure done with Craig driving him.

On the way home that evening Adam was experiencing extreme pain and shortness of breath so they detoured to our local hospital ER.  Testing there determined that he had severe pancreatitis which was something that was a possible side effect of the procedure on maybe 3% of the people who had it done.  I know, we're just lucky like that.

While he could have gotten back in the car and ridden another almost 3 hours back to the hospital in KC they decided that the local hospital could treat him the same as they could.  So from Friday night through Sunday morning Adam was treated with pain meds and fluids with no food or drink by mouth allowed.

Then Sunday morning right before the sermon started at church, Craig walked up to me in the front of the church where I sit for worship team and said "we have to go".  Scared me to death.  They had decided to take Adam to KC by ambulance back here to KU Med because his white count had shot up about 9000 points and they felt safer having him in a facility with liver docs on call. We followed after almost 2 hours of waiting for the go ahead from KU MED for us to come.

That was one of the worst nights of my son's life and for us as well as he was suffering greatly from pain.  With doctors' orders not getting put into the system for almost 3 hours he writhed in pain suffering with no pain meds and wondering why no one was helping him.  It was awful for him and so difficult for us.  We had to leave to go home in a snowstorm and it was horrible wondering how he would get along through the night.  Soon after we left he got some relief but it was the start of a long and difficult path for him.

The next couple days were up and down with the worst coming on Wednesday.  Craig went back down to be with him while I tied up loose ends before coming down on Thursday.  By Thursday evening he was in ICU and they were telling us that they were recommending that they intubate him because his mental state was so distressed because of toxins in his body and a raging infection in his blood making it difficult to keep him calm and settled to receive proper treatment.

Thursday night was our breaking point emotionally.  Knowing they were going to intubate our child when he was already so confused and broken with pain and suffering was too much for both of us.  Though they tried to assure us that they were doing it to protect his airway, allow him to be more easily sedated and give him some rest it felt so "end of life" and frightening.

The next several days were so hard but looking back I know it was the right thing to do.  And thankfully, he doesn't really remember it very much.

Yesterday we began the start of week 3 in the hospital.  As my dear Adam so brilliantly put it, that's more than a fortnight!  He has been through so many tests, blood draws, intubation, feeding tube, and many other dignity destroying procedures that I won't share them all here.  But he is my hero.  He was already my hero for all that he went through as a young child.  But now he has bravely put up with so much and is still fighting strongly.

His road to recovery will be pretty extended from the way it sounds and he's not home yet.  I probably shared more than I should have but there were so many things that I didn't share here.

We want to thank everyone who is praying earnestly for him and for all of those who have sent messages or visited him and us in the hospital.  We are also SO thankful for the 2 families who so lovingly cared for Anna all of this time so that we could focus on getting Adam well.

Keep praying for us all!  We are so grateful for your prayers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Evolution of a Quilt

Today is my youngest child's 17th birthday.  It is really hard to imagine that she is that old already.  She's been ours for 14 years this coming August.  

Today is also the day that I have accomplished something I've been wanting to do for years and that is to make each of my children a special quilt.  I finished up Anna's quilt early this morning around 12:45.  It didn't HAVE to be done on the day, but I wanted it to be done.  I'm kind of bad about gifts not arriving on time because of my lack of thinking about how long something may take to be shipped.  So since I had control over this, I wanted it done.

This quilt has been growing in my mind for a few years since I saw a picture of one that was similar with this darling matroyshka fabric. I found the fabric on amazon and it came from Japan.   I've had it for a couple years but just didn't know where to begin to put it all together.  So this fall I decided that I needed to just do it.  The original quilt had red and white checked fabric where I have the chevron and the dots.  I tried and tried to find the right fabrics but could not find the right gingham.  When I found the chevron and dotted fabrics I realized that I  really love them even more.  

Then I just found some colors similar to the original quilt--a green, a purple and a yellow and a darling turquoise print with which I fell in love.  It took me only an afternoon to cut out the strips and sew them together.  But it has taken me WEEKS to quilt it on my machine with my new walking foot.  I love the finished product.  It took much more time than I imagined it would but I'm thankful that I was able to do it myself.  There were a few days that I spent 7-8 hours simply quilting.  

 It was a labor of love.  It makes me feel like I truly accomplished something.  I hope one day each of my children will appreciate the love and care I have put into each of their quilts.  

Here are some pictures I took this morning after I put on a label.  Mostly this is for my mom who can look at my blog to see how it turned out.


Love the movement of those zig zags.

The fabric that started it all.   Love those little Matroyshka girls.( Ooops, there is still some disappearing ink on those parts that I couldn't see very well because they were so close to the background color.)

It took some imagination to come up with quilting patterns to fill in all of that space.

I added a hand sewn pop of red to this purple.  Zippidydoodah.

I like to personalize my labels.  This proves that my work is not perfect! :)

Lots and lots of stitches.

Can't wait to give it to her.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Feast instead of Snacks

Recently I was inspired to reread a book which had made a huge impact on me and my thinking.  I have started to reread it although I need to finish a historical book that I'm almost done reading.  Then I saw a post by someone on social media that reminded me yet again of the author of the book.  So I went to youtube and watched several of the talks that this author gave which inspired me further.

One of the things she spoke about was that her conversion to Christianity came about because she threw herself into reading the Bible over and over again.  She stated that it was through reading large portions of scripture that her life was transformed.  Then she made a statement that rang true for me.  She said, "don't read the Bible in small phrases like it is a horoscope."  

I love reading the devotional book that I have been using for a while now.  But it gives two or three scriptures to look up and read and that's it.  I had been feeling exactly like I was using the Bible as a horoscope--reading the verses and feeling as though it was the prescription for the day ahead.  

Something I have been learning is that hearing and reading the truth of the Word of God is so cleansing and sanctifying.  That's a big word for life changing.  If I only get a taste of something it doesn't really change me.  But if I feast on something it can be life altering.

So I am challenged to start reading bigger portions of scripture on which to feast so that God's Word can sanctify me more and more.  It is truly more satisfying to do so that it is to snack on random verses.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Snakes on my Pillow

Yesterday was a day that will live in infamy for me.  

If you follow me on social media you know without any doubt that I found a snake in my house yesterday.  

I'm sorry if that scares you or anything, but, yeah, it was in MY house.  Yes, I freaked out a bit.  And yes, I shoved that thing with my shoe all the way across my kitchen from my living room and pushed it right outside onto my patio. 

 Most people agree with me that I should have killed it. But I was running late to pick up my daughter from school and her school is 30 minute away.  So I hoped in my rapidly beating heart that it would slither away and I would never see it again as I drove down the road having images of snakes slithering up into my bedroom and waking me in the morning.  It didn't help that a high school classmate of mine joked that I would find one on my pillow.  

That post on my social media got more comments than pretty much anything I had ever posted previously.  Which brought me to my next horrifying discovery:  my floor was filthy and my woodwork is totally scratched up from my now 10 months departed dog.

So this morning, partly to satisfy my need to make it look better, and partly to disinfect the snake cooties, I had to clean.  I even got out the scratch remover which I have been needing to do, but had so far avoided.  

Here's to being clean AND snake free for a long time.