Friday, April 24, 2009

random entry

I have nothing much in mind to say, just lots of time to say it since I'm sitting in clinic waiting for Ethan. My SI joint is bothering me so I have to sit in a somewhat comfortable position I've found and type away. I did strengthening exercises at home this morning, plus I'm trying to get away w/ wearing a different pair of shoes than normal - both are probably causing more discomfort.

I think I forgot how intense plain old normal life can be, without the extra health issues. This week our sump pump failed as well as the backup battery pack. We didn't have a lot of major "flooding" but in the end still have to have carpet restoration with insurance kicking in a part of the cost. Ethan's room is very important to keep dry because it's risky for him to be exposed to mold.

A friend of mine asked me what I'll do next year when all the kids are in school. That's where this line of thought about the intensity of normal life comes from. This past year, there were so many things that didn't get done at all or we paid other people to do or had volunteer help just so we could function. Someone happened to see the outside of our house yesterday and pointed out that we need to replace the extensions on the gutter drains to keep the water away from the house. When is that going to fit into life along with the million and one other things that need attention? My main "extra" focus this month has been Ethan's upcoming graduation and working on details for his freshman year at ISU. There's also Katrina's school, taking care of Samantha, doing the housework I don't pay to get done, cooking, driving girls to lessons, and multiple other things. And Dave is swamped w/ his extra responsibilities at work and trips to Memphis.

But next year when I have more "free time" what will I do with myself? It would be nice to shop more economically for one, something I've wanted to do for years. I clip coupons and take advantage of sales at the grocery store, but don't have time to shop around. It would be nice to get back into crafts or more sophisticated cooking. The kids (and Dad) would love it if I did some baking and made more use of the bread machine they just gave me. I'd like to volunteer at both the girls' schools. I'd enjoy pursuing long-term interests w/ tutoring ESL and taking advantage of adoption/pro-life opportunities. I'd enjoy being able to participate in St. Jude and cancer awareness programs.

I know I'll need to continue with my health care and have an exercise program. I hope I can start playing keyboard and attend functions at church again, esp. in women's ministires. I'm missing their retreat this weekend and haven't attended the weekly Bible Study all year. We haven't been involved in attending, hosting or leading a small group in a long time.

There are so many things to do! God-willing I'll be able to manage even just a few.

Well that's my random entry for today.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Health Update

I am "managing" I guess you could say. It would be nice to feel totally normal but movement of any kind below my waist triggers my symptoms. When I wake up in the morning, I feel no pain. When I settle in for the night, I usually feel fine. When I sit down to rest, it's sometimes challenging to find a comfortable position but I can almost always get relief. I bought a new recliner rocker that fits my small frame and it's made things more bearable.

When I'm mobile, my leg starts to ache, burn, or stiffen. The SI joint in my lower back sometimes bothers me depending on my position. But I'm starting to figure out what I can do to minimize the discomfort. I called the doctor a few weeks ago about taking a medication that targets nerve pain - the generic form of Neurontin called Gabapentin. I've known about it for a long time because Ethan's been taking it, but hesitated to ask for it because I wasn't sure what effect it would have on me, making me extra tired or dizzy. But now since I've increased my strengthening routine for physical therapy, I've decided I should try it. I want to do the exercises in the hope they will give me long term stability but they really aggravate my symptoms. I try to do most of them in the evening when I can rest, like I'm doing now. The Gabapentin is definitely helping and only makes me a little tired and dazed once in awhile; I may eventually ask for a higher dose because it's taking off the edge but not removing all the discomfort.

The other thing I have that helps is a steroid cream for my SI joint. It works well. After a physical therapy appointment, I get a 24 hour patch that works the same way. I'm also still wearing my shoes all day and wearing the belt just above my hips. Another part of my routine includes doing correcting exercises after I shower in the morning; I start to feel worse leading up to that point but then I'm good to go for awhile.

As far as the big picture goes, I'm still able to accomplish a lot through my days, it's just a matter of timing. The kitchen and house get put in order, the wash gets done, Katrina's schooling continues, Samantha's plethora of needs get attended to, the girls get transported to their extra activities, dinner gets on the table, errands get run, other details for the boys get taken care of including chemo, college entrance requirements, etc. etc. We've had to make some changes including Dave helping me get groceries, hiring a house cleaner, pacing myself and unfortunately giving up some of my former life for awhile - playing keyboard for church, attending women's Bible study, small group, entertaining, and volunteering my services for various ministries.

I've realized I've gained other things to replace what I've given up. I'm writing again, which is something I haven't done in ages. Maybe I'll play my piano again one of these days which I haven't touched in ages. I've listened to some awesome sermons on my Ipod and discovered more worship tunes that have nourished my soul.

I was sharing with a friend early in Ethan's illness how hard it was for me to see him lose so much. Her son is Ethan's age and they're both graduating this year. Her son's life has been very full, including being student council president for two years at a very large school. My friend said something truly profound, that when God takes something away He often replaces it with something else. And you know what, I've seen that materialize, especially with Ethan's Make a Wish gift. Who would have thought Ethan and Bryan could do what they love to do right here at home, making awesome videos, recording songs, etc. And the same is true for me. God is replacing some of what I've lost with other good things. This entry is getting too long so I won't elaborate, but I'm thankful that I've been blessed the way I have.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Philosophy on Healing

Whew, I guess I'm taking up a big topic today. Actually it's rather simple. I've come to form this view over many years, and am open to God revising it whenever and however He wishes.

My view basically boils down to this: God is the creator, and He is the healer of broken bodies. This healing can take place in many ways. We may put some in the "miracle" category, but all healing is by God alone through whatever means and timing He chooses. His children can expect total healing in some form and can confidently pray and trust that He will answer. As we approach Easter, we must acknowledge that the resurrection is the ultimate form of healing, but we can expect significant healing in this world as well.

Now I'd like to share some of my experiences and what God has taught me through them. When Dave was first diagnosed with Crohn's, we prayed for God's supernatural intervention before he went through with the surgery. I was scheduled to sing at church during this time and chose a song titled "He is Able." Before I sang, I dedicated the song to Dave. We were trusting God for healing, and because the surgery ended up being necessary, we embraced God's sovereign will that although He was able, He did not remove the Crohn's without the help of the surgeons. We believe He guided the surgeon's hands and spared Dave's life; Dave went into total remission for six years following. Dave grew spiritually as the surgery loomed over him, being confronted with his mortality and gaining a greater appreciation for the blessings in His life, first and foremost our family.

When Crohn's reared its ugly head again six years later, Dave was able to consider other treatments; the first time he had no other options because his urinary tract was compromised. Aside from Prednisone, which is a steroid that is problematic long-term, none of the treatments worked. He even had an allergic reaction to one. Dave had a second surgery, but it did not bring about the desired and expected result. During this time I adopted the "manna" principle for healing. Dave's been prayed over and anointed with oil by the elders, and I believe his health is a daily step of faith. We trust God to SUSTAIN him and give him what he needs for each day. God has faithfully enabled Dave to have an amazing influence in our family, at our church, on campus, and in our state, all while dealing with the ups and downs of his health. We're still praying for even more and constantly seeking out new treatments, some of them "non-medical." It's been a long interesting journey and the manna keeps coming.

Something just came to mind which I'll share. My mother lost her oldest sibling to illness - there were several siblings at the time and my mother was not yet conceived. My grandparents believed that taking their child to the doctor negated allowing God to directly heal her (I'm pretty sure money was partly involved as well). Unfortunately they lost her. They did end up taking her to the doctor, but it was too late. I could be tempted to allow this to shape my thinking and not trust God enough for supernatural healing. I've tried to be careful about that. I greatly respect my grandparents and know they tried to exercise their faith as God led them. The main thing is that their eyes were on the Lord and that's what really counts.

So to wrap up, as things stand now, I am trusting God to bring about a surgery-free healing and/or sustaining of Dave and also a restoring of Ethan to good health. I view Dave's careful maintenance of his weight and responding to flare-ups w/ dietary restrictions and rest as his "manna", along with continually seeking out other medical options. I view Ethan's chemo as his "manna". For myself, I'm seeking God's help in making the right decisions and taking it one step at a time (both figuratively and literally). It's a process, and God will heal all of us as we walk in faith with Him. Ethan seems "healed" to me now, but we must keep going with the chemo. We must follow the protocol because God has ordained it for him. We know the people who are working with him and how much they've invested to keep him alive. They really care for every child they save. This is God's way of telling us that His hand is directly on Ethan through them, just as His hand was upon him through the elders in February '09 in Peoria.

Similarly, my physical therapist is a Christian, has SI joint dysfunction herself, and is probably one of the few if not the only specialist in women's pelvic health in our town. I too have received anointing prayer, not for this most recent illness, but for a former one at which time I "just happened" to be teaching on a healing-related passage in Mark for our women's ministry at church. My beliefs stem first and foremost from God's Word and then seeing how He works in the lives of those who trust Him.