Sunday, June 28, 2009

nothing profound

I feel like writing but don't have any specific thing on my mind. My leg's been pretty good lately and Ethan's doing fine while still getting weekly treatments.

In a way the second half of our summer has officially begun. I say that because the first part was more events and traveling - we had graduation, my parents visiting, open house, ISU preview, and our trip east. Now we settle down into more general "stuff" - Samantha doing swim lessons, art and zoo classes, Katrina resuming ice skating lessons and doing a drama class and volleyball camp, Ethan working at Panera, Bryan teaching guitar and doing other odd jobs (one of which is helping Dave with his wind energy conference), and Dave working on a more regular basis.

One of my goals for the summer is to get Samantha a little further along in learning to read. She actually likes working on it with me if I catch her at the right time. I keep it low key and she seems to like figuring out a few words on her own but mostly prefers to read aloud with me. I pretend like I'm sounding out the words myself and she joins in. It's like a game. I also have her pick words out of a sentence. At this point she's still really a pre-reader, not a reader. So we've got a lot of work to do.

Another thing we've got on our plate is finishing the girls' bedrooms. I plan to help Katrina get started removing her border tomorrow. Samantha wants hers removed as well, even though it's perfectly fine, so I've decided we'll do it since she's been complaining about it for several months. I got another cheap one to replace it that suits her better; it may not work as well but she'll be happy. We didn't find a border for Katrina, so we're going to try to paint a border - a solid background with stencil style additions.

Now this is going to seem really random because it is, and yet it isn't; you'll see where I'm going w/ it in a minute. There's a scene in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" where the narrator describes how one person's interruption in their routine leads to all sorts of subsequent events that would not have otherwise happened if the first one didn't. It's sort of like that with our bedroom scenario. Ethan got sick, and Katrina had to fend for herself and help out more at home than if I had been here full time. She also had to school herself more or less for a year. It complicated things even further when I got sick and was running to Carle Clinic about twice a week and limping around the house or resting a lot. Because of all that, Katrina became increasingly discontent with sharing a bedroom with Samantha after having to babysit her so much (no wonder), and also expressed interest in attending Cornerstone a year early, which was the long-term plan for her anyway. At the same time, Ethan was responding to treatment, got through the worst of the side effects, and was able to pursue college. He had already claimed space in the basement for his Make-a-Wish studio, so it made sense to turn that into his at-home dorm room since treatment would be ongoing thru the middle of his sophomore year.

The bedroom scenario might have happened either way in the end, but I'm pretty sure at least the timing would have been different. So here we are, finishing the girls' rooms this summer after separating them last winter.

And I'm at the end of saying nothing really profound at all.

(These pictures added after the rooms were done)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life and Death

I'd like to start out on a positive note, and hopefully won't get overly negative. I am doing great today. My leg AND my left pelvic area are almost pain-free. I'm experiencing numbness in my left foot and a little stinging in my leg. The stinging has replaced the burning and stiffness since my injection for about 85% of the time. On the few occasions I've felt really bad, I've done my correction exercises and they worked.

Bottom line - the injection caused a lot of irritation in my pelvic area, sitting was really hard. That's fine now. Walking and standing are good most of the time, so the injection seemed to give me some relief, but not totally. I think what's going on is that I'm having slower progress because of lifestyle demands that require me to ignore some of the PT recommendations, and also because of additional exercises I've been given that stir up the pain. The medications help me overall so I can keep moving forward. My physical therapist has been checking my SI joint position and says it's much more stable than when she first started seeing me, but it's still not fully stable (she has to manually give me adjustments, but not as much).

Whew, sorry for that long explanation. Now to what I've had on my mind, life and death. I'll share snippets of conversations and other things that have led me to dwell on this serious topic, starting with this morning and moving back in time. This morning I talked with someone at church who rarely makes it to service because she has a very sick heart. She may need a transplant but is holding off for now. She's had a rough two years with losing her mom and another close relative. Last week I talked with friends from Philadelphia who've been in touch with our other friend who's husband lost his battle to cancer in January. She is grieving deeply. I also read a blog written by the husband of a friend in town who had early stage ovarian cancer last year; it was touching to read about his struggle in facing the possibility of losing her. After several months of chemo, she's been cancer free and has a good prognosis. On Caringbridge, the site we use for Ethan's illness, we've been following another family's very difficult journey; we first met them at Ronald McDonald House. The son has the same type leukemia as Ethan and was temporarily paralyzed from treatment, but after many months regained most of his mobility - he still is in therapy. Just recently, his grandma died after a brief serious illness. His mom has been having a lot of stomach trouble and is undergoing testing for that. In the past week, our church has been praying for a former church member in another state who had a tumor removed and was doing well, then thought the cancer came back but found out it was only a buildup of fluid. Finally, we've heard of one kindergartner's mom from Samantha's school who's now in hospice, and are following another classmate's mom's battle with cancer.

In the meantime, Ethan is doing great! He seems perfectly healthy with few side effects from continuing treatment. We were so excited a couple weeks ago to see him graduate with his class and receive a standing ovation for all God's done.

Life, death, why do some "win" and others "lose"? That is a question I can't tackle. All I can say about it is it's reality. And truth prevails over it all. Truth says that death has been conquered, everyone in the kingdom wins. There are no losers. But it sure feels that way to those who have to go on with their lives and adjust. God bless them, God protect them, God give them strength in the midst of their pain.

It's hard to think of a way to wrap this up. What I think I want to do is just remind myself that every day is a gift, even with its struggles which sometimes are many. Moments are important. They count for eternity. So many precious moments that blend together to make days, seasons, years. I want to remind myself not to miss out on what I've been given, to treasure people, to treasure creation, to treasure life, and above all to treasure my Lord.