An absolutely beautiful morning to sit on the front porch with coffee and God. Unseasonably warm, upper 50’s and a light breeze, sunshine abounds! I had called to check on David and his nurse reported that he had his bath, was somewhat coherent and nodding in answer to her questions. His nurse overnight confirmed that he remembers nothing of days prior to the moment he is in. His doctors had not been in yet, so little information was available except that he is the same. Just knowing he was awake and responding was encouraging enough for me!
With coffee in hand and the early morning unseasonable warmth, I headed to the front porch, one of my favorite spots to be with God. This morning I was lead to begin reading through the Book of Ecclesiastes. Many times I will read different Bible versions and this morning I chose The Message version which is more like novel writing. After reading this version I compare the text to other versions I have for greater understanding and clarification. What a literary on life! I read through Chapter 6 and will continue again later today to complete the book. This story is a reality check. What is all of this for? Why? Is life futile? Are we living smoke and mirrors lives? All these years after King Solomon, the text could be the same today. As I look at all David and I and our family have done and to see him in a hospital bed this way, I began asking myself some of the same questions as King Solomon about life, love, relationships, work, wealth and the eventuality of it all.
Wilson and I prepared to go to church and then up to the hospital. Together we have kept things picked up and cleaned up around the house, leaving life as normal as possible, knowing the new round of chaos will inevitably will begin soon. The sermon this morning was the final in a series about The Nuts & Bolts of Giving. As I listened to the sermon telling us that God created everything and therefore everything is His and we are only the temporary keepers of everything, a chord was struck.
Everything is God’s? Every thing? That means that my children, my pets, my husband are only mine on loan until someone else needs them, including God. As I continued to listen I thought of all of the things we accumulate and hang on to. I think of how vested we become in every “thing” in our lives.
Just then I felt my phone vibrating in the pew. It was the hospital and my heart skipped a beat as I rushed outside. One of the cardiology team making a courtesy call. Long sigh, my husband is doing fine and actually he is improving ever so slightly. David had answered the doctor’s questions by nodding and blinking. The brief news shared indicated David’s health was looking up. My heart back in my chest I said I would be up to see him after church and I shot a prayer up to God for good news.
After church Wilson and I journeyed to the hospital, ready to check on David and see for ourselves the good news. We spent a moment with David’s day nurse getting questions answered and getting a review of where he was after this mornings doctor visits. David’s oxygen being provided by the machine dropped to 60 today and he tolerated it! Friday it was 80 and reduced to 70 and he could not keep that level. Yesterday he tolerated 70 and remained there. Now early this morning he tolerated 60 and so early in the day? Really? I was happy dancing inside! This is the biggest indicator we have been looking for. There are lots of other indicators, but this one thing is huge! It’s a step toward getting the ventilator out and healing his lungs to a point of having the strength and ability to receive bypass surgery.
He is still sedated to a level, but they have been decreasing those levels over the last few days a small amount at a time. The hope is that as they decrease those levels he will strengthen on his own while being cut back on his oxygen provided by machines as well. David has a lot of fluid that needs to come off his lungs and body. Lasiks are used daily through an IV as a diuretic to help those fluids come off the body. After a massive heart attack, many body functions are interrupted, challenged and in need of assistance because the heart provides the support for the entire body and it’s organs the nurse explained. David has lots of fluids to get out of his body and there is a lot of fluid build up. His hands are puffy due to the fluids and inactivity, but knowing that his lungs are improving and his X-rays are clearer, gives us hope that the fluids are leaving and he is improving in more ways than just his oxygen level!
David has alarming purple bruising under his right arm. They tell me that is due to the blood thinners and that it will pass. Not alarmed? I keep thinking blood clots? It scares the daylights out of me! Nurses and doctors assure me that this will subside and that he is on enough blood thinners that clots are not a concern. As one week has passed since David arrived at Chippenham we have seen the purple bruising come and go. I say all of this because you need to know that bruising, especially where IVs have been on a heart attack patient happen and you should be alert but not alarmed and don’t be hesitant to ask questions. Trust me, I am alarmed, but I am constantly watching it and monitoring how it looks day to day. To me, it looks dangerous, but to those who do this daily, it is common.
Ask every question of the medical staff! Don’t wonder about something and then not ask the burning questions you have. If you do not understand what is being said to you, don’t walk away until you ask for a more simple explanation or example. Understand and be understood. One of the nurses printed an EKG of David’s heart rhythms and his own just to show me an example of normal sinus rhythm and David’s rhythm. Thank you sir! What a wonderful explanation in visual terms “I” can understand.
Medicine of today is not the medicine of your parents day. You have rights to understand what is going on, explanations of procedure and the results once a procedure is done. What is it there for? What do you hope to accomplish by doing this? What will be the possible problems or side affects afterward. Be an informed patient and patient advocate for your family members and yourself!
Wilson and I spent a bit of time with David. Being critically ill, only family is able to visit at this time so that David can rest. Visits are kept short to enable him to get the rest he needs to keep him from getting agitated and to better enable him to increase his strength and oxygen levels. The blinds were open in his room presenting the beautiful sunshine this Sunday and God offered. 80 degrees outside, David would have loved this day and certainly been around the farm with Wilson doing something just to be outside and take advantage of the day. Me, Sundays are meant for rest and relaxation. Other than cooking, Sundays are generally a day of quiet reflection, Bible reading, watching UP TV for the Christian movies and generally as little as possible. Breaks my heart David can only watch the sunshine and yet fills me with joy that he is at least opening his eyes randomly and seeing the sunshine, blinking at the brightness.
As I stood at the door of David’s room beaming with sunshine, I envisioned the Angels on Guard I had called upon God to place there and envisioned the room filled to the brim, even up high in the ceiling floating on high. The ones on high were floating looking down, the ones standing tall surrounding him were breathing small white puffs of healthy air into David’s lungs as yet others sang empowering songs of joy to him. I thanked God for this army of Angels who have been with him and increased him so greatly in the last 36 hours. I praised God for where we were in the moment and asked for continuing to cover David in Grace and healing.
To some my vision sounds far fetched and bordering on the crazy side. I tell you it is not! When you have a loved one you care deeply about, circle them in a bubble of healing, safety, happiness and more. I have prayed every morning for my children and my husband to be placed in a bubble of God’s safety and security for as long as I can remember. Each morning on my short drive to work, I ask God to encompass each of my family and my employees in a bubble of safety, health and protect them from harm as they carry through their day. I don’t make a big deal about this prayer, few know I do it, you know now. I encourage you to wrap your family in a bubble. As my children left on visitations with their father in Michigan growing up, the prayer of the bubble was always spoken and it gave me peace as the days apart were frightening and emotional.
As we left the hospital, Wilson and I compared how much better David was looking and that we were seeing healing in his face and his actions. As we drove I began to think how we are given everything on loan from God. We are responsible for those people in our lives and how we treat them, how we encourage them, love them, let them grow and so much more. Children are given to us to nurture and teach. Our spouses are given to us to be our partner, our helper to meet our needs and us theirs. How often do we discount those we love? How often we take for granted those things that are ordained and given to us? HOw often do we lose patience with our family quicker than a stranger? How often do we treat our own spouses and family like others we meet daily? Do we give the same grace to our families as we give to others? How often do we thank them profusely for the everyday things that they do, as we might a stranger or other who does something for us?
It is times like these that we begin, unfortunately, to reflect on the things we should have said. We discover the daily the things that we have taken for granted. The trash they take out, the dishes and laundry they do, the way they keep the house neat, think about the windshield washer fluid in our vehicle, all those little things that now are ours to handle. I try regularly to thank my family and employees for the “little” things they do and the things they do promptly when asked. I try to seek the good things and share how I appreciate them.
The Message Bible’s version of Ecclesiastes 7:14 fits right here. “On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.” Isn’t that exactly what today was about I thought as I read this verse. The Nuts & Bolts of Giving sermon about how everything is God’s and on temporary loan. Then the appreciation we should show not only to our friends and coworkers but most importantly our own family. Our family, on loan from God, they deserve our best, not the rest. What a better way to Praise God than to show Him our pleasure in His choice for our family member who He picked just for us!?!
As we close this twelfth day without David here, our day has been filled with fellowship at church, a visit with David and errands. At the end of our day we have quietly reflected on the day and the joy and sadness we have been blessed to experience. A neighbor stopping to ask what she can do to help? Let dogs out, clean up, run the vacuum? Texts from family and friends checking on David and us. We are exhausted from the day, but blessed to be counted as one of God’s children.
My last thing before my bedtime prayer is a call to David. His nurse this evening says he is doing well with the reduced oxygen and hopeful that tomorrow he will tolerate the 50% level or less. His ENT will be coming to remove the “torpedo” from his previously bloody nose from the start of this ordeal. Our prayer is that he will not begin bleeding again when it is removed and that he will get some relief just having that blasted thing out! I cannot imagine the discomfort of having what is likened to a small tampon in my nose for this long! (Sorry to be so graphic!)
My grandmother repeatedly imparted on us as children “Pray without ceasing.” We close with this one tidbit of wisdom. In everything, “Pray without ceasing.” Be blessed on your journey, for God has plans for us all. “Plans to prosper us and bring us no harm.” There is hope! God has more for David to do, be and impart!