Monday, January 26, 2009

Gold Nuggets

I blogged a few days ago how that, in the midst of a week of bad news, God had blessed us by allowing a friend to supply our need for a transport chair for Don for our most recent doctor visit. On Saturday, something even MORE exciting happened.

The end of November, the neurologist wanted to give Don a series of plasma infusions (called IVIG) to fight the disease they thought he had at that time. The procedure was horribly expensive and Medicare wouldn't pre-approve it. So, after much thought and prayer, we decided to go ahead with the procedure, even if it meant losing everything we owned. We didn't feel we had much choice. I proceeded to consult with several financial gurus at the hospital where the procedure would be done as well as Medicare and Blue Cross, crossing all my t's and dotting all my i's, in case we were billed personally for the infusions.

Saturday morning, when I opened my e-mail, I had a message from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois, our secondary insurance carrier, telling me to check our account. When I went into the account, I saw that they had paid our IVIG charges, and I didn't have to file a claim, write a letter or anything! I was thrilled. Their part of the payment was right at $50,000, and they only pay 20%. Someone told me, with all the write-offs insurance companies get, our original bill was probably somewhere in the area of $600.000! What a wonderful blessing to not have to worry about that expense when we already have so much on our plate.

Even though last week was a difficult week in many ways, there were still gold nuggets to be found, assuring us of our Father's love and care. We're still some of His favorite kids!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Here's Where We Are . . .

Today, the MG specialist told us that Don was misdiagnosed with myasthenia gravis. He said (which our regular neurologist has inferred the last two visits) that Don has a motor-neuron disease. He referred to it several times as ALS (which is the disease my dad died from), but it isn't full blown. At the moment, Don's is mainly concentrated in his lower extremities. We're seeing a slight bit of degeneration and involvement in his upper body, but not a lot. We've been dealing with this for a little over a year now, and it's been a steady deterioration of his ability to use his legs. The definite diagnosis has been a blow for us. We had felt that we could deal with the MG, because it does go into remission. We knew, however, that we had seen no remission in Don's case since it began. So, his major surgery in September was probably completely unnecessary. Today has been difficult for us, but our trust in in the Lord. He's been more than faithful to us. Whatever the future holds, God's our Fortress, our Strong Tower and our Hope. Since my dad died of ALS, I'm tending to remember history. There's no comfort in that. This evening is better than this afternoon was. Don and I held each other and cried in each other's arms - and that has made it better. Sometimes, when you're walking blindly, crying is about all that relieves the present pressure. We will survive, however. We have a strong love for each other and for the Lord. Please believe with us that God's healing will come and His grace will sustain as needed.

Giving Thanks!

Don has an appointment with a new specialist today, and we've never been to this particular Doctors' Building. After our appointment over there yesterday to see the eye specialist (by the way, Don's eye is improving), we drove by the new doctor's office. Unfortunately the parking garage is across the street from the actual office building, and there's no cross-over walkway. I thought about the situation off and on all night long, because Don is too weak at this stage to walk any distance at all without sitting down to rest. I finally decided I would call my mom and see if I could borrow a little fishing stool - something small enough I could fold up and carry with us. When I called this morning, she had nothing that would help, but suggested I call a medical equipment rental place here in town and see if they had anything. I had actually gone there a few weeks back and purchased a bathtub seat for Don and found out that the place is owned by a girl that I graduated with. So, I called Jackie this morning and explained my dilemma. She suggested that I stop by and get a transport chair to use for the day. Problem solved! She isn't even charging me for the use of the chair. Isn't God good? I'm so thankful that, even in unpleasant situations, God is still there caring for us.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Get Me a Lawyer!

Don has become so weak that it's impossible for him to walk around with me in Wal-Mart or the grocery store. So, recently, he's begun using one of the motorized carts when we go to the local Wal-Marts. Today, the cart he got was a bit quirky. At first, it would only go in reverse (with the accompanying beep, beep, beep). Then, he'd be running along at a nice little clip when the thing would just stop dead cold. His head would shoot forward as he came to a bone-jarring, screeching halt. I got so tickled, because the stop-and-go of the cart was totally unpredictable. He felt like he'd been to Six Flags by the time we finally made it through the check-out and got the thing parked back in it's little parking space. I think I'm going to have to see me a lawyer. We may need to file a suit against Wal-Mart or the scooter company for whiplash!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What a Mess!

Last night, as my mom was leaving church, someone pointed out to her that one of her tires was low. So, she called and asked if she could stop by and have Don air up her tire. No problem. When she arrived, Don went out back (in the bitter cold), opened his garage, and proceeded to air up her tire. When he was finished, he realized he had no strength at all. He had told her to back the car around to the front garage so he could squirt some kind of sealant in her tire. He was hoping she didn't see as he dropped to his hands and knees and crawled to the house. I heard banging on the door and ran upstairs to see what the problem was. I found Don, totally wiped out, crawling on his hands and knees into the house. I helped him in and had him sit down for a few minutes. Then, he decided he was strong enough to go out and finish his job. But he wasn't. By the time he was done, he was too weak to make it back into the house. Fortunately, one of the young families from Bethel Chapel saw we were having problems and stopped by. Joe helped Don into the house, where he sat in a chair until he had regained some of his strength. That's what life has become for us. But, as usual, we found something to laugh about. Don said the most challenging thing about the whole incident was crawling from the back garage, across the yard, up the steps and onto the back porch and managing to avoid all the dog poop in the yard! He said, one good thing about it, it's much easier to see when you're down so close! What a mess!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ain't Life Grand?

Monday evening, our granddaughters had cheerleading, so we had our younger grandson by himself. Last night, two of the girls had projects to complete at home, so we had the third girl by herself for the evening. Friday night, we'll have all four of the younger grandchildren, and Pa is taking Stephen eagle watching on Saturday (the girls have open gym at cheerleading and won't be able to go). I must tell you young parents who are dealing with the struggles and joys of raising small children, you make the lives of your parents full to the brim. Those hours, evenings and weekends that we get to spend with our grandchildren are priceless. I think that, somehow, by being a good grandparent, I'm vindicating myself for all the mistakes and failures I made as a parent -- or, at least, some of them. Besides all that, when we're tired, we can send them back home and take a nap! And can I get a big "Amen" from all the grandparents out there??

Friday, January 9, 2009

Don't Let Your Right Hand Know What Your Left Hand's Doing

There's a scripture in the Bible that says pretty much the same as my title. It means to not be too open about your business. Some things are better off kept private. We had a different interpretation of that scripture yesterday.

Dondra had surgery on both her left elbow and the base of her index finger on her left hand. Surgery went well, but the residual problem was troublesome for a few hours. They blocked a nerve in her shoulder in order to do the surgeries. Her arm from her shoulder down was completely dead until about 2:30 this morning, when the feeling began returning to her fingers. We had to laugh at some of the consequences of being dead-armed. She heard the dogs licking and licking and scolded them. "Girls! Girls! Whatever it is you're licking - stop it!" I glanced down and said, "Dondra, they're licking your hand." Once she was trying to prop her arm up on the pillow. It was dead weight, and, without her even being aware, the arm fell over and whopped her little 4 1/2 lb. dog across the head. She's casted from her shoulder to her fingers, so putting on eye make-up before we left the house this morning was quite a challenge. (And any of you who know Dondra well know she wouldn't be caught DEAD without her eye make-up.) Putting on undergarments is less than a cinch, and even taking care of her bathroom needs is a job, especially since she's left-handed.

Isn't it funny how we depend upon our different body parts to function properly, and we don't even realize how dependent we are? Just mash a finger, break a leg, or have to patch an eye for a while. You'll see. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made (some more wonderfully than others).

By the way, Dondra is recovering well. She'll be in a cast for a couple weeks before returning to the doctor for an evaluation of her progress.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What Constitutes "Old"?

I passed my 61st birthday in November. Not so many years ago (well, a lifetime for some of you), I honestly thought 61 was old. But I'm re-thinking things. Oh, yeah. I have the beginnings of crows' feet at the corners of my eyes, and my neck looks like it's outlived two or three bodies. But other than that, I'm not ready for the "old" label. I had a praise and worship CD in yesterday, and decided to dance around the house to the music. What a shock! My dancing looked more like a drunk elephant on the loose! I had to stop and laugh at myself. But that's good, don't you think? Laughing will keep me young; cuts down on the frown lines. So, I vow to laugh more. Loving will keep me young. So, I vow to love more recklessly (within reason of course). Spending time with young folks keeps me young (or makes me feel EXCEPTIONALLY old). So, I want to work my way into the lives of some folks younger than I. Old's just a state of mind, right? My annual birthday is just another number (that continues to escalate). Right? ASIDE: I've noticed that I've sure used a lot of parantheticals in this blog! I'm not going to get "old" for a while yet. I've made up my mind! Now if my body will just start cooperating, I've got it made!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Look Forward

This past year has certainly brought some new experiences my way -- and some of them were less than pleasant. As a whole, though, I don't feel I can complain (no one wants to listen anyway). I will confess that I'm praying 2009 is a little kinder to us in some ways. I've learned that good health is a very difficult thing to hold onto, and that it's sorely missed when gone. By the same token, I've learned that, when you love someone, you support them through thick and thin, ups and downs. That's the way I love my hubby, and he loves me that strongly in return. What a blessing!

So, what do I want out of the New Year? I simply must learn to speak less and listen more. I caught myself at different times this holiday season just running off at the mouth. Not necessarily saying bad things, but saying piddly things. I talked to myself more than once during that time and told me to just shut my mouth! My hubby isn't terribly conversational, and I think that affects me sometimes when I get out.

I also want to view everything that happens in my life as being part of God's plan for me and learning the lesson He has for me in it. That includes uncomfortable or even hurtful things. Ouch! That's a hard one for me to keep, because I like to retaliate. Defend myself, you know. I like being in control. I'm honestly working on it this area already, and I've seen some positive results.

Keeping my mind and heart set on positive things is another area where I need lots of work - even at my "advanced" age. Again, I'm working on it. I feel much better when I keep my thoughts under control and don't allow them to completely run me into the ground. God help me!

Looking at these things and knowing my frailty, I know I'm not going to be able to pull it off. But I'm not relying on my own abilities or strengths. My strength is in the Lord, and He's promised to lead me in good paths.