Friday, February 27, 2009

There's Nothing Wrong with "Nothing Wrong"

I haven't posted a blog lately, because life has been going pretty well in the rutted norm. Then I got to thinking, "What's wrong with that?" We've had a lot of trauma and unsettling things happen in the last year with Don and in the last few weeks with Mom. We're learning ways to deal with Don's situation, and Mom is doing much better than you would expect her to be doing following a serious heart attack at nearly 83 years of age. So, tonight I'm posting because I've decided there's nothing wrong with "nothing wrong." In fact, that's a blessing! We're not having to run to the hospital every day to check on someone. Don and I are actually sleeping in our own bed - TOGETHER. Mom is home, sleeping in her own bed and loving it. Those are good things.

Besides that, we went this evening to visit our brand new little great-nephew, Seth Marshall. What an absolute doll he is. Is there anything that brings more joy than a new baby?

So, I'm posting because nothing's wrong. All's well. Don's strength slipped a little bit this week, but nothing overwhelming. We continue to look at our lot in life and be thankful. We have each other; we have wonderful family and friends; we have a faithful God.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Live in Mercy

Don and I were watching Jentzen Franklin last evening on TV, and his sermon stirred me greatly. He was speaking about "Living in Mercy." He told an illustration about how, when the Bible was translated into Latin, there was an error made. The portion of scripture that talks about the Glory of the Lord being on Moses so that the people couldn't look upon his face somehow came out saying that Moses had horns. Consequently, since that's the interpretation Michaelangelo was using, every time he painted Moses, he painted him or sculpted him with a funny hairdo - horns on his head. Moses hadn't changed any, but the interpretation of him had.

God will bring people into our lives that we may strongly disagree with. We may feel that they are wrong in their intrepretation of scripture or are living their lives in error. We aren't interested in the background or the "why" of what they're doing. We've already painted horns on their head. It's important that we live in mercy. Learn to love those with whom we're in disagreement. There's a lesson to be learned in every life situation, and every person in our life has something to "grow" us if we'll take the time and patience to find it.

All I can say is, "Lord, help me." It's the merciful who will obtain mercy. If I want to receive it, I certainly better be extending it! Can I get a witness?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Mom decided after her outing with Elissa today that she did well enough to move back home. This is the second day in a row that her blood pressure has done very well, and she's gaining strength daily. I think she may be more "ready" than I am. I'm going to worry about her a bit, at least for the first few days. I'll be checking on her several times a day, though, and I've put our number in her speed dial on her cell phone (which, thanks to Bill, she's very much enjoyed this past few days). Can you believe it? A near-83-year-old who had a severe heart attack and was put on life support is back living independently less than two weeks later! A MIRACLE - there's just no other word for it!

Twist and Shout

Life has brought some unexpected twists and turns to our lives of late, and some of them were catastrophic. Given where I've come from emotionally, I was bracing myself to make an attempt to deal with everything in a calm, sane manner. The first night of Mom's severe heart attack was a bomb for me. Seeing her actually have the attack was the most devastating thing I've ever witnessed. Although Don had a heart attack, his didn't exhibit the bodily violence hers did. After that initial shock, though, I've felt the arms of the Holy Spirit wrap around me and pick me up, carrying me above the circumstances. Miraculously, Mom's been home with us since Tuesday. She continues to improve on a daily basis. Good thing, because Don has been a bit weaker the last couple days. I took Mom to her own house for a little while yesterday while I went to the grocery store, and she did fine. She's going to spend the day there today, having lunch with one of the granddaughters. Her blood pressure, which had habitally been going lower and lower throughout the day, actually did the opposite yesterday - it went up!

Do you remember the "Twist and Shout" era? The couples would twist, jump and shake, smiling the whole time. It looked painful and wearying, but they were having great fun. That's the way it's been the last few months around our house. We've had lots of things thrown at uis, and it seems that we're having to twist, jump and shake our way through, but the victory shout is still in our hearts! We're winners. God is smiling upon us as he brings Mom back to her old self and showers His grace and mercy on me and Don.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Great Day

Mom sat up for five hours today and did just fine with it. When we got ready to put her back in bed, they had to get a little stool for her to step onto in order to get on the bed (she's such a short little thing). She was able to step onto the stool, turn herself around and sit down on the side of the bed. A great accomplishment. They hope to move her into a room this evening. She's been in Room #13 in ICU, and they're moving her into Room #911. Sure glad we aren't superstitious!

Friday, February 6, 2009

As the World Turns . . .

We left the hospital a little early tonight to come home and rest (except that I'm doing laundry instead). Mom continues to show improvement. She's eating and tolerating it well. Her blood pressure was staying up a little better this afternoon. They're trying to get an IV in her arm so they can disconnect the central line, but they haven't been able to get an IV in yet. Mom was hating all the painful attempts. They won't let her out of bed until a physical therapist is there, and the weekend isn't a good time to get a physical therapist to come in (so we're told). So, she's stuck in bed in ICU, possible until Monday. Even so, she is improving, and we're thankful.

As you can imagine, it hasn't been the easiest of weeks for Don. He tried to walk with the use of his cane the first day, and he almost didn't make it. So, every day since then we've gotten a wheelchair as soon as we walk into the hospital and use it for the day. That's been a tremendous help. He's used to taking care of me, so he simply can't stand the thought of my going to the hospital alone. It's sweet to have a man that cares so much about me!

Keep praying! We're experiencing the results.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress

My mom is a pilgrim on an earthly journey - and WOW is she ever making progress!

I took her teeth fixin's over to her this morning, and that alone made her feel better! Also took a brush and comb to make her hair a bit more presentable (although Carolyn still told her this evening she had "pillow head"). She ate two meals today and didn't experience any discomfort. They're hoping to start some physical therapy tomorrow, so she should be getting up in a chair for the first time. Her blood pressure seems to drop easily, but we're thinking that will improve once she's able to get up a bit. They talk like they'll keep her in ICU for at least two or three more days, but she's doing well.

Thanks, again, for all your thoughts and prayers. Someone said that her quick improvement is nothing short of a miracle, especially considering her age. My answer to that is: (1) You don't know my mom, and (2) you don't know my God!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Today was a very positive day for Mom. When we went in this morning, she had learned how to deal with her vent much better and wasn't fighting it as much. By late afternoon, they had removed both the heart pump (through the sheath in the groin where they had done the angioplasty) and her vent. She's hoarse, but croaking 90 miles a minute! She said she has a lot of catching up to do! They were going to come in at 9 and sit her up (in the bed, we think), but they hadn't done that yet when we left at 9 p.m. The change is unbelievable, though. I'm expecting them to move her into a regular room tomorrow, if she does well through the night, and possibly home by the weekend. The doctor hasn't said that, but it wouldn't surprise me at all. Isn't God good? I'll try to give you updates as they occur, but today was certainly a mile-marker. Her wonderful sense of humor has returned in full force. She's keeping us all entertained!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Random Thoughts on Depression

My personal depression was most likely chemically induced (hormones). I had tended toward depression in my younger days, but didn't really recognize it as such. Just thought I might be moody and didn't always feel that I "fit". It became much more, though. My thoughts:

1. Not all depression is of a spiritual nature. Some is situational (death, trauma, poor health, loneliness, etc.), and some is caused by a chemical or hormonal imbalance. Various spiritual people in the Bible suffered from depression, so you're not "sinning" because you're depressed!

2. It isn't wrong to get medical help for depression. We've been taught so strongly against medical intervention for mental problems in Christians that we're ashamed to admit there's a problem at all. Yet, we don't struggle with that dilemma if we have diabetes or cancer. If you've tried vitamins, herbs, etc. and there's little or no improvement, you may want to seek medical help. I , personally, had to go on Lexapro for a couple years, but no longer have to take it. It didn't completely get rid of the depression, but it made the lows not quite so low. Unfortunately, I felt it made the highs not quite so high, as well.

3. Find the trigger. Many times, bouts of depression are cyclic or triggered. It can be as simple as a person's being put in an uncomfortable situation, or even the anniversary of a traumatic event. I still find the holidays difficult to cope with. I'm not especially comfortable in crowds - and that includes family gatherings. While I'm much better now, it was nearly impossible for me to deal with the "crowds" when I was ill. Try to determine if your lowest times are being triggered by a specific situation you're being put in (school, Sunday School class, family gatherings, a particular friendship).

4. Your thought life is important. While the "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" becomes irrelevant in extreme depression (it's impossible to think that pro-active when you're looking up to see the bottom), I found it helpful to listen to Hosanna or Integrity praise and worship music. I prefer silence, but, when I didn't have something going in the background, my thoughts would automatically wander to negative or non-affirming things. I would find myself rehearsing injustices over and over again. I would discourage music with high tempo or strong rhythm. Those things minister to the physical but not the mental. Music in major keys (as opposed to minors) with even tempo and Biblical lyrics is best. If you're not into praise and worship, at least listen to something soft and soothing.

5. Find some key scriptures to memorize about your specific situation. Tape them to the mirror in your bathroom, write them on index cards and carry them with you. I would quote (recite?) "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind" over and over and over again. That may not be the verse that speaks to your loved one, but there's bound to be one special verse for him/her.

6. Recovery takes time. Depression doesn't just happen overnight, and recovery doesn't come that quickly either. If it's necessary to get on medication, it will STILL take time and effort on your part to completely overcome this. You may not be suffering from extreme depression, but if you don't find the trigger and learn to deal with it at its beginning, I can tell you from personal experience that it worsens.

7. Seek out friends and family who understand what you're going through and are willing to love you through it. Some people aren't comfortable being around a person who's depressed, and, while that stinks, you have to learn that's not YOUR problem. Avoid people who "preach" to you. My personal feeling is that no one who hasn't suffered from depression personally should actively counsel a person who's suffering from the problem. Unless you're exceptionally insightful and compassionate, you can speak more harm and discouragement than good. Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen.

I know this isn't an all-inclusive list, but, for those of you who have expressed interest, maybe it will give you a few guidelines.