Friday, January 28, 2011

Only our Daily Bread

Friday, January 28
From Jenny

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know a couple of things about my dad by now. 1. He doesn't want to feel a lot of pain (thus the constant requests for doctors to use "lots of drugs" for his procedures!) 2. He doesn't like to be cold.

So, when the heat went out in my parents house twice this week, Dad was very interested in keeping warm! Luckily, the AC man was able to rework some faulty wiring (on his second... and weekend...visit out to the house), and things seem to be working just fine. Dad's also discovered a few tricks to beat the cold. He was given some hand warmers (often used for camping/hunting/outdoor activities) that you can hold in the palm of your hand or keep in your pockets that remain VERY warm for a long time! He also discovered heated paper gowns.

Yes, someone has invented a little contraption that hooks up to and blows warm air into those paper hospital gowns. During his fistula surgery this past Tuesday, my dad got to try out one of these gowns and remained comfortable (and "well-drugged") for the entirety of the surgery!

The fistula surgery went well - no complications at all! Thank you for your prayers. We are grateful for the uncomplicated, things-going-just-as-expected kind of days. Because this same week, we were met with another unexpected complication in Dad's recovery process.

As you know, his visit to the Mayo Clinic and subsequent surgery there was to clamp off his kidneys (the affected organs). This is why he was put on dialysis. When a person's kidneys no longer work, the person no longer needs to eliminate liquid waste. And that's what dialysis is for.

Well, Dad began.... eliminating liquid waste... unexpectedly this week. It appears that at least one of his kidneys is functioning again. Perhaps the clamp came loose. We don't know. We do know that, after bringing in a sample to his nephrologist, he's definitely producing urine again, and it's definitely still FULL of proteins. This isn't good. It's probably going to take a bit of time to sort out all the reasons and figure out just where we go from here.

One thing I see my parents have learned a lot through this process is to take things "one day at a time". It can get so overwhelming to ponder the "what if's" and travel down the "what now" road.

But God gently reminds us over and over again that tomorrow is His. Not ours. That He provides our daily bread. And it's wise to ask only for that. Jesus gave us that example when He taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:11 "Give us today our daily bread") and centuries before Christ spoke those words, King Solomon understood the wisdom of the concept as well. Proverbs 30:8 says, "Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."

So, Mom & Dad are taking this new development in stride. I would ask for prayers, though, as he's now experiencing some pretty significant discomfort.

May I also... on a personal note... ask you to pray for two other families this week?

First, my father-in-law had hip replacement surgery on Wednesday. He and my mother-in-law are amazing, godly people. My father-in-law, through more than 15 years of the affects of Parkinson's disease never complains... He is truly a joyful man! But he's been in a lot of pain and discomfort for the past few years and we are praying that this surgery and recovery process bring full relief from the aches and pains! Thank you.

I also ask you to lift up the families of the two police officers who were killed in our area this week. It made local and national news, but hit quite close to home in a different way for us. Because my dear friend Stephanie lost her brother this week. Jeff Yaslowitz was the canine officer whose life was senselessly taken on Monday morning. He leaves behind a wife, 3 young children, two sisters, grieving parents, and an entire police department of friends and coworkers. The funeral service for both officers is this morning. And I am asking you to pray that, as people search for comfort and hope in this tragedy, they are pointed to the hope and comfort that we know in our great God! Pray also for Sgt. Tom Baitinger's family. They too have lost a brother, husband, friend, son, etc.

As many of you know, my brother Adam used to be a Law Enforcement Officer until he began his law school studies. This week, I have a fresh appreciation for what my brother did all those years, but especially that we were never the ones on the receiving end of that phone call.

Whew... Life can get overwhelming, can't it? Just another reason God wants us to only focus on the day He's given us. Today, I will focus on praying for my Dad and Dad-in-law to be comforted and relieved of physical pains. Today, I will pray that my friend is comforted in her time of grief. Today I will praise God for friends who faithfully read about and pray over my parents in their journey. Today, I will praise Him for His daily bread (and abundant blessings). And today, I urge you to do the same.

Tomorrow... well, tomorrow can just worry about itself! (Matthew 6:34)

Love,
Jenny

Friday, January 21, 2011

Post-Birthday Wrap Up

(Friday, January 21, 2011) "Post-Birthday Wrap Up"

I really enjoyed my birthday this year. I wasn’t doing well Thursday after dialysis (which was my actual birthday), so we reassembled on Sunday afternoon to celebrate as a family. I was much better then, and was able to enjoy the kids and grandkids. It was a great week of celebration, as I received so many cards, emails, visits and well-wishes from friends wishing me a great day. It was, so THANK YOU!!

As the week started off, I was feeling pretty good. Patra and I were even able to attend church on Sunday! What a great way to start off my week!

On Monday, I began my treatments at a new dialysis center. I am thankful for the nurses and care at the previous center and am really looking forward to beginning my treatments in this new location on a new weekly schedule (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays now).

Also this week, we met with the vascular surgeon who will implant the fistula in my arm on Tuesday, January 25. This is day surgery so I should go in Tuesday morning and be released that afternoon. Both Patra and I will be grateful to have this part of my treatment plan checked off the list. Post-surgery, it will take about 3 months before the fistula can be used to administer my dialysis treatments, so it was important to get this taken care of as soon as possible.

Beyond doctors appointments, I had several good days at the beginning of the week where I really got to just enjoy watching my family's comings and goings. Patra and I got a good laugh this week when the two little girls stopped by for a visit. Avery (Adam & Sharon's little one) went straight for the remote control, pointing it at the television in an attempt to change the station from whatever I must have been watching to one of her favorites, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse". And although Megan (Jenny & David's) enjoys the t.v., too, she went straight for the cookie cabinet when she arrived!

Emily and her family traveled to North Carolina in search of snow this week. Mission accomplished! I am so grateful for the technology that allowed them to share pictures of their sledding, snow-angel-making adventures! I was content to take it all in from the comfortable surroundings of a warm chair and blanket.



You know, as I pondered the many messages from friends this week, I recalled all the encouragement you have provided for our family. And oftentimes, you are giving me that encouragement in the midst of some pretty tall weeds of your own. Yet, many friends have commented (about their journey) that they know it isn’t/ wasn’t as rough as "what you are going through.” Yes, it it is. Don’t minimize your “walk.” Your “tall weeds” are just as difficult for you as mine are for me. The principles and Biblical promises apply to all of us. And it is a privilege to lift up prayers on your behalf just as you have so faithfully prayed for me.

Although the "weeds" of my upcoming surgery next Tuesday don't seem as tall as, let's say, the ones in Minnesota (when we did the "rare and radical procedure"), I can assure you that I will be going over the same verses that I was recalling during those days. This surgeon will get just as much prayer from me, and I will tell the doctors to please have plenty of anesthesia available (I’m still in favor of a medical coma).

I want God presence to wrap around me. I want that warm blanket just as much in Clearwater as I did in Rochester. Whatever “tall weeds" you are walking through, you should be praying for God’s protection, guidance, peace, comfort. You will need every bit of God’s protection and love and strength that I need. I am praying for you.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, January 14, 2011

60 Years Old

(Friday, January 14, 2011) “60 years old”

I made it! As you might imagine, celebrating a birthday means a lot! I am 60 years old and don’t look a day older than 80. Andrew (5) and Austin (4) will soon be asking their parents why Grandma married such an “old” man.

Thank you for the cards and emails expressing best wishes. Patra and I are overwhelmed by the expressions of love of our friends. Many days we know we are upheld by the prayers offered on our behalf.

I made it to church and Bible study this past Sunday where a wonderful sermon and Bible study reminded me again that God is in control.

I am so thankful to Jenny for “blogging” last week. Lately the “tall weeds” have also gotten “thick” and I have not been physically or mentally able to communicate as I would like. I met with a doctor at Moffitt this week and she reminded me what we had been through in 2010 – stem cell transplant, chemo-therapy, surgery at the Mayo Clinic, the beginning of dialysis. This is one “nasty little disease.”
I was encouraged because she explained that for anybody those are the type of “tall weeds” that you need help to get through.

I get my help from my faith, my family, and my friends. I am so grateful that when I am unable, I can call on Jenny and Emily to help me with the blog.

Patra and I know that there are no promises for 2011 but we are hopeful that there are fewer “procedures” and doctor visits. Unfortunately 2011 begins with another “procedure” where the doctor will insert a “fistula” into my arm for dialysis. They did the ultrasound this week of my arms which enables the doctor to determine which arm to use. The fistula takes several months to become functional. Then the catheter in my chest can be removed. There is less risk of infection with the fistula.

We will keep you posted when that surgery is finally scheduled.

For now we are pressing on through the tall weeds and grateful for the good days God has given me this week. I'm grateful I can write to you all this week and once again so grateful that you're there, spurring me on, praying for me. Thank you!

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, January 7, 2011

Singular Focus

Friday, January 7, 2010

"Singular Focus"
(from Jenny)

As my dad continues another week of dialysis and doctor visits, it's become increasingly obvious to us all that it's just too much for him to be writing his own blog posts at this time. Don't get me wrong, the blog isn't going anywhere... you're probably just going to hear more from us "kids" for this part of the journey.

Right now, we're just going to let him focus solely on getting better.

My dad had another hard week, but it had it's bright moments, too. His in-home physical therapy appointments ended on Thursday, as he hasn't made significant progress in gaining physical strength from working with the PT. But Thursday was a great physical therapy day - he was able to complete all his exercises and even added a few new ones.

This week, he passed out after one of his dialysis treatments again. This has happened several times, and we're grateful that he hasn't injured himself falling during one of these episodes. But it's very hard on his body (and on my mom) when this happens, so we're continuing to pray that his body adjusts to the dialysis and that the nurses and doctors quickly learn how to anticipate his unique needs and compensate with their treatments.

The appointments are being set up for that fistula surgery I mentioned in last week's post. This will be a more convenient and safer way to administer his dialysis. The next appointment (an ulstrasound to map out his veins) is scheduled for Monday.

In addition to doctors' appointments, we're looking forward to Dad's 60th birthday this coming Thursday! A great milestone; a great reason for a party.

Another reason to celebrate came along this week with the news that my sister is expecting a baby BOY at the end of May! For those of you keeping track, that will be 2 little boys this Spring (Adam and Sharon are expecting Baby Boy Bugg in early April). Austin is thrilled to assume the role of Big Brother for this little guy, and I know he will take his job seriously. He's already shared with Emily & James several topics he's going to be in charge of teaching the new baby (mostly how to play games on the Wii, I think). Andrew is thrilled that the boys will once again outnumber the girls!

We are fondly remembering the life (and mourning the loss) of my mom's aunt this week. My grandmother (my mom's mom) passed away right around this time 2 years ago, last year one of my grandmother's sister's passed away, and then this news a few days ago. Our prayers will be with all who gather in South Carolina this week
to comfort Aunt Rena's family.

This weekend, I am going to be at a women's retreat (cue Hallelujah chorus). I love this sort of thing. The theme of our weekend is based on a couple of verses... Hebrews 12, verses 1-2:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Our prayer request this week would be that my Dad continues to run this race (he & my mom are certainly in the perseverance stage) and to have a singular focus on Jesus.

Let that be my prayer, too!

Love,
Jenny
 

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