rain. 

Good afternoon, y’all! It’s been a while… I’d start by apologizing for being a slacker about my blog, but if you’ve been reading these last few entries, you know that my life has been a wee bit overwhelming.  Let’s review😃

First and most importantly, my husband DID come home from rehab on February 4th! Just in time for our daughter’s 18th birthday! Haley received wonderful birthday gifts from her family, but the greatest was having her Daddy home to celebrate with us.  We did kind of a low key celebration. Jason and I took Haley and her BFF to the Cheesecake Factory. It’s kind of becoming a tradition since she chose the exact same thing last year. We celebrated her entrance into adulthood, and also celebrated Jason’s Independence Day!  He was in the rehab hospital from 12/23 to 2/4, (due to his stroke) and was in ICU at Duke for a week before that. Each day was filled with 3 different types of therapy. Five days a week. Jason went from almost complete paralysis on his right side to walking out of that hospital just weeks later!  His progress has been a miracle. That same weekend, he was able to enjoy watching the Super Bowl from the comfort of his couch, rather than a drab and dreary hospital!

Each week since then, he’s gained more and more mobility, confidence, and strength. We started going to outpatient therapy 3x per week in February and have recently cut it back to 2x a week. His physical strength is improving. He’s really focused on occupational and speech therapies now. He’s been back to work a couple of days a week, though not at his former position. He’s not ready for emails, conference calls and spreadsheets. But each day he goes, he reminds his brain of duties he’s done in the past.  I tend to think of it as reopening a path that once went a particular direction but got suddenly,closed off when he had the stroke. But he’s trying to find a new path to the same distinction.  It’s wonderful to witness, but it’s not without challenges.

Now that Jason  home, I’d estimate he’s about 95% physically independent. He needs help getting shoes and socks on most days.  Getting showered and dressing himself is an effort for him that takes about an hour from start to finish.  It’s an exhausting process for him.  His right arm, hand, leg and foot are all still swollen, which we are told is normal.  He experiences significant discomfort in the nerves in the shoulder and leg. It is often difficult for him to sleep. His right arm kind of has a mind of its own and kind of floats about at times.  But all in all, he continues to surprise and amaze us with his fantastic recovery.  We continue to work on his communication abilities, which suffer more than the physical abilities.  Jason speaks very clearly…it’s just his brain telling his mouth what to say.  Sometimes it comes out backwards.  Sometimes he needs more time to process what he wants to say.  But all the while, he remains positive about his speech therapy and looks forward to strengthening his verbal and written communication.

Update on my mom-  I requested prayers and again, they were answered.  The recurrence of breast cancer was caught in time and did not spread to her lymph nodes! I feel very blessed to have made the call for prayers and to have them answered.  Mom is well.  THANK YOU to anyone who thought of her and prayed for her!

With these issues and their progression, I still am surprised by all of the people who have been touched by Jason’s story…my mom’s, too.  I am asked each day about one or both of them.  “How can I help?”  “What do you need?” are all questions I receive on an every day basis.

Friends of Jason’s, as well as friends of mine have followed our “story” on Facebook, since that is where I tend to post most of my updates.   All of this support from so many places feels like it’s raining on us…rain makes things grow.  And Jason continues to grow healthier each day.  We are showered each day with prayer, love, and guidance.  It is hard to describe, to be honest.  It’s a comfort.  Kind of like the rain you hear from the comfort of your warm bed on a day when you don’t have to rise early.  More than a drizzle, but less than a storm…the kind of rain that makes it easier for us to drift back to sleep.  That’s how I’ve felt these last few months.  And I am happy for the rain.

But there’s another rain I am also feeling at times.  The kind that makes you dread getting out of bed on a Monday.  Rain on a Monday morning tends to make us rushed to get out of the house. We end up dropping our laptop bag in the driveway en route to the car…or spill our coffee on a newly ironed white blouse in order to avoid getting wet. It’s a hard rain and the windshield wipers can’t seem to swish back and forth fast enough to make things visible. Unfortunately, it’s been raining at my house.  A lot. Haley (my 18 year old) and I have a code for this type of feeling.  We both experience bouts of depression at times. We will ask the other “Is there any sunshine today?”.  It could be sunny outside, but we may not be feeling the sunshine.  That’s where the depression finds us.  Cloudy days.   75% of the time, we both feel pretty good! But there days where the clouds are heavy and we just need to let it rain. And then we hope the next morning is really sunny.

I am kinda known for sugar coating things- or have been known that way in the past.  I’d rather not say something at all if it’s gonna be ugly.  Or if it’s gonna hurt another.  I find a way to deliver bad news but with good news somehow.  But since this has all happened, I find that I have no time to sugar coat and just blurt out what needs to be said.  That’s a surprise to my inner peacekeeper.  I am not going to lie, y’all….Even with the blessings abound, this season in our life is difficult for us.  The constant running here and there to appointments each week can sometimes be overwhelming.  Jason goes to his office a couple of times a week for therapeutic reasons.  I work from home on most days, so my environment changes very little.  When/if he returns to work on a more regular basis, perhaps I too, will get out of the house and return to my office.   There are so many unanswered questions about Jason’s recovery and our future.  Insurance will only pay for so many occupational and speech therapies, and we’re more than halfway through, but we feel he’ll need more of them.  We’ll likely have to pay for them out of pocket.  We’ll find a way.  What if the pain he feels in his right shoulder never goes away?  There are nights it is so painful that he cannot sleep.  And not sleeping makes everything that is already running a muck even more complicated. It is hard for his brain to “Wake” some days.  And on those days, I feel the bad/Monday rain.  I find I pray a lot more.  We didn’t get through this ordeal to not celebrate and thank the Lord for his Mercy and Grace. It seems every “little” thing is not so little to me or unimportant. Personally, my eyesight is terrible…but this life I live lately- is like seeing things with new eyes. As if our lives together have much more color and vibrancy  than before.

Thankfully,  most days, I feel the good rain. Because PEOPLE are good and they seem to know when I need a good dousing of friendship. A couple of weeks ago, our very good friend Chuck arranged a party at Jason’s favorite brewery to celebrate his health and recovery.  There were a couple of hundred people there.  Not all of them were there for the party, but a good number of them were! Even some from Jason’s childhood, which was amazing to see! Chuck arranged for an awesome rockabilly band (The Rusted Rails!)  to play, and the weather was magnificent! I don’t think Jason realized how many lives he’s impacted over the years.  He is a laid-back, very quiet, kinda shy person.  I don’t think he envisioned his circle of friends to be as large as it really is.  To have all of those kind, giving people in one room, to celebrate his “homecoming” was an amazing experience that neither of us will forget.  Whether you were there in spirit, or there in person, THANK YOU for your thoughts and well wishes.

Now I am just rambling, so I probably need to wrap this up.  Last thing- some have asked about how my weight loss journey is going now that I’ve surpassed the first year after weight loss surgery (VSG). I wish I could tell you I’ve progressed more, but I have not.  I find it is hard to care for yourself when someone you love needs a different kind of care- a more valid, more prolific care.  I’ve not given up, but have not been exercising enough and making “pour”  habits.  (See what I did there?!) Now that Jason can enjoy a beer here and there without it messing up his INR checks, I find that I will enjoy a glass of wine with him.  Wine is not out of the question after VSG, but for months I didn’t really indulge that often.  We’re not talking “she has a problem” indulgence, but more so a “maybe you should go to the gym more even though you pass 2 breweries and 2 taverns along the way.” LOL. I am still stuck around 165-170.  My goal was/is 145-150.  I am out of plus-sized clothing and have been for some time now.  The best lifestyle for me is a ketogenic diet, which is very low carb/high fat….but I fall off the wagon too often to say I am following any diet except the see-food diet. And I know it’s partially because of my time constraints and sometimes depression.  But I also know when the time is right for me, I will pick it back up and hit the goal. I mean…if only 20 pounds separates me from my life long goal, it would be silly for me to stop!

There you have it, folks.  After reading all of that, you likely think I am a little loco.  And I don’t mind it because life is loco for me right now.  But I’d take a little crazy over the alternative any day of the week.

Thanks for stopping by to read.  We are incredibly blessed and have never been more certain of how GOOD our GOD IS.

Love Much,

DMG

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I come to the well…

When I think of going to a well, I view a place of peace and healing.  A deep body of water full of spirituality and hope.  I draw strength from pulling up the bucket from the well and cupping its healing waters in my hands and splashing it on my  face, or even taking a drink from the well water to rejuvenate and energize my body and soul.  I also see the well as a place where prayers float, and at times, we have to also cup them in our hands and secure those prayers close to our hearts for mending.

Last month, I came to the well for healing.

I posted on my Facebook page a request for prayers for my husband, who at the time, had a procedure on his heart called an Ablation.  It was to help cure ventricular tachycardia.  And as far as we know, the procedure, which is slightly risky, but also very common, was a success.  Jason’s chances of have VT again have decreased by as much as 80-90%.  That was the good news.  The bad news came in the form of a stroke he had during the surgery and/or in recovery.  Once he woke from the anesthesia, the Duke staff noticed that he couldn’t speak and wasn’t moving the right side of his body.  Within an hour of his ablation procedure being over, he was headed to get a CT scan of his brain, where 2 clots were spotted.  The Neurosciences team performed surgery on my husband and retrieved 2 clots from his brain.  There was a third clot in his left ventricle that is still there, but has decreased with the use of blood thinner Coumadin.  That clot will settle somewhere in his ventricle but *shouldn’t*  pose a threat since it has decreased in size.

I  found myself coming  to the “well”  for prayer and for guidance.  Don’t we all go searching when we need a wish or a prayer?

I closed my eyes, knelt on the ICU floor and prayed the biggest, hardest, most important prayer of my married life.  The next morning, I posted an urgent plea for prayers and so many of my beautiful friends and family answered my plea.  The same people added Jason (and me) to their personal prayer lists and those of their churches. This was happening all over the world! I We immediately felt the power of those prayers!

After a week at Duke (4 of those nights in ICU), Jason was moved to an acute rehab facility at WakeMed.  He was admitted on 12/23. We celebrated Christmas in the hospital.  We celebrated the New Year in the hospital and we were happy to be able to do it.  Any time spent with Jason was time well loved and well spent.

Now, three + weeks living in the rehab hospital, Jason is WOW-ing us with his progress! Jason went from having no movement on the right side of his body a month ago, to today being able to WALK a few steps on a treadmill!  He went from having the ability to say only 5-10 words to now being able to carry on a conversation.  He still has trouble finding the words.  He knows what he WANTS to say, but sometimes he has to search for the word and causes a delay.  It’s called Aphasia. Each day when I see him, it seems he has a new trick to show me.  It is really amazing to witness!

I have no doubt Jason is recovering because of his faith, perseverance, support of his family and friends, God’s love and ALL the prayers! All of this “good” is just overwhelming at times. To date, I have never felt more thankful or blessed.  I came to the well feeling broken.  I still visit the well at times for strength and hope for what lies ahead for my family. When Jason comes home, I’ll be his caregiver until the next chapter in his recovery.  I draw whatever strength I have in me now from that well.  The well is full of the prayers and love sent from close friends and also complete strangers.

Unfortunately, I am coming to the well once more for a different reason, although just as urgent and important.  And I feel guilty for asking for more prayers because I feel I used up my biggest prayer for my husband’s healing.  I know there is no prayer too small or too big to ask of Jesus.  I had a huge prayer last month and I have a big one now.It’s for my sweet Mama.

She came by Monday night. I should have known by the time of evening it was when my she  visited that something was wrong. She is often in her jammies by 7pm so for her to visit after 8pm was odd.  I had just gotten back home from seeing Jason, which is often my new normal schedule.  She needed to tell me something really important and the only way to tell me was to sit me down in person at a time when I could actually SIT down.

With tears in her eyes,  she apologized for having to “burden” me with another issue- and let me know that after 30 something years of remission, her breast cancer had returned.

If that wasn’t enough, she had known for a couple of weeks before she could pin me down long enough to tell me. My sister, Teresa, is also a busy mother, as she often works as a volunteer to support her son’s marching band.  Her weekends are filled with volunteering so that she can help pay for the band dues each year.  Rarely does she have free time, so Mama had to deliver this to my sister on the phone- so there was no chance of a hug in person for them to console one another.

Together, they  had planned to tell me because they figured I wouldn’t flip my shit. (sorry!) But they didn’t get the opportunity because that particular day I was a hot mess consumed with a busy work day, an upcoming snowstorm, trying to visit Jason before evening and get myself home to be with Haley so she would be safe from the storm.  It was not a good day and they didn’t want to add to the lunacy of it.

So at that point, my sister knew and was having to carry this burden without me. All because I was too wrapped up in my own life.  I was unapproachable. Too consumed with my new duties as caregiver and household duties that were once Jason’s, but now are mine.  I could have carved out some time…

I went from elation from visiting my husband Monday and once again witnessing his awesome progression to the sound of my sweet  Mama telling me that a routine mammogram turned into 3 more…and then later 2 sonograms.  She knew something was wrong and had to go through all the tests to confirm.

The guilt I feel for being unavailable for them is hard for me to deal with right now.  My sweet Mama has breast cancer again in her early 70’s. And my younger sister had to endure the pain of knowing without me.  Man, do I feel awful. Selfish. To say I am having a hard time with this is an understatement.  It kind of takes me back to the time Mom had breast cancer the first time when she was in her 40’s. I was a new mother to an infant and consumed with that. My sister was a typical teenager, consumed with crap teenagers do. My Mom and Dad were together, but Dad worked and was not a lot of help to her during the Chemo process.  Mom was in pain and was sick from Chemo.  She had a mastectomy. She couldn’t hold her sweet granddaughter. Her movement was limited.   She pretty much recovered from the hardest thing she had ever been through by herself.

But she will not be alone this time! She has a lumpectomy  scheduled in a couple of weeks. My sister and I plan to be with her for the procedure, and to care for her afterward.  We’ll be with her when she gets the results. Mom has already stated that if the Cancer has spread to her lymph nodes, she will consider radiation, but will not consider Chemo. Chemo in her 40’s was unbearable.  Chemo in her 70’s is just not an option.

So here I am at the well again…begging for more healing.  Please let it not be in the lymph nodes! Please let doctors heal Mom’s body and get that nasty cancer out of her! 

I can’t lose her.  My sister can’t lose her. We lost our dad too soon. I just can’t imagine her not being here to see Haley and Hollyann grow as women.  Or to watch the magnificent young man my nephew, Robbie will become.  The cancer has to go! She’s gotta be here to watch Jason regain his life because she prayed just as hard for him and for me.  She’s kept me going this past month and I need her strength to push me harder!  And she needs my new found strength to share with her during this season of her life. I just need more time to be a better daughter.  I need her so much.  And now, she needs her daughters.

If you’re reading and  don’t mind sending up a prayer for my Mom, I would appreciate it SO MUCH.  Her name is Linda.

If I can reciprocate in prayer for you or your family, please just say the word.  I am happy to do it.  As you might imagine, I am chatting with the Lord on an hourly basis these days. I’ll be glad to add you or your loved one to our chats.  And as many prayers I drew from the well, I will gladly refill for you.  For each of you who sent us prayers, a text, email, cards, letters,  who visited, sent flowers, gift baskets,  everything- THANK YOU for your kindness.  I am so grateful for your generosity!

Below is a link to one of my favorite Casting Crowns songs.  I hope you enjoy.

As always, thank you for reading.  You are a blessing.

XOXOXO,

Dawn

 

The Well- by Casting Crowns

Leave it all behind.

Leave it all behind,

Leave it all behind.

I have what you need,

But you keep on searchin,

I’ve done all the work,

But you keep on workin,

When you’re runnin on empty,

And you can’t find the remedy,

Just come to the well.

You can spend your whole life,

Chasin what’s missing,

But that empty inside,

It just ain’t gonna listen.

When nothing can satisfy,

And the world leaves you high and dry,

Just come to the well

CHORUS:

And all who thirst will thirst no more,

And all who search will find what their souls long for,

The world will try, but it can never fill,

So leave it all behind, and come to the well

So bring me your heart

No matter how broken,

Just come as you are,

When your last prayer is spoken,

Just rest in my arms a while,

You’ll feel the change my child,

When you come to the well

CHORUS:

And all who thirst will thirst no more,

And all who search will find what their souls long for,

The world will try, but it can never fill,

So leave it all behind, and come to the well

Yeah

Leave it all behind

The world will try, but it can never fill

Leave it all behind

And now that you’re full,

Of love beyond measure,

Your joy’s gonna flow,

Like a stream in the desert,

Soon all the world will see, living water is found in me,

Cuz you’ve come to the well

CHORUS:

And all who thirst will thirst no more,

And all who search will find what their souls long for,

The world will try, but it can never fill,

So leave it all behind, and come to the well

Leave it all behind and come to the well

Leave it all behind, leave it all behind, leave it all behind