The end of 2018 was spent going through the motions of Christmas and New Year’s.  John was on a downward spiral and there was nothing I could do to stop it! My beloved had lost a total of 60 pounds at this point and he looked like a Holocaust survivor. 🙁  He weighed 187 when this journey began. Oh how helpless I felt …my heart was breaking!! I was watching my precious husband dying before my very eyes! Lord, please, I beg You to work a miracle because this is what it would take. Diarrhea was frequent and Crohn’s was causing John to bleed more and more.  Each time we were in the hospital, they could not determine the origin of the bleeding but attributed it to his intestines. He was starting to get weaker and would probably need yet another blood transfusion in the not too distant future.

My worst fears came true on January 7th, just eight short months ago! I called John to dinner and I heard him get up out of his chair and walk toward the kitchen.  I was setting the table and as I turned around, I saw him falling forward in the hallway, half way into the kitchen! It was like in slow motion: he reached to grab the refrigerator to regain his balance but fell flat on the kitchen floor, face first. He cut his forehead a bit and was bleeding.  I tried to pick him up but he was dead weight! He was laying in the center of the hallway and I could not roll his body one way or the other. “Oh Lord, please help me,” I begged in prayer!  Both my sons live about 30-45 minutes away and I could not imagine John laying there for that long.  I called Tripp, our “son from another mother,” to come help me get John off the floor. Meanwhile, I cleaned and bandaged his forehead, praying all this time that Tripp and I could convince him to go to the emergency room. Tripp arrived less than 10 minutes later and was able to help John get back up on his feet.  How I thank the Lord for this dear friend who came to assist us in our hour of need!

God’s Word says in Psalm 18:1-2 that He is our rock, our fortress, and our strength! I trusted in the Lord to provide help for me and He surely did! Tripp filled in where my sons could not.  Being a firefighter and trained to handle medical emergencies, he felt John’s blood sugar might be off. The count was in the mid 300’s, according to our glucometer!! John’s speech was also slightly slurred and he insisted it was due to his diabetes, but we suspected differently.

After much convincing, we were finally able to get John to the emergency room.  Once there, it was like being on autopilot. We had done this so many times! Tests were ordered and John’s sugar was only slightly elevated. I went home to get his glucometer so we could compare it with the hospital’s at the next blood check. It turns out that our glucometer needed to be replaced. Thank God this “error” brought John to the ER.  We could have lost him that night. Tests revealed an elevated white cell count and the doctor wanted to find out why so he ordered more testing to be done. Since there weren’t any beds available in the Progressive Care Unit, John was placed in the Intensive Care Unit.

Once again, God was working in the background for John’s benefit!  He would end up being exactly where the Lord wanted him to be!  

About an hour after he arrived in ICU, the Hospitalist noticed swelling in John’s right leg and ordered a doppler ultrasound to be done. This is when they discovered a clot!!  Had he been in the Progressive Care Unit, they may not have been “looking” for this at all. Once again, the Lord put John exactly where he needed to be in order to fulfill His plan! Praise be to God!

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Although this hospital was equipped to deal with clots and strokes, they were not equipped to deal with excessive bleeding caused by Crohn’s Disease. Due to this complication, there was a possibility that the clot could travel to his lungs!  He was given fluids and blood through IV’s and the decision was made to Medevac John to the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where his specialist was.  It is hard to put into words how I felt at that very moment.  As a wife and caregiver, it was such a difficult and fearful time.  The uncertainty of what was happening was so stressful. Your loved one is suffering and in danger……you feel absolutely powerless.  My mind was racing…..is John going to be alright?  Will this clot find its way up to his lungs before he gets to UVA?  Oh Lord, I prayed, please protect my dear husband…..give us both the strength and grace needed to persevere in this ongoing and unpredictable trial. I was told that the stress (emotional and mental) carried by a caregiver will surface in some way at some point in time if the caregiver doesn’t take take of herself/himself. This was something I was going to have to concentrate on because I truly felt like I could not go on anymore.

As soon as John arrived at UVA, more tests were ordered to determine if he might have experienced a stroke and, thanks be to God, test results came back negative.  However, his leg and part of his face were still swollen.  His specialist was also very concerned regarding his massive weight loss.  So much had to be done in order for John to be healthy enough to undergo and survive the surgery.  This day would mark the beginning of a very long stay at UVA.

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