I can hardly believe that August is upon us and our lives are still being driven by appointments! Surely there will be an end to these at some point, right? I suppose this is normal for Crohn’s patients, I really don’t know. I’ve often wondered if the symptoms will reappear in some other part of John’s body.  We were told that it can come back in the throat, esophagus, stomach or small intestine. I’ve prayed and prayed asking the Lord to keep this horrible illness at bay. I don’t want to worry or fret – I want to trust in the Lord and leave all these matters in His capable hands. That is what He wants us to do, isn’t it? Pro 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Where are you in your journey, caregiver? Are you exhausted – have you reached the end of your rope? Remember the One who loves you and cares for each of your needs. Yes, the Lord cares for your patient, but He cares for you as well. If you don’t have a relationship with the Lord, please look on my blog under the Salvation tab and read what the Scriptures have to say.

The next appointment on our calendar was to have a Doppler ultrasound done on John’s leg to see how the clot was doing. A regular ultrasound cannot see the blood flow but the Doppler can. So a Doppler was done on August 1st.  It would be nearly three weeks before we would get those results. So on August 20th, we met with him and he explained how the clot appeared in the Doppler. I learned that a clot does not dissipate from the outside in but from the inside out. The only part of the clot that remained was a little bit on the top and bottom.  This was good news. The hematologist said that John could never be on blood thinners again because of all the radiation he had during and since his battle with colon cancer in 2008. The radiation caused damage to the blood vessels on one side of his bladder and this is where the bleeding was coming from.

Our next step would be to have the IVC filter removed from his groin. Our UVA surgeon authorized us to have it removed at a local hospital so we made plans to do so on September 9th. That procedure did not go as planned, unfortunately. As usual, my husband’s body always seems to have a mind of its own. The filter was lodged sideways and could not be removed as that hospital did not provide the tools necessary for a job as intricate as this. John would have to go back to UVA to have the procedure done. Of course we were disappointed to say the least. That meant yet another appointment and more waiting.

Reader, you are now caught up to the current day of John’s journey, and mine as well. We have an appointment scheduled for November 5th to consult with the surgeon who will perform the filter removal on the following day. They will do yet another Doppler to make sure they have the latest information and prayerfully that procedure will be a success this time. Psalm 143:8 is yet another verse that helps me to trust in the Lord because there’s not a single thing that I can do to help this procedure along. 

Whatever happens is God’s perfect plan. God does want for us to suffer nor does He want us to worry about what happens next, amen? What the Lord wants is to trust Him in all things. My heart wants comfort and peace despite the circumstances before my eyes. This trial has drawn me to His side and, like a child, I look up to my Heavenly Father with trust in my heart. I know that this illness is a small thing to the Creator of all things. My God knows the names of every star in the universe and He cares for the birds – surely John and I are of more importance to Him! Matt 6:26  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 

Where are you right now, caregiver? Where’s your heart? Is it fearing what’s in store for the future? Are you doubting God’s abilities? Not an ounce of worrying will prevent what is to come. It takes great energy to worry and the results can be damaging to your mind and body. You will make yourself physically sick as well as become resentful toward your patient. None of this is worth it. It is much easier to trust in the Lord and let Him guide you through this. 

One of my favorite hymns is “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”! Please take a moment to read it – maybe even listen to it on YouTube. Let the words minister to your heart <3

1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

2. Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Although life was moving at 60 mph and my head was spinning, at least we were no longer dealing with Crohn’s symptoms, strokes, or any other illness for that matter.  Isn’t the Lord wonderful???!!! I praised Him and His goodness in our lives. I had pleaded and begged Him to give some reprieve and that reprieve had come.  To God be the glory, great things He hath done!

As of June 2nd, John was steadily gaining weight and it was an absolute blessing to see “meat” on his bones again! At this point in time, he was up to 145 lbs! If you recall, he weighed 124 just six weeks ago! There was also strength in his arms and he was again able to open that jar of pickles for me 🙂 Not only that but his skin was also changing and had that healthy appearance. It was smooth and supple where before it was rough and dry due to the lack of nutrients. Everything in our bodies work together. When one’s nutrients are expelled as quickly as Crohn’s Disease causes, the effects are revealed in the skin. How thankful I was and I felt so blessed of God to witness this. John had suffered so much the past 13 months and now he was feeling well. I thanked the Lord daily for His mercy in our lives. He most certainly provided us with His perfect gifts! Yes, for me as well! The caregiver suffers inwardly when he/she sees his loved one hurting. As John’s wife and helpmeet, my daily goal was to do all I could to make him comfortable and help his health to improve. When he was in the thick of the illness,” it was frustrating to work so hard but not achieve my goal. The Lord provided grace and comfort, especially when I needed it the most. Like the Apostle Paul, I relied on God’s daily doses of grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. I also knew that there was someone out there that could use encouragement in the same way I did. I pray that these devotionals have blessed someone out there in the blogging world! I want to be able to share with you what the Lord has done for me throughout this experience – the ups and downs – the tears and joy – praising Him for good and bad! 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

We were now going through a myriad of follow up doctors’ appointments since John got out of rehab. Our Primary Care Provider did not want to put John back on blood thinners because they caused so many problems with excessive bleeding. He decided to wait for the hematologist to make that final decision despite the two previous strokes. That would be another appointment in the not too distant future. John was so tired of these appointments and would have gladly abandoned them. But I was adamant that he go so that we could finally put his health issues behind us. How would we know if his body was actually functioning as it should if we didn’t follow up with his doctors? It was a must to keep each appointment.

July 4th was coming upon us and we were actually making plans to get together with our youngest son, Adam and his family! Can you believe that? The last get together was Christmas and John was not feeling well so he did not enjoy the festivities at all.  Our lives had been on hold for so long and it was refreshing to be able to plan an event 🙂 It was to be an absolutely memorable July 4th indeed! John was feeling well and was weighing 155! The weight was coming back on quite quickly now that he was healthy. His body was responding the way it should. To top off the celebration, Adam and Bethany announced that they were expecting their third child! Oh what a joyful day! It was as if the Lord had reached down and hugged us all! I love this verse in Zephaniah chapter 1. The Lord joys over us with singing! When His children are blessed, He sings!! What a wonderful God we serve!

Hallelujah and Glory to God!!! It is May 25th and my beloved has come home from rehab! Can you imagine that it was just 42 days ago that he was on his deathbed?!!!! This journey began a little over a year ago – I can hardly believe that we have spent a year on this roller coaster ride! \o/ Praise the Lord!! God has been faithful throughout. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: “I can’t imagine how caregivers make it without the Lord in their lives!”

I am going to pause from my usual status reports on John’s progress today. Instead, I would like to reach out to the caregivers who have been following this blog. I have learned to praise the Lord through the storms, but I must admit it has not always been easy! I’ve learned to praise Him through the day-to-day drudgery but that has not been easy either. I didn’t have difficulty praising the Lord through the blessings because that’s the easiest part of being a Christian and it comes naturally, doesn’t it? But what truly brings glory to our Heavenly Father? I believe God receives glory when His children trust Him and lean on Him during the storms! Their faith is powerful and they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Father loves them and is with them. Although this trial was not easy and I knew it wasn’t going to be, I knew that the Lord was at work in both John’s life and mine. I prayed that He would use me to be a testimony to my family and to those around me. I truly wanted to “come forth as gold” so others would see Christ through it all.

Did I learn anything during the past year? Indeed I did!  I learned that whatever came our way, the Lord gave His permission for it! How can God give the go ahead for John to be so sick and near death? How can a Good God do that? I know that many of you are asking that question.  In fact, my chiropractor asked me this very same thing in so many words. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to open up to him and tell him that this whole ordeal allowed us an opportunity to see God’s Goodness through the small things and His might once He was to heal John. The healing had not come yet but my faith told me that God could do anything. 

After all, we had not lost everything as Job of Scriptures did. Let’s look at Job for a moment. The Bible says in Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. Job walked in the ways of the Lord and God knew that Job would not lose faith if he were to be tested.  Let’s continue to read the account below:

Job 1:7  And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 

Job 1:8  And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 

Job 1:9  Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 

Job 1:10  Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 

Job 1:11  But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 

Job 1:12  And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. 

Satan knew that God had prospered Job in all areas of his life. He also knew that God had set His hedge of protection around Job because of Job’s faithfulness. Knowing that his faith was strong, God allowed Satan to “touch” a few areas in Job’s life.  Satan touched his belongings (his cattle and camels), his servants,and then his children. But Job was faithful and he did not forsake the Lord. As you continue to read in the second chapter of Job, Satan told God that if God allowed him to attack Job’s body, Job would lose faith. God allowed this and Job’s body was afflicted with boils.  Can you imagine? Job must have had such pain but yet he was faithful. Unfortunately, his wife was not a help to him at all.  

I found it ironic that Job’s wife, his closest companion and helpmeet, would try to pull him away from his faith. I did not want to be that kind of wife.  I wanted to encourage John to turn to his faith! I love Job’s response to her!

Job 2:9  Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 

Job 2:10  But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. 

As if that weren’t enough, then came Job’s “friends.” They were there to judge Job instead of encourage him. The last thing a sick person needs is to hear negative and  discouraging words from those who are closest to him. So, Kate, what’s the point of this account? The point is this: what kind of a caregiver are you? Are you overwhelmed? Do you feel cheated of your life? Do you resent the task that the Lord has given to you? Like Job’s wife, do you say in your heart, “Curse God and die?”  Job wasn’t the only one who suffered at the loss of his children and everything of value. His wife was also affected. I believe she wanted Job to put an end to this madness so prosperity would once again return to them. In my opinion, Mrs. Job had selfish reasons behind her statement to her husband.

Instead, maybe you are like Job’s friends …you tell your patient(s) all the things they have done wrong and that they are ill because they have brought judgment upon themselves?

Rather than being like these two examples, why not be like Job? We’ve all heard of the “patience of Job” so why not pattern yourself after him and have patience with the sick one God has given you charge over? Jas 5:11  Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.  Allow the Lord to give you the strength to pull through! You’re not the one who is sick and going through the pain and suffering. However, you are the one who can help make that pain and suffering tolerable by being kind and compassionate. They are going through enough as it is – they surely don’t need a crabby and uncaring caregiver watching over them, amen? When John was on steroids, he was an entirely different person. He was mean and angry all the time. For those who know him, this is not him at all, and I understood this. However, it didn’t make the abuse any easier for me to take. It was so hard to be sweet to a man that was lashing out with cruel remarks. But this is where the grace of God works best! The Lord takes impossible situations and makes them bearable! His grace is most certainly sufficient!

Let me share this with you: God uses the same situation to speak to more than one heart -He’s economical that way 🙂 God worked through many hearts by using John’s illness.  He worked in mine – I learned how fragile life is. I learned that my days with John are numbered and I should treasure each moment. My sons saw the Hand of God at work in their father’s body and how God answered our prayers. Our sons and friends also saw the mighty hand of God and how our faith was strong in the God who created all things. I prayed with John’s doctors and nurses and they, too, saw a true miracle happening in this modern-day world. They saw that God was still alive and at work today!

Friend, the Lord also stands with you through His Holy Spirit as you are going through the trials of life. The Holy Spirit is right there and you can turn to Him with all your cares – He knows exactly what you need, when you need it. How blessed we are to have Him with us 24/7! The Old Testament saints experienced Him only at certain times but He is there always for us. (Mat_28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.)

The Son of God waits to be your Shepherd and Comforter, my friend. He waits to guide you – He waits to lead you in the path that will be for your good through the entire storm. When we try to do it our own way, there is no peace and we can’t expect the outcome to be perfect. We have to be willing to listen and respond with action! You can hear God’s word all day long but if you don’t take what you hear and apply it to your life, you will not benefit from it. How can you expect to pull a beautiful cake out of the oven if you didn’t take the time to put all the ingredients together? It’s a simple analogy but the end result is the same: something beautiful! 🙂 Take what you’ve read here today and apply it to your ministry as a caregiver. Christ told us to love one another. Treat your patient as though he or she is Jesus Christ Himself. On one of my long rides home from Charlottesville, I had the blessing to spend time on the phone with my dear friend, Vicky. I began to share with her about my time with the Lord that morning. I was so weary and I was telling the Lord about it. I heard His still small voice asking me, “Kate, if you were My caregiver, would you feel this way? Would you treat Me differently than you are treating John?” Of course I would! I would not resent caring for You, Lord! Ah, there it was … the Lord taught me that I should treat the love of my life as if he were Jesus Himself. The Lord had spoken to my heart that morning and He actually changed the way I felt! What a blessing it was to be rid of that weary burden! It gave me purpose and “Sonlight filled my being” and I once again was encouraged in the Lord.

Reader, I hope this has helped you in some way! If it has, please leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you as well as pray for you.

As John is doing his best to get himself healthy and accomplishing what is expected of him through Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, I’m doing my best to prepare my home for his return. According to my research, “The staphylococcus aureus bacteria that cause MRSA infections can survive for days to weeks on surfaces. MRSA bacteria can live on surfaces for longer than some other bacteria and viruses because they survive better without moisture. Generally, MRSA bacteria survive for longer on hard surfaces than on soft surfaces.” All the time that John was at home, we were not aware he had MRSA! Can you imagine all the things he touched??!! Every surface that he came in contact with had to be wiped down and disinfected. His bedding, clothing, and any fabric was washed in extremely hot water. When possible, bleach was added and dried on the hottest dryer setting. The nurses at the hospital gave me so much helpful information and I applied all their advice to this task!  Thank You, Lord, for placing these precious angels of mercy in my path! 

They advised taking Clorox spray foam cleaner and spraying it on the mattress itself and spread it all over with a cloth.  This stuff is the best and gets the job done! The bleach would kill and disinfect the mattress and would dry in a couple of days. This worked beautifully!  What a precious find that was indeed! They recommended Clorox wipes which also kill MRSA. I wiped down every door knob, light switch, counter tops, etc. with those! I also bleached the bathroom floors, toilets, vanities, and fixtures. I had so much to do and spent my waking moments taking care of this arduous task so that my home would be ready for my precious husband! Remember, I was also continuing to work full time so each minute was accounted for!

On one of my visits, I believe this was May 3rd at this point, I was informed that John had gained four pounds since his arrival!  He was eating in the dining room with the other residents and finally having some fellowship with people other than his regular visitors and caregivers. If you recall on my devotional back in February when John was at Lake Manassas Rehab for the first time, I wrote about this but it is worth repeating. These small details are all part of your loved one’s healing process. If the mind and spirit do not heal, the body has difficulty healing. All these aspects are taken into consideration here. Their dining room setting is a wonderful idea which encourages a family-type dining experience with other residents. Family members are also welcomed to come eat with the resident to make it feel more like home. This was definitely a blessing!  Man is not meant to be alone and my husband is no different. John got to know a few men who ate at his table and the Lord used me to encourage a dear lady’s heart who was weary of all the caregiving. She was actually living at the rehab center in her husband’s room. She would sleep on a cot beside his bed and would be there to care for his needs in the night because he didn’t want to ask the nurses to help. She only got one day a week off when her daughter would come to stay with her Dad. That day off was not spent resting but getting things taken care of at home. I felt so badly for this dear lady. 

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As I was getting to know her, I reached out  and hugged her. She broke down crying in my arms. Caregivers need encouraging words, a warm heart, a caring ear to listen to his/her problems. Everything revolves around the patient but the caregiver rarely gets the emotional support that is needed. I thank God for this opportunity to minister to caregivers! They may be forgotten but we must remember that their needs are just as important as the patient! Who will care for them? Spiritually, the Lord meets our needs.  However, sometimes we just need “Jesus with skin on” to hold us and love us. If you’re reading this and you’re not a caregiver, won’t you consider being “Jesus with skin on” to someone who is a caregiver?

Caring for your loved one is vital, but don’t neglect taking care of yourself in the process. I was determined to be “super wife” and provide my husband with all that he needed, when he needed it.  I neglected myself by not getting enough rest or proper nourishment. As a result, Mother’s Day came and I had developed a horrible bladder infection.  I had no one to care for me and in the middle of the night, I awoke shivering due to a high fever. I didn’t have the usual UTI symptoms but was experiencing extreme pressure in my bladder and much pain.  I put a sweatshirt over my pajamas, took Tylenol and went back to bed, but there was no rest to be had. Although both my sons live within 30 miles from me, it would take them at least 45 minutes to come get me. I was in too much pain to wait. As soon as Patient First opened, I drove myself there.  The doctor diagnosed me with a bladder infection and gave me an antibiotic called Macrobid. Oh my word, that antibiotic made matters a LOT worse. Diarrhea came within a few hours and now I had two sources of pain instead of just one. I could not even lay down because I kept having to go to the bathroom! I kept calling Patient First to try to get a different antibiotic but that alone was a horrible experience. I was continually reassured that a nurse would take care of it and it never happened. The pharmacy never got the prescription order. I finally asked my son to intercede on my behalf and he was able to get it straightened out. So 24 hours later, I was able to pick up a new prescription with hopes that it would not have the same severe side effects. It’s hard to be alone when you’re in need of someone to care for you.  I don’t know how people can care for themselves when they have no one. I must say that I was so sick for three days that I couldn’t give myself the care that was needed. I kept drinking because I knew that I would dehydrate quickly. It’s only by the grace of God that this finally broke and I awoke the third morning feeling much better – well enough to go back to work. Caregiver, when you don’t get rest and proper nourishment, your body will fight back! I was on the go so much I would not go to the bathroom as frequently as I should and would hold myself until a more convenient time. This is not good for an older woman and I paid the price. Don’t make the same mistake I did.  I thanked the Lord for allowing this illness in my life. Why, you ask? I thanked Him because I needed the rest and the Lord forced me to get it. It taught me a valuable lesson, to say the least.

My beloved and I – How I dreamed this day would come!

Moving back to John, as for the physical aspects, he still can’t look down enough to put his pants/socks on but his mobility is much better. The range of motion in his neck is also better and not quite as painful. Vancomycin is still being administered via the PICC line and keeping MRSA away. Now that I was feeling better, I resumed my normal routine but with much caution! A few days later, May 19th, I took John on a field trip and we went to a local ice cream place called Effee’s. John was gaining weight and starting to look healthier.  His complexion was changing from very dry (almost lizard like roughness) to smooth supple skin. It amazes me how all the parts of the body have to work together to bring health. As you can see, my face is beaming with joy at the thought of having my husband back! John’s face was beginning to show red cheeks and the sagging skin was filling in 🙂 After all, the man had lost 60 pounds and he was now putting it back on! The Nutritionist recommended a high protein and high calorie diet and that was the purpose of our visit to Effee’s, LOL! He splurged and got a huge banana split – it was great seeing him enjoying food once again. The goal is to get his weight back up to the 160-170 range. We have work to do 🙂 Praise the Lord for touching John’s body in every little detail! 

Lord, I cannot put into words how grateful I am to You for all the blessings You have bestowed upon us! I don’t let a day go by without thinking of all that You have done and continue to praise You and give You the glory for each blessing. I can’t say it enough – what a wonderful Father You are! Thank You, Lord!

Five days have gone by since that dreadful night and John has already passed the swallow test! This means he can start on solid food tomorrow! How excited we all were for him! \o/ Thank You Lord for yet another blessing! Help me to never forget these little milestones in John’s life because remembering them helps my heart and mind to stay focused on You! The MRSA cultures keep coming back negative which means John no longer has it in his system.  He will still have to continue having the infusions of Vancomycin for another few weeks just to be sure, but I’m certain the God of all creation has this under control as well.

Today, April 19th, I arrived at the hospital to find John sitting up in a chair! \o/ Lord, really? How wonderful is that??!! You are so wonderful! Progress is coming along in an accelerated pace now.  More physical therapy is expected today and we were also informed that the feeding tube would be removed. They are also talking about putting in a PICC line for the Vancomycin so he can go home. Lord, I have to admit that I’m nervous about his coming home. I feel quite inadequate in my ability to care for him. I’m sure You will provide the grace needed to do this. John still has health issues and I truly believe he needs a nurse. Please work out these details as You have done so far.

Later in the morning, I had this discussion with the doctor about my concerns and he said that John would definitely have to go to a rehab center. Thank You, Lord, for such a quick answer to my prayers! After lunch, the feeding tube came out and John was downgraded to the regular neurological floor. Can you believe that? I asked family and friends to bring these needs before the Throne of Grace – that Lake Manassas Rehabilitation Center would have an available bed. The rehab centers within our vicinity are sub par and their ratings are horrible. As a caregiver, do your homework and research the rehab facilities in your area. Read the reviews and make sure you have all the facts. I prayed the Lord would do as He did the first time and provide a bed at Lake Manassas.

Wonderful news followed the next day! The endoscopy showed that the ulcers in John’s esophagus and stomach were not Crohn’s. They are due to all the medications he has been taking so they will be treating him with stronger antacids. More good news – the C4 an C5 vertebrae will not need surgery, praise God!!! Lord I cannot contain myself! The blessings just keep on flowing and my heart is overwhelmed by Your goodness! The MRSA culture has been negative so it has been completely eradicated! The doctors are all in agreement with me that John will need to go to rehab. Praise the Lord!

As always, with encouraging news, sometimes follows with bad news.  We found out that Lake Manassas Rehab didn’t have a bed available for John but they planned to have one in a few days. The hospital would not keep John in the hospital due to Medicare restrictions so he would have take whatever bed was available. John was moved to another facility later that night. He arrived there on Tuesday in the early morning hours. He called me and said that this place was simply awful.  I went to see him after work and he wasn’t kidding! It was more of a nursing home and very depressing. Lord, I don’t understand why You are allowing this to happen but I know that I trust in Your care and You will provide what is best for John.

That very minute, I started working very hard to get him moved to Lake Manassas Rehab as soon as possible.  The social worker was a tremendous help and John only had to spend three and a half days at this facility.  He was moved on Friday afternoon to Lake Manassas Rehab and we were so very thankful to the Lord for His Hand of mercy!! Now all our hearts rested knowing that the care John would receive would be the best possible. The Lord had once again worked out the details and the glory was all His!

Although John was out of danger, he still was not allowed to eat solid foods.  Because the bowel obstruction caused him to aspirate fecal matter, doctors were being very cautious as to what he would be allowed to eat. When one aspirates like this, the throat muscles are weakened and swallowing without choking becomes a real issue.  I wondered why the Lord allowed all of this to happen in our lives. I didn’t understand what possible good could come out of all of this but I trusted in Him to reveal it in His time. Isaiah 55:8-9 was my strength!  Yes, Lord, I absolutely do understand this verse and I trust Your words explicitly! I know that You have plans and they don’t just involve John. You have always managed to bless many of Your children with just one action. I’ve always said you were economical – I trust in Your care, Father. Thank You, Lord, for all that You’ve done for John as well as me. You have blessed, You have comforted me when I was fearful, You have provided strength when strength was needed. You are such a Good Father! Thank You for Your precious Son whose life was given so we could be called Your children! I love being Your child, Father. I love being able to turn to You to share my dreams, joys, fears and needs.

Two days after John’s fight with death, the doctors were allowing him to eat ice chips and he was loving that!! Thank You, Lord!  \o/ Can you imagine a robust man who loves meat and potatoes not eating anything solid??? I can appreciate the fact that he was excited about eating those ice chips, LOL!  My husband has been through so many surgeries and physical mishaps throughout his life. His life’s story began when he came out kicking and screaming at birth. He was born eight weeks premature weighing a couple of pounds back in 1951. For a baby to survive eight weeks premature in those days was very unusual.  The nearest hospital had only one incubator and it was already in use. The doctor instructed his parents to place him in a shoe box lined with cotton batting and put him into a warm oven until the incubator was available. The story has it that he was in his mother’s oven for three days! Although he had a rough start in life, John has only had some minor physical challenges. He became a police officer and was fairly healthy and strong throughout his life. However, when he did have physical issues (mostly hernias, diabetes, etc.), he became the exception to every rule in the medical procedures along the way. Apparently, this journey would prove no different. If I listed all the injuries and surgeries he has had up till now, it would be mind boggling. But I praise God every day for my husband and the fact that He has allowed John to continue on as long as he has.

A week later, April 21st, Resurrection Sunday came upon us and it was truly an miracle that John was alive! Friends and family was rejoicing and could not believe that he had pulled through. But I believed it … I knew my Father showed His hand throughout and He didn’t miss a beat! I can’t thank Him enough for all that He has done for us! Despite all the major events since May 2018 and the day-to-day hardships since then, John only survived by the grace of God. Resurrection Sunday symbolizes Christ’s resurrection and the new life that He provided those who accept Him as Saviour through His death.  John was given another opportunity to live this side of Heaven and we were all rejoicing in the Lord! This was one of the best days of my life!

Today, John was finally taken off fentanyl and oxycodone for pain management and this act allowed him to be more alert. It was wonderful to be able to carry a conversation with my best friend and soulmate once again. He had no idea what had been happening to him since April 7th and that’s probably a good thing! He remembered what happened prior to that date and the struggles he went through since last May but the past ten days were a blur! Although he was more alert, he was still a bit disoriented.  He actually thought he was at a construction site because of all the equipment surrounding him, LOL! This allowed me a wonderful opportunity to tease him 😉 It had been 11 long months since our journey began and to be able to joke around with John was a blessing … it brought joy and encouragement to my heart! 

At this point, the good news just kept on coming.  How awesome You are, Lord! You cause my heart to burst with joy each morning; your mercies are new every day! Thank You! Each day brought positive news. To a caregiver, the good news is something that is cherished and appreciated! Too many days bring bad news so it’s very refreshing to hear a blessing and being able to share that blessing with family and friends! I’m sure they were growing weary of the bad news.

Today, the physical therapist began working with John and it how encouraging it was to see him out of bed!  My word, he was actually standing upright! 🙂 He’d been laying down for ten straight days and we know that is never good! His muscles atrophied and he was walking like a little old man. However, his neck was a bit better, which was a great sign… yet another blessing! Lord, You’re just showing off now, LOL! The power and blessings coming forth from Your hands are miraculous! Doctors wanted the most recent CT scan to be read by the neurosurgeon on John’s team in order to get a thorough diagnosis. Although John appeared to be doing better, they were still concerned about his throat muscles. They performed a daily swallow test which determined the possibility of aspirating.  April 19th was to be the day that John would start solid foods. What an answer to prayer and blessing from the Lord! You know, friend, God watches out for even the tiniest of details: details you and I would not even be aware of, but yet He is and He carefully handles each and every one of them. The Lord is like a masterful conductor who guides his musicians through a beautiful symphony. He uses all the instruments to bring music to our ears. So is the Lord – He conducts those who are needed to work on our behalf so that He can be glorified. Glory was brought to our Lord and Saviour through all of this! I never ceased to give Him the glory because it is His to have.

Upon arriving home I was so exhausted that I left a trail of clothing behind me as I made my way to bed. I crawled into bed feeling like I had not slept for days…it sure felt that way! Here it was 3:30 a.m. and I knew I had to be back at the hospital for 9:00. I got some sleep, a few minutes at a time – praying I would not hear the phone ring. I knew that once I crawled out of bed there would be no rest and this made me more anxious to sleep. As it turned out, the hospital didn’t call with bad news – what a relief! As a caregiver, I found myself more concerned about what was going on at the hospital than what my needs were. I couldn’t help but think that the Lord had “shown” up in a major way this past 48 hours! I would later joke around with my dear friends Vicky and Sandy and say, “Now God is just showing off!” I did not mean that disrespectfully in the least. I truly meant it to bring glory to Him and to share just how capable He is! To God be the glory!!!

I work for an accountant and, as everyone knows, April 15th is a very busy day for taxes. I truly hated calling to tell her that I would not be in that day. I felt absolutely awful leaving her with all this by herself! She was so understanding and compassionate about the whole ordeal. It was a comfort knowing that I could be off work for a few days until John was alert and getting better. The Lord answered yet another prayer! How many does that make during this trial? I wondered. He is ever so faithful! Each morning I found His mercies new! Lam 3:22-23 22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. I began this day by reading my Bible and the Lord did not fail me – He encouraged my spirit and brought me that inward strength – this is what has pulled me through all these months. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t know how people make it through life without the Lord!!!

When I arrived at the hospital, John was stable but not out of the woods yet. He was extremely drowsy and not alert enough to have a conversation. I met with the ICU doctor and was told they still had not found the source of bleeding! Oh my! No wonder that poor husband of mine was so weak! My heavenly Father always has His door open and His ear is ever at my lips. I prayed, Father, You are the Creator of John’s body and all of its intricacies. Please, Lord, work through the doctors and the rest of the faithful staff.  I know that You could simply heal John’s body by simply saying the word. However, I believe that You allow us these times so that we can trust in You and rely on through strength to carry us through. Lord, surely You have allowed John to pull through the night for a reason so I leave my beloved in Your care, Father.

The doctor said he had scheduled an endoscopy with hopes of finding the source of bleeding. The morning was spent waiting on the day’s blood work and even more test results. I wondered to myself how many minutes/hours I had spent waiting for test results in the past 11 months. I sat in John’s room praying that all these procedures and blood tests would reveal what was causing this ongoing bleeding.  I put that waiting time to good use though.  I kept track of all the tests, medications,  and days’ events in a notebook. This would prove useful when I decided to do a devotional for caregivers. It helped me to remember what doctors’ said, appointments needed, and test results. I recommend this to any caregiver. You’d be amazed what details you forget. When you are alone with a sick loved one, you are the only set of ears and eyes that truly comprehends what is being said at those appointments. When a person is sick, they can’t possibly be 100% attentive. Write everything down, caregiver, no matter how minute the detail is. I found my notes especially helpful when we saw a new doctor on this journey. They always asked what had been going on and I was able to give them detailed information to help them with their diagnosis.

So back to John. Later that morning, he was taken to have the endoscopy. Those results showed that he had several tiny ulcers in his esophagus as well as his stomach. They biopsied the ulcers and results would take a couple of days to come in.  The doctor said that there could be several causes for these ulcers: Crohns could be in his esophagus and stomach; stress; hormone imbalance; or a few other things which he did not share. Oh how I prayed that it was not due to Crohns in other parts of his digestive tract! That would be a lifelong illness that would not quit. The endoscopy also showed there was no active bleeding, which was wonderful news! Thank You, Lord! The course of treatment would depend on what the biopsies revealed. Because John spent his time asleep, I left instructions to the ICU nurse to please tell the night nurse to call me with any changes. I crawled into my bed and every cell in my body screamed for sleep! Fatigue draped over me like a heavy blanket and my spirit was weary. Lord, please watch over John tonight and keep in the palm of Your hand. He answered my prayers because the phone never rang, for which I was ever so grateful. Oh how lovely it was to have actually slept for six straight hours! What a blessing that was! Thank You, Father! 

That morning, I arrived at the hospital to find John not only awake, but alert and talking! Hallelujah! \o/ 2 Sam 7:22 “Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. I was told that my poor husband had pneumonia but now that he was awake, he was able to do the breathing exercises which helped him to cough up phlegm and he was progressing nicely. The antibiotics were started early and beginning to work in his body. This surprised me because no mention of pneumonia was made during my last visit. It just goes to show you how quickly a compromised immune system can cause complications! More tests would be done to determine if the pain in John’s neck was only due to MRSA and not some other issue. The previous MRI showed a dark spot at the base of the skull so they wanted to rule out the possibilities of a cancerous growth, etc. They scheduled another MRI to be done at noon. Did I mention that I spent a lot of time waiting on test results? 🙂 This MRI, however, showed no dark spot at the base of his skull! Yet another praise! My heart could not stop exploding with joy … the Father was handing out blessings as though they were candy today! 🙂

Later in the day, we received more good news! John was going to be downgraded to Intermediate Care as soon as a bed became available. This was such a big deal! This meant he was out of the woods!!! Praise the Lord!! \o/ Two short days before John was on his deathbed and we were planning a funeral! How great is our God!!!

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Continuing on from the last post, the ICU staff finally stabilized his blood pressure and heart rate.  They pumped out a full two liters of fluid from his bowels. Unfortunately, they were unable to  give him the contrast for the CAT scan until that procedure was done.  Finally, around 9:15 p.m. they were able to do so.  His blood count was very low for some unknown reason so he would, once again, need a blood transfusion. I thought to myself, how many times will blood transfusions be needed? Oh Lord, how long will this continue before we have an answer?”  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reached out to the Creator of Heaven with my pleas and requests! Won’t You get tired of hearing from me, Lord?  How thankful I am that He is ever vigilant, willing to spend time with me to hear all my requests!  What a wonderful and faithful Heavenly Father who is mindful of all my needs!  \O/  \O/

To make matters worse, a tornado warning was announced and Bethany was home alone with the kids. We were praying that God would take care of them while Adam could not be with them. I’m sure his heart was torn between being with his family and his father. It was like this all night. Test results were coming back and the doctors would tell us a little more information. The end result was always the same –  more testing would be required to help the medical team  figure out exactly what was going on.  Aaron and Tori arrived shortly thereafter, bless their hearts. They had been on the road for five hours! I imagined how difficult a conversation they were having on this long drive back, hoping they would get to the hospital in time.  What was going through their minds? How helpless they must have felt having no family, at that moment, to be alongside them. It’s difficult to drive when you’re under stress like that. But thank God, Adam kept texting Aaron and Tori with updates the whole time so they at least were kept in the loop! Technology is so wonderful – back in the day before cell phones, you would not have been able to have any information on your loved one until you arrived at the hospital.  

What a blessed mother I am indeed!  My sons are my earthly rocks and the Lord used them in a mighty way during this trial!!  

Once Aaron and Tori arrived, they were able to see John but, of course, he was not awake to be even aware of their presence. Aaron is my contemplative and inward son. Once he saw his father, he was very quiet. My heart ached because he needed to talk about the possibility of his father dying …  in fact, we all did. I asked our friends to go ahead and go home as it appeared that it would be a long night and the boys and I needed to talk as a family. Matt, one of Adam’s dear friends stayed to give us all support – he is one of those who is my son from another mother 🙂 Once everyone was gone, I began to discuss the possibilities of losing John with them. 

Everyone listened and we were all on the same page. It was then that we began to share memories, not only of John but of the times in their lives that made us laugh so hard, it brought us to tears. This “healing” was exactly what was needed at that very moment. I saw Aaron come out of his shell and able to deal with what was at hand. The Lord is so Good and He knew exactly what was needed to bless my sons. I thank Him for His merciful hand in every area, big or small! 

As the night disappeared and the wee hours of the morning creeped in, we were all praying for someone to come through those doors to tell us the waiting was over but that never happened. I convinced myself that as each minute ticked away, it was a step closer to John pulling through! The old saying, “No news is good news” was certainly true here. We all took turns going into John’s room to check on him and caress him to let him know we were near. He told me later that he had no clue what was going on. He didn’t hear voices or feel our presence at all but touching and stroking his arm and face was definitely therapeutic for us! We felt that at least if there wasn’t any change, it meant he wasn’t getting any worse. That’s something, right? And even if John did not pull through, what awaited him would be glorious! Could it be that he would see the Lord of glory this night and gaze upon the streets of gold and all of heaven’s beauty?  

At 2:30 a.m., the CAT scan results came back and the doctor came in to discuss it with us. They were dealing with a serious bowel obstruction and were doing all they could to stop it. The longer the obstruction, there may be an increasing possibility of tissue death. Tissue death can result in a tear (perforation) in the intestinal wall, which can lead to infection. It can also cut off the blood supply to part of the intestine. He shared that at this point, John was not doing worse. For us, it was a waiting game and we had to trust the Lord for the outcome. Lord, once again, we are placing John in the palm of Your hands! Please give us peace! A calm came over me at this point. The doctor encouraged us to go home since there were no new developments. The family decided that there was nothing we could do to help John so we headed home to get a few hours of rest before returning back to the hospital

John arrived at Fairfax Hospital around 3:00 a.m. on April 10th. Treatments for MRSA began immediately and they were also aware of the old blood clot in his leg.  We were told he would need the vancomycin for six to eight weeks, which could be done at home if he did not go into rehab. 

His pain levels were so high that the doctors administered a morphine drip.  Daily I would go visit him after work but he was always sleeping. He would awake for a few minutes and then go back to sleep.  They were struggling to get him to eat, but as you can imagine, morphine kept him quite drowsy. John did not look well and his weight loss was unbelievable.  Here he was released from rehab on February 27th weighing 138 and he was now back down to 124. In just six weeks, he had lost all the weight he had gained :’(  I had to rest in the Lord at this point. I had no idea what was in store. O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust…”  Psalm 7:1a

Thank God for my two dearest friends! One lives in Northern Maine (Vicky) and she and her husband were my prayer warriors. My other dear friend was always by my side when I needed to see “Jesus with skin on”! This day would be no different. She would once again show the love of Christ through her actions. On April 14th, Sandy and I went to visit John after church.  We spoke with his doctor and he explained why John had to be on morphine. He informed us that MRSA can settle anywhere and it can cause abscess in your spleen, kidney, and spine. Unfortunately, it affected John’s vertebrae which is extremely excruciating! He would be screaming in pain if it weren’t for the morphine drip. At this point, the doctor said they were also including other pain meds in his IV.  John was so drugged up and never woke up while we were there. He didn’t look good to us at all. We both commented how his skin appeared gray and the doctor reiterated how very sick John was.  

The  Physician tried to explain to me how they culture MRSA and I didn’t quite understand his medical terminology. His heavy accent didn’t help matters, I must admit. He became impatient at my ignorance which caused me to become quite agitated and frustrated.  This was my husband we were talking about and I needed to know exactly what was being done to him. I’m normally a very patient person but this doctor was very condescending. I gave him a piece of my mind and told him that he understood what he was saying but the terms he was using were not common to this layperson. He finally explained things to me so I could better understand. To determine if MRSA is still in body, they take blood and culture it for 3 days. It sits in a petri dish for all that time. Sometimes it shows up negative before that final third day but if it is positive, it definitely appears by the third day. At this point, it had not been three days yet so they couldn’t tell if the vancomycin had wiped it out yet. After visiting John for a little while, Sandy and I left as he had no clue we were there. 

The drive home was long and tiring.  Traffic was bad for some reason and it took me nearly two hours to drive 34 miles. I had not been home an hour when I received a call from the hospital letting me know that John had to be moved to the Progressive Care Unit as a precautionary measure because his blood pressure was dropping and they just wanted to keep me apprised.  Not 15 minutes later, the phone rang again and a nurse informed me that he had been moved to the ICU unit. She told me he had taken a turn for the worse and the family should come as soon as possible. Oh how my heart dropped! This is the worse news a wife of 45 years can hear! I immediately prayed to the God of miracles and asked the Lord to please work in John’s body yet again. I’m sure He was accustomed to hearing these words 🙂  However, I also prayed that His will be done in this matter. This is the best thing we can pray, amen?

Later on, Sandy and I would  both comment on how we noticed that John was not looking good that day!  However, I surely didn’t expect this! I called my youngest son, Adam, and he immediately left to come pick me up.  While he was driving to get me, he called Aaron and Tori, who were vacationing at the beach five hours away!  Bless their hearts, they left immediately to try to make it to the hospital before John passed. While waiting for Adam, I called our family our niece, Diane, so she could let the family know of John’s condition. Then I called Sandy, Tripp and our church secretary.  They all met us at the hospital to sit with us.  

When Adam arrived, we embarked on the longest 34 miles I’d ever drive. We talked about the possibilities of John dying and what needed to happen. We discussed funeral arrangements and the tasks that needed to be done. Wow! I never thought this would happen! When we arrived at the hospital, doctors and nurses were working on John. He was intubated and there was a lot of commotion in his room. The doctor came out to talk to us and said it was touch and go with John and he was very close to death. Adam and I were the only ones allowed to see him at this point as Aaron and Tori had not yet arrived. 

After things calmed down a bit, the doctors were waiting for a CT scan machine to arrive and we were given an opportunity to go in to see him. I’m thankful that John had no clue as to what was going on around him. Apparently the morphine caused his intestines to slow down and become obstructed. He never realized how close to death he was. We caressed him as best we could with all the tubes and IV’s surrounding him. We rubbed and kissed his forehead hoping he could feel our presence. Oh Lord, can this be the last time I see my husband? I could feel my heart sinking! I knew I needed to be strong for my sons – I needed the Lord to give me strength in this time of adversity. I wanted those around me to see God’s strength working in my life.  This was to be the testimony that I strived to leave for those around me.

According to WebMD, “MRSA is a ‘Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus’ which is caused by a type of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. Most MRSA infections occur in people who’ve been in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers. When it occurs in these settings, it’s known as healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). HA-MRSA infections typically are associated with invasive procedures or devices, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing or artificial joints.”

I came home from work on April 2nd to find John in excruciating pain.  He assumed he had slept in an awkward position the last couple of nights and felt as though he had a “kink” in his neck which was painful and getting worse.  He had not slept a wink the night before due to the severe spasms he was having. All I kept thinking was, “Lord, not another symptom to deal with!!” It seemed we took one step forward and then two steps backward. I can’t even begin to imagine what John was feeling emotionally! He was experiencing one problem after another and I was watching my beloved fading. He was declining, not only due to weight loss, but also mentally.  It’s like he was giving up.

That week, we tried a chiropractic adjustment to adjust his neck but this was way too painful for him. Instead, Dr. Joe recommended that he work the areas around as well as his spine but he would leave the neck alone until John was better. He told us how to treat the spasms and that it should be gone in the next few days. Sadly, the pain did not go away. I had such high hopes that this was all that was needed to clear this up. My daughter in law, Tori, was the one taking John to his appointments since I had started a new job. Thank God for the help of my family!  If it had not been for her, I would have had to quit this job as well.

On April 8th, Tori arrived to take John for another chiropractic adjustment.  When she arrived, John was not even dressed. She told me that he was acting strange and moving about very slowly. I told her to go ahead and take him to the appointment and to touch base with me once she got home. Upon their return back to the house, John was very listless. Tori said it literally took him about 20  minutes to get out of the car to enter the house! Oh dear Lord! Please Father, I begged. Please work this out!!! Tori wanted to wait until I got home from work before she left John. 

When I arrived, I noticed that he would not wake up but for a few seconds at a time.  I called Tripp and he convinced John to go to the ER. Our glucometer was reading that John’s blood sugar was over 300.  Tripp was concerned that he may be suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis, which could be deadly. So off to the ER we went.  The blood count at the emergency room was 148 so we obviously had a malfunctioning glucometer at home. Numerous tests were being run at this point. Since it wasn’t his blood sugar, what in the world could it be? The ER doctor came to talk to us and told us that John’s white cell count was higher than it should be for a simple urinary tract infection. They gave him fluids and antibiotics to start with and we waited on test results in order to know what the next step would be.

His labs came back negative so they scheduled an MRI on his neck and decided to keep him overnight for observation.  They were very concerned due to John’s white cell count being high and he was now running a fever.  Something was going on in his body that needed to be attended to. An infectious disease doctor was also called in to help provide the medical team aid in diagnosing and understanding what possible infection this could be.  At the same time we got the MRI results, we also received the results of the blood work. Not only did John have MRSA in his blood but it also attacked his C3 and C4 vertebrae and neck muscles on both sides!!!  What????!!!! Where did this come from?  The doctor said John could have contracted MRSA anywhere.  It has a ten-day incubation so it could even have been contracted at the rehab facility. There was no way of telling.

At this point, my dear husband was a very sick man.  The MRI appeared to show a dark area at the base of his skull.  The doctors were afraid that he was developing an abscess and this hospital was not equipped to handle that type of illness.  John’s nurse had been a medic in the Marine Corps and Adam and he struck up some good conversations regarding MRSA and what John was going through. He put together a makeshift neck brace that would help keep his neck immobile. This helped tremendously and alleviated some of the severe pain he was experiencing, but not all. They also gave him oxycodone  and started treating the fever. They immediately began administering vancomycin and decided to transfer John to Fairfax Hospital. It is the only Level 1 hospital in Northern Virginia that could deal with this type of issue. He was transferred late that night and arrived in the wee hours of the morning. This would begin another round of events that would try our faith and fortitude. 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Isaiah 43:5 were such a great comfort because it reminded me that with all the uncertainty and fear we were facing at this very moment – we were not alone – God’s grace would sustain us yet again.

John had been home ten days and I had just finished my first week at my new job.  I came home from work that Friday, March 8th, and John was urinating blood like crazy! I took him to the emergency room and the doctor decided to take him off the blood thinner (Xeralto) for two days. He suggested that John  follow up with a urologist. His appointment was not until the 20th – I prayed that he would be OK till then. Here he was losing blood yet again. I was devastated. Oh Lord, what is happening now?

Six days later, after only four days back on Xeralto, John called me at work to inform me that the bleeding had started up again but now he couldn’t even urinate at all.  This blood thinner was once again the culprit which was causing this ongoing issue. I left work to meet up with John at the hospital in Culpeper.  Our son Adam was also meeting me there but arrived at the emergency room before I did and said that the doctor had already ordered some testing to be done.  

An ultrasound was performed and the results showed no backup to kidneys, thank the Lord, but John definitely had a full bladder. They put in a catheter that dislodged some major clots that had accumulated at the bottom of his bladder.  They were to leave the catheter in until he would see the urologist on the 20th. They also put him on antibiotics. This poor man! Here was yet another physical trial that he would have to endure. Do you remember when I said this whole year had been a series of dominos tipping over?  Well, here was another one! I must admit at this point, I was getting a bit anxious! I truly needed to walk closely by the Lord’s side in order to keep my mind and heart from getting too discouraged.

On March 20th, my daughter-in-law took John to the urologist and she said that he hadn’t been on antibiotics long enough for the catheter to come out.  He would have to endure wearing this Foley catheter for another week. The doctor said she would prescribe another blood thinning medication the 9th of April  because she wanted to see how this one would work.  The doctor scheduled a cystoscopy for the following Thursday and put him on a different blood thinner. The day before he was due to have the cystoscopy, he began bleeding again.

The cystoscopy was performed and the results showed little bumps in the bladder but she couldn’t see anything else due to the quantity of blood that had pooled at the bottom of the bladder causing some clotting. She would have to do another cystoscopy once this cleared up. A strange thing happened at this point. The urologist told John that he had MRSA infection in his urine and that she would put him on a very strong antibiotic. However, John was not clear headed enough to hear “MRSA” and told our daughter-in-law that he just had a bladder infection. We absolutely had no idea he was dealing with such a serious infection. At this point, the doctor said she was now going to recommend to John’s primary care physician that he stop all blood thinners.  This was good news to us! Also, his physical therapist said he shouldn’t do any type of PT while he still had a catheter in. Sadly, this caused him to lose momentum as well as weight. I didn’t know that MRSA was causing fatigue. All I saw was that John was not helping himself anymore. He was too sick to do so, but I had no idea the reason behind it.

Day 24 – What is MRSA?

Today we met with the surgeon and discussed the continuing issues John was experiencing. He still couldn’t sit on his bottom. Come to find out, he had three stitches which just would not heal because of the ongoing problem with bleeding and mucous. The surgeon cauterized these areas and that would prove to be very helpful. He told John he could now begin to sit but had to use a cushion. Oh happy day!!!  

Afterwards, we met with the GI Nutritionist and she said that he needed to take in more calories. She threatened John with a feeding tube if he didn’t take a more active role in gaining weight. She recommended some high protein snacks to help the healing process. Peanut butter crackers with additional peanut butter on top three times a day was the snack of choice.  It didn’t take long to see positive results! 🙂 Protein is very important in the healing process and he needed plenty of it. My word, I’ve learned so much about the body and what it needs to be healthy! I’m sorry that I had to learn about it in this way.

Here we were, February 19th and he was just beginning the more aggressive PT now that he could sit down. They said he was further along than they expected. His OT was to end this week, so the therapist planned to inspect our home to make sure that it was safe for John. His anticipated release date from rehab was to be February 27th. Oh how we were looking forward to having him come home! At this point, he no longer needed a walker and could now walk on his own! We took a few “day trips” to ease John into being away from rehab. I took him to a couple of his favorite restaurants and he thoroughly enjoyed being away from the facility.  It was wonderful being with him in this setting!

Doctors’ appointments continued even though he was in rehab. We met with the hematologist and discovered that due to all the blood loss John’s iron levels were extremely low. Ion pills wouldn’t be of much help. He would have to undergo iron infusions, a procedure in which iron is delivered to the body intravenously in order to boost levels. The treatments would be scheduled, upon his release from rehab, with the oncology department at Culpeper Hospital. 

Knowing that he was going to be discharged from the rehabilitation center in about a week, I started job hunting.  It had been three months without my income so now that he would be coming home, we felt it was time to look. But, God was already at work!!  I emailed a former supervisor and she mentioned that a friend of hers, an Accountant, was looking for an admin. I interviewed with her on February 23rd and was hired on the spot – I would begin on March 4th! How quickly the Lord provided!  I was so anxious to tell John about it. When I arrived at rehab, I discovered that he had gained a few pounds and was up to 132.2!! I also noticed that the skin that used to hang below his biceps was beginning to fill in with muscle mass. Oh, the joy that filled my heart!!  Day by day, he was recouping some of the strength and stamina he had lost!

By the time February 27th came along, John was up to 138.7.  Those peanut butter crackers were doing the trick 🙂 Finally, we were going home….Praise the Lord!!! John was so happy to resume his normal routine.  He was not back 100% physically … that would take some time. In fact, the doctor said it could take up to a year to recover his full strength. Wow! It’s amazing how the body works! I thought we were now coming to the end of this trial…but, as they say, ignorance is bliss.

Here it is, Valentine’s Day and half of February is gone.  Tonight, I must admit, I’m feeling sad. It isn’t because we’re not celebrating Valentine’s Day. I’m sad because I’m overwhelmed by everything that has been building up inside of me. I’ve tried to be strong, not only for myself but for my family as well. They have always seen their mother strong in the faith. I didn’t want them to think my Christianity was failing me – I wanted to be a good testimony. 

It’s impossible to be the perfect Christian 24/7 and I realize that.  But, my heart’s desire was always to show those around me, through my responses in the challenges I was facing, that my trust in God was steadfast.  I also didn’t want to let the Lord down by allowing others to see my faith wavering. There were times when discouragement would grip my heart.  In these dark moments, I would turn to the blessed hymns of faith and God’s precious Word to uplift my spirit! I would sing “Count Your Blessings” and read verses dealing with encouragement. It made me think of David and how he didn’t even have the Scriptures to turn to like I did, but yet, was able to fortify himself in the Lord his God.  

There were many verses that I turned to and maybe some of these will be a blessing to your heart as it has been to mine:

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Deuteronomy 20:4 – For the LORD your God [is] he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.   

Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

Matthew 11:28 – Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Psalms 31:24 – Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

At this point, my heart was hopeful that we were nearing the end of this journey. I couldn’t help but miss John. I was missing my best friend, his hugs, his healthy body, his presence. Life not only changed for him but it changed for me as well. This is what happens to the caregiver.  Everyone concentrates on the patient (and rightfully so) but many times the caregiver is forgotten. After all, life as we both knew it, had ceased! We weren’t going camping – we weren’t going antiquing or doing any of our favorite things. Every Wednesday night, we would normally get together with Tripp, Brenda and Russ. These three dear friends were a weekly anchor and we enjoyed the fellowship. This had not happened since December and it seemed that mostly all fellowship had ceased for me. Sure I had my sons and friends but phone calls were just not enough. I needed someone to touch, to hug and to sit down and have a conversation face to face. 

The very next day, our precious grandchildren came to visit their Pepo in rehab.  He had not seen them in a few months because there had been so much sickness in their household. John’s compromised immune system prevented them from seeing him.  This not only picked up his spirit but it did a world of good to mine as well. The Lord knew exactly what we both needed!!

I’ve often wondered: How in the world does a person get through life without the Lord? I could not have dealt with this whole ordeal without my Lord and Saviour by my side.  His precious Word encouraged me every step of the way. Even on this particular night, as I was feeling sorry for myself, my thoughts went to Christ when He stood silent before the chief priests being wrongfully accused, judged and sentenced to crucifixion!  How alone He must have felt! The loneliness I was feeling could never compare to what the Lord went through! 

When Jesus fell on His face in the garden of Gethsemane and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt:  He was not looking forward to His suffering and death, but He completely trusted the Father as to the outcome which would result from that death.  Why did Jesus have to endure the cross? He died on that cruel cross to bear the punishment for our sin.  Hebrews 12:2; Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. “During the three hours which the darkness continued, Jesus was in agony, wrestling with the powers of darkness, and suffering his Father’s displeasure against the sin of man, for which he was now making his soul an offering. Never were there three such hours since the day God created man upon the earth, never such a dark and awful scene; it was the turning point of that great affair, man’s redemption and salvation.” (Matthew Henry)  Romans 5:6-8; “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

How blessed we are as Christians today! We have the Words of God in our very hands. The early church didn’t have that privilege. The Bible had not yet been completed, nevertheless, they encouraged one another as they listened to the preaching and teaching of the Apostles and other disciples.  Thank you Lord for Your love for us!

Day 23 – Now What?

Life continued on the outside of those walls at the rehab center.  I still had so much on my plate that needed to get done. But the Lord, once again, knew our needs and faithfully provided for each one. With neither of us working at this point, we had John’s retirement and small Social Security check. This took care of the bare essentials but would not cover expenses that we knew were coming. My sons set up a GoFundMe page and people gave generously! My heart was full and John and I were so grateful for their kindness! This money was set aside to be used only for medical expenses!  What a blessing this was from the Lord! 

To top it off, God made sure that we would have a little extra to spare.  We received some really good news! John was receiving a small short term disability check since he was unable to work as a school bus driver.  That was coming to an end this month. The good news was that he had been approved to receive long term disability! That little check would continue for another eighteen months. What a blessing and answer to prayer!  My spirit was encouraged so much by these incidences! The Lord works continuously in the background, even when we don’t realize it at all! 

This particular day mid February day, I noticed that John was weaker. The daily labs showed that his blood count was down again and he would need another blood transfusion. ***sigh***  It seems that his body just can’t get a handle on this particular issue. When will he stop needing these transfusions, I wondered? His bottom was still oozing small amounts of blood mixed with mucous.  He had been through so much radiation and drugs, it was hard to say what contributed to these setbacks. One thing I have learned is that God always provides a calm in the midst of a storm, if you are looking for it. Even the worst of storms (hurricanes and tornados) have an “eye” where it is calm! The Lord blessed me in the storms of this battle with a peaceful calm! So this storm was no different: the blood transfusion worked yet again and John began picking up energy. The color came back to his cheeks and he was now using a walker without assistance! What a blessing to see him up and about!

The rehab facility provided neighborhood dining where the residents gather together to eat in a group/family setting. Seeing each other three times a day provides familiarity and a sense of community spirit. Unfortunately, John still could not sit on his bottom so he was unable to take advantage of this for some time. He would eat in his room and I pretty much was the only one he associated with, except for staff. It was most unfortunate because the dining room was beautifully arranged and could be used between meals to play games or sit and watch television. The entrance to the facility was just beautiful. The common areas were elegantly furnished with what appeared to be fresh flowers everywhere. Come to find out later, they were not fresh flowers at all but they made for a beautiful environment for the residents. The facility also provided large glass dispensers both in their dining rooms and the lobby that provided iced tea, infused water, some with lemons and others with mint and cucumbers. What a nice touch! These different places gave the people a place to “hang out” instead of staying in their rooms when they’re not going through therapy! It encouraged camaraderie.

Do you realize how comforting these small details were to this caregiver??? I knew that my beloved husband had some “touches” that meant so much! The fact that my husband was being so well cared for by a compassionate staff in a facility that was well maintained, lifted a heavy burden off my shoulders. I felt comfortable going home at night knowing that he was safe and secure in the Lord’s very capable Hands! 

Psalm 86:12-31a I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.  For great is thy mercy toward me…”

It was wonderful having him out of the hospital after a month! The rehab center provided a home away from home. I was so very thankful that my Heavenly Father had worked out all the details. He knew that I would not sleep well knowing that John was in a place where staff didn’t care. There are so many of these facilities around here and I could not have borne the heartache of knowing he was in one of those places. 

Day 22 – Caregiver’s Emotions Need Tending Too

Psalm 30:11-12 describes exactly how I felt when I woke up on Tuesday, February 5th, knowing I didn’t have to drive four hours that day! This allowed me time to do my morning devotions and Bible reading before actually going to see John!  It’s those little things in life that help to encourage the heart!

The Lake Manassas Rehabilitation facility is absolutely beautiful! They opened just three years ago and so everything is impeccably clean and kept up. John had a private room which was spacious. I tried to make it as homey as possible. I knew that would help him in his recovery. The big window in his hospital room overlooked a courtyard so I brought some of his favorite stained glass creations to hang. The sun would shine through them and cast beautiful colors on the walls. Our son and his wife brought him four family pictures and we put them on the window sill so he would be able to see his children and grandchildren. 🙂 Proverbs 31:27  “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”  It’s too bad that his stay was during the winter months. He could not take advantage of sitting in that courtyard to enjoy some fresh air.

Because John was still unable to sit, regular physical therapy was delayed.  They did more basic PT in order to get him moving. Because of the daily regimen, the foggy brain and hallucinations were a thing of the past. The day by day structure helped him to regain focus. He was not getting the stronger pain medications which also made a difference. It’s these little blessings that uplifted my heart. As a caregiver, you’re deep in the thick of each event, good or bad. The difficult events are the ones that take their toll on the weary mind. 

The healing process was very slow although therapy was going quite well.  Just as I thought we were plowing forward with positive gain, something would happen to set us back. I would later remember that his surgeon told us that it could take up to a year for John to feel like his old self. At this point, he was not gaining as much weight as when he was in the hospital on the super energized IV feedings. Gaining had leveled off and he had plateaued around 127-130 pounds. Also, he was now again passing excessive amounts of blood in his urine! In order to prevent further blood clot, the blood thinners were still being administered. Just as it happened at UVA, the rehab doctor stopped the blood thinners for a few days in order to give John’s body a break. I prayed over his body every day, several times a day, asking the Lord to give my poor beloved relief.  Each time the blood thinners were stopped, his bottom had time to heal a bit and it would give him a reprieve from the pain. 

I don’t know what happened in my body, but at this point, I was totally exhausted. I would wake up in the mornings feeling as though I had been up all night. My dear friend reminded me that in over a month I had only missed two days of going to see John in Charlottesville – those misses were due to snow, I might add. When I was younger, I had all kinds of energy but that certainly was not the case now. I needed support and needed it badly.  I reached out to my sons who both volunteered to visit their Dad more frequently so I could take a break. They also advised me to reach out to John’s friends to help. It’s so hard to ask for help, especially when you know the lives of those impacted by your requests are busy, if not busier than you. Each person I reached out to was ready and willing to give a helping hand! 

Because John was now residing locally, visits from these friends and family were now much more frequent. This was wonderful! They all worked with me so that someone would be visiting John every day! What a blessing this was. It allowed me to take two days a week off (Tuesdays and Fridays) so I could finally take care of the house during the day instead of late at night when my energy was spent! I felt so much closer to those who helped me – they became like family. 

Day 21 – Yet Another Hurdle

The month of January came and went but ended on a good note. We were told that John would be going to rehab the following Monday, February 4th! I was so excited! The weather this month had been bitterly cold and it would snow just enough to make traveling more difficult. The shorter days meant having to drive in the dark both ways which is stressful for me. John was taking little steps toward recovery and this was good! Doctor removed staples from his abdomen and most  came out of his bottom. He would still not be allowed to sit for a few more weeks. That was disappointing news for him.                                                                    

Stress is not always evident – it creeps up little by little until it produces symptoms. Driving home one night, I began to feel chest pains and actually thought I was having a heart attack! I had read that if you’re alone during these episodes, you should trying coughing really hard to cause pressure on the chest to stimulate the heart. So I coughed several times, praying the Lord would get me home safely. Little things like this made me realize that I was not infallible. How much longer could I go on without falling apart physically?  Praise the Lord He brought to mind these verses found in Psalm chapter 9. I knew God would have to take care of me and help me because I am His child.  

1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  

Now that we had a discharge date, the case worker diligently worked to find a rehab center close to home that would have an open bed. I had done my homework on those that surrounded Warrenton. There were a few but only one came with high ratings. The other facilities were too far away and it would have made it difficult for me to travel back and forth.  I had to turn this over to the Lord because it was very overwhelming.

However, in my research, I came across Lake Manassas Rehab in Gainesville.  This thrilled my heart because not only was it highly rated – it was only eleven miles from home!  However, they didn’t have any available beds. There were available beds in the other two rehab centers but their ratings were horrible. I had actually been to visit a lady in our church at one of these facilities and it was simply awful. I could not see placing my precious husband in a place like this! I was also concerned about how I would transport John from Charlottesville to the facility. The physical therapist said that he was no longer sick enough to warrant medical transport.  It’s a long drive for someone who cannot sit on their buttocks!  I asked my family and friends to bombard the Throne of Grace once again and pray that the Lord would work a miracle in both of these needs. 

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On Monday, February 4th, I arrived at the hospital and stopped to speak with the case worker.  She told me that unfortunately there had been no changes with Lake Manassas. She had called them earlier and left a message, but had not yet received a response. As she was telling me about the rehab facility that could take John, the phone rang and it was Lake Manassas saying they had a bed and he could go that day!  Oh my soul, I was so excited and was praising the Lord right there in front of everyone at the desk! The nurses turned around and smiled – sharing in my joy over this blessing! I was so grateful that the Lord would answer in such a mighty way!!  Habakkuk 3:18-19; “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” 

Not only did He answer that prayer but the case worker told me that John’s case file showed that since he was still bleeding, he would need to be medically transported by ambulance!!! Yet another answer to prayer!  God showed His power and allowed me to see His hand in the most minute details in my life. Needless to say, John was transported in the early afternoon and I met him at Lake Manassas Rehab Center!!!  

How great is our God??!! 

To read Day 20, click here Day 20 – Finally, Different Walls to Look At

Today, we’re having a good day! I cherish those days so much. They have been few and far between and so whenever a good day comes along, I try to cling to it as long as possible. It reminds me of Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thess. 5:18a; “In every thing give thanks…” 

Here we are, 12 days after surgery and the first month of the new year is nearly finished. It has been eight months since this journey began. Oh what a whirlwind of emotions! A caregiver never knows what the day will have in store!  But, through it all, the child of God knows that he/she must give thanks in everything!  Did you ever stop to think about that for a moment?  It is one thing to give thanks when things are going well, but we must also give thanks even when times are hard.  Why would I do that?  Because I know that my Heavenly Father has things under control. Whether things are good for us, or not – whatever our situation – God is still God, and He is worthy of our praise.  Even in times of trial and distress, we can count our blessings and see the Lord working in and through the circumstances!   

John is doing much better and the consultation with the surgeon went well.  He is so good at converting complicated medical gibberish into layman’s terms. He compared bowel obstruction to a kinked water hose. The best thing for John was to get moving.  He had been on painkillers which had slowed his whole body, including his intestines. It also slowed down his mobility. Now that John’s ostomy was showing output again, the doctor said the more walking he did, the more stimulation to the bowel.  Each time he walked, he had to carry along his IV’s and feeding tube which had been placed through his nose. It was difficult and arduous but John was walking the halls often. 

The poor man was down to 124 pounds. 🙁  This was just breaking my heart. He began this journey at 187 pounds!  My strong, virile husband was now very frail and weak. He also wasn’t thinking clearly – he was an entirely different man.  John was so sensitive that he cried at the drop of a hat. I remember telling my friend, “Who is this man and what have they done with my husband?”  You may not know this, but my husband is a retired police officer. He spent nearly thirty years serving his community and was never this thin. He was a strong, well built man with much strength!  I would look at his body and tears would flow. He literally looked like a Holocaust survivor. 

On January 29th, the feeding tube came out and the liquid diet began. Although this was good news, I noticed John was acting strange and he seemed confused at times. A good example was when he called me at 2:00 in the morning and asked me why I wasn’t there to pick him up. He was also hallucinating. He said I was standing by his bedside talking to him but I was actually sitting across from him. I spoke with Bob, the Nurse Practitioner, and he explained to me that this is normal. The brain plays tricks when one is deprived of normal day to day activities. I had never heard of this before. I was assured that he would return to his normal self once he got home. I have to say that this was extremely disturbing for me. Each day brought a new set of circumstances and something else to be concerned with. But on the flip side, each day was another day closer to full recovery so there was always a little something that would encourage me along the way. 

In just a couple of days, John had put on eight pounds since the feeding tube came out! We weren’t quite sure how he could manage to do so – maybe it was the good food despite it being a liquid diet!  But, we were thankful that he was having better days. Another ray of hope to encourage me in my weariness. This is where being a Christian is essential – the caregiver needs a close walk with the Lord Jesus in order to be able to provide support and reassurance to the patient, even on the days that are overwhelming! One cannot do that without totally trusting God to take care of each and every part of their life!

Day 19 – The Road to Recovery

Each day had its blessings and each day had its challenges. This is why the caregiver needs to be prepared, both physically and spiritually! You don’t know what the day has in store but the Lord does. God tells us so in Matthew 6:8. He can and will give you exactly what you need to move forward.  

Just six days after surgery, to my surprise and dismay, there was talk about sending John home or to a rehabilitation facility! This disturbed me so much! I didn’t feel as though he was ready.  John wanted to go home and would not hear of going to rehab at all. As far as he was concerned, it was not open for discussion. At this point in time, there was no way I could meet all of his needs as a caregiver at home! I became very anxious and had to turn to the One who could work out all these details. As I said in the last devotional, God is most certainly in every detail if we allow Him to be. I prayed and the Lord worked through my family and friends to help me convince John that going to rehab was the best thing for him. 

As it turned out, none of the rehab facilities had vacancies. Thank You, Lord!!!  Furthermore, the doctors were not yet ready to release him.  Just because the physical therapists and occupational therapists said he was doing great and was ready to leave, the surgical and gastroenterology teams were not ready to release him. Several steps had to happen before he could move on to rehab. They had issues with his blood clot still being too big so the IVC filter could not be removed at this time.  They were giving John a Heparin drip (blood thinner) but unfortunately, it caused so much bleeding from his bottom that they had to administer another blood transfusion.

On January 24th, I arrived at the hospital to find John throwing up. They had to give him two more units of blood the night before due to all the bleeding so they stopped the Heparin drip altogether. I felt as though he was taking two steps backwards. I felt a heaviness in my heart.  As the nurses worked to clean him up, I went to the family room to pray. The room was empty and I took the opportunity to open my Bible to read. That room was not usually empty but the Lord allowed me to have peace and quiet so He could encourage me and give me what I needed to keep pressing forward.

The surgeon came in to talk with me and he did not seem concerned at all.  He explained that John had a bowel obstruction. It wasn’t due to anything John did or didn’t do. Bowel obstructions occur because the intestines are “complaining” at being disturbed. After all, they had to remove the large intestine which in turn, disrupts the small intestines as well.  These issues do occur and, unfortunately, this was another hurdle John would have to get through. The doctor said it would take a few days for him to get  back to normal. The Lord was faithful! He reassured and comforted my heart through the surgeon’s words. 

GOD had everything under control … again … as usual!

Click here for Day 18 – How Skinny Can One Get?

One thing I have learned through this trial is that we cannot depend on doctors and drugs to heal our bodies.  Yes, medications are used to help the healing process, however, it is the Lord who has control of our lives. His hand is in all the details!  We matter to God – He loves us so much that He died for us! 

Despite what happened around me, I needed to remember that God provides everything we need to be comforted. His word was there every step of the way.  There was not a day that I missed reading my Bible. And, there was not a day that went by where God didn’t provide solace and peace for my heart. He not only used His word but He also used my family and dearest friends to support me through some very difficult days. 

Not only does the caregiver need physical rest and nourishment, but the caregiver also needs spiritual rest and nourishment. She needs to keep her heart and mind fixed daily on God’s word in order to refresh the spirit within! The Bible is the living word of God and it provides the born again believer strength and grace in the midst of the storms of life.   

The day after John’s surgery, January 16, 2019, Celebrex was administered for pain and inflammation. It wasn’t long before we watched as he was scratching his neck and face. We noticed that he was breaking out in huge hives!  The ICU nurse administered Benadryl and the hives began to disappear. Oh how delicate our bodies are, amen? Not everyone reacts the same to medications. We came to the full realization that John was not your “typical” patient. The Crohn’s treatments were not beneficial to him at all, and neither was this.

John’s hemoglobin count was again down and he needed another blood transfusion. We have learned through this experience how important healthy blood is to the human body. The Bible tells us in Lev. 17:11  that “life of the flesh is in the blood.”  Whenever John got a transfusion, his cheeks would once again become nice and pink and his strength resumed. This day, he was doing so well that they moved him to the Progressive Care Unit. He had only been in ICU one day! I was rejoicing and praising the Lord that his body was responding well after the ileostomy! The ostomy was having healthy output and that also brought great comfort – it meant the “piping” was working 🙂   He had three little drains (shaped like clear plastic balls) that drained the abdominal fluids and blood from the surgery. Those drains came out this day as well, which was yet another praise! When the ileostomy was performed, they also had to remove John’s rectum and anus. The opening was sewn closed but, post surgery, there was still some mucus discharge. Adding to this dilemma, John was on blood thinners which caused bleeding, and needless to say, his bottom was still quite raw.  He was told that he would not be able to be in a sitting position for two to three weeks. For John, this would be a long three weeks. Have you ever tried not to sit directly on your bottom? It’s no easy task.

This day also began his physical therapy!  Just one day after surgery, he was made to move about in order to stimulate his small intestine. He still had a catheter, which made walking cumbersome, but he managed! They were now administering oxycodone for the pain, which helped tremendously.  He was also eating soft solid foods without throwing it back up. This was also a very good sign that the piping was working from the mouth all the way to the output! Thanks be to God! There are so many tiny details and the Lord was in all of them!


Click here for Day 17 – Every Ray of Hope Was Followed by Challenges.

A caregiver truly needs to take care of herself. Since May 2018 my focus was not so much on healthy eating.   Every bit of my energy was focused around John and his needs. I didn’t put my physical needs ahead of my husband’s for obvious reasons. I traveled three hours a day (nearly 1000 miles per week), every day while he was at UVA. At this point, I was losing my hair and both my hands developed eczema.  It’s amazing how our bodies react during stressful times in our lives, isn’t it? It’s so important to take time to rest our bodies and take care of them.

Because it was winter, I would leave the hospital around 3:30 and try to get home before 5:30 because I don’t like to drive in the dark.  Too tired to cook dinner for myself, I would often order out. Healthy nutrition was definitely not the goal at this time. Not only did I have to take care of John’s chores, but all of mine as well. I was not able to catch up and get things done on the weekends because John wanted me there with him.  Each night, I would finally crash in my recliner around 9:00 and promptly fall asleep. John was not the type of patient to understand about all that I had on my plate. He was in a strange place and wanted me there no later than 8:30 every morning. I would stay all day and there were times when I was unable to leave by 3:30 because we would be waiting to talk with his physician. Those days were especially long.  I had absolutely no time to myself and in hindsight, I can now understand why my body was exhibiting physical signs of distress. 

John had responded very well to the nutritious IV’s and was now healthy enough to undergo surgery. On January 15th the doctors performed an ileostomy.  Procedure began at 3:00 pm and it required two surgeons to work on him at the same time. I prayed with both doctors and asked God’s blessings upon them and that He would guide their hands as they worked on my beloved. We were told that the operation would take anywhere from four to six hours.  His surgeons expected it to take every bit of six hours because of all the scar tissue from John’s previous hernia surgeries. My dear friend, Sandy, and my son Adam, sat with me as we waited for the results. Countless prayers were being laid at the Throne of Grace by friends and family. Psalm 77:14; “Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.” 

We all prayed that the Lord would show up in a mighty way and display His power and grace…and that He did!  Surgery took only three hours! The surgeon called at 6:00 p.m. to notify me that all went better than expected and without any complications!   Oh, how we rejoiced!!!  We were all relieved and in tears! The Lord had answered our prayers!  Sandy knew we’d be there late waiting to see him so she had reserved a hotel room so we wouldn’t have to drive all the way back home that night. 

We got to see John around 9:00 p.m. He was awake but still very groggy – they had him on some pretty strong painkillers. Despite all that, he was in good spirits and resting comfortably!!  Thank you, Lord Jesus!!!  

Needless to say, I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep that night!   

Click here for Day 16 – The Blessings Begin to Flow.