Saturday, May 14, 2011

How LONG it has been!

It has been....a good year or so since I have updated this blog. Part of the reason was because the last post was just so.....perfect. I loved keeping up the post of the provision of the Lord on that page. He is so kind, so merciful, so perfect.

Also, I have been deep into other projects, life, etc. I am not even sure if this blog will continue, but I was so greatly heartened today by another blog I saw, that I was moved to post on mine. The new blog is this one: http://aspiring-homemaker.blogspot.com It was a balm for my soul this morning.

I so greatly admire these women who find such peace and joy in keeping their own house. They see such beauty, there is such simplicity. I know that this can become an idol to some of us--we cannot worship the past, nor the life that is different than what we have. The Lord puts us where we are for the reason He sees fit. The woman who lives in a 762 sf condo in the middle of a large city is just as right there as the woman who lives on 10 acres in the country (ahem, or the southern girl who was planted quite firmly in the snow for the past 11 years...but I digress... lolol).

I know that that is a lesson the Lord is teaching me--that there is a season and a time. I just turned 40, my eldest child is about to be a junior in high school, and my husband is retiring in the next year. OH what a tumultuous time this is for me, what a soul searching "Holy COW where did the time go? Have I missed my own life while waiting for it to start?!?!?!" sort of feeling the past few months have been!

But the Lord is merciful. There is TIME. One of the greatest gifts He gives us is ETERNITY. He has been working on me every single day of these 11 years. I have changed tremendously since we pulled into North Pole Alaska so many years ago, with a newborn and a 3 year old. There is time. There is time. There is time.

So here I sit, ready to start blogging again. I think that my struggles of "Who am I? What is my purpose? What is the life that the Lord wants for me?" are very common at this stage of human development--almost like a second adolescence. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Perfect Moment

My best memory of this time of trial was when I was driving back to the hospital from checking into my new hotel. I had wanted to stay on billeting on base, but they would not be able to allow me to stay the whole time. There were several thousands of troops being deployed in the area, and most everything was full.
The problem was that the medical orders I was on only gave me $55 per night for a room. That would have been fine if I had stayed on base. However, off base the rooms were $118 plus tax. If the military did not pay, I would have to pay over one thousand dollars out of pocket.

The lady at the hotel did not think it was a problem. She said that what she was quoting me was the going military rate.

However, I had talked to a military liaison person who works with families who have loved ones in the hospital. He was fairly sure that the money I got was all I would be given. He was trying to get me into the Fisher House, a place for families to stay close to the hospital.

Frankly, I did not care where I stayed. I just wanted somewhere clean and safe with a bed and a bathroom.

After I heard the fellow tell me that I probably would not get the extra money, I was a little anxious. Well, frankly I flat out said “I am NOT paying the difference.”. At this point I was too tired, too DONE to even think about playing a game of pennies.

I went ahead and checked into the new hotel, figuring I would just deal with whatever comes. I always could argue the bill with the military later, but it was low on my list of priorities that day.

I remember that I was thinking about how the Lord provided for everything so far. So far, everything had been the hardest, but easiest thing I had ever done. The Lord provided my every need in miraculous ways. I remember praying in the car “Lord, You have done so much. I know You are taking care of me. I trust You to take care of this too.”.

That was a perfect moment for me. My prayer was not desperate, not pitiful, not hurried. It was a simple statement of fact from a soul that ABSOLUTELY KNEW THAT I KNEW that He would provide abundantly. I did not have to worry or be concerned. I did not have to lift a finger. He would take care of this as He had taken care of everything else.

I do not know where that faith came from. It was the Holy Spirit assuring my spirit. It was not me, it was all Him. It was not that I was trusting as much as He was so faithful that I could not deny His presence, mercy, kindness, grace. He was more firm than the earth and more prevalent than the sun. He was faithful and perfect, and I could do nothing BUT trust Him. To not trust Him in that moment would be like not trusting gravity or suddenly believing in tooth fairies. To not trust Him would be to deny reality. THAT is what it was! Faith, in that moment, was reality. I did not have the “Lord, I hope this works!” sort of faith, but the rock solid, “of course it is going to work. This is reality. His mercy is more reliable and less requiring thought than I would need if I dropped a ball. I know that the ball would fall to the earth with gravity, and I know He will provide just as faithfully.”.

No, even those analogies are not quite right! How can I explain when His mercy is SO perfect and SO there and SO visible that even the assurance of gravity pales in comparison to the assurance of His taking care of me? I do not have the words. I pray the Holy Spirit makes this clear to you, as it is an incredible faith builder.
So I prayed and knew with NO doubt that He would provide. It was one time where my mind could not overthink me out of faith. My doubts, so numerous in my life, could not overcome my seeing His perfect faithfulness. Nothing could shake me in that moment.

And faithful He was. I prayed, called Stephanie Roland, and sure enough, the paperwork was cleared up without a hitch.

I think of that moment. I pour over it like a first sweet kiss from someone you know you will marry. I linger over it like remembering the feeling of scoring the winning point. I love to think of it and remember my feeling of solid faith. It soothes me. It calms me. It literally eases my physical tension or stress. I hope that I can get that solid faith again. I want to live every day in that peace and faith. It was so perfect, so strong, so peaceful, that it makes it easy for me to let go of every single hurt, pain, irritation, anger, frustration that I have had. I just want to let every earthly, worldly thing go and dwell in that feeling of faith and peace and assurance.

Monday, November 30, 2009

ICU 2nd Night

I stayed with him the first night and no one said anything. The second night, I expected to stay with him again. It did not occur to me to leave him. I could not leave him there all alone. My fatigue numbed mind conjured up the idea that I was useful, that my presence could mean the difference in seconds if he stopped breathing or something. While the nurses took exceptional care of him, they were not with him every second. I was there though. However, now that I have had rest and am thinking clearly, I know that the Lord had it all in His hand—whether Ash lives or dies is not up to me, but up to Him.

Anyway, at some point she came in that second night and pulled the curtain between me and the window to the nurse’s station…
“Could you do me a favor?” she asked.
“Sure”
“Could you move back into that corner? “ I realized that she was trying to hide me. They were going to try to make me go home.
“Is someone upset that I am here?” I ask. I am sorrowed both that someone is upset with me, and that I might have to leave.
“Yeah, but don’t worry about it. We will just put you here—out of sight, out of mind.” She said cheerfully. It was not so easy for me though, I am very much a rule follower and she had been so nice, I did not want to get her in trouble.

“I do not want to get you in trouble! I can leave if you need me to.”
“Oh no, you stay. The charge nurse is just being grouchy. He gets that way. Don’t worry about it.”. I miserably pulled my chair to the corner as she left. I could not handle this, and prayed. At least I think I prayed. To be honest, I cannot remember, but I am sure I must have. I was out of strength, out of resources and He was the only link I had to lean on. I had nothing left.

She came in a little while later and talked to me about it. I told her again that I could leave. She said “No, in fact I made a husband stay with another patient. I moonlight at xyz hospital and I like the way they do it. They call it family care, and they bring beds in for the family to stay, and kids can come in and everything. I do not agree with the policy here.”.

While I was relieved that there was another rule breaking spouse in the ward, I was a bit worried. What if I needed to go to the bathroom? I would have to go past the nurse’s station, then be buzzed back in.

“Do I need to just hide here til morning?” I asked
“Oh no! “ she said “Come and go as you please. Do not feel that you have to not go to the bathroom or something. I talked to him and told him that you were staying. He knows. I asked him if it was his time of the month.” She chuckled a bit there, but not unkindly. Then she continued “He said to me “Who do you think you are breaking the rules?” and I said “I’M FAMILY CARE!”. She laughed again. “And then I gave him some chocolate. No problems. He just gets this way sometimes.”.

So I stayed that night. I sat in the chair by Ash's bed with a pair of heavy hunting socks and sandals, trying to keep warm and getting snatches of sleep, but terrified that I would be asleep and Ash would stop breathing or something.

However, early the next morning, the past three days started catching up with me. I had only slept about 5 hours of the past 72, if that. My last food of substance had been one scarfed down piece of pizza at home before the flight on Monday, and this was Thursday morning. I noticed that my ears sounded hollow and I was slightly dizzy...I just felt unwell as I roused from sleep.

Jolene came into the room, and I started to become more awake. I also started struggling mightily in my spirit.

Sometimes it seems like there are two "me's". One was the "me" who really loved and depended on the Lord, and the other was a bad, cold, disbelieving "me" who rejected Him or something. I cannot explain it well. It was a spiritual attack, a continuation of what had plagued me Monday morning before Ash had gone for the CT scan. I prayed hard, felt alone, felt cold, felt close to Him, felt a million miles away. I struggled and prayed. I had no strength for this. I realized that I was feeling faint and sick. I was not sure what to do. I did not want to tell anyone that I was feeling so bad—I wanted to seem neither weak nor whiney nor take attention from Ashton. I just felt ill. I was utterly spent.

“We are going to give you a bath” Jolene told Ashton. “you can help” she said to me. I honestly could not manage any stimulation at that point, but thankfully she was busy doing something.

“I’ll be right back. I am just going to run to the bathroom,” I said in as calm and upbeat a voice as I could muster. My thoughts were not logical or reasonable, I was afraid that I would be sick. I was afraid that I would pass out in the bathroom and no one would come in to find me for hours. I also did NOT want the attention of someone who falls out on the floor. I did not want to hear myself mutter “No, really, I’m ok” as they take my blood pressure and give me IV fluids. I would be mortified, embarrassed. They would make me go home, and maybe not come back to be with Ashton. I was afraid to leave the bathroom, as it was a place of quiet and safety, but I also needed to get back to Ash and help.

“Lord, please. I feel so bad. Please, please do not let me be sick. Please let me feel better. I cannot do this with You.”. I said as I made my way to the bathroom. I noticed that the bathroom had been recently cleaned, and I was grateful for that. Public bathrooms are not my favorite thing.

I started feeling slightly better after using the restroom, however, I knew that my strength was totally gone. I did not even have enough mental or emotional energy to will myself to press on. I was dull of mind and weak in body. As I walked back to the ICU, I googled “Severe exhaustion”. I wanted to see if I was reaching a dangerous level of exhaustion, if there was such a thing. Is there a time where your exhaustion is so bad that your body starts to shut down? I was not sure. I was afraid that I would snap mentally or collapse physically. I thought about how my immune resistance must be gone. I was afraid that I would pick up some terrible germ through the cut on my toe that I had gotten before Ash went to surgery (I read way too much about resistant bacteria).

Please understand that I did not dwell on me for me! I just did not want to be weak, be a casualty. I wanted to be strong. The Lord had allowed me to be strong so far, and people thought I was. I did not want to fail.

The only things I found on severe exhaustion were either mentioning adrenal problems or were quasi medical sites talking about wholeness and wellness. I realized that it did not matter anyway--what would I do even if I found out that I was severely exhausted? I would not leave Ash, and I would not tell the nurse “I googled severe exhaustion and found that I have many of the symptoms”. Yeah, right.

So I walked into the room, and again the Lord provided me strength I did not have. I helped Jolene bathe Ashton, and was no longer nauseated or faint. I forgot that I had even felt that way! The Lord had provided supernaturally the strength I needed. I now understand what Paul meant when he said “When I am weak, then I am strong”. That spiritual battle was over. I was ready to help my husband. The Lord made me capable when I was not. He sustained me.

First night in ICU

Dr. Ha led us into ICU. There Ashton lay with tubes and monitors and a big white bandage on his head. I expected more blood or more bandage, but he looked neat and comfortable. His left eye was a bit bruised, but not terribly, and the swelling was less than I expected. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised.

Ash’s folks and I came up to him and talked to him. He opened his one eye groggily and answered our questions in a voice that was soft but not terribly weak. His folks did not stay long…they were exhausted from a long flight. However, I think they went back to the motel greatly relieved to see that Ashton pulled through the surgery.

I stayed, though. Ben was the first ICU nurse. He was a tall fellow with warm brown eyes, but a manner that seemed to be both tender and guarded at the same time. I wondered if something had happened, if he was hurt by a girlfriend or something in the past. It did not seem to me like he was just maintaining a professional distance, but rather it seemed like a struggle to him…like part of him wanted to be open, but part of him insisted on maintaining a bravado or a guard. I am probably wrong, but that is how it seemed to me.

He was very patient with my questions. All of them. I was very thankful.
At one point, he had to do a neuro check on Ashton. These checks involved telling ashton to push down with his feet, pull up with his feet, grasp a nurse’s fingers tightly as he could, and follow a light. They also asked him questions. The first night we were talking about what day it was. I mentioned that it was Wednesday. Ben looked straight at me with a raised eyebrow and said “No, it’s not.”. That unnerved me a bit. I mean, I could have sworn it was, but I was so exhausted, that it was entirely possible I was wrong. In fact, the only reason why I thought it was Wednesday was because I thought I remembered us watching After The Catch on discovery channel the night before his surgery, and that comes on on Tuesday.

“No, I think it is Wednesday” I said confused and desperately trying to sort my days and nights in my head “I thought we watched deadliest catch last night.”.
“No, its Thursday” he said, going to his computer.
“Are you serious!? Did I lose a whole day?” I asked. It really was bothering me. He typed a bit on his computer and then said “Oh, no, you are right, it is Wednesday….you have to excuse me, I have been on nights for two weeks straight…” he seemed a bit embarrassed.

“Oh no problem” I said, secretly relieved that I had not lost a whole day.
I engaged Ben in light conversation—my usual questions of where he was from, how long he had been there, etc. I wish I could tell you more about him, but I do not remember anything he said. It was a total blur.

I do remember watching what I came to call “The Ashton Show”. It was a monitor that he was hooked up to. It measured his heart rate, his blood pressure through an arterial line, his temperature, his breathing rate, and his breathing rhythm. The first day, sometimes an alarm would go off when his oxygen level would go down. I was not sure if that was ok, but I knew the alarm was going off in the nurses’ station and no one else seemed to be troubled by it. Eventually his oxygen rate would raise back to normal. Soon I realized that this was par for his course—his apnea had gotten to the point where his oxygen level would go in the 80’s until he sputtered or stirred. “We need to get this taken care of. This is out of control.” I made a mental note to myself. I cannot imagine how exhausted he must be every day if every few minutes of sleep he was not getting enough oxygen. If he pulled through this, I wanted him to be able to rest well.

I even considered that maybe this is why his tumor has grown. I read at one point that people will try to boost their oxygen level in their blood to keep cancer at bay. While I prayed this tumor was not cancer, it would not surprise me if somehow the apnea played a part in it.

I did not know what to do with Ash when I got in the ICU. I asked Ben “Should I let him sleep or keep pestering him?”.

“What would you want to do if you just had brain surgery? Let him sleep.”.

“Ok.” I said. It might seem like a stupid question, but I was wondering if it would be better to keep arousing him. I was afraid he would slip away into a coma and we would not know it. That makes sense, right? Well, maybe it doesn’t, but it did to me at the time.

Right before 7 pm, Ben started making his last chores before he got off duty. I was bummed that he was going off duty. I was not “bonding” to him, but he was becoming familiar in such a strange, scary time.

For the night shift, a new nurse came on duty. I will be honest, I was hoping that it was not a female. It sounds bad, but sometimes I do not get along well with females. I tend to get along better with males. I like females, but I tend to put women off. However, this little Chamorro girl named Jolene was our new nurse for the night. I soon was praising God for her, as she was kind and open and friendly. She and I talked about Alaska, as she had been there. She was also from Guam, so she and I had that in common as well, as my dad had been stationed there when I was in high school.

I watched her through the night, happy when she stayed to chat with me. Her fingers were short and slim, and they moved with a quick, odd movement, almost like they danced.

Another female nurse came in, and I expected the old “two against one” thing. You know how a group of three girls can get. When there are three, generally one girl ends up being the goat, or at least that is my experience. I figured that they would chat and laugh and I honestly expected thinly veiled hostility. The new nurse had the beautiful skin of a half black, half asian, though I do not know if she was. She had black hair with big curly waves and a t-shirt that I think said “I <3 miami”. Her name was Michelle.

However, again the Lord worked kindness in my life. She was very attentive to me. They brought me a chair, and she brought me a stool to prop my legs on. I had declined a comfortable chair at first, but they insisted later. They also brought me a heated blanket. I cannot tell you how much I was not expecting this. They both talked to me about Alaska, and I got excited to share interesting tidbits about my state.

At one point, I was in the midst of talking about how the sunlight changes through the year. Suddenly Ashton started to cough and then vomited blood. I must say, I am very squeamish about throwing up—when I get sick, I get faint and shocky feeling. In fact, if I know someone is sick, I will stay away from them for a week or two until I know they are FULLY recovered. I flat out tell my friends “If you or your kids have a cold or a fever, feel free to come over. But if you have a tummy bug, I will see you next spring.”.

However, the Lord gave me peace in my mind, even seeing my husband spitting out his own blood (a picture that is burned into my mind). We all came quickly to his side. I gently wiped the blood from his mouth and shirt as Michelle and Jolene suctioned and cleaned up behind him. I was afraid for him, as vomiting blood never seems like a good thing.

However, Michelle, probably seeing my face, quickly and casually mentioned that it looked like old blood, and Jolene (also quickly) agreed that it was probably drainage from the surgery. That made perfect sense, as he must have swallowed quite a bit during the repair of his sinuses.

His tummy stayed tender for the next two days. They tried to get him to eat with very little success. He was miserable. He would try to eat a bite then have to breathe through the nausea through pursed lips. Dr. Ha talked about how he needed to eat protein as each day laying down, the body would digest its own muscle, not fat. He told us that even morbidly obese patients will be nutritionally deficient as they are bedridden (NOT that Ash is morbidly obese!). I felt so bad for him, but there was nothing I could do but encourage him to eat as much protein as he can and hope it stays down. They tried zofran and reglan, but nothing seems to do much for long. They also tried to get him to take percoset instead of morphine, but they thought that was what was making him sick the first time, so he stayed on morphine.

I was surprised at the low level of his pain. They had severed a muscle in his cheek, had unroofed his eye socket, rebuilt a sinus, and removed part of his skull, but he kept saying that the pain was just a 3 or 4. His bad headaches were an 8 or 9. I was sort of hoping that he would back off the morphine and go to Tylenol. I know that was silly of me, but I was eager for him to be better. Come to find out later that that would have been a good idea—it was the morphine that was making him so ill.

Back to Jolene….I noticed that she wore no makeup, but was beautiful. I felt very comfortable with her. Even more so on the second night. The official rules of the ICU (and the med surg ward) were to maintain visiting hours. However, in the med surg ward before his surgery, no one told me I needed to go home. I think it was because they realized that this might be our last night together. It makes me sad to think of that, but thankful they let me stay.

I did not want to leave Ash alone in the ICU either. To me, he was still touch and go. Dr Ha said that the first 24-48 hours were where most of the bad stuff would happen, if it was going to happen. My husband was still in the path of danger, and I did not want him to be there alone.

The Surgery Pt 2

The Surgery Pt 2
The surgery was going to take hours. I had to leave to go meet Ash’s folks at the gate to the base to sponsor them. I hated leaving…I mean, what if they needed me for something? But I was also eager to see his folks.

I got to the visitor’s center and waited for what seemed to have been forever. I finally saw them drive up and walk to the door. Then his dad said “There she is…there’s Sister”….I know this sounds weird but that meant so much to me for him to call me sister, to be recognized as more than just the woman their son married. They have not EVER made me feel badly, not at all! They are godly, wonderful people. I just was very insecure. Then they gave me a huge hug. I was so thankful to have them there!

And then I cut them off driving and almost ran them off the road. Sheesh.
Understand that I live in NORTH POLE, ALASKA. It gets about as much traffic as one might think a place called “North Pole, Alaska” gets. I remember we had lived here for a year or so and had some out of town guests that I had just picked up from the airport. “Aw man, we hit rush hour” I muttered apologetically. My guests burst out laughing. See, our “rush hour” lasts about 20 minutes and means that you have to slow down to 45 in a 55 mph zone for about ½ mile along this one stretch of highway.

So imagine me as driving like a bumpkin in my little non-descript go-cart, and them following in a nice rented Cadillac. We had to cross multi lanes to get from one side of the road to the access on the other side. To be honest, I have NO idea what I did, but I was crossing suddenly I looked behind and realized I was swerving in front of them on the on-ramp. Thankfully they either did not notice or did not hold it against me!

We got back to the waiting room, but this time it was pretty empty. I was afraid that we had missed the call and that he was in recovery without us there to support him. His parents and I talked for a while, showed pictures of nieces and nephews.
It was about suppertime, so I offered to show them where Anthony’s was so they could get a bite to eat.

Unfortunately, it was closed. I know it is silly, but I was quite embarrassed by that…as if I had not provided for my guests (in a place I had never been to in a situation I was unprepared for…yeah, it is silly, but it still was embarrassing).
Thankfully the chow hall in the hospital was open, though they did not have much at that time. Carlos got food for him and Nola and brought it back to Nola who had stayed in the waiting room.

I do not remember how much time passed, but eventually Dr. Ha came in to the room. That surprised me, as I was expecting the wall phone to ring. He told us first off that Ash had done well, and then proceeded to explain what was done.

This is where he brought out ALL of his analogies. He talked about elephants and rooms and babies and I do not know what else, all to describe how they removed the tumor. He greatly impressed all of us, even Ashton’s dad. We found out that they had to unroof the eye to get some of the tumor off of the bone, but that the tumor was not at the optic nerve yet, thank the Lord! He told us about bone involvement in the cheek, and how he did not think the tumor had infiltrated the brain, but that the pathology report would tell more.

Then he led us to the ICU to see Ashton.

The Surgery Pt 1

Ashton's surgery was for about....either 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Dr. Ha had another similar surgery that morning. That was difficult as it left ALL DAY to fret, but also good because we had time for the events in the previous posts.

They came to get Ashton and I to prepare him for surgery. We walked in and saw Dr, Ha talking with other doctors. They were laughing and joking. It is good to see doctors relaxed.

The room was large and had several bays, most with people in them that I could see. I wondered what everyone was "in for" (Ash calls me nosy, I prefer the term "concerned" hee hee). Who was sick? Who was hurt? Who was looking at their own mortality, and who was in there to get a thumb operated on? Seriously, I did not try to pry, but I also felt an urge to go around talking to everyone, seeing if there was any comfort I could give.

They brought a child who was going to have surgery. She was being wheeled around in a big red wagon filled with blankets and toys. I thought that was brilliant. She looked a lot calmer than we felt.

The fellow who came to put in the IV's etc was a man with really beefy hands. His fingers looked knobby and calloused and I wondered what hobbies or illness he had to make his hands look that way. Guitar? No, that would not make calluses on the knuckles. Hmmm. I was a bit disconcerted by the fact that he did not use gloves. I had heard someone mention about working in the ER and if there was no break in the skin, there is no danger from disease.

Ash was scared, but quiet. He did not appear frightened, but I could tell. Thankfully the pre-op preps were quick and soon the man said "Kiss your wife, we are about to go". Ash gave me a kiss and they wheeled him down the room. Ash later told me that whatever they gave him, he remembers the kiss, and then nothing.

It is weird to be standing there, after they wheel your loved one. I had no idea what to do, where to go. Ash was where I could not go, and the surgery was going to last many hours. Ash's folks were due in, but not for a while. You just sort of feel lost, left out. Well, I did, anyway. It was almost like if Ash was not there, then I had no reason to be there—like he was my ticket and without him, I was just taking up space. It was odd.

Someone told me where the waiting room was, though I am not sure who. It was a medium sized room with a tv in the corner and a phone on the wall. The phone would ring and whoever was closest to the phone would answer it. On the other end was an operating team. They would ask for one of the folk in the waiting room. The person who answered would call out the name for someone in the waiting room. It was an odd sort of phone lottery—when the phone rang, we would all look expectantly, hoping the phone was for us, telling us things were ok.

Near to me was a group of young people. I remember them talking about their displeasure with the new uniforms. Complaining about new uniforms is practically a sport in the military, but in this case they were right—using Velcro to fasten pockets (where maps and flashlights and rounds are kept), which makes a big RRRIIIIIPPPPPPPPP sound when you are trying to do covert maneuvers is ridiculous.

I was so envious of that group of young people--supporting each other, laughing and joking. They were obviously there supporting a girlfriend or young wife of whomever was in surgery. I was pretty much by myself at that point, just me and God. I wanted to join in their conversation, but I was too shy to even attempt it.

Now, to be honest, I would rather have the Lord than a bunch of people, but I am also human and sometimes I just want people around me. But that also seems to sum up a lot of my experience--the Lord puts me in positions where I have to focus on Him, not on a lot of people around me. I like it, it works well and keeps me focused properly.

However, soon I struck up a conversation with a lady sitting close to me. She was a very devout Catholic and noticed my headcovering. She and I talked about her life (she had had surgery decades ago for the same brain tumor that Ash had! In fact, I met MANY people who had that tumor or knew someone who did), as well as various missions and feasts. Because of my talk with the Catholic priest, I was able to mention a feast that she had forgotten about. I am not sure of the significance of that, but it was too perfectly orchestrated NOT to have been from the Lord. I mean, really, when does a hospital mess up enough to send you a Catholic priest who happens to mention a saint before he realizes you are protestant and needs to leave, and then just a short time later you strike up a conversation with a VERY devout Catholic woman who had forgotten a feast for a saint? Hmmm…. This is the first time it has ever happened to me! I am a firm believer in the Lord, not in coincidence! Somehow that needed to happen for some reason…I am just not sure why and I cannot WAIT to find out when I get to heaven!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day of Surgery—The “Promises Land” Flows With Milk

When I got back from my errands of finding a place to stay, Ash was not in the room. He had been taken for some tests.

His roommate was a man of 74 years. He was healthy as an ox and sharp as a tack. He biked 15 miles a day or something like that. Anyway, he was in the hospital for some digestive problems.

The first night Ashton was checked in, he did not know that he even had a roommate. Ash’s bed was closest to the door, and the curtain was drawn, so Ash did not know that there was another person there. Mind you, it was like 2 am. The nurses were checking Ashton in and were speaking loudly, turning on all the lights. When Ashton found out that there was a patient, he felt AWFUL for keeping him up. It was not his fault, of course, but he apologized anyway.

This man and his wife were wonderful. They even came to see us in the ICU and I am irritated with myself that I did not get their contact information.

Anyway, the day of surgery, Ash had been getting tests done, etc. I wanted to talk to the fellow some, though he was obviously considering watching a DVD. I feel badly, but I just ignored the DVD player and chatted for a few minutes. Not my most selfless moment, but at that point, I was not my best.

Because that man had digestive issues, they had put him on a full liquid diet. They kept pushing him to drink as much milk, juice, soup, etc as he could. Later the day of surgery, before Ash was taken back, the man asked me if I had eaten. Frankly I had not. I had had a piece of pizza on Monday and some candy and cokes and the biscuit that the clerk insisted that I eat from the hotel. I was just too wound up. I was running on fumes, and I knew it.

However, I assured him I was fine. Thankfully, he was not convinced. He had seen me in the room and knew I had not had any meals. He said “Here, why don’t you take this?” and offered me a carton off of his tray. I smiled politely “Oh, thank you so much, that is very sweet of you, but really I am fine.”. He insisted again. I assured him I was fine again, but he would not hear of it. So then I said “YOU are the sick one, you need this more than I do!”. He said “I have had enough, I cannot drink anymore.”. Then I laughed and said “The nurse is going to get mad if I eat your food.”. Then he said “Here, how about this: you drink that, and I will drink this” and he handed me a carton and gestured to a bottle of ensure that he would drink. That seemed a decent compromise, and frankly I was out of arguments. I took the carton. It said “Might Milk” on it. I was afraid it would taste like a vitamin shake, but I was going to drink it.

Now, typing this, I literally get tight in my chest and tears come to my eyes when I think of how wonderful that mighty milk tasted. Please understand that it was like drinking a liquid miracle. My body was so terribly desperate for nutrition. Every sip of that was a blessing, every drop was strength. Not only was it sustaining, it was delicious.

I polished off the carton in a matter of seconds. The man then offered me his milk. At that point, I firmly declined, with a smile, and said “Thank you so much. This was just what I needed. You go ahead and have that.”. He did not argue with me, but he did not drink it either.

Not very long after that, he was discharged to go home. After he left, I noticed that the carton of regular milk was sitting on his tray. I asked Ashton if I should take it. I knew that they would not give it to another patient, that it would be thrown away. I knew that I needed more nutrition. I knew that it was the Lord providing for me, so I drank that too.

The Lord fed me, literally fed me, using a wonderful, sharp, stubborn man with two extra cartons of milk. The Lord provided for my spiritual needs, my physical needs, my every need. That milk was just enough of what I needed to get through the 24 hours. In the Bible, the Lord said that the Promised Land flows with milk and honey. Apparently the milk comes in cartons and is delivered by 74 year old men :)

In all seriousness though, I muse if the Promised Land is not always a physical place, but a place with the Lord. That can be in heaven, or on the ocean, or in a hospital room. The Promised Land may be where we see that the Lord’s promises are sound, good, and here for us. Maybe I can call it “The Promises Land” and know that it is where my spirit and heart and mind and body are being provided for by the Lord God Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth. That Place where our needs are so overwhelming that only He can provide. That hallowed ground of desperate need and His Perfect Provision.
The Promises Land.