Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Winner and a hand full of grace.

“But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.” 
― Anne LamottHelp Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

The winner of my 25 dollar Barnes & Noble gift card, is number 15 on the list of comments, 


Please email me at with your mailing address and I will get it off to you in the mail!

Thanks to everyone for participating.  


I go back in my mind wondering where this "next chapter," began, with my mom?  As the doctors have tried to piece together my Mom's medical history, to try to figure out ways in which to help her, I've sat,  soaking in so much.  

The pain seems excruciating in her back.  I've had cancer in my spine, and I know the agony of bone pain.  To think she is 79 years old and going through this, is too hard to fully grasp.  She fully expresses her pain is a "10," and this is the first time, ever, I've heard her say this. 

Her doctors all agree she is in a critical condition with her liver disease, renal failure and yet another, compression fracture. 

But we've had some grace-filled moments along the way.  Anne Lamott, has said one of her 3 essential prayers  is "help."

And I've uttered a lot of "help," prayers lately.  

We've had some long days and nights together, just mom and I.  

Like last Wednesday, in the ER, when my mom was in need of a hospital room, along with 9 others.  We waited hours, while we heard about the waiting room overfilled with people seeking medical help, too.

Then suddenly- later in the night, they had a room - 741.  

The 7th floor, is the Oncology floor.  I have been there several times.  I knew what a blessing this was for my mom, because of the kind of care she would receive.

And she did.  

Compassion, warmth, understanding and lots of TLC.  Its one of the first times my mom was not begging to be let out of the hospital.  So often, she didn't even need her call light, because someone was always poking their head in the door just to see if mom needed anything. 

So who would be one of the first friendly faces I would encounter?  

Dr. Shelby Terstreip.  While she is not my oncologist, she has asked me to be involved in many ways, with the Embrace Survivor program for a long time now.  She is behind the stories I have done, the talk at the Health Retreat, and so many other things.  

She is the one, who kindly, and graciously, mentioned she could act as a consultant to my mom, as she was the on-call oncologist and would be around all weekend. 

Speaking of an embraceable moment- that one fell right into my lap.

Mom had so many wonderful nurses and nurses aids.  But it was mom's nurse, Megan who recognized my embrace bracelet from the retreat.   Breast cancer has also touched her family, and we found an instant bond in that moment as our eyes locked over the bracelet.  Megan sought out answers for me.  She went the extra step, every time we needed something.  And she laughed, wholeheartedly at my mother's silly jokes.  

More grace.

Slowly mom improved.  Shelby ordered an iron infusion, and mom perked up so much after that.  Her blood work results continued to rise back into the normal range.

Sunday, mom was set to be discharged.  We just needed the doctors to come and sign the orders.  

But… the hospital had all kinds of emergency admissions again.  And the same doctors were being dispatched all over the floors- never quite getting back to mom.

So she stayed the night one more time.

And now I see why.

We could have been mad, or frustrated, or anxious about her extra night's stay.


Monday I arrived, to a confused and exhausted mother.  She could barely move, hardly talk, was hardly there.  The woman who had been walking the halls, and gabbing on the phone, had disappeared within herself. Watching her riddled with pain and exhaustion, I was hit with such sadness, I could only sit and surrender how inept I felt. 

I was teary-eyed with exhaustion and worry.  "Help, God, help."  

I paced.  My husband came often, sitting with me, bringing me food, offering his help in whatever ways he could.

The nurses checked everything.  Her heart was strong, her labs were good, no fever, clear lungs, check, check, check.  Underneath, whatever was going on, mom was good. 

So I paced some more. And mom slept, all day.  I've never seen her do anything like that before. 

And then at some point "SHE" walks in the door of my mother's room.

"She," was the social worker.  

And she was smiling so big.

The social worker has been in constant contact with Bethany Towers, mom's assisted care facility.   They have concerns over whether my mom was physically ready to come back and manage on her own.

So the social worker had been working on a place for mom.  She had heard there was no space available at a Transitional Care Unit, which would have been a great in between place for my mom.  But then they called her back and suddenly, In the blink of an eye, they had a space for my mom, for Tuesday.  She couldn't explain how that had happened, just when it was exactly what we needed. 

Mom was going to be going to a brand new care facility for rehab, Bethany on 42nd, until she got her strength back, and it would all be covered by Medicare. 

The social worker hugged me, as the tears welled up in my eyes, yet again.  Grace- raining down.

She even arranged transportation for us, knowing I had infusion yesterday.

I hustled through infusion and raced up to mom's room.

Mom was sitting up, dressed, ready to go.  

We spent the afternoon, acclimating mom to her new place.  She has a beautiful room with a big window, and a big attached bathroom, all to herself.  Its twice the size of her other room and her eyes lit up when she saw the lift recliner sitting by the bed.

There are only 13 residents, and she gets one to one help with everything for up to 20 days.  

I came home last night, after a long week of hard, hard stuff, crawled in bed, and collapsed.

But my prayer had changed.

Anne's other essential prayer, formed on my lips, as I drifted off to sleep.

Thanks, God, thanks.  

“But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.” 
― Anne LamottHelp Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers


  1. Good to hear your Mom will get the help she needs! Get as much rest as you can while she has this great one-on-one care. xox

    1. Thank you, Bonnie- yes, I am spent. Emotionally, physically spent. So I am resting and recovering, while mom seems to be making small improvements each day. Blessings and love to you!

  2. Try and get some rest too! Stress takes its toll on all of us. Glad your. Mom is getting the are she needs! Love you!

  3. So happy things worked out for your Mom. Anne Lamott is a favorite of mine. I heard her speak in person at a New Age fair many....many...years ago. She was so warm and FUNNY. I've read all her books and always recommend "Bird By Bird" to people even if they're not writers. Her simple prayer covers it all.

    1. Isn't Anne Lamott, great! Such a fresh, insightful and grace-filled perspective on life. I'm excited to see a new one is due out (I think… soon.) I have to double check- but pretty sure this is true. And how cool- to have actually heard and seen her!! xxoo

  4. Vicky, I can't imagine everything you are going through, for your Mom, or yourself. God bless you, both! I have y'all in my prayers! Is there any way they can do a vitamin assay on your Mom? It might help to replace the things the drugs deplete from her body.

    1. Yes- Dr. Terstreip ordered a bunch of tests to determine what levels all kinds of things were at in her body. We won't get results for awhile, but she wants to make sure we fortify her with as much as we can- especially with those fragile bones!

  5. I'm so glad that the answers, the care - came just when you needed them. Thanks be to God!

    Now you can take some time to rest and catch up.

    I love Anne Lamott :-)

    1. I am definitely resting up- so spent- it feels good to just cave in and take it slow. Love to you, Susan!

  6. My dear friend,
    I am so sad that your Mom has had such a hard time and has been in so much pain.
    She is in my prayers every day. Love the picture of the two of you. What a blessing that you can be there as she weathers these storms.

    And yet, in the midst of so many challenges for your Mom, prayer after prayer was answered. I LOVE seeing how God works miracles and provides rooms and answers
    the call for "help!"

    Holding you up for strength and peace during this time, and always!
    Love you to the moon and back again, Vicky!

    1. Linda- you bless me so. Thank you! I had nothing but my love and presence to give to my mom, and yet I felt the hand of mercy underneath us, helping us, when I felt so overwhelmed. Love you right back, dear one~

  7. Such beautiful faith through the darkest of times. Your words just glow. May you and your Mom continue to improve! Your words, quotes and experience always make my day.
    Thank you!!

  8. I'm so glad you have this time to rest in the fact that this is a good facility and your mom will be watched over and taken care of well. Please rest and take care of YOU now and let all these pieces that came together like a major puzzle show you that God knows you cannot do this all alone and that He is sending in the cavalry - and the Calvary. Love you, Vicky.

  9. Yes, Thanks, God, Thanks for all the blessings and the gifts you got sent this week-end. Thanks for your strength and for the joy of spending time with your mom even in those hard conditions. Sending you even more love and strength and energy needed to face the rest of the week.
    It's amazing to know your mom is now in very capable. I am praying for you to be able to rest and regain your strength as I have the feeling you are physically and emotionally spent

  10. I am so sorry that your Mom, yourself, and family, have been going through so much. My heart goes out to you. My spirit did soar when I read that she will have a brand new facility (and great staff) to be with her, and she will be in good hands. That is truly remarkable. Hopefully, this will also allow you a little bit of extra rest that you need. You are a loving daughter, and a remarkable human being. Sending lots of love to you from Ricka.

  11. My dear Vicky, I just posted regarding you and your Mom. But I also want to humbly thank you for winning your Barnes and Noble gift certificate! I was so excited, I cried! I will send you my address to your email address, as you requested, but want to thank you for such a wonderful gift. I know it was a random pick. I am just thrilled that God sent a surprise to me today, via wonderful, brave, beautiful YOU! Thank you! Lots of (((HUGS!)))), ---Ricka

    1. I was so excited to count down and see your name, Ricka! I will get the gift card in the mail to you soon. Big hugs and much love back to you!

  12. Big Hug from Connecticut - saying a prayer that your mother will find peace and comfort and a regaining of strength - for you too - xo

    1. Thankful for your encouraging words and I'm hugging you back big right now :)

  13. Just felt my heart twisting as I read this. Vicky, I think my understanding of Grace grew tenfold reading about you and your mom. You are so precious, my friend.

    1. Julie, I truly have felt like nothing was under my control this past week- for neither my mother nor I. I stayed in surrender, for once, unable to think in any way I had any control. So when I was "helped" it just felt like it came from such a place of grace. Thankful for your encouraging words. Much love to you!

  14. so very grearful for all the moments filled with the lords, 'utter grace'. It seems he really had this covered. I cannot imagine the double duty...of fighting cancer and being there for your mom.... May his Grace continue, may it hold you up, inspire you, be a place of rest and comfort and may you know always just how much you are loved!

    1. Thank you Peggy Sue- I am so spent, and am just so grateful that you send me so much love and prayers, that somehow I am able to keep going when I need to. Love you friend~

  15. So thankful for the grace filled and God infused moments you have had. God really is so Good no matter what!
    Praying for you and your mom - sending you a big hug!

  16. What a saga!! So grateful for the opportunities you had to see God that work to answer your prayers.


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