Friday, May 26, 2017

...become a lake

“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only things you can do is to enlarge your sense of things.... Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

-from an aging Hindu master taken from Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

As I look at this pic of me, and I sit trying to cobble together some words, I think, how the heck was this just merely a week ago?  I was all scrub-faced, cleansed, and ready to go into surgery.  They'd be coming for the "walk" soon.  You don't often see people walking to the OR by themselves.  But as long as you can move under your own power, why not?  So not only do you walk into the OR on your own, but you also place yourself on the table.  I had to keep scootching myself down the table to get in just the right spot.  Then they grabbed the line accessing my port and gave me a little "Mai Tai party concoction" to put me in twilight land... except my tolerance has grown... so we chatted a bit more before I clunked out.  

Waking up is always a sketchy experience to me.  I feel like I've gone somewhere, and I'm trying to "come back" but where the heck am I again?  I just feel shooting pain, and my words will only come out, one at a time.  So I say "Pain, pain, pain... there... as I poke the right side of my stomach."  They ask what it is on the pain scale and I say, 9? 9? 9?  My thoughts perseverate... until suddenly I start to relax into my recliner, and I calmly say, "8,"  just once, and slowly smile.  

I hear someone say, "thank goodness, she got a lot of fentanyl, and should be good for quite awhile."

I smile again and shake my head up and down, "7," I say and smile.  

But just as suddenly my stomach churns and my eyes grow big as I say,

"Vomit....ohhhh vomit, quick."

My nurse, thankfully is more than quick!  She grabs the plastic green bag, and just as quickly cracks open a vial of peppermint oil with jojoba.  She runs it past my nose a couple of times, and then lays in on my chest, so that I continue to breathe it in.  And it works!!  Slowly my stomach calms and as I feel like I'm drifting off to sleep, they say. "So are you ready for toast?  If you can eat, you'll be able to go home soon!"  

But the thought of the nausea has stayed with me, and an emphatic "no," comes out.  Yet barely a few minutes pass, and she mentions toast with jelly, or peanut butter, or honey... and she has me at honey.

Best toast I've tasted in awhile.  

Not long after that, I'm off to the restroom with help from my nurse.  I'm definitely sore.  And the color is tinged with blood, but I otherwise feel ok.  Sleepy, and ready for a nap, but doing ok.

I sit again, and my blood pressure reading sets the monitor off.  Its low, very low.  I'll be sitting awhile longer and getting some fluids in.

But its really just a few hours and suddenly I'm given the ok to go home! 

Is it a little sad to say, going to DQ after surgery has become a tradition?  Hehe.  Well, then so be it.  I just wanted a vanilla malt.  I could hardly keep my eyes open, but I could drink, and the sweet and sticky ice cream put me right in touch with joy again.  The blue sky, with the sunshine peeking through the clouds didn't hurt either.  I think of the quote- and the sky has me visualizing waves of a lake. 

I arrived home around dinner time and my friend Sue brings dinner all ready to eat.  Thank you, Sue! The boys ate, and I crashed.  I slept deep.  I slept long.  I shut out the world, despite the dings from my phone.  Everyone offered to silence my phone.  But those dings?  Are music to my ears.  Each one a prayer, a hopeful message, love coming through, so many words, from so many people, and it makes me feel less broken somehow.  Its like dipping my toes into the cool water of the lake.

Later that night, my friend Anne brings these beautiful pink flowers to set on my chair on my front porch.  I do it every year, and when it sat empty for awhile, she thought of the nicest thing to brighten my day.  She stays a good hour or so, and I am still pain free and doing pretty well.

A few days after that, these arrived! Another planter, perfect for my deck in the back.  Thank you to the Cheney family!  And yes... I found the...

Inchworm!  Isn't he cute- so fun to turn the pot around and suddenly see these two big eyes on an inch worm staring up at you!

We're simply blessed, and abundance pours through our door.  When your church friends, make a hot dish and bake brownies and just bring it humbly to your door- I can't say thank you enough.  Its comfort food, that nourishes our bellies and again, glues a few more bits of those broken places together.  Its also expanding the lake.  Thank you to the Narum family- you blessed us more than I can possibly say.

My thinking starts to change, I notice.  Because I'm human, and I wonder how much more I can do sometimes?  I'm hunched over, gripping my sides as I try to walk before I run out of breath.  I have just  little tufts of hair sticking up everywhere- more white than golden brown.  Oh how I've aged.  I feel it everywhere in my body- I'm uncomfortable at times, and pain-filled at others.  

But He calls me to do, and go through, and then He shows up- in the food, and the gifts, and the people who call or leave messages, or give our son a ride.  How can I NOT do this?  

And this last card, was just the word I needed to grip.  Plus the scripture inside?

Luke 1:37

For with God nothing shall be impossible.


Thank you to the Weiss family who brought the most soft hat to wear from an Etsy site called Hoodawear.  Hooda is soft, cute, and so comfortable to wear.  

I haven't gotten photos of everything.  My auntie made food that reminded me so much of my Grandma- as much as I miss my mom, Marny and Carol, my mom's sisters have both come for an afternoon of visits.  The facial expressions, the mannerisms, the words, the laughs- it brings my mother to me and I feel so comforted by just that.

So I'm going to a graduation party or two tonight.  I'm going to try to get out a bit, and enjoy seeing friends, and having some yummy food.  Then we'll be gone for a few days- while Grandpa comes to stay with Crosby we hope.  

In another week I'll see Dr. Panwalkar and we'll see how I am doing.  I had no symptoms before I had surgery, and I don't have any now.  I have no way to gauge how I am doing?  So I'll just go along with good.  I'm good, and that's all that really matters.  My "sense of things" sure has grown, and I am trying to be the best lake I can be.  

So grateful you all have become my tribe- and help me warrior on- in more ways than you could possibly know!  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hoping... and a prayer request


For those that don't get the Facebook posts: This is Rick: Vicky's surgery went well and the stent is in place between the kidney and bladder. We are hoping this will help her regain kidney function. She is back home now and resting, hoping for a quick recovery. We all thank you so much for your support and prayers - the Westra's.

"I considered the reality that sometimes suffering comes because of the decisions we make; sometimes it comes as a way for God to gauge His place in our hearts; and sometimes it comes simply as a byproduct in a world that is in a state of falling apart.  Yet no matter the origin of suffering, God's presence remains the same.  He finds us in our hearts, if we want to be found.  His power to filter the worst that life has to offer, with goodness remaining, is our great hope."  Jay and Katherine Wolf. Hope Heals.  

I've dog eared and underlined so many passages in the book Hope Heals.  Katherine and Jay spoke to me in ways that made me again feel as though they had walked a mile in my shoes and could tell parts of my story.  Even though she had a stroke, and spent two years living in a brain rehab- the wisdom they garnered breathed life into me.  I wanted to lean in closer, and re-read the words, because each time I gathered a bit more I could cling to.  

As I finished the book, I had to ask Him, "What are you preparing me for?"  So many long days and nights of one thing or another that has me in an uncomfortable place most of the time- with no easy answers, or quick fixes.

Its funny how you both know things are changing, and yet have no real idea how it might all play out.

Like today, when I had to go in for a renal scan just to keep an eye on what my kidneys were doing.  No big deal.  I'm not nervous, or even sweating it at all.  3 months ago I saw the urologist, and he felt we should do a baseline scan of my kidneys and then repeat them every 3 months.  But somehow, I got sick and couldn't make it in.  And I dropped the ball.  I didn't reschedule.

So there was nothing to compare this scan to...

And yet..

Rick came with me today.  And got to sit in the room while the scan took pictures for 35 minutes.  And he saw that at first?  Only 1 kidney showed up.

Then after they put some lasix in my iv?  Suddenly two kidneys showed up, as my bladder filled.

But after the scan we had two hours until the we saw the doctor for results.  

So we went to Blackbird Woodfire for pizza.

Its gloomy, windy and quite chilly outside.
The warmth from the pizza oven pulled us right in and the pizza was delicious.  
In little time we were whisked back to our car by the wind.
I barely sat down in the waiting room and I was called back to see Dr. W.

He just blurted it all out instantly.  As he flipped on the screen to show me the scan, he said I have my left kidney functioning at 75 percent, while the right kidney only functions at 25 percent.

He was sparse with his words, and I was trying to connect the dots.  

I finally said, "ok, if you were to put this in a category of little, or moderate, or 'oh its bad,' where am I at?

And without hesitation, he said "severe."  You are in sever kidney failure and if we don't correct it, you will lose the function of your kidney.  Then the bigger issue?  How long can the other one work?  And how much chemo will it be able to process?  

So my options?  Are to do nothing... or have him put a stent in.

Dr. W had already in our last appointment told me he dislikes the stent option.  They're painful, they can cause infections, and the list goes on and on.  Plus you have to replace them every 3 months.

But what I really needed to know?  What would Dr. P say?

I love doctors who say, "well why don't I just call him?"

So he did!!  Dr. W grabbed his cell phone, and within a few rings he is talking to Dr. P.  

And when he gets to the part about the stent?

I hear a resounding YES, lets do the stent.  No hesitation.  He is hopeful my new drug will work and we need that kidney to perform better.  He has hope.  

So I smile as I say after they hang up,  "So I guess we'll be doing surgery!"

And again he floors me, and says, "Yes, how about tomorrow?"

I guess "severe," goes hand in hand with "surgery tomorrow."

So at 9:15 am, I am set to go to the Same Day Surgery unit to have a stent put into my right kidney.  Its a short procedure, and if all goes well I should be able to go home tomorrow.  

Would you all pray for me?  That the stent placement goes well.  That with a compromised immune system, I don't garner any infection.  And that "all shall be well."  We have some teary-eyed boys in our house, can we be gentle with them? 

I'm still filled with hope.  Will you join me in believing too?

I'm closing this post with pics I meant to share a long time ago.  Nolan, with his sweet new friend, Taylor.  She was, simply stunning, the night of prom.  They made such a great couple.  

And she has been a wonderful guest at our house.  

We had a hint of spring that day... and it left us with just enough hope that we will enjoy more blue skies in the days ahead.

Rick will update everyone on Facebook tomorrow!  

~All shall be well~ 

Love and blessings to you all! 

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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