Saturday, October 31, 2009

Future Glory...Romans 8:18-27

My heart is breaking. It seems that everywhere I turn, I see death, destruction, heartache. Early this morning, one of our dear sweet YL girls, Abbey Tsumas, lost her life after a tragic car accident. I'm not writing this post to speak about details of this tragedy or even to write about memories of Abbey (though if you knew her, she was beautiful, funny, and so full of life...words cannot do justice in describing this young friend) I am however constantly reminded of words I have read over and over in Romans...Not just now and with this loss, but because my heart has just continued to break every day since last March.

First of all, please do not think that I am going to stand up and preach that everything happens for a reason, and this is what Christ had planned, or even that we are being taught a lesson. Paul does not write this in Romans so that in every bad event, we can brush it off giving some lame advice or piece of wisdom that God caused or made these terrible things to happen, and He just knows whats best. Because he did not. He does not work that way. "Sin has been, and is, the guilty cause of all the suffering that exists in the creation of God"(commentary by Matthew Henry). Simply put, we hurt because pain exists. Pain, hurt, worry, and fear and not from God. We understand these feeling because we are part of this world. As long as we are, we will feel evil and what is evidence of work on this earth that is NOT FROM GOD.

But, there is good news. These sufferings, pains, fears, loss, and feelings of despair are only temporary. They can only last as long as we are here in the present. Compare that with eternity and it is only but "for a moment" (Rom 18). We are waiting in "eager expectation" for what we know is true, right, and glorious! There is so much to anticipate and await. We will one day be made whole again with the "redemption of our bodies" and the welcoming arms of Christ. Abbey has been made whole again. Mom is whole again. Sara is whole. Katie is whole.

If we wait to be happy in life here, on earth, we will never truly be happy. It has to come from Hope. It has to come from Christ. These ladies had it, knew of it, and are experiencing what our minds cannot, in this worldly condition, understand or even fathom.

-----For in this hope, we are saved! Romans 8:24

So...pray. Please pray. Don't worry for the right words. They are there. They are in your groanings, in your pains, in your doubts, and worries. They are there when your "words cannot express". Be still. Seek Him....and Pray

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Can't Believe I Get To Do This

Seriously, my job is the greatest in the world. It isn't always the easiest, but I still don't understand why more people aren't lining up to do it. This week at club I got to teach a couple of guys I've known for 3 years now how to do a classic Young Life skit, and then sit back and watch them perform for their friends.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Please Pray

My dear sweet friend Anne shared this story recently with me and the family set up a blog to follow along. Sara is a young friend of Anne's. The same week Sara found out she was expecting a baby, she found out she also had breast cancer. They have been treating the cancer the best they can while she has been pregnant. Last week, she gave birth and were able to bring their healthy little girl, Chloe, home. A couple days later Sara collapsed in her home with seizures. Read their story here. She has been in the hospital since last Friday, and she is not doing well. Their family could use a ton of prayer.
Thanks

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I wish I could write and sing and play

Just watched this and began my Saturday morning in tears. I know most of you have probably seen this, and it's not new to you, and it is just another Taylor Swift song... But man, I miss my Mom! ...and when I stop and think about it, it is still fresh and raw. One day it won't be, and the blogs about missing her will space farther and farther apart. But for now, I love that missing her is a emotion that is so real and impacts my heart everyday. My conversations are richer, my empathy stronger, and my desire to know others more sincere. Perhaps one on the greatest gifts through this whole season has been the impact on my heart.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. --Ezekiel 36:26

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

disturbing thought about the crap we hang on to

I was reading on unclutterer.com recently and came across this in a blog about the self storage industry...

A Self Storage Association study showed that, by 2007, the once-quintessential client — the family in the middle of a move, using storage to solve a short-term, logistical problem — had lost its majority. Fifty percent of renters were now simply storing what wouldn’t fit in their homes — even though the size of the average American house had almost doubled in the previous 50 years, to 2,300 square feet.

I am disgusted. Mostly because lately as I spend more time at home, I have sensed my walls closing in on me. At first (and I'm sure it still is part of the reason) I thought that it was just because I'm getting stir crazy...seeing the same walls day in day out, while not having much on my agenda. But, I am also realizing that I am becoming quite lazy with my inactivity. Laziness breeds...well, more laziness and procrastination. I see a mess and though I may have time to deal with it, I convince myself that "I'm just too tired to deal with it now, or I'll just get to it later." ...and nope, I don't...instead I settle into a daily habit of avoiding cleaning, organizing, and throwing out. Why? At this rate my walls really will close in on me. In 30 years I'm afraid that I will own a space for self storage because my home has become too cluttered with boxes and trinkets covering every inch of tabletop, sitting, shelving, and closet space...I'll stub my toe on random items lying in the middle of the floor or cluttering every corner while their waiting for a home (when in reality, it's home should be the garbage!)

I don't want to live a life of clutter. A life of "hanging on till it comes in handy". A life of mementos. A life of dirt and filth, of laziness. I don't want to start walking down a road of hoarding. So, before it gets heading that direction...
It is time to throw out, donate, and put away my crap....and put into action "if I have not needed it or looked for it in the last year...then GET IT OUT OF MY HOUSE!" So, if you call me and I don't answer...I'm cleaning out my closets and going through my piles. Feel free to stop by and claim something you like. But, If you don't REALLY need it...Leave it for the dump. Thanks

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Lawn Man My Wife Always Wanted

I thought about making the title for this "Man-scaping" but I was afraid that my friends would avoid it and too many strangers might read it.

When Leigh and I got married, she used to fondly remember lawns of her childhood, meticulously cared for by Chuck. She also complained quite a bit about the work it required from her and her brothers every weekend, but that's a separate post (but if you ever want to rile her up, just say the words (poison potato). I told her that I would never become that man, that lawn care was not something that I cared deeply about and that she would just have to deal with it. I was wrong.

When Leigh and I moved into our house, this is what the front of our house looked like:



Notice the dead tree in the front yard, the patchy, weed ridden grass along with the poorly mulched bed completely devoid of any shrubbery, perennial, or annual. Also, if you look really close, you'll see the pride of new homeowners, completely oblivious to the painful new world we are entering into.




Shortly after this, the previous owners cut down the dead tree and ground up the stump as a condition of the sale. We were glad to have the tree gone, but the mud/wood chip pit/pile that remained was pretty ugly. After living in our house for a year, letting the weeds, erosion and decomposition have their way with the yard, I decided to lay down the law. Acting upon the encouragement of my wife and father-in-law, last spring I sprayed round-up over everything and tilled it all up. Then, with the help of my parents, we raked it all out, planted grass seed, and watered diligently. In a few weeks, our yard looked like this:



A lush, green lawn that any home owner would be proud of. Once I saw this, I was hooked. Suddenly, I cared about what my lawn looked like. I loved the feeling of walking across it barefoot. It gave me so much joy to watch Leigh and Miles play in it. This is what it was all about.

But this joy was going to be short lived.





You see, I reseeded in the spring. Weeds came up the same time as the grass. In the heat of summer, the weeds won. All of that hard work was lost. But I had not given up; after all, I was a converted lawn man. I'd hung a picture of Karl Troyer on the wall in my basement and kept a candle lit beneath it. There was no going back.

I decided to give Leigh a "Landscape Design" for her birthday. We had someone who knew his stuff come out and walk around the yard with us, ask questions about what we liked, and then draw up plans for us. After getting the plans in August, re-killing, re-grading and re-tilling, we purchased the first round of plants, 11 yards of mulch, and some grass seed and went to work. It all went something like this:































Today we came home from visiting my folks to see green sprouts popping up through the straw. That together with the magnolia, carpet roses, decorative grasses, gardenias and nandinas makes for a pretty thrilling front yard. Hopefully there won't be any updates on how it didn't work out, just pictures of Miles and Leigh having a picnic in the green grass later this fall.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jabba diaper dream

Ok...so, Brad and I are like the poster children of hippie here in statesville. Which is actually really hilarious. We are not big on recycling (Statesville only "sort of" recycles) I can't stand the smell of patchouli. I do reuse ziploc bags and maybe I am a little more passionate about "hormone free", "natural", and "organic" than I need to be. Oh yeah, I have my own grocery bags, but doesn't everyone these days? What puts us in the "hippie" category is actually just the fact that I LOVE...I mean LOVE cloth diapers. We get the strangest looks when people realize that we actually are okay with scraping poop out of diapers and rewashing them for use again. Why is this crazy? Outside from the initial set up of buying the diapers, its so stinking cheap. And...you're actually not really even supposed to dispose of human waste into landfills...which is where your rolled up turds in disposable diapers end up anyhow. If we were all being
responsible, it wouldn't be that uncommon or uncomfortable to scrape poop into the toilet everyday whether using cloth or disposables!

So, saying all that, I was super excited in Ikea when I discovered this! It is the Jabba hanging dryer. And...I was even more excited when I saw Real Simple highlight it in their October issue! I've been using it for about a month now and drying cloth diapers could not be easier! I no longer have them draped over a typical drying rack in our bedroom which makes not only me, but my husband extremely thankful to the clever designers at Ikea. If you cloth diaper, you need this!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The many days of birth

It's my birthday week and wow has it been a rollercoaster. How can you think about birth without thinking about death? How can I think about coming into this world without thinking about the person who gave birth to me? Put those thoughts together and you can understand how I am feeling consumed missing Mom. It's tough. I remember last year and every detail about my birthday and the day after...

I was huge and past my due date with Miles. I was nervous all day long as I dreaded the day after my birthday...I was going in to be induced. Brad and I sat with my parents and grandmother outside at mellow mushroom for pizza and "free" garlic knots that spelled out my name (just for the record MM in Winston is not as cool as Asheville since they do not participate in free garlic knots on your bday) So, no knots after all. I was back and forth in tears all day. Oh and just a note about me...I have this "thing" about sharing my birthday. I hate it. For years I have celebrated my birthday during the first day of school, weddings, traveling, and as fate would have it my first period. So, naturally I did not want to be in labor on that day...or really the day after since the expectation would consume my thoughts on my birthday. Well, the conversation that day was all about meeting Miles the next day and family planing to be there, how long it could take, how I was feeling about it all, and comments about "next time we see you...." It was just all so crazy. Mom would put her hands on my big belly and would just squeal with her words of excitement. I went home and hysterically cried that night, hardly getting any sleep at all. I was so afraid of it all.

But the next day (without too many "labor" details), I received the most awesome birthday gift ever, my sweet Miles. After hours of labor with no progress, my mom sat there next to my bed. I was exhausted, teary, and still very nervous about it all. She just rubbed my arm and said over and over with tears forming "I know honey, but it's going to be okay" What a sweet sweet memory. One I will always cherish. She was there the whole time. I was so scared about this moment in my life, scared I wouldn't make it through, scared I would never meet my son. Mom knew my fears and just kept rubbing my arm. I could have never imagined that it would be Mom that would not make it through his first year. As I write this, my heart aches though the celebration of my sweet little one year old. It is a bittersweet birthday once again. I would rather attend the first day of school on my birthday..every birthday for the rest of my life than miss Mom the way I do right now.

Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. We can't have life without death. We are broken and are made for more than our feeble worldly brains can comprehend. I look around this world and know that there has to be more. I knew Mom so well, and when it all came to an end and it was just her body lying there, I knew that there was more to Mom than that body. If I believe what I say I do, then I can't be sad for Mom. Sure, it sucks for me most days...but, she has been made complete. She has now seen what we were made for. How could I ever wish her to be a part of this world once she has tasted her life in heaven? What we are left with is a hole, an emptiness from missing her. It reminds me everyday of Christ and His sacrifice. How sinful we all are, how much we need Him. We are fallen. He is good. I do not understand His ways all the time, but I will continue to trust in Him and his redemption of life's crappy dealings.

Happy birthday Miles. I miss you Mom.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

six weeks later

Has it really been six weeks. Some days it feels like yesterday we were spending our days at the icu. Some days it feels like forever ago. The crazy thing is that I feel as though a large chunk of our year is just, well... gone. There have been so many conversations lately that start with, "at the hospital", or "when Mom was sick", or even "before the aneurysm". I am discovering that Mom's three months of fighting have really begun to define who I am now, what I have learned, and where I am turning my focus to.

What have the past 6 weeks looked like?
1. Saying goodbye to my closest girlfriend...my mother.
2. Multiple trips to Kernersville.
3. Tears at the simplest of memories.
4. Great conversations with Chuck....and lots of tears.
5. Pictures turning up from the night before the aneurysm.
6. Dancing around in Mom's wig after it was discovered tucked away in a drawer.
7. Realization of life going on.
8. Miles crawling, stepping, getting teeth, knowing Mom would have loved each event!
9. Enjoying more conversations with Mommom over the phone...and in person:)
10. A new closeness with my brothers.
11. Listening to stories from others about Mom
12. watching flowers sent to us slowly turn brown as days "go on"
13. a lot of alone time
14. finally feeling ok to see friends again
15. learning how to gracefully say thank you when people say "sorry for your loss"
16. knowing and remembering to never take moments for granted.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Information on Services

Thank you to everyone for caring for the family here in the past few days. We've deeply appreciated everyone's love and affection.

Some have asked for details concerning the services on Saturday. Here's the scoop:

At 2:00 on Saturday, May 30 the funeral will be held at the Pierce-Jefferson Funeral Home in Kernersville, NC. Directions to the funeral home can be found here. Their phone number is 336-993-2121 if you have any additional questions.

In place of a viewing/wake/visitation, the family has decided to do something a little different. Immediately following the funeral, everyone is invited to Chuck and Lynne's home to celebrate her life together, as well as what would have been their 25th wedding anniversary. There will be a big tent with food and music, all set in their beautiful backyard which they worked on together. If you're coming to the funeral, please know that you are welcome and wanted here as well. Directions from the funeral home to the family's house can be found here.

Again, thank you for coming alongside us during this tough time. In the midst of everything we feel, I can say we have not felt alone. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mom's Obituary

Mari Lynne Shaw Rendleman

KERNERSVILLE — Mari Lynne Shaw Rendleman, 57, went home to be with her Lord on Wednesday, May 27, 2009, following several months of critical illness.

Services celebrating her life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, at Pierce-Jefferson Funeral Home Chapel with Dr. Rob Decker.

A native of Orange County, Florida, she was the daughter of the late Clyde Thomas Shaw, Sr. and Anne Leonora Babb Shaw, who survives. She was a member of Triad Baptist Church. A breast cancer survivor herself, she was an active supporter of .

In addition to her mother, Anne Shaw, she is survived by her loving husband of almost 25 years, Edward C. "Chuck" Rendleman, of the home; daughter, Leigh Bucklad and Brad of Statesville; sons, Joe Benton of California, Andy Benton of Orlando, Fla., and John Rendleman of Kernersville; grandchildren, Nick and Chloe Benton and Miles Bucklad; sisters, Beth Russell and Tim, and Amy Luce and Andy, all of Georgia; brother, Tom Shaw, Jr. and Doris of Winchester, Virginia.

The family will visit with friends following the service at the funeral home on Saturday.

Memorial contributions are asked to be sent to , c/o Gift Management Services, 5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250, Dallas, TX 75244.

Online condolences may be sent to the Rendleman/Shaw family at www.Pierce-JeffersonFuneralService.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

After a Long Night

It's 6:44 AM, and we just finished spending the night in the hospital. Right now Lynne is still hanging on.

Leigh came in to visit last night, and about 20 minutes after returning home Chuck called to let us know he was heading back to the hospital. Apparently Lynne went downhill in a very quickly after they left, developing a high fever with her breathing becoming more labored. The nurses told Chuck he may want to be here tonight, and John, Leigh and I decided to be there as well.

Lynne is still hanging on this morning. Her fever is up, blood pressure is low, breathing very sporatic. It could be any time.

This floor is the most heartbreaking place I've ever been. At 2 AM there are patients all over the place dying of something. You can hear them coughing while they watch TV, just waiting. I don't know how long they have. I don't know how long Lynne has. It would seem like this is all going to be over soon; we didn't think she would last through the night. But she's hanging on. For the first time it's hard to think about leaving the room without thinking it's the last time you'll see her alive.

There isn't much else to say. Soon I'll head home, most likely leaving Leigh here to wait some more. Please pray for Lynne, that God would deliver her from this, and that He would deliver us as well.

Monday, May 25, 2009

the next two weeks

In the next two weeks, a lot is going to change. Summertime is going to officially take hold on its season. People will begin vacations. BBQ and swimming parties will happen all around us. Mom and Chuck will celebrate 25 years of marriage...and Mom will lay down to rest with Jesus.

I feel a lot of things these days. I still cry all the time, and my mind is never at rest. I am overwhelmed with the amount of memories that flood back to me every day. I think about Mom when I add cream to my coffee (or in Mom's case add coffee to her cream), when I choose clothes for Miles to wear (so many pieces of his wardrobe are "things I just picked up, a little treat from Nana"), when I water my plants (she loved to buy almost dead plants and bring them back to life...such a green thumb) and I think about her every time it is quiet and I am still. It hurts so much. I am grieving every moment.

I want life to stop. Why is everyone working? Why do I have to grocery shop, clean the house, do laundry? Why do we "keep living" life? It seems so wrong.

However, in the midst of this, a prayer has been on my mind.

Brad and I began a journal for Miles during our pregnancy and in it, I wrote this prayer for Miles. It is not mine but one given to Henri Nouwen by his mentor.

May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered into nothingness.
That you may experience the powerlessness and the poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

It seems harsh, I know. I don't want hard and terrible things for Miles. But as a mother, I so desire for him to sing and dance in the love of God the Father. And, I am learning that only through our experiences do we learn hurt and the redemption that comes from it. In all of this great hurt, I know I am being shaped...being made more like Christ. I am being sanctified each and every day. It is painful and I can't say that I even want it. But here I am. My expectations are frustrated. My plans are thwarted. My desires are withered into nothingness. I am experiencing powerlessness and poverty. I want to sing and dance in the love of God the Father.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A quick word about West Virginia . . .

First let me apologize to Kelli V, Steve G, Amy P and anyone else I may unwittingly offend.

Dear West Virginia,

Do you know that the rest of the world is laughing at the mullet? Yet you continue to wear it proudly, sometimes even pulling it back in a pony tail before climbing into your pickup trimmed out with Mossy Oak instead of chrome.

Perhaps it's the perfect compliment to a chewing tobacco aisle that's THE SAME SIZE as the candy aisle in the gas station. Maybe it's an act of rebellion because Virginia isn't known as "East Virginia" yet you are forced to suffer a prefix.

At one time, did the sleeveless T-shirt look good on men? Perhaps before sleeves were invented?

And why does it take so stinking long to drive through your state? What are we paying you for with all the tolls? The roads are terrible, and for some reason time slows to a crawl while I'm driving on them.

And why does it smell like an '85 Buick that's been sitting in the sun for too long? (OK, in fairness this odor was attributed to a person in our car, but we laughed pretty hard when applied it to WVA)

Please, please, I know times are hard. I know I'm a judgmental person. But I just don't understand. I welcome any help.

Sincerely,
Normal

Dreaming of BoJangles

Life is hard right now. When you think it can't get any worse, of course it does.

God forces you to cross the Mason-Dixon line.

Into a place without biscuits or sweet tea, where Pontiacs and pot-holes abound and smoking is smiled upon in such a way that R.J. Reynolds could only dream of. The closest restaurant is a place called "EatnPark" and appears to be a bad imitation of Shoney's. Leigh and I have been here for not even a few hours and already I can't wait to be back home.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be here, in spite of the circumstances. It's been 10 years, and seeing family is great, seeing my Dad's old neighborhood is educational (I learned tonight that he carried a pistol at one point when he was 18 because of "street action") and Leigh and I are great road trip companions. But I am a stranger in a strange land. It's hard for me to feel at peace here--even time I spent out west or in New York doesn't compare to how uncomfortable this place makes me. My home is in the South, and I hope it always will be.

On a related note (I'll get there, don't worry) some folks keep asking how they can pray. My most common answer recently is that God would increase our faith. Please don't stop with that one, we still need it badly. For those of you hurling up the unsolicited prayers that we would have rest, or experience God's love, or have healing, thank you. I feel like we got a little bit of that today. It wasn't an easy day, but we've laughed a lot at a culture so foreign yet similar to what we're familiar with. Leigh and I love being together in these situations.

And we're increasingly grateful we don't live in the North.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day 60, The Hardest Yet

Tuesday night before club I got a phone call from Leigh’s dad, asking me to come with her to the hospital on Wednesday night. He didn’t go into any real details, but simply said it was going to be a hard night for Leigh and that she would need me there. It wasn’t too hard to read between the lines.

When we got there around 5:30 yesterday, we made small talk for a bit before Chuck sort of dove in. Apparently, since this past weekend, they’ve been running some tests on Lynne’s brain. With these, the doctors had new information to share. Since the last EEG they did, Lynne’s brain has been degenerating further and further. When they were fighting so hard to save certain regions of the brain that affect consciousness, the ability to understand language, and motor control, they were unsuccessful. There have been more strokes in those areas, and using the tests they are able to predict that there will be more strokes as well. And there’s nothing they can do to stop them.

Lynne is in a type of vegetative state now. She responds to noise, movement, light, but it isn’t any sort of conscious response. She cannot move or control her body, and she does not experience any sensation of pain now. Also, she’s slipping more every day into a place where she is sleeping without waking.

As of yesterday, the decision was made to stop sustaining her life. Sometime today they will move her to a different floor where the goal is to keep the patient and family as comfortable as possible. Then they will remove the protein bottle that has been sustaining her through her feeding tube. This won’t result in starvation; instead, it will cause her brain to revert back to where it would have been 60 days ago without medical intervention. Different areas will begin to “turn off” and sometime between one and two weeks she will pass away.

Last night was really hard. Today has been really hard. Leigh has cried a lot, and is out shopping for a dress for my grandmother's funeral (what an awful thing to have to do) with Sabrina (thank you Jesus for her.) I went to a concert at the high school today and fought off crying through it all (to be fair, it’s sort of moving to see black and white kids dancing to Beatles songs at the foot of the stage.) Up until now we had hope for recovery, even if it was tiny. Now that’s gone, and we have to figure out how to function with this in a new way.

God is still in this. He’s doing good, hard things in my heart. And in Leigh’s. Some of it we can tell. Others it isn’t so easy. It’s hard to trust and have faith right now, but at the same time I don’t know where else we’d turn. What I do know is that being around people today, I don’t know if I’ve loved people this deeply in a while. For that I’m grateful.

Thanks for the prayers and support. I’ll keep you posted as things move forward.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hope

Today has been a day where small encouragements were given throughout the day. The first came through a very, very heavy heart this morning at church. I sat annoyed, and barely able to sing at all because I knew the words of praise would not be heart felt and honest. Somehow through the teaching this morning this verse stuck with me.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet without sin. let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
--hebrews 4: 14-16

We left church and headed for the hospital.

While visiting Mom today, one of her nurses made a casual comment about how Mom reminds her of her Mom. I asked "how so?"

Apparently she had an aneurysm years ago. I asked if she had also suffered strokes because of it.

She said yes and all the doctors kept telling her family there was no hope for her. The strokes had left her in an almost vegetative state...just like Mom. They finally sent her home, and she told us that her dad said that wouldn't do. They were not going to give up. They began working with her. Slowly "like a baby" she learned everything again.

The nurse's mom was currently watching her grandkids and fixing dinner for her family.

Hows that for some hope.

A little dose of mercy...and It was just what I needed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My beautiful Mother

This was a picture taken on the day Brad and I got married. She looked beautiful that day and this is one of my favorite pictures of her. There was intense pain in her heart as well as the joy she felt for Brad and I on that day. Just a couple of weeks prior to this picture, my mom lost her dad, my Papa. I miss him every day and cannot look at this picture without thinking about him. Now this picture takes on many bittersweet memories.

How's your heart?

How's your heart?

For years I have hated this question. I am not a fan of being vulnerable nor do I understand those that ask and expect you'll open up just like a book and lay it all down for them. So, most of the time I dodge this question and brush people off with a quick....I'm good. (or is it I'm well?...whatever.) But, one of the loveliest parts of marriage is that you cannot quickly brush someone away. They see you day in and day out. I've been a wreck. I know it, and my husband knows it. It is hard in a way to be a "minister's wife"...I'm not good at it and hate (a lot of the time) what comes with that job title. I like to run away...guess if I'm uncomfortable being open and honest, why should I put myself out there to be a person for others to be open and honest with?...and all the while with a smile on my face.

When trying to sort though all that I am feeling these days, I try to explain it and sort through it all with Brad. Am I crazy? Does that make sense? What do you think?....all questions that I pose daily to him. And, perhaps the toughest thing I've had to sort through these days is what I believe to be true about this situation and my God. I stumbled through the words yesterday trying to explain where my "heart" was. Then today I began reading a book that has sat of my shelf for years. I read the words I have been at a loss to use when describing where I'm at in all of this.

C. S. Lewis explains in A Grief Observed...

...where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be --or so it feels--welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. you may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

He goes on to explain the same fear I have...

Not that I am in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not "So there's no God after all," but "So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer."
--Lewis (A Grief Observed)


There it is. All of you caught a glimpse of vulnerability from me. Honest. Real. I'm trying to find my way through all this. Christ is real...He has even questioned "why has thou forsaken me? But, it is still not easy to understand. So, I will continue to search and seek the one that knows me best...I just want to feel like He hears me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

and the brokeness continues....

Brad's grandma in Pittsburg has been given anywhere from a week to a month to live. We will be heading to Pennsylvania soon to visit and share Miles with her since she has not been able to meet him...or me in person. So...we'll just carry on day to day as our hearts continue to break a bit more.

yep, this is real

Sorry for those of you that check this blog daily in hopes that there will be new posts about Mom. The last few weeks have be a struggle for all of us. I have lost count of the days since Mom was admitted with her aneurysm, and for much of the last month, there has been little progress in Mom's healing. You are welcome to continue to check team bucklad as often as you would like. It makes us feel so wonderful to know that there are so many people caring about, praying for, and hurting with us as we go along this journey next to Mom. I will only be blogging about Mom when there is new news. So, it will continue to be random days that posts are made. Feel free to come and read...I may even start blogging a little about the Bucklad adventures along the way as Miles is growing and learning so much these days.

Yesterday was a big day. Chuck and I met at the hospital for a meeting with Mom's team of caregivers. This included all four therapists (speech, respiratory, physical, and occupational), her incontinence nurse, regular RN, pharmacist, and case manager. These meetings occur each week before paperwork is sent in to insurance. As I explained earlier, Mom can stay at the Select Care hospital on a week by week approval. This meeting allows all her caregivers to discuss where they feel Mom is in her recovery process.

Respiratory explained how they were trying Mom out with a cap on the trach. This was to test her ability to breathe completely on her own. The only oxygen Mom is receiving is through a tube that goes under her nose. The team wanted to see if Mom was able to clear her own airway as needed by coughing. It was strange hearing her cough for the first time. Up until now, her coughing was silent because of the trach. In a way it was like hearing her voice.

Then the rest of the therapist began to chime in. First, they asked about what we, the family, had observed. We shared little glimpses of awake time, smiles, and puckered lips. But, for the most part, we shared about the hours spent in her room with no response at all. They agreed. Then one at a time shared how they viewed Mom's prognosis as poor...

The likelihood of recovery is slipping away each day. And now, being six weeks after the strokes. The fact that there is no substantial action from her, is generally a sign that this may be all we get. This is how Mom is now. How she most likely will stay. It is not a vegetative state. However, it almost is. The doctor explained that sometimes this is worse. We have no idea what is going on inside her, if she is even "home".

Now, they told us that the rumors that came with her from the ICU about reading and responding was just optimism and doctors and nurses wanting to believe more was occurring than actually was. Me?...I believe that she was doing it all and was making gains. I also think that the last couple of weeks she has regressed some. So, I don't know if I fully am ready to "give up"...not that her current doctors are either. They are just sharing how it is.

What we need to look at now is what could be next.
--Mom is not coming home.
--She may live the next 30 years in the same state of mind she is in now
--She most likely will be moving to a nursing home...not a rehabilitation facility
--As a family, we may have to make a decision on continuing aid that keeps her alive. (feeding tube, antibiotics for illness like pneumonia, breathing machines if the need arises....) we may. It is not there yet, but the possibility is there that it could get to this.

I write this more broken hearted than I have ever been in my life. I have a hole that is so deep it takes my breath away when I stop to think about Mom. I cry most days and want to hide from people that reach out. I don't want to talk about the situation...in fact I don't want people to ask how Mom is doing...it just feels like people are trying to make casual conversation. At the same time I am hurt when they don't. I feel like there is not a person who understands how I feel (though I know that's not the case) When it's not sadness, it's anger. I get angry at innocent people I encounter daily at the store, work, etc. for no reason other than I have anger I just need to let out. How can you pretend that the world is not falling apart? Don't you know it is? Don't you know that nothing is ever going to be the same?...Now hand me my coffee, or move your stupid shopping cart out of my way!

So here we all are. As a family, we are hurting and all dealing with this differently. Our hearts are breaking as the stronghold of our family is slipping away. We have been slowly watching our Mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend fight for her life for 50 + days. We are worn out and mourning at the loss of who we have always know her to be. We are fearful of the next steps. Most of all we are so empty inside. Hope is hard to come by. Faith is difficult to have. We want her back.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mom update

Mom was moved to the Select Care hospital at Forsyth. She has her own room and a nice little view of the roof and shopping mall. The nurses seem nice and the environment seems a bit more at ease.

Mom had a good couple of days where she was awake for longer periods of time. We have been able to bring Miles in to see his "Nana". He has been bouncing on her bed and grabbing at her hand. It has been fun to watch. I see Mom smile at him often. Her smiles are not the smiles I have been used to seeing all my life, rather a slight turn up of the corners of her mouth. She has stopped responding to written commands. At this point, we are not completely convinced she is reading after all. I hope she is, but the doctors and nurses have not seen it happen. In fact, they have not seen much at all. The doctors report to Chuck that after a week there, Mom has not really shown any improvement as they thought they would see.

I don't know where this leaves us.

Select care operates on a week by week approval. My hope and prayers are that Mom shows some signs of improvement...enough to continue to stay there and get therapy. She has all different kinds of therapists...respiratory, physical, occupational, and speech. Surely she will improve in one of those areas.

How does "real" feel?

So, things have been feeling pretty real these days. I find that I am fine one minute then crying the next. I so deeply desire to be posting great and wonderful news about our first spring as a family, the fun we are having, and the new things we are experiencing. However, this spring has been one hit after another. Sorry it has been over a week since updating....I'm going to take a moment to be open and vulnerable with you for a sec. In addition to Mom (which I will be updating shortly), more is going on with our family...Please, please do some prayin for us. We are just so worn out these days.

1. My Uncle (Mom's brother) had multiple strokes last week and spent a short amount of time in ICU. He seems to be doing better and recovering fine...in fact he was released from the hospital earlier in the week. It just hits close to home with Mom and now Uncle Tommy.

2. Brad's grandma in Pittsburg has been admitted to the hospital again. Her cancer has returned and she will likely be staying there indefinitely.

3. Brad's dad has become another casualty of this economy. He was laid off last week...and only a few years before retirement!

4. Granddad Pierce (Chuck's dad) has had his alzhiemers hit severely and cannot remember the simplest of things. We don't know what has caused this to change so drastically. He was in the hospital for some tests last week after a few incidences occurred at home. Initially we assumed it was strokes (yes him, too) but, tests show it wasn't.

5. Statesville Young Life is in deficit (another effect of the local economy) Giving is down. Like most ministries, the difficulty experienced with raising support, effects Brad's paycheck. Which is scary since we decided last year that I should quit teaching and stay home with Miles thus making us a one income family.

So yeah. Here we are. I'm not gonna lie and say things are easy and fine. Because they are not. I'm sad most days, and want to be alone more often times than not. Miles brings joy but, I experience life right now only as days with him or at Mom's side at the hospital. I miss her. I want to talk so badly to her. Everywhere I turn I am reminded of some experience with her or some conversation we had. I wish she could know how Miles is doing, how we are all doing.

I thought when she was diagnosed with cancer (almost nine years ago now), was the hardest season of my life. I was wrong. I keep remembering reading years ago about the "dark night of the soul" (Celebration of discipline) Foster tells about St. John and how he explains the dark night as something that's not bad or destructive. On the contrary, it is an experience to be welcomed. It is to set us free..a devine appointment. The dark night is one of the ways God brings us to a hush, a stillness, so that He may work an inner transformation upon the soul.

I have been reminded of this every day this spring. It hurts. I know that I belong to Christ. And, what is my job here?...To glorify Him. To enjoy Him in his presence. How do I do that?...I am being shaped and formed to be more like Christ everyday with this experience. I don't want this. It's not easy. I'm tired, hurt, and frustrated.....and feel lost in the midst of this. But, I want to glorify Him. It's just painful.

Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the voice of his servant,
who walks in darkness
and has no light,
yet trusts in the name of the Lord
and relies upon his God? (Is. 50:10)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I am your doctor!

What a wonderful gift yesterday! I am singing praises today with the news of her responses to Dr. Anyanwu...who by the way was high fiving people in the ICU after communicating with Mom.

I spent the morning with Mommom and then made a B line for the hospital after Nick, Mom's nurse, called with the exciting news. Once we got there, Nick stayed a large amount of time with us talking about the exam from earlier in the day. Unfortunatly, that morning was when Mom spent most of her awake time. So, by the time we all arrived, she was worn out from the day. We got a few moments with her while her eyes were open. Chuck used the opportunity to write open your mouth...she tried but didn't quite get there. He shared the words I love you on the white board before she drifted off back to sleep.

So what does all this mean???

Apparently two huge pieces of information about Mom and her recovery:

1. She comprehends. We know she can read and comprehend. We are also pretty sure she can hear and comprehend but, that connection in her brain might not be as strong to allow her to respond.

2. The connection between a command (what she read) and her ability to respond is present. She may not physically be able to do what is asked, but she does try.

We are still waiting to hear from insurance...they notoriously take a long time for this step. Once we hear from them, Mom can be moved to "Select Care". There she will begin receiving physical and occupational therapy while she continues to heal.

Continue to pray for healing. God has been so good thus far! We would love to see more breakthroughs like yesterday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Good News for Lynne!!!!

So, Chuck received a phone call from Dr. Anyanwoo this morning, and this is basically how it went:

When he was in examining Lynne this morning, he was trying to talk to her and even though her eyes were open, she wasn't responding to him. So, he thought he would try something different.

He grabbed a piece of paper, and on it wrote, "Blink your eyes." He held it up to Lynne, she read it, and blinked her eyes.

He took it again, wrote, "Raise your eyebrows." Lynne read it, and raised her eyebrows.

"Blink twice." She blinked twice.

They told Chuck to pick up a white board on his way to the hospital today, because they have discovered a way to communicate with his wife! This is such encouraging news for all of us! It's felt pretty gloomy, tiring and desperate lately. All I know right now is here on the post. I'm sure Leigh will do a more lengthy one later tonight with more details.

Praise the Lord! Lynne is still in the fight!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 32

I did not post yesterday because it seems that more and more the days stay pretty much the same. This is not bad, just that Mom's improvements are slow. I will update as new and important things happen...like she smiled today! Ok so, it wasn't a "normal" Mom smile (with teeth and all) but it was a smile.

Chuck, John, and I were back visiting Mom today, and we were shouting and squeezing her hands, trying to get any sort of a response from her. She opened and closed her eyes a few times before "really" opening them to look at us. It is hard for her to keep them open for too long. Well, I could see the corners of her mouth twitching. She has been twitching her nose as well. I made a comment about her smiling to me and then she actually did...it was like one of those smiles you get from her when she is just humoring you...but I'll take it. I asked her to smile for John, and she gave the same sort of smile. Then she did it for Chuck and later for Mommom.

Select care observed her today. I don't know how it went but the nurse mentioned something about waiting for insurance approval once Mom was observed. Select care is on another floor in the hospital where they would care for Mom's needs like her trach and begin physical therapy. It is not rehab...yet.

Today was a pretty good day. I wanted to cry when she was attempting to smile, and she made that version of a smile came out. It was beautiful! yay for today's accomplishments!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 31: Update for April 22, 2008

Wednesday was the first day I heard mention of any "whats next". Dr. Chase has asked another part of the hospital to come evaluate Mom to see if she could be taken to their section. This would offer things such as physical therapy, care for her Trach, as well as day round care that she still needs (she still has catheters and has not used the restroom in weeks on her own) Apparently as far as ICU goes, there is nothing neurologically that puts her at risk, and she doesn't need to be in there much longer. After a time spent in the "special care" area, we hope she will get released to the rehabilitation center on campus, or another like it. It would be a live-in facility where she could learn to live life again...walk, communicate, and so forth. I'm pretty sure we have a very long road ahead of us. I am so thankful Brad and I do not have an assignment with young life this summer. This is by far the biggest assignment for us, and I know many hours have, and will continue to be spent in Winston Salem with Mom.

She was a bit more awake on Wednesday. Not a whole lot more. She would sit and look at Me, Chuck, or Mommom, sometimes even cutting her eyes to follow us across the room. She wrinkled her nose up a lot as if something smelled bad or her nose itched. Could have been either reason I guess. Mom was continually saying "Sorry, I smell" before any of the strokes happened that left her in the current condition. After a month of sponge baths, surgeries, and only swabbing out your mouth, I'm sure she doesn't feel as clean as she would like. The girls however, have done an amazing job of taking care of Mom, bathing her, brushing her hair, and treating her and us with the utmost kindness day in and day out. They are wonderful and have come to be friends in a way through all of this.

So we will see how Day 31 goes. That is our one month marker. Hard to believe March 23 is when it all began. Now it is April...I look forward to sharing more later.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My goodness...It's day 30!

and....what a big day it was. You can now see Mom's beautiful face free of any tubes. They took her into an operating room about noon and performed the tracheotomy. She came back to her room after recovery where we were able to spend some time with her before anesthesia was started for the insertion of her PEG line. They put the line into her stomach right there in her room! Crazy how efficient those surgeons are. She slept most of the day. I'm sure it is the effects of being in and out with the two surgeries. She sure does look good though. It is wonderful seeing her face clutter free. I am excited to spend some time with her and not be afraid of her waking up. Now, she won't gag and cough when she sees us (like she did with the breathing tube down her throat).

She should also have more awake time. The meds they are giving her (forgive me, the name has slipped out of my head for the moment) should on average kick in on the third day. Tomorrow will be day three, and the effects should make her keep her eyes open for longer periods throughout the day.

Thats it for now. She is pretty much the same with the exception of the two surgeries she had today and the possibility of more awake time tomorrow. I am looking forward to moving forward.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 29: Mom update

Tomorrow will be a big day for Mom. She is scheduled to receive her tracheotomy tomorrow morning. The doctor spoke with Chuck, and he has reserved an operating room. By the time we get there in the morning, she should have it in. Later in the day, she will have the peg line (feeding tube) put in. That means that the breathing tube down her throat will be out and so will the nutrition line that goes up her nose. I'm sure she will be out of it for pretty much of the day, but this should make her more comfortable in the long run (of her hospital stay).

They will begin giving her a medicine to "boost" her awareness. It takes awhile to get into her system so it may be some time before we see results.

Not a ton of new things to report. Mom is still holding her own each day. It was another day of pretty much the same. I can't believe it has been almost a month. It has for sure been the longest month of my life yet, I find myself looking back and wondering where did the month go?...Is it really almost May? I am saddened that the tulips have come and gone, the dogwoods are at the end of their blooming period, and all the bare branches of trees are now filled with bright green growth. Mom didn't get to see any of it happen. Her favorite time of year has come and is slipping out. A fresh start to sping...new life everywhere. I pray that we see renewal and new life with Mom soon as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 28: Mom update

The seizures seem to have stopped! Another EEG tomorrow is set to confirm...I hope that we have seen the end of them. Mom was awake a bit more today and when she opened her eyes, they seemed to focus on what she was looking at. She first looked at Darcy (a friend of Mom's and next door neighbor), Me, then at Chuck. It was really an encouraging moment. Apparently, yesterday Dr. Anyanwu told Chuck. "I think your wife is going to get through this, it'll take a while, months, but I think she'll be ok"

On Tuesday, Mom will be getting her trach put in as well as a feeding tube (peg line). I think they have finally decided that she needs to move on from the tube and she is not able to without assistance. So, that leaves us with the tracheotomy.

The doctor has also ordered special shoes for Mom to wear in her bed. Her feet have "dropped" from not using them for a month now. The condition can be part of the effects of her strokes. I'm sure there is a long road of recovery with her feet and legs. She most likely will need to learn how to walk again.

I really am excited about this week....if the aneurysm, vasospasms and strokes, as well as the seizures are all behind us, then this week should be one of wakefulness and some form of assessment on where she is in all of this. I know realistically we are looking at months of recovery but, if we have our Mom, and Chuck has his wife, I will take it and run with it. I really want Mom to be one of the "success stories" that we have heard so many of from friends, family, and medical teams.

Keep praying and I'll keep posting to let you know how it is going!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 26 and 27: Mom update

Wow...what a busy two days. Yesterday I substitute taught for a fifth grade class. Which was awesome, and makes me miss teaching until I was leaving at 2:30 and thought "this would never happen if I was still teaching..I would be leaving more like 6 or 7 at night". Once I got home, Brad finished up his work and we headed to the hospital to meet up with Chuck and Mommom for the 4-530 visiting time.

The day went well. It was for the most part, consistently the same as previous days this week. Not much is changing, which is just fine for now. Her EEGs for the last few days DO show that the seizures have pretty much stopped. Fantastic. She is still not awake enough to remove the tube and handle any "secretions" she may have. They are afraid of her choking...so, as of today, Dr. Anyanwu spoke to Chuck and said most likely (again) Mom will be getting a tracheotomy and feeding tube this week. They were giving her time to wake up a bit and become more coherent a couple of days ago. Thus, pushing back the surgeries. However, they have reached the end of the period of time where it is safe to have the tube in. Now, they must change it out.

It has been neat to get to know the personality of Dr. Anyanwu during the last few weeks. Chuck has really taken to him and trusts his decisions. He even has a sense of humor, which definately jives with Chuck. Today, Dr. Anyanwu popped his head in after working with another patient, one in which he had to put on special clothes and protective gear for. He looked at Chuck and pointed towards Mom saying, "She looking at you! Talk to her!". Mom was apparently just sitting there with her eyes open and Chuck hadn't quite noticed at the time. Another time during an exam yesterday, he was pinching and poking Mom to wake her up shouting (in his Nigerian accent which makes it more fun to listen to)..."Mrs. Rendleman, Mrs. REndleman, can you open your eyes, Mrs. Rendleman, open your eyes!" He is so loud during these exams, you can hear him way down the hall. He then encouraged Chuck to get in her face and yell, "I love you, open your eyes,...honey, open your eyes for me." I just really love how he is caring for our family right now. "tell her you love her" he would say to Chuck...thats just awesome!

I am anxious to see her tomorrow after not being at the hospital today.

Chuck spent the morning there then slipped out to Statesville to bring us his tiller so that we could till and plant new grass over our front yard. He then returned to the hospital, possibly making a birthday party for their neighbors at some point as well. He is a busy man and loves my Mom so so very much. I am so thankful everyday for the gift he is as a husband for her and for the father he is to Joe, Andy, John, and myself.

Continue to lift Mom up in prayer, this is not over yet. She is fighting, and I am both encouraged and hopeful for the future.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 25 Mom Update

Met with Dr. Anyanwu. Here is the breakdown of what was shared.

He is "very very excited" about the results of the MRI. It shows there is no more damage made since the last MRI taken. There was a small, small (almost not worth mentioning) stoke that has happened during the last week or so. However, it is nothing to worry about.

The EEG from yesterday showed that Mom is still having seizures. They have decreased with strength and frequency (showing that the meds are working). She will have another EEG today and we will hear results tomorrow. The rash she had from the dilantan has cleared up considerably and a new medicine has been started. Dr. Anyanwu explained that her lack of consciousness we are seeing with Mom could be contributed to the seizures. Once they end we should she a return to open eyes and awareness. If not, there is a medicine that they can give that would give a boost of energy for her.

They decided to hold off the tracheotomy and feeding tube for a little while longer. They believe that Mom is just right around the corner from being able to get off the breathing machine. They want to wait and see how she feels once the seizures stop. That is good that they want to just hang in because she really must be so close to being ready!

I am so happy to hear this news. Again small steps is all I am asking for. We will get there soon enough!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Exposing your baby to the general public

Okay...so I just have to rant a little bit. Chuck and I have been grabbing lunch together pretty much everyday since our days at the hospital have started. Today we decided to each at my little brothers least favorite, and one of our favorite restaurants, Jason's deli.

So, I happen to think the world of my son. And of course I should. He is beautiful in every way possible...yes, even at 12, 2, and 4 in the morning these days (I just don't spend too much time doting on him during those hours) I'm okay with others enjoying his smiles, giggles, and oohing and aaahhing over him. I've gotten used to it. But, come on crazy Jason's cleaning lady! You just finished clearing the trash off tables and carting your trash bin to the back. Somehow, you think it is okay to take your dirty palms and place them on both of Miles cheeks to squeeze his little face into a version of a fat kid....while he is eating.

Really?
You think this is okay?

And what about you crazy pink hospital lady from Vermont where everyone is "crunchy"? I don't know where your hands have been either. Why are you touching my sons face and head! Seriously.

Next time I'm just going to touch your face. Will that be acceptable? Maybe I'll forget to wash my hands and leave you with a mystery of where my hands have been...

Next time please by all means comment on the cuteness of my son. Ooohh and Aaahh. We are pretty amazed at the things he does everyday. But, please, please, if you must touch him. ASK or just reach for his foot. At least its covered in a sock!

Mom update...what to expect the next few days

It was Chuck, Miles, and myself again at the hospital today. Chuck met with Dr. Anyanwu before Miles and I arrived but he shared the important information with me. Here is what to expect the next few days.

Mom's fever went back down as well as her white blood cell count (which is why they expected an infection of some sort). Dr. Anyanwu decided not to move the central line to the opposite side of her neck after all. That was reassuring news to hear.

Unfortunately, the EEG showed that she is having seizures. They are continuing with the plan to switch seizure medicine since the other has caused a rash on her body. She is receiving it now, and it is a locked box above her head...guess it must be some "good" stuff.

She is still having trouble being coherent enough to remove the tube. Pulmonary still remains confident in her ability to breathe. So, Dr. Anyanwu is meeting with the respiratory team to decide on a course of action. Most likely, meaning pretty definitely, Mom will be getting a trach put in as well as a feeding tube to her abdomen. Now, I know this sounds scary, and we were hoping to avoid these things from happening but this does not mean horrible things for Mom. Dr. Anyanwu agreed that it seems nerve racking but spoke of positives for both of these medical necessities. First, we need to remove as much as we can from her head. She is trying to get better, and by taking away all these extra tubes and lines, she will fight possible infection in those areas (because they have been there so long), and she will look a whole lot better. She will be more comfortable with the trach in, and it should not effect her ability to communicate when she starts talking again.

He believes that she is trying to squeeze his hand when he asks for it. That's wonderful news because, it would mean she is understanding the instructions and the valuable "real estate" in her brain has been spared. An MRI was ordered today, and we will hear the results tomorrow. It should confirm where any injured areas are from strokes.

So, tomorrow is a big day. Dr. Anyanwu wants to meet with us to talk about what the immediate future looks like. I like that we have a vision of the next days and week. It is so much better than hour to hour, day by day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Close to same

So, I decided to stay home today in hopes of giving Miles a "normal" day with "normal" routine. It turned out okay. We got in a two hour morning nap in his own crib...praise the Lord! We played in our exersauser, jonny jump up, gym, and tried to make a little headway on our crawling. Our pjs stayed on all day, the tv played, and beds did not get made. Oh well...We both enjoyed our day at home.

I did get an update via Chuck and here is how Mom is doing...

She is still running a temperature. I have not said too much about it lately because it was so low during the past week. However, today it was slightly above 100. Dr. Anyanwu decided to remove the central line that is currently in her neck on her right side. It has been there since her last procedure as a precaution in case they had to go back in. He is going to replace it with a new line on her other side. The reason she may be running a fever could be contributed by a possible infection from the old line.

Another EEG had been ordered to check for any seizure activity. She has been on medicine to prevent any seizures. The last one we are aware of is the one she had during her last procedure (the same one that the current central line is from). The medicine that she was taking needs to be switched due to a rash she has developed over her abdomen.

All TCD numbers continue to be at an appropriate level.

She is still not very awake and aware even though she is barely on any additional help that would cause her to be this drousey. So, pulmanary, who still says her breathing looks great, has not pulled the breathing tube. She remains on CPAP.


Finally, the last bit of news...she squeezed with her left hand! Then the doctor asked her to put up 2 fingers. I think that was a bit too hard for the moment so, Dr. Anyanwu asked her to give a thumbs up. She tried, didn't quite get there but tried I'll take it!

I plan on being at the hospital again tomorrow, and will write again as news develops.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Miles and his balloon Take 2

Okay...So I couldn't resist. Miles is still loving his balloon. Who knew how much entertainment this thing could bring??? I'm dreading when it finally looses all its air...guess another trip to the gift shop will have to be made!

video

Day 22 anticipation towards the road ahead

Today was Chuck, myself, and Miles. The three of us together can be tough. Two people are allowed to visit Mom at a time but, when Miles is there, someone needs to watch him. So, this means that Chuck and I flip flop watching Miles while the other is next to Mom. This also means that I missed speaking with Dr. Anyanwu directly. Chuck, however got a great conversation in with him. One that was optimistic. Yayah! Here is what an optimistic conversation looks like...

Before discussing details about Mom, Dr. Anyanwu asked Chuck "How do you think she is doing?"

Chuck answered "I think she is doing well"

Dr. Anyanwu chimed in, "I do too".

Awesome. So, hear we go.
Mom is holding steady. When we arrived this morning she was still on CPAP from yesterday. They never turned it off the whole night! Pulmonary still confirmed that they were ready to see her independent of the respiratory machine. The hold up here is still on the fact that she is not awake enough. They are also concerned that with the amount of fluid she is still holding, it could be too heavy for her body to support on her own. The fluid could put too much pressure on her lungs and cause complications. The CPAP offers backup if that happens.

Speaking of complications, Dr. Anyanwu discussed what the immediate road ahead could look like. He said that the two stages we have ventured through (1 = aneurysm, 2= vasospasms/strokes) were extremely dangerous. This next stage we are getting to is also dangerous...maybe not at the same level but, dangerous none the less. This would include risks to the heart and lungs. With all the meds and fluids, these organs can be placed at risk. We need to keep assessments going in these areas to prevent any complication...not that there are. We just don't want to see pneumonia, or clots...etc.

He ordered ultrasounds on each of her legs and arms to see if there could be any clots that may prevent Mom from having function of her extremities. They found two clots but they are in "superficial" veins and are not in need of any invasive treatments. They are not worried about them traveling to her heart.

The only pain med Mom was receiving today was given in small doses. This made her awake periods longer and more frequent. This is good, and we want this to occur. However, I find that when I am back with her and she wakes up, it is hard to watch as she chews, gags, coughs, and panics for just a second before calming down. I'm always reminding her to "stay calm, don't bite." It's difficult. I feel we are heading into a few tough days as she is brought into a better state of conciousness, while getting ready to be free of the respitory machine. I'm sure it is so uncomfortable having a tube down your throat and a device holding your tongue down. I would freak, too!

So, I am anticipating tomorrow. It may be the day that she is free of being intubated. Pulmonary is going to assess first thing in the morning so that if there are any complications, they will still be there for their shift hours and can avoid calling in someone. I'm okay if it happens tomorrow or the next day. I would rather the team working on Mom be certain and confidant that she is ready. Though I am anxious...I can wait.

So, how is she doing?

I think she is doing well.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Honestly, I think Leigh and I both went into today dreading it more than average. We're tired, frustrated, and it was getting tough to go to the hospital and sit there visiting Lynne as she laid there sedated. God did great things today though in us and Lynne--it seems like he does when we're at the end of our rope.

We didn't get to the hospital till around lunchtime today. Miles let us sleep in till 9 (thank you!) and we took our time from there getting ready and out of the house. No church for us today. I missed it. Anyway, I digress. We got there as Chuck and John were heading out to pick up Mommom and bring her back to the hospital. We were holding down the fort till then.

Leigh went on in to sit with Lynne, and I sat out in the waiting room with Miles. We didn't really want to leave Lynne's room unattended because we were anxious to hear what Dr. Green had to say while doing her rounds. Eventually Chuck, John and Mommom came back, and then we left for lunch around 2. Still hadn't seen Dr. Green yet.

When we get back from lunch, we find out that she made her visit with Lynne while we were gone. Stinks we missed her, but things are looking better. Lynne's TCD levels held the same today. That one is still a bit over 100, but all the others are great and we're really happy to be where we are. Currently they're weaning her off of different sedatives and pain meds, as well as all of the fluids they had her on. Honestly I don't have any idea what the names are for all of them. What I do know is that when I was in the room with her this afternoon, she opened her eyes more than I've seen her do in almost a week. And that is great to see. It seemed like she was looking at us more to, not just staring off into space.

They've begun the process of more aggressively dumping fluids out of her body, but her skin is still so swollen. When you touch her hand or arm, you can't help but think how uncomfortable that must me for her. I hope for her sake this goes quickly.

She still has the tube in her throat for the CPAP. As she was awake more, that caused more of a problem earlier in the day as she would gag and bite down on it. I can only imagine what it would be like to constantly have a garden hose down my throat. Still, by the end of the day she was fighting it less, although still awake from time to time.

Tomorrow is a big day for the CPAP. Technically they're only supposed to leave it in for 10 days. Today is day 10. Tomorrow we hope they'll be able to remove it and avoid the tracheotomy. That's not the end of the world, just one more thing. She has to be conscious enough to breathe well on her own and cough to clear her lungs if they're going to remove it.

Dr. Anyanwu is going to be back tomorrow, and we look forward to seeing him and hearing what he has to say. As soon as we post more, we'll put in here.

I'm sure this post is scattered. We feel scattered. Still today was a good day. It was the first time in a while we had the chance to see Lynne with open eyes, and that's a huge blessing. Small steps forward, that's what we hope and pray for. Patiently waiting, hoping. Thank you so much to all of you who continue to support us in this.