Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stable

Born in a Stable


At this time of year, when we hear the word "stable" we tend to be reminded of the humble birth of our Savior.  Overcrowded and unwelcoming would describe Bethlehem on the day Jesus arrived. The only place available for the birth of Jesus was a humble stable surrounded by animals but announced by angels.  Wow, what a birth announcement that had to be!

We are preparing for Christmas and endeavoring to enjoy the season as much as possible.  It certainly does not resemble past Christmas' in many ways but in other ways is very much the same.  The tree is up and surrounded by gifts.  Our Bible study group helped us set it up and get it decorated.  Two friends took Brooklyn shopping and one friend went shopping for Dennis so he would have a special gift for Brooklyn and me this year. Several other friends have also done shopping for us.  We are amazed again at God's provisions through the generosity of our friends.


Brooklyn's school Christmas program was last week and her class also sang at a local mall.  I was able to video the program so Dennis could see it too.  It took me awhile to get the file converted so he could see it on the TV but it was worth it.  Dennis always did stuff like that so I am having to learn how to do it now.



My family will join us for Christmas on Christmas Eve day and of Dennis' family have been stopping in to see us in the last few weeks.  We plan on spending Christmas day at home.  Dennis' co-workers also stopped in for lunch the other day.  We had a good time caroling with our Bible study group on Sunday night.



Christmas has always been a favorite time of year for Dennis and he is appreciating the cards and notes from so many of you.  Thank you for helping make this season special for us.

Stable


Stable is also the word that can best describe how Dennis is doing.  I asked his nurse a few days ago what her opinion was as sometimes it is hard for me to tell since I am with him all of the time.  Her opinion is that there has been no change in his condition since entering hospice.  

Dennis requires total care from me and the hospice aides.  He is able to use his left hand so he can eat by himself but other than that, needs someone to assist him.  His speech has not returned so we spend a lot of time on yes and no questions when he wants something.  As you can imagine, this is frustrating for him and for us.  He spends a lot of time sleeping.  

Thanks to the generous gifts of friends, I am able to hire an aide from time-to-time so that I can attend events at school with Brooklyn or just get out for a break.  Yesterday Brooklyn completed her first school project and the students had an open house to display them.  It was fun to go and see all the hard work the students had put into their animal projects. Brooklyn's animal was the platypus.

 

Praying


Please continue to keep us in your prayers.  It seems like every time I turn around something else in the house is breaking down.  I'm not sure if is happening more than normal or just that I am more aware of it.  We are blessed with friends who have helped with these repairs when they are beyond my skill level to complete.  

Please pray for:
  • The people who come into our lives daily to assist Dennis.  We endeavor to point them to Christ as we interact with them.
  • Dennis.  His days can be long at times.  He does not have pain but his muscles get sore from not being used.  Hospice is trying to find a volunteer who would come and do massage therapy for him but so far have not found one.  This would be so helpful for him.  
  • Brooklyn.  This is all a lot to process for her.  Every so often it bubbles up and spills over.  
  • Ellen.  Pray for me to know the balance between caring for Dennis and being available for Brooklyn.  
  • Also, please pray that Dennis will feel good and have enough energy to enjoy Christmas day with Brooklyn and me.   
We trust all of you will have a joyous Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Savior. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lasts

There are many "lasts" in everyone's life.  Some of them slip by barely noticed while others are filled with awareness of the changes they represent.  "Lasts" are mile markers of the changes in life.  Some we eagerly anticipate, like the last payment on a mortgage, while others come with mixed emotions, like the last day a child is home before heading off to college.

I have been thinking about some of the "lasts" in our lives.  It seems like there are so many of them.
  • The last time Dennis drove a car was the night we got the call that told us an MRI earlier in the day showed a mass in Dennis brain and we should head to the emergency room.  Yes, we weren't thinking too clearly in letting him drive at that point, but it would be the last time he ever drove a car.  Dennis told me once that he hopes there are cars in heaven so he can drive again.
  • There have been many "lasts" in regards to his treatments.  The last chemo, the last radiation, the last MRI...  Each one of these came with mixed emotions.  Glad there were done but fearful of what lay ahead.  
  • I remember the last time we played a game of UNO together as a family.  Dennis struggled with it but it was still fun to have that time together.
  • Personally there have been a lot of "lasts" - the last night we shared a bed, a last hug, a last conversation just before falling asleep.  I miss these the most.
  • On a beautiful summer day we had our last picnic together.  It was a spur of the moment decision to get out and enjoy a beautiful day at the park.  We packed up Dennis' wheelchair, bought subs and went to the park.  After we ate I pushed him around it on a walking trail.  It was a great day.  
  • Our last date with just the two of us was also a spur of the moment decision.  We went to Olive Garden for lunch.  Ironically, it was also the place we had our first date alone as a couple.  
  • Recently there have been so many lasts - the last time Dennis walked was the day he fell and went into the hospital. The last ride was on the way home from the rehabilitation center.  I don't remember the last conversation we had where he was able to easily talk with me in more than just a word or two.  I so miss hearing his voice and being able to learn from his wisdom.
Yes, our lives have changed drastically in the last 30 months.  Some of those changes have come so gradually that they slipped by almost unnoticed, while others have been abrupt and hard to miss.  We miss our old lives but at the same time we have grown in ways we would never have imagined.

We have a new and vibrant view of heaven.  By all appearances it looks like Dennis will see Jesus face-to-face and experience the joys of full healing and the splendor of heaven in the near future.  I know he will be waiting for us when we too join him there.  

I have a deeper faith and trust in God's provision than I ever had in the past.  Seeing God provide for us has strengthened my walk with the Lord.  I know there are those that would say, "But how can you say that when God is allowing Dennis to be taken with this cancer?"  My answer is always, that I don't understand it but I have learned to trust God and cling to Him in ways I never would have imagined.

Dennis is home now with the services of hospice assisting us.  He spends all of his time in bed and requires help with everything except for feeding himself.  We continue to trust God with our needs and have seen Him supply in miraculous ways.  We don't know when other "lasts" will come but we do know we can trust in the One who knows tomorrow and loves us.  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Settling In

We have been home a few days now and I think we are beginning to settle in some.  The various aides that have been here have been very good and have helped me come up with some easier ways to assist Dennis.  I'm thankful for their expertise.

Willow has been glad to have Dennis home too.  When we set up his bed and put his pillow on it, she kept going there and falling aseep.  Now that he is home, she spends lots of time snuggling with him.




In the last few weeks I have been talking and thinking a lot about all that we have enjoyed over the years God gave us to together.  We have been able to travel together during those years and enjoyed seeing so much of the U.S. and loved Nova Scotia.  Of course our highlight from traveling will always be China.

I would love to grow old with Dennis but it does not appear that is what God has in store for us.  Pleas pray for us as we walk through the days ahead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dennis is Home

Today was the day to go home.  After a month away either at the hospital or the rehab center, Dennis is finally home.  He is home with the aid of hospice care services.  In the next few days we will be meeting with his nurse and aides.  The nurse will come at least once a week to check on him and aides will be here every morning and most evenings to help get him ready for the day and to help get him ready for bed.  There are two nights when I will not have an aide but they are working on getting someone for those nights as well.

The move itself went well.  We knew it would be tiring for Dennis, and it was, but he is glad to be home.  We are going to be adjusting how we do things as we go along but I'll have the experts from hospice to help with that.

Thank you so much for your contributions to Dennis' relief staff.  Words just cannot express our gratitude.  I have a call into a local nursing school to see if some of the student nurses would be interested in working for us.  If that does not work out, there are agencies through which you can hire staff that I will be contacting.  Just knowing we have the ability to ensure Dennis is taken care of and I can do things like attend Brooklyn's school events or go to church is huge.  Thank you.

Willow, our spaniel, has been laying on Dennis' pillow since I made his bed up.  As soon as Dennis was settled into bed, she jumped on the bed and cuddled with him.  I think she missed him.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for Dennis to be comfortable with all the new people who will be assisting with his care.
  • Pray we can find some good relief staff to help us as well.
  • Pray my back does not give me problems from all the care I am providing.
  • Pray for Brooklyn as she continues to process all that his happening around her.
  • Pray for all of us that we will bring God glory through this stage of Dennis' illness.
Many of you may have heard of Brittany Maynard, a young women with the same diagnosis as Dennis, who chose to end her own life this week.  A friend of ours shared our story in a radio spot as a contrast to the choices Brittany made.  You can listen to it here.  http://wifamilycouncil.org/brittany-and-dennis-same-disease-different-story-2/


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hospice

The weeks Dennis has spent in rehab have not helped him gain back the use of his right side.  Today we made the decision to enroll in hospice and work on getting the supports we would need in place for Dennis to come home.  We will meet with the team at the rehab center and the hospice team to define what equipment and support staff I will need to be able to care for him at home.  Since Dennis cannot stand or even move himself in bed, it will take a lot of equipment and planning to make sure I can care for him.  The expertise of the hospice staff along with the recommendations from the rehab staff will help us get a plan in place.

Dennis and Brooklyn snuggling before we left for the evening.

The one area that hospice does not cover is providing relief staff so I can have time off.  This will need to be provided through privately paid staff or volunteers.  The link on the right of this page is to a fundraising site that will collect donations for that purpose.  Throughout this journey we have seen God provide in marvelous ways and we know He will continue to do so now as well.  I have had several people ask me to set up a donations site and have been reluctant to do so. But with the need for staff to assist me and believing I should listen to the counsel of those around me I set up a YouCaring site.  Thank you for any assistance you can give us.

Please pray for:

  • The planning of the details needed to care for Dennis at home.
  • The move - this will be very tiring for Dennis.
  • The people God will bring into our lives during this part of the journey.
  • Brooklyn as she processes through the changes with Dennis.
  • Ellen as she becomes a 24/7 caregiver for Dennis.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rehab Update

Dennis has been in rehab for a week.  It has been a full week with therapy dominating his time.  By the time the ladies are done with him he is exhausted.

Since the fall and seizure he has lost use of his right arm and leg.  We had hoped this would come back but at this point we are not seeing that happen.

We have a team meeting tomorrow to assess his progress and goals.  If he is benefitting from being here we will continue but if not we will be looking at how he can go home and have the supports he needs.   Most likely this would include hospice.

Keep praying for wisdom and peace as we travel this road.

Dennis at therapy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Moving to Rehab

Dennis is doing well today.  He was up in the morning, snoozed through much of the late morning and early afternoon and up a bit tonight.  He is scheduled to move to Oakwood Rehab at 10:30 tomorrow morning.  Please keep him in your prayers as this will be a very tiring day for him.

Our goal is to get him home as soon as possible.  If we find that he is gaining strength at the rehab place he will stay there for awhile but if that is not the case, we will be looking at ways to get him home where he can be with us.  This may include accessing the services of hospice.

We can't say enough about the amazing staff on the B6 unit at the University of Wisconsin Hospital.  We were blessed with a team of nurses and support staff that went out of their way to ensure Dennis had the care he needed.  The social worker also was amazing in helping us get Dennis into the rehab center close to home.

We don't know what the days ahead hold.  Dennis' body is tired and it appears the last 28 months are catching up with him.  Please pray for us in the days ahead to know what decisions to make and for Dennis to regain strength if this is possible.  Dennis on the night we found out he had a brain tumor said to me, "God can be glorified in this too."  Please pray that is the case in the days ahead.  We desire to finish this journey well.

His address is:

5565 Tancho Dr, Madison, WI 53718