Sunday, October 12, 2014
Not a good day for Honey. Very ill. God is good.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Spent the afternoon with Honey. The routine is slowly being established. A man came to look at my barn and see if it can be refurbished or not. I took the dog to the vet. A friend met me at Honey's and we cleared all of the sticks and branches out of the yard...she was smarter than me, wearing high boots to wade through the lake of water standing all over his yard in the lower spots and hidden in the grass. She gave me the sad news that a mutual friend had passed away and I had time to get home, clean up, and then attend the funeral. I left the service and headed for the Hospital. One of the conversations I passed tonight was between a tall father and a pretty little girl who was holding a bottle of pop in each hand. He was telling her that she might have to share her soft drink with her mother who might have an upset tummy. The little girl was informing him that Mommy had something to drink in her room and wouldn't need her Sprite. Daddy was still talking when the door closed behind me.
These solo trips to and from Louisville have really brought advice from John Lowry to the front of my mind. "Pay attention. Look at color, shapes, patterns and really pay attention." The leaves are starting to change, many fields have been harvested and there are rows of stubble or tall grass all along the side of the road, and many people have already decorated for Fall. What I seem to be paying attention to most is the expression on the faces I pass. At the hospital people are tired and anxious and huddle in groups or walk quickly down passageways to get to rooms or out of the building. Staff is usually disconnected, tired after shifts or hurrying to get in to their stations to clock in on time.
The smells are there too. There's a café that promises a daily special and delivery service all over town. The odor of heavy grease hits hallway down the passage and lingers out the exit door. Passing the inner emergency room entrance pungent cleaners and sterilizing agents fill the lungs and in just a few more yards that scent is replaced with the hint of cinnamon hiding behind the doors of the cafeteria on the opposite side of the elevator hall.
I pass Honey's oldest daughter in the hall. She plans to head for church and we compare notes on what we need to get for Honey's comfort. She'll look for something that he can play DVDs on so that he can watch the Gaither's while he's sitting up in the chair and I plan to bring him a fleece blanket to wrap up on dialysis days. The machine cools the blood as it washes it and puts it back in the body and it causes extreme chilling to the system. Honey had 5 folded thermo blankets on top of him and was still shivering and asking for more cover. I also want to get copies of church services. He needs to hear the encouragement of the Word. I was able to contact the nursing manager and tell her that I was impressed with the care I'd seen for the last 2 days. I want to speak words of encouragement as much as words of scolding. People need to hear when they're doing something right.
God sent us a messenger tonight. Her name was Diane and she was a fireball. She came into the room announcing "I'm working on staying saved today, yes I am!". She looked after Honey and talked the whole time. She talked about salvation, trusting God, learning to wait on His healing. She said that the woman we heard singing in the hall the other night was called 'Sissy' and she sings all the time. Sissy was healed from addiction to cocaine 20 years ago and has been singing ever since then. Diane put her hand on Honey's hand and looked him straight in the eye. She told him that God's healing was not just about touching his body, but it was also about healing in the family at large. She talked of extended blessings that come when a person is trapped in sickness that causes the whole family to come together. We talked of Daniel, and the Hebrew children and how God did not keep them from the trouble...He just went with them into the trouble. She testified and I praised the Lord.
Honey had a lot of trouble staying awake today. Diane told me that when she came in at 7am he was trying to climb out of bed and told her that he had to exercise. He'd been up in the cardio chair for over 2 hours...and I found out that the bed is so they can keep accurate weights on him for the dialysis. She said that it was clear that his spirit and determination was fighting to make his body recover.
Everyday is a new day and this has been a ride I wish I'd never had to get on. But there is a reason for each challenge and there is a Father Who knows exactly where we are in every situation. He knows my name and is in the room with Honey when I can't be there. I will trust Him. He has never failed me yet. Praise His Holy Name
Friday, October 10, 2014
If you ever think that you have no power to make a difference, consider this. We are told in Philippians to “mark them which so walk”. In the Word it was referring to staying close to the teachings of the Lord in order to influence others as well as to be cautious about whom you allow to influence you. In any field, any career, any aspect of life…this adage can be implemented as a guideline for living. We are marked by our attitudes, reactions and even lack of action by the people who watch us. What we say and do and how we go about our daily business can either bless or hinder the people around us far more than we seem to pay attention to.
For the last week I have observed questionably disconcerting care that Honey has received and I’ve been praying for a glimmer of hope that his needs would be addressed and that he would not face more delays in physical therapy or medical issues. I walked into a room full of staff last night who were working as a team to get him moved from one bed to another. I don’t know what the difference in structural advantage was …but someone somewhere decided that he needed the ‘new’ bed. The move was not a smooth one and one nurse literally climbed up on the head of the new bed, standing over Honey’s head, in order to get leverage and another male nurse climbed up on the bottom of the old bed to lift up while two other nurses, Honey’s youngest daughter and I pulled and pushed the entire mattress to its new home. The two jumped down and the dance began to get the discarded furniture out of the room and the new into place. The staff was not loud, but they did banter and tease with Honey and worked to put him at ease and let him know that he was safe. It took a few minutes, but he was not harmed and relaxed once everyone got out of the way. The male nurse, tough looking and efficient, double checked all of the tubes and connections Honey is hooked up to and didn’t leave until everything was in place. The lights were on all over the room and even though it is a clinical setting, it just looked less threatening . His personal items were in reach and neatly arranged and all the extra things, like body wedges, emergency equipment, and straps for PT had been put into drawers and closets for easy access but out of the way. I could see that nurse checking the “Room Free of Clutter” box on his nightly charting.
Honey told us that he had been up in a chair for 2-3 hours during the day, that his antibiotic was discontinued, and that a doctor had been in and changed or discontinued other medications. His potassium was elevated on the morning labs (always drawn after dialysis to determine when the next treatment will be) and his feeding had been changed. He was fully alert and aware of what was going on and could tell us his care plan through today. When a patient tells a family “I don’t know” when they ask “what did they say” …it might just be that no one has taken time to talk to that patient in their speed of comprehension and using words that make sense to the person. I can talk to the staff using terminology that is common to medical workers ..but I cannot use those phrases to explain to my patients what the doctor is planning for them. I have to communicate in their realm. Last night, it was obvious that during the day people had taken time to slow down, inform him, and communicate with him in a manner that was clear to him. While in the room, we all noticed just how quite the hallway was after everyone had left. The unit has been filled with clamoring, loud talking, banging of carts, and just intrusively chaotic noise most of the week, but last night it was still and calm. We could hear voices interacting occasionally, but very pleasantly and controlled. A female staffer went by and we could make out the words she was singing, something like ”what can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus”. That sound lilted into the room and every one of us began to smile. When I had come down the gauntlet to his room many people had nodded or somehow acknowledged my passing. Lights were on in almost every room and staff was not congregating behind the walls of the nest. There was an atmosphere of confidence there, of focus, of attention. I did not feel a high stress level or a rushed, ‘gotta get out of here’ going on. Just that calm.
To me that’s the epitome of being in the job and not just on the job. We Christians can talk the talk and say that we want to offer peace to a troubled world, but if we are not at peace in our own hearts then we have nothing to offer but words. If I don’t live my faith daily, I have no faith. I’m pretending. I have enough professional experience to pass a joint commission survey, but once those inspectors leave my office, my patients know the real story. And that’s us in the church…when a person commits their heart totally to the Word, the Word becomes ALIVE in their actions and words…it’s who they are, it’s what they do, it’s how they live. I want to be alive in my relationship to Christ and I want that life to be evident The staff on duty last night was an integrated body of workers that used their skills and relationships together as a team to literally create an atmosphere of healing where despair had lived the day before. Attitude does make the difference. People react to whatever attitude is presented when they meet you. When the Word tells us to think on good things, it’s not a Pollyanna dream world…it’s keeping the important things first and setting aside the bickering and hostility and combining talents to make a difference in our personal worlds. I was talking with a community member today and we were considering just how many churches we have in the same county. We’re all saved by the same blood from the same Christ who hung on a cross and the only thing that keeps us from being one body is our human natures that put carpeting and opinions over the commission God gave to His Bride. My grandson says, ‘Get over it’, and whether it’s the shifts that take care of Honey or the local church that is supposed to be taking the Word to the soul sick community, we need to ‘get over’ our personal interests and just do the job. God has bigger and better things in store if we would just follow His lead.
Honey was awake, tired, but calm and seemed more content. Before we left, we gathered around the new bed, joined hands and put the cards on Honey’s lap so that we could pray for unity, for a hedge of protection, for the rehab staff, for each other, for the church, and of course for Honey’s kidney to restore as well as so much more. Jesus has healed amputations, withered hands and legs, blind eyes, deaf ears, and raised the dead. This is a small thing for him. I was so tired two nights ago…and then last night I saw again….But God!!!
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
I cannot tell the church what Sunday meant to me, to Honey and to his family. Last night the oldest daughter was taking pictures of the giant card and reading the notes that had been written on it. This may be a small thing to some people, but in this situation it is the small cloud in the distance coming with rain, and the rain is the anointing provided by the prayers of the Saints.
I agreed to join the Praise Team for the worship service, but even though I love worshiping with these gifted artists, knew that my brain was just dead in the water. We had pre service rehearsal, we talked about the arrangements, I listened and that’s about as far as it went. During both services I ruined a special arrangement on one of the songs that everyone had worked so hard on. To disappoint people you love and respect is a hard pill to swallow and I apologize for embarrassing the group with my distraction and ignorance. What was so gracious was that not one of them showed anger or contempt. They may not have been happy, but it was kind of them not to show it. The songs ministered to my soul and God let me see grace in action.
No one at the church had discussed or coordinated plans, but it seemed from the time I walked in until the last note of the last song following second service that the Lord was ministering to Honey and of course in turn to me. Two gifted song signers from church dedicated a song to him and performed a number that encouraged the body of Christ to get busy and take care of His business. I was a basket case both services. My presentations all this year have been on the church BEING the church and Honey and I strive to find ways to do things that will bring attention to Him. I often leave thank you cards with a tip in it for waitresses that tell them that Christ came to serve and that He loves them. Honey leaves notes on cars or at houses that he visits to make sure people know that he’s been thinking about them. What the church did Sunday morning…the card, the special song, the congregational prayer, and the message that was based on Isaiah 49:13-16 (“the Lord ….will have mercy upon his afflicted…..they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me”)the comments and the greetings, everything was an encouragement. A mission hearted sister came and shared that while she was ministering in Haiti, prayers were going up for Honey. Another mission leader from the church told me that his daughter, currently serving in Tunisia, sent word that they were praying for Honey. Around the states, people have continued to call, write, sent messages through texting and e-mail and social networks that God will provide. One couple, facing medical issues of their own, sent a love offering to Honey in a card last week that will be used to get his furnace serviced for winter. It wasn’t that the cash was a huge need, but in the hospital it had become a difficult maneuver for a couple of weeks to take care of routine business without access to the account and that was a blessing to be able to ‘get’erdone’ without a delay.
At the hospital, family had been able to visit and we read cards and talked of better days and once everyone had gone I pulled in a chair (I’m trying to find out if there are cameras to record my evil deeds) and put it by the bed. Honey was barely able to hold his head up. They’re keeping him upright to prevent choking now. I have opinions but will save them for another day. As far as the chairs go, I have stolen chairs several times out of the hallway from vacant spaces. I clean them with sanitizing bleach bringing them in and clean them again when I leave and put them back in their cubby hole. When I was being hurried from the area for the procedures last Saturday evening I left a chair in the room and Honey was lectured about it. So all the chairs in the hall disappeared completely. Nurse manager was in last night and asked if we needed anything and I simply asked for ‘chairs’ and told her what had happened. She nodded sympathetically, said she’d be back in a few, but when I left 2 hours later she was still MIA and no chairs were to be found. Evil visitors!!! Evil me!!!
Anyway, Sunday afternoon has always been our date day. We eat out with family or friends after church (and he insists on going to both services because he believes that the leadership ought to be available to both congregations) and then go to his house. He turns on the TV and I steal the controls, he leans back in his lounger and I pull up the oversized chair to sit beside it and, of course, a footstool since my chair doesn’t lean back…and then I sneak and turn up the AC or turn the heat down so that it’s cold in the house. I throw covers over us and in minutes we’re both snoring. I have to leave before dark…Sister is waiting and the town will talk…and we finish up the afternoon with “Call me when you get to the house and let me know you’re all right”. A hug and I’m off. Not very exciting, but as I’ve said before…it’s us. So, I watched him for a minute and finally asked if he were tired. He nodded and I told him…it’s Sunday…let’s just take a nap. I scooted over as close as I could with him so high above my chair and got him propped up on pillows and for the next hour he rested. An aide came in to turn him and once repositioned, me moving to the other side of the bed, he was back asleep minutes later. I stayed as long as possible, hated to leave and always feel these days that I might not see him again. But..God.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Entry two...just trying to catch up....
It has been 35 days on this journey. Monday I drove to see him and made it to the parking lot, became ill and called and told him that I had to go home. He was starting dialysis and I would not have been able to see him very long if at all. I went back last night and had only been there for a short while when his daughters and oldest grandson came in. His face radiated. He looked better yesterday than I’ve seen for days. His speech was more clear and he was able to speak with more force. He’s much more alert and interactive. Daughters had brought papers to sign and grandson was the notary. He seems settled and anything that helps the family will be a blessing.
I’m still playing at Honey’s house. All the upper cabinets and glass dishes are now washed and put away, so now I’m starting on the lower shelves. The cats did not enjoy the storms yesterday and stayed with me until I finished up. Neither cat enjoys loud noises, so adapting to me has been troublesome in itself. Honey is so quiet that I must be a fright for them when I go in each morning. Honey has never really had a lot of pets. He had lonesome the dog for a while and finally took him to Locust to live. He had to. Lonesome developed the habit of fetching the paper for Honey…from other people’s porches. Once he had been moved to Locust, Lonesome took up with a neighboring farm and lived happily ever after.
Honey’s first pet was Pete the Pig. Not a bad pet for a little boy to have. They’re smart and loyal, and they like a good game of follow the leader. One of Honey’s chores was to keep the wood bin filled in the kitchen. He’d go out and get an armload and Pete would follow him back into the house off of the porch where he’d be sleeping. Lillian would be in the front room of the house and hear the commotion. Pete just didn’t have good traction on the linoleum floor. That wasn’t so bad when he was a piglet, but as he grew and reached a few hundred pounds, hiding Pete or even sneaking him in became more of a challenge. Pete would slip and slide and bang into the table and knock over a chair or two trying to keep up with Honey and Lillian would call out, “Have you got that pig in there on my clean floor again?!!!” Straight faced and pushing poor Pete back outside, Honey would answer back over his shoulder “No, Mom, I just slid when I came in”. I can’t help but believe that Lillian knew exactly what her youngest and his pig were up to. She kept breakfast biscuits on a plate in the warming oven over the stove and Pete was after his treat and Honey was more than glad to give his buddy a snack. Pete followed Honey up and down “he holler” for years until he became too big to handle and was taken to another farm to retire. I don’t want to think about it. The biscuit is enough for my consideration.
The family also had two horses for a time. One gentle and one uncontrollable nightmare. Buddy knew how to handle them though and kept them in line. The children just knew that they had to pick and choose their battles when they had to work the fields.
I commented to the nurse last night that I planned to bag the cats and bring them in for an illegal visit. The unit manager was in the room and gave me a lecture on respiratory infections, allergies, and the dangers of bringing in animals to a critical care unit. I should have, could have, would have…but didn’t. The less they know about me the better. But the unit will be safe from cat hair while Honey lives there.
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