Me, GE, Whirlpool and Maytag

As a nanny, helping with infant twins and a four year old I learned to do laundry by rote. Then moved on to help with a family with infant triplets. Three loads a day seemed to be the minimum amount. I called it bringing order out of chaos. Doing laundry for our family of four was relatively simple after that.

Then our family dwindled to three and eventually just the two of us.

I found when my adult kids were behind in their household affairs or in crisis, I could always do laundry for them.

When my son faced a recent health crisis, on many levels there was little I could do to resolve the situation. But I could always do laundry. Load after load, seemingly endless amounts of underwear then britches, a few shirts, and bed linens. I can always do laundry.

The rhythm of sorting, loading, changing machines to dry the fabrics, then the meditative process of folding and sorting into piles. Yes, I can always do laundry.

Stain treatment is likely to involve the pent-up energy of other unresolved situations, but the stains eventually yield, if not totally, then enough to reflect my efforts.

Yes, I can always do laundry… and when I am too old or frail to do laundry, hopefully my children will do the laundry for me. May I not prove to be a burden to them or crisis for them to resolve.

Finding My Way #2

February 21st I posted about finding my way through Fibro with God’s help. Especially the leading of the hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” Before I went to the hospital for diagnosis I occasionally heard things such as, “When you go to the hospital …” What? Who said anything about the hospital? (Later I realized this was reassurance so I would not go into utter panic at the idea.) I also heard “You will know an answer to what is causing this before the chicory blooms.”

One of the delights of early summer are when the chicory blooms blue flowers and the Queen Anne’s Lace starts to put forth white flowers in contrast to the blue. They often grow together along the roadside.

Chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace and Red Clover

How like the Lord to comfort my heart with something that He knew I would recognize and delight in! He was true to His word and we did have a diagnosis before the full bloom of those flowers. The flowers were lovely. The understanding of what it meant to have fibro, not so much.

In Acts 10:34 and Romans 2:11 Peter and then Paul assure us that God is no respecter of persons. He shows no favoritism or special treatment. Since the Lord was able to lead me through that time of fear and not knowing what was happening, I am certain you can be lead by His Spirit also. Still your heart and mind. Try every day to listen for that still small voice of comfort and guidance. Whether you have a chronic illness or not, God wants to speak with you. He desires your attention and presence.

When unexpected things such as hospitalization come your way, try to remember you are never alone and God wants us to do as Mary Englebreit illustrated:

#5 Fibro and Finding my Way

As I mentioned earlier, when first diagnosed I lost many of my friends who thought I should be able to pray for healing and get it. The Lord on the other hand kept telling me, “I will be with you in this.” So I chose to follow Him. They say the best way out of something is through. This hymn often comforted me. They skip verse 2 , and that is fine.

The lyrics are below:


Written by George Matheson and Albert Peace

1. O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths
its flow may richer, fuller be.
 
2. O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine’s blaze
its day may brighter, fairer be.
 
3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow thru the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain,
that morn shall tearless be.
 
4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Years later a heard a similar melody at a conference. I called my husband to try to find it. I had to get home and find out what that original one was! And I eventually did. There are times when the Holy Spirit “haunts” me with music. He comforts me in ways no one else can by dropping the line or melody of a hymn into my soul. Then I seek until I find and there is God ready to hold me close again!

I wish someone would update the language on this hymn, set it to guitar music, and bring it back again. Would love to sing it in church!!

In terms of fibromyalgia, verse 1, O Love that will not let me go. Ever. I rest in You and give You back the life I owe. In Your ocean depths the flow of my life will richer, purer be. Verse 3, O Joy that seeks me through pain, I cannot close my heart to You. Ever.

Where has your comfort been in times of deep distress? Can you lean upon that source eternally?


			

Tasting Misery and Joy #2

In 1990 I began a medical journey that continues to this day. After the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia came the challenge of learning about it and learning to live with it. I also dug around in my history. Interesting! Grandma Snapp had something they called rheumatism. She often applied vaseline with camphor and menthol to her aches and pains.

Something similar to this lovely can. And guess what!? They evidently still sell it at WalMart and other locations.

My mother called hers arthritis and used a combination of BenGay and alcohol to treat the symptoms.

I tried the BenGay, too. Alcohol does not heal anything.

I am most likely to use China Gel which my good friend Betty made me aware of. China Gel is a mixture of: Menthol, Camphor, Ginseng Extract, Angelica Extract, Lavender Oil, Aloe Vera, and Witch Hazel. Betty’s massage therapist uses it.

I teased Betty once when I found it at Amazon writing , “Look! We can order it in the handy gallon size!”

So this condition seems to be moving through the generations. Most likely to be in women, though men are known to suffer from it. The chronic pain brings the bread of adversity and water of affliction. The Lord has kept His promise though and never left me!

Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:20-21 (NRSV)

He led me to a group that informed me about the condition. I read up on as many medical journal articles and new publications as I could. The #1 treatment is exercise, and sadly, the hardest people to motivate to exercise are people with Fibro. Exercise does NOT make us feel better. It does help us cope in the long run.

For example, in 1991 I went to an aerobics class with my sister and could keep up with most of what they were doing. I did not feel bad at the time. The next day I could hardly get out of bed, walk or function. Such unrelenting pain and stiffness.

Do not tell a Fibro person “You are only as old as you feel.” Oh goodness, then I must be pushing 90!

Tasting Misery and Joy Fibro #1

How can it be that we can taste these things simultaneously? Don’t they seem mutually exclusive?

Yet in Isaiah 30:18-21 (NRSV) we read,  Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.  Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you.  Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.  And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

The bread of adversity, water of affliction accompanied by clear direction, instruction from the Lord Almighty. When I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1990 I experienced this misery and joy in combination. It was a weird time to say the least!

The doctors had difficulty diagnosing me and finally admitted me to a hospital for tests to rule out the other “big nasties.” For example, it was strange to have results come back from a brain scan that showed there was no brain tumor, and instead of being relieved my husband and I were frustrated and angry. After each test, with no definitive results, we kept thinking if this illness is not that, then what is it?

Fibro is a strange disorder. The diagnosis is basically process of elimination and a few factors that should be present for 3 months prior to diagnosis. I have now lived with Fibro for 29 years. At the time I had never heard of it. Today the Arthritis Foundation says:

“To diagnose fibromyalgia, your doctor will ask you about your health history and give you a physical examination. A physical exam can rule out other conditions that may cause chronic pain and fatigue.

A diagnosis is largely based on your input on the following criteria:

  • Widespread pain index (WPI) score: The WPI lists 19 areas of the body where it’s common for people with fibromyalgia to have pain. You get a point for each area selected.
  • Symptom Severity (SS) score, in which you rank the following symptoms on a scale of 0-3:
    • Fatigue
    • Waking unrefreshed
    • Cognitive symptoms
    • Physical symptoms such as headache, weakness, bowel problems, dizziness, numbness/tingling, hair loss
  • Symptoms present for at least three months
  • No other health problems that would explain the pain and other symptoms.” https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/fibromyalgia/diagnosing.php

So while my charismatic friends were telling me if I only prayed hard enough, or had enough faith I would be healed, the Lord was saying “I will be with you in this.” Should I try to pray this away when the Lord is speaking otherwise? Yikes. This is a long story and I hope to tell it well. Probably in several sections. Hope it brings enlightenment and encouragement to many. Not every person gets every symptom. Not all symptoms stay permanently. Sort of like living on a nightmare-go-round with symptoms instead of horses and carnival music.

There are a lot of artwork, posters and diagrams about Fibro online. Many of them sound sarcastic. That is likely caused by the fact that people with fibro do not LOOK ill and are often not believed when they talk about their symptoms. Below is one that is not too offensive, but descriptive.

They spelled stiffness wrong! Must be due to Fibro Fog.

Prompts to Prayer

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NIV2011)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV2011)

While running errands, I saw a woman who looked like someone at church. It was not the woman I know, but looked so much like her! I knew who she looked like but could not remember her name. Then I saw another woman, same impression, and knew it was a call to prayer. Saw another woman, same response.

When I realized Sunday morning that I was sitting two rows behind her and to the right, I could see during worship that she was weepy. Still no idea what might be happening. Asked one of the Pastor’s her name. Ah, yes! He knew it first try.

After the service I happened to see her looking a little lost and forlorn all by herself. I told her about the call to prayer for her and asked if she was okay. She teared up immediately. I told her I was sorry and did not mean to make her cry! When she regained her composure, she told me there had been a sudden death in the family that week. A younger man and it came as quite a shock and loss. I told her I would continue to lift her in prayer.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:10 (NIV2011)

Saw another man at the start of service who recently had shoulder surgery. He no longer had to wear his brace and sling but was rolling his shoulder in obvious discomfort. He greeted me as I was leaving to go volunteer in another part of the building. I asked him how he was feeling and told him I saw him rolling his shoulder. Stiff and uncomfortable was his answer. I asked if he had gone forward for prayer and he gave an answer that always disturbs me, “No. I leave that for people who really need it.” I told him, “Nonsense. We all need prayer.” I asked another prayer team member who was walking by to please pray for his comfort.

What if I had not listened to the clue to pray for the woman, even though I did not know details of her need? Yes, certainly, the Lord could have used someone else. What if I had not greeted her and told her I had been praying? She might not have understood how much the Lord loved her, to place a pray burden for her upon another. Sometimes I see familiar faces. Other times I pass cars on the road that resemble the cars of others. They can each be a call to prayer. What if I had not noticed the man in discomfort? He is so shy that at times I wonder if I am the only person he speaks to at church! Perhaps connecting with the other man in prayer will help him grow into another relationship.

I am no one special. The Holy Spirit moves through those who have given their lives to Christ and ask for His infilling. And then we need to listen and continually look to God for guidance. There are so many need and ways to bless people. Some are as simple as praying for them when they come to mind. If there is an opportunity, letting the person know you were lifting them can be a great encouragement and might even inspire them to pray for others. I tell others, “When you think of me, please pray.” That is based upon my experience over the years of the Lord bringing others to my mind and finding out later how much they needed prayer that day.

Try this out with God. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised at how often He uses you if you yield to the holy promptings.

“Thanksgiving, where it is genuine, does not primarily look at the gift and express appreciation; it looks at the giver and expresses trust.”


A Listening Heart by Brother David Steindl-Rast

Lotions and Potions

Many times my health seems like a house of cards!House Of Cards

I live in a  rather precarious balance. I actually think we all do! We act and think as if we are invulnerable to illness and misfortune. Then “WHAM!!” a virus hits and knocks us on our keester, as happened to me last week. I was going along fine, doing my chosen duties and chores, visiting with church members, crocheting and then suddenly ill. Sneezing that would not stop. Aches, pains, and

return of the dreaded vertigo!

house of cards falling

As I tried to recover and then was hit AGAIN by same virus six days later I remembered this verse I have been working on for several months. Might make you smile!

Lotions and Potions© 2018 Molly Lin Dutina
Lotions and potions
Creams, salves and plasters
Ointments and eye drops
Nose sprays and gases

Capsules and pills
Over counter and script
So many helpful
And such side effects!

?Whatever did grandma do
Without all this help?

We moan and complain
Living longer and longer
Avoiding suffering
the world takes as common

Forgive us and grant us grace,
Compassion for those
Whose suffering
we simply cannot suppose

Flu shots and shingles
Skyrocket in prices
Lidocaine patches in hundreds of dollars

Oh, dear Doctor,
Protect our wallets!!
Prescribe generics
For these geriatrics
We are going to be here much longer ..
Hope you saved up for
The Golden years that
Take all your gold!

 

#12 Recovery Came

Slowly. His kidneys began to heal and urine output increased. Dialysis changed from 3 times a week to two to once and none. Home physical therapist released Bob to his own workouts. Home health nurse had one more round with him. She discovered that his breathing was not as it should be. Pulmonologist saw him next day and admitted him for a couple of days to his favored Clermont Mercy hospital. When he was released he immediately wanted to drive his new car to the Amish country store to get a new wind chime. We did.

His improvements have continued. Bob works himself more than the therapist would have. Silver Sneakers class at the YMCA. Weight room and treadmill included. He began riding his bike again this summer.

He has come so very far!

From frail with Jeff getting a little fresh air at the hospital, To standing on his own during our Easter celebration to the Reds game with Emily and the Grandgirl!

P1070496

We are relieved and delighted to have him back. He sees a cardiologist soon about possible need for pacemaker. Seems the illness likely damaged one of the nodes that control heartbeat. His runs very low. Too low, if you ask me. Everyone says he will feel so much better once he gets one. I can barely keep up with him now!

I pray these many health/illness entries might have encouraged you if you have had a similar experience. Or if you know someone who has experienced this, perhaps you have gained a better appreciation of what they might have endured. I hope their outcome was as positive as ours.

We attended a funeral a few days ago. The man who died was in the hospital the same time that Bob was in ICU. That man has now gone home to be with the Lord. I was reminded all over again how very close we came to planning a funeral. His family remains in my prayers.

#11 Life with Recovery

FEB 10 The days are running into each other. I cannot remember if I did loosen the lid on the yogurt drink or I just meant to do it. I sometimes forget to set the timer on the morning coffee. I often forget to set up the coffee pot period.

Quiet time is interrupted by bathroom usage. My jaw aches. Is it sinus/fibro or just the long-term tension of living in this new situation? Do I care which one? No, I just want the aching throb to stop.

Prayer? I often forget to ask the Lord Jesus for anything. I just go do the next thing. Get the underwear, fetch the emesis basin, retrieve the forgotten straw. Plan the meal, stay upbeat, don’t take it personally. This is hard. SO hard. The shattering and rearranging of our 47 years of marriage. The recalibration of what matters and what to let go, ignore.

I do not eat right. Sometimes I cannot eat. Sometimes I worry what is happening to my own health. Carry this grief; let it go; have a good cry; carry on. Rhythm of recovery that is not to my pleasure. Will this happen? Will that happen? Stay in the moment. Celebrate? The events of success.

The reading yesterday was dance and sing to the Lord and I had difficulty even contemplating such a thing. Yes, I rejoice that Bob is alive. No, I cannot fathom where all this is going. Someone sneezes and I cringe. I try to wear a mask every place I go. Then I forget and am frantic if there is not one in my pocket. The weather gets mild and most people give a sigh of relief. I worry that they are deluding themselves. The flu is not over. What about norovirus and other infectious things that could take our household down?

mask

Some see me wearing a mask and comment that I am so smart. Others laugh at how absurd the mask looks. They have no concept of what we have endured so far in 2018. Simply do not get it. Good thing I have rarely cared what others think of me!

In December I made stacks of sweet potato portions that I froze. The package keeps coming open in the deep freeze. I need to open that up

mopand decide whether to take it to Help Center or send it along with Jeff to a Community meal at Grace. Make room in the freezer. Oh geesh, really? With all there is to attend to? This was going to be the year I instigated deep cleaning and pruning belongings in every room. I can barely get the floor mopped.

FEB 21 There is a stranger living in my house with a warm familiarity. I am not certain that I know this man, though I very much want him to be my husband. He has a tremor in his left hand that was never there before. He is grasping at the reality of weeks unavailable to him due to the medically induced coma and catastrophic illness. He almost died yet has not totally resurrected.

There are times when he frets and repeats himself. There are flashes of anger and impatience. His hair has thinned drastically. He smiles more than he used to. I think he has become his father in many ways.

I can tell he is making an effort to be caring and tender, but then the struggle to recover overtakes him and he hits a slump, withdrawing into his shell of coping.

bottle 2Urine output seems to have hit a plateau and I know this worries him with the question “Will my kidneys recover fully? Or enough to stop dialysis?” The access was clotting on Monday. His hemoglobin was not reported in his lab results and he thinks that is due to the clotting in the access. He does not want the access redone. He would rather stop dialysis for a week and see what happens. They pull fluid off of him. He then feels he must spend the next 24 hours just trying to rehydrate so he can produce urine. He is very frustrated. Yesterday Jeff and I walked to the corner with Bob using his walker. He was feeling victorious. Then sat in the garage in the sun talking with Jeff for a while.

Help me know how to touch this stranger with compassion and grace. Upon awaking from the medically induced coma he whispered that I need to be more gracious. Was that You, Lord?

 

# 10 Necrotic Kidney Tissue

Journal from FEB 1

“You are My servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off; do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.” ISA 41:9-10

The day Bob went to the ER, he had a sudden pain in his back. He thought he had pulled a muscle coughing. I thought at the time that was strange because he had not coughed for almost an hour. Later the doctors discovered the damage to his kidneys. The pain was right where you would experience pain if you had kidney infection. As long as he was suffering from the “acute tubular necrotic kidney tissue” he could not produce urine. Defined as : “Acute tubular necrosis is a kidney disorder involving damage to the tubule cells of the kidneys, which can lead to acute kidney failure.” Therefore, he could not remove the toxins in his blood. Necrosis is defined as the death of most or all of the cells in an organ or tissue due to disease, injury, or failure of the blood supply. Yikes..

A little kidney education here.”Dialysis is a process by which the excess toxins and fluid in the body can be removed. Hemodialysis is a form of dialysis where dialysis is performed intermittently. The blood in the body is continuously removed during the hemodialysis process and passed through an artificial kidney which cleans it.”

The treatment is an intermittent treatment and was performed in Bob’s case three times a week, each session lasting four hours. Sitting in a chair and getting progressively colder for four hours. Not moving around at all.  In evening he would have headache, fatigue, irritability, overall malaise. Feeling colder and colder and no matter how many blankets there was no warmth. Of course, if you take out all of someone’s blood, separate toxins and fluid, put it back so they are basically dehydrated: pretty awful feeling. Over a 48 hour period, he would get to feeling just a bit better and it was time to go do it again.

He mentioned that he could feel the prayers of all the people lifting him up. It felt to him like soft, rain falling. Not a chilling rain, but soft, encouraging rain. His best friend suggested his experience might be like this song:

Journal entry: “Oh Lord, without Your strength and help, without You holding us up, there is no way we would have made it through the month of January 2018. Today is February 1 and the Home Health Care nurse will come evaluate Bob and direct us in next steps. His O2 this morning is only in the 80’s. Not good. Bob says, “without enough red blood cells, you do not have enough oxygen carried throughout your body.” Some of this stuff scares me silly.

And yet, You tell me to not be afraid. “Do not be afraid. Do not rest there, Molly.”  So once again, I choose to trust You, Lord. I will make his egg and help him bathe and choose to trust and not be afraid. I would rather he bathe with the nurse today, but he wants to do that soon. You know, Lord, what I need to do to assist him in all ways. Equip me Lord.

I have had some deep episodes of grief over the sudden, abrupt changes in our married life. Such unforeseen developments that no one ever plans for.  Sometimes, when Bob is not around I just weep. Trying to process all this is very difficult. I continue to ask for prayers for us.

Gradually he began to urinate a little and measured and measured to determine if there was any increase occurring. Dialysis was populated with people who had been coming for a long time. Some had been there for years! Three times a week, four hours per session. We had no guarantee that Bob would not be one of those long term people.

Journaling again: I did make myself come straight home after I took him to dialysis. Made myself eat chicken noodle soup. Made myself watch a tv show and sleep. It felt as if I took a day off. Then went to AT & T to get estimate on upping our data plan before picking him up from dialysis.

I had made him hot tea for the ride home. ON the way home, he coughed and coughed; was unable to drink it at all. I knew that might happen but was still disappointing.

He was more accepting of his post dialysis fatigue, therefore less disturbed by it. We had a better evening. Watched news after dinner. Then “The Shack” in bed. I fell asleep twice. He slept until 2 AM. Got up to pee.  Took rest of his muscle relaxer, then he slept in recliner.

He was all hot to plan to send me away for a rest. I finally asked him to stop as I was crying. It is still too raw for this talk. I do not want to go to the Convent across town – too far. He was eager to hire a nurse or figure out when the kids could cover shifts and leave him alone at night. I think if I just take better care of myself during dialysis, I will be okay. This is what comes of my murmuring and complaining about someone’s indecisiveness about coming  to help us. I am so sorry I ever mentioned it to him. I should have known better.