#8 Coping with Health Crisis

Before the health crisis, at the after Christmas sale, I  bought a glittering tree ornament, a three-dimensional Fleur-de-lis and hung it from our bedroom curtain rod. The Fleur-de-lis is often associated with royalty. The three petals may also signify the Trinity.  Each time I opened and closed the bedroom curtains I was reminded that I am a daughter of the King of kings.

Fleur de Leis

1 Peter 2:9 declares “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

The King does not forget His sons and daughters. He watches over us in every hour of the day and night.

Grief   Changes  Vortex  Alive  Stunned   Lonely

One night I wrote in my journal: It seems so futile to rehearse it again. I did not call a friend for prayer because I am tired of going over the details, grief and changes. Our lives, our marriage have changed drastically. We have been thrown into the vortex of a nightmare that we cannot awaken from. We will have to adapt and become resilient to the changes that are required of us. And there will be many changes.

They are telling us that Bob will come home with a walker. We need to hire a plumber to raise the toilet seats. He will likely continue to require dialysis 3 times a week. No one can tell us for how long. However long it takes for his tubular necrotic kidney tissue to heal. If it heals. Doctor said he would give Bob a 50% chance of recovery.

He is constantly short of breath. The white count is going down, yet he is still on oxygen and breathing treatments that are a nebulizer with his inhaler medication in it.

They continue to give him heart medication though the arrhythmia has subsided. Is that due to the medication?

Diarrhea plagues him and he is too weak to get to the toilet in time. Or coughing hard makes him soil himself. Or he cannot get up during dialysis. The embarrassments of serious illness.

I am concerned about his mental state. He has had a major life change. At what point does someone talk with him and offer him counseling?

I rejoice that he is alive. I ache that he is suffering. He is stunned by his weakness. He is stunned by how close he came to dying. His eyes bulged when the nephrologist talked about his 50% chance of recovery. Yes, he accepts the fact that people can live a long, long time on dialysis. Someone is hounding me about kidney donor lists. I am ready to ignore those emails.

I am feeling the loneliness of being here for 20 days without him.” So ended that entry.

Waiting to be moved to an acute rehab unit,  Bob was sitting up every day now and I noticed a distinct change in his posture. More often than not he was hanging his head, almost like looking in his lap. It is hard to describe how this upbeat jokester went from usually looking around for his next tease topic to this posture of defeat, discouragement, exhaustion, probable depression. He had to work really hard to get his strength back.

When they moved him to the rehab unit, he was walking at first thirty-six steps with a therapist holding his middle with a belt and another aide walking behind him with a wheelchair, then gradually 236 steps, and eventually more with only a rolling walker and no aides or belt. His appetite took longer to recover than his legs and walking ability. He was determined to get better, but discouragement was available all the time.

The church people stepped up in a huge way! The women came to clean our house, top-to-bottom. I had been home alone for almost a month and did not worry about the house. Two guys came to build a larger step in the garage, one that would accommodate his walker. A neighbor put the license plates on Bob’s new car for me. Bob had barely driven that car when he got sick.

Another journal entry, JAN 29  5:14 AM   “And the time is close for bringing him home. I am more than a little frightened? Intimidated is more accurate. He has had constant nursing care since January 4 when he almost died. Now there will be home health care, and 24/7 nurse on call, but I have so many questions.

“His O2 level still seems low to me. There are times he is basically gasping for air? Do we need O2 in the house? How will I know when his cough needs attention? He is taking “tesa pearls” and Mucinex, but is that enough?

“I have a sinus thing starting again. I do not want to get him sicker.

“God, there are so many variables and moving parts here. I am clueless.

“I need You more than ever for wisdom, guidance, comfort.

“I have been awake since 2:10AM. Guess I will lie down again and try to sleep.

“Maybe Lidocaine patches on my back will help the pain?

“He is weak.

“He, too, is intimidated. What if he hits a depressive episode just coming home and realizing just how much he has changed?

“Help. I have been warned to take care of myself. Having him home moves the responsibility onto me instead of the hospital support staff.”

We eventually got him home. I pray this is encouraging you in your own journey. I am well aware that I am not the only wife who has recently had a critically ill husband. I personally know of three others right this minute. It is a difficult journey. We each tend to withdraw at the time. Perhaps reading this can encourage you or someone you know that their struggle is shared by others?