Saturday, June 30, 2012

T-10 and Holding

For those of you who are following us, we are still in a holding pattern.  Joe had his kidney infection test done at the dialysis unit and the results were supposed to be sent directly to the Mayo Clinic.  We haven't heard from them, so we are thinking that no news is good news. 

The boys have begun to ask more and more "how many more days".  I was planning to do a cutesy, pinterest countdown, but they insisted on making a good ol' fashioned paper chain.

They cut it out themselves and stapled it together.  It now has 10 loops.  Ten.  A number that can be counted on your fingers.  So close.

And not a moment too soon.  We used to have good days and bad days.  Now, we just have bad days and, if we are lucky, not-so-bad days.  His "off" days have been filled with sleeplessness, pain, discomfort, and extreme exhaustion. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

T-12: Do You Remember When....?

Many of you have asked what you can do to help.  Thank you so much.  We are touched by how many of you have written words of encouragement.  It helps.  It really does.

On Tuesday, we went down to see the doctors for one last visit before the surgery.  They gave us so much information that we were overwhelmed at first.  We had to take time to process it all and sort it all out.  But now, it is beginning to sink in. 

Since Joe will be in ICU following the transplant, he will not be allowed to have visitors.  Sorry.  I know that some of you live in the Phoenix area and wanted to visit, but no-go.  The doctor said that because he will be on immunosuppressants, he cannot have contact with the outside world.  Only one-caregiver; me. 

For the same reasons, he cannot have flowers/plants.  Not that Joe is a huge flower person anyway, but just in case you thought it would be a nice gesture.  No flowers.  The doctor did say that he could have silk flowers, but again, Joe's not that into flowers and it wouldn't really bring him joy.

What does bring him joy is reminiscing.  He loves to look at old pics and tell me where you were and what you were doing.  He has an amazing memory.  He will show me a pic with peaks in the background.  He will tell me the name of the pass, the elevation, and what happened on that hike.  It usually goes something like this:

"A bear ate our food so we had to eat trout until our next food drop."

"When we descended Whitney, we only had $2.  So, we bought a lottery ticket, won, and ate like kings at Subway."

Some of you are laughing right now because you too have heard these stories.  I never tire of them as Joe's whole countenance changes while he tells the story.  I love him so much (kind of goes without saying, but just feeling so much love for him lately). 

Our local hospital has a slogan:  Get better and get back to what you love.  The accompanying pic is of two hikers sitting on a mountaintop.  Very apropos.  If you know Joe, you know he loves hiking and fishing.  He wants to take the boys to the Sierras so badly.

So, what can you do?  You can help him reminisce about the good ol' days and help him get better, so he can get back to what he loves.  Maybe you have pics of hikes you two took together.  Maybe you have stories of adventures.  Or maybe you have met Joe in the latter years and he wasn't feeling well enough to hike or have adventures.  You could send Scriptures. 

Pinned Image
Pinned from Elizabeth Schow Bellanca

I would like to make a "book" like this for Joe.  It could be store-bought cards, but Joe wouldn't mind if it was notebook paper.  Scrapbook paper.  A napkin.  Send me pics, your adventures written out, Scripture.  I will put it in a binder.  We will take it to Mayo, so he can look at it whenever he wants.  That way, he can get better and get back to what he loves.

We are leaving home on Monday, the 9th (hopefully).  We live in the mountains and mail seems to take longer, plus there is a holiday thrown in.  To ensure that we have the letter before we leave, I'm thinking you would need to mail it by Monday, the 2nd.  We will have mail delivery down there, but still not sure where we will be staying, so not sure what the address is yet.  Our home address is:
Joe and Susan Rodriguez
107 N. Comanche Dr.
Pinetop, AZ 85935

Even if you don't have anything to mail in, your prayers are needed and precious.  Thank you again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

T-13: It Takes a Village

As the familiar saying goes, "it takes a village to raise a child", it honestly takes a village to have a transplant.  Mayo Clinic knows this and has named their transplant residence "The Village at Mayo Clinic".  We know this to be true as well.  So many of you have helped out in so many ways.  From those who have taken time off work to be with us.  Some have taken the boys in, while Joe is on dialysis.  Some have brought meals.  Some celebrated with us at the Kidney Benefit Dinner.  One person brings in our trash can (not sure who, but have a few "suspects").  And all have prayed for us.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You are a source of such comfort.

Yesterday was a big day.  A day full of testing and more training.  We came away overwhelmed.  I'm not sure if up until now we have been in a state of self-preservation or if it was naivete, but we didn't realize how big this whole transplant process is.  Here's what we know (and don't know) at this point:

  • We still don't know about Joe's infection.  The doctor wanted one more urine test, but by the time we got out of the office, the lab was closed.  In fact, we were the last to leave.  Joe will have to take the test today and we will have the results on Friday.  Please continue to pray about this.
  • Joe most definitely will need to be in Phoenix for at last 4 weeks.  Longer if there are any complications.  We were hoping he could come home to recover and just drive to Phoenix for follow-up appointments.  No chance.  While there, he will need 24 hour supervision.  I asked about the possibility of making a 20 minute run to Wal-Mart in case we get low on groceries.  She said that by no means can I leave him for even 20 minutes, even after 4 weeks.  Please pray for clarity while I pack that I remember EVERYTHING.  To say that my memory has suffered lately is an understatement.  
  • We wanted to show the boys the Transplant House, so they would know where mommy and daddy would be staying.  We attempted to make our reservation for the night before the surgery and the following 4-6 weeks.  They appear to be full now and have placed us on a wait list.  Please pray for a place to stay.  It doesn't have to be the Transplant House, but that would be nice as it is on the Mayo Clinic campus, is VERY low cost, and is close to the pharmacy (I'll talk about that next).  We are looking into other avenues at this time.
  • The kidney nurse talked to us about medications.  We knew that Joe would be on at least 6 pills post-op.  We just had no idea of side-effects.  We just had to tell each other that the side-effects are worth it.  Dialysis or pills?  I think we all know how he feels about dialysis.  
Our bright spots:
  • The boys did very well.  It was a grueling 10 hours in the doctor's office.  Ok, even I got tired.  But, we sought out nooks and let the boys spread out and play.  
  • Joe's fistula is reversible.  The fistula is a connection of an artery and a vein to create a super vein for dialysis.  The vein is very large and uncomfortable for Joe.  It is also very loud and makes it hard for him to sleep at night.  The doctor said that one year post-op, he will reverse it.  Praise the Lord.
  • The fact that we are even having this conversation is a blessing.  No one knew 3 years ago that we would be standing here right now.  No one knew 8 months ago that we would be accepted by Mayo Clinic and receiving a kidney from a friend.  This is how I see it:
The two hikers knew they still had at least one more peak to crest.  Yet, they couldn't see the peak while hiking to this point.  Yesterday, they took an exploratory walk and glimpsed the enormity of the climb.  Alone, it is daunting.  However, they aren't alone.  "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, for the Lord God is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you, nor forsake you" Deuteronomy 31:6  They have returned to base camp to prepare for the ascent.  

Please join us in prayer.  It takes a village.

Monday, June 25, 2012

They just love me for my swing.

At T-15, I realize that my most recent posts have been sort of heavy.  This post will make you laugh.  Read all the way to the end. 

A few weeks ago, we were gifted with a very nice patio swing.  It holds three (or 4) people and can even lay flat.  The intention is so Joe can rest outside and get fresh air.  It's very comfy.  It's also the talk of the town.  My friends just love me for my swing :)
  • Amy: I sleep sooooo good in the rain!
  • Amanda:  I know...Susan got a new porch swing and it lays down...I keep wanting to go take a nap over there.
  • Amy: lol. You know they're out of town now! Here's your chance! haha.
  • Amanda: She said if it's missing when they get back they will know where to look...
  • Amy: haha. You don't have to steal it. Just go to their house and USE it! haha.
    Take your awesome blanket, and a fluffy pillow... and make some tea or hot cocoa... and just swiiiiiiiiing.....If you don't, I might, because that sounds amazing! haha.
  • Amanda: I know it does...I think it would be funnier if you did it, because if Josh and Jenn show up to work on the house, they know me, but you are a complete stranger.
    Although, even though I know them it would still be incredibly awkward.
  • Amy: haha!  Only if you promise to explain it to the cops they call.
    You're my first contact when they try to have me locked up!
  • Amanda: We could just be like, well, I know they are out of town, but they don't mind us using their porch swing.  Amy Who?
  • Amy: lol
  • Amanda:  If you're locked up, I don't have to fight you for the swing!
  • Amy: that's true... I could be your distraction!  While they're busy with ME... you'll have peace on the swing
  • Amanda: Yep!
  • Amy: I'd do that for you. Because I'm THAT kind of friend!
  • Amanda: Haha.  It would work out for you too...If you're locked up, you don't have to work.
  • Amy: And I can take a day off to do literally NOTHING!!!
  • Amanda: Not even clean your house!
  • Amy: Headline reads: Local business woman steals 'swing' time while friends are away...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

T minus 20

The countdown is on and we are 20 days away from THE TRANSPLANT.  Yippee!  Even though Joe goes to dialysis 3 times per week, his body is still filling with toxins.  His kidneys only function at 11% y'all.  I can't even imagine getting out of bed at 11%.  But, he's a trooper.  He still plays with the boys.  He cooks dinner.  He straightens the living room (which is in an ever-messy state with the boys).  Yet, I know he's not doing well.  I can take one look at his face and know he's not feeling well.  He's trying to hide it, but after 12 years together, you notice these things.

At T-20 (twenty days until transplant), you would think that we are uber excited with anticipation.  However, Joe has a bad kidney infection.  He has had it for over a month.  He has had an antibiotic shot and a full round of antibiotics.  The doctor called and said they found 3 forms of bacteria in his urine and he is still having the same problems even after the antibiotics.  He goes in for final testing on T-14 (in 6 days).  They won't do the transplant if he even has so much as a common cold, let alone a kidney infection with 3 forms of bacteria.


But we serve a mighty God.  I ask that you join me in prayer that God would heal Joe of this kidney infection and keep all other infections at bay.   I know He can do it.  He created earth and all living things in 6 days, surely He can heal Joe of this infirmary in 6 days.  May the glory go to God.  Not the doctors, because they have tried.  We are thankful for them and for modern medicine.  But, may God get the glory for the whole transplant and healing.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Hike

A hiker and her best friend were on a hike.  They were having a good time. 

Photo of a backpack leaned against a tree.

Partway into the hike, the best friend started to get weak.  The hiker took his backpack, so he could use his strength to just carry on.  She had to take a few things out of her own pack to lighten the load.  Things that she had thought were important at the onset of their hike.  Things that were not as important that she knew she could put down for awhile and come back to later. 

At about the same time, the trail started going up.  Steeply.  Not too much longer after that, the best friend had a hard time even walking.  The hiker took care of him, as well as carrying both packs, setting up camp every night, and catching the fish to feed them.  The time came when the best friend could not even get up anymore.  The hiker had to literally carry him.  This may seem an impossible load for the hiker to bare.  Yet, her strength was renewed.  She soared on wings like eagles.  Ran and didn't grow weary.  Walked and was not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Some may question the hiker as to what she chose to leave behind.  They may even be upset at the things that were "dropped" along the way.  Remember, those were deemed not AS important; not necessarily UNimportant.  What was important was that the hiker finish her course with joy, the task the Lord Jesus had given her.  Acts 20:24

Have you ever realized that "trial" and "trail" have the same letters?  It's a trial if you put "I" first.  Trail if you put Abba first.  We have turned our trial into a trail.  Tomorrow is the best friend's birthday.  Exactly one month after that is the transplant; another form of birthday.  New life.

where Glory meets my suffering