Monday, July 30, 2012

The Good News and the Bad News

The bad news is that Joe must remain in the Transplant House, away from us, for another 18 days.  The Good News is Joe is spreading the Good News. 

If you have followed me for awhile, you have seen my blog transform.  I have changed my blog roll on the sidebar.  Take a second to scroll down to it (just under the Favorites section).  This is from today's "Our Daily Bread":

Recently I had a conversation with a woman who had experienced a very difficult situation. The stress had affected her health, so she had to visit the doctor frequently. But with a smile on her face, she told me that she has been able to use this painful circumstance as an opportunity to share Christ with her doctor.

In the book of Philippians, we read how the apostle Paul used his difficult situation—imprisonment—to preach the gospel. The Philippian believers were grieved because Paul had been arrested for preaching Jesus, but he told them that his bondage had “actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (1:12). The whole palace guard and others knew why he was in jail—because he preached Christ. Whoever came in contact with Paul heard about Jesus—whether soldiers (who guarded him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or others outside. As a result of using his bad news to share the good news, some of the guards may have even become believers (4:22). Just because Paul was confined didn’t mean that the gospel was confined.

As Jesus-followers, we can allow our pain to be a platform to share the gospel. In our bad news, let’s find an opening to share the good news.
 
We often think if life were smooth
We would a better witness be;
But God knows best—that faith midst trials
Can honor Him more powerfully. —Cetas
 
Pain can be a platform to share Christ.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our Reunion Story


"A brother is born to help in time of need" Proverbs 17:17

Or should I say "sister"?  Joe has five sisters and we couldn't have made this journey without them. 

Photo: I miss you. Happy Birthday baby girl. I am sure you have all your favorite puzzles of doggies, horsies, and meowss.
Perla was born with a condition known as Prader Willi Syndrome.  She always had the mind of a three year old.  Other than that, she was pretty healthy.  That's why it came as such a surprise, one December morning, when Kayla, our niece, woke up and told her mom about her dream.  She had dreamt that Perla was going to die, but give her life to Joe.  Angie was upset at her for saying such things.  After all, Perla was fine.  The very next day, Perla was in the hospital with some infection.  The doctors were trying to figure it all out, but Perla had a hard time communicating.  Within two days, the infection had spread to all her internal organs.  The day after that, all the family was called to say their final good-byes.  Joe was able to see his baby sister one more time before she passed on Christmas (her favorite holiday).  Up until that point, Joe was so tired of battling the kidney disease that he just wanted to give up.  He didn't want to keep fighting and feeling miserable.  Yet, when he saw his sister pass, he realized that he had to choose to keep fighting.  He chose life. 

The life expectancy of a person with Prader Willi Syndrome is twenty years.  Perla lived into her forties.  No one knows why she lived so long.  We do know why she passed when she did.  She gave her life for her brother.  A sister is born to help in time of need.

Joe's other sisters have helped us tremendously also.

Diana came a week before the transplant to help us rest up and prepare for the surgery. 

Angie came to watch our boys for the week following the transplant

Pat watched them in her hometown and made El Paso look like Disneyland. 

Finally, Carmen came to our house for two weeks to watch the boys until I could return home. 

It was long planned that I would return home on Saturday, the 28th.  I was looking around the chamber of commerce websites (FULL of great fun!) and saw that the Itty Bitty Olympics were scheduled for the 28th.  I conspired with Carmen to take the boys to the Olympics and I would walk up behind them to surprise them.  What fun, huh?  The best laid plans..........

Photo: The events were awesome! The boys competed against each other then hugged to show no hard feelings. : )
They went and had fun.  Carmen said they competed against each other and hugged after the race.  Awwwww. 

Photo
Turns out, we have very athletic boys.  And all this time, they believed that I would be arriving home that night.

As I was nearing Show Low, Jill Tinkel pulled out the winning name for the little quad Jeep that she had been advertising all.  summer.  long. 

She called Carmen's name!  At first, Carmen didn't believe it.  She had entered the contest, not expecting to win AT ALL.  I mean, there must have been hundreds of names in there from all the events all summer. 

Photo: Winning a Jeep is Fun!

Jill didn't recognize Carmen's name, but as soon as she saw Carmen walking forward with Jack and Josh, she knew this was special.  (Jill is our insurance agent/friend and had just sent a cuuuuute get well card to Joe in Phoenix)

Photo: Jill Tinkel from State Farm

Jill handed the microphone to Jack to ask where his daddy is.  "Phoenix".  She asked why.  "He got a new kidney".  I wasn't there, but I hear that people in the crowd started to cry.  Jill explained to the crowd that the boys had not seen me in a month. 

And.  just.  at.  that.  moment.....

video

I walked onto the field.  I wanted to run to the boys but Jill was talking, the boys were on stage, I wasn't sure what was going on.  Turns out, our reunion was quite public.  The photographer was snapping pics and telling us we were going to be featured in the local newspaper.  A lady had me sign a waiver, to be used in a marketing campaign.  We were told we would be in a national magazine.  Used at local events.  Hollywood couldn't have written a better story. 

I am home now and enjoying quality snuggle time with the boys (when they aren't riding their new Jeep).  Joe still has 18 more days.  I can't WAIT for that reunion!  I'm sure it will be unforgettable.

Friday, July 27, 2012

T+17: Post-Tranplant Update



I have received several emails asking how Joe is doing, post-transplant.  Physically, he is doing well, thank you.  All the test results (and there are lots of tests) show that the new kidney is doing well.  She is filtering the toxins, removing all the water retention, and making him crave chocolate.  That last one is a joke...sort of.  Joe's living donor, Kris, loves chocolate and we joked around that Joe will start to want chocolate too. 

In all honesty, his body is accepting Dex (the name we gave the new kidney) really well.  Most patients leave the hospital on three anti-rejection medications.  The anti-rejection medications are designed to slow down the immune system, should it choose to attack the foreign invader (Dex).  Joe's body accepted Dex so well in the hospital, that he left only taking two.  Of the two medications, they both have pretty high dosages.  One medication required 7 pills in the morning and 7 pills at night.  But after repeated tests, Joe's body is accepting Dex so well that he has been lowered to 3 pills in the morning and 3 pills at night. 

He does still have the large hematoma.  The doctors examine it multiple times per week and are not concerned about it.  It does make Joe uncomfortable, but this too shall pass.

Spiritually, Joe is on fire!  I don't want to spoil anything, as he is preparing his testimony to be shared at church, but he grappled with life and death in December.  I hate to be cliche, but New Year's Day was a turning point for him.  We're pretty happy he chose life.

Since then, he doesn't hesitate to tell others about Christ.  He freely cries with others, encourages strangers, and prays with friends.  Ahh-MAZ-ing! 

He is not "out of the woods" yet.  When you think about it, he just had life-saving surgery 17 days ago!  He still has 20 days of observations, tests, procedures, and more tests.  Please continue to keep him in your prayers.  Here is a partial list of tests/procedures, so you will know how to pray for him:

August 2nd, 1:15p.m.: Stent Removal.  They insert a stent into the new ureter, connected to his bladder.  Our bodies are amazing and they know when there is a foreign object.  The body would attempt to close off the new ureter, so they insert the stent to keep it open while fully grafting to his bladder.  It does cause a little irritation at night, so it's coming out will be a good thing.

August 7th, 9:00a.m.: Bone Mineral Analysis.  This test will detect any osteoporosis.  It is done through radiation.  I don't fully understand this test and it's implications, but just know that Mayo is very thorough.

August 13th, 10:45a.m.: Biopsy.  The only 100% way to check a kidney is to do a biopsy.  They will insert a needle into his pelvic area (where Dex hangs out) and scrape a little off for examination.  Although this will not be a fun procedure, we are very interested in Joe's kidney function.  Normal kidneys work about 100%.  Joe has been at 30% for several years.  Last summer, he plummeted to 11% (10% is death).  Each kidney is capable of working near 100% on it's own, but they get lazy since there are two of them.  When one is taken out, the remaining kidney will increase over time (about a month) to near 100%.  Same for the transplanted kidney.  It will realize that it needs to kick it up a notch and start to work harder.  Isn't that amazing in itself?  Crazy.  Even if Joe just comes out at 61% (his original 11% plus the new 50%), that will be a level he hasn't seen in years. 

August 15th, 9:00a.m.: Blood Pressure Monitor.  The kidneys and blood pressure are very related.  In fact, our local doctor (LOVE HIM!) knew that something was wrong with Joe just based on his blood pressure and called him, wrote him letters, and finally begged me to get Joe checked out.  The blood pressure monitor will be strapped to him and he needs to wear it for 24 hours non-stop.  He will remove it the next day and they will analyze it.

August 16th, 9:40a.m.: Final Exam.  Although Joe has many lab appointments and exams throughout the next 3 weeks, this will be the last.  This is the exam where they will look at all his data, from all his procedures, and will (hopefully) release him to go home.  You better believe I will be praying for this!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Message for the Hour

"O God, let me preach with enthusiasm because of what Christ did, not because of what the crowds think . . . because of the salvation we have, not the size of the group we have. Use me, O God, not because it's the hour for the message, but because you've given me a message for the hour." --Ed Towne

Friends, I am so humbled.  God has put us on a journey and it has been an ADVENTURE!  I honestly thought the adventure was just for us, but I am now beginning to see that we are to share our struggles and triumphs with others.  God has allowed me to do this thus far through this blog.  And I'm ok with that.  Writing is my preferred mode of communication.  Now, God is widening my sphere of influence.
Believe!
 Barbara Bruce has asked to share our story on her show "Believe".  BELIEVE has four segments: body, mind, spirit and success. BELIEVE is "The White Mountain Talk Show destined to empower you to believe you can do anything you set your mind to, if you just believe." BELIEVE's goal is to empower people - to give them information to help them test their belief systems, to make wise choices that empower them to feel good about themselves. The show is positive. Barbara interviews local, national and international persons who have something to share that has the potential to help change lives.

I will get the opportunity to share our story with the mountain (and everywhere online) this Sunday.  You can listen live at NewsTalk 970 & 1270 and online, 3 to 5pm at 970kvwm.com.  I will be the 4:00-4:30 segment. 

Please pray for me for this ministry.  I fully believe in God's sovereignty over our entire journey.  I am excited to share our story.  Please pray that God would give me the right words to share with the listeners.  Please pray also that I would be able to work past my nervousness and just let the story come out.

20 Million in 2012 AZ Email GIFJust after speaking with Barbara, I was contacted by the Donor Network of Arizona.  They are going to pitch my story to media outlets, and then use us to register people as organ and tissue donors at events and functions.  Next week, they are starting a summer campaign featuring stories about Donor Network of Arizona reaching the 2 million mark of registered donors in the state.  I will get more info tomorrow about when and where our story will be featured. 


Same prayers going up for this ministry as well.  I prayed the Prayer of Jabez this morning, just never thought my territory would expand this way!  Exciting, I tell you.  Exciting.

Support Our Supporters

I am starting a new series, entitled "Support Our Supporters".  In May, we held a few fundraisers to help cover the cost of the transplant, which includes lodging for us, but most importantly, lodging and travel expenses for Kris, our donor.  The local businesses were so generous, that I want to make sure that they are given recognition for their donations.

Before you read on, you need to know the full story.  Click here to read about our fundraiser and how God had His hand over the whole event.  I'll wait.
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Pretty amazing, huh?  Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

These local businesses made sacrifices in order to support our fundraiser.  I would like to turn the tables and support them.  In the coming weeks, you will see this logo

Support the Supporters


and have a chance to read the inside scoop on that company/business.  There are three ways you can support our supporters:
  1. Frequent their business. 
  2. Tell others about their business.
  3. Pray blessings for their business.
**Disclaimer: when the businesses donated, they had no idea they would be featured here.  In fact, I didn't even know, until God put it on my heart.  They all gave freely to someone they hardly knew or didn't even know at all.

I also want to say an overwhelming "thank you" to those individuals who came to the dinner and supported us financially.  It was a wonderful day and I enjoyed seeing each and every one of you walk through those doors.  That was the closest to heaven and God's family I have ever felt. 
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Support Our Supports posts:
1. Pizzeria Venti
2. Integrated Bodywork: Therapeutic Massage and Yoga

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Walking Billboard for Christ



If you haven't seen Joe lately, you don't know what a changed person he is.  He is being transformed ("Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2).  He has taken a liking to wearing Christian t-shirts.  And he really likes it when someone comments on them.  I think it's an easier way for him to strike up a conversation about Jesus. 

Seen any good Christian t-shirts lately?  If you do a Google search, you will get plenty of websites. However, some websites are just online retail stores who offer a design or two for the occasional Christian.  I wanted to select a company that is truly Christian and is using their business for ministry.


I found ChristianShirts.net.  When you shop at ChristianShirts.net, you are supporting a Christian and pro-life family trying to live their values through the messages presented on this website. You help them to support missionaries who are spreading the Gospel in foreign lands. 

This family has recently gone through the loss of their unborn child.  They are planning on traveling out of state at some point to bury their baby in the same cemetery where all of their relatives are buried.  If you find it in your heart to donate for travel and burial expenses, they would greatly appreciate it.  They are currently accepting donations, but proceeds from sales would also help.  So, if you are in the market for a Christian t-shirt and you would like your money to do good, please visit their website.  You don't be disappointed. 




Monday, July 23, 2012

Set Apart

When the two hikers were ascending the peak, they imagined green meadows on the other side.  Once they overcame and were triumphant, they looked over the land that stretched before them.  Instead of lush mountainside, they saw only a desert. 



We are in that desert now.  It's not that God has deserted us (yes, pun intended).  It's just that we are devoid of everyday distractions that can take our eyes and hearts off God.  We are being set apart right now. 

Joe has been given new life.  There is a transformation in a person who comes so close to death and then is saved.  The question resonates "what do I do with this new life?"  He is searching that out now.  He is writing his testimony in order to share with others.

I am in the desert too.  I have been presented with two ministry options.  Do I take both, one, none?  These are questions only God can answer. 

Please pray with us for direction. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thirsty?

I know this is going to come as a shocker to some of you, but.....Phoenix is HOT in the summer!  It was 108 degrees yesterday.  And humid.  "That makes for a nice combination," said no one ever.

Joe and I have learned that we don't go anywhere without our bottles of water.  I was reminded of a verse in the Bible.  "Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" John 4:13-14 

Thirsty?




"How is hanging out with Jesus and not His church like hanging out with a severed head?
We can't be in community with Jesus and not His body." Pastor Ernie

To hear more on this topic, go to theChurch sermon archives.

Same CHURCH (it's all God's church), just different location and day of the week, Pastor Gary talks about taking a trip to a new country. 

Would you pay thousands of dollars to see the sights and then NOT listen to your tour guide?  No way.  God gave us a tour guide, the Holy Spirit. 

To hear more on this topic, go to Grace Church sermon archives

Click on the links.  Listen to the sermons, both present and past.  It's not a competition between them.  Here's a secret, they work for the same Boss.  They ALL do!  If you Google "sermon podcast" you will get 1,410,000 results (in .23 seconds!).  They aren't keeping tally marks of who got more page views. 

If I'm talking about community, then why am I promoting an online alternative to going to church?  There are times when we can't get to church.  For instance, right now, Joe and I can't go to church because we are at the Transplant House.  Yet, with modern technology, sermons can be recorded and made available on the internet.  I am so thankful that people have taken the time and resources to make this happen. 

Drink some water today.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Feeding the Five Thousand

We fed the 5,000 last night.  Well, not actually 5,000.  More like 11. 

The Transplant House is set up with six rooms for six patients and their caregivers.  There are no TVs in the bedrooms, as they want to develop a sense of community.  The kitchen is large and has the same intended purpose.  Let me be the first to tell you: your housemates become your support group.  You are there to cheer them on when they are discharged from the hospital.  You are there to pray for them when they spike a fever and the word "rejection" is fearfully whispered. 

Today, two of our beloved patients (and their caregivers) are leaving.  One is going home after nearly 3 months here.  She came for what she thought would be a one week testing period.  They never let her leave.  She received a liver shortly after she arrived and has been recovering in Casita 7 ever since.  Another one is leaving for only a short time.  This was her week of testing.  She will return next week to see if she is approved for a heart, and then will be on stand-by until one is made available. 

I just want to take an aside to encourage you to make sure you are a donor.  The easiest way is to be a donor when you pass away.  There are over 6 organs that can be used to save the lives of others.  Most states allow you to check a box on your driver's license.  Please make sure that your loved ones know about your wishes as well.  The alternative way is to be a live donor.  You can actually have your blood tested and be put into a "bank" waiting to be matched.  You can be a live kidney and bone marrow donor.  If a recipient does come up as a match, the registry will contact you.  You have the option to cancel at any time.  John 15:13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.

Back to dinner.  We were celebrating last night with a huge Fajita Fiesta.  Alone, we had meager ingredients, but together, we had a feast.  As the caregivers were preparing the food, a new patient and caregiver arrived.  We looked at our 6 chicken breasts, one bell pepper, one onion, and 20 tortillas (to feed the 9 of us) and invited them to dinner anyway!  After all, we knew what it was like to drive for hours, unsure about the future. 

Dinner was DELICIOUS!  I love to eat fajitas at restaurants, but this was seriously better.  AND, we had leftovers.  That reminded me of a time when God provided for the masses and had leftovers.

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The story is a childhood favorite.  Matthew 14:13-21



Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13When Jesus heard what had happened (the beheading of John the Baptist), He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15As evening approached, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18“Bring them here to me,” He said. 19And He directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

  • What Jesus was originally given seemed insufficient, but in His hands it became more than enough.  We often feel that our contribution to Jesus is meager, but He can use and multiply whatever we give Him; whether it is talent, time, or treasure.  It is when we give them to Jesus  that our resources are multiplied.
  • The disciples focused their attention on what they didn't have (food and money).  Do you think God would ask you to do something that you and He together couldn't handle?  Don't let your lack of resources blind you to seeing God's power.
  • We can limit what God does in us by assuming what is and is not possible.  Don't let your estimate of what can't be done keep you from taking on the task.  God can do the miraculous; trust Him to provide the resources.
  • The disciples are contrasted with the youngster who brought what he had.  They certainly had more resources than the boy, but they knew they didn't have enough, so they didn't give anything at all.  The boy gave what little he had, and it made all the difference.  If we offer nothing to God, He will have nothing to use.  But He can take what little we have and turn it into something great.
  • Is there some impossible task that you believe God wants you to do?
(Life Application Study Bible)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Black Hole

Mayo continues to do blood/urine work every two days.  They are checking to see if the new kidney is working.  It is!  Creatine is a toxin in the blood and a normal person will be in the range of 0.6-1.2.  Joe was 9.6 when he went in last week.  Now, with the new kidney, he is at 1.0!

They are also checking to see if there is any internal bleeding.  His blood cell count was perfect and there is no bleeding.

In fact, Dex (the name we gave to the new kidney) is working very well.  She is pulling extra fluid off Joe.  He has lost 13 pounds in 7 days. 

He does have a large hemotoma though.  We were a little concerned about it at first, as it makes it very hard for Joe to walk and it looks GROSSSSSSSSSS!  They immediately ordered an ultrasound to look at it.  They said that it has happened before and the body will reabsorb it within a few weeks.

Yesterday, they removed his heart catheter.  He had it for over 6 months and was very happy to see it come out. 

His potassium level was extremely high and they had to prescribe new meds for it.  When I went to pick it up, I had a nervous stomach.  As I mentioned previously, our school district changed insurance companies right. before. the. transplant.  The new insurance did approve the transplant and we went ahead as planned.  However, we had an issue with insurance paying for the meds when Joe got released from the hospital on Friday night.  If he misses one dose, his body will attack the new kidney and it will die.  It was Friday night and I couldn't wait until Monday morning to call the insurance or my school district.  So, I paid cash.  I told myself that $100 was a small price to pay for Joe's life.  When I went back yesterday, I was wondering if I would have to pay cash again.  Amazingly, it went through!  I recognized the cashier as the same from Friday night.  I (half-jokingly) asked her if there was any way I could get a refund for the $100 I paid on Friday night, now that my insurance was clicking in.  You'll never guess what she said.  Yes!  Dude, I got his new meds AND I walked out with money in my pocket!  Ug, I was so dreading phone calls, paperwork, and waiting for months.  Lesson learned: it doesn't hurt to ask.

We were spoiled last night with a catered dinner.  Local businesses take turns putting on a special event on Wednesday evenings.  Last night was put on by US Airways.  It was probably just such a simple thing to them, but it meant the world to the patients.  It gave them something to look forward to all week.  It gave them a reason to get dressed (other than a doctor appointment).  It allowed the casitas to come together and chat with each other. 

What did Joe do the whole time?  He circulated through the tables, chatting with everyone.  He gained a lot of encouragement from them, but I kinda think they got some encouragement from him.  One lady told us that she was happy to meet us.  See, there are 5 casitas, with up to 12 residents each.  Each casita is sort of isolated as we can't have visitors and we just stay holed up all day.  Yet, every evening after dinner, Joe and I take a (slow) walk to the fountain and back.  Round trip is about 40 yards.  But, it's something.  We talk and just focus on getting Joe mobile again.  Well, I guess that as we walk, the other residents in the other casitas come to their windows and watch us.  Awwww, makes me cry. 
********************************************************
"DELIVERANCE FROM THE BLACK HOLE"



"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you
nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5b).

... A black hole is a place of total nothingness. It's a time in our life when God removes the resources and supports that we normally rely on to feel secure - our careers, finances, friends, family, health and so forth. It is a preparation time.

When you find yourself in a black hole experience, don't just sit and brood. Take stock of your life. Take a look at your relationship with God

First, ask God if there are any sins, habits, or attitudes that He might be judging in your life. It's important to discern whether the trial we face is the result of God's discipline for our sin, or if it is preparing us for a future leadership role.


Second, when you enter a black hole, don't trust your feelings. Trust God. Your feelings will tell you, "God has rejected you. Abandon hope. He has left you utterly alone." Feelings change; God never changes. Feelings come and go; God is always with us.


Third, remember that your black hole experience is not only intended to refine and define you; it's also intended to influence and change the lives of hundreds or even thousands of other people. Our adversity is not just for us, but others in our sphere of influence.


Fourth, don't try to hurry the black hole process along. Remember, when Joseph was in the depths of the pit, there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn't climb out, jump out, levitate out, or talk his way out. All he could do was pray and wait upon the Lord.


Fifth, lean on God. Even when you don't feel like praying, pray. Even when you don't feel like reading His Word, read. Even when you don't feel like singing songs of faith, sing. When you pray, don't just talk; listen. Be silent before Him and listen for His still, quiet voice.


Sixth, be alert to new truths and new perspectives. During a black hole experience, God often leads us to amazing new discoveries. A black hole can be a storehouse of unexpected riches for the soul.

^TJ Conwell

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Desert Run


I run.

To where the drone of highway traffic
Becomes the hum of desert insects.

I run.

To where footprints are outnumbered
By animal tracks.

I look back.

To where I can see it
All in perspective now.

I know I'm not the only one
Because mine are not the only footprints.

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Jesus withdrew by boat for solitude; I run.  What is important is that Jesus did not dwell on his grief (for the beheading of John the Baptist).  Instead, He returned to the ministry He came to do.

Monday, July 16, 2012

T+6: More Than Conquerors


37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28, 37-39

"God works in all things-not just isolated incidents-for our good.  This does not mean that all that happens to us is good.  Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good.  Note that God is not working to make us happy, but to fulfill His purpose.  Note also that this promise is not for everybody.  It can be claimed only by those who love God and are called according to His purpose.  Those who are called are those the Holy Spirit convinces and enables to receive Christ.  Such people have a new perspective, a new mind-set on life.  They trust in God, not life's treasures; they look for their security in heaven, not on earth; they learn to accept, not resent, pain and persecution because God is with them.

These verses contain one of the most comforting promises in all Scripture.  Believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment, even death.  These could cause them to fear that they have been abandoned by Christ.  But Paul exclaims that it is impossible to be separated from Christ.  His death for us is proof of His unconquerable love.  Nothing can stop Christ's constant presence with us.  God tells us how great His love is so that we will feel totally secure in Him.  If we believe these overwhelming assurances, we will not be afraid." (Life Application Study Bible)

Amen.

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Joe is recovering well.  He does have some swelling, but the doctor thinks it's normal.  They are ordering an ultrasound for this afternoon, just to be sure.  They would be more worried if his lab work came back with high levels, but the labs looked great.  How great?  Let me brag up on my husband's new kidney:

Creatinine is a chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism.  A normal creatine level is between 0.6 - 1.2. Someone with only one kidney is usually between 1.8-1.9.  Before the transplant, Joe's creatine level was 9.6!  Trip on that for a second.  Nine point six!!!!  That's a lot of toxins.  That's even with dialysis.  Today, T+6, he's at 1.0!  Oh yeah, baby, oh yeah.  Dex (our pet name for the new kidney) is amazing. 

 I think she needs a superhero cape.  But, alas, I am computer graphically challenged.  Sad face. 

Enough about me.  Joe is my hero.  He's doing great.  Oh, and all the foods he was banned from eating while on dialysis, they want him to eat now.  Well, there goes that cookbook!  I asked around yesterday, and all the housemates like oatmeal raisin cookies.  I think we'll celebrate with some cookies!

Now that you have read Joe's progress, go back and read the top again.  We are more than conquerors. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Home



Today marks five days with a new kidney.  Joe was doing great at the hospital and toolin' around, talking to people.  Yet today, I think that the last of the pain medication has worn off and the recovery is really starting.  Poor thing.  The incision and surgical site looked great for a few days, but is now very bruised-looking.  I guess that's common, as our housemates told us that would be the next phase. 

I have to tell you how much I appreciate our housemates.  They are very friendly and are easy to talk to.  But, it's more than that.  They have been through the same thing and can offer an insight that very few others can.  They also completely understand all the nuances. Helping bring the groceries in.  Knowing when the caregiver needs a little break.  We are so thankful to be here. 

So, where is this "here"?  We are at the Transplant House on the Mayo Clinic campus.  For only $25/night, we have a bedroom in a house fully furnished.  The kitchen even has cookware and dishes.  We are close to the hospital for the daily appointments and any trips to the ER (we're hoping there are none of those). 

Casita #7 (Home)

Our dining room

The kitchen

The living room

The library (Joe's favorite room)

View from our outside door 

My favorite "room" 

 Our patio

Our bedroom


  We will never forget living here.

What Are the Boys Up To?

Since Joe is on immuno-suppressants, he is quarantined for awhile.  We are living in the Transplant House (casita #7) with 2 other recent transplant patients and their caregivers.  No visitors are allowed in the house and children are not allowed anywhere close to the hospital.  We knew this as we prepared and Joe's sisters stepped up and offered to watch them for us.

Angie started the shift.  The boys had fun with her.  She let them sleep in our bed the night before the surgery and the night after.  One neighbor picked up the boys a few times and took them to the country club pool (thanks Janine!).  Another neighbor picked up the boys and took them to the McDonald's playland (thanks Donna!). 

Right now, the boys are in El Paso.  Pat has been having fun with the boys.  Yesterday, they went to the El Paso Zoo.  It's a great zoo.  We took the boys there 5 years ago.  Funny, they don't remember it.  :) 






Don't they just look like they are having a blast?!  She took them to church today and said they made new friends.  Do you think they even miss us?  I didn't realize they would have so much fun.  Before we left, I set up a cute countdown system for them.  (disclaimer: I did not think of it on my own.  I got the idea from Pinterest) 

From the picture, you can see that the balloons are dated.  They are filled with little treasure hunts around the house (I hid the loot before we left).  I also have money in some balloons.  They will get to go to the movies, go-carts, bowling, library, McDonald's, and do art projects. 

Carmen is the next to take over.  She has a ton of art projects planned, including a welcome-home banner.  I am so happy my boys are having a blast and are able to make the most of what could have been a difficult summer.  Thanks hermanas!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

T+2: Joe is Doing Great!

Oh, the days just seem to go so fast.  Joe has progressed so much since Tuesday night.  When he came out of surgery, he had 8 tubes coming out of him.  They were hooked up to various IVs and monitors.  As of right now, he is only hooked up to one tube!

He began sitting up right away on T+1.  He refused to lay (or is it "lie"? I can never remember) in bed.  He also began walking laps around the nurses station, just dragging his IV pole with him. 

This morning, he had already "showered" with wipies by the time I got there.  He had asked if I could bring his gel, razor, and sunglasses.  That's a good sign.

He has not been nauseous since T+1 in the a.m.  He has been eating solid food since yesterday.  The doctors say that his incision is one of the best ever.  He is healing so well and so quickly that they are almost certain he will be discharged tomorrow. 

So, what has he done today to pass the time?

  • Consultations: This by far took up the most time.  We had everything from transplant coordinators, nurses, doctors, physical therapists, chaplain, nutritionists, even the "book cart guy" (I'm sure he has an official title, but you get the idea).  At one point, we had EIGHT doctors and nurses in here at one time.  With Joe and I, that made TEN people in the room!  Very good attention.  We finally had to say, "please stop all non-essential consults for two hours.  Joe needed a nap."
  • Visiting with Kris: Joe and Kris met up in the atrium to compare scars and ask how each other was doing.  Kris was discharged at noonish.  She's resting up at the Residence Inn on campus.
  • Visiting with other patients: Joe is just so friendly.  He would walk around and talk to other patients.  He tried to encourage them.  He even encouraged their family members.  We just got back from a walk where we saw a young boy sitting by himself.  Joe started to talk to him.  The boy was having a hard time communicating, so Joe asked, "habla espanol?"  Si.  The boy went on to tell him that they are from Mexico and his dad just had a tumor removed from his head.  Joe encouraged him, in his own language.  Seriously, people.  I'm married to this guy!

  • Date Night: Oh yeah, baby.  Oh yeah.  Dinner and a movie.  His dinner was room service and mine was A La Cafeteria.  Oooh la la.  Movie was Video On Demand.  Even better than a movie theatre, we snuggled in his hospital bed. 
  • Movie Making: Joe made a video for the boys. 
video

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

T+1: First Day AFTER Transplant

It is 6am on Wedneday. Joe would be arriving at dialysis right now. He would be joking around with the other patients. My heart aches for them right now. We were sooooooooooooo blessed that Kris sacrificed so much, to give Joe, myself, and the boys a New Chance. Joe's dialysis road was only 6 months long. Some suffer so much longer. Please pray and consider becoming a live donor. There are so many people who suffer on dialysis for YEARS because they have no matching donors. 
the National Kidney Foundation, Inc. click on the picture for more information

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

T-0: New Creation

As of our last post, there were still issues unanswered.  I want to give y'all an update.

  1. The infection.  The doctor called Joe on Monday (T-1) to tell him that there was ZERO sign of infection!  Praise God!
  2. Housing.  The Transplant House called us on Friday (T-4) to tell us that we will be able to stay there for the duration of his recovery.  Praise God!
  3. Insurance.  The Mayo Clinic called us on Monday (T-1) to tell us that the new insurance company approved the transplant.  Praise God!
  4. Medicare.  The Social Security office called Joe on Friday (T-4) to tell us that they had approved his Medicare AND it would be retroactive to April.  Praise God!
  5. The transplant.  After 4 years of being sick and tired (literally), 6 months of dialysis, 5 sleepless nights, and 24 hours of a migraine, Joe got a new kidney today!  Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17.


Joe began the day with the same migraine he got at dialysis yesterday.  He tried to sleep, but all for naught.  Joe and Kris (donor), arrived at the hospital at 7:30 in the morning.  We checked in, but had to wait 2 hours for them to even call them back.  Turns out, it was quite the busy day for transplants.  What did we do for 2 hours?  Laughed our butts off!  We tried to imagine what Kris' kidneys would say to each other:
Righty (said sadly): Hey, where you goin'?

We imagined what Joe's two boy kidneys would say when the doctors put Kris' girl kidney in there:
Boys: Check out the new girl!

We imagined what the kidney of a teacher would say when she gets into Joe's body:
Lefty (said very matter-of-factly): Alright boys, let me show you how it's done!

We imagined the doctors walking the kidney carefully from Kris' body to Joe's body, but accidentally dropping it on the floor:
Doctor: Ten second rule! 

We imagined that if that did happen, would they remember which way is right side up?  Would they mark it with an arrow, like you do for paper into your printer? 

We laughed endlessly about what would be said once they both got their "truth" serum.  Joe actually covered his mouth with his shirt when he got the serum.  Love that guy.

If you were a casual observer, you would see that we were most definitely covered in peace.  The joy of the Lord is our strength. 

When they were being prepped, Joe wanted to listen to Christian music.  He put his earbuds in and started singing.  So cute.  He talked with the nurses about K-Love and his favorite Christian songs.  Mostly, he told stories.  Joe, the man of a 1,000 stories!

At about 2:00, we received word that Kris was out of surgery and her kidney was being "installed" (their word) into Joe.

At 4:20, the doctor told us that he had successfully connected the new kidney.  He said that it was already making urine and working well.  He was hopeful that I would see Joe within 90 minutes.

It is now 7:20 and I still have not seen Joe.  He did come out of surgery fine, however, he is in a lot of pain and they are having a hard time bringing his blood pressure down.  Poor guy.  He has been through so much.  Can't wait to see him!

************************UPDATE**************************
I got to see him! He's doing great. Only Joe. I tell ya. They wheeled him out, and everyone was saying, "bye, Joe!". As we walked past a few patients, they said to their loved ones, "He's so sweet."

Monday, July 9, 2012

T-1: Got the Call!

This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it! The transplant will proceed as scheduled tomorrow.  

T-?: Family Time



You will notice from the title, we still don't know how many more days until the transplant.  We are still waiting for the new insurance company to approve the surgery.  We are also waiting for Joe's infection to clear up.  In what could be a disconcerting time, we are comforted by your prayers and scriptures.  A particular verse comes to mind:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" Proverbs 3:5-6.


In the meantime, we have been stocking up on our snuggle time with the boys.  We played video games together (not my fave, but it's what they wanted to do).  We took them to the movies.  I think Joe and I spent more time looking at the boys, than at the screen.  Gosh, they are handsome boys!  Josh is a popcorn-eating machine.  His hand is in constant motion, putting the kernels in his mouth.  Tub, mouth, tub, mouth, tub, mouth.  He sensed we were watching him and he looked over at us.  He smiled a huge popcorn-filled smile.  Precious.  The boys spent most of the movie in our laps.  I spent the time smelling their hair and rubbing my cheek against their cheeks.  So soft.

We had snuggle time last night as well.  Since last night might have been Joe's last night with the boys for 6 weeks, we sent the 8 other family members out and just snuggled in bed, with the 4 of us.  We watched some Auto-B-Good videos.  If you don't know about them, click here to check them out.  GREAT Christian values.  The boys love them.  We had cherries for our dessert and Josh was a cherry-eating machine!  Bowl, mouth, bowl, mouth, bowl, mouth.  I asked him what he was doing with the pits, and he just looked at me and said, "pits?"  I guess I know the answer to that one.  :) 

Many of you have asked if I will have access to the internet while at the Mayo Clinic.  Yes.  The hospital and transplant house have wi-fi.  I will try to keep you all updated, as much as I can.  There will be times of "radio silence".  Those are times that I will go into prayer-mode.  If you see that I haven't posted in awhile, please join me in prayer.  Speaking of which, here are some specific prayer requests:
  1. Please pray the infection clears.  Today is supposed to be T-1, and he still has it.  In fact, he has pain as well.  His beloved "baby" sister passed away at Christmas.  No one knows EXACTLY what happened, but we know that she had an infection and it spread to her internal organs and they all shut down.  Joe is concerned this is happening to him as well. 
  2. Please pray for the donor, Kris.  We are so thankful for her gift of life.  Please pray that her side of the surgery goes well and she recovers quickly. 
  3. Please pray that Joe's body accepts the new kidney.  Since Joe's condition is genetic, there is a chance his body could attack the new kidney.  But, we serve a powerful God and we pray that the new kidney is accepted. 
  4. Please pray for traveling mercies.  Kris and Ted are heading down to Phoenix today.  It is a long drive and has it's share of perils.  We don't know when we are driving down but please pray for traveling mercies when we do drive. 
  5. Please pray for me.  Pray for strength for the long days.  Wisdom to make the decisions.  Patience for the process. 
Mailing Address: many of you have asked about mail delivery.  We will be at the Transplant House in Phoenix, and you can mail letters, cards, and pics directly to us at:
Joe and Susan Rodriguez
5811 East Mayo Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85054

I have sung this song for many years, but I haven't really injested the true meaning of the words.  I get it now.  Watch the video and read the words (you can click the picture frame in the bottom right corner to make it full-screen).  "Because this broken road prepares Your will for me".

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dada



Every morning, Joshua comes downstairs and crawls into our bed.  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, he notices that Joe is missing and asks, "Is Daddy at dialysis?"  But on the off-days, he snuggles in with Joe.  Unabashedly, he burrows his head into Joe's arms and in a sing-song voice repeats "Dada".  He has no fear, no shame, no guilt.  Just a child, wanting to be in his Daddy's arms, where he knows he will be loved unconditionally.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1  (I love that exclamation mark)  We are children of God.  Amen.

He loves us unconditionally.  "I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God's love" Romans 8:28. 

He wants us to come to Him.  "Let the children come to Me" Luke 18:16. 

There is no shame or guilt.  "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1. 

I'll be honest.  Sometimes, I approach God with timidity.  I don't want to bother Him with my little life.  I need to remember Joshua nuzzled under his daddy's arms.  "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God" Hebrews 14:6

Friday, July 6, 2012

T-4: Walking Forward

"The Lord is my Shephard.  I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me,
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me." Psalm 23:1-4
 

Joe had a hard time keeping food down today.  I think it's the medication for the infection.  His body is just so ready for the new kidney.  However, we may have to wait a little longer.

I told you yesterday that I would believe the new insurance when I saw it.  Well, the percent she quoted was wrong.  Gasp!  The Mayo Clinic called today and told us that they may need to postpone the transplant.  We were expecting that with the kidney infection, but it's actually for another reason.  The new insurance has not approved the transplant yet.  From their point of view, it looks like this.  An employee's husband needs a $200,000+ surgery and we have only covered her for 3 business days?!  We need their approval before we move forward.  Mayo anticipates it would be Thursday of next week. 

Yet, we keep walking.  We don't know if the transplant will be Tuesday, Thursday, or another latter date.  But, we keep walking. 

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death". Look at the verb in that phrase. WALK. It's not "cower" or "hide" in the valley of the shadow of death. But, walk. For Thou art with me. When we go through those hard times, we are not alone.

This uncertainty is cause of much discomfort for some.  Yet, Joe and I are at 100% peace with it.  It's actually quite comforting to be so aligned with my husband.  I KNOW that God is using this experience as a testimony to others.  We don't know why, but that's ok.  We're still walking.  Walking forward.
I will fear no evil!
9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Thursday, July 5, 2012

T-5: Hills and Valleys



Today was a day full of hills and valleys.

We began the day with breakfast with a dear, dear friend.  A friend so close that the word "family" is thrown around.  A friend so close that you feel Jesus' arms wrapped around you when he hugs you.  The food was nourishing, but the Scripture and fellowship were more so.  He opened his Bible and read a little and each word was food for our soul.  I don't know about Joe, but I have been so hungry for the Word lately.  It is so comforting.  I hope I don't lose this hunger after the transplant.

After breakfast, we thought we would swing by the doctor.  Joe has had this lingering kidney infection and we wanted to see if it was still there.  Well, it seems that we are destined to remain in a holding pattern.  Joe still has the kidney infection.  Just praying that the anti-biotics will kill it before Tuesday.  If not, they can't operate.  The transplant will have to be postponed and that means more dialysis treatments. 

While there, they tested Joe's blood pressure.  Extremely high.  So high that they prescribed another pill.  They wouldn't let him leave until he could bring it down.  Finally, it came down to 140/100 and they let us leave.  We were there 4 hours. 

During that four hours, we received many phone calls.  One was a call from the Mayo Clinic.  They had good news and bad news (hills and valleys).  The good news was that our new insurance (if you don't know about that scroll down to T-8) would cover 85% of the transplant cost.  The old insurance would only have covered 80%.  When you are talking $263,000, five percent makes a big difference.  The bad news was that she couldn't find Joe in the Medicare system.  We applied for Medicare way back in January.  See, Joe's condition is an automatic approval.  We never received anything in the mail, but they told us "these things take awhile".  A month back, Joe was curious, so he went to the Social Security office.  They said they didn't have the form from the dialysis unit.  Joe drove over to the dialysis unit, had them sign it, and hand-delivered it back to the Social Security office.  Well, low and behold, we got the same worker today, but he said that the form never got input into the computer.  So, baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack to the dialysis unit and baaaaaaaaaaaack to the Social Security office.  The good news is that the guy felt so bad, he said he would do it immediately, and it would show up on the computer on Monday (T-1: we're cutting it close).  Oh, and just another little tidbit of goodness: the Medicare will cover the remaining 15%!  Yep!  The entire $263,000 will be covered 100%.  You may be dancing right now, but I am reserving myself.  We have heard horror stories, so I will actually believe it when I see it.

I called the Transplant House, to see if we would be able to stay there for the 4-6 weeks post-op.  Once again, she said that there is no room and there are a few names before ours on the wait list.  She said that she would know for sure on Monday (again T-1!), but she would try on Friday (T-4). 

We left the doctor's office and had to drop off the prescription for Joe's new blood pressure pills.  I thought that since we will be at Wally World anyway, we might as well get our oil changed, since I don't know when I can get it done after the transplant.  As we were parked there, the technician noticed that we were spilling coolant everywhere.  Great.  Good thing Joe was with me.  I'll admit it.  I don't know anything about cars.  If you were to tell me that it would cost me $400, I would have paid it.  But, Joe was with me.  He bought a part for $6.  Gotta love that guy. 

Amidst all these errands, our donor, Kris, called.  She had heard about a program where the Kidney Foundation pays for lodging, travel, and food for donors of kidneys.  She applied and we submitted it while there last week.  All the documents said it would take 4-6 weeks of processing.  They called her today and said she was approved!  They will pay for her hotel for the week, her gas to get there and back, and extra money for food for her and her husband. 

Although the day had many ups and downs, we were comforted. 
The God of All Comfort
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation, if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." 2 Corinthians 1:3-6

"Many think that when God comforts us, our troubles should go away.  But if that were always so, people would turn to God only out of a desire to be relieved of pain and not out of love for Him.  We must understand that being comforted can also mean receiving strength, encouragement, and hope to deal with our troubles.  The more we suffer, the more comfort God gives us.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, allow God to comfort you.  Remember that every trial you endure will help you comfort other people who are suffering similar troubles."  Life Application Study Bible

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Where Does My Help Come From?

T-6: I Will Give You Rest

Quick!  Look at the countdown clock on the right side.  See it?  Do you see that big, fat 0 in the weeks column?  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.  I just can't wait until there are zeros all the way across.

Update on Joe: He's sick.  Kinda goes without saying, but he's really sick.  He'll be tough and you might not notice.  He came home with a migraine again on Monday.  It lasted until Tuesday.  He only got one hour of sleep that night.  The migraine plus everything else has made him nauseous.  Even if he has no food in his body, he still gags.  He only slept one hour again last night.  His blood pressure is through the roof and even the increased dosage is not bringing it down.  Basically, his kidneys are dead.  He was at 11% in December. Ten percent is death.  We can't get an accurate reading now, because the dialysis artificially raises it, but I highly suspect it would be 10%.

Rest has arrived for us.  Joe's oldest sister, Diana, arrived with Joe's parents.  They came a week early so we could rest up for the surgery.  Isn't that sweet?  We need it too.  Joe, for the reasons above.  Me, not sure why I'm so tired.  Not looking for sympathy comments here.  Actually dumbfounded by my exhaustion. I mean, I slept last night.  I'm not the one who has to roll out of bed at 4:30, to go get tortured dialyzed.  I do know that I have a lot to think about.  As a wife, I worry about my sick husband.  I pray unceasingly.  Will the transplant happen as scheduled?  (hopefully).  Will his body accept the new kidney? (there is a 40% chance his genetic disease will attack it).  As a mother, I think about my little boys.  Who will watch them while we are in Phoenix for a month?  (Joe's sisters).  Do I need to give a note to the pediatrician, in case something happens while we are gone? (yes).  Which size and color do I need to order for school uniforms? (much).  Will they miss us and worry? (probably, but I have a way cute countdown thing planned for them).  As a teacher, I think about my classroom.  Will my room be ready for the first day of school? (yes, because 3 amazing friends went with me yesterday to help out).  Will I finish my summer job before the surgery? (yes, because I made a promise and others are counting on me).

I know that our situation is not unique.  There are thousands of people living with End-Stage Renal Failure, in our country alone.  There are many other debilitating diseases out there.  Thousands are fighting cancer.  Lupus.  The list goes on and on.  My heart aches for all the families.  For the mothers who have to make life and death decisions about their babies.

I'm not "happy" this has happened to my husband, my friend, my love.  But, I have found such comfort in each of you.  I can't thank you enough.  I love, love, love your phone calls and when you say, "let's pray right now".  I usually cry through your prayers.  I enjoy hearing you say that you have gained strength from me.  Well, actually, it's not me.  Look right past me.  It's my Savior, my Shepard.  See, He knew this would happen.  In His infinite wisdom, He has some awesome plans for all this.  This is bigger than us.  It always has been.


28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Empty Chair

Three times a week they gather.
They wait nervously until each name is called.
Called to go back and get punctured by two needles that are so large, you can see down the shaft.
In that room,  they talk.  
They sleep.
They sleep from exhaustion, but mostly to block out the pain.

They watch each other.
They watch each other wince with each poke of the needle.
They watch each other cramp up from dehydration.
They watch as the paramedics come and take one away.
Two days later, the empty chair might as well have a neon sign above it.
The empty chair glares at them.
"You're next," it whispers to them.



Another chair will be empty next week.
Joe's chair.
Although it is cause of much celebration on our part, I can't imagine how the empty chair will affect those left behind.
Those who have no private insurance and no means to pay for a transplant.
Those who have been deemed "too old" for a transplant.
Those who have other health issues and are not "healthy" enough for a transplant.
Those who look forward to seeing Joe and feeding off his encouraging words.
Who will smile at them now?
Who will encourage them?

Although I don't wish Joe to go back to dialysis, I pray that someone will visit and bring sunshine to their lives.  
Someone will share Jesus' light.
Share true hope.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.: Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, July 2, 2012

T-8: This is Harder Than it Looks

This is so much harder than it looks.  Joe and I are both exhausted to the point of breaking down into tears.  What happened? you ask.

Apparently, we committed assumicide.  We assumed that since the Mayo Clinic did not call us back that Joe was clear of the infection.  Wrong.  They called today.  He still has the infection, with only 8 days to go until the transplant.  The doctor prescribed a fast-acting antibiotic.  Joe went to Wal-Mart to pick it up.  After waiting the mandatory hour, they said they didn't have his prescription.  He had to drive back to the dialysis unit.  They told him that Mayo has to call it in.  He called Mayo.  They said the dialysis unit has to call it in.  Really?!  Finally, someone got the message and called it in.  He drove back to Wal-Mart and waited the one hour AGAIN.  After the obligatory hour, they informed him that it would cost $120.  Excuse me, what?  They said we don't have insurance.  Seriously?!  Um, yeah.  I like pay $550 per month for insurance for my family.  (Sorry if you are picking up on the sarcastic tones).  Joe had to call me for my social, birthdate, place of work, phone number, etc.  He normally knows all this stuff, but it was right after dialysis and I'm surprised he was even standing.  Turns out, our district switched insurance companies today.  Eight days before the transplant.  I can't even devote a corner of my brain to think of that involves and how that will affect us (will they cover the surgery? will our deductible start over?).  Finally, three hours after dialysis, Joe was able to drive home from Wal-Mart, prescription in hand.

All this might seem inconsequential to you.  And it probably is.  However, just like a woman in her 9th month of pregnancy, we are exhausted.  Joe doesn't sleep, which pretty much means I don't sleep well (I still get some shut-eye).  We don't have energy for social graces.  We find ourselves short tempered at times, but good thing the boys are pretty much well-mannered.  Joe has migraines and is having a hard time keeping food down.

We did get good news though.  If you were praying with us, you will know that we needed lodging while there for 4-6 weeks.  We did secure alternative lodging.  Praise God.  We called the Transplant House and they told us that we are on the wait list and there are a few people ahead of us.  God provided something else (and actually nicer).

Please continue to pray.  We still have a few more hurdles.  We know that none of this would be possible without the body of Christ holding us up throughout this journey.  Thank you for being the hands and feet.

Update:::::: an angel came to our door tonight.  We are filled with questions, and who better to answer them but someone who went through the same surgery.  Our neighbor needed a kidney three years ago and his wife was a perfect match.  They have been a source of inspiration a number of times.  Terry just filled us with hope and peace.  Once again, so blessed to live here.

where Glory meets my suffering