This surgery recovery thing has its peaks and its valleys, that’s for sure. We had a very full day yesterday and evening, which I’ll talk about in a bit (and yes Ann, share pictures! :), but this was also Travis’ first day back to work since my surgery. I think he worked harder over these two weeks, with the kids, the house, extra tasks, than I’ve ever worked in any two week period of my life. He gets so excited about times when he gets the kids all to himself, because he normally gets so little time with them. 2nd shift means that he sees them before school and then not again until the next morning before school. So, he was pumped about his two weeks off with them! And he was fantastic! But I could also tell that he was ready for a changing of the guard. And I don’t blame him. The girls are a lot of work, especially when you’re not used to shouldering it all yourself.
So, Travis went back to work today and I resumed my normal schedule of running the show from 2pm till bedtime. Madeline gets dropped off at noon, Emma was home sick today, and Garmai is out just before 4pm. Even though I was exhausted from being on my feet so much yesterday, every day I feel considerably better. Earlier today I felt really good. However, when lights out came tonight, if I wasn’t so pooped, I think I’d done a jig outside their bedroom door. I just wanted to drop dead, and today they did amazing too! No major explosions, no fights, and my mom even brought over some leftovers from meals brought to them for the kids and I to eat. God has so perfectly timed the phone calls from my mom when I hear, “Hun, would your girls be able to eat…?” LOVE those words! So here I am, resting in bed with complete silence in the house! Ahhhhh………
My mom said that someone at the benefit concert last night commented on how well behaved our girls are, and she said there is hardly a time when others are around them that she doesn’t hear that at least once. And I have to say I was quite proud of them! That was a long evening for small kids. I wanted to use that comment to encourage the girls and so I told them how fantastic they did, to which my oldest daughter responded with, “Why are we so good at other places and so bad at home?” (I had to laugh, and then I got kind of sad.) I just said, “Honey, you guys aren’t ‘bad’ at home. Its always hardest to make good choices when we’re home with our families and we let our guards down. But you guys did great tonight, so enjoy that! Daddy and I are proud of you.” And we were! For those of you who got to meet our little social butterfly (at one point when I saw her talking to someone she’d never met before, and I commented, “And there’s our 5 year old Madeline, working the crowd!”), thank you for making whatever kind of conversation it was she was making! 🙂
Just a side note: Many of you have asked when I will be able to tell whether the surgery has helped my headaches. I’m guessing that I won’t have a good idea for a couple of months yet. I’ve just discontinued one med that I was on before the surgery and am waiting another few weeks before discontinuing the other med. Once I get a month or so past that I’ll be able to begin assessing the impact the surgery has had. Thank you for your prayers. The surgery went great and my recovery, although somewhat slower than I had hoped, hasn’t been bad at all.
So, on to an update on mom and dad, since that is the purpose of these emails! 🙂 Last time I updated we had just found out that his tumor was regrowing and he was prepared to begin his new chemo treatment. They’d decided against the steroid until there was more evidence of significant swelling, because of the agitation it causes. Well, he tolerated the chemo really well, without significant side effects, but by the time he went in to the office for that treatment he was experiencing such confusion, wasn’t understanding things they were asking him to do at the office, and had periods of being unresponsive to direct statements and questions. He just stared, as if in another world. So, they added the steroid to his chemo drip on the spot and by the next day we already saw improvement.
Agitation is a definite issue (from the med), appearing similar to anger that an early Alzheimer’s patient might experience. His confusion might cause him to butter his meat instead of his bread, or like today, try to microwave his fruit salad. For those that are concerned, my mom was there, as she always is, able to give him freedom to do as much as he can while still playing interference when he makes mistakes or gets confused. And, he quickly tires when there is too much going on around him…which is why we were all amazed that he stayed for the whole concert last night. I think what kept him there was all of you that came. My mom said, “It was obvious that he was really touched by the entire evening. He was exhausted by the end but did not want to leave early.” So, we were very glad for him that it was meaningful, more than overwhelming. My mom said she thought God gave him “added grace” for the evening. His growing confusion always increases his inability to be verbal. I think it would be fairly accurate to say that he might get out 10-20 short sentences in any given day, with some yes’ and no’s thrown in. He can’t finish every sentence he begins, but sometimes just needs extra time to find the words.
From here on out, he will receive the chemo treatments every other week, and he will take the steroid in as low a dose as is effective in controlling any swelling caused by the tumor.
My mom is getting through her days, sometimes up against some pretty intense feelings of depression and grief, and other days her busyness serves as distraction from the nearing inevitable and growing chasm she feels inside. She’s exhausted most of the time, and yet every day doing as much as she is able for the business, their personal life, for him, and around the house. I think for her as well, it is truly only by the grace of God and your all’s prayers and assistance, that she has not totally collapsed by this point. This has been one of those times in her life, where I know she is feeling (daily), “Lord, this is too much. I can’t keep doing this.” and yet she does, each day.
We’re going ahead with plans to visit the North Shore again over Thanksgiving, barring any changes in my dad’s stability. I don’t quite know how to feel about that trip. We know our time with my dad is getting short, so these “lasts” feel like on one hand I don’t want anything to do with them, on the other hand, I am thankful for each experience we get. You know the end is coming, but sometimes it makes me physically sick to connect with the reality. I think about walking in the door at my parent’s house and seeing just my mom…I can’t even picture how my family fits together or what we will be like without my dad. Mark and Rebekah’s kids won’t know him or have any memory of him. My kids have had some, but not enough. I always pictured my girls getting to their teens, and when they were really mad at us or even ran away from home, knowing they could go to grandpa (and of course, grandma), and be able to rest and talk, about things they might not want to talk to us about. I’ve just always known he would be great in that stage of their lives. Even a couple of months ago, not able to really say much, if Emma was having a hard time at their house (or if we’d had to discipline her), I would see him walk over to her and hold out his hand, and have her just sit on his lap…just to say, “Grandpa loves you, honey.” Their hearts needed so much more of him. And yet I know from my own life that none of us have received everything we have needed from those that could give it. And I know how amazing God is at using those empty places as places where we find Him and His love for us. That is the only thing I rest in.
The benefit concert was just, beyond words, a blessing for all of us. I had no comprehension the number of people that would come. Java Creek was packed! My mom said afterwards, “I just don’t know how to even take in everyone coming and Wendy doing this for us. People’s love and generosity has just been unending.” We want you all to know how much we love you! And like my brother said, “Without you our family would be in such a different place right now.” So, thank you to Wendy and Eric Jans, for coming all this way to do this. Joshua’s friend Miguel played as well, and we heard over and over how amazing they both were and how thankful people were for an event like this! We would never have been able to offer my mom and dad something like this. So thank you!