After writing the first post “ The Beginning” of this journey, on Monday January 5th, I went to see Ruth. When I walked into her room she was awake and recognized me right away. She was moving around in the bed, her sitter was there so there was no danger, and moaning as if she was in pain. When I asked her, if she was in pain, she was able to moan yes. I asked where she hurt and she said “head”. I told the nurse and then the nurse told me that the doctors had discontinued the narcotic pain medication because they felt that she was sleeping too much so all they could give here was extra strength Tylenol. Although she was in more pain she was also more alert, which was very encouraging.
An Encouraging Sign
She is incontinent at the moment and urinates frequently so she as to be washed and cleaned. When the aide or nurse and sometimes me ask her to roll over on her side she does and then she reaches out and grabs to bed railing to help. Then tonight after I got home the most encouraging thing of all. I called to check on her and asked the sitter to put the phone to her ear so that I could tell her good night. When I told her who I was she responded but that’s not the best part I told her to get a good night’s rest and she said okay, that’s still not the best part; I told her that I love her and I knew that she heard and understood and here comes the best part she clearly said I love you. That’s’ the best part. Yesterday when I told her that I love her she would have heard and maybe understood, but she would not have been able to have enough clarity to respond with I love you. That’s the best part.
As the week progressed Ruth didn’t show much improvement. Yes she was alert and able to respond to basic questions. She knew who I was, she knew the people that I told her were asking about her. She could talk on the phone although someone had to hold it to her ear because early in the week she was pulling at her IVs so they had one arm restrained. She was getting more and more alert everyday but unless you were up there every day you wouldn’t have seen it.
She was also now experiencing a lot of pain in her back. Ruth has had chronic back pain for years and she had been in bed on her back for a week now. She was also expecting some abdominal pain. Remember they were not giving her any strong paid medication. Her condition had improved however and neurologically she was back at “baseline” meaning that the neurosurgeons were comfortable that once the swelling completely receded and the irritation was gone she would be back to normal not disoriented or confused, so they ordered mild pain medication for the head and back pain. She was also having abdominal pain which was thought to be perhaps caused by a bladder infection. With the addition now of the pain medication she could rest and sleep and help in the healing process. This was Saturday night.
Sunday Was A Great Day
When I went to the hospital after church on Sunday Ruth’s pain was under control, she was alert and bright eyed. She is a Dallas Cowboy fan but nobody at the hospital thought to turn on the football game so when I told her that her team lost she was disappointed. So loves the NFL so I asked her if she wanted to watch the Broncos/Colts game and she said yes and she watched.
So now we are trying to figure out if and when she will be transferred to a rehab facility. and which one. I’m trying to negotiate with the doctors to let her come home if it’s safe and their saying Physical Therapy (PT) says it’s not safe. So I’m trying to use some connections to get her into a facility that I’m comfortable with and where there will be someone watching out for her.
Meanwhile PT is not pushing her because early in the week she wasn’t able to follow them when they ask her to do things. I forgot to mention that when I was there Friday PT got he up and standing with a walker but since she is incontinent they had an adult diaper on her and it fell down. Well it took too long to try to get it up and Ruth decided to sit down and not try to walk. That was the end of that.
She is still complains of abdominal pain and her white cell count is up so she has an ultra sound.
Monday Was A Good Day
Monday was a good day but not even close to Sunday. Had there been the improvement from Sunday to Monday that there was from Saturday to Sunday Ruth would have been running around the room. I could tell however that she was not feeling as well as she had on Sunday. She was getting pain medication so the pain was being managed but she wasn’t as chipper. Although they were still planning on transferring her to a rehab facility none of them had available beds, which turns out to be God’s doing. They still want to watch the abdominal pain and try to figure out what’s going on internally. Meanwhile we now have appointments set up for Oncology and Radiation Therapy consultants, and 2 follow up with Neurosurgery. Things are moving right along. She’s not even asking for a whole lot of pain medication. By now I’m feeling very optimistic and I’m planning to go to the hospital early Tuesday morning to talk to the doctors about starting Ruth back on her other medications and pushing PT to get her up and moving. I’m trying to get her out of the hospital either to rehab for a short stay or home.
Today (Tuesday) Was Not A Good Day
The day starts good. I get to the hospital early, Ruth is still sleep but wakes up when I get there but is still sleepy so I don’t bother her much. The nurse who cared for her during the night said that she had a quite night. Her Neurosurgeon and his PA come by and we talk about her getting staples removed from the surgery area, looking for a rehab bed, and since she has been at this hospital for about 2 weeks getting the Oncology group there to see her. Sound great doesn’t’ it.
Then the Internal Medicine doctor, the one following the abdominal discomfort comes in. She says to me you are aware of your wife’s condition right I say yes she had a metastatic brain tumor removed and there was a mass found in her lungs so she has lung cancer. She said yes but we have also found a mass on her liver. Wow like a shot in the stomach. Then she says, very nicely I might she was and is very compassionate, when you have a metastasized tumors as multiple places in the body it means that the cancer has gotten into the blood stream and tumors can happen anywhere. Surgery is not an option at this point and essentially it is incurable. Oncology will be over to see her and talk to the two of you later this morning.
She also said that in these type cases they like to talk about Palliative Care. Here’s a definition:
Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
What that really means is no curative measures just try improve the quality of life until the end.
I told her that I would meet with them but that decision would be Ruth’s. I have a meeting with them tomorrow and I’ll tell you about it in my next post.
The folk from Oncology come over and said essentially what the other doctor said. I told them that I had talked to Ruth and it is her decision to fight and we want to talk about chemotherapy. They said that they will talk with their Department Head and we would talk later.
So here we are and our “faith rubber’ has hit some potholes but we are still on the road. I had a conversation with Ruth’s case manager and the nurse caring for her today after all these things transpired. I told them that our trust is in God and we believe that God can heal her miraculously, or He can heal her through medicine but the bottom line is that we pray that God’s will be done and it will be. We are ready to go to war and we are confident because of whose army we are in.
I left you with these scriptures in my last post and I want to give them to you again. As you see we have a huge arsenal:
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Job 23:10 (NKJV) But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
Isaiah 43:1-3a (NKJV) 1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am the LORD your God,
3 John 1:1-2 (NKJV) 1 The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth: 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
Numbers 23:19 (NKJV) "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Mark 11:23-25 (NKJV) 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
Matthew 18:19 (NKJV) Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.
One of the things that I tell people when they are overwhelmed by things outside their control is to take your focus off the situation and put it on God. Don’t focus on your problem, but focus on God and His character.
• SOVEREIGN — He reigns over everyone and everything and has never been stressed out.
• UNSTOPPABLE and so are those who follow Him.
• HOLY— God is perfect, which means everything He wants/desires for my life is far greater than anything I could have thought of.
• CONSISTENT — I don’t have to worry about Him being in a bad mood.
• GREATER than any temptation the enemy throws my way.
• BETTER than anything the world has to offer.
• BIGGER than any sin or failure in my life.
• GRACIOUS — He knows every stupid, foolish, sinful thing I’ve ever done (or will do), and yet He loves me anyway!
• ALWAYS here with me — God has NEVER walked away from me. He doesn’t always deliver me from the fire, but He has ALWAYS walked with me through it!
• FAITHFUL — If I fail to see His faithfulness in my past, I will probably not recognize the fruitfulness of my future.
• THE ONE WHO PURSUES ME — He pursues me even on the days I tend to walk away from Him.
• RELENTLESS — He has NEVER given up on me!
• PASSIONATE — His passion and zeal that the scriptures reveal cause me to be in AWE
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at email@example.com
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.