Friday, October 12, 2007

blogging and hoping

Hi all (those I know and those I don't), blogging is a wonderful tool to keep everyone informed about Jan's progress after her aneurysm last year. I am impressed of the number of friends Jan has collected over the years that still keep in touch. I know she has done her share to maintain these contacts alive. So, it is true that you reap what you planted. She planted friendship and that's what she is harvesting. In addition, she has this wonderful extended family that has made the wagon circle closer in her time of need. I say to all of you: cheers! May your love for Jan never dry up.
Her progress after the last surgery continues at one level. With no staples, her growing hair is covering the scar fast; soon it will be unnoticeable. She has said that she is ready to grow her hair long again. On the other hand, she is starting a new medication, yes, number 8. For a week she has to take both together, reducing the previous and increasing the new until she is only with the new. This new medication allows her greater speech skills but makes her drowsy. We don't know yet its full effect because there is a mixed effect right now. She is looking forward to stopping the medication sometime in the future.

For me, time seems to have frozen in multiple ways (I talk about my own experience because Jan asked not to talk about her thoughts or feelings, she prefers to do that for herself. Yes. most of this blog is my own take on the process). Time seems to be moving ever so slowly. I now realize that I'm running a marathon, when my conditioning was for hardly 100 meters. The daily grind is absorbing beyond belief; I often find it difficult to see beyond my nose. I experience life as empty of meaning. Some days, little makes sense. Just like Jan is having now trouble with making sense of reading or listening as a result of the medication, I also experience this disassociation between what I thought I knew and what I see, what I can grasp of the daily grind. There are days in which I feel all alone and puzzled, I realize how tough life as a main caregiver really is. I question everything. I feel I'm at the end of my rope; stretched to the limit; I doubt, I moan, I fall, I get up again, and then at the end of the day, I just remember that my call is to serve Jan today. Tomorrow is another day. I remember that I made a vow to Jan in our wedding that I would love her in health and in illness... and well, this is the time to do it. I am convinced that serving Jan is my most basic attempt to live in integrity: at some point in life I must mean what I say and say what I mean. "I must keep my word and honour my commitments". Anything else would be delusion and deceit. Some people find this out of the ordinary, but in reality, I would expect Jan to do the same for me, and I suspect everyone would expect their partners to be there for them in similar circumstances. It is the way we are re-wired when we meet Jesus. We have the wiring in place, it’s just that we are too busy with ourselves trying to change the original design. Why have I stuck to Jan? Because I believe Jesus did the same for me and because I pledged her my love in thick or thin. And, so, on a day to day basis I raise above the blinding pain and confusion and reframe my life. This is not easy.
I struggle with the existence and meaning of suffering. Jan’s aneurysm raised an old question in my mind, a question as old as the book of Job. Like him, we have suffered when the core areas of our life as a couple were touched: health, family, and finances. I feel troubled not so much by experiencing suffering, but by feeling that this suffering is undeserved. I have asked Why? Why her? I have protested loudly and I have not taken silence for an answer. I know that this suffering is not a form of punishment or divine discipline. When I look around I realize that the amount of pain does not correspond to the amount of wrong a person does, there are criminals who prey on the weak and defenceless who seemingly go through life without the punishment they deserve. Paradoxically, the opposite seems to be true: often those who do right are the ones who get knocked down and sometimes they can’t get up again. E. Peterson says “this is the kind of suffering that first bewilder us and then outrages us. Just like Job who was doing everything right when everything went wrong” . However, this is the kind of suffering that brings us closer to God, and instead of ending resentful and disappointed, somehow we love God more. God does not promise to take away suffering but we know that he is the God that walks with us through the suffering just as he showed it in Jesus -the suffering man-God.
Yeah, it is not easy to live through Jan's healing stage . Given the option, I would rather not choose this path. However, in spite of the suffering we have gone through, I find myself with more strength and inner peace than I could have imagined. Go figure.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Staples Are Off!

We had an appointment with the Plastic Surgeon who did the Craneal Reconstruction this afternoon at 1pm, right after lunch. Jan had become used to the staples on her head. It gave her such a 'Goth' look that they were really the envy of some teens.

A couple of residents came and took Jan's staples before the actual surgeon showed up, so there is no more staples, just the scar that is healing nicely.

This is -we hope- the last visit to the hospital. Her hair will grow out in time, unless you know of a secret recipy to help Jan's hair grow faster.

I will give more details in the next blog,


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Reality Check

It's been a week since the surgery. times is totally liquid. Jan was sent home last Friday. The medical staff felt she was stable enough and demand for beds was high. She has this hairdo as a result of the surgery that I am sure is the envy of teenagers, besides, for a short time Jan has more metal on her head than some youth who carry rings in every possible place on their faces. But she is happy that this surgery is over. We had been waiting for it for over a year, so you can imagine the relief.

She has good days and days not so good. Most of her energy seems to be taken by the healing. She has to face pain constantly, and the inconvenience of having to be extra careful with the 20cm. of scar and staples. She slept most of the day yesterday, feeling with no energy or desire to do anything else. Today, she struggled with pain and the side effects of her medication. And this seems to be the pattern for the next few weeks.

Yesterday morning she woke up with a swollen head. there was an excess of fluid on the left side. She felt lousy, but when I suggested that we should go to emergency she refused vehemently. We know what it would be like: to wait for at least 6 hours before an MD comes to see her. She felt faint but decided to rest instead. By the afternoon the sweling had receded and she was a lot better.

Keep her in your prayers. For a safe healing of this wound. For strength to go through the process. For pain relief. For hope that her neurologist finds a good medication that Jan can tolerate. For better communication and patience.

Here Jan' new look: