Thursday, June 17, 2010

Embracing Jeremiah 29:11, part. 1

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declared the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."

~ Jeremiah 29:11

It began like any other day, though it would prove to be extremely intense, and far from anything "normal" for us.

Anticipation had been building day after day, culminating to a high point from the get-go, ever since the package had arrived in the mail shortly after our trip to Vancouver to reunite with all of our older adult children, our grandchildren and families for Easter.

An envelope, that's all it was.

An envelope thick with information amongst the notification of a reserved appointment for my husband to see a designated lung transplant surgeon.

Multiple crease lines were becoming obvious and more evident from day to day, both along the surface of the envelope and on the fold tab where it's seal had been opened.

Like a well worn carrier, the medical information contained inside had been unfolded, and refolded over and over again, read umpteenth times, ever-surreal as it was to see this notification in print and not verbalized.

Stunned. We wondered, would this ever really begin to sink in?

Shocked at first to see the covering letter inside. Was this really happening anyway?

We had hoped for longer...and yet five extra years have already surpassed since the original prediction's life expectancy. Assorted medical personnel continue to ask my husband;

"Why are you still alive?" blunt and they're right because it's for real.

Surprised over such a cold and impersonal way to find out about this "next step" in the world of degenerative lung disease's only options medically for my husband's very rare lung disease called;
"Mounier-Kuhn Syndrome" or "Tracheobronchomegaly"

Even after ten years, the doctor's verdict on my husband's sudden diagnosed illness still rings in my ear;
There is no cause and no cure.
A visit with a lung transplant surgeon doesn't exactly rate as my husband's (nor mine) most desired "next step". In our opinion, there sure isn't much in the way of a selection between the desired choice of either pulmonary failure or a lung transplant. Some choice if you ask me.
I've been praying (we all have) for a miracle, for these past ten years - OH HOW WE'VE BEEN PRAYING more than anything, to obtain great heavenly intervention as opposed to those that are obviously risky and man-made.
Or, we've stormed heaven with prayer .... and sought multi-pastoral counsel on;
If a lung transplant becomes an option, that a good set of lungs appears with all the stringent criteria surrounding my husband's critical requirements; rare blood type, allergies to penicillin and other drugs for battling infection, size of lungs matters, age of lungs might really matter, quality of lungs is an issue, so many things to consider. And then, there would be life after the transplant to fathom. That is, if this becomes a designated only option as they had already assured us over time.
So suppose let's all be realistic here, as this is why we moved and relocated here last year, getting geographically situated closer to the center of better respiratory medical care, and the best lung transplantation program in Canada, the spot within the very core of the medical hospital triage centers in the big city of Toronto. All this, in case this only prognosis were to become an option for my husband to consider in the end, grandly fearful as it is.

Okay, so there was a multi-starred appointment on our calendar now. Meeting the doctor surgeon and gathering more information is a good thing. No commitment is yet required.

This was what they had prepared us for ten years ago on the day of the original (complex and super puzzling) diagnosis.

But were we ready for this letter?

Is anyone?

Short but sweet - and offered in a whispered tone; No.

The past few weeks since the mail arrived, have seen a flurry of activity about our home and property, in case the summer produced hospital stays and a new battery of tests at any given moment.

Time after time, we couldn't help but offer plenty of thanksgiving for our recent trip west to be together again as a family HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE, for the perfect timing so uncanny to pull off, and all just happening to work out in our favor to make it happen.

Deep inside, my husband had shared with me that he felt it may be his last visit there for a long time, and had hoped for much this trip. Most of our older children and extended family seemed to sense this likelihood while we were over there, and were always ready and willing to gulp in as many opportunities to be together as possible without having to hear those things verbalized by my hubby, at least those he was feeling so strongly about himself, deep down.

It was already a given, that the freedom ticket to travel were becoming fewer. And even though there was THIS HERE to contend with, many great memories were made, those we can all cherish forever while reunited with family and friends. So blessed are we!

Happily, we have for the most part, succeeded with the bulk of our late spring and summer goals, and are pleased with our accomplishments and deadlines already met. It will offer less tension knowing they are complete should our plans change suddenly in the weeks or months ahead.

Admittedly, small "freak out moments" have occurred over the past while, even despair has become grand at times for my hubby, but then, obvious emotional pendulums were bound to swing wildly about, those ones which were culminating towards this next step appointment date.

Halted and stunned for a time from the shock of having such an important life altering appointment notification by mail; we both vowed to keep busy, also including plenty of time to relax, hashing over thoughts if we needed to, live our lives as normal as possible, and kept one another focused with happy thoughts.

A small road trip was great for the soul, let alone breakfast in bed, and even heartfelt tender moments of silent nothingness while slipping in our family prayer times, or while lingering in our pew for a long while on our knees before and/or after mass.

Once again, my husband felt led to scour through our estate finances, ensuring all is well in the event of some unknown medical happening ahead.

As a couple, our eyes locked often, both his and mine, myriad amounts of thoughts passed through that only we knew how to decipher and read.

Like I said before, there comes a time when there are no words left to verbalize.

The heart learns to speak, eyes learn to communicate, hands clasping together easily and often, and warm embracing hugs are the true love tale between two people involuntarily looking at life and death so fiercely straight in the eye.

All agree, we must live life as normal as possible, as bizarre as that might sound to others who do not know our family. We must!

The large family calendar looks promising for the months ahead, quickly filling but in the back of our minds, we can't help but wonder where will this summer lead us. How will this all unfold, and when? No one knows...

Are we truly brave enough for all of this?

Questions only one couple can answer together, walking by a depth of faith no one else can possibly understand, that is, unless they are also here or have been here before in this exact same situation.

Since we believe this too has all already been ordained, fear does nothing but cause weakness in our knees. We are only human though, and in that humanness, we are created to be weak already, struggling with that reality of our frailty upon occasion.

Previous to the big day arriving, our four children still living at home were notified in advance to huddle together at home on this upcoming appointment day, to keep it without any commitments outside of the home for school, work shifts, barn duties, and to support one another for the day, mostly so we were free to travel and have confidence on the home front.

Total co-operation met with our request, our great older teens taking charge like the responsible young adults they've already become, promising all will be tended to without worries. Love them all, always pulling together in times such as this for us! SO GREAT! :)

And when the day had at last indeed arrived, we decided to allow for plenty of time to travel around busy highways, closed roads and unknown big city territory.

Knowing we had a bit of extra time included in our schedule, we opted to make a quick stop at IKea and after a little shopping experience enjoyed a quiet lunch moment with a bite to eat there. We really enjoy their open faced shrimp sandwiches, so good.

Arriving at the hospital with a little time to spare, though there was the first requirement to check into the new patient area to obtain a hospital blue card, all was well.

The entrance glassed atrium was something else, and a "Seattle's Best Coffee" spot was beginning to make me drool. My husband motion towards it and I wondered if there was time for a cup of something from there. Nah, later I thought...

There had been an issue beforehand on finding a parking spot though, so much summer construction had road closures around the vicinity, the first stumbling block to find parkades closed to the public.

After my husband groaned about having to park far away and feeling unable to walk too far this day, I uttered a quick prayer.

Circling round and round for a few blocks, as we approached the hospital again, I noticed someone was leaving the hospital parking lot, right up at the front, very near to the front doors of the building. Thank you Lord!

Having been to this "Toronto Western Hospital" previously for a CTscan one year ago, my husband's pulmonary specialist's secretary had told him not to worry, he'd already been to the hospital where the appointment would take place this day, so we knew where we would be heading, which roads to take, and the general path in the direction of the area to scout for road closures and all.

With our GPS in hand just the same, we were en route.

At the general outpatient check in, it was with great relief that my husband's card was still in effect and valid, a swift in and out of that room was a great thing.

Hoping to be 45 minutes early for the appointment, we were spot on for our timing. So good to be able to unwind a bit before this huge life-changing appointment.

Off we went in search of the west set of elevators to rise up to the 12th floor. When the elevator doors opened up, we were both startled to notice the elevator only had options to a 5th floor, nothing higher.

Back down we went in search of the information desk where we were told we had the wrong hospital!

We wanted the "Toronto General Hospital" she said!

"This happens often dear"; the older woman told me as she reached out and touched my hand ever so gently and softly.

Maybe she could sense my emotional distraught I was trying to shoulder privately.

Was I swooning while speaking to her?

I was so sincerely upset, totally justified after recognizing the look on my husband's face.

Just imagine the feeling we were sharing during those panic stricken moments!

How far was it I asked. "Quite far"; the woman replied.

"There's a free shuttle where you need to go right outside the doors ahead and it should be here soon, leaves every 15 minutes."
; she said.


WHY does nothing ever come simple or easy for us! ....was my first thought. I knew if I didn't submit to a bit of prayer in the haste ahead, I might experience a freak out and really lose it.

My inner voice attempted to keep me calm ...

Breathe baby breathe! Stay calm Renee!

Get it together for goodness sakes! And for peats sake - stay calm for your hubby!

Gotta keep it together baby... especially after hearing my husband announce;

"I'm going to be late for the most important appointment of my entire life!"


Stay tuned;

Part two can be found by clicking HERE

Embracing Jeremiah 29:11

(please pray for us and all those afflicted with lung diseases)