Monday, November 15, 2010

I have a great family

One of the main things that has hit me over the last few weeks, while going through this sudden health issue, has been my love for my family, and their obvious love for me. So often, we get caught up in the everyday-ness of life, and forgot to purposefully show our love to the ones we love the most. Then, scary things happen, things that upset your whole routine, and you see the depth of the relationship you have with people. Proverbs speak of this, a rich man whose friends all disappear when he loses his money. This can happen sometimes with relationships that are seemingly strong, but when tragedy or crises strike, the relationship seems to fall apart. Like a building that looks strong from the outside but crumbles in an earthquake because the foundation lacks depth.

Well, I'm glad to say, that's not true in my case. I just realized I might be scaring you--not my intention. Just pondering...

Todd has taken on a lot because of my semi-bed-rest situation. I can sit for a little while, then I need to lie down. But I'm not much help! So not only is he trying to keep up with his work, but he's also cooking the meals, trying to keep up with the house, taking care of the kids, and doing all the running around (groceries, milk, errands) that I normally do. He even did a few days of home school with the kids while I was in the hospital!

And he's such a trooper. Every night he falls into bed exhausted, but he never complains. And he's always smiling. That's something special about Todd. I don't have to worry about him falling apart or turning on me, because I know his foundation is in the Lord. I know his habits of personal Bible study and prayer--the most consistent person I've ever met. And, I also think he was scared through the situation. Because he has been so tender and caring--trying to meet my needs before I think of them.

Then there's my kids. My biggest fear, when I was discovering the problem and fainting in Guaraciaba, was for my kids. It was not only safety and well-being (i.e. who was going to take care of them), but also their emotional trauma through seeing mommy so sick and not knowing what was wrong. When we realized that I had to go to Fortaleza right away, the ambulance drove me back to Molly's house and she went upstairs to frantically pack hers and our things to go to Fortaleza. Someone brought the kids down to see me, and they got into the ambulance to talk with me. Sammy just held on to my hand and asked me why I wasn't getting up. But Michaela got this tremble to her lip and I held onto her hand and told her that God was going to take care of me and that she should pray for God to help us. But she was almost crying (which was okay but she didn't want to cry), and so I asked what she was thinking about and she said, "But whose going to take care of Biscuit?" I just cracked up. Right there, in all that pain, and I laughed! Not at Michaela, but because it was unexpected. And that relieved the situation for all of us and I was able to tell her that our neighbors would continue to feed him until they hear from us.

My point is that my kids feel the stress of the unknown as well, maybe even more because a lot of their security is bound up in their parents. I've always noticed that as long as the kids are with us they seem happy and secure--even in the middle of the boonies in a foreign country. But God really calmed my heart and helped me realize that God uses these difficult times in the lives of children to mature them and help them grow in their trust and relationship with the Lord. And my job is to point them in that direction. It's my job to share Scripture that is comforting to me, to pray with my kids and encourage them to read and pray on their own, and to talk and hug and kiss a lot. The first time the kids visited me in the hospital they both climbed in bed with me and just cuddled and didn't want to move. I didn't either.

Since then, Michaela has never failed in praying for me multiple times a day when we pray together (meals, devotions, bedtime). And Sammy always says things about it being too bad that mommy's sick, but God's going to make her better. I know the road to healing isn't nearly over, the pain is diminishing but still present and I still face surgery. But I have seen God's hand through all of it, not only the circumstances but also the life lessons that He is gently teaching us through this difficult time. As the Bible says so tenderly, "He gently leads those who are with young." I praise Him for His gentleness in leading us, even through the valleys.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here's the Scoop

Hi guys,
I've had a whole bunch of people asking what's going on/how am I doing?

First of all, I'm doing quite a bit better today than last week. The Lord has been so good and really taken care of us. This was not a total emergency, but was very serious. If you're not interested in hearing about women's health issues, do not read anymore. Here's what happened.

Two Sundays ago, we went to Guaraciaba so the kids and I could spend Monday and Tuesday with Molly Goossen while the men (her husband James, her son Nathaniel and my Todd) went 5 hours away for a men's leadership conference. I was feeling a little uncomfortable on that Saturday before, but really thought I just had the cramps. Then Sunday, I was pretty uncomfortable sitting down. I thought, "this isn't normal for me", but if you know anything about me, my womanly health is anything but normal.

By Monday, my stomach was really upset and it hurt to bend over. On Monday afternoon, we all went for a walk. I got about 4 blocks away and suddenly turned completely pale and shaky. What in the world! Molly noticed and sent me straight home. By the time I made it home, I could hardly walk and it hurt to touch my stomach. I fell asleep and when she arrived (she had to go downtown) I felt a little better. I was really uncomfortable that night and still couldn't hardly touch my stomach. I woke at 3:30 in the morning with extremely sharp pains, and knew instantly that something was seriously wrong. I got up and took my temperature and I had a fever. Molly woke up then, and we prayed together for wisdom. We were in trouble.

This is what we were facing: The men were away (5 hours away), they had left both trucks (pickups), but Molly's truck had bad tires, and Todd had accidentally taken our keys with him (out of habit). So we were alone, 5 hours away from the city, with two little ones to take care of, and to top it all off, Tuesday was a national holliday--nothing would be open.

This is how the Lord takes care of us, though. We tried to sleep until about 7 a.m., then Molly woke up with an IDEA. The next door neighbor was a doctor! So she went to his house and he came over to look at me. He suspected a tubal pregnancy or appendicitis. He left to try to call someone to open a clinic to do an ultrasound, and when he came back I had fainted and was throwing up. I had tried to get up and get the kids ready to go, and just the act of standing was too much. My blood pressure went completely down. He got an ambulance to come (more on ambulances in Brazil another time) and took me to a clinic.

Instead of his two theories, what he found was a large mass where my left ovary should have been. Behind that mass was an amazing amount of infectious fluid, which was causing the pain. The mass is larger than my uterus. I'll spare you the details of the decision making. The doctor wanted to rush me to surgery in a small hospital in a town nearby, and Todd and the other missionaries put their foot down and arranged for me to come to Fortaleza. They contacted my gynecologist in Fortaleza who opened his clinic and met me there. We had two trucks and no way to get to Fortaleza, the ambulance couldn't take me (not that I'd want it to). So, the Lord provided a neighbor of James and Molly's who not only offered his car, but also drove us here. The 5 hours trip took less than 4 hours ! The doc interior gave me tylenol with codeine and it hardly touched the pain.

When we arrived in Fortaleza, Todd had just arrived in town 5 minutes earlier. We went to the doctor's office and he did another ultrasound, confirming what we saw. I started fainting again and wanting to throw up, so they rushed me to a hospital nearby. It was actually a very good hospital, clean, confortable, room for Todd to sleep comfortably, and the staff was very professional and kind. I was in the hospital for 4 days and on complete bed rest and constant IV antibiotics.

I got out last Friday night, and saw the doctor on Monday. On Tuesday we came back home. I'm on bedrest still and really need it. The pain is diminishing daily, though it is still obviously there. The reason it's not so bad is because the infectious fluid is gone, but I do still have some infection. I'm to go back to the doctor on the 22nd after I finish this round of antibiotics. He will probably schedule laparoscopic surgery to remove the ovary Thanksgiving week, but I don't know that for sure. I'll keep you posted.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers. It's been amazing to see how God has taken care of us and cleared the way for us. His grace is sufficient! And He is the amazing provider!

I'm all tuckered out! So I'll sign off. I've been thinking of other things to write but it will have to wait!

Love you all.