Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Renewing of the Mind

I think the hardest thing about getting used to Hospice is that you have to change a lifetime of thinking habits. We've all become so used to running to the doctor over every little thing. The usual course is for the doctor to order a multitude of tests for anything that seems remotely suspicious. But suddenly, that all comes to a screeching halt. Even as we have visible tumors that grow before our eyes on a daily basis, all that will be done is an increase of pain meds if it is warranted. 

There is even a name for this type of practice: palliative care. This means reducing the pain of the symptoms but not halting the progression of the disease. The first grade teacher in me sees the word "palliative"  and remembers a passage in a Beezus and Ramona book by Beverly Cleary: Beezus reminds her younger sister, Ramona, that we spell "principal" with a "pal" because the school principal is our pal. Ramona is not buying this man being her pal. I'm with Ramona about the word palliative care. It's definitely not my pal in many ways.

Health issues during this time with Hospice resemble stacked dominoes, ready to tumble off of each other at a moment's notice. Yes, we know the foot is extremely swollen, but a diuretic would lower the already too-low blood pressure and could case falls. Yes, we know that the morphine slows the breathing in a lung that is already under-serving the body with oxygen, but it provides painfree breathing. Yes, we know the meds cause the system to back up and result in occasional confusion. The meds may relieve the pain, but in many other ways they are not our pal. 

It is a continual balancing act to remain optimistic knowing there will be no healing on this side of Heaven. And so we are learning to think in new ways in that area, too. The main thing is appreciating the blessing of thankfulness. We are thankful that we will have family from all over the country coming in over the next week. We are thankful for friends who stay one step away in the shadows, but are always ready to jump in and help us with the smallest thing at a moment's notice. We are thankful for the creativity within the body of Christ as each individual comes up with yet another way to lift our spirits and bless us.

One example I'd like to share is our friend J. He took hundreds of pictures of our family and made a DVD of them set to the music of Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dieing" and Nicole Nordeman's "I Want to Leave a Legacy". I would ask D if he wanted to watch it, but each day he was too tired and would say, "Tomorrow". Yesterday, we did watch it together. I kept watching his face to see what he thought. Just the words of those songs can get to you. Dave smiled and laughed the entire way through as image after image of our family flashed across the screen. When it was over, he turned to me and said with a huge grin, "We have had such a happy life."

Yes, we have. This life? It has been our pal.

1 comment:

V....Vaughan said...

I am reading these, and enjoying "being" with you, Raeanne. I hate that I am gone till obligation after another. ....walking with you reminds me of walking with my sister when her sweet husband was so sick...the REALEST, DEEPEST joys remained and grew bigger and healthier as his health faded. I wanted what I saw they had...
by the way, your "blanket" comment on my blog made me laugh hard, because I titled it that on purpose, wondering if anyone else would look in for the same twisted reason you did...hahahahahaha....laughter is good medicine. Please hug Dave especially for me today. I am loving him and thanking God for him so often!