Thursday, January 10, 2013

Holiday Miracles VI


 The road to the hospital had always seemed endless but never in the months of travelling back and forth had it been as long as it was tonight. There could only be one reason for a call in the middle of the night. The moment Wes heard the voice on the other end of the line he steeled himself for the worst.

He thought he was prepared for anything at this point, but as father and son walked the hospital halls to the chapel - he’d yet to tell Jacob – Wes knew he hadn’t prepared himself of late for this.

They were met at the chapel doors by Dr Rattan and his nurse, Margaret. It wasn’t under her usual duties as a private nurse but, as she’d been Kate’s nurse since Kate was Jacob’s age she deserved to be, and wanted to be, here.

“I need you to stay here with Nurse Margaret, Jacob, I need to speak with Dr Rattan alone,” Wes told him. Wes had to be certain there had been no mistake before he’d tell his son the news. There’d be no going back from that conversation.

“Everything is all set, we’re ready when you are,” the Intensive Care nurse informed him when, minutes later, he and Dr Rattan walked into Kate’s room.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Wes said to Dr Rattan. “What if we’re wrong?”

“We’re not,” the Dr gently replied. “We ran every test possible before I called you.”

Tears he’d held for so long ran down his face as Wes took hold of Kate’s hand with one hand and very slowly reached with his other and reluctantly unplugged the machine that had kept her breathing for so long. But his faith was sorely tested in the seconds after, when her chest showed no movement...and then he saw it...Kate truly was breathing unaided.

“Thank God,” he said, letting the breath out he hadn’t realized he was holding. “Do you believe in miracles, Doc?”

Miracles happened every day in his line of work, but never had he prayed so often for a family to be granted one than he did for this one. “I do now, but Wes? Remember she’ll have to stay here until she awakens and regains her strength.”

“I know,” Wes said, “but as you said on the phone, her brain activity was back to normal and breathing on her own was the biggest hurdle. And she’s passed that test with flying colours.”

They discussed what they’d need to watch for in the days and weeks to come and when both Dr Rattan and Wes were satisfied that they’d covered everything, the Dr offered to go to the chapel and bring Jacob up. “You’re about to see a very happy boy,” he said to Wes as he walked out of the room.

While he waited for Jacob, Wes laid his head on Kate’s stomach and prayed aloud. “Dear God, I know all of my prayers have been asking for something lately, but this time I just want to say thank you. Thank you for answering my prayers. Thank you for not taking Kate from us. Thanks...just...thanks.”

“Dad?” Jacob said as he entered the room. “Is Mom alright?”

“Come over here,” replied Wes, “and see for yourself. Mom’s coming home soon, buddy.”

Jacob threw himself onto the bed with his mother and cried, “I knew it. I knew you wouldn’t lie to me. You told me wishes on an Angel on Christmas Eve had the best chance of coming true and...Dad, why won’t Mom answer? Why won’t she wake up? I thought you said she was alright!”

“She is,” Wes explained. “It just may take time for her to wake up and laugh and talk and all those things we’re used to.”

Turning to his Dad Jacob asked the question that had crossed Wes’s mind on the drive over, “what if she never does?”

Wes, still holding Kate’s hand, felt the faintest of movements while trying to form an answer suitable for their five year old son. Could it possibly be? He squeezed her hand and waited. “Jacob, look,” he said, nodding his head toward their clasped hands. “Mom’s moving her fingers.”

Though spent in a hospital room, that Christmas Day was the merriest one Jacob had ever had. He hadn’t cared about presents under the tree, having his Mom come home for good three weeks later was all the present he’d asked for. And the lesson in faith that he and his father were given when Kate told them of the Angel who visited and prompted her to wake up, would last throughout his lifetime.

The End.

May you all be blessed with the peace, love and faith so abundant at this time of year for all the days that follow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Holiday Miracles V


Christmas Eve afternoon and Wes was finally putting up the decorations Jacob had been pleading with him to do for weeks. After their disappointing morning visit with Kate - no change – Wes vowed to put his heart into giving Jacob the best Christmas he could. And for Jacob, though he liked getting presents, that meant sparkling lights, hot chocolate and cookies set out for Santa – carrot sticks for the reindeer were a must - and watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

This had all been Kate’s department and boy, had she made it look easier than it was. Wes had only gotten as far as opening the boxes; he had no idea where to begin. As glittery stars and bears, lights and garland, snowmen and angels seemed to mock him from their cardboard homes, Jacob walked into the room to see his Dad staring uncomprehendingly at the decorations they’d hauled down from the attic.

“Mom puts these outside,” he said, pointing at the snowmen, “and the tree goes up last. When all the decorations are on the tree, the angel goes on top.” And with all the delicacy a young boy could muster, he reached into the box that held their angel and handed her, in all her porcelain glory, over to his Dad.

“Thanks, Champ,” he said, “what would I do without you.” He hugged Jacob tight and was happy to not see the usual eye roll from his ‘I’m too old for that’ son.

Three hours later, father and son, hot chocolate in hand, had set the stage for their holidays to come. Wes sure wished Kate were standing here with them admiring the snowmen on the front porch ready to greet passers-by, garland and bows taking their places on the porch railing and the tree alight in the living room window.

“You have to make a wish, Dad,” Jacob said. “Mom says wishes whispered to an Angel in the silence of Christmas Eve have the best chance of coming true.”

Wish it were that easy, he wanted to say, but believing it was futile didn’t stop Wes from staring into Angel eyes and silently praying that his wife would wake up, or at least that Jacob would always remember her loving words and ways in the years to come.

“What did you wish for?” Wes asked, as if he didn’t know.

“I can’t tell you. If I tell you it won’t come true,” Jacob told him.

He didn’t expect Jacob to tell him everything, so leaving it at that, Wes tucked Jacob in for the night, then settled into his chair to wait until Jacob was asleep so Santa could go about leaving presents and imbibing the sweets he’d helped his son set out for Santa. And he had to make sure the reindeer nibbled on the carrots left out for them before taking himself off to bed.

The jingle of the phone was what woke him from his chair hours later. His jumbled thoughts went from who could that be calling at this time of night to sheer panic in seconds. “Please God, no, not today. Not on Christmas,” he quickly prayed as he stumbled to find the phone in the dark. “Hello?”

to be continued...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Miracles IV

      “It’s going to be alright.”

Holding Kate’s hand, he was praying to God for guidance and watching his sleeping son curled next to his mother; desperation, frustration, sadness and love beyond measure, the tumultuous emotions of the evening. Those uttered words from Kate the only exception - or addition in his dreams - to the events of the night before and oh, how he wished it were true.  

How happy that would make him to be planning her welcome home party rather than her funeral. But that was just the coward’s way out, he thought. It was time to face reality, and part of that reality was when and what to tell Jacob.

Was it right to expect a five year old to understand something his adult brain didn’t? A kid was only a kid once. He couldn’t, didn’t, expect his young son to have the answers to the questions or take on the responsibilities of the adults in Jacob’s life. Putting too much on Jacob was wrong to Wes’s belief.

But on the other hand, if he didn’t tell him ahead of time and waited until he was old enough to understand, would Jacob hate him for not letting him be part of the decision? Were there things he’d be robbing Jacob of doing with or saying to his mother by not giving him warning?

Either way he looked at it, explaining death to his son was hard at any time of year, at any age, but at Christmas doubly so.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Miracles III


      “Good evening, Wes,” greeted Kate’s Dr as they entered Kate’s room. “I’m afraid there’s still no change.” As a husband Dr Rattan understood Wes’s inability to make the decision he needed to make. If roles were reversed he didn’t know if he could choose to turn off machines keeping his wife alive. But as a doctor, he believed it cruel, to Kate and her loved ones, to drag out the inevitable. “Have you made a decision?” he asked.

Wes looked pointedly at Jacob, a gentle reminder that they weren’t alone in the room, and carefully responded. “I’ve thought of not much else, Doc” Wes answered, nodding towards the door. Wes turned to Jacob and said, “Dr Rattan and I will just be out in the hall for a minute. How ‘bout you talk to your Mom while I’m gone.”

“I prayed, well maybe hoped, I’d walk into her room today and she’d be awake. That I wouldn’t have to decide on anything more than what was for dinner tomorrow,” Wes told Dr Rattan. “You know, I bought her a Christmas present – a heart locket. I had the jeweler do our pictures so that when she opens it, it looks like we’re holding hands.”

“You’re just making it harder on yourself, Wes; you know as I do what Kate wanted. You can’t put this off any longer, it’s not right.”

“Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve. I won’t,” Wes paused at the look on Dr Rattan’s face, “can’t, do it until after Christmas. I won’t do that to Jacob.”

“I’m sure Kate will forgive us under the circumstances, but Wes? The day after Christmas is as long as I’ll wait.”

Wes stood in the hallway alone long after Dr Rattan went on his way praying for the help he and Jacob would need in the coming months.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Miracles II


What kind of man would it make him if he agreed to pull the plug on his wife’s life support? What kind of husband would he be if he didn’t?

Wes had been circling around this, running on hope and pure adrenaline for months. He’d spent what seemed like a lifetime praying and hoping for a miracle but time was running out.

Kate was his wife, his best friend, his one and only and the love of his life. They still had a lot of life ahead of them to live, many more places to go and dreams to turn into reality. It mattered not one bit to him that most of his days were all the same.

He’d wake up, get ready for work, and wake Jacob up for school. Then juggle eating breakfast with him while packing lunches and reading/signing the endless parent information forms the school sent home and after dropping Jacob off at before school care it was off to work for Wes.

After the long daily grind of traffic and the office he’d pick Jacob up from school, take him home and go over his homework with him before eating a quick bite of supper. If it was a work night at job number two, he’d wait for a neighbour's daughter to come over to sit with Jacob. If not, as was the case tonight, they’d head to the hospital to visit Kate.

Keeping up with two jobs to pay the hospital bills, taking care of Jacob, tossing and turning at night trying to get some sleep so he could get up the next morning and do it all over again had Wes on the verge of exhaustion, but he couldn’t let go. How could he?

He had another five days – the time that Kate’s Living Will would allow -- to put off what looked like the inevitable. And her wishes were very clear. If she was ever on life support she didn’t want to live long enough to be a burden to him and it was up to him to end her life with kindness.

She allowed one month’s grace from the time her Doctor advised taking her off the machines -- a concession she made after he protested that Doctors weren’t God, that God may work on his own timetable, and that he’d never be able to live with himself wondering if he’d taken away the only chance she had at life.

Kate had no way of knowing that decision would have him signing her death warrant just days before Christmas. How could he look Jacob in the eye, when he was old enough, and tell him that in the end it was he who took his Mom away from him?  And at Christmas?

Jacob would hate him, and who could blame him?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Miracles - I


Jacob’s family once celebrated Christmas with all the trimmings. His Mom would have had the house decorated and the tree up by now. The smell of her Christmas baking would be wafting throughout their home from now until the big day. Presents would be wrapped and hidden in his parents’ closet ready for ‘Santa’ to put under the tree on Christmas Eve. But those days were over and he was angry.

Angry, not at his Dad for not celebrating the holidays this year, but at the driver of the car who hit his Mom in the crosswalk that day in August; angry at God for letting it happen and for not answering his many prayers.

“Jacob,” said his Dad, “We’re leaving for the hospital in a few minutes. Be ready to go in fifteen.”

Jacob wished he was old enough to stay home alone. He didn’t know why Dad kept going there. What was the point? Mom had been unable to wake up since the accident; she didn’t even know they were in the room with her. Dad tried to tell him she could hear but he didn’t believe that. She was a stranger now.

His Mom would have laughed at his stories, hugged him to say hello, goodbye and just, well, whenever he looked like he needed one. Now, he’d sit there, listening to Dad tell his Mom about his day then watch the familiar sadness come crashing in when her facial expression remained as blank as it had since August.

“Ok, Dad,” was his only reply as he put his book and toys in his backpack to take with him for the long evening ahead. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Life With Fibromyalgia - Part Four

This is my story and is in no way intended to diagnose, treat or advise anyone on Fibromyalgia or any other medical disorder, only a qualified health professional can do that. 

My frustration had mounted to new heights when I happened on a link to a video done by a Dr, a Chiropractic Neurologist, who claimed to specialize in Fibromyalgia.

Part of me thought, ‘Yeah sure. Are you going to try and tell me it’s all in my head or how many more supplements/medicines I need to add to what I already take or how if I only exercised more I wouldn’t have Fibro in the first place?’ And the other part of me, the one I listened to that day, thought, ‘What do I have to lose besides a few minutes of my time I’ll never get back if it turns out to be bogus, but what if it gives us some answers, maybe a new direction? What if this guy is for real?’

The clear, concise information on what Fibromyalgia is, and isn’t, was given with compassion and a knowledge that filled me with hope again. A Google search later I had found we live close enough to one of the nine Chiropractic Neurologists there are here in Canada.

I thought I’d been put through tests before being diagnosed, but that was nothing compared to the twelve page questionnaire covering every system in my body and rating how well it was working (or not) that I had to fill out before my first appointment. Again I gave a complete account of my medical history and had more tests conducted by this new Dr.

My husband and I walked through the door of the Dr’s office, myself a nervous wreck expecting to have tender points pressed, and within minutes were put at ease. His assurance that there would be no pain for me in any way during the tests being performed held true.

I didn’t understand how the tests he did could possibly relate at the time to my situation, I think because they weren’t invasive, but as we were finishing off the first appointment, he loaned me a book and  asked me to read the first three chapters before my next appointment and we’d discuss it then, that he was sure there would be ‘light bulb’ moments for me. And he was right.

This book, which I read in its entirety (I couldn’t put it down) explained food intolerances/allergies/sensitivities, particularly gluten, and the connection to autoimmune disorders. Not just gluten’s connection to Celiac Disease. It was eye-opening to read documented information with explanations on how this is possible, and some Fibromyalgia symptoms started making more sense to me.

My follow-up appointment was scary, to say the least. The tests/information told him that I was/am Insulin Resistant/Pre-diabetic/Reactive Hypoglycemic, was Celiac (like my father before me) or was heading that way (but further testing would be required to be certain), had Leaky Gut Syndrome - or both, my adrenal glands were fatiguing (no surprise there!). But the worst part of what he told us was that one lobe of my brain was functioning for all of the others that had weakened and it was tiring fast. 

I wasn’t the worst case of Fibromyalgia he’d seen or treated but I was one of them. He agreed to take me on as a patient and wanted to start as soon as possible. And we were all set until he laid out the therapy/schedule/cost for us up-front (so we’d know what to plan for).

At that point I felt like that huge weight that was lifting off my shoulders was crushing down again, but we agreed to think it over before making a decision. For me, it was way out of my comfort zone financially, with the appointments themselves, the gas driving to/from twice a week (45-60 min one way) and time off my husband would have to take for those days (I couldn’t drive).

Sitting, having dinner together and talking it over, I discussed this book with my husband and we agreed that I’d go gluten-free while we sorted the financial stuff out. If it made a difference, great, if not, well at least it gave me something constructive to do in the meantime and three days later I embarked on this gluten-free journey.

Two days into a GF diet and I was sold. I had more energy, less pain, much less brain fog, vertigo episodes were lessening in frequency and severity, and it all continued to improve over time. But oh how I missed ‘real’ bread and on day ten I gave in and tested it out with a sandwich.

The next morning I regretted it when I woke in body-wide pain, brain fog, vertigo, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Back to a GF diet for me and have only once since purposely had something with gluten to see if I’d still react, or more like, how much could I get away with before having a reaction. And for me the truth is, none. I can now tell when I’ve been ‘glutened’ as I like to call it. In my case it affects my brain for two or three days after ingesting (on purpose or being cross-contaminated) it.

I still crave wheat, that hasn’t stopped yet and I’m not sure it ever will go away entirely. Walking past the bakery section of the grocery store makes me miss fresh baked ‘real’ bread, cakes and cookies even more but with the vast improvement I’ve had in my health after fourteen and a half weeks GF I won’t cave to the craving.

My brain is much sharper, quicker to respond mentally and physically; the broken finger feeling I had for over a year was gone after two months of GF; I’m no longer waking up each morning feeling like I was beat up in the night; my sleep pattern is even better; I can type AND remember (unless I’ve been ‘glutened’) what I wanted to say; I’m actually tasting my food now which still makes no sense to me, but there it is.

With all of these improvements, and many more that I haven’t mentioned, it makes no difference to me whether I would be considered gluten allergic, severely intolerant or just sensitive. Whatever title you want to give it, it means the same thing. I can’t have gluten. And no amount of medication added to my regime would’ve fixed or changed that fact.

I'm not saying that the therapy/treatment plan the Dr set out for us wouldn't have worked as well, I have no way of knowing that. Nor am I saying that I won't at some point go for those treatments/further testing but for now this has made such a huge difference in my quality of life I see no reason to take it to that level. But I do have him to thank for the information that guided us down this path. 

I have a new family Dr, for who knows how long or how well she deals with Fibromyalgia, but in the meantime, I will stay gluten-free. 

And now, onto dealing with the Insulin Resistance/Pre-diabetes/Reactive Hypoclycemia...

To be continued at a later date...