Tag: dementia

prayer comes in many forms and colors

Pain hurts. Now there’s a “Duh”.

I have the greatest empathy for anyone who suffers chronic pain. It’s no fun.

As you know,  I’ve had numerous foot surgeries. For the past two years, I’ve been able to walk without limping and without pain.

Until yesterday.

Even the limp is back. Needless to say, I’ve been discouraged. There’s pain in places in my foot I wouldn’t have thought could cause pain!

Now, this is not to elicit your sympathy. It’s just to acknowledge that pain is very much a part of the Christian’s experience.

I’m always amazed at those Christians who are proponents of the “Christians don’t hate to experience pain. We can pray ourselves right out of it.”

Hmmm. Do you think they would have dared tell Jesus that as he hung on the cross?

I don’t think so.

But it’s not just physical pain where Christians are not exempt. It’s the emotional pain as well and this garners even more disdain from those Christians I dub the “Christians for whom everything is always wonderful.”

Just wait.

If one’s lives long enough, they will experience some emotional pain. How traumatic it is, whether it results in true depression or not, might well depend on their willingness to admit it.

Maybe there’s something to be said for experience some pain before you have to experience a whole lot of it. Hopefully, I’ve already reached my “quota”.

But there’s to be learned from pain.

First of all, we get a “sampling” of what Jesus suffered for us.

Secondly, we learn to trust more. Wouldn’t you agree that our faith grows more during difficult times?. I wish it wasn’t so, but I’m afraid it is.

Third, pain, in all its forms, keeps us humble. Somehow when we’re in pain, it’s easier to empathize with others.

Since my mom died, I’ve found it easier to empathize with the pain others feel when they lose a loved one. Up to this point, I feel I fell short. The last year, and especially the final six months were particularly hard due to the dementia. So when I ran into a couple who were having a garage sale and they shared they had moved back to the area to take care of the women’s father who had dementia, I knew what to say. I was able to share the pain I had felt. I hope it helped.

Pain should make us more “open” and understanding of another’s pain.

I’ve never lost my home to a natural disaster, the type of which is hammering Texas.  I did have a tree fall on our house many years ago and I remember how I felt then. While that was nothing in comparison, I can take my mind a little further and think, “What if my whole house had been destroyed?” To me, losing my home is the second rung on the ladder of disasters, with death and/0r a terrible prognosis being at the top.

Recently, I went through a season of pain with someone. Watching them suffer broke my heart. I felt helpless but I wasn’t.

I prayed hard. Not just in the morning either, but throughout the day and every time they’re name came to mind , which was just about all the time.

That’s the skill we hone when it’s someone else’s’ pain. We really learn how to strip aside all our fancy words; we learn how to “get real” in our prayers.

We cry out.

We don’t worry about whether we are being too honest or not. (Is that even possible?)

We set aside our “genteel” notions about prayer.

We pray a whole lot more like Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Maybe that’s the biggest benefit of pain-learning to pray better.

God bless and remember there isn’t anything you can’t say to God.

 

victory

How to triumph over the really tough times.

Why am I so tired? Why do I feel so deflated?

Oh, yea, now I remember.

The fatigue I am feeling after the loss of my mom is overwhelming. It’s been one week.

My brother and I have lived on such high alert these past months, that to have that pressure gone, to longer be so hyper vigilant seems like a void. It’s like our balloon was full all the time and now the air has been let out.

Whew!

deflated balloon

THE BATTLES

We went from having to constantly remind her she needed her hearing aids, to finding her hearing aids as she was constantly losing them. She was very stubborn, no, very, very, stubborn and strong-willed. There were days I had to actually leave her house because I was shouting so much to get her to hear me. After about thirty minutes, it comes across like you’re mad, even if you’re not. So there’s that.

Then there were the battles over the walker. Try and make someone do something they don’t want to do. That’s very stressful.  So for months, we were holding our breath and worrying as we watched her stumble and sway. And, of course, she did fall.

Then there were the GI bleeds and the hospitalizations.

There were the battles over her eating. Prior to all this, we went through a time when she wasn’t eating at all. We tried everything. Buying her everything we thought she would like. I cooked her favorite foods. Eventually, we got past that.

Then there was trying to get her used to the home care we brought in to help her. She couldn’t’ be left alone at all for the last months as there was too great a danger of falling. It was like pulling teeth to having her accept the home care we were insisting on. Finally, the women became “friends” to her. And eventually, they were there almost twenty-four hours a day.

Then there was her memory. Most of the time, it was gone. So she couldn’t remember falling-ever. When we showed her the broken arm with a cast, she still didn’t believe us. When she broke her fingers a few weeks after breaking her wrist, she couldn’t remember even falling the first time. She thought we were lying to her. So there was that.

It was hard. We both felt great stress all the time trying to do our best for her.

We were a team and we were determined to keep her in her home. But it took a toll on us.

THE VICTORY

victory

And here’s the important part. We would both do it all over again. It’s amazing the strength God gives when we have none left. Right up until the end.

No matter what you’re struggling with, God will open a path to get through it.

1 Corinthians 10:13New International Version (NIV)1

No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

(1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.)

But here’s the thing. God requires our cooperation.

For every struggle we had with my mom, I was actively pursuing options. I took books out of the library. I searched the web. I called her doctor time and again to try something new. I talked to other people. I reached out in as many ways as I could think of. I can’t think of a single idea I came up with that wasn’t the result of hard work on my part along with a lot of prayer and direction from God.

Something would pop into my head and I would know God was leading and so I would buckle down and do whatever I had to do.

BUT FIRST, THE QUESTION

question mark

 

Jesus once asked a blind mind sitting by a pool, “What do you want me to do?”

“I want to be healed”. (paraphrased)

Jesus healed him but the blind man (Bartimaeus) had to ask. I often imagined I was being asked that question.

“What do you want”.

“I want ………………………..”

For every step of my mom’s journey, I asked God, not for healing, but for direction and wisdom.

And every step of the way, he answered.

God bless and have a good day.

 

What does grief “look” like on a Christian?

How does a Christian wear their faith and what does that faith look like when one’s journey is painful?

Here are my thoughts based on years of studying the Bible, reading books by the great authors of past and present, prayer, and my own trials. Faith isn’t necessarily:

  • A smiling face though your heart is breaking
  • Displaying no tears.
  • Saying the right words
  • A lack of questions.
  • Acting brave

It is through tears, heartbreak, and questions that we become more aware, not less, of God’s all-encompassing love.

How can we know a God of comfort if we’re never been in a situation to be comforted? How can we know a God of strength if we’ve never been held up by “divine arms”? How can we have a will to survive when it seems as if God has abandoned us if not by experiencing that “quiet, still voice” during the tough times?

I was a hospital chaplain for about ten years and I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen grief expressed ways you couldn’t even imagine, from screaming to fainting, to stroking the deceased from the top of their head to their feet, to family fist fights, to stoicism, to anger, to not caring at all.

The time we should least judge anyone’s faith is when they’re experiencing grief.  “There but for the grace of God go I“, is never truer than at a time like this.

Besides our time will come.

Guaranteed.

I think sometimes that’s why we judge. We don’t know how to separate what has happened to them and what may, no, will, eventually happen to us. So we project on them all the ways we hope we will behave but aren’t the least bit sure we will. We foolishly imagine we would handle it better.

But we don’t have a clue.

If we don’t want others to judge us during our darkest hour, we’d better not judge them during theirs.

That has been true for me as well. During my darkest times, I’m sure I haven’t acted as others might expect but I’ve walked in the awareness of the presence of God and, frankly, that has kept me from caring too much about what anyone else thought.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of what I read not too long ago:

We get through the tough times by learning to walk in the continual awareness that we’re walking in the presence of God.

It’s kind of like walking in the woods. You don’t see a path, but as you walk the branches move back, the ground is swept away, and a   path appears. You don’t see who is clearing your path but you know there is a Presence walking ahead of you preparing a way. It’s kind of mystical and magical and yet Scripture promises that God will, in fact, always prepare the way. But I like to visualize my scriptures, so this works for me.

If my mom’s behavior this past weekend means anything, her passing may be sooner than I want. I grieved for my dad but I will grieve for my mother even more. There’s something about losing a mother.

Will I act the way people think I should? I don’t even know if I will act the waythink I should. I only know I have been grieving for a long time now.

Have you seen some of those commercials that advertise meds for dementia? They present a romanticized picture of an illness that is anything but. Maybe in the beginning of the illness but let me tell you, it’s not sweet and lovely as they make it seem. Dementia is a horrible, degrading illness and watching a loved one deteriorate in unimaginable ways is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to watch.

I will grieve and miss my mother but I will not grieve her escape from this nightmare. I will grieve my loss but will rejoice when I think of her in God’s presence, whole and beautiful once again.

Whatever you’re dealing with today, whether it’s grief, depression or any number of other life’s assaults, I hope that you are aware of God’s presence in whatever way He has chosen to make Himself known to you.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

hope

Mom had a stroke and things are worse

I couldn’t share this sooner because my daughter and my niece were out-of-town for spring break. My brother and I decided the keep my mom’s condition quiet from all social media until they came home which is why I couldn’t post this sooner.

My mom had a stroke ten days ago. It affected her left side so she is unable to use that side. Her chewing and swallowing is affected. She is now in a wheelchair. To make all of this worse, she doesn’t remember having the stroke and doesn’t believe she had one either. She also thinks she can still walk so she tries to get up and, of course, has fallen twice more.

So now she is confined to a wheelchair and is strapped in. We have a strap ordered from Hospice so she can be strapped into other chairs as well. We tried a child’s bed rail but she got her legs tangled in it so today we are removing her box springs and lowering the bed. The mattress will be supported by plywood. If she falls out, she won’t have as far to fall.

Since the stroke, she doesn’t believe she is in her own home so she is getting agitated. We now have to give her a “cocktail” of medications (per Hospice) to calm her down so she can sleep.

This has been rough.

Some people have been very kind to suggest that her last days would be filled with quiet, bittersweet conversations, you know, like in a Nicholas Sparks movie.

That isn’t going to happen.

Instead, I’m going to see her get more confused and more agitated. I can’t tell you how much this saddens me. To think that these are going to be my last memories of her is hard.

But God has been close and I’ve felt his guidance every step of the way. I’ve prayed so hard for her to return just a little to her old self so we could have those sweet moments.

I don’t feel like God has let me down. I don’t feel he hasn’t answered my prayers. She is going to be healed, just not on this earth. When she passes on, I’m going to think of her smiling, cooking, working in her garden, and drinking iced tea on her deck. And that is one prayer I’m not giving up on, sitting on her deck and drinking iced tea with her one more time.

I’m sure some would think me foolish for my faith. Isn’t it apparent God doesn’t answer prayer? And yet I still believe.

People get old and people die;  illness affects us all. Nothing changes that. And healing is up to God. Why he heals some and not others, I don’t know. So I don’t pray that God will extend her life because she wouldn’t want to live much longer like this. Would you? I pray instead that I will continue to trust in God and that I will know what to do each step of the way. So far, so good. I can’t think of a single decision I’ve made that I haven’t felt was the right one.

I pray instead that I will continue to trust in God and that I will know what to do each step of the way. So far, so good. I can’t think of a single decision I’ve made that I haven’t felt was the right one.

The next big decision will be whether she has to live elsewhere. We are exhausting every possible solution before we get to that point.

Sometimes an impossible situation like this one, when things just keep getting worse and worse, are what make us stronger. But to tell you the truth, I’d just as soon not take this journey.

I just wanted to bring you all up to date. After today, I will quit posting about this unless something major happens.

My life is going on. My mother would want that for me.

God bless and have a good day.

god-can-do-more/2017

It’s a choice. It’s all a choice. Here’s why.

It’s early and I’m getting ready to head to my mom’s.

I read a sentence this morning from Leo Tolstoy and it’s so true, in most instances anyway.

Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.

I have to remind myself of that often. I’m not going to have my mom around that much longer, although she comes from a mother who lived to be one hundred and three and a sister that lived to one hundred and two. My mom is not as healthy as they were and is very frail. Every day we worry about a severe fall that will completely do her in.

But until then, I want to care for her the best I can. I’ve pampered her a lot this week just because I can. One of her caregivers is a licensed cosmetologist so she’s had a pedicure and a manicure. I’ve prepared some special meals and tonight she gets treated to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I am sad though because we don’t have the conversations we used to have. She can’t as she can’t follow a chain of thought for more than a few minutes. I realize I am in a stage of grieving even though I still have her with me physically. She’s not the mother I know. She’s a new mother, one that requires my utmost patience.

What a shift in roles, one I never saw coming but one that has enriched my life and made me a better person, although I worried for a time that it would make me bitter.

But God is on his throne guiding me every step of the way and I rest in him.

God bless and have a good day.

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