Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Break from the Bible

As with other days and times during the past year, I had an intention of sitting down and writing out great, wise words and insights on the readings from Florence Li Tim-Oi Day or yesterday's marking of the Conversion of St. Paul (one of my favorite stories in the Book of Acts).  But intellectual musings and ponderings have taken a back seat to the reality of what is in front of me: my mom's health.

I was sitting in the chapel at St. John's for my weekly communion with the Spirit in that space when my phone rang.  It was my brother Edward, calling me into the care meeting for my mother, the Anonymous Peggins aka "Hurricane Peg."  This was a palliative care meeting, which already had me feeling low.  I could handle a discussion of Hospice care.  But what happened midway into this meeting was a sock in the jaw.  Here's the entry I put up on her CaringBridge site:

"Hello there, Peg Nation,

The past 33+ hours have been quite trying on Hurricane Peg and her children. Mom was brought into the hospital for third time about a week ago. On Friday, the doctors at Elliot Hospital in Manchester did a procedure, using minimal anesthetic, to move her PEG tube from the stomach to the duodenum (small intestine). The thinking was that the feeding tube was causing her to aspirate all her liquids from her stomach into esophagus. This move would mean her nutrition, liquids, and meds would go to the intestine.

The surgery happened... but not without incident. Her blood pressure dropped and she wasn't getting enough oxygen in her blood. The answer was to put her on a ventilator, and then have the surgeons join the care meeting that was already underway with my brothers Tom and Edward, and me, straining to hear the conversation over the speaker on Edward's cell phone. The surgeons informed us of what happened, and made it clear that the wind had been knocked out of the sails of this hurricane. After tears were shed, my brother, Tom, in a moment of calm wisdom, asked them if we shouldn't wait to see what happened when mom came out of the anesthesia. I supported him in this, as well as noting that mom is quite stubborn and we need to see what she (or more accurately, her body) was going to do.

As of this writing tonight, her body is proving that it will give everything it's got. Her blood pressure and her heart rate and all her vitals as of this evening were looking good. She is still on the ventilator, but tonight, they set it to intermittent, meaning that she is doing some breathing on her own. Tom told me that they would be doing a test to see if she can maybe go without ventilation. If they believe that to be possible, they will remove, or extubate, the tubes from her and let her breathe again. As with all procedures, there is nothing that is risk-free, including this. And there is no doubt that three trips to the hospital, draining a quart of liquid from her right lung, and all the other difficulties, indignities, and attitude she's had to put up with since March 27th of last year, has made my mom's body weaker than where it was. And still, she is a force of nature and not one who will fizzle out. She is not always awake, but she is still very aware of what's going on around her. She responds to the voices of her sons, and has moved her hand a few times. Tom says the one hand which had had gout was looking really good.

I am going home this week and am hoping that my mom has enough steam to know that I am with her and love her dearly. It would be good to see her regain a little more wind speed in the next few days."

In retrospect, I'm grateful for the time I had in the chapel on Friday.  We read from Psalm 116, a wonderful reminder of my days of re-membering into this relationship with God.

 1I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of
                              my supplication, *
    because he has inclined his ear to me whenever
                              I called upon him.  
2 The cords of death entangled me;
the grip of the grave took hold of me; *
    I came to grief and sorrow.  
3 Then I called upon the Name of the LORD: *
   "O LORD, I pray you, save my life."  
4 Gracious is the LORD and righteous; *
    our God is full of compassion.  
5 The LORD watches over the innocent; *
    I was brought very low, and he helped me.  
6 Turn again to your rest, O my soul. *
    for the LORD has treated you well.  
7 For you have rescued my life from death, *
    my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.  
8 I will walk in the presence of the LORD *
    in the land of the living.  
9 I believed, even when I said,
"I have been brought very low." *
    In my distress I said, "No one can be trusted."  
10 How shall I repay the LORD *
    for all the good things he has done for me?  
11 I will lift up the cup of salvation *
    and call upon the Name of the LORD.

1 comment:

Phoebe McFarllin said...

For in the day of trouble God shall keep (you) safe in his shelter...Ps 27