December 5, 2012

Tennessee is beautiful this time of year...

I had this big gigantic surprise. I was going to fly out to Tennessee to surprise my baby sister who is going through a bone marrow transplant.

I asked Trent if I could go--meaning, can we swing the cash for a plane ticket and of course, he said yes. So, I made the reservation and scheduled to leave on November 9th. Well, as I type this--it's not November 9th and yet I have been here for 14 days.

My grandfather fell. He had been going to physical therapy because he lost a toe to diabetes. Well, during therapy one day, he just kinda fell over. And then, an hour later he fell again. He had an aneurism and was admitted to hospital on October 22nd.

After a few phone calls, I had canceled my ticket and made arrangements to fly out the next morning. I told mom and dad I'd be willing to stay with Alicia as long as necessary so mom could be with her dad and mom.

I ended up surprising my sister anyway. No one told her I was coming. The look on her face was priceless. I wish I had caught it on camera.

Mom and Dad left that night and I was left with Alicia and Gavin (her husband) to learn what it means to be a "caregiver". No notes. No prep. Just: "Here you go...your sister needs you to take care of her". Aaaahhhh! I don't think I ever really panicked about it until she ran a fever. On, October 27th, she had a fever of 100.4. That means: "We go to hospital." We called the 1-800 number and waited. And waited. And waited. Lucky for me (sarcasm!!!) the paging system was down, so it took an hour and a half to get a doctor. All the while I am trying to remain calm and in control and her fever slowly starts to go down. It remained down and eventually broke.

Every day for the last two weeks, I have taken her to clinic. Clinic is like a mad, bizarre game of roulette. Each day, she gets an antiviral drug and chemotherapy. And depending on other symptoms, sometimes she is given other drugs. And sometimes these drugs cause new symptoms. Each day she feels better in some ways, worse in others. There is no predicting what drug will help and which one may cause a symptom to develop. It's crazy. Insane. It's necessary.

I will say this...the gals who work this clinic are top notch. One gal in particular. Her name is Esta and I can not describe to you the feeling I got off her other than I felt clearly she was called by God to be a nurse and to be my sister's nurse. I felt this invisible embrace of a complete stranger (to me) and it was warm, compassionate and caring. In two seconds, I trusted this woman completely with the care of my sister.

It is now December 5th and I am just now attempting to complete this entry.  At this point, I can look back and say that the 3 weeks I spent in Nashville changed my life.  I have never had a grown up toddler before. Yes, taking care of an adult is like have a giant toddler under your care. When she would go into another room and was quiet too long--I'd have to go see what she was in to to make sure she was ok.

Honestly, we didn't "do" much, but I wouldn't trade those weeks for anything.  My sister washed my hair for me after I had Jon and I've been waiting for YEARS to be able to repay that favor.  Now, we are even. 

She is STILL my baby sister, and I still want to grow up to be JUST like her.  She really is the strongest person I know.  Hearing her pray in the bedroom, crying out to God for mercy from all the pain and sickness and in the next sentence giving Him praise...  Well, it reminded me of my mother and all those years ago, I overheard her praying in her bedroom and the sounds were identical.

I could not be more happy, proud and THANKFUL to be a part of a REAL Christian family.  My family acts like Christians even when no one is watching.

Sorry for the delay of this post.  It's been interesting going from Manila, to jet lag, to Nashville, to full time evangelizing (running the roads) again, and only last week did I finally feel like I was *home*.  My house is mostly put back together and even decorated for Christmas!!  And despite a persistent water leak that is coming from an unknown source, it feels much more "homey" to me now.  

Oh, don't get me wrong, we are all "homesick"for Manila.  We talk about it nearly every day still.  Sorry for this post turning into a recap.  I will try to do better in the future!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!!

PS: If you or someone you know is undergoing a Bone Marrow Transplant, you can learn more and read about my sister's experience on her blog:  That's What I Think.  She also wrote a FANTASTIC novel a while back that is WELL WORTH the read:  Margo

This is Alicia, waiting in clinic, receiving her meds via IV form in a port located in her chest.
This is me, waiting patiently while she receives meds in clinic.  I sent this pic to my kiddos while waiting.
2nd hospital visit.  Cocktail hour!!  So many IVs, so little time.
Alicia, just snoozing and taking it easy.  Not much else to do.
My bed during the 1st hospital stay...but the bed the 2nd stay was quite similar. A very FIRM bed that my back enjoyed ever so much.  Really.

A little virus scare.  All persons entering the room had to mask up. This was to prevent the spread of infection/virus to other patients on the same floor.  We did not have to wear masks, as we were not going to be visiting other patients.
An outside view of Alicia's room.  These stations were in between two rooms so the nurses could look in on two patients at a time, as necessary. 
Didn't have time to capture any of the beautiful fall foliage of Tennessee, but I did get this pic of the overcast Autumn sky.  There is no better place to experience Autumn leaves than Tennessee, in my opinion.

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