Friday, August 31, 2007

Bailey is an angel! We are having a wonderful time together. She's a bit sad...going through a grieving process much like my own.

I am starting to feel more and more. I had a stressful moment today and longed for Chuck's soothing presence. It's moments like that that are happening more and more...that I'm starting to feel my loss. God is gently lifting the warm, cozy blanket of denial. I will cling to him and his promise to comfort the broken-hearted.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. I'm looking forward to sun and fun with the Picciuti clan.
Bailey will be here just any time. She's spending the night...a final check to make sure we'll work. I am so excited. As for a promises.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Someone sent me "St. Theresa's prayer." I did a quick Google search to see if it really is her prayer and came up with inconclusive evidence. Dad, I'm sure you'll uncover the your son most certainly would have..."state your source." In any case, it is a lovely prayer:

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of you.
I went to work for a couple of hours today. Chuck was sorely missed. I think that getting back to my "real" life makes me very aware that Chuck is gone. Hence, things may be rough for a little while. Who am I kidding? Things will be rough for a long while. However, I am fully trusting God to slowly release memories. I know that he will not give me more pain in a single day than I can bear AND that his mercies are new EVERY morning.

I have not mentioned it in the blog yet, as I wanted to wait until things were more secure. I am getting a dog...and not just any dog. Many of you know that I am a dog lover and have wanted a dog for the LONGEST time. When things got really stressful with Chuck's hospital stay, I would find relief by searching the internet for the perfect dog. I cannot tell you how many times I found "the perfect dog." However, Chuck thought I should wait until I was home more and could devote time to a dog. Even though it was killing me, I knew Chuck was right. I also knew that if I was faithful in waiting for God's timing, he would bring the right dog at the right time. Wouldn't you know it, he brought the dog to my FRONT DOOR.

I was being interviewed for a dog adoption. I found a dog that was in Longview, and a local woman came for a home visit. (Animal rescue folks are very networked.) In any case, Dagi (my new friend and dog mentor), brought one of her foster dogs to the interview. I could not take my eyes off Bailey. She is PRECIOUS. In any case, the other dog is young and still puppy-ish. Also, she is an alpha dog, which could cause unrest for me at a time when I need some peace. All the while Dagi is interviewing me, Bailey (my precious girl) is cozily kicked back. She is sooo loving, gentle, and sweet! I asked if Bailey was available...I'm sure you can guess the rest. She's coming over tomorrow for a trial run. She'll spend the night and we'll play on Saturday. If you are in town, you MUST come for a visit! (once Bailey is here and settled)

I will be flying to Dallas on Saturday to spend the holiday weekend with the Picciutis.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Toast...only a fellow diabetic would think to ask! Aside from Chuck's final day (Sunday), my blood sugars have been fine. Last Sunday my blood sugars hung around matter how much insulin I took. Extreme stress does crazy stuff.

I have an appointment with my endocrinologist I've been on a new pump for about 3 weeks. Everything is looking good diabetes wise. XXOO
Thought I'd share one miracle during Chuck's final days. I know I've mentioned how "God went before me" in certain areas. Sometimes it just overwhelms me when I see the path...God's gentle, sweet preparations made for me.

Where to start...Friday night shortly following the administration of the milk of amnesia...nope...earlier that day at counseling. The following topics were covered: First, people seemed if God were separating me from support...few people visited me and Chuck...people simply were unavailable. Why? I needed to learn to turn to God FIRST. When I was in pain, scared, overwhelmed, I needed to turn to God to comfort me. Second, I still did not trust God. However, that was a work in progress. Third, since my mother's death, I had been afraid to live. (Truly, this was news to me. After all, who in the world is actually afraid to live?) I was afraid to enjoy life...because the second I relaxed and felt "safe," someone might die and devastate me once more. Thus, I was not living the life God wanted..."life in all its fullness." And how did one go about doing this? The exact way I survived my mother's moment at a time. I was to look at the sky and enjoy its beauty...I was to stay in the moment and note its joy.... I simply needed to stay in the moment. That was my stay in the moment and note life's wonders.

Now, jump ahead to 9:00 P.M. Dr. Figueroa (blessed doc) took me out of Chuck's room for the following conversation. "Chuck is fighting the vent. It's maxing out. He's getting 100% oxygen. There's really no place to go from here. We'll have to render him unconscious so that he will stop fighting the vent. Now, this is serious, Jan. This can easily go either way. The plan is to give him a rest." Most likely due to my blank stare, he kept gently emphasizing the seriousness of the situation. (Hey...he might die...are you getting this without me having to come right out and say it...because you don't look like you get it?)

Okay, so we go back into the room and get the milk of amnesia going. It was at that point that I tried to call Shea for prayer and support...granted, it was 11:00 at night. She was asleep in bed. Next, Mindy. She was away for a wedding and her cellular service was out of reach. (Enter, God's provision from earlier in the day....) I needed to trust God's provision for me...I needed to trust him period. (Much, much easier said than done). Okay, so peeps were unavailable. Where to turn, where to turn? I went to the chapel. I laid down on the floor...face to the carpet. I was scared. I was so very, very scared. I did not trust God, and did not know how to trust him. I cried my heart out and frantically repeated this portion of scripture over and over. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, trust in the Lord with all your heart, trust in the Lord with ALL YOUR HEART." The more I repeated it, the more I cried, the snottier my nose got...the louder I repeated "trust the Lord"...not even praying for trust...just desperately reaching out. My mind started to focus on ALL YOUR HEART. Then my mind drifted to my counseling session that day. GOD HAD PREPARED MY SESSION AND THE TOPICS OF DISCUSSION FOR THIS MOMENT...FOR THIS MOMENT OF SURRENDER. It suddenly made sense, I did trust him because he was trust worthy. Just look at how he had so tenderly prepared me for this. I knew right then and there...God could be trusted with Chuck. I did not need him to heal Chuck. I just needed God to hold me through whatever was ahead. (Note, I could not trust he came to me and showed himself trustworthy. Funny, only God can change a heart.)

After blowing my nose in the cloth covering the alter...can you believe there was no Kleenex in the chapel???...I went up to Chuck's room...fully trusting God...a brand new woman.
Please do not worry about my current state. I am OH SO GRATEFUL for it, and fully trust that God is easing me into this. When I wrote that I don't remember Chuck, that was an overstatement. I remember him. I remember marrying him. I remember events from this past year. But there is virtually no feeling attached to any of my memories. It's like it all happened to someone I read it in a story or something.

I trust God. I trust this. I am thankful for the temporary "insanity." It will all come back...when God thinks I'm ready.
God has graciously allowed me a time of "insanity" in order to get through this first part of grieving. Seriously, this is my experience: I do not remember my life before Aug. 20. Granted, I'm not digging too deep. It's almost as if I...whoever "I" am...because I'm not quite sure, came into existence last Monday. I have a lovely home...needs some fixin up. I have wonderful friends...who are all so sad about this "Chuck" fellow. I have great parents, Chuck and Mary. However, the last 13 years with my Chuck are gone. I do not remember being married to him...being madly in love with him; laughing with him; I certainly do not remember this past year in the hospital. God kindly took an eraser and wiped everything clean until he thinks I'm ready. That God! I know he will slowly bring me back to the world of the "sane". I am trusting him to release my memories gently.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Okay, I'm totally stealing material here. I've copied and pasted a post from my dear friend's blog. Janet is the one who introduced me to blogging! In any case, here is some priceless Chuck stuff that few of you may know:

Sunday, August 26, 2007
I always thought that I’d see you again*

My friend Jan married a guy named Chuck about 13 years ago, right after we graduated from college. I didn’t know him; he didn’t go to school with us. We didn’t take to each other right off, not that we were at odds, we just didn’t quite click. He wasn’t like other friends-in-law in that he never tried to win me over or make nice. Instead, when I would call Jan and he’d answer he’d ask me a question about myself, and then he’d drop the phone and walk away. I would be answering his question until I’d hear Jan laughing on the other end of the phone. This happened SEVERAL times. Finally, I wised up some and wouldn’t take his bait. His bait became more sophisticated and he’d ask a few questions and listen to the response and THEN drop the phone to walk away.

But despite that, or more likely because of that, we became friends. He was a hilarious person. When we’d get together Jan would sometimes yell at us to slow down because she couldn’t get a word in amongst our rapid fire banter. We were always competing to see who could make Jan laugh more. He would always win. We even had a joke about how Chuck and I didn’t like to be left alone together because we refused to laugh at each other; we had to have an audience.

In 2001, we both found ourselves unemployed. I was living in Denver when I lost my job, and I went into a bit of a shock. I needed to get out of Denver and think about what to do next. So I drove down to San Antonio to see Jan. During that time is when their home became a sanctuary for me. Chuck and I spent a lot of time together that week staying up late (Jan is not a night owl and besides, I think she had to keep going to work) watching movies and commiserating on our unemployment, which Chuck had quickly coined as “retirement.” He had some big defense built around the career of Michael Jordan, comparing ourselves to how he had retired, but then came out of retirement to play again. Our line was that we might come back out of retirement, as Jordan did, if the job seemed good enough and our fans demanded it.

So those are some of my Chuck stories and my Chuck stories aren’t even very good. He was like none other. I miss him already.

More about Chuck on Jan’s blog and better Chuck stories are at Fix up Chuck.

*From “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor
There are new pictures on the Fix Up Chuck site!! They are in the galleries pictures from the celebration.
My phone alarm went off early this morning and awoke me from deep sleep. My first thought: it's the hospital. Some thing's wrong with Chuck. My second thought: no, no, Chuck is just fine! My third thought: thank God I do not have to agonize over phone calls like that any more. My fourth thought: is that okay? (rhetorical question, of course)

Kyser and Celis started back to school this morning. We all went to school and met the we missed the orientation. Shea and Greg go over the kids' goals and passions before school begins. Kyser's passions = music and atheletics. Celis' passions = eating, watching TV, and swimming-but not the competitive kind...the kind in which you just hang out in the pool. Did this child spring from my loins??

My plans for the week are flexible. I may stay home the whole week, I may try some work. We'll see.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Currently I am riding waves of emotion. I have these beautiful moments of peace and joy...just so thrilled that Chuck is home, so glad to have rest myself. Then I have sudden onsets of sadness...accompanied by the type of weeping that wracks my whole body. I've had a few moments when I just couldn't breathe. Then, I have moments of numbness in which I wonder who this Chuck is that everyone is talking about. For the most part, I live in that blessed state of shock. Please pray as it wears thin and reality sets in.

My verse for the day and many days to come is: The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Letting go...

Concerning releasing Chuck, you may wish you had done something differently to help Chuck. Perhaps you wish you had visited more, helped more, encouraged more. All of those feelings tend to pop up at times like this. Please know, guilt and condemnation are not of God...they do not lead to life. Because those of us closest to Chuck feel these things most keenly, we gathered to release such feelings along with Chuck's ashes. However, many of you may need the same release. I can promise you this...Chuck's life was just as God ordained...from first to last breath. Already, I can see how God went before all of us in this journey...preparing us for Chuck's trip home. Everything was very carefully orchestrated and played out to perfection. Do I like it? Nah. I think it kinda sucks. Do it trust it? Absolutely. Do I KNOW beyond a shadow that it is the best? Yes.

Please check out the Fix Up Chuck website as Ross has posted the video clip from the memorial service. I will try to post it on my blog as well.
We released Chuck's ashes last night at Inspiration. It is the camp site that overlooks Lions Camp.

Many of you have "Chuck" sheets that you wanted to take home and complete. Nicole is making them into a book for me. If you would like to send the finished sheet to me, my address is 12218 Stable Knoll, San Antonio, TX 78249.

I get a daily Bible verse, and thought I'd share the ones sent during the last days of Chuck's life. That God...many times he just outdoes himself! You'll see what I mean:

Friday 8/17/2007
And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? Matthew 6:30, NLT

Saturday 8/18/2007
Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Isaiah 41:10, NLT

Sunday 8/19/2007
What is impossible for people is possible with God. Luke 18:27, NLT

Monday 8/20/2007
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.
Psalm 4:8, NLT

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I had so many people tell me last night, "Jan, you did such an amazing job organizing this event." Oh no...that was all done by our friends. You should have seen them this week working tirelessly to bring everything together. Truly, they carried my a loving response to our great loss. Wow, I am so touched just thinking of how Ross, Laura, Nicole, Tod, Mindy, Paul, Christie, Chris, Paul W (P Dub), Amber, and countless other helping hands created such a beautiful evening.

Speaking of creating a beautiful evening...God really outdid himself. The evening was PERFECT. Granted, when I arrived, everything was being set up in the dining hall due to possibility of rain. Talk about a prompting. I suddenly felt claustrophobic..."this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong." My final act of courage on Chuck's behalf was to throw caution to the wind. It HAD to be at the amphitheater...God would provide. Boy did he ever! Lovely weather, lovely sky, praise GOD!
Yesterday evening was perfection. I may not be able to detail it all for a while, but I wanted to include my FAVORITE part. Many of you know how Chuck felt about Lions Camp. He found himself there...he found his best friends there...he found me there. Camp was at the very heart and soul of Chuck.

Celis, our 8-year-old niece, had quite an emotional ride through last night's cremony. She cried and cried and cried. Celis, of all my nieces and nephews, reminds me the most of me. She lives in own imagination. You're not always sure just how much she gets due to her preference for flights of fancy. When the celebration was over, she took her mother aside and said, "I love this camp! I'm going to be a counselor here when I'm old enough."

I can think of no better tribute to Chuck.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

God put a song on my heart this morning...about 3 a.m...and I've been humming it ever since:

And with your final heart beat,
Kiss the world goodbye.
Go in peace and laugh on glory's side.

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I have been so touched by the outpouring of love. Just wanted to remind you of the casual affair tomorrow evening. By casual...I mean camp casual...which means if you show up in cutoffs and flip flops, you'll fit right in. Thanks to all the folks putting this celebration together. I am really looking forward to it.

I love you all!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just wanted to share a tiny bit about Chuck's passing. Many of us sat vigil over Chuck through the night. We started at 8:30. What a precious night. As the hours wore on, people found places in Chuck's room to doze and wait. My sweet sister, Shea, whispered to me in the wee hours Monday...envision this through God's eyes. That's just what I did...the thought of God lovingly waiting for Chuck, gently prodding him to come home and rest, gave me such strength. It made the event a joyous one for me...even through the sorrow of letting Chuck go, I was so happy to "walk him home." As the end neared, I truly felt like we were giving birth. Chuck was struggling to hang on, and I coached and encouraged him..."You're almost there baby. Keep going."

I will miss him every day until we see each other again. In the meantime, I am trusting God to bring me through the grieving process. I feel comforted to know that he will take me through each day. Now that Chuck's journey is over, please pray for my journey and the journey of my wonderful Picciuti family.
We will be celebrating Chuck's life Wednesday. Please see the Fix Up Chuck website for information. Know's a casual is only appropriate. Thanks so much for all the love you've been pouring on me and the family.
In leu of flowers, please send doations to:
Texas Lions Camp
Charis Hills
Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty. He's free at last!

You all would have been in awe of Chuck. Truly, I have never witnessed a battle like I saw this morning. Chuck is free. He's free of pain, disappointment, sadness. For the first time since the age of three, he's fully restored and healthy, praise God. Yes, he went home this morning about 6:30 a.m. I will be posting funeral arrangements once everything is finalized.

God was so very kind to me these past few days...sending the right people, doctors, and nurses to walk me through this. We had a so many people in Chuck's room; sharing stories, laughing, saying goodbye.

I praise God for his gentleness, his kindness, his goodness...and for taking my baby home.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chuck is fighting like hell...just so's you know. Granted, we don't want him fighting too hard, because he tends to battle the vent. In order to help him relax so that the vent can breathe for him, Chuck has been completely sedated. Remember the days of the milk of amnesia? The bless-ed white bottle o' peace is back.

Pray for Chuck's lungs. Pray they do not sustain damage during this time. Pray that they are super-naturally preserved and strengthened. Pray that Chuck's fungal infection clears. Pray that his j-tube site heals. Pray that while Chuck is sedated, God is whispering to him words of comfort and peace.
I am posting a devotional that a friend sent me. It says it all!

"It's Not About You"
by Chuck Swindoll

REF: 2Corinthians 12:2-10; Philippians 2:14-15

I need to underscore a foundational fact: God's goal is not to make sure you're happy. No matter how hard it is for you to believe this, it's time to do so. Life is not about your being comfortable and happy and successful and pain free. It's about becoming the man or woman God has called you to be. Unfortunately, we will rarely hear that message proclaimed today. All the more reason for me to say it again: Life is not about you! It's about God.

How can I say that with assurance? Because of Paul's response in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

That's it! He got it, too. And he went with it for the rest of his days. When you and I boast of our strengths, we get the credit, and we keep going under our own head of steam. But when we boast in what He is doing in the midst of our brokenness, inability, and inadequacy, Christ comes to the front. His strength comes to our rescue. He is honored.

Don't miss the point. The very things we dread and run from in our lives are precisely what brought contentment to Paul. Look at Paul's list: I am content when I lose. I am content when I am weak. I am content with insults. I am content when I am slandered. I am content in distresses. I am content with persecutions. I am content with difficulties and pressures that are so tight I can hardly turn around. Why? "Because when I am weak, then I am strong" (2Corinthians 12:10). Knowing that brought the apostle, ablaze with the flaming oracles of heaven, to his knees. What a way to live your life-content in everything-knowing that divine strength comes when human weakness is evident.

Paul recommends an attitude of unselfish humility. Quite remarkably, you never read where Paul said this to his Roman guard, while he was in prison: "I need you to do me a favor. Next time you happen to be near one of the Emperor's assistants, urge him to get me out of this dump. I shouldn't be here in the first place. I've been here for one year, seven months, four days, five hours, and nine minutes, and that's long enough." Paul's attitude of unselfish humility prevented him from keeping meticulous records of the wrongs done to him in Rome, or anywhere else for that matter. He was in prison by divine appointment. He willingly submitted to his situation.

Christ modeled the great emptying-out principle that permeated Paul's remarkable life. If we want to learn contentment, developing an attitude of unselfish humility is the perfect place to begin. Start with your family or neighbors. Model it before your employees or clients. You won't believe the impact that sort of selfless mental attitude will have on the people. You won't have to raise flags or pass out tracts. Just demonstrate an attitude of unselfish humility. The results will amaze you.

Paul exhorts believers to have an attitude of joyful acceptance. Paul minced no words about how believers should relate to one another. "Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14-15). He sought an attitude of joyful acceptance, free of petty disputes and bickering. He pled for authentic joy. Nothing is more contagious!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Okay, I have been caught red-handed trying to control Chuck's situation...AGAIN. I was reminded today that Chuck's death was determined long before he drew his first breath. Further, I cannot prolong his life...but neither can I hasten his death...which is a huge load off. Yes, I mistakenly think I have the power over Chuck's life and death in my very hands. I was also reminded that before I put my trust in kind folks to come up and "save" Chuck, I need to put my trust in God.

I continue to struggle with that. I still doubt that he truly has our best interest at heart; that he would never hurt us or allow us to go through senseless pain. I do not trust what I cannot see...lack o' faith right there. I was just telling someone the other day, "Well, it's not faith unless you have to jump blindly forward. Otherwise, it's just doing what makes sense." Alas, "common sense" is the foolishness of the flesh...or something like that.

I remember clinging to Provers 3:5-6 at one point in this journey. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path." When I first saw hardware sticking out of his back; when Chuck swelled up so big that his eyeballs were protruding; when his kidneys stopped putting out fluid, I remember soothing myself, "Jan, no matter what you see, no matter how scary this looks, do not trust it. Do not trust what logically follows this course. Trust in the Lord. He is not bound by what makes sense to you. Whatever happens, we will be safe."

So, everyone can take a deep breath. You do not need to learn the ins and outs of Chuck's care. However, if the spirit moves you, you can stop by to bring me a Sprite Zero.
Chuck's breathing issues seem to be under control. Funny enough, one cause of oxygen deprivation was the position of his head. This morning the doctor put a scope down his tache and met resitance. Because the trache is curved and Chuck was leaning too far forward, the end of the trache was hitting the wall of his trachea and little air was able to pass through.

He can respond, but is very listless today. Granted, he is being heavily sedated.

Wounds look okay.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yowza! First of all, Chuck is okay. He had a close call today. Good grief, the man is trying his darnedest to give me grey hair...he doesn't seem to think it's fair that he has so many while I have none...SO FAR.

As I've mentioned before, this has been a rough week. However today was a topper. His carbon dioxide level was dangerously high; he became acidotic...which is quite dangerous. For most of the day, he was unresponsive. They replaced his trache as the former one leaked, and increased his vent setting from 4 to 20. Almost immediately, Chuck began to respond. Had Stacie not been there to "prod" them to up the vent setting, who knows when they would have figured it out? Would they have figured it out before I showed up at 4:30? Sadly, probably not.

How does this happen? How can he go downhill so fast? How does he get so ill before action is taken? I am sad to report, the difference is the presence of someone to keep the staff on their toes. The chaplain filled me in on a fact that I did not realize...Chuck intimidates some of the staff. No not with his bold presence and sharp wit, but with his complexity. He is not the typical I.C.U. patient. The "new" staff does not know all the ins and out of his care. They do not understand his bed nor how it works. They don't understand how to lift him; how to turn him; what levels to watch out for. They don't know that he MUST have pressure support on the vent; that his red blood cell count drops about once a month and must be monitored regularly; etc. So, what's a girl to do? It may be time again for volunteers to help keep watch. I can teach you the basics. The main thing is having a voice and a body present for Chuck. Any takers? I would greatly appreciate any support you can give.
I am hoping to have something new to share later this afternoon. Yesterday Chuck seemed just the tiniest bit better. Alas, things are pretty yucky right now. Though he is receiving waaaaaaaaay too much happy juice, I am thankful that he is sleeping through most of this. Hopefully he will not remember how miserable this has been.

Let's see...his fever is back down to 100 and has pretty much stayed there. The infectious disease doc has not made it by to visit. The hole is still gaping and fluids are still pouring out of it.

In all of this, God has been sending mercifuly blessings. Thanks for the encouragement so many of you have given. Thanks for the prayers that so many of you have offered.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Whew! Talked to the gastro guy and things are not nearly so scary as the Internet made them out to be. All that has happened is that Chuck's feeding tube hole got too big. The "fistula" was man-made indeed. A feeding tube is quite small. So small that the "hole" heals within a day of being removed. Chuck's opening has gotten so big, that everything he eats comes out of the opening. As you might have guessed, eating food is out of the question for at least two weeks. Chuck is PISSED. He'll get most of his nutrition through the T.P.N. He's on a clear liquid diet again. Reminder...clear liquid means anything you can read a newspaper through (jello, apple juice, weak tea, broth). Nonetheless, he's fit to be tied.

As for the move back, we're still waiting on a bed.

Final bit o' info, an infectious disease doc has been called in. Trying to chase down the high fever...where is it coming from? Pray for freedom from infection.
Chuck is feeling really bad. Poor thing. When he opens his eyes and sees me, he starts to cry. It breaks my heart to see him so miserable! What ya gonna do? Currently, he has a temp of 102....

I have been researching "fistula," which is Chuck's current issue. I've been reading everything I can on it, but still don't understand the whole issue (no pun intended). It's a tunnel created outside of the digestive tract...emptying contents where they have no sense being! I put a call in to the gastro doc this morning, but have not heard back from him yet. Since he has not been in to see Chuck today, I'm hoping he'll come while I'm here. My uneducated understanding is that Chuck is draining bile, food particles, etc into the cavity outside of his stomach and intestines. Now, as we all know, the food is supposed to travel from the stomach to the intestines...not from the stomach to some cavity...which later pours out of a "man-made-hole." I reckon this is kinda good as the man-made-hole leads to Chuck's small something's getting to the intestine. It's just not staying in the intestine! Are you thoroughly confused? Hopefully the doctor can straighted all this out for me. In the meantime, Chuck is miserable. He's even having pain in his stomach...miraculous as he has very limited feeling below his upper chest.
On the way to work I heard an excellent sermon on "The Conviction to Forgive." Don't know about you, but I tend to harbor resentments. Then I become bitter, angry, and quite "short." Little did I realize that that is a willful act. I thought it was just something that happened...a result of feeling hurt or wronged. Unforgiveness is not an emotion...though it carries a boat-load of the stuff. It is an act of the will. Someone does something that hurts you, and boy do they owe you. If you're like me, the payment is often QUITE steep. I add daily interest. Thus, I hold onto the "bill" for a veeeery long time, storing up for payment day. In the time being, my soul is corrupted with anger and resentment...all of which fuels my fire for vindication! The payment thing is part of God's economy. Payment is due for wrong done. However, we are called to forgive others as God forgives us (which is quite lavishly). "All forgiveness is," is the release of payment due. "Yep, you hurt me. Yep, you owe me. I'm releasing you of your obligation." Easier said than done, but the lesson framed forgiveness in a way I can understand.

Now...forgiveness is divine...the actual workings within the spirit that brings peace. Of course, faith without works is dead. Thus the work of letting go, willfully closing the account...and believing that the feelings will follow.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chuck is still at main Methodist as there is no "bed," or "slot" for him at Life Care. As we wait, there are some dietary issues. The opening for Chuck's feeding tube is quite large and may eventually need a surgical "closing." For now, wound care is in charge of the hopes that it will close on its own. (Prayer request!!) Because a great deal of his nutrition is pouring out of the feeding tube "hole", the doctor is starting Chuck on T.P.N. (intravenous nutrition). In addition, due to the anxiety created by the poor breathing yesterday, Chuck's drug administration is way outta whack. The man is totally out of it. While it's a nice "vacation" for him, I worry. He's funny, as he still tries to "fake" like he's totally alert....Good try, but he's gooooone.

Okay, pray for room at the inn; for his feeding wound to close; and for him to get the nourishment he needs to keep healing.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

This has been a rough and glorious day. Chuck had a hard, hard, hard morning and noon. His pressure support had been turned off. (This has to do with his vent setting. He needs pressure support.) Of course, we did not figure this out until 3:00. In any case, he could not breathe well, and as you can well imagine, he was having fits of anxiety. Blessedly, Tod was here early in the morning. I popped in briefly, sent Tod home, and prayed over spiritual attack. Unfortunately, the pieces of the puzzle were still scrambled and all I could see was anxiety attack. Chuck calmed, went to sleep, and I left for church. Blessedly, Stacie arrived soon after. Thank God for Stacie. She is an angel sent straight from heaven. Poor thing rode out the roughest part of the day with Chuck. Midway through the shaking, puking, writhing, anxiety-ridden escapades, John Condit popped in.

Sometimes I'm very sloooooow to see a blessing staring me straight in the face. Yesterday, I prayed SPECIFICALLY for a "Godly" man to come to Chuck. If Mohamed cannot go to the mountain....John Condit, a dearly loved friend from our home church, spent the day here with me and Chuck. He told me that during prayer time at church, he does his own thing....has his own prayer agenda. Chuck kept popping into his mind...thus he said, "Alright God, I'm going!"

Okay, so I don't get it at first. I didn't get that yesterday, in despair, I cried to God..."Look, YOU have got to bring someone. YOU have got to bring just the right person." Sure enough, God called John. Can you believe that I missed that? Seriously, John told me about Chuck coming to his mind over and over again during prayer. He told me that he knew he needed to come visit. And about 10 minutes later...I got it. "Hey!!!!! John, you are the answer to prayer!"

When I was telling John about my prayer, he cringed at the "Godly" man reference. "And you got me???" was his self-deprecating answer.

For all those of you who love Chuck and are able, please come visit. Your presence will let him know that you care. I know we all want to do more; to do something to ease his suffering. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is let him know you are pulling for him; that you believe in him; that you know this is tough but he'll make it through. Knowing that you care will mean so much. Pop in for a quick hi, a hand squeeze. Stay for a chat. Put your hand on him and pray. Sometimes I pray out loud, but often I just put my hand on him and silently pray over him. Oh, now that he's returned to his former junk-food-junkie-ways, you can bring a snack! Some days are better than others, and you can let that be your guide as far as how long you stay. Some days he's feels great and enjoys talking; some days he's weak and wants to sleep; some days he's axious and wants you to get the nurse; some days he's cranky and wants you to leave him alone. But he's our Chuck, and we all love him.

Friday, August 10, 2007

p.s. He's in room 721 of the surgical I.C.U. of the main Methodist facility. He will most likely be here until Monday. Now that he's here, there are no open beds at Life Care! How funny is that?
Praise God, praise God, praise God. Did he ever come through BIG time! Okay, so I'm prepared to come back to toil and trouble...another valley time. No. No. Not at all. I come back to a man who is eating like crazy and NO LONGER REQUIRES A FEEDING TUBE! Apparently the tube has been causing problems...probably ever since the site of the tube started leaking back in March. The deal with the "output" mentioned earlier is that his tube site (small intestine...where the feeding tube was inserted) was leaking all of his nutrition right out of his body. Since he's eating like crazy, the doctor pulled the let it HEAL AND CLOSE. How amazing? How amazing! I'm in awe and oh so grateful.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I believe I have neglected to mention that Chuck's feeding tube has sprung a leak. It happened Monday night and the plan was to replace the tube (at the main Methodist hospital) whilst I was away. Blessedly, Chuck's appetite has been quite healthy. He's had a few bouts of nausea, but nothing too serious. Because he has been eating so well, the doctor postponed the procedure until Monday...then a discovery was made. (In the hospital they measure EVERYTHING...Chuck's "input" as well as his "output.") Though he's been eating well, his "output" is waaaaaaaay greater than his input. This basically means that he is not getting the nutrition he needs. Thus, the decision to move the man to Methodist a.s.a.p. Further, rather than doing the procedure lickety split, they've wisely decided to move cautiously. To avoid frequent vent changes which wear him out (ambulance to hospital to ambulance to hospital), the team has opted to send Chuck to Methodist; let him recover; do the procedure; let him recover; then move him back.

He and Dad have this one covered. I'll post his new location once I know it. I'll be returning home tomorrow evening. Please pray for traveling mercies (for Chuck and for me!)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Today our nephew, Matthew, is the big ONE. He has brought everyone so much joy!

Monday, August 06, 2007

I will be in Florida for the rest of the week. Chuck's dad has come to keep him company, play games, talk poker...guy stuff.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Chuck and I are doing well. You would not believe how well his wounds are doing. I fully expect the wound on his bum and the one under his right shoulder to resolve within two months. His increased appetite and decreased nausea have made such a difference. Praise God!!

We had the most amazing gift this week. Chuck needs new glasses. It's hard to read 1) the closed captions on the the TV and 2) options on the screen for his X-box games. (Books schmooks.) I can't remember if I've detailed this drama for you or not. In any case, opthomologists do not make hospital visits. In order for Chuck to get a new prescription, he would have to go to a doctor's office for a visit. Can you imagine?? Once again, God had gone before us and put just the right person in our lives. I went through a Bible study program 5 years ago with a group of "girls." One of the girls is sweet Bethany. She introduced me and Chuck to her husband, Matt. Guess what Matt does for a living?? Yep, he's an opthomologist. This week he hauled up his gear and examined Chuck's eyes. Matt and I held up that big black thingy that you look through with the dials and the doctor asks, "One or two...two or three...?" By the end of holding that thing up, my arms were shaking! Nonetheless, Matt finished his exam and Chuck's new glasses are being made as I write this. By Tuesday, watch out. He'll be king of the X-box once more.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

For all my tree-hugging friends, I recently heard an analogy concerning relationships and the parts of a tree. This analogy is nothing new, but for some reason it really resonates in my soul. God selects certain people to be in our lives at certain times. He brings people in and out, according to his plan.

There are three types of relationships. Some people, MOST people in the world, are leaves. Their only purpose is to shift when the wind changes and provide shade. When the seasons change, they die and fall off...just like the leaves on a tree. So when the seasons of my life change, the leaf relationships will fall off. I must stop trying to hold on to them. Easier said than done! I crave permanency and want everyone to stay, stay, stay. I try to gather the leaves and press them in the pages of books. I want to hold on to everyone and everything. Oddly, the most comforting part of this analogy is the realization that my precious mom was a leaf. That was her intended role. God chose my mom to be a leaf...not just for me, but for many: for Kelli and Shea, for my dad, for her mom, for her sisters. While fleeting, clearly leaves are precious.

Then there are the branches. These are the tricky relationships. It's not until I step out onto a branch that I realize it is too weak to bear my weight...nay, that it is not meant to bear my weight. Yep, branches break if I treat them like roots. That's what they do. Me being me, I am disappointed to discover a branch in the guise of a root. Stupid branches! (Issues? Flashback to a scene in "Sixteen Candles" in which the parents are trying to get their son to go to a dance. He desperately whines, "But I want to stay with you guys!") I want everyone to be a ROOT. The trick is to accept a branch's role. Again, God selects our branches. They are constant so long as I treat them properly. They are good for holding bird feeders and wind chimes. They bring joy and beauty. They are there to share in the pleasures of my life.

And now for the most coveted position; the root. (Clearly, I have a root issue.) Root relationships aren’t going anywhere. Now think about it; a tree has thousands of leaves and hundreds of branches, but it may only have two or three strong roots. In thinking of my roots, I am overwhelmed with the beauty of God's plan. Chuck and Mary Picciuti are two of my roots. Imagine that. They did not raise me. They did not even know me until my early 20's. When God planned for Hester (mom) to be a leaf in my life, he also planned for Mary (mom) and Chuck (dad) to be my roots.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Chuck is doing well. Wounds are knitting, mood is lifting, and vent setting is decreasing. He's down to 4 now. This weekend he wants to do some trache trials. That's about it...nice and uneventful. Oh, he does have a new infection. It's in his new PICC line. Hopefully he'll kick it quickly.