As I write this my hands are shaking, my soul is crying, and there is a huge hole in my heart: We have just had to commit Diane to the “Behavioral Health” unit (the psych unit) at Auburn General Hospital. This is the hardest thing that I have ever had to do, and I can only pray that somehow God will use these professionals to help Diane to return to Diane. There is virtually nothing about Diane right now that is the Diane that I have known and loved for so long.
She is there against her will so that too is very hard. She considers herself healed, but all of her behavior is shouting out that psychologically she is very broken and hurting. She has become aggressively hostile, even to the medical staff, but all that we see in Diane, we as her family know it is not her.
Right now, all I can do is pray: “Lord have mercy.” If you can pray more, please do.
Today Diane, Andrew and I met with Dr Xu, Diane’s radiation doctor. Diane will be on 1/2 mg of her steroid drug for one more week, but she will continue on with her mood stabalizer for a while. Dr. Xu is addiment that a psychiatrist moderates her drugs and meets with her, but we are having a very difficult time finding one that will take her.
Diane is sleeping better (good), eating less (bad), not as manic (good), still has a very hard time sitting still (bad). The doctor has told us that she is not to go out to social things in which she becomes over stimulated so she will not even be going to worship for a while. At first she did not like that, but very quickly accepted it. We are having friends stay with her when one of us in the family is not here.
Navigating such a difficult journey also carries its challenges between Diane and I. No one likes to be told what to do, and I’m good at taking on that role, and Diane is good at resisting. Diane definitely has her thoughts about what she can and cannot do, so somehow we have to deal with all those differences. All this is part of the journey.
Diane was willing to give it all up: a large, spacious room, a bed that was able to elevate, a private TV, meals served in bed, and “servants” who came at the push of a button. She gave all that up to come home late Monday afternoon. In order to continue to moderate the side effects of the steroids, Diane is now taking a mood stabilizer and a sleeping aid. Hopefully all of this will help the hyper activity.
This morning I read, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Ps. 34:4) He did not say that he delivered me from all my troubles, but from the fears that accompany the trouble. Praise God for being our “Fear-Remover.”
How do I write about the last twenty-four plus hours? Early Friday evening Diane and I headed north to our family and friends in my previous congregation in Whatcom County. We were to stay with our friends Tim and Michelle, but life took another turn. We are not certain of the reason, but Diane’s mind had had enough. Whether it was because of the quick decrease in steroids or something else, she was no longer able to continue her long litany of stories. This morning about 1:30 a.m. we finally got Diane into the ER in Bellingham and ultimately she was transported to Auburn General Hospital where she is now. She will be in the hospital for a few days in order to give her rest and to deal with the steroid issues and its side effects. BECAUSE DIANE NEEDS REST WE ASK THAT SHE NOT HAVE VISITORS AT THIS TIME.
This is a journey that I did not ever image as we started traveling the cancer road, but it is the road before us and I am sure that we are not traveling it alone. God is present with us and so are so many family and friends. Without them I would be lost.
Let me tell you about last night: Finally the day ended with Diane totally exhausted, after days of super, hyper activity and little sleep. Because of her cough, Diane slept in an easy chair in her mother’s old room and I slept next to her in the bed. She immediately went to sleep, but often woke up because of coughing. Finally at about 1:30 a.m. I prayed that the cough would subside and that both of us would be able to sleep. We both then went to sleep for the rest of the night. PTL.
Diane was up at 5:30 a.m., that’s a lot better than the 3:30 a.m. that had done in previous days, and I was up before 6 a.m. Immediately I knew that there was a change in Diane. She was “softer,” quieter, more at easy. She was no longer manic. The doctor’s answer had been to put her on mood stabilizers, and to that we said “NO.” Instead God used the reduction in steroids to even her out. She is still a little hyper, but not in the manic state that she was in.
For a while I was petrified that I might not “get Diane back.” But God continues to journey with us. Tomorrow is her last day of radiation, and gradually she will come off the steroids completely. Now we watch for and pray about the side effects of the oral chemo. The journey continues and God goes with us and beside us.
In an effort to deal with Diane’s manic condition, the hyper activity, Dr. Xu is now reducing the steroids to one mg a day for Tuesday and Wednesday and then it will be cut in half again on Thursday. They are also going to reduce the number of full brain radiation therapies by one so she will be done with all the radiation this Thursday. The hyper activity is not good for Diane’s body, but it is the way that she has reacted to the steroids. It also means that the family has had to be super vigilant with her. Hopefully Diane will not have negative reactions to the decrease of steroids.
In some ways this is a critical time so please be in prayer for this decrease in the use of meds.
The days have been so very full. Yesterday was Mom Hazelle’s memorial service at Prince of Peace Lutheran in SeaTac. It was a celebration of a life well lived in service to others. Diane and Andrew even sang a duet! It was a tremendous blessing. There were at least 25 people at our home afterward and that too was a blessing. How can we thank all the Grace people for their help in providing food. All the sandwich makings were eaten up last night!
There were so many stories told, but one that was told during the reception I need to pass on. A little over four years ago, Hazelle came to Mexico while we lived in Mazatlan. It was the wedding of Peter and Paulie and for part of the time she stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast with all of Peter and Paulie’s young friends. Hazelle was the roommate of a thirty-something year old Aggie. One morning Aggie woke up and there was Hazelle on the floor. Aggie was afraid that Hazelle was dead! No, she was not dead; she was doing her daily full-body push-ups, ten of them. Hazelle was ninety-three years old at the time!
On to more serious things: Today Andrew, Diane and I met with Diane’s radiation doctor, Dr. Xu. For Diane, everything is going perfect, but the entire family is super concerned about the fact that Diane has been living on a hyper-manic state for approaching a week. She has super-human energy, not getting very much sleep at night and in the mean time she is not giving her body rest at all. On top of all that, she is wearing the rest of us out! Dr. Xu is also concerned so she is further decreasing the steroids that she is taking. Hopefully that will begin to make a difference.
Today was the first day for Diane’s oral chemo medication. No going to the hospital everyday. Just a pill at home! How easy can that be! Well, time will tell???
By the way, anyone want handfuls of beautiful grey hair? Diane is depositing them everywhere she goes. Yes, her hair is now falling out. How is she taking it? Like everything else, totally in stride!! She is thankful that she has so much hair to give away and who knows, maybe it will come back RED AND CURLY!?
Today we met with Dr. Dennie, Diane’s oncologist, as well as her eighth radiation treatment. All continues to go well. Starting last Friday she began to have thrush in her throat, and she was not able to get medication until today, but she prayed and the rest of the weekend she was not bothered by it at all. She still has a little so she will begin seven days of medication for what remains.
All the processes with Terceva have been finalized so she will begin oral chemo very shortly.
Tomorrow family members begin to arrive in anticipation for her mother’s memorial service on Wednesday. Diane is extremely excited about that service. It will be a celebration of a life well lived and full of grace.
Right now it is about 8:45 p.m.. Diane has been up and busy since 3:30 a.m. this morning. She is not concerned about it, but I am. Pray that she has the energy that she needs for the service on Wednesday.
On Friday’s after Diane’s radiation treatment, we meet with Dr Xu, Diane’s radiation doctor. Things continue to go well with very few side effects, although she is developing thrush in her throat so we are praying for healing in that area.
Tonight we met with a prayer group connected with World Mission Prayer League, the mission group we served with while we were in Mexico. This was a very powerful time of prayer with retired missionary Milt Larson in a quiet voice repeatedly saying “We should not stop praying for Diane. We need to pray more.” Diane and I have both sensed that God is doing something unique and special through this cancer onslaught, and we believe that prayer is definitely part of what God is further developing in all of us.
The days have been full for Diane and now by 9 p.m. she is sound asleep upstairs. Diane has had so much energy during the last number of days. She has been doing a lot to prepare for her mother’s memorial service at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in SeaTac on Wednesday, July 10th at 1:30 p.m. This has been a tremendous time of reminiscing and treasuring the times that she had with her mother.
Diane has felt good and has had virtually no side affects from the radiation therapy, except perhaps for being hyper from the steroids that she has to take. She has now completed one week with one more week to go on her lower spine and two weeks on her brain.