Wednesday, May 19, 2021

My covid Journey — It's a Long, Long Road


 The past weeks of covid Recovery have been hard. 
Shame on me for not coming to you for prayer.
 I was hiding behind the lilac bush
 (which I can not smell, btw), 
too disappointed, 
too sad, 
too tired 
to share the latest test results. 

Forgive me.
 I will hide no more. 
Your prayers lift me up, 
fill me, 
encourage me, and
keep satan from winning the war for my health 
(spiritual and physical). 

Test Result No. 1:
I have no antibodies to protect me from contracting covid again.

A few weeks ago I was so excited I couldn't sleep.
 Free, at last!
 Two weeks after my second vaccine shot, 
 I was released into my wonderful world of 
family, 
friends, 
church, 
speaking events! 
Woo Hoo!!!

Before I could get out the door, 
the e-mail came.
 Research found that people with cll
 (chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which is cancer of the immune system)
 may not be protected by any of the vaccines. 
What? 
I cried. 
I stayed home.

My doctor scheduled a blood test to determine if I did indeed have antibodies.
 Nope! 
Negative!
 Nada!
 Nil! 
Not a one!!!
 No antibodies found after having severe covid, 
receiving convalescent, 
and the vaccine. 

Crushed. 
My heart couldn't hold the tears spilling over my cheeks. 
My dear doctor assured me this test was not conclusive.
 But there is no sure test at this time for cll patients. 

So, I wait.
Travelling down a long, long road.
Each day I walk, read, pray, 
and breathe.

Thankful that 
the God of Hope does indeed fill me with 
all joy and peace as 
I trust in Him.
(Romans 15:13)

Good news!
Researchers are hopeful a booster shot will be available soon for people with immune deficiencies.
 
Please note: The lack of vaccine efficacy applies only to cll patients and those with immune deficiencies. Please contact your doctor regarding your own vaccine effectiveness. 



Test Result No. 2:
I still need supplemental oxygen.

Forty percent of my lungs are damaged from covid.
 Miraculous, but 
 I have not needed supplemental oxygen during the day for many months.
You are all good prayers!!!
We have a God Who heals and He heals me!

I've walked from London to Paris (according to my step tracker),
I mow an acre of grass every week.
Two hour bike rides are the norm.
Life is great!
I abound with energy and enthusiasm.

But, while sleeping 
my oxygen level falls to 76
(normal O2 is 88 while sleeping, 94 while awake).
 Bummer. 
In the hospital I named my oxygen tube "Husband." 
The oxygen tube was warm and cozy and had to stay next to me
 — just like a husband. 

Well, phooey!
My real husband warms me much better, so
please pray I can breathe at night and
rid our marriage bed and my lungs of this incumbrance.

Always thanking God for your prayers for me.
God sent forth an army to restore life.
Thank you.
Thanking God that He breathed into my nostrils the breath of life!
Hallelujah!
I will forever praise Him!

"God formed man of dust from the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life"
(Genesis 2:7)




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Saturday, May 8, 2021

When a Mother's Nest is Empty — A Page From My Journal, March 29, 2008




My three little birdies the day my nest was empty.

When the last child leaves, there is definitely an adjustment. The house is quiet, activity stands still,  practical jokes cease (although I don't miss finding dog food in the Flutie Flakes), and three fewer voices break out in laughter making mom laugh too, filling my heart with joy. I loved being the mother to these three sweet and funny clowns. Thank You God for the laughter and fun and for entrusting me with such precious gifts.

Empty nest hurts. 
There is grief and loss. 

The pain of empty nest is much more than the fact that I miss my children. It is the knowledge that I  am releasing my little ones, now grown big, into a world that is harsh. Life is cruel. My babies, my children, my teens I protected so well, are so soon thrown into the hard realities of adulthood. Mom's and Dad's protection will no longer be enough.

When we see — helplessly watch — our grown children go through difficulties because they make the same mistakes we made or because they are standing strong and living a righteous life in an  unrighteous world —  a mother's heart tears apart as she feels the fiercest enemy is delivering fatal blows.

It is then and it is now,
 we must give them back to God — 
again and again. 

Because moms are human, we all fail. We neglect to give them enough responsibility. There wasn't enough time to teach all about finances and marriage and raising children, and how to survive in a world whose goal seems to be their destruction. The heaviness of letting go is too much to carry. The Good News is we don't have to carry that burden because . . . 

We have a God whose nest is never empty. 
He doesn't let them go. 
 Jesus never fails.
 He is the only perfect parent.
 
He carries and cares for our children and 
their children, and
their children.
He watches over them,
protects them,
loves them,
 draws them to Himself
always,
forever. 

Come to Jesus — 
Give our children to Jesus. 
He is our only source of sweet rest,
peace, and
joy.

"Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened, and
I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because 
He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

"Praise be to the Lord,
to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens."
Psalm 68:19

Have a blessed Mother's Day!

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Friday, April 16, 2021

My covid/cancer Journey — "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" ~ Yogi Berra


Like a baseball punch in the gut, 
the pain hit me as I read Sunday morning's e-mail, 

"Blood Cancer Patients are at High Risk of COVID-19 Vaccine Failure."

 For the first time in over thirteen months,
  I was going to church.
The excitement overtook me. 
I thought I would cry with joy. 

How I miss my friends, singing together, being in God's House, 
all of the preciousness of being a member of the family of God. 

A quick check of my e-mail brought the headline news.
 Although vaccinated and my four doctors saying
  I was safe to re-enter society, 
that Sunday's research revealed
the vaccine fails on the majority of blood cancer patients.

 For one of the few times on this journey,
 I cried. 
My tears of joy at returning to church 
turned to tears of sorrow.

A call to my doctor resulted in an appointment for an antibody test. 
In two weeks, I'll learn if I have immunity from covid-19 or not.  

The struggle is real. 
Pride had set in. 
I've been so strong. 
"You have the best attitude!" is repeated by many. 
Aren't I amazing! 
One person said, 
"You've been raised from the dead, twice!" 
Once with cancer and again with severe covid-19. 

This day I didn't feel strong, amazing, or having the best attitude. 
Instead of being raised from the dead,
I felt buried again.

What does a person do when 
filled with hope and 
wiped of hope simultaneously?
 I turned to God,
 prayed, 
pleaded,
 asked to understand why I was hit with another hurtle. 

God was silent.
Hmmm.
 Was He silent, or 
did I just not hear Him? 

Weakness of spirit became 
strength of spirit as 
 I once again surrendered my life, 
or my death, 
into the will of God. 

Then He arrived.
(Actually, He never left. I know that and you do too.) 

Jesus brought the disciples to my mind.
 How exciting to live life with Jesus, 
to eye-witness the miracles, 
to know His love day in and day out and 
have no doubts that Jesus is 
the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
 He can and will do anything that pleases Him.

What shock to see all their dreams shattered
 — like a punch in the stomach — 
watching Him crucified, dead, and buried. 
No more miracles.
No more hope.
Love is dead. 

But Hallelujah!
 Jesus rose from the dead. 
He's alive!!! 
Tears of sorrow turn to tears of joy! 

Because friends, 
"It ain't over 'til it's over."

God reminded me of Jesus's words to Simon Peter after the resurrection:

 " . . . do you truly love me . . . .
 do you truly love me? . . . .
 do you love me? . . . . 
Do you love me? . . . . 
Follow me!" 
(Matthew 21:15-19)

Four times He asked Peter. 
And He now asks me and you
(please insert your name):

Elaine, do you truly love me? 
Elaine, do you truly love me? 
Elaine, do you love me? 
Elaine, do you love me?
 Elaine, follow me?

Yes, Lord. 
Yes, Lord. 
Yes, Lord. 
Yes, Lord. 
I will follow You and
 I trust You because 
no one knows it better than You, Lord, that

 "it ain't over 'til it's over." 
Hallelujah!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

My covid Journey — The Best Year of My Life

What a mixed-bag of emotions!

"You won't get covid again. 
If you do, it won't be severe. 
You are free! 
Go to church, 
go to the store, 
restaurants,
 travel, 
go anywhere and everywhere!"

My heart skipped higher than my feet sailing out of Roswell Cancer Center yesterday.

After 13 months of isolation,
 I was free!

We celebrated with in-restaurant dining.
Good, but not as good as Dan's cooking.

My glee!

Giddy at the prospects of where I would go first:

Family
Friends
Church
Mani/pedi
Walmart
 
The list was endless. 
So much missed in 13 months.

My mind became cluttered quickly.

Slow down, Elaine, 
you still have 40 percent of your lungs damaged. 
Ease into, 
don't jump into,
 life as you once lived.

This morning, I woke to our slow-paced, covid-pandemic lifestyle.
Coffee and breakfast together.
Talking, waking up, talking some more,
Reading our devotional book, our Bibles and praying together.
Slow, no schedule, relaxed.

Thankful, I realized this year was a gift to us.

Together. 
This is the year life stopped and we found each other.
Without the pandemic, I may never have noticed Dan's love in action.

We cooked, 
 talked, 
played games, 
 laughed,
healed, 
 loved.

Like a year-long honeymoon, 
our love deepened, 
our communication understood. 

Soon, I realized this was more than our love story.
God revealed His love story for us.
Sick with covid, 
we had no choice but to 
stop and 
surrender
our lives and 
our dreams to
 our Savior. 

We fell at His feet and realized our utter dependence upon Jesus.

Nothing else mattered.
Not family,
friends,
church,
mani/pedi,
or Walmart

Only Jesus and
Jesus was enough. 

A life surrendered to Jesus is always the best year of one's life.


"And we know that God causes everything to work together 
for the good of those 
who love God and
 are called according to His purpose for them." 
Romans 8:28



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Thursday, April 1, 2021

My covid Journey — Practical Tips to Hurry and Help your covid Recovery.

Diagnosed on October 9, 2020. Hospitalized on October 30. Nearly a month later (one week in ICU), I returned home with 24/7 supplemental oxygen. There began a painful and long journey to health. Six months later I have sixty percent lung capacity and need supplemental oxygen only when I sleep. I am well and active, but lose my breath quickly. Doctors are hopeful in six more months I will have full use of my lungs and need no supplemental oxygen. 

I have not reached the end of my covid journey. My prayer is you will reach the end of yours in a positive light, or perhaps never take a step on the covid path. 

I am not a medical professional. The tips I give were all given to me by my good doctors. There were things I wish I had known before I got covid which could have helped me on my journey. I now share them with you.

1. Meditate. 

Sing! Singing opens up your lungs and soothes your soul. Relieving stress aids recovery, so sing out to God, draw close to Him, and let the Divine Physician do His Work. Keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus keeps satan out of your thought life. 

I will sing of the Lord's great love forever;
 with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
 through all generations."
 Psalm 89:1

2. Pray! 

My covid prognosis was grim. The percentage of leukemia patients surviving a covid hospitalization is small. The Lord sent an army of prayers from around the world to intercede on my behalf. Those prayers, God, and medical care saved me from death. Please let people know you need prayer. When sick people hide their disease, no one can pray for them because people who pray just don't know you are ill. I announced all over social media that I needed prayer, and the Lord's Army was released to save me.

"In the days of his flesh, 
Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, 
with loud cries and tears, 
to Him who was able to save Him from death, and 
He was heard because of His reverence."
Hebrews 5:7

3. "Don't get ahead of yourself."

 These wise words came from my husband when I was diagnosed with leukemia. Take this sickness one day at a time. Don't let satan convince you of something that may never happen. Worry will not help you recover. Worry keeps you sick. Prone in bed for weeks on end gives our minds too much time to contemplate the worst. Don't go there. When tempted to think bad thoughts, sing to the Lord instead. And pray, of course!

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Matthew 6:34

4. Purchase an oximeter. 

An oximeter measures the oxygen in our blood. The well-person's oxygen level is 89 to 100 with the average being 94. Below 88, please call your doctor. If you measure 88, but the number quickly returns to the 90's, don't be concerned. As long as you enter the 90's quickly, you are fine. To use an oximeter, place your finger gently inside. Don't press down. The oximeter should be on a stable surface, like a table, to get an accurate reading. Keep checking the oximeter throughout the day as long as you are not well. 

"Behold, 
I will cause breath to enter you 
that you may come to life."
 Ezekiel 37:5

5. Going to ER.

A person is not admitted to the hospital because they have covid. You are admitted because your oxygen level is too low. I suggest you call your doctor first and have your doctor alert the ER that a covid patient is arriving. ER personnel will need to prepare a covid room for you as well as clear the hallways of people.  

I heard from a covid patient in a different state that if your oxygen falls below 90, to not call your doctor, but go straight to the ER. At her hospital they had a separate entrance for covid patients. If you are alone or become too sick to drive, call an ambulance. 

In either case, be aware of covid-19 procedures for the hospital nearest you. 

"Luke the beloved physician greets you . . . . "
Luke 5:31

6. Sleep on your tummy.

Sleeping on your stomach stretches your lungs and allows the oxygen to keep flowing. Take naps and rests throughout your day. I called this my tummy time. Rest is crucial to recovery. If you are unable to sleep on your tummy, sleep on your side.

"Come to me, 
all who labor and are heavy laden,
 and I will give you rest. . . ."
Matthew 11:28

7. Rest and hydration. 

My doctors reiterated over and over. The most important thing to conquer covid is to rest and drink water. This is not the time to be a macho hero. Rest and water. Rest and water. Rest and water.

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters . . . .
Isaiah 55:1

8. Protein, fruits, veggies. 

Your body is fighting for its life. If ever there was a time to eat healthy, this is it. My doctor said I needed protein. He didn't need to say it, because my body craved protein used to rebuild my lungs. 

"Therefore, Honor God with your body."
1 Corinthians 6:20b

9. Post-covid recovery

Once home from the hospital, we still need to do all of the above, but now we enter a road from sickness to health. 

10. Lung strengthening exercises.

 Strengthen your muscles and lungs with the following exercises  from Johns Hopkins University:
Tackle these exercises gradually. Master phase 1 before trying phase 2. For me, the exercises were painful as they expanded my lungs, which is a good thing. Now, I do them pain free! Woo Hoo! They worked. 

Review these exercises with your physical therapist who is aware of other medical conditions which may prevent these exercises from being helpful to you.

11. Incentive spirometer. 

Ha! You thought you could leave this baby at the hospital. No. Keep breathing in and out of your spirometer. It was your key out of the hospital and will be your key out the door of your home to real life.

12. Walking and bike riding. 

Any leg exercise strengthens lungs. While at home on oxygen, I walked around my dining room for five minutes, checked the oximeter, walked for five minutes more. Keep increasing your walking time and checking your oxygen level. My doctor told me walking and bike riding are best for me. Now, I bike for a couple hours with frequent stops. But, hey, I've come a long way baby! 

Again, please check with your doctor before any exercise.


13. Weaning from oxygen.

 Start removing oxygen while sitting. Check oxygen level every five minutes to make sure it is above 90. Gradually increase time without oxygen, checking the oxygen level frequently. Do not stop oxygen without doctor's permission. Oxygen while you sleep will be the last to be removed. The doctor will do a test to determine your oxygen level while asleep. My 02 was great throughout the day and fell to 72 while I slept. What a shock! Obviously, I still sleep with oxygen and will have another night test in a few months. 

Do not remove yourself from oxygen without guidance from your doctor!

14. Breathe!!! 

Never forget that every breath we breathe comes from our Father. In the hospital I was sent the  beautiful song titled "Every Breath." I listened to it's message of truth and hope every day. Fill your mind with Godly thoughts and trust the One Who gives us the breath of life. 


With my love and prayers, dear covid travellers. What a journey. May we all arrive better people than when we started. God uses pain and suffering to teach us great lessons. Don't miss them.

  

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

My covid Journey — Time to Go Home?





  "Home today!" 
A great goal 
whether isolated in ICU or 
trapped at home during a pandemic.
Every day should be lived to the full
with an exclamation point (or three) at the end!!!
 
  In my hospital bed, 
I knew these could be my final days on earth. 
I've always wanted to 
live and die well.  

Sitting at the deathbed of beloved saints, 
I've witnessed their peace and joy.
We can't contrive those moments when 
Jesus takes our hand and 
escorts us to Heaven.  
There is no "fake" on a deathbed.
  Heaven and Home are reality.
 
I told my daughter, 
whether I live or die
I will go out with glory! 
A smile on my face! 
A song in my heart!
 Laughter on my lips!

God has a purpose for us whether our days are good or difficult.
Some feel the pandemic was a waste of our time,
but time is only wasted when we waste it.
Every day is an opportunity to live well and shine for Jesus.

We choose
our goals,
our attitude,
whether to grow 
or grumble. 
 
Today
(and I hope every day)
let's fill our hearts with thankfulness and 
praise to the One Who 
blesses us with
 His goals and His time.

"In everything give thanks for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

What a blessed truth to realize this Holy Week that 
in God's perfect time
Jesus came to earth and took the 
punishment for your sins and mine.

He died a cruel death on the cross and
 three days later 

He rose again!!!

Jesus returned to Heaven to prepare a Home for us. 
One day His Holy Hand will reach for ours as
 He escorts believers to Heaven. 
He's reaching for you. 
Will you accept His invitation?  

Jesus' goal for your day is that you would know Him and
 the power of His resurrection.
Surrender your life and your day to Jesus and 
all other goals will seem like foolishness.
You will, 
for the first time, 
know what Jesus meant when He said,

"I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."
Jesus in John 10:10

Will today be the day you live life to the full?







Monday, March 29, 2021

Our covid Journey — In Sickness and in Health

"In sickness and in health."
Those words slide over our tongues 
faster than we realize what we are promising.

 We commit to a lot on our wedding day.
With God's help, 
we deliver on those vows  
whether plagued with a pandemic or a silly old sniffle.
 
What can I say about my husband and his response to my severe covid?

Never have I felt 
so loved, 
treasured, 
cherished, 
cared for.

He devoted himself to my well being.
To making me 
comfortable, 
safe, 
healthy.

And always, 
to know his love.
 
When vows were made with dreamy eyes,
we didn't envision 
the potty chair, 
the mess, 
the work,
the pain,
the exhaustion.
 
Never a complaint.
Always joy.
Forever a smile, 
A joke,
 a laugh, and
  always 
love.

A happy home is a healing home.

Not knowing how to cook, he taught himself how.
Making me amazing gourmet meals.

When he asked what I wanted for dessert,
I said, "pineapple upside down cake."
I was kidding.
How in the world do you turn a cake upside down?
I had never ventured it.
But there it was.
What Elaine wanted, 
Dan gave.


The house clean.
Kitchen spotless.
Laundry done.
Kisses given.
Prayers prayed.
Love.

I am blessed by a man who has the gift of mercy.
 Caring for me was 
his desire,
his calling,
his devotion 
to the wife of his youth.

 "May your fountain be blessed, 
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth." 
Proverbs 5:18

I am the wife of Dan's youth.
We rejoice in our love.
The love God gave us for each other.
The love we share for Him.
The love that endures forever.
The Love that strengthens us when we are weak.
the Love that heals.

The Love that says

 "Love is patient, 
love is kind . . . . 
 it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered . . . . 
 
Love 
 always protects,
 always trusts, 
always hopes, 
always perseveres. " 
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

My husband.
Overflowing with love
just like
Jesus.


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