Monday, December 5, 2011

What a waste! or Why God made specialists

7:04 p.m. Today's project was to take Steve to a pulmonary specialist, Dr. Duke, at the Riverside Medical Clinic. The doctor asked that we bring Steve's entire C-pap machine so he could examine the equipment as well as the patient.

I'd spent a lovely morning visiting with my friend at her beautiful home, where she enjoyed a virtual makeover on my personal Mary Kay website, and using the exact color samples recommended by the professionals. It's very gratifying to see a woman's face light up at her reflection, having gone from beautiful to beautiful-er!

At home, I signed the caregiver's hours and enjoyed spending time with Steve putting the lights on our Christmas tree. After grabbing a quick lunch, I decorated a Christmas stocking for our newest family member Pavel, Heidi's husband, with puff paint and some fun decos that fit his hobbies. (That's what I do for all the kids' spouses). We'll be short one stocking, however, with the late Bailey's sad departure.  Well, Jada's totally cute stocking will make up for it, and be a good reminder of her lost friend. I suddenly looked up, and it was 2:45! At that time of the afternoon, there wasn't much hope of getting to the doctor's by 3. But I just made sure Steve was ready to get into the car, had his seatbelt fastended, and we went down the streets in pretty slow traffic.

We found a good parking spot, and walked in, arms loaded--his with his C-pap machine, and me trusting the Lord with my business, carrying a gilded basket with wrapped fragrance and body care gifts to show, share and maybe sell. The registration girls oohed a bit, and I left my card. It's a foot in the door--may the Lord bring my basket and me to their remembrance when they need last-minute gifts! "Remember me, O my God, for good," Nehemiah 13:31 says.

Dr. Duke was very thorough--two hours' worth--as he asked many questions and examined the records that were faxed over from the office of neurologist Dr. Rai, the original prescriber.  I had a chance to do some educating on early-onset Alzheimer's, and we went through every aspect of my anecdotal observations as well as the science and what it means. One Aha! moment came when the specialist said that if a person stops breathing several times an hour, 5 times  like the original sleep study showed Steve was doing, up to 8, it's perfectly normal, or within a normal range. I felt worlds better about having let Steve go to bed without the C-pap the last few weeks after he broke a part of the mask. And actually, he's been sleeping pretty quietly, praise the Lord!

The sleep disruptions, called arousals, can include snoring and gasping episodes. Dr. Duke suggested some low tech ideas, like a wedge pillow that keeps the snorer sleeping upright to allow more space for the air flow, or, a dental device that positions the mouth correctly. Here's what he said, and I quote: "Stopping snoring with a C-pap is like using a sledgehammer on a fly." I finally asked him, "And if we do nothing at all?" He answered, "Your husband will be fine. And with what you have coming up to deal with, [such as the severe night terrors, even hallucinations, that my dementia caregiver friends' parents experience]this will be the least of your worries."

"What a waste, " I'm tempted to say, the years of irritation and stress before Steve got into bed each night, especially in the last few months when understanding the placement of the mask, the reason for it, and the need to treat the assembly as an expensive piece of equipment is now beyond his comprehension.

Yet I know that in God's economy, there is no waste.  Dr. Rai's initiative in ordering the sleep study showed me that he had some genuine concern for Steve. Up to that point, I'd had not much good to say about his non-existent bedside manner! So the confrontations of the past were gone, and we ended up speaking and behaving collegially in pursuit of Steve's best interest--or what we thought was in his best interest.   I was a better witness for the Lord, as well as an ardent advocate for my husband. And God accomplished a better goal--the presentation of the correct image of Christ to an unsaved man.

As He is, so are we in this world, I John 4:17 says.

There are many strenuous and aggravating situations that a believer will confront before we exit this scene, and tough as it is sometimes, we must mind our witness before the unsaved. We represent the Lord Christ--let's do it well, and as Steve and I did today by the grace and mercy of God, we'll reap a reward of help and healing.

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