Saturday, December 1, 2012

A study in contrasts

5:28 p.m. Today's project was to organize and load up my car for a Christmas Tea and Boutique at Raincross Senior Living, the memory care part of which Steve now calls home. I was glad to be asked to set up a Mary Kay table of wrapped gifts and goodies for the residents, whom I've come to love and enjoy. Since God has called me to spend time cheering up and engaging the elderly and sick while visiting Steve, I'll heed Romans 12:6-8:

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

I had gone about my normal early morning routine, of reading my Spurgeon devotional upstairs, shutting off the alarm, then cleaning up after the dogs in the backyard and refilling their water bowls before letting them out for breakfast. After washing up, I sat down with my coffee and Bible, for the nicest part of my day, which also includes journalling and posting scripture on Facebook.

When I glanced over to my phone, it showed a missed call from Raincross for 6:34 a.m. My assumption was that it was the "Connections" [memory care] director wanting the details of Steve's doctor visit yesterday, some of which I had left on voicemail last night. LaChrystala did ask about that after telling me that an ambulance had taken Steve away again for another bump to the head. He had gotten out of bed before the usual time the caregivers awaken him. Then they heard a scream as he banged up against the hallway wall!  The hospital called me later to say he was unhurt, and he was sent back about 9 a.m. to have breakfast as usual and start his day. I was already planning to be there at 10. When I got there, I went straight to Steve's room before arranging my table. There he was with his morning caregivers, seated calmly, freshly shaved, and pleasantly having his face and hair cleaned up. In fact, when I said "hi" to him, he barely looked over. It was as if he hadn't been in an ambulance or hospital at all!

What a contrast to yesterday, when I came to take Steve to the doctor. He was seated at a table in a wheelchair for safety, which has been the norm for the last week of agitation. He was holding his head down onto his chest, expressionless, ignoring me (and everyone else there) completely. I smiled and announced, "Steve! We're going in the Jeep. We're going to see Dr. Sirisuk and Muriel at the front desk! We're going for a ride." Gone was the ready smile, the acknowledgement of a loved one's caring presence. His head never lifted up. It was scary!

I moved my car to a side exit, so that two caregivers and the director could load him into the passenger side of the Jeep. LaChrystala encouraged me that his doctor needed to see him in this condition when I wanted to give it up until some other day. Wise counsel! At the Riverside Medical Clinic, a very strong male nurse's aide lifted a limp, bent-over Steve into a wheelchair and up the elevator we went. With all this moving, Steve never reacted, not even to any pulls or pushes needed to get him situated!

The doctor and nurse were as kind, thorough and professional as usual, but you could tell they were heartbroken seeing Steve's condition since his last appointment in August. His dementia has rapidly progressed in the last year, when he first lost his ability to feed or care for himself. On the plus side, his vital signs were very good, even though Nurse Ada had to take his blood pressure on his wrist because he couldn't be made to slide his jacket sleeve up. They really ministered to Steve and to me, and soon it was time to leave, and the reverse procedure was used by where Ada and the aide to place Steve into the Jeep.

The entire way to our son Sean's home to give him his birthday gifts, Steve never lifted his head to look around. As Sean and I talked on the driveway, I explained why he might not want to go peek at Steve--it was just so shocking and sad to see him just--inert.

I stopped at home to get us some snacks about 2:30. Try as I might, I could not get Steve to pick up his head and look around, or see Jada barking at the gate. He lifted his head barely as I fed him some sugar free pudding, some cheese, and as much water as I could get him to drink with his head down. [There would be a hot lunch awaiting him back at Raincross].He showed no reaction to being at our home of 24 years. I made the choice not to be melancholy or dramatic, but to keep smiling and chatting as we made our way back to Raincross. This was not easy, but is anything we do to serve others and God easy?

Only God knows what is happening in Steve's brain. And only God knows how this tragic turn of events will fit into His eternal plan. From a week of agitation and accidents, to a day of lethargy and back to agitation today, is indeed a study in contrasts. But the puzzle named Steve is not puzzling to Jesus at all! He loves Steve and understands him thoroughly, comforts and keeps him safe and unhurt every day. Jesus eases my hurt and pain also, for which I thank Him, along with His provision of income, support and courage--it's all Him! And though it's hard at times, believer, when you are in an ongoing trial, we must look to eternity. Listen to Hebrews 13:14-16, NLT:

For this world is not our permanent home; we are loooking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name.  And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. 

No matter what we face, or where we are called to walk in this life, let us determine that we will please God! 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, He needs to get the glory always. If it's all about me, and what I do for Him, this doesn't matter. How can I step aside with integrity and let Him have the glory.

    I love how you had devotions with Steve at home. God's Word will not return void.

    Hugs and prayers,