January 25, 2016

Overwhelmed by God's love

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For most if my life, I've been overwhelmed. I'm prone to stress and anxiety and always manage to put too much on my own plate, not to mention life and it's obstacles... and so the result is an underlying (and sometimes not so underlying) feeling of being overwhelmed. But in the midst of this craziness, most of the time, I'm simply overwhelmed with God's grace and love. Don't get me wrong, and more about this at another time, I still have moments where I'm a puddle on the floor. But even then, its short-lasting and God reigns me back to Himself and His mercies. 

Just this morning, I had to stop and text J because I just can't believe how WONDERFUL you people are. I honestly didn't know I was surrounded by such kind and generous souls and I'm just so grateful. Quick story: I decided to head downstairs when visiting my mom yesterday to grab a quick sandwich. I decided to order the same sandwich I had on Saturday and when my food was ready, the woman brought me my bag and I thanked her. I was on my way out the door and she said "I put a little extra pesto on it, just like you like it." She stopped me in my tracks. Here is a woman that prepares food ALL day for who knows how many people. I'd only ordered from her once before and hadn't even remembered to order extra sauce this time but she remembered me and my order and took the time to comfort me in the way she could. Maybe its all the emotions, but I never knew a little pesto sauce could make me so thankful. I could list 15 more examples like this, but I wont (for now). 

I will however publicly thank J's parents who had us over last night. They fed us, were great company, and managed to get my mind off things for a few hours. When we were heading out, his mom gave me a box of essential oils and a diffuser (which happened to be the perfect gift & something we had been talking about getting even this past week) as well as a giant batch of healthy soup so that we can take a few days off cooking & prepping food for ourselves. That means more time with my sweet mama. Thank God for moms, right? There's really nothing like a mom's ability to love, comfort, and give of herself freely. Anyway... all of that to say that God continues to comfort me and has blessed us abundantly with caring people who really amaze me. 

NOW... about my Mama:
For those of you who read the last update I shared, my mom has been struggling with the medications hospice has prescribed. Honestly, they're too strong. Probably not something most people in pain would complain about, but my mom has spent the past year or so detoxing her body, eating an organic, vegan, gluten-free & sugar-free diet, and has avoided even Tylenol. Her body is what was explained to us as being "opiate niave" and so although she hasn't been in a lot of pain over the past few days, she's been disoriented and has had a hard time moving around on her own to say the least. So last night when the nurse came to switch out her pain patch, I asked them to hold off until we were able to talk to the doctor because I thought it was too strong. Since she went inpatient on Saturday morning and the doctor only comes by a few times a week, she hadn't seen a doctor yet. They were hesitant, but my mom's pain was managed and they agreed. 

In hopes that she would be able to get some sleep (she didn't get any on Saturday night), we gave her a medical marijuana edible (had to fight hospice a little on this but they've been accommodating and eventually approved as long as they're not responsible for dispensing to her) and I am overjoyed to report THAT SHE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!!! I can't tell you the last time she's been able to get more than 2 or 3 hours of sleep at a time, so the fact that she was able to sleep almost all night is GREAT NEWS!!! And the fact that it wasn't totally narcotic induced is a BIG win for us. I know feelings about mmj are all over the board but I have never been more sure that this is the BEST thing we can do. Now, we're in no way thinking her pain can be relieved solely by cannabis, but we have hopes that it will really reduce the amount of narcotics taking a hard toll on her body. 

But wait! There's more! (I feel like a commercial ;) haha!) We were able to see the doctor this morning. Unfortunately the pain patch still affects the body for up to 24 hours after being taken off, so mixed with the cannabis my mom wasn't able to really speak with the doctor for herself but I made sure to take the morning off work so that I could be there to advocate for her. I prayed hard over my mom and even for the doctor before he came in to see her and maybe hes just genuinely open minded, patient and kind on a regular basis (he works in hospice after all) but WOW. During this journey, we have not encountered a more patient, open-minded, and kind doctor and to be honest, I'm blown away. He took the time to listen to my concerns and address each one. He knelt by the bed and looked me in the eye and didn't show the least bit of irritation when I asked what must have been my 14th question. 

So here's the low-down:
  • They're completely switching up her pain meds. Over the next couple days they'll figure out her pain level and adjust her pain patch accordingly. We think this will help A LOT with mental clarity and independence. 
  • He supports our use of cannabis and wants us to work it into the schedule so that we can get a true picture of what her med schedule will look like when we take her home. 
  • When she left Honor, she had severe swelling throughout her lower body. This is basically gone!! 
  • The nurses expressed some worry about fluid in the lungs or upper body overnight but the doctor assessed and said her lungs sounded GREAT! This is wonderful news.
  • Parasites. My mom has them but because of testing, prescription issues, and 23794 other obstacles, we haven't been able to get her the medication she needs to get rid of them. He listened well, wasn't condescending and assured us that one way or another, she'll get the medication she needs and they'll monitor her while on them if needed. This is one of the biggest blessings so far! Not only have we not even been able to get our hands on this med, but the 3 day dosage can be pretty rough on the body so having medical supervision will give us relief, if nothing else. 
  • My mom has barely been getting enough nutrients and this is something I've been pretty concerned about. We have yet to talk it through with my mom, because its her decision ultimately, but the doctor suggested a 3-5 day dose of a steroid (one thats naturally occuring in our bodies) that would allow her to have a bit more energy, give her the desire to eat, and most likely fight nausea. Win all around, if you ask me. 
Ok, sorry for the long post. Just wanted to share with you all where we're at. All things considered, things are going well and today's visit with the Doctor has left me with more hope and assurance than I've felt in a while. Thank you for your continued prayers and kindness. Feeling truly blessed by each of you.

Friendship Village

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Unfortunately the transition home didn't go as smoothly as we'd hoped. The pain meds that the hospital was administering & doing their best to regulate weren't the meds we got sent home with. Somewhere between the hospice admittance & the hospital discharge there was a breakdown in communication. We went home with new meds, different doses & no idea how or when to give them to my mom. She's either been in a lot of pain or extremely confused and disoriented and we were honestly worried about leaving her alone for any amount of time. So we made the hard call late last night to hospice & arranged for her to go inpatient for what will hopefully only be a few days. The goal here is to get her pain managed and find a good balance that lets her be as pain free as possible while still lucid and maintaining some quality of life while under medical supervision. We had some trouble finding a bed available but we were finally able to & brought her to Friendship Village in Tempe this morning. Everyone here is so kind and gentle and I really can't say enough good things about these lovely nurses (shoutout to all you nurses - you've got the toughest job & I admire you) who even in the past two hours that we've been here have taken the time to comfort, listen, and help us in any way they can. She's resting and seems peaceful now but has been battling nausea, discomfort and anxiety over the past couple days. We are truly hopeful that transitioning here in hospice will allow us to learn and be better caregivers as well as give her body time to adjust to these heavy meds. Thank you all for your continued prayers, grateful doesn't quite cover it but there aren't adequate words so "thank you" will have to do for now. 

January 22, 2016

God is still good

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Hi friends. I'll cut to the chase... It might seem weird that I'm choosing to write and share this personal journey, perhaps with people I don't even know, at such a difficult time - and to be honest, I've been going back and forth in my head about it but I finally decided to do it. Why? I have a million reasons not to but a few good reasons that "pushed me over the edge".
  1. Well to be honest, I need an outlet. I'm riding an emotional roller coaster and there's only so many hours in a day that I can let my mind wander to "what-ifs" and worries about the future or regrets from the past. For some reason, I think putting pen to paper fingers to keyboard will bring some relief. Not to mention, give me something to put my nervous energy into.
  2. Secondly, as much as I love talking to each of you and hearing from you, I can't give the same update over and over again... honestly its just hard. I love when you reach out, so keep it comin' but when there's no good news, sharing it even more than once can bring me down, and I'm really focusing on keeping a positive mindset and choosing happiness as often as I can. 
  3. And the most important reason of all of them is JESUS. This life on earth is temporary. Our bodies are temporary. Our things are temporary, and even our worldly relationships with other humans are not guaranteed to be eternal. The past year has been hard. And I mean HARD. And to this point, the only gain has been our own personal and spiritual growth, but that's not God's only desire. He desires to be glorified and worshiped and shared boldly. And so that's what I hope to do. In the midst of a heartbreaking situation, God is still good. He has shown His presence in our lives and even during this season of pain and confusion. And if just one person comes to know God's love and comfort just a little bit better, this journey has not been in vain. 
Even the name of my blog 'fits'. If you were to google "anchors aweigh", you would find out that it is not only the fight song of the US Navy but is also the name of a movie from the 40s. If you were to read a little bit more, you would find the term to "weigh anchor" is to bring the anchor aboard a ship in preparation for departure, and the phrase "anchor's aweigh" is a report that the anchor is clear of the sea bottom & that the ship is officially underway.
Wow. I created this blog and its title over two years ago, but for some reason I can't help but think that God was providing a platform to be shared and glorified.

Anyway, now a quick update on mom: 
  • She is home from the hospital! Praise Jesus. Previously she was living with her sister and brother-in-law but the environment was not nurturing or comforting (to say the least) and because she was living so far away from us, providing help and even company was difficult. So over the past few weeks, we've made arrangements and during my mom's hospital stay we got all of her stuff moved into our place. We aren't naive enough to think that a major adjustment won't be taking place, but we're nonetheless happy and comforted to have her in our home and under our "supervision". 
  • Her meds were delivered late last night after she got home and we're working on getting her to a good balance of pain relief and a clear mind... which isn't easy when narcotics are involved but our priority is pain management. She already has a medical marijuana card and has used it a little up until this point, but we'd like to make it more of a regular and scheduled form of pain relief. Any and all expertise in this area would truly be appreciated. 
  • She has two more scheduled rounds of palliative radiation in order to stop her bleeding, and we've made sure to keep the rounds to a small amount in case she has a need for more in the future. (If we chose to do a larger amount now, she would be limited if she needed more later because her body can only handle so much radiation). 
  • As for hospice, both my dad and grandparents passed gracefully with the help Hospice of the Valley and so my mom was very adamant that we use them over any other hospice. We're still getting adjusted but we're welcoming their help, knowledge, and resources. 

And lastly for now, SO MANY of you have offered up help in different ways. We are SO grateful for each and every one of you and your offers. Right now, we are adjusting and settling in and that's where are heads are at but we DO have needs and I believe that soon, we will be more prepared to let you all know how you can help. Although we will pray expectantly for God's grace and miracles, we will also prepare for my mom to join the Lord. Personally, that means granting her wishes as well as providing love, company, and comfort as much as possible. So far, she has only vocalized going to a farm... away from the city and with animals. So if you have any connections or know of one in our area, please let me know. Other than that, for now we can only ask you to continue praying. We are grateful for EACH AND EVERY one of you. Thank you.