It’s been almost a week since I last wrote and I know some followers of the blog have been concerned – even worried – about the silence. So I thought that I ought to take a moment to let you know that all is well. I figured that people would be busy during the week leading up to Christmas, but I am touched by the number of folks who have enquired about an update during this time.
Last weekend was truly a wonderful gift from God. Annie remained pain free and strong all through Sunday. She was even able to make our evening carol service. On Sunday the choir that Annie had been involved in preparing sang during the morning and evening carol service; Annie was just delighted to at least be there even if she didn’t have the lung capacity to sing with the choir. I’ll post a little video excerpt of the song we sang in the morning. I wished we had recorded the song we sang in the evening ‘Thank You for the Cross, Lord’ but Annie enjoyed watching it so much, she forgot to film it – or rather, I forgot to remind her to film it!
After our evening carol service we invited a house-full back to ours which really brought a lovely end to a wonderful weekend.
Monday didn’t start so well but that was more to do with the developing cold that Annie had. I think I have said it before, but it’s easy to think that every little symptom that Annie has is automatically related to the cancer. This might have just been a cold but it did seem to aggravate the other symptoms that are related to the secondary cancer in Annie’s lungs. Early Monday morning she coughed so violently that it started to cause her to throw up again. I don’t think I could ever explain how horrible the coughing is. It sounds as if everything within her disconnects and starts rattling around inside her. She finds it very difficult to breathe and afterwards she is utterly exhausted.
Over the following days the condition of Annie’s throat worsened with the coughing and her appetite waned. At the beginning of Tuesday morning Annie weighed herself and she reluctantly shared that she’d dropped below the 9 stone marker, now weighing 8 stone and 13 pounds (125 pounds). She’s a good stone lighter than she was three months ago. She doesn’t look unhealthily skinny to me but I can feel that there is less of her – and yet I find that there is more and more of her to love with each new day.
By Wednesday Annie’s throat had cleared up a lot and that was a real blessing. The coughing fits have tended to arrive like clockwork at around 5am each morning but the nausea and rib pain during the week have resided considerably. On Wednesday morning Annie had started to experience pain in a new area, specifically in the joint at the top of her leg. Again, you can’t help but wonder if this is related to the cancer. Annie likens it to the pain she experiences when her sciata flares up and it may well be an episode of that, we can’t be sure.
On Wednesday evening the choir had another opportunity to go and sing in our local neighbourhood. The only way Annie was able to make it was if she made use of a wheelchair as two hours of walking and standing was going to be too difficult to do with the leg pain she was experiencing. It might not seem a big deal but it was. It’s one thing to see those motorised mobility chairs and think about how fun it would be to zoom around the city in one, it’s altogether another thing to have to consider using one because you might have to. With a bit of encouragement from others, Annie took up the offer and joined us for the night of carol singing. Her main regret was assigning me to pilot the wheelchair! We did have a great time (photos to come!) singing and delivering little gifts to the young people and children and even better, declaring the hope of the nations to everyone listening.
On Thursday evening, Annie and I drove to Hayes for the night and spent a lovely evening with Tim, Joy, Tabbi and Mom Ruth. We must have made that journey on the motorway hundreds of times since we were married. It’s a journey that lasts anything between one hour forty five and two and a half hours depending on how heavy my foot is! But the time always flies when I drive with Annie; it’s a journey fuelled by laughter, singing and this time, ample clementines and Christmas chocolate! Milo also made the journey with us. I haven’t mentioned Milo much in this blog, I’ll try to bear that in mind in the New Year! One thing is for sure, Milo loves car journeys.
We returned to Worcester on Friday, with Mom Ruth as our extra passenger. In the last few miles of the journey, Annie started to feel queasy. We literally got within one hundred metres of our home before having to quickly pull over for Annie to get out and throw-up. She was travelling in the backseat and had eaten a full breakfast. If anything, it’s a reminder that the nausea is only being suppressed by the medication that Annie is taking. But we are really thankful that the regime of pills is working and that she is not – at this stage – having to be hooked up to the syringe driver over the Christmas period.
On Friday evening, we enjoyed time together here with my family. Throughout the evening I found myself taking mental snapshots. Just taking time to take in the moments with gratefulness to God in my heart. I don’t know what next Christmas will look like but it’s not mine to think, assume or worry that far ahead. For now, I thank God for what He has richly blessed us with this far.
As I write this, Annie is sat down with Mom Ruth watching some period drama, ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’; lots of flouncy costumes, regional accents and good use of proper english!
We are one day away from Christmas day. Three months ago, I couldn’t have pictured things looking so……well, so normal. I couldn’t even be sure who would have been in that picture; at that stage I could only wonder if Annie would have even been in the picture. It’s a picture that God has sketched and coloured; not every stroke has been light and vibrant; sometimes the strokes have been dark and the sketch hard to make out; but not one stroke has been wasted or unnecessary in creating this picture. There’s nothing normal about this picture. To me, it’s a masterpiece that bears the signature of our Almighty Creator, our Beautiful Saviour, our Loving Master.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10
We continue to thank Him for all that He has done and trust Him for all that is to come,