A doctor, a nurse and a hospice worker all walked into a bedroom. There’s no punchline; that was how this morning began! Although it does bring to mind the old ‘How many ________ does it take to change a lightbulb?’ joke format.
We had hoped Annie would be released from the morphine driver yesterday but that didn’t happen. The hospice nurse decided to keep Annie on the driver for another day with the aim of weaning her off the morphine over the next few days. That process still wasn’t straight forward – as this morning’s visitation from the three wise medical professionals highlighted. There was much discussion interspersed with on-the-spot tests and examinations from the doctor this morning. I sense that obviously they have some concerns but we don’t really know what those concerns are. I watched the doctor’s body language as he examined Annie and each time he’d say to himself “No…that seems fine…”
It’s not too hard to read between the lines. Ever since Annie had the morphine she’s been acting (or rather talking) rather strange on occasion – most notably at night. She’s also complained of intermittent pains in her forehead. The acting and talking strange could easily be put down to the morphine. The doctor confirmed that Annie was on a fairly high dose but I guess they are being cautious and real about the possibility of it being more an effect of cancerous secondaries in Annie’s head than it is a side-effect of the drugs. Either way, they finally agreed this morning to begin weaning Annie off the morphine.
This is good news – for now – because we hope that the strangeness will subside. Over the last week, although sleep has become better, it has not been great and certainly not without strange interruptions. Annie has continued to insist on a dialogue during the early hours of the morning about the most bizarre things. Just before we slept the other day we prayed and then I tried to appeal to Annie to try and save what she wanted to ask me until the morning. It’s weird to be doing that. Sometimes Annie is so frail it’s like I am having to care for her like an elderly person; and then at other times, like the one I just described, I am treating her like a child. And like a child, she just couldn’t resist talking! About half an hour later, I started to feel her getting restless in bed and so I asked her “What’s up hon?” and she responded anxiously: “Oh, I just have all these things I need to tell you!” And so, a stream of semi-conscious conversation subjects – including how I should cook lobsters properly – ensued!
Don’t feel bad about laughing! Annie and I laughed…the next day, following coffee and sunlight.
So it’s been a bit of a weary few days and not to mention that there’s been a return of nausea and vomiting. Lord’s willing, we hope to see what we reckon are the effects of the morphine wear off and quit wearing us both out – or at least let us gather a bit more strength!
There is, of course, the question of pain – after all, that’s why she went on the morphine in the first place. Annie knows her body well and she feels like she knows the pain isn’t just being numbed but rather that it isn’t there. She’s felt no twinges – other than occasional ones in her head – and in between the hour or so transition between driver changes she doesn’t experience any pain at all. So reducing the morphine is going to be significant either way. Hopefully, the best-case scenario will be that the sleep-chats will end and she’ll continue to be pain and nausea free.
What happens after that doesn’t really consume or concern us.
We never really ask “And then what…?” Some of our spiritual disciplines we have shared with you way early on in the life of this blog, continue to be as fresh today as they were when we wrote them. We live one day at a time. This is another lesson as Christians we rarely learn as comprehensively as when we are suffering. Jesus commands us not to worry about tomorrow.
Do you hear that?
It’s a command. It’s not a suggestion. It’s not a recommendation. It’s not fridge-magnet philosophy. It’s a command from God. Like “Do not murder.” is a command. Obeying Jesus is a demonstration of how much we honour Him, love Him and trust Him; and the measure by which we obey Him is the measure by which we experience the peace, joy, assurance and hope that following Him brings. I recently heard Pastor Joel Beeke put it this way:
“We cannot persist in low levels of obedience and have high levels of assurance…[As a Christian] if I don’t walk in obedience my soul won’t be kept out of heaven but heaven will be kept out of my soul!” – Pastor, Joel Beeke
We don’t need to ask “And then what…?” We thank Him for this day and for the sufficient grace He gives with it.
So that’s been about the best summary I can give of the last few days. However, I’ll end by briefly sharing with you the great blessing of last Friday.
A week or so ago I received an email from a Christian brother I had never met or heard of before. In two small paragraphs he shared with us his own testimony of the Lord’s goodness and greatness during the painful trial of his wife’s battle with cancer. She too was a young woman. The Lord called her home very suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago leaving this brother with their two young children.
Annie and I would have loved to have had children. I can almost hear Abraham and Sarah shouting at us from among that great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11:8-12; Hebrews 12:1-3) “God can still do that!” But sometimes we look at one another after a particularly rough round with cancer and say: “Can you imagine how much harder this would be if we had children!?” Meeting this brother for whom this had been a reality was not merely a great testimony of man’s strength but rather a shining trophy of God’s grace and faithfulness.
On Friday he came over to have lunch with us just for a couple of hours before he made the two hour trip back home to do the school run. Rarely have two hours of fellowship with a complete stranger been so sweet and so precious and so encouraging and rarely have two small paragraphs in an email been so rich. Yes, we had our experience of sufferings in common but as this brother rightly remarked in his first email to us:
“…what matters is not our shared experiences but the fact we share one heavenly father, who never takes his eye of the ball or fails to come through for us…”
I was reminded of the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel (Daniel 3). As those three were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship any other than the one true God, it was noticed that there were no longer three men in the furnace but four! Through their fiery trial, the Lord Jesus was seen all the more clearly and powerfully.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while youmay have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. – 1 Peter 1:6,7