Here we are
Here we are
Bandaged and bruised
Awaiting a cure
Here we are
Here You are
Here You are
Our beautiful King
Here You are with us
You’re the remedy
Oh, in us
You’re the remedy
Let us be the remedy
Let us bring the remedy
Here we are. Once again, here we are in a room in St Richard’s Hospice. With the frequent nausea spells over the last few weeks, we did wonder whether there would be another trip to the hospice coming up over the horizon, we just didn’t expect it to come so soon. While this recent admission was unexpected, it was certainly far less turbulent than previous occasions. In the past, the passage to the hospice has followed late and sleepless nights crammed with visits from medics in the twilight hours. But this was different.
Something I forgot to mention in our previous blog was that last week, we asked the doctor for a blood test so that we could find out if Annie’s calcium levels were high and possibly the cause of the increase in nausea. If you’ve been following the blog long enough, you might remember that almost one month short of a year ago, Annie experienced her first long stay at the hospice. In April 2012, following a similar pattern of increased nausea and thirst, her blood test revealed high levels of calcium in her body. She was shuttled into the hospice for a few days in order to have a Pamidronate to help lower those high levels which are ultimately caused by the activity of cancer in Annie’s bones. This morning when the doctor called us, he confirmed that the calcium levels were high and he advised that Annie be admitted to the hospice again for the same procedure. Unlike the weather outside, the circumstances are not exactly the same today as they were then, simply because Annie’s condition is more complex and developed now than it was back then. For a start, I estimate she’s probably a good 20-30lbs lighter than she was in April 2012; and quite recently she’s noticed sudden and rapid development of various lumps and bumps dotted around the top of her head, her back and her tummy.
Either way, as I said, Annie’s admission this morning was very smooth and exceedingly blessed. The doctor had said that there were no single rooms available at the hospice and so she’d be in a shared room there. But that was more than fine with us; it certainly beats spending the time in a ward in the hospital. With the weather being so beautiful today, we took our time getting there as we prepared bags and vehicle for the 10 minute trip. If it’s within my power not to rush to these places, I try not to. Frankly, I never know whether this will be the last time Annie and I will be in our home together and so I like to savour the moments and not let them get lost in a blur of busyness. I found myself frequently stalling, pausing to just glance at my Annie through the window of our home, for mental polaroid moments, as she made to-do and to-get lists before we left. Click.
At around 3:30pm we finally made it to the hospice. Crossing the threshold of the hospice entrance for the first time of each admission, always feels just as significant to me as departing our home together as we leave for the hospice. Will it be the last time I wheel Annie into that place? I whispered a simple prayer that we might both leave that place gloriously, whether with or without each other. We entered with such peace.
On our arrival we were welcomed at the desk by the familiar face of volunteer and brother in the Lord, Dave. What better welcome can you get than someone smiling, embracing you and saying “The Lord bless you!” I bet David Beckham’s recent £14,000 a night stay at the Le Bristol, Paris couldn’t even afford him that level of welcome! And then, contrary to our expectations we were ushered to probably the nicest single room we’ve been to at the hospice so far – complete with a beautiful view out to the lake and gardens.
Of course, we know that the means to which that room became available most likely included the passing on of the previous occupant. If a patient was due to have left the room the doctor would have been informed when he inquired about a place for Annie; so the sudden change of plan probably came as a result of a sudden death. An hour or so after settling into the room our smiles were straightened as a nurse peeked through the door and asked that we might just stay inside for a moment, drawing the privacy curtain to and closing the door. We know this is code for “someone else has just passed on and we need to wheel them out.”
Well, it’s now 8:17pm and you just couldn’t believe the hour we just had. Annie is hooked up to the intravenous drip now with some saline solution running through her – in preparation for the infusion tomorrow – and a little bit of anti-sickness in the form of Haloperidol. Annie’s had that particular drug before and while it has had a settling effect on the nausea, she has been swallowed up in sleep and drowsiness. Through bleary eyes and heavy lips she tried to indicate that she needed the bathroom; she was such a sorry sight to witness – so, so weary. It’s so weird to be sat in the bathroom with your wife just talking her through something as primitive as peeing and then saying “Well done, honey! Well done!” like she’s a two year old. Gradually we made it back to the bed where she slumped awkwardly off the wheelchair and then onto the mattress. Then, like a switch had been flicked, she was back in the land of the able; talking, texting and more importantly, eating!
Today has not just been punctuated with the passing on of unknowns. We also received the news today that a very dear sister in our home church family had gone to be with the Lord following a very short battle with cancer; only a couple of weeks ago I was praying over her with a few other leaders in our church; and just last week she was sharing a word of encouragement with me as we spoke over the phone. She was no stranger to suffering and we cherished her counsel and company even when it was just in momentary bursts. The words and sentences of a person who has walked the path of affliction and suffering with Christ, is worth more to us than all the books written on the subject. This dear sister was a living witness of the very real, historic and momentous resurrection of Jesus Christ. She was one of those people who could silence an academic debate about the existence of Jesus with just a few words from her life story. Jesus is alive because He lives clearly, powerfully, supernaturally in His followers – followers like that dear sister. In that sense, her testimony has been among those more precious to us than all the books written on the subject of the resurrection of Jesus. And now she knows better than any of us what it means to be more than a conqueror. Now she sees who she knew and held on to with eyes of faith for so long. Now she no longer just has Him within but she is with Him.
The opening words of this blog are from a song that has been on my mind following the some reflections on the fear of death that I posted yesterday. I think the original version is by the David Crowder Band but I first heard it on an album by a Presbyterian pastor and his wife, Vito and Monique Aiuto. Their little band goes by the name of ‘The Welcome Wagon’ and the song is called ‘Remedy’ from their album, ‘Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices‘.