Wednesday, September 7, 2016

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The Last Walk 4

Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

            Paul’s words present a stiff challenge.  Are Karen and I joyful, patient, faithful?  Hm.  On the last point, many friends have assured us they are praying for Karen and me on our last walk.  Prayer is a facet of human solidarity, and we are grateful for our friends’ prayers.  A week ago I asked friends to pray that Karen could come home.
            Who would have guessed that a kidney stone could be good news?  On Thursday, Dr. B operated on Karen’s right kidney, removing the stone and placing a stent in her ureter.  (Dr. B calls himself the plumbing doctor; he’s an urologist, not to be confused with a nephrologist, the kidney expert.  In Karen’s case, they both are part of a team, of which Dr G, the oncologist, is head.  I’m learning lots of new vocabulary.)
Karen’s body chemistry and mental functioning began improving immediately after surgery.  During a two-hour visit later Thursday, I witnessed her voice strengthening and her mind clearing.  Friday afternoon, when I checked phone messages after class, Jennie, our daughter-in-law, said not to go to the hospital.  My sister-in-law Janie had taken Karen home already.
In the five days since then we’ve been learning to balance pain meds.  If she takes too little, Karen’s pain spikes, especially if she “does” anything—stand up, dress herself, walk a few steps, etc.  Call this Scylla.  On the other hand, if we overdo the meds (or give one too soon after the other) the drugs hammer her cognitive abilities.  That’s Charybdis.  Like Odysseus, we try to navigate between the monster and the whirlpool.  Of course, Karen faces complications that Odysseus could never have imagined.  For example, after kidney surgery patients sometimes experience sudden, uncontrollable bladder function.  That stage has passed, thank God; but we had a series of adventures last Friday night!
Karen was scheduled for a chemo treatment Tuesday, but Dr. G postponed it.  It’s more important to achieve balance on pain meds.  There is clinical evidence that good pain control improves the efficacy of chemotherapy, he says.  Karen is learning to judge her pain state more precisely; learning to take the “break-through” meds before pain increases.  We’re getting better at pain management, so much so that Karen called Tim and Tia (son and daughter-in-law) to confirm her plan to visit them next week.  It’s her decision to make, so I will drive to Kennewick on two successive Saturdays, delivering her on the first and retrieving her the next.  I expect lots of pictures of Jakobi.  Meanwhile, we have had visits from home health care and home health physical therapy.
That’s a lot of prayers answered in only a week.  “…faithful in prayer” sounds like good advice.

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