Sunday Update at 9:40 pm CT
Heather has had a pretty good day. She has enjoyed the day of rest without any therapies, but I managed to convince her to get into her power chair. It has been a challenge keeping her awake, but she has been awake a good portion of the day, and has stayed in her chair most of the day as well.
In my efforts to keep her awake and in the chair a little longer, I decided to take her down stairs to the lobby where there are glass windows that overlook the children's hospital across the street. I told her to look over there where the children's hospital is, and we talked about the many days and days she spent at a children's hospital in Atlanta, GA many years ago. We talked about maybe going to visit sick children in the hospital when she is able, because she knows what it is like to be sick as a child. While we were there, a mom and her son came down to visit with us. The mom introduced her 30 year old son, Wes, and Heather introduced herself as well. Lest we think for even a minute that no one could have it tougher than us, we need to look around. Heather had already stressed that she was ready to go back to the room before they came down, and we were just about to leave when they showed up. God's perfect timing without a doubt!!!!
Wes is wheelchair bound. His hands were both turned in a little, one eye shut, and he had a scar in his neck from a previous tracheotomy, (a surgery where a breathing tube is put directly into the windpipe). I wish you could have been there to see Heather as she perked up and listened to the mom share Wes' story. Wes, at the age of 26 was an English teacher in Korea, when he was hit by a taxi cab 4 years ago. He suffered serious brain trauma. For the last four years, he has been in and out of facilities. He just started garbling words in July of this past year. Though he cannot speak very well, he is very aware of what is going on. I asked Heather to share a little of her story, and when she got to the part about the surgery with no more seizures, she began weeping, so I finished and as I told about the brain surgery, Wes began crying. They have been here at Stallworth for 2 months. Wes has a long way to go to even be close to communicating as well as Heather. Both Mom and Wes are saved, but once again, God brings someone along to remind me how wonderfully blessed we are as a family!!! My heart went out to Mrs. Putnam and her heart went out to us. I said, "You've been taking care of Wes in his condition for 4 years!" and she said to me, "And you've been going through this for more than 20 years!" Isn't it amazing that both of us were thinking, "I don't know how you've done it." The only way either of our families have done it, has simply been by the GRACE OF GOD!!!!! He gives you grace for the journey and it only comes at the time it is needed! As we were talking, she mentioned that her other son who is 27, has been a great help to her in taking care of Wes. As they left, I told Wes, don't ever give up! Hold on to the hope that the Lord is going to help you get better. He grabbed my arm and garbled with a whisper, thank you! What a blessing to hear that her son is helping her bear this burden, and she is not alone.
What do people do when their world changes in a matter of seconds... whether through a traumatic accident, through a cancer diagnosis or other disease, through complications to a surgery or through some affliction that strikes the health of those you love so dear? How would you handle it if something happened with one of your loved ones that became a life-long burden? How do you handle the initial shock, as well as the complete package that comes with the sickness such as the numerous doctor visits, hospital visits, 24/7 care, your life being completely interrupted and put on hold, etc...? First thing, YOU must pull together as a family. Through these years, we have tried to still function somewhat normal under not normal conditions. We have been greatly blessed!!!! Again, the Lord has been so good to us!!!!!! When I saw Wes' condition from the head trauma, I immediately, under my breath, thanked the Lord once again for the miracle He has performed and is continuing to perform in Heather's life!
Your family is very important. All you really have in this world besides the Lord, and good Christian friends... is your family. My husband has ALWAYS tried to make sure when times are difficult that everyone in our family is doing ok. He is so wise in the fact that he is concerned about everyone's spirit staying on top side, including himself. We are pretty joyful people, though at times it seem as if our hearts have been ripped apart from the rest of our bodies. We try and keep a joyful spirit by continuing to live the Christian life daily. We don't separate our lives from the spiritual to the secular. What I mean is, we realize that we are a testimony to others no matter if we are here walking the halls of the hospital or outside the doors of the hospital. We do attitude checks often. When we try and handle all of Heather's health issues on our own, we can't do it!! Our spirits are affected and we are a mess. We don't claim to be super Christians. We have to stay in our Bibles, and on our knees in order to handle everything that comes at us like a bolt of lightening would from the sky.
When times are stressful, we try and give each other a break from being at the hospital constantly because Heather's care is 24/7. My husband will do special things for me as well as our daughter Hannah, to keep us encouraged. He knew I needed a break last weekend, so he and Hannah decided to let me go home for Church. I needed our Church family, and I would like to think that they needed me, too!! I'll never forget the first time that my husband mentioned to me that he thought we needed to see about getting someone to come in and give me a hand in helping with Heather. My first reaction was, "I'm doing fine; we don't need anyone." But, the Lord thought differently. Heather broke her ankle a few years ago in three places, and had to be wheelchair bound. She needed surgery, but because she has osteopenia, (bone loss/soft bones), she could not have surgery. Her ankle was put into a cast, however, she could not put weight on it whatsoever. Because of this, we had to allow home health to come into our home and give me assistance. This was the way the Lord opened the door for me to allow someone to come in and help me. I didn't realize how much I needed the help, and how much stress I was absorbing.
I no longer feel guilty about having care givers come into our home, and if you ever travel down a similar road, it would be wise to allow others to give you help if they offer, or if the situation calls for home health assistance, take it. I also got over what others would think about my taking a day or two to get a break a long time ago, as well. Our Church had previously scheduled a couple's retreat for this past weekend. My husband sacrificed a lot in order to see to it that I was able to still help him in the planning and to be able to attend the retreat. Our daughter, Hannah, once again was more than willing to pitch in and stay with her sister. I was able to make some handcrafted things for the retreat here at the hospital, and my husband drove up Friday morning to drop Hannah off, pick me up and drive an hour and 1/2 to Monteagle Mountain, TN for the retreat. We had a wonderful time with the couples from our Church, and when the retreat was over on Saturday afternoon, my husband drove me back up to Nashville, picked up Hannah, then drove 2 and 1/2 hours back to Chattanooga. When a family member is sick, everyone in the family will suffer and sacrifice in some way or another, as care that is needed for your loved one will often interrupt your lives!
I'm thankful that our family has walked this road together, and each one of us in some way has been affected but we each have worked very hard at keeping our spirits soft and tender to the Lord and His leading. Thank you Lord, once again for bringing Wes and his mom down to the Lobby to remind me of your love that has never wavered and has been there to carry us through each difficult day we have faced!
"But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand."
The picture above was taken yesterday of Pastor & Mrs. Cape at the Couples Retreat.