Monday, August 27, 2012

He’s Never Failed Me Yet

In out last post we talked about the faithfulness of God. Sometimes the path of a family caregiver of a terminally ill loved one can be so discouraging. As a caregiver for my husband I found myself often discouraged and stressed.

Through it all, however, I found the Lord to be my faithful source of strength.  Looking back I know He was with me each step of the way.  Through my caregiving experience the Lord wanted me to learn reliance on Him alone. He wanted me to grow in my love for Him. He also wanted me to learn that I needed to trust Him, because He would never ever fail me. I could then and can now lean on the Lord because of His promises in His Holy Word and because He has never failed me in the past. Yes, He has never failed me yet!

The song “He’s Never Failed Me Yet” is a blessing to me. Click on the link below, and listen to the woman singing this song. It will be a blessing to you. Remember dear Christian caregiver, no matter how stressed you may feel God has never failed you yet. God will also never leave you in the days ahead.

Monday, August 20, 2012

His Faithfulness

It was August 24, 2010. It was my birthday. Family was over to celebrate that night. Earlier in the day we had received a mobility chair for Wayne, my husband. It was perhaps a sign of things to come. Wayne’s declines came fast and furious in the next four months, and the emotional anguish and stress proved heavy during that time.

Something else happened on the memorable day in August, however. One of my family members called to me to come outside to look at a beautiful rainbow that had appeared in the sky. That rainbow was indeed awesome! I had not ever remembered seeing such a beautiful and full rainbow across the whole sky like that rainbow.

That rainbow that day felt like a special birthday present to me from God Himself. It was a reminder to me of the faithfulness of my God, a God who said to me and continues to say to me, “Never will I leave you never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b in the Bible)

God has indeed proven Himself faithful in those months since that August day in 2010. The next few months in 2010 as I have alluded to before were very stressful and discouraging as my husband’s health deteriorated at an alarming rate. God provided strength and resources all along the way, however. Wayne entered heaven on January 2, 2011. He was free from the body in which he had been trapped and could now enjoy the Lord’s presence forever. For me it was the beginning of a difficult grief journey. Through it all, however, the Lord has taught me so much about His faithfulness and my need to be dependent on Him. It has also deepened my relationship with Him and made me a more compassionate person. I do not know if there will be another rainbow on my birthday this year, but I do know that my Lord will always be faithful to me.

Dear Christian caregiver, God never promises to give us a life without problems and trials. Caregiving for someone with a serious illness is one of life’s deepest trials. I know this is true, because I walked that path. God, however, has promised to walk with us through life’s heartaches. He has promised to be faithful. Look for His wonders, dear caregiver. Rest in His faithfulness.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Remember the Love

One day in August of 2010 a few months before my husband’s death and in the midst of the chaos of caregiving I was having a good day. The weather was beautiful and free of all the heat and humidity we had been experiencing. Secondly, my husband was having a good day, and he had experienced a good therapy session. Finally, I had just finished reading some letters that my husband, Wayne, and I had written to each other in 1970 and 1971 before we were married.

Wayne and I met and dated from April of 1970 to the end of the school year, and then we dated again in the next school year until our marriage on July 30, 1971 (I was a teacher then). I went home to my parent’s house during the summers. He also went to summer camp for the Army Reserves both summers. The first summer I also spent 6 weeks involved in a summer mission program, and the second summer I was at my parent’s home preparing for our wedding in my home town and state while he was getting things squared away in WI for our first home.

On that particular August day I was inspired to read our love letters which we had written to each other those two summers when we were separated while dating. It proved a real joy to me to reread those letters that day, and I found myself smiling often.

Those letters reminded me that the first summer Wayne was more sure of his feelings for me than I was for him. I knew I liked him, but I needed to be sure about love and marriage. The next summer when we were corresponding we were engaged, and both of us were sure of our love for each other. It was fun to reread about our young love.

I thought that rereading these old letters might make me feel a little sad thinking back to those days and comparing it with the life we were now living dealing with Wayne’s neurological condition. I guess it did a little. We had matured so much since those early days, however, and I was glad for that growth in maturity. I actually probably felt more sad about no longer being able to do some of the fun things we had done together during our “empty nest” years.

So reading those letters put a smile on my face that day. It reminded me of what was, and it reminded me of the beginning of our love. I love reading inspirational romance books (Christian romance books) as a way to relax. Reading these letters was a little like that except it was my story. That day I had a smile on my face.

Dear Christian caregiver, terminal disease can change a relationship with a caregiver and his or loved ones who are ill. Take time often to remember the love that was and still exists. It will lighten the load.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Heartaches and Hope

I was a caregiver for my husband, Wayne, for four and a half years. As I have mentioned before he had a devastating and fast moving rare neurological disease called multiple systems atrophy type c. The last couple years of his life in particular were very difficult.

Through various points in his illness we tried physical therapy. This would seem to help for awhile on a limited basis, but the illness was so powerful that it finally won the battle. Also often while we would be doing therapy Wayne would seem to perk up initially that day, but then he would be so wiped out that all he would do the next day was sleep . Often the transfers were also especially difficult the next day.

In August of 2010 I wrote the following: “So has our life been reduced to therapy three time a week and sleep days in between to recover? It gets a little discouraging. I am trying to remember the blessings tonight, and there are many. I can’t help but feel a little discouraged tonight, however. I don’t think I could handle this, if I did not have my Lord on my side and holding my future. I know there is purpose in all this even though it is sometimes hard to see”

Transfers were also often difficult on other days. He might have a relatively good day one day and a very difficult day the next. One day in August of 2010 I also wrote the following: “I tried to get him to transfer to his recliner chair which is much safer, as it goes way back. Well, that was an ordeal! When he gets really tired, he does not respond to gentle prompts, and I basically had to drag him into the recliner chair. I was afraid he might slip on to the floor. After I got him into the recliner he slept a couple hours plus and was a little better tonight, but he was still spacey.”

About a year and a half before Wayne’s death I also had to begin to thicken Wayne’s liquids. We discovered that Wayne now had to have all of his liquids thickened to nectar consistency to help prevent things from slipping down too fast and getting into his wind pipe and/or lungs. Wayne’s problem was not that he couldn’t swallow, but that liquids sometimes went down too quickly before the flap closed to his wind pipe.

My husband at one time loved to work on the computer. Hoping it would help him I bought a big keys keyboard, but even that did not help him. The disease slowly robbed him of everything he had loved in the past.

When one has a disability and disease like my husband had it changes everything. This was especially clear to me on our last wedding anniversary together. Past years we would have tried to go somewhere special to eat for our anniversary. That year I ordered at a fast food place, and we ate in the car. Because of my husband’s issues and so I can get some sleep, we also each went to our separate beds that night. So our anniversary seemed somewhat symbolic of what was now so different in our relationship. We both loved each other, but it seemed so different from the husband-wife relationship we had once enjoyed.

Yes, there were moments of enjoyment yet during those years. We enjoyed spending time with our children and our grandchildren. We also enjoyed a couple long weekend trips with my siblings, but even those moments were overshadowed to some extent with his disability. These experiences were a wonderful reprieve, but when one returned home reality set in again with full force. There were so many issues with Wayne’s disease that made life a constant struggle.

Living those caregiving years was very difficult. Remembering them also is difficult. Through all the heartache, however, I learned that my hope and help could only be found in the Lord. He was and is a faithful God. Whatever your heartaches turn to the Lord, dear caregiver.