Deciding to Die

I haven’t posted about Mom lately much. It’s an up and down situation, and Mom never does what the doctors expect. Several people have asked me lately for an update, so here goes.

Mom has Leukemia, and she is on palliative care–which means that her only treatment is transfusions. Mom’s been getting platelets once a week and a blood transfusion every other week for a while. Just lately, her need for transfusions are quickening. The past few weeks she has had an upper respiratory infection which is always a little alarming since she is neutropenic (she doesn’t have much immunity to fight infection). Her chest cold worsened, but her X-ray showed no pneumonia yet. The doctor treated her for pneumonia anyways, and she is getting better. Mom has to fight hard to live. She gets her blood counts check twice a week, sees a cancer doctor (who is monitoring her transfusions) once a week, and sees her palliative care doctor every two weeks. She is meticulous with keeping her own records, and she is proactive with the doctors. She pushes herself to stay independent, and she tries hard to give her situation daily to God. She is at peace with whatever happens, but she still wants to live. Eventually, the transfusions she gets will no longer last long enough to be helpful.

Last week, she called me to tell me about her palliative care appointment. The palliative care doctors are a team, and it is a pre-hospice step you can take if you desire no more treatment except a few things to keep you comfortable. Palliative care takes a different approach as the care is more care and less of a battle. Comfort and quality of life is more important than beating a disease. Mom decided a while back to only get transfusions. Once she stops these transfusions, she will be in hospice care.

At this latest appointment, Mom and the doctors discussed the next step (stopping transfusions and hospice) and what that would be like for her. Her bone marrow just doesn’t work like it should (producing white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets). Once she stops transfusions, she will not be able to provide her body with enough platelets. Without platelets, bleeding can occur anywhere in the body and from the slightest injury. So they told her she needs to be sure she is ready for the end when she stops getting transfusions. What I love about the palliative care doctors is they encourage Mom to pray about decisions, they pray with her if she wants, and they take as much time with her as she needs. She feels truly cared about when she leaves. That is important to everyone, but especially when you are in a stressful situation.

Her decisions are not easy, and she is still independent. She has energy most days to do a few things and get out some. She does a lot considering her disease, and we all understand that God has purpose for her. I was talking with her about the next step and I said, “You know, this stopping the transfusions decision: it’s like removing your own life support.” She agreed. It’s a strange place to be in. It’s like deciding to die. But, all through this, the doctors have said we just don’t know how she will respond because everyone is different and we are not in control.

Every part of my brain tries to piece this situation together at times. We all want a timeline. We want to know what is next. We want some piece of information we can hold onto so that we feel a bit of control. Why is this so important? Am I not always at peace when my hand is open instead of clenched tight? There are few things I can truly control, and I believe God calls us to responsibility and integrity in those things. The rest or really all should be laid out with hands open, lifted high in praise. God is really the Truth, the Love that I adore, and I trust in faith that God desires true goodness for us.

As I stumble through this situation, stages of grief cross my mind. I consider what Jesus did when He really did decide to die. Jesus was and is in control of every situation. Even Jesus trusted God the Father and yielded His will to God’s will. I remember Jesus’ grief. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and He wept over the decision to yield…obedient even to death. Jesus knew God’s plan was for everyone’s benefit. Jesus knew that God’s great plan was about Love…and that if we go our own way we turn to the way of wreckage and destruction or just plain apathy and depression which is hell in itself, right?

So, Mom yields. She gives way for God’s will and waits for His leading. She says she is waiting for peace, and she is grateful for the living now.

I pray for yielding-ness in my own heart–always to give way for God. I know that God, my creator and love, has a way that is woven just for me and just for you.  I turn around in my life and see how this Will has come to pass (even from my own wreckage), and I am filled with joy. Perhaps today, you would consider yielding with me?

This joy…it will come if we are willing to die. Die to our will. Die to our selfishness. Die to our plans.

I wonder if we (the church) all gave way for God to work and weave and love through our lives:

What that might make of this world that so desperately needs him?

Show me Your way O Lord

Teach me Your path, Holy One

Lead me in Truth, the Source of salvation,

I wait for Thee, I wait for Thee.

I wait, I wait,

Amen.

This is a Psalm (25)/prayer we used to sing in the service at our church when we lived in Waco. Not sure who to give credit to for it, but I sing it often in prayer.

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10 thoughts on “Deciding to Die

  1. Katie, I am so sorry that your mother and your family is going through this. Thank you for sharing your faith so beautifully and gently challenging us to yield ourselves to God’s will.
    Isaiah 55: 8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways
    And My thoughts than your thoughts.

  2. Can totally relate to the difficulty in sitting before the keyboard and transferring those things from your heart to the monitor. I was wondering if I could feature your story on my blog sometime.

  3. Hi Katie. I just came over to your blog from “A Holy Experience.” Thank you for sharing so honestly about the struggles you and your family are going through. I will be praying for your mom and your family as you slowly make your way forward through the clouded sky. I am inspired to hear of how faithfully you and you mom trust that the ground is firm and even below you, even though your vision of what is ahead is limited. As someone who just recently entered remission from Lymphoma there are many times when I let my fears and worries about the future get the best of me, wanting desperately to control or at least know what is to come. Thank you for reminding me of the need to yield my heart and strive to align my will with Gods. I needed to hear this today.

  4. Katie…love that name! Just stopped over from Ann’s, and here, my heart is broken for you and your family. Just offering this little life to pray for your mom, and all that you are going through. Yes. God IS good. He IS faithful. May your heart and life be truly changed by His precious life woven into yours. How we need Him! And each other! Thank you so much for sharing.
    Love. Yes. Love.
    Bernadette

  5. Katie, you wrote: “This joy…it will come if we are willing to die. Die to our will. Die to our selfishness. Die to our plans. I wonder if we (the church) all gave way for God to work and weave and love through our lives: What that might make of this world that so desperately needs him?” Your mom’s life is already leaving a legacy, as I am now challenged to live willing to die. Thank you for the inspiration, and thank you for sharing your mother with me.

    Cristal

  6. Pingback: Counting a Wonderful Life « alwayssimplybegin

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