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,
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.