Search This Blog

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas Memories to Treasure


Before the lights on the Christmas tree go off for another year, I'm taking a moment or two to reflect on the memories that we've made over the festive period.
 
 We had a very special time at home with our family. My son and daughter, Jay and Bek cooked a most beautiful and extravagant meal for us all at lunch time. They prepared an amazing array of vegetable dishes and various side dishes and sauces, along with roast turkey (contributed by my parents), followed by a selection of desserts (provided by my sister). Her Bailey's Cheesecake was a hit, as usual, and the wine flowed freely all day and into the evening thanks to Auntie B.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Everyone did everything they could to ensure that the day was enjoyable and stress-free for Suzie, and as restful and relaxing as possible for me, not least my precious niece who always makes me feel very special and loved! We are incredibly blessed to be part of such an amazing and caring family, and we thank God for each one of them. 

 
Suzie's new wine glass!
 
I have to say Suzie coped remarkably well with having 10 people in the house and I think she enjoyed the diversion from our usual routine. She had a lie down late morning (as she usually does these days) but then stayed in the thick of it until bed time. She didn't even have her usual afternoon nap.... I think she was afraid she might miss out on something! We shared gifts with each other, and Bek and Jay gave Suzie, amongst other things, a festive glass for her wine which has an integral straw! (See photo)
 
 
We all enjoyed a lovely day of fun and togetherness, with a few light-hearted games and my annual music quiz that has become a family tradition. My 'soon to be' brother-in-law impressed us all by his comprehensive knowledge of Abba music, and, as usual, my efforts to include some modern music fell short by about 20 years!!  
Precious memories were made, and will be treasured for ever. God is good. No matter what we may face as we continue along this journey, we can hold on to these beautiful memories and we can count our many blessings.
 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Looking back, and looking forwards....

Looking back....
It was a year ago tonight that concerns over Suzie's health stepped up a gear, and the events that subsequently unfolded made us realise our lives had changed forever. When we went to bed on December 15th 2012 we could never have imagined what the ensuing days, weeks and months would have in store for us. Throughout the long hours of that sleepless night that I'd spent trying to comfort Suzie while she was awake, and listening to her every breath during the brief and sporadic moments that she slept, I had no idea that just a few hours later we would be in hospital facing the heart-breaking realisation of just how seriously ill she really was. That night seems like a lifetime ago now.
During the 12 months since then Suzie and I have experienced so much. We have faced pain, grief and fear of a magnitude that we would not have thought possible. We have been through tunnels of utter darkness and despair. We have learned a great deal about ourselves, our friendships and how our faith in a loving God stands up in the face of such extreme testing. We have lost so much of what our life used to be, and yet, what we still have left is deeper, stronger and more precious than ever before. 
Suzie has mastered her iPad, which has become her link with the outside world, especially on the days when we can't get out. Every morning she reads the news on it, she plays word games with friends, she keeps in touch through emails, she uses it to get her daily Bible readings, to reminisce her way through all our photos, and to type her life story. She 'socialises' every day with her friends via Facebook, which has become a lifeline enabling her to remain 'connected' with people. This is particularly vital now that she is no longer able to converse on the phone. Many friendships have been renewed and enriched by this regular contact and it has greatly reduced the sense of isolation that her illness would otherwise have caused. She just loves it when friends 'Like' my status updates and photos of her (and Millie!) - Suzie embracing technology.... Who would have thought it??!!
I've also learnt new skills. I've learnt how to push a wheelchair around the supermarket with a pack of toilet rolls under one arm and a carton of milk under the other because they won't fit in the basket; I've learnt how to crush pills without scattering most of the resulting powder all over the worktop; and I now know exactly what to do with a denture plate and a tube of polygrip!! (I'm sure that skill will come in handy for me one day!!)

Looking forwards....
So, as we rapidly approach another Christmas, and as this year draws to a close, we can't help but wonder what the next year has in store for us. We've seen so much evidence of God's hand in our lives and His provision for our needs that we have every reason to trust in His faithfulness in the future. Our next major need is the provision of full wheelchair access to and from our front door. We are awaiting assessment by our local authorities, but we have confidence that this provision will be made before it becomes essential. 
Suzie's breathing continues to cause concern, but we have been assured that there is no immediate danger, although, in due course, the fluid that is re-accumulating in her chest will need to be dealt with. However, we will face that when the time comes. Her abilities continue to diminish so we constantly adapt the way in which we tackle everyday tasks accordingly. We work hard at her physio regime every morning to maintain as much of her strength as we can for as long as possible. Our nights are often disturbed and disrupted, but Suzie is learning to accept the fact that she may need to sleep more in the day time. Although I'm unable to sleep during the day myself, I am learning the importance of trying to put my feet up and do something relaxing when Suzie is sleeping. On our good days we will continue to get out and about when we can and to welcome visitors into our home.
We are extremely grateful for the valuable help and support that we receive from family and friends and from our contact with the team at Rowcroft Hospice, one of whom is due to visit us this coming week. Her visits are very precious to us and it's reassuring to know that we are forging this bond now, so that when the time comes that we may need more intensive help, we will already be familiar with this wonderful team. Many of our friends already know that we have sent mostly email Christmas greetings this year instead of traditional cards and we've donated the money we saved to support the work of this amazing charity. If you haven't yet seen our 'story' please take a look at our page and maybe you could consider making a small donation to help other people like Suzie.
If you could spare a moment to have a look please Click Here

So, right now, we look forward, God willing, to spending Christmas together at home this year; we look forward to the blessing of sharing this special time with such a loving and supportive family; we look forward to having a gorgeous meal cooked for us on Christmas Day by my wonderful kids, Bek and Jay; and we look forward to spending quality time with those we love so much. And now we would both like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas. Thank you for all your support.... for practical help, emails, messages of hope and, most of all, for your continued prayers. Suzie and I both send our heartfelt love to you all, and our sincere prayers for God's richest blessings to everyone reading this Blog. May the joy and hope of this Holy season bring each one of you closer to God's love, grace and perfect peace throughout the year ahead. This is my prayer for us all:
'May the humility of the shepherds,
the perseverance of the wise men,
the joy of the angels,
and the peace of the Christ-child
be God's gifts to us and to all people everywhere this Christmas time.
And may the blessing of the Christ-child be upon us always.'

Amen.

"Christ is born" © Nicky Davies

Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas is Coming......


December is upon us already and I'm pleased to say our Christmas preparations are well underway. All our Christmas shopping has been done (with a little help from the internet and from my wonderful sister!) and all plans for the Christmas Day catering are safely in the hands of my very talented kids, Bek and Jay, who cooked such a fantastic meal last year that I think it has been unanimously adopted as a regular family tradition!!
 
Our Christmas Greetings this year have taken the form of an electronic Greeting Card and an appropriate donation to Rowcroft Hospice, the wonderful charity who continue to be our lifeline throughout the devastation of Suzie's illnesses. If you haven't yet viewed our page please do so at this link:
We extend these greetings to everyone who is reading our Blog.
A beautiful Crib Scene made by Suzie, Bek and Jay,
nearly 20 years ago, remains a Christmas favourite.
We've made a start on decorating the house and, as usual, Suzie is the artistic influence behind all of our decorations. She may not be able to place the decorations herself this year, but she is still able to direct my efforts and create a beautiful festive feel to our home. Without her I wouldn't have a clue how to arrange everything!








Amidst the preparations for this Holy season we continue to face the relentless medical issues that are never far away from our thoughts, with the increasing problem with Suzie's breathing giving particular cause for concern. Her latest chest x-ray and the overnight Oximetry test seemed to give encouraging results, but as her breathlessness continues to worsen it leaves us with the unanswered question of what else might be causing this. A phone call from our Doctor yesterday resulted in some unexpected blood tests being done today, to be followed by a consultation and examination tomorrow, in order to investigate other possible reasons why Suzie is getting so breathless. The Doctor has also prescribed some new medication in the form of analgesic patches in order to help manage Suzie's pain. We will start them tomorrow and we'll report back on the benefits, or otherwise, in due course.
 








Our hope and prayer is that the next few weeks will go smoothly and that there will be no unexpected traumas to deal with. We would like, more than anything, to be able to focus our hearts and minds on the true meaning of this Holy Season as we remember the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 
May this Christmas be a time of peace and God's blessing for us all. We value all the love and prayers that are being offered for us, and we also offer our love and prayers for all our family and friends, and for anyone who happens to stumble upon our blog. May you feel God's grace and love as a reality in your own life.