In Jan 2013 my life-partner and soul mate, Suzie, was diagnosed with MSA (Multiple System Atrophy), a rare, incurable Neurological illness. Only days earlier she had also been diagnosed with an equally rare cancer. Our lives were devastated and changed forever. But, through prayer and faith, we faced one day at a time, and I continue to do so without her. My desire is to offer insight, information, hope and encouragement to other people who face their own life changing illnesses or bereavement.
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Monday, 3 February 2014
The significance of a box of tissues....
A beautiful gift from a special friend.
Suzie needed some more tissues. I knew I would have to go and buy some and I would have to go into a supermarket to get the ones she likes. (Supermarkets are an ordeal I really struggle with, especially on my own, but that's another story). There's a particular type of tissues that Suzie likes.... They're strong, yet soft, and quite large, but come in a compact box, which is ideal for a cramped hospital locker. Any old tissues just wouldn't do.... Yesterday we had a visit from two very special friends who have been upholding us in prayer. They said that they hadn't known what to bring for Suzie but they wanted to bring a small gift that might be useful, and they pulled out of their bag a box of tissues.... Not just any box of tissues, but the exact brand, size and type that Suzie likes!
The true value of that seemingly insignificant gift went far beyond the value of the item itself. It gave us the most profound demonstration of how well God knows our needs, and how much He cares about every tiny detail of our situation. Of all the random gifts anyone could bring for Suzie, these two dear Christian friends had been led to the one and only thing that we'd already realised she actually needed, and they'd got the exact item that we wanted. To see such evidence of how God cares enough for us to produce a particular box of tissues when we need it gives us the most wonderful reassurance that we can trust in Him to care for us in all things, both great and small. How amazing is His love for those who trust Him!
Suzie's new friend, Smidge the Meerkat
We've had an eventful week. After the initial hold up it was all systems go this week.... CT scan, ultrasound scan, and the much needed chest drain. I have to say it was a huge ordeal for poor Suzie to go through. The Doctor who was in charge of the procedure warned us that there were various complications in Suzie's case that were making it much more difficult and complex than such a procedure would usually be. Even with the additional guidance of ultrasound imaging throughout, it took several attempts by two experienced Doctors to successfully complete the initial stage of this procedure, unavoidably causing Suzie a great deal of pain and trauma in the process. The tubes are now in place and will have to stay put for a few days until the fluid has cleared. Once that stage is reached Suzie will have more tests and scans to ascertain how successful it has been. One of the complications was that the fluid was randomly distributed in various areas of Sue's chest cavity. If all of these pockets of fluid are connected the hope is that all of the fluid will drain away via this drain. If not, the whole process will have to be repeated again this week. Please pray that this won't be necessary as Suzie is dreading the prospect of having to go through all that again.
Smidge and Thornley Bear, holding Suzie's precious cross
It's been a roller coaster ride this week and Suzie has given us a few scares. For a few days her breathing was really giving cause for concern and she was put on oxygen. Then, on Wednesday she didn't want to wake up. I'd got to the hospital just after 9am and she was sound asleep so I settled down in the chair and read the news on my iPad. About 10.30am Suzie was still asleep and the nurse in charge told me she wanted to try to wake her up just to make sure she was ok.... At that point it hadn't actually occurred to me that she might not be! Suzie sort of stirred but she was very disorientated and didn't know where she was. The nurse did a blood test and increased the frequency of her obs but there seemed to be no clinical reason for Sue to be so 'out of it'. I sat beside her all day and we had a visit from the Hospital Chaplain. She really was very poorly and there were moments during that day when I feared for our future. When I left that night I spent some time of quiet prayer in the Hospital Chapel before driving home. For the next couple of days Suzie was monitored very closely but no cause was ever established for her 'turn off' and eventually she became a bit brighter and more responsive. I think she was just physically and mentally utterly drained and exhausted.
So here we are on Sunday evening, looking back over the events of the last week or two, and looking ahead to a new week that is just beginning. We have seen many prayers answered and we have certainly moved forward on our journey.
By her side.... where else would I be??
There is much uncertainty about how this next week will pan out, but we are certain that the faithfulness of God's promise never to leave us nor forsake us will continue to hold true. We pray that God's love and grace will uphold us and that, eventually, we will be able to return home with the hope of another summer to enjoy together. We thank God for the love and prayers offered so freely by our family and friends who are constantly beside us all the way and without whom we would find this journey infinitely harder. We are also very grateful for the loving care we have both received from the staff at Torbay Hospital. They really are wonderful people who do a remarkable job.
Suzie and I have much to be thankful for, even amid the fear and pain. This unwanted journey has caused us to touch the lives of people whom we would never have met. Our prayer is that they will see in us a glimpse of God's love and peace. If we can make a difference to someone we meet along the way we will know that our pain has truly been transformed by the power of God for His divine purpose. What more could we ask!