A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Day We Were Called To Step Up

     Life is full of changes.  I'm getting better with change, but I still don't like it, and I still have a hard time with it.  Change is even harder for me during the fall/winter months, as Seasonal Affective Disorder does affect me, no matter how many steps I take to prevent it and make it better.  We have been married for 15 months, and our first major life change as a married couple, began on September 26th, 2012, just 18 days ago.

"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts."
Arnold Bennett

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."
Alan Watts

"The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance."
Nathaniel Branden

  My Mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2000 (2 months after my Dad, her Husband, passed away).  She has been battling this disease for almost 13 years.  She continues to work full time on her feet while receiving daily treatments.  My Mom turned 60 this Summer.  I'm thankful she has her Husband Don of 11 years, to care for her.  Jonathan's Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer August of 2010, but we weren't made aware of it until March of 2011.  Jonathan's Dad turned 67 this Summer.  I hate cancer.  It sucks!  Even more, I hate that the fact that the word cancer doesn't really phase me anymore because I've heard it SO much over the years in regards to family and friends. 

The newly married couple with my Mom 7/8/2011

Jonathan & his Dad Father's Day 2012

Me & my FIL Father's Day 2012

   Jonathan's Dad was hospitalized for approx 6 days before Father's Day of this year.  He was hospitalized again for approx 8 days in August.  We didn't find out until that time, that when he was first diagnosed, he already had stage 4 cancer.  When he left the hospital in August, he went to live with his daughter in Elkhart.  On September 26th, 2012, Jonathan got a call from a nurse at Elkhart General Hospital asking him to call her back in regards to his Dad.  We were of course concerned about Keith, but it also struck us as odd that Jonathan got the call, since Jonathan's Sister who lives in Elkhart was the contact person for the hospital.  To make a long (and extremely sad and complicated) story short, Jonathan's Dad's living situation suddenly changed.  We had no clue!  From the moment we arrived at the hospital that Wednesday evening, we knew we would need to step up to the plate and be there for Keith.  He had been living in his house for a week with no utilities.  He had lost 30 lbs since we saw him last. He needed us more now than ever.  We are the only 2 people he has who live in the area.  From that day forward, Jonathan became the contact person for the hospital. 

     During Keith's hospital stay, Jonathan worked with the Social Worker to determine where Keith would go after he was released.  Jonathan has learned so much about the ins and outs of Medicare and Medicaid.  Fun stuff!  NOT!  Keith was hospitalized for 9 days.  During his hospital stay Jonathan and I searched his truck and house for necessary paperwork to get him applied for medicaid.  It was then that we became aware of the horrendous conditions he had been living in the past week.  We were determined to never ever ever let him live there again, even if he needed to come live with us.  We had planned to go away to a bed and breakfast for the weekend of Oct 5th/6th, but cancelled the Tuesday before.  We knew we needed to be there for Keith. 

     Monday, October 1st, Jonathan stayed home because he caught the cold I had.  I decided that instead of going to Bible class at church, that I would go to visit Keith, because he needed me.  I am SO thankful God lead me to make the right choice. I didn't know until I got to his room that evening, that he had almost passed away overnight.  Keith told me that evening that he "asked Jesus to accept him today" and said "I hope He can forgive me!".  I told him that "He already has".  I also asked if I could pray with him before I left.  Wow!  I will never forget that evening as long as I live!  It was very special!  God certainly put me in the right place at the right time! :)

     It's been an emotional and exhausting 18 days for us.  Jonathan has been using most of his breaks/lunches at work to take care of getting his Dad applied for medicaid, getting him into a nursing home, etc.  The hospital released Keith on Friday, October 5th, 2012.  They transported him to a nursing home.  He is not well enough to live anywhere else.  We are both SO thankful to Jonathan's Sister Sandy and her family who were in town when he was transferred to the nursing home, and helped him get settled, and made sure he got the things he needed from the store.  It made us be able to focus better at work, knowing Keith had them to help him with this transition.  We are convinced Keith was well enough to leave the hospital because Sandy, Joel, and their 3 boys came to town to see him.  He needed to go to the Nursing Home. We both work full time and would not be able to be here to give him the 24 hour care he needs.  After coordinating it and finding wonderful people who were willing to help Notarize and Witness for us, Jonathan's Dad made him his Power Of Attorney on Wednesday.  This is a huge responsibility!  But one that my Husband knew he had to take on.  I am so proud of him for taking on this responsibility.  God truly has called us to serve Keith. 

     I found the following information on this website in regards to what being a POA entails: http://www.sbshlaw.com.

"It is always a good idea to discuss your expectations and wishes with whomever you plan to name in this important document, before you sign it. First of all, that person is going to have a lot of responsibility in the event of your incapacity. They may be responsible to write your checks, pay your bills, balance your accounts, manage your investments and file your tax returns among other things. It’s not so much an honor to be named in a durable power of attorney document as it is an immense responsibility."

     Yes, we both had full time jobs, and we both have our apartment to keep up, but we don't have a house, we don't have kids, we were planning on going to Hawaii in February, but we didn't have any HUGE responsibilities.  Our life has changed.  That is ok.  We will have the rest of our lives (God willing) to travel, etc.  But the important thing is that we are here for our parents when they need us.  Now is one of those times.  Keith needs us more than anyone right now.  He is adjusting to the nursing home.  We live in South Bend, and it is a good 35 minute drive for us to get to the nursing home.  Our goal is to go 2-3 times a week to visit him.  We want him to know that he is not alone.
We haven't really had much time to focus on each other, but we realize this needs to be a priority in our lives.  If we don't take care of ourselves and spend time together, we won't be any good for Keith.  I found the following information on this website:  http://life.familyeducation.com:
"Praise your spouse often when he or she is dealing with an aging parent. Let him or her know how difficult it is and how well he or she is managing things. Your praise will go a long way when your spouse is handling such an emotional issue. It's especially important to keep your relationship with each other strong. You might be feeling overwhelmed by time and energy commitments to a parent, but don't forget each other. Keep doing nice things for each other, treating each other nicely, and spending time together. Even if you cannot spend as much time together as you used to, make every effort to spend at least a reasonable amount of regular time together. You will best be able to support each other if you continue investing in the relationship."
     We want to put God first, our relationship second, Keith 3rd, but we also have jobs that we need to keep! :)  Yes, we won't be able to spend as much time together as we did before, but we are choosing to make it a priority in regards to our "New Normal".  Jonathan and I are incredibly blessed to have each other for help, support and encouragement during this difficult and challenging time.

     Keith asked Jonathan the other day if he could read the Bible with him.  That, my friends, makes all of this crap worth while! :)  We don't know how many days Keith has left on this earth, but we are convinced that God called us to serve Keith in this capacity right now.  I have to remember that God is in control of Keith's life, here and in heaven, and that I can do my best, but need to let go and let God. 

Please keep us all in your prayers, especially Keith!  Please pray that we will remain strong and will serve Keith in the way that God has called us to serve him.  Thank you!  :)

"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."  James 1:12