Friday, September 30, 2011

My hubby, Terry
October 2002
California Redwood National Forest
2 years after his accident

I'm not really sure why, but for the past couple of months I've been spending a lot of my quiet time reflecting on the days following my husband's auto accident on April 13, 2000.

He had a multitude of injuries, both internally and externally. the most debilitating of which was a bi-lateral acetabular fracture.  The acetabulum is the area of the pelvic bone where the ball of the femur fits.  Both sides of his pelvis were broken numerous times.  He was placed in bi-lateral traction in order to keep his joints in proper alignment while the doctors decided what route to take in attempting to repair his injuries.

After the initial week, I was told his injuries were most likely not life threatening but that he most likely would never walk again.  I was so thankful to know that he would live that I completely ignored the news regarding his ability to walk.  On day 12 of his stay in TICU, a decision was made to attempt surgical repair of the left acetabulum, which was successful.  The right side, however, was much like a jigsaw puzzle with too many pieces to be manually repaired.  He would remain flat of his back and in traction on the right side for the next 3 1/2 months.

After being flat of his back for so long, his body had to relearn how to keep his blood pressure up when he sat upright.  His sense of direction was gone and he had to be retaught how to orient himself from a lying to a sitting position.  After those things were accomplished, he was finally able to try to stand.  If he could accomplish standing and taking even 3 steps, he would be moved to inpatient rehab to see how far he could go.  We were reminded that the ability to walk was most likely not attainable.

After several days of being raised to a standing position on a tilt table, he felt he was able to try to take a step.  As they stood him up, I watched in anguish as I saw the tears roll down his face and his grimace as the pain racked his body.  He would grit his teeth and refuse to give up.  It took a weeks worth of trying several times daily, but he did finally accomplish 5 steps with a lot of help from a team of physical therapists.

We were told we would be moving upstairs to the long term inpatient rehab unit over the following weekend.  Monday brought a new day with new goals and so much suffering I was afraid the pain alone would kill him.  When he stood for the first time at the parallel bars, the PT encouraged him to take only 5-6 steps.  He said "No, I'll walk the full length before I leave this room today".  I don't remember how many steps it was, but I remember the pain and suffering reflected on his face as he took each one. 

As I stood at the opposite end of the bars, he would look me in the face and say "Greater is He than is in me" and push forward.  If he became tired again or if the pain became unbearable, he would say "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".  It seemed like hours but he finally made it to me and his wheelchair.  He turned himself and collapsed into his chair as we both sobbed.  The entire room was cheering him on...PTs, patients, family members of other patients, everyone was cheering him on!

His PT ran to him and fell to the floor embracing me and him as we all cried together.  She told me to take him back to his room and give him a good hot shower and pain meds would be ordered and ready for him.  He spoke up immediately and said "No, I'm gonna walk back" and instructed me to take the chair back to the other end of the bars.  I did so as the PT begged him not to try it.  He would have none of it.

Again, with so much pain on his face that I feared a heart attack brought on by the pain, he made each step and quoted scriptures as he went.  He had a sciatic nerve injury which left him unable to lift his left leg.  He didn't yet have his brace, so he made that walk to and fro on the bars while dragging his left leg and physically planting it before each new step.

As I watched him, I was so acutely aware of some things:
1.  He was taking every step for me;
2.  Suffering is a motivator if you have the right attitude;
3.  The Lord is bigger than any struggle we face or any pain we may feel; and
4.  If anyone COULD walk again, it was going to be my husband!

Now that he has been at rest with our Lord for 32 months, I reflect on those lessons and realize just how true those observations were.  Terry didn't bring a wheelchair home, he walked into our front door with the assistance of a walker, which he soon traded for a cane and eventually was able to walk without an assistive device at most times. 

While I stood by his side and suffered every step of the way with him, the Lord was always there.  He held us up through our family and friends and sometimes even strangers.

Terry's suffering motivated me to love him more and to appreciate him more.  It motivated each of us to love our Lord more, to grow to know Him more intimately, to depend on Him for our every need.

And finally, yes Terry took every step for me.  Numerous times over the years, he said to me "Di, I would have quit if I hadn't known I had you.  I would have just lay in that bed and given up.  You are the reason I worked so hard.  Every day I asked the Lord to help me because I had to do it for you".

Do you know anyone who is suffering?  Keep in mind that suffering can be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.  Perhaps what they need in order to overcome is someone to walk alongside them and give them a motivation to move forward.  A brief visit to a hospital bedside, a card in the mail to encourage and uplift, a visit to pray with someone, a phone call to say "I'm coming over if that's ok with you.  What can I bring"?  Encouragement is so simple yet may mean the difference between someone giving up or moving forward.

Precious Father, please help me be a light of encouragement to all I see.  Help me be sensitive to your guidance as I meet the suffering day by day.  Allow me to be your instrument in bringing peace into lives of chaos.  In Jesus name......................AMEN.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daddy's Home!

Van Patterson McDonald
Nov. 4, 1932 - Sept. 20, 2011

One week ago my family and I said "See you later" to my Daddy.  He had suffered for many years with C.O.P.D. and had become very ill.  He had been in Hospice care since this past January.  We knew the time was soon, but it always seems to come before we are prepared.

Daddy's home going was so peaceful.  There was no gasping for breathe, not even very labored breathing.  He was peaceful right up until his last breath.  We had been so concerned about the time of his dying because the doctors had been very straight-forward about how hard the dying could be for someone with his illness.  We prayed that he would not suffer.  God answered our prayers and Daddy suffered very little as he left his mortal body behind and crossed into his eternal rest with the Lord.

As we stood at his bedside, we were sad; but more than that, we were happy for him because he now sits at the feet of our Lord and has joined Momma and our baby sister, as well as other family members who have gone on before him.  Perfect peace entered the room the minute the Lord came for him.  What a blessing to have been witness to that moment.

He was a precious Daddy, a loving husband to my Momma until the day she went home, a caring brother and a courageous saint who was dearly loved by his church.  He left a legacy of love for the Lord and his family.  We will miss him in the days that lie ahead, but we eagerly await that day when we will see him again. 

One of the most precious memories of this time will be my little 4 year old grand-niece who asked repeatedly to lie beside Papaw Mac in his bed.  We would lay her beside Daddy.  She would lay her head on his chest and reach her little arms up and around his neck and kiss his face.  She would say "I love you, Papaw Mac".  Even at the funeral home, she could not be calmed until she had kissed his face and told him she loved him.

Our entire family was in and out during the weekend prior to his passing.  We all spent time at his bedside and treasured the blessing of being there.  His youngest grandson is in AIT in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO and could not get leave to come home for the funeral.  His heart was broken and our hearts were broken for him.

We are now back to our 'normal life', whatever that is.  We move forward knowing Daddy is where his heart has longed to be since the day Momma left us.  He now can run up and down the streets of glory with as much air in his lungs when he stops as when he started.  That is precious to those of us who have witnessed his progressive illness taking him from us in small steps along the way.

We love you Daddy.  We will always miss you but we will see you again!

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Psalm 116:15  (KJV)