Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Six

It’s Scary

Facing a chronic illness is a scary daily challenge for the person with the disease as well as the family and the caregiver. Through Jesus Christ, we can be strong and courageous. How can we do this?

We cannot do this by ourselves in our own strength. We are only able to do this in God’s power. We must remember that daily the Lord Jesus, our God, goes with the Christian. We need to remember He goes with us and is with us today.

Today’s Scripture tells us the Lord will not leave or forsake the Believer in Jesus Christ.

My Story

Late in my wife Benita’s battle with cancer, she suffered confusion and disorientation. It was mid-March. Only three months earlier her Melanoma Cancer had spread to the brain. She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of an egg. She had surgery. The tumor was removed. She had completed three weeks of radiation treatment in February. 

Following the treatments, she had a brain scan. No sign of cancer was detected. She and I had talked at length cherishing every moment. We could feel the sands in the hourglass of her life quickly running out. Daily and at times hourly I told her how much I loved her, how blessed I was to have her share life with me. 

We openly discussed how scary cancer was. Benita made me aware of her wish that if cancer recurred in the brain to not let the doctor do another surgery. She did not want to be operated on again. She did not want another brain surgery.

Our faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ was strong. Her Christian faith and trust in God were the strongest I have ever seen. And then the confusion and disorientation hit her like an express train. She did not know who she was, where she was, what date it was, what month it was and could not answer my rudimentary questions. I’m not a medical doctor, but I knew her situation was terrible, very horrible.

With the help of my children, I took Benita to the emergency room of the hospital where she had had the original tumor removed the previous December. I knew from the emergency rooms physicians’ initial responses and reactions this was serious. 

I was awake thirty-nine consecutive hours during this time. The ER doctors deferred talking to me about the details of a recurrence in the area of the original tumor. They left the difficult conversation with me to the brain surgeon. The surgeon was straightforward in his talk with me. The cancer had recurred with a massive blood clot. The operating room was available in fifteen minutes if I gave the okay. They needed an answer now. Time was critical.

I asked a few questions. I was told the surgery would only extend life two months on average. I was reminded of the recovery time for this type of surgery was six to nine months. It was pointed out that due to the location of the tumor that surgery may leave her totally blind, with the possible loss of speech, and unable to care for herself. Then I was told we need a decision. He said if you say no to the surgery, your choice cannot be reversed because of her critical nature. The other option was for her to go on hospice care. If I selected the hospice option, the doctor gave her days to weeks to live. He could not guarantee she would regain consciousness. 

I asked the doctor for ten minutes. I left the room and called two of our children. Our oldest child was with me. I did not ask for their opinion. I told them what was going on and that per their mother’s wishes we would not have surgery. I next called my wife’s sisters and told them the same. I returned to the intensive care unit and informed the doctor. He agreed with our choice. They started her on massive steroids to stop the swelling and on morphine for pain management. 

Within a few hours, she regained consciousness. A few hours later her brain function had returned where she realized where she was, what was going on including understanding she was going to die, Benita thanked me for honoring her wishes.

She was moved from ICU to a room to stabilize her. She then went to an inpatient hospice hospital for a week before being transported by ambulance to our home. Benita’s wish was to go home. Again, I was honoring what she wanted.

I was scared to death wondering how we would manage. Could I get her to and from the bathroom? Then it was could I get her on and off a potty chair? I worried about lifting and turning her in bed. I wondered how I would handle watching her die.

God was faithful.  We had a caring team of hospice nurses, her sisters, our children, and even me that managed to make it through the twenty-three days from when I took her to the emergency room until she passed away with family and friends surrounding her. I was holding her hand, had just kissed her goodbye and told her it was okay to go on to heaven when she took her last breath.

No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, God was there with us each step of the way. He went with us and did not forsake or fail us.

The Bible Says

Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV), “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Because Christians have God with them, they should be of good courage. The courage comes from their confident assurance in God. It is this certainty comes to abound as a result of their faith. This sure faith in Christ allows Christians to bravely face each day knowing through Him we shall have the ultimate victory. 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, please help our family to continue to be strong and courageous in the face of this illness. Help me as the caregiver to continue to trust in You and have faith in You.
  2. Lord, we ask for Your comfort. Help us to not fear or be in dread of the challenges we are living through. Help us to not grow weary. Thank you for letting us know it is the Lord our God who goes with us and that You will not leave us or forsake us.
  3. We pray our family and loved ones would confess faith in Jesus Christ where they too can experience the comfort available to Christians.

Applying The Verse To Receive God’s Hope For The Caregiver

  1. What challenges are you currently facing as a caregiver that has you scared and wondering if you can handle the problem? Have you turned this challenge over to God through prayer? Why not do that right now? 
  2. The verse is not positive thinking. It is not an if you believe it you can achieve approach. Instead, it is asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit to strengthen you. It is realizing the same God that created the universe, that knit you together in your mother’s womb at conception is there with His angels to lift you up, sustain you, and help meet your every need.
  3. Have you asked God for the needed courage to face today? Whatever the challenge you face as a caregiver, He is big enough to help you through the situation. 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Advertisements

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Five

My late wife, Benita Kepler. The photo was taken after she had been diagnosed with two cancers, both Stage 4.

Introductory Point

Learning to care for a loved one with a chronic illness includes discovering how to laugh. Our attitude is crucial when caring for a person with a chronic disease. Our view is also contagious, infectious.

The cheerfulness of mind does good like a medicine for the body. Our attitude contributes to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigor. Medical science tells us the red blood cells, most white blood cells, and platelets are produced in the bone marrow, the soft fatty tissue inside bone cavities. A poor spirit/attitude ‘drieth the bones’ and remember it is the bones which produce the needed cells.

We can learn a lot if we read our Bible.

My Story

Anyone who saw or knew my late wife Benita in her last three to five years would almost always comment on her smile. Her attitude would match the smile.

The July before she passed away the next April was one of the few times when I saw her spirit nearly broken. She shared with me a visit she had with the dermatologist. The young dermatologist told Miss Benita she was surprised she was continuing to work her day job. 

The physician stood facing my wife, looking her directly in the eyes. She had placed a hand on each of my wife’s shoulders to make sure she had her attention. She commented, “We, that is me and the rest of your medical team (the managing oncologist, surgical oncologist, primary care physician, gastroenterologist and the radiologist are all concerned that you don’t understand that you have Stage 4 Melanoma Cancer and Stage 4 Neuroendocrine Carcinoid. One of the other of these cancers is going to kill you. They are incurable.”

Benita told me that upset her said she took the lady doctor’s hands off her shoulders and told her. “I know I have cancer. I know without Providential intervention they will kill me. I am not just going to sit on my couch in my living room and wait to die. I work because I need the medical insurance and because when I work, I don’t think about cancer.”

“That had to be tough to hear,” I replied.

“Don’t patronize me. You know it was hard to hear even when I knew it.”

I nodded.

She added, “I told her that God had my days numbered. I was going to smile and keep my trust in God. It was my hope in Jesus that allowed me to smile, to have hope, and keep going.”

She hugged me and then thanked me for supporting her approach to handling the illness.

She lived about eighteen months longer than the doctor’s original projection of life expectancy. I am sure attitude added to both the quality of her life and the length of her life.

The Bible Says

Proverbs 17:22 (KJV),  “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

The attitude of the sick person is crucial when dealing with a chronic illness. Their cheerfulness of mind does good like a medicine for the body. Their mental approach contributes to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigor. Their outlook gives them hope. As caregivers, our attitude is equally critical. The one we’re caring for with catch our state of mind. Caregivers need more than a positive attitude. We need the joy of the Lord in our heart.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help us to enjoy the funny things that happen in life. Let our joyful attitude be caught by our loved one and other family members.
  2. Lord Jesus, help us to take life one day at a time. Allow us the ability to enjoy today instead of worrying about tomorrow.
  3. Almighty God, help our family and friends to not dwell on the seriousness of the illness, but rather help us to live life to the fullest as we know You hold the future of the loved one we are caring for and our future.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. How’s your attitude? Being down is normal. Allow the joy of the Lord to fill your heart and lift your mood.
  2. How’s your outlook? Remember, that in the Lord’s strength you can care for your loved one.
  3. How do you get a merry heart? You get one by knowing Christ as Savior. You get one by spending time in reading the Bible, being in fellowship with Christians, and you just ask the Lord through prayer to make your heart merry. For the Believer in Jesus Christ there is the ultimate destination of heaven and being with Jesus. That knowledge alone should fill your heart with joy.