Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Parkinson's is an elusive disease. No two patients are alike. Once you think you understand the symptoms or that you have it under control with medication, something changes. Then there are the contributing factors like stress, change, stress, weather, stress. Try as you might to eliminate or reduce the stress, it's still there. What makes it worse is that the stress in Tom's life is caused by those things in our marriage that have always been his responsibility--anything to do with business, finance, insurance, taxes. You can imagine how much those things have come into play with a move, the purchase of a house, the sale of another and income tax time. Believe me, I have learned a lot in the last few months! But, the stress is still present and it has contributed to daily (sometimes more than once a day) periods of extreme nervousness for Tom. Such times make the classic Parkinson's appear and he looks and acts as if he has had no medicine at all. He has difficulty getting up and down, he needs help dressing and his voice drops to a level that can hardly be heard. This started on a regular basis in February and has continued to get worse. Finally, yesterday the nurse called to check on us and when I told her that the weekend had not been good, she said for us to come in today.

The outcome of the visit is that he has another medication change, he will have another MRI to check for any physical changes since the last, he was referred to a GI specialist to follow up on the problems he has had with weight loss and his colon last summer and we are going to Vanderbilt to see if he is a candidate for Deep Brain Stimulation. I think that is done after every thing else has been tried with medication. We're not giving up on the medication, rather getting an opinion in case he needs to go that route later on. Our calendar for the next six weeks suddenly filled up with medical appointments. We had already commented shortly after we arrived in Tennessee that our life seemed to be regulated by the medical appointments we had to keep. We laughed.

Tom is best when I am where he is--not just in the same house, but the same room. I am trying to strike a balance where I can do what he needs/wants and still not feel smothered. Once, during my second course of chemotherapy when Tom was waiting on me hand and foot, I said to him, "We certainly are getting a lot of mileage out of that vow, 'in sickness and in health.'" We laughed. The vow is still being exercised, only the shoe is on the other foot. In Ben Johnsons's little booklet on prayer, Adventure in Prayer, one of his suggested parts of daily prayer is to reaffirm the vows you have taken. Remember what was promised when you joined the church, when you became an officer or other leader, what you promised when you had your children baptized and the vows you made when you were married. Think about promising, vowing before God that you would love, honor and cherish your partner. What does that mean? If you've been married ten, twenty or even forty years can you love your spouse more, honor him/her more, do you cherish your spouse? Thinking on those vows have made me a better wife, but they also remind me of where I fall short. Tom has been and will always be God's gift to me. With God's help we will continue to exercise and keep those vows, each in the ways we can. And we will continue to laugh.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hello out there in "Blogger Land." My children were good enough to create this site last fall to keep friends and family posted on our ups and downs, comings and goings etc. I never read anything they had written until about the first of December and I was both amazed by their creativity and touched by the depth of their emotions. Since the last blog was posted in December they have encouraged me, along with some of you, to continue with the site. Marty posted an update last Saturday giving a thumbnail sketch of what life has been like for us since moving and I thought, "I can do this."

Moving was not easy. Well, the physical move was great because we were helped by so many dear friends who made it possible. Flying on Thanksgiving day proved to be a good choice, because flights were not full and the airports were not quite as crowed as they usually are. Tom and I were a sight in our side by side wheel chairs being pushed from gate to gate. He tried to get the attendants to race, but they were much too reserved for that. We stayed with Tommy and family for three weeks while we slowly got enough ready in our house so we could live here. The grandchildren had a hard time getting used to the fact that we weren't going back to the airport to leave again. The hard part of the move was leaving our church family, dear friends who have taken us into their hearts and lives and showed us unconditional love and care. It was hard to leave ministry as I have known it. Many times I asked God, "Could you just tell me why you moved us all the way to California, changed our lives completely, gave me a ministry I loved, blessed us with such wonderful friends, then moved us back across the country to do nothing?" Day by day He is answering that question with "Be patient, my child, and most of all be obedient. I am letting you know."

A visit to the oncologist earlier this week was good--the cancer is still in remission. Praise God! We were first given the good news in December and have waited a little apprehensively for the return visit this month. I couldn't help but wonder if the doctor had made a mistake. After all, he was a new doctor and didn't know my case as well as the doctor I had been with for the past four years. The prognosis given in May and repeated in November was not hopeful--"except for a miracle," he said. Why should I expect a miracle?

I took my own advice. For years I have been repeating advice given me by a special pastor friend about reading the Psalms on a daily basis. They are for me a spiritual staple, a food that no Christian should be without because they teach the attributes of God better than any one book of the Bible. They also are written from the heart as the writers talk to God about their innermost struggles and greatest joys. Reading and praying the Psalms once again has given me the most complete confidence in God that I have ever known. With that confidence has come renewed joy and the ability to see the blessings of every day. The question now is, "Why should I not expect a miracle?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Momma's ca125 is down. Further than it was in November. It has dropped to 11.

My ca125 could be an 11. Yours could too. Eleven is the ca125 of a healthy woman. A woman who does not have ovarian cancer.

She does not have to go back to the oncologist until June.

We are breathing extra deeply tonight and feeling especially grateful.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

You are not alone in checking back. I still click over in the hopes that Momma has started writing. She is a woman with things to say. Sometimes important things, sometimes funny things, and sometimes just interesting things. My thought was that Tommy and I would keep this blog so that you could keep up with Margaret and Tom. My hope was that one day she would take over and write for herself. That may or may not happen. She has her hands full.

The house is still unsettled. The Suttle women have this illness in which they inadvertently collect several sets of dishes that they could never dream of parting with. Momma stores those dishes in a big beautiful wardrobe which was broken in the move. For months now, she has been waiting for that piece to be repaired so that she can finish unpacking.

Her sinuses are busy welcoming her back to the South. I'm pushing Flonase. Anyone with other or better ideas, please send them along to her. We would like for the lady who kicks cancer in the butt to not be overpowered by sinus problems.

Other than that though, there are signs of settling in. Momma and Daddy are attending First Presbyterian with Tommy and his family. They usually make it to the brown bag Bible study that Tommy leads during the week as well. I would like to be a fly on the wall and watch Momma and Tommy in this setting.

They have ordered living room furniture. Momma has gotten a driver's license and Daddy has gotten a identification card.

Friends from Jackson, Mississippi, have driven up to see them, and Momma's voice lights up right through the phone when she talks about it.

Things are - surprisingly normal.

The biggest change in my opinion is in Daddy. Tommy and I found a stressed, anxious, angry, and frightened man in California. Only a few of you have seen him like that. I'm am thankful for that, because it is so not him.

Now, Daddy is happy. He wants to get out and do things. He is sleeping better.

He eats.

No longer is he the man who looks like he will blow away in the next wind. He has gained about 30 pounds by my last check, and he looks and feels so much better.

Momma will go back to the doctor this month. I will post a report here when I know something.

I know that many people love my Momma and Daddy. I know why they do. This blog, for me, is just a way to say thank you for that. I'm not the preacher of the family. I'm the bearer of news. Hopefully good news.

And who knows? If enough of you give an encouraging word, maybe you might just hear from Momma, the Reverand Mother, the Silver Fox, Pastor Margaret, your friend. Maybe.