Saturday, April 30, 2011

30th April

It’s felt like a frustrating sort of day and I have to confess I’ve been a little ratty and lacking in patience though Jane sensibly put me straight! A list of domestic chores and then a queue of visitors through lunchtime brightened things up, and hey-ho we’ve finished the jigsaw. We’re not that bothered about the inevitable single missing piece… although I do keep looking under the sofa for it!  Jane remains as serene and in control as ever though and I can report that she had a good night’s sleep followed by quite a good day, she even finished her evening meal again.

Oh Lord we love you so much, you are everything to us. Help us to serve you, help us to honour your name and may our lives please you in every way.

Daniel 10:11-12 ‘And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling. Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.’ (NLT)

Friday, April 29, 2011

29th April

Today’s been a difficult day, not that Jane is particularly worse than before, although her condition has certainly not improved. It’s just the on-going slog is very tiring; it’s such hard work for Jane to do anything. Last night was not a good night so she’s off on the wrong foot before the day starts. But this evening she ate a complete small meal for the first time for ages… fish fingers, chips and beans!

A couple of days ago the well-known David Wilkerson died in a car accident. He was aged 79 and was well known for his addiction recovery programmes running in many countries. We’ve listened to messages from his church since visiting it in New York and quite by chance I stumbled upon this blog published the day he died. It’s very relevant to our situation so I’ve copied it below.

David Wilkerson April 27th 2011
To believe when all means fail is exceedingly pleasing to God and is most acceptable. Jesus said to Thomas, “You have believed because you have seen, but blessed are those that do believe and have not seen” (John 20:29).
Blessed are those who believe when there is no evidence of an answer to prayer—who trust beyond hope when all means have failed.
Someone has come to the place of hopelessness—the end of hope—the end of all means. A loved one is facing death and doctors give no hope. Death seems inevitable. Hope is gone. The miracle prayed for is not happening.
That is when Satan’s hordes come to attack your mind with fear, anger, overwhelming questions: “Where is your God now? You prayed until you had no tears left. You fasted. You stood on promises. You trusted.”
Blasphemous thoughts will be injected into your mind: “Prayer failed. Faith failed. Don’t quit on God—just do not trust him anymore. It doesn’t pay!”
Even questioning God’s existence will be injected into your mind. These have been the devices of Satan for centuries. Some of the godliest men and women who ever lived were under such demonic attacks.
To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights—and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, “I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident. It was no failure on your part. Hold fast. Let me embrace you in your hour of pain.”
Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail—his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

28th April

It’s been a relatively OK sort of day. Jane’s been fairly comfortable and we had a very pleasant afternoon together, nothing more than an increasingly addictive jigsaw though and she also had a very good night’s sleep, which has to be helpful. She’s now trying to eat much smaller meals multiple times a day which seems to be working but everything is still symptom management which although important is no real answer to Jane’s problem. How I long for God’s favour, releasing the healing power of heaven restoring us both to normal life. It’s so painful watching Jane struggling to move, she can walk barely 3 or 4 steps without succumbing to severe breathlessness and having to stop and rest for several minutes. Talking remains very difficult. And yet to look at she appears completely normal… ready to take on the world!

Psalm 13
‘O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
      How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
      with sorrow in my heart every day?
      How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
      Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
      Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love.
      I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
      because he is good to me.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

27th April

In one way it’s been a good day today as we had our eldest daughter visit for a couple of hours. Jane worked on our ‘Songs of Praise’ jigsaw with our grandchildren for much of the time… and they loved it. Our daughter trimmed a section of hedge and then picked rhubarb and made a crumble… and I loved that! But Jane is beginning to struggle with her condition rather more today. When she moves she can’t breathe properly and this starts her coughing, and this is causing her to wrench the muscles in her stomach. So now she’s finding eating quite difficult and although she is almost completely inactive and needs very little food this really is not good. Physically life is very difficult for Jane.

Lord will you breathe new life into Jane’s lungs, may she breathe freely once again and deliver her from cancer in every part of her body. May she rise up with renewed strength and health and my Lord will you restore her digestive system? Thank you Lord Jesus for your goodness.

Genesis 2:7 ‘Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

26th April

Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing, nothing is impossible for Thee! We used to sing this Christian chorus in the 80’s when everything was so simple and undemanding. Or was it? Raising four young children had it’s own challenges… I well remember the prayer battles as we nursed crying infants through the night, too young to tell us their problems yet they always settled in the end. One young child was a regular at casualty over years always with head injuries… following an emergency ambulance was not our idea of a perfect holiday on the Welsh coast, but after a specific prayer these events abruptly ended. And how do you deal with a teacher blaming learning difficulties on mollycoddling by elder sisters? Prayer led us to a private report diagnosing dyslexia! Having a large family and mostly a single income we prayed daily about finance and though always on a careful budget, we never ever went into debt and the basics of life were always there.

At the time each of these challenges and countless others seemed insurmountable in our own strength. We always shared our needs in prayer with the Lord and he always provided a solution… always. In one sense the situation we find ourselves in today is no different, although facing life’s ultimate challenge as Jane is, it feels a totally different ball game. Jane has a diagnosis of terminal cancer; her doctor says she has limited time left with only palliative care on offer. So we pray. And God answers. His answer to date is to grant Jane his peace. She has no fear of death and continues to engage with life as best as she can. She is inspirational. But we continue to ask for more, we are daring to ask God for a complete healing and full restoration. We know that he is able and that he loves Jane with a love we can never understand so if he determines that this is her time so be it. But until then I will do battle in continual prayer for her life.

Today has been another quiet day; Jane’s condition may even have very slightly improved. She certainly seems a little more alert and for the first time in many weeks she asked for her art-case and started drawing again. It’s hard to imagine that earlier this year she was planning to run art-workshops… that feels like a very distant dream.

Zechariah 8:6 ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.’ (NLT)

Monday, April 25, 2011

25th April

After the busyness of yesterday’s party today needed to be a slow day. So out came the jigsaw and with plenty of salmon left-over, lunch was easy. But Jane remains quite poorly as she continues to struggle with her breathing and almost any activity is completely exhausting causing a bout of coughing. Even talking can be quite problematic which is not at all good. She seems to sleep quite well though and overnight as she relaxes her breathing settles down to a more normal rhythm. We have to keep a hold of hope and prayer for healing seems to be the only prayer we make at the moment.

Lord please heal Jane, clear her lungs and help her to breathe again.

Matthew 7:7 ‘Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for’ (NLT)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

24th April

Easter Sunday, debatably the most important date in the Christian calendar… so what’s it all about then? Well the term Easter obviously derives from a pagan festival, nothing to do with Christianity and yet the church has appropriated it as a major celebration. Biblically I wonder if a more honest celebration would be a variation on the Passover Feast, designed as a remembrance of Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt; but what does the Bible say of remembering our deliverance from slavery to sin? All I can see is Jesus commanding us to ‘break bread’ saying “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me”, and also when talking of Passover he says ‘For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.’ So there is the command to remember our Lord by taking ‘Holy Communion’ and also an indication that the Passover celebration will continue into the future. How our celebration of Easter fits any of this I can’t really say! But it’s a wonderful time to enjoy family and certainly highlights the sacrifice of Christ and his subsequent rebirth.

And the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ heralds the answer to every human need. Victory over the power of sin, the devil, sickness, death itself and then that most wonderful of life’s treasures set before us… reconciliation with God himself. For sure we have something worth remembering!

So today’s been a really good day, all our children, together with their partners and our grandchildren, filling our home with youthful vigour and wonderful food! Although engagingly cheerful Jane’s core health remains basically unchanged and she is severely disabled with breathing difficulties. As we remember our Lord and all that he has done for us I pray that God would remember Jane and her need for healing today.

Matthew 27:50-54 ‘And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”’ (NIV)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

23rd April

A day of confinement, for Jane anyway. The past few days have been a little puzzling as overnight Jane’s breathing has stabilised quite nicely, and yet it seems that during each daytime she seems to struggle. Perhaps it’s something to do with relaxation but maybe the regional smog alerts are relevant to Jane’s condition… it’s not easy to get specific information about Derby’s current pollution levels. Anyway she’s choosing to take the advice and remain indoors to minimise risk of damaging her lungs further.

And now for the first time in decades we’re having fun with a thousand piece jigsaw trying to ignore the wonderful sunshine. Tomorrow we’re expecting 14 for lunch as all our children with their families are joining us… It’ll certainly be livelier than we’ve been for many weeks, but they’ve promised to provide everything necessary to make it happen so should be good!

Philippians 4:19 ‘And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.’ (NIV)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday 2011

Well today’s Good Friday a day chosen by the church to mark the greatest sacrifice ever made… the death of the Son of God giving of himself for the sin of the world, taking the punishment that we all deserve for our rebellion against God and our refusal to live life in a Godly way. Thank God that he has strengthened me enough to make a beginning in striving to live in a way that truly pleases him.

So the obvious question is has it been a good day for us? I have to say that it’s been a bit mixed, with some encouragement and some feelings of discouragement. Indeed I do feel very tired and rather weary of this battle for health and life at this particular moment. Somehow we need to step aside from negative thoughts, which only lead to depression and heaviness, and grasp the peace and hope of God. There we find a lightness in our spirit and even bubbling up from deep within an inexplicable joy that overflows into the worst of circumstances. Jane had quite a good nights sleep and I particularly noticed her breathing was almost normal… most encouraging. In our prayer time this morning it felt like a sense of determination came over me; there is healing for Jane just waiting to be appropriated. Strange though that after such encouragement, negative thoughts come flooding into my mind… it’s almost as if there is a devil trying to rob us of the peace and favour of God!

James 4:7-8 ‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.’ (NIV)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

21st April

The sun keeps on shining with high summer temperatures and it’s forgotten how to rain, which doesn’t quite fit our perception of traditional spring weather and April showers. And that has me thinking about our on-going health situation… it doesn’t quite fit our perception of how things should be in this season of our lives! I guess though we have this in common with just about any normal person similarly afflicted. So is it wrong to keep rejecting the predictions of medical experts? Is this simply a normal predicted stage in processing a diagnosis of terminal cancer?

Are we therefore simply in denial? In one way I have to say yes to this last question… and with stubborn simple determination. Of course we have to recognise the reality of Jane’s condition and the prognosis of her consultant oncologist, but alongside that we have to recognise the reality of God at work in our lives and his prognosis! Nothing is impossible for Almighty God, our God, who formed the universe by speaking it into existence. Sometimes we have to take a step of faith, and that is at the very heart of Christian life… it begins with speaking out that which we believe, that which we hope for, that which we are praying will come to pass.

Oh… and Jane’s had another good day, spending a lot of time in the garden, entertaining visitors and taking an interest in life’s on-going minutia. So is our rhododendron worth keeping with such severe frost damage after last winter? If only a relatively good day could grow into a genuinely good day.

Oh Lord please heal my wife! Let every cancer cell die, let there be healthy organs and tissue in the whole of Jane’s body. Have mercy Lord, have mercy…

Hebrews 11v1 ‘Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

20th April

A really good day today! Overnight Jane’s breathing settled down somewhat from continual rapid panting and she woke up looking much livelier and quite cheerful. The question then became one of how do we spend the day? The morning soon disappeared with household chores and shopping whilst Jane continued to rest and then the real debate started. Shall we sit in the garden again or use the car for a trip out? With not a little trepidation Jane bravely chose the car for the first non-hospital outing in months… she’s still incredibly weak and although improved, her breathing is not at all normal. Finding somewhere quiet and peaceful during the school holidays was a challenge until we remembered a fairly new nature reserve created by the river in nearby Duffield. We then had a lovely time enjoying summer temperatures sitting by the river and trying to resurrect our limited bird identification skills. The pigeon on that tree, yes the one with a white collar on it’s neck what’s it called again? I was chuffed to find our Radar Key fitted the wheelchair gate access though!

And to finish a very normal but almost perfect afternoon we stopped at a country inn and a bench by the river for a long cool drink. Marvellous!

Psalm 23v1,2 ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

19th April

It’s had to be a slow day for Jane after being so busy yesterday, so again she’s enjoyed the sunshine in the garden for several hours. But she has been experiencing more breathlessness as well, which if she hadn’t just had an x-ray would be causing more concern. Anyway, perhaps she’s just overdone it getting through the hospital thing and certainly she’s been extremely tired. Maybe it will settle down again quickly as she rests, we’ll see, and in the meantime we continue to pray to God for his favour!

I left Jane with an old friend for an hour or two whilst she was outdoors and they shared a few smiles as well as some tears. It’s got to be so difficult when a mutual close friend passed away not too many years ago. She had cancer and last time I saw her she wore an oxygen back-pack a bit like Jane’s… I’m just so glad that we are all unique individuals and that no matter the similarity of life’s trial, God has a specific design for our life which is not only on a totally different pathway, but pray God a different outcome in the battle for victory over cancer. It’s a privilege and wonderful to know, as an absolute certainty, that our ultimate destination is shared… we’ll be joining each of these friends in an eternity prepared by our mutual friend and saviour Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (NIV)

Monday, April 18, 2011

18th April

It’s been rather stressful just thinking about the hospital appointment today. Jane had to battle with a migraine as even considering another medical intervention was just a little too much after the trauma of last week. Anyway we were really relieved as at the moment Jane’s x-ray shows no measurable new fluid build-up over the last week and so it seems they won’t proceed with a permanent drain for a while yet. Although some fluid remains from last week’s drain they need clear sight of rather more before fitting the new device. And so, barring an emergency admission, Jane can now enjoy a three week ‘holiday’ from hospital appointments. A difficult, tiring day but a good result.

Lord thank you for your favour in giving Jane some respite from hospital treatment. Thank you that at least in this one regard her condition has not worsened over the past week. But Lord you really are much bigger than this. Have mercy and completely heal, completely restore my wife… please Lord!

Matthew 8:3 ‘Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.’ (NLT)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

17th April

So ‘let’s take the morning air’ I thought, and then ‘let’s have lunch’, and before we know it we’ve had a wonderful 5 hours sitting in the garden. Even more encouraging Jane spent half that time without oxygen. Thank you Lord! Jane remains reasonably comfortable with no pain and with careful activity management has little or no severe breathlessness which would tend to be accompanied by coughing. She remains very weak and tired but is quite cheerful and is even planning a family get-together at Easter… a big step up from just two or three visitors at a time.

And tomorrow, Monday, we go back to Nottingham City Hospital for Jane to have an x-ray and consultation about a permanent drain being fitted. But she has been improving in strength and breathing since last week so I am determined to remain in faith for a release of God’s favour and healing… whenever that is and whatever it looks like.

Psalm 41:2 ‘The Lord protects them and keeps them alive.’ (NLT)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

16th April

A very quiet day, no visitors and only a couple of phone calls; an opportunity to rest. And we have. Unfortunately without the distraction of visitors there’s a little too much time to think and then the tears start. So let’s keep busy? Or even nod off for a while as Jane regularly does… she’s still very tired and weak. Anyway after multiple crosswords we took the afternoon air with a happy hour in the garden… coffee/tea and cream cake made for a perfect moment together! This did Jane a power of good, so much so that when she came inside again she decided to take notice of the cleaning deficiencies of the household men. She never said a word… but I found her in the kitchen trailing oxygen tubing and sprinkling surface wipes here there and everywhere and suddenly life feels very normal again. And very clean. But I’m learning.

Oh Lord please help me to look after Jane and make this season of our lives special. Father let each day be valued and may we know and fulfil your will in all that we do. And if it be your pleasure Oh God will you release your healing into Jane’s broken body?

Psalm 40 ‘I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.’

Friday, April 15, 2011

15th April

It’s been a busier day with family spending quite a bit of time with Jane and she’s coped very well. She continues to gain strength, little by little finding ways to engage in ‘normal’ activity with almost zero exertion. So yesterday she learnt to use the stairs without pushing herself to the point of collapse, today she fetched herself a glass of water from the kitchen for the first time in weeks. And again thank you God for the oxygen back-pack which enabled Jane to enjoy a few minutes in the garden… freshly mowed by our eldest daughter! Complete immobility causes it’s own problems which Jane is determined to avoid by being as active as possible. Although she remains very weak she has no pain and is ridiculously cheerful.

O Lord God have mercy and heal my wife. Please heal her lungs, may she breathe clearly once again and let every cancer cell be cursed and die in the name of Jesus. Lord restore her I pray, give her health and strength to live life in fullness. Amen 

Romans 10v13 ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (NIV)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

14th April

And so Jane perseveres, continuing to do everything possible to step into health and whatever version of normal life we can construct. This morning she actually came downstairs unaided… it took over 5 minutes sitting down on each step but she did it. And this afternoon we went internet shopping at the old favourite M&S buying the first summer outfits of the year, which I reckon was far easier than wandering around the shop waiting outside changing rooms and then joining a queue for the till. But perhaps I’m missing the point here!

Jane’s probably just a little stronger again today but there are obvious on-going problems with breathing and she is very dependent upon oxygen. Now would be a good time for a miracle.

James 1:12 ‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’ (NIV)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

13th April

‘Steady as she goes’ was the order given when ships were taken through difficult waters. And it most certainly is the order of the day for us at the moment. It’s been another quiet and peaceful day with Jane making slow but steady progress recovering from the trauma of the past week. A steady flow of phone calls and texts keep us both encouraged and also connected with the outside world. Visits from close family were very welcome especially bearing gifts of food… fish pie followed by home-made trifle!

I have to admit that at times over the past few years I have found myself asking the question ‘where is the favour of God in my life?’ because of the challenges of ill health that both Jane and I have faced. And yet despite major problems it has always been so easy to find areas of our lives where we have been blessed out of our socks. We do have a special marriage and our children, their partners and our grandchildren are each one so very precious; and that’s only for starters as there is so much more to be grateful for. However ill health is not the only area of disappointment we’ve battled with for a long time now and today we have good news of God’s favour being released. Our son-in-law has been trying to find a new job for over a year and finding employment in what seems to be a shrinking charity sector has to be challenging. Anyway today we’ve heard he’s got a new job so thank you God… it feels as though the tide has turned and that particular storm has now quietened. Let peace and the favour of God prevail in every area of our life.

Psalm 5v12 ‘For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love.’ (NIV)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

12th April

Yesterday was a really big day both emotionally and for Jane physically so today we needed to crash. Apart from a few little jobs… our motorhome sailed through it’s MOT which is always a relief; we both spent the day resting. Jane seems to be quite comfortable and recovering nicely from her week in hospital; a good night’s sleep is always welcome after the all night activity of a hospital ward. But she remains unbelievably weak, totally dependent upon oxygen and our stairs are a major obstacle either going up or down. Recovering strength for basic mobility is a high priority as at the moment we have to consider her living solely downstairs. Having Jane’s 96 year old mother already using our main lounge as a bed-sit and then considering a bed in the back room as well really would turn our house upside down. Jane really does not want to consider this. Already having a disabled person’s ground floor shower room is great for Jane’s mum but again Jane remains determined to make a recovery.

Yesterday in the interview with her oncologist he was discussing the practicalities of end of life care and suggested that Jane did not have that much time left although there are always uncertainties. He left us alone for a short time and Jane’s immediate response was too laugh and state ‘the obvious’… this is totally unreal, it does not fit our plan for life and though, of course, we have to deal with the physical fact that Jane currently has terminal cancer we cannot ignore the reality of our spiritual life. God has touched our hearts with something much more than a premature death. There is a life still to be lived, there are needy people to be helped and there is a faith journey to be walked. Jane has given her life to Christ and cancer cannot claim it. The Lord Jesus and he alone determines the exact number of days that we live, so whether they be few, or many, Jane’s life and mine are totally secure in his hands.

Psalm 139:16 ‘You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.’ (NLT)

Monday, April 11, 2011

11th April

Jane’s home! Yippee, I feel like dancing… sort of! Anyway what’s happening is that Jane does need to have more fluid drained but more than that she’s expected by the doctors to have this as an on-going problem, so they are suggesting a more permanent drain to come home with might be the best idea. Of course it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that the department is all booked up for this week and so Jane will have to return next week hopefully simply for daytime visits.

She’s doing really well and certainly whilst at rest she’s going for increasingly long periods without oxygen. The side effects of chemo are fading into a distant memory and yes she’s not had to pay the price of hair loss for an ineffective attempt at chemo. We did though have a quite emotional interview with Jane’s consultant as he explained the end of life care that Jane should expect. This very special health professional came close to sharing in our tears as he explained that Jane has very little time left. He’s a good man and we’ve journeyed with him now for well over two years… however whilst we trust his judgement and the validity of his prognosis completely we also choose to reach out to God for his report on Jane’s future. Perhaps, just perhaps, the Lord still has plans for Jane’s life. A long and fruitful life. And terminal cancer is no hurdle for the creator of the universe.

And in some ways Jane enjoyed her time on the very ward she had such a rough time on two years ago. The patients she’s shared the room with have been really friendly and I suppose there’s something about sharing a common personal tragedy that bonds people together. We were told a delightful story by the lady in the bed next to Jane. A few years ago she had an experience similar to so many stories we’ve heard before. One night as she lay in bed she awoke and had a sense of being pinned down to the bed so she couldn’t move. At the bottom of the bed she saw a bright white light and a man’s voice spoke to her saying ‘It’s not your time yet!’ She felt absolutely no fear and confesses that today she has absolutely no fear of dying. What a special encounter and quite intriguing. Was this the voice of God himself?

Romans 15v33 ‘And now may God, who gives us his peace, be with you all.’ NLT)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

10th April

A small disappointment today. Jane had been hoping to come home on Monday but that looks really unlikely now. Apparently the drain into her lung has blocked and needs a visit to radiology to resolve the problem. Hopefully they’ll find time to sort it out on Monday as last week it took 5 days to book her in! But she’s still growing stronger continuing to have short walks and more time without the oxygen feed and maybe if the treatment continues she could make even more improvement.

Our two youngest grandchildren were brought to visit again which was nice and we had a lovely time in the sunshine overlooking the cricket pitch, the first time Jane’s been properly outside of the hospital building for over a week.  Learning to live for the day is a challenge, but every day has value, every day has something worth living for. I am so grateful to God for the time I’ve spent with Jane today.

Matthew 6:27 ‘Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’ (NIV)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

9th April

Another encouraging day. Jane has this enviable ability of being able to embrace whatever medical treatment is imposed upon her and walk through it without any complaint whatsoever. Christian rock band Delirious wrote a song called ‘Stare the Monster Down’ referencing a journey through chemo. And that’s exactly how it is with Jane, no matter the challenge, she faces up to it with incredible bravery and determination. This week is no exception. Today she decided to start walking again… without oxygen for a brief time, a visit to the bathroom. And when I arrived we walked together, trailing tubes and carrying her fluid bucket and our portable oxygen, all the way to the ward balcony. I was amazed and we had a lovely hour with our youngest daughter and partner soaking up the spring sunshine. I was even mildly reprimanded for bringing Jane’s wheelchair up from the car when she’d not asked for it!

Life on a hospital ward leaving aside ill health is not a lot of fun. The practicalities of normal living we take for granted become quite complicated and so today I offered to wash Jane’s hair… quite difficult with a dressing holding a tube in Jane’s back leading to a tap and a fluid container, and where does one put portable oxygen in a shower room? We made it though and then Jane really had to have a sit down and a cup of tea. She’s sharing the ward with some lovely friendly people despite each facing their own cancer challenge.

John 8v36 ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’ (NIV)

Friday, April 08, 2011

8th April

It’s a little bizarre but I have to say I almost enjoyed today! Very early this morning I found myself feeling quite joyful and that didn’t feel right as Jane was programmed to have a mini op and I had test results and a medical. I should have been feeling nervous and concerned but I wasn’t which was rather confusing. Anyway I spoke to Jane and she too seemed totally at peace and comfortable with having her lung drain procedure. I prayed with her and left her to a 9.15am transport to radiology which happened to be the exact same time of my own appointment.

Jane was back on the ward just after 10am having had a totally pain free procedure to insert the drain into her back accessing the cavity around her lung. She’ll be trying not to trip over the accompanying bucket for the weekend we expect before having it removed. It’s not easy to understand how much of Jane’s recent problems are caused by fluid build-up and how much by the great big lumps of cancer but we have to be hopeful of some good restoration of health in the immediate future. We remain determined to keep petitioning the Lord for a healing miracle. And Jane did have a miraculous encounter with God which explains her peace this morning. She reports that all through last night and also on the way down to radiology it felt as though Jesus was holding her hand… and why wouldn’t he? I know I would and he loves and cares for Jane far more than I ever could!

So… with both portable oxygen and a length of tube filling up a bucket we couldn’t make the outdoor garden today. But we did escape to a balcony accessed directly from the ward and I almost got sunburnt sitting outdoors for an hour or two. This is the life! And then a phone call to put the icing on a splendid cake… our daughter in Loughborough wanted to visit and bring our two youngest grandchildren to visit. Yesterday Jane couldn’t speak without coughing… tonight she actually partially sang the Robin Hood song to our grandson!

Oh, and my medical and all tests confirm I’m fighting fit, apart from the M.E. thing, and have no abnormal risk of cardiovascular disease whatsoever. I wonder if it’s possible for good health to become infectious…

Psalm 28:7 ‘The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.’ (NLT)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

7th April

It’s been a very simple day very similar to yesterday. Jane is relatively comfortable and not particularly suffering any pain at the moment. Living in such a closed environment is never easy especially when the proposed exit is via a minor op with all its attendant risks. Being pressed to make a decision on resuscitation should it become necessary only adds to the apprehension Jane quite naturally feels. But she is an amazing woman strong and determined in her faith journey and basically is handling this ultimate challenge remarkably well. In her quite extreme tiredness there are certainly moments of distress and expressions of concern, but no fear and certainly no hint of panic… just a quiet determination to keep a hold of Godly peace. This evening we watched a Christian podcast with the co-incidental theme of knowing God’s peace in the midst of the storm.

We found the sunny garden again which was nice and then our two granddaughters were caring enough to make the journey from Derby to Nottingham for the second day on the run. They are very special friends even though they’re only at primary school and they understand quite well what Jane’s situation is especially as their other granddad passed away only last year.

Jane’s op is programmed for some time tomorrow Friday and she’s been told she’ll be in hospital until after the weekend… first thing Friday I have my own routine age related medical and also x-ray and blood test results. I find it difficult to take any interest in it though.

Acts 10:36 This is the message of Good News… there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.’ (NLT)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

6th April

Another disappointment today. Jane has not been booked in for her very minor op until Friday... quite distressing, but very much part of this abnormal life we now endure. What does it cost the NHS to give Jane a bed and full care for a week when a procedure that took maybe 45 minutes from start to finish last time could see her on the way home very quickly? Seeing a loved one suffer so much with continual problems is very difficult, but what can one do?

I’ll tell you what we did. We had a bit of a laugh… the ladies in the beds opposite Jane took special note when I scrambled under the bed for a lost perfume bottle top. Apparently I have a ‘cute bum’… am I allowed to share that as a good Christian? I rebuked them ‘quite sternly’ and later the male ward nurse brought full retribution by relating the event to the visiting husband! Anyway I then persuaded Jane to escape on a ‘hot date’… with permission I busted her out of the ward. It’s amazing where a wheelchair and a portable oxygen supply can take you, actually to the other end of the hospital where they have a small and quite pretty garden. We enjoyed a happy hour in some lovely spring sunshine surrounded by daffodils drinking coffee and eating wine gums. Quite decadent, though we did manage to say a couple of prayers together which should keep us in God’s good books!

To finish visiting hours we had our older granddaughters come to entertain us. Quite delightful and I wonder what pleasures tomorrow will bring?

Revelation 3v4 ‘All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.’ (NLT)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

5th April

Dealing with the reality of Jane’s situation is so hard at the moment. Maintaining our faith journey has to be the most important thing, keeping our eyes upon Jesus our prime focus. But it ain’t easy! The hospital environment completely envelops every thought and activity when placed there without option. Jane has not moved more than a step away from her bed for three days and had to deal alone with some very difficult challenges. She has yet to have the fluid drained from around her lung which is causing the immediate problems and was first diagnosed Saturday afternoon. It ‘may’ happen tomorrow Wednesday if they can find space for her. She remains very apprehensive about this and just wants it over with. Today was all booked up.

Our own analysis has been confirmed… there’ll be no more chemo and no other treatment is available. Jane is being referred back to Derby and the Macmillan team of doctors and nurses for palliative care only. A final immense sting she faced, again all alone, was the question ‘should you die would you want to be resuscitated?’ The doctor forced to ask this was very kind and the nurse with him we’ve known for years was in tears. How can you do this for a living? These people are immense!

So… how do we deal with this? Faith is a gift from God but having been given it is then for us to quite simply choose to accept and believe.  Ok so let’s choose to believe that Jane is going to be healed, a cast iron certainty, no doubts, and no problem I do believe! The only thing that can deny us from witnessing that is something even better and in a way far more wonderful… Jane’s promotion to glory! She’d be stepping into a life of perfection living with Jesus in paradise waiting for our reunion in one way or another. It could be my wishful thinking but I reckon God may yet restore her to health and even the workplace first… an undeniable miracle in my book and his.

Isaiah 55v8,9 ‘ “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”’ (NLT)

Monday, April 04, 2011

4th April

Such a difficult 24 hours. At the end of visiting hours last night I left Jane quite breathless and in a lot of pain. Around midnight the texts started. They needed her bed so she was told to pack her bag and she was being moved to another ward, the very ward she was in two years ago and where she had a horrendous time for several months. Most upsetting and after a very distressing hour waiting for a porter I rang the ward for an explanation. Obviously they had a ‘good reason’ for the move and the delay and offered appropriate apology but it’s a rubbish way to treat a seriously ill patient.

Today was worse. Her pleural effusion drain had not been booked so that’s been put back another day. Scan results were given by a very caring doctor who she’d never met before and in simple terms the chemo has not worked, the existing lesions have grown and there are now new ones. As her own consultant is on holiday we have to wait for a detailed interview but it seems pretty clear that Jane is in a very serious situation now. We know of no other treatment available to stem the growth.

Despite all of this we had a quite peaceful time together for the too short 6 hour visiting time allowed. We were able to be distracted as we considered events across North Africa and the Middle East and dared to toy with hope that events may yet unfold in a way that usher in the return of Christ thus making our ‘little’ problems obsolete. Who knows… we certainly don’t but speculation is an engaging game. And then we thought about the certainty of Jane’s healing. Whether it be as she steps into eternity or whether God is merciful in this life… again we don’t know and the difference is only a single heartbeat! I am determined to keep on reaching out to God and asking him to give me my wife back… oh Lord please.

Hebrews 4v16 ‘So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.’ (NLT)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

3rd April Chemo Day 41

I’ve actually lost count of how many times over the past 6 years Jane has been admitted to hospital. Far too many. And despite the familiarity of surroundings it gets no easier; indeed today despite the friendliness of a nurse we first met two years ago I thought yes, we really do need to move on from this particular merry-go-round.

Jane had a relatively comfortable day and we had a particular treat this afternoon when our four adult children came to visit. It felt a little strange being all together without families in tow for the first time in ages but quite special nonetheless. Unfortunately tonight Jane began to experience a lot of pain again and has had to up the painkiller intake. Not good, but hopefully she’ll see her oncologist Monday morning and he should get things moving in a programmed way which is much better than an emergency procedure. I know that Jane needs some sort of short term procedure to get her back on her feet but other than that I really don’t want to hear what he has to say… unless it is good news.

Luke 1:19 ‘The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”’ (NIV)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

2nd April Chemo Day 40

I am an eternal optimist, I will not apologise for this. All of my hope is in God and him alone, though whilst my faith assures me of a future in eternity living a life of perfection my Bible tells me that in this life we will have many troubles. Today has set more across our path and Jane is back in hospital. She woke this morning quite normally although a little stiff in her side. A brief visit to the bathroom accompanied by some not too abnormal coughing and suddenly she was in agony with an extreme pain in her side. Very similar symptoms to her previous unscheduled hospital admission a couple of months ago and she’s been told not to wait around should she get problems like this.

Jane’s now in Nottingham City Hospital and transferred to a comfortable single en-suite room at least for a few days I guess. She’s programmed to have fluid drained from around her lung after the weekend and precautionary treatment for a possible blood clot is being given. We should find out sometime soon about the actual effectiveness of chemotherapy as for us this result is not part of the plan. Perhaps it is just a setback and a challenge to be overcome and completely dealt with, I don’t know… it’s been a rubbish day though no matter how kind and caring the staff in the assessment unit.

I came home, picked up my guitar and sang a couple of worship songs… I don’t really understand why we’re in this situation but I do know that God is with us and my heart is filled to overflowing with his love, even though I feel a little broken.

1 John 4:8 ‘God is love.’ (NIV)

Friday, April 01, 2011

1st April Chemo Day 39

Thank you Lord for a wonderful wife
Thank you Lord for an amazing life
Thank you Lord for a special family
Thank you Lord for all you’ve given me

Thank you Lord for helping Jane through her scan today
Thank you Lord you’re with us come what may
Thank you Lord you’re helping her to grow strong
Thank you Lord you guide us all day long

Thank you Lord we can put our hope in you
Thank you Lord for your help in all we do
Thank you Lord that your peace is with us
Thank you Lord for the pizza in us

Thank you Lord one day you’ll heal
Thank you Lord until then you’re the real deal

And thank you Lord I’m not really a poet
… and I know it!

1 Chronicles 16:34 ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.’ (NIV)