Saturday, August 06, 2005

Phillipians 4:8-Tribute to Mother

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Php 4:8

I have been thinking about this scripture most of the night. In the last couple of days, I’ve had some of the worst pain I’ve experienced in months over my right kidney. For some reason, even tho’ I live with severe pain on a daily basis, when the pain escalates past a certain point, it’s hard not to think of anything else. Of course, this is the worst thing that can happen because, in my experience, if I can distract myself in some way, the pain becomes at least a little more bearable. So, I began thinking again of this scripture and was reminded of many things in my past which, tho’ hard at the time, were a blessing to me. I also remembered the one person who’s been with me throughout each of my hospitalizations and has tried her best to ease my pain, if only being present for these terribly painful times; this person is my Mother.

Despite her own severe health issues, my mom has gone out of her way on a continuing basis to be available for me when I’ve had to undergo surgery. At times she’s argued with the doctors when they wouldn’t believe my complaints of severe pain. Other times, she’s just been there to hold my hand when no-one else could be. She’s fought to have the doctors/surgeons do what was best for me. Mommy’s even sat with me during long hours & days of doctors appointments at Mayo Clinic.

One of the best stories I remember about Mother’s quiet ferocity in attempting to make sure I received the care I needed was after my last major surgery on my right kidney, in 1997. I was at a strange hospital (Froedtert Memorial), in a strange town (Milwaukee, WI) having moved there to begin a contract at the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital as a traveling nurse. When I’d been there only four days and was scheduled to start my first day of work in the morning, I realized that my right kidney/ureter was obstructed because I had this horrendous pain; pain which had occurred on my left side six months before, when my left kidney/ureter was obstructed from recurring post-hysterectomy endometriosis.

I tried to drive myself to the hospital but found I could hardly breath from the pain. There was an accident on the road leading to the hospital and I came close to stopping the police and asking them to call an ambulance to take me the rest of the way. I managed to make it to the hospital and was seen immediately because it was obvious the pain was worse than anything I can describe. After they diagnosed the obstruction, I was told I’d need to have surgery to bypass it; the endometriosis had returned and grown around the ureter, closing it off. I’d had so many surgeries, the last one only six months previous, and I decided to try to fight having this one. So a a nephrostomy tube was placed in my right kidney and I started my job at the Children’s Hospital, with a bag hanging from my right flank which drained my kidney, temporarily bypassing the obstruction.

About a week later, I was still in tremendous pain, tho’ it had been relieved to some degree by the nephrostomy tube. Endometriosis is a horror in that, tho’ one aspect of it may improve via intervention, the underlying pain of the disease is still there. I couldn’t take the pain any longer, so surgery was scheduled. Thankfully, my Mother was sitting by the bedside when I was brought back from surgery. The surgeons had placed a central line in my right internal jugular (the major vein in my neck) because I’d had so many surgeries I no longer had very good venous access in my hands/arms. When the surgeons came by after the surgery, they brought good news; they said they’d not had to do the extensive revisions of the kidney and ureters they thought they’d have to do prior to surgery. This was good because it meant, hopefully, I’d need less healing time and there wouldn’t be as much scar tissue to worry about.

When I could get a word in edgewise, over their excitement, I told them that I was having terrible pain. They immediately said, “Well, you just had major surgery so it’s normal to have pain.” I said, “You don’t understand! I’ve had nine major surgeries in the past ten years, so I know what it feels like to have pain after surgery! This pain is above and beyond anything I’ve felt before, post-surgery!” The doctors tried to explain that my expectations regarding pain-relief were too great; that I was getting large doses of morphine thru my central line. At this point, my Mother quietly spoke up and said, “Excuse me, but is it normal for blood to be pouring out of that IV line in her neck?” The doctors became quite agitated at this point, discovering that the line had not been connected properly, so not only was I losing blood through a major neck vein, all of the “large doses of morphine” were pouring out onto the bed! No wonder I was in such pain!! I shudder to think about how long I would have lain suffering if she hadn’t been there and spoken up in my defense.

This is only one of several times my Mother has intervened on my behalf. I will always be thankful she was there looking out for me. I love my Mom very much and am thankful for all she does for me on a continuing basis, day to day. I love her tender heart and her desire to do God’s will. I love the way she prays for those she loves, especially the children. It’s not uncommon for me to find her on her knees beside her bed in the middle of the day after receiving a phone call or other message regarding friends, grand-kids and other family members whom she loves who are in trouble or pain.

I once told her, when I was a child, that I wanted to grow up to be like her some day. I’ll always remember how she cried, saying, “You don’t want to be like me, sweetheart.” It was a day when she was overwhelmed by her kids, trying to run a household pretty much on her own since my dad was gone much of the time, and full-time work. Well, I am here to say, “Mother, I still want to grow up to be like you!”

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