Thursday, February 26, 2009

When It Rains It Pours

So much happened today I don't know if I can relay it all or relay it very well. So many things were tied together that the only way I can think to explain it is to tell it pretty much in order of what happened.

My mother and father drove up from Carlsbad to help me out with my growing laundry pile. We found a nearby laundromat, and they spent the afternoon getting my clothes clean. There was some time on either side of the hard work for them to visit with Janelle, who was helping out around here again, and we enjoyed hearing them exchange stories.

Things began to get a little crazy when the occupational therapist showed up at almost the same time as a bone-marrow transplant survivor and his friend from Santa Barbara. We had been expecting the OT and knew that it was difficult to get into her schedule. But when Krista heard the visitors were Christians who came to encourage her, it became a Mary-versus-Martha moment for her, and she chose to go with Mary and fellowship together at the feet of Jesus, trusting against all odds that God would work out the schedule for the OT. The visitors were John and Philip. We had never met either of them, but John is from our home church and he and Philip are friends, being in the same line of work. John had a sister go through a battle with leukemia. When he heard about Krista, and recognized that he had a matching blood type, he decided to drive down to donate platelets and asked Philip to come along to encourage Krista. Philip had ALL leukemia and was given a bone marrow transplant at UCLA in 1989. One of the nurses here recognized him immediately and they embraced like long lost friends. Philip and Krista really had a connection as they shared the experience of similar suffering, and we all went to the Lord in prayer together. It was really a divine appointment, in more ways than one; but I'll get to that later.

After they left, we got another surprise visitor. Erica Valladares was a friend of ours from when we lived in Torrance. We haven't seen her or her husband since 1996, but she happened to be at the hospital and dropped by to see Krista and drop off a care package. We learned that her 4-year-old daughter Lexi has been suffering with daily seizures most of her life and that they have been making trips to the UCLA Children's Hospital for treatments. She said that she related to me spending long nights sleeping on uncomfortable hospital chairs. So far they haven't been able to identify the reason for the seizures and none of the medications can stop or prevent them from happening. In October, Erica met a visiting geneticist who recognized some of her daughters behaviors, and she has been trying to look into possible genetic causes. There's a long difficult road ahead for them, but I could see that Jesus has shown Himself faithful in her life and that He will help them through it all.

After Erica left, the cardio-chair arrived. The cardio-chair is a bed on rollers that converts into a chair to help patients get used to a more up-right position. As she sat in it, her feet swelled rather badly -- but a pair of theraputic stockings helped that out.

We were just getting ready to roll Krista around the transplant wing when a new doctor showed up. He was dressed in a suit-and-tie (not the typical lab-coat) and carried an old-fashioned leather bag, like you would expect from doctors in the days when they made house visits. His name is Dr. Gale, and he was casually introduced as an "expert on transplants". (After the fact, I discovered he is not only a major contributor to the field, but also something of a rock-star in the medical world with influence in the movie industry.) He interviewed Krista very carefully in fine detail, and extraordinary bedside manner, and later revealed that her oncologist, Dr. Schiller, who is the well-published director of leukemia studies at UCLA, had asked Dr. Gale for his opinion on what happened with Krista's liver failure. It is amazing to have my wife be treated by such titans of the leukemia field -- and yet there are still mysteries that make even them ponder!

As Dr. Gale was leaving, he mentioned that someone had told him a former patient of his was in the building and that he was hoping to meet up with him. That patient happened to be Philip. What an amazingly divine orchestration that was!

God wasn't done making things happen, either, because just after Dr. Gale left, the occupational therapist showed up! Occupational therapy differs from physical therapy in that it is task-oriented. Since Krista was still in the cardio-chair, the OT couldn't do a lot with her but spent her time trying figuring out what capabilities Krista had, like being able to brush her teeth, and gave her some exercises to do until next time.

After that we finally got to do a quick roll in the cardio-chair around the stem-cell transplant wing. All the nurses were so pleased to see Krista out of her room. They were all congregated together in a nurse station, and as we passed they joked about Krista being on safari watching the nursing staff in their natural habitat. That was a good laugh to top off a very exciting day.

Aside from the excitement of the day, Krista's condition hasn't changed all that much. Her white blood count is 1.21 with 400 neturophils, and she needed 2 pints each of platelets and whole blood. Dialysis was put off again today to let the kidneys do more work, but it is very likely that she will need to be dialysized tomorrow. Krista's appetite was not good today, as she felt that she hadn't completely digested the food she ate yesterday. She hasn't had a bowel movement in three days, so it may be that her intestines are taking a rest. Speaking of rest... we're pretty tired now and we'll leave off with this thought:

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
(Psalm 62:5-8)

1 comment:

Kenon said...

Hi Mike and Krista...

Kenon Neal here- I spoke with Krista before the transplant (4 time cancer survivor...). I wonder if Phillip is my friend Phil Templeman. He was my encourager when I had my transplant in 1993. It is so good to see and hear from survivors. Reading your blog is such a flash back for my husband Matt and I. Stand strong- your testimony is such a light to the goodness of God in challenges- like Paul singing in prison. Do find hope in God alone (as the Psalm you left testifies)- He alone is your rock and He will lead you on this journey. I am following your blog- and praying. Your BMT friend- Kenon