Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trials, Tests, & Obstacles, Oh My!!!

I couldn't resist sharing some of these little jokes I have come across these past few weeks and thought I would share.....

These past couple of weeks have been extremely crazy at our home.  I know I mentioned some about Kevin, but I feel I need to share more.

As some of you all ready know, Kevin had a surgery last year.  In fact it was on August 30, 2013.  Earlier this year an MRI was taken and it was determined that Kevin had herniated discs above where the 2013 surgery was done.  Since January Kevin has been working with a pain specialist to try and take care of the herniated areas.  They tried an inversion table, then they decided Kevin could not do that any more.  Then they were going to try a flat kind of table that would be laid out on the floor, but our insurance carrier would not cover that.  A few pain blocks were given, but nothing seemed to help the pain.  Then Kevin started having other complications and we spent a few late nights in a couple Hospital Emergency Rooms.  They did other MRI's and gave Kevin IV Medication for the pain.  The MRI showed the herniated discs, but nothing pinching off the spinal canal at that time.   Usually if they see a severe narrowing of the spinal canal emergency surgery is warranted.  The Emergency Room did see narrowing of the spinal canal, just not enough.  So, back to the pain specialist we went.

After two of these late night Emergency Room visits the pain specialist reached out to Kevin's surgeon.  We had an appointment with the surgeon the next day.  When the surgeon reviewed the MRI and went over Kevin's symptoms, the surgeon did not see anything that would warrant emergency surgery....BUT, he wanted Kevin to return to the pain specialist for a series of 3 pain blocks over about 6 weeks and see Kevin again.  The whole reason we went to the Emergency Room in the first place was because Kevin was having trouble with incontinence.  That is usually a sign something is seriously wrong when you have back issues.  

The pain specialist monitored Kevin often.  Kevin went in for the series of 3 pain blocks and the first two worked for a day or two, but nothing long term.  Then his left leg started to get these shooting pains.  Keep in mind, about two weeks before his last pain block I started to break out in hives or something.  To this day I do not know if it was an actual bite from something, stress OR, some kind of complication due to some of my recent medical issues and medications.  In fact, I started to break out again this afternoon.  Lovely, isn't it.  Back to Kevin......

The day after Kevin's last pain block and when the shooting pains started we called the pain specialist, who immediately called the surgeon.  The surgeon told Kevin to go directly to a certain hospital in the Valley to be admitted.  When we got to the Emergency Room we were met by their Emergency Physician who immediately ordered an MRI with and without contrast.  (standard procedure for back issues)  The only thing I did not like about this particular hospital was the Paramedic that helped Kevin when we first arrived at the hospital.  He tried and tried to start an IV on Kevin and could not do it.  I have never seen someone struggle so much in my life!  It was sad!  I hope he was in training and in time this paramedic will get better.  I so hope that is the situation!!!  Since the Paramedic had such a hard time starting the IV and stuck Kevin twice, the lab had to come up to take his blood for testing.  We waited for about an hour and a half in the waiting room for a bed in the Emergency Room.  When the 2nd Emergency Room physician examined Kevin he did not see narrowing of the spinal canal or anything that would warrant an emergency admit, and they were getting ready to discharge Kevin.  Until Kevin spoke up and explained that he was sent to the hospital by the surgeon to be admitted.  The Emergency Physician didn't even call the surgeon to consult or anything.  Kevin, who luckily had a cell phone number for his pain specialist did the physicians job for him.  Kevin got a hold of the pain specialist, who in turn called the surgeon, and the surgeon called and gave the order to have Kevin admitted to the hospital.

The next day when the surgeon saw Kevin it was determined that Kevin would have surgery, but they couldn't get it scheduled until Saturday.  We spent all day Friday waiting to see the surgeon and then waiting to get the surgery added on to the Friday schedule, but it couldn't be done.  Instead it took place on Saturday, August 2nd at 11:00 a.m.  Now remember several MRI's had been taken and all they showed was the herniated discs.  When the surgeon opened Kevin up he also found that screws were lose and some of the titanium cage around Kevin's spine had been broken off.  The surgery lasted 4 hours.  The doctor expected about 2 hours, so we knew just by the time that things were worse than we thought.  After surgery Kevin spent 2 hours in recovery.  Apparently they could not get the pain under a 10.  (you know the scale, 0 being the least amount of pain and 10 being the worst pain you have ever felt)  After two hours they finally got the pain level down to about an 8 and sent Kevin to his room.  

When the surgeon came to talk with me right after surgery he explained what took so long.  He mentioned that Kevin was a very lucky man and that if he would not have went in Kevin could have ended up paralyzed.  He talked about the fact that the MRI's did not show the lose screws and the broken titanium cage.  He couldn't see it from any of the MRI's and believe me, this man sees many many MRI's every day.  The surgeon replaced the rods and screws.  He replaced and extended the titanium cage around Kevin's spine.  It now goes from S1 to L2.  His scar, literally, is at least a foot long.  I have only seen bits and piece of it.  We joke that the line that splits Kevin's bum has been extended to just below his shoulder blades now.  Here is another photo of the length of the tape covering Kevin's incision.  

Kevin was told to let this tape fall off on it's own.  Kevin can shower with it and it stays on.  It's pretty cool stuff, but I will sure be glad when we can get this stuff off of him and replace it with a new bandage.  Kevin had a drainage tube from his incision that got pulled the day before he was discharged from the hospital.  Once that was removed he hasn't had any leaks or anything.  This has been a pretty clean wound so far.  I plan to take a few photos of his incision once the tape finally comes off.  Kevin can't see his back because he cannot twist or turn.  As the hospital put it....NO BLT's!  No bending, lifting, or twisting.  He has strict orders to keep using his walker, and he has one of those mechanical arms to pick things up off the floor or above his head with.  They even gave him a super long shoe horn to use.  He still needs lots of help.  They wanted to admit him to a rehabilitation center for extensive therapy, but our insurance company would not cover the stay.  So, to home he came.  He needs help bathing, walking, taking his medications, feeding and/or preparing meals, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.  I will say, I have been pretty worn out trying to make sure he has everything he needs up until today.  Today he let me sleep for some reason and we set out all of his medications in little cups so he could take them.  It worked, I think.  I hate doing that and would prefer watching him take his medicines.  He is on so much right now and he gets groggy and hurting and I just don't want him making any mistakes.  I don't know what I would do if he over did it.  That would not be a good thing.

All in all, what we have here is another miracle!  Our family has been watched over.  Even though our trials have not been taken from us, we know that our Heavenly Father has been by our sides every step of the way.  We know that a mighty miracle took place the day the surgeon decided to take Kevin into surgery.  We know that it was the still small voice of the Holy Ghost that whispered into our surgeon's ear that day, prompting him that something needed to be done.  We also had a very tender moment early in Kevin's hospital room just before surgery when our two boys laid their hands upon Kevin's head and gave him a blessing.  It was one of many that Kyle has given, but it was our youngest son's first time.  Kyle did the anointing and Curtis sealed the anointing.  It was amazing to see!  We all had tears in our eyes as he gave that blessing.  Curtis has been excited about every step of his preparation for his mission, just like his older brother was.  I love that both of my boys could give their father this blessing.  BUT more importantly, I am most grateful for the blessings the Priesthood brings into my life.  We have been blessed.  One thing that is always amazing to me is that we can see the Lord's hand in our lives throughout this entire trial.  Even now that the surgery has been done.  We have been blessed in so many ways.  Again, of course, the trial has not been taken away, but I see how our burden has been lightened some what as we go through each step.  

I've shared this story several times before.  Tonight I just cannot get this story off my mind so I thought I might share it again.....

The Refiners Fire: A Lesson of Life's Trials
The following story is a great example of how the Lord teaches and molds us through life's trials.
There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot--then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.
She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"
He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy--when I see my image in it."
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you.
Author unknown
I find myself searching conference talks when we go through things like this as a family.  In fact, I stumbled across one tonight that helped me understand.  Here are a few passages from that talk.....

We will have opportunities to be called upon to suffer. There will be times when we will have feelings of hurt and pain—physical and mental as well as spiritual—and then we will know what adversity is, and we will know a little better what Jesus Christ might have suffered, and we will have done in similitude that which Jesus Christ did.
What does this mean to us? We will know Jesus better. It also means that when we are called on to suffer, when we have afflictions in our lives, we will know that we are not alone. The Savior has already passed through those times. As we partake of the sacrament, we might be able to understand the sufferings of the Savior as we remember our own challenges, pains, hurts, and adversities. We might be able to understand that in similitude it is somewhat the same as what Abraham, Isaac, Adam and Eve, and Joseph F. Smith understood.

In speaking of adversity, could I just tell you now that it is one of those things that is going to happen in your life and in my life. We are all going to pass through adversity. It is a requirement. I have often asked myself who really is going to be in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ, to live eternally with them and with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and with Nephi and Alma and Abinadi and Mormon and Moroni, and with Joseph Smith and many of the great Saints who sacrificed as they walked across the plains to these valleys in the West. Who really is going to be with them? I have determined it is not going to be those who sit doing nothing. I guess we get in the habit of calling them “couch potatoes.” I don’t think it is going to be them. I know it is not. 

Now, when the trials come, what should we do? First of all, we must resist murmuring. We must not criticize or rise up against our Heavenly Father. We should study the scriptures so that we know the doctrine and receive from it that comfort that only our Heavenly Father can give. As the man I mentioned who knew Jesus Christ, we should pray mightily. We should be on our knees constantly so that we can receive from our Heavenly Father the assurance that this is part of our trial. Then we should seek to recognize our need to be tutored. We do not know what Heavenly Father has in store for us.
I pray that we will think upon the Savior and know we are not alone. He passed that way before, and he will give us that comfort. I pray that we will understand what the Lord taught the Prophet Joseph Smith. You recall that the Prophet had been in Liberty Jail for many months, including cold winter months. Much of the time he was under a part of the jail while passing through this tribulation. We know that the ceiling was not high enough that he could stand erect. He had to walk bent over. There are many other things we could say about the adversities he faced. He was away from the Church, away from the Saints, away from his family, and he was not allowed to have visitors constantly or to be about his Father in Heaven’s business. But the Lord had the Prophet where he could speak to him. I think some of the most glorious revelations were given to the Prophet at that time. The revelation on leadership (see D&C 121:34–46) is probably the most priceless document we have on leadership.

The Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;
If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? [D&C 122:5–8; emphasis added]

I pray, brothers and sisters, that when the adversities come—and, as I have mentioned, they will—we might respond to our Father in Heaven, saying, “I am not sure why I am having this adversity at this time or at this intensity. I know I will have something to learn. Help me to endure. Just help me to endure this trial that I have.” Then maybe, like the Savior, we will say: “Not my will, but thine” (Luke 22:42). I pray, brothers and sisters, that we might always be able to remember: It is “for thy good. . . . Art thou greater than he?”   

(talk by Harold G Hillam/Strength in Adversity)

I leave you tonight with a few quotes.  I couldn't decide on just one.  Have a good night and I will talk with you soon.  

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