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2/18/07 (Sunday)

Sunday morning and life goes on as usual here.  The usual awakeners were at it again this morning.  Across the street some men are off loading lumber from a large truck.  Each piece of lumber is dropped with a loud thud that resonates through the area.  The sun is up and it is 7:18 AM.  A man just walked by with a wheelbarrow full of gas cans.  I assume they are all full.  It is interesting to see how casual people are with gasoline.  Yesterday on our way back from Esmeraldas we stopped at a gas station outside of San Lorenzo to fill up the car.  Next to us was a pick up truck full of large plastic gas containers.  A couple men were filling them running the fuel all the way to the top of each container.  One did not have a lid so they stuffed a rag in the opening.  I am sure the fuel slopped out and all over everything when they drove to their destination.   

I slept good last night in spite of being really lazy yesterday afternoon.  The constant breeze from the fan helps as well as the constant noise of the fan.  This morning Jane and I are making a slow start.  We will see our four patients and hopefully send them all home.  The one lady will need to be able to urinate on her own after the catheter comes out this morning.  She will be the one who will keep us here today if she cannot urinate on her own.  We may put a catheter back in and have her return in a couple days to the clinic for the removal of the catheter.  We will see how she does this morning.  Hopefully everything will work well and we can then pack up and head to Quito later today. 

In talking with Phyl the physicians working with her mother have decided she may be developing Parkinson’s disease.  This could certainly be a cause of the tremors in her legs.  I guess Mom when she is attempting to walk is now assuming the posture of a person with Parkinson’s.  The impact of this diagnosis and her condition is that she should not live alone anymore.  Either she have live-in help 24/7 or move to an assisted-living facility.  Mom has steadfastly refused to ever consider such a facility.  She includes them all under the term “nursing home” and she will not ever go to a nursing home.  Now, she does carry long-term health care insurance that is meant to cover such a need; however, she never intends to use it.  This will be our next big challenge.  The family cannot wipe their slates clean and move in with Mom for the rest of her life.  Mom will not move from her house or leave her little dog.  Any mention of assisted-living results in her jaw being set and her absolute refusal to even consider any help in this arena.  We may have to move her kicking and screaming all the way.  She has a little dog that is her entire life right now.  That dog has more privileges and gets away with more actions than any of the children ever thought of.  I don’t know of any assisted-living facilities that would allow a pet.  Mom would never leave her little dog.  So we have two major battles: moving to assisted-living against her will and leaving her dog behind against her will.  Phyl keeps commenting that she hopes we don’t become like this when we arrive at Mom’s age and health.  This is so hard on Phyl and her sister, Connie, in that they love their mother and want the best for her but Mom may not agree with what is best.  In my practice I had patients tell me about situations where they had had to move a reluctant parent into a nursing home and this resulted in anger, bitterness and severed relationships in the family.  Sometimes the parent went to the grave without reestablishing those relationships leaving the children feeling guilt and regret over a decision that really had no other possibilities.  It is all very difficult. 

Father, thank You for another new day.  The sun is bright and the world around us is awakening once again.  You provide all the processes that keep the world turning and keep renewing our spirits every morning.  Thank You for all the incredible evidence of Your creativity around us.  Father, You are Lord over all, the originator and keeper of everything!  Thank You for allowing me to participate in this, to witness evidence of You everywhere, to experience Your love, to feel Your presence that gives comfort, peace, hope and joy.  Thank You, Lord!  Today, Father, please be with the four ladies who remain in the alberge.  Thank You for the healing power you have infused into these ladies and the recovery they have made from surgery.  Father, please help the one lady to have normal bladder function so the Foley catheter can stay out.  Thank You for holding each of these ladies in the palm of Your hand and loving them so much that You would make the ultimate sacrifice to call them Your own.  That sacrifice is the shed blood of Your Son, Jesus, who died for mankind to free us from the penalty, power and presence of sin.  Father, all we have to do is accept this free gift from You, to accept and believe that Jesus died for us and we place our faith in this very fact that Jesus is our Savior and Lord.  Thank You, Father, for making this so simple and so easy.  Yet, people feel there must be more needed, some special works, some ritual of worship, something that they would have to do to deserve this gift of salvation.  Father, You made it simple and easy to believe.  Thank You for this precious gift.  I give you the praise today!  Father, I also pray for Mom and her situation.  Please give her strength and stability and discernment to make the correct decisions.  Please give Phyl and Connie the stamina to endure the tough decisions regarding Mom, where she lives, how she lives, how to enable her to be satisfied with her circumstances and health.  Lord, we depend on You so much and we thank You for Your faithfulness and unfailing love.  Amen. 

Is it approaching noon and we are packing getting ready to leave.  Our lady has yet to urinate with the Foley out but we think if she still needs the Foley, we will insert one and send her home and have her come back to the clinic in a couple days to have it removed.  She has a 3 month old baby that is the cutest little girl.  I want to get a picture of her before we leave. 

We will head back to Quito this afternoon.  Jane called Damarys who then called American Airlines for me and I was able to rearrange my return trip from Wednesday to tomorrow.  So I’ll be heading back to the States tomorrow morning.  I will call Phyl this afternoon and go over the details with her.  I am sure she will be very glad to have me back with her a couple days sooner than expected.  I may not be able to go online tonight to finish the blog entry or send email so I will at least post what I have today. 

Our lady was able to urinate easily and we allowed her to head home about noon.  Jane and I had lunch and then we packed up the car and left for Quito about 1:30.  Not long into the trip Jane got really sleepy.  She drove slow and kept moving around and trying to keep awake.  I can’t drive in Ecuador so I could not relieve her.  She stopped one time just to get out of the car and walk around.  We stopped along the road and a couple people were in a field nearby chopping grass with machetes.  They stopped their work and just watched us.  Jane walked around the car, played like she was checking on things, opened the rear hatch and acted like she was moving things around.  I sat in the car waiting and watching.  After a few minutes she climbed in the car and said she felt better.  We drove on but not long after that she again got really sleepy.  She then pulled the car over and said she needed a three-minute power nap.  She left the car running, locked the doors, and laid her head on her side window and within seconds she was out cold.  Her breathing was deep and regular like she was really asleep.  We sat there for a few minutes until a truck passed us and the noise woke her up.  She then was more awake and off we went.  The mountain scenery was incredible.  It was cloudy in places and then the sun would come through and illuminate the area making the mountains stand out so brilliantly.  I was able to take some pictures from the car as we traveled along.   We got to Ibarra which is about the half-way point to Quito.  This weekend through Tuesday is a national holiday called Carnaval.  People come out to have fun, throw water on each other, have festivals, and all sorts of other activities.  The traffic in Ibarra was very heavy and slow.  We stopped at the little mall where we usually stop for a bathroom break and to eat.  Here we took a bathroom break and walked a little.  Then we started out again; however, the car rarely got out of first gear.  It took us over an hour just to get through Ibarra.  Traffic on the road to Quito was very heavy and slow.  By the time we reached Quito it was almost 8 PM.  The usual trip to Quito takes 4 to 4 ½ hours.  This time it was 6 ½ hours.   Jane took me to the hotel and I got the luggage into the room.  We then went to eat at the Sports Palace in the mall nearby.  After our meal she dropped me off at the hotel and went on home.  Our plan is for her to pick me up around 6 AM so I can be at the airport by 6:30.  I need the extra time to check in since my ticket has been changed.  My flight leaves Quito at 9:05 AM and I should get in to Fort Myers around 6 PM.   I called Phyl from Quito and had a great connection.  She came through loud and clear.  She is really looking forward to my coming home and I am likewise. Father, our day has been long in the car.  Yet, You blessed us with Your handiwork as we traveled through the beautiful Andes mountains.  What incredible beauty!!  Thank You for that gift.  Father, thank You for protecting us and keeping Jane alert when sleep was so ready to overtake her.  Thank You for providing us with safety on the road and no breakdowns or problems.  Father, thank You for this opportunity to serve You through serving others, especially the people in San Lorenzo.  We were able to help these people and to reach out in Your name to provide comfort and even healing.  What a privilege it is to be an extension of You!  Thank You for that.  Father, I pray for a good night’s sleep for Jane and me.  I pray for safe travel tomorrow in the air.  I pray for Phyl as she comes to pick me up.  Please give her safety on the road.  Thank You for bringing her into my life.  She truly is Your gift to me.  Father, thank You for Your unfailing love.  Amen.

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