Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sister's Surgery Summary

I told you about my sis having back surgery.  This is the full somewhat gory details.

Sarah, in the middle is my youngest and tallest sister at 5'11'.  I'm the runt!
We all inherited what Mother always referred to as the "Colvin Back!"  That simply means you have back problems that traveled through her family line.

Sarah is the only one of us to have scoliosis, and her back began to curve very quickly a year or so ago.  She has been a first grade teacher for 30 years; retired this past May.  She also has five very active grandchildren ranging in age from 19 to one and a half year old twins, and a seventh due in September.  So, she has been a very active person, fighting through the pain and difficulties until she couldn't anymore.

On June 6, she had an initial surgery where they went through her lower front area in order to insert and glue in cages along her spine to hold the rod that would be added two weeks later.  It is quite a lengthy incision, but she did very well from the surgery.

However, it stirred up inflammation in the nerves on both hips radiating down both legs to the ankles.  The severe pain immobilized her necessitating a trip one week later to the emergency room.  All during this time she stayed with and was cared for by Gin, our middle sis.

This past Tuesday she was due to have the back part of her surgery and it was my turn to care for her.  She awoke in so much pain that morning that I had no choice but to take her to the emergency room.  There she remained until they took her to pre-op thinking she would go back at 11 AM for 1 PM surgery.  It had already been pushed back from 7 AM for unknown reasons at that time.  We learned later that the doctor had been called at 6:30 AM to do surgery on a car accident victim who had broken his neck.  When they finally were able to start surgery it was 5:30 PM and she was dehydrated and in agonizing pain and extreme anxiety.

After five hours, the doctor told us he was extremely pleased with the surgery and her condition had been severe with both the scoliosis and stenosis.  He showed us before and after pictures and the difference in her back was truly amazing.

Contrary to the 12" incision the doc described to us, it is more like 20".  It goes from just below her shoulders to her tailbone.  I will spare you the picture.  But she was a trooper and tried to do everything the nurses and therapists asked her to do in spite of the pain.

This past Saturday, she was moved from the hospital in Baton Rouge to a rehab closer to her home and family.  She continues to work hard and is now standing her original 5' 11" with the straightest back you can imagine.

It is going to be a long road of recovery for her, but she is determined to be ready to enjoy her retirement, hold that new grandson due in September, and hopefully watch her oldest grandson suit up and play college football in the fall.

Thank you for those of you who have expressed interest in and concern for her during this time.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Serendipitous Moment!

I have been away from my blog for several weeks due to an extended trip to Indiana and beyond, which I can't wait to share with you in the next day or so.  Also, last week my youngest sis had extensive back surgery and I was able to stay with her in the hospital all that time.  I will write more about that later as well.

What I do want to share with you today is one of those sweet God ordained experiences that happened last week.

My sis had surgery at the Baton Rouge General in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Tuesday of last week.
While she was resting one afternoon, I went down to the cafeteria for a quick bite to eat.  As I rounded a corner, I immediately noticed two ladies painting together on a large canvas.  My attention was captured.
 I was so fascinated as I watched them work together and discuss how a bit more blue on the horizon would create depth.  I agreed.  I introduced myself and the conversation began.  That is what I want to share with you.

Patrice Brewer, left and Patti Bailey, right, are part of a wonderful program at the hospital called
"Arts in Medicine."

This program was begun to bring a variety of creative activities to patients and family members through media such as painting, drawing, arts and crafts, music and more.  They have seen amazing benefits from this therapeutic, artistic expression.

Patti and Patrice are among several artists-in-residence who work one-on-one with patients offering them the opportunity to explore their own creativity while meeting the challenges of diagnosis, treatment and simply being a survivor.
  Each artist has a rolling cart full of all the materials they will need.
The yellow folders hold coloring sheets to meet every age group, gender and/or interest should one not want to actually paint a canvas.  Those who do choose to paint may have their art work displayed on the ceiling in one of the major entrances and inside the cafeteria.
 Coloring books and pencils are made available

The patients can request a bedside visit but often a doctor, nurse or chaplain will refer a patient.

Patrice shared the story of one such patient with me and how God ministered to them through this experience.

They spend most of their time in oncology with chemo patients and in the infusion lab.  But some of their work is done in the burn unit because of the patient's lengthy stay.

They shared one such story from that unit.  Following some of the required reconstructive surgeries of a severely disfigured burn patient, this patient was being allowed to get up; however, she had never seen herself.  Her doctor asked Patrice and Patti to paint something bright and cheery over the mirrors in her hospital room so she couldn't see herself. 

About three months ago, a chaplain asked them to consider visiting this patient.  Patrice shared that she wasn't sure she could do what he asked, but told him she would pray about it.  That weekend in church, she prayed for God's direction and help in knowing how to minister to the woman.  The Lord spoke to her and said, "Look into her eyes.  Look into her eyes and see me!"  She did and they continued to minister to her until she was discharged.

A story that Patti shared is being asked by a nurse to come paint with one of her patients because when she paints she doesn't have anxiety induced seizures.

These are just a few of the many ways the artists in this program provide service and ministry.

If you know anything about college football than you must know about Mike the Tiger, LSU's famed Bengal Tiger Mascot.
 Last year the beloved Mike VI was euthanized after being diagnosed with cancer.  Patrice and Patti were asked to create a commemorative painting of him. I think they certainly did him justice.

There are other aspects of the Arts and Medicine program as well.
The walls of the cafeteria are lined with works of art by various local artists that may be purchased with proceeds going to the Arts and Medicine program.

There is a Friday Lunch Live! concert series that brings local musicians to Baton Rouge General every week and is a part of their program. Employees, physicians and visitors gather each Friday at noon to enjoy 30 to 45 minute performances by pianists, guitarists, singers and other musicians.
 I enjoyed this violin duet one afternoon.
There is also a player piano that never stopped playing the whole time I was there.  It is located between the main entrance and a bank of elevators where everyone passing can hear it.  There is seating nearby for those who just want to sit and enjoy the soothing piano sounds.

James 2:13 says "Mercy triumphs over judgement."

So many of us find it easy to love ourselves and a select few.  What about those who may not love in return?

Patti also shared a personal experience that spoke to my heart.  She said one day one of the chaplains told them about a book he had read entitled "What is Your Altar?"  He told them that their ministry to the patients and families through the expression of art is their "Altar."  Their avenue of service to others.  She went on to explain what this meant to her.  Whether she is encouraging a patient enduring long chemo treatments, a disfigured adult who can't communicate, a child enduring painful procedures, a family member sitting with a dying loved one, or simply holding an umbrella over an elderly lady's head, this is what the Lord has called them to do.  This is their altar.

What is ours?
 Merciful love is the the highest way.  Such a life of excellence and love triumphs over selfishness, lawlessness and judgment.  May God grant us the grace to live the Law of Love in everything we say and everything we do.

Thank you Patti and Patrice and the many other artists and those who supervise this wonderful program.  May God continue to bless you in this endeavor.

"Medicine heals the body, Arts heal the soul."

Linking to:  Amaze Me Monday

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My Indiana Week in Review

What a busy week plus we have had while here in Michiana - Northern Indiana.

We first had our granddaughter's high school graduation.  I will share with you just a few of my favorite pics.
 Before graduation, Savannah (left) and her two best friends met to share picture taking together.
 They have shared a special friendship from middle school.  Now, they will go their separate ways, but the bond will always be there.
 Sammy (left) and her family will be moving in the next few weeks for Sarasota, Florida where she will attend college.  Lexi will be attending Purdue where she has an academic and soccer scholarship.  Savannah has an academic scholarship to Trine University where she will also play soccer.  They are as individual as they can be, and each exceptional in her own way.
 Graduation ceremony took place on the Notre Dame Campus in the Purcell Pavilion.  There were over 900 graduates with 19 Valedictorians and three Salutatorians.  There was over 8.4 million dollars awarded in scholarships, so this was no ordinary class.  Penn High School in Mishawaka, IN was selected by the Washington Post as one of America's most challenging high schools.
And our special graduate!
 Proud parents and grandmother.
 Sibling picture.  I love this!
 We were able to watch Savannah play in three soccer games which we always enjoy.
 She such a hustler
The next time we see her, she will be a college freshman.  Oh my, where have the years gone!

We also took a road trip over to Shipshawana, an Amish and Mennonite community.  We always try to incorporate a visit when up here.  This time of year the flowers were beautiful in this little village.
 The horse-drawn carriages are a very common sight.
 When was the last time you saw a family drying their clothes on a clothesline?
Dick said his faith in womanhood was restored when we saw this.
 We didn't actually walk the little streets among the shops this trip, but it was a gorgeous enough day to have done so.
We did drive around the neighborhood that borders the tourist shopping area and saw this sweet sight.
This beautiful mother mare nursing her baby.  Not a common sight in most of our towns either.
 Every street corner was decorated with these full baskets of petunias.
This was one of the most strangely shaped trees I've ever seen.  Not sure whether it is the Shipshawana Monster or just a very damaged conifer left over from winter.

And, this is my most favorite picture of the trip.  A little girl in an open horse-drawn carriage, heading home after doing some morning shopping with her mother.
I snapped it as we were driving past and had no idea whether it would be anything other than a blur.  I love this sweet little face and wouldn't take anything for having seen her and being able to keep her.