Thursday, April 25, 2013

Riding out the storm: Week Two

Post Seven in this series.

(Facebook status from April 10):
Update on Lilly: i apologize if this message is disjointed. We have been without internet for a week which means i am trying to write this on my phone. things have been... Crazy over the past week. On Sunday she rapidly declined out of no where and upon examination at the vet we discovered her gi system has begun to shut down due to the antibiotic. The whole visit with the vet was an incredible God moment that i am still processing, and at some point I'll write about. Needless to say, i know God orchestrated that meeting for his good. The vet gave me a new plan of care along with his personal cell, and has been in daily contact with me monitoring her progress. Lilly seemed to bounce back a bit with the help of her new meds, new diet, and tummy massage multiple times a day, however tonight she began to show signs of extreme illness again. If things have not resolved by morning we will be again visiting our good friend dr bo at country club animal hospital. Please pray she again begins eating and drinking on her own, and that her urine production and bowel movements regulate. I have not a single doubt it was the power of prayer last week that got her through, so I'm calling on it again. There was a great quote from our sermon Sunday, it was a quote from a guy writing about turning his cancer to a blessing. He said "you will waste your cancer if you find comfort from the odds instead of from God". This has been my mantra over the past few days. The odds have been against us since day one, but by the grace of God she has continued on. I really believe deep down that his will will prevail in the end. If that means i lose her i Will be devastated of course, but i will choose to believe there still was a purpose in this all. So prayers for her health and my sanity are appreciated. If nothing else i have a whole new level of respect for my parents at work. If things are this hard for me with a pet, i can't imagine how heartwrenching it is for a parent to make these decisions about their child. I love you all, and promise to be a better friend as soon as the crisis resolves

In the week following that Sunday, I found myself running through a roller coaster of emotions. It's amazing how quickly our human minds can falter after such a mountaintop moment. As I drove away from the vet's office, I had such inner peace. In that moment I knew that God had worked a miracle, and I was content to be patient through out her healing. I had a plan of action, and the confidence of knowing my God cared... and he was at work.

After I got home and settled Lilly down, I quickly ran to the store to get the extra medications (who would have thought baby gas drops were safe for rabbits!), and specific vegetables that the vet had recommended. While Lilly had been great the week before about taking her medications, the peaceful and docile rabbit who had emerged after her first illness quickly disappeared. She became overly aggressive and combative; forget the syringe forcefeeding, even getting her meds down was suddenly impossible. I was also supposed to be 'massaging' her abdomen, helping break down gas bubbles and stimulate stomach motility, but even a few seconds was unbearable for Lilly. At first she was only biting to get me away, eventually she started biting to make her point. Even if I stopped what I was doing she would pursue me, breaking skin multiple times.

That first night as I went to bed she was still huddled in her litterbox, snuggled up with the make shift hot water compresses I had constructed to raise her body temperature (rabbits in gi stasis are at risk for hypothermia, which is deadly). She looked so miserable and it broke my heart. The peace that had persevered after our visit was dissipating, and rapidly. I found myself trying to write, trying to blog, knowing I would want to remember these moments in the future. As I started to write though, I only got a few sentences out before the motivation completely dried out.

So why am I in a position where I don’t want to trust again? Because it worked before, but got worse? Because I am afraid of getting my hopes dashed? God healed her the first time, and I have to trust that he can do it again.. if it’s his will.

So many people had told me I needed to write this story. Family, friends, people who didn't even know I had a blog commented that this story was touching so many people. I felt the need to write, but I couldn't. My hands and mind were frozen, and all I could do was sit, numbly.

I was angry at myself, frustrated by my lack of faith. God had saved her from death's door the first time, he could certainly do it again. But I was tired. I was overwhelmed; having such blind faith was exhausting and in that moment, I just couldn't be falsely optimistic. I wanted to be confident and trusting, particularly after the experience just a few hours prior, but I was drained.

I went to bed that night, and begged God to let it all be ok.

When I woke up the next morning there was some stool in her litter box, but we had a long way to go.

When I think about Week One I feel sad, and scared. I remember how frightening it was to spend every moment thinking she was going to die, to have no hope for a future. I remember being over whelmed by the myriad of other issues I was dealing with, and I remember crying, A lot.

When I think about Week Two... I just feel tired. Part of her plan of care required me to drive home every day during my lunch hour to give her medications and tummy massage. While my work was certainly understanding, this also required me to come in earlier (to account for the extra time), and meant I didn't have a 'break' during the day. I usually scarfed down some lunch in between feeding Lilly and giving her medicine, then would hop right back in the car and go on my way. Her agressiveness continued, and I felt helpless knowing there was only so much I could do for her, and worrying I wasn't able to do enough.

Her health vascillated that entire week. One day she would be back to normal, the next day she would be withdrawn and constipated. Several nights I went to sleep planning to take her straight to the vet the next morning if she hadn't pooped. Luckily, each morning I would awaken to some recovery. We were improving, just slowly.

On top of all of the other stress we were still without internet, making my isolation from the 'real world' even more prevalent. Not to mention, the long-term patient I had mentioned was rapidly declining, and my partner and I were called upon to accelerate Make A Wish and provide memory making activities. I was struck by the inner peace that drove this family; sure they were devastated, but they were calm, collected. They had prayerfully made their decisions, and they stood by them. I could only hope to emulate their poise.

My life consisted of work and Lilly, and I was exhausted,. Grateful to have her, but exhausted. Feeling guilty for being exhausted when I should only feel grateful, but ultimately... I was running on empty.

That Thursday I went in early for our bi monthly prayer meeting. Every other Thursday the chaplain sets up a prayer time and devotional for any employees who are interested. The meeting had become such a blessing in my life for two major reasons. One: I had gotten very close to coworkers I wouldn't have otherwise realized I could trust and thus had new support. Two: Pretty much every single week the 'topic' was a gift from God, EXACTLY what I needed at that time in my life.

As I mentioned before the theme for that week was "Waiting on God to intervene".

And I was, waiting for him, that is.

I mentioned before that there are other things going on behind the scenes that can't be discussed on a public forum yet, and unfortunately, that is still the case. Suffice to say I was, I am still, waiting on God to reveal some things to me, things that I was getting impatient about. Not to mention, impatient for my rabbit to really get better.

The devotional spoke on why we wait for God, how sometimes things are happening behind the scenes of which we are unaware and God holds out his answer until things are ready. It also discussed that sometimes we get so focused on one particular answer that we stop waiting for God and start waiting for just that answer. Until we are willing to let go and loosen our grip, we prevent God from acting.

"we need to remember that while we are waiting, God is working. He sees the entire picture and is active behind the scenes, arranging everything according to his will. But perhaps his most important work is the deepening of our relationship with him as we learn to love and trust him in the wait".

I opened up during the meeting, sharing my burdens, and was met with amazing support. As I walked away from the group, I knew instinctively that I would have an answer waiting for me on my phone for one of my issues. Sure enough, it was there, just not the answer I wanted, a sign that the answer was still forthcoming, that I still needed to wait.

I took it as confirmation from God that there were other things in my life I needed to get a grip on before he would tell me one way or another.

The next morning I took Lilly to the vet for her one week follow up. This would be the blood test that indicated if her levels had continued to drop back into the normal range, or if we were dealing with a long term problem. Not to mention, I was concerned that she was again constipated and had been for 24 hours.

The vet had been great about keeping in touch all week. He had repeatedly texted me to check on Lilly, to check on me. He had answered all of my questions with a smile (literally, gotta love emoticons); the only reason I had survived our ups and downs of the week was knowing he was a text or call away. Still, I was nervous, for good reason, to see what the results would show.

He listened to her stomach and assured me he could hear movement, he wasn't concerned as GI stasis can take quite a while to completely recover from. He then took her back for the blood work, and immediately I began pulling out my Psalms again. Chapter after chapter I read, even after he brought her back so we could wait for results. Images of the past two weeks filtered through my head: the hours of sitting in this room, not knowing. The family I had watched pay the bill after they put down their dog that first day. The sweet man who had asked my advice on getting his daughter a rabbit. The hours of medications and tummy massages. Waking up in the middle of the night and instead of rolling back over immediately, taking the time to check her litter box to see if there was production. Praying over her, praying on my knees for the first time in my life. It had been a roller coaster.

The vet came in with a piece of paper and simply said: "Do you want to frame this?"

I burst into tears, happy this time.

(Facebook status from April 12):

Normal!!! Lillys follow up labs showed normal kidney function. She's still having some gi issues but the doctor said her stomach sounds active, so this should just take a few days of special food i am thrilled, relieved and so grateful to God, to my friends and family, and for all the prayer. Seriously, it means so much that i know i have support behind us during this time. I am so blessed

To be Continued...

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