Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jesus Reigns in Room 214

Last Saturday was a hard day.

I woke up tired and crabby.  I had lost an hour's sleep worrying in the middle of the night, mostly about the logistics of Mom's transfer from the hospital to a nursing home. She didn't get to go to Page Springs Assisted Living -- the one we had originally hoped for; they couldn't accommodate her needs. 

The hospital was eager for us to leave, due to Medicare regulations that declared Mom ineligible for hospitalization.

Around 11 AM a friend prayed for me and thereafter the fog lifted and I finished the day with more energy than I started.  The things I worried about didn't happen. The transfer itself went efficiently.
Outside the main entrance of the hospital, on her way to the nursing home.

But a new heaviness came instead.  I guess I was hoping the nursing home would seem like something other than a nursing home.  But when we arrived, it was very much a nursing home, with bad smells and flaccid people staring vacantly and hurried staff. The hospital had been intimidating through its professionalism and sterility. But the nursing home was oppressive through its apathy and deathliness. It is one thing to visit strangers in one of these places. It’s another to leave your own mother in one.

Right after we arrived I got a message from a friend warning me that his mother had nearly died in the very facility Mom was entering.  I didn't tell Mom about this message -- she was scared enough already.  Leaving Dad to spend the night at the nursing home with her, I headed home with a heavy heart.

I sent out an email that evening asking friends to pray, and spent time in prayer for Mom myself.  On Sunday four dear Christian friends came to encourage and pray with Mom.

And, I don't know how to describe it, but the atmosphere in room 214 has changed.  The oppressive cloud of fear has departed.  Jesus reigns!  The staff have been friendly and helpful, and I don't think it can be just explained by differences between weekday and weekend staff.  

To bring you up to date on Mom's condition:
  • People here have been very considerate of her environmental allergies.  Most of them are already trained to not wear fragrances.  
  • She qualified for hospice and we cautiously signed up for it today.  It's obvious that she has been declining the last four years since the osteoporosis really kicked in.  Having her tibia snap while showering is pretty good evidence for how fragile her bones are becoming.  No one knows when another fracture will happen or whether she will walk again.  Through hospice, Medicare will provide a hospital bed, wheelchair, and other medical equipment for our home so that we can care for her there.
  • Meantime, she is getting some great help from a physical therapist and occupational therapist here at the nursing home.  Today the PT and I got her sitting up with her legs off the bed -- the first time in 9 days.  Thank You Jesus for people like Suzan and Alicia who have medical knowledge that works, and the "people skills" to impart it.
My sister-in-law and niece who live 100 miles away showed up for a surprise visit!
And here is how you can be praying for us:
  • Ultimately, we are here in room 214 to be Jesus' ambassadors in a dark place.  Pray that God will open our mouths and our visitors' ears and hearts so that powerful conversations about Jesus take place.
  • Pray that the three of us will get more sleep at night.
  • Pray for Mom's bowels to move more consistently so that she can eat more. 
  • Pray for wisdom for us know when to bring her home.  We want to get her the knowledge of the therapists here, but we also know after a certain point she will recover more quickly at home.
Lessons we're learning:
  • Jesus is more powerful than our worst fear.
  • Visiting suffering people is incredibly nourishing -- for both parties.  I can see why Jesus mentioned "I was sick, and you visited Me" right up there along with "I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat."
  • The medical system is really messed up but has some really great people.
  • If churches developed ways to provide even just basic medical care just to their members Christians could strengthen their relationships with each other, save a ton of money (which could be used to fund foreign missions instead), and wow the world with a medical system that runs on love, not legislation.  What would that look like?  Much prayerful brainstorming is needed, but here are a few ideas from the top of my head:
    • What if church members with large homes set aside a bedroom and made a bathroom wheelchair accessible for use by other members who needed non-hospital medical care?
    • What if church members with medical training held classes to share that training, at no charge, with other members?  What if they provided medical services to other members?
    • What if church members used their combined savings to partially self-insure each other?  Everyone could get high-deductible policies (or, if the congregation was large enough drop them altogether) if the members were willing to pledge their savings to cover each other in the event of catastrophe.

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