A Living Miracle

I haven’t posted a health update for months and months because everything stayed the same and changed the same like waves rising and falling with the tide.  Some weeks I enjoyed ample energy to rise early, write, help a little around the house, start a non-profit org. here and there, etc.

Other weeks I felt like staying in bed, wobbly legs weren’t sure they liked holding me up at the top of the stairs.  Blood levels went all over the map and sometimes responded to the oral chemo, other times they ignored it and went flying.

Still, I felt motivated to add more to my life by launching a non-profit to help raise funds and recruit teachers and volunteers to help in Northern Iraq.  Materials have been ordered, promo videos are being planned.  Before long we could come to your group and alert folks to the urgent need and open doors for “being Christ” to Muslims, Yazidis, Syrians, and Medes.

Then I got a sore throat.

Combined with lots of chest congestion.

I tried all the natural (and some unnatural) means of cure.

Then I got a fever.

I couldn’t breathe.

Then my fever went higher.

Then my daughters took me to ER.  (We had dropped Rebecca off at the airport at 5 in the morning for a quick visit with friends in AK -we just didn’t realize how quick a visit it would become).

Before they gave me anything, the doctors in ER wanted to make clear that because of my underlying terminal condition they would not opt for putting me on a ventilator -“did I have my living will taken care of?”

For hours I felt like invisible hands were getting a tighter and tighter stranglehold on my throat and I had to fight for every breath.

Chest x-rays revealed some pneumonia.  Let the IV antibiotics begin.

“You’re going to be admitted, but we don’t have any rooms available.  Please wait.”

We waited.

What a remarkable journey my youngest two daughters have been on already in their short life.  What troopers!  What gracious servants!

We waited some more.

Finally, a room.  Oops, nope, not that one.

“Okay, we’ve got a new room for you now.  Transport will be by in a while to move you to your room.”

We waited a while.

Finally took up housekeeping in Room 326.  A cozy corner room with a sofa, recliner (of sorts), and fancy airbed.

I can’t lie down or my sense of asphyxiation takes over.  I spend the whole night standing for a few minutes (best position for getting breaths), then sitting for a few minutes, then reclining for about 1 minute (till I can’t breathe), then standing again, then a trip to the bathroom.

Caleb came up from the Harbor to be with us (about 11 pm).  He “slept” on a chair and/or the floor but was always alert if I moved (which as noted above was every 2-4 minutes).  The girls shared the sofa -briefly.  They had to leave at 4:15 a.m. to go back to SEATAC to pick up Rebecca.  She wasn’t in the Great Land for 24 hours.  Not the original plan, needless to say.

Throughout yesterday morning, more of the same – standing to breathe, sitting or reclining to rest (for about 3 min), then back vertical again.  I was quite sure I would NEVER again feel that wonderful full breath you get once you’ve “caught your breath.”

Two of my kindred spirits (John A and John M) came to visit and pray.  We just laid it out before the Lord.  No fireworks, no theatrics, just heart-cries!

I asked to be taken off oxygen.  My blood oxygen level stayed high!

In the afternoon my daughter Sarah (a nurse practitioner in Virginia) called suggesting they put me on a medication to ease the breathing tension.  Folks here knew exactly what she was talking about.  Within hours I was breathing a bit more relaxed.  A strong dose before bedtime meant I slept for about 6 hours straight -lying down on the bed (which we had figured out how to make slant on a 40 degree angle toward the floor) -yes there’s a stout foot-board so I didn’t keep sliding into a heap on the floor!

This morning I feel I’ve been given yet another new lease on life.  Still some wheezing and congestion, no fever.  Good appetite!

As I’ve read in recent weeks of several friends who have graduated to Glory I’ve been reminded that “our times are in His hands.”  Yes, I’m ready when He calls, but after this experience I am going to ask that the “end” not be through asphyxiation.  -That is indescribably not fun!

Meanwhile, back to the trenches.  I think they’ll let me go home today.  I won’t mingle with sick folks for a while just to protect my immune system (what there is of it).  Lot’s of writing to do.

Thanks for putting up with this chapter of “The Life and Times of J. Dan Small.”