Ok- even though it seems like change has been ongoing since about April 14th 2014 (when we really began to see Mark become ill), we realize that some crazy change is about to happen in the next couple weeks and even in the next couple days!
We are moving into a place called Brent’s Place on Thursday. This is a home for cancer patients and their families. State of the art facility, really, in that it is the only one in the state that is cleaned and up to standards for the kind of clean patients with compromised immune systems need. So, Mark will live in a small community with his own two bedroom apartment which is needed so that those people who are coming to let me leave and tend to our kids have a room of their own, and so that when possible, our whole family can gather there to spend nights together, etc. Brent’s Place is amazing! I have been following them for several months (even before we knew we might ever need it) on Facebook. Check out their web-site!
So, we are about to have some more freedoms and some more restrictions. Mark has lots more freedom! He can go outside, go for walks, go see movies during non peak times, eat home cooked meals, sleep through the night without nurses interrupting, he doesn’t have to get vitals taken every four hours, he doesn’t have to capture his pee! So, this is all great for him, for us, and for friends and family who come to town as now life seems a bit more “normal”- whatever THAT is….
Restrictions come into play more for me, now. I will be with Mark 24/7. Which is good! But, I have not been shy in talking with the social workers and psychologists and have been told that especially since I am an introvert, I need to provide myself some time through this that has nothing to do with Mark or my girls so I can stay healthy. That being said, I also need to be there for our girls and for Mark as much as possible, so we have collaborated with staff here and come up with a plan. There are six individuals (family and friends) who will each take one week every other week to come and stay in Denver with Mark so I can leave, stay the night at our house and be more involved with our kids. I will still usually be the one to come down and take him to doctor appointments as his primary caregiver and such, but our circumstances are a bit unique in that we do have four teens and no family that lives in state so I will be relying on the help of these wonderful people and dear friends in our community who have been helping and will continue to help out with meals, paper products, snacks, breakfast foods and toiletries for our girls while our family continues to be split and now, will be split even more! (Yes, I have created a list of things I need to get tomorrow for the apartment living Mark and I will be having, too!)
(The social worker just told me that having anxiety at this stage of the game is VERY normal as we have all along had a plan and known sort of what to expect next. Diagnosis, plan with chemo, going home, diagnosis, chemo, going home, diagnosis, chemo, transplant, going to live in an apartment in Denver time undetermined, doctor visits undetermined, plan of action- depends on what transpires…etc…. you get the picture.) Anyway, at least the anxiety I feel is to be expected!
So, in the midst of this, we prepare for Shyanna to go to college!! WHAT?! Yes, tomorrow, we are shopping to hopefully finish up getting her what she needs to be 4.5 hours away from home and on her own for the first time! Our other three girls start school when we return from getting Shy settled in at college and ….. so do I!!!
So, yes! There is a TON going on!
Why am I going back to school? A couple reasons.
1- If you know me, you know I do MUCH better when I have something to focus on and accomplish. There is literally nothing about my life that is as it has been since this has happened. I can’t teach my classes, volunteer at school or with That Place or with our youth group as I haven’t had any sort of consistency or schedule that will allow me to make those sorts of commitments and all the time that is needed to be involved with them. I also haven’t been able to be with my whole family in one place for more than several hours a week if we are lucky (usually on a Sunday). Going to school gives me something to focus on and do no matter where I am as it will all be on line. It also allows me to be creative since I am creating my own degree and find ways of helping others through this kind of isolating situation we have been going through through what I am calling Social Activity Therapy. Perfect, right?
2. If one thing has become clear through this situation, it is that you never know what will happen and so, I feel it is a good option for me to have my degree finished so that if at ANY point I am needed to step up and make better money for our family, I am able. (I have been very blessed to have the freedom to volunteer my butt off over the years- doing all kinds of things I love to do and haven’t HAD to be paid for. But, this can’t continue forever…. most of the time in real life. I still say though, that I would love to go to a third world country and open and run and orphanage….. )
There will also continue to be adjustments for us all as if you know our family, you know we are the type of family who mostly still eats dinner at the table together. We go to all the kids’ events at school and sometimes split up because there is more than one and we don’t want anyone feeling neglected. We also are not coaching basketball- which we have done for over 13 years and for the last 6 years, we have coached basketball year round! So, times are a changing and there is just about nothing that seems remotely “normal” going on right now- except school starting in some ways.
So, please continue to pray for all of us through these on-going transitions.
Please continue to pray that Mark doesn’t get an infection, that he doesn’t get Graft v Host Disease, Pray against Leukemia, but that if leukemia cells do stir up the new immune system he has in place does work in Graft v Leukemia. Please continue to pray for healing and health and restoration – and that our family stays strong, and this continues to bring us closer to each other, other people who care and to God. Please continue to pray as you feel led- it’s all been working so far and we appreciate it and you so much!