Visiting my ailing Dad in Wisconsin…

(It helps to write about things, and you may be interested to read about my trip and (hopefully) join me in prayer for my dad’s health and spiritual well being…)

wisconsin-road-map1Sunday afternoon my family called to say my dad’s health had weakened, and they were planning a procedure for the next day at noon. After a couple of conversations it seemed important for me to be there in Wisconsin with Dad, Mom and the family. I put out a quick email/prayer request to the church elders, and looked online for travel arrangements. I found an airfare which was close to reasonable in cost, that left at 6 AM from Albany for Chicago (Midway), with enough time for me to drive to Janesville, Wisconsin (2 hours). I was up on Monday at 3.30 AM with Laurel, who dropped me at the airport around 4 AM. (And I’ve been up “early” every since!).

Travel went smoothly — I even got a nap on the flight, (despite the great sermon I was listening to on my ipod), awaking only when my own snoring got too loud. The familiar drive from Chicago to Wisconsin, from urban setting to rural, was a good time for reflection, prayer and preparation. * What would I talk to my Dad about first? Would there be any quality time for the more significant issues of faith and the future? What Scripture passage might be good to share? My morning devotions on Monday (at 4.30 AM at gate A6 in Albany), were in Hebrews 12 — about the Lord’s discipline like that of a father with his sons!

I got to the hospital well before Noon (I had forgotten to factor in the change of time zone). The family was all in Dad’s room, but stepped outside to share some concerns. Some felt things were moving way too fast. A week before, Dad had fallen and broken his right thumb. He’s had trouble standing or walking due to his congestive heart failure diagnosis, and some serious troubles with his legs and feet — complicated by his diabetes. While at the hospital last week, they had to amputate his right leg, below the knee. That went well, but after surgery, he was having serious trouble swallowing.

Dad, age 78, continued to weaken, and so they began to discuss placement of a permanent feeding tube (a PEG) — a direct portal to his stomach. This was scheduled for Monday, but delayed to double check his esophagus, run a CAT scan, and watch for improved strength for another surgery. Thankfully, I was able to help Mom, Dad, and siblings with these discussions, getting more info (specifics) from the doctors. It’s strange how being “the son from New York” gains me some measure of special attention from the doctors and nurses. Interesting!

I am convinced that Dad’s stability since Monday, the good discussions, additional medical information — and the peace about making decisions — is ALL a result of the prayers of believers, near and far. Thanks for praying!

Well, all tests indicated Dad was unknowingly allowing food and drink into his lungs whenever he swallowed (diagnosed as “silent aspiration”), creating a huge risk for pneumonia and worse. This is most common with stroke victims, or weakened elderly folks. So the procedure took place midday Tuesday, and included the removal of the feeding tube which ran through his nose and down the throat. All went well, and by Tuesday night, Dad was showing signs of improvement.

This morning (Wednesday) dad looks better. His right leg continues to heal without any troubles, and the tiny cast on his right thumb is off, with pretty good results there too. If he continues to improve, he may be able to move into the Cedarcrest nursing facility, directly connected to my parents’ housing complex, by the weekend. My return flight is scheduled for midday Thursday, and I should be able to keep that.

I have lots of thoughts and reflections on this visit, but will save them for later, Lord-willing. Let me say this — especially to those who were at CPCC last Sunday: did you forget our closing benediction? I nearly did, but the Spirit has reminded me of it. It was the Spirit of God that led me to it at the close of Sunday’s service, and now I see it was read for my benefit many hours before I learned of my dad’s troubles — behold God’s provision of real help and comfort!

If any of us have been prone to forget such benedictions (or other blessings from the Word), may we be freshly challenged by this experience.

HEBREWS 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)