Friday, 29 January 2010

Another family adventure...

Yesterday night was sleepover we all pitched up at the hospice with sleeping bags and camp beds for a family dvd with an absolutely gigantic bar of chocolate (thanks Jo !). We watched 'Bedtime Stories' which was very funny...a great family movie ! It was a late night though - the children all noticing every noise in the place until very late....

This afternoon we had a family bible study on heaven which was magnificent. Jesus has made the way possible, Karena will see him very soon. At the end our bible study, Karena gave a little "yippee" at the prospect of arriving at her final destination. She is full of faith and anticipation.

This last week couple of weeks has taught me a very valuable life lesson....10 days ago we were told that Karena would "probably live 3-10 days". It's day 10 and she's still going. The truth is simply that the God who spoke a word to bring the world into being, is the same God who ordained Karena's birth, and He's the same God who will say the word to call her to her permanent home...and until He does so, she will still be here. I really value the medical staff who have been absolutely brilliant but Karena's life isn't actually in their hands, it's in the hands of her Lord, and He hasn't called "Time" just yet....

Yesterday Karena said she misses stroking Tom (one of our cats)... so tonight he's coming in to see her too !!! Should be fun, or perhaps just chaos !

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A glass of wine....

Yesterday, the consultant told us that Karena may now have another week to live. But she continues to weaken and get more tired each day a little at a time. I can't see a lot of good to be found in the process of dying...watching my wife take steps closer and closer to it each day feels pretty awful. But there are still enjoyable moments in each day - Today we had a glass of wine together....Karena had to have hers through a straw but we toasted "Family Mackay", and we also managed to watch part of a film and do some story book together. That was good.

God is holding Karena in the palm of His hand. She has such a great reward at the end of this - it'll be mega for her, and we'll be heart broken, but will take great comfort from knowing where she is....and one day we will see her again.

In my Bear Grylls book today, I read this "Always hold hands with those you love whenever you have the chance". Sounds like very good advice to me - so I'm going to go and do that now....

Monday, 25 January 2010

A family adventure....

Saturday night was movie night...we all stayed at the hospice for a sleepover with sleeping bags and did a family dvd (I forgot the popcorn though!). Thankfully we have now moved back to the family room so there was enough room for us all to stay. The film was complete rubbish - I'm the only person who seemed to think that, although Karena would have agreed I think if she didn't sleep through the whole thing !
The hospice staff are fantastic and brought us all breakfast on Sunday morning.
Karena's condition has definitely worsened and she is considerably weaker. Her painkillers have increased so she is more sleepy and can slur her words some of the time.
On Sunday, she was marginally improved and more compus mentus. Sunday evening was totally spectacular - Karena praying for each of our children in turn, asking God's blessing for them, and speaking into their lives for their future in her final days. For a half hour I almost forgot she was quite so ill - she was like spiritual dynamite (that's my girl !!)
After getting the children home to bed, I returned at the end of the evening and held onto her hand through the night. I intend to escort this woman of God to the gates of glory, as best as I am able.

Deut 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged"

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Marriage time....

Yesterday (Friday) was another emotional one - Karena said some thank you's and goodbye's to special friends and also on the phone to her very dear cousin in Australia whom she loves dearly. Emotionally it was all very exhausting for her but it was a privilege to be a part of it all. We also had some quality time together with the children and finished another book "Killer Cat" in one sitting!
She had the nasal-gastric tube fitted late last night. I cried. It is helping her though, she was not sick last night as a consequence.

A little over a year ago, Karena and I had the privilege of leading "The Marriage Course" at church - one of the key lessons from the course is to have weekly scheduled "Marriage time" to just talk and be together doing something that is enjoyable for just the two of you - to keep the romance alive and communication open.
We have been a bit remiss of late booking in a slot because of circumstances - but had some great marriage time again last night - children in bed at home and Matt staying over, so I could spend the night at the hospice. This time there was no exquisite cuisine, no wine, no movie - just 2 beds pulled together, and the opportunity to hold her hand for the night....when I got up early this morning, I just sat and watched her sleeping - it was all very very special ;-)

Karena is ready to go home now - Jesus is waiting to greet her in just a few days time. She is very peaceful. Jesus has conquered death and the gates of heaven are wide open ....

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Quick update....

Not quite sure what to say at the end of today really......we have been awash with tears....
The best part of the day was a bible study with Sean on "death and heaven" which was absolutely outstanding! It gave us hope, confidence for the future, anticipation even.....and turned on the taps all at the same time!

We've had some great cards and letters too which has provoked more tears (in a good way) !
Karena will probably be having a nasal-gastric tube fitted tomorrow to continually drain the contents of her stomach which should help to relieve her sickness symptoms. But it's another confirmation that her body is gradually shutting down. It will do little to improve her gorgeous features but as beauty is internal rather than external, I reckon her beauty is totally unaffected! ;-)
Her sense of humour is still in evidence and my children have now started asking me when I last washed my jeans (how annoying!) - she has trained them well !

When we went in to see Mum tonight we managed to finish off our "100mph dog" book - very amusing ! Any suggestions for another funny family read ? - we need humour right now...answers on a postcard please...!

Tomorrow I have taken the children out of school again and we are going to spend the day with Mum.

Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25)

Sleep well. x

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A decisive step on the journey....

Karena was quite sick through the night. As expected, her bowel has now stopped they have stopped the laxatives and given her some more meds to dry things up in the stomach and to stop her sickness, and she has also stopped eating as a consequence. So she has not been sick today, which has been much better for her. We both had a jolly good cry earlier today as it feels like another very decisive step on the journey we are all on. They have told us that Karena should live at least another 3 days, but probably less than 10. One of the drugs they are now using will make her even more tired/sleepy than she already is.
She is still strong in heart though and we had some giggles tonight as we read "Christmas Chaos for the 100mph dog". Most amusing - a funny family read !
Tomorrow I have taken the children out of school in order to spend the day with their mum. We will finish the book hopefully and perhaps watch a video, look at some photos and play a game or two. Karena will be he hub of our attention of course (when she is awake). Should be fun - these are very precious days.

So it looks like by the end of next week Karena will meet Jesus face-to-face.

Rom 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday's update

Karena was a bit more "with-it" today when we went in to see her along with her Dad, Mum, sister, the groovey boys and "Big Esther" with baby Isabel(who made me quite coooey!) - Karena was able to take part in conversation and generally keep up with things which was much better. (Yesterday I took the children in and we played a board game for most of the afternoon and Karena slept through the whole thing). Her pain is the same but slightly more in control. She managed about 2 hours today before needing quiet and sleep - so we came home.

This morning we sang the words of the song below at church - Karena will be meeting Jesus face-to-face quite soon now. Wow! What a thought! Her future is secure, there is life beyond the grave, a future hope, a grace that knows no bounds, and a promise that is cast-iron !

We're hoping that tomorrow she may be well enough to come out of hospice for a couple of hours.
Appreciating your ongoing prayers xx

Verse 1
The greatest day in history,
Death is beaten, You have rescued me
Sing it out Jesus is alive
The empty cross, The empty grave
Life eternal You have won the day
Shout it out Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh happy day, happy day
You washed my sin away
Oh happy day, happy day
I’ll never be the same
Forever I am changed

Verse 2
When I stand, in that place
Free at last, meeting face to face
I am Yours Jesus You are mine
Endless joy, perfect peace
Earthly pain finally will cease
Celebrate Jesus is alive
He’s alive

Oh what a glorious day
What a glorious way
That You have saved me
Oh what a glorious day
What a glorious name

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Thursday's update...

Karena went back into the hospice yesterday night - more serious tummy pain. Her tumour is clearly advancing quite rapidly. They gave her injections after we arrived and she was peaceful and sleepy when I left her. Unfortunately through the night her condition worsened and she was frequently sick. They're not sure if her bowel has now stopped functioning completely, but she's clearly not in good shape with increased pain and discomfort requiring increased painkillers and anti sickness drugs too. As a consequence, today she has been very sleepy - and aware of conversation around her but hardly able to take part at all. She is also weaker.
The consultant today said that they would continue with the current drugs but would increase the background analgesia and see if her bowel starts up again (it may do apparrently). She's very uncomfortable though. When Karena asked, the consultant said that depending on what happens with her bowel "you may live a few days or you may live a few weeks".....and so the words of the Psalmist resound like a gong in my ears once again.....

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be"

Karena is in the hands of her Lord. She is facing death square-on, and is confident in the goodness of God, and that her place in glory is secure through Christ's death for her.

Let's see what tomorrow holds.....appreciating your ongoing prayers.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Tuesday's update....

Karena came out of the hospice yesteday for some R&R at home. It's been fab having her back. I am Doctor Daddy again for a few days administering the plethora of drugs, patches and injections !
Tonight we have been cooking together (Tanya Ramsay is rapidly becoming a favourite of mine)....tonight it was "Chicken in a Pot" - and it was absolutely stunning.
Earlier today we went out for lunch together and Karena also had her hair trimmed by her dear friend Sarah who came to our house. So now Karena looks even more lovely than she did before !
Karena will need to go back for an appointment with the hospice consultant on Thursday but hopefully will be well enough to come home again afterwards. We have a hospital bed being delivered to our house on Friday (Karena doesn't sleep so well in our double bed now).
The children are all in bed....and we are snuggled up on the sofa watching Pride and Prejudice (I fell asleep on the sofa during the first episode last night - doh !)

Stuff to pray for :-
  • Bowel to keep functioning
  • Pain relief to be kept under control to maximise her time out of the hospice.
  • Some more fun family times
Good night Mr Darcy !

Friday, 8 January 2010

A trip through the snow....

Karena is still at the Duchess of Kent hospice....she could have come out but we are still snowed in at home so she will stay in the hospice for the time being. Yesterday's birthday celebrations were not quite as planned due to the snow....I couldn't get the car out of the drive, so we ventured out on foot with cholocate and pressies in the rucksack. We missed the train by 5 minutes (grrrr), the next one (half hour later) was cancelled, the following one (scheduled a further half hour later) was half an hour late - so we eventually got on the 5 minute train journey into town an hour and a half after we arrived at the railway station!! Slightly irritating! We were all very cold but after a hot chocolate in a warm cafe the toes started to return to life....and after another train journey and trecking through the snow we eventually got to the hospice 4 hours after leaving home - an adventure and a memory at the same time...we felt quite triumphant after our mission codenamed "Operation Lubir" was eventually accomplished !
We then had the birthday party - we did pressies, family dvd, take-away pizza and had some fun!
This morning I managed to dig the car out with help from a neighbour and so we got to the hospice much more quickly. Karena is an outstanding woman. This morning she completed an "Advanced Directive" which is a legal document which says what intervention you do (and don't) want in the event that certain things happen and you are not compus mentus enough to be able to decide what treatment you would like to have.....and the reality of her situation hits home once more as you discuss the possibilities of how her last days could end. The consultant was absolutely outstanding though - better care you could not hope for.
Am hoping to take Karena out tomorrow for lunch with the children - she is still hoping to get home to make a birthday cake sometime over the next few days. She is now very anaemic though so will be having a blood transfusion on Monday. Hopefully she'll be able to come home afterwards providing the snow clears to some degree (so that I can confidently get her out of the house in an emergency).
Karena read from her daily Spurgeon readings today from April 20th (don't ask why she's on April when it's January??!!)...which is based on Hebrews 2:14 and reads...
"Child of God, death has lost it's sting....ask God the Holy Spirit to grant you an intimate knowledge and a firm belief in your Redeemer's death, so that you may be strengthened for that Child of God, what is there for you to fear in death, seeing that through the death of our Lord Jesus, it's curse and sting are destroyed..."

Where oh death is your sting ?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

4 days later.....

Well 2010 didn't start quite as planned.... I took Karena back into Duchess of Kent due to severe abdo pain on 2nd Jan very early in the morning (3am)....then brought her home again later that day after some injections and rest etc.

Then on the 3rd I had to take her back again about 8pm with the same symptoms +sickness through the night...not good. She came out again today after lots of recovery sleep yesterday (she was absolutely pooped!)

Unfortunately due to the snow, I was somewhat concerned that if she had another night of pain then I might not be able to get her back to the hospice (it's the other side of town), so in the end we elected to take her back to sleep there for adventured out into the snow.....

Hopefully we will be able to get back there tomorrow to see her.

It's Olivia's birthday on Thursday so Karena is desperate to be home for that (and to make a cake !) Don't really want to do birthday tea in the hospice if at all possible !

This is such a tough road for her; please pray for courage and strength to take one day at a time, to know God's presence, and for us all to cherish the time that we have together.

Friday, 1 January 2010

One year on.....

She came out of the hospice yesterday afternoon on a semi-discharged basis. Amazingly they have agreed to keep an extra bed for her so that we can pop back in anytime as needed (a great safety blanket). They don't do this normally as they have 12 beds which are generally all full with people waiting to get in there - Karena seems to have won great favour which is superb and a real answer to prayer - she is very gracious to them all of course and the care she has received from the doctors, nurses and support staff has been outstanding.
So the plan for the next few weeks is that she will be based at home with regular visits from district nurses and macmillan nurses and outpatient appointments at Dutchess of Kent. They think that she should be in generally reasonable health on the current mix of drugs for most, or perhaps all, of January....only God knows the actual timing of it all.
So for New Years Eve we did some family games on the Wii and a glass of wine.....then into bed before midnight !
Tomorrow we have daughter#2 birthday breakfast and cinema trip with friends.....normal life continues !
Aside from that we are planning more cooking lessons and lots of coffee's out ! A romantic few weeks awaits.... ;-)

It was exactly one year ago (New Years Eve) that Karena was diagnosed with cancer. What a year it has been emotionally, practically & medically....! Through it all we have known ..."the Lord is our strength and our shield, our hearts trust in Him, and we are helped..." (Ps 28:7)

2010 here we come....