A few days back, the Obama campaign released an interactive slideshow called The Life of Julia. Ladies, if you have not yet seen it, walk through it. Then remember that neither I, nor the vast majority of Republicans, view you as helpless, impotent freeloaders the way Julia is portrayed here. A candidate for president wants you die. Seriously? (I’ve already covered that, but it keeps cropping up; I guess the campaign isn’t reading my blog.)
This also shows Obama’s pure hubris and arrogance once again. Are his policies REALLY going to affect her life 60+ years in the future? Without a strong country backing it, all the health policies in the world are nothing more than useless words on paper. We do not have the money to fund this vision of our nation, even if we all agreed that it was the way to go.
Finally, this illustrates a strange world view. God has commanded the church to care for the poor, and commanded husbands to care for their wives and fathers to care for their children. There’s precious little of ANY of those institutions mentioned in poor Julia’s life. Where is the love? Where is the community? Where is the family? Nowhere to be seen. Her dependence on government programs is pretty strong, though.
I can’t help but wonder if Romney hacked Obama’s website and put this up there. It certainly paints a worse picture of Obama/Biden and their disdain for women than it does of Romney and any of his plans.
As most of you know, this past two weeks have been quite an experience. We were supposed to leave for a trip home, visiting Dollywood, seeing family and friends, and in short, having an actual vacation. That’s not how it went down…
Wednesday evening, having gotten our vehicle completely loaded, we sat down to eat. Michelle had cream of chicken soup, and when she was through, she said that she felt a little off. About a half hour later, she was having abdominal pain so severe that it was making her black out if she tried to get up out of bed. She called a specialist who was familiar with her history, and he said that it sounded like she needed to go to the ER with a suspected a gall bladder problem. She also had a hernia that she’s had since our third son Jameson was born; she had been consulting with this specialist to have it fixed January/February of next year. At the ER, they ruled out a blockage in this hernia and gall bladder problems, and it looked like we may have been sent home. Michelle asked the ER doctor to talk with her specialist, and once he did, she was admitted. The next morning, this specialist evaluated her, and said that the hernia had become incarcerated; it wasn’t blocked, but blood flow had been cut off to it, and the intestines were starting to die. This hernia repair became a 4-hour, 15-minute emergency surgery, followed by a day in ICU, two days in a step-down unit, and four days in the standard post-surgical inpatient unit.
Although this situation was scary at times, there is a whole lot more about which we can be thankful. For the balance of this post, I’d like to take some time to, as the old hymn says, “count my blessings.”
First, look at all the good things dealing with the timing of this. Praise the Lord we were here in Albuquerque, and not somewhere on I-40. It is highly unlikely that the diagnosis would have been made, and surgery performed, were we not where Michelle’s history was already known. Even if they had, the week-long hospital stay in some unknown town would have been difficult; as it was, we were able to use our home, and rely on our network of friends here for support (more about them next). Michelle’s specialist, who made the correct diagnosis, is only in Albuquerque once a month, but he was here that night; we found out later that he actually stayed over an extra day to do this surgery. Also, a surgeon whom he trained as a resident (and called his “star pupil”) is the director of surgery at Lovelace hospital here in town; he and she both were able to work together on the surgery. And, while we knew this surgery was coming, the fact that it had to be done as emergency surgery means that it’s automatically covered; no paperwork hassles and waiting for referrals! I had already lined up time off from work, so I wasn’t expected to be there.
Second, I’m exceedingly grateful to my friends here in Albuquerque. I won’t name them all publicly because I haven’t asked their permission, but there were many families that came together to help take care of our children (even offering for them to spend the night, which never did materialize). There were also many other families that made meals for us, bringing us so much food that we were able to get at least 2 meals out of each one. Phone calls, visits, and e-mails of support also helped Michelle and me during this time. Finally, prayer - I know that the one thing that has made the difference in this situation was the intercessory prayer on Michelle’s behalf, and prayers for me as I was working through everything else. During the entire time, I was never worried; I had a peace that the doctors were going to figure it out, and we were going to be OK. While I try not to let on too much, that mindset is pretty rare for me when facing medical situations - my mind wants to go off and worry about these worst-case scenarios, rather than trust God in the scenario in which He’s placed me. As I put prayer requests out via Twitter (more on that below), we often saw near-immediate change in situations. Both Michelle and I are very grateful for those of you who lifted us up in prayer.
Third, special thanks go to our families. From the time they heard about what was going on, the planning was continuous. Everyone worked together, and the children were able to still get to go visit them. Thanks to our families, they were even able to spend a few days at our vacation condo in Pigeon Forge and meet up with friends with whom we were going to be vacationing. Having the children safely with grandparents, I was free to focus on Michelle, and helping her during her stay in the hospital. It’s also helped her to be able to focus on her recovery now that she’s at home. The children will be coming home soon (in time for Christmas), and we’re really looking forward to seeing them.
Fourth, Twitter was great. Sure, it may seem strange to offer thanks for a social networking site, but Twitter really helped me during this time. Facebook would have seemed to be the solution for keeping people informed, but Michelle has friends, and I have friends, and some of those cross, but some don’t. Since you have to be friends to see updates, I would have had to have double-posted. (I don’t even know if the Facebook client on our phones lets you easily manage dual accounts; and while I’ve boasted about Seesmic Web’s ability to dual-post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time, Seesmic for BlackBerry doesn’t support Facebook.) Twitter, being public by default, was what I needed. I didn’t need to give the same update by phone 14 times, and I didn’t need to fiddle with changing settings. “Pull up the box, type my 140 characters or less, and press send” was much easier for providing up-to-date information to people who wanted to know it. There was a little resistance from some folks, but once I reassured them that my profile page was a simple web page with no account needed, they got it. I’m now grateful for the micro-blogging platform I scorned for so long.
Finally, I want to praise the Lord for this outcome. Although it wasn’t our timing, God knew when this hernia needed to be repaired. It’s been hanging around (pardon the pun) for nearly six years - the fact that it’s in the past, even now, I don’t think has truly sunk in yet. The doctors who needed to be here were here. We avoided the disaster of being sent home from the ER with the problem unresolved. While, obviously, Michelle isn’t completely healed from surgery this extensive in two weeks, her healing progress has been in line with what the doctors have expected; this isn’t an exercise in “speed-healing.” Looking back, we can see how everything worked together to ensure this bad situation had a good outcome. Thank you, Lord.
I had originally planned to post something on the 4th of July, but that day came and passed with little time. So, a week later, I thought I would post it less as an Independence Day item and more of just a general item.
I am currently out of the county - have been for about two months, with another two months to go. In my day to day life, I tried to be appreciative of people and things, but this has given me a perspective that I didn’t have. There are four or five of us that work together, and on the 4th, we were all down. We missed our families, and we missed our country. We didn’t see any fireworks, no parades with American flags, no concerts, no cookouts, no little kids in cute, patriotic outfits.
I’m not looking for pity - I’m doing what I swore an oath to do, and am fortunate to have not had to do it before now. What I am saying, though, is to stop and think about the familiar things in your life. Do you hug or kiss your spouse before or after work? Do your kids shout “Daddy!” and come running to you, and almost knock you over because they’re happy that you’re home? Do you get to sit down at a table with your family and eat? Do you wear a t-shirt that has the American flag on it? Do you pick up the phone and call your friends? Do you go to church with your family on Sunday mornings?
These are all things that I would be doing this summer, were I still at home. And, they’re also some of the things that I’m missing (though there are many, many other things as well). So, for my sake - make that hug or kiss count. Fall over and roll around in the floor and tickle those kids. Talk to those people sitting around the dinner table with you, and thank the Lord that you can display or even wear the flag without making yourself a target. Go to church, hang out with your friends, go to the grocery store, mow the grass, take a walk with your family - then ask yourself how you might feel if you could not do those things. I can tell you how I feel - it’s not good, and it’s the reason I’m taking the time to post this here.
Carpe diem is not just for intellectuals or party-hearty-ers. Enjoy the people in your life, and the things with which you have been blessed. Take that little extra time to take in the things you enjoy, and let the people who mean the most to you know that. You never know when you may not have the chance again.
Jameson Reese Summers, our third child, was born on February 28th, 2005. His story is nothing short of a miracle, and I’d like to share it with you.
Back in 2000, when our second son Jordan was born, my wife Michelle had some complications. By the time her second C-section had healed, she had hernias all across her abdomen. The surgery to heal these involved placing mesh from hip to hip, and from her pelvis to the middle of her abdomen. Once in, this mesh fuses not only to the layers around the hernias, but also to the internal organs. We were told that our childbearing days needed to be over - this mesh would significantly complicate any future pregnancy.
In November of 2003, Michelle was diagnosed with post-strep GN, an auto-immune kidney disease, where once the body finishes fighting off a bout of strep throat, it turns towards the kidneys. By the time this was diagnosed, her kidneys were in very bad shape, and we were told that it would be over a year before they would be back to normal. In addition, our plan was working well - our two children were growing up, both potty-trained, and we were quite happy with our family.
In July of 2004, we learned that we were expecting our third child. Nearly everyone involved in my wife’s health care tried to convince her to terminate the pregnancy. One notable exception was her OB, Dr. Keith Martin of OB/GYN Associates of Montgomery, who knew us from our second birth, and knew we would not be interested. Instead, he immediately began researching and consulting with her other doctors, and came up with a plan. We were praying for the baby to reach 24 weeks, after which point his chances of survival outside the womb would be much greater. 24 weeks came and went, and Jameson was still there! We were thankful for any days we got past that.
At 33 weeks, Michelle was hospitalized due to blood pressure fluctuations. We thought that the delivery day was just around the corner, but instead, the doctors gave Jameson a couple of steroid shots to mature his lungs, then sent Michelle home on bed rest, with twice-weekly appointments. At the 35-week appointment, Dr. Martin said that he was convinced that Jameson would do okay at 36 weeks, and that we would schedule it for the next Monday, which was exactly 36 weeks.
Of course, you’ve already figured out that Jameson was born, and that he is doing fine. The C-section at 36 weeks was done for the benefit of Michelle’s health - her kidneys were really struggling, filtering for two while being squished! But, when Jameson was born, he had his umbilical cord around his neck, along with a knot in his cord. These are serious conditions - he would not have made it many more days with that knot in his cord. This was the perfect time for him to be born.
There are too many things that worked out for this to be mere chance. God had His hand on Michelle and Jameson, throughout the whole time. Dr. Martin worked overtime on managing Michelle’s care, and when the general surgeon who had been scheduled to help with the mesh didn’t show, he and one of his partners completed the very complicated C-section. Jameson truly is our miracle baby.
Of course, I wouldn’t make you read all the way to here and not include a picture… :)
Ivan has now reached Montgomery - right on the verge of being a category 1 hurricane. So far, the power is still on at our house, although the back door is leaking like a sieve, and water’s coming in the stove’s exhaust fan. My wife and children are in Greenville, SC, avoiding this weather. I don’t think I’ve done this much mopping in quite a while! Please keep all of us in your prayers during this time.