Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Christine Update

Over two weeks have passed since I last posted anything regarding Christine’s progress. Our lives are mostly consumed with daily living. My plans regarding the many things I wanted to accomplish around the house this summer have mostly stayed put on my eternal “To Do List.” But I am reminded that, “often our plans fail that God's plans for us may succeed.” {MH 473.3} We don’t know why we are passing through this valley but we trust ourselves to the hand of him who never errs. I am reminded of this quotation which brings us so much hope:
   "Not without a purpose does God send trial to his children. He never leads them otherwise than they would choose to be led if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling, as workers together with him. He subjects them to discipline to humble them, to lead them, through trial and affliction, to see their weakness and draw near to him. As they cry to him for help, he responds, saying, "Here am I." He is not regardless of the entreaties of his children. He bears long with their impenitence, and when they turn to him, he receives them graciously." {RH, March 7, 1912 par. 1}
   It has been four weeks today since the surgery and we are thankful that Christine continues to improve although much more slowly and not without some complications. We are grateful she has gotten over the cold that she caught with its fever and that her headaches have become more infrequent. Perhaps the most discouraging and difficult is her lack of energy. I suppose this is to be expected with the surgery, the Keppra medication and pregnancy. She is easily exhausted with much effort. Some days are better than others but bad days usually follow the count our blessings. She still has difficulty finding words and her speech is slower than usual but I think she is still improving just at a much slower rate than her initial improvement. When she is tired or exhausted it exacerbates her speech aphasia and conversation comes more slowly and with difficulty. Her right side function is almost normal but still lacks fine motor skills. Both the right arm and leg continue to have some residual weakness. As we have talked with several others who have had brain surgery we are so very thankful that she does not have more complications from the operation. Many others have had to deal with much more severe and debilitating after affects from such an operation and we are grateful Christine is seemingly returning to normal. It seems the “conservative removal” of the tumor near the motor cortex was successful in preserving her function though they knew it would leave some of the tumor there which it did. Another recent development is that she has now developed a sharp pain in the stomach which seems to begin in the late morning and then becomes quite severe by early afternoon. We are hoping it is not an ulcer though with the stress of the last month it would be understandable.
   It is hard to believe we have just one month left before school starts. With her fatigue it will not be easy for her to care for Elliot or take care of other necessary duties unless she improves more by then. We have clearly seen God’s hand providing in the whole situation and we know he will continue to do so. One of the ways we see him doing this is that my brother-in-law and sister, Kevin and Shelly Powell, will be moving down here in three weeks. Kevin will be the new boy’s dean at OHA and having them nearby will be a tremendous benefit. How true has been the promise, “before they call, I will answer!” (Is 65:24) We are so excited about having them come join our staff and be close by!
   Our visit to the obstetrician on Tuesday indicated that the baby is healthy and continuing to develop normally. He agreed with the NIH obstetricians that it looks like a girl! We are grateful and still hoping to make it through the pregnancy before any treatment is needed. God is good and we continually pray for His protection over this gift of life.
   One of the neuro-oncology fellows from NIH called last Thursday and said that the 2nd opinion from Harvard had come back but now Dr. Fine, the chief neuro-oncologist who was our attending physician is out on medical leave for a few weeks. We were really impressed with him as he is one of the best and most experienced neuro-oncologists in the world who was also very compassionate and hopeful. We would really like to consult with him again so we will probably wait until he returns before we go back up there. It is looking like it will maybe the first or second week in August before he returns to work. At this point we don’t know anything more regarding the diagnosis, treatment recommendations or prognosis. Sometimes maybe ignorance IS bliss at least for a while. The respite from urgent care has been good.
   We are continually thankful for the many cards, e-mails and Facebook comments that we have received over the past month and a half - far more than Christine or I have time to respond to. The outpouring of concern and prayer for her has been one of the unexpected blessings that this difficult situation has brought and we are ever more grateful for our loving family and friends who have helped to “hold up our hands” during this battle as did Aaron and Hur for Moses. (Ex 17:12) That is what Christian brothers and sisters are for. I believe that this is what Paul was referring to in Hebrews 12:12-13. Note how he relates it to healing: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” Thank you for “holding up our hands!”
   We have also seen God providing for our increasing financial need in medical bills. Thankfully at this point the medical expenses have not been astronomical due to NIH being a governmental institution and covering most of the expenses of the surgery. This was indeed a unbelievable miracle from God. Had this not providentially opened up for us, we would have likely been looking at thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Though we do not know what the future holds we are so very grateful for what God has already provided through NIH. We are also grateful for the health insurance that Ouachita Hills was able to obtain for its employees this past year. However, the benefits it offers are very limited and we have already maxed out and gone over much of the coverage it offers for this year and it is only the beginning of the yearly cycle. And some of the medical expenses we have occurred are not even covered by the plan. But we rest assured in the promise that “God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Pp 4:19) We have seen Him do this in many ways but He has used many of you to help fulfill that promise specifically. Many of you have sent in funds to help with these growing medical expenses. We are so very grateful that Ouachita Hills has set up a fund to help cover these medical bills which are not covered by insurance. Some have also offered their expertise and services to help negotiate with medical institutions in our behalf. This has all come without solicitation but we are so very grateful for each offer for assistance. Truly the family of God is the best family on earth.
   I have been soooooooooo thankful for the incredible gift God has given us in the Spirit of Prophecy during this crisis in our lives. It has been a source of hope and comfort, of faith and courage for us. The promises and counsel therein contained have buoyed up our spirits and strengthened our faith. We have so appreciated the quotations which many of you have sent to encourage us. I have compiled them in to a master document to which I often return for strength. Here are a few favorites:
   "To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest." DA 528
   “When in faith we take hold of His strength, He will change, wonderfully change, the most hopeless, discouraging outlook. He will do this for the glory of His name.” 8T 12
   “To go forward without stumbling, we must have the assurance that a hand all-powerful will hold us up, and an infinite pity be exercised toward us if we fall. God alone can at all times hear our cry for help.” ST 7-28-1881
   "It is because God is leading them (Christians) that these things come upon them. Trials and obstacles are God's chosen methods of discipline and His appointed conditions of success. . . .The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something precious which He desires to develop. . . . It is valuable ore that He refines." MH 471
   I recently encountered the following quotation in my personal devotions which I never recall having read before. It is only found in one location. Speaking of consumptives (those with tuberculosis) she said:
   "Let all be taught that cheerfulness is God's remedy for sickness. Let them talk faith, and think as little as possible about disagreeable things. Let the heart go forth in praise and thanksgiving to God. Let them pray for themselves and for one another, and let them keep the love of God in the soul. The great Physician can heal…" {9MR 285.3}
   Though I know this counsel must be combined with all of her other counsel and is not the sole remedy it still behooves us to be cheerful and count our blessings. We are told:
   "He knows each individual by name, and cares for each as if there were not another upon the earth for whom He gave His beloved Son. Because God's love is so great and so unfailing, the sick should be encouraged to trust in Him and be cheerful. To be anxious about themselves tends to cause weakness and disease. If they will rise above depression and gloom, their prospect of recovery will be better; for "the eye of the Lord is upon them" "that hope in His mercy."" Psalm 33:18. MH 229
   Indeed do we hope in His mercy! Please continue to pray for us. The road ahead is still uncertain but we are certain God is already there. He said he was the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Rev 21:6) We trust ourselves to Him who holds the future.
   Stay faithful!
   Rob Neall

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