In Search of Restoration

In Search of Restoration September 4, 2012

I arrived home from Seattle on Saturday. It had been an eventful last week of radiation for Mama. We learned on Thursday that she had blood clots in her legs and a tinsy brain bleed.

The problem, of course, was that the treatment for the blood clots — blood thinner — can make the brain bleed worse. We met with the very fine doctors at the University of Washington Medical Center and after a grueling day of tests on Thursday, Mama made the decision to go with the blood thinners.

Whether and when to sign a DNR is just one of the major medical decisions that need to be made by all of us. As a nurse, Mama understood the need for that and has had hers in place from the get-go. What most of us never think about, however, is the multitude of decisions that need to be made in the meanwhile. Like whether or not to take blood thinner, and soon enough, the question of whether or not to undergo chemotherapy for the lung cancer.

These are decisions for Mama to make as long as she is able, and so far, Mama is probably more cognitive about the implications of her care than any of the rest of us. She understands she is facing a terminal diagnosis but her desire to live is strong, her ability to reason and communicate still intact. She can’t read but she still wants to be read to. She can’t shower herself but she still wants a shower.

Her hair started falling out the day after her last radiation treatment. It came out in clumps. She told Sister Tater to take her to get it shaved. Staring at her bald-headed self in the mirror after the buzzing of the razor stopped, Mama declared, “I look like  my brothers.” The only girl of five older siblings, all of them boys, Mama is right. She does look like her brothers.

Hair, she declared, is the least of her worries.

Besides Dr. Rockhill, the radiologist, is as bald as Mama.

Twice a day somebody has to give Mama a shot in the stomach. “Stick the needle straight in,” she told Sister Tater.

I will give Mama the shots this week. Pray I don’t faint. Send me to a murder any day. Set me in court and let me record the most horrific of crimes. Just don’t give me a needle to administer, gaping wounds to clean, or bedpans to empty. I get queasy.

Isn’t that silly?

I’m claiming words from Ezekiel 2:

 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

I’m trusting the Spirit will continue to help keep me on my feet.

For the past ten years we have spent Labor Day weekend with our children and dear friends, Tim & Peg Wright, at the Oregon Coast. We didn’t make it this year. It was awful missing beach weekend. I tried to not think about it. It is the one time a year we get to the Oregon beach, have the crab boil, play beach volleyball, take long walks and just relax.

I feel like I’ve missed most of the summer of 2012.

There was no floating down the Deschutes. No hikes at Metolius or in the Wallowas. No campfires. No S’mores.

Fall is here and I’m determined to find some revivification  in the midst of it.

So Tim and I spent four hours today picking out a new front door color before I finally called Sister Tater and said, What color do I use?

Fireglow, she said.

Oh. Right, I said. Perfect.

And it was.

Don’t you agree?

Sometimes healing can be found in a can of paint and the rhythm of a porch swing.


What are some of the ways you find restoration?




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  • militarymedical

    Fall restores me – the crisp air after the muggy, hot days of a mid-Atlantic stateside summer, the colors like mercurichrome (remember that? I bet your Mama does), psychedelic yellow and yep, fireglow. Walking down the streets of my little town when the sidewalks are invisible under leaves that rustle like starched crinolines when you scuff your feet along, hearing the local college band marching from their practice area to the football field, playing as they go. All that is brand-new every year. And think of the winter splendors to follow – new this year because they’ve never come in just this way before. Works for me.

  • Yes, Fall is the most wonderful time of the year! The door looks great!

  • Lanier

    I find healing in a a rocking chair on the porch in Mentone, Alabama. I also find healing when I read your words because I know I, too, will face a similar enough scenario one day, and it shores me up to see how the rest of the world navigates these painful, unbearable losses. Much love to you, my friend!

  • Gloria

    Your door is beautiful. The color is perfect! I am humbled by the strength of your mama. I love what Lanier said below “it shores up up”. It shores me up to read about how you and the rest of your family are doing. We continue to pray.

  • Jolina Petersheim

    I know from first-hand experience that it is not easy to care for our loved ones when they are ill. You are not silly, Karen; you are a girl who loves her mama. My prayers are with you, and my hugs.

  • Kathy

    I have found restoration by looking for beauty in the literal as well as spiritual desert places of my life. When I am quiet and alone and listening for Him in the silence, I am able to hear Him and be content in Him. That’s the best kind of restoration.