Thursday, September 1, 2011

Resting in the peace from Jesus my Savior

I prayed that going into today, that God would fill me with His loving peace to help with my Mom's funeral.  I felt that peace when I woke up this morning.  And as we were driving to the funeral home, the sunrise was beautiful!!  There were sunbeams shooting through the clouds and wonderful colors of blues and pinks.  Thank you God for this day.

God tells me in His word that He will not give me more than I can handle.  I really, really struggled with that the past couple of weeks.  My Mom was taken by ambulance to the emergency room on the evening of August 22nd with what we thought was an episode with her COPD.  They had to intubate her on the way in the ambulance to try to help her.  It turned out to be a massive heart attack.  I spent all last week with her in ICU.  Throughout the week, we learned more and more about how very serious her situation had become.  She had several blockages in the heart that could not be repaired due to the arteries in her legs being almost completely blocked.  The doctor was able to go in through her wrist to get pictures of her heart and I was just shocked.  The echo-cardiogram had shown her heart was only function at 2 of 6 cylinders.  But to see the actual blockages and lack of arteries surrounding her heart was so upsetting.  This doctor was absolutely fantastic and I felt that I could fully trust his guidance and recommendations.  He was not able to put in a stint because of the blockages in her legs.  If something would go wrong with the procedure the only way to save the patient is through the leg.  We consulted with a heart surgeon but I knew that she wouldn't be a good candidate for that due to her weakness and the condition of her heart.  That night on my way home, I just cried and cried.  I was talking and praying out loud to God telling him that this was just not fair and I wasn't ready to lose my Mom now - I needed her here for me.  I was also wrestling with tremendous guilt of thinking that I had missed so many signs over the years and that I should have done something different.  When I was almost home, I turned a corner and looked up and saw a rainbow.  What a wonderful reminder of God's promises!! 

That next day after the heart catheter procedures, Mom was alert for most of the day and was able to mouth some words and write some words on paper to me.  I spent the whole day talking to her, swabbing her poor dry mouth from the ventilator, putting cold wash rags on her head, rubbing her arms and holding her hand.  I feel SO very blessed to have had this day with her.  She wanted the tube out of her mouth so bad so she could talk but I explained we couldn't do that because it was stabilizing her breathing.  She had wrote that she wanted to see the kids, see my Dad, and that she loved me.  The next day, we tried taking the ventilator out to see if she could breathe with just a BPAP machine.  She was not able to tolerate that at all so they had to put the tube back in.  I was so very disappointed.  I was hoping she was strong enough.

Her poor body was so weak, all week the doctors and nurses tried to balance fluids in her body.  Which with a patient with congestive heart failure, that is difficult since your kidneys need fluid but your lungs do not.  She was not ever as alert again as she was that Wednesday.  She did stabilize enough to allow me and my family to get away to a state park for a day with some very dear friends.  All of her stats and tests were all very positive that day which gave me such a peace to enjoy our time.  My family stayed with her during the day and would send me updates.  What a blessing that day was!!!  Sunday, she seemed really restless and wasn't very alert.  She acknowledged us but she couldn't keep her eyes open or squeeze our hands.  It broke my heart to go home and leave her that afternoon. 

Monday, I was scheduled for my third round of chemo and had come up with a game plan for the week with the loving help of family and friends.  I knew I would have to be careful being around the germs at the hospital so my good friend had the idea that we could use skype to help me see her when my blood counts would be dropping.  I received a call early from the ICU doctor.  This was his first time seeing her and my first time talking with him.  He said they were having troubles stabilizing her breathing on the ventilator.  It had started during the night and the respiratory therapist had been in there an hour and they still were not having any improvement.  I told him that I planned on coming up after my chemo treatment.  He said that he anticipated that we would have to make some decisions today.  I just felt sick.  We arrived at chemo and I couldn't believe how far behind they were running.  All I could think of was that we needed to get this done so I could get up to the hospital.  They were running an hour behind!!  Which has never been the case.  My veins were also not cooperating at all so it took forever before she could get an IV in.  She was taping down my IV and my cell phone rang and Chris answered for me.  When he came back in the room, he kneeled down in front of me and took my hand.... I just knew.  I asked if she was gone and he said yes.  Thank you God for your absolutely perfect timing that morning.  I didn't have to leave with my treatment unfinished or even started at all.  Plus, I didn't have to be the one to tell the doctor to stop the CPR in progress even though I knew that would be the answer.  The nurses at chemo was FABULOUS (which they always have been anyway)!!   They wrapped up my arm, gave me big hugs and sent us off to the hospital. 

When we arrived at ICU, my Mom's nurse met me and talked with me before we went in the room.  A wonderful dear friend who has lost her Mom and knows this pain had already arrived at the hospital and was with my aunt.  What a blessing to have her with us during this time.  I was so much in shock.  But when we started thinking about the morning, again I could see God's hands around me.  I didn't have to make a decision to turn off machines and I didn't have to see her struggle that morning.  I am a very, very visual person and can not let go of things easily.

We all said our goodbyes and I had called to make arrangements to meet with the funeral director that afternoon.  But before I left, I called in lunch and cookies for everyone at the ICU.  They were all so very caring for not only my Mom but me and my aunt.  My aunt was able to sit with me there every day all day (which was another huge blessing) and before they would leave the room, they would ask us if there was anything they could get for us.  They also had a genuine concern for my health and would keep a close eye on me.  The first day nurse that took care of my Mom was so so very compassionate and was exactly what I needed.  I told her that I wish my Mom would have told me she was having problems.  But she told me that my Mom probably did not want to worry me about her with everything that I was going through.  I had never thought about it that way because I have always taken care of her.  Then when the kids came up to see her for the first time, my Sarah loves to asks tons and tons of questions.  This nurse stood there for what seemed like forever and answered every single question she asked.  She even got a tube of water out for Sarah to see how the suction wand worked.  She did not leave the room until Sarah stopped asking questions.  That was just so very sweet and amazing for her to take that time with us.  I could just go on and on about the staff there.  Even the front desk always greeted me with a smile and hello every time I walked by.  Thank you God for such wonderful staff!!!

Today was very surreal for me.  I felt God's peace radiating through my body and it was just what I needed.  I was so humbled today by all of the love and support we received from so very many people.  I was so very proud of my kids because they both wanted to help by being pallbearers.  That was when I broke down the most.  The beautiful service by our wonderful pastor and loving support from his wife.  The meal provided by my sweet friends with the help of my church family from when I was a little girl.  Care packages for me and the kids, notes, books, hand made cake balls :), and even a beautiful scarf to wear on my head.  I so appreciate all of the hugs and conversations that I had today with everyone that came through the line. 

I am so very heartbroken to have lost my Mom at a time when I needed her the very most.  But I know that God's timing is perfect and I will trust in Him.  I hope you will all trust God with as I continue through this journey.  Everyone has offered to help us in so many ways and Chris and I have decided that we are going to start reaching out more for help.

I will have rescheduled my third chemo treatment for tomorrow morning.  I know that Mom will be watching over me!  Ich liebe dich Mutti!!    

Love and hugs to you all!

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23



  1. Tammy...I am so sorry for your loss, but am encouraged by the peace you seem to have about the situation. We went through a very similar situation with Gregg's brother back in Jan/Feb and unfortunately they did have to make the decision to turn the machines off. I am so glad that God took her before you had to make that decision. Please know you are being prayed for all over the country and you are loved.

  2. Hugs to you, Chris, Adam, and Sarah. Take this weekend to decompress, and take on each day one at a time. We are here for you when you are ready for visitors or want to get out of town for a little while.

    Love you guys!

  3. Tammy,

    Hi. I don't know if you remember me, but this is Jenny Millar (now Jenny Steward). I'm Heidi Peace's friend and I was a student worker for the alumni center between 2006 and 2008.

    I found your blog through facebook and am following your story. You are an amazing light and your heart for Jesus is so inspiring! I'm praying for you and your family and for the many lives you are undoubtably touching through your journey.

    I was wondering if I might be able to send you something. My mother in law battled breast cancer many years ago and has since been inspired to make some caps for women going through treatment. She's starting a business on Etsy with them and I'd love to give you one of her caps.

    My email address is if you want to send me your address.

    Wishing you blessings and peace!
    <3 Jenny