The Medical Challenges of Disrupted Lives

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I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4: 13

I’ve spent the first half of 2019 on the go. Going to work, going to the kids’ schools, taking them to appointments, trying to keep up with family issues. Mostly, I’ve been carting the children back and forth to medical appointments.

It’s been tough. I’m stressed out.

It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have so many appointments with the kids. I’m serious. I sat down this morning and counted all of the medical appointments from the first half of this year. The numbers are shocking and unusual for our lives.

Amari had 22 appointments between 5 kinds of practitioners. When children don’t live with their parents, they need counseling, so we have those appointments. We switched to a new counselor, midway, so he’s having to learn to trust the new counselor, too. Then he has encopresis, so he sees a gastroenterologist for this issue plus a counselor who helps us devise ways to retrain his body to learn to function properly. In February, we finally got him an appointment with a developmental behavior doctor who diagnosed his ADHD and Anxiety/OCD. The follow ups to that appointment have been time-consuming because we’re still trying to find the right balance of prescriptions to help him focus and not be paralyzed by the anxiety. (The good news is that treating the ADHD has helped with the encopresis to some degree.) He, also, sees an allergist due to his respiratory issues. (If you smoke around your children, please stop. His parents both smoked, and doctors tell me he’ll probably always have sinus issues since he lived with this the first four years of his life.) Then, of course, there’s our pediatrician who’s seen him twice this year so far.

Despite all of this, Amari remains a fairly happy guy…when his anxiety isn’t getting the best of him.

Victoria had 19 appointments and only saw 3 kinds of doctors:  a counselor, the behavioral doctor, and our pediatriction. BUT, not to be outdone by her brother, during the last week of school she ended up in the hospital with walking pneumonia. She’s fine and bounced back quickly, but what a ride!

It’s not a competition, but our dog must have felt left out. She had two surgeries during this period.

You may have noticed I didn’t mention the dentist or the eye doctor. Those appointments are coming up soon. Yay! Some one put me out of my misery, please.

My own medical needs have taken back seat to the grandchildren, but I’ve had my own appointments scattered throughout the last six months. My fibromyalgia and plantar fasciitis made sure I didn’t forget about them during these months.

Whew! It’s exhausting when you look at it this way. None of these appointments are superfluous. It’s been tough fitting them into our schedules. In fact, I decided to cut our their after school activities to open up their schedules. Hopefully, we’ll see a decrease in visits over the second half of the year. I really want to get them back into activities once school starts in August, but there’s only so many hours in a week. If this doesn’t level out soon, we can add a new doctor. One who’ll put me in a padded cell!

Thank goodness for insurance!

And most importantly, thank goodness for the Great Physician who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (from Psalm 147:3). We never could have survived this without our faith.


PS:  A special thank you to our family who gave me and Bruce the opportunity to get away for a week recently. It was paradise…and we really didn’t want to come back.

Facing Our Worries in Grand-Parenting

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

Certain possibilities in our lives loom over us. Some of the more difficult ones haunt us. As grandparents raising grandchildren, we worry  about a plethora of what ifs.

A few weeks ago, one concern became reality. Victoria’s father died. Some people might ask why this matters. After all, he didn’t play a significant part in her life. It’s true his contact with her consisted of occasional five-minute phone calls and gifts on special days. Yet, he was more present for her than her mother has been in the past three years. She didn’t have to worry about what he was up to or whether he would get in trouble with the law. He was the more stable parent.

Victoria faced this news in her typical way, she cried a moment then became hyperactive. Victoria is the queen of distraction, and she used those talents well to hide her confusion and grief. We got the news on Sunday afternoon. Once the hyperactivity started, I asked her what she wanted to do. I expected a request to talk to her Mommy, and I would have taken her to the detention center right then to make it happen. She didn’t ask for that. I asked if she wanted to talk to her father’s sister who called me. No, she didn’t want to do that. She doesn’t know his family well, and until the call came in, I never knew this particular sister existed. I asked if she wanted to go see his side of the family? No.

She asked to go to Target and Starbucks. That’s what we did.

The next day she went to school. She wanted to go. I called the guidance counselor and let her know the situation. I set up an appointment with our family counselor. Victoria didn’t want to talk about it, but she did tell a few friends. One friend refused to believe her.

Over the week, Victoria didn’t say much. I told the family I would bring her to the funeral if she wanted to go, but she wasn’t sure. I wasn’t going to push. Funerals are hard, and, at twelve, I didn’t want to force her to attend. She decided to go, so the day before the funeral I dragged a reluctant girl out to buy clothing appropriate for a funeral. Victoria doesn’t like dresses and our church is full of blue-jean-clad kids wearing tennis shoes. I stood firm on this one. She had to dress appropriately. She looked lovely, by the way.

Victoria, as his closest next of kin, led the procession into the sanctuary with me by her side. Behind us strung a long line of family members that she barely knew and who knew her father better than she did. One sister couldn’t make it down the aisle without help due to her grief. Victoria’s father’s casket lay open in the front of the altar. She had chosen not to view him prior to the service, so I think she didn’t anticipate the casket still being open when she came down the aisle. As these first few moments unfolded, I worried about her decision to attend. She sat between me and the aunt who I had never met and the tears poured out of her.

She cried through most of the service, but I believe it was good for her. Almost every one who spoke told her how much her father loved and talked about her. She needed to know that.

Life goes on. Now that I know more of her relatives, we’re going to try to help her know this side of her family. The situation in which I met her oldest aunt was not of my choosing, but I’m glad we’ve met her. She’s a spiritual woman who told us a few weeks before his death, Victoria’s father gave his life to Christ. He spent the last weeks listening to gospel music and reading the Bible. Did he know his time was short? I’ll never know. I’m just glad he made this decision and saw Victoria a few days before he died. He gave her a jewelry box he’d made for her birthday–the only gift he ever gave her that was a part of him.

A long list of what ifs haunt those of us raising our children’s children. We hope and pray we’ll never stand by our grandchild as they say goodbye to one of their parents. We know deep down in our souls that the likelihood of this happening is high. For those of you worrying about this concern, I’ll tell you what I learned. You can’t prepare for it so don’t try. Trust in God and focus on today’s challenges. Leave tomorrow for tomorrow.

When Called To A Difficult Purpose

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And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Over the last few weeks (aka since school started), I’ve been ill. We didn’t make it through the first week of school without one of the kids catching something and sharing it with the rest of us.

Four weeks later, I’m still sick but with something else. When your immunity is down, it’s easy to get sick. I’ve had one or two decent days and one really good day in four weeks. This past Wednesday, I felt normal. Yet, as I went to bed that night, I knew my good day was over. After a night of very  little sleep, I went back to the doctor.

Why am I telling you this? Because people don’t get what grandparenting (being a grandparent raising grandchildren) does to us. I wrote about this  last week and heard from several grandparents in the same boat. They thanked me for saying what I did.

I’m guessing some readers, found my bluntness a bit uncomfortable. That’s ok. I’m not attacking or blaming people. I’m trying to create an understanding for the 2.5 million grandparents in my shoes. We are a growing population.

We do what we do for love. We trust in God to help us, but it’s terrifying to look at our retirement and realize we planned to support two adults, not to raise more children.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:17-18

That is what He’s asked us to do, to proclaim Him to another generation of children. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why He chose us to do it in this way, but He did. But herein lies the problem: my sickness.

As my illness continues, I’ve become weak and exhausted. At a time when income becomes most important, the circumstances make it hard to maintain that income. I would love to retire and focus completely on my writing and the grandchildren (not just the two who live with us), but I’m not retirement age, and I’ll probably have to work longer than I originally planned in order to make sure we survive.

And we’re the lucky ones. Most grandparents who are raising grandchildren, live below the poverty line.

We do have the Bible verses like those in this post to encourage us, and for those of us whose faith already sustained us through many trials, our faith brings  comfort. But we’re human and struggling. In the moment it’s hard to remember to turn to God. That’s probably why my last post came across strong to some people. I’m not apologizing for that. It’s important to help people understand the struggles other people experience. You can’t do that by sugar-coating the truth.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

This is the main purpose of this blog: helping people understand the struggles of others as well as revealing how my struggles built my faith in God.

Will you take a moment today to stop and pray for the grandparents and grandchildren in this situation? It’s not easy, and we need your support.

Are you a grandparent raising grandchildren? What’s your biggest struggle? I want to hear from you! If you’re a grandchild who was raised by a grandparent, I’d love to hear from you, too.