Monday, October 10, 2011

Two Years Ago...

Two years ago, I was with my sister's family at an apple orchard when I Michael called from his doctor's office: he was being rushed and admitted to the hospital for a 14 inch DVT blood clot in his right leg. He told me that he loved me, and that I needed to get there as soon as possible. I was 5 hours away.

I remember asking him what this meant. He told me that it wasn't good. My sister and brother-in-law helped get the kids in the van (Emma was 3, Elliot was 1 and Ethan was just 7 weeks old at the time), we headed back to Massanutten, packed our suitcases (we had been vacationing with Michael's parents that week), and headed home with Mom in tow to help with the kids.

I am much more emotional looking back at this than when we were going through it. Michael told me that there was a strong possibilty that he would not make it when he called me at the orchard. When I got to the hospital, the doctors asked him questions like: "Do you have family? Call them, tell them to come." "Do you have life insurance?" "Do you have a will?" "Your condition is life threatening. Do not move for any reason." They wouldn't even let Michael move from his wheelchair to the bed on his own.

Shortly after I got to the hopsital, he was wheeled away for surgery. The clot was so large, though, that the surgeon could not get through his vein to clear it. Michael was admitted to ICU with some sort of medication dripping directly to the clot area in hopes to dissolve the clot and retry the procedure in surgery the next morning. I went home to get Ethan- I was nursing him exclusively at the time- and brought him to the hospital with me. He was with me the whole time we were there. The nurses took turns watching him while I was in the ICU unit with him. He kinda stole the show, that little peanut.

I don't even remember crying through any of this. In hindsight, I was told by several nurses how miraculous it was that Michael didn't die. And when the doctors found out that he had driven stick-shift four hours through the mountains to get himeself to the doctor's office, they were shaking their heads in bewilderment. It was difficult to grasp how close Michael was to death at the time- Michael had been so sick up to this point, we were already exhausted, weary, tattered emotionally, spiritually & physically ...everything happened so fast, the nurses and doctors flowed constantly out of our room, trying to make phone calls to family, texts sent out, Ethan had to be nursed...

No fear in life, No fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."

Before Michael's surgery, he told me that he loved me and that he wasn't afraid to die. He knew where he was going. He was calm, and kept apologizing to me, as if he was responsible for creating this clot.

Two nights in ICU, two surgery procedures to remove clots, strong dosages of blood thinner (which was quite risky since he was already so sick...he was now at more risk for a bleed-out), and still so so sick from the ulcerative colitis.

It's hard to express what this time was like for us. I remember snippets. My heart is overwhelmed as I look back. Many times I wondered: "why us? why Michael? why me? why so much pain? why couldn't we have a normal life? why so many complications? why is it getting worse, not better? is this what my life is going to be like til I die? i can't handle this. you picked the wrong person to handle this, God. this is weakening our marriage, not strengthening it. will our kids remember this? they don't even know their daddy. they can't even sit on his lap because he is in so much pain. what's the purpose? what do you want, God? make it stop.

Thank you, God, for NOT stopping. God knows what we need, and He loves us THAT much to pursue us until we were broken and submissive to His will.

I don't remember crying at all through that week, oddly. But the tears flow so easily now. When I think about how resistant I was to our circumstances, and how I see God's goodness through what I learned, and how he broke my heart and drew me to Himself...I am so thankful for our sufferings. A matter of fact, I REJOICE in our sufferings. Our sufferings were precious.

So many times, I hear people requesting prayer for those struggling physically. We want to escape our physical pain. We want a good, comfortable life. Michael being sick affected our whole family. It was not convenient. It was not cheap. It was not pleasant. We wanted out. I am in no means minimizing physical struggles...God is our great healer, and we know he is powerful to make us well. But it is so easy to get absorbed in your trials that your focus is on escaping them rather than clinging to the fulfillment of the cross and the contentment that comes solely from being a child of God.

It has been two years since the blood clots. This past summer was the first summer that Michael has been healthy in the past 5 years. Emma turned 5 in August. Our kids got to see their daddy well for the first time this summer, but we are now remembering our sufferings again as we approach Michael's 3rd and final surgery next week.

We don't even really know how to prepare for the valley's that are ahead of us. Pray that our minds will be strong, our hearts pure, strengthened by God's Word and dedicated in our conversations with God.

This surgery was originally scheduled for January of 2011, but, Michael had a very small hole in his intestine which took months to heal completely. Since he has been physically well for the past 8 months, he is stronger going into this surgery. We've been told that this surgery will not be as difficult as the first two, but now that Michael has been well, this will be a huge setback in many ways. Back to bed, back to figuring out what he can/can't digest properly...

So we would appreciate your prayers: Friday, October 21st at UVA Medical Center. Ironically, we will be coming from a few days of vacation with Michael's family at Massanutten- where we were when the blood clot appeared.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Emma's First Day of Kindergarten

Friday, July 8, 2011

Family Staycation: Day Two

We tried to plan our outings according to the weather forcast and since it was supposed to be near 100 degrees, we settled on doing something mostly indoors. After enjoying a lazy morning and a big, homemade breakfast, we headed to Norfolk to catch the ferry to Portsmouth. We only walked a block or so, and by the time we got to the ferry, I was seriously contemplating jumping from the ferry into the water, skirt and all. It was HOT and very humid. Once the ferry got moving, there was a pleasant breeze. The kids loved it- seeing all the boats and military ships and barges and tug boats...
walking to the ferry...Ethan's first time riding!

Elliot, Emma and I stood on the top level, right in front of the black smoke had the best view and the best breeze.
our crew on stop: Children's Museum in Portsmouth.
The Children's Museum in Portsmouth was such a pleaser for everyone. After getting off the ferry and walking another block, air conditioning never felt so good!
Oh! There was sooo much to do there- especially for the ages of our kids right now.
Emma's favorite part of the museum was the Market. They had a whole area set up like a grocery store with fake food to buy & aprons to wear...she enjoyed filling her own basket: the first basket contained only coffee and her second only contained veggies.
But what she enjoyed most was the barn- retrieving eggs from the chickens...putting the eggs in the barrel, down they came under the chickens and into her basket they went. She'd walk around with them for a minute and start the process all over again. I really think this girl has farm in her blood!
You can't tell by this picture, but Elliot is standing up on a tugboat.
from the farm to the fires.
Daddy and his girl on a police bike
After spending a couple hours at the museum, we ventured downtown Portsmouth to get lunch. It was so hot, so we didn't linger making a decision. We chose the first deli we saw!
The owners were so kind and friendly to our family- bringing complimentary fresh fruit cups and cookie ice cream sundaes for the kids. It was a pleasant experience, and our food was great. Michael and I split a sandwich- and it is a good thing! Look at the size of it!!

We headed back to the museum after lunch and let the kids play and explore for a while longer. Elliot's favorite spot was the trains. There were hundreds on display, train tables and Thomas trains to play with, a massive train model with tunnels for the kids to go through and watch the trains pass by...the boys were elated & we had a hard time convincing them to go elsewhere in the museum.
Ethan couldn't understand why the ball was not coming down.
Here are all three of our kids, well, imprints of them anyway!
I was in stitches watching their impressions pop through...
We caught the ferry back to Norfolk before thunderstorms rolled in...a perfect second day together!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Staycation, Day One: Train, Splash, Park & Doumars

I've been so excited to post about our little family vacation! What a treat it was to leave our house in the morning and have fun all day before crashing and starting all over again.

Over the past five years, we have had three children, gone through life-threatening health issues, completed seminary, moved a few times...God is good and He knows what we need and when we need it. He allowed our family to take a few days off and we decided to stay around our area, since we haven't been able to explore with all the other exciting events we've had in our lives. We are quite familiar with most all of the Hampton Roads Hospitals though, ha.

Our first day we went to the zoo- I have taken the kids once every summer, but Michael had never been well enough to go. Watching the kids take new things in is such a happy experience for me, but watching Michael being able to share that joy with is just wonderful. We are thankful, and pray often that God will help us remember that each day is a gift and has a specific purpose for His plans.

{The pictures got out of order} The kids cooled off in the fountains at the zoo.
Since Emma and Elliot LOVE the opportunity (when given) to hold the camera and take pictures, you just might be seeing more of me and Michael...
After the zoo, we went to Doumars- an old-fashioned burger joint and ice cream parlor. It felt like we stepped back into time...everything was in it's original condition, the menu was simple and cheap, the burgers came wrapped in plastic, freshly made waffle cones with plain ice cream was fun, and yummy, too. Here is what remained of my burger!
ooh la la. i'm sure i SWEATED the calories off the next was SO HOT! (and notice the water. see, I'm balanced.)
homemade waffles cones every day
these weren't ours, although i was tempted to dip my finger in that whipped cream.
Emma enjoying her chocolate ice cream cone.
We rode the train around the zoo. Elliot was just beside himself with glee. That boy loves trains (except when he hears them go through town at night...then, he wakes up crying. ??)
Daddy and his crew
So on day one, we rode the train, played in the fountains, went to a park and then ate at Doumars...but, honestly- I think what made it so enjoyable was just being able to be together, uninterrupted by sickness!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mark's Graduation

Michael and Ethan flew to Michigan for Mark's seminary graduation the same weekend that Amanda and I went to Delaware. It was a short visit, but they had a great time together!
Michael & Ethan, Matt, Jen, Mark, Mom & Dad

Congratulations Mark & Jen!!


Visiting my dear friend, Annie, at their new home in Delaware! The time went by entirely too fast, but we still got in some good laughs and great conversations.
Amanda and I went to a "Pure Freedom" conference led by Dannah Gresh.
Me and Annie and baby Levi ;)
This is the very first time that Annie and I have NOT been pregnant at the same time. When she told me her baby news, I told her that she was on her own this time...then soon found out that my sister-in-law, Rachelle, was expecting! At least one Whitcomb gets to share her pregnancy...except, Rachelle is having a GIRL, and Mark and Annie will be meeting Brumbaugh BOY number FOUR!!! She is more than half way in this picture and looks stunning. Can't wait to meet this little one (well, hopefully little...right Annie?!).

A Perfect Evening in Williamsburg

We had a wonderful, relaxing evening as a family in Williamsburg a few weeks ago...probably one of our favorite places to go around here!