My Friend Maria 3

Maria (Part 3)
By the time we met the doctor on Friday morning I was exhausted! It had been a long week and instead of winding down, it appeared to be gearing up for even more activity. We left his office and went straight to see Maria’s daughter. She was at work and listened intently as I explained Maria’s diagnosis. Tears rolled down her face when she heard about the urgency of Maria’s condition and the unfortunate fact that there was only one option….Somehow, miraculously, we needed to get Maria admitted to the Civil Hospital located more than an hour away.

After a week of burning the candle at both ends, I was tired. I knew I couldn’t make the drive to Guadalajara. Fortunately a friend agreed to drive us. It had been many years since I had been to the Civil Hospital and even then I had never been inside. I couldn’t quite remember how to get there and had no idea where the Emergency room was located. Once we found the massive building which takes up an entire city block, we had to make two full circles around it before locating the emergency room entrance. Even then, we entered through the back door and had to be escorted by an armed guard through the “Authorized Personnel Only” zone before we arrived in the waiting room. When we stepped inside, I looked around. It reminded me of a sight out of a natural disaster movie. There were people everywhere. An elderly woman sat on a stool in the middle of the waiting area. She was moaning and walling in pain. What appeared to be a homeless man slept a dead sleep on the floor. He was lying on a pallet against the far wall. Another man without any legs slept stretched across some chairs in the opposite corner. The room was covered with a shroud of sickness and was pungent with the stench of body odor and urine. As I looked around, I couldn’t believe that this was the best option available for my friend.

After finding a seat for Maria, I walked to the counter to register her. The polite woman behind the glass informed me that Maria would need to be checked by the nurse and approved for registration before we could even put her name on the list. Heeding her instructions, I returned to stand by Maria. I had a feeling we were in for a long afternoon/evening. When the nurse emerged, I quickly flagged for her attention. I knew it essential to get the admittance process started and that would require us to convince the nurse of Maria’s need. I silently called on God for favor and help and then with a sigh of relief said a prayer of gratitude when the nurse directed me to the registration window.

Only one family member is allowed to accompany the sick in the Emergency Room. Since we entered through the back door we managed to by-passed the two sets of officers who carefully interrogated all who enter. But during the registration process, I had to come clean that I was actually not a family member. I was a bit concerned that I would be asked to leave, but God showed mercy for both Maria and me and I was allowed to stay with her. Finally step one was complete.

While waiting to jump through be next hoop, the room had become even more crowded. There was a line forming outside the door with people waiting to just step foot in the room. Suddenly, the security guard came in and announced that in order to make room for the sick, all accompanying family members would have to wait outside. I thought our luck had run out. Fortunately, I have lived in Mexico long enough to understand the phrase “to see if the gum sticks”. (Sometimes rules and announcements aren’t reinforced here like they would be in the states. They are rather ideas or suggestions which are given to see if anyone will respond.) I decided to lay low and watch before standing up to leave. It didn’t take long before the officer returned outside and the threat of being separated from Maria dissipated.

When the nurse emerged and asked whose vitals still needed to be checked, I heartedly waved my hand and pointed to Maria. She motioned for us to enter the small examination room which also served as a secret passageway to the ER. It was our moment to shine! If we didn’t pass this interview we would be returning home tonight and looking for another surgical option for Maria. The nurse had to believe that Maria really was in desperate need.

Earlier that afternoon as we drove to the hospital, I tried to convey to Maria the urgency of being admitted into the ER. I suggested to her that during this very interview would be an excellent time to shed a few tears. After all the tears I had watched Maria shed over the last week, I suspected that this wouldn’t be very difficult. To my surprise, Maria assured me that she would be strong and not cry. In vain, I tried again to explain that indeed this would be THE appropriate moment for tears…. She never quite understood what I was telling her! True to her word, Maria answered all the nurse’s questions just as calm and unmoved as I had ever seen her. Clearly it would be God’s grace that admitted Maria to the hospital, for in comparison to many others in the waiting room, Maria certainly did not look like the most desperate nor sickest person in the room. In fact, many others who looker more sick than Maria had already been returned to the waiting room without being given the opportunity to be examined by the doctor.

When the nurse asked me if Maria had any specific condition which we were already aware of, I thought I saw a flicker of hope at the end of the tunnel.

My Friend Maria 2

Maria (Part 2)

Before I had an opportunity to visit Maria, I saw her sister and daughter in town. They shared with me that Maria had been diagnosed with Typhoid Fever and had been sick in bed for over a month. Immediately I made it my priority to go for a visit. When I walked in the door Maria grabbed hold of me and began to cry. She was weak, pale and scared. She shared with me that she had been bed bound for several weeks, and that although she could get up now, she wasn’t feeling much better. I prayed with her and I stayed to visit for as long as I could before I needed to return home.

Two weeks ago on Thursday night, Maria’s daughter called. She wanted to know if I was available to drive Maria to the doctor. I was concerned that Maria had taken a turn for the worse. Fortunately she had not! Her daughter had just called in the evening because that was the only time she could accompany Maria to the doctor. Through a series of questions I realized that Maria had seen many doctors and wasn’t getting much better. I asked if she would mind if I took Maria to see my doctor on Friday morning.

The week that followed is mostly a blur. We began on Friday morning early and we’re waiting for the doctor when he arrived. He graciously saw Maria without an appointment. And after some lab work, confirmed that she did not have Typhoid. Blood work also indicated that she was severely anemic and about a liter and a half low on blood. After that day, Maria and I spent a week straight of visiting doctors, completing lab work and having additional procedures. I held her hand and prayed for her while she cried in fear every time nurses took blood or inserted an IV. I explained test results and was in the room for both her endoscopy and CatScan. I worked by her side when she received an IV full of iron. And all along I held the deep dark secret, that two doctors suspected that she had cancer.

Friday a week ago, Maria heard her diagnosis. We sat together as the doctor explained what had been found. To my relief, it was not cancer, but rather a melon size cyst inside her liver that is filled with amoebas. I watched Maria carefully as the doctor explained that it would be potentially fatal if the cyst ruptured before it could be removed. After witnessing her response to lab work, I was convinced that upon hearing the news she would completely loose her composure. But, I was surprised and so proud of her as she listened intently without a tear.

According to the doctor we needed to act fast…..but how?

My Friend Maria 1

Maria (Part 1)

Maria is the first friend I met in Mexico. I met her the day we arrived in Ixtlahuacan. She introduced us to her landlord and we rented an apartment located behind hers. She was curious about us and wasn’t afraid to show it. When we moved in she came to visit daily. She watched as we unpacked boxes and she talked non-stop in Spanish. We didn’t understand a word, but that didn’t seem to bother her, nor deter her. One night she came in the apartment desperately trying to tell us something. We could tell it was important, but could not make out a word. Finally she took my hand and lead me outside where our truck door stood wide open. Another day she wanted to borrow something, she asked me over and over and when I didn’t understand she just said “matillo” louder and louder. Finally she made the motion of driving a nail in the wall to hang a picture and I quickly went home and returned with the hammer.

Almost instantly, she fell in love with our girls, they were 2 years and 2 months at the time. She carried Trinity constantly and took her around the corner to her apartment to show her off to friends. At night when Trinity would cry because she didn’t want to go to sleep, Maria would hear from her apartment and come over, pick Trinity up from the crib. Maria hated to hear her cry! And because of Maria’s efforts, I sincerely thought Trinity would never learn to sleep through the night.

As the girls grew Maria introduced us to a hairdresser who lived a few blocks away. We took Trinity for a hair cut one day and she was appalled that anyone would touch her hair with scissors. Trinity stood up in the chair screaming at the top of her lungs “me duelle, me duelle”. Which means “It hurts me!” I was beyond embarrassed, again Maria didn’t seem to mind. From day one, Maria became like family. She has watched our family grow, loving each girl as much as the next. When we needed a sitter, she has been there, she has attended the girls’ birthday parties and has become like a grandma to them. We love her!

Maria knows everyone in town and loves to walk and visit with the other locals. Since our first day in Mexico she often walks over to the house unannounced to visit. Once inside, if she sees dishes to wash, she washes them. If the patio needs to be swept, or mopped, she jumps right in to help. Whenever we have extra work, she is my “go to”. She is always willing to help clean the house, prepare for teams or cook food. Whatever needs to be done, she is ready to assist. And when she finishes, she returns to visit with the locals outside.

A couple of weeks ago, as we drove home, Trinity mentioned how odd it was that we had not seen Maria outside her apartment. I too had noticed that it had been a while since I had seen Maria. Immediately we suspected something was wrong…..

My Week

Many times I have been asked to describe my week. It’s very difficult to tell such a thing, for it is always changing. But I took a bit of time last week to log my activities. So. Here goes……..

SATURDAY (So much to finish before dental surgery in Monday)
Visit friend who is recovering from surgery
Take dogs to vet
Take G to friends to work on class project due Monday
Apt. with physical therapist
Pick up T from school camping trip
Pick up G from friends
Pick up dogs from vet
Family movie night

Grill hot dogs for lunch (ran out of gas in grill)
Wash school uniform (Last minute discovery of unwashed Monday uniform)
Menu plan for the week
Prepare grocery list
Get kids in bed early (5:30 Monday morning comes early.) (Failed attempt)
Mopped house

Wash clothes (R & K)
Tidy house
Devotional & Prayer
Write encouraging emails to friends in need
Administrative staff meeting at Hope House
Lab for pre-surgery blood work (collapsed vein-big bruise)
Hand carry fresh plasma to dentist office
Dental surgery
Lunch with family (I ordered a glass of ice to put in my plastic ice pack. 🙂
Wal-Mart- buy weekly groceries & medication
Pick T up from Violin
Pass out on bed

Rest and recover from surgery in morning
Review 80 page IRS document with Rodney for new 501(c)(3)
Work on attachments for 80 page document
Tried to eat a bit of chicken enchilada- (boy did it taste good, boy is my mouth sore)
Sleep early with ice pack

Accompany R & Nahum to Guadalajara to sign paperwork for Mexican government regarding tax-deductable receipts for Hope House
Office Depot- but office supplies
Mac Store- pick up IPad (service center replaced my defective iPad under warrantee 🙂
Return just in time to pick up girls from school (slept on ride)
Late lunch-broth, still can’t eat anything substantial
Drop Trinity at Violin
Pass out in bed with ice pack
Awaken by friend needing to be taken to the doctor

6:30 am pick up Maria to take to doctor
7:30 am drop girls off at school
7:45 am first in line at doctors office
Maria has blood work and physical exam, is severely anemic and low on blood, possible internal bleeding, possible stomach ulcer or tumor-endoscopy scheduled for Saturday. (Doctor charged us NOTHING Praise God!!!)
Buy fruits and vegetables for Maria
Pharmacy for Maria
Pay bill
Pick up R
Take Maria home
Cook lunch
Meet with builder to discuss project completion at Hope House and possible future work options
Homework with girls
Mop house
Rest with ice pack- more pain today than previous days
Wake to accompany R while picking up G from swimming and Z from gymnastics

Wake in lots of pain- Glad I’m returning to the dentist on Monday!
Morning devotional and prayer time
Breakfast of vitamins, apple sauce and pain meds
Cooked breakfast for Rodney
Hope House staff meeting
Meeting with Hope House administrator Nahum
Ismael, a boy who ran away years ago from Hope House has returned looking for work. We visited with him, Nahum will interview him and we will pray.
Coffee with Rodney
Pick up girls from school
Mailed important documents and letters to US
lunch- soft potato salad, chicken strips- still a little difficult to eat
Dropped girls off with Karlee
Shopped for bathroom tile and sink (no luck)
Date night-$3 movie with Rodney (smuggled applesauce in movie- no way I can eat popcorn 😦
(Date has been a salvation for our marriage! Only rule- we can not discuss work.)
Home-pain meds- bed

Oversleep, must have turned off the alarm
Awake to a call from Maria’s daughter- she can not get off work to accompany her mother to the endoscopy
Rush to get ready- throw applesauce, yogurt, & banana in togo bag.
Pick up Maria, (she looks better than she did on Thursday) Her 11 year old grand daughter will be accompanying us. (I did not know that)
We are running late, the doctors are running later!
9:30 appointment translates into 1:00
Maria is scared, spent a lot of time trying to distract her. (Blessed to be here with Maria)
The doctor recognizes me from Rodney’s endoscopy a few years ago. He allows me to stay with Maria during the procedure.
Good news- upper GI is clean, no problems what so ever
Bad news- urgent need for a CatScan, doctor suspects abdominal or lower GI tumor. Made an appointment for Monday with the General Practitioner to see where we can go for the test.
The closest lab is in Guadalajara
Great News- All 5 doctors decided to not charge us for the endoscopy!
Saved $3500 pesos (Thank you Jesus!)
2:30 Returned home, Realized that my tooth hurt so bad, my entire head felt like it would shoot off. (I thought I was supposed to be getting better instead of worse.) Started on antibiotics and took more pain meds.
Slept through family movie night 😦
Finally -go back to bed. I’m sure glad I am returning to the dentist on Monday.

Maria Elena

I woke early last Saturday. I quickly got ready and left the house headed to see my friend MaElena. MaElena has been a friend and prayer warrior for our family for many years. She has also helped in our home for the last 7 years until her spleen more than doubled in size and she was hospitalized. After many test she was diagnosed with cancer. She was allowed to return home while the doctors continued to examine the biopsy to determined how best to treat her.

Feebly on the bed she laid. Concerned about her family and youngest son who is only 13, we prayed together and asked God for mercy and healing. The next week, she had a meeting with the doctor to discuss treatment. Upon arrival, she received amazing news. All of the test results came back cancer free! This news was a blessing and miracle from God!

We praised God, that He had freed her from cancer, but we also prayed for her complete health. She was still sick. After months of tests and being hospitalized doctors finally decided to remove her spleen. Surgery determined the gallbladder had to go as well. A few days later she returned to her Mothers house where someone could tend to her and dress her wound. A week later she got pneumonia and was returned to the hospital. Finally she was released and she returned home. I have been trying to go visit for the last week but for one reason or another I haven’t made it. That is why Saturday morning I woke early and left the house before my normal activities began.

I hesitantly announced my arrival, slightly embarrassed for visiting so early in the morning. It didn’t matter, she was delighted to see me, and I her. I can’t express the joy I got just seeing her stand at the stove and prepare breakfast for her family. She looked good; stronger and healthier than I had seen her in months. God is good!

While visiting, she shared that the doctors have finally given her a diagnoses: Sickle Cell Anemia. Her doctors suspect that she has had it since birth and after hearing all the symptoms we suspect her grandmother had it as well. Although there are a few treatments to help alleviate the symptoms, there is no cure for this genetic disease. When I asked her about treatment, she shared with me about a risky bone marrow transplant, that could bring some relief, but said with a smile, “I’ve lived with it this long before having a problem, I guess I will be fine for a few more years.”

I love this lady and ask that you keep her and her family in your prayers as she continues to recover.