Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Decline Continues - Christmas Edition

I mentioned in the previous blog that Nicole’s kidney function had declined from 25% to 20-21% during the three month period ending in November.  This decline caused the doctor’s to increase the regularity of her blood-work from every three months to once a month.  Nicole had her December blood-work a couple of days ago and her kidney function slide has continued, unfortunately.  She has slid from the 20-21% range to the 18-19% range.  This indicates to me, a total medical novice, that the rate of decline has continued.
The extremely important level for kidney function continues to be 15%.  It is at this point that Nicole will feel extremely ill and also where a kidney transplant is desired.  Fortunately, the donor testing with Tiffany is progressing quite well.  So far we have not heard of anything that would keep Tiffany from being the donor.  The transplant board needs to give the final approval for Tiffany and we are praying that this happens shortly.  With this approval we should be good to go and it will just be a waiting game for Nicole to reach the magical 15% threshold.  Please pray that Tiffany is approved as the donor and that Nicole’s kidney function remains above the 15% threshold long enough to get everything in order.
I would like to express my thankfulness this Christmas season for several things.  First of all, I am thankful for my wife.  She is reasonable and steady while I tend to be more impulsive.  She brings a great balance to my life and she is certainly a “suitable helper”.  I am also thankful for my children.  Nathan, Nicole, Caleb, and Katelynn are all a blessing from the Lord.  I have at times wished Nicole would have been born without BOR but I know she was fearfully and wonderfully made.  Therefore, I am thankful for her just the way she is.  She truly is a gift from the Lord! J  I am also thankful for my job and the ways in which the Lord provides for me and my family each and every day.  We lack for nothing that we need and have an abundance of things that we want.  I am also surrounded by a wonderful network of close friends and extended family (you know who you are J).  These individuals are a rock and a fortress during unstable times.  I know Nicole and our entire family are lifted up in prayer on a daily basis.  This is so comforting.  I can literally pick up the phone and call any number of families and I know that every need will be cared for.  It is often said that if a person can make one true friend in their life then they are blessed.  Well, I must be have been given a double portion of that blessing J.  Finally, I am thankful to the one and only God who has seen fit, by his grace and mercy, to call me His child.  Without getting overly theological I will just say that I receive full family benefits when in reality I am soooooo undeserving.  These benefits are enormous.  All of us, just and unjust alike, receive a great many blessings from the Lord whether we believe or submit to Him or not.  He does this….”just because”.  However, as a full blown child, the blessings overflow.  For that, I am thankful.
Have a blessed and joyous CHRISTmas season.
And oh, I would be remiss in not quoting one of the great theologians of the past 40 years…Linus from the Peanuts gang J

“‘8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and
goodwill towards men.’” (Luke, chapter 2)

“…And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown” – Linus


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Setback

As of my last blog Nicole was doing amazing and because I have not blogged in awhile everyone has been assuming that Nicole is continuing to do well.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  We have had a setback...  unfortunately, a substantial setback.

About a month ago Nicole went in for her regularly scheduled bloodwork to check her kidney functions.  She had been hovering around 24-26% GFR (a measure of kidney function) and her bloodwork came back with a result of 18%.  These results caught us entirely off guard.  This was a substantial drop in a 3-month period.  The doctors requested a retest and fortunately the results were a little better at 20-21%.  This was still a huge drop but not as bad as it had been.

A result of 15% GFR is an important threshold according to Nicole’s doctor.  It is the point at which a kidney transplant needs to take place and also the point where Nicole will begin to get noticeably ill.  Thus, a drop from the 25% area to the 20% area in just 3 months implies that if things continue at the same rate (of course this is a major assumption) then we would have just 3+ months to get things together for her transplant.

Nicole at her 7th Birthday Party

The nephrologist informed us that we need to make a selection for the donor.  So we did.  Titia’s niece, Tiffany Smith, is the primary donor.  We also contacted our backup donor and a final backup to make sure that they were still willing and available, if needed.  Everyone is still onboard.  Praise the Lord and what a great blessing to have such willing servants available to minister life to our daughter.

Tiffany happened to be in town over Thanksgiving and she sacrificed almost 2 complete days in Cleveland performing a substantial number of the required tests.  Not only did she perform testing but also met with the surgeon and so on.  Titia and I got a chance to thank Tiffany in person for her great sacrifice.  She took it all in stride and demonstrated amazing humility.  She really does have a servant’s heart and wants to genuinely help out Nicole.  I really felt like there were not enough words to express my thanks.  I think she understood. J

The great challenge is this.  If at any point in the donor testing process there is a hiccup then we have to start over with another donor.  If Nicole’s kidney functions drop too low then it will be necessary to start dialysis.  We REALLY pray that dialysis will not be necessary.  Pray for two things to occur; first, that Nicole’s kidney functions remain above the critical threshold and second, that the donor testing with Tiffany goes smoothly.  It will require both of these things to occur for us to avoid dialysis with Nicole.  That is our desire.  We covet your prayers.

Once again, I am reminded things are really completely out of our control.  We cannot control Nicole’s kidney functions and we also cannot control how the testing goes with Tiffany.  We literally must live a life of faith in this regard.  I understand the requirement to live a life of faith because of my relationship with the Lord Jesus.  He calls me to die to myself daily and to sacrifice the strong desire to control outcomes and to turn every aspect of my life, small and great, into His loving hands.  This just happens to be a GREAT matter and it is easy to worry.  But Why?  The Lord has been faithful in every matter and this will be no different.  The just (those that are justified…declared innocent before a Holy God) shall live by faith.  That is my life calling and in this matter things will be no different.

If you do not live a life of faith I would encourage you to do so and to commit yourself to the sovereign Lord of the Universe who loves you more than you know and demonstrated that love by sending His only Son to sacrifice Himself on your behalf.  Hmmm, appropriate to think about these things at Christmas time (even if we all know He was not born on December 25th).  Giving up control to Him is really not that difficult to do.  After all, neither you nor I actually control anything at all.  So what is there to lose?