Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Twists and Turns of Life

Now for an update about our daughter, Heather.  Through all of the past month we have been watching our phone for daily updates and texts about her condition.

There is a long version to the story that probably only Heather and Mike know.  They have had many personal spiritual experiences that they have related to us, but those experiences are just hard to put into words and should probably only be told by them.  The trouble is that telling just the the short version of the story just doesn't do justice to the many blessings that have come through this experience..... so we will tell what we can of a medium version!

As we mentioned a couple of posts ago, Heather was admitted to the hospital in St. George on September 18th.  Since she had a bout with carcinoid cancer in 2008, a return visit of the cancer was one suspected diagnosis.  She had numerous tests and ended up being scheduled for a 3 day radioactive scan.  The scan was stopped on the second day because the doctors were sure that they saw cancerous cells near her pancreas and liver. The
news of a return of the cancer really shook us all.  President Johnson was out of town when the diagnosis came and suggested that we drive to Butler to deliver the news to Sister Welch (Megan).  It was a hard message to deliver, but we all knew that the only option we had was to trust in the Lord's plan.  It was such a blessing that we could be together with her at this time for a little while.  While we were with her, Megan's companion, Sister Sears, brought out a letter from a young man who is a recent convert.  It helped to lighten and shift the mood to see them get so excited about this convert's testimony of the gospel.

Meanwhile, in St. George, all of the doctors felt that Heather eventually needed to go to her original cancer specialist at Huntsman Cancer Institute for possible surgery.  But they told her she needed to get her nutrition and strength built up first.  They submitted her name for a spot at Huntsman, but things weren't looking too promising.  On September 28th, the social worker came in her room and started making plans for Heather to be transferred to a Rehab facility.  She was on IV nutritional supplements, but was still battling nausea most of the time.  Heather dreaded having to spend weeks trying to battle the nausea and not being able to get some treatment for the cancer.  She was just so discouraged and we felt so bad for her.  Then came the first of many turns of events!

Heather and Mike's ward in St. George held a ward fast for her on this Monday.  Many other family and friends were praying for her.  Then a little while later in the day, the social worker came back into her hospital room and said a space for her was found at Huntsman!! She called us with tears of joy with the news!  She had to be transferred by ambulance because it would be considered an impatient transfer.  She only had about an hour before she needed to be ready to leave!  It was just then that some of her friends from her neighborhood who were fasting for her showed up unexpectedly.  They quickly helped her get everything organized.  They had just come for a visit and had no idea she was being released.  Mike was home sleeping after having worked all night.  He usually never wakes up early, but on this afternoon woke up suddenly and said for some reason he got the idea that he should start to pack his things to leave!  When Heather called to tell him she was being transfered he was already mostly packed!!  Mike called his work to tell them of the change in plans.  His shifts were covered for him right away.

Mike drove to Salt Lake with Brynlee while Heather was riding in an ambulance.  Jenna decided to stay in St. George with neighbors so that her school wouldn't be too interupted. During the ambulance ride Heather started conversing with the ambulance attendant and found out she was a good friend of Sister Sear's ---Megan's companion (they grew up in the same ward).  The two bonded right away and exchanged many personal experiences on the five hour ride to Salt Lake.

The stay at Huntsman meant more and more tests and doctor visits, but it was a blessing that Heather's cancer specialist was available.  Dr. Scaife usually travels a lot during the fall.  Finally, another turn of events!  On Oct. 1st word came that doctors felt the diagnosis in St. George was a false positive for cancer!  Instead they felt she had SMA (superior mesenteric artery) syndrome which is very rare.  It is basically a defect in the main artery to the duodenum.  The artery is pinching  off the intestine and food does not empty the stomach correctly.  Finally........they felt they had found out why Heather had not been able to eat anything for so many weeks.  It took a few more days for her to be weaned off of the IV nausea medication, but on October 6th she traveled back to St. George after 22 days in the hospital.

Heather still has a feeding tube and can't eat anything by mouth.  She has a long road ahead to get strong enough for possible surgery.  We are all hoping and praying for an eventual successful  recovery.  In the meantime she is still struggling to live in a world that revolves around food and not be able to eat a thing.  On one of Heather's hardest days I happened to mention a video from called "The Refiner's Fire".  She said watching it really helped her cope better and put things in perspective. It's an amazing video that we highly recommend.

During all of this there were so many tender mercies from the Lord that came through family and friends.  We are so very thankful for all who helped so that we can continue our mission.   It is kind of ironic, but as others were serving Heather, we have been trying our best to help others here.  At the same time Heather was in the hospital, our friend, Ponga, had eye surgery for a corneal transplant.  We helped her through the process and helped her small son get to preschool also.

It just seems that the Lord has a plan for us all to serve one another.  He truly uses our hands to serve one another and give us His blessings.

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