Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Easter, resurrection and grace

With Easter Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This year we have been given special reasons to celebrate that resurrection, for we have experienced it personally. Although it has been some while since we last entered a blog, we want to share this experience with all of you who have followed our adventures over the years.

Some of you may know that Sharon, our eldest, has been affected by an auto-immune disorder, Wegener's granulomatosis. She was first diagnosed with it in 1998. Before Christmas she developed a benign mass in her lungs; this led to pneumonia and a number of infections, which landed her in hospital three times already before Easter. 

Because she was coughing up blood again at Easter time, she went to the ER at St. Michael's Hospital for some more tests on Easter Monday (April 25). New evidence of activity in the right lung led the doctors to admit her. Early that evening she started shivering. She received medication and started to doze off. Before she did however, she told Adrian, who was with her at the time, "I don't want to die!" He assured her that she would not.

Early the next morning we received a phone call from the hospital that she had been taken to the ICU because of additional bleeding in her lungs. Wendy went down right away to talk to Sharon yet before they began sedating her, particularly to stop the coughing, which intensified bleeding. At that point the doctors also began an aggressive treatment of the Wegener's disease with steroids. Wendy saw her yet during the afternoon, and then went home for a rest. But a phone-call to the ICU late in the afternoon revealed that Sharon had lost quite a bit more blood, and her condition was critical. That evening we were both at her bedside. We were afraid that we would lose her. Wendy stayed the night in a room near the ICU.

For more than a week Sharon remained sedated, while the doctors tried to stop the bleeding and give her lungs a chance to stabilize; on several occasions she was given plasma exchange to rid her body of dangerous antibodies. She was also given a new drug, rituxomab, only recently approved for special cases like hers. She breathed with the help of a ventilator and breathing tube; it seemed there were more IV lines into her body than we could count. And all we could do was hold her hand, and pray. The doctors and nurses were helpful and kind, but they did not hide the danger of Sharon's condition; until last Saturday, when she was declared out of immediate danger. Even when she came out of sedation it took some time for reality to take hold; she has forgotten much of what happened those first days, but remembers Adrian holding her hand on Wednesday. She became more and more alert in succeeding days.

By that weekend (May 1) our youngest daughter, Pauline, who lives near Boston, had had enough of hearing of Sharon's condition from a distance, and decided to come down, to be near her sister. She was also considerable help for her parents, who were taking turns staying with Sharon. However, Adrian has been experiencing severe problems with sciatica over the past weeks, and sitting in a hospital chair didn't help. And Wendy experienced stress in the form of a nasty toothache. Besides, it was great for Sharon to share time with Pauline, now that she was more alert and aware of her situation.

On Monday, May 9, Sharon was well enough so that she could sit up. She received another plasma replacement treatment, and a third dose of rituxomab. And late last night she was finally transferred out of ICU, back to the respirology division, where she had already spent much of March. She will probably need a few weeks to recover, and regain her strength..

We are so thankful that we have received Sharon back from the dead, as it were. For her it certainly was a resurrection experience, all the more in that it followed immediately after Easter. During these two weeks we have experienced God's extravagant grace, also in the outpouring of prayer by many friends. While Sharon's recovery so far has been amazing, she will require months of further treatment. We ourselves are also improving, albeit slowly. And Pauline's presence for almost a week, accompanied by their youngest, James, was a special treat for everyone, especially for Sharon.

At this point we simply praise God from whom all blessings flow. What the future holds for Sharon, we don't know. But God has assured us of his love. Thank God with us.


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