Wednesday, January 5, 2011

End Almost in Sight

I’m having a hard time organizing this post, so please bear with me.
It’s a “heavy” post, and I’m trying to be gentle and concise...

I met with my hospice people today.
We went over my symptoms from the last two weeks.

The Bottom Line:
-They feel quite certain that all of the symptoms I am experiencing are because of a bowel obstruction. Bowel obstructions are the leading cause of actual “death” in women with ovarian cancer. HERE is a link to brief information on bowel obstructions.

-I have lost five pounds since December 17th, which makes me now only 112 pounds. This is, as the math people out there know, a large percentage of my body weight. My body is already using its reserves, even with all of the Ensure it is getting...

-We have a care plan in place, and I have family and friends in place, to take care of my needs between now and when I go Home. For this, I feel abundantly blessed and loved and incredibly thankful.

***A cool story about God’s involvement in the details:
I need some stuff from the store.
I decided to call a friend to see if she could go to the store for me.
Within an hour, before I got anywhere close to calling her, she called me.
We haven’t talked for a month or so, so this was pretty amazing.
Said friend is going to get my stuff for me tomorrow.
How cool is that?

The Long Version:
In addition to the above...
-This bowel obstruction stuff was described to me as real, end stage, disease process.

-It may be intermittent for a while and the symptoms may come and go.
-Based on how fast all of the superficial cancer is growing in my upper body, it’s likely that the internal cancer in my abdomen is also growing fast.
-Based on that, and the fact that as the tumors in my abdomen grow they will shift things around, push on things, squash things etc, I should expect my symptoms to be unpredictable—right  now my major symptoms are pain, nausea, and substantial digestive crud.

-Right now, this moment, I feel okay. Earlier today, I felt terrible. This symptom stuff is highly variable.

-Based on all of the above, I am reminding myself of what I know to be true of God so I don’t slip into fear and terror of what a bowel obstruction could do, and I am exhilarated by knowing that there is an end somewhere in partial sight—it feels kind of like seeing the sun glowing through haze on an overcast day... I can’t wait until it comes radiating through and burns all of the haze and clouds away, forever.

-I am also reminding myself that my hospice team will make sure I suffer as little as possible.
-I am also reminding myself that there are many people praying for me, that He is hearing you/them, and that He doesn’t turn a deaf ear to our pleas.

-Our care plan is for me to be at my home for as long as I can be here comfortably, and then when my symptoms become more severe, I’ll go into the hospice home where I will get care twenty-four hours a day, anytime I need it.

-Most people, by the time they would go into the hospice home with symptoms like I will probably have, don’t have any desire to eat.
-I have already chosen not to have IV fluids or IV nutrition: I want to go Home ASAP.
-Hospice will make sure that I am comfortable.
-Most people who are not eating or drinking die within two weeks.
-For me, it may be longer because I am young and my heart is strong.
-For me, it may be shorter (hopefully it will be shorter) because I am already losing weight and weakening, and my system is very compromised.

Meanwhile, when I first heard “bowel obstruction” this morning it hit me like a freight train because of what I know about them, because I thought God’s promise of mercy precluded a bowel obstruction, and simply because even though the thought had occurred to me several times in the last few weeks, two medical professionals were quite sure that I’m beginning one.

Then, and I don’t pretend to understand this completely, I was given peace as I thought about all of the ways God could show mercy, even with a bowel obstruction. I haven’t had time to really reflect on this but,
1. He could show me mercy by making this all happen rapidly and not allowing the dying process to get long and drawn out.
2. He could/and has already show/shown me mercy through the medical care He has provided that has helped ease my symptoms.
3. He could do something miraculous, such as letting a clot loose somewhere to give me an easy, instant “death.”

So I’m feeling relatively centered and peaceful at this point. I am still feeling somewhat jarred by the information but it’s settling in and being processed.

If you are praying for me, I can’t express how much I continue to need, feel, and appreciate your prayers. I felt them Sunday night after I posted my last post—in an obvious, peace-filling, mind-calming, body-helping way.

Thank you so very, very much.

On another note, a picture from my Thoughts and Stuff post came back to me today:
“As I’ve watched my life and the path God has brought me down, which has always seemed unusual to me, this cancer thing makes perfect sense as an end goal for this section of my life—the part I’m living here on earth, right now.

Sometimes I sit back and think about the things in my life that have made the least sense, the things that were the most excruciatingly painful, and they all fit together like pieces in a puzzle. This cancer thing is just the final piece. If I view my life outside the framework of this life, and instead view it within the framework of eternity, the puzzle looks perfect. Crazy sounding? Yes. But true. “

It occurred to me that here I am, exactly a year later, almost seeing Jesus finish my life puzzle. Here I am, watching as He puts this last piece of my life in its place. It’s amazing.

IN His grip, Martha

I almost forgot, I’ve had this song echoing through my head for several days now. God keeps playing it for me to remind me of what is true and to comfort me.

Stick with it for the first few seconds, while the previous song ends. Also, bear in mind that it's live performance. It is a beautiful and comforting song.


  1. Martha,

    Good luck, sweet friend. I feel in my heart that things will go smoothly for you. God bless you in your courage as you face your journey home. I am happy to think about you not having to suffer so, but sad for all those you will leave behind. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself! I am so glad we got acquainted.

    Love your friend,

  2. "Martha, Martha, God has called you, so trust in the Lord and obey Him."

    "He only is my rock and my salvation,
    My stronghold; I shall not be shaken." Ps. 62, and we also are blessed by JMT's song based on it.

    love you lots and lots! M & D

  3. I'm still here, Martha. I'm still praying really, really hard - not that praying and praying really, really hard result in two different outcomes... but I'm praying a LOT. I hope you feel all of us there with you, every single moment of every single day.

    Much, much love.

  4. martha, you are an inspriation to many of us following your blog. i am moved with the poise, eloquence, fun, creativity, spirituality, and dignity in which you have shared with us, your life and innermost thoughts. you must be proud of yourself, and you certainly have a family and friends that are proud of you too. may you find comfort as you find the light. may you find peace in the mark you have left on earth. may you always be the angel we speak to when we need someone to listen. you will find your special place "in his grip," when you go to the door. love will always be surrounding you. with love always.

  5. dear Martha,
    Thank you for continuing to write. I'm encouraged that you've been encouraged from your own posts from the past. I'm rejoicing with you in how God has continued to provide for you. Thank you for sharing about His goodness to you and building up my faith.

    Praying for peace, rest, and trust in God's promised mercy to you.

    with much love and gratitude,
    Susan T.

  6. I'm holding you in prayer, Martha. Holding you in prayer.

  7. Martha, I have no words except that I love you and am praying, praying, praying for you. You're so dear to my heart. I hope that you can experience His peace fully right now. Love, Sandi

  8. Here's another one for you:

    Still believing God's promise for mercy for you. I don't know what that will look like, but I absolutely believe it.

  9. Dear Martha,
    Your ministry of suffering has been followed, watched and prayed for by many of us here at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC. You and your Mom and Dad have been living commentaries before us of what Philippians 4:6-7 really means. Thank you for reminding us of God's goodness.
    You have shined forth the radiance of God's glory in your faith.
    In Christ,
    (Pastor) Bruce

  10. " Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone." ~ Mitch Albom

    Love you forever.

  11. Hi Martha,

    I (and all my fellow prayer partners at church and at my work) been following your blog for quite a while, ever since your cousin Jan asked for prayer for you. You do have a strong heart, and we thank you for sharing it with all of us. You have given us so much through your words. Praying for you and your family, Therese

  12. Dear martha~
    wow! Your faith is amazing. I have been following your blog and have been moved in all kinds of emotions, from smiles of funny things u might have said to a thoughtful pondering, to tears and to joy because of something new learned in my faith. You are an amazing & beautiful girl, martha! I am blessed to know you... although I know its been awhile which is my loss! You will definitely be in my prayers...and your family. Love, beth (langford) wright

  13. Praying! (sometimes for a blood clot) Heard this song and you came to mind (excerpt from Come to Jesus by Chris Rice)) I like to think of you laughing on Glory's side and flying to Jesus to live :-). Jeanie

    Sometimes the way is lonely
    And steep and filled with pain
    So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
    Cry to Jesus
    Cry to Jesus
    Cry to Jesus and live!

    O, and when the love spills over
    And music fills the night
    And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
    Dance for Jesus
    Dance for Jesus
    Dance for Jesus and live!

    And with your final heartbeat
    Kiss the world goodbye
    Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
    Fly to Jesus
    Fly to Jesus
    Fly to Jesus and live!

  14. Fell asleep last night talking to God about you... I'm wondering - has your vision of your house in heaven changed over the past few months? I love knowing I have a visual of where you'll be.

    Love you -

  15. this morning when you said to me, "I love to watch you play", I turned back around before I had the chance to think and tell you, "I love to watch you live!" You are such an inspiration to me!

    This week a lady from my childhood church "transitioned". she had been in a wheelchair for as long as I can remember- one of the electric ones that she controlled with a straw and special breath patterns. When you get there, I suspect you will find her skipping back and forth, up and down the streets of gold, hand in hand with Jesus, getting to the end of a street and turning to him to say, "Let's do it again!". When you go, I will imagine you skipping a lap or two with them, and perhaps stopping to paint a portrait of the smile on Jesus' face...

  16. Martha,
    I was brought to tears by your post. Your faith amazes me. I am grateful to know you as a friend. Your beautiful art, your encouragement to seek God, your ability to show us who you really are, and your love of God will always be an inspiration to us all. You and your family will be in my prayers. Love you, Laura Byrd

  17. You are in my prayers often. We don't know each other, and yet your faith in God's promises are such an example to me. I thank you for being obedient to Him and holding fast to Him. I know you don't like people to think you are doing this on your own strength, or that you are perfect. I know you're human and that you get pissed and say bad words (I do too...waaaayyyy too often)! You're a treasure to all of us who 'follow' you. Love, Donna B.

  18. Dear Martha,

    Words cannot express the pain and grief I feel for you and your family, that you all, and you most of all, have to go through this. I am so thankful that I have gotten to "know" you over the last year as I have followed your blog. You are such an encouragement and inspiration of faith lived out, every day, no matter what. Thank you for your testimony to God's faithfulness to us, as well. Thank you for sharing your life with everyone. I will not forget you and the example you've been. Continuing to pray for you. Megan

  19. The song is beautiful and incredibly moving. Thanks for sharing it, your artwork, your journey. I pray for your comfort and joy as you near the door. Bless you, Martha. In Christ, Linnea

  20. Martha,
    I came across your blog some time ago, linking from blog to blog from the Livesays shortly after the earthquake. I think I am what is referred to as a "lurker" ;) Your Journey to the Door has captured my heart and I wanted to thank you for sharing it. Thank you for inspiring me to know and express true Joy even in the worst of circumstances. Thank you for letting Christ shine through you! Know that you continue to be lifted in prayer and that God's great, merciful and tender hands have you IN HIS GRIP!

    My son, Luke, wants me to thank you for the Matisyahu music that you introduced us to. He loves it!

    Simply His, Christina