Friday, 22 August 2014

Pouring Buckets

They say when it rains it pours and that’s exactly what’s been happening around here lately. It’s been pouring buckets for the last few weeks, but before I say anything about the Ice Bucket Craze for ALS, I’m going to back things up to last Saturday.

I was spending a lot of time with Erin who was recovering from her hip replacement surgery, but I had come home for a little while to see Mike…I was so thankful Aileen and Pat were here for the week making it possible for me to go back and forth.

I had just left the house and was heading back to Erin’s when I got a call from my mom. I had left my parents a message earlier asking if they had heard back from the doctor regarding my dad’s recent blood test results. 

My dad had been to the doctor a few days before at the prompting of some friends who thought his skin looked a little yellow. I noticed his colour was off too, kind of like a spray tan gone bad. My dad has never had a spray tan - he’s probably never heard of a spray tan, so maybe I should have said something.

Anyway, my mom returned my call to tell me they had heard back from the doctor about the blood work and that the doctor sent my dad straight to the hospital because something wasn’t right and they wanted to do more tests. 

So then I found myself at the 7-11 by the hospital picking up snacks and a puzzle book for my dad…I felt like I was dreaming. Only a half an hour earlier, I was suctioning the back of Mike’s throat and a few hours before that, I was doing Erin’s laundry and helping her with her mobility exercises and a week before that I was sitting beside my dad out in the back yard with the rest of the family listening to him recall stories from his all-time favourite trip to Paraguay.

My dad has lots of interesting and exciting stories about his travels. I tell him he should write a book one day. He says he will when he retires from his missionary work…but he also says he’s never going to retire.

If you ask him about this particular trip to Paraguay, he reminds you again it is his very favourite. It was a trip to connect with his parent’s past and learn about the history of his ancestors and meet relatives he never knew. 

His parents, along with a large Mennonite community from Manitoba followed their hopes and dreams to a place they were told was a land of milk and honey. This was in the late1920s before my dad was born.

The milk and honey turned out to be Typhoid Fever and many members of the group died, including my dad’s aunt and sister. My grandmother was so devastated and very sick herself, she just wanted to go home. So back to Manitoba they went and started again from scratch.

My dad’s eyes light up when he talks about traveling on the beautiful Paraguayan River and visiting the land his parent’s tried to build a life on. He tells you about seeing the spot his baby sister was laid to rest, along with his aunt. He tells about the connections he made with the relatives still there, and he particularly loves to talk about the ride he took by train from Port of Casados to the Mennonite colonies.

The first thought that came to my mind when I heard my dad was in the hospital was this visit in the back yard the week prior and the feeling I got while I listened to this story I have heard many times before…the feeling was a lovely, peaceful, feeling. I just relaxed and listened and loved how excited he was to tell about it again…and yes, I wondered about his weird tan.

The weird tan was a symptom and the CT Scan revealed a tumour in his pancreas and a biopsy revealed cancer. Wow, it was a quite a blow for sure and like they say, when it rains it pours and sometimes it pours buckets…even during the most sunny month of the year.

While we waited for test results to see if the cancer had spread, we of course prayed and hoped for the best. While we prayed and hoped for the best, another prayer was being answered.

This is what I said about the recent ALS fundraiser phenomenon in an article I wrote for iVillage, a Corus Entertainment property and women’s lifestyle website based in Toronto:

“Recently, Lou Gehrig’s Disease has been in the spotlight with the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge” fundraiser -- a movement to raise awareness and funds for ALS.

I’ve been watching from the sidelines and feel like I’m cheering the underdog on to victory. In a matter of a few weeks, ALS quickly inundated our news feeds. Pro athletes, musicians, politicians, big name celebrities and others are getting in on it, including Oprah and Bill Gates. I particularly liked Charlie Sheen’s video on Monday -- instead of dumping a bucket of ice water on his head, he dumped a bucket of cash -- $10,000.

ALS gets some much-needed and well-deserved attention and I think that’s great. Finally people are hearing about it, awareness and funds are being raised and our hope for a cure has been renewed. And it puts a smile on my husband's face when he hears, ‘This one's for you’.”

I was honoured to be asked by Russell, an editor or iVillage to give my opinion on the Ice Bucket Challenge. He said he had come across my blog and was interested in my writing and our lives with ALS. The article was well received and shared on the OWN Canada (Oprah Winfrey), W Network and CNT Network Facebook pages along with many others.

So needless to say, it’s been pouring buckets…literally, and this is where we are at today: Erin in recovering well from her hip surgery and she is almost off the pain medication which has taken a bit of a toll on her stomach. It looks like my dad’s cancer is contained and he will have surgery as soon as possible to remove the tumour. And regarding the Ice Bucket Challenge, millions of dollars have been raised and perhaps even better than that, more people are becoming aware of this devastating disease. Mike’s response spelled out in a quiet whisper;  i-s-n-t  t-h-i-s  g-r-e-a-t. 

To read my article on the iVillage website, go to: http://www.ivillage.ca/health/als-ice-bucket-challenge-nadine-sands-mike-disease

                                                   My dad in hospital last week

Erin, pre op

Erin, a few days after surgery

Fully rely on God

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