I am writing this entry 10,000 feet in the air as I sit aboard a jet taking me from St. Petersburg, Florida to Lansing, Michigan. As the plane goes up and comes down, repeating the cycle of take offs and landings over and over again for the purpose of transporting its passengers from one place to another, so in life, as we move to accomplish our purpose on life’s journey, we have continuous ups and downs.
For the past four days Tim and I’ve been in Florida to check on my parents; primarily my dad who is recovering from a stroke he suffered nearly 8 weeks ago. What an encouragement it was to see how much progress he has made. It has been 5 weeks since I had seen him last, and the improvement I witnessed was remarkable. His communication and cognitive skills, severely impacted by the stroke, are probably around 75-80% back at this time, as opposed to around 20% when I saw him in early December. Most interactions were very clear and close to normal much of the time. He has a great attitude, and this, along with the touch of God on his body and mind, combined with the prayers of many friends, is a great reason for his improvement.
Dad’s recovery from his stroke is going through an “up” right now. However, other areas of his physical need have presented us with a “down”. Yesterday Dad had an appointment with a vascular surgeon, referred by his cardiologist to follow-up with a couple of concerns found in the heart catherization Dad had just prior to his stroke. The vascular surgeon, from reading the test results, confirmed that the two remaining cardio problems that Dad has, are very serious, and need to be dealt with as soon as possible. First, Dad need to have surgery on his left carotid artery which is 70% clogged. A plugged carotid artery could lead to yet another stroke, so this needs immediate attention. The, following Dad’s recovery from that, he will need another surgery to repair an aneurysm which is on Dad’s aorta, the main heart artery. Dad’s aneurysm (bulge) is 2 inches in size on his aorta. The concern is that should the aneurysm burst, there is an extremely low survival rate if that were to happen. Clearly this needs to be dealt with very soon, however before the aneurysm surgery can occur, the carotid artery needs to be cleared to ensure the greatest chance for success.
It is as though Dad, who was taken down by the stroke, is just starting to be able to figuratively ‘stand’ again, but before he could get all the way up, was given this news which feels like a punch in the gut, and now he'll be going through a couple more huge challenges now before he can be all the way ‘up’. And we who love him and care for him are going through this same up and down cycle.
So I am headed back to Michigan where I will be for 11 days until January 25th when I will board another plane and once again come to Florida. On Monday the 26th of January Dad will have the carotid artery surgery.
Concerning the ups and downs of life, this I know:
Quoting the words of a song I heard sung this past Sunday,
“The God on the mountain is still God in the valley……God in the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night.”