I just checked a calendar. It's been 35 months since Mike first became ill. It was two months later when we received the realistic diagnosis: that Mike's cancer had spread, that it was incurable and inoperable, and that statistically he faced a quick death.
A long 35 months. We know we are living within the protective dome of so many prayers; we know that God has purposed to keep Mike here, rather than escort him to his "Arts and Crafts cabin by the lake," along the silver sea; we know that God continues to give us gifts tangible and intangible, to help us day to day.
How can we not be joyous, almost 24 hours a day? Well, let me tell you:
Chronic illness supplies its own stresses. Will we have a good day or a bad day? Will Mike have energy and inclination to work on the kayak, go out to lunch, teach his class, attend The Huddle, practice his guitar? Or will he need to rest, sleep, roam around the house in the middle of the night?
On those good days, and there are plenty, Mike acts and talks so much like Old Mike. He might let himself get perturbed by his wife. He will joke. He will call us, "Hurry, come running!" to watch something inane on television. And we can be perturbed back.
Then, it flips. He crashes. He gets blue. Really blue. And he hurts. Hurts a lot. Gets cold. Can't get warm. Needs to sleep. Deep sleep in the afternoon.
There's not always a way to anticipate but we assume that it's connected to the chemo.
This new regime involves a trip to infusion room and then 6 horse pills for 8 days. Then, a week off. Then, back again. When we began, Infusion Day was just the drive out and back. Day Two was a crash day. By Day Three, Old Mike was emerging.
Mike tells me that this treatment's effects are cumulative...they build on each other. So, in our case, his down time is growing. And few things make him more blue than having to lie down and rest for prolonged times. This last week has been particularly difficult.
Me? Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. I want to do what he needs me to do for him. It's not always so clear. I get weary.
It's my own little battle against the Amalekites. In Exodus 17, Moses sent Joshua to lead the Israelites against barbarians in the Promised Land. God's guys were outnumbered but advanced bravely. Moses, up on a hill, raised his arms and as long as those arms were up, Joshua prevailed. When Moses lowered his arms, the Israelites began to fail.
Quite a task for Moses. He grew weary. So, his brother Aaron and a guy named Hur climbed up next to him and held up his arms for him.
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
I'm not Moses. Mike's not Joshua. But, we need some strength here, some angelic arm raising.
That's what we'll ask for as we go into a Non-Chemo Week. Hopefully, God will give Mike a strength infusion and give me wisdom to help him.