Dorothy has been diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH - a rare and serious lung disease) and most likely has Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease (PVOD - an extremely rare lung disease with no known treatment and doing a lung biopsy to confirm PVOD is dangerous to someone with PAH). Dorothy is on oxygen at all times and is unable to walk more than short distances. The Hazards are working with a specialist care center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. There are no plans for them to return to Africa or take on other overseas appointments for now.
Dwight is using his gifts and skills to minister in the SIM USA Office. He has joined the Information Systems group to assist in the setup of SIM USA's internal intranet, training returning missionaries in the risks and proper care in dealing with e-mail and Internet risks, documentation of policies and procedures and other duties while Dorothy's ongoing medical needs are being addressed. They are still on missionary support with SIM and plan to continue to minister through SIM as the Lord leads.
Our recent update:
NO MORE QUESTIONS (2020-10-08)
Yesterday Dwight and I went to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for me to have an echo cardiogram and my fourth right heart catheterization. Dr. Ford, my pulmonologist, and the head of the UNCCH Pulmonary Hypertension Care Center, ordered these tests in hopes of finding out why I was much more tired, why my oxygen saturation was dropping, why I was needing to be on a higher flow rate of oxygen.
To say that I was not looking forward to the procedure is a gross understatement. Even though it was my fourth, maybe because it was my fourth, and I knew what was coming, I was dreading it. It wasn’t any better than I anticipated, but it is over!
The pressure between my lungs and heart is better than it was in April of 2017, but not as good as it was a year ago, as indicated by an echo cardiogram. The healthy mean average is below 20 and mine was 37 (we think that is the number that was quoted to us). My heart looks good. Dr. Ford’s conclusion is that my secondary diagnosis of the very rare Pulmonary Venal Occlusive Disease is what is causing the extreme tiredness and the dropping of oxygen saturation. There is no cure for PVOD, nor is there any treatment plan. PVOD is a disease with only 1 in 10,000,000 diagnosed and the only way to confirm that diagnosis is through lung tissue biopsy, which I would likely not survive. Because of the rarity of the disease and the difficulty in confirming a suspected diagnosis, there is little to no research on treatment plans.
So, what does all this mean? It means that we are at the end of asking questions. We are at the end of experimenting with new drugs. When I really pushed Dr. Ford for some kind of timeline, he reluctantly said six months to a year. But, we both acknowledged that Dr. Ford is not God. Only God knows the number of my days.
The one thing we are going to try is to increase my diuretic as Dr. Ford noticed that I had more fluid retention than before. I start that today and will have further blood work next week to see if there is an improvement.
I don’t want to just give you the information. I want to give you my heart. Yes, I am sad, but I also have incredible peace. I really am ready to see Jesus. I am ready to be done feeling so tired all the time. I am thankful I do not have pain or nausea or other side effects from the medications I am taking. I am very grateful to Dwight and Beka and our church. I know I am not walking this road alone. I feel Jesus’ presence with me step by step, prayer by prayer. Sometimes it is just Him, and sometimes He makes His presence known through His people. I know I am loved. I know I love.
People have asked me how they can pray for me and my answer has been, “Pray I will be faithful.” But, in reading my Bible, I realized that while yes, it is a good prayer, the more important fact is He IS faithful. So, my prayer is that I will more often choose what He has already given me. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.
1 Thessalonians 5.23-24 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Jude 1.24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.SIGH 2020-09-28
Life in general is getting harder at our house. I am needing more help, as is our niece who lives with us. Dwight is my primary caregiver while Beka is Manda’s primary caregiver. But, even more than health issues which include declining energy along with lower oxygen saturation even on higher levels of oxygen, it is harder with my soul.
In wanting to put all my blogs on a memory stick, I discovered I needed to copy 132 of them from OneNote into Word. Mostly it was just a quickly repeated set of steps, but every once in a while, one caught my attention and I read what I had written. It made me sad how I am still struggling today with the same sins I struggled with all those years ago.
People often ask me how they can pray for me and my answer is, “I just want to be faithful.” But right now I am feeling anything but faithful. I am discouraged at the depth, frequency and diversity in the extent to which I get in the way of what God is doing.
I want to be more like the royal official in John 4.50 who “took Jesus at His word,” believing his son was healed. I want to be more like John who had such an incredible understanding of his relationship with Jesus, to the extent he said (with what I believe must have been great passion), “That joy is mine and it is now complete.” (John 3.29) I want to be able to say, as Jeremiah did in 11.20, “. . . for to You I have committed my cause.”
Why is this discouragement coming right on the heels of the amazing gift of a week at a lake with the time split between two very good friends? Why on my birthday when I love birthdays – mine and others’? Why when I am daily in His Word, daily praying, memorizing? Why when I see His faithfulness in giving me purpose within my limitations? Why when I am blessed beyond measure by loving family and friends who care for my every need above and beyond my expectations?
I don’t have the answers to any of those questions. In fact, right now, I feel like I don’t have the answers to very many questions. But (little word, BIG impact!), I am so very thankful that I truly can say with the apostle Paul, “for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1.12)
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.
What do you think of when you hear the word support? (2020-09-04)
To many fellow missionaries, it would lead to thinking of prayer and financial support. To those in construction it might lead to thinking of supporting walls, beams, electric and plumbing needs. Professionals might think of it in terms of resources of people, money and time to complete a task. For individuals and/or families facing physical or mental challenges, support might involve not just doctors, but also nurses, therapists, specialized equipment, and hurdles with insurance.
I looked up “support” in the dictionary. It means: 1) to bear or hold up (a load, mass, structure, part, etc.); 2) serve as a foundation for; 3) to sustain or withstand (weight, pressure, strain, etc.) without giving way; 4) serve as a prop for; 5) to undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission; 5) tolerate.
Within the last couple weeks, we have had to look at increasing the support structure around our family to meet changing needs. My need for help is increasing, which is also true of our niece who lives with us. We have come to the point where it is no longer safe for me to be in the house without someone I can call on for help. In order to bear up, we had to find some sustainable support. So, we turned to our church family. Meeting with our pastor, helped us plan for the long term.
Beka and I had devised a system months ago for me to easily communicate to her what level I was at in wanting to engage. Green light – go for it. I am ready! Yellow light – We can talk, but you will do most of the talking. Red light – sorry, but not now. We are fleshing that out a bit more to make it easy for church friends who will be coming into our home to know what is expected of them and what they can expect from me. (And yes, my creative and talented daughter will be graphically communicating this!)
Our pastor also talked to us about what mechanics could be put in place to support. I am more frequently needing help just to get up from the couch. A friend had suggested just a week prior to this that we go shopping for a recliner that will lift me out, but I wasn’t interested. When our pastor brought it up and then my beloved couch started giving me back aches, I knew the Lord was telling me it was time.
My friend and I went to store that had lots of chairs to try out and was only 40 minutes from my house. “Support” was the word of the hour. The young man helping us was amazing us, supporting us through his knowledge and kindness. The first chair I sat in was not comfortable and did not support my back. The second one was so much better. The third one was incredible! The chair was delivered the same day!
I couldn’t help but thank the Lord for all the support He continually gives us. Primary is the sure knowledge that I am His, He is mine and that He will never leave or forsake me. Second only to Him is my family, which includes our church! How do people go through challenges without Jesus, without a church family? Or maybe the better question is, why would one want to? Lastly, I think about some of the logistical things the Lord has put in place. We live in a one story home which is wheelchair accessible and even has a wheelchair accessible bathroom.
There is an African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I would add to that: “It takes a church body to support someone going through challenges.” Because we have this, I am able to say, “It is well with my soul.” I am more aware than ever of God’s providence in supplying all I/we need. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4.19)
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.