Love and Marriage

My husband, the caregiver

I have always been used to my mom taking care of me after surgery, well for most of my surgeries, that is. After three of my surgeries while I was in medical school, she had to stay with me for 2 weeks or so to take care of me postoperatively. I was in LA for last year’s surgery, so it was my Auntie Becky and family who took care of me. This time, there’s only me and Sam, and friends, to whom I’ll always be grateful. To those who have brought us meals and flowers, and offered encouraging words and prayers, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dealing with post-surgery recuperation is never fun. There’s the pain, of course, then the post-anesthesia effects (which includes the horrible consequence of extremely difficult bowel movement), inability to use that specific part that just underwent surgery, the inability to move around and do things, sleepless nights owing to difficulty finding the least painful position, nausea, vomiting, not being able to bathe normally on your own, oh the list is endless. For that, Sam had to skip work for two days after my surgery to stay home with me.

At first, I was worried that Sam wouldn’t be able to fully take on the caregiving role. But this past week just proved me wrong.

During the day of my surgery, he decided not to skip work because he wanted to distract himself from worrying too much about the surgery. But when I wasn’t out of the operating room on time because the procedure took longer than the doctors expected due to the extent of damage in my shoulder, he told me he couldn’t help but worry. When the nurse finally called after 3 hours to inform him that I was already in the PACU and instructed him to buy my meds, he went out and came back with 2 grocery bags full of food and drink. He wasn’t sure what to feed me once I woke up, so he bought all of my comfort food- macaroni and cheese, Reese’s peanut butter cups, orange juice, and chocolate jello. The first 2 nights, I had to sleep in a rocking chair, and then on the couch. It was too painful and uncomfortable to sleep flat on the bed. He slept on the floor, beside me. Of course, sleep is an overstatement. Eventually, he told me he had not been sleeping because he would get up every hour or so to make sure I didn’t turn on my left side, or take the bandage off in my sleep. He cooked for me, fed me, did the dishes and the laundry, gave me sponge baths, helped me get into my clothes- he practically did everything for me. On my third post-op day, he went back to work. Although I had to wait for him to get home before I could do anything major, I didn’t have much difficulty because he had already cooked and left me some food before leaving.

Sam did everything for me this week, and never complained. Last night he told me his body had been aching, probably brought about by sleeping on the floor of the living room. And that was the only complaint I heard from him all week. I did tell him he could go to sleep on the bed and that I would be fine on the couch. But when I woke up this morning, he was asleep, thank goodness, but still on the floor.

When I think of how much patience and hard work it takes for him to work and provide for me and then to come home, take care of a debilitated me and do the chores the way I do them, in that excruciatingly ceremonious way, I think of how exhausting it must be for him. And yet here he is, taking care of me, hanging on to that last ounce of patience he has. Shame on me for worrying and doubting his capacity to take care of me. He may not be as thorough as a nurse or as smooth and gentle as my mom, but I know he’s doing the best he can, in his own rough and tough way. And that’s enough for me to say that he’s the best caregiver right now I could ever have. Thank you, my love.

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One hour prior to surgery
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Love and Marriage

How God wrote our 2013 story

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For some, 2013 had been a year of joy, marriage, birth, life, reunion. For some it was a year of sorrow, heartache, loss, tragedy, death. For most people active in social networks, it was a year of selfies. For even most, it was just like any other year. For Sam and I, 2013 was a year of change, the kind of change that enabled us to grow and marvel at God’s faithfulness together.

We could never really fathom how much God has been faithful to us ever since we got married. This year had been exceptionally awesome. I still remember us saying goodbye to 2012, both without jobs, praying, waiting, trusting, and hoping for the best. This time, we say goodbye to 2013 with the deepest gratitude, as God had answered our prayers, and specifically at that. And so we document the highlights that have brought color to our 2013, those that have spelled God’s love, faithfulness, and most of all, His majesty.

First, Sam got the job we specifically prayed for. Although I wasn’t particularly excited about living in Alaska because of the cold, it was Sam’s dream and he very much felt led. So where else does the wife go? That’s right, anywhere the husband goes.

Second, I had my third surgery for endometriosis in July, and I recovered pretty well. Insurance covered 98% of the total hospital cost.

Third, I was able to start chemotherapy for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and I’ve been better with less fatigue and more activities, although with almost the same amount and intensity of joint pains. But then again, insurance covers 99% of the total monthly cost. The path to healing has been rough for me, physically especially. Pain has become my friend; it has allowed me to cling onto Him for strength.

Fourth, We’ve been praying for a church where God could use us and whom we could treat as second family here in Juneau, and yes, God has answered our prayers by leading us to Auke Bay Bible Church.

Fifth, we’ve seen the Northern Lights right above our heads! The Aurora borealis reminds us of His majesty and how the heavens declare the glory of God. You could almost see how His hands move as if directing the rhythm of the dancing lights.

Sixth, Sam has learned how to snowboard and is slowly getting better at it. He’s now convincing me to learn how to ski.

Seventh, I started to blog this year. This has allowed me to find something to do besides reading and baking cupcakes. It has also helped me discover new support groups for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Endometriosis. My blogs have become a way for me to increase awareness and advocate support for RA and endometriosis research.

Eighth, we’ve met new people and developed new friendships. I guess this is important for anyone anywhere.

Ninth, we’ve found opportunities to pray for certain people and help them, especially during the Yolanda tragedy. Sam and I have always held on to this particularly important formula in our lives- that we are BLESSED TO BLESS.

Last, we are thankful for our families and how God continues to strengthen and uphold each of their ministries. We miss them a lot but we are confident that God is taking care of them. It is being far from them that moves us to value them even more and appreciate them as they are.

There are more things to thank God and praise Him for but I’ll leave the specific things to memory. God has taught us many things out here- patience, grace, lovingkindness, and more- practically everything we lack, and He still continues to teach us everyday. Yes, 2013 was indeed a year of change for us as we ventured into an entirely different environment and culture with different people. It was hard, but we have trusted in Him and He has made all things beautiful. God has always been and will always be faithful. And so we look forward to 2014 with the same hope that we had a year ago, and the same excitement that He is indeed going to fulfill His promises and unfold another chapter in the story He has written. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

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The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), the first time we witnessed it.