Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

I was given this icon as a cloisonné-like medallion by Bette Campbell, a long-time friend and the mother of Susan, one of my high school chums. She's been back in my life since health challenges got a bit too vocal 2-1/2 years ago. I wear it almost every day, sometimes with and sometimes without an Ethiopian or pounded pewter cross. I've had numerous people stop me and comment. It seems to be a beacon. SHE seems to be a beacon! I once asked Bette where she got it. She beamed and said, "I don't recall!" Perhaps a Catholic gift shop on a tour of California missions?

Ok - out of the way right now - I do NOT have the biopsy results from July 15th! My oncologist's office does not, either. Evidently the slides have been scurried off to UCSF Medical Center where they're doing whatever they do to come up with a result we can work with. I'll never hold back on y'all! Once I know, I'll post it.

Thursday at 8:45am, dear Brigitte from St. Paul's and my choir came by to take me to Novato Hospital for my scheduled Thoracentesis... I believe my 4th since June 22nd. The 24/7 drainage tube for the loculated right side does a paltry but consistant job of getting out what it can. But imagine your lungs in one of those 1940's B-horror movies, where the walls close in from some wretched dungeon you've fallen into. After each "tap", whatever the amount of fluid removed, it begins to seep back in again. Even with plastic tubing up my nose and this wretched but necessary O2 machine giving me now 4 liters/minute, I haven't had a proper breath since the morning of June 20th. So the "tap" (Thoracentesis) is an ongoing need until the nightmare of the pleural effusion is completely healed (PLEASE GOD). And nine days prior, Novato Radiology had flat-out refused to try. Too many pockets in the loculations (think bubble wrap). I left in tears.

I was desperate on Thursday. And praying. I'd not met Dr. Chinn before but his eyes beamed warmth. Bent over my familar table and pillow, they started up the ultrasound images. Same old same old. They shook their heads and clucked, "I'm sorry... we're sorry... we can't do anything here." I tried not to weep. I looked up. "Please. Is there ANYTHING you can do to help me breathe?" Dr. Chinn then looked at my LEFT lung, which weeks before had been clear. It was not. "We have some fluid here," he said, "and I'll try to see how much I can get out. Are you okay with that?" I'd have been okay if he'd hung me by my toes and danced around the room to give me some more breath.

He also noticed my medallion. "I see you have Our Lady," he said softly. "Yes," I said. "She helps me. She really does."

He got out nearly one-third of a liter of fluid around my left lung. "You're breathing better already!" chirped one of the assistant nurses. I could feel it - a shift, an ease of a little more freedom. "Thank you," I said grasping his hand.

He then walked around to my front and said, "May I pray with you?" I was stunned, elated. "Yes PLEASE!" And this wonderful doctor in a hospital room prayed with me, asking for healing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I was crying softly. What kind of miracle of God is THAT? A praying doctor!

I have a standing order for more of these. I phoned today. I see him again this Tuesday. You bet I asked for him by name!

The nurses gave me new information: "You've lost a lot of electrolytes today. Please pick up some Gatorade or Pedialyte, and rest." "I'm always resting!" I said. Still, I asked for a wheelchair to get me out and back to dear Brigitte's car. I was very happy and very weak.

I am on my knees grateful for my helper angels, not all of whom I've acknowledged in here. Back at the house, Brigitte swept my front steps that I can now barely ascend, put a small load of washing out on my wooden dryer on the deck, refilled my hummingbird feeder for me. She'd run into the local drugstore for my electrolyte goo while I waited in the car. And she picked some of my blackberries which are beginning to ripen. I insisted she take the small container. "This is the LEAST I can do to say Thank you!"

Carol L. came by shortly thereafter, bringing some of her Esau's Pottage (lentil stew). Oh how I cherish the gifts of my friends' homemade food! We visited for an hour, until by 3pm my eyelids grew heavy and I went horizontal on the sofa. "I'll go now," said Carol. Ah, rest time, I thought.

I stayed there for the next 16 hours.

My feet and lower legs have become sausages. I have never seen them so bloated and bulbous. My now-two lymph drainage sessions will hopefully help. I lift and ice them as I am able. Exercise? Sometimes I gasp going into the next room. The gym I grew bored with I now yearn for. I stare at the hills and fantasize walking them again, vigorously.

I pray to Our Blessed Lady more now. I need a Good Mother. The Mother of God, who can intercede for me and all of us, is a new prayer companion and spiritual succor in my life. Jesus, sometimes now I'm talkin' to Your Mother! And you know what? You All hear me.

Help me please to hear You.


  1. still monitoring dear... hope you will be up for a call soon... good thoughts and hope on the biopsy... there was a death in our buddhist group last week so I'm coming back slow from that and and ER visit with raging sciatica ... so we got buddy up and get better, huh? hang on my dear.... Randall in Salem

  2. Very touched by your account, my dear. Both your experience with this deeply attuned physician - and what you are going through these days. Thinking of you a lot... your picture has a beautiful angel right above it. May healing come to you from all sides and at all levels.
    Love, Eva

  3. What a torturous roller coaster ride! And what an angel you are to find the strength to keep us all updated. I do hope that you have another massage scheduled. Anything that helps can't be a bad thing. And being surrounded by the love of friends and family can only help. Being your own advocate, and continuing to keep the medical staff on their toes is also a good thing.

    Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a wonderful window to the Divine. She obviously led you to connect with Dr. Chinn, who sounds like a wonderful doctor. May She give you strength, hope and courage to overcome these sufferings, and may She reach out Her heavenly hands and lift you up to embrace you in healing and in love. This facet of the Divine, this great and Holy Mother, is a powerful one that we all relate to in our inmost being, no matter what our faith. How we all want this perfect, selfless Mother to comfort and love us.

    May every day find you a bit better and closer to a full healing, better than you were before.

    Hugs and blessings to you. We are all breathing and praying with and for you.

  4. ps- I'll make sure to stop by Blessed Sacrament and light a candle at Our Lady's shrine.

  5. I am in 9 ICU at UCSF Medical Centerl receiving excellent care and cherishing all of your prayers & candles. Don't know how to post from my iPhone, haha. Can't say much except I'm sorry it took me so long to wake up and get here. Love to all! 

  6. It sounds like you are exactly where you need to be. I hope that all goes well and that you're back on your (puffless) feet soon.

    Hugs, blessings and bright, heartfelt prayers to you.

  7. I'm so glad that the icon helped you make a wonderful connection. A praying doctor!! WOW !! Mom will be glad to hear of this (I'll tell her later)

  8. Mom says she is so glad the icon is with you and helping ..... she will add her prayers for you and your health

  9. I hope that the hospital staff is helping you toward wellness. You are in my prayers.

    Hugs and blessings

  10. Mini updates in 1-fingered woo slog....1st (of now 8) bone marrow biopsy in 2+ years this morning 10am. 3rd lowest place on a 1-10 scale. With the others I hadn't been hampered by lung/heart issues plus two drainage tubes shoved into my right rib area. Still leaking from unknown site 5 hours later. But - but!! - beloveds phone, text, email, visit, bring Holy Water + food..

  11. Thank you for the update, even a mini one! Could you post a hospital address where we might send cards and such?

    At least your biopsy is not in the lowest place. We will all pray that it's up from here. We all send you strength and loving, healing thoughts and prayers.

    Hugs and blessings

  12. No address, no certainties length of stay.

    Do read that Again slowly please.

    No more questions for now, please.



  13. No more questions, and you don't need to publish this. Only heartfelt concern and prayers for you. May the Mother hold you in Her arms and keep you safe.

    Hugs and blessings to you.

  14. Diane

    Sending love and prayers... there are, after all, some certainties. Eat some very good chocolate, read a few very good psalms and get some very good rest.


  15. Bubbette,

    You are in my thoughts every hour. Please get well soon, so we can ALL hear your laughing voice and read your descriptive blog, letters, emails, etc. once again. I send you all my strength and love.

    (I had to send this via anonymous because something was wrong with my URL address! I think your blog administrator just does not like Europeans!)

    Your Bubba

  16. Your "blog admin" LOVES her European German-Georgian Bubba! Gotta blame Google not me :-) Alas... Smooch! (blush)

  17. Smooch back to ya - Hot Girl! (no blush necessary)

  18. Diane,
    Sending a constant stream of Golden Light of energy and White Light of safety and healing surrounding you, delivered by angels! Much love, and ongoing prayers -- Annie and Chloe

  19. I leave UCSF Medical Center Wednesday (Aug. 3rd) latest, Praise to our Most Gracious God, and chug along in His next palliative Home hospice care steps for me. I'll try to really update here by the weekend. What a Journey! Very Homeward bound!

  20. I guess/hope that means back to Hatch Rd ... there's nothing like one's OWN pillow, one's OWN 'space' - and not being locked in a building with crappy (or no) view. Enjoy the feeling of sunshine on your face, the breeze in your hair ..... home again ..... as Dorothy said: "There's no place like home".

  21. Very Homeward bound indeed - sounds like you are reorienting in a way... Which makes me think of you even more now and wanting to keep a candle burning while you transition from UCSF to the next stage of this Journey. All my love and prayers for you, Eva

  22. Oh, what a journey! As always, my thoughts and prayers travel with you. For you, Diane, peaceful and restful days, and a song of comfort through the night.

    Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.

    Love and a hug,