Bob took this photo in the Grand Tetons area. It’s a rugged place, but like many places that are challenging to get to, and difficult to get through, it has a special beauty worth the effort.
AFTER THE RAIN: THE BEAUTIFUL WEATHER, PART TWO
The evolution of my marriage with Bob has been a blink in the universe of time. Thirty seven years and we’re still evolving, finding out what makes the other tick.
Emotionally, we stand taller together now, but physically are more bent. Perhaps arthritis is just the outward manifestation of burdens borne and cares that ran too deep. But I believe that love lightens the load and faith rebuilds us, or finds what was supposedly lost.
We cannot bring back our lost children, our deceased parents, our absent friends. They dine at another table now. We will be reunited, but Bob and I have business to attend to here, promises to keep to ourselves and others, the fulfillments of our raison d’être.
I have had opportunities to leave the planet on quite a few occasions. Two direct angel interventions kept me here, one when I was five, and one when I was twenty seven. (I will give the account of those experiences at a later date.) I am also certain that Bob and I have been blessed by behind-the-scenes heavenly help many times.
I don’t remember the exact date, but sometime after the new millennium I discovered I had a severe kidney problem. The doctor informed me I had a GFR of 25%. I learned a GFR (glomular filtration rate) was the measurement of how well kidneys worked. I thought I just had a 25% reduction in function. I was shocked to learn that 75% was gone.
Where had it “gone” and why was the doctor saying it would get worse? I had very little understanding of why I had been switched from lithium to another drug to treat my bipolar illness, and why I’d been referred to a nephrologist. It was a medical wakeup call for me and my husband.
As the function went down to 20%, I learned all I could about “mighty nephrons,” the little parts of the kidneys that do the work. I even had a song I sang to them. We prayed. I visualized good health.
Bob and I went to the dialysis classes together in preparation for the getting the shunt. We discussed my options for types of dialysis. When I went to Loma Linda for the evaluations to be put on the transplant list, Bob was my faithful companion. I got on the list in 2007 and was told it could be years before I got a donor.
I was taken off the list the following year, but did not get the transplant. I had gone over the weight limit and kidney function had gone UP too high, too good, to be on the list. I never even got a shunt or put on dialysis. I told my nephrologist that there was a higher power than Kaiser (my medical HMO) and that I’d get to 30%. I did.
I had the goal of 40% by Christmas of 2012. Bob and I had released our Christmas CD, Carols for the Christ. We had concerts set up, but I started to feel more and more “funky heart rhythm.” We had to cancel our bobandkathi performances after I went through a catheter ablation which didn’t work. The six hour heart procedure, done while I was awake, established my electrical misfires were in the septum, an area that could not be fixed.
After a hospital stay two days later to try a new drug, I was sent home because it was too dangerous for my kidneys. I got a new combination of medicines and my rhythm got better. My kidney function went temporarily down. I am thinking it will be up to 40% by next Christmas.
Bob was usually the one taking me to medical adventures. When he turned sixty in 2009, he had a full physical. An elevated PSA score (a prostate screening test) led to an evaluation by a urologist. Another blood test showed an increased level. Next came the biopsy and we came back to hear the results.
Bob was positive he did not have cancer. POSITIVE. But the results were positive, too. The good news was that the cancer was in the early stages. The doctor went over the different options, complete with colorful pictures. He explained risks and side effects. He said Bob could think about it and get back to him. Bob replied, “I’ve made my choice.”
It was my turn to be surprised. I thought we’d discuss it first. He had chosen the least invasive procedure, radioactive seed implantation. I wondered if a more intense surgery would give a better chance for a longer life.
We did talk about the choice later. Bob got a wonderful radiation oncologist. Unfortunately, the doctor had his arm in a cast. We waited for him to heal, so he could do the surgery.
It was the right choice. In December, the doctor made the “template” for where the seeds of iodine 125 would be implanted. Bob had the procedure done in January of 2010. I drove him home the same day as the surgery with his list of instructions.
There were interesting precautions. He could not be around pregnant women or have a child on his lap for a while. There were sexual and urinary issues to heal. He was given a paper to carry to show doctors and X-ray screeners. He jokingly referred to himself as “radioactive man” to our friends. It was a small price to pay for an extended life together.
Now he volunteers for the American Cancer Society as a “Road to Recovery” driver, giving free rides to patients for their chemo and radiation treatments. Sometimes I have complained about the time it takes from our schedule. That’s when I forget what it means to Bob and to the ones he’s driving. I am very proud of him for his dedication.
As for the beautiful weather of life, BRING IT ON!
Here is Bob Haine at Mono Lake, California, on one of his photo trips.