Update Seventy-Six

I generally consider myself a pretty even-keeled sort of person.

I have my ups and downs emotionally, most of the time internal. Occasionally in the company of a ‘safe’ friend or family member, I can reveal them bit by bit.

I say all this to try and share a small piece of my quirky inner-workings. I’ve discovered recently that in this journey, I’ve been thrown into a whole new experience of difficult emotional responses.

I’ve never experienced “I’m done” before.

I’ve never gotten to the place where I honestly didn’t care if I lived or died. Every last physical and emotional reserve was sucked out of me, and I couldn’t see a way out. The present was too much, the future was pure fear, and hope… well hope, was long gone.

I could go on, but the point was, I was in a quick downward spiral and nothing was stopping me. Nothing…until two things happened. First an email showed up in my inbox.

This was an email from Ryan Hovde, whose wife (suffering from severe brain trauma due to a ski accident) was just down the hall from me in the hospital. I call it my ‘kick in the butt’ email.

With his permission, here are portions of it.

“…I’m told she should recover to some degree but I lay awake nights wondering if my true 39 year old wife will ever be the same again…

…I say all this knowing that my wife will live and we’ll have a life together regardless of how that life may look.  This brings me to you.  You have no idea what you and your family have done for me in this, the most difficult time in my life thus far.  When your parents prayed for me and Dina in the waiting room of the ICU I couldn’t believe it.  I’ve been a Christian since I was 13 years old but in the last 26 years I’ve never experienced what I did with you and your family.  How can a family who is dealing with the difficult pain that yours is, take the time to put their arms around someone else who is in a far less trying situation? It is simply amazing!

I want you to know the beautiful song your friend wrote for you that is on your website has been played over and over again for Dina.  I play it through my itouch and she listens to it over and over again as I wheel her around the hospital.  She has gotten to the point where she even sings along.  The first night I heard it I listened to it in my living room several times crying uncontrollably.  The tears were not tears of pain but tears of joy.  Tears of joy that this world cannot keep us down forever.  Tears of joy that one day we, as a Christian Family, will live together forever in Heaven with our Lord and Savior. Without pain.  Without suffering.  Without sorrow.

I look forward to that day when the Lord calls me home.  But for now, I want you to know that for as long as I am on this Earth; you will always be in my heart.  That one, five minute talk with you has left a life-long impression on me that will never leave.  You are my hero, Christina Ahmann.  I will carry your story with me always.  My wife Dina will one day know of you and my children will know of you as they grow.  You are truly a child of God and I am so blessed to have known you if only for a few minutes.  God Bless you and your family always…“

I cried and cried. My first thought was. “How arrogant Christina, how arrogant to presume what your journey is or isn’t about??  How about let’s try to take a little focus off SELF.” The truth is there is NO LIMIT to what God may want to do — even if it’s through a man my family and I crossed paths with a few days in a hospital. This man’s life has changed suddenly and drastically. He is walking down a path that I can’t even fathom! The fact that any part of my story can bring comfort to his situation, how humbling. How amazing. How incredibly worth it.

The second thing that happened, was when a friend came over a couple days ago, to visit and drop off a gift. She came full of questions… even printed off a few pages of my website to talk through with a mutual friend. She so badly wanted to know how in the world we could possibly see any good in suffering. A couple hours later she was praying with my mom and I to receive Jesus right here in our living room! Unbelievable! What an absolute honor to be a part of that day.

I’m done saying, “I’m done.”  Bringing a new friend encouragement on a difficult path and witnessing a new life join us in eternity– how could I ever measure the worth of that?!!:)

I have to trust Him. I have to trust that even if I lose parts of ‘myself’ through this, or even die a young death from cancer, I have no idea what He may have in store. That is so beyond my limited non-eternal comprehension. I have to trust Him to carry me through this life, whatever it may look like!

Yesterday I met with my oncologist in Seattle. I came home with chemo in hand (pill form) and will be starting on Friday. I will be taking a dose every night before bed for 5 days. Then I will have 23 days off and start the process all over again. They are expecting this to go about 8 rounds.

If you feel like praying for this process, you’d forever be my hero;) Basically the main side effect is nausea, and the reason I take it right before bed is that they’re hoping I will sleep through the most intense part. So, my directions are to take an anti-nausea pill one hour before bedtime and at that time cut off all food and water. When it’s time to climb in bed I will take my chemo, snuggle in bed and pray for the best. I’m, of course, wondering if I’ll be all nervous and lay there awake and helpless while all the grossness sets in! God did not give me a spirit of fear right???:) Great practice in surrendering that one. Eeks! I share all that detail just hoping to give you a little picture of my 5-day routine if you really do want to be praying. Between other updates, I’ll try to always post something when a new round is starting, just to keep ya’ll in the loop:)

I am doing so much better since the last update, thanks so much for your prayers! My knee feels great, my appetite is returning, and my eyes continue to improve! I can read, write, watch movies, and even drive – doctor approved! Thank you Jesus! There is still much room for improvement (please keep praying), but am so thankful for each small step in healing. They feel like little miracles.

Bye for now…. Christina

Ok now go hug someone you love! It’s fun.

P.S. By the way, Ryan is bringing Dina home this week! Please keep Ryan & Dina and their two little boys in your prayers as they navigate this new journey together. God’s doing spectacular things:)

Update Seventy-Five

Hi it’s me Christina. Ahhh so good to be back at the keyboard again, even with eyes that are trying to pick a fight with me:) Spell check and proofreaders are my lifesavers! So sorry about the long silence. It’s been quite the time since returning to Port Angeles. As my mom mentioned in the last update my grandmother passed away last Tuesday. Time with her was beautiful and peaceful just before she died. I am so thankful for that time.

A little surprise when I returned to my parents house that night was that due to their brand new carpet and the OVERPOWERING smell (with my ridiculously sensitive nose since surgery), there was NO way I could stay there. So off I went to yet another house of some very amazing friends. It was comfortable, peaceful and perfect for resting. Yay:)

Friday was an interesting day. I was visiting home for lunch looking out my parent’s window with my aunt Loralee at a beeeeautiful rainbow over the water, and then in a risky pivot maneuver, I turned to sit on the couch. I heard a pop; a searing pain shot through my knee, and then heard another POP! I just sat there dazed and cringing. Am I now headed into knee surgery?? Really??!!!  After a few “are you serious????” tears, an icepack, and a bite of pizza, we made the short trip to the ER to assess the situation. The good news — I’ve TOTALLY met my deductible already for 2011. Take THAT ER visit!  Ha.  As it turns out, I dislocated my kneecap (cheering because it wasn’t the ACL!), and along with icing/elevating my leg for the next couple days, I will have to “take it easy” for the next several weeks. We laughed. Besides now having to wear a knee brace the size of Texas (ok close enough), my life really doesn’t need much adjusting. Nice.

That night I’m laying in bed thinking wow, gotta lay off the desserts. My big bowl of ice cream really wasn’t feeling so good in my stomach. About an hour later with it only getting worse, I suddenly knew. RUN to the bathroom Christina! I threw off the covers, flung my icepack from my knee and sprint-hobbled to the bathroom. The rest of the night continued with getting up every 10-20ish minutes to deliver many-a-content to my porcelain friend. I must say, I went back and forth between crying and laughing (maybe once) at myself as I attempted to get myself down to the floor, up on the pot, down to the floor, and to bed again without bending that blasted knee! Let’s just say the rest of the night was one that I thought would never end. EVER. I wondered if it was possible to die from stomach flu on the bathroom floor. A shriveled pile of Christina, with a leg sticking straight out of course:)

I know it’s silly to compare the agony of that night to what I’ve just been through. Definitely had a night of throwing up in the ICU – (bless you Stacy). But I guess with losing a whole night sleep, in an already fatigued body trying to heal, with no reserves… it was really more than I thought I could possibly take.

But I did. I’m alive:) Shriveled a little, but replenishing bit by bit. Three days later I’m still mostly wanting to sleep and the stomach doesn’t seem to like more than a few sips or bites at a time… but am so thankful to be improving every day. Thank you Jesus for immune systems… even with not much to work on:)

I have been learning LOTS in the areas of surrender. LOTS… and still processing. I’m going to have save it for the next update because 1)it’s way past my bedtime, 2) between brains and eyes… this is has become a bit of a slower process. I am anxious to write though! Thoughts are flowing; heart’s stirring. We shall talk soon.

Love to you all. I don’t have words to thank you for all your prayers and encouragements through this time. I wish you knew how much it all has meant to me. Many times as they were read to me and my head was spinning in pain, all I could do was just cry. The good kind:) It’s so good to not feel alone. It’s so good to be surrounded by those that lift us up to the only true Comforter.  You my friends have been God’s gift to me.

Big Huge Hug (don’t worry, not contagious anymore)
Christina