The Georges in Peru

I'm the lucky one. I get to spend time with her.

20 Mar 2016

After my mom died a year and a half ago I thanked my sister Carolyn for doing the majority of caring for her.  I used the word 'burden' and she quickly corrected me, "It wasn't a burden.  I was the lucky one.  I got to spend time with her."  At the time I thought it was a great tribute to my mom:  Her children saw it as a privilege to take care of her during her dying days.  I now know even better what she meant.  I've received a lot of emails commending me for stopping most of my responsibilities and dedicating my time to taking care of  Amy.  That comment initially surprised me.  My initial thoughts have been: "Well, of course.  I signed up for 'In sickness or in health'," or "Did I have a choice?"  I guess one sees the statistics that up to 40% of spouses are abandoned in times like this and one realizes that we have a choice, but the other choice is reprehensible.  As a missionary, I probably am more able to make this choice since people still support us even though I'm not 'working' full time at the moment.  I suppose most others can't just quit their jobs to take care of their spouses and still pay the bills.  Being a physician helps, though there isn't much that I'm doing that non-medical people couldn't do.  I probably have a higher tolerance to seizures and vomit and I don't have to ask someone how much the next dose of pain meds should be.  I have a thin spouse.  If she were 200 pounds I wouldn't be able to care for her well.  And being healthy myself makes carrying her possible and stamina gained from marathon running helps me to change bedding at 2 am.  Our hope of a painless eternity with Christ makes being even-keeled emotionally possible.  

So I guess I am lucky.  I can spend this time with Amy when any one of these variables could make it so I couldn't do it.  I'm the lucky one.  I get to spend time with her.


Saturday Update

19 Mar 2016

Amy has gotten weak enough that she prefers to be carried up and down the stairs.  She's light enough I can do it, though if there is one of the kids nearby, I have them help carry her.  Today she vomitted twice.  Once was right as we were starting lunch, so I felt sorry for her and our guest that had brought us strawberry shortcake for dessert (that's how one remembers which is 'dessert' and which is 'desert'; strawberry shortcake has two 's').

update 8:29pm CST

Amy has really gone downhill today.  Vomiting a lot.  Not talking.   Fidgeting a lot.  Part of me suspects this is the beginning of the end, but she was similarly bad about 4 weeks ago and rebounded, so we will wait and see.  Spent a lot of time sitting with her with the girls.  Sweet times of fellowship, despite the sadness.

Lost Passport

17 Mar 2016

Yesterday I needed to take Paul to the RENIEC office, which is where every Peruvian (Paul is Peruvian because he was born here) has to renew his ID card.  Since he is a minor, I, as a responsible adult, have to request the renewal, and I have to show my ID card to do so.  Since my ID card is currently being processed, I have to show my passport.  I looked in our safe.  Not there.  I looked in my briefcase, bookbag, inbox, outbox, floor around everywhere, on my dresser, desk. Gone.  Ughh.  A horrible sick sensation came over me thinking about the huge hassle lying in front of me to get a replacement passport.  Police reports, trips to Lima, changing all the paperwork in process because of a new passport number.  Uggh.  I did find Amy's passport so I loaded her into the truck and took her along to the RENIEC office so that she could be the 'responsible parent' (In more ways than one!).  Luckily, the RENIEC employee was the only other person in the office and the paperwork went smoothly.  Even better, when we got home, Sarah found my passport in my bookbag in a hidden pocket that it had fallen into.  I put it immediately in the safe and felt a huge sigh of relief!

Amy has gotten markedly weaker over the last few days.  She wasn't able to go downstairs for breakfast, so had breakfast in bed.

No Team Meeting

15 Mar 2016

This morning, despite getting her dressed, hair combed and teeth brushed, Amy was just too tired to go to our missionary team meeting.  She really wanted to go, but has really gotten weak.  She stayed home with Sarah and Adriana (our maid that comes on Tuesdays and Fridays) and I went to the meeting.  Afterwards, I went to Maestro (ACE Hardware) to buy a flexible shower hose so that Amy can shower more easily.  Arequipa has changed a lot since we came 16 years ago.  I probably wouldn't have been able to have found such a thing back then.

At our team meeting I was given our mail that had piled up while we were in the States in 2015.  This includes Christmas letters that friends sent us in December of 2014 that arrived after we left in January of 2015!  so, 15 months later we got them!  That's slow delivery!


13 Mar 2016

Amy has gotten a lot weaker the last two days.  This afternoon I had to have Ben help me carry her back up to her room after she half-heartedly played a game of Settlers of Catán with the rest of us.  She might have to stay home from church tonight, as the entryway is a series of stairs, mostly without handrails.  We could probably carry her in, but it would be a bit dangerous.  Most of the time her headaches have been tolerable, but they fluctuate from no headache to being bad enough she needs Oxycontin.  

Update (9:11pm) 

Amy did go to church tonight. She was able to get down the stairs okay, but Ben and I had to carry her out to the truck.  (There are advantages to having a teenage son who is into weightlifting!)  Here's a picture of the stairs.  You should have seen the pile of blocks we crawled down before we built the stairs a couple of years ago!

Out and about

11 Mar 2016

Amy has been feeling enough better lately that she went with me on my weekly visit to Alejandro yesterday.  Alejandro is the 83 y/o amputee that I visit each Thursday to take him food and help clean up his room.  It was Amy's idea to set a bucket with a spigot on a stand so that he can wash his hands and get a cup of water easily.  He really likes it.

He has two wheel chairs, so we borrowed one for Amy while we visited.  While they talked, I swatted about 50 flies.

My brother Lyle left last night.  He said that he lost 19 pounds on the Peruvian weight loss program.  Guaranteed results!  Order now, operators are standing by!

Amy has felt pretty well for the last 3 days, taking pain killers only a couple of times per day.  But she feels like her head is 'spinning' all of the time, which adds to her difficulty in walking.  Thanks for praying.

I don't know you, but can I bring you lunch?

09 Mar 2016

Last week we received a call from a woman we'd never met before, "Hi.  My name's Lidda and I heard about the health of your wife and I would like to bring you dinner some day."  Her daughter lives in Springfield, Virginia (just outside of Washington, DC) and five years ago the daughter's husband died of melanoma.  Their church rallied around them and took care of them so well, it really impressed Lidda, so she wanted to extend the same generosity to us!  She brought a great meal of roasted chicken, potatoes and vegetables.  Who would think that the generous acts by people in Virginia would spill over to bless us in Peru?

Nothing more Peruvian than a potato!

Amy had a really good day yesterday.  She went to our team meeting and was awake a large portion of the day.   Her balance was better and right now she's even tackling a sudoku, which she hasn't been able to do for a while.  It's been her best in 3 weeks.

Less headaches, more tummy troubles

07 Mar 2016

Amy's doing well on the headache front, but she (and thus we) had a rough night because of her tummy.  My brother calls it the 'Peruvian weight loss program', but Amy's about 55 kg (121#) and doesn't need to lose weight.  And not being able to run to the bathroom makes it even worse.  Thankfully, the cipro (antibiotic) I gave last night seems to already be working and she ate a decent breakfast this morning and no more troubles.

So what do we do all day?  I wake up around 5:30 or 6 am and usually help Amy use the bathroom and help her take her morning meds.  I then try to get her settled back in bed and I make breakfast for the kids.  I check on her every 5 minutes or so, since this is the time of day I'm the only one awake to be watching her.  I wake up Mia at 6:20, Ben wakes himself up and I wake up Paul around 6:30, unless I forget, in which case I wake him up when I realize that he hasn't come to breakfast.  Being a boy, he just gets out of bed and comes downstairs without needing to fix his hair or nails.  I wake up Sarah around 6:45 and she sits with Amy while I go for my morning run.  She runs with me some mornings, so we have Uncle Lyle watch Amy while we are out.  Amy sleeps most of the day (about 20-22 hours).  She's been going downstairs for all three meals, but the walk up the stairs afterwards nearly wipes her out and she goes back to bed to sleep.  Our fellow missionaries have been bringing us the midday meal, which everyone loves.  I love not having to try to cook while watching Amy.  The kids like the variety of food.  Amy likes the chance to see people, and we all like the distraction of dinner guests.  Sarah has been reading "The Westing Game" to her when she is awake.  I often read her emails.  When she's awake she alternates between lucid and confused, but she still cracks jokes and says she feels guilty she isn't helping more around the house.  I have to physically stop her from trying to help clear the table after meals since she can't carry things back to the kitchen.  She only leaves the house to go to church or walk around the block when she feels strong.  Church is very hard because there are lots of stairs in and out of it, none with handrails.  During the night, I tie Amy to myself with some baling twine on a carabiner, so she doesn't try to get up to go to the bathroom unaccompanied.  All of her recents falls occured before I started doing that.  I figured out last night to tie her to my pillow.  Still wakes me up without tying me down or me waking her up if I have to get up.  

A Very Good Night

05 Mar 2016

Last night Amy had a very good night.  She slept from 9pm until 6am without moving.  It was actually a bit disconcerting and I'd try to be quiet and make sure I could hear her breathing several times during the night.  She woke up with hardly any pain or nausea and even walked around the block.  Her condition fluctuates so much it is really an emotional rollercoaster.  

Operating Room in Casa George

04 Mar 2016

During meal times, if Amy isn't feeling well, someone sits with her while the rest eat.  Last night, as I sat with Amy and she chatted about how much her head hurt and how nauseated she was, I heard a crash/thud and a yell, "Dad!  Uncle Lyle fell on the floor and his head is bleeding!"  Lyle has been victim of Montezuma's revenge for the last day and a half and it made him so light-headed he passed out at supper, fell on the floor and cut open his forehead.  Luckily, I still have all the needed equipment for minor surgery in my pharmacy, so the George Family OR team (Sarah and Ben held lights, Paul handed me equipment and Mia sat with Amy) got to work and patched him up.  Our couch has seen a lot of surgeries.  I used especially large needles as payback for all the mean things Lyle did to me from when we were kids. 

Amy is doing better today and even ate a bit of breakfast.  But she is still having lots of pain and is pretty confused most of the time.  Please pray that her pain subsides.


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