Faith / Fears / Medical

Peering Into the Valley

On Monday, we went to see Dr. H, my neurologist who first diagnosed my ALS. P1070301 (1024x768)He sees me every three months. My progression has now reached the point that he is encouraging us to begin thinking about hospice care. It’s not urgent, but it would be good to begin considering our choices.

This was not really unexpected. I mean, we knew that at some point, hospice would be our next big decision. What I did not expect was my internal reaction. There was a momentary feeling of panic. “I’ve got lists to make, things to do, stuff to deal with!”

Yes. I am a list-maker. There used to be slips of paper everywhere with various lists in my messy handwriting. My purse and pockets were crammed with tiny pieces of paper. Things to do, things to buy, books to read, stuff to take along wherever I was headed…

So, yes. There is a list in my head of the things I would like to finish before I am unable to do so. Okay, it is a short list. And I have every confidence I will get to the most important stuff.

After the brief (but mild) panic, the reality set in. Hospice. This really is happening. All of my “I am not afraid of dying” speeches hightailed it out of the room, down the hall, jumped the railing down to the ground floor, and took off out the door. Just like that. Dang.

I’m still okay. No meltdowns. No tears. I’m just processing this. And we will be just fine.

P1050001 (1024x768)At this point in my journey, we find ourselves cresting a hill and peering down into the valley. The journey itself is far from over, but it has taken a decided turn. I have no doubt there are still adventures to be had! And through it all, we are never alone.

I know that I share often here about my faith. But I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I have it all together. That I never get rattled or frightened. Yes, I believe. I believe that there is a God, and that He is the creator of the universe and everything in it. And I believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. But as a human – and recovering control freak – I want to know exactly what I will experience at the moment of my death. Yes, there are books on this subject and I have read them. But, of course, doubt always creeps in with questions like, “What if they are just trying to sell books?” As much as I try to keep a positive attitude, this world just invites cynicism, doesn’t it?

So I return to the one source I know I can trust: the Bible. The Word of God. There I find comfort, promises and reassurance.

The 23rd Psalm offers so much comfort. It paints a beautiful picture of the Lord as a protective loving Shepherd, guiding me to my eventual destination: home with Him. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, there is no fear because He is with me.

ALS is a terminal disease. So, yes, I am dying. Aren’t we all? Unless there is some significant change in my progression rate it is unlikely I will make it to my 60th birthday in 2016. But I look forward to a beautiful birthday in heaven.

In December of this year, if the Lord wills it, Alan and I will celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary. It bothers me that I can no longer wear my wedding and engagement rings, so I asked Alan to put them on one of my favorite necklaces.

P1070379 (2)

My 40th high school reunion is coming up in August. I am really looking forward to this! Barring any medical emergencies I should be okay that day. I just may not be able to talk. Maybe I will have something typed up and printed out.

2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” I need to remember this. What I see is a body that doesn’t work very well anymore. But there is a power at work within me. God is guiding me each step of the way. I will move with confidence into this valley because He is right there beside me.

Love, Patty

17 thoughts on “Peering Into the Valley

  1. Dear Patty, I am so glad that you can trust the Lord to carry you through the problems
    as they come each day. I have prayed much about the inroads that each day brings you
    and so was glad to get your thoughts today. I, too, want to plan things, and then am
    glad when the Lord tells me He is taking care of things. Love and prayers.


  2. I’m sure with your faith in Jesus Christ, you are an inspiration to many, many people, as my brother was. He found great joy and beauty in all things God has created such as a harvest moon, hummingbirds and a beautiful Baltimore oriole. When his speech was very difficult to understand, he tried for 15-20 minutes to tell us to look at the moon rising. Hospice will be very beneficial for you. Our hospice paid for my brothers medicine, provided equipment and supplies needed for his care, provided a bath aide 2 days a week, and a weekly visit from a registered nurse. Their resources are priceless. They are the liason between you and your doctors. That will allow you to focus on your “list”. I pray for you and Alan and think of you very often during the day. God will never leave your side. You will never walk alone.


    • Marcia, your brother sounds like a kindred spirit! As much as I enjoy listening to music, I love sitting quietly and just listening to the birds. Thank you for the information on hospice. When the time comes, I know we will appreciate them.


  3. my dear pattty…i have so enjoyed learning from you. and to here you are nearing Hospice my prayers are with you. i will be 59 in august, i am going to see my neurologist on mon. may 12, i have not seen him since last november. i have all the test done possible so this appointment is really important and am sure will point me in the direction one way or the other for the rest of my life. i wish you peaceful journey. Teri G


    • Thank you, Teri. I sure hope your Dr. is able to give you some answers. I think it will be a few months before we actually sign up for hospice. Unless there is a drastic change in my condition, we have some time still. Take care.


  4. Patty – Thanks again for the great effort you put into sharing your thoughts, experiences and consistently upbeat attitude with us. Peter


  5. I love reading your blog. I always feel like I am sitting next to you, and reaching out to give you a hug. You have given me so much from your writing. Thank you, my friend.xxo


  6. I just need to tell you, Patty, that your words, emotions, etc., are incredibly warm and hopeful. I have no eloquent words to use to express how your posts have touched me. I told Alan today that your entire blog should be posted far and wide for anyone or anyone’s family with a terminal disease which, as you put it, we all have. Life! It’s terminal!
    Your spirit and emotions are so lovely and so welcome in this crazy world where each day we are getting more and more unconnected from each other.
    Thank you!


    • Aw, Julia, thank you so much. I am so grateful Alan has you to talk to at work. He has an awful lot to deal with these days. Thank you for supporting us both.


  7. Good morning dear sister. Just a word of support. Relax….As long as we are here, it is a gift. You are a gift to all who know and love you and a gift to yourself, the beautiful human being that you are. One fondest memory of you as a young girl is you and your friend at our home in Ocean Beach, and you are holding a new little person, Allen, and enjoying his little personage. How beautiful a memory this is for me. You gave me that gift and it is forever. When we think of the ‘Spirit of your being’ we have comfort and happiness to love and hold on to. We all make a wave in the Universe. You are a perpetual wave in our lives. You see beauty in your journey. I believe that will continue. There is more than we know. See you tomorrow:-) hugs forever, Vivi


  8. I have just found your blog and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was diagnosed with ALS in Oct. of 2013 while in hospital with pneumonia. Had symptoms before that but nothing conclusive. This disease is now impacting my life every day,in every way. I share your beliefs but still get lost in the whys some days.
    You give me hope to know I am not alone in this battle. Bless you!


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