Negatives

If we have had highs, we have had lows too. Both of us have struggled with homesickness, loneliness and missing our dear ones who are far away. We continue to struggle with exhaustion. Our biggest negative, however, requires some background.

Last May I graduated with a BSN and one requirement left, passing a comprehensive final exam. My professors and I were confident that I would be ready to retake within 6 weeks of graduation. I spent the first to weeks after graduation in San Diego, visiting Fred and his family.

I came home, where my mom was still fighting a persistent (6 week) case of pneumonia. Two days after I got home, I was taking Mom to the ER for breathing complications. They took fluid off her lungs and she got relief. The next week the lab results came back and changed our lives. There were cancer cells in the fluid.

Soon tests shows the full diagnosis, stage 4 ovarian cancer, and our lives became a whirlwind of ER visits, hospital stays, surgeries and chemo. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Complications cropped up everywhere. We had a strong support system and my dad was a great example of a loving spouse. My siblings (5 younger) were troopers, but all of us struggled. We struggled a lot. In September I finally passed the test and shortly after that passed the NCLEX. Our earlier blog posts pick up from there. Mostly. Within a few weeks of our move to Kodiak, Mom was pronounced cancer free. We breathed a sigh of relief and all began to heal.

A month ago my Mom had a routine check. The results rocked out world again as we learned that the cancer is back. Chemo began immediately and so did the complications as her blood counts have already delayed two treatments. Being away from my family right now has been tearing my heart. We are grateful for many things, God continues to take good care of us as a family, but tears come frequently and my heart aches.

Still life goes on. My brother, Josh, is preparing for his marriage in September to the lovely Emily. My sister, Jennifer, returns from the Summer Institute of Linguistics in North Dakota next week, and after a couple of weeks in WA will one to visit us for a few weeks. Fred’s brother, Tommy is in Mexico for a week. Life continues and we thank God for our dear ones in the midst of the negatives. We thank God for each other. My husband is a strong tower of support, tenderly caring for me in the hard times. “Some through the water, some through the flood, some through the fire, but all through the blood. Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.” God still gives a song, even in the negatives.

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Positives

When I was a kid we used a behavior chart for awhile to determine allowances. It was called a positive/negative chart, and I still think in those terms sometimes. These past few years have had great positives (finishing 2 degrees, passing the NCLEX, my marriage, my brother’s marriage, my sister surviving a car accident in Africa, . . .) and great negatives (death of a dear friend, heavy class loads, Mom’s cancer, Grandma’s death, . . .). This is part of life, I know. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Peaks and valleys. Sometimes they seem to come closer together, like this last year.

Recently we have had some great positives. Visits to different parts of the island continue to give us our much needed “adventures.”. We have driven to the end of the road by Chiniak, the end by Pasagshak (at Fossil Beach), the end by White Sands Beach/ Monashka Bay, and the end by Anton Larson Bay. We have gone to the top of Pillar mountain, out to Fort Abercrombie and hiked around Near Island. There are a lot of places on our list to still explore, but the more we see, the more we love this beautiful place!

We continue to be blessed by our church family here, though my work schedule interferes with my attendance. The people have embraced us and uphold us in prayer. We are making friends, and more importantly, building friendships. The last few weeks have held game nights at a friends’ house and at ours, coffee dates, dinner at our place, continued evenings at small group, a harbor cruise with friends and an afternoon of baking cookies. We have met new people and found encouragement in old acquaintances. God is good. So good to us.

Our jobs continue to be positives. Not only are we both working in our respective fields, gaining valuable experience, but we are working with great people and have supportive bosses. We are developing friendships with our coworkers and feeling comfortable in our work. We work in the same building and live near it, which helps us steal moments together. Valuable moments, since our work schedules conflict for the most part.

Technology is a positive. Technology allows us to keep in close touch with our family and friends in other, distant places. We get to hear their voices, see their faces, find out about changes as they happen. It is so much better than the days with only letters, or letters and rare telephone calls. We are truly blessed!

Losing Track of Time

Daily time

I thought I would attempt to give a brief explanation of what happens to one’s concept of time while in Alaska.  Basically, you lose it (or at least I have).  I’ve heard a few other people also bemoan their inability to tell time easily, here as they would elsewhere.

A recent example: we had a game night a couple nights ago and after a while of playing games the phrase, “well it’s 10 O’clock, we should get going”, came out.  I was shocked.  The light outside still had me believe it was only a little after 6 or 7.  It is nice to have all the sunlight, but it has been playing with our minds some (especially not growing up in these conditions).

Seasonal time

In a different form, I was listening to Christmas music a couple weeks ago.  I had all of these Christmas songs stuck in my head, and I kept having memories of past Christmases and feeling reminiscent of that time of year.  This has faded, but for a while I was ready for Christmas vacation a few months ahead of time.

I have a theory about this.  For most of my life I’ve followed a school structure.  Go to school for 3-4 months, with the same daily/weekly routine, and then have Christmas vacation.  For the past year and a half I’ve been out of that system, and for a while I didn’t have anything really structuring my time.  Now that I have work and have been following that daily routine, I realize I reached my four month mark and I think my mind naturally figured it was time for Christmas now.

Never setting sun*

That’s all I had to say on that right now.  I was going to post a picture showing how bright it can be at midnight, but Jonelle has the camera and I don’t feel like walking back to the hospital now.  Instead I will say that we’ve walked home a couple times when she gets off work at 11:30pm.  If I didn’t know otherwise I would have figured we were walking home at around 7 or 8 O’clock.

*The sun does set, even at our longest day.  Then we have hours or twilight, in which the sun is only technically set and it’s still much the same as full daylight. It does actually get dark in Kodiak, from around 3-4 in the morning, even on our longest days.