Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It’s -20 degrees this morning! – the coldest it has been in quite a few winters. Barbara and I, however, got a good night’s sleep. Ken went back to Missouri to get some of their affairs in order and will be coming back this week. Sabine did her second dialysis yesterday afternoon and it seemed to go a little better than the day before when she received 2 pints of blood along with the dialysis and some nausea but not as bad as Friday’s. A third dialysis is scheduled for tomorrow.

I know that so many of you want to come and lend a hand – especially our children. It is very difficult for me to explain to you why I am resisting this unless you yourself have encountered the intensity of sudden illness or death of a child or spouse -- to be on the periphery of a “storm” is one thing – but to be caught in the vortex is quite another thing.

I know it may be hard to understand that I need to be with Sabine and that I need to conserve my strength so that I am there for her – even at the expense of others in my life. This illness has happened so fast and is so intense that I have to write these blogs to explain my feelings and what is going on in our lives. It is so fast and so intense that I don’t have the energy to explain to everyone what is happening. For when I even attempt to do so, or try and talk to someone on the phone, I break down into almost uncontrollable weeping. The prospect of losing Sabine is more than my heart can bear – but, of course, bear it I will – but for now my focus must be on Sabine… and to conserve her limited strength while at the same time I must try and limit the sadness she sees in my eyes (but knowing at the same time we must from time to time be able to weep together – to “name, claim and tame” this beast that works within trying to destroy her.

I promise that I will try to let you who wish to DO something have that opportunity to do so. For example, the housecleaning at the farm was something that needed to happen almost immediately (though her crashing kidneys forestalled her coming home last Friday when we thought) and finishing the work on the Mazomanie cottage is another project that will make her more at ease – she certainly brightened up when I told her that some plans were in the wind to do so.

The effort to create the “last man standing” cottage a couple of years ago from that little shack along the railroad tracks in nearby Mazomanie is an enormous irony, but the fact that the cottage is “handicapped accessible,” 80 percent completed, and is in Dane County (with a greater array of county social services) may be a great help and comfort to us in the months and hopefully/prayerfully years to come.

My friend and sword teacher, Kurt Lifka, has been working with me over the past year in remodeling the cottage has offered to coordinate the cottage’s finishing work. Kurt is an accomplished cabinetmaker, home remodeller and has coordinated large construction teams in the past. So if you want to be part of this Amish-style final house-raising you can email him at He's an all-around nice guy with a gentle soul and great to work with.

Another thing that would help as long as Sabine is hospitalized (her sister, Barbara, and I are doing “shifts” to help coordinate the healthcare disciplines) would be if some folks could be available as a “car pool” to drive Barbara (she doesn’t drive) to the hospital and/or pick her up to relieve me. If you are able to do this, please let me know via email (

Where we are right now: the kidney problem has led to complications regarding Sabine going home. She has a temporary “pic” line that could be a sight for infection and her immune system will soon be crashing to dangerous levels because of the chemotherapy. The med staff is considering placing a more permanent blood line but that would require surgery. Hospitals, contrary to popular belief, are places full of “bugs” and the quicker one gets home, the better. At home we could continue monitoring her blood chemistry at a local lab, go to thrice-weekly dialysis sessions on an out-patient basis and she would be in a “cleaner” environment over-all. So we are working with the kidney and blood folks to decide the best and most asceptic course of action for Sabine.

This afternoon I am looking forward to attending worship services here at the hospital (a Catholic Mass at 4 p.m.). As a priest, I have greatly missed leading worship each Sunday and I think I probably am emotionally stable enough to join in corporate worship. It is a strange feeling… yet at the same time I deeply feel both God’s help and presence.

Thank you again for your prayers, love and concern – there are so many of you out there that whenever I mention to Sabine your wonderful offers of help, she simply sits there and weeps with gratitude... as I am doing right now…

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