Friday, October 27, 2006

The Youth May Be Our Future, But The Elderly Are Our Heritage!

A patient I saw at my dental office the other day has left a huge impression on my heart and I haven't been able to stop thinking about her and her story.

We'll call her Mrs. Jones.

Mrs. Jones is 92, she was coming in for an extraction of tooth #20. Because of her age, and since someone mentioned she was coming from an assisted living home, I expected her to come with a nurse, as patients with similar status
usually do. I was somewhat surprised to walk into the waiting room to see a very well-dressed and accesorized lady who appeared to be a decade younger than her biological age...without a nurse.

Our inital dialogue: "Mrs. Jones, good morning! (I said in my best, "I know this is the last place you'd ever want to be but I'll try to make it as pleasant and enjoyable as I possibly can because I care about you and your teeth and I don't want you to hate coming to the dentist," voice.)
Her response: "Oh yeah, what's so good about it!"

She has a horrible time hearing with no hearing in one ear and limited ability in the other. I yelled in a voice you'd use to get someone's attention who was standing on the other side of a speeding train, and she still barely heard what I was saying. Her mantra for the first half of her appointment was, "I'm very mad at that Dentist." So as you can imagine, we got off to a rocky start.

She was very open and shared a lot of information with me. I learned that she used to work for a culinary company and she would travel around to many places, that is, until her then boyfriend decided they should be married and she should quit working (remember this was probably the 1930's). She told me how she used to be a very jovial person, how she enjoyed life very much. Now, to hear her explain, she has nothing to look forward to, only pain to endure, as she hopes and prays every day for God to take her away to heaven. She says the assisted living home she lives in is very nice, but nothing compared to the cute home she used to own. She doesn't partake in many of the activities they offer because she can't hear. Instead she sits with three other women and knits or does word searches. She seems to have a very sharp mind. She was sure to let us know that after she had an MRI done recently, they told her she had the "best brain they'd seen in a long time".

I stood there and listened to her talk about all that her life had boiled down to, not saying much since she didn't really hear what I said anyway. On the outside I was intensely interested, but on the inside I was partially listening and partially wondering when the dentist would come in and start the procedure because, after all, we run a tight schedule and don't like to keep patents waiting. I mean, it's not like I can form a lasting, meaningful relationship with someone I've spoken with once for 15 minutes.

And then, while she spoke of what her life once was and all that she feels she has lost and how she just wants to die, she began to cry. Not just watery eyes cry, but really cry with big tears. She said that most of the time she just sits and crys because of the constant pain that she endures, and her despair that God hasn't taken her home to be with Him yet. And my heart began to break, and I began to cry with her. At that moment, nothing else was as important as loving Mrs. Jones and finding a way to restore her hope.

Keeping the dental details to a minimum, her mouth pain was relieved, her worries were calmed, and she repeated at least 6 times, "I'm not mad at that Dentist anymore!"

But as she left, I couldn't help but think about how she would go to her "home" and sit in sadness.

I've been trying to figure out how to visit her without violating any HIPAA laws. As she spoke to me, a stranger, I was touched by the way her words flowed with such ease. All she wanted was someone to listen, she's had a life full of experiences and doesn't have much left except her memories. Which, in a way, are painful for her. She thought it would be best if everyone got Alzheimer's, that way they wouldn't know what was going on and could be happy in their ignorance.

I'm realizing just how important it is to spend time with and love the elderly people in our lives. Find out their stories, listen to the experiences they've had. Love those people in your life that don't seem to have a clue about what's going on in today's world. They may not, but they know a lot more about what it was like living in the past than we ever will. Imagine yourself in their position and how much it would mean to you to have someone spend one hour with you, just talking.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Money Update

Here's an update on how our support is coming in for our trip to Scotland. For those of you just joining in, my husband James and I are moving to Scotland for two years to serve the children of a small town called Dornoch. Our church here in Richmond has a partnership with the church we'll be working with in Dornoch. We are sponsored by a mission organization called Mission To The World. We are raising money to pay all of our expenses while we are there. MTW has given us a budget that includes all or our travel, insurance, and living expenses. Here it is broken down, VERY SIMPLY:

One-Time Expenses: Needed in the bank before we leave to cover travel expenses, training, etc.


Monthly Expenses: 100% of this amount needs to be pledged by an individual or group, before we leave. Total for two years:


Yes, it is A LOT of money. No, we will not be making $60,000 a year while being missionaries. After all expenses are taken out, we will recieve a check for $1,200 a month, or 600 pounds, to cover food and unforseen extras.

Here's where we are currently, as a result of the love and generosity we've been so blessed to recieve from so many people:

100% of the $29,000 One-Time Expense RAISED!
35% of the $132,000 Monthly Expenses RAISED!

So we continue to raise support until we get to 100%. It's frustrating sometimes not knowing when we'll be able to go. But we know it's totally in God's hands, and we'll get there when He wants us there. Not one day earlier, not one day later.

If you're interested in finding out more about this adventure, leave me a comment and I'll be glad to get in touch with you!

Friday, October 13, 2006

When did YOU know that he/she was THE ONE?

The first day James and I talked about marriage was December 9th, 2002. After all that crazy talk we had worked up an appetite and ate dinner at Melito's, I had a juicy cheeseburger with a slice of grilled pineapple YUM. It was delicious. But the coolest thing about that day wasn't the meal.

James was the first one to allude to the "M" word. You have to realize, we are the people who thought we'd be single and loving every minute of it until very late in our 20's/early 30's. So this whole talking about marriage thing was almost unfathomable at the ages of 22 and 21. But we just knew that it was right, there's no other way for me to explain it. Here's his direct quote: "I'm in this for the long haul." I love it, it was perfectly stated. Those of you who know James know that this is true to his personality. No flowery language or poetry, straight to the point. I love this about him, mostly because I have the opposite tendency.

So there we were, talking about very minor wedding day things (by no means were we hiring the wedding planner and picking out china) and James had a request. He said that one of the only things he really was interested in having at the wedding was a bagpiper. At this, my mouth fell open and I was truly, for the third time in my entire life, speechless. For as long as I can remember, the one thing that I have known I just HAD to have at my wedding was a bagpiper. I guess it seems as though having bagpipes at your wedding is not uncommon anymore, but at that moment it was as if God was showing me his seal of approval by giving us this common desire.

At that point I didn't even care to read about Scotland, much less visit or live there! I think it's pretty providential that we had a Scottish flare to the day we began our married life together and would end up deciding to move there for two years. It's funny, the way life goes.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

WARNING: Emotional Girl Ahead

My husband and I are rediculously busy with all the prep work that has come along with going to Scotland. We're raising the funds to live there, which honestly could be a full time job. We're doing some semi-major renovations on our OLD house in Church Hill to ready it for renting while we're gone, which could definitely be a full time job. Oh yeah, and we both work our real full time jobs (the one's we get paid for). Then there's all the stuff that we're involved with socially during the week that we just can't give up because we love our friends so much. And we need them and the stress release that comes from being with them to get through the craziness.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life and all the stuff that comes with it. I know there's a time for everything and this is the time for us to have a million and one projects going on at once because, once we have kids (Oh Lord please don't let it be anytime in the next three years) all that stuff will get pushed to the bottom of the list.

With all the madness, I sometimes forget to take stock of how I'm doing emotionally and mentally. In a way, that can be good. Leaving home, family, and friends for two years is overwhelming to think about and I could probably consume myself with thoughts about the good, bad, and scary things that come along with it. But it's a necessity every once in a while.

So apparently today was one of those days where the neglect of my psychological well-being would catch up with me. It was 11:00 am, I was on my way into the sanctuary at the church I've gone to since 3rd grade (so these people we're leaving are like family). In the span of 4 minutes I had interactions with 6 people. The context of those interactions centered around activities that James and I are a part of. And not just any activities, but things we either lead or are very involved in and devoted to. Activities, but most importantly, people that we will be leaving. By the time I sat down next to James I was holding back sobs. I waited for a song so everyone would be standing as I rushed out to get control of my faucet of a nose and tried to hide my red eyes to keep from answering too many "What's the matter?" questions later on.

Leaving is hard. I think the hardest part is knowing that life will go on without us, and there are so many things we'll miss. The replacements for some of our 'jobs' are already being lined up. People will get married, ladies will have babies, new people will come along and become friends with our friends, I might not get to see the new season of Project Runway...oh the list goes on.

BUT...We're moving to a new place to meet new people and have experiences that we could never have here. Some people can only dream about being able to do what we're doing. It's so very exciting and challenging and awesome and...scary and overwhelming and sad. But how cool to be able to feel all these emotions at once, difficult to manage, but pretty amazing. Makes me feel alive.

Living in Scotland for two years...what an adventure! It's gonna be incredible, as long as I can get there with my sanity still intact.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

In Denial.

Denial is such a strong defense mechanism.

A new patient came into the dental office where I work the other day. Protocol for first visits and regular check-ups is a head and neck cancer screening on every patient. This gentlemen was 44, married, and your normal hard-working middle class guy. When my dentist was performing the cancer screening (which includes looking and feeling around the head and neck for anything abnormal) he saw some obvious pre-cancerous cells on the inside of his lower lip. This is when the patient reported using smokeless tobacco for many years (I think around 20). After the dentist went over all the patient's options and recommended having the area biopsied to determine if the cells were actually pre-cancerous or cancerous the patient replied:

"We're just not going to go there. To be honest with you, I'm not quitting (using tobacco) and if it is cancer, I don't want to know."

Have you seen what could happen if cancer in your mouth results in surgery?

And he's so young.