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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday nights with Job (and Stu)

Job Rock 

We are gathered in Stu's room tonight, the three of us: Ruth, Nancy, and myself.  Stu is in his bed, right foot keeping up a steady beat-----maybe to make up for his lifeless left side.  We are reading the fourth chapter of the book of Job together, and it strikes me that there are three of us-----just as Job had three friends.   Tonight we are hearing what Job's "friend" Eliphaz has to share with him.  Nancy nails it "He's kicking him when he's down!"  Makes me reflect how easy that is to do.  I'm sure Eliphaz thought he was being helpful.   

We feel the atmosphere in the room-----we hear the sounds:  Suzie down the hall, moaning again.   Stu comments:  "She does that every night".   Beeps, hums, footsteps.  We notice (in spite of how quiet he is) the roomate at the other end of the room, Dave.  He doesn't make a sound, but his eyes are wide open.  He is listening.   And we just keep reading, commenting, listening to each other.   Laughing. 

God is in the room with us.  His presence warms and charges the atmosphere.  We are safe, and we are worshiping him with this simple gathering.

Ruth reminds Stu that God strengthens us when we call out to him.  

Stu prays "Oh, Lord Jesus, I pray that you strengthen me to remember what we've said when these three women leave and I'm all alone for hours and hours. "   We can feel the ache in his heart as he prays-----and we know that the One he prays to will answer him.

We are his friends, and maybe we've learned something from the mistakes of Job's friends.  Hope so.    

Stu tells us that we must each kiss him on the forehead before we go.  So we do, and I sneak in an extra one.  

On the way out I say goodnight to Dave.  His eyes are still wide open.  I wonder what he's thinking. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

when bitterness strikes........

"repose"  by Stu

From  my journal:                                                                      
            Felt sullenness plucking at my sleeve this morning-----Stu was anxious and hard to reach last night, and I went home sad.  A steady diet of sadness can lead to sullennness, I'm thinking.  Lord, strengthen me to rebuke such an attitude, I pray.  It brings nothing but misery.  It blinds me to the everyday miracles that are everywhere.  Let me feast on the daily bread you give me, not allowing the enemy to steal my joy.  As the bitterness strikes, let me stand firm in your sunshine, that transforms bitter, unripe fruit into something sweet, soft, and delicious.  It just takes time!  Grant me a patient, trusting attitude, I pray.  

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.  See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.  You too be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near"  James 5:7-8

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grateful for the Lord Jesus, by Stu Mendelson

"The Cross" by Stu Mendelson.   Left corner: wedding invitation w/art by Stu
Found this in one of Stu's notebooks after the stroke.  It was deeply encouraging at a time when I couldn't really communicate with him because of the severity of the stroke and the heavy medications.

Grateful for the Lord Jesus

Stu Mendelson         Feb. 2011

1)  I am grateful for Him, Himself

2)  I am grateful that He is willing to correct and heal me.

3)  I am grateful for a wife that loves the Lord and His way,
         and that she patiently endures my struggles.

4)  I am grateful for all the blessings that surround my life.

5)  I am grateful for all the suffering that He uses to lead me to
       repentance and lead me to the truth of how pride works.

6)  I am grateful that I don’t have to------indeed I am told by Him NOT
     to------- burden myself with how insane I’ve been about my flesh and
     its stresses, my fears, and my selfish obsession for comfort.

7)  I am grateful to know and believe that even though I crave the comfort of my flesh more than I crave His Holy Spirit, He knows my weakness and forgives me and only desires that in my suffering I persist in recalling to my mind, over and over again, the truth of Him, His Spirit, His love, and my destiny through Christ to be well in His timing.

get your butt-whippin over the phone........

  (Got this email three weeks after the stroke from our friend Charles, an old friend who moved away many years ago.  Love his down-to earth approach!)    
"one-eyed" by Stu Mendelson

Hello Stu and Sue. My heart sunk when I heard the news of the stroke. I have been preparing myself the past few years for the fact that we are all getting older and my family friends and I will start to break down in health. There has been a lot of friends of mine battling illness. Just buried a friend in January because of cancer. Heart attacks, bypass, tumours are all weapons on the battlefield. "What the enemy has meant for evil God will use it for our GOOD! That is where the rubber meets the road. "Of myself I can do nothing right" but Christ that lives in me gives life and is a lamp unto my feet. I may not know tomorrow and what troubles it will bring but I know NOW where the truth is and the truth will set me free.

My heart sunk with the news because I was just thinking about Stu and I sitting in my car on a rainy Grants Pass day planning the Free Enterprise Fair. I always think of that place in my history every time I am moving forward into untried territory. I remember the passion that over came fear and the faith that over rode lack of ability. It always says " you can do all things with Christ who gives the strength.

I am wondering what is Jesus saying to stu now. Stu you always knew what Christ was saying to you even if you didn't always listen. I know from personal experience that when we get knocked to the ground we tend to listen even more intently. I have learned over the years that you can't know the end of the story by reading the forword.

My friend I know that you are on a journey and it is still playing out. I know from the short time we spent together and the times our paths crossed briefly that God has His hands on you and His will is plain. A broken and contrite heart He seeks to reveal Himself. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Take advantage of the time you have now to, as I always say "get your butt whippin over the phone instead of in person". Translation - Let God correct you with the shield of Grace around you in this world instead of getting the rebuke as you stand naked before the Judgement seat.

Lord I pray for my brother Stu. You know his beginning and his end. You know his lying down and his rising up again. Lord I trust that if it is your will to raise him up to good health it is already done. If you have other plans we trust them also. We trust You and your higher perfect ways. We also trust that Sue will be comforted now in this time of great uncertainty. We pray for peace that surpasses all understanding to guard the hearts and minds of the whole family in Christ Jesus Name I pray.

I will continue to ask for miracles for I serve a God that provides nothing less. Much love for you guys. Charles and family

The bagel-baking, leather-sewing, elephant-drawing, opinionated Jewish man......

Tribute to Stu by Ian Dudley.
"Bluebird of Joy"  by Stu Mendelson

(note:  I received this email just a week after the stroke.  Ian has always been a special person in our lives, even though he now lives far away.  I cherish his comments here.     ----Sue)

I was unaware of what has happened until moments ago. Seems like I am about a week late for wishing you all the best. I am sorry that words are inadequate for sending any form of comfort but I know that they can at least help. Your family has been an inspiration in my life. I will always remember when Stu took me to his workshop and showed me his leather working/ drawing studio. He helped me make a leather candle holder for the candle you showed me how to hand dip. Stu made most of the candle holder but he did let me stitch some of it. We used a toxic black dye that burned my nose when I brushed it on. When I was done with it he took the dye from me he said, "Name an animal."
"Okay, an Elephant" I said. I was still confused when he took the dye brush and began to draw squiggly lines on a piece of paper. Thick black marks connected with other thick black marks. My nose burned again and I tried not to breath. Slowly the "S" curve became the trunk and the curved outside lines began to look like ears. He made a few gestures on either side for tusks. With a few simple lines he was able to pull out an elephant with a lumpy head and perplexed looking eyes. I was 9 at the time or perhaps 10. But the important thing is, Stu became in my eyes the man that could do anything he wanted. He was, and is, the bagel baking, leather sewing, Elephant drawing, opinionated Jewish man, that always had good advice. I want to dedicate that memory to him and when you are able to, I want you to tell him that I always think of him as the man that could draw anything. I wish I could do more than I can. God bless (In the most non cliche way possible).

Update 15, June 17

"Wrestling" by Stu Mendelson

Greetings all from the land of Stroke Recovery……….what a strange and unfamiliar landscape!   Hoyer lifts, draw sheets, wheelchairs, hospital beds, and a thousand other new-to-us accommodations.   We are adjusting.  Stu is much more himself these days-----I visit on a daily basis, and have been able to have wonderful talks with him about how to get through this.  With all the upheaval, it is a marvel to me that the core of our relationship is still intact.  Not everyone is so blessed-----I think of the folks coping with dementia, and send up a little prayer for their peace of mind. 

Brief progress report:  He’s eating all three meals now, in the dining room or often, when I’m there, outside on the patio.   I was able to confer with his Care Team yesterday, and they can see a time when the feeding tube can be removed.   They are also developing a weight loss plan------he’s always said he needs some kind of intervention, guess he’s getting itJ   Physical Therapy:  Tex (his pt guy) reports very slow progress-----Stu is uncomfortable in his wheelchair,  complains about pain in his tailbone.  That impedes therapyL   Tex has been using electrical stimulation on  Stu’s left arm and leg, but Stu doesn’t like that feeling.  That impedes therapy, too, since they can’t insist, they can only encourage.   Same story with meds------sometimes Stu will ask for something to help with his anxiety, and they have to honor that request, even though it can dull him to the point where he can’t really do his therapy.  Do you see a pattern?  I do-----once again, the conviction has to come from within Stu.  It’s really very humbling, isn’t it?  This is between God and Stu-----no amount of worrying, struggling, scheming on my part is going to change that.  And yet, an encouraging word from a friend can be more powerful than the electrical stimulation Tex is using-------it’s our way of reminding Stu who he is,  just as the therapy is trying to remind his paralyzed limbs what they’re for.   

Meanwhile, back at  Studabaker’s……..well, June is halfway over, and I have not returned to Grower’s Market.  That has been very hard to accept------in some ways harder than the stroke itself, since I had to wrestle with my own self about it!  Or maybe it’s more like my self wrestling with God…….one good thing about a match with God, though,  what may seem like losing ends up being a win for you.  He’s always right.  Ha!  “Sue, I don’t want you to try to support yourself-----I will pick up the tab.  Rest and trust in me.”  Me:  “What??!!!  What a horrible idea!   I can’t do that… will it work?”   God, big grin:  “You’ll see”    Me:  “You’ve gotta be kidding----nobody lives like that!”  God, gently: “That’s my point.  It’s my great joy to take care of my children, but they so often resist that and depend on their own efforts.   Stick with me.  Trust me.”  I am blessed with a pastor and a wonderful group of women friends who remind me of this truth regularly, and a church that brings God’s promise to life by supporting me.  Wow.  Powerful stuff.  

That’s not to say that I can’t still have some fun with my bakery----after all, the main message of Studabaker’s has always been celebration.   It’s joyful to me to make good food, and joyful to see people enjoy itJ   To that end, I’m planning a Bakery Open House/Barn Sale/ Mid-Summer Celebration here at the house on July 2.   There will be yard sale items, some of Stu’s art, and bagels, cookies, scones, etc.  Free coffee and drinks.  If you want to put in an order, it’ll help me decide what all to bake. 
(I have not stopped baking, by the way-----I still have several small accounts, and take special orders as they come along.   Just no Grower’s Market for the time being)

Hope I will see some of you there!   I’ll keep you posted on times and details.

Finally, Stu and I have started reading the book of Job together in the evening, his request.  If any of you would like to join us and ruminate on what God is saying to us through that book (obviously Stu’s situation gives it some fresh application!)  let me know.    I’m thinking Monday evening, 6:30 might be a good time for a weekly get-together. 

Until next time


Friday, June 10, 2011

Update 14, June 1

Week 1 at Laurel Hill:   Stu's spending more time in his wheelchair now, and eating at all three meals, although his appetite is still so small that they still supplement with tube feedings.  I'm doing what I can to provide some good stuff to eat (you know me:-)  He has, so far, lost a good 50 pounds.  He's looking pretty good!  His color is better, and he's much more alert and present.  Thank Goodness!   He has had several visitors, and that is a huge blessing-----this is a great opportunity for all of us to remind Stu who he is, and that even though these circumstances are not what any of us would choose, there is a choice that he can make, each day, to practice gratitude and choose peace over anxiety.  If you go to see him, don't be shy about voicing that encouragement.  I had the privilege of hearing our good friend Bryan speak about that with Stu yesterday, and today his FNP, Roger Fogg, also spoke very clearly about it.  He's in room 9 (the one with giant photos of Stu and me as kids, and a battalion of greeting cards).   Lunch is at 11:30, Dinner at 5:30-6:00------better not to visit during meals, he needs to concentrate.  I try to be there for either lunch or dinner, but it varies from day to day. 

                    Someone asked me this weekend how I was doing.  I answered in one word:  "Weepy" 
Every time I had to say goodbye to Stu at the nursing home last week, I felt.....weepy.   Every time I thought of him living there full time it seemed so final and long term.  It made me weepy.  Several times people have called recently, unaware of the stroke, and asked if he could re-cover a bible.  I would choke out an answer and get off the phone just in time to be....weepy.  I am not a mournful person by nature, so when I feel consistently weepy, I know something is up.  I think the term for this is GRIEF.  And you know what?  It's important!  One of my all-time favorite books is by C.S Lewis, "A Grief Observed".  I have long been a student of the process, and now I am camped out in its living room!  You know, I have to say, most of us do everything we can to avoid this place, but as I sit here, I think it has a lot to teach me.  There's a tendency to rush the process----but I have a sense that if I let it take its course, I'll find my way to the front door in God's good time, and all the richer for the experience.  So if you run into me, and I happen to be.....weepy.....take a minute and shed a tear with me.  It's good for what ails you.  And I have a feeling our time will end with laughter----I often find myself laughing in the middle of my tears.  Also good for what ails you:-)   Looking forward to whichever way it goes........

Great love and hope,


Update 13, May 23

Greetings, Friends------
            It's been over two weeks at Providence, and that's as much rehab is permitted at this center.   I wish I had a more exciting progress to report, but the truth is this is a long, slow process.   At least Stu can swallow now, and is awake and alert more often.   His list of meds is much shorter.  And he's somehow managed to win over most of the staff with his sense of humor, even though he's often a difficult patient.  (I've watched the nurses trying to check his oxygen levels, which involves clipping a device on his finger and keeping it still.  His right hand is on overdrive, obviously compensating for what the left isn't doing.  I think the word would be "frustrating")  He will be transferred back to Laurel Hills in Grants Pass tomorrow, May 24, same room as before.  9, I think.

          People ask me how I'm doing.  What can I tell you?  Just when it seems quite evident that I should just depair about the whole situation and crawl into a hole somewhere and howl, some bright evidence to the contrary "just happens".   This week it was my neighbors who reminded me.  Our home and bakery sits on six acres, and during this saga not much of the yardwork got done (although I must give a shout out to Shelly across the street, who mowed the main yard several times while we were in Portland and when we got back)   Still, by the middle of last week, if Stu's condition didn't depress me, the state of my yard sure did.   And it kept raining!!   More growth!  No mowing.  Nightmare!  
          On Friday I resolved to take the day off from driving to Medford, and put on my Weed Terminator Gear (black rubber boots, earplugs, noisy trimmer).   I was going to take a stand against the vegetation!  About an hour into my battle, here comes my neighbor Russ:  "Sue, you don't have to do this.  I've been planning to come down and get all this for you, but my weedeater broke.  We've only just replaced it.  I'll be here first thing in the morning and take care of this yard."  That evening I got an email from Shelly across the street "Sue, how early is too early to start mowing your yard?"  And that evening, while talking over my business dilemma with two of my favorite workers (more like angels disguised as young women),  I mentioned my overgrown yard.  Mary, the activist,  piped up and said "I would love to come and pull weeds for you on Sunday afternoon."  And darned if she didn't, and brought reinforcements to boot!  She actually used the word "joyful" to describe the process.  On Saturday, half the battle had been won-----by Sunday, when I came down my driveway after church, (with one more volunteer in the car with me, by the way)  I found a whole posse waging war, without my help!  Wow.  Thank you Russ and Cherie, Shelly, Mary, Tamara, Kory, Lacey, and Caitlin.   During all this, another neighbor stopped in to ask after Stu and me, and yet another neighbor has been providing me with fresh eggs.  It just felt like a neighborhood-wide hug.  Thanks, I needed that. 
            I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  God is good.  He works through people in unexpected ways.  There is reason for hope.  I hang on to this verse with both hands when the going gets tough:

 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Dare I say I'm "Joyful"?  Like Mary?  I think I have to.   I pray you are discovering joy in your trials, too.

From the battlefield (with lots of company!)



Update 12, May 17

this is a video of Rachel doing a cartwheel-----captures her exuberance and joy beautifully:-)
Greetings, Friends------
             I have to admit right up front that this week has been a blur for me.  Writing this will maybe help me get some perspective on it all.  You all remember that on Thursday, my first update had the sad news that Providence was going to send Stu back to Grants Pass because he wasn't responding to the therapy.  Then, later that same morning, I got a call that the team had decided to keep him.  Wow-----the power of prayer comes to mind! 

On Friday (May 13), Stu underwent a test in which the Speech Therapist passed a scope down his nasal passage in order to videotape his swallow.  She asked me to be there for moral support, and I was able to watch on the computer as the video was made.  Who knew??  What a complex action, and we take it for granted!  Once she got the results, she was confident that Stu could start taking some soft food, so since Friday, he has been feasting on mashed potatoes, pureed turkey and gravy, vanilla pudding, and other such delights.  Hey, it's progress.  We'll get some health food
 in there a.s.a.p.:-)

On Saturday, I'm afraid he caused a commotion by somehow managing to fall out of his wheelchair and banging his head.  Oy vey.  The staff was really concerned, and a CT scan was ordered to make sure there was no damage.  Once again, no harm done------this is his third fall!  He has a genius for moving impulsively.  There were friends visiting who got there right after it happened, and I know they were concerned.  Interestingly, it brought Dr. Branch to the hospital unexpectedly, and I had a great talk with him about Stu's case, which wouldn't have happened otherwise.  The rest of the weekend was blessedly uneventful.   Whew.

Every Tuesday morning there is a meeting of the team that works with Stu---this includes Dr. Branch, who is guiding the process, an Occupational Therapist (that involves the hands and upper body), a Physical Therapist (legs and lower body), and Speech Therapist (swallowing and cognition).  It is impressive to watch the combined intelligence and discipline of this team, and how they communicate with each other to minister to the patient.  When you add the nurses and CNA's, the amount of care that Stu is receiving is really phenomenal.   Dr. Branch commented this morning that the report this week is amazingly different than last Tuesday's-----in one short week, Stu's labs are all looking good, his urinary tract infection is cleared up, he's on his way to getting his feeding tube removed, and his spirits are much more gentle.  The staff is all telling me how much they enjoy his personality.  He is pretty funny, I have to say, and tender----although the tendency to lament is still with him.  One CNA, Antonio, told me they sing soul music together at night.  The two of them did a little demo for me while I was there.  I think they should go on the road.  This morning he told Heather, his O.T. that she was a "sweet note in his day", and complimented her on her pretty hair (it did look nice).  All this to say, it's a relief to see the Stu I remember, coming back, impaired though he may be.

He is still paralyzed on his left side (although he does perceive sensation).  He has trouble sitting up and keeping his balance.  He gets tired of being told "Stu, do this", and lets people know in no uncertain terms.  Sometimes nighttime is spooky for him (one nurse told me that in stroke patients this is very common, and there's a term for them----sundowners)   He is not sleeping as much during the daytime as he was in the first few weeks, thank God, and last night I'm told he slept well for 71/2 hours.  But when I asked when the team thought he might be able to get around a bit by himself, they shook their heads and said "Not for a  lo-o-ong time."   So far I am blessed that the medicaid and medicare are covering everything, and Stu qualifies for veteran's benefits, so I started that process this week.  My home church, Lumen Dei, is very supportive, financially, spiritually, emotionally-----I am blessed.  Not to mention the support from so many friends and my faithful family.   But life is never going to be the same, and I have some  hard things to face in the coming months.  I'd appreciate prayer for wisdom about what to do with my business, and where to place Stu when it's time to leave Providence.  Like everything else in this saga, I trust that doors will open exactly when they're supposed to-----and that my greatest strength will be my ability to wait on God.  He is, after all, pretty comprehensive in his provision.  Grin.  Why is that sometimes so hard to appreciate?????

Finally, tonight is my last night with Rachel Jacobson.  What a fast 18 days!  I will put her on a plane to Spokane tomorrow, probably with a few tears of joy that God brought such a beautiful example of young womanhood into my life at this time.  There is hope, folks.  God has planted the next generation richly, I think.  It's an honor to help out with some of the cultivation. 

Many blessings                     


Update 11, May 11

Greetings, All-----
               Stu was transferred to Providence Hospital on Friday.  He's in the Rehab Wing on the 3rd floor, rm. 13.  The staff is phenomenal-------I met with Dr. Branch yesterday, the supervising doctor, and have had reports from all his therapists except speech------I will try to touch base with her today.  There is also a clinical psychologist who has recovered from her own stroke.  She was very helpful yesterday with Stu.  One more psychologist will evaluate him today, a neurological specialist, to determine how much of his behavior is stroke related.  The nurses and cna's are wonderful and caring.  He is in good hands.

Monday was a very difficult day-----the first day of full-on therapy.  By the end of it, when I saw him, he was very angry and frustrated, and tending to lash out at whoever was around him.  It was a little scary for me-----I wondered what would happen if he remained in that condition, and whether he would resist treatment.  I talked it over with Dr. Branch yesterday-----he was very frank about their requirements, and basically said that if Stu doesn't respond well in the next few days, there's really no point in continuing.   I agree with him----and that's a scary thing.  No one wants to watch their loved one stay stuck in stroke limbo.  Ugh.  I know many of you are praying for Stu------pray now that he somehow recognizes this opportunity.  These folks can help him.  He just has to endure the discomfort of it.  It's up to him.   Statistically, the first two months after a stroke are the window of opportunity.   It's already been six weeks with very little improvement.  He still can't swallow, he has no volitional movement on his left side, he can barely sit up, his speech is often get the picture.   He would have to be in a long-term nursing home setting if this didn't work. 

We have some wonderful friends in Medford, and Stu has been getting some strong moral support, esp. yesterday.  I thank God for that, and for the friends in Grants Pass who visited while he was there.  Let's pray he turns the corner. 

On my end of things,  the weekend was a whirlwind, since there was not only the unexpected move to Providence, but also a one-time appearance at Grower's Market.  I have to brag on Rachel Jacobson (my visiting guest from Ohio.  She'll be here til next Wed,) and Tamara Carl, who has been helping me in my bakery for two years.  Those two girls pitched in with the baking during the week, cleaned up the mess,  and just generally worked like champions.  Got up early and helped me set up at the Market with the rest of my team, and then covered for me during the Market as I talked....and talked.....and talked!  with all those concerned customers.  It was a glorious day, and we sold out except for a few cookies.  I guess that front page article in Friday's paper didn't hurt.  And to add to the fun, Matt and Becky came down from Eugene for Mother's Day weekend.  We had a beautiful meal at Rachel and Jerome's home (thank you, Jerome, all three of us mothers enjoyed it immensely!)  The house was full on Saturday night, and my so was my heart.   Still is.   God is good to us.

I will keep you posted!


Update 10, May 5

Greetings All:
            Breaking News:  Stu is scheduled to be admitted at Providence Rehab tomorrow, Friday!   Be praying that he has the stamina for the therapy.  I've heard nothing but good things about their program!
             Grower's Market:  We are doing a one-time stand at the Market on Saturday, so lots of baking today and tomorrow.  I have a great team of helpers, thank God.  I felt a need to connect with all our customers at least once during all this, and will have a scrapbook and pictures, etc.  People love Stu, and I know some of them don't know about the stroke.
             Newspaper coverage:  The Daily Courier found out about our story, and will be putting an article in the paper today or tomorrow.  The photographer is coming over this morning.
             Mother's Day:  Matt and Becky are coming down from Eugene this weekend for Mother's Day!  And we found out this week that they are expecting a little girl!!!!!!   Joy upon joy!
             Houseguest:  On Sunday I welcomed Rachel Jacobson, from Ohio, at the airport.  What a blessing she has been this week, cooking wonderful meals and helping me in the bakery.   Her bright attitude of unselfishness is an amazing witness to me.  Hope some of you get to meet her on Saturday at the Market.   We had planned this visit long before the stroke-----just another example of God's  providence.

As always, thank you all for your beautiful support.  I am so humbled by the outpouring of love that has come our way.   I also think it's interesting the effect that Stu's disablement has had on many of our friends---------they are telling me that they are apprehensive about visiting, but then when they do, they are profoundly blessed, inspired, saddened, thoughtful.  A rich mix of godly emotions.    That has been my experience, also.  Even in his travail, Stu's life is speaking to us.  Maybe especially in his travail.   Maybe that's true for all of us.  "Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance......."  James 1:1   Kinda brings that verse to life, doesn't it?

I'll keep you posted......should be a telling week coming up!


Update 9, April 29

Greetings, SOG Followers (stroke of genius, that is)
         Highlights of the past week:
         Monday: Transfer to Laurel Hills Nursing Facility (took ALL DAY.........aaaaargh!)
        Tuesday:  Transfer to larger room with larger bed at Laurel Hills, because guess what?  He fell out of the one they had him in.  Oy vay.  It was low to the ground, though, with a mat next to it, just in case.  Somehow he managed to roll right out.  No damage, no ER. 
         Wed:  I got to meet Stu's therapists, and started to think maybe we'll actually make some progress.  My favorite is Tex, who actually grew up in New Jersey and Stu recognized instantly as a "lantzman" (fellow Jew).  His real name is something Yiddish that I can't remember that starts with a T-----how it ended up Tex is beyond me.  He does not look like a Tex.  I am hearing  "pupik", "farshtoonkeneh", "meshugeneh",......and a good bit of "kvetching" from Stu.  All kidding aside, I like the way the therapists are taking care of Stu-------I see intelligent touches like a special boot to keep his foot from turning out too far, and they are patient but persistent.
         Thurs.:  I met with the Family Nurse Practitioner I have chosen, to replace the M.D. that was assigned to Stu when we got back to G.P. (who never got in touch with me during the week and half we were at HH)   This man is the first one who has been frank with me about Stu's chances for complete recovery-----he would be surprised if that happened.  And he warned me that this is going to be a lo-o-o-ong haul.  That has been my own gut feeling for a while now, but still the tears welled up.  He was kind enough to say "You need to cry."  And then  "He will never be the husband you had."  Well, he's right.  And I will never be the same wife, either.  And maybe that's a good thing.   I can think of things about both of us that have needed changing for years!!   I appreciated his straightforward approach----and interestingly enough, he got on the phone and contacted Providence Rehab in Medford to see if Stu could be accepted there.  It's looking good----not this week, but possibly the week after.  He is all for doing everything that can be done for Stu, he just doesn't want to make promises.
       Friday:   I met with the caseworker to get paperwork in order for Medicare and Medicaid.  So far so good-----the expenses are being covered.  It's all very bureaucratic, and I am more tired from this than from a big baking day!  Sheesh.  But I'm getting through it.

I want to say a special thanks to all of you who have come to visit Stu, written in his journal, worried about how out-of-it he seemed.  For the first weeks I couldn't tell what was stroke and what was meds-----but it's getting clearer, and I've asked them to hold off on the narcotic that was being used, (with the NP's agreement).   It really helps to have other people looking in on him, I don't always pick up on everything, or understand what I'm seeing.  So, thank you!  Keep it up.  Keep praying.  Lord willing, you will see improvement, and actually get to have a conversation with him:-)

And I have to say what a remarkable experience I am having of help from God's people.  You know who you are.  From the unexpected checks to the neighbor(s) who drove down my driveway and assured me that they'd do whatever yardwork I needed, (and we'd talk about firewood down the line), to the many invitations to lunch and dinner.  You all make my load lighter.  I thank God for you!   I pray with joy for all of us, so blessed to be the family of God!

I'll keep ya posted

Update 8, April 20

Greetings, Friends------
              Last time I wrote, I said that Stu was safely bedded down at Highland House.   Maybe not so much......on Sunday morning, 2 a.m., I got a call that he had fallen out of bed!  Aaaargh------they rushed him to Emergency.  Frankly, I wonder about that name------it seems to take a lo-o-o-o-ng time for anything to happen there.  (Lord willing, true emergencies get faster attention.  Stu had cuts on his face and now has a lovely purple eye, but otherwise was unharmed)  They did a ct scan and found no new damage.  Back to Highland House.......
           Then yesterday at about ten I get another call, the nurse concerned that he seems changed mentally, less able to communicate, and his breathing erratic.  Back to Emergency.  Aaaaargh.   Have I mentioned what happens when they send him there?------he gets much more alert, and pretty darn angry.  It's painful.  His joints hurt right now because they're getting no exercise,  and he's pretty sure that everyone around him is crazy and overreacting.   Oy vay.  He may have a point!-----the doctors could find nothing serious wrong with him, so.......back to Highland House. 
            Needless to say, all this disruption is not helping his therapy.  He is feeling hostile, and I'm guessing defeated.  He sleeps as much as he can------a double edged sword,  since on the one hand sleep is restorative, but too much sleep is a downward spiral.  Aaaaargh.   I am watching all this unfold, and feeling......helpless!     And that is the truth, ultimately I AM helpless.  I can not climb into his body and give him a boost.   None of us can.  Many of you have gone to visit him, and I'm praying that it registers for him how much people value him.   I personally have received SO MUCH encouragement and support, mental, emotional, physical, financial.......a thousand thousand thanks to all of you.  It all helps stem this tide, for me at least.   And as I was praying through the situation this morning, once again I was struck by the mystery of God's plan.   I thought about how Stu's life has always spoken to me, even in his stubbornness, and driven me straight into God's arms.  From some of the entries in the journal I left at Highland House, I believe this situation is affecting others in the same way.  Now isn't that an interesting development?   God is not done telling this story-------I think we all need to stand at attention and stay tuned!   Stu's illness is as much for us as for him!  Keep praying......keep the faith........share the verses that God is bringing to your mind during this time.   May he be lifted up and carried on the ocean of love that is washing over him.  May his own helplessness be to God's glory.

Much love and gratitude


Update 7, April 15

as always, Lucas provides comic relief
Stu's watercolor of birds, with fresh daffodils on the side
Shayna holding her Zaydie's hand

Greetings All-----from Grants Pass, thank God!
             Stu is safely bedded down at Highland House Nursing and Rehabilitation.  I went to see him today after my first good night's sleep in many days (hospitals are NOT restful places------you knew that!)
             Now that he's in a less artificial environment, his impairment is more striking.  His speech is muffled.  His attention span is very short.  He sleeps more than anything.  At least he no longer has the nose feeding tube, and all the other tube-y attachments.  But he's really very sick.
            I sat quietly with him and wondered what to do with someone in this condition.  And it didn't take long for the answer to come--------I pulled out the journal I carry around in my purse, and I started to write.   I wrote about what it's like in his room:  the big drawing pad I brought from home, opened to a beautiful pen and ink sketch of birds, with blue background (his work, of course), the window I cracked open for fresh air, the tv I turned off:-)   I told him about the verse I read out loud to him from Romans 12, about the renewing of our minds.   I prayed in writing.  And if any of you wants to pay him a visit and do the same, I left the journal there.  You are welcome to read what 's already in there, some of it from the first days in Portland.  Please spend a few prayerful minutes with him,  write down your prayer for him, don't be dismayed that he may sleep through the whole visit.  I'm told that there are no set visiting hours.  I plan to be there at least once a day, but the times will vary.   He was able to say that today that he feels like the least of the least------and also that this illness is messy but somehow glorious (he really said that!)  He's in there-------the Holy Spirit is at work in him.    I hope some of you will want to be part of his healing.

Keeping the faith


Update 6, April 13

Got the word today that we'll be released tomorrow morning!  Stu's ambulance ride is all set up, and he will be heading to Highland House Nursing Facility in Grants Pass.  Don't know his room # yet, but visitors will be encouraged!
He has a long road ahead of physical therapy, and as I watched the PT team work with him this  morning here in Portland, I said a special prayer for whoever is assigned to him in GP.  It's gonna
be a challenge-------for both Stu and his therapist(s).  Just sayin'.........

This last night at the hospital will be a celebration of sorts, since I've been contacted by several families I love who are up here for a speech tournament-----held at Imago Dei, the church I attended on Sunday.  Love these connections:-)

Looking forward to seeing everyone again!

If you want to keep being updated on a weekly basis, let me know and I'll put you on my list.  I call it
"God's Stroke of Genius".   Cuz really, it all is.

Blessings from Portland


Update 5, April 11

Found out this morning that the feeding tube will not be placed til tomorrow, due to scheduling issues.  But the Doctor was much more confident than he has been about that being the last hurdle before we're sent home.  Happy sigh.  Of course, we have to get past the slight possibility of complications from the surgery,  so I'm not counting my chickens quite yet.  But it's looking hopeful.  Today, the Physical Therapy team came in and worked hard with him, getting him sitting up on the side of the bed, and also using a lift to place him in a chair so he could sit up for about 45 minutes.  We had a sweetly domestic time of it, me reading all the cards and letters that have been pouring in (they completely line the windowsill at this point!), him making cryptic little comments in response.  He seemed to be impressed with the Physical Therapy ladies, too----"You ladies are remarkable!"  he commented "So determined!----But still so feminine!" 

I also enjoyed last night's short songfest from him.  He sang "I Can't Get No Satisfaction", and "Nobody Knows the Trouble I Seen"  Come on, so appropriate! And as we bedded down for the night (I stayed in his room last night)  I read Matthew 5 out loud for BOTH of us.  Stu nodded enthusiastically and said "So True!"   So heartening that the most vital part of our relationship is still intact.  What a blessing!

Anyway, Lord willing, we will be homeward bound by Wed. or Thurs.......... but I'll keep you posted.  I still have not made a decision about the rehab place he will go to.  I am now leaning towards Grants Pass, since it's where I will be living for at least a little longer (I would love to relocate to Medford or Jacksonville, but not sure  how that will play out yet.  Talking with his caseworker will give me more to go on-----that will be today or tomorrow, also.)

In the meantime, living this day with gratitude and passionate patience
Giant blessing to all of you!

From Portland


Update 4, April 5

Greetings, All———
Can I just say aaaaaaaaarghhhh….? Although the weekend was a blessing, with both daughters here with their husbands, by yesterday, some of Stu’s difficulties took a nasty turn.  He still has a lung infection, he still can’t swallow, and there’s an old wound on his posterior that has flared up and threatens to become infected.  And I got a call this afternoon from one of his Doctors explaining that at this point, since his swallow is not happening, they need to consider installing a more permanent feeding tube.  This does not mean he will never swallow, but since they can’t predict when that will happen, they need to do something more permanent.  It is minor surgery, but does carry normal risks like bleeding and infection.  Sigh.  I authorized the surgery.  This is all new and sobering territory for me——-I appreciate your prayers as I do my best to make wise decisions.
Stu has been transferred to the Kohler Pavilion, 10th floor, room 16——a pretty room with a big window and more comfortable for visitors.  If anyone is in the Portland area and can stop in to see him, I think it would be helpful.  I am grateful for the visitors he has already had, I think it helps him keep in touch with reality——at least to some degree.  Just be prepared for some definite Jewishness:-) He has not lost his touch:-)
On Sunday I hitched a ride with Rachel and Jerome down to G.P.  to gather some supplies and drive my car back up here.  I’m glad I was able to do it, but it also made me come to terms with the fact that I am really sick————I have a rib-cracking cough, and by the end of yesterday, I was totally depleted.
I had to face that I needed a day, at least, of recuperation, so I have not gone to the hospital today.  They say a friend in need is a friend indeed———I must say that Josie Banks has been that kind of friend in a crisis.  She was pretty adamant this morning that I needed to stop trying to “be there” for Stu until I could get over this illness.  God bless her.  I needed to hear that.  I found my way to her house, curled up on the couch, and slept all morning.  It is a much needed sanctuary.
Today as I talked over the feeding tube decision with my daughters, I mentioned that a question that has to crop up is “Where is God in all this?” I have to say, as grisly as some of these realities are, if I stay calm, I am able to see Him.  There is a quote from “Les Miserables” that comes back to me——-we put it on a family Christmas card many years ago “The pupil dilates in the darkness and at last finds light in it…… also does the soul dilate in suffering and at last finds God in it.” He is here.  He works through doctors and nurses and friends and circumstances, and His will is good.  I pray that you all are being somehow blessed by this story that God is telling through us Mendelsons.  I feel your prayers, and so appreciate your encouraging emails.
Blessings from Portland

Update 3, April 1

Update 3, April 1, 2011

Greetings, Friends

It’s been a long week.  I wish I could tell you when we’ll be out of the ICU, but the last word I heard is that Stu needs to be under observation here for at least another 24 hours.  I’m still campaigning for a transfer down to Medford a.s.a.p., but I trust that things
will unfold as they are meant to.
On the bright side, this morning the physical therapy people got him sitting up and responding more than he has so far. He has been very talkative and very STU.  When asked his name he said “Stu”……..when asked his last name he said “big fat Jew”, I am not kidding.  (he finally said “Mendelson”, too)  This man is entertaining even after a stroke.  He smiled for the first time today, and also wrote his name.  He was able to swallow a little better today, a great blessing since he has been very thirsty but they can’t give him fluids because it goes down into his lungs, and he already has pneumonia.  Sigh.  
Both daughters are coming up for the weekend.  It will be good for both of us to see our family.  The grandkids, Shayna, Lucas, and Lily will be good therapy for me, I know.

Thank you all so much for all the prayers and  support.  Stick with me, this will probably be a very long adventure:-)

From Portland,

Update 2, Tuesday, March 29

Greetings, All———

Thank you all so much for the outpouring of support and prayers.  It’s a cushion for my heart to ride this wave———-whew! 
I am getting all kinds of feedback on what happened to Stu, some of it erroneous———let’s straighten this out.  He had a severe stroke on Saturday morning.  I called 911 at about 7:45 am, as soon as I discovered him slumped in his chair, his left side obviously stricken.  The medics were here in minutes,  he was at Three Rivers in minutes,  Certainly help was at hand right away.  It was decided that he should be flown up to Portland for a procedure that would capture the clot and remove or dissolve it.  Unfortunately, by the time we arrived,  the cat scan up here revealed that his right brain had already been damaged enough that the procedure was  considered not effective enough to balance the risk, so they didn’t do it. 
I’m told that this facility is one of the best places in Oregon for stroke patients, so maybe that’s why we’re here.  They are watching him for signs of swelling or new bleeding——-so far, neither has happened.  As the doctor told me, it’s “an absence of bad news”.  I guess I’ll take what I can get:-)
There has been concern that we are isolated up here———-certainly our support system is in Grants Pass and Medford.  But the nurse this morning assured me that at present, visitors for Stu would do him more harm than good (something my intuition was already telling me.)   Matt and Becky were able to be with me over the weekend up here, and plan to come back this weekend.  Rachel and Jerome have been awesome, both on Saturday morning before we left, and as ambassadors, go-fers, stressful-phone call makers, etc. etc. My dear friend Nancy Mafrici drove up with clothing and belongings for me yesterday———-it was good to see her face!  Our friend and neighbor Rich Abblitt was able to visit twice while he was up here, and that has been a comfort as well.  And Josh and Jill Rudzeck have opened their home to me while I’m here.  It is safe and comfortable, they are amazing hosts!   They are unselfishly driving me back and forth from the hospital every day, providing food (better than mine, and that’s saying something!)   Jill has packed lunches for me that make me re-evaluate the meaning of hospitality:-)  And that’s saying something too!   They are an island of solace in a sea of unfamiliarity.  All in all, I feel loved, supported, strengthened, encouraged.   I am at peace in the storm.
It’s too early to give you any progress report.  The nurse assured me that he will likely be in the ICU through the weekend.  There will be more to report when he’s stabilized and moved to the floor.  Until then, it’s a watching and waiting game.  He does seem to know who he is, and some movement has returned to his left side.  There is reason for hope.  He’s pretty cranky when he gets “interfered with”, which is pretty often, so be praying for some heart-rest for him.  I am fighting a killer cold——-had it already on Saturday morning———I am doing my best to pace myself, limit phone calls (my voice is hamburger), and  rest thoroughly when I’m not here at the hospital.  Lots of water, too. 
I am getting my emails and enjoying them———thank every one of you who took the time to write a word of encouragement.  It helps. 
I’ll check in as I’m able.
In His Good Care


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The first update

Update 1, March 27

Greetings, Friends——-

          For those of you who haven’t heard, Stu suffered a serious stroke yesterday morning.  I am writing this from OHSU in Portland.  We were flown here by Mercy flights yesterday, in hopes that a procedure could be done to dissolve the blood clot, but when we arrived the Cat scan up here showed that the right brain was already too damaged, and it would be too risky to do it.

There is not much to report right now, but I wanted you all to be aware of what’s happened, and keep us in your prayers!  I will check in as I’m able———Stu is lucid, his memory seems to be there (with some understandable gaps), but his left side is, so far, non functional.  

Unfortunately, this came on top of a bad bronchial cold for both of us———-I’m  limiting phone conversations for myself because I keep coughing!   Aaaargh!  

Rachel and Jerome were there in GP to help us through the initial hours, and Matt and
Becky drove up from Eugene to spend the night with me last night.  Thank God!   

I’ll keep you posted