IMG_1162We got the results from Alex’s MRI yesterday. The doctor said the problem cannot be fixed with pain management treatment and he referred us to an orthopedic spine surgeon in Portland. A few years ago we both thought we couldn’t bear to go through back surgery again, but yesterday we felt relieved and happy when we were told there is a surgical solution.

We know from experience that back surgery is painful and the recovery is a long and difficult process. Even so, we are counting our blessings today because we believe he will get better. My heart goes out to those of you who have been told, “There is no cure.”

It’s incredibly difficult to see someone you love suffer. It’s painful to accept that the things you have enjoyed in the past may stay in the past. The process of adjusting to ongoing losses may be one of the most difficult aspects of caregiving. It’s also difficult to learn to ask for and accept help.

At exercise class yesterday morning, my friend Mary told me about her friends John and Catherine. John just turned 80. Catherine is 75. Until four weeks ago when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, they were enjoying an active and happy life together.

After receiving the diagnosis, John was put on aggressive chemotherapy, which ended up burning him from the inside out. He is now on a feeding tube and is undergoing skin grafts on his arm.

Mary went to visit, and when she asked if there was anything she could do to help, Catherine said, “Yes! Could you please take John’s hearing aids to Costco to get fixed?”

Mary was thrilled to be able to do something useful. Catherine was relieved to find a solution to problem. Four weeks ago she would have fit a trip to Costco in between other errands. Now it’s impossible to leave John at home alone.

Sometimes we get lucky, and relief comes in the form of a treatment that cures an illness or stops the pain. Sometimes we find relief in the form of physical or emotional support from people who care about us.

My hope for you is that you will seek and find whatever form of relief you need today.