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Accepting a Painful Reality

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2024 2:22 pm

Accepting a Painful Reality

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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March 1, 2024 2:22 pm

For several years, Pat Montague has produced my broadcast, Hope for the Caregiver.  I recently talked with her about her own journey as a caregiver.

“I have learned that leaning on the Lord for whatever he has in store is much more comfortable than resisting, fighting, and railing against what I don't like.

I would have not chosen amputation for my husband, I'll be honest. He had other options that he could have taken, but he was astounded when he made that decision.I didn't agree with it at the time. Now I certainly do.

But leaning into the Lord and saying, Father, whatever you have, I will submit myself to it.

Being willing to do that makes a huge difference in how things come out because they're not the same thing.

You can rail and fight, and you're not going to change your perspective.

You're not going to change your circumstances for any amount of money.

And so yielding and just saying, Lord, have your way and help me to accept it have been huge lessons for me.

And it has not come easy because, yes, I've always known I had that part of my personality that I was willing to go toe-to-toe when I knew I was right.”

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This is Peter Rosenberger and one of the reasons I wrote my new book A Minute for Caregivers is because I remember the sinking, despairing feeling of struggling as a caregiver. No one knew what to say to me. I didn't understand and others didn't understand me.

For decades I foraged along and tried to find my path through this medical nightmare that Gracie and I have endured for nearly 40 years. And I've learned to speak the language of caregivers. I speak fluent caregiver. No pastor, no counselor, no medical provider, no friend should ever throw their hands up and say I don't know what to say to that caregiver.

Because I do. Give them a copy. This book is called A Minute for Caregivers when every day feels like Monday. They're easy to read, one minute chapters that speak directly to the heart of a caregiver and you can get them wherever books are sold. A Minute for Caregivers when every day feels like Monday.

Friends don't let friends caregiver alone. Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver here on American Family Radio. This is Peter Rosenberger, Hopeforthecaregiver.com, Hopeforthecaregiver.com. I want to introduce you to someone who's been a part of this program for some time.

You just didn't know it. And this is Pat Montague. She is our producer. And she's in Mississippi. I'm in Montana. And you are wherever you are.

So we're all scattered across the fruited plains. And I am thrilled to have Pat talk about her journey as a caregiver, her journey with this program. And she is helping me shape this and take this message. And she serves as a great sounding board. So I thought we'll take a little bit of time to let her address you all, talk to you guys, and you get to know her a little bit more. Like I have had the privilege of doing so.

So Pat, welcome to the program. How are you feeling? Thank you. I'm feeling pretty good. Feeling pretty good.

Given the year that you've had, that's a good statement for you to make, isn't it? Absolutely. Absolutely. We have had, it feels like trial by fire. I think that's what it always feels like.

I think trial by flame thrower, in your case. Absolutely. But you know, when you get on the other side of the big crisis, it's easy to, when you're looking for them, to look back and see so many kindnesses of the Lord as he literally prepared our path, without our knowing it, to walk this walk. And when you can look back and see that, it is sweet. Even though it was terrifying, and it still is, because we're not out of the woods completely, being able to find those Ebenezers along the way where the Lord showed up, made his presence known, and you didn't even realize it until you were already, you know, way down the road, to be able to stop and go, thank you, Father. It's a pretty big blessing in itself. Well, give us some context to this, because these particular woods that you're talking about, they're not going to end anytime soon. No, no.

But there are bright spots. What happened? Early spring of last year, so April-ish, my husband began not feeling well, just generally not feeling well. And he went to his doctor, and she, in my opinion, did not take it seriously enough. But she prescribed this and that and the other, and so sent him home. And I, within a couple weeks, sent him back and said, you need to have her test for this particular bacteria in your stomach, because he could not eat. It was as if everything he put on his stomach would upset it, or cause pain.

And so, they laughed him off at first. They said, if you have that, it's going to be really hard to get rid of, so we are not going to worry about it. And I finally said, oh yes, you are.

You are going to worry about it. We want the test. And it was a simple blood test for H. pylori bacteria.

So they did that, finally, and it came back with a raging result. So they put him on three different types of antibiotics, very, very strong. And instead of getting better, he just continued to get worse. More malaise, loss of strength.

Now, at this point, he's lost about 20 pounds, beyond what he had set out to lose at the beginning of the year. And so, he would call back to his doctor's office with the idea of making an appointment. They'd ask what's going on.

He would tell them. They would switch him to the nurse, and the nurse would say, okay, well, let's cut back on this, and let's increase that, and call me back in a week. So we went about three weeks like that. That's why they call it practicing medicine. Apparently. It just got worse and worse and worse, to the point that, I mean, it was all he could do to stand and walk to the bathroom, and walk back to the bed.

He just did not have anything to give for anything. So, long story short, I finally said, okay, we're going to the doctor today, and we're going to sit in the waiting room until they see you. And I don't care if we're there for 24 hours, somebody's going to see you. And we did that. We sat for probably a couple, three hours waiting to be worked in. They finally got him into the lab, drew blood, told us to go home after we had consulted with a nurse practitioner for about an hour, told us to go home, make these dietary changes, do this, continue on this med, and we'll see you in a week. So we made the appointment to follow up, went home, and one o'clock the following morning, the phone rings, and my husband wears hearing aids, so he did not have them in to sleep. And he handed the phone off to me to say, listen to this, I don't know what they're talking about. And the doctor had left a voice mail, and basically it was the doctor in Memphis who reviewed this blood result. He said, I need you to get to an emergency room now, or come to Memphis to the VA emergency room because you are, your blood is extremely low, and we have got to get some blood in you.

So that's a fine wake up call at one in the morning, isn't it? John was, he was totally, what's the right word, annoyed, and he said, I'll deal with it in the morning, I'm going back to bed. So the next morning I got up, came to work, he got up and went, was going to his doctor's office to say, listen to this and tell me what this means. And before he could even get out of the truck, they were watching for him, they'd seen the results, and they, and she called him and said, John, don't even get out of the car, go get a bag put together, grab your wife and go to Memphis to the ER.

So that's what we did. He walked into the ER on his own, and that's the last time he's ever walked by himself. The results of the blood had said he was like three quarts low, so to speak. Um, they started a blood infusion immediately. He had two in the ER, they admitted him, had another one in the room. So he had three pints of blood and they started testing because he was still having pain in his stomach. All of his, uh, systems were completely doing backwards things.

Nothing was working the way it should. So they started trying to stabilize him, figure out what was going on, and nobody paid any attention to this little lump that he had in his thigh. We had not paid any attention to it because it had not been painful. We were more concerned with the blood. Well, as it turns out, again, long story short, the lump in his thigh turned out to be a sarcoma, a very aggressive, rare type of sarcoma that was actually responsible for the blood loss. Because as the sarcoma was growing, it was both feeding off of his tissue and feeding off of his blood. And around the head of the sarcoma, when they finally scanned it, they found where that area was bleeding. And according to what we were told as it would enlarge with the blood seeping, then the tissues around the tumor would absorb that blood over the course of a few days.

Then the size would go back down a bit and then it would allow it to bleed again. So the tumor itself was allowing bleeding and then cutting off the bleeding and then allowing it again. The reason I mentioned the H. pylori is because we have since done some research and talked with some other medical professionals. And in the case of aggressive cancers, very often they are finding that the bacteria H. pylori has been present previously. And in treating that H. pylori, because it is so hard to treat, the immune system of the patient is suppressed to the point that it actually enables the tumor to take off like a rocket. And then as those antibiotics are being tapered off from the system and they're getting out of the system when you finish that course, now your immune system is trying to fight back and attack this foreign invader, which is the sarcoma. And very often that is when the patient begins to see difficulties, begins to have various symptoms.

And it is often postponing the ability of a medical professional to actually diagnose what the major problem is. So by that time they actually started looking at it seriously, referred us to a cancer specialist that is outside of the hospital because they suspected it was in the bone. It had grown such a large amount that, again long story short, he wound up having to have his entire leg amputated. And when you say entire leg, being that Gracie and I are certainly familiar with amputations and everything that we do with Staining with Hope, this is what you call a hip disarticulation.

Correct. And it is all the way up to the hip. So it's not just a leg amputated. It's almost like a double amputation.

It is. It is the most challenging lower limb amputation you can have. And a prosthesis is very difficult for patients like John.

Yes, extremely. In fact, so difficult that at this point he has decided not to pursue getting a prosthesis. We made that decision, I should say he made that decision after his second follow-up with his surgeon.

And he just was very honest and said, I'm not saying you shouldn't do it. However, I have only seen about 2% of patients with your type of amputation who were able to use a prosthetic and only part of the time. And he said that the reason that is, is because in order to make it functional for walking, it is extremely difficult to sit in. To make it comfortable to sit in, it's not as functional when you're trying to walk with it.

And walking with it is absolutely the point of it. So at this point, he is not even going to pursue having a prosthetic. We're talking with producer of this program, Pat Montague, and she is telling her journey, and I think you've picked up that Pat's a fighter, she's an advocate, and had she not stepped up, John would not be alive today. And we're going to talk a little bit more about her courage, her strength, her stamina, and where it comes from when we come back. This is Peter Rosenberger, this is Hope for the Caregiver.

We'll be right back. I'll never forget walking into the hospital room after Gracie had her second amputation. Both legs are gone now. And she looked at me, she said, I know what I'm going to do.

And I was kind of startled. I said, well, what are you going to do? She said, I'm going to help provide prosthetic limbs to my fellow amputees and tell them about Jesus. And I said, well, baby, can we get out of the hospital first?

But she never let it go. And for almost 20 years, we've been working out of Ghana, West Africa. We treat patients all over there from other countries that come there. We send supplies, we send teams, we sponsor patients. We work with a prison where inmates volunteer to disassemble used prosthetic limbs so we can recycle the parts.

All of this because Gracie trusted God with her heartache. Would you help us do it? Statingwithhope.com slash giving. Statingwithhope.com slash giving.

There's prosthetic feet, knees, pylons, sleeves, adapters, all kinds of connectors. All of these things we are sending over there so that people can walk. We're going to point them to Christ.

Help us out. Statingwithhope.com slash giving. Welcome back to Hope from the Caregiver. This is Peter Rosenberg and we're talking with Pat Montague. She is the producer of this program. She has been helping me shape this program from all the way across the country. She's out of Mississippi at the headquarters of AFA, American Family Association, and I'm out here in Montana. She has helped guide this program and whether you realize it or not, she's been such a big part of it.

She and I have regular conferences every week to go over stuff, to bang things around and ideas around. Then she found herself in the midst of this tremendous crisis with her husband. Pat has been taking care of her sister with issues that she's had and she thought, well, this show is helpful to be in that.

Then she was thrown head first into a situation that is going to have long-term implications for her and her family for the rest of their lives. As her husband has dealt with cancer, he lost his leg all the way to the hip. Wearing a prosthesis right now is just not feasible. A hip disarticulation prosthesis is very hard to navigate with and do. They can do them. We've done two in Ghana. We did the first one in Ghana, from what I understand, with Standing With Hope, but that was on a young man who had nothing else going on other than this leg. He didn't have cancer issues. It was from a trauma. John's situation is much different, Pat. As you have now spent months and months into this, you're seeing that.

I got to tell you, I was really impressed by how much of a tiger you were to go after this. Pat is not a large lady, you all. She's a very diminutive person. To have this energy coming out of her where she was ready to just throw down, just tear it off the gloves and throw them on the ground. She's ready to go after these people.

It's rather stark if you ever met her because you wouldn't see this side of her until, evidently, you really get her hackles up and then she goes after you like a pit bull. I'm really quite awed by what you've done because you saved his life. Well, I think the Lord intervened. Had we not gotten the kind of attention we did by the kind of doctor we did, we probably would be talking about a whole different outcome. Again, the kindnesses of the Lord, you have to be able to look for those, recognize them, and be grateful. We were talking the other day as we were coming back from having some dinner out. He said, we have so many things to be grateful for and thankful for. None of them had anything to do with our ability. They had everything to do with the Lord and his timing and his persistence of speaking to us through the Holy Spirit.

I can't say that enough. We found out when we went for the last checkup with the cancer bone doctor that they took the ball of the leg that fits into the hip socket. They took that as well. They took anything that had any connection with that sarcoma. By the time they got it, it had begun to penetrate the bone.

Now we have scans that we do every three months looking for any sign of spreading or reappearing somewhere else. How do you handle that when you go to those tests? Is your heart in your throat kind of thing? Sometimes.

How do you do it? Especially that very first one. That very first one we went to in December of last year. Yeah, my heart stayed in my throat nearly the whole time until we got the word that he was all clear. We knew it did not appear to have gotten into his lymph nodes. It had, as doctor said, just penetrated the bone through the sheathing. So he was very optimistic that taking what he did would create a situation where he would have no more cancer in his body if it had not already migrated. So that's what we're watching for now to make sure that it had not migrated anywhere else. Statistics say there's a 40% chance that it will reappear either in his lungs or somewhere else.

That's the reason why every three months we're getting all these scans to make sure that we're on top of that. As you look forward in your life, I mean this is a long journey. You're no longer in a sprint.

This is not a speed bump. This is your life now. And you know this. What are some things that you're seeing change in you? Whether it's your understanding of God's provision, your prayer life. Did you know that you were this kind of a fighter? Did you know that you had this in you?

What are some things that you've seen in you? Well, I have learned that leaning on the Lord for whatever He has in store is much more comfortable than resisting and fighting and railing against what I don't like. I would have not chosen amputation for my husband.

I'll be honest. He had other options that he could have taken, but he said, take the leg. I was astounded when he made that decision. I didn't agree with it at the time.

Now I certainly do. But leaning into the Lord and saying, Father, whatever you have, I will submit myself to it. And then being willing to do that, because they're not the same thing, makes a huge difference in the way things come out. You can rail and fight, and you are not going to change your perspective.

You're not going to change your circumstance for any amount of money. And so yielding and just saying, Lord, have your way and help me to accept it have been huge lessons for me. And it has not come easy because, yes, I've always known I had that part of my personality that I was willing to go toe to toe when I knew I was right. Did John know that?

Oh, yes. Yes, he knew that. Did John know that you... He very well knew that. I didn't know if he was familiar with that part of you that... Well next month we'll be married 46 years. So yeah, he kind of had an idea.

He had a sneaking suspicion that his life was a bit fiery at times. Well, it came into play and I get that. I mean, I think there's a point where it's exhausting to strive against reality. Absolutely. And here we are. We're okay. And you and I both understand a journey that a lot of people don't.

We both have had spouses who chose to have their bodies altered with amputation. And it is a hard to describe experience unless you've been there, of what that's like. And so here you are. But at the same time, you have shown remarkable resilience, faith. You have leaned into Christ through this thing and trusted him with the unimaginable. And it's really quite moving that you are at the helm of producing this program to me, to know that I've got somebody who is helping prepare this message and this broadcast every week who understands this. And what are your hopes for caregivers as you've moved forward in this program and what we're doing through AFR and everything else? What are your hopes as we close out this time? What do you want to see the impact of this program that you are producing?

What do you want to see? I don't fool myself into thinking that everybody who listens to this program knows Christ. I will say that if that's the case for you as an individual, that you are not leaning on God and you are not letting Christ be the head of your situation, that would be my first hope that you would recognize your need of him and submit yourself for his salvation and healing of your soul. Because only through that do you really understand so many things about where you are right now. Beyond that, I would like to see people who find themselves in this position be able to immediately embrace what they're being told, not fight, not rail. Because you made the statement several programs ago, several months ago, that the struggle is in the non-acceptance. I probably don't have that right, but basically it becomes more difficult when we fight against it. Paul, the Apostle Paul, said, Kick it against the brick. Exactly.

It is. It's refusing to accept reality. We want to shape it to our own desires because we just don't like this, rather than trust him with it. We are mortal beings.

We have no ability to shape our reality, despite what the culture tells us. And being able to lean on the best source of hope, which is Christ, through something like this is absolutely... I couldn't have done it otherwise. I would have been a puddle on the floor and not been any worth to John or anyone else, let alone myself. So yeah, I would pray that they would have such a hunger to know more of Christ, that nothing else would matter, even the situation they're in.

Put Christ first. Well said. Now you understand why I had her on the program and why I'm so grateful that she is producing this program. This is Pat Montague.

She is one of us, but she is doing something about it and she is helping me better do what I do here. And we're carrying this message out with the great assistance of American Family Radio. We're going on the offense to reach into the isolation and the heartache that caregivers feel. We take our own wounds, but we let our scars speak. We let our trust in God. We've seen him, as she said, we raise our Ebenezer.

These are things that mean something to others who are going through this. And I want you to know, Pat, I appreciate you taking the time to do this on the program today and share your heart. And we'll have many more conversations, I'm sure. And by the way, don't think for one moment that Pat doesn't turn that fiery stuff on me too, because she'll say, no, we're not going to do that. She'll do it too. And I'm grateful for her. Listen, we've got to go.

This is Peter Rosenberger. This is Hope for the Caregiver. Hopeforthecaregiver.com. Thank you again, Pat, for being a part of the program. My pleasure. We'll see you all next time.

Bye. You've heard me talk about Standing with Hope over the years. This is the prosthetic limb ministry that Gracie envisioned after losing both of her legs. Part of that outreach is our prosthetic limb recycling program. Did you know that prosthetic limbs can be recycled?

No kidding. There is a correctional facility in Arizona that helps us recycle prosthetic limbs. And this facility is run by a group out of Nashville called CoreCivic. We met them over 11 years ago, and they stepped in to help us with this recycling program of taking prostheses and you disassemble them. You take the knee, the foot, the pylon, the tube clamps, the adapters, the screws, the liners, the prosthetic socks, all these things we can reuse, and inmates help us do it. Before CoreCivic came along, I was sitting on the floor at our house or out in the garage when we lived in Nashville, and I had tools everywhere, limbs everywhere, and feet, boxes of them, so forth. And I was doing all this myself, and I'd make the kids help me.

And it got to be too much for me. And so I was very grateful that CoreCivic stepped up and said, look, we are always looking for faith-based programs that are interesting and that give inmates a sense of satisfaction. And we'd love to be a part of this.

And that's what they're doing. And you can see more about that at standingwithhope.com slash recycle. So please help us get the word out that we do recycle prosthetic limbs. We do arms as well, but the majority of amputations are lower limb.

And that's where the focus of Standing With Hope is. That's where Gracie's life is with her lower limb prostheses. And she's used some of her own limbs in this outreach that she's recycled. I mean, she's been an amputee for over 30 years.

So you go through a lot of legs and parts and other types of materials and you can reuse prosthetic socks and liners if they're in good shape. All of this helps give the gift that keeps on walking. And it goes to this prison in Arizona where it's such an extraordinary ministry.

Think with that. Inmates volunteering for this. They want to do it.

And they've had amazing times with it. And I've had very moving conversations with the inmates that work in this program. And you can see, again, all of that at standingwithhope.com slash recycle. They're putting together a big shipment right now for us to ship over. We do this pretty regularly throughout the year as inventory rises and they need it badly in Ghana. So please go out to standingwithhope.com slash recycle and get the word out and help us do more. If you want to offset some of the shipping, you can always go to the giving page and be a part of what we're doing there.

We're purchasing material in Ghana that they have to use that can't be recycled. We're shipping over stuff that can be. And we're doing all of this to lift others up and to point them to Christ. And that's the whole purpose of everything that we do. And that is why Gracie and I continue to be standing with hope. standingwithhope.com.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-02 12:34:32 / 2024-03-02 12:45:19 / 11

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