Dad’s final sermon delivered at Hope Community Church, Nelson on 9th September 2011
Author Archives: Simeon Duncan
A service of thanksgiving to God and celebration of Doug’s life will be held at Hope Community Church, Ranzau Road, Hope, Nelson, New Zealand at 14:00 – 17:00 on Tuesday, 11 October.
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Take Highway 6 south from Richmond 4 kms, Turn right into Ranzau Rd, 1km on left is Hope Community Church.
Take Highway 6 north toward Richmond. Turn left into Ranzau Rd, 1km on left is Hope Community Church.
Take Highway 60 towards Richmond. Turn right into either Bartlett Rd or Pughs Rd. Turn left into Ranzau Rd. Hope Community Church is on your right
In Greek mythology, the hero Hercules had to wade into a murky swamp to slay the serpent Hydra. The problem facing Hercules was that every time he cut the head off Hydra, two more heads grew in its place.
Hercules battle against the many-headed Hydra reminds me of Mum and Dad’s battle against cancer. No sooner does he seem to have gained a victory in one part of their fight than two more heads spring up to attack them.
Recent news from Mum and Dad about his health celebrated the reduction in fluid build-up around his ankles and legs allowing for greater mobility for Dad. A minor victory.
Last night however, Hyrda seems to have struck back in the battle. Dad had a lot of pain and was attended to at home by nurses from the Hospice. In the morning, despite additional doses of morphine, Dad’s discomfort hadn’t subsided. He was taken by ambulance to receive additional care and attention at Hospice.
Initial reports from the staff do not appear to be hopeful.
A special note on Mum
Her care for Dad during his long battle with cancer (first diagnosed in September 2008) has been nothing short of Herculean. Together with Dad, she has been constantly cutting the heads off the Hyrda, never failing or giving up in the task. Although it seems to be a losing battle, with the help of our Saviour and ever-loving heavenly Father, she has been writing ‘victory’ over this battle on Dad’s life.
How firm a foundation by John Rippon
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
There’s more drama in Mum and Dad’s life than that in a marathon of amateur Shakespeare recitals!
The last blog post had doctors diagnosing the cause of all the bleeding he’d been having.Â Much blood has dripped down the drain since then.
He underwent a procedure on Wednesday afternoon to cauterize the wounds in his bowel and to stitch up a leaking
hepatic mesenteric artery. Following a dose of fresh blood, Dad’s color and character returned, slowly, but he did improve.
Dad was discharged around midday on Thursday from hospital. I went and picked him up and on his way home he (or the morphine) wondered out loud where we should go for lunch. When Dad is told that he can “go home” what he hears is: “you’re good to go”.
In spite of Mum’s and my strong suggestions that given he’d lost around 3.5 liters of blood since the weekend, he really should just put his feet up and rest – he didn’t. Well he tried, but resting isn’t in his nature. If he’s still ‘above ground’ and there’s work to be done, he sets about to get it done.
This morning over breakfast he told me he’d lost some more blood during the night. To say that was disappointing news to hear is an understatement. We were all so hopeful that Wednesday’s procedure would be ‘it’ for a while. While I was finishing my morning coffee and he was having his potions and elixirs, the plaintiveÂ call of “Doug” came from the bathroom. Mum had had one of her turns and this time she was the patient and Dad was the nurse.
Shortly after lunch, Dad checked his colostomy bag to find that there was more blood and that there was a constant drip into the bag. Mum and I decided that we wouldn’t muck around and we’d just get him to the hospital to get him looked at (actually ‘treated’ is a different matter). While I was helping Dad get his stuff together, Mum called St Johns Ambulance for advice. They told us to wait there, they were sending some Ambos round.
While the St John’s boys were prepping Dad for the trip to hospital, Mum had another of her turns and they looked at her and decided that they should take her as well. Sweet, I thought, a quiet afternoon for me. Being the father of three young kids, I realize that an ambulance house call is not a crisis moment – it’s a Kodak moment! I got my camera out and snapped away. If only I’d had the foresight to grab the video camera I might have been able to engineer an entry to Funniest Home Videos. ‘Always be prepared’ and all that. Alas, I’m no boy scout.
With the afternoon with the parents out of the house, I set about trying to organize some of Dad’s files. No sooner had I written my siblings out of the Will than I got a phone call from Dad to say that I could come and pick them up. To say that was disappointing news to hear is an understatement – I hadn’t chucked a ‘save’ the corrected document yet!
There’s possibly a more accurate version of events, but I can only call them as I see them. Perhaps Dad will give you his perspective when he’s feeling a little better.
‘Till next timeâ€¦ Sim.
Dad had a gastroscopy and colonoscopy yesterday. The gastroscopy came back ‘clear’ in the sense that it didn’t detect any bleeding and therefore didn’t detect a cause for the bleeding either.
The colonoscopy showed that the first (or is it last?) 8 inches of his bowel (before exiting his stoma) to be the cause of his ongoing bleeding. He’s having an operation this afternoon (NZ time) to cauterize the length of bowel that is causing the bleeding. Apparently that’ll be quite painful, but I’m guessing that the morphine he’s on will help mask some of the discomfort.
If the cauterizing doesn’t work they’ll have to look at cutting that bit of the bowel out and relocating (actually re-creating) his stoma elsewhere (Leave your suggestions in the comments section below). Apparently this would be quite a ‘process’ and involve other complications.
Dad found out the cost of each unit of blood and worked out that he’s had many thousands of dollars worth of blood this year. He expects that the doctors will be pretty keen to stop all that blood money going – literally – down the drain. I suggested that he was now a drain on society.
Having not seen Dad for six months, I wondered if I’d be shocked when I saw him. No I wasn’t, but by the same token, I’m not sure what it would have taken to shock me. If he’d been playing his trombone while riding a unicycle – THEN I would have been shocked.
Entering the hospital room and making the sign of the cross probably wasn’t the best, most thoughtful greeting I could have given him! You live, you learn (or in my case, 1 out of 2 ain’t bad).