As the summer winds down the activity level in our household is ramping up. Back-to-school shopping, garage storage reorganizing and car decorating are all indicators that Max and Olivia are ready for the new school year. Olivia headed off today for her first day of her Senior year with a giant smile on her face. Max is dutifully organizing his boxes of college gear and getting packed up for his return to Point Loma on Sunday. Wilson is busy keeping in tip-top physical condition with his daily workout regimen and ruck-marches and with Rolf at work that leaves me to hold down the fort at home. I have slowed down to a literal standstill making my fear of missing out escalate to an all-time high. Just this morning, for example, Rolf and Olivia went out to take the traditional first-day-of-school pictures and it was so hard for me to not be out in the middle of it. The family has their full days of activity, constantly coming and going (as they should and as I want them to)…I watch them come and go with a deep longing to be a part of the action. Unfortunately this is the new normal and I better figure out a way to be at peace with it before it drives me stark mad.
A few months ago I mentioned that I got a speech-generating device. One of my frustrations has been the lack of technical support I received from the company. My speech pathologist encouraged me to work with the technology before I actually needed it but the company rep with whom I was supposed to train was never available. ‘Turns out, it’s all a moot point after all because I lost use of my hands and my ability to communicate effectively at the same time. As a result I am now in the process of getting eye gaze hardware installed in the unit. It is very intuitive and easy to use and will be a game-changer for me in my ability to communicate my needs so please pray for a speedy response from insurance and all the powers-that-be. I really would love to have this resource while I can still move my eyes. So much of this process has been trying to get ahead of and prepare for an unpredictable disease which is particularly difficult when you’re also trying to conserve your energy for things that really matter. If only we had a crystal ball. Ha Ha!
Speaking of technology…we pulled out Rudy’s old iPad a couple of weeks ago to do some streaming on an old TV and were delighted to discover a video he recorded on our road trip along Route 66 the day before he passed away…Technology is amazing!
The Kansas Wilsons including my mom and brother’s family arrived in Goleta last week just in time to celebrate America’s Birthday California-style. Their 3 1/2 day visit included lots of beach time, pool time and yummy Mexican food. I enjoyed getting to know my two new nephews-in-law a bit and watching my kids soak up quality cousin fun. They may be all grown up but they still play hard. 🙂 Time with loved ones is never long enough but we made the most of it, for sure.
Thank you for your prayers. My g-tube placement last Thursday went smoothly…Rolf and I arrived at the hospital at 10am and were out by 2pm. Unfortunately, my recovery at home was stressful due to a combination of me feeling particularly vulnerable & paranoid, the unexpected (last minute) demand on the whole family to care for me and emotional exhaustion in general. I can’t say I’m experiencing PTSD, per se, but I’m definitely feeling a certain level of post-traumatic stress in this most recent lifestyle change because we are not just adding to my daily care regimen but reinstating a well-worn routine that comes with a flood of memories of our boy. I’ve just been so sad and weepy and impatient and _________ (you name it, I’m probably feeling it). I’m praying all this emotion is just part of the adjustment process and won’t linger too long because it’s heavy and exhausting.
In addition, I’m praying the supplemental nutrition I’m able to get through the g-tube will make me feel healthier and stronger physically. I can still eat by mouth but I’m limited to soft foods (‘been eating lots of pasta and mashed potatoes lately!) and I usually stop eating not because I’m full but because I’m tired. I certainly haven’t had a full or balanced diet lately so there is lots of room for improvement! Hopefully we’ll see a notable difference.
As the struggle intensifies, you need to know that the encouragement that comes our way through your messages & gifts and special memory-making moments becomes sweeter, for sure. Thank you all for the encouragement and your ongoing prayer. It indeed uplifts and sustains! 🙂
God is very good to me. Life may be kicking my butt but God is good and I have a remarkable story that illustrates this beautifully:
A good friend of mine from our former church in L.A. invited me to a prayer and worship service last Thursday night. To be honest, I didn’t want to go. As much as I love this dear community of friends, I just wasn’t sure I had the emotional energy to see them…many of whom I haven’t seen since my decline. So, I sat on the invitation for a few days and in that time published my last post. As I composed & edited the post and put the struggle into words, I decided I really should take advantage of Pammy’s invitation regardless of my reservations because I knew the experience would help calibrate my perspective and bring healing. In addition, the kids were willing to drive me down which sweetened the pot even more! 😉
Olivia was 4, Max 8 and Wilson 10 when we moved from L.A. to Santa Barbara so it was a little freaky for the boys to be back at Christian Assembly – they remembered everything being much bigger back in the day. Ha! Although we’ve been gone for twelve years, it only took one step past the threshold of the church before I began to run into friends…by the time we got settled in the sanctuary, our posse numbered 12+. The 7 years we attended CA were formative for our young family. I was part of a small mom’s prayer group that was very special and I became deeply invested in the spiritual nurturing of all our little ones. Now these kids are grown and many of them were present Thursday night praying fervently for ME…how precious is THAT!
The highlight of the evening for me came after an organized time of prayer for spiritual, emotional and physical healing…a large group gathered around me including Wilson, Max and Olivia. As I looked down at my kids praying, I was overcome with a strong sense that they should be prayed over but I was sobbing and couldn’t do it so I motioned to my friends Pam, Robin and Kathy to pray for them. I just sat there and sobbed and, quite unexpectedly, felt led to pray prayers of anointing over the kids myself even though I couldn’t articulate the words. I motioned to Kathy to help me place my hand on Olivia’s head and then the boys’ and through my tears I prayed the prayers of my heart that came out as unintelligible sounds and groans. I wish my description could do the experience justice…it was such a precious, “full circle” picture of community, friendship and love. God met me in that moment and reassured me that He has my children in the palm of His hands. Something my heart needed to be reassured of, I guess.
My prayers? Well, for Olivia, I prayed that her heart will be protected. She has been and will continue to be on the front lines of my struggle and I pray her faith fuels her strength. For Max, I prayed he will be sensitive to and empowered by God’s spirit as he grows in his gift to lead others (in worship especially) but also in life in general. And for Wilson, I prayed he will be a bold beacon of God’s grace and truth and JOY in the many contexts he will find himself in this transitional season from youth group leader to military officer. For all three, I prayed that the tough stuff will not leave emotional scars but will deepen and inform their compassion.
As for me, God used the evening to remind me to trust my instincts. I am in a frightening and frustrating process as expressed in my last post. It is easy to feel lost in the increasingly unfamiliar space I find myself in and (although I appreciate the professional resources available to me) my best defense against losing myself in the chaos is listening to and trusting my gut…an important insight for both me and Rolf because we are DIYers at heart, always have been, from Rolf’s building projects to the way I managed our home to the way we problem-solved Rudy’s care and now mine. It was as if God was saying to me on Thursday “Don’t worry. You’ve got this. I’m guiding and you’re listening and you have a team of wonderful people following your lead. Trust yourself. All shall be well.”
So, whenever I think I’m hearing from God I look for confirmation and then this happened the following morning:
The kids and I rolled in at 1am on our return from L.A. As a result, I was out of sync in my normal routine and extra tired the following morning…about 3 bites into my breakfast I began to choke. The boys jumped into gear and began our family’s choking protocol but this time it didn’t work and the blockage was not budging. Trying not to panic, I motioned to Max to pound on my back harder. The food shifted and my airway opened up but it was still lodged in my throat. It was really painful and I was unable to swallow my saliva. After a few attempts at trying other techniques with no luck, I told Wilson to call 911 figuring they’d have some quick and easy remedy. Three first responders arrived, assessed the situation and advised I be transported to the ER. I really didn’t want to go nor did I feel like the situation warranted an ambulance transport…if only we could get a good whack at just the right angle…I asked one of the first responders to try…he did so, lightly, but expressed concern over hurting me or making it worse. Understandable, but while Wilson answered the others’ questions regarding my general information, I turned to Max and asked him to give it another try…2 or 3 strong strikes later and I was free!! I leaned back with a deep breath and big smile just as the ambulance and EMTs arrived. Woo Hoo!!!! They checked my vital signs and left pretty quick after that.
Like I said to the boys afterwards, it was good that we called for help and had back up but ultimately we followed instinct, figured it out and got ‘er done! Yay us! Where was Olivia? Out on a long run. There will be future episodes for which she will be needed but this time God gave her a break and guarded her heart. Praise Him!
So, has all this translated into less frustration in the living out of the day to day? No. But, it is helping me connect the dots and not feel so lost…as have all your thoughtful comments and messages this past week. Thank you, friends! I welcome your insights and words of love always.
I apologize! This is an awful word and I don’t use it flippantly but ALS is an awful disease and sometimes it’s the only expression that satisfies. Ironically, it’s the only word I can still enunciate perfectly so there is twisted personal value for me in using it as well. 😉
Friends, I am in the midst of the toughest adjustment to date in the progression of this disease and it’s a hard hurdle to clear…I’ve lost practical use of my arms. I feel like I’m wearing cement sleeves and I can’t lift them anymore, my fingers are beginning to curl and I am no longer able to grip. As a result, my level of independence has plummeted and my level of frustration is skyrocketing.
I’ll spare you my long list of “things that frustrate” but the discouraging reality of losing my arm use is the seemingly endless domino effect of other issues that now need to be addressed…i.e. the threat of pressure sores and other skin issues because I can no longer adjust my position on my own or dehydration because I can’t lift a cup to drink so I’m not drinking as much throughout the day which leads to constipation, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. I saw my neurologist Monday and we added 4 new medications to my daily regimen to combat all the emerging issues (note – I can barely swallow the 2 meds I’m currently taking). I’ve definitely been in a consistent progression for the past year and a half but there is a convergence of critical symptoms happening right now that is all consuming…and chipping away at my quality of life. It’s time to make a trip to the GI to discuss a feeding tube; I have a breathing machine I’m supposed to wear 8 hours a day and can only tolerate 2 1/2; and pretty much everything requires more energy than I have. To top it all off, I can no longer eat my favorite comfort foods and retail therapy has lost its allure. (Insert blog title here!!!!) There just isn’t a whole lot in a typical day for me that is light hearted and easy.
I don’t share all this to be pitied but to show the crazy extremes because in God’s precious mercy, there has also been a convergence of encouragement from many sources lately that I’m holding onto tightly as lifelines…
For example, a friend from Boston sent me this song that speaks to my heartache: Click here
My 90+ year old friend emailed me a copy of a devotional she’s reading and this excerpt resonated with the singer in me:
“YourFather is training you for a part the angels cannot sing, and His conservatory is the school of sorrows. Others have said that He sends sorrow to test you, yet this is not the case. He sends* sorrow to educate you, thereby providing you with the proper training for His heavenly choir. (*Personal note: I take issue with “sends”. I prefer “uses”.)
In the darkest night He is composing your song. In the valley He is tuning your voice. In the storm clouds He is deepening your range. In the rain showers He is sweetening your melody. In the cold He is giving your notes expression. And as you pass at times from hope to fear. He is perfecting the message of your lyrics.
Oh dear soul, do not despise your school of sorrow. It is bestowing on you a unique part in the heavenly song. ” -George Matheson
Rolf forwarded me Richard Rohr’s daily meditation about my favorite – Julian of Norwich! Yay:
…and so much more. Thank you all. God is using you.
Please pray for a quick adjustment to new systems of living, for emotional strength and physical contentedness in my long, motionless days and fitful nights. ‘Grateful for you!!!
Rudy’s courtyard is coming along. Rolf and the kids spent most of Saturday replanting and refurbishing the planter…it turned out great. All we need is a hummingbird feeder in the tree to finish is off, I think. A big thank you to those of you who have sent in a gift!! What a sweet encouragement to our whole family. ‘Grateful for you!!!
Our attention toward and various celebrations of Wilson in recent weeks culminated at his commissioning into the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant Infantry Officer on Saturday. It was beautiful, sobering, full of hope & promise and overwhelming all at the same time…
“Wilson Geyling is from Goleta, California. He is graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in History and Humanities. He is branching Active Duty Infantry. He is being pinned by his parents, Rolf and Trish Geyling, his siblings, Max and Olivia Geyling, and, in spirit, by his youngest brother, Rudy Geyling, who sure would have been happy to be here today. May he rest in peace. CPL(R) Joe Zombrano, U.S. Marine Corps will now render 2LT Geyling his first salute.”
The following day, the veterans in our church prayed over Wilson. It was rich and sacred.
Will you join us in their prayer?
As if we hadn’t packed in enough goodness for one weekend, we tacked on a performance of Les Miserables at the Pantages in Hollywood. I’m so glad we got to see this together as a family…it’s one of my favorite productions.
I remember when I first saw Les Mis, I was deeply moved by the theme of redemption and love throughout the whole story but this time around, as I watched young Marius and his peers battle for freedom and reform, I cried the tears of a mother of a young soldier and sobbed at Jean Valjean’s prayer…
God on high Hear my prayer In my need You have always been there
He is young He’s afraid Let him rest Heaven blessed. Bring him home Bring him home Bring him home.
He’s like the son I might have known If God had granted me a son. The summers die One by one How soon they fly On and on And I am old And will be gone.
Bring him peace Bring him joy He is young He is only a boy
You can take
You can give Let him be Let him live
If I die, let me die Let him live Bring him home Bring him home Bring him home.
(Songwriters: Alain Boublil / Alain Albert Boublil / Claude Michel Schonberg / Herbert Kretzmer)
Oh! So moving! Almost too much for this tender heart of mine.
Here’s another link to the whole 10th anniversary concert performance online…by far my favorite cast.
Sandwiched in between all that was Rolf’s birthday…it seems fitting he spent his birthday investing in his family. I’m most grateful for the thousands of ways he invests in the children and influences their lives…critical thinking and humor are at the top of a very long list of attributes he is passing down. Happy Birthday Rolfi!
My heart is deeply touched by Rolf’s dear colleagues who launched a precious tribute today for our little boy! (I know, that’s a lot of descriptive verbiage but I’m excited.)
It is such an honor, I wanted to share it with you…
Naming rights are typically reserved for $100,000+ pledges. What a generous gesture for our Rudy. Oh, how he loved the time he spent at the rescue mission…especially the courtyard. We have asked you to participate in fundraisers for organizations like the American Heart Association and Camp del Corazon in Rudy’s honor over the years and our collective effort has raised over $60,000 for kids living with heart defects!! Amazing. We have one more opportunity to honor Rudy benefitting others in crisis. No obligation but if you feel moved to be a part of this tribute, you can click the link below OR print out the pledge card photo, fill it out and send it to 535 E. Yanonali St., SB, CA 93103! 🙂