Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blessings (Living With Cogan's Syndrome)

(Names of family members, now and forever, will remain as is)


March 14th:

 “So, you have another appointment today at Dr. Feldman’s office. I took the day off for it,” Sarah said.

“Yeah,” I responded, “I was thinking that—considering it could be a long visit—you should go do something for yourself. It’s going to be a nice day out, maybe you could go take a walk at the outdoor mall, and write in your journal a bit.”

“That actually sounds like a great idea! Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?”

“No, I’ll be fine. You’ll just be sitting in the waiting room for a long time anyway; you might as well do something enjoyable and relaxing.”

That is exactly what Sarah did. She may have also bought a shirt or two as well, but I couldn’t blame her. She had been through a lot these past couple of months and deserved something special. Besides, it didn’t hurt that the shirt looked really good on her.

I met solely with Kelly today who administered various tests to determine the severity of my balance issues as well as some more hearing tests. She and her assistant guided me slowly—taking into account my dizziness—into an examination room. They sat me in a chair and Kelly spoke.

“This is my assistant, Brad. He’ll be giving you some instructions today as well. I’ll be right back.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Hi, Max. I’m Brad,” he said, holding out his hand for me to shake.

“Hi, Brad,” I said. “So, are you going to make me hop up and down on one leg?”

“No,” Brad laughed, “we’re just going to do some simple tests with you sitting down.”

Kelly returned and came over to me.

“Okay, Max, I’m going to explain the first test.”

The tests took about an hour altogether. First they had me stare at a thin screen about four feet long that hung on the wall. A red dot appeared and bounced from spot to spot on the screen; or sometimes it slid across the screen in slow motion; or sometimes at a rapid pace. I was supposed to follow the dot with my eyes only, keeping my head completely still. This part wasn’t too bad, but I could tell that my eyes were all over the place. I was unable to focus on the moving object.

For the next examination, they made the chair recline all the way back so that it was as flat as a bed, though I was still sitting up. They held onto me and then in one swift movement, pulled the upper half of my body all the way back and turned my head to the left so that it was now touching the pillow they had placed at the head of the bead. When my head hit the pillow, I was supposed to stare at a specific spot on the wall. Kelly and Brad repeated this test a few times until it was time to turn my head to the right side.

The final balance test consisted of me laying down with my body to the right and then to the left.  At opposite times they blew warm or cold air into both of my ears and had me go through the alphabet using girl names, or boy names, or cities and states. This, surprisingly, was the most difficult test. By the end of it I was hardly able to stand. It took me a few minutes and two cups of water to regain some focus and move on to the hearing tests—which were the same ones that had been administered a couple of days ago.

Sarah picked me up a couple of hours after she had dropped me off and we got some lunch. While eating a delicious burrito, my brother, Gideon, called. This was actually the first time I had spoken with him since all of my problems began. He wanted to see how I was doing and how Sarah was doing. He asked about my tests and that we keep him updated. Gideon told me that he admires how well I have been handling everything and that he is really proud of me. Hearing that—from my older brother—made my day. It truly was great to hear from him, and to know that he and his wife are thinking about me.

Tonight, Sarah’s sisters, Kim and Christin, along with their husbands, Lukas and Matt, came over and helped Sarah clean the apartment. With my incapacitated state and all that Sarah has had to do as of late, our apartment hadn’t been fully cleaned in months. The girls cleaned our bedroom—which was the biggest disaster of all—while the guys cleaned the kitchen, the living room and the guest room. What a kindness it was to have them give up their time and selflessly invest themselves in our well-being!

God has been so good through all of this. Sarah and I have been trusting that He has a plan for us, even though it has been hard at times not knowing what the future might bring. But we keep being reminded that He is in control. Blessings flow from His hands.

On March 12th, the day we got back from our first meeting with Dr. Feldman, there was a letter in the mail addressed to “Max and Sarah Pfeffer.” It was from by oldest brother Casey and his wife, Sarah (I know, two Sarah Pfeffers—who would have guessed?). When we got upstairs, I forgot about it initially and went to the couch to begin reading. Sarah walked over to me several minutes later with wet eyes. She grabbed the book out of my hand, placed it gently on the coffee table and replaced it with the letter. I looked at her knowing face and sensed that there was something powerful at work. The letter was a full page and was in Casey’s handwriting.  Casey and I haven’t always done the best at staying in touch since he moved to California about six years ago.  Seeing the effort he put into this despite of his busy schedule was a gift in and of itself.  The letter described how much they are praying for us and love us. They told us about the financial struggles they had had in the past, but how God has been providing for them lately and they’ve been doing really well. They felt the need to give back and had been praying for a long time about to what or whom they should give.  It was tenderly expressed that there was no doubt in their minds that the money belonged to us.

I finished reading the letter and looked at the check. My eyes widened and tears immediately fell. Not only did we not ask or expect anything at all, but it was an extremely generous gift. Sarah and I held each other—my arms around her back, her chin on my shoulder; we wouldn’t let go. We remained as one, thanking God for his provisions. I haven’t been to work in weeks, and I have no idea when I will be able to return, but this will surely help for a little while.


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