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FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT

by Jennifer Timmons

My father, Earl Wallace Timmons was mainly a native of Norfolk until he met his beautiful and amazing wife Nancy where they settled and raised three children James, Carl, and Jennifer in Virginia Beach. He worked for the AAA of Tidewater, Director of Public affairs until he retired at 68. He did not stop living. He remained an active and conscientious senior in his post retirement years. He loved exercising at the YMCA and serving his community via his church, his masonic organizations, boy’s state (give boy’s a chance to learn how government works and develop leadership skills) and his wife Nancy by providing fun socials for her to attend throughout the year. Things all took a turn for the worse, when he woke up one day and realized “ I have a major headache and I cannot think as well as I used to plan my next week’s agenda.” As his next three years continued, my father never gave up the fight to live, to laugh, and to love his family and neighbors. He faced many health challenges where it was questionable if he would live or die, but he never let it break his spirit. His wife, family and friends rallied for him to help him to make it to the end of his race. He finally said “ I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith and I have finished the race.”

In March 2011, these health concerns lead to a diagnosis of a B cell Lymphoma- Brain Tumor in the central part of his brain. He was shocked just like his wife and three children to come to terms that his life would be shortened. His doctor from Norfolk General Radiology department sat my mother and I down and explained to us that these were his options to consider and his life expectancy would be 5-6 months without treatment or two –three years with the radiation therapy. His family was saddened by the news, however we considered the alternative and the possibility that he would make it for two –three more years with the radiation treatment. We all agreed to go this route and sure enough he did make it 2-3 years longer than his Dr. expected.

This decision turned out to have a really positive outcome until March 2012, when he ended up back in the hospital with chest problems. This lead to blood clots in his legs and his Dr. decided to put him on Coumadin. He had positive results to the Coumadin in the past, but this time was different. In the efforts to thin his blood clots in his legs, the Coumadin caused his gastric artery to burst and he ended up with a blood clot the size of a tennis ball in his abdomen. He had to undergo surgery to remove it and a wound vac to help him recover. Again, we were left with the decision is he going to live or die and mom decided to keep him on the aggressive treatment track and he recovered. A few months later, he ended up back in the hospital with C.O.P.D. problems and he needed to be resuscitated with a Bipap machine. The doctor came in and told us that he did not see my father making it through the next 24 hours and it was time to prepare him for comfort care measures. My mother and I were not ready to give up and we prayed and we waited and the next day my father was taken off the Bipap machine , he was awake, eating, talking with us and enjoying the life he had been given. He was able to leave the hospital. As time went on, my father did have to undergo rehab a couple of times and we visited with him in the nursing home and enjoyed many seasonal events together and special musical concerts.

In March 2013, my father was in the ICU unit at Norfolk and things were not looking very good for his life. He was becoming dependent on three IVs to enable his blood to pump properly and the concern came about that his body was beginning to prepare for the dying process. The doctor’s in the ICU did not give us much hope that he would recover, but they did allow for time to take its course. Again, we were confronted with the decision to place my father on comfort care or continue with aggressive treatments. We decided that “We only have one life and once it is over, that is it” as my mother always quoted as we were faced with life decisions. We decided together to give my father time to respond to the blood pressure IVs and sure enough after three weeks, my father was able to pump the blood on his own and he was sent back to the nursing home. He enjoyed time with his wife and daughter, saw his niece from California, visited with is sister weekly and he kept a good appetite. His two sons came or talked with him on the phone on occasion. He managed to live the best life he could until the first week in October when he laid down to sleep on Tuesday night and his body decided it was time to shut down. He remained in this state until Sunday morning while mom and I were in church saying our prayers for him, he went to be with Jesus. Again, mom was faced with the life or death decision to keep him alive on a ventilator or let him die in peace and since he could no longer talk with his family any more, she reluctantly had to let him peacefully go. She knew in her heart it was time. He lived a fulfilling life with his career, his precious memories with his family and friends and he knew his time had finally arrived to leave his loved ones behind to continue their good fight of faith. It is our hope that his life of faith and perseverance will inspire you to continue to live , laugh and fight for life because it is truly a gift from God.

Jennifer has been a caregiver for three years. She began to do this very important job for her Father Earl Wallace Timmons. She is now a caregiver for his wife, her mother, Nancy Timmons. Understanding that this job is the most difficult it is my desire to share this story of my father’s fight for his life and to share how the love of his wife and daughter walking beside him continually enabled him to keep on fighting the good fight to the end. I would like to continue to add stories of triumph and trials as I continue to care for my mother to help her to keep living and fighting even now that her husband is gone. Hopefully it will inspire you to remain faithful to your spouse or parent  no matter what the cost. God does honor our faithfulness to him.

Thank you, Jennifer for sharing your caregiver story.  

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If you would like to share a story from your caregiver experience please contact me via the form below.

Include the words request for submission guidelines and a one or two sentence description of the subject of the story in the comment section. I look forward to hearing from you.

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