Saturday, August 2, 2008

Okay

Yesterday, I strolled the little Love Nugget into Katherine’s room around lunchtime. She looked smaller, diminished somehow. The bed was in the ‘sitting’ position, but she had sunk down in the middle, shrunk up into a little ball. Her eyes were red and her lips were slightly swollen. It reminded me of how she looked in the aftermath of some perceived childhood injustice. “Did you hear?” she (mostly) mouthed a little sheepishly. “I failed.” “What?”I asked. “The test. I failed the test, Mom.”

Those are words I have heard very rarely coming from that particular pair of lips.

The test in question was the swallowing test, which was conducted just before the procedure on her vocal cord. It revealed that we still have a long way to go.

“Have you been crying?” I asked, stating the obvious in order to get some processing going. “Yeah. A little. Dad, too.” Prior to this past year, I had witnessed my husband of 32 years cry on only 5 or 6 occasions. (Everyone’s getting better at it now....although I, for one, have never had a problem with it.) “Dad, too?” I echoed. “Yeah, ‘cause I was.” Then Katherine looked at me intently through her red and blue eye. “But I’m okay. I'm okay. I cried, but I’m okay.”

Last week we had a similar experience. Jay, his mother, Mary Ruth, and I were invited to attend the rehab staff meeting. Although we were very glad to hear positive reports from the speech, physical, and occupational therapists, I voiced some concern that we had never really had an opportunity to sit down with a doctor and get the Brain 101 course. We had learned things in bits and pieces from various sources. I said that I thought it would be valuable to have someone start at the beginning and fill in all the blanks. The staff agreed that this would be a good idea, and that we would work towards setting up a time when the main family members could all be present for it. But Katherine and I were alone in the room when Dr. R. came by later. He told me that my request had been passed on to him, and that either he or another doctor would be happy to sit down with the family and thoroughly explain exactly what had happened to Katherine and what the consequences of that were likely to be. I turned to Katherine, “I know you must have some questions you’d like to ask, too.” “Yes,” she addressed Dr. R., “My ear...can’t hear....my face....can’t feel...why??” Suddenly we found ourselves getting a lot more information than we were prepared to get. I felt a flutter of panic rising as medical “facts” started flying in our faces, knocking the wind out of us: Katherine’s surgery had been incredibly difficult. It was a remarkable feat that her life had been saved, but certain “sacrifices” had to be made in order to accomplish that. “Sacrifices” involving cranial nerves 7, 8, 9, and 10, as well as parts of The Brain Itself. Because of these “facts,” the deafness in Katherine’s right ear will be permanent. Her facial paralysis and other symptoms (such as the impaired swallowing mechanism) related to the affected nerves will be “persistent.”

Sometimes ignorance is bliss...or at least comfort food.

As soon as Dr. R. left, Katherine and I stared at each other with the drop-jawed, eye-rolling, incredulous, are-you-believing-this-junk expression. “Mom. Mom, how am I supposed to model if I can’t move my face?" (i.e., “Does this mean the bill-paying livelihood has been jeopardized???”)

We kept staring at each other for a few stunned seconds of silence. I cleared my throat. I started in on a speech about God’s Plan B. I talked about how He probably had something FAR better for her to do...how He had already used what had happened to her for unbelievable good...how people’s lives were being...

She interrupted me.

"Mom. I’m okay.

I'm okay, Mom. I'm okay.”

In spite of fear, disappointment, questioning...in spite of deaf ears and frozen faces and broken bodies and broken hearts...it’s okay.

Katherine

Arnold

Wolf

is

OKAY.

After she reassured me by reiterating that yesterday, she gestured towards the designated ‘Nugget’ and said, “Now hand him to me.” I lifted her chunky little monkey out of the stroller and into her arms.


***************

“...Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.” (Horatio Spafford)

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body”
(II Cor. 4:8-10)

13 comments:

plilr said...

We all love you, Katherine, Kim, Jay, James, Brooks and everyone else in the family. What seems like a giant mountain right now will look much smaller after time passes and you are able to look back on this moment.

And Katherine, I've modeled with you before--you will model again. I know this. Concentrate on your rehabilitation and don't worry about that right now--if I have learned anything about my time out here, it's that you can always pick it back up, regardless of how long you have been away from it. Just like everyone is helping you figure this stuff out now, when the time comes for you to get back into modeling and acting, all of us will be here to help you figure that stuff out too.

Keep fighting, girlfriend. You're doing great and don't you dare think otherwise!

Much love,

Desiree

michelle said...

Be strong Katherine and wait for the Lord. You and your family are in my prayers. I know it is easier said than done. But, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. God bless you!

Love In Christ,
Michelle

Beth said...

Katherine -
You are such a light of truth and strength. I have admired your spark and joy from the moment I met you. Now, even from that hospital, you are shining and fighting - just like we knew you would. Your entire journey, although painful and difficult, is one you are traveling with so many. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers...we are seeing God's grace in your healing, his peace from how you are responding to your trials, and his love in that you are being carried through it all. Hang in there. God has a special plan for you, my friend...

Linda Abney said...

Dear Katherine and Kim,
As I read your blog last night my heart ached for you but the word "courage" kept coming to my mind. Katherine, you have exhibited so much courage in the past three months. The whole world has been amazed at your courage. And, the Lord has been exalted by your courage and faith. When you say "I'm o.k."
it's just another example of your courage shining through. There are so many times in the scriptures that it says,"Be strong and of good courage." Psalm 27:14 says,"Wait for the LORD; Be strong , and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD." And, Psalm 28 has some other encouraging words. Vs. 6-9 says," Blessed be the LORD, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. The Lord is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed. Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever." You are his anointed. He in carrying you today and always.
You are in our prayers.
The Abneys

marceathephotogirl said...

Dear Katherine's Mom,

I am one of the people you describe in the sideline of your blog, who doesn't know you. I stumbled onto your blog through a friend from High School, who knows Katherine. I love to read blogs, and I have a blog myself. I have been reading your blog off and on for the past month or so. I found myself drawn to your family's struggle, and your frankness, honesty and I love the way you write, it is beautiful, so full of real transparency and love. While I realize that what I might write to you would be the same sounding "things will get better", "God is in control", "it will all work out" kind of sentiment. I wanted to encourage you with the Grandness, the height the depth of God's grace, His mercy, His Love, His bottomless well of Life. I read this yesterday on my way to church, I was struck by the the BIG-ness of God! When we worship the LORD of the Heavens and Earth, when we bow before the throne of the Almighty God, the impossible somehow becomes possible. May the WORD of the LORD encourage, strengthen and empower when need be, (read aloud) While I do not know you or your family, we are related through our adoption into the family of the Living God. Please know you have been in my thoughts and prayers.

Isaiah chapter 40:12-31

Who has measured the oceans in the palm of his hand?
Who has used his hand to measure the sky?
Who has used a bowl to measure all the dust of the earth
and scales to weigh the mountains and hills?
13 Who has known the mind of the Lord
or been able to give him advice?
14 Whom did he ask for help?
Who taught him the right way?
Who taught him knowledge
and showed him the way to understanding?

15 The nations are like one small drop in a bucket;
they are no more than the dust on his measuring scales.
To him the islands are no more than fine dust on his scales.
16 All the trees in Lebanon are not enough for the altar fires,
and all the animals in Lebanon are not enough for burnt offerings.
17 Compared to the Lord all the nations are worth nothing;
to him they are less than nothing.

18 Can you compare God to anything?
Can you compare him to an image of anything?
19 An idol is formed by a craftsman,
and a goldsmith covers it with gold
and makes silver chains for it.
20 A poor person cannot buy those expensive statues,
so he finds a tree that will not rot.
Then he finds a skilled craftsman
to make it into an idol that will not fall over.

21 Surely you know. Surely you have heard.
Surely from the beginning someone told you.
Surely you understand how the earth was created.
22 God sits on his throne above the circle of the earth,
and compared to him, people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the skies like a piece of cloth
and spreads them out like a tent to sit under.
23 He makes rulers unimportant
and the judges of this world worth nothing.
24 They are like plants that are placed in the ground,
like seeds that are planted.
As soon as they begin to grow strong,
he blows on them and they die,
and the wind blows them away like chaff.

25 God, the Holy One, says, "Can you compare me to anyone?
Is anyone equal to me?"
26 Look up to the skies.
Who created all these stars?
He leads out the army of heaven one by one
and calls all the stars by name.
Because he is strong and powerful,
not one of them is missing.

27 People of Jacob, why do you complain?
People of Israel, why do you say,
"The Lord does not see what happens to me;
he does not care if I am treated fairly"?
28 Surely you know.
Surely you have heard.
The Lord is the God who lives forever,
who created all the world.
He does not become tired or need to rest.
No one can understand how great his wisdom is.
29 He gives strength to those who are tired
and more power to those who are weak.
30 Even children become tired and need to rest,
and young people trip and fall.
31 But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again.
They will rise up as an eagle in the sky;
they will run and not need rest;
they will walk and not become tired.

courtknee421 said...

As I read the excerpt on the reality of Katherine's diagnonsis, Luke 1:37 kept arising in my mind: "Nothing is impossible with God." As I looked up the Amplified version of this verse, it says: "For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment." The power of prayer is inexplicable and God is working in a mysterious way, but the good work He has started is not yet completed.
A promise of God for Katherine can be read in Habakkuk 2: 2-3 "Write the vision down on a banner so it is clear and a runner can see it. For the vision is for an appointed time (a future time). It describes the end and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently. Slowly, steadily, surely the vision will come to pass. It will not be delayed." Sweet Katherine is a miracle and she has touched my life and found a special place in my heart - yet, I've never met her. This tender 'Katherine-spot' that I have tells me that restoration and healing are being divinely worked out through the Holy Spirit. I pray that she would not get dismayed as she continues to run the race and fight the good fight, she has many people in the crowd cheering her on but there are still hurdles, mountains and valleys that have yet to be crossed. As we pray, encourage and interceed for Katherine, she is going to overcome these battles - not in her own strength, but in God's strength. Though the problems appear to be insurmountable, she is slowly but steadily progressing towards the finish line. Like a parent holds their childs hands as they learn to walk, Katherine's heavenly Father will do the same; He will not let her fall and He will not let her fail. He has brought her thus far, only to lead her into brighter new beginnings. He is there every step of the way and His love and compassion is great. I pray that strength and peace would fall so strongly upon her, along with a blessed assurance that if she can stand the pull, God will pull her through!

Courtney

Brittany said...

Dear Kat-
My words fail me as I read this latest account.
You are more amazing than I already thought you were.......
Brittany Wood Bolemon

Jennifer said...

Mrs. Arnold and Katherine,
I am one of the many readers who you never thought would read your blog, but do. I heard Katherine's story through my sister, Elizabeth, who went to school with Jay in Montgomery. I wanted to write to let you both know what an impact this story has had on my life, my sister's life and my mom's life. We empathize. We are close just like ya'll. I have a precious baby boy who was born in October so he is just about James' age. You have reminded us that life is so precious. You have reminded me what an incredible love our Lord has for us. Your entire family's faith just leaves me speechless and inspires me. You are all just so incredible I cannot even put it into words! And through all this you are inspiring everyone else!
We will probably never meet face to face but you have become part of my everyday life as I check for updates and pray for you all. And Mrs. Arnold, please publish this blog! It is my daily devotional! Katherine, continue to be strong. You will come through this.
Many prayers,
Jennifer Pemberton Fields

Nissa said...

Dear Kim, Katherine, and family...

I sit crying, yet again, reading your beautifully poignant blog. I've only written one other time in response to your blog, yet I read it faithfully. I know Katherine through Young Marrieds, but am stuck in Florida at the moment. I just wanted to drop a small note to remind you all that God will FULLY restore Katherine. I know medical "facts" can be hard to hear and devastating to one's faith at times, but miracles wouldn't be miracles if they were expected. Some of these things have to be medically impossible for God's glory to be shown in the miraculous healing He is doing in Katherine. I have felt soooo frustrated not being able to bring meals and do other things for you all, but I have been and will continue to pray until Katherine is fully restored. She WILL be FULLY restored. So rest in "okay" for now, but look forward to more miracles because they are coming!!! May God bless you with His unbelievable peace in the meantime. I love you all -

Nissa Prizzi

Kathy Bangle said...

Katherine and Kim - YOU ARE THE BEST MODELS I HAVE SEEN (OR EVEN READ)! Thank you for your beauty of courage, faith and endurance. Your Light shines so brightly to so many. Now I truly know that modeling is hard work - thanks for meeting the challenge.

Smile Girls! You are true beauties.

I love you - Kathy

Andrea said...

Dear Kim,

I have never met you and I know Katherine from Bel Air Church. I know her face, her name and have spoken to her a few times. I have volunteered with Katherine in the nursery once (we have a 16month old) and she just seems like an amazing person. I have been following your story, journey and praying for Katherine and your family since this began in April. Even though I don't know Katherine personally, I have been deeply affected by her condition and the miraculous recovery she is making.I am humbled when I hear your heart and read about Katherine's confidence in our GREAT Physician, our Lord Jesus.

I just wanted to write you to let you know that your daughter is very close to my heart right now, more than ever.What the Lord has done in her life is a miracle in the making. The story of your family has prepared my own heart and spirit for what would happen in my own life.

After following Katherine's story for the past 3.5 months, I found myself at the neurologist last week...with one symptom (a sound in my right ear that I've had for two years). I was diagnosed on Friday as a cerebral AVM on and only knew of this vascular malformations because I so closely have followed and prayed for Katherine.

I am being treated at UCLA by Dr. Gonzalez and I will begin the process of angiograms, embolization and most likely a surgery next week. I am scared, terrified actually...but I have a holy confidence that I don't know the future...but I know WHO HOLDS the future. I know that this is more about HIM and less about me...

So, thank you Kim and Katherine for sharing your journey and story with the world. God has already used you in my life and I'm just one person...

I will continue to pray for Katherine's complete healing and recovery. I look forward to the day when I can really get to know Katherine and when we can volunteer together in the nursery again!!!

Proverbs 3:5-6

All my love and prayers,
Andrea Petsche
andreapetsche@gmail.com

Ginny Evans said...

Katherine, you are probably the greatest model this world has ever seen. You have been a model patient, a model fighter, a model Faith builder, a model of what God would want us all to be.........And then there is a Beautiful model who walks down a runway and if that is your desire, you will attain it! Look what God has done, is doing and will continue to do in and through you!! This world has never seen such courage, such faith, such perserverance. You are a Model Katherine and one of the best!!! Continue to be strong, work hard and wait upon the Lord. He has great and mighty things for you!!

Kathy Smith said...

Kim and Katherine,
I am continually inspired by Katherine's courage and your gift of writing.

From the wee hours of the morning to any time of day, our Dear Sweet Lord brings Katherine before my eyes and it is my great pleasure to pray for her. I have a clock set to California time, I call it the prayer clock. It was previously set to Iraqi time when my son was over there, now it is dedicated for Katherine (and all the Wolf and Arnold family members).

Here is a scripture I have posted in the house. "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13. Keep fighting!

Much love to all!

Kathy Smith in Athens