A woman's got to know her limitations #3: Five "W's"

Limitation #3: KNOWLEDGE

The Latest Mystery

Who? Gary
What? Inhale...hold breath...exhale with rhythmic interruptions (like throat clearing, but not) with a pained expression and a spike in blood pressure
When? Mostly in the afternoon or evening and at bedtime...when fatigued, until he is sound asleep.
Where? Anywhere, but always when going to bed

I can answer all but one of the fact gathering journalism questions I learned in high school. 

Ultimately it's because Gary has Alzheimer's Disease, but as to WHY this particular symptom is happening, I'm in the dark.  Gary can't tell me what it feels like, or why he does this when he's tired.  

Not everyone with A.D. does this, and in fact neither of his Doctors have seen it before.  It seems to me that "why" is the most important question to ask, because if there is a physiological cause, perhaps we could remedy it, to make Gary more comfortable.  I understand that there are many, many symptoms of dementia that are unexplainable, but that doesn't take away my "quest" to understand this one.  His other behaviors don't seem to make him uncomfortable like this one does.  (Just try holding your breath for 10 seconds, and then let it out slowly in short bursts.  Carry on for 10-15 minutes, if you want to see how tiring it is.)  Once he falls asleep, he goes back to normal breathing the same as when he is awake and rested.  The only thing I've found that shorten's the time, is playing instrumental hymns.  I think his mind focuses on the tunes he is familiar with, and he breathes more normally and falls asleep. 

NOW, please...I'm not sharing all this to get everyone worried or send you all on a hunt for answers.  Gary's doctors say it's not cause for alarm and doesn't sound like sleep apnea, because he doesn't "gasp for air".  Even so, I sometimes have a hard time pulling myself away from Google in my search for information on this behavior.  It remains a mystery to me. That is the point of this post...many things in life are mysteries. 

This morning I was reading in Genesis 36-46 about Joseph. Here's what stood out to me in the narrative.
  •  Because of his brothers' jealousy and hatred, they nearly killed Joseph, and ended up selling him to some traders who took him to Egypt. KIDNAPPED!  SLAVERY!
  •  Next, he became the property of Potiphar, the captain of Pharoah's bodyguard.  But the Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man and trusted to be the overseer of all that Potiphar owned, but Potiphar's wife was chasing after Joseph.  When he rejected her sexual advances and  "fled" from her presence, she falsely accused him of rape.  This landed him in prison...unjustly.  FALSE IMPRISONMENT!
  • In prison, the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him.  Again, he was put in charge of things.  When a couple of Pharaoh's officials landed in jail too, Joseph helped them out by correctly interpreting their dreams, but when released instead of helping him in return, by reporting to Pharaoh, about Joseph's kidnapping and unjust imprisonment, he was FORGOTTEN!
Was Joseph a victim?  A dupe?  God's pawn?  There were many times when Joseph's tribulations could have logically ended...One brother wanted to rescue him, but didn't get there in time.    Potiphar should have believed Joseph, since he had proven his character already.  Pharaoh's official could have remembered Joseph's unjust imprisonment. What must Joseph have thought?  Did he doubt that God was hearing his prayers? 
  • Two years later, Pharaoh had a dream...It turns out that none of his "magicians" could interpret it, so that's when the official, who had been in prison with Joseph, remembered him and told Pharaoh that he knew a guy that could correctly interpret dreams.  TWO YEARS!
  • So, NOW Joseph is released to come interpret Pharaoh's dream which has incredible significance for the entire country of Egypt and the surrounding lands.  There would be 7 years of prosperity, followed by 7 years of famine.  Joseph's suggestions about managing the produce, landed him a position of authority in Egypt..."So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are.  Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See I have set you over all the land of Egypt."  STRATEGIC POSITION!
  • When the famine struck, Joseph's father, Jacob, back in Canaan, heard there was food in Egypt and sent his sons to buy some and bring it back.  Joseph of course recognizes his brothers, but they don't know him, and after a series of fascinating encounters, reveals himself to them, and brings his entire family to live in the best land of Egypt at Pharaoh's invitation. 
  • Joseph said to his brothers, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  No do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.  God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance, no therefore, it was not you who sent me here, BUT GOD..."
  • Even though the famine could have wiped out God's chosen people, the nation of Israel was preserved.  "Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous."  All because of a young guy being hated by his brothers.  
  • Years later after Joseph's father died, the brothers worried that Joseph would seek revenge.  His response to them was reassuring, and made an important point about God.  "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive."  Genesis 50:20 

There are times that God puts a limit on our understanding.  He is Creator.  I am created.  He has full knowledge about everything.  My knowledge is limited!  God did not "rescue" Joseph until the time was right...Pharaoh needed to have his dream.  Joseph needed to be in charge of the food during the famine.  God was at work saving the nation of Israel from destruction again.  He had promised to make a great nation of Jacob's descendants, and He was working out His plan.  I believe the providence of God is the greatest miracle of all.  God is using the "free will" choices of people every where to work out His plan, all the time.  When he was kidnapped, falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten, his knowledge of the plan was limited.  What a thrill it must have been for Joseph to at last see the plan unfolding.   

When I am unable to understand why Gary has strange behaviors, that seemingly make him uncomfortable, and I am not given the key to unlock them, I too am limited.   BUT!  I worship the exact same God that Joseph did.  He loves Gary, and He loves me.  I know that He is good and He is always at work. He may not reveal the details of His plan to me, but better yet, He reveals Himself through His word, and I see His character displayed in His care for us!  Of course I will continue to monitor Gary's latest symptoms, try to see what can be done to help him, and do what the Doctor's suggest, but I am not going to fret about them.  I know where this disease is headed, and so for those of you who love Jesus, I would ask for your prayers for Gary's comfort, and my peace.  Meanwhile, the narrative about Joseph, reminds me that the hand of God at work in the lives of men, God keeps His promises, gives us the strength to be faithful during trials and wants us to be closer to Him. My limited understanding of the "created", is the pathway to knowing the Creator.  This comforts me.

Paul prayed for the Colossian believers that they "would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for the attaining of steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."(Col. 1)  Sounds like Joseph, doesn't it?