The clan is rebounding from the siege! Once again, God has pulled us from the muck! He does not let us roll around in the muck for very long. (I don't know what we would do if He forgot about us, but He never does!) Like the phoenix bird, the Clan is arising from the fire and ashes!
Actually, I don't think Shane and Lemony have worried very much. Perhaps Lemony more so than Shane because Shane has been a clan member all of his life and knows that once things burn down, they get built again and much more beautifully. While he is not counting his chickens before they hatch and is continuing his job search, the supervisor at the local office of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) told him that she had an opening and asked if he wanted it. It is less pay than he has been receiving as a suprvisor, but it will cover (just barely) his bills and, more important, provide health insurance. He was able to get COBRA, but the $850 monthly fee was out of his reach while on unemployment insurance, so Donnie and I have been paying it. It is a stretch for us, too, so we are happy that there will be an alternative. Even without a job, Nikolina will qualify for a state family insurance plan that is a much cheaper alternative to COBRA in April, when she turns a year old. (Yes! She will have lived an entire year that all but one doctor thought would be possible. Now there is no question that she will live; the only question is how well, and the answer to that appears to get better every day.) Although the salary at CHP is low, which is why Shane left earlier, the benefits are great, and he will be able, with time, to move over into the technology side of the house, where the benefits are better although we are not in a hurry for that because it would require relocation to another part of California, there being little need for tech specialists locally. Shane will need to re-pass his security clearance. He has been placed on the fast track to get it done as quickly as possible, and since he had one earlier and had one until he was terminated from his previous job, it will hopefully not take long. We expect an answer in April and are trusting that the answer will be yes. (So is CHP!)
Since there is only so much time that can be spent on job searches, Shane has used this intervening period to spend more time with his family, especially with Nathaniel who has missed out on a lot of parent time during Nikolina's various surgeries and hospitalizations. (Of course, Nathaniel has learned a lot about medicine this past year, but all of us would have given up that "education" had it been possible.)
So, in recent days, Shane took Nathaniel spelunking in the Pinnacles National Monument which is near to us in this part of California. There are a number of small, natural caves there, as well as walks up and down the rock formations in the hills. That was more education, but of a very different kind and much more pleasant to learn!
Following the spelunking experience, the whole family headed to Disneyland in Anaheim. Shane likes to take the kid(s) there every other year or so. For Nikolina, this was a first-time experience, and she apparently got quite involved with some of the exhibits, laughing at some, crying at others, and not particularly predictably. I am happy that I have been able to give Shane a few dollars each week to supplement his unemployment so that the family, while significantly tightening its belt, can have some breaks from the stress of unemployment, job searching, and health problems. I had been helping Lizzie pay off the surgery that Princesse, her cat, went through last fall after being flattened by a falling bed, but Lizzie said that Shane needed the dollars more than she did. So, I diverted them.
This past week, Shane and family traveled north to San Francisco to the weekend Chinatown parade and festivities that they attend every year. Lemony began the traditional 11 years ago, right after she and Shane married. Then, along came Nathaniel, and he was introduced to the tradition. Nathaniel really likes Chinese culture and food, and has a few Chinese outfits that he wears for special occasions, such as this one. For Shane and family, the weekend was good entertainment, away from the concerns of regular daily life, and fortunately they could keep up the tradition this year. (Shane is like me. He does not worry about things over which he has no control and just goes on living as if nothing had happened. Of course, it helps that whenever we head over a cliff, God always hands us a parachute.)
One great parachute has been Stanford's reaction to Shane's situation. The financial aid office unsuccessfully sought ways to help him with the COBRA situation or alternative insurance but could not. I guess they felt bad about that, so they offered to help him in a way that they could: they offered to his share of Nikolina's medical bills to date and from here on out. Obviously, Shane accepted that offer with a big smile and big thank-you. I think that they felt good about doing this. People, even institutions, really can be kind and generous. We hear a lot about stingy hospitals and unhelpful service representatives. We don't hear often about the opposite, so when it happens one should shout and share! Thank you, Stanford University Hospital!
There have been many positive results from Shane's job termination. Friends and former colleagues have rallied. The latter have rallied so strongly that perhaps it won't happen to someone else. Even the union got involved in spite of the fact that Shane is management and not rank-and-file. No one should lose a job because they have a baby in the kind of difficulty that Nikolina experienced, fighting for her life. It is enough to fight for your child's life. You should not also have to fight for your job. I think this is a topic that Shane, once re-employed, will follow up on, trying to get some policies changed.
Family also rallied. Clan members called more frequently, offering emotional support. Katrina, my sister, who is a specialist in student placements, helped Shane rework his resume. I, of course, provided dollars -- more than I otherwise could have, thanks to Lizzie giving up her dollars.
Former colleagues, acquaintances, and friends jumped on the bandwagon, helping Shane search for job possibilities. It was through this network that the CHP office heard that Shane was looking for work and contacted him.
As for Noelle, she, too, has had some better news recently. Her left leg is responding to new treatment and will not need either surgery or amputation. Her right leg is more recalcitrant; however, the new doc in town is hopeful that he can avoid amputation through some experimental surgery -- and now the right leg, while the surgery is still being planned, has started to improve, too. Yes, up from the ashes!!
Never give up! Never despair! God will find a way! That is the Mahlou clan's story over and over again. It is also the story of many clans I have encountered. I almost welcome these kinds of difficulties just to see what God will do next. As Shane said when he was terminated, "It will be interesting to see what better things are in store now."